Archive for the 'Advertising' Category

The SXSW Schwag Bags

Now that the festival is finally over, I got a chance to check out my schwag bags in more detail. I got one from Interactive, Film and Music.

Now, from my experience as an art director, I can’t think of many worse projects than designing a piece of free ephemera to go into a trade show bag. There’s no real budget, it’s getting shoved in with a ton of other pieces and the bag might end up in the hands of some idiot like me who doesn’t even look at it until after the festival is done.

Overall, the bags were full of the things you’d expect…postcard-sized artwork, coasters, small branded pads of paper. Each canvas bag was branded with a sponsorship company. For Interactive, it was Adobe. There were lots of trade-specific flyers, a Sharpie key chain (I thought this was cool), different magazines including the most recent How Magazine.

The Film bag was sponsored by the new Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez movie Grindhouse. Again, tons of flyers for different movies playing during the festival, various trade magazines, and super thick brochure about making films in Georgia.

The Music bag was sponsored by The Duke, which is actually the government-backed, official organizitation representing bands from the UK. This was an interesting piece of branding. A lot of foreign countries will have specific events (Japan Nite and the New Zealand BBQ are among the better known), but only the UK has wrapped itself around a brand identity, in this case a comic book-styled, pipe smoking “superhero.” It’s not a bad idea to package the UK bands as simply as possible. The comic/brochure that came in the bag was beautifully produced. I question its overall effectivness, mainly because UK bands in general are so popular and influential right now. As for “The Duke” himself, he doesn’t really resonate with me. I see the comic book style as a disconnect, but I also understand that it’s a very different look than what’s expected…basically the entire lexicon of British rock iconography (the mod target, punk, scooters, the Beatles, etc).

The Music bag also had a hangover kit: aspirin, liquid coffee, mouthwash and a band-aid, all in a little plastic tube. The label states “distribution by Navarre,” which I’m assuming are these guys. There’s no branding whatsoever, not even a website. This is definitely one of the more clever items in the bag, but I think a missed opportunity for branding.

Also interesting to note is that each bag had a free sample of Nicogel, a cigarette replacement product you wipe on your hands. Perhaps Nicogel heard about the controversial smoking ban that passed in Austin a year and a half ago.

And finally, the Music bag had two condom samples. One was a Trojan brand. Trojan also had street teams handing out condoms the whole week. There’s nothing more awkward than walking down 6th street at 2am and having some dude hand you a condom. And the other was a generic one, but branded by Nail Distribution, with a headline that states “Get Nailed.” (get it?). For some reason, both the Interactive and the Film bags were condom-free, but the implication here can speak for itself.

posted by Bryan Keplesky

Flatstock

Toyota has been a huge SXSW sponsor this year with their Yaris car. Every official SXSW banner has the Yaris logo on it. The Yaris is an under-$15,ooo car, featured as a hatchback or sedan, and the price is a sweet spot for young professionals. Yaris also was the official sponsor of Flatstock, the hugely popular rock poster convention featuring some of the best poster artists in the country, many of which have a presence on Gigposters.com.

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It’s a snazzy little car and it was prominently on display. I also liked how there were little “pop up” posters all over the vehicle calling out particular features, and that the design style of these displays looked like mini-gigposters.

posted by Bryan Keplesky

On the Streets

The marketing on the streets downtown has been somewhat subdued this year. Nothing has really blown me a way yet.

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Outside of Stubb’s amphitheater was a branded Scion car featuring The Melvins, on the Vice label. Vice has always had a huge brand presence during SXSW, and we have them to thank for turning the streets around our office into a hipster parking lot.

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I keep seeing these giant street stickers all over downtown. The website reveals that it’s a cross-promotion between Absolut and Blender promoting a building they’ve rented in downtown Austin to have exclusive-parties.

I’ve been noticing a lot of media companies have teamed up with consumer products this year and are renting spaces downtown. Not far from the “Blender House” is “The Fort,” which is a team-up between Levi’s Jeans and Fader Magazine. And right down the street from The Fort is the Pure Volume House, which is hosted by Pure Volume, a music website, and Virb, a brand new social networking site competing with MySpace. Also earlier today Puma shoes and Urb Magazine combined forces to host a dayshow party at the Beauty Bar.

It’s a strategy that works. All of these music media sites are well-connected in the industry and can get any “buzz” band it wants to play their parties. Combine that with a brand that’s popular with the early adopters and social influencers in the under-30 crowd and you’ve got a party that everyone will be talking about. I don’t know how many times this week I’ve told friends, “I’ll meet you at Pure Volume later tonight.” The brand name is synonymous with the party.

But you still get a few stragglers, like Direct TV, who parked a giant Hummer on 6th street and set up a small table tent with brochures and candy (I had a blue Jolly Rancher). Even though the basic TV package is pretty cheap (40 bucks), no one is thinking about TV this week. It’s all about the music. It’s also my suspicion that a Hummer isn’t the most popular vehicle among the SXSW crowd, who would probably view a Hummer as a status-symbol of the ultra-rich and environmentally unsound (they would be saying this while smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap beer).

