Friday, November 11, 2011

The Manchurian Candidate

I received a phone call yesterday morning and the caller was very frustrated. No, it was not my wife, it was one of my business partners exclaiming that she could not believe what she just read. Here is the headline to what she was referring, GM's in a Korean State of Mind But can it give Cheil the win on Chevy's creative? Basically if you read the piece it states that Cheil, a Korean advertising agency, is one of the finalists for the American icon's creative agency account. The article, penned by Noreen O'Leary, seems to me to be a pretty objective and fact-based piece. Noreen continues on explaining why it might and might not make sense for Chevrolet to select Cheil Worldwide for this desirable task. By the way I went to Cheil's web site (linked to in this piece) and it was not a pleasant experience.

 Needless to say, my partner's amazement that Chevrolet would consider, even just as a finalist, any non-stateside shop as the creative lead for the brand disappointed her, to put it mildly. And why wouldn't it? Let's look at the Chevrolet campaign that is eating up our airwaves as I write this.

"Runs Deep" has been plastered all over television, billboards, the web and in print for a decent part of 2011 and as possibly best evidenced in this spot , is really tugging on our collective Americana heart strings. This campaign is effectively saying, "Hey, we have grown up with this country, with your family, with YOU. We are still here making great American products that will evoke the same emotions, in you, that this guy is experiencing as he cries about his old Impala SS." They are really pouring it on, and I will admit, when I first saw this spot air, I thought it was well done. Understanding the current Chevrolet brand statement and upon reading this AdWeek article, Lee Clow has got to be shitting himself right about now. 

Accomplished brand agencies who understand the value of true brand advertising and marketing will read this article and NOT react to the obvious hypocrisy of a US tax payer funded bailout recipient opting for a foreign service provider when there are plenty of good, qualified AND unemployed advertising folks roaming the streets looking for a place to practice their craft. They will, however, react to how Chevy, even by simply naming a non-US agency as a finalist, is contradicting the very foundation of the biggest campaign it has run in the last several years. What does this say to their current US employees, their non-marketing executives and most importantly, like my business partner, their US customers? Her reaction to me was one of betrayal. She expressed to me, "How could they even consider a non-US agency after the events of the last couple of years!?" I am a free market guy and I get Noreen's consideration of a Korean agency for a growing Korean market. Makes total sense. To have a non-US agency, lead the entire Chevy brand, a brand staking its comeback on a heavy emotional connection with its Americana roots and American customer base, to me, makes no sense. It is a total contradiction to itself. Lee Clow iterated in the documentary Art & Copy, and I am paraphrasing, but he essentially said the best way to sell a brand, and see the brand succeed, is by expressing the one simple truth about that brand, to the consuming public, in a way they understand. The next step is to ensure the brand lives up to and delivers on that truth.

 So Chevy, is this consideration of Cheil how you are "Running Deep?"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Basement's Todd Bolster Presenting at MBO

I just wanted to give you a head's up that our own Todd Bolster will be presenting at the MBO Conference on October 11th. Check out Masters of Business Online - Speakers to get the full rundown.

A little about Todd...
"Todd Bolster is currently a Business Development Manager at The Basement Design + Motion, a digital studio in Indianapolis specializing in the concept, design, and production of contemporary interactive media, games, motion graphics, and animations. His clients include some of the largest ad agencies and non-profits in the world. At The Basement, he co-founded that^me, a series of educational animations teaching life skills to college students.

Todd serves on the board of the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, Butler University Career Services, and the Intercollegiate YMCA."

Hopefully you can make it and say hi to Todd if you get the chance.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Basement Design + Motion is Hiring

Due to increased client demand, The Basement Design + Motion is looking to fill two full-time positions.

The first position is for a digital designer. Experience designing for the web and mobile is required. Online display advertising design experience a plus, but not required. Motion design is a plus, but not required. 1 - 3 years experience preferred. Send a link to your portfolio for review if you have interest to jacob{at}

The second position is for a interactive developer. 1 - 2 years experience preferred developing AS3. Less experience is okay if you can exhibit solid fundamental object oriented development skills. This is an excellent learning opportunity for the right candidate. Please send your online portfolio to jacob{at}

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Social Failures, Integration is Key and MasterCard

I just finished reading a good piece by Jonathan Salem Baskin on AdAge CMO Strategy.

Jonathan makes several great points about how many prominent and noted social media campaigns have garnered eyeballs but not pushed the needle on sales for their respective products or brands. Specifically, Jonathan mentions some common social media concepts or retorts as to why the social campaign did not increase sales for, as an example, consumer goods purchased at a counter, and not online, such as fast food and soda pop. I agree with Jonathan and building on specific points made in his article, I see the inability of the fly-by-night "social media experts" who have no real experience in disciplines like customer service, marketing or even consumer oriented operational process, being the cause for them to fall by the wayside in the next 12 months. No results in the revenue column typically means no more job, whether employed full-time or on contract a la Mr. Baskin.

