Wishing I’d used KeepVid a week ago, I searched for it elsewhere online.
I didn’t find the Live It Up video, but I did learn that Colorado Springs is “the natural fit” for my family vacation, sporting event, or business conference!
Give a look to this video posted to YouTube in January 2011 by VisitCOS (the same folks who brought you (then took away) Live It Up):
Well, OK! Nature moves to the fore and extends into lifestyle.
Let’s give a quick evaluation, primarily in terms relative to the Live It Up video you can no longer see.
A few positives:
shows off the natural beauty better than Live It Up
includes aerial shots and jib shots that immediately provide more production value than Live It Up
includes active shots that make the place feel far more alive than Live It Up
hits several major local institutions and phenomena missed by Live It Up (Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Open Space, Paint Mines Interpretive Park, USOC, AFA, Broadmoor, Hill Climb, Balloon Classic, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, etc.)
gives Colorado Springs a one-of-a-kind feeling by definition
touches on regional history and connects it to present
A few negatives:
the music and voice are a bit too slow (don’t convey enough energy)
tries to do too much, selling to families, sporting events, business conventions (should be three separate 1:20 videos)
frequent discrepancies between the words being said and the video being shown (need to SWAP – sync words and pictures)
awkwardly abrupt ending (especially in comparison to the long :30 fade out on Live It Up)
The Bottom Line
As a slogan, The Natural Fit isn’t any more the answer than Live It Up; either would work fine and neither would work distinctively.
As a video, The Natural Fit feels more alive, rugged, vibrant, and exceptional than Live It Up. It does a much better job of showing that living means doing – rather than simply saying it repeatedly and in different ways.
Live It Up would certainly have benefited from extensive re-use of shots seen in The Natural Fit. Related: The Natural Fit could benefit from the skate park shots from Live It Up.
Both videos would convey more life and energy through quicker, more contemporary music, snappier sound from the voiceover artist and other speakers, and a higher cadence overall.
In Colorado Springs, a place I’ve called home for more than 5 years now, community leaders recently gathered and consultants were hired to create a branding campaign for the city. The targets: “residents, tourists, and the business community.”
I love a good internal branding effort – one that gathers stakeholders, is facilitated by an outside party, and results in self-discovered essence and difference. I didn’t balk at the $110,000 price tag, as many have. The fruit:
Brand Essence: Alive
Brand Truth: Living Means Doing
Brand Character: Rugged, Vibrant, and Exceptional
Great! I’m with ’em so far. I can’t say it’s all that unique, but it does fit.
The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau posted the video on its Facebook page and asked for comments. 22 comments later, the video was removed because the feedback turned ugly (NOTE: I strongly discourage this move – if negative things are being said, you should be hosting that conversation!)
Within 24 hours, a new Facebook page, Rebrand The Springs, was created and calling for another go at the campaign by local artists (NOTE: if local people were not used to create the logo and video, as has been suggested, shame on the CVB!)
If you Google “Colorado Springs” and “Live It Up” – or just ask a handful of random locals – I expect that you’ll find plenty of other mixed and negative reviews.
Bad idea (above): two logos instead of one. Inspiration (below): better than Battle Creek Utilities.
Again, I’m fine with brand process and the resulting essence, truth, and character, but the creative execution needs help.
For the slogan and logo, a visual reference to elevation (either 6,035ft for the city or 14,115ft for Pikes Peak) would help draw a necessary connection. Abandoning a phrase that feels extremely dated (who’s “living it up” in 2011?) by abandoning a slogan or tagline completely would have been perfectly acceptable to me. The mountain should have a much stronger resemblance to the iconic east face of Pikes Peak.
On the upside, the green and purple work for me. The colors fit and are one of the most unique features of the entire effort. They roughed up the peak a little, which implies rugged. The font choice is fine; it’s not especially common and has a little style to it.
As noted in the caption above, I abhor the idea of two logos; a logo is a logo is a logo. It can change and evolve over time, but two logos in use simultaneously is a basic branding no-no. It feels especially disjointed when both appear at the end of the video.
In the video, I see several problems, including:
excessive length (the ending – a long, slow fade of music and logos – reinforces this by lacking any punch)
limited style, dated style (as a radio station might say, it’s “80’s 90’s and Now!”)
poor lighting, inconsistent lighting (dark dog park, overexposed slouching gentleman, blown out Garden of the Gods background, etc)
a too-old-too-often cast, bad makeup (fairly or unfairly referred to by many as a “retirement community” video)
a minority service worker toiling away in the background as two lovely ladies chat about achieving the Peak (really! happens at :45)
an insider and moneyed vibe, as if we’re supposed to know who the people are (I do recognize about a half dozen of them)
the city and landscape do not do enough of their own talking
To that last bullet point: a basic fault of the structure is that there’s too much saying and not enough showing and proving. The worst case is the poor kid forced to call his city “radical.” Though they used to be sufficient, boastful, superlative claims (awesome! exceptional! vibrant!) without clear support are unconvincing (especially when uncomfortably delivered). Despite several good shots and fantastic photos, this too-much-saying problem could not be overcome in the nearly 4 minute presentation.
There are many other subjective issues I have with it, but those are basics.
Stepping back, though, there’s a bigger issue. This video serves no constituency in particular. The desired takeaway is completely unclear. It seems obvious to me that if you have 3 different targets – locals, tourists, and businesses – that you need 3 different videos. Why? Because they each have unique sets of needs! One video will not serve them all and, as a result, will serve no one.
People who live here: great things to know and share, a little lofty – interesting and impressive facts about our landscape, history, and institutions; places to visit and things to do – both ordinary and off the beaten path; specific hiking and biking trails; stuff to brag to your family and friends about
People considering a visit: less lofty and more practical – exactly what a 3 day visit might look like in Colorado Springs; top tourist spots for kids and families; restaurants, shops, and galleries in downtown, Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs; Pikes Peak by road and rail; hiking and biking trails; museums; spots off the beaten path; proximity to Denver; DIA and COS
People and businesses thinking about moving here: very practical, balancing lifestyle with dollars and cents – start the outline with all the top 10 types of awards received from publications like Forbes, Money, Men’s Health, and others; top institutions like the United States Olympic Committee and Olympic Training Center, the United States Air Force Academy, and The Broadmoor; Pikes Peak by road, rail, and trail; top employers like USAA, Memorial Health Systems, Compassion International, and others; a look into neighborhoods and local parks
That’s just a quick, one-pass effort at outlining videos to address the three segments’ specific needs and interests. Obviously, a ton of video would be used in all 3; it’s not a significant, multiplied effort.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Colorado Springs has lots to love. It’s a beautiful place with a great climate, rich history, and good people. I appreciate the effort and agree with the foundational brand concepts generated.
A truly collaborative effort would have been more authentic and better received. Take the brand concepts, share them with locals, then turn them loose on logos, slogans, and videos.
What great content for a stand alone website that body of locally produced work would make!
Of course, a process that open is just as scary as negative Facebook comments.
I just ended a 14 year run in local television marketing and promotion that took me from Grand Rapids to Chicago back to Grand Rapids to Colorado Springs. My short description of the work: running an in-house agency to build brands, drive viewership, and increase our overall standing with all stakeholders. So, my side was the business-to-consumer marketing that results in business-to-business selling of audiences (basic content around advertising model).
I’ve greatly enjoyed the first decade and a half of my career. I’ve worked for some great companies and done excellent work with wonderful people.
Here are some thoughts and observations from my experience in the local media industry. They’re focused primarily on traditional television broadcasting, rather than multi-platform content distribution and marketing.
These thoughts and observations are simplified and bullet-pointed. I’m happy to elaborate upon or talk through any of this in more detail. Use the Connect with Ethan page to find me – or just leave a comment on this post.
What a TV looked like when my career began. (Image from Photobucket user alex54j )
Working in Local TV Marketing and Promotion is Fun
It’s a nice combination of creativity and strategy.
You get to work extensively with words and ideas.
You get to create and manipulate images, both still and moving.
You get to work with music, sound effects, and natural/ambient sound.
Promos are always more exciting than the news packages – you get to pack all the best video and sound into :30!
The Work Itself is There, Then Gone
This is a basic function of linear broadcasting.
The display of your work is immediately fleeting and the work itself is highly perishable.
You get plenty of immediate gratification; what you just made can be put on TV within minutes.
Marketing to Anonymous Masses Provides Limited Satisfaction
The ability to track and measure, to connect directly efforts to results, is weak. Research budgets are limited. Nielsen’s measurements of viewing behavior are (insert adjective with negative connotation here).
In short, it’s more art than science.
Very few people like advertising. It’s an interruption of what they’ve come to see or experience.
Nearly everyone wants and expects content and marketing to be increasingly personalized and customized (rightfully).
Television broadcasting is linear and monolithic, not personalized or customized.
It’s impossible to be consistently relevant, and therefore satisfying, to a mass of people.
That’s because they’re not a monolith; they are individuals who happen to be consuming the same media at the same time.
Tools like Facebook have taken phone call and email feedback to a new level that approaches direct relationships. Even those individuals, though, tend to be treated as a mass.
Local News is Very Static and Homogenous
Every station has pretty much the same stories as one another and the same kinds of stories every night.
Every newscast provides pretty much the same experience it did a decade ago … but shinier. It’s predictable.
Locally, this is in part due to stations all watching each other.
Nationally, this is in part due to all stations being consulted by the same handful of consultants.
Overall, this is because “news” is defined rigidly by the journalistic institution.
This is why ubiquitous, generic “area man” headlines from The Onion, America’s Finest News Source, work so well.
This is why we all immediately recognize the visual and verbal patterns in the videos that close this post.
The formula from which newscasts are made seems to work well enough that there’s no compelling reason to make anything more than minor tweaks and conservative decisions. Related: newspapers have only just found their savior and his ideas don’t seem especially radical.
Financially, Local TV Broadcasting is Challenged
As with most businesses, costs are constantly increasing.
This effect is mitigated slightly by technology and automation. The hubbing of core operations, for example, is a fundamental operating strategy for Lin Media (22 broadcast signals originating from just 2 master control centers; 100% of traffic operations run from just 1 location (see 2010 annual report, page 4).
Revenue is flat/declining and dominated by TV revenue. Though it varies by station and company, I’d guess that 90-95% of revenue is still generated by television ad sales.
Profit margins, naturally, are tighter than ever. A broadcast license was once a license to print money; stations enjoyed profit margins above 50%. Though it varies by station and company, I’d guess that they’re more in the 15-20% range in a good year.
For a stronger future, some local news operations will have to be shut down (see above – Static and Homogenous). This is a natural result of competition.
As fragmented as the media landscape is (that fragmentation fundamentally threatening the TV business), television is still the only place to find mass. This is why network prime time shows command higher ad rates, despite smaller audiences.
Among the younger set, it’s cool to hate TV and its advertising. However, Apple loves it! Go figure.
Is it cost effective? By migrating dollars into other channels, the large-scale, sophisticated television advertisers say no.
I just finished Joseph Jaffe’s Life after the 30 Second Spot, published in 2005. At the time, DVRs were the threat to effectiveness. Forms of digital capture and distribution have increased dramatically in the past 6 years.
Digital pureplay companies offer relatively inexpensive marketing and advertising options … and they’re 100% trackable.
Local television stations have incredibly strong brands. They’re local instituions.
They inform, prepare, and connect people; they provide a sense of local identity and community.
People take your calls when you tell them you’re calling from a local TV station.
The role and responsibility of the best local news and weather teams will continue to be important, no matter how distribution changes. The challenge there is to stay relevant day-to-day, rather than simply being a go-to place in times of crisis.
High definition television signals are free for the taking – and they’re the cleanest form of television signal.
I’m grateful for all the opportunities this industry has presented me and the dozens of excellent humans who helped me along the way. I hope for the best for the individuals who make the industry.
As you might expect, I’ve got many more thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I’m happy to have a threaded comment conversation, a real conversation, or an email exchange about any of this.
Both employ coarse language. The first is more slowly paced. The second is more direct and more coarse. Both employ the immediately recognizable patterns to which I referred earlier in this post.
This blog has been woefully neglected over the past couple months. It’s not for a lack of ideas or opinions; I’ve got plenty. Instead, it’s more an issue of habit and focus. The former’s insufficiently formed as it relates to punching out short pieces here. The latter’s been divided over other projects.
