I hate to admit it, but I had never heard of this comedian, Louis CK. This YouTube clip entitled “Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy” from Late Night with Conan O’Brien is hilarious. After you finishing laughing, think about the implications of his jokes: the psychological expectations that are becoming standard about the speed of interactions.
Archives for February 2009
Why would someone use television ads, billboards, and print to drive people to online and social media sites?
1) For the right audience, social media has lots of advantages, speed of dissemination, trust, interaction, expectations, collaboration, and emotional investment in user-generated content, engagement, curiosity, or
2) you are trying to look very hip and don’t care if it motivates action.
The ‘Hang in there Jack’ campaign is one very effective example. It successfully crosses from traditional media to the Internet (Hangintherejack.com) and social media applications such as Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter and invites a relationship with the user by encouraging user-generated content via different avenues: comments, videos, text messages, and snail mail get well cards. By doing this, it shifts the focus of the advertising message from the company (Jack in the Box, Inc.) to the user. Jack is now the vehicle for dissemination not the primary message. The hand-off from individual to individual via these various applications gives Jack’s storyline a sustainability and a patina of authenticity that could not happen with a direct ad campaign.
Demographically, this campaign will appeal most to users who are young or early adopters (Pew Internet Report : Use of Twitter is about 20% until you hit 34, then it starts dropping off steadily to 10% of 35 to 44 year olds and 5% of 45 to 54 year olds using Twitter. It’s down to 2% by the time you hit 65.) Over half the Internet population is under 44; although there is growth across all age groups. The interesting thing about these stats combined with the emphasis on the ‘Get Well Jack’ videos is that downloading videos is growing in popularity across all ages. And I’m quite confident that Jack made these marketing decisions knowing the demographics of his customer base.
Jack has created (and I hate to use this word) buzz by successfully integrating multiple media applications and platforms. There really is something for everyone in the mix. In the new media environment, integration is key and the envelope will continue to be pushed. I wonder, will we see a mobile Jack app beyond texting? Is there an integration between the physical sites to the web/social network sites, like streaming video where people in a Jack in the Box can send their message to Jack, or coupons sent to people who submit videos to the site? If there isn’t already, there should be.
Personally, I’d like to see Jack in the Box extend this campaign and direct their customers to send messages to real people in real hospitals who could use some emotional support and cheering up. That would create tangible social capital for their brand by converting playful enthusiasm into empathy and awareness of others.
Is there potential downside? Probably not. The questions I would have asked during planning are: Will the story play out in a way that meets the expectations of the fans? Will the narrative stay fresh or will people will get bored and move on? Can we continue to drive it into new applications and create new linkages? Is the story line a little morbid (especially in this economy)? Will it alienate people who don’t want to watch someone in a hospital bed? Or those digital immigrants who them feel out of it and irrelevant with new technology?
The sales numbers and interest level will be interesting to track. I will resist any urge to mention boxes in relation to thinking, but Jack has created a good case study here.
An Associated Press article in the Herald Dispatch article today says “Governor says Ohio schools need new focus.”
The news brief says:
Concepts such as problem solving, critical thinking, cultural awareness and media literacy would overtake memorization and pencil-and-paper tests in an educational overhaul trumpeted by Gov. Ted Strickland.
Strickland’s education aims in his two-year budget proposal would not only change how schools are funded, but also how students are taught. Ohio’s curriculum would be infused with so-called “21st Century Skills,” a buzz phrase in the education world whose framework has been implemented in 10 states and in individual schools across the country.
The goal is to move students away from the memorization and regurgitation of facts and instead require them to apply their knowledge in problem-solving situations, often with the use of technology.
American students have been performing poorly on problem-solving skills in comparison to students from many other industrialized countries. A growing body of research in cognitive psychology suggests that minds learn best when memorization of facts is blended with critical thinking exercises to use that knowledge, noted a recent report from the think tank Education Sector.
I’m not sure if the right response to this is “duh!” or perhaps from a more positive stance “FINALLY!” (Although does it trouble you that the reporter refers to this statement as being “trumpeted” by the Governor? Not exactly a vote of confidence there!)
One thing is clear, we have to get over being afraid of technology. If we put half the energy and resources that people current devote to finding the negative effects of media in developing ways to harness technology for education, we’d be a lot farther ahead. And more importantly, our kids would be developing the skill set they will need in a highly competitive, globalized world.
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In a brief Q&A (2/22/09) in USA Today Weekend by advice columnist Dennie Hughes, she quotes me saying it’s okay to indulge in celebrity gossip. I think most people tend to dismiss gossip as pretty shallow stuff, in spite of what we read at the dentist’s office. And that might be true, except for the fact that the essence of the gossip experience lies in both the shared experience and all the other information that is exchanged when we gossip about anything. That information is all about connecting with others, defining and sharing our own identity, and exploring our place in society. You can dissect personality, culture, good fortune, effort, connection, and human success and frailty, not to mention plumage, at a safe distance. Gossip provides the laboratory for investigation. Research from around the world shows that soap opera plots and characters successfully introduce subjects that are outside the boundaries of normal discourse or go against cultural norms in ways that can improve understanding, tolerance, and opportunity. Soap operas are just scripted gossip. Why not take advantage of the real thing?
We are awash in people arguing that media technologies have a detrimental influence on how we view the world based on various psychological theories (i.e. priming, framing, social learning theory and social modeling, social constructionism). But people, even kids believe it or not, are sentient, caring beings with the ability to act and think by their own volition. If we are truly worried that mass media images, behaviors, and celebrities have so much influence on our kids and cultural expectations, why not talk about them? What better way to engage your child or teen in a conversation about values, behavior and consequences than by discussing them? (*** Note to parents: discussing means you LISTEN not just talk***.) Simple questions can get you a long way into a discussion with your kids.
- What happened?
- Why do you think people do that?
- How do people handle stuff like that?
- What does it mean for their life now?
- What would you do?
- If the gossip is mean-spirited, talk about that too.
You might be shocked at what your kids will tell you if they think you are trying to hear them. At the very least, you are showing your kids you are trying to understand their world and their perspective. Not such a bad thing to do a little social modeling of an interested parent.