Tag Archives: Ideas

What is this fuckery called retargeting?… Is it effective?

Remember when you were in the market for a fresh pair of kicks or a new top to impress that not so special someone on your recently memorable for all the wrong reasons tinder date? You jumped onto ASOS and when overwhelmed with the choices thought “Fuck it I’ll look later.”. No? Well, facebook sure seems to think you did. Next thing you know your sitting in class, at work, on the train and you stumble your way online only to see banner ads from ASOS for the exact category you were perusing. Creepy. But hey no harm no foul you shrug it off right? And that weekend you’re out shopping with friends and low and behold find that perfect pair of shoes, tie, whatever, no need to keep looking but that’s not what Facebook thinks…next thing you know all you see for the next few weeks are ads for shoes over and over again to the point of irrational anger. Or is it rational?

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This is just one example of how technology is influencing advertisement and is more commonly known as ‘Adtech’. The example above highlights one of the most notorious forms of Adtech called retargeting where it roughly works like this; a website uses cookie-based technology that uses javascript code to follow those who visit the page around the rest of the web. This is done so anonymously and is done so in a way that the ad will only target those who have visited the said website. The purpose of this, of course, is so that even though Bob didn’t make it all the way to the ‘check out’, maybe he got distracted or something came up, brands and websites can subtly remind Bob about the new ultra shiny garden hose reel and other similar categorical items and hey, maybe Bob will complete the purchase at a later time and think fondly about that website.

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But is this ethical? Is Bob only buying that hose reel because he kept seeing images of it everywhere he went and now only bought it based on one initial passing thought, turned action off of subliminal advertising? More and more consumers are becoming irritated and fed up with the constant feed of adverts in their lives opting for web browser extensions that block all ads and it even caused big companies like Apple to start building these types of ad blockers into their own web browsers which have then been used as part of a selling point of their products. Innovations in technology have brought about a lot of new and amazing streams in which the advertising industry can play with but is the industry just being lazy?

The term ‘brand engagement’ is thrown around a lot these days where big brands want consumers to ‘engage’ with them but tactics like retargeting has had the exact opposite effect where consumers are actively trying to disengage with brands and ads so they can have a moment of peace from the bombardment of products and services shoved down their eyeballs. If you rely heavily on retargeting your potential consumers for your products and or services are you even offering anything of worth? Perhaps its time to think more creatively and do something that has consumers wanting to engage with your website and or brand.

Take a video… it will last longer!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… well then what’s a video worth?

Last year I snapped a picture of a little girl I met in India called Angel. On paper, her story is all kinds of tough. After sleeping with someone outside her cast, Angel’s mum tried to drown her as a newborn. Although only three days old, Angel put up a fight and her little heart refused to stop beating. After her failed attempt to murder her newborn child, Angel’s mum gave Angel to a local rescue home and has never seen her since.

Whilst reading about my sweet Angel you feel for her, but its just text on a page, you will probably never think about her again. However, after seeing a picture of her sweet smile, you feel a deeper level of connection and more emotions are evoked as the story grows on you… a picture is worth a thousand words.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? Videos are powerful and enable the viewer to transcend space and time. Whilst it brings me so much joy to gaze at Angel’s sweet face in her picture, I feel like I am back with her when I see a simple video of her. I have a video of Angel in her school uniform jumping up and down on her bed laughing and calling out to me, ‘Ukka Ukka,” which means big sister. The picture of Angel tells me a thousand words, of who she is, what she is like and who she will become; however, the video transports me back in time. Back to my Angel.

I can hear her voice and her laughter, I can see the excitement on her face and I can feel the love I felt for her right in that moment. The video is what I treasure. After months of not seeing Angel, her contagious laugh, which was once so loud in my ears slowly, softens, the memories of hours of jumping on the bed fade and hearing my name called over and over becomes a distant memory. Despite the time apart, it only takes one play of the video to make me feel like I am back with her. Maybe a video has the ability to make us feel those thousands of words in a picture.

Text can tell a powerful story, a picture is worth a thousand words but a video has the ability to transport us through time. Videos engage our minds like nothing else, they have the ability to unpack complex concepts quickly and evoke stronger emotions than any other medium. Videos have the ability to transport us through time and space and quench our mind’s thirst for information and interaction. Since video appeals to both sight and sound, it has the ability bring back our memories, beautiful memories of our journeys, memories like my Angel.

