Bloomberg Powers Up Immersive Content to a New Level

In marketing, ‘content’ should not be a noun, and certainly never an adjective. Great content is an action verb; it doesn’t just sit there, it drives you to take action: to like, to comment, to share. Great content makes you engage.

This wonderfully imaginative content from Bloomberg does just that incredibly well. To promote a number of articles they published on the serious challenges brick and mortar retail faces today, Bloomberg developed an old school, 8 bit looking web-based video game called American Mall. The challenge? Keep a shopping mall running and profitable in an environment where every challenge seems stacked against you.

It is an absorbing task and only becomes more engrossing the more you play and explore. Most amazingly, it creates a real sense of empathy for the challenges people in this sector face today.

Play the game here

Enjoy your exploration and struggle but know that you will not win. That seems to be Bloomberg’s point, though it’s not one I entirely share. Still, when you do fail, take note of the final nemesis laughing at your demise; it’s just another wonderful detail in this clever and exceptional piece of content.

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PS: A special thank you to my relentlessly curious and marvelously informed friend and colleague, Dr. Kate Sieck, for sending this link my way.

Score One for MassMutual vs. Russian Trollbots

I’m an unabashed fan of films that feature people being nice to people. When all of Bedford Falls shows up to support George Bailey, I tear up. When the ground support team works around the clock to create a hack for the overburdened CO2 scrubbers in Apollo 13 because failure is not an option, I tear up. Heck, when H. I. and Ed McDunnough get caught returning Nathan Jr. to the home where they stole him, only to have Nathan Sr. free them both with a wave of his pistol and the admonishment “Before you go off and do another foolish thing like busting up, I suggest you sleep on it…at least one night“–yep, waterworks. I just like seeing people being nice to people. So you can guess how I reacted to this epic, affirming, inspirational ad on the Olympics last night…

The perfect song and amazing true life stories, all told with many of the people directly involved in them, this ad exemplifies genuine emotion powerfully realized. If you want to read more about all the individual stories, you’ll find them here.

At a time when broadcast networks, self-interested lobbies, and foreign operatives actively work to divide us, this spot serves as a wonderful reminder of America at its best and how we can all do and be better. Mass Mutual, their agency collaborators at Johannes Leonardo, and Radical Media should take great pride in this work.

Yep, I teared up a bit. And I don’t care who knows it.

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Talking Super Bowl Stuff with Wendy & Bill

Every year, I look forward to this day and my annual Super Bowl commercial recap with WGN 720’s Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder. Aside from being pants-wettingly funny, Wendy and Bill always bring their own fascinating, non-advertising-centric perspectives and I walk away thinking about things a bit differently. Good conversations have that effect.

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On a side note, if your city ever gets an opportunity to host a Super Bowl, do it. It’s a lot of fun and brings a ton of energy to the downtown that more than makes up for all the visitors and their unimaginative “but it’s so cold” whining. Even better, if your city planners can install special lighting around the venue, maybe you too can create something half as amazing as this…or you can do it in post, whatever.

Prince

Almost two years gone and Prince still owns this city. Remarkable.

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“Video Content: Why”: a Free e-Book(let)

That’s right, free. With no purchase.

Twenty-two pages of facts, links, and thinking on the many ways video has evolved from a selling platform to the preferred communications platform.

Our world has changed. Smart companies have commissioned research to learn exactly how so I’ve been reading what they shared, sifting through the hyperbole and exaggeration endemic to the blogging world, all to catalogue the best thinking on how to leverage online video.

OnVideoContent

I want to share this thinking with anyone and everyone who may be interested. Download it, share it, use it however it may help; I simply ask that if you have feedback or input on how to make it better, share your thoughts. Our digital world is iterative which makes constant improvement a real possibility.

As I post this, we stand halfway between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas day; consider this my ecumenical Holiday gift to you. Read it in good health. And all the best for the New Year.

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PS: Find other downloadable links on this page.

Video: Evolving Beyond Selling

So yesterday, I was lucky enough to present for the West Michigan Content Strategy Meetup’s first-ever lunch and learn webinar.

Of course, being that it was ‘first ever’ and involved warring Apple and Google technology platforms, it was a bit of a car wreck; dropped signals, video blackouts, etc. But happily, like all things digital and video, you can fix it in post. So we did.

My thanks to my old friend Scott Smith and the charming and redoubtable Laura Bergells for making this a terrific experience, technical difficulties and all.

