Is the Future of Advertising Public Relations?

I know, it’s a strong statement, right?

I’ve always been a firm believer that it takes more than just one discipline to move a product, get your message across, create interest, ring the cash register, or more importantly, engage your audience. As things continue to evolve, smart marketers are looking at newer, more exciting and engaging ways to reach their audiences that will offer the best possible return on investment, right? There it is again. That “E” word: engage.
I stumbled upon an interesting blog entry the other day from Social Media Explorer, and also borrowed the title. It’s loaded with some pretty good stuff and certainly gets you thinking. The entry is about how bloggers are a great medium for product launches and obtaining exposure. It later touches upon the ways brands reach out to bloggers- be it a little pay for play, a.k.a. advertising, or traditional editorial coverage, better known as public relations. The article touches upon some very important points:

1. Why advertising dollars are not being spent on blogs, but public relations initiatives are. Remember, bloggers can be very influential because their audience tends to be very focused and defined. That, however, hurts them for getting advertisers. See point two below…

2. Bloggers often complain that they get the PR pitch, but can’t get them to spend money to advertise on their blog. Why? Well, for starters, bloggers can help put themselves in contention for advertising dollars by quantifying their audience numbers, including traffic, demographics, reach, etc.

Interesting, right?

As a result, some creativity and a little ingenuity has been born: the sponsored post. Is it wrong? You decide. But what’s important to learn from this is that when it comes to the future of social media, it’s about communicating and engaging your audience. It’s not about one-way messaging or simply blanketing the world with a marketing gimmick on Facebook, Twitter and the like. That’s just obnoxious and people will see right through it. It’s about engaging, communicating, being informative and connecting with your audience — aka Facebook friends, Twitter “tweets” and so on. As the Social Media Explorer blog entry says:

“…whatever the future of advertising is, it will be centered on content and engagement which is what good public relations has been doing for years.

I couldn’t agree more! Some food for thought. What do you think?

Supa Dupa! The Superbowl Ads

So here we are. Maybe a little tired, a little overstuffed and (dare I say it?) possibly hungover from all the Super Bowl festivities. Sports wise, I thought it was an absolute thriller that came down to the last minute. Not to mention, the historical aspect- a new franchise team vs. one of NFL’s dominating teams with six Super Bowl titles. Wow!

What I truly love about the Super Bowl are the ads. Sure, I work in the industry and have a bit of a passion for it, but who doesn’t look forward to them? The Super Bowl is probably the one sporting event you don’t run to the bathroom during the commercials. They’re usually that good and you don’t want to miss them.

Here are my personal favorites…

This year, the top spot belongs to the Career Builder ad this year. As in the past, they stick with humor and incorporate plenty of it with this spot. The spot has a lot of repetition that’s great for two reasons. Firstly, it makes you remember their message and two, it may make you feel that your job (like the commercial) is just the same thing over and over again and it’s time to get out. I laughed myself into hysterics during this one. Bravo!!

The Cinderella story this year has to be Doritos. The brand created a contest, Crash the Super Bowl, that allowed amateurs to submit their commercials for consideration. The grand prize? $1,000,000 if you won the USA Today Ad-O-Meter top spot. Guess what? It did! I love it when a brand turns it’s marketing efforts over to the public. The end result? Two unemployed brothers from Indiana won the contest by creating a Super Bowl-worthy spot that was edgy and had the right amount of humor thrown in. Well done, but here’s the real question. Will we see more brands turning things over to their “ambassadors” and the general public instead of their creative departments? Food for thought, but no need to panic… yet. I’m sure they had lots of help casting, editing and shooting the spot from Doritos agency who probably created and managed the contest. Kudos to them.

GoDaddy.com seems to be all about women and sexual content. I’m not sure what the connection between internet domain registration and management is to sexy women, but maybe that’s just it. There is no connection and the absurd ads they produce just help us remember the brand name, Go Daddy. That might be the point, right? This year, the two Go Daddy ads all have cliff hangers at the end that say “To Be Continued at GoDaddy.com…” If you ask me, this is a nice drive-to-site component where the spots are a little more racy and entertaining. The end result? Who knows, but I’m sure they experienced an increase in web visits.

So what else?

I thought the Monster.com ad was a home run. Not only was it funny, but it clearly delivered the brand’s message of time for a change. Seems like both Career Builder and Monster were spot on by targeting people who already have jobs and may be unhappy, rather than targeting people who don’t work at all. The moose head in the successful person’s office that was connected to the back-end of the moose in the guy’s office who was unhappy was just perfect.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are embracing themes of togetherness and happiness that didn’t do much for me. Same applies for Budweiser’s Clydesdale series- nothing super exciting. I did like the introduction of the word “Drinkability” during one of the Bud Light spots. Will it enter pop culture like their “Wazzup” campaign? Not sure, but it’s worth a shot.

The final spot worth mentioning was Castrol oil. Again, more humor with a bunch of “grease monkeys” showing up to work on the car and they make the owner king. I suppose the message here is that if you use Castrol, no need to worry. You’ve got a brand with an army of expert mechanics behind it, so no worries. Not to mention the monkeys. Any ad that uses monkeys is just funny.

Want to see all of the ads and how they resonated with people? Check out USA Today’s feature on all of the ads. Overall I thought the spots were entertaining and most were on point with brand messaging. Go ahead, enjoy the show. Just be sure to close your office door and keep the volume down. You’re supposed to be working, not watching online TV… again! 🙂

What’s the Matter? Don’t You Trust Me?

Being the TV junkie that I am, I look forward to a night on the couch glued to the tube. I watched the news, did lots of flipping, and then I remembered the premiere of TNT’s new show all about the glitz and glamor of the advertising industry,”Trust Me“. If you ask me, I think it’s got potential. The cast isn’t too shabby either, with Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame as well as Tom Cavanagh from Ed. Throw in the producers from Nip/Tuck and The Closer and you’ve got yourself a show.

The Chicago-based agency Rothman, Greene & Mohr is fictitious, but they include real name agencies in the show, such as DDB and Leo Burnett. Interesting factoid regarding product placement. Unilever, a major sponsor of the show, plan to have Dove hair care products all throughout the series.

Ahhh, the big city (or not-so-big-city) advertising agency life. Late nights working on campaigns, client pitches, internal politics, and maniacal creative directors to boot. If you watched it last night, then I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who can relate and know exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂 I’ve been here at Mason for just about 7 years now and we’re a full service agency that does it all – advertising, public relations, interactive, social media, you name it. Although I work in the public relations group, I easily related to lots of things going on in the show last night.

So as a PR guy, I found the title of the new show interesting and am probably over thinking it. “Trust Me”. Does it imply that we, as consumers, should just trust the ads, billboards, radio spots, and web banners, no matter what they say? I’m curious to see if the public relations profession will make an appearance in the series as the show develops. Food for thought. It’s a show that makes you think about where we get these tag lines and jingles, but more importantly, it’s a show that does a great job of entertaining you. Check it out if you can. Approved.