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Archives: August 2009

Strategic Alliances: MRM and Aniboom Team Up, Crowdsource

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MRM Worldwide and Aniboom, a virtual animation company, have entered a “strategic alliance” that will give the agency access to 8,000 animators in 70 countries. Included in the partnership are plans to crowdsource creative concepts, a practice that got Crispin Porter + Bogusky some bad press from designers who see it as a diluting agent for their trade.

Aniboom explains their business:

“Aniboom cultivates animated content by leveraging the web, providing online animation opportunities such as animated competitions and free online animation software.”

MRM explains their crowdsourceing plans:

“Aniboom can execute advertisers’ concepts and creative ideas using a proprietary technology that organizes their animators into production teams. This process makes animation faster, cheaper and of comparable quality to traditional studios.”

And their plans to have animators compete for work: “MRM’s clients can launch a content creation competition in the Aniboom community for advertising solutions and have the community at large or a panel of judges select the top finalists and ultimate winner of the assignment. Or the competition could be private, with only the final results exhibited to the public.”

Crowdsourcing/competitive RFPs are part of a group of highly-volatile trends that have become increasingly popular. While crowd sourcing has been most detrimental to designers of late, cloud computing and free-content publishing have hurt (and helped) the IT development and journalism businesses, much as designers feel crowdsourcing has affected their industry.

These trends breed competition and bolster the idea that capitalism weeds out weak links. They also make it hard/unappealing for established industries to bid on business that’s sought through these methods, as cost can outweigh profit. But if there’s one thing free-trending has done, it has leveled the playing field somewhat for new players. May the best _____ win.

This happened awhile back for journalists, who used to expect anywhere from 40-50 cents per word for a freelance story. When your average piece is 1,500 words that’s not a bad take. Today a writer is lucky to get $10 per post, a change that was ushered in by blogging.

Oren Frank, Global Chief Creative Officer of MRM:

“At MRM Worldwide, we build Customer Utility which is a means to make the brand message itself useful to the customer. In marketing, useful is the new clever, and Aniboom is certainly useful and certainly clever.”

And now other industries are feeling the same storm brewing. By partnering with Aniboom, MRM unwittingly aids in devaluing design/animation creators. But they also save money. More on Aniboom, here.

More:CP+B’s Gets Grief for Crowdsourcing Logo, Own Site Used Against Them

Today on the Menu: Rendon Group Fired, Bush Daughter Hired, Magazines Inspired

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Walking into the last week of summer is like the parking lot of a shopping mall before Black Friday. Soon new TV programming will air, kids will head back to school, football and basketball season will begin as baseball winds down. For that reason, today’s media news is but an errant Styrofoam cup, rolling about said parking lot. No one really cares if it’s picked up but for a brief moment before being tossed aside, it held something of value.

The Pentagon canceled its contract with Rendon Group, a D.C. based PR firm infamous for pushing the WMD idea back in 2002. Reason for the split, as cited by Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, a senior communicator in Afghanistan: Rendon had become a distraction. How’s that for decisive.

Jenna Bush Hager
is going to be on the Today show every now and then. The twice-published author, charter school teacher and former first daughter will help NBC’s morning show viewers understand politics more gooder.

Signs that the economy is recovering (or that people are stupied): new magazines are being published. With advertising!

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Beatles Come Together for RockBand Spot

Every now and then a dead-homie or two pops up for a commercial, like when AKQA reanimated JFK’s mouth for Greenpeace. But this isn’t that. Will the responsible agency please come forward?

(H/T @ryebrow)

More:AKQA Brings Back JFK for Greenpeace Ad

We Hear: Chrysler Steers Project From BBDO

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Right up front you should know AdAge’s Rupal Parekh had a version of this story up first, but that isn’t to say we didn’t know about it. In brief, BBDO may have lost a Chrysler project. What we happen to know that our fine trade-colleagues don’t (or wouldn’t publish) is where the “project” is headed. The answer may surprise you, because an Omnicom agency is not likely to win the business. And well, BBDO in particular shouldn’t mind that (despite the total kick in the balls they’re suffering right now, publicly). Where to begin…

No matter how this story plays out it’s important to remember a lesson from journalist/author Chuck Klosterman, who notes that the angle of a news story depends wholly on whoever calls the writer back first. That said, let us remind you (and ourselves) that internal politics, personal relationships and the drama of separation will draw this story in every direction. And the truth is likely to exist only in the boardroom where decisions about this project are made. What we’ve put together for you is a snapshot of what we’ve learned over the last year, and some basic thoughts about what it all means.

99 Problems, and an Agency
Chrysler has a number of problems: the company is dealing with bankruptcy, Cash for Clunkers is over, recent advertising has been less than memorable and the brand has all but lost touch. Harsh? The only car that’s worth looking at is the Challenger, a rejuvenated muscle-car-era vehicle that does nothing for that whole environmental sustainability thing the kids are in to. And let’s not forget Peter Arnell‘s golf cart idea was like, well on its way before the bankruptcy.

From what we’ve heard, BBDO’s pitch for the Q4 creative-only project was more of the same. One source mentioned something about a certain animated character doing a dance, but that’s less than a fair assessment. From what we hear they didn’t come up with anything to write home about.

The Good Times
And that brings us to the reason that BBDO might be upset by their client’s attitude. The agency has cut staff, weathered $58 million in late bills, required employees of the Detroit office take two-week unpaid vacations. And that’s just the stuff they’ve done as a result of Chrysler’s woes.

Let’s not forget that Atmosphere was absorbed by Proximity, BBDO Atlanta cut staff by 10% due to reduced client needs, and Starbucks. Don’t even get us started there.

Change is Usually for the Better
The message to take away is that anytime you have a major corporation vying for a big change, as Fiat undoubtedly is, the agency would have to part water to keep the account. Now is the time for Fiat to reposition the Chrysler brand (name an agency that doesn’t need the work). Let’s not forget the consumers, who are in need of communications solutions that make sense.

In addition to those factors, there’s one point that BBDO could and should take action on: the automaker’s disloyalty. BBDO would do well to fire Chrysler and cut their losses. Aside from saving face that would allow them to focus on winning an account that needs an agency like BBDO. Enter Volkswagen.

Clean Slate
VW and Crispin parted ways. All we know for sure is that CP+B doesn’t do the review thing, which leaves one of the hottest foreign car brands for the taking. Though BBDO has VW in Brazil, their relationship with Chrysler bars them from taking the US business. That aside, it’s fair to say that if BBDO somehow won the VW account their reputation would get a shot in the arm, temporarily. And it might be a good fit for VW, too.

Client Needs

Volkswagen wants to do a big end-of-the-year push, we’ve heard. They have a few new cars to introduce and need an agency with the reach to get their products in front of drivers. As the “Apple” of the car world (our interpretation), the brand doesn’t really have to work hard to make sales, just say enough to prick the ears of cash-holding consumers. This year, BBDO won the Network of the Year award at Cannes for the third year in a row. And despite how anyone reading this may perceive the importance of that fact, it’s a strong selling point for a client who wants that kind of service.

VW’s advertising background leads us to believe any creative team would salivate at a chance to pitch. BBDO should get some teams together (note: and don’t make it an internal competition) and go for it.

The Likely Outcome
Hopefully, BBDO is thinking about maintaining a little dignity, but more likely key players are vying to save the Chrysler business while creatives and planners frantically look to reinvent their approach, feeling like whatever they do will be futile. And that brings us to the competition, whoever that is, and the pitch that wins the project. Independent of all the information we’ve presented you with, it’s unimportant (We’ve heard Fiat has a habit of handing off projects to agencies outside their roster as any smart company does). But when put in front of what you’ve read here, any lost business looks like another scoop of dirt on the coffin for BBDO.

This isn’t to say BBDO has lost the project or that they’re definitely going to lose the account. But looking back over the last few months it is acceptable to question the relationship’s strength. For the sake of the thousands of you in other agencies who are facing the same or similar realities, we hope to see BBDO rebound in a way respective of their history and the people who fill desks, every day.

In a few days we’ll be able to tell you more about the agency we hear is leading in the pitch for Chrysler. It won’t be groundbreaking news, but you will want to pay attention. Any time there’s a shift in big business, the rest of the industry does well to pay attention. If nothing else, it makes for a good Sunday read.

More:BBDO Elevates Troy Ruhanen to Deputy Chairman North America

DJ AM Found Dead in Soho Apt, Reports Claim

DJ AM, aka Adam Goldstein, was allegedly found dead in his Soho apartment earlier today. Early reports indicate drug paraphernalia were found at the scene.

One report claims a friend of Goldstein’s went to his apartment but when the entertainer did not answer he called the police, who entered the apartment.

Goldstein was the same DJ who nearly died in a plane crash with Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker.

More:Sen. Kennedy Dies Exactly One Year After Historic DNC Speech

Friday Odds and Ends

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-Vodafone’s had a busy Friday, first launching an “urban tag” tourney to promote HTC handsets and then handing back OMD its 800 million pound international media planning and buying account. link; link

-MRM Worldwide and Captain Morgan are letting you punk friends via mobile messages. link

-Move over Bajaj, Harley Davidson is infiltrating India. link

-Interactive agency Definition 6 acquired New York editorial/design/production company Creative Bubble. link

-Mashable offers five “fresh” ideas for social media marketers. link

-Santa Monica, CA-based prodco BeachHouse Films signed director Marshall Vernet for spot and new media project representation. link

-IBM will likely contribute to the further fattening of America as it’s filed a patent to create a TV remote that lets you blog and tweet. link

-Ex-Minnesota Vikings player Onterrio Smith is auctioning off his drug test-defying product The Whizzinator tonight in his homestate. link

More: “Thursday Odds and Ends

Advertising’s Problem: It’s Focused on Advertising, Not Solutions

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Rather, it’s only focused on how advertising can solve problems. And when you’re the CMO of a multinational corporation like, say, Pepsi, you have a lot of problems that advertising can’t solve. Traditionally to address communication issues you’ve hired a variety of companies who all claim they can achieve the same goal (making you more money) through various methods. But these design and PR and advertising companies use old worn out tools, and despite employing really good mechanics, no mechanic no matter how talented can replace a head gasket with his teeth.

Last week’s PSFK conference was all about the past and the future. How general of them. There were some points made about being nimble, flexible, open and all that &#151 which got me thinking about how every agency says they’re that. But they’re not. As James Othmer explains in AdLand, retaining a client that wants to move on is like convincing your significant other not to leave you. And then your lover says (this is the review scenario), “OK, but before I take you back I’m going to spend the next six months meeting and sleeping with other people, some of them your friends,” etc etc. And then the bitch ends up with Jim, the douche bag that used to dead horse drunk girls in college.

What Othmer’s example fails to explain is that when the client moves on, no matter how good the agency, at some point they’ll probably move on again. History has shown this to be true: key players leave, needs change, relationships sour. Each subsequent agency ends up dealing with the same or similar problems that the last tried to or couldn’t solve, all the while making money and thinking they’re doing great. All the while wearing out their tools a little more.

They get worn out because consumers get bored with redundant, repeated messaging.

And so the idea to take away from this is that (and this is not my idea, but the person whose it is would not like to be outed) the agency that has the best chance of making it through the next 100 years is not an agency at all. It’s a group of people dedicated to solving problems for another group of people, so everyone can keep paying their rent. It’s your job to figure out what that means, but before you order another banner, spot, focus group or box of razor blades &#151 stop and think about whether or not messaging is what the group of people you’re trying to help needs. Or if maybe they should invest in training their customer service reps, or if they should donate to some charity. You can help them do it, creative agency people.

It’s hard, I know, but you’ll be OK. Rinse, repeat.

Note: I neglected to mention above that standard agency structure doesn’t really allow for this model. So I’m not really even talking about advertising then, but a sort of hybrid company that uses advertising in concert (or maybe not at all) with other business assets to accomplish a goal. So a company that achieves this methodology has a different mindset all together, and consciously breaks barriers to serve its client’s needs. I want to say “Think Different” here, but that’d give Chiat too much credit.

More:Op Ed: Gareth Kay on the Great Lack of Trust (in Advertising)

Papa John’s Gave Away 35,847 Pizzas Yesterday

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We’re not sure which is more staggering: that there are 35,847 Camaros out there or that 35,847 of them like Papa John’s. OK that’s overly rude of us, PJ’s has done a good thing for their brand and yeah, we’ve eaten more than a few of their pies. New York City has changed that though, so.

Via Jalopnik

More:Papa John Finds Long Lost Camaro, Buys for $275,000, Gives Away ‘za

Friday’s Illegal Ad: The iPhone App Store Goes Mad

Maybe there really is an iPhone app for everything, at least one can deduce that from this chuckle-worthy spoof of iPhone 3G ads which flaunts the apps you need to spy on and eventually win back an ex-girlfriend.

Via Illegal Advertising

More: “Friday’s Illegal Ad: George Lucas’s Standards May Have Lowered

UNICEF’s Direct Mail Effort is Still Flawed

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As The Denver Egotist points out, it’s hard to shit on charitable efforts, but whatever agency came up with UNICEF’s direct mail campaigning needs to check itself.

Envelopes have been sent out with the message “A Nickel Could Save a Child’s Life” that not only include an actual nickel, but then require you to pony up several more for postage and send the whole thing back. Wouldn’t they be better served just sending the nickel directly to the kid? Apparently, the organization’s never learned since this initiative/fiasco dates back to four years ago.

More: “Berlin Games Schtupped by Insipid Motto

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