Yesterday I bumped into an old friend, Todd Herman, at Pershing Square. We reminisced about the time he called on me at TBWA\Chiat\Day about an idea he had to essentially create a portal for advertising. Although I mentioned to him my skepticism about whether people would voluntarily watch ads, I mentioned to him that this idea could single-handedly give the ad industry the shot in the arm it so badly needed.
Over the years that followed, I saw countless imitators attempt to get similar ideas off the ground, but they never did.
And then YouTube came along and offered up another short term solution to a much larger problem i.e. the opportunity for ads to enjoy a new lease on life e.g. doing its best to justify the gargantuan Super Bowl spends for at least 3-5 days before and after the fact.
And now, we get to see one of crayon's clients, Firebrand strut its stuff and test the hypothesis that advertising in context is really not the serial offender we thought it to be. Actually that's not Firebrand's mission per se - Firebrand believes in the power of commercial culture or put differently, the fact that commercials are inextricably part of pop culture. Whazzzup? You tell me :)
When I first walked into the Firebrand conference room, I came head-to-head with Roman Vinoly, co-founder of Firebrand. I knew I liked him straight away because we challenged each other throughout the meeting and when I handed him a copy of "Life after the 30-second spot", he didn't throw it back at me which was a good sign. In fact, we had more in common than one might have thought and at the core, there was the fervent belief that great storytelling would always have a place.
Roman took that one step further. He made sure that great storytelling or even great advertising had a home. That home is Firebrand.
In short, Firebrand will house and curate the best of the best and, by surrounding the Apple's, Nike's, Sony's of the world with layers of interactivity, incentivization and conversation, maybe...just maybe...the 30-second spot and its richer (60+ sec) and poorer (15 secs) cousins will enjoy a new lease on life.
Here's some more information, courtesy of Greg's blog:
It's a new, opt-in entertainment and marketing destination that gives consumers interactive access to their favorite brands, products and promotions. They program the best and coolest TV commercials the way MTV used to program music videos (with "Commercial Jockeys," even - think MTV's vee-jays with a serious jones for good ads) and are slated to be the first multi-platform network to "go live" simultaneously on television, the web and mobile.
What's the difference between YouTube and Firebrand? For one thing...ironically....clutter. YouTube is - at best - an interim solution, which favors "viral" i.e. exceptions to the norm; Firebrand on the other hand is self-contained and offers a focused and singular alternative solution. Is it for everyone? Of course not. Commercials as commercials are a losing value proposition, but permission-based commercials (laden with offers and adjacent relevant and utilitarian information) are arguably closer to being consumed as content.
In LA30, I introduced R.U.E. - Relevance, Utility and Entertainment (could also be called Engagement I guess) As far as Firebrand is concerned, it's all inside...
This morning was the official Firebrand pre-launch, which the crayonistas attended. So did Daryl Ohrt from Plaid and Brandflakes for Breakfast. All that's left for me to say is best of luck and don't forget to check them out and judge for yourselves. Sign up here to be alerted when Firebrand launches (October 22nd)
Here are some additional links for your browsing pleasure: