Friday, March 30, 2007

OMG!! I <3 Danica!

Perhaps taking a hint from 15 year old lonely girls, Michael Eisner's new project (sans Disney) is a web-based show. The "show" is already promising 80 (that's right, eight zero) episodes that are 90 seconds each. Why would we possibly want to watch 80, 90 second episodes? Well, because the show is about chicks killing each other to become prom queen... Awesome! From a Wired article.

"The premise: A near-murder mystery set against the final two months of the school year tracks a pack of randy high schoolers as they ramp up for prom night."
Oh, and we also want to watch it because a darling actress friend of mine is a main character; Danica (That's her character's name, I'm not sure if I should use her real name but as a hint, it rhymes with Panama. Heh) That link above goes to the character's MySpace page. From there, you can visit her friends' pages and see their happy pre-prom lives.

So let me see here. Prom girls killing each other trying to become prom queen. Gotcha. Web-based show that you can catch on the main site as well as Youtube and probably other video outlets. Gotcha. MySpace presence and other web content made to look like stuff active teenagers would actually have. Ok. So that's the content but...

... how is everyone getting paid?
"Eisner: Well, there will be actual advertising before the episode and a lot of post roll. We'll keep it short, and there will be banners. With 10- to 20-minute (episodes strung together), there may be (ad) interruptions. Oh, and there are embedded spots -- product placements. With Star Style users can click through (the footage) and buy something."
Ahh, I knew there'd be ads. The Star Style thing is interesting though. So I'm guessing each second of the footage is tagged and if I see a particularly awesome blue tux, I can click to buy. You know, if they ditched the pre/post roll ads, went only with the cool Star Style stuff... they might have had something interesting. As it is, feels a lot like TV squeezed into YouTube.

Anything else Eisner?
"Well, there will be interactive community aspects to it for sure. And we're planning that and actually shooting extra material for that."
Does interactive community aspects mean Danica can add friends on MySpace? Interact with the public like she's oblivious to our voyeuristic endeavors? How do you incorporate community aspects without someone posting, "I totally saw you at Starbucks the other day, you're not in high school!"? "Panama" won't say if Danica gets bumped off early (you suck, where's the insider love?) but if she does, won't it be weird if her MySpace says that her last login was like, you know, AFTER her death?

From my geeky interactive strategist perspective, should be interesting to see how this all plays out. From a personal perspective, I hope Danica kicks ass, takes names and gets crowned. Go Danica!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm right, they were wrong, bite me

In a post last year, I called bullshit on Second Life. Now, less than 8 months later, the buzz has subsided and marketers have all but given up on the medium.

As if the evidence wasn't overwhelming enough, now comes news that even Second Life residents are feeling unsatisfied with marketing in SL. Via MarketingVox, via Brandweek:

"A survey by German research firm Komjuniti reports that 70 percent of Second Life residents are disappointed in the presence that marketers have established in Second Life...

Even more disappointing are shops and outlets set up by brands, subjected to a certain amount of hype - and then all but abandoned. That non-presence presence is leading to frustration among residents looking for a more truly interactive experience."
I think I said it best when I said:
So let's face it, SL is a waste of time for marketers. When the real virtual world comes (and it will), the experiences in SL will provide little value (probably as valuable as logos on Pogs). I'm sure many marketers know this but until they stop looking good posing with the facade, they don't care.
Ok, enough gloating. Time to move on.

Competitive Maneuvers

As I'm sure everyone else is reporting, the Xbox360 is going to get a new version, the Elite. The move firmly entrenches the 360 in the battle with the PS3. It makes you wonder if they just don't care or have no idea how to deal with the Wii. The 360 brand manager even goes so far as to say:

“We don’t feel like the Wii customer and the Xbox customer are the same thing,” he said. “We think that as soon as the Wii customer turns 14 they want something else.”

