Why the Google Chrome ads are about more than speed and functionality

BBH has delivered some more brilliant work on behalf of Google Chrome. Check out this behind-the-scenes video on the latest effort focused on speed:

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This is just the most recent in a line of spots and making-of videos with a deconstructionist motif. It’s an intriguing choice, using a sort of hand-crafted, DIY approach to demonstrate a most technical of utilities. Creatively I think BBH has done a fantastic job of showcasing the product in a compelling and unexpected way, but I think they’ve also done something quite clever from a strategic standpoint, and it’s about more than just pushing Google’s browser.

apple pc google chromeLast year Microsoft, finally tired of having sand kicked in its face by Apple, enlisted Crispin Porter + Bogusky to reposition itself as something a little more clever, a little looser, a little less, well, a little less the guy on the left. CP+B created some truly inspired wackiness, enlisting Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld in an effort to say, “Hey, us Windows folks can be creative too.” I liked the spots, as did Grant McCracken (sorry, I’d link but Grant’s site has lost much of its archives). The point being, Apple owns the creative community and Microsoft wasn’t going to just cede that to them anymore.

A look at Noah Brier’s BrandTags shows that indeed, people associate the word “Creative” heavily with Apple. Microsoft? More like “Boring” and “Sucks”. 

I think Apple is now being forced to fight the equivalent of a land war in Asia (something any student of European history – and the film Princess Bride – knows is a tough spot to be in) as Google, through these Chrome spots is also making a play for the “creatives.”

The question then becomes, why? It’s more than just about Safari v. Chrome. As Google expands into more and more areas of our digital life the “creatives” market becomes more intriguing as assuredly that market has grown significantly since Apple staked its claim with the boundary-busting 1984 ad. Back then “creatives” meant a handful of people at the top ad agencies. Now, thanks to the Internet, Social Media and the emergence of the DIY ethos, a huge swathe of people consider themselves to be “creatives,” and those people, increasingly, are looking to get their hands on a smart phone. Obviously there is a “shiny new toy” quality to Google’s Android OS and Nexus One handset, but these numbers show how quickly they are moving into a territory that, perception-wise, Apple owns:

google nexus one apple iphone

The Google Chrome spots, like the CP+B efforts on behalf of Microsoft, help change the perception of the Google brand. They are slowly evolving from “wicked smart search algorithm and online ad behemoth” to “creators of innovative software and hardware across multiple platforms.” The former is a tough thing to make shareable – something “creatives” crave. The latter is what moves the marketplace of ideas.

Here’s the final Google Chrome spots, just out now:

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Windows 7, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky and Chief Culture Officers

I’ve just started reading Grant McCracken’s indespensible new book, Chief Culture Officer. In it he highlights the efforts CP+B is doing on behalf of Microsoft (read my take on Grant’s take here). Looking at the campaign in its newest incarnation through the lens of Chief Culture Officer, I appreciate CP+B’s efforts even more. Here’s the ad in question:

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The brilliance comes at the five second mark with the re-enacment of the protagonist’s epiphany moment. The Chief Culture Officers of CP+B added that litte throw-away element of inserting a super-hunk male model to replace the rather average looking consumer who is the star of the ad.

As Grant states in the book, CP+B has shifted the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” paradigm with these series of ads. Apple built its campaign saying that Apple is for the cool kids and PCs are for dullards, cowards and sheep. But the truth is subtler than that. Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” campaign shows that PC users are actually pretty smart, sophisticated folks. And if you’re one of those people and you’ve been using a PC for all these years the Apple ads are probably a little offensive.

But here’s the genius that CP+B ferreted out. This third group, the savvy, Apple-backlashing PC user isn’t an Alex Bogusky clone. They aren’t beautiful or super hip. But, when these people talk and think about themselves, they don’t see the reality we see of them, they see an ideal version of themselves.

In the blink of an eye, CP+B has flipped the script on Apple. Now, the cool personal computer user isn’t pseudo-hipster Justin Long (the actor who portrays ‘Mac’ in the Apple ads), but rather some person who you think you may have seen in a Calvin Klein print ad.

These nuanced understandings don’t just happen. It takes a real sensitivity to culture, and not just the culture you live within. Let’s be honest, we are not the gang at CP+B, those cats are way too cool. But instead of trying to cram together CP+B cool with PC reality – which never would have worked – they understood the key consumer insight of PC users (about 94% of all personal computer users in this country), that they think of themselves as hipper, smarter and better looking than maybe they really are.

Smart People / Smart Ideas September Round-Up

Super strong line-up this month featuring the likes of:

DJ Francis, BBH Labs, Joseph Jaffe, Geoff Livingston, Tim Malbon, Rohit Bhargava, Alex Bogusky, Joe Pulizzi, Mike Arauz and Jon Burg.

 What’s going on with marketing, branding, Social Media, Social Networks, advertising and PR? Here’s what you need to know…

Smart People / Smart Ideas #216 @MarketerBlog notices a toning down of marketing rhetoric: http://bit.ly/16Xslp

Smart People / Smart Ideas #217 @juzmcmuz w/ a GREAT post re: the merits of data visualization http://bit.ly/UCpBt  [h/t @malbonster]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #218 @BBHLabs with more on Data Visualization http://bit.ly/fn9Mq

Smart People / Smart Ideas #219 @jaffejuice speaks out regarding the RFP process: http://bit.ly/knQjF

Smart People / Smart Ideas #220 @bogusky shares some wisdom http://post.ly/3vsj [hat tip @media_reveries]  

Smart People / Smart Ideas #221 @JasonFalls dives in to some SocMed statistics http://bit.ly/mSCAv [hat tip @LenKendall]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #222 @GeoffLiving – The Zen of Tweeting http://bit.ly/3FgCaG

Smart People / Smart Ideas #223 @Gauravonomics on defining Social business strategy http://bit.ly/LUJtl [hat tip @Armano]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #224 @lukewdesign on “underlying social networks” http://bit.ly/3eGTf9 [h/t @PatsMc]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #225 @juntajoe reminds us: Content Strategy THEN Content Marketing http://bit.ly/IoxgH

Smart People / Smart Ideas #226 @shashib suggests we might want some Deaugmented Reality sometimes http://ow.ly/oOEJ [h/t @madebymany]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #227 @bogusky on ideas (he’s got some) http://post.ly/4d8V [hat tip @BBHLabs]

Smart People / Smart Idease #228 @Aerocles goes beyond the stunt. I wish more brand-side marketers would think that way http://ow.ly/oZvE

Smart People / Smart Ideas #229 @GeoffLiving writes an open letter to PR pros http://bit.ly/Pjc1K [hat tip @gregverdino]

Smart People/Smart Ideas #230 @MarketerBlog reminds that “Dirt cheap” isn’t a long-term strategy; aspirational partner is. http://tr.im/yEex

Smart People / Smart Ideas #231 @jaffejuice talks about SocMed commitment http://bit.ly/I0saC a must-read for brand-side marketers.

Smart People / Smart Ideas #232 @mikearauz dives inside Trending Topics on Twitter: http://bit.ly/12IQDp

Smart People / Smart Ideas #233 @JasonFalls on Ad Agencies & SocMed: a culture clash: http://bit.ly/HwKt8 [hat tip @LenKendall] 

Smart People / Smart Ideas #234 @jevon muses on The Attention Question in Social Business http://bit.ly/REVqO [h/t @peterkim]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #235 @JonBurg on SocMed ROI –  http://post.ly/5wZz [hat tip @warrenss] 

Smart People / Smart Ideas #236 @cspenn on SocMed ROI http://bit.ly/2jhHme  [hat tip @JeremyMeyers]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #237 @jowyang on Social Support and consumer behaviour: http://bit.ly/1jUxQf 

Smart People / Smart Ideas #238 @GeoffLiving has an interview with @shonali http://is.gd/3Df5p Must read for PR folks

Smart People / Smart Ideas #239 @madebymany’s Anjali Ramachandran talks measurement and engagement http://bit.ly/47QBMz

Smart People / Smart Ideas #240 @grahamdbrown says Content is Dead… Long live Context  http://bit.ly/dBF1t

Smart People / Smart Ideas #241 @cherwenka wonders where the SocMed was in Ad Week: http://bit.ly/1KjfPG [hat tip @rga]

Smart People / Smart Ideas #242 @alizasherman w/ a cool flowchart 2 help u figure out if u should engage in SocMed http://is.gd/3KUPM

Smart People / Smart Ideas # 243 @malbonster wants to rethink measurement with an emphais on Customer Value – http://bit.ly/2zDiBV

Smart People / Smart Ideas #244 – @rohitbhargava on Content Curator: Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future?  http://ow.ly/rOY2

Agency Nil, Crispin Porter + Bogusky & BBH Labs on agency models

Angency Nil Manifesto

Angency Nil Manifesto

Upheaval. Turmoil. Paradigm shifting. Big words to throw around, but if you work at a creative agency (advertising, PR, digital, etc.) you’ve probably read, or been thinking, this for the last year or so.  So many factors, from the economy to an ever-expanding supply of, well, supply – there are a lot of agencies out there, from multi-nationals to one-person operations – have altered the landscape. As a result, agencies of all shapes and sizes have been rethinking their business models. I’m sure old-timers out there will tell me it’s cyclical, and that every 10 years or so we go through this, only to return to the tried and true methods.

Perhaps, but now talent can come from anywhere in the world, not just Madison avenue. And a kid in Bakersfield, CA (or Lahore, India) has access to sophisticated tools that not that long ago were only affordable for huge agencies. Add in the DIY creative trend that has consumers making the commercials and you can see why agencies are taking another look at ideas that would have been laughed at over a three martini lunch by Roger Sterling and Don Draper.

