prof. e.

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Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

Supersize That!

Posted by prof e on February 5, 2017

wingsSuper Bowl LI is this afternoon and the hype is living up to expectations. I read earlier today that “experts” are predicting that Americans will eat 1.3 BILLION chicken wings today. (In case you were wondering, “1.3 billion chicken wings is enough for every man, woman and child in the United States to have four wings each”). It just so happens that the “experts” quoted are the National Chicken Council. Here’s their press release…the one that generated the news stories. As you can probably tell, this is all about promoting chicken wings. It’s not news, it’s advertising. And journalists and news outlets that carry the story are part of the problem facing real journalism.

And speaking of journalists, there will be approximately 5,000 of them covering the big game. Is that really necessary? I know what you’re thinking…I’m just jealous and wish my organization (fat chance) had sent me to Houston to report on the game and the many associated parties.

Of course I’ll be watching the advertisements. Every year there are a few good ads…ones that might even be worth the $$$ that keeps increasing every year. This year a 30-second spot will set the advertiser back a cool $5.5 million. Over the past half-century, total ad spending in the big game is approaching $5 billion. And while I don’t have hard data to support my claim, I think it’s fair to say that not all of those dollars were well spent. But there have been some great ads that have been worth every penny. Coke “Mean Joe Green”, Apple “1984” and Budweiser “Frogs” come to mind. (See them here.)

Okay, enough ranting. But before I close, I thought I’d revisit that whole chicken wing thing. PETA has, characteristically, found a way to make you feel guilty for indulging. Don’t click this link if you plan to enjoy some hot wings at your party…I warned you!



Posted in advertising, journalism, sports, tv | 10 Comments »

I Hope I’m Not Being Too Pushy

Posted by prof e on January 9, 2017

attentionNew Years is a time of reflection and looking forward. It is a time to take stock of what is working and what is not…making plans to maximize the good and minimize the bad. I just finished an interesting book…The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu, and, if I may be so bold, I would like to make a suggestion that I think will improve your focus and productivity in 2017. And that suggestion is…..(drum roll)…..change the way you currently give your attention to media.

Media companies want your attention. No great revelation there. Your attention is valuable, and the more of it that they can collect and sell, the more money they make. So they work really hard at finding new ways to collect your attention. Sometimes in tiny fragments (e.g., preroll ads and billboards), and sometimes for long periods at a time (e.g., binge viewing).

Media companies know that you’re busy, and that they can’t always count on you to volunteer your attention. They can’t count on you to remember to go to their website or click on their app. So they devise ways to bring the content to you. This strategy has been around for quite a while and it is known as “pushing” content to the consumer. Rather than counting on the consumer to “pull” in the content that they want, media companies “push” it out to those who have opted in. You have probably opted in to all kinds of push notifications…typically when you initially sign up for some neat bit of content that you want to receive. From that point on, they have permission to push new content to you…to notify you that there’s something new to see, hear, read, etc.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that our attention is not infinite. If we’re going to focus on anything worthwhile, we need uninterrupted attention. We need to be free of the distractions that push media provide. Social media may be the most obvious and blatant example of constant clamoring for your attention, but it’s not the only form of media that is working overtime to suck you in.

You might think that you can handle it…that you can manage several streams of incoming data at the same time. But you would be wrong. All of the research indicates that multi-tasking is a myth. What your brain is doing is switching quickly from one stream to the other, not doing anything particularly well.

There are several ways to reduce this threat and I’ll let you figure out which one works best for you. But I can assure you that taking control of who’s in control of your attention will make you a more focused and productive student (friend/employee/etc.) in 2017.

Posted in advertising, applications, interactive media, media industry, new media, social media | 1 Comment »

Not Safe for Advertising?

Posted by prof e on September 3, 2016

We’ve all seen the acronym NSF, which stands for Not Safe for Work. YouTube has generally been pretty careful to ensure that content on its site is devoid of overtly offensive material. But now they’ve gone a step further to protect advertisers who may be squeamish about appearing alongside content that pushes the boundaries. A new policy announced by YouTube allows them to remove certain videos from their monetization program if the contents of the videos is potentially offensive to advertisers.

YouTube producers are pushing back claiming the new policies are too strict and have a chilling effect on their creative output. According to AdAge, “On Wednesday, YouTube video creator Philip DeFranco, with 4.5 million subscribers, said he was put on the no-ad list after he mocked ‘political correctness.'”

According to Google’s guidelines, videos with the intent to “inform or entertain” and more likely to get a pass than those intended to “offend or shock.”