Turns 14? Is that a fact based on sales demos or wishful thinking? This is like England being attacked by France and turning around to punch Ireland. Well done.

via NYTimes

Getting to school

  1. Go downstairs and head to street. Make a left. Walk down Raymond past tennis courts of Alhambra Park. Look both ways. Look again. Run across street. Wave to mom. Enter gate.
  2. Go downstairs and head to street. Make a right. Walk down Larch until Palm. Ignore crosswalk light, go across. Walk past sand lot and volleyball court at the Park. Cross street, enter gate.
  3. Go out door. Head south on Novelda until Alhambra Rd. Turn left on Chapel, past monastery. Walk approximately .75 miles to Main. Make right and walk another .5 miles to 2nd. Turn left. Stop at Rick's for soda before 1st period. Continue down 2nd, enter gate.
  4. Drive out of garage. Turn on lights. Take 110 South, then 10W, then 405N. Exit Wilshire Blvd. Turn left on Westwood. Look for parking. Look for parking. Look for parking. Park.
  5. Drive down hill. Left onto Longhollow Rd. Left to Highway 231. Drive down past Tractor Supply Co and Bi-Lo. Make right on Court St. Left into campus, park, close top.
  6. Pull out of garage. Turn left on San Remo. Right on Paseo Westpark. Left on Alton. Right on Culver. Right on Campus. Past Undergraduate Social Sciences Building. Pull into Reserved parking.



Jim's out of the box thinking started too early

Monday, March 26, 2007

Stupidiest Smart Banner Ever

Caught this Heineken banner ad at

It has a single call to action: "Click to Shoot". (Here's a tip if you're going to make a banner ad: Never ask the user to click on a banner ad to do anything. Unless they're in the industry [like me], no one clicks) So I click it and it does shoot the ball as shown below.

I didn't make the first shot. It goes wide. So does the second. And the fifth and tenth. I was starting to think; "What a stupid ad, it doesn't let the player win". And then, "Forget it, this is lame" and scroll back up to the top of the page to find more news. I then notice the top banner. It's also a Heineken ad and it appears related. So I scroll down a little to see the top of the vertical banner and click the very top of the banner to shoot.

If you look closely, you'll see why I was missing my shot. The balls always fly across the page. They head towards the top banner apparently because, as the headline says, Heineken is "irresistible". Oooooh! I get it now!

All in all, it's a smart ad execution. Too bad it's also totally moronic.

From the top of the horizontal banner to the bottom of the vertical banner is a total of about 1,050 pixels. So unless you're viewing this page on a screen larger than 1280x1024 (I say this because you have to factor in the browser menu and borders), you'll never "get it". Sure, I got it but I'm paid to pay attention to this stuff.

I bet this looked great on a crisp sheet of posterboard when it was presented to client. Unfortunately, this ad should never have gotten past concepts. Was there no one at that agency with any common sense?

Screwed if you do...

I had a conversation with a friend the other day... it went something like this:

Friend: "You know, we're going to fuck up '08"

Me: "How so?"

Friend: "Well, we have the damn White House handed to us but noooo, we're not happy with that. We're gonna try to push through something new, like get a woman or a black man in the office."

At first, I was uncomfortable with the blatant misogyny and racism. Then I started thinking...

As much as I'd like to think this country is ready for a female or African-American president, I'm not so sure. I would love to see it happen but my gut tells me that when the citizens of USSR (United States of Stubbornly Red) close their voting booth curtains, all bets are off. Why?

My marketing training tells me that people will go with what they're comfortable with unless given overwhelming evidence otherwise. Comfort usually means recognition and trust. For the same price, would you buy "Fizzers Cola" or Coke? We are victims of branding and are affected by it consciously as well as subconsciously.

Unfortunately, I dare anyone to tell me that the white male leader is not a brand. I'm not saying this is right or wrong but it simply is what it is.

The questions I'm asking myself are: How much of my soul do I lose if I back a "safer" candidate? Contrastly, how much do I lose if I have to live another 4 years of this insanity?

Look, I don't like it but I'm starting to think Edwards' white penis is the way to go.

This blows.

Market Research Schme'search


A video game start up from a producer of "300" and some rich dot com dude has generated about $150 million in equity. The raison d'etre? "The startup, Brash Entertainment LLC, is developing games that will be licensed with major movie, book and music titles."

"We hope to be one of the biggest game studios in the country," Altenbach said.

