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HBO Now Starts a War Between Cable Providers and Cable Networks

Apple and HBO announced the release of a new on-demand service called HBO Now, exclusive to Apple customers. HBO Now is an on-demand service less like HBO Go, but more akin to Netflix. This represents a shift in the cable television content distribution paradigm.

Let’s look at HBO Go for an example. Previously, in order to get on-demand television content, users would have to supply the application or online service with a cable provider login to access the content, both archived content and live content. Now, using this new service, anyone can sign up for the HBO service without having to subscribe to a cable provider.

Unlike the music industry, the television and cable TV industry has been reluctant to achieve consensus on how to provide consumers with on-demand content beyond a cable subscription. Many have speculated the difficulty in achieving a consensus on providing on-demand cable TV content to consumers who are not cable TV subscribers, is not because the content creators (HBO, Showtime, etc.) are reluctant to sell the content, but the cable providers (Comcast, TWC, etc.) are unwilling to shift their business model to an on-demand model.

“Cable providers such as Time Warner Cable, til this point, has been resistant to putting content online because their current setup, in which people pay for a cable package and then an additional $10-20 a month for HBO has been very lucrative”, says Fast Company.

HBONow

The announcement from Apple CEO Tim Cook and HBO CEO Richard Plepler signifies a massive shift and blow to the cable providers. Apple and HBO will be offering HBO content to all Apple device users (Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, etc.) for a nominal monthly fee of $14.99. It’s clear that HBO recognizes Netflix as a competitor and cable providers as a roadblock to success.

Implications:

  • Online viewing habits of consumers are shifting the way content creators and providers are distributing content.
  • Even though the on-demand online subscription base for services like Netflix and HBO don’t feature advertisements, there is now a case for product placement within shows.
  • If more services like HBO or Netflix continue make a move into the online space for subscription based, on-demand services, there will be an impact on media within the cable provider ecosystem.

In the end, it will be interesting to see how HBO’s move impacts the cable TV/provider landscape. For too long, there has been a stalemate in the battle for online subscription based networks (HBO) independent of cable subscription (TWC). Both services want to make money, we’ll see who makes it first – at the expense of the other.

SXSW

SXSW Interactive and the Exchange of Ideas

I’m pleased to announce that I will be representing Cramer-Krasselt at SXSW Interactive 2015 and obviously, I’m super excited to attend this annual, sharing of the minds convention. Even though this is my second time attending the Interactive festival, I’m still very much eager to learn, network and see what the future of marketing may hold.

As a digital strategy director at the agency, my goal at SXSW is to not only listen and assimilate new methods of digital marketing and innovations within the category, but to exchange ideas with others in the field. Where the previous time I attended SXSW, I took on a more passive role within the festival and soaked in as much information about trends, innovation and methodologies, this year my goal is to be more active. This year, my goal is to not only obtain as much information around trends, innovations and marketing methodologies, but it’s also about sharing and conversing about contemporary approaches to digital marketing with others in the fields.

SXSW INTERACTIVE

What does this secondary goal really mean? Well, it’s less about networking and more about the conversation, debate and brainstorming new ideas. It means it’s more of an active role during the week. Yes, there is the exchange of ideas with people at the festival, but I feel as though it’s more one person speaking to a room of 30. Discourse and dialogue in-between, over coffee on the sidewalk or at a restaurant is where the ideas discussed come to life.

This is not to say that I won’t be attending any sessions, far from it. I have planned out a full calendar of sessions, and yes I’m pretty double-booked. So far, my focus of the sessions will be on new technology and consumer tech approaches to wearables, the quantified self, and the Internet of Things as well as overarching innovations in digital marketing and new ways to think about the consumer.

It is also important to note, I will be assisting in a Cramer-Krasselt led workshop on Friday, March 13th at 11am called, “How to Keep Ideas Alive After SXSW.” I know that the workshop is already sold out, but if you want to discuss the ideas and approaches from that session, I’m happy to meet up afterward to discuss how you can take all these ideas back to your organization and make them come to life.

So, with all that said, if you want to meet up and discuss what we have been learning at the sessions at SXSW, I’m all for it. If you want to meet up to discuss potential agency and client relationships, I’m all for it. Basically, I’m open to the free exchange of ideas and how that is going to move our industry forward.

I will be there for the entire SXSW Interactive portion of the conference. If you want to hit me up, feel free to reach out to me using the social SXSW portal, Twitter (@ebreakdown) or on LinkedIn. Basically, you can find me anywhere.

With that said, I look forward to the new ideas, thoughts, methods and innovations at SXSW. I look forward to meeting new and inspiring people and of course, I look forward to the parties.

