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Hidden Logos Revealed When Things Steam Up

New sunglasses from Parabellum reveal their logo only when the lenses are steamed up. What a fun idea. As NOTCOT puts it, “Much like leaving messages in the bathroom to appear when things get steamy…. playing with these sunglasses will have you breathing on glass everywhere in hopes of a secret message. And of course, you can see through them perfectly when wearing them normally.”

(Note: A quick survey among the editorial team here at ChasNote concluded that none of them have ever left a message on a bathroom mirror for “when things get steamy.” But then again they all deny using SnapChat too.)

Advertising Week 2012: The Big, Unanswered Questions

To help industryfolk navigate this year’s Advertising Week, iconoclastic agency Colle+McVoy created the Advertising Week Question Generator, an app that delivers the hard-hitting, big questions you might not have known to ask. If you don’t like the question it suggests, just click the button again. And let me tell you, it is uncanny how the Question Generator’s algorithm identifies the big questions facing our industry.

Meanwhile a small band of twitter-based rabble-rousers — Mike Masnick, Shawn Sims and Jean Aw — challenged the team at ChasNote to answer a few of the biggest, toughest and most mystical. Here we go.

How are we going to get exclusive rights to the early nineties?

The key to this negotiation is anchoring. Make a strong offer for the eighties, demand first right of refusal, and before you know it you’ll have the nineties plus a ton of below-the-fold make-good impressions.

Enough about you, how do I hijack Gangnam Style?

Gingham has never really been out of style. (Um, Judy Garland?!) We say, hijack away.

How are we going to be athletic enough for bears?

Bring your alligator, and then take the fight to water.

Can you explain the need to multi-touch Banksy?

Banksy doesn’t really exist. We know they made a movie about him, but we’re not buying it. Eventually it will be revealed that he’s a guerrilla marketing stunt carried out by a rogue intern at the social-media agency for UK retailer Tesco.

Can I get mommy bloggers to reverse engineer daddy bloggers?

You bet.

Before bed do you capture dongles?

We don’t understand the question — we are pretty sure “dongle” suggests it’s already in a captured state.

How did you manage to rethink low hanging fruit?

Rethinking is what we do here at ChasNote. Next question!

Bonobos Campaign Hides Its Models Behind Content Tiles on NOTCOT

The campaign hides Easter Eggs, or rather miniature images of Bonobos models in their signature pants, behind the editorial features — those pinned-up tiles of content — on and NotCouture. Click on models and you might get a discount voucher for your next Bonobos purchase. From the announcement of the campaign on NOTCOT:

As for Bonobos, they are the online menswear store named after the endangered promiscuous great ape species that is a close relation of the chimpanzee… the one’s that started off a few years ago with the goal of giving men a pant option (the secret is in the curved waistline) that vowed to put an end to the saggy rear end that one-cut-fits-all options provide.

I often like Easter Egg campaigns — they make advertising more playful for those of us on the other side of it. But there’s a little something extra fun about this one. Whether this was intended or not, the campaign got me thinking about the backsides of NOTCOT images, their butts if you will. And then, voila, out pops a guy in Bonobos pants, pitching a unique styling which takes the sag out of the butts of the guys who wear them. Nice.

WeTransfer’s Beautiful Ads While You Wait

Lady Gaga Wallpaper Ad on WeTransfer

File-sharing service WeTransfer works like YouSendIt — you upload a giant file to the cloud, and the person you want to share it with is emailed a link to the download page — except that WeTransfer serves the downloader really pretty ads in the background while you wait. I hadn’t heard of the company until I read about them on NOTCOT, where Jean Aw reported to loving the ads:

“I have a mesmerizing user-experience crush on WeTransfer right now. If I’m going to have to wait for ages to download files — it might as well be fun. There is an awesomely playful and elegant experience when I land on WeTransfer, and I actually love watching it download and excitedly await the next AD coming up.”

Wow. It’s not every day you hear a leading design blogger gushing about online ads.

Heinz Wallpaper Ad on WeTransfer

The ads are definitely pretty: Full-screen wallpaper units in high resolution, like beautiful magazine ads brought to a website. But that won’t be enough for WeTransfer to ring the advertising cash register in a big way. Current advertisers in rotation include TW Steel Watches, the Nalden application for the iPad, Resource Magazine, and Lady Gaga. Premium “channels” exist for Heinz and Ducati. With the exception of Heinz, that list doesn’t exactly read like the Who’s Who of Deep-Pocketed Brand Advertisers.

