By now, we're all familiar with the rapid rise of the Internet, the mobile revolution, the emergence of social media and more.
But beyond the technological changes and what they mean to the way we connect with consumers through new platforms, there is the impact of societal changes on how we reflect consumer sentiment back to them.
After 25 years of covering the advertising industry for the New York Times, Stuart Elliott says he never could have predicted that television advertising would be so much less lily white, a little less nuclear family.
In part three of an expansive "exit interview" I conducted with Elliott just weeks after he announced his retirement in December - he points to how ad agencies used to pretend they were bigger, until that became a liability, and why brands had better keep up with demographic trends, or risk being left behind.
advertising, branding, digital, earned, hollywood, madison avenue, marketing, media, mobile, new york times, owned, posts, pr, publishing, series, social media, stuart elliott, tv, ugc, user generated, video, web, youtube
Elliott has phoned home - much to everyone's surprise.
The advertising world released a collective gasp when news hit that Stuart Elliott - the longtime advertising columnist for the New York Times - was accepting a buy-out package and would retire.
After nearly 25 years of covering advertising for the Times, not to mention stints at USA Today and Ad Age before that, Stuart and his column had become must-read for puissant, timely insights on Mad Ave.
And what a quarter century it was. From the early 1990s to today, the ad industry went from analog everything to digital domination; from "Married with Children" to "Modern Family;" and from bigger-is-better, to small is the new black.
"Who could or would have thought in the early ’90s that 20-odd years later the hegemony of television, for decades the most powerful ad medium, would be under siege, or at least, in question" Stuart wrote in his final column December 18.
"Ratings data, the currency of television, is growing problematic because viewership is more difficult to measure when people use mobile devices instead of TV sets; or watch shows online, as streaming video or as video-on-demand. And it is easier than ever for viewers to ignore or avoid traditional commercials; popular streaming services like Netflix are (gasp!) ad-free."
In an expansive new interview just days before Sunday's Super Bowl, I talked to Stuart about what he saw at the revolution - and why, despite all the change around us, everything old is new again.
I'm digging this vision video from augmented reality player Metaio, which foresees a world where thermal heat scanning wearables enable users turn any surface into an interactive touch screen interface.
Think of the implications for communications, and then think further. Gaming, mixed reality movies and shows, layered brand experiences. Entire environments and cross-reality social media, activated and annotated by a simple touch.
Are you ready for some (of that other kind of) football?
This branded augmented reality game from Brazil-based fast fooder Giraffas looks like a kick. It turns food trays into AR soccer (or "football") fields. Using an app on your iPhone, you can flick the ball at an onscreen goal keeper to see if you can score.
Best of all, players can chide competitors through social media.
Hey, if you're flying down to Brazil for FIFA World Cup 2014 next month, you're going to need to eat sometime, right?
It's not every day you use the words "breakthrough" and "billiards" in the same sentence.
But clearly, this next-generation pool table – which made its premiere this week at SXSW - promises to bring a whole new level of liveliness to bar-side bets and friendly wagers everywhere.
The breakthrough part, however, doesn't stem from this game, which uses Kinect and projection technology to enhance game play.
It comes when you realize that nothing shown in this YouTube video couldn't soon also be writ large - from arena paintball to the Super Bowl-size excitement.
Imagine fields or even city blocks transformed into holodecks, for all manner of games and adventures where you carve your way through chaos to achieve your objective. And where someday, wearable, haptic sensors mean you don't just thrill to each laser blast, you feel it, and where objects don't just respond to your movement, you respond to theirs.
In this scenario, you don't watch a movie or play a game - you live it.
Early days, yes.
But you don't need a magic eight ball to envision the excitement to come.
Read a release on OpenPool - and the technology (and Kickstarter campaign) behind it, here.
Okay, we're going to get our geek on here for a sec.
We actually tend to be more DC comics than Marvel Comics. Well, DC for comics and TV, Marvel for movies - but we digress. Either way, it's hard not to dig these new cosplay outfits - called Marvel Morphsuits - that are powered by Zappar and enable super powers to come to life when viewed through a mobile device.
Our own two cents: The app should come with video capture so kids (or let's face it, grownups) could make their own sfx-driven movies.
Still: Great idea - and sure to cause a stir at Comic-Con this summer.
One of the best signs for the future of mobile marketing comes in the fact that so many of our favorites appear on a number of other lists of GEN WOW winners for 2013 - indicating a level of integration we had not yet seen in the evolution of what is obviously the most measurable, personal and direct link to consumers ever created.
It's also worth noting that none of these have much to do with anything called "mobile advertising" of the "Oh, look, Facebook has mobile ads now" variety.
Most, in fact, involve highly engaging experiences involving games, helpful information or actual utilities.
Our purely subjective favorites of the year include:
Sure, the promotional video is going to make your skin crawl. But this branded game from Stride and W+K does seems like a fun way to have your game and chew it, too. That's because the game uses your iPhone camera to detect your mouth movements to control the onscreen hero, Ace (bonus points for including the ability to share images of your crazy jaw action to share on social media.) Let's just hope the flavor lasts long enough to win during gameplay, though. Otherwise, the whole adventure may leave a, er, bad taste in your mouth.
This year, Lexus was pushing the limits again - just in time for this year's big SI Swimsuit Issue. There was that 3D projection mapping experience on an LA Hotel a while back. And last October, the brand brought a print ad to life with the help of a handy iPad. This time out, Lexus went a bit simpler, keying into QR codes - the scanning of which reveals models hidden in SI print ads for the new IS. And as you'll see in our list of Top 10 Best in in Digital Out-of-Home 2013, it was also just the opening act in an integrated camapaign that included Sport Illustrated's first-ever 3D projection mapping experience on the facade at Caesar's Las Vegas (the development of which comes from Go2 Productions, the same team that worked on our 3D projection experience for a recent client event featuring a private concert by TRAIN).
Okay, not technically mobile marketing, but print in the service of mobile. Here, NIVEA has found a way to let you keep enjoying those summer rays - without having to worry about your mobile phone going dead. This print ad from GiovanniDraftFCB in Brazil is just the latest example of print meeting digital for some very cool results (see recent Fanta-flavored, iPod-amping print ads for a few more).
As an Apple devotee, it pains me to say that Samsung's marketing in the mobile wars is increasingly impressive (and scathing) - especially the ads mocking iPhone fans waiting in long lines for the next iPhone. And in 2013, this effort from BBDO New Zealand raises the bar. Galaxy fans could skip ahead by tweeting. Brilliant. And you won't believe the results.
What JJ Abrams did for "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible" with the ActionFX app, Disney's doing with its treasure trove of characters via its new Infinity Action! app. As a tie-in with its new Infinity game, this app allows you to create short videos using a host of popular Disney characters and 30 different animations and props, that they can then share on their soc-nets. Kids (and a fair number of parents) are certain to love this - and it's a great way to turn advertising into a participatory experience.
It's looking like Chipotle has scored big with a new mobile campaign centered on YouTube video and mobile game. As Venture Beat reports, Chipotle and Moonbot Studios produced an animated film and mobile game as part of its overall "Food with Integrity" campaign. Here's the thing: As a branding initiative, it's generating boffo results. In its first two weeks, the YouTube video saw 6.5 million views. And within four days of the mobile game's release on the App Store, it was downloaded 250,000 times, making it the top 15 free iOS apps in the U.S.
What are the Geico lizard or old Mayhem going to make of this? More importantly, what might they do with it? An insurance company called RSA in the Middle East has created an interactive print ad that enables readers to ask for a quote, no mobile phone or other consumer device required, though the quote comes back via the reader's mobile phone (which obviously provides the brand with contact information it could use for follow up communications). As part of the brand's "Easy as Ever" promise, the medium is quite literally the message - an innovative "wow" moment that directly delivers on the brand's positioning.
Paintlist is bringing new color to your playlist. The app, launched by Dutch Boy Paints, uses songs stored on your phone or the phone's microphone to identify a song, and then analyzes it to suggest several color palettes based on things like tempo and beat. As you might expect, fast, upbeat music favored by many millennials results in recommendations for vibrant colors - and slow, dramatic music results in more muted tones.
It might be the ultimate ice cream topping: This augmented reality concerto lasts just long enough for the ice cream to soften up just right. A very nice branding moment for connecting with certain customer segments.
In fact, the whole package-top motif took off big time this year. In one GEN WOW-winning effort from Domino's Japan, an iPhone app featuring a hugely popular, yet completely make-believe, virtual music star named Hatsune Miku, enables you to point your phone at a pizza box and enjoy a special, augmented reality performance from Miku.
Call it Father's Day, come early. This device, synced to Mom's belly, is sure to result in a powerful moment for Dad. And it's a blockbuster way to cement the Huggies brand into these new parents' minds. Maybe every expectant father should do this.
We've lost count of how many of our lists include this GEN WOW winner from a New Zealand-based pizza chain called Hell Pizza. its very cool augmented reality game continues the package-top trend this year, and pits pizza fans against (what else) zombies straight from, well, Hell. Righteous.
Call it text books by texting. This year, DDB Manila and telecom company Smart Communications won the Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with an effort that seems like the perfect mix of cause + commerce.
