UE is a publication of Davis Brand Capital.
  • rss
  • feedburner
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • DavisBrandCapital.com

Category: Culture

Davis ThinkingDavis Thinking } analysis and interpretation

Davis Brand Brief: March 2014

Davis Brand Capital
Friday, March 28, 2014

Inspired by Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the March Davis Brand Brief explores the relationship between brands and women. Which brands understand women and which ones have more work to do? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter. #womenandbrands

Food “Labeling”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A few weeks ago, I attended the Atlantic World Foodways Conference at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.  The event was remarkable in quality and diversity of thought and an excellent example of partnerships between non- and for-profit organizations. In particular, The Fresh Market, a specialty grocer headquartered in Greensboro, is to be commended for co-sponsoring the event.

Internet of Everything: Cultural

Davis Brand Capital
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Culturally, being outnumbered by devices has big implications for how we will live, work and communicate. From the bedroom to the tennis court, we like to know how we’re doing. Health and wellness technologies, especially, help consumers feel good (or, at least, a little better) and more in control. Looking to leverage this, several brands are stepping up their games.

The Year in Brand: Cultural

Davis Brand Capital
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In a time when branded content earns equal space alongside our friends in daily newsfeeds, it becomes critical for stories to be both timely and distinct. Today's social media-based environment demands an understanding of culture that shapes good branding.

#FounderBrands: Not your Founding Father’s Brand

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

While the Penn State scandal and abdication of leadership is deplorable and unfortunately merits its sad attention, what happened at the venerable University of Virginia this spring is, in another way, astounding. It laid bare the unrelenting business assault roiling educational institutions, their custodians and their brands.

From Bots to Spimes: Emerging Technologies Offer Early Glimpse of Our A.I. Future

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Web bots, the “internet of things”, machine learning and other converging technological advancements offer an early glimpse of our artificial intelligence future. And marketers need to start paying attention.

Marissa Mayer Brings Brand Capital to Yahoo

Monday, July 16, 2012

Marissa Mayer's move to Yahoo as CEO made me reexamine the question of personal brands. I maintain my position: they don't exist in any meaningful way. They are just (not terribly) fancy jargon for bloggers. What Mayer brings to Yahoo is not her personal brand, but the brand capital of Google.

StandUp: Can a Sports Brand Unite Gays and Straights?

Monday, July 9, 2012

The LGBT equality movement has entered the mainstream. Now that we are here, I think there is a new type of work to do. As a long-time brand strategist for some of the world's leading companies, I believe our next steps are in the consumer marketplace. We must unlock the full power of influential marketers, going beyond sponsorships alone.

JC Penney and the Courage of Relevance

Friday, June 1, 2012

In what can be described only as a singularly courageous move, the new JCPenney unveiled a Father's Day ad featuring real-life gay dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith, and their children, Claire and Mason. It is widely considered a direct response to the failed hysteria of the "Million Moms" boycott of the retailer after it named Ellen DeGeneres its spokesperson. And, indeed, this read of events is likely. Something more is going on, though. The ailing retailer has found the courage to be relevant, and with bold social intent.

The Guggenheim Effect

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The term "Guggenheim Effect" used to denote the positive role the brand played in Bilbao's resurgence as a destination site. It became well accepted vernacular, not only in the museum community, but among the wider community of brand and marketing experts. In recent weeks, however, the term has been re-appropriated by European media and citizens to express a much more negative and even sarcastic view of the cultural institution.

Culture Clubs: Creation, Navigation, Conversation

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

There is certainly humor to be had watching, sprawled out in the comfort of another century, the way previous generations handled – or didn’t – destabilizing changes that we now take for granted. We are now obligated to live in a culture of conversation with its simultaneous flattening of things like expert culture and its ever-expanding choice of content providers and options.

Community Is As Community Does

Monday, November 21, 2011

“Building community.” It’s become a mantra. You can’t go a day of digitally deposited trade reading without gurus across the board - from HBR to Ad Age - opining on how brand building is linked to community building. The devil, of course, is in the details.

Coupon, If You Dare

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The endless-loop news of Groupon's financial bleeding — largely self-inflicted — brings no joy to those who thought they were on to the next big thing. As Sunday's New York Times points out, the daily-discount site was all-too recently offered a stunning $6 billion from Google, but the time-tested combination of corporate hubris, greed and flimsy accounting got in the way of all of that.

Fashion and Feminism - Without the Fuss

Rachel L. Newman
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kara Jesella's informed and insightful look at fashion and feminism and Tavi Gevinson's new online magazine, Rookie, are well worth the read.

Digital: A New Playing Field for Ralph Lauren

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fast Company's cover story in the September issue is a must-read for any marketer, no matter the industry.

A Note of Thanks From the CEO

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A note of thanks from World Market's CEO reached inboxes across the U.S. last Thursday, August 11, while financial markets around the globe were on a roller coaster ride and London experienced the worst riots in decades. At first blush, World Market's move was unusual and timely. Unusual, because consumers don't typically receive "personal mail" from a corporate leader and timely, because the note acknowledges the current economic woes. Unfortunately, these are the only two "positives." Ultimately, the note is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Physics of Culture

Monday, July 25, 2011

Davis Brand Capital friend and collaborator Kevin Slavin spoke at TED Global this month about how algorithms are increasingly shaping our world. Think that doesn't concern you, your business or your life? Think again.

Real-Life in Dialogue: Does Open Innovation Work?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unbound Edition today launches a new type of marketing interview: one focused on the struggles of bringing great ideas to market, not just recounting the successes of a few big winners. Our belief is there might be more to learn -- and share -- when talking about the roadblocks to “obvious” successes than merely celebrating them after the fact. We think even Starbuck’s CEO, Howard Schultz, might agree, having recently pondered why his next big hit, the Sorbetto, fell flat with consumers. Our first subject: an alternative flour that has made its way into big food companies but not yet to store shelves.

Starbucks @ Work

Friday, January 14, 2011

Starbucks earned the “Best Gift to American Workers” award this holiday season. And we’re not talking caffeine or gift cards. While corporate America grinched out, laying off staff, refusing to tackle the ballooning unemployment rate and hoarding cash like Ebenezer Scrooge, Starbucks was there: a 21st century Statue of Liberty, opening its arms to the tired, huddled and suddenly office-less masses and their laptops. Day after day it was hard to find a seat in many Starbucks cafes, co-opted as they were by new, uncertain entrepreneurs trying to get a gig off the ground or scanning the Help Wanted listings.

Books Unbound

Friday, August 27, 2010

There may be more bears in publishing than there are on Wall St. This isn’t new to the current recession; as Ken Auletta recently noted in the New Yorker, “publishing exists in a continual state of forecasting its own demise.” Now add to that traditional gloomy propensity today’s market conditions - a period when most industries are wrestling with digital disintermediation and even wholesale redefinitions of function. You get a complete meltdown.

The Mormon Brand: A Sound Investment

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS - not to be confused with LSD(!) - have been on my my radar screen lately. It has nothing to do with HBO's popular drama Big Love or Mitt Romney's failed presidential campaign. Rather, LDS has embarked on a brand image campaign which, upon a closer look, is much more than a polished, high-gloss initiative aimed at a younger generation of potential disciples. In fact, it is both a timely move for a marketplace in search of answers and a bold competitive move among religious institutions.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You – Nothing Much

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal included a neatly illustrated article by Joe Queenan on the dearth of imagination in Hollywood in 2010. The Worst Movie Year Ever? lamented recent storytelling efforts in Tinstletown, painting a picture of movie theaters around the country where audiences sit “listlessly through a series of lame, mechanical trailers for upcoming films that look exactly like the DOA movies audiences avoided last week.” I’m familiar with the feeling that the popcorn is the only thing to be happy about in theaters this summer. But as I was thinking about it, I started to wonder: is Queenan simply describing the state of entertainment, or is he actually providing a metaphor for the state of business lately?

Perspectives on The Decision: We Needed a New King

Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBron could manage and leverage his announcement as he did not just because of his remarkable talent...not just because of the dynamics and finances of the trade...not just because powerhouse stars can now "go direct" to fans. He could do so because our present cultural moment requires a new king, an elevated god, and triumphant hero.

Perspectives on The Decision: LeBron Owned It

Friday, July 9, 2010

The kid owned it.  At a cultural moment when no one owns anything -- from BP execs to Wall Street banking honchos to members of Congress to sad little Lindsay Lohan -- this twenty-something kid sat down one-on-one, took a deep breath, and owned his decision. He's not responsible for the recession, for Cleveland's identity crisis, for salivating and hyperventilating media.  He didn't hide behind a lawyer or an uber-agent/agency.  He made a controversial decision about his life, and he announced it personally. Criticism comes with the territory, but he didn't hide.

Perspectives on The Decision: A Missed Opportunity

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, July 9, 2010

I’ve never watched more than a few minutes of a professional basketball game, and probably couldn’t name ten guys currently playing in the NBA. But I flipped to ESPN last night to see how the network would handle being downgraded to just one more media channel broadcasting Team LeBron’s message to the world. Would they bring anything Twitter, Facebook, and blogs worldwide could not? Sadly, not really.

Mo-om! Phineas and Ferb are Making A Billion Dollar Franchise!

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, July 2, 2010

I've been a tad critical of the Disney marketing machine here and there, but I predict that the House of Mouse's recent decision to angle for a major franchise featuring a triangle and a rectangle will shape up beautifully for the Disney brand.

Volvo's Thoughtful Brand Management Eclipsed by Latest Twilight Partnership

Friday, June 25, 2010

Even though I've beat up on Volvo before, on a personal level I'm a lifelong fan of their cars. On a professional level, I have profound respect for Volvo's clear, consistent brand management. That's why their new advertising partnership with "Twilight: Eclipse" is so painful to watch.

Iced Capades

Friday, June 18, 2010

"My dad just got iced." I saw this status update on Facebook the other day and knew it probably had nothing to do with hockey or joint pain. A wee bit of research revealed that Icing is a new drinking game wherein someone gives a Smirnoff Ice to someone else, who must get down on one knee and chug it. If the person being "iced" pulls out their own concealed Smirnoff Ice, called "ice blocking," the icer has to drink both bottles. People are icing and getting iced all over the country largely due to the promotional efforts of now defunct website www.brosicingbros.com. Whether the game (and website) was conceived by Smirnoff parent Diageo (they deny having any part in its creation or promotion), or bored frat boys isn't important. Icing reveals the value of understanding complex social relationships, not simply studying (and catering to) demographics.

Don't Let Crowdsourced Editing Butcher Brand Voice

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I know a high school English teacher who refuses to use red pen when editing her students' work. "It's like bloodletting, all that red ink on paper. It weakens writers," she says. So she bisects her students' sentences in blue, convinced the color, not the cutting itself, does the damage. Similarly, employees from cubicle to corner office play a "track-changes" version of pass-the-patient with nothing but the best intentions. More often than not, what starts as a second opinion leads to a few minor stitches for a split infinitive, then escalates to invasive surgery as personal styles and legal hedging trump purpose. At the end of the procedure, the writer's left with a Frankenstein's monster of crowdsourced pieces and parts that no longer effectively communicates or resembles anything remotely human.

Twist Focus: On Basic Materials

Monday, June 14, 2010

Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: back to basics.

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. WB is Hunting Bwand Welevance

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last weekend, I took my two preschoolers to Six Flags. We walked through Bugs Bunny National Park, past Tweety's Twee House and Yosemite Sam's Tugboat Tailspin, my five-year-old nervously eyeing the 6-foot tall anthropomorphized rooster waving menacingly at her. "Mommy, what is that?" "Oh, that's Foghorn Leghorn," I explained. Then her wee brow furrowed. "Who?" The child had no clue. Neither did the heat-stroked fourteen-year-old inside, I bet. It was then I realized Six Flags has become less theme park than museum, teeming with cartoon icons put to pasture when cross-dressing, gun-toting, homicidal role models fell out of favor. Bugs, Elmer and Wile E. have joined Minnie, Donald and Pluto at the edge of obsolescence. Can WB bring them back from the brink?

From America, with Love

Brian Canning
Friday, May 28, 2010

I’m 25-years-old, California-bred, a sports fanatic and a Nike brand advocate. Oh, and as an average American I have not played (or remotely cared about) soccer since I was 8. Nike has decided it is time to play. And it turns out the American company is really, really good at it. Last week the Wieden + Kennedy campaign Write The Future was released racking up 7.8 million first week views, breaking its own viral record.

From Europe, with Passion

Jacco J. de Bruijn
Friday, May 28, 2010

I’m 28-years-old, born and raised just outside Amsterdam, a loyal Nike customer and very passionate about soccer.  Some of my greatest memories in life revolve around a season, game or goal, so when I first saw this new Nike ad for the World Cup Soccer 2010 - described by the brand itself as one of their best ads ever - I got excited.  This was about a global sporting event that makes my blood run faster.

In the Court of the Technophiles, Can a Fool be King?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Last month a brouhaha emerged when US Supreme Court justices had a hard time differentiating between the technologies at the center of an important privacy case. Now, no one would reasonably expect a Chief Justice to know the nuances of Twitter as well as Lindsay Lohan, but Roberts allegedly inquired after the difference between email and pagers. Other justices needed a basic lesson in texting. This might seem amusing, except: how is it possible to responsibly adjudicate the issues of the 21st Century without a working knowledge of the platforms that pervade our social and working lives? Being conversant in these items, my dear sirs and ladies, is absolutely part of your job.

Swiss Tourism's "Rock" a Stone of Contention

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Swiss Tourism has long struggled to promote its country in a modern, meaningful way, oftentimes relying on national cliche. The situation is compounded by an apparent lack of brand strategy or a sound understanding thereof. As a result, in its most recent attempt Swiss Tourism tells the wrong story well. Switzerland isn't the only mismanaged national brand, but as a Swiss citizen and brand strategist, I find this latest fumble particularly painful, if pretty, to watch.

Twist Focus: On Transparency

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: the power of transparency.

Twist Focus: On Fun in the Garden

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: fun in the garden.

MoMA's @: a Symbol of the Post-Digital Museum

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Museum of Modern Art's recent acquisition of the @ symbol challenges, in the museum's own words, "the assumption that physical possession of an object [is] a requirement for an acquisition." The move has provoked varying responses, from mystified to dismissive. While some consider it no more than a clever marketing ploy, the move is not only bold and necessary, but indicative of something much more momentous: MoMA's redefinition of "modern" and evolution of the role of today's museum.

The Rise of Moral Brands

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One need not stretch too far, nor have particularly partisan views, to accept arguments that ours is a culture marked by institutional collapse. Confidence on Wall Street and in capitalism itself slipped with the tarnishing of names AIG, Lehman and Merrill Lynch (among others) during the Great Recession. Trust in the U.S. government eroded along party lines, calling into question the integrity of the democratic process, on the path to health care reform. Faith in the Catholic Church continued to fold just last week under the weight of yet another round of scandal fueled by priests preying on the most vulnerable. On somewhat lighter fronts: there is no longer a "most trusted man in news" when every adman is a newsman, and so many newsmen an advertisement (or plagiarist). Science is more politicized than ever, the clarity of its objective truths clouded by a climate of competing interests. If our cultural institutions are not as strong as they once were, where is one to place belief?

Twist Focus: On Story

Monday, March 29, 2010

Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: the power of universal stories.

With a Rebel Yell, He Cried No, More, More Breakfast Pizza

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, March 26, 2010

The British have waged war on American soil, only this time we can pass on the tri-cornered hats and tight breeches. Which, considering the increasing girth of Americans, is a sartorial blessing. After a sneak preview last weekend, tonight marks the official broadcast premiere of ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution." Though you'd never know it from the network's fat-headed decision to air it during the Friday ratings dead zone, it could very well be the most important television program in years.

Brands Go Gaga for "Telephone"

Rachel Newman and Kevin Ament
Thursday, March 25, 2010

In a time when brands must move comfortably across contexts to extend their relevance and engage consumers, Lady Gaga's mind is prime real estate. Her latest brainchild, a 10-minute long mini-film for "Telephone," is a product placement hotbed. Miracle Whip, Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke, HP, Polaroid, Wonder Bread, and the dating Web site Plenty Of Fish all co-star, shaped by the artist into a surreal mashup that confirms the importance of brand to our cultural dialogue.

Puppets Upstage Zappos Zany Culture

Brian Canning
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If you have a powerful singing voice you should sing. If you have a mediocre singing voice, you should sing and dance. In the business world, Zappos.com has serious pipes. The unorthodox retailer quickly climbed the customer service charts and stands alongside Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton and USAA, companies long known for exemplary service. But despite legitimate talent and personality, Zappos choked recently when making the jump to advertising. Their first ad from Mullen, featuring puppets reenacting unusual customer calls, dials up the showmanship and distracts from their unique voice. As a result, Zappos misses some big notes and never quite connects with the audience.

Twist Focus: On Her Smile

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: the power of a smile while shopping.

Fashion Forward: Brands Moving from Supermodel to Everywoman

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Haute couture brands recently have been in the headlines for promoting an unhealthy body image, mourning the loss of one of fashion's brightest stars and, in general, dealing with a full-blown identity crisis. Meanwhile, an increasing number of mainstream brands have turned their attention explicitly to the end consumer: she now plays a central role in how we view and buy fashion. This reinvention and democratization of fashion has its origin in the mainstream, unlike most trends, which work their way in from the fringe. Moreover, it's a global phenomenon with brands from Japan to Germany embracing the everyday woman's new role.

Dove’s Men + Care Spot is No Beauty

Rachel Newman and Kristin Ament
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We recently voiced optimism that the Super Bowl launch of Dove's Men+Care line would challenge the alpha male ad genre, just as its revolutionary Real Beauty spot from Super Bowl XL confronted unhealthy female beauty standards. On Sunday, our optimism swirled its sad little way down the drain.

Super Bowl Ads: Tell Me Who Are You?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Legendary television producer Norman Lear often said it was best to start the story "in the middle." That's where the truth of the narrative is, and the theory held for Super Bowl XLIV. Smack in the middle of a confused and confusing collection of ads was The Who, an embarrassing half-time show of old white men singing of "pinball wizards" in the age of connected gaming, and claiming some distant insight into the "teenage wasteland" of a generation to which they do not belong. Yet, they were entirely relevant context for the general fiasco of this year's ads, asking: "Tell me who are you?" With some notable exceptions, advertisers seemed to have no idea who they were this year, nor who their customers might be.

Goosed by Data Gandering

Friday, January 22, 2010

In what seemed like a tribute to the cute little kid from Jerry Maguire who kept repeating "the human head weighs 8 lbs," Fast Company recently published a Mr. Egghead infographic that illustrated an astounding fact from the brainiacs at UC San Diego: the average American, on the average day, consumes 34 gigabytes of information. And from 1980-2008, bytes consumed increased 350%. That eight pounds can sure pack a punch. For the purposes of explaining the infographic, writer Maccabee Montandon uses information, content and data interchangeably to argue that Americans are ravenous for "data." But hold up -- do we want to gorge on data? I'm not sure I buy his conclusion about our appetite.

New Axe Ad Campaign Reaches, Cleans a New Low

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First, Hardee's showed you its B-Hole. Then, Bud Light Lime gave it to you In the Can. Now Axe, with all the class and finesse we've come to expect from the brand, wants to Clean Your Balls. On the surface, this seems like nothing more than your typical nether regions marketing. But look under the hood, and Axe's down under approach has more in common with early marital aid advertising than beer and fast food.

Don't Let the Dumbledore Hit You in the Azkaban on Your Way Out, Mickey

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This spring, Universal Orlando will open the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which it promises will be "unlike any other experience on earth." If the park succeeds with what it's got tucked up the sleeve of its flowing robe, there's going to be a new owner of magical theme park experience (that sound you just heard was a 81-year-old mouse shaking in his over-sized yellow shoes).

UE's Most Read Posts of 2009

Unbound Edition's Editorial Team
Thursday, December 31, 2009

As the year ends, we look back at the most read and shared posts from Unbound Edition's contributors, and a few more favorites chosen by our editorial team. We appreciate your continued readership and commentary and look forward to more dialog in 2010.

Miracle Whip Finds Its Brand Voice

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back in June, Miracle Whip broadcasted its condiment manifesto to Gen Y. Punctuated with the official quivery chalkboard script of all advertising-spawned youth movements and set to a swaying, poly-ethnic crowd kickin’ it kiddie-pool style, a bored (yet defiant!) voice-over proclaims: “We are our own unique, one-of-a-kind flavor. We are Miracle Whip. And we will not tone it down.” Hmmm. A hipster decree from a 76-year-old sandwich spread most famous for its supporting role in my great aunt’s deviled eggs? The campaign was hard to swallow.

GAP Announces End of Recession

Monday, November 16, 2009

After years of disappointing design, quality and performance, GAP seems tapped into the American cultural pulse once again. The company's holiday advertising campaign announces that the country is "Ready for Holiday Cheer." Like many retailers, GAP is spending more and launching earlier this year, including a major Vanity Fair insert and back cover. Whether these efforts end up translating to sales, of course, remains to be seen. Still, the campaign does more than any other to date to declare a shift in attitude. Consumers will decide for themselves to celebrate in ways "modest" or "all out," but either way, GAP gives permission "to liberate" from the dark clouds of the past 18 months. A holiday declaration of independence -- "This holiday, it's up to us" -- makes the empowerment message abundantly clear: Yes, Virginia, there is an American spirit of hope, even joy, that will not be silenced. The recession is over.

Fun with Google: Autocomplete Revelations

Friday, November 13, 2009

Google's autocomplete search recommendations have spawned a new Internet meme. And before you keep reading, let me warn you: this post could rob you of your productivity today.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode 13

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Unbound Edition players, wisely sporting plastic-lined undergarments, take the stage to present the season finale, "Shut the Door. Have a Seat."

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode 12

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, November 5, 2009

Help yourself to the prime rib and the fillet of sole and move to the front of the theatre as the Unbound Edition Players present "The Grown Ups."

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode 11

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Grab yourself a steaming bowl of Rice-a-Pony and sit back while the Unbound Edition Players present "The Gypsy and the Hobo."

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Three, Episode 10

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, October 22, 2009

After 40 years of lying, cheating and stealing together, the Unbound Edition Players and their barely functioning livers reunite to present “The Color Blue.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode Nine

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fresh from a vacation on the lunar Hilton, the Unbound Edition Players now present "Wee Small Hours." (curtain up)

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Three, Episode Eight

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bitter and jetlagged, the Unbound Edition Players present "The Souvenir."

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Three, Episode Seven

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Still wearing yesterday's clothes and reeking of alcohol, the Unbound Edition Players do the walk of shame to the stage to present this week's performance of "Seven Twenty Three." And no, they don't want to talk about it.

Is TV Ready to Socialize?

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hulu is hard at work transforming tv-watching into a social experience. They're encouraging viewers to watch the premiers of their favorite programs on Facebook with friends and strangers alike, sharing comments with one another (and with eavesdropping marketers) through streaming status updates. Judging whether television watching can be a social activity based on these efforts alone is to consider only a fraction of the social relationships possible around content sharing. The key players aren't thinking big enough yet. Fully realizing social TV's potential means rethinking all aspects of television watching, distribution and revenue models, and how each can become more social.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode Six

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Unbound Edition Players now present "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency." Heads up, front row. In the second act, you'll want to grab that plastic sheeting you saved from the 1984 Gallagher show.

Levi’s: Too Tailored to Fit

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Levi's brand saddens me so. It could be so much cooler. It could, really, be the PBR of denim. Industrial, durable, worn-in and well-worn. American. Iconic. An underdog. But no. Instead of quietly offering itself up as what it is: a historied, high-quality, understated, no-frills alternative to the flash and arrogance of designer denim, it is clamoring schizophrenically to be everything to everyone. Oh, Levi's. What are you doing? Wait a minute. I know. It's called "trying too hard."

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode Five

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

With dramatic, pre-epidural era panting and groaning, the Unbound Edition Players now put their feet in the stirrups and push out this week's episode, "The Fog."

Members Only?

Manon Herzog and Kristen Jamski
Friday, September 11, 2009

No, we aren't referring to the 80s clothing line, rather we are referencing the mixed messages professional tennis is sending to the public. Both authors are tennis fanatics. However, despite our love of the game, as brand strategists we are baffled by the sport's inability to evolve, notwithstanding its stated intention to do so.

Bud Light Lime “In the Can”: AdAge Gets it Bass Ackwards

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The most successful beer marketers in the world have crossed a line. According to AdAge, a pun is “the final frontier” in “tasteless” beer advertising. In a spot for Bud Light Lime leaked on the Internet, everyday folks innocently confess to getting it “in the can” (some of them like it and want to do so again!). The punch line of the spot reveals that the popular brew is now available in all-too-familiar handy aluminum containers.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Three, Episode Four

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

As part of their court-mandated "Revive a Tall Blonde Singer and His Wee Mustachioed Sidekick" charity work, The Unbound Edition Players now present "the Arrangements."

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Three, Episode Three

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

After a brief delay to buy nacho cheese Doritos and Visine, the Unbound Edition Players casually amble across the stage to take their places for this week’s presentation of “My Old Kentucky Home.” Who’s up for a Taco Bell run at intermission?

Venice: Financial Drought Causes Ad Flood

Friday, August 28, 2009

Usually, the city of Venice is partially flooded by water a number of times every year, courtesy of its slowly sinking foundation. However, these days the city called "La Serenissima," or most serene, is facing a different kind of flood -- one it is much less prepared to stem.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Three, Episode Two

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Unbound Edition Players now take the stage for "Love Among the Ruins," alternately titled, "The One Where Betty's Father Takes Up Way Too Much Screen Time."

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Three, Episode One

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

After nearly ten months of making ends meet by twirling signs outside of Jiffy Lube, the Unbound Edition Players dust themselves off, oil their squeaky joints, and take the stage for “Out of Town.”

Parenting Across the Digital Divide

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, August 17, 2009

Dim Bulb’s Jonathan Salem Baskin wrote recently that rather than battling for the right to more broadly advertise mature and adults only-rated video games, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) would be better served investing in developers willing to challenge the gaming status quo. I share his hope that the industry will evolve beyond its current incarnation, and I too have written that the user-controlled sadism found in popular first-person games requires a different rating consideration than comparable subject matter in movies and music. Participants in this debate, for censorship and against, find common ground in calling for parents to better educate themselves about their children’s entertainment choices and take greater responsibility for their purchases. A few changes, however, are complicating matters.

Goldman and The Brand Morality Play

Monday, August 10, 2009

Some say Goldman Sachs has a brand problem. And the media pile-on includes the FT, New York Magazine, the New York Times and Rolling Stone with its oft repeated and colorful judgment of the company as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” But I say, Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, light up a cigar and stick to your arrogant guns. I don’t think you have a brand problem. I think you have a brand which is working very, very well. To the chagrin of many others.

CNN: Stuck in the Middle with You

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CNN and sister network HLN face a difficult brand challenge. As Teri Schindler noted in her recent post on the branding of broadcast networks, CNN is caught between a rock and a hard place with MSNBC’s liberal bent and Fox News’ right-wing “reality."

Out of Service

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Last week, while Amazon was rewarding Zappos for their exceptional customer-centric culture, Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis raged against the Cablevision machine. He lamented long wait times for repairs, unrealistic service windows and aggressive, uncaring service representatives. I add to his account my own recent experiences with some of the largest U.S. corporations, not in an attempt to trump Jeff, but to showcase how pervasive the problem with customer service has become. While some bright spots certainly exist (Zappos and Twitter’s ComcastCares to name two), the consistently negative experiences reported by consumers (anecdotally through social media and quantitatively through survey results) suggest that in today’s service economy, even our largest companies are failing the consumer, and ultimately, America.

Augmented Reality and the New Digital Divide

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When I shot the picture of this little guy lounging in his highchair watching cartoons, I thought it was adorable. And admittedly, I still do. But simultaneously it terrifies me, because it foreshadows a new type of digital divide that will be created by mobile devices and the introduction of augmented reality.

Brand Katie Holmes Gets Ready for the Judgment Day

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, July 24, 2009

Last night, So You Think You Can Dance celebrated its 100th episode. In addition to featuring encore performances by the greatest dancing talents to grace its stage over the course of seven seasons, it finally treated audiences to the uber-hyped performance of “brilliant” song-and-dance genius...um...Katie Holmes?

In Celebration of Type

Kimia M. Ansari
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recently TYPECON came to Atlanta on a week-long celebration of type and design. I attended Typeface, a documentary on one of the oldest wood print shops in the United States. The film is a fascinating and disturbing look at the disappearing trade of typography and printmaking in the digital era, and the importance of the perseverance and preservation of art.

Hardee's is Holier Than Thou

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hardee's “Name Our Holes” campaign sure has lathered up the Internet. AdAge calls Hardee's out for "upping the ante in the fast-food smutfest," and Reuters dismisses the campaign as “obnoxious.” Which it is. But it is also hilarious. It's easy to see why some claim advertising has reached an all-time low, but isn't something else going on here?

Do You Speak Innovation?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dog tired the other night after what seemed like endless work-related communication clarifications, I signed off with this tweet: “Done translating for the day…surfing all these lexicons is exhausting. Desperate for the Esperanto of changing times.” Within seconds I got a message: Esperanto is now following you. I had to laugh. So here’s the translation Esperanto: I am NOT interested in Esperanto (we’ll talk about the lack of context on Twitter later). What I AM interested in is the common language of change and innovation.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Shifting Food Trends Suggest Broader Emerging Agenda

Manon Herzog and Kevin Ament
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Last year’s economic meltdown has shone a disproportionate light on the financial and automotive companies. The brands and institutions within these two industries have been scrambling to respond with clear, overarching agendas — green, consumer-centric vehicles in automotive, greater transparency (and regulation) in the financial sectors. While less in the spotlight in recent months, the food industry has been equally frenetic, but has not clearly articulated a larger agenda. Do the many microtrends, from local and organic to simple and safe, add up to something more substantial?

What Will Marketing Look Like After the Recovery?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The inevitable economic recovery is arguably just around the corner. Yes, it’s always too far ahead. But at least there is light at the end of the tunnel. Obama says it’s a “long way off,” likely to cover his own posterior. However, the IMF and the Fed are cautiously optimistic. And, with few exceptions, the Dow has been relatively flat in recent weeks. I don’t want to jinx it, but it feels like we’re at the bottom of a very steep hill to climb rather than falling off of a cliff. The recovery -- albeit likely a slow one -- is coming. It’s just a matter of when. And the world, including marketing, may never be the same.

Five Faces of Michael

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Regardless of how you felt about Michael Jackson when he was alive, it is difficult to deny the extensive and irreplaceable contributions he made to music. It is also difficult to deny his truly amazing ability to reinvent himself as an artist in spite of --and in the face of-- personal tragedy and public scandal. As frail as he seemed, especially toward the end, Michael never stopped working on his image and music. A life lived in the public eye taught Michael from a young age to never stop moving. Sometimes forward, sometimes backward, and often times in circles. The Michael Jackson brand was truly malleable. For four decades he captivated us, for better or worse. Even in death he continues to do so.

Post-Agency I: In Defense of Katharine Weymouth’s WaPo Strategy

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The very notion of “agency” is becoming a footnote in today’s technologically reshaped marketplace and media. And it is within this environment that the bold, if not always adored, Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post, has decided to act as others sit idly. Ms. Weymouth and others at WaPo decided to host sponsored “salons,” bringing together reporters, lobbyists and corporations for quiet conversation and, one assumes, a deeper understanding of each other’s interests. Call it influence if you must. It is, after all, only new to discuss this type of paid access, not to grant it. Denying such is as charming and annoying as newsprint itself.

Happy Birthday

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Following the fireworks and barbecue of U.S. Independence Day, the Swiss prepare to celebrate their 718th birthday on August 1. In the spirit of global, cross-cultural understanding, here are some of the indispensable props, or in brand speak, the system of meaning without which August 1 just wouldn’t be the same.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned from the Ads of Ed, Farrah, Michael and Billy

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the span of a week, we lost Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Billy Mays. Each had unique talents, became a pop culture icon, and enjoyed career longevity far beyond the norm of the media and entertainment industries. Interestingly enough, they’re connected through the legacy of some very memorable advertisements. With nothing but respect, I pay tribute to the fallen four in the form of top ten life lessons to be gleaned from their commercials:

An Unspoken Language

Kimia M. Ansari
Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recently I re-connected with a friend on Facebook and got distracted by her photo albums. As I looked through the images I discovered something thought-provoking. Dorka Kheen collaborated with well-known artist Brian Goggin to create an art installation in San Francisco's historic literary district of North Beach. It is the first permanent solar-powered public art piece in the United States, and it’s an interesting take on the role and form of literature and language in our digital culture.

Smoking 2.0

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the wake of recent legislation allowing the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry, a variety of smokeless tobacco products are hitting the market. A few e-varieties promise a comparable experience without the stink and stigma of the earlier models. But will smokers find any of these alternatives up to snuff?

Sun or Satellite: Brand Orbits

Monday, June 15, 2009

It’s not easy to buck entrenched conventional wisdom. Ask Galileo. When he advanced heliocentrism publicly, all hell broke loose. None of which had anything to do with the fact that the central notion was true. The earth really did revolve around the sun.

Out of Africa: Brand Mash-Up by Hand

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A recent trip to the recycling market in Bamako, the capital of Mali, was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a long time...visually, olfactorily, but most of all acoustically, as the market announces itself long before one actually sees it. The cacophony of sounds comes courtesy of hundreds of blacksmiths hammering, scraping, melting and polishing every bit of material they retrieve from carefully dismantled car bodies and other branded materials.

Deconstructing Design

Kimia M. Ansari
Monday, June 8, 2009

I recently attended a lecture by Edward Tufte, a driving force behind the information design movement. He has written, designed and self-published several award-winning books that dive deep into the realm of data and statistical visualization -- the topic of his presentation. He is also an established artist and shared some of his landscape sculptures before getting started. Simple yet engaging, I found this chapter of his work the most interesting, as it was here that we could see his design approach, ideologies and aesthetics in practice. Here are three of my favorites, and what they convey about space, scale and perspective.

"Yesterday" is so Today in The Beatles: Rock Band

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Anyone who’s seen me flail at Guitar Hero understands - even encourages - my reticence to play Rock Band. In spite of my enthusiasm, intense concentration and true desire to rock out, I once performed so poorly that a kind friend suggested to the room that “perhaps the signal isn’t getting through.” That, combined with the overt disappointment and head-shaking from the animated characters on-screen put me off the game. I must say, however, that for the opportunity to play some Beatles Rock Band, I would again risk such embarrassment.

Shaken, Not Stirred By Bondsicle

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yesterday, I came across the most outrageously ludicrous fake marketing story about Del Monte and a James Bond tie-in from the geniuses at the Onion. Hoot! Holler! Sides splitting open! Then I realized it was REAL. I swear, I haven’t been so crippled by fear since Denise Richards was cast as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in “The World is Not Enough.”

Cueing Up a Brand Soundtrack

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Music has played an integral role in branding since commercial radio welcomed product advertisements in the early 1920s. During the past two decades, popular music has evoked consumer emotions around brands and, more recently, has been used to reach specific market segments. When executed smartly, music can truly change the way consumers view brands and products. However, when used willy-nilly, music can expose a brand’s confused and clumsy search for self.

Change is Gonna Come

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The American Idol finale will easily win the ratings war this week. Despite another year of declining viewership (and the disappointing coherence of Paula Abdul), it remains the number one show on television. This year’s final battle between aw-shucks Christian boy-next-door Kris Allen and aw-hell that boy ain’t right queen-of-scream Adam Lambert may have looked like red versus blue state politics personified. But truth is, the secret of Idol's success is the same popular narrative playing out over and over across American culture today.

 With the economy in the proverbial terlet and our own future uncertain, we take comfort in cheering on the average Joes and the biggest losers as they claw their way toward transformation.

With Liberty, Justice and Innovation for All

Monday, May 18, 2009

Last week I spent a day walking around Washington. The weather was glorious and it was bustling. In the Newseum, an older woman examined photos with her friend from Scotland. At the White House, a family from Idaho asked me to take their picture. Near the water, the tables at Sequoia’s were full of international tourists. On the Mall, packs of school kids tried to buy lemon ice before they hit the lines at the National Air and Space Museum. As I carefully navigated the crowded steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I started thinking. The District of Columbia provides a beautifully rendered narrative of our nation’s history. But, for all those gathered here, what story does it tell of our future?

My Kingdom for a Horse?

J. Kevin Ament
Sunday, May 10, 2009

I took my first few Facebook quizzes today, one courtesy of the Food Network. Up popped this disclosure: “Allowing Which Food Network Personality Are You? access will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work.” I won’t give the nice lady at Kohl’s my zip code at the checkout, but there I was sharing the keys to my digital kingdom with Food Network’s marketing department. In return, I got six disjointed questions and the laughable conclusion that Alton Brown is my culinary doppleganger. My compliments to the chef, but if I’m forking this much over, I expect some larger portions.

The Sham Wow Factor

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It all started with Freedom Rock. Since I saw those hippies extol the virtues of the good ‘ol days of war, protest and going to jail, I have been a huge fan of infomercials. Their sheer showmanship and exaggeration suck me in like so many Smart Mops and make me laugh with joy like so many women using Wrap, Snap & Go! hair rollers. An original type of long-form advertisement, the infomercial tells stories of wonder and amazement as intriguing and impossible to resist as ye olde carnival barker beckoning “Step right up! You won’t believe your eyes!” Sure, carny. Here’s my ha’penny. Show me what you’ve got.

One Sick Culture

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, May 4, 2009

Someone call a doctor. Swine flu (hysteria) is spreading. Newspapers are dying. Automobile companies are on life support. Mutants draw box office millions, as marketers engineer the next viral video. The U.S. economy sneezed, and the world collapsed. Politicians scrambled to resuscitate. And our climate is clearly running a temperature. Disease is America's metaphor du jour, and brand managers best check their vitals.

Senseless Place

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The tourism industry certainly is not immune to the challenges of the current economic environment. Yet a recent review of a study commissioned by The Ontario Government Ministry of Tourism shows that the industry is as much of a challenge to itself. Just as they did more than a decade ago (when I attended the Ecole Suisse de Tourisme), most destinations still focus on competing on the functional benefit of “quality.” Certainly, iconic buildings, a vibrant night scene or natural beauty are assets that indicate quality and add to the “must visit” factor of a destination. But those just add up to the price of entry for the tourism industry.

School Daze: Time for Education 2.0

Emily MacDonald, Manon Herzog and Teri Schindler
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Social Media is now truly social – permeating every aspect of everyday life across generations. It has spawned businesses that have become household names, from eBay to Amazon, and individual behaviors that are quite literally changing society. Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism demonstrates the explosive growth of social media and the new skills – listening, learning and sharing – it requires. Not only innovators and thought leaders – but also such institutional stalwarts as PBS and the Library of Congress have embraced the moment and evolved. Which begs the question: Where is the education community?

Reznor's Edge

Friday, April 10, 2009

Trent Reznor is known in the music industry for being a risk-taker, musically and technologically. Though a critically acclaimed artist, Reznor has led an enigmatic existence, and his dark, electronic musical style conjures images of drilling down into and exploring outlying areas of a mysterious abyss. It's a natural fit, then, for him to feel at ease connecting with his fans in the virtual world.

The Good Business of Good Citizenship

Thursday, April 9, 2009

For most Americans, the conspicuous consumption of the late 20th century was not just a show of status or an assumed birthright in the land of plenty, it was an act of justified (if not inspired) patriotism. Prospering and buying things proved the American system worked. In our greatest moment of national crisis, George W. Bush called us to arms post-9/11, with the rallying cry of “go shopping” to support our economy and stabilize our nation. Consumption was the way to fight back; it was our role as citizens. Economic policies followed that fueled this citizen-consumer march into battle. But something else happened along the way, too. We didn’t just shop. We reconnected. We found new ways of expressing citizenship, and they can serve us well now as marketers, if we follow a few, new citizen-based rules.

Listen Closely

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fully aware it’s ironic to blog about listening - here I am, “talking” about “listening.” Still, it seems a worthy topic right now - the value of the oft-neglected art of closing your mouth and opening your ears.

Hot Beef Rejection

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So in the 70’s, marketers embraced the fact that sex can sell anything from shampoo to car batteries. And over the past several decades, we’ve been treated to an endless array of genetically altered babes and double entendres, so much so that we became numb to the obvious methods of product whoring. Those were good times, in retrospect, considering the skin-crawling fetishism of two current sandwich peddlers who have spoiled my appetite.

Brand Bizarro World

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, March 30, 2009

What’s the better recession strategy: being the pricier brand everyone wants, or being the more affordable second choice? Microsoft is betting the farm on the latter with its latest attempt to counter Apple’s I’m a Mac campaign.

The Siren Call of “Data Porn 2.0”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The evolution of data visualization software is merging data and art, and allowing us to convey and digest complicated information in exciting new ways. But used irresponsibly, these technologies have the potential to usher in a new wave of “data porn,” where the dazzle trumps the data.

Social Media: A Marketplace of Sour Milk and Champagne

Friday, March 27, 2009

It would be a mistake to believe that social media is about technology. The underlying technology -- which will assuredly change -- is like the electricity running a factory: it enables certain functions, but is not the purpose of the place. Content drives social media. Why? Because content forms communities... and communities form markets.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Karen O, lead singer for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is like a modern Siouxsie Sioux in this video for the band’s single, “Zero,” off of the new album It’s Blitz!

Brand Management for the Nonprofit Sector

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art recently dropped “rogue” adman, Douglas Jaeger and his agency Happy Corp. While the incident is worth a write up in itself (I will revisit it towards the end of this post) a broader discussion about nonprofits and their mostly uncomfortable relationship with all things related to brand needs to come first.

Voice Beyond Petulance

Monday, March 23, 2009

Peggy Noonan recently wrote an opinion piece in the WSJ detailing what she interpreted as the depression we are feeling as we sense “something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures, old ways and assumptions.” I agree with her overarching sentiment – and know a lot of people who are anxious and depressed in the current environment, and for good reason. But holding a glass to the cultural wall and listening closely - pardon me Peggy, but the loudest voice I hear is petulance.

Thou Shalt Not Steal My Cola

J. Kevin Ament
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has a cool job. He studies why people cheat, then devises variables to increase or decrease how likely they are to do so. In this TED talk, Ariely discusses his findings and suggests many of our current Wall Street woes further validate them. Turns out we may not be so different than the hedge fund managers and derivatives traders at whom we’re currently pointing our collective (middle) finger. And maybe the Ten Commandments have a place in our schools after all...

Pulling the Plug on Jerry Mathers

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Somebody call Eve Ensler, because it looks like the Vagina Monologues are becoming the Vagina Dialogues.

If This is “Wrong,” I’m Not Sure I Want to Be Right

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It’s always weird when a once genre-defining band comes back after a hiatus. The risk of the new material potentially marring one’s view of their original material is pretty high, let alone the pain of seeing once-held pop idols embarrass themselves on the global stage (I’m looking at you, Boy George. Oh, and you too, Madonna. Oh, and you too Pet Shop Boys). Enter Depeche Mode.

Microsoft’s Viral Disconnect: Pretending to Build the Brand

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There’s plenty of chatter about Microsoft’s new viral video. Great. You got some people to watch it, and with this post, even more. At a technical level, the spot is working (pun intended). At a brand level, I am at a loss.

Dora Ditches Sensible Shoes; Third Horseman of the Apocalypse Gallops By

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We already know Dora the Explorer can crank dat, but who knew that a brand extension would crank out such controversy?

A Talking Head by Any Other Name

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pity poor CNBC. Oh, the horror. To be taken on by a comedian - a comedian! - and lose. To have the comedian come off as more serious, more substantive, more tuned in to the zeitgeist, more honest. To have a funnyman call you out for not doing your job. And then to have that showdown not just air and be forgotten, but pick up speed virally and, for gosh sakes, make the front page of the Financial Times, among others, despite all the media weight you use (Stewart’s term: “all those peacocks”) to try to downplay it.

