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.
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2012 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand management and performance comprehensively. It is the only annual ranking of companies that demonstrate overall, balanced approaches to managing the full spectrum of brand and related intangible assets, providing an indicator of total business strength and effectiveness.
I was delighted to see the flight attendants handing out snack packs, remembering the most delicious chocolate covered caramel on an earlier flight. Eagerly breaking the seal, I was met not only by the chocolate, but a most unfortunately named package of crackers.
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.
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.
How can a business respond to both the radical changes in the market as well as the human challenges in the wind? Without a doubt, the blue ocean opportunity of the moment is trust.
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.
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.
This is the kind of story tailor-made to stir up epic levels of righteousness in just about everybody. He’s intolerant! You’re intolerant of his intolerance! Your intolerance of his intolerance is intolerable!
Ability to see relationships is a valuable quality for making memes.
Tom LaForge, Global Director of Human & Cultural Insights at the Coca-Cola Company, sat down with us after speaking at our 2013 Brand Leadership Summit and took us deeper into the ideal that brand story shapes brand leadership, and how today’s biggest corporations have the best chance to drive social change on a global scale.
But Marketers Are Stymied by Lack of Access and Limited Knowledge
In his 1897 book What is Art? the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy defined art as “an infection.” Good art, Tolstoy wrote, infects the audience with the storyteller’s emotion and ideas.
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).
What does it mean? And how does culture actually cause innovation?
Brand Loyalty and Repeat Buys Are Hard to Create Among Newly Affluent Customers
Digital technology has transformed our world, opening up and bringing the everyday to culture and heritage.
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.
These heat maps of the U.S. break down how people use language and pronounce words differently in different parts of the country: Soda vs. pop, sub vs. hero, water fountain vs. … bubbler?
Want to make more money? Make sure your employees feel like they’re working for something greater than just profit.
The iconic game celebrates its 33rd anniversary on May 22.
Business news headlines featuring social-networking giant Facebook change almost as often and as dramatically as a teenager updates her Facebook status online.
What was the purpose? What was the process? Whose ends were being served? How should we judge success? But we seldom look any deeper than first impressions, wallowing instead in a churning maelstrom of snap judgments. Should we be surprised when the general public jumps right in after us?
Research by IESE professors Carlos Garcia Pont and Paulo Rocha e Oliveira helps you spot if your company is under threat of stagnation by identifying the hidden obstacles preventing innovation – and how to overcome them.
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.
Dozens of studies have searched in vain for the equivalent rethink of gender stereotypes in advertising. In a recent meta-analysis of 64 advertising-content studies, sexist stereotypes dominate.
Is it not ironic that we call customers “targets” and seek to engineer their empathy in “war rooms?" The hostilities are endless. And it’s not enough to win. Someone must lose. Beating the competitor takes precedence over helping the customer.
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.
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.
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?
Modern service companies like Starbucks and Pret A Manger really, really don't want to let their workforces unionize — not only would it cost them money, it threatens their self-image as benevolent corporations where employees are genuinely happy to work.
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.
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?
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.
A larger purpose isn't just good karma. Leaders who instill their company with a greater mission have more motivated employees and more loyal customers.
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of baby gear and preschool toys, Fisher-Price believes that traditional branding processes no longer guarantee success. To differentiate its brands in a highly competitive industry, the company maintains a laser-like focus on creativity and innovation -- and its sphere of influence is large.
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.
A thoughtful identity gives a multinational disease research network a new way to communicate.
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.
When asked to describe the main benefit of a diverse organization, Niloufar Molavi doesn’t mince words. “Innovation,” she says without hesitation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Take a look at the first-class section on any airplane today; it’s full of corporate leaders lugging around Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, searching for insights they can use to make their companies as successful as Apple.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In an era when entire companies and long-time brands are disappearing, why do Americans trust certain brands and not others? What is trust?
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?
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.
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.
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.
The role of business linguist for the CMO is probably one of the more challenging aspects of the job. Translating marketing value and priority to other areas of the corporate enterprise, if done ineffectively or ignored, can lead to disaster.
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.
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 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."
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
FastCompany recently released its list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies. Many of the names on the list come as no surprise, especially the top three (Apple, Facebook, and Google). But what caught my attention was the diversity of companies and industries represented.
Network effects are an economic principle that suggests certain goods and services experience increasing returns to scale. That means the more users a particular product or service has, the more valuable the product becomes and the more rapidly its overall value increases.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good design is like pornography: You know it when you see it. Incredibly subtle Supreme Court justice jokes aside, design really can make or break a company--especially for an “early adopter” technology that hasn’t quite caught on yet. Convincing people to do anything that’s out of their comfort zone (in our case, getting them to pay with their phones using LevelUp) is tough. But one of the benefits of being somewhat early to a market is getting to define what an entirely new experience means for a person. In this instance, design, function, and brand can become one
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.
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.
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).
There is an old saying that hindsight is the only exact science, and it's true. The news that Kodak's long fade to black has finally ended with the company filing for Chapter 11 protection (a way of protecting it from bankruptcy while it attempts to restructure) has prompted an avalanche of retrospective wisdom about great companies "fumbling the future" (as the title of a book about Xerox once put it). And it's easy to see why. Kodak is like Coca-Cola, a brand-name that defined an industry. One of its products – the color film Kodachrome – even became the title of one of Paul Simon's most famous songs. You can't get more iconic than that. And the company was an industrial giant – at one time (1976), for example, it had 90% of film and 85% of camera sales in the US and was regularly rated one of the world's five most valuable brands. So it seemed inconceivable that a company as large and successful could disappear. And yet it might.
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 lead producer of festivalslab Rohan Gunatillake gives four reasons why new thinking and tools can produce better experiences
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.
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.
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.
Social media and the power of peer-to-peer recommendation can boost revenue streams and brand loyalty, according to a new survey from CNN. The results of a CNN inaugural study into the power of news and recommendation (POWNAR), showed a "halo effect,” with substantially higher engagement around recommended content compared with randomly consumed content, said Didier Mormesse, senior VP of R&D and audience insight at CNN International.
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.
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."
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.
Communications, whether face to face, screen to screen or advertiser to consumer, work best when people feel they are interacting with someone who understands them; someone who acts like 'one of us'. Irrespective of size, age or location, many agencies too often forget this and continue to churn out bland campaigns that claim to be 'global', when in fact they are just rehashed translations. At Amsterdam Worldwide, all our communications aim to convince audiences, irrespective of language, region or culture, that they have been produced specifically for them. This helps us achieve local impact with true global reach. One of the tools, we use to ensure local relevance, is Culture Mapping. It's a tool which enables us to understand cultural differences to make international communications and brands more effective.
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.
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.
About an hour south of Seoul, bulldozers are demolishing the last vacant factories at Samsung Electronics Co.’s Suwon campus, erasing signs that South Korea’s most valuable public company once made its headquarters in a smoke-fuming industrial complex. In their place are ice cream and pizza parlors, research labs and open space that’s been groomed as parks. Engineers in T-shirts play basketball on this sunny June morning before heading to their choice of nine cafeterias for a free lunch featuring Korean, Indian and Western dishes prepared to please employees from 50 countries. Women, who until recently were forced to wear conservative business suits and were absent from top jobs, stroll through gardens in slacks and formerly banned open-toed shoes, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its October issue. The 28,000 engineers, designers and marketers who arrive by bicycle or one of 556 company-funded buses at this bustling center could be in Silicon Valley or a technology park in India except for a sign at the eight-lane entrance: Samsung Digital City. The campus, along with required English lessons for managers and research into everything from solar cells to humanoid robots, are part of Samsung Electronics’ mission to vault itself into the ranks of the world’s great innovators and become one of the top five brands.
