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As we wrap up another year of May 'sweeps'? we bid farewell to one show that has captured the imagination of millions, left audiences on the edge of their seats and will forever be remembered as one of the most groundbreaking network series of all time. I'm talking of course about ABC's Happy Town. Authors Note: Happy Town was cancelled after two episodes. No, clearly I'm talking about LOST. A pop-culture centerpiece for the last six years, wraps up this Sunday (!) with much fanfare. While viewers will be divided over the finale regardless of what happens, it's hard to argue against the success LOST has had as it leaves on a high note. Want proof? The finale is slated to get Super Bowl-sized ad buys. As the LOST finale wraps up, I'm left scrambling for a new show to get hooked on. This past year when I tuned into ABC's FlashForward, I broke one of my cardinal rules of TV watching (Don't Ever, EVER Watch a TV Series in Its Premiere Season). The show started out great, with even a subtle nod to LOST to keep rabid LOST fans speculating about a link between the two shows. FlashForward started off with a 4.0 rating in the 18-49 demo with 12.47 million viewers but hit a low 2.1 rating with 7.1 million viewers. And just like that, it gets axed. Shame. There's a disturbing trend at work here. Networks are wary to jump into big budget series and ride them out for the long haul and quick to cut their losses, leaving viewers frustrated for investing time into a show that usually ends with little closure. For examples of how this can end tragically, check out this list of awesomely bad TV show finales. We've talked at length over the past few years about the continuing fragmentation of media. Consumers now have more choices than ever for places to get their news, find entertainment and stay connected with friends, and the commentary on this has been typically glowing. But there is a flip side to this digital revolution. As media becomes more and more fragmented, and audiences follow suit accordingly, there's less incentive for networks to get behind new big-budget TV dramas like LOST or FlashForward and ride them out when the going gets tough. New York Times writer Lorne Manly (great name, BTW) discussed this issue with LOST showrunners Damon Lindelof and Cartol Cuse in an NYT Q&A last week. MANLY: Do you think a show like yours ' big budget, serialized, very intense, lots of characters ' can still work on network television? CUSE: One of the nostalgic elements of experiencing the end of 'Lost'? is that I also think it's the end of an era. The media landscape has changed dramatically even in the six years of this show. Here we are, we're shooting a show, there are somewhere between 425 people who work on the show, 325 in Hawaii and 100 here in Los Angeles, we shot the show on Panavision, 35-millimeter film, we had two full crews ' the scale and the scope and the size of this, this is the most expensive television series made anywhere in the world. And in this media landscape, it's incredibly hard to capitalize something the way 'Lost'? has been capitalized. We have a fractured media environment, and there are many more choices, but as a result there are smaller resources for every show that gets made, and so we feel a little bit like we're blacksmiths in the Internet era. It's kind of sad because we are big fans of action-adventure and genre and things like that. And when you see the 'Lost'? finale, it's like a movie, and just as fans of television, it's sad to realize that there just won't be that many rolls of the dice of this size and scope. Well, that sucks. Now we'll be left with safer bets, like dime-a-dozen criminal justice-themed shows (current 2010 U.S. shows include: Bones, Castle, The Closer, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Dark Blue, Detriot 1-8-7, Flashpoint, Fringe, In Plain Sight, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Medium, The Mentalist, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Numb3rs, Psych, SouthLAnd, White Collar, The Whole Truth). And don't even get me started on reality shows. It's unfortunate that there is a very real possibility that primetime television will fail to continue to capture our imaginations in favor of more cost-conscious content. The mythology of LOST is something that has continually kept fans theorizing, speculating and guessing over the past six years. The social engagement of the show was one of the most compelling reasons to watch. The intense level of fanaticism that would have my iPhone buzzing with texts about the origin of Jacob, post-episode message boards burning up with insanely convoluted theories about religion, philosophy, and metaphysics, along with the watercooler conversations in the office the next morning trying to figure out just what the hell Ben Linus is up to next. I guess finding another show that will give me an experience like that is something that is truly lost.