Unbound Edition, Rebound

J. Kevin Ament
Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome to the new Unbound Edition. For the past two years, our readers have made Unbound Edition one of the Web’s most read marketing news aggregators and blogs. Along the way, we have laughed with you, listened to you and learned from you. Thank you. Now, we are making some changes to serve you better and to take advantage of new technologies.

Brendan Canning

Friday, March 13, 2009

Broken Social Scene’s hugely talented founding member, Brendan Canning, busted out on his own in 2008 with his album Something for All of Us. The Brothers Gibbsian track “Love is New” features Canning using his walk, with very little time to talk.

Animal Collective

Friday, March 6, 2009

Animal Collective is a revolving group of musicians originally from Baltimore. Their avant-garde style leaves listeners divided – fans can’t say enough about their creative genius while others walk away perplexed as to what all the fuss is about. The band’s latest album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, has been lauded by critics as a body of work that maintains the band’s experimental approach while being far more accessible than previous albums.

Tweet Sorrow: Love, Hate and Twitter

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I’m having another Twitter moment.

J. Tillman

Friday, February 27, 2009

  Seattle-based J. Tillman is both a solo artist and a member of the much-lauded Fleet Foxes. “First Born,” a fine track from Tillman’s latest album, Vacilando Territory Blues, is sparse but beautiful. This video reflects that sparse beauty as it focuses upward on the natural rhythm of an avian slow-dance.

Searching for MAILER's-DAEMON

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shortly before his death, Norman Mailer said “every one of my books has killed me a little more.” Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, explores the psychological pressure that comes with creative pursuits, and the intense fear that each short dance with brilliance may be one’s last.

My Better Half

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, February 23, 2009

Neuroanatamist Jill Bolte Taylor understood the brain like few others. Then she had a stroke. In this video, she describes the revelation that came from the fracture: the recalibration that stemmed from seeing herself wholly through the perspective of each separate hemisphere.

Maybe She’s Born with It. Maybe It’s Fiber!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I saw Benefiber’s current commercial for the first time last night, and it caught me off-guard.

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mississippi-based Dent May is an unlikely stud.  An American counterpart to Sweden’s Jens Lekman, May recently released his first album, The Feel Good Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele. “Meet Me In The Garden” is the first single.

On-the-Shelf Brand Touchpoints

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Product and packaging design can be one of the most impactful brand touchpoints. Here are a few recent executions I admire.

Watch Your Language!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I know, sounds like a parent admonishing a child.  Well, in my case the “child” was a fashion magazine.

Mum’s the D-Word for Dunkin’

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cher. Madonna. Prince. Charo. The club of one-name celebs has a new member. Just call him Dunkin.

Where's the Love?

Kimia M. Ansari
Friday, February 13, 2009

Cupid, hearts, cards and jewelry. Valentine’s Day imagery is all around us, and it rarely begs a second look. But a few iconoclasts are marketing their subtle, cynical spin on this Hallmark holiday. A small collection of my favorites...

What Love Really Looks Like

Senior Editor
Friday, February 13, 2009

  A bright spot in Bright Eyes’ otherwise maudlin repertoire, “The First Day of My Life” reminds us that love isn't as complicated as we make it this time each year.

Think Before You Send That E-Card

R. Eric Raymond
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If you’re thinking about sending an e-card for Valentine’s Day this year, think again.  But aren’t they convenient and popular? Yes. For the sender. And that’s the problem.

UR D8ing Urself, AT&T

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the communications experts at AT&T have released a texting primer to answer our most perplexing SMS questions: Should we respond to texts immediately, or hours later? “Textpert” Nicole Beland has the answer. Is breaking up by text appropriate? AT&T knows. Armed with this “D8ing Textiquette” and stunning figures from AT&T’s Valentine’s Day Texting Survey (33% of  texters surveyed plan to send at least one Valentine’s text!), aspiring texters everywhere can now confidently use this “new language of love.” Additional information and more fantextic puns available in their texting media kit.

Roses are Red, Tulips are Bastards...

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, February 9, 2009

It’s hard to overstate how off-target TeleFlora’s Valentine’s Day spot is, both in concept and context.

The Boss At His Best

Friday, February 6, 2009

If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing Bruce Springsteen perform live, you know that it’s unlike any other live show. It’s not just a concert, it’s chemistry. Jon Stewart once said, “Do you like joy? If you do, you should go and see Bruce Springsteen.” Unfortunately, this did not translate to home viewers of the Super Bowl halftime show.

You've Been a Dirty, Dirty Gourd...

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, February 5, 2009

This week we’ve discussed a few Super Bowl standouts, good and bad. But what of the ads that didn’t make the cut? PETA doesn’t shy away from extreme antics, from flinging paint to flashing skin. This year’s Super Bowl submission was no different. Borrowing a page from Victoria’s Secret, a few of PETA’s leggy veggies turned up the heat and brought some serious steak-free sizzle.    

The Springsteen Halftime Show: Not So Boss

Rachel L. Newman
Thursday, February 5, 2009

I love me some Bruce Springsteen. With the E Street Band or without, it’s all good. I’ve seen him perform live eight times and look forward to seeing him again in April. If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing Bruce and E Street perform, you know what I mean when I say that it is unlike any other live show. It’s not just a concert. It’s chemistry. It’s three hours of energy and synergy. It changes you. That said, I have thought about his Super Bowl halftime show probably more than the average Jane, and definitely more than necessary.

Talk to Me Baby

Monday, February 2, 2009

I spent last night in front of my laptop on Twitterbowl and in front of NBC.  As NBC rolled out a fairly conventional game presentation (tell me again why are there fireworks digitally exploding behind the announcers?) tweets were coming in fast and furious from all over the world.

Superbowl XLIII: We’ve Been Too Long American Dreaming

R. Eric Raymond
Monday, February 2, 2009

When we’re really lost in America—when we’re completely baffled and no one has any answers—we revert to cars and rock n’ roll.   That’s the read one might get from this year’s superfluous battle between the Steelers and the Cardinals.  But what started as an escapist yearning for the Fast and the Furious, Mr. Potato Head hugging mountain curves on Bridgestone tires, and Bruce Springsteen rehashing “Born to Run” and “Glory Days” gave way to what might be interpreted as a subconscious unrest over America’s second Great Depression.

Can't Truss It

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, January 30, 2009

Last Friday's video, Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt," demonstrated how a powerful voice can transform the meaning of a song. Cash told the story in a way Trent Reznor could not. This week, we look at Duran Duran’s cover of Public Enemy’s “911 Is A Joke.” Duran Duran tells the story in a way Flavor Flav could not: like pathetic posers.

Life Wasn't Easy for a Boy Named Sue

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, January 23, 2009

“Hurt” was first released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album, The Downward Spiral . In 2002, legendary singer/songwriter Johnny Cash partnered with producer Rick Rubin to cover Reznor’s bleak account of addiction and isolation for American IV: The Man Comes Around. The Man in Black’s gritty sound and decades of struggle and pain transformed the song into a dark, desperate retrospective. Cash died soon after.

Back to Basics

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, January 22, 2009

UE’s Video of the Day recently featured the latest spot in Geico’s Kash campaign. Allstate also recently launched a new spot clearly aimed at retention and equally noteworthy with regards to voice. While Geico whispers from the deep discount bin,  Allstate resonates with gravitas. The two spots stand at opposite poles of a broad spectrum of insurance company voices, each struggling to speak to their customers in the context of our current economic realities.

We Who Are About to Save Salute You

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

While banks across the U.S. were pleading for bailouts, ING Direct posted a 10-point Declaration of Financial Independence to a simple microsite and invited people to sign it. 20,000 people have. And as the surviving financial services companies struggle to find the right tone and message to comfort and reassure consumers in the new year, one clear voice speaks plainly and directly about personal responsibility and the basics of saving. Consistently delivered online and through frank messages by CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, the ING voice is genuine, distinguishable in the market place and perfectly aligned with the company’s brand position and identity.

Yes, T-Mobile, I DO Love You Now That You Can Dance

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I’d like to thank T-Mobile for tapping into one of my lifelong fantasies. Mind you, I’ve never met a befringed surrey I didn’t love. I grew up knowing jolly sailors really should bust out in into choreographed numbers more often  and was really ticked that I didn’t have six sisters, a barn, and a bunch of lumber laying around so we could all do this on a lazy Sunday. Yes indeedy, we all just need to break out into song and/or dance numbers in public more often.

How One Atkins Vet Learned to Love the C-Word

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, January 16, 2009

I never really liked that Lance Armstrong. The silly pandemic of me-too rubber bracelets he inspired. The nude cycling fetish. The bizarre attraction to pencil-top troll Ashley Olsen. I just wasn’t a fan. But I’ll be damned if his iPhone app isn’t saving my life.

Sophie Hunger

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sophie Hunger is a Swiss singer/songwriter. Her independently released first studio album, “Monday’s Ghost,”  went to the top of the Swiss music charts in 2008. Now signed to the Universal Jazz music label, her music will be distributed throughout Europe in 2009. Then, hopefully, in the U.S.

History for Sale

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There’s a lot being written about the merchandising of this inaugural moment.  For a sampling of what’s available, check out Amazon. Or any newsstand around the world.

Hey CNN, Have You Seen This?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oh that’s a trick question – you MUST have seen it because I watched it on your air.

My Morning Jacket

Friday, January 9, 2009

Louisville’s My Morning Jacket started playing and recording together in 1998. Since then, the band has enjoyed a slow rise in popularity, their music appealing to a wide range of music-lovers. Recognized for their brilliant live performances -- a vigorous mix of guitar, falsetto harmonies and beards -- MMJ may be one of the few bands upon which fans of indie rock and fans of jam bands agree. The track, “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” is from the latest album, Evil Urges.

Gatorade Fumbles With Its G Spot

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, January 8, 2009

What is G? The first spot aired during the Rose Bowl, a black-and-white conveyor belt of people posing, smiling, some instantly recognizable, others vaguely so.  Lil Wayne spoken-word poetry: gifts, gold, glory and game. A large white G to close.

Low-Carb Finally Kicks the Can

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, January 5, 2009

Tis the season for fad diets, and if the fresh mint shortage in our local grocery stores is any indication, the Flat Belly Diet may be the dark horse diet craze of 2009. Featured recently on Today and Oprah, the Flat Belly Diet promotes calorie control and a true balance of healthy fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates. A return to honesty and responsibility in weight-loss program marketing? What a great way to start the new year.

Wii Wish You a Merry Christmas

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, January 5, 2009

Maybe it's the economy, or that most of these kids, in sports terms, crossed from college to pro years ago, but this real footage of children getting a Wii Christmas morning leaves us conflicted. Nintendo's scarcity strategy warrents applause, as does their continued success despite meager graphics and an emphasis on family-friendly fare. But fainting and hysterial sobbing from kids who stopped believing in Santa years ago? Does it warm the heart or send shivers down the spine?

The Walkmen

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year from UE and The Walkmen. “In the New Year” is from The Walkmen’s latest album, You & Me.

Resolution Week: Live Morally

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For one year, journalist A.J. Jacobs strictly followed the 700+ rules he mined from the Bible. He tossed his polycotton, kepy holy the Sabbath and even stoned a 70-year-old adulterer. His greatest insight: changing behavior changes thinking, not vice versa.

Some Things Will Never Change

Jacco J. de Bruijn
Monday, December 22, 2008

While the best-of-2008 lists float around the Internet, we try to learn from what has happened the last 12 months. This year we have seen many novel trends and innovative ways to communicate. Working with brands this means we constantly have to stay abreast of new developments. At the same time, however, we should not forget that our ultimate goal, to create value and build a lasting relationship with the customer, remains the same. This is something that I first learned as a teenager in the Netherlands.

Lily Allen

Friday, December 19, 2008

The video for Lily Allen’s new single, “The Fear,” is a satirical nod to the Material Girl, rampant consumerism and superficiality.  Her new album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, will be released in early 2009.

Fan Mail to Nostalgia Marketers

R. Eric Raymond
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Nostalgia Marketers, Oh my God, I am your biggest fan.  I’m just smitten with your thirty second windows into my imaginary childhoods. Especially those shot in Super-8 and black-and-white (VHS just doesn’t get me in the mood).  Because really, who doesn’t love grainy signifiers that we’re traveling back into a simpler time?  With each handheld shot, you nail that dreamy pre-cubicle-meets-Playdoh-smell-on-my-hands paradise.  I mean, I think I speak for everyone when I say we wholeheartedly welcome your strip mining of our Hallmarkiest moments.

Nostalgia Week: There's No Place Like Home

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, December 18, 2008

  Pillsbury released "Heels" in time for the 2008 holiday season. The Saatchi + Saatchi offering is simple and beautifully filmed, but the concept and tagline feel a bit saccharine for a can of easy-bake crescent rolls. And why the Poppin' Fresh cameo in the final scenes? Any lingering emotional connection fizzles when that CGI doughboy peers around the corner at the gathering family.

Nostalgia Week: Childhood is Calling

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

  In 2006's "Childhood is Calling," Rice Krispies captures a powerful bit of ritual and celebrates the sharing of new experiences between parent and child. Rice Krispies launched Childhoodiscalling.com the following year, featuring recipes from and for parents and children.

Eau De Beef

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This week Burger King introduced Flame, a “body spray of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat.” The companion website features a variety of backdrops and groovy love tunes that guarantee the perfect ambiance for nibbling the meat-lover in your life. The scent retails for $4 exclusively through Ricky’s and online.

Mid-Life Mom Barbie (Fear of Materialism Sold Separately)

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh, Barbara Millicent Roberts, you clever little minx. I had been relatively successful at hiding my girlish sentimentality until you hit me with this commercial, just in time for the holidays.

Nostalgia Week: Lexus 1, Big Wheel 0

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, December 15, 2008

Lexus’ 2008 “Big Wheel” approaches greatness, then quickly devolves. The ad opens with retro footage of a working class home at Christmas - warm, messy, comfortable. A boy warns his future self not to forget. The memory is quickly crushed by the buying power of white collar-adulthood. Cut to cliche of gift-wrapped luxury vehicle. Message: Cherished childhood memories are no match for Lexus.

The Buddy System

Friday, December 12, 2008

Each Buddy System song has an animated story linked to it. The Athens, Georgia-based band believes that their music and animation are of equal importance, neither taking a back seat to the other. Rather, they are “inextricably linked, each image synced up with a sound, like the two are playing a game of Mirror and forgot who had been leading and who had been following.” “Return to Horse Mountain” is about a Satanic horse cult that must be defeated. Watch out for that unicorn!

Where’s the Etsy for Detroit?

R. Eric Raymond
Thursday, December 11, 2008

I’m a big fan of buying directly from artisans.  Though I was raised in a Wal-Mart culture, I’ve found that buying from the people who produce the product is more satisfying.  The brand is comfortably irrelevant, the quality (and yes, even unique defect of the item) is its own, and I feel good that the cash goes directly into the maker’s pocket.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make a Second Life

Thursday, December 11, 2008

  The difference between a dreamer and an innovator is action. So what to do when your dreams are impossible to bring to life? Philip Rosedale created Second Life, and helped more than 15 million people make their impossibles possible.

“Any Colour, So Long as It’s Black.”

Kimia M. Ansari
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Henry Ford famously declared that the Model-T buyer could choose “any colour, so long as it’s black.”  While I would argue whether or not black is a color, this restriction was important to providing affordable automobiles to the masses. A century later, consumers expect more from their favorite brands. They want an emotional connection, and during a time of budget cuts, job loss, and a major global plunge, a little color can make a big difference. Innovative companies know this. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Saving the World, One Wooly Hat at a Time

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

  Rob Kalin grew frustrated shopping the “anonymous shelves” of mass-produced goods at the local Walmart. His mission: help artisans operate sustainable businesses by selling unique, handcrafted items directly to a global community of buyers. Etsy.com was born.

Etsy.com: Crafting a Movement

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Since Etsy.com was launched in 2003, the online marketplace “for buying and selling all things handmade” has changed the way people consider, create and consume handmade products.


Friday, December 5, 2008

The Brighton Port Authority (BPA) is Norman Cook, the artist formerly known as Fatboy Slim. BPA's fictional history purports a substantial word-of-mouth reputation along England’s south coast from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. A “loose-limbed jamming unit” that gathered a wide assortment of musicians into a ramshackle recording studio, the BPA was legendary for both its music making and multi-day warehouse parties. Thanks to East Sussex music lecturer Dr. Randolph Seal’s decade-long search for the BPA’s lost tapes, the gems from this era of collaboration were recently found and remastered. “Toe Jam” was the first track remastered in “full stereophonic sound.” It features David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal. The whole collection, ostensibly named “We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat,” has yet to be released in full.


Friday, November 28, 2008

The one-and-only Pavement covers the one-and-only School House Rock. Happy Thanksgiving!

They Don't Make'm Like They Used To

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In another classic West Wing Thanksgiving episode, President Bartlet reminds aid Charlie that an impressive list of product features can't compete with a compelling brand story.

Talkin' Turkey With the President

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When Aaron Sorkin cleverly integrated the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line throughout the 2001 Thanksgiving episode of The West Wing, awareness of the free service skyrocketed. The banter between Sheen’s know-it-all Bartlet and the Butterball representative remains a fan favorite.

They Don't Call It Butterball for Nothing

Monday, November 24, 2008

Decades before Food Network’s Paula Dean fried her first Turducken, the American Dairy Association shared their secret to baking the perfect holiday bird.


Friday, November 21, 2008

  Manchester’s Elbow have been recording grand, anthemic music since 1991. While they have enjoyed a large fan base for many years, they only recently have begun receiving international media attention. Earlier this year, Elbow won the Nationwide Mercury Prize for their 2007 album, Seldom Seen Kid. It was selected over, among others, Radiohead’s highly regarded In Rainbows.   “Grounds for Divorce,” the first single off the album, recently was featured in the trailer for the Coen brothers’  Burn After Reading.

In Response to Hickory Farms

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Um, no. I am most decidedly not ready for that. Thanks.

Alistair Cooke 2.0

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, November 20, 2008

  As part of a new campaign, HP has called on the talents of the (Amy Poehler-founded) Upright Citizens Brigade and The People’s Improv Theater to tout its gizmos on YouTube’s adorably titled Master PC Theatre. While we applaud HP’s efforts to combine new media and pop culture with its storytelling, it all feels a little awkward. For one, improv should be funny. But more importantly, the “performance” overshadows the late, tacked-on message.

New Moms in a Twitter Over Motrin Ad

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Never underestimate the power of moms and social media. When Motrin ran this ad, "babywearers" nationwide, feeling mocked, unleashed hell on Twitter. The rebellion also included a video of angry Tweets. And Motrin tucked its tail, pulled the ad, and, after much criticized silence, issued an apology. No one puts babywearers in a corner.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Santogold, a.k.a. Santi White, is a singer and songwriter currently based in Brooklyn. Her self-titled debut solo album was released earlier this year to much critical acclaim. 

Turning Noise to Music

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There are an enormous number of American “knowledge” workers, companies and MBA programs whose work and whose professional standing is based solely on the agreed-upon script.  They have long since stopped thinking, responding, understanding, questioning and interpreting.  They can’t improvise to save their lives.  It's a problem that might impact our country's competitiveness more than anything else.

MC Yogi: Obama ’08

Friday, November 7, 2008

Regardless of your political persuasion, it is difficult to deny that brand Obama made participating in the political process cool again. MC Yogi is just one of many who took Obama’s voice, messages and logo, mashed it up and made it their own. The result: a malleable, inspiring brand that was expressed in myriad unique ways by the people, for the people.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode 13

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, October 31, 2008

The Unbound Edition Players now present “A Musical Salute to the Uterus,” their interpretation of the season finale, “Meditations in an Emergency.”

Number of the Beast

Friday, October 31, 2008

MUAHAHA! As you open your virtual trick-or-treat bag today, please allow UE to give you a generous handful of AWESOME. Why loll around to the likes of Monster Mash when you can totally rock out to Iron Maiden? Sure, the video quality isn’t as sharp as we’re used to these days, but what can one expect from a video made in 1982? A video, no less, for the titular track of one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. A video that incorporates frenetic stage lighting, consistent use of the smoke machine, guitar solos that can peel the paint off cars in addition to fire, brimstone, the Wolfman and Godzilla. Happy Halloween!

Chanel Mobile Art: What’s the Point?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

To many, Coco Chanel, single-handedly invented the look and fragrance of the 20th century, if not the woman itself! Who doesn't know or even covet the quilted handbags, the No. 5 square-cut perfume bottle, the little black dress, the braid-trimmed, brass-buttoned two-piece suit, the dark-toed sling pumps, or the fashion jewelry? Who doesn’t recognize the elegant simplicity of the interlaced double C, the minimalist color palette of white, black and gold…each piece telling the story of a woman with an extraordinary gift for fashion, social trends, and business? Enter Karl Lagerfeld, the man who is in charge of her legacy.

TV On The Radio

Friday, October 24, 2008

TV On The Radio has been together for seven years, recording several EPs and two full-length albums before receiving critical acclaim in 2006, when Spin voted TVOTR the Artist of the Year and Rolling Stone voted the 2006 album Return from Cookie Mountain the fourth best album of the year. TVOTR is known for its unique sound that blends free jazz, soul and dance beats with falsetto vocals and often dark, sometimes politically charged lyrics. Last month, TVOTR released a new album, Dear Science. “Golden Age” is the first single. Dear Science already has received rave reviews, calling it “shit-hot thrilling music that’s also brainy, ambivalent, and more engaging for it.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode 12

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Unbound Edition Players, jetlagged from traveling to both coasts to perform this week’s production, now present “The Mountain King.” When the evil villain Dr. Greg shows up and twirls his moustache, feel free to boo and hiss.

King Biscuit Time

Friday, October 17, 2008

King Biscuit Time was a side project of Ex-Beta Band frontman Steve Mason. Mason started King Biscuit Time in 1998 and folded the project in 2006. After disappearing for a little while, Mason is back to making music, performing under the name Black Affair and with a very different style. “I Walk the Earth” is off of King Biscuit Time’s EP No Style.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Two, Episode 11

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ditch all of your commitments and responsibilities and watch as the Unbound Edition Players present "The Jet Set," otherwise known as "The One Where Don Flips His Wig and Goes Native."

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Two, Episode Ten

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, October 10, 2008

Grab your inappropriately aged soulmate and gather ‘round as the Unbound Edition Players, still delusional from too much Benadryl, present “The Inheritance.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: Mad Men, Season Two, Episode Nine

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, October 3, 2008

The Unbound Edition Players now present “Six Month Leave.” Be sure to pick up one of our UE-branded catheters at the gift kiosk on your way home this evening.

Reverse Your Psychology, Win an Election

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hollywood is turning out in force, saying “don’t vote.” Because not voting is still a vote.

Is that Junk in Your Trunk? Lessons from the Antiques Roadshow

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, October 2, 2008

My wife and I recently moved to Atlanta, purging in the process a quarter century of bric-a-brac to make room for our daughters’ plush menagerie and a growing empire of Disney princesses. I’ll muzzle the rant over sacrificing my memory-laden artifacts to their marketing-laden geegaws and turn to the catharsis brand we entrusted to haul away our history: 1-800-Got-Junk.

Self-Improvement by Satellite: An American Portrait in Real Time

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I subscribed to satellite radio for the programming.  Little did I know that with my paid subscription they would throw in a Walmart-worthy makeover.

"The West Wing:" Aaron Sorkin’s Script for an Obama Presidency

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, September 22, 2008

President Bartlet of "The West Wing" appeared at last night’s 60th Anniversary Emmy Awards, delivering an eloquent, bipartisan reminder for audiences to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. During this presidential race, pundits have said much about the power of Barack Obama’s words to move crowds, but little about Sorkin’s, and how his idealized American President inspired voters to reconsider the qualities they demand in a candidate for the country’s highest office.

Bon Iver

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bon Iver (pronounced bon "ee-VEHR" - "good winter" in French) is the name of indie folk singer Justin Vernon's current project.  Bon Iver's debut album Emma, Forever Ago, was written and recorded by Vernon during four months spent in a secluded cabin in the woods of northern Wisconsin. The video for "The Wolves (Act I & II)" gives us an idea of what that experience was like.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode Eight

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, September 18, 2008

As the Unbound Edition players prepare to present “A Night to Remember,” you might want to pack a suitcase. We’re all going on one hell of a guilt trip.

Bill and Jerry’s Excellent Adventure

Friday, September 12, 2008

I must admit, I really did not want to like the new Microsoft campaign. I found the initial “Shoe Circus” spot to be silly and irrelevant — an effort that came off as simply trying “too hard” to be funny and awkwardly hip. Then came the joyfully odd bit of suburban “connection” in the latest spot for Microsoft. I love it, have watched it numerous times, and have forwarded it to many people. I have been converted to a Microsoft marketer, if no longer a customer.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode Seven

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Please take your seats as the Unbound Edition players present “The Gold Violin.” Heads up to the front row: you might want to have some Gallagher-esque plastic sheeting on standby.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode Six

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Leave your soul at the door, grab a bottle of whiskey, and watch as the Unbound Edition Players present their entire performance of “Maidenform” from outside, their sad little noses pressed against the window.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode Five

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Break out your specimen collection cups and toast the Unbound Edition Players as they present “The New Girl.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode Four

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Begrudgingly, the Unbound Edition Players lumber across the stage to present “Three Sundays.” That clunking sound you just heard is the prop guy bringing in an artificial respirator to try to breathe some life into this corpse.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season Two, Episode Three

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This week, the Unbound Edition Players take the stage for their interpretation of “The Benefactor.” Just a warning: afterward, you might not want to shake their hands.

Brand Tags

Monday, August 11, 2008

It is addictive, fun and maybe dangerous.

Brand China, Sponsored by the Olympic Games

Friday, August 8, 2008

With 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, we see a China that is a powerhouse of contemporary, iconic architecture. We see a China that is global host, not a walled world. We see an entire culture struggling with freedom, technology and the environment. From this view, China is a massive case study -- a window into -- the global future.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Two, Episode Two

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This week, the Unbound Edition Players, accompanied by their love children, present their interpretation of “Flight 1.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season Two, Episode One

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

After nine months of unemployment and government cheese, the Unbound Edition Players finally return to the stage in “For Those Who Think Young.” Kindly refrain from heckling or hurling your Jujubes. They’re a little rusty.

Attention Deficit Theatre Ready to Lift Curtain for “Mad Men,” Season Two

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

After what seems like the longest hiatus in history, the Unbound Edition Players are, at last, ready to return to the stage for the second season of "Mad Men" recaps. The only potential hitch is that the players just moved to Atlanta, where the wardrobe department doesn’t seem to offer anything but hoop skirts and parasols. (That “woo-hoo!” you just heard was Salvatore.)

Facebook Page Personalizes Tragedy

Monday, July 21, 2008

A tragedy today in Maplewood, Mo., shows how social networking sites can provide a morbid glimpse into a life lost. One that’s arguably far more powerful than the ubiquitous news story featuring grieving friends and family.

A 4th of July Brand Experience!

Jacco J. de Bruijn
Monday, July 7, 2008

Friday was the 4th of July, a special day of meaning for people in the US, and a different one for everybody. For most, this day is not associated with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but more with the country in general, a day amongst family, a barbecue with fireworks at night, just a day off or even Will Smith. For me, quite frankly, it does not mean anything. But this will come; it was my first 4th of July in the United States.

Broadcasting a Joyful Noise: R.E.M. and Politics in the Digital Age

Monday, June 23, 2008

In one powerful night, R.E.M. concludes its North American tour with a meaningful set built for an election year and the digital age.

Gatorade Needs First Aid! For That Deep-Down, Off-Court Thirst!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Okay, I’ll admit that’s a harsh riff on Gatorades tagline, and 80s jingle that is still emblazoned on my brain.  After all, according to Beverage Digest, Gatorade owned a 76.3 percent market share in ‘07 for take-home sports drinks.

Spending All Eternity in the Can

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, June 2, 2008

The fever for the flavor of a Pringle finally caught up with product designer Fredric Baur.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes for Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, June 2, 2008

Earlier this month I was discussing fad products in my Marketing class and brought up 80s icon Chia Pet. Immediately my senioritis-inflicted students burst into renditions of the now infamous jingle. That’s impressive name recognition for a brand that peaked in popularity when they were fetuses and sustains itself today only through nostalgic impulse buys and endless line extension. It got me wondering whether manufacturer Joseph Enterprises, with a little outsourced design help, could retrieve the Chia brand from the compost pile.

Play Not Pay: How Yelp.com Builds Loyal Lovers of Consumer Reviews

R. Eric Raymond
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ever wondered why some consumer review sites thrive while others seem like dusty repositories of stale content?  Quality consumer reviews are among the most coveted content online—when you can get them to flow they build a search-engine friendly kingdom of page views.  Sustain them, and your advertising inventory swells with content-specific pages.  The problem, of course, is convincing users to freely contribute their time and energy.

Why Barbasol Should Give Gillette a Spanking and Send Him to Bed

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, May 23, 2008

One of my earliest childhood memories is shuffling into my parents’ tiny bathroom at daybreak, mirrors fogged over with shower steam, to watch my father shave. He frequently ended this morning ritual by depositing a thick dollop of lemon-lime Barbasol on my nose.

Absolut-ion of Sins

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ah, nothing makes the death of brain cells go down smoother than the “all natural” moral reprieve.

Manix Condoms Proudly Presents “Tumescent of a Woman” (Hoo-ah!)

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, April 24, 2008

A while back, I wrote about this spot for Orangina and what a grody orgy it was. Little did I know that another campaign would come along that would make that musical salute to bodily functions look like the episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where Tinker Jones, the kindhearted mute, helps the kids of Walnut Grove forge a new bell for Reverend Alden’s church.

More than OK! Orla Kiely Stationery Helps Advance an Essential Design Language

Monday, April 14, 2008

London-based designer Orla Kiely has extended her brand to stationery. In so doing she is growing a design language that seems familiar and global at once. It is the right way to build the next major brand.

Absolut Global Branding Blunder

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Perhaps I’m letting my nationalism get the best of me, but Absolut’s “Reconquista” ad is a little insulting:

Explosions in the Sky

Friday, April 4, 2008

Did the band light up the night or fizzle out? Unbound Edition's resident DJ and music critic reviews its recent concert.

When Shock Content Meets Branded Content

R. Eric Raymond
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

We’ve seen a new development around the tradition of shocking internet memes.

Abercrombie's Boring Panty Raid: The Ennui of Nipples

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's true that there's nothing new under the sun. Also true that sex sells. Oh, true, too, that outrage gets news coverage. And true, so it seems, that Abercrombie & Fitch have become hopelessy lost in marketing cliches with the beautiful boredom of their new Gilly Hicks underwear brand.

Superbowl XLII: American Zeitgeist

R. Eric Raymond
Monday, February 4, 2008

Even if you’re the sort of rarified American sportstard who thought all last year that Tom Brady was somehow associated with a 70’s sitcom, you still should succumb to the spectacle of the Super Bowl.

Most Super Bowl Advertisers Get a Spanking from Mom

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, February 4, 2008

Last week, NPR aired a piece about how Super Bowl advertisers were making an effort to target women more than ever this year, particularly in light of the WGA strike. Companies are hurting for ways to get to us. Cool, I thought, thank you for seeing us over here, making up 40 percent of viewership. And would this mean a shortage of obnoxious fart and boob jokes? Ah, the possibilities.

Mass Ave – and We Don’t Mean in Boston

Monday, February 4, 2008

The twenty-something girls called from Boston at the end of the game to log in with their commercial picks.  They put the cell on speaker and yelled in together: “Universally lame.”

Super Bowl Ads Do More than Sell Stuff

Monday, February 4, 2008

The underlying cultural significance of Super Bowl advertising.

The Rise of Malleable Brands

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl XLII reveals brands in-flux, searching for meaning, making a case for their own relevancy, and showing just how flexible they can be with the new consumer.

Takeaways from DLD #2: A Brand on Any Other Platform Can Still Smell as Sweet

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Brand on Any Other Platform Can Still Smell as Sweet There was a lot of talk at DLD about Millennials – 3 billion under age 25 in the world, but fewer of them in the audience. They’re probably at home on Facebook, listening to their ipods, surfing YouTube or canvassing door to door for Obama.

Shop ‘Til You Drop Trow

Kristen M. Jamski
Sunday, January 13, 2008

I have been known to slam companies’ marketing approaches in past posts, so I thought I would mix things up a bit, and offer my support for Las Vegas’ new slogan.  Launching next week, the new slogan will be, “Your Vegas is Showing.”

All the News That's Unfit to Print

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who sends their sick kid to Dr. Phil??  And then is shocked, shocked (!) to discover he’s known more for ratings than for cures?  The whole broken Spears family has lost touch with reality.  I have a lot more to say about this, but if I added more than a sentence to this voyeuristic mess, I’d have to boycott myself. But speaking of the use and misuse of the press, how about Parade magazine?

Hookers and Track Marks? Yum! Who’s Up for Some Chicken Tenders?

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, December 14, 2007

A new Canadian print campaign for Burger King has a little something for everyone: pimps, ho's, drug addicts and, um, self-lovers. Oooh! There’s even mockery of religious iconography. Bonus.

“Truth” in Advertising

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We’ve come a long way, baby. Or have we? Are these ads below any different to have a sexy cartoon woman touting the smooth taste of Kamels? Or how about all those yummy transfats and other terrible foods advertisers push at us? Or the wax placebo you rub on your head to alleviate headaches?

Three Pinots & America’s Infinity Myth

R. Eric Raymond
Thursday, December 6, 2007

{self}What do pinot noir, the writers’ strike, and the current disintegration of media have in common?{/self}

Cultural Collage, Daily Edition

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We all know the sad song: newspapers are dying.  Some even say they should, as soon as possible.  Yes, we can get our “news” – whatever the slippery definition of it may now be – in more efficient and interactive ways.  But what do we lose if the newspaper goes away?

Resume 2.0

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I feel compelled to say it:  I am more than the sum of my resume, my LinkedIn profile and my Facebook page. I am not simply the compilation of my previous titles.

On the Turd Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, November 30, 2007

I’ve always thought the worst kind of lump Santa could deposit in my stocking would be of the coal variety. Not so much. Ladies and gents, I give you the Swedish toy characters Pee and Poo.

Bam, Emeril!

Friday, November 30, 2007

After ten years, the Food Network announced earlier this week that it will discontinue Emeril Lagasse’s evening extravaganza “Emeril Live.”

Six Pack Santa

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To the builders of this beer-shrine Tanenbaum: we hope you spaced out your holiday cheer over the course of a few nights when you were busy emptying those Grolsch bottles. The first layer of the tree alone would be the makings of a wicked hangover.

Suicide Grim Reminder of Just How Serious Teens Take Their Virtual Lives

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Megan Meier, a 14-year-old girl from an exurban area of St. Louis, recently committed suicide over an online MySpace prank instigated by her adult neighbors. Her crush on a boy that never existed in the real world pushed a troubled girl over the edge.

Go, Trabi, Go!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Trabant, East Germany’s “darling” car turned 50 a week ago.  And what a run it had, as it went from East German luxury good and West German laughing stock to a cultural icon in reunited Germany.

Our Love of Green Will Save Our Planet

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Considering we’re dedicating an entire week to Noam Chomsky videos, this might not be a popular opinion amongst my fellow UE bloggers or its readers. But lately I’ve been a bit more optimistic that market forces and our good old fashioned love of money will actually help save our “Planet in Peril.”

Content Rewind

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Marketers are talking nonstop about “content” these days: how it can help companies “be the media,” how it may be more credible than news, how it more closely connects readers and sellers, how it is the key to successful social media. Fine. All true. But is any of it new?

Rant of the Almost Rich: The Illogic of Andrew Keen

Friday, November 2, 2007

Andrew Keen “almost became rich” on the Internet. Now, he's written a bitter book attacking the "amateurs" who have succeeded where he couldn't.

Dear Nip/Tuck: I Hate New York

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dear “Nip/Tuck” producers:

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode 13

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And now, the Attention Deficit Theatre players take the stage for the season finale, “The Wheel.” While the play might only feel like it’s five minutes long, there’s a magic time machine involved and it’s really a nine month production. And you might need to sit on an inflatable donut for a few days afterward. Bonus.

Are You on the Left or on the Right?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I’m not talking about your political leanings, but your brain and your way of thinking.  Take this test on BrandWeek’s blog to find out.  You might be surprised.  I was.

Black-Faced Sarah Silverman

Friday, October 19, 2007

Comedians throughout history have pushed the limits of the cultural dialogue surrounding race. From Lenny Bruce, Red Foxx and Richard Pryor to Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, comedians help shove honest conversations, warts and all, to the forefront of debate.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode 12

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fire up the polka music and pour yourself a vile glass of rum and crème de menthe while the Unbound Edition Players present “Nixon vs. Kennedy.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode 11

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, October 8, 2007

And now, the Unbound Edition Players, slightly flushed and smelling oddly of dryer sheets, present “Indian Summer.”   (curtain up)

Colbert, You Magnificent Bastard, You’ve Done it Again

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ah, our fascination with celebrity. I’m quite sure it’s responsible for my past post, Colbert as Case Study, being my most-viewed blog entry to date. And 24-hour cable news wouldn’t be in business these days without it. And without 24-hour cable news, our Nation’s hero, Stephen Colbert wouldn’t be on television. (Well, at least his alter ego wouldn’t take to the airwaves…um, I mean basic-cable waves).

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season One, Episode 10

J. Kristin Ament
Sunday, September 30, 2007

After a brief, AMC-imposed hiatus, the Unbound Edition players return to the stage for “The Long Weekend.” If they seem a little sluggish, it’s because they’re weighed down by the chunky Chips Ahoy they turned to when there wasn’t a new episode to cover. They really feel for Peggy now.

Eau de Hole: Who Wouldn’t Want to Smell Like Courtney Love?

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, September 21, 2007

When scanning the news, I caught a glimpse of the headline, “Courtney Love to Launch Her Own Perfume” and naturally assumed it was an Onion article. Really, can you imagine a celebrity LESS appropriate to launch a new fragrance? Oh, ha ha ha, my sides split just thinking about it. What? It’s REAL? Sweet Jesus.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season One, Episode Nine

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

With apologies for the production delay (an unfortunate case of the flu made an appearance backstage this weekend), the Unbound Edition Players at last take the stage to present “Shoot.”

Will it Flush? Kohler Rips Blendtec in Flash Crap Fest

R. Eric Raymond
Monday, September 17, 2007

Never underestimate the power of an agency creative team to sweep in on a successful Internet phenomenon and whore the idea out to a client. So it goes with Kohler—the bold toiletsmiths of tomorrow. Taking a cue from the wildly successful Blendtec “Will it Blend?” series of catchy YouTube videos, Kohler has plunged the depths of their creatives to come up with JosPlumbing.com.

Engaging the Public at the Speed of Life

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

With a halfhearted apology to the post VMA Britney-bashers out there….

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode Eight

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, September 10, 2007

Pull up a chair, make sure there are no unsavory substances visible on the cushion, and join us for today’s presentation of “The Hobo Code.”

The Black Widow of Brands: The Unbankable Britney Spears

Monday, September 10, 2007

In this age of celebrity endorsements and entertainer-based empires, we delve into the disappointment and bad business that is Britney Spears.

How Starbucks Saved My Life

Monday, September 10, 2007

I knew a guy who was worried about his teenage son. He was a good kid, but he was struggling and he had just called to tell his father he was going to drop out of college. Years ago, the father fretted, he’d have shipped the kid off to the military – forced some discipline on him to help him grow up. That had worked for his generation. But the inflammatory world situation no longer made that a viable option in his (or his wife’s!) mind. He was at his wits’ end. So what did he do?

Whoopi Goldberg’s Racist Logic

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Today, during her premiere on ABC’s “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg came to the defense of Michael Vick. Whether publicity stunt for ratings, genuinely held opinion, or spontaneous outpouring of stupidity, there’s a fundamental problem with Goldberg’s logic. It’s racist, at its core.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season One, Episode Seven

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, September 3, 2007

And now, at the halfway point in season one of “Mad Men,” the Unbound Edition Players present the completely bizarro-world episode, “Red in the Face.”

Beverage Companies Tap Into Consumers as Brand Evangelists

R. Eric Raymond
Friday, August 31, 2007

Alcohol companies, by nature of their product, have a greater degree of permission from consumers.  People bring their beverage of choice into golden moments of relaxation, celebration, and even hard times.  In a hotly competitive market such as alcoholic beverages, it’s vital to capitalize on this permission and the social nature of sharing a drink with a friend.

The Biggest Boobs in Marketing

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Attention, ladies! Playtex is on to the fact that we constantly are talking about, joking about, and otherwise obsessing over our breasts. Constantly, I tell you. And they’ve got a multimillion dollar campaign about it. Um, what? Is a 14-year-old boy the marketing genius behind this?

Did the Media Drive Owen Wilson to a Suicide Bid?

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, August 27, 2007

Ten years after Princess Diana’s Death by Paparazzi, has anything changed? Not much, I say. Case in point: the nearly tragic case of actor Owen Wilson.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season One, Episode Six

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, August 27, 2007

The Unbound Edition players, joined by this week's special guest stars, now present "Babylon," also known as "The Episode That Went on for Eternity."

Put Haggard the Hypocrite through College – Send Checks to Registered Sex Offender

Monday, August 27, 2007

Our good friend Ted Haggard needs your help.  After his fall from grace for entirely heterosexual acts with a male prostitute while totally not amped up on crank, ol’ Ted has decided to go back to school.

The Saga Continues

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Last week I started to address what’s wrong with U.S. tennis, reviewing the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) misguided attempt to interest younger consumers in tennis.

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode Five

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, August 20, 2007

Please take your seats for "5G." Now with 20 percent more sarcasm at the same great price.

Poison Me Once, Shame on China; Poison Me Twice, Shame on America.

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It appears Baby Einstein isn’t the only company peddling products that may retard our children. On Tuesday, toy maker Mattel announced its second major recall in as many weeks.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season One, Episode Four

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, August 13, 2007

The Unbound Edition players now present the off-off-off-around-the-corner-and-then-28-more-blocks-off Broadway production of “New Amsterdam.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode Three

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pop open your boxes of Jujubes and Sno-Caps and enjoy today's two-minute production of "Mad Men: The Marriage of Figaro."

Take Your Grubby Little Cause off My Wife’s Boobs!

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, August 3, 2007

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and so continues the tired pseudo-debate between bottle and breast, exacerbated by fanatics who shame women who don’t nurse, and shadowy alarmists who claim government officials are “stepping in to make the choice for new mothers.”

Attention Deficit Theatre: "Mad Men," Season One, Episode Two

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, August 2, 2007

In preparation for tonight’s debut of "Mad Men" Episode 3: Marriage of Figaro, the Unbound Edition players proudly present the highlights of Episode 2: Ladies Room.

Do I Put My Dog in This Fight?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

You may not agree, but to me Michael Vick’s potential involvement (?!?) in dog fighting brings up more than animal rights; whether or not humans are more than…just animals; or the history of dog fighting and gladiators, although, they all are good topics to ponder as well. More important, it is about the question when enough is enough, and who ultimately makes that decision.

Attention Deficit Theatre: “Mad Men,” Season One, Episode One

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If you don’t have cable or an hour to spend watching AMC’s “Mad Men” each week, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve condensed the script to two minutes of key plot points, with added snarkiness as appropriate.

Book Technology: Content Rich, 100% Uptime, and AdWord Free

R. Eric Raymond
Thursday, July 26, 2007

Books don’t translate well online.  Marketing books?  Yes.  Ordering books? Clearly.  Communicating with authors?  Incredible.  But the books themselves?  No.  It may be a good thing, too.

Scared of “Scarred” and Worried about Mitch

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Growing up I was somewhat of a daredevil - or arguably just a little stupid.  Doing less-than-intelligent stunts on everything from skateboards, BMX bikes, go carts, mini bikes and eventually mountain bikes and motorcycles, put me in the hospital more times than I’d like to remember.  Oh, and there was a shopping cart incident (don’t ask).

