Well, It Looks Like I Can Keep My Jeep

You may have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Things just kind of got away from me and despite a bounty of great topics ($1.1 billion for Tumblr? Really Yahoo!?), I got sidetracked by other things the biggest of which was our agency’s pitch for the Porsche business. The potential prestige of a win like that kept us working nights and weekends, filled with hopes and dreams.

Late yesterday afternoon, we learned we didn’t win. Sure, it happens more often than not in this business but still, you can’t ratchet down your dreams until you get the final call from the client. Which we did.

I posted this to Facebook within about half an hour of hearing the news. By then, Ad Age had broken the story so confidentiality was a non-issue.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising

Well Ad Age tweeted that Olson didn’t win Porsche. And I won’t lie; that’s more than a bit heartbreaking. But here in the ORD Delta Sky Club, CNN is reporting that there’s a school in OK that a hurricane obliterated. And unlike some other parents, I’m lucky to go home to my girls. And my 13 yo texted me this: “I’m so sorry! What a bummer! Don’t worry though, u are the best advertising company! And they are too wimpy to take on your awesomeness.”  It’s a pretty good day after all. 

Its not the most original sentiment, but it seemed to strike a chord, particularly Grace’s encouraging words. It was Liked nearly 200 times, which beats my average Facebook post by a factor of, well, around 200x. And the comments were uniformly encouraging and empathetic.

Basically, we’re not all that different. All of us really want to win and do interesting things and it bums us out when we don’t. But at those times, its worth bearing in mind that your client or friend or organization just might be “–too wimpy to take on your awesomeness.”

Here’s to your awesomeness.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

The Ever Observant Alan Spindle Posted This During Yesterday’s Broadcast

NFLHe captioned this Facebook update with: “I must say, this Houston Texans logo is quite groundbreaking. I have no idea what inspired them to create such an out-there design.”

Sometimes social media’s biggest reward is a smart observation or witty bon mot. You know, just like you might overhear in some other social situation.

Because engagement strategies notwithstanding, with Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Instagram, it’s always social first.

Good one Alan…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Social is Visual

Todays MediaPost reports that HubSpot, creators of software for inbound marketers, released a new study on social engagement which found, perhaps not surprisingly, that using visuals on Facebook Pages boosted response and engagement.

Their methodology was pretty simple–take about 9,000 B2B and B2C company posts and  compare Likes-per-photo vs Likes-per-posts.  Not only did photos earn 53% more Likes than average, they also earned 104% more comments.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

Courtesy of Awkward Stock Photos

This follows the simple trend of our culture’s increasingly visual orientation.  The Facebook community uploads nearly 300 million photos every day and marketers who want to be relevant need to think visually as well.  Just please lord, don’t let this lead to a crush of vapid stock photography usage.

Then again, maybe that will help Mark Zuckerberg create huge demand so he can start to monetize his Instagram investment and sell businesses all of those photos…  Hmm…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Well That Was The Perfect Internet Story…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonAs humanity awoke this morning to find itself still standing despite all the yap for the past year and a half, a bit more sobriety entered the collective water cooler conversation. The Mayan Apocalypse was essentially the perfect internet story; hugely dramatic and just plausible enough given its grounding in a little understood but widely recognized ancient culture. It didn’t require intelligence to discuss; just a facile glibness or quick punchline. And while it centered on Doomsday, it wasn’t nearly as scary as the far more uncertain society that fills our newsfeeds and can break our hearts ten new ways each and every day. And so despite the spate of debunking articles that have circulated for months, we willfully kept it alive, enjoying its a frisky, puppy-like distraction.

Frivolities like this pass for journalism these days. Television was once considered the most voracious maw for content consumption but it is nothing compared to the infinite pages and constant, mind-spinningly fast turning of the web (Google just returned about 309,000,000 results in 0.17 seconds for “Mayan Apocalypse”). Meme sharing, sex scandals, horrific acts of violence; all of this is fodder for the fast turn and quick commentary and so extremely useful for filling web pages. And if the focus on speed and sensation sometimes leads to linking the wrong person’s Facebook page photo to the name of the most vicious killer in recent memory, well, whoops. We’ll be moving on in a fifteen hours or so.

Come to think about it, I’m going to miss this Mayan calendar distraction. So many of our other stories seem so small and dull in comparison.

Happy Friday, glad we’re still talking.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Don’t Like Instagram’s New Terms of Service? Wait Sixteen Hours.

Oh Mark Zuckerberg, when will you learn?

Instagram started this week by quietly making two major shifts in their terms of service. For one, they claimed ownership over every image their users post, enabling them to sell those images without compensation or notification, even as they simultaneously absolved themselves of any class action liability. Oh, and they offered no opt out.

This is lousy. Kind of heinous even. The fact that they tried to slip it through with a blog post that made no mention of these specific changes demonstrates a corporate oiliness we’ve grown to expect from Facebook-owned entities. Still, blatant chutzpah notwithstanding, you have to admire how quickly and cheaply they crowdsourced the world’s biggest stock photo library…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonBut as should be expected in a medium that trades on information, the web noticed, word spread and within hours, a massive backlash mushroomed. Predictably, Instagram seemed to reverse course by mid-day Tuesday. This rhebus outlines the action; first the company announces, then the web revolts, then the company recants, claiming to be misunderstood with a PR spin absolutely no one believes.

We should be used to this kind of end around from any Facebook-owned entity. It’s not like this is new behavior from Mr. Z; it’s almost like he can’t stop himself from imperiously disrespecting the people who use his services. How many times has he tried to sneak through surreptitious changes to Facebook’s privacy policies?

But all’s better now, right? Actually, not so fast. First, their CEO simply claimed “it’s not our intention to sell your photos”–which is hardly legally binding. Instagram’s new terms of service remain–this is just damage control.

They also haven’t recanted the second shift in their terms of service; namely that “…we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.” In other words, that cool photo you see on your home page? That might actually be paid content, or what old people call ‘ads.’

The web runs on sponsored content, and we accept that. But on reputable sites, it’s identified, helping those sites maintain both credibility and an ethical balance with visitors. With this policy, Instagram is intentionally creating a gray area and you can almost hear them daring their users; “go on, see if you can tell what’s organic and what we’ve placed there.”

Hmmm…  I’m no dotcom billionaire, but it seems to me, the web community just proved they’re pretty good at that.

So long Instagram, it was a fun two years.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


PS: Thanks Devin Bousquet, for the awesome profile picture.

As A Matter of Fact, I Do Have A Friend From Alabama…

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingAnd this past Sunday, he spent his afternoon researching the radical changes in the college football bowl game experiences between our youth and this current age.

The irrepressible Neilan Tyree is a man whose personal and professional lives are deeply intertwined with the worlds of marketing, entertainment, and general fabulousness. As committed to his Tide as I am to my beloved Irish, he spent last weekend drawing very direct comparisons between the bowl games after the 1972 season and what we will experience in about four weeks. The difference is stunning; if you’ve never considered how shamelessly the NCAA milks the Final Four for advertising money, you can’t even pretend to overlook the way it leverages football.

Why did he do it? Because so much of our current system simply makes him gag. To Neilan’s mind, there are simply too many bowls with too many silly names over too long a schedule, and that hurts the product. The over abundance of bowl games basically guarantee everyone gets to go–and here I’m talking to you, Wisconsin at 8-5. To Neilan, this chart illustrates how wildly that simple fact has devalued the intrinsic excitement that once accompanied earning a bowl berth.  Anyway, enjoy his astounding homework, and note his color coding of the teams: sixteen of the twenty-two that played in 1972 are back this year as well.Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

We May All Now Return To Updating Our Status With Our Daily Arcania…Or Blog Links.

If you’ve logged onto Facebook within the last week, you’ve noticed the rash of status updates that read like this:

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingIn response to the new Facebook guidelines* I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, writings, music, recordings, photographs, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above, my written consent is needed at all times!  By the present communique, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
*Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status update (Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws.).

It’s a veritable LegalZoom out there as people scramble to protect their privacy rights.  The only bummer is, they’re not. Posting this accomplishes nothing, aside from perhaps making it appear like you could teach Judge Judy a thing or two.

According to Snopes, this claim has been circulating for a few years now; what drove this meme’s resurgence among my friends this Thanksgiving is not entirely clear.

