Thursday, December 22, 2011

merry christmas from never get out of the boat

This will most likely be the last message posted here this side of Christmas, so thanks to everyone who's read, shared, commented, tweeted, liked and +1-d throughout the year.

And also thanks to all the rest of the blogosphere and twitterati who's links and thoughts I've waded through and magpied the nuggets.

Three special shout-outs for services beyond the call go to..

Marcus Brown
Mark Earls
and
Johnnie Mooore

I was tempted to post The Fountains of Wayne's 'I want an Alien for Christmas' in honour of the impending 2012 paradigm shift and the mass awakening - all at once - of the entire human race, however that would be a bit too cheerful so I've stuck with tradition and gone with The Fall...



Thanks again for your eyeballs in 2011, see you after the jump.

Eaon



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the case for real customer insight

Tweet of the week, and possibly the season itself.

This sums up exactly the problem facing Australian retailers.

The problem being that the vast majority don't even have a scooby what their customers problems really are.

They, in fact, don't have it all wrapped up.



Full marks to The Garden Doctor for the wit in retort, but it should have come from Myer or Jones, if they were listening.



On the listening note, it's also worth pointing out that for many brands, social listening is little else than a sub-affliction of Mott The Hoople Syndrome, in as much as they only listen for mentions of themselves, by name or their category and competitors.

Imagine the rich pickings for companies that listened properly for customer problems that they were in a unique spot to fix?

the myth of the 'influencers'

Here’s the thing.

This keeps coming up, so just to be clear on what is and isn’t correct it’s worth considering this.

There's a lot of false assumption and BS that tends to fly about ‘seeding’ and ‘bloggers’ and ‘online pr’ etc with regards to the 'influence' this supposedly has on behaviour.

The alleged ‘influencers’, or ‘the few’ if you’ve read The Tipping Point are documented as consisting of, at most, 10-15% of any given population.
These 'influencers' are the so-called opinion-leaders in any given category or sphere.

These ‘influencers’ are thought to initiate up to, and at most, 25-30% of the conversations about brands in any category or sphere.

While these people do have some influence, granted, it's a danger to overestimate that influence. The web has thrown up a large number of self-annointed influentials, with large twitter followings or blog readership.

This really the equivalent of celebrity endorsements.

Or like broadcast advertising, and conventional PR (ie 'publicity').

It's useful up to a point, in as much as it can help with 'branding' the thing and contributes to generating awareness and other such high level brand measures.

However, it's the people not recognized as ‘influencers’ - ie the ‘nobodies’ - who will still account for starting 70-80% of the conversations which contain brands. Because the effects of influence only reveal themselves after-the-fact then 'nobodies' can quickly appear to be influencers. Which they are, of course, it's just their influence is nearly impossible to predict in advance.

And a massive chunk of that happens offline, by the way...

So, that 70-80% of conversation that actually has real influence in terms of decision making and adoption of behaviour is originating with us, the ‘nobodies’ and happens with the people we go home to, or work with or socialize with.

Instead of looking to the idea of ‘uber-influencers’ to help our ideas spread we should focus activating small connected groups of close relationships that are connected to the idea in some form, from the outset.

The people who actually influence our behavior are usually the people who are closest to us., both emotionally and by simple geographic proximity.

We’re also know via the sensible end of neuroscience and behavioural/social science that most decisions are made unconsciously, without critical thinking (even though we think we are thinking).

So even getting celebrity tweeters, or mommy bloggers to publish facts or product information en mass would still have limited value.

Don't confuse influence with popularity.

What we need is stories that will spread though small interconnected groups.

If you want a one-two-three in marketing terms, this is about distributing emotional cues as the triggers (orchestrating) and then engaging in the resulting situations (as direct agents) to draw others (spectators) in to become participants.

- See last weeks post on Hurricane Bawbag, for how this works for real.

We 'do' then 'think'.

In reality we are all influencers.

And 'nobodies' are the new 'somebodies', as Guy Kawasaki puts it.

The myth of the uber influencer whom everyone looks up to and follows is just that.
A myth.

For more on this stuff check what KellerFay, the Word of Mouth Research and Consulting Firm, say.
It's well worth having a dig about in here for the nuggets. kellerfay.com/category/insights/

And also ask Santa to pop 'Grouped' - by ex-Googler and now Facebook Social Researcher, Paul Adams - into your stocking.
The principle hypothesis of Grouped being that the web is being rebuilt around people, and from which I've pulled one or two stats and notes for this post.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

natural selection and social learning

It's worth spending the 30mins or so with this talk by Mark Pagel, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Head of the Evolution Laboratory at the University of Reading.

He has a number of hypotheses around the notion of natural selection in genetics as it sits alongside social learning - the peculiarly human trait.

Pagel points to direct comparison between social learning as driving idea evolution - we copy people that we see as being successful in some way, we copy ideas that seem to be good, and adapt and improve upon them - and then natural selection, having driven genetic evolution in a more random fashion.

This is of course, pretty interesting for the advertiser and marketer in understanding how we make decisions, and also adds another angle to the post-idea world notion we discussed just the other week.

Here's an excerpt from Pagels diatribe.

'Do we know the answers to the most important questions in our lives? Should you buy a particular house? What mortgage product should you have? Should you buy a particular car? Who should you marry? What sort of job should you take? What kind of activities should you do? What kind of holidays should you take? We don't know the answers to most of those things. And if we really were the deeply intelligent and imaginative and innovative species that we thought we were, we might know the answers to those things...

And if we ask ourselves how it is we come across the answers, or acquire the answers to many of those questions, most of us realize that we do what everybody else is doing....

...our capacity for social learning, which is responsible for all of our cumulative cultural adaptation, all of the things we see around us in our everyday lives, has actually promoted a species that isn't so good at innovation...maybe we're not as creative and as imaginative and as innovative as we thought we were, but extraordinarily good at copying and following.'





There's no embed code for the video so jump over to edge.org for the full video and transcript.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

social influence and hurricane bawbag

What a delight to comment on a textbook classic case of the spread of a 'viral' idea principally via social learning/influence, shared cultural context and the fact that the carrier of the idea was the 'product' itself, if you like.

That it originates from Scotland makes it a double bonus.

I'm talking, naturellement, about Hurricane Bawbag.

Bawbag, is the label afforded to the particularly bad storm in Scotland, that peaked on the 8th December, who's 160mph winds closed schools and businesses and caused havok across the country.

For those from a sheltered upbringing Bawbag is West of Scotland slang for scrotum.

The nuts and bolts have been well documented elsewhere so I'll not dwell, but suffice to say the hashtag #hurricanebawbag was reported as trending globally on Twitter, while in the UK the shorter #bawbag also (more pragmatically) trended.

Even local government were in, Stirling council wrote on their twitter feed, “All Libraries are closing up at 1 o’clock – see Stirling Council Website for details #scotstorm #HurricaneBawbag”- though the tweet seems to have now been removed from the stream.

The national Scottish newspaper The Scotsman were also happy to join in, tweeting..


(Note: I just wanted to test the 'embed tweet' thing on the new twitter)

Within hours t-shirts bearing slogans like 'We beat Hurricane Bawbag' appeared for sale online, along with a dedicated Twitter account and Facebook 'fan' pages, alongside the almost obligatory twitter meme #ReplaceSongNamesWithBawbag ('Don't you wish your bawbag was hot like me!')

