Well That Was The Perfect Internet Story…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonAs humanity awoke this morning to find itself still standing despite all the yap for the past year and a half, a bit more sobriety entered the collective water cooler conversation. The Mayan Apocalypse was essentially the perfect internet story; hugely dramatic and just plausible enough given its grounding in a little understood but widely recognized ancient culture. It didn’t require intelligence to discuss; just a facile glibness or quick punchline. And while it centered on Doomsday, it wasn’t nearly as scary as the far more uncertain society that fills our newsfeeds and can break our hearts ten new ways each and every day. And so despite the spate of debunking articles that have circulated for months, we willfully kept it alive, enjoying its a frisky, puppy-like distraction.

Frivolities like this pass for journalism these days. Television was once considered the most voracious maw for content consumption but it is nothing compared to the infinite pages and constant, mind-spinningly fast turning of the web (Google just returned about 309,000,000 results in 0.17 seconds for “Mayan Apocalypse”). Meme sharing, sex scandals, horrific acts of violence; all of this is fodder for the fast turn and quick commentary and so extremely useful for filling web pages. And if the focus on speed and sensation sometimes leads to linking the wrong person’s Facebook page photo to the name of the most vicious killer in recent memory, well, whoops. We’ll be moving on in a fifteen hours or so.

Come to think about it, I’m going to miss this Mayan calendar distraction. So many of our other stories seem so small and dull in comparison.

Happy Friday, glad we’re still talking.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


The Web: Normalizing and Championing OCD

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonEveryone knows the web is a wide and wild and often aggressively weird place. We understand it houses a lot of unsavory things (rule 34 anyone?). But there is also a glass half full viewpoint. The one that celebrates the web as a welcoming home to anyone with a vision, no matter how narrow and long-tail that vision may be…

Consider Brendan Chilcutt. Brendan imagined and created the Museum of Endangered Sounds where bit-by-bit, he is amassing an audio record of earlier times and technologies. He collects and preserves the sounds of rotary telephones, Gameboys and dot matrix printers, sharing them with the world via his charming website, savethesounds.info.

As he puts it:

“I launched the site in January of 2012 as a way to preserve the sounds made famous by my favorite old technologies and electronics equipment. For instance, the textured rattle and hum of a VHS tape being sucked into the womb of a 1983 JVC HR-7100 VCR. As you probably know, it’s a wonderfully complex sound, subtle yet unfiltered. But, as streaming playback becomes more common in the US, and as people in developing nations like Canada and the UK get brought up to DVD players, it’s likely that the world will have seen and heard the last of older machines like the HR-7100. And as new products come to market, we stand to lose much more than VCRs.” 

Indeed Brendan, we do. And thank you for counting me among the audio cognoscenti who recognize the subtle yet unfiltered sound of a vintage JVC VCR. There just might be some future time when I simply must be reminded of the nearly-forgotten sound of the synthesized human voice on a Speak and Spell toy, and I’ll be deeply relieved to know that I have your site bookmarked. A grateful, if largely oblivious nation, thanks you.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Comportment v2.0: A More Relevant Way To Consider Branding Today

Consider the word “Comportment:” one of those dusty, remainder bin nouns on par with dated terms like “dungarees” and “sarsaparilla.”  On those very rare occasions when people use this term today, it refers to some sort of dated propriety, a finishing school bearing usually cited with a tall helping of irony.

And yet, marketers would serve their clients well to consider how comportment online and offline affects their client brands.  In a world that enables quicksilver consumer reaction to every brand and action, how companies communicate can be as important as what they communicate.

Unintentional Collateral Damage

Unintentional Collateral Damage

This nineteenth century word popped up this morning when my wife groused “I hate Netflix.”  That seemed odd.  We no longer subscribe, though we did for a while (of course, this was before discovering the wonders of $1 DVD rentals through one of the 12,000 amazingly convenient RedBox locations: not coincidentally, a valued agency client).  It turns out, whenever she clicks the main browser window closed on Safari, she finds the same Netflix banner behind it, forcing her to click that window closed as well.  Not a major issue, but since it happens time and again, it frosts her pumpkin.

As I reset her preferences to thwart pop-up windows, I thought about how oblivious Netflix must be to this unintended impression.  And how dangerous that kind of thoughtlessness can be when multiplied over the millions of impressions that happen online.  While advertisers should think of the web as a vast data engine, they should also realize that it is an intimate communications platform.   So behaving like an uninvited guest and refusing to leave won’t build your brand.

Sometimes, cheap media can really cost you.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Goodbye 2008. Now Get Lost.

Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass 2008...

Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass 2008...

I won’t miss 2008.

We hit a rather rough patch this past year.  Personally, professionally, heck even meteorologically (Chicago’s wettest year on record)–2008 delivered a seemingly unending series of heartbreaks, bad breaks, and just plain disappointments.

But somehow, despite the fact that nothing more separates 2008 from 2009 than an arbitrary draw of chronological numerics, I know the coming New Year will be different.

Because I will be different.  And I believe a good number of people in our industry will be different as well.  

We will be different because we won’t wait to see what changes technology and evolving media habits bring; we will be a part of those changes, riding the wave and trying new possibilities on web, mobile, and social platforms.

We won’t wait to see how clients react to those changes, we will stay a halfstep ahead of our clients, introducing changes and helping make sense of them.

And we won’t wait for consumer confidence to return to the market after hitting record lows in December, we will hustle it back ourselves with ideas and campaigns that build something even more meaningful than short term sales: long term brand faith.

I don’t have a lot of John Mellencamp on my iPod (though in fairness, the man is woefully underrated and puts on a surprisingly amazing live show), still just this once, I want to quote a lyric from Your Life Is Now:  “CAUSE I BELIEVE YOU COULD CHANGE YOUR MIND AND CHANGE OUR LIVES.”

It’s not what happens to us, it’s what we make of what happens.  So on to a New Year, new thinking, and bold, new experiences.  I can’t wait.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79