strategy

Goodby: Forget :30 Spots, Write It On The House

Jeff Goodby's Poem House Speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' Agency/Client Forum in New York on Thursday, Jeff Goodby mentioned that client Pepsi soon will launch a Twitter-centered campaign.

"Twitter is enormously useful because people pass things along so quickly," he said. "[Tweets] just take off. And people have not used that yet to a degree that we will." He declined to elaborate.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, of which Goodby is chairman and co-founder, has won interactive agency honors from the One Show and Cannes, and several traditional creative awards and has created some of the most buzz-generating and oft-mimicked campaigns in recent memory (Got Milk?, the NBA's "There can only be one"). But Goodby spoke not about tag lines and creative, but about digital reach.

And he reached for a rather unusual example to illustrate his point -- his 117-year-old Victorian house in California, which has lots of words painted on the exterior.

"I love big fonts," said Goodby. Simple, evocative words are painted in old-fashioned exterior gloss on the wooden planking that evoke what takes place inside those parts of the house: "Child" outside of a bedroom, and "Talk" outside the living room.

What's digital about that? A few things. First, it turns out there aren't any sign painters anymore who actually paint big words, per Goodby. "They do it digitally these days with laser-cut letters," he said. The letters are chemically annealed to a surface. After it was done, Goodby created a Web site about the house, called www.poemhouse.org. Then, he posted it on Facebook.

"And people just went crazy. It was passed around to thousands of people, it was tweeted, Creativity wrote about it, and a number of blogs covered it. We got a lot of traffic -- literally. People have been driving past the house. I'm making the point that one little digital project in the right place amplifies it. It's a model of what's happening in digital advertising."

Goodby argues that only a fraction of marketers are really willing to face the implications of digital media, and most do not fully comprehend that there's a need for a new kind of advertising -- "a new way of talking to people."

He says the biggest cultural shifts at his agency came from hiring people who had a range of skills. "The water around you changes with them. They are a new kind of hybrid in business; they are versatile."

It means starting with ideas, not TV commercials, tag lines or web sites. "The important thing is to think of the amplification that goes on in the digital world. What happened to our house happened with [our] online campaign for the Hyundai Genesis. It was something you couldn't do in a print ad or a TV commercial."

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