The Olympics and World Cup are great opportunities for advertisers looking to reach a large audience that generally skews more affluent and less male dominated compared to other sporting events.
Being a fiend for the Winter Olympics, I've logged some good hours consuming all things Olympics.
Thus far I'd say some of the big winners are Nike and Audi with a face palm for the obnoxious Geico campaign with the slick haired tough guy in a suit convincing you Geico can save you money.
Below is the Nike ad which has a lot of the qualities that Nike always brings to the table in commercials including a great soundtrack, visually compelling, and celebrity endorsements. I think what makes this commercial is the catchiness of the tune (Ali in the Jungle by the Hours) along with a great visual montage of training. Its something that makes an impression and I think using MMA and Rampage Jackson for the pivotal moment in the commercial was a great call that will really resonate.
The other brand that is impressing me is Audi and I've heard similar feedback echoing the sentiment.
The two ads they are currently running the most are blow. Audi just seems to really have momentum in addition to being generally disruptive to other higher end auto mobile makers. The ads below have great production quality, show off almost the entire fleet of Audi cars, and plays off the social conventions attached to the ownership of certain luxury cars. From a brand perspective its very effective as Audi looks to get more traction with higher end consumers who may be waning on uniqueness of their current luxury car.
I remember my 6th grade Walk A Thon to raise funds for my school. Tasked with filling up a roster of people willing to sign pledge paper, I stalked my family and family friends looking for them to pledge an amount per lap that I walked.
Tapping my network of possible donors who didn't have their savings in a piggy bank required almost as much time and effort than the actual walking did. Even after the Walk A Thon, there was the somewhat awkward collection process of calling everyone up, telling them how much money to send and where. Given I solicited a lot of donations from some older folks who lived out of state, getting that donation back to my school could often be a bit of hassle as well.
Getting money for a charitable cause is never easy unless you're maybe a celebrity. Still though you have to look at how easy and efficient raising charitable donations has become via technology albeit at the cost of personal touch and inundation of charity requests in a given year.
Rewind 10 or even 5 years ago. If you were raising money for a cause, you'd probably talk to your friends, family, and co workers and would mainly utilize the phone to augment in your in person efforts.
Today requests for charitable donations can make their way to you through:
- blogs you read
- Facebook (there are even third party extensions to help facilitate donations)
- Text messages
These methods are all in addition to the general web where people can request for donations through donation causes websites. In fact my sister for her birthday requested that I donate some money for books for her classroom. I was obliged to do it but snoozed a couple of hours in which time frame an anonymous donor saw her request and fully funded the purchase of hundreds of dollars of books.
And behind all the methods for you to market your cause, there are easy to make microsites to be a web hub for people who want to give or learn more. In previous years it was essentially easier to plead ignorance or forgetfulness when it came to the giving part after you were made aware of the cause. Now people can set up simple sites where all the info is laid out typically with a merchant account that can transact a payment.
Before the days of cell phones and computers, the amount of people you saw in a given week or had a memorized phone number for was probably somewhere between 1-100. Given many of you are like me and have hundreds of Facebook friends, the email addressees of hundreds/thousands of contacts, and have the phone numbers of various contacts saved to your phone, the reach of your message is inherently grown by just allowing yourself to utilize these tools to solicit donations.
If you think about this from a sales and marketing perspective, the amount of good leads you have contact information is multiples higher, the sales process is shorter, the marketing tools are greater, and the payment process is now built in.
With all these advancements for the better, unfortunately some of the charm of raising money for charity has been lost. I mean would you want the girl scouts to only take web orders? There is something natural in buying cookies from the Girl Scouts in person and encouraging them in their efforts and their affiliation for their group.
The Girl Scouts are not the best example as its a recreational group, but with every mass email, microsite, and 143 character Tweet, the request for a donation becomes less personal.
You're asking me for money, to support a cause, to give away some funds for personal use to support something you are involved with, and doing so in a a day and age where financial resources are meager and technology has propelled a much more frequent rate of donation requests.
At the end of the day, unless you are inclined to donate to all or none of the requests you field, it becomes a somewhat difficult decision making process.
The IT guy from 4 jobs ago is trying to feed poor kids
The girl I am FB friends with from college who I had a crush on but never asked out is raising money for cancer research.
The second baseman from my high school baseball team is raising relief money for Haiti.
These are all hypothetical but you get the point. You probably like all these people to some degree and who isn't supportive of cancer research, feeding kids, and rebuilding after a natural disaster?
At the end of the day your personal connection to me is probably the biggest indicator on if I'll donate money. After that, I really want to feel sold to. Why this charity? How did you get involved? Will you do it next year? How you been since high school? How much money are you trying to raise? How does the money help your cause? Are you single and know I had a crush on you in college? Does philanthropy turn you on?
I guess what I am trying to say is that of late I've got a crap ton of requests to give a whole hell of a lot of people donations for a lot of greast causes. A good amount of them have been very cookie cutter pitches and I don't feel sold to.
While I am proud that you're doing something beneficial to society, I hope you'll take into consideration how competitive your request for donations is with others and will not remove the personal touch from the pre internet days. I'd also like to know that you're really emotionally invested in the cause you're involved with and not beefing up your MBA resume or just doing something because its something everyone at your office is doing.
Do that and you should be good. If not you better hope you're a babe from college who is turned on by philanthropy.
Back in the day when I was a Tour De Force in the blog world, I used to have a running feature, Commercial of the Week. I am now trying to get back to that and thought I would include one from this week's Super Bowl.
Being the tech nerd I am, I heard rumblings that Google was indeed going to have a commercial in the big game which is a huge break from the norm as the tech giant usually doesn't spend much or anything on advertising.
A lot of the Super Bowl commercials impressed me, but the Google one really stuck out. Call me a homer to Silicon Valley, but the sappy commercial was well executed and created an emotional connection with many of the people who watched it. Yes...search engine and emotional connections.
In fact a couple of young ladies at my house (not the Kirby vacuum girl), got a little teary eyed watching the commercial which blew my mind and took me back to Dumb and Dumber when Jeff Daniels and Jim Carey share a hearty cry while watching an ATT commercial.
Anyways, below is the commercial. I already used Google (sometimes Bing), but I can this ad getting some traction with the female audience. The fact they mixed in some nice product usability shots were a nice touch as well.
UPDATE: This is hilarious. Good work Slate, poking fun of Tiger.
A confident knock on the door followed by a door bell ring. Pop ins by my friends are rare but that's what my money was on. I was on the phone and passed it to my roommate while I investigated the unexpected visitor.
Lookin through my peep hole I made out the outline of a young attractive female. I couldn't make out who it was so I opened the door and was immediately pulled into some small talk with the young lady who I had never met before.
My first guess was realtor as they sometimes canvass the area and I've ran into a couple of attractive realtors in my neighborhood. Her opening line small talk piece was "I love your Element in the driveway. My roommate has one!".
She was spunky and I liked that, but it was not my Honda Element and rather my roommates which I told her. "Well we both have roommates with Elements!" she exclaimed.
She was growing on me as I began to realize the many things we could had common. But what did she want? It was then she dropped the hammer.
The auburn hair, energetic, personable, and good looking young lady was...... a Kirby vacuum salesperson.
These people are NOTORIOUS for wasting hours of your time, ruining your day/life, and using pushy/shady sales tacticts that overstep bounds. They usually sell vacuums for over $1,000 and try to get you to finance it after watching hours of Billy Mays like demos. Don't believe me? Click on a link above or just google some stuff. These people suck and unfortunately I have had a couple friend get suckered into this racket.
She was about as good looking as this photo I have here of some random women holding a vacuum in a provocative pose. She had on a different outfit though although I am not 100% of that. Basically she was right in my sweet spot of "I think you're good looking, but not sooooo good looking that you're probably way out of my league. You're probably barely out of my league but close enough where I can fake being optimistic."
The staple of the Kirby sales pitch is just getting into the house. Once you're in, you've won half the battle and the war is going to last hours. So here I am at about 5pm with plans in about a hour. I have a good looking young lady at my doorstep (modern day Trojan horse) begging me to vacuum any room in my house for free.
I remember reading and hearing how bad these experiences were and being cognizant of the fact that I am a big pushover. She just needed to do 25 demos in a day to get paid she claimed and that she would do a great job getting my carpets clean. I was having a Super Bowl get together within 24 hours so this was becoming enticing. Still though I knew that if she got past me there was a good chance I would be late getting out for the night and there was a decent chance I was going to buy a four figure vacuum.
I mustered up some strength and she got a little more pushy as well as flirty and even tried to make a move to get by me to check out the carpet. I held strong and after about 5 more minutes of nicely telling her no, she finally gave up and left.
While our relationship was short, the breakup was bad as she took back all her stuff.... and by stuff I mean the flyer she gave me. Who takes back fliers?
But it weighed on my heavily and I began to second guess my decision. Hot girl, wanting to clean my house, good rapport, and lots of stuff in common like roommates automobiles. For hours I went through the scenarios and in the end I drafted this flow chart to map out the possible scenarios that could have happened. Follow the lines all of which have %'s next to them for % of likelihood of occurring when faced with a decision. Click Read more to see flow chart as its a little wide to see on my front page.
Let me know your thoughts on my decision in the poll on the side of this blog. If you can't make out the text just right click on the image and select "view image" to see it in its initial size.
Tonight I was really shocked to hear of what amounts to a major scandal in Silicon Valley involving the well read and tech thought leader, Tech Crunch.
TC is like candy for those of us who work in tech and its more like crack for those who work at startups or within the startup eco system. Younger startups lust for a coverage on the site and you can probably find a direct correlation between buzz, funding, etc, and Tech Crunch coverage.
Tonight the founder of TC announced that one of its many writers who also was employed by TC as an intern solicited coverage of emerging startups for kickbacks like high end electronics such as a Mac Book Air. The intern was terminated as described below. All of the interns posts were deleted as well.
"After an investigation we determined that the allegation was true. In fact, on at least one other occasion this intern was almost certainly given a computer in exchange for a post.
The intern in question has admitted to some of the allegations, and has denied others. We suspended this person while we were sorting through exactly what happened. When it became clear yesterday that there was no question that this person had requested, and in one case taken, compensation for a post, the intern was terminated."
Later the intern in question posted an apology on his personal blog, essentially identifying himself as the intern in question as he was not identified in the post over at TC.
How big is TechCrunch? The intern in questions name although NOT identified on Tech Crunch are two of Googles top ten search trends. That's a lot of people clicking on a link, finding out his name, and then Googling to learn more.
I thought the story was interesting as its text book story of someone extorting a "pay to play" tactic on an ambitious company. I wanted to do a little more research on the subject when I found myself a little curious as to just who this Daniel Brusilovsky is. Click Read more....
At some point in 2003 or 2004 I was watching Conan with some friends after a night out. While discussing how much we enjoyed Conan compared to Leno or Letterman I boldly made the prediction that Conan would host The Tonight Show in the next 5-6 years.
My friends were baffled seeing that Leno and Letterman were pretty much icons and stapled to their networks. It wasn't that I really was an expert and had any insider info, but I explained that our generation (Gen Y) has an affinity with Conan and his style of humor opposed to what I perceive as vanilla mainstream showmanship of Leno and Letterman. They were still skeptical but bought in as I explained that our generation from a pure numbers standpoint is bigger than any other, would be coming to power as consumers in the near future, and would be the target demographic for most mainstream advertisers.
Sometime before I graduated college, my prediction came true as a transition plan was made for Conan to take over. Unfortunately though it was short lived as the older folks didn't tune in to Leno at an earlier time slot and younger folks didn't watch Conan like many anticipated. See hilarious video below for details.
You know what happened and its a shame because Conan was funny and someone that was legitimately entertaining. Letterman isn't bad at all, but I am baffled at who finds Leno funny.
Most of the anger was pointed at NBC and if you know anything about them you could peg this to Jeff Zucker, President of NBC, as the main culprit.What I found out today, is that the Conan and Zucker go way way back. In fact there tension can be traced back to their day in college.
Today while reading on Wikepedia, I came across this interesting blurb.
"Zucker went on to Harvard University, serving as President of the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, during his senior year. As President of the Crimson, Zucker encouraged the decades-old rivalry with the Harvard Lampoon, headed by future NBC colleague Conan O'Brien."
So long story short The Harvard Crimnson is a storied college daily publication. You can check out their Wikipedia page, but they quite the pedigree including former staff workers like JFK, FDR, Steve Balmer, Michael Chrichton and obviously Zucker.
On the other side of the fence you have the Harvard Lampoon which is satirical magazine that comes out 5x a year but also boasts some big names in addition to Conan like William Randolph Hearst, George Plimpton, and Ryan from the Office. The Harvard Lampoon beget National Lampoon which beget a lot of good movies.
Its your cliche rivalry of snotty overachivers versus the goofballs and in the 80's Zucker and Conan clashed when Conan led a group of Lampoon writers to steal all the copies of the Crimnson one day. Zucker called the cops and from there the rivalry was born.
"In 2001, Conan told The New Yorker this about the incident: "College pranks are supposed to be clever, but our rivalry with the Crimson had degenerated into us stealing something, Jeff calling the police, and the police making us haul it back," said O'Brien. (Other Lampoon pranks on Zucker included "a fake phone-sex ad with Zucker’s dorm-room phone number. Zucker did not find any of this particularly hilarious.") So what's to glean from this Harvard history lesson? Yes, Jeff Zucker was a thin-skinned prick who didn't understand comedy or know how to handle creatives even back then."
