The Rise of Feature-Length VR/AR Movies: Q&A with Omelet's Steven Amato

Steven Amato Headshot Ready for full-length augmented reality and virtual reality movies?

In recent weeks I've been thinking a lot about what we are currently calling VR—namely branded entertainment intitiatives such MINI USA's ambitious cinematic shorts "Backwater" and "Real Memories," AT&T's "It Can Wait" and Target's "How on Hallow Hill."

As I point out in a recent conversation with Charlie Kraus of Limelight networks, there's just one problem: None of these are actually VR. They're 360-degree videos.

True VR is (or will be) far immersive because these videos, while incredibly cool, are missing one key element: interactivity.

I'm not talking visual navigation. I'm talking about the ability to pick up an object. Crouch low or jump high. The ability to move in relation to the virtual environment.

True VR is more like a first-person video game, whether the environment is photo/video-realistic or clearly fantastical, as with video games.

While this current wave of "VR" is an important step in that direction, it's critical that we don't lose sight of the "Holodeck"-like vision on which VR is based.

The evolution of VR will bring us 360-movies and eventually, truly interactive VR—or even better, AR or "mixed reality," that brings fictitious dramas to life within real world environments—for the ultimate movie-going experience.

Dawn of Awesomeness

As blockbuster movie fans (myself included) gear up for this week's 3D IMAX release of "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," I found myself thinking about a conversation I had a while back with Steven Amato, co-founder of Omelet LA.

In this short clip (from a source interview for my book,  THE ON-DEMAND BRAND), I ask Amato about the future of feature-length mixed reality experiences, and what it could also mean for brands using VR/AR to develop branded content in a world where you might not just sit inside that MINI in "Backwater"—but actually drive it. And where you don't just watch Batman & Superman clash with each other and their villains—you join them.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: OMELET'S STEVEN AMATO ON THE FUTURE OF FEATURE-LENGTHY 'MIXED REALITY' MOVIES

(Approx: 1:50 sec)

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 OD_cover "... EXCELLENT ..."

 

“Through persuasive arguments and Q&A's with the major players in advertising, Mathieson makes an excellent case for greater creativity and outside-the-box thinking backed up with solid ideas."

Publisher's Weekly

 

>>> IN STORES NOW: ORDER YOUR COPY HERE <<<

 

 

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Author Rick Mathieson Talks 'Facebook Reactions' (Radio Interview)

 

What's not to Like about Facebook Reactions?

For some marketers, the answer may be plenty.

For consumers, Facebook's new Reactions feature is a fun way to go beyond the Like button, enabling them to express their feelings about posts with one of six icons: The Like or thumbs up icon; the Love or heart icon—and now, a choice of four emoji faces: HaHa or laughing; shock or surprise; sadness—and anger. (See Jimmy Fallon's take on the pros and cons in the YouTube clip above.)

There are even expansion packs that replace the official icons with images from Pokemon, Deadpool, Adventure Time—and even Donald Trump.

Reactions: HaHa—or Anything But?

While consumers may give Reactions a thumbs up, some brands may feel their relationship with Facebook has just become more ... complicated. After all, instead of just Liking a brand's post, consumers are now free to express emotions some marketers may not exactly heart.

In fact, early buzz indicates some marketers may have their own facial expressions (or hand gestures) for Reactions.

But is that the right away to react?

In a radio interview the other morning on the Blasingame Show on Forbes Radio, I talk about Reactions and what they may mean for marketers: the good, the bad—and the ugly. 

(Note: It sounds like there were some technical difficulties, so audio quality is not the best)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO: RICK MATHIESON REACTS TO FACEBOOK REACTIONS (RADIO INTERVIEW)

(Approx: 4 min)

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World's First Patent-Pending Brand Logo—A Behind-the-Scenes Video

Bts_titleIt’s a logo like none other.

Which is why there’s no way I could resist asking Rich Silverstein and other people central to its creation to appear on-camera to share insights on "The Seagate Living Logo"—the world’s first patent-pending corporate brand identity.

(See video at bottom)

NEVER THE SAME LOGO TWICE

Ll_story_still_rich_Yes, it’s true that brand identities rendered in real time through data visualization have been around for a while now.

But the Seagate Living Logo—launched at CES last January—is the first to have a patent in play for literally taking its shape using live data feeds flowing from public data sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LastFM, Amazon, Getty Images and more.

The idea? To represent the integral role Seagate storage solutions play in storing 40% of the world’s data, and in enabling the data-centric business models of today’s most innovative companies.

INNOVATION IN MOTION

Bts_interactive_llThroughout the last 12 months, new variants have included interactive Living Logos that respond to physical movements through Microsoft Kinect-based technology—allowing you to essentially swim amid social media posts and images.

A standalone Facebook version lets you personalize the experience using your own online images.

And another can be customized in real time using Twitter and Instagram keywords and handles, as well as your own uploaded images, for live business meetings and events.

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG (DATA)

As is typical in social media these days, reaction to the Living Logo there and elsewhere has ranged from the snarky to the sublime.

Yet regardless of where you fall on that score, the Living Logo represents a notable new entry into the annals of corporate branding.

And it seems to have sparked a trend.

Last July, Brazilian telco FS Company launched a dynamic logo that uses code and generative design to reflect the real-time activity on the company’s servers.

Just within the last few months, HavasOrtega developed a data-enabled “living logo” for a CEO summit in the Philippines.

And a UK-based design firm called Amaze is now tracking employees’ physical movements and digital activities to drive a “human-powered” living logo using a framework that sounds a lot like Seagate’s.

Which makes sense. Given the fact that Gartner reports nearly 75% of companies plan to invest in big data solutions in the next two years, the Seagate Living Logo surely stands on the cutting edge of what is likely to become a crowded field in the years ahead.

This short video, edited by Seagate’s George Shubin, will give you the inside scoop on the Seagate Living Logo and how it came to be.

(Full disclosure: I've had creative input on the development of the Living Logo, and have worked closely with these and other people working on the project at Seagate, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Pet Gorilla and elsewhere.)

DATA IS BEAUTIFUL: THE STORY BEHIND THE SEAGATE LIVING LOGO

 

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10 Digital Age Coke Taglines—From The Distant Past

 

So much for "Happiness."

As the marketing world obsesses over Coca-Cola's decision to trade out its hugely popular "Open Happiness" tagline to "Taste the Feeling"(see one of 25 new spots, above), it's been fun revisiting the commotion created over some of its previous slogan changes.

Check out reaction (including my own) to "The Coke Side of Life" in Ad Age a decade ago.

Indeed, whenever Coca-Cola makes marketing changes of this magnitude, it can be a hoot to take stock of its taglines from times past. You usually find some surprises along the way.

A SIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Despite being one of the world's most successful brands, there have certainly been some oddballs in Coca-Cola's advertising oeuvre—who can resist "Enjoy a Glass of Liquid Laughter" (1911), or "Proves a Big Help to Tired Housewives" (1909)?

And then there's that golden oldie: "Coca-Cola: The Great National Temperance Beverage" (1907)—which, we're told, "has none of the ill effects or 'let down' qualities of alcoholic stimulants." Yum.

Some old taglines are just inscrutable—"Same to You" (1940) sounds as if the feeling you're tasting is indignation.

And present-day regulators might have a field day with any tagline that proclaims Coke is "Pure and Healthful" (1904), and "Adds a Refreshing Relish to Every Form of Exercise" (1906), with "The Perfect Blend of Pure Products from Nature" (1923).

To modern audiences, other tags charitably might seem like aspirational positioning in the extreme—such as, "The Ideal Beverage for Discriminating People" (1906), "The Sign of Good Taste" (1957), and "The Best Drink Anyone Can Buy" (1913).

After all, everyone knows the best drink you can buy isn't Coca-Cola. It's Coke Zero.

PAST AS PROLOGUE?

Despite so many antiquated curios from campaigns past, many Coke taglines of yesteryear would be completely at home in the digital age.

Think about it:

  • In an era of virtual reality, 3D printing and social media poseurs, Coke promises to bring you "The Real Thing" (1948)
  • Ad skipping technology? "Relax with the Pause that Refreshes" (1947)
  • The age of Uber and Airbnb? "Share a Coke" (2011)
  • Group texting, geo-fencing and flash mobs? "Meet Me at the Soda Fountain" (1930)
  • Personal aerial drones? "Look Up, America!" (1975)

Even online activism and crowd funding fit that all-time favorite, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" (1971).

Yet perhaps it's that texting-and-flash-mob example that hits home most. As it happens, Coke classics seem especially well suited for the mobile revolution—including (among a surprising number of others):

  • "Anytime, Everywhere—The Favorite Beverage" (1918)
  • "Along the Highway to Anywhere" (1949)
  • "Call for Coke" (1953)
  • "People on the Go—Go for Coke" (1954)

Whether this is all a sign of soda-pop prescience, promotional predestination or pure chance, Coca-Cola remains a venerable brand whose slogans will provide plenty for (pop-) cultural anthropologists to ponder in decades to come.

Will future advertising aficionados still find it as amusing as we do?

As Coca-Cola itself once put it: "Always."

 

(Check out these and other taglines here, here and here)

 

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Coke Ditches 'Happiness,' Tells You to 'Taste the Feeling' (Video)

 

You can stop looking for "Happiness" now.

That's the word from Coca-Cola's new global CMO Marcos de Quinto, who says the decade-long "Open Happiness" campaign had become too preachy in promoting sharing and co-existence for his, er, tastes.

So now, Coca-Cola, Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero, will all share a common theme: "Taste the Feeling."

Having brand consistency across its cola portfolio is indeed a no-brainer. 

And we're seriously digging the opening spot, "Anthem" (above). Be sure to catch "Under Pressure" and "Breakup," too.

In fact, there is a lot to like about each of 25 new spots released earlier today.

But here at Gen Wow, we can't help wondering if "Taste the Feeling" skates a little too close to Skittles territory.

And let's face it, there's a lot to miss about some classic "Happiness" initiatives over the last few years—especially the physical + digital variety.

Among our favorites:

COKE HAPPINESS MACHINE

Let's face it, Happiness shared is doubled. Or tripled. Or...

COKE HAPPINESS TRUCK

How Coke helps you brake for good times.

COKE DRIVE-IN THEATER

Call it the Happiness Traffic Jam

COCA-COLA WISH IN A BOTTLE

Open a bottle and light up the night sky.

THE SHARING CAN

A single serving—for two.

COKE DANCE MACHINE

Bust a move for your favorite beverage.

COKE POP-UP  PARK

Coke creates a city park and rolls out the happiness.

COKE SMALL WORLD MACHINES

Happiness brings even the people of India and Pakistan together.

THE FRIENDSHIP MACHINE

It takes two to use this 12-foot-tall vending machine.

COKE HUG MACHINE

Hug it, get an ice-cold Coke.

COCA-COLA FRIENDLY TWIST

An on-campus ice breaker for the first day of school.

COKE FOR COUPLES: ROSES ARE RED

Cupid makes you prove you're a couple to get a Coke.

PROJECT RE-BRIEF

Reinventing that age-old Coca-Cola classic for the digital age.

Of course, change is the only constant—and perhaps the time is right for a Coke refresh.

But that doesn't mean we won't miss the happiness we've shared in times past.

 

 

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Play 'Buzzword Bingo'—CES Edition

Buzzword_graphic

 

 

 

 

 

This is one game that's easier to play than avoid.

We're all guilty of overusing tech industry buzzwords. And why not? They play a useful role as common shorthand that (conveniently) confers an aura of "cool" to those fluent in the lingua franca of 21st century business.

But as CES 2016 reaches its climax, many of us are finding ourselves facing buzzword burnout over what feels like an egregious level of noise pollution emanating from Las Vegas over the last few days.

“Disruptive.” “Influencer.”“(Anything)-Hacking.” “Unicorn.” I'm sure we've heard them all this week, many times over.

Never mind that some of this lingo could be headed for limbo faster than Kim (or any other) Kardashian can “Break the Internet.”

“Unicorn,” for instance, is quickly morphing into “unicorpse,” as concerns grow that companies like Gilt, Tango and SFX Entertainment may prove emblematic of some of these hard-to-find beasts with billion-dollar valuations may ultimately fare.

In the meantime, GEN WOW found some catharsis in a piece this week by Shawn Paul Wood in PR Newser, lamenting some of the most irksome buzzwords found in news stories and press releases.

When we mentioned the article in our GEN WOW LinkedIn Group, member Rick Wootten, senior director of global marketing for Seagate, mused about having some fun with it all—in the form of a game of "Buzzword Bingo."

That sparked an in-group and subsequent email conversation about developing a mobile app for facilitating a decidedly tech industry-centric version of the game at events such as, well, CES.

"It's natural for industry buzzwords to come and go in cycles, but sometimes enough of them peak at the same time to create Lingo Overload," Wootten says. "We're experiencing one of those times right now—and I think we should make the most of it!"

It's a great idea—and one that might prompt us all (myself included) to be a little more judicious about how often (and how accurately) we use these phrases.

Best of all, while it could take even the most agile development team (another buzzword) days or weeks to produce a full-blown app, we figured we'd just mock up a bare bones Buzzword Bingo card so you can start playing today.

Buzzword_card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Play

  1. Each time a news story or press release using one of these painfully overused words or phrases hits your inbox or browser window, mark off a square.
  1. Capture the link to the story or release for validation.
  1. Mark off a solid horizontal, vertical or diagonal line of lingo—and BINGO!

If the mood strikes us, we'll try a formal round this coming Post-CES news week. Who knows, there might even be a prize involved.

That is, if the game doesn't go too fast. A three-minute audit of my inbox and news feeds this morning produced plentiful junk jargon, including:

“SHARING ECONOMY”

A particular pet peeve. Not merely because it’s so overused, but because there’s no such thing.

So far as I can tell, the total number of so-called “sharing economy” companies that are “sharing” anything comes to zero.

That Uber driver isn’t “sharing” her car. You have used an app to request a ride that you will pay a fee for using. The only thing that may get "shared" is polite conversation on the way to your destination. The far more accurate term is “the on-demand economy,” since that’s truly the distinction separating many of these new services from what has come before. Then again, I'm biased.

Perp:  Business Insider (quoting a car company executive). Again, I am including links not to call out the pub or its sources—we're all guilty of geekspeak—but rather to document buzzword use so I can claim my square.

 "IoT" & "IoE'

Ah, "The Internet of Things" or "The Internet of Everything." Whatever variant you want to use, it’s surely vying to be #1 biggest buzzword at CES this year. Perps just today include EE Times, ZDNet and EWeek.

"DISRUPTIVE"

Actually, I take back what I just said about "IoT;" this one could very well take the cake, with numerous entries this morning, ranging from Forbes’ look at “The Five Most Disruptive Innovations at CES” to WIRED's "Best of CES" and beyond.

And this is all in under three minutes.

What do you think your card might look like in the same amount of time?

Could games like this raise our awareness and encourage us to seek other terms and phrases?

Or are these words, flawed as some are, just too useful and compelling in (catchphrase alert:) the marketplace of ideas?

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TOP 10 BEST MOBILE MARKETING CAMPAIGNS 2015 (VIDEO)

 

GenWowAwards-2015

Mobile is where it’s at again this year, though we quibble with its definition these days.

For instance, Facebook says nearly 80% of its ad revenue come from mobile advertising. But in our humble opinion, just because an ad is experienced on a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s “mobile.”

Small wonder then, that as in year’s past, most of our top pics for 2015 bring something more to “mobile” – by in fact, relating to place, or the specific capabilities or key functionality of the device in which they are consumed.

Here's 10 of our favorites from the year that was.

10. JOHN LEWIS: MAN ON THE MOON

This wildly popular (and widely spoofed) holiday campaign from UK retailer John Lewis includes a mobile app featuring augmented reality that lets you point your phone toward the moon to unlock daily facts about each phase of the moon. There’s also a game in which the player has to avoid obstacles and collect power boosts to get a specific item up to the man on the moon.

9. COKE ZERO: "DRINKABLE ADVERTISING"

Despite the fact that we're never ones to require any additional prompting to drink Coke Zero – we live on the stuff – this year’s “drinkable advertising” caught our notice. The campaign’s TV spots featured Coke Zero being poured from an onscreen bottle – before migrating to viewers’ mobile phone screens before transmogrifying into a coupon.

8. WWF: #THELASTSELFIE

What’s not to love about the World Wild Life Fund’s “Last Selfie” promotion with Snapchat, which takes advantage of the fleeting, transient nature of Snapchat snaps with short ads that show just how quickly an endangered species can be wiped off the planet. Powerful, and perfect for the platform. In just its first week, consumers posted 40,000 tweets about the initiatives to 120 million timelines. And in just three days, WWF reached its fundraising target for the entire month.

7. GUESS: VIRTUAL SUNGLASSES

This year, Guess's special mobile ad units enabled users to snap selfies and then “try on” sunglasses via augmented reality, complete with pointers on which styles work best for your face shape. The user takes or uploads a selfie, adjusts the placement, applies from a wide selection of sunglasses and can even share the image for feedback from far-flung friends via their social platforms. Add a "buy" button and this could be m-commerce magic instead of just promotion.

6. TOYS 'R US: IN-STORE MOBILE AR

How do you get shoppers into store locations during the Easter season? Launch an augmented reality Egg Hunt for the chance to win store gift cards. Here’s a brick & mortar retailer (in Australia) that refused to shy away from mobile and instead embraced it to enhance the retail experience.

5. SPOTIFY: #FOUNDTHEMFIRST

This summer, the online music streaming service rolled out a "Found Them First" microsite that lets users see which musicians the system knows they heard before the artists became megawatt sensations. Users can then build and share a playlist built on those early discoveries. In exchange, Spotify will offer them a new playlist with other new acts they might help “discover” as well.

4. MINI USA: 'BACKWATER' & 'REAL MEMORIES'

MINI USA is big on short online films featuring its cars, so it made since that the brand would be among the first to take 360-degree video for a test drive. Two such films, “Backwater” and “Real Memories” are definitely worth a gander—and could mean big things for the road ahead.

3. SNICKERS 'HUNGER BAR'

Let’s face it: You’re not quite you when you’re hungry, are you? Which is why the latest installment of Snickers’ long-running "You're Not You" campaign includes a mobile app that enables consumers to create images related to their particular hunger symptoms and share them socially. The key isn’t to show off what kind of hungry you are, of course. It’s about calling out family and friends for acting “snippy,” “loopy,” “cranky,” “confused,” “spacey," or ... insert your own adjective here.

2. QANTAS: ‘VIRTUAL DESTINATIONS’

Yes, I’m still fixated on this VR initiative from Qantas, which enables you to go on a eight-minute, 360-degree virtual vacation to Hamilton Island. In fact, it was really hard to decide between this and our #1 pick this year. It is, after all, either instant justification for the VRevolution, or a sure sign of the Apocalypse. Once companies start producing VR content like this that lasts not minutes but for hours on end, the human race may just opt out of the “reality” part of the equation all together—at least when they aren’t physically going to these amazing locales.

1. PIZZA HUT: ‘PIZZA BOX PROJECTOR’

Okay, there's rarely a moment when a large TV screen is much out of arms reach these days. So maybe this is the solution to a problem that few will ever face. But it's still hard not to dig the Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box - a pizza box that's also a movie projector. Throw in a cold one and this could be the best thing to happen to pizza since pepperoni.

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Top 10 Best Brand Viral Videos 2015 (Video)

 

As I put it in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, viral isn’t a strategy—it’s an outcome.

While many people believe it’s a matter of simply posting a video and waiting for it to take off, success comes from share-worthy content backed by promotion—and plenty of it.

The problem with our 2015 list of favorites is that there was so much video that fit the description above that it’s hard to zero in on just 10 favorites. So out of easily two dozen brand videos that hit and stayed on our radar this year, here is an unusually imperfect breakdown of 10 that rose to the top.

(Though our annual list captures videos that generated massive numbers of online views, it reflects personal appeal, not literal rankings).

