These images posted on Reddit.com last February to immediate viral acclaim. The Huffington Post took notice,  Casteel netted almost 100,000 likes on his Facebook page and traffic to his website jumped from 200 daily visits to more than 100,000. Casteel said he's gotten more than 1,000 inquiries about private shoots for clients in 20 countries.









Indian Motorcycle

Retro Branding and the Anti-Harley

Ran across the Indian catalog on Communication Arts site. Note the emphasis on individual expression. The leather upholstery, the retro styling. Buy a Harley, you're in a club. Buy an Indian, you're owned by no man. 

April 10, 2012
Indian Motorcycle




In a move straight out of the Mad Men handbook, PETA's latest campaign casts veganism in heroic sexual proportions.

Their new campaign—“Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me (BWVAKTBOOM)—essentially positions a vegan diet as the organic equivalent of Viagra. In a new series of YouTube videos, injured women describe what happens when their boyfriends (in the words of announcer Kevin Nealon), “go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star."

One spot shows a woman describing the side effects of her husband’s new vegan diet…

“I sprained my knees. And…rug burn. This hand thing. Inner thigh bruising. Outer thigh bruising. Hip dysplasia. (I know, I thought only German Shepherds got that. No.)” 

The women in the spots are bruised, bandaged and, without exception, happy.

Women’s groups are not. One ran a sendup of the Nealon spot, citing figures on sexual assault, domestic violence and conviction rates for rapists. Even Michael Learmonth, digital editor at Advertising Age, expressed reservations. “These ads aren’t made for TV, so the strategy here is that they will cause controversy, trigger coverage and go viral,” he said. “But I don’t think portraying women as beat up physically is a good idea, even in jest.” 

YouTube viewers seem to agree. The response to the videos has been overwhelmingly negative, with dislikes outnumbering likes by about 3 to 1. As one viewer wrote, “PETA . . . stopping abuse of animals … but promoting it for women.”

Like it or not, the campaign has already generated more than 2 million views on YouTube. It also delivers a clear, compelling message to men—traditionally a tough audience for PETA. But does it go too far? Do the spots really conflate sexual prowess and domestic violence? Even if they don't, do they do more harm than good to an already wobbly PETA brand?

What do you think?


Cracking The Code



Calvin Klein has never been known to shy away from the erotic. But a recent billboard for CK Jeans raised the bar for even that brazen brand. In place of the usual steamy imagery, the board displayed a QR code which, when scanned,  linked to a video of 20-somethings in various stages of undress, all evidently intent on mixing up the jean pool. The campaign generated tens of thousands of trackable views online and, presumably, caused more than a few pairs of pants to change hands.

QR codes—short for “quick response” codes—have opened a new realm of opportunities for marketers. The 2D codes function like the bar codes on packaged goods, except that they’re scanned by the cameras in smart phones. Once scanned, QR codes can deliver just about any kind of digital content—text messages, electronic coupons, web pages, videos, GPS directions and more. With QR codes, marketers can launch a rich brand experience from almost any object, linking the physical and virtual worlds instantaneously.

QR codes are an easy fit for businesses looking to join the mobile fray. There are no apps to develop, no websites to retool. The only requirements are a sound strategy and an online destination. Once those are set, creating the actual code takes about ten seconds. (Go on, give it a shot.)

So what all can QR codes do? Just look around. You’ll see…

Guided Tours—Museums are using QR codes to conduct guided tours of their collections. The codes are posted alongside individual pieces and linked to podcast lectures. Nature centers are doing the same with flora and fauna.

Sweepstakes—You’re at a football game. A QR code appears on the scoreboard with a chance to win a trip to the Rose Bowl. You scan it, hit send and you’re entered into the sweeps through an auto-generated text message. You get a chance to win and the promoter gets your text info for future marketing.

—Advocacy Campaigns Associations and advocacy groups are using QR codes to generate the phone numbers of legislators, so voters can just scan and hit CALL. It’s never been easier to stick it to The Man.

Fine Dining—Restaurants are posting QR codes in their windows and lobbies to link patrons with online menus, daily specials and coupons.

After-Hours Shopping—Retailers are posting SHOP ONLINE NOW codes in their windows to capture after-hours sales. They’re also posting QR codes on clearance tables, so consumers can scan and send discounts to friends.

Program Ads—If you’ve ever wondered what possible good could come from an ad the size of a matchbook, you’ve got your answer.

Real Estate—Realtors are placing QR codes on lawn signs so that passersby can link directly with online listings, virtual tours and sales agents.

T-Shirts—A clever line, a QR code, and you’re a walking billboard.

Tattoos—DJ’s, aspiring rock-stars and other solo entrepreneurs have gone so far as to have their contact info tattooed on their persons in the form of QR codes. If you’re not ready to commit at that level, you can buy temporary tattoo paper online and leave your employment options open.

The list goes on. Even in the early adoption stage, QR codes are popping up in some very prominent places. The only real obstacle at the moment is consumer resistance, since only one in four smart phone users has ever scanned a QR code. But those numbers are changing fast; in the second half of last year, consumer scanning jumped 1,200 percent. And given the low cost and huge potential, smart marketers are redoubling their efforts to crack the QR code.


Download Your Free Copy Of The QR Codebook.

The all-purpose toolkit for QR mobile marketing.




Cracking The Code



Congratulations. You’re the head of a broadcast network. 

It’s a small network, to be sure. But as a marketer your job is identical to that of a seven-figure broadcast exec. You create programming (content) that targets a lucrative demographic.  You keep it fresh. You promote it. People tune in, they talk, your audience grows and your network becomes invaluable to your advertising sponsors. And get this: the one and only sponsor is you.

That in a nutshell is content marketing. It’s the final evolution of online strategy, the inevitable next phase after all the websites are built, the SEO done (for now) and the Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are all plugged in and looking for work. At this point the organizations with the best flow of information, the best programming and, by extension, the strongest networks will prevail.

Unlike NBC, however, you don’t have millions to throw into content development. Your strategy has to be right from the start. By definition, a content strategy is a commitment; your audience won’t stick around if you stop broadcasting, and they won’t come back to see if you’ve decided to start again. Their needs continue. You have to be in front of them when those needs finally arise, which is why getting the strategy right is so important.

Note the distinction between wants and needs. Content marketing is not about needs. That comes later, with conversions. For now, like any good network exec, you’re giving your audience what they want. Needs come and go. Wants are continuous. Content strategy comes down to figuring out what kinds of information and experiences your users want. What will they tune in to every day?

The process of answering that question varies from one organization to the next. A good strategy reflects not only your creative vision, but also the practical realities of producing it. Ultimately, content strategy is creative strategy, and like any good creative work it begins with solid analysis. To wit:

What do you want to accomplish?—What results are you looking to achieve with this content project? Your objectives should be specific enough to guide your immediate efforts, but broad enough to encompass most, if not all of your content and markets.

Who are you trying to reach?—You’ve probably got a good handle on your markets and segments by now. Revisit them to identify any new or emerging markets, and any that may be dying out. By defining your markets yet again, you’ll impose discipline on the process that ultimately assures your strategy is good for the long term.

What kinds of information and experiences do they want?—Again, remember the distinction between needs and wants. Your audience wants relevant, useful information, but even the most dour B2B buyer values novelty and entertainment. Make sure your content strategy delivers on all fronts.

• What can you do with available time, talent and budget?—A pivotal question.

The answers will largely determine your final media mix (e.g. prose, video, podcasts, etc.). Who do you have in-house? What do they do well? What sorts of outside resources do you have at your disposal? Is there something unique about your products or services that holds interest to your target? Something your competitors can’t deliver? Content strategy is the art of the possible. This question helps you figure out what’s possible.

Once you’ve done your upfront analysis, you’re ready to answer the next big question: What do we already have? Between your website, your literature, your presentations, white papers, research, newsletters, videos, slide shows and assorted TV and radio spots, you’ve likely got a wealth of content at your disposal. It won’t all be appropriate for your current efforts, but with a little retooling it might be. The only way to find out is to take the next step in the strategy process: the Content Audit.