See you in Austin!

Elvis

Spotify and Elvis: How To Create Innovative Digital Experiences

In honor of his would be 80th birthday, Spotify (the king of online music experience) created two applications that celebrate Elvis’ influence on music.

The first application, The Elvis Influence allows a user to type in their favorite (or any) band or artist to see how they have been influenced by Elvis. The best way to describe this experience is that it’s the Six Degrees of Elvis. The application backtracks the influence of each artist to Elvis himself. Additionally, the application allows a user to listen to the whole timeline or the individual artists.

The second application, The Elvisualization, is an interactive infographic which details the influence of Elvis overtime. Very similar to a “bloodline” if you will, it illustrates how Elvis influenced every artist after him all the way to contemporary times, across many different genres. In addition to illustrating the influence, the interactive graphic is dynamic allowing a user to click on any artist listed for a preview of their sound.

http://static.echonest.com/insights/elvis/index.html

Beyond Elvis being awesome, why should we care about these two applications from Spotify? Well, Spotify has historically been fantastic at leveraging their content, their assets and their library/database for enhanced user experiences than just streaming music. They are offering users more context, the ability to explore new content and share that content with others.

  • Innovating with Existing Product: Every brand or company has a product or service. However, what helps make good marketers is finding ways to innovate using that existing product and share that innovation to the customer. Yes, it is easier said than done with some clients and Spotify is unique in the fact that they have music as their product. Yet, the music isn’t their product, their database is and they are very smart with that database and consumption/tagging data that comes along with it. If you really think about it, Spotify didn’t create the Elvis apps because they have Elvis music, they created the apps because they have access to influence metrics and consumption of music stemming from Elvis’s music. That level of innovation and thinking, beyond simply what product does a brand have and how do we market the product, can create extraordinary experiences for consumers and the industry.
  • Moving Beyond the App: Yes, Spotify has a mobile application as their main source of product consumption, but they also have a web version too. Spotify has been good with creating experiences that don’t necessarily rely upon a platform, but experiences that rely upon their API and database. You don’t have to download the Elvis apps and you don’t need to be a member of Spotify to listen to the music. Don’t always design for the platform, design for the experience.
  • Consumer Value through Context: Spotify is a content consumption and curation experience. The brand has been very good with adding context to that equation as well. Music is very personal and selective, it makes sense for a brand like Spotify to hone in on that and create experiences that allow for the user to create their own experience.

Spotify is not only an amazing company offering a service to users that directly taps into passion points, they also, and one could argue changed consumer behavior from a purchase model to a streaming/leasing model of content. Because of that success in the industry and the access to content and consumption, it allows them to be on the forefront in digital marketing.

Want more? Take a look at these recent experiences Spotify has offered their consumers:

Top20Tracks

My Top 20 Tracks of 2014

This year was a great year of music exploration for me. I listened to a variety of new genres, artists and tracks that I normally wouldn’t. This isn’t to say that I stopped listening to EDM or alternative music, I just expanded my music consumption a bit.

Last year I created a list of my Top Albums of 2013, that were released in 2013. This year, I’m taking a different approach. This year, I am providing a list of Top 20 Tracks that I listened to on an ongoing basis, tracks that I love, tracks that helped define 2014 and tracks that I couldn’t “put down.” Now, I want to caveat this by saying this is a list of my personal Top Tracks of 2014; they were not necessarily created in 2014, nor were they top tracks by the amount of times I listened to them, they simply helped define the last year for me.

So, here we go, as promised, my Top 20 Tracks of 2014!

20. I Just Wanna Love U (Jean Tonique Remix) – Jay Z featuring Pharrell

19. Do It Again – Röyksopp & Robyn

18. Flipmode – Mt. Eden

17. Love Is All I Got (Feed Me’s Matilda Remix) – Feed Me featuring Crystal Fighters

16. Made to Love – John Legend

15. Prayer in C – Lilly Wood and the Prick (Robin Schulz Remix)

14. A Pain That I’m Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) – Depeche Mode

13. Big Talk – Conway

12. Million Voices – Otto Knows

11. Fading Nights – Parra for Cuva (Original Mix)

10. Fade Out Lines – The Avener

9. Allein – Pryda

8. All of Me – John Legend

7. Pushing On – Oliver $ and Jimi Jules

6. Under Control – Calvin Harris

5. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons featuring Kendrick Lamar

4. Til Sunrise (Pairanoid Remix) – Goldroom

3. Rage the Night Away – Steve Aoki featuring Waka Flocka Flame

2. Ritual Union – Little Dragon

And my Top Track of 2014…
1. Dare You – Hardwell

Not only is this a killer track and Hardwell is probably the top EDM artist of the year, but this is the track I heard on approach into Sky Harbor and will forever remind me of my move to Phoenix.

ebreakdown on Instagram

My Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2014

I’m sure we have all seen the “year in review” lists on every site. Now, I know that the year is technically not over, but I wanted to compile a list of my top Instagram photos to date. This top ten list of Instagram photos is based on likes only, not any other type of engagement.