Riling Up Christian Right Means Blockbuster for Merck

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, July 20, 2007

Let’s role play. You’re a pharmaceutical company who (allegedly) covered up the dangers of your last billion-dollar drug, for which you’re mired in costly and reputation-damaging litigation. You’re eager to launch a new, ground-breaking drug you can legitimately claim prevents cancer, and you want to avoid a barrage of articles comparing your new rising star to its fallen predecessor. You also need to break through consumer hesitation to early adopt, given your less-than-glowing track record. The new drug vaccinates against an STD. What do you do?

Give Lil’ Bush Another Chance

Thursday, July 19, 2007

No, not the lil’-minded leader of our great nation. We’ve given him enough chances. I’m talkin’ ‘bout “Lil’ Bush,” the animated series on Comedy Central.

The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming! And We Don’t Care.

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Last Sunday, my mother-in-law asked, “What is up with all of the attention those Beckley people are getting?” “Beckley?” I asked. “Yeah, that British couple. There was a big to-do about them in this week’s Parade, and she has some show on t.v.”  "Ah. Not Beckley. Beckham," I said.

Receptacles for the Diehard Sports Fan

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wow.  It doesn’t get much classier than this.  I must admit, I’m not the target audience for team-branded coffins or urns from Major League Baseball.  Mainly because I still have a pulse, but also because I’m not a huge sports fan.  However, going to the grave in a receptacle plastered with your team colors seems a bit extreme.

The Way to Get "Sirius" About Going Green

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I listened to a lot of the Live Earth concerts on Sirius satellite radio, which covered the entire event from Australia to New Jersey. Between performances, DJ’s promoted the new green channel in their lineup and offered “tips” – little things listeners could do as individuals to help mother earth.

I am Jack's Romantic New Beginning

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, July 12, 2007

The word “commune” elicits images of patchouli-soaked hippies, eastern-Pennsylvanian craftsmen, or Manifesto-writing, gun-toting tax evaders in dire need of therapy and antiseptic. But if I’m reading the cultural tea leaves correctly, don’t be surprised if a new generation of communes pops up in the rural US, featuring sustainable agriculture, green technologies, and like-minded families committed to raising and educating their children together, beyond the daily influence of American consumerism and popular culture. Tomorrow’s commune is M. Night’s Village with solar paneling and no creepy monster suits.

My Love/Hate Relationship with PowerPoint

Monday, July 9, 2007

There are many, many reasons why I love PowerPoint.  It’s intuitive…it helps make eloquent and impactful arguments…and pardon my dorkiness, but it can be downright fun to use.    But I also hate PowerPoint.  While it can be a very um…powerful tool, I believe it has dumbed down corporate culture.

Hey, Alli, Does This Dignity Make My Butt Look Big?

J. Kristin Ament
Sunday, July 8, 2007

The new fat-blasting wonder drug, alli, is terrifying. I’m talking “Poltergeist” clown terrifying. The product poses some unique marketing challenges, to say the least.

Taking the Tribe Offline

R. Eric Raymond
Friday, July 6, 2007

In the pre-Internet days of my younger geekdom, I used to participate in the BBS scene. I recall it with the nostalgia typical of other geeks. It was almost entirely text-based, the community was selective, elitist, stratified by a loose caste system based on age in the community and expertise, and adorned with the sexiness of the clandestine.

“Mind of Mencia” is Tiny

Monday, June 25, 2007

There are few people I despise as much as Dick Cheney, but Carlos Mencia makes the shortlist.

What’s a Little Castration with Pliers Among Friends?

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, June 22, 2007

Video Game maker Rockstar’s newest gorefest, Manhunt 2, got the axe this week by the British Board of Film Classification. The ban prohibits the game’s sale in the U.K. America’s Entertainment Software Rating Board followed suit, classifying the game Adults Only - a rating big boxes like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target refuse to stock. While Rockstar is no stranger to controversy (the Grand Theft Auto oeuvre is a perennial cause célèbre for parent and religious groups), they certainly weren’t expecting this level of backlash, and they’re racing to save what was sure to be a blockbuster. Is the content of this game really so much worse than past offerings?

Behind the Rockumentary

Friday, June 22, 2007

I have a confession. In the late 80s when I was too young to know any better, I was a headbanger (Not really me, but you get the idea). Thank god I was only in the fifth grade, too young and naive to even realize Rob Halford of Judas Priest was gay, let alone old enough to have full say in my style of dress and haircut. Otherwise who knows, I may have been the only fifth grader that looked like this .

What Price Humility?

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hold me back. No, really. I need to be restrained after reading that NBC is forking out $1 million to Paris Hilton for the rights to her first post-prison interview.

Another Brick in the Wall

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We have to risk being "fools" both as marketers and young lovers because that is what offers all the risk and all the reward of being real and in a relationship.

3 Ounces of Common Sense

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So I’m walking through the security line at LaGuardia when a guard holds up my quart-sized baggie and yells, “Whose is this?”  Uh-oh, this spells TROUBLE.

A Wasteful Life

Friday, June 15, 2007

When I first moved to the United States, I was struck by the free, not to say wasteful, use of resources.

Bob Barker Stayed in My Living Room for 35 Years

J. Kristin Ament
Thursday, June 14, 2007

My dream of standing in Contestant’s Row and proudly declaring, at the top of my lungs, “ONE DOLLAR, BOB!” has officially died.


Friday, June 8, 2007

No, the title isn't a new curse word. It's the Swiss German term for farmers’ radio.  Much has been said about the revival of seasonal produce, the rise of farmers’ markets and the convergence of urban and rural lifestyles.  But little has been done to celebrate the farmers, their lifestyles and the important role they play in society, except for Buureradio, a Swiss Internet radio station.

The London Olympics Logo: A Five-Ring Circus

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Step right up!     Have you seen the recently unveiled logo for the 2012 London Olympic Games? If not, here it is.

Lady Rebels

Monday, June 4, 2007

Last night at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards, America’s favorite fire-breathing potty mouth, Sarah Silverman , gave Paris Hilton the in-person verbal beat down she’s deserved for far too long.  The hotel heiress’ on-camera response was the icing on the cake of Silverman’s tasteless, delightfully lowbrow joke.

Lessons Learned from a Pig with Bad Hair Plugs

J. Kristin Ament
Sunday, June 3, 2007

Meet Bacon, my daughter’s stuffed pig. He and I have a love-hate relationship.

Burt’s Bees Brand Sets the Natural Standard

Friday, June 1, 2007

Burt’s Bees, known for its trademark yellow packaging, affinity for honey and aromatherapeutic salves, is leading the conversation about what is truly ‘natural’ in the beauty and personal-care category.

Dutch Wax: A Symbol of the Merry-Go-Round Called Culture

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What do you know about Dutch Wax? Nothing? Neither did I. That is, until I came across Yinka Shonibare’s work.

Manners & Etiquette

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

There is a renewed focus on manners and etiquette.  Or, so it appears.  The marketplace is filled with branded advice: “Manners” by Kate Spade, “Table Manners for Teenagers” by Tiffany’s, “Essential Manners for Couples” by Peter Post, great-grandson of Emily Post!  A recent Google search for “etiquette consultant” also yielded a whopping 807,000 results.  Not to mention the hundreds of magazines telling us how to dress, where to vacation, what to eat, how to decorate our homes – all to prevent the many socially inexcusable faux-pas we so easily commit.  Terrific, the world is about to be a better place!

It’s Food that Won’t Kill Me…and Ah Helped!

J. Kristin Ament
Sunday, May 20, 2007

This just in: American kids are becoming obese at an alarming rate. Oh wait. We already knew that. But oooh, now we have a whole new set of player pieces to move along the Blame Game board.

Colbert as Case Study

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stephen Colbert is a comic genius, and in my opinion (and his), one of today’s most relevant pop culture icons. Not only do I love his overall schtick and political satire, but Colbert’s delivery and improv skills demonstrate remarkable comedic talent. However, Colbert’s true mastery may be in his ability to engage a new type of audience: today’s digital culture.

Duking it out in the Classroom

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Here’s the bottom line problem with cheating in business school. It doesn’t help you in business.

Facing a new era

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kinder Schokolade, one of Germany’s most famous brands is getting ready for a facelift…literally. For forty years, the chocolate brand has been a sweet staple in countless kids’ diets while promising parents that the treat would provide an extra portion of milk to their tots. Don’t laugh.

Grand Theft Literacy

J. Kristin Ament
Friday, May 4, 2007

I’m not a literary snob. My reading these days consists of Entertainment Weekly or Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, if I’m able to focus on a page at all. And yet, when I read this week about a new video game designed to help students understand Shakespeare, I nearly lost my mind.

Gonna Use My Style, Gonna Use My Sassy

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Remember Sassy magazine? If you do, and you loved it as much as I did, let’s talk.

Panino, Panini? Who Cares?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Alright, I am about to step on really thin ice and will likely be accused of being just another snobby European. Here it goes: When will the linguistic globalization finally reach America? Did you know when you order a panini, you technically order a rolls? No, not a typo. Panini in Italian is plural for panino (a roll). I wish they charged you for rolls instead of one roll but they don’t know any better. Same with cappuccino. No, it’s not cappuccinos, Dio mio! See panino, and you will know the answer.

Meaning, One Cup at a Time

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Starbucks and other "experience brands" need to evolve into the age of brand meaning quickly. Why? Because the brands that win today are ones that drive social agendas.

Project Green

Friday, April 27, 2007

What’s wrong with the current preoccupation with all things green? I have friends who say the environmental initiatives sprouting like weeds are the consumer and the market taking control – AT LAST! - of issues the White House would rather ignore. A global, cultural surge towards sustainability. Something to applaud and encourage! Maybe. But I don’t believe everything green is worth celebrating this spring.

Of Happy Hookers

Friday, April 27, 2007

Today's New York Times title page announced: Firefighters Symbol of Pride Gets Image Upgrade. Sounded like a rather innocent piece of news. But, as I read on, it became clear that the New York Fire Department's unofficial patches are either being refashioned, or eliminated all together, if deemed inappropriate. These patches are worn on the right sleeve, opposite the department's official patch.

Can God Save the Queen?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Maybe, but solid brand strategy and management might be a more tangible and, frankly, smarter move for England’s monarchy. Why? Because Queen Elizabeth II is a brand in and of herself. Look no further than to the movie The Queen and you realize her majesty is an iconic brand in her own right.

At Issue } essential reading

Is Your Company "Asleep" When It Comes To Gender Balance?

Evie Nacy
Apr 22, 2014

The annual Gender Balance Scorecard looks at the top 300 companies across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and focuses not on corporate boards, whose male-female ratios are improving, but executive committees--those who have worked their way to the top and have responsibility for results. The study finds that of the 1,164 executive committee members of America's Top 100 companies, 83% are men--and two-thirds of the 17% who are women are in staff or support positions like HR, communications, or legal, rather than in operational roles.

The downside of being Goldman Sachs

Max Nisen
Apr 18, 2014

A new paper (paywall) confirms that the most prestigious investment banks get the best talent out of business schools school without having to pay a premium. But the prestige of firms like Goldman Sachs—which helps in hiring—has major drawbacks when it comes to managing retention and compensation over time, according to the study from Wharton professor Matthew Bidwell and co-authors, which looked at MBAs in investment banking. Early hires are high quality and surprisingly cheap. But as they move up the organizational ladder, that prestigious experience makes them extremely expensive to keep.

5 Myths About Millennial Consumers

Manila Austin
Apr 16, 2014

Like any generation, millennials are more than the sum of their stereotypes. If you want to connect with this coveted demographic, it's time to let go of these tired beliefs.

When You're at the Crossroads of Should and Must

Elle Luna
Apr 14, 2014

This is a story about two roads — Should and Must. It’s a pep talk for anyone who’s chosen Should far too long — months, years, maybe a lifetime, and feels like it’s about time they give Must a shot.

How To Design For All Of Humanity, According to Facebook's Head Of Product

Kaila Colbin
Apr 14, 2014

Facebook has rolled out a design update, and, if the comments in my News Feed are anything to go by, it’s the end of the world. The new layout is awful. The fonts are atrocious. We want the old look back. In short, we’ve reacted the way we react to every Facebook design update. We are nothing if not entirely predictable. Most of us, however, have no idea of the imperatives and constraints facing Facebook’s design team.

The Rise of the Data Natives

Monica Rogati
Apr 14, 2014

Sometime at the start of the decade, YouTube was abuzz with viral videos of small children — yet to speak, read or write — “pinching” magazine articles with their fingers as they would an iPad. These children were heralded as members of a new generation of “digital natives”: People who grew up surrounded by computers, shaped by always-on technology and the Internet. Today we are witnessing a new revolution, this time of “data natives” who expect their world to be “smart” and seamlessly adapt to them and their taste and habits.

What Gets in the Way of Listening

Amy Jen Su & Muriel Maignan Wilkins
Apr 14, 2014

As your role grows in scale and influence, so too must your ability to listen. But listening is one of the toughest skills to master — and requires uncovering deeper barriers within oneself.

Innovative MIT Grad Teaches Human-Animal 'Talk'

Eva Cairns
Apr 11, 2014

Can people really communicate with animals in ways that most humans seldom contemplate? Hong Kong’s Thomas Cheng, founder of the Institute of Scientific Animal Communication (ISAC), teaches talk-to-animals techniques.

Building a sense of purpose at Pixar

Ed Catmull
Apr 10, 2014

The cofounder of Pixar Animation Studios recalls how a serious organizational rift led him to a new sense of mission—and how it helped Pixar develop a more open and sustainable creative culture.

Will Starbucks Alcohol "Infect" Other Products?

Roger Dooley
Apr 9, 2014

Starbucks continues to test alcohol sales in selected stores, and appears to be on the verge of rolling out beer and wine to more of its coffee shops. Their Starbucks Evenings concept adds selected adult beverages to an expanded food menu.

Fixing This One Big Problem Helped Turn Around Struggling Furniture Retailer West Elm

Danielle Sacks
Apr 7, 2014

Jim Brett was haunted by mud-colored squares. When he started as West Elm's president in 2010, he couldn't believe how a furniture store could have so many products designed with such little imagination. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, what's with the brown boxes?'" he says. "The whole brand was brown boxes made in China. There wasn't a curve in the store!" From couches to beds to dressers, much of the line consisted of low-slung angular block shapes covered in lifeless chocolate finishes. Even the West Elm logo was trapped inside a pair of overlapping squares.

BRANDALISM Limited Edition Spray Paint Cans

Antonio Brasko
Apr 7, 2014

Designer Anotnio Brasko recently hosted his own exhibition at The Seventh Letter Gallery in Los Angeles entitled BRANDALISM. The exhibit looked at the influence of street art, graffiti, and brands in fashion, in an experimental way. He created a set of original spray paint cans for a diverse mix of brands.

Honey Maid Turns Hate Mail Into A Lovely New Ad

Jeff Beer
Apr 7, 2014

The brand responds to people who didn't appreciate its depiction of modern families.

What if Millennials Are … Sort of Like Everyone Else?

Robert Klara
Apr 4, 2014

Marketers have been scrutinizing Gen Y for years. Maybe there's not much to see after all.

A Billion-Dollar Bracelet Is the Key to a Disney Park

Brooks Barnes
Apr 3, 2014

Walt Disney World has spent more than a year rolling out a $1 billion system that changes how visitors do everything from enter their hotel rooms to ride Space Mountain. But a few weeks ago a front desk agent at one of Disney’s marquee hotels was still wrestling with the technology.

Brand Purpose Drives Digital At General Mills

Karl Greenberg
Apr 3, 2014

Consumer brands’ digital spend on a percentage basis is no longer single digits, as it was, say, seven years ago. It's 24% of spend now. That's $48 billion per year. The medium has certainly changed the message, but has it changed the brand? Mark Addicks, CMO of General Mills, argues that it had better not. "Brand fundamentals matter now more than ever,” he said, speaking at AdAge’s digital conference in New York on Tuesday.

Values of Culture to the Art of Meme Creation

Valeria Maltoni
Apr 3, 2014

Ability to see relationships is a valuable quality for making memes.

Ford to Cadillac: There's Another America Out There

Rebecca J. Rosen
Mar 31, 2014

Where Cadillac stumbled, Ford saw opportunity. Today, Ford released an ad playing off the Cadillac spot, twisting the original message to resonate with a totally different set of consumers.

IMF's Lagarde: Women In Workforce Key To Healthy Economies

Renee Montagne
Mar 28, 2014

As the first woman to lead the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is among an elite group of people determining how money is saved, spent and invested worldwide. It's not the first time she's been a "first." Lagarde was France's first female finance minister, and before that, the first woman to chair the global law firm Baker & McKenzie.

How Business Can Lift People Out Of Poverty: 4 Insights From The World's Best Social Entrepreneurs

Mark Cheng
Mar 21, 2014

How do you profitably sell to a customer who earns less than $2 per day? It is probably the most daunting business question in the world—as well as the most important, because that’s the earning power of nearly one third of humanity, the two billion people at the so-called “base of the pyramid.”

Artist Wants To Map Every Single Human Skin Tone On Earth

Margaret Rhodes
Mar 20, 2014

Photographer Angelica Dass has matched 2,000 human faces with their corresponding pantone hue.

U.S. Adults Spend 11 Hours Per Day With Digital Media

Matt Petronzio
Mar 6, 2014

According to a new cross-platform report from Nielsen, our suspicions are confirmed: The average American adult spends 11 hours per day with electronic media. That includes watching the age-old activities of watching TV and listening to the radio — which, surprisingly, are the top two digital activities in the average American adult's day.

Do Millennials Believe in Data Security?

Sarah Green
Feb 18, 2014

Millennials have a reputation for being the most plugged-in generation in the workplace. Experts have even suggested “reverse mentoring” so that younger workers can inculcate their “tech-savvy” habits in older generations. But a new survey from Softchoice shows that those may actually be bad habits when it comes to keeping data secure.

Google doodle for Valentine's tells real, beautiful love stories

Chris Matyszczyk
Feb 14, 2014

Google's Valentine's doodle features candy hearts. When you click on each one, you can listen to a love story from very real people indeed from "This American Life."

Company Culture Is Part of Your Business Model

Jim Dougherty
Feb 13, 2014

Thinking proactively about your company’s culture as an integral part of its business model is a good start. The next step is to actually start behaving in ways that make it a reality.

Model View Culture, A New Tech Publication The Internet Actually Needs

Rebecca Greenfield
Jan 16, 2014

Model View Culture hopes to counter the typical backslapping bromance tech beat by writing about and featuring the voices of women and minorities in technology.

LinkedIn Launches A Volunteer Marketplace To Extend Its Job Hunting Platform To Free Work

Ingrid Lunden
Jan 15, 2014

LinkedIn, the social network for the working world, has gained a reputation as a place to go when you’re looking for a job, or a person to fill a vacant role. Now the company is expanding on that idea with the launch of a Volunteer Marketplace – a place people can go to post and look for unpaid positions.

'Internet of Things' in Reach

Don Clark
Jan 6, 2014

From meat thermometers monitored with a smartphone to Wi-Fi-equipped dog collars, devices and services in homes and businesses are increasingly being connected to the Internet, a long-awaited trend that is causing a surge of optimism in the tech sector. Large and small companies are churning out a number of Internet-connected gadgets, a central theme as the Consumer Electronics Show opens this week in Las Vegas.

An Album Release Without the Hype

Hannah Karp
Dec 16, 2013

In a year filled with elaborate, corporate-sponsored music-marketing campaigns that frequently fell flat, pop star Beyoncé took an entirely different approach to marketing her latest album: She didn't. The singer's self-titled fifth album appeared on the iTunes Store late Thursday night with no fanfare—or even advance word that it was in the works.

5 Innovative Trends in Women's Economic Equality

Reem Rahman
Dec 13, 2013

Investing in women creates a multiplier effect for society – including better health and education outcomes, more resilient societies, reinvestment in communities, and greater prosperity. While there has been overall progress globally, women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) still face some of the greatest barriers in asserting their economic rights.

How Chinese Companies Can Develop Global Brands

Martin Roll
Nov 20, 2013

To many skeptical consumers in developed markets, Brand China still means lower quality. As has been the case elsewhere in Asia, companies in China traditionally focused on asset-intensive industries and low-cost manufacturing and paid little attention to intangibles such as brands and human capital. To become major branded players away from home, Chinese companies must address their challenges in three strategic ways.

Don't Ignore Your Best Co-Branding Opportunity -- Your Employees

Davia Temin & Ian Anderson
Nov 20, 2013

We all know employees can be both brand ambassadors and brand detractors. But what we haven’t wrapped our heads around is that they are also our most important co-branding opportunity.

15 Amazing Designs That Were Impossible to Make 15 Years Ago

Liz Stinson
Nov 5, 2013

Post-digital is a confusing phrase. It’s hard to know what people mean when they throw it around—are we done with digital? What does digital even mean anymore?

Why Sales and Marketing Don’t Get Along

Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, & Sally E. Lorimer
Nov 4, 2013

Sales teams and marketing teams pursue a common objective: create customer value and drive company results. But sales and marketing don’t always get along. Certainly, all-out war between the two teams drains productivity.

You Are Connected To Everyone On Earth By Just 4 Degrees Now

Jessica Leber
Oct 28, 2013

The old six degrees of separation has shrunk, and it's because of Facebook.

Make Better Decisions by Getting Outside Your Social Bubble

Scott Berinato
Oct 24, 2013

Decision makers know they’re supposed to seek outside counsel — a diversity of information improves the likelihood of a good decision.

There Are Three Americas Hiding Inside Our Country--Which Do You Live In?

Ben Schiller
Oct 18, 2013

America is divided by politics, economics and geography. But it also turns out that we also tend to cluster around people who act the same as us.

The Millennial Male Is Not Who You Think He Is

Sam Thielman
Oct 7, 2013

They’re not opposed to advertising, but they also love being obscure—it’s the first generation that would starve trying to order a pizza (or deciding where to order a pizza from).

3 Ad Agencies Try to Rebrand Feminism. Did Any of Them Get It Right?

Tim Nudd
Oct 3, 2013

Does feminism need rebranding? Elle U.K. thinks so, and invited three British ad agencies—Brave, Mother and Wieden + Kennedy—to work on it with three feminist groups.

Shots of Awe: Experience Design

Jason Silva
Sep 17, 2013

Jason Silva every week as he freestyles his way into the complex systems of society, technology and human existence and discusses the truth and beauty of science in a form of existential jazz.

What The Heck Is Business Culture?

Victor W. Hwang
Sep 13, 2013

What does it mean? And how does culture actually cause innovation?

The 10 Happiest Countries In The World, And Why We're Not One Of Them

Ben Schiller
Sep 10, 2013

The United Nations just released its second World Happiness Report, which ranks countries according to happiness levels.

Univision's Ratings Win Underlines the Power of Hispanic Marketing

Nataly Kelly
Aug 5, 2013

The Hispanic market continues to grow in importance to the future of American businesses — especially in the domains of advertising and marketing.

Russia's Anti-Gay Laws Put Pressure on Stoli, NBC

E.J. Schultz
Jul 29, 2013

Russian Vodkas Feeling The Heat. Could Winter Olympic Sponsors Be Next?

Work Life Balance: 5 Ways To Turn It From The Ultimate Oxymoron Into A Real Plan

Amy Rees Anderson
Jul 26, 2013

One of the questions I am asked the most is, “How do you do it? How do you balance work life and home life?” The honest answer is, “I don’t.”

Millennials: Meeting Them On Their Playing Field

Jean Case
Jul 18, 2013

No matter how you feel about Millennials, there’s no denying that they’re changing the world as we know it.

4 Keys To Turning Customers Into Brand Evangelists

Smart Design
Jul 15, 2013

To grow your brand, know what people find meaningful, connect with them thoughtfully, create joy they can’t live without, and believe in your employees.

To Sell Consumer Goods in China, You'll Need to Go Digital, but Chinese-Style

Winter Wright
Jul 15, 2013

Brand Loyalty and Repeat Buys Are Hard to Create Among Newly Affluent Customers

To Sell Stuff Online, Make It Easy to Buy in the Bathroom

Marcus Wohlsen
Jul 12, 2013

Thanks to the Apple iPad and other tablets, people are now shopping on the couch, in the bed, and in the kitchen, not to mention the most comfortable of “lean-back” environments: the bathroom.

The World's Most Reputable Countries, 2013

Susan Adams
Jun 27, 2013

Which countries have the best reputations? What does that even mean?

How Pop Culture Changed the Face of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Angela Watercutter
Jun 27, 2013

In more recent years there have been more storylines involving gay people on TV shows like Glee and Will & Grace, and committed gay couples on shows like Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy.

Why The Samsung Jay-Z Bundle Matters More Than You Think

Tyler Hayes
Jun 27, 2013

For the artist, album sales are album sales. But what Samsung got out of this deal was much more valuable than the paltry $5 million they paid.

Google Makes A Splash With Christoph Niemann Illustration To Mark The First Day Of Summer

Amy Gesenhues
Jun 21, 2013

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, falling on Friday June 21, 2013 at 1:04 a.m. EST.

This Is What Happens When You Give A Creative Community An Empty 14,000-Square-Foot Building

Ariel Schwartz
Jun 19, 2013

Freespace is a experiment in civic hacking, inspired in no small part by Burning Man. But it’s attracting the attention of Fortune 500 companies eager to find ways bring more creativity and innovation into their work spaces and companies.

We Need a Fixer (Not Just a Maker) Movement

Clive Thompson
Jun 18, 2013

Today e-waste has become one of the fastest-growing categories of refuse. We chucked out 2.4 million tons of it in 2010 and recycled just 27 percent.

Inside The New Mainstream: How To Target Your Message Across Cultures

Cesar Melgoza
Jun 13, 2013

As the demographics of the American population continue to shift, marketers understand that the opportunities provided by the growing diversity of consumers in the United States are not what they used to be.

Memes With Meaning: Why We Create And Share Cat Videos And Why It Matters To People And Brands

Abigail Posner
Jun 5, 2013

Google’s Abigail Posner explains why those screaming goat videos aren’t just a mindless distraction, they reflect a real human need to elevate the everyday, make connections and exchange energy, and outlines how brands can meaningfully participate.

Seeing The (Northern) Light: A Temporary Arctic Retirement

Curt Nickish
May 20, 2013

A good year. A retirement year, inserted into their working ones. One year that helped them find unexpected riches, personal and professional.

Top 10 Questions Millennials Ask the Internet

Stephanie Buck
May 17, 2013

Millennials are a stubborn bunch. Likes: looking smart, being right. Dislikes: looking dumb, being wrong.

Seven Reasons Why China May Be the World Leader in Fighting Climate Change

Ramez Naam
May 8, 2013

Despite its smoggy reputation, China is doing better than the United States. Much better.

Your Rich Friends Don't Really Want to See You in Person, Says Report

Lucia Moses
May 8, 2013

They say email can't replace face-to-face communication. Tell that to the rich, though.

Spotify May Need To Be More ‘Asian’ To Dominate Region

Victoria Ho
Apr 29, 2013

Asia’s fragmented music fanbase and subscription habits may stand between Spotify and its total domination of the region, or at least so its competitors hope.

Boston: just another day in the news revolution

Charlie Beckett
Apr 19, 2013

What does the Boston bombing tell us about how news is changing?

Seven Spectacular Places Saved by the Environmental Movement

Jennifer Weeks
Apr 19, 2013

To celebrate Earth Day, visit a spot that was almost flooded, polluted, or paved over.

Are Men and Women Using Mobile Apps Differently?

Christina Bonnington
Apr 12, 2013

In early March, this little gem popped up on my radar: a tablet designed specifically for women. After putting on my feminist hat and spewing outrage at the stereotypical selection of apps splashed across the tablet’s homescreen, I wondered — Do men and women have appreciably different tastes in apps?

In Honor of 'Mad Men's' Return, See Our Favorite Ads from the 1960s

Apr 4, 2013

WWDDD: Scroll Through These Classics and Ask Yourself, 'What Would Don Draper Do?'

Visualizing The “Globesity” Problem

Ben Schiller
Apr 2, 2013

America isn’t the only country in the world getting fatter. Obesity is a growing problem around the world.

Should Your Global Agency CEO Be Based Out of Asia?

Rupal Parekh
Mar 29, 2013

Across the industry, there aren't too many examples of agencies exhibiting the view that having your leader based in New York or London is old-school. But there are signs it could be moving that way.

This Beautiful Mexico City Building Eats The City’s Smog

Zak Stone
Mar 28, 2013

The Torre de Especialidadesis is shielded with a facade of Prosolve370e, a new type of tile whose special shape and chemical coating can help neutralize the chemicals that compose smog.

Crowdfunding, Micro-Patronage, and the Future of Free Software

Scott Merrill
Mar 27, 2013

The “free” in Free Software refers to “freedom”, rather than cost. It is largely a happy coincidence that Free Software is available gratis.

The Top Coworking Countries In The World

Ariel Schwartz
Mar 11, 2013

The idea of being free from an office but having a space to work is exploding around the globe. Where has it taken off the most?

Inside Facebook's Internal Innovation Culture

Reena Jana
Mar 7, 2013

Business news headlines featuring social-networking giant Facebook change almost as often and as dramatically as a teenager updates her Facebook status online.

Google Expands Public Alerts to Japan for Quake, Tsunami Warnings

Anita Li
Mar 7, 2013

After launching last January in the U.S., Google has now expanded its Public Alerts system to Japan.

The Truth Behind "Secret" Innovation At Nike, Apple, Google X

Austin Carr
Mar 5, 2013

This sense of secrecy extends to the highest levels of the organization.

Our Dated Immigration Policies Could Torpedo the Tech Economy

John Feinblatt
Feb 25, 2013

For the time being, America remains the destination of choice in the global economy. But talented individuals can now also find very attractive opportunities in other countries around the world.

Can We Really Stop Bullying?

Emily Yoffe
Feb 25, 2013

Emily Bazelon's in-depth look at bullying and a blueprint for how to reduce it.

Bill Gates: Microsoft is Not Doing Enough to Innovate

Seth Fiegerman
Feb 19, 2013

Microsoft's co-founder and current chairman Bill Gates praised the company's investments in Windows 8 and Bing, but said Microsoft is still not doing enough to innovate.

Your Innovation Problem Is Really a Leadership Problem

Scott Anthony
Feb 13, 2013

Large companies like IBM, Syngenta, Procter & Gamble, 3M, and Unilever show that innovation can be a repeatable discipline. Yet, with all of this progress it still feels like a positive surprise when you see a large company confidently approach the challenges of innovation.

From Zappos: 4 Simple Hacks To Foster Office Collaboration

Greg Lindsay
Feb 8, 2013

Zappos founder Tony Hsieh has added three Cs: collision, community, and co-learning. Hsieh’s big bet is that exposing his employees to serendipity--within both the office and the city--will ultimately make them smarter, happier, and more productive. That means: no hiding behind partitions.

Don't Let Strategy Become Planning

Roger Martin
Feb 5, 2013

Strategy is not planning — it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.

Where Brands Go to be Born Again

Joan Voight
Feb 4, 2013

In this "postdigital" era, brands must confront “a new normal and a new basis of competition, with digitalization at its core,” says Mark White, Deloitte principal and CTO. Forward-thinking organizations have to figure out how to bake in the digital forces of mobile, analytics, social and the cloud, he adds.

Food: The Next Frontier For The Sharing Economy?

Anya Kamenetz
Feb 1, 2013

Between the refrigerator and the garbage disposal, the consumer-side food surplus could be an opportunity for the new sharing economy. Just like Airbnb lets you rent out unused space in your home, and Lyft and Sidecar let you rent unused time in your car, and ThredUp lets you pass along unused clothing, could a website help you get rid of unused, but still edible food?

Bill Gates: My Plan to Fix The World's Biggest Problems

Bill Gates
Jan 28, 2013

In the past year, I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal.

Infographic: Mining Pinterest To Discover Our Color Preferences, By Room

Mark Wilson
Jan 16, 2013

Colour and Space is a project by designers Mie Frey Damgaard and Peter Ørntoft for decorative paint brand Jotun (Turkey). It digs through Turkish Pinterest boards, analyzing two fairly basic but powerful categories: color and location.

To Give Your Employees Meaning, Start With Mission

Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer
Dec 19, 2012

When organizations give people a sense of meaning in their work, it's not only good for employees, but it's critical to building a healthy organization — one that is well-functioning and competitive.

3 Ideas For Cultivating Creativity At Work

Kevon Saber
Dec 13, 2012

Associational thinking takes unrelated ideas and restructures them in novel ways. It's responsible for innovations from the theory of dinosaur extinction to Pinterest's groundbreaking layout. So how do you apply this principle to your business?

New Report: We're Not As Connected As We Think

Pankaj Ghemawat and Steven A. Altman
Dec 12, 2012

The DHL Global Connectedness Index 2012 tracks the depth and breadth of trade, capital, information, and people flows across 140 countries that account for 99% of the world's GDP and 95% of its population.

The Rising Science Of Social Influence — How Predictable Is Your Online Behaviour?

Ferenc Huszar
Nov 27, 2012

We are creating a new market and ecosystem of personal preferences and patterns of influence. We are creating an exponential amount of data – 3.2bn likes and comments per day, over 400m tweets per day, and rapidly being joined by Pins and Cinema.grams.

Need Branding That Transcends Cultures? Invent Your Own Language

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan
Nov 9, 2012

A thoughtful identity gives a multinational disease research network a new way to communicate.

The Network Effect Isn’t Good Enough

Nir Eyal and Sangeet Paul Choudary
Nov 5, 2012

The power of the network effect is fading, at least in its current incarnation. Traditionally defined as a system where each new user on the network increases the value of the service for all others, a network effect often creates a winner-takes-all dynamic, ordaining one dominant company above the rest. Moreover, these companies often wield monopoly-like powers over their industries.

Is the Cost of Innovation Falling?

Bright B. Simons
Oct 29, 2012

The answer to that question has dramatic consequences for low-GDP countries and small businesses everywhere. If the cost of innovation is falling, that should enable more of it from poorer countries, companies or cooperatives. If it's not, the already big and already rich will dominate innovation.

Why Digital Marketers Need to Get More Personal

Paul Dunay
Oct 25, 2012

The potential of personalized online marketing, when done well, is enormous—and for that reason, it’s a compelling sell. The problem is, it hasn’t been done successfully thus far. And thanks to vendor hype and overpromise, just mention the word “personalization,” and most have learned to greet it with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Meijer Supports Literacy Programs

Tanya Irwin
Oct 25, 2012

Midwest retailer Meijer is supporting United Way literacy programs across the Midwest through a new partnership with Better World Books.

Inside Starbucks's $35 Million Mission To Make Brand Evangelists Of Its Front-Line Workers

Sarah Kessler
Oct 22, 2012

To Starbucks, baristas are not just baristas--they are ambassadors of brand, merchants of romance, disciples of delight. The company recently invested millions in a "Leadership Lab" designed to drill that message in for 9,600 store managers. So did it work?

The Politics of Social Networks

Robert Passikoff
Oct 16, 2012

If you’re really looking for trouble, try posting something on Facebook about your political preferences! A study from the Pew Research Center discovered the remedy for 20% of social networkers who received political puffery too frequently or political opinions antithetical to their own was – wait for it – unfriending or blocking!

Making Diversity A Priority

Jen Beaulieu
Oct 10, 2012

When asked to describe the main benefit of a diverse organization, Niloufar Molavi doesn’t mince words. “Innovation,” she says without hesitation.

Cell phone culture: How cultural differences affect mobile use

Naomi Canton
Sep 28, 2012

It is a device that three quarters of the world's inhabitants have access to, according to the World Bank, but the words to describe it and etiquette of how to use it differ starkly across cultures.

What Executives Don't Understand About Big Data

Michael Schrage
Sep 14, 2012

How much more profitable would your business be if you had, for free, access to 100 times more data about your customers? That's the question I posed to the attendees of a recent big data workshop in London, all of them senior executives. But not a single executive in this IT-savvy crowd would hazard a guess.

How ‘orphaned brands’ survive

Alecia Clegg
Aug 31, 2012

Last week’s sweeping victory for the [Apple] in a bitter patent dispute with Samsung came exactly a year after its reins were passed from Jobs to Tim Cook – who duly used the legal victory to rally Apple’s employees and restate values such as “originality and innovation” that Jobs had epitomised. In doing so, Mr Cook illustrated how brands can try to cope with being orphaned by a founding figurehead.

The Meaning of Ownership in an Era of Digital Objects

Tim Ryan
Aug 28, 2012

Author and interaction design researcher Richard Banks shares his thoughts on the interaction between storing memories digitally and physically. Richard is the Principal Interaction Designer at Microsoft Research‘s Socio-Digital Systems group, a team analyzing how families use digital and analog media and building technological objects in response.

In Customer Relationships, Context Is King

Don Peppers
Aug 28, 2012

Seeing things in context is one of the most important features of human intelligence, and it plays a vital role in our relationships with others, including the relationship that a customer has with a company. By focusing on deepening the context of your customer relationships, you can ensure greater customer loyalty and probably higher margins as well.

New road for a macho brand

Anjli Raval
Aug 24, 2012

More than 750 garage parties for women were hosted by Harley-Davidson dealers last year. These show-and- tell outreach events have also been combined with female-friendly training and a marketing drive heavily focused on women’s empowerment.

Can A Corporate Culture Be Built With Digital Tools?

Austin Carr
Aug 24, 2012

While the tangible benefits of conducting business digitally are manyfold, companies that are moving their employees online have largely ignored one of the most important factors of success: corporate culture.

A New Spin on an Old Topic

Andrew McMains
Aug 21, 2012

Pfizer, like Dove and Prudential before it, has gone topical. The pharma giant’s new corporate image effort eschews gauzy TV ads in favor of a microsite where consumers can find and share third-party information about the vicissitudes of aging.

Culture Clash

Alexia Tsotsis
Aug 20, 2012

Culture, and, by association, brand, is so important and prevalent, you could almost test it like Rorschach — Hold up a name of a company to a user and they’ll immediately know what it stands for. This association thing happens on the less positive side of the spectrum as well.

Retailers target grey spending power

Louise Lucas
Aug 16, 2012

Welcome to the newest retail concept in Funabashi: a shopping mall designed with the elderly in mind. Here older shoppers can access medical clinics, benefit from 5 per cent discounts on pension day, partake in any of 140 leisure activities ranging from calligraphy to hula dancing and, through the “Begins Partner” programme, find love.

Keeping zombies out of the mall

Philip Delves Broughton
Aug 15, 2012

A lethal combination of thrifty consumers and a commercial real estate slump have turned malls into the walking dead of retail. In 2009, General Growth Properties, one of the largest mall operators in America, filed for bankruptcy, unable to service more than $25bn in debt. The vacancy rates in regional and strip malls in the US nearly doubled between late 2007 and the middle of last year.

Stop Fighting Your Culture

Jon R. Katzenbach, Ilona Steffen, and Caroline Kronley
Aug 10, 2012

In the early 2000s Aetna was struggling mightily on all fronts. While on the surface revenues remained strong, its rapport with customers and physicians was rapidly eroding, and its reputation was being bludgeoned by lawsuits and a national backlash against health maintenance organizations and managed care (which Aetna had championed). To boot, the company was losing roughly $1 million a day, thanks to cumbersome processes and enormous overhead, as well as unwise acquisitions. Many of the problems Aetna faced were attributed to its culture.

How Women Lead Differently, And Why It Matters

Alyse Nelson
Aug 9, 2012

If we want to successfully navigate this new world, spark economic resurgence and close the gaps in equity that threaten stability, we need new thinking, new partners--we need to elevate a new paradigm of power. We need leaders who understand local nuances and global interdependence. We need decisions to be predicated on sustainability not opportunism. We need leadership that leverages power for collective empowerment. I see a solution in women.

How A UI For Autistics Led To Better Online Shopping

Sarah Kessler
Aug 1, 2012

Autistic children with limited verbal skills are often taught how to communicate and make choices using pictures. Drawing on her experience as a behavioral therapist in college, Adriana Herrera realized that key design principles from her work with Autistic children could also be applied to the website she founded.

Marketing to Women? Keep These 3 Facts in Mind

Stephanie Buck
Aug 1, 2012

A survey conducted by Women’s Marketing Inc. published new findings that shed light on social media marketing and women. We’ve pulled three important lessons from the data, which will help businesses to refine their marketing tactics, especially as they pertain to the female demographic.

How Big Companies Are Becoming Entrepreneurial

Dan Schawbel
Jul 30, 2012

Today, companies are starting new entrepreneurship initiatives because they need fuel for innovation, desire top talent and need to sustain a competitive advantage. Smart companies are catering to entrepreneurs, allowing workers to pitch their ideas, and even funding them. They are holding entrepreneurship contests, investing in startups and bringing on entrepreneurs in residence (EIR). In the war for talent and innovation, companies have to think entrepreneurially in order to survive and thrive.

VCs' Strange, Instinctual Need to Replace Founders

Bruce Gibney
Jul 26, 2012

Venture capitalists exhibit some strange behaviors, but none is more bizarre than the near-inevitable scheming to remove a company's founder-CEO. Odder still is that these plans are often hatched just as the company begins to really perform.

IBM to CMOs and CIOs: Work Together or Become Irrelevant

Mark Fidelman
Jul 25, 2012

“What’s becoming clear is that in order to stay relevant and remain competitive in today’s uber-digital and social world, the CIO and the CMO must work together. Today and in the future you’ll see this connection grow tighter than ever before,” said Jeff Schick, VP, Social Software.

Do People Still Care About General Interest News?

Karen Baker
Jul 24, 2012

One daring digital news operation seems to be failing; simultaneously, another expands and appears to march forward, recruiting more journalists as it goes. And there’s an awkward question that links these swings and roundabouts. Simply: has the typical general newspaper, conventionally conceived and structured, had its day? Is it, as a concept, what evolving news online is about?

How Language Shapes Your Organization

Kevin Allen
Jul 24, 2012

In the race to find culpability, what doesn't get talked about is the very climate that creates the conditions for people to behave badly and feel perfectly justified in their behavior. It is, in fact, the very same thing that creates an environment and provides the fuel for people to conversely do great, generous and far-reaching things. It boils down to cultural permission.

How Innovation Is More Poetry Than Science

Daniel W. Rasmus
Jul 19, 2012

Our future is as much threatened by the lack of imaginative connection making as it is from a dearth of engineers or mathematicians. Here are practical lessons from 35 years of writing poetry that can help individuals and teams deliver more innovative products, processes and services.

Hilton Focuses On Global Experiences

Tanya Irwin
Jul 18, 2012

Hilton is evolving its current campaign to feature experiences that guests have at properties worldwide. Still using the two-year-old tagline “Stay Hilton. Go Everywhere,” the new interpretations include a series of print, online and out-of-home advertisements. Developed in collaboration with Cramer-Krasselt, the three creative executions are "Go Chill," "Go Refresh" and "Go Foodie."

As New Hogs Hit The Road, Harley Keeps Roaring

Avi Dan
Jul 11, 2012

Last year, new advertising for Harley-Davidson was greeted with skepticism. The company had eschewed working with traditional ad agencies on the campaign, and instead became one of the very first marketers to pursue consumer-created work through crowd sourcing. Now Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer is having the last laugh: Harley expects to repeat last year’s sales uptick of 6%, and its market share has been up 12 points in the last 4 years despite the Great Recession.

Some MLB All Stars Should Thank Twitter As Much As Talent

Sarah Mitroff
Jul 6, 2012

Texas Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton got there because he deserves it. But please, three San Francisco Giants were voted onto the All Star team? In what election process is that fair? Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera maybe, but when you consider the perpetually injured Pablo Sandoval there is clearly something else at play when it comes to the All Star voting. For the Giants, and even the Rangers, it’s all about All Star tech savvy.

The Top Communication Traits of Great Leaders

Alan Hall
Jul 6, 2012

It’s impossible to become a great business leader without being a great communicator—not a big talker, but a great communicator—as well. Famous entrepreneurs are known for their skilled communication with employees, vendors, investors and clients. It is one of the most vital traits they must have. Whether the news is positive or negative, they know it is best to be forthright, honest and timely. They know that people appreciate transparency and truth.

Leading in an Age of Decreased Face-to-face Communication

George Bradt
Jul 3, 2012

A monumental question for leaders in any organization to consider is: How much greatness are we willing to grant people? Because it makes all the difference at every level who it is we decide we are leading. The activity of leadership is not limited to conductors, presidents, and CEOs, of course — the player who energizes the orchestra by communicating his newfound appreciation for the tasks of the conductor, or a parent who fashions in her own mind that her children desire to contribute, is exercising leadership of the most profound kind.

Innovation Advice Inspired by a Children's Magazine

Scott Anthony
Jul 3, 2012

A seminal memory of childhood for many Americans of my age was the arrival of the magazine Highlights for Children every month. The magazine was chock full of goodness, but my favorite part was the Goofus & Gallant cartoon. For those who didn't have the pleasure of reading the magazine, the cartoon taught life lessons through contrasts. Not surprisingly, Gallant was always polite, did his chores, and thought things through, whereas Goofus wasn't polite, didn't do his chores, and definitely didn't think things through.

Industry Must Respond To Generational Shifts

Karlene Lukovitz
Jun 28, 2012

The rise of Millennials and the aging of Baby Boomers represent significant challenges for established food brands and traditional grocery stores, according to new study from investment bank Jeffries and business advisory firm AlixPartners. Over the next decade, Millennials (born between 1982 and 2001) will come of age and Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will enter the next phase of their lives and spending patterns. As a result, established food brands and traditional grocery stores will be pressured at both ends by consumers with different value equations.

Target's Jeff Jones, In First Interview As CMO, Reveals What's In Store For The Brand

Jennifer Rooney
Jun 25, 2012

It’s been two months since Jeff Jones stepped into his role as executive VP and CMO at Target Corp. In that time, he’s adjusted to his move from the agency world, as president of McKinney, back to the client side. Jones, only the third CMO in Target’s 50-year history, met me in a busy Brooklyn Target store this morning to talk for the first time since his appointment–his “dream job,” he said–about the challenges Target faces, the experience he brings and what makes him an ideal candidate for the role, and how he plans to lead marketing for the discount retailer at a time when that task has never been more daunting.

Jumping the Olympic® shark

Seth Godin
Jun 22, 2012

When a brand becomes a bully, it loses something vital. So much money, so many egos and so many governments are involved in the Olympics now (and they have so little competition) that it has become a sterling example of what happens when you let greed and lawyers run amok over common sense and generosity.

The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph

Derek Thompson
Jun 19, 2012

That headline is a big promise. But here it is: The economic history of the world going back to Year 1 showing the major powers' share of world GDP, from a research letter written by Michael Cembalest, an analyst at JP Morgan.

Gillette Finds Rhyme and Maybe Reason with Reduce-Reuse Message

Adam Gordon
Jun 14, 2012

The shaving brand, Gillette, (Procter & Gamble) has been running a television commercial which shows actor Brandon Quinn in far-flung locations, and claims one ProGlide cartridge blade lasted him 5 weeks on the road. It is impossible to put a reliable number on how long a shaving blade lasts, not least because all the variables are personal: including skin type, hair type, tolerance for drag, etc. But the news is that the huge and successful marketing machine behind the Gillette brand has seen *now* as the moment to come forward with a blade longevity number.

Our volatile age defies spreadsheet strategy

Gillian Tett
Jun 13, 2012

Why are investors engaged in a “dash for cash” (or a flight into any havens that they can find)? It is not hard to think of reasons: doubts are rising about the future of the eurozone, the underlying developed world economic data are grim – and in the US there is concern about the prospect of a “fiscal cliff”, or new debt debacle. Ever since the computing revolution took hold on Wall Street and the City of London in the 1970s, finance has been treated not as an art but a science – and banks have operated as if computer models could not just explain the past but predict the future, too.

The Digital Coupon Monster That Eats Advertising

Erika Morphy
Jun 13, 2012

When Apple executive alumn Ron Johnson took the helm of J.C. Penney one of his goals was to wean customers off of the concept of “sale” and “coupon”. In their place he wanted to introduce a new pricing and merchandising strategy that was all about low prices all the time. It failed miserably as J.C. Penney’s recent earnings show and now word is that Johnson is bringing “sale” back into its advertising. Johnson miscalculated, gravely, about the love affair Americans have with coupons and discounts.

Apple Still Has It

John Biggs
Jun 12, 2012

There will be plenty of bits spilled over the next few days about whether Apple is going extinct, whether Jobs’ touch was integral to the Apple experience, and whether this was “The.Worst.Keynote.Ever.” I posit, however, that Apple still has a few good years left and this keynote – a precise and well-orchestrated experience dedicated mostly to software – is proof that the Apple vision runs far deeper than the efforts of a figurehead CEO.

Apple After Jobs

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher
Jun 4, 2012

Apple Inc. occupies an enviable position in the tech world. But it also faces unique challenges—including charting its course after the death of the visionary Steve Jobs. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher spoke with Apple's new chief executive officer, Tim Cook, about the future of the company's signature product lines, and what he plans to change.

Lessons In Complementary Leadership From Disney And Coca-Cola

George Bradt
May 30, 2012

Most leaders are unbalanced. They are relatively stronger in some areas than others. The secret to making them more productive is to let them play to their strengths, while at the same time bringing in someone to work with them that has complementary strengths.

BP Aims to Restore Image Two Years Post-Gulf Spill

Mark J. Miller
May 29, 2012

As tourists start returning to the Gulf of Mexico two years after the disaster that marred its name, BP would like to rebuild its image as an oil company that actually gives a hoot about the environment.

Why A Brand Matters

Lois Geller
May 24, 2012

In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple, MetLife. It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.

Pfizer Launches Lipitor Mobile App

Tanya Irwin
May 24, 2012

The Lipitor For You “Recipes 2 Go” app is aimed at helping consumers manage their heart health on the go. The launch marks the first time that Pfizer has released a consumer mobile app for a prescription product in the U.S.

Data Points: Online, There Are No Crowds [Infographic]

Lucia Moses
May 16, 2012

Online, men are shopping more and at rates higher than before, according to an iProspect study of men with a household income of $100,000 plus.

Welcome to the Era of Design

Adam Swan
May 10, 2012

Design has finally become democratized, and we marketers find ourselves with new standards to meet in this new “era of design.” To illustrate, Apple, the epitome of a design-led organization, now has a market capitalization of $570 billion, larger than the GDP of Switzerland. Its revenue is double Microsoft’s, a similar type of technology organization but one not truly led by design.

Culture Fosters Innovation

Kate Benson
May 9, 2012

Innovation is the name of the game in many industries, certainly in all of those that we recruit for. Innovation fosters new products, new categories and new consumerism -- which leads to what we are all in business for: to make money.

Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections

Lee Rainie and Susannah Fox
May 9, 2012

Users’ ability to access data immediately through apps and web browsers and through contact with their social networks is creating a new culture of real-time information seekers and problem solvers. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has documented some of the ways that people perform just-in-time services with their cell phones.

The Spot: High on the Hogs

Tim Nudd
May 8, 2012

'The Guardian' huffed and puffed and made one of the year's best ads. Did it sell papers? Newspapers aren't known for their compelling self-promotion. Yet in the grip of their existential crisis, that's what they need—a riveting argument for their own value, evolution and place in the cultural conversation. In late February, London ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty delivered just that for The Guardian.

Patagonia's Founder Is America's Most Unlikely Business Guru

Seth Stevenson
May 3, 2012

A couple of years ago, Yvon Chouinard—founder of the outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia—gave a talk at a sustainable-fisheries conference in Vancouver. He'd been invited to speak in recognition of Patagonia's longtime commitment to environmental issues and its reputation as a company that manages to churn out profit while minimizing ecological impact. Chouinard delivered his spiel, but he came away frustrated by the surprising ignorance of his audience.

Help Wanted 2.0: Engaging Others To Tackle Wicked Problems

Bansi Nagji
May 3, 2012

Beth Comstock is the chief marketing officer at General Electric-–a company that no one would accuse of having a free-wheeling or laissez-faire culture. Yet Comstock, along with GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt and fellow senior executives, have embraced the fact that the challenges they face—in areas from healthcare to energy to transportation—are too ‘wicked’ to be solved by GE alone.

Barriers to Change: The Real Reason Behind the Kodak Downfall

John Kotter
May 2, 2012

What no one seems to do is go back and ask: Why did Kodak make the poor strategic decisions they made? In 1993 they brought in from the outside a technology expert to be CEO. George Fisher was believed to be almost as good as Jack Welch or Lou Gerstner. Great CEO, people buried in the hierarchy who had all sorts of good ideas, and still poor strategic decisions. Why?

How to change your habits

Charles Duhigg
May 1, 2012

We like to think of habits as traits that can't be changed, but it turns out that habits are malleable and knowing how to change them has profound implications, not just at the personal level, but also for companies and governments.

Google Teaches Employees To "Search Inside Yourself"

Todd Essig
May 1, 2012

There’s a new search program at Google, but one without a magic algorithm. This program lets you search inside yourself so you can find, well, yourself. Cleverly titled “Search Inside Yourself,” it’s a free course Google provides employees that is designed to teach emotional intelligence through meditation, a practical real-world meditation you take with you wherever you go.

5 Mobile Trends Brands Need to Watch

Jonathan Gardner
Apr 30, 2012

Already, data shows that more than one third of American teens own an iPhone and the one-tablet-per-child initiative is a mainstay in South Korean and Thai schools. It’s easy to see what life will look like for the next generation of consumers, but will marketers be prepared? That will largely depend on whether they’ve considered these five post-mobile trends.

Amazon aren't destroying publishing, they're reshaping it

Nick Harkaway
Apr 30, 2012

Google, Apple and Amazon are vying to become literature's new gatekeepers. But good publishing is about more than market share.

Singularity University: meet the people who are building our future

Carole Cadwalladr
Apr 30, 2012

Stanford University might have been the cradle for a hundred Silicon Valley startups and the hothouse for some of its greatest technical innovations, but the Singularity University is an institution that has been made in the valley's own image: highly networked, fuelled by a cocktail of philanthro-capitalism and endowed with an almost mystical sense of its own destiny.

More Proof Moms Are Your Best Target: Their Brains Are Built For Shopping

Caroline Winnett
Apr 26, 2012

With an estimated $2.1 trillion in spending power, moms influence 85% of all purchase decisions and buy nearly everything for everybody. What’s more, we now know that moms are even better shoppers than might be perceived in the marketplace due in large part to neurological research that didn’t exist until recently.

How Great Leaders Create Game Changers

Mike Myatt
Apr 26, 2012

At one time or another all great leaders experience something so big and so impactful it literally changes the landscape – it’s what I call a “Game Changer.” A game changer is that ah-ha moment where you see something others don’t. It’s the transformational magic that takes organizations from a slow idle to redline.

The Flight From Conversation

Sherry Turkle
Apr 23, 2012

In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right.

Most adults follow local news closely, relying on local newspapers and other sources

Carolyn Miller
Apr 17, 2012

Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults are quite attached to following local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need. In fact, local news enthusiasts are substantially more wedded to their local newspapers than others.

The Age Of Uprisings, Brand Movements, And Ad Backlashes

Scott Goodson
Apr 16, 2012

It’s a new era where consumers will punish a company for taking a wrong stand, but also for taking no stands at all. In these volatile times, brands actually should become more willing to take a stand.

How the Tech Parade Passed Sony By

Hiroko Tabuchi
Apr 16, 2012

Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life.

Why Do We Collaborate?

Steve Denning
Apr 16, 2012

Why do human beings collaborate? Ever since Darwin, biologists have been vexed by the question, because in evolutionary terms, self-less behavior makes no sense. We would expect altruists who act contrary to their own interest to be systematically eliminated from the species.

This Is Why You Fall in Love With Brands

Hans Villarica
Apr 13, 2012

Susan Fournier looks back on the rocky journey behind her seminal study, and discusses how far the literature on consumer behavior has come and why she despises society's eagerness to equate materialism with consumerism.

10 of the most trusted brands in America

Paul Sakuma
Apr 9, 2012

In an era when entire companies and long-time brands are disappearing, why do Americans trust certain brands and not others? What is trust?

Warning, Executives: Avoid Social Media at Your Peril

Erika Andersen
Apr 9, 2012

For my daughter, and my assistant, and other people I know in their 20s and 30s, using social media is part of their native language. They built websites in college (or even high school); they explore and evolve their use of facebook and/or twitter and/or Pinterest and/or iGoogle as easily as they change clothes.

Etsy Hacker Grants: Supporting Women in Technology

Marc Hedlund
Apr 6, 2012

The summer batch of Hacker School will be 40 students, and our goal is to have them accept at least 20 women, with Hacker School retaining full control over the admissions process. In other words, 20 times the number of women in the current batch. What will it take to get there?

It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Believe

Bill Taylor
Apr 4, 2012

Adam Lashinsky's new book Inside Apple offers lots of intriguing material about Steve Jobs and the strategic choices, design principles, and business tactics that created the most valuable company on earth. But for all of Lashinsky's behind-the-scenes material about Apple's legendary leader, it was a public story about Apple's new leader, CEO Tim Cook, that captured my attention — and offered a powerful insight for leaders everywhere looking to create value in their organizations.

Brewing Controversy - How Starbucks Embraces Social Media

Felicia Dorng
Apr 4, 2012

How does a multi-national mega-brand, responsible for crafting a consistent image all over the globe, manage to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of hot-button cultural and political issues in the places where it does business?

Cars in the Cloud: Trackable and Time-Stamped

Victor Cruz
Apr 2, 2012

When an aircraft crashes, investigators are able to retrieve useful information about what went wrong from the flight data recorder, more commonly known as the black box. (The data recorder itself is actually not black, not until it’s retrieved from charred remains.) Statistically speaking, plane crashes are rare occurrences compared to car crashes, so why not install a black box for cars?

From Apple to Zipcar, Auto Brands Hunt Millennials

Dale Buss
Apr 2, 2012

Auto makers are deeply concerned that Millennials don’t care about vehicles nearly as much as they do about the next iPhone. So the companies have become decidedly more intent on roping in these car-reluctant twenty-somethings. That’s one big reason why, for instance, Ford has decided to set up shop, literally, in Silicon Valley, and why General Motors has turned for marketing advice to MTV.

The Era of Big Box Retail Dominance Is Coming to an End

David Welch
Mar 30, 2012

When Best Buy Co. (BBY) said yesterday it was closing 50 big stores and opening 100 smaller ones, the world’s largest electronics retailer was adjusting to reality: The era of big-box retail dominance is coming to an end. The new mantra is small box.

Business IS Personal

Dov Seidman
Mar 30, 2012

What ideas are you building your company on? It’s an important question for all organizations, and some companies are responding with innovative and inspiring answers. Ideas shape our thinking, animate our endeavors, and serve as the foundation upon which we scale our institutions and companies.

Alignment: Key To Marketing Performance

Laura Patterson
Mar 29, 2012

When marketing is in alignment with the business, you are more likely to travel in the same direction. Alignment and accountability are the first steps every aspiring marketing organization must take to improve its performance management and measurement.

Strong Brands Built Through Trust, Then Action

Aaron Baar
Mar 28, 2012

There are a couple of things that make a brand great: engendering good feelings to consumers and using those feelings to inspire them to make a purchase.

50 Brands Named 'Customer Service Champions'

Tanya Irwin
Mar 16, 2012

In the faltering economy, the importance of customer service has reached new highs, overtaking even price as a purchase determinant, according to a J.D. Power report.

Photographer’s QR Code Faces Reinterpret Our Digital World

Emma Hutchings
Mar 14, 2012

Singapore-based photographer Kamarule explores the viewer’s relationship with 2D still images reproduced on photographic print medium with the Facial Codes series. Circular discs with QR codes are superimposed onto the faces of the people in group photos (school, college, national service, etc), creating a sense of impenetrability.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Gives Up On Print Edition

Stan Schroeder
Mar 14, 2012

Encyclopaedia Britannica will stop publishing print editions and go digital-only — a huge step for the encyclopedia which has been in print since 1768. The sales of Britannica print editions has been on the decline since 1990, when 120,000 32-volume sets were sold.

Council Created to Regulate Aggregation, Bloggers

Alissa Skelton
Mar 13, 2012

David Carr, media reporter for The New York Times, wrote an article on Monday about a group of editors who plan to establish guidelines for ethical aggregation and blogging and another journalism duo who have created symbols they call the Curator’s Code.

The Economics Of Emotion

Alan Zorfas
Mar 12, 2012

The most recent commercial for the BMW i3 and i8 concept cars is a great example of something enlightened marketers have known for years: emotion is the key driver behind purchasing decisions. Yet, today, most businesspeople still follow the old adage, “Emotions and business don’t mix,” relying on rational data to drive decisions instead.

Newspapers Are America's Fastest-Shrinking Industry

Derek Thompson
Mar 12, 2012

LinkedIn and the Council of Economic Advisors mapped the fastest-growing and fastest-shrinking industries since 2007, the year the Great Recession started. Renewables are at the top and newspapers are at the bottom.

Tweet-A-Beer Lets You Buy Drinks for Twitter Pals

Brian Anthony Hernandez
Mar 9, 2012

Buying someone a drink in person is a nice gesture, but buying someone a drink via Twitter is, well, not something you do often. Online networking app Tweet-A-Beer hopes to change that and make paying for other Twitter users’ drinks more of a habit.

The Three Layers Of Brand Perception

Nigel Hollis
Mar 2, 2012

I have been exploring the importance of brand meaning. My basic premise is that the brands which people find to be different in a good way are the ones they will be willing to pay a price premium for. But as I have explored this topic, I have come to realize that there are some very distinct layers of meaning (how a brand is perceived) and brand marketers need to work differently to motivate people within each level.

Experience Is The Next Frontier In Marketing

Jacob Braude
Mar 1, 2012

"Experience" is the marketing buzzword of our time. It seems like every week someone is extolling the vast untapped potential of experience to move your customers: Starcom recently created a Chief Experience Officer position; SMG Global CEO Laura Desmond has called experience the "future of advertising," and Starbucks is revitalizating through a focus on moments of "human connection."

How to spark inner creativity

Julie Burstein
Feb 29, 2012

If there’s one thing Burstein has learned over the years of producing the arts and culture radio show Studio 360, it’s that telling stories is the best way to learn about empathy. So now she tells of four qualities she believes help us all when looking to embrace our own creativity

Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Women’s Magazines

Lauren Indvik
Feb 27, 2012

Pinterest hasn’t just become a significant source of referral traffic for retailers; it’s also becoming a top traffic driver for women’s lifestyle, home decor and cooking magazines, some of which are seeing bigger referral numbers from the image-collecting service than from major portals like Facebook and Yahoo.

LPGA CMO Jon Podany Discusses Rebuilding Trust

John Ellett
Feb 27, 2012

As both an avid golf fan and a curious marketer, I’ve noticed a renewed enthusiasm for the premier professional ladies golf tour, the LPGA. To learn more about the LPGA’s turnaround, I had a conversation with the organization’s CMO, Jon Podany.

71 percent of enterprises creating their own mobile apps, says Symantec

Meghan Kelly
Feb 24, 2012

According to a survey by Symantec, enterprises officially understand that “application culture” isn’t going away, and in order to succeed they need to be competitive both online and in the App Store. Both the iPhone and Android have significantly altered a phone’s function, making it a productivity tool, as opposed to a simple mode of communication. Currently, 71 percent of enterprises are either looking to, or are actively deploying their own mobile applications.

Culture Vs. Strategy Is A False Choice

Bob Frisch
Feb 21, 2012

A strong culture is important, and for all the reasons Parr mentions: employee engagement, alignment, motivation, focus, and brand burnishing. But is it the most important element of company success, as the more ferocious of the culture warriors assert?

B2B Marketers: It's time to become a growth engine

McKinsey and Company
Feb 21, 2012

The trends that are rocking B2C companies are just as relevant to the B2B world: multiplying customer touch points, changing customer behaviors, massive floods of big data. And like their B2C counterparts, B2B companies need to put the customer at the center of everything they do.

Why Some Think P&G's Innovation Is Slipping

Jack Neff
Feb 20, 2012

Tucked in an area north of Cincinnati is an office-warehouse building that looks like a movie set. It contains fully functional mockups of two homes (one upper-middle class, one lower-income) complete with kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. It has two mock grocery stores and a virtual-reality lab where you can fly over store shelves. This is the Beckett Ridge Innovation Center, or BRIC, in P&G parlance. And P&G, whose innovation record has come under growing scrutiny, hopes it can deliver.

How Marketers Selective Learning has Become Consumers Selective Hearing

Valeria Maltoni
Feb 20, 2012

Is now a good time to have a Jerry Maguire moment? To refresh your memory, the story goes when a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him. We say people matter, do we mean it?

Bessemer Ventures: Why We Invested In Pinterest

E. B. Boyd
Feb 17, 2012

Jeremy Levine, who led Bessemer's investment, tells us about all the ways Pinterest can make money, why it's not thinking about that right now, and why the company is more like Google than you might imagine.

Rules For the Social Era

Nilofer Merchant
Feb 15, 2012

Facebook, KickStarter, Kiva, Twitter, and other companies thriving in the social era are operating by the rules of the Social Era. They get it. They live it. And to them, it's ridiculously obvious. But too many major companies — Bank of America, Sony, Gap, Yahoo, Nokia — that need to get it, don't.

The Rise and Rise of Pinterest And Our Love Of Digital Curation

Scott Goodson
Feb 15, 2012

There’s a new movement underway. If you haven’t come across Pinterest yet, you soon will do. It’s a new virtual pinboard site that everyone’s talking about. It allows you to easily share visual things you’ve discovered online with your followers. You simply browse the web, spot something that inspires you and ‘pin’ it onto one of your boards. It’s as simple as that.

Letter From The Editor: The Lessons Of Innovation

Robert Safian
Feb 14, 2012

What do you get when you cross Walmart with Mother Teresa? Who would be the Square Deal candidate in 2012? And how in the world do you compare--and rank--such dynamic, eclectic businesses as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google?

No More Kodak Moments

Robert Passikoff
Feb 14, 2012

Kodak is going to stop doing what they were once the first to ever do. No, not produce Kodachrome. They stopped that 10 years ago. They’re stopping the manufacture of digital cameras. “Did Kodak manufacture digital cameras?” I hear you ask. They invented digital.

Why Brand Love, Satisfaction Aren't Keeping Shoppers Faithful

Beth Snyder Bulik
Feb 13, 2012

Love just isn't enough anymore. In brand relationships, good customer service, high customer satisfaction and even professed brand loyalty won't keep consumers from ditching a product for the competition. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers did so last year. A global study by Accenture found that even though consumers are more satisfied with customer service than ever before, they are switching brands at a high rate.

How Social Media Can Help You Snag Top Talent For Your Company

Curt Finch
Feb 13, 2012

It’s no mystery that the area with the most important long-term implications for an organization is recruiting and staffing employees. One of the biggest and oldest problems for companies revolves around acquiring a talented and creative team — and digital gives the old, traditional methods a new spin.

UK Supreme Court Now Accepts Official Requests Via Twitter

Emma Hutchings
Feb 10, 2012

The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom announced this week that it would accept freedom of information (FOI) requests (used by the public and media to ask for access to government documents) via Twitter after launching its own account. The social network could possibly become a new tool for legal and government institutions who choose to join.

How Dos Equis Uses Facebook To Keep Their Man Interesting To Consumers

Brandon Gutman
Feb 9, 2012

We spoke with Colin Westcott-Pitt, VP Marketing, Dos Equis, Amstel Light, Newcastle Brown Ale at Heineken USA, about what’s keeping the Most Interesting Man in the World campaign successful. Delivering consumer craving content and utilizing Facebook as both a research tool and a marketing channel is making Dos Equis a category leader.

Where Did That Sentence-Ending Preposition Rule Come From?

Andy Bowers
Feb 6, 2012

We all learned you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. But from where did this alleged rule come? And why does it encumber us with such labored sentences as the one preceding this?

The Days of "Manager Knows Best" Are Ending

Sujai Hajela
Feb 2, 2012

To get a glimpse of what tomorrow's young global managers might be like as leaders, take a look at how today's young people think about communications.

Know Your Teammates: Leadership Lessons from the Super Bowl Quarterbacks

Karl Moore
Feb 2, 2012

Tom Brady and Eli Manning will square off this Super Bowl Sunday as the two quarterbacks tasked with leading their teams to a championship. Brady and Manning both possess many leadership and athletic qualities that have led them to the top of their sport and to this game. However, one of the primary skills of each of these quarterbacks is an in-depth knowledge of his teammates, and in particular the receivers who are supposed to be on the other end of the quarterback’s passes. That knowledge allows these two elite quarterbacks to play at the highest level and make the people around them better, which is an essential leadership skill in football or business.

How to Sound Smart During the Big Game

Matthew Creamer
Feb 2, 2012

Because you work in advertising or media, a little more is expected of you when it comes to Super Bowl advertising knowledge. It's not enough to mindlessly chuckle along with the masses at the CareerBuilder monkeys or Volkswagen's body-image-obsessed canine. You need to be able drop some serious knowledge on this, advertising's biggest day, whilst juggling a microbrew and a plate of nachos.

Can Pinterest and Svpply Help You *Reduce* Your Consumption?

Chris Tackett
Feb 1, 2012

At first glance, it would seem that the new generation of product-bookmarking sites such as Pinterest and Svpply are nothing more than new tools to feed the consumer machine, driving us to buy more stuff. But, counterintuitively, my experience with these services is that they actually help me cut my consumption and to direct my money at goods that more closely align with my values.

Consent of the Networked

Rebecca MacKinnon
Jan 31, 2012

Companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, and many other digital platforms and services have created a new, virtual public sphere that is largely shaped, built, owned, and operated by private companies. These companies now mediate human relationships of all kinds, including the relationship between citizens and governments. They exercise a new layer of sovereignty over what we can and cannot do with our digital lives, on top of and across the sovereignty of governments. Sometimes—as with the Arab spring—these corporate-run global platforms can help empower citizens to challenge their governments. But at other times, they can constrain our freedom in insidious ways, sometimes in cooperation with governments and sometimes independently. The result is certainly not as rosy as Apple’s marketing department would have us believe.

The Coming Tech-led Boom

Mark P. Mills And Julio M. Ottino
Jan 30, 2012

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution. Information technology has entered a big-data era. Processing power and data storage are virtually free. A hand-held device, the iPhone, has computing power that shames the 1970s-era IBM mainframe. The Internet is evolving into the "cloud"—a network of thousands of data centers any one of which makes a 1990 supercomputer look antediluvian. From social media to medical revolutions anchored in metadata analyses, wherein astronomical feats of data crunching enable heretofore unimaginable services and businesses, we are on the cusp of unimaginable new markets.

Changes to the Way Customers Buy

Valeria Maltoni
Jan 30, 2012

There are many people who have gifts for selecting the best items, and helping you buy wisely. This has always been a hot trend. Reviews have an impact on buying behaviors. Aside from trying to game or buy reviews, which I don't recommend, how can you find what really affects behavior? Social influences is part of that. Which is why tools that allow people to display what they read, listen to, and buy are making such strong inroads. For example, my boards on Pinterest are a mix of things I have done, and things I might like to do.

A New Challenge for Web Freedom

Jan 27, 2012

The Internet is celebrated as a machine that runs by itself, but this is not quite accurate. The Web does have oversight, just not by any multinational organization, national government or regulator. It's run by a small, private, nonprofit institution that is rarely in the news. This week will be an exception. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known by the acronym Icann, is accepting applications for an infinite number of new Web addresses, known as top-level domain names. In addition to the existing two dozen suffixes, such as .com, .org and .net, Icann will let people apply, for a fee of $185,000, to create whatever suffixes they like, which will be reviewed and go live next year. Expect .hitachi and .paris, for example. Icann is also adding local-language Web names in non-Latin characters such as Chinese and Cyrillic.

Consumer Behavior: From Trading Up To Trading Off

J. Walker Smith
Jan 27, 2012

The opposite of trading up is not trading down. In fact, there is no opposite of trading up; shopping behavior is more nuanced than that. When shopping hit the skids after the financial crisis, there was a lot of talk about a new normal of frugality, as if the only thing possible after a decade-plus of trading up was a generation to come of nothing but trading down. It’s clear now that those prognostications were flawed, not to mention overly pessimistic.

Hasbro Is No Has-Been: Board Games Surge In The Digital Age

Kevin Ohannessian
Jan 25, 2012

Risk has come to Facebook. Scrabble is one of the top iPhone apps. And several board games are enjoying a long life on game consoles. In the digital age, you better be ready to Hasbro-down. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away families had a game night--once a week they'd pull out a stack of boxes from a closet and everyone would flex their knowledge of trivia (Trivial Pursuit), vocabulary (Scrabble), or even their real-estate management skills (Monopoly, natch).

Three Ways to Pull Your Senior Team Together

Jan 25, 2012

Senior management teams set the course for their organizations and are often the leaders who first recognize when big change is needed. These teams are also often made up of people with drastically different styles, personalities, and visions. Bringing these voices into alignment around key goals and opportunities is the essential first step toward accelerating strategic results for the organization.

In Taste, Brand Matters

Martin Bishop
Jan 19, 2012

Some years ago, I hosted a blind tasting beer party where everyone voted for their favorite and least favorite beers from a collection of microbrews and mainstream brands. Although there was no clear winner, there was definitely an outright loser. I was thinking about that party when I read about Coke’s decision to kill its White Coke can before the scheduled end of its holiday season run. This was primarily a story about customer confusion -- there was not enough difference between the White Coke can and the Diet Coke can and people were getting confused and buying the wrong one. But there was a side-story that some people thought that the Coke from the white can did not taste the same/as good as the Coke from the red can. Ridiculous, you might say. Not that surprising, I thought, based on my own experience from that beer-tasting party.


Emma Hutchings
Jan 19, 2012

“Active fiction” publisher Coliloquy launched this week with four young adult ebooks that create a rich, interactive experience for the reader. This development in customizable fiction takes advantage of the digital format to push expectations of “choose-your-own-adventure” stories to new levels. The four new titles from Coliloquy are Heidi R. Kling’s Witch’s Brew (The Spellspinners of Melas County), Kira Snyder’s Dead Letter Office (Parish Mail), Liz Maverick’s Arcania, Trial by Fire #1 (Arcania), and Tawna Fenske’s Getting Dumped. These series, available exclusively in the Amazon Kindle store, reinvent the way authors and their readers interact with books. Coliloquy’s new publishing format enables multiple storylines, serial and episodic story-telling, personalized content, and in-book engagement mechanics, which create a more immersive experience.

Training Yourself To See New Strategic Options

Jan 19, 2012

The strategic choices we make every day are determined by the “strategic narratives” we tell ourselves. We face a challenge and we don’t ask, “What does Porter’s Five Forces tell me to think about?” or “What does Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation model tell me to do?” No, we ask ourselves, “What does this remind me of?”

How IBM's Sam Palmisano Redefined the Global Corporation

Bill George
Jan 19, 2012

In the 20th century, a select group of leaders — General Motor's Alfred Sloan, HP's David Packard and Bill Hewlett, and GE's Jack Welch — set the standard for the way corporations are run. In the 21st century only IBM's Sam Palmisano has done so. When Palmisano retired this month, the media chronicled his success by focusing on IBM's 21% annual growth in earnings per share and its increase in market capitalization to $218 billion. But IBM hasn't flourished because it kowtows to Wall Street. In fact, five years after Palmisano took over, IBM stock was stuck where it had been when his tenure began.

Even Big Companies Cannot Protect Their Data

Jan 18, 2012

Barbara Scott just hit the trifecta of computer security breaches. Since the New Year, Ms. Scott has been a victim of three separate cyberattacks. Two weeks ago, the online auction site eBay said in an e-mail to her that there had been suspicious activity on her account. On Monday, she received an e-mail from Zappos and another from 6PM, two online shoe retailers owned by Amazon. Both messages alerted her that — once again — her information had been compromised.

The End of the Echo Chamber

Farhad Manjoo
Jan 18, 2012

Today, Facebook is publishing a study that disproves some hoary conventional wisdom about the Web. According to this new research, the online echo chamber doesn’t exist. This is of particular interest to me. In 2008, I wrote True Enough, a book that argued that digital technology is splitting society into discrete, ideologically like-minded tribes that read, watch, or listen only to news that confirms their own beliefs. I’m not the only one who’s worried about this. Eli Pariser, the former executive director of MoveOn.org, argued in his recent book The Filter Bubble that Web personalization algorithms like Facebook’s News Feed force us to consume a dangerously narrow range of news. The echo chamber was also central to Cass Sunstein’s thesis, in his book Republic.com, that the Web may be incompatible with democracy itself. If we’re all just echoing our friends’ ideas about the world, is society doomed to become ever more polarized and solipsistic?

The 10 Most Hated Companies in America

Douglas A. McIntyre
Jan 13, 2012

Customers, employees, shareholders and taxpayers hate large corporations for many reasons. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a lengthy list of corporations for which there is substantial research data to choose the 10 most hated in America.

Reel Simple – Unlimited access to local movie theatres

Jan 12, 2012

You already use Netflix for unlimited DVD rentals, Spotify for unlimited music and your gym membership for unlimited elliptical-machine use, so why are you still paying on a film-by-film basis to go to the movie theater? Or so asks MoviePass, a new flat-fee subscription service that allows members all-you-can-watch access to local cinemas.

This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business

Robert Safian
Jan 9, 2012

The business climate, it turns out, is a lot like the weather. And we've entered a next-two-hours era. The pace of change in our economy and our culture is accelerating--fueled by global adoption of social, mobile, and other new technologies--and our visibility about the future is declining. From the rise of Facebook to the fall of Blockbuster, from the downgrading of U.S. government debt to the resurgence of Brazil, predicting what will happen next has gotten exponentially harder. Uncertainty has taken hold in boardrooms and cubicles, as executives and workers (employed and unemployed) struggle with core questions: Which competitive advantages have staying power? What skills matter most? How can you weigh risk and opportunity when the fundamentals of your business may change overnight?

The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives

Eric Jackson
Jan 3, 2012

Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth, Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, published “Why Smart Executives Fail” 8 years ago. In it, he shared some of his research on what over 50 former high-flying companies – like Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Rubbermaid, and Schwinn – did to become complete failures. It turns out that the senior executives at the companies all had 7 Habits in common. Finkelstein calls them the Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.

Why service design is the next big thing in cultural innovation

Rohan Gunatillake
Dec 8, 2011

The lead producer of festivalslab Rohan Gunatillake gives four reasons why new thinking and tools can produce better experiences

Be a Jerk: The Worst Business Lesson from the Steve Jobs Biography

Tom McNichol
Nov 29, 2011

Steve Jobs was a visionary, a brilliant innovator who reshaped entire industries by the force of his will, a genius at giving consumers not only what they wanted, but what they didn't yet know they wanted. He was also a world-class a**hole.

Facebook cuts six degrees of separation to four

Emma Barnett
Nov 22, 2011

Since the American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted his famous ‘small world experiment’ in the 1960s, it has been commonly accepted that most people have six degrees of separation between them. However, a vast new study by Facebook’s data team and the University of Milan, which assessed the relationships between 721 million active users (more than 10 per cent of the global population) of the social network, has found that the average number of connections between people has dropped to four.

How social technologies are extending the organization

Jacques Bughin, Angela Hung Byers, and Michael Chui
Nov 22, 2011

Our fifth annual survey on the way organizations use social tools and technologies finds that they continue to seep into many organizations, transforming business processes and raising performance.

The Truth About Internet Radio

Mike Carson
Nov 17, 2011

With the public offering of Pandora and the recent U.S. launch of European music darling Spotify, as well as the emergence of other startups in the "streaming music" market, a great deal of media attention is focused on the online radio space. All of these music services are readily clumped together as "Internet radio." Streaming radio, is also sometimes called “Internet radio,” and they are essentially interchangeable. They involve delivering music (and/or other audio content) to a device via the Internet as a live stream. Internet radio is the opposite of a download. However, there are different types of services in the Internet radio basket, and many who speak or write about them end up comparing apples and oranges.

Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think

Steven Levy
Nov 14, 2011

The CEO of Amazon.com, in regulation blue oxford shirt and jeans, is sitting in a conference room at his company’s spiffy new headquarters just north of downtown Seattle. It is mid-September, exactly one week before he will introduce a new line of Kindles to the world. He has already shown me two of them—one with a touchscreen, the other costing just $79—but that’s not what’s truly exciting him. It is a third gadget, the long-awaited Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire, that represents his company’s most ambitious leap into the hearts, minds, and wallets of millions of consumers.

The End of Pantyhose?

Libby Copeland
Nov 10, 2011

L’eggs has launched its first ad campaign in 15 years—but it may be too late to pull nylons back from the brink of extinction.

Why Companies Should Listen to Occupy Wall Street

Eric Lowitt
Nov 9, 2011

A friend of mine doesn't have much respect for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and he's hoping the imminent arrival of winter will convince the protesters to pack up their tents and go home. I have a different view. I think companies are missing an opportunity to engage with an important stakeholder. Smart feedback allows companies to move faster, and while the "Occupiers" may seem a little vague about their message and their goals, they represent an important social movement. Companies would be wise to pay close attention.

What's So Great About Ikea, Anyway? Why No One in the World Likes Brands

Tim Fernholz
Nov 9, 2011

What if 70 percent of brands in the world disappeared overnight? Most people wouldn’t care, according to a new study of 50,000 people in 14 global markets performed by Havas Media, an international communications firm.

Why 'Pages' on Google+ Isn't Just Another Facebook

David Berkowitz
Nov 8, 2011

Google+ has been billed as a Facebook killer, its user homepage layout borrows heavily from Facebook, and now there are free self-service branded pages for marketers similar conceptually to what Facebook introduced in November 2007 – almost four years ago to the day. Despite all of this, Google+ is different. This is largely because Facebook the company has only one eponymous flagship product, and Google the company is using Google+ as both a networking hub and a social layer across its diverse suite of digital products.

How Brands Can Maintain Loyalty Among Fickle Digital Consumers

JP Gownder
Oct 28, 2011

Between 2006 and 2010, American brand loyalty has declined sharply. During that same time span, fewer consumers self-reported that “owning the best brand is important to me.” Why did this happen? One glaring reason was that the recession diverted priorities, particularly among the jobless, away from brand names and toward lower prices.

Dove Still Inspiring Women and Girls to see Their Real Beauty

Sheila Shayon
Oct 28, 2011

In 2006, Dove launched its True Colors campaign to spark a global conversation about the definition and perception of beauty among women of all ages. Its research found only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful; and body anxieties begin at an early age with 72% feeling great pressure to be beautiful, when girls feel badly about their looks, 60% disconnect from life, avoiding normal daily activities like attending school or even giving their opinion.

The 7 Iconic, Transparent, Empowering Business Buzzwords That Need To Die

Tim Phillips
Oct 28, 2011

When I started writing a blog to support my book, Talk Normal: Stop the Business Speak, Jargon, and Waffle, I had an inkling that many of the words I loathed were common in the offices where I was working. But this could be an illusion: once we’re bothered by something, we tend to notice it more. So it could be that the business buzzwords that make me cranky are no more significant than the guy who bumps my chair when he walks past--which, on second thought, isn’t a big deal, he’s been doing it for years. Not so, it seems.

It's Time For Apple To Flip The Switch On TV

Kit Eaton
Oct 27, 2011

Apple television rumors have swirled for years. But only now do we know that when speaking to his official biographer, Steve Jobs was keen to reinvent the television. And after ages trying to polish it into a user-friendly interface to video content he finally felt he'd "cracked it." Excitement has grown quickly since this revelation, but one analyst--Gene Munster--has checked with his sources and says that test HDTV prototypes are already in the pipeline, suggesting the device could be en route sooner than we thought.

All That Authenticity May Be Getting Old

Emily Weinstein
Oct 27, 2011

Like so many others her age, Casey Barber, 33, furnished her home with affordable basics from major retailers, pieces like that requisite “Ikea table that is still making the rounds after all these years,” she said. But when it came to accessories, Ms. Barber, a writer and the editor of the Web site Good.Food.Stories., took care to search out the unique and handmade — things that communicated her personality and a certain sense of authenticity.

eBay Opens Scannable Storefront in Manhattan

David Keifaber
Oct 27, 2011

"Happy chic" designer Jonathan Adler took some time away from whatever he's doing now to help put together eBay's first storefront. It's located in New York City, naturally. Each item in the storefront has a QR code; if you scan a code with your eBay phone app, you're directed to a special purchasing page within the app. What's that, you say? No, it's not a slightly more complicated version of browsing the site on your computer. Shut up. It's a dynamic and totally new 24-hour shopping experience.

Beer Brands Feeling a Draught

Renée Alexander
Oct 24, 2011

The days of holding up two fingers to a bartender and getting a couple of glasses filled with generic beer from a tap are long gone. Instead, today’s pub-goers select their frosty-cold beverage from a long row of branded taps and receive their suds in a glass emblazoned with the particular logo. This is not your grandfather’s glass of draught.

The Top Creative Minds in Digital

Gabriel Beltrone
Oct 18, 2011

Unleashed into the digital wilds, creatives have responded with innovative, far-reaching ideas that leverage interactive’s unique attributes. We look at some of the people best utilizing the new technologies to create work that stands out amidst today’s multimedia clutter.

Tech Tops in Creating Emotional Connection

Judann Pollack
Oct 17, 2011

When it comes to brand love, consumers are notoriously fickle -- particularly when it comes to technology. That's apparent when combing New Media Metrics' Leap Index, which measures emotional attachment to brands to predict purchase behavior.

You Are What You Meme

Sam Leith
Oct 17, 2011

Have you met Maru? No? Maru is a cat. A cute cat. Is there anything special about Maru, apart from the cuteness, which, if we’re honest, he has in common with quite a few other cats? Maru is just a cat. But he’s also more than just a cat. Maru is a bellwether of the state of the culture. Maru is a meme.

Birth of a Salesman

Richard L Brandt
Oct 17, 2011

Jeffrey Preston Bezos was 4 years old when he first arrived at his grandfather's cattle ranch in Cotulla, Texas. The Lazy G is a sprawling 25,000-acre spread in the southwest part of the state—an unspoiled habitat of mesquite and oak trees, the home of whitetail deer (popular among local hunters), wild turkeys, doves, quail, feral hogs and sheep.

Steve Jobs's Legacy - And The Next Tech War

Robert Safian
Oct 14, 2011

In a few days Fast Company’s next magazine issue will begin arriving in newsstands and mailboxes. The issue has four different covers, and one of them features a picture of Steve Jobs. But this is not a commemorative obituary. In fact, the issue had already been printed at our plant when Jobs passed away. Instead the magazine offers a forward-looking analysis of what’s next for Apple--and how it will be battling with America’s three other favorite tech companies: Amazon, Facebook, and Google. We’ve dubbed this coming clash “The Great Tech War of 2012.”

As Economy Darkens, Google Is Booming

Cotton Delo
Oct 14, 2011

If we're headed into a second-dip of the recession, no one told Google. The company turned in a 33% surge in revenue in the third quarter on big increases in search, display, and increasingly, mobile advertising.

Steve Jobs and the Evolution of the Apple Logo: "Don't Make it Cute"

Abe Sauer
Oct 10, 2011

One constant of the outpouring of grief over the death of Steve Jobs has been modified Apple logos, including creative use of apples in front of Apple stores. What few realize is that this capacity to fiddle with Apple's most recognizable bit of brand identity, and at the same time not lose any of that identity, speaks to the power of even the simplest element of what the Apple brand is.

Steve Jobs's Legacy: Design Your Own Life

Nilofer Merchant
Oct 6, 2011

While there are many things worth celebrating of Steve Jobs's life, the greatest gift Steve gave us is a way to design our own lives.