"The safest, most lucrative way to sell a video game is in tandem with some kind of movie that is already heavily marketed," Ellis said. "Your downside is protected by the co-marketing."

Other than GoldenEye (which was a long time ago), I can't think of a single damn movie-licensed game I'd actually want to play. A moment of silence please as we mourn the passing of $150 million...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gamers have friends?

Let me try to summarize this one quickly:

A study was just released that shows that how many titles you sell doesn't necessarily translate to how many people actually played the game. Turns out, if you sell 10 copies, maybe 15 people actually play it.

"For example, NPD Group research showed Activision's Call of Duty 3 sold 2 million units in the United States as of Feb. 3. According to the Gameasure report, that game was played by 9 million people."

Not exactly a breakthrough in science but I'll buy it.

Now why do we (game producers) care if more people play if you only get paid for the single purchase? In-game ads, of course. The firm that came out with the study is trying to stir up the way that marketers typically estimate and pay for ads in retail titles. Currently, deals are made based on expected number of units sold. Therefore, if more people play than units sold, then maybe you're not charging enough. That's a great insight. Unfortunately, it's got a short shelf life.

This study is only applicable for the titles that never go online, thus restricting their in-game ads to remain static. If, however, a title has any online capability, then the ads can be dynamic and updated at will. When this happens, you shouldn't count potential revenue/costs by units sold, you would count by impression. (An impression is when an ad is served up online) This is how ads are sold on websites. So as interesting and relevant as the above study is to marketers, it's too little too late.

Dynamic in-game ads is where we're heading. In fact, when it comes down to making money by ads, it doesn't matter how many units you sell as long as you get enough eyeballs on your game. Which brings us again to why it makes sense to do free games and digital distribution.

via USA Today

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Throw in some schmear

A square bagel. Hmm. I'm both confused and intrigued at the same time.

That reminds me of a brainstorming exercise I learned a while back. It works something like this.

Take a list of products and create rows with them.

  • Bagels
  • Rolls
  • Plain Bread
  • Muffins
Then create columns with attributes, in this case, shapes
  • Square
  • Round
  • Triangles
  • Cupcakes
Your chart then looks like this.

See any opportunities?

This might be how we got such new products as those square bagels, peanut butter in a tube, soup in a jar and gum in blister packs.

I can think of a few games they've probably made with this method... some very bad games.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Navi Systems Save You Gas Money

As you know, one of my favorite pastimes is to jab at headline grabbing; the practice of printing articles and press releases that are loosely factual and mostly sensational. Since there doesn't appear to be any way to make them go away, I might as well just loosen the tie, kick off my shoes and join the party...

Here's my suggestion to some researcher looking to grab a headline:

"Use of Satellite Navigation Devices Reduces National Gas Consumption

Researchers have just published a study that shows annual gas consumption has decreased due to the increased use of navigation devices. The study found that since less people were getting lost, less gas was being consumed..."
Damn, that's interesting stuff! So here are simple instructions to complete this study and resulting grabbage:
  • Find a sponsor, my suggestion: TomTom
  • Get you some data: A round number of... oh say... 20 moderate drivers in 5 cities should do.
  • Crunch the numbers: Don't crunch too hard though, we're headline grabbing, not going for a Nobel.
  • Write article: This one should write itself, I already did the first part for you.
  • Distribute through PR Newswire: Nice guys over there but pricey (refer to step 1)
  • Allot a few days to field interviews
  • Bask in the publicity of your research
  • Cash in your fat check from sponsor
You can thank me later.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I'm filthy stinking rich!

I've gotten a few questions about the Google ads on the right. Somewhere over there ~~>

Just to clear the air, I'm not doing it for the money. In total, that placement has earned approximately $3. That's right, three measly bucks. And although it has earned $3, I haven't actually cashed that out with Google.

So why do it? Research.

There's just enough traffic to BN that I can play around with the Adsense system.

