Archive for June, 2009:
I felt it was important this week to pay tribute to an icon, an idol, and the man behind many of today’s music, Michael Jackson.Â When I think about Michael, I think about my childhood, I think about a music icon who wasn’t just the king of pop, he was an immortal that all admired and all adored.
It was sort of fitting that I write this post about Michael since a few months earlier a friend of mine asked me if I watched the Grammy’s, a friend in the entertainment business and I immediately said, “No, the last time I watched the Grammy’s was when Michael Jackon performed. It used to be about the art, now its about the celebrity.”. . . and that is the focus of my post, a memory of Michael and the evolution of the artist to the celebrity.
I have and always will be a huge fan of MJ, you see as a kid I would watch the thriller video tape over and over, from the beginning of the official full length video through to the entire section about the making of music video.Â I would anticipate the excitement of his next album hitting the shelf, knew every word to every song and looked forward to the moment he would be on television, whether in music video or in an interview.
I must have been 9 or ten when I first discovered Michael Jackson, and his music moved me.Â I remember first hearing Billie Jean, Thiller, even the Off The Wall songs, and getting a glimpse of his videos, because my dad would record them for me on Friday Night Videos (sometimes I would even be able to stay up late to watch the show hoping to see him dance across the lighted dancefloor talking about someone else’s kid).
I remember the moment that Michael performed the famed Moonwalk on Motown, my dad also recorded it on VHS.Â I couldn’t wait to watch the Grammy’s or any other award show in anticipation that this brilliant artist would grace us with an amazing performance. Album after album would drop and I would eagerly purchase: Bad, We Are the World, Dangerous, it didn’t matter, his music was amazing, he was a true artist and that was what moved me to purchase his work.
There was the Pepsi scandal, even the oxygen tank, and Captain Eos, but we didn’t care; he played the Superbowl, the Jacksons’ reunion, and his art shined through. He was an idol, an immortal. We weren’t given access to his personal life, we were just shown the man that created some of the most brilliant music the world had or will ever see.
Media controlled our exposure.Â We had only access to Michael through his music, his performances and the press. He stood on high and everyone admired this artist changing the world, even making it a better place through raising money and shining a light on the plight of the people in Africa, but most of all bringing a smile to everyone from Chicago to Cairo.
But eventually the power of the business of media, the access of information and eventually the world of digital, that which I pride most about where the world is going,Â would lead to the transformation of an artist to a celebrity and celebrity to mortal.
The same media that now has made Spencer Pratt a household name for doing nothing more than being a putz, that now awards people in the entertainment industry not for what they create and the contribution they provide culture, but for the irresponsible antics in their real life that helps People Magazine sell ads, and gives Perez Hilton a following, has lead the fall of our idols and icons. Icons that populated a generation, including Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Sylvester Stallone and many more.
You see, we eventually got access to the Neverland Ranch, to the man behind the music, the stories, the scandals, and just about every single thing that happened in Michael’s life. Whether it was his breakfast or his bowel movements, it was no longer delivered to us through the filter of his Music, the industry, his performances or his publicists. Michael was eventually exposed for who he was, and that was a person, albeit a person raised in a rough world, without ever being given a childhood and forever lost in the confusion of battling for who the world wanted him to be and the man who he really was. It eventually became less about his music and more about his exploits, and we watched our idol fall from grace.
But what I find most interesting wasn’t that the media exposed our icon, pulled the curtain from the wizard, but that the same evolution that has been occurring in media that gave us access to Michael and allowed him to no longer be immortal, allowed us to collectively share in the sadness in our loss. You see in the past we might have found out about someone like Michael passing through the news or press, maybe a friend or colleague, but now it was a giant movement through social media that shared this knowledge immediately, and it is through that same channel that we are able to know the scale of the shock and sadness across the world. The mourning of Michael’s loss like his personal life has become more public than private: Google servers were overloaded and over 30% of all tweets on twitter were about Michael Jackson and the sadness of our loss.
Michael will be remembered not for what he did as a person, but what he gave us as an idol and a humanitarian,Â and most of all as an artist as his music will play in our hearts forever. And the role of social media as a platform will be changed forever.
MDC PARTNERS ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF NEW DIGITAL PROGRAM, BOULDER DIGITAL WORKS, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER
New York, New York, June 18, 2009â€“ MDC Partners, together with the University of Colorado at Boulder, announced today that they have partnered to create a new kind of school focused on the digital arts and sciences. Itâ€™s called Boulder Digital Works, and it will offer a multi-disciplinary, project-based learning program designed to provide the skills needed by future digital leaders and entrepreneurs. The school is based in Boulder and is a part of the University of Colorado Extension Division. The faculty of Boulder Digital Works will provide a unique array of expertise, including educators from the Universityâ€™s School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the College of Engineering, as well as acclaimed practitioners from leading digital companies throughout the U.S. and the world.Â Swedenâ€™s Hyper Island, one of the most highly regarded digital learning programs in Europe, will also be a partner in the program providing exchange programs for teachers and students.
â€œBoulder Digital Works was created to provide real world skills and capabilities for people who want to be a part of the digital revolution,â€ said Chuck Porter, Co-Chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Chief Strategist of MDC Partners. â€œThe most effective digital leaders are collaborative with a broad base of skills.Â Itâ€™s not easy to create a traditional curriculum that addresses this, but at the University of Colorado we met people with the vision and flexibility to make it happen. The Boulder Digital Works learning model is adaptive, integrated and practical, and it covers the spectrum of digital disciplines and media.Â Students learn to be multi-disciplinary thinkers and problem solvers, and they learn to change the world.â€
â€œEven in this economy thereâ€™s a critical shortage of digital talent,â€ said Miles Nadal, CEO and Chairman of MDC Partners.Â â€œVirtually every enterprise needs digital thinkers who are versatile, smart, and connected, and who can move comfortably and intelligently across the disciplines of technology, creative and business. At MDC Partners, our fundamental philosophy centers on the importance of talent and creativity. We can think of no better investment than the future digital talent of our industry.â€
Initially, Boulder Digital Works will offer a 60-week Certificate Program in Digital Arts and Sciences.Â The Certificate program will begin this Fall with applications due by August 15.Â Beginning in late July, the school will also offer 36-hour, intensive immersion Executive Programs in digital fluency for working professionals.
â€œWe knew that if we wanted to have a true impact on the world through digital education, we needed to do more than offer courses in digital. We needed to fundamentally rethink the learning environment as well as the content offered in higher education,â€ said David Slayden, Professor of Advertising at the University of Colorado and the Executive Director of Boulder Digital Works. â€œOur research has surprised us and challenged our assumptions about education, including the insight that most people interested in digital work donâ€™t care about a graduate degree. What they care about is being digitally savvy and connected to the best work out there and the best people doing it.Â Students graduating from this program will leave prepared to make an impact in the fastest growing medium in the world.â€
About MDC Partners Inc.
MDC Partners is a leading provider of marketing communications solutions and services to clients in North America, Europe and Latin America. Through its partnership of entrepreneurial firms it provides advertising, specialized communications and consulting services to leading brands. MDC Partners’ philosophy emphasizes the utilization of
Strategy and Creativity to drive growth for its clients. “MDC Partners is The Place Where Great Talent Lives”. MDC Partners Class A shares are publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol “MDCA” and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “MDZ.A”.
We acquired the brilliant digital agency Daddy in Sweden to expand CP+B into Europe.Â A couple key things that I am most proud of with this global expansion is that we are Leading with Digital by aquiring a digital firm, and like all things that CP+B does its highly creative and in a completely different market than most agencies expand into.Â Its a huge opportunity, looking forward to much success with it.
NEW YORK, June 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ – Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), an MDC Partners firm, announced today that they are expanding their European base of operations with the acquisition of renowned Swedish digital agency, Daddy. Currently CP+B has service offices in London, Spain and Germany but will now count Gothenburg, Sweden as its first creative hub and factory within Europe. This is a true launch of CP+B Europe with Gothenburg as the center of European operations. The move strengthens CP+B’s global presence and allows them to better serve their current global clients, Burger King and Microsoft, as well as pursue new business with global demands.
