South Park takes on Apple

Last night, Trey and Matt released their latest pack of hounds, this time on Mr. Jobs and Apple. This is obviously a response to the recent stories that Apple is tracking the detailed whereabouts of users of iPhones and iPads. Whether it is true or not, it’s tough to ignore the scary idea that it’s true, and that there is credible evidence out there supporting the idea. The show handles the issue with amazing humor and sarcasm, but the best part of it is that it’s bringing the issue to a more general audience who may not be aware of the chitter chatter happening in the digital marketing community.

Facebook has gotten slammed on privacy issues for years now, and as smarts phones and mobile technology become ever more ubiquitous, we as the community of consumers need to do everything we can to ensure our privacy. Coming from the world of advertising, I often hate myself for being the channel that helps support large corporations and their greedy ways, but I truly feel that social media is different because it allows companies to form a more human face and to develop strong human relationships with the people that help support them. We live in a world of necessary evils, which are often times tough to recognize and deal with, but funny quips like this will help shed light on important issues that we collectively find an answer to.

And no, I don’t read the Terms and Conditions, but I also stopped updating the iTunes software long ago so that I didn’t have to agree to the evolving tactics of Apple and its peers. Maybe that’s why I opted for the Evo and haven’t purchased an iPod that is less than an inch thick.

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Facebook as a distribution channel

Today Warner Brothers continues its partnership with Facebook to release movies via the film’s FB page. Each movie will be $3 a pop and will be available for 48 hours after the purchase is made.

I am trying to envision the experience of watching a movie through FB, and it definitely seems like an odd experience right now, but as penetration of Internet-enabled TV’s and streaming adapters become wider, using primary web channels like FB will become more common and comfortable. I’m still trying to get used to streaming films through Apple TV, and dealing with the connection issues it presents, more often than I’d like, but nothing will outdo the convenience.

The social impact of FB being a distribution channel is likely to be huge, even though only time will tell exactly how consumers and marketers will actually use it. On the obvious side, content will gain huge momentum via WOM and FB’s sharing tools. Less obvious effects will likely revolve around the ways movies and shows are marketed and the overall release cycle. Will the viewing experience through the web become so positive that users are less likely to go to the theater, and therefore making the theater cycle become shorter and shorter? Will video conferencing services like Skype and Face Time enter the business, allowing people to watch movies “together” even though they’re 1000 miles apart? Should be interesting.

Nestle Augmented Reality Prize

Man, I remember the day when digging my dirty hand into a freshly-opened box of sugary cereal and pulling out a cheap toy wrapped in plastic wrap was the highlight of the day. Yes, there were always toys that were cooler than others, but never did I get too disappointed with my prize. Well, like most things these days, my idea of a cereal toy is completely lame, just like He Man and baseball cards. Nowadays, it’s apparently all about prizes that bring the kid into the digital world. The latest iteration of that is augmented reality.

Nestle has partnered with the film Rio to create an interactive experience with the movie’s hero via a web cam and a hand card cut out of the cereal box. From the looks of it, Dassault Systèmes has done a killer job with bringing the character to life in a new a vibrant way. Although I’m unsure about the depth of the overall experience, kids are surely to be excited by even a few different movements and actions, and will keep them entertained for minutes, even maybe hours. Then their ADD will kick back in and they’ll pick their DS back up and ignore the real world for the rest of the afternoon. Luckily, this promotion hasn’t hit the obese US market yet…for now.

W2E2SXSW

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my wife and I returning from a 5 month honeymoon in Asia. After getting married in Puerto Vallart, Mexico, on Halloween 2009, we jumped on a plane and landed in Tokyo, the first stop of a trip that led us through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. We photographed temples, explored caves, experimented with exotic foods, volunteered in destitute communities, and (I) even bungy jumped off the tallest commercial tower in the world in Macau (See below).

Macau Tower Bungy Jump – 233 meters – 12/1609 from Craig Palumbo on Vimeo.

Even though we both had a perfect life in Venice Beach, CA, with great jobs, amazing friends, and more food and music than we knew what to do with, we felt it was important to explore this part of the world before a house or kids could tie us down. Some called us crazy, but most expressed their admiration for actually going through with the trip. And thank God we did, because it has forever changed our POV on the world. We had both previously studies in Europe and traveled extensively in other regions, but heading west to the Far East is so uncommon for Americans that it seemed like something much bigger, which it was if for no other reason than that not many others we knew could point out Kota Kinabalu on a map. Now we can, and we can tell you all about it.

The reason I tell this story is not only to reminisce about the trip, but to dissect how it affected our relationship with our friends, family, and the world.

We now live in Austin, TX, arriving here in the middle of the city’s vicious summer after having spent 3 months road tripping through the US to visit family and all things Americana. We love it here for so many reasons, most importantly the music, food, and tremendous quality of life. I’ve always wanted to live in a city where people smiled as they passed on the street, but I didn’t want that city to be a Norman Rockwellian, dated town that didn’t respect differences in others. Well, Austin is that amazing place, and it only got better over the last two weeks during SXSW.

The first 5 days of SX allowed us to meet, listen to, and interact with other digital marketers. We were amongst our people, which provides value not only for insights gained, but for getting your brain in the right place. In traditional agencies, this isn’t always so easy, so it’s amazing to have 5 days of dense comradery like we did last week.

The last 5 days of SX are all about the music, and let’s just say that two days after the conference ending, my feet, liver, and sleep cycle are still recovering. And it was well worth it. Finding new bands, seeing old bands in new places, and dancing next to a limitless amount of music lovers is an invaluable experience that can only happen here in Austin every March.

Any way, what our trip and SXSW have to do with the way we see the world is that even though my wife and I were in much less communicado over in Asia than we would be back in the US, we sit here a year later not really having missed a beat with our friends, family, and work, because in the end, there are core traits that we all share together that can’t be lost in 5 months. Regarding family and friends, it goes back to the old saying: “Even though you haven’t seen someone you care about in a long time, it feels like no time has passed at all when you reconnect.” We have all experienced that on both ends, therefore it is easy to understand. Work, not so much…

The primary reason I’m in digital marketing is that at its core, it is about building a relationship between companies and consumers. It’s about pulling consumers in with our marketing, not pushing messages on them, and doing this will always be about making emotional connections with consumers. Making emotional connections is a singular objective that is made easier and done so differently based on the technology available to us. Our job is to familiarize ourselves with cutting edge and stabilized technologies and translating that knowledge into insightful strategies and tactics for our clients. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. Anything more than that is just a smoke screen, and we need to be confident enough to see through the smoke into the core issues at hand.

Taco Bell’s Social Response

Okay, so the Taco Bell lawsuit I’m about to discuss doesn’t pertain to this image, but a picture of a car hanging out of a Taco Bell is much more visually appealing than a picture of Taco Bell meat. You’re welcome.

Now about the lawsuit…

Taco Bell was recently sued because they were blamed for not having their meet FDA standards. Believing in the quality of their product, Taco Bell took the offensive and immediately went on their own PR tour to quell the story and to get their version of the story ingrained in consumers’ minds. They succeeded, primarily due to the fact that they have such a solid social media presence.

Mashable did a great piece about how Taco Bell’s strong social presence helped it avoid a huge PR emergency. From being the first to tell their side of the story, to strategically purchasing search ads, to having a willing audience to hear your story, Taco Bell showed that establishing a sound base on all key channels will not only provide invaluable and innumerable chances to engage consumers, it will play a key role in crisis management. Real time channels are not a fad, they should be a key element in any company’s media mix.

Jen Anistion is here to save the day with a viral viral video

This one is an easy sell with me. I’ve been in love with Jennifer Aniston since high school, and the facts that we share a birthday and that she’s gotten hotter with each passing year don’t hurt my chances of thinking her video for Smart Water isn’t the most brilliant viral ploy of 2011 so far.

Yes, making a viral video about making fun of viral videos is an obvious play, that is for us digital marketing folks. Yet for the general public, who isn’t as close to the viral spectrum, this video consolidates one-off videos they’ve seen into one cohesive thought, which the public likely hasn’t pieced together on their own. So for that reason, its simplicity isn’t likely to be too simple for the target audience.

And, it’s Jen Aniston looking hotter than ever for 3 minutes of dedicated time. How can that not succeed? It’s sure as hell a lot better than watching her do her one-dimensional for 2 hours on the screen. Even I can’t stand that crap any more.

New Target Campaign

The new Target campaign is brilliant! It’s funny, off-the-cuff, and specific to certain products. And they focused their media on the Grammys instead of the Super Bowl, which is turning out to be a superior show. Well done!  (click on the logo to see their YouTube channel)