This is nothing new for websites and apps that rely on user-generated content. Again, according to AdAge,

The video site is just the latest to find itself embroiled in a social media battle with voices that oppose “political correctness” or claim free-speech violations over any pushback to their activities on a given platform. Last month, right-wing advocate Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter for allegedly leading a bullying blitz against “SNL” and “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones.

Here’s a link to a somewhat lengthy video (the first 4 min is about this issue, but the rest is pretty informative on related topics) from DeFranco that explains his position. (warning: graphic language)


Posted in 1st amendment, advertising, interactive media, new media, social media | 2 Comments »

The End of Tolerance

Posted by prof e on March 12, 2016

The current political race for President has stirred up a lot of emotion and, let’s face it, anger. Bernie and his supporters are angry about economic inequality; The Donald and his supporters are angry about immigration, the uneven economic recovery and a bunch of other things; Hillary and her supporters are angry about racism and sexism; and Ted and his supporters are angry about a variety of social conservative issues. This is a very simplified depiction of what the various candidates and their supporters stand for, but it begins to explains why this particular contest is so hotly contested.

The brawl at the cancel Chicago rally for Donald Trump yesterday has folks on both sides pointing fingers, claiming intolerance and declaring their First Amendment right to speak and be heard.

Saturday Night Live, like Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and Stephen Colbert, has a track record of making fun of politicians and political issues to make a point. And last week’s fake ad for Trump speaks directly to this matter of racism.

Whether you agree or not with Trump or his detractors, the arguments on both sides have been enflamed with passion. When I watched the SNL video today I took a quick look at the comments (almost NEVER a good idea) and found this.


Apparently [heat-mon] selected quotes from responses to Dianne Bishop, (by people opposed to her support for Trump), and posted them to make the case that intolerance of intolerance also has an ugly side.

And older folks wonder why young people don’t show more interest in politics.

Posted in 1st amendment, advertising, politics, social media | Leave a Comment »

$167,000 per second

Posted by prof e on February 2, 2016

No, that’s not the growth rate of the national debt. It is the price for a TV spot. A 30-second ad will cost advertisers $5 million this coming Sunday. Super Bowl 50 (let’s just forget about that “L” thing for a moment) will likely have an audience of 115-120 million viewers, and this is a chance to pitch all 120 million of them with your brand or product. It is the only remaining mass media event that can pull a live audience of this size…and because of that it can command outrageous sums of money from brands that want/need that kind of exposure.

Here’s a video from last year that helps to explain…

When you’re spending this kind of money you want to maximize the effect and, if possible, increase exposure. One way is to release your ad on YouTube prior to the big day, and hope that you can build buzz online with social media. One Super Bowl ad that was very effective with this approach was VW’s The Force spot. This year Budweiser is trying it with a don’t-drink-and-drive spot featuring Helen Mirren. You can see it here…

Posted in advertising, media industry, tv | 2 Comments »

Selling Out

Posted by prof e on November 27, 2015

I bought an Amazon Fire tablet today for the ridiculously low price of $34.99. That’s $15 less than their usual ridiculously low price. Today’s special is not just a Black Friday “door buster” bargain. No, the additional $15 off is available to anyone who is willing to let Amazon place an ad on the tablet in place of the lockscreen image. That’s right, I sold the lockscreen on my tablet to Amazon, and invited them to use it to advertise to me so that I could save $15. I don’t know whether to feel like a smart shopper or a sell out. Actually I do, but I’d rather think of myself as a smart shopper.FireLockScreenAd

Posted in advertising, ethics, media industry, new media | Leave a Comment »

Ad of the Day, featuring MCCNM alum Megan Matousek

Posted by prof e on November 3, 2015

Every so often one of our amazing MCCNM alums does something really fantastic…and this time it is Megan Matousek, class of 2005. Megan works for Industrial Light & Magic, and most recently had a hand in the making of this commercial spot for Duracell.

You can read more about the spot here, at the Ad Week website. Scroll to the bottom for Megan’s credit.


Posted in advertising, film, tv | Leave a Comment »

Prognostications about Political Programming

Posted by prof e on November 2, 2015

The first Tuesday in November is typically election day…the day that ordinary citizens voice their preferences for candidates and ballot issues. This year is an off-year election, meaning that candidates on the ballot will be those running for school board, city council, mayor, etc.–not governor of the state or president of the United States. The national election for the office of president will come next year.

But 2016 will be here before you know it, and the major political parties are well under way with their process of determining who will be their candidate for the general election. While the Democratic party appears to have settled on Hillary Clinton as their candidate, the Republican party is still struggling to find the best candidate to go toe-to-toe with Hillary.

The surprising strength of billionaire Donald Trump’s candidacy is having an equally surprising effect on TV ratings. The three Republican debates thus far have generated much higher ratings that similar events in the past. Trump, the media celebrity, has leveraged his “star”-power and bombastic personality to attract viewers to TV programming that might otherwise be about as exciting as watching C-SPAN.

Which brings us to a very strange phenomenon. The appeal of huge ratings has the TV networks fighting over these political debates as if they were NFL games. Winning the contract to televise a presidential candidate forum has become a permit to print money…and the candidates know it. That is why representatives from each of the major candidate’s campaigns recently met to agree to new rules that will allow them to dictate to the networks how to structure future debates. The candidates are in the driver’s seat and they are going to decide where they want to go.

And one place they want to go, collectively, is away from networks and moderators who are less than friendly. The most recent Republican candidate debate, hosted by CNBC, a subsidiary of NBC, was widely criticized by political observers, and the candidates themselves. According to RNC chairman Reince Priebus,

While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.

CNBC’s approach will work if the candidates are at the mercy of the TV networks to get their message out. But in this day and age with social media and websites and competing news outlets, the control is slipping away from TV networks. If they want to keep the debates, and the associated advertising dollars, they will have to make concessions to the news-makers.

In all of this journalists and TV news networks need to remember that credibility is their primary product. If and when they lose credibility they will have little to offer. And according to a recent Gallup poll journalists’ credibility is below business executives, on par with lawyers, and just a few notches above advertisers, politicians, and lobbyists.

Posted in advertising, journalism, politics, tv | Leave a Comment »

Are You Ready for Some Star Wars?

Posted by prof e on October 26, 2015

star-warsLast week’s Monday Night football game on ESPN was an excellent opportunity for Disney (parent company of ESPN) to promote its latest Star Wars movie. In case you didn’t know, Disney bought Lucas Films (creator of the Star Wars franchise) in 2012 for $4B. That acquisition was what happens, “when you wish upon a death star” according to one report.

Advertising is when one company pays another to promote its products. But if the company that wants to advertise is a media company, and it wants to promote its own products by using its own media space to do so, we call that promotions. TV networks promote specific programs to targeted demographics watching other programs. Radio stations promote themselves with their own airtime trying to build brand identity and loyalty. Even newspapers and magazines promote upcoming features or issues.

Disney using ESPN’s broadcast of NFL football to promote its upcoming film release is a no-brainer. NFL football is hugely popular…and a perfect audience for the new blockbuster. But this promotion actually worked both ways. The ESPN telecast actually saw a ratings spike as people tuned in to see the world-premiere of the latest trailer. That’s right, people tuned into the program to see the commercial! Now that’s marketing mojo. Theater servers crashed as fans rushed to pre-buy tickets for the latest installment. According to Josh Rottenberg of Tribune News, in the first hour after the half-time trailer, 1.3 million people interacted with it on Facebook and the Twitterverse lit up with some 17,000 tweets per minutes. AMC Theatres sold out more than 1,000 shows nationwide in less than 12 hours. Now THAT’s a force to be reckoned with!

You can see the buzz-generating promo on YouTube at


Posted in advertising, film, global media, media industry, social media | Leave a Comment »

Marketing Missteps Turn Into PR Pratfalls

Posted by prof e on April 2, 2015

Companies take risks and try new things. Sometimes they work, and other times…well, let’s just say they sometimes fail to produce the intended result. Starbuck’s “Race Together” campaign is just one of the most recent examples of a well-intended effort that backfired when consumers used social media to push back. Interactivity is one of the things that makes social media so incredibly powerful and valuable. But like any powerful force, if it gets out of control (which it so frequently does) it can wreak havoc.

Mae Anderson, of the Associated Press, makes the point that this is not unique to the coffee giant. Plenty of other marketing blunders have mushroomed into PR blunders when corporations lose control of their message in social media spaces. Coke, the Gap, Lululemon, and even J.P. Morgan have felt the wrath of consumers who didn’t like the: new taste, new logo, new transparency, or lack thereof.

In another AP news article the Starbucks campaign was defended as simply a failed attempt to try to do the right thing.

At its annual meeting, Schultz said he didn’t think Starbucks would solve the country’s “centuries old problems of racism” but that he thinks it can make a difference. He said workers don’t have to participate, and that stores will make customers another drink or cover up cups if they don’t like the message. “This is not a marketing or P.R. exercise,” Schultz said.

Even if we take their word for it and accept that they did not intend for this to be a marketing or PR exercise…it is clear that it has become exactly that.

Posted in advertising, PR | Leave a Comment »