The Young Turk

Recent VCU Brandcenter grad Hank Leber has created Agency Nil, a haven for out of work and freelance creatives. The hook: They’ll do the work, you pay them what you think it’s worth. That’s the sort of bold thinking you’d expect from a guy just starting out in the business. (By the way, one look at their website and you tell can Hank and his guys are the real deal). Hank is clearly a take no prisoners-type of guy. He’s put his stake in the ground with Agency Nil and he’s putting his mouth where his ‘pay me what it’s worth’ is:

I’ve found this project particularly interesting because of the range of reactions it’s gotten.  Some people are very much against the “pay what you want” model, and others are totally for it.  I think I’ve pissed some people off – and that’s ok.  It’s to be expected.
A business model is a product of a market; it exists because conditions allow it to exist.  If those conditions weren’t there, then the model wouldn’t have had the environment to grow into reality.  There are no exceptions to this rule – only stronger and stronger cases.
New models are supposed to be disruptive.  If they didn’t disrupt anything, they wouldn’t be new.  It’s because of this truth that I can understand the opposition to Agency Nil.  It threatens the stability of the industry and causes people to rethink the way things are working. Maybe they should have been rethinking already.  At least now they are forced to.  Regardless, the conversation has been started, which is what I’m happiest about – ideas are contagious, and I hope more can come from this start.
Because things are moving so fast now and “disruptive thought” has become stylish,  we will see many more new business models challenge the way things have traditionally been run.  We’re seeing them pop up every day now, and many of them touch our daily lives, because they are smart and relevant.  These ideas and models will come and go as the world of commerce struggles to figure out what to do with the Internet and business, and their new thoughts – one by one – will be what shape the changes we get.
Free online content is ruining entire empires of media channels as we speak, and venture capitalists and those gripping onto an old system can only last so long.  It will be up to the lively brains everywhere, cooking up different ways to go about business to figure out what is next.  There is no way it won’t happen.
It’s about being fearless, optimistic, and confident that you can make it new – do it better – and show the world that you can.  Everyone’s a naysayer until it works, and then they cheer.  Wal-Mart, Hulu, Zappos, Amelia Earhart, Obama, and about a million others (or ten million). The examples are in front of us everywhere, every day.  It’s amazing that more people don’t take chances on a good idea.
Only time will tell if Hank’s theories regarding business models are viable, but there’s no doubt about his moxie, and from what little I know about the Ad game, that counts for something.
Ben Malbon of BBH Labs, who provided some early guidance to Hank, adds:
“Hank’s had a rollercoaster ride over the last few weeks. I’ve got 100%
respect for him because he’s trying something new at a time when it’s tougher than ever to break into the industry. He’ll put some noses out of joint and his proposition won’t be to everyone’s taste – but that’s far from the first time that’s happened in the ad world. Yet he’s already got a contacts book that make most of us look lame in comparison, is learning exponentially fast, and has resisted the initial wave of knee-jerk job offers that came his way. 
And despite all that, somehow he hasn’t yet ‘wrecked the ad industry’ as some commentators suggested he would when he launched a few weeks ago. Hank’s latest idea, ‘CrispinvsAgencyNil’ is just more evidence of his creativity and his determination not to settle for the status quo. I look forward to seeing what unfolds. He’s awesome.”
The (Burger) King of the Hill

On the other end of the spectrum is Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a well-established ad agency that has turned out some of the most talked about creative in recent years (I talked about it here, here and here). Recently CP+B had an intern auction on eBay, where brands could bid for the services of CP+B interns. Clever idea and it raised $17, 655 for the interns. So good at generating buzz for their clients, CP+B, did a bang up job for themselves on this one: AdFreak, UberFarm, SuperPunch, and Chris Rawlinson were just some of the blogs covering the story.  Here’s AdAge with a post-mortem on the event and the winner: Brammo.

Ultimately CP+B was having some fun (and earning some publicity) with the intern auction. Agency Nil jumped in to mix it up a bit and quite frankly, I hope they both turn out as winners in this (the interns too!). But the serious question of business models remains. I got in touch with Alex Bogusky of CP+B and he was kind enough to share some of his thoughts:

Eyecube: What if the winner of your auction is extremely satisfied with the results – Could that pose a threat to your traditional business model?

AB: Well first off let me comment on the traditional business model. First I don’t feel vested in it so any change that works better would be welcome. Second, the model that I believe is more broken is the corporate model and public ownership. That system has taken a hundred years to reach where we are now but it’s not a good place. The pressure of quarterly earnings combined with the limited liability constantly conspires and encourages short term and unsustainable behavior.

