Archive for the 'Marketing' Category

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 

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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

Why Marketers Need to Work with People Media

Advertisers are people, too. They read blogs, instant message, go to social networking sites. They see that there are a vast number of people involved in online communities and want to be a part of it, too. And maybe get a marketing message out there as well.

Right now online conversation like blogs, MySpace, IM, are creating media messages. The trick, for sure, is how ad people navigate this new media space. Panelist John Battelle, Chairman & Founder of Federated Media Publishing, stated that there are 3 pillars of a great media product: author, audience, advertiser…ideally they are in a conversation where all are being fed. Online social media does not work with the traditional methods of advertising. The web encourages audience participation and dialog. Social media users do not want to be dictated to.

Brands, to some degree, are wary of all this new media. Once their product is put out onto the web, it’s fair game. Anyone can say anything about it at any point. The users, rather than being passive receivers of advertising messages, now have the ability to determine if they want to hear the message or not. According to panelist Toni Schneider of Automattic Inc., brands can’t have thin skin in this environment.

But it’s somewhat logical for brands to feel this way. This is new territory. It’s important new territory, and will only grow and expand and become more ingrained in people’s lives. But from a marketing perspective, there are still some kinks to work out. The current ways of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign using social media are somewhat vague. The big reason is because there’s no real way to measure engagement, which Battelle proclaimed is “now part of the lexicon of marketing.” Advertisers can get data on how many web hits their product’s blog (for example) is receiving, but are people staying, reading the content, and becoming engaged in a conversation through online social media about the product? There’s no format for determining that (yet).

posted by Bryan Keplesky

SXSW Film Trade Show

Ah, the trade show… how do you compete for visual space, and win? I’m guessing there were some restrictions for the floor here, because I was expecting some pretty out-there booths. But there were a few that still stood out to me.

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This one from Acutrack is a standard floor display, but the graphics are cool and make sense, brand-wise. They provide flexible production options for indie bands, and every indie scene in the country has a stretch of street with a wooden fence with black and white flyers stapled all over. It makes me wish I was at Emo’s right now with a Lone Star tall.

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Tucked away in a corner was the Google booth. It’s deceptively simple. But Google can get away with that. Just a nice bright logo, a few inviting chairs and some wood flooring. It felt like hanging out in a nice kitchen, just being at home and leisurely checking the gmail.

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And then there was this one, from a group called Couriers of Ruin. This booth looked like it fell out of another dimension, and I’m sure the guys running this would be cool with that. The booth is equal parts trippy outer space, old west carnival and fantasy heavy metal. As for what they do? From what I can tell they are creating a massive, multi-sensory, high-concept, chapter-based narrative available on CD or download. Uh, huh. Also, putting together their entire trade booth cost only 500 bucks. Now that’s pretty smart, and definitely down-to-earth.

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

Initial Thoughts on SXSW ’07

In a little more than a week Austin becomes a completely different city. Actually I’d go further and say that Austin becomes sort of its own parallel universe, where watching hundreds of bands or movies, drinking beer at 11 in the morning or seeing Dan Rather hanging out with Leslie on 6th Street will be considered normal activities.

Austin will also host thousands upon thousands of advertising messages. The first half of the festival, the Interactive and Film, did a great job this year by providing a lot of panels dealing with different forms of advertising, particularly with new and experimental media. And when the Music starts on March 14 the real advertising blitz begins, right on 6th Street. Every year I’ve seen some pretty unique and successful marketing campaigns, but I’ve seen just as many bad ones. I’m not going to pre-judge or slam the industry. I just want to be surprised. Austin has a great cross-section of demographics, and all the major media outlets and publications will be in town. In a way Austin becomes a great testing ground to see what trends will stick and which ones will fall flat for the next year.

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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