Ad bugs and next big thingness

A strategy reporter was mocked by an ad this week. (I guess it was inevitable that one day they would seek retribution.) The brand that schooled Jonathan Paul was Burger King, specifically the Angry Whopper microsite. Burgerking.ca/getangry features an 'Angrrrometer' which deploys face-tracking technology to gauge your rage as you yell into your webcam. And if you don't have a webcam, you get teased for your Luddite ways.

A strategy reporter was mocked by an ad this week. (I guess it was inevitable that one day they would seek retribution.) The brand that schooled Jonathan Paul was Burger King, specifically the Angry Whopper microsite. Burgerking.ca/getangry features an ‘Angrrrometer’ which deploys face-tracking technology to gauge your rage as you yell into your webcam. And if you don’t have a webcam, you get teased for your Luddite ways.

Despite the mocking, we’re happy to see Canada get some BK zaniness going on, and expect more in this vein with Taxi 2 on the case. And kudos to BK Canada for going to a value place with its messaging (see p. 8), which pundits in the U.S. decry as AWOL from the brand’s highly publicized efforts there.

It’s a positioning that certainly helped McDonald’s weather the economic woes. Now it’s upgrading the QSR experience, and in doing so, will no doubt become a competitive threat to a few new categories from coffee houses to fast-casual (see p. 12). Some ad pundits here also liked the new, more sophisticated tone of McD’s advertising recently, but thought the focus on value was a step back. However, for the more price-sensitive burger-eaters, it works.

As most things seem to boil down to, it’s all about balance. And the talk value of ‘sizzle’ tactics, as long as it’s connected to the right message, is definitely gaining weight. Curiously, the Angrrrometer is one of the first commercial uses of face-tracking, so will no doubt reap buzz. And it’s not the only tech first in this issue. While CBS and Pepsi Max may have been the first to bow a video-in-print (VIP) ad with fall show clips in Entertainment Weekly, Molson Dry is using augmented reality (AR) to spring videos out of beer bottles. An exercise that began with cold-triggered ink on ‘party bottles’ went way beyond cool when Cossette Montreal added a downloadable app to the equation to uncap animated messages when the bottle is exposed to a webcam (see p. 9).

Given the number of ‘firsts,’ we thought sussing out the Next Big Thing(s) – brands on the brink, agencies on the cusp – for this issue’s report would be easy. Ha.

We looked at awards shows for signs of Next Big Thingdom on the agency front. But that seemed a little last-decade as criteria. We also had a big whack of NBTs from the realms of media, research and brands. But while all had great potential, it seemed too narrow an approach.

Ultimately, we took a different tack. We looked at the issues and trends underpinning success – or failure. Then we looked at the companies who have solved some common challenges, and/or are on the right path.

Since earned media is really the Next Big Thing in media, we chose to focus on audience, and the kind of programs that truly engage while generating their own PR. For instance, we profile Mazda’s Quebec-based ’33 Keys’ alternate reality game as the posterchild case for this: the players kept the game afloat after the program had wrapped and the prizes were doled out.

We also included the new ways that CMOs are listening to their customers in the Next Big Thing portfolio. While listening to all those posts and tweets is nothing new, understanding what they mean for brands looking for deeper conversations is definitely a NBT.

On the brand front, we focused on a few that had developed their own unique formula for winning loyal fans, including hot teen fashion retailer Aritzia’s charming old-school clienteling.

Ultimately, we went from a laundry list of contenders to a select smattering of interesting ideas and models, curated with an eye towards uncovering an idea or two to steal (start on p. 41).

Perhaps we should have just put out a tweet or analyzed Google searches for predictive trends and saved ourselves a lot of debate. Maybe next (big thing) time.

cheers, mm

Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy, Media in Canada and stimulant

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