If an ad is to work – make people talk about it, love it and want to take a stake in sharing it – it must become a social object. Many a viral campaign acts as a social object because it becomes part of the cultural conversation – people talk about it, and ultimately act as the medium for the message. But for an ad to take on meaning for the consumers that it speaks to – and to get them to take action as a result of it – it must be driven by a purpose-idea. A purpose idea is the emotional, intrinsic reason that will motivate an individual to want to buy the product – and the reasons why the product was created to begin with. A sense of safety and security from purchasing a certain brand of car, a boost in self-confidence from wearing a sexy heel (and the looks it may generate), or a sense that whole grain will nourish you and contribute to a healthier, lighter and longer life.
I finally had a look in on Eat, Pray, Love, the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert that sold 4 milllions copies in paperback and this summer became a movie starring Julia Roberts. (I know I am late to this, but, as an anthropologist who studies contemporary culture, I'm trying to keep up with everything.) Three things struck me.
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.
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?
We’re moving, in other words, toward a fascinating cultural transition: the death of the telephone call. This shift is particularly stark among the young. Some college students I know go days without talking into their smartphones at all. I was recently hanging out with a twentysomething entrepreneur who fumbled around for 30 seconds trying to find the option that actually let him dial someone.
Will we ever create our own Homer? I am not being argumentative. This is an open question. The answer could be "soon" or it could be "never," and I'll be happy. However we answer this question, we will have improved our anthropological understanding of contemporary culture.
Mazda is taking to social media to launch the 2011 Mazda 2. A branded game on Facebook, "DriverVille," is a virtual, multiplayer game where players get customizable "Your Inner Driver" avatars and use them to drive virtual cars to win Driver Bucks for virtual products and real weekly sweepstakes prizes.
Attention brands: Twitter users aren't talking to you or about you. In fact, they barely know you exist. That's one of the conclusions of a six-month analysis of the service's ubiquitous 140-character messages conducted by digital agency 360i and released today. Despite marketers' embrace of the medium, brands are finding themselves on the outside of the conversation. Of the 90% of Twitter messages sent by real people -- the other 10% come from businesses -- only 12% ever mention a brand, and most of those mentions are of Twitter itself.
More than an analog vs. digital debate (we doubt anyone will trade their smartphone for one of the earliest brick-sized mobile phones), it may simply be driven by a desire to recreate the feeling of a memory, vs. such a perfect, shiningly new image. Will that yearning replace the desire for the highest technical features? We doubt it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Vaseline Men Be Prepared page (with about 550 "fans" so far), offers users an avatar-tweaking application to create a fairer-skinned and spotless profile picture. The example features Vaseline spokesman Shahid Kapur, with the Bollywood heartthrob's face divided into dark and light halves with the tagline, "People see your face first."
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.
No one is an expert, and it is only through a multidisciplinary process that it all comes together; materials, process and design. There must be a meaningful confluence of the elements otherwise it will be like sticking wood laminate on a laptop to make it more valuable. Furthermore, this requires stepping away from the computer and getting reacquainted with materials and processes. Indeed this is quite a hat tip to the old school craftsman approach to design.
Having established his bona fides as social media pioneer, let me now call upon the ever-humble B. Franklin to offer us instruction on how modern-day marketing patriots can declare their independence from social media silliness. And while this piece is no Poor Richard's Almanac, it will approach the topic at hand with a similar clarity of purpose and simplicity in language.
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.
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.
Brands should pay attention to Collaborative Consumption, a movement promoting a cultural shift towards “sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping.” Brands are already incorporating “peer-to-peer” exchange, from established sites such as eBay and Craigslist, to rising brands such as Zopa, Swaptree, and Zipcar. People are changing what and how they consume goods and services, largely enabled by online and wireless technology.
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.
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.
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).
It's a very different world today. With the Internet connecting everyone, companies are becoming more transparent whether they like it or not. An unhappy customer or a disgruntled employee can blog about a bad experience with a company, and the story can spread like wildfire. The good news is that the reverse is true as well. A great experience with a company can be read by millions of people almost instantaneously. The fundamental problem: you can't anticipate every possible touch point that could influence the perception of your brand.
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.
The internet has wreaked havoc on the music industry, airlines and media, but it just may be doing the same thing to automobiles. It's a rarely acknowledged transformational shift that's been going on under the noses of marketers for as long as 15 years: The automobile, once a rite of passage for American youth, is becoming less relevant to a growing number of people under 30. And that could have broad implications for marketers in industries far beyond insurance, gasoline and retail.
A recent survey released by Edelman examined the evolution of consumers’ perceptions of the Internet as an entertainment medium, and not just a source of information. While this broad statement may seem obvious to many working directly in the digital media space, the implications of this evolution for how consumers define and consume entertainment – and the factors they value and are inclined to pay for – merit further consideration for any brand looking to entertain and engage consumers.
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?
The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour winds its way through South Africa on its way to the tournament's opening match in three weeks, and marketers have begun ramping up their own World Cup promotions. From soda to athletic gear to high fashion, the World Cup is providing fodder for merchandise design, proving that sports is the world's language -- as long as you're talking commerce. Even the soccer clueless, who can’t distinguish between Ronaldo and Drogba, will be able to get a hit of that African rhythm, as close as the mall or the grocery store. In the next few days, we'll take a look at how a few companies have tackled World Cup design bonanza. Coca Cola, the official beverage sponsor of the games, began its massive roll-out of a world wide campaign months ago. With a visual identity created by Attkik, the UK-based design firm, the company's signage will be distinctive and ubiquitous.
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.
In a time of big promises and increasing consumer skepticism, building a strong corporate brand starts with understanding the truth about an organization.
Aside from being "against the rules," there are some real problems with younger kids using sites designed for teens and adults. For one thing, signing up requires lying, which is bad in itself. But, as many adults are finding out, knowing how to protect one's privacy on a site like Facebook can be daunting and most young children are not developmentally ready to use these services. There are other issues as well; including how easy it is for kids to cyberbully each other on social-networking sites. Finally, sites like Facebook just don't have the resources for younger children, including the types of videos, games, and experiences that 6- to 10-year-olds find compelling. Enter Togetherville.com, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company that has built what founder Mandeep Singh Dhillon calls a "neighborhood" aimed at "kids and their grownups."
Your gut is overrated. Really. Don't trust it. It deserves skeptical vigilance, not quiet deference. In the heat of the moment or — sorry, Malcolm — the blink of an eye, your gut instincts and gut feelings will betray you. No business cliché is more worthy of repudiation, annihilation, and eradication than "you've got to trust your gut."
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.
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.
Every industry has its own lingo. There are accepted words that everyone in the industry understands and that have become so pervasive that they become hard not to use in normal conversation. Librarians and bookstores call magazines periodicals. Politicians call people constituents and doctors or nurses call additional diseases or conditions you might have in addition to your main condition comorbidities. In each case, the industry has created words that make sense to those within it, but sound strange, complicated and even scary to those outside.
In the face of turbulence and change, culture and values become the major source of continuity and coherence, of renewal and sustainability. Leaders must be institution-builders who imbue the organization with meaning that inspires today and endures tomorrow. They must find an underlying purpose and a strong set of values that serve as a basis for longer-term decisions even in the midst of volatility. They must find the common purpose and universal values that unite highly diverse people while still permitting individual identities to be expressed and enhanced. Indeed, emphasizing purpose and values helps leaders support and facilitate self-organizing networks that can respond quickly to change because they share an understanding of the right thing to do.
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?
Working continually in eleven countries — Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and India — and providing support to more than forty countries throughout its nearly twenty years in operation, Water for People “helps people in developing countries improve quality of life by supporting the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education programs.” A big part of the Denver-based organization’s focus is not just establishing new facilities or resources, but making sure they keep working and are self-sufficient years later. This past March, Water for People introduced a new logo designed by Duffy & Partners.