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A Positive Pre-Thanksgiving Meal Message

As Thursday’s feast looms, most of us have one word in our mind: tryptophan. That sleep-friendly amino acid behind so many of us missing the second half of the Lions game…

Peter Diamandis has a different word in his mind: abundance. As one of the founders of Singularity University and Executive Chairman of the XPrize, Peter relentlessly beats the drum for the positive advancements made possible by technology, despite what he considers the epidemic of negative news by the media industry.

Last weekend, he released his annual Evidence of Abundance PDF. This relentlessly positive document is filled with all sorts of data supporting basic premise that we live in times of extraordinary abundance and opportunity. Consider food scarcity and hunger:

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Diamandis cites World Bank data showing the percentage of the world’s population with an inadequate caloric intake dropped from 18.6%  in 1991 to 10.8% in 2015.

Though we’re clearly not done, that’s progress. And that’s worth giving thanks. Have a wonderful day tomorrow,

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PS: Actually, chicken contains more tryptophan, so it’s not the turkey, it’s actually the stuffing. Of our collective faces. Overeating is really what makes us so sleepy.

Oh Canada! A Pre-Thanksgiving Travel Message

Everyone knows the day before Thanksgiving is our busiest travel day of the year.

Except it’s not. Summer weekends consistently outrank it. Nevertheless, this is a week fraught with family, shopping, and travel, so this little piece seemed timely…

If we must accept that foreign powers will influence our social feeds, let’s choose the decent people of Canada over the divisiveness-spewing trollbots from Russia. We make mistakes, we apologize, we shake hands and move on.

What a wonderful world that would be…

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A Pre Thanksgiving/Black Friday Shopping Message

According to data from Adobe, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday 2016 all set records for online sales, totaling over $5.5 billion. Black Friday remains the monster; last year, Friday online sales topped the three billion mark for the first time ever, reaching $3.34 billion: an increase of nearly 22% over 2015.

In bricks and mortar, ShopperTrak reported a 1% drop in foot traffic from 2015 over the Thanksgiving weekend, but Black Friday itself didn’t dip. The manic early morning shopping rush has clearly become a new holiday tradition; retailers predict it will hold strong this year even as they foresee another 5%+ growth in online sales.

Retailers revel in this reorientation of our Holidays toward mass consumption. But the Forest Hill Church in South Carolina takes a different perspective. Last year, on December 3, their in-house creative media team posted this “Christmas Presents” video to Facebook…

It’s not particularly sophisticated or slickly produced–all the actors are either churchgoers or staff–but the idea itself struck a resonant, relatable chord. Over the past year, it’s earned well over 6.3 million views and been shared almost 93,000 times. The idea of gift wrapping the everyday gifts we take for granted is simple and powerful. And joyful; for a non-actor, director/congregant Matt Nunn delivers a very likable performance as the man who wakes up with so much gratitude.

This is a brilliant example of relevant video content and clearly, Forest Hill is very savvy with multimedia. They also have a great looking website that boasts lots of content. They’re definitely doing it right.

First and foremost, by starting with a smart, relatable idea. Well done.

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Thanks to my friend and constant student of culture, Neilan Tyree, for finding and sharing this video on Facebook.

Today’s Example of How Creativity Pays

Ad agencies struggle to convince clients to pay for creativity, mostly because we gave it away for years, trusting television’s healthy margins to more than cover the cost of development. And so we inadvertently devalued our industry’s one core asset that spans medium and format: the idea.

Which is why it’s so fun to hear the story of Max Lanman, who recently decided to help his girlfriend sell her car online. Actually, he used her old Honda to produce his idea of making a luxury car commercial around a junky car. Her vehicle was one of a whopping 382,298 Accords produced in 1996, but now, twenty one years and 141,000 miles later, her “Greenie” shows its age…

The thing is, this spot’s fun but not especially hilarious. A similar used car ad spoof featured on this blog back in May used outsized visual effects to far more hysterical effect. Yet the simple fact that Max took the time, made the effort, and did something delightfully unexpected in a tired, uninspiring venues made his work shine.

It also paid off handsomely. Kelley’s Blue Book values the Honda at just over $1400. After posting the spot on YouTube last Thursday, Max and his girlfriend listed the Accord on eBay for $500.

By the weekend, the bidding hit $150,000, and eBay took the listing down, understandably concerned about “illegitimate bidding.”

Now it’s back up and bidding currently hovers around $4300: almost ten times their initial asking price and well above the Blue Book value. All because of Max’s creative idea and approach.

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eBay also released this statement: “Mr. Lanman is a talented filmmaker and we’re pleased that the eBay platform brought us together. We’re hoping to work on some creative video projects with him in the future.

Wow. Nice work Max. Well played.

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