PlaceVine Launches The Brand Integration Service

October 21, 2008

This past Monday, my friends at PlaceVine moved out of Beta to launch their Web-Based Service to connect Marketers to Brand Integration Opportunities in Film, TV, and New Media.  Here is the announcement.  Congrats to both Adam and Greg (the company co-founders).

October 20, 2008.  PlaceVine today announced the conclusion of its successful beta and the general availability of The Brand Integration Service, a networked information service that facilitates brand integration transactions across film, television, and the web.  The company connects content producers that have opportunities for product placement and paid sponsorships, to agencies and brands seeking these opportunities.

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A Brand Manager’s Take on MySpace Music

September 25, 2008

If you haven’t heard by now, the much-anticipated MySpace Music is officially live after getting EMI to come onboard as the final major label on the site.  Though they still don’t have a CEO in place, they do have a rumored $2 billion valuation and some serious buzz at launch.  All the usual tech bloggers like ReadWriteWeb and Techcrunch have great summaries of the site so I won’t go into a rundown here.  Instead, I want to provide the perspective of a Brand Manager looking at this as a way to digitally connect with consumers.

First a little background since I have a pretty long history with MySpace.

  • For starters, when I was working as an Assistant Brand Manager on Secret, we did one of the first-ever CPG campaigns on the site, which included co-branded music page with a then unknown artist named Rihanna.
  • Second, I have some very good friends who work at MySpace, thanks in part to the above campaign
  • Finally, I actually met my girlfriend on MySpace, a surprising fact that has been pretty useful in games of “two truths and a lie.”

So what all this means is that I have a soft spot for MySpace and I’m usually pulling for them with new initiatives.  Thankfully on this latest program, they gave me plenty of ammunition to cheer about.

Here are my thoughts:

MySpace’s key to success will be capitalizing on their brand equity of “discovery”:  When I hear about a new band, MySpace is always the first place I go.  No matter if the band is signed to a major or a complete undiscovered, I know there is a 99% chance they have a MySpace where I will be able to hear a few of their songs.  Theoretically I could do the same with iTunes but it has always been hit or miss if they have new bands.  In the short-term, MySpace won’t be able to win by just promoting big, new releases.  Instead, they neeed to focus on their equity of discovery and promote the up and coming bands like crazy.

MySpace Music won’t win over marketers if it is just another “banner ad” media buy: There has been a lot of debate about the CPM’s MySpace will need to charge in order to make this ad-supported format work.  At the heart of the debate is the fact that current social networking media buy CPM’s are extremely low.  The fact is that if MySpace treats this program like more banner ad media inventory, then they have already lost.  What they need to do is create truly compelling, holistic campaigns that tie bands to brands.  The first appeal of MySpace to me 4 years ago as a markter was that MySpace gave me access to artists I couldn’t afford to sign individual deals with.  They were the gateway for me associating with some amazing music.  MySpace needs to leverage that strength to create some really compelling marketing campaigns that in the end make CPM’s irrelevent.   The type of advertising that Pandora offers on their site is a start, but MySpace needs to go much, much further than that.  Create marketing programs that exist on and off the web. made a brilliant move partnering with MySpace and providing DRM-Free Music: Honestly until I read about the deal with MySpace Music, I didn’t even know that Amazon offered music downloads.  Now they are going to be a click away whenever I listen to new music.  However, the key to this deal working out for them as well, will be point #1 above.  If Amazon can become the place to buy new, up and coming music, then they can put a serious dent into iTunes market share.  When I hear about a band like Benjamin Del Shreve, I want to be able to go straight to their MySpace page, listen to their songs and buy them if I want.  I want to stop having to flip a coin in the hopes that iTunes might carry the band.

MySpace Music needs to bring the social back to music:  In order for MySpace Music to truly be revolutionary, I think they need to bring the social back to music.  Fred Wilson over at A VC has talked at length about his love of mix tapes and MySpace seems to be listening.  But they need to avoid having MySpace Music be a walled garden where how I listen to and share music is limited.  Don’t make me go to MySpace to use your service.  Let me download an Adobe Air player for my desktop.  Also make it easy for me to share my favorite music with my friends.  Give me a widget on my blog showing my playlist.  Hell, find a way to let that same widget live on Facebook since to me Facebook and MySpace aren’t competitors.  MySpace needs to not make the horrible mistake of acting like a portal and forgetting that the future of the web is social media…not isolation.

Treat MySpace Music like a brand and hire accordingly:  As a huge music fan, I see a lot of potential in MySpace Music.  But I also see them making a couple of mistakes that could have major negative impacts on the site being as revolutionary as they want.  In my opinion, the best thing they could do is hire a CEO who gets not only the Social Web, but also Brand Marketing.  MySpace Music needs to act like a brand, not an Internet Portal.  Don’t just hire a web guy…and please don’t hire a media/music person.  Get someone that can build this into the brand that it has the potential to be.

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Entourage pairs up with Whrrl in a great partnership

September 8, 2008

I’m a big fan of brands and media properties partnering together, especially when they have a common equity that can make the partnership even more powerful.  That is just the reason I love this latest deal between location-based service Whrrl and HBO’s Entourage (which looks to be another great campaign by the team at Deep Focus).  In the partnership, the five major characters from the show have profiles listing the favorite places in Los Angeles, along with a short description of why the restaurant / bar / place is important to their lives.  Whirrl & Entourage promote this integration as:

“It’s all about who you know and where you go.  These guys not only live the lifestyle, they define it.  Take a look back at the Hollywood hotspots where it all happened.”

Talk about a great way of combining equities.  Whrrl is trying to establish itself under the tagline of “The people you know, the places they go.”  What better way to build this equity than by leveraging a show about a group of friends that includes more than its fair share of cameos of LA hotspots.  And Entourage gets to build a Brand Experience, extending it behind being just a 30 minute TV show on once a week.

Deals like this are the way for Web 2.0 to create a revenue stream.  And deals like this are how brands can play in the sandbox without relying on banner ads or other interruption marketing techniques

In fact, these types of partnerships might just be the future of digital marketing.

Brands need to build an experience…they need to create Brand Utility for consumers.  Nike was able to do it for shoes and sporting equipment.  Now Entourage & Whrrl show it is possible for TV shows and Web 2.0 companies.  How is your brand going to create Brand Utility and become a service to your consumer?

Gillette and EA Sports launch the Champions of Gaming Tournament

August 29, 2008

Gillette announced yesterday they are teaming up with video game maker EA Sports to launch the Gillette-EA Sports Champions of Gaming competition that will match gamers against some of the top athletes in sports including Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Derek Jeter

The Gillette — EA Sports Champions of Gaming — the world’s largest multi-sport gaming tournament — will officially launch in late October and provide gamers the opportunity to compete against others from around the world for the chance to be named a Global Champion of Gaming. The live global finals will be conducted in Tampa, Florida, in January 2009, with the Global Champions in each gaming category competing against one of the Gillette Champions — Gillette’s group of global sports superstars that includes Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Derek Jeter. Gamers will be able to play via Xbox 360 Live on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, NASCAR 09, Madden NFL 09, NBA Live 09 and EA Sports FIFA Soccer 09. More information about the Gillette — EA Sports Champions of Gaming will be available after October 15, 2008, at

The official press release had this to say about the partnership:

“Gillette and EA Sports represent the best in grooming and gaming, and this partnership is a natural extension of our ongoing efforts to engage guys through their competitive nature and their passions, including sports,” said Peter Clay. “We’ll be working together to reach consumers with unique programs such as the Gillette-EA Sports Champions of Gaming, a global tournament that will offer gamers the opportunity to compete against the best in the world and then take on the Gillette Champions and other sports legends to see if they have what it takes to be the best.”

Not enough brands are leveraging the tremendous power of gaming to connect with their consumers.  Personally I am really excited to get involved with this.  I doubt P&G employees will be eligible to win (usual rules for promotions), but I’ll still be taking my shot on the Xbox 360 in Madden 09 just for the fun of it [btw, my Xbox 360 Live handle is DKnoxMU if want to play a game].

Benjamin Del Shreve – Great band to check out

May 31, 2008

If you are looking for some new music, check out Benjamin Del Shreve. Based out of Fayetteville, AR, it is the solo effort of the former front man for GS Megaphone. They are one of those great bands you have never heard of. My favorite lyric on their album is “Talk to the girl that intimidates you…pretend that you are brilliant & charming.”

Weezer creates a great homage to Viral

May 27, 2008

How many of these great moments in Viral/Online video history can you recognize? Stellar video, especially for Geek Marketers/Weezer fans like myself.

Liberty City vs New York City

May 14, 2008

Ever since I got it last week, I have been spending way too much time on Grand Theft Auto IV (thanks in large part to my girlfriend being out of town).  In fact, the playing time counter in the game just makes me feel guilty whenever I look at it.  But all kidding aside, I just stumbled across this amazing side by side comparison on Flickr of pictures from the game and real life pictures of New York City.  I knew the guys at Rockstar were damn impressive…I just didnt full appreciate it till i saw these pics.  No wonder the game did over $500MM in sales in the first week.