At their King Tuts gig in Glasgow on 13th December 2011, the band 100 Monkeys asked their audience to suggest a song title and they would make it up as they went along.
The audience replied in unison 'Hurricane Bawbag'.

Bawbag can help us remember a few key lessons on why an idea spreads.

- Firstly, viral is an effect or outcome not a ‘thing’ (most important rule).

- Everyone is an influencer (2nd most important rule)- this idea spread through small, tightly connected groups gaining momentum and scaling exponentially with each new connection, through it's own steam it became so big that mainstream media had to notice it.

- An idea will be spread principally because the spreaders want it to spread.There's value for the spreaders.

- There's room in the idea for people to add their own bit to the story.

- The idea resonates or represents something that's already in the culture.

- Some people are in, some are out.
(hearing an English newsreader unwittingly say 'bawbag' on the 9 o'clock news would, of course be the comedy moment of the year).

Perhaps my favourite anecdote, and the one which best demonstrates the point, on how and why things spread comes courtesy of The First Post, who report the following conversation on a tube train in London, in which a daughter was trying to convince her mother that the storm was indeed called 'Bawbag.

“Why would they call it that?” asked the mother.

The daughter showed her video on her phone and the front page of The Metro free newspaper and replies...

“If everyone starts calling it that, you have to call it that.”



Friday, December 09, 2011

i am not a consumer: part 2276

Here's another gratuitous and completely unnecessary use of the c-word.

This time Mumbrella, reporting on the otherwise smart Steal A Banksy situation devised by Naked for The Art Hotel chain.

'The Steal Banksy challenge will see consumers attempt to get their hands on a signed print of the subversive British graffiti artist’s No Ball Games.'

Watch your thoughts because they become your words.

Why are hotel guests here labelled 'consumers'?

What's wrong with 'hotel guests'.

Yours sincerely,
P. Dant.



a spectre haunts the creative imagination part 2

We've talked about Beaudrillard here before, the brittleness of systems.

'Systems are inherently brittle and retain authority only as long as we treat them as having authority', he said. 'But once you lose the fear of systems, or conventions, the status quo, they lose the hold they have over you.'

In other words existing models do not represent reality; they are simply our constructs.

Not surprising when we understand how our unconscious brain observes, soaks up what's going on around and gives cues to the rational brain, fills in the gaps and tells us what we think.

Hence the notion that we don't think, nearly as much as we think, we think.

The vast majority of what we think is thinking, is actually stories made up by the non-conscious part of the mind.

And of course, the stories we believe most are the ones we tell ourselves.

But that's ok. This is where ideas come from. Great ideas.

Someone sent me this article from The New York Times, in which academic Neal Gabler laments the dearth of 'big ideas' in contemporary culture.

He has some points but spoils it with some fairly standard Luddite internet-bashing schlock.

'Social networking sites are the primary form of communication among young people, and they are supplanting print, which is where ideas have typically gestated'.

This is plainly incorrect, as demonstrated one of the most interesting and powerful ideas emerging in recent times being the notion of the Gutenberg Parenthesesis.

In which digital/social/mobile culture - in a way - is a return to an uncontained, non-linearity that was core to human societies in the ages before industrialization, mass production and, in particular, the invention, by Gutenberg, of the printing press.

Gabler's fear is a 'post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them.'

I'm more optimistic than that.

'Marx pointed out the relationship between the means of production and our social and political systems.
Freud taught us to explore our minds as a way of understanding our emotions and behaviors.
Einstein rewrote physics.
More recently, McLuhan theorized about the nature of modern communication and its effect on modern life.
These ideas enabled us to get our minds around our existence and attempt to answer the big, daunting questions of our lives.'


However, I do concurr with the notion that 'there is a vast difference between profit-making inventions and intellectually challenging thoughts'.

As there is a difference between creativity and simply wacky or gimmicky ideas.
The difference is in the value they create rather than the value they extract.

So the social media experts who point at Farmville's multi million turnover as the great success story are missing the point.

On that note, there is clearly something awry with a culture that- in all seriousness- produces things like this without the slightest hint of irony.


For dummies, you say?

'Farmville for Dummies' found via @umairh

insidr



There's an inevitable-ness about this service that is both wonderful in it's inventiveness and yet frightening in as much as 'has-it-really-come-to-this'.

Insidr.

'Rewriting the rules of customer support.'

Connect directly to real people who have worked in big companies and are willing to help when the company can't or won't.

They say “We started INSIDR because we feel helpless when we have to call customer support. We decided to find a better way – that relies on real people and not company politics – to solve the problem.”

Not only that, the potential to lift the lid on customer services practices that we all suspect to be true , yet have no proof, can only be a good thing.

In the office the other day, we discussed the one whereby an customer service person says 'thanks, I'll add a note to your account about that' followed by some typing noises.

Are they really adding a note to my account?

Or just tapping the keyboard?

If indeed they are adding a note, what does it say?

I never get to see the note, anyway.

Does the note say 'annoying douchebag, get rid of him as quickly as possible.'?

What kind of flakey data is being generated about me, that I will never see?

Story via Techcrunch.

And thx to ProjectVRM mailing list.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

connect with fans #783 G+ edition

I'm becoming more convinced that the jewel in Google+'s crown is the Hangout functionality.

In fact the more that sections of the geek-o-sphere proclaim the imminent death of Google+ the more I'm convinced that there's a long, long way to go yet.

Here's two ways musicians have used Hangout's creatively to connect with fans.

Check out Black Eyed Peas before, during (on stage, behind the band, looking at the crowd in Central Park and the NYC skyline) and after the show.



And to demonstrate that it works small as well as big, singer-songwriter Daria Musk has built up a sizeable following from a grass roots level by being an early mover in the space.



Like Bill Drummond said...

The technology comes first, then artists mess with it - in ways the engineers never imagined - and new things come out the other end.

It goes wide and goes deep.

BEP HT to Tommy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

it's advertising year zero (movin' on up)

Following yesterday evening's session at 474Labs, our internal agency learning and sharing group thingy - in which Mark Earls kindly beamed in from London at the unholy hour of 6.30am, to talk to us about some of the ideas from his new book 'I'll Have What She's Having' - there's probably only one song to play to wrap up the experience.

Before we get to that, I have to say that increasingly I'm leaning towards the feeling that we are in the midst of a year zero type situation in this advertising business.

Year zero inasmuch as the vast majority of the received wisdom and the-way-we-do-things-round-here needs to be erased, rewound and start again from scratch.

Here's what I'm talking about (and this is all covered in Mark's ouvre)

- How many of the decisions we make day-in day out are independent, rational (ie thought) choices versus those that are emotional, social and sensed?

- Is the real role of advertising about constructing messages to try and effect 'persuasion' on the individual or is it more about creating ideas and meaning that can be shared?

- In this context who exactly is 'the' consumer? Or even 'consumers' plural. We are people, and what interests us most is other people.

- Is changing behaviour about telling or getting 'consumers' to do what we want? Or is it more about demonstrating behaviours we want to encourage and creating situations or interventions which amplify those behaviours and involve people in positive activities that facilitate positive copying?

- Should brands and companies focus on creating meaning, with purpose, and serving the social needs of their customers, rather than targeting, impacting and penetrating and otherwise waging war on them?

- Are we, agencies, slaves to the big idea and big strategy when in fact:
the big idea is: there is no big idea

- Is lighting lots of small fires, making little bets and fanning the flames of the things that take actually a much better plan?

These are pretty disruptive ideas for this industry to handle.

This means stopping in it's tracks any briefing that contains anything that infers 'what we want the consumer to think'.

It's year zero. No antecedents. The end of all the past and the beginning of the future.

Massive thanks to the Herdmeister for his time and wisdom, cheers fella.

I was blind, but now I see...
You made a believer, outta me..



Monday, November 28, 2011

the long tail

Somehow it is quite refreshing to search for a song online and find it completely unavailable through fair means or foul.

Despite the Long Tail and the ubiquitous-ness of digital music there are a few tracks that are still hard to find in any format around the web.

One of those being this classic performance of 'Sweet Gingerbread Man' by Sammy Davis Jr.

One of the rare occasions when the 'cover' version is better than the original.

From what I can glean this tune appeared on Sammy's 1972 album 'A Portrait of...' and is currently unavailable in any format. I had to settle for this clip a kind soul had posted on YouTube.

Innovation being often born out of neccesity I have discovered that ripping the clip out of Youtube as mp4 allows one to burn the file to CD as audio using Toast, which meant I was able to add this to my happy monday morning compilation for the car journey to work this morning.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

social media marketing doesn't work

This is the phrase that will be echoing round many corporate marketing departments this morning in the semi-aftermath of the #qantasluxury debacle that unfolded on Twitter over the past 24 hours.

Of course that's only half the sentence.

Social media marketing doesn't work...WHEN YOU DO IT WRONG.

That is the complete statement.

Qantas never seem to learn.

While some poor junior PR person or intern will be getting it in the neck, it's the top of the chain that need firing for getting the absolute basics completely and spectacularly wrong with this twitter promotion.

It's not that they particularly need to keep quiet or hide from the many and varied cultural and industrial relations shitstorms they are in the middle of. I'm sure many would like explanation.





It is however a classic case of Mott The Hoople Syndrome and CC Bloom Fatigue in which the hapless Qantas have made the fundamental, delusional error of imagining that the conversation is exclusively about Qantas themselves, pimping gimmicky promotions and not about helping solve the problems and generally taking an interest in the things their customers care about.

For a brand principally in the service space this is tantamount to insanity.

See also Eaon's Law of Marketing Inequality.

UPDATE:
'We have a virtual monopoly...they have to fly with us'

Thanks KT.

Friday, November 18, 2011

UNHATE

Charlie nails it today in his assessment of Benneton's UNHATE intervention.

'Pretty much every government and right wing paper absolutely hate this advertising.

They pretend they seek peace and reconciliation but it's alien to their psychology and so they hate us humans for laughing and having strong feelings about peace and love.

Beware those who don't hug, laugh or love art and even sometimes cry.'


Plays to the same criteria we've mentioned here before...

Know which side of the bed you are lying on.
Decide what you are FOR and AGAINST.
Stand for something your customers care about.
Something that matters.
Find out who's IN and who's OUT.
Have a philosophy first, strategy second.
Have a mission not simply a proposition.
Agitate.
Create situations.
Pick a fight.




And we're always up for a bit of détournement, round here.

'Boredom is always counter-revolutionary'.

ray kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil was in town for the Creative Innovation Conference, I never made it along but was prodded to check his TED talk on the 'singularity' etc from 2005.

He's normally careful to predict far enough into the future to not be called out. There's a couple of tips here for 2010 that haven't quite made it but it's all entertaining and feasible none the less.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

all you need to know about innovation



A hobby of mine involves editing the word 'consumer' out of power point presentations and replacing that word with people, customers, constituents and suchlike.
This is one small way of practicing a small form of mindfulness (the foundation of innovation).

'Watch your thoughts for they will become your words'.

For those who may think this is petty and pedantic, consider this.

In the business of human communications to start off from the point of de-humanisation (consumer), mechanising, robotising from the get-go is not going to lead anywhere.

If the paradigm has moved from production or manufacturing to service then a company's product is now it's people and brand experience is manifested by person to person contact.

Therefore brand meaning comes from quality of interaction.

When did anyone last say to anyone 'I'm going out for a couple of drinks with some consumers' or 'I've got a few consumers coming over for dinner'..

Never. Nobody ever has. It's bullshit.

In a business context...

Thinking - PHILOSOPHY
Talking - COMMUNICATION
Acting - STRATEGY
Habits - CULTURE
Values - PURPOSE
Destiny - BRAND

Brand being what you get. It's the outcome.

the kids are alright? #235


Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington.

Thx @zeroinfluencer

Friday, October 28, 2011

being digital (or... why digital talent doesn’t want to work at your agency)

I've said all along that 'being' digital is not about the technology or using every social networking tool or about being anti-analogue, or anything like that.

Being digital is a mindsest. A philosophy.

It involves being good a sharing, being inquisitive, poking the box, being generous, being interested and interesting,about wanting to make things and experiences that have value, that make a difference.

Likewise any agency that wants to 'be digital' should concern itself first with freeing it's mind...it's ass will follow.

Well, If i didn't fall off my chair in amazement at the simple truth of an article in Fast Company by Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Brooklyn NY based agency HUGE.

The article is titled:
Why Digital Talent Doesn’t Want To Work At Your Company..

It could just as easily be:
Why Digital Talent Doesn’t Want To Work At Your Agency..

Here's an adaptation of the meat of the sandwich, I've changed a few bits to suit '...agency' purposes but the point is the same.

'The attributes of a soul-crushing, Sisyphean, anti-digital workplace run deep.

Digital talent won’t want to work at your [agency] if:

Every element of their work will be pored over by multiple layers of bureaucracy.


Even if that’s how the rest of the company operates, it can’t spill into the digital [work].
In a technology environment, new products and businesses spring up daily and a new endeavor can go from conception to launch in a matter of months.
Reining in the momentum will be read as inaction and a clear signal the company isn’t willing to grasp the new way of the world.

Mediocre is good enough.

While [clocking on and off] is attractive to some, it will discourage [those who]
want to be expected to do something great.
[They live and breathe this stuff anyway, it's embedded in their lives] They want to be pushed.
They care about their work.
Their leadership, and those they rely on to [create an environment where they can] get things done, must match their appetite for success.

Trial and error is condemned.

The freedom to try out new ideas allows employees to take initiative, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes.
It also demonstrates an attractive and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit.

Your company is structured so it takes
a lifetime to get to the top


And as such there are no digital experts in company-wide leadership positions. Digital talent--often in their 20s and 30s [and 40's, c'mon] need to see a clear path for uninhibited career development that’s based on merit, not years spent, and that’s beyond the confines of the digital department.
If they don’t, they won’t see a reason to stay with the company in the long term.'


As I said, any agency that wants to 'be digital' should concern itself first with freeing it's mind...it's ass will follow.

Your thoughts?

shhh! I gotta focus. I'm shifting into soup mode

[NEW YORK] If you thought that connect with fans + reason to buy = business model was the sole property of the music or entertainment world, check this out.

Firstly, last months launch of Get Well Soup from Heinz in the UK - as winter creeps in bringing it's inevitable sick days, Heinz Soup Facebook fans can send Heinz Cream of Chicken (soup for the soul) or Heinz Cream of Tomato 'Get Well Soup' to their sick friends featuring the friend’s name on the label.

I already stated elsewhere that, for me, this was the first bit of honest to goodness, proper use of Facebook as a marketing platform that I'd seen for a long time.

Relevance, Authenticity, Value and Easy to do.

Chuck in personalisation, community and social objects...it's damn near perfect.



Hot on the heels of that, Heinz have pulled off another Facebook masterstroke.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended with Balsamic Vinegar - which uses posh balsamic instead of the basic vinegar, will first be available to buy from the middle of November, but only through the Heinz Ketchup's Facebook page.

It won't be in the 'shops' until March at the earliest.

According to the New York Times, Heinz '...has no immediate plans to advertise the product, [but] has more than 825,000 followers on Facebook, where it hopes enthusiasts will spread the word about the purchase.'



This is how we do it, people.

Connecting with fans?:
1 - FANS LOVE THEMSELVES
Try the new things out with the people who care - those who are 'in'.
If it's going to fly then they will let you know, even if they don't like it they will love you more for rolling with them.

2 - FANS LOVE ACCESS TO STUFF THE MASSES DON'T GET
Make little bets, we don't need to bet the farm on small innovations, but keep it in the family.
Don't let the great unwashed in until the fans have had access first.

Reason to buy?
- PERSONALISATION
- LIMITED EDITIONS
- SOCIAL OBJECTS
- SOUVENIRS

It's ketchup/soup equivalent of the 'tour t-shirt'.
It tells others 'I was there'.

Anyway, The Never Get out of The Boat Social marketer of the year award looks to be heading to Heinz...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

i'll have what she's having



For those of us in the advertising business the prevailing convention is to think about about human behaviour in terms of the individual.

And the objective of advertising being to try and change that individuals behaviour.

So with that in mind this week's recommended reading is 'I'll Have What She's Having' by Mark Earls, Alex Bentley, Michael J. O'Brien.

'I'll Have..' sets out to counter that convention by demonstrating that 'consumer' behaviour is far more social; ergo influence is social (ie peer influence etc).

The book's title is a reference to the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally.

Meg Ryan triumphantly bursts Billy Crystal's bubble - he thinks he can tell real from fake, you know the bit in the restaurant - then a startled woman at another table say's to the waiter the immortal line.
'I'll have what she's having'.

So, in summary, 'I'll have..' would argue that to improve effectiveness of marketing - which is essentially now the spreading of ideas - to focus on trying to influence the behaviour of individuals is ultimately going to be much less rewarding than looking beyond that - to our inherent social nature - and how behaviour is learned by watching, and copying, each other.

And a pretty compelling argument it is too - though not necessarily a popular idea in adland ;) - obviously if you have followed the thread from 'Herd' and 'Welcome to the Creative Age', this is essentially part 3 of the trilogy.

The behavioural science version of Bowie's Berlin trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger, if you like.

purpose idea #436

Another example of purpose-driven branded content worth checking.



'In the film, director David Altobelli tells the story of three boys exploring an empty house late one night. The boys break into a farmhouse that was clearly abandoned in a hurry some time ago. As the three explore the house - and even begin to vandalize it - one boy slowly comes to see that the family that lived there was not so different from his own. He realizes that the house they are trashing could foreshadow the future of his own family's farm and home. A frightening moment in the house sends the boys running back to the comfort of their still-functioning farms. On the soundtrack, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs covers Willie Nelson's country music classic "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys."

Get the backstory at http://www.cultivatefoundation.org/

Chipotle Mexican Grill - http://www.chipotle.com – is an American restaurant chain, they have set up The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation which works to highlight the economic hardship family farmers face in the increasingly industrialized American agriculture system.

‘Over the last several years, Chipotle Mexican Grill has contributed more than $2 million to help fund initiatives that support sustainable agriculture, family farming, culinary education, and innovation that promotes better food. This has included such beneficiaries as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Lunch Box, The Nature Conservancy, Niman Ranch Scholarship, Culinary Institute of America, The Land Institute, Veggie U, and FamilyFarmed.org. The Cultivate Foundation will continue with this tradition of giving started by Chipotle.’

My talk at 474Labs yesterday was about exactly this kind of thing, and why generosity, and moving from value-chain to value-cycle is a [better] business model.

VIA CONTAGIOUS

lessons in social marketing from the situationist international

In his 1967 work La Société du Spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) leading Situationist, Guy Debord documented his theory of The Spectacle.

In it, he argued, that through mass media, television, hollywood and emerging technologies, capitalism - perpetrator of The Spectacle - was controlling the conditions of human existence.

In effect, the world we see is not the real world but a world we have been conditioned to see, via an onslaught of images.

The Spectacle's audience simply observe the ‘show’ – ie life - as passive spectators, consumers if you like, without actually participating or experiencing it.

Debord saw the only outcome as Alienation.

The Spectacle made us all spectators. Manipulated into substituting material things for authentic experiences and separated from each other.
Passively consuming the image, the spectacle, together but ultimately isolated from everybody and everything.
Debord and his fellow Situationists felt that "if we can explain how the nightmare works, everyone will wake up!"

However, for the lumpen proletariat to wake up they would need to be active participants in the process.
To that end, a tactic of the Situationist International was the construction of situations.
A constructed situation being a ‘moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and game of events.

Ironically, as marketers, as ones who in the past have actively perpetrated the Spectacle, through branding and advertising, there are some learnings from the construction of situations we can apply to marketing in the age of social technologies and connectedness.

As a footnote, Debord et al would doubtless be perplexed by the voluntary reification, or self-commoditisation afforded to individuals by Facebook, but that’s another discussion…

So

A situation is designed to be lived by its participants
It’s not just ambience, it’s an integrated ensemble of behavior.

In regard to any type of community building effort it’s important to note that simply amassing vast numbers of fans or followers (ie buying likes) has little or no value.
They need to be activated in some way.

On 15October.net - an online resource for the #occupy situation they say:

'If we want real global change, it’s not enough for you to take to the streets.
You got to make them go out to!


From a content and platform perspective remember that the destination in Facebook, for example, is not the page itself (branded or otherwise) but the news feed. This is where content (or objects, to use Facebook parlance) is experienced.

An object is more likely to show up in your News Feed if...

You and people you know have been interacting with it or it’s creator, recently.

So social context and quality of interactions are the most important factors for Facebook engagement.

I repeat: social context and quality of interactions.

To describe our lesson in achieving this comes I’m paraphrasing notes on the construction of situations first described in issue one of Situationist International from 1958.

Situations require:

1. A temporary director or orchestrator.
The orchestrator is responsible for coordinating the basic elements necessary in the construction of the situation, and for conducting certain interventions.

In social networks, these are the account owners or page admins.

The interventions are simple. Leave no comment unanswered, leave no contribution unthanked and use every opportunity to connect the participants, or constituents with each other.

2. Direct agents
The direct agents living the situation, who have taken part in creating the collective project and worked on the practical composition of the ambience.

The reason that 90% of social media marketing efforts fail is down to one simple factor.

