But do Super Bowl ads even WORK?

Let’s consider a few facts here:

A lot of the data that is being thrown around in marketing articles is pretty shady (surprise surprise). One article I read used this Genesis Media claim to argue that the Super Bowl wasn’t worth it: “90 percent of respondents said that they were unlikely to buy something tied to a Super Bowl ad; and roughly 75 percent of respondents said they couldn’t remember ads from last year.”

Except those aren’t useful metrics because they are claimed behaviour. I’d be surprised if normal TV or digital video fared much better on those questions anyway. Also Genesis Media sell programmatic video. Of course digital vendors are going to want to take the “controversial” angle that TV is dead and thus the Superbowl is extra dead.

Then there’s spot commentary stuff like social media analysis by Crimson Hexagon or ad testing data by tools such as Unruly. It’s nice to have this data because it might start to give you an inkling of how different ads performed against each other. But they’re undeniably soft metrics. As far as I know social media buzz and engagement hasn’t been linked to sales as of yet (although aiming for “fame” has) and ad pretesting is very hit and miss.

 
data-best-worst-superbowl-ads-kickout-4-2019.jpg
 

On the other hand, we do know that the super bowl CPM (cost to reach 1,000 viewers) sits at around $50 if we ignore the non-US citizens watching the game. The CPM of US cable is predicted to be about $17.49. Sure the Superbowl is more expensive but it’s not that much more expensive. And it comes with undeniable fame building potential considering that everyone in the States is watching the same ad at once and that everyone is leaning in to be entertained.

Let’s face it the big brands that are taking part might be the only ones who have access to proper data and they’ll most likely guard it pretty closely. But here’s the ringer. There are only two legit Super Bowl studies that I came across: One for cinema launches, one for beverages.

Both of them defy the conventional wisdom that Super Bowl ads aren’t worth it.

They use an interesting fact as the starting point of their analysis: Cities that have a team playing in the finals are far more likely to watch the game than other cities. So you can actually conduct natural experiments and compare sales uplifts in cities with skin in the game vs non-participant cities.

  • For movies: “The average additional opening-weekend revenue generated by a Super Bowl ad amounted to $8.4 million, at a time when the average ad cost about $3 million.”
     

  • For beer: “One beer manufacturer earns almost $100 million more because of its ads -- far more than what the ads cost."

And that’s why you should just lean back and Taste The Rainbow.

~Have a read of Bloomberg article on these studies here~

How far we've come! Or have we?

Even if you aren't a student of advertising you may be familiar with this 1950's VW ad. 

 
Lemon.jpg
 

The campaign it was part of was voted the No. 1 campaign of all time in Advertising Age's 1999 The Century of Advertising. Whether or not that's a deserved title, I'll leave up to the reader to decide. But the ads undeniably demonstrate a great amount of resourcefulness, an understanding of how to grab and hold attention, skillful long form copy and tasty design aesthetics. And it came at a time when all of these things were considered "game changers."

A cynic might also point out that there's something fascinating about how an ad can erase the memory of fascism so quickly and replace it with joyous consumerism - People love to talk about how VW was Hitler's favourite car and by no means a shoe in for the American market.

 
Think small.jpg
 

Given this legacy, it was extra funny when writer and Art Director Vic Polkinghorne tweeted his take down of this digital VW ad:

VW new.png

Two points of view are competing in my head:

As an ad-fan, this is a perfect example of learning from the past and invigorating today's bad advertising with some respect for people's intelligence. Don't tell me you're cool, show me you're cool.

But the uninvolved bystander in me feels Schadenfreude. Maybe it's good that VW are having a harder time doctoring their broken reputation with slick branding. Maybe helping big corps to reengage with the magic of yesteryear's advertising is not only a Sisyphus task but also counterproductive. VW purposefully under-reported their cars' CO2 emissions on a mass scale. Could it be that the uglier a corporate system becomes, the harder it becomes for it to engineer an amicable public facade? I have no proof of that theory, but it's a nice thing to contemplate.

Either way, here's a quote from William Bernbach, the purported driving force behind the iconic campaign:

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level,” 
 

~And here's a Mark Hamilton article on the historic significance of the lemon ad~

Looking for the cultural point of gravity in the Australia Day debate

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Sometimes I ask myself: “Futuro, why do you keep picking the biggest, hairiest issues to look at?” And then I remember it’s because they’re the most fun to think about. Australia Day just passed this weekend. Because the holiday is nationwide it becomes a cultural artifact; a prism that refracts and amplifies people’s varying beliefs, agendas and hopes for the future. It is also a great example of how mass communication and public opinion shape and fuel each other.

For those readers who aren’t from Australia: The day marks the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in Australia. It also marks a long weekend and the last public holiday before school recommences.

Even during the 10+ years that I’ve lived in Australia, the way the day is perceived has shifted. I remember it being considered to be “fine” and a day to celebrate our “Lucky Country” when I first arrived, but maybe that was also my age and circle of friends. It’s harder to argue the fact that there’s an increasingly negative sentiment in public discourse - even if the majority of the public is still in favour of the day

Screen Shot 2019-01-29 at 12.13.24 AM.png

#ChangeTheDate is becoming an increasingly popular discussion point. It’s easy to see why: Firstly, there’s something crass about celebrating on a day that marks the beginning of Indigenous Australia’s colonisation. Secondly public discourse is becoming increasingly focused on issues of identity due to what I’m just going to lazily call The Awokening (even if I don’t define it any further I think you all have feeling for what that means).

This second point is what comedian/activist/smart-ass Friendlyjordies hones in on as insincere in his critique of the #ChangeTheDate movement and sentiment. He points out that until as recently as 2016, click baity left leaning media capitalised on Australia Day through brand sponsorships, parties and pop quizzes.

Pedestrian in 2017

Pedestrian in 2017

Pedestrian in 2016

Pedestrian in 2016

Junkee (who just as an aside are owned by a billboard vendor now) in 2017

Junkee (who just as an aside are owned by a billboard vendor now) in 2017

Junkee in 2016

Junkee in 2016

So he argues that their new embrace of an anti-Australia Day editorial agenda is a calculated branding effort rather than anything brave. The implication is that by extension their readership is also just sloganeering.

Well… that’s the gist of his argument - there’s more fart jokes! Jordies is heavily influenced by Chomsky’s view that media agendas are often distraction fires that mainly serve to keep the ruling class in power. If you apply that lens the argument makes a lot of sense. #ChangeTheDate (see how I keep using it as a hashtag?) is an agenda that is easily grasped and also creates a convenient polarisation: Be left wing and for it or right wing and against it. It’s easily digestible and stirs something in everyone.

But let’s put aside the media theory lens and Jordies’ deep-rooted hatred of listicle media to look more closely at the various social groups and their views.

Jordies cites a stat that says “only” 54% of Indigenous Australians are in favour of a change of date, to make the point that the issue isn’t important to the cultural group that the likes of Mamamia, Buzzfeed and Pedestrian are alleging to defend. But the McNair yellowSquares national poll where Jordies found that stat also states that among Indigenous Australians, only 23% felt positive about Australia Day, 31% were negative and 30% had mixed feelings. So straight away a different picture emerges.

If you work as a strategist or in any role that requires you to convince others of a certain narrative, you will recognise the difference between trying to let data reveal its own story and cherry picking data to tell your story. Or as Pennay and Bonglorno put it in their article in The Conversation:


“In the cultural warfare over whether January 26 should be retained as Australia Day, survey results are deployed like guided missiles.”

According to their data it it is true that as of January 2019, 70% respondents agreed that the current date, January 26th “...is the best day for our national day of celebration.”

But it’s also true that that agreement varies across gender, political parties and perhaps most importantly age.

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 4.20.47 PM.png

The older generations in particular feel attached to the date because it “celebrates our British culture and heritage” a viewpoint that appears to be slowly dying out in younger generations.

Some more stats on the Indigenous side of things: “Nearly three in ten (29%) of respondents who agree with having Australia Day on January 26 also recognise the date is offensive to Indigenous people.” Which sure says something about that group’s interest in Indigenous voices.

There is a school of thought that non-Indigenous Australia does understand why the date is offensive to so many Aboriginal people, however they value its placement in the calendar -the last summer public holiday before the school year starts- more. Again according to the McNair yellowSquares survey: “When participants were invited to associate three words with Australia Day, Australians polled chose barbecue, celebration and holiday.”

