Archive for advertising
Yesterday, I was very excited to launch the Media Impact Project, which aspires to be a global hub for the best research on measuring the impact of media. Supported by $3.25 million in initial funding from the Gates and Knight Foundations, I’m optimistic that the Norman Lear Center can help make media more accountable to audiences and contribute to a better understanding of the role that media plays in people’s lives.
The New York Times picked up the story and I was thrilled to see reporter Michael Cieply focus on this aspect of the program:
to provide tools on an “open-source” basis, putting socially minded nonprofit groups on a more equal footing with corporate advertisers, who use sophisticated, but expensive, measurements.
As Bill Gates pointed out recently in the Wall Street Journal, accurate measurement is the key to innovation. Without benchmarks, we don’t know where we’re going. Because media is such a pervasive presence in human life, we need reliable systems for measuring its impact. It’s difficult work, as our funders have pointed out, but with the rise of social media networks and the prospects of big data analysis the academy has an unprecedented opportunity to step up and to provide mechanisms for measurement untainted by profit motives.
The entertainment industry is notorious for adjusting its numbers to service an often inscrutable bottom line. And all of us – including everyone who variously produces or consumes media content – have been ill-served by cookie-cutter audience segmentation techniques and panel-based research methods that cannot account for what’s happening in the “long tail” of our global cultural economy. The insidious audience segmentation techniques that valorize age, race, gender and income over every other facet of human identity have contributed to a media system rife with stereotypes about how humans tick. (You can find out more about my thoughts on this in this TED talk.) The awe-inspiring data sets emerging from social media networks offer us the opportunity to understand ourselves, and our engagement with media, in a far more nuanced way.
My vision here? Ultimately, I want media makers to have the resources to make data-driven decisions. Rather than depending on their “gut” and random comments from their kids and colleagues, I want them to grapple with meaningful feedback information that demonstrates how real people have engaged with their work and what effects that interaction has produced.
I also want media makers to have a far more sophisticated and detailed understanding of their audience’s needs, values and taste. For me, it’s an issue of respect. I want our media environment to be respectful and responsive to the needs of global audiences, not just a few prized, but deeply misunderstood, demographic groups.
Looking for a job? The Media Impact Project is hiring! Find out more.
I’m really excited to be a judge for the Core77 Design Awards this year. The marvelous Mariana Amatullo, Co-Founder and Vice President of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design, is our jury chair for the Educational Initiatives category. The deadline is April 10, 2012: so submit now!
This year’s program presents 17 categories of entry, providing designers, researchers and writers a unique opportunity to communicate the intent, rigor and passion behind their efforts. The top professional and student entries receive the Awards trophy and the opportunity to attend a celebration in New York City, and all honorees will be published in the Awards Gallery, across the Core77 online network and in the awards publication. Early registrants receive a limited-edition 2012 poster designed by Studio Lin.
These are the campaigns that touch a cultural nerve; ads that capture or catalyze a cultural movement, moment or event. These campaigns may reflect the popular culture of the web, having gone viral, or celebrate specific regions or global diversity as part of their message. These are ads that are an active part of cultural dialogue in a connected world, crossing borders and cultures.
We put together a pretty long list of candidates – from silly video game ads to a touching long-form piece about the impact of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsusami on the creative community in Japan. Now that TED has announced the winners, I thought I’d celebrate some of the runners-up that we loved.
For those of you who didn’t have the good fortune of encountering “Catvertising” (top) I am delighted to share it with you here. I can’t tell you how many people forwarded this one to me – and with good reason. Kenzo and I were tasked with nominating ads that reflected the popular culture of the Web: no accurate accounting of that culture could ignore the ridiculously robust role that cat videos play.
Be sure to check out the winners of TED’s Ads Worth Spreading challenge. I had a terrific time working with Kenzo Digital on one of the nomination teams, reviewing some of the most cutting edge ads from the last year. Here are two of my favorites from the 10 finalists - I’ll be sure to post some of the terrific nominees that Kenzo and I selected that also deserve some serious kudos.
I had a great time this fall working with video artist Kenzo Digital to identify zeitgeist-defining ads for the TED Ads Worth Spreading initiative. I think ads have a tremendous power to shape cultural dialogue and so it’s worth our while to take a critical look at them and see what kind of story they’re telling us about ourselves. Whether we agree with that story or not, it’s an influential narrative informing opinions (and potentially fueling stereotypes) all around the world.