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.
Some small businesses start without a business plan, finding success in a breakthrough product or service early on and building upon that success organically. However, it’s inevitable that the venture will need to have a structured business plan put in place at some point if the business is expected to scale, expand and ultimately thrive. This well understood concept is the basis for what I’m informally labeling “social business planning”, yet from my experiences working across multiple organizations, the current focus remains on social media programs (the external) without putting in the appropriate social business infrastructure (the internal).
The State and Future of Twitter was revealed to the world at the Chirp Conference. Developers, futurists, reporters, investors, stakeholders, and businesses convened at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, making the journey from all over the world to witness history in the making.
Kapitaal is a short animated film by a Dutch design studio, Studio Smack. The video tries to convey the huge amount of visual information surrounding us, which renders branding and advertising simply ineffective as we have become immune to it. The video, which received several awards, has everything in black except content hoping to demand attention, which is in white.
While Twitter’s growth is apparently stalling, Facebook goes from strength to strength and is now, arguably, the world’s largest digital media ‘owner’ other than Google. Its audience is now a very international one, with 70% of users being outside of the US, and its largest audiences are in countries as varied as the UK, Indonesia and Turkey. With this massive growth has come massive opportunities; not just for Facebook but for brands too. But it has also brought challenges, including one that is cropping up more and more frequently – how should multinational companies manage their Facebook profiles? Globally? Locally? Or, dare I say it, somewhere in between: glocally? For brands with a presence in multiple markets, understanding how best to manage their resources to best provide users with relevant content and ensure the highest possible chance of success in the social marketing efforts, this is a challenge that deserves attention.
At last week's marketing series, "The New Black. The New Urban," which took place at media mogul Damon Dash's DD172 center, the message was, indeed, that marketers can't make it by faking it or by relying on outdated notions about what African-American -- and more broadly, urban Millennials -- see when they look in the mirror.
The new ad campaign for Coca-Cola's Vitaminwater hints at a use for enhanced waters and sports drinks that is part of conventional wisdom among many college students and young professionals: hangover relief. The ads debuted during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, and are part of Coke's effort to revitalize the brand, which it bought for $4.1 billion in 2007. After a decade of fast growth, Vitaminwater's sales volume slipped 22% last year, according to Beverage Digest, as price-conscious consumers traded down to tap water and, in some cases, sodas.
Scott coined the phrase “Cultural Movements” as the new marketing model for a fragmented media world. I wanted to interview Scott to learn more about how Cultural Movements work in today’s Web 2.0 world. In our talk, Scott explains his thinking on the role of Cultural Movements in brand-building today and gives examples of how they’ve worked in a broad range of categories.
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.
Taco Bell is off to a promising start in India, with thousands of customers visiting the American fast-food chain's first Indian outlet daily, even though most have never tasted a taco. Encouraged by strong growth at its KFC and Pizza Hut chains in India, Yum Brands Inc. opened its first Taco Bell in Bangalore on March 16. The store in a mall in India's technology capital has attracted an average of 2,000 to 2,500 customers each day since then.
Ben & Jerry's new chief executive, in Burlington for Free Cone Day, said corporate owner Unilever (UN) is "100% committed" to having Ben & Jerry's in the state where it began. Ben & Jerry's will remain anchored in Vermont, Jostein Solheim promised Tuesday after he scooped a few cones at the company's Church Street parlor, because of "the history and the authenticity of the culture and values." Free Cone Day for Ben & Jerry's, one of corporate owner Unilever 's 400 brands, was Solheim's second day on the job and it came with an appearance by Olympic medalist Hannah Teter, the snowboarder from Belmont, Vt. Although new to Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Solheim is a 19-year Unilever veteran. Fourteen of those years have been with the global conglomerate's ice cream division.
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:
I attended the Advertising Research Foundation meetings today and had a chance to listen to Jeff Bewkes as interviewed on stage by Guy Garcia. Bewkes is now the CEO of Time Warner, but his remarks were devoted especially to his days at HBO. And well he should. Over the course of 10 years, Bewkes and his colleague Chris Albrecht changed TV extraordinarily. They changed a lot of American cutlure in the process.
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.
Today, the peanut gallery, digitally enabled by social media, is casting real-time shadows onto the screen of popular culture. As my colleague Brian Stelter wrote in The New York Times recently, the Internet, which was thought to be a TV killer, is turning out to be its wingman, helping build huge, and in some cases record, audiences for large events like the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Olympics. (How else to explain the baffling ardency for curling?) During the Oscars last week, there were as many as 70,000 posts an hour on Twitter, according to Trendr.
Google Inc. appears increasingly likely to shutter its Chinese-language search engine, a step that would remove one of the last major foreign players from the world's most populous and fastest-growing Internet market. A person familiar with situation said on Saturday that Google is likely to take action within weeks. Separately, Chinese authorities on Friday told local news Web sites that Google's Chinese site is likely to close and that, if it does, the news sites will be required to use only official accounts of the situation, rather than publish stories from anywhere else, according to a person familiar with the order.
They are variously known as the Net Generation, Millennials, Generation Y or Digital Natives. But whatever you call this group of young people—roughly, those born between 1980 and 2000—there is a widespread consensus among educators, marketers and policymakers that digital technologies have given rise to a new generation of students, consumers, and citizens who see the world in a different way. Growing up with the internet, it is argued, has transformed their approach to education, work and politics.
Starbucks Corp. and some other chain stores in the U.S. are finding themselves caught in the middle of a firearms debate, as gun-control advocates go up against a burgeoning campaign by gun owners to carry holstered pistols in public places. The "open carry" movement, in which gun owners carry unconcealed handguns as they go about their everyday business, is loosely organized around the country but has been gaining traction in recent months. Gun-control advocates have been pushing to quash the movement, including by petitioning the Starbucks coffee chain to ban guns on its premises.
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.
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.
The New York Times brings this story of an economist who has been predicting - disconcertingly accurately - the medals tally for the last few Olympics. Daniel Johnson - the economist in question - is currently in the news for his predictions for the current Winter Olympics. The strange thing about Daniel's predictions is not that they have a record of 94% accuracy with actual medal counts. It is his methology. Rather than basing his predictions on individual athletes, the events or even any knowledge of sport, he bases them on something far more removed.
Nations are brands – with recognized attributes and personalities. The history of national behavior colors perception of these brands – often turning them into crude caricatures. The North Koreans are not known for their playfulness nor Italy for its martial arts. O Canada – Is yours a strong brand among nations – with a distinctive and compelling personality? Does the name "Ca-na-da" call to mind vivid, positive images?
Magazines, books, newspapers -- all that printed stuff is supposed to be dying. Advertising pages, which have been steadily declining, dropped 26% in 2009 alone. But here, surely, was some evidence that publishing might have a chance. If an adolescent who otherwise spends every waking hour on a laptop still craves the printed word, then maybe, just maybe, there's a little new growth left in old media.
Most things that are used are seen to be diminished by use. Depreciation is not just an economic concept. It’s a cultural fact. Once something has been owned by someone it is soiled, profaned, yuuky, somehow. We continue to have the idea that things come from the factory in a state of grace. Ready for ownership. Ready for us. Any ownership diminishes them. But what if these products were blank, storyless, tedious. What if objects straight from the factory seemed somehow orphaned, smaller and less interesting for the fact of their pristine condition. If we care about recycling, we want objects to be better at absorbing and recording and reporting their histories.
$560 million and counting in 17 days — that's how much donors have given to 40 U.S. charities surveyed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Why the outpouring of cash? It's not just because people are dying. Innocent people are dying by the hundreds of thousands every day under the most horrific circumstances, but we don't see $560 million pouring into any of their causes in two and a half weeks. It's not because people are buried alive. People are buried alive every day by the scourge of AIDS and malaria, and literally in diamond and precious metals mines, but we don't see half a billion dollars materializing overnight for these causes.
