AWSC: Internet-bad vs Internet-good: Mitch Joel and Andrew Keen Debate the Influence of the Internet

There are a lot of topics that spark debates: religion, politics, Mac vs PC, Nikon vs Canon, Patriots vs Seahawks, and the list goes on. The good thing about debates is that they spark a healthy conversation. The bad things about debates is that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

Some debates are vanilla, some debates appear to be chocolate and end up being chocolate chunks with a drizzle. Earlier this week I got to witness a debate that ended up being the later: Is the Internet the Answer? Debating its Future Influence on Marketing and our Lives at FFW Advertising Week Canada.

Andrew Keen is an entrepreneur who recently released a book The Internet Is Not The Answer, in which he argues that the Internet contributes to inequality, unemployment, and surveillance. Mitch Joel, on the other hand, is a man behind the Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete, living and breathing digital revolution. Needless to say looking at the credentials of the panelists it was clear the debate was going to heat up.

Keen approaches the Internet the same way people looked at the Industrialization referring to the days when we stood in line to pick up a newspaper as the old-days. As soon as he made his opening statement it became clear I was going to stay on Joel’s court regardless of my education background being in the good-old-communications.

After stating that the Internet, and digitalization as a whole, are the cause of unemployment Keen referred to the jobs created by the Internet as the Gig Economy which takes jobs away from the working class. Quite frankly I believe that those dated definitions of social structure are no longer applicable to how we exist today. People of the ‘working class’ often exceed the incomes of white collar jobs and we are not a caste society. North America has gone through a rough recession and the Internet has allowed for people to not only expand their business using the World Wide Web but create their own jobs and run business they would not have been able to otherwise.

The web has an ability to increase visibility, grow customer base, and reach overseas markets. Without web presence a business is not a business and these days sometimes all you need to be a business is a website. Owning a retail store is an expense that runs many people into the ground but running a store on-line can be done by a single person out of a living room and many people do it quite successfully.

In the old days without the Internet bands could not be bands if they were unsigned. Today, even in this saturated music market, bands can become popular without any label support by getting their music out there for people to hear. You no longer absolutely need a music label to survive, talent and hard work can actually get you fame. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis got signed after they released The Heist and while they do charge for their music some bands (like Odesza) choose to giveaway their music for free making bank on tours, merchandise, and the ever-increasing demand for vinyl.

Admittedly the journalism industry was the most impacted by the Internet but it also allowed for people who could not get their content through to print publications become a person of interest for those same publications by growing a readership through their personal blogs (Mitch Joel being one of them). It allowed stay-at-home moms, retirees and people with weird hobbies to find ways to make money, supplement their income and survive with grace by doing what they enjoy. Yes it comes at the cost of advertising, but what business doesn’t need advertising to survive?

To touch on Keen’s last point, surveillance, I would like to bring your attention back to the good-old-days of Michel Foucault and Jeremy Bentham (the Panopticon model) – surveillance has always existed and it will always exist with or without our consent. There are probably at least a dozen cameras you pass on your way to work, do you know where that footage lives?

The Internet offers us a choice to decline the situations in which we are going to be surveyed at the cost of not using the services but we chose to agree at the cost of knowing that our information will be used (at least) for targeted advertising.

Internet is progress. It was that way when it first became a term and it will continue to be so simply because we cannot control it as a single enterprise. Although the web is governed in many ways at the end of the day it is a digital world created and operated by people.

The digital revolution is what we can do with the tools the Internet has to offer and while I agree that the fruits of such technology are not beneficial in all parts of the world (and not even in all parts of North America) the modern society we live in here now has been benefiting from the benefits of the Internet in ways no one had expected even when the built the first Personal Computer.

 

Originally published on Advertising Week Social Club here.

AWSC: Is the New Veet Ad Really Sexist or Have We Lost Our Sense of Humor?

Everyone has that brief they dread getting.

But there is one in particular no one wants to work on: female products. It doesn’t matter what the product is. It could be tampons or soda water. What makes this brief particularly dreadful is the target market.

She is concerned with her weight, she diets, or does not diet, she counts calories but loves chocolate and sweet flavored everything, she is concerned with how others perceive her, she has a dream jean size, a dream man and so on and so on. You get the point.

All of these briefs are the same.

Despite the fact that women, just like men, pets and exotic animals, come in different shapes and sizes with an avid range of interests, the advertising industry tends to put them/us into a very small box as a single group.

The scary part is many of these briefs are written by women, keeping us in that same box watching the same ad over and over: “be original, be you, be comfortable with your weight,” and so on and so on.

What happened to our other likes, hobbies and sense of humor?

Why are there so few ads that appeal to women in a none generic way?

I have been pondering the issue for a long time but the solution never seemed clear enough. Today, however, I think I finally got it.

While browsing the web for entertainment and creative inspiration, I came across the new Veet ad “Don’t Risk Dudeness.”

Immediately, I thought to myself: “this is some funny stuff.” While the concept isn’t all that original, the idea approaches female waxing products with a humorous perspective.

But, sadly, the concept will not live on. Veet’s marketing team had to make a public apology to the angered women of North America who immediately begun furiously accusing the brand of sexism and encouraging stereotypical gender constructs. Admittedly it’s not the most amazing concept but to say that this idea reinforces stereotypical gender constructs more than all of the women doing laundry in detergent ads is a bit aggressive.

We, as women, have fought so long for freedom of speech and opinion, the right to vote, and equal wage opportunities (still fighting that one), that we seem to have lost a sense of humor.

Men don’t get up in arms when their counterparts turn into Betty White when hungry. It’s funny. But no, not when it is women turning into bushy men. Women felt insulted, infuriated, misrepresented and swore off buying Veet ever again all because the agency pushed the idea of feeling a little less like a woman when unshaved into the funny park.

The stream of comments on the Veet Facebook page is astonishing:

“I’ll never buy Veet if this is how you think women should be portrayed in the media.”

“You intended to be funny, but what you ended up being was sexist, homophobic, body-shaming and transphobic.”

“You have no right to shame a woman who doesn’t follow what’s considered the norm.”

“I’m headed to Shoppers Drugmart right now. I’m going to write a short note explaining this event and post it on the Veet section of the store in the hopes that people will reconsider buying it.”

I know for a fact that I am not a particularly unique person. Like most people, I surround myself with alike individuals and while there are things that offend my female circle as women, this is not one of them so  find it hard to wrap my head around how many women felt offended by this ad.

Women often complain about how bad ads targeted at them are but it’s now clear to me that it is all their own fault.

Not all of us are alike. Some women exhibit a rather generous sense of humor (just read the comments for the BIC Pen for Her). But if this is a mass response it’s no wonder the industry is afraid to reach the edge of the box towards creative and funny.

So here is my question: how is it that in a world fueled by creativity, much of which comes from women, we tend to rise against everything that’s funny under the guise of feminism?

A majority of the comments on this ad were in regards to cosmetics ads telling women what they should look like and what the norm is, comments like: “Do you know why women hate themselves? It’s because you, the cosmetic companies, TELL US TO.”

But ladies, you know that saying: guns don’t kill people, people do? The point is we all have a mind of our own, you are all free to make your own decisions, you can chose to shave, or not shave, no one will stop you from going natural year round (and yes, there really is someone for everyone). No ad out there, in the 21st century, said “shame, shame, you forgot to shave!”

The real norm is what majority of the people do, not what the ads show. It’s no secret models are not “regular” people (but if you look closely they too have scars, stretch marks, cellulite, and all of those other same things we “regular” women do).

If we are going to be upset about this ad should we be upset about make up companies telling us to have longer eyelashes or plumper lips and to smell like tropical fruits and vanilla. Shouldn’t we than be also upset about women eating mostly salad and yogurt in ads? Why aren’t we this equally outraged about it being mostly women in capris and cardigans doing laundry on TV – I don’t see anyone taking their rage out on the Purex or Maybelline Facebook Walls.

Men may already know all of our dirty secrets and this is simply an exaggerated joke based on an insight that I am sure the agency, and some research organization, invested a lot of time in, talking to women like us.

They don’t go around complaining about the ads where they are shown fat, whipped, tired, feminine, or dumb because they see the humour in them, they can take a joke.

So why can’t we do the same?

 

Originally published on theawsc.com here.

