If Facebook Was A Pair of Mormans

Imagine Facebook as a pair of potentially Morman Aussies? Would you trust them with the information you share with the website? This is a well-timed video considering the recent attempt by Facebook to smear Google for social-networking privacy issues.

Here are the folks from Burston Marsteller that were behind Facebook’s poorly executed op-ed campaign…

Meet Moe Larry and Curly: The three behind the Burston-/Marsteller Facebook campaign against Google


Dr. Who BBC America Campaign: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

As Hannibal used to say on A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

I love it when a (integrated media) plan comes together.

One of the most rewarding things about participating in online-video campaigns for big brands or network shows is seeing these launch simultaneously with television and print advertisements. We call it “integrated marketing,” and it’s easy in concept and difficult but wonderful in fruition. Okay, I like the payments better, but integrated marketing is still rare enough to be a pleasant surprise… especially when it involves “new media” and social. Of course, it’s difficult for a marketer or agency to time precisely a campaign’s “peak” in various mediums, given paid “insertion orders” (formal booking of space in media) often requires months of lead time. Likewise the “books” (magazines) can require months of advance notice.

I noticed that our YouTube GE Healthymagination campaign was timed well with a series of television spots, and most recently I’ve seen it on BBC America’s launch of Dr. Who (my video below was titled “Time Travel Fail, “What Year Do You Miss,” and “What Would You Do if You Had a Time Machine?” (thanks munchvids for the video response… it’s sad that those don’t get more real estate when the video plays).

The YouTube videos included time-travel themed videos, and included branded ads for Dr. Who

I wasn’t the only part of this campaign, and I’m writing this without any inside knowledge of the agency, budget, timing or execution. Hats of to MysteryGuitarman for this epic video that was also part of the campaign. I’m especially impressed that he found a “rotary pay phone” and managed to add a LED screen. And Joe, it’s making me crazy that you’ve managed to multiply yourself with better special effects than I see in most movies (Freaky Friday, Multiplicity). Vsauce’s video actually made me think, and TheStation participated with “Waiter Takes Out Restaurant.” Check out the whole series (a link to YouTube videos tagged ifIHadaTimemachine, then ranked by views).

The very week these YouTube videos launched, I noticed a prime print advertisement in Entertainment Weekly, a NYC “out of home” component,” and some “earned” media uptake (PR). Furthermore, the YouTube “branded entertainment” video series were wrapped with display and InVideo ads.

I like these “organic” YouTube campaigns that don’t force the brand in the webstar’s videos, but let the creator carry the campaign theme in their own way. The comments I’ve read are largely positive (a contrast from campaigns that require sponsored YouTube videos to have a branded slate at the intro, which is so forceful as to scare people away).

What can producers, networks, agencies and YouTube do to make these campaigns work even harder? A few ideas, but they all have executional nuances so it’s a bit unfair for me to “Monday morning quarterback.” Again- I know nothing more than what I’ve seen as a Dr. Who fan (and the very simple directions got via YouTube to make my video).

