Agency Magicians and the Illusion of Dimensions (Now with Tigerblood)

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Part Two in ‘I Smell a Rat’ Series
Michael examines the Ad Age article by Jonathan Salem Baskin titled, “Do Campaign Failures, High-Profile Firings Signal the End of Social Media? CMOs Need to Discover New Ways to Do the Old Things That Still Matter.”

I smell a rat

Part One: Michael introduces why he’s writing this series and hopes everyone will stick through it as he explores that smell…
Part Two: Michael introduces what he called “agency magicians” and how they create the “illusion of dimensions”
Part Three: Michael tells CMOs and VPs of Marketing that their luck has run out. Time to really integrate digital into marketing.
Part Four: Michael defines an expert and suggests that social media is not the savior of all marketing.
Part Five: Michael dances the tango — but not always for free — with the job lottery
Part Six: Michael explores how time-shifting will change traditional TV commercials and programming.
Part Seven: Michael explains Anti-Product Placement© and hopes someone hires him for this most-excellent idea.
Part Eight: Michael suggests you buy a talk show rather than commercials, infomercials or direct response TV.
Part Nine: Michael asks for addiction intervention for magazine publishers.
Part Ten: Michael officially becomes an expert, earn the Social Media Advanced Certification[/box]



[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith tremendous respect to Mr. Baskin, he’s onto something, but I don’t think it’s quite as difficult as it seems. As I read his article, I couldn’t help but thinking, “What the ʞɔnɟ was Burger King and Pepsi thinking?”

Pepsi dropped all Super Bowl advertising in favor of some nice social media “refresh” campaign that’s not refreshed Pepsi’s place in the soda pop game, fizzling it to third place behind Coca Cola and Diet Coke. Burger King grilled its agency to a crisp and broiled a couple of chief marketing officers for YouTube videos and Facebook campaigns that got viral attention but nothing much more.

“The social campaigns not only delivered what they promised but surpassed their goals in terms of engagement, response and thus ROI,” Mr. Baskin writes. Then later adds,  “Instead, CMOs need to discover new ways to do the old things that still matter: Offer products and services that someone truly needs, admitting that you want to sell stuff to them, and then properly serving them after they’ve given you their business.”

So close, Mr. Baskin. So very close.

Social media doesn’t just serve following a purchase. Social media must be an integral part of any marketing campaign. In fact, I find so distressing the state of today’s marketing.

Those of you reading this — in fact, if I am so lucky that Mr. Baskin happens upon this piece, he too — will likely agree with me.

Too much of what I see in the marketing segments tends to be two-dimensional thinking at the most. Occasionally, organizations luck up on the most basic three-dimensional thinking: Avatar or another movie.

In other words, it’s not really 3-D. It’s an illusion.

Put on Your 3-D Glasses

Let me explain how most marketing departments and advertising agencies work. Based on the people at the top, the weights will usually teeter in one way or another, as the Pepsi and Burger King campaigns both did.

A campaign idea is generated. In today’s world, it’s usually what I’d call “traditional” — meaning it’s destined for television commercials or magazine ads. After the brainstormers all get enamored with their own ideas, it gets developed further and further until it’s spread out.

Then the other team is called in. The digital team. And they’re asked to give the campaign dimension. Sometimes it’s a game, a video, a behind-the-scenes piece or some text messaging effort.

Ultimately, it’s still a traditional campaign birthed like a Gaga egg with some dimension laid onto it.

In the case of Pepsi and Burger King, the opposite happened. A digital campaign got some traditional sprinkled onto it and — I hate to admit it, seeing how I’m a digital marketer — that just wasn’t powerful enough to carry the whole.

Across the board, the problem is letting one or the other win.

How Do We Get to Three Dimensions?

Charlie Sheen, who's #winning with #tigerblood

How does one get to a true, three-dimensional campaign? How could have these campaigns succeeded?

I’m not inside either of these companies so I can’t speak — and, in my opinion, Pepsi and its updated branding along with the mixture of the Throwbacks introduces a whole wave of issues I couldn’t begin to address in one blog entry.

I have watched failed campaigns and successful ones. I’ve seen successful agencies and — well — others. The others are still in business. They succeed because the illusion of dimensionality still works.

They think they’re WINNING. They think they’ve got TIGERBLOOD.

They are delusional.

PART THREE Tomorrow: Welcome to the Third Dimension (Most of Us Live Here)

Published by

Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at You can follow him on Twitter at and see more about his professional experience at Reach him via e-mail at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.