March 18, 2007 by Colin
YOU MUST WATCH THIS VIDEO! Your life discussed, in a constant refrain, with plenty of sexy animated Venn diagrams. GO NOW. NOW! Le Grand Content is inspired by indexed.blogspot.com. Pointer from talent imitates, genius steals.
In the same theme (and from the comments at ti,gs) What Does Marcellus Wallace Look Like?
PlanningLondonLifeStuff has four great slides that help explain the fundamental role of communications: Awareness; Salience; Relevance; Engagement.
[tags] account planning, venn diagrams, communications, presentation, bad ads, marcellus wallace [/tags]
March 16, 2007 by Colin
- Advocacy Calls vs. Push Polls (and DON’T call them push polls) from Stuart Rothenberg. “As I have argued every year for the past five and apparently will have to continue doing until I have taken my last breath, push polls are really advocacy calls aimed at thousands of recipients. They are like television or radio ads, except they are delivered over the telephone. They seek to convey positive or negative information to influence a voter’s final vote decision.”
- Not wanted at SXSW: NO MAN PURSES!
- Latest WebTrenz from the San Francisco Bay Guardian: “Using micropayments, Annoturk helps you pay people in the developing world very tiny amounts of money to annotate all the information on all the wikis you’re supposed to be using. It’s like micro-outsourcing. You might pay 50 cents to a guy in Sri Lanka to add historical information about Lowell, Mass., to a wiki devoted to an upcoming Boston-area conference you’re planning. Or you could pay kids in China’s Shandong province to write small articles about every noun on your work-collaboration wiki. Annoturk is good for the developing world, and it’s good for writing. Plus, it’s just convenient when you’re trying to fill up space with information.” (it’s a joke, folks)
I would suggest that the practice of hiring someone to pump up your wiki could be called “wiki baking.”
- More SXSW: Lee LeFever on community lessons from SXSW and Community 2.0; Chris Carfi liveblogs the SXSW session on Community Ecology; SXSW Interactive podcasts
[tags] push polls, advocacy, man purses, wiki baking, community ecology, communities [/tags]
March 15, 2007 by Colin
Even as the bleeding-edge johnny on the spots continue to preach transparency, responsiveness and honesty to any and all considering a corporate presence through any type of social media, it is useful to refer to similar experiences in the offline world. Like Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia, who have been reflecting customer needs and interests for fifty years.
Chouinard gave the 2006 Von Gugelberg Memorial Environmental Lecture at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in October (the podcast just came out, but the video is available on Stanford’s site). Chouinard made the point, repeatedly, that a publicly held company would have a hard time repeating Patagonia’s example, simply because of the pressures for quarterly performance – to the detriment of the long term planning needed to implement sustainable practices.
Even with a company full of dedicated staff and clearly set goals for sustainability, transparency and responsiveness, Chouinard emphasized that criticism will continue:
“…leading an examined life like that, where you have to questions everything you do, is a real pain in the ass, let me tell you!” (Social Innovation Conversations podcast)
That’s an important observation for all of us, as we argue for companies to experiment with social media.
March 14, 2007 by Colin
It’s been above 5 degrees celcius for more than 24 hours now, we can see the brown grass under the snow, and there’s a hint of spring in the air. Where are my summertime pop hits? What’s the buzz? Who’s going to be the flash-in-the-pan sensation of 2007?
What does a good summertime video need?
- scooters and/or a convertible
- a band with more than three members
- a catchy CasioTone backbeat
- at least one shot of a crowd pretending to dance to the song
- swimsuits and sand
- a band member being dragged out of a crappy job to go party with the others
- maybe one band member being mercilessly mocked by the others
- brother/sister act
- shots taken at a Six Flags park actually open to – you know- real people
What we don’t need in a summertime video:
- some jackass with a scraggly beard
- more than one shot with an exposed brick wall
- any shot of a basement apartment
- Randy Newman
- irony (fake interview of band; simulated rise and fall of band; faux 80s look)
- ostentatious flash of bling
- too many Abercrombie & Fitch hoodies
As for last summer, folks, I’m still up in the air about Lily Allen. Some of her music was a little whiny sounding, maybe a little too dark, to qualify for real summertime pop status. (Although I did like her cover of The Specials’ Blank Expression)
[tags] summertime music, pop, video [/tags]
March 13, 2007 by Colin
It’s not that I’m a twitter hater.
It’s that my friends are.
They’re a very bad influence on me.
At least that what’s my mom says.
She won’t let them come over.
I don’t have anyone to play on the Amiga anymore.
[tags] twitter, twitter hater [/tags]
March 12, 2007 by Colin
Don’t you find the Scandinavian trainee managers at Ikea slightly offputting? Seriously, those guys (and gals) need a joy buzzer. A serious drunken bender. Or for Ikea to introduce a conveniently priced, attractively packaged and cleanly designed series of personal “massage” products.
Actually, now that I think about it, their quiet and determined demeanour reminds me of someone with a massive hangover, just trying to make it through the day quickly and quietly. Who knows what those crazy Swedes, thousands of kilometers from home, get up to at night?
Getting back to my post: bringing new meaning to the term “markets for everything” : two completely made up clowns were strolling through the Ottawa Ikea this past Sunday afternoon.
That’s them at the checkout line.
There’s a lot of symmetry between the colours found at Ikea and on a clown, don’t you think?
[tags] clowns, Ikea, market for everything [/tags]
March 10, 2007 by Colin
Trilling, by Catherine Ross. “Trilling recombines footage from the early 80s sitcom “Three’s Company” into a sequence of travelling gestural loops. Trumpeter Taylor Haskins collaborated on the audio track, creating a unique improvisational response to each clip.” I also like the older “Waiting Work.” (via David Byrne)
“I got into a fight at the Marina Safeway” … with Orville Reddenbacher. (the comments are even better than the self-centred rant)
Stanford swim coach punishes swimmers who have fallen out of favour with him … by deleting their achievements from the Stanford media guide?
By the way, the hour-long discussion between Russell Davies, Richard Huntington and Mark Earls – all reknown account planners – is well worth the time.
March 9, 2007 by Colin
Hey. Aren’t you tired of writing the same boring, careful, formulaic sets of questions of answers? Have to prepare for an upcoming news conference? Better grind through a set of dirty Qs & As to steel the execs. Building a new web site? Better whip out some ready FAQs to lead the blind and unwilling.
I often find writing questions and answers very dull work (except for the occasional thrill of inserting a question I know my clients will either find impossible or impossibly uncomfortable to answer).
That’s why I grabbed “I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews” off the library shelf this week. Warhol’s approach to the utilitarian question and answer session could swing from barely responsive to creatively destructive: he would break out of the boundaries of the interview – often by drawing other members of his Factory group into the conversation, or by consciously undermining the implied authority of the interviewer by producing his own microphone and tape recorder.
There are many well-known quotes from his interviews. I’ve pulled from two pieces in the book: I may pull out more as I work through it.
Warhol on the routine of the interview genre:
“Interviews are like sitting in those Ford machines at the World’s Fair that toured you around while someone spoke a commentary; I always feel that my words are coming from behind me, not from me. The interviewer should just tell me the words he wants me to say and I’ll repeat them after him. I think that would be so great because I’m so empty I just can’t think of anything to say.” (“Andy Warhol:My True Story”, by Gretchen Berg)
Warhol, being interviewed interviewed by Tape Recording magazine, on his first impressions after using the new video recording technology:
Tape Recording (TR): How will video tape affect home movies?
Warhol: It will replace home movies …
TR: Have you recorded from a television set with the video recorder?
Warhol: Yes. This is so great. We’ve done it both direct and form the screen. Even the pictures from the screen are terrific …
TR: What else can people do with their home video recorders?
Warhol: Make the best pornography movies. It’s going to be so great.
TR: You think Mr. and Mrs. America will …
Warhol: Yes. And they’ll have their friends in to show them.
TR: Any other things you like about the video recorder?
Warhol: Oh, yes. You can spy on people with it, too. I believe in television. It’s going to take over from movies. … (“Pop Goes the Videotape: an Underground Interview with Andy Warhol,” by Richard Ekstract)
[tags] interview, Warhol, Gretchen Berg, question and answer, Q&A [/tags]
March 8, 2007 by Colin
British Home Secretary John Reid is defending the government’s plan to crack down on illegal immigrants, including those who have overstayed their visa. One innovation to be implemented is sending reminders by text message to people who fail to renew their visa – or choose to ignore its expiry.
“… The measures outlined include plans for stopping people overstaying their visas by sending text message reminders to their mobile phones. A three-month pilot scheme of the idea is due to begin next month. (Independent)
via Jeremy Wagstaff
March 7, 2007 by Colin
Political criticism via YouTube – “In the Navy” recut to criticize Peter Debnam and the New South Wales Liberal party. Unattributed, but apparently produced by the National Union of Workers. Not nearly as funny as “Peter Debnam’s Crazy Civil Service Sale,” produced by the Public Service Association.
Here’s a political scandal that could be branded “Canadian Style” – except that it’s causing problems over in New York State – the Lobbying Commissioner was caught taking most of his office to an afternoon session of curling, then demanding to know who tipped off the TV cameras that showed up. And no, that isn’t a euphemism for anything. So stay away from my rocks, and keep outta my house!
“I am Ninja” theme song, extended version, as performed by the Neu Tickles on MySpace. Funny, entertaining, and the lead singer looks like a seedy Ben Stiller impersonator.
For some reason, I feel a real affinity for account planners. Maybe it’s my daytime role as a communications advisor to government policy shops. That’s why I like this promo reel for the IPA Effectiveness Awards 2007 via Organic Frog and Serendipity Books.
“Andrew was born, with a planet-sized brain …from an early age, he realized he wasn’t the same … when all the other kids played robbers and cops, he busied himself researching trends … the career’s advice ‘become an advertising planner, you’d be good at it!” … the planner with the planet-sized brain, take the complicated and make it plain, … he intellectualizes, for clients of all sizes …“
March 7, 2007 by Colin
What are we talking about? Blogs? I present quotes taken out of context:
“How do you think your work differs from traditional journalism? We’re taking the tools of journalism and applying them to people whom you wouldn’t normally apply them to — people who aren’t famous, people who aren’t powerful, people just like you and me.
What are you talking about? Journalism has always had human-interest stories. But a newspaper probably wouldn’t run an article where a cop remembers one weird incident with a squirrel when he was a rookie. That’s too far from any kind of normal news hook.
What’s so great about flashbacks to encounters with squirrels? We’re documenting things with no particularly uplifting social mission. The mission is that of an ambitious novel or movie: to point out universal feelings and moments.
Do you write fiction? I didn’t have any particular talent for fiction. I took a class in college.
Do you read fiction? No. No. No. No. I don’t know how to read. I get all my news from Jon Stewart everyday.
from: “Questions for Ira Glass, New York Times Magazine.” Talking about his NPR radio show, “This American Life.”
March 5, 2007 by Colin
Hey folks. Know what I’ve noticed? Bloggers are most likely to post a critical word or a sarcastic riposte under two conditions:
- a big company with a global brand identity
- a person or company far, far away from your keyboard.
Either way, a blogger minimizes his/her chance of confrontation.
Sure, there are plenty of exceptions. There are some global brands who respond positively to criticism. And there are bloggers who concentrate on local subjects.
But sometimes, the biggest target is the easiest target. And if you swim with the pack, the chances of being singled out are much smaller.
[tags] bloggers are wimps, blog authority, criticism [/tags]
March 5, 2007 by Colin
Social media (and apparently poor customer service) bites local company in the ass. Back in November, I wrote a positive post about the lawn signage put up by a local snowblowing company, Tony’s Snowblowing. (Pimp my (Snowblower) Ride).
Judging from the negative comments piling up on that post, and elsewhere, the company has bitten off more than it can chew. (The CBC has reported on it as well) I haven’t posted on the comments before because I don’t have any first hand knowledge of the problem (it’s been a very light winter for snow, and I own a shovel).
Today, however, the trolls started appearing (here and here). If the comments are accurate there’s a sketchy record of customer service up to this point, and now Tony’s Snowblowing seems to be trying to defuse some of the criticism by planting phony praise.
What a pity. Obviously some disgruntled customers are getting used to visiting my post to vent. Why do the spokestrolls for the company insist on posting garbage? Why not actually try to address some of the problems honestly?
(and the CBC news story is the first hit for “snow blowing” on YouTube.)
[tags] snow blowing, snowblowing, ottawa [/tags]
March 3, 2007 by Colin
Dunkin vs. Starbucks. Coffee vs. Latte. Lee Dungarees vs. Seven for all Mankind. PC vs. Mac. HHG2G vs. Bill and Ted. Carhartt vs. Patagonia. NexTel vs. WiFi.
The Boston Phoenix rolls out a very rough sociological analysis to explain the fierce appeal of Dunkin’ Donuts in the NorthEast U.S., and supports it with insightful and amusing quotes. All in “Choosing Our Religion: how one little post-war doughnut shop became synonymous with Boston’s identity.”
“On the other hand, Dunkin’ sometimes seems to keep certain, perhaps more culturally loaded aspects of itself under wraps — or at least keep them understated. “All of Dunkin’ Donuts espresso drinks are fair-trade coffee,” Simon points out. “But all they do is put a little circle [fair trade symbol] on the door.” It’s as if they want to do the right thing, he says, but also know that “their customers don’t like all that value-added shit.”
In the end, after all, “this is about perception. McDonalds is trying to compete against Starbucks — going wireless, putting fireplaces in — but Dunkin’ is realizing they can position themselves differently,” says Simon. He asked one Dunkin’ higher-up if there were plans in place to add Wi-Fi. “No, he said, because the last thing he wants is guys in trucks, getting their coffee, to walk in and have no place to sit because there’s a bunch of people in ties banging away on their laptops.”
Meanwhile, Kevin at Strategic Public Relations is handing out a lot of link love while suggesting how the “Starbucks as Storyteller” brand attribute can be strengthened.
I’ve referred to Dunkin Donuts before:
And if you want to go old school, I commented on how Tim Hortons handled their media relations on my old Blogspot site.
[tags] Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Boston culture, other place, third place [/tags]
March 2, 2007 by Colin
Aspirational. There’s a word you usually don’t hear Wal-Mart throwing around when referring to its client base. Sure, they’ve made attempts lately to market more upscale clothing – but didn’t Wal-Mart boot to the road one of the marketing execs charged with chasing this demographic?
Apparently, a year of intensive research has helped the company focus on three essential customer archetypes:
“There are “brand aspirationals” (people with low incomes who are obsessed with names like KitchenAid), “price-sensitive affluents” (wealthier shoppers who love deals), and “value-price shoppers” (who like low prices and cannot afford much more).” (NYTimes)
“Value-price shoppers” – that’s a nice analogy for the working poor. Reminds me of Chris Rock’s comments about minimum wage:
“Before I started comedy, I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, “Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.”
Now minimum wage used to come up to about $200 a week and then they’d take out $50 in taxes. That’s alot of money if you’re only making $200 a week. That’s kinda like kicking Monday and Tuesday in the ass.”
You can always count on independent community newspapers to thumb their noses at corporate America. This time, it’s the Cleveland Scene, with a snotty and sarcastic commentary on Wal-Mart’s commitment to the a development in the city. “The Devil Wears Wal-Mart: America’s favorite welfare queen cranks up the PR“:
“People of the metropolis tend to have more finely tuned bullshit detectors. While our country cousins saw lovable hillbillies, we saw prehistoric goobers who went sphincter on paychecks and health plans, and violated pretty much every civil rights and labor law they could find.”
[tags] Wal-Mart, consumer research, aspirational [/tags]