The Associated Press is reporting that the NFL will look into teams revealing their draft picks early, even before Roger Goodell announces the selections live at the podium. With no existing policy to curtail the social media activity of each team, the NFL will likely address this policy, or lack thereof, for the 2011 NFL Draft. The NFL Draft is far and away the busiest and most frenzied day on the NFL calendar. As teams are hard at work in their respective war rooms, reporters like Adam Schefter (@Adam_Schefter), and Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) are trying to report back to viewers with the latest rumors and trades. Surprisingly, one of the teams that will be reporting draft picks in real-time is our hometown New England Patriots. Wait, what? 'We might even get a few draft picks out via Twitter before they are announced on TV, so any Patriots fans following the draft closely are encouraged to begin following RealPatriots on Twitter,'? Patriots spokesman Stacey James said. 'Of course, this is the first time we are attempting this, so it should be interesting.'? Did Belichick really green light this? Has Stacey James gone rogue? While the Pats do put themselves in a great position to grow their Twitter followers around Draft Day, it begs the question of how this benefits them from a football standpoint. This seems like a departure from a coach who is involved in almost every facet of the organization and treats player injuries like classified CIA intel. Maybe a matter of seconds doesn't really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. Conversely, maybe those few seconds are a slight competitive advantage in a league where any advantage possible is seen as valuable. What do you think?
As NBC has reached a buyout agreement with Conan O'Brien and his staff totaling an estimated $44 million, the past two weeks have been an amazing case study in many areas, including but not limited to, executive mismanagement, PR fiascos, and social media. While seemingly everyone else on the internet has weighed in on Jeff Zucker's epically terrible strategy and tact in handling the Tonight Show franchise, we thought this was a great chance to take a quick look at the social media impact of this disaster. It's no shock that Conan has the younger audience and therefore is receiving much more support in the social media space. Conan-related hashtags have kept the soon-to-be-former Tonight Show host atop twitter (#imwithcoco, #teamconan, #inconanwestand, #conan, #imwithconan, #coco, to name a few). Fellow celebrities have also voiced their support for the copper-coiffed star. Over on Facebook, the biggest group in support is found on the Fan Page I'm With COCO which has mobilized over 530,000 supporters in just over a week since Conan's 'People of Earth'? statement. They've demonstrated outside NBC studios in New York and Los Angeles with the Los Angeles rally drawing over one hundred people in the pouring rain. Their dedication was rewarded with an appearance by Conan himself who ran alongside the protesters and showered them in praise from a studio rooftop. He even bought the crowd pizza! How can you NOT like this guy?! Caught up in the cross hairs of this is Jay Leno who is certainly the beneficiary of the Tonight Show fiasco but is also being made out (wrongfully so, in my opinion) to be the villain in this drama. For the man who is supposed to be the savior of the franchise there are no I'm with LENO groups, no rallies and no overwhelming social media buzz. Wait, that's not true. There has been a quickly developing Leno hashtag meme (#lenofacts) where users associate Leno as the root of many evils ' think Chuck Norris facts, but in a bad way. - bpcrum: Jay Leno destroyed the housing market #lenofacts - Grimace233: Jay Leno is single-handedly keeping us from universal health care. #lenofacts - invalidjoker: Jay Leno forced Bob Barker into an early retirement #lenofacts So Conan certainly has social media momentum but how much do studio execs really care? Ratings equal revenue and while Conan has diehard fans, Leno is more mainstream and has a larger audience. This could be a very short term strategy since Conan's younger fans will tune-in for years to come and there's always the very-real possibility that Leno retires. Yikes. Regardless of what happens, years from now we'll look back on this as a moment that will shape late night for years to come. Who do you think will end up being the big winners from this?