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When I snapped this picture one of the Direct TV girls, who was very nice, asked if I’d like my picture taken with the Hummer. Umm… no thanks.

posted by Bryan Keplesky 

Music: Steaming Wolf Penis

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The votes are in. Congratulations to Steaming Wolf Penis for winning Door Number 3’s 2007 Best SXSW Band Name award. From a marketer’s perspective, nothing spells success more than a name evoking a wild animal’s genitals on a humid and misty morning. Rock on, Steaming Wolf Penis. Rock on.

Check out Seattle’s garage-punk trio at Beerland on Sunday, March 18 at 11PM.

posted by Prentice Howe

Red River Street

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posted by Bryan Keplesky

Avatar-based Marketing in Synthetic Worlds

Companies are just now starting to get their feet wet in the virtual world webspace, in places like Second Life or There, and it’s obvious because a discussion about how to market to people in synthetic worlds feels more like a discussion of philosophy or anthropology than it does business.

I found this panel to be quite fascinating largely because it posed more questions than answers. But while “fascinating” is an admirable trait, that doesn’t necessarily translate into an effective business model for marketing.

That’s the main problem. Marketers don’t really understand the culture of the virtual world, and since there are no web banners or web hits, the traditional ways of tracking a successful online campaign don’t work.

There’s also demographics. This is where the philosophy comes into play. When you exist and interact in a synthetic world, you are represented by your avatar. Your avatar can be a realistic digital version of you, or it can be completely fanciful. There’s debate about what exactly the relationship is between the real-world person and their web-based avatar. Is an avatar a truer expression of the individual? The anonymity of the web, the lack of real face to real face, can make people feel more comfortable and allows easier, genuine self expression. Or does an avatar transcend the real person and become its own unique entity, in some ways separate from its creator? According to Jack Hemp, a panelist and Senior Editor of the Harvard Business Review, “there’s still a person behind it [the avatar].”

Hemp also stated that even before the internet, advertisers have marketed to avatars. In this case, the avatar is the consumer’s alter ego, the idealized self that is brought out due to whatever product is being sold.

When it comes to companies currently marketing in synthetic worlds, some are doing better than others. Media companies, like MTV, is a good example. The reason the failure rate can be so high is, again, the traditional rules of advertising do not work. You can’t erect a synthetic billboard on top of a synthetic building in a synthetic world. You can’t get Nielson ratings, or click-throughs, or (obviously) real products being moved.

Linda Zimmer from MarCom:Interactive, another panelist, stated that the synthetic world is not a “mass market.” You have to really know your target audience and go after them specifically, on the specific platform that the audience uses. The attraction to synthetic worlds is that you can forge deeper connections with people. That’s the secret, according to Zimmer: A brand must develop content that connects people to each other, rather than connecting a person back to the brand.

posted by Bryan Keplesky

New Media, Hot Avatars and Games : Interactive Festival

Looking at the Interactive lineup this year, I see a couple significant themes. The first one is user-generated content. The space between the consumer and the seller used to be a defined line, but with blogging, cheap access to video and design software the line is definitely now more like a gray blur. Trendwatching.com has a good overview of user-generated content. I think it’s a current infatuation more than anything, with more weaknesses than strengths. I’ll go into more detail when the Interactive starts, but the panels will present both sides (and that gray middle) of the issue. Some of these panels include “Emerging Social and Technology Trends,” “User Generated Content and Original Editorial: Friend or Foe?” and “Can Social Networking Build Your Brand?”

The other theme deals with virtual/avatar-based marketing in places such as Second Life. In a way, the avatar-based world and user-generated content are more similar than different. They both tap into a deep pyschology of individualism (but, ironically, using a simple psuedonymn on one hand or a fully-fleshed out digital character on the other). Avatar-based worlds are nowhere near mainstream yet (4 million+ members on SecondLife vs. somewhere between 43 – 100 million Myspace members vs. 98% of all U.S. housholds who own a tv.) Some intriguing panels include “Every Breath You Take: Identity, Attention, Presence and Reputation” and “Avatar-Based Marketing in Synthetic Worlds.”

There will also be panels discussing mobile devices, design aesthetic and the future of television. And even though the last video game system I am fluent in is this one, I really want to check out the Screenburn Arcade.

Party-wise, Frog Design is once again hosting the kickoff evening party for the Interactive festival. I also really want to check out the 10th Annual SXSW Web Awards afterparty at Club Deville. I can’t wait to see a bunch of web programmers dancing to some hot DJ Mel mashups.

*03/02 update: Adweek has a good article covering Digital Commerce at the 4A’s Media Conference.

posted by Bryan Keplesky 


What’s Behind the Door?

SXSW is an Austin event. And Door Number 3 is an Austin advertising agency. We're interested in how new ideas in advertising, media and branding will be presented during these 9 quick days. From inside the lecture halls where top specialists present their thoughts, to out on the streets where advertising is put to the test on tens of thousands of festival-goers. We'll be there with the complete coverage, reports, photos, editorials, and perhaps some tricks on how to sneak into a few sweet afterparties.

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