How Native Advertising is Tricking You

Native Advertising is evil, and John Oliver grills it in this comedy routine

Native advertising is crap
Native advertising is crap

I started my career as a journalist. Warren Rogers, my editor and a well-known Washington D.C reporter, created a literal wall between the Georgetown Courier’s editorial department and the advertising team… it was wooden and about 4 feet tall. He taught me the importance of not having editorial pander to the needs of advertising. No lofty reviews of restaurants that took full-page ads out in our newspaper.

Sure the newspaper folded in about 6 months. And sure I now work in advertising. I still have a pet peeve about “native advertising,” which is basically advertisements that masquerade as content. You’ve seen them:

  • An apparent news story on a website that’s actually an ad for some diet product
  • A section of a magazine that, on closer inspection, is actually “advertorial” content (sponsored)
  • A tweet or Facebook post that’s paid content even though it’s designed to look like a post from a friend

We need to know when a commercial interest is impacting our news or entertainment. And it’s not often obvious. I don’t like search-engine results that are ads pretending to be organic. I don’t like product placement without credit/transparency. And I don’t like hitting a news website expecting to read an article, but it’s a poorly veiled attempt to pitch some crap.

Ads can do their job even when we know they’re ads. But news and entertainment cannot do their jobs when we have to worry about whether they’re ads or not.

So I took some pleasure in John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) absolutely ripping “native advertising” a second asshole. Enjoy…

The Onion Lampoons Viral. Tide Runs With It.

Last week, The Onion ran a wonderfully fictitious article by “Fred Hammond, Director of Digital Video and Social-Media Ad Integration, Tide Detergent.” Onion, you had me at hello. The desperately hipster editorial promotes his own low-involvement brand, and all of the cool (yet faux) social-media programs that try to engage Tide customers. Clearly Fred has read my “Stupidest Article on Social Media Ever.”

My absolute favorite line: “Go to Tide’s website and hang there for a while. It’s a totally awesome place to go and play online games and meet other cool fans of Tide products.” Because we always want to hang out with fellow customers of our brands.

The article opens by making reference to an “awesome new web video by Tide detergent.” A video that “everyone is discussing it on popular blogs and linking to it from social media platforms.” Sadly, there is no such video.

But in a self-deprecating and timely display, Tide and Digitas filled that void. Embedded below, please find Tide’s very own lampoon, which has already gotten some industry trade magazine attention (MediaPost). Per The Onion, Tide provides a hip rocker, puppets and groovy 80s music. Just 10K views so far, but that beats the ExpoTV product reviews littering Tide’s YouTube channel with views as low as 15. Even more notable is the sheer number of positive “likes” the video has so far (even though we know where some of those are coming from). And the video ends well like those rare SNL skits. Meet the bird in the laundry basket who tweets the finale.

Tweet

Some brands have cringed from The Onion satire. Others would have ignored it and moved on. Tide and Digitas get credit for embracing it, and riding it fairly quickly — especially by P&G standards. Despite my temporary Twitter hiatus, I couldn’t help but notice an @nalts tweet by Digitas’ John McCarus (who I met while working on a different P&G brand). His self congratulatory tweet just fits the whole thing beautifully.

Now for the learning for brands and social media folks:

  • Laugh at yourself. It makes others laugh with you, instead of at you.
  • Humanize the brand as being self deprecating
  • Move quickly (this wouldn’t have worked as well if it took one more week to post)
And the final lesson is revealed in this priceless quote by the fake author: “Everybody in my office has been going crazy for this video. It’s practically all we’ve been talking about.” Do everything you can to avoid drinking your own Koolaid and thinking/communicating that your brand is way cooler than it is. Let other people tell me how cool your brand is. 
In appreciation of this campaign I promise to: a) buy Tide, b) give Digitas props, c) not sue P&G for infringing on my Nalts logo.


 

Best Cartoon About Viral Video

Meet Tom Fishburne. He’s a former marketer that got wise and is pursuing his passion. Much like someone we know, who eventually sold out to corporate America again. I met Tom when he spoke at J&J and he looks like the kid in Sixth Sense.

This cartoon is brilliant because it reflects the naive hope that a viral-intended video will certainly go viral… and drive sales. If you haven’t heard this blather you may not find it as funny as me.

I wish I had it to include in Beyond Viral.

Nalts005

 

Annoying Orange on a Budget

Annoying Orange: The Low-Budget Version

I was searching recently for the cost of making a reality show. It seems per episode, the cost can range from $100,000 to a million dollars. Then I wondered if that model needs some desperate “belt tightening.”

Heck even Annoying Orange can be created for less than $100,000. In the satire I did with my kids, you’ll see it can be done for less than $1. Below is the script in case you’d like to read along…

