The Future Of Marketing: Ads Get Physical, Digital Advertisers still buy highly coveted TV spots during the Super Bowl, but increasingly the consumer connection is made online. From viral Old Spice videos to Volkswagen's "Fun Theory" experiments, marketers are finding creative ways to seek out customers in the digital space.
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The Future Of Marketing: Ads Get Physical, Digital

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The Future Of Marketing: Ads Get Physical, Digital

The Future Of Marketing: Ads Get Physical, Digital

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

When you get a chance to look at old TV ads, they can seem positively laughable.

(SOUNDBITE OF OLD SPICE COMMERCIAL)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

U: Sense it, the power of Old Spice: the mark of a man.

MONTAGNE: Thanks for coming on the program.

MONTAGNE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: So, you know, we've got the Super Bowl coming up, and that is the biggest advertising moment of the year, with TV commercials almost as much a draw as the game. But generally, advertising these days is not focused as much on TV spots. Is that not true?

MONTAGNE: That's very true. I think the Super Bowl is a great example of some of the bigger changes that have happened in the industry. You know, historically, you had brands who would create these commercials for the Super Bowl and spend millions of dollars making the ad, and then the ad would run for its 30 seconds, and then that would be it, more or less. And I think now what a lot of advertisers are doing with the Super Bowl, are still running the ad because it's still a mass vehicle, but also using that and then activating it somehow online, whether that's though Facebook or Twitter or having a contest. There's some ongoing conversation with the consumer that happens.

MONTAGNE: Well, let's use a hugely successful ad from last year to break this down just a little bit. It started out on TV, and then it migrated to the - then it showed up on the Internet. People sent it to each other. People sought it out because they heard about it. It's the Old Spice ad "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like."

(SOUNDBITE OF OLD SPICE COMMERCIAL)

MONTAGNE: (as Old Spice Guy) Hello, ladies. Look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn't me. But if he stopped using lady-scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he's me.

MONTAGNE: So I think the reason this ad was so successful is that, first of all, it was just hilariously funny. You know, he starts in the bathroom. He's wearing nothing but a towel, and he's got chiseled abs and he's a great-looking guy, and he says hello, ladies. And then it goes from there. He moves from his bathroom onto a beach, and then it ends with "I'm on a horse." And it's sort of absurd. And I think that's why it just captured everybody's imagination. And I think it was one of the rare examples from the last few years of an ad that, you know, you'd walk into your hairdresser or whoever, and they had seen it. That TV commercial then became an online phenomenon. It was, you know, watched by tens of millions of people online, and then you had countless parodies. They had people who...

MONTAGNE: Which - parodies, which speak, of course, to today, people want to interact.

MONTAGNE: And in the case of Old Spice, according to the agency, they pointed to a lot of different metrics. But at the end of the day, they also reported 107 percent sales increase by the time the TV campaign and the online campaign had run their course.

MONTAGNE: We've been talking about certain ways of participating. There's also another level, and that's literally, physically with - interacting with the product. There's an online test drive from Mitsubishi.

MONTAGNE: Yeah. That was the really interesting example. Mitsubishi and their agency created this means by which you could - sitting at home in your underwear - do a test drive. And that's not a virtual test drive, like not pretend to drive a car on your computer. That's easy. This was actually - you could control a physical car that was driving around a track by sitting at home. And I think now the most interesting campaigns are bringing the digital and physical worlds together.

MONTAGNE: How is the industry, Madison Avenue - I'm thinking of the big, storied agencies. Are they adapting, or is a lot of this coming from, you know, scrappy newcomers?

MONTAGNE: A lot of the big agencies over the years became built around TV commercials. And so when the Internet happened and it meant that TV wasn't the only way to interact with people, the big agencies were slow to respond. And I think now, it's taken a little while, but big agencies are starting to do more interesting digital work. But you also have a whole new generation of, as you call them, scrappy new companies that were built post-digital revolution and that weren't built around one media.

MONTAGNE: What might we see next?

MONTAGNE: Yeah. I think it's going to be really, really interesting in the next couple of years. I think, obviously, mobile is an exploding area. And I think now with smart phones and location awareness and tablets and, you know, you've got multiple screens speaking to each other, I think you're going to see a lot of the most interesting things in advertising happening with that.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much.

MONTAGNE: Teressa Iezzi is editor of Creativity, an online publication that's part of Ad Age.

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