Why Telemarketers are the Worst Brand Storytellers

There’s a certain feeling I get, and I’m sure we all get, when I answer the telephone and am greeted by a telemarketer. There are a few feelings, actually. Sort of like the five stages of grief.

First, I feel a bit foolish, as if I’d been tricked into picking up the phone. This is especially true when it’s a number I don’t recognize yet I answer anyway on the off chance that it’s an emergency. From there I get impatient. I have no idea how long this person wants to keep me on the phone and I immediately start thinking about all the other things I have to do instead of listen to their sales pitch. Surprisingly, I then feel empathetic, since I too am a marketer (albeit one with a very different approach to sales) and wouldn’t want someone hanging up on me while I’m just doing my job. It isn’t long before I become angry, having been interrupted by an unwelcomed marketer of a product I surely don’t need. If they won’t let me get a word in edgewise, after trying to politely say “Thanks but no thanks” I will hang up.

That’s one end of the spectrum—the absolute worst way to be sold a product or service.


Why Instagram Isn’t a Vine Killer

Make no mistake about it. The launch of Instagram Video (wholly owned by Facebook) is a shot across, if not directly into, the bow of Vine’s ship (wholly owned by Twitter). Instagram’s already established community of 130MM members has given Instagram a major jumping off point for its video feature, which is built into the popular photo-sharing app.

But Vine isn’t dead, and Instagram will not be a Vine killer. In fact, I think Vine offers brands something unique enough that it can thrive alongside Instagram video. 

More after the jump.


What Billions of Cicadas Taught Me About Storytelling

The cicadas are coming. Billions of buzzing (relatively harmless) insects will descend upon the eastern United States from Georgia to New England in the coming weeks.

If you’re not familiar with them, cicadas are a unique species. For most of their lives, cicadas live underground as nymphs, digging and feeding on roots. After 17 years underground, in the last few months of their lives, they emerge by the billions, seeking high ground (mostly in trees) on which to shed their exoskeletons and emerge as beautiful winged insects. They mate, the females give birth to new nymphs deep within tree branches, and then they die. While their life cycle is unique, cicadas are most commonly known for their mating song, which is sung by the males and is among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds.

Most people are dreading their arrival. Imagine a fly: Now significantly multiply its size and sound and you’ve got a cicada. Oh, and imagine not one single cicada but billions. Plus, when their life cycle is complete, their carcasses will litter the ground. Are you excited yet? I’m going to ask my wife if she’s excited and will check back with you in a minute. Spoiler alert: She’s not excited.

Until recently I shared her sentiments. That is, until a short film by Samuel Orr about cicadas completely changed my perspective, and taught me a lesson about storytelling in the process.


Not Everyone is a Storyteller

Lately, everyone in advertising has become a “storyteller” specializing in "engaging content." 

This isn’t true, of course. But I understand why everyone’s making the claim: Digital is the only part of advertising that’s growing rapidly; social media is the red-hot center of digital; to make social work, you need conversation-starting (and sustaining) content.


6 TV Ads That Will Grip You With Their Story

Television advertising has traditionally been seen as an interruptive yet creative means of exposing audiences to a brand. There’s no denying the massive audience that television commands, not only in the United States and the UK but around the world, but it’s been said that audiences hate advertisements so much that they created technologies for avoiding them.

Many households have “pulled the plug” on television altogether, opting for on-demand television viewing with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Roku, HBOGo and many more alternative services. Add to that the Nielsen Global Survey revealing the decline in consumer trust of ads on television (from 62 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in 2012) and one would have to wonder how television advertising can or will stay relevant in the post-advertising age.

The answer? Storytelling.


When Promoted Hashtags Are Campaign Killers

This post originally appeared in our April ’13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

No matter how lofty a brand’s goals are when it uses hashtags, there are always individuals ready to use them to drag it into the gutter.

McDonald’s is on its second go-round with promoted hashtags gone awry, this time with #UnwrapWhatsFresh. The hashtag was created to support McDonald’s new Premium McWrap, which features chicken (grilled or crispy) and fresh vegetables served in a warm tortilla. 

The hashtag was promoted on Twitter, but instead of talking about healthy eating, a number of people were tweeting these sweet nothings:


What Craft Beer Can Teach Your Brand About Storytelling

Why are craft beer companies so great at telling their stories? Simple: because these scrappy upstarts actually have stories to tell—often they were built from the ground up on the basis of those stories. Companies like Stone Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Company that started small but have grown successful haven’t forgotten the reasons they began in the first place—and it shows.

But now Big Beer is out to eat their lunch: Anheuser Busch InBev, SABMiller and other companies believe they can fool distinguished suds sippers into drinking imitation craft brands by enticing them with brand stories that ignore the companies’ true origins. Will it work? Time will tell, but there's already a great divide between the authentic and inauthentic brands. 


Baking Brand Storytelling Into Your Lunch

Any restaurant is rich in stories, from the founding of the establishment to the experiences of its patrons. Because of that, the restaurant business is an interesting venue for content marketing, social media and brand storytelling. 

I like to think that the best part about going out to eat, particularly with friends, isn’t the food (though don’t get me wrong; I adore food). It’s the stories we share and the stories we create. It’s like the times spent with my wife reviewing our plate of nachos in hopes that someday we’ll cull all those reviews into a blog just about nachos (though that’s a whole other story). It’s the times spent with friends catching up and reminiscing about old times.

Restaurants have a unique opportunity to tap into brand storytelling, and there’s a restaurant in the U.K. doing just that. 


Breaking Down the Viral HRC Marriage Equality Campaign

Unless you gave up Facebook for Lent, I’m sure that last week you saw a number of your Facebook friends’ profile photos (and possibly your own) change to a pink square with an equal sign in support of marriage equality.

The grassroots movement, initiated by the Human Rights Campaign on March 25, spread virally throughout the week, filling users’ news feeds with a sea of red and pink (and other various one-offs). The campaign was timed to coincide with the oral arguments in the Supreme Court over Proposition 8, California’s gay-marriage ban, and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.

We’re big fans of viral content here at PostAd, because more often than not it stems from having created content so funny, entertaining or useful that it had to be shared. Facebook did us a favor by investigating the campaign’s data trends, helping us all dive deeper into the HRC’s success.

So why exactly did the photo meme spread so quickly? Will this have an effect, or is it more social activism (or slacktivism)? What role did brands play, and was their participation genuine? More after the jump.


Disney All-In on Content Marketing With “Oh My Disney”

This post originally appeared in our March ’13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

Though it was founded in 2006 (which makes it older than Twitter), BuzzFeed stormed onto the social media scene in 2012, more than doubling its 2011 traffic (per Alexa).  

The format is perfect for the way audiences consume and share media today. The content is easy to consume, relevant, entertaining and frequent, as the site posts dozens of times a day. Brands like HBO and Velveeta have even joined in, co-creating content with BuzzFeed. It’s a publishing model that requires lots of staffers and community contributors to keep the content fire hose pumping.  

So it was quite a surprise to see that Disney has launched its own BuzzFeed-like site. Entitled “Oh My Disney” (OMD), the site features articles with Disney imagery, GIFs and other short-form Disney-related editorial built specifically to be easily consumed, enjoyed and quickly shared. Posts like “15 More Reminders That You’re Great Today” and “You Know You're a 90's Kid When” are organized into five categories: Awww; Oh, Snap!; Retro; Silly; and Whoa. 

The page is updated quite consistently, anywhere from two to eight times a day (even if the content isn’t necessarily timely). So how is Disney doing it?