Archive for April 2011
In the same way China approached its preparations for the Beijing Olympics, businesses have fully detailed each sensory impression a product will have on consumers. One company's ultimate objective: Become a global leader in car manufacturing. Look out, Detroit.
Few people are better situated to speak about the present state -- and future prospects -- of design today than Kevin Slavin and Paola Antonelli. Antonelli, of course, is the senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Among the many groundbreaking shows she's put on, perhaps the most influential was Design and the Elastic Mind, which tracked the various ways that designers were using technology to break out of the discipline's old boundaries. Slavin, working with Frank Lantz, co-founded Area/Code, a game developer that was just recently acquired by Zynga, becoming Zynga New York.
When members of the Confederate Army declared "the South will rise again," they weren't talking about New York Fashion Week. Yet this February, a gaggle of celebrities and fashion icons filled Lincoln Center to view Chris Benz's new Savannah (Ga.)-inspired collection. The show, which Benz referred to as "Spooky Savannah," featured models in floppy hats and tiered ruffles walking the runway as if they were in a reenactment of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil directed by John Waters.
A lot of us remember when the role of the CMO was much simpler. Information flowed in one direction: from companies to consumers. When we drew up our plans and budgets, the key metric was consumer impressions: how many people would see, hear or read our ad? Today the only place that approach still works is on Mad Men. Now information flows in many directions, consumer touch points have multiplied, and the old, one-size-fits-all approach has given way to precision marketing and one-to-one communications.
What makes one brand survive a reputation crisis better than others? While it would take a PR and branding genius to help, for instance, BP restore its tarnished image, how about less extreme examples? Consider the recent New York Times expose on General Electric that revealed how the corporate behemoth paid no taxes in 2010. GE made $14 billion in profits in 2010, $5 billion of that in the US — but its US tax bill is negative $3.5 billion. And yet, GE's reputation has not suffered as much as BP, Toyota or Goldman Sachs, at least so far, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the consumer perception brand research service.
The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton might seem entirely frothy and unworthy of the time of busy executives. It seems an inconsequential event — no new international alliances are formed, no policies will change within their home nation, and the young couple doesn't seem all that interesting. But the April 29 nuptials are one more example of the coming of the experience economy, in which people pay for the chance to participate at particular times (Farmville, anyone?), and expenditures on goods and services come in bundles tied to particular events.
The 2011 Pulitzer Prizes were announced recently, and I was thrilled to see that Nick Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains was a finalist in the general nonfiction category. I've known Nick for many years, and have become a fan of his writing and thinking. He's one of the world's most thoughtful observers of modern technology, bringing a well-stocked brain and a lively pen to his work.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has swung its bulk into the fast-changing world of social networks by acquiring a small California company that it will use to explore new ways of reaching shoppers digitally.
Facebook today launched a stand-alone community site (facebook-studio.com) where ad agency creatives can share ideas, comment on campaigns and learn what it takes to create a successful page for a brand. The community is called "Facebook Studio" and is a platform aimed at agencies, PR firms and media strategy companies.
Many companies now have senior officers in charge of customer experience. The executives' role is to define the attributes of the customer experience in partnership with their operational colleagues, organize the customer-satisfaction-measurement process against those attributes, and encourage remedial action wherever warranted. What they hardly ever have, though, is an approach to evolve the design of the customer experience, let alone create a new experience.