Category Archives: video_

Lego Bricks It

NYT's Andrew Newman reported today that Lego prohibited the makers of the Spinal Tap "Unwigged and Unplugged" tour DVD from using a two-year-old stop-motion animation video of "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You" (below) created by Coleman Hickey that they had been using on their tour.

And why was this piece of content disallowed?

"We love that our fans are so passionate and so creative with our
products,” said Julie Stern, a spokeswoman for Lego Systems, the United
States division of the Lego Group, a Danish company founded in the
1930s. “But it had some inappropriate language, and the tone wasn’t
appropriate for our target audience of kids 6 to 12."

Cluephone, Julie – 6 to 12 year olds aren't the only ones who love Lego products.  Nor are they the ones, typically who BUY it.  Their parents do.  The same parents, probably dads, who love Spinal Tap.  And loved Lego.  And would have loved to see this little mashup – maybe as much as the Spinal Tap guys themselves, who worked it into their stage show for their recent tour.

Lego is making a classic error.  They don't own their brand anymore.  More than anyone, they should know that – they've been giving their brand to their fans to play with for years, in the shapes of those little bricks and every other shape they make.  And we have played with them – making things Lego never dreamed up, including an entire genre on YouTube of stop motion animation.

Which is of course where my five-year old got his first intro to animation.  through legos.  on YouTube.  Unfortunately it was watching this classic:

When other brands would KILL to get the kind of mashup Lego was just handed (Lego + stop motion + YouTube + SpinalTap Tour + DVD) rolled into a compilation DVD as a free ad for their product to adoring fans, why did Lego kill the fun?

“YouTube is a less commercial use,” Ms. Stern said. “But when you get
into a more commercial use, that’s when we have to look into the fact
that we are a trademarked brand, and we really have to control the use
of our brand, and our brand values.”

Darn, Julie. 

You can't control your brand anymore. 

You can choose who to spotlight though – and Coleman Hickey LOVED you. 

Loved you enough to take the time to build a movie using your product.  So what did the now sixteen-year-old Mr. Hickey have to say about the silliness?

“In a way I’m disappointed that it won’t be forever memorialized in a
DVD.  It’s not like I was going to get
any money for it, but it’s too bad. Lego has the right to do that, but
it’s unfortunate that they don’t have a little more of a sense of

You nailed it, Coleman.

YouTube ‘Interactive’ Videos

At the suggestion of Andy Tress, YouTube-ist extraordinaire, I just finished Barack/Paper/Scissors, Level 8.



This collaboration joins a growing list of "interactive video/choose-your-own-adventure" style clickable/annotated videos, including marketer efforts like Samsung's Follow Your Instinct and now Halo Wars Machinima Interactive Video Experience M.I.V.E.).  Gotta tell you – I like the BPS better…try out the footrace

No ETA on when YouTube will enable external linking from YouTube videos…


Some of our work can be inspiring.  And sometimes that inspiration can breed…'imitation'.   The W+K London blog reports some similarities between their Lurpak work and work done by Batey Ads of Singapore. And if you remember this bit W+K did for Nike's 'Girl Effect':

…it's fun to watch BBDO's new Starbucks "get out the vote" effort.

Though hard to catch on first viewing, if you watch closely, you may notice stylistic similarities.   At least it's for a good cause. 

Unlike the 'Girl Effect' effort, however, offering folks an incentive to vote those is actually apparently felony, however well-intentioned, so Starbucks today altered the offer:

"To ensure we are in compliance with election law, we are extending
our offer to all customers who request a tall brewed coffee," Starbucks
spokeswoman Diana Fullerton wrote in an e-mail. "We're pleased to honor
our commitment to communities on this important election day."

Participatory Global Viral Video – how many more 2.0 words can you fit in and still have a failed marketing strategy?

Viral viral viral.  If you read my blog, you know I hate the term.  It isn't a term anyone agrees on, other than "viral marketing agencies" who are trying to sell it like special sauce.  For the most part, that sauce is brown, lumpy and unpredictable, like the "gravy" you get at Applebee's.  Marketers like the concept of 'viral', because to them it means "cheap media" (make a video, or app, or whatever, and distribution is FREE!), or it lets them say they "get social media" to whoever is checking off the boxes on their annual evaluation form.  But nothing is viral that PEOPLE DON'T LIKE, and figuring out WHAT PEOPLE WILL LIKE is a game everyone can play, but few play well.  Which is why most advertising SUCKS.

We've had some good hits – the Kobe jumps Aston + snakes, the
FIFA Street 3 spot, etc., but it is, to a degree, a gamble.  Like a good date.

So a video folks are talking about is this one for Stride gum, found by Melissa Sconyers on the NY Nokia Search team.

It's worth a look for two reasons: (1) it shows the power of participatory community, which is actually more interesting than the concept OR the execution, and (2) it shows how jumping onto a popular video may or may not be right for a brand.  At the end of this video, do you get that this is actually a marketing vehicle for Stride gum?  I didn't.  And I knew it before I watched, then I even clicked through to Matt's site, looking for a logo or brand mention (the logo is there, at the bottom of the page, looking very Dad at the disco). 

The story of the video as Matt tells it:
He has friend shoot video of him dancing badly in Hanoi.  Stride gum
sends him around the world to do the dance in a wide variety of places
(normal "YouTube-viral-type-web-2.0-3.0" thing).  But AFTER that video was made and
posted, people sent him their own.  And that gave him an idea.  He
re-pitched Stride with a new idea.  He traveled the world again,
inviting those people to join him.  Participatory viral goes global.

Read more here: (the website is sponsored by Stride)

And please practice safe viral.

Is Canoe the Cable Industry’s Maginot Line?

The eBay TV ad auction marketplace died a quiet death.  The only real surprise was that this DOA defensive action's demise even warranted a story.  As I recall, this "coalition of the billing" was created to try to keep Google out of broadcaster knickers (Google was at the time looking for broadcasters to partner with to test their own auction-based TV model, and no-one wanted them mucking around in the special sauce.  eBay was easier.  Less threatening.  And uncompetitive).  With no real mandate, poor funding, lackluster participation and an agenda driven by fear, not innovation, I'm honestly surprised it lasted this long.  Did they finally go through all the stationary they had printed up?  Run out of creamers and call it a day? 

Next up: Canoe.  As in 'up the creek without a paddle'.  The cable industry sees Canoe as "[their] solution to the growing amount of ad dollars flowing to the Web."  David Verklin (ex-Aegis/Carat) had this to say:

"We will have all of this new data and features that can prove to
clients that people are actually watching the ads."

Darn.  He could have said a lot of things.  Things like "I'm excited to examine how we can continue to improve our value proposition and provide real value for our customers and marketers?" or "Advertisers need to create more compelling viewer engagement experiences and we're here to help them make sense of the opportunities", or "Brands needs to serve their brand communities more effectively in an era of infinite choice", or "Cable and broadcast still command massive audiences and we are seeking new more creative ways to leverage those effectively for advertisers and respectfully for viewers?".   Naaaah.

TV (cable and broadcast) isn't going away.  Not by a long shot.  Among other things, it's getting smarter and more interactive.  Does the cable industry really need an industry group stuffed with folks not incented to innovate OR collaborate?  Heck – I was a sales guy once.  Damned if I'd have given over my best inventory – the stuff I could count on to help me hit my numbers – to a 'consortium' for the 'good of the industry'.

"Something that may concern programmers — and damp enthusiasm: Because
targeted advertising theoretically offers more bang for the marketing
buck, advertisers may end up reducing their overall cable spend."

Unless there's more here than meets the eye (and there may be), Canoe, like the eBay SNAFU, strikes me as another Maginot line for an industry in need of forward motion.  Canoe may last – but not in this incarnation, and not with this roster of participants. 

Good Tech, Bad tech

Two interesting “videos”:

The first – a music video made from Mac screen captures. Wondering how to demonstrate dull product functionality in a compelling, entertaining way? Microsoft’s agency’s job just got harder:

You know those voicemails when a friend’s mobile phone dials you on its own from their bag or pocket and you get to listen in to rustling fabric and unintelligible talkbits for fifteen minutes? Imagine if it was from your brother while he was in a firefight in Afghanistan. And the last thing you here before your machine cuts off is “incoming RPG”.