Friday, January 30, 2009

service-positive interactions

Sick to death of hearing about the umpteenth 'great use of twitter'?
Well this one is actually a great use of twitter.
Not some douchebag personal branding twitter spammer bullsh*t.
But a service-positive interaction. (thanks Alan)

If you haven't already (it's spread like wildfire) read this story on the mrtweet blog about how CoffeeGroundz Cafe in Houston, Texas almost doubled their clientele using twitter in a service positive manner.

What's more, the initial interaction was CUSTOMER-DRIVEN, then vendor adopted.

thought for the day #274 thich nhat hanh

'In one sheet of paper, we see everything else...the cloud, the forest, the logger.

I am, therefore you are. You are, therefore I am. That is the meaning of the word ‘interbeing.’ We inter-are.'

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, January 29, 2009

@marcus_brown, yes i do care

Marcus is asking us to show we care. I care.


Been reading Chomsky's 'Interventions' on my commute recently.
He comments on the US media's uncritical coverage of the Iraq war.
Some in the media have claimed they have been critical, but Chomsky argues that it's been the wrong sort of critisism.

'it's not working, it's costing too much, we should appoint a new general...the issue isn't 'how are they going to win', it's what are they doing there in the first place?'

A similar wrong I'm coming across every day is the continued use of 'old media' metrics into the evaluation of 'new media' marketing.

New media is infinitely more measurable beyond 'brand tracker' type metrics and assumptions, and only using technology to develop new more sophisticated methods of interruption is a doomed strategy.

Interdependence rather than integration is a better description of how old and new can work together. The most seismic shift being that it’s now a three-way process with the customers as partners.

Until recently brands have been able to rely on awareness or ‘opportunity to see’ to create interest in their products and services. Where traditional advertising and marketing can still deliver awareness to a point, the new media presents the opportunity to bring a response close. Blurring the lines between brand and response.

By brands focusing on engagement and interaction in these channels, a potential customer is much more likely to connect with an idea.
Principally because the notion of interdependence also means that they can contribute to the idea.

The simple fact is; marketing that they have chosen to participate with will be far more effective than marketing that is forced at them.
How a brand behaves interactively has a greater impact on brand perception than what a brand actually says.

Two points to note.
Point one:
In the digital networked space the brand message often does not arrive.
Or if it does it’s not in it’s intended form.
Case in point is Fallon’s Gorilla campaign for Cadbury’s last year.
Many people’s exposure to the campaign happened first online via the numerous mash-ups and remixes on You Tube.
Whether Fallon intended or even anticipated this is moot, but it does prove that ‘interdependent’ planning requires planning for content that you do not create or control.

Next point:
What Alan Wolk has coined as The real Digital Revolution.
Pre-revolution, me (punter) sees ad - leads to consideration – then,maybe, sale.
Nowadays, it goes like this: See ad - go to Google - go to network, then consideration then maybe purchase.
The networked world might be diminishing the ability of traditional ‘branding’ to influence our feelings about the product or service, but is drawing the transaction opportunity closer. As mobile devices increase in sophistication this gap will close further.

But the interdependence of the network (of which brands are participants too) gives us the ability to research and find out all the details from unbiased sources and that’s what now determines the yay or nay. Brands that embrace this interdependence are the ones that will be in with a shout.

Thanks to Charles btw

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

never mind the pollocks

Nice to see Google acknowledge the birthday of Jackson Pollock on the homepage today.
Pollock was, of course, a force for disruption in the art world in the 50's, rejecting conventions of fine art with a unique approach.
'I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added.'
In true disruptor fashion, he returned to figurative work in the mid 50's once abstract expressionism became mainstream.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

T-Shirt Hell and the forces for mediocrity...

Interestingly, T-Shirt hell, producers of amusing and ironic slogan t-shirts like 'What about all the good things Hitler did?' have decided to close their doors due to the barrage of they-just-don't-get-it mail from the moral 'majority', received in response to their latest t-shirt 'It's not gay if you beat them up afterwards'.

T-shirt Hell guy, Sunshine Megatron says:
'...Anyway, rather than cater to the masses, I'm just going to stop making shirts. It's not enjoyable anymore and I have enough money to move on to something more rewarding. Maybe I'll start my own hooker farm or maybe I'll practice sleeping. Whatever I decide to do, it will be better than this.'

Here's his letter to their customers, T-Shirt Hell says goodbye.

Hat tip to Jude in the office for this.

Friday, January 23, 2009

ars*holes, b*stards, f*cking c*nts and pr*cks

Cursebird scans your tweets for swearing then gives you a rating based on your expletive usage.
I'm ranked 10,620th in the world and apparently swear like a 'Scottish Comedian'.