Every year in the weeks leading up to Halloween I try to work a steady amount of horror movies into my entertainment diet. This week I have been thinking about some of my favorite slasher flicks and I realized that horror movies draw interesting parallels to strategic approaches in the marketing arena. Disclaimer: The following post contains many links to classic scenes from horror movies. PR Stunts Can Generate Great Buzz but Can Also Go Horribly, Horribly Wrong (Carrie, 1976) ' Sure a fun little stunt may seem like a good idea at the time but the next thing you know you're locked in a high school gymnasium being burned alive by a telekinetic social outcast. Or you might even be wishing that as the best possible outcome (right Richard Heene?). Take for example Snapple's attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle (17.5 tons, mind you)'?¦on an 80 degree day in Manhattan. You can guess how that one ended up. Before jumping in with both feet, make sure you are working with a partner that has experience (and insurance) to make sure every single detail is well thought-out and accounted for. Viral Videos: Proceed with Caution (The Ring, 2002) ' Viral videos can be effective if they catch on (and by 'effective'?, I don't mean 'a follow-up phone call, then killing the viewer seven days later). However there is an inherent amount of risk to be had when rolling the dice with a viral video play. There is no way to guarantee it will catch on. For every Cadbury Gorilla video that has blown up, there's a dozen video that haven't. Side note: thank God YouTube wasn't around during either of The Ring movies, that clip would have totally blown the doors off of this video. 'You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat'? (Jaws, 1975) ' We field a good number of requests from clients interested in our 'Brand ChAMPion'? campus ambassador programs. One thing we've found through execution is that in order to be successful, we must commit the appropriate resources to our campus ambassadors. We like to surround our reps with as many resources as possible including but not limited to: campus PR, campus media, social media and a local marketing budget. The more we can commit to them, the higher chance for success. Without this kind of support, it's easy for a campus ambassador program to fall flat. Think of trying to catch Jaws from a canoe. That's what it's like trying to force a campus ambassador program with a tight budget. Sometimes, you just need a bigger boat. Find Creative Ways to Engage with Your Audience (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Various: 1984 ' 2010) ' One of my favorite things about Freddy Krueger is that he didn't just kill people like a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, but rather he created a unique nightmare experience. Whether he's transporting sleepy teens into video games or comic books or turning them into cockroaches, Freddy has a always had a knack for creating an over-the-top experience for his victims. Here at AMP, we find that deep, experiential consumer engagements can have a lasting effect on your victims'?¦er, uh, consumers. Consumers. User Generated Content Can Be a Risky Proposition (The Blair Witch Project, 1999) ' Some brands have stars in their eyes when they think of the concept of UGC ' a consumer, spending all of this time engaging with their brand sounds incredible. Brands can then use that content which saves money that would otherwise be paid out to a Creative department to develop. Sounds too good to be true, right? Often times, it is. Because content development is so accessible, content quality has become inflated as a result. Some may think an average consumer is capable of filming and editing a brief movie, but what really ends up happening? Three kids get lost in the woods and all hell breaks loose. Uncomfortably close nasal close-ups ensue.
A little BPA (Bysphenol A) never killed anyone, right? /fact checking'?¦ Ok, so apparently it has the potential to kill many people. Luckily as the BPA scare emerged last year there was one company, SIGG, that did a great job of marketing their bottles as safe alternatives to harmful plastic Nalgene bottles. Until it came out last week that wasn't really the case and SIGG bottles contained BPA after all. So let's review. In order to avoid drinking out of my plastic Nalgene death-bottle, I shelled out $20 for a fancy SIGG aluminum death-bottle. /swears under breath SIGG CEO Steve Wasik had some 'splainin' to do last week. Here's his official statement. In it, he italicizes (for emphasis!) some honest and unintentional oversight: 'I am sorry that we did not make our communications on the original SIGG liner more clear from the very beginning.'? I'm pretty sure he's not so sorry about the 250% sales increase between 2006 and 2007 as result of those unclear communications. Wasik was interviewed by TreeHugger back in April, 2008 who flatly asked him outright if his bottles contained BPA. Mr. Wasik clearly stated that testing shows no presence of BPA (among other harmful chemical byproducts), but was unwilling to share what specifically his liners were made from, when in fact they do contain trace amounts of BPA, it was just that the BPA didn't leach. One blogger put it best with the following: 'Granted, tests have shown that the BPA from Sigg bottles does not leach into the water in the bottle. But that's not really the point. The point is that there is a strong expectation today for companies to be transparent, especially companies that are considered on the more sustainable end of the spectrum. When a trusted company goes through such lengths to hide the truth, it makes consumers like me question why we should ever rely on their products again.'? SIGG is currently at the public's mercy (and right now it's not looking so good). Class action lawsuit, anyone?
