Friday, January 19, 2007

And Now You Know...The Rest Of The Story.

You have very likely already seen these circa-2003 Reebok TV commercials. I recently watched the entire series of ads again and still find them entertaining, even four years later. Take a look at two of the most popular "Terry Tate - Office Linebacker" spots commentary follows after the jump. Oh, and there is some minor (PG-13) language here so consider yourself warned:

Episode 1 - Terry's World

Episode 2 - Draft Day

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! Hey Office Space fans, did you catch the "...cover sheet on your TPS reports..." line at 1:55 of the first video?

Of course these ads were universally acclaimed, on a critical level (2003 Cannes International Advertising Festival "Golden Lion Award" winner, 2003 Association of Independent Commercial Producers award winner, etc) and by the public (most TiVo-ed commercial, most popular 2003 Super Bowl TV ad according to Wall Street Journal poll, voted Funniest Super Bowl Ad Ever by several Internet surveys), resulting in Reebok also being named Ad Week's Reebok Interactive Marketer of the Year as well as “Marketer of the Year” by Footwear News.

Reebok's Terry Tate campaign was also one of the first significant TV-to-Web crossover success stories. After a nine-year hiatus from advertising during the big game, Reebok released the first Terry Tate spot during Super Bowl XXXVII. The day after the first 60-second spot aired on January 26, 2003 the online version of the ad was being downloaded 20 times per second from the Reebok Web site. There was also a seven-fold increase in Reebok's online store traffic where the company began moving Terry Tate-related merchandise like bobblehead dolls and shirts. By June 2003 over 800,000 visitors had registered at Approximately 12 months after the commercial was first posted online Reebok passed the 20-million download mark for its series of Terry Tate ads.

After the initial success of the Terry Tate campaign, Reebok began using television not as a primary message-communicating medium but instead to channel traffic to its Web site where visitors could participate in various online promotions. For example, before the 2004 Super Bowl Reebok promoted a new Terry Tate spot via teaser ads on MTV that resulted in 250,000 Web site downloads on the first day...without the substantial expense of investing in an actual television commercial during the Super Bowl telecast.

Very interesting indeed. What is most thought-provoking to me however is the back story behind the Terry Tate concept, something I am guessing very few people are aware of or really appreciate...even Reebok’s VP Global Marketing at the time of the Terry Tate campaign described its success as a "complete accident" when asked if he anticipated such a positive outcome.

In 2000, Rawson Marshall Thurber was a USC Film Production student and director wannabe who created his own original short film pilot based on the Terry Tate character. Thurber then spent the next two years trying to sell the concept in partnership with Hypnotic, an LA-based production company. By the time Reebok was contacted, a total of four Terry Tate shorts had been produced, each with an average run time of four minutes. While the Reebok team believed the Terry Tate concept held potential, the realization dawned very quickly that the only suitable venue for running these long-form commercial treatments was online...and an award-winning campaign was born.

This obviously worked out well for Reebok in the end but what about Mr Thurber? Well, since the *overnight success* of his Terry Tate creation, Rawson Marshall Thurber has gone on to direct his first feature film screenplay, a little project called "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" for 20th Century Fox. In addition to directing TV advertising pieces for Right Guard, Toyota and GM Goodwrench he is also currently tapped to bring "Magnum, P.I." to the big screen for Imagine/Universal Studios. Not bad...

The moral of the story? I personally find it inspiring whenever an individual is able to successfully pursue his (or her) dreams and hit it big in their chosen field . The best part though is that now we are solidly in the year 2007 and there is no longer the same necessity to hit the pavement for two years flogging your film concept or television pilot. Anyone with something to say, a decent Web connection and the desire to make it happen for themselves can put their ideas out there for the world to see, possibly becoming the next Rawson Marshall Thurber in the process. Web publishing is a really powerful equalizing factor and viral marketing is definitely the way to go. Yes, I am talking to you out there so what is the holdup? Get ready, get set, go!

Good night and good luck.

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's Fun for the Whole Family!

A couple of innovative concepts for Sony's BRAVIA line of high-definition LCD televisions. Both of them are very well-executed - I especially enjoyed the cinematography in Balls - and effectively communicate the brand's message of "Color".

Sony BRAVIA - Balls Creative (extended 180-second version)

Sony BRAVIA - Paint Creative

I am one of those people who is often more interested in the ads than the programming when watching TV. This drives my wife crazy at times since I either A) decline her requests to click away during commercial breaks when I am in control of the remote, or B) ask her to "go back - quick!" when she channel surfs and clicks past a spot I want to see. As a member of one of those stereotypical Opposites Attract-type couples, she unfortunately does not always share my affinity for all things marketing-related and is sometimes *forced* to watch advertising content I feel I absolutely can't miss.

On the other hand, my daughter is at that wonderful age (2.5+ years) where anything Daddy likes, she likes as well. Having first showed Ava these ads about a month ago, at least once a day lately I am fulfilling her request to "go watch the paint" and we will sit together in front of the computer while she provides running commentary over the on-screen events. I admit this does get stale for me after about the 10th viewing in a session...but then I remind myself these are those special bonding moments that I will sorely miss 14 or so years from now when I am impatiently waiting up in the front room and Ava is late for her 12AM curfew yet another time.

The good news here is that my wife actually really likes the Balls commercial, and for the same reasons I do. She agrees it has excellent visual appeal, loves the 'Heartbeats' music track and enjoys seeing the streets of San Francisco again, a city we visited often while living in the Bay area a few years ago.

I indicated these ads are for the whole family, so what's my son's take on them? Owen is only 16 months and not yet much of a seasoned critic at this point but he does approve of the Tango Clear parody version of Balls. I am guessing this clever clip appeals to Owen on basically the same level as it does to me...I mean, who doesn't appreciate watching a nice big pile of smashed-up fruit roll around in the street?

Best. Joke. Ever.

I should clarify...the title of this post is based on the fact that the corny classic below is my daughter's current favourite. Since Ava does not become a full-fledged 3-year-old for another month and a half she remains a non-discriminating consumer of silly humour. We are getting a lot of mileage out of this one these days. Enjoy!

> Knock, knock
Who's there?
> Banana
Banana who?
> Knock, knock
Who's there?
> Banana
Banana who?
> Knock, knock
Who's there?
> Banana
Banana who?
> Knock, knock
Who is there, already?
> Orange!
Huh? Orange who?
(Wait for it, here comes the big finish...)
Well, orange you glad I didn't say "banana"?

And general hilarity ensues.

Friday, January 12, 2007

MySpace - I Really Just Don't Get It.

OK, have a good laugh watching this video and then read why I think MySpace deserves a Been There/Done That award... (*Warning > mild profanity = possibly NSFW*)

The Kings of Myspace - Myspace Rap Vid

Ha-ha. Full marks to the team behind Kings Of MySpace on concept and execution. As the saying goes, "it has a good beat and you can dance to it" however in my opinion the true entertainment value is that it's funny on multiple levels. While KOM contains some of the corniest rap lyrics on record (eg. "don't even ask for the digits, just get the 3 dubs") there is also humour of the It's Funny Because It's True variety.

Now that I have joined the blogosphere myself I don't want to sound like a hypocrite or hater...but does anyone else besides me ever visit a MySpace page and get a serious flashback to the late-90's? Hmm, it was a little something called Geocities, people! Why is one of the most popular Web sites in the world essentially a modern-day equivalent of the Geocities homepage? Is it because every generation needs something like this to call its own? I might believe that since MySpace is clearly dominated by teens and college students who were only 7 years old back in 1997 when the first Personal Publishing craze took place. I don't really consider it too progressive when 10 years passes and a collection of pages populated with links to My Friends, etc. is hailed by the masses as a major technological and social advancement over a collection of pages with animated gifs of stars and rainbow separator bars.

Oh, the things you can do on the Web. Google came out strong and still rocks. YouTube is an absolutely amazing site. My wife has been buying and selling about one-third of our children's wardrobe on eBay the past few months. There are friends of mine who met and married their life partner via an online personals site. The first really cool job I ever had was the result of my responding to an ad on craigslist and I even have my own LinkedIn profile - which mostly just sits there collecting dust - but MySpace? Two words: bo-ring. Let me know when the relevance of MySpace, Friendster (its predecessor) or even Facebook (the latecomer) matches its popularity, OK?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"No cellphone? No BlackBerry? No e-mail? No way? (It's true.)"

I was doing some digging around for information an upcoming post and came across this intriguing headline linking to the Web site. Despite the source - USA Today is definitely not my preferred reference for insightful commentary - the concept of choosing to be only as *connected* as one feels they need to be really resonated with me. I often observe people succumbing to what I think is mainly societal pressure to be constantly utilizing the latest and greatest personal technology tool. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that...just as long as you are happy with your own personal situation. It is also refreshing though to get a reality check once in a while because there are still many well-adjusted, productive and highly-functional adults in Western civilization who do fine without all the available tech bells and whistles, thank you very much. And once your shiny, expensive toys start weighing you down - literally and/or figuratively - instead of meeting their intended purpose of maximizing productivity then it all gets a little bit silly, doesn't it?

So, read the article for yourself and if you feel so inclined, weigh in with a few words in the Comments section.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised...

A huge fan of almost everything Web-related, I am probably bordering on Luddite territory when it comes to personal technology. I have never owned a PDA (still use an old-fashioned notebook) or Crackberry device (very cool but just never personally saw the need in my case) and the last video gaming system I owned was a Mattel Intellivision, several light years removed from the present-day Xbox or PlayStation experience. I have often referred to any employer-issued cell phone as "my house arrest ankle bracelet" since it was convenient for making spontaneous calls when mobile but also came with the downside of making me available 24/7, effectively eliminating the concept of Personal Time. About 30-40% of the day I am working on a circa-Y2K Dell laptop running Windows NT - *gasp*, not XP! - but do not find it too constraining at all. I did buy my wife an iPod for her birthday a couple of years ago but she uses it far more than I ever do.

All that aside, everyone is talking about the new iPhone and in my opinion the buzz is 100% valid. Apple has done a bang-up job of combining multiple devices into one and of course the user interface is just amazing. Check it out for yourself soon and form your own opinion.

Dr Geeklove...or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

I have now officially been using the Internet since 1995 - that's 12 years for those of you who are math-challenged - and over that time the online experience has been a dominating part of my personal and professional life. Having benefited from using email and the Web on a daily basis as well as working on several technology-related ventures, it's long overdue for me to say "thank you" to the Internet community at guys know who you are. The only thing I’m not really proud of though is as a consistent consumer of various digital resources, I rarely provide much of anything in return. Blame it on laziness, procrastination, some deep-seated Personal Privacy issues or simply a fear of nerdiness but it really doesn’t matter anymore. The point is I am diving in head-first with this blog and finally becoming a full-fledged member of the Internet community myself. Watch out world, because here I am.

Oh, and one more was actually Malcolm's idea.