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The Art of Michael Bedard

International ShippingA Test of Bacterial Survival and Sterilization TechniquesSofia VergaraSurvival of the fittest Speech: Brand Building on the Internet - December 11th 1997 I have been asked to talk with you about the differences between advertising companies and new media agencies. You've been hearing all day about what can be achieved, and to some small extent, how to achieve it. Now you need to be sure that we have the right company doing it. I am of course biased - I'm a director of a specialist new media agency and a specialist on-line communication company. I've got to say that I passionately believe that only specialists can directly provide success on-line for brands, and I think I've written about it several times in the past. In fact, when I thought about it for this afternoon, I've been fighting the corner of the new media independent for a few years now. So to be asked to marshall my arguments sounded like a good opportunity to share with you what I know about today's subject: Survival of the Fittest. And I want to show you how the success of your brand on the internet depends not on your ad company's brand expertise, but on exploiting certain important facts of life. The internet is being presented to us as a culture. Cultures are the product of evolution. We need to start at the beginning. To many of you, and to many of us speaking today, the marketing opportunity that is the internet, or the world wide web, has happened to you, and probably fairly recently. The internet, however, has been here for a while, thirty-odd years, living its own primordeal life. It has developed its own organisms, languages. Primitive cultures have grown up out of the digital soup, evolving. So while it's just happened to most of us, while we have just discovered this new culture, and while we tentatively begin to explore it, it has evolved a few idiosyncrasies of its own. So instead of being able to relax, and follow established procedures, the formulas for success that are tried and trusted, the advertising and marketing community in this country is suddenly having to face up to something brand new: having to relate to a foreign culture, product of evolution independent of our own regulated and familiar marketing environment. We don't really have much experience of foreign cultures. Some of us have been lucky enough to immerse ourselves in another land for a while. Most of us have found that we find a common ground quite quickly, and in business we all use capitalism and commercialism as our common ground. As well as web sites, my own company Head New Media designs business-to-business multimedia and interactive television in eleven languages and for cultures as seemingly diverse as Korean and Finnish - and our common ground is commercial principle, the results measured in revenue. Cash. Not so with the internet. On approaching the internet from your brand's point of view, from the commercial point of view, you don't have that common ground to stand on. For the stark truth is: unlike the worlds of multimedia and interactive television, the internet culture does not turn up on our desktops pre-loaded with capitalism. Its evolution has steadfastly NOT developed a need for commercialism. It is just not available as a nice, safe, straightforward common ground. No amount of capitalist rationale will help. No established procedures exist to guide your way. No traditional expertise gained in persuading buyers to buy the product you sell will give you success in a culture where free exchange is fiercely defended. So here we have our grand debate. Us specialist new media agencies, or the advertising companies. In effect, my company Head New Media, or Jane Ostler's Ogilvy and Mather. I think I should concentrate for a moment on my headline, as it were. Survival of the Fittest. As the internet and its peculiar culture have evolved, so have the people involved with it. A few of us who have grown up hearing of virtual worlds have also seen opportunity. We've worked hard over years to learn how to be creative with the raw medium. And we have brought this with us as we've sought out ways of communicating our knowledge to the communications establishment. I think it would be fair to say that the reason some of us are so passionate about the possibilities for communication is that we are ourselves immersed in the internet's communication culture. We have also seen the approach of commerce, corporations sniffing around the edges, tantalised by the possibilities. Money has suddenly blundered its way on-line. And we have, using our knowledge of our culture and our ability to manipulate the medium, seen our opportunity to further our passion through capitalisation. All of the specialist new media agencies you see are run by entrepreneurs. As a breed, as an evolving part of the internet culture, we have individually either survived or not survived. As to the ad companies, they too are opportunists. They have seen that there is gold in them thar hills, and that they have an advantage when pitching for business - an existing relationship in another discipline with their clients. But remember, please, that the ad company can only approach the on-line culture. It isn't part of it. The ad company brings the client with him to the internet, approaching with an understanding of the brand's relationship to television or posters that is second to none. In fact, that's not quite fair. The advertising company can provide a trans-media approach, but only when they have real-world experience of creating on-line brands, as opposed to just leveraging brands in traditional media. I hope you can see what I am getting at. At no point with your advertising company does the internet come to you. At no point is it ever, when a project is produced in-house by an advertising specialist, less than a compromise approach. As some of you are aware, my creative director Jason Holland and I were responsible for creating Snickers MegaBite. This site was entrusted to us by Mars, in partnership with their ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers. The ad agency took the responsibilty of researching the leading ten specialist agencies, and guided the cient through the process of introducing their marketing department in this country to the idea of the new on-line brand, using the specialists to introduce new concepts. This proved to be the perfect project for the brand. AMV organised the various agencies involved: the new media strategy and design shop, the editorial agency, the PR company, the sponsorship agency. The advertising company chose who to trust. They did not choose to attempt the job themselves. A true partnership grew, and the site became the most successful commercial web site ever produced in Europe - for the year and a half that we were involved, the site created a true dialogue between visitors and brand. We, the specialist new media agency, used direct experience of our own extensive interaction with web sites to single out a solution that would work commercially. We created what WE wanted to have, as surfers and as sales experts. Clearly a fundamental understanding of marketing principles is required at our