And just so you don't think I've gone soft as an evil marketer. If I could figure out a way to make a lot more than $3 off this blog, rest assured, I would. =)

Another bogus video game study

Another shameless headline grabber succeeds:

(I appear to be on a run, this is the third post inspired by a Reuter's article)

Video racing games may spur risky driving - study
People who play car racing video games may be more prone to drive recklessly and get into accidents, according to a study that adds to evidence that video games can influence the behavior of some players.
I know I'm supposed to keep posts short and quotes even shorter but you have to read the findings from the study, as reported by Reuters:
The researchers first questioned 198 men and women. Those who played the games most often were more likely to report engaging in aggressive and risky driving and getting in auto accidents. Those who played these games less often reported driving more cautiously, the researchers said.
The researchers then studied 68 men and found those who played even one racing game took more risks afterward in traffic situations on a computer simulator than those who played another type of game.
Then the researchers had 83 men play either a racing game or another type of game, and found that those who played the racing game reported more thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking than the others.
Wow, that's pretty convincing. I mean, holy crap! We gotta do something. Let's figure out how to ban drivers under the influence of racing games! Should we really panic?

Nope and here's why: Priming. From the Wikipedia entry:
Priming in psychology refers to activating parts of particular representations or associations in memory just before carrying out an action or task...

These associations are often regarded as unconscious, but can be conscious as well. For example, after studying a list of 20 words containing the word "garbage", a subject can be asked to recall the word by priming with a reminder stimulus "gar".'
Garbage indeed. Makes you wonder huh?

Caveat emptor

More of a good thing?

via Reuters: An article on giving video games a larger presence in schools and teaching. If I read the story right, the thinking goes like this: Games provide a depth not available in books, studies show that it might work and why not, the kids like it.

You know, this feels very much like what they said about using TVs to teach in school. As far as I know, that hasn't replaced the old book and teacher. I'm all for games (actually, let's call it interactive content) helping kids in schools but I don't see it going anywhere beyond a novelty.

I will caveat, however, that I think simulations can be tremendously valuable as teaching tools. I've learned from stock market sims and situational training sims. Most of the time though, these don't provide the fundamentals but rather enhances the learning process through application of skills. Hopefully we'll see more of these.

Google AdScape buy confirmed

Google confirmed Friday that they bought in-game ad firm AdScape, opening the door to Google entering the in-game advertising industry. I posted about this back in January, when it was still unconfirmed. What's interesting is that between then and now, nothing significant has happened in the in-game ad space. No new deals, no big announcements of partnerships or successes, nothing even worth a fanboy's cry of "I heyt in-game ads".

I'm wondering if everyone's quietly making boatloads of money or briskly shaking hands and working on deals. Regardless, I'm starting to wonder if 2007 won't be when we see in-game ads hit full stride. Perhaps this is the year that the partnerships between developers, advertisers and ad networks (such as Google) begin to solidify and it'll take another development cycle before we see any games that result from these deals.

Hey... is anyone talking to the consumers?

via Reuters

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ketchup is a food group

Meet the most offensive ad of the weekend:

"Dad is Making Dinner"

Bravo to this ad. In one fell swoop, it successfully offends both men and women. According to the ad: dad's are lazy and have no clue what to do in the kitchen. And by process of elimination, mom's place is in the kitchen. Oh yeah, by the way mom, your stuff is shit, that's why we're not excited when you're cooking. Sorry, meant to tell you earlier.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The latest on SL

InfoWeek had an excellent article on Second Life a few weeks ago. Some choice quotes:

Well, in theory...

"Having trouble understanding what your customers really want in a pair of jeans? Let them design the jeans personally. Ditto a car. Or a new kitchen. Want to increase brand awareness? Open a storefront where shoppers can virtually browse your products, "engage" with them, and become more loyal. Hope to convert browsing into real dollars? Add a link that sends them to your Web site, where they can hand over their credit cards.

It sounds good. The problem is that none of this is happening. The virtual stores are empty."

Do you think we could have gotten more PR if we gave away $1million in Times Square?
Linden Lab's traffic counter--which awards points based on how residents divide their time within each 24-hour period--showed total traffic at Reebok's store, which opened in August 2006, at 741 in mid-January. The Sears store, which opened in early January in partnership with IBM, was at 964. Toyota's showroom opened in November and topped the corporate retail destinations at 1,955. By contrast, Second Life's Elements Lounge--one of the most popular sites--displayed 133,217 traffic points.

