Yahoo! Creative Conference NYC 10-19-2005

Today I went to my first creative conference in NYC in many years. Now that I am out of Yahoo, I am not in the usual invite list. But I told my buddy Jerry that I was going to be in NYC this week and he invited me.
The campaigns that were presented were in stark contrast to when I started working on creative evangelism in online advertising back in 2001. They were just incredible!
Back in 2001, the world was much different. The industry was just coming out of the slump, and online advertising will still very much a “take the print campaign and stuff it into a banner ad” mode. I and a few others went out there, armed with flash presentations with deep sexy house soundtracks, and attempted to attract the creatives back onto the internet.
The lack of understanding of the medium was very high. Nobody seemed to know what to do with the Internet, and generally creatives wanted to work on the familiar, which was print and TV commercials.
But from 2001 to the present, something drastically changed. Today’s campaigns are exponentially more sophisticated. Creatives have done a 180 and have totally embraced the interactive realm. They have really tried to understand and use every single touchpoint as a marketing vehicle.
For example, my favorite of the day was Crispin, Porter, and Bogusky’s Subservient Chicken campaign. Burger King wanted to introduce their new chicken offerings and do it in a super creative way. CPB came up with the Subservient Chicken to engage consumers in a way never done before. On the website, you can basically make the chicken do whatever you want, hence the moniker “subservient”. They also did many other things like create a subservient chicken character on Friendster.
Later, they took the chicken concept to the next level by creating an Ultimate Fighting Championship for the chicken flavors, which resulted in a DirecTV pay per view 15 minute short called Chicken Fight. The build up was such that they had a gambling site enable betting on either chicken. A feather that flew off one of the chickens was found on Ebay. Everything was marketed to build up the fight of the century.
The third instantiation of the chicken concept was creation of a rock group called Coq Roq. In marketing Burger King’s new chicken strips which looked like french fries, this rock group sang rock songs which talked about the new chicken strips. Their website enabled SMS messages, downloads of their songs on iTunes, MySpace, Garageband riffs, and the ability to dial a number on your cellphone, let it listen to a song you’re listening to, and then it would return the song name plus the band’s opinion on the song.
I love how advertising people are now looking at every single possible venue for capturing users. Instead of just creating yet another banner ad or video, they are using Friendster, MySpace, MP3 downloads, and other popular places where consumers hang out on the Internet.
It’s great to see that the evolution of advertising in the medium has grown so dramatically. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
PS. For more fun, check out Cingular’s Make Me Dance campaign and the Rainier Beer campaign.