I’ve Ben thinking about…

1. The impact of Jason Collins announcement shouldn’t be based on whether he plays next year or not.
2. Kid Rock needs to get over it.
3. Budweiser introduces the smart glass, reminding us again that just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
4. Where will brands spend in social?

1. Jason Collins. Jason Collins announcement that he is gay, making him the first openly gay athlete in U.S. men’s team sport, was covered from every angle yesterday. Personally I think it’s great and hope that it opens the door for others; I can’t imagine living in fear of being discovered or discriminated against just because of who you choose to love or be in a relationship with.One thing I don’t understand though are the people who say ‘the pressure is on’ for Collins to be signed. Why? Will his decision to come out be any less meaningful? And why is there pressure on teams to sign him based on anything other than his ability to contribute to a team? I’m pretty sure Collins doesn’t want to be signed just because he’s gay. And besides, if Juwan Howard is still on an NBA roster, Jason Collins can be.  I don’t think his announcement should be conditional. Accept it for what it is and recognize that this is a big moment in professional sports, regardless.

2. Kid Rock won’t be going to the Legends of Summer tour. Kid Rock thinks Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s Legends of the Summer ticket prices, as high as $275, are ‘highway robbery’. Kid is getting ready to kick off his own concert tour where he’s charging $20. (He goes on to say something about partying in the parking lots, beer, hot dogs and splitting the money up but I can’t really follow what he’s saying. He calls it a business model…with financial sacrifices. Sounds like a winner.)I think Kid Rock needs to get over it. I saw Kid Rock in concert back in the late 90s. It wasn’t $20. The demand for Kid was higher then. Just like the demand for Jay-Z and JT is high now. Come on; honestly, I think either Jay-Z and JT could charge $200 a ticket for their own concerts, no? $275 for both of them, for a premium seat, seems like a deal.

3. Budweiser and Cap’n Crunch prove, again, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Marketing is a great profession – you can be creative, bring new ideas, be at the forefront of the communications industry. But sometimes the line between showing off and solutions becomes blurred. Don’t get me wrong – the temptation to ‘just show off’ has never been higher than it is today, thanks to social networks, technology and a shift consumer expectations. And you don’t have to look real hard to find examples of brands showing off – here’s two that popped on my radar just in the last few days:

1. Budweiser smart glasses. One of my best friends has claimed for years that Budweiser makes you smart…but I don’t think he had this in mind. Budweiser Brasil has released a special beer cup that instantly makes people Facebook friends when they clink their glasses. The cups have special chips in them that connect to Facebook. Outside of taking lame attempts to pick up women to a new level, I don’t really see the value in this. Could you imagine waking up the next morning, opening Facebook and realizing your now friends with a bunch of strangers? That’s a lot of one night stands.

2. Cap’n Crunch. Here’s one stoners will love – Quaker Oats is dusting off Cap’n Crunch, bringing him back for a weekly late night talk show, debuting on the brand’s YouTube channel May 7 at 11:35 p.m. He’s going to interview cartoon versions of celebs and fictional characters as well as talk about pop cul…oh hell, who cares. Seriously, who’s watching this at 11:35 p.m.? I know some people who might enjoy a late night bowl of Cap’n but few who would actually seek this out. I think this is just a me-too attempt as other classic brand characters are getting revived (we talked about Kool-Aid man here a few weeks ago). On the plus side, Conan might finally beat somebody in the ratings.

Bottom line – all that glitters is not gold. It’s easy to show you can do the cool stuff….but doing cool stuff that actually works? A little tougher.

4. Are brands spending more money on social? Yes. But where? Unsurprisingly, brands have identified social as a top area of focus for 2013 (according to Digiday’s Brand Investment Report 2013). Maybe a little more surprising is that despite all the talk about it, spending on social and digital marketing was subpar in 2012. BUT, 82 percent of the senior marketers interviewed expect spending to increase in 2013 and 2014. But where? Well, the usual suspects are there – Facebook, twitter, YouTube – although only small increases are expected in this tier one level (two – five percent).

Where there is expected to be a significant increase is in the ‘second-tier’ group. According to the report, “in 2013 and 2014, expected usage rates run from the low end at 10 percent for Google Plus to 27 percent for Tumblr, a three-way tie among LinkedIn, Instagram and Foursquare at roughly 50 percent each, and Pinterest, the leader in this tier, at about 60 percent.”

I can’t disagree with this – and it’s certainly in-line with everything I’ve been reading/seeing. It will be interesting to see, though, the impact a few key trends have on this, specifically:

  • Mobile development. More brands are looking for ways to create mobile-specific content; it will be hard to predict what trends emerge as a result of this and how they affect ways consumers interact with brands – and vice versa.
  • Vine. Fast forward six months – will Vine be in that second tier? And how will the ‘six second’ window affect future social developments/platforms?
  • The second screen. As social and online alternatives continue to change the way we view TV, are some of those numbers too low?

Forget predicting the future….the real challenge is predicting the present.