3 great ads I had nothing to do with!

In the tradition of the popular Thinkbox series of shorts that explore some of the greatest TV advertisements in the company of leading Creatives ‘who know a thing or two about making them’, I’ve decided to put forward my own three choices of great advertisements that I had nothing to do with. Now, I’m no Chief Creative Officer of a huge agency, but I feel like I still know a good ad from a bad one. So here goes.

In the age of digital television recorders, advertisement skipping, product placement, overlay ads, Google and pretty much the internet in general, making a TVC stand out above the rest has become tough. Attention spans have shortened, and the point now is to make a TVC that instantly grabs attention and is genuinely engaging. I’ve selected three TVCs that have recently inspired me in my journey through studying advertising; brilliant commercials, old and new, that I admire. (Oh and by the way, if you’ve never heard of it, check out advert.ge on Facebook – absolutely brilliant page constantly posting great TVC’s from around the globe.)

Ad #1: It’s now or never.

As the rest of the world runs for their lives and civilization crumbles around them, the bar-goers enjoy their last moments together and make the most of theirs. The bartender pours shots of Cuervo, a man plays Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never” on the jukebox and couples tango while destruction around them ensues, because as for these brave souls; ‘tomorrow is overrated’.

The coolness factor is stratospheric here. CP+B’s campaign, directed by Ringan Ledwidge, features stunning visuals and uses an end-of-days scenario in charming fashion as a metaphor for living in the moment. The Elvis ballad, which was the second best-selling single of his career, is conceptually perfect and cuts right through the mayhem. The end tagline, “Tomorrow Is Overrated,” is a fun way to highlight tequila’s reputation as a liquor that can lead to unparalleled nights of abandon – and a way to emphasize the primacy of now in times of uncertainty.

Ad #2: Only time.

Who would have thought that more than 85 million people would watch the Muscles from Brussels doing his signature split with two Volvo trucks moving in reverse on a highway, backed by Enya’s “Only Time”? Volvo knew.

Directed by Andreas Nilsson, Volvo filmed the short on a runway in Spain in one take after three days of rehearsals. The short was, at the time, the latest in a series of videos Volvo used to promote how easy it was, and is, to steer its new high-tech big rigs – others have featured a woman walking a tightrope between to moving trucks heading toward a tunnel and a hamster steering one up the edge of a cliff.

The series, and the Jean-Claude Van Damme video in particular, are an insanely clever way to get attention to a type of vehicle most consumers usually don’t care or even think about while proving to other brands that they can use short clips to generate a Super Bowl-sized audience for little money when upping the creativity level of their campaigns.

Ad #3: Satisfaction.

While they sleep, a man’s tongue crawls completely out of his mouth and embarks on a journey to a house party down the road, bringing back home a cold Tooheys Extra Dry.

Yes, another alcohol ad. But prove to me that this isn’t one of the greatest Australian ads ever. I distinctively remember always rushing to the TV whenever I could hear Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” playing. “The tongue beer ad is on!”, I would say. I was 12.

This Tooheys TVC, created by BMF in Sydney, drew dozens of complaints but ranks as one of the best television commercials in the world. The Advertising Standards Board rejected a deluge of complaints about the ad, while Tooheys claims it reinvigorated Australian beer advertising. The advertisement is deliberately distinctive to reflect the diverse and growing consumer appetite for the brand, with a particular focus on younger consumers. At the core of the ad, the tongue is a simple yet strategic device to highlight the importance of taste.

The overall theme of my three advertisements, it seems, is that they all effectively make use of one huge feature amongst the impact of the visuals; that of music. Each advertisement conveys a strong message, but through the added characteristic of music, and specifically popularised music, the ad becomes something else. It becomes engaging.

Rowan James Slade

It’s all about the Idea!

You could have the greatest production team, the best global agency, and an amazing client. But just remember this does not mean anything with a bad idea.

