That became shorthand for the most provocatively-produced and placed TV commercial in the 20th century. The company was Apple Computer and the :60 spot which ran in the SuperBowl was called "1984."
Once upon a time just the opposite of the Orwellian nightmare was true. Apple's "1984" represented the brand each of us could call our own.
- "1984" was ours versus Big Brother's.
- "1984" was the way of the future.
- "1984" gave us permission to think different.
(Click above to see the :60.)
These days it seems though that "1984" has begun to act more and more like 1984. Apple has become more Big Brother-like than ever before. They are connoting an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including a form of what Orwell referred to as the "unperson" -- a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory.
In this case Apple is now "unbranding" the hard work established by other companies and rebranding their "borrowed" brand names as if they were their own, without the permission of the brands they are ripping off.
As you will read, how they do it is brilliant.
With the introduction of the iAd, "1984" is no longer discus-throwing its sledgehammer-like power at the screen of big Brother. It is at small entrepreneurial companies such as Innovate Media who federally trademarked its iAds name two years before.
As background, located in Orange County, CA Innovate Media has created a state of the art Rich Media video ad technology solution for a wide range of top tier companies such as, Experian, Real Networks, LegalZoom, ditech and Canon among others.
In 2006 the company began working under the iAds name. They federally trademarked the name in two classes and received the trademarks in 2008. However, Apple recently announced their platform for advertising and has called it the iAd. Smack dab in the middle of what Innovate iAds does, "1984" is in direct violation of Innovate's trademarks with no experience at all in selling advertising.
Their CEO, John Cecil, a former Yahoo executive with a Steve Jobs-ian-like vision all his own would like to resolve this trademark infringement quickly - though nobody from Apple has even contacted him. Apple's announcement has been very disruptive to Mr. Cecil's business. They are a small company and have been working hard to successfully make a name for themselves in this space.
None of this is much concern apparently to Apple. Click below to view Steve Jobs' introduction of iAd, which he refers to iAds more than a few times.
Recently Apple has received a lot of bad press off the "stolen" iphone incident. It has raised some Big Brother concerns with consumers. Click on Jon Stewart below to get the entire story.
There have been three trademark infringement cases, settled by Apple over the past few years. All cases follow a similar and consistent pattern:
1. Apple music (Beatles) vs. Apple (Apple logo) - settled by apple in 2007 ( they purchased the trademarks)
2. Cisco vs. Apple (iphone) - settled with Cisco in 2007 (co-use of the trademark)
3. Futijsu vs Apple (ipad) - settled in 2010 (purchased the trademark)
1. Apple music (Beatles) vs. Apple (Apple logo):
In 1978, Apple Corps (The Beatles-founded record label and holding company) filed suit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The suit settled in 1981 with an undisclosed amount being paid to Apple Corps, later revealed to be US$80,000. As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business. In 1991, after the introduction of the Apple IIgs, a computer with an Ensoniq music synthesizer chip, which Apple Corps alleged to be in violation, another settlement of around US$26.5 million was reached, and Apple Computer agreed that it would not package, sell or distribute physical music materials.
In September 2003, Apple Computer was sued by Apple Corps again, this time for introducing iTunes and the iPod which Apple Corps believed was a violation of the previous agreement by Apple not to distribute music. The trial opened on March 29, 2006 in the UK. Judgement was issued in favor of Apple Computer on May 8, 2006. "I find no breach of the trademark agreement has been demonstrated," the presiding Justice Mann said.
On February 5, 2007, Apple Inc. and Apple Corps announced a settlement of their trademark dispute under which Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to "Apple" and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. The settlement ends the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes. The settlement includes terms that are confidential.
2. Cisco vs. Apple (iphone):
On January 10, 2007, Cisco Systems filed a lawsuit against Apple, standing that Apple's iPhone infringed on their iPhone trademark. The two companies were in negotiation to allow Apple the rights to use the name, although the meetings came to standstill when Cisco pushed for the two products to be interoperable. Cisco has alleged that Apple subsequently created a front company to try to acquire the rights another way. Following the public unveiling of the iPhone at the 2007 Macworld Expo, Cisco filed the lawsuit. Apple claimed that there will be no confusion between the two products, and that their iPhone is the first cell phone with such a name, Cisco's "iPhone" being a VoIP phone. On February 21, 2007, Cisco and Apple announced an agreement under which both companies would be allowed to use the iPhone name worldwide.
3. Futijsu vs Apple (ipad):
Fujitsu did not yet have a registered trademark for "iPad" when it made it's deal with Apple. Fujitsu filed an intent-to-use trademark application with the USPTO back in 2003. Fujitsu actually abandoned the application in April 2009. Then, the application was revived shortly thereafter, and was then published for opposition in September of 2009. Apple thereafter requested successive extensions to oppose the registration, starting in September of 2009 until the application was assigned to Apple by Fujitsu in March 2010. The application still has not matured into a registration, and other owners of iPad registrations (for various other products) may try to challenge Apple. We'll see. No action was filed in court, but it appears as though Apple and Fujitsu had been in discussions for many months, if not longer.
