Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mass Interactive: Fame Game

"Think you can do better than this?"

Then upload yourself to The Fame Game - American Idol meets YouTube meets CASH PRIZES AND 15 MB OF FAME!

*Disclosure: These guys are friends of friends of mine, so throw some strugglin' hallway rappers a bone and vote on their asses.

Brand Cult: Disney 'Princess' Wedding Dresses

Boing Boing and The Disney Blog reports:

Disney is launching a line of $1,100 - $2,900 "Princess" wedding dresses. Talk about life-cycle marketing -- from tiny costume dresses for the toddler, all the way up to the wedding gown. I smell money.

*But waitaminnit, what about the fellas?!? Maybe some dudes dream of getting married in an Aladdin suit (or rather, maybe their brides dream about having the dude get married in an Aladdin suit).

Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo said he expected the dresses to be a hit among brides to be, especially given the increasing popularity of weddings at Walt Disney World, the site of about 2,000 nuptials each year.

"If you do 2,000 weddings a year, think of all the people who say, 'I can't, I have to get married in my hometown, my own church,' but they certainly may still have that princess dream as part of it," Rasulo said.

While I personally find this proposition a bit creepy, I marvel at Disney's constant ability to deepen their experience and milk dough outta the franchise characters. Brilliant.

For related, see Forever Branded archives

Politics 2.0: Infect Truth

The American Legacy Foundation is developing a number of initiatives to build off its latest "Infect truth" campaign, launched in October 2006.

Get weekly news alerts on the consumer, healthcare, or technology industry. Newsletters include news round-ups, features, and jobs tailored to the particular sector.

Patricia McLaughlin, senior director of communications at the American Legacy Foundation, said the campaign will have a heavy online interactive component.

"Playing on the prevalence of digital media in teen's lives, ALF has boosted up its site and created new tools and gizmos to help teens spread the truth message themselves," she added.

Using the tagline of "Knowledge is contagious: infect truth," the campaign tries to show teens that once they are informed, they are "infected" and can therefore spread the knowledge to their friends about making smarter and safer decisions about tobacco use, McLaughlin said.

The "infections," as they are called, consist of downloads, mini-sites, TV spots, and tobacco fact-based messages called "quickies." Teens can download screensavers, desktop themes, do-it-yourself print tools, play games, and even send messages written in back hair at features designed to spread virally throughout the online teen community.

The ALF is also placing campaign materials on social networking sites like MySpace, Hi5, Bebo, Piczo, as well as Xanga, marking the campaign's first foray into the teenage social media scene.

via YPulse and PR Week

Monday, February 26, 2007

Conscious Consumption: (Product)Red Results

According to Financial Times, after a first year of hype and hoopla (sure, even I joined in), the first Red-donated money has started flowing to Africa — $5.25 million has gone to Rwanda and $4 million to Swaziland — to treat HIV-positive Africans and to provide care for AIDS orphans. The fund has put 800,000 people in the developing world on antiretroviral drugs and is aiming to at least double that this year.

Eh. Not that I want to hate on a good cause. But this cash contribution seems a wee-bit short on true effectiveness when you consider product development, advertising, manufacturing, retail distribution, packaging, point-of-purchase displays... All the partners could have simply written a clean check to the cause and skipped the talking about it. Perhaps we'll give it some (more) time to build steam...

Cashless Society: Vending Machines and Plastic

Cadbury Schweppes and MasterCard are testing 750 vending machines in the Dallas area, New York and Chicago to answer a key question: Will people spend more at vending machines if they can use plastic? The early answer is, yes.

Some of the machines were installed in January and have seen sales increases of 5 percent to 35 percent without any change in prices, said Mark Jackson, a vice president with Cadbury's U.S. beverages subsidiary.

Cadbury's experience fits with sales increases that other companies have reported when they shift from cash to plastic. Possible explanations vary from consumers not wanting to carry change to ATMs that dispense only $20 bills, which can't be used in most machines.

Cadbury is retrofitting machines in Dallas, New York and Chicago to take all major credit cards and debit cards. They still accept cash, too.

After three months, Cadbury will evaluate sales data and decide whether to retrofit more machines and introduce them in other cities.

''There is always going to be a degree of cash transactions,'' Jackson said. ``But we recognize the fact we're moving more and more to a cashless society. We wanted to offer consumers a convenient way to buy our products out of a vending machine without having change or getting change.''

According to Vending Times, an industry publication, vending was a $46 billion business in 2005, and it was virtually all cash. That makes it an appealing target for banks that issue credit cards.

Tests like Cadbury's are taking place now because the declining cost of wireless communications has helped make operating the machines economical.

''Vending is going to be the ultimate test for cashless'' transactions, said Nick Montano, executive editor of Vending Times. ``It's going to be five or 10 years before it really takes off.''

via Miami Herald

Politics 2.0: Peta's Naked State of the Union

Dunno how I missed this one in our collection of Web 2.0 State of Union '07 notes last month (flashback, +, +)

Here’s PETA’s latest site, hocking a State of the Union Address that is sure to get your attention. Standing in front of an American flag and interlaced with scenes of a cheering Congress, this cute brunette goes through PETA’s version of the annual speech, all while getting naked…. completely, buck-naked.

via Brentter

Purell Says 'Wash Your Hands"

Clever OOH that puts the product benefit in plain icky view.

More at

Oh, and do wash your hands, won't you?

via Brentter

Mass Interactive:


Great communications shifts hold the power to empower and enable...and then there's the others. Consider this the Maury Povich show of social networking.

Not much to really explain here. Similar model as Don't Date Him Girl and Manhaters (now RENAMED to Woman Savers) - the dater haters tattle (minus any real evidence, accountability or even opportunity for rebuttal) and the rest of us gawk (and gasp). Convenient search functions allows you to look up any suspects by name, city and state. Even oogle at the "Infector of the Month". Fun times.

As their tagline says "log on before you lay down."

Don't just leave it to Match and eHarmony, check these other date prospecting references, too, to get the full lowdown X's Revenge, Dating Psychos, True Dater, Cheater Database

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oxymoron: Job Security in the Ad Industry

How fickle indeed...just wanted to comment on an article from Ad Age. Career Builder has announced that they have begun an agency review-- for the simple fact that the Superbowl ad created by Cramer-Krasselt did not make USA Today's "top ten" ads of the game. BECAUSE OF ONE POLL.

Years of brand building efforts ignored: the fact that during the agency's tenure, Career Builder surpassed rival in total listings and online traffic...none of it mattered but this one poll. A poll that means nothing in the grand scheme, other than fueling the ego's of the clients who appear on it. Sure it's flattering and is good PR, but to call a review because your agency didn't get you on it? A little extreme?

I was happy to see that, in addition to resigning the account and refusing to defend, CK's President Peter Krivkovich spoke his mind in an internal memo:

"To our amazement, to our total astonishment, all that astounding business success was less important than one poll," reads part of Mr. Krivkovich's memo. "C-Kers, we have to tell you -- in our entire history, hell in the history of this crazy thing called advertising, I'm not sure there has ever been any thing as baseless or as unbelievable as that. It's so ludicrous and they are so serious about that poll it's almost funny."

"They wanted us to make them famous; we did that in spades (brand awareness up by 64% -- even Millward Brown, the venerable research firm, said their brand-building model couldn't explain such incredible growth). But the TV ads did not make the top 10 in the USA Today poll -- a poll that everyone knows doesn't mirror results (see the continuing Bud sales decline for one!) -- they just told us they will do a creative review."

"'Wait a minute,' we said, 'what about the incredible growth that is going on, the shares, the revenue, the awareness, the two best internet sites ever, the massive buzz, etc, etc.? What about all of that? That's huge.'

"'Yes,' they responded, 'but you [C-K] didn't get the top 10 in the USA Today poll.' 'Hold on ... we crushed every possible business metrics/barometer for success. Out of all the metrics and polls, it's all about this one? You have to be F'ing kidding, right!?'"

"'No, that's it. It's because of the poll.' That was about the extent of the conversation."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Politics 2.0: 21 More Months to Go...

Alexa has a blog and they've posted an analysis of the relative popularity of the three leading democrat(ic) candidates' web sites.

Let's start with the blue team. Hillary clearly has had the most visitors to her site of any candidate (blue line), particularly on the 21st of January, when she posted a video announcing her candidacy. She nearly doubled the number of visitors that had visited Barack Obama's site (for the same reason, in red) a week earlier, and more than quadrupled the visits to John Edward's site 3 weeks prior.

There are several other democratic candidates not listed because at this point their sites are not getting enough traffic to show up on the chart.

And how fares the red team? The Republican sites are just a tiny blip on the chart. Both have approximately 10% of the traffic of the third place democratic candidate, John Edwards.

Of couse, rabbits have been known to throw a race or two in the past. 21 months to go...

via Alexa Blog

How To...Track Your Socially Contagious Virals

In recent weeks I've been trying to gather tools to TRACK AND MEASURE some of our viral videos online.

Sure Blogpulse, Technorati, and Alexa are decent enough for tracking visits to a microsite, or pulsing blog chatter but in this day and age, most of our actual video play ain't happening at the official microsites but dispersed across dozens of video hosting networks like YouTube and Veoh. And new ones crop up daily, it seems.

I have mostly done my tracking old-school by just going to EVERY SINGLE LINK ACROSS MANY VIDEO HOSTING NETWORKS (iFilm, MySpace, Veoh, Youtube, Break, etc) WHICH HOSTS OUR VIDEO AND STRAIGHT COUNTING THE NUMBERS AND ADDING THEM. Time consuming to say the least.

Just found this app, VidMeter Tracker, which allows you to enter all your video links (across 23 of the major network platforms) and it compiles the data daily and ongoing and churns out a fairly decent chart for you, too. To track a video, you simply need to enter its name and then enter a list of all the URLs where the video is hosted on the various video sites. I can testify that the numbers are accurate-ish cuz I have been doing the long-form math and theirs are coming up pretty damn close. Oh, and it's free.

These links below don't help you when you want to track something specific (like your own video plays)...but they are Hot Charts that keep tabs with the pulse of the office timewaster segment (supposing Seth's Inbox of Immaturity is too topline for your needs)
Viral Chart
Viral Video Chart
WebJunk TV

Other "How To..." from the Fallon Planning Blog-Time Life Compendium
...Make the Digg Top 10
...Make a Viral Video

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity: The Response

Just about one month ago, the IOI featured this instant classic in local advertising. Seems I wasn't the only one feeling it. Feast your eyes on "The Response". Reminds me Sporty Thievz's rebuttal to TLC's No Scrubs (No Pigeons)—and once again, the original proves unanswerable.

Speaking of music, this must be the week of sounds for sorry ears:
1. Tara Reid karaoke
2. Nirvana cover band
3. Condoleeza cover rapper
4. MiaaRose is Sayin' It Right, but I can't take her seriously with those shades.
5. Even Britney's shave music video

Never Say "Clever"

Just an observation: If your client uses this word used to describe your work, chances are they don't mean "ingenious". Of course tone matters, but more than likely they've just executed the execution. People are wary/suspicious of advertising, so in this context it's not surprising "clever" is most closely linked to the second definition listed on the image. Beware of "Cute" too.

That's all. Mostly just needed a reason to link to this tool: MapMyWord

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mass Interactive: Open Houses

Truth awareness and transparency is opening the doors of our homes.

Some examples:
HGTV, the home and garden cable channel owned by Scripps Networks, launched a social network this week called Rate My Room.

The idea is self-explanatory: it’s a Flickr or YouTube for rooms, allowing users to upload photos of their rooms, tag them, and have them rated and commented on. You can then find the top rated, most viewed and most recent rooms. There are profile pages, too, but these simply aggregate all the rooms you’ve submitted.

The site is a bit plonky now, but interesting thinking with loads of potential presuming improvements are ongoing. The brand connection to HGTV is intuitive and smart, too.

*One slight confusion I have is the relation to, which seems to be the same idea, and name, created by an interior designer from Atlanta. I can only assume HGTV has covered this potential conflict?

Anyways, another interesting (and similar) house share community is Curbly, "a community of people who love their neighborhoods."

And finally there is Zillow which is about a year-old and headed by the founders of Expedia. Consider it the E*Trade/Expedia/Craigslist/MLS of Real Estate. House values are valued for all to see (harvested from local municipality data), with useful trending data to aid users' search and decisionmaking. Though there are some early-stage flaws with coverage and up-to-date accuracy Fortune magazine reports that 4 million visitors a month are checking out Zillow's 52 million house valuations, making it one the internet's biggest real estate destinations.

And, not surprisingly, it is the real estate agents (protecting a $27 trillion industry) who are the loudest critics of Zillow, perhaps fearful of suffering the same disintermediation that travel agents endured when sites like Expedia came on strong.

Zillowblog here

via Mashable, Marketing Vox and CNN Money

Unbanked: Banking America's Undocumented Immigrants Redux

According to this recent story on NPR, MasterCard and a group of wireless companies are developing a way to allow migrant workers to send money back home, using mobile phones.

By one estimate, U.S. workers sent $45 billion to their native countries in Latin America in 2006.

Other Unbanked Immigrants posts here

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rumor Mill: MLS Zidane The Verge of Tipping

Zizou was caught at a Knicks game, so he must not be serious about retirement. I don't care how ridiculous it sounds, I'm going to start spreading this gossip and hailing Soccer's new seriousness. (Whatup Beckham.) Come on Chicago, live up to that name and really make it hot.

Friday, February 16, 2007

PSFK Conference New York

PSFK Conference New York
Tuesday, Mar 6, 2007 8:30 am - 6:30 pm
New York, NY

“Planting Seeds”

Mike Byrne of Anomaly
Scott Campbell
Kacy Coll of Naked
Wendy Dembo
Josh Deutsch of Downtown Records (tbc)
Jill Fehrenbacher of Inhabitat
Doug Jaeger of TheHappyCorp
John Lee & Jiae Kim of Theme Magazine
Floyd Hayes of Cunning
Grant McCracken
Sascha Lewis of Flavorpill
George Murphy of Fitch
George Parker
Peter Rojas of Engadget
David Rosenberg of JWT
Lauren Rosenwald
Elizabeth Spiers of Dead Horse Media
Ken Rother of Treehugger
Kevin Slavin of AreaCode
Scott Witt of Droga5
Simon Sinek of Sinek Partners
Steve Hardwick of StawberryFrog
Rony Zibara of Fahrenheit 212

Inbox of Immaturity

Valentine's Day isn't so sweet after all... below is a little bit of love and a lot of anger.

First, for the love of ladies like Marisa Miller to Beyonce SI-gh.

Those are some serious heart-breakers, but here's proof love hurts: UNC's version of The Break-Up.

That kind of hurt somtimes leads to violence, and it's possible these 3 guys were feeling a little Lonely when they went on the offensive/attack:

Shark Attacked! by drunk Aussie.
Young Wrestler Attacked! by dad.
Reporter Attacked! by eye doctor.

But remember it doesn't have to come to that (breaking up). Here are some potentially relationship-saving man cards.

Anyway, with V-Day dunzo, now it's time to Wake up, get back to reality, and start to worry a little less about love and a little more about taxes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ad Agency Deathwatch: Anamoly

CNN Money reports on plucky 2-year-old start-up, Anamoly.

Regarding their recent win of Virgin America, "Anamoly brought a pitch that sounded more like a takeover bid: Carl Johnson, Anomaly's 48-year-old co-founder, hauled out plans to design the interiors of Virgin's new A320s, fashion the flight attendants' uniforms, and create the content for a pay-per-view seat-back entertainment system."

"Anomaly didn't want the usual hourly fees, either. 'This is an investment where we get a cut of sales,' Johnson told Virgin's marketing chief, Spence Kramer. One month later Johnson's no-name firm got the nod, to the astonishment of many in the industry. 'The pitch was unlike all the rest,' Kramer says. 'They never even mentioned ads. They were telling us how we could make more money.'"

CNN Money further outlines what separates Anomaly from the rest of the pack...

1. Creative compensation

2. Product design

3. Mobile marketing platform

via CNN Money

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Culture: Generation Unmotivated

Ok. Now this is probably going to make me sound like an old man, but I really do worry about the future of this country when I think about the youth today. I was watching an episode of My Super Sweet 16 on MTV the other night (insomnia causes strange behaviors, its true) and it got me thinking.

The show is a perverse display of wealth, with 15 and 16 year old boys and girls enjoying parties on their birthdays that rival royal ceremonies in other lands.

I started thinking about how the show is a sign that America may be becoming an entirely different country than the one envisioned by the fore fathers. The "American Dream" revolves around the idea of being a do-it-yourself, hard working, striving individual, who fights to achieve success and prosperity for themselves.

Now, such wealthy parents in this country are providing their kids with the world on a platter before they even hit age 18. So what is the incentive for these kids to be motivated- to study hard and get good grades, a good job, and make money when they already have it all? I struggle with the fact that the parents, who obviously busted their respective asses to get where they are, would not want to instill that same drive in their offspring by making them work hard for at least some of the finer things in life. It seems that these wealthy people are breeding a generation that will add no value or contribution to society because they never had to work for anything, so how will they magically start one day?

Now, I will say that I by no means struggled in life and was given a lot by my parents. But I was still raised with the belief that to "make it" in this world, it took hard work. If I had been given a $100,000 birthday party, a $90,000 Benz and a list of other goods on my 15th birthday, honestly what's my motivation to work hard- be it school, career?

I admit I'm going on a rant due in part to one particularly obnoxious show, and this is not representative of an entire generation. But this is what's on TV, and it influences the opinions of a broader audience. If this is what appeals to today's youth, does it signal that they do not wish to work hard and achieve success for themselves the way their parents did, and that the hard working entrepreneurial spirit that drives this country may be fading in future generations?

Bringing this back around to thoughts on branding, what might this imply for marketers? Today many brands seek to achieve status and prestige, and be a symbol of strivers and go-getters- take Nike for example. How might this affect their standing? A generation that wants everything handed to them certainly doesn't see the value in putting blood, sweat, and tears into becoming a better athlete.

Closing thought and then I'm done with my rant: MTV pisses me off, and yet like a car-wreck I just help but watch. Ugh...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Black Sheep of Advertising:

Figured I'd take Seth and my discussions public and take a look at post-Superbowl.

I quote from USA Today (who ranked's SuperBowl ad dead last creatively):

"The sales-lead website generated more than 10,000 new customer subscriptions by late Monday, far more than the 700 it said it needed to break even on its ad cost. "Our ad wasn't supposed to be funny or clever," InfoUSA CEO Vin Gupta says. "It was supposed to bring in subscribers, and it's been successful beyond our wildest dreams. We're already working on next year's ad."

It ain't exactly a pillar of creativity...but one has to ask: "well, didn't it work?". And if it worked, well, to again quote that statesman Bishop Don "Magic" Juan, "Don't hate, congratulate."

I do agree with Seth, though, that surely there is a CHEAPER MEANS TO GET THESE SAME RESULTS...AFTERALL, SALESGENIE SUPPOSEDLY CHAMPIONS SMART AUDIENCE TARGETING. "I don't work hard. I work smart," proclaims Pierce so smugly.

A true Black Sheep of Advertising, such as Ron Popeil, champions THRIFT ABOVE ALL ELSE. Black Sheep Orthodoxy typically endorses anti-advertising in lieu of more POP, or economy/weakened judgement effects of late-nite media flights, or :10-only buys, cluster flights of 2 or 3 :10 or :15 TV ads ganged up to pummel the senses and/or co-promote multiple products, strong mnemonic jingles and repetition (ie "you bet your sweet Aspercreme!"), or just plain smarter audience targeting with their media money.

It is somewhat ironic that SalesGenie didn't get their 10K subscribers more smartly than with this very mass blast at America during SuperBowl.

On an unrelated note...I've been working on a SuperBowl assessment and some of you may find the following figures interesting for Suprbowl XLI AftrBuzz
Social Media Metrix
v.Tue13Feb/4:40pm CST

Topline Highlights
Total Social Media =655,236 Views @ YouTube+MySpace+iFilm

@ YouTube
:30 Spot =224,023 Views @ YouTube
@ MySpace
:30 Spot =343,847 Views @ MySpace
@ iFilm
:30 Spot = 87,361 Page Views @ iFilm

Some of the online sentiment included: Fervent disapproval, Violated, Not relevant, Disengaged...

To quote a few respondents...
"Biggest piece of shit commercial ever.”
"umm... that was crap”
"i want my 30 seconds back..."
"positive side to this commercial? gives you time to run to the bathroom"

Of course, SalesGenie would say phooey to this mass sentiment...afterall, the 10,000 marks he needed were engaged enough to activate whether you liked it or not.

Unbanked: Banking America's Undocumented Immigrants

According to the FDIC, an estimated 10 million American households are "unbanked" or "underbanked" (the Economist estimates 12 million) -- they do not have accounts at banks and other mainstream financial institutions.

According to a Aug 2006 study by BearingPoint and Visa, approximately 84 million people are un- and underbanked, representing $1.1 trillion in income. Assuming these consumers spend 1% of their income to pay for financial services, that amounts to $11 billion.

These cash consumers pay excessive fees for basic financial services, are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders, or have difficulties buying a home or otherwise acquiring assets.

Undocumented immigrants — 10 million to 20 million in the USA, depending on estimates — blended long ago into the mainstream Hispanic market, which corporations are increasingly courting. +

Figures on how much undocumented workers spend are hard, if not impossible, to come by. But researchers from the Federal Reserve to PricewaterhouseCoopers predict that the Hispanic and immigrant economy will grow rapidly as those populations soar in the coming years.

The University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth projects that Hispanics' spending power — personal income after taxes — will rise from $490 billion in 2000 to $1 trillion in 2010.

In recent years, banks across the country have been offering checking accounts and even mortgages to the nation's fast-growing ranks of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic, and many are generally unable to get major credit cards.

Bank of America, for example, has begun offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers, typically illegal immigrants, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. The new Bank of America card is open to people who lack both a Social Security number and a credit history, as long as they have held a checking account with the bank for three months without an overdraft, the Journal said. BoA tested the program last year at five branches in Los Angeles, and last week expanded it to 51 branches in Los Angeles County, home to the largest concentration of illegal immigrants in the U.S., the Journal said.

The bank hopes to roll out the program nationally later this year, claims WSJ.


-In 2005, Bank of America opened more than 1 million checking accounts for Hispanic customers, equivalent to the customer growth of a big Latin American bank.

-48% of U.S Hispanic households use at least one Bank of America financial product, from checking accounts to mortgages.

Nearly half of Bank of America's new hires last year were bilingual Spanish speakers. Bank literature and signs in many branches are printed in Spanish. And the company makes strong showings at Hispanic community events such as Fiesta Broadway, a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Los Angeles that draws a half-million Latinos.

Bank of America also puts on "financial literacy" seminars at Mexican consulate offices to educate immigrants about banking services, including SafeSend, a remittance service that's free if customers also open a checking account.

"We want to establish a good and solid financial relationship with the Hispanic population," Wagner says. "We know they want to save and put their money in a safe place."

The impact on these markets with regard to loyalty may hold huge potential for banks who can help people get over the economic handicap of first-time credit access. Read this recent testimony from an undocumented immigrant who states, the "credit card is the real ID in America".

At least 200 U.S. financial firms and other businesses accept an identification card called matricula consular, which is issued to Mexican nationals by Mexican consulates. More than 4 million immigrants carry the cards, according to the Mexican government and the Congressional Research Service.

And then there is the global picture of the unbanked...

I quote from a Oct 2006 Economist article, “Most South Africans do not have bank accounts. But most do have mobile phones”.

"In most of Africa, for example, only a fraction of people have bank accounts—but there is huge demand for cheap and convenient ways to send money and buy prepaid services such as airtime. Many Africans, having skipped landlines and jumped to mobiles, already use prepaid airtime as a way of transferring money. They could now leap from a world of cash to cellular banking.

Heretofore, the problem has been that the cost of customer acquisition and maintenance has been higher than the expected revenues and so these markets lay fallow (or were priced - from the consumers’ point of view - prohibitively expensively).

Check out upstarts like Wizzit which offers a view at just how we may get the world's unbanked onto the grid thru cell phones.

And South Africa is certainly not exclusive to mobile-phone banking: countries such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines are dialing in their unbanked thru mobile technology.

via Reuters, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Economist

Black Sheep of Advertising:

Perhaps it is my checkered past and tough upbringing in the mean streets of schlocky advertising, but I am
just as fascinated by the lords of bad advertising, the black sheep like Ronco, Tom Vu, Girls Gone Wild and Head On who keep our economy going with their school-of-hard-knocks theories that, frankly, can be hard to refute at times.

NYTimes speaks to those shameless, but seemingly profitable guys at (don't act like you don't know...those online banner ads with the hypnotizing dancing silhouettes).

The company, one of the Internet’s biggest advertisers, routinely festoons Web sites large and small with its ads, spending $74.6 million on them in the first 11 months of 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The surprising success of the ads led LowerMyBills to a significant payday: the credit agency Experian bought the eight-year-old company for $400 million in 2005.

Internet companies like LowerMyBills are called lead generators because they take loan applications filled out by customers who click the ads and give them to actual lenders like Citibank, which pay them for the referrals. The company’s success hinges on buying lots of low-cost ad space on Web sites and then persuading users to click.

Matt R. Coffin, the co-founder and chief executive of LowerMyBills, said the company’s ad campaign represented a return to traditional advertising principles rather than an embrace of the latest conventional wisdom.

“Building a brand is often about being different, and we are always looking for new and innovative ways to attract the attention of consumers interested in lowering their bills,” he said.

When asked about what the ads have to do with home equity loans or debt consolidation, Mr. Coffin said: “Our view is that people are crazy about saving money, and when they do save money they are very happy.”

And there you have it. Simple creative brief if I ever heard one.

Jennifer Uhll, graphic designer and creator of the campaigns said her online advertisements for financial companies, including ones she created before and after she worked for LowerMyBills, typically earn around $4 in lender referral fees for each dollar spent on the ad. The average for most lead-generation companies is less than $2 earned for each dollar spent on Web ads.

Timothy Hanlon, a senior vice president at the Starcom MediaVest Group, a media communications firm, called the company a “bottom feeder,” but he added: “The last time I checked, advertising was designed to draw people’s attention. On that level, LowerMyBills succeeds with a gold star.”

An archive at logs the creative executions (surely these are going in your next presentation decks).
And a blog that (wtf?) tracks their creative executions, too!

As that great American poet, pimp and statesman Bishop Don "Magic" Juan states, "don't hate the player, hate the game."

via MIT AdLab and NYTimes