To pay tribute to the heightened level of creativity that continues to grow in the advertising world today, TED runs a program/competition titled Ads Worth Spreading. The non-profit’s finalists this year include brands like Mazda, Canal+, Microsoft, Sharpie, and Rethink Breast Cancer.
To learn more about their curation methodology and perspective on the evolution of advertising, PSFK sat down for a chat with Ronda Carnegie, Head of Global Partnerships at TED.
Tell us about your role at TED and how the idea for AWS came about.
I’m the Global Head of Partnerships for TED, responsible for our international corporate development and initiating partnerships between TED and other global organizations, brands and agencies.
Ads Worth Spreading was born out of our search for compelling advertising. We want to feature campaigns that are as fascinating as our talks. All our ads run as post-roll (after the talks) and we want our viewers to choose to watch those ads because they’re interesting, engaging, funny or beautiful. It’s hard to find ads that good, but it shouldn’t be.
We launched Ads Worth Spreading in 2010 as a clarion call to brands that want to communicate authentic and interesting ideas to their consumers in the same way that TED wants to communicate with its audience — by sharing powerful ideas. We want to reward companies that have invested in creating advertising that values human attention and intelligence, and takes the time to tell a thought-provoking story.
There’s a downloadable PDF accompanying the program; tell us about the PDF and its content.
The TED Ads Worth Spreading Report tells the story behind the ads we chose in 2012, from three perspectives: the creatives behind the winning ads, the teams that nominated those ads, and consumer responses to the ads gathered by Ace Metrix.
The report revealed some fascinating differences in thinking between these three groups. For example, we were surprised to see how well Mazda’s “Defy Convention” campaign performed with audiences — it’s one of the chief executives at Mazda delivering a powerful message about the brand’s mission and character, but it’s in Japanese and almost 4 minutes long. Yet, audiences rated it extremely high in authenticity and really enjoyed it. On the other hand, our curation and nomination teams unanimously adored Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” and it swept every award show in 2012, but audiences found it too long and were confused about how the campaign’s message was related to the brand.
Overall, the report is meant to be a learning tool and a conversation starter.
Is advertising dead? In what ways do these concepts reflect the evolution of thinking in advertising?
No, advertising is far from dead. New media, new devices and more discerning audiences present challenges to the industry, but with every new challenge comes opportunity. At TED, we have benefited greatly from the intellectual evolution of the audience. Six years ago, the industry would not have predicted massive popularity for online talks on math, science, design and technology – but we recently reached one billion video views on TED.com alone.
As smart content becomes more popular, audiences expect more than ever from advertisers. Through Ads Worth Spreading, we’re seeing that people appreciate long-form advertising that is idea-driven, with meaningful storytelling and high production values. Viewers want to experience an emotional connection, an intellectual understanding or stunning creative work. Audiences want to be rewarded for the time they devote to watching an ad, and advertisers are recognizing that and delivering more meaningful pieces in traditional ads, online video and integrated marketing.
Our primary industry supporters at YouTube are also working to reward the kind of advertising that people want to watch and share through their skippable ads model. Online media is waking up to the realization that audiences don’t have to watch ads, and so we need to capture people’s interest with genuinely interesting content.
The ads chosen run across numerous industries; what do these ads all have in common?
We want ads across industries, just as we curate speakers across industries for the TED conference. We are looking for ads with compelling and powerful ideas. An Ad Worth Spreading should be an example of the possibility for advertising to inspire, entertain, deliver new thinking, and most importantly compel us to share with others.
Tell us about your team of advocates; how did you select them and summarize the judging criteria.
Our 25 Advocates are made up of industry leaders in advertising, production, curation and film. While they will make suggestions and nominations, some of the most directed work and thinking comes from our six nomination teams. These are curated teams of two – made up of one renowned TED speaker paired with one bright thinker in advertising and marketing. Each of these teams has been assigned one of the following categories: Talk, Social Good, Cultural Compass, Creative Wonder, Brand Bravery and Education. For example, on Creative Wonder, TED speaker and artist Raghava KK has been paired with Executive Producer of Legs Media, Adam Joseph, and for Brand Bravery we’ve teamed Eliza Esquivel, VP of Brand Strategy at Mondelez International with Frog Fellow Jared Ficklin (also the first person to perform with open flames on the TED stage). All the teams have been invited to think up their own unique way of working together, and many will be starting public conversations over social media to explore their category and involve the wider industry and audience in the next few weeks. We’re excited to see what happens next.
TED curates the final selection of 10 ads that are shown and honored at our annual conference in Long Beach.