Let me give you an example of a simple idea that was a pure genius. Do you remember the power cut during the third quarter of Super Bowl 2013, which caused the lights to go out for 34 minutes? The sandwich cookies brand, Oreo was quick to think in this situation and posted on social media ‘‘Power out? No problem. You can always dunk in the dark’.

 It revealed a simple picture of an Oreo cookie in a dark room. You could argue how Oreo was a great success compared to the other brands that paid for a spot in the memorable, global game. However I disagree with this theory as great ideas also went into all of those other commercials even If they didn’t think of it in 10 minutes. For example the Budweiser commercial- brotherhood, it worked because of the idea behind it. It was a surprising advertisement away from the typical alcohol ad. It told a warm, hearing story between a man and his horse that were separated, yet three years later they were reunited. It engaged the audience from the start as we questioned what the advertisement was for as it had a cinematic feel to it.

According to SJ Insights the number of ads that adults are now exposed to across all five media (TV, radio, Internet, newspapers and magazines) is about 360 per day; of these, only 150-155 are even noted, and far fewer make a strong enough impact to be recalled, make an impression, and ultimately, make a sale. It is vital that there is a strong idea behind any campaign; if your ad is noticed out of those 360 per day then you are on your way to success. One campaign that has stood our for me this week as my bus goes past it everyday is a campaign that was advertising Mardi Gras. It was the simplicity that made me love the outdoor advertisement. Instead of using a billboard outside Westfield in Bondi Junction they have simply made a mural to advertise Mardi Gras using a colourful set of wings, which, people can stand next to and take photos. This always grabs my attention, as the advertisement looks different every time I look at it with different people laughing and smiling, whilst taking photos with the wings. It is memorable as it made me feel happy. You could spend fortunes on a TV commercial or a print ad but if the idea is not relatable or doesn’t make your audience feel an emotion then it gets lost in the world of advertising.

Just remember the greatest ideas are the simplest.

Chloe Alexandra Geggus

Programmatics – WTF?

Programmatic ads have changed the game in online advertising, but there’s still heaps of confusion around what it actually is and how it all works. So let’s break it down. Programmatic buying refers to any ad space bought automatically on a web page these can be bought by 1. Bidding for one space or two. Buying it directly. These spaces are bid on its called programmatic real-time bidding (RTB) this is what serves internet users with display advertising on the web.

But where do they do all this buying and bidding? Well, all the interesting stuff happens on Ad exchange.  Ad exchange will auction off the space to the highest bidder, then the add will appear when the page is done loading. So basically as a page loads, if it has ad space on it that’s available to be bid on, info about the web page and who’s viewing it is passed on to an ad exchange and an auction will be held. The prices of the ad spaces completely depend’s on how much buyers are willing to pay.

You’ve probably confused, how could there be an auction in a matter of seconds that it takes to load a page?! But that’s exactly how long an auction on ad exchange will take. It happens so quickly because advertisers use a fully automated software demand side platform (DSP) to help them decide which ad space to purchase and to bid on ads for them. This does remove the need for human sales people, negotiation skills and a huge amount of time as these decisions are made immediately and simply the highest bidder wins.

The Use of RTB means advertisers no longer have to purchase ad space for a set amount of money for a set amount of time on websites they assume will bring them traffic instead ads can be specifically targeted to relevant audiences across a wide range of sites and prices and can all be managed in real time!

Programmatic advertising has taken a lot of stress off agency’s when buying ads as the process of buying has become much more efficient and cheap. Agencies no longer have to research the best ad space to place an ad, rely on an admin heavy process and manually place the ad before the ad is even running. Now thanks to programmatic advertising’s marketers can now have faster access to ad inventory, complete pricing control and immediate and seamless delivery.

Sophie Robertson

TypePlay® at Macleay

Inspired by Jessica Walsh’s AGDA keynote presentation Play by Your Own Rules, and Jessica’s design workshop by the same name, Julieann Brooker ran a TypePlay® workshop for our Creative Process students at Macleay College.

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The client:  Pacific Artisan, a new online shop that sells ethically sourced and produced fair-trade products handmade by women from countries in the Oceania region and indigenous Australia.

The biggest advertising related problem:  How to promote yet another online shop in the Australian market, with a minimal budget. No real promotion has been done yet other than infrequent Facebook and Twitter posts.

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The creative task:  To develop branding and advertising to target socially aware women, aged 35+, and persuade them that the relaunched online shop will provide an easy way to buy unique hip cool products made locally by women living ‘off the beaten track’. To use creativity and design to do good.

Why TypePlay®?  Let’s get serious about play. In Dr. Stuart Brown’s 2008 TED talk, Play is more than just fun, he shares how contemporary innovation and creativity has been impeded by the reduced use of our hands. In fact, it’s currently a condition of employment, in problem-solving roles at NASA and Boeing, to have worked with one’s hands.

Play is boosting creativity and innovation for young and old, across several domains, (Brown, 2009), and studies indicate work and play are complimentary, (Staw & Barsade, 1993). Hence, it’s an ideal practice for developing branding and advertising.

“Play is nature’s greatest tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties.” (Brown, p. 127, 2009).

The students made their own rules and played.  

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Constraints included materials, limited words, and time. They split into groups of 2-4, selected words and brand statements to portray, sketched ideas and tested materials. From a wellbeing perspective, play is an excellent conduit to integrate our lives and ourselves, and especially useful in building trust, a valuable commodity for group work!

The cohort regrouped for a quick critique, then photographed and recorded their work as pics to be used in marketing, the website, and social media.

PA_brookeOne team used the products and some props to create a stop motion piece of an island village.

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“Nothing lights up the brain like play”, Stuart Brown, 2008. 

The rewarding project continued in the Social Media and Digital Design units, and the bountiful creative concepts presented pitched to a panel of judges at Publicis Mojo.

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You can browse the Pacific Artisan story, and purchase their authentic range of off-the beaten-track products here.

Play By Your Own Rules: AGDA Workshop

The morning after Jessica Walsh’s AGDA keynote presentation, Julieann Brooker and a few fortunate Sydneysiders met to Play by Our Own Rules.

The task set by Jessica for the 2-hour workshop: Design, create and record a typographic piece within specific constraints. I recalled some of the bold typographic work Jessica Walsh and Stefan Sagmeister produce at Sagmeister & Walsh.

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Clearly, time was going to be our most challenging constraint,  and Jessica reminded us that limitations provide opportunities for creativity. The other three constraints were our team – we split into groups of five; the material – we scrambled to select only one set of media from the colourful range on offer; and the phrase we wrote – the shorter the better for efficacy.play by own rules DEWe dove for the reels of coloured crepe paper, spent less than two minutes on introductions, and eight minutes on brainstorming our words. We settled on Roll With It for the kinetic possibilities.

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We had 20 minutes to sketch some concepts, while Jessica played with a Sharpie and some typographic art in her notebook. She was clearly in flow, and soon, so were we.

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We started big and bold, on the floor, red words on black paper. Jessica advised us to work small(er), both for speed and ease of production.

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We changed process. Restricted to our one media, we innovated and twisted the crepe to produce a finer ribbon.

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We chose three bolder colours and complementary cardboard backgrounds. We worked fast, laying out the words and photographing intermittently in order to produce the stop-motion.

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We had an hour to create it, and 20 mins to photograph it. We used every minute, hastily inverted the pic order and created a gif of the piece for the quick group presentation.

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Our team was strong – all AGDA members, practicing creatives or design educators. All eager to participate and contribute, five was perhaps too many, and teams of three may’ve been enough.

others 1.jpgOne group used party poppers to illustrate the verb ‘pop’, and another ‘handle with care’ with drinking straws.

One of Jessica’s mantras is: “Just get off the computer and make shit.”  And that’s what we did.

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The results are raw and far from finished, but absolutely adequate to experience this innovative approach – taking chances, starting over, and experimenting with techniques not available via digital media.

Play has proven benefits for creativity, moving students – and businesses – from a ‘fixed’ to a ‘growth’ mindset. In his book Play, Stuart Brown writes, “Play is nature’s greatest tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties.”

See Macleay College Advertising & Media students playing, and generating dynamic typographic and illustrative work for Pacific Artisan, in our Creative Process TypePlay® workshop here.

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AGDA is the acronym for the Australian Graphic Design Association Limited, and is our design industry body. Annual membership starts at $65. Benefits include access to resources and discounts to local and international events.