Tag Archives: google

Twitter not a huge money maker shock!

Just learned, via twitter ironically (Hugh McLeod specifically),  that twitter isn’t making money.  Neither is Digg or Facebook.  And i think I know why.  Well I’m going to hazard a not too-deeply-researched guess why.  I’m an advertising creative, research is, like, a pain dude.

As long as the Internet (the “i” is capitalized you know) has been around and thriving, the cry of the overfunded startup has been ‘Oh, relax, the money will eventually come from advertising!”.  Really?   And what form will this advertising take?   Google ads or something.   Banner ads!  Yeah.  That’s it.

If only these would-be vendors of advertising had bothered to ask adfolks like us what we thought about the advertising opportunities they proposed to sell to – presumably – adfolks like us.  Because if they did, they might realize that what they’re selling just isn’t that exciting.   Sotto voce text whispers do not an exciting experience make.  And advertising, to be successful, has to get people excited in some manner.  It has to be motivating. It has to be exciting.

I’m not qualified to get into the mathematics of online advertising.  But I really think that the online advertising game has been won.  And Google won it.  If i want to reach (note i say “reach” not “excite”) people i’m giving Google a call.

There will doubtless be great uses of Facebook (whopper sacrifice) and Twitter eventually i’m sure.  But to hear the chatter about these alleged hot advertising properties reminds me of this scenario.

You walk into the foyer of the a grand French hotel.  It looks beautiful.  you’re paying a fortune to stay there.  the manager greets you effusively.  “Welcome to the Hotel Royale!”   He then informs you that you will be sleeping on the window ledge on the fifth floor.   You are understandably underwhelmed. He is perplexed. Is this not the most beautiful hotel in all of France???

Sole prediction for 2009

michelinPredicting the future is a mug’s game. Nobody predicted Google, or youtube. they may have felt the need for the service they provide but nobody saw them coming.

interesting tale: we at the escape pod once had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Google’s first salesman, david scacco. he was the guy whose job it was to visit ad agencies back in 1998 and sell advertising agencies on the merits of using google. in 1998! can you imagine a tougher sell? He showed us his foamcore backed presentation boards that he used to use in his original presentation. surely they’re in the google museum by now. they were very funny. stuff like “over 125,000 daily users!” and “search over 2 million web pages!”.

even if he’d presented Google, the idea of google, to me back in 1998, i’m pretty sure i would not have recognized its future potential. so no future predictions from The Escape Pod.

OK, just one. It’s this. 2009 will mark a return to the basics of advertising in a big way. and i don’t just mean in a there’s-a-recession-we-have-to-sell-stuff way. I mean a refocusing on what advertising is supposed to do as opposed to “ooh look there’s a new digital thingy let’s obsess about that for ages”. we see a return to big ideas. big ideas that can effortlessly be incarnated in any medium or platform or whatever. big ideas have, and always had, power. they are infectious and usually elemental. they have intrinsic value. they are WORTH something.   they can make  a brand.  my first boss was the guy who came up with the big ideas that made Perdue Chicken (the best)  Volvo (well engineered safety)  and Maxell Tapes (worth it) what they were.  his ideas (and the ideas of his clients) created a magic.  he defined brands.  he said  he “helped brands realize their destinies”.  which i always thought was as neat a definition of advertising as i’ve ever heard.

i recently had to buy tires for my minivan and one image kept swirling around in head. the baby sitting on the Michelin tire with the line “Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires”. That’s what i mean by a big idea. have they even run that ad in the past ten years?  didn’t matter.  there it was, still haunting my consciousness.  still being the decisive factor in the purchase process of a product that everybody feels is important but nobody really has a clue about.

i think at this point we have all digested the idea of the internet and had enough experience of it that we’re not in its thrall anymore. we get it. it has its uses. but it’s not the only tool available to us. so let’s apply big ideas to to it.

have we entered the “post-internet” age?

[update:  is it just me or does the baby in the michelin ad look like an irish-american tavern owner?]

The Internet: great for advertising Irish bagpipes!


There seems to be an assumption among many in the ad community that somehow all the money currently being spent on TV ads will somehow effortlessly migrate to “online” eventually. And that our industry will just all morph into Crispins, Porters, and Boguskies eventually. But why should that be?

it’s forgetting that the business of creating advertising ideas exists as a by-product of something much more important: gathering a mass audience. Nobody wants to spend millions of dollars on TV advertising. Never did. They did so because the opportunity to talk to a huge chunk of the population at one time was simply irresistible to mass marketers. How could they not do it?

The internet is a completely different proposition. Unlike all previous mass media it does not have a symbiotic relationship with advertising.

But increasingly it does allow mass marketers to access a mass audience. Thank you Google. And that’s something mass marketers need. But think about the real estate the internet offers you.

You want to be front and center? Sorry. You’ve been moved to the periphery. Something that’s seen out of the corner of the eye. Maybe. You want the ability to tell your story? Hmmm…That’s going to be tough. A lot tougher than it used to be on TV. It’s still doable. But it requires A LOT more effort than it did in the past.

The internet was a boon for the sole trader. The guy who handcrafts Irish bagpipes. For him it’s been a great leveller. For mass marketers too it has been a great leveller. Only, that’s the last thing they wanted or needed. I remember ten years ago hearing the horror film director George A. Romero compare the internet to the $2 betting window at the horse racing track. He was right. That’s what it is.

So what’s the answer? There isn’t an answer anymore. There are lots of answers. Things have gotten immeasurably complicated. Deal with it. But don’t delude yourself that there’s an easy answer. Or that somehow, someone will figure it all out for you. They won’t. We all have to put on our thinking caps, unfortunately.

