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.


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.

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".


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.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

multi-touch digital displays

I'm a sucker for these 'future' of touch-screen technology videos.

The technology dovetails nicely into the era of no traffic on the roads, and where everyone at the bus stop is smiling.
Presumably, not unconnected to the fact that they have had the time to make nice vegetable omelettes for breakfast with the family.

Outdoors, if we factor in the law of the brick and the garbage can (I'm in Australia, they don't know what dustbin means), the greatest potential innovation on show here is the unbreakable 'glass' of each screen.

Corning, the creators of this clip, are manufacturers of the Gorilla Glass that is used on over 200 million mobile devices.

(Yes, it's on the iPhone 4. And that's never smashed...)

I'm guessing they haven't quite cracked that bit yet, but when they do...

Monday, September 05, 2011


One simple reason to not lose any sleep over one's Klout score...

If data is the new oil, it's worth pointing out that it is crude oil.

It needs to be processed and filtered to be useful.

Even after that it's just information.

Data and information become important when turned into knowledge and understanding.

See Jonathan MacDonald's The Fallacy of Accurate Information.
Also my own Influence vs Popularity for a bit of context to this post.

Friday, September 02, 2011


SYDNEY: Ikea is trialling 'MANLAND' for four days this weekend (Father's Day etc) as a men-only play space to hang out in while wives and girlfriends go shopping.

Publicity manager Jude Leon said the idea was modelled on Ikea’s existing child play area, SMALAND.

Ms Leon also said women were given a buzzer to remind them to collect their other half after 30 minutes of shopping.

Free hot-dogs was the clincher, to be fair.

There's a new Ikea opening up the road from our place next week.
We wait...

see also Ikea Australia

be seeing you

Voyurl describe their service as 'like a private version of Google Analytics, made just for you and only about you. We wrap up the trends hiding in your online behavior and give that information back to you in easy-to-understand and fun-to-play-with ways. Explore interactive, drill-downable visualizations that reveal interesting insights about how you use the web..'

Voyurl also give the option of installing publishes everything you view in your browser and streaming it in real-time, out in public.

Likewise, you can view the 'clickstream' of others who are sharing share their 'clickstreams'.

Founder Adam Leibsohn said Voyurl is a 'reaction against the kind of "grey market" data-pimping that makes certain people run screaming from the "social web...I saw a lot of white-label apps that were gathering and selling personal data in this really irresponsible way -- people would tell me that they literally do nothing for their users, while collecting all their information behind the scenes. We take that data and turn it around and give it back to you, to improve the user experience.'

Again, another clue pointing towards the further personalisation of media and experience, and the notion of the personal layer that overlays the social layer in post-web 2.0. In clinical psychology, voyeurism is described as the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate in this case data must be sexy.

One to watch. And be watched.

Finders fee: FastCoDesign.
via ProjectVRM mailing list.

Voyurl beta invites can be requested here.