In the old days, most of the meanings of our objects came prefab. This is what brands did for us. Brands, and the advertisers, planners, researchers and marketers who made them. Inevitably we would add meanings to our possessions. We might finesse the ones we found there. But mostly, anyone with the same objects had the same meanings. Thus did our material culture make our culture material.
Visitors touring the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas are greeted noisily. Staffers blow horns and ring cowbells to bid them welcome. This sort of thing puts my teeth on edge. Call me a grinch. Call me a humorless, life-hating, stick in the mud, but commandeering personal emotions in the interest of forced conviviality seems to me wrong. I believe emotions are mostly a private matter and should not be controlled by the corporation.
Normally China's internet censorship is a topic of hot interest for the Human Rights crowd at the State Department, but the fate of Google.cn in China should be watched closely by marketers, too. If the search site does disappear from the mainland, more is at stake than just paid search opportunities. Google is a key player in drawing advertisers to online media. The web -- and particularly the growing number of social networks -- have found the U.S. company to be a key catalyst for online marketing efforts.
For most marketers, the growth of multicultural segments became a business imperative after the 2000 Census and the generational focus shifted from boomer to Gen Y. If you're managing a large brand today, you are likely addressing these opportunities through some combination of targeted Hispanic, African American or Asian, and youth-marketing initiatives. But today that segmentation is not enough; a bigger change is emerging that is more meaningful than just demography.
Those entering the workforce now will likely make less and save more—not just in the short term but for the rest of their lives.
What in the name of Steve Jobs is Ashton Kutcher doing here? It’s 11 on a September morning in Silicon Valley — a time when any decent Hollywood celebrity should be sleeping off yesternight’s revels in a hyperbaric chamber at the Chateau Marmont, or, at most, Tweeting what’s in today’s egg-white omelet. Yet here’s Kutcher, the Puckish prince of Twitter (over four million followers and counting), emerging from the back of a dowdy Lincoln Town Car and stepping into Downtown Nerdburg. He’s fresh off the plane, and looking about as casual as a shaggy six-foot sex symbol is capable of looking against the pleated-khaki backdrop of Mountain View, CA. Which is to say, he looks perfect (the well-tempered bedhead peeking from beneath the carefully selected ball cap, the zippered sweater hanging just-so on that vertiginous Rem Koolhaas boneframe) and also perfectly out of place, his personal perihelion of Dionysian awesomeness at odds with these Dilbertian precincts.
Farewell and good riddance to the Decade of the Zeroes, when many people felt reduced to nothingness after two big economic bubbles burst. Welcome to the 2010s, a chance for a fresh start — sort of. The year opens with four trends that gained momentum in the past decade.
Most of us read PSFK to get early warning and better intelligence. This is useful in our own lives, and crucial for the organizations for which we work. Now these organizations can choose their response. And this is better than the standard modality of the American corporation: total surprise followed by blind reaction.
Why is the brain divided? If it is about making connections, why has evolution so carefully preserved the segregation of its hemispheres? Almost every function once thought to be the province of one or other hemisphere—language, imagery, reason, emotion—is served by both hemispheres, not one. There is nonetheless a highly significant difference in how the two hemispheres work, giving rise to two wholly distinct takes on the world. Normally we synthesize them without being aware that we are doing so. But one of the two hemispheres can come to dominate—and just as this may happen for individuals, it may also happen for a whole culture.
How you use your mobile phone has long reflected where you live. But the spirit of the machines may be wiping away cultural differences.
Think back, way back, to the last time you were in a 7-Eleven. Recall the smell, the light, the products on the shelf, the linoleum under foot, the clerk behind the counter. It’s as if everything that is bad and wrong in the ordinary world has assembled in a kind of jamboree of awfulness. When I used to frequent one in downtown Boston, I would shuffle around endlessly looking for something to eat. And I came to the conclusion that with the exception of a token apple or two, only artificial food is allowed in this place. If you ate here exclusively for a month (instead of at McDonald’s), there is no chance you would complete the assignment.
Bad news isn't bad wine. It doesn't improve with age. According to Bain & Co, 80% of CEOs think their brands offer a superior experience, but only 8% of their consumers agreed. AOL seemed to have gleaned that fact. AOL's running man (logo) had already run off the cliff, revealing a brand that was desecrated, unoriginal, normalized and downtrodden. The business goal of any brand is to create more users, new users or new uses by continually innovating to add value to customer's lives. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong needs to ask himself: What is AOL's true brand ambition? What does he wish his AOL brand to be capable of achieving? With great brands come great benefits -- including higher customer loyalty, increased opportunities and elevated profits.
When it started four years ago, Futures of Entertainment (FoE) was grappling with wild problems. Everything seemed hard to think. What was social media? What was trans-media? What was blogging and (later) tweeting? It wasn't just that we didn't have the answers. It was hard to prosecute the argument. Every so often, we (or at least me) would have to go back and ask, "Ok, what's the formal definition of that term again." It was like learning to ride a bicycle. You would make a little progress and then suddenly forget even the fundamentals and come crashing down. They were very wild problems indeed. Four years later these are tame problems.
It's an unpleasant, abominable idea, submitting something as delicate as culture to the rack of metrification. But here's why it's necessary. There's so much going on "out there" in culture, so many different people creating so many different innovations, subject to change so violent and frequent, that unless we have metrics at our disposal, well, we're done for. We have no real hope of canvassing all that water front.
Many companies are entering the social/green/community space, with hopes of impressing customers, yet despite their best intentions, they could come across as unauthentic, and be damaging their own brand. Companies should first take a self-assessment of their brand to see if they’re ready before they decide to enter the social space. Companies should first assess their culture and ask: * Is the company ready to talk about the good –and bad– with the market? * Is the internal culture ready to embrace customers on their own terms? * Is the culture ready to make changes based on the request of customers? Launching a corporate blog is easy, a Twitter account even easier, yet if companies culture doesn’t match the values they’re telling the market, they risk brand damage through reduced credibility.
“Volkswagen is really down-to-earth.” “Nike is exiting.” These examples show that consumers use personality traits when they communicate about brands among each other. Brand personality is the set of personality traits that consumers associated with a brand. Brand personality is related to human personality theory that explains human behavior and preferences on the basis of personality traits. Personality traits are distinguishing characteristics of a person. They are a readiness to think or act in a similar fashion in response to a variety of different stimuli or situations. So, the traits of a person define behaviour to a large extent and consistent over time: an extravert person will behave in an extravert way, while an introvert person will most of the time behave in an introvert way. The value of human personality is found in the potency of the model to forecast human behavior. If a person is introvert he or she can be expected to behave in this way most of the time. Next, personality steers preference. For example women prefer more than men people who show higher levels of socially desirable traits. Brands, like people, can use the potency of personality.
Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2008 by focusing relentlessly on customer service – a potent digital marketing tool. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, kicked off day one of PubCon 2009 with a keynote on the importance of delivering happiness through service. Founded in 1999, Zappos has grown to 1,400 employees and is listed at #23 in Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies To Work For.” Zappos is “Powered by Service.” Its goal is to provide the best online shopping experience possible.
While social media often commands favorable media attention, the less often told story is that successful initiatives are rare to come by and that there still a number of organizational roadblocks that managers need to overcome in order to make progress. Still, we are seeing signs of progress in the form of new efficiencies, more direct ways to connect with customers, and ways to make products and services better. From my experience working and talking with people in large, complex organizations, here are a small sample of obstacles to look for with suggestions on how you might overcome them:
Question: Google has it, Hoover has it (in the UK anyway), TiVo had it, lost it and has somewhat got it back. Xerox had it, but nobody really cares anymore. So what is it? It's when a brand name becomes the verb associated with its use. So rather than searching, you Google, or TiVo when digital recording a television show. Arguably an even more powerful synonym is when a brand becomes a noun, such as Polaroid, for instant developed photographs, although that didn't end so well. The newest one would seem to Facebook, although it has two meanings.
Interesting article on global brands adapting to local culture in Market Leader by Nigel Hollis of Millward Brown. Nice one Nigel. First thing that hit me was that global brands beat local brands in the five categories researched across eight countries. The global brands were more often considered for purchase, and scored better on statements including 'easy to recognize', and having 'distinctive identities'. The two global brands which stood out were Coca-Cola and McDonald's. Interestingly, both of these were seen by a significant share of local consumers as being part of their own national cultures. So much for the image portrayed by doom-mongers in the press of these brands being multinational, American dictators.
The Amazon Mechanical Turk is, as Wikipedia puts it, "a crowdsourcing marketplace that enables computer programs to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do." It consists of thousands of people who stand ready for tasks send them by Amazon or others who may wish to use Amazon's MTurk service. MTurk "providers" work alone, often in their spare time. Standing in line at a 7/11, they can bang out a few turns. They get paid a small fee for each decision. No one gets rich working in a mechanical turk, but many find it interesting.
In researching his new book, Googled: the End of the World as We Know It, to be published next week by Penguin Press, author Ken Auletta had extensive access to the company's inner workings and reported widely on its impact on the media landscape. In a Fortune.com exclusive, he offers ten enduring lessons drawn from his journey into Google's realm.
Every trend comes with a ticking clock. It may feel inevitable, but its days are numbered. This too shall pass.
When Matt Halfill was a kid, his parents sent him to a charter school in Fresno, Calif., where he got a tremendously valuable education -- about footwear. "That wasn't the most advantaged side of town, but still people had great sneakers," Hatfill says. "My parents never got sneakers that cost more than $40, but I saw shoes that were $150 and they were beautiful." A few years later, when Halfhill was 15, his parents moved to the island of Grenada to teach at a medical school. The Caribbean kids were even crazier about their kicks than the ones in Fresno had been. "They had catalogs and would plan all day long about what shoes they would buy if they went to Miami one day that year," Halfhill remembers. "That's when I realized this was a worldwide thing. It wasn't just in the U.S."
A Yale lab assistant is impulsively strangled, allegedly by a co-worker. A young man leaving work near the main New York City post office accidentally bumps into a passerby and is stabbed to death. A congressman shouts from the floor, insulting us all. Kanye West steals a microphone at the MTV Video Music Awards. What's up? As a culture, we are losing the ability to speak, to reason, to talk things out. We are losing "words." TV, email and eBusiness have given us a lot, but they engender a context that bleeds us of the normal interplay and untidy elegance of language. Too many conversations are routinely foreshortened as a result of our mediated, digitized world. And without words and their rightful context, all that remains is action. Extreme action. Think reality TV. Think talk radio. Think Capitol Hill. Not to mention what happens on our own street corners and in our dining rooms.
When the Wall Street Journal reported that Conde Naste was closing Gourmet Magazine, it gave a chart suggesting that all the magazines in the CN stable were losing money. All except one. Saveur is actually prospering. I asked Pam, my wife, about the difference between Gourmet and Saveur. She said Saveur is about the culture of food: people, restaurants, trends, cuisines, celebrity foodstuffs, generally speaking. Gourmet is more about the food of food: recipes, techniques, procedures. And by this reckoning, the fall of Gourmet and the rise of Saveur is perhaps not mysterious. After all, in prosperous America, people are cooking less. They are eating out more. And they are ordering in, or bringing in, more and more.
Our Culture (high and popular) is usually created by people who are happy with the systems the world has given them. Magazine editors don't spend a lot of time wishing for better technology. Opera singers focus more on their singing than on microphone technologies. Novelists proudly use typewriters. Sure, there are exceptions like Les Paul (who developed the electric guitar) and Mitch Miller (who invented reverb) but these exceptions prove the rule: often, culture is invented by people who are too busy to seek out new technology.
The roles that brands play in people’s lives are not static but evolving. While brand names once were used to differentiate basic commodity products and provide a promise of consistent formulation and quality, now they confer a whole range of other benefits, including status, emotional well-being, and a sense of belonging. The importance of these different benefits and emotional rewards varies according to a number of factors, including the cultural norms of different countries and the development of specific categories. In order to survive in today’s crowded and complicated markets, brand owners and marketers need to stay abreast of these changing needs and expectations. But those that want their brands to do more than survive—those that want their brands to succeed and thrive in the future—need to stay one step ahead. They need to anticipate the next set of needs that brands will satisfy for their consumers.
I was watching Stephanopoulos yesterday morning and I saw this IBM ad. And I thought, "hey, I've seen that guy somewhere before." And sure enough, he's in a Castrol Motor Oil ad. I think it's the same guy, right down to the wrinkles in his forehead. Does this matter? Maybe what happens in an ad for Castrol Oil stays in an ad for Castrol Oil. Or do actors have "transmedia" properties? Do they carry anything with them between ads? Here's what the "meaning transfer" theory says.
Better ballot design could have changed the results of the 2000 election. A better design for information sharing might have prevented 9/11. Now, could design thinking help fix something fundamentally broken in American democracy: how we engage in national debate? Whether the topic is climate change, financial regulation, or health care reform, when asked to "discuss amongst ourselves," the conversation devolves into who can shout the loudest, hurl the nastiest epithets, or pervert the facts to fit their own agendas. Can this process be saved? We spoke to Tim Brown, CEO of famed design and innovation firm, IDEO, and author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, (and Fast Company expert blogger) to see what might be done.
It's no secret that the bottled water industry is headed for life support. Between rising environmental consciousness and a sagging economy, showing off your premium water label is about as socially acceptable an image as Ruth Madoff shopping at Hermés. So it's no surprise that trendspotters greeted the latest designer water bottle, a collaboration between Evian and Paul Smith, with a giant collective yawn. The collaboration strikes a remarkably different tone than past notable designer waters (Ty Nant and Lovegrove, Evian and Gaultier, Glacier and Starck).
It's very easy to underrate the value of cultural wisdom, otherwise known as sophistication. Walk into a doctor's office and the paneling is wrong, the carpeting is wrong and it feels dated. Instant lack of trust. Meet a salesperson in your office. She doesn't shake hands, she's fumbling with an old Filofax, she mispronounces Steve Jobs' name and doesn't make eye contact. Visit a website for a vendor and it looks like one of those long-letter opportunity seeker type sites. In each case, the reason you wrote someone off had nothing to do with their product and everything to do with their lack of cultural wisdom.
Journalists are truth-tellers. But I think most of us have been lying to ourselves. Our profession is crumbling and we blame the Web for killing our business model. Yet it’s not the business model that changed on us. It’s the culture. Mainstream media were doing fine when information was hard to get and even harder to distribute. The public expected journalists to report the important stories, pull together information from sports scores to stock market results, and then deliver it all to our doorsteps, radios and TVs. People trusted journalists and, on our side, we delivered news that was relevant—it helped people connect with neighbors, be active citizens, and lead richer lives. Advertisers, of course, footed the bill for newsgathering. They wanted exposure and paid because people, lots of people, were reading our newspapers or listening to and watching our news programs. But things started to change well before the Web became popular.
Advertising agencies around the country are trying to figure out social media. How do we do it? How do we sell it? Do we have to? The answer is probably yes, you do have to if you want to continue to offer a full range of marketing services to your clients, and bill appropriately. Some agencies are doing a good job adjusting, hiring smart social media thinkers and getting smart about social media quickly. Others are still cocking their head sideways like a puppy trying to figure out a vacuum cleaner. Sadly, many ad agencies never figured out Interactive, let’s call it Web 1.0. Now you add a layer of Web 2.0 or social media on top of that and many agencies and their respective creatives (art directors, copywriters, designers) and clients services folks are rendered dumb struck at the thought of all things digital. There problem is that there exists a culture clash between ad agencies and social media marketing. The difficulty is the result of both philosophical and tactical problems. The good news is problems can be solved. But it will take some work.
The Telegraph recently featured a list of fifty things that are being destroyed by the Internet. The article is hardly surprising given the massive shifts the Internet brings to society, but it does raise a debate about what will be missed from a bygone era and what will be rightly forgotten. The list covers the lost art of polite disagreement, various cumbersome fact checking situations and the blackout of news during holidays
Any corporation can be forgiven being a little anxious these days. Everyone's confidence is being tested. I interviewed Debbie Millman over the weekend, and she helped me see an unexpected connection between this confidence and the brand. When the corporation loses it's nerve, it ceases to take chances. It begins to white-knuckle its way through the world. It begins to lean towards stasis. The consumer may too.
This is Cambridge, Massachusetts, one rainy autumn afternoon in 2005. Fantastic? Or totally spectacular? You be the judge. It was created by Burak Arikan and Ben Dalton at MIT's Media Lab. It designed to show the color of clothing in motion in the many neighborhoods that make up Cambridge. Arikan and Dalton rigged up cameras, capture color data and converted it to this astonishingly useful piece of data visualization. To be fair, Cambridge is not the most fashion forward place in the world. Indeed, I have seen people on the MIT campus who look as if they just walked out of explosion at Goodwill. I'm not talking hipster refusal of mainstream fashion. I'm talking completely random. This is a wonderful thing from an anthropological point of view but somewhat at odds with the clothing conventions that rule our world. So the Chief Culture Officer may not care about these data as data. The Arikan-Dalton visualization will matter more as proof of concept.
For most businesses, being part of the social-media evolution is no longer a new opportunity; it's a necessity. And yet for many, one of the most basic elements of a successful strategy seems dangerously undercooked: the "what?" What exactly is this currency we're now wielding? What are its different forms, how do they travel, and do we have a real understanding of them? What makes the content we're creating socially, culturally and distinctively relevant? For multicultural audiences, this is an especially crucial consideration. For the growing "non-general market," social media means much more than just Twitter, Facebook and blogs. It includes a wide range of content and channels, paths to entry more nascent than the staid mediums and content we're all familiar with.
When thinking of any Social Business Design problem, it's important to realize that there are three areas which will define all of the challenges which will need to be resolves in order to move any business toward a more open, collaborative model which benefits all constituents (employees, customers, partners). These areas are: People Process Technology Right now the industry is focused on technology, which is understandable since advances in it have enabled us to do so much more with less. However, I wanted to focus this short post around a subset of people. It's a thing commonly referred to as "corporate culture".
I have worked with Paula Rosch several times over the years. So when I sat down to think about who was acting in the capacity of an unspoken Chief Culture Officer, she came to mind. I asked Paula if she would sit down and tell me about how she helped make Kimberly-Clark a living, breathing culture, and she produced this fascinating document. Here are some of the highlights that await you.
It's fashionable to say "really?" in a new way. The old way of saying "really?" meant (roughly) Wow, that's interesting. Thanks! As in: "Did you know the Pittsburgh Pirates are the worst team in Christendom? "Really!" The new way of saying "really?" means (roughly), "That's what you're going with? I wouldn't have made that choice. I wonder if you're an idiot." As in: "I'm thinking about moving to Connecticut." "Really." The first really is using spoken with the upward lilt of a question. The second really usually comes with an emphatic downturn in tone. (It's heavy with scorn.) I'm not sure when this new really arrived. Certainly, a tipping point came when Saturday Night Live began running "Really?!? with Seth and Amy." Phrases dream of this kind of exposure. To be blessed by Lorne Michaels. To be lifted out of the obscurity. "Really" went big time. But it's not enough to be elevated by Lorne Michaels. A phrase doesn't flourish unless it speaks to something in our culture. And that's the question: what does the sudden popularity of this little phrase tell us about ourselves?
For reasons known only to the pop-culture gods, IKEA -- the Swedish retailer of cheap, lingonberry-flavored furniture and other shinola -- has suddenly become a ubiquitous presence in the ether. Example: in August, when the 2010 IKEA catalog came out, people went utterly bonkers because the designers had changed the print font from the familiar Futura to Verdana -- an esoteric difference, to be sure. The story rocketed to No. 2 on CNN.com's most-read list, according to Mona Astra Liss, IKEA's director of public relations. But for the passing of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the story might have gone to No. 1.
Anthropological dreams are made of this: helping Disney and Marvel manage their rapprochement. Nothing short of heroic effort will do. Disney is, after all, a pretty good marker for all that is mainstream about American culture. Marvel is, by deliberate contrast, darker and less predictable. One corporation turns in towards the gravitational center of our culture. The other prefers to plot a course for the margin, for the uncharted, for the unknown. I mean, this can't be a match made in heaven. It's going to be tricky, complicated and, possibly, agonizing. Right?
It WAS bold of marketing directors to invest in digital and social media campaigns a year ago. In revisionist marketing thinking, if you hadn’t done it, you’d be crazy. If you’re the least bit curious about how digital and social media is impacting your brand, I’ll call your attention to a weeklong series about media growth in the F.T.. I’m also trying to demonstrate one of the biggest changes happening in the world of media. Namely that friends are shaping culture more than editors, by doing exactly what I am doing for you: Directing you to an interesting series of articles in the F.T.
Can everyone just stop whining about information overload? I mean, in the knowledge economy, information is our most valuable commodity. And these days it’s available in almost infinite abundance, delivered automatically to our electronic devices or accessible with a few mouse clicks. So buck up, already! Wait a second: Can I just stop whining about information overload?
USA Networks goes from strength to strength. In March, the network had scored its 11th straight quarter as the nation's top-rated cable outlet—averaging 3.2 million viewers in prime time, the biggest audience ever in cable. (Johnnie Roberts, Newsweek, ref. below) Every parent company wants a child like this. Of all NBCU's properties, including the namesake broadcaster NBC and its Universal studio, USA has become the biggest earner, delivering roughly $1 billion in profits last year. This can't happen without someone smart and creative in charge. That someone is Bonnie Hammer. Hammer's success raises an urgent question: how in the dickens does she do it? TV is littered with failures. Hammer appears to be batting around .800. What's the secret?
There are more than 300 million of us in the United States, and sometimes it seems like we're all friends on Facebook. But the sad truth is that Americans are lonelier than ever.
How Big Blue is forging cutting-edge partnerships around the world.
What was he thinking? John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, criticized Obama's approach to health care, and called for a private sector approach. Let's do the cultural math and establish how Mackey damaged the brand and took money out of share holder's pockets.
When A.G. Lafley was named CEO of Procter & Gamble during the summer of 2000, the task of turning the organization around looked overwhelming. The price of a share in the consumer packaged goods giant had declined by nearly 55% in just two months. The company was missing revenue and profit targets as it learned to grapple with the Internet and new global competitors. To remain the world's preeminent maker of useful stuff for the house, P&G needed to make a lot of changes very quickly. Lafley saw design as being central to P&G's transformation. Design promised to unleash the creativity of the organization and find new ways to unlock value that a marketing-driven company might not have discovered.
