Posts tagged “hollywood”

To win, deliver relevance

HP recently ran a series of full-page newspaper ads for its TouchPad. The different ads trumpeted different aspects of the product. Here’s one:

This particular ad focuses on the movie-watching benefits. Unfortunately, they ad begins poorly: The all-new HP TouchPad with the HP MovieStore powered by RoxioNow(TM).

The classic tech marketing mistake: brand soup (with a base of presumed relevance). Who is Roxio? Yes, readers of this post probably know, but let’s agree that most people don’t, and those who did haven’t heard of them for 5 years. What the heck is RoxioNow(TM)? We can infer that HP has struck a deal for some ingredient technology. Wonderful. But they shouldn’t presume that adds credibility to their offering. In the same way “HP MovieStore” is not a known brand and isn’t exactly dripping with credibility. At least you can figure based on the name that it’s somewhat like that other Pad company’s SomethingStore.

But it gets worse. Here’s the promise

It’s Hollywood’s recently released big screen movies and current TV episodes on your HP TouchPad. Catch up on something you missed or get hooked on something new.

But in this ad, where they can show whatever they want to highlight the compelling benefits, what movies do they display?

The highlighted films: Knockout, 8 of Diamonds, Being Michael Madsen, 3 Backyards, 30 Years to Life, Baby on Board, Mistaken Identity, and Kalamity.

Okay, anyone? 3 Backyards is a very recently released indie film. IMDB tells me 30 Years to Life is from 2001. Where are the recently released Hollywood big screen movies (note: direct-to-video doesn’t count) that I can get from the HP MovieStore powered by RoxioNow(TM)?

Next time you are sitting in a meeting and someone brings up Apple and wonders how it is they are so darn innovative, remember this example. This is how their competitors behave. This is their advertising – where they actually promise a wonderful experience; what does this portend for the actual delivery of the experience in the product itself?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • In defense of inspired design: Deyan Sudjic and "The Language of Things: Understanding the World of Desirable Objects" – Tthe Clift Hotel in 2001 was reborn as an outpost of the globe-trotting cultural elite. The 1913 exterior still exudes staid pomp; inside it's a dark wonderland of affectation, with theatrically scaled furniture, thick silk drapes & techno rhythms in the background.

    The interiors are by Philippe Starck whom Sudjic describes as "constantly seeking to amuse the grown-ups with his daringly naughty tricks."

    The ambiance is profoundly different a few blocks away at Blue Bottle Cafe. Here, light streams through the bare windows of a 17-foot-high corner retail space. The stools are utilitarian, the walls dull white.

    Yet everything here is arranged as deliberately as at the Clift, including the coffee beans in grainy paper bags with the blend names stamped by hand. It's all very DIY – and you can grind the beans at home with the $700 grinder on sale a few feet away.

    "In objects we value the 'authentic,' the hand-pressed. It's often the same thing with cities," Sudjic said .

  • Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars 2009 – Many YouTube videos to explore here, but possibly one of the most inauthentic things ever. Taking beloved character archetypes out of their true context and into a tepid cheesy new context. Funny, or a betrayal, (or cool?) depending on where you come from. While the related video, Star Wars Weekends – Special Effects Edition (with real lightsabers!), evokes a real authenticity, even though it creates humor by mixing fantasy with reality, there's a underlying difference – love for the original versus exploitation of the original
  • The Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock – Another complex and rambling Errol Morris investigation into politics, authentication, media, photography, truth, fakery, and more
  • Les Sans Culottes: a French band from Brooklyn that isn’t really French – "Brooklyn’s Les Sans Culottes have taken the whole faux-French-band thing pretty far—the group’s live shows are superenergetic, fake-multicultural events. You might not learn anything about French culcha, but you’ll probably hop around like a lunatic."
  • Authentic Organizations — aligning identity, action and purpose – A blog that explores
    * What does it mean for an organization to be “authentic”?
    * Why does it matter that an organization be authentic?
    * Which organizations are being authentic, and what are they doing to pursue authenticity?
    * Which organizations are not being authentic, why, and what could they be doing to become more authentic?
    * What should an organization do to become more authentic, or to address a specific authenticity dilemma?
    * What can you and I do, as organization members, as managers, leaders, scholars or practitioners, as persons, to help organizations pursue authenticity?
  • When Consumers Search For Authenticity: In The Eye Of The Beholder? – "Consumer identity goals (or their idealized images of themselves) underpin assessments of whether a brand is authentic (genuine, real, and true) or not." The researchers identified three primary identity goals: a desire for control, connection, or virtue. "These goals reflect three respective societal norms: the need to be practical, to participate in community, and to be moral," the authors explain. "When seeking to achieve these different goals, consumers choose different brands. When consumers desire to be in control, they may view McDonalds as an inauthentic brand partner because fast food leads to increases in weight. Alternately, McDonald's may be viewed as a genuine partner when the same consumer is seeking to connect with others."
  • Creating Authentic Product Experiences: a teaser for this presentation – Authenticity is an increasingly crucial attribute for successful products and services, but understanding how to apply it is slippery. In this presentation, Steve presents a number of facets of authenticity, from product form and aesthetics, to the evolution of meaning over time, to personal interactions, and brands. While there is no magic answer to "what is authenticity?" the journey to answer that question is an essential one.
  • All This ChittahChattah (Kindle Edition) – Understanding culture, design, and business – For only $1.99 a month. Not available to customers in the US, for reasons I don't understand.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You? – "In 2002 J. P. Martin, a math-loving executive at Canadian Tire, decided to analyze almost every piece of information his company had collected from credit-card transactions the previous year. His data indicated, for instance, that people who bought cheap, generic automotive oil were much more likely to miss a credit-card payment than someone who got the expensive, name-brand stuff. People who bought carbon-monoxide monitors for their homes or those little felt pads that stop chair legs from scratching the floor almost never missed payments. Anyone who purchased a chrome-skull car accessory or a “Mega Thruster Exhaust System” was pretty likely to miss paying his bill eventually. Why were felt-pad buyers so "upstanding? Because they wanted to protect their belongings, be they hardwood floors or credit scores."

    The article goes on to describe how debt collectors build relationships with (rather than harass) debtors, who pay off more to the brands they have a relationship with.

  • We Are Now In The Age Of Nice – another Sunday NYT unsubstantiated trend-attempt – That amiable guys and uncomplicated sweethearts could be today’s pop heroes is one sign of an outbreak of niceness across the cultural landscape — an attitude bubbling up in commercials, movies and even, to a degree, the normally not-nice blogosphere.
  • Can supposedly-predictive quantitative market research techniques help Hollywood? – Still, is it smart to bring on pricey consultants when corporate overlords are demanding cost cuts? And what of the parade of failed attempts by consumer research firms to break into Hollywood? Few people in the industry can forget Tremor, the research firm that was owned by Procter & Gamble. It came to Hollywood in 2002, signed up with Creative Artists Agency and roped clients like DreamWorks — though its ideas often proved prohibitively expensive.

Park Your Media Property Here

frankenstein
Frankenstein Parking, Universal Studios Hollywood, February 2009

jurassicparking
Jurassic Parking, Universal Studios Hollywood, February 2009

legend
Parking Legend, Universal Studios Hollywood, February 2009

Universal leverages their brand properties in and around their theme park. “Jurassic Parking” is clever, but does Frankenstein really convey the right attributes for valet? I think there’s a real sense of fun here, but I wonder about devaluing the emotional resonance that these characters have.

Fading Kitsch

A few months ago we saw a very cool Hollywood used car lot, Kay Kars, featuring rather poorly executed (and dated) film icons as enthusiastic decoration.

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A mural along one wall featured Brando, Marilyn, Clint, and Arnold.

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A banner along the street showed some of the same classic stars, as well as Bugs and the Three Stooges.