Agree with our list? What made yours? Share - and let's discuss what it all means as we look ahead to 2014 and beyond.
It's called the DomiCopter. And long before Jeff Bezos struck PR gold with his concept for Amazon deliveries via drone, Domino's was actually prototyping it. A little slice of heaven? Maybe it's the whole pie.
Talk about armchair travel: This initiative enabled you control a person outfitted with audio video tech who will do what you ask him to do so you can tour Melbourne before you actually go - vicariously taking in the sites and sounds you want to experience.
The Ultimate Driving Machine recently used projection mapping to launch a social racing game designed to promote the new 1 Series automobile in South Africa. Players driving via a Galaxy tablet, and their scores are posted on a real-time Facebook leader board and shared with friends. And the best drivers in each location in which the game was hosted won prizes. Game on.
Project Colour from ad agency DLKW is designed to help students in school think creatively. And it's just one awesome (and heartwarming) way this real-time technology can be used. It also happens to be just one example of how social media sometimes doesn't require others to log into a social platform in order to participate.
In my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, I look at how MINI created similar experiences to this using RFID chips in driver key fobs. Here, Coca-Cola accomplishes it via geofencing. While it's not as compelling - the user would need to download an app to experience this - the concept is fun and makes otherwise prosaic advertising supremely personal.
Only true Canadians drink Molson Canadian. But they're going to have to prove it, first. The "beer fridge" traveled around cities throughout Europe - but could only be opened by scanning a Canadian passport. Which is only fitting for a brand whose tagline is "I am Canadian." Though for those without the appropriate papers, it's probably a bit coquettish, too. Maybe not the best way to get others to sample your beer. But it is, however, an outstanding way to cement your brand with the home team. And as Adweek points out, it sure beats the ad agency whose beer fridge only opened when everyone had done their time sheets. Now that's cruel, eh?
This year, SI took the whole Strip thing to a whole new level - with a little help from Lexus. On the heels of the duo's QR code-enabled interactive print ad, the brands used Caesars Las Vegas as the canvas for a rip-roaring 3D projection mapping experience last night, featuring models from this year's big Swimsuit Edition. There are lots of things for fans of the annual issue to like - including building-size views of Kate Upton and her fellow SI models - with 3D elements, no less.
In an initiative promoting Qualcomm's mobile solutions, this bus stop ad invites you to respond via mobile to experience the unexpected - including all manner of entertainment, and even a ride in a Lamborghini to your destination. In some respects, it's just the latest sign that outdoor may well be the new TV - not in reach, but in branded experiences that pack punch.
San Pellegrino may have one-upped Melbourne with this Avatar-in-Taormina experience - enabling you to control a robot on the streets of Sicily. Take in the sights. Chat up the locals. Your face even appears on the android's monitor. At first glance, robots may feel a bit off-brand, until you see how this works. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy a few minutes in Italy during a hectic day. Of course, switch out the R2D2 body and replace it with a Ferrari, and then I'd really feel amore.
There has long been a belief that popular culture breaks down barriers - the idea that engagement always trumps disengagement. That was true when it came to the Soviet Union. That's true when it comes to China. And to the extent than popular culture includes consumer products (it includes music, movies and fashion, so why not CPG?), Coca-Cola has always been at the forefront of cashing in on any peace dividend it could help create.
Okay, one moment of shameless self promotion here. We created this 3D projection mapping experience as part of a special event for our client LoopNet, and included a live concert by the band TRAIN, as part of a four-month integrated communications campaign that was awarded "Best of Show" at the International Summit Creative Awards (see a 2-minute video case study, here). The LA event itself was managed by Pearl Media, and the 3D animation was produced by Go2 Productions - the same team behind the Lexus/Sports Illustrated projection experience above. As you'll see in the case study, the results of this integrated campaign were astonishing. Which makes it our personal, purely-biased bonus favorite for the year.
The Ad Bowl got gamified this year, as Coca-Cola's Coke Chase enabled viewers to help three "teams" vie for a giant bottle of coke. Television spots from Wieden & Kennedy, end with a cliffhanger - and that's where this social media game begins. Now, viewers can share the video and vote on one of a handful of endings, in hopes of supporting one of three factions - cowboys, showgirls and badlanders - as they race for that Coke. The more you share, the more content you unlock - including 50,000 coupons for a free 20-ounce Coke. You could even sabotage the other teams by voting for distractions that slow them down. A spot with the winning team was shown at the conclusion of the Super Bowl.