That issue is a lot bigger than the intern auction and as I think models for the future my head is more in that space. Now to answer your specific question I don’t think the intern auction could be a path to a better model. Unless the model was to have a steady stream of free/intern labor. I guess that’s possible but for a client looking for a long term partner that would be a frightening prospect. So from both the employee and client perspective I don’t think it’s a long term solution. The truth is there have been some agencies that have used pretty much all intern/free creative labor as a rule and it worked okay but they hid this reality from clients.

Eyecube: Could auction-based ad work be a viable biz model for an agency?

AB: I don’t think in the current environment it’s very realistic but certainly it works better for smaller clients than larger. Project based stuff can work this way. And right now the reality is all RFPs come down to a reverse auction. With the agencies all fighting to do it most affordably. Each intern will receive their share of the 17K. About 500 bucks before taxes for three months work. We’ll pay them more than they make from the auction. That doesn’t strike me as sustainable. This is about doing something special and fun for a great group of interns. I don’t think it’s more than that.

Eyecube: Does this risk commoditizing agency work?

AB: Probably. Sites like Crowdspring are probably the greatest risk. I’m curious to see how it pans out. People had the same fears with desktop publishing but they turned out to be unfounded. In the end the categories that become commodities do so because they in fact are a commodity. So we shall see. Is creativity a commodity?

Eyecube: If Agency Nil proves successful, could you see other agencies trying that model?

AB: Copying somebody else’s model is a lot easier than coming up with something new so I would say it will happen in a New York minute.

Hank and the Agency Nil gang, like all good Ad Men, know an opportunity when they see it. In response, they’ve launched CrispinvsAgencyNil, an open letter to the losing bidders in the CP+B intern auction. The offer? They’ll do the work for half of the $17,655, and they’ve offering this for two brands. So, Agency Nil sees CP+B’s clever and raises them one. Well played.

I hope my readers will continue this conversation here in the comments section. I’d like to say a big thank you to Alex, Hank and Ben who really made this post, your insight, time and contributions are very much appreciated.

"These brands belong to the consumers who love them everyday"

The quote in this post title is not from some Social Media Expert, or branding consultant. It’s from Katie Bayne, Coca-Cola North America’s Chief Marketing Officer, and it’s from a new Microsoft ad:

Can you imagine the CMO of Coca-Cola, say 30 years ago, making that statement? How about the CMO from 10 years ago? Five?

It’s a great quote and an interesting new campaign from Microsoft.  If you believe, as Ms. Bayne believes, that the brand belongs to the consumers, then your job as a marketer changes dramatically. Is getting endcap space in the super market really your top priority?  Is deciding if the offer in your FSI needs to be a $1 off or a buy two, get one free, really a critical decision?

Or is understanding that your consumers want to drop Mentos in your 2 liter bottles and videotape the results (and post them on YouTube) the most important thing you can know? With the change in the relationship between brand and consumer comes a change in the skills needed in the C-Suite.

UPDATE 1/20/09: Rob Walker of Murketing/Buying In/Consumed fame sends this along:

“The reality is that the American consumer owns Coca-Cola.” — Robert Goizueta, 1988

Curse you Walker, with your ‘facts’ and your ‘research’. Actually, thank you for passing that along. Certainly others before Bayne understood the emerging consumer-brand dynamic.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky use marketing Jujitsu to aid Microsoft

There’s been a lot of discussion about the new Microsoft campaign from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Grant McCracken and his readers had a pretty robust discussion on the topic and I weighed in agreeing with Grant, feeling the campaign worked to accomplish some of the vital work Microsoft needs to be done.

The mere fact that the campaign is generating discussion and that people are taking sides suggests the campaign is already succeeding. People are now talking about Microsoft’s ads – can you remember the previous campaign?

What I find most interesting and what I appreciate the most is the jujitsu-style approach Crispin Porter has taken. Check this out:

Apple has worked so hard to paint the “PC” it would have been natural for Crispin to say, “We have to get far, far away from that whole ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ conversation.” But they used the power of that ad against itself, just like a Jujitsu master uses the power of his opponent rather than trying to fight against it. This is so clever. Had they tried to change the conversation they would have failed. People would have remembered the Apple ads and the conversation wouldn’t have changed. By embracing the conversation, even poking fun at it, Microsoft (via CPB) acknowledges the reality and perception that they are stuffy, unimaginative and a bit nerdy.

But then they trot out all these interesting and cool people and you have to not only re-evaluate your feelings about these people, but also about Microsoft. Either Eva Longoria, Vera Wang and Pharell Williams are uncool or you have to rethink this whole Mac v. PC thing.

The lesson here is, sometimes your brand can’t change the discussion. Sometimes a competitor, or consumers, have created a powerful story that can’t be easily changed, pushed away or dismissed. When that happens you the principles of Jujitsu and use the power of the negative perception to undermine the very stereotype you’re looking to change.