Here's Why Nike Is Setting Up Its New VC Fund

Kim Bhasin
Sep 28, 2011

Nike is setting up a a venture capital fund -- the Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab -- to invest in startups working on alternative energy and green innovation, reports Bloomberg.

Why Target’s Cheap-Chic Glamour Is Fading

Matt Townsend
Sep 26, 2011

On a conference call earlier this year while discussing Target’s (TGT) 2011 same-store sales forecast, Chief Financial Officer Douglas Scovanner noted that his company’s biggest rival, Wal-Mart (WMT), had been taking heat from Wall Street for its weak retailing performance. The largest player in the marketplace had yet another quarter of negative same-store sales, he said: “People are picking on my big brother.” For years, Target has benefited from such comparisons. Target’s merchandise was trendier, its commercials hipper, its employees happier—or so the meme went. Of late, however, Target has found it increasingly difficult to tell that story.

Prepare Yourselves: Facebook To Be Profoundly Changed

Ben Parr
Sep 22, 2011

Facebook is driven by a single, unique goal. Its priority isn’t to gain more users (it already has 750 million of those), nor does it feel compelled to find stupid ways to increase pageviews. Its primary goal right now isn’t to increase revenue, either — that will come later. No, Facebook’s goal is to become the social layer that supports, powers and connects every single piece of the web, no matter who or what it is or where it lives.

WSJ Social, For a World Where Facebook Is the New Internet

Jeff Bercovici
Sep 20, 2011

Is Facebook a friend of news companies, or is it a rival? No matter how much success publishers have piggybacking off its traffic, they can’t escape the cruel math: The more of their time consumers spend on Facebook and other social networking hubs, the less they have left over for news sites.

'Listen' To Facebook Initiative

All Things Digital
Sep 20, 2011

Exactly what Facebook plans to debut later this week at its f8 conference isn't clear, but it's reportedly big, and will likely reshape the site's core experience with new "read," "watch," and "listen" buttons.

Netflix's Bold Disruptive Innovation

Adam Richardson
Sep 20, 2011

Every now and then, the business world presents us with a lab experiment that we can observe in realtime. Netflix's announcement that it is splitting off its DVD-by-mail business from its streaming business is just such an experiment.

Uh Oh … Qwikster Already Has A Lively Twitter Account, But It’s Not Owned By Netflix

Alexia Tsotsis
Sep 19, 2011

Movie delivery service Netflix has just announced that it is rebranding its DVD-by-mail service as Qwikster and that it will keep calling its streaming service Netflix. Shocking news yes, but already the Internet has found one immediate chink in the company’s rebranded armor, other than the fact that, like a multitude of other failed companies, the name ends in “ster” …

Plum TV Dying on the Vine

Sheila Shayon
Sep 13, 2011

Plum TV appears to be dying on the vine — and on the Vineyard, as the lifestyle channel geared at America's playgrounds of the wealthy is in the pits of despair

Ben & Jerry's Isn't Kidding With Schweddy Balls Release

Shirley Brady
Sep 8, 2011

Proving, once again, they've got a sense of humor, the marketing wags at Ben & Jerry's are rolling out a limited edition ice-cream flavor in the US: Schweddy Balls, named for a punning 2007 Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin as a guest a fictitious NPR radio show ("Delicious Dish").

Starbucks' Howard Schultz and how to Restore Confidence

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Sep 8, 2011

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's message about finding common grounds for action has nothing to do with coffee grounds. Shultz is on a campaign to restore confidence in America and the American economy. He wants to ignite a contagious upward spiral of confidence.

Should the New Yorker change?

Seth Godin
Sep 1, 2011

For the first time in its history, the editors at The New Yorker know which articles are being read. And they know who's reading them.

The iPhone 5 Will Be Cool, but Probably Not This Cool

Tim Nudd
Aug 30, 2011

People are getting antsy for the iPhone 5—agitated, even. And all the anticipation may be building the mythical gadget into something greater than it is—people may end up being disappointed if it doesn't wipe your bottom along with everything else.

A New Model for Business: The Museum

Carmen Nobel
Aug 25, 2011

At first blush, the consumer appeal of a business like Groupon seems pretty obvious. The popular deal-of-the-day Internet start-up sells vouchers to restaurants, spas, and other local businesses at major markdowns--and who wouldn't want to score a 100-dollar sports massage for 50 bucks?

What Marketers Can Learn from the Food-Truck Trend

Grant McCracken
Aug 24, 2011

The American consumer is changeable. He wants X. No, he wants Y. Never mind, he wants Z. We used to quiz him with focus groups and mall intercepts. But these days, he's not sure. It's not that he won't tell us. It's just that he can't.

At This Girls’ Camp, Crafts Take a Drill Press

Motoko Rich
Aug 19, 2011

Forget tie-dyed shirts, lanyards and water games. At summer camp this year, Nautika Kotero, 13, learned to use a drill press, solder electrical wires and build a lamp.

How IBM Is Changing Its HR Game

Cathy N. Davidson
Aug 18, 2011

As IBM celebrates its 100th birthday, many observers are rightly calling attention to the many strategic changes the company put itself through to remain relevant amidst dramatic technological and economic change. But one of the biggest transformations IBM went through is less about computers and more about culture. Over the last decade and a half, the company has realigned its HR practices and strategies to move away from the analog ways of the past and to embrace a variety of 21st century approaches, including some highly unconventional ones.

The London Riots and the Future of Social Media

Gill Corkindale
Aug 16, 2011

While there are many theories for the underlying reasons for the the riots — social inequality, the economic crisis, gang culture, opportunism and the failings of capitalism to name a few — but there is little doubt that technology and social media were the great enablers of the rioters and the criminality that ensued.

The Elusive Big Idea

Neal Gabler
Aug 15, 2011

The July/August issue of The Atlantic trumpets the “14 Biggest Ideas of the Year.” Take a deep breath. The ideas include “The Players Own the Game” (No. 12), “Wall Street: Same as it Ever Was” (No. 6), “Nothing Stays Secret” (No. 2), and the very biggest idea of the year, “The Rise of the Middle Class — Just Not Ours,” which refers to growing economies in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Now exhale. It may strike you that none of these ideas seem particularly breathtaking. In fact, none of them are ideas. They are more on the order of observations. But one can’t really fault The Atlantic for mistaking commonplaces for intellectual vision. Ideas just aren’t what they used to be.

Levi’s Takes Go Forth Campaign Global

Mark J. Miller
Aug 10, 2011

Levi Strauss is working hard to make itself a global brand. To that end, Levi’s has been beefing up its human capital, the better to bring its global campaign and corporate citizenship message to the world.

Will nostalgia destroy pop culture?

Thomas Rogers
Aug 9, 2011

Over the last decade, American culture has been overtaken by a curious, overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Everywhere you look, there seems to be some new form of revivalism going on. The charts are dominated by old-school-sounding acts like Adele and Mumford & Sons. The summer concert schedule is dominated by reunion tours. TV shows like VH1's "I Love the 90s" allow us to endlessly rehash the catchphrases of the recent past. And, thanks to YouTube and iTunes, new forms of music and pop culture are facing increasing competition from the ever-more-accessible catalog of older acts.

Ad Money Reliably Goes to Television

Brian Stelter
Aug 8, 2011

The economy is faltering and consumers are scared, but you wouldn’t know it by watching television, where advertisers are still pouring in money.

How Social Technology Is Remaking Business, Branding And Customers

Simon Mainwaring
Aug 5, 2011

There is a fundamental shift that social media necessitates in business today – the need to transition from “Me First” to “We First” thinking. For decades Me First thinking and behavior has dominated how we have conducted business, treated the environment, and how consumers and brands have interacted. Despite decades of short-term profits, the long-term consequences of this approach have been catastrophic. They include the economic meltdown of 2008, the global recession, and the persistent economic problems that plague countries and societies around the world today. As a result, there is a growing awareness that we must begin shifting business towards a more collective and socially responsible mentality in which companies and consumers think about building a better world as much as they think about profits. Given this, the question is, how can brands move towards this responsible and collective mentality? The answer is, by adopting We First thinking.

Death To Pseudo-Scarcity, The Marketing Angle That Targets Snobby Suckers

Mike Hoban
Aug 4, 2011

The label on the bag of coffee stated that it was "private reserve" as if it were a glorious handmade cabernet sauvignon that had been lovingly and fastidiously set aside by the proprietor and made available to an appreciative soul such as me who had discerning taste and an extra dollar or two to spend on a hedonistic treat.

Kinect Hackers Are Changing the Future of Robotics

Jason Tanz
Aug 3, 2011

For 25 years, the field of robotics has been bedeviled by a fundamental problem: If a robot is to move through the world, it needs to be able to create a map of its environment and understand its place within it. Roboticists have developed tools to accomplish this task, known as simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM. But the sensors required to build that map have traditionally been either expensive and bulky or cheap and inaccurate. Laser arrays cost a few thousand dollars and weigh several pounds, and the images they capture are only two-dimensional. Stereo cameras are less expensive, lighter, and can construct 3-D maps, but they require a massive amount of computing power. Until a reasonably priced, easier method could be designed, autonomous robots were trapped in the lab.

Five Reasons Google+ Is Exploding -- and Could Actually Hurt Facebook

Simon Dumenco
Jul 25, 2011

So Google+ obviously has some traction. Just a few weeks after its launch, Google CEO Larry Page revealed that the nascent social network already had 10 million users. But will it ultimately blow up enough -- and matter enough -- to become a problem for Facebook? Yeah, I think so. (Ad Age Managing Editor Ken Wheaton isn't so sure.) Here's why:

Why Spotify Will Kill iTunes

Maxwell Wessel
Jul 25, 2011

iTunes as we know it is over. It is walking, talking, and continuing to pretend it's alive, but Spotify, Europe's outrageously successful streaming music product, has just shown us the future.

50 Social Media Stats to Kickstart Your Slide Deck

Sarah Evans
Jul 20, 2011

1. "Social media accounts for one out of every six minutes spent online in US." (Journalism.co.uk) 2. "Seventy-seven percent report that they use social media to share their love of a show; 65% use it as a platform to help save their favorite shows; and 35% use it to try to introduce new shows to their friends." (TVGuide.com study via TVNewsCheck.com) 3. "Facebook users are overall more trusting than non-internet others. Pew reported, 43% of survey participants were more likely than other internet users to feel that most people can be trusted." (Pew Internet via Social Media Club)

What Google+ Means For Google And You

Victoria Barret
Jul 15, 2011

Recently I had a chance to catch up with Vic Gundotra, one of the chiefs behind Google’s new social networking service, Google+. I was interested in what Google+ means for our relationships online and off. We shape technology, but it also shapes us. As Google+ blossoms (and today Larry Page confirmed the site has over 10 million members sharing one billion items daily, even in its very limited trial phase) these themes merit mulling. Gundotra offered up lots of insight, and a glimpse into the future of a very different search experience.

Coming to Terms with the Consumerization of IT

R "Ray" Wang
Jul 14, 2011

The corporate e-mail server is down, but work doesn't grind to a halt. Everybody just switches to Gmail, Skype, or BB Chat to get around the inconvenience. For the most part, they're using these consumer technologies at work already — often because they're better than anything the IT department can provide.

The Surprising (Content) Future of Google+

Ian Schafer
Jul 13, 2011

I have been spending time on Google+ since its launch, and though people on Google+ are talking a lot about Google+ (isn't that breaking the first rule of fight club?) every day I begin to see its potential take it into different directions – not based upon the platform itself, but rather, based upon its interoperability with Google's other properties. Seamless YouTube video integration. Real-time photo sharing via Google Photos. Music library streaming via Google Music. Document sharing. Connections via Google Talk. Surely, more features will be rolled out over the coming weeks to millions of users still trying to figure out the purpose of the platform. And that's the beauty of platforms – the users get to figure out how they are ultimately used, and shape their evolution.

What Google's Quiet Failure Says About Its Innovation Health

Michael Schrage
Jul 11, 2011

Let social media mavens debate whether Google+ will succeed as a 'Facebook killer' where Buzz did not. I think they'd benefit from a quick look back at a failed innovation Google quietly DNR'ed. It offers a sobering reality check for anyone who believes that great people, great skills, great wealth, a great brand, and a great opportunity invariably lead to great innovation, They don't. Not even for Google. There's a valuable lesson here.

Back to the coffee house

Jul 8, 2011

The internet is taking the news industry back to the conversational culture of the era before mass media.

Percolate: The Microblogging Platform Where Tumblr And Twitter Go To Hang Out

Austin Carr
Jul 8, 2011

The startup, currently in its "double secret alpha" version, taps into your RSS and Twitter feeds, culls content based on your interests--the stuff that "percolates up"--and then lets you share your thoughts on the subject with friends.

Inventing the Future of Management is Everybody's Job

Polly La Barre
Jul 8, 2011

The whole world seems to have woken up to the notion that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. Exhibit A is the effort to write a new constitution in Iceland where the surge of crowdsourcing, mass collaboration, co-creation, and open innovation initiatives is seeking to channel those ideas and leverage that talent in every realm of endeavor. But when it comes to taking those ideas and turning them into a comprehensive view of the future, a compelling set of priorities, and a genuinely involving and ongoing collaboration with a community of stakeholders, there aren't many instructive models.

Curation, Community and the Future of News

Steven Rosenbaum
Jun 24, 2011

Thinking back, I've always considered news as a dialogue rather than a monologue. I've preferred conversations to speeches. That said, I don't often hang out on street corners or in neighborhood bars partaking in random conversations about the weather or the Mets. I like my conversations curated.

How Talbots Grew—and Lost—Its Customers

Ashley Lutz
Jun 22, 2011

It's one of the toughest challenges in retailing: appealing to new, often younger customers without alienating shoppers who have long been loyal fans. When the transition is handled badly, things can go south in a hurry. Ask Talbots, which tried to entice thirtysomethings with cocktail dresses and frilly tank tops and left the pearl-wearing career women who had shopped there for decades feeling jilted.

Don't Get Stuck in the Cloud

Robert Plant
Jun 21, 2011

Cloud computing offers a value proposition based on convenient services that you pay for as you go. Customized solutions can be offered in a flexible and secure environment. Companies can offload their noncore technologies and focus on their core businesses, providing a better product for their customers. But cloud computing is based on the premise that users will always have access to the cloud service.

Local Food or Less Meat? Data Tells The Real Story

Andrew Winston
Jun 20, 2011

In recent years, one part of the food business has rivaled organics as the hot growth area: "local" food (defined vaguely as coming from the same state or from less than 100 miles away, for example). It's a market segment that has just about doubled in sales and number of outlets over the last decade. The world's biggest food buyer, Wal-Mart, jumped on the bandwagon last fall and announced that it would double the amount of local food it sells (to 9 percent of all its food sales). The idea of buying locally is not new, and farmers' markets have been big for years. It's become almost gospel that the food on our plates has traveled about 1500 miles to get to us. So it would seem logical that the best way to shrink your food-related carbon footprint associated would be to buy from near by. But it turns out that this assumption is wrong.

In China, Women Begin Splurging

Laurie Burkitt
Jun 13, 2011

Italian jeweler Bulgari SpA and sports-car maker Maserati SpA have succeeded in China largely by portraying themselves as the ultimate male status symbols. But the two recently joined a growing number of luxury brands in China that have revamped their marketing tactics to also appeal to self-made female entrepreneurs, a rapidly emerging market segment that also wants high-end baubles and toys.

Diversity Management is the Key to Growth: Make It Authentic

Glenn Llopis
Jun 13, 2011

Diversity management is the key to growth in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace. No longer can America’s corporations hide behind their lack of cultural intelligence. Organizations that seek global market relevancy must embrace diversity – in how they think, act and innovate. Diversity can no longer just be about making the numbers, but rather how an organization treats its people authentically down to the roots of its business model. In today’s new workplace, diversity management is a time-sensitive business imperative.

Huffington Post Beats The New York Times As Top News Website

Piers Fawkes
Jun 10, 2011

Another pointer to the road ahead – the leading news website in the United States delivers its content online rather in print.

Former Pabst Execs Speak Out Against New Brand Owners

Mark J Miller
Jun 7, 2011

Executives usually don’t badmouth their former companies, but the ones that are no longer with Pabst Blue Ribbon after it was sold last year to billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos and his two sons don’t mince words. “If our core PBR drinker knew that what they were drinking is owned by guys like these, it's the last beer they'd want to drink,” stated the former director of marketing to the Chicago Tribune.

TOMS Rebrands in Next Giant Step for Good

Sheila Shayon
Jun 7, 2011

TOMS Shoes is ready to kick off the "Shoes" in its brand identity, rebranding with a campaign (which we previewed in March) dubbed "What's Your Next Chapter?" that will be unveiled in a series of events with its partners across the US tomorrow.

New App From Bono's ONE To Mobilize Activists

Morgan Clendaniel
Jun 2, 2011

The age of boots-on-the-ground activism has largely been passed over for organizing into Facebook groups and online petitions. And while those things are good ways to motivate people, real world action still works. ONE's new iPhone app lets you sign petitions, but also makes it easy to do things like call the White House or even helps give you information on how to get out to a real live protest. And--of course--there are plans to gameify everything. Prepare to compete for the title of most involved activist.

Globalization in the World We Live in Now: World 3.0

Pankaj Ghemawat
Jun 1, 2011

So far, 2011 has been a remarkable year. With events like those that have changed the power dynamics throughout the Arab world, or the tsunami in Japan that disrupted many global supply chains, it's http://www.unboundedition.com/admin/articlelinks/articlelink/add/easy to think that the world is becoming ever more connected and interdependent.

The Lack of Cultural Intelligence is Damaging Our Enterprises and Our Economy

Glenn Llopis
May 31, 2011

More and more leaders are scared for their business. Not because their products and services are not innovative or relevant, but because they just don’t connect naturally with the changing face of America’s consumers.

Jane Pratt, Unbound and Ready for the Web

Joanne Kaufman
May 19, 2011

The model Veronica Webb made charming faces at the camera. Michael Stipe, the lead vocalist for R.E.M., cozied up to a snake. The actor David Arquette designed a T-shirt that read: “I love. Therefore I am.” Friends of the former magazine editor Jane Pratt, they and other members of the Pratt Pack — the rapper Estelle; the designer Isaac Mizrahi; and the models Carol Alt, Helena Christensen and Crystal Renn — showed up last month for a series of photo shoots at Drive-In Studios to help promote xoJane.com, Ms. Pratt’s new Web site, which went live on Monday.

How Cultural Movements can drive the Baby Boomers

Scott Goodson
May 19, 2011

The New York Times has reported that brands have started to turn their attention to the one group of people amongst us who may still have disposable income during these times of recession – the over 50s. And for good reason. Statistics show that they not only have more money to spare, they earn more, spend more and have more job security than younger consumers. They also avidly consume more media.

Check Out the Future of Shopping

Ann Zimmerman
May 18, 2011

A device that looks like a smartphone is making supermarket shoppers—and stores—happier. Perched on the handle of the shopping cart, it scans grocery items as the customer adds them to the cart.

Branding Louis Vuitton: Behind the World's Most Famous Luxury Label

Derek Thompson
May 17, 2011

You know the bag. The chocolate-brown leather canvas emblazoned with quatrefoils and the LV monogram is immediately recognizable as the international symbol of globetrotting luxury. The Louis Vuitton brand is the most valuable brand in luxury, according to a new study from Millward Brown. But in a world with knock offs on street tables from New York to New Dehli and rappers like Kanye West pronouncing himself the "Louis Vuitton don," how does the world's most famous luxury brand protect its image?

Let Us Now Praise Uncertainty

Tony Schwartz
May 11, 2011

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a conflict with someone in my work life. I felt he had clearly violated an agreement we'd made. My first reaction was righteous indignation. In this case, I believed the person at work had acted badly. I was right, and he was wrong. My goal was to get him to see it my way. A few days later, we had a chance to sit down together. Not surprisingly, the conversation was awkward at first. Then, to my surprise, as he explained himself, I felt myself beginning to understand why he made the choice he did.

BMW Launches Lab With Guggenheim

Karl Greenberg
May 10, 2011

Last October, BMW introduced a six-year project with the Guggenheim Museum -- the BMW Guggenheim Lab -- aimed at developing new ideas for design and urban living. On Friday, the company unveiled specifics at an event at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Lab, designed by Japanese architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow, will be an open-air installation featuring an open-air loft built largely of carbon fiber (a substance BMW plans to use in its vehicles) and designed almost as a theater space with elements that can drop down from the overhead space, a kind of Swiss Army knife of cultural props and media implements.

Penguin CEO Adjusts to E-Books but Sees Room for the Old

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
May 9, 2011

Few publishing executives have gotten a closer look at how quickly digital technology is transforming businesses around the globe than John Makinson, chief executive of Pearson PLC's book publishing arm, Penguin Group. The house publishes 4,000 fiction and nonfiction titles globally, and does business in a wide variety of markets, including India. Deciding how and where to sell those books is significantly more complicated than when Mr. Makinson took over as CEO in 2002. At the time, e-books were a minor enterprise, and the full impact of online discounting hadn't yet been felt.

Luxury Brands Stake Out New Department Store Turf

Rachel Dodes And Christina Passariello
May 6, 2011

As the luxury market rebounds, powerful global brands including Gucci, Prada and Dior are starting to press for more control over the way their products are presented and sold in U.S. department stores.

Bain: Luxury Sales Expected To Gain 8% This Year

Sarah Mahoney
May 5, 2011

The rich aren't just back, they're really back: Worldwide spending on luxury goods is expected to increase 8% this year, according to the latest forecast from Bain & Co.

‘Original Maker’ Martha Stewart Talks Tablets, Magazines and Books

Sam Gustin
May 4, 2011

In many ways, Martha Stewart, lifestyle mogul extraordinaire, is the original maker.

How The Chinese Became Global Branding Geniuses

Martin Lindstrom
Apr 29, 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.

Five Inspiring Ideas, From MoMA's Chief Design Mind And A Leader In Game Development

Dan Golden
Apr 29, 2011

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.

The South: A Red-Hot Brand

Eric Spitznagel
Apr 28, 2011

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.

Why CEOs Should Watch the Royal Wedding

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Apr 25, 2011

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.

Tune Out, Turn Off: A Mantra Needed for Our Times?

Andrew McAfee
Apr 25, 2011

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.

Experience Co-creation

Francis Gouillart
Apr 18, 2011

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.

Why We Need Storytellers at the Heart of Product Development

Sarah Doody
Apr 15, 2011

There's an interesting question on Quora right now: If you had to pick between an amazing product designer or an amazing engineer to build a new company around, which would you pick and why? This question reflects a painful problem that is common at both small startups and large corporate organizations. Far too often, teams focus on execution before defining the product opportunity and unique value proposition. The result is a familiar set of symptoms including scope creep, missed deadlines, overspent budgets, frustrated teams and, ultimately, confused users. The root cause of these symptoms is the fact that execution focuses on the how and what of a product. But in a world where consumers are inundated with choices, products that want to be noticed and adopted must be rooted in the why.

China's Luxury Consumers Grow Up

Max Magni and Yuval Atsmon
Apr 12, 2011

Luxury goods marketers in China received some good news last month. After the country's annual policy planning meeting, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming announced that Beijing would soon reduce tariffs and cut red tape on luxury goods imports. The decisions are in line with other policies that will stimulate domestic consumption and, the government hopes, will chip away at the globally contentious trade surplus that China enjoys.

The Core Tenets of the Social Web, 25 Years in the Making

Alexandra Samuel
Apr 12, 2011

We like to think of the social web as green fields in which we are just now sowing best practices and first principles. After all, if there are no hard-and-fast rules, then anything goes. We get to come up with our own laws and axioms and declarations of "here's how it's done." But if you look at the longer history of the social web, it's clear that some principles have been around for a long time. And nothing brings those principles into focus like a look at the social web's first big controversy, all the way back in 1987: The Great Renaming.

YouTube Recasts for New Viewers

Jessica E. Vascellaro, Amir Efrati and Ethan Smith
Apr 7, 2011

Google Inc. is working on a major overhaul of YouTube as it tries to position itself for the rise of televisions that let people watch online video in their living rooms, according to people familiar with the matter. YouTube is looking to compete with broadcast and cable television, some of these people said, a goal that requires it to entice users to stay on the website longer, and to convince advertisers that it will reach desirable consumers.

When the Data Struts Its Stuff

Natasha Singer
Apr 4, 2011

In an uncharted world of boundless data, information designers are our new navigators. They are computer scientists, statisticians, graphic designers, producers and cartographers who map entire oceans of data and turn them into innovative visual displays, like rich graphs and charts, that help both companies and consumers cut through the clutter. These gurus of visual analytics are making interactive data synonymous with attractive data.

Why the Cloud Is Actually the Safest Place for Your Data

Simon Crosby
Mar 30, 2011

Worried about your data? If you’re not, you’re kidding yourself. It’s become clear over the past few months that the risk of security breaches has reached a new and frightening level — from sophisticated tools in the hands of national governments and organized crime to spontaneous attacks harnessing the resources of thousands of loosely connected vigilantes. Add to that the dizzying array of devices now used to access, move and store data. Security strategies that seemed airtight only a few years ago now look like so much Swiss cheese.

Content Yawn

Annie Lowrey and Angela Tchou
Mar 28, 2011

Content farms are to online media what tabloids are to print. Neither journalism nor advertising, they are a trashy and addictive product, sussing out what we really want in order to give us something we don't really need—and, in so doing, telling us something important about ourselves.

Why CSR Is Not a Revolutionary Concept

Aman Singh
Mar 25, 2011

Remember a recent post that began with the words “I’m peeved“? I was peeved by an executive’s failure to understand that diversity is part of social responsibility. Well, it set off quite a chain reaction in the blogosphere, with many publications and bloggers offering their own take on the issues. What caught most everyone’s attention, however, was its argument over terminology. What is CSR?

Cause-Tied Marketing Requires Care

Emily Steel
Mar 22, 2011

From a Lady Gaga prayer bracelet to special sushi rolls at restaurants, the disaster in Japan has led to a rash of relief efforts. But as consumers become increasingly skeptical of cause-related marketing, celebrities, organizations and major marketers have to walk a fine line, trying to help without appearing to exploit the tragedy for profits.

Most Say They'd Feel Little or No Impact If Newspapers Closed

Mar 17, 2011

39% of people surveyed said they would feel no impact if their local newspapers shut down. 30% said it would have a minor impact, but only 28% said the impact would be major, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. About three-quarters of respondents to the survey of 2,251 U.S. adults said they wouldn't be willing to pay anything for online news if their newspapers failed to survive.

The Future of Mobile Gadgets

Farhad Manjoo
Mar 17, 2011

How many will we carry? What will they look like? What will they do?

Zappos Shoes CEO Tony Hsieh Wants to Be Your Soul Provider

Jeffrey Ferenstein
Mar 15, 2011

At SXSW, the chief of one of America's favorite online shoe stores lets Fast Company in on his newest idea, a lifestyle and business brand with partner Jenn Lim named after his bestselling business book, "Delivering Happiness."

Why Warner's Movie Test on Facebook Is Such Serious Business

Michael Learmonth
Mar 11, 2011

You could argue Warner Bros.' test to rent, and soon sell, "The Dark Knight" and other films on Facebook is just another promotional deal on the world's largest social network. But it isn't, and that's why it sent shivers through the media industry: not for what the deal is today but for what it could easily mean.

Has Apple’s Brand Reached a Tipping Point?

John Dragoon
Mar 8, 2011

To no one’s surprise, including mine, Apple once again has the industry all abuzz about their latest innovation – the iPad2. After months of speculation and free press, Apple unveiled—through their charismatic and enigmatic leader, Steve Jobs—how they intend to extend their dominance over the rapidly expanding tablet market with the iPad2. As much as I admire Apple’s relentless pursuit and delivery of innovation, it’s their stranglehold on customer sentiment and the media in particular that I find even more impressive and, frankly, enviable. The question is, “Is it sustainable?”

Banking on Women and Girls: Key to Global Poverty Alleviation

Mary Ellen Iskenderian
Mar 8, 2011

On this 100th International Women's Day, it is right to reflect on how women have become the heart of the microfinance industry. It is easy to forget that the initial motivation for microfinance roughly 30 years ago was, to a great extent, gender neutral.

Send in the Clouds

Ashlee Vance
Mar 8, 2011

Cloud technology isn’t hype anymore: Businesses are moving computing work to the cloud. And with trillions of tech dollars at stake, it’s war up there. Here are the tech companies battling for their piece of the market.

The Most Important Management Trends of the (Still Young) Twenty-First Century

Sean Silverthorne
Mar 1, 2011

HBS Working Knowledge recently celebrated its tenth birthday, and we mark the occasion by looking back and looking forward. We've asked HBS Dean Nitin Nohria and a number of faculty to both remark on what they view as the most significant business management ideas of the first decade of the twenty-first century, and then to tell us what they hope will be the most fertile areas of business research between now and 2020.

Web's Hot New Commodity: Privacy

Julia Angwin and Emily Steele
Feb 28, 2011

As the surreptitious tracking of Internet users becomes more aggressive and widespread, tiny start-ups and technology giants alike are pushing a new product: privacy.

And The Award For The Most Dead Entertainment Medium Goes To… The Web

Paul Carr
Feb 28, 2011

You Californians sure seem obsessed with this “Oscar” thing. As I write these words, every one of my friends with a 9x zip code is dressed to the nines, snarking their way through one of the forty three billion Academy Awards parties taking place across the state. I am not amongst them: partly because I am unforgivably late with this column, partly because I haven’t seen any of the movies nominated for the major categories, and partly because watching Anne Hathaway and James Franco (pictured left) being funny is like watching a Chuck Lorre remake of Joanie Loves Chachi.

Nestlé: Between Food and Pharma

Jennifer Sokolowsky
Feb 28, 2011

Nestlé is a worldwide brand probably known best as a maker of chocolate, not exactly a health food. But the brand is making a serious push to become a global power in the emerging industry of foods that are not just healthy, but that offer specific medical and health benefits.

Social Progress = Economic Success: Social Innovation at Work

Jason Sylva
Feb 24, 2011

In recent months, business leaders been embarking on a new conversation in the U.S. about how our business, government and consumers will meet challenges around the environments, infrastructure, and of course, the economy.

The Rise Of The Chief Customer Officer

Paul Hagen
Feb 22, 2011

Over the past five years Forrester Research has observed an increase in the number of companies with a single executive leading customer experience efforts across a business unit or an entire company. These individuals often serve as top executives, with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate and improve customer experiences across every customer interaction. And whether firms call them Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) or give them some other label, these leaders sit at high levels of power at companies as diverse as Allstate, Dunkin' Brands, Oracle and USAA.

Clay Christensen's Milkshake Marketing

Carmen Noble
Feb 17, 2011

When planning new products, companies often start by segmenting their markets and positioning their merchandise accordingly. This segmentation involves either dividing the market into product categories, such as function or price, or dividing the customer base into target demographics, such as age, gender, education, or income level. Unfortunately, neither way works very well, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, who notes that each year 30,000 new consumer products are launched—and 95 percent of them fail.

On Governing By Design

Paolla Antonelli
Feb 15, 2011

Design is an inescapable dimension of human activity. To adapt one of my favorite quotes by Reyner Banham, like the weather it is always there, but we speak about it only when it is exceptionally bad or exceptionally good.

Kids' TV: Disney Channel's preschool programming switches message to social values

Yvonne Villarreal
Feb 14, 2011

As the network replaces 'Playhouse Disney' with 'Disney Jr.,' preschool shows will shift emphasis from teaching ABCs and 1-2-3s to imparting social values in their storytelling.

The connected company

Dave Gray
Feb 10, 2011

The average life expectancy of a human being in the 21st century is about 67 years. Do you know what the average life expectancy for a company is? Surprisingly short, it turns out. In a recent talk, John Hagel pointed out that the average life expectancy of a company in the S&P 500 has dropped precipitously, from 75 years (in 1937) to 15 years in a more recent study. Why is the life expectancy of a company so low? And why is it dropping?

Forgive Me Father, For I Haz App

Sheila Shayon
Feb 10, 2011

The Catholic Church has endorsed its first mobile app: "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," now available on iTunes for $1.99.

Why We Invested in Groupon: The Power of Data

Reid Hoffman and James Slavet
Feb 9, 2011

Groupon has been written about a lot in the media. Most of the coverage has been extremely positive, like a Forbes cover which called Groupon “The Fastest Growing Company Ever.” Other articles question whether Groupon is a defensible business built for the long-haul. Late last year we boarded a Chicago-bound plane, along with a couple of our colleagues, for an initial meeting with the company to form our own opinion.

Private-Label Beers Take a Shot at Earning Joe Sixpack's Respect

David Kesmodel
Feb 8, 2011

Anyone care for a Buck Range Light or a Big Flats? Few beer drinkers have heard that question. But the new brands from retail giants Supervalu Inc. and Walgreen Co. are part of a growing effort by chain stores to make a hit of private-label beer, a category that has proved difficult for retailers.

Enlighten us!

Michael Maiello
Feb 4, 2011

America needs poets and thinkers as well as engineers.

When Your Brand Gets Caught in a Revolution

Scott Henderson
Feb 4, 2011

#1 Thing You Need to Learn from This Post: Your brand is at greater danger for its complicity in events on other side of the world than for a social media blunder.

Obama: “We Are a Nation of Google and Facebook”

Vadim Lavrusik
Jan 26, 2011

In addressing American innovation in the State of the Union Address, President Obama called America a nation of Google and Facebook. The mention is significant not only because Obama has been known for leveraging social media, but also the timing of the mention.

For Magazines, a Bitter Pill in iPad

Jeremy W. Peters
Jan 18, 2011

The frustration that the country’s magazine and newspaper publishers feel toward Apple can sound a lot like a variation on the old relationship gripe, “can’t live with ’em, may get left behind without ’em.”

Making culture, provoking culture

Grant McCracken
Jan 18, 2011

Social worlds tend to settle. And once they settle, a fine coating of inevitability forms around them. Who is what to whom under what circumstances as constrained by what rules, eventually this is completely "done." We’re weighted down by stasis.

"Alone Together": An MIT Professor's New Book Urges Us to Unplug

David Zax
Jan 14, 2011

Sherry Turkle, has been an ethnographer of our technological world for three decades, hosted all the while at one of its epicenters: MIT. A professor of the social studies of science and technology there, she also heads up its Initiative on Technology and Self. Her new book, Alone Together, completes a trilogy of investigations into the ways humans interact with technology. It can be, at times, a grim read. Fast Company spoke recently with Turkle about connecting, solitude, and how that compulsion to always have your BlackBerry on might actually be hurting your company's bottom line.

Colbert Pits Vampire Weekend Against Black Keys in 'Sellout-Off' for His Grammy Vote

Nat Ives
Jan 13, 2011

New hit music has become about as indispensable to commercials as commercials have become to the modern music business. So why shouldn't the Grammy Awards recognize how popular bands were on Madison Avenue in the past year?

The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value

Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer
Jan 12, 2011

The capitalist system is under siege. In recent years business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community. Even worse, the more business has begun to embrace corporate responsibility, the more it has been blamed for society’s failures. The legitimacy of business has fallen to levels not seen in recent history. This diminished trust in business leads political leaders to set policies that undermine competitiveness and sap economic growth. Business is caught in a vicious circle.

Making Culture, Mapping Culture

Grant McCracken
Jan 11, 2011

A couple of years ago, Rick Meyerowitz was on the A train in New York City. He was staring at the subway map and he was thinking about lunch. Suddenly, station names began to look like food. Rick asked, “What if I redid the subway map [as] a food map?” He brought in his friend Maira Kalman and the two of them renamed 468 stations. Avenue H became Mulligan Stew, Avenue J became Can of Soda, and Brighton beach became Beach Stroganoff. The New Yorker published their map in 2004. This is remapping, taking a world we know, and reworking how we see it. It's one way to make culture.

When Brand Loyalty Goes Too Far

Michael Schrage
Jan 7, 2011

Microsoft managers probably shouldn't bring iPhones to business meetings. Ford employees shouldn't commute to work in BMWs. Coca-Cola employees likely shouldn't drink Pepsi on their lunch breaks. As a rule, companies with strong brands and competitive cultures expect more than a modicum of brand loyalty from their employees and contractors. But with employment opportunities tight and economic recovery slow, a profound organizational transformation is taking hold. "Loyalty to the brand" is mutating into "Living the brand." Brand values — not just brand value — are seen as core competitive differentiators.

The Future of Visual Storytelling: From The Last Supper to the iPad Tablet

Dominic Basulto
Jan 3, 2011

Of late, I've been thinking a lot about visual storytelling and the various ways that the Internet and digital devices like the iPad require us to process information and content. Over the past decade, there has been an astounding rise in the value of visual literacy -- the ability to process information and content that is delivered via images rather than text. When you think about it, all of the most popular forms of new Internet content - whether infographics, casual games or video clips - place a premium on visual storytelling. At the end of the day, the Apple iPad is primarily a device for consuming visual content.

In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture

Patricia Cohen
Dec 17, 2010

With little fanfare, Google has made a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities. The digital storehouse, which comprises words and short phrases as well as a year-by-year count of how often they appear, represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.’s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen.

Don't Call Her a Mommy Blogger

Holly Pavlika
Dec 16, 2010

Mothers may not have invented social media, but the 26 million moms who use social media suggests this demographic dominates it. From mommy blogs to Facebook and Twitter accounts, social media provides a limitless platform for savvy “social media moms” to share pictures and videos, keep in contact with friends and family, and post reviews about products.

High margins, Groupon and the magic basket for price differentiators

Seth Godin
Dec 14, 2010

Some things sell for not much more than they cost to make. Things like steel. Others? They sell for high multiples of cost. Spa services, fancy ties, long haul airplane tickets, coaching, books--these are things that might cost a bunch to set up, but once the factory is rolling, the marginal cost of one more unit is really low. The challenge, then, is to find a way to get new customers without alienating the folks that have paid full price. Even better, to turn those new trial customers into loyal customers.

Bargain Junkies Are Beating Retailers at Their Own Game

Matt Schwartz
Dec 13, 2010

In the economic wasteland of the past three years, the biggest success story has been a website that gets us to buy stuff we never knew we wanted: helicopter-flying lessons, hot stone massages, professional photo portraiture, obscure ethnic food, hot air balloon rides. More precisely, what we buy at Groupon—the two-year-old startup that, with projected revenue of more than $500 million this year, was called the “fastest growing company ever” in a recent Forbes cover story—is the right to buy all that stuff at a huge discount, so long as we all act fast.

Grant McCracken: The Reclocking of America (and the Death of the Mall)

Grant McCracken
Dec 13, 2010

The English historian E.P. Thompson suggested that as industrial capitalism took hold in the West, we began to organize time in new ways. A ritual cycle with lots of saints days and religious celebrations was replaced by a model in which leisure days were fewer and more concentrated (on the weekend, in the summer, etc.) The West was being, in effect, reclocked. (My term, not his.)

Chrome OS puts the cloud in your hands

Seth Rosenblatt
Dec 10, 2010

Google unleashed the Chrome OS on the world today, shipping it in a limited-edition prototype laptop outfitted with the kind of hardware and specs that it expects manufacturers to use with the browser-based operating system. Chrome OS represents a major step forward for cloud computing, with single-serving Web sites getting rebranded as easy-access apps and the nascent HTML5 underpinning the whole show.

The Next Stop for Location Services

Benjamin Palmer
Dec 8, 2010

Just when you're getting used to Foursquare and Gowalla and Yelp and Facebook Places, there are new apps to check out. Since checking-in has gone mainstream, there are a few notable new experiences that are worth a look.

A Whole New Name Game

Ianthe Jeanne Dugan
Dec 7, 2010

Hundreds of naming rights are up for sale nationwide at schools, parks, government buildings and boat launches, as money problems among cities and states create monuments such as Chicago's BP Bridge and AT&T Plaza.

Segal declares b2b marketing ‘obsolete'

Dec 3, 2010

“There is now no such thing as b2b,” Rick Segal, worldwide president-chief practice officer at GyroHSR, New York, told attendees at the B2B Marketing Europe conference in Berlin this week.

Why We Will All Live in 'Curation Nation'

Bob Garfield
Nov 29, 2010

Somewhere Out There, Someone Is Creating Genius -- How Will You Find It?

How the Omidyar Network Pumps Up Nonprofits

Lisa Katayama
Nov 17, 2010

Leaders from the tech and finance sectors are having an ever greater impact on the nonprofit world. Nowhere is this most apparent than at the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

The Golden Age of TV Shopping

Elizabeth Holmes
Nov 11, 2010

Reem Acra built her high-end fashion business dressing brides, royalty and A-list celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry. But on a recent Wednesday, Ms. Acra was selling caftans and stretch pants from a small set in an industrial park.

The Empowered Consumer

Alex Bogusky
Nov 8, 2010

You are a consumer. And if that means buying any shiny object placed in your path, then it might be a dirty word. But as the late great George Carlin used to say, “There are no dirty words. Only dirty thoughts.” I use the term “consumer” often in my work. And I have to admit that the word sometimes makes me uncomfortable. After all, aren’t we citizens, people or human beings first? Defined by the sum of our actions. And don’t those extend far beyond what we consume? Yes.

The Increasing Importance of Physical Location

John Hagel III and John Seely Brown
Oct 29, 2010

The debate over the importance of the physical in light of technological advances and increased mobility and transportation options is not new. Is technology making the world flatter as Thomas Friedman argues? Or is the world getting spikier, as Richard Florida suggests? Does place matter more than ever? According to Friedman, the importance of location is diminished if not obliterated — one can "innovate without having to emigrate." Florida counters that location still matters, that both innovative and economic activity remain concentrated in "spikes," in certain urban areas which reflect a disproportionate amount of activity and talent, and that this trend is increasing, not decreasing.

A “Special Teams” Unit For The Corporation

Grant McCracken
Oct 28, 2010

The corporation is very good at problem solving. Next to getting things done, this is what it does best. The trouble is the problems are getting tougher.

Fantasy Football As Cultural Alchemy

Grant McCracken
Oct 20, 2010

Fantasy Football now entertains 27 million people, playing an average of 9 hours a week, in an industry valued at around $800 million. (All numbers are pretty much surmise. See references below.) It reminds me of the Dole plantation story. Apparently, Dole would create a lot of juice while canning pineapples, and then just through the juice into the ocean. Someone had the wit to say, "er, could I have that?" Mixed drinks and the International House of Pancakes were never the same.

Braided Journalism and the Future of Public Relations

Valerie Maltoni
Oct 18, 2010

Maybe you have seen the news. In case you missed it, Shel Israel wrote about it in a recent post on braided journalism, a term he coined a little while ago to describe a developing practice of traditional and citizen journalists starting to intertwine through mutual need. This is also the latest example of enlightened experimentation from Dell, an organization that is leading on its way to what Dachis defines a social business. They were first in implementing a site for customers to submit and vote on product ideas -- IdeaStorm -- and first to coordinate social product launches at the same time with traditional announcements.

Kiva President On The Next 5 Years And Why Zynga Is Their Biggest Rival

Evelyn Rusli
Oct 14, 2010

Who is Kiva’s biggest competitor? If you rattled off a list of non-profit-centric startups, the micro-lending site’s President Premal Shah would tell you that you’re dead wrong. Try Zynga, the gaming behemoth that has given rise to Farmville and Mafia Wars and other disturbingly ubiquitous internet classics. What does virtual fertilizer have to do with micro-finance? Shah says a lot: It’s a never-ending fight for eyeballs and discretionary income.

What Nonprofits Can Learn From Coca-Cola

Melinda Gates
Oct 12, 2010

At TEDxChange, Melinda Gates makes a provocative case for nonprofits taking a cue from corporations such as Coca-Cola, whose plugged-in, global network of marketers and distributors ensures that every remote village wants -- and can get -- a Coke. Why shouldn't this work for condoms, sanitation, vaccinations too?