I definitely found this fascinating. I doubt it had any role in how things played out, but its certainly noteworthy and almost cliche. College rivals go at it with the more down to earth and fun loving individual getting under the skin of the more ambitious and uptight rival.
Years go by with success for both until both climb to the top of their professions. Conan takes over the holy grail of television only to be knocked off his perch by his former college rival. In a movie, Conan would have a last laugh but as it stands now, America is being subjected to Jay Leno. I won't rehash any more of this but will rather tip my hat to Conan for a very classy goodbye message with a poignant message to young people that I'll remember for years to come.
There is something about writing, especially on your own site, that keeps your mind fresh. I've been pathetic at doing it the last 6 months and I hope to get back in the groove now. It's been far too long.
To get back on a roll I present to you the future of sports journalism in Damon Weaver who caught my eye on the The 700 Level. Damon's a pretty good interviewer and fires a diverse assortment of questions in a sporadic manner. Below he interviews Donovan McNabb and specifically asks McNabb if he has ever cried after a game (1:30 in).
McNabb proudly states that he has and its not a big deal. Other interesting moments include "Everyone knows you're good at football, but what are you horrible at?".
While McNabb staunchly defends men crying, his NFC counterpart Tony Romo chimes on the opposite side of this divisive issue stating "Men Don't Cry". Damon also probes rumor on if he likes Duke of Hazzard and who he prefers as a singer between Carrie Underwood or Jessica Simpson.
Maybe I'm a sucker for cute kids being hilarious, but this was a nice change of pace for Pro Bowl coverage. Damon does these interviews for his school and has a bunch of other interesting interviews including one with Obama. Sadly he tones down it down for our president in chief.
There are a lot of interesting people on the Internet. For instance check out the comments on my article about how Tyler Hansbrough commercial is awful. When you google "Tyler Hansbrough commercial", look what happens.
While you would think this is a good thing, my blog mocking how terrible that commercial is pops up for every fan of his and or North Carolina who wants to watch it. They want to gawk at Tyler getting his own commercial. Instead they get my article saying how much it blows. This leads to awesome comments like this:
"With a last name like Koo you shouldn't be calling anyone else "ridiculous".."
"ben koo is a poo poo. he said it all when he said hansbrough is the most despised for basically working hard???? are you kidding me. ben koo must be one of those people who sue mcdonald's for spilling coffee on himself. get a life, and a job, you should be fired for writing this article."
Luckily this comment was not seen by my boss at benkoo.com. Here is another gem.
"To Mr., uhhhh KOO? What is it with you punks who are just jaded for the sake of being jaded, like by being that way you have hit on some profound life philosophy? Your guy is President now so why so perpetually pissed off?
If you want some real life philosophy, read The Bible. Get happy ya idgit. BTW, you have no writing talent either, so take down this website. Loser."
That's enough of that, but now I want to introduce you to my source of entertainment. Allow me to introduce you to Peter Myers, who during a Twitter tantrum got a little frisky with Mizzourah blog. Just a quick note, its not a good idea to piss off those guys.
So lets start with some background info on Peter. He has only 2 followers and out of his 200+ tweets about 10% of them are to Taylor Swift. Per his Twitter page here are some things he likes and dislikes. Its at this point, I'll insert the jump as from here on out its NSFW. Clich read more to follow along.
A couple weeks back, Yardbarker announced a partnership with Fox Sports that seemed to pique a lot of people's interest.
"FoxSports.com, MSN.com and independent blog aggregator Yardbarker have struck a three-year content syndication and advertising sales partnership that deepens an existing relationship between the three hubs.
Building on a smaller, content-for-distribution deal struck in June 2008, the new pact creates a structure in which FoxSports.com and MSN.com gain the ability to sell Yardbarker advertising inventory. Yardbarker content widgets and individual stories will appear throughout FoxSports.com and MSN.com, and Yardbarker editors will work in regular collaboration with their FoxSports.com counterparts."
Despite the great writeup by the SBJ which is a subscription only publication, a lot of people seemed to want to know more about the partnership and what it meant for both parties as well as the general sports 2.0 industry.
Lucky for me my former boss and Yardbarker CEO, Pete Vlastelica, wanted to share some more details on the deal.
Although there are a handful of companies that look to help sports properties monetize through advertising and sponsorships, Yarbarker is now the first of these companies to have a sales partnership with a major media entity in Fox. When asked about what this new built bridge between sports focused start-up and mainstream media entity meant for the industry and the companies involved, Pete was optimistic that a younger Yardbarker audience and overall content quality was an attractive addition to help Fox augment their content and advertising packages.
"I do think we're entering a new era for sports blogs that's characterized by an acceptance and acknowledgement that the content on sports blogs can be really high quality. This partnership is very good for both sides, and the bloggers in the Yardbarker Network will benefit directly. Yardbarker benefits from Fox and MSN's reach and coverage of the ad market; our bloggers get more traffic and higher CPMs; and Fox/MSN get the ability to sell custom ad programs targeted at a younger audience, which is what every brand advertiser wants right now."
One of the caveats of the partnership that wasn't clear to me was if Fox was taking over full ownership of monetization of the Yardbarker's network which Pete gave some more details on.
"It's actually a shared responsibility. It's a non-exclusive deal, meaning we'll still be selling the Yardbarker Network ourselves, but the intent on both sides is to dive into a truly collaborative partnership where we're working together to grow the pie that we're both going after. Our offerings are very complimentary and we each stand to benefit from selling together, so the collaboration should be a natural one."
Yardbarker athlete blogs will continue to housed on Yardbarker.com but will get more attention on foxsports.com as well as msn.com. I was always of the opinion that ESPN had a roundabout way to not really source some of the great info found from Yardbarker blogs. Myself and the awesome Alana G have both successfully chided ESPN on this issue, so I think its extremely exciting to see larger web properties working directly with Yardbarker to really push this content more aggressively and sourced accurately.
Another interesting note from the Fox deal is the fact its a 3 year deal, which is really the equivalent of 9 years in start-up years. I have always been really intrigued by some of the bigger sports 2.0 partnerships with larger companies as its been my belief that these partnerships could serve as corporate foreplay for a possible future acquisition. Bleacher Report is working closely with CBS who previously bought Sportsline.com for 30 million dollars while SB Nation has very successful partnership with Yahoo Sports and who purchased the Rivals network of sites for somewhere around 60 million dollars. The acquisition of Rivals came a couple of years after Fox purchased the competing Scout network for around 50 million dollars.
With all this in mind, you wonder if these companies are taking a good look at the next wave of sports media entities and are utilizing various partnerships as a first date before bringing the start-up home to Mom and Dad (CFO and CEO). Pete really didn't embrace or dismiss that possibility.
"I guess that's one way of looking at it. You mentioned some great start ups there -- as long as we all stay focused on creating value, the rest will take care of itself."
Although Bloguin and Yardbarker overlap a bit, it was reassuring to hear Pete's thoughts on what key to improving monetization of sports would be innovation and collaboration rather than competition.
"The key is growing the pie. We can't all keep fighting for the same small piece of the digital marketing pie, and if all we're doing is selling banner ads, we're going to lose a lot more than we win. We have to invent a new category and convince brands to allocate dollars to it. It's starting to happen. I completely believe that sports blogs can be the backbone of the next generation of all sports marketing."
While its nothing new that a large sports media entity has taken an interest in the content of a sports 2.0 company, it says a lot that this partnership carved out an opportunity for Fox to augment Yardbarker's sales efforts.
I think what's most important is that Yardbarker got some level of a guarantee. Regardless of what type of guarantee Yardbarker will receive, the guarantee will effectively serve as a motivation tool for Fox's sales team as well as an insurance poicy for Yardbarker. If Yardbarker is guaranteed any amount of revenue from Fox, the partnership brass and sales management will be motivated to close sales partnerships that would ensure the partnership would be profitable rather than paid out of pocket. Obviously they felt comfortable enough and confident enough that they'll be able to deliver here and are likely excited to diversify their packages and inventory.
I would also imagine that Fox felt a need here to have some inventory that skewed to a younger audience due to some feedback from clients. A lot of advertisers have began to embrace sports blogs and companies like Yahoo, Brash, Yardbarker, and FSV have been able to cash in here. Fox now has put themselves in a strong position compete for ad dollars that are meant to go to a younger audience through access to Yardbarker's network. More than likely there is some type of mechanisms that will remove channel conflict between Fox and Yardbarker in sales opportunities as Yardbarker will still be hitting the pavement trying to secure ad dollars independently of Fox.
Kudos to Pete and my YB peeps who I miss like crazy for making this happen. While it may not have an overnight effect in the sports blogosphere, I think other larger media companies will watch this partnership and begin taking a more serious look at working with sports bloggers.