Marketers and their agencies are married to the notion of the Spectacle.
In context of the Gutenberg Parenthesis we mentioned here last week the notion of the Spectale may in fact be pure 'Parenthesis' - part of the 'containment' blip.

[Pre-Parenthesis] Participants > [Parenthesis] Audience > [Post-Parenthesis] - Participants

To grow a community, to grow participation the community needs to be constantly fed, prodded, poked, questioned, invited to participate.
There is nothing disingenuous or inauthentic in using direct agents to agitate.

In fact it’s the opposite.
Why should your customers want to get involved and support a situation that the brand and it’s agencies can’t be bothered to live in?

3. Passive spectators
Passive spectators who have not participated in the constructive work, BUT whom can/should be forced into action.

You should be familiar with Nielsen’s Law of Participation Inequality.
Also known as the 90-9-1 rule.

In any online community:
90% of the community will be passive. They will simply watch, spectate and will not contribute.
They are also known a ‘lurkers’.
In many cases they may not even be fans, particularly if you have employed some sort of bribery tactic to attract ‘likes’.

9% will comment, share and edit/remix/modify content.
Likewise these advocates should be welcomed as direct agents (2)

1% will be the power creators (they will create original content, blog posts, videos etc) – these creators should be developed to become orchestrators (1) wherever possible.

In reference to the earlier statement that simply amassing vast numbers of fans or followers (ie buying likes) has little or no value, the objective of amassing fans is to grow the 9% and the 1%.
The bigger the pie then the bigger those slices will be.

We’re wired as humans to follow what looks like a good idea.

Good ideas are more often than not those which others like us seem to be doing.
In marketing terms this is the antithesis of Spectacle.

In fact, both the opponents and supporters of advertising have one thing in common. Both sides vastly over estimate the power of advertising in affecting behaviour change. On it's own.

But that's another post...

There is no situationist art or situationist music or situationist marketing, but only a situationist use of these mediums.
In this case, can using social technologies as a platform for connectedness and value create situations?

*yes, this is a repost of a previous article, but it fell into the ether a bit. I've reposted it as I used it in a presentation recently and it seemed to make sense...

Monday, October 24, 2011

take this lollipop

Can't help thinking that Take This Lollipop would have been more creepy with a bit of Jack The Twitter depth...

http://www.takethislollipop.com/



autonomy



Not a penguin in sight, but perhaps an unofficial anthem of #OWS and related situations?

"It's a thing that's worth having (yes i would)
Buys you your life, sir (if it could)
I...I want you. autonomy.
It leaves us all
wondering (and it should)
This awkward something (for the good)
I...I want you
autonomy


Smart observation by Nick Kaufmann in the comments on The Protests and the Metamovement by Umair Haque.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

turning rebellion into money?

[NEW YORK] Fast Company reports that a PR firm representing musician, Penguin Prison issued a press release at the end of last week to publicise his forthcoming single ‘Don’t F**k With My Money,’ which they claim'is already steadily becoming the anthem for [the Occupy Wall Street] movement!'

“CALLING ALL NEW YORKERS & PENGUIN PRISON FANS,” the announcement invited people to join Penguin Prison at the site of the OWS protests as they shot the video for said single.

Penguin Prison, aka Chris Glover ia apparently born-and-bred New Yorker, who's breeding, FC notes, apparently included attending Manhattan's Trevor Day School, which currently charges $36,000 in annual tuition.

Interestingly, none of the direct agents involved in co-ordinating, documenting and agitating around the OWS situation have seen or heard of Penguin Prison, so were unable to confirm whether the 'anthem' had indeed captured anyone's imagination.

*musical footnote: Anarchy In The UK it ain't, it's a pretty flimsy piece of 80's style syth-pop. link: http://youtu.be/Miu-XOx5Jg0

In fact Justin Hampton, blogger and music journo active in the OWS movement, noted 'f*ck Penguin Prison and f*ck them using this as a means to market their hipster bubblegum.'

It's not just the Penguin, slightly more predictably, corporate rappers Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West have also been muscle-ing in for some borrowed interest.

In advertising land, 'borrowed interest' being the flakey activity of brands of little or no substance scratching around for credibility by sponsoring or otherwise phoney-baloneying around the edges of some sort of cultural activity without providing any value or acting out of any purpose.

I couldn't help but wonder if old Joe Strummer would be turning in his grave...



'The new groups are not concerned,
With what there is to be learned,
They got Burton suits, you think it's funny,
Turning rebellion into money'


Monday, October 17, 2011

femme fatale



As it would have been Nico's birthday today, and the Velvet's first album has been on heavy rotation in Boat headquarters we'll kick off the week with this one...

'I have never desired to grow up from my world as a child, which is when things are most clear and utopian'.

Friday, October 14, 2011

pre-parenthesis post-parenthesis

Is digital/social/mobile culture - in a way - a return to an uncontained, non-linearity that was core to human societies in the ages before industrialization, mass production and, in particular, the invention, by Gutenberg, of the printing press?

The concept of a ‘Gutenberg Parenthesis’ – as formulated by Prof. L. O. Sauerberg of the University of Southern Denmark and propagated by Thomas Pettitt from the same university - is a way of identifying and understanding the roughly 500 year period we are emerging from…

‘…during which the mediation of texts through time and across space was dominated by powerful permutations of letters, print, pages and books. Our current transitional experience toward a post-print media world dominated by digital technology and the internet can be usefully juxtaposed with that of the period - Shakespeare's - when England was making the transition into the parenthesis from a world of scribal transmission and oral performance…’

In layperson terms, the natural flow of human communication, customs, legends and storytelling was interrupted by the advent of print and ‘containment’.

Pettitt describes the “imprisonment” of words during this Parenthesis.

‘They were pressed onto pages, stitched up, bound, with stories circumscribed by beginning, middle and end -- so unlike story telling and other kinds of cultural production in previous times, when oral traditions meant dynamically changing texts and performances.’

In essence, and in post-parenthesis times, we are looking forward and seeing something that looks more like the past than the present. An uncontained, fluid, secondary orality, but digitally-powered and supported by super-literacy.

Thomas Pettitt on the Gutenberg Parenthesis from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.



So what’s this got to do with advertising?

The notion of the advertising campaign that still prevails is straight out of the Parenthesis.

The assumption that an advertising campaign will have a beginning, middle and end.

The assumption that a campaign will be a complete thing, controlled and consistent in message and appearance across every media - static and unchanging – original, individual and autonomous.

Looking at it, the advertising campaign is Parenthical and pure containment.

The reality, of course is that in the emerging post-parenthical culture is the complete antithesis, and ergo the challenge for advertising.

How does it exist in the context of sampling, remixing and re-contextualising?

How does brand planning become adaptive and agile?

In a non-linear digital culture where the past and present exist in the same plane where the even the biggest most powerful brands still have to compete with everything else on the internet for attention?

Where more content is being uploaded to the web each day in 2011 than was produced in the entire history of the internet prior to 2004?

Where access (uncontained) to media is trumping ownership (contained)?

Uncontained footnote: I gotta tell you, I’m into week four of TV detox, (ie no terrestrial or cable/sattelite TV) and have not missed it one jot. We have the BBCiplayer international on the ipad and stuff I’ve downloaded off the net but that’s it. It’s pure intention economy TV.

In post-parenthasis context, I'm joining the dots between these two statements (30 years apart but in close harmony).

Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, who declared recently:
'self-expression has become the new entertainment.'
Why spend hours every day passively consuming the creativity (or otherwise) of others?

Echoing Malcolm McLaren from much longer ago who states that:
'In a DIY Culture there are no commodities'.
The point of The Sex Pistols was not to sell records but to create 5,000 other bands.

Obviously, in it's inherent fluidity, post-parenthesis doesn't have a fixed point in time, different cultures and subcultures have moved out at different times. Advertising, as a concept, may be one of the next to pop out the other side of the blip?

Anyway, that's all for now. Thanks to Johnnie Moore who's been pointing me in this direction...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

drucker diptych



I have been saying for many years,Peter Drucker once remarked, “that we are using the word ‘guru’ only because ‘charlatan’ is too long to fit into a headline.

And my personal favourite...

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

twitter jazz slight return



'You meet all kinds of cats, on absolutely equal terms, who can clue you up in all kinds of directions'

Absolute Beginners - Colin MacInnes pub: MacGibbon & Kee 1959

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

sam's guide to doodling

Todays note is a guest post from planner extraordinaire and demon bassist Sam Mackisack. As a keen doodler myself this resonated. Thanks Sam.

'Nick Cohen recently brought a TED video to my attention, Sunni Brown’s 6 minute talk entitled ‘Doodlers, Unite!’. Because it was emailed direct to me by a guy who’s opinion I respect, rather than posted on Twitter by one of those users who are so inane with their sharing they could be bots, I watched it.

It makes a great case for doodling; I’ve always been an inveterate doodler (even though I’m shit at drawing), so hearing some of the reasons why it can be such a powerful cognitive and behavioural tool is great.

So for a doodler, it’s a nice piece of validation. But for people who don’t doodle, and would like to, I couldn’t help thinking some guidance might be necessary. So here is my super-easy 6 point guide on how to start doodling:

#1. DON’T GET HUNG UP ON LANGUAGE

Words can make good accompaniments to help explain doodles, especially in your personal notebook. But don’t get too focussed on trying to find the exact right language – this is about vibe, not accuracy.

Today's note is a guest post from planner extraordinaire and demon bassist, Sam Mackisack on the art of doodling. As a keen doodler myself it resonated. Thanks Sam.

#2. THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF DOODLES – USE THEM BOTH

In my experience, there are two types of doodles – “directly relevant” and “seemingly pointless”. Directly relevant doodles help articulate and understand an idea that you are discussing or thinking about in the here and now. They’re often accompanied by language. Seemingly pointless doodles may have nothing to do with anything, and are just pretty much fun to do, and keep your hands and the visual part of your brain active in dialogue-heavy meetings. Both are wonderful, and don’t need to be segregated.

#3. MAKE INFORMATION MAPS INSTEAD OF LISTS

I’ve noticed a great number of people use their notebooks to write long, bullet-pointed lists. The flow of these is based entirely on the chronology of a meeting – a pretty unreliable thing at the best of times. So instead of writing lists, try jotting down points at random across your page. Then join-the-dots – soon you might find synchronicities between thoughts, ideas and reminders where you hadn’t seen them.

#4. DOODLE WHILE YOU THINK AND LISTEN

It’s not rude. Honestly. If someone’s addressing you directly, then eye contact is always nice. But the rest of the time, doodling randomly while someone speaks can actually help you process what they’re saying, and find your own way of capturing their thinking. Don’t get shitty if you see someone doing it in a meeting.

#5. DOODLE LIKE A KID

Children are much better at doodling than us. They don’t try and find a reason for doing it - they just do it. So try remembering any doodles that you did as a child or teenager, and bring them back. My first port of call when I’m doodling is usually the skateboard brands and band logos I drew when I was 14. I know them off by heart, and the process of drawing them helps me concentrate.

#6. USE YOUR DOODLING TO HELP CRAFT HOW YOU PRESENT INFORMATION

Oftentimes, your doodling isn’t just doing to make it easy for you to understand information. It could help others as well. So rather than just jammin’ on PowerPoint slides and bulletpoints, try presenting complex stuff by doodle.'

And here’s this guide in doodle form:


Friday, October 07, 2011

we are all weird part 2

Back in the early 90's I worked as a club dj, record producer and also as chief buyer in a specialist record store.

We sold mainly club music - house, techno, hip-hop, drum and bass, plus jazz and soul and the cooler end of indie rock.

Over time I got to know the taste of many of my customers, most of them were either working dj's or bedroom dj's with a finely honed discernment.

These customers quickly got to know the best times to come into the shop to catch the worms. Saturday mornings first thing there would often be a line forming before I could get to opening the shop. They knew that the boxes of American imports arrived early and they wanted the pick of the top tunes before the hoi polloi got at them.

Of course, bits and pieces of interesting stuff came into stock all through the week. The super keen would be in sniffing around most days at lunchtimes or cooking up ficticious 'work' meetings out of the office and hanging round the shop.

I started making up bags for a few of the best customers as things appeared, then they could come in on a Friday night when we weren't so busy and listen to stuff and buy in a more relaxed way.

Pretty soon I was making up bags for upwards of 25 customers every week.

Because they trusted my choices (I was a dj of repute and credible trainspotter) 9 times out of 10 they took whatever I recommended.

From time to time I'd slip them a freebie or two, white-label promos or limited editions. As I was the buyer, record companies and distributors gave me a lot of promo stuff. To be fair I'd snaffle a few for myself (of course, I had my own dj cred to protect, but one couldn't play everything and I had chiseled out my own particular style and groove - Chicago-style house, DJ Pierre Wild Pitch that kinda thing - so not everything was appropriate).

I hazard a guess that around 20%-30% of the sales of 12" club tunes came from this 'on-approval' process.

Plus I had a number of mail order customers from remote areas of Scotland who I posted out a box of tunes to every week, and they simply sent me back by return anything they didn't want.

Again, 90% of the time nothing came back.

Over time, they trusted my choices because I never stitched anyone up, I gave them fair share of the rare and sought-after imports and pre-releases and gave them a bit extra for free from time to time.

This is a long winded explanation of how I discovered the notion of 'permission marketing'.

I earned the privilege of making purchases on behalf of my customers - or on approval - by being useful, credible and trustworthy, by being interested enough in them to know pretty much exactly what they would want.

In this way I was able to push the volume of sales by finding more product for my customers rather than having to chase customers for the product. (Though, of course, this happened by default as word got round that there was a record shop that didn't sell any shit, and where the staff took the time to offer a proper personal service for the discerning spotter).

So that's my little vinyl segue into this next bit.

I reviewed Seth Godin's latest book We Are All Weird the other week, and Seth sent me in the post the 12" coloured vinyl limited edition edition audio version. I guess it kinda completes the circle. Back in the record shop I never knew what Permission Marketing was, it just seemed like good practice. Years later, reading Seth's stuff, it all fell into place.

Here's the package...



The commemorative stamp...



And the coloured vinyl..



Thank you Seth, this takes pride of place alongside my complete set of Felix Da Housecat's Radikal Fear label from the mid 90's.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

deep fried mars bars



As a Scot abroad a myth that follows one everywhere is around the dietary foibles attributed to the Scottish nation.