  1. Cross-link the videos so Dr. Who fans (I know you’re out there because many of you noticed the picture on my son Charlie’s shirt) would be able to move through them without having to leave YouTube (only a few percent of people leave a YouTube session for an ad, and that’s when there’s a strong reason).
  2. I would suggest the digital agency also run paid-search ads for related keywords (even though I doubt there are loads of people searching “time machine” and “ifihadatimemachine” the cost of that inventory would be minimal). I’d certainly be buying ads for those people searching for “Dr Who, BBC America” and related terms, which would help get more eyes on the campaign website: “TimeMachineTales.” Buzz drives search, and it’s a shame to see Amazon books rank higher than the 2011 version of the timeless show.
  3. Take advantage of YouTube’s “live” programming to augment the April 23 premier with something real time (perhaps one of the webstars watches the debut and invites interaction with fellow fans). If MysteryGuitarMan said he was going live on YouTube on the evening of April 23, I imagine hundreds of thousand would follow.
  4. Recognize that the YouTube aspect of the campaign is valuable far beyond the campaign. For instance, my Fringe promotions have accumulated significant views long after the debut. There’s a perpetual nature to these programs. As Hitviews CEO Walter Sabo says, “Campaign Duration: Forever.” The 105 videos his company has delivered for brands have accumulated in excess of 30 million views.
  5. Finally the real way to “break the fourth wall” is to allow a television show’s cast to interact and collaborate with prominent YouTube creators. This can be difficult, but possible. In the case of my “Meet the Fringe Cast” video, I simply learned the cast was at ComicCon, and I convinced the sponsor (Fox) to allow me the same access the network/producers gave to professional media. In another example, we saw V’s “Anna” (Morena Baccarin) appear on YouTube’s homepage with a custom message for YouTubers, and that was a “bar raising” move. Now imagine iJustine mingling with Mark Sheppard, which would carry as much weight as a local media tour to promote the show. iCarly’s Freddy Benson (Nathan Cress) met with YouTube’s prolific “ShayCarl/Shaytards” in a casual meeting that I would have paid to facilitate if I was Cress’ manager or iCarly’s promoter.
  6. Lastly, and this is really difficult, it would be great to find ways to permit clips from the show intermixed with the YouTube videos. For very good reasons this is rare. Often the network promoting the show doesn’t have the rights to use the content in promotion. The benefit, however, is you can give people a contextual teaser of the show’s actual content… as I did with “Fringe is Scary.” These clips were approved by the producer (JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot) for use with media, and I even snuck in some very tiny snippets beyond those in the media library.
IF I HAD A TIME MACHINE hosts tweets and videos related to the campaign

I’m sure it was not part of the campaign that Elisabeth Sladen died this week (she’s the British actress who played intrepid investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith throughout the classic BBC series’ 30-year run). But only one Guy calls those shots, and he’s not much of a marketer (thank God).

Busted: “Hacking Times Square With iPhone” Is Deceptive Film Promotion

Take it from the author of “Beyond Viral,” dear reader. Viral video is like fire. It can create a toasty fire or get people burned. Today we learned out the Times Square billboard hack video was part of the campaign for the film, Limitless.

The deception was the brainchild of the viral-video maker “ThinkModo,” according to the New York Times, who “outed” the stunt.

“We’re pushing the engagement of an idea which leads you then to the product,” ThinkModo’s James Perceley told the New York Times in his defense. “It just is a whole new mind-set where you don’t have to wrap everything up in a bow and if you don’t, people are going to be a lot more interested in you and what you’re selling and what your message is.”

We think otherwise. Calling it “engagement pushing” is simply misdirection. It’s unethical marketing that is deceptively disguised. The lack of transparency (of the film’s financial support of what appears to be a user-generated video) is reminiscent of the 1950 subliminal advertising, which sends “buying signals” to our subconscious without our executive-brain’s consent. This despicable tactic shows the seedy, desperate nature of marketers who don’t mind duping journalists, technical blogs, audiences and potential ticket buyers… all in the name of “engaging” audiences in immoral promotion of a film.

Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington is calling the campaign “a sad, desperate state of sensational adverting,” and apologized Sunday to TechCrunch readers. Arrington reports:

“We believed the video’s creators had indeed hacked Times Square’s billboards, and that it was a newsworthy event that would interest technical enthusiasts. Had we known that we were being duped into free advertising by ‘covert agents’ of the film’s promoters, we would not have run the article so prominently. TechCrunch urges its readers to boycot Limitless, and promises to apply more rigor in our future journalism”

The campaign for the “Limitless” film, staring Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper, includes other a misleading and deceptive practices including a Web commercial for NZT, a drug featured in the film. Apparently the term “Limitless” refers to the film’s marketing practices, and the complete “lack of limits” in scruples of desperate marketers.

While I do many sponsored videos, I always disclaim the brand or company that supports my videos. Can’t we expect the same from others?

Still reading?… Is this blog post and its facts and opinions actually real? No. But suppose after feeling outraged by this post (either in support or defiance of my point) you later found out that this faux WillVideoForFood post was simply a paid promotion for a new book called “Business Ethics: Decision Making for Personal Integrity & Social Responsibility” by Laura Hartman and Joseph DeJardins. In this hypothetical experiment, I’m asking you to pretend you later learned that my faux written tirade was, in fact, a ruse that omitted transparency about my financial compensation from McGraw Hill. Suspend belief momentarily, and imagine I didn’t “come clean,” but was “outed” by another blogger who reported that my post was simply a compensated, masqueraded promo for the book. Would you trust my reporting if you learned this post was a promotional gimmick? (It’s not).