The irony being of course that I AM a Scottish comedian...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

on creativity #224 Jean Luc Godard

New wave twist on the 'talent borrows, genius steals' adage courtesy of exi-marxist enfant terrible of le Nouvelle Vague, Jean Luc Godard.

hat tips: swissmiss via jfwhelan

Friday, January 16, 2009

down in the tube station at midnight

Standing on the platform at Goodge St station the other day I couldn't help noticing that every second poster ad on the platform and up the stairs was a place filler by CBS Outdoor, who own the space. Sign of the times?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buddhism, football, art-pop, science and marketing

One of the key pillars in all schools of Buddhism is the doctrine of impermanence, otherwise known as the theory of instantaneous being.

Buddhist thought says that ‘since the body's energy changes in every consecutive instance of its motion, at every instance the body becomes a different thing’.

In business terms it can be seen in any thinking that involves life cycles.
Product, and brands, are all subject to this law of impermanence and pass through stages of life; birth, growth, maturity and death, just as all living things do.

Now the science bit: If we agree with Einstein - all things in the physical world can be construed as energies (E=MC2 etc) – then the logical upshot of this notion of reality is that ultimately reality is subject to the law of instantaneous being because the energy of a body/thing changes all the time.

So Buddhism and science agree, existence actually means ‘efficiency’ or the ability to ‘cause a change or be changed’.

So here’s the thing.
Something that is static, or does not change is unable to perform work - and therefore does not exist.
In simple terms; the only existence is ‘that of change, or impermanence in nature’.

Sir Alex Ferguson knows this.
Man United may be English, European and, now, World Champions but at the start of the next season this means diddly squat. They have to do it all over again.
Nothing stays the same. Who could have predicted Aston Villa challenging for a Champions League spot. Or Hull City for that matter…

Bill Drummond has built this into his own creation ethos, with his ‘choir’ project ‘The 17’.
These were ‘time-, site- and occasion-specific’ performances, where the music was never recorded.
Bill says; ‘The meaning any work of art holds – be it music, visual or literary – is always in flux depending on when it is being listened to’

What does this mean for marketing?
We need to recognise that even the greatest marketing plan is as impermanent as a performance by the 17. When it’s been done, it’s time to destroy it and start again.
The same situations (causes) for success are not going to align again.
Everything changes.
The market changes, technology changes, our business changes our customers change
We may have experience fantastic success yesterday, but that won’t necessarily rock today. And tomorrow we’ll need another plan. It’s about being present in the here and now.

Impermanence - instantaneous being - is a fundamental law of our impermanent world. We must constantly adapt in order to, not only survive, but to exist.

In 2009 more than ever - quite literally, you snooze and you lose.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Web traffic: Opinion piece I wrote for Brand Republic

I wrote this for Brand Republic ages ago and had forgotten about it, it just appeared today. In case you can't log in to BR (Ithink you need to be a subscriber, not sure?) I've re posted it here.
As an aside, i think i've been sub-edited as I'm fairly certain that the liberal sprinkling of the c-word (consumer)was not my doing. I've amended it for republication here.

"How to generate traffic to your website:

Conventional marketing usually involves investing a lot of time, effort and money trying to interrupt people who are busy doing something else and probably don't care about your products or services -- and it's usually through advertising.

About 5 years ago I could expect to encounter around 1,000 marketing messages per day as I go about my business. Today with more fragmented media channels, it's closer to 5,000.

The bad news for brands is that I am now better equipped for ignoring their messages than ever before.

The good news for brands is that they have assets to affect this that are massively underused and undervalued, which come in the form of the customers they already have.

More importantly, there's the core group of those customers who are strong brand ambassadors.

Brands need to work out who these people are, get their permission, build a relationship and dialogue, and then ask!

The big question is, can brands handle the fact that no-one actually cares much about them?

People care about their own passions and the groups and communities that they are part of -- even those that are extremely brand loyal only care because their chosen brands make it easy for them to do what they want to do (not vice versa).

We need to give consumers the tools to make their brand experience personal and relevant.

Build the affiliations -- syndicate the content using RSS and embed codes.

Attract visitors by sending them away -- link out to the individuals and groups that are talking about the same stuff.

The nature of the web is not as a communication channel, it's a connection channel. is of course the great example of this empowerment of the customer: A friend of mine produces a podcast on Buddhism. He has a core community of around 200,000 listeners via his blog and i-tunes. Amazon's affiliate shops allow him to create his own "shop" within Amazon via a widget embedded in the blog where listeners can easily purchase further reading material to aid their practice.

Brands need to think about their site: "Is the content compelling? Is it worth talking about? Have I set in place the mechanisms to allow my best customers to personalise their experience, adapt and share the message? Does my site serve the needs and desires of my customers, not just the brand message? Do I have the systems in place to be able to listen and quickly respond -- with a human voice -- to comments and queries?"

And finally, brands need to ensure that their products, services and customer service is so good, actually forget good, so great that their core group of influential fans have something to shout about."

kissing the tortoise shell...

Like the jazzbo in search of the 13th note, i'm always in search of the killer chart.
I've got one working just now called 'the digital engagement playground' (ie how the interwebs work) - i'll share it with you when it's done but at the nub is a notion I am calling the 'seven C's'.

