Big Ideas from a Small World

Moving to C-level pastures.

If your reading this there is a way bigger party in town.

I’ve joined the ranks of the business owners and opened up my own shop – Switch Advertising.

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Or head right to our website and send us comments on the main page though facebook.

To the 10,000+ people who have read this blog thank you.

Marketers who have got it right: TV and Film

Posted in Change Something by Ryan Thomas on July 28, 2009

I have been amazed recently.

Not by the combination of witty picture with funny headline that your average Creative Director wants to see from young creatives book but by the zany consumer first schemes of the movie and television industry.

Seriously. We talk a good game about putting the consumer first but I can’t wait till every product is as daring and as strategic as those of our film and movie marketing brothers.

Right now, this very second the internet is awash in the creation of content to fuel the consumption of content.

Wrap your head around that.

Creating content in a verity of media and public spaces to encourage the consumption of revenue generating content.

Welcome to Hype Machine 2.0

The hit television show Lost brought commercials to a comic con. An event awash in marketing messages. This backwards strategy has payed off large and might never show up at Cannes.

Meanwhile at the San Diego Comic Con Disney created a fully interactive world and photo experience for guests.

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Locally an abandoned Queen Street store front has been converted into a Harry Potter Set for the upcoming film.

These brave souls are rewarding their consumers and honestly making them apart of the experince.

I’ll even admit that I never watched a potter film, or Lost, but both of these experences caught my eye. I’ll consider them in the future.

For to long marketers have acted like the guy with a gutiar at a house party. Demanding the attention of the room and making it impossible to have a conversation. I hate those guys. It’s really hard to charm someone when your fighting with Under the Bridge for the 100th time.

Sometimes when I see great work on the internet, I still can’t shake the feeling that some CD’s are still bringing their gutiar to the party. Sure sometimes it works and you get a sing along most of the time you just still look like a wanker.

If we are commited to social spaces, we need to be commited to the people that make up those social spaces. Put down the gutair and hire an event planner or two – then get really crazy and let them into the creative breif.

Change-vertising: Why it’s ok to make Dungeons and Dragons Jokes

Posted in From Canada, Get High Fives, Global Outlook by Ryan Thomas on May 27, 2009

This morning a good friend of mine and talented writer here in Toronto sent me the following e-mail:

I’ve been reading Goodson’s blogs and articles for days now, and analyzing case studies on the Strawberry Frog site. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the exact notion of Cultural Movements and how you would go about sparking one.
And also how you could project the success of your idea without actually having to execute it in order to sell the idea to a client.

I’m hoping you have some knowledge about this and could provide some insight?

Insight I have. Dental and Medical I do not. So without further ado…

Step 1:

kindling

Think of a closed culture as a log cabin. They are structurally sound, tightly packed and cozy – but above all they keep the outside out. We all belong to closed cultures or have at one time. Your family is a closed culture, your work place, your hobbies and interests make for great closed cultures.

Well before advertisers stumbled onto the idea of starting cultural movements, closed communities have been breeding them. Jazz spawned whole new way of looking at music, addressed racial barriers, and spawned some of the greatest cultural movements of the 20th century. Remember the beatniks were proto-hippies.

Now it’s important to make a distinction here.

Open Cultures are: Represented in mass media

Closed Cultures are: Not represented in mass media

For this example though, we are going to use one of the strangest closed cultures ever to grace North America:

Dungeons & Dragons

In the mid seventies there was nothing quite as geeky or socially ostracizing as Dungeons and Dragons. Groups of young men limited to 5 or 6 would sit in basements and spend entire afternoons fighting imaginary creatures and playing pretend. The game itself worked on a rules system that was totally inaccessible to people outside the community. To purchase books or products you had to find a store, a rare jewel where often the owners knew you by name.

In short if you were a member of this community you felt a sense of belonging and ownership – yet you were also an outcast.

Step 2:

wet

Closed cultures over time build up vocabulary, preferences and commonalities between its members. The stereotypes often associated with the gay community did not start that way. They developed as a cultural short hand. A way of seeing and speaking that told others that you were a member if they also spoke the same short hand.

Skateboarders did the same thing, though were far less persecuted. If you didn’t know what a heel flip was, you did not belong to the community. It was a simple test and you were a tourist.

These communities developed well in advance of the internet and today closed cultures dry much more quickly. Meme’s can now race through a community over night, developing what once took years in a matter of days.

In our Dungeons and Dragons example cultural short hand revolved around the rule system already packaged with the game. A great roll on a 20 sided dice would let a character do amazing things. Members of the culture announcing “I roll twenties” is a kin to rappers promising “I’ll make it rain on these hoes“. Once a closed culture has developed a cultural shorthand, brands have an opportunity to partake in the culture.

Twentiesshirt

Nothing is more tragic than when marketers start fires with wet kindling. Free running never had a chance to really develop before it started appearing in marketers’ pitches. It never got the opportunity to call something it’s own before it was sold back to its members.

Step 3:

trees

So you have a culture that is under represented and perfect for your brand. It has its own shorthand. But how do you know if your culture is big enough to really get a good cultural fire started?

Look for trees around the cabin.

Many people may be associated with a closed culture by virtue of personal relationships. You many never have played D&D yourself but that boy you dated in university did. There were always sharp dice on his floor, his bookshelf embarrassed you at house parties. Or you had a Magic the Gathering phase in high school. You knew some of the terms associated with D&D but never really got involved yourself. In many articles about the death of Gary Gygax one of the founding fathers of Dungeons and Dragons his reach is estimated at 20 million players over 30 years. If the average person has upwards of 100 personal contacts, the question begs to be asked: how did D&D stay out of mainstream media for so long?

The same goes for jazz, street racing, guitar hero and about a million other closed cultures.

Your trees have reach and are well connected, if you start a fire big enough, they burn too and you’ll have a fire lit under the ass of a much larger culture.

Step 4:

spark

Use what you have learned about a culture. Borrow its language and images and bring it to mass.

Why mass media?

In an age where everyone is talking about social media, why would starting a cultural movement be about mass?

The answer is simple: To open a closed community’s doors.

Television represents the collective everyman. Even in a market of 1000’s of specialty channels, if it’s on television or on radio or on the side of a billboard, surely you’re not alone.

The community is bigger than you think.

  • Skateboarding is not a crime.
  • He’s a hip cat.
  • I have a plus one to social rolls.

That’s the best activator of social media you will ever find. Suddenly people are willing to say ‘I did it’ or ‘I used to know someone’. The closed community grows and with it your brand and the connections you have made.

It’s high risk and still requires great creative, but sparking a cultural movement means your brand is no longer simply jumping on trends but helping people to connect and recognizing their passions.

Here are some of the closed communities growing in Toronto today:

  • Fixie Bicycle Riders & Slow Bike Gangs
  • Amateur Burlesque & Sideshow groups
  • Stictch n’ Bitchers & Square Foot Gardeners
  • Web & Indy Comic Readers

Given time any one of these could develop into a brand new touch point to help grow people’s personal interests and your brand.

Happy Rolling D&D Image

More on Toronto’s Billboard Tax

Posted in From Canada, Global Outlook by Ryan Thomas on May 7, 2009

More from Toronto’s Possible Billboard Tax:

torotno

On June 2nd this proposal goes to Executive Committee. From everything I have been hearing there is a really good chance that this may just really happen.

Be ready because your next campaign might be competing for eyeballs with publicly funded art – personally I can’t wait to push my clients towards really creative work.

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More on the Toronto Beautifulcity.ca Alliance

Posted in Blue States, Change Something, From Canada, Make Friends by Ryan Thomas on May 4, 2009

If you needed more reasons to sign the petition check out the organic protest that has been cropping up in NYC, where illegal billboards are being reclaimed by public art.

delete-jilee

If it’s being reported by Creativity Magazine you know it’s timely.

Sustainability in all things ladies and gentlemen.

Art and Advertising In Toronto

Posted in Bookmark PLZ, Change Something, From Canada by Ryan Thomas on May 4, 2009

Frankly I would love too see this project come together.

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The idea is simple, a service charge for billboards which fund local art. Now before you balk at the idea of spending more it’s worth thinking about what you get in return:

Public Art: When visual clutter contains images and works of non-commercial value consumers are rewarded for paying attention.

Engagement: If you have ever been told to dumb down outdoor work – here is your solution. A stimulated and challenged population is actively thinking about what they are seeing.Which means you can advertise more interesting ideas.

Brand Equity: Your clients brand may never be allowed inside the ROM or AGO outside of sponsorship but with art in public spaces the entire city becomes a gallery – with your work hanging right along side.

The Creative Class: There has been a lot of talk about how to attract creative talent for the long term prosperity of the City of Toronto. Prosperity as you are well aware means buying power – this could be a chance for many brands to stop fighting the competition and start growing the market.

I’m sure some of you will balk at the idea of paying for public art -but it worked for VISA. So if you really belive in the art of advertising, jump on board sign the petition, you don’t even have to out yourself on a blog.

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Cannes Young Lion Competition is starting soon! Are you ready?

Posted in From Canada by Ryan Thomas on April 29, 2009

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Need a drink afterwork?

Posted in Going somewhere? by Ryan Thomas on March 4, 2009

Ultra has under gone a revamp a little north of Toronto’s advertising slums. I think you’ll find the decor very creative directors ego chic.

Check it out on thecoolhunter.

Roosters... Is that what the kids are calling them now a days?

Roosters... Is that what the kids are calling them now a days?

Ha creative director jokes. They never get old.

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