Noah told me about this last week but given it's leaked in Adweek I guess I can stick a link up.
Go and visit the House of Naked, Naked New York's blog. Very cool looking site with a fantastic aggregator of individual workers' blogs, flickr pages, etc. For once a company site that gives you a really good picture of who actually works there, not meaningless corporate mumbo jumbo.
Ad Age has now posted the second part of their article on engaging content, this time looking at television. Deep breath, here we go. Following a study looking at the engagement with TV ads by measuring the speed of vibration of the eye (uh, I thought we were in 2007) they have drawn the conclusion that the best ads are those that keep the product front, center and simple.
ie whatever you do, don't let an idea get in the way as it distracts from what you're selling, and breaks linkage between the ad and the brand. Great idea - let's strip away the stuff that creates interestingness and/or entertainment.
Enough of the sarcasm. I totally agree that the worst ads are those that have no link to the product, but this should be the springboard for a bigger idea; a point of view on the world beyond your category. And as for the methodology, putting aside the many shortcomings of this type of research, I would think the slower vibration of the eye indicating deep thought may in fact be the viewer thinking 'please stop the boredom, let me think of anything else to get me through this'.
What made the show visually interesting was the use of the screen. Rather than the usual camera feeds or pre-made videos, there was amazing mixed media art made live and projected onto the screen. Each song had a totally different visual feel and identity, and the fluidity of it being made live in reaction to the music just made it great to watch. The photos give a flavor but maybe these clips help.
Over at Ad Age, they have the first of a two part article on how to make engaging ads based on research by Starch and Pretesting (great name guys.)
Anyway, today's edition begins with the shocking revelation that research now shows that engaging ads are less about whether they appear in high involvement media, and more about having interesting content. Better go and lie down after that bombshell:) It shocks me that this is trotted out like news. After all, not only is it common sense but as Gossage said nearly half a century ago: "Nobody reads advertising. People read what they want to read and sometimes it's an ad."
Then comes the silly bit (if that isn't silly enough). Like many of the unhelpful research debriefs I have endured Starch go on to talk about how to make an engaging ad:
"For both print and online ads, the principles behind high engagement
are roughly the same: Keep it simple; show the benefit ASAP; use
attention-grabbing colors such as reds, yellows, greens and gold; and
employ contrast. For example, on websites with white backgrounds, ads
with black backgrounds pop, appearing almost three-dimensional in
comparison with their surroundings."
How about offering people the gift of an idea? An idea that in itself is inherently interesting, fresh and useful?
I managed to read a couple of chapters of Al Gore's new book The Assault On Reason while stuck on the runway this morning at La Guardia. So far, as good as I hoped.
The first chapter is about the power of fear, and has some interesting bits of neuroscience in it - especially how the 'affect heuristic' can make us react to imaginary threats as if they were real; and how we, thanks to mirror neurons, react to the pain of others as if we were directly experiencing it.
What's interesting, at least as a planner, is that the way neuroscientists believe the mind works (and have evidence for) is rather different to the way the neuromarketers would like you to believe (a point Mark made well last night).
"Our mental life is governed mainly by a cauldron of emotions, motives and desires which we are barely conscious of, and what we call our conscious life is usually an elaborate post hoc rationalization of things we really do for other reasons."
Rather different to the way the two neuromarketers here would have you believe that there is such a thing as the 'buy' button in the brain.
One of the reasons I first visited Boston as a tourist was because of its rich musical heritage from the Pixies to Throwing Muses to the Lemonheads to Jack Drag. Well, after arguably a rather quiet few years there's some great local music I thought I'd leave links to. Have a listen.
Mark was on top form, and it's always good to grab a quick conversation with people like David Nottoli, Lee Maicon and Paul Woolmington. What was a very nice added surprise was to run into some old acquaintances and co-workers from London, Johnny Vulkan (now doing lots of smart things at Anomaly) and Kieron Monahan (who was visiting from London where he is the global planning director on Nokia).
Afterwards, had a very good meal, drinks and conversation with Noah,Amber and Chet. Very smart, fun, enthusiastic people who all write very good blogs. (Noah, that overheard comment / observation on planners will make an appearance at this year's APG conference)
I was totally embarrassed by those of you who came up to me and said you read this little thing - thank you all for your kind words. I'm always amazed and humbled that people read this as life's surely far too short to spend time reading my ramblings :)
Fantastic article in Time magazine this week on Al Gore. As part of this, there was an excerpt from his new book The Assault on Reason where he talks about how the political landscape has been changed by media. I'm going to try and pick up a copy at the airport because it sounds a provocative read, and an interesting point on view on how the web, as a platform, will help break us out of the image led, receive-mode world of TV and back to participation in debate and conversation where the truth, and the strongest ideas, will out. Here are a few quick excerpts:
"American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but
from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either
live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical
environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the
marketplace of ideas....
Our Founders' faith in the viability of representative democracy rested
on their trust in the wisdom of a well-informed citizenry, their
ingenious design for checks and balances, and their belief that the
rule of reason is the natural sovereign of a free people. The Founders
took great care to protect the openness of the marketplace of ideas so
that knowledge could flow freely. Thus they not only protected freedom
of assembly, they made a special point—in the First Amendment—of
protecting the freedom of the printing press. And yet today, almost 45
years have passed since the majority of Americans received their news
and information from the printed word. Newspapers are hemorrhaging
readers. Reading itself is in decline. The Republic of Letters has been
invaded and occupied by the empire of television.
Radio, the Internet, movies, cell phones, iPods, computers,
instant messaging, video games and personal digital assistants all now
vie for our attention—but it is television that still dominates the
flow of information. According to an authoritative global study,
Americans now watch television an average of 4 hours and 35 minutes every day—90
minutes more than the world average. When you assume eight hours of
work a day, six to eight hours of sleep and a couple of hours to bathe,
dress, eat and commute, that is almost three-quarters of all the
discretionary time the average American has.
In the world of television, the massive flows of information
are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible
for individuals to take part in what passes for a national
conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but
they do not speak. The "well-informed citizenry" is in danger of
becoming the "well-amused audience." Moreover, the high capital
investment required for the ownership and operation of a television
station and the centralized nature of broadcast, cable and satellite
networks have led to the increasing concentration of ownership by an
ever smaller number of larger corporations that now effectively control
the majority of television programming in America.
In practice, what television's dominance has come to mean is
that the inherent value of political propositions put forward by
candidates is now largely irrelevant compared with the image-based ad
campaigns they use to shape the perceptions of voters. The high cost of
these commercials has radically increased the role of money in
politics—and the influence of those who contribute it. That is why
campaign finance reform, however well drafted, often misses the main
point: so long as the dominant means of engaging in political dialogue
is through purchasing expensive television advertising, money will
continue in one way or another to dominate American politics. And as a
result, ideas will continue to play a diminished role. That is also why
the House and Senate campaign committees in both parties now search for
candidates who are multimillionaires and can buy the ads with their own
So the remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better
education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as
that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic
discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way—a
conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from
individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.
Fortunately, the Internet has the potential to revitalize the
role played by the people in our constitutional framework. It has
extremely low entry barriers for individuals. It is the most
interactive medium in history and the one with the greatest potential
for connecting individuals to one another and to a universe of
knowledge. It's a platform for pursuing
the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in
the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the
creation and distribution of goods and services. It's a platform, in
other words, for reason."