There is a similar pattern in all these cases where they are infringing on another companies trademark:
1. Apple makes efforts to register trademarks outside of the United States.
2. There is usually a couple of years of push back / denial that the trademark is being infringed upon.
3. Usually there is some sort of settlement / co-use of the mark.
Apple's filing of an iAd trademark in Canada follows the same pattern. They are gunning up to contest this / go after Innovate. If history is any indication, next should come denial.
That said, times have changed. Stay ituned.
Technically Cory Treffiletti calls it the "Digital Influentials," yet to those who know him and read his newsletter regularly it's got his name all over it. As a result, we're delighted that we'll be bringing it to you, beginning today and every month in Twenty Ten.
Cory and I crossed paths years ago at i-traffic, an energetic young digital media shop which had already acquired experience in "acquisition" and "lifetime value" at a time when most others were didn't know what HTML stood for. It was a culture that created the term, "portal;" a process that wrote the book on ROI/performance-based marketing and a place where you worked as hard as hell and dug every moment of it.
Under the leadership of Scott Heifferman and partners, the company was morphed into today's Agency.com. Consider that Scott went on to create MeetUp.com. This is but one outgrowing indication of i-traffic's culture; bonds of friendship and trust which will live infinitely longer than i-traffic's name. (For the record "i-traffic" is in my opinion still one of the coolest agency brand names ever invented.)
Today Treffiletti is president of CatalystSF, a company which knows as much about Silicon Valley it does Silicon Alley. He is joined by a number of talented executives, including friend & CEO, John Durham. Together they have created the industry's leading marketing capital firm.
Please welcome Cory! - Tim McHale
Digital Influentials Volume 2, Issue 1: Welcome to The Machine (2010)!
On behalf of all the Digital Influential's that have a hand in this column may I wish you a warm welcome to 2010, or what I lovingly refer to as "The Year Of The Machine".
The phrase "Welcome To The Machine" can generate many different images for people, but in my eyes it rekindles memories of the classic Pink Floyd album "Wish You Were Here". That's the dual theme for this week; "Welcome To The Machine" that is digital media and "We Wish You Were Here", for those of you that are missing the boat!
2010 signals our entrance into a new decade and this decade will bring about the inevitable; that online will become the number one medium for advertisers and consumers alike. Just think what happened in the last ten years, from 2000 through 2009. We shifted quite dramatically from Y2K fears to the world evolving into one big data cloud! Smart-phones are the norm and net-books the size of a Hardy Boys novel are all the rage! It's safe to say that once marketers understand the investment they're making and the impact they can truly have if they do it correctly, that the chips will fall and Television will no longer be alone upon the mountaintop. The Machine is rolling along and the forward momentum can no longer be stopped.
This week's column we focus on just a few of the companies and services we've uncovered recently who're leading the charge and driving the machine. They may be small now, like "two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl", but they're on the right trajectory for growth!
Have you ever needed a personal assistant to let you know about a conference call and keep you on schedule, but realized you can't afford one? If so, check out POKETY POKE (http://www.poketypoke.com/). Cody Duval called it out this week and it's great! Register and send them your conference calls via email and 5 minutes before the call they send you an email and then call you on time with the conference call already lined up! It's like a digital concierge for conference calls!
Is it sometimes hard to tell, "heaven from hell, blue skies from pain"? If so, I'm really sorry about that... but once you get past telling "a green field from a cold steel rain" you should check out LISTORIOUS (http://listorious.com/).
Listorious pulls together all the best Twitter lists and makes it easy for you to sign up and follow them. Managing Twitter lists is a blessing and a curse because they can make it easy, but where do you start? You start at Listorious!
Are you "running over the same old ground? What have you found"? I found GOWALLA (http://gowalla.com/). The location-based app space is hot right now with players like FourSquare, and here comes GoWalla into the fray, providing a way to share your location and discover things to do wherever you may be. The category is quite interesting to me and I'm excited about the potential for local advertisers, so check them out and see where they go.
Ahhh, email groups. "Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun"! Well, email groups have become a bit bland, until the arrival of GROUPLY (http://www.grouply.com/). Email has been a pretty stagnant area of the web for a few years now, but Grouply is trying to reinvigorate the category by making groups sexy again! Now your groups can have social features that integrate them into the rest of your day!
From the world of the iPhone apps... I can't possibly go without mentioning the new PEARL JAM app. They put together a great one, and they regularly cover "Interstellar Overdrive" (not on the same album, but still Pink Floyd nonetheless). Also check out WINE.COM and TAXI MAGIC - you make the connection!
That's it this week; rock on and enjoy the Machine!!
By Paul McEnany
It's getting late in the year. 2009 is almost upon us and you know what that means. Once the Times Square ball drops, your best talent may be looking towards the door.
Do you run an agency? Pull up a chair. You better sit down. Here are a few things that everyone at your shop would like to tell you, but won't. Why? Because they're afraid that if they do, they'll get fired. What they don't realize about you (that I do) is that you're really smart. I know that. You know that. Now let's make sure they know that.
Consider these few suggestions as you wrap up the year and plan for a great 2009:
1. Pick a fight...with Yourself and the CFO.
Nothing unifies a team like a rallying cry, the loud hoot and holler of an "us versus them" mentality. Make your team feel like an "us" versus you as "the them". This means spreading the wealth. People can imagine how much you are making. They can hear it too when you tell them about your last minute excursion to Paris for the weekend. Pay people more. It's amazing what a little more scratch can do. You'll get more results. Talent is getting more expensive. Realize that now before you lose your "A" team and then be in the position of having to pay even more to attract another one from outside.
But it's still not that easy. For us in advertising, there may be some idea, some foothold that may be restraining your ability to change a deeply entrenched way of thinking. Make that behavior your enemy. Let your team know that you are doing so. Boldly destroy whatever dogma holds you down. Of course, if this is your objective, pick an idea worth battling.
A team only fights for a leader who tells the truth. Doing so with you team shows them you respect them. That will make a huge difference.
2. Move from task-oriented to responsibility-driven.
Punch the clock. File reports. Write a semi-creative brief. Make a spreadsheet. And on, and on... Change the way you may have been looking at them, as machines, This has the added aspect of making them feel that you no longer commoditize them and their jobs. You don't like it. Neither do they.
What is the responsibility that comes with the goal? Allow them to accomplish it, however they see fit. Processes are great, and sometimes they save a little time, and maybe even a little money, but if you over-process, if you continue to remove the chance of screwing up, you may actually end up doing so. Chill out a little. You may be blown away when you see the work you get back. And that's the first thing you should be hoping for, some surprise from innovation. What a concept!
Fundamentally, our business is to sell ideas, and if you've over-processed your office this year into some robotic machine you can also revert it back to the idea factory it was supposed to be.
3. Give them time to think.
If you've bred middle managers to hover over team members, making sure they're not surfing the net, engaging in office chatter, or even sitting back in their chair for a good stare at the ceiling, you may actually be robbing your team of the intuition and inspiration that motivates them. Be counter-intuitive to what the bean-counters say. What do they know about creativity anyway?
Google, the grandmaster of innovation, will allow your team members to get more work done in one fifth of the time. That translates into one day a week to work on projects of their own choosing. Become dedicated to improvement, to innovation, and even more, to inspiration. Did you do that this year? Is your plan to do it next?
The larger issue is the question of whether or not your team is intellectually exhausted. If you hired them because of their talent, have you sucked it out of them or have you made a platform to have it shine even more? Have a little faith in yourself and in them that you made the right choice. Watch them as they breed good ideas next year instead of you "telling" them to do so. If you're so good a manager, set it up so that you're constantly impressed and surprised by your team's brilliance. Anything else in this hyper-competitive environment is the last thing you can afford.
4. Create a bigger goal/Surprise them!
Remind them that their jobs are actually about something even greater than money; that they're about your team's, your client's and your client's customer's lives, everyday. And get this, make everyone believes it! Make sure every employee feels the love. Prop them up in some tangible way. You're smart, right?
Would you ever try to dup them with some fake blog? Would you ever send out another spam email, or stuff another mailbox full of trash without asking? Humor works. If you do, make sure they know it's a joke. If you want to be surprised, surprise them!
Think about charities. Find a cause. Do some things that you've never done before, Offer something unexpected. Next year, refine your mission and constantly push your people to think past the numbers. The money will flow freely when your goals are pure. Let them know you believe that as much as you say it.
5. Make innovation a job requirement
What system do you have in place to reward innovation? There are plenty of systems to make sure your people are getting the job finished, but if you want to grow your shop, you can't be singularly concerned to only do the things you've done well before. Constantly push yourself to do better, to find new ways to reach consumers. Trust me, there are more now than ever before. Make it easy for ideas to be shared, and the good ones to rise to the top.
Now, after you've rewarded these great ideas, implement them. Having the guts to actually follow-through will inspire your team members to keep creating, to follow your lead to keep reaching for those higher goals.
6. Make everyone just a little uncomfortable
There's something to be said for job security, but there's even more for chutzpah. Putting the attention on both good team members and bad team members exacts the best results. The talented ones flourish while the losers leave. Comfortable team members sometimes slow their motor, stop innovating, stop reaching and driving. You see it. Don't stand for it. You want them to be hungry, tenacious, crawling and scratching towards the goal. Don't be afraid to make changes. Yes they can be unpopular, except if the changes are the ones that get the talented folks more excited. The heck with everyone else.
Now, that's not to say you should fire at will, just to prove a point or to scare the others. We're not talking about fear-mongering. It's really just a function of your ability to see and reward talent. Only enlist people that make you just a little scared yourself so they'll be better at your job than you are, and require the same all the way down the line.
We call this good fear. It can lead to greatness which ultimately becomes exponential. David Ogilvy once said, "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants."
Agencies are finally getting it in this new era. Your competition is much attune to these issues and will be more next year. Both agencies and advertisers have been a little slow in the last cycle to keep up with consumer interests and new lifestyles of collecting and sharing information. Advertising is not a prerequisite. Offer more. Starbucks didn't become Starbucks on the back of Ogilvy or Bernbach, and Apple didn't change the course of pop-culture by taking the advice of Bogusky or Burnett.
The only way to remain relevant in a world increasingly distrusting of us will be to constantly inspire, to constantly innovate, and to never stop trying to change the world. It may seem a little grandiose, but small men and small ideas aren't what consumers crave. They want to experience inspiration in ways they never have before. "Be" the solution.
Wake up. It's all about you; your ability to lead. Begin now. Act as if it's a new year today, before it's New Years Day.
About the author:
Paul McEnany is a populist marketer, developing strategies and conscientious marketing programs that build lasting relationships with consumers. He's an expert in participatory media, with experience in traditional marketing and account planning.
He is currently Director of Content at Dallas, TX-based Levenson & Hill, and has experience in online creative strategy, copywriting, online media strategy, planning and buying, search planning and buying, email marketing strategy and implementation, and social media strategy. At L&H, Paul has been able to delve into the core of what good strategy is, how to bring it to life, and ultimately how to sell it. McEnany has worked with companies such as Aaron Brothers, Greatwide Logistics Services, Gordon's Jewelers and Church's Chicken to design cutting-edge interactive programs.
Paul is author of HeeHawMarketing.com, one of the top 25 marketing blogs in the world, according to Technorati. It is also considered one of AdAge Digital's Top 150 marketing blogs on the globe. Mr. McEnany also contributes to BeyondMadisonAvenue.com and the MadAve Journal.
A graduate of the University of North Texas in 2005 with a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Advertising, Paul interned (or shadowed as he refers to it) for the Richards Group and Tracy Locke before joining L&H full-time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Wendy McHale
How many of you know the name, Samuel B. Ruggles? Should you?
Well, yes. And if you review his record here, you may then agree that he is the most unsung advertising hero of Madison Avenue. Why is that? He founded, built and named it. That's why!
According to The New York Times, they predicted that his legacy would make him one of the towering figures in the history of the 19th century. On March 9, 1867, they reported, "It is probable, in fact certain, that Mr. Ruggles will have a foremost place among American representatives..."
Question: Did he create the tributes we know today as Madison Square Park, Madison Square Garden and Madison Avenue for James Madison, or for Madison's party-loving and social butterfly wife, Mrs. Dolley Madison?
A well-connect Yale-educated attorney with interests in education, commerce, politics, real estate development and international trade, Ruggles was a true renaissance man. Having a touch of the poetic artistic spirit in him, the only touchable remnant that he left of himself was a lock of his hair, safely stored away well protected at The New York Public Library archives. Upon careful study, he also left a wealth of speeches, papers and books that back up The Times' estimate of his impact on this country.
So why is he virtually unknown today in our fair city and the industry we call Madison Avenue? From all appearances, it looks like this was by design. He wanted it that way. Imagine that, the founder of Madison Avenue specifically shied away from the limelight!
The irony is that he operated as "the guy behind the guy, behind the guy." His desire to avoid press was only interrupted by a well-covered voyage to Paris the paper of record (even then) wrote about as he represented the US on currency valuation agreements.
History also credits him for naming Lexington Avenue, "Lexington Avenue." If he were around today, imagine the buzz "on the street" and gossip that would follow Mr. Ruggles every where he would go. His name would no doubt clutter Page Six endlessly.
Ruggles was the Donald Trump of his time. He founded, developed and both built both Grammercy Park AND Union Square, yet as compared to our esteemed Mr. Trump his name is nowhere on any of his or our most precious public or private landmarks. So did Ruggles named Madison Avenue to honor (some say promote) Mr. (or Mrs.) Madison, and if so, why do you suppose he did it?
Today his vast knowledge of the financial markets as well as his penchant for philanthropy would rival Mr. George Soros. One thing we do know, judging from his published works and listing of speeches and papers on matters of great importance in the city and country, he was outspoken.
Like Madison Avenue, he was controversial. His efforts creating and naming Madison Square Park and Mad Ave in honor of a sitting president went contrary to American sensibilities at the time. With only 10 years passing from America's last and final war with Britain (War of 1812), Ruggles' actions were seen as distinctly English, which at the time was akin to being called a terrorist. In essence, Madison Avenue's founding began as counter-cultural controversy.
The Madison name drapes the park and our precious business. Though Ruggles may have had an ulterior motive; to impress another, Dolley, a brand then and perhaps by destiny 200 years later, a brand now. Dolley Madison was uniquely American and clearly worthy of being honored. No other first lady was demonstrably as brave as she; running back into a burning White House set fire by the British to save the only remaining portrait of George Washington.
Like her brilliant husband, she literally and figuratively had her hands all over the US Constitution! Could Ruggles have that much insight to see that Dolley's legacy would live on as much as Mr. Jame? He certainly saw Dolley's love of networking up close!
Given her love for parties and socializing (which MadAve culture was once known to enjoy), is it any wonder that Dolly Madison lives on today as a brand of cupcakes, yummy, festive fixtures among the Happy Meal set.
No other First Lady has had quite as much mass appeal-like selling power as she. Other than JackieO or Betty Ford, it begs the question whether other first ladies have been inadvertently overlooked as possible brand icons!
Where was Ralph Lauren during the Nixon administration? Why was the world deprived of the potential hit success of the Pat Nixon line lounge pajamas? Will it soon be time for Famous Amos to add a Hillary Clinton Cookies line extension? How about a Rosalyn Carter Mrs. Peanut? Hmmm...