Would you feel duped, or would you say, “hey that Nalts is pushing the engagement idea to cool new limits.” I’m just curious.

Confessions of My Clown Phobia

Courtesy of The Viral Factory for Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co KG
Product: RITTER SPORT Chocolate
Agency: elbkind Hamburg
Photo: David Königsmann
Graphics and Web Production: buddybrand, Berlin

Note: If you share it on Facebook, it assumes you’re a German speaker.

Poptart Taps Top YouTube Musicians

Credit to Poptart for tapping the two most-subscribed YouTube musicians: DaveDays and VenetianPrincess, and for taking over the homepage to promote the campaign (exhibit A). Let’s look objectively as possible at this campaign to see what worked and didn’t…

Interactive YouTube Banner Promotes Poptarts Via DaveDays & VenetianPrincess

The homepage takeover caught my attention first, even though I’m subscribed to both of these musicians and enjoy their work. Had Poptart not included them in the homepage ad, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the ad and certainly wouldn’t have looked further.

While the YouTube pop-tart channel isn’t seeing loads of views or positive ratings (see exhibit B below)…

Presumably designed to provide continuity and increase branding and engaging, Kellogg commissioned some more highly produced videos. These did not score as well (see comments, views, ratings and comment clouds)

VenetianPrincess and DaveDays are getting a more positive reaction on the videos they create and distribute on their channel.

For instance, here’s the score on DaveDays video seen more than 750,000 times. Nearly 80 percent gave this video a “thumb’s up,” which is just slightly lower than recent ratings of his non-promotional videos.

Nearly 80 Percent Thumbs Up (for the DaveDays video).

What worked:

  • Kellogg did a great job tapping people who are already known on YouTube, and it certainly cost them less than getting stars.
  • The videos, as evidenced by views and ratings, were better received than ads.
  • The homepage takeover page helped drive views and brand engagement. It’s important to couple webstars with a media buy since neither alone is as effective.

What could it improve?

  • The biggest problem this campaign faces is that it’s completely dependent on the talent and their musicians. The notion of a “battle on taste” is devoid of any humor, or “reason to engage” with the brand or its channel. These two are capable of far funnier musical parodies (check out Dave’s Miley videos or Jody’s song parodies for proof). So presumably they were not given great direction or creative freedom.
  • I’m not sure the expense on the “play-by-play” transition videos was worthwhile, unless it cost a lot less to shoot than it appears. It might have been better to toss in another YouTuber, and have them figure out a more organic way to connect the videos and work in the branding.  Those promotional videos got hosed on ratings and comments (see below):
Poptart's Videos, by Contrast, Got Low Views and Poor Ratings

You Suddenly Want a Mobile Home

I didn’t think I wanted or needed a mobile home until I saw this. But I might just drive a few days to get one of these used, Cullman liquidation mobile homes… because of this absolutely candid, brilliant and real advertisement. Sure there’s a shot that looks like potential blood stains on a floor that are “covered up,”  but the hot chick, whip & vulture sounds, badass dialogue, and the chainsaw made up for that.

Brought to you by the brillianty talented Rhett and Link, who keep raising the bar and jumping over it. And sponsored by Microbilt in what might be the most effective online-video campaign for a small business ever. Why? It’s entertaining. What other possible way could Microbilt reach people so broadly? Sure, only a small portion of them will be qualified Microbilt candidates, but with a net this size, you can have lots of holes in it… and still bring home some tuna.

Put that on your brag book, Microbilt and Rhett & Link. You’re still bringing home some tuna. See more at ilovelocalcommercials.com, which is bound to catch some media attention buy (with Rhett and Link’s rapidly growing fan base) doesn’t need it. There’s a whole suite of them, and they’re sweet.

Most Unusual Commercials: Cuban Gynecologist & AutoSalesman

I’d buy a bag full o’ shit if Rhett and Link were promoting it. They are probably the best creative duo for online-video promotions, and I’ve written about many of their promotions, from Butterfinger to Alka Seltzer.

Perhaps their weirdest campaign, “I Love Local Commercials,” has the comedic pair bringing life to an otherwise boring company called Microbilt, which serves small companies.

Rhett and Link will be traveling America again, and making local commercials for lucky folks like… the cuban gynecologist and American autosalesman. Here’s the video introducing the campaign, and below is the charming  “making of.”

And to applaud Microbilt’s willingness to not overly whore itself in the videos (even its company site is 2 clicks from the campaign landing page), I will now list a series of things Microbilt can do for you.


And yes I’ve already nominated Nalts Consulting. I can’t think of something that would make me more proud than to hear the lovely voices of Rhett and Link espouse the power of online-video and social media. What rhymes with social media?

Why Agencies Are Killing Social Media & What You Can Do About It

Rapport-building anecdote to engage you: Around 1999, I worked as an account manager at a website-development company called Frontier Media Group. It was a company that specialized in production of online-properties and kiosks. My biggest client (which became the company’s second largest) began treating us like its “Internet Agency of Record,” and that took us far beyond project work. It was a vote of trust, and suddenly we were being asked to evaluate media buys and pilots. “What should the ratio of my Internet budget be in terms of web build versus online advertising?” they’d ask. I rushed back to the shop and pleaded my agency’s senior leadership to develop online media-buying services to handle display advertising and paid search… they resisted for more than a year, finally compelled less by duty and more by the incremental revenue it could snatch. “Hmmmm. A chance to snatch five percent of digital spending that was increasingly going online.” They hired a media guy whose job it was to battle offline media agencies who, of course, saw this internet-advertising fad as a horrific waste of money (which only coincidentally cannibalized their billings, but I digress).

we put the no in innovation

Now, a decade later, social media is facing a similar fate. As a marketer and independent consultant I see great opportunities that brands may not realize for years. As a former Internet agency guy, I understand why. It’s simply not yet profitable for an agency to engage in social media. Some account managers recommend social media, either because they know it’s in the brand’s best interest or they want to show they’re innovative. If the marketer appreciates the value, they’ll be heroes to the brand… even if they’re likely to be perceived as “going native” on their own agency. Why? Most savvy internet agencies haven’t figured out how to capitalize on emerging forms of social media, and urge clients to do things in their self interest. agency martini

Interactive agencies — and their big ol’ parental full-service agencies, to which I shall refer as Big Agency — are typically made up of account teams, production people, planners, media buyers and creative. They shout “teamwork and synergy” when they pitch, and they despise each other secretly. Each of these silos has its hands full managing such mundane tasks as updating a website or doing insertion orders for a fat & juicy digital media spend. These tasks are profitable. The account team, often the only one who may directly benefit from a social-media pilot because they’ll look progressive to their client, have precious few resources to actually manage even a simple social-media campaign. Who at the agency has done a video contest, a YouTube promotion, a Facebook or Twitter campaign? Who can help substantiate much less manage something new? Oh- there’s someone who did it… but he’s busy with new-business pitch.


Meanwhile, Big Agency has very little incentive to partner with firms that specialize in social media (instead deferring to a full utilization of all agency personal before considering “outsourcing”). That’s consulting or agency-management 101… keep people “off the beach” even if their skills aren’t a good fit this particular decade. The specialist firms are, therefore, unable to get a seat at the table. “We don’t need them for that,” says the Big Agency chief creative officer or senior media buying executive. “We can do that ourselves!”

The result is that the “social media” campaigns are often a failure. And so, it seems, the medium is too. But to paraphrase British Author G.K. Chesterton (and Bruce Grant, who paraphrased him in his own way):

Social media has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.


  • Bloated destinations on Facebook or Twitter that lack any relevant consumer engagement.
  • Little appreciation for “earned” engagements (not paid) because media buyers aren’t media engagers. They’re buyers.
  • Dismissive reactions to leveraging popular social-media “stars” because the agency sees that as a creative threat. The turtleneck-wearing, cigarette-holding creative director is insulted by letting their brand near an amateur YouTube star even if that chump has a bigger and more vibrant audience than will any professionally produced ad.

If an Internet firm or Big Agency can’t profit from social media (and sees it as a risk), how hard will they push it? Does an account guy want to take a risk for his client, only to be slapped around by 5 departments at his own employer? Will that Big Agency junior social-media advocate with skill and experience ever have an opportunity to help the agency, much less a client, tap the medium?

Meanwhile, the PR firms (who are instinctively appreciative of “earned” media that is so valuable in social media) are often not invited to contribute. These guys can’t spell HTML and didn’t have a Twitter account until it was all over the Wall Street Journal and NBC. If they do employ a social-media expert, the poor sap has the same fate that “web monkeys” held in PR and traditional agencies in 1999. They lack access to the clients, are not participating at a strategic level, and don’t even play nice in the agency sandbox.

This is a sad post, so let’s cheer it up and make it actionable. What can Big Agency (and even the nimbler ones) do to avoid these legitimate traps?


  1. 101 course for every department. Just like everyone at a traditional agency should have a basic understanding of the Internet, so too should they appreciate new forms of media. Not everyone needs to “tweet,” but they should be able to describe a successful case study related to each major media form (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, and whatever else comes along). They may discover that “social media” can help their department instead of threaten its existence.
  2. Senior champion required. Every agency needs a senior advocate for these innovative new solutions that might otherwise die. His or her job should be to champion these and determine how the agency handles them. Should the media department handle social media, or does it fit better in the strategic, research, or planning group? I’ll give you a hint- this decision is the most vital.
  3. Take small innovation team off billable clock. Someone or a small group should be relieved of billable-hour pressure to identify emerging models — some that may not yet have a profit model, but can help a client’s business. This person or team should share best practices, and know what firms, vendors, consultants solve various problems. In some cases, they can simply educate account teams and connect them with these experts. But if it’s a first-attempt at what may be a high-maintenance project, this team might “run point” to manage the initiative from setting goals to collecting metrics. In many cases, it should educate account teams (and not just those pitching a new assignment), hand the project over, and return to collect the performance… ensuring it’s not redundant to other departments. Some of this work may have already been done on billable time, but if it’s buried in an account team it’s not going to help the new pitch or other client.
  4. Mutual profitability. Niche social-media players (startups and specialty firms) and the large agencies need to figure out how to partner in a mutually beneficial way, and that takes more than driving great results for a client. The “vendor” and the agency both need to have a clear role and profitability. For instance, if Buzzmetrics is better than the agency’s homegrown “web monitoring” solution, than outsource and mark it up (by adding value on the output). If some weird Twitter guru freelance consulting can offer some guidance, give them a seat early and define their boundaries. The freak’s input may help optimize a program, kill it justifiably, or save it from becoming an embarrassing headline.
  5. Pick wisely. Social-media startups (and especially consultants) are sometimes brilliant solo players, but don’t know how to do the jazz ensemble. Others have decided to pursue a niche passion, and have no interest in doing things outside that realm. If Big Agency senses a specialist firm or company wants to be a full-service agency, then one can understand why Big Agency wants them far from their clients.
  6. Make a black & white list. In emerging forms of advertising, there will be winners and losers related to both the medium and the people that executed a program. An agency needs to keep tabs on vendors and programs that succeed and fail. That means tracking both the performance of the medium (YouTube) AND the partner (an online-video specialist) that managed the assignment. A success is probably indicative that both are solid. But a failure could mean one or the other, and knowing the right answer will be important to determine if another attempt is made.
  7. Timing is everything. On one hand, few want to be the first to pilot something new, where it’s hard to predict outcomes much less scope time it will take. When an agency has trouble and a simple project gets bloated, it either needs to reevaluate how it did it… or determine that it’s a cost-prohibitive tactic because of the manpower it consumes. On the other hand, by the time it’s 100% clear that a social-media tactic will work, it’s probably an antiquated one. There’s an old African proverb: “if you wait for the whole beast to appear before throwing the spear, you’re already too late”).

Now I invite you, dear agency and brand readers, to provide your own thoughts (anonymously if you choose, as WordPress can’t track your ISP). You’re so very quiet on this blog that I sometimes worry you’re not reading. Please share! Otherwise I’m only writing for the fun regular commenters I call the WVFF back row.”

What Did YOU Think of the Bill Gates & Seinfeld Campaign?

I MUST know what you think of this Bill Gates and Seinfeld campaign. Please scan this short article on the Huffington Post, and watch the clips if you haven’t. Then comment below, but be specific. Why do you like or not like them?

Then, and only then, are you allowed to peek at the “more” section where I offer my opinion.

Continue reading “What Did YOU Think of the Bill Gates & Seinfeld Campaign?”