We Can Do This.

“We need to reinvent the way we market to consumers. We need a new model.
It does not exist. No one else has one yet. But we need to get going now.”

A. G. Lafley, Chairman and CEO, Proctor & Gamble, July 2006

I figure, why not. If a nobody from Kansas named Barak Obama can aspire to the White House, then the guy who co-created one of the longest running ad campaign in history* should be able to give Mr. Lafley what he’s been asking for for the past two years. The problem is, I’m just one guy with a Mac and this is gonna take as much money as it took for Obama to win the Presidency. So I’m going to need a lot of help to make this happen.

* “I am Stuck On Band-Aid Brand”

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Now We’ve Gone And Done It.

Reinventing Advertising is not as easy as it sounds. This shit is all hard and stuff. You gotta really work at it. And we’ve been working hard and we have a lot of progress to show for it. As we expected, the most difficult task in quantifying the efficacy of our NeoAdvertising theories would be to put them into practice with real clients on real marketing objectives.

In November of last year RADD, the entertainment industry’s voice for road safety retained Smart, (the first NeoAdvertising Practice) to help them influence teens and young adults against the deadly practice of sending text messages while driving.  The dangers of driving while texting (DWT) have been proven. Now the challenge is to get out the word. DWT is not cool—DWT is nuts.

Almost 6,000 people died in 2008 from fatal crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 16% of all road deaths, up from 12% in 2007. NeoAdvertising had itself a real challenge on its hands. As with most Non-profits RADD had limited resources to get out the word. That made it perfect for Smart to develop a NeoAdNet that would generate enough news value to gain the press coverage we would need to gain awareness. Our objective was to launch a “buzz phrase” into the teen lexicon that would counter the growing perception that multi-tasking while driving was some-how the mark of being cool. Too cool to care.

The buzz phrase created by Smart was “DWT is NUTS.” That was it. Simple. Flat-footed. Authentic. Driving while texting is nuts. Initial teen intercepts gave us early indications that we were on the right track. We had the right bullet. But we needed a bigger gun. Erin Meluso the President of RADD had friends in high places. RADD’s “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” campaign was kown all over the world. We began the process of getting a bigger gun by increasing the size of the bullet. Smart and RADD made a full court press on the Federal Communications Commission. They own the channels that text messages are transmitted on. Our presentations to the FCC lead to their endorsement of RADD as an outreach partner. Now we were ready to go and get us that gun.

Smart advised RADD to go to the industry that had the most to lose by the Feds using a technology solution to shut down mobile texting. The Automobile Companies. Anti-texting jamming devices had the potential to be the seat belts of this generation. Erin Meluso was able to get us in front of the marketing and Corporate Affairs heads of Kia and Toyota. Kia blinked. Toyota jumped. We had our big gun. Now we just had to aim it to save.

“This issue is on the fast track to a national crisis. We need to get in front of DWT fast,” statee Erin Meluso, President of RADD in our joint release to the Press with Toyota. The organization’s “DWT is Nuts” campaign was left without a sponsor when the economic downturn led to budget cuts in corporate sponsorship. “Toyota was our white knight,” stated Ms. Meluso of the amazing effort Toyota Headquarters staff put in through the Thanksgiving holiday to help the 23-year-old non-profit advantage a prime location at the L.A. Auto Show to get their timely message in front of an anticipated 1.2 million auto show attendees.

“Toyota is dedicated to supporting both teens and parents in developing safe, responsible driving habits and protecting them on the road,” said Michael Rouse, Toyota’s Vice President of Philanthropy and Community Affairs. In support of measures to reduce teen driving accidents through education and real-world preparation, Toyota offers an advanced teen driving skills program for teens and parents, “Toyota Driving Expectations.” This mutual commitment to road safety led to the last minute alliance to “do something” where it counts – center stage among the tuner and technology section of the largest auto show in the West. Toyota’s Mr. Rouse said, “Since 2004, our goal with Toyota Driving Expectations has been to prepare teens with the critical skills and knowledge to handle real-world driving situations and to give parents some guidelines to be an effective coach and mentor. Making our streets safer requires an ongoing effort among many like-minded partners, such as the National Safety Council, MADD, SafetyBeltSafe, and now we are pleased to join with RADD to expand awareness of the dangers of texting while driving.” Over 13,000 participants have learned about risks associated with distracted driving among other life-saving lessons at Toyota’s event.

That message went out to media outlets all over the world. 288 news organizations ran with the story the very first day.

Now Toyota had counter-programming to the growing press coverage on their accelerator issues. A classic NeoAdvertising application, deployed across a wide expanse of media. We had a huge space at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where we had a brand new tricked out Scion to attract the kids and DWT is Nuts messaging to engage them in considering the cost of ten seconds of distracted driving on the family of six that had to stop short in front of them. The ones that would never see it coming.

NeoAdNet1.0 Is Alive. Thank You Michael Jackson.

So I thought it would cost us a million bucks to launch a sub-pilot of NeoAdNet1.0. An engineer at Sun Microsystems told me to file that number under “Not Gonna Happen” and then shot me a list of freeware, workarounds, urls, css tricks and “Booyah!” We got our proof of concept up and running 90 days ahead of schedule. For under a hundred bucks.

The magic words are “Knowlege Transfer”. “Mindcasting” in Twitter terminology. Sharing stuff you think otherfolks might want to know, and having that knowlege grow as even more people “crowdscale” it in depth and insight.

The launch test was simple. Take our readership from MadisonAveNew.com, and provide them with a little-known fact about my former client Michael Jackson (rip) and provide them a link to a masterful, but rare MJ music video from 1996 in which he states “You can never kill me.” and let the content do it’s job…on the alpha pilot of neoAdnets.com.

And so it was that the audience went from MadisonAveNew.com (the feedersite) to NeoAdnets.com ( to see MJ) to other NeoAdNet topics on Family Well-Being, Financial Security, Personal Growth, and Fun and Escape. Each content page had our sponsor’s logo upper left corner and a link in the navbar to the sponsor’s url.

Visitors spent an average of 13:48 on the site and 21% crowdscaled the content they found with their own personal slant or point of view. And 12% visited GeniusMatters.com (sponsor’s site) and visited 2 pages or more.

The traffic thus far is far from conclusive but it has been returning and that is very encouraging. Next comes building other feeder sites to drive traffic and placing NeoAdWord campaigns for our current content on the Google Content Network.

NeoAdNet1.0 doesn’t look like advertising. Could it be because people are paying attention to it?

Return To Silicon Valley

It’s been almost six years since I rolled through San Jose with several self-appointed “Masters of the Known Universe” crammed into the rented Ford whatever, in search of the next new sushi bar. While working on Sun Microsystems my social life had morphed into Geek Central and I could learn more in one binge night than in four previous days of suffering through the briefing boredom blues. But this was different.

This time I was looking for our first NeoAdvertising Sponsor.

The time had come to build the NeoAdNet 1.0 proof of concept alpha site. It would take at least a mill to make it real. So a few months back I went up North to grovel in front of all the usual suspects on what used to be Sandhill Road to find out who was flush in these ever tightening times. They asked all the usual questions. I gave all the unusual answers. Then I got the suggested wisdom I came for. Go to my prospective infrastructure vendors for sponsorship, pitch them on NeoAdNets, get them excited, ask them to introduce me to THEIR investors. The VCs I talked to seemed to think a million dollar sponsorship whose fees would be used to help the cash-flow of an investor’s own interests would be looked at as a sound media buy in such trying times as these. So a few weeks back I found myself in San Jose and environs pitching our efforts at reinventing Advertising and the resultant NeoAdvertising Network platform as invisoned by IAPIA. They were very polite. They took our beautifully designed 12 page business plan. They took us to lunch. They took our cards. “So, show us the site.”…(sfx:crickets)…”It’s not live,,,yet”…They took their leave. Except for one of their engineers who called my cell and left a message that basically told me how to cobble together a working prototype out of freeware, html and css and have it up and running in a month. “Don’t let no money stop your show.” was how he left it.

Of course the element that helpful engineer was talking about was passion. That magic ingredient that powers high tech startups through the “garage” stage, past the friends and family funding stage, well into the Angel finance stage that begins to establish whether or not there is a business at the nexus point of passion and genius, the will to go forward when everything is pointing in the opposite direction.

The drive down Route 5 from Northern to Southern California is 370 miles of parched hillsides and semi’s playing hopscotch. I always thought of it being akin to the stretch on Route 15 between LA and Vegas. Reflection Roads you might call them. “I went to Vegas and blew my kids tuition money on the tables. Now what do I tell the little woman?” is very close to “I went to Silicon Valley to hold a million dollar sponsorship conversation and I got these cool business cards for my time and effort. What do I tell the kids at the garage?”

As a result, we are now in the grueling process of jerryrigging a hodgepodge of apps and templates together to make a seamless user experience that somehow simulates how the audience will discover, engage with, respond to and find common ground with the sponsors of this new form of advertising. Of course, our first sponsor will be our own citizen stakeholders of General Motors (http://GeniusMatters.com) Right now the alpha version is skedded to go live September 1. Fingers crossed and the rabbit don’t die.