Deciding whether to adopt a customer-centric orientation is a significant decision for organizations, not to be made casually. It results in debates defining customer centricity, often with the question, "How customer-centric do we need to be?" Inevitably, it means organizing around the customer and the further proliferation of the types of marketing needed to do so effectively. The many companies that have embraced a customer-centric orientation have experienced some real and often unexpected challenges. At the center of these challenges is the role of the chief marketing officer -- the person who needs to deliver thought leadership, lead the strategy debate and reorganization, and then integrate the various marketing types into a company-wide, customer-centric orientation.
In 1971, the oft-quoted political scientist Herbert Simon predicted that in an information age, cultural producers (that's designers, but also filmmakers, theater types, musicians, artists) would quickly face a shortage of attention. "What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients," he wrote. The more information, the less attention, and "the need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it." Now we have a wide-ranging discussion about what is and what can't be free (Malcolm Gladwell on Chris Anderson, Virginia Postrel on Chris Anderson), which is basically about the future of profit. Maybe we should be considering a dilemma of a human nature: the future of attention.
Sending and receiving at breakneck speed can make life queasy; a manifesto for slow communication.
India's Tata Group has made innovation part of its DNA, setting up a way for handling new ideas and making creative thinking a performance criterion.
Japan’s trend-chasing office workers and ladies who lunch are giving up Louis Vuitton handbags and Chanel jackets for Zara dresses and Gap jeans, making what was a favourite market for luxury manufacturers into one of their biggest headaches. The downturn is forcing customers in Japan to scale back purchases of luxury goods, accelerating a long-term shift in consumer attitudes, according to a report by McKinsey, the consultants.
David Weinberger tells the story of Jake McKee, the man who taught Lego how to have a conversation with its consumer. It turns out McKee supplied a crucial piece of Lego's cultural intelligence.
A few years ago, we were asked by a regional coffee roaster to redefine the coffee experience for fine dining. We knew that Americans drank coffee after dinner for functional purposes (to wake/sober up), but we wanted to understand how we could create a more emotional experience. We grabbed our notepads, went into the field, drank a lot of coffee, studied coffee rituals from different cultures and ultimately crafted a compelling coffee experience that could have resurrected the after dinner coffee ritual in America. The client loved it, but never brought it to market. Why?
There's something a little heartbreaking about the very existence of "And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture," by Bill Wasik. After all, it's a meditation on living, breathing virality that resides between the hard, dead covers of a book. I can point you to its Amazon page or to any number of reviews and write-ups -- including, most recently, James B. Arndorfer's "Father of Flash Mobs on the Future of Viral" in the Ad Age Bookstore -- but the actual pages of "This" are trapped, even on a Kindle, in their own separate, fixed, unlinked world. And so, for this latest installment of Dumenco's Media People -- an ongoing series of conversations with media grandees -- I took Bill Wasik out for tea recently in New York City, near the headquarters of Harper's Magazine, where he's a senior editor, to attempt some ... interactivity with the living, breathing social-media observer and mischief-maker.
Karl and Dorsey Gude of East Lansing, Mich., can remember simpler mornings, not too long ago. They sat together and chatted as they ate breakfast. They read the newspaper and competed only with the television for the attention of their two teenage sons. That was so last century. Today, Mr. Gude wakes at around 6 a.m. to check his work e-mail and his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The two boys, Cole and Erik, start each morning with text messages, video games and Facebook.
"Cocksure: The Psychology of Overconfidence" is the title of Malcolm Gladwell's recent piece in the New Yorker, where he investigates the mental-space of decision-making. Gladwell analyzes financial collapse and war, arguing that beyond the conventional explanations of those predicaments (structural mishap and cognitive deficit), there is a psychological dimension at play. In high-stakes situations, we suffer from a more deeply rooted conundrum: a crisis of overconfidence.
Baby boomers changed the world, ended a war, created a new culture of values and morphed our style and politics with every move of the Beatles. In the end, it was all rock and roll to us. We won the right to vote, and then turned around and voted for Nixon. We baby boomers have been puzzling ourselves and the rest of world since then. Who are we? As we enter our 60s, we have to answer that question ourselves. If our high point was when we were 19 or 20, what will be our second act?
Two items in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye today. Both show us the American corporation as it struggles to divine the mysteries of American culture.
Hat's off to Bob Garfield who today takes issue with the gender stereotyping in beer advertising: [Men] are die cut and stamped, tumbling off the conveyor into the Man Hopper, programmed to drink beer, watch football, barbecue meat and fall asleep moments after forgetting she has needs, too. We are all, in short, Adam Carrola. But hold on just one second. Adam Carrola's a dick.
There are two kinds of brand: national and niche. National brands are their own planets. They have the incumbent's advantage, channel control, big reputations, deep pockets, and, if they're lucky, consumer loyalty.
Sailboat races almost always start into the wind. Much like a business strategy, boats are forced to pick a side or stay close to the center of the course by tacking back and forth since it is impossible to sail directly into the wind. The first leg of the race is critical since it quickly separates the good boats from the weaker ones.
Dear Old People Who Run the World, My generation would like to break up with you. Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.
The central premise of the Sputnik project is that everything is connected to everything else, and that topics and ideas that may seem fringe and even heretical to the mainstream world are in fact being investigated by leading thinkers working in fields as diverse as quantum physics, mathematics, neuroscience, biology, economics, architecture, digital art, video games, computer science and music. Sputnik is dedicated to bringing these crucial ideas from the fringes of thought out into the limelight, so that the world can begin to understand them.
Steve Rubel, long a maven of PR and the new media, is now committing his life to digital memory. To the right, Steve's diagram of how various media will work to capture and communicate the fine details of his professional life. In a couple of centuries, this may make him our Samuel Pepys, a man who speaks for us all when someone comes to see what it was like in and around 2009.
Creativity reports that JWT Japan and Kit Kat have won the Media Grand Prix in Cannes with a product/marketing concept called Kit Kat Mail. JWT was struck by the Japanese translation of Kit Kat—Kitto Katso means “surely win”—and the tradition of sending students good luck wishes before tough higher education entrance exams.
If today's youth are truly a colorblind demographic, how does that influence the way brands should market to them?
For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question.
There’s no such thing as a captive audience. Gone are the days of neat and discrete moments in time where advertisers talked to target audiences. Today’s is a culture in constant motion. And the dizzying array of platforms, constant connectivity and ever-increasing speed of information has left the ad industry out of sync with its audience. People don’t live in quarterly campaigns, nor do they distinguish communication channels. They expect faster and constant communication with their brands across more media platforms and conversations. Every month, week, day, on the hour. It’s now about how fast brands can move, how relevant they can be and what they can offer in the here and now. There is a always need for “slow” and carefully crafted brand strategies and stories. But, with culture in constant motion there is also a need for marketers to be quick and nimble, so they can find opportunities where their brands can tap into cultural conversations that are part of people’s lives.
Marketing is facing its first real existential crisis, as pressure builds on CMOs to achieve what many are referring to as "the same impact for 60% of the dollars." That's why now's the time for CMOs to adopt and apply to their marketing operations the 7-S Framework, an analytical tool that's been successfully used by hundreds of corporations.
You might call apartamento the anti-home magazine. Or, rather, the anti-magazine about homes -- because, if anything, it's a proponent of domestic interiors. Not in that airbrushed, calalily-and-provenanced-etageres (available at selected locations, $4,999) kind of way. But in the sense of showing how real people -- or really interesting people, anyway -- happen to live in their surroundings.
A new survey by the Pew Research Center's project on social and demographic trends found that 60 percent of all younger and middle-aged adults say they are doing more shopping at discount stores or avoiding more expensive brands.Pew said nearly a quarter of younger adults say they plan to plant a "recession garden" to trim their food bills. Another Pew study released in April found that from the kitchen to the laundry room to home entertainment, consumers are paring down the list of things they can't live without. I loved the title of that report: "Luxury or Necessity? The Public Makes a U-Turn." Is this dawning age of frugality here to stay?
A disappointed marketer of ABC Cola recently returned from a Middle East assignment. A colleague asked, "What happened? What went wrong?
Not long ago, everyone in America wanted to be a member of the "middle class." In fact, as many as 53% of Americans described themselves that way to pollsters. But with the information age and the rise of two-career incomes, being just middle class is a little old hat. The new aspiration for most Americans to be a member of the new professional class. Rising numbers -- as high as 64% -- report that they consider themselves "professionals." The census shows a significant rise over the years, from 4% being professionals and skilled workers in 1910, to 36% today. The numbers have doubled since just 1980.
The world is changing. The current economic crisis is causing people around the globe to reevaluate their priorities. Several themes are taking shape, and brands that can most quickly embrace them will be the ones best poised to prosper, even during hard times.
The lack of innovation in pop music suggests that we are experiencing an energy crisis in culture at large.
How to return Mother's Day to its original meaning.
Culture is the cumulative concept that encompasses knowledge, belief, customs, practices and any other habits acquired by people as members of society. A culture operates primarily by setting loose boundaries for individual behavior. Culture, in effect, provides the framework within which individuals and households function. A major consequence of culture is its impact on consumption patterns of individuals and institutions. Depending on the underlying cultural philosophy consumers tend to follow certain consumption patterns. Successful brands have been able to adopt their branding strategies in line with this dominant cultural philosophy and weave their brands into the cultural fiber.
One of the most interesting consequences of the economic downturn is the depth of soul-searching triggered among adults of all ages. Everyone feels guilty about consuming so much with so little thought---buying things we didn't need with money we didn't have. While the recession may not give us much choice in the matter, spending less and saving more--and living within our means--actually feels like the natural course. It's time for grown-ups to grow up. In his Inaugural address, Obama pretty much ordered us to set a new path with a verbal finger wag: "The time has come to set aside childish things."
Knowledge is passed down directly from generation to generation in the animal kingdom as parents teach their children the things they will need to survive. But a new study has found that, even when the chain is broken, nature sometimes finds a way.
David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time.
The legendary advertising innovator David Ogilvy created an enduring organization using culture, integrity, and charm.
Snacks have taken center stage in American eating, according to Snack Foods Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts. The study shows time-crunched Americans now turn to snacks as meal stand-ins, to fuel on-the-go lifestyles and stave off energy crashes. And as snacks grow in importance, consumers want bigger bang for their snacking buck, such as vivid flavor, quality ingredients and pumped-up nutrition.
Writing on the AgencySpy blog, Modernista!’s head of planning Gareth Kay argues that we should stop obsessing over social media and what it can do for a business and instead spend our time trying to deliver social ideas that delight consumers.
Detroit has never had a Chief Culture Officer, someone who could help the GM, Ford and Chrysler manage the opportunities and dangers that come from culture. (By "culture" I do not mean the corporate culture of Detroit. I mean the "software" with which we run the hardware of our world, the shared understandings, assumptions, rules and practices that inform how we see and act. This culture is rich, complicated and changeable. It needs someone standing watch all the time.)
Madison Avenue has come a long way. Since the emergence of modern advertising in the 1920s, defined by the shift from text-based to visual advertising and the use of psychologically sophisticated messages, ads began to resonate powerfully with consumers. Madison Avenue represented the new and the modern (until the emergence of social networks and media), and ads helped consumers figure out what they needed to live a certain lifestyle. Consumers were eager to embrace the cultural authority of Madison Avenue. But by the late 1950s, they were feeling differently.
Kelly Peña, or “the kid whisperer,” as some Hollywood producers call her, was digging through a 12-year-old boy’s dresser drawer here on a recent afternoon. Her undercover mission: to unearth what makes him tick and use the findings to help the Walt Disney Company reassert itself as a cultural force among boys.
Historically, in a simpler time before the jet age, Japan was geographically isolated, surrounded by treacherous seas and formidable fault lines. Mountains cover three-quarters of Japan. Earthquakes and challenging terrain are constant reminders of nature’s strength and have contributed to the importance Japanese people place on having a dependable, manageable social system. Japanese people value the group over the individual, and the society consequently possesses an enviable system of organization and an ethos that gave rise to innovative brands and services. The branding world has taken notice.
In this funny (and actually poignant) 3-minute talk, social strategist Renny Gleeson breaks down our always-on social world -- where the experience we're having right now is less interesting than what we'll tweet about it later.
We have big problems in this country. Wall Street played recklessly with our money. Banks made bad loans. Insurance companies guaranteed stupid risks. People took out unrealistic mortgages and borrowed too much to buy things they couldn't afford. Companies are going out of business and laying off workers. And, the government is bailing people out and billing our kids. It would be easy (and tempting) to go on. But we have one more, deeper problem that's making all these other problems worse. No one is apologizing. No one is taking responsibility for what they did to contribute to our problems. They're all blaming someone or something else. We have a kindergartener's problem and it's tearing us apart.
For the past five years, "we" in search have been fighting "them" at the ad agencies for that slowly shifting piece of the overall marketing pie. In large part, we've been talking past each other the same way that jocks and geeks do in high school. As long as the jocks continued to win the affections of the pretty girl with the big marketing budget, the geeks were marginalized, making them an angry, depressed bunch. Well, you know what? Times have changed, and we've won.
The drink of choice for Web 2.0 zillionaires isn't a quad espresso anymore. It's a soothingly steeped tea harvested from a shaded mountainside half a world away.
Over the past few decades, we've gotten accustomed to "Mo'Better Tech" as the only way forward. As a culture, we are conditioned to consume and throw away good, functioning products in favor of the latest "gadget." (I hate the term "gadget" but that's a different story). As result, as we move through life, we leave an endless trail of discarded objects around the globe. But apart from the environmental issues surrounding technology disposal, what is the problem with Mo'Better Tech?
This is an Age of Commodified Intelligence, a time of conspicuously consumed high culture in which intellectual life is meticulously measured and branded.
User experience director Irene Au explains how Google can manage design and consistency in its traditionally bottoms-up culture.
Mourning the death of the fetid, human way we used to interact with movies.
Hip-hop's decade of bling is popping, and it looks more like the housing bubble than a champagne cork. So why, at this point, would anyone take financial cues from a culture marked by conspicuous consumption? Honda Motor Co. thinks it has an answer.
Is your dog a Fifi or a Fido? Fallon's first work for Alpo takes puppy love back to basics with an online and outdoor campaign that implores owners: "Quick, Get that dog some Alpo."
A great societal shift is under way, and no one is taking advantage of it. Numerous trend reports, even the 2008 census, show conclusively that men are more and more involved in taking care of their children and homes. So you'd think package-goods marketers would jump at the chance to include them in their marketing mixes. But you'd be wrong.
For television viewers, the Super Bowl offers an annual midwinter spectacle. On Sunday, in addition to a football game and a halftime show, they can watch Madison Avenue try to walk a tightrope. The advertisers, which are spending up to $3 million for each 30-second commercial during Super Bowl XLIII, have a tricky task before them. They must figure out the right way to speak to consumers worried about the wretched economy while at the same time not ignore the long-standing appeal of Super Bowl Sunday as a night of escapist fare.
Last night was the first time in a long time a President danced in public without having to issue himself an immediate pardon for his crimes against, well, style, grace and the dignity of the office. Presidents don't set the tone the way monarches once did, but this President has the potential for being deeply transformative of American culture. Obama could change not just the things we care about, but the way we care about them, not just the things we do but the way we do them.
Much ink has been spilled about how the world is shrinking, with people from Boston to Bangalore wearing the same clothes, driving the same cars and watching the same movies. A book titled "The Global Brand" might seem to fit squarely into this category. Think again.