Yes the majority of Australians still favour the day, but it is worth asking why might makes right even though the majority is mainly standing in defence of performative ockerisms, thongs, barbies and our archaic ties to the British Royal family.c

Oh look! Pedestrian has irrelevant things to say about almost everything.

Oh look! Pedestrian has irrelevant things to say about almost everything.

By contrast the three words Indigenous Australians picked in the same study were: “Invasion, survival and murder.”

So considering how different the stakes are I’ll end this one with a link to an Indigenous voice: Professor Tom Calma -Chancellor at the University of Canberra- who presents his for case why the date should be changed.

~Read: A modern and united Australia must shift its national day from January 26~

Smashing the patriarchy one disposable razor at a time

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For anyone who has been living under a rock, Gillette released an ad that comments on the state of toxic masculinity and encourages men to “do more”.

This ad landed in people’s feeds and a small but vocal group of men that I’m going to call “the manosphere” got really angry.

Manosphere isn’t my neologism. It’s been around for a while: In her book “Kill All Normies” Angela Nagle defines the manosphere as a group of people with “anti-feminist masculinist” politics that “developed in the context of evermore radical liberal gender politics and increasingly common anti-male rhetoric…”. You will find them in: Pick up forums, the men’s rights movement, the Men Going Their Own Way movement, incel forums and other smelly corners of the internet.

So the manosphere calls for a boycott.

Bumbling manosphere declaration followed by snarky liberal commentary: A 2019 Still Life

Bumbling manosphere declaration followed by snarky liberal commentary: A 2019 Still Life

A reminder: The manosphere is distinct from the alt-right. Although they do intersect on the venn diagram of creepy conservative politics, the manosphere is smaller. While both groups have bought into a “decline of western civilisation” narrative, the thing that differentiates the manosphere from the broader alt-right is this cringeworthy, sincere “heart on the sleeve” approach to how they espouse their values. There is very little irony and no humor in someone like Piers Morgan when he says:

“I've used Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity.

Let boys be damn boys.

Let men be damn men.”

This is the kind of dude who unironically bases his masculine identity on some sort of mix of Dirty Harry and Winston Churchill. The reaction to our Woke New World is heartfelt, fist waving outrage. While this sort of outdated mindset isn’t benign, it is ultimately ineffective against the razor sharp, educated 2019 social justice movement and its vast cultural cachet.

The reason it’s important to point the limits of the manosphere is that everyone seems to be operating under the assumption that behind the social media outrage there is a large and dangerous group of men who fundamentally disagree with the idea that men can do better. Under that paradigm the Gillette ad is a critical battle ground for the future of feminism... Not just your opportunity to become an unpaid Gillette spokesperson.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 8.47.03 PM.png



You know when I’d be worried? If it were the broader alt-right that was launching an attack. You’d be able to tell because unlike the whiny man babies calling for a boycott, the alt-right proper have appropriated the left’s most powerful cultural weapon: Subversion. The commentary would be far more sardonic.

It wouldn’t be a stogie TV host leading the charge it would be someone like that MAGA kid who mocked a Native American elder in a recent viral video.

They wouldn’t be flushing Gillette razors down the toilet, they’d be going into stores and spray painting them pink. They’d be on 4Chan making memes or plotting to make Gillette crash on the stock market. Subversion is a lot harder to laugh at and counter.

The fact that everyone is laughing is proof that this whole thing is a storm in a teacup. It’s proof that anyone defending Gillette right now is also attacking a straw *cough* man. Look at the media’s lazy reporting. The browser title of the SBS’ article is “Men are missing the point of the new Gillette ad”.

Are they?

Morning Consult probably got the best publicity win from this campaign outside of GIllette by running an opinion poll the day after the ad launched. And it shows that men and women are loving the message behind the ad.


It also shows that differences in opinion are larger across party lines than gender.

Men on the whole don’t have an issue with this ad. Even 48% of Republicans responded positively to the ad.

Marketing professionals all have their own hot take on whether Gillette has a good strategy on their hands. So here’s mine: Of course they do... *dur*. The only criticism I can leverage against it is the execution: For something claiming to be a “short film” it sure is cheesy and ham-fisted.

But strategically we know that the best way to increase the impact of your marketing spend is to generate fame and Gillette is all that people have been talking about this week. On top of that Gillette now have a refreshed brand positioning: “The Best That Men Can Be” is a lot more creatively fertile and relevant than “The Best A Man Can Get”.

But does that make any of this a good thing? Isn’t it sort of predatory to appropriate the struggle against white male dominance by creating a false uproar in the media?

By letting an ad for disposable razors rule the public discourse for a week we’ve been teleported into a bizarro world where the left defends global corporations against the right in the name of identity politics. Except “the right” in this case is just five guys on Twitter with a copy of Iron John on their bookshelves.

Here’s what the consumer watchdog The Green Star Project has to say about Gillette:

They make razors that are completely disposable as well as disposable heads to go on a reusable handle (...) Many of their products are over-engineered and have excessive packaging but interestingly their 2-blade head from 1993, the Gillette Sensor Excel, has a following who believe they are as good as or better than the newer 4 or 5-blade heads. They’ve phased out PVC for their razor trays but the fact that they used it until recently is concerning. Gillette is owned by P&G, who have a poor record on animal testing. Gillette was among several companies (Unilever, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal) collectively fined almost $1 billion in 2014 for price-fixing. Commercial directors and other sales officials from the companies involved met “regularly and in secret” to co-ordinate price hikes.

Gillette controls around 70% of the global disposable razor market. What they should be famous for is selling a built-to-break product that pollutes the environment on an epic scale. But much like Dove they have decided to slide into your subconscious more easily by greasing their bad product with a thin film of wokeness.

Forget Toxic Masculinity, I think we have a case of Toxic Corporatism on our hands!

The #AABill sucks for your privacy and here's why...

This is something that is currently happening in Australian politics but it may well set a precedent globally. The Australian government has just passed a bill that let's them force companies to decrypt encrypted messages. I found this all a bit confusing when I first started following it on Twitter so I'm guessing others do too. So I'm going to try to explain it in really simple terms and then I'll link you to some resources that go deeper.

A look at Twitter shows that privacy experts, coders, start ups and civil rights groups are all pretty unhappy with the AA Bill

A look at Twitter shows that privacy experts, coders, start ups and civil rights groups
are all pretty unhappy with the AA Bill

Remember when Apple refused to give the US government access to a terrorist's encrypted messages? That was because they had no way of doing it without making absolutely everyone's' encrypted messages visible. This new law means that in  Australia Apple won't be able to refuse this sort of request anymore.

Slippery slope
Now on paper it's just for bad guys "criminals, terrorists and pedophiles" (I love how pedophiles are thrown in for good measure to really scare the public). But it's a slippery slope. Do you really trust government to be totally impartial here? Do you want be tracked for ordering some bud or blackmailed for sending someone nudes? Even if you're a model citizen it's still making it easier to hack your finances.

I hear you saying "Oh Jules Futuro you're such a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist. Why don't you relax a little and drink this Orwell Kool Aid duuuude?" Just to be clear I don't think this is an intricately implemented master plan - our polies are way too dumb for that. But explain this to me: Why have anti-corruption bodies been removed from the list of agencies that can access the new powers? You know... the bodies that are meant to keep an eye on corrupt politicians. You don't actually have to be that smart when you have a big hammer.
 

I don't want to be petty or ageist but man do these photos make it hard

I don't want to be petty or ageist but man do these photos make it hard

Uneconomical
In reality it's quite hard to break an encryption. It takes time and resources. Who will pay for that?
 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


And how will government deal with the fact that a business's expensively developed encryption is totally useless once they've broken it open? In a free market the request like this may well put a start up out of business.
 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


And which angel investor is going to put money into an Aussie company in the first place when there's such a glaring liability?
 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


That's why you're seeing business as well as civil rights groups get angry.


~Here is a good SBS article and video that give an overview on the bill without taking sides~

~...and here is are more pointed and astute opinion piece in The Guardian~

Futurology: There's Best Practice and then there's Tantric Practice

When it comes to thinking about the future and trend spotting I always look up to LS:N Global and JWT’s The Future 100.

There’s Best Practice. But then… Then there’s Tantric Practice.

tantra.png

Tantra isn’t just old-timey drawings of contortionist sex poses. Tantra isn’t even necessarily sexual. Its core tenant (at least from my limited, occult-influenced, white understanding) is that divine creation cannot be understood verbally – only experientially. The orgasm becomes a metaphor for this. And that’s where I derived the name Futuregasm (stylised FTRGZM) from. Strap in, it’s about to get weird.

In Tantra: The Indian Cult of Ecstasy, Philip Rawson explains the “common-sense, materialistic-scientific view of time (that) most Western people hold”.

“It resembles the view we get by looking backwards only out of the rear window of a moving automobile (…) objects appear out of an invisible future within our field of vision, framed in ur present moment which defines our immediate sense-experience and knowledge. As time goes by things as they get older seem to recede towards the horizon. All things seem as though they must have a beginning and end.”

The everyday view of time and history (the default world zzZ)

The everyday view of time and history (the default world zzZ)

So here we can see what inspires the need for futurology and trend spotting in the conventional mind. Everything is hurtling away from of us into oblivion and we must figure out what is coming next to not fade into irrelevancy along with it!

“Tantra…” Rawson asserts “…looks at things differently. It thinks of the past full of ‘objects’ not as a landscape through which each person moves with his ‘present-frame’, but as a trail of things and events which is, as it were, being vomited out or projected from the mouth of the present, like the flames from the tail end of a rocket.” He later substitutes the visual metaphor of a rocket with that of a monster’s mouth.

You are in the mouth of the monster that “represents time and fertility”

You are in the mouth of the monster that “represents time and fertility”

Whaaaaat. There is so much here to unpack: Nothing but the present moment, existence as something alive and creative rather than permanent rear-view mirror lament, our complete lack of perspective on something that we take so completely for granted… the list goes on. Sadhus and wise-men have contemplated these things for centuries and haven’t cracked it so I’ll just rapidly move on to Rawson and Tantra’s next assertion.

“If we then shift our viewpoint and imagine ourselves looking back outward through the projecting open mouth of the monster (…) we still see things ‘receding’ from us along the vista of the past into the time-depth of the picture. The real difference is that in this new image time and things did not ‘begin’ at some imaginary point back in the depths of the picture. They are being projected through each of us; each person’s ‘present-frame’ is itself a mouth of that monster vomiting out his world of experience and knowledge. “

So in other words when your sitting in the steaming hot mouth of that monster you suddenly realise: We’re not actually going anywhere. There is no great overarching timeline that is slowly plotting towards an inevitable grand outcome. There is only a terrifyingly, overwhelmingly beautiful and never-ending process of creation in the present moment “…And what is being projected is the tissue of experience and memory that we call reality. It is part of the mechanisms’ function to make reality seem solid, spread out around us and looking as if it must have had a beginning far back in time.”

We’re so used to the cacophony of constant creation that we have totally drowned it out of our everyday experience.

Or looked at from another angle: We’re being actively deceived. There is something sticky, infinitely illusive and even sentient about the way in which we are constantly distracted from the roaring jaws of creation. We are blind to it, seeing only glimpses here and there. We become obsessed with and worship third and fourth degree relics of creation – our iphone, a golden calf… capital. Is there no alternative?!

“Now comes the crucial Tantrik operation.”

What we see when we ‘turn back up’

What we see when we ‘turn back up’

“Having understood the new picture we then have to ‘turn around’ and look back up into the place from which experienced reality is coming.”

Stare deep into the beasts throat. And what do we see in that roaring furnace?

Well everyone should find out on their own. But it’s often depicted through the visual metaphor of a mandala – the Shri Yantra.  

forgive me for my words won’t do its
meaning justice.

In the center we see a singular unchangeable “masculine” (let’s forgive the ancients for the gender binaries) seed –the lingam- that is constantly planted and replanted in the “feminine”, yoni – an organ in permanent flux. The fusion allows for a constant dance of illusion and creation – a circuit of lesser geometries derived from the one original seed and finally “The outer circles and rings of lotus petals symbolize the unfolding reality of the world.” It’s a bizarre, hypnotic and exhilarating view of the past, present and future.

And having seen it “…we have to go on living, fully aware of what is going on.”

Or try desperately not to forget!

That view of future gazing is so much more all encompassing and empowering than a desperate sprint to stay one step ahead of the past. It’s how I want to talk about futurology and think about creativity.

It’s how I want to live.

TL;DR Don’t worry, it’s all a wank.

Image borrowed from  deva project .

Image borrowed from deva project.