OMFGoogle.

See. I told you I would be back to keep you up with the latest. Well here it is. (sfx: long bout of unconsolable anguish.) We just found out the difference between Urchin Webstats and Google Analytics. Sobering. That’s the difference. Urchin counts every piece of cyber junk, web crawler, netbot, searchfart that bumps into your IP address. Makes you feel good to see 500+ “hits” pinging around your sites giving you the illusion of something happening out there in your world wide part of the web. Then we got serious suggestions about updating our traffic metrics when we started using them to validate content and content engagement. That meant stepping up to Google Analytics and the blizzard of data therein collected and compiled. Suddenly our numbers went from triple digit days to single digit days. Even zero digit days. Vast differences in audience reaction suddenly shifted direction overnight. We had been warned not to look backward when making the switch. Personally, I had no idea.

So now we are back to square one for a lot of our prototyping work. But at least this square seems firmly rooted to the bedrock and not afloat in a bowl of oatmeal.

We Return To Our Regularly Schedualed Programming

I wrote the “France” post on June 11th, but got distracted and didn’t “Publish it until just now.” It’s been just that crazy, but I figure since I have a few hours off this fourth of July week-end, I might as well bring you up to speed.

At the risk of being trite I can say a lot has happened since my last post. So much in fact I am rather embarassed that I didn’t post as I went. But I’m here now, so let’s make the best of it. First and foremost we put the business entity back in place to deploy our Reinvented Advertising Product/Service : NeoAdvertising. Actually, that was quite easy. All it required was to proclaim that my company Smart Communications, Inc. was the very first Neo Advertising Agency. That was officially done at http://madisonavenew.com/mad248.html dated : Wednesday, June3, 2009. So now our rag-tag band of prospective NeoAdvertising Practitioners have some hope of putting what they learn in places like this to work. For pay.

Which is more than I can say for Smart. No, this decision, just like the one to front the costs associated with hosting the Institute For Advanced Practices In Advertising, will cost real money. A couple of weeks back, Adonis Hoffman, VP and General Counsul of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) sent me this gem. “Early to bed. Early to rise. Find a way to Monitize.” Excellent counsul, general or otherwise. And so it is that we are now evolving from the Theoretical, to the Simulated, to the Practical in our ReInvention of Advertising effort.

Of course if you are going to run the very first NeoAdvertising Agency, you require the very first NeoAdvertiser. That first NeoAdvertiser was announced officially at http://madisonavenew.com/mad250.html dated : Wednesday, June 17, 2009. Our very first NeoAdvertiser is the 185 million U.S. taxpayer/shareholders of the General Motors Corp. soon to be “The New GM.” Under the digital brand WeOwnGM.com this NeoAdvertiser has begun generating content and awareness among the editorial staffs of the New York Times, Advertising Age, the Wall Street Journal and the blog forums of wordpress.com

The next step will be to upgrade the technology backbone from Dreamweaver and wordpress to a Drupal Core application with the potential to host more robust user-generated content. And the part I’ve been waiting for with bated breath. The YouTube.com initiative for WeOwnGM.com

“France.”

I have lead an iteresting life. In fact, Steve Tisch, the Producer of “Forrest Gump” and a client of mine for three years told quite a few people that I was his inspiration for the movie. “Everytime I would mention something historical, this guy had some connection with the event. Motown, Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue, JFK, you name it, Harry Webber was in some way connected.” So when I got back to writing a post on this blog and someone asked me where I’ve been since March, I have to give the answer Ike Turner would use to explain his frequent disappearing acts, to Tina. “I been to France.”

This is really hard and stuff.

I don’t get a lot of sleep. I got a group of 12 Eurotrash and Russian code Vampires sucking the life out of me in a DowntownLA loft with the windows blacked out and no clocks allowed.  I got, “More fucking content, shit.” being barked at me in 9 different dialects. Reinventing Advertising is a bitch. But we got through all of our Benchmark Tests. Marriages were strained. Lovers broke it off. My life sucks. But NeoAdNet 1.0 past muster for year two. Now the hard part. Building the business model to develop, evangelize and bring it to market with. As of today NeoAdNet is just reams of data and pages of code. What comes next is going to be like building a dry dock around a ship while it’s still at sea. A stormy sea. But we have to formalize the way NeoAdvertising is defined, produced and evaluated. This is the next step in Reinventing Advertising.  So fuck it. It’s up, up and awaaaayyy!