Gap Reverts to Original Logo After Social Media Backlash

Ben Parr
Oct 12, 2010

Gap has announced on its Facebook Page that it is scrapping its new logo design efforts, acquiescing to a torrent of criticism coming primarily from Facebook and Twitter users. Last week, Gap unveiled a new logo, one it called “a more contemporary, modern expression.” The retailer’s customers were not so thrilled about the change, and Gap decided to ask users for their logo design ideas instead. However, that course of action has now been reversed, as well.

The Gap Logo Debacle: A Half-Brained Mistake

Umair Haque
Oct 11, 2010

Here's a thought: 21st century organizations need not just half a brain — but a whole, full, complete brain, where both halves work in unison and harmony. Let me explain, by way of an example. It hurts your eyes to look at it. It's making designers world-wide recoil in amazement and horror. The latest installment of Aliens vs Predator? Nope — it's the Gap's new logo.

How U.S. Consumers Are Steering the 'Spend Shift'

John Gerzema
Oct 11, 2010

At the height of the Great Recession we set off across America in search of stories of hope. We were armed with data from Young & Rubicam's BrandAsset Valuator that showed how most people were thinking, feeling and spending in new ways. We traveled through nine red and blue states, talking with people across kitchen counters, in restaurants, supermarkets, factory floors and boardrooms. In the hipster enclaves of Brooklyn and the techno hubs on the West Coast we found ample evidence that economic pain had moved vast numbers of people to reconsider their values and priorities. In these places, thoughtful spending and a commitment to sustainability, environmentalism and community had replaced consumerism. In fact, in 2007 -- even before the crisis -- our data showed Americans were becoming uneasy with debt and excess spending, distrustful of leaders and skeptical of materialist values.

Design Without Designers

Don Norman
Oct 7, 2010

I will always remember my first introduction to the power of good product design. I was newly arrived at Apple, still learning the ways of business, when I was visited by a member of Apple's Industrial Design team. He showed me a foam mockup of a proposed product. "Wow," I said, "I want one! What is it?" That experience brought home the power of design: I was excited and enthusiastic even before I knew what it was.

Why the Bad Economy Has Been Good for Target

Natalie Zmuda
Oct 4, 2010

The recession has given retail a swift kick in the butt -- but in the case of Target, it's done so in a good way. Using the recession as a catalyst, Target has made fairly radical shifts to its agency structure, marketing and media approach and overall business operations.

10 Mobile Interfaces That Rewire Daily Life

Oct 1, 2010

The only brands that stay relevant in our change world will be ones savvy about mobile technology.

An "A" For Effort

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Oct 1, 2010

Levi's makes pants; jeans, specifically, but its brand aspires to art and beyond. I used to think this was utter nonsense, but now I'm wondering whether the company's marketers shouldn't get some credit for being so wantonly experimental. It might put them out of business, but it sure won't do so boringly.

Cluetrain vs. Madison Avenue

Valeria Maltoni
Sep 30, 2010

I'll make it really simple for you to see the difference. Fundamentally, this is a conversation about putting the human being first or putting the brand/idea first.

Why Sales and Marketing Are at Odds — or Even War

Steve W. Martin
Sep 30, 2010

Struggling companies all share something in common. Their sales and marketing efforts are at odds. Sometimes, they are even at war. The marketing team lectures the sales department, saying that if only the salespeople would follow their advice, their problems would be solved. Meanwhile, the sales department always says it needs something else from marketing. The salespeople are clamoring for the silver bullet that will convince the most ardent skeptic to buy. The root cause of this situation is that sales and marketing have different views of the world.

Goldman Sachs Attempts to Rebrand

Rupal Parekh
Sep 30, 2010

Taking a government bailout, getting hit with accusations of fraud and now a class-action discrimination suit have all led to Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs' steep decline in public reputation. According to YouGov, at one point it fell further than even BP and Toyota. But now that it's settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Goldman is trying to put a new face on the company -- one that associates Goldman with companies such as clean-energy firms and with the creation of jobs.

A Better Choosing Experience

Sheena Iyengar and Kanika Agrawal
Sep 29, 2010

When consumers are overwhelmed with options, marketers should give them what they really want: ways of shopping that lower the cognitive demands of choosing.

Small Change

Malcolm Gladwell
Sep 28, 2010

Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

The New Normal Is the Old Normal

Grant McCracken
Sep 28, 2010

The figures for August are in. Home sales rose 7.6%, pulling out of a steep decline in July. Many sectors are flat or sinking. Auto sales figures are horrible but nonstore retailers' sales are up 10.5%. The data are all over the place. So there is comfort for the "new normal" crowd who believe we are looking at a big change on how and how much consumers spend. But there is also data to support the position I prefer, the one that says when capital, credit, and confidence return, Americans will go back to spending like sailors home on leave.

Reality has a gaming layer

James Turner
Sep 27, 2010

Kevin Slavin has been thinking about the intersection of games and daily life for nearly a decade. As the managing director of Area/Code, he's worked with Frank Lantz to integrate gameplay into the fabric of reality using a technique they call "big games." In the following interview, Slavin discusses the thinning boundary between the game world and the real world.

The Institutional Innovation Manifesto

Umair Haque
Sep 24, 2010

If you want to be a 21st century company (or economy), if you want to survive and thrive during this Great Stagnation, you've got to to have the courage, foresight, and determination to step up to a higher rung on the ladder of innovation. It's time to master what I sometimes call "I-squared": the art and practice of institutional innovation.

The Shape-Shifting Future of the Mobile Phone

Fabian Hemmert
Sep 23, 2010

At TEDxBerlin, Fabian Hemmert demos one future of the mobile phone -- a shape-shifting and weight-shifting handset that "displays" information nonvisually, offering a delightfully intuitive way to communicate.

Capitalism is Dead. Long Live Capitalism.

Gary Hamel
Sep 22, 2010

I’m a capitalist by conviction and profession. I believe the best economic system is one that rewards entrepreneurship and risk-taking, maximizes customer choice, uses markets to allocate scarce resources and minimizes the regulatory burden on business. If there’s a better recipe for creating prosperity I haven’t seen it. So why do fewer than four out of ten consumers in the developed world believe that large corporations make a “somewhat” or “generally” positive contribution to society?

Web 2.0: A Natural Evolution?

Haydn Shaughnessy
Sep 22, 2010

Could Web 2.0 be grounded in nature? Our new research shows that Web users are increasingly conceptualizing the online world and new technology — social networks, mobile phones, and even whole businesses — as ecosystems.

Where Good Ideas Come From

Steven Johnson
Sep 22, 2010

People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.

Time Colonies, Time Colonists: Next New Thing In Marketing?

Grant McCracken
Sep 16, 2010

The question is this: how and how long would we have to live in a historical recreation to begin to to lose touch with the present day in a useful way. Human beings are wonderfully adaptive. We begin to recalibrate immediately. A couple of hours and we are sliding out of many assumptions and arrangements. A couple of days, and we are well down the slippery slope and this close to Stockholm syndrome. The reason this is useful for marketers is the shock of reentry. So much of good marketing is "getting our head out of the bucket" and "thinking outside the box" and otherwise relieving ourselves of the assumptions that prevent us from seeing what is "right before our eyes."

At Zappos, Culture Pays

Dick Richards
Sep 15, 2010

The thriving Internet shoe retailer has made its name and a lot of money by being eccentric.

A Tech World That Centers on the User

Nick Bilton
Sep 13, 2010

If you pull out your smartphone and click the button that says “locate me” on your mapping application, you will see a small dot appear in the middle of your screen. That’s you. If you start walking down the street in any direction, the whole screen will move right along with you, no matter where you go. This is a dramatic change from the print-on-paper world, where maps and locations are based around places and landmarks, not on you or your location. In the print world people don’t go to the store and say, “Oh, excuse me, can I buy a map of me?” Instead, they ask for a map of New York, or Amsterdam, or the subway system. You and I aren’t anywhere to be seen on these maps. The maps are locations that we fit into.

When Meaning Is Meaningless

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Sep 13, 2010

Pepsi is so happy with its "Refresh Project" social media marketing campaign that it has renewed funding for 2011 and will expand it to the rest of the world. This year it will give away $20 million to the good works projects that win the most supportive votes from consumers, representing "true democratization of the philanthropic process," according to a company spokesman. I say it's really dumb, and not just slightly dishonest.

What's Your Brand's App?

Pete Blackshaw
Sep 10, 2010

As the digital and social opportunities risk morphing into that all-too-familiar blend of noise and clutter, the simple foundations and "boring basics" really matter. So while the brand "app" may at times feel like yet another one-off, it may in fact represent the most important cornerstone of digital strategy.

Is The Internet Making Us Stupid -- Or A New Kind of Smart?

Gord Hotchkiss
Sep 10, 2010

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I'm reading Nicholas Carr's book "The Shallows." His basic premise is that our current environment, with its deluge of available information typically broken into bite-sized pieces served up online, is "dumbing down" our brains. We no longer read, we scan. We forego the intellectual heavy lifting of prolonged reading for the more immediate gratification of information foraging. We're becoming a society of attention-deficit dolts. It's a grim picture, and Carr does a good job of backing up his premise. I've written about many of these issues in the past. And I don't dispute the trends that Carr chronicles (at length). But is Carr correct is saying that online is dulling our intellectual capabilities, or is it just creating a different type of intelligence?

A Cartoon Love Affair

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Sep 9, 2010

A Japanese resort town has created real-world getaway packages for men and their virtual schoolgirl dates. It’s weird and creepy, for sure, but it also demonstrates the power of virtual experience to be, as Dr. Eldon Tyrell once boasted, "more human than human."

Why The Brand Must Be The Story

Paloma Vazquez
Sep 8, 2010

A recent post from BBH Labs turned our attention to a short video clip from management consultant Tom Peters, in which he discusses his perspective on how storytelling isn’t just a marketing hot topic of the day, but rather something that is in our genes as human beings – we translate everything that happens to us in life into stories. If we communicate this way amongst each other as people, why should it be any different when brands speak to consumers?

A Virtual Counter-Revolution

Economist Briefing
Sep 7, 2010

The internet has been a great unifier of people, companies and online networks. Powerful forces are threatening to balkanise it.


September 2010 Trend Briefing
Sep 7, 2010

As the busiest time of the year is about to kick in for many of you, we thought we’d keep things lighthearted this month. Check out the rise in 'mature materialism': experienced, less-easily shocked, outspoken consumers who appreciate brands that are more daring, outspoken, even a bit more risqué.

Balancing Wealth and the Public Good

Zafer Achi
Sep 3, 2010

Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi discusses Mubadala’s double bottom line, bridging investment and development.

A Look at the Numbers Behind America's Huge Demographic Shift

Chiqui Cartagena
Sep 1, 2010

With the arrival of Hispanic Heritage month, people in the media and marketing worlds have already started to talk about what the new Census results could reveal next year. Jackie Hernandez, the chief operating officer of Telemundo, speaks eloquently and passionately about the "New Now" which is her vision (supported by tons of data) of what lies ahead for these great United States.

To Win Over Users, Gadgets Have to Be Touchable

Claire Cain Miller
Sep 1, 2010

Whoever said technology was dehumanizing was wrong. On screens everywhere — cellphones, e-readers, A.T.M.’s — as Diana Ross sang, we just want to reach out and touch. Scientists and academics who study how we interact with technology say people often try to import those behaviors into their lives, as anyone who has ever wished they could lower the volume on a loud conversation or Google their brain for an answer knows well. But they say touching screens has seeped into people’s day-to-day existence more quickly and completely than other technological behaviors because it is so natural, intimate and intuitive.

Finding Humanity In The Machine

Naresh Kumar
Aug 31, 2010

Writer and artist Jonathan Harris laments about the lack of humanness on the internet, blaming online tools and social networks for offering the same kind of bland user-experiences across platforms. He also says that while communication has become shorter and faster, there will be a time when we will crave more in-depth, emotional interactions with people, but it would be difficult to move back from a digital world to the past.

Are You Being Served?

James Surowiecki
Aug 31, 2010

American workers are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. That’s the clear message of flight attendant Steven Slater’s emergence as a “working-class hero,” after he threw his job away with a tirade against passengers and a slide down an exit chute. Slater’s fifteen minutes of fame may be winding down, but his heady time in the spotlight—he was the subject of numerous tribute songs and his Facebook fan page drew more than two hundred thousand people—suggested just how frustrated employees are with stagnant pay, stressful working conditions, and obnoxious customers. Still, there was something a little surprising about the adulation. After all, the public comprises customers as well as workers, and everyone knows that the contemporary customer is mad as hell, too—fed up with inept service, indifferent employees, and customer-service departments that are harder to negotiate than Kafka’s Castle.

Technology Aside, Most People Still Decline to Be Located

Claire Cain Miller and Jenna Wortham
Aug 30, 2010

Internet companies have appropriated the real estate business’s mantra — it’s all about location, location, location. But while a home on the beach will always be an easy sell, it may be more difficult to persuade people to start using location-based Web services. Big companies and start-ups alike — including Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and most recently Facebook — offer services that let people report their physical location online, so they can connect with friends or receive coupons.

It's Time To Get Engaged With Content

Len Stein
Aug 27, 2010

The growing dominance of social media compels marketers to abandon their old hard sell in favor of a content-driven marketing conversation that can facilitate meaningful brand relationships with customers and prospects. In this challenging environment, content is a key tool to fostering relationships, but publishing a blog, creating a Facebook fan page or launching a Twitter feed is only the beginning of a strategic content marketing program. Content marketing differs from traditional methods that employ interruption techniques in the belief that delivering helpful, relevant information drives profitable consumer action. The idea of sharing content is increasingly driving marketers to make proprietary intellectual assets available to influential audiences. Savvy content marketers create fresh information to share via all available media channels, on and off-line.

Google Sees Facebook Threat in String of Deals

Irina Slutsky
Aug 26, 2010

Google products are efficient, slick and -- as the coders say -- elegant. They get you from point A to point B fast. Really fast. But are they fun? That's the question for the search engine as it struggles to gain a foothold in the fast-growing and here-to-stay social web. That web isn't marked by speed and elegance but rather by pit stops and side roads that allow people to pull over, meet new or old friends, play a game and buy souvenirs. In short, have fun.

The Creativity Crisis? What Creativity Crisis?

Michael Schrage
Aug 26, 2010

The most important thing to understand about America's "crisis of creativity" is that there isn't one. The notion that American business creativity is either at risk or in decline is laughable. Arguments that "Yankee ingenuity" is ebbing into oxymoron are ludicrous. They invite ridicule. So here it comes.

Brand Marketing's New Reality

Martin Lindstrom
Aug 26, 2010

If for one reason or another, you’d slept through the past five years, only to find yourself suddenly awake in August 2010, you’d quickly realize the world of advertising and marketing has fundamentally changed in three major ways. First, subconscious or subliminal communication (and research) has become part of the vocabulary of most marketers. Second, power has shifted from brand owners to consumers - even the most powerful brands know that successful campaigns have to systematically engage consumers, who will in turn use their mighty word of mouth to spread the messages opposed to relying on big media budgets do the work. Third, 2010 is shaping up to be dominated by guilt. Guilt for spending money in the midst of a debilitating global recession, guilt for polluting the world, and finally, parental guilt, as kids increasingly engage in their own online world, far removed from traditional values that were previously the exclusive domain of the family. So what does this mean for a marketer in 2010?

It's Modern Trade: Web Users Get as Much as They Give

Jim Harper
Aug 23, 2010

If you surf the web, congratulations! You are part of the information economy. Data gleaned from your communications and transactions grease the gears of modern commerce. Not everyone is celebrating, of course. Many people are concerned and dismayed—even shocked—when they learn that "their" data are fuel for the World Wide Web. Who is gathering the information? What are they doing with it? How might this harm me? How do I stop it?

The Game Layer on Top of the World

Seth Priebatsch
Aug 20, 2010

By now, we're used to letting Facebook and Twitter capture our social lives on the web -- building a "social layer" on top of the real world. At TEDxBoston, Seth Priebatsch looks at the next layer in progress: the "game layer," a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce.

Anarchy in the UI

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Aug 19, 2010

It's culturally incorrect to even suggest that the open and incessant sharing of information isn't a wonderful thing. We know more the more we know, or so the conventional wisdom goes, and not only should anything be everyone's business, but it should be provided without charge. History is a dialectic about information struggling to be free. Freedom of information evangelists call this "radical transparency" and label it an absolute good. Others might call it chaos. I worry that most of us live in the gap between this theory and reality its pursuit invents.

Openness, Or How Do You Design For The Loss Of Control?

Tim Leberecht
Aug 18, 2010

Openness is the mega-trend for innovation in the 21st century, and it remains the topic du jour for businesses of all kinds. Granted, it has been on the agenda of every executive ever since Henry Chesbrough’s seminal Open Innovation came out in 2003. However, as several new books elaborate upon the concept from different perspectives, and a growing number of organizations have recently launched ambitious initiatives to expand the paradigm to other areas of business, I thought it might be a good time to reframe “Open” from a design point of view.

The Time Is Now to Take Shopper Marketing Beyond the Store

Jim Lucas
Aug 18, 2010

According to Deloitte's 2010 Back-to-School Survey, three out of 10 consumers plan to use their mobile phones to assist in their back-to-school shopping. No doubt, as shoppers look to social media for product information, reviews and sales, the ecology of shopping is changing rapidly. As it does, marketers are trying to address two challenges. The first is how to strike the right balance between verified traditional methods and the pursuit of new ways of communicating with shoppers. The second challenge for marketers is to garner shopper attention, then earn and cultivate a relationship with the shopper.

Why the Social Gaming Biz is Just Heating Up

Jeremy Liew
Aug 18, 2010

These are interesting times in the social gaming industry. Two weeks ago Disney acquired Playdom, and last week Google acquired Slide. Just like that, two of the largest social game publishers have become part of larger companies. This activity all comes on the heels of EA’s acquisition of Playfish late last year. Social gaming, as a category, has grown incredibly quickly, becoming one of the dominant drivers of usage on Facebook, and an increasingly core component of people’s entertainment. This growth represents a real threat to other forms of entertainment, and has precipitated the three deals that we have seen so far.

The Future of the Internet

Dan Redding
Aug 16, 2010

The Internet is a medium that is evolving at breakneck speed. It’s a wild organism of sweeping cultural change — one that leaves the carcasses of dead media forms in its sizeable wake. It’s transformative: it has transformed the vast globe into a ‘global village’ and it has drawn human communication away from print-based media and into a post-Gutenberg digital era. Right now, its perils are equal to its potential. The debate over ‘net neutrality’ is at a fever pitch. There is a tug-of-war going on between an ‘open web’ and a more governed form of the web (like the Apple-approved apps on the iPad/iPhone) that has more security but less freedom.

The Creativity Crisis

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Aug 13, 2010

For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.

How TED Connects the Idea-Hungry Elite

Anya Kamenetz
Aug 12, 2010

The other day, I got an email from a new friend. The subject line read "Are you a TED talk person?" It linked to an 18-minute video of MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely talking about the bugs in our moral codes. Other friends have sent me videos of Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on the spiritual dimension of creativity; rocker David Byrne on how venue architecture affects musical expression; and UC Berkeley professor Robert Full's insights into how geckos' feet stick to a wall. Each of these emails is like a membership card into the club of "TED talk people." I love being a member of this club. The videos give my discovery-seeking brain a little hit of dopamine in the middle of the workday. But just as important, each one I see or recommend makes me part of a group of millions of folks around the world who have checked out these videos. What links us is our desire to learn; TEDsters feel part of a curious, engaged, enlightened, and tech-savvy tribe.

Meet The Fastest Growing Company Ever

Christopher Steiner
Aug 12, 2010

Andrew Mason figured out how to inject hysteria into the process of bargain hunting on the Web. The result is an overnight success story called Groupon.

Reseeding the Economy

Umair Haque
Aug 11, 2010

It's 2010, and we still don't know how to describe the archetypal magnates of the next economy. We don't have a word for it, so we resort to awkward neologisms, like "information entrepreneur" or "green mogul." It's as if we're still not quite sure just what kinds of "capital" tomorrow's tycoons will be "ists" of. What are the kernels of tomorrow's prosperity?

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

Erica Goldson
Aug 11, 2010

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years . ." 
The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast -- How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" 
Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path." This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Creativity Matters

John Maeda
Aug 11, 2010

I couldn’t agree more that we should take creativity “out of the art room and into the home room.” And we should start by looking to art education as a model. The National Inventors Hall of Fame school’s success in “project-based learning” emulates the studio model that has existed and been refined in art schools for hundreds of years. Learning through making actual objects in a studio equips artists and designers with the curiosity, open-ended inquiry, problem solving, critical thinking and critical making skills that are key to creative contributions. These methods are the most promising pathway available for cultivating creativity in future generations, whether kids grow up to be bankers, medical professionals or politicians.

How Nike's CEO Shook Up the Shoe Industry

Ellen McGirt
Aug 11, 2010

Nike's Mark Parker brings together extreme talents, whether they're basketball stars, tattooists, or designers obsessed with shoes.

A Better Creative Brief For The Post Digital Age

Gareth Kay
Aug 10, 2010

A recent post by Gareth Kay (of Goodby’s Brand Strategy discipline) turned our attention to a presentation he made at Boulder Digital Works on crafting a creative brief for the post-digital age. Kay begins by taking a (somehow comical) look at creative brief templates of yore (1992), which mostly all addressed a very common set of elements: a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers to ‘target’, a message to tell them, reasons to believe, and tone of voice. Needless to say that there is a continually expanding set of technology devices and platforms – and respective user interfaces – available in our current culture: from mobile to social media, to desktop and mobile video and others. Their impact includes facilitating a more participatory culture, making us more social, contributing to a more fragmented media landscape and leaving us ‘always on’ and conscious/communicative of our location; these factors need to be considered within an informed creative brief.

Why Elite Shoppers Eschew Logos

Teddy Wayne
Aug 10, 2010

K-Mart and Marc Jacobs have something in common: low- and high-end fashion products tend to have less conspicuous brand markers than midprice goods, according to a paper soon to be published in The Journal of Consumer Research. Rather than rely on obvious logos, expensive products use more discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing. High-end consumers prefer markers of status that are not decipherable by the mainstream. These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing.

Being 'On-Emotion' Leads To Success

Dan Hill
Aug 10, 2010

Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience confirm what we marketers know in our guts, but sometimes forget in the day-to-day rush of preparing the next ad campaign launch. Namely, everybody feels (emotions) before they think (rational decision), and without generating the appropriate emotional response, no ad campaign can succeed.

Here’s The Real Google/Verizon Story: A Tale of Two Internets

Eliot Van Buskirk
Aug 10, 2010

Google and Verizon announced a joint proposal on Monday that would allow ISPs to offer premium content bundles over an unspecified global network — an unexpected gambit that would seem to call for separate and unequal internets. The two companies say the guidelines would ensure that no internet traffic of any kind is prioritized over any other kind (with the exception of viruses, spam and the like).

A Return, Not to Normal, But to Reality

Art Kleiner
Aug 6, 2010

Mark Anderson, the high-tech industry’s most accurate prognosticator, foresees an economic landscape still under the stress of too much liquidity — and decision makers still in denial.

Playthings: Today’s TEDTalks Playlist

Emily McManus
Aug 6, 2010

Today’s playlist is about toys that inspire learning, innovation — and of course fun! These are the toys of the technological age: they are alive, they think, they perform magic. What were your favorite toys as a kid (or an adult), and what did they inspire in you?

Slide, Vic Gundotra & The Un-Social Reality of Google

Om Malik
Aug 5, 2010

I love baseball and will always await the first day of spring training with the ardor of a lover coming home after an exile. But I will never be a baseball player. It’s just not in my make-up. My misery over my failed baseball career is no different than Google’s. The world’s largest search engine covets a key to the magical kingdom called the social web. It would do anything to become part of that exclusive club that, for now, is the domain of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and to some extent, Twitter. Google will do just about anything to get social, like spend a rumored $182 million on San Francisco-based Slide, a head-scratcher of a deal.

Tech Gadgets Steal Sales From Appliances, Clothes

Emmeline Zhao
Aug 4, 2010

Americans are spending more on electronics like iPads and flat-screen televisions and less on durable goods like furniture, washing machines and lawn mowers, according to government data released Tuesday. The shift reflects a change in priorities for American consumers. After pouring money into all aspects of their homes during the previous decade, consumers are redirecting their purchases to eye-grabbing technology and socking away more of what's left over into savings. Apparel company executives are worried the lure of electronics will eat into their sales as the back-to-school season gets under way.

Consumer Spending Stagnates in June

Aug 4, 2010

Consumer spending and personal incomes were flat in June, according to government statistics released on Tuesday, the latest indication that the economy would continue to struggle in the second half of the year. The Commerce Department figures, which were seasonally adjusted, showed that personal income was steady in June, compared with a slight 0.3 percent rise in May. It was the lowest level this year and the first time in nearly a year that personal incomes have not risen compared with previous months.

Time Spent on Facebook, Gaming Surges

Jack Neff
Aug 3, 2010

The time Americans spent on social media has surged 43% in the past year, leading a substantial shift in how the country spends its online time. That time spent online has also sent e-mail to third behind gaming, according to research by Nielsen Co. The time spent on social media accessed from PCs rose from 15.8% in June 2009 to 22.7% in June 2010, according to Nielsen, while online gaming gained more modestly to 10.2% of online time from 9.3% a year earlier. But that was enough to push gaming past e-mail, which fell to 8.3% of online time spent at the PC from 10.5% a year earlier.

Microsoft Quashed Effort to Boost Online Privacy

Nick Wingfield
Aug 2, 2010

In early 2008, Microsoft Corp.'s product planners for the Internet Explorer 8.0 browser intended to give users a simple, effective way to avoid being tracked online. They wanted to design the software to automatically thwart common tracking tools, unless a user deliberately switched to settings affording less privacy. That triggered heated debate inside Microsoft.

A Conversation About True Leaders and Leadership

Colin Goedecke
Aug 2, 2010

If you look at the world today, it’s devoid of enough true leaders. We used to have so many. This troubles me. What has happened? Is it because people don’t want to step up to the higher responsibilities of leadership, or don’t know how to be great leaders?

Hayward Defends Tenure, BP's Spill Response

Monica Langley
Jul 30, 2010

Tony Hayward, the departing chief executive of BP PLC, is unrepentant about how the energy giant responded to the U.S.'s largest offshore oil spill. In his first interview after agreeing to step down from the top spot this week, Mr. Hayward said he did everything possible once the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, by taking responsibility for the spill, and spending billions of dollars to stop the spewing oil and clean up the shoreline.

What You Want: Flickr Creator Spins Addictive New Web Service

Devin Leonard
Jul 30, 2010

That’s what Fake does best: Tend social sparks until they ignite and become full-fledged communities. Connecting people to one another is not just Fake’s hobby — she has made it her career. As the cofounder of Flickr, the landmark photography site, Fake provided a place for shutterbugs to share their work; they have uploaded more than 4 billion pictures. It was a seminal service that helped launch the era of user-generated content, spurring entrepreneurs to build Web sites and businesses based on volunteer contributions.

Steven Levy on How Foursquare Melds Real and Digital Worlds

Steven Levy
Jul 29, 2010

One sunny spring day in 2004, Dennis Crowley was running down Waverly Street dressed in yellow, avoiding ghosts. Crowley, then a 27-year-old grad student in New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, was participating in a class project called Pac-Manhattan, which used the streets of Greenwich Village for a grueling physical version of the classic arcade game. He was Pac-Man, and—despite a support team that was logging his movements, tracking ghosts, and directing him to power pills—people dressed as Pac-Man spooks eventually cornered him near Fifth Avenue. The New York Times described the experience as “a kind of tableau of digital convergence with the physical world.”

Technology and Society: Virtually Insecure

Joseph Menn
Jul 29, 2010

When Peter Eckersley recently clicked on to one of America’s biggest online job sites, he was not alone for long. Using software to monitor programs running on the page of CareerBuilder.com, the researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group, saw data identifying his computer being whisked off to at least 10 outfits that track where people go on the internet. More troubling was his inability to tell what the companies did with the data. His experience goes to the heart of a battle that could shape the future of life on the web – while also having very real knock-on effects in the physical world. The digital dossiers that companies are building from the browsing, searching and other habits of ordinary web users are becoming increasingly refined. At the same time, a deluge of personal information has been unleashed publicly on the web, with Facebook’s 500m users at the forefront. With rapid inroads on both fronts being made into many traditional expectations of personal privacy, the results could prove explosive.

Brand Building, Beyond Marketing

Nicholas Ind and Majken Schultz
Jul 28, 2010

Not so long ago, brands were in the limelight. They were seemingly powerful, and virtuous. Any inconvenient truths were hidden by glossy packaging and one-way, big-bang marketing campaigns. Now, as organizations become ever more transparent, people can see behind the marketing facade and are questioning what they are told.

Tony Hayward is a Scapegoat

Tony Schwartz
Jul 28, 2010

In psychology, the term "identified patient" refers to a family member — often a child or a teenager — who gets scapegoated for behavior that is actually just a predictable response to dealing with an unhealthy family. Tony Hayward is BP's identified patient.

Forrester: Why Most Marketers Should Forgo Foursquare

Kunur Patel
Jul 27, 2010

In a study out today, Forrester finds that only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt. Only 1% update these services more than once per week. What's more, 84% of respondents said they are not familiar with such apps, leaving the vast majority of Americans online still in the dark about location-based apps, which have had the marketing world obsessing over them in recent months.

Meet the New and Evolved CMO Rock Stars

Jack Neff
Jul 26, 2010

The rock-star CMO is dead, but the post-rock-star CMO is quietly living pretty large. The era of the high-profile, big-personality, high-production-value chief marketing officer -- which was already going wobbly as the recession began -- has ended definitively with the departures in the past year of the likes of Unilever's Simon Clift and Kodak's Jeff Hayzlett. Yet the less-ostentatious personalities that increasingly populate CMO slots have something their rock-star forbears lacked: power.

Understanding the Digital Natives

Frederic Filloux
Jul 26, 2010

They see life as a game. They enjoy nothing more than outsmarting the system. They don’t trust politicians, medias, nor brands. They see corporations as inefficient and plagued by an outmoded hierarchy. Even if they harbor little hope of doing better than their parents, they don’t see themselves as unhappy. They belong to a group — several, actually — they trust and rely upon. “They”, are the Digital Natives.

The Future is Another Country

The Economist
Jul 26, 2010

A couple of months or so after becoming Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron wanted a few tips from somebody who could tell him how it felt to be responsible for, and accountable to, many millions of people: people who expected things from him, even though in most cases he would never shake their hands. He turned not to a fellow head of government but to…Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and boss of Facebook, the phenomenally successful social network.

What's More Important, Head Or Heart?

Ted Mininni
Jul 23, 2010

After the dogged recession and uncertainty of recent years, it seems we're coming out of it in a more hopeful, optimistic mood. So why not focus on positive emotion and happiness in marketing? We've always believed in leveraging "enjoyment" for the consumer brands we work with. Nothing elicits more of an emotional response from people than associations of "enjoyment" with brands.

Food Companies Pitch Healthy Offerings, Opinions

Ken Bruno
Jul 23, 2010

Everyone knows they should eat fruits and vegetables. Few people hear it from fast-food companies and snack purveyors. That is changing as companies that make foods rich in fat and salt aggressively market healthier options.


Chris Dixon
Jul 22, 2010

It has become customary to use “graph” to refer to the underlying data structures at social networks like Facebook. (Computer scientists call the study of graphs “network theory,” but on the web the word “network” is used to refer to the websites themselves). A graph consists of a set of nodes connected by edges. The original internet graph is the web itself, where webpages are nodes and links are edges. In social graphs, the nodes are people and the edges friendship. Edges are what mathematicians call relations.

Can BP Survive As A Brand?

James R. Gregory
Jul 22, 2010

A brand crisis can take many forms, which can linger differing lengths of time, depending on the survivability of the brand. Every corporate brand crisis is unique; each has a starting point when the CEO becomes responsible for the survival of the company. BP's bumbling management of its Gulf crisis, its seemingly endless decision-making process, not to mention post-crisis effects that will last decades, make this crisis unprecedented. Tyco, Texaco, Dynegy, IBM, Enron, Worldcom and Citigroup are a few of the crises we've studied. Some companies survived not only intact but emerged stronger than ever. Others were destroyed, or forced to merge. A handful limped on, weakened but not ruined.

The Web Means the End of Forgetting

Jeffrey Rosen
Jul 21, 2010

When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder may well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever.

Social Media's Critical Path: Relevance to Resonance to Significance

Brian Solis
Jul 21, 2010

If social media warranted a mantra, it would sound something like this, "Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back...it's how you got here and it defines where you're going." This intentional form of alternative giving is referred to as "generalized reciprocity" or "generalized exchange." The capital of this social economy is measured in these productive relationships and those relationships are earned through the acts of reciprocity, recognition, respect and benevolence. So how can businesses, which, one could argue, typically represent a "pay it backward" approach (ie, "pay me for my goods and services"), thrive in this environment?

Greenpeace Vs. Brands: Social Media Attacks To Continue

Jeremiah Owyang
Jul 20, 2010

Most companies are barely prepared to deal with unhappy customers who use social media to air their gripes. Now they must be ready to respond when organized entities, such as Greenpeace, wage massive campaigns against their brands using social media channels.

Amazon Says E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcovers

Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
Jul 20, 2010

Amazon.com Inc. said it reached a milestone, selling more e-books than hardbacks over the past three months. But publishers said it is still too early to gauge for the entire industry whether the growth of e-books is cannibalizing sales of paperback books, a huge and crucial market.

Time to Get Customer-Centric -- For Real

Kevin McShane
Jul 20, 2010

Business leaders face the most disruptive market conditions in decades as competition keeps increasing, large rivals continue to compete aggressively by buying market share, new entrants are more nimble and substitute products seem to pop up almost at every turn. To deal with these changes, telecommunication providers -- telephone companies, cable TV companies, wireless companies and satellite TV companies -- need to change their organizational design as "inside-out" structures that put products, not customers, at the center of the organization. They need to become truly customer-centric, and to get there, they need to take these three critical steps.

Now What?

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jul 19, 2010

Old Spice has made history, dominating YouTube last week with 8 of the 11 most-watched videos on Friday and racking up tens of millions of views. Its "Smell Like a Man" campaign, in which its spokesmodel quickly shot mostly unscripted and hilariously funny replies to nearly 200 online inquiries (including some from famous people). It prompted numerous copycat videos and got covered by just about every news outlet in America. Now what?

Devil's Advocate

Tom Fishburne
Jul 19, 2010

The Devil's Advocate is a regular staffer in most offices. "Let me play Devil's Advocate" is a socially acceptable way to shoot down an idea. It's a guise that allows anyone to criticize an idea without offering an alternative. It's far easier (and safer) to tear down than to create. You can undermine what someone has just proposed without actually challenging them directly.

The New Rich: What Success And Wealth Mean To Consumers In 2010

Andrew Benett and Ann O'Reilly
Jul 16, 2010

All year long Forbes comes out with lists of the world's richest people--the youngest billionaires, the most eligible billionaires, the richest women, the wealthiest families on each continent. People find it fascinating to track the waning and waxing of personal wealth, watching as perennial front-runners Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are eclipsed by a Mexican telecom titan and chased by various silver-spoon princes of Asia and the Middle East. To be among the world's wealthiest is the stuff of many a daydream. And yet our communal vision of what it means to be "rich" is changing.

The Joy Luck Club Method to Brand Strategy

Denise Lee Yohn
Jul 16, 2010

I’ve finally gotten around to reading “The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings,” a book released quite awhile ago by Amy Tan, the author of best-selling novels like The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife. Tan includes many insights about story-telling and communication in general which I believe can be applied to developing brand strategies. One of such “musings” is “Five Writing Tips” — an edited version of a speech given as a commencement address at Simmons College, in Boston, in 2003. Although her remarks were intended to inspire a new generation to write and think differently, I found they also provide helpful guidelines for creating brand strategy.

Abbreviated Meaning

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jul 15, 2010

When did brevity become a synonym for clarity or truth? For most of human history, it was the exact opposite. What was brief was least important, as usually the format of a statement dictated the attention it deserved. Shortness was equated with incompleteness, which meant that things communicated quickly were more suspect and were considered less trustworthy (a rapid-fire sales pitch or the unknown threat of someone "of few words" being two examples). The common bias was that brevity could be the same as stupidity.

America's Biggest Seed Company Wants to Turn Gardening Into Self-help

Alissa Walker
Jul 14, 2010

One only needs to note the proliferation of Victory Gardens during World War II or the past year's explosion of community plots to know that when economic times are tough, Americans head back to the garden. But today's gardeners are also sowing seeds for weight-loss and environmentalism, according to legendary American seed company Burpee, the country's oldest and largest seed purveyor. As Burpee CEO George Ball noted earlier this year, sales of Burpee seeds are up 15-20% in 2010, and consumers are not only turning the soil to save money: Ball says that people are looking to the garden for emotional and physical growth as well.

What the Detroit Public Schools Can Teach Marketers

Shiv Singh and Peter Carter
Jul 13, 2010

It wasn't a multi-million dollar television campaign for a Fortune 50 company, nor was it a digital media program for some new-age service. Instead, the Grand Effie award was given to the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) for a very simple, and cost-efficient word-of-mouth program to encourage student enrollment. Here's what they did.

The Most Imaginative CSR Ad Campaigns

Victoria Taylor
Jul 12, 2010

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, means companies aligning their values with a greater good and taking action to have a positive effect. They often do so through "cause marketing," joining forces with nonprofit organizations and focusing ad campaigns on those philanthropic relationships. Why are more companies than ever flaunting their good works this way? Partly, experts say, because they realize that their employees want to be part of a business that does more than just make money.

Slouching Toward Brand Accountability

James R. Gregory
Jul 9, 2010

Many departments within a corporation will argue the need for accountability in marketing, but none steps forward to take ownership of how to account for brand equity. Theoretically, the CEO is responsible for the value of the corporate brand. Unfortunately, it is a rare CEO who understands how brand equity value is created. CEOs would love to see their company prosper, but few understand how to take command or utilize the tools available to make it so.

The Medium Is the Medium

David Brooks
Jul 9, 2010

A citizen of the Internet has a very different experience. The Internet smashes hierarchy and is not marked by deference. Maybe it would be different if it had been invented in Victorian England, but Internet culture is set in contemporary America. Internet culture is egalitarian. The young are more accomplished than the old. The new media is supposedly savvier than the old media. The dominant activity is free-wheeling, disrespectful, antiauthority disputation.

How Social Media Has Radically Altered Advertising

Hank Wasiak
Jul 8, 2010

Social Media started out as a bit of a novelty — a playground for the “geekerati.” But it has taken hold as a game changing force that will reshape advertising at its very core. It’s time to move past debates about traditional media co-existing with social media. Madison Avenue should see social media as a wonderful, if not disruptive, gift. It should run hard to catch up with the consumer, let go of legacy business models and build something better.

To Get LeBron, ESPN Cedes Control Over Ads, News

Brian Steinberg
Jul 8, 2010

Did ESPN just get "mediajacked"? Come Thursday, in prime time no less, ESPN gets the exclusive. But to do it, the Disney sports network appears to have sacrificed revenue -- and even some journalistic control by letting Mr. James choose one of his interviewers -- in exchange for the ratings and buzz the event is likely to provide. Commercial revenue from the special program -- which is being called "The Decision" -- will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America, a charity that ESPN and Disney also support.

Brand Owners Facing "New World Order"

Warc staff
Jul 6, 2010

Brand owners face a "new world order" in which their customers have redefined notions of value and are placing different demands on the products they buy, a study has argued. The Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 12,057 people in 14 nations, including Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and US. It found that while many shoppers thought there was room for optimism in 2010, overall anxiety levels were considerably higher than in the spring of 2007, before the recession had begun to bite.

Are Your Ears Burning? In Social Networks, One-Third of Consumers Talk Brands Every Week

Brian Solis
Jul 6, 2010

Social media didn’t invent conversations, it provided us with tools to surface and organize them. Conversations about brands predates the mediums used to connect messages and aspirations with consumers. The motivation for brands to engage in social networks varies based on the culture and agility of each company, but what is constant is the aspiration to connect with customers and prospects to earn awareness, attention and connections.

Levi's Goes Forth, and Beyond

Shirley Brady
Jul 6, 2010

Levi's annual Fourth of July campaign, Go Forth, this year focused on the theme of work and on the residents of the recession-battered community of Braddock, PA. Check out its latest campaign above and after the jump, including a spot for Levi's Workshops, inviting the public to "roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and get down to work" at workshops located across the U.S.

The World Cup of Social Media

Pete Blackshaw
Jul 1, 2010

I'll never forget attending my first World Cup game. It was back in 1994 and took place in my hometown Rose Bowl, the same field where I marched in gleeful pride at Pasadena High School's graduation. Romania squared off vs. Argentina. The game was nothing short of electrifying. Back then my word-of-mouth trajectory seemed unlimited. Armed with both AOL and Compuserve accounts, my post-game "dude, I was there" viral dispatches flew across my network of friends, family, business-school classmates and fellow P&G summer interns with almost unrestrained velocity.

Stop Confusing Your Customers with Cognitive Dissonance

Andrew Winston
Jul 1, 2010

It's inevitable that as organizations navigate the complex world of sustainability, they will experience some internal cognitive dissonance about how they operate. Nobody said it was easy to balance the competing forces of (a) the inertia of how things have always been done, (b) the desire to meet the assumed needs of customers (for, say, welcoming, well-lit rooms), and (c) new pressures and questions about environmental and social performance. But forcing your customers to confront these choices or, worse, making them do the work themselves, is not a good option.

Food Brands Get Sociable on Facebook and Twitter

Stuart Elliot
Jul 1, 2010

The number of advertisers with presences in the social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are increasing faster than the lines at the supermarket when the values of the cents-off coupons are being tripled. Now, two familiar brands of baked goods sold by Kraft Foods are stepping up their marketing efforts in social media.

A Transumer Manifesto

Simon Smith
Jul 1, 2010

From cars to designer clothes to children’s toys, there’s a growing trend towards “transumerism” and “collaborative consumption,” which emphasize sharing, renting and experiencing over owning. Is it just a fad? Or is this a significant trend that will reshape our approach to goods and commerce? I’ve pondered what I call “cloud living” before. Now let’s dig deeper.

Wal-Mart's Green Strategy Raises Serious Issues

Bob Lurie
Jul 1, 2010

Wal-Mart's move to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain in the next five years is impressive. It's also an example of the world's largest retailer exerting a blunt form of regulatory vigilantism.

Is The Hispanic Market Right For Your Brand?

Federico Murara
Jun 30, 2010

Did you know that the US is the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking country? It’s true. In fact, there are 46.3 million Hispanics in the US today, and 20 million of them use the internet. Are you targeting the Hispanic market with search? If not, perhaps it’s time you considered doing so.

How Branding Can Lead To Healthier Architecture

Aziz Ali
Jun 30, 2010

PSFK sat down with Anna Klingmann for a conversation covering trends in architecture as they pertain to sustainability and health. Her agency, Klingmann, specializes in a niche area where architecture meets branding. Although not all applications of branding will bring about improved communities and healthier living/working spaces, Klingmann’s work clearly demonstrates the importance of branding in nurturing a sense of belonging.

The Ad Cannes Job

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jun 29, 2010

An annual orgasm of self-love -- remember, the awards aren't voted by clients or consumers -- suggests to me that the advertising industry is still unable to talk to itself about what's happening. Creative ain't what it used to be. Actually, it never was. For the entirety of human history, advertising was a vehicle to get people to buy things. Creativity was important as long as it was applied to this goal; even corporate ads from the late 1800s had a direct link to a sales strategy.

A Rolling Stone Revival

Barry Silverstein
Jun 29, 2010

While the Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General" created enough of a flap to lead to U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's public downfall, it also represented the culmination of the very heady rebirth of a counterculture brand.

How Cognitive Surplus Will Change the World

Clay Shirky
Jun 28, 2010

Clay Shirky looks at "cognitive surplus" -- the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we're busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we're building a better, more cooperative world.

Facebook Upgrade: How New Features Will Help Brands Connect With Fans

Aaron Strout and Kevin Tate
Jun 25, 2010

There is a good chance that if you are reading this article you already have a personal Facebook account. There's also a possibility that many of you may be trying your hand at tapping into the power of the 400 million-plus members on Facebook. However, Facebook's recent announcements on how its platform is evolving may be as clear as mud. To that end, the goal of this article is to break the latest news into four areas: 1. Graph API 2. Analytics 3. Storable data 4. Social plug-ins. Within each area, we'll translate the technical into what it means (at a high level) and, most important, how brands will benefit.

Watch Out: Apple May Aim To Reshape Online Advertising

Steve Rubel
Jun 24, 2010

Apple, without a doubt, is creating a massive sea change in how we interact with digital content. Note that I didn't say "the Web." This is because the millions of iPad and iPhone users spend more time within Apple's walled garden of apps rather than in a browser. However, there's a potential dark side to the millions of Apple devices being sold and it should give every marketer pause.

Levi’s Features a Town Trying to Recover

Stuart Elliot
Jun 24, 2010

A campaign for a clothing brand is rolling up its sleeves, figuratively and literally, as the ads are set in an actual distressed town and the advertiser donates money to help revitalization efforts there. The campaign is for the flagship Levi’s brand sold by Levi Strauss & Company, and it is the start of the second year of an initiative that carries the theme “Go forth.”

The Reality of Social Media

Adrian Chan
Jun 23, 2010

I will try to demonstrate here the manner in which social acts and communication result in mediated social realities. And suggest that the relational connections and value-added associations which are the byproduct of social media use create a marketplace of content whose highest value, individually motivated subjective choices, we are only beginning to capture and mine.

Cute, Cuddly and Commercial

Tim Bradshaw
Jun 22, 2010

Aleksandr is one of the more prominent examples of the trend for animated characters or puppets to act as brand ambassadors. US consumers have long been charmed by the frogs that feature in Budweiser’s advertising or the cockney gecko that stars in Geico’s campaigns. Meanwhile, Domo, the saw-toothed mascot for Japanese broadcaster NHK, has gone on to appear in video games and comics, and spread virally online. But the proliferation and popularity of these creations and the merchandising they have spawned raises questions for both brand owners and advertising agencies hoping to capitalise on the value of the intellectual property.

Old Brands Pitch Stability, Integrity

Allen Adamson
Jun 21, 2010

The past is making a comeback in brands and branding today and it's not unusual at all. Marketers recognize that in our weird and wonderful minds we believe former days are better days and that even people too young to remember feel a fondness for places and products that evoke happier times.

Why Your Brand Should Have a Purpose

Erin Mulligan Nelson
Jun 21, 2010

A brand has to have a reason for being. It should make a difference in the world in some way. Moreover, a brand has to have an organization that powers it -- an organization that is passionate and committed to bringing that brand to life in all facets of the company. The power of a brand starts from the people who create the experience every day. And the purpose the brand represents needs to come through at every possible touch point.

10 Brands That Will Disappear In 2011: 24/7 Wall Street

24/7 Wall St.
Jun 21, 2010

24/7 Wall St. regularly compiles a report of brands that are likely to disappear in the near-term. Last April, and again in December, we published our findings. Usually, it would take a full year before such a list could be compiled again. However, the current economic climate has accelerated this process and a majority of the brands on the first two lists are either gone, have been acquired, or have filed for bankruptcy. Last April, 24/7 Wall St. identified twelve brands that our analysis showed would disappear, including Saturn, Borders, Palm, AIG and Eddie Bauer.

Why Twitter's New Ads are Ingenious

Pete Cashmore
Jun 18, 2010

Twitter this week began testing a new type of advertising: "Promoted Trends." Under the new system, brands can pay to appear below the "Trending Topics," the most talked-about terms on Twitter at any given moment. The idea is, in a word, ingenious -- the perfect way to generate revenue from the popular social network without infuriating users.

The Story Of Self-Identity

Bob Deutsch
Jun 18, 2010

Even as we pull out of the economic downturn, many people are still curtailing spending because a new meaning of "value" is taking hold. This shift is particularly prominent among what we call the "Post-88s" -- females, age 22 and under -- who have grown up with social media. Their story of self-identity and its impact on value is so distinct from the older half of the Gen Y population that they can no longer be considered as one market.

The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

Rachel Botsman
Jun 17, 2010

Rachel Botsman is the co-author of "What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption." Here, with a dazzlingly graphic display, she presents a compelling case for 21st Century sharing.

Meet Me Exclusively @Target

Laurent Bourscheidt
Jun 17, 2010

Although luxury brands remained surprisingly isolated from the downturn in 2007 and 2008, 2009 was tough on all sectors, including haute couture. Even the acclaimed Christian Lacroix was driven out of business. Naturally, when circumstances call for bold actions, it's tempting to expand your market to enhance your bottom line. But is it possible without compromising the luxury nature of your brand?

What Mountain Dew Learned from 'DEWmocracy'

Elaine Wong
Jun 16, 2010

Consumers generated word-of-mouth buzz about the brand, in many cases, without any incentives—something O’Brien sees as being crucial to long-term engagement with fans. In an interview with Brandweek, O’Brien discussed the results of both "DEWmocracy" campaigns, and how, moving forward, social media and crowdsourcing will play a bigger role in the brand’s innovation.

Kraft Foods CEO: That Was Then, This Is Now

Nielsen News
Jun 15, 2010

Kicking off Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference in Las Vegas, Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods addressed the ways reaching consumers have changed significantly over the last twenty years and how the Internet and social media are increasingly important components of overall marketing strategies. Previously, brands acted as teachers, according to Rosenfeld. Marketing was designed to build an image around a brand with the expectation that consumers would be attracted to it; they would aspire to the brand. Today, that “paradigm is upside down,” as brands want to learn from consumers and find ways to connect with them.

Why a Museum Is the UK’s Top Brand on Twitter

Matt Rhodes
Jun 15, 2010

Last week we looked a ranking of the top ten brands on Facebook globally, based on the number of people who ‘like’ them. There were no real surprises – Starbucks came top and the rest of the top ten was filled with well-known consumer and fashion brands. The same dataset, from Famecount, can be used to look at brands on Twitter and, unlike with Facebook, it throws up some unexpected findings. For example the most followed brand in the UK isn’t a consumer or fashion brand, an airline or a bank. It’s a museum: @Tate.

A World of Inspirational Problem-Solving, Savvy Brands and Smart Marketing

Ann Marie Kerwin
Jun 14, 2010

They are among the World's Hottest Brands, an Ad Age Insights global report that tells the stories of 30 brands succeeding on a global, regional and local level. The goal was not to create a list of the largest global marketers or rank the brands that contribute the most to their company's market value -- plenty of others tackle those lofty questions. Rather, we sought to chronicle the brands percolating at the local and regional level; sometimes great marketing lessons can happen in your backyard, sometimes halfway around the world.

McDigital McDonald's Gets Social With Moms

Mark J. Miller
Jun 14, 2010

Brandchannel’s weekly Digital Watch feature takes a deeper look at brands’ digital strategy. Our latest case study, McDonald’s, takes a multi-tiered approach to digital branding that cozies up to moms to reinforce its nutritional, family values.

The Global CMO Interview: Trevor Edwards, Nike

Jeremy Mullman
Jun 14, 2010

As Nike's top marketer, Trevor Edwards, VP-global brand and category management, has helped the world's leading footwear and apparel company grow its market-share lead by becoming possibly the world's most accomplished digital marketer.

Closing the Digital Frontier

Michael Hirschorn
Jun 13, 2010

The era of the Web browser’s dominance is coming to a close. And the Internet’s founding ideology—that information wants to be free, and that attempts to constrain it are not only hopeless but immoral— suddenly seems naive and stale in the new age of apps, smart phones, and pricing plans. What will this mean for the future of the media—and of the Web itself?

Saving Chevrolet Means Sending ‘Chevy’ to Dump

Richard S. Chang
Jun 10, 2010

On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II. And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.

An Advertising Reformation?

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jun 10, 2010

I may be looking too hard for hopeful signs but I think we may be at the threshold of a reformation in advertising, which will mean larger changes in the communications world overall. Here are two of them and why I think they’re important (and somewhat related).

History for Dollars

David Brooks
Jun 9, 2010

Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod. Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance.

A Sense of Place, A World of Augmented Reality

Mitchell Schwarzer
Jun 9, 2010

In the third millennium it’s getting harder than ever to stay in place. Who hasn’t seen a driver almost crash while talking on a cell phone? Who hasn’t noticed children in a park staring down at a game-boy instead of romping about? Who hasn’t been to a dinner party and caught someone sneaking a glance at his handheld under the table and sending a tweet about the first course before even finishing it? Each week, it seems, industry comes up with new gadgets that help us to jump out of our bodies and flash out there to everything under the sun that can be encoded by electrical signals, pulses of light and binary values. Few of these digital experiences would have registered before the 21st century and some have become widespread only in the past few years. We’re in the first stage of a transformation of our sense of place as momentous as that which occurred a couple of centuries ago, when products from smoke-stacked factories forged modern society.

Mass Mingling

Trend Briefing June 2010
Jun 9, 2010

Long gone are the days when 'online' was synonymous with social isolation and loneliness. In fact, we're now witnessing the exact opposite: technology is driving people to connect and meet up en masse with others, in the 'real world'. It makes for an interesting, easily-digested trend, begging to be turned into new services for your customers.

Pepsi Community Effort Finds Fans on Social Nets

Elaine Wong
Jun 9, 2010

Pepsi's social media-backed community change effort, dubbed “Refresh Project,” is off to a good start. So far, the soft beverage giant has funded more than 100 projects and given back approximately $5 million to local communities, according to Ana Maria Irazabal, marketing director for Pepsi. With new entries and winners announced every month, the brand is on track to hit its goal of $20 million in grant money this year. "Refresh Project" is also helping Pepsi expands its already massive presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social nets. The initiative has sparked human interaction and is affecting change in communities, Irazabal said.

Positioning A Place Brand

Brad VanAuken
Jun 9, 2010

Given the variety of needs and considerations by different municipality audiences, the question I most often am asked by stakeholders interested in municipality branding is, “Can one brand position work for a municipality or do we need a separate brand position for each audience?” The answer is “yes.” Yes, one overarching brand position can work but it must be designed to work with more specific brand messages for each audience.

Time For New Market Research Paradigm?

Karlene Lukovitz
Jun 9, 2010

While the Internet and social media are a potential boon to market researchers, they've also raised concerns and ongoing debate about methodology and the ability to project results. Now, one social media-based research firm is charging into the fray with a report that maintains that today's empowered consumers and marketers' need for faster, actionable insights requires an approach that combines the strengths of newer, "humanistic" approaches with those of traditional, experimentally-based research.

Does Who Creates Content Matter to Marketers in a 'Pro-Am' Media World?

Edmund Lee
Jun 7, 2010

If you're trolling the web and hit upon an Examiner.com story, you might think you're reading the San Francisco Examiner. But you're not. Instead, Examiner.com is a crowd-sourced content play with the backing of billionaire investor Philip Anschutz. With over 40,000 freelancers in more than 240 neighborhoods, the Denver-based start-up aims to dominate every province of local news, bringing marketers and advertising along with it.

Competition Comes to a Head for World Cup Sponsors

Eric Pfanner
Jun 7, 2010

The first decisive marketing goal of World Cup 2010 was scored nearly three years before the opening match of the soccer tournament, in which Mexico will face South Africa on Friday. It came when Nike, the American sports shoe and clothing maker, acquired Umbro, a British supplier of soccer gear that is a longtime sponsor of the English national team. The deal signaled a new determination by Nike to challenge Adidas, the German soccer apparel powerhouse, on its European home turf.

What Generation Gap?

Gregg Lipman
Jun 4, 2010

Will the idea of a "generation gap" eventually atrophy into obsolescence? We see this not only in the video-game world, but also in other brands: moms and daughters with matching Ugg boots, Juicy Couture sweatsuits, Abercrombie hoodies and Coach handbags. Fathers and sons comparing fantasy football rankings on matching iPhones or killing precious productivity hours on YouTube. Teachers and students sipping from matching Starbucks latte cups or ordering the same items from Pinkberry. Moms and daughters rooting feverishly for their favorite "American Idol" contestants or shaking their heads in utter disgust at the shameless and hygienically dubious conduct of the latest batch of "The Real World" participants.

The Situationally Aware Business

Steve Rubel
Jun 3, 2010

All of these are disconnected events; a Polaroid snapshot of our psychology at a single moment in time. Some of these memes are ephemeral. Others may be lasting. However, our success as marketers increasingly hinges on having a deep, real-time understanding of our networked environment and how these themes can impact our programs. Enter situational awareness--an essential skill every CMO-level executive and his staff must build and evolve.

At Toyota, a Cultural Shift

Micheline Maynard
Jun 3, 2010

As Mr. St. Angelo and several other longtime American executives tell it, a new era has arrived at Toyota. Its face is Mr. Toyoda, who this month reaches his first year as president, and by these accounts, has come to appreciate how closely Toyota flirted with disaster in the United States — and is prepared to shake things up because of it.

Moving From Strategic Planning to Story Telling

Roger Martin
Jun 2, 2010

Corporate strategists often struggle with strategic options. First, there's a lot of worrying about what they have to come up with to make the proposed option credible: they spend hours on SWOT analyses and spreadsheets, which gives them reasons to kill their ideas at worst and can slow down the process of coming up with ideas at best.

Could Pabst Be Too Cool?

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jun 1, 2010

PBR can trace its success directly to its failure. It started the 2000s as a has-been brand name, so pointless and uncool that it was perfectly poised to become cool when it was touched by the dark, abstract magic that drives consumer trends. No schmarty-pants marketer can take credit for architecting the Phoenix-like rise that followed; the brand was owned by a charitable trust that knows about as much about consumer tastes as you'd expect a charitable trust to know. It didn't hurt that PBR was the beer of choice for the wacky Dennis Hopper character in the movie "Blue Velvet" but the brand's revival was pretty much organic, from what I can tell.

KFC Could Learn Something About Itself and Marketing if It Listened to Consumers

Bob Garfield
Jun 1, 2010

Kentucky Fried Chicken, the serial phony immortalized in some of the most stunningly dishonest marketing efforts of the past 10 years. The chain's latest outrage is a promotion with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in which 50 cents is donated to the foundation for every special pink bucket of chicken purchased -- that is, for every 20 grams of sodium, every 2,500 calories, every 120 grams of fat in KFC's smallest pail. Whoa. How low can you go?

Brands' Mass Appeal

Brian Morrissey
Jun 1, 2010

Judy Hu, GE's global director of advertising and branding, on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference last week, discussed a new effort by GE to crowdsource ideas for how to "avoid the lame and embrace the awesome" in digital media. Over the next four days, GE collected 60 suggestions, ranging from ideas for ad campaigns to product concepts. The effort is the latest example of a worldwide brand testing the crowdsourcing waters. The move has put the spotlight back on the ongoing debate about the value of such efforts -- including to creators.

Why Nike's 'Write the Future' Is Rewriting the Past

Ana Andjelic
May 28, 2010

Everyone is talking about the new Nike World Cup spot, and with good reason: It's a beautifully told story that transcends media formats to deliver a truly emotional and inspirational experience. In 30 seconds, it appears that Nike finally cracked the code by combining compelling narrative with the power of digital distribution. And, Wieden & Kennedy showed us what it means for a brand to truly participate in culture. Or, did it? Is this really still a way to build a strong digital brand?

For Brands, Bad News Can Be Good

MIchael Maslansky
May 28, 2010

We are living in a world of skeptics, where credibility remains essential to engaging customers in a conversation. Yet companies no longer get the benefit of the doubt they once could expect. In this environment marketers need to remember the long-forgotten best policy concerning honesty--something often obscured in today's ultra-sophisticated marketing and communication dogma. When it comes to effectively engaging your audience and truly establishing trust, talking about a product's weaknesses can actually be the best way to communicate its--and your--strengths.

The British Airways Strike, the Union Boss and Twitter

Matt Rhodes
May 28, 2010

British Airways cabin crew are on strike for the second of what could be a number of strikes this year. Last minute talks were taking place over the weekend until they broke up. And BA CEO, Willie Walsh, is blaming the collapse of the talks on Twitter.

We Are The Champions

Brian Solis
May 27, 2010

Social Media marketing is not new nor is it widely established or even understood. However in 2010, it will completely transform the way businesses attract customers and the way consumers find the businesses and services that matter to them. And like that, an overnight landmark, which really is over a decade in the making, will challenge business owners, more so than today, as they now compete for the future, right now. Social Networks are no longer the playgrounds we once perceived. The simple truth is this; social networking is not for just for kids or people with too much free time on their hands.

CMOs: Market with Heart and Mind

Claire Huang
May 25, 2010

By all official indications, the Great Recession has very likely ended. But as marketers, we know better than to interpret this to mean we can pick up right where we left off prior to the steep economic slide. Many consumers have readjusted their budgets and some continue to cope with concerns about the security of their jobs. Even those who have not been directly touched are still anxious about the future. Things that once mattered to our customers no longer seem so important to them. That's why we have to reconnect with them in a way that reflects their new reality.

Facebook's Culture Problem May Be Fatal

Bruce Nussbaum
May 25, 2010

Facebook's imbroglio over privacy reveals what may be a fatal business model. I know because my students at Parsons The New School For Design tell me so. They live on Facebook and they are furious at it. This was the technology platform they were born into, built their friendships around, and expected to be with them as they grew up, got jobs, and had families. They just assumed Facebook would evolve as their lives shifted from adolescent to adult and their needs changed. Facebook's failure to recognize this culture change deeply threatens its future profits. At the moment, it has an audience that is at war with its advertisers. Not good.

Post-Digital Era Brings Traits of Web to Real World

Teressa Iezzi
May 24, 2010

Today, much of the marketing world has embraced the spirit of the digital age, and perhaps the strongest evidence is that it's doing a lot of work that's not so, well, "digital." The best companies have harnessed the digital mindset and taken the shareable, ongoing, interactive, participatory nature of digital and created brand experiences that matter to people where they ought to -- in their real, everyday lives.

The Death of the Open Web

Virginia Heffernan
May 24, 2010

People who find the Web distasteful — ugly, uncivilized — have nonetheless been forced to live there: it’s the place to go for jobs, resources, services, social life, the future. But now, with the purchase of an iPhone or an iPad, there’s a way out, an orderly suburb that lets you sample the Web’s opportunities without having to mix with the riffraff. This suburb is defined by apps from the glittering App Store: neat, cute homes far from the Web city center, out in pristine Applecrest Estates. In the migration of dissenters from the “open” Web to pricey and secluded apps, we’re witnessing urban decentralization, suburbanization and the online equivalent of white flight.

World's Most Reputable Companies

Laurie Burkitt
May 24, 2010

When top executives set out to build well-regarded companies, most start in their home countries. If they're successful, strong business practices and values they craft there will translate overseas. As companies become more connected and businesses more international, creating a first-class reputation across borders is critical. For some companies, this can be the difference between success and failure. So what is the secret to earning esteem that spans the world? And which companies are best at doing it?

Marketing And Sales: Bracing For The Big Conversation

Christine Crandell
May 21, 2010

We've all been there. It's that dreaded moment of truth when you realize that having The Talk, The Big Conversation, perhaps even The Great Ultimatum, is inescapable. It could involve your child, your spouse, your subordinate or your colleague. But in every case, it only arrives when it's too late to pretend that the conflicts aren't there or don't really matter. If you're in marketing, that moment often means getting to the bottom of differences that, in so many companies, force your own professional efforts out of phase with those of sales. And in a dicey economy, when doing more with less has become a mantra, alignment between the two functions has now become a core survival strategy.

Businesses Aren't Charities, and We Don't Want Them to Be

Debora Spar
May 21, 2010

Like motherhood and apple pie, corporate social responsibility has achieved iconic status as a feel-good pursuit. Corporations around the world have embraced its charitable philosophy and created divisions devoted to its pursuit. The problem, however, is that corporate social responsibility — by design and definition — can only go so far. Because no matter how widely a firm defines its reach, and how generous its leadership grows, the primary objective of any for-profit firm in a capitalist system will still be as Friedman described it: to maximize the returns of its shareholders. Or at least not to engage in any activity that undermines those returns.

How Facebook Is Redefining Privacy

Dan Fletcher
May 20, 2010

Sometime in the next few weeks, Facebook will officially log its 500 millionth active citizen. If the website were granted terra firma, it would be the world's third largest country by population, two-thirds bigger than the U.S. More than 1 in 4 people who browse the Internet not only have a Facebook account but have returned to the site within the past 30 days.

One-to-Some: A New Mode of Communication

Mike Arauz
May 20, 2010

This post is about the future of communication. We’ve had one-to-one communication forever. Mass-media created a revolution in one-to-many communication. And the internet has shown us the power and possibility of many-to-many communication. We are slowly starting to see the formation of a new kind of communication, which – for lack of a better term – I’m calling one-to-some communication. The promise of the social web is a fundamentally new form of communication in which each of us can move fluidly between one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communication with each bit of information we share.

Keeping It Real

Matthew Huss
May 20, 2010

In a time of big promises and increasing consumer skepticism, building a strong corporate brand starts with understanding the truth about an organization.

Four Axioms of Brand Recovery in a New Economy

Jay Greene
May 20, 2010

Though the economy is now hinting at improved conditions ahead, consensus remains that the recession's effects on consumer spending habits will endure beyond the recovery. Much like the Great Depression changed the spending habits of a generation, the current recession has left consumers reaching past the lure of luxury in search of value-driven purchases. While this has been a boon to mass and value-priced retailers such as Target and Amazon, it has left many premium brands swooning.

Inside Intel's Marketing Strategy

Laurie Burkitt
May 19, 2010

Intel has a new plan for growth: getting in good with young, hip adults. This week the Santa Clara, Calif., processor giant launches, in collaboration with the Montreal-based magazine Vice, what it calls the Creator's Project--a multi-year, international marketing program designed to showcase technology-influenced art, film and music.

Traditional Ads Yield Social Traction

Brian Morrissey
May 18, 2010

That social media is a powerful tool for raising awareness is not new news. But its increasing power is leading some advertisers to reconsider how they plan and measure traditional ad campaigns as they increasingly look to so-called earned media impressions as being as important as primary paid media. The promise of what some are calling "free media" is that it's more credible than paid placements, particularly when it comes from consumers speaking to other consumers.

When It Comes To Social Media, Many Marketers Jump The Gun

Jeremiah Owyang
May 17, 2010

Greenpeace's organized brandjacking of Nestle SA's Facebook page is making CMOs afraid of social media. There is good reason for this: The power has clearly turned to those that participate, and now detractors are starting to organize using the same organized marketing campaigns that companies create.

The Reality of Social Media

Adrian Chang
May 17, 2010

The internet changes over time. That the technology has evolved is obvious. But how we use the internet is also changing. So we have two conceptual distinctions — technology and people — that we frequently conflate into one idea of the internet. This post is about teasing apart the objective and subjective dimensions of social media, to examine what’s behind the relational economy we now live in, and its particular mode of production. All commerce and much personal and social utility implied by use of social media owes to the subjective value added to what was, previously, a mode of production of information (publishing).

Why Betterness Is Good Business

Umair Haque
May 14, 2010

Striving to do more good is associated with greater profitability, equity and asset returns, and shareholder value creation. But that's still not good enough. Today, the bar is being raised: success is itself changing. Those are yesterday's metrics of success — more importantly, maximizing good lets companies outperform on tomorrow's measures of success.

The Pocket Guide to Defensive Branding

Pete Blackshaw
May 14, 2010

Defensive branding is protecting and defending brand equity and reputation in an increasingly consumer-driven environment. Think media planning plus actuarial viral risk management. It's first strategic, then tactical. The logic goes something like this: Sandbag before you sell. Protect before you promote. Defend before you dance. Self-critique before you self-destruct.


Trend Briefing May 2010
May 12, 2010

Whatever industry you’re in, in the end, everything is about status. And since what constitutes status in consumer societies is fragmenting rapidly, here’s a (modest) framework to help you start exploring new status symbols and stories with your customers.

The Big Companies of the Future Will All Be Shape-Shifters

Nilofer Merchant
May 11, 2010

A great deal of my community has given up on large organizations, stating that the “true” innovation is now happening at start-ups. What that story misses is that many of the “free agents” we see around us as consultants, and so on are actually part of a larger enterprise, albeit in a loose relationship. Larger organizations will survive if only because of the human need to be apart of something larger and the efficiencies of those ecosystems.

Traditional CMO Roles Won't Position Your Company or Your Career for Growth

Carlos Cata and Scott Davis
May 11, 2010

The environment for marketers is changing dramatically. Marketing's leadership in driving business success has never been more in demand, and those who have demonstrably begun to expand mindsets, skills and capabilities are setting the standard. The difference this shift makes has never been more evident than during the bleakness of the lingering recession. Businesses whose marketing leaders have embraced its components may not have emerged unscathed, but they at least have found themselves entering 2010 with substantial positive momentum.

“Daddy, What’s a Brand?” and 9 More Awkward Questions for Uncertain Times

Graham Button
May 11, 2010

Chiquita, Victoria's Secret, The GOP, Amnesty International. They all use marketing and invite trust in a distinct belief system. They're all, to one degree or another, brands. For a brand, nirvana is when your good name is so widely endorsed that it enters the language. "Pass the Kleenex." "Google it." But that's the top of a long and slippery slope--look at Toyota and Tiger Woods. A healthy brand drives up your stock, and vice versa. These are the things we thought we knew. It's 2010--are they still true?

FCC Web Rules Create Pushback

Amy Schatz and Spencer E. Ante
May 7, 2010

The head of the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday outlined a proposal for regulating the Internet that he described as a "third way," or middle ground between "heavy-handed" regulation and a do-nothing approach that could hurt competition and leave consumers unprotected.

Windmills in a Hurricane

Jonathan Salem Baskin
May 6, 2010

Goldman Sachs may have broken the law making gazillions betting its products would crap out, the entire country of Greece is probably going out of business, and financial services brands are telling individual investors that they deserve better from their brokers. Duh. It seems like absolutely reasonable messaging until you get into the details:

Beyond the Balance Sheet: Platinum Brands

Christina Settimi and Kurt Badenhausen
May 5, 2010

Last year was the worst year ever for global luxury goods, with worldwide sales falling 8%. But in a look at the world's most valuable luxury brands, Forbes identifies 10 that are poised to thrive in better economic times. These brands, including BMW and Louis Vuitton, share some qualities that help keep them strong even when wealthy consumers are curtailing spending.

BP: Victim of Its Own Good Marketing

Gardiner Morse
May 5, 2010

BP isn't all bad any more than Petrobras is all good. But, unlike Petrobras (and its informal boss), BP seems to have forgotten the number-one rule in marketing and management: walk the talk. BP is a victim of a disingenuous ad campaign that worked too well, and you have to wonder if its reputation will ever fully recover. Writing in HBR in 2007, reputational risk consultant Robert Eccles and his co-authors presciently noted, "When the reputation of a company is more positive than its underlying reality, this gap poses a substantial risk...BP appears to be learning this the hard way." BP doesn't yet seem to have absorbed the lesson, but other companies can surely learn from its mistake.

Consumer Groups Say Proposed Privacy Bill is Flawed

Stephanie Clifford
May 5, 2010

Consumer groups have been fighting what they see as the prevalence of online tracking, where online advertising is selected for a certain user — perhaps because he once visited a company’s home page, perhaps because he showed an interest in automobiles or baby products, or perhaps because he is a middle-aged man. As opposition has intensified, companies like Google and Yahoo have adjusted their own privacy policies in response to consumer concern. Industry groups, while arguing that free Internet content depends on this type of sophisticated advertising, have issued their own self-regulatory principles.

Lessons in Brand and Social Media Storytelling

Michael Margolis
May 4, 2010

Our tastes have expanded. Not just with food, but how we consume information, relationships, and experiences. Our expectations are on the rise. Social media storytelling is changing things. We demand communication that doesn’t insult our intelligence. Our instincts tell us we’re better than this. And so increasingly we opt-out, filter, and turn off the noise. We have settings for that. The message better be worthy of our attention.

Pepsi Aims to Reach Consumers Near Restaurants

Laurie Burkitt
May 4, 2010

PepsiCo is making a strong push to reach out to consumers on their turf. In the next two months, the Purchase, N.Y., beverage and snack food company plans to roll out a partnership with location-based social networking company Foursquare and to launch its own geo-targeting mobile application, Pepsi Loot. Both programs, when activated by consumers, will let the app's users know when they get close to Pepsi-selling restaurants and fast food chains, such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Arby's. When they stop by to pick up a drink, Pepsi will reward them with points that can be redeemed for a free music download from artists such as Neon Trees and Katharine McPhee.

Who's Responsible for Your Company's Reputation?

Ron Ashkenas
Apr 29, 2010

Reputation is a "soft" concept that most managers and employees don't feel is their job to manage. Instead they view it as the role of senior executives, or of functions like corporate communications, marketing, advertising, or public relations. While this is certainly true to some extent, it may also be a cop out. For example, two firms that are consistently at or near the top of the "most reputable" companies list (based on extensive consumer surveys by the non-profit Reputation Institute) are Johnson & Johnson and The Walt Disney Company. Despite having many types of businesses, J&J emphasizes through its "credo" that every employee has a responsibility to put the well-being of the people they serve first. Similarly, Disney makes every employee feel responsible for the entertainment products and services they provide. So maybe their positions on the top of the reputation list are no accidents.

Understanding Consumer Identity

Dr. Bob Deutsch
Apr 29, 2010

Finally, marketers are acknowledging the necessity of listening to consumers - aka "people" - and brands are adjusting to the social networked environment by opening conversations. Market researchers cannot ignore these developments since they dictate the necessity of understanding peoples' identities, not only their interests. We Are People, Not Data Points - See Us Live

A Rant on the Airline Industry

David Polinchock
Apr 28, 2010

For all of the talk about the empowerment of the customer, some industries seemed to have missed this entire conversation. Frankly, airlines (and others, like banks) continue to run their business in complete defiance of anything like putting their customers first. Remember United Breaks Guitars? Today that video has 8,395,275 views. Given the complaints I'm seeing, I'm not sure that United learned anything from that experience.

Nike’s Women Problem

Timothy Egan
Apr 28, 2010

Is there anything creepier than a big, beer-breathed celebrity athlete exposing himself in a night club and hitting on underage girls, all the while protected by an entourage of off-duty cops? Well, yes. It’s the big, corporate sponsor — Nike, in this case — that continues trying to sell product with the creep as their role model.

How Europeans Engage With Social Media

Bas van den Beld
Apr 27, 2010

You seemingly can’t live without social media these days, or at least, that is what many in our industry believe. Why? Because “everybody” is using it. Everybody is communicating, “everybody is a publisher.” But does that mean that every European is publishing through social media? Well, not exactly. Yes, Europeans are online en masse and are using social media in big numbers. But how are they using social media?

The Future of Stealth Marketing?

David Polinchock
Apr 27, 2010

Saw The Joneses over the weekend. This movie has kicked up a bunch of articles about stealth marketing and who's using it. As their tagline says, They're not just living the American dream, they're selling it. Now, this isn't really a new approach, brands have been using stealth marketing for quite sometime. BzzAgent created some controversy when it first started a few years back because their agents were not disclosing the fact that they were promoting a product.

Humor Can Create Engagements

Aaron Perlut
Apr 27, 2010

Millions are embracing a hot steaming plate of serious issues served with a side of mockery of the politicians, businessmen and celebrities who populate conventional news. And given this, how big a leap is it for companies to mock themselves as a means to reach audiences? It can be done effectively. Last fall, for instance, we worked with Intuit subsidiary Quicken, issuing a report on Mustached Americans being in greater financial need due to their profligate spending habits on ladies, leather pants and teeth whitening. The result was the most publicity Quicken had ever received and the company reached new consumers in a humorous way.

The Imitation Economy

Drake Bennett
Apr 26, 2010

Invaluable as innovation may be, our relentless focus on it may be obscuring the value of its much-maligned relative, imitation. Imitation has always had a faintly disreputable ring to it — presidents do not normally give speeches extolling the virtues of the copycat. But where innovation brings new things into the world, imitation spreads them; where innovators break the old mold, imitators perfect the new one; and while innovators can win big, imitators often win bigger.

Too Many Shops, Not Enough Business

Brian Sheehan
Apr 26, 2010

In college, my economics professor used to say that the difference between too much supply and not enough is one unit. Such is the tenuous nature of economic equilibrium. But when it comes to the advertising industry, the basics of supply and demand seem to be permanently suspended. The bottom line? There are far too many agencies chasing too few dollars.

Why the Future Is in New-Century Brands

Dean Crutchfield
Apr 23, 2010

The baleful consequences of the Great Recession cannot be resolved by maintaining the same approaches as when we created it. The "new normal" in business means many brand owners need to leverage something much larger than a re-take on marketing. They need to accelerate their collaboration with consumers, so that principles such as "for people, for planet, for profit," combined with tools of the web and next-generation media, can transform brands' role in the economy, society and business.

For Web’s New Wave, Sharing Details Is the Point

Brad Stone
Apr 23, 2010

Mark Brooks wants the whole Web to know that he spent $41 on an iPad case at an Apple store, $24 eating at an Applebee’s, and $6,450 at a Florida plastic surgery clinic for nose work. Too much information, you say? On the Internet, there seems to be no such thing. A wave of Web start-ups aims to help people indulge their urge to divulge — from sites like Blippy, which Mr. Brooks used to broadcast news of what he bought, to Foursquare, a mobile social network that allows people to announce their precise location to the world, to Skimble, an iPhone application that people use to reveal, say, how many push-ups they are doing and how long they spend in yoga class.

Privacy, Publicness & Penises

Jeff Jarvis
Apr 22, 2010

With so much discussion — even panic — about privacy today, I fear that we risk losing the benefits of publicness, of the connections enabled by the internet and our interconnected world. If we shift to a default of private, we lose much and I argue that we should weigh that choice when we decide what to put behind a wall — and there are too many walls being build today. But we’re not discussing the benefits of the public vs. the private. I want to spark that discussion.

At 40, Earth Day Is Now Big Business

Leslie Kaufman
Apr 22, 2010

So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.” Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.

Why It's Time to Hit the Reset Button on Trust

Pete Blackshaw
Apr 21, 2010

I'm convinced the time is now for a fresh, new -- perhaps even difficult -- conversation on trust. And like any good conversation, we need to start with many more questions than answers. Marketers in particular need to ask really hard questions. Trust is the currency of effective advertising, and yet it's so curiously evasive and increasingly murky.

America's Most Popular Companies

Laurie Burkitt
Apr 20, 2010

With big names like Tiger Woods and Toyota Motor stepping into the spotlight of public scrutiny this year, reputation is a hot topic in the media and in corporate boardrooms. No company wants its public image to be the reason it has a hard time rebounding from the recession. So what factors shape the public's image of American businesses? Which companies do consumers trust and admire?

10 Companies With Social Responsibility at the Core

Bob Liodice
Apr 20, 2010

The following 10 companies stand out as prime examples of how social responsibility can be productively coupled with sound strategies to advance goodwill, while building sustainable and impressive businesses. They provide the leadership to demonstrate how marketers can pursue both objectives simultaneously. As such, socially conscious companies have stepped up their efforts with increasing effectiveness and productivity. It is an impressive movement and one that invites society at large to do even more. Let's use these as examples for "how to get it done" so that we can effectively expand our efforts to give back.

The Re-Invention Economy

Billee Howard
Apr 20, 2010

A push for real and meaningful innovation permeates the business environment. Leading brands embrace innovation as a tangible driver of business performance as opposed to a meaningless moniker-and inculcate true innovation and entrepreneurialism into their cultures, employees and overall enterprises. Innovation in the Re-Invention Economy shows its evolved self in every aspect of organizational drive and is industry agnostic in its rapid manifestation.

Marketing To Men

Bob Deutsch
Apr 20, 2010

Men are, well, men. They live in the 'now.' They are concrete thinkers that like to consummate, finish. A male axiom is "complete what you set out to do." Men are interested in power and in looking good, even more than being good. In short, that's the nature of beauty for the beast. You cannot market to men the same way you market to women. It's not a simple transformation of changing colors, fonts or packaging. Men and women are different biologically, psychologically and socially.

Modern Strategy and Hinduism: Finding Parallels

Vijay Govindarajan
Apr 16, 2010

Strategy used to be about protecting your existing competitive advantage. Today, it's about finding the next advantage. Strategy starts to decay the moment it's created. That's why corporations must develop strategies that address tomorrow's business realities. Strategic actions that companies take belong in one of three boxes.

Serious Games Get UPS Rookies Ready for the Road

Eliane Alhadeff & Jennifer Levitz
Apr 16, 2010

With the aid of a US$1.8 million grant from the Department of Labor, they studied the way young people learn in a world of video games and smart phones. In collaboration with MIT; Virginia Tech; and the Institute of the Future, they build a high-tech, next-generation training facility called UPS Integrad. This facility offers 3-D simulations and webcasts along with traditional classroom instruction. Trainees are recorded to show them how they look in action. UPS teach them to drive in a replica outdoor city called Clarkville that has real streets, street signs, sidewalks, and simulated commercial and residential delivery and pickup sites.

Twitter Brand Raises Questions

Mark Ritson
Apr 15, 2010

Twitter. The privately held company received a new round of investment last fall, believed to be $100m, which values the business at a whopping $1bn (£624m). That makes Twitter roughly as valuable as WH Smith - which provides an excellent point of comparison. WH Smith has done well this year. Its annual revenues are likely to be about £1.3bn, and most analysts are expecting those revenues to result in pre-tax profits of about £80m. Over at Twitter, for all its glorious PR and amazing technological impact, there is nothing. Not a cent. Because Twitter does not charge for its service.

So What Do We Do Now?

Ted Mininni
Apr 14, 2010

"Brands are dying," we're told. As a result, we hear that branding is no longer relevant. So now, what do we do?

Brands: Authenticity and Pattern Recognition

Roger Ehrenberg
Apr 14, 2010

When it comes to conversations, and specifically those conversations that are deemed valuable, I believe the overriding issue is authenticity. People tend to be pretty good at discerning who is real and who is merely a self-promoter, and power and influence tends to flow to those who are authentic. Do people want to converse with brands? I think that is the wrong question. The right question is "Do people want to converse with people who are authentic in their support of brands?" Starbucks the brand can't talk to you, but a passionate Starbucks employee can.

Who Owns Social, Anyway?

Pete Blackshaw
Apr 13, 2010

So who the heck owns social? That's a tricky question, not only because every business stakeholder -- marketing, PR, IT, research, investor relations, media, consumer relations -- seems to have a piece of social baked into their new DNA and delivery road map, but also because its definition and scope keep getting pulled in new, arguably more complicated, directions.

It's Only the Beginning

John Winsor
Apr 13, 2010

The business of marketing is in the midst of a massive cultural shift. While buzzwords like co-creation, mass-collaboration and crowdsourcing are all the rage, there’s actually a much bigger and deeper change going on with the way work gets done. Three disruptive forces: the expectation of transparency, the further digitization of the workforce and the rise of the curator class, all coupled with the current macro-economic conditions, have changed the world of marketing forever. Like it or not, from professional creatives to consumers, people want to be involved with your brand.

The Case for Being Disruptively Good

Umair Haque
Apr 12, 2010

It's the trillion dollar question. Justin Fox, in a recent post here, put it this way: "I don't think anyone has come up with an argument for or description of better business behavior that has anything like the elegance and power of the economists' 'incentives matter.' As long as it remains possible to get rich via less-than-upstanding behavior, and enjoy those riches, a lot of people in business will choose that path." I call it the egocentric question: "Why is doing good in our self-interest?"

The Brand Stand

J. Jennings Moss
Apr 12, 2010

For the second year in a row, Southwest Airlines is the top-rated brand among the nation’s small- and midsize-business owners and top executives. That’s the conclusion of a new survey of men and women who lead businesses with less than 500 employees that was conducted by American City Business Journals, the parent company of Portfolio.com. Although this is the sixth year of the survey, it’s the first year ACBJ has released the findings to the general public.

Consumer-Goods Makers Pour Out Ads

Ellen Byron
Apr 12, 2010

As wary Americans start to crack open their wallets, household-goods makers like Procter & Gamble Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Clorox Co. are cranking up their advertising, hoping to coax consumers farther out of their shells. Amid signs of an improving economy, recent survey data show consumers are more willing to splurge by eating out or buying new shoes, but the same doesn't necessarily hold for everyday household goods.

Consumers in U.S. Face the End of an Era of Cheap Credit

Nelson D. Schwartz
Apr 11, 2010

Even as prospects for the American economy brighten, consumers are about to face a new financial burden: a sustained period of rising interest rates. That, economists say, is the inevitable outcome of the nation’s ballooning debt and the renewed prospect of inflation as the economy recovers from the depths of the recent recession.

Facebook & Siebel: A Tale of Two Decades

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Apr 8, 2010

Advanced technology. Ideas that promise to revolutionize the way businesses are run. Out with the old, in with the new. Not sure how it'll make any money? Mere details. Get going or risk getting left behind. Great riches will come to those with the guts to throw caution and experience to the wind. CRM. Social media. We've seen the story before, and comparisons between the two phenomenon aren't new, either. But looking at things at the company level reveals a sobering possibility: we're about due for The Crash. The parallels are imprecise and sometimes the histories are outright apples and oranges. Get over it. If I'm even partially right, there's a reckoning a'coming.

Why the Spirit Airlines Baggage Fee Won't Fly

WIlliam C. Taylor
Apr 8, 2010

That sound you hear is the cry of outrage over the decision by Spirit Airlines to charge customers as much as $45 to stow carry-on baggage. It's a horrible idea, but not for the easy, airline-bashing reasons cited by most critics. In fact, this decision is a pretty interesting case study in the wrong ways for companies to respond to tough economic times--a reminder of how so many leaders manage to make bad situations worse.

Facebook is Evil

Peter Tanham
Apr 7, 2010

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of Google. This isn’t a post to describe my personal affection for a corporate entity, but it is an attempt to describe one element that I find particularly appealing. Don’t Be Evil. This phrase is Google’s infamous, informal corporate motto. I love it. Not only does it help reinforce my romantic, naive teenage dreams that I could become the next Richard Branson or Bill Gates just by doing good in the world, but it also helps prove that in the new business world, evil is bad for business.

Trust and Reputation Systems: Redistributing Power and Influence

Craig Newmark
Apr 7, 2010

People use social networking tools to figure out who they can trust and rely on for decision making. By the end of this decade, power and influence will shift largely to those people with the best reputations and trust networks, from people with money and nominal power. That is, peer networks will confer legitimacy on people emerging from the grassroots. This shift is already happening, gradually creating a new power and influence equilibrium with new checks and balances. It will seem dramatic when its tipping point occurs, even though we're living through it now. Everyone gets a chance to participate in large or small ways, giving a voice to what we once called "the silent majority."

Is Luxury Dead? Maybe Not

Tim Arnold
Apr 7, 2010

Guess who says the following attributes are most influential in making "important purchases" today: value, price, overall quality, good design and functionality? A clue: 84% of this group texts from cellphones; 78% use social networking; 66% use the mobile web and 57% use mobile apps. It's not who you think it is. In fact, it's a group whose median age is 45, not 19.

A Prediction: Twitter to Predict the Future

Brian Solis
Apr 7, 2010

Trending topics reveal much more than the objects that captivate the hearts, minds, and keyboards of Twitter users around the world. Twitter’s trends is a cultural mirror that reflects the state of attention and intention. And as such, Tweets then offer an MRI that visualizes the minds of consumers and more importantly, serve as a crystal ball that reveals the future of products and services before and soon after they’re released. For the most part, however, the vast amount of precious insight is widely untapped. Instead, businesses focus on volume and congregation, enticing brands to engage in the conversation rather than truly capturing and analyzing the activity that inherently inspires empathy and ultimately relevance. I think that’s about to change…

When Games Invade Real Life

Jesse Schell
Apr 3, 2010

Games are invading the real world -- and the runaway popularity of Farmville and Guitar Hero is just the beginning, says Jesse Schell. At the DICE Summit, he makes a startling prediction: a future where 1-ups and experience points break "out of the box" and into every part of our daily lives.

