Wednesday, March 26, 2008

more on the future of advertising and marketing

Following that last post, in some sort of karmic alignment I stumbled across this excellent presentation - of some considerable panache - by a chap called Paul Isakson. On further digging he's got a pretty impressive blog too, which I will no doubt be dipping into for further nuggets.

Twittering at the back of the class…

I was caught twittering at the back of the class last week at Chinwag's ‘Tomorrow’s Ad Formats’ session.

I suppose I thought it was acceptable after following the entertaining commentary on the Ad Age digital advertising conference by David Armano and Steve Rubel last week.
For me, Twitter is starting to develop and find it’s place this year.
One of it’s interesting uses is as a back channel to events which enables other users to follow events remotely.

I did, however, find the bulk of the content at this particular Chinwag a bit flat and shared the odd tweet to that effect with a couple of other attendees.
I’d hoped to get the usual insight and inspiration that comes out of those sessions but the debate seemed centred around the various forms of interruption based traditional digital advertising - and the merits of this banner vs that pre-roll - rather than new ways for brands to actually engage and involve their customers.

By engage I guess I’m referring to the idea of collaborative marketing, conversation, dialogue, partnership etc rather shouting at people who are not interested.

Wikipedia says: ‘Rather than looking at consumers as passive receivers of messages, engagement marketers believe that consumers should be actively involved in the production and creation of marketing.”

I’m also often prone to wheeling out a slightly older nugget to illustrate this point

Confucious: ‘Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I might remember but involve me and I’ll understand’

Steven from our place, who was on the panel, fought a valiant battle
(I almost typed ‘shone like a Beacon’) to bring the conversation round to this notion of engagement being key however despite a few gratuitous cluetrain references from some of the others it didn’t fly.

I overheard this stat recently:
The number is flaky, I can’t exactly remember but it went something like…

‘…our research found 25% of users found pre-roll ads less annoying than mid-roll’

Yes he really did say, less annoying!

Friday, March 14, 2008

President Idol

On my brief sojourn stateside i experienced some of the President Idol mania up close.
Interesting that it almost seems a foregone conclusion that the Democratic nominee is going to win the overall contest - I was in NY when the Spitzer story broke which was fun, too.

For us in the UK its hard to work out exactly what the candidates stand for. Hat-tip then to Harry who has a alerted me to this post from Daily Kos - the author has painstakingly gone through the Senate records to identify which bills each candidate has introduced and sponsored to try and shed some light on what our US cousins are actually voting for, aside from the popularity contest. The post has over 650 comments when I last looked.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Purple cow spotted at Denver International Airport

Following on from the horse sculpture story below I enjoyed my brief encounter with Denver Airport.

As well as the mad tent exterior, internally it's been designed with the user in mind. The gates are all in a straight line A,B and C zones connected by a train. It's vrtually impossible to get lost.

And a couple of soft innovations made the - lets face it, normally pretty stressful - experience of airports a bit more pleasant.

The public address system on the gate connecting train was crystal clear perfect sound
and every announcement is spoken by a local celebrity tv babe (can't remember her name but I was told) and introduced by little musical motifs. Boogie-woogie piano for the doors closing announce, twangy guitar for the next stop announce and so on.

Some bright spark has thought, what can we do to add an extra bit of polish to this experience to make it just that bit better? - it's that extra 1% that makes it talkaboutable. Customer service as the new branding or something.

usa tour update 2

This pic was taken out the back of Echostar's building in Englewood nr Denver.
That's only the Rocky mountains in the background.

Denver nugget: Theres a sculpture of a big blue horse outside Denver airport, just been up a couple of weeks. The geezer that sculpted it was actually killed by the sculpture as he was making it - it fell over on top of him. The work was finished off by his son.

Monday, March 10, 2008

usa tour update 1.5

Just going through todays snaps and i liked this one too.
ESB from 42nd st through the trees and snazzy motor in the foreground.

usa tour update

Arrived in New York last night. I must commend Virgin Atlantic, fantastic service even in cattle class - on demand movies and all that. I watched Brick Lane and about half of Control, the Ian Curtis biopic.

