Hungry Kids In The Crib Pocket Like It’s Hot…Talk About Finding Your Audience

Dennis Ryan, Advertising4,240,041 views.  That’s the number racked up after three weeks for this YouTube posting of the “Pocket Like It’s Hot” video featuring Snoop Dogg for Hot Pockets. This shameless remix of his hit “Drop It Like It’s Hot” is infectiously repetitive, clinging to the synapses like mental velcro.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this three and a half minute long Judah Friedlander-directed clip is how it features a long-standing but heretofore unacknowledged audience for this microwaved meal: stoned young adults. A far more expected TV spot features young adults too, but without the recognizable overlay of ‘weekend evening use occasion.’ Whether all this means parent company Nestlé has finally rolled over to accept the PG13 reality of their target market or that they’re simply exploiting an opportunity to gain online buzz (see what I did there?), remains to be seen.

In the meantime, just try to shake this hook from your head.  POCKET LIKE IT’S HOT, POCKET LIKE IT’S HOT…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Ali Velshi Had a Long Day–Someone Get Him A Towel

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonPerhaps you’ve heard of Ali Velshi. He’s an anchor and chief business correspondent for CNN in New York City. And all day Monday he stood in the middle of an intersection in downtown Atlantic City, bringing us live updates as Hurricane Sandy wrought its wrath upon New Jersey.  As the coverage went on and the waters rose, Ali’s position became more and more precarious. In a few hours around dinnertime, I watched him go from knee to waist deep. When last I looked, he was clinging to a traffic pole as the wind-whipped seawater raced past him down the street.

I don’t pretend to know Ali personally. I know from his LinkedIn page that he has a BA in Religious Studies from Queen’s University, which no doubt helped hone his critical thinking, but did precious little to prepare him for yesterday’s gig.

All I hope is that he’s home now, freshly showered and changed into thick warm socks. And that someday soon, given the sophistication of digital visual effects, we get over our compulsion to send reporters out in dangerous conditions merely to fulfill our idle curiosity.  There’s gotta be a better way.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Seeing Our Greatest President In Almost Living Color

Time magazine commissioned an artist to colorize a few classic images from the National Archive of our 16th President. Swedish artist Sanna Dullaway used Photoshop first to clean up any blemishes on Lincoln’s image and then to add realistic color. The effect is hypnotic and engrossing–this extraordinary leader seems suddenly…tangible.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

What’s particularly interesting is that Sanna is twenty two.  She’s been at this for less than two years, getting her start by posting her colorized version Malcolm Browne’s heartbreaking burning monk image from the Vietnam War: an image she found on Rage Against The Machine’s debut album.  That piece went viral, as have many others since.

But what’s really interesting is that you can commission her as well.  As her website reads:  “Using state-of-the-art technology and artistic talent, I will turn your black and white memories into vivid colour. Since each photo is unique and have a great emotional value it would be a perfect gift to a family member or friend.”

Unfortunately, that was before last week.  Once the Time story broke, jobs poured in.  As she puts it on a website update on pricing: “I’m afraid I do not have the time to colourize private photos for the time being – I am currently too busy with commercial projects. Please check back again in a couple of weeks!”

She clearly knows how the web works. Supply and demand and all that.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

A Daddy/Daughter Dream, Shared and Amplified by an Online Community

Two years ago, Kathryn DiMaria asked her Father if she could build a Pontiac Fiero. She was twelve at the time. Now she’s fourteen, and doing just that.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonAfter spending $450 for an ’86, she and her Father started the long, laborious process of restoring it. But she’s not by herself in her Dad’s garage in Dearborn, Michigan because they are chronicling all of it on, a site ‘for the Fiero community, by the Fiero community.’

Over the past two years, this community has all but adopted Kathryn. They follow her posts, sending along advice, suggestions, even auto parts. The sheer volume of content and responses fills twenty-three pages. An undeniable tone of paternal pride runs through the entries (along with a somewhat dispiriting display of atrocious spelling)–encouraging, teaching and fiercely partisan. It is the web at its best–selfless, generous and yes, loving. These followers are people united only by shared interests and values. And they rally around this determined young woman.

Yes, there’s the other, limb-mangling underbelly of the web, where trolls spout venom from their dark caves of anonymity, preying upon insecurities and belittling girls. But witnessing the human penchant for mutual support demonstrated in such a straightforward manner restores one’s faith in humanity. CNN recently published a nice write up of the project and the response has been universally positive, even wistful.

After all, who among us doesn’t want their daughters to grow up capable, independent and strong?  Who doesn’t want them to be cherished and protected, cheered and uplifted?  Nurtured, honored and valued.

Every now and then, we get it so right. Every once in a while, we get to see that it truly can take a village. And we are all better for it.  You go Kathryn.  And Happy Friday.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Internet Famous

Becoming internet famous was not an option a decade ago.  Not really.  But today, if you tweet hard enough and hilarious enough, you can get a sitcom.  Or at least a Klout score in the forties.  Same if you really know how to work Facebook or Pinterest or YouTube or even Etsy–all of these communities have leaders and shining stars.  Social media empowers a certain kind of meritocracy.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonBut sometimes, people are funny simply because they can’t help themselves. And during this long, loud, relentlessly contentious election season of red asshat vs. blue asshat, I so appreciate that.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

So Facebook Released an Earnings Report Yesterday…

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising–and Mark Zuckerberg said a few interesting things.

While attacking the myth that they can’t make money on mobile, Zuckerberg reported that their mobile active user base had grown 61% since last year.  Apparently 14% of their revenue now comes from mobile.  He also touts the mobile Newsfeed as a ‘natural ad format.’  So get ready for that to start to suck…

On the other extreme from ‘suck’, Instagram–acquired just last April–has already nearly quadrupled it’s users to over 100 million.

With monthly user count breaking a billion, Facebook’s daily reach now exceeds the Super Bowl by a factor of three.  Three times more, daily.  Wow.

Still, I don’t trust Facebook.  I frequently disagree with it.  Yet I use it multiple times, everyday.  And for some reason that I can’t quite pinpoint, that simple fact makes me feel like I’ve taken up smoking again.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

The Sneaky Nature of Large Scale Behavioral Change

So our TV went on the fritz Sunday night and a quick check showed I had to replace a bad Comcast HD DVR.  Anything involving service from this deservedly-maligned company gives me significant pause, but the thought of missing “Modern Family” spurred me to pursue a DIY option.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonThat in itself is newsworthy.  But that’s not the story.  The story is that I used my iPhone to take a few photos of the input configuration on the back of the machine.  And so last night, when I hooked up my replacement DVR, I called up the photo to wire it correctly.  And by golly, the thing actually worked.  Candidly, I still can’t believe it.

But forget my momentary and entirely uncharacteristic triumph over Comcast.  Consider the meta implications of that action–my smartphone has quietly but permanently replaced my pen.  We are visual people, we like visual diagrams, and so I took a shot of the wiring.  Just like I took a shot of the parking section I used at the airport.  And the chairs we thought of buying for the living room.  And the name of that great bottle of wine at dinner.

One fascinating, year old post on the 1000 memories blog lists a number of mind-blowing facts that prove that lots of other people do what I’m doing.  Two years ago, we were already uploading over six billion photos to Facebook every month.  At the time, their photo collection numbered over 140 billion–10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.  Estimates indicate we have taken 3.5 trillion photos since the medium was invented.  Today, what we photograph has changed (no cost snapping encourages usage), as has how we take them, most likely with our ubiquitous smart phones.

My phone is my alarm clock.  My phone is my window into Facebook.  My phone is my notepad and a dozen other indispensable tools.

And I don’t particularly like using the phone.

But somehow this happened.  While we weren’t paying attention.  And the axis shifts, ever so subtly, to a new norm.

It’s clear that getting ahead of, or at least in line with, those shifts is ever more critical in this advertising business.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

New York: America’s Most Aggressively Art Directed City

The one quality that really makes an idea sing for me is surprise.  We all feel a jolt when someone uses words or music or imagery to capture our attention in an entirely new way.  That’s what draws us to art and comedy and movies and music: that element of freshness, that unique delight of some original thing.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonWhich is why spending a long weekend in New York City can be so energizing.  Of course there’s Times Square’s adrenalizing crush of freak show humanity, but around every corner and in all manners of stores in the five boroughs surprise awaits.  Floors of honed marble at Dean and DeLuca or wavy mosaics at Pastis…the tourist-focused but still astounding industrial patinas of Chelsea Market…even something as relatively simple yet undeniably engaging as the Highline; all deliver on some level of surprise and demand your attention, if only for a moment.

No, New York does not hold a sole position as a purveyor of urban remark ability; our newly adopted hometown of Minneapolis reveals something new and fascinating everyday.  Still, the sheer volume of New York’s art directed impact overwhelms the senses.

Which is probably why a three day visit is enough.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


I know; I’ve been gone a bit.  Some things came up.  But I’ll get back at it now–thanks for reading.