Author Archives: Belinda Darcey

Dramatic shifts in holiday marketing budgets for 2013?

Marketing Pie for 2013 holiday seasonWe couldn’t help but notice a flurry of recent articles on the aggressive shift in ad dollars on the part of big brands in terms of their marketing budgets for the 2013 holiday season. While the move to digital is nothing new, these recent reports hint at a marked acceleration in the trend.

Who’s gaining ground this holiday season?
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 3 years, it’s no secret that digital —specifically mobile ads and social media— is claiming an ever-larger slice of the holiday marketing budget pie. Consequently, production talent and advertising agencies are following suit, creating short-form ads for use across a variety of screens, not just tv.

Brands still need the quality inherent in a high-production-values commercial to cast their magical holiday spell. But this season, you’re more likely to encounter their video ads online courtesy of social media, or via your mobile phone on the commute home, than on your tv. And that assumes that you still regularly watch tv. (Hello, millennials?)

So who’s losing out?
Again, no surprises here: tv networks & cable shows are the ones on a restricted diet this holiday season. As per a report from Business Insider back in August, marketing budgets are showing an aggressive shift of dollars away from traditional tv networks and cable channels to online video and social media. As reported by Forbes last week, a poll of 900 ad agencies, advertisers, ad networks, and publishers claims that “video ads are exploding.” With newer, faster, automated ways of buying video ads, marketers now have an easier way of purchasing ads, mainly from video ad exchange services. Given the encouraging metrics, it’s no surprise that marketers are flocking to online video ads, despite the occasional PR snafu (e.g.  “This Beheading Brought To You By Nissan.”)

Video ads also provide brands with an easy way of inserting their content into newer on-demand video content. Forbes hints at a major discrepancy between agencies and marketers as to which areas are losing out: marketers believe it’s tv/cable and out-moded digital practices; agencies believe that it’s billboard and paid search that will suffer. The Wall Street Journal reports that Procter & Gamble are blazing a trail with a much larger ad spend on digital and mobile this year. The WSJ quotes Emarketer studies that show that “the average time that consumers spend with digital media per day is expected to surpass TV viewing for the first time this year (2013)… Digital ad spending in the U.S is expected to grow 14% this year to $41.9 billion, while TV ad spending is expected to grow just 3% to $66.4 billion, according to eMarketer.”

Changes within digital
But even within digital, many once-reliable methods are being discarded. Metrics (website visitor traffic patterns) clearly show a lower return for ye olde banner ads and other static display formats, as compared to the traffic generated via content that is shared on social media. The exceptions are animated or video display ads, which are still highly effective.

In response, Target’s chief marketing officer, Jeff Jones, clearly laid it out last week in this interview for AdAge: “The overall budget for the campaign is similar to a year ago, though Mr. Jones pointed out Target is shifting substantial portions of its budget to mobile, social, email and display. He said the strategy enables Target to be more personal, relevant and timely with the deals it is promoting. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter will be key platforms, he added.”

Nothing changes on New Year’s Day?
But come January, after the confetti’s been swept away, and downtime (aka “peak eyeball season”) becomes scarcer, and the sports channels gear up for Spring, will marketers revert to a more balanced marketing mix? Is it a short-term shift or a long-term trend? What do you think?

Breaking Through the Noise at NY Fashion Week

It’s tougher than ever to break through the clamour of glamour during New York Fashion Week. Every brand is producing a catwalk video and backstage interviews, and the now de rigeur 6-second Vine videos. How to stand out?

Smart fashion brands are producing branded content that entertains. What better way to showcase the spirit behind a brand than a playful video that gently pranks fellow fashionistas?

Following in the footsteps of Jimmy Kimmels’ wildly popular Lie Witness News Fashion Week Interviews, Cynthia Crowley and team put together this light-hearted video that takes advantage of the Dahling-how-ahhh-you-kiss-kiss atmosphere of NY Fashion Week.

But before you decide to re-use some backstage or other spontaneously-generated “unofficial” video footage or photos for your brand’s promotional purposes (that includes social media and fan-generated content), you need to be sure that you have the requisite rights and permissions.

Given the speed at which fashion news needs to happen, it’s critical that you know upfront what can and cannot be used, so that you and your in-house social media team can make split-second decisions with confidence. By securing the contractual rights to the specific asset or any other assets in advance (we can help you with that and more) you will know without a doubt what you can and cannot post before, during and after an event. It’s less stress for everyone involved.

Branded Content & Celebrities: Everything Old is New Again

For Those Who Don’t Watch “Mad Men”
As television rose to dominance in the 1950’s, marketers turned to sponsorship to promote products: (e.g. “The Colgate Variety Hour”). In addition to the opening announcement, the star of the show would often appear on-screen during the show “break” to promote the marketers’ product, thereby integrating the content (editorial) with commercial message to produce branded content. The line between the show (content) and the commercial (advertising) was intentionally blurred, as in this ad for Pall Mall cigarettes, starring actor Lee Marvin from the popular “M Squad” tv crime show of 1957 – 1960.

Television studios pitched their show concepts to ad agencies, who then sold the sponsorships to their big brand clients. Sometimes, the concept flowed in reverse: the ad agency called the tv networks to ask for a show based on a client’s needs. Either way, there was always a tension between the content producers and the sponsors. TV show creatives were understandably nervous that their work would be seen as too commercial if the brand’s messaging was too heavy-handed; marketers worried that their brand would not get enough visibility, or that the message would be lost if it was not clearly stated and repeated often. Star performers were reluctant to “sell-out” and would often find ways to fulfill these contractual obligations while having a bit of fun with the audience, as in the opening minute of this clip from “The Buick-Berle Show.”

The Big Flip
The mid-1970’s ushered in an era of clear separation of editorial content and advertising, driven in part by a resurgence in journalism ethics and growing audience cynicism following Watergate, the Vietnam War and the 1950’s tv quiz show scandals.

Déja Vu: Sponsored Content Returns
Fast-forward to 2013, and clients are once more being invited to “co-operate on the creation of content” aka, branded content. As reported by the The NY Times and AdWeek OMD media hosted a first-of-its-kind “auction day for branded content.” Brands from 40 blue-chip companies took part, and bid for content using hand-held paddles bearing the words “plan” (we’re interested in this project ) and “brief” (not interested in this pitch, but we’d like to give you a brief—i.e. our own idea— to work from). Among the advertisers present were PepsiCo, FedEx, State Farm, GE, Toys R Us, Levi’s and JCPenney. According to OMD, “every client in attendance bid on at least one content producer’s ideas, and every producer had multiple client bids.” That’s a success by anyone’s standards.

The Big Difference in 2013
The difference between 1950 and 2013 is that this branded content will be broadcast across multiple channels (internet, tv, print, etc) and to a global audience. That makes the global contracts for talent, especially celebrity negotiations, that much more complicated (fret not, we can help you with that).

The Silver Lining
Content producers no longer have to worry quite so much about the quality of their work declining due to the heavy hand of the marketer. Why? The myriad choices available to consumers via the ’splinter-net’ guarantees that only the most entertaining content will survive. That puts a greater emphasis on story-telling than ever before—and more pressure on the creatives to produce great stuff. Audiences now vote with clicks, and smart marketers already know from their online metrics that branded content drives a lot more traffic and attention than hard-sell pitches. Overt messaging is dead. Story-telling is back in fashion. And that means higher quality advertising all around. And that makes everyone happy.

Fashion Games: Adver-tainment Apps Replacing Traditional Advertising in Mobile?

screenshot of Fashion Eye app: Fashion Eye: a new fashion game app and a powerful new marketing channel.There’s a new game in town.
It’s called an adver-tainment app. An example of this is a free mobile app (apple and Android) called Fashion Eye. “Play and prove you have an eye for fashion: Discover trendy fashion, challenge your friends and rank high to win a $50 Gift Card for your next outfit. Challenge friends via Facebook, email, or play against random fashion lovers around the globe.” So far, Fashioholic (the game maker) has raised $1 million in seed funding.

You’ve seen product placement before, but not like this.
Playing the game involves looking closely at each product —the holy grail of marketing in this era of short attention spans— to guess its price. This results in the player (*cough* customer *cough*) becoming acquainted with new merchandise. Moreover, they are doing this happily and willingly, resulting in a pleasurable experience that boosts their self confidence in a social setting. And they are rewarded and applauded for doing so.

The real kicker?
The makers can promote the app as “Ad free!” Because technically, that’s true.

What Would Make It Better?
The built in hints make it a bit too easy to win. It would be great to see an Advanced level that contains no hints and requires that the player acquire ever more detailed knowledge of a featured (i.e. sponsored) fashion item in order to win. This would mean that players would have to literally study and absorb information about a collection, designer, piece, in order to advance in the game. Also, bonus points or a coupon for checking into a sponsor’s retail location via Foursquare. (Current sponsors include Forever21 and Saks Fifth Avenue.)

This has the potential to be a powerful marketing channel for fashion brands. What do you think?

More info: Fashioholic Raises $1M To Debut Serious Mobile Fashion Games