2010 Post-Recession Consumer Study

Ogilvy & Mather and Communispace
Apr 2, 2010

Today’s consumer is emerging from the recession with a radically new definition of the American Dream and a renewed sense in their own resourcefulness and priorities according to a just released quantitative study of 1200 consumers and qualitative research with nearly 700, conducted by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago in partnership with leading consumer insight company Communispace.

Harnessing the Mobile Revolution

Thomas Kalil
Apr 2, 2010

The premise of this essay is that the explosive growth of mobile communications can be a powerful tool for addressing some of the most critical challenges of the 21st century, such as promoting vibrant democracies, fostering inclusive economic growth, and reducing the huge inequities in life expectancy between rich and poor nations. The benefits of mobile communications are particularly profound for developing countries, many of which are “leapfrogging” the traditional fixed telecommunications infrastructure. As a result, billions of people in developing countries are gaining access to modern communications of any sort for the first time.

Do Network Effects Span Geographies?

Fred Wilson
Apr 2, 2010

Three years ago most western european countries had a local social network that was the most popular social net in the country. Today Facebook is dominant in most of western europe and those local social nets have largely been bypassed. It would seem that Facebook leveraged the size of its network (approaching 500mm people worldwide) to beat its competition in social networking. But what's interesting to me about that is that it also means that it leveraged a network that was larger out of country to beat an incumbent who initially was larger in country.

That’s the CMO’s Job

Denise Lee Yohn
Apr 2, 2010

Author Peter Drucker’s adage that a business enterprise has two basic functions—marketing and innovation—certainly resonates in the quick-service industry today. Marketing and innovation serve as critical drivers of growth at a time when the limits of cost cutting have been reached. While the innovation function is steady across all chains, marketing strategies vary greatly.

Twitter Writes Its Own Success Stories

Brian Solis
Apr 2, 2010

In January 2010, nearly 75 million people visited Twitter according to comScore. While that number seems remarkable, it represents only a fraction of what’s realistically attainable. I believe that Twitter’s growth, to date, is hindered not by its ambition nor potential, but by the company’s ongoing focus on competing priorities rather than showcasing how users can effectively communicate and excel on this unique platform. But that’s all about to change… Every day, millions of potential people are introduced to Twitter through traditional media, online dialogue in other social networks, as well as the content and marketing campaigns of local, national, and global businesses and media properties.

From Social Media to Social Strategy

Umair Haque
Apr 1, 2010

Marshall McLuhan once famously said, "The medium is the message." Here's what he meant: "The 'message' of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs." Today, the meaning is the message. The "message" of the Internet's social revolution is more meaningful work, economics, politics, society, and organization. It promises radically more meaning: to make stuff matter, once again, in human terms, not just financial ones. And that's never mattered more.

The Mystery of Capitalism

Grant McCracken
Mar 30, 2010

I am always surprised that no one much bothers to tell the story of capitalism. No, the stories we prefer to tell our children is that capitalism is a dangerous, soulless, relentlessly exploitative exercise. Indeed, this story is so preferred as our received wisdom, that it is exceedingly rare to hear anyone recite Adam Smith’s magical insight, that good things can and do come from people pursuing their own, sometimes narrow, objectives.

How To Survive Geolocation's Looming Apocalypse

Dave Curry
Mar 30, 2010

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that everyone is buzzing, blogging, tweeting, and talking about geolocation. Research firm Borrel forecasts that location-based mobile spending will hit $4 billion in 2015, an increase of nearly 12,000% from the $34 million spent in 2009. With highly anticipated location-centric announcements looming from both Facebook and Apple, the buzz over geolocation is not expected to diminish any time soon.

The Great Grocery Smackdown

Corby Kummer
Mar 30, 2010

Will Walmart, not Whole Foods, save small farms and make U.S. healthy?

Brand Butlers

April 2010 Trend Briefing
Mar 29, 2010

It has never been more important to turn your brand into a service. Jaded, time-poor, pragmatic consumers yearn for service and care, while the mobile online revolution (it's finally, truly here!) makes it possible to offer uber-relevant services to consumers anywhere, anytime. Basically, if you're going to embrace one big consumer trend this year, please let it be BRAND BUTLERS!

The Degradation of Predictability — and Knowledge

Nassim N. Taleb
Mar 29, 2010

I used to think that the problem of information is that it turns homo sapiens into fools — we gain disproportionately in confidence, particularly in domains where information is wrapped in a high degree of noise (say, epidemiology, genetics, economics, etc.). So we end up thinking that we know more than we do, which, in economic life, causes foolish risk taking. When I started trading, I went on a news diet and I saw things with more clarity. I also saw how people built too many theories based on sterile news, the fooled by randomness effect. But things are a lot worse. Now I think that, in addition, the supply and spread of information turns the world into Extremistan (a world I describe as one in which random variables are dominated by extremes, with Black Swans playing a large role in them). The Internet, by spreading information, causes an increase in interdependence, the exacerbation of fads (bestsellers like Harry Potter and runs on the banks become planetary). Such world is more "complex", more moody, much less predictable.

Reputations at Stake, Companies Try to Alter Word of Mouth Online

Michael S. Rosenwald
Mar 29, 2010

It didn't take long for Julie Liu -- late 20s, smartphone-addicted, constant Googler -- to get hooked on the online review site Yelp. Where to eat Friday night? Read some reviews by random anonymous diners. Oh, that looks good. Book a table online, show up, eat. But after Liu and her sister opened Scion restaurant in Dupont Circle, they saw Yelp from a different angle. Liu said Yelp's salespeople phoned repeatedly, telling her that if she advertised on the site, negative reviews would move lower on Scion's page and positive reviews would move up.

Reputation Is Dead: It’s Time To Overlook Our Indiscretions

Michael Arrington
Mar 28, 2010

Trying to control, or even manage, your online reputation is becoming increasingly difficult. And much like the fight by big labels against the illegal sharing of music, it will soon become pointless to even try. It’s time we all just give up on the small fights and become more accepting of the indiscretions of our fellow humans. Because the skeletons are coming out of the closet and onto the front porch. We’ll look back on the good old days when your reputation was really only on the line with eBay via confirmed, actual transactions and LinkedIn, where you can simply reject anyone who leaves bad feedback on your professional life.


Rob Walker
Mar 28, 2010

Starbucks has lately found itself in the middle of a debate between advocates of “open carry” gun rights and of gun control; the former have held armed meet-ups at several of its locations, and the latter have demanded that the coffee chain prevent this from happening. Seeking to duck these fresh salvos in the long debate over how firearms fit into American life, the company has issued a statement that such matters ought to be worked out “in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.” Well, sure. But drawing a line between official institutions of lawmaking and the daily sphere where citizens move about is not so easy. And one thing the pistols-and-Frappuccino moment has demonstrated is that this is acutely true for a business with an image carefully devised to blur the line between public space and commercial space.

The Return of History

David Brooks
Mar 26, 2010

Some brilliant scholar has to write a comprehensive history of modern economics because the evolution of this field is clearly one of the most consequential things happening in the world today.

Malleable Social Graphs and Mini-Mobs

Robert Scoble
Mar 26, 2010

I didn’t write about the big location war at SXSW (between location-based apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Brightkite, Whrrl, and others). Why not? Because, well, MG Siegler at Techcrunch has been. But I did participate, and took notes and now I’m looking at what’s next.

Pepsi Gets a Makeover: Taking the Challenge

The Economist
Mar 26, 2010

Coca-Cola once famously defined its market as “throat share”, meaning its stake in the entire liquid intake of all humanity. Not to be outdone, Indra Nooyi, the boss of Coke’s arch-rival, PepsiCo, wants her firm to be “seen as one of the defining companies of the first half of the 21st century”, a “model of how to conduct business in the modern world.” More specifically, she argues that Pepsi, which makes crisps (potato chips) and other fatty, salty snacks as well as sugary drinks, should be part of the solution, not the cause, of “one of the world’s biggest public-health challenges, a challenge fundamentally linked to our industry: obesity.” To that end, on March 22nd she unveiled a series of targets to improve the healthiness of Pepsi’s wares.

Use Price To Profit And Grow

Rafi Mohammed
Mar 26, 2010

Pricing is one of the most powerful--yet underutilized--strategies available to businesses. A McKinsey & Company study of the Global 1200 found that if companies increased prices by just 1%, and demand remained constant, on average operating profits would increase by 11%. Using a 1% increase in price, some companies would see even more growth in percentage of profit: Sears, 155%; McKesson, 100%, Tyson, 81%, Land O'Lakes, 58%, Whirlpool, 35%. Just as important, price is a key attribute that consumers consider before making a purchase.

TEDx Austin: Mark Rolston

Mark Rolston
Mar 26, 2010

Mark Rolston is Chief Creative Officer of Frog Design, creating Frog’s digital media group back in 1996. He’s fascinated by the intersection of technology with our perceived reality, and draws on examples from our own lives to illustrate how close we are to fully integrating the two. Big “whoa” factor.

A Is for App: How Smartphones, Handheld Computers Sparked an Educational Revolution

Anya Kamenetz
Mar 25, 2010

As smartphones and handheld computers move into classrooms worldwide, we may be witnessing the start of an educational revolution. How technology could unleash childhood creativity -- and transform the role of the teacher.

The Secret to Meaningful Customer Relationships

Roger Martin
Mar 25, 2010

A smart subordinate should actually want the relationship with the firm to be based at least in some part on things that are qualitative — that require judgment and interpretation because these are what makes it necessary and optimal for him to be an actual part of the firm. A quantitatively based relationship is a shallow one while one that has an important qualitative dimension is a deeper one. The same logic applies to a firm's relationships with customers. If our understanding of customers is based entirely on quantitative analysis, we will have a shallow rather than deep relationship with them.

How the Tablet Will Change the World

Steven Levy
Mar 24, 2010

Everyone who jammed into the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on January 27, 2010, knew what they were there for: Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ introduction of a thin, always-on tablet device that would let people browse the Web, read books, send email, watch movies, and play games. It was also no surprise that the 1.5-pound iPad resembled an iPhone, right down to the single black button nestled below the bright 10-inch screen. But about an hour into the presentation, Apple showed something unexpected — something that not many people even noticed. In addition to the lean-back sorts of activities one expects from a tablet (demonstrated by Jobs while relaxing in a comfy black armchair), there was a surprising pitch for the iPad as a lean-forward device, one that runs a revamped version of Apple’s iWork productivity apps. In many ways, Jobs claimed, the iPad would be better than pricier laptops and desktops as a tool for high-end word processing and spreadsheets. If anyone missed the point, Apple’s design guru Jonathan Ive gushed in a promotional video that the iPad wasn’t just a cool new way to gobble up media — it was blazing a path to the future of computing.

Q&A: Culture Shock, How Social Media is Changing the Culture of Business

Brian Solis
Mar 24, 2010

Good friend JD Lasica asked me to answer some fantastic questions for a post he published in celebration of Engage. I poured so much of myself into the responses, that I felt it was worth sharing here with you as well. Many of the lessons and observations below are important for you as a champion, decision maker, entrepreneur, or executive. Social Media is not only changing how we communicate, we are also changing the culture of business from the outside in and from the bottom up. In doing so, businesses, of all shapes and sizes, will magnetize communities. As such, the intentional creation and crafting of a useful and meaningful culture in business will create a competitive advantage, giving people a reason to align and ultimately embody and extend your purpose and mission.

Stance by China to Limit Google Is Risk by Beijing

Michael Wines
Mar 24, 2010

This is a nation that builds dams, high-speed rail lines and skyscrapers with abandon. In newly muscular China, sheer force is not just an art, but a bedrock principle of its seemingly unstoppable rise to global prominence. Now China has tightened its grip on the much more variegated world of online information, effectively forcing Google Inc., the world’s premier information provider, to choose between submitting to Chinese censorship and leaving the world’s largest community of Internet users to its rivals. It chose to leave.

Deja Vu, All Over Again

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Mar 24, 2010

So the Dow hit a bull-market high last Wednesday and gas costs more than $3/gallon. You know what comes next, don't you? It's not a question of if but rather when we'll all be complaining about falling stocks and rising gas prices. We should be particularly aware of this inevitable reality since most of us are still smarting from the wounds we received over the past year or two. You'd think that the branding brain trusts at big financial services firms and oil companies would have gotten together and recognized these facts -- the context of reality in which their brands exist -- and modified both their business operations and marketing accordingly:

Behaviorgraphics Humanize the Social Web

Brian Solis
Mar 23, 2010

In 2007 Charlene Li, then at Forrester Research, now running the Altimeter Group, along with Forrester ’s Josh Bernoff, Remy Fiorentino, and Sarah Glass released a report that introduced us to Social Technographics. Forrester’s research segmented participation behavior on the social web into six categories, visualized through a ladder metaphor with the rungs at the high end of the ladder indicating a greater level of participation. Social Technographics were designed to help businesses engage in social media with a more human approach, catering to individuals where, when, and how they are participating and contributing to the social Web. According to Forrester research…

If You Don’t Make It Real, You Won’t Make It Big

James Cockerille
Mar 23, 2010

Despite our ongoing fascination and dependence on digital interactions, the point of social media—and perhaps all media—is connectivity. Campaigns like Blu Dot’s experiment in New York, Grill’d in Melbourne, or the T-Mobile dance in Liverpool Street Station demonstrate the power that actual physical events and online channels create when they work together. These campaigns get watched. They get forwarded. They’re viral in every sense of the word. That’s because most of us want to look behind the curtain—maybe even participate.

Brand Flops: Ford, GE, Coca-Cola Know Hype Can Hurt New Products

Laurie Burkitt and Ken Bruno
Mar 22, 2010

The Apple iPad, hitting stores April 3, is one of the most-hyped products in technology history. There is talk that it could revolutionize computing and media. But when it comes to new products, great expectations can doom products that don't measure up to them.

The Seven Harsh Realities of Social Media for Any Brand

Matt Rhodes
Mar 22, 2010

A lot of people are excited about social media and think it could have a hugely positive impact on their brand, their marketing and communications, the insight they get, the way in which they deal with customer service and many other benefits it can bring to an organisation and to the way it interacts with and engages customers. They are right to be excited, the opportunities are great but brands should not hide from the fact that getting an engaging social media presence takes proper thought, some effort and may take time to embed.

A Supersized Custody Battle Over Marvel Superheroes

Brooks Barnes
Mar 21, 2010

When the Walt Disney Company agreed in August to pay $4 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment, the comic book publisher and movie studio, it snared a company with a library that includes some of the world’s best-known superheroes, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four. The heirs of Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who co-created numerous Marvel mainstays, were also intrigued by the deal. Mr. Kirby’s children had long harbored resentments about Marvel, believing they had been denied a share of the lush profits rolling out of the company’s superheroes franchises. They spent years preparing for a lawsuit by enlisting a Los Angeles copyright lawyer, Marc Toberoff, to represent them. When the Marvel deal was struck, Mr. Toberoff — who helped win a court ruling last year returning a share of Superman profits to heirs of one of that character’s creators — sprang into action. Pow! Wham! Another high-profile copyright fight broke out in Hollywood, and this one could be the broadest the industry has yet seen.

Augmented Reality: It's Like Real Life, But Better

Charles Arthur
Mar 21, 2010

Don't act too surprised if, some time in the next year, you meet someone who explains that their business card isn't just a card; it's an augmented reality business card. You can see a collection and, at visualcard.me, you can even design your own, by adding a special marker to your card, which, once put in front of a webcam linked to the internet, will show not only your contact details but also a video or sound clip. Or pretty much anything you want. It's not just business cards.

What the Still Photo Still Does Best

Hank Klibanoff
Mar 21, 2010

The television medium was barely 15 years old, and large-format magazines were wildly popular, when Life devoted 13 pages to photos by Charles. Moore, Flip Schulke and others at the University of Mississippi showdown in 1962, then 11 pages to the deployment of dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham the next year. The unsettling images from civil rights battlegrounds, followed closely by the disturbing images from Vietnam battlefields by Horst Faas, Eddie Adams, Nick Ut and others, created a golden era for photojournalism. Today, everyone with a cellphone is a photographer/videographer and streaming video has become a national obsession. But has the proliferation of images devalued photojournalism and dulled its influence?

Real-time Brand Management — Lessons from Virgin America's Hellish Flight

John Sviokla
Mar 19, 2010

On March 13, a Virgin America flight from Los Angeles to New York was diverted from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Stewart airport in Newburgh, N.Y., due to severe weather, and the passengers and crew waited in the plane on the tarmac for over four hours. The crew was anxious, babies were crying, mothers were anxious, and the passengers were unruly — to the point that one woman was taken off the plane by police. The entire ordeal was documented by David Martin, the CEO of Kontain.com, on his company's iPhone social-media application.

Texts Without Context

Michiko Kakutani
Mar 18, 2010

In his deliberately provocative — and deeply nihilistic — new book, “Reality Hunger,” the onetime novelist David Shields asserts that fiction “has never seemed less central to the culture’s sense of itself.” He says he’s “bored by out-and-out fabrication, by myself and others; bored by invented plots and invented characters” and much more interested in confession and “reality-based art.” His own book can be taken as Exhibit A in what he calls “recombinant” or appropriation art.

Towards the Empathic Civilisation

Jeremy Rifkin
Mar 18, 2010

The global economy has shattered. The fossil fuels that propelled an industrial revolution are running out and the infrastructure built with these energies is barely clinging to life. Worse, more than two centuries of rising carbon emissions now threaten us with catastrophic climate change. If that were not enough, we face a massive loss of social trust in economic and political institutions. Everywhere people are venting their frustration and increasingly taking their anger to the streets. What is happening to our world? The human race is in a twilight zone between a dying civilisation on life support and an emerging one trying to find its legs. Old identities are fracturing while new identities are too fragile to grasp. To understand our situation, we need to step back and ask: what constitutes a fundamental change in the nature of civilisation?

Five Key Drivers Of Global Marketing Effectiveness

Marc de Swaan Arons
Mar 18, 2010

Indeed, the results of our 2009 Leading Global Brands study, which includes responses from 20,000-plus global marketers who work on over 200-plus brands across all industries, employed by companies like Unilever, Diageo, and GlaxoSmithKline, indicate that getting the proper local vs. global balance is a top challenge. Almost 65% of respondents confirm that global brands have become more important over the last five years. But only 15% fully agree that their global brands are effectively leveraging their scale. Even fewer believe that their organizations excel at quickly rolling out successful global brand initiatives.

The New Consumer Frugality

Matthew Egol, Andrew Clyde, and Kasturi Rangan
Mar 17, 2010

A new survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, the second issued by Booz & Company since the early days of the recession in October 2008, confirms that a “new frugality,” born of the Great Recession and evidenced by two consecutive years of declining per capita consumption, is now becoming entrenched among U.S. consumers and is reshaping their consumption patterns in ways that will persist even as the economy starts to recover.

Gaming Can Make A Better World

Jane McGonigal
Mar 17, 2010

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

How Privacy Vanishes Online

Steve Lohr
Mar 17, 2010

If a stranger came up to you on the street, would you give him your name, Social Security number and e-mail address? Probably not. Yet people often dole out all kinds of personal information on the Internet that allows such identifying data to be deduced. Services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are oceans of personal minutiae — birthday greetings sent and received, school and work gossip, photos of family vacations, and movies watched. Computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person’s identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number.

Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity

Danah Boyd
Mar 15, 2010

I was asked to give this talk to invite you to think deeply. For those who don’t know me… I'm an ethnographer. I study how social media has become a part of daily life. I'm also an activist, driven to making the world a better place through the production and dissemination of knowledge. And I'm also a geek and a blogger. I've been blogging for 13 years, determined to communicate to the world what I've had the privilege of witnessing. I love technology but I also love to be critical of technology. What keeps me up at night is trying to make sense of how social media transforms society and, more importantly, what it helps make visible about humanity. Technophobes love to talk about how technology is ruining everything and technophiles obsess over how everything is radically different. I like to wade through the extremes to see the subtle inflection points. Reality is always in the details. My goal today is to invite you to step back and ask: what hath we wrought?

Exploring Ways to Build a Better Consumer Profile

Emily Steel
Mar 15, 2010

Digital-marketing companies are rapidly moving to blend information about consumers' Web-surfing behavior with reams of other personal data available offline, seeking to make it easier for online advertisers to reach their target audiences. Advertisers say the push could enhance their ability to target ads at specific types of consumers, but it is drawing scrutiny from Congress, federal regulators and privacy watchdogs, who are already concerned about the use of Web-surfing data.

How Brands Should Appeal To Women

Bob Deutsch
Mar 15, 2010

In my work as a cognitive anthropologist I study how the mind works, how people "make meaning," how people form attachments to things (brands), and how people make decisions. Decisions like how to select what to invest in, whether stocks or mates; why and under what conditions, people prefer Coke over Pepsi (or vice versa), Charmin over Cottonelle; why a person believes in one God over another. In that search I have inadvertently uncovered something about viva la difference: WOMEN CYCLE, MEN CONSUMMATE.

The Digital Disconnect: In Relentless Pursuit of 'Connecting,' We Miss Out on Each Other

Tyrone Beason
Mar 14, 2010

While communication and gaming gadgets have convenienced and connected us in ways never before possible, they may also be profoundly hurting our ability to be social, empathic and involved with each other. The signs are everywhere — from the near collisions on city streets where drivers are too busy texting to pay attention to the virtual relationships on Facebook and the addiction to video games.

China Threatens Google

Jason Dean, Geoffrey Fowler and Aaron Back
Mar 14, 2010

A top Chinese minister warned Google Inc. "will have to bear the consequences" if it stops filtering its search results in China, suggesting there is little room for compromise in the high-profile showdown over censorship. Friday's remarks were the sharpest words yet in an unusual duel that could set a precedent for international business in the country and could escalate tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

Marketers, Get Back to Boring

Pete Blackshaw
Mar 11, 2010

Here's the rub: We've got too much sizzle in the system right now. Social media garnishes every marcom conference and discussion, and I'm already bolting myself in my chair before the unstoppable tweet tsunami from the SXSW crowd over the next 10 days. We're obsessed. Join the conversation! Engage the conversation! Hell, spike the conversation!

2010 is the Year of Location-based Social Media Tools

Matt Rhodes
Mar 11, 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everybody makes predictions at the end of a year about ‘the big thing for next year’. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes you only really start to notice trends and change when you are in them. In social media it is becoming clearer and clearer that the big thing for 2010 is location-based tools.

The Facebook Imperative Cannot Be Stopped

Marc Benioff
Mar 10, 2010

Two weeks ago on TechCrunch I posted “The Facebook Imperative,” which posed a simple question, “Why isn’t all enterprise software like Facebook?” It was the next iteration of the question I asked in 1999 that spawned salesforce.com, “Why isn’t all enterprise software like Amazon.com.” If you have read my book, Behind The Cloud, you are well aware how that one question launched a company, and a movement. Its been an exciting decade. But the real excitement is just starting.

Great Brands of Tomorrow

Martin Bishop
Mar 9, 2010

Credit Suisse's report picks its 27 elite brands of tomorrow based on a deeper analysis of their potential. Most of the picks are brands that are "transforming," making the leap from niche/emerging players into powerful mainstream brands. Brands like Trader Joe's and Hyundai. These are brands that offer investors attractive returns, some risk but not as much as early-stage brands that may never make it over the hump once the initial rush of growth and enthusiasm is over. Only two early stage brands make the list: Facebook and Comac, a Chinese aircraft start-up.

Brands Hype Social Network Presence

Steve Rubel
Mar 8, 2010

Today many marketers are tripping over one another to invade social networks in force. There is a social media land grab underway as businesses rush to set up hubs on the "big three:" Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. All at once, businesses large and small recognize that they need to go where the people congregate. And with 100 million Facebook users in the U.S., this movement is understandable. When your local pizzeria is promoting their Facebook page at the register, as mine does, then you know that marketing has changed.

Tapping Into a New Generation

Alan Murray
Mar 8, 2010

If any company seems well-positioned to both influence and profit from a generation of environmentally aware youth, it's Walt Disney Co. And Robert Iger, president and chief executive of Disney, insists the company is doing just that. Mr. Iger sat down with The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray to talk about the new green strategies the company applies to everything from its theme parks to its movie studios, as well as changes Disney has seen in consumer attitudes. They began the conversation by talking about the company's conservation campaign—Friends for Change—which so far has reached more than a million children, he says.

Retail Crocuses in the Snow

Elizabeth Holmes and Rachel Dodes
Mar 5, 2010

U.S. consumers haven't stopped pinching pennies, but two months of sales gains show that they are in better shape than feared and have begun the year with a return to more normal buying habits. After spending much of 2009 in a defensive crouch, shoppers braved bad weather and took to the malls in February, snapping up spring merchandise at close to full price. Hard-hit teen retailers, including American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and higher-priced department store chain Nordstrom Inc., both of which reported big sales drops a year earlier, reported sharp improvements from a year ago. The results, on the heels of similar gains in recent months, signal consumers, even if they aren't returning to free-spending ways, are giving up the ultra-frugal habits of last year.

Ditching Designers to Sell the Clothes

Christina Passariello
Mar 5, 2010

Renzo Rosso, the tattooed, Ducati-driving founder of denim giant Diesel, owns some of fashion's most cutting-edge labels. In addition to the popular jeans-maker, Mr. Rosso's holding company, Only the Brave, includes celebrated European fashion houses Viktor & Rolf and Maison Martin Margiela. But Mr. Margiela is gone, as is the designer of Diesel, which Mr. Rosso founded in 1978. Mr. Rosso has replaced them with unknown teams that rank lower in the brands' hierarchy than business executives. The new creative director at Diesel is a magazine editor, not a clothing designer. Mr. Rosso believes his brands need trend-spotters more than someone who can craft a hemline.

Time to Rewrite the Brand Playbook for Digital

Ana Andjelic
Mar 4, 2010

There's a struggle with defining "branding" in digital. Some people claim that brands should be about utility, others that we need to build brand platforms and yet others think that brands should entertain us and give us something to talk about. Yet overall, surprisingly little has changed in the actual branding strategies in the industry. Something is wrong here.

One-Touch Shopping, for Members Only

Camille Sweeney
Mar 4, 2010

HauteLook, Gilt Groupe, Rue La La and Ideeli are just a few of the members-only sales sites introduced in recent years with offerings of deeply discounted designer apparel and accessories. Now, to the delight of beauty enthusiasts, they have added beauty products and services. With millions of members, growing friend by friend, day by day, the sites offer everything from Botox treatments at a dermatologist to detoxification at a spa. Some industry watchers predict these sites will change the way we shop, but others wonder whether online flash sales are a flash in the pan.

Why Baby Boomers Can't Be Put in One Box

Jerry Shereshewsky
Mar 3, 2010

It seems like the American marketing community is poised on the brink of an astounding discovery: the value of the post-war baby boom market! With the upcoming (and much anticipated) Tom Brokaw special, "Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$," it seems like everyone is trying to jump on this particular wagon. On March 1, Advertising Age published a fun piece by Judann Pollack called "The 15 Biggest Baby Boomer Brands" in which Pollack attempts to lay out the iconic products and their ad campaigns of her generation. This is precisely why marketing to boomers is in such a state of disarray. Folks are trying to take 20 pounds and shove it into a five-pound bag.

Keeping Brands Relevant Helps When Times Are Tough

Allen Adamson
Mar 2, 2010

"Caution. Not all hazards are marked." I couldn't help but notice this sign on the side of a ski trail during a recent vacation in the mountains. As I slowed my descent I thought about how this sign could apply to any number of things in this crazy world. Being in the brand business, I also thought about how apt they were relative to navigating the current marketplace. It's one thing to watch as consumer attitudes shift and you alter your product or service to meet the new conditions. It's another to sense that something's on the horizon and be the first in the category to address it. The ability to do so has always separated the good brands from the best brands.

Green with Ennui

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Mar 2, 2010

Judging from its branding and the griping of its competitors, Apple customers are hip, aware, and enlightened, yet its shareholders recently defeated resolutions to make the company more environmentally responsible and affirmed instead their uncool unconcern about anything other than profits. There isn't just a disconnect here, but an entirely topsy-turvy arrangement.

Do You Need All That Data?

Ron Ashkenas
Mar 2, 2010

Organizations love data: numbers, reports, trend lines, graphs, spreadsheets — the more the better. And, as a result, many organizations have a substantial internal factory that churns out data on a regular basis, as well as external resources on call that produce data for onetime studies and questions. But what's the evidence (or dare I say "the data") that all of this data is worth the cost and indeed leads to better business decisions? Is some amount of data collection unnecessary, perhaps even damaging by creating complexity and confusion?

Data, Data Everywhere

Kenneth Cukier
Mar 1, 2010

All these examples tell the same story: that the world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.

Cause Effect: Brands Rush to Save World One Deed at a Time

Natalie Zmuda and Emily Bryson York
Mar 1, 2010

Is it possible to have a coffee, buy a car or go shopping without saving the world? Not these days. And now you can also host a pancake breakfast, send Girl Scout cookies to the troops and shelter stray pets, thanks to a friendly corporate sponsor. In addition to the now-requisite cause marketing, brands such as Quaker, Pepsi, Prilosec and Bisquick are turning to so-called microsponsorships of a few hundred or few thousand dollars that go straight to the consumer to fund their own pet project. The most visible of these is Pepsi Refresh, in which consumers can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.

When American and European Ideas of Privacy Collide

Adam Liptak
Feb 28, 2010

“On the Internet, the First Amendment is a local ordinance,” said Fred H. Cate, a law professor at Indiana University. He was talking about last week’s ruling from an Italian court that Google executives had violated Italian privacy law by allowing users to post a video on one of its services. In one sense, the ruling was a nice discussion starter about how much responsibility to place on services like Google for offensive content that they passively distribute. But in a deeper sense, it called attention to the profound European commitment to privacy, one that threatens the American conception of free expression and could restrict the flow of information on the Internet to everyone.

Lords of Strategy: A Conversation with Walter Kiechel

Sarah Cliffe
Feb 26, 2010

I spoke recently with Walter Kiechel about his new book, The Lords of Strategy, which describes the rise of the large strategy consulting firms — BCG, McKinsey, and Bain — as well as the business school professors who contributed conceptual frameworks and pragmatic insights to the strategy revolution. Kiechel, a former Managing Editor at Fortune magazine, was the Editorial Director of Harvard Business Publishing from 1998 to 2002.

Facebook to Developers: Get Ready for Credits

Caroline McCarthy
Feb 26, 2010

Facebook's virtual currency, "Facebook Credits," is getting very close to its full launch: a post on the Facebook developer blog explains some of the full terms of the system and what developers can expect as the currency continues to roll out slowly.

Streams of Content, Limited Attention

Danah Boyd
Feb 25, 2010

In his seminal pop-book, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argued that people are happiest when they can reach a state of "flow." He talks about performers and athletes who are in the height of their profession, the experience they feel as time passes by and everything just clicks. People reach a state where attention appears focused and, simultaneously, not in need of focus at the same time. The world is aligned and everything just feels right. Consider what it means to be "in flow" in an information landscape defined by networked media, and you will see where Web 2.0 is taking us. The goal is not to be a passive consumer of information or to simply tune in when the time is right, but rather to live in a world where information is everywhere.

Millenials - A Portrait of Generation Next

Pew Research Center
Feb 25, 2010

Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials – the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium – have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.

The Real Roots of the Crisis

Umair Haque
Feb 25, 2010

Remember Superman's slogan? Let me remind you. "Truth, Justice, and The American Way." Corny, sure. But doesn't it get you a little bit? It sounds funnily evocative right now: a reminder of something deeper, something that we lost.

Measuring the Strength of Brand Identity

Larry Ackerman
Feb 25, 2010

Ever wonder what is really behind this thing we call "identity? " It's one of those words that attracts a variety of meanings, ranging from a company's name and logo, to its business definition (Fuji: We're a digital imaging company), to its image in the marketplace, to its values.

Airlines Can Offer Lessons for Online Newspapers

Brett Gordon
Feb 24, 2010

Online newspapers face two seemingly insurmountable challenges: getting customers used to paying for content and getting the industry used to charging for it. But in fact airlines have faced a similar, albeit simpler, situation with respect to baggage.

How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web

Steven Levy
Feb 23, 2010

Want to know how Google is about to change your life? Stop by the Ouagadougou conference room on a Thursday morning. It is here, at the Mountain View, California, headquarters of the world’s most powerful Internet company, that a room filled with three dozen engineers, product managers, and executives figure out how to make their search engine even smarter. This year, Google will introduce 550 or so improvements to its fabled algorithm, and each will be determined at a gathering just like this one.

It's Time To Rebuild Brand Loyalty

Avi Dan
Feb 23, 2010

Brand loyalty is crucial for brand health. Ad agency founder Jim Mullen once said: "Of all the things that your company owns, brands are far and away the most important and the toughest. Founders die. Factories burn down. Machinery wears out. Inventories get depleted. Technology becomes obsolete. Brand loyalty is the only sound foundation on which business leaders can build enduring, profitable growth."

Take a Step Closer for an Invitation to Shop

Claire Cain Miller
Feb 23, 2010

Like many retailers, the North Face has been having trouble luring shoppers into its stores. The company, which sells outdoor apparel and gear, is about to try a new tactic: sending people text messages as soon as they get near a store. Advertisers have long been intrigued by the promise of cellphones, because they live in people’s pockets and send signals about shoppers’ locations. The dream has been to send people ads tailored to their location, like a coupon for a cappuccino when passing a coffee shop.

In Building Communities, Marketers Can Learn From Cults

Douglas Atkin
Feb 22, 2010

Why go to the trouble of creating networks of passionate consumers? Well, partly because your consumer will insist you do. Engaging directly with them is the new normal. The ubiquity of social-networking tools has created an expectation of accessibility not just from friends and colleagues but from companies too. We're now in a culture that celebrates and enables constant contact and responsiveness from everyone, like it or not. But the real reason to go beyond conventional broadcast media, and even beyond constant engagement to the Holy Grail of community, is to create commitment in an environment that predisposes people to capriciousness.

What’s a Dress Worth?

Andrew Rice
Feb 22, 2010

The wave rolls in every day at noon Manhattan time. It gathers invisibly, out in the digital netherscape. A few minutes before the hour, the online retailer Gilt Groupe blasts out an e-mail, and a hush falls over many a workplace, as phone calls are cut short and spreadsheets minimized. Gilt Groupe is in the business of selling high fashion at deep discounts, and as you might deduce from the company’s name, with its Frenchified “e,” it presents itself as an exclusive club. In reality, that’s just artifice—Gilt is a viral-marketing phenomenon. During the hour after its weekday sales kick off, between noon and 1 p.m., the company claims, its site is visited by an average of roughly 100,000 shoppers. For that time, it might as well be the most crowded store in New York.

Can One Bad Tweet Taint Your Brand Forever?

Jack Neff
Feb 22, 2010

Hundreds of messages on the boards at PampersVillage.com have criticized changes to Pampers Cruisers in recent months, but a closer look shows an outsized portion of them came from a couple of posters. Social media might be all about big numbers, but in a surprising number of marketing mishaps, a relatively small handful of people were the sparks that turned into online brushfires.

Brand Management and the 10:45 Per Day Generation

John Sviokla
Feb 22, 2010

The Kaiser Foundation recently released a study documenting the astounding fact that 8-18 year olds in the United States have increased their media use from 8hrs 33 mins per day in 2004 to 10hrs 45 mins in 2009, which means that except for when they sleeping or in school they are almost always consuming media. I call them the 10:45 generation. Regardless of whether you think this is bad news signaling the demise of our children, or good news expecting our progeny are on the way to be becoming more literate in rich media world, as a business leaders we all must face this new reality. In particular, this short post will deal with the issue of managing your brand for the 10:45 generation.

Kevin Kelly Tells Technology's Epic Story

Kevin Kelly
Feb 21, 2010

In this wide-ranging, thought-provoking talk from TEDxAmsterdam, Kevin Kelly muses on what technology means in our lives -- from its impact at the personal level to its place in the cosmos.

Leaf Blowing: Nissan Aims to Create a Market for Zero-Emission Cars

Laurie Burkitt
Feb 19, 2010

Richard Saul Wurman is an architect and graphic designer known for sparking debate. In 1984 he founded nonprofit TED and began holding annual events to stir up conversations about technology, entertainment and design. More recently, Wurman is appearing in Web videos to create chatter about a new topic: emissions, cars and the hope for a cleaner environment. Nissan Motor tapped Wurman and other thought leaders in December as part of a year-long marketing effort geared to make more people aware about the impact of emissions on the environment. Wurman and other luminaries, including Swedish designer Marcus Eriksson, appear on in videos a Web site called Journey to Zero that many might miss as being a message from Nissan.

Disney Invites 'Goths' to the Party

Ethan Smith
Feb 19, 2010

Disney, the company that created "the happiest place on earth" and cornered the market on pink, is embracing a darker aesthetic as it reaches out to an unlikely audience for new merchandise: female "goths." In the run-up to the March 5 opening of director Tim Burton's movie "Alice in Wonderland," Walt Disney Co.'s consumer-products division is aiming its marketing firepower at young women and teenage girls, particularly those who gravitate to darkly romantic entertainment like the "Twilight" series.

It's Up to the CMO Community to Address Client/Agency Tensions

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Feb 18, 2010

Recently many of Belgium's top agencies, both large and small, set up a virtual roadblock on their websites to collectively protest the injustice of new-business pitches. I'm waiting for our CMO compatriots to call in the cyber strike-busters. The protest was organized by the Belgian ad trade group called the Association of Communication Companies, or ACC, which has proposed a set of ground rules for clients and agencies to voluntarily follow in support of more civilized new-business pitches: limits on the number of bidders and resources spent; clearer, better defined decision criteria; commitments to communicate and reach conclusions quicker; protections for agency spec ideas. You get the drill. Typical European socialist stuff.

A Trickle of Live Streams on the Web

Brian Stelter
Feb 18, 2010

NBC Universal’s television coverage of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this month is exhaustive, as viewers have come to expect. But its Web coverage, at least when compared with the Summer Games in Beijing 18 months ago, is limited. NBC’s Web site is live-streaming fewer sports than it did in Beijing, marking a step backward in online access to marquee events. The company is making no secret that it would prefer for viewers to watch the Olympics on television, especially in prime time, even though a growing number of people are accustomed to watching TV on the Internet.

Digital Branded Content Syndication

Pete Caban
Feb 17, 2010

Think of someone you know who is graduating from high school in 2010. Maybe it’s your younger cousin, or a niece or nephew. Perhaps it’s your son or daughter. Or perhaps it’s some young folks in your town you may know. Take a minute to think about someone you have watched grow up for the past 15 or so years. Furthermore, let’s acknowledge that your young high school graduate represents, quite literally, the “18” in the coveted “18-35 demographic” that many marketers are constantly trying to reach. Now think about the fact that the high school graduating “Class of 2010” was born around the time that Netscape Navigator arrived—the time when the Web was born.

Minding the Gap

Tara Hunt
Feb 17, 2010

I believe strongly that, rather than business injecting business values onto our communities to business ends, we really need to turn the tides and teach business how to espouse human values again…or as Gary Hamel writes in his excellent column, put soul back into business. It is human beings, after all, that are necessary to the success of any business (whether employees or customers).

The Lean Years

David Brooks
Feb 17, 2010

Financial crises stink. In their wake, public debt explodes. Nations default. Economic growth falters. Taxes rise. Unemployment lingers. The current financial crisis is no different. The U.S. will have to produce 10 million new jobs just to get back to the unemployment levels of 2007. There’s no sign that that is going to happen soon, so we’re looking at an extended period of above 8 percent unemployment. The biggest impact is on men.

The Next Disruptive Tech on the Web? Trust

Judy Shapiro
Feb 16, 2010

After reading that headline, I can see some (maybe lots) of you scratching your heads saying: "Wait a minute -- trust is a not a technology!" A decade ago that would have been true -- it is not now. Our digital lives were once confined to e-mail, some web surfing and an occasional online purchase (for the braver among us). A mere decade on and our lives are increasingly being lived online. Yet, while our dependence on the internet has grown exponentially, the technologies we use to navigate the sometimes dangerous, somewhat untrusted waters of the internet remain the same -- largely confined to incremental improvements in narrowly defined segments of security or access. The unfortunate result is that the trust gap is more "gaping" than ever.

Carolina Herrera Sees Signs of Life in Luxury

Rachel Dodes
Feb 16, 2010

Fashion designer Carolina Herrera says she was "shocked" a few months ago when she noticed her $7,990 gray sequined tulle gowns were "selling like hotcakes," relatively speaking. During the downturn, she has had to walk a fine line, trying to cater to frugal consumers without damaging quality or image. But in December, she also opened an elaborate high-end boutique in Las Vegas that sells what she's known for: $3,000 cocktail frocks, $10,000-plus ball gowns and $1,800 skirts. Women who used to buy three dresses at a time and had cut down to one or none have started to spend again, she says.

The Next Age of Government

David Cameron
Feb 16, 2010

The leader of Britain's Conservative Party says we're entering a new era -- where governments themselves have less power (and less money) and people empowered by technology have more. Tapping into new ideas on behavioral economics, he explores how these trends could be turned into smarter policy.

NBC Rallies for the Count

Amy Chozick
Feb 16, 2010

NBC calls it "the world's biggest focus group." With an estimated 185 million unique viewers over a 17-day period, the Olympic Games provide a special audience microcosm, and one that NBC believes will be particularly useful for measuring new-media consumption habits and trends. NBC touts all the different platforms it is bringing to bear for the Games, which began Friday in Vancouver. Viewers can watch on the network, NBC Universal's many cable channels and NBCOlympics.com. They can download clips to their iPhones and receive mobile updates on a favorite skier or figure skater.

Secret to Breaking the 2-Year Curse: It's the Sales, Stupid

Mark Chmiel
Feb 15, 2010

We all know the statistic and scratch our heads: The average tenure of a CMO is around two years or less. Why? Usually it takes that long to fully understand the intricacies and true insights of most industries, companies and brands. Repeating an action over and over again anticipating a different outcome is a humorous definition of insanity. So are CEOs and boards insane?

Why It's Still Your MTV, According to Judy McGrath

Andrew Hampp
Feb 15, 2010

No one has seen more changes to the MTV brand than Judy McGrath. The CEO of MTV Networks started with the network in 1981 as a copywriter and eventually ascended the ranks to her current position in 2004, where she has seen many different iterations of the network and its programming even as fellow pioneering executives such as Tom Freston and Robert Pittman have come and gone. One of those changes came as recently as last week, when MTV unveiled the first major on-air update to its logo in its 28-year history. The redesign was met with mixed reaction. "I don't think what they did is wrong," George Lois, creator of the network's historic "I want my MTV" campaign, told Ad Age. "I think what they did is strategic. And it just proves to me that MTV is dead."

The Future of User Interfaces

Cameron Chapman
Feb 15, 2010

User interfaces—the way we interact with our technologies—have evolved a lot over the years. From the original punch cards and printouts to monitors, mouses, and keyboards, all the way to the track pad, voice recognition, and interfaces designed to make it easier for the disabled to use computers, interfaces have progressed rapidly within the last few decades. But there’s still a long way to go and there are many possible directions that future interface designs could take. We’re already seeing some start to crop up and its exciting to think about how they’ll change our lives.

Why Brands are Becoming Media

Brian Solis
Feb 11, 2010

One of the greatest challenges I encounter today is not the willingness of a brand to engage, but its ability to create. When blueprinting a social media strategy, enthusiasm and support typically derails when examining the resources and commitment required to produce regular content. Indeed, we are programing the social web around our brand hub, which requires a consistent flow of engaging and relevant social objects. Social objects are the catalysts for conversations — online and in real life — and they affect behavior within their respective societies.