Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Year Of The Screenager

A few years ago I shredded the time-honored metric of Return on Investment by insisting that Involvement was the key determinant of marketing success. Get Involvement happening and profit/margin/share/whatever is sure to follow. Last year I articulated the belief that we had moved from the Attraction Economy to the Participation Economy.

This week a bunch of surveys are in of 2009 creative advertising work, and the best Saatchi & Saatchi campaign of the year – T-Mobile’s flashmob dance “Life’s for Sharing” from our London agency – featured in all of them – Viral Friday, AdAge, and The Big Won. Traffic-wise “Life’s for Sharing” came in at #2 with 26 million plus views (#1 was Evian’s Babies from BETC Euro RSCG with a staggering 55 million views).

What did we learn?

  • Nine of the top 10 campaigns in the Won awards relied on direct consumer input and involvement. There is still a bit of life in “selling by yelling” – but the stretcher is on the field. Consumers won’t ever be passive recipients of broadcast messages ever again. Involvement and participation are vital.
  • Great ideas are coming strongly from outside the NYLON mainstream, from the edges – Brisbane, Auckland, Sao Paulo, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Lisbon.
  • The blur between TV, Digital, Direct, PR, Media etc is now absolute. Winning ideas can be driven from any quarter. Game on for the creative departments in every “advertising agency”.
  • Stunts were common, light heartedness reigned, and overall the most successful campaigns instilled a sense of wonder, had humor at their core, and raised a smile on the dial or a tune in the head.
Susan Boyle was “Queen of Viral” with over 85 million pageviews; and of the self-produced videos, the effort from animator Tomas Redigh takes my prize. He spent 1500 hours combining Lego, stop motion animation and a song by Daniel Larsson to create a tribute to 8-bit video games (Pong, Mario Bros et al). Bring back the 80s!

We’re probably still in an adolescent phase with viral, full of rampant experimentation, crash and burn muddled with excessive success. Avatar shows us what mature rebellion looks like; DC Shoes’ seven minute burnout “Gymkhana” (below) is pure screenager.

1 comment:

observant said...

Screenager or Scree(M)-(d) –A<>n-ger aDs?

What is so optimistic, fun, or loving about the re-advertising of the viral ad video at the end of this post? A type of harmful mental social virus that just seems to multiply with each new link, to display and encourage dangerous, p-(athe-tic)-Ares-ite stunt acts of “propt”- osis & a“popt”- osis:

Smashing light bulbs on heads or bodies and crushing them under wheels over and over,

Racing recklessly in a car through a hazardous track until the rubber screams smoke and fire,

Exploding a truck into bits of a fireball as a racecar rockets underneath it,

Peppering vulgar language in a constant annoying buzz of car engine blast,

Boasting a shoe and a glove on fire,

Shooting around, aiming at a car and the driver inside, multiple times, with a paintball rifle,

Smacking a dummy’s and a stuntman’s arms with a racecar to knock off and burst paintballs.

What would a teenager, who watches this ad, aspire to do? Emulate it with his/her friends because it looks exciting and rebellious? Tell other friends that it is so cool so that thousands of others end up getting infected with it through word-of-mouth and gadget? And then what happens?

What really is the difference between this viral ad and, say, the infamous swine flu virus? Perhaps, swine flu is less harmful and contagious and has an effective vaccine? Or, one tries to sell more clothing merchandise and the other happens to end up selling more anti-viral drugs?

Are these viral video ads socially responsible and productive when we are all so concerned about increased violence in our school systems, ever-growing traffic accidents and deteriorating mental well-being of our young generation all around the world? Can such a highly contagious and dangerous viral brain disease, which we can coin as “social proptapoptosis”, help the stability of our global society?

Do companies or ad agencies really care about the well-being of their customers or the society?

Where is the Love? Where is the Optimism?

Is it, perhaps, possible to advertise more responsibly and creatively for adolescents to show their rebellious and fun spirit, to channel their energy, skills and creativity, and to take risk with optimism and passion, for a more positive cause than tire-burning, say, by focusing on:

Playing competitive team sports at a nationally televised basketball, football or mind games tournament in the heat of LA sun for a coveted annual “Screenager Trophy” with durable shoes, a cool hat, a sweatshirt and high-energy drinks?


Helping out with a start-up community project in East LA with hot durable shoes, a cool hat, and high-energy drinks that a bunch of tired teenagers drink when paused for a break?


Traveling to many new places to meet different cultures on a plane with long-lasting tires, for instance, to Japan or France, and sightseeing those countries or other cities in US in durable shoes with a powerful car in a cool outfit for the school summer break?

Why can’t we advertise with a long term vision so that more of our young generation kindles inspirational sci-fi books or browses the web in the “sun” for creative concepts, while drinking high energy drinks that empower the brain in a cool T-shirt and a hat, with a lot of “surfing” action? Such approaches may, one day, help them, and all of us, the humanity, to develop the next “wave” of environmentally-friendly and highly-efficient “solar”-powered cars or durable shoes and tires.

Why wouldn’t the parents, who may ultimately fund most, if not all, of their young children’s purchases given a tough economic environment, be more willing to buy more of and pay more for these products if these companies also promoted some educational values for their kids’ development?

Why can’t we advertise to educate teenagers, who are at their vulnerable impressionable age, with more inspirational optimism and without any violence and still create value for all?

Why can’t we?

They are our future.