So here we go, my Top 10 Instagram shots of 2014.

1.

Gorgeous #sunset in the #desert. #scottsdale #phoenix #cloudporn #palmtrees #clouds #desertliving

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

2.

Brilliant #sunset in #phoenix. I can't make this up! #clouds #monsoon #color

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

3.

#Milwaukee #ArtMuseum on a beautiful #winter day. #calatrava #clouds

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

4.

#smoke stacks to the max! The city's #hvac systems are in overdrive. #chicago #chiberia #cold #steam

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

5.

#ChristmasTree ready to go! #Tempe #holidays

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

6.

#chicago, we meet again! #downtown #skyscraper #chicagoriver #hardrockhotel

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

7.

Here comes my first #haboob! #sandstorm #duststorm #storm #desert #weather #phoenix

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

8.

What an amazing #sunset after a day of #flooding. #monsoon2014 #azmonsoon #phoenix

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

9.

Fantastic #clouds tonight, reminds me of a #Rothko #painting. #phoenix #storm

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

10.

That was a fun walk in. #snow #chicago #lakeeffect #commute #river #snowstorm #loop

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

And here is my personal favorite of 2014. It’s not based on any other metric other than my own personal opinion.

#frozen #chicago #river. #ice #chicagoriver #bridge #iceskating #winterolympicsinchicago

A photo posted by Leif Fescenmeyer (@ebreakdown) on

I hope you enjoyed my images from 2014. It’s been a very good year and I had a lot of fun as you can tell. Get ready for the next list, my top tracks of 2014!

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Notable Advertising and Marketing Quotes – Part 2

Previously, I wrote a blog post with some of my thoughts about advertising and marketing that I had posted to Twitter. With anyone in the industry, we all have opinions and best practices or even mantras about the world of advertising. That being said, here is round two of that thinking, or more to the point, my thinking, thoughts and learnings about the industry and creativity.

What are your thoughts?

Nike and LeBron in Together

The #KingJames #HardWorkTogether Nike Spot Needs a Better Insight

Nike Basketball, in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy, released a LeBron James comeback spot titled, “Together”. It is an “emotional” spot depicting King James’ return to the city of Cleveland. It has been getting a lot of PR and positive reviews lately, especially in the creative industry. Where it is an emotion-provoking spot, beautifully crafted, I began to wonder if the insight was correct.

Let’s take a step back in time. Back in 2010, LeBron “announced” to the world that he was leaving Cleveland to join the Heat in Miami. LeBron’s ego-driven press conference was not well received, to stay the least, in Cleveland. You even had the owner of the Cavs, Dan Gilbert, say that LeBron’s actions were a “cowardly betrayal” and went on to say, “the good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.” These are pretty heated words born out of a lot of negativity, disappointment, disgrace and betrayal. We all began to wonder if Cleveland would ever want a part of LeBron again.

Now, without going too far into LeBron’s resigning with the Cavs, I think it’s more important to note the negative sensitivity that existed in Cleveland only four years ago. Now, in 2014, all of a sudden it is the “return.” LeBron is welcomed back with open arms by the city he put behind him in the most publicly and somewhat humiliating way? That being said, let’s look at the spot.

Hard work, together. It’s an inspiring and hopeful phrase. The film depicts the entire city coming together and building themselves to a hopeful epoch. It’s the Hope campaign all over again. As I watched this and I remember the past, and as a strategist who prides himself on human truths, I wonder if “Hope” and “Togetherness” was the right idea for the insight. Or, more specifically, I wonder if the insight was correct.

LeBron Together Spot - Nike - Arena

To me, this whole “return” is more dramatic than simply positivity and hope. It’s more than holding our hands and singing kumbaya. It’s more than just the gritty black and white film, it’s more than just giving back to a city that was once destroyed by an ego. And it’s way more than just showing people coming together. To me, the insight is more about the prodigal son returning.

The age old story about a son who disavowed everything and everyone who helped raise him. It’s a story about not being mature and only realizing that once he is out in the world. It’s more about coming home and being humble. It’s about being more than just a star, it’s about giving back, making amends and more so, it’s not about playing a game of basketball to ask for forgiveness.

Together also reminds me of another spot, “Made in New York featuring Derek Jeter. This was a film right on message. It conveyed the true feeling New Yorkers and all those who love baseball had about Jeter. It summarized his character and how the city, how the world truly felt about the man, then the sport. It wasn’t about ego, it was about thanking people.

Just as much as the Gatorade ad, the Together spot is beautifully crafted, it does have the “goose bump inducing” feeling. The ad has a grit to it, it has a feeling of truth and it has an emotive undertone. But the message of Hard Work, Together is about a city rising from the ashes, not about an NBA star telling them how to do so.

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#Burberry’s Global Christmas Campaign is Beautiful, But Needs Some Refinement

Burberry has just launched their first global Christmas campaign. The campaign launched with a four-minute spot featuring Romeo Beckham, yes, the son of David and Victoria. Additionally, it features a new audio track from Ed Harcourt which will be released in December. As far as we know so far, since this is just the launch of the campaign, “the campaign will include outdoor, cinema, and social media advertising to generate interest in Burberry.”

Now, you assumed that Burberry typically does Christmas campaigns and they do, but what is different is this one is global. Yes, that was a bit redundant for me to say, however, coming from my experience working on global accounts, I want to talk about how global campaigns are somewhat difficult to undertake. Firstly, when creating global campaigns, relevancy in all markets (or a select few primary focus markets) is essential. Music choice, voice-overs, time and more importantly message is important as well. Global campaigns are extremely complex, expensive, highly criticized and difficult to produce.

It’s not my place to tell Burberry what to do with their first global campaign, nor is it my place to assume what their global objectives are. However, what I can do is review the creative from the lens of my experience on global accounts and my experience working in advertising.

Burberry Christmas

It’s beautiful, but needs some refinement.

  • The Idea: Let’s start with what I assume the idea is, “Christmas is the time for love and giving.” Christmas is also the time for the enjoyment of idealism and merriment which can be transcribed into song and dance. Christmas is tough, it’s tough to differentiate yourself within the Christmas season, especially if you are a clothing retailer. The campaign does feel a bit scripted and predictable, however, the song and dance is a nuance that not all brands can leverage or, furthermore, own.
  • Music: The new track by Ed Harcourt is brilliant. It captures the essence of the Christmas season and the feeling of idealism and love. However, it doesn’t feel as though it “fits” with visuals. There are some relevant cuts and timing with the dance and the storyline, but all in all, the track feels a bit forced to be a part of the story. At times, the music with the spot feels as though they are two disparate pieces of creative jammed together; less of a solution and more like a suspension. Additionally, I’m not sure why the track is not available until December. It would make sense to release the track at the same time of the campaign launch.
  • Choreography: “Burberry used 50 dancers who perform a dance inspired by classic musical films in front of theatrical London street background.” The choreography is beautifully done and expertly timed. Along with stubble cinematic undertones and perfectly timed cuts and pans (timed according to the dance, not the music), it almost appears that it’s out of a Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly film, or better yet, an early 20th Century stage performance.
  • Art Direction: First off, Burberry did not disappoint with the art direction. They have always been at the top of their game when it comes to finely crafted spots, beautiful tones and color, and the perfect balance of product and lifestyle. This spot almost feels as though it’s a print ad, Burberry print ad come to life. The look and feel of Christmas does come out, however subtly. Christmas is a magical time of celebration and merriment, regardless of which religion you are apart of. The snow showers and the dancing in the snow whilst wearing Burberry coats and scarves perfectly encapsulates Christmas from a Burberry point of view. All in all, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the art direction in this film.
  • Four Minutes: I’ve experienced this time and time again, the four-minute “film” on YouTube. I understand that this is more of a music video, more of a campaign launch film than a TVC. However, as marketers, we do have to understand the consumer and determine whether or not one has the time to sit through at four minute film on YouTube. According to Google, after the first 15 seconds of every video on YouTube, that’s when viewers are most likely to drop off. That being said, there’s something to be said about crafting great pieces of art and content. Just as much as we talk about viewership, we also need to keep in mind the types of devices consumers use to watch YouTube videos; there are certain markets in the world where consumers are more likely to watch YouTube on a mobile device than on a laptop. So, who actually watches four minutes on a mobile device when walking around? In the end, let’s keep time in mind when creating spots.
  • Celebrity Casting: Don’t even get me started about celebrity casting. Yes, I see the buzz value in casting a celebrity for a campaign and leveraging their influence to generate buzz and excitement. However, as we have seen in multiple examples including Honda’s latest “Type R” campaign, it’s not entirely necessary. I believe the Burberry Christmas campaign would have the same influence whether or not they casted Romeo Beckham; especially since I just found out he existed. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a cute kid and a “cute kid” works for this execution; just not sure if it was necessary to cast Romeo.
  • Global Relevancy: This is a big one! Now, we haven’t seen a lot of the secondary executions to the spot just yet. They do have some images being leveraged on their Instagram account, but global relevancy is more than just platform activations; especially for a Christmas spot. The subtitle to the campaign is “From London with Love” and that’s all well and good, but London is not the globe; it is a global city, but not necessarily global. How would a market, let’s say, Brazil react to a spot like this? (Especially since during Christmas it’s Summer in Rio). Additionally, we need to look at ethnicity too. This spot is very heavy up on caucasians and doesn’t address the complexity of a diverse set of ethnicities in the world. The campaign is scalable, but not necessarily regionally relevant.

 

Burberry Romeo Beckham

Overall, it is a great spot, but it is lacking alignment with audio and visual; it really needs some refinement. Perhaps, the fix would be as easy as choose a different audio track to complement astounding visuals? It will be very interesting to see how Burberry runs with this idea in their longer-form campaign. Will there be further owned nuances to the idealism? Will there be more song and dance? Will they focus on giving rather than buying? One thing I do know, Burberry are excellent marketers and I can’t wait to see how they make this a case study that we all will use in the coming year.

Notable Advertising and Marketing Quotes

As with most people in the industry, we all have our opinions about advertising and marketing. That being said, I’ve been posting my thoughts about advertising and marketing on Twitter and other social platforms, but I realize I haven’t provided a central repository for all of my learnings, thoughts or observations.

So, here we go, here are some of the musing from the year to date. And of course, I’m interested in your feedback and thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with these ideas?

Announcement: I’m Relocating to Phoenix

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After living in Chicago for the last four years and the midwest for my entire life, I’m moving on, I’m moving to Phoenix! It goes without saying that this is a pretty large life-changing event. That being said, I look at it as a new adventure, a new chapter to experience. Not to mention, I’m pretty tired of the Chicago Winters; man, this last one was brutal.

The love of my life is in Phoenix (she truly is the love of my life) as is a great, professional opportunity. I have accepted a position at a national advertising agency in Phoenix. These guys (which you will find out later who they are) are rockstars and are very passionate about the work. The passion that I’m talking about is the same passion that I always seek and have been a part of. I have had the opportunity, no, the honor to work with very talented and passionate people everywhere in Chicago and it will be difficult to let them go. However, this is a chance for me to open up a new chapter in my life; one with the woman I love, a chapter of new professional and digital opportunities at the agency, and a new chapter to grow digital in new forms, new clients and new work.

As I look back at my life in Chicago, I look back with a smile on my face. Chicago is the home of advertising, the home of marketing; if anyone says different (I’m looking at you NYC), they’re wrong. Chicago has taught me so much and has made me grow into digital professional I am today. The memories I have of this town, will always stay with me; especially the people. Everyone (too many to name), has made a significant impact on who I am, how I view the world, how I work and how I see the future. As I look back at my life in Chicago, I look back with a tear in my eye. I know that the experiences I have had here will always stay with me. The memories, the people and the moments have shaped me and have helped make me the person who I am today. It is sad to leave you all, leave the city that I have grown to love. However, with an end should come a new beginning; a new chapter.

Now, I can’t forget about Milwaukee… my alma mater. I keep thinking, “how did I get here?” And I know it’s because of Milwaukee. I have nothing but fond memories of Milwaukee and it will always have a special place in my heart. After all, it is the town where I met Stephanie. Milwaukee, as most of the Midwest, kept me pragmatic, humble and driven. It brought me up to the person I am today, with, what I hope, a strong moral code, work ethic and great friends that will never leave. I leave the Midwest thinking that Milwaukee was my hometown.

As I look forward, I see a bright future. A future of amazing possibilities, both personally and professionally. It is a future of exploration and adventure. I’m moving West. It’s Manifest Destiny. It is the American way. I see myself as a pioneer of sorts. I see this next stage as opportunity to start anew. I see this as what I want, need and have to do. Don’t think of it as me moving across the country, think of it as I’m only 2 hours behind.

In closing, I leave you with this. A close friend of mine once told me, “When you stop looking up at your city, that’s the moment you need to leave.” I believe that to be true and I’m ready to look up at Phoenix.

PS> You can follow my journey by following the #CHI2PHX hashtag on social media. (Yes, I had to make a hashtag for this)