end - in the same way that it is, or should be required by a TV ad planner or production company. In the end, over 2000 people submitted match reviews to the site. Over 2000 film reviews were received. The brand achieved its goal, to position itself on-line as witty, irreverent, and street-cred. And all because everyone stuck to their own area of expertise - in fact, our contract was direct with the client. In fact, all of our contracts are direct with clients. As brand custodians, we were briefed on the global brand by AMV. We then were able to get a view of the brand from the client themselves, giving us a unique perspective on what would make the on-line brand creation excercise successful for the client. Our relationship with Mars has since flowered, we handle new media work for them on a worldwide basis, and there will be a major new launch early next year, all on our own, no advertising man getting confused. Through the new media specialist. Direct. What use a specific case study would be to you at this point I have no idea - every single client is completely different - so I won't get into the technical sell or the demographic detail raised by the relationship between Mars and the netizen. It won't apply to your brand, because every on-line relationship is unique - we're doing some work for Coopers & Lybrand on the web, and believe me there's nothing we can bring to the party from having got under the virtual wrapper of a chocolate bar. What we really can bring to brand communication on the internet is absolute surefootedness. So, back to survival of the fittest again, but this time it's once removed. We, that is successful specialist new media agencies, have done our learning curve, when we were doing it for our own pleasure. We still are building on-line relationships, to satisfy our curiosity about one aspect or another of on-line communication. A concrete example: I have a personal, non-commercial web site with Jason Holland and a few friends in the on-line creative community. It's got art, rants, designs, programming, satire, gorgeous imagery, internet news and so on. And it has taken off. We now find ourselves with a major on-line brand at number five in the UK top 50. It's called Head-Space. We love it - I spend a few hours a week creating new pages for it. And it is stunningly, but not amazingly, successful. Through carefully generated word of mouth we got fifty-two thousand page impressions last week. We do this on our own time. We've been doing this on our own time since before we started. And let me tell you that it has taught us a thing or two about developing a relationship between a web site brand and its audience. But we have not done it on your budget, or your time. We have done it on ours. You don't have to worry that your money is going on a grand experiment, something that is a gamble for both you and your ad company, or that your precious hard-won new internet budget is being wielded by specialist TV planners. It is important that your relationship with the internet is as direct as possible - we all know that when I say 52000 page calls, it does not mean 52000 hits. A necessity therefore is accurate, first-hand information, so that you can make decisions based on fact, not interpretation. As an added bonus, the new media specialist, well at least Head New Media, does its own research on a continuous basis. Our research activities became so interesting we spun off a specialist on-line research and web site launch company, Underwired. And we use our research, the volunteer panels and our mailing lists, to test new ideas. It means that we are constantly reminded that, as insiders, we are in the privileged position of truly understanding our medium. Earlier I spoke of the ad company approaching the internet hand in hand with your brand. A bit gingerly is my image. The agency struggles to apply your marketing strategy in the real world to the foreign, market-free world of the internet. We on the other hand create a palatable, attractive, profitable dialogue between our world and yours. The ad company uses soft soap, but we can actually sugar-coat the pill. Of course, we understand traditional brand marketing. We can talk easily in your terms about brand personalities, capital and loyalty. We have large amounts of relevant research gathered over years. We have learned the language of the procedures that you are most used to. Like the ad companies we can chuck in clusters, barbs and attitude. But where we excel is making the brand acceptable and relevant to the virtual foreigner, the cybercitizen, the netizen. We know best what will be easiest to swallow. In the case of Snickers MegaBite we created a web site that we wanted to use, that we wanted to have a relationship with, that we as internet users, as members of this particular culture, wanted to interact with. From concept to completion took two months. We already knew what the solution was when we started. All we had to do was enable that solution. MegaBite was one of the most successful sites ever produced commercially. We have two entries in this year's D&AD for it. We won the Marketing Design Award for best use of design for new media. We won the prestigious Internet Professional Publishers Association award, twice. But the best awards were not the ones we had to dress up to collect, but the hundred or so cool site of the day awards, the couple of thousand match reviews that were submitted by visitors, the four thousand demographic questionnaires that were filled in voluntarily. Because these were the things that showed that we had got it right for the internet culture, and almost as a corrollary, right for our client. Now I did say survival of the fittest. Some people haven't found the path to commercial success. Some specialists got it completely wrong. They screwed up on clients' money. Most likely they were sacked, and unless extremely lucky they went out of business. And of course then they entered the job market, and they probably work for some big ad agency now. So you need to be careful check out credentials. Ask for testimonials from other clients. The successful specialists can provide them. Our clients are happy to give them. What you need to remember out of all of this, if you are truly deciding between an advertising agency and a new media specialist, is the following: An ad company can only hold your brand's hand as you leap into the unknown. But, as an already successful part of the internet culture, the new media specialist is the only one qualified to create success for your on-line brand. Whatever you decide, good luck. You have an amazing opportunity. And one chance to get it right. Felix Velardecomments? . Plain English. New England. Success. Evolution. Targeting. Web BrandingUnderwired*Felix's home pageHead-Space 600 CanvasPop ArtType de produitsPoster-Affiche____________________Author: Michael BedardIllustrationPocahontas II: 0932212980 - Great Lakes Lighthouses - American and Canadian 16.95 eachCindy TaylorAnimation Nation Bulletin Board: Lion King on DVD: a WARNING, and something VERY bizarre!6. The Wickedness of the Awgwas, Page 2: Read The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, by Author L. 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