No doubt Ruggles must surely have known that James Madison would go down in history as the most famous copywriter of all time. If historians could have missed Ruggles' prominence, we wonder if other advertising-based connections were also overlooked.
For example, is it possible that there was a "Madison, (Al) Hamilton and (John) Jay Ad Agency"? After all, these three gents produced one of the most effective brand positioning and media planning/buying campaigns of all time. We're talking about "The Federalist Papers" which everyone on this list is well aware of (yeah, right.) But seriously, The Fed Papers was the newspaper ad campaign that sold-in the creation of the US Federal Government! We kid you not.
Clearly these three ad guys brainstormed in the packaging. Like the creation of Ronald McDonald they also created a fictional spokesperson named "Publius" who was credited for their work.
Publius was essentially the 18th century Mr. Whipple, though Mr. Whipple was ultimately known for another kind of paper. How much is "Publius" so much different from the Pillsbury Dough Boy (a near competitor to Dolly Madison Today?)
Are we mis-interpreting history as much as consumers misunderstood Ford's Edsel?
Did you know that Madison and company were up against stiff competition, similar to virtually all brands today? In fact, the Federalist Papers were challenged by anti-federalists.
However, they did not do their homework research-wise. Beginning by calling their own campaign "the Anti-Federalist Papers," they also created a fictional writer named, "Brutus," a name immortalized by Shakespeare, who today is a less than desirable fictional character. "The Anti-Federalist Papers"
Maybe Ruggles was simply acknowledging the aura of Dolley and Jim. Maybe in his own mind, he saw himself as a judge of the first Media All Stars competition. With a little research, one will find that "Publius" ran a total of 80 articles or insertions.
Here's some info about that historical media effort. Our analysis indicates that Madison and company took a "compression strategy" focusing 100% of the activity in just 3 New York City papers (similar to the WSJ, NYT and NYPost) of its day.
The Anti-Federalists, using the "Brutus" brand ran just as many articles/insertions, yet ran 100% of them outside of New York, in the 15 B-level markets of the era. For real...
Is there some truth then that the destiny of the USA had as much to do with media plan strategy as well as for the creative content? We'll never know for sure... though it does make one wonder.
What we do know is that Ruggles, the founder of Madison Avenue also co-founded America's first "e-commerce channel." Back then they referred to it as the Erie Canal, the 18th century version of today's broadband. He also was instrumental in the growth of the Railroad industry, America's first "hardware" industry and helped create the US's first media metrics system when he produced at report as a Delegate to the International statistical congress at Berlin, on the resources of the United States, and on a uniform system of weights, measures and coins!
He was also the inventor of Corn Flakes based on his Report on cereals: The quantities of cereals produced in different countries
Not long before he retired, he acted as the first "Capitalist Tool" when he decided to take his vision out to the world; on a scale similar to the late great Malcolm Forbes himself. He was truly remarkable and a most energetic evangelist when he sailed to "The Old World" as described by The New York Times illuminate the robust nature of America at that time.
In light of the fact that Sammy Ruggles and The Madisons had such an amazing impact in the world's communications and commerce businesses, it's actually quite odd that he has remained almost virtually unknown today.
Think about all the chest beating that agencies, brands and celebrities do today. Have all the "roll-ups" had a positive effect among MadAve players? Has consolidation made our business much more fun and added to more creativity? We would suggest it has made our MadAve more cynical.
The greed of the last cycle creating these agency monoliths seems less like Madison's Publius and more like Brutus. We wonder what Ruggles and the Madison's would say about their fair lane if they were here today. Dolley surely would be disappointed that our thirst for partying has diminished. Gone are the 3 martini lunches. Now 95% of people eat at their desks. How boring!
On Ruggles' last sail to Paris on the French Steamer, "Periere" the The New York Times published this about our fair MadAve founder, Mr. Ruggles has labored with untiring zeal to secure a proper representation of the Western World in this grand fair of all nations; he has devoted his time to the task of arousing public interest and enlisting public action in the enterprise and now goes out with renewed determination to give the Old World something like an accurate idea of the vast wealth, energy, physical and social power of the Western Continent."
David, Leo and Bill could not have expressed it better.
Maybe Ruggles knew even back then that when you live by the media, you die by the media. Then as now, attention and celebrity-hood is fleeting, which is perhaps why he named Madison Avenue after one of greatest man of letters, who ironically was as shy and wallflowerish as his wife was gregarious.
After almost 150 years after he set sail, this might be the time to dust off his thoughts, actions and papers. Timing is everything. Who can think of a better time than now? Will our glorious "Advertising Week" take a look back beyond :30 to investigate what made this business great?
At the end of his day, in spite of the controversy that created Madison Avenue - by aiming all the attention at Mr. and Mrs. Madison - Ruggles was really a romantic as well as the ultimate MadAve tactician. James Madison could easily be compared to today's Charlie Brown. There's no question that Dolley would easily relate to Lucy.
Well, there's no one left but Snoopy - and like Ruggles, he was the quietest one - with the greatest imagination of all!
Alicia Keys is on the phone for you!
