September 21, 2016

McDonald's Kills "Channel Us"

"Despite being one of the world’s most loved and talked about brands, McDonald’s weren’t connecting with 16-24 year olds."
So began the story by The Drum about McDonald's UK launch of a new YouTube channel called "Channel Us" last September.

The idea was to create a video channel...
"...for young people and in collaboration with the influencers they admire most." (Ooh, influencers!)
According to The Guardian, this was done by The Drum in cahoots with OMD.

You see, according to The Drum, these darn Millennials are...
"...a generation getting out there and doing amazing things. (And Channel US)... brings them together, gives them a leg up and helps make their ambitions a reality."
Sounds like an Advertising 101 pitch at a bad junior college. But apparently, that's all you need these days. As long as your strategy is, "get younger, get more digital" you can't lose.

According to OMD,
"This exciting new YouTube channel is the next activation of McDonald’s latest brand platform – ‘Good Times’ – celebrating the role the brand plays in customers (sic) lives."
Someone fucking shoot me.

Back to The Drum.
"All of this was aided with the help of YouTube favourites Oli White and Hazel Hayes,  who fulfilled the roles of both presenter and contributor as they called upon they (sic) worldwide fan bases to back the Channel Us stars."
Yeah, baby. Get them worldwide influencers influencin'.

McDonald's CMO had this to add... 
“This is a ground-breaking moment for McDonald’s in the UK...The launch of Channel Us is completely new territory for the company."
Yeah, well, the best laid plans...

Last week, McDonald's announced they were aborting this monstrosity. In 2016 thus far, not a single "episode" of this clown show managed to garner even a thousand viewers. Do you have any idea how shitty a big budget creation from one of the world's biggest brands has to be to get fewer than a thousand views?

I could post a picture of my dog's ass on this blog and get more views than that. Although, to be fair, some might say my dog's ass has greater appetite appeal than your average McChicken sandwich.

Content marketing is one of the planet's biggest cons. Just because there are a few companies who are successful spending billions on it, doesn't mean you will be.

As Jonathan Salem Baskin has said, "Most branded social campaigns are only as "successful" as the money and time marketers are willing to commit to perpetuate the pretense of conversation and relevance."


September 19, 2016

GOOG, FB, P&G Create Coalition To Do Nothing

I am traveling and speaking once again this week so blog posts will be thin on the ground. To atone for my negligence I am reprinting yesterday's Type A Group Newsletter here today.

Alarmed by a tidal wave of consumer antipathy to the awfulness of online advertising, last week a group of big-time advertisers, publishers, agencies, and media announced a coalition to "rid the internet of annoying ads."

Yeah, any minute.

According to MarketingWeek...
"The ‘Coalition for Better Ads’ aims to take on the “Herculanean task” of bringing together advertisers, agencies, ad tech and publishers to come up with global standards on digital advertising to tackle the rise of ad blocking."
I'm pretty sure they mean Herculean but, hey, who cares about language anymore?

Published reports claim that over 400 million people worldwide currently use software to block online advertising, and the number is growing rapidly.

Here are the self-proclaimed goals of this cruel joke of a coalition:
  • Create consumer-based, data-driven standards that companies in the online advertising industry can use to improve the consumer ad experience
  • In conjunction with the IAB Tech Lab, develop and deploy technology to implement these standards
  • Encourage awareness of the standards among consumers and businesses in order to ensure wide uptake and elicit feedback
This hooey reminds me of an initiative announced over five years ago by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) called "Making Measurement Make Sense" in which they formed a "coalition" to try to make sense of all the bullshit metrics the online industry was peddling. At the time I wrote...
"The enormous success of digital advertising is based on the fortunate circumstance that almost no one understands anything about the numbers."
Happily for the online ad industry the initiative came to nothing and the confusion over online ad metrics is greater than ever.

This new "Coalition For Better Ads," including Facebook and Google, is doomed to spin in circles and accomplish nothing except waste money because it will not deal with the real problem -- consumer stalking (aka tracking.) If they just got rid of tracking, a great many of the problems consumers, publishers, and advertisers are facing would evaporate.
  • Consumers would not be constantly stalked and harassed by tracking software leading to insufferable  "precision targeted" ads.
  • Quality publishers would be able to monetize their audiences instead of having their ad revenue stolen by crappy or imaginary sites through re-targeting.

  • Advertisers would know who they are reaching and where; not have most of their media dollars pissed away on adtech middlemen; not have to rely on problematic "ad networks."
But this coalition will deal with everything but the problem. The reason they will not deal with the real problem is that the people who own the internet -- Google and Facebook -- will never allow it.

As Doc Searls says, display advertising is "tracking-aimed junk mail that only looks like ads."

Google and Facebook will never accept the suppression of tracking because surveillance is their business.

Dracula is guarding the blood bank.

On The Road Again...
This week I will be in Oslo speaking for Discovery Networks Norway. Then traveling to Dublin, Ireland to speak at the ADFX awards.

Next week I'll be in NYC attending, reporting and podcasting from the week-long festival of self-promotion called AdvertisingWeek. Stay tuned. That should be good for a few laughs.

September 06, 2016

I'm Not Lovin' It

You don't have to be a marketing genius to figure out how this works.

McDonald's hires a new cmo, and then after the obligatory designated waiting period she names a new agency.

Who's surprised by that?

But there is some disturbing news in this story. What goes unsaid is that in addition to a new agency, the cmo gets the big prize every cmo secretly lusts after -- the opportunity to run her own ad agency.

Of course, it will never be said out loud, but have no doubt about it -- the de facto ceo of McDonald's new  custom-made "agency of the future" (someone shoot me) is McDonald's cmo.

As you've surely read by now, Omnicom is following the revolting new agency gimmick-du-jour and promising to create a new agency from scratch solely for McDonald's.

After costs, the agency's compensation will totally rely on meeting key performance indicators created by McDonald's. Anyone who's ever worked in an agency in which the entire agency is in the clutches of one client knows that the key-est of the KPIs is "kiss my ass or die."

I had the opportunity to do advertising work for McDonald's (on a regional basis) for over 15 years. Here's why this new system is a prescription for awful advertising:

1. Omnicom is not new to McDonald's. DDB Chicago (an Omnicom agency) has been arm-wrestling Publicis's Leo Burnett (the other finalist) for McDonald's business on and off for decades. Most of this infighting and maneuvering was never revealed to the press, but it's been an ongoing soap opera.

2. No one who's any good will want to work at this "agency of the future." First of all, "agency of the future" is the cliché of the decade. For years now, McDonald's has been the last stop on the advertising train. They once were one of America's great advertisers. Now they are among the worst. I am officially skeptical that great creative people are going to be lining up for jobs at McDonald's new in-house agency.

3. The agency will have full responsibility and virtually no authority. They will be held to "KPIs" over which they have little to no control.
  • They will have little to no control over the strategy. The strategy will be dictated by a combination of the McDonald's marketing department (don't ask) and a committee of franchisees (yes, it's everything you imagine.) The extent to which the agency's strategy will be executed is exactly the degree to which it mirrors the thinking of the corporation and the franchisees.
  • They will likewise have little to no control over the creative product. They will create idea after idea and all will eventually wind up in the McHomogenizer and come out as price/item promotions. Maybe they'll be allowed an 8-week honeymoon at which they'll introduce a new campaign, but after 8 weeks the campaign will just devolve into a tagline on price-item spots.
  • They will have little to no control over the field. McDonald's has about 20-40 field agencies in the US (I've lost track) who (when I was there) created about 50% of McDonald's advertising on a regional basis. These agencies are very busy keeping chronically dissatisfied franchisees in the corral. The new agency will make a grand tour and present their awesome Powerpoint to every franchisee group and field agency in the nation. The agencies will roll their eyes and do exactly what their local franchisee groups want.
  • Everything I've read from the cmo leads me to believe that she is auditioning for the job of grand marshal of the "more data/more digital" parade. This is the default mantra of every flat-tire cmo on the planet. Before McDonald's leadership falls for this horseshit, they might want to take a long, hard look at P&G's recent experience.
  • No national advertising plan at McDonald's ever gets approved without a positive vote of the franchisees. If you've never presented advertising plans to a ballroom full of franchisees you simply haven't lived.
  • Further, under this scenario, the agency is perfectly positioned for the delegation of blame. They will have no authority over either pricing or operations. McDonald's sales performance is far more related to prices and operations than anything the agency does. 
So when you have full responsibility and no authority how do you demonstrate "performance?" Easy, don't argue with the boss.

The new agency is starting with two hands and several other major body parts tied behind its back. If they manage to create anything exceptional it will be a miracle, and they will have my eternal admiration.

(For an opposing view, read this from my good friend Mark Ritson.)

In other inter-global worldwide news...
Watch me shoot my mouth off about the evils of online tracking in this clip from TVNZ, in New Zealand.