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Original articles from Clifton Simmons.
Instagram Isn't the Only App Drawing in Marketers
When social gaming giant Zynga wrote a check to purchase OMGPOP last month, the fanfare wasn’t as big as Facebook snatching up Instagram. No, OMGPOP didn’t command a billion dollar price tag, but Zynga may have found a potential social marketing goldmine for a mere $180 million. The “draw” is the social game Draw Something. It’s Pictionary with a Facebook twist. Reportedly, over 37 million have downloaded the game worldwide and over 20 million play daily.

You Know You’d Vote For Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian is a name brand looking for a new place to land. Supposedly, she has her sights set on government as mayor of Glendale, CA. Now that the marriage jokes have run thin, the statement has given the public more ammo and they are reloading. But if Kardashian is remotely serious, maybe Glendale career politicians should pause just a moment on the side of seriousness, too. Kardashian is someone who can tweet or casually talk about political aspirations in a car ride with her sister and the whole world takes notice. What Glendale official wouldn’t love that platform? (Hell, most national officials can’t grab that kind of attention.)

Is A Fun Time-Suck Good Interactive Branding?
Have you ever been caught up in a branded interactive promotion that completely ate up your morning at work? You then send the link to your co-workers and their mornings are equally unproductive. Frankly, it’s a problem many brands would honestly like to have — online engagement that goes on and on.

Bald Barbie Doll Inspires Cancer Survivors
Demonstrating that bald is truly beautiful, toymaker Mattel announced last week that a bald Barbie doll would be created for girls dealing with hair loss. They will distribute the toy to children’s hospitals and charities in 2013.

Howling Ball Gives A Voice to Animal Rights Group
Who can resist kicking a soccer ball sitting in the middle of the sidewalk? Anyone who gave into the urge was in for a big surprise. Striking this ball caused it to howl like a dog in protest. In fact, this guerilla campaign “protested” a reported stray dog culling in the Ukraine. Euro 2012, the European football championships, is coming to Poland and the Ukraine in June. So like any good host country, they want to clean up for guests.

Heineken Opens Up Concert To Social Networking
When you go to a concert, you’re initially there for the music. Right? It’s a different story when that cute girl or guy catches your eye. If you’re lucky, you’ll exchange numbers. To kick off this year, Heineken created an event that brought audiences together and encouraged that connection by allowing concertgoers to scan each other.

Thanks T-Mobile, for the X-Mas Orgies and Flash Mobs
Give T-Mobile credit for making the holiday season memorable. You probably can recall the first time you saw their 4G holiday commercial. Pretty-in-pink T-Mobile girl, actress Carly Foulkes, takes a stroll through Santa’s workshop. The elves are singing, “Walking in an orgy wonderland…” Wait a second. Grab the DVR remote and hit rewind.

Turn ON Your Phone in a Theater
Remember when movie theaters asked you to turn off your cell phones before the movie began? Ford Focus is now asking you to keep them on and start their engines with a new interactive video. Launched in early December, Canadian film-goers now get a chance to immerse themselves in the “world’s first interactive cinema experience” with Ford Focus.

The Stunt Lego Wishes They Built
Last week, an unidentified body washed up on the shore of Siesta Key Beach in Florida. He’s described as being eight feet tall, 100-pounds, and made of yellow fiberglass. He strongly resembles a Lego Man. It was discovered drifting in the surf wearing a shirt with the message: "NO REAL THAN YOU ARE." No one is exactly sure where this Lego Man statue came from, and any Lego marketer would surely love to take credit — but can’t. The largest LEGOLAND Park just opened mid-October in Winter Haven, Florida, so the timing of Lego Man’s arrival couldn’t be more perfect. Alas, a Lego spokesperson reportedly denies credit.

Will Kindle Fire Ignite A Book Burning?
All eyes are watching to see if Amazon Kindle Fire will actually become an iPad killer — including Apple. Rumor has it that a cost-competitive iPad “mini” may be launching early next year. With all the attention there, is anyone smelling smoke at book publishers? Kindle Fire and Touch are positioned to help Amazon further cement itself as a publishing powerhouse. So how’s a publisher or bookseller to respond? For starters, look for publishers to hash out new licensing agreement with libraries. Just last spring, some libraries refused to purchase all new HarperCollins books.

Angry Birds Continues to Be a Cash Cow
You can’t be mad at Rovio Entertainment. They really know how to monetize their smartphone game “Angry Birds,” downloaded more than 350 million times. Now Rovio continues to leverage ways to bring Angry Birds into the real world in the form of toys, clothing, other merchandise, and even events.

You've Been Hacked by Heidi Klum
It’s not quite like the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences announcing this year’s Oscar nominees, but McAfee Internet Security recently released its latest: McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities™ 2011. This year, supermodel and Project Runway host Heidi Klum edged out Cameron Diaz as best celebrity to get you hacked. It’s no secret that cybercriminals use the names of popular celebrities to attract people to sites tainted with malicious software that will infect your computer. With searches for Heidi Klum, there is a 10% chance of landing on a site with spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses, or other malware.

Can Groupon Elevate Higher Education?
Groupon may be on the verge of changing the way we pursue academic degrees forever. What’s their latest deal of the day? A graduate degree! As a Groupon first – and maybe a higher education first – Chicago’s National Louis University is offering a sale on an introductory graduate level teaching course. You can try out three credit hours for $950, or nearly 60 percent off.

When Fake Brands Become Real
The Comedy Central show “South Park” is entering its 15th season. With such a long run, how do you breathe new life into it? How about bringing it to life? Cheesy Poofs, the favorite snack of character Eric Cartman, will actually be on real store shelves by September. Comedy Central, along with Frito-Lay, is producing 1.5 million packages of Cheesy Poofs to be sold in Walmart stores beginning next month. Cheesy Poofs are just part of a campaign with a reported $3–5 million budget. The Simpsons are known for using experiential marketing campaigns that bring fake products to life. In 2007, “The Simpsons Movie” put Frosted KrustyO’s cereal and Buzz Cola on store shelves.

Brands Can’t Beat 3D Fatigue
Ah, 3D. Brands seem determined to bring the technology into the home. Consumers seem determined not to pay for it. Nintendo of America made the latest concession in a July press release. They announced plans to drop the suggested retail price of its portable Nintendo 3DS system to $169.99 in the United States, effective August 12. The new price is down from the suggested launch price of $249.99.

A (Slightly) Geekless Guide to Comic-Con
You don’t have to know the Green Lantern’s oath or the entire roster of the X-Men to appreciate the buzz worthiness of The San Diego Comic-Con. From July 21–24, the geek shall inherit southern California, where brands and all forms of media entertainment will be there to court them. Comic-Con debuted in 1970. For nearly a decade, Comic-Con was about middle-aged men rising out of their parents’ basements to find back issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to complete their collections. One day, decision-makers in the entertainment industry woke up and realized that they had a gold mine of opportunity to promote themselves to the masses.

SoBe Sets a New Challenge: 'Try Everything'
SoBe Lifewater wants you to “try everything” in a new campaign designed to tempt you to sample their line. The goal is for you to indulge in many unusual experiences and connect with a SoBe flavor. As an extension to their current multimedia campaign, a visit to SoBe's Try Everything site takes the customer to an arcade of up to 12 advergames with more to come. Each challenge is inspired by a SoBe flavor — and a bit of frat-house humor.

'Go the F&*# to Sleep' Goes Viral
Go the f*ck Asleep is Adam Mansbach’s adult children’s story
Filled with f-bombs in all its shocking glory.
It’s now a number one seller with its Suess-like wit,
Using the mother of bad words, not that weak sh*t.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson did the audio book,
So now more people are taking a closer look.

'Play More' Means 'Buy More' On HSN
The site of the Home Shopping Network (HSN.com) is investing in a little gameplay, hoping it will inspire you purchase some more DKNYC or some extra Wolfgang Puck cookware. Recently, HSN Arcade launched with up to 25 interactive games designed to increase visitors’ time on their site.

Will Brands See Something Good About 3D Mobile?
As E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) comes to a close this week in Los Angeles, game companies revealed their plans to further unleash 3D magic upon the masses. Nintendo 3DS showed how 3D can be portable and experienced without glasses. So it was only a matter of time for mobile phones to follow. Sprint announced it soon would offer the HTC EVO 3D handset. The phone brags about adding depth to photos, games, and video. So will we see brands adding greater depth to their mobile messaging?

Can New Baby Campaign Make More Booty for Evian?
CGI babies have come a long way since that creepy dancing kid made famous from the Ally McBeal TV series. Some of the most memorable infants in the last two years were birthed from Evian water’s “Roller Babies” video (over 41 million YouTube views and counting).