It makes us laugh here at The Escape Pod when we hear people, especially purported new media gurus, crowing about how the internet is the best thing to happen to advertising.

Yeah, if you’re advertising Irish bagpipes it is.

We did a TV show

Actually we did two TV shows. It was called “Schooled”. We created it with client OfficeMax for the back to school season. The thinking was: back to school is as big as Christmas in kids’ lives but there’s no explicit back to school programming. So…let’s do a TV show! Easier said than done.

The Escape Pod’s wunderkind managing director, Norm Bilow, somehow made it happen. That entailed dealing with networks, record labels, google, youtube…me.

The idea was a good one. Prank a whole school into thinking that if they don’t do X, very bad Y will happen to them. And then pay the whole thing off with a private concert, just for those kids, by a major rock star in their school gym. That necessitated getting the agreement of a high school and the parents of all the kids and, most crucially, it entailed all concerned keeping their mouths shut so none of the kids have any clue. otherwise our show is busted and all our production money effectively goes down the drain. in front of our eyes.

the good thing is this only really hit me when it much too late to do anything other than bite into my sleeve in agony and silently scream Ari Gold style.

rather than bore you with the executional details you can simply watch the bite-sized version below. It’s a good laugh. Basically it was PUNK’D set in a high school. and we knew it. hence the name. but remember, hidden camera wasn’t invented by Ashton Kutcher. Or Dom Joly. it was invented by Allen Funt. 50 years ago. it’s a technique not an idea.

Now, if you’ve never done a TV show before, you’re probably thinking “I could have done that!”. And you very well might. But one thing that we only discovered by actually doing it twice is that doing a TV show punifies any TV commercial ever done in terms of sheer scale and audacity and complexity. And we here at the escape pod have done some ambitious things in our time but this was different. Very, very different.

A commercial lasts 30 seconds. A TV show lasts 50 minutes. Or 3000 seconds.

In commercials you control everything. here we controlled maybe 20% of things.

In commercials you overshoot. here we shot what we could in the time.

In commercials you know what you’ll end up with. here we had absolutely no idea.

In commercials you edit for a week with one editor. and that’s a leisurely pace. We edited round the clock for three weeks plus using five editors. Racing all the way.

In commercials you have to get the approval of the the network to run your spot. here we were expected to perform well in the ratings. the weight of the network itself was on our shoulders.

In commercials you get your commercial sandwiched between programming. we actually had commercials for sandwiches sandwiched between our programming.

There’s a 15 minute just-for-youtube version here. Check it out. The prank really worked out well. The kids totally bought it So it’s real good viewin’…

PS: the principal Eric Sheninger has since gone on to have another reality show. Not surprised. He was great. Thanks Eric! I mean, Mr. Sheninger!

YouTube made a YouTube video about us and put it on YouTube because we made YouTube videos that were a big hit on YouTube. You can watch it now. It’s on YouTube.

You can read more about it here on the YouTube blog. Thanks Holly and all our friends at Google-Tube Chicago!

If you have any questions about the machinations of this campaign, please contact NormBilow or MattJohnson AT THE ESCAPE POD AGENCY DOT COM.

Where is Google headed?

Google just released a new browser. Chrome, it’s called. We’re sure it is an improvement on all previous browsers. That’s kind of what Google does: make things noticeably better than they were before. Chrome attained one per cent of the browser market the first day it was introduced.

And the Android phone, also from Google, is coming. The iPhone will finally have some competition. Trust me on this one.

It’s almost like they have an unassailable competitive edge now. or edges. Their success in search alone is almost monopolistic. So they have the confidence to seemingly take on everyone and everything. and attempt the impossible. and succeed.

Cuil’s feeble challenge search engine seems completely quixotic now, doesn’t it. It was the Sinclair C5* of its day by comparison. Not cool.

*The Sinclair C5 (pictured above) was an electric, um, vehicle. It was the brainchild of Sir Clive Sinclair, an early PC innovator. Its debut in the mid-80s in the UK was much-anticipated and was the subject of lots of hoopla and media scrutiny. Then people finally saw the Sinclair C5. And they just laughed. And laughed. And then laughed some more.

the internet. it’s not ad supported you know.

one of the biggest mistakes ad agencies make when creating online thingies is that they treat the internet like it’s dependent on advertising for its existence.   like all the other media we deal with.  TV, magazines, etc.

 and it’s not. it doesn’t need us at all.  sure the medium itself has been exploited for advertising purposes (google) but that doesn’t mean they need us.  the most effective ad model is barely-there text ads that might actually be relevant to the reader.  sotto voce text ads are just a faint whisper in traditional advertising terms.  they are an acknowledgment that advertising DOESN’T REALLY BELONG there.  and that’s what really works on the web.  based on the success of google that is.

contrast that then with the traditional media posture:  shouting at people because we know we pretty much have their attention because we paid for it.  those were the days!

so i’m always a bit mystified when i hear advertising people crowing about how the internet is the best thing that ever happened to advertising.  Perhaps it’s the adman’s innate optimism, but the internet is very clearly isn’t the best thing to happen to advertising. they forget that we have existed purely to take advantage of an audience that is handed to us on a plate by the media owners.  and are therefore ill-equipped to suddenly start earning our audience.  that muscle is not well-developed.  and couldn’t be.

 (full disclosure:  advertising earning its audience is one of the escape pod’s pet obsessions. so excuse me if i somehow wrap up every post with it ;-)