This one made our list of Top 10 Best in Augmented Reality, too. Lucky Charms' "Chase the Charms" mobile app let you scan specially marked boxes in search of 8 lucky charms that lead to a very real pot of gold. If you played it (and I did), it would have looked hilarious as you wrangled your phone up, down, everwhere to catch the charms. Sidenote: This was squarely aimed at adults who grew up on the cereal. Not many kids are walking around with a smartphone capable of playing the game. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Call it the ultimate stare down. It's no TNT Street Promo, or even a Tic Tac Bad Breath. And I have no idea why I would care that the S4 has eye tracking capabilities (I'm not even sure I would want my phone to have such things). But this promo, from a creative studio called Perfect Fools and an agency called Heimat Inc, is worth a stare - with a few laughs along the way.
The Ultimate Driving Machine recently used projection mapping to launch a social racing game designed to promote the new 1 series automobile in South Africa. Players drive via a Galaxy tablet, and thier scores are posted on a real-time Facebook leader board and shared with friends. The best drivers in each location the game was hosted won prizes. And who could have resisted playing?
BMW wasn't the only auto brand busting out the branded games this year.You have to love this interactive display, which enables passersby to race one of three finely detailed miniature Audis using a iPad, to demonstrate just how well Audi hugs the road (positioning undercut, unfortunately, by its share of wipeouts) - and memorialized by Facebook shares of personal video. As Adverblog points out, the fun is in the details: Pay special attention to the miniature roadside billboard that reads "BMWho?"
Sure, the promotional video is going to make your skin crawl. But this branded game from Stride and W+K does seems like a fun way to have your game and chew it, too. That's because the game uses your iPhone camera to detect your mouth movements to control the onscreen hero, Ace (bonus points for including the ability to share images of your crazy jaw action on social media.) Of course, one hopes the flavor lasts long enough to win during gameplay. Otherwise, the whole adventure may leave a, er, bad taste in your mouth.
By now, you should be noticing the social thread through a lot of the branded game winners this year. Many will make our list of Best Social Media Campaigns, too. Here, Heineken recently placed a billboard in airports to daring people to press the button to drop everything and go on free trip to whatever random location appears. And not all of the locations were desirable to everyone. Shortly thereafter, a follow-up game approached people who had tweeted that they'd be up to the challenge, and dared them to do it. The tone: A lot of fun - with a little edge - that suited the brand just right.
Perrier definitely knows how to wet your appetite to find out more. The brand - which describes itself as the sexiest sparkling water you'll ever taste – has launched what appears to be a sensational first-person branded game called Perrier Secret Place. In this choose-your-path narrative game, from Ogilvy Paris, you're transported to an underground nightclub, where you search for a secret bottle of Perrier for the chance to be entered into a drawing for a very real destination vacation such as Rio during Carnival, a party in St. Tropez, New Year's eve in Sydney and so on. if the video above is any indication, it's going to be a steamy ride. It's also in keeping with previous campaigns like Perrier Melting City that used innovative technologies to drive home brand positioning. Nice work all around.
Another game to also make our Top 10 Best in Augmented Reality. A very cool augmented reality game that pits pizza fans against (what else) zombies in a battle on the box top to protect their favorite pizzeria. This is very similar to a prototype game called "ARhrrrr!" developed at Georgia Tech that I discuss in my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND. Sure, you have to download an app to play - but given the brand's likely affinity with teen & twentysomething fanboys, it looks to be a righteously cool experience straight from Hell.
Chipotle scored big with an animated film and mobile game as part of its overall "Food with Integrity" campaign (watch companion YouTube video, above, and you get the sense this is more than a game - it's a movement). Here's the thing: As a branding initiative, it has generated boffo results. In its first two weeks, the YouTube video saw 6.5 million views (it's now over 11 million). And within four days of the mobile game's release on the App Store, it was downloaded 250,000 times, making it the top 15 free iOS apps in the U.S. Plus, the beautifully drives home the brand's value proposition. Exactly what a branded game should be.
Infiniti seriously upped its game this year with a responsive video series that uses advanced voice recognition to enable you to influence the action and interact with characters through phone calls. According to the New York Times, the video series - called "Deja View" – comes from Campfire, which readers know to be quite innovative in the way it uses video. This new effort is an extension of a campaign for the Infiniti Q50 developed by TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles. Characters appear to have amnesia, and at various points in the narrative, will call you on the phone (once you've provided it to participate). Your responses to their remarks influence their actions, dynamically shaping the storyline as it goes along - with thousands of different possible outcomes. Even the way you respond to characters' calls can influence the adventure. According to the Times, if you tell a character she is hot, for instance, she might respond to you in a distracting manner. Insult her, and she may just hang up. While technically this may fall more under "branded entertainment" than a strictly "branded game," there are enough game elements here - and sheer coolness - to make our list.
So: What's your view? What games make your 2013 top 10 list? We'd love to hear your thoughts!