Jean-François Bouchard: reinventing the ad agency model

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Jean-François Bouchard is the CEO & co-founder of Sid Lee, a global creative agency with headquarters in Montreal. What originally started as a boutique agency by two people in 1993 is now a team of 600 with offices in New York, Toronto, Paris, and Amsterdam.

Sid Lee stretches their talents from traditional advertising to multimedia experiences  and architecture. The agency was named “Agency of the Year” and one of the most performing agencies in the world by Forbes and has won multiple notable industry awards worldwide working on internationally recognized brands like Adidas, Cirque du Soleil, Ubisoft, Red Bull, and Absolut Vodka.

Two years ago, in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, Bouchard launched C2-MTL, a three-day interactive multimedia business event that explores the intersection between creativity and commerce through speakers like Richard Branson, Philippe Starck, and Arianna Huffington, just to name a few.

The agency has had its ups and downs and has grown exponentially over the years, but Jean-François still remembers where it all started:

“I can’t really remember the low points vividly, an entrepreneur’s mind seems designed to forget most of those. The one tough moment I can remember is sitting down with my partner after a few months of intense work and attending to things as varied as fixing the copier, doing collection from shitty clients (like a greasy spoon restaurant), and writing a TV spot to discuss how we needed to get more partners onboard to avoid going insane. We did recruit numerous new partners over the year but many still think we’ve gone insane regardless.

In the second year, with new partners and new employees, the agency begun facing more mundane business tasks (like payroll) but today they run like a well oiled machine. Regardless of all the awards, the impressive client list, and the unstoppable innovation seeping through the windows and doors of their offices Jean-François has not yet committed to the idea that he’s made it.

AWSC: Is Apple’s “Metal Mastered” Golden or Just Creative Stock?

Recently Apple rolled out the new ad for the Gold iPhone 5s. The soundtrack for the said ad is Goldfrapp’s “Ooh La La.” The Verge saw it as “a music choice that shows that Apple isn’t afraid of puns.” 9to5 Mac pointed out that the song has already been used in a Motorola and an LG ad. “Apple will hope that the new ad campaign can silence dictators who say the company had lost its marketing groove” said the Business Insider.

What do you think?

Do you think Apple lost its marketing mojo?

I will admit I’m a fan of the recent set of general iPhone ads (more photos than ever are taken on iPhone type), even the the new 5C ads, they’re cute, they’re sentimental, they show the things I do with my phone in a more romantic way.

This new “Metal Mastered” spot, however, wound me up from inside out. Aside from the fact that it looks like a chocolate bar ad, there is a lot more to that cliche, pun driven, song choice than meets the eye (a pun deserves a pun).

In 1983 Apple unveiled the Apple Macintosh personal computer with “1984,” an ad so revolutionary, and intelligent it made advertising history books. Skip a few decades into the modern days, past the “Think Different” campaign, to 2010. In 2010 Apple introduced the new iPad with Chilly Gonzales’ “Never Stop,” a decision that was not only adventurous, forward, and quirky, but also made Gonzales famous. The important thing about this song choice is that Gonzales is a perfect fit for Apple because he is a multidisciplinary musician and a Grammy-nominated composer – a man who made classic music cool again. This barely heard before song became an unofficial Apple trademark, it was The Apple song.

Earlier this month Apple released a supposedly revolutionary new phone to a 2005 Goldfrapp track.

I’m not a Goldfrapp hater. In fact I’m a fan (not of the new album, that one’s a bust, sorry Alison) but in no way do I think it was a smart choice despite how fitting the band name and the song lyrics are fitting to this, unoriginal concept.

It might be just my opinion but it does not seem to be groundbreaking to unveil a new phone to an 8 year old track that has been previously used by competitor devices. The Beatles, maybe. Some new band, sure. Commission Lorde to write a song? Why not, but it has not been long enough for Goldfrapp to become memorably retro, especially not when they are promoting a new album.

I am confused about the voice and feel that Apple is heading into with these “sexy” new operating system designs, gold shadows, and poor music choices. I do not want them to return to the old ways, no, but hopefully it’s only a matter of time before Apple finds it’s new, “golden” focus point when it comes to marketing.

 

Originally published on theawsc.com