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

Creativity and Creative Surroundings

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingEarlier this week, we won the Saucony business at Olson. That was a hill of fun. But last night, my wife noticed an item in the latest issue of Mpls St Paul magazine (I suppose you pronounce this periodical’s name as if the city names were not abbreviated but they are which makes me a bit insecure about saying this title aloud).

Olson was cited as the best new office space in the Twin Cities. Our offices in the Ford Center are rather awesome–loaded with manufacturing history as a vertical assembly plant built in 1913 to produce Model T’s and recently given a $42 million LEED compliant overhaul. I believe inspiring environments like ours have a direct impact on the quality of creative thinking.

Happily, I’m in good company with that notion. No less than polio-eradicator Dr. Jonas Salk credited time spent walking along columns and through cloistered courtyards at a 13th century monastery in Assisi, Italy, as critical to discovering his history-altering vaccine. Salk championed architecture’s ability to positively influence the mind, stimulate breakthroughs and encourage creativity throughout his life.

We try to do that everyday too. Particularly Friday’s. Have a good one.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Hostess May Become Bimbo To Save Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonIt sounds like a synopsis of a Nintendo game. Seriously, this stuff writes itself.

It’s also not particularly true. Stories like these are one of the less-productive outcomes of ‘citizen journalism’. Thanks to always on social networks, sensational notions spread very quickly based on nothing more than how talk-worthy and readily sharable they are.

If you heard this rumor, you understand why every major marketer should be cultivating their brand community. Opinion and recommendation is a whole new media platform.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


As The Economy Goes, So Goes Advertising. And Inevitably, Groupon Too.

Blame it on the mortgage crisis.  Or the iPhone introduction. Or Barry Bonds’ steroid use. Whatever tripped the market stumble back in 2007, crushed the advertising industry in terms of spend. And according to analyses by four research companies, five years later, the recovery doesn’t look to be hard charging toward recovery. It’s more of a lope. Or a saunter. Maybe an amble.  But certainly no hard charge.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingWe’re definitely doing better than the all-time low of 2009, but at predictions of 2-4% growth, our business can only make the passbook savings sector envious. The real problem is that in tough times, many advertisers abandon proven advertising investments and instead ramp up a snipe-hunt like search for IROI (Immediate Returns On Investment). As recently as a year ago, that dream of new advertising platforms led to the ludicrous–and potentially scandalous–overvaluation of Groupon. Remember those halcyon days when this exciting new platform was going to reinvent advertising? When banks like Goldman publicly agreed with its eighteen billion dollar valuation after the IPO, despite the fact that the company was still not profitable when they filed with the SEC five months earlier? Remember how these daily dealers were going to change the paradigm?

Yeah, no one else does either. Funny how distance and the cold light of day kind of put a dimmer on hyperbole.

Sure, 83.1 million people once subscribed to Groupon’s daily deals. But price promotions, even if wildly successful, are entirely unsustainable. They are the crack cocaine of marketing–fast, intense, and ultimately incredibly unhealthy. Yes, Groupon provided small businesses with a new platform, but that platform was only about discounting, not brand building. Giveaways aren’t something any business can afford to do week in and week out. It definitely attracts an audience of users, but don’t confuse those users with fans. Or god forbid, a brand community.

Not surprisingly, Groupon is nowhere near an eighteen billion dollar valuation today. Not surprisingly, a Raymond James survey of merchants that used daily deal services during the Fall found that nearly forty percent were not likely to run another Groupon promotion over the next couple of years. And not surprisingly, Groupon’s founders have long since cashed out. Because the problem with any IROI is that it is a mirage–a sop to marketers desperate to find returns without the discipline of investment. Yes, there are new ways to go to market. But much like losing that extra Holiday weight, they still require long term commitment to see results.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

The Upside? Our New Work for Whole Foods Was Adweek’s Ad of the Day. The Downside? That’s Where AgencySpy Discovered It…

It really was a delightful surprise: Noreen O’Leary called and asked some keen questions about our new “Come Together” campaign for Whole Foods and the next day, Adweek featured it as their online “Ad of the Day.”  A rather lovely experience, all things considered.

And then we learned that AgencySpy wanted to post about it too.  AgencySpy can only be described as something akin to our industry’s intellectual brothel: a gathering place of both news and trolls. In this small industry, it helps you keep up with who has moved where and what new work you may have missed. But as an anonymous forum for invective, it can be a bruising, brutal place.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingSomehow, that wasn’t our experience yesterday. Oh sure, one commenter described our work as “nicely executed crap” but two others actually offered reasoned critiques around its strategy and singularity—not that I agreed with them, but still, their comments seemed more intended to debate than defame.

But my favorite was the writer who commented that “Whole foods sold me 9 month expired pasta sauce yesterday. WTF Olson?”

Wow. Indeed. WTF?


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

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

Billy Idol Got It Right: With This, and Essentially Every Blog Post, I Am Dancing With Myself

Check out this infographic, swiped from those innovative wags over at mbaonline.com.  It simply serves up widely-available data about our daily web interactions, but viewed in the collective–with pretty pictures–it’s staggering.  Three years ago, I used to blow clients minds with the simple fact that everyday, people upload 9,200 hours of video to YouTube, a figure made more staggering since there are only 8,760 hours in a year.

Today, that number stands at 864,000 hours of video.  Or damn near 100 years worth of kitties and bad karaoke uploaded every day.  The ease of posting from your cell phone makes this inevitable.

On the upside, I guess I don’t have to sweat my punctuation and word choice so much: with two million blog posts launching every day, who’s gonna notice?

Anyway, enjoy.  Or get very scared.  Or, far more likely, go find some other distraction.  The net’s lousy with them…

Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson, Minneapolis, Chicago

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson