Frank: For our continuing series on The Future of Content, Red Touch Media had a chance to sit down with one of the countries leading consultants, Peter Weedfald, the president of Gen One Ventures. You know, the first time I heard about wearable tech was 7 or 8 years ago and Beth Comstock had brought a bunch of people together at GE and had the executives in and everyone in the room was talking, Oh what was that! You open up your coat and there’s going to be a monitor in there, everybody’s going to have pouches and there’s going to be stuff stuck in them and you’re going to walk around like Batman with a utility belt. What is that? You know, we’ve talked a little bit about the tech for babies, there’s a whole fitness tech thing that’s sort of wearable. If you put a wrist band on it tells you what your heart rate is, that’s wearable tech. But what is wearable tech? How important is it? Where is it going? Why does an individual care about it?
Peter: So first of all, Beth Comstock has done a great job and I’m actually honored to have a chance to work with her now, she’s actually helping to transform the speed of our company. For us to think about technology, and digital technology in all upper divisions, I believed of course, she was ahead at the time. She was a very smart harbinger, but the reality is is that the timing now is perfect because 7 years ago, 8 years ago, we didn’t have this sort of social networking and social preference. You know, consumers have actually changed quite a bit. They now are feeling very good about themselves. They’re looking at themselves as publishers in content, right? And they’re looking at the world differently. So when I think of wearables today, I think wearables are going to do extremely well because consumers today are very different than they were before. They love content, they love the published content, they love the dignity of knowledge and they love to be keeping up to date on everything and if you think about wearables, the first thing you want to keep up to date with, to your example, is self. Self is really important, I want to know what my heart rate is, I want to be able to communicate with my babies. We used the example of communicating with a baby. I want to know whether or not my mother, who is elderly, is being taken care of, it’s easier if they’re wearables than it is a device that you have to walk over to. You’ve got to pick it up, you’ve got to email somebody. That will look very old very very soon when wearables come about. And I’ll give you another example of a wearable that i’m really fired up about, which is contact lenses. So when the contact lens actually becomes a true node and you can actually disseminate and propagate information back and forth through there and that contact lens is connected to, you know, a button on your shirt and the button on the shirt says that I have a relationship 1 to 1 with Levi Strauss and I love Levi Strauss. Infact, everyone that I know in my social networking, we love Levi Strauss and we love Tumi. Then, when Levi says, would you like us to tell you when something new comes out? You’re walking down the street and information is sent to your eyeball, based on the fact that you have a wearable here. And now, you have information and now you can have a relationship and say I want to buy it.
Frank: So that’s sort of a next gen RFID situation and a heads up display inside your..
Peter: But you have to view it that way, right? And I mean the immaturity and maturity, you know, if you go back to the days when I was, they were mainframes and mini’s and there were no desktop PC’s and so yeah, we’ve got to develop desktop PC’s, but the reality is..
Frank: As a matter of fact, back then it was an acoustic couple with a dumb terminal that was hooked to the mainframe. That was your desktop PC. Right, but to your point about batteries, if somebody wasn’t thinking that we need to build that display and now make it flat and now, how can we move it mobley, well we need a battery to be able to do that and how can we connect it all together? So, I’m just saying that what’s happened to consumers, it’s almost like a perfect storm. We’ve been training consumers to want the content. We’ve been training consumers to use all these mobile devices to buy right now. To give your credit card, to get information, to connect with your friends, to send pictures. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, all of that. And so, what’s the next step after that? Where are we going now? And I believe that wearables is the next great horizon, vertically and horizontally.
Frank: It also seems like, it’s the perfect interface to social media application.
Peter: Yes, and you know if you look at your chops in your lifetime and you look at my chops, they’re so complimentary, right? Because it’s not like I’m rambling on and i’ve never run a 3.5 billion dollar business for Samsung electronics in North America, I have and I’ve lived through 18-24 hour days on weekends worrying about everything we’re talking about. So, it’s wonderful to just sit here right now and have this conversation as opposed to someone pointing at me going, “Come on come on! we’ve got to go sell more product!”.
Frank: What are we supposed to do about this? That’s another thing. So super bowl 2 years ago, lights go out, Oreo creates this wonderful moment in time that was clearly created some other time. It couldn’t have possibly been created at that very moment. Although it might’ve been, there’s conflicting stories about that. With the, you can dunk even in the dark. It goes out, boom! immediately becomes a smash. Within 24 hours every marketer in America was talking about real time marketing and I was going like well geez, isn’t that what we’ve done all of our lives as marketers? Isn’t that exactly what we’ve done, except we’ve thought about it a little longer? Especially journalists, who have a way of looking at something. So, the point i’m getting at is, is real time marketing just an application of journalism, is it a tool that will actually work or is it something that can be easily.. You know this, it can be easily misunderstood and mishandled and create some really bad situations.
Peter: That’s a really powerful question and I’m not limp-wristed, I’m not of the faint of heart, but to really answer that question it starts with adversity versus non adversity, meaning- The reason Oreo did that well with it is because their product, their content is so well received and so mature and it’s been around for a really long time. And by the way it’s also not controversion. It’s not controversial, but the goal is always to differ the cost of time based competition without the benefit of product differentiation. The goal is to defer the cost of time based competition. So Oreo has been advertising and marketing their product for 20, 30, 50, 70 years. I’m coming out with a new cookie, i’m going to try to compete with Oreo, right? How in gods name am I going to defer all the people who loves Oreo’s, all the advertising that’s done for 30 years, billions of dollars, all the relationships, all the retail stores, all of that without the benefit of product differentiation. So holistically from an adverse standpoint, this thing called real time marketing for them was just simply people saying, “I love Oreo, that was cool. Hey guys did you see that about Oreo?!”
Frank: And by the way, it was extension of brand through reach of frequency.
Peter: That’s right, that’s back to our point of reach of frequency. Size, color, location, reach and frequency. So, it depends on who you are and where you are. So for example, i’m so tired about hearing about, with all due respect to the world, how great the Coke brand is. Excuse me, McFly! There’s 7 billion! 20 billion coke cans across the world!
Frank: I was just thinking exactly the same thing and I was going to say you know what, even Coke can screw it up, they did it with.
Peter: Coke Zero.
Frank: Coke Zero! Yeah yeah yeah.
Peter: They also did it with new Coke. And by the way, that’s content. That’s doubled down content. So, the reality of the messaging to your point about what Oreo did, which was messaging. To me, it has to be ambien, the conversation has to be ambien. Meaning, it has to be about..
Peter: Well, organic and ambien. Ambient meaning 360 degrees, I can’t talk about messaging if I can’t self evaluate the content first. The content for me is the cookie and if people in the masses love the cookie and you can come up with an idea to do something that’s different than the standard bill of fare of advertising, then all of a sudden people call it real time marketing.
Frank: And they’ll open up their eyes and go oh, that’s different. Actually in fact, it’s not so different.
Peter: But there are people who’ve done marketing and spent 3 million dollars on a super bowl, in 15 seconds, 30 seconds. And then you go away and you don’t remember what the product is. You have no idea, and I ask people all the time about this real time marketing. I said did you watch TV last night? Yes, What’d you watch? Murmur. Give me the name of one TV commercial. Back to reach and frequency that works, inevitably the only thing anyone can remember is Geico and Progressive and the reason is..
Frank: And Aflac.
Peter: And Aflac. Ehh a little bit of Aflac. But because it was about consistency, frequency, size, color and location. They pounded it, they pounded it, they pounded it, they pounded it, you remember. So, Oreo did the same thing, but Oreo did it over 50 years. So look, I believe in real time marketing, if you want to call it that. But it goes back to me which is called time to volume.
Frank: You know it’s funny, there were a lot of studies about the last super bowl that people remembered the most, the promos for the network that the super bowl ran off because they kept running the same promo over and over again. Knowing that at any given 15 minute period of time the audience had shifted a little bit. So, it’s like morning television. Nobody watches morning television more than about 7 minutes at a time. If you run the same promo every 7 minutes, a different group of people will see that promo, reach and frequency.
Peter: So think back, you asked such a powerful question I’ve got to go back to it one more time. So the commonality about the super bowl, a billion people watching a super bowl is football. And there’s this group of people who have, sometimes are huge football fans and sometimes they’ve been sitting on a peripheral, but everyone’s there for football, right? And there’s an expectation about the content of that game, but what’s crazy, which isn’t disciplined in a lot of the other real time marketing. Everyone expects one of a kind, fresh, never seen before advertising. Like, you literally are dialing in because you know Budweiser is going to run a commercial that they’ve never ran before.
Frank: And it’ll make you cry.
Peter: Right, and it’ll make you cry, or you’re going to see Go Daddys going to do something really whacky. That to me is the content provisions that need to be articulated and more disciplined across products, technology and advertising that I think are just a huge void and huge opportunity around.
Frank: Under promise and over deliver.
Peter: So i’m going to give you an example of that, I created Tv commercials. I did it for Samsung, I did it for circuit city, I know what they cost. When I joined Circuit City, which of course went Chapter 11. I left 2 years before they went Chapter 11 because there was big problems there, but when I got there they were paying 4.5 million dollars to create a TV commercial. And I went, 4.5 million dollars! I need that money for the media.
Frank: Yeah they weren’t great TV commercials.
Peter: And they weren’t great TV commercials. So, what I did was I courted back down and I spent about 250,000 , which I still thought was a ton of money, but what I would do is I’d come out with 10 flavors on a particular subject with that 250, while we were spending 4.5 million dollars for one and what that did was, gave us pensity to talk about.. Sort of like Progressive, Progressive does that now, flow.
Frank: By the end it’s about flow.
Peter: It’s about flow.
Frank: As the one character that is their frequency.
Peter: That’s right, and i’ll give them credit, but the other point is is that their commercials keep changing all the time and so does Geico’s, because they have the budget to do it and that’s real time marketing.
Frank: It’s funny though, that Geico not only has the gecko, but it also has a whole other series of commercials that don’t have the gecko in them and they’re still very successful with their message.
Peter: If you think about frequency, reach and content the philosophy there is that we’re going to hit you at frequency and reach, but we’re going to keep it interesting like the super bowl. All brand new, all the time, telling stories, but there’s still a multitude of advertisers who build one commercial for 4.5 million and run the heck out of it and the second time you see it you go, I already saw it. I’ve seen that one, you don’t have to tell me it again. So you’re not building a relationship and story for the brand, for the product, for the content and a point of fact somewhere along the way you might be advertising yourself for consumers that say, I don’t want to see that commercial.
Frank: You know, then there’s the whole issue about how you utilize the internet for commercial application or, I don’t mean commercial application. I mean for the application of using television commercials on the internet. Do you put television shows on the internet? Well we already know that that doesn’t work, unless you’re doing it on Hulu or Amazon or some streaming service, you don’t put a television commercial in a banner ad or you don’t click on a television commercial, unless it’s really great content.
Peter: Right, and we’re going to go back to personalization. I see a lot of 15 second, 10 second commercials now on the free format of the internet but…
Frank: It’s a pre-roll.
Peter: Yeah, but the sad part about it is that most of the time. I’d say about 6/10 times it’s not relevant to the content that i’m about to look at.
Frank: Which is really weird because everyone will tell you that they’re going to serve you a content that is relevant to what it is you’re interested in.
Peter: So if I was interested in reading an article about what just happened with Intel at the CES show, I would have no problem just seeing a 15 second clip that talked about Edison and what the other possible is. Infact, I learned from Bill Ziff years ago that consumers that are really really really hungry and hunt for data on a particular subject, they’ll read the ads and they’ll engage with the communication and the content of the ads even greater than the editorial and that’s true and it’s never changed. That’s why PC magazine and others were successful because the advertisements were as exciting as the editorial because the advertisements talked about new products, new technology, speeds and feeds. Then in the editorial, of course separation, would talk about juxtapoz, lab based unbiased product evaluation to tell you the truth of whether or not that claim was real.
Frank: Or it was an editorial in the true editorial sense, which was an opinion.
Peter: Yeah, absolutely.
Frank: Well Peter, this has been just fantastic.
Peter: What an honor to be with you Frank.
Frank: I know, I really appreciate it. Thank you very much. We should definitely do a panel sometime. I’m Frank radice, thanks so much for watching this episode for The Future of Content, powered by Red Touch Media. If you want to see more, just click on one of these buttons.