June 28, 2007 by Colin
Take one sophisticated computer model capable of predicting individual behaviour in a variety of urban settings. Add a large consumer or retail corporation interested in maximizing their in-store marketing efforts.
You can just predict the co-opting of an extremely sophisticated urban planning tool.
Not that this scenario has happened yet. Paul Torrens, an assistant professor at Arizona State University, has received a multi-year National Science Foundation grant to:
“…develop a reusable and behaviorally founded computer model of pedestrian movement and crowd behavior amid dense urban environments, to serve as a test-bed for experimentation,” says Torrens. “The idea is to use the model to test hypotheses, real-world plans and strategies that are not very easy, or are impossible to test in practice.” (ASU news release)
Once the academics have done all the heavy lifting, I can easily see commercial applications:
- modeling traffic flows at trade shows
- evaluating the efficiency of urban and suburban guerrilla marketing campaigns
- testing category placement at grocery stores
- maximizing the placement of shopping centre info booths
- calculating the maximum tolerable distance between airport departure gates
Pruned has suggested some other applications:
- simulate how a crowd flees from a burning car toward a single evacuation point;
- see how the existing urban grid facilitate or does not facilitate mass evacuation prior to a hurricane landfall or in the event of dirty bomb detonation; or
- design a mall which can compel customers to shop to the point of bankruptcy, to walk obliviously for miles and miles and miles, endlessly to the point of physical exhaustion and even death.
In practical terms, I wonder how much of this new modeling the folks at Disney theme parks will review and say “knew that. knew that. that’s not a surprise!”
Personally, I would like to see the results from one of the professor’s other projects:
pointer from CityofSound
[tags] traffic flow, urban design, patterning, shopping habits [/tags]
June 20, 2007 by Colin
From The Friendly Ghost, a lesson that a truly prepared guest can counter an aggressive interviewer. An interview between Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys and Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, sputtered for a moment when the diplomat supported his arguments with fresh reporting from the BBC’s own website:
“…A short way into the piece, with Humphrys trying his best to put him off his stride, my ears pricked up because Cowper-Coles suddenly said “You only to have to see your own website this morning where quoted on it is an Afghan villager on a superb feature on the BBC website saying the Taliban is the biggest threat to the future of Afghanistan.”
“That’s brilliant,” I thought. “He’s saying ‘this is what you’re broadcasting on your own site – and I’ve been prepared enough to read it. I’m using your own techniques against you.’”
Cowper-Coles arrived for the interview with facts and personal anecdotes to support his position. This sort of preparation should be second nature for any communications specialist and spokesperson – and will help prepare them for any tense or confrontational moments during an interview.
The audio is on the BBC site – and his quote is right up front.
June 16, 2007 by Colin
Most advertising and advocacy work developed for animal shelters plays on sympathetic pictures of abandoned pets.
Their new campaign focuses on the benefits of animal adoption for humans: stress reduction, a sense of play, change in lifestyle, and personal health. And a substantial dollop of whimsy.
Three more ads can be found on the Leo Burnett blog.
[tags] Toronto Humane Society, animal adoption, advocacy, not for profit [/tags]
June 11, 2007 by Colin
Leigh Householder (AdverGirl) has some clear advice for a new account executive, including Eleven Unbreakable Rules for AEs and a Be A Better AE Cheat Sheet.
[tags] AdverGirl, account executive, advertising agency [/tags]
May 28, 2007 by Colin
Kevin Dugan‘s prepared a video on vending machines as a growing sales channel for more than just snack foods. To me, it seems that the sheer bulk and impersonality of vending machines will continue to block their popularity.
Debit and credit technology have advanced, but vending machines in North America continue to be a large and imposing waste of precious retail space. Even more importantly, North Americans always want the option to wheedle, deal or complain with a retailer – unlike in Japan, where vending machines are ubiquitous:
“…Vending machines spread in Japan because of people’s demand for automation,” said Takashi Kurosaki, director-general of Japanese Vending Machine Manufacturers Association. “Leaving aside the issue of whether this is good or bad, people clearly want to purchase things without having to talk to others.” (Japan Times)
Here’s a good place to put two or three paragraphs of detailed text – the strap hangers on subways. Right in your face, and easy to read.
“Facebook is the Microsoft Office of social apps. In other words, none of the apps are particularly good — photo sharing, status updates, personal pages, events, groups, etc. — let alone being as good as their standalone counterparts — Flickr, Twittr, Typepad/Wordpress, Google Group, etc. — but most people don’t care. They just want their social software all in one place, all from the same interface, and then they want to move on and get their (social/presence) work done.”
Cover design at Penguin Books: David Pelham, the man behind the cover for Penguin’s print of A Clockwork Orange, discusses the cover design of a number of Penguin paperbacks. More writing by a number of other Penguin designers can be found in the specialist book Penguin by Designers.
[tags] vending machines, automated, strap hangers, straphangers, Facebook, Penguin, cover design [/tags]
May 3, 2007 by Colin
A handful of looks at urban text:
- Paul Shaw’s record of found typography across New York City. (New York Times)
- The hand drawn signs of the taquerias on Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn (Village Voice)
- New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual (1970) from Triborough
- joeclark’s amonthofsubways flickr set: a picture a day of signs in the Toronto Subway
- Chinatown rooftop colours from Joe’s nyc.
- London: A Life in Maps from the British Library
April 22, 2007 by Colin
- Selling cell phones to eight year olds. Burn in hell, over-reaching capitalists! An imaginary conversation between a father and his 17 year-old son: “You see, son, back when you were eight, we signed you up for a family plan with lifetime free texting. Lifetime. With the same company. You’re contractually obligated to stay with the same provider for the rest of your life.”
- Toronto is outrageously represented on Facebook, and Sean throws out a challenge: “and for Torontonians…. I now officially proclaim, if you have not joined Facebook by the April 22, 2007 and live in Toronto, you are offically part of the mainstream, well on your way to dancing the Macarena, listening to Barry Manilow and still wondering why the old Canadian Tire spokesguy isn’t on TV anymore.“
- There are some very naughty intersections in New York. “What’s long and hard and full of …?”
- A video showing the “corridor of social awkwardness” in the CBC headquarters in Toronto. “It’s so long, that when you see some one coming the other way, you don’t know when to wave, say hello or give one of those man nods.”
- And the billboards start coming down in Sao Paolo. Brett questions whether urban spam is actually a problem at all. To me, advertising is a necessary part of business. I can understand why cities like Sao Paolo would feel overwhelmed by corporate messaging – and how this could become even more overbearing with the growth of digital billboards and projected messaging. On a local level, though, advertising is more of a form of personal expression, tailored to the market and the consumer. Which makes wholesale bans stupid. And damaging for small business.
April 21, 2007 by Colin
In North America, agencies can disappear quickly. No matter the reason for their closure, a similar pattern is followed:
- booze, pens and paper are liberated
- agency name is retired, reassigned or merged within the umbrella ownership group
- creative and uncreative employees drift with the wind and the latest multi-million dollar review
- leased fax, photocopier and computers are returned
- even the cubicles are shipped back to some suburban warehouse
- after months of searching, the landlord finds a new tenant
- interior walls, plugs and lights are moved to meet the needs of the new tenant
The only things left behind are toilets, elevators and attractive brick walls.
That’s the price of working in a world dominated by curtain-walled buildings.
In the Old World, an old agency office can live on. Noisy Decent Graphics’ Ben describes his visit to a hair stylists’ – and was once a pharma advertising shop:
“…Through that door, top left used to be the photocopier and where the nail varnish type stuff is used to sit the fax machine.
It was very odd going back. So many memories, so many visual memories smashed by CH’s architect. The place looks really nice, by the way.”
There’s a quote in Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again that applies to both commercial office properties and advertisers:
“… she had slept with everybody. . . but she has never been promiscuous …”
April 10, 2007 by Colin
Why does everyone call themselves a strategist nowadays?
“Just for laughs, when someone claims to be a strategist, you could ask them which tradition of strategy they represent. Economic? Then ask them to define a Nash equilibrium and see how they feel about Cournot vs. Bertrand models. Military? Then ask them about Clausewitz or John Boyd or Edward Luttwak. You can do the same thing with sports, chess, marketing, or any other domain they claim that has a tradition of strategic analysis. …
As a rule, I am opposed to credentialism, especially in ill-defined areas such as strategy. In fact, there really is no body of knowledge whose possesiion truly entitles one to claim “I am a strategist” or whose lack bars that claim. But it sounds like people are pretending that such a credential exists and then further pretending that they possess it. For a modest fee I’d happily prick that double-bubble.”
Ouch, I have two degrees in International Relations and consider myself well-educated in the areas of military and economic strategy – and I don’t think I could meet Steve’s standard.
Grant, naturally, digs into the question in a separate post. He rightly points out that many marketers, communicators and other of our ilk claim strategic skill and strategic insight – despite having no education in the field or demonstrable experience as a strategist.
“And then the question is, why should this rhetorical misbehavior be necessary? I am quite sure that other professionals do not suffer the temptation. Lawyers, doctors, civil servants…they don’t use the term. (“What kind of medicine do I practice? Oh, I do strategic medicine, you see. I don’t just identify symptoms. I think about them.”)No, the buzz word abuse that Leora spotted is a symptom. The field of marketing and the fact that it is not in fact a profession at all …
Without sorting, we are reduced to making boosterish, self aggrandizing claims, dressing ourselves up in the dignity of someone else’s language.
It’s not clear how we solve this problem. I agree with Steve that certification (or credentialism, as he calls it) is probably impractical. Reputation helps of course. It would help even more if those of us in branding circles had the depths of knowledge that distinguish the McKinsey consultant.”
Of course, the trend towards ostentatious titles may be a lingering backlash against the more outrageous job descriptions adopted during the late 90′s tech boom. After all, once you’ve lost hundreds of millions of dollars, you’re less likely to place your faith in:
- the Chief Dog Walker
- Founder without Title
- the Head Dreamer
- Spiritual Co-Creator
- Creative Imaginatist
[tags] Strategic , Strategic Communciations, Strategic thinker, credentialism [/tags]
April 10, 2007 by Colin
Okay! I’m in too!. I’ve volunteered to write a chapter – okay, a one page note – on how government communicators will have to adjust to dealing with the the members and issues embodied by new online networks and affinity groups for the new e-book being corralled by Gavin Heaton and Drew Mclellan:
… And out of that blogging conversation and a few e-mails, Gavin & I concocted the idea for an e-book about this new era of communications we’ve all entered together. But not just any book. It has to be a quick book. Exciting. Sharp. Inclusive. It had to be a book about community and conversation that came from that community and spoke the same vernacular. The title — The Conversation Age.
And that is why we are talking to you. Our idea:
- 100 authors. We’re a few but need more.
- The overriding topic is “The Conversation Age” — where you take it is up to you.
- The items are short – one 8.5″ x 11″ page — it can be words, diagrams, photos (again up to you) If it is words – about 400, give or take a couple.
- We write it quickly and get it out there. We publish electronically.
- We make it available online for a small fee and we donate 100% of the proceeds to Variety the Children’s Charity — which serves children across the entire globe.
If you’d like to write a chapter, here’s what you need to do. E-mail Drew with a commitment and a focus/topic that will fit under Conversation Age (first in gets to choose) by April 11th. Drew will going to keep the master list so we keep the content from getting too overlapped.
Your chapter will be due April 30th.
The initial authors included the people below. I’m sure the list has grown since then.
Roger von Oech
[tags] The Conversation Age, e-book [/tags]
April 9, 2007 by Colin
David Armano has been building out an argument for the role of a “community architect” at his Logic + Emotion blog. BusinessWeek has given him a chance to speak to a more general audience this week, and many of Armano’s clear and informative graphics accompany the piece.
The image above is taken from a presentation, Emerging Media’s Impact on the Customer Experience, that Armano prepared for a MarketingProfs webinar last week.
Bob Glaza posted some observations after participating in the webinar:
“The obvious – and foremost – thing for us to remember is we serve people. Whatever our vocation, calling, job, gig – call it what you will – if we are not putting people first – it won’t work. We might call them customer, consumers, readers…but cut to the chase…and its people. And people want good experiences. Part of a good experience is good design. In order to help create good experiences, we need to be good designers. Design is not about making something look good – thought that is part of it – but its more about creating an experience that is pleasurable. “
While Glaza was referring to marketers and more consumer-oriented marketers, his comments apply equally well to the role of government communicators.
As well, Armano’s emphasis on conversation architects, instead of conversation managers, points to a weakness of many of the plans developed by government communicators: a belief that we can manage a conversation at all. Or even manage the environment around messaging and interaction with our stakeholders.
As I’m finishing this post, I’ve realized that Armano’s The End of Thought of Leadership, posted today, provides a perfect capstone to this observation:
“In the conversation economy, dialogue rules. Monologue, and rehearsed presentations play second fiddle. An academic or corporate pedigree is nice—but really doesn’t matter. If you have something valuable to say and you are willing to listen, share and participate—then you have the opportunity to “submit” your ideas and be heard.
These are the new rules of the conversation age, or economy or whatever you want to call it. This is why, if you have adverse reactions when you hear strange words like “blogging” or “twittering”—then you are a fool. I’m sorry but it’s true. I’m not saying that we should all jump on the bandwagon of the latest buzzword or technology that gets thrown out there. I’m actually saying the opposite. We need to investigate the latest tools to the best of our abilities and decide how they impact our own worlds. The blogging movement was never about blogging in the first place—it’s about a new way to share, connect, collaborate, discuss, debate, and ideate.” (Logic + Emotion)
Our challenge is to learn how to play within both this traditional model and as participants in a newer, looser, more reactive online environment. We’re no longer the refs in the conversation game: we’re not even linesmen. We either learn how to dribble, pass, lateral or shoot – or we go home.
[tags] conversation architect [/tags]
(Crossposted to SoSaidThe.Org)
April 6, 2007 by Colin
While it’s true that advertising cultures change (sometimes drastically) from country to country, it’s important to note that the British advertising industry feels sufficiently slammed by consumer advocates to launch an online petition to battle back against accusations that advertising is the source of all evil.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
Still, we would do well as advertisers, marketers and public relations experts to pay attention to the backlash building in many markets in Europe and North America. Even as technology and careful planning allow us to target markets more effectively, consumers, watchdogs and governments are focusing on the community-wide impacts of consumer marketing. (think kid’s snacks = fat kids)
Campaign magazine has come out swinging, hosting an online campaign calling on British ad types to speak out against increasing restrictions imposed on the industry.
There is a manifesto associated with the campaign, and it attempts to take a punch at all sorts of perceived opponents:
‘We’ve become complacent about single-issue consumer activists,’ an industry lobbyist claims. ‘They get listened to sympathetically, and what they say is often taken as gospel, without any proper investigation of their claims.’ …
‘The Government’s attitude is schizophrenic,’ [Hamish Pringle, Director General of the IPA] declares. ‘It says it supports the creative industries, which it hails as the saviour of UK Plc, while it continues to bash us.’ …
‘Just listen to Caroline Flint, the public health minister,’ one industry leader says. ‘She already talks as if she thinks she can tell us what to do.’ …
[Peta Buscombe, chief executive of the Advertising Association] says the key challenge is for the industry to reclaim control of the agenda and to show not only how important it is to the economy, but also how self- restrained and responsible it is. The rigour applied to devising advertising codes would put many Parliamentary law-makers to shame, she declares. … (Campaign)
I have three comments about the petition campaign:
- As I mentioned above, there is a lengthy manifesto/article associated with the campaign – but it is NOT linked to the actual petition site. There’s a risk that petition signers may not understand the breadth of ideas or positions that could be interpreted by their association with these two documents.
- It works outside the electronic petition process established by the British Government, which can be found at petitions.pm.gov.uk. Campaign has provided a separate comment stream for questions, and one questioner wonders aloud whether the government will even accept an electronic petition in an unconventional format.
- For an online process, there’s a remarkable lack of promotional material to help practitioners drive traffic to the petition. Actually, there’s only that one image I’ve used.