“We have been privileged to work globally with Burger King, Microsoft and others over the years and the addition of a creative factory in Europe will further contribute to our momentum in these markets. Daddy feels like the perfect foundation on which we can grow. Our cultures are similar and they are eager to help us build our vision of a CP+B factory in Europe,” said Jeff Hicks, CEO, CP+B.
Founded in 2000 and based in Gothenburg, Daddy has gained global recognition for their innovative approach to interactive design and development. The firm specializes in interactive brand building and business development, visual identity creation and digital strategies. Their high profile client list includes Scania, Ciba Vision, Heinz, SAS, Philips, Capio, TeliaSonera and Autodesk.
“We believe that digital is at the center of everything going forward,” said Alex Bogusky, Co-Chairman, CP+B. “We’ve made digital the focus of our US business, and with the acquisition of Daddy, it will now be the center of CP+B Europe as well. We’ve worked with Daddy a bunch over the past three years and are continually amazed at how smart they are.”
“We are fully committed to attracting, acquiring and retaining best in class thinking in our digital capabilities, as we did earlier this year when we acquired texturemedia, and now with Daddy,” said Chuck Porter, Co-Chairman of the agency. “Without being a digital agency, we’ve won digital agency of the year at Cannes two times in the past three years – it just proves to us where the business is going. And we plan to stay in front of it – all around the world.”
“There is really only one agency in the world we can imagine being a part of. That agency is CP+B,” said Gustav Martner, Executive Creative Director and founding partner, Daddy.
Based in Boulder and Miami, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a member of the MDC Partners network, has a client list that includes Burger King, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Domino’s Pizza, Best Buy, Old Navy, Coke Zero, Guitar Hero and Geek Squad. The agency has the unprecedented distinction of winning the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in five separate categories – Sales Promotion, Media, Cyber, Titanium and the coveted Film category. This year in an amazing run, the agency was named “Agency of the Year” by Advertising Age, Adweek and Creativity magazine. Prior to this, CP+B had been named “Agency of the Year” nine times in the trade press, as well as twice being named “Interactive Agency of the Year” at Cannes. Their work has been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Business Week, Forbes, Fast Company, Time, Newsweek, Advertising Age, Creativity and Archive.
About MDC Partners Inc.
MDC Partners is a leading provider of marketing communications solutions and services to clients in North America, Europe and Latin America. Through its partnership of entrepreneurial firms it provides advertising, specialized communications and consulting services to leading brands. MDC Partners’ philosophy emphasizes the utilization of Strategy and Creativity to drive growth for its clients. “MDC Partners is The Place Where Great Talent Lives”. MDC Partners Class A shares are publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol “MDCA” and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “MDZ.A”.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties which may cause the actual results or objectives to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among other things, the Company’s financial performance; changes in the competitive environment; adverse changes in the economy; ability to maintain long-term relationships with customers; financing requirements; and other factors set forth in the Company’s Form 10-K for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 and subsequent SEC filings.
its amazing that some restaurants still ask if people want bottled or tap.
This is a great article about the impact of digital downloads to the business of video game retailing, but where i think it is most interesting is not the direct impact on physical product sales, but the life time of a video game product. Digital downloads allow publishers and studios to extend the life cycle of their product directly into the sequel and sometimes longer, vs the much driven hit based business. Therefore we will see longer run titles, bigger and longer revenue swings (micro transactions, downloadable content, etc) and possibly lower costs as the production and distribution of the titles could be cut exponentially as it will be completely delivered digitally. Pretty interesting transformation of the business.
Digital downloads spell end for videogame stores?
* By John Gaudiosi – Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:38AM EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -
Will digital downloads kill the videogames store? That’s the multibillion dollar question facing retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp to GameStop Corp, as Internet distributors continue to grow.
Retailers like Target splashed out on large booths at last week’s E3 Expo in Los Angeles, showcasing games like Activision’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”
But gamers — especially on personal computers — are increasingly turning to alternative methods to play and buy games, such as downloading or “streaming” online games, rather than trekking to a store.
Take industry veteran Dave Perry, whose Gaikai online system lets PC gamers buy and stream games through their Web browsers without needing to download any content.
