MiCpicks: Danny Shenkman’s ‘Three Things You Should Know About …’

The 2008 Next Media Star winner has his own sniff test for what's remarkable in the mediaverse - one that steers clear of ubiquitous terms like 'engagement,' 'out-of-the-box,' 'Web 2.0' and 'Twitter.'

Every week MiC invites Canada’s media gurus to share their thoughts on what’s noteworthy in the mediaverse. Today’s guest curator is Danny Shenkman, the 2008 strategy Next Media Star winner. Formerly of Zed Digital, he’s now an e-channel brand manager at a leading pharmaco, a post he’s held since February. Here are three things that have the attention of the 20-something former digital media account supervisor.

The trouble with writing about remarkable media campaigns is that there is very little media out there worth making a remark about. That’s not to say that there aren’t fantastically executed media campaigns in Canada or abroad, but there isn’t much going on that I feel the need to share with my non-media industry friends. No matter how glossy your custom publishing supplement is, or how many consumer touchpoints your campaign has, I’m not rushing home to tell someone about it, and that’s basically my sniff test for remarkability. So I’ll expand on some of the things I’ve been talking about lately, and while I can’t say whether or not they’ll be remarkable for you, I at least promise that none of the following words will be mentioned: ‘engagement,’ ‘viral,’ ‘out-of-the-box,’ ‘Web 2.0,’ ‘customer experience,’ ’360-degree campaign,’ ‘integration’ or ‘Twitter.’

Pearl Jam & Target do the evolution of music promotion

Unfortunately for me, Pearl Jam’s plans for releasing their new album will subject me to two of my least favourite groups of people: those that say that Pearl Jam hasn’t put out a good album since Vitalogy, and those who pronounce the name of US retail giant Target with a French accent.

I won’t turn this into a Wikipedia page for Pearl Jam’s corporate history, which is interesting in and of itself, but to make a long story short, the band has decided that it is going to go without a record label for their upcoming album after almost 20 years with Sony labels, and instead has signed independent distribution and promotional deals with an online retailer, a mobile partner, a gaming company and Target.

The whole thing just oozes genuine business cool for me. Just as this album news was breaking, they coincidentally appeared on Conan’s debut Tonight Show episode and revealed Cameron Crowe as the director for the band’s Target commercial. So what’s remarkable about this? For the first time since Radiohead’s In Rainbows was released almost two years ago, my friends and I are actually talking about purchasing an album.

TSN2: Dropping a deuce on the face of Toronto sports fans

I’d like to point to TSN2 as a example of a remarkably poor use of modern media. Consider that while CTV has been selling agencies and clients around Canada on how they’ll be able to provide unprecedented Olympics coverage to Canadians with an extremely diverse media mix, back in Toronto, they couldn’t sell TSN2 to the people who were actually willing to buy it. So what do I get now that Rogers and CTV have come to an agreement? Off The Record three times a day, Grand Prix darts and drag racing. Why did I want this channel so badly? Oh yeah, it’s because TSN cherry picked a half dozen of its most desirable baseball and basketball games to put there for seemingly no other reason than to generate demand for something that is undesirable 99% of the time.

I don’t mind if you write off the above as the whiny complaints of an ornery consumer, but what I find particularly remarkable from a marketing sense is how little TSN did to communicate with a mobilized and passionate fan base. Facebook had over 2,500 people who either joined groups to bash TSN2 or sign online petitions, and there were countless blogs and forums (including one on the Raptors website) ripping the channel and parent company to shreds. With countless TV, print and online media outlets, what did CTV do to respond to questions and frustrations of its unsatisfied customers over eight and a half months? Nothing much. One hopes they’ll be a much more agile media conglom come February’s Olympics.

Dear Jane, I feel like I know you

This has been making the email rounds the last couple of weeks, and I thought it was a neat take on ‘A Day in the Life of a Consumer’ (dubbed a ‘brand-timeline portrait’). Basically, a Toronto blogger, who writes under the pseudonym Jane, decided to keep track of the brands she was exposed to, and then presented those brands to her readers in chronological order of exposure over the course of her day.

After reading several of Jane’s other blog postings, I genuinely feel that I got a truer sense of who she is from the logos she posted than from anything she’s written about herself using actual words (and I don’t mean that as a slight to her writing talents). I know what’s in her bathroom, what she eats for breakfast, where she buys her clothes, where she eats, what she drinks and her sleeping habits. I even know she has a cat and that she really seems to dig prophylactics.

The remarkable part, however, is that this one post of hers did a better job of summarizing social networking for me than anyone has ever done before. People communicate more effectively and more honestly through their consumption habits than they do through normal casual conversation. I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t see what’s so special about communicating in 140-character bursts, but I suppose the value is that you subconsciously create a quasi-brand-timeline portrait for the people you follow or for your friends. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that social networking has allowed us to understand the human condition through osmosis per se, but even for those of you who really don’t get social networking, hopefully you can at least see the value in providing people who take an interest in you with a new layer of social appreciation. Check it out for yourself here.

Note from the Editor: The opinions expressed are Danny’s personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of MiC, and for the hell of it I’ll just say ‘opinions’ one more time in this sentence.