Archive for the Projects Category

Blog back in 5

Posted in Projects on September 25, 2009 by re: turn on

The blog has been as quiet as a Lithuanian lithographer. Normal noisiness will resume when we return from Argentina in early October.


UGC Campaigns – Profits, Prizes and Pitfalls

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2009 by re: turn on

Like a Lothario at a bar re-using his best pick-up lines, digital strategists continually fall back on the social media marketing campaign inviting consumer contributions as a YouTube video. In the past 6 months we’ve seen two massive Australian based UGC marketing campaigns; Doritos ‘You make it, we play it’ invitation for UGC commercials and Queensland Tourism’s ‘Best Job in the World’.

B&T reported backlash against the Doritos competition by applicants unable to submit their entries. The disgruntled vented upon their YouTube channel DoritosYouMakeIt, commenting like it was Britney Spears’ latest muffin top poppin escapade. The Gruen Transfer online forum was similarly inundated.

Community Girl questioned whether Doritos could have handled the situation better. I’m a firm believer in prevention over the cure. Like JetStar’s 5c sale-fail, you cannot cultivate demand and then fail to meet it. Its like prick-teasing, except in this case the virgin’s parents fitted her with a chastity belt. Doritos is bearing the brunt of their digital producers’ failure to meet demand. But the uproar does subtly indicate that the competition was wildly popular and increases Doritos’ exposure. Certainly can’t see it being any more harmful to a corn chip than the mono sodium glutamate its dusted with.

As a filmmaker, I’m naturally skeptical of these UGC campaigns taking advantage of upstarts desperate for a break. But I also love seeing unseen talent uncovered and nurtured. Its a mutually beneficial symbiosis, companies build a community and get content for next to nothing, users get the chance to showcase their skills.

We produced a short pilot that made it to the finals for Comedy Gold, Austar’s The Comedy Channel. As one of five finalists, we were invited to pitch our comedy series at the Screen Producer’s Association of Australia (SPAA) annual conference, paneled by Austar execs and HG Nelson. We didn’t win, but it was a helluva party, the contacts I made in 10 crazy hours alone were worth it.

I recently caught up with Darren Chau, Group Programming Manager for the Comedy Channel, to ask him what their objectives were for Comedy Gold. While most UGC campaigns are community building marketing exercises, Comedy Gold primarily aims to add new talent to The Comedy Channel’s stable. They have the option to produce the winner’s pitch and pilot into a series, although after two years of Comedy Gold, they’ve yet to produce a winning comedy. However, this is indicative of the mind-bendingly arduous development process more than their commitment to the winner’s series treatment.

Comedy Gold doesn’t attempt to build an online community or overtly market Austar or the channel. Twelve semi-finalists are picked out of the submissions by the judges, which are then available for users to view on the website. Votes determine the five finalists invited to pitch in front of an audience of producers at SPAA. You cannot comment on the videos or even see how many votes each has. It would seem obvious to use this competition as a marketing opportunity for Austar, but Darren told me that might taint the primary objective of Comedy Gold, to find untapped talent.

Does anyone think this is a noble idea or an idealistically short-sighted missed marketing opportunity? Sometimes underwhelming with a brand is the best branding exercise. Can anyone suggest how Comedy Gold could improve the competition and online component?

Streetview visual cue

Posted in InPossible, Projects on April 12, 2009 by re: turn on

Google Street View is already proving itself useful as a visual cue for more than just real estate websites and map-illiterates who need a picture of where they’re going to find it. Russell Davies points out that the Street View of the neighborhood he grew up in conjured more than just childhood memories, but a desire he calls “Collective Remembering” to share those memories with others connected to the neighborhood.

He also shared what I think must be the first exercise in Street View social networking. STREET WITH A VIEW was instigated by artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley in May 2008. They staged a series of shenanigans involving residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside and invited the Google Inc. Street View team to capture it. I’ll let you discover what they got up to for yourself, half the fun is finding as many weird goings-on as you can, then check the above link to see how many you found. (Hint – look high)

Such a delightfully interactive goof, while exploring Sampsonia Street it occurred to me that staging a Google Street View shoot would make a fantastic branding exercise. McDonalds could stage some sort of drama between its mascots outside a popular outlet, like Hamburglar holding Grimace hostage with only Ronald McDonald able to save him.

McDonalds could turn this into an interactive game, with kids invited to solve a mystery or find a missing object. “Collective Remembering” could enhance a brand and its recognition.

Inviting Google to do a Street View shoot is a potential complication, if it were for marketing purposes they might be reluctant or want a piece of the pie. The word “monetization” is thrown around a lot these days…

However, they may be amenable to a more altruistic or communal exercise. Local festivals could arrange the invitation to coincide with a street party or parade. Tourism boards could stage hilarious or enticing Street Views to encourage visitors. I might be persuaded to holiday in Alaska if I saw the streets were lined with bikini models.