It was a beautiful day today so I walked down to the east village looking for the CBGB's shop, found it but it was closed, and had my ritual NY breakfast of Eggs Benedict at Virage on 2nd beside St Marks while contemplating tattoo shops on 8th St.
Couldn't find my favourite hat shop, maybe it's gone?

I was half-supposed to try and catch an old mate who I haven't seen for 10 years or so at Shelter, an 'after-hours' that starts at 10am a bit further downtown. I took the view that going to a club at that time of the morning was just too dangerous at my age so gave it a miss and took the healthy option. A long walk up 5th Ave to the Guggenheim - promptly about turning when I got to the door due to the queue - and instead took in Central Park for a couple of hours then window shopping.

Meetings in NY tomorrow then flying out to Denver Tuesday morning.

Snapped the pond in Central Park below.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

8 things you might not know about me...

Following a trail from Thayer via Chris Hambly (who tagged me) by way of Dan Hon (who I don't know , but apparently started it), heres 8 random snippets about me.

The idea here is you reveal 8 random things about yourself then tag 8 other bods who reciprocate with there own revelations.
It's in the spirit of 'getting to know you' I suppose.

1. I'm a passionate supporter of Aberdeen FC. Once feared throughout Europe (80's) now feared throughout Aberdeenshire.

2. Before getting into this advertising mularkey I was in the music biz. I was a club DJ of some note in the late 80's early 90's in the Balearic Beats stylee before moving into techno/house. I co-founded a couple of labels (Hook/Bellboy) and released a number of 12" disco biscuits. My biggest hit was 'Pricks' in '94 which was a club smasheroonie across Europe and was licenced to labels in Germany, Belgium and Italy.

3. I'm a disciple of the works of Seth Godin. Psst don't tell anyone, but most of the stuff I spout about in meetings etc comes from him originally.

4. I've recently started practising the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. It's not religion, its more like a life philosophy and science hybrid. It works.

5. When I'm cooking I use every pan in the house.

6. I'm a phoney Italian-American. I wear vests and a cross on a chain, brown shoes with a dark suit - the full monty. When we go on holiday it's usually Italy. I was even thinking of sticking an o on the end of my name to sound more Italian. What you gonna do? Ive got the dark complexion anyway (though that's the Welsh in me)

7. At the weekends you'll never catch me as we spend most of the time out with our boots on up the hills or in the woods. Weekends are unplugged.

8. I'm obsessed with music - all kinds - though especially 60's/70's soul/funk, vintage reggae and ska (all the stuff SoulJazz re-issue) and everything from the punky times 76-79 plus everything Paul Weller has done. To be fair, I am a mod deep down.

There you go.

Now it's over to you...(some I know, some I'd like to know a bit better)

Neil Perkin

Harry Bishop
James Cherkoff
Will Humphrey
Chris Penn
Jamie C
John Dodds

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


After the end of the Sopranos we have been without a weekend TV ritual in my house.
We've been catching up with 'House' but following the first episode in the UK of 'Madmen' at the weekend I'm hooked.

Set in early 60s Madison Avenue in the glamorous, chain-smoking, sexist (everything-ist, to be fair) heyday of advertising, the story follows damaged Creative Director Dan Draper and 'new girl'Peggy Olsen who is looking to break into the male dominated adland.

The way it blends in snippets of history/Americana/advertising folklore gives the plot extra resonance - Lucky Strike 'It’s toasted' and 'plink plink fizz' to name but two in episode 1.

Theres a temptation to have a snidey laugh - 'look how backward people were' - but I'm sure that theres those in contemporary adland who would happily roll back to those heady days. In fact it's more curious to note how little some things have changed in 50 years!

Personally I look back and think, at least Adland knew how to dress themselves back in '61. Not a blue flannel shirt and chinos in sight. Sharp suits and haircuts for the boys, taffeta, high heels and hairspray for the girls.

As an aside: interestingly ,the US final episode - it finished back in October - ran with no ad breaks.

I've found the torrent, so thats me sorted for tv for the next few weeks anyway.