Tag Archives: marketing

Kickstarter Nation

In the last few years, KickStarter has become a household name. It has become so large, that there are numerous websites with similar structures geared towards different types of projects. I myself have backed two Kickstarter and one Indiegogo campaign.

These crowd funding sites have opened up a new form of marketing, specifically to artistic individuals and start ups. It combines market research, funding, and sometimes prototyping. The best example of this new economic tool put to use is by my friend, Colin.

Colin is often known as the “crazy piano guy” who brings a baby grand piano to Washington Square Park (almost) every day and plays for hours. He’s utilized KickStarter a number of times, to help him buy a baby grand, and to help him get the money to finish various albums. One of his album campaigns did a great job of explaining an artist’s struggle: proving they have value.

In Colin’s campaign to raise money to finish mastering his concept album, he said “the thing that will really make the difference in deciding whether this project will be finished or not is having people show me that they want it. After all, in the end, there’s nothing better than knowing that people value what I do, because it makes them [smile].”

With KickStarter, products and services become reality when there are people who are already interested. This eliminates the risk of making something that no one actually wants (something I’m sure Coca Cola would have wanted to know when releasing New Coke).

How do you feel about crowd sourcing?

Tagged , , , , , ,

Build an Experience

Look at Yelp. Nine times out of ten, a bad review comes down to someone’s experience with a staff member. When building a brand, you’re shaping every experience that a user shares with your company.

Today I want to give the spotlight to one of my favorite stores in New York: Cure Thrift Shop.

P1000508Not only is it a great thrift store that donates all profits to diabetes research, but it has also managed to cultivate a certain ambiance that welcomes the culture of thrift shopping (not the Macklemore culture, but the thrill of a sweet vintage discovery).

Cure Thrift store hoursIn a recent blog post, Cure even designed a job posting that fits perfectly with the NYC style of Broadway casting calls (and how hard it is to get a job here!).

Cure Thrift Shop is my local brand crush.



Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

We need elbow room

As seen in the picture below, advertisable space has gotten a little crowded recently.

Overstimulating ads

So what did architects do when they started running out of land? They went in a new direction: up.

There are two main ways to “build up” and find new space for advertising that I’ll describe today.

1. Find new spaces to buy, like the food cart below:


This is the simplest form of “new media”. This requires no change in how you advertise, just where you put it. In the last two months that these food cart ads have popped up, the most interesting/eye-catching ads have been like the one above, not even selling a product. This form doesn’t make your ad more memorable, but it at least gives it some elbow room and allows it to be seen.

2. Use the space you already have:

NYC coffee shop "The Bean" draws in customers with it's flamboyancy

The space you already own – your store, kiosks, product packaging, etc. – is your best asset. This is how people see you anyways, so why not show people what you’re made of?

Pretty bar codes are pretty

For instance, why doesn’t everyone have a decorative barcode? They’re easy to make and are an innovative continuance of your brand.

This is what you see on the ceiling when you lay on a bed in IKEA

IKEA is one of my favorite brands when it comes to marketing. The above picture I took while trying out one of their mattresses. Each bed had a different statement pointing out a feature.

What are your favorite creative uses of space?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Spice up your copy!

Company: Seamless.com

Medium: public transit display

One of the unwritten rules of New York public transit is to avoid eye contact at all costs. For this reason, ad space is sometimes monopolized by one company for an entire subway car, forcing you to read every single ad. Often these are the exact same ad over and over, but some campaigns and brands are honestly a pleasure for me to read, and I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I look forward to reading the copy of seamless.com:

The thing that makes these ads so addicting (can you tell I’m a marketing nerd?) is that they are current, and appeal to their young audience perfectly. My generation strives to be authentic, and we like to publish our weird quirks, as is evident in our Twitter accounts filled with “just got out of the shower” and “tacos make me gassy”. Seamless takes this brutal honesty and spins it to suit their service.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Amnesty International: Too Graphic to be Effective?

Earlier today a friend asked me about my thoughts on a BuzzFeed post titled “The Most Powerful Ads Of Amnesty International“.

This post has a compilation of some of Amnesty International’s most compelling and graphic images, such as these two below:

These pictures are heartbreaking, and really illustrate what the brand is fighting for. But are they effective? To answer this, we need to look at a few factors:

Does it grab attention? Definitely. The pictures themselves are very clever, and subtle enough to make people  double-take the image and look at it closely to understand the message.

Does it educate? Sort of. While the message is made clear that torture and inequality is happening today and in America, it’s not exactly clear how prevalent this issue is, or who are the main perpetrators and victims of torture.

Is the call to action effective? No. The call to action in a for-profit is usually to buy the product or service. When nonprofits advertise, however, the call to action varies widely from asking for donations, signing a petition, volunteering, or other actions that fit the needs of the nonprofit’s campaign. In this case, Amnesty International has no call to action. It may be that this campaign was simply designed to educate but there is no push for viewers to learn more, and no resources (like a URL) for viewers to use to engage with the campaign.

Is it engaging? No. Though this factor may seem redundant to the call to action, it is very important. When there is a call to action, the ad needs to have a certain level of urgency, especially when dealing with a tragic and graphic issue like this one. If a campaign isn’t engaging enough, people will not care. But if it is grotesque, it can sometimes shock the viewer, and make them feel like the problem is too big for them to fix. It is important to make sure a campaign gives a certain amount of inspiration so that the audience feels the need to help, and believes that they can contribute to fighting the issue.

If you’re interested in this last factor, I highly encourage you to watch the clip below. This is from Gruen Transfer, an Australian talk show about advertising, and they are discussing a heavy topic of slavery in a commercial with Emma Thompson. The clip is at 19:00 (I’ll try to embed it later with it queued up at the correct time).

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Dollar Shave Club

It’s hard to determine what will become a viral video. Marketing firms try their hardest to create formulas and procedures to create them, but as soon as an equation seems to fit, a new viral video breaks all the rules.

Currently, it seems that the most shareable/popular videos are either made by quirky individuals or by gigantic companies with enough money to get the word out quickly. So it was a refreshing thing to see when a new company, Dollar Shave Club, became popular overnight.


The company has relied only on this video and Google Ads for marketing, and it’s done very well. Within 48 hours of being uploaded, the video attracted over 12,000 people to sign up for the service (entrepreneur.com). As of today the video has ranked over 10 million views.

This video has qualities from both corporate and homemade movies to bring it into the viral hall of fame. The CEO of the company, Michael Dubin follows a tight script similar to the comedy of Old Spice commercials. But for me personally, I find the small start-up feel of the commercial helps it appeal to viewers.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Apple’s 1984: Who’s Big Brother now?

In 1984, Apple released a commercial that changed the history of advertising.


Though this commercial was only aired during the Super Bowl, it caused ripple effects around the country, being shown incessantly on news shows that night. The commercial won many awards, including the 1984 Cannes Grand Prix and “Best Super Bowl Spot” in the entire game’s history.

This commercial didn’t dumb down its audience, but called them to action and actually think…at least, that’s what Apple was trying to say.

Fast forward to present day and Apple has taken over the market. Though Apple tries to maintain its legacy as the innovative brand, it is thought of by many as the Big Brother of computer and mobile companies. Samsung made that point clear in a 2012 commercial:


Though the ad above did not make as many headlines as Apple’s 1984 ad, it does raise a very good point. Apple can be innovative and new, but it can no longer be the “rebel” brand. Sorry Apple, but the iPhone is the mainstream “must-have”  product for everyone in America over the age of 13. So much for being unique.

With this change in market share came an unfortunate change in Apple’s marketing strategy. Apple’s innovations have decreased in magnitude with every new product (Really, iPad Mini?). Not only that, but the commercials themselves have taken on a much duller approach, with no literary allusions or epic statements, but with an invisible crowd of lemmings shouting together like on Sesame Street:


Maybe it’s time for a little revolution.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bell Bajao: advertising with substance

Some companies want amazing advertising, but you can’t have amazing advertising without a good product. In Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, he pushes marketers to look at the process of marketing not just from the point of communications, but all the way back to the research and development stage. This nonprofit campaign called Bell Bajao, or Ring The Bell, has a beautiful and striking ad because it has an innovative business plan.

By calling on men in society to take a stand, and teaching them to simply make abusers aware that they are being watched, allows, entire towns to stop domestic abuse and feel empowered.

PS. I found this campaign through the AdC Council’s amazing blog, Adlibbing.org

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

People for Smarter Cities

Company: IBM

Campaign: People for Smarter Cities

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather France

This sign has a curve to provide shelter from the rain

This sign has a curve to provide shelter from the rain

The curve in this provides seating space

The curve in this provides seating space

This campaign is innovative for a number of reasons. The first is that it caters to the customer first. This piece of advertising does not just scream at people walking by to pay attention (which is what it often feels like when you walk down the streets of New York everyday).  The campaign, much like IBM’s brand, seeks to help the consumer with their everyday needs and provide a service.

The other, more obvious piece of innovation is the piece itself. The minimalist design drives the idea of innovation, and how to create a solution to everyday problems through one simple alteration.

I’m sure I’ll see many ads in the next few months trying to think “off the wall” like this soon, but IBM will be the root of that movement in my mind. The number one takeaway is that the ad gives to the consumer before asking for any participation.

Tagged , , ,