“Our solution is not to dive into a fight with Sony (Corp), Microsoft (Corp), Nintendo Co Ltd, as it wouldn’t gain any ‘new audience’ for publishers,” Perry said. “Instead, our strategy is 100 percent focused on being an ally to publishers and first-party hardware makers, by delivering them audiences they don’t reach today.”
Digital downloads are still a small, but fast-growing business. According to the NPD group, 17 percent of games sold in 2008 by PC gamers were digitally downloaded. Microsoft and Sony are trying to convert console gamers who have become accustomed to consuming music and movies digitally via services like Netflix and Apple Inc’s iTunes.
For the past few weeks the PR people at Twitter have been on a tear. First the CNN vs apulsk, then Oprah, I even saw Miss America candidates were plugging Twitter, tweeting between competitions. Yet at the same time mass media is getting wind of this 140 character phenomenon, the Ad industry has been battling it out amongst each other in a popularity contest that would even make Mean Girls look like High School Musical.
As an agency holding company exec I am lucky enough to have a 30,000-foot view on our industry, the function and future of our businesses and its intersection with media and new and emerging technology companies. And if you havenâ€™t realized it by now Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, blogs and almost all social media has tapped into a cultural phenomenon, which is the cult of celebrity, and its impacting our business in a significant way.
Therefore I started to wonder specifically around Twitter, is there a correlation between followers of an agency exec or anyone within the organization and its agency revenues? Does having a twitter guru result in more business or are agency executives using the medium as a marketing platform for themselves tapping into this micro celebrity opportunity to seek out greener pastures, speaking engagements and greater income? In the essence of confidentiality, I am not going to mention names, but in the past few months, I have seen people offering gifts for followers; new opportunities found by the amplification of their voice; I have even watched some in our industry loose their jobs because they became too focused on the medium as a channel to share their personal thoughts (including those on their employers, and even details on new business pitch strategies) that they forgot that itâ€™s a public medium and the world is listening.
The reality is that in the advertising industry there are clients and there are agencies, and together we solve marketing problems. Clients hire agencies for their expertise, be it creative, strategy, digital production, media, or even social media, but an ad agency isnâ€™t a single individual, itâ€™s a collection of the best and brightest people together as a team. The top agencies are evidence of this. CP+B is Cripsin, Porter and Bogusky lead by Alex, Chuck, Jeff Hicks, Jeff Steinhauer, Jeff B, Rob, Andrew, Winston and many others, AKQA is Tom Bedecarre, Ajaz Ahmed, Jim Rossman, and many others, the same can be said for Tribal DDB, Ogilvy, and many others.
You see if you follow any of the people I mentioned, it is with almost 100 percent certainty that they will mention their company in a decent percentage of their tweets. In fact, a recent twitter from @tombed was â€œattending AKQA seminar at #ad:tech – terrific Coca-Cola SEM case studyâ€ Many of these people even talk about clients, recommending that people follow them and engage them in the environment to get them thinking about the channel (and ideally hiring their promoter/agency for more social media work).
But its when the cult of celebrity gets in the way, that you stumble into some murky waters as to whoâ€™s best interest is in mind. You create a culture of me vs. a culture of us, and this can dramatically impact your business. So how do you manage social media within your organization while promoting free speech and innovation yet still instill a sense of us in a channel that rewards the individual? Do you create policies that say what one can and canâ€™t say? Do you have to have everything approved by someone prior to posting? How can you justify time spent vs. clientâ€™s hourly rate? And how do you know if your employees are just using it to build credibility to jump ship as the social media guru of your biggest competitor? Do we create chief community officers responsible for the conversations? Do we monitor what everyone says? So many questions, so many concerns.
You see social media is a very valuable toolset in marketing, and twitter is one of the many arrows in our quiver. But while it is a great marketing platform for our client and even ourselves, it is also an open forum where we can share our voice, but that voice is no longer just our own, it is also the company we work for. Therefore we must all be the chief community officers for our businesses, no matter what our role is within the organization, we must all monitor what we say, and we must remember that those we work for and those we work with stand to win and loose by what is typed with those 140 characters.
So what does the future hold for our industry as it relates to the cult of celebrity? I think itâ€™s a broader question that is the core of what is social media â€“ you are only as good as what you contribute you are as good as the company you keep, and lets not forget how easy it is for us to figure out the company you keep. We work in an industry that requires a lot of really smart people to come together to solve serious problems, and it is only when the best of many minds come together with the same interest at hand is great work created.
There is no â€œIâ€ in â€œteamâ€, â€œagencyâ€, or â€œgreat workâ€, and there sure isnâ€™t one in â€œpopularâ€.
Al Gore Puts Agency Creatives on Notice
Former VP says services may soon no longer be required
June 3, 2009
-By Mike Shields, Mediaweek
NEW YORK Ad agency creative executives beware: if Al Gore is right, your services might not be needed much longer.
The former U.S. vice president and co-founder of the cable network Current TV in delivering the keynote address at Digitas’ Digital Content NewFront event in New York today spoke about what he perceives as a rapidly changing advertising and media landscape. Gore predicted that traditional ad models were set to radically change, and as evidence he presented a series of VCAM (Viewer Created Ad Messages) ads, i.e., 30-second spots created by Current TV viewers.
As part of its VCAM program, Current provides viewers with creative briefs and a set of assets (such as logos and taglines) for participating advertisers, which have included HP and T-Mobile. Gore said viewers now produce more than half of Current’s ads, and that those ads are most preferred by the network’s audience by a ratio of 9-to-1, according to the net’s research. “We’ve had zero negative results,” said Gore. “And viewers are much more interested.”
Gore believes these sorts of ads have major implications for the advertising creative process going forward. He described the end of the industrial-revolution-like era of advertising, which produced ads that are “big, blunt expensive and very intrusive. . . . Audiences have begun to resist that old model.”
Going forward, advertising needs to become more nuanced, authentic and peer-to-peer, said Gore. “People want a different kind of feeling toward brands to which they give their money.”
That means being more upfront about ad messaging, rather than attempting to squeeze marketing messages into content through branded entertainment, he said. According to Gore, one of the reasons that Current viewers like VCAM ads is that they are straightforward in their intent. “People are interested in what someone like them is going to do and they’re not going to have something slipped by them,” Gore said. With ads that have been disguised as entertainment, “there is some resistance to those models. . . . We believe that intelligent empowerment of the audience is the key.”
Audience empowerment means less power and control for agencies, particularly creative executives. For one thing, user-created ads are cheap. “Instead of spending $350,000 and up . . . that’s not the process here,” said Gore. For VCAMs, “advertiser pays a nominal sum. As little as a thousand dollars.”
So what do traditional ad agencies do? Perhaps change their core expertise, from serving as creative drivers to brokers and brand shepherds. “The role of agencies is changing,” said Gore. “The Internet . . . is disintermediating long-established functions. Some agencies fight against this trend and are still successful. I’m not sure how long that will be sustainable.”
Sustainability was a key theme during Gore’s speech, as he drew a parallel between the ad business and the needs of the environment — long one of his most passionate causes. Yet Gore was somewhat thrown by a bizarre environment-related question posed by an audience member at the close of his address. “Do you believe that the extraterrestrial technology that documents indicate has been discovered at the China Lake facility in California can indeed significantly reduce levels of CO2 as to halt global warming by 2099?” asked the NewFront attendee.
After having the man explain to him that “extraterrestrial” meant UFO, Gore responded, “I personally do not. I don’t.”
Related: “Suddenly Social, the Agency RFP”
E3 2009: Microsoft unleashes Project Natal motion camera for Xbox 360
01 JUN 2009
Project Natal â€“ about to give the Xbox 360 the edge on the Wii
Microsoft’s surprised no one here at E3, unveiling their new 3D motion camera come controller for the Xbox 360, dubbed Project Natal. Pronounced “nuhâ€“tall” (nah us, neither), the Big M says it’s “the next step in interactive entertainment.”
Rather than using an actual controller, the 3D camera tracks your body movements, so you can throw a punch, kick a ball without having anything in your hand. Take that Nintendo.
Microsoft says it’ll even pack face detection, and voice recognition too, which looked stunning when shown off at their E3 press conference. The camera will see who you are and even sign you in automatically. It’s set to work across every Xbox 360, so you won’t need to be packing an Elite to join the party.
As well as controlling games, you’ll also be able to flick through movies and TV shows on Xbox Live.