Do You Speak Well For Your Brand?
There are plenty of events vying for your time, and if your company has the budget, you are probably investigating which cool city has the best event to check out. But as a speaker, are you making it a boondoggle or beneficial boondoggle for the attendee? There you are, standing before a room with your PowerPoint deck and case studies. You speak. Click to next slide. You speak some more. Click. Unless you have one hell of a slide show, ask yourself if there is some way you can dress it up even more?

Building a Green Brand From the Ground Up and Underground
When it comes to shoes, brands like Nike and Converse have taken the green initiative with programs like ReUse A Shoe, where shoes are recycled to create playing surfaces from playgrounds to tennis courts. A new overseas shoe brand OAT wants to put the green initiative in your hands, rather at your feet. They’ve created a brand of biodegradable shoes embedded with seeds.

Guerilla Still Makes Us Hot for Hot Wheels
You don’t have to be a gearhead to understand the enduring magic of the Hot Wheels brand. Fueled by a good push and imagination (take that, gas prices), children have been carrying the cars of their dreams in their pockets since 1968. That fondness for the brand has resulted in some great experiential work recently. Hot Wheels has gone guerilla globally. The results are big, bold, and charmingly simplistic.

When Sports Don't Play by the Rules of Social Media
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for use of Twitter during a game and fined $20,000, a major league baseball first. What really threw me was Sox General Manager Ken Williams, who doesn’t understand the appeal of social media. "I don't particularly understand the whole social media thing," he said.

BIC's Human Curling Cuts Through Clutter
When it comes to absurdity and originality, the French agency Buzzman definitely has game. And they are hoping a game of tossing a half-naked people on the ice will change your thinking about BIC shavers.

Win an Exciting Night in NYC. Get Locked in a Library.
So the New York Public Library (NYPL) is looking to re-imagine itself as a place of mystery and adventure by turning itself into an alternate reality game (ARG), “Find the Future: The Game.” It’s a bit ironic that in the information age, the one place people avoid like the plague is the local library. No matter what a library does, it just can’t shake the cold image of a warehouse of dusty books and a mean old lady who shushes you every time you speak. Too many of us grew up with that and the new generation can’t seem to find reason to go to a library when they can download information anywhere they want.

Funny Ford Content, But Where's The Focus?
Personally, I’ve created everything from pop-up books to on-demand TV programs to educate drivers about their cars and trucks. The one thing I haven’t used is a puppet. Team Detroit has, and the results have been, well, amusing. Recently, Ford introduced Doug as their, uh, spokespuppet for the 2012 Focus.

Can't Keep Talent? Keep 'Em In Town
A couple of years ago, I thought Minneapolis took a unique stance on the recruiting effort ­— branding the city as an advertising mecca with Minneadpolis. Agencies including Campbell Mithun, Carmichael Lynch, BBDO, and Modern Climate post work on minneadpolis.com, as well as job listings. More important, the site also features a “Working Here” and “Living Here” section to get people to fall in love with the city.

Honestly, Would You Steal Honest Tea?
Looking to tap into the flavored tea market, Honest Tea is out to show that Snapple isn’t the only brand with “good stuff.” Agency SS+K, New York introduced Honest Tea on the streets of many major U.S. cities. In a quest to find the “most honest city in America,” Honest Tea set up a social experiment with Honest Stores.

Hopefully, Black Mamba Doesn’t Bite.
It’s an NBA All-Star Weekend from February 18-20. In between the b-ball madness, Nike is counting on you to check your Facebook status to see the world premiere of Nike’s film “The Black Mamba.” The Kobe/Nike brand is an unstoppable force, and it looks like they have something big in store.

Online Games Tackle Real World Problems
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees watched the Super Bowl like the rest of us this year, but he’s asking you to play in this year’s Rice Bowl and help feed the hungry. The Rice Bowl is an online word game competition hosted by Freerice. According to freerice.com, “The Rice Bowl Challenge sees two teams compete for the Rice Bowl championship. The objective? To raise rice and beat global hunger while proving intellectual strength. The challenge runs February 6–12, with results tallied daily."

Gamification is the New Brand Engagement
The Gamification Summit, which ran from January 20-21, was a sold-out event in San Francisco, proving that a growing legion of marketers are seeing the light: gaming is “the new black” in brand building and engagement, and this isn’t some massive effort from brands to begin courting 30-something Xbox players.

The Pink Squad: Careless Drivers Beware
While most insurance companies look out for the responsible drivers in the world, Union Insurance is targeting the irresponsible in Slovakia. There they’ve unleashed The Pink Squad, masked vigilantes (in pink, of course), who seek out and punish the most arrogant and careless of those behind the wheel.


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