I give up control all the time, I let my agency think for me.

"Companies need to investigate before they jump in ... try to understand what the community values, and how to give it to them," says Garrett French, a partner with Bold Interactive, a community marketing incubator. The first thing businesses must do is give up control, he says."

Littering is bad, mama didn't teach you that?
One of the most disconcerting aspects of wandering through the beautiful but vacant commercial spaces of Second Life is that none of the major companies has bothered to "staff" its virtual space.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Boycott Viacom, Save YouTube

The Battle of YouTube
Winter 2007

On a crisp Winter morning in 2007, the air carrying a metallic hint of silicon, the most significant battle in the War of Media began. On one side stood the stoic and stubborn Old Media. Armed with their front row of lawyers, mounted copyrights and broadcasting lobbies. On the other side stood the band of rebels, New Media, with their unorganized but passionate mob. They were armed with nothing more than sheer numbers and momentum. Their contingent of lawyers strong but ill-equipped.

As the sun rose higher, revealing to all the dark day ahead, the combatants charged. Viacom hit the enemy lines first, thrusting a lawsuit at YouTube for $1 billion. The assault reverberated throughout the New Media ranks and even those in the back felt it's sharp sting. Wave after wave of lawsuits on lawyers charged. Survivor accounts say it was a tidal wave too fast to run from and so large that hope itself was inadequate to cling to.

Yes, the battle was brutal and though New Media outnumbered Old, it looked like all would be lost. Until...

A band of consumers breached the horizon. These consumers were a pissed off bunch. They had found New Media to be good to them. Old Media were friends as well but at times, was downright rude to New Media. Consumers, like all of us, don't want to choose between friends. The sight of New Media bloody and near defeat while knowing that Old Media picked this fight was enough for the Consumers. They charged towards the offenders.

The Consumers' tactic, it should be noted, is a simple one. They cut off supply lines. In the first attack, they boycotted all the advertisers running lifelines to Viacom. Of course, the first Consumers were not very effective and the next few dozen hardly made a dent. But gradually, as more and more Consumers got in the mix, Old Media began to pay attention.

You see, Viacom is powerless without a fresh supply of resources from advertisers. Advertising fuels their army, fuels their lawyers and their thirst for power. Cut off the advertising and you suddenly get their attention.

It starts with one crazy fool that throws himself head first down the hill, armed with nothing more than stupidity. What Viacom is doing is pig-headed and so as Consumers, we should boycott their advertisers. Not every advertiser, that'd be too tough. But if we ignore enough of the big ones, they'll pay attention. If Pepsi advertises on Viacom, then buy Coke. If they both do, drink tap. If Target runs an ad on Viacom, shop at Walmart. If both, buy online.

New Media is the industry to back. It embodies the spirit of our country by democratizing choice and control. It distributes wealth to those that are brave enough to explore new lands (including those converts from Old Media such as Old Media needs to learn to adapt, not employ book burning tactics to suffocate change. We need to send them a message and we need to hit them where it hurts.

MTV and Comedy Central are the flagship properties of Viacom. Visit the sites, take note of their advertisers. Don't buy those products. Save YouTube.

Data went on to be an IT support manager

Jeep hijacks your childhood memories to create the most cringeful online automotive campaign this year...

Return to Astoria

Loosely basing a concept on the Goonie's movie, they create an online advergame that is truly delightful to despise. It is so bad and poorly done that I'm sure it's already become a Friday night cult phenomenon. I would provide you pictures but I decided I didn't want to stain this blog with such malodorous content, lest it invade like a Seinfeldian valet.

In case you start to think I'm just full of criticism without any substance, here's why it's so awful and what you (if you're an auto advertiser) can learn from it:

  • It's 2007, can you animate flash faster than a crawl?
  • I understand the rationale of branding with the Goonies, since your target market were inspired viewers back then, but a Goonies adventure is, by nature, vehicle-less. The bad guys (you know the adults) drove the cars.
  • Why an advergame? What about this demographic made you think they'd want to engage in your brand through a casual game? Did they skew female (most casual gamers are female)? Did focus grouping reveal them to be especially enticed by your SUVs if they virtually drove them?
  • Why a crappy advergame? The game is fugly, gives absolutely no chance of success within a reasonable amount of time, and brings no value to the Jeep or Goonies brand. What the hell were you thinking? Whatever you paid, you paid too much. Fire the agency that made this for you, trust me, if they allowed you to put this out to the world, they're not working in your best interest.
Jeep hasn't been all bad. Here's a campaign for the Compass last year that I really liked. It allows you to create an avatar, sing karaoke and send it all to a friend. A decently fun waste of time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

History is written by the high-scorers

via the NY Times

The most erudite top ten list in Gameropolis this year (created via committee of course) was the "canon" (that's a fancy bejeweled way to say "list") grandly known as: The Most Important Video Games of All Time. That's right, of All Freak'n Time!

Three in the list: Warcraft (not world, the OG RTS). Super Marios Bros 3. SimCity.

In this quite serious exercise to gain recognition of games as historical cultural artifacts, we resort to yet another top ten list. I'm going to stick my head in a microwave.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Home is where you hang your ads

Sony grabbed a couple headlines a few days ago when they announced "Home", their PS3 virtual portal/world for console owners. I like Wire's coverage best.

Most interesting to me, of course, is the advertising potential of Home. From the Wired article:

But nothing is truly free, Home included. For one, the version of Home that Harrison showed was positively slathered with advertisements -- giant billboards that constantly looped video of new PlayStation games, a movie theater that showed trailers of upcoming Sony Pictures films. Even the television sets in the rooms were virtual Sony Bravias.
From Kotaku's coverage:
It's also possible for companies or publishers to create their own spaces. For instance Electronic Arts could create a space that shows off their current and upcoming games in a virtual world that looks more like a mall than a store.
What's interesting is that a lot of people have compared this to Second Life. Perhaps it's because of the free roaming avatar in virtual world (when did SL own this idea?). This is much more simple though and probably therefore, a lot more valuable to general consumers. The most relevant similarity, however, is the inevitable rush of marketers into this world.

What is sheer brilliance to me about Home is that Sony has finally found a way to mass-market-monetize the time gamers spend gaming. "Huh?" Let me explain. In-game ads are good and all but so far they haven't taken off and targeting gamers in game has caused a backlash. Home is a good compromise for the latter issue and for the former, has incredible reach potential. A marketer doesn't have to buy space in a particular game when they can now reach all gamers in one place.

Unlike obscure Second Life marketing initiatives that are only experienced by 20,000 people (who by the way, probably never leave their homes to buy these products anyways), Home will probably reach millions. Dare I say it but maybe all that practice in virtual marketing on SL is going to pay off... Just kidding. Marketing in Home will probably be packaged quite differently. First, it'll be packaged. Sony will no doubt have standard offerings of a billboard here or a virtual item there. There may be an advertiser or two that would create a true destination and experience but that'll be heavily guided by Sony. By nature, there will be limits to the amount and type of content pushed to PS3 users.

I do wonder, however, how much control Sony will maintain in this space. Will they allow consumer generated content? If so, will they allow rogue advertisers to hijack public spaces (Everyone in the lobby is wearing Wii t-shirts!)? I doubt it.

And with that doubt, comes my main concern. People like controlling their online spaces. Sure, you can let them furnish their virtual homes and dress their avatars but what you provide will never be good enough for our current culture. MySpace didn't limit people to their template. Neither did YouTube say you could only do vlogs. If Home is limited to Sony-blessed usage, then it will always be just a glorified menu system. Go down the path of incredible complexity and you lose the mainstream (Second Life). But there is probably a sweet spot somewhere in between. I hope they can find it because I'm excited about the potential.

If you haven't heard of Home or seen the demo, view below:


Bollywood makes me giggle. You'll never ever ever guess the product and by the time you get there, does it really matter?

I wish I was at the agency when they pitched this.

"Right ok, so one more time, what happens after the flying old ladies?"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Not your father's PC

According to Engadget, via Slashdot, and probably via someone else...

The Commodore company, the same name that made PCs 20 years ago, is planning on competing with the likes of Alienware in the high-end gaming hardware industry. Now this is, of course, probably not the same people or "company" from way back when. People come and go, the brand survives. However, owners do drive the direction of their brand and this particular move perplexes me.

It's very similar to Acclaim. Acclaim Entertainment was the company behind Turok and all those games in the 90's. That company went bankrupt for multiple reasons. The brand, however, was alive if only in the minds of gamers. When Acclaim Games started, the company I was involved with, we leveraged that brand recognition. Sure, the last memory of Acclaim in most gamers' minds wasn't pretty, but the brand still have value in that it was built on better days. It worked for us because Acclaim is associated with games, good or bad and was relatively a fresh brand (only a moderate level of brushing off the mold was necessary).

What baffles me about the Commodore move is that the Commodore brand has quite a different background. Fresh it is not. It is connected to games (it was Atari's competitor) but again, those were different days from long ago. For those of us that even remember a Commodore, do we have any feelings whatsoever about that brand other than nostalgia? Therefore, can a nostalgic brand really compete in the same space as a cutting edge technology brand? I'm doubtful. It would be like Sony digging up the Walkman brand to sell high-end phones.

Brand recognition is valuable but don't forget the details of that recognition. If the generation that knows your brand is associating you with the wrong things, you have no value. If the current generation doesn't even know your brand, except in passing during some garage spring cleaning, you have no value. From there, you might as well just start from scratch and not carry the baggage of the brand.

Wishlist: The New Atari X9 with Blu-Ray. Classic controller optional.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cheese Knife +2

The Internet's Worst Landing Page EVER belongs to Flyff (the name says it all)

Here's the ad in-situ on GameSpot:

I wasn't too impressed with the ad. If I didn't make a living in this industry, I probably would have ignored it. But it does its job.

"Flyff: Fly for fun"

"Free to play"

Can't really get a softer sell than that. If you're a pushover and were so inclined, what would you get when you clicked?

Well you'd run into this:

Meet the Flyff campaign landing page.

I recommend clicking the image I have here and taking a closer look. You'll see three major elements to the page. To the upper right is a half-nude child/woman with a gigantic cheese knife. Ok.

To the upper left resides the logo and instructions to get started. "Play for Free in Three Easy steps", it says. "Steps", apparently, is not a word important enough to capitalize. By the way, if you're interested, the steps actually take you off the landing page, wherein you lose the nice "three easy" part of the whole matter. Also, in an attempt to show you what the game is about, a video trailer is available to view. Sweet! ....But you have to leave the landing page. Oh yeah, don't bother with the trailer, it shows grainy demo footage that I'm sure someone at one point used to get more funding.

But wait a second, let's not rush into things. Who the hell are you and why should I go down three easy steps with you?..... Ahh there we go, the last part of the page: "What is Flyff?" I'm so glad you asked, anticipating I'd ask. How clever of you.

Blah blah, yadda yadda, it's a flying game? An MMORPG flying game? I'm so confused. Can you tell me more?

"Problem with Registration?"

No, not really. I'm not really ready to commit yet. I was trying to find out about your game. Besides, I'm still trying to figure out if "Launched the game and log-in to play!" is grammatically correct. And can you tell me why your girl/woman's sword has feathers wings on one side and dragon wings on the other?

Hey, for the sake of argument, let's assume I was ready to register, what are these "problem" you speak of?

"Your username must be all lowercase, and may only contain letters and numbers"
"Since you only have three hours from when you create the account to activate it, the account has most likely already been deleted."
"There is currently a bug where you cannot have anything except letters, numbers, and spaces in your address."

Oh, those problems eh? Those sound more like your problems than mine. First, you probably want a system that can read capitalized letters. I promise not to use "steps", I know how you don't look fondly upon it. Second, you really shouldn't try to limit me to three hours, I type real slow and it takes me a while to understand you. Third, that's a bug and you really should fix it.

Boy, you guys have problems. First, you're seriously making a bad name for Korean games. I guess this does explain why you guys haven't taken over the US market. But hey, I do applaud you guys for attempting a landing page. I guess someone told you it's a best practice in online advertising. Did they actually tell you how to make one? You see, the landing page is supposed to make someone WANT to play your game. Let me help you. Here's a few tips:

  • Screenshots - Get rid of Miss Cheese
  • Three Easy Steps that are actually easy and contained within the landing page. Is it so tough to redirect your links to this page?
  • Imbed the video, YouTube can help you with that.
  • Tell me about the actual game. Telling me I can flying around in your MMORPG is not describing your product.
  • For god's sakes, find someone who has taken at least one (I don't ask for much) college-level English course to look over your page.
  • Go easy on the "free", no one likes a slut.
  • Don't ever show your dirty laundry on your landing page, there's plenty of time for me to discover that myself.
Good luck Flyff.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Maybe More Women Will Buy It

Vibration is coming to the PS3. For a mere $172.5 million dollars, Sony has settled with Immersion on the patent dispute regarding vibrating handheld devices. Bleh. Vibration is overrated. Every time the damn thing goes off, I think about my batteries.

From a business perspective though, this is a sad day for Sony. This payoff says one thing to me, "We don't care to innovate our controllers, we just want to keep up." Couldn't that money have been better spent on some R&D? Do we really need more vibes in our controllers? I really rather have seen some more motion sensing or a really revolutionary controller. Here's a free idea for you: make a controller than can adjust physically, like go from horizontal to gun shaped (transformer style). First one's free, the rest will cost you. I am, afterall, a consultant.

Anyways, it's depressing to me that they're paying so much just to go backwards.

via MarketingVox

Friday, March 02, 2007

Buying Yourself Some Tube

Anatomy of EA's YouTube campaign for SSX Blur:

  • Professionally produced video that goes undercover as a tattered and dirty amateur video.
  • Imbedded banner ad to direct traffic to more content (interestingly enough, their banner goes to a YouTube EA channel rather than a site).
  • Official looking branding, that blows the cover of the video but sidesteps the "trying to fool us" issue.
  • Your own channel on YouTube that no one visits but is really handy for showcasing in your agency's portfolio

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Assault on TandA Island

In the world of online advertising, there's an arsenal of tactics that you can use to hit your audience. There's search marketing, the sniper rifle of advertising, where you buy ads to show up when someone search keywords that you've picked. There's banner advertising, the selective target bombing of sites. And then there's the homepage takeover: the nuclear option, the equivalent of dropping a big ass bomb in a civic center and trying to take anyone with a heartbeat.

It's expensive and it's inefficient but damn does it get some attention! The homepage takeover can come in many forms, from a relatively innocuous box ad on the homepage to multiple ads and areas taken over for maximum exposure. I'm not a fan of this tactic because it's really wasteful and can be annoying to irrelevant audiences. Case in point: today's homepage takeover on Gamespot, brought to us by Battlestations Midway.

The game appears to be a WW2 sim that allows you to play on air, sea and undersea. At least, that's the only pertinent information I was able to get from the advertising. The major message from the ads can be summarized as this: "Check out all the great tits and ass artwork we can make".
I'm male and I'd be a damn liar if I didn't say I appreciate the female form. However, there's a time and place for this type of thing (late at night, candles lit, a bottle of CabSav and a dimly glowing laptop) and it is not in a homepage takeover for this game. It doesn't make sense in several levels.

First, from a gamer (male) point of view, it's insulting. Are we really so Neanderthal as to buy a game merely in the hopes of seeing pinups? Surely there are easier ways to get our flesh fix (where are my candles?). I'd like to think it'd take a bit more convincing for us to plop down money on this game. I'd like to think we look for things like... I don't know, gameplay?

Second, from a marketing point of view, this takeover will no doubt get a ton of response and some awareness for the title. However, a majority of that response is going to be the wrong kind. Will the game, like the fine stitching on a bra strap, really get any attention? Will they actually be able to push units? I really don't think so. No doubt the agency responsible for this takeover will tout the incredible response delivered by this campaign BUT... like most agencies, they'll never make the connection to actual sales.

I do have to credit them for knowing how to use a homepage takeover. If you're going to bombard everyone coming to a site, regardless of interest, you might as well find a common denominator. MMO guys, FPS guys and RTS guys will all take notice. In the narrow scope of the actual tactic, this will no doubt be wildly successful. But unfortunately, that's all.