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bandwidth provided by Recursive Squirrel Interactive, transcription services provided by transcribeme.com, use the offer code bean2O and get 20% off. Visit them on the web at transcribeme.com. Episode 487, The Red Thread Unravels. [music]. For Monday, March 12th, 2018, it's time for this weeks edition of the BeanCast, a weekly discussion about the news and issues facing marketers today, I'm your host, Bob Knorpp. [music]. Thanks for joining us. Could the next big thing in social be right under our noses? Music streaming is on an upward trajectory and bears a social structure that's both captivating and vibrant. But do these platforms have the ability to be the next Instagram, tonight we'll discuss. Also, brands capitalizing on International Women's Day, getting better at sharing insights, what two minutes of ads could mean for broadcast, plus this week's ad fail five. That's the lineup. Let's meet tonight's panel. Thanks for joining us for this week's BeanCast, I'm Bob Knorpp and with me on the panel for this evening, we start with the man himself, founder of the Idea Integration Company, Mr. Saul Colt. Saul, you haven't been here for weeks, so glad to have you back.
I know. It's been so long I'm practically like a born-again virgin, Bob [laughter].
I don't even want to ask you about that one.
Now, next up we also have with us messaging strategist and all-around smart person who has come from the CMO world into her own business, Ms. Tamsen Webster is here. Hey, Tamsen.
Hello Bob. How are you?
I'm doing well.
And finally, we have the Executive Vice President of Audience Science for Viacom, Mr. Julian Zilberbrand. Julian, welcome back.
Thanks for having me back Bob, I'm excited to go through the podcast today.
Okay, awesome. Well, we've got a lot to cover and I want to get into this first one, which was an interesting topic, something I hadn't really considered before I read this article. Despite the many issues surrounding streaming music platforms, and there are many, they continue to grow in user base and popularity. And some media watchers are now speculating as to whether they could be the next big social media platform. And that maybe Spotify or Apple Music could form the basis of something that could potentially take on an Instagram. Julian, does this idea hold any water, and if so, how do streaming platforms need to evolve inorder to capitalize on it. What's your thoughts on this idea of music streaming being a social network platform?
Well, on one hand, these environments are inherently social, right. And sharing music is a universal thing, and so there's a little bit of credence to that but those functionalities have kind of been embedded in these systems for a long time and it hasn't necessarily scaled to some kind of financial opportunity. So I'm not sure that there's anything that these companies are going to do specifically that would fundamentally change people's behavior patterns and their user interfaces such that they would start looking at them as pure social networks. I find that a little hard to buy.
Yeah, I mean, one of the first things that came to my mind when I read this article was that this was already tried once and it failed abysmally. It's just like Apple with their Ping service, prior to their Apple Music service, found out that people just aren't interested in sharing music the way that they are about sharing pictures, and about the way they are about sharing what they ate today, and all the other things that go on in social media. It seems like music is something that is definitely universal in terms of its appeal but doesn't mean that people are necessarily always attracted to sharing, and discussing, and having connections centered completely around music.
Well, music is a really personal thing so I think you have to be wary of the scale of sharing that.
Yeah. That's a--
So I agree with [them?], the idea that music is a personal thing. I think music connects people in a way that fake news or self-promotion doesn't. And a lot of what our current platforms are all about sort of self-promotion, validation, feeling good about yourself. I agree with this person. I do think that if anyone's going to take over Facebook or whoever we're gunning for today, it is going to be something that is a little bit more about bringing people together for something that isn't about themselves, and music would certainly fit in that situation. I think though, that where this person's got it wrong, is that I don't think it's the sharing the music that's actually going to bring people together. There used to be this app called Music Impacts. It was really amazing. I kind of dug it. And it was way before its time. I think it's sort of gone now, or maybe it could be resuscitated. But the premise of this app was, every day there was a daily theme, and the theme could be like, what was the first album you bought? Or, what was the song that you-- whatever. Like anything: first concert, first everything. And then people went in, in kind of like a Instagram style, and recorded themselves telling the stories of how the music impacted their lives. And they were these 40 second, 1 minute long videos that were just so rich with emotion and content, and really interesting, thoughtful storytelling, that I thought this thing could have been huge and really great. And it was really easy to get lost into it because the stories were so interesting. I think that's the type of thing that people are going to crave eventually when they get tired of sort of what social media's become. It could be five years from now, it could be five months from now.
But why would we need another platform to do that? I mean, why can't we just decide to do that on Facebook?
Yeah. That's my question. And I think it--
Well, you don't necessarily need another platform to do it, but if you want to do something very niche and specific, whether it be television, or movies, or music, I don't want to get cluttered in with all of the other nonsense, "I had a bad day. I hate my boyfriend." All those things. If I want to go somewhere for one specific thing-- Facebook is trying to be everything for everybody and I know we curate it based on who we follow and things like that so it's a little different for everybody even though they're trying to be everything for everybody. Just because I have-- I don't even know how many people I'm friends with on Facebook, couple thousand or whatever, doesn't mean they all like the same music I like. So if I share-- I shared two NPR Tiny Music Concerts on Facebook the other day. These things blew me away and I got zero engagement on it because nobody actually cared about it. So if I want to talk to somebody about this, I need to find a place to talk about what I want to talk about. And I think we're getting away from that. I think engagement is down on every platform because it's just not that interesting anymore and people aren't trying hard enough.
But I don't think-- I mean if the crux of the question is, is this the kind of thing, is this the area that's going to overtake something like Facebook, I think the answer is as long as there some-- niche will never take over generalists. So I think that there's a place for it. I think there's people who want it. I think that you see that kind of thing in the development of private and secret Facebook groups that are affinity-based or subject matter based that are around a single thing, but if we're talking about a platform that's going to take over Facebook, that's not going to happen as long as it's focused on one tiny slice of our lives.
Yeah. I wouldn't say--
I couldn't agree more.
Yeah. I can't see this taking over Facebook, and that's why I framed it in terms of Instagram. I think that from a standpoint of a social network, music holds the potential to be just as engaging as photography, because photography is a very personal thing, the kind of things that you like are different from the kind of things that I like, and you self-segment out into the types of content that you're interested in, and you follow those people, and if you want to explore, you go to an explore tab and you find out different types of pictures that you want to see, and that sounds incredibly similar to the playlist functionality of most of the music services that are out there, and that's where I was most interested in potentially seeing whether or not a social media platform made out of music or that was based on music could potentially rise up and be a competitor to something like an Instagram or a Snapchat.
Yeah. There's a whole host of issues there, (a), it's pretty easy for people to fake the fact that they can take pretty good pictures or at least there's so many things out there. Lord help us if people are like, "I can make music, too." I mean I think autotune is evil. So that's one issue, first of all, and then you've got the whole mess of rights issues of what does it mean to play snippets or to share those pieces, and my goodness, Spotify, Pandora, they still haven't figured out the economics of that. So that's one of the things where I love the Affinity idea, practically, though, ugh, I think we're pretty far away from it.
Well, so this also falls under the category of so a lot of the people who are bringing this up are thought leaders, futurists, whatever you want to call them, everybody is trying to jump on this whole audio bandwagon with all the home assistance, Google Home, and Amazon Echo, so instead of actually doing Facebook really well, which I would argue a lot of brands don't do very well, I'd say the majority of them don't do very well, everyone is trying to figure out this new thing, and this new thing is audio, audio, nobody is going to listen to a voice all day long, so we'd better figure out how to make music work for our brand, and I think that people are really trying to, I can't think of the cliche I'm looking for here, but jam a square peg into a round hole or whatever.
That was the most butchered, tortured metaphor ever.
I don't even know if I'm using that correctly. But it's like, okay, this is the shiny thing. How do we own it early? And so let's do music.
Well, one second. Let's get Julian in.
I was going to say I think that there are at least 20 or 30 different instances of companies who try to take niche things and create social virality out of them, and there's an inherent challenge specifically with music because in order to, to some degree, commit to making this a functional capability, you have to be committed to the time-space it takes to listen to an entire track of music, and that's a significant period of time for people to commit to from a social perspective. It's more time than, let's say, scanning through photos on Instagram or scanning through posts on Facebook or Tweets. So the concept of sharing, you could share out a song and people could look at it, but once you start sharing out volumes of music. It's a time commitment that makes it very hard.
Well, okay. But I will counter that and I agree with you in principle and yet Facebook does very well with sharing news, which takes you time. You have to go out and you have to read an entire article and then you might have a discussion about that article. I'm not saying Facebook is all about that, but Facebook has a significant portion of its content based on you taking the time to interact with it, and so I don't see that being so difficult to overcome this hurdle of people needing to actually listen to music or listen to snippets or try to engage with playlists or have discussions about music, it seems like it's a completely logical way for people to spend their time.
Bob, if everybody read all the fake news articles on Facebook, we would be in a bad place, don't you think?
[laughter]. Yeah, I think so, and we are reading them and we are in a bad place, so-- [laughter]. Oh, my gosh. So, Tamsen, I mean what's your thoughts on whether or not a music streaming service could potentially make something work where they could maybe not be a competitor of Instagram, maybe not even get close to the size of Facebook, but have enough social engagement that that becomes a key component of why people show up to a streaming service?
I just think people have tried it more than once and it just hasn't worked, and I don't think it was because of a lack of technology or this, that, and the other thing. I mean Spotify had an integration with Facebook. If you were listening to something, you could share it to Spotify and you could have a chat about it, and they shut it down. People weren't doing it. I don't know that it's a case of, oh, it's before its time. I think that right now is probably the worst time to be trying to get people to engage more in certain ways because people I think are trying to take the engagement level, they're trying to wean themselves off of some of these things, and I think it's also that you're seeing that in the numbers across the board. So I don't think it's robust enough for it to be something that people come back to over and over again as a general population kind of thing. I think within subgroups, yes, but you run against the barriers that all things audio run into, not only the sharing rights and who's making money from what, but that you can't skim audio. I mean that's the big thing. I mean it's like talk to all the people like me who I don't watch TED Talks, I read them, I read the transcript, because it takes me half the time to do that, and then if the transcript is interesting, then I'll go back and watch, but I think in a time constraint environment, audio is always going to have tough [inaudible] if it's about instantaneous back and forth asynchronous conversations, and by the way, there have been platforms, I don't even remember the name of it, that tried to do that, too. It was called-- what was it called? Anchor? I don't know. I don't know. It didn't last long enough to care.
Well, but, okay, something Saul said resonates with me, and it's the fact that we have these voice-activated systems, you have your Amazon Echo, you have Siri, you have Google. Is it Google Now? I forget. I forget all the names of the services.
Google Home, right. So you've got all these services that are based on audio. Is this a potential way that a social network could evolve that's purely based on these home speaker systems where you're interacting with people from a musical standpoint saying, "Play me what Bob's listening to," or, "Play me what Joe is sharing right now," and you have this audio interactions with friends and people who you know and respect that gives you an insight into their lives. Is that something that could potentially evolve? Something completely outside the scope of what we know social media to be today and could potentially be the next wave, in social interaction?
I mean, I'm interested in the rise of audio as a potential platform for social. I think that's very interesting. You look at the rise in smart speaker adoption and the fact that it's less about speakers and much more about those voice assistance. So I think if they were going to see anything that I think we're going to essentially see the 2018 or 2019 return to the party line of telephones [laughter]. Because you do have that ability, to get a group of people through a smart speaker to talk simultaneously. Or at least right now, it's one to one. So I think there's this interesting potential for live conversations amongst multiple people using audio. I come back and say, "If it's about a specific topic - if it's only about music - then you are, by definition, limiting it to a point where it will never spread beyond a certain group of people that is interested in that as the topic."
A lot of these audio functions already exist and the concept of using voice for search is very different than the construct of using music for social. And I think that there is a functionality that can easily be added to the existing systems in place to activate voice as part of a communication environment within these existing environments. And there's no reason why a Spotify, or a Pandora, or anything that comes up in the future, should be able to have enough money relative to the existing platforms to supersede them.
Well, I started this show off talking about the high road; took the high road topic. Now, I'm going to move on to the low road topic, which I'd heavily debated leading off this show with. Instead of doing something truly revolutionary for International Women's Day like maybe fixing the wage gap or promoting more women to the executive ranks, most brands decided to, instead, do things like, oh, replace their iconic male advertising characters with female characters. But don't worry, none of these moves is permanent. So men everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. Whew. Ah, thank God. We don't have to worry about women mooching in on our world, do we, guys? Look, Saul, why do brands feel the need to participate in these ways, and does it make sense? It seems like everybody pulled cheap tricks to show that, "We're for women" over the course of International Women's Day. Yet most of the efforts seemed trivial, didn't they?
I know Tams is on the show today, but I'm usually the voice of women on this show [laughter], so I'm glad I [crosstalk].
Go Saul [laughter].
Bob, that's sad.
What's sad? What's sad?
I hate to single out McDonald's because Wendy's was awful-- I mean, not Wendy's. KFC was awful. MTV was awful. There were so many just ridiculous attempts at this, but I'm going to single out McDonald's for a second. And it hurts me to do so because I had my favorite birthday party there. I got to pour my own drinks. It was wonderful. But here's where they and all the brands were really short-sighted with International Women's Day. And you sort of touched on it already, Bob. It was the transactional nature of the stunts. They did nothing but invite criticism. And anything you do around these sort of days-- brands still talk about 9/11 on 9/11. It makes no sense to me. You should just keep your mouth shut. But anything you do is going to invite criticism. So if you know people are going to complain anyway, why not do something amazing for them to complain about that has a lasting effect? Now, I read the McDonald's stunt cost $2 million. They flipped a couple of signs. Most of the flipping of the signs were really just done digitally, but there was a handful of stores where they gave them new uniforms. They went all out and did the whole stunt. $2 million. Now, imagine if they gave that $2 million-- this is what I would have done. On this show, I usually say, "Hire me, because this is the stuff I would do." You give me $2 million? I donate it all, minus my fees, of course [laughter], to Planned Parenthood. Do something that would actually have a lasting effect. People are still going to complain. People are still going to talk about it. People are going to still-- you're going to alienate half of your audience no matter what. But think about that. Who's going to really, really, really complain wholeheartedly about a donation that goes directly to women, that is going to give specific attention, needed just for women. We're talking about International Women's Day. So It's crazy. What they should have done, is instead of flip a couple signs, they should have paid for a hundred pap smears and mammograms. Basically, the money that it took to smear chicken sauce on a chicken breast, they could have smeared women on those little-- I don't know what they call those.
I was on such a roll there, until I crashed.
Yeah. And then, it went horrible, horrible bad [laughter].
But at least if they made a donation, it'll have a lasting effect. It'll actually do something towards the purpose of the day. And it isn't just so selfish and single-minded, and say, "Look, we're giving you this trivial little shout out. We love you, women. Come and spend more money." Do something that's actually going to make a difference.
Topic over. There's nothing to argue over [laughter].
Well, yeah. I mean, I think the larger I mean it's such a minefield. I think the larger issue that is clearly in play here, to me, is how woefully tactical marketing and advertising is clearly still seen by these companies. I mean, the fact that where they end up is some kind of cheap stunt to say, "Hey, ladies." I mean, at least they didn't shrink it and pink it, right? But--
They kind of did. No, I want to go back there. They did shrink it and pink it.
[crosstalk] is dirtier than anything I said, right [laughter]?
But no. It's just their tactics were exactly shrink it and pink it. They basically turned their logos into women's logos. And they tried to make it more appealing to the ladies. It's exactly those tactics.
That's what I'm saying. But what that--
Did anyone else think it kind of looked a little like breasts [laughter]?
Decidedly not perky ones. So what exactly what were they saying here [inaudible]?
I'm the only one who can say that. But here's the thing though. If marketing and branding and messaging were truely seen as strategically the organization, those kinds of conversations that you're talking about would actually happen. And I know we've talked about this before. I mean Tom, my husband, has a wonderful acronym for this SAD, Seasonal Advertising Disorder, which is when brands take whatever day it is. The community managers look it up and like, "Oh, look it's international taco day. Let's put everything in a tortilla [laughter]." It's the same thing. It's like, "Oh, it's International Women's Day. What can we do that the womens will like?" And it's just like, "You know what. Women are people." Can we just figure out actually what you would do to raise up people and actually be a good company? Because that's the role of marketing. That's the role of branding. That's the role of messaging is to figure out how can you translate the needs of the market back into the company as much as your job is to take the needs of the company and translate it to the marketplace. So I see this as a wholesale failure on that first piece, taking the market and translating it back to the company. And for that, the marketers have only themselves to blame. If you don't have yourself a seat at the table strategically, well, then you know what? Guess what? Now, you know what it feels like to be a woman in America.
