Rogue Dairy Queen has been ignoring corporate HQ since 1949

Rogue Dairy Queen has been ignoring corporate HQ since 1949

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July 25, 2015

A ‘Keeping It Real’ Lesson From Elon Musk

For the last few months I’ve been buried neck-high in a book-writing project with some very intelligent, very interesting clients. In the course of researching content for the book I’ve been watching quite a few interviews with various entrepreneurs and industry leaders. (You know you’re a researcher when the makeup of your YouTube recommended videos list takes sudden hairpin turns. They used to recommend videos of kids dancing to Beyonce. Now it’s all Richard Branson and direct mail marketing.)

Anyway, last night I watched this video, featuring Elon Musk being Elon-Musky: all buttoned-down eloquence and even-keeled charisma.

“Authenticity” has become a terrible word, but he has it, and I appreciate it. Listen to what he says from about minute four to eight about navigating a period of acute anxiety. It’s real talk about making a hard decision and a huge investment and then waiting to find out whether the roof is going to fall down on your head or not. Nobody is so intelligent and strategic that they can bypass moments like these.

As the group therapy people say, “Thanks for sharing, Elon.” I really mean it.

[Author: Kristin van Vloten]

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June 10, 2015

Targeting Done Right!

 

I do have to give it up when targeting is done well. I just got the above sponsored post in my Facebook feed and, hey, I am legitimately a woman who goes on lots of outdoor adventures and hangs out with other women who also go on outdoor adventures. For a second, I even considered complying with the post’s call to action because, dang it, I AM inspired by my female friends in outdoor contexts. I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I have ever had such an enthusiastic response to branded content. It certainly helps that my perception of the Arc’teryx brand is quite positive. If Nike posted something similar, I’d be pretty meh. But still! Targeting well done.

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April 22, 2015

Google’s Big-Budget Bid To Become A Star-Maker

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As the word turns and the icecaps melt, so too does Google march inexorably towards Total Media Domination. Since Google purchased YouTube back in 2006, the little video-sharing site that could has developed into a bona fide horseman of Google’s benevolent apocalypse. Now Google/YouTube are angling for a particular kind of distinction: mainstream celebrity for its biggest stars.

Google recently announced that a few of YouTube’s top performers are going to be aggressively marketed on broadcast television, starring in their own top-tier promotional spots and ads. This top 5%, dubbed ‘Google Preferred’, includes chefs, make-up artists, musicians, and pop culture commentators, all producing content attractive and high-budget enough to rise above a morass of home-made kitten videos. The ‘Google Preferred’ label and this high-priced foray into television marketing are all part of a strategy to attract more traditional advertising money into digital video culture. What’s the hope? That the term ‘Internet famous’ will soon become obsolete.  But there’s still some hard slogging ahead. As Wired Magazine reports

Whatever the approach, all of these players are up against the same core dilemma: It’s tough to sell big television advertisers on the very narrow audiences attracted to YouTube. The advertisers like massive hits with broad appeal. They’re often unfamiliar with even the biggest YouTube channels.

It’s fascinating that even though YouTube claims massive amounts of our free time, the medium still lacks that feel of legitimacy. YouTube stars are household fixtures without being household names. Perhaps the control users exercise over video content—clicking rapidly down rabbit-holes of entertainment options—simply makes YouTube feel more like a self-made adventure than a voice of authority. Can YouTube tell us who the stars are, delivering those Special People to us on half-shells of celebrity packaging? When you flick on a television, the voice of mass culture engages you in a boomingly one-sided conversation, while everything about the YouTube experience reinforces the sense that you are embedded in the process. I’d wager that even the physical sizes of our entertainment devices—the monolithic television looming over the family room versus the mobile device you cradle in your hand—create different associations of authority and agency.

It will be interesting to watch this dance between Internet-based entertainment and mainstream media. This is perhaps television’s last days as a colossal power-broker of celebrity. It seems our notions of cultural authority (and the advertising dollars that follow them) need only catch up with our actual viewing habits. Google is ready to help us along.

[Author: Kristin van Vloten]

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          Google unveils the latest Venus on prime-time television

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May 21, 2014