Rose-Colored Glasses for Chicago’s Hometown Hero

Derrick Rose is still sidelined with that nasty ACL tear, and he may continue to be for the next few months. But that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting about him until the time comes.

A few months ago, I posted about Adidas’ first D-Rose spot of the season. In that short from 180LA, Adidas began to thaw the city that froze when Rose went down in an ad that celebrated the city, its favorite team, and its hometown hero.

Since then, Rose has continued his ubiquitous placement on the minds of basketball fans everywhere. Forget the fact that he might be warming the bench through Christmas and beyond, Derrick Rose is staying nearly as top-of-mind as he was when he was on the court.

Obviously this is the case in Chicago, as the Bulls struggle to win games without him; but I’m talking about the national stage. While the TV commercials for Adidas’ D Rose collection shoe playing on TVs across the country, Rose is also prominently featured in the latest NBA 2K video game alongside fellow NBA stars Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.

And if you needed more reason to love him, Chicago, he just bought a stake in Giordano’s – and is being featured in the chain’s local spots.

Maybe I’m a little homesick, but this picture
seemed necessary.

My former internship bosses at IEG told Ad Age that Rose brought in about $18 million from endorsements this year, making him the third-highest endorsement earner in the NBA (trailing only LBJ and Kobe at $33M and $28M respectively).

Jim Andrews, in-house journalistic genius at IEG (also known as Senior V.P., Content Stategy), noted that #thereturn is remarkable, and not something that could be done with every athlete: “Injury is a sensitive area. Some [athletes] wouldn’t want to be seen in pain and struggling.”

With partnerships ranging from Wilson to Skullcandy to Powerade, Rose’s unassuming star power has positioned him well in the minds of consumers. According to the Marketing Arm, 37% of U.S. consumers are aware of Rose, and of those, 88% say they like him to some degree.

For the year ending in April 2012, Rose had the No. 1-selling jersey in the NBA, an unexpected feat when one considers stars like James and Bryant. And for the time being, that star power doesn’t seem to be waning in wake of the injury. Chicagoans yearn for his return, and consumers across the country can’t help but feel a similar sense of anticipation.

I, for one, can’t wait for #thereturn; but in the meantime, I’ll revel in Adidas’ hype – and homesick-causing commercials – until I can get me a slice of Giordano’s (thank God for Thanksgiving!) and await Rose’s return to Da (much-in-need) Bulls.


Social TV: Is the ‘Digital Watercooler’ the Next Big Thing?

Since Viggle, “the loyalty program for TV,” launched in January, it has attracted more than 1 million users. There has been tremendous hype surrounding the platform; and with such a large focus group, analysts are now beginning to understand the true benefits social TV can provide networks and advertisers alike.

If you’ve never used Viggle before, it works as a dual-screen experience – where users watch TV while simultaneously using a smartphone or tablet to share (to social media) their thoughts on what they’re watching, and to “check in” to shows, an action that earns them points which can be used to purchase rewards. But what can services like Viggle actually do for TV?


According to ratings magnate Nielsen, there is some correlation social TV and ratings. When it comes to key demos – especially 18-34 – social buzz surrounding shows can spike ratings: “a 9% to 14% increase in buzz volume (depending on where a particular show is in its season) correlates to a 1% increase in ratings in the 18-to-34 demo.” Obviously this bump isn’t remarkable, but it does make a difference.

As an ardent social media user, I can see why. I immediately think of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO hit, Newsroom. Prior to the premier – and during, and after – Twitter was abuzz with anticipation, excitement, and criticism. Being a Sorkin fan (SportsNight, Studio 60, West Wing), I was already committed to watching; but seeing tangible excitement from so many online made me even more anxious to watch. I can certainly see how the ‘social buzz’ surrounding the show may have swayed many into tuning in.


I think this is by far the most important piece of what social TV can bring to the table. By creating an integrated user experience that keeps people coming back, networks can strengthen engagement and deepen the relationship viewers have with series.

USA has been particularly good at this. For several of their most popular original shows, including Royal Pains and Burn Notice, they have created ‘hooks,’ whether that’s extended sweepstakes, games integrated into the viewing experience, or in Burn Notice’s case, an interactive digital graphic novel, sponsored by Hyundai.

By creating this sort of experience, USA ensures a deeper relationship between its viewers and the narrative before, during, and after the show airs, and drives value for its corporate partners.


Social TV has been especially successful at improving the viewing experience for live events, most notably the Olympics and the Academy Awards. By “checking in” to live events, users can participate in fan polls, trivia and other games, and keep track of what other users are saying.

This is crucial. In today’s digital environment, one of the neatest things is to follow along on Twitter while you watch a live event. Seeing election results in real time, getting on-the-spot news updates on important national events, and following major sporting events are all, I would argue, improved by the social experience. For services like Viggle to integrate that social experience into a television setting is highly valuable.


Green as in money, of course.

Watchwith, a “time-based metadata” platform to power social TV apps, can help drive value for networks and advertisers down to the single frame. Simon Dumenco, Adweek’s “Media Guy” described his conversation with CEO and co-founder Zane Vella regarding the future of his brand and social TV:

“We’re creating a world where every frame of TV is rich in possibilities,” he said, sounding every bit the on-pitch evangelist. But the proof is in the pop-ups — the visual manifestation in Watchwith’s back end (not visible to viewers) that creates second-by-second data bubbles that display what the database “knows” about every given scene. In an episode of social-TV (and ratings) hit “The Big Bang Theory,” for instance, a character walks into a room and the Watchwith database serves up information (which in turn feeds into social-TV apps) about exactly which model of Jansport backpack he’s carrying.

