. . . Monday June 14, 2004

The Art of Advertising

Here’s the new deal for advertisers:

You need to be interesting. Want to interest younger viewers, increase brand value and move product? Then entertain us. Interest us. Wow us. Maybe then we’ll delay hitting the delete button or TiVoing past your wares.

We are entering the age of consumer-driven media. We decide what we want when we want it (which helps explain why we’ve been seeing a whole lot less of Tony Danza during primetime). You’ve got to give us quality entertainment (either that, or twins).

Nike has long been at the leading edge when it comes to creating ads that entertain, evidenced by the current Lance Armstrong pieces making their way into our living rooms. The creator of many of these Nike ad campaigns is Dan Wieden whose resume includes the phrase Just Do It. He calls such ads “branded content,” a blend of advertising and entertainment.

Interestingly, some of the biggest companies have been the most forward thinking when it comes to branded content. BMW made a splash a few years ago when they released a series a short films starring one of their cars. The line between product placement and straight up advertisements is beginning to blur. That’s bad news if you worry about marketing being everywhere. It’s good news if you’d rather not waste a third of your TV time either fast-forwarding, flipping channels or being dumbfoundedly bored.

Nike’s latest marketing move has been to commission several short films produced by independent filmmakers and all focused on the same general speed: The art of speed. The films are being pitched by the Gawker blog empire.

You can view the (sort of) blog and the movies here.

OK, let’s pause for a quiz:

Did I just link to an ad or to content?

I’m not sure myself.

So Nike is using the hippest media format to push films by independent artists. It’s content. It’s uses hip formats. It’s branded. And because its still relatively early in the careers of the artists and the art of blogging, Nike is likely to get an incredible bang for their buck.

But it’s about a lot more than that. Nike is preparing itself for a quickly coming age in which they will need to give something to get something. Companies like Nike will themselves offer clear representations of speed as long as so many other players are standing still.

Just in case anyone from Nike or their ad firm is reading this, I (on behalf of my cat Mister Winters) offer up this new and unique branded content campaign:

Concentration is important!