When I was a kid, we used to gather around the radio and listen t the shortwave broadcasts of the Santa tracking by NORAD. Since Sydney was 5, we have been going online to track Santa and watch the videos of him flying around the world. Once he enters US airspace, it's off to bed so he can deliver all of her presents...and I think that this year, Sydney will be pretty happy with what Santa brings!
Do you know the story of NORAD tracking Santa? I was able to read the story about how it started and it's pretty interesting! This could've ended in 1955, had Col. Shoup simply told the first child that he called the wrong number, but instead he went with it and now it's a great tradition. If you've never been to the site, you should check it out. A big congrats to all of the people who make Santa tracking possible.
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number.
Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born. In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command, known as NORAD. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.
NORAD carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa's location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.
NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible. Hundreds of volunteers spend part of their Christmas Eve at the Santa Tracking Operations Center answering phones and emails to provide Santa updates to thousands of inquiring children worldwide.
If you look around, there are plenty of companies that will tell you they can create videos that will go viral for you. And since the birth of youtube, that's been the holy grail of marketers -- get a video to go "viral."
Arguably, the first video to be called a viral sensation was the Evolution of Dance, which as of today, has received 158,913,650 views. It currently sits at number 8 on Youtube's most viewed videos list. It was a huge success when it came out four years ago and everyone was talking about it. Contrast Evolution of Dance 2, which has received less then 10% of the original views and think about how many times you've talked about Judson Laipply since the original video came out. Yes, Judson Laipply. That's the name of the person in the Evolution of Dance video. Bet you didn't know that.
Currently the number one video of all times on youtube with 410,894,455 views, is Baby by Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris. This video has racked up an incredible number of views in just 10 months, which is pretty impressive. Justin Bieber may be one of the few who move from one hit wonder to success via youtube.
Another thing to note in the top 10 list of youtube videos is that only 2 of them are UGC. Charlie bit my finger - again! sits at #3 with 259,233,077 views and Hahaha sits at #10 with 150,711,439 views. These 2 are almost certainly one hot wonders since it was the circumstances that made them hits. not the content alone. The other 8 are all professionally made pieces of content.
I sometimes wonder if we in the advertising business are really in-tune with what consumers are really thinking. If you look at One Club / Best of the Digital Decade > Top 10, you'll see that Subservient Chicken is at the top of the list. (To be honest, I've always been miffed about this because I used a similar technology about four years earlier, but hey, their content was more fun.) But, when I talk to students and people outside of the ad industry, none of them have ever heard of Subservient Chicken. And while it did a great deal for Crispin, I'm not sure what it did for Burger King.
So decide what you want to be. Sure, there's value in being a one hit wonder and it's easier, but I think there's more value in being something better then that. But you shouldn't confuse being a one hit wonder with being a long term success. That takes a lot more work.
Ever have one of those ideas that you love and you know that one day, you'll find a way to make it happen? Well, the World Premiere Cafe is one of those ideas with me. Working with Greg Beck, I originally came up with the idea in late 1999, when we were working with a number of companies who were exploring themed restaurants. They all wanted a restaurant, the problem was that most of them didn't want to be in the restaurant business.
As I looked at what was happening in the space, I thought about the road theaters that I knew, places where road companies brought in the entire show into a basically empty theater. The core tools where there for them, like lighting, rigging, etc., but they would bring in all of the sets, etc., rather then have them made there.
So the World Premiere Cafe was designed as like a road house for themed restaurants. As described in the original deck created in 2000:
These locations will act as a “road house” for our ‘eatertainment’ sponsors, allowing them to have a complete themed restaurant and entertainment complex without the costs and expense of owning a permanent facility.
The big idea was that sponsors would sign on for specific time lengths (generally one calendar quarter) and we'd recreate the entire experience for them. For example, we'd:
Re-theme the interior designs for the sponsor product.
Rename menu items for the sponsor and create several key menu items based on the brand needs.
Re-theme all staff wardrobe based on brand identity.
Run promotional programs in conjunction with sponsors.
I saw the World Premiere Cafe as a 350 seat, full service restaurant with a 45 seat lounge, with a balcony area and VIP seating and a stage for performances and/or demonstrations. It would use lots of interactive technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and others, to create unique guest experience. Table-mounted touch screens allow for ordering food & merchandise and playing interactive games, both with guests inside and outside the restaurants.
It's one of my favorite concepts and given my stand on how importance place is, I'm confident that one day, I'll see it come to fruition!
The Sydney Games were happening, so I added them to the concept
December is home to two of my favorite geek events, the Building Virtual Worlds (BVW) show at CMU and the ITP Winter Show 2010 at NYU. I'll be posting updates from both events as they happen.
The BVW show is up first, this Saturday in Pittsburgh. My sources tell me that there are some pretty compelling experiences this year, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the students have created. Sydney with be with me, and I'll be posting her reactions to the show as well. Usually they open up the Entertainment Technology Center labs as well, so I'm really looking forward to seeing everything they've created this year.
If you're in Pittsburgh, you should try to see the show. They're doing the performance twice and the 1 PM is open to the public. It's well worth the time! And if you're going to at the show, make sure you say hi to Sydney & me.
On Saturday, December 11, 2010 at Purnell Center's Chosky Theater, we at the Entertainment Technology Center will present the annual Building Virtual Worlds Show. From virtual reality to audience interaction and everything imaginable in between, this live showcase of the most impressive student work from the semester is truly a must-see event! Over the course of this semester, BVW students are collaborating in four-person interdisciplinary teams to create a series of virtual worlds, each of which must be completed within a one to three week time period. We look forward to sharing a variety of these worlds with you. The BVW Show is open to the public at 1 pm EST. Hotel and and travel information can be found here
I recently wrote about the Fast Company Future of Advertising article in Challenging Conventional Thinking and Forbes has a follow-up piece interviewing advertising students about what they think about the future of advertising.
It's interesting, I spend a lot of time with college students and frequently what I hear from agencies about what college students are doing is at odds with what my students tell me they are doing. When the industry was talking about how the future of advertising is Second Life, the majority of the students I taught didn't even know what it was. Just recently, I've been asking my students about their use of things like Twitter & Foursquare, and many of them aren't using either.
So what did these students see as the future of advertising?
Being multicultural; crowdsourcing; adapting to the changing media landscape; more interactive; breaking down the silos; sparking movements; ability to change how things are done; able to react quickly; senior people looking to junior people for trends.
Maybe I've just been looking at the future of advertising for a long time (I started exploring how VR would change the business back in '91), or maybe I'm just cynical about the ad biz. But did the students really say anything that you haven't heard hundreds of times, at meetings, industry events and hallway chatter all over the industry? It's good that they see a bright future and are enthusiastic about working in the ad business, but there's little new and actionable here.
Don't get me wrong. Nothing energizes me more then teaching and talking to students. I would love to teach full time just to be in that energy flow. As I've said for years, even with clients you love, you still spend most of your day overcoming "no." With students, they're always asking why not. It's a very positive place to be.
I say quite frequently that the ad industry is sometimes too in love with the shiny bauble, the newest, latest thing. But too often it's not about experimenting to try new things, it's just jumping on the bandwagon, so that someone can say "Look, we're cool too." And too often, in the rush to follow the new, we forget about the basics. That it's about creating compelling, authentic and relevant brand experiences. That it's about companies that make good products and treat their customers and employees well. That's pretty hard to do.
It's important for the ad industry to take stock of what it does and how it works. It's important to listen to new, young voices and see how they can help us reenergize the advertising business. But let's not throw away the industry because new technologies are available. We've had these conversations every time a new tool has entered the industry.