Freedom Pt. 1

This post is a quick break from my normal format. Rather than critique and analyze a specific spot or campaign, I want to talk briefly about the freedom of the Internet. (Though this post is the result of watching the below add from www.backcountry.com.)

 

Television advertising is awesome. If it is your only option.

Advertising on television was still the best option until the past few years when brands and marketing firms realized the full freedom the Internet provides.

The quality of some of the Internet -only ads we’re now seeing are stunning. Foregoing television saves you money (so now you can hire the director, create the production and shoot in locations you could not afford), allows you to make your spot as long as you want, lets you include explicit content and encourages creativity in making a truly interactive campaign.

Television is the big, slow giant that can no longer guarantee the audiences it used to be able to deliver. The Internet has taught organizations that if they push hard and make something remarkable, they will get noticed. Despite all of the noise and yelling, the internet not only provides freedom for advertisers, but it also provides freedom to audiences to decide whether or not an ad is worth their time. Television, for decades and decades, had such large audiences compared to other media that it could demand big money from advertisers and attention from audiences. The beauty of the age of the Internet is that (even with more and more regulations being imposed) it provides everything and dictates nothing. Art and freewill are encouraged here, and I love it.

Hello Flo, Goodbye Mom?

I just say the trending Camp Flo video a few days ago. Check it out below if you have not already seen it.

I am late to the party, as usual.

Apparently this online advertisement for controversial new startup Hello Flo has been generating an enthusiastic discussion about the right and wrong way to approach a young woman’s first period for over a month and a half.

While that conversation is valuable, I have another discussion in mind: Is a mailed box with tampons, pads and candy timed to a woman’s cycle a necessary service? What does this approach to such an important a milestone say about us as a society?

The video is humorous and helps approach a sensitive subject. In fact, it is one of the most impressive internet-only ads I have ever seen (this one is great too). And, at first, the service seems like a really, really good idea. But I thought about it a little more and feel like once the virality of the video wears off, Hello Flo will have a hard time keeping a clever idea relevant (kind of like every Portlandia skit).

How hard is it to go to the store and buy the items FLo will mail out? How much less expensive is it just to do it yourself? How many mothers (parents) will skip the un-feeling box for a more personal bonding experience?

We are a society preoccupied by anything except our families. We work hard to make money and provide good lives for our families, but we frequently make decisions that remove us from our loved ones.

Perhaps companies like Hello Flo will thrive due to the unfortunate (and made-up) busy lives we all lead.  No jinx or offense intended, but I hope Flo resonates with some for the right reasons but not with the masses. I hope we are not that far gone. I hope that families with the ability to do so will take the necessary time and thought to spend time and experience life with their daughters.

bicycle helmet covers teach an important marketing lesson

 

I saw a bicycle helmet cover today along the lines of the above trend-centric number. The company that makes this one is called Yakkay (link above).

Before today I had no idea “fashion” covers of this kind even existed, which made me start wondering about how one might go about marketing a product like this.

A super fashionable helmet cover markets itself to a degree. The vain, super self-conscious and fashion-forward (or trendy) folks are going to find this stuff on their own.

Not that long ago (or, before the Internet era) television commercials and a heavy run of print ads would have been needed to jump start awareness and sales, but now a strategic Internet presence, some business savvy and a bunch of friends spread out all over do the trick.

I imagine the company that makes the above cover has spent some money on marketing, but I would wager that their budget is a fraction of what it might have been and they have spent at least 80% of their marketing monies in Internet arenas.

Certain products attract certain types of people. It has always been that way. The only real change is that it is cheaper, easier and more fun than ever to raise the necessary awareness your product needs in order to find its way to its natural consumer.

the circle is round

It may sound like I am stating the obvious here, but the circle is round. Further more, it has no end.

Before the Internet, television, radio, billboards and even pamphlets, there was word of mouth.

Someone found something awesome and told everyone else about it.

Technology has been steadily changing the way consumers and companies tell others about interesting products and services, but the heart of the action has stayed the same. Think of it as the difference between standing in the middle of Times Square and saying something, yelling something, yelling something through a large plastic cone, yelling something through a microphone hooked up to an enormous sound system.

People all over the world talk about social media as if it is some sort of marketing revolution. As if social media is allowing us to do something new. Yes, the scope and method have both changed. But at the core, we are doing the same thing we always have: Telling the people around us about things we like.

I went to a hippy-dippy private school for grades 1 – 3 where we sang lots of songs. One of which was about friends, and it goes like this (to be sung in rounds):

“This circle is round, it has no end/ That’s what it’s like to make new friends”

And that is how I have come to think about what marketers are now calling “Word of mouth marketing.”  We have always shared things we like with people we like, now we just have an incredibly large and fast electronic pipeline uniting our network.

Television gave companies ultimate control of what was pushed to consumers. The Internet has brought us further around on our circle by connecting more people than ever before in the history of the planet. Information and ideas can now flow freely around the globe in a way our ancestors never could have imagined. The urge to share those bits of knowledge and creativity has always been there, we are just doing it again. And on a whole new scale.

The question should never be what is next. The question should always be, where on the circle are we?

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