Where I'm at: ZAAZ

It's been pretty quiet over here on the blog since 2012 kicked in. There is a good excuse for that.

Just a month ago, I joined ZAAZ (pronounced z•ah•z) a digital ad agency that prides itself on not only the work they do for clients like Audi, Microsoft, Coca- Cola and Nokia but also on their core values.  Values like passion, kindness, perspective, integrity and results.  Values that many people and companies talk about embracing but don't.

There is something different about ZAAZ.  Something real and genuine that made me jump in and say yes.  I am so fortunate to be a part of a team of incredibly smart and engaged people who I've already been able to collaborate, build and stretch with.  There is a reason why Ad Age named us one of the best places to work.  We have lots of exciting things in store.  Stay tuned.



Team Work: Ikea + Carl Kleiner

I'm loving these latest shots for Ikea by photographer Carl Kleiner.  Similar to the images he created for Ikea's first cookbook, Hembakat är Bäst (Homemade is Best) Kleiner forgoes the usual backdrop and takes a bird's eye view that allows us to completely focus in on the actual products.  Aside from the photography, I love how each shot is so perfectly composed and balanced.  Big props to the stylist (and Kleiner's wife) Evelina Kleiner.




Breaking Down: Colors In Cultures

I came across this infographic the other day and while I think the design of it isn't necessarily the best solution to convey the information, I find the actual data really facinating.  The data is a good reminder that colors do in fact have different meanings in various cultures and countries.  As marketers we need to understand how our choices impact the products we sell and the messages we convey.  This emotional connection to the consumer is key and is one of the things that can turn a good campaign into a great one.

Infographic by David McCandless

Conversation: John Winsor + Jon Bond

Screen shot 2010-05-29 at 1.42.13 PM I've been spending a lot of timing research, digesting and evaluating crowdsourcing.  Six months ago, Victors & Spoils, the world’s first creative (ad) agency built on crowdsourcing principles, launched in Boulder, Colorado.  Here is a great dialogue about the future of advertising between John Winsor, CEO of Victor & Spoils and Jon Bond, investor, advisor and strategic partner with Victors & Spoils.

John Winsor: Lately, we’re seeing some big culture shifts taking place. Just this past week, I was struck hearing that YouTube celebrated its 5th anniversary and reached a milestone of more than two billion views a day. It’s clear, as a society, we’re moving from a world of scarcity to one of abundance. Do you think it’s still possible for the agency models built on an old cultural paradigm to help clients survive (and thrive) in this new world?

Jon Bond: Traditional agencies are threatened by abundance and see it as yet another tool to commoditize their already tenuous position in the marketing hierarchy. They see abundance as simply over-supply, tipping the balance of supply and demand toward commoditization. But change also produces opportunities. The new generation of creative people who rise to define the job of "curator" will thank the advent of abundance for making this new profession possible, and in fact necessary. Traditional shops cannot easily adjust to this new age because it would mean enduring a painful transition. Their legacy issues are their weakness. I love ad people and the ideas part of the business. It's the “business” of the business that really sucks and brings down the rest of it. Sometimes you have to destroy something you love in order to rebuild it again, and that is what the new models, like Victors & Spoils, will do. There will be pain. But there is no alternative to the slow, painful death that has been eating away at the soul of the business for the past 15 years.

JW: In our careers, we’ve both seen clients go to the big agencies of say 500 people to gain access to the 25 folks who are really pushing the work forward. Clients want the best creative work without having to pay for bloated agency infrastructures, but the current paradigm is built on a full time employee (FTE) compensation model. This means access to the top 25 talent comes with a price tag that includes the cost of the other 475 people at the agency. How will increasing client demand for higher quality at a fair price impact the current size and scope of agencies?

JB: In the current model the top talent are underpaid and the bottom people are overpaid. That is true commoditization. FTEs are commoditizers because they reward hours versus results and talent, which isn't advertising - it's the post office! If we want to regain the top talent we've lost, we need to take a tip from Hollywood and make the rewards of stardom spectacular.

JW: You’ve been out talking a lot to some of the most interesting and progressive CMOs. What are they saying?

JB: CMOS are about efficiency. They want it better, cheaper and faster, and if you can't do one of the three, you are out. Unfortunately, the only recourse has been to get shops to cut price, which only serves to drive more talent out of the business, make us worth less to clients and incentivize them to pay us even less. We need to embrace tools – technology, new models, etc. – that enable us to deliver more for less in less time, without making people work harder for less money. The old must die to make way for the new. And, the only alternative is outright extinction.

JW: It seems the whole concept of aggregating place-based assets under a global holding company is being threatened by the radical shifts taking place in society. In your opinion, what’s in the future for holding companies? Will they exist? If so, what do you think they’ll look like?

JB: Holding Companies? What is their true purpose? Businesses cannot exist without a purpose that serves a customer. I believe holding companies are the traditional agencies of the corporate world. They are generic because they try to be everything to every client. The holding companies of the future will be more specialized and will be great at something. For example, maybe Google will own the “data driven” holding company and Facebook will control the “people driven” one. Each will have a diametrically opposed view of the world, and an epic battle of ideologies will ensue, which will not be won by either side because they define the essential ways in which people differ by nature. There will always be a large market for both.

JW: You’ve got a big vision for the industry and the future of advertising. What’s your next move?

JB: My goal is to reinvent the industry by bringing the power back to the practitioners the way Hollywood has done it with DreamWorks and stars owning points in their movies, or having their own production companies. The advertising business sucks, so what are we afraid of losing at this point? Change is our friend and the more dramatic the better.

JW: Thanks, Jon. I’m stoked to be working with you to fulfill this vision. This is going to be fun.

Pepsi Refresh Project

Pepsi made a choice.  For the first time in 23 years, they chose to forgo buying commercial time during the Super Bowl.  Instead, they redirected the $20 million to launch the Pepsi Refresh Project, a viral marketing campaign that awards grants to non-profits in a variety of communities across the catagories of health, arts & culture, food & shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education.   Anyone can submit a grant idea online and everyone is welcome to vote.

Naturally, what I like most about the campaign is that is does GOOD.   $20 million goes a long way in these organizations and certainly has a longer lasting impression than a 30 second spot.

But that aside, I give the campaign props because it requires Pepsi to engage with their consumer in a way that few of the big companies choose to do.  This engagement between brand and consumer is real and the experience can’t be replicated.  Gene Liebel, partner for user experience at Huge, which was involved in the development and design for the site, said "the emphasis the campaign places on social media demonstrates how a big brand is letting what used to be called the audience take part in what can become a movement.”  I like that.  Let's be a part of this movement and encourage other brands to rethink not only  the way they spend their advertising dollars, but how they can impact the world.

Yes Please. Cole, Rood & Haan

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Ok.  This is kind of brilliant.  While there have been a number of brands that have launched heritage collections, I've found a lot of them uninspiring and pretty forced.  However, Cole Rood & Haan, a footwear collection inspired by Cole Haan's 1920's Chicago roots and taken directly from the historic archives, proves different. They have managed to update some vintage designs with modern touches and great leathers.   Not only do the shoes look great but I love the way they have chosen to market and brand the collection.

The marketing campaign highlights an entrepreneurial lifestyle.  They made the very wise decision to hire Todd Selby aka The Selby to shoot the campaign, which features entrepreneurs in NYC who run businesses that take old things and make them new again in a fresh and innovative way.  The shoot takes place at four places: The Smile- a Cafe and Mixed-Use Concept Store, Jack's Coffee-the inventor of the "stir brew technique," Maryam Nassir Zadeh, an amazing boutique carrying things that are both new and old and Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons, an edgy, beautifully crafted jewelry line.  By using real people in real life situations the whole line just feels more authentic.  These are shoes you want to wear on your way to the studio for a day of brainstorming and bags you want to cram full with a notebook, pens, magazines and bits of inspiration you find on the street.  You can see the full shoot here.

Google Chrome


This weekend Google premiered their TV Ad campaign for Chrome, their new web browser .  I personally love the spot and find it playful and clever.  However,  I wonder, would someone who doesn't know that they have a choice of browsers actually know what Chrome is? Does this make the ad any more or less effective?  I think the ad certainly continues to spread Goggle's brand awareness, but may miss the mark for its intended audience.

Chrome Ad from Google Japan from Alex66 on Vimeo.

Here is what Google posted yesterday on their blog about the launch:

Google Chrome ads on TV

A couple of months ago, the Google Japan team produced a fun video to demonstrate how clean and simple our Google Chrome user interface is. After releasing this video on the web, we got lots of positive feedback and thoughtful comments. In order to keep that conversation going, we invited some of our creative friends to make a collection of short films celebrating our browser. We released Chrome Shorts last week on our YouTube channel.

At the same time, we talked to our Google TV Ads team to see how we could show the video that our Japan team developed to a wider audience in a measurable way. Using some of the results from our placement-targeted ads on the Google Content Network, we designed a Google TV Ads campaign which we hope will raise awareness of our browser, and also help us better understand how television can supplement our other online media campaigns.

So today, we’re pleased to announce that we're using Google TV Ads to run our Chrome ad on various television networks starting this weekend. We're excited to see how this test goes and what impact television might have on creating more awareness of Google Chrome.