Last Friday I wrote about our speaking engagement at Loyola University. The post generated what I think is some of the most interesting discussion on this blog. I'd like to share some of the thoughts as they deserve to exist outside of the comments area, but before doing so—here's a question (and answer):
What if we all live in our own bubbles? Each and every last one of us. We're not omnipotent beings—we are restricted by the boundaries of our own humanity. In short, we can only know as much as we can absorb. And in this age of information, there is a lot to absorb. Too much actually.
Our bubbles reflect what we know, don't know and what we need to know. If we claim to be marketers, advertisers, designers, public relations or communications professionals—we must take it upon ourselves to fully comprehend the significance of a lone consumer who takes on a huge company with nothing more than a blog and tape recorder. We must make the effort to search out these stories on a daily basis, especially when they are reported by mainstream media (or not). We must study, and learn from them. We must learn from each other.
WE ARE ALL STUDENTS
Teachers, professors, authors, managers, thought leaders, bloggers etc. can all help us learn. But making sure your personal bubble is where it needs to be is up to you, the individual.
[Stepping down from Soapbox now]
Enjoy the comments.
"School is, was and--unless the teaching profession wakes up and starts
embracing change even if it threatens their jobs--will always be
insular and inward looking. Theory, over practice."
"I'm so surprised that a bunch of college students are better versed in
theory and buzzwords than in real world examples. On the other hand,
these kids are at (or at least near) the epicenter of the content
creation movement, so maybe it is surprising after all - not because
they should be learning about it in their marketing course but because
they should be living it."
"It was not till I got outside and graduated that my eyes were opened to this whole new world. "
"Do you believe we are victims of our own myopia?"
"I can't tell you how many times I talk to agency marketers who have never heard of these 'classic' power consumer moments."
"Professors need to get beyond the security of their assigned readings and add new books and articles to their selections for every new class. And then discussions need to center on what is happening in today's marketing world."
"As I speak to other marketers, and even clients at big-name companies, they are so busy with their own plans they are really not aware of social media. It seems like a no-brainer to many of us because we spend time tracking (or engaging in) it. My typical clients still don't even have it on their radar screen."
"When I was teaching business courses on the undergrad level, every student had to go out and locate a busines, and it's owner, or manager, or C-level person, to link up with once a week, every week"
"Personally, I have learned a lot more practical knowledge through blogs, social media, open source sharing, etc. than I have from most of my courses. The classes provide a foundation, but unless you actively engage in building upon that foundation, it all seems somewhat useless. It’s like pouring concrete to start a house and then never returning to continue construction."
"Schools must change. Embrace Non-textbooks as a reliable learning tools. Create "new-marketing" classes. Have classes dedicated to blogs. Have marketing speakers on a weekly basis."
"I think professors aught to have a list of at least 10-20 marketing/biz blogs that students should be reading daily. If the concern on reading a blog is too much, start them off with Seth's "Small Is The New Big." Let them think out of the box with Wozniak's book about design."
"My students are given reading lists equivalent to 'No one got fired for recommending Microsoft': the dead hand of academe looms large, and there is more emphasis on correct bibliographic referencing than on imagination or even relevance."
"Remember how at your Digitas NY prez only like 3 people (in interactive) knew who Seth Godin is? Yep, we live in a bubble."
"I've met with many high-profile marketing executives over the past few
months and I can assure you that you would be surprised by their narrow
marketing - and marketplace - knowledge, and hence, perspectives. They
are simply way too busy with their own "marketing bubbles" to care."
"I did a presentation to an advertising class at a large university last November...In a show of hands no one in the class knew who lonelygirl15 was and when I stated talking about Second Life the looks I got were priceless."
"I just started regularly reading several trend-watching, news-sharing, marketing, and advertising blogs this year and it's really helped me to think more creatively. I only wish I would have started sooner..."
"I think this whole issue isn't about: "I can't believe you haven't heard of X."
It's all about: "I can't believe you haven't TRIED to hear about X."
Digitas colleague Dave Marsey and I just wrapped up a joint presentation at Chicago’s Loyola University. It was great to get the invite and we had a blast presenting to an energetic group of well dressed grad students who gobbled up the information as quickly as we could spit it out. There were lots of excellent questions about how marketing is being impacted by empowered consumers and how social media is affecting our behavior. In short, we were pleased to be interacting with such a bright group of people.
But there were a few surprises, at least for me. With the exception of the Jet Blue YouTube apology, I brought up a couple of noteworthy events/names that symbolize some of the changes we see in our industry. And was surprisingly met with with a few blank stares. Here are some examples:
• When I asked if they had heard of Jeff Jarvis/Dell Hell, not one student raised their hand or had a clue who Jarvis is.
• Very few students had heard of the AOL/Vincent Ferazzi “I can’t cancel my policy” audio
• Almost no-one had seen or even heard of the Comcast “sleeper” video
• No one heard of the Agency.com/Subway “viral video”
• No one had heard of Ben McConnell + Jackie Huba/Citizen Marketers
It is to me. I can see not knowing about Agency.com/Subway, but to not have a clue about Jeff Jarvis or Dell Hell? I was really impressed by the professionalism of the students and especially their enthusiasm. Most seemed interested and asked great questions. I only have one to ask them back. Are you mentally getting outside of your School walls on a regular basis? I ask this question respectfully and sincerely.
Students out there, hear me out. If you can come across as smart, professional, enthusiastic and optimistic—all these things will help you career wise. But also know what’s happening (in detail) both inside and outside of our industry, and have an opinion about them. We are witnessing seismic shifts in terms of how we define marketing, advertising, and PR. It’s not good enough to know that the shift is happening—you need to know about the everyday milestones which serve as telltale signs.
If you’re a student reading this and you find yourself relating, I’ll give you the same advice I gave them. Go out and read Citizen Marketers for starters (we included a slide with the book on it). Basically, keep up with what’s going on in marketing-related spaces in addition to what’s on your curriculum. And to the school and organizers, thank you for having us, it was an honor!
Handy little article on Marketing Profs today regarding who influencers are, and how you can start a dialogue with one. Here are some of my favorite thoughts:
"These alpha influencers are the key to other customers' awareness, consideration, preference, and purchase. They advocate, rank, sort, evaluate, and ultimately create marketplace adoption. They come in the form of users, developers, channel partners, and press people."
"...general guidelines: they are well-traveled, almost always have a religious life, are often leaders (civic, business, nonprofit), and generally hold an activist approach to life. Almost always, they have a general sense of optimism because they believe in the power of good, they like people, love to orchestrate ideas, and they tend to be (but not always) great at building relationships.
Interesting statistic: four in ten have a connection to a professional association. This is a sign of their restless intellectual interests. Influencers continuously take input from what they see, hear, read, and keep turning it over in their mind for new insights and ideas. They are sometimes entrepreneurs."
"Influencers and alpha consumers are people who place importance on values: enduring love, knowledge, authenticity, stable personal relationships, learning, and freedom. When you can get them to pay attention to your offer/product/solution, you have the opportunity to shape the market."
The piece then goes on to outline in step by step fashion some guidelines on how to select and engage the right influencers:
1. Selection/sort matters
2. Size matters
3. Two-way flow is critical
4. Without listening, you're dead already
5. Spread the word using a calculated set of steps
I found the article to be pretty interesting—it's certainly worth the read. BTW, if you're thinking about approaching me now that I'm a "level 2 influencer" (if you go by my fancy visual) ;-)—here are a few pointers:
1. If you're pitching—be honest and open about it. Tell me you are pitching and don't lather me up with praise. Tell me why what your pitching is great. Better yet—prove it.
2. Know something about me—find some common ground and strike up a conversation. Just like in life, chances are I'll be receptive and we'll end up talking.
3. Make sure there is a fit. If I don't see an obvious connection, I'll think you are approaching everyone else the same way and get turned off in the process.
4. *Comment here. I'm very loyal to the folks who take time to comment, participate and say something of value here. I read and take to heart every comment on this blog even if I don't respond to it. Commenting is actually a way of communicating with me. I consider it a form of dialogue. (* this gets flagged because it's a big deal with me)
5. Be yourself. Nobody likes a fake—not in marketing, business or life. Just be who you are—I'll appreciate it because I'm trying to do the same thing here.
Anyway, good article. Check it out.
What was the most significant event/aspect of 2006 in regards to marketing, advertising or user experience?
I was able to capture some of your answers in the PDF associated with this post. I would have liked to use all of them, but I needed to keep this streamlined. I think it captures a bit of the spirit we witnessed in 2006. I modified some visuals to break up the quotes in this way:
2006: The year of...
PC (Power Consumer)
Business + Design
Thank you for contributing your thoughts and feel free to use as you like. What's that? You want to know what my answer is? Well, it's not in the piece but here goes...