Yes, I'm talking about the deep-fried Mars bar.

In the 30 or so years I lived and ate in Scotland I never once encountered this phenomenon.

In fact, the closest thing I've seen was from the quintessentially English Nigella Lawson, who battered and fried a Bounty bar in her TV show.

Imagine my surprise (perhaps not delight, however) at discovering the above pictured culinary offering in my local Fish and Chip emporium in leafy suburban Melbourne...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

the technology always comes first



In the film PressPausePlay, Bill Drummond makes this point.

Electric guitars were invented because the guitar in 30's Big Band's stuggled to be heard above the brass.

Then along came Hendrix et al, abusing the technology and inventing a genre.

Artists never invented oil paint, or the movie camera but they saw the opportunity the technology gave for creativity.

Here's a couple more for you.

The story goes that the distorted 'metal' guitar sound was invented by Dave Davies of the Kinks who slashed the speaker on his Vox AC30, then launched into the riff of You Really Got Me.

The Roland TB-303 Bass Line synth was originally made as a cheap tool for guitarists who wanted bass accompaniment while honing their licks. Only about 10,000 units were produced between 1981-84 and on the surface it looked like a flop product.

Then in the later end of the 1980s bootstrapped DJs and producers in Chicago found that by overdriving and cranking the box you could achieve the squelchy acid bass sound, and a new genre was born.

Again, all examples of the technology coming first, then artists messing with it - in ways the engineers never imagined - and new artforms coming out the other end.

The lesson here for our advertising creatives is clear. To always be embracing new technologies for their possibilities for creativity.

In particular, the possibilities afforded by mobile, are almost infinite.

For a simple start, mobile can replicate all previous mass media, and then some, particularly with the emergence of Augmented Reality platforms like Layar .

If I was a young creative type out to make my mark today, this is where I would be looking to demonstrate my creativity.

This is the technology I would be abusing, f*cking with, overdriving, cranking and generally poking the box. The tech comes along first then the artist messes with it and creates something new and unexpected.

That's my tip for the day, kids.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

get shirty

Interesting to see that my one of my former employers - Weapon7 in London - have been acquired by AMV-BBDO.

I had a chuckle at this clip, in which CEO (now Chairman) Steven Hess dispelled any misreporting of the details of the deal to the staff in his own inimitable style.

Best wishes and congratulations to Steven, Mark et al.

action time vision

Following yesterday's mini-rant in which I hypothesised that the statement which declares 'TV plus multi-channel campaigns are more effective than TV alone', in it's structure is simply reinforcing the myth of TV authority and makes more sense by flipping it and saying multi-channel campaigns are more effective if the include TV in the mix, some serendipitous further unravelling occured.

Following the links within Andy Whitlock's excellent post An insight about insight in which he correctly points out that;

'Insights are most exciting/dramatic when we’ve previously been looking at the wrong thing'

As an example Andy pointed to this startlingly simple yet revelatory insight from Mark Sorrell.

'There are a lot of surveys and statistics and sound-bites out there saying things like “The majority of viewers now watch TV with a second screen in front of them...I don’t doubt that the basic numbers are entirely correct ...but the entire statement is back-to-front. The majority of home internet users have the TV on in the background...The internet is usurping the TV as the primary source of entertainment in the home. The TV is still being switched on [but is] suitably ambient...Mostly, it just chunters away to itself, pleasing human noises filling your lounge..

TV is the second screen'.


Absolutely spot on. We've been looking at it back to front and as Beaudrillard said 'Systems...retain authority only as long as we treat them as having authority'.

Television is ambient, it's background, it's shared and commands only partial attention.

It's more like radio. A comforting noise in the room that occasionally, sporadically holds our interest.

The internet however (and I'm not distinguishing between devices, mobile means internet and vice versa) is personal media.

It's not about X replacing Y. This has never happened.

There's still books, newspapers, cinema, radio etc. Despite the fact that the mobile platform can in fact replicate all previous media it has not killed them, it's just changed their role.

TV has done a decent job of disrupting itself over the years. Recognising that it is not the focal point any more but simply one of several platforms that deliver content and mesh together is it's current disruption.

Alternative TV.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

a spectre haunts the [creative] imagination



'Systems are inherently brittle and retain authority only as long as we treat them as having authority', according to Beaudrillard.

As humans, of course, we have this inherent authority bias, never more apparent than in the famous Stanford Prison experiment that we rediscovered recently.

The experiment was conducted at Stanford University from August 14 to August 20 of 1971 by a team of researchers led by professor Philip Zimbardo to examine the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard, with pretty startling results.

While likening the advertising establishment to the situation Zimbardo was attempting to evoke is probably a bit harsh,  the system justification we persistently hear describes how multi-channel advertising campaigns are nearly twice as effective as their traditional counterparts.

However this is often framed as TV plus multi-channel is more effective than TV alone.

Hurrah, say the digital community, recognition for the ghetto.

But, digerati, this framing is simply reinforcing the myth of  system authority.

How about saying multi-channel campaigns are more effective if the include TV in the mix?

Simply flipping (reframing) the question completely changes the context.

Beaudrillard also says 'There is nothing more mysterious than a TV set left on in an empty room. It is even stranger than a man talking to himself or a woman standing dreaming at her stove. It is as if another planet is communicating with you.'

While the world of advertising is somewhat more polite, here is an old adage 'no-one ever got fired for buying a billboard in Times Square', similarly no-one ever got fired for buying a 30 second spot in the Super Bowl (or Grand Final).

That's not to say these tactics don't have effect, they clearly do, but what else is required? And what system or authority bias is it that is continually getting in the way of experimenting with other approaches?

Or is it simply fear?

But as Beaudrillard tells us, once you lose the fear of systems, or conventions, the status quo, they lose the hold they have over you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

motorcycle emptiness



Amusing, if ultimately gimmicky, cognitive bias experiment kinda thing from Carlsberg Belgium.

Though 1.6million (and rising) You Tube views tells it's own story.

It's all over the web but my specific finders fee goes to Niklas Lindstrom.

Friday, September 23, 2011

we are all weird

You know the Dylan line from Tangled up in Blue?

'...Pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul..'

As a serial contrarian and willful misfit in this business of advertising, to say Seth Godin's latest manifesto 'We Are All Weird' resonated is the understatement of the year.

It's a slight return to marketing critique theme for Seth, following the more personal empowerment focus of Linchpin and even Poke The Box.

Seth's vitriol is aimed firmly at the notion of mass as the engine of culture.

'If your work revolves around finding the masses, creating for the masses or selling to the masses [the change] is very threatening'

'Since each market is now a market of one and a market of now, the marketer has no choice but to surrender all pretence to mass'.

We've talked about the notion of embracing divergence over convergence in these pages before.

The thrust of Seth's argument challenges the education system - that which services industry by producing compliant workers - through to government - again perpetrating wholesale compliance - with Ken Robinson-esque pointyness.

'And so the factory-for-the-production-of-normal works overtime to sanitise and corporatise and discipline our kids in to normalcy'

Seth argues that up-close, normal disappears. There is, in fact, no blob of normal, no centre of the curve, just millions of individuals, ad hoc groups and communities that learn differently, think differently and dream differently.

For the marketer? Looking for mass is missing the point. A better idea is to look for the opportunities to co-market with the parts of the market that are most engaged and connected.