These are:

You will notice I've left out 'conversation'. Partly because it's possibly getting a bit tired and, to be fair, it probably fits in under communication anyway.

Also, it would have given me 8 C's and the Bunnymen trick wouldn't have worked.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dramatic Shift in Marketing Reality: Sholz und friends

Great little movie by ScholzundFriends.

the true roots of creativity and innovation - Malcolm Gladwell vid

Compelling video of Gladwell using Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles, amongst others, to illustrate how great art/creativity doesn't just happen overnight - it takes time, experimentation and PRACTICE to “rediscover the true roots of creativity and innovation.”
Devoting time and energy to your craft.

Ive not read 'Outliers' but I'm guessing this story also appears in the book.

I wish I could embed the clip but theres no code.
Take a few mins out to check this.
Malcolm Gladwell at the AIGA Design Conference October 2008

Declaration of Revocation by John Cleese

Thanks to Becky, our Creative Director, who managed to dig out this piece written by John Cleese at the time of George W Bush's election as US President.
Most of the rules still stand up, hopefully there will be no need to recolonise as we have high hopes for Obama, but you never know.

Declaration of Revocation by John Cleese

To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories.

Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Then look up "aluminium." Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour'; skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters.

You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z' (pronounced 'zed' not 'zee') and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise."

You will learn that the suffix 'burgh' is pronounced 'burra' e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to re-spell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary." Using the same thirty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "uhh", "like", and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

Look up "interspersed."

There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary, then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as "U.S. English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize."

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier).

You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents --- Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles.

While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon." If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American
States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.

British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American "football." There is only
one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game.

The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should
instead play proper football.

Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies).

We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005.

You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called "rounders," which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day."

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call 'French fries' are not real chips. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat.

Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling "beer" is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine." This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in the Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or "gasoline," as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon -- get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

value creation v. platforms for creative executions

Pointing you to a great post to kick off the new year around the value creation theme that I've picked up on here too lately.

From Adrian Ho at zeusjones in Minneapolis.

'In our eagerness to extend an idea into multiple channels or forms, I think it’s increasingly important to ask whether we are we actually creating more value or simply making everything we do less valuable?'

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

hell bent on compromise

There's an alarming trend for the young people I see coming into the advertising/marketing business to be desperate to conform to establishment thinking, so quick to embrace the status quo.

To hear 21 year old young fogeys talking about 'personal branding'and 'markets are conversations' is mildly depressing.

Fuck that.

Growing up and learning is not about filling up a bucket, but lighting a fire (not my quote but i'll have it!)

It's the sworn duty of agencies formerly engaged in advertising and marketing to now be engaged in force for good and to lead our clients in that direction.
Ethics, integrity, value creation. We are not all prostitutes.

Changing the way we think, towards these values, not only improves our own lives but - through the power of the networked world - by default uplifts the collective experience of reality.

And we need the incoming generations to lead that.
So put down your iphones and go and smash some windows.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

web2.0 douchebaggery #217 - personal branding

A couple of thoughts on so-called 'personal branding'.
You could easily substitute that term with 'self-consciousness'.
This is a negative thing.

Self confidence, however, is a positive. It is not about ego or pride (so prevalent in this biz!) but it comes from doing what you are doing, focusing on that without self consciously second guessing what others are thinking or being distracted.

Being present.

By not wasting time worrying about being judged or percieved by others we can get on with our work and make it meaningful.
That brings self-confidence, knowing you are doing what is right.

Here's a nugget from Eleanor Roosevelt:
'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent'

In the same way that the opposite of great is not bad, it's average (ie invisible) - the opposite of self confidence is not insecurity or feelings of inadequecy (these are contributary causes or symptoms if you like) but is self-conciousness.

Personal branding is bollocks. Just be f*cking great at what you do, and respect others contributions. Job done.

Monday, January 05, 2009

three buckets

Clients often find it hard to swallow radical ideas if that's all they get to look at. It can be scary, even if they have the appetite for change. I'm finding this method - which i stumbled across in Ken Hudson's book The Idea Generator - useful for; generating ideas and selling them.
Ive adapted it slightly but it's the same thing.

Imagine 3 buckets:
Bucket 1 - Business as Usual.
Banner ads, microsites etc - the usual guff. Traditional methods easily understood.
Bucket 2 - Something a bit different, might be dipping toes into social web, engagement. Stuff like that.
Bucket 3 - Is the game changing, purple cow-ness. The out-there stuff that's going to get them noticed and talked about.

By aiming for bucket 3 when working up ideas at the very least your going to land a few in bucket 2.
And by presenting stuff in all 3 buckets clients can be more receptive to bucket 3 solutions when they can see why it's better/more innovative/remarkable than the business as usual.

pic credit

Mark Earls' : A Brand-free January

I've signed up to this on Mark Earls' blog aka Herd:
Pledging not to use the b-word for the month of January.
Another one to add to the list.