Posts tagged ben malki

What Makes a Video Viral?

Brands using social channels typically have one idea in mind when making a video for the Millenials—how do we make this go viral? How do we get these kids to forward our video onto their idiot friends?   Sadly there is no correct answer—why something brand sponsored gets passed on millions of times…or doesn’t….has shown no blueprint, no proven formula, no…special sauce? 

One theory is to make it as random as possible— Coming off the heels of what many regard as the best social/video integrated campaign ever—yes, the Old Spice guy— the quality that many viral hits had in common seemed to be complete randomness. Visuals run amok,  ”bro” humor  and a touch of hipster love for the intentionally unintentional. 

Or this example: a bananas Burger King ad from Russia—I don’t speak a lick of russian (speciba?) but even if I did—don’t think it would help much with this one: 

Unicorns, diamond rings? burger turntables?  Exactly.  This was clearly a “let’s make a burger king version of the old spice ad” moment at the digital agency.  

But upon further inspection of what goes viral and what doesn’t—Randomness rarely seems to be the case in fact: 

Here’s another which has been on Ad Age’s Visible measures chart for a few weeks now-but goes in a completely different direction.  A more nuanced humor, with a story arc, and a lampooning of a major world figure:

Here’s what amounts to an all time viral classic, in fact as of August Ad Age rated it as the greatest viral campaign of all time—the “Will it Blend” campaign by Blendtec—a campaign series that put this Blender maker on the map—and features a very straight forward premise—will its blender blend whatever ridiculous object the host (and owner of the company) puts in there? 

And lastly, this brilliant video from Carlsberg: 

While it doesn’t help my original hypothesis that Random was the key to viral—there is one thing that all of these videos have in common—they’re entertaining as all hell. Each of these videos finds a unique way to present the spirit of their product in unusual and clever ways.  And it makes sense—well, except for the Russian Burger King ad really.  For brands always in search of a formula for success in order to snag some nice conversion ratios and justify their budget to top management—this proves quite vexing.  Unfortunately though the only truly random quotient in making a video viral is whether it will work or not.  

—By Ben Malki 

Random Ad Machine: Top 10 Viral Video Ads

Today the Random Ad Machine takes us somewhere…well…quantified. So not so random.  Anyway, the good people over at visible measures present the top 10 Viral video ads of the moment.

What we have here is a fantastic collection of high production value-planned randomness that makes viral such a *thing*. Including an obvious Lady Gaga appearance, and a (maybe more obvious?) Steve Jobs tribute.

What’s not so obvious is what checks in at #2—-the universally panned J-Lo Fiat fiasco commercial. People just love her I guess—maybe cuz she’s from the block. Unlike that car, which sucks. Also, surprising, and despite my snide article, rant, post last week, Blackberry even makes an appearance—though they totally stole this commercial idea from Fedex Kinko’s. I mean, CMON people.

Anyway, happy friday everyone, enjoy you some viral video time.

—Ben Malki

Bye Bye Blackberry

After years of being chained in the basement of mobile technology, I finally cast aside my Blackberry for a new Droid/electronic man crush.   And by no means am I alone.  What seems like everyone you know with a Blackberry, has either ditched it recently, or is planning to, usually saying something like “sure BBM is great but…”. 


As the chart above shows, RIM has been in a nosedive since 2008.  The one time Market leader has consistently failed to keep up with new technologies and mobile trends, essentially becoming the Blockbuster video of the mobile industry.  

While their constant failure to evolve their product line, or really just produce anything better than BBM is the real reason behind their slow crawl into oblivion, it was their inability to cobble together a coherent brand strategy that helped their descent. 

As we’ve talked about ad nasueum in this space, any communication piece must:

·         Represent brand identity

·         Be consistent with everything else you produce

·         Communicate something of value about your product to your consumer

·         Be disruptive

Here’s what they did instead:



(yea, that’s great, don’t even show the phone)

And then there’s this


A product best known for work exchange servers, corporate email, and a physical keyboard decided to cast itself as a fun, feature rich phone for teenagers who breakdance.  Not only an obvious branding consistency issue, but a—we don’t actually understand the strategic competencies of our phone-issue. I guess its not entirely fair, since there is something consistent about Blackberry’s ads: nicely produced, feature absent spots filled with empty, forgettable catch phrases…. So that’s something.  

At the end of the day, Blackberry’s inferior product is the reason for their coming demise—but if they were hoping that their marketing would keep them afloat, they should think again.

—Ben Malki


Don’t Tear Down That Wall Gorby!

I was hell bent  on writing a negative review of the Times new pay wall.  I was wrong. 

 As it turns out, the pay wall could be the key for some papers’ survival, in BOTH print and online media.  Now pay walls have been tried by over and over, and usually, well, unsuccessfully.  But wanna know who has the largest overall paid circulation in the United States?  The wall street journal. 10th? Dallas Morning News—and both have online Pay walls (NYT is third—but the pay wall went up after the rankings). 