2006 was the year of re-discovery. We re-discovered our interests and passions through sharing common interests with people who we related to but may have never met personally. We re-discovered brands in ways that we hadn't known before. We can interact with and engage brands on our level—in a way of our choosing. Maybe not all brands, but the ones who are reaching out to us. We re-discovered a sense of purpose through creating, co-creating and expressing ourselves and our views, both personal and professional. We re-discovered the joys of community, even if it's not the traditional kind (and we re-discovered how important the traditional kind really is).
Yup, for me 2006 was a year for re-discovery. I've discovered things about myself through the experiences related to this blog and the people I've come to know through it. 2007 should be an equally interesting year. More to come on that in the next few posts...
One of the perks of becoming a more visible blogger is that people are starting to send me content ideas! This one comes from a fellow Digitas employee out of our Boston office (thanks Alina!). The graphic is a snapshot of Bono's humanitarian empire complete with how they connect with each other. The graphic was featured in the NYT.
Take a look at the enlarged image. It's pretty interesting to see how many parallel universes revolve around Bono and his efforts. And here's an interesting stat. According to the info-graphic, Product (RED) is maintained by 12 full time employees. Talk about lean.
As you can probably tell, I'm a fan of Marty Neumeier. Marty's Brand Gap book is a must read in my opinion. His insights into the brand and design worlds are brilliant and incredibly cohesive. He's a master communicator. Next on my to-read list is his latest book titled "Zag".
Check out the simple but effective site used to promote this book. I'm not usually a fan of the "page turn" technique, but in this format it really works. And the direct link to Amazon is effective. Sometimes innovation is plain simple. There's nothing about this that is over-thought. I'm looking forward to the read. Maybe I'll pick it up this weekend.
I'm lovin' it. According to Adweek, McDonald's has tapped AQKA as it's lead global digital agency.
Here's my take on how this potentially translates. AKQA is a relatively small shop who puts creativity and innovation at the forefront of how they engage with clients. Their work on the XBOX interface as well as simple innovative solutions such as the GPS Bus advertising has taken the agency where others have not gone before.
And now big clients are starting to notice. Think about it—AKQA is being given the keys to come up with a worldwide interactive strategy for the supersized McDonald's brand. Other agencies, tied to much bigger global names (like DDB) will have to execute against the strategies that AKQA helps architect.
Today it doesn't matter how big you are—it only matters how big your thinking is.
Here’s something to pin up on your cube or office wall Download 12_values.pdf . The next time you work on a major marketing or interactive initiative—ask yourself this question: “is what I’m doing hitting at least some of the consumer values on this list”? The 12 Consumer Values to Drive Technology-related Product and Service Innovations was created by the Washington, DC-based research and consulting firm Social Technologies. My rationale for putting this into wall-friendly visual is simple: I think agencies run the risk of infatuation with YouTube and the temptation to put all their eggs in one viral video basket. And we have to be careful about not neglecting other areas of marketing innovation.
Take this recent story from AdAge:
“With not a penny of paid media and in less than a month, "Dove Evolution," a 75-second viral film created by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, for the Unilever brand has reaped more than 1.7 million views on YouTube and has gotten significant play on TV talk shows "Ellen" and "The View" as well as on "Entertainment Tonight." It's also brought the biggest-ever traffic spike to CampaignForRealBeauty.com, three times more than Dove's Super Bowl ad and resulting publicity last year, according to Alexa.com.”
Now in my opinion, that video was simply amazing. A powerful, compelling story that draws you in and inspires you to share it with others. But what about the experience it links you to? Complete with E-cards and a message board, CampaignForRealBeauty.com is a respectable site—but could it be doing more when you apply the 12 values to it?
My point here is that the gi-normous success of YouTube may tempt the Ad industry to hyper-focus on viral videos as an inexpensive way to generate buzz (and ROI). Nothing wrong with this at all—but we cannot forget that at the end of the day, a video is a passive experience. It can make us laugh, cry and want to share it with others—we just can’t interact with or actively engage with a video. In contrast, you CAN interact with YouTube itself. Imagine if an agency had come up with that idea?
So on that note, here is the full list as conceived by Social Technologies. It’s worth chewing on.
Consumers increasingly want to create, augment, or influence design and content, and share these creations with their peers. Supporting user creativity will be increasingly important to consumer technology, and will become more mainstream in coming decades.
Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that align with their specific personal needs and preferences—whether in the aesthetics of a product or in its functional design. More goods will be created to match individuals’ unique specifications.
Simplicity will have growing value for consumers confronted with information overload, time stress, and technological complexity. Simplicity’s influence is already evident in new, stripped-down devices that offer just a few functions, as well as in minimalist interfaces that conceal breathtaking complexity. The common denominator of all these efforts is that they are human-centered—and thus easy to learn and integrate into busy lives.
As consumers are bombarded with more tasks, choices, and information, and as demographic changes such as aging reshape consumer markets, they are looking to assistive technologies for help. Consumers will seek to bolster and extend their natural abilities—with technologies ranging from pharmaceuticals that enhance mental performance to robot aides for the elderly.
Products and services will need to embrace the principle of appropriateness to ensure that they are suitably designed for users with varying physical needs, resources, cultural characteristics, literacy levels, etc. Appropriateness will aid in the spread of technology products and services to new markets and to diverse user segments.
Already well-established in mature markets, demand for convenience will rise as a technology value for consumers all over the world. Consumers will look for technological products and services that give them what they want and need on demand and that reduce effort and relieve time pressure.
Connectedness gives consumers what they want, when they want it, and will grow exponentially with the expanding global information infrastructure. Consumers will look for products and services that seamlessly integrate with this global network.
Efficiency is the ratio of output to input—or, put simply, the ability to do more with less. It will become more important to technology as consumers search for products and services that let them manage emerging resource uncertainties, rising costs, and other pressures.
Intelligence will be enabled by innovations that increasingly shift information and decision-making burdens from the user to the device or service. The demand for greater intelligence will come in response to factors including complexity, aging, and the desire for personalized experiences.
Protection will be sought by consumers in a world that feels increasingly insecure. Consumers will look for technology-enabled products and services that strengthen their sense of personal security and protect their families, homes, wealth, and privacy.
Consumers will look to technological products and services to maintain and, increasingly, improve their health and wellness. The search for health-enabling solutions will extend beyond traditional health and medical products and services to include more of the things consumers use in their everyday lives, whether at home, work, or play.
Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that embrace sustainability—reducing the “human footprint” on the environment while maintaining quality of life. A variety of technologies offer ways to minimize resource use, waste, and pollution while improving human welfare.
Well, today I got to attend the Forrester “Humanizing The Digital Experience” event. Actually, Margaret—one of my colleagues couldn't make it today, so I went in her place. That’s right, I was the guy with the dark hair, rectangle specs and “Margaret” on my name tag. Yeah, I got a few looks. Well, only in the morning—the kind folks at Forrester reprinted a nametag for me.
The one session today that stood out to me was from Jeff Hicks, President and CEO of Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Jeff had a few interesting things to say, and of course Crispin does wonderful work, but what really encouraged me was that he stressed the strong linkage that advertising needs to have with the product. He cited Burger King as an example where Crispin is doing a lot of messaging on the packaging itself (talk about getting close to the product). I especially liked this line:
“Make the product the advertising”
“We want to embed marketing within the brand”
Of course there was still talk of the big idea leading the way (after anthropological rersearch to inform those ideas), but no mention of big bloated strategies. And this was a nice simple thought as well:
“Some brands have momentum, some don’t. We create momentum for the brands we work with”.
Maybe not the exact words, but pretty close. So as far as marketing and storytelling goes, that’s a nice way to summarize it. And I have to say, I was really impressed with Peter Kim’s performance (that's peter in the pic, over on the right). Peter provided a great set-up and came across really relaxed and professional during the Q+A.
Now, earlier in the morning Harley Manning took the stage and talked “Human Centered Design”. I guess this ends the debate about using the term “user”, “consumer”, or “customer”. We’re designing for humans dammit! :) Actually, I have no problem with the phrase human centric—but I still like using the other labels when appropriate as they help me define design challenges:
Harley was highly energetic and inteligent. He’s immensely engaging and makes a great case for smart interactive design and the benefits of this to business. I have to say that whenever I hear the case for great digital experiences it always makes me think of this whitepaper from Kevin Mullet of Macromedia.—I highly recommend printing it out and giving a read (don't let the 2003 date fool you). It’s a nice synopsis of taking principals from books like The Experience Economy and making them applicable to Digital Experience Design in a practical way. The visual below is from the whitepaper:
Useful, Useable, Desirable—these all came up at the conference (I've referenced Kevin's criteria before as it's a pithy way to capture the key ingredients to a successful experience. I would also add sustainable to it).
And lastly but certainly not leastly I got to have breakfast with two wonderful people and bloggers (they blogged at the official Forrester event blog). Christopher Carfi and Marianne Richmond. Further proof that bloggers are real decent folk (and just plain real). Chris and Marianne were more than happy to share a good chunk of their morning with me over a cup of coffee. They could have been out and about doing the networking thing, but we all just hung out instead. Christopher and Marianne, thank you both for the great conversation and company (Chris, don't forget to say hi to Mom for me).
