Friday, December 8, 2006

Everything Old is New Again

There's been a lot written recently about how ads are being integrated into programming on television, films and even in books. A flurry of media accompanied Phillips' sole sponsorship of 60 Minutes earlier this fall. Recently, single sponsors have presented specials on CNN.

What's really interesting about this "break through" is that it's not new at all. In the Golden Age of Television (I'm not sure if it was either Golden or an Age, but that's a rant for another day) shows were routinely presented by a single sponsor. Camel Cigarettes used to present the news ala the Camel News Caravan. Not only did John Cameron Swayze smoke while delivering the day's news, there was a placard on his desk. Although I gather from this picture, Plymouth got in on the act for a while. Similarly, Texaco was the name sponsor of Milton Berle's show, a show whose ratings the networks can only dream about. The Texaco singers were an integral part of that show. How about soap operas? They were called soap operas because they were sponsored by soap powder companies. But the biggest kick goes back to the earliest days of radio. Broadcast radio was originally founded as a media to air ads. The music was just to fill the dead air in between the ads.... Go figure.

Bond, James Bond

Just saw Casino Royale, a great film and a return to the true Bond genre. The product placement was pretty seamless. OK, a few too many shots of a Sony Vaio laptop, but generally pretty good. There was one exception, a major clunker, the over the top plug for the Omega watch. As I recall, there's close up or two of the watch. But the key moment comes when the woman of James life admires his timepiece and asks, "Is it a Rolex?" The ever debonair Bond replies, "No, it's an Omega." Well, OK then.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

PR Goes Multi-Platform

'Tis the season. A deluge of meetings and Christmas parties will keep today's entry short and sweet. I'd like to announce that the site will begin discussing, reviewing, dissecting products and services in the field, so any announcements, releases, etc. will be welcome. Just post them....

The topic of the day is social media press releases. Edelman has announced the premiere of the social media new release. It's a great concept, incorporating all the new media bells and whistles (e.g. tagging, links), but it's hardly a paradigm shift. It's a nice innovation, but let's keep things in perspective.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Newspapers, Stop Crying

For several years there has been much wailing from within the ranks of the newspaper industry. No one reads them, Craigs List has taken their ads away, consolidation within the retail ranks has contracted the ad market, etc. Well, guess what, no one promised an eternal annuity and newspapers gotta learn to adapt.

It's called the market economy, and by the way, newspapers are still making money. True the long term outlook isn't great for print, but they're still making money. What newspapers have are valuable brands, and they've got to learn how to diversify into other forms of media. The ones that do will not only survive but will thrive. A recent Bivings report on the use of the Internet by newspapers shows that there's a long way to go.

Those who do adapt are likely to see a good year next year according to Stuart Elliott's column in yesterday's Times. He reports that the Newspapaper Association of America predicts a rate of growth of 1.2 percent next year. The 2007 forecast for online is a bouncing baby 22 percent. Newspapers, delay online initiatives at your own peril.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Must See Product Placement

NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a bizarre, yet compelling example of product placement taken to the nth degree. The show itself is a huge product placement for NBC -- it's about a thinly veiled Saturday Night Live late night show. Within this show within a show, there's even more product placement for, you guessed it, NBC. Last week, Howie Mandel was the "guest host" plugging real life Deal or No Deal. Last night, Studio 60 did a take off on Dateline. Then there are the musical guests. A couple of weeks back, Sting played himself offering samples of tunes from his new album. It must have worked at some level. I went out and bought it. This week's musical guest represented a great cause, featuring musicians benefitting from the Tipitina's Foundation. The Foundation aids New Orleans musicians. You can actually catch the entire episode, product placement included on the Studio 60 site. In a nice example of multi-platforming, the tunes from the show are available free of charge on itunes.

A Great Cause
The extremely talented Forbes Magazine editor and author Paul Klebnikov was gunned down in a Moscow street in 2004. It was yet another stirring reminder that no journalist is safe in Russia. Project Klebnikov, a group of investigative journalists and media organizations, was formed about a year ago to shed light on the murder, to continue the kind of top-notch and probing investigative work that Paul was doing and also to work on improving the environment for journalists in Moscow and elsewhere. Investigative reporter, the indomitable Richard Behar, is at the helm of the group and I am doing what I can to help. I went to graduate school at the London School of Economics with Paul back in the day. We are now planning to hold a conference in Moscow next year. We are actively seeking conference sponsors and anyone with an interest in the group.

Monday, December 4, 2006

MySpace is Your Space

There are magazines out there looking for brand extensions. The latest maybe a trend of magazines starting branded MySpace pages. The Bivings Report recently cited a Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) website release with a mention of 36 magazines with a presence on MySpace. Here's the list...
ATV Rider

Bust Magazine
D Magazine
Drum Magazine
Free skier
Guitar Player Magazine
Metal Edge
Metal Maniacs
Mini truckin’
New York Magazine
Shojo beat
Street Trucks
Transworld snow
Transworld surf

Some of the pages have been attracting enormous traffic. Bivings points out that Cosmopolitan has attracted 20,000 friends. Maxim has gained 46,000. Naked (more or less) models will do that for ya.

Internet Photo Magazine

Newly minted JPG Magazine has an interesting take on the connection between user generated content and print. The magazine is solicited photos on its website and putting them to a vote. The best ones, or the ones with the most votes anyway will appear in the magazine. Some interesting stuff.

The Future is Britain

Today the New York Times reports that we are seeing the future of Internet ads in Britain. The share of all Internet advertising there has shot up tremendously in the last couple of years. The paper reports that this year 10.5 percent of British advertising dollars will be directed to the Internet. The percentage in the U.S. will be 5.6 percent. The big loser in Britain is television where ad dollars are being pulled. Critics are saying that it can't happen here. TV is too ingrained in our culture. Oh, it's gonna happen. Internet advertising can be targeted more directly and is much cheaper than television. Television is more ingrained here and it will take longer, but, rest assured, it will happen.