Oh wait. That's just your ringtone.
You may have gotten that tone from your wireless provider. Or maybe you joined Jamster -- and for 10 bucks a month you get 6 ringtones, 10 graphics and 4 games. How about Unlimited Ringtones? Same price, but all 500,000 ringtones are yours. (How long would that take to download?)
These companies are aggressively on the lookout for customers. They would be good ones to watch if you're a marketer tentatively stepping into new media. Note the different offers and see which company blinks first.
Think about it. Who were the first companies to make money on the Internet? Was it Amazon? Was it Pets.com? Home grocery delivery companies?
Of course not. It was guys running the porn and gambling sites who figured out how to make the Internet pay. Literally. They found ways to get real money out of some poor schlub's checking account -- and into their own -- by moving bits and bytes around.
Big companies like Coca-Cola or GM don't have a way to find new customers on the Web -- in fact, finding new customers that way probably doesn't make sense for them. They look for ways to engage their current customers in a safe way. So it's now possible, for example, to download a Sprite game to your phone if you've gone to the trouble of finding the company Web site.
But if you're not marketing an enormous Fortune 100 company, you might want to find new customers some way besides Super Bowl commercials. (Yes, I pick on Super Bowl advertisers a lot. It's like a reflex. I can't help it.)
If you aspire to grow, you might want to pick up on the tactics of fringe players like the folks who sell ringtones . . . the people who market via SMS . . . the hungry affiliate marketers . . . the marketers who live by their wits, not their well-established brands.
These are the companies that live on the margins. They rely on the infrastructure of bigger players. Ringtone sellers depend on wireless service providers and handset manufacturers for their platforms. They get in and work every angle as hard as possible -- before the fad passes away or someone bigger sees they're making money and grabs their niche or (sometimes) before legal issues crop up.
They are street smart in a way no big brand can be anymore. So, if you're thinking about ways to take advantage of new media, for example, these are the people to emulate.
Of course, fringe players -- the ones who skim along the surface of what bigger companies have built -- aren't the only early adopters of new media. It makes sense if you're building a new company from scratch. That's when you have the opportunity to implement a new business model. And you can use new and different ways to market yourself, too.
Consider Netflix. They had a great idea for renting videos and they rewrote the rules by using what was, at the time, new media -- the Internet. They built their distribution system from the ground up (unless you count the US Postal Service) and rocked Blockbuster to the core.
Insurance companies like GEICO didn't use any new media. But because they rewrote the rules, and sold direct instead of through brokers, they freed up cash to buy the old media that traditional insurance companies couldn't make pay.
Got any ideas like that for mobile marketing? Now's your chance. Take your shot. You can't always play it safe. No matter how big or small you are.
Spyro Kourtis, president of Hacker Group, oversees his agency's strategic planning and relationships with a number of Fortune 500 clients including AAA, Expedia, Hilton Hotels, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, MSN, Oracle, VISA, Washington Mutual, WebEx and World Vision. He is publisher of High Performance Direct. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Wendy McHale
With so much funding now flowing into the new media space, it's rare that a new technology is conceived in say, a garage like Apple Computer. The days of scratching out the next billion $$ tech firm on a paper napkin are over.
So when we met Rob Riopelle of LiveHive Systems at ad:tech we were delighted to learn that his new company was conceived by a group of grammar school and college buddies in, of all places, a bar!
SpeedofSport.com is a peer-to-peer live action sports experience. It turns sports stats upside down. Instead of checking your scores, you predict them, in real time, play after play after play. Then cut to the commercial. Let's cut to the interview which Tim had with Rob after they met.
Tim: Let's begin with a general overview of Live Hive systems -- how it began, where it is now and where you would like it to go.
Rob: Live Hive was conceived at a bar!
Tim: You're kidding!
Rob: It's true. Some friends and I were having some drinks and watching a football game. We were sitting there talking, and someone said "Oh, I bet you he makes this field goal kick" and someone else said "There's no way he's going to make this pass."
Rob: All of a sudden we realized that a lot of people probably make predictions all the time when they're watching a game or any other type of competition on TV. That's how the idea was conceived. We quickly realized that once we created this 2-screen interactive platform, it could apply to other programs like reality TV or award shows. Our vision is - in the long run - that our games will become a part of almost every live TV show and in the future, even reruns with some technologies we're working on.
Tim: But sitting around a bar talking about a great idea and making it happen are two separate things. Clearly the people around the bar talking knew how to do some programming. Tell me about the team that took that idea and brought it to life.
Rob: Well, of course we have quite a few engineers here. We put together a great technical team, including people from Microsoft and IBM, just to name a few of the bigger companies we recruited from. The people we brought in have a lot of background in interactive large-scale projects. It's important to have that background when you have an application like this because you can potentially have hundreds of thousands of people playing at the same time.
Tim: I agree.
Rob: In terms of the tool itself, for the end user it's easy and very intuitive. Let's say you're watching TV and you're on your laptop or your cell phone. All of the sudden you get prompted with events. Is it going to be a run or a pass? Who's going to win best male vocalist? It's all synchronized with the TV show you're watching. But on the back-end, making all of that work and actually synchronizing it in real time is very complex. The tool pushes what's possible, so the way it's designed becomes very crucial so the product works, as opposed to it crashing or users not having a great experience.
