Industry Snippets: Digital Agencies, Neuromarketing

Digital agencies are not only being invited to pitch brands as agencies of record — increasingly, they’re winning. And at least one top digital-agency executive said he thinks the movement toward digital agency as full agency of record has yet to take hold. “It’s way too early to call it a trend,” said Clark Kokich, CEO of Razorfish. “But you are seeing certain select opportunities where it’s becoming a real alternative for clients.” According to him, the move toward becoming a full agency of record is not an explicit strategy for the agency but an opportunity that can’t be ignored. Razorfish does not have any full agency-of-record relationships but has poached a creative director and a planner from the likes of McCann Worldgroup and SS&K.

This Is Your Brain On Advertising
Madison Avenue is increasingly turning to neuroscience to refine the art of crafting successful ad campaigns. The Nielsen Co. jumped into the field earlier this year by investing in Berkeley, Calif.-based research firm NeuroFocus, which applies neuroscience to advertising research. Now Google is applying “neuromarketing” to video advertising. In a study released Thursday, Google and MediaVest used NeuroFocus findings to show that overlay ads appearing in YouTube videos grab consumers’ attention and boost brand awareness.

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    I confess I have a sneaking admiration for 7-11’s “7-Election” promotion. Its a nice blend of (that which used to be called) viral and social media. I particularly like the fact it starts in store, but has digital legs also. I am also a self-confessed packaging nerd, so …

    Every time you purchase a cup of coffee at 7-11 you can select from a blue Obama cup or a red McCain cup. (I wish they were giving away non-disposable cups, but there you go). Said cups becomes both a status item, a destination driver and discussion spark. Kudos to 7-11 for continuing a simple and smart program.

    Oh, by the way, 7-11 claim to have called the last two elections correctly. Let’s see what happens…

    PS By the way I love WFMZ’s copywriting on this: Coffee drinkers at 7-11 are used to deciding between regular and decaf, but these days there’s another important choice to be made: Obama or McCain”. How very Ron Burgundy!

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    Automotive: Fiat, Fiesta

    This Fiat Is Very Unreliable
    This Fiat van spotted in London by Ben over at Noisy Decent Graphics demonstrates the power an irritated conumer can wield. Says Ben: “I bet Fiat hate it if he turns up at the local dealership. And it’s highly visible on the road, and now thanks to me, on search engines”.

    Ford Flickrizes Fiesta
    Ford’s European division chose to launch an all-images consumer generated thing that lets people contribute to and change a Fiesta covered with a collage of images. People can rate the images they like, dislike or add their own. I would like to think that this is innovative comms planning rather than a generic Yahoo offering…

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    • A somewhat unlikely accessory debuted this year: a Hewlett-Packard laptop by fashion designer Vivienne Tam. During the presentation of Tam’s Spring 2009 line, models will carry the laptop instead of bags. HP has not disclosed the size or specifications of the laptop yet, but has said they will be the size of a woman’s clutch bag. They’re rather pretty, and HP learnt more from Tam during the collaborative process than they thought they would.
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    • MTV’s “Engine Room” exemplifies the kind of video programming major marketers are backing as they try to reach young people who want to watch clips on their computers and mobile devices. Sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, “Engine Room” will run in 5- to 7-minute episodes over seven weeks, following four teams of four artists competing for a $400,000 prize.

    Unilever’s Polman Calls For Change

    Some energizing news in this morning’s Ad Age: Unilever’s New Leader proclaims “You Can Expect Change”.
    Going forward, Unilever’s Paul Polman is apparently seeking broader adoption of “Alternative Communication Vehicles.”

    “The challenge for all of us in the industry is to continue to find better and creative ways to connect with the consumer … as P&G used to say, when and where consumers are receptive. Companies that do well anticipate that. And Unilever has some wonderful examples of where they are starting to do this. The same examples you will find in other companies. Some companies talk a lot about having moved out of conventional TV into alternative media, but then when you look at the numbers, you don’t see it. I think if you look at Unilever, you already see a faster move toward alternative-communications vehicles. The challenge for companies like Unilever is how to get these best practices more broadly implemented across the organization.”

    Music to my jaded ears Mr Polman!

    Obama Delivers, McDonalds Delivers on Promise, Twiller, Greener Meetings, Honeyshed

    • Obama’s big speech pulls 38.4 million Obama’s Thursday speech, in which he accepted the Democratic nomination for president, drew the biggest audience for a Democratic speech in at least 12 years and perhaps ever, since Nielsen only began keeping detailed nightly records in 1996.Some 38.4 million total viewers tuned in across 10 networks for the speech, in which Obama became the first major-party black presidential nominee in U.S. history. Certainly the historic nature of his speech, delivered 45 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” drew in more viewers than would have usually tuned in for the convention.
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    • Customer: Can I have five barbecue sauces?
      Cashier: No. This is not Burger King. You cannot have it your way.
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    • New York Times journalist Matt Richtel has invented a storytelling format called the Twiller. The idea is for Twitter users to follow fictional characters — which many already do anyway — as they progress though a plot. Richtel’s Twitter serial is “about a man who wakes up in the mountains of Colorado, suffering from amnesia, with a haunting feeling he is a murderer,” the author wrote. “In possession of only a cellphone that lets him Twitter, he uses the phone to tell his story of self-discovery, 140 characters at a time.” The main character is also accompanied by a hooker, who occasionally appropriates his phone and Twitters conflicting messages — warning people that he is a killer, for example. The narrative boasts multiple opportunities for interactivity. It weaves in and out of current events and occasionally solicits other Twitter users for help or advice — an outreach Adrants called “disingenuous” because Richtel does not “follow” other Twitter members.
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    • ProtonMedia announced today that it would be funding a non-profit “Go Green, Go Virtual” to promote virtual worlds as a carbon-saving alternative to constant travel for distributed workforces, promote virtual events and training over physical, advocate telecommuting, and encourage networked collaboration. The foundation will be funded through a percentage of ProtonMedia’s profits from licensing ProtoSphere with the money going “to support worthy organizations dedicated to promoting environmental responsibility through energy conservation and alternative energy use.” A worthy effort … although as we know Avatars have their own carbon footprint…
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    • Almost a year after the ad world first heard of Dave Droga’s plans to launch Honeyshed (and gave it very – shall we say – “mixed” reviees, the branded entertainment-meets-online shopping venture has named a CEO and is preparing to make the jump from beta to reality. Honeyshed’s premise is to make the online shopping experience entertaining and more social. Aimed squarely at Generation Y (the 18- to 35-year-old set), the goal of the website is to promote brands online, not by using banner ads, but via “Saturday Night Live”-esque themed vignettes that are paid for by the brands. Users can digitally window-shop products on channels such as “girl fashion” and “tech and toys,” then place their choices on a wish list of online purchases that Honeyshed dubs “my stash.”

    Three Types of Retail Experience

    J.Crew’s latest Manhattan store (the brand’s first men’s shop), pays tribute to classic American workwear. The 935-square-foot outpost is housed in the former digs of Liquor Store Bar, and retains the feel (if not the drunken good times) of its previous incarnation; the bar and bathrooms are intact, and whiskey bottles adorn its dark wood walls.
    On offer are specialty pieces from J.Crew’s men’s collection, Thomas Mason shirts, Globe-Trotter luggage, and a selection of vintage items that round out the space’s quirky aesthetic (think tie-bars, first-edition books, and vinyl LPs). Thank Jack Spade cofounder Andy Spade for the look—J.Crew consulted with him to help curate the goods and, apparently, the lifestyle that goes along with them: The new store’s sponsoring a series of workshops based on Spade and business partner Anthony Sperduti’s forthcoming book, What a Man Should Know (Chess, wine, and figure-drawing, among other things apparently)


    Nashville residents looking for Swedish design at low prices don’t have access to a local IKEA; the nearest blue-and-green big box is in Atlanta. So two friends decided to bring IKEA to Tennessee by taking orders from customers and driving down to Atlanta to pick up the goods. Customers submit their orders on, listing item numbers, colours, etc. Modernash brings the goods to its Nashville storage facility, where customers can pick up their orders (the company also offers home delivery for an additional USD 50).
    ModerNash’s shipping rates are significantly lower than those charged by IKEA, ranging from 20–29% of a customer’s total purchase amount.The company also assembles furniture for USD 25/hour, handles returns (even for customers who didn’t order through ModerNash), and partners with other local companies that design and install IKEA kitchens. Last but not least, it keeps a small number of popular items in stock for immediate pick-up or delivery.


    Best Buy has installed vending machines at 8 major US airports. It’s a pilot program for the company’s new Best Buy Express kiosks, which are large vending machines that carry cell phone and computer accessories, digital cameras, flash drives, MP3 players, headphones, gaming devices, travel adapters, and other items that are likely to appeal to customers on the go. Prices are similar to those in Best Buy stores.
    Best Buy is targeting travellers in search of last-minute gifts, as well as those who need a replacement for a gadget or accessory they forgot to pack or lost along the way. It’s an interesting move by Best Buy. The convenience factor is an obvious draw for travellers in a hurry, especially at airports with limited shopping options. But the branding on a vending machine by a well-known retailer is also a clear visual signal, instantly recognizable by consumers, which is a real advantage at busy and cluttered airports.

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