Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Super Bowl Commercials for $4.5 Million? Newcastle Brown Ale is Smarter Than That

Newcastle Band of Brands Super Bowl Promotion
It's Super Bowl commercial season again...What? Oh, sorry. It's "Big Game" commercial season again! The time of year when brands attempt to kick up their content a notch or two. Unfortunately, very few succeed. It seems more like brands pour all their money into buying the ad time ($4.5 million this year) and on making a splashy commercial without thoughts of how to make it last past their 30 second allotment.

However, last year there was one clear stand out. I wrote about the Newcastle Brown Ale "If We Made It" online promotion. Their online videos were about the commercial they would have made for the "Big Game". It was so well done I thought it would start a trend of brands creating online promotions instead of paying for the actual "Big Game" spot. At least a few cheap copycats.
Super Bowl Promotion

Well, I've got good news and bad news for this year. Here's the bad news: I haven't seen any other companies promoting online promotions yet. There's still time though. If you know of any, please tell me in the comments below. Here's the good news: Newcastle Brown Ale is back with a new promotion! This year they are trying to place an ad for the game - as long as they don't have to pay for it.

Their first attempt was to create a Newcastle ad disguised as a user-generated ad submitted for a snack chip contest (Doritos). Unfortunately, a number of rules prohibited Newcastle from being selected. They're listed in the behind-the-scenes video.

Now, they're trying to find additional brands to pool their money together for a commercial and calling it the Newcastle Band of Brands. As convincing as only Newcastle can be, they have released two videos so far starring Aubrey Plaza soliciting brands to join them. From their website, www.newcastlebandofbrands.com, it looks like they have at least 7 more videos still to come.

While I'll be watching all of the other commercials and analyzing them with all of you, I'm most looking forward to the rest of the Newcastle promotion. I love their edge and their whole "we-don't-need-the-Big-Game" attitude. On a related note, they also ran an Independence Eve promotion last year called "If We Won" (ifwewon.com) that was also very well done.

Take a look at the Band of Brand videos and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it with your friends.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Interview: So After All That, Who Won?

Taking It Back
First off, this is not a review of "The Interview" starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. I haven't seen it yet. But, you've no doubt followed along in what has to be the most bizarre movie opening ever. If you lived under a rock and missed it, here's a recap. Set to open on Christmas Day, the movie was pulled back and rumored to never be released at all amid Sony's cyber attack and threats of violence on movie theaters that showed the movie. Sony suddenly found themselves criticized for allowing North Korea to dictate a movie's opening...including comments from President Obama. Next thing you know, on Christmas Eve, Sony relents and decides to release it on Christmas after all. It opened in theaters that decided to show it, as well as online.
The results after the first weekend were $2.8 million in the theater (now at $4.8 million in limited theaters)...and $15 million in online sales. It became the most downloaded over-the-top movie ever with 2 million downloads over the first 4 day weekend, Dec. 25-28 (read more here). Sales were close to the $20 million projected if it had a wide release to all theaters as originally planned. In the aftermath, there's now speculation that North Korea may not have been responsible for the Sony cyberattack after all. It may have been Russian speakers. Further rumors have accused the entire thing of being an elaborate marketing stunt by Sony. 

Given all of the hype, drama and success, who were the winners here? Let's take a look at the players:

  • Sony: It's too early to say whether they'll win out eventually. While the first weekend was successful, I've seen original overall projections as high as $120 million. I'm not sure they make that much. If it turns out to be an actually good movie (I've heard mixed reviews), it might. Or, it might fizzle out after the initial excitement and hype.

    As for rumors of this being all publicity, I don't think so. There's too much money at risk. Plus, there had been threats from North Korea for months about releasing the movie. I was actually surprised no one took any of it seriously until the last minute. This also does nothing but damage the U.S.'s relationship with North Korea.

  • North Korea: Almost, but nope. Whether they were responsible for the Sony cyber attack or not, they were taken seriously for a few minutes there. In the end though, Sony went ahead with the release and there was no violence. Was Kim Jong Un really going to waste the money and energy for a Seth Rogen/James Franco movie? Hard to say, but he's unstable enough to say "maybe".

  • The American Government: No. They stood up for not backing down to threats, but they were defending a Seth Rogen/James Franco movie. Not much to be gained and not surprised they didn't come out too strongly. Although, they could have nipped this in the bud months ago before all of the drama.

  • Online Movie Ordering: With the 2 million downloads, "The Interview" is now considered a test case for simultaneous video on demand and theatrical release. I think this may be too much of an anomaly. While it may have gotten people to try online ordering that hadn't before, the strange set of events leading up to it are likely the reason for the success. I don't see this success being replicated on a "regular" movie release. 

  • Us, the viewing public: Again, I can't say. I haven't seen it and the reviews I've seen have been mixed. You could say we won by having the option to see it at all. But, if it's a bad movie, what did we really win?

  • Seth Rogen and James Franco: I'm not sure they won as much as they didn't lose. Not sure all the hubbub was worth it though. 

The way I see it, there was only one clear winner: George Clooney. His statement (read more here) was widely shared and supported on social media. For once, most of us agreed with what he had to say and took the time to read it. Good for you, George! Don't make it a habit though. Most of us don't care about your views on just about anything.
Oh, and partial winners were Trey Parker and Matt Stone as "Team America: World Police" was set to be the replacement movie shown in a few theaters...until Paramount smacked that idea down. It was a great idea and a great movie. How that was released with none of this drama, I'll never know. Puppets must not offend the North Koreans as much. Or, maybe they just thought the movie was as funny as we did! If you haven't seen it (or even if you have), check it out. 

Do you agree with my take? Did you see the movie yet? Did you like it? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading and please share it with your friends! Have a great 2015!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Top 10 Influential Marketers of 2014

2014 has been a huge year for marketing. I personally learned a ton. Podcasts, blogs, videos, books, conferences, Twitter chats...I could go on and on. There were a lot of people to learn from and below are the ten most influential marketers of 2014. Some are very familiar, some were new to me and some I was just plain late to the party. Here they are in no particular order:

Top Ten Influential Marketers of 2014
Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer): Paul's approach to marketing with PR 20/20 is refreshing and truly is a different way of thinking than most agencies. The fact that he saw a better way to do things and built it is as inspiring as it comes. Full disclosure: I was so inspired by Paul that when there was an opportunity to join the team at PR 20/20, I jumped at the chance!

Scott Stratten (@unmarketing): Scott is one of the guys I was late to party for. I heard him speak for the first time this year at Content Marketing World. I was hooked quickly. Since, I've been catching up quickly on his books and listen to his Unpodcast regularly. He's the one guy on this list that I haven't met yet. Hopefully I'll get the chance soon!

Top Ten Influential Marketers of 2014
Jason Miller (@jasonmillerCA): What do you get when you mix heavy metal music and content marketing? One of the smartest and most entertaining marketers out there. Anyone that can mix in AC/DC and Kiss in their marketing presentation will have my undivided attention (check it here on Slideshare)! Meeting Jason was one of the highlights of my year, not only to talk marketing, but also talk some rock music!

Andy Crestodina (@crestodina): I was lucky enough to meet Andy at Content Marketing World, where he made a huge splash, not only with his session, but also his creative content during the conference. First was his Ask It Forward video in which speakers would answer a question and then ask a question to the next speaker. He also worked with Amy Higgins to create the second Content Marketing World Yearbook. Both of these have me rethinking how I want to make an impact at my next conference!

Top Ten Influential Marketers of 2014
Joe Pulizzi (@joepulizzi): Over 2600 marketers in Cleveland for this year's Content Marketing World, This Old Marketing with Robert Rose, the new Content, Inc. podcast, countless speaking engagements, webinars and chats...oh, and a lifetime achievement award this year! There's a bunch more I can add. And, how can you argue with his goal of making Cleveland the capital of content marketing (see the article here)!  Keep it up, Joe!

Robert Rose (@robert_rose): Robert's presentation about marketers leading the charge at Content Marketing World was more than enough to get him on this list. It may have been the most inspiring presentation at the conference. I can't wait to read his book when it comes out. In the meantime, his articles are always thought-provoking and he's the perfect complement to Joe Pulizzi on This Old Marketing.

Top Ten Influential Marketers of 2014
Content Marketing Institute (@CMIcontent): I have to include CMI as a whole for all they've done this year. The team is incredibly smart and talented. I was lucky enough to specifically spend some time with Cathy McPhillips, Joe Kalinowski and Amanda Subler at a few events this year and they've definitely had a big influence on me. A quick, fun way to get to know the team is join their weekly #CMWorld Twitter chats on Tuesdays at noon!

Ann Handley (@annhandley): Ann is just one of the speakers I can listen to over and over and always come away with something new. "Everybody Writes" may be my favorite new book this year.

Top Ten Influential Marketers of 2014
Jeff Rohrs (@jkrohrs): Jeff is simply one of the smartest guys I know. It might be his lawyer background, but he brings a unique perspective to marketing that I find inspiring. He's one of the guys that I always look forward to hearing speak. Check him out each week on the Social Pros podcast with Jay Baer.

Jay Baer (@jaybaer): Speaking of Jay Baer...I learn something new every time I hear him speak or read one of his articles (or books). True to his "Youtility" theme, Jay offers useful advice in a way that is easy to understand and implement. 

By far, these were not the only influential marketers. Tell me who influenced you this year in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading and please share this with your friends. Have a safe and happy New Year and best of luck for 2015!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Rock CD's of 2014

This week, the 2015 Rock Hall inductees were announced. Other than Stevie Ray Vaughan, this is one of the most boring groups they've had. I've already given my feelings on the Rock Hall when they announced the nominees (Maybe the Rock Hall Should NOT Be in Cleveland). I'm not going to rehash that. You can go back and read it if you want. My opinion hasn't changed.

Instead, to give some recognition to bands that truly deserve it, here are my picks for best CD's of 2014! It was a strong rock music year, but there are some clear standouts. So, with that, here we go:

1.) Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators - World On Fire
Coming off of Apocalyptic Love, I wasn't sure if they could top that CD. They came out with a 17-song, 76 minute monster of a CD that doesn't let up from the opening title track through the end. You can read the full review I wrote when it first came out here.

2.) Black Label Society - Catacombs of the Black Vatican
Zakk Wylde returned with the strongest CD Black Label Society has put out in years. Zakk Wylde's voice was stronger than it's been in some time and these songs just rock. You're not going to find anything here but straight up hard rock. Check out my full review here.

3.) Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
Admittedly, this one had to grow on me a little and the HBO show was a great enhancement to the CD. But once these songs sunk in, they shined! Grohl tells a story with his songs that few others are able to these days. Read my full review of the CD and HBO show here.

4.) Tesla - Simplicity
One of the few '80s bands that continue to make music that stands out. This 14 song set sees them still in fine form. Many feel they were able to recapture some of the sound and feel of their early albums. I didn't really get that sense, but that's not a slight in any way. Just another strong release from one of the best bands to come out of the '80s.

5.) Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls
Judas Priest is back with what may be their final CD. It's classic Judas Priest with the twin guitar attack and screaming Rob Halford vocals. If they've lost anything with age, you won't know it from this CD. Some criticized this CD with being too long, but you'll never see that type of complaint from me. I'd much rather see all of the songs they recorded show up on the record. Let the fans decide which songs they want to listen to. 

There are a few more CD's that need to be mentioned:
Sammy Hagar and Vic Johnson - Lite Roast
This set of acoustic songs from Sammy show us another side. Very entertaining set of songs and a must have if you're a Sammy fan.

Ace Frehley - Space Invader
I'm not a huge fan of solo Ace Frehley, but this CD is damn good. Strong riffs and overall catchy songs show Ace at the best he's been in years.

AC/DC - Rock or Bust
With AC/DC, you know what you're going to get: heavy doses of Angus Young and Brian Johnson's screaming vocals. This is exactly that. It might have been ranked higher if it were released earlier and I had more time to listen to it.

Weird Al Yankovic - Mandatory Fun
I wouldn't normally even mention Weird Al here, but his marketing of this album made many of us take notice remember just how talented he is. He even had his fans fighting for him to play the Super Bowl half time show. "Word Crimes" just might be my all time favorite Weird Al song!

That's my list. What's on your list? Tell me what you agree and disagree with. Thanks for reading! If you like this post, be sure to check out my other posts at www.jeremybednarski.com and share it with your friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Foo Fighters Sonic Highways: CD, HBO Series and Creative Marketing

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how bands need to find new creative ways to market their CD's (Is the Rock CD Dying?). As the CD industry continues to decline, few artists have found effective ways to connect with their fans in a way to sell more CD's. One of the standouts is Taylor Swift. Jessica Gioglio recently wrote a blog post for Convince and Convert about Swift's use of Instagram to engage with her fans. Now it's the Foo Fighters turn as they look to creatively market their newest CD, Sonic Highways.

Foo Fighters were going to have a hard time topping their last album, Wasting Light.  That album took them to new heights. They were everywhere...MTV (when they actually did something music-based), the Grammys...even a documentary on their history through the making of the album. So what did Dave Grohl come up with? A concept to record eight songs in eight cities (Chicago, Washington DC, Nashville, Austin, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle and New York). Oh, and if that wasn't enough, he would also create a documentary highlighting the musical history of each city for an HBO series. Still not enough? (Yeah, we're a tough crowd...) Grohl used quotes from the interviews from the artists to craft the lyrics for each song.

The band spent a week in each city. They'd record the music during the day and, at night, Grohl would interview artists for the documentary. At the end of the week, he'd take the notes from the artists and work them into lyrics for the song they were recording. On the last day, he'd record the lyrics and they'd record the video for the song that ran at the end of each show. Grohl admitted in an interview with Rolling Stone (read it here) that it was a lot more work than he anticipated.

The series is incredibly well done and captivating. Some of the transitions between musical genres were a little choppy, but Grohl's conversational interview style put the artists at ease as they talked about their experiences. You learn about the bands that put these cities on the map, and you also get a glimpse of how Grohl and the Foo Fighters were influenced as well. To top it off, they also had a guest artist for each song. Not only does this bring additional interest in the songs for Foo Fighters fans, but it opens them up to fans of the guest artists (such as Gary Clark, Jr., Zac Brown, Rick Nielsen and Joe Walsh) who may not be current Foo Fighters fans. Getting them to listen to one song might get them to listen to another...and then, possibly liking it enough to buy the CD.

In addition to the documentary series, they secured a guest spot for a full week on the David Letterman show (David Letterman, in the form of Worldwide Pants, was one of the producers of the HBO series). They spent the week playing cover songs with some guest musicians (most of whom appear on the Sonic Highways CD)...leading up to the first single, Something From Nothing, performed live on the Friday show. Each performance was also promoted heavily on social media the following day.

The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard Music chart with 190,000 sales. Overall, I like the CD, but it doesn't match the energy of Wasting Light. It's much more similar to the Sound City soundtrack...the documentary Grohl made about the Sound City studio and in which he brought artists in to record a song in 24 hours. The series very much helps the songs as I had a much stronger appreciation of each song after watching the shows. From seeing the recording and song writing process, as well as the collaboration with the guest artists, there are a little things I wouldn't have noticed had I not watched. It's a great enhancement for the CD with highlights in Something From Nothing, Feast and the Famine, Congregation and I am the River.

Grohl said that this experience has opened up a world of opportunities for the band. In the same Rolling Stone interview, and in true Dave Grohl fashion, he also said, "I'm always learning. You know I have no idea what I'm doing, right?" It's that self awareness and willingness to try things that make most of what Grohl does such a breath of fresh air. His curiosity and eagerness to learn shines through his projects and is perhaps what endears them to us.

What do you think of the CD and/or HBO series? If you haven't checked them out, I highly recommend it. What do you think about it as a marketing vehicle. Leave me your thoughts in the comments below or on social media. Thanks for reading and please share it with your friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Developing My Personal Brand Led to a New Opportunity

It’s about 5:30pm on Friday, November 21st and I’ve just hung up the phone. I’m not just excited, I’m exhilarated! A new chapter in my life is about to begin. A new challenge as I just told Paul Roetzer (@PaulRoetzer) that I’m accepting his offer to come work at PR 20/20! It’s the result and reward of hard work to build my personal brand over the last year. My biggest goal for 2014 was to find a new job. While I couldn't make great positions just appear, I could put myself in the best position for when they did open up.

How did I do it? I built a strategy that put a sharper focus on a lot of the things that I was already doing. I applied the marketing that I’ve done forever and have a passion for…just towards myself. The most important thing in establishing your personal brand is figuring out what you want people to think and know about you. What thoughts come out when your name is brought up? The three areas I want people to know about me are marketing, my love for Cleveland and music (specifically rock music). So I adjusted the following areas to make sure that these came out loud and clear.
My Blog – Taking It Back (www.jeremybednarski.com)
The first and biggest area was my blog. I had started it already and was blogging every once in a while, but I needed to be more consistent. I made the commitment to post weekly. My topics are the main things I want to be known for…marketing, Cleveland and music. Also, I write a little about the cable industry (based on my former cable life), but have scaled back a bit to focus on the other areas and tried to have a Cleveland or marketing angle to those posts. I promote each of my blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+…usually with a daily post on each for 3-4 days, varying the messages. I track the views to see which topics resonant to my readers and which don’t. I’m glad to say that I’ve posted every week so far this year. To be fair, a couple were re-posts of past articles when I was on vacation.  I’m also now publishing a good number of my posts on LinkedIn.

Social Media
With social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, I look for marketing articles to re-tweet and share that I find interesting and/or useful. I try to include a quick takeaway or short opinion to show that I understand what the article is saying or where trends are heading. I look for opportunities to comment on a post or add to a conversation (hopefully not in a creepy way). By doing this, I've been able to build relationships, with many leading to real life meetings (more on this in a minute). 

Another good way to build relationships on Twitter is by tweeting during webinars or participating in Twitter chats. It's a good way to establish your credibility in your field (marketing, in my case) and to find people to follow that you can learn from. Lately, however, I've been more selective of who I follow. By following too many people, my Twitter feed was being bogged down with more information than I could possibly sift through and fewer actual conversations. The point of social media is to interact, so I'm getting back to doing more of that. I wrote a blog post about this if you'd like to read more here.

With LinkedIn and Google+, I mostly share articles that I find interesting. I also comment on others' posts. I made a concerted effort to be more active in both. I still use Facebook mostly for personal use, but tailor a lot of my messages to coincide with my focuses. In all platforms, I try to make sure my personality shines through. I want to be authentic, and I want it to be fun too. 

Events are an opportunity to build new relationships or develop those you’ve started through social media. There are all kinds of events to get involved with. I've been very active with the American Marketing Association and American Advertising Federation. I've volunteered with both groups in order to get to know some of the best marketers in the area and to get new experiences. Tweet ups are another way to build on relationships with people you meet on Twitter. 

Conferences are a huge opportunity to network. My biggest recommendation is to have a plan of attack for what you want to accomplish. I always want to come away with at least two things I can implement in my job almost immediately. I always come away feeling very inspired and with a lot of new ideas. However, once I get back to the day to day work life, it’s very easy to fall back into usual habits. The longer I wait to implement it, the less likely it is to happen. So, I look for things that can have a quick impact. 

The opportunity to meet and learn from so many great marketers is one of the best benefits of conferences. Figure out beforehand who you want to meet or talk to. If you already interact with them on social media, mention you’d love to have a minute to meet in person. Most of the speakers are very accessible as well. For example, this past year at Content Marketing World, I made a point to talk with Jason Miller. We’d chatted a bit on social media and we share a love of rock music (which he incorporates into his presentations). I’m a big fan of his marketing and his rock and roll photography (check it out at rocknrollcocktail.com). It was great just to get a few minutes to say hi and talk a little music.

I can’t stress enough how important the events are at a conference. These are when you have a chance to meet people while you have your guard down a little. For Content Marketing World, the Sunday before the start of the conference, Joe Pulizzi (@joepulizzi) and Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose) were recording their podcast live and invited attendees. I met Ian Cleary (@IanCleary), who then introduced me to Andy Crestodina (@Crestodina). Two incredibly smart marketers. I didn’t go with the intention of meeting them, but am very glad that I did. In fact, speaking of having a plan for conferences, Crestodina had the most creative, inspired and fun tactics during the conference. Had I not met him, I may not have even paid attention to what he was doing. That would have been a huge miss for me!

So with these tactics, how has my personal brand grown and what benefits have I seen? The biggest is that my network of friends and colleagues continues to grow. People appreciate help I give them (and I'm happy to give it). I've also had opportunities to guest Tweet for @InTheCle and guest blog for Cleveland Plus. 

The ultimate result is my new role with PR 20/20. I'll be able to better utilize my marketing skills and continue to learn and grow. In essence, I get to establish new goals and take my career to new heights. I can't wait to get started. I've had a blast getting to this point and I'm going to have even more fun now!

Well, that's my story. Each of us has a different path though. How have you grown your brand? What tactics have been successful for you? What recommendations would you give? Any questions for me? Reply in the comments below. Thanks everyone for reading and please share this with your friends. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thank You. Two Small Words That Go a Long Way!

"Thank You". Two words that go a long way. In business, research has shown that a simple "thank you" can do wonders for morale. You've felt it. You finish a project and your boss thanks you and instinctively feel good. Just that recognition and appreciation motivates us.

In social media, I see "thank you's" all the time, and I've gotten a few myself. I appreciate the fact that someone takes the time to send a quick message. It encourages me to continue helping them and to make sure that I thank those that help me out as well. 

With that, rather than write one of my normal posts on marketing, music or whatever, I just want to express my appreciation to all of you. This year will be ending on a high note for me (more on that next week) and much of that is due to a lot of people who helped me along the way. I couldn't possibly list everyone that has helped me (and I don't want to insult anyone by leaving out a name), but this is for all of you:

  • Thanks to my wife, family and all my friends for all your love, help, advice and support. It truly means more than words can say and you've all helped me more than I could ever repay (although I'll still try!).
  • Thank you for those of you who read my blog. With all the messages out there and people vying for your attention, I appreciate that you find what I say interesting enough to spend a few minutes checking it out. Whether you've read one post or many, thank you.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend.