Thursday, December 18, 2008

Product placement > advertising because it makes you happy, not nauseous

When the Times started squealing that advertising on Facebook was too hard for Proctor and Gamble, I thought of the best ad I had seen on a social media site recently. I was looking for a moment of entertainment and decided to search for some longboarding videos on Youtube, and I found 'Western Sessions'. It wasn't too serious, just some friends having fun, and it made me happy. No, really - an advertisement made me happy. And not only did I voluntarily watch an advertisement, I sought it out

It wasn't the only longboarding video I watched ('Longboard racing in Austria' was the most exciting), but it was the only one that was explicitly an advertisement, just not the cheesy slogan kind you get on TV. Any of the other videos I watched would do as an example, but this one was interesting because it was partway between the old way of advertising where you tell the audience what they should buy, and the new(?) way, where you give the audience something nice when they ask for it and they thank you.

Lets have a look at the goods and services advertised in the video:

Domestic and/or International tourism in the Rocky Mountains
a Volkswagen Rabbit (tiny, but holds lots)
the riders - Scott and Mike
Nick the filmmaker
The team behind the scenes who put the episode together - the editor, the announcer at the start, the sound mixer...
Weather forecasts
um, elk?

...and the only explicitly advertised material was the music and Original Skateboards.

I'm betting this didn't cost thousands to put together, and it could have been done even cheaper without compromising the quality too much. At the core it's just 3 guys and their boards going out skating - and they could have rented the car and the camera.

The Times thinks advertisers have to be either intrusive or have to spend "ungodly sums" to advertise on Facebook. I think that's retarded, and the Times is hurting it's own brand when they treat me like I'm retarded.
Maybe someone on Facebook needs to start an Advertisers group, so they can all network together and come up with ways to mash their products together in an 'ad' that doesn't suck rocks.

Lets imagine the conversation:
"I want to sell clothes!"
"I want to sell Volkswagens!"
"I want to sell weather forecasts on mobile phones!"
"You guys are weird and old! I just want to go skating with my buds."

Ta. Da.

Seth Godin's right when he says that brands should be less greedy, there's lots of room on the power law distribution for many differents sizes of company, but it's really hard to get to the top. Attention is finite and the network effect works like gravity - it's hard to catch a comet (customers attention) if you're small like the moon, but easier if you're huge (have a reputation for making awesome 'viral' ads) like Jupiter.

Maybe some brands just aren't cut out to be attention catching enough that I'd want to follow them on Twitter. I don't think I'd be interested in an ad for weather forecasts, but it works well enough in the video. I can't imagine wanting to know Crest Whitestrips better, but Original Skateboards, with his habit of linking to fun skating videos? Yeah, I'd follow that.

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