Google Travel Conference

by Scott Sussman

I recently had the opportunity to attend The Travel Forward Conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. A group of approximately 120 individuals from the travel industry were presented the latest thinking from Google on how emerging technology can be integrated into marketing plans for travel related companies.

Currently half of all domestic travel is booked online and that continues to be a growing trend. Moreover, research for travel continues to be a growing area with over a billion travel related searches a day. Also, 70% of all travel related searches are not for a specific brand, but the search begins generically, this presents a tremendous opportunity for those in the travel industry. Google is making search more relevant by making it easier to access with less movement. For instance it is not necessary to leave the search results page to get hotel or flight rates. It is a rollover and click away.

Mobile is where Google sees the biggest growth in the next few years. Mobile traffic grew by 400% last year and that trend will increase with nearly a million new smart phones sold each day. About 50% of the population now has a smartphone. Smartphones can’t be viewed as an extension of a computer website. It is its own device and should have its own site. Mobile is a local based marketing opportunity as most purchases from this device are made within 20 miles of the transaction.

Mobile commerce is in its infancy, but will explode over the next two years. The much discussed Google Wallet is in test and should roll-out over the next year. Using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology (a chip in your phone) consumers will be able to purchase items without having to access their credit card from their wallets. The consumer will “wave” their phone over a device at the merchant and the transaction will be complete. This technology will also be used for boarding passes at airports.

Location based marketing will also develop over the next few years as messaging will be delivered through Google Spot, which will know your exact location (down to the aisle in a f store) and deliver messaging to you, such as a coupon or offer from a competitor.

As organizations like Google invest in innovation, the manner in which travel and nearly every other category is sold will evolve and change how business is conducted.

Memes. Mutation and Cultural Artifacts

by Dorn Martell

New Zealand 3011 – A team of archeologists were examining the remains of a village from the 21st century and came across an artifact that was quite puzzling. It was a well-preserved ceramic mug with a strange drawing of a baby monkey going backwards on a pig. Was it a Hindu religious icon? A depiction of the Chinese lunar calendar or was it the most misunderstood phenomenon of the digital age – The Meme.

A Meme is a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes. And like genes they mutate over time. To understand this meme we call Baby Monkey, we must first explore its provenance.

A video of a tiny monkey riding backward on a small pig was shot somewhere in Asia with a hand-held consumer video camera. That video was posted on YouTube and received hundreds of thousands of views. It was then “discovered” by punk rock band Nerf Herder’s front man Parry Gripp. Parry scored it with the lyric “Baby monkey going backwards on a pig” and it went viral all over the world.

But it didn’t end there. You see, memes are more than just peer-to-peer sharing, they inspire parody, mutations and millions of people who want to be a part of it. In fact there are countless variations of this video on YouTube featuring re-mixes, dubsteps, reenactments and bad photoshop jokes. It has even spun-off into an iPhone app. But the only mutation that will last into the future is the ceramic mugs created by Tinsley Advertising’s Associate Creative Director Rick Blitman (Rick’s Bad Art). The mug, unlike the fad, will not fade or decay. But when a future viewer sees it, will it make any sense at all? It’s impossible to tell.

There is a distinct possibility that some memes will become part of our cultural vernacular the same way that archaic terms from our past like, “Three sheets to the wind”. (a term for being drunk – derived from the erratic behavior of a sailing ship with mis-aligned sails).

But will things like “Antoine Dodson“, “Charley the Unicorn“ or “Nyan Cat“ evolve into an enduring part of our collective consciousness? Or will the original meaning be lost and the reference survive like, “freezing the balls off a Brass Monkey” (originally refering to a “Brass Monkey”-a device that held cannon balls that would fail in cold weather.)

New memes are being spawned every day and new parodies and mutations will continue. To be relevant, when communicating with a new generation of digital natives, we must be aware of the power of memes, the challenge of context and the fact that really silly stuff will always get more attention than overt sales pitches.

Tinsley and The Florida Keys & Key West Recognized for Outstanding Tourism Marketing

By Dorn Martell

We wouldn’t be lying if we said Henry Flagler hangs around our office. In fact we have a whole wall of “Henrys” and are pleased to announce that we just added three more to our collection.

Named for Henry Flagler, the Flagler Awards were established in 2000 to recognize outstanding tourism marketing in Florida and we are fortunate to have won every year since. In this year’s competition, we were finalists in four categories and won the top honor in three.

We won a Henry in the category of Resource/Promotional Material Consumer for our fabulous new LGBT Brochure, which compliments our Best of Show win at the Addys for our Gay and Lesbian marketing.

Our New York Transit poster campaign also won a Henry in the Out-Of-Home category for these memorable pieces: “You’re not a sardine, get out of this tin can”,
“Please step to the end of the line” and “Call in and say you caught something”.

For Print Advertising we won a Henry for these ads:
(For our fishermen) “Big eyes, full lips, drives men crazy. Angelina is that you?”
and “More fans than all of Facebook” (promoting our amazing reefs).

We also won Silver for our Direct Marketing pieces: “The Earth is your Recreational Vehicle”, and “There’s nothing like the end of the road to turn you around.”

We thank the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and its Director Harold Wheeler, for being great clients and allowing us to do the best tourism advertising around.

We’d also like to thank old Henry Flagler for building the railroad that connected the Keys to mainland America and brought paradise a little closer to home.


The 2011 Fall Television New Show Preview

By Scott Sussman

As the summer comes to a close that can only mean that school is back in session and the fall television season is upon us. A few themes seem to be taking hold as in most years. Retro is definitely in (for now) and reality television has found its place in the American viewing landscape.

NBC has a new owner and a lot of ground to make-up. They will be coming to market with at least a dozen new shows for the fall. Having taken a look at a preview of some of these shows, NBC will need to head back to the drawing board. Most of the dozen or so new shows do not look promising. Whitney appears to be the only winner in the Peacocks stable. Working off the strength of Mad Men, NBC brings us one of the new retro shows, The Playboy Club. It does not have the depth of Mad Men. Steve Carell leaves The Office for greener pastures (we’ve seen this before) and James Spader is now the boss at Dunder-Mifflin. The show is depending on a line-up of special guest stars to keep this franchise moving forward.

CBS has only five new shows this fall and a couple of them look like winners. 2 Broke Girls, a comedy that looks promising and will air on Monday nights at 8:30PM , a great spot for a comedy. How to be a Gentleman starring Kevin Dillon of Entourage has an outside chance. The rest of CBS’s offerings are dramas. Person of Interest from J.J Abrams is a cross between The Mentalist and CSI. A Gifted Man and Unforgettable are dramas that have a paranormal skew to them. On everyone’s mind at CBS is how Ashton Kutcher is going to do as Charlie Sheen’s replacement on Two and Half Men.

ABC has a few potential hits. Apt. 23 is an off-beat, comedy that deals with a psycho New York roommate. Another unusual twist in this show is James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) plays himself. Man Up is another comedy focusing on three men and how their lives are interrelated. Charlie’s Angels is back and this time set in Miami. I wouldn’t bet the farm on this being a winner. Pan Am another retro 60’s offering will have a tough time keeping the story line fresh. Watch the first few episodes, because it might not be around long.