Tim: Did all of you conceive the idea before you were actually able to enlist all the people with the background that you mentioned?
Rob: Yes, because to take it from an idea to the first proof of concept takes quite a bit of time. It took many long nights and weekends of our own time to gather the proof that this could be done and to gather the economics and the business model behind it. Once we formalized the proof and saw we could do what we wanted, we brought together the resources to turn it into a real company.
Tim: Did you grow up with any of your partners?
Rob: Well I knew two of them. One since grade three and one since high school but it's actually funny because we all went our own ways when we hit college/university. We all basically all split up and then later on were reunited and we did this.
Tim: That's great.
Rob: We are all engineers of varying disciplines from systems design to computer engineering and software engineering. All of us have a real passion for technology and sports, and as we pulled into the interactive TV space it's been a great fit for all the people involved. We all have a special skill set that allows us to function in our current role and gives us the best overall return for the company. I'm not sure how it happened to work out, but the positions we landed in are not by chance.
Tim: Tell me about the game itself. It's based on the premise of NanoGaming. Explain to me what that is because I'm sure a lot of people are not familiar with the term.
Rob: Well, within each of the games that make up Speed of Sport, there are smaller pieces of the game, so the predictions occur more frequently. Since the tool actually synchronizes your computer with the live event on television, the player is making predictions in real time, as soon as there is a challenge. For example, say the challenge involves walking across a beam. The player has the opportunity to predict who is going to fall off first. Or, say, will Chuck swear as he usually does when he falls off the beam? The game is fun because it allows players to make predictions based on their knowledge of a sports game or reality TV, for example. That's the premise of NanoGaming.
Tim: As you said earlier, it sounds simple but clearly it's not, so how do you program it?
Rob: The system we've made is a platform that has modules for each event. With baseball there's quite a bit of modeling that's involved in the game so we have high levels of automation. We have people watching the games and inputting basic information. The system then translates into prediction opportunities. We do that for each one of the events, whether it's sports, reality TV, some sort of game show or an election. Our system is modeled to be aware of all kinds of things and then - based on the operator's simple inputs - it resolves and creates prediction opportunities.
Tim: So instead of a play-by-play, you're doing a pre-play-by-play, raising questions about specific live events.
Tim: Are there any completely automated games?
Rob: The games are highly automated with regard to the predictions and resolutions we create. The only part that's not automated is the operator controlling the synchronization of the at-home experience. He's just putting in basic information that's happening in the game, like he hit a home run or he hit a double, and then based on that, the system sets up the next set of predictions and resolves previous ones.
Tim: Let's say in the 2nd quarter you have baseball, basketball, hockey, and all the college games going on. As I understand it, you have someone overseeing each game?
Rob: Yes, that's actually what happens. We have something in our operations center similar to a call center. Because of the high levels of automation on the systems side we don't have to have people who are well trained or familiar with the system. We bring in college students or those who are highly competent and you can quickly teach them the system. There's not a lot of room for error for them to make. They can quickly ramp up on the system and become basically 100% on it. As popularity grows, we'll just bring on more people as we support more and more events. Right now, we have the capacity to support over 20 games simultaneously, so it's far beyond what available or what happens on a typical day.
Tim: These are essentially moderators.
Rob: Yes, in a way. They are the ones who are keeping it moving. They are not making any choices themselves. They make sure things go smoothly.
Tim: Do you think it's all debugged at this point?
Rob: Yes, we've actually been running this now for a little over a year. We had it up on our Speed of Sport website, www.Speedofsport.com. We actually supported the whole NFL season previous to the last season. We had almost 100% of the games supported. That was the final prove-out of the system for customers who were evaluating it.
Tim: How many people have been playing Speed of Sport?
Rob: Throughout the NFL season it was not something that we publicly promoted. We are not a B2C company; we are B2B. It was there more or less as a sales and marketing tool. Having said that, people were talking about it and writing about it on their blogs. It's gotten a couple of thousand people playing along. It's been quite exciting.
Tim: I just clicked on the link to the NFL draft so you must have bloggers writing about the winners and losers in a past time, summarizing what they saw in the draft.
Rob: The Speed of Sport site has very minimal content. The main thing you can do there is play.
Tim: You mentioned blogs, and that's a key element here. Where would I go to talk to people about what's going on in a particular game in real time?
Rob: In the actual game itself there's a Play Now button. That's when you get into the game and the competition. Unfortunately, there's nothing going on right now so you won't be able to compete.
Tim: Are you pushing out emails to give people coming attractions?
Rob: On the main page there's a schedule of events. We're supporting the baseball season right now. About a game a day, approximately.
Tim: You're not picking every baseball game; you're doing one a day?
Rob: Yes, because unfortunately baseball, unlike football, has thousands of games.
Tim: What's been the feedback from the B2B market you've been talking to?
Rob: It's been overwhelmingly positive. We're just at this point at the end of our sales cycle and we'll be making some announcements in the next month. We're going to have some live projects up with some networks in July.
Tim: Are they going to be promoting it heavily?
