Powering Down…

People blog for all sorts of reasons; the discipline of daily writing, the joy of self expression, the fleeting sensation of relevance when a couple hundred people read a post. Over the past two years, I’ve blogged every weekday for all those reasons and one far more important: to keep up. Or perhaps more accurately, to catch up.

I’ve enjoyed a terrific career making advertising but three years ago, when my prior agency’s fortunes changed suddenly and radically, I looked up and realized the world had changed while I was busy making TV campaigns. I had largely ignored the biggest revolution in marketing: the pervasiveness of digital screens, the stunningly-swift adoption of social networks and the increasing presence of mobile marketing.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingI started blogging everyday to force myself to explore all these emerging platforms and immerse myself in the new reality. As Facebook continued to work it’s way every deeper into our lives, I started to recognize how social networks can provide savvy brands with crowdsourced PR. I was amazed how transparent and public people had become, sharing remarkable details of their personal lives. I learned about search and geo-tagging and the seamy creepiness behind unchecked online tracking. And I probably saw more than my fair share of virals and flashmobs and public self-destruction at the hand of Twitter.

I learned a lot, both by actively searching for subjects to discuss and happily, by reading comments posted and emailed from smart people offering their own points of view.  It’s been wonderful catching up.

But I gotta cut back. We’re doing lots of interesting things up here in Minneapolis, expanding the agency as we build and activate all sorts of brand communities for a wide range of clients. And I need to dedicate more time to that process.

So thanks for reading, thanks for your attention, thanks for your help. Going forward, I’ll post every now and then–habits can be tough to break–but my pace is definitely gonna slow.

Because advertising’s pace certainly isn’t.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

You Can Waste A Ton of Time In Sixty Seconds…

On Monday, MSNBC’s Technolog posted the graphic below which outlines exactly what happens out there on that World Wide Web every blessed minute of the day…on average of course.  Even a casual perusal can be kind of mind blowing: Google answers nearly 700,000 search queries, which is roughly the same number of status updates posted on Facebook each minute.  Over 168 million emails are sent, 20,000 new posts go up on Tumblr and over 13,000 hours of music stream over Pandora.  And beyond the limits of minutes, over 110 new pictures posted to Flickr every second!

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising

Of course, things really get crazy when you convert these minutes to full days.  Or god forbid, actual years.  Do the math on YouTube video uploads: if there are over twenty-five hours of video added every minute, that means there are over 1,500 hours each hour and a whopping 36,000 hours every day, which equates to well over four years worth of video. Every day.  Good luck keeping up with that.

Thanks to the ease of content generation, the explosion of social sharing and the basic premise of Web 2.0, content isn’t just King, it’s exponentially ubiquitous.  Or some other expression that means really, really freaking massive.

Damn internet, you scary big!

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Perhaps A Picture’s Worth A 1000 Words of Warning

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonYesterday, the FDA posted new graphics mandated for all US cigarette packaging and advertising by October of next year. They represent the latest and by far most serious escalation in the Surgeon General’s battle against cigarette addiction.  Two years ago, the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act forced cigarette packaging to include large type warning statements covering half of the front and back of each package, along with minor graphics on the sides. This newest mandate ups the ante from words to far more arresting graphics front and center: images like the sutured chest of a dead man, rotten teeth behind a cancerous lip lesion, and everyone’s favorite grim reaper party trick–smoking through a hole in your throat.

Depicting dead bodies and patients on ventilators represents a major step by U.S. health officials. Words can be ignored far more readily than images, particularly ones which at least initially, have the potential to sear themselves into your pre-frontal lobes.

The challenge of course, will be maintaining that shock value.  Over time, even the most disturbing images lose their impact.  And given the glacial pace of government bureaucracy, we can’t expect anyone will be updating these images frequently enough to keep our discomfort fresh and squeamish.  That’s really too bad…

Because come to think of it, that would be a really interesting job description.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Prada, Jimmy Choo, and now, Nicole Polizzi

As a writer, I admit to despising the phenomenon of reality television programming whose sole strength is raising conflict to an art form even as it shreds every other aspect of drama. Braying hyenas aren’t fascinating in a zoo, let alone Beverly Hills or the Jersey Shore.

Which is a long way of explaining that I have never watched Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi ‘perform’ in anything outside of a TV news clip. I know she’s on a popular show, I know it pretty much centers around mook-y behavior and I know if I were forced to watch a season of it, I would spoon my eyes out. This is the excellent foppery of the world, and all that…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonBut our culture confers celebrity on the most random people and that celebrity affords ancillary business opportunities which is why this person made noise this weekend for introducing flip-flops with pickles printed on them. Why pickles? I have no idea; perhaps buffalo wings didn’t reproduce well in line art. Whatever the reason, Nicole Polizzi now legitimately claims to be a footwear ‘designer’ adding this Summer line to her existing line of puffy shapeless slippers.

Somewhere, Christian Louboutin must be pounding his forehead with a three inch heel…

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

What Agencies Can Learn From JuicyStar07

I spend a lot of time talking to my daughters about the importance of making things rather than simply consuming things. Anyone can buy stuff; it’s far more interesting to create something–a poem, a drawing, a video.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingBut maybe I have it wrong. Because one of the biggest categories of User Generated Content on YouTube is the “Haul” video: clips of mostly younger teen girls showing off the merchandise and deals they bring home from every shopping trip. The biggest player in this genre is JuicyStar07, also known as eighteen year old Blair Fowler. For the past three years, she’s uploaded videos chronicling her every purchase and every shopping concern from her unapologetically pink bedroom.  She is a bona fide web celeb but in her words “I’m just a girl who loves anything beauty, fashion, girly, glitzy, and pink!”

Now if you’re at all inclined to middle-aged crankiness like me, watching those videos might sound as appealing as taking a belt sander to your teeth. Who in their right mind would want to watch a teeny bopper prattle on into her laptop’s camera about lipgloss and miniskirts?

Of course, you’d think that. And you’d be a know-nothing idiot. Because as inexplicable as that content might seem to you, it’s earned Blair nearly 136 million views in less than three years. Given YouTubes ad revenue sharing plan, that pays off nicely. But the benefits don’t stop at fame and fortune. Blair leads a loosely-affiliated army of consumers with incredible buying power: she has sold out products with a single tweet. So merchants send her products just hoping she will review them and create demand. JuicyStar07 earns fame, fortune and free stuff. And yes, she recently hired a publicist.

With no investment beyond time and passion, Blair has gathered a narrow but powerful community that shares her enthusiasm for shopping and wields enormous influence on her market. It’s enough to make the rest of us feel like we’ve led a lifetime of hapless slackerhood.

That is a testament to the power of community. And Web 2.0. And enthusiasm. All things any agency can bring to bear for their clients.

Good for you JuicyStar07.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


The 2% Solution: Online Video vs. Broadcast Revenue

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonMore and more carriers like Comcast, Turner and Disney are migrating tremendous amounts of their proprietary content to the web.  At last week’s Elevate Video Advertising Summit in NYC, they announced that they plan to make 75% of their TV content available on line or mobile in the next two years. As iPads and Droids become de facto TV screens for a platform-agnostic younger generation, a real question for marketers remains where advertising will intersect that content, particularly when you consider the revenue.

Television advertising generates $70 billion a year.

Online video produces $1.5 billion.

That’s just over 2% of television. Yes, online numbers are growing but remarkably, so are television’s.

So what this really means is that things won’t be getting any more obvious any time soon.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Just When You’ve Written Off Balloon Sculpture…

No one really expects to be wowed by balloon sculpture, that hackneyed, low-brow artform of a thousand lousy birthday parties. After you pass the age of six, there’s not a lot of fascination left from watching some clown pull skinny latex tubes from his fanny pack and whip it into a poodle/silly hat/mom-safe pirate sword. It’s a tired genre.

And then you see something like this…

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising

This is “Spinosaurus” by Larry Moss and as you can see, it is awesome.

Apparently, Larry never got the message that balloon sculpture was tired and silly. No, to Larry, an ex-New York street artist, colored latex balloons are a medium to push to new and amazing places. To Larry, folding air is an artform he calls “Airigami” and as he explains in this charming TED video, a way to bring together communities.

To the rest of us, Larry Moss and his pursuits are a reminder that everyday, every mundanity is another opportunity to create surprise and delight.

God love Larry Moss. May his life be long and free of destructive pricks.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Feline Friday Video Awesome: Point and Counterpoint

Different people have different feelings towards cats as these two videos attest. First, this viral which exploded all across the web yesterday.

If it seems like Deb likes cats too much, it’s probably because she does. That “Debbie” feels like a character, one who bears an uncanny resemblance to “Cara” and “Kara” on the YouTube Channel of Cara Hartmann. No matter–she just really loves cats.

–unlike the people at Chicago editorial-house WhiteHouse Post who take a decidedly grimmer, and bloodier, view of felines. Yes, try as I might, its hard to view a little kitty in a cardboard tank as anything but adorable…right Debbie?

Happy Frrrrrrrriday!

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson