DuPont’s internet-video ads on blogs

DuPont just launched a new series of internet-video ads — stories about science starring Amanda Congdon — that they are placing on blogs. Steve Baker of Business Week writes about it here and Josh Bernoff of Forrester here. Here are the videos with Amanda in a white lab coat, which has to be someone’s fantasy.

Full disclosure: I consulted on the effort. I was brought in because I know the folks at Rishad Tabaccowala’s think-do tank Denou at Publicis. When they started, they wanted to involve bloggers and I insisted that the only was to do that was through advertising on the blogs; it’s a clear relationship and it also gives respect to the medium and its people (I’m happy to see that Bernoff liked this). I introduced them to Amanda (which thrilled them; it was as if I’d snagged Oprah). And I gave some advice on the videos (obvious stuff: put your best stuff first, make them short and fun). And I suggested Bright Cove for the serving and Federated Media as an ad network. And they bought lunch.

I’m glad that we’re seeing internet video and blogs and ad money come together. This is the kind of new thinking you can bring to life in these new media. I will leave it to you to say what you think of the program and the videos:

: LATER: Radar goes after Amanda for shilling while also reporting with ABC. Legit discussion. But it’s not a first; she is making a Dove commercial at Blip and she made commercials for first first sponsors on Rocketboom. There are a bunch of different issues besides the one Radar raises, including how small shops will handle the sponsorship they get (a la Rocketboom).

: LATER STILL: See Amanda’s blog:

ABC and HBO both approved the DuPont spots. And under the “blogger” title, which is what I am, hello? I am not subject to the “rules” traditional journalists have to follow.

Isn’t that what new media is all about? Breaking the rules? Setting our own? I see nothing wrong with doing commercials, which is what they, quite transparently, are. If DuPont had tried to pass them off as authentic, homegrown videos, yeah, then that would’ve been wrong (and, of course, I would never have agreed to the project if that was the plan). . . .

It’s also about acting.

: THURSDAY UPDATE: Here‘s an LA Times story about bloggers in ads out of this.

  • Short, sweet, to the POINT and rich in content. Excellent. Just the sort of thing you need to pique interest in a product.

  • As project leader for DuPont, I personally want to thank-you for your counsel and insights in helping us to put the pieces together for this project. I remember clearly when I attended the Blog-On Conference (2005?) in New York the attempt to bring marketers and bloggers together in some sort of collaboration. Since then, the space has continued to evolve and mature and so have the marketers. And both bloggers and marketers, I think, have moved closer in setting principles for how marketers can reach out to the blogosphere.

    Gary Spangler

  • Paw

    So what’s the point here, Jeff? DuPont wanted to let the world know that Kevlar stops bullets? Is there even an alternative to Kevlar for stopping bullets?

    And why does DuPont feel the need to advertise products that are really just ingredients for other products? Correct me if I’m wrong, but a typical blog reader couldn’t buy Kevlar or Teflon or any ingredient like this off the shelf, even if they wanted to.

    Is it simply an educational campaign? If so, who are they educating? Cops? Don’t they already know what they need to know about Kevlar?

    Is it a feel good campaign? If so, why does DuPont need me, or anyone else for that matter, to feel good about it? Are there negative consequences for them if I don’t?

    A puzzling effort, to say the least…

  • Steve Elbows

    Wow its kind of trippy seeing a new age net video equivalent of all those company-sponsored ‘public education films’ of the last century, the sort of thing thats in the prelinger archive.

    I seem to recall that Amanda was in at least 1 TV advert before becoming the face of rocketboom, so Im not sure if this is quite as much of a crossover as it might appear. So I am still waiting for the promised revolution where the multitude also have an opportunity to sell out and star in an ad.

    Im sure its been several years since execs first started pondering on the possibilities of getting their consumers to make videos praising the products, and yet when I go on youtube I am not yet innundated with videos of people telling me how much they love their vacuum cleaner.

    It would be amusing if the future reality turned out to be a powerful voice of honest appraisal or criticism from the masses, and advertising’s effectiveness was permanently diminished as a result. Are those arguments about integrity of blogs still going on, have we learnt much about how willingly people in the blogosphere may ‘sell out’ and whether they can be had for a bargain price? Or are those with the dosh still too hesitant for us to really see what happens if they start throwing oodles of cash at a far widre range of people who have ‘a voice in web 2 land’?

  • Amanda Congdon is such an over-actor. Lindsay Campbell is a real pro and it shows. She is much more believable and would make a better spokesperson for a serious company.

    Paw made excellent points.

  • There’s something a little silly about Amanda wearing a “Peace on Earth” t-shirt while discussing bullet-proof vests and hearing handguns go off. Mark also has a point, Lindsay Campbell at wallstrip is great.

  • Thanks for the link. I don’t care what people say, Amanda in a labcoat is fun!

    As for the comments above, ingredient branding campaigns are de rigeur now. Think of NutraSweet and of course the biggie, Intel. (Are you buying computer chips?) They’re an important way to influence the actual buyers of the product when, say, somebody comes out with their own version of Kevlar.

    Who names these products anyway ?

  • I’d say Amanda did a great job.

    She has her own style, and this seems a little toned down from her RocketBoom stuff. In the clip she does about Nomex, she easily mentions that it doesn’t begin to char until about 350 degrees centigrade. I’m glad the scriptwriters didn’t make her stop and ponder what this would be equivalent to in the more familiar fahrenheit scale (662 degrees), in a kind of gee-whiz-that’s-pretty-hot-but-I’m-beautiful-and-not-expected-to-know-this fashion.

    It got me interested enough to go to the DuPont Web site to find out more about this polymer, but I was disappointed in how the information was dispersed over many pages further obfuscated by confusing navigation. They should see how the Wikipedia treats this subject, and do something similiar. It’s a much better information grab.

    I think these short videos go a long way in supporting the company’s brands. Printed pieces are so over, and tv ads tend to be annoying. Here, you click if you want to, and like I said, if you’re interested in more info, you can immediately do a search.

  • So why didn’t you mention this on myshow? Sheesh!

    I think companies simply want to get their name associated with warm, fuzzy ideas. I think some problems arise when Amanda is assigned by ABC news to cover some type of Dupot environmental lawsuit or whatever. hmmmm akward moment. But the production values are quite nice and the pacing of the spot moved it right along. Great video snack.

  • Paw: DuPont competes with AlliedSignal when it comes to ballistic materials. AlliedSignal makes a material called Spectra, and from my days working for a company that sold both Kevlar and Spectra vests, I remember the Spectra material offered the same protection as Kevlar, but at a lighter weight.

    Maybe AlliedSignal should take Mark’s advice and hire Lindsay Campbell to do some videos for them. They could even bring Jeff in to consult!

  • Not being snarky but am I not seeing clearly or does Amanda’s face look as polished as a Barbie Doll?

  • When formerly non-profitable creative endeavor starts to garner corporate sponsorship, it likely becomes a watered-down versions of what it was to begin with. This video is simply a corporate commercial for DuPont. Perhaps it’s an example of the convergence of old and new media, but also an example of the former subsuming the latter and stripping it of original intent. There’s no real creativity here, very little science. In fact it reminds me of 1950s corporate propaganda films. I guess I’m far too left-leaning to appreciate this turn of events. I dislike corporations, especially huge, politically influential companies like DuPont, so I inherently consider their marketing efforts as part of the same evil.

  • It is what it is; good cheesy fun. I like cheese every now and then.

  • Will everything Amanda does from now on be examined from the point of view of who is paying her? She is now just another corporate shill (sorry spokesperson) who is using a new outlet to get the message out.

    The blogger “ethic” was the lonely person with a passionate need to get their message out. Doing it for commercial purposes is hijacking the blogger theme – and in perfect sync with how all fringe movements get subsumed into the mainstream eventually.

    If Jeff’s point is that a video ad may be more effective online than a simple static block of type, then he is probably right. Personally I find the intermingling of sound and video on a page with mostly type off putting. This goes back to the early days when Apple was promoting authoring products like hypercard that enabled this. Moving images distract from the fixed text. I have no problem with this material appearing in response to an explicit action on the part of the reader like clicking on the play arrow or opening a new window.

  • PS. Just an ironic note. Dupont got its start by making gun powder and was, for a long time, the largest producer in the US.

    So how much has their history of making inexpensive gun powder contributed to the widespread availability of guns in the US? Is it possible that Dupont made the gunpowder that powers the bullets that Dupont-made Kevlar is supposed to defend against?

  • It somethng new, different and informative. I find them interesting.

  • Paw

    “The blogger “ethic” was the lonely person with a passionate need to get their message out. Doing it for commercial purposes is hijacking the blogger theme – and in perfect sync with how all fringe movements get subsumed into the mainstream eventually.”

    Punk rock sells wireless services, hip hop sells cognac and Led Zeppelin sells Chevys, Robert. It’s the American way.

    Re: gun powder – what a perfect way to perpetuate your place in a market! Provide the means to inflict death as well as the means to prevent that exact type of death. It’s as if a company that made smoke detectors also made matches.

  • Rob F: “Will everything Amanda does from now on be examined from the point of view of who is paying her?”

    Healthy skepticism is always beneficial, especially when you’re using the info to form an opinion or make a decision. Unlike with print, tv and radio advertising, you can immediately do a search to find a forum of police officers or firefighters to get the views of the users of the end products that are supposed to protect against bullets or fire. If anything, Web advertising should expect the info viewership to take a more active role in discussing the issues presented. The blogger ethic is not diminished. If you have a better take, you can post your argument.

  • It looks like Amanda’s work with DuPont has been elevated to kerfuffledom.

    Huffingtonpost is posting: “ABC News Vidcaster Shills For DuPont On The Side”

  • Spork

    Why am I supposed to think she’s entertaining? Her delivery is awful, and her teleprompter reading is painfully obvious. She’s just another blond bimbo with lip gloss and goes for cute poses instead of actual personality.

    What’s the word of the day, kids?

  • KateCoe

    SOrry, I think Amanda is a lousy choice. Try thinking with the head on your shoulders, and find someone who knows what she’s talking about. How hard would that have been? Shame on you, Jeff Jarvis.

  • Once again we are talking about Amanda Congdon. This time, though, things are much more serious and less about how she looks. Amanda is, whether we like it or not, the prominent face of what could be the new tv-web journo. And what she does with advertorial-whatever is a legitimate discussion as it could shape the future — dare I say it? — of television-web news.

    This is more than just a 3am in the morning C-Span discussion on “Ethics in journalism.” No doubt Howard Kurtz will tackle this on Reliable Sources. Did she do the right thing? I think the question demands a much more nuanced answer that, “it’s the American way.” She doesn’t tarnish herself with the choice, but does she tar ABC? Just asking …

  • And under the “blogger” title, which is what I am, hello? I am not subject to the “rules” traditional journalists have to follow.

    If you don’t want to follow the “rules” of “traditional journalists”, then maybe you shouldn’t be working for a “news organization”… people have expectations for personalities associated with ABC News that they do not have for personalities associated with Random Basement Podcast Inc.

  • ben

    I agree with Spork and KateCoe. A pretty face with plenty of BuZz doing what comes naturally in America, but doing a poor job. What it did for me, via this blog’s comments, was to introduce me to Spectra. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before.

    I don’t have a problem with her shilling for DuPont (god Money, I’ll do anything for you), but if I were DuP I would have demanded a better performance and as many takes as it would take to get it.

  • Pingback: Dupont’s “Video Blog Ads” With Amanda Congdon at ChasNote()

  • Pingback: Innovative videoblogging ad goes after new audience - Lost Remote TV Blog()

  • Pingback: Blogumentary [chuck olsen]()

  • Pingback: » Innovative videoblogging ad goes after new audience()

  • David M

    if “bloggers” expect the legal protection afforded to traditional journalists (see the Apple-Blogger issue) then dont they have to follow some of the “traditional” rules that Amanda ignores?

  • I’m sorry Jeff. I am with you 98% of the time. This time we’re in the 2% rule.

  • Pingback: Nashville is Talking » The Curious Case of Amanda Congdon()

  • Maybe Jarvis doesn’t realize is that he is helping to make online video that much more like television, with the deep pocketed corporations dominating much of the stage. His emphasis seems to be on how some of the big guys (such as FOX and DuPont) seem to be “getting it.” Whereas others (newspapers, traditional print media) are not. Jarvis’s role in this DuPont/Congdon flap should not be ignored merely because he took his consulting money behind the scenes. His commercial sellout is just a clear and critical as Congdon’s. It’s this sort of greed that will damage and subvert something that started as a truly great thing.

  • Brooklyn,
    Oh, my, angry today. Criticism of working with a sponsor is fair; I’m not sure I’d do it again. But the reason I did it in the end was because I do believe that bloggers who want advertising should get it and that advertising is the proper vehicle for marketing in that space. If you don’t want advertising, fine, no one is forcing you to take it. But many do. Is that greed? Was my paycheck from media companies, supported by advertising? I don’t think so. Advertising will also support people being able to quit their jobs and do this, which they love. I don’t think you can begrudge them that if they want it.

    Yeah, I get it.

  • Jeff, your reaction to my post kind of misses the point (and begins with an ad hominem attack). You say you “believe bloggers who want advertising should get it” but it doesn’t look that way to me. I have a hard time believing that you agreed to consult with DuPont because you wanted to help bloggers get advertising. If you did, I’m sorry for doubting you.

    If giving bloggers business was your intention, than DuPont definitely took advantage of your altruistic heart, because they could care less who they’re paying for advertising. DuPont doesn’t care whether their checks are made out to BoingBoing or Time Magazine. They just wanted to get maximum WOM buzz for their marketing dollar and assumed that that exploiting Amanda Congdon’s naiveté and publicizing it through blogs was a good way to get bloggers singing. They were right.

    And, to your latter point, your paycheck from media companies was most certainly a result of advertising. How else to media companies make money but through advertising? But that point also misses the point. I’m not talking about the media companies who are paying you, I’m talking about the check you took from DuPont.

    Politically and economically I come from the perspective of the far left, so I have an inherent mistrust for mega-corporations of any stripe, media companies or chemical companies, their ethics are dubious at best. What excites me so much about the Web is that it does level the playing field, allowing the little guy to compete with the big guy. It shatters the walls that have heretofore held small or invisible players back from participating in the cultural conversation.

    When big media gets involved, when big companies get involved it tends to water down and subvert what the little guy would say with more honesty. If he ever gets out of jail, somebody like Josh Wolf will cover stories that wouldn’t be economically viable for ABC to touch. But if Josh Wolf or other blogger-journalists started taking advertising from companies like DuPont, then they’d be in the same position as ABC, etc.

  • Brooklyn,
    OH, come on. ‘Ad hominem attack” is the most overused prissiness over pissiness in the blog world. You were grumpy and angry and attacked me.
    Yes, I did do this because I wanted to see bloggers get a chance to get revenue. As I said, I sent them to Federated and also to BlogAds. They did care about buying ads on blogs.
    I turned down taking the ad myself since I was already involved and thought someone else should get the spare dollars in the first test buy.
    And if you want the little guy to compete with the big guy, that includes making a living off advertising and taking marketshare from that big guy.
    I know plenty of people on the left who make money from advertising. How do you think Arianna is going to support Huffpo? How do you think the besainted Al Gore got so rich? Internet advertising stock value.
    We all need money. Fact of life. You can do whatever you want in that regard but I find it an ad hominem attack on lots of good bloggers to equate taking advertising with greed and destroying the world.
    And if you go off on another ad hominem rant, you’ll just prove that the far left has no sense of humor. So don’t.

  • Spork

    Jarvis, your openness to criticism is so refreshing.

  • Pingback: Basic Thinking Blog » DuPonts Infotainmercials mit Amanda()

  • Arianna Huffington and Al Gore are Democrats, liberals maybe, but they are hardly leftists. I think you have some reading to do. Thanks for cutting me off.

  • Pingback: » Learning English…()

  • Jeff, for what it’s worth, I’m glad I did the ads. I would have requested a better teleprompter (one over the camera lens– not above it) but other than that, I’m happy about how things turned out. And the controversy and all the press is actually terrific for me (professionally).

    BTW, ABCNews IS covering and will continue to cover the Josh Wolf case. We have discussed it in two episodes of my videoblog so far, and I am currently in the process (I wrote the request letter to the jail today) of trying to get a camera into the prison so I can interview Josh again.

    Also, it should be noted that I never said I wanted to break ALL the rules of old media, as the LA Times article implies there at the end. I just don’t think that that particular rule pertains to me, and I believe that we all need to rethink how these old rules apply to new paradigms.

    For instance, I still find fact checking incredibly important– an activity that many bloggers fail to do. I think it’s an old media rule that should be followed in the new media space.

  • Spork

    Old media rules versus new media rules?

    Bullshit. There are only media rules. The medium doesn’t matter, it’s the message. Isn’t content supposed to be king for you self-indulgent bloggers? You’re either a journalist, no matter the medium through which you deliver your journalism, or you’re a shill. Hugh Downs isn’t reporting anything anymore, he’s pimping pseudo scientific horse shit on late-night infomercials.

    Basically, you’re either a whore or you’re not. What do you wanna be when you grow up, Amanda?

  • My problem with the video is that I don’t quite see who the target audience will be. I think of my teenagers. They would find the presentation corny. I think their teachers might like it… I’d actually like Dupont to do five to 10-minute videos on the harder science they do. Things in nanotechnology. Nothing funny, but interesting. For example, when I was doing a BusinessWeek story on nanotechnology, I talked to people at Dupont about their coatings business. Sounds incredibly boring, I know. But if you can create coatings that reduce friction significantly, there’s an enormous savings in energy. These are the kinds of stories I’d like to see Dupont make. And I actually think they’d get more buzz on the Web.

  • I could redo the inside rubbings of my doe trainning pushed jokingly as the filipina celebrity sex scandal started a nut for itself inside me.

  • BigBlue56

    Spork is so right… I just saw that flaming has-been Hugh Downs shilling for a medical infomercial and attempting to dupe the ignorant, unfortunate masses.

    I guess his social security check isn’t enough to live off, so why not grab the money from the infirm, aged and naively hopeful.

    I never liked Hugh Downs and now I know why.