Beautiful (or entertaining or engaging) is one part of the formula that adds up to media revenue. To succeed as an ad-supported business, though, they’ll also need to figure out scale and targeting. There may be a path to targeting — matching ad campaigns with receptive audiences. Serving, say, Ducati ads to hip, adventurous guys in their 20s and 30s, and Heinz ads to moms with kids. (I’m guessing they’ll have a tougher time associating ads with content being shared, since that means they’d need to snoop inside the files their customers are sharing.)

I’m struggling, however, with how they build a large enough audience of customers using their service such that taking the 3% who are hip, adventurous guys in their 20s and 30s, dividing that number by 1000 and then multiplying by Ducati’s rate per thousand impressions (CPM) would add up to real money. I’m guessing the pool of prospective WeTransfer customers is comprised mostly of sales reps and PR folks.

But maybe they’ve created a tasteful and lucrative advertising model for a business like Dropbox. If Dropbox has mainstream success — convincing tens of millions of us to rent space in their cloud instead of storing stuff on our local harddrives — and if they add features that make it easy for us to share access to individual files inside our Dropboxes by emailing a URL to a friend (Update: A reader points out they already do! Who knew?!), they may find themselves with a highly-scaled population of people watching a “file is downloading” screen as they await movies, music, high-res photos to travel from the cloud to their iPads. Just as Overture dreamed up paid-search advertising only to see Google steal the market from them, maybe Dropbox will lift a page from the WeTranser playbook.

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Smitten

Jean at NOTCOT encouraged Roma (my daughter) and me to taste the wares at Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley, and she posted our iPhone pictures on her site. She gives me too much credit. The best pics, such as this one, are the product of my 9-year-old’s thumb.


From Crowdsourcing to Social Curation

Digg, the Grammys, NOTCOT and others got together in LA last week to talk about social news, crowdsourced content discovery and more. About six and half minutes into the above video, I give my 90-second version of the changes coming to Digg as part of Version 4.

When You Know Online Advertising Is Working

Tweeter Who Turns Off AdBlocker

Link here. Congrats, NOTCOT and FM, on advertising well done.

Full Disclosure: NOTCOT and Boing Boing Show How Easy It Is

Conversational approaches to marketing are effective for marketers — and work better for readers — in part because they aren’t regular old banner ads. But, lest these programs confuse audiences (and, perhaps, piss them off), it’s important for participating sites to explain how the programs work.

Here’s Jean Aw at NOTCOT announcing her latest post at Comcast’s Fancast site.

NOTCOT Fancast Post

And Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin with her latest eclectic TV faves for the same.

Boing Boing Fancast Post

That wasn’t so hard now, was it?

Comcast's Fancast Site Features Funny TV Reviews; CTRs Above 1%

Fancast Our TV Picks

The Our TV Picks section of the Fancast site features an eclectic batch of TV show reviews (from sci fi classics to sexy superheroes to contemporary reality TV) by writers from Boing Boing, Dooce, NOTCOT and Ask A Ninja. FM helped put all the pieces together.

Comcast is running banner ads on those same sites, with clips from the authors’ show reviews.

Dooce Ad for Fancast

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that ads, for example, on Dooce featuring an excerpt of more Dooce content would drive click-through rates that can be counted in whole numbers. But what can I say — I’m an old-fashioned guy who continues to be impressed by CTRs above 1% on banners that are SFW.

UPDATE 12/10: Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing explains to her readers how the sponsorship works:

“A disclaimer, in the interest of transparent über-sharing: I was paid to write these posts, and the site is an online video hub run by Comcast.

“I wasn’t told what to write about or not write about, and my work wasn’t edited or modified in any way, so I picked freaky stuff I genuinely liked, and in a few cases, had some sort of personal connection with.”

Uber-well done, Xeni and Comcast!

(Credits: Robin D’agostino at Comcast Interactive Media, and Michael Cohn and John Shankman at FM.)

JCPenney's Home Style Guide Builds on Past Success

JCPenney’s Linden Street line has teamed up with a half dozen FM authors to create the Home Style Guide, a group blog that pulls high-style decorating posts — chairs to build a room around or a DIY wood clock, for example — from Craftzine, Cool Mom Picks, Dooce, the Pioneer Woman, NOTCOT and others. JCPenney is the exclusive sponsor of the site (though they don’t control the editorial content), like they were last year on a similar site, FM’s Fall Shopping Guide. Featured Linden Street products are promoted down the left-hand column.

Linden Street’s Home Style Guide

This expansion of the concept JCPenney piloted last fall suggests the “converational marketing” approach is working for them. Additional press on the earlier program:

Abbey Klaassen covered it for Ad Age, which requires registration so here’s a summary at ChasNote.

Steve Rubel gave it props in his year-end round up, from Micropersuasion.

Readers become subscribers, from ChasNote.