With this sort of down-to-the-frame metadata – combined with the audience data already being compiled from services like Viggle – it’s not hard to see why marketers are chomping at the bit. Media engagement is already at an all-time high, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Innovation is Anything but Business as Usual

Brands who remain stuck in their ways, relying on tradition and loyalty, can hope against hope that their name alone carries them through, that their competitors are just flies on the wall. But truly, it is the brands that innovate, and innovate constantly, that have staying power.

The essence of innovation may lie in R&D, but when it comes to marketing – advertising, branding, activation, etc. – innovation is equally as vital. In an increasingly digital world that is more connected than ever before, it is the intersection of innovation with brand activation and advertising that allows for consumer interaction in new, imaginative, and ultimately, beneficial ways.

Social media has the most potential to reshape the way advertisers connect with consumers. Trends like social gaming and social scheduling are at the forefront, with leading brands such as Heineken, Chevrolet, and Visa taking part.

Heineken is by far my favorite example of a brand doing it right. Across the world, Heineken finds ways to immerse itself in popular culture. Ingrained in international soccer, Heineken created the popular “Star Player” game, activating its partnership with UEFA and the World Cup in memorable fashion.

In Singapore, Heineken created a “Social Christmas Tree” – 48 LED screens towering eleven meters high – as a destination for consumers to send messages to friends and family. The tree exhibited one of Heineken’s core brand properties in an effort to unite people from across the world and truly bring social media to life.

Finally, they’ve embraced QR codes in a creative way – allowing Open’er Mustic Festival attendees to record personal messages (detailing who they were, where they were from, what their interests were). The messages were then embedded into a giant QR code sticker that was printed out and placed on their clothing, acting as a popular ice breaker amongst fellow festival-goers.

Heineken isn’t the only one to create viral ads and activations. One of my favorite work-related blogs, Brian Gainor’s Partnership Activation, compiles the best of the best. Two of my favorites take social to heart and create memorable, interactive campaigns that showcase their brand identity in innovative ways.

“Budweiser Scores with PoolBall Concept in Nightlife Settings” – Budweiser in partnership with Ogilvy Argentina:

“ Creates an Element of Surprise with a Mystery Fan Rewards Box”:

Nike vs. the Brand Police

I think this is pretty awesome.

Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign is the epitome of tongue-in-cheek, and a clear bit of ambush marketing that doesn’t quite break the rules. Needless to say, the LOCOG brand police and official sponsor Adidas can’t be pleased.

The IOC has a whole horde of rules in place to protect its TOP sponsors – including strict limitations on what brands can say, what sorts of images they can use, and where they can market. Nevertheless, competing brands – like Nike – and other non-official sponsors, try their best to skirt the rules.

London magazine, “The Drum,” got (comically) into the action by sponsoring a “Faux-Lympics” competition, asking agencies to present their best parody ads.

London agency, de Winter, put together this gem for Tourettes Action – click through to see some of the best:

While these paraody ads are obviously not real and do not represent examples of true ambush marketing, they offer a similarly tongue-in-cheek dig at the IOC and its brand police.

The rules they so hardily enforce do little to help TOP sponsors. Forbes reported the results of a Response Now survey, which indicate a number of negatives regarding the impact the Olympics has on sponsors and consumers, and the role of digital media.

Here are some highlights:

– 60% of Americans believe Nike to be an official sponsor. As I mentioned above, the official sponsor is in fact Adidas.

– The statement “I don’t understand why this company is an Olympic sponsor,” is most applied to McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

– 49% of all French respondents indicated that Evian is a sponsor, while 21% of British respondents indicated that Red Bull is a sponsor. Furthermore, despite not having anything to do with sports, major brands such as Microsoft and Google are falsely seen in the eyes of Brits (14% surveyed) as sponsors.

So therein lies the problem. Are the brand police doing enough? Or are they merely a futile attempt at assuaging the concerns of TOP sponsors who spend in the neighborhood of $100 million to partner with the games?

Regardless – I applaud the ambush marketers and the faux-lympic ad-makers for their creative and entertaining ways around the IOC’s law enforcement.

Sponsors face dilemma in Happy Valley

On the heels of the Freeh Report and the NCAA’s drastic sanctions, Penn State sponsors face a major dilemma.

The worst, and I hesitate to use the phrase public relations scandal, to rock college athletics since SMU in the 80s will leave the Nittany Lions football program beleaguered, arguably, until at least 2020. Without the motivation of postseason play and considering the staggering restrictions placed on current and future recruiting, this post-Paterno era will undoubtedly be marked by mediocrity and ambivalence from fans and players alike.

Without the NCAA’s so-called “death penalty,” the Nittany Lions football team will take the field in 2012. But will they do so with the backing of their sponsors?

State Farm joins Sherwin-Williams and as the latest advertiser to pull its support from Penn State media properties. A spokesperson for the insurance giant, an in-stadium and radio broadcast partner for the last 20 years, said the decision was made prior to Monday when the NCAA released its sanctions. State Farm pledged to maintain its support of other Penn State sports, such as men’s basketball.

Other brands are sure to follow suit – a tough pill to swallow for the Penn State athletic department, of which the football program accounts for a whopping 51% of revenue.

It will be interesting to see whether local properties, like many Penn State students and alumni, will remain loyal to the late Coach Paterno and their beloved Nittany Lions.