Television Commercials Aren’t Dead. They’ve Just Gone New Places. Amazing New Places…

Remember this spot for Cheerios? It first aired this past month and due solely to its casting of an interracial couple, incensed a disturbing number of bigot trolls, whose inflammatory comments forced General Mills to shut down comments on their YouTube page (but, admirably, not back down and pull the spot–way to be, General…).

It’s nothing more than a TV commercial. The same kind we’ve been watching for decades. The same kind certain pundits have deemed dead in today’s interactive age.

Television is far from dead. The numbers prove we watch more of it than ever. And as this spot demonstrates, no other medium has the breadth of reach or emotional impact of moving pictures and sound. No, while television may be many things, it is certainly not dead.

That said, television has definitely been transformed, mostly by the participatory web. A tiny but vocal smattering of racists attacked this sweet, simple story, using the coward’s cloak of online anonymity even as millions of people reacted normally, with emotions running the gamut from delight to benign neglect.

But those prejudicial attacks spurred another small but vocal group—Michael David Murphy and Alyson West from Atlanta, Georgia–who decided it was time to answer that ugliness with a showcase for love and family. They created a Tumblr  called “We Are The 15 Percent”: a reference to the 2008 census which noted that interracial couples make up 14.9% of all marriages in the United States. Michael and Alyson’s blog invites interracial couples and families to send in their photos as a counterpoint to this sort of idiotic bile. In just a few short weeks, they already have over 2500 submissions. And with national coverage from outlets like MSNBC, those numbers should continue to swell.

The photos are beautiful. The movement is affirming. The reach of television empowered by Web 2.0 is a marvelous thing to behold.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Kim Jong Il is Dead…

…and hopefully, that will portend very good news for starving, oppressed North Koreans. Long recognized as the only nation shown to be entirely dark at night by spy satellites, we can only hope that this dangerously delusional leader’s passing will usher in progress for that nation’s people and not just a new era of heightened tensions with South Korea.

Dennis Ryan, Minneapolis, Chicago, Olson

The coverage of this event immediately brought to mind this casually brilliant Tumblr website: kimjongillookingatthings.  If you surf here and don’t find your surfing experience to be scarily reminiscent of the media coverage of his death, something is horribly, desperately wrong.

The Kismet-like match of world event and ironic website just shows the infinite variety adaptability of creative human compulsion.  Remarkable.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


You Can Waste A Ton of Time In Sixty Seconds…

On Monday, MSNBC’s Technolog posted the graphic below which outlines exactly what happens out there on that World Wide Web every blessed minute of the day…on average of course.  Even a casual perusal can be kind of mind blowing: Google answers nearly 700,000 search queries, which is roughly the same number of status updates posted on Facebook each minute.  Over 168 million emails are sent, 20,000 new posts go up on Tumblr and over 13,000 hours of music stream over Pandora.  And beyond the limits of minutes, over 110 new pictures posted to Flickr every second!

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising

Of course, things really get crazy when you convert these minutes to full days.  Or god forbid, actual years.  Do the math on YouTube video uploads: if there are over twenty-five hours of video added every minute, that means there are over 1,500 hours each hour and a whopping 36,000 hours every day, which equates to well over four years worth of video. Every day.  Good luck keeping up with that.

Thanks to the ease of content generation, the explosion of social sharing and the basic premise of Web 2.0, content isn’t just King, it’s exponentially ubiquitous.  Or some other expression that means really, really freaking massive.

Damn internet, you scary big!

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Friday’s Arcane Meme Celebration: Marketing Client Bear

Now to the ever expanding pantheon of short-lived Tumblr powered memes like High Expectations Asian Father, Hipster Ariel, and the Courage Wolf, lopes in MARKETING CLIENT BEAR.  And frankly, he’s kind of awesome.

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

Oh sure, some of you are still enjoying Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising, and that’s all well and good, but this meme takes that basic premise and applies it to a black bear.  A black bear sitting at a picnic table.  And that makes all the difference.

Enjoy.  And Happy Three Day Weekend Friday!


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


For Now At Least, The TSA Wishes Holiday Fliers “Happy Thanks-groping!”

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79It’s the news story you can’t avoid: since implementing their new pat-down procedures, the TSA has become a focal point for a fed-up public.  Critics rage about the intrusiveness of the procedure and how these aggressive new measures won’t stop determined terrorists so much as hassle law-abiding citizens.  Some believe the pat-down serves primarily to coerce people into using those new privacy-robbing full body scanners.

Judging from the volume of chatter on the internet, the TSA may have underestimated the public response.  As of yesterday, a Google search for “TSA Pat-down” returned 4,900,000 hits.  Everyone’s heard the shameful anecdote about the veteran flight attendant with the prosthetic breast.  And the chatter on talk radio only seems to be building.  Steadfast or not, this nascent agency doesn’t seem ready for the controversy, particularly in our Web 2.0 enabled world of today.

Today, everyone has a phone in their hand that records photos and videos.  So now we can all witness a TSA Agent strip-searching a young boy at Salt Lake City…

Today, everyone has a Twitter or Facebook account where they can post their personal experiences.  So now TV producers and magazine editors can quickly find human interest stories on the topic.

Today, anyone can start a free Tumblr blog, so now ordinary people can form national ad hoc repositories to express either their outrage or amusement over their TSA experiences.

The reality is that today, it’s no longer possible for any government agency to totally control any story, whether it’s a student uprising in Iran or Venezuela or a citizen protest here in America.  The tools of dissent are too widely available and wired into a viral, international network.

So will this rising hue and cry, magnified by the heavy Holiday air travel season, impact or even alter government policy?  From a specifics standpoint, it’s too early to tell.

But speaking generally, it already has.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


Embracing Dishonesty With Outsized Enthusiasm

We live in an information society.  Facts fill our days, data fills our screens, millions of answers wait just a 1.3 second long Google search away.

So it only makes sense that someone would decide to rebel against all that information with blatant disinformation.  And use a Tumblr account to do it.

Experience shameless fiction posturing as fact at Fake Science.  You’ll learn many things you never knew, and all of them will be wrong.  You won’t even have to go to Snopes to doublecheck.

Dennis Ryan Chicago Advertising Element 79

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79