Well, those are my brief highlights from a brief day. Thanks Margaret, and thanks Forrester for a putting on a good show. Oh , before I forget... one thing that absolutely blew me away. I kind of suspected that Chris and Marianne might have known of me, but I was astonished at how many people in the industry actually follow L+E. So there may be a new dynamic at these kinds of conferences: The hosts (Forrester), The Sponsors, The Attendees, and the Attendee/bloggers all mixing it up both digitally and physically. Maybe you'll be blogging at your next event?
Author of "Life After The 30 Second Spot", Joseph Jaffe has officially launched his new company called Crayon. That's right. Joseph is going from pundit to practitioner. It's a pretty interesting business model. Here's how it works in a nutshell:
"In short, crayon is a shape-shifter; a mash-up; a company that integrates the best of the consulting, agency, advisory, thought leadership and education worlds. crayon’s goal is to help our clients:
• Amplify, extend and enhance relevance, experience and value through bold, alternative and non-traditional approaches
• Join the conversation
• Create disproportionate positive business impact"
From Jaffe Juice:
"Our motto or mantra is: "Conversation and Transformation above Communication," which I think answers David Weinberger's question.
Instead of expanding on crayon myself, I'm going to direct you to two of the new crayons, my good friends Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz, who as you probably know are co-hosts of the popular PR podcast For Immediate Release. They do a pretty damn fine job explaining everything on their own blog."
And of course what new marketing service wouldn't be complete with an association with Second Life:
"Firstly, we’re launching on Thursday in Second Life on our new island, “Crayonville” (which incidentally and not coincidentally is the same name as our website. You’re invited and if you’d like to attend, I’ll need your Avatar name for our guest list (security will be tight J)"
This one should be pretty interesting to watch.
According to Adweek, i-shop R/GA has officially announced the arrival of their mobile marketing division. Read the full article here.
From the article:
"Bob Greenberg, CEO of R/GA, said the mobile and emerging platforms practice would grow to be an integral part of the agency's offerings, on par with copyrighting and strategy.
"It's going to be very big," he said. "All of our clients are looking to do work in this area."
The R/GA mobile group will also include Webster Lewin, 45, who will lead mobile marketing for the group. Lewin comes to R/GA from WPP Group interactive shop VML, where he worked on wireless campaigns for clients like Burger King, Colgate-Palmolive and Microsoft. R/GA said it has also hired Claudia Bernett, 34, as an interaction designer for the mobile group. She previously worked at frog design."
Attention Ad people everywhere—did you catch that last hire? Claudia comes from Frog Design. A well-respected Design firm, not an Ad agency. I'll spell out for you what this most likely means. It means if you think R/GA will be looking at optimizing video spots for the small screen the same way the Ad agencies have pounced on YouTube as a an advertising distribution "channel", you are probably mistaken. Sure there may be the use of video—but if the Nike ID effort is a sign of things to come, you can probably expect designers such as Bernett to be working on mobile applications which extend meaningful brand experiences to the mobile customer.
Great post over at Paradyme which dissects the term User Experience Design and looks at all the related disciplines. There is a lot of heady debate about the differences between these terms and what they mean. Personally, I prefer Digital Experience Design as it simply infers the design of experiences within the digital space vs. the physical world (though similarities in desired skill sets exist).
Kimmy proposes an interesting visual here:
...which implies that there is lots of overlap between disciplines. And she's right—there is. I especially like how the end of the post sums it all up:
"As articulated above, the field of user experience design takes a broad approach to the enhancement of products, combining elements from various fields to create an optimal and well-rounded experience. This wholistic methodology is often more adept at helping to reach a set of goals that encompass passive and active user interactions–goals determined both by users and the business or organization."
And on a related note, I attempted to tackle a similar issue—though through the perspective of the paths some of us take to arrive (and move up to) our current titles or areas of practice within these disciplines:
Experience Planners? Interaction Designers? Information Architects? Creative Directors? Visual Designers? There seems to be a conundrum in the industry related to emerging roles, titles and how they are evolving and intersecting. Especially if—like me, you work in the Interactive Marketing space. In this space, we've been increasingly blending traditional creative skill sets with information architect-type skills. But there is a lot of variation in these backgrounds—what used to be black and white is increasingly becoming Grey. In an attempt to make sense of all this nuance, I've designed a graphic that displays different backgrounds and defines possible pathways as they move up the food chain. Seems like many in the industry are struggling with this type of issue as we build up our "dream teams".
It's good to be thinking about this stuff every once in a while. Also good to remember that at the end of the day, people want to be told good stories, be provided with a great experience and have the opportunity to have their say in the process.
I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff. You instantly "get it" after seeing ideas like this brought to life. I just think marketing has so much to learn from the product design world—especially in the areas of simplicity + innovation. Many of the examples in the clip are very cool to look at, but I especially like the MRI projection piece toward the end. It's such a simple idea executed flawlessly. And it solves a problem. MRI's are unpleasant experiences and especially scary for children. How can that problem be solved? Marketing is about problem solving too—so maybe we can learn how to harness the power of simplicity when we attempt to innovate. On a personal note, I'm getting an MRI tomorrow, I doubt they'll have this projection technology in place—so I'll be thinking about big puffy clouds and rainbow fish. Imagination is the greatest human innovation. :)
We marketers love our little segments don’t we? We delight in taking large groups of unpredictable human beings and boiling them down into a neat and tidy digestible set of statistics and data which we can then label our “target”. Now there’s nothing wrong with this. Nothing at all. We need data to help us focus our energies in the right areas. But are everyday marketers making enough everyday observations? Point in case, this morning I decided to observe Mason, my four-year-old. Mason’s morning routine included getting up—a quick run to the potty and then he plops himself in front of the computer with a chilled, spill proof cup of apple juice. One of his favorite destinations is the Noggin site. I watched him on the site and what I noticed was that he spends his time doing a variety of different things. Sometimes he’s simply watching the videos on it—short segments from their assortment of programming. Other times he’s playing games. And every once in a while he’ll find something he can print out (we’ve got lot’s of those around the house).
I guess my "big insight" here is that Mason is choosing a variety of interactions on the computer vs. sitting in front of a video on the Boob Tube. But interestingly enough he’s not always interacting–sometimes he likes watching the video on the Web. My guess is that he likes the “on demand” nature of those videos—that he can control what he wants to watch, and he can replay whatever he likes. I think this tells us a lot about how future generations will digest and interact with content.
So I guess the point here is that you don’t have to be an ethnographer to think like one. As marketers, we can seize upon everyday opportunities to make observations that can help us do our jobs better. Data-driven reports, and even professional grade ethnographic studies are great. We should make the most of what they have to offer. But we can also supplement these resources with our own simple observations. We just need to make time to open our eyes and get past what we take at face value.
Remember the Dotcom burst? I do. I specifically remember things like clients asking for content management system enabled Websites when they didn’t need one. Or better yet—choosing the wrong system. I remember the abuse of Flash (skip intro anyone)? I even remember co-workers back in the height of the bubble saying things like “this will make your site sticky”—when the experience of the site was about buying something quickly vs. hanging around it. And who can forget about scalable? Oh yeah and let’s throw in seamless for good measure hold the ROI.
Thankfully those days are over. So let’s learn from them. Today’s marketing mix has it’s own challenges. RSS feeds, Podcasts, Blogs, Viral content—it all sounds so yummy and immediately gratifying. Just like fast food. But We all know what fast food leads to. Putting together a marketing mix that looks like “one Social Media Network with a side of Viral, hold the mayo”—may not be the best thing for your business and brand. And the stakes are high.
Here’s a few things to think about as you plan your 2.0 marketing strategy:
What percentage of your customers are using these platforms regularly?
What is the plan to maintain something like a blog? (they require a lot of effort—trust me)
How transparent are you willing to be?
How will you deal with negative feedback?
How will these channels compliment the traditional/digital ones?
What will make your effort genuine vs. feeling "staged"?
I know there is more, but just think of this as a little fast food for thought. The marketing media landscape is changing, but it’s best to combine calculated experimentation with strategic planning vs. the “midnight munchies” approach to selecting tactics.
For Best Experience:
1. Click button to listen to blogcast audio
2. Download creative_mind.pdf
3. Follow along with audio
Narration around the inspiration and thinking that resulted in the visual.
Digitas will be flying me out to NY + Boston to present my story and hands-on education in the Social Media Network.
Here are the dates:
10/17 New York
And here is the cool thing. I pitched the idea to Digitas to open the event to a select group of bloggers in addition to our staff. And they agreed. So, a handful of you who live in the Boston and NY area will be getting personal invites shortly.
Lastly, here is an updated draft Download blog06.pdf . It's still a draft, so comments are more than welcome.
Karl Long posts an excellent piece on the Launch of Bud.TV, a major effort by Budweiser to capitalize on the shift away from traditional Television to digital channels which foster social interaction:
"In another nail in the coffin of network television Anheuser-Busch has just announced it will be launching Bud.tv in February ‘07. Bud.tv will be an online entertainment channel that will blend professionally produced content, news, sports and consumer generated content.""Bud.TV will engage contemporary adult consumers with a wide array of entertainment options in branded and original proprietary content including new humorous webisodes, sporting events, consumer-generated content, field news reports, celebrity interviews, music downloads and comedian vignettes. The first-of-its-kind initiative is slated to launch in February 2007, and more content providers will be announced in the coming months."
“This issue is the Interactive Annual; full of flash websites and articles describing graphic artists' struggles to find relevancy in an increasingly Web-driven world. The reason they so often cannot find purchase is because they're not designers. Rather, they're artists misrepresenting themselves as designers.
The Web is about design - problem solving. So it is entirely fitting that so many "graphic designers" fail to even understand the context of the web.”
Alexa ranking has been updating their stats, along with Mack Collier's Top 25 Marketing Blog list. Yup, Summer is definitely over as the list is showing signs of "competition" as we bloggers get back to the business of, erm... blogging about stuff. :) More importantly, Mack's list is a great reference for checking out some quality blogs that you might not know about.
1 - Seth's Blog - 5,099 (LW - 1)(-25)
2 - Gaping Void - 17,507 (LW - 2)(-10)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,279 (LW - 3)(+111)
4 - Creating Passionate Users - 21,072 (LW - 4)(-193)
5 - Marketing Shift - 45,718 (LW - 5)(+167)
6 - HorsePigCow - 52,938 (LW - 6)(+177)
7 - Coolzor - 53,026 (LW - 8)(+12,270)
8 - Church of the Customer - 59,906 (LW - 7)(+41)
9 - Daily Fix - 66,108 (LW - 9)(+1,299)
10 - The Viral Garden - 72,613 (LW - 10)(-758)
11 - What's Next - 88,726 (LW - 11)(-1,836)
12 - Brand Autopsy - 92,861 (LW - 12)(-401)
13 - Emergence Marketing - 97,008 (LW - 13)(-565)
14 - Logic + Emotion - 110,156 (LW - 15)(+2,407)
15 - Jaffe Juice - 112,759 (LW - 14)(-2,740)
16 - New School of Network Marketing - 119,940 (LW - 17)(+2,953)
17 - Diva Marketing - 123,887 (LW - 16)(-3,159)
18 - Experience Curve - 137,591 (LW - 18)(+10,360)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 155,412 (LW - 19)(+5,845)
20 - Marketallica - 178,447 (LW - 20)(-7,253)
21 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 194,224 (LW - 21)(-10,170)
22 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 205,317 (LW- 22)(-6,675)
23 - Brains on Fire - 240,703 (LW - 24)(+18,072)
24 - Movie Marketing Madness - 257,396 (LW - 25)(+2,241)
25 - What's Your Brand Mantra? - 263,308 (LW - 23)(-13,428)
Missed this while I was on vacation. Digitas got some love from Communication Arts off their Site of the Week feature. Well, it's no "viral video"—but we'll take it. :)
From Design Interact:
This site brought the American Express “My life. My card.” ad campaign online in the form of a unique competition.
Lincoln Bjorkman, executive creative director
One day I strolled into the kitchen in our office to get my morning coffee. As I waited for it to pour, I noticed a single picture of someone from what looked like to be their High School yearbook. I stopped for a minute, because the person looked really familiar. After a few seconds it hit me as to who that person was (a copywriter I work with). The whole thing was a nice little deviation from my morning routine.
The next day I strolled into the kitchen and there was another High School photo. This was one from a prom no less. Again I studied the picture as I knew it had to be someone in our office. But I couldn’t figure out who. Another co-worker came up to me and was like “what are you looking at?”. When I said I was trying to figure out who the person in the photo was, they joined me. Before I knew it we had three people studying the photo. Eventually, one of my co-workers figured it out.
A week passes and now the wall is peppered with photos of people from childhood and high school (and pets too). I get my morning coffee and if someone is there in the kitchen with me, chances are we start talking (and laughing about the photos). There is a richness to the discussion—texture you could say. We talk about the hairstyles. The clothes. It immediately bonds me with whomever I am conversing with at the moment. I’ve actually found out more about the people I work with in these informal discussions then I do on a daily project basis. And more importantly, we deviate from our routines and engage eachother as people. Not co-workers.
Several more weeks pass and the wall is full with personal photos. And the informal conversations go on. “Who’s that?” “Oh I know who that is!”, “Look at that tie”, “Oh, you look like a different person!”. And I couldn’t help but notice that what’s going on in my office is what needs to be happening more in marketing. People having genuine conversations and taking interest in each other. In what we do. In who we are and who we used to be (I participataed as well—can you find my photo?).
A spontaneous action, being rewarded by participation.
An action that causes people to not only have conversations—but also take action themselves by tracking down their own photos and pinning them up on the wall. One act sparked a contagious response from others who wanted to be more than mere spectators. They wanted to be a part of it. They didn’t want to be left out of all the fun. Each contribution sparked more contributions and so on.
I track down my co-worker who pinned up that first photo. “What motivated you to do that?” I ask. She replies, “I was curious to see what would happen”.
I've been a big fan of Organic's Three Minds blog since back from the early days, about 2 years ago. As a matter of fact—Three Minds was a major influence on L+E and why I started blogging in the first place. Organic was one of the first agencies I can think of that started blogging and provided excellent content relevant to next generation marketing, design and user experience.
They recently re-designed their blog—which is a little cleaner and more "on brand"—meaning directly associated with Organic itself. And they announced a new blog called All Hands—which looks like it's meant to give readers a perspective into the workings of the agency.
But I miss their blogroll which was one of the best in the industry. When I was just getting up to speed in the Social Network, the Three Minds blogroll served as an initial compass to me—helping me find my way and get started.
Please bring back the blogroll.
From Three Minds:
"If you are a regular reader, you will notice that ThreeMinds has a new look. We hope you like it. Either way we'd like to hear from you, so please share your comments. A big shout out to Conor and Max who designed and launched the new and improved ThreeMinds. Shortly, we'll be launching a new blog called AllHands which will give you a peek inside Organic -- our people, what we do, how we work, etc. Stay tuned.
Agency.com have removed themselves from the Subway Pitch.
"Agency.com, which sparked an industry-wide debate by posting its Subway pitch video on YouTube late last month, has pulled out of the review for the restaurant chain's interactive assignment, the shop confirmed.
A representative of the Omnicom Group agency here said it withdrew from consideration when it reached the finals of a pitch for a conflicting account, which he declined to name. Subway's account selection process was taking longer than anticipated, and Agency.com decided to take itself out of the running, he said.
A Subway representative confirmed Agency.com's withdrawal and said the company hoped to pare its list of undisclosed contenders in the next week.
Agency.com stirred up controversy with its nearly 10-minute video treatment of its response to Subway's request for information"
And thus the saga ends. There will be no Part 2 of the infamous Viral Video. I still maintain that the industry comes out as the true winners here. We benefited by having some quality discussion and debate around a topic that was in the end much bigger than agency.com and Subway put together.
The popular Online Marketing Blog has recently announced the release of the Marketing and Advertising Blog Network which Logic + Emotion is a currently part of. This is the Brainchild of the folks at Marketing FM. Now you can get your marketing blog fix all in one place.
From the write-up:
"Marketing.FM has announced a new network of marketing and advertising blogs syndicated under one RSS feed called the Marketing and Advertising Blog Network. The initial group of blogs has over 50,000 subscribers and cover marketing, media, advertising agencies, PR, branding, television, radio, internet, new media, interactive advertising, and influential discussion. Online Marketing Blog is happy to be included with this project.
Current blog network members include:
Advertising for Peanuts
Duct Tape Marketing
MarketingVOX — The Voice of Online Marketing
Online Marketing Blog
ProHipHop - Hip Hop Marketing
Small Business Branding
WonderBranding: Marketing to Women
subscribe to the combined RSS feed which is hosted by FeedBurner’s new network feature."
My guess is that some people will find this useful. Others won't. All depends on how you prefer to digest your Blogformation.
I just wanted to extend a sincere thank you note to agency.com for their willingness to take a risk. I stand by my criticism of the video itself, which I feel is an example of terrible execution and what not to do to impress a marketing audience, but I applaud their energy and enthusiasm.
The reason why I am personally thanking them is because I have benefited from their effort in the following ways:
I could go on. But I genuinely want to extend a thanks to agency.com for being the ones in the arena. In this whole escapade, it was us—the spectators who benefited the most. The very least we can do is acknowledge that they put on a show, stuck out their necks and actually DID something. And agency.com, I hope you come out of this with some lessons learned that will make your future efforts all that much better. Personally, I'm rooting for you. Thank you for having guts. I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes from Teddy Roosevelt.
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Advertising Age is running a poll regarding the agency.com/Subway viral thingy. Think it was awesome? Then get out there and vote because the Poll is dishing the effort a significant beating. And does it even matter what our vote is? How will Subway vote?
Regardless of how this ends, we all have part 2 to look forward to.
Timing as they say is everything. Agency.com asks the advermarketing community What is Viral Marketing? CBS asks the question: What is Viral video? So here is an interesting case study. On one hand, you have the example of an interactive agency testing the waters by creating their own viral experiment. On the other, you have the Mainstream Media which surprisingly does a decent job providing a 30,0000 foot view of what Viral Video means to the masses.
Here are a few choice bits from the CBS piece:
“Average people talking about products they like—the ultimate word of mouth”
“You can’t just create a viral video—it needs to be organic. It needs to be grassroots. It needs to be real. The user will realize what’s real and what’s fake.”
“It’s really more of an art than a science”
“Sometimes they are going to laugh with you. Other times they’re going to laugh at you”
So do you agree or disagree with the examples on the CBS piece? Any thoughts about the Logitech case study and how it actually increased sales without Logitech lifting a finger? What about the Converse example vs. Coke?
And where does the agency.com example fit into this? Instead of raw, real, messy user generated content—the agency.com execution went with a more produced approach complete with editing effects, music, and it was branded Subway. The stars of the video were the employees.
A lot of questions here and I certainly don’t claim to have the answers. One thing is for sure, the viral video movement is big. It has an impact. And when you roll—big or small, brace yourselves for that impact.
Huge tip of the hat to Joseph Jaffe who is arguably the most well dressed man in our business. Nice going Joe. Now my wife thinks your look matches the voice that she fell in love with. *Sigh.
My only question is: Was this all about the client? Or was it all about the agency?
Full disclosure: I spent six years at agency.com , though not in that office.
Update I: Coudal Partners launches their version. Tip of the hat to Scott. And a bigger tip of the hat to Coudal, who just made me laugh my ass right off of my Aeron. This is Larry David funny.
Update II: You watched the now infamous "viral video". Now you can buy the T-Shirt. Tip of the hat to Fresh Glue
Update III: Now you can watch the video while wearing your T-Shirt as you comment on the official blog. Tip of hat to Adam C.
It’s tempting as hell to summarize how people relate to brands in either the way a brand tells it’s story or the the way a customer experiences a brand across a variety of touch points. Ultimately the stories and the experiences all add up to how an individual perceives your brand. However at the ground level—at the core, you have two types of people working behind the scenes to create these experiences and tell the stories. Experience People and Storytellers.
I am by no means an expert on this subject matter, but for what it’s worth—here is my perspective based on personal observations in the working world. In 1996 I knew I wanted to be a part of the Web—not just in my personal life, but as a professional. I wanted to make a living and learn as much as I could about the new media as possible. I was currently working as a broadcast designer for Fox News. If you asked me what I did back then, I would have immediately answered that I was a graphic designer. Before that I designed catalogs and freelanced identity design. When I interviewed for my first Web job at the Chicago Tribune (chicagotribune.com), the editor asked me why I wanted to work on the Web. I told him that I used visual design to tell stories—and that I desired to tell those stories in an interactive fashion.
And looking back, my answer to his question was accurate. I did just that. I worked with journalists and news people while learning HTML and Web design basics to design sites that told “interactive stories”. Instead of creating an information graphic you would merely look at, I created graphics you could click on! (a big deal back then) I also came up with headlines and selected photos for the homepage stories on a daily basis.
Then something interesting happened. Part of my job became to re-design areas of the site that required users to register. Or to work on other sites doing similar kinds of design. At first I hated it. I didn’t feel like I was telling stories at all. That’s because in a way—I wasn’t. I was being tasked to improve the experience of certain areas of the site and I didn’t know much about this kind of thing. But I quickly learned. And I learned to enjoy it. I realized that many of the design principals I was taught in school could be applied in this area. To simplify. To not overwhelm. To help guide users through a process providing visual cues. That's what visual communications was all about,
Fast forward a couple of years. One of my clients at agency.com was Grainger, a large B2B distributor with a fully functional transactional site that could do pretty much anything you could think of in relation to e-commerce. My team and I spent years evolving the site experience. We prototyped, we tested, we personified customers, we built, we re-built, we designed in iterations, and after significant effort—we helped evolve an interactive experience to be both more business and people friendly. But were we telling stories? Not at that level. The site was definitely part of a larger brand story (or experience), but we were helping to make a very specific existing experience better.
But other projects did include more storytelling aspects. When HP decided to sell iPods—we had to both create an experience and tell a story within the parameters of a marketing focused Website. Here I would say that the lines were much more blurred between the experience and the story. We had to tell the story a certain way. There was a position. There was a strategy. And the story was being told in many other mediums such as TV. Unlike Grainger, on that project we had Experience People and Storytellers working together.
And it wasn’t always easy.
That brings me to current times. From my perspective we can talk about great experiences and compelling stories as much as we want—but I think an emerging reality is that the Experience People and Storytellers are going to have to make significant strides in how we relate to each other. In my opinion, an intimate brand relationship is formed through a collection of experiences and reinforced through stories. Think about it in these terms. If you work for an agency and you are focusing on an interactive initiative—how much coordination is there at the brand strategy level? How much between the teams that devise the messaging and the ones that create the experiences?
Here’s a personal example that I’ve referenced before. I’ve had positive experiences with Citibank over many years. From the ATMs to the branches, to their online banking. They have done right by me. And there’s something about their brand personality that just works for me (from the design of the branches to the logo etc.) So when a clever campaign like the “Thank You” one comes up—I’m fine with it because I already have developed an affinity for the brand. It reinforces what I currently feel. So the Experience People have done their job. They’ve provided me with consistently good experiences. And the Storytellers have done their job—they’ve told me memorable stories that reinforce my feelings. Together, both add up to loyalty. But at ground zero are the people creating those communications designing experiences? Are the people designing the ATMs telling stories?
So back to my personal experience as it relates to marketing and creativity. I have a hunch that the brands which do a good job of getting the Experience People to perfectly sync up with the Storytellers are going to be the ones who stand out in the end. To bring this back to earth, I’ll reference another example. Nikewomen.com Unlike my Grainger example, I think the Nikewomen site combines both experience with story—both are dialed up in a big way. The site uses video, attitude and music to relate to their intended audience. But it also SELLS product. You can buy any of the clothing items you see in the video. Now at surface level this all sounds simple. But think about the teams who worked on this. On one hand you have video directors, screen writers, choreographers, art directors etc. responsible for highly produced multimedia that people would be willing to sit back and watch on their PC screen. And on the other, you have information architects, developers, visual designers etc. working together to deliver a fluid commerce experience that actually works and is easy for people to use. And it’s all wrapped up in one “Website”.
Experience People + Storytellers working side by side? You bet.
Over the weekend I had three different kinds of interactive experiences. In each of them, I acted like three different kinds of people (more accurately mindsets).
A Navigator. An Explorer. And an Engaged Participant. Before I get into how I define these along with examples, allow me to make a few analogies:
Getting to the destination: Have you ever hopped in your car for your weekend getaway and all you cared about was getting there? You couldn’t care less about the scenery you passed on the way to the destination. All you want to do is get to that beach house, cabin, or whatever so your weekend can begin. Once you get behind the wheel—it’s all about navigating the path of least resistance.
Taking in the journey: Now suppose that you are on a different kind of trip where you’ve decided to take the side roads and make a few stops along the way. You’re curious about the area you are traveling in and want to explore what it has to offer. You still want to get to your destination, but the direct path doesn’t appeal to you as much as the more interesting nooks and crannies that you take in on the “scenic route”.
Stopping by for a spell: So let’s say that time isn’t an issue at all, and you really don’t have a pre-determined destination. Let’s say you buy a train ticket to a location you’ve never visited and you spend the day there, You visit with the local people, get to know a few of them by the end of the day, and even take some pictures back with you to share with a few friends.
So back to my three distinct interactive experiences that I had over the weekend. While doing my online banking, I realized I was being a Navigator. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and I quickly plotted my course to arrive at my destination (getting my bills paid).
But then, I turned into an Explorer while going through the RPA site. The site has this really interesting way of “navigating” through it that allows you to move through 3 dimensional space. There was also a more straight forward navigation bar at the top—but I choose to use my arrow keys to explore the space. I didn’t care as much about getting to point B as much as I did they way I got there.
And lastly, I acted like an Engaged Participant while playing Verizon’s Beatbox Mixer which I came across on 3 Minds. Since it was Saturday night and I had all the free time in the world—I killed some of that time by playing with the very cool mixer. I was delighted by the sounds and how I could manipulate and mix the vocals from each artist. And when I was done, I shared what I had done with some people that I knew would appreciate it.
So that’s my story. Sometimes we are Navigators. Sometimes we are Explorers. And other times, Engaged Participants. And sometimes we’re all three of these and more. Food for thought as we think about how we incorporate digital and non-digital experiences in our everyday lives.
Ok, I know. Misleading headline. Cut me some slack. I’m still a blogger after all. Erick Kintz over at HP’s Marketing excellence blog turned me on to a new viral campaign they recently “unveiled”. By unveiled, I mean that one of the initiatives is a blog that was originally non-branded with the exception of a few hints. Fingerskilz.tv is a collection of videos that show hands dressed as football players (world cup) doing some fancy moves with a wadded up ball of paper.
The blog yielded some interesting results according to Eric’s blog:
"Fingerskilz.tv has produced incredible results: 6.3 million hits, 180,000 unique visitors, average visit duration of 5.45 mins. It has also been selected in the top 6 World Cup virals by Boreme, a site that tracks virals: “The Fingerskilz clip is just dynamite - offering a miniature version of last week's featured ball skills”. A google searchproduced 22,000 results and the blog has been featured on a number of publications, online and offline as well as in the blogosphere."
It’s an interesting move that HP didn’t brand this until later—after the blog generated some buzz around it. But one thing I couldn’t help but thinking is why they didn’t open the source of the videos? Although if they did, maybe it would have blown their cover as regular blogs don’t do this. But maybe since the HP connection is out in the open now—they should consider adding it.
See? I was too lazy to create a screengrab for this post—but if I could have copied the video code from the blog ala You Tube style, you could be sure I would have included the Zidane clip right here. C’mon Eric, what do you think, how about some open source? :)
In my mind, HP’s latest spots mark a quiet but meaningful turnaround in the saga of the 30 second spot. Here’s why. HP launches a new campaign—”The Computer Is Personal Again”, which on the surface seems typical. But take a closer look and there’s more to it than meets the eye. To start—the spots were launched online before going to television and they seem to be tailored to the “plugged in demographic” stressing the influence of the Social Media Network. From HP’s site:
“The next round of "The Computer is Personal Again" campaign - three commercials starring Mark Burnett, Mark Cuban and Pharrell Williams - will premiere online before appearing on television.
Previously released commercials featuring cultural icon Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and U.S. Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White generated overwhelmingly positive online chatter throughout the web and blogosphere.
"We are seeing great interest in the number of blog links and online buzz created by the first two ad spots," said David Roman, vice president of marketing communications, Personal Systems Group, HP. "Online video sites and their prominence in the blog community are today's 'word-of-mouth,' providing a very personal avenue to help HP reach an audience that doesn't necessarily respond to traditional media, but who will watch an ad online if it's been recommended by a well-liked blogger or a friend."
That last part about a “well liked blogger or a friend” is really critical. What the Ad world is experiencing is a shift in where viewers are going, and in the online space—it’s all about word of mouth. We’ll go find something if someone we know has said good things about it. And as the case is with You Tube—sometimes we don’t need to go very far (like how I’m featuring one of the Ads here).
But, here’s where I see signs of new life. First of all—I want to watch these ads. They are mesmerizing—hard to take your eyes off. And the idea is solid—to get people talking about technology in a non-technology way. OK, fine—Apple did it first. So what? These spots are distinct enough to live on their own. And here is another key move to this new 30 second formula. The inclusions of relevant influencers like "Jay-Z" and Mark Cuban. Cuban is a brilliant choice. He spans multiple worlds—influencing both sports fans and bloggers. The way the ads use these individuals is key. It’s not the old school endorsement. In fact, the individuals in the spots never mention HP.
And of course you can create your own spot, complete with your photos etc. Check out what fellow blogger Eric Kintz created. Eric, I have to say—your spot is both cool and freaky. I didn’t expect to see you with an 80’s hair band doo. I’m still recovering.
So what do you think? Is this type of campaign the new 30 second spot? Is the formula something like better creative + online integration + You Tube + Co-creation? Will it all equal the re-birth of the 30 second spot? And what does this mean for all of the ho-hum marketing that is still served up en masse through our “Moo Tubes”?
Is that cash cow enjoying it’s final days? And how long till it goes out to pasture?
Oh yeah. last thought. The ever crafty Goodby, Silverstein & Partners are behind this latest effort. Good stuff, but I'm still waiting for the GSPB (Goodby Silverstein & Partners Blog).
You may or may not have heard of The Barbarian Group, but chances are you've seen some of the work they've done for brands such as Saturn, VW, Comcast and Burger King. Subservient Chicken ring a bell? They played a role in that. The Barbarian Group is an interesting agency model—they push interactive technologies and creativity to the limit and often work behind the scenes partnering with larger agencies as well as working directly with clients.
"We're not the interactive version of an ad agency. But we are also not exactly the interactive version of a production company. We're kind of like hiring a director and a production company and a vfx company, with some great creative/art direction thrown in. Agencies don't keep stables of 20 full-time directors to do their best broadcast spots, so why do it in interactive? "
I recently had a chance to catch up with Rick Webb, co-founder and Lead Barbarian for a little Q+A. Here's how it went:
DA: The first time I heard "Barbarian Group" I thought it was a unique name (I like it much better than Vector). I also like that you refer to each other as "Barbarians". What's the meaning behind the name and why did it win out over your other choices?
RW: Oh God. It was one of those endless meetings where you keep trying to think up names and you are completely exhausted, and don't want to pay attention anymore. The four of us - Me, Ben, Keith and Robert - were sitting in Ben's house and Keith and I were having trouble keeping our curiosity up. We got distracted and started talking about Civilization 3, which was coming out that week, and I cheekily mentioned the Barbarian Hordes in the game.
Ben latched onto it and said "that's it!" He liked it because it wasn't too agency sounding, like all our other names were, and it could be imprinted upon anything. He also thought it sounded good because it "struck fear into the hearts of our enemies. " I do think it forces us to maintain a rock and roll attitude, and not take things too seriously.
I also like the linguistic quirks of things like calling ourselves "Barbarians." We have our own copy style guide, and making sure the tone is professional but fun is vitally important to us.
It's ridiculous how poor corporate communication in America has gotten.
DA: Looking at some of the work produced for Discover, Comcast and Method—there is a high degree of interactively combined with a "big idea". What does a typical Barbarian team look like and how would you describe how team members work with each other + clients?
RW: The standard team on a medium to large project has changed through the years. Early on it was one tech, one project manager, and one creative, who also did the Flash. Since two of the three people on that team were usually partners in the company, lots of oversight, account service, etc., wasn't needed. Over the years, we've expanded our offerings and capabilities to include more straight up design, copy writing, and other services, so a typical team could be much larger now. The base is still a producer, a tech lead and a creative lead, but there may also be a copywriter, a Flash person or designer who isn't the creative lead. We may also have more than one programmer, if needed, a separate producer for a video shoot, if there is one, and there's always a partner on the team to make sure things are kosher, though we're usually performing one of the above roles.
We've experimented heavily through the years trying to find the right size of a team, and trying to find out how to keep the creative as pure as possible. We're on maybe our fourth model now, but we're all liking this one a whole lot. We're pretty strict and picky about who we hire, and everyone's ridiculously talented, so we have the luxury of experimenting some without worrying too much things will get messed up.
Working with the agencies varies so much it's kind of ridiculous. We have about 20 agencies we regularly work with, and every one of them has a different work style, and every job has a different level of engagement. The one consistent trick is that the producer and I always try and find the best way to work with the agency, and our producer is actively engaged in managing the project. I dream of making it more process-driven, and we do apply rigorous project management techniques, but recently we've come to terms with the fact that agencies are all very different, and we'll always be striving to work with them more efficiently. That's not to say many agencies don't bend over backwards to try and work with us in what we perceive to be the most efficient manner, of course. Only that, well, it's hard.
In the big picture, when it works, it works brilliantly. Strategic and creative minds meld into one, and it all falls into place who should do what. We're lucky, and that happens more often than not. Agencies are actively trying to bring us in earlier and earlier, which is helping immeasurably.
RW: Tell the truth. It's our secret weapon. It's amazing how often people won't say what they're thinking, or call things like they are.
DA: The internet has really gained traction in the past two years partly because of advances in technology and broadband—but also because of the shift in media consumption with an increased appetite for interactive. How has this shift affected The Barbarian Group?
RW: Okay, so I'm telling everyone this these days. If you're an innovator on the web, advertising is the new venture capital. Eight years ago, if you had a good idea for an internet site, you got your money from a VC - the "amazon" model. Five years ago, if you had an awesome idea, you went ahead and built it with a bunch of your similarly unemployed friends - the "Flickr" model. Now, if you have an awesome idea, you should get the money from advertisers. We view ourselves as innovators at heart. We love advertising and we understand brands, but deep down we're internet nerds. And this increased appetite for interactive, and the commensurate newfound attention from advertisers, has subconsciously shaped us, I think. We do this because it's where the freedom is. It's where the action is.
And advertisers don't force board members on you when they give you money.
DA: What are some of your favorite "Non Barbarian" examples of great interactive work? Why?
RW: I love the Time Magazine Person of the Year site that ran in Times Square last winter, by RGA. I love the Ikea stuff that Foresman did in Sweden. I love everything North Kingdom does. I love the Goo stuff that Ground and Dentsu do in Japan. I love Yugo Nakamura, Erik Natzke. I am confining myself to interactive advertising here, which is an important distinction. I'm not talking interactivity in general. I love these from a design geek point of view. I love these because they are beautiful, fluid, surprising, different, ground breaking. They may not always be the most effective advertising, but they're the ones that I am envious of deep down.
DA: Much of the work you produce is Flash heavy and experiential. How do you approach things like basic usability and user experience?
RW: We are totally lax and intuitive about it. We do advertising. We don't do banking sites. We all know it, of course, from "back in the day," and we care about it. But when you're making a Subservient Chicken or a beer site, it's not necessarily foremost in your mind, nor should it be. More and more, though, as flash minisites fall by the wayside and we expand our horizons, the old ways have been making a comeback. We're using CVS again. We're making wireframes again. We've finally made a QA policy at the Barbarian Group. We still haven't put anything through a usability lab, though.
DA: What about project management? How does that fit in?
RW: Project management is a ridiculous obsession of ours. We actively, ruthlessly seek the best interactive project managers we can find. They run every project. Because our clients are so consistently different, the project managers are our saviors. We don't have account service. Our PMs fulfill that role as well.
DA: What are your greatest sources of inspiration? What motivates you to get up in the morning and do it all over again?
RW: I could talk about heroes (ahem Tony Wilson and Peter Saville), but I think the thing that keeps me going is how far we come. Five years ago, we had some theories about how things worked in this little niche of where the internet meets advertising. They were totally validated. It makes you wonder about your other theories. It makes you wonder what else you could do. In the words of Gore Verbinski, in this week's Entertainment Weekly, if you're going to fail, fail big. I figure we'll keep plowing ahead until our theories turn out to be misguided. And having the opportunity to find this out about these ideas is what keeps me going.
It's a weird experience, being able to investigate your wildest, most grandiose theories.
DA: There is talk of interactive agencies becoming "traditional"-doing "safe" things like online advertising, sitelets and going after the industry awards for validation. What's your take on this? And how do you feel about emerging media such as Social Networks?
RW: This was a HUGE, soul-searching issue for us this year. It would be so easy to turn into the next RGA. It's too soon to say much more than I have already about exactly why, but I am confident in the next 12 months it'll be radically apparent that we have no such intentions. It's a serious concern, though, and God knows it's very tempting. The holding companies circle. Money is dangled. You get good at something, and it's easy to fall into a rut. We're struggling mightily to avoid, or get out, of that rut. I think the hard part is behind us. We're radicalized now.
We want to change the world.
DA: In one word-describe the "essence" of The Barbarian Group
RW: 21st century punk rock. oh wait, that's like four. ummm... earnest?
One of my favorite features on one of my favorite blogs is Experience Planner’s weekly linkages. Scott does an amazing job of collecting must see material, and putting it together in one neat and tidy list ready for consumption. It’s a buffet of brand experience sites, emerging trends, timely articles and overall a nice mix of content that any planner, designer, developer, copywriter, or anyone in marketing/advertising would find of interest.
Go check it out. This week’s is especially good.
BTW, Scott—you need to create a widget that I can place on my blog (or any blog) which sucks in the weekly links and publishes it in some kind of visual format.
Nice article in USA Today, covering some highlights from Cannes. In short: the Web has become a mass medium that matches how consumers want to engage with brands.
A few take aways:
"•The big idea.
Creativity is the cornerstone of advertising in traditional media advertising, and the same is true for the Web world, says David Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO, North America. "In the old days, you could run crap, and it was inescapable. Today, whether its traditional or new media, consumers have unprecedented choice about what they will or won't watch. Time is the most precious thing, so you have to convince them why it's worth their precious time to engage with your brand for 10 minutes."
BBDO's Atmosphere recently created a serial Web comic story for Snickers that stars band Black Eyed Peas. The characters, who develop into superheroes after an accident in a Snickers plant, try to restore the early days of hip-hop.
•Pass it along.
Whether consumers spend minutes or hours with a brand is less important than whether they feel strongly enough about it to tell someone else about the website or e-mail a piece of video they created, says Colleen DeCourcy, chief creative officer at digital agency Organic in Detroit. "Engagement time alone doesn't matter. It's people's propensity to pass it along. Taking it in is the way we used to measure; people wanting to put it back in takes it one step further."
•Sell, sell, sell.
Talking posters at urinals in New York City bars and 13-inch rulers with the shaveeverywhere.com address helped build buzz for Bodygroom, Norelco's hair-removal device for men. At the site, a man instructs in a humorous (and racy) way about shaving male body parts. After Sirius' Howard Stern mentioned the site on the radio, more than 600 blogs were buzzing about the $39.99 Bodygroom and the website.
Tribal DDB created it, and CEO Matt Freeman says that engagement is about selling.
The site links to retailers and, "They have exceeded their sales goal," he says, with a campaign that cost Norelco just $500,000.
•Mix old and new.
TV can drive consumers to a site where engagement time leverages the cost of commercials. In this year's Super Bowl, for instance, many advertisers directed viewers to the Web to see the ads again or see behind-the-scenes footage and director's cut versions.
Within minutes after its $2 million ads ran during the game, Burger King had lured millions for user-controlled outtakes from its musical ad starring the Whopperettes.
CareerBuilder.com got more than 2 million users at its site to watch the ads and send Monk-e-Mail, customized messages starring a CareerBuilder chimp. Since its launch in late January, Monk-e-Mail has been sent 35 million times.
•Make them stay.
R/GA helped Nike promote its Fitness Dance Collection on the Web with interactive video, including one that featured singer/dancer Rihanna wearing the clothes.
The site taught step-by-step dance moves and told visitors where to buy the items she was wearing. She also wore the clothes in a music video for her new single.
"It's all about the target and the measurement," says Bob Greenberg, chairman and CEO of R/GA. "Advertisers want something that moves a person along a continuum of engagement that can make them more interested in the brand, make them an advocate of the brand and lead to a purchase."
•All of the above.
Marketers need to look beyond time to measure engagement, says R/GA's Benvenuto. That's what R/GA did to launch Subaru's B9 Tribeca. "You go to the site and sign up to get an e-mail. That's one level," she says.
"The next level is completing a profile to get customized messages. The next level is coming back when more information about the car is released and configuring a sample car. When the car was available for sale, the ultimate measure of success was consumers requesting dealer information."
Bruce Nussbaum from Businessweek has become synonymous with the words business, design and innovation. But advertising? I’ve noticed an increase in the past regarding Bruce’s coverage of marketing and advertising related issues specific to the mash ups we are seeing between advertising and design firms. But lately Bruce has been venturing even further into what I like to call Advermarketing.
If this is the case, I say bring it on! Advermarketing needs an influx of some new perspectives outside of Adweek, Advertising Age etc. In related news, a recent post from Nussbaum on Design included some nice references to Advertising innovation including the Social Media Network.
Some choice excerpts:
"Two of the biggest marketers in the world showed up at the Supernova conference in San Francisco today and sounded more like Web 2.0 zealots than brand giants. Michael Wiley, director of new media, GM Communications, at General Motors, who's responsible for GM blogs, sounded the most radical:
"The existing advertising paradigm sucks," he said. "It's woefully inefficient. We give consumers virtually no information."
Likewise, Stan Joosten, Procter & Gamble's innovation manager for holistic customer communication (how's that for a title?), said P&G needs to experiment more with social media--carefully. "We have to stay out of some places" where people don't want to see ads, he noted. But he says P&G wants to engage with customers wherever they are online. "People want to talk about things they care about and you give them a platform to do that."
“Putting up a video clip or a photo is an expression of self creativity and is another form of media that contributes to the splintering of the mass market... But having a service where you can aggregate those mini pieces of media together and that helps you share them even more broadly, to syndicate them in fact, turbocharges that new media.”
Good stuff Bruce. I think IDEO, Ziba, and Design Continuum have had enough help from you. Time to look at R/GA, AQKA , Digitas and a few others... ;)
Finally got my arse over to the new Moto store on Michigan avenue to see (and touch) the Motorola Q up close and personal. Here’s a very non-techie overview of what you can expect when you have a chance to play with one.
IT’S REALLY SMALL
I’ve been watching the Q for over a year now and have seen photos of it from every angle. Some photos made it look really small and others made it look big and wide (especially next to a TREO). Here’s the skinny. It’s skinny. And small. And light. It fits in the pocket with ease. The size, style and slim factor are the most impressive qualities of the phone. You’ll be happy to trade in your “brick” for this delightful little wafer.
Hats off to the designers at Moto. The Q is sharp looking. You’ll be the envy of your friends sporting this beauty—not to mention the suits who will still have company issued three-inch thick Blackberries It’s definitely easy on the eye and fashionable. It's a product to lust after.
The Windows Mobile UI is not the best interface in my opinion—but it should get the job done. If you are already used to Windows Mobile, you’ll have an easier time with the transition. Browser was nice and it seems to support lots of file types.
THE GOOD AND BAD
Overall, mostly good. I predict the phone will appeal to people who want a small, stylish, full QWERTY keyboard phone with camera/video features. The keyboard itself is OK—not great. I would say it’s comparable to the TREO, but the rest of the phone is so much smaller and does feel really nice in your hand. Another nit is the screen. Could be bigger, but at least it’s crisp. The scroll wheel was a smart move on Moto’s part—Blackberry users rely on this (I have a Sidekick, but can’t even think about a smart phone without a scroll wheel).
The obvious winner for the Q is the form factor. It’s looks and feels great, and the trade-offs are probably worth it if you want a smart phone that you can REALLY put in your POCKET. That’s the kicker, this phone truly delivers on the “pocket test”.
I JUST DID MOTO A SMALL FAVOR
Last point. Props to the people at MOTO for allowing me to take this picture. They took down my info and gave me permission to snap off a shot from the store. What I just did here is a form of marketing (maybe the best type of marketing for Moto) and it’s FREE. Nobody paid me to do this. I have no agenda other than spreading the news about a product I am going to purchase (I’ll wait till T-Mobile carries). I just provided some commentary about Moto’s product that is honest and objective. So Motorola was wise to let me snap the shot and blog this. Who knows, it might motivate some people to do what I just did and see the phone for themselves.
Brawny has followed up the drop-dead hysterical Brawnyman with the “Brawny Academy”. If you’ve seen the original Brawnyman—you’ll recall a series of short clips where an ultra sensitive yet rugged countryman would soothe his love by asking her to do things, like saw wood. “Back and forth... Thaaaats right...” and there was the infamous “that thing"—"no one should have to go through that thing...” It was a little raw—but hysterical.
Brawny Acadamy unfortunately looks beautiful but has no soul, edge or originality. The “academy” is basically a rip off of a reality show where you can vote on the contestants—Yadda yadda yadda—the first clip is way too long. I love the design—but the original Brawny guy rocked. Bring him back with an extra side of political un-correctness please...
I'm thrilled to announce that as of today I'm part of a group of fine individuals who participate on the Futurelab blog. Currently ranked in the top 25 Marketing Blogs, Futurelab is fast becoming a destination for thoughts on the evolving state of marketing as it unfolds in real time. Glad I can be a part of this. Futurelab is:
Alain Thys s Stefan Kolle
Blog Contributors (in order of joining)
Ilya Vedrashko s Régine Debatty s Josh Hawkins s Chris Lawer s Karl Long
Joseph Mann s Hemant Karandikar s Jennifer Rice s Yann Gourvennec
Guy Kawasaki s Roger Dooley s David Polinchock s danah boyd
John Sviokla s David Jennings s David Armano
Let the articles about branding on the social network commence. Actually, hype aside—there are a lot of opportunities to message/provide experiences where the people go. It's that simple. I'll use my own life as an example—I watch almost no television anymore except for a few favorite shows which I Tivo (My Name Is Earl is a must).
So here's a decent article on iMedia Connection that makes the case for "Branding The Social Network" and provides some examples. There will be many more of these types of write-ups to come...
From the article:
“Many companies think of the internet like television: consumers are expected to sit patiently and absorb the branded message, and then act accordingly. Now, with the rise of a combination of technologies called Web 2.0, the internet is much more than a broadcast channel.
With the ever-increasing social use of the web, websites are
becoming venues for discussion of ideas, opinions and transactions.
Social networking is the framework in which these conversations happen.
Our challenge as marketers is to leverage the power of these new social
networks to create innovative brand experiences.”
And speaking of the Social Network, here's how I see it.
I know.... I know... I'm not supposed to talk about bubbles. Maybe the current boom isn't. But the focus of this Businessweek article stresses that salaries for talented internet marketers has gone through the roof—and it makes me a little nervous. I remember similar articles talking about Web Designers during the internet bubble.
So while it's accurate that talent these days is hard to find (and keep)—I'd offer up this perspective:
To the talented: Don't just chase after the dollar, only make a move if your talents can be put to good (or better) use. True talent is only happy when it's being used.
To the employers: Don't get carried away. Genuinely talented people care about the work and have the history to back it up.
To everyone: Increase in Advertising and Marketing budgets don't always make for better Marketing—sometimes innovation suffers during "boom times" because folks get carried away by silly trends.
From the article:
“Mama, let your babies grow up to be Web ad guys. With the online ad business up 30% last year to $12.5 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, job candidates are feasting on a seller's market. The top Web ad agency, Seattle-based Avenue A/Razorfish, is looking for 200 people on a staff of about 1,500, after growing by 200 positions during the year to date.
Digitas of Boston has advertised 74 new positions since Apr. 1, on a staff of about 1,700. So eager is the outfit to drum up candidates that it recently tweaked a referral program so that even former workers can collect $2,000 for directing a friend toward a job opening.SUPERSIZED SALARY. That can make job hunting easy and lucrative. Salaries for some kinds of jobs are up 10% to 20% in the past year, says Clark Kokich, president of Avenue A/Razorfish. Candidates can get tech advertising jobs with backgrounds in technology or advertising -- and sometimes without either.”
NY Times has a nice piece about the "open source" movement. References Firefox Flicks among others. The "brand reformation" part is priceless. We can now all engage in a direct relationship with the "Almighty Brand".
“The rise of consumer-generated advertising can be viewed as either a
boon to brands (outsourcing marketing to loyal customers) or a threat
(handing marketing over to a bunch of uncontrollable amateurs). When
G.M. solicited consumer input in online ad-making for its Chevy Tahoe,
many people responded with anti-S.U.V. messages. Grant McCracken, an
author, anthropologist and consultant, takes a broader view, describing
consumer involvement as a kind of branding Reformation: marketing
professionals used to be the high-priest gatekeepers, but now we can
all have a direct relationship with the Almighty Brand.
He refers to this as brand "co-creation" (a term he credits to C.K. Prahalad, a business professor at the University of Michigan), and sees it as both inevitable and smart, even in the case of the Tahoe controversy. "The era of the brand that's blandly constructed and hopes not to offend anyone — to be pleasant — that notion is really dead," McCracken says."
Ever find yourself scanning the web for a cool online ad you saw somewhere? BannerBlog not only archives rich media ads etc.—it's a blog, so you can rate and comment on the ads posted there. Check it out.
"What many of the IIT-type individuals may not realize is that they are marketers in a sense. The digital products/experiences
they help design are enabling people to connect with brands as
well as each other. You Tube, Flickr, Technorati, Typepad,
Facebook—these are the open source platforms that help us market
directly to each other. And the design thinkers at IIT have the right
skills to develop these platforms and make them work."
Google expands it's video offering by supporting a new breed of interactive advertising...
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The expression is most frequently used by a new breed of marketers who work primarily with the Internet. This new generation of marketers views media such as TV, newspapers, and radio as secondary means of communication.
Many Fortune 500 companies have already started using the term internally and creating advertising campaigns leveraging the Internet as a socialisation mechanism between equal individuals instead of seeing it as a unidirectional mass medium.
Marketing 2.0 is an evolution of Marketing that leverages the social networking aspects of many new websites. Frequently called Web 2.0, these sites reach millions of people via social networks and can involve media such as pictures, videos, blogs, social bookmarks, and feeds.
The interconnnectivity of social networks combined with their ability to communicate a variety of mass media forms can be used to advertise/market in novel ways. Companies can supplement traditional marketing methods with Marketing 2.0 for things like branding, hype, promotion, and public relations.
The fast food giant Wendy's created a profile for their square hamburger character from television commercials on Myspace.com. This character was then added to the "friends" list of over 90,000 profiles resulting in a significant amount of unpaid advertising.
MGM posted an eight-minute clip of their movie "Lucky Number Slevin" on YouTube.com prior to its release. This movie ended upon the homepage in the category of "most popular videos of the day" and received 4.5 out of 5 stars from YouTube visitors.
Because of the growing variety of devices like digital video recorders and mobile video devices, it is becoming easier than ever for viewers to avoid or ignore conventional TV advertising. Hence, product placement - which has been used for a long time in advertising - is playing a more important role in the context of Marketing 2.0.
These new TV advertising opportunities come in the form of what is also called branded entertainment. They include mentioning brands in lines of dialogue, placing products in scenes so they are visible to viewers and giving advertisers roles in plots of shows.
These tactics along with others can all contribute to buzz marketing, which is pushed a lot further in Marketing 2.0. Buzz marketing helps with several aspects of marketing and advertising including search engine optimization. With all the links to a website generated through blogs, websites can become ranked very quickly for certain keywords pertaining to that product/service.