As in year’s past, a large number of our selections pull at the heartstrings. Others also made some of our other awards lists, most notably this year’s of Top 10 Prankvertisements. And a few won’t be appropriate for every person (or every setting).

But every one of them is worth at least one last look.

10. JEEP: ‘BEAUTIFUL LANDS’

Yes, we’re suckers for patriotic branding. And yes, this Super Bowl spot from Jeep was not without some sniggering (Adweek was quick to point out similarities with the North Face spot that ran during the Super Bowl last year—right down to the soundtrack). It still works for us.

9. NIKE: ‘SNOW DAY’

Athletes get to relive their childhoods with winter’s two most perfect words. A sure way to fire up your competitive spirit, even when it’s freaking freezing outside.

8. ALWAYS: ‘UNSTOPPABLE’

Always’ Effie-wining #LikeAGirl campaign’s summer 2015 entry. Not as good as the original “Like A Girl,” but still heroic.

7. HYUNDAI: “A MESSAGE TO SPACE’

Maybe we should call the Nazca Lines the NASCAR Lines. No, Hyundai’s not exactly going for racing glory here. But in an effort to highlight and humanize its innovative thinking, the brand is using synchronized driving to create markings that can only make sense from space. Nearly 70 million earthlings got the message.

6. SQUATTY POTTY: ‘THIS UNICORN CHANGED THE WAY I POOP’

It’s the “stool for better stools” – and it’s the latest potty humor-infused brand video from the team behind Poo Pourri’s mega hit “Girls Don’t Poop.” Over 50 million views later, this little brand that could has seen sales rise from $3 million last year to $15 million in 2015 (an appearance on NBC’s Shark Tank late last year didn't stink, either).

5. FAN PAGE: ‘SLAP HER’

On the flipside of the “Girl Power” ethos of #LikeAGirl, this public service spot from Fan Page spot addresses male attitudes toward domestic violence in Italy on the heels of a UN report calling it “the most pervasive form of violence” in that country, and after Prime Minster Enrico Letta referred to the problem as “femicide.” Put on the spot, some young men school some other members of their gender on basic human decency.

4. BARBIE: ‘IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES’

Is it ironic or fitting that Barbie—a dichotomous figure that has always aspired to empower even while being seen by many to objectify—also made our list? In a year when an artificial intelligence-enabled "Hello Barbie" creeped out some parents (and child psychiatrists), it’s hard not to love this prank video that gets to the brand’s ambitions perfectly.

3. AD COUNCIL: ‘LOVE HAS NO LABELS’

Though it’s not exclusively about any one segment of the population, this video captures the spirit of summer 2015, when the US Supreme Court caught up with the rest of America in its collective declaration that love wins. It always does, even if it takes a very long time.

2. JOHN LEWIS: ‘MAN ON THE MOON’

In the UK, it has become an annual tradition to keep an eye out for the new holiday spot from retailer John Lewis. Even here in the US, this one has touched millions. That is, when it’s not being spoofed (with a mashup with this December's other big pop culture property, Star Wars, natch).

1. EXTRA GUM: ‘THE STORY OF SARAH & JUAN’

Who knew a gum commercial could pack as much narrative emotion as any of the year’s top movies into a two-minute video (at top)? Now that’s something to chew on. And in the spirit of giving a little extra, check out this BTS video of Haley Reinhart doing the Elvis cover. (You're welcome.)

 

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TOP 10 BEST PRANKVERTISING CAMPAIGNS 2015 (VIDEO)

 

EmojiI keep thinking Oxford Dictionaries was only pranking us by naming this emoji as its 2015 Word of the Year.

Not the word “emoji,” mind you. Literally this symbol – “tears of joy.”

GenWowAwards-2015But for those who have been doing their best to resist letting lose with their emojis, myself included, the year’s prankvertising-slash-stuntvertising videos proved "mischievous" doesn’t always have to be "mean," at least not all the time

A look at some of our favorites from what seemed (mostly) like a kinder, gentler year in branded pranks:

10. CHEVY CRUZE: CELL PHONE FAKE OUT

From WTF to WiFi in 6-seconds flat: The 2016 Chevy Cruze comes with built-in 4G LTE connectivity. Which is fortunate for the guy at the center of this prank.

9. TERMINATOR GENISYS: WAX ATTACK

Arnold pranks fans as the Terminator—to promote his summer movie, and to benefit afterschool programs. Worth it for the wax museum segments.

8. MICROSOFT COLLECTIVE: BIONIC ARM

Iron Man meets Bionic Boy as Robert Downey Jr. surprises this child with a new 3D-printed bionic arm.

7 & 6: DOVE: CHOOSE BEAUTIFUL & ALWAYS: UNSTOPPABLE

Let’s not forget that Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” and Always’ Effie-winning #LikeAGirl campaign are really prankvertising – putting young people on the spot to ask provocative questions in an effort to prove a point. Heck, I pull pranks on my daughter all the time, but rarely (okay, never) so successfully. This summer’s “Unstoppable,” timed perfectly around the hype around CBS’s girl power-themed ‘Supergirl,’ may end up describing this campaign. And “Choose Beautiful” is just that: beautiful.

5. CARLSBERG: CARLSBERG DID CASES

Would it kill Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada to pull this prank on one my outbound vacation or inbound business flights? Carlsbad did, in this prank pulled on some very happy Londoners on their way home from holiday, as the Brits say. A nice little souvenir that’s sure to put some fun on tap at home.

4. DISLIFE: MORE THAN A SIGN

Sometimes pranks are well deserved. This noteworthy effort from Y&R Moscow used technology to scan cars to see if they had disabled stickers. If they didn’t, and the driver pulled into parking places designated for the disabled anyway, a holographic image of a wheelchair-bound man accosted them on the street. Surely a sign of signs to come.

3. AD COUNCIL: LOVE HAS NO LABELS

 

Even in a year with some pretty monumental Supreme Court decisions on personal liberty, this is pretty powerful stuff – a prank to make passersby come face to face with their own snap judgments about age, race, sexuality, gender, religion and love. Projects like this makes me proud to be in this business.

2. JAGUAR: ‘ACTUAL REALITY’ PRANK

 

Longtime readers know I’m partial to horror movie promotional pranks like “Devil’s Due” and “Telekinetic Coffee House” but this one from Jaguar New Zealand may just take the cake. Not only does it play off all the hype around augmented reality, but it's spot on from a positioning standpoint – nothing can simulate what it’s like to drive a Jag, right? – and it drives it all home in unforgettable fashion. Hat tip to Rick Wootten for finding this one.

1. HEINEKEN: DREAM ISLAND

This video (at top) from Heineken takes our top this year—as a group of young contest winners get an amazing wake-up call.

 

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Top 10 Social Media Campaigns 2015 (Video)

 

GenWowAwards-2015Turns out all the crazy rumors were true: Social media marketing is more than just Facebook, YouTube & Twitter these days.

For all the buzz we’d hear over the years about how this or that social platform is sure to be a boon for marketers (…remember Google+?...) talk usually just circled back to Facebook, Twitter and maybe throw in a YouTube video and a vine and call it a day.

Not in 2015 – at least not all the time.

With certain audiences (read: millennials) Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat and others helped marketers seriously hit their marks.

A look at some of our favorite social media campaigns from the year that was, not necessarily in any order:

10. GOPRO: SKATEBOARDING CAT

GoPro is obviously a brand built on content – it is, after all, its raison d'etre. Who doesn’t love those extreme sports shots of people doing acrobatics as they skydive or ski or jump trashcans in the driveway on their bikes? But even in 2015, we can’t escape online cat videos—and in the case of this Instagram (and YouTube) campaign, you wouldn’t want to. Meet Didga, an Australian cat that skateboards—incredibly well. That said, there's a family nearby that has a dog—a little bulldog named Henny—that skateboards all over the place, and even has her own YouTube channel. I'm not sure she's quite Didga's level yet. But who knows: Maybe she'll have her own GoPro video series one day.

9. SPOTIFY: #FOUNDTHEMFIRST

My wife could seriously be a talent scout for any genre in the music industry—I can’t tell you how many times she has discovered bands and said “these guys are going to be huge in a couple of years" and been spot on. Unlike my wife, many music aficionados like to claim bragging rights for being the first to find hot acts. Which makes Spotify’s #FoundThemFirst social campaign so compelling. Last summer, the online music streaming service rolled out a "Found Them First" microsite that lets users see which musicians the system knows they heard before they became megawatt sensations. They can then build and share a playlist built on their discoveries—and Spotify will offer them a new playlist with other new acts they might like as well.

8. GROUPON: BANANA BUNKER

I've never been that into Groupon, but I have to admit this campaign was, er, ballsy. In April, Groupon posted a Facebook photo of plastic banana containers, as if they were packaged goods, and responded to everybody who posted a suggestive joke. I have no idea if the bunkers sold well, but it’s still fun. And at over 45,000 shares, apparently others also saw the appeal. Pardon the pun.

7. TACO BELL: SNAPCHAT STORIES

Taco Bell and millennials are made for each other. So Snapchat must be the perfect platform for both, right? Well if this little initiative is any indication, the answer is an emphatic (thumb’s up). Taco Bell hired two twentysomethings to essentially set up a “Stories” studio/”news room” where they could create and collaborate with super fans on fun real-time and more thought-out content (including a lot of UGC). And while we haven’t seen any sales figures for platform promotions, we still have to imagine this channel can’t hurt with this QSR’s most devote customers.

6. DUREX: #CONDOMEMOJI

Let’s try to get a little control over our Emoji, folks. Yes, Oxford named this emoji as its 2015 Word of the Year. Not the word “emoji,” mind you. Literally this symbol—“tears of joy” is the Word of the year. And as if by magic, Durex has a new hashtag campaign that might just inspire you to use that emoji – or even better, one that helps young people talk about safe sex. As it happens, Durex research shows that 50% of 18-25 year-olds use emoji when discussing sex. So for World AIDS Day December 1, Durex is asking for help encouraging the Emoji masters who create the official icons to create a condom Emoji.

5. HEFTY ULTIMATE CUPS:#PARTYHARDMOMS

Worth it: This series of online videos for Hefty Easy Grip plastic cups turns conventions on head with stereotypical moms who speak fluent over-the-top teen that had had fans going cray. One installment, #Turnt (shown at top), has been viewed 2.6 million times on YouTube alone, #WorthIt, 2.1 million times. Who knew suburban moms could have so much street cred?

4. CO-OPERATIVE INSURANCE: NOSTALGIA FM

This UK-based consumer insurance cooperative was putting on the hits this year with NostalgiaFM, which allows users to enter the year they first past their driver’s test for a playlist of #1 songs from that month and year. Over 15,000 people used the app on its first day. And in its first five days, the effort generated 200,000 engagements on Twitter and Facebook, and a huge amount of traffic to the company’s website.

3. WWF: #LASTSELFIE

What’s not to love about the World Wild Life Fund’s “Last Selfie” promotion with Snapchat, which takes advantage of the fleeting, transient nature of Snapchat communications with short ads that show just how quickly an endangered species can be wiped off the planet. Powerful, and perfect for the platform. In just its first week, consumers posted 40,000 tweets about the initiatives to 120 million timelines. And in just three days, WWF reached its fundraising target for the entire month.

2. TOMS SHOES: #WITHOUTSHOES

These shoes were made for helping: TOMS built its brand on donating a pair of shoes to needy children for every pair sold. This summer, whenever someone posted an Instagram photo of their bare feet using the hashtag, TOMS would give away a pair of shoes to someone in need—no purchase necessary—to the tune of 296,243 pairs.

1. ALWAYS 'LIKE A GIRL': #UNSTOPPABLE

Maybe it’s not as good as the original, GoodWorks Effie-winning #LikeAGirl (60 million views on YouTube, and millions more on other sites) but it’s still a powerful message, perfect timed around all the "Fight Song"-infused hype last summer for CBS’s new hit show "Supergirl.” #Unstoppable has generated nearly 40 million views on its own. And best of all, Always is partnering with TED-Ed to launch programs to boost girls’ confidence. An heroic effort, for sure.

 

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