Word.

We Are All Weird is the latest in the Domino Project series. A limited edition physical print run, with unlimited digital edition.

I hadn't noticed it happen but I've actually purchased just about every one of the Domino releases.

I'm regressing to my dj trainspotter days! Back in the day as a club dj I had several labels, Relief (from Chicago), Dance Mania (ditto) and Strictly Rhythm (NY) which qualified as automatic purchase material regardless of artist.

New Strictlys? 3 of 'em? Straight in the bag.

The Domino Project is heading that way too. Pressfield? In the bag. Sivers? in the bag.

And as if by magic, We Are All Weird has also been manufactured as a limited edition (of 250) LP (weirdness, natch) in red and black mottled vinyl.

Not for sale unfortunately.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

atten-shun

Attention is your biggest cost
Attention must be earned
Attention does not scale

This triangulation has been the opening gambit of recent presentations I've done.

I've used the Facebook EdgeRank formula as a case in point.

Quality and context of interactions are most important factors in Facebook marketing. Period

With the recent raft of updates to the Facebook NewsFeed alogorithm thingummy it appears that EdgeRank has essentially become more important than ever.

There's a couple of key tweaks to note.

The function to switch between Most Recent & Top News has now effectively gone. Top stories appear at the top of the pile.

Facebook have also factored in the amount of time since a user logged in. The longer one's absence then the more Facebook will filter stories to give you what it deems to be the most interesting things that have gone on since you've been away.

Whereas power users who are in and out several times a day will see more emphasis on recent stuff.

The biggie for me is the little blue corner on each update which indicates 'top story'.

This can be switched on or off by the individual according to their taste. This seems to be introducing another 'edge' into the mix. Alongside 'likes' and comments etc 'mark as a top story' will likely start to appear as a call to action' for brand created or curated content.

A trick Facebook has in all likelyhood magpied from emerging curation/filtering platforms such as Summify and Percolate.

BUT

And I'll quote directly from this analysis from Colin Murphy, of agency Skinny in AllFacebook yesterday on the impact of the changes for brand pages:

'Brands were undervalued in this update in three primary ways. First, Facebook pages weren’t included in the photo display and recent stories updates. With recent stories, it seems like Facebook’s algorithm will favor a “friendship” over a “brand relationship,” meaning brand content won’t show up at the top of a user’s feed. Second, with the updated newsfeed, photos on brand pages won’t look as sleek and big as they do for personal accounts.

Third, and possibly most important, when a user likes content (again, content, not pages) within the Facebook platform, that content will no longer post to the user’s wall, meaning greatly decreased impressions for brands. To clarify, content outside Facebook that is liked will post to that user’s wall.'


Murphy also speculates that Facebook's drive to add more control and customisation for the users over relevance of content in their newsfeed has the double whammy of pushing brands further towards having to pay for visiblity.

Now, more than ever, is no time for Mott The Hoople Syndrome.

SLIGHT UPDATE 14.08pm: On Mashable just a few moments ago Ben Parr announced 'I have seen what Facebook is launching on Thursday [ie Friday], and it’s going to change the world of social media'.

Friday, then.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

precision guesswork: TASICT September 2011


Here are the slides from my talk at TASICT in Hobart on Tuesday 20th September for those who requested them.

If you enjoyed the session or violently disagreed with anything feel free to leave your comment here. Then jump over to Slideshare to download the pdf.

authentic brand story



In The New Marketing Manifesto, John Grant noted 'Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are now judged'.

Also - in a moment of arch-ness - Seth Godin said in Permission Marketing: 'If you can fake authenticity, the rest will take care of itself.'

I'll take the word from the bird...

UPDATE: Some younger readers have expressed confusion over the 'bird' reference.
Charlie Parker was known as 'Bird', short for 'Yardbird'.
Yardbird is a jazzbo colloquialism for 'chicken', a young Parker is said to have hit a chicken with his car by accident while on tour with the Jay McShann Orchestra, and proceeded to cook and eat the unfortunate fowl later that evening post gig. Fact fans.

Friday, September 09, 2011

skill and inspiration, what a concept!

If you don't already read Bob @Lefsetz then I suggest you should.

He's the Seth Godin of the music 'business'. I get his email every day (sometimes more) and every one has a gem or two.

I've paraphrased some chunks of one of this weeks mailers here.

As I said, Lefsetz writes about the music business but his pointers relate to every business.

Try this on for size...

"You read "The Long Tail" and believed a new era was upon us, an egalitarian one in which everybody got to play and be recognized, where [digial products] were plentiful and those making it survived financially...but this is untrue.

Consolidation is always lurking.

Happened with record companies. Happened in live entertainment. And it's going to happen [to every business].

But put yourself in the shoes of the [customer]. He's confronted with chaos, he wants someone to make sense of the clutter, and the [companies] who do this will have all the power and ultimately all the money.

Skill and inspiration, what a concept!

It's what listeners want, even though [mediocre businesses] might recoil at the thought of this.

Because it leaves them out.

And with everybody able to hear [about your products or services] instantly, word spreads pretty fast that you're mediocre.

You just can't shove what people don't want down their throats. This is a sea change in advertising, in music. The product leads, it must be intrinsically good.

The only people left out will be the wannabes, who thought it was all going to be easier, those sour grapes individuals who always thought the man was against them.

No, you just weren't good enough.

And you're not going to be good enough tomorrow.

And with good being the main criterion, it's less important what kind of [advertising you do] than your ability to infect people and grow an audience. Anybody can make it. It's about self-starting as opposed to getting a check from a major.

But at the end of the day only a very few will triumph".

Dynamite.

noel gallagher and relational value



There a basically two concepts of value. Both are correct.
The notion of intrinsic - or inherent value - and that of relational or derived value.

I’ve had a couple of thoughts on intrinsic value in these pages before, but this nugget addresses the relational.

An overview…

A thing has a relational value when its value depends on having a valuer who places said value upon that thing in relation to something else.

Commercial value, for instance, is subject to markets consisting of both buyers and sellers and therefore is totally relational.

Artistic or aesthetic value is also relational, or derived.
Amongst other factors, the canon of the artist or producer is significant.

Which brings us to this statement from Noel Gallagher as he prepares to release his first set of post-Oasis recordings, and shares with us a nice slice of uncanny Manc wisdom on viewing his new work in context to the Oasis legacy.

"Let's say my career had gone backwards. Let say this new solo album had been my debut, and it was my last two records that sold 20 million copies instead of the first two records.

Had this been the case, all the other albums leading up to those last two would be considered a fucking journey.

They would be perceived as albums that represent the road to greatness.

But just because it started off great doesn't make those other albums any less of a journey.

I'll use an American football analogy since we're in America: Let's say you're behind with two minutes to go and you come back to tie the game.

It almost feels like you've won. Right? But let's say you've been ahead the whole game and you allow the opponent to tie things up in the final two minutes.

Then it feels like you've lost. But the fact of the matter is it's still a fucking tie. The only difference is perception."


Noel Gallagher quote comes from this article by Chuck Klosterman in Grantland.

Recap on Theory of Value

Extra special thanks and finders fee to the legend (and erstwhile Liam Gallagher lookalike sort of) that is Petar Vujosevic aka Niko Herzeg.