Tim: That's exciting. There must be lots of adrenaline in the hallways.
Rob: People here are excited. We're a new company and everyone here is dedicated and has an interest in seeing us succeed. There's a lot of early mornings and late nights, but it doesn't really seem like a big investment when you like what you're doing.
Tim: Did it take a lot of capital to create the tools to take it from the idea to where it is now?
Rob: Yes, it's a complex project. We're a 25-person company right now of core staff and our operations staff another 15 people at times. So it's a fairly substantial company and it has taken a bit of an investment to get it where it is now.
Tim: As a small business person, I think it's best to keep it as small as possible to maximize quality.
Rob: That's definitely it. We're still at the size now where we're still quite nimble and we can respond to the market, and that's been one of our advantages. We've been able to talk with the market and see what they want and our size is still not stopping us from satisfying them.
Tim: As an advertiser, I feel that the idea of having the commercial breaks already structured into the flow of the game is great! When the game cuts away to the commercial break it's clearly an opportunity to run advertising without any clutter in the game itself. Tell me about that. How's that going to work?
Rob: Well, if you wanted to run say, a 30-second spot you would ideally time it to coincide with the commercial break on TV. However, because this is a game on the internet an advertiser can be more creative. For example, alerting the user that an ad for BMW is coming on and you, the player, have the opportunity to win extra points, "you can do so by entering into a contest etc..." Then when the commercial break is over, BMW can ask questions about the ad or "sponsor" the next prediction. With this application anything is possible.
Tim: Give me the day in the life of someone who's watching NFL on Sunday. I'm assuming they need a TV to watch the programming along with the tool.
Rob: Well, they need a television to get the content. So imagine this, you sit down before the game, you go on to the broadcaster's website or web portal where you're going to play and you're presented with predictions that are more long-term,. For example, "What team is going to be ahead at the half, who is going to get the most yards this game, how many interceptions are going to be thrown during the first quarter"?
Rob: Then the game starts and they flip a coin. You could make a prediction of whether it's going to be heads or tails. Sides are picked, and then you go into the actual play-by-play predictions. For example, the quarterback steps up and before the snap a question comes up: Is it going to be a run or a pass? You're involved in these predictions throughout the game so you're constantly proving your knowledge. One other thing we have associated with all these predictions is based on historical information. We're calculating the probability of various things happening in the game so there's actually a chance to prove your knowledge. Let's take the scenario of whether a player will run or pass. Obviously, it's not equally probable. You may have a 75% chance of a run or 25% chance of a pass. We'll show that to you and you make the call of what you think the outcome will be.
Tim: Does the user have to predict every question that is posed?
Rob: No, you're free to predict as many as you like. You can let some go by. It's really up to you.
Tim: Now, how many conceivable opportunities can someone experience in a typical NFL game?
Rob: Within an NFL game there can be upwards of 75 if you made every single prediction.
Tim: Does the player have to hit send/receive to have the screen refresh?
Rob: No, if you're connected as things appear, you can click or make a prediction or it will eventually disappear.
Tim: Does it tell you how much time you have to make a prediction?
Rob: It doesn't have a countdown. You can make the prediction but there's a lock-out period that helps account for broadcast delay that happens at live events. The lock-out is designed so the game is fair and no one will know the potential outcome. If I happen to have a friend at the game and he's on the cell phone and tells me what the play was, I'd have an unfair advantage. We make sure that that's not possible by having a lock-out on all the dictions.
Tim: Wow, you've really thought it out. Tell me about the points system.
Rob: During the game, prizes are awarded based on the probabilities of things happening. You can potentially get more points if you go for something that's less likely to happen. You can potentially win more points if it plays out. Points can be used in conjunction with a prizing program, or can just be used to differentiate or distinguish a player's knowledge.
Tim: Measuring the data must be incredible.
Rob: We have a full reporting system that tracks everything that is happening within the application. How many people are playing, how long they've been playing, how many predictions they make etc... Of course, this translates into players having exposure to and possibly interacting with the advertising they experience.
Tim: So can I as a user see who else is playing and who the top players are? Can I compete against a buddy of mine?
Rob: Yes, there are ways to enter tournaments or rooms where you'll compete with your friends and there are leader boards as well where you can see how well your friends are doing or how well you're doing against everyone else online.
Tim: Okay, let's change gears. Tell me about your background.
Rob: Queen's University. It's a Canadian university in Kingston Ontario, about 2 hours east of Toronto.
Tim: Where did you go from there?
Rob: After school I was recruited by Microsoft. I worked there for 3 years in the Windows division and also the Tablet PC division which started with a heavy technology focus then I sort of moved toward the business side of things. That was my transition from a pure technology discipline to sales and marketing and I realized that that side was what really got me excited -- combining the technology with the business side of the business.
Tim: That's interesting.
Rob: From there I came back to Canada to the Waterloo region where I am now and was working for a consumer electronics company in sales and marketing for another two years. That was where a lot of us reconnected and came up with the idea for this and here we are today.
Tim: Rob, I'm very excited and look forward to seeing how Speed of Sport evolves. Thanks for taking time out to chat with us!
Rob: My pleasure, Tim!