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2012′s Most Popular Videos

Nick Woods

Buzzfeed posted a list of 2012′s 10 most-popular videos on YouTube this morning, and mentioned a couple of pretty interesting highlights:

  1. The most popular music video this year wasn’t American
  2. YouTube’s investment in premium content didn’t result in a single video in the top 10
  3. No vlogger made the top 10
  4. The most expensive video on the list is the only one with any durability
  5. Two of the top 10 were ads
Just goes to show that predicting what goes viral has been no easier this year than it was in years past. And more importantly, for marketers at least, that good, well-produced, strategic advertising still has value.
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Content Marketing in the 1930s

Nick Woods

Just a quick note to remind everyone that content marketing isn’t the new phenomenon that some seem to think it is in 2012. Tom Megginson found a copy of an old Labatt Brewery Drinking Songs Booklet in Ontario, and uploaded scans of what I think is the whole thing. He says it was used to help boost morale among employees, who could bring the branded ‘hymnal’ with them to bars and parties. So while it was technically an HR-focused project, you can see how word of mouth could spread, and how the brand could become an integral part of an emotionally satisfying experience.

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Lytro

Nick Woods

I’ve apparently been living under a rock for the last year, and missed the launch of what looks like the coolest camera of all time: the Lytro. Based on a Stanford PhD thesis from founder Ren Ng, Lytro houses a sensory chip with hundreds of tiny lenses – rather than one single lens – that capture light from all different sources and directions. Why’s that important? Because multiple lenses means multiple focus points. Which means you can focus your shots after the fact with the company’s software, can change the perspective of your shot, and apply filters live on the go, rather than doing so in Instagram or CameraAwesome. Check it out and see what I mean.

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Back up your platitudes

Nick Woods

The authors of Neuromarketing like to talk about how emotional reactions create chemical events in our brains that embed memories – Without those “peak experiences,” recall of events or information becomes short term. So if you want to induce a reaction, you have to remind somebody about an experience. Ivan Pavlov figured it out a long time ago, and marketers just apply it differently – We make customers drool by ringing a bell that reminds them of something they remember. Most try to link their brand to existing memories. A select few create their own.

While we can point out the fact that Felix Baumgartner’s RedBull-sponsored leap from space this past weekend generated 16 times as many concurrent livestreams on YouTube as the Olympics did, the true value of the brand’s stunt (pun intended) has nothing to do with numbers. For the rest of my life, I’ll remember the awe I felt on Sunday afternoon when I saw the picture on the left for the first time. It’s the rare instance when a brand makes you believe in their promise – “RedBull gives you wings” means something now. It means the peak experience they created, one that a lot of people will recall forever.

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Sell your customers, don’t sell them out

Nick Woods

“Being a ‘gamer’ isn’t cool,” says Ryan Rigney on Wired.com this morning, “It never has been, and the surging popularity of mobile games will never change that. Most people, even those who play lots of videogames, are just unwilling to self-identify as a ‘gamer.’” It’s a truth that apparently makes no difference to Nintendo, whose newest commercial for New Super Mario Bros. 2 features Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas declaring “I’m not a gamer – I’m a coin-collecting champion.” It’s a strategy that makes sense on the surface, but Rigney worries later in the piece that the message comes off as only marginally effective for new audiences, and downright insulting to the “troglodytic basement-dwellers” from which most of us try to separate ourselves. When you’re looking to what’s uncool now for what will be cool in the future, where does the line between alienating your current audience and attracting a new one exist?

Before answering, ask your best current customers what you mean to them, then ask if that meaning makes them feel powerful or weak. Getting satisfactory answers to both those questions informs messaging that sells, as opposed to messaging that sells out.

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Focus on What’s Fun

BJ Bueno

Over 60% of the world’s population is active on one or more forms of social media.  You’ve got to wonder what that’s about.  Why are people so focused on Facebook, so tethered to Twitter? On one level, this is an easy question to answer. We can talk about the fundamental imperative that drives human beings to communicate with each other. Talking is what people do: communicating with each other allows us to make smarter decisions, enjoy a higher quality of life, and attain goals more efficiently and effectively. READ MORE

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Ouya

Nick Woods

According to Dvice, Kickstarter’s latest massive success story, Ouya, “is gunning to kill your Xbox 360, not with graphics, but with features people care about.” Originally focused on an open-source ethos, Ouya wanted to create a console that would let independent developers produce streaming game content for the television, a market typically reserved for companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. You could say it aimed to take the variety of games available in the mobile app market and put it in the living room. Well, at least that’s how it started.

As Kickstarter rocketed the project’s funding to nearly $9 million, Ouya added support for programs like XBMC – a media player that handles nearly every audio and video format available online – and TuneIn Radio, which streams over 70,000 stations, and 2 million podcasts from around the world. They partnered with VEVO to stream music videos, and retro gaming stalwarts NEO-GEO and Bandai for more classic titles like Final Fantasy III. They added support for up to four controllers, so gamers could play with their friends. And that’s when people started asking – What’s the need for a Playstation, a cable box, and an AppleTV when this exists?

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Trust Issues 001

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

As a creative, most of my life and well-being depends on trust. I trust instinct, intuition, my eyes, and my ability to seek out inspiration. The worst thing a writer, musician, or artist can do for their career is living in a bubble, because keeping ourselves from going stale is important.

It’s in that spirit that Nonbox presents Trust Issues – A series of music mixes, curated by our agency to help you stay inspired, and in-tune with what we’re listening to. You can download mine today, and all it’ll cost you is a Like on our Facebook page.

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BitTorrent’s plan to keep media free

Nick Woods

If you’re the type of person (shame on you!) who likes to steal their TV, movies and music off the internet, you probably have at least a passing familiarity with BitTorrent, whose file-sharing protocol is today’s gold standard for digital media piracy. But it’s not like the company is looking to cut and run: Earlier this week it began offering ‘free download bundles’ in an effort to help artists “monetize the BitTorrent ecosystem.” BitTorrent plans on pairing bands and filmmakers with sponsors, whereby free media off the network will also come with an optional sponsored content download. For example, exclusive music from DJ Shadow now available from BitTorrent comes with an optional RealPlayer install – The music stays free, and Real pays the artist a royalty every time its software is installed. It’s branded content that gives the auteur more flexibility. The question here is whether the advertisers are going to be able to create content that people actually want. Slate.com, for example, asks a good question: Who do you know that actually uses RealPlayer?

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Beyond Batman

BJ Bueno

We join with the world in sorrow and grief over the Aurora, Colorado massacre.

As a culture, we’ll be a long time figuring out what went wrong, and why. As business leaders, we have to understand the impact of events like this have on our customers.

For the owners of movie theaters, this is a huge and immediate concern. But what does it mean for the rest of us? You may not think there’s an immediate connection. If you’re selling women’s clothes or automobiles or the finest financial planning instruments, at this point, you’re thinking, “Exactly what does this horrible shooting have to do with my customer base? READ MORE

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Foundd

Nick Woods

Chances are, unless you’re a shut-in like me, you watch movies in groups rather than by yourself, alone in the dark. So while Netflix’s rating system is often (creepily) accurate in predicting individual tastes in film, it’s left up to you to gauge what your friends will like, and what they won’t. Or what your kids like that you’ll be able to sit through without tearing out all your hair. Foundd, a new movie recommendation service launching this week, tries to take the work out of the decision, by having you rate a handful of movies in a short survey, before adding your friends on Facebook and Twitter and comparing results. Afterward, you put together “group watchlists” that can have up to five members, and Foundd recommends movies based on the collective taste of that group. TechCrunch profiled the service this morning, and while they admit it might be a bit rough around the edges, it definitely provides a more social streaming experience – Without a second screen.

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Winning the Battle of the Bands

BJ Bueno

What do you call a brand that has enjoyed long-term success, remaining profitable and vibrant for over 30 years, while the vast majority of their early competition struggles for relevancy?

In the music world, you’d call that brand Duran Duran. Get ready for your 80′s flashback! We’re going to talk about what it takes to create enduring customer loyalty. READ MORE

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Kinect tricking out TV?

Nick Woods

Digital advertising has a leg up on traditional methods when it comes to engagement. That’s always been the sales pitch for the former at least – Potential customers are being talked to when they see an ad on their TV, instead of talked with. But that’s not the way it has to be, according to Microsoft, who seems to be finding an infinite number of ways its Kinect product can be used not only by gamers, but by brands.

The LA Times is reporting that Toyota, Unilever, and Samsung Mobile have all signed up for new interactive campaigns that will allow Kinect users to interact with regular TV commercials. Want to host a spot poll, or play a quick game with a potential customer? Or maybe give them a taste of a more tech-centric product? You have that option, once the new platform rolls out later this year.

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Four: Learning From Experience

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

I graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2004 but knew my learning was honestly just about to begin. Beside learning from those people I worked with on a daily basis, I wanted to also learn directly from those I’d been reading about and following through conversations. I wanted to pick the brains of those that already had years of experience doing what I was a rookie at. I didn’t want to hoard these conversations for myself so I started a website called “the Marma Spot” to house and archive these conversations for anyone interested in taking time to read them. This week I will share FOUR of the many conversations I have had with some of the best creative and entrepreneurial minds in the world. Enjoy!

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The MAD Business

Liz Wingate

Because I’m a graduating senior at UW-Madison, people are constantly asking me what my major is. And when I tell them “advertising,” their expressions usually indicate they’re thinking of some kind of stereotype. A lot of people think this industry is all about sex appeal, alcohol, and selling your soul, especially given the popularity of shows like Mad Men and The Pitch. Advertising, more than ever, has become entertainment on boring weeknights. How are students supposed to break into the world that they’re passionate about when everyone sees that passion as just another trend? Will employers take me seriously when I talk about respect for the creativity, the culture, and strategy behind the advertising? Or are they going to think I’m just another Peggy Wannabe hoping to jump on board with today’s fastest-growing career craze? Sometimes I feel I have to defend myself against family and friends who only see the glamor. I wish they could appreciate the art, the thought, and the execution as well.

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Greetings from Glasgow!

Nick Woods

If anyone reading has a chance to visit the UK, make sure a good chunk of your trip is spent in Scotland – Nothing here but sheep, rolling green hills, and awesome people. I still have a couple weeks left before I’m back, so we hope you enjoy a series of guest posts from the UW-Madison Ad Club. Cheers!”

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Your Daily Dose of Drama

Madeline Bok

Europeans allow for a lot: dessert and coffee after lunch, 3-hour midday siestas, shoes through airport security, and commercial-less TV programming. Shows across the pond generally run from beginning to end without commercials, with a 7-minute break for advertising in between. As a result, TV spots aren’t the best way to reach European audiences because viewers often occupy themselves with something else between programs.

That’s why TNT’s latest European advertising tactic, “Your Daily Dose Of Drama”, was so impressive. In the middle of a quiet square in Belgium, a red button was placed next to a sign inviting passerby to “push to add drama.” When it was activated, an array of dramatic events unfolded in the square, including a mishandled cadaver, a shirtless fight, and a scantily-clad woman on a motorcycle. TNT found a way to take the commercial out of the television. The drama went viral and was named Creativity Pick of the Day by AdAge. The innovative idea attracted attention across Europe and added a dose of drama to the calmest of siestas.

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The Other Side of the Pond

Nick Woods

To use one of the lamest catch phrases in existence, “I work to feed my family, but I play to feed my soul.” Typing that sentence out makes me groan, but it’s pretty true – Social media is what puts food on my own table, but if Napster had never existed, I like to fantasize that I’d be making my living playing guitar. About a year back, the band I play in was offered the opportunity to tour mainland Europe and the UK – And the people I work with were kind enough to let me indulge that fantasy. Over the next three weeks, things here are going to be a bit different, and you’ll get to hear from some other people with different ideas and perspectives than my own. I’ll be sure to check in on Monday, just to assure you I’m getting over the jet lag. And if you feel like following along, Instagram is a great way – I’m at @getpumped. Talk to you all soon!