Charlie Schmidt's "Cool Cat" Haven't quite had your fix of cats playing piano? Don't worry, soon everybody's feline savants will be able to share the limelight. As hardware and software developers create faster and easier ways to upload media, consumers as sharing that media just as fast. Here are two mind blowing stats, courtesy of YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=kbaLH7fmm-g). In the past six months, YouTube has seen uploads from mobile phones increase 1,700%. In the first six days since the new iPhone 3GS launched, YouTube has seen uploads increase by 400% per day. What does this mean for you? Well, that depends on who you are: Brand Managers ' Expect more chatter about your brand. This is a double-edged sword. If a consumer is burned by your product, customer service, whatever ' expect retaliation to come in the form of a video, profanity and all. Although if you have a great product, it's not unreasonable to expect consumers to talk it up a bit more. Just be aware that consumers are far more likely to share a bad experience than a positive one. Bogus, I know. Agency Folk ' Barriers for participation in video promotions have been taken down considerably. Having a consumer submit a video confessional about the time they secretly switched cosmetic brands without telling friends or indulged in a new ice cream flavor, now requires a lot less legwork on behalf of the consumer. Joe Six-Pack ' Expect more noise (read: crap) on YouTube. One of the downsides of the democratization of content is that any hack with a webcam is suddenly an entertainer. Oh. Good. But there are still many 'diamond-in-the-rough'? videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZpD0btOZx8) that we can happily pass along to cube-mates during lunch. Feline Record Label Executives ' Meow.
Will Augmented Reality Be the Next Big Thing? Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader cuts off Luke's hand? That was awesome. But there was another scene in Star Wars where Princess Leia sends Obi Wan Kenobi a holographic distress call. The first time I saw that scene I thought how cool it would be if someday we really had technology like that. Well, we do now'?¦sort of. Meet 'augmented reality'?. Augmented reality is a technology that merges the real world with computer-generated data. The augmented reality is displayed on a computer screen that shows the real world captured by camera then overlaid with computer graphics. From there, the user can interact with and manipulate the virtual content that is being displayed on-screen. Will augmented reality be next big thing? Well, that all depends on how well advertisers can identify meaningful ways to use the technology. Here are a handful of brands that have developed clever ways to implement augmented reality: USPS - Virtual Box Simulator USPS Unsure what size box you need when shipping a package? Fire up the handy Virtual Box Simulator to correctly size the box needed to ship your junk. This is a great application that fits well with the brand and provides a real benefit to customers. Topps ' 3D LIVE Topps- 3D Live Baseball cards have always sought to appeal to fans beyond the traditional card-collecting experience. In the past we've seen jigsaw puzzles, stickers, even brittle pieces of tasteless bubblegum. 3D LIVE brings a mini-game experience to fans that lets them control avatars of their favorite players. Wikitude Wikitude AR Travel This takes tourism to another level by allowing users to overlay a map and use their mobile device (presently Android mobile platform only) to display points of interest 'seen'? by the device's camera. PS3 - EyePet Eye Pet Aside from being able to shower your pet in virtual cookies or dress it up to look like Erik Estrada, users have the ability to create objects with which their pet can play. At this point users are limited to a few basic things that they can create, but it opens the possibility for even more customizable interactivity with the medium for future applications and games. Similar to the viral video phenomenon a while back, this is another innovative messaging vehicle for brands but it must be compelling and provide a real benefit/value to maximize impact. Imagine an application from IKEA that could help you virtually layout new furniture in your living room. What if Target could help students virtually decorate their dorm rooms when they move to college? What about a new sneaker from Nike that you could virtually try on and walk around in? Imagine SONY providing 3D step-by-step instructions to help you setup your new home theater system. The possibilities are endless; we just need to think outside the virtual box. How can your brand help augment reality?