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Meanwhile, an otherwise non-famous bunny encouraged potential shoppers to “Come On In”

A few months along, Kay Kars has either moved or closed down (the website describes their luxury car inventory; not likely the same business) and the empty lot is nothing but sad.
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Update: Here’s the scene in February 2009:
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Elmo busted

Full story
Mr. Incredible and Elmo said they were taken into custody at gunpoint and driven in handcuffs by police car to the front of the Kodak Theatre. There they claim they were paraded on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before shocked tourists and other boulevard impersonators.
“We were leaving to get something to eat. We had our heads off and were walking about a block away to our car when they pulled up,” said Barry Stockton, 42, who was dressed as Mr. Incredible, wearing a red superhero costume topped with a huge, cartoonish head.
Donn Harper, 45, said he complied, tossing his bug-eyed, furry red Elmo costume head to the ground. “They jumped out of their car with guns drawn. With all of the crime in Los Angeles they pick on us?”
Stockton, of Ontario (San Bernardino County), and Harper, of Los Angeles, were charged with misdemeanor aggressive begging along with the “Scream” character, Bill Stevens, 54, of Hollywood. Police said the three were among those who had been warned that authorities were preparing to respond to growing complaints from boulevard visitors and merchants about the Tinseltown impersonators.
Some tourists have contended that they were harassed for failing to pay the costumed characters for posing for photos with them in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the nearby Kodak Theatre. Some merchants have grumbled that the impersonators were scaring customers with menacing costumes, fake weapons and props such as phony snakes.
Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Shea said the impersonators — who make their own costumes or buy what they say are licensed suits on eBay — were summoned to a meeting last month at the Hollywood and Highland shopping center and warned that enforcement of solicitation and harassment laws was coming. Sixty-eight of them, many in costume, showed up.
Shea said Mr. Incredible and Elmo were brought back to the boulevard so others could see they had been busted. “Make no mistake about it — I wanted the characters to know what we’re doing,”

Six Feet Under or Over The Shark


What’s wrong with Six Feet Under? In May 2001, Tad Friend had a long article in The New Yorker (not that I can find online anywhere) about the impending premiere of this show. Alan Ball talked about all the typical TV-writing tropes and how they would stay away from them. I’m pretty sure he mentioned the example of an elderly black or Asian man projecting wisdom, and I’m sure there were others. The point of the writing, he stressed, was to move away from that, into something that was not television. That is the HBO slogan, isn’t it?

Now we watch this week’s episode. A separated wife hires a nanny, and emphasizes that she plans for her to carry in the bottles of water. The nanny arrives and instructed by the wife that the bottles are indeed too heavy for her, so if the nanny could please bring them in when they arrive. Naturally, the nanny doesn’t work out, but the estranged husband appears on the doorstep to drop off the kids, and he’s dutifully carrying the bottled water.

We’ve known these supporting characters for several seasons, through the ups and downs of their relationship (mental illness, meddling siblings, financial struggles, infidelity, lying, etc.) and this particular need – the bottled water – has never been mentioned. It was introduced in the episode purely so it could be wrapped up by the end of the episode. Indeed, the need that the bottled water symbolized was pretty much out of left field as well. Now this kind of lame trickery is exactly what Hollywood is good at. Tell you how to feel, set it up, deliver it. Bang, boom, payoff, done.

Hey, elsewhere in the episode a group of grieving/celebrating women chanted anti-men slogans, but then began to sing. One woman began to sing first, in a quavery and not-very-musical voice. But then others picked up the song, and it gathered strength, musically, as more women joined in, their voices joining together in a lovely and uplifting moment. The voices got better, the initially-quavery singer begins a call-and-response, the camera circles around their candle-lit and Womanly Faces as the song grows.

I think there’s nothing more Hollywood-in-the-past-10-years than that scene.

It seems that they created some founding principles, or a mission/values statement, but they chose not to stick to them. They might have done well to have read Built to Last, a now-classic management book that explains how other business efforts stayed successful, and if I recall, that values statement was part of the common thread.

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