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Enter Intel's Visual Life Contest — And Kiss Up to the Judges

There are more than 3 trillion images on the web already, and we’re collectively uploading 200 million more every day to Facebook alone. Consumer demand for images is forcing publishers big and small to invest in photo galleries in content verticals from sports and travel, to news and entertainment. Meanwhile a phone isn’t a phone nowadays if it doesn’t have at least TWO cameras built in, so it’s no wonder that photo-sharing apps are exploding. One of them, Instagram, went from launch to a million members in 2 months. (It took Foursquare a year and Twitter 2 years to do the same.) Even dogs have joined the party: Collar-cams hit the streets of New York earlier this week. In Intel-speak, we’re living visual lives.

So when they asked me if I’d be one of the judges for Intel’s Visual Life contest, I said to myself, “Hey, this might just land me an invitation to Path’s super secret SxSW party — I’m in!!” Besides, checking out photos and videos from great indie producers hardly sounds like work. For inspiration, here’s The Sartorialist talking about his “visual life”:

If you want to participate, here’s what you do. Intel is inviting independent content creators to share — by way of a photo or a video that’s less than 60 seconds — how they’re making the most of the visual web. Instructions on how to submit your entry here. Finalists will win the latest gear from HP.

And if you come across any of the judges, give them your utmost respect.

Branding Bananas

Chiquita sticker, traditional

Chiquita Bananas isn’t going to let the crowdsourced advertising-and-label design trend leave it behind. From Rob Walker’s column in the NY Times Sunday Magazine:

“Chiquita set up a Web tool for people to whip up their own sticker drag-and-drop mixes, and an obliging public created more than 25,000 of them in less than five months, according to the company. This enthusiasm has led to a competition — 1,355 entries were submitted over several months, and online voting starts tomorrow at eatachiquita.com to pick 18 designs that will be stuck onto actual bananas.”

Chiquita introduced the blue stickers in 1963 in a stroke Walker calls “a brilliant way to solve the problem of how to apply some version of branded packaging to an item that literally grows on trees.”

I like the new contest, too. Not that it’s especially cutting edge (see Jones Soda’s label contest or HP’s laptop skin contest, both in 2008), but it’s never a bad thing to pull your customers closer to your brand, to let them touch and feel your logo.

The best part about Walker’s column, though, is the quotes he extracts out of the team behind the campaign. Such as:

“The great thing about looking hard at something the brand already owns, no matter how small, is that there is usually a cultural recognition there already. With some application of this value to an idea you have, it creates a familiar association with an unfamiliar dynamic, therefore creating intrigue in the viewer — much like pop art does.”

Exactly!

My favorite entry in the contest so far is this one, the banana as hammock.

Chiquita sticker, banana as hammock

Voice Posting Goes Mainstream with New WordPress Feature

Three years ago this month HP and Federated Media launched a campaign that allowed bloggers to publish audio-posts from their mobile phones — dubbed voice posts. From the ChasNote write-up then:

“Earlier this week, several FM sites rolled out their first ‘voice posts,’ a new series of editorial segments served up as audio files on blog sites. HP is the sponsor of the series, meaning their logo appears under the audio file with copy that says ‘voice post technology sponsored by HP iPaq 510.’ HP also bought banner ads on the sites. Beyond that, though, HP has no relationship to or influence over the content of the voice posts”

Old School Telephone

Now WordPress is making it easier for all bloggers to publish audio-posts. From Mashable:

“You can already write and publish WordPress blog posts from your iPhone, iPad, Android, e-mail and desktop, but now you can also post audio via your phone.

“Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg announced the new feature for WordPress.com earlier today. It’s rather simple: enable ‘Post by Voice’ in your dashboard and you will receive a phone number and a unique code for posting audio from your phone to your blog. You can post up to one hour of audio at a time.”

Awesome. Congrats, WordPress, for turning this idea into a real product that everyone can use. And congrats, HP and Goodby, for the foresight!

(Disclosures: I’m a co-founder of Federated Media and was employed by the company in 2007 when this idea was hatched.)

HP Launches Small Business Marketing Guide Site

To accompany the launch of a new suite of inkjet printers aimed at SMBs, HP launched a content site to help those business owners expand their firms through more efficient marketing efforts. The Small Business Marketing Guide

Rocky IV divx

includes tips and other marketing-related editorial posts from the authors at TREND HUNTER

, Springwise, Life Clever The Sandlot movies Proof of Life dvd

and others from the FM family. Coverage at eWeek:

“HP also unveiled special offers and free resources for SMBs in an effort to aid growth and technology management, including rebate programs and expanding Web-based resources to include the Small Business Marketing Guide, an online community focused on small business marketing. “

Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-Lot

HP Print Ads Give Computer-Skin Contest Scale

At least twice a week I hear some variation of this question: “Gee, that conversational-marketing stuff is cool, but how does it scale?”

HP’s computer-skin design contest offers one answer. Back in September HP put out a call to artists who’d be interested in designing a notebook “skin” for an HP Pavillion, and 8,500 creations were submitted. HP then featured the winning design (by Joao Oliverira) in print ads to take the “Computer Is Personal Again” message to a significantly larger audience. Here it is, ripped from July’s issue of Wired:

HP ad in July 2008 Wired Magazine

Other examples: BMW, Dell, Haagen-Dazs and Intel sponsored Graffiti contests in Facebook.

HP's Paul Frank and Shepard Fairey Laptops for Charity

These are some stylish laptops. I love that HP created them (with help from designers Paul Frank and Shepard Fairey) for charity; why not make them available for wider distribution too?

HP Design Laptops

HP's Branding Bootcamp

The printing and imaging group at HP has launched a new section of its wiki, Branding Bootcamp.

HP’s Branding Bootcamp

We — HP and this Community — will work to provide the answers, guidance, resources and camaraderie to help you develop the marketing materials you and your business need to succeed – without breaking the bank?

My first thought, What self-respecting control-freak business owner or brand manager would let an anonymous community crowd-source his or her brand materials? And then, I thought, genius. Intuit founder Scott Cook once said a brand is what a friend tells a friend about it, so why not let them — friends, partners and random people who care enough to provide input — build your brand materials from the get-go?

Abysmal Click-Through Rates on My Space, Facebook

From Business Week:

“Social networks have some of the lowest response rates on the Web, advertisers and ad placement firms say. Marketers say as few as 4 in 10,000 people who see their ads on social networking sites click on them, compared with 20 in 10,000 across the Web. Mark Seremet, president of video game publisher Green Screen, stopped advertising on MySpace last spring because of a 13-in-10,000 response rate. ‘It’s really hard to make money on that anemic click-through rate,’ says Seremet.”

Google admits they’re struggling with the same issue, and their stock got hammered on the news.

Meanwhile, advertisers who recognize that building awareness, preference and affinity with customers involves activities other than clicks alone are finding more success in social networks. Examples include Intel, Dell, Wacom and HP, to name a few.

Simple, High-Impact Conversational Marketing, Pioneer Woman Style

As part of HP’s continued efforts to make websites and blogs more printable, and to get customers more comfortable with printing projects in general, they’ve sponsored the photo sections of parenting sites such as Dooce and Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. Here’s the masthead at Dooce, where HP invites readers to share their own pet photos.

HP Sponsors Daily Chuck

The Pioneer Woman hosts frequent “Give That Photo A Name” contests. Today’s installment solicited nearly 3000 comments in around six hours. (Yes, 3000 reader comments attached to a single post.) The lead-in to today’s contest, the Pioneer Woman alerts her readers to the new functionality added to her site as part of HP’s sponsorship: “Before I show you the prize, have you noticed the little ‘Print Pioneer Woman Photos’ blurb in my nav bar above? Here. Let me show you.” Followed by these screenshots:

Pioneer Woman Prints

Conversational marketing can be this simple. Simple yet well situated — right in the thick of an engaged conversation among 3000 web-savvy moms.

Facebook Apps Not Making Money?

My colleague Pete Spande responds to Adam Ostrow’s post at Mashable on the topic of Facebook applications and sponsorship dollars:

“I think the article misses the point and potential of Facebook apps as a business. There are supposedly 100 million blogs and most don’t make much money – even those with decent traction. Some however, and FM represents many of them, do very well and are seeing revenue growth that now rivals the audience growth they saw in previous years. I see a similar dynamic forming with FB applications. A handful of applications are making significant dollars through advertising, affiliate deals, etc. Others are seeing real promise. Most aren’t, and won’t, make much money ever.”

From the projects I’ve observed firsthand with Facebook apps affiliated with FM (Watercooler, Graffiti Wall and a few others), brands like Wacom, HP and Dell are finding large, high-quality audiences and significant marketing value. We’re only half a year into the era of Facebook applications, but I’m betting that marketers will do what they always do — send their advertising dollars in pursuit of their customers.