I’ll leave the larger issue of, you know, blaming the messenger for another day. God forbid any parent assumes responsibility for the actions of their children, or any consumer make a conscious decision about their purchasing habits.
[tags] Campaign magazine, Haymarket, Action for Ads, IPA [/tags]
April 4, 2007 by Colin
It’s engaging. It’s got a Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney feel to it. It has family cast of characters like Meet the Robinsons. It includes an online board game, but with some well drawn and engaging interactive components.
Unfortunately, it loads really slowly. Really slowly! Like molasses in winter slow. Like week-old gluten-free bread moving through the digestive tract of a forty-five year-old vegetarian slow. Like headache pills on Ash Wednesday in New Orleans slow. Like Twitter during the closing hours of SXSW slow! Like DMV lines when you’ve just bought a new Mustang slow!
That wouldn’t be much of a problem – but that each phase of the game requires a separate download.
(and yes, I DO have broadband, thankyouverymuch!)
On the other hand, the island and Milkatraz Island portrayed in the game seem to draw from the inspiration of Japanese model train afficionados. (examples here, here and here) Oh – and French model train afficionados as well.
[tags] Get the Glass, Milk, Goodby SilverStein & Partners, CMPB [/tags]
April 2, 2007 by Colin
- Let me say – I like the interview. Ask A Ninja actually interviews Will Ferrell and Jon Heder about their new movie, the apparently sucky Blades of Glory. There’s something weird about seeing the Ninja on a promotional tour, sitting in an anonymous hotel room backed by a movie poster, but the exchanges between Ninja and the stars are funny. “I look forward to killing you soon.” “I’m not looking forward to that!” Make sure to wait for the Scott Hamilton easter egg at the end of the video.
- Imagine, if you will, a mash-up between the Will It Blend? and the Subservient Chicken. Kohler offers up a flash ad where you can direct a young lady (dressed like a plumber) to flush various items down the toilet.
[tags] Ninja, Kohler, viral video, flush [/tags]
April 2, 2007 by Colin
When you speak to the other 90% of the world that barely understands the concept of social media, is your rhetoric more Anthony Robbins or Rush Limbaugh? In your pitches, are the benefits of social media innovation balanced against the potential risks to corporate information?
As corporate consultancies begin to play in the arena, this type of analysis will become more prevalent. And it will sway corporate decision makers without the appropriate level of preparation by social media evangelists.
For example, Clearswift recently conducted surveys in Britain and the United States to examine use of social media and “Web 2.0? sites in the workplace. Their news release highlighted the term “data leakage,” and the U.S. news release emphasized that the “Growing popularity of Web 2.0 sites put corporate information at risk and drains productivity.”
The data points being fed to corporate clients, as a result, emphasize three points:
- without a plan to deal with social media use, corporations risk the loss of valuable corporate information, either intentionally or inadvertently;
- employees, especially the younger generation, are already online A LOT during work hours; and
- use of “Web 2.0″ sites can significantly affect productivity in the workplace.
Key to these arguments are two separate sets of findings:
- 46 percent of office workers have discussed work-related issues on social media websites;
- 71 percent of office workers use Web-based email at work for personal reasons;
- 42 per cent of office workers aged 18-29 have discussed work-related issues on social media websites
- 59 per cent of office workers aged 18-29 believed that employees should be entitled to access Web 2.0 Internet content from their work computer for personal reasons, compared to 38 per cent of employees aged 30+.
It’s hard to compare the two sets of surveys, as their methodology is different in each country. Still, the results are similar and reinforce the message being driven by Clearswift:
“More than half of the people we surveyed feel that they are entitled to access the Internet and social media sites at work, and 27 percent of them work at organizations that don’t have an acceptable use policy or don’t know if one exists,” added Ian Bowles. “We have become way too casual with the Internet; this despite the propagation of viruses, bugs, spam and scams that plague the Internet and can harm an organization. We urge businesses to take a sensible approach to the risks posed by the Internet and social media sites.”
As a social media evangelist, what’s your prophylactic response to all these viruses and icky web dwellers? What materials have you prepared to relieve executive concerns and help push adoption on a corporate level?