“Open capital entity” or not, Facebook can dictate whatever privacy rights they please. And historically those have amounted to:

  1. Few.
  2. None.

There are no retroactive do-overs. There is no protecting the intellectual property you post on Facebook. We all made a deal with that devil when we signed up for our free accounts.

Of course, if it’s any help, the real way Facebook wants to exploit you is not by swiping your hilarious postings about Monday mornings–they’re all about your data. Who you are, what you like, where you live–with the right algorithm, these innocuous factoids can be woven together to paint a rich portrait of who you are as a consumer and help clever advertising professionals find yet another way for you to consider purchasing their clients’ services.

Hmm…maybe that doesn’t make you feel better. Welcome to the brave new world.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson 

The Launch of Bauer’s New Campaign: Another Reason Why I Moved To Minneapolis and Olson

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingOn Monday, Advertising Age wrote about our launch of Bauer’s first new brand campaign since 1996. Their angle was how we adjusted our creative in light of the NHL lockout, shifting the focus from our roster of A-list professional stars to our core brand community of young hockey players. It was a nice article. And it was really nice when cbssports.com and ESPN’s Darren Rovell also picked it up.

My own angle would be far different. I’ve launched many brand campaigns during my career, but as a TV storyteller, I’m thrilled to be part of a major brand campaign that launched digitally.  On Bauer’s website. And Facebook page. And it’s been exciting and validating to watch how it’s spreading in the Bauer brand community. #ownthemoment is getting a lot of play on Twitter, even beyond our ice hockey community.

At Olson, we talk about the importance of communities to brands; how their endorsements shortcut the traditional sales funnel, how word of mouth is a powerful new media platform and mostly, how activating a brand community can help shape and improve a brand’s bottom-line.

It’s no coincidence that over the past seven years, the Bauer brand community helped grow this tired old brand that once stood a distant third to become number one in every category: sticks, skates, pads, helmets (and honestly, can you even name three hockey brands?). That’s a tremendous accomplishment that wasn’t done through a huge spend but rather targeted community engagement, giving them relevant content and themes to share with their friends, all of which added credence to Bauer’s credibility as the true brand in hockey.

But what’s most exciting are our plans to later launch the TV portion of the advertising. We’ve already cut a nice :60 brand spot featuring amateurs and pros alike, but we won’t air that version first. Instead, we are running a contest where we invite our community to share personal video showing how they own the moment: in practice, in games, while traveling, wherever.  We are collecting and sharing their footage and the kicker is, we will edit some of this community-sourced footage into our broadcast debut spot.

In other words, our brand community will both shape our message, and then, further spread it as the winners notify their own networks about when to see them in a Bauer TV spot.

This is film doing more. This is TV with no dead ends. And this is exactly why I came to Olson: to learn, to grow, to reinvent. It’s really, really exciting.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Two Posts: Two Conflicting Opinions

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonThis morning, my friend Matt Burgess forwarded the latest blog entry from the AdContrarian: the ridiculously well-opinioned Bob Hoffman of Hoffman/Lewis who regularly writes really interesting perspectives on the ad business (I should try to do that myself…). He argues quite persuasively that Facebook, with all it’s massive data and reach, is pursuing a misguided business strategy. As he puts it, “Facebook is the only media company in the universe that reaches a billion people on a regular basis but seems determined to sell cheesy $2 ads to dentists.” Ouch. He goes on to make a number of very astute observations regarding the nature of engagement and conversion, specifically that interactivity is the enemy of advertising since most people interact to avoid advertising, not play with it, unless they are looking for something. He makes a number of other really good points, all of which led to a healthy discussion in the agency.

Then, around 4;30 this afternoon, Rich Routman posted a blog on MediaPost lamenting that connected TV had yet to really find an audience. He figured it would take a long time before it becomes a dominant form of programming consumption. With less than half of connected TV owners using their internet connections, clearly there’s a lot of confusion. A lot will have to change, especially for us to use it for something other than the obvious Netflix streaming.

Or is there? Maybe Bob Hoffman is right. Maybe people will only use connected TV’s interactivity to avoid advertising (i.e.: streaming Netflix) making nothing else really worthwhile…

But either way, this future predictability is turning out to be quite the challenge.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson