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Tag Archives: instagram

My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2013

It’s time for a breakdown of my top five spots from advertising’s biggest day. This was certainly a good year for Super Bowl advertising and an even bigger year for social media during the big game. Last year I ended up picking five funny spots and this year I have a more balanced list (as balanced as a top five list can get). Brands mostly went for heart-warming over hysterical this year and many of the comedic spots were really not that funny in my opinion or they were produced a little too over-the-top.

Social media played a role in this year’s brand bowl more so than ever before. If you’re a marketer reading this, I’m sure you’re well aware of the brilliant and timely posts delivered by the Oreo social media team. When the lights went out at the Superdome, Oreo pushed out the below image on Facebook and Twitter in a matter of minutes:

This was an image with real staying power. It picked up another thousand plus retweets the day after the big game, the Facebook post got over 20,000 ‘likes’ and close to 7,000 shares and the quick and witty post picked up tons of free press. Oreo is certainly on top of its game and made sure its ‘Cream Or Cookie’ Super Bowl spot was fully supported with social media build up and timely posts sent out before, during and even after the game. Social media activity like this can only be achieved with a command center and all hands on deck. The social media activity during the Super Bowl this year was certainly impressive, but it’s time to break down my favorite ads.

#5. Samsung Mobile USA – The Next Big Thing

I’m not usually one to fall for celebrity endorsements, but these two are hilarious. Not sure how much the ad will help in its epic battle for marketshare over Apple, but it can’t hurt.

#4. Viva Young – Taco Bell Game Day Commercial

This commercial is great. I can only wish I will be this cool when I’m sitting around in a retirement home a few decades from now. Only thing bad about it is now I have that Fun. song stuck in my head, which I spent most of 2012 trying to get rid of. At least it was in Spanish.

#3. OREO – Whisper Fight

A whisper fight in a library? Brilliant. Though I’m a little surprised it hadn’t been done before. Again, Oreo absolutely stole the show from a branding and marketing standpoint. They even took this moment to launch an Instagram account. Before the Super Bowl, Oreo had around 2,200 followers on Instagram and garnered around 35,000 followers by the end of Sunday night. Props to 360i and the Oreo social media command center.

#2. Budweiser Super Bowl Ad — The Clydesdales: “Brotherhood”

This ad literally brought tears to the eyes of some of my coworkers. With several terribly awful ads from Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch InBev totally redeemed itself with this tear-jerker of an ad.

#1. Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial “Farmer”

This one struck a chord with me from the first frame and had chills going through my spine by the end. Growing up in northwest Oklahoma and listening to farmers talk about the weather and wheat prices everyday definitely had an influence on this year’s pick. Paul Harvey had a big part in my life as well. Seemed like anytime I showed up at my grandparents house in Alva, Okla., Paul Harvey was delivering his famous “The Rest of the Story” segments on the kitchen radio. It also helped that the commercial was beautifully done with shots from a National Geographic photographer and a renowned documentary photographer. Nicely done, Dodge.

Bonus spots:

Because of my Oklahoma roots and because the Flaming Lips are just incredible in general: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe | Big Game Ad | “Epic Playdate

Because I love awkward moments: Unattended Laundry: You needed the machine. You got caught panty-handed (Speed Stick)

Because I love Amy Poehler: Best Buy – Asking Amy: Official 2013 Best Buy Game Day Commercial

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My Personal Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2012

My nine best on Instagram from 2012.

My nine best on Instagram from 2012.

Another year has gone by. I’ve been through some fairly major life changes. New city. New job. New friends. New experiences.

Instagram has gone through some major changes as well. The photo-sharing app with vintage filters opened its doors to Android users and a few days later was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in early April. A few Instagram users freaked out about the availability on the Android Market and even more freaked out after the news of Facebook’s purchase. Of course, this did nothing to slow its growth. In fact, during this 10 day period, the app saw explosive growth and ended up adding another 10 million users–1 million new users a day.

Then Instagram changed its privacy policy and people freaked out again–this time with the idea that Facebook was going to start selling users’ photos. This would all come to a close soon enough after Instagram apologized to its users and vowed to remove language that suggests they have the right to sell users’ photos. Oh, and a new version with a new filter was recently launched. Nice timing.

Now that you’re all caught up on the latest happenings of Instagram; let’s take a look at some of my personal top photos. For the second consecutive year, I have combed through my hundreds of photos and picked my top 10 of the year. I posted a good number of images shot with my Nikon D90, but this list is comprised of only photos shot and edited with my iPhone. You can take a look back at my top 10 photos of 2011 to see I have continued to grow as a photographer and get more creative with my shots. To view all my best photos from 2012, follow my on Instagram (@eric_wheeler) and view my hashtag #wheelers_best_of_2012. Take a look at my top 10 and let me know what you think!


Instacanvas: An Easy way for Instagram Users to Sell Their Work

Click to view my Instacanvas gallery.

Click the image above to view my Instacanvas gallery.

If you’re an Instagramer you have probably heard of Instacanvas by now. Interestingly though, Instacanvas has received little media attention thus far. Some of the larger tech and social media news sites I generally turn to have yet to crank out a feature story on the new start-up. That is rather surprising considering the site is generating 1.2 million unique monthly visitors and supplying around 20,000 artists with galleries to showcase their work and hopefully earn some passive income.

The concept behind Instacanvas is simple, but I’ll turn to the Instacanvas website to describe its offerings:

With Instacanv.as, Instagrammers can signup to sell their art and then people looking for something cool for their walls can buy that art printed on stretched canvas. We’ll print it, ship it, and tell you that you’re the best too.

I first discovered Instacanvas while scrolling through my home feed on Instagram and was pretty excited about the opportunity to showcase my work and hopefully sell a few items. I’ve been asked by a few people now if I sell my work. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is a little more complicated. Printing, shipping and collecting money for my work can be quite difficult and time consuming (though, selling my work in person is a rather simple transaction). Instacanvas will hopefully solve some of these issues the next time someone asks to buy one of my Instagram photos.

Instacanvas appears to be open to everyone now, but in its early beta days (a few weeks ago), only users who were in the greatest demand were granted a gallery. This is undoubtedly where much of the early success of Instacanvas stems from. Using the power of Instagram’s 50 million users to promote a website is a sure way to gain some early attention. When I first heard of Instacanvas, I immediately started asking people to help me open my gallery via Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Instagram. I got the support I needed and about a week later, my gallery was open.

I have yet to see a physical canvas print, but the Instacanvas website claims they have developed proprietary image resizing technology that enables them to make beautiful canvas prints, up to 20 x 20 inches from Instagram photos. Of course, I would be absolutely delighted if I sold a few pieces, but I might even buy a print or two for myself or as gifts. The price is reasonable and I’m curious to see how my Instagram shots would look on 20 x 20 canvas–I have never printed Instagram photos larger than 5 x 5 inches. Maybe you’ll be the first to see my Instagram photos on stretched canvas?

Please click here to view my Instacanvas gallery.


Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 2 – The Power of Visuals

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of knowing your audience as I presented at a recent St. Cloud State University mass communications alumni event. Now is time for part two of that discussion: the importance of visuals in communication.

The idea that people are visually minded is nothing new, but I feel it is important to discuss as the concept directly transfers to the public relations industry. There’s been talk for a number of years about whether or not news releases are effective and if they are on the way out. The short answer is no, they are not on the way out. That’s my opinion maybe, but as long as there are journalists with tight deadlines and news organizations that continue to cut staff, news releases will be an easy go-to source for journalists.

Without getting into the particulars of  journalists expected to push out more content in a shorter amount of time and editors choosing to sensationalize soft stories instead of producing in-depth hard news, I’ll just say news releases are still important. What has changed over the past few years is how the news release is developed and disseminated.

Now in the PR world we’re seeing more interactive news releases. News releases optimized for search engines and the “social media news release” are commonplace. These are news releases rich in content—containing at least one visual element, keywords and links for more information. A media-rich news release is far more effective in reaching a target audience and should resonate with reporters much better.

Visuals are so effective now that many companies are using infographics in place of the news release. Infographics are great because they can take relatively complicated statistics and visualize them into easy-to-understand graphs. A news release with a bunch of stats crammed in the body will never be as effective as a well-designed infographic. They also are easy to share and can make their way around the Internet with little effort.

Further building off the importance of visuals in PR, let’s take a look at what has brought us to this point. Surly, communications specialists have recognized the importance of strong visuals long ago. Marketing and advertising is almost completely based off of visual cues. Even radio commercials contain a visual element—a good radio spot will paint a picture in the mind of the listener, which can be more effective than actually seeing something in print or video.

Social media and, more importantly Web 2.0, have made it much easier to share images and video across a variety of platforms. A few major news items have surfaced over the past few months that have really made this point be heard.

The first is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to pin images that link back to the original source onto “boards,” or a scrapbook-style collection of a user’s personality. Pinterest is significant because the website hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any standalone site ever.

Another interesting phenomenon is Draw Something hitting 20 million active users in just seven weeks. Draw Something is a Pictionary-style mobile gaming application in which users draw something from a set of words and the other user watches the drawing unfold as he/she tries to guess the word.

A final piece of news is that of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion–which was still a startup at the time with only 9 employees. Each of these news items should aid in understanding the the importance of using visuals in communication.

Lastly, please stop using comic sans and clip art:


My Personal Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2011

This has turned out to be my most popular photo on Instagram.

By now I am sure you have all read plenty of top 10 lists and ‘best of 2011’ countdowns. I promise you, however, I am not just sticking with the trend on this one. I could write a typical list of the year’s biggest stories in PR or social media, but I want to write about something that has truly changed me for the better.

When I joined Instagram a little over a year ago, I mostly used it to capture some of the little moments in my life–attending a concert, ogling over a sandwich I just made or posting a snapshot with friends. I mostly just snapped a quick picture and applied one the awesome filters from Instagram–without giving it much thought.

As the months carried on, I started participating in the many photo challenges and playing a more active role in the vast Instagram community (now with more than 15 million users). Soon my creativity started to blossom and I began using many extra photo apps to edit my photos. I began pushing myself to take photos from new angles and to bring about extra meaning to my images.

Throughout the past year I have grown as a photographer. While I still maintain a rather traditional approach when I have my Nikon D90 in-hand I do feel the creative power of Instagram and “iPhoneography” has brought me to a level beyond novice photographer. Shooting a wedding, doing outdoor portraits and low-lit concerts have helped refine my skills as a photographer and they have definitely helped me gain a better understanding of my equipment. However, Instagram has opened up my imagination and allow me to be more accepting of the editing process as a whole. After all, photography in its most premitive form does entail a certain amount of manipulation. Rarely (if ever) will a photograph appear exactly as it would in real life. Even if you are the perfect photographer who can almost always get that near-lifelike image; photography is an art form and should be treated as such.

The photos below represent my personal top 10 from the past year with my most popular photo at the top of this post. If you’re on Instagram, please follow me: @eric_wheeler. You can also view my full list of top photos of 2011 by searching the hashtag #wheelers_best_of_2011.

I should note all the photos above were taken and edited with only my iPhone. I had a few worthy shots from my Nikon D90, but wanted to only post photos from my iPhone. Probably my most notable non-iPhone photo I took involved using my Nikon D90 and a tripod during a July Fourth fireworks display in St. Cloud, Minn. Cheers to another year of Instagram!


Then I saw my Life in Pummelvision!

I believe I came across this gem of an idea a few weeks ago via TechCrunch. I immediately fell in love with the concept: Pummelvision flashes your life before your eyes using photos from around the web. What Pummelvision does is it collects photos you already have posted to Facebook, Flickr, DailyBooth or Dropbox and puts them into a short, high quality video, which automatically uploads to Vimeo or YouTube. What really draws me in is the intense music and high-quality photos that flash by at a perfectly fast rate.

After reading the article on TechCrunch and watching their video, I went straight to the site and uploaded my own Pummelvision (above). It turned out to be a great way to showcase some of my photography over the past couple years. The only negative I found is the site takes a day or two to process your video, but that beats me trying to do it myself. Another downside is there is only one soundtrack. However, I can appreciate that decision–the site is trying to maintain simplicity, and since they went with such a unique and fun score, I’ll deal.

It will be fun to see creative Pummelvisions by photographers and people who lead interesting lives. Photo apps for mobile devices and social photo sites are all the rage these days and I could definitely see Pummelvision teaming up with Instagram and some other leading mobile photo apps in the future. I would definitely like to see NPR’s Instagram photo stream in Pummelvision.

The site has some of the better videos featured in gallery form, and YouTube is already gathering quite the quantity of Pummelvisions as well. My favorite so far? A collection of photos of cups of coffee. Now I don’t even like coffee, but with the music, speed and variety of coffee mugs and surroundings, this video is pretty sweet.


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