Tag: media

16
Jan

The Future of Television

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Television was once lauded as a groundbreaking medium, but as we’ve entered an age of seemingly exponential growth in media technology, that status has become questionable. Surrounded by competition being broadcast on every screen imaginable – from sources that were previously unimaginable – to some, the perception today is that television has become slow to adapt to technology, and media companies are more interested in competition and gobbling up competitors, or monetizing views rather than charting the future of entertainment.

There are glimmers of truth in these observations, but gleams do not illuminate the totality of change going on in broadcast and cable television. Let’s step back for calculated pause. Perhaps the issue isn’t television’s tepid use of technology, but more our FOMO and impatient mindset as it concerns digital media. Our impatience is blocking our full appreciation of market conditions.

We are bombarded with hourly news about the latest digital and television content deals. We attend industry conferences where everyone is busy speculating about digital and television competition and convergence. And the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is, “when will television catch up with new models of distribution?”

But by focusing on this question, we’re not appreciating the fact that television’s history is still active and ongoing. Also, in our excitement to move forward, we may be overestimating the success of new distribution platforms. Netflix has not shared ratings for its hot shows House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black, but the buzz nevertheless, quickens the tempo of conversations. Our impatience tells us that the content is out there, but . . . what? The buzz amplifies our impatience, which feeds our prevailing mindset.

There are two ways of understanding the future of television, first from the technology side: how to best deliver content whether through VOD, SVOD or over-the-top services. Secondly, through the targeted content side: understanding what type of programming people want to consume. Most consumers are not deeply concerned with the hardware companies that control the physical gadgetry; most would also rather consume interesting and meaningful programming.

From this perspective, it’s the content that seems everywhere, and media companies are the competitive foot-draggers. At a recent New York Television week, a panelist said that there’s endless programmable content out there, but this may be a bit of an overstatement. What is out there are silos of niche audiences. The prevailing logic is that the mother brand, the larger company where television’s legacy still makes it king, is what ties them together.

And while we’re placing so much emphasis on the evolution of digital media, i.e. the second-screen, studies show that, so far, at least, viewers are using new technology either as supplemental or in partnership with traditional viewing, not as a replacement. If we look back in American economic history, during every epoch of industrial transformation, the successful companies made strategic moves while the losers acted too quickly. Caution is not always a losing strategy.

From a brand perspective, television shouldn’t lose sight of audiences, who they are and what they want. Media empires, broadcast and cable companies must forge relationships with audiences, create conversations for smart and busy viewers using new demographic, trends and ethnographic research.

Needless to say, broadcast and cable television is cautiously charting its future, and that future it is happening right now. At this moment, companies are thinking, planning and iterating how to deliver content to anyone, anywhere and across any screen. Amazing opportunities exist. You’ve got to know where to look.

30
Dec

Audiences Want Stories With Context & Connection

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Co-Founder & Director of Strategy and Research Kate Canada recently wrote an article for MediaPost about how brands can authentically provide context and connect with their audiences.

You can read the full post here, but we’ve included an extract:

Today’s audience is craving a real connection, and authentic stories that represent the changing demographics of the American landscape are one of the most powerful ways to establish that connection. Stories tap into the emotions we all share. Stories are universal ways of telling our personal view from the individual and tying it all up with what’s going on in the city, country and globe. Our job is to create stories of possibility and resonance.

I see two related opportunities for brands to meaningfully connect with audiences using story: as content for context and as content for everyday storytelling.

Content as Context

2014 was the year for telling the Big Family story, content as context. The 2014 Coca-Cola America Super Bowl spot and Honeymaid’s This is Wholesome commercial are examples of telepathic compelling campaigns; piquing our emotions without running too much in the way of sentimentality. In these spots, we see the “wide screen format” of storytelling as context. It gives the reader the emotional landscape.

Content for Everyday

The smaller but nonetheless still potent pieces of the story are what I call snap-shorts of everyday life, the smaller bits that make up our big picture. P&G’s Tide with a Problem-Solving Dad doing laundry and French-braiding his daughter’s hair; the Thank You Mom featuring kids and falling and learning with lots of support from mom; Chevy Malibu’s The Car For The Richest Guys On Earth piece or the Cheerios Here’s To Dad where the narrator looks straight into the camera and says, “We make the new rules… this is how to ‘Dad.’”

As advertisers, we are responsible for taking the constellation of social dots of demographics, sentiments and media connectivity and turning them into tactics and actions, shaping the data into meaningful ways of reaching out and engaging with consumers. In so doing, we will be able to, as David Ogilvy suggested, respectfully and empathetically become trusted partners with consumers, smart and savvy social beings who live in the world.

30
Jun

What TV Cultural Norms Can We Learn From The World Cup?

World CupThe Oishii office has been bustling with World Cup conversations. With staff members from Germany to Mexico to England to Peru, everyone has a story to share; a team and player nuances passionately mapped on the whiteboard.

In a recent NPR program, guest Felix Sanchez raised questions about what he perceived to be the racist or culturally offensive remarks made by Univision game announcers during the World Cup. Sanchez, who champions the Hispanic voice and perspective in media and culture, also raises awareness about the lack of inclusivity in content we consume.

During certain World Cup games, Sanchez argued that the racist and otherwise off-color remarks, such as “morena” and grena,” showed a lack of respect for certain players, and reflected racist perceptions about “dark skinned” peoples. While some audiences may grit their teeth and laugh off the bravado, he pointed out that other audiences might be insulted by such racially charged language. Reactions to Sanchez’s comments have fueled further outcry, forcing him to defend his criticisms:

Again, the issue is not how you have used the word “moreno” and “greña,” but how it was used in the context of this broadcast. Here the sportscaster had been calling all the players by their last names, but when it came to the Afro Latino player, he referred to him by the color of skin and gratuitously focused on his hair, essentially he said: “the black guy with the dreds.” That kind of double standard commentary is not acceptable and at a minimum raises issue of fairness and respect to Afro Latino players, and at a maximum reinforces a classist/racist/ mentality.

We think it’s important to look at the World Cup less as a spectator sport more as a moment of television cultural anthropology. How television, culture and sport are symbolic and real “screens” onto which we can see audience values, tastes, opinions and ideas intersecting and influencing one another. How cultures merge and where conversations happen. The World Cup is a great opportunity to see how television works in very powerful ways. In the United States, television audiences reflect demographic trends. Audiences are increasingly diverse and bring with them their experiences and ideologies. With this diversity comes convergence, and merging is not without its conflicts and happy accidents. Rather than label announcers, perhaps we should embrace the chaos and sit without judging. Observe and truly understand the importance of audiences in the new local-global television scape.

What are your thoughts on Sanchez’s argument? What role / responsibility do you think TV should play in this case?

04
Apr

Millennials Make Us Better Creatives

Image via blog.mindjet.com

Image via blog.mindjet.com

Many of our colleagues recently gathered in London for the PromaxBDA Europe conference. One of the talks discussed provided some insight into new data around Millennials, specifically on their hopes, dreams and trust levels.

For us in the entertainment and branding spaces, Millennials are important. Their tastes, interests and desires will directly imprint and shape our creative efforts, process and work. Depending on how young or old you skew this group, there are any number of key and actionable insights for media and entertainment. Our job is to translate these values into tangible creative and experiences. We interpret them in order to inspire and connect with Millennials in particular — and audiences in general — in a genuine and meaningful way.

According to the last Pew Research, Millennials describe themselves as motivated by the values of individuality, authenticity, optimism and integrity. At the same time, however, this group has surprisingly little trust for people and society. A scant 19% of respondents said they trusted other people and governments. This is not often seen in this way nor explicitly mentioned as a trend we should worry about. I think we should at the very least think about this paradox, and turn it into an opportunity.

How can people have so little trust and at the same time describe themselves as generally optimistic? In Psychology there’s a term called cognitive dissonance. It is a situation where a person feels uncomfortable, stressed even, because they hold two contradictory values at the same time. I want to prod us creatives into a state of “dissonance” because I think it will, in the long run, make us think and work smarter.

We shouldn’t be so sanguine about Millennials’ distrust because we are, in our unique way, functioning as institutions just like any other social or political organization. We create within the social fabric, shaping and distributing stories, ideas and values, into content. Whether we’re experimenting with the latest ad tech, native advertising or app, thinking about and understanding our cultural role, and the way we create to savvy digital natives, gives us a chance to work more intelligently and differently.

Talk about disruption. Listening to young audiences and consumers, building their trust and earning their respect — now that’s creative that I want to be a part of.

 

14
Jan

The New York Times Refresh Is About More Than Aesthetics

NYT redesignThis week, one of the world’s most respected newspapers, The New York Times refreshed and re-launched their digital platform to mostly positive reviews. Fast Company characterized the visual refresh as somewhat exciting compared to the previous decade-old design. Others pointed to the back-end changes, re-styled pages and “sections” and navigation adjustments as necessary moves to moor the company in the rough waters of decreasing sales, increased competition and slackening advertising rates for digital newspapers.

We generally like the design and navigational changes. The look and feel of the refreshed home page is less like the “swarm” of ink of the old design and presents a clean, measured and even engaging experience. With the new navigation features, scrolling through an article no longer requires clicking and reloading into new pages, which made for a choppy reading experience. But beyond the aesthetic, and even the functionality improvements of the refresh, what we find most interesting about the new site is what the changes say about the status of The Times in our culture and the newspaper world.

“We are seeing a company retool and experiment in the laboratory of design, media and branding, and in the end, this is about larger strategic issues,” Kate Canada Obregon, Oishii’s Head of Research and Strategy explained. “The New York Times is actively pursuing its once coveted leadership role in our changing world, and is using the discipline of design to get there.”

Oishii’s President and Chief Creative Officer Ish Obregon agreed, pointing out how even small details like the new smooth integration of the comments alongside the articles, which he says creates a “rich and textured” feel to the reading experience, is all part of a bigger news delivery goal. “From a design perspective, this is a very small step toward a blog look, without losing the power and stature of the new,” Ish said. “And great design strengthens the delivery of news.”

The Times has arguably been one of the most important leaders in the distribution of news. As it wields such formidable power, it also creates and shapes expectations about reading, how we get our news and how we recognize what’s important.

The New York Times redesign is a way for it to once again be a leader in reimagining news, reading and information delivery. Its role has always been to report facts, tell stories and inform us about our world, but in this new digital era, it’s also subtly taken on another role – to deliver “all the news that’s fit to print” through a fresh, innovative and powerful design harnessed through the most creative use of technologies.


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