So: a quick rundown of things I’ve been doing instead of blogging and in addition to working full time (in a plenty demanding position) and being a very highly rated husband and father (really, just ask ’em).
La Jolla, California: One of the places I've been instead of sitting down and blogging.
A family vacation to San Diego that inspired 11 photo sets, including visits to the Pacific Ocean (several), Joshua Tree National Park, Cabrillo National Monument, Torrey Pines State Park, Legoland, Los Angeles and more. The photo above comes compliments of and merits compliments to my wonderful wife.
Landing an MBA scholarship from the Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, an award for which I was pleased, excited, honored and appreciative. Sure, it just involved completing their scholarship application, tightening up ye olde resume and constructing a couple short essays, but it still required dedicating an entire Saturday morning to the effort. It all adds up.
Theme-building, copy writing and copy editing for Seeds Children’s Home. For a decade, they’ve been providing food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care and discipleship to orphans and other children in need from the Kipsongo slum in Kitale, Kenya. They’re launching an emergency fundraising campaign to get an orphanage built after the home they were renting was sold, displacing the orphans and their full time care providers. This one’s just getting started; there’s plenty of work to be done. I was invited into the project by a friend whose sales and marketing consultancy website I reworked earlier this year.
Messaging strategy and copy editing for Roundhouse Support, which specializes in technically supporting apps and app developers. Little of my work is yet live, but the site’s getting a nice upgrade from Infront, a leading web design, development and SEO company here in Colorado Springs.
Learning about myself with the Culture Index, an assessment tool recommended highly by an esteemed colleague who specializes in true, internal branding. I completed the online portion and await my initial and foll0w-up meetings to interpret the results and to turn them into practical action.
Ongoing miscellany with BombBomb, a video email marketing startup here in Colorado Springs. Great idea (seriously, try it free!). Great team. Great fun.
Meanwhile, summer’s here! Though I’ve enjoyed some quality outdoor time, I’ve only made it to one summit so far this season.
I do love this blog. I also love helping people, learning things and going outside. Everything in moderation, I guess!
If you read magazines like Wired or Inc. (yes, both still appear in print on actual paper), you may have noticed offers from Google and Facebook on those little pull-out/fall-out cards that are annoyingly tucked, glued or stapled into just about every magazine.
The offers are basically identical and provide a unique code to cash in for $75 in Google Adwords or $50 in Facebook Ads. It’s a smart way for each company to invite prospects into their easy and cost-effective ad systems. It’s free money for me and wholly trackable sampling for them.
Why Bristol? They’ve got the biggest Facebook fanbase – by far – of any neighborhood business (about 3,500). Along with The Blue Star and J Gregory Salon, Bristol is also right across the street from the sign that marks, declares and names the neighborhood. I used this familiar sign as the primary image in the ad; it’s also the primary profile picture of the community page.
The ad clicked through to the Info section of the Ivywild community page, which defines the purpose of the page, the informal boundaries of the neigbhorhood and a touch of history. I favored this over the wall, because the page has limited user interaction at this point; it isn’t as “alive” as I’d like it to be.
I set it up as a cost per click campaign with a budget of $5 per day. I let it run past the 10 free days and ended up paying $15 out of pocket.
Campaign results (rounded):
180,000 impressions with a click through rate of 0.06%
50,000 “social impressions” with a click through rate of 0.094%
Total clicks of 110 / Total “social clicks” of 48
Total CPC of $0.59 / Total CPM of $0.35
97 fans before the campaign, 163 at the conclusion of the campaign
60% conversion rate (66 fans from 110 clicks)
Cost per conversion of about $1
Facebook’s social metrics refer to impressions that include the names of people to whom you’re connected who already like the page. As seen in the results above, the social piece is pretty powerful. Though they accounted for 28% of the impressions, they accounted for 44% of the clicks.
This free, simple effort grew the page 68%. It was fun, easy and interesting.
I recommend you pull the offer out of a magazine on a newsstand today … unless they’re only running it with paid subscribers (all the better for tracking and measuring), in which case I won’t advocate you pulling the offer from a magazine in someone’s mail box.