Well, the thing that bothers me about this situation and the things that bother me is how many stories there were of brands just getting it wrong. It wasn't just a few outliers who did something foolish. It's widespread head rubbing going, "What the heck are you thinking? Why are you out there doing this?" And it serves no purpose to actually helping women to get ahead. All it does is say, "We care about women. Buy our cheeseburgers. We care about you. Get drunk on our liquor. We care about [laughter] you. Buy more fried chicken." It doesn't really address the plight of women. What it does is it goes about talking down to women almost and saying, "Yeah, we care about you, honey." And so many brands did it. And the thing that really boggles my mind about this is you know that most of these campaigns, because of the political climate, were done by women. They may have been okayed by men because men dominate the executive ranks within most of the organizations in advertising. But at the same time, most of these efforts were done by women. So why is it that we get it so wrong even when women are doing the work?
What I'm hearing from you is you're saying that this is a classic example of female privilege [laughter] [,laughter] Okay, enough from you. Julian, what were you going to say?
Well, I think this is, there are certain topics and certain things that require an understanding of tonality. And something of this nature, either you're living it every day as a brand and you're focused on it and you believe in it and you bring it up every single day, or it's national doughnut day. And so there's a very distinct difference between the construct and the meaning behind doing it like this versus just using it as a marketing ploy and a tactic to as everybody said just trying to find a way sell more burgers. And when it comes off as trying to find a way to sell more burgers, it comes off often flat. And I think that this is a really fine lesson to a lot of marketers in terms of how they need to look at what they're trying to achieve, what their brands stand for, what they stand for every day and what they can do,and I think Saul's idea of obviously whether it's a donation, or whether it's something of that nature where you're living as a brand and therefore it comes off authentic, and authentic translates. When it comes off contrived, which some of this did, it has this negative tone that is only harmful. And the two million dollars, five million dollars, I mean these are drops in the bucket in terms f what these companies spend from a marketing perspective and it's really more about what you're trying to do to represent your brand on an everyday basis. And when we're talking about half the population, you really should be living it every day and not necessarily looking to live it a day. I think there's a big difference there.
Timson, where's the breakdown happening? Because it's just like I can't imagine that the-- any of these efforts came from a bad place. Everybody is trying to do their best to recognize the fact that women are not being treated well within the corporate structures of most companies, and everybody is trying to be more aware and considerate to these situations in this play. And women themselves are actively wanting to call attention to these issues and I think that's inspired most of these efforts. Where is it going so wrong? Why does still forwarding the efforts of most brands to actually be genuine about their concern for women?You want me to solve this whole gender disparity thing right now [laughter]?Sure. I mean, if you're able to, I would love you to. But, now, I would never goad you.
Yeah. I want to because then I would make millions and trillion dollars. Because Lord, I think if we knew where it was breaking down, we could at least start to fix it a little bit more comprehensively. And I think that what Julian said is a really important point. It's not that I think that a lot of times-- the only thing I could think of is just that it's the easiest way out is to do something that's a nod to something else because that's easier than changing the system, it's easier than changing the strategy, it's easier than doing it everyday, it's to do it for one day. The problem is of course that marketers as they often do forget that they're also human, and that if you were on the other foot, and if that they take their marketing off for, just a freaking second and they would look at it and go, "Huh, you think that people would notice that we didn't do this yesterday and we are not going to do it tomorrow." It's like it doesn't take a lot to figure out whether or not a company legitimately cares about these issues or now. And so a nod to one day, it is-- of your company that's been doing it every day and you can use that day as a day to celebrate all the things you've been doing all year long, then yore going to get credit for it. But if its like,"Hey, we've been doing nothing, well, let's put on a pair of droopy boobs on top of our signpost." And you're like awesome. Like it's just not going to work. I mean-- [crosstalk] go on.
I really have to relook at that picture [laughter].
Yeah. I saw it too. It's not a very good retractive use of a sign. But yeah-- I forget where I was going to go with this but you know with--
I know, the droopy boobs are pretty distracting, I guess.
It does. It totally distracts you. Well, we probably should just move on from this topic after all. But it's just so frustrating to me when I look back at how much effort has been put into these creative executions and they're so meaningless. I remember what I was going to say. We were going to talk about the fearless girl, you know? It's just like everybody got so impressed by the fearless girl and that's what kept running through my head this week when I was looking at all these efforts, I kept thinking, why is it that advertising looks at the fearless girl and responds with, "We're going to do something better", rather than trying to say, "Okay, the reason that this got so much attention and had so much vast approval from so many sources is because it actually held some kind of meaningful statement at a critical time. Instead of a meaningless statement that says absolutely nothing about the plight of women." It just says we recognize you as being female. I don't understand why we're so obsessed with the awards cycle that we're going to make such stupid mistakes in the process of trying to get some attention for our brands. It just makes no sense.
Because consistently brands are pursuing what is aspirational rather than what is actual to them. And that you can see over and over and over again. They behave in a way so that they hope that people will see them how they want to be seen. And so there's this massive gap between how they want to be seen and how are seen. But what they are missing is the gap that they actually need to close is between the gap of what they actually are and how they want to be seen. And that's what a lot of brands don't want to do because it takes a lot of internal soul-searching and a lot of work. And that's what I'm saying, they are going for the easy answer again, and again, and again. And as long as you go for the easy answer, and an easy answer that is not consistent with who you are and what you stand for as a brand, you are going to get punished every time. And you know what? You deserve it. You absolutely deserve it.
It comes down to something we've said often in this show and a philosophy that I've completely embraced in terms of my own consulting and the thing that I talk to clients about. It comes down to you need to think about your brand as not being a function of marketing, it is an operational paradigm. It's just like who you hire, and how you act, and what you do is just as important to the customer as what you say in your ads and in your interactions with them.
If you're really focused on this, if you're focused on your brand, it is a living breathing thing, 365, 24/7, that has some kind of personality, that represents something and unless it's authentic, it really never comes across well. And again, when it feels forced because there is a specific date on the calendar that represents something and you're trying to put that round peg in that square hole, it just doesn't work. And so I think it's really, really important for marketers to think about how they treat the brand almost as a person and making sure that when you're doing it you're living the authentic image of the brand.
And I don't think any of that's going to happened within most companies and doesn't happen within most companies until the brand no longer lives with marketing. The brand needs to live with the CEO and it needs to be something that is coddled, and cherished, and babied, and nurtured so that it grows up to be a way that everything that is done within the company, every decision that's made is a reflection of who you are as a company. Marketing has one job, which is to communicate the brand, not to come up with the brand [laughter]. And I think that that's where most companies are going wrong. We continue to bestow the honor of the branding effort on the marketing department when it's definitely belongs to the entire CSuite and we need to change that before marketing's actually going to have the ability to have a smart decision in these matters. So anyway. I'm off my soapbox, might as well [laughter] move on to the next topic.
Look, the bigger your brand, the more partners you work with and even after agency consolidations or holding company's deal, holding company deals, a brand can still be working with dozens of partners at any given time. The trouble though is that keeping communication flowing across partners and keeping everyone aware of insights is really difficult when you have lots and lots of partners. So Tamson, look, you've been there, you've been in the CMO side of the business, you've been in the consulting side of the business, the frienemy's model is as old as the hill. You have a whole bunch of partner agencies that are all working together for the benefit of the client and yet they're all trying to undercut each other to get more of the budget. So how does a brand establish and maintain true cooperation among partners that are always competing for attention and dollars? How would you take this assignment on as a CMO, as a former CMO, what did you do?
So you clearly gave me all the easy ones tonight, [laughter] Bob. Thanks for that. Oh, Lord, this is another one that if we had an answer for it then I would be making a million dollars a day right now. Not that I'm not. I'm totally not [laughter]. Okay. There's tactical stuff that you can do. You can say, I don't want to see anything brought to me that hasn't been-- where you haven't actually partnered with the other people on this, you show me how you've already talked to people. So that I, as the CMO, or the person that's wrangling all of these different vendors, I'm not the one that's making sure you're talking to each other. I would build it into the ask, build it into the contracts that everything comes to me has to have coordinated with other people. Is that practical? Probably not. So that takes me to the strategic aspects of it, which is, if you're in the position of choosing these vendors in the first place, then you are actually are in a position of making sure that you are hiring people who are collaborative by their nature. So rather than people are cut throat and trying to figure out how do we-- you just-- get you for all the billable hours we can possibly can. So the thing is when I was hiring partners, and vendors, and all of whatever you want to call them. They, of course, want to be called partners. We of course always called them vendors. It really comes down to, am I hiring people who I see as an extension of the way that I like to work? And so maybe it's too Pollyanna, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to look for people who share the same kind of values, who have the same kind of opinion about how we get to better ideas about from working together, that we see the world, in the same way, we have similar goals. That's what I'd like to have happen and so you try to hire people that way and then tactically you build it into how you ask them to present to you. Have them present with multiple groups at a time. Make them work together. But more importantly, make them do the work. Because I don't want to have to hire yet another position that's like the vendor wrangler, the wrangler the--
Yeah [laughter]. You got it right. You got it right. Vendor Wrangler. Could potentially part of the problem be-- something you said strikes me as being core to the problem that happens between the client or the brand and the agency partner or the production partner. And that's the terminology. When you're treated like a vendor, you act like a vendor, and vendors are always trying to get money from their clients. And they're trying to work for the most possible profit all the time. When you get a partner, conceivably a partner has the same interests and is aligned upon your interest. And if you're treated like a partner, you'll act like a partner. Is that a real problem? I mean is this, is that something that's potentially causing--
Okay [laughter], I'll go to Julian.
No, it really is a problem and I do think that there is a very serious distinction, go between partner and vendor, between the way that you're trying to communicate, and everything tends and said in terms of potential opportunities to address this are accurate and correct, right? I mean you want to force people to work together. You want to make them present with each other. Therefore, strategically there they have to be aligned. And all these other factors, I think the challenge that comes with all of these kinds of stuff, and living this for a very long time in my own career, in a previous life, the inherent challenge is that when you're treated like a vendor, and you're always looking to sell and make more money, and you're hiring partners who have competitive solutions to each other. You're going to run into that scenario where people are going to be holding information back, or people are going to want credit for certain things and ideas, and they don't want to have other people encroach on their ideas. And I think you have to be very judicious about the kinds of companies and/or agencies that you're hiring. I think you have to be very judicious as [inaudible] said about the people that are on the business, and their own collaborative nature, and how you engage with them, and how you expect them to engage with each other, and the communication that you make clear very upfront about what your expectations are on how they work. But I think a lot of it's going to start with who you're hiring, and am I hiring companies who have a direct competitive part of the business to the other companies I'm hiring. Because once that's in place, it's human nature, it's capitalism, and people want to control the whole kitten caboodle. And there's going to be very little scenarios that I've ever seen where if that kind of dynamic is in existence that people can effectively work with each other, all with one goal, all in the same direction. It becomes very challenging. It may start that way but it never lasts.
Can any of this [crosstalk] be solved by contracts? Can any of this be solved simply by saying, "You know, you can't competitively bid for any of the other agencies work." Take that off the table. Say that you're aligned on this area and that you're expected to behave in such and such a manner and that you're expected to share information. And in kind, we'll make sure that we protect your IP and protect any proprietary information from falling into the hands of competitors by not hiring specific competitors to what you're offering. That kind of respect doesn't seem to exist between agencies and their clients. Why not? Nobody want to answer?
No. I could take that. I think because you never want to close the door [laughter]. If I was to simplify it, you don't want to, if somebody potentially has a capability that can be cheaper, and clients more and more are procurement driven, you don't want to close that door and you don't want to not allow for certain opportunities. And so that inherently becomes a challenge because you know the answer to your question is can you control some of this contractually? I believe you could. Whether or not you want to is the other question you might have to ask, whether or not you're going to close off an opportunity to potentially replace or work with somebody else when another partner maybe doesn't or isn't up to the task.
So you were going to say something. Sorry for talking over you.
It's okay. I don't know if this is extremely relevant because we've covered it a little bit, but I always find it fascinating that we don't want to share data because we don't necessarily trust our partners or vendors or whatever we want to call them. But yet the reason a lot of people win bids is because they've worked with a direct competitor or understand the industry very well. So you're hoping they're going to tell you a little bit about your competitor. You hope they're not going to tell the next person they work with anything about your business. So it's that sort of that fine line between trust and not trust, like you're hiring people for competitive advantage, but you never quite go all in with them.
And for me it keeps coming back to that one word, respect. There is no respect in the advertising business. There is no respect by the brands. It's grown worse and worse with increased reliance upon procurement negotiations that treats the agency partner as being nothing more than a vendor who can be reduced down to a balance sheet number. That kind of respect is terrible, but it's reflected on the agency side, because the agencies have their problems. many [inaudible] of problems of overcharging and taking kickbacks and all the other things that they've been accused of over the past few years. And it all comes down to there is no respect between the clients and their agencies and the agencies and their client. And until that's fixed, I don't think we're going to see any kind of solution on this front. Nobody's going to want to share information when they don't trust people.
Well we're going to move on to the final topic of the evening. FOX, and we're talking about the FOX network, is floating the idea of two minutes of commercial airtime per hour. Sounds really good as a televison viewer. But advertising experts have been questioning the viability of the plan. So Julian, do two minutes of ads get too prohibitively expensive to be worth it? I mean some of the analysts were saying that it would have to be such an expensive ad that no one would even want to touch it. What's your take on this idea of reducing ad load to two commercials-- or two minutes of commercials per hour?
Well this is an interesting one. Coming from Viacom where we do have some challenges with clutter, there is the reality that you do want to reduce ad load. I think getting it down to two minutes where you're paying a Super Bowl fee for every 30 second spot might be stretching it a bit. And obviously within the construct of how you're doing advertising, you're going to adjust your model where it's not 30s, and you can have a ton of 6s and 15s, and a bunch of integrations and sponsorship. A whole host of other potential advertising opportunities within that 30 minutes or an hour. But I don't necessarily believe from a financial standpoint that either clients have an appetite to pay 8, 10X spot dollars now for inventory. At a regular basis I just don't think budgets are functionally capable of supporting that. I do believe in certainly further-- moving into addressability and hyper-targeting to some degree, although obviously that can get a little too minute as well. But hyper-targeting and addressable and all these other things that I think can help lessen the commercial load, but going down to two minutes an hour I think is-- feels a little bit as a pipe dream, unless you plan on really finding other avenues of revenue beyond advertising. As a television network, that will suppliment the millions of dollars you are inevitably going to lose because most companies are not going to be able to support spending two million plus on a 30 second spot on a general Tuesday night. That just doesn't work.
Also by eliminating it to two minutes an hour or two minutes a half hour, don't remember what it was, you're just making it really much easier for people to find that one commercial block and skip it. Obviously if they do product placement or some of things that you are talking about, there will be integrations. They will see it more. But you're making it real easy for that money to be meaningless and be completely wasted. We talk about this all the time people don't want bad commercials. They'll sit through good commercials. No one's actually ever trying to fix the-- let's make some really good stuff, as opposed to let's just trick people into watching crappy commercials.
But even good stuff needs reach and frequency to make an impact. I mean, there's almost zero commercials that come out of the gate and the first time that they're aired become household conversations. Some of them do. Super Bowl's really good about releasing those types of ads that become conversation starters. But it's not because they're so amazing all the time. It's also because so much attention is put on the Super Bowl. Could that potentially be the savior here of this one ad block? Tamsin, would you see the value of having one ad during an hour-long block? You're not getting the reach and frequency that you normally-- well, you're not getting the frequency that you normally get, but you're getting the reach and you're getting a lot more attention than you would otherwise. Isn't that more valuable, or does the loss of frequency cause you way too many concerns to actually put a buy like that in?
Oh, my biggest concern is what kind of creative performance anxiety would result [laughter]. I mean, the thing is, you see how hard people try to make those Super Bowl ads count, and how often they miss the mark. And when the stakes are that high, there's this weird thing that happens where, instead of taking risks, instead of being true to the brand and what gives rise to the brand, they just do the-- again, they take the easy way out, like we were talking about earlier. I mean, the thing is I remember, more than you want to know, but I remember in the late 1980s, early 1990s, I went as an exchange student to Germany, where that's how they did the TV advertisements in Germany, was that every half hour, there was this block of advertisements. And, I mean, you know exactly what happened, and it's what Julie and [inaudible] were talking about. It's like, as soon as you know when that ad block is, people just skipped it. And they will skip it. And it's not that they're-- unless you somehow create some kind of serialized advertisement, I mean, and this I'm remembering, what was it that had that serialized campaign? The coffee commercial. Was it Folgers? Was it Maxwell House? I don't even remember. It was like the couple-- whatever. I mean, but it's that kind of-- it's only if there's storytelling over time that people would even remotely do it. But I think if you make it easy for people to know when the ads are, unless they're truly great, which I don't think they will be, people will skip them. That's just the way it is. We don't want to be advertised to. We really don't. And so, even if it's great, most people will just skip over it just for the principle of the thing.
And that comes back to the theory that I've had for quite some time, which is basically that reach and frequency is more important than creative impact. And I hate to say that because creative impact has such an important-- plays such an important role in our collective psyche here in advertising world. But if you take off-- if you just put a phone number up and you just say, "Buy this product," and you put a great image and you do minimal creative investment but you get that message out enough times to be compelling, people are going to buy from you. And I'm not saying that creative is useless or doesn't play a part in the effectiveness of advertising. What I'm saying is that reach and frequency plays such an important role that taking away the frequency doesn't make any sense to me. There's no way you're going to have as much attention on that two-minute block that you have during a two-minute block during the Super Bowl. It's just never going to reach that kind of level. So--
I totally agree. Yeah. I mean, I think what we need to get to is something that's like surround-sound advertising, where it's like you get get to a point where messages coming at you from all directions. But any one particular channel, underused as we're talking about here, or one particular channel overused and therefore easy to mute, either way, you're going to run into trouble.
Well, the other factor is look, if it's not that there isn't sponsored commercial-less programming available now, right. One brand, car brand hypothetically speaking sponsors a program for an hour with limited commercial interruptions. That exists today. So it's not that you couldn't lower the commercial load, it's that that's not scalable on an everyday basis. It's not scalable for an every program basis. I think you could do it occasionally. We should think about how to lower commercial load because I think that does have an impact on performance. It has an impact on C3. It has an impact on program ratings. So, yes. All of that is legit. But making that an every day, in all prime time slots, feasibility I just don't think is possible without costing yourselves a significant amount of money and to everybody else's point potentially costing the advertiser the volume of frequency they would need to really get the message through. So there's a combination of financial impact. There's a combination of potential performance impact and there's just the reality that at least on the television world there is a behavior that you don't completely want to shut down and make obsolete so that you never have it again. You want to try to drag out commercials I would imagine as long as you possibly can because not everything and not everybody can afford to subscribe to everything and so there's no reason to destroy a behavior that's in existence today.
Well, with that it's time for the [Ad Fell Five?] but before we get to that segment of the show I do want to take this quick opportunity to thank my guests again and allow them to each do a shameless plug starting with the man, Saul Colt. You can find him at the theideaintegratation.com. That's the home of The Idea Integration Company. His experiential consultancy. So tell us, what's going on in your world Saul. What would you like to promote?
Well, first of all, I've been choking for the last two minutes on mute here and I've got something going on here [laughter]. Hey, Tom. Two exciting things this week and I've got news for each coast of this fine nation of ours. We'll start with the east. I talk about it all the time. I Make a Living, we're live in Toronto with a new event March 28th if you are within a four hour [inaudible] you should come. It's well worth it. Tickets are available at imakealiving.com and if you are on the west coast I'm excited to share that Bob and I are taking the I Make a LIving podcast on the road and we're going to be recording some live episodes as a part of the podcast pavilion inside of the LA Times Festival of Books. It's April 21st. It's still a little ways away so hopefully, I'll be back on the show and talk about it again but if you've ever wanted to see Bob, hug Bob [laughter], get a picture or an autograph and you live in Los Angeles, this may be your only chance. So please come out and support us and if you don't listen to the podcast please do so at freshbooks.com/podcasts.
Yeah. I'm not too sure I'm okay with being touched but definitely, I want to meet everybody [laughter] so come on out for that event. Thanks for promoting it, Saul. Now next up we have Tamsen Webster. You can find her at tamsenwebster.com. That's the home of her consultancy where she is doing all kinds of wonderful work with a number of different brands. Tell us, what's going on in your world, Tamsen? What would you like to promote?
Well, I think probably most useful is, if you're looking for how to figure out what it is that gives rise to your brand, what I like to call the Red Thread, that that's a thing I do, so hey, let's talk about that. More information on how to do that one on one at my website, tamsenwebster.com/consulting. Or if you are an independent person figuring out how to do that so you can turn it into a book or a talk or your own platform as an entrepreneur or startup business, look at one of my Red Thread Weekends and you can find that at redthreadweekend.com.
You definitely want to meet Tamsen. If not work with her, meet her. Meet her and you'll want to work with her [laughter]. She's pretty amazing, so-- or else I wouldn't put her on the show so much. You should know that by now. Last but not least, we have Julian Zilberbrand. You can find him at this wee little company called Viacom, which is at viacom.com. Tell us, what's going on in your world? What would you like to promote, Julian?
I mean, as always, I would love to promote you watching more television [laughter]. Specifically, if you are a Nielsen home. But even if you are not, you should still watch a lot of television. And oh, by the way, if you haven't already gone, SpongeBob on Broadway is actually kind of awesome. Awesome for adults. Take your kids. Everybody has a good time [laughter].
That was a lot of promotion in there. I'm not so sure the Nielsen family thing was kosher, but that's okay [laughter]. As for me, for more information about me or the show, visit thebeancast.com. There you can find a complete show archive. You can find out how to consult with me. You can even find out how to advertise on the program, so check it out at thebeancast.com. And don't forget, we now have transcription and our transcription partner is transcribeme.com. Just go to transcribeme.com, your first order's going to get you 20% off when you use the code bean20. That's bean20. So check it out at transcribeme.com.
And now it's time for the Ad Fail Five, a rundown of the lowest moments in advertising, marketing, and public relations from the last week. And first up, the Snap story keeps getting better and better, Saul. First the outrageously high payout to the founder. That caused a lot of eyebrows to raise. Then news that employees bonuses were not being given out because sales targets were not hit, even though the founder got a bonus. Now, they lay off 120 engineers because assumedly their not doing well in terms of their sales and marketing. So this is a communication plan that needs to listen to itself. They have just put these three events back to back in such a manner that it's causing this huge misunderstanding about who this brand is and what exactly they're going to try to do [laughter].
Yeah. It's almost like they went to one of Tamsen's Red Thread weekends because they're truly living their brand promise and that promise is, nothing is permanent including bonuses and jobs [laughter].
The Red Thread of Snap [laughter]. Now, next up, United Airlines decided it would be fun and creative way to-- I'm sorry, let's start this again. United Airlines decided it would be a fun and creative move to replace employees bonuses with a lottery for money and prizes. Tamsen, employees were just not amused, leaving the brand in full damage control. What do you think about this move by United Airlines? Good idea to replace bonuses with prizes and lotteries.
What were they thinking, that they could fly the friendly prize? I don't think so. This surprises me not at all.
Now, next up, infamously conservative independent television station owner Sinclair apparently has been compelling news anchors at all of its stations to create promos denouncing the fake news media whether they agreed with the sentiment or not. Julian, this is not a surprise to me - that Sinclair would do this - but man, what a terrible, terrible accusation that people are making against them if this is true. This is just not kosher at all.
It's not a good look for Sinclair. I have to tell you, now, their only saving grace is that the general person knows no idea and has no idea who Sinclair is [laughter]. So in most cases, unless you're in the advertising industry, you probably have no clue who they are and what's being done. But this is a little scary and it lends to a little bit of a scary propaganda play that I think people really need to be aware of.
Don't you kind of want someone to pull a Peter Finch Howard Beale, and in the middle of their read start screaming, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."?
It would be great if someone were to actually do that. Now next up, Buzzfeed. The biggest proponent of native ads and one of the most outspoken critics of programmatic advertising is now - wait for it Tamsen - offering programmatic ads. Yet another one has fallen into the hands of the programmatic beast. This was bound to happen, right? I mean, there's no way that Buzzfeed could've survived any longer just depending entirely upon their native ads units, right?
"You'll never believe what Buzzfeed did next [laughter]. Oh, no. I couldn't possibly have imagined that they would do something like that, ever," she says sarcastically. Of course they're going to go where the money is. I mean, everybody does. Ugh.
Yeah. Well, that's the only way to survive anymore. I mean everybody's dependant on the programmatic universe. And last but not least, when you are an NCAA March Madness Basketball announcer and your employer's exclusive beverage sponsor is Coke, it's probably best, Saul, not to do what Grant Hill did and film a commercial for Mountain Dew that mocks exclusive ad deals. It just seems like nobody was really thinking about this when they put this deal together for him because he's associated with-- this is like one of those NASCAR guys-- when you're not showing the Pepsi or not showing the Coca-Cola products because they're a Pepsi sponsored car. This is just not cool, the way this went down, right?
So technically, one, I just think it's a bad ad. But beyond that, I don't see what the big deal is. LeBron James promotes. He's sponsored by Powerade. Gatorade is the national sponsor of the NBA. If you ever watch an NBA game, LeBron just has the labels ripped off the Gatorade. He has to drink it on the side of the court, but he will not actually show anybody he's drinking it because he has a contract. If they really were so concerned about this, then they should have just locked up Grant Hill into a contract or something. I actually don't see what the big deal is. To me, it's just a bad ad.
Oh, but it comes down-- for me, it comes down to the content of the ad itself. Because the content of the ad made fun of the sponsorship and did everything but say that, "We're advertising in and around March Madness even though we're not a March Madness sponsor.
Somebody's agent was not paying attention.
Yeah. That seems like a clear-cut violation of some kind of exclusivity rights, so it's a problem. Well, have something to add to this list or just want to discuss it? Comment online. Use the hashtag #adfail5. That's pound adfail and the number 5. Well, that does it for this week's show. If you'd like to subscribe to this podcast visit our website at thebeancast.com and click on the subscribe link. If you're an iTunes listener, we've also provided a direct link to the iTunes Music Store, or just search for the BeanCast on the podcast directory of iTunes. And whichever podcast directory you use, including Amazon Echo or Google Play, when you subscribe please leave us a review. Got a comment? Have a question? We'd love to hear from you. Just send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Opening theme was performed by Joe Sybil. Closing theme by Craig Jacks. Thanks for listening. I'm Bob Knorpp. We'll be back again next week. Hope you'll join us then.