 But how can a news source with a highly restrictive, all or nothing pay wall occupy the top spot? The key is specialized content and The WSJ  has content that you just can’t find anywhere else, and I don’t mean financial news.  The Journal has exclusive content, opeds, features, etc.. that many readers (2.1 million to be exact) have placed a premium on.   That information can’t be found anywhere else, even finding reprinted WSJ article on google is difficult.

But its not just nationally known, high end financial news that can benefit from an online pay wall.  Yep, tiny, little known papers liken the Concord Monitor from New England, a small  newspaper that writes about local issues have also done extremely well, with visitor counts rising after their paywall went up in May.  What’s the link between the two?  Specialized content! Just like value is placed on editorials and opinions produced by the WSJ staff, customers (one can assume in Concord) want local news and information—and since no else is producing it, they can clearly identify a value proposition which they will purchase.  In the end, customers will pay for content that they want, just as long as it’s not available anywhere else.  USA today for instance would not be able to wall of their content, since all they produce is  generalized content that isn’t’ exactly premium, and more importantly  you can find it anywhere else with a simple Google search.  Though, fine, we do like those graphs a bunch (don’t tell anyone).   Actually, has anyone ever seen the USA today outside of mid-level hotel chains and airports?  

So what about the newest, and most high profile media pay wall?  While the times certainly has a lot of exclusive content, it also reaps the majority of their traffic and circulation from general news.  Additionally they also tried and failed to institute a pay wall in the past with Times select.  I think a few factors are at play here that make it possible for their new approach to work.  For one Consumers are much more likely to pay for online content now, then they were even a few years ago (a bit more on this later), and the Times adopted a metered pay wall that embraces the casual user while converting their heavy users into paid customers. But there’s something else at play here—the metered approach, protects not only their online content, but their offline content as well.  

Yes yes, the internet killed the print newspaper—but it was the fact that the same print content could be found online for free, that reloaded the gun and pointed it at its own foot (would love to have this analogy back).  Instead of opening up two paid delivery channels for their customers, newspapers  asked them to pay for an outdated version of the content they could access more easily online.  Many people who prefer the actual paper (which I will NEVER understand) could no longer justify spending hundreds of dollars on something they could access for free at their computers, or their phones, etc.. anytime they so desired.  As a content delivery system online was superior, and the superior version was free!  As a result, print subscribers canceled their home delivery in droves in order to save money, even those who preferred print..and research backs this up:

A USC-Annenberg study this spring (the Annual Internet Survey by the Center for the Digital Future) reported 22 percent of survey respondents said they stopped their subscription to a printed newspaper or magazine because they could access the same content while online.

And it goes even further.  Forget about revenue just from subscriptions, Print subscribers are still very valuable from an advertising revenue standpoint.  So install a pay wall, and slow the death of your print, while monetizing online visitors.  And ever since the NYT installed their pay wall?  Yes, traffic is down but circulation revenues are up.  The clearly found a way to activate their loyal customers, and make money off them like a good business should. 

When you step back and think about the overall concept of an online pay wall, the concept becomes almost insultingly basic marketing, or even just business principle.   Business creates products which customer’s value and purchase.  Fair enough, but for years this wasn’t followed in the online media world.   And  it makes sense why this has been such a difficult proposition for media companies to perfect, and it comes down to consumer behavior.  We expect (or have expected) the internet to give us what we want immediately and for free—-and the concept of paying for anything was almost insulting.  Unlike offline, where consumer behavior is conditioned to purchasing content.  But because the internet has been our source of free stuff for many years, only now are we starting to see a significant shift in our attitude towards purchasing content online. 

And with that shift in consumer behavior, publishers are becoming savvier and beginning to not only understand the value of their content, but also how to profit from it. 

—By Ben Malki  

100 Awesome Marketing Graphs

So we’re back!  Kinda….we had a post all lined up in drafts, and now its not there, and we’re at work—-so we’ll just “borrow” from someone else’s efforts here.  Stay tuned for a post on digital marketing on Wed. but for now start your monday morning off right with some fun graphs.  

100 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts and Graphs View more presentations from HubSpot Internet Marketing

Random Ad Machine: Oh, its Football time.

The Random Ad Machine keeps us in the world of sports, and today we’re honoring the oh-so-American of sports, Football. Having survived the lockout, and primed for the start of what promises to be a great regular season, for many teams other than my beloved Bears that is, the glory of Football Sunday’s will forever be king—we think, in truth we don’t always remember everything that happened…uh…let’s move on.  So below are some YBIS approved funny NFL ads.  

AND If you didn’t see Caroline’s fantastic baseball post from last week, click here, and watch out for Beickler’s Soccer post this Friday.

ok…this next one is cheating…its actually an SNL skit, but this is a blog, so there are no rules. NO RULES. Happy Wednesday everyone! —Ben Malki

Friday Quick Thoughts: Abercrombie keeps Jersey trash at bay

Last week Abercrombie and Fitch created some buzz when they put out a press release imploring Jersey Shores’s Mike "The Situation" (ugh) Sorrentino to not wear their clothes anymore, even offering him and other members of the fall of civilization cast, money not to wear their product.  Why you ask? well they think that he is damaging the “aspirational nature of the brand” and that many of their consumers might find this “distressing”.  

Ok fair enough, Mr. Sorentino and the rest of his staten island trash friends are horrifying in every way, and could most definitely provide a negative association for many brands out there.   A&F whose (according to this presentation I found on the internets) demographic—-(they say 18-24, we say 15-24) most certainly watches Jersey Shore. They therefore do not fit the profile of a high scale brand skewing towards an older demographic whose sales would be impacted negatively by Monsieur Sorentino.  So why do it? Well, one idea floated by Foxnews (of all the blogs in all the web…) is that they’re trying to distract from a dissapointing quarterly earnings report.  In the end, its a meaningless, cheeky stunt which we’ll all forget about in a few months.  However, it got me thinking…what are some bad brand associations that comapnies would like to take back? Let’s take a look.

How about OJ simpson and hertz? How about OJ simpson using the word “execute” while in a Hertz Commercial:

Wait, this might work out for them…

Oh, Fred…

Happy Friday Everyone!

—Ben Malkoi

Random Ad Machine: A look back at the 1998 NBA Lockout

It’s been a slow week for us here at YBIS, so instead of contributing an original post, we’re just going to use someone else’s work.  For a bit of background the NBA is in lockout mode, and unlike the NFL, its highly doubtful we’ll have basketball again anytime soon.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some amazing ads that aired during the last league shutdown in 1998 with this post from Dime Magazine.   

Click here  to got the article for ads like the one below and a few others.  Trust me, its worth it.  

And for a bonus, here’s this somewhat funny clip from this year’s espy’s essentially ripping off the same idea:

Happy Friday everyone! —Ben Malki

Random Ad Machine—Beer on the brain.

The random ad machine is back!  and today its got beer on the brain (don’t we all?).  So without further ado, here are some of our favorite beer commercials.  

                     ok…no a beer commercial, but still damn funny.                     

Happy Friday Everyone! —By Ben Malki

What Happened To Bud Light Wheat?

Bud Light and Wheat (beer) an uncomfortable marriage of two very different brand promises seems to have “fade(d) into Bolivian” (as Iron Mike would say), and all but disappeared from our bodega’s, commercials, and national consciousness for good.   Doomed from the start as a cheap attempt by Inbev to introduce a wheat beer on the national stage,  this strange combination violated the very basic branding principles of understanding your brands and consumers, and  a result was not long for this world.  

Let’s start by taking a look at the two different components of Bud Light and Wheat.  Wheat beer is about the flavor of the beer, and serious business back in Bavaria, a.k.a not a keg beer.  Bud light is the easy/cheap/house party/dive bar beer, the one you don’t think about.  I mean…

….am I right? 

But Bud light saw a problem, and that problem was Coors’ Blue Moon.  The one wheat beer that was able to truly arrive on the mass market scene.   Miller Coors saw an opportunity to be a first mover in the mass wheat beer market, but was smart enough to not confuse their (very gullible) Coors Light (or Coors) consumers with a  diametrically opposed taste offering under the stalwart Coors banner.  In fact, Coors goes as far as brewing Blue Moon under the “Blue Moon Brewing Company” label, ensuring that no brand seepage happens between the two offerings.  But Bud light went in a completely different direction, and it spelled trouble from the beginning.  Watch the ad progression:

Product Intro:

Then the “uh oh…we should probably explain what this is…” commercial:

Then the, alright, that didn’t work let’s completely reverse course here ad (a.k.a one last gasp…)

And then nothing.  After a huge media push, Inbev gave up…want proof?  Check out this hilarious product “website”.  Way to not even pretend to care, Inbev.   Compare to this to Bud Light Lime’s homepage here (how anyone drinks this stuff Is beyond me, but clearly its working). 

From the start if Anheuser/Inbev were so intent on making an immediate impact on the mass market with a wheat beer offering to go against Blue Moon, they should have traded off the little used Aneheuser Bush label, there for the taking.   Instead Anehuser decided to withdraw from the bud light brand equity bank, using its maxed out brand penetration rates to become a market player quickly and easily.  Almost like a brand get-rich-quick scheme. 

Despite its failure with Bud Light Wheat there’s a new Anheuser wheat beer crush…my favorite beer as it happens,  Chicago’s own Goose Island 312, which they recently bought and are planning to launch nationally, even trademarking area codes around the country as part of their upcoming push (312 is Chicago’s area code).  Hey, if anyone could screw this up, why not Inbev?

The moral of the story is, as always, understand your brand, and only make extensions that fit within the scope of the product’s brand promise.  Bud Light=fun time (here we go!) therefore bud light lime (though awful) is a slight taste variation on the established product, and is an easy concept for bud drinkers as demonstrated with this equation: Bud Light Drinkers=probably familiar with corona.   Bud light Wheat on the other hand was such a derivation from the original product that A) confused consumers, and B) just didn’t fit in the brand’s personality.   All we can hope for is that they don’t screw up my beloved Goose Island 312—-Here we go!—-I guess (oy).  

—by Ben malki 

Bagels & Brats: Porsche the New School Bus?

  -The Bagel present by Ben Malki

Admit it, you’ve dreamed of one day careening down some scenic, lawless European highway hugging turns and screaming down the straightaway in your Porsche, pushing the speedometer as fast as it can go.  Porsche and Fast, go hand in hand much like Porsche and Luxury.  But their new, “Engineered for magic, everyday” campaign, the German car maker puts their drivers in such sexy scenarios as shoveling their high precision machine free from many feet of snow, putting fertilizer in the trunk, leaving work, and picking up your kids from school.  Pardon me Porsche, but our fast driving dream does not include sod, ok?


To try and get into the head of the campaign lets look at that tagline again.

“Engineered for magic, everyday”.  

Engineered for magic calls up the traditional brand promise of Porsche: fast, luxurious, a magical experience that goes far beyond traveling from point A to point B.  The second part of the tagline ”Everyday”  …I’d say hint, but hint is too weak, lets go with tries to hammer— the idea of Porsche as your main source of transportation.  A radical departure from their traditional brand identity.   I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Porsche is not the car that you commute in, it’s the car you take on the weekends, or say whenever you’re in Monaco.  Even worse, this is not a new model geared towards everyday use as say a Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, rather it’s the Porsche 911 traditionally (and correctly) marketed as a performance car, not say, a school bus. 

And who is Porsche marketing to here?  Let’s take a look at the last in that string of commercials.  A clear grab at the soccer mom market, picking up her two kids from school.  The soccer mom, she of the middle/upper middle class, an SUV enthusiast, a woman who needs to ferry many children (not just her own) to and from their children’s games and other activities.  Even if we take the easy problems off the shelf like space, there are two main issues here.  MPG, and price tag.  Even as the US (slowly) recovers from this recession, more than ever marketers have to be sensitive to the national mood on gas prices and household income. With gas prices high, and household incomes low, the 21 mpg performance and starting price of $77,000 doesn’t exactly scream EVERYDAY CAR!  Rather it screams Tone Deaf! on behalf of Porsche’s marketing brain trust. 

This is not to suggest marketing luxury products in a recession is discouraged.  Luxury marketers have to market to a luxury demographic (crazy idea, i know), and not pretend their something they’re not.  Therein lies the major issue with this new campaign.  Porsche, you are not an everyday car, you are a sports car, you are a luxury car, you are a middle age/life crisis car.  You are fast, fun, magical, not average, utilitarian and practical.  When we talk about marketing communications, consistency and remaining true to your brand, always, is the name of the game.  Creative comes and goes, but the message, voice, and essence of who you are as a product, as a company, must always be the same.  When brands stray from their essence they erode, and eventually so will sales.  You are not a school bus, Porsche. 

- Ben Malki

Friday Quick Thoughts: Why is our food always flying through the air?

Many times here at YBIS we like to offer somewhat educated opinions on what’s going on in ads, and why.  But when it comes to food commercials, we’re stumped, and the answers this time are literally, up in the air.  No, seriously…why is food always flying through the air?  Does this make the food more appealing to people?  Does this help us visualize something about the product that I’m not getting?  Also, can someone explain why when there are various “herbs” or “spices” or “flavorings”  being hurled at the food in the opposite direction? Completely perplexing. And even when the food isn’t shooting across the screen?  its almost always in movement.  Can someone explain? 


Do you have an explanation, or have another catapulting food commercial you’d like to share with us?  Please do!  Click here to tell us what you think on our facebook page.  

Happy Friday everyone. 

—By Ben Malki 

Random Ad Machine: What Were the Best Ads in S. Africa in 2009?

Really glad you asked, and due to laptops dying, and job interviews pending, YBIS will be a quck one today.  Therefore, here’s a link to the best ads from South Africa in 2009.  All great stuff here, particularly these two:

This incredible VW Jetta ad:

Cafe Owners Vs. Mama’s, because no one brings a country together like..(gulp) BP:  

For the rest of the ads, click here.  

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here’s hoping you don’t get the blue screen of laptop death like I did last night.

—By Ben Malki