26 May, 2011

Rally, Fans - Rally!

In case you've been living under a rock for the past month, you may have heard about a massive hack perpetrated on Sony and their Qriocity service by a splinter group of hacker collective Anonymous.

The mid-April leak of sensitive user data affected some 77 million PSN users and shut the system down for nearly a month restricting PSP and PS3 users to single player gaming experiences, if not locking them out from whole games entirely. Fans and gamers around the world were outraged, concerned, and, as it got down to the end of the fiasco, defensive.

All of this happened with Sony's flagship spokesperson, Kevin Butler, undergoing radio silence on twitter.

See, despite initially fumbling the ball when it comes to being up front with the extent of the damage, Sony have come forward several times over the past month giving incremental updates to customers and their fans. Sony has been honest and thoughtful when it comes to their fans in the face of this multi-billion dollar security breach.

And now they are seeing dividends.

A recent study conducted via GameSpot's Trax, the video-game industry's most advanced, real-time market-intelligence tool, wherein they surveyed 2,285 gamers who own Playstation 3s about their feelings about the PSN outage.

Despite being unable to fully use their machine, over 80 percent surveyed said they were very or somewhat likely to return to their PS3s online again following the data breach and downtime and, better yet, fewer than 10% had jumped ship to competitor Microsoft's Xbox Live service.

This, in my opinion, outlines why it's great to have fans but better to convert those same fans into brand stewards.

Sony's fan base has rallied behind their injured company, defending them on forums and sharing any incremental news they can find about the beleaguered behemoth in hopes of inspiring other fans to keep their wits about them.

This should be the goal for all brands; creating a fan base so behind you that no matter the news, they will come to your aid. Fan's that fight for your brand, engage with your brand, and talk about your brand online and off.

Despite the drop in stock price, Sony has maintained their foothold in the video gaming market and cemented their place for years to come due to the time spent informing and nurturing of their fan base.

Other companies should take note.

Of course, the offer for free games and identity protection certainly helps...

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive/Qriosity? Really?

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16 May, 2011

Kegasus vs. Get Your Preak On

With the running of the 136th Preakness Stakes coming this weekend, I thought it might be fun to get people’s takes on Preakness advertising since it’s “Rebrand.” And when I say rebrand, I mean the advertising that’s supported the second leg of Horse Racing’s Triple Crown since it was transformed from a Bacchanal to just a big festival. What do I mean when I say Bacchanal?

That MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) banner that was on the screen from about 0:51-1:04, as that guy tried to remember which appendages should face down, yeah, we designed that. And it got viewed almost 360,000 times. Oh, and don’t think this is only a Baltimore thing. They do it at the Kentucky Derby too, with the same varying degrees of success.

So up first is the first TV spot in 2011 Preakness “Be Legendary” campaign, featuring Kegasus, Lord of the Infield Fest. Apologies for not knowing the agencies who created these campaigns. I was doing this post on the fly. But if you know who created the campaigns or would like to claim credit for them, please do so in the comments sections.

Number two is the “Get Your Preak On” campaign for the 2010 Preakness, featuring…mouths? This was after the Preakness had canceled the BYOB policy prior to the 2009 Preakness, and instead hosted a festival-style concert and a bikini contest, and offered a $20 all-you-can-drink mug for 2010. This one was posted by the Maryland Jockey Club.


And finally, here’s a commercial for last year’s Belmont Stakes. I would say it has a decidedly different tone, and it was posted by the New York Racing Association. 

Okay, you may notice the Preakness and Belmont commercials go in slightly different directions. So something we should note is that the Maryland Horse Racing industry has been struggling for a few years now, and the Preakness goes a long way to supporting Maryland Horse Racing for the entire year. That’s one reason why ticket sales are enormously important for the Preakness. And after eliminating the BYOB policy for 2009, attendance significantly dropped, despite it being a gorgeous day. So these spots both highlight the efforts (concerts, contests, beer, etc.) made to get fans back on the infield. On the other hand, it looks like the Belmont Stakes organizers are not as aggressively pursuing audience attendance.

Around Baltimore people have had pretty strong feelings towards the past two Preakness campaigns, both positive and negative. So weigh in down in the comments section (you may have to click on the title of the post in our archive section to the right in order to comment).

What worked? What didn’t? Which was your favorite and why?

And finally, kudos to Fair Hill, Maryland's own Animal Kingdom, who's one third of the way to winning the Triple Crown. Let's hope he fairs just as well on his home turf...uh, dirt, that is. Besides, papa has some debts he needs to pay off. And for your information, yes, you can gamble on American Idol. But choosing your contestant on the grounds of "funniest hat" is not something I'd recommend.

--George C. Convery, Copywriter

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05 May, 2011

Animal Shelter Advertising: A New Contender

If you've ever seen an advertisement for animal shelters or other related causes, if you were just listening to the spot's music, you'd expect it to be an ad for some anti-depressant.

These spots jerk at your heartstrings; literally challenging you not to give a care.

Don’t get me wrong, they all promote very noble, important causes but the way they go about advocating for these animals, just makes me wanna cry.

I was very excited to see this new ad come out the other day from the Animal Humane Society.

According to their YouTube page, they’re a “leading animal welfare organization in the Upper Midwest engaging and serving local and regional communities of people and animals. Through its comprehensive programs and services at its locations in Buffalo, Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, St. Paul and Woodbury, Minnesota, the Animal Humane Society provides resources that compassionately serve all the stages of an animal's life.”

They’ve brought a breath of fresh air with their “I Want…” commercial.

The ad was light hearted, had talking cats, an uplifting track – a recipe for success if you ask me – all the while staying on message and promoting the cause for the adoption of shelter animals.

This works for me, it doesn’t immediately hit you that these animals are suffering in these shelters and are looking for a way out, a welcome departure from other ads. If I didn’t already have two of my own, I would most certainly consider getting my next pet from a shelter because of this ad.

Does this ad have the same effect on you? Or are you more affected by this?

Sean Sutherland, Associate Account Executive, Animal Advocate

Animal Shelter Advertising: A New ContenderSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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