AO: Hey. Hey. Hey Apple.
Apple: What?
AO: What’s wrong with your mouth?
Apple: It’s green screen, dude. We’re on a budget.
AO: Bean jeans? Is it casual Friday?
Apple: Green screen! We can’t afford Adobe Final Premier Cut, so your mouth is green screened.
AO: Oh green. Well Your mama’s so fat when she wears green she looks like a pool table.
Apple: Your mama’s so fat her scale says “to be continued.”
Pineapple: Yo mama’s so fat she wakes up in sections.
AO: Woah- check out your fake mouth Pain Apple. Or should I say poser-Apple?
Pineapple: PINEapple. And Your mama’s so stupid I caught her sticking food stamps in a Coke machine.
Avocado: Hahahaha. Fakest mouth in the kitchen. Fakest mouth in the kitchen. Hey Calvin Kleinapple. Spongebob called. He wants his house back.
AO: Ewww. Half-eaten avocado smells. Sniff. Stinky! What happened to our kitchen? Are we really poor?
Apple: Yes. Your mama’s so poor I saw a pigeon toss her a piece of bread.
AO: Your mama’s so poor people rob her house to practice.
Mini Marshmellow: Well your mama’s so fat she can’t fit in her pants.
AO: (Stares).
AO: Your mama’s so poor, the rainbows in her backyard are black and white.
Cabbage: Black? Why can’t you racists do a poor skit without a black reference? I’m going go back to the food shelter with my shawty and-commodities.
AO: Don’t be a sauerkraut, Cabbage. Hahahaha.
Cabbage: Sauer? Your mama’s so nasty her breast milk is sour.
Leftover Pizza (Laughs with chattered teeth)
Apple: Check it. leftover pizza and chicken wing liked that one.
Cabbage: Hey- You like that pizza and wing boy? I’m a talking cabbage. You’ve seen a red-cabbage. And a winter cabbage. But I bet you aint never seen a talking cabbage.
Apple: Dreamworks called. It wants its lines from Shrek back.
Jalapeno: Did you call me a wet back? Yo mama’s so old when she farted dust came out.
Apple: Oh, Senior Jalapeño. That’s gross and mean.
Jalapeño: Beaner? You call me beaner again and I’ll shiv you.
Mini Marshmellow: What’s a shiv?
Rotton Banana: Hahahaha. Senior Jalapeno’s getting hot.
Jalapeno: Hey Rotton Banana- don’t
Rotton Banana: How do you starve a Mexican? Put their food stamps in their work boots. Ha ha ha ha.
AO: Hey Rotten Banana. Knife!
Jalapeno: Pincho pinto pendadas. Ahhhh!
AO: You hurt his peelings, Jalapeno. Now he’s split.
Mini Marshmellow: What did the banana say to the elephent? Nothing. Elephants can’t talk!
Leftover Pizza (Laughs with chattered teeth)
AO: Look- smelly half eaten avocado’s seed fell out. Let’s plant it and grow a smelly half of an avacado plant!

 

Health & Community: Pictures & Video’s Impact

I’ve seen YouTube’s power as a community, and occasionally it rallies on behalf of an individual or cause related to health. However I’ve yet to see a health community that’s truly powered by images and video (and involves patient-to-patient peer support leveraging webcams and the Internets).

In general, I like when the power of new-technology marketing is put toward a health cause.

Some of the graphics are a bit more compelling than others

Like imagine the video campaigns that can come out of the FDA’s imagery for cigarette packs! Graphic cigarette labels: Will they work? You damned straight they will… at least compared to text. The proof is in other countries.

They challenge, of course, will be to use these negative reinforcements the drive urgency, then positive-reinforcement and behavior change to help people. A scary imagine alone can have moderate effect, but people are generally more eager to change when you tell them how and try to go beyond scaring them into change.

 

Now on a happier but related note:

PatientsLikeMe is a health site where you can specify your illness(es), see how other people rated various treatments, and (if you wish) engage with other patients. The site jumped on my radar when it launched years ago, and I wrote the founder. It surfaced again when it surprisingly was able to publish findings on co-morbidities (if you have x illness, you may likely have y).

The site held a video contest answering the question “how has PatientsLikeMe helped you,” and here are the winners (see link for embedded videos).

Here are the top winners chosen across three different categories:

Most Creative Presentation:
tiredoftired of New Jersey for Depression Feels Like

Most Inspiring Story:
tired old me of Delaware for Patients Like Me: Bonnie Tipton

Top Voted (by peers):
Roulette67 of New Jersey for I Am Not Alone

 

I Love Cats (Girl Crying in “eHarmony Video Bio”)

She loves cats. She may be faking, or she may be eccentric. But the real question you should ask yourself is… why are we sharing this? It’s like Chris Crocker being dusted off for a revisit.

June 12 addition: And here’s Mikeny500’s “I Like Beer,” and my “I Like Doughnuts” with Pipistrello tonight.

 

It’s Official: Newt Gingrich is Running for President!

Uncle Newt told me last night that he’s running for president. He made a YouTube video about it too. I’ve added 3 embeds for the video below, and I recommend starting the second about 2 seconds after the first (then the third 2 seconds later).

Let’s work side by side… side by side… side by side….

Oh here’s my remix of Newt’s announcement.

 

Non-Boring SXSW Video!

Okay we’ve had our fair share of SXSW footage, but this one is darned entertaining. And I’m not just saying that because my adult hero is David Meerman Scott. Tim Washer provides a brilliant foil to the self-deprecating and faux-pomposity of Scott.

Oh sorry… not familiar with SXSW (South By Southwest)? 1999 called and it wants to revoke your license to use the Internet. And if you have heard of South by Southwest but haven’t attended, click here to see AlexBlagg’s “SkankJenk” tips for noobs to become “sout by southbests“.

This clip (and the Blagg tips on secret barbecues of Austin, self promotion bumping, and the importance of not sleeping and eating) bring the annual love-fest of “cool nerds” to life. Scott chronicles the “off the beaten path” aspects in short, comedic montages. I challenge you… no I DARE you to find more interesting coverage. Bring it.

Now let me just make one thing perfectly clear about the “alleged” batts of Austin’s bridge. I went to Austin. I watched for them for hours one night. Then the next night. On the third night I discovered the bat rumor is a cruel Internet hoax. There are no bats.

Credits for above video: Directed and edited by John Knowles
Shot by John Birdsong. Brought to you by the Roger Smith Hotel

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