I will never forget an experience I had when marketing for my old employer, a very large fast feeder. I was working on strategy to not only increase customer counts, but to do it in a way that gave cause for my local market customers to rave about things like our fresh food, superb service, family oriented experience and cleanliness, so in affect they would come back again and go out into their communities and spread the word (this was called word of mouth - you know, viral media before the term "viral" existed beyond describing a cold or flu). My boss told me not to execute any traffic generating activities until the operational procedures at my stores were excellent. Period. The point? Don't drive large amounts of customers to something that will prove out to be a bad experience. The short term gain in sales will turn into a long term loss for the brand and my stores. That sage advice was dually noted, I followed her direction, and consequently we had not just a short term gain, but long term positive gains across our entire local system, to the point where our local group of stores lead the entire national system in sales increases. Awards and bonuses were soon to follow. Score one for the good guys.

This has direct correlation to Jonathan's article. Another example - specifically a social media campaign I worked on (with our agency client) that garnered large sales increases for the end client. The client was yet again another national restaurant chain. They wanted to experiment in Facebook to see if/how they could get positive word of mouth AND increase sales, not just give away free product. Summary - very targeted and strategic media buy in Facebook, very well thought out coupon strategy distributed via Facebook and it was a long term solution, not a one time gimmick. A lot of detailed thought went into the coupon offers, how frequently they would be released, the redemption time frame, and how the stores would deal with the potential wave of customers redeeming the offers. Unfortunately, I feel like integration opportunity was lost ion this campaign, even though it was pitched to the client, they decided against updating or even optimizing their old brand web site for this big initiative. That was a missed opportunity in this guy's opinion. Results? Going from 3,000 likes on Facebook to 400,000+ in about 30 days. So what? Sales matter right? They experienced some of the largest sales increases in a decade and this campaign sustained over months. Could this have done even better with more integration through more online, in-store and traditional media channels? Of course, but the client, and more importantly their customers, were very pleased.

Last example - and I did not work on this one. I had the TV on the other night, ABC, prime time. I saw a commercial during one of the breaks for Mastercard. It was a spot for entrepreneurs/small business owners. That is me! I am their audience. It was a great piece of storytelling. The spot was well-written, I related to their pitch, and they left me with a call to action to go to their web site to learn more. I want to the web site to learn more!! Success right? Nope major fail. The site was horrible - no reference at all to what they were promoting on the TV spot. None! No consistent branding, no consistent messaging and the experience was completely different. I bounced off the site in 20 seconds. No integration at all. No new customer at all. Mastercard spent a lot of money on that TV spot, it was well done. They spent a lot on the media, major network in prime time on a highly rated show, and they lost me at the web site. No integration whatsoever, no positive experience whatsoever and no new customer whatsoever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Moving Back, Moving Forward

It is really pretty amazing to see how the media industry and communications technology has progressed, and in some cases regressed, over a few short years.

I was going through an old email file the other day and I stumbled across an old project that a friend and I started about six years ago. We established a wiki and we each contributed periodically with thoughts on all things digital as they related to marketing, advertising, social and corporate communications. We went back and forth for months and met over breakfast every other week to discuss our online volleys. It was fun and pretty productive to have focused sessions like that with someone who was as into the industry, if not more so, than myself.

Well, as I hit the link to revisit the Wiki, relatively untouched five years later, I was pretty entertained by the postings. It was very interesting to see how things had progressed in our industry, but really some things haven't. The tools, hardware, terminology, software, bandwidth and more has evolved seemingly decades in a few short years. What hasn't changed? Principals, foundational strategy, how to use digital channels in a strategic/successful way, how to understand your audience and how to be a benefit, not a nuisance. Offering value, not offering a slightly less palpable alternative to spam. Listening, not yelling. Basically good old fashioned marketing sense.

Bad marketing still is ineffective no matter what new technology you are "leveraging." Sorry had to work in that tired cliche. Good marketing principal and relevance to your "crowd" still works, no matter the technology you have at your disposal.

Yeah, the channels are more sophisticated, the ability to wow greater and the pinpointing is finer, but ultimately the best product or services win no matter the shiny marketing object du jour. The old rules still apply, deliver a relevant, quality and valued product and/or service and know how to deal with your customers. Technology can make that whole process more efficient and effective but only if you address the basics first.

I know this is not nearly as fun to read as the "Top 10 things that will kill Twitter" or "How you can become a social media rock star overnight." Medicine never tastes as good as candy but it heals you much quicker.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Basement Claims a Cincinnati Addy

The Basement Design + Motion was notified by our agency client this week that we were the recipients of a Gold Addy in the Cincinnati market competition. Thanks to our client and the Cincinnati Advertising Federation. Nice work Basement team.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Basement Wins Another Award

The Basement Design + Motion learned over the weekend that we won another Gold Louie for our work on the KFC Buckets for the Cure web site. Congratulations to all the staff at The Basement that put their hard work in to the project. A big thank you to our agency client Creative Alliance for selecting us to work on the project!!