Archive for June 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.
This week, fans of “Mad Men” were treated to some real-life drama about the upcoming third season of the acclaimed AMC original series. Strangely enough, a television show about an advertising guy and his model wife set more than four decades ago may be at the forefront of new revenue models for television advertising.
A fairly brilliant spoof of GM’s “re: invention” spot is making its way around the Net. It’s easy enough to make fun of GM from A to Z (A is for Aztec...B is for Buick...C is for Cimarron...), but this spoof points to something broader: a complete distrust of GM’s voice, message and methods. Any advertisement that begins with “let’s be completely honest” is setting itself up for mockery (and failure), especially in a networked world. Shame on IPG’s Deutsch and McCann agencies for letting that line make the spot, much less lead it.
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.
There has been much talk lately of data overload. Of marketing noise and the struggle to attract and maintain consumer attention. A weekend outdoors with my toddler reminded me this isn’t a new problem, nor is our selective attention a new response. My daughter still notices every soaring airplane. Every buzzing hedge trimmer. Every distant siren. The sights and sounds I have learned, over time, to tune out as irrelevant. When faced with data glut in the marketplace, most consumers respond like me. That is to say, they don’t respond. So how do brands help consumers see their information through the eyes of a child?
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.
Alfred P. Sloan’s famous quote epitomized the strategy that built GM into what was once the largest company on the planet. And while an entire laundry list of problems led to GM’s bankruptcy, the mismanagement or gross misinterpretation of Sloan’s strategy is what ultimately led to the behemoth’s demise.
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.”
At a brand seminar last week, TIME’s Managing Editor Richard Stengel was straightforward: he doesn’t consider TIME to be in the news or the information business like, say CNN. He says TIME is in the knowledge and wisdom business. He was explaining how his team tried to differentiate TIME (the #1 magazine brand on college campuses – go figure) from the deluge of information raining down on all of us. “What can we do?” he asked as he flipped through recent covers. “We can convert information into knowledge and wisdom. We can be a trusted guide through the chaos.”