Former TBWA Creative Director Says Apple's Awesome Advertising Died With Steve Jobs

Ken Segall, who worked on the Apple account while at TBWA/Chiat/Day, thinks a Job-less Apple has "lost its ad bite." Speaking to the The Australian, Segall said, “I feel that Apple is acting a lot like a big company now when it comes to marketing, and a lot of their recent efforts show that. Their iPad advertising is more like, ‘People all around the world are using the iPad to do amazing things.’ That may be true and that may be impressive, but people aren’t buzzing about their commercials.’’ And why is this happening? Segall goes on to say, “My sense is that they are starting to behave more like a typical large company when it comes to advertising. There seems to be plenty of competition, with a number of creative teams working on things -- the best team wins sort of thing. That isn’t the way Steve worked. He worked with a small group of people at our agency and if he didn’t like something we would do something else. We lived and breathed it and worked around the clock till it was right.’’

Has the current advertising landscape got you down? Do you hate that every friggin' brand wants to be your friend? Do you feel like a good ad campaign now consists of a Hyperlapse video posted to Vine and Instagram and then embedded in a blog post which, itself, is then posted to Facebook and tweeted out to a brand's followers who are asked to retweet that tweet and Like the brand's Facebook page so they can be entered into a contest that will award them Klout points if only they send in the best Snapchat of the brand's product? Well, Tomorrow Group CEO Tom Goodwin feels your pain. Writing in the Guardian, Goodwin says: "We’ve created the long tail of marketing, where each campaign has ever smaller budgets, ever shorter lifespans, diminishing aims, all so wonderfully cheap in execution, so wonderfully proficient in terms of outputs, but so entirely pointless. It’s this maintaining excitement for a Twitter feed of 4,000 people, or keeping the 500 subscribers on YouTube happy that is the marketing of our time. It may be cheap, but it’s a pointless distraction and it’s not solving any of the problems that are keeping our clients up at night." Amen, brother.

So, of course you've heard of ad:tech, right? That conference that is sort of the mother of all ad conferences? Trouble is, it's become so big and so unwieldy that perhaps it's lost its way. But on the upside, it appears the show runners realize that and are applying a fix. That fix comes in the form of PAN Communications, a PR firm ad:tech has hired to, as the press release explains, "increase show engagement with attendees, elevating brand awareness to potential audiences and strengthening relationships with core media." And in addition, "develop sharable content, manage social channels, and build out media and influencer relations in correlation with upcoming events in New York City and San Francisco." Will PAN succeed? We certainly hope they do.

And if things weren't already bad enough for ad agencies, brands are shifting away from agency trading desks for their programmatic buying needs and shifting that business over to independent specialists. According to a new report from the World Federation of Advertisers brands' usage of agency trading desks has declined from 81% percent in 2013 to 69% percent in 2014. On the flip side, usage of independent trading desks or demand-side providers has increased from 8% in 2013 to 29% in 2014. Better get your acts together, agencies.

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  • This Agency's Santa App Aims to Bring Christmas Magic to Children

    Agencies, it seems, are really amping up their holiday card efforts this year with many going the mobile route. Spanish agency Shakleton Group has developed SantApp, a mobile app which creates the illusion that Father Christmas or the Three Kings are moving around in one's living room to enchant the little ones. To get it to work, you enter the name of the child or children, place the phone in the room with the presents, close the door, turn off the lights.

    According to Juan Silva, executive creative director at Shackleton: “People say that technology is robbing children of their innocence. We believe that, for once, we are actually helping to give it back to them.” That's all well and good -- but a video explaining the app leads on to believe all it does is play various Santa voice and flash light. But, hey, sometimes that's all kids need.

  • AKQA Creates Awesome 3D Snowglobe For Your Phone

    AKQA decided to go mobile with its holiday card this year. The agency has introduced Winterlands, a mobile messaging site that lets you send this season’s greetings in a 3D snow globe experience.

    If you visit snow.akqa.com on any mobile device running iOS 8+ or Android 4.3.3+ and choose one of the snowscapes and write your personal message that when opened by a recipient will reveal a message inside a virtual snow globe. And shaking the phone will make it snow. The experience is really quite cool and makes use of the phone's gyroscope and accelerometer.

    Winterlands launches with one wintery and five city-inspired snowscapes including London, Paris, Portland, Tokyo and Washington DC, more cities to be added in the coming days. So grab your phone, head over to the Web site, create your own snow globe extravaganza and shoot it over to a friend.

  • Creative Agency Wants To Know Whether Or Not You Eat Reindeer

    Hanson Dodge Creative has stepped up the holiday card/video/charity thingamajiga with the launch of Global Gift Project, Inc. Its mission is to bring complete joy and wonderment to every child in the world by providing each child with a gift. And the agency is asking for the industry's help.

    Explaining the efforts, the Web site reads: "Trying to give a gift to every single one of them [kids] is really freaking difficult. And it gets harder every year. That's why we've started our ‘Yes, I'm Officially Representing Santa, He's Real and Gave Me the Power to Give You a Gift’ Team. We call it Team "YIORSHRGMPGYG" for short." YIORSHRGMPGYG aims to entrust the non-elven population with the power of good ol' Santa Claus and empowers people to become official members of the Global Gift Project Team.”

    If you click the Apply Now button, you are whisked away to a virtual human resources department where Helen will administer an interview to see if you're up to holiday snuff. The choose-your-own adventure-style questions begin simply enough and then progress to such oddities as how crying babies make you feel and whether or not you like to eat reindeer. It's amusing enough to click all the way through at which time you can download your YIORSHRGMPGYG membership card.

  • Study Predicts Increased Creative Hires in 2015

    Well, here's some good news regarding the outlook for 2015. The Creative Group is out with a piece of research that takes a look at what 2015 has in store in terms of employment. According to the research, one-third of advertising and marketing professionals plan to expand their creative teams in the first half of 2015. That's up 21 percent from six months ago.

    In addition, 56% plan to maintain their current level of staffing within their organizations with just 5% planning to freeze hiring. Forty-one percent of advertising and marketing executives noted that it is challenging to find creative professionals today and hiring managers at large advertising agencies expect the greatest difficulty, with 59% of respondents reporting it will be somewhat or very challenging.

    In terms of the areas which marketing organizations plan to expand, web design/production, social media, content marketing and brand/product management top the list. The Creative Group has produced an infographic summarizing this outlook with addition data points as well. You can access that here.

  • MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER Solves Oxford Comma Conundrum With Browser Bookmark-Let

    In an ingenious, holiday-themed effort designed to call attention to the importance of the Oxford comma in certain situations, San Francisco-based MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER has launched a browser bookmark-let that will automagically add missing Oxford commas.

    A video accompanies the effort with clear examples as to why you really should employ the Oxford comma at times. The video says "Missing Oxford commas ruins Christmas." It then cites some unintended results such as "I was shopping for your Christmas presents, toilet paper and prunes," "We went caroling with our dogs, grandma and grandpa" and "Merry Christmas from your parents, Santa and Rudolph." Images accompany the statements to illustrate just how wrong those sentences are without the Oxford comma.

    So if you're ever confused as to whether or not the Oxford comma is necessary, you can recall the awkward examples given in the video.
  • Deep Focus Pays Homage to Classic Console Games With Holiday Charity Effort

    Like the holidays? Like games? Then Deep Focus has something you might like. The agency has developed an old school interactive game called #DeepSnow. The agency developed it from scratch using Google Maps, HTML5, WebSockets, SASS, OpenLayers, and custom animations.

    The aim of the game is to steer a snow plow through the streets of New York City and rescue Deep Focus employees and toys spilt by Santa from the grasps of a winter snowpocalypse. In tandem with the web experience, players use their mobile device as a game controller. Data from the phone’s gyroscope is used to power the steering wheel for the snowplow as it maneuvers around angry Yetis and actual NYC landmarks on the computer screen.

    And, of course, there's a charity element to the game. Because, after all, agencies need to somehow make up for their self-centered, egotistical outlook on life they vamp the rest of the year. Virtual points earned during game play will be turned into physical toys donated to Toy For Tots.

  • Digitas Health Turns Mundane Holiday Card Into Charity Extravaganza

    Oh the agency holiday card. Yawn. Oh wait, not yawn! Some agencies actually put some thought into the mundane annual event. One such agency is Digitas Health LifeBrands which has come up with something a little more meaningful. The agency has launched HUG, a social media campaign which aims to generate awareness of charities and provide a monetary donation from the agency to charities which are nominated by employees.

    In its fifth year, the program involves employees from the New York, Philadelphia, London, and San Francisco offices who have nominated 24 charities to compete to win money. Each week visitors to the Group HUG Facebook page will vote for their favorite charity  by “liking” and “sharing” the logos from the charities. At the end of the campaign, which runs through the end of December, there will be four winning charities.

    Check out the Group HUG video trailer here and be sure to visit the Group HUG Facebook page to vote for your favorite charity. After all, what better way to celebrate the season of giving than with a nice big Group HUG?
  • Ogilvy Pitches Christmas to Focus Group Which Interprets Santa As Pedophilic Rapist

    What if you had to pitch Christmas to a focus group? As we all know, focus groups are a disastrous means of coming to consensus on anything. And that's pretty much what happens in this video created by Ogilvy & Mather Paris.

    After explaining some of the elements of Christmas such as a fat old man with a big beard, a little girl asks, "Why do I have to sit on his lap?" Just let that one sink in for a minute. Ick. Another woman offers up, "You know who else sneaks into your house through the chimney? Rapists." Ouch! This isn't going well.

    The confusion continues with focus group members wondering why Christmas is proposed to be in December instead of the much warmer August. And why the fat guy gets all the credit when he doesn't even buy all the gifts. One panelist even claimed proposed Christmas carols make him feel horny. No, not going well at all. And let's not even get into New Year's Eve.

  • Dick Rich, Co-Founder of Wells Rich Green Dead At 84

    Copywriting legend Dick Rich passed away from a heart attack on November 1. He was 84. His daughter, Karen Rich, made his death known last week. Rich, along with Mary Wells and Rich Greene, was one of the founders of the storied Wells Rich Green ad agency and creator of classic 60's work for Alka-Seltzer and Benson & Hedges. 

    He was known for his confident approach to his work telling The New York Times in 1983: “Clients don’t come to me for O.K. advertising. They come to me for great, great advertising.”

    A real man’s man who will be missed.

  • Starcom Just Screamed 'Oh Sh*t!'

    Looking to consolidate its global media planning business with one agency, Mars has handed its $1,7 billion account to MediaCom after a review. In a review that included WPP, MediaCom ousted incumbent Starcom, which was one of 8 agencies handling a (substantial) slice of that $1.7 billion. 

    Of the account shift, a Mars statement read: "With the constant change in the media landscape, this model will allow us to better collaborate across our global business to drive efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination in our media planning. This change brings our planning model in line with our existing global creative agency structure, and will allow us to further focus media as a growth driver."

    The account has been with Starcom since 2010. Just a couple of months ago, Starcom lost the planning portion of the $575 million Anheuser-Busch InBev. It's a sad week for sure for the media-buying shop.
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