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Prometheus

Nick Woods

It’s old hat to say consumers are bombarded by ads every day, and that it’s a real challenge to stand out amongst the clutter. In 2012, more than ever, an ad sticks with a customer because he or she wants to see it. You can trick someone into looking sometimes, but how well does that really stick? Furthermore, what’s the chance of someone who’s been tricked telling someone else they were fooled? That is, unless the trick is a particularly good one.

Hollywood’s certainly remembered that lesson to lately – Sometimes you don’t even realize you’ve seen a trailer until someone else points it out. Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s new Alien movie (no matter what he says), is the most developed case study. An awesome trailer was just the start – Until you did a bit of research, you probably wouldn’t know that the fictional TED Talk you just watched featured a character from the film. Or that the fake ad on YouTube was for the purchase of your own “David”Prometheus‘s android character. They’re ads that people waiting for the film want to watch. And they’re ads that delight those who don’t when they discover the big reveal.

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5 Things better than 2 Pac’s Hologram

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Everyone’s talking about 2-Pac’s hologram appearance at Coachella. And while I’d bet it was a bit more impressive live, like I’ve read, the fact remains 2-Pac is DEAD. Also, while it was a cool collective moment to reflect on his contribution to music and wonder “what if” taking this act on tour wouldn’t be THE REAL THING and to me wouldn’t mean as much to witness. Here are five things that are better:

  1. Advanced hologram technology in Japan that lets completely fabricated artists sell out arenas.
  2. Photoshop is a pretty complex and handy tool. This guy decided to throw a Holiday Party and “invite” all of his celebrity friends.
  3. Alejandro Chaskielberg has taken some absolutely gorgeous images of a community in the Turkana region of northwest Kenya at night.
  4. A great web based studio lightning simulator to help save you some time.
  5. World-class synths in your pocket.
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The Second Screen

Nick Woods

Think back a few years, and try to remember how exciting digital cable was when it first rolled out. At the time, providers were explaining the endless possibilities that the new technology could enable – The ability to stream more data to your TV meant content previously only available on formats like DVD could now be paired up with live content. More options meant a more customized viewing experience. But flash forward to 2012, and little, if any, of that promise has been fulfilled. Social media and mobile technology have taken care of it instead.

CNN’s Julianne Pepitone wrote yesterday that 68 percent of tablet users say they’re using their devices “several times a week” while watching TV. That means the demand for integrated, extended content on television falls more and more every year, as long as Americans have an iPhone, iPad or Android at their fingertips. As Pepitone says, “slapping a Twitter hashtag on a commercial or hawking a Facebook page in the corner of the screen during a TV show, is becoming passé.” When it comes to advertising, it’s a trend that might mean shifting our focus from the content broadcast on the big screen, to the community enabled by the small one.

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The Best of April Fool’s Day

Nick Woods

I don’t mean to take something like The Kodak Live Kitten Printer too seriously, but who says a brand can’t have a sense of humor? It was April Fool’s Day yesterday, an occasion that proves the strongest brands are often the best at letting their hair down from time to time, to show the world they’re not totally devoid of humanity. Some of this year’s best:

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Mobcaster

Nick Woods

In 2011, 75 pilot episodes were written for television at a cost of over $145 million. Of that number, just 45 made it past initial development, and only 25 saw actual airtime. It gets even weirder when you consider how many of those shows have already been canceled. It’s a problem creative executives have battled for years – Producing one hit program often requires investment in dozens of others that go nowhere. How do you pick the best idea?

Mobcaster, a new digital crowdsourcing tool taking cues from services like Tugg, is hoping to help. The site lets writers and producers pitch their concepts to an online audience, who offer up donations to put a show into production before it’s posted online. It’s an especially interesting idea because it reverses the trajectory that canceled programs in 2012 often take: An unsuccessful run on traditional TV, followed by a second life online (Arrested Development) or on DVD (Family Guy). Are we seeing the beginning of a new model? Is the Web the new proving ground for broadcast? With so many great ideas floating around, it only makes sense.

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Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium

Nick Woods

Following YouTube’s move toward more traditional programming, PBS posted a short, 7-minute documentary on the site yesterday called Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium. It’s a great, succinct examination of an art form enabled by old Web technology, but proliferated because of new media. And while the subject matter itself is interesting enough – check out Cinemagraphs.com when you get a second – on a deeper level, the fact that a video piece like this was designed exclusively for online consumption is itself a wink to how the world consumes content in 2012. (#meta.)

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YouTube going traditional?

Nick Woods

At All Things Digital’s “Dive Into Media” conference in February, YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar talked about turning YouTube into a channel just like regular TV. As he explains it, content is worth more when it’s delivered more efficiently – For example, a “dog on a skateboard video” can command $2 per thousand impressions when it’s simply floating around on YouTube.com. But when it’s packaged as part of a dog lover’s channel, or a skateboarder’s channel, that same video is worth nearly 10 times the price. The trouble, of course, is finding those who are interested – And for that, Kamangar needs to rely on content that’s already available, with a known audience.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that strategy, that YouTube added over 70 videos from the Disney Channel to the site today. Disney, of course, knows exactly who watches its content. Which means it’s a lot easier to efficiently package advertising along with it. So don’t be surprised if kid-friendly suggestions from unknown sources start popping up in the right-hand column next to your Dora The Explorer stream. It’s gonna start happening a lot more.

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Super Fighter Team

Nick Woods

A couple days ago, a few blogs started talking about a new video game to be released in 2013 called Nightmare Busters. It’s a relatively standard run-and-gun game, like Megaman or Contra. It doesn’t have awesome graphics or sound. It isn’t in 3D. But the developer producing it, Super Fighter Team, can barely keep up with demand, and has overhauled its no-preorder policy to ensure they have enough stock by the release date. Why all the fuss? Nightmare Busters will be the first new game released specifically for the Super Nintendo in over 15 years.

Remember – Oftentimes the easiest way to find out what’s cool is by looking for what’s uncool. And while retro gaming usually gets a smile and nod for nostalgia’s sake, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would’ve imagined a new SNES cartridge would sell for $68 in 2012.

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Tugg & Crowdsourced Cinema

Nick Woods

While I’m not going to outright complain that I live in the middle of nowhere (because I’ve been to Idaho), it’s tough sometimes getting the freshest of entertainment to come to Milwaukee. Netflix and The Pirate Bay have made it easier to bear, but I won’t lie, it’s a huge bummer when I don’t get to go to the cinema to see movies that I’ve been excited about for a year previous.

Good thing crowdsourcing is the new black, and sites like Tugg are helping to identify demand in the most unlikely places. The new service lets you choose a movie you want to see, and where you want to see it, and then it’s up to you to promote it. If you pre-sell enough tickets, Tugg arranges everything with the theater of your choice, it delivers the film, and it sets up tickets at the box office. Hopefully it’ll let me shorten the list on my desk by at least a few items.

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Lilyhammer

Nick Woods

On Monday, Netflix officially stepped into the pool of original programming and aired Lilyhammer. The new show stars Steven Van Zandt, who – for all intents and purposes – reprises his role on The Sopranos as a mobster driven into exile in Norway after he squeals on his boss. It’s a premise that sounds a bit unremarkable, but Netflix isn’t banking on the show itself to draw interest. Rather, the company hopes to sell Lilyhammer based on its status as the first totally original show to debut exclusively via an on-demand format.

It’s a risky move to say the least, especially since the show debuted without any kind of premiere fanfare. You can’t even find it in Netflix’s “New Releases” section. But if there’s one thing you can say about the company, it’s that they understand how people in 2012 want to watch TV (even if they don’t know how much they want to pay for it): Lilyhammer is available all at once – Not in weekly installments. Which plays right into the wheelhouse of everyone who sat and watched the entire fifth season of The Sopranos in one long, pathetic marathon.

 

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4 billion views a day

Nick Woods

Yesterday, Google reported a 25 percent traffic jump on YouTube over the past eight months of its service, claiming users are now streaming 4 billion videos from the site every day. According to Reuters, Google says roughly 60 hours of video are now added to the site every minute, compared to the 48-hours-per-minute rate it clipped at back in May 2011. That’s roughly a whole year of content every 2.5 days. Wow.

Those are big numbers, but they might be a bit misleading when you consider the type of content typically posted to YouTube. In 2010, the average length of a YouTube video was 4 minutes and 12 seconds, compared to network and cable programming which runs 22 minutes, or 44 minutes, depending on the length of the program. That translates into a lot more time spent watching regular ol’ TV – Indeed, Mashable reports that the average YouTuber spends 15 minutes a day watching videos on the site, while the average American spends 4-5 hours watching the tube. The death of traditional TV this isn’t – But we’re getting closer. All hail Hypnotoad.

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Retronaut.co

Nick Woods

For those already nostalgic for 2011, only two days in, you might take a couple minutes to head over to Retronaut.co. Home to thousands of pictures and image “capsules” from days of yore, the site is a great trip through what’s made history great, or at least interesting. It’s also a pretty hilarious reminder of why looking forward is at least less embarrassing than looking back – Capsules like “Christmas Guns,” “How Wives Should Undress In Front Of Their Husbands,” and “Robocop c.1924” are proof enough.

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Here’s to a Great 2012!

Nick Woods

Thanks to everyone who made 2011 such a wonderful year! Have a safe, happy, and memorable NYE!

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The Dark Knight Mumbles

Nick Woods

If the new Batman movie isn’t the greatest cinematic achievement of the modern age, it’s probably going to be the biggest disappointment of my life since learning Santa Claus might not be real. So you can imagine my dismay at the Twitter and Facebook furor over The Dark Knight Rises’ new trailer, featuring Batman’s most intense nemesis of all time – Bane – played by one of the most intense actors around today, Tom Hardy. You see, Bane wears a mask over his face. And Hardy has a super-thick British accent. Together, you can’t understand a word he says in the 6-minute spot, which won’t be acceptable over what I’m hoping will be the best, if not the most entertaining film of 2012.

Christopher Nolan, the movie’s director, is already shunning the criticism, saying he doesn’t want to dumb things down for his audience, which has me locked in an argument with myself. The critics are right – You definitely can’t hear a thing the villain says in the trailer. But does that really matter when the artist behind it all, with such a stellar track record, feels so confident in the underlying vision?

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Content + Price = Kindle > iPad

Nick Woods

While it’s going to be a while before we can declare a new ‘winning’ side in the U.S. Tablet Wars, BestBuy turned heads yesterday when it reported that the Kindle Fire is flying off its shelves faster than the iPad. This, despite early reviews that called the Fire buggy, uncool, and slow. Why are we seeing a possible shift?

The most obvious catalyst is the price – The Fire  is much cheaper than a 16gb iPad 2. But perhaps more importantly, Kindle has put content over style and speed, and users are responding. Many say its easier to download songs, stream video, and read comics, books and magazines on the new tablet. And even iPad users would agree: Without cool stuff to pull up, what good is prestige, processing power, screen resolution, and a 3G connection? Remember – Dogs love meat.

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Arrested Development x Netflix

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Few TV and movie fans doubt that streaming content sites like Hulu, Prescreen, and others represent the future of television. It’s an opinion Fox and Imagine seem to share – The studios have licensed a brand new season of the critically acclaimed, ratings-challenged show Arrested Development to air exclusively on Netflix in 2013. More and more it seems the only key ingredient keeping audiences hooked to cable and satellite is the availability of live events, which admittedly makes ditching those services a tough pill to swallow. $17 a month for a virtually unlimited variety of content on-demand? Or $200 a month for the same content plus live TV? Moves like this make the switch more attractive every day.

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Prescreen

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Movie tickets and paid television seem to get more expensive every year. So kudos to Prescreen, a new Web site that streams 60-day “prescreeners” to users at prices as low as $4 a movie. Not every film available on Prescreen is destined to end up in theaters, but for directors and crew, the service’s incentives – like offering loyalty points to the first 5 percent of customers watching each movie – helps put more eyes on their work. The service’s business model has been toyed with by cable and satellite providers in the past, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities sites in the same arena might offer to filmmakers and movies fans alike in the future. Try it out for yourself HERE.

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Remakes of Remakes

Nick Woods

Simon Reynolds argues over 500 pages in a book published earlier this year that pop music in the new millenium relies too much on samples, “influences,” and content curation instead of original thought to create “new” sounds. It’s an argument that’s easy to apply beyond music. Take, for example, the multiple Snow White films that will be released next year – We’ve seen two trailers released already in the past two weeks that promote essentially the same story we’ve heard for decades. And there’s at least one outlet predicting the redundancy will have a negative impression on how both films are perceived by the public. Has pop culture really reached a point where we want remakes of remakes before the first remake is even finished? The thought alone makes the brain cramp.

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The Jacket As An Icon

Nick Woods

Checking out at the grocery store became infinitely more tolerable when the world began stocking tabloids next to the register – Those 15 minutes in line are far less irritating when one can laugh at the poor fashion choices of the rich and famous. But it’s funny how the tables can turn when the right piece is paired with the right person at the right time. Take Michael Jackson’s red jacket worn in the music video for “Thriller,” now on sale for a cool $2,350 on Amazon. Or the cheap Korean souvenir Ryan Gosling wore in this summer’s Drive. Worn at different times, in different media, clothing that’s now almost as famous as the stars that wear it might have been branded fashion “don’ts” instead of “musts.” As timeless as we like our pop culture to be, it always seems the best stuff comes down to context.

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The New Breed of TV

Nick Woods

Sony threw its hat in the ring over the weekend to join a crowd that gets bigger every day – Brands attempting to breed a smarter screen, one that will organize, access, and broadcast every channel we surf. That’s a tougher task than it seems… Watching TV isn’t just a cable-or-antennae option anymore. Next to the hundreds of channels our digital cable providers toss our way, streaming video services send us our favorite movies and shows over the net. Our DVD collections grow every day. Collecting content seems to be the new pastime, and the biggest challenge isn’t finding it anymore – It’s digesting it. Seems like life just won’t let up on the world’s couch potatoes. READ MORE

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Trip To Paradise

Jon Grider

Radio Paradise is a real trip, with no loss of frequent flyer miles (or brain cells). It’s a streaming internet radio station, with the best eclectic mix I’ve heard from one source. Mostly tasty, interesting rock, but all genres are represented. Everything is DJ mixed, so there is a logic and flow – unlike random computer mixes. And it’s totally commercial-free. Not that I don’t fancy a good radio spot, but I’d rather wait for the Mercury Awards reel. Radio Paradise is financially supported through donations on their site – hopefully for many moons and tunes to come. A husband/wife team out of Paradise, California runs the station, which has been around for about a decade. Their site has playlist details and the ability for interactivity – through welcomed comments, forums, journals and contests. Welcome to paradise.

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Take Two For Netflix?

BJ Bueno

“There is a difference between moving too quickly—which Netflix has done very well for years—and moving too fast, which is what we did in this case.” With those words, Netflix has backed away from its controversial plan to split the company into two parts. The DVD rental-by-mail business, which was going to be called Qwikster, will remain part of the Netflix business. It’s a reversal that makes sense. READ MORE 

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Historic Letters

Jon Grider

I recently walked back in design-time at The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI. Founded in 1880, Hamilton was the largest wood type producer in the country, when just about everything was letterpress printed. They now showcase their 1.5 million pieces of hand-carved, finely polished maple wood type at the museum, along with displays and working presses from back in the day. They also have hands-on workshops, so students and artists can use their collection. Three presses were lathered in ink the day I was there, one being rolled by a student from England. Historically hip again, Hamilton was just commissioned by Fossil watches to build a wall of type for them, and Target recently had a fashion shoot at the museum. The other premier working letterpress studio/museum that practices preservation through production is Hatch Show Print in Nashville. Famous for their country music posters, Hatch continues to create old-school, organic poster art that still strikes a chord today.

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Does Netflix Know What It Is Doing?

BJ Bueno

At first, we thought it was a joke—and not a particularly funny one at that.  Surely Netflix, one of the most successful and dominant brands in the world, wouldn’t make a bunch of boneheaded moves seemingly tailor made to alienate their customers. Not Netflix. We’re talking about the company that broke Blockbuster, the savvy, smart, forward looking firm that changed the way we consume media. READ MORE

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Friday Brain Teaser

Billy Cannestra

Using the letter grid to the left, how many words can you find? Each word must contain the central R and no letter can be used twice; however, the letters do not have to be connected. Proper nouns are not allowed, but plurals are. There is at least one nine letter word. Excellent: 32 words. Good: 28 words. Average: 20 words. Contact me if you want the answers. Have Fun…

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Friday Brain Teaser

Billy Cannestra

This was my son’s first math assignment for the year. The object is to connect A to A with a line, B to B with a line and C to C with a line. Keep in mind lines can’t cross and no going outside the frame or crossing into any of the letter boxes. I finally got it at 1:30 AM. Have Fun….

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It’s OK To Come Out of the Basement

Jon Grider

Ping-pong popularity is on the rise. Thanks to hip clubs like Spin (Milwaukee, New York, St. Pete and Toronto), all levels of table tennis players are coming out of the woodwork (most likely musty, knotty pine woodwork) – me included. Competitive exercise, rewarded with a well-crafted brew in a state-of-the-art space with good tunes and good people is a good thing. The US is still no match for China (or Germany, or Japan, or India, or Korea, etc.) when it comes to ping-pong proficiency and popularity. In fact, we pretty much bring up the rear in the world table tennis standings. But when you consider our ability to have fun, the US kicks @#%! Get your pong on, people!

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The Evolution Of The Music Industry

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

While visiting the Fast Company website I stumbled upon an animated pie chart that, let them tell it, “illustrates the music industry’s death.” While I don’t believe it illustrates that as much as it does it’s evolution, I do feel it illustrates the death of “big record label thinking.” It’s time for artists and musicians to get creative with promoting, marketing, distributing and selling their music. With the advent of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud it’s easier than ever. I can’t wait to see how big labels adapt to the constantly changing landscape. These are exciting times.

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Watch The Throne

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Listening to and reading all of the critique of the new Jay-Z & Kanye West album Watch The Throne has been very interesting and exciting. To me, any great body of work sparks passionate and sometimes heated debate. It also begs for a side to be selected, rarely do you experience gray area. People either fall in love or detest. Questlove, of the Legendary Roots Crew, wrote an “Official Unofficial Review” which is the best piece of commentary I’ve read on the album so far.

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Jay-Z Interview: Gwyneth Paltrow

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Short, sweet, and to the point is how I would describe the interview Jay-Z conducted with Gwyneth Paltrow as well as the one Gwyneth conducted with Jay. You can view both here and here.

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5 Ways To Boost Marketing

Mark Evertz

Quick social marketing junkies, switch on your iPads, bust out your styli and jot down the name of  the next great marketing panacea. For lack of a better term, we call it – Bro-cial Media. But you can call it whatever you want when you present it as your own in your next big client presentation. READ MORE

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Gaga As Role Model?

BJ Bueno

Do business leaders have a lesson to learn from Lady Gaga? At first glance, it might not appear so, but that’s until you learn that the 25 year old singer is well on her way to earning over $100 million in 2011. Forbes Magazine recently ran a piece detailing Gaga’s multiple revenue streams. Praised for being as shrewd and decisive as she is fashion-forward and creative, Lady Gaga has done some things exceptionally well. There’s wisdom in her approach that can be emulated by business leaders across the board. Besides, she’s a snappy dresser. READ MORE