So I was wondering what kind of story the Superbowl ads might tell us about ourselves this year. Having seen a lot of truly inspiring and technically brilliant ads with Kenzo, my hopes were pretty high. One overarching theme we discovered was an effort to acknowledge the impact – both serious and silly – of the increasing intermingling of our digital and physical lives. Many of the cutting edge ads from last year grappled with the disconnect between the rules of our online lives and the rules that govern our physical bodies. So I was sort of surprised to see so little engagement with these ideas in the hyper-expensive A-list ads that aired during the Bowl. Instead, it was the typical mélange of cute dogs, hot chicks and childish whimsy – in other words, stuff you don’t see on the field during the game.
Clint Eastwood’s somber Chrysler commercial served as a surprising counterpunch to the seemingly endless stream of male fantasy ads – from Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller redux to the sleazy GoDaddy ads that promise a heaven filled with naked chicks and cheap domain names. Any alien tuning into this little snapshot of our popular culture might be tempted to believe the following:
- Men eat their brides
- Women administer head-butts for Greek yogurt
- Kids actually try not to pee in pools
- Kias are sexy
- David Beckham is “misunderstood”
- Doritos can be used as hush money
- We’re still celebrating the demise of Prohibition
Yes, I do want my own private zipline running through Manhattan (though I’d prefer a few in LA). And I wish it were the case that babies could be programmed not to poop, that rainstorms could help people lose weight, and that DMVs would serve ice cream cones. But, boy, I’d be thrilled if some of the most-watched messages in the world told us something more substantial about who we are, where we might be going and why we should give a damn.
I can’t wait for Pacific Standard Time, the massive art-fest extravaganza, to begin to take over 60 art venues in Southern California beginning October 1. I love the fact that they’ve harnessed the youth-skewing rock star appeal of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ frontman Anthony Kiedis to jump-start their marketing effort. In this charming little video, Kiedis drives Pop Art superstar Ed Ruscha around LA, the city they mutually adore. Their discussion about making art out of words as they drive through the texty corridors of Los Angeles is a perfect introduction to the sprawling art scenes of SoCal.
Perhaps my favorite talk at TEDWomen was the one by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. I was prepared to give a talk on social media and when I found out she was in the line-up, and basically providing a keynote for the conference, I was worried that my presentation would feel like stale news by the time I hit the stage during the last session of the last day.
I was relieved when it became clear that Sandberg wasn’t going to talk social media at all: instead, she took the harder road – explaining to a group of successful, driven women why women were still underachieving in global politics and business. The video of her talk has caught on like wildfire and now the venerable New Yorker has published a thoughtful profile of her by Ken Auletta that provides some great food for thought about Sandberg and the future of social media. Read the rest of this entry »
I gave a talk in December 2010 on Social Media & the End of Gender at the first ever TEDWomen conference in Washington, DC. It was an unforgettable event, and I was pretty terrified to find out that I was scheduled to speak right after Madeleine Albright.
I had incredible conversations with people after the talk: I was really worried that people would be very skeptical about my thesis (how on earth would social media bring about the end of gender?) But the hyper-connected audience at TEDWomen didn’t bat an eyelash. “Of course!” they said. Let’s see if you agree . . .
One gift my mother gave me for Christmas this year was a rolled up page from a magazine: it was an Yves Saint Laurent ad for their men’s cologne, L’Homme, featuring one of our favorite hotties, Olivier Martinez. (You remember him, right? The guy that Diane Lane cheated with in Unfaithful? Oooooh yes.) Anyway, a few days later I flipped the page over to find a simmering Vincent Cassel promoting the other Yves Saint Laurent fragrance, La Nuit de L’Homme.
I had just seen the film Black Swan, in which Cassel plays a machismo ballet director who helps drive his frigid star (Natalie Portman) insane by demanding that she portray both the virginal “White Swan” and the naughty “Black Swan” in his production of Swan Lake. Needless to say, the virgin/whore dichotomy is pretty relentlessly pursued throughout the film; a sultry Milan Kunis embodies the sexy swan that our starving heroine can’t seem to summon up for Cassel. Although it’s hard to tell what’s really happening in the film (our heroine is prone to hallucination), I got the impression that Kunis might be the only happy ballerina in Manhattan. She actually enjoys dancing, she parties heartily, and we never catch a glimpse of her throwing up her lunch. God knows we’ve seen tragic virgins before, but happy whores are a rare breed. It didn’t occur to me until I saw these two ads that the new twist we see on the virgin/whore dichotomy in Black Swan is simply the way it would play out if you applied it to men. A male virgin is always tragic (or at least comic). A male whore is the guy every other guy envies.
I have no idea whether YSL has some sort of merchandising tie-in with the film (I noticed in the final credits that Rodarte made all the Swan Lake costumes, which I thought were delicious), but there’s no way they could have used one of the stars of the film without realizing the parallel they’re suggesting. I just wonder if anyone mentioned this to poor Olivier. Does he realize he’s occupying the crazy tragic virgin slot in this tawdry little advertising drama? He was so hot, right? Until now . . .