May 21, 2008

iCitizen Wrapup from Columbus

iCitizen Video from Mark Hillman on Vimeo.

Day 2 of iCitizen kicked off with a slightly homespun look at what exactly we've gotten ourselves into here!? Check out Mark's video of an apparent 'conference crasher' trying to take it all in above.

Casual chats with hosts of the social media cafe (featuring lattes and laptops loaded with dummy accounts and personal tours of all the hottest social apps) reminded us just how new all this really is: Digital-savvy marketers had been sneaking out mid-presentation during Day 1 to ask just what the presenters and audience were talking about. What is Twitter? Lemonade? Kaboodle? And, importantly, can I check my email before I go back in??

2508638766_263b52c75c_2 Over in the blogger bailiwick*, Holly, Karen, David and I were doing about what you'd expect: taking ourselves too seriously, engaging in a little snark, and representing real iCitizens amongst all the talk about people like us...

See pics from iCitizen
Read Karen's live blog
See the Twitter stream

(*gross misuse of a word for the sake of alliteration)

Onto coverage of today's presenters:

Doc Searls—Harvard Fellow at the Berkman Center, Coauthor, The Cluetrain Manifesto

Jump back 5 years. If around that time, someone had started talking about carrying all your music, pictures, and movies on a device that both fit in your pocket and worked as a cell phone, limited-use computer and general personal planner.... well, that person would probably have received a similar response to what Doc Searls got at iCitizen today: sounds intriguing, but what, what?

Doc talked about "vendor relationship manangement." It's what's needed when the "attention economy" makes a decision to act or buy and - thus - becomes the "intention economy." And, has something to do with using your data & personal and logical preferences to define rather than accommodate how you'll buy / share your information / relate to the companies you do business with. Everything from owning your own healthcare data to setting your own privacy expectations to pre-defining how much you'll pay for the exact thing that you really want.

I mentioned the response to a theoretical iPhone 5 years ago because what hangs in the balance for Doc's theory is what "thing" will make his idea concrete and easy vs. wildly theoretical and seeming like a massive-new-responsibility-and-time-investment-this-convenience-girl- wants-nothing-in-the-world-to-do-with.

Check out Andrea's coverage for more background.


  • Doc calls Web "the Net." Love the anachronisms when digital adopters talk 'what's coming'

  • Doc talks about approach - "we list all the things we think are true that no one's talking about" So us.

  • Key driver of open source, not just anyone can create and use, but anyone can IMPROVE IT.

  • Attention economy has evolved to intention economy on the live Web ... what you get when a customers mind is made up.

  • Attention economy until point of decision then intention economy. Using car rental as example of industry without intention.

  • What could car rental do if it knew customer intention. If it stopped "trap and hold" tactics like "car you want or similar"

  • Want to express logical and personal preferences, like no ads when calling tech support or will pay for faster service

  • Doc's point seems to be: smartest people about the right experience are your customers, not your employees or competitiros.

  • Doc pokes at a big box retailer for saying they want to "own the customer." Another term for owning humans? Slavery. Why do we talk that way? Because we're too busy talking to ourselves and not our customers.

  • Doc must be part of RenGen. So far referenced Rousseau, Whitman, Marx ... waiting for the test at this point

  • Doc unfinished biz of Cluetrain is Vendor Relationship Mgt - control by customers who are in free markets & engaging with vendors

  • VRM is not necessarily social because social makes assumption we have power in numbers. We have power as individuals, not from vendors who want to leverage our mass.

  • In identity world, cards /prices/ rels not issued to you. You issue your own card / intention / "RFP"

  • Doc's VRM sounds way hard. I don't want to manage my relationship with Target or write a RFP for a blender. I don't have an acquisition dept.

  • In simplest form, Doc's ideas seem like convenience of Canada's Airmiles. - all data in one place for one purpose / reward

  • Bigger than that Doc's approach seems so high engagement and limited in audience ... but says something will come along to make it simple

  • Kind of scares me that I can't get on board with this. Newest ideas coming from oldest guy in room. 30-somethings snarking.

Doc is joined by a panel talking about personal data portability:

Rooley Eliezerov—President and Cofounder, Gigya
Bill Washburn—Executive Director, Open ID
Kelly O'Neill—Commerce Product Marketing Director, ATG


  • Aside: Can I say how impressed I am by how many women are speaking at iCitizen? Largely due to Resource's leaders, but clients, too

  • Reality check from   Kelly: It's important to understand your purchase process and how much engagement / consideration / relationship it will support

  • Bill: OpenID is a movement that comes out of the idea that there's far too much pain around user name / password pairs.

  • Bill: OpenID can also potentially insure that you're not a machine / spam, creates access

  • Bill: Bigger issue than people who don't have access to the Internet is people who choose not to access. They think of it as just a big arcade. We need to build trust.

  • Doc: Any attempt to regulate things we don't understand is dangerous

  • Cool Deborah Schultz just showed up with a powerstrip and a laptop. Love the community power share.

Panel: Have Phone, Will Travel Panel
John Harrobin—SVP of Marketing and Digital Media, Verizon
Will Hodgman—CEO, M:Metrics
Riccardo Spina—Senior Director of Digital Media, Integrated Marketing, Wal-Mart

After the fact, I noticed that there had been no discussion of proximity SMS marketing among this group... would have been interesting to talk about that sort of push / experience content in terms of iCitizen engagement.


  • John launched cellfire. Waiting for that channel to get big. But, might not work wth expectations retail has for coupons (they assume medium impressions, low redemption ... what happens to the bottom line when coupons get convenient?)

  • Wal-Mart guy is unexpectedly chic. Great lime-rimmed glasses and matching polo. Stripey socks? Of course. (Direct tweet revealed: he's a former Resource creative director ... no wonder the on-brand gear)

  • Will says used to buy "FSIs and yidda-yadda, hooda-hooda." Reeeeeally?

  • Riccardo talking about Wal-Mart secret item holiday event. Tested before, on, after Black Friday. Clues via text.

  • Riccardo: Mobile initiative ran under radar until WSJ picked it up then a little top-down panic about what did we do?

  • Riccardo: People find what they need

  • John: Think about text messaging. You only have 160 characters. Have to triple tap to get a letter. And you have to pay for it. If you were to put that through any market research industry, they would say that would never succeed. Today our customers exchange 150 billion messages a year. People tried it and we made it addictive.

Listening to Riccardo reminds me to get back to the argument that, for retailers, you don't have to wait to adopt technology until it's ubiquitous. Tools (like RSS, text) don't have to be for EVERYONE. Rather, they cost-effectively reach people already using them and build relevancy and personalization.

Avinash Kaushik—Analytics Evangelist, Google

Avinash talked about metrics beyond / before the purchase. Calls them "microconversions" - all those valuable behaviors consumers exhibit - and that we should support and track - that aren't buying.

He's one of those presenters who makes everyone giggle and poke their neighbor and generally remember the clever phrasings as much as the content. So, if this Twittering isn't as meaty, don't count it against the presenter, attribute it to my general tendency toward shiny object syndrome.


  • Avinash calls online marketing faith-based behavior. Because we have all this data, but don’t understand the ‘whys’

  • Google analytics uses indexes and visual intelligence ... clarity without "thinking"

  • Online buying isn't "one night stand" - takes 3, 4, more visits to make a purchase

  • Just takes fundemental Qs to uncover insights
    • Why are you here

    • Were you able to complete task you came here to do

    • If not, why not?

  • Example: a pharma site had 90% bounce rate. The call to action and content was perfectly aimed at "buy." But the actual reason people visited was research: where is the product made, how much does it cost, etc. They bounced because they couldn't find what they wanted

  • Most decisions made by HIPPOs – highest paid person's opinion. Furthest removed from customer

  • All the tools I showed you today are free. The insignts have to come from you.

  • Personalization is identifying insights and needs among microsegments

Last panel: Who Keeps Moving the Goalpost? Identifying relevant metrics...
Dr. Robert Leone—Professor, Texas Christian University
Pete Blackshaw—CMO, Nielsen Online
Steve Kahn—VP of Internet Marketing, DSW
Paul Horstmeier—VP of, Hewlett-Packard


  • Paul: I've seen metrics so abused by marketers; I think we do ourselves a huge disservice

  • Surprised to hear from retailers that there are people in their organizations who should want online metrics, but don't. Isn't retail addicted to numbers of just about any kind?

  • Paul: Challenge is metrics to analytics to consulting. Translate it to something stakeholders would care about. Relevance.

  • Dr Bob: Social media is silver bullet. Something in all the metrics talk made me miss what we're shooting...

  • Dr Bob: Every media writer has a cheat sheet of bloggers they use to inform coverage. Creates echoing effect. How do all connect?

To wrapup:

Thank you to Holly, Nancy, Kelly and the whole Resource crew for doing / showing (not just telling) by including real iCitizens in the conference. For me, it was a great opportunity to be in a room with savvy marketers from truly ubiquitous consumer brands who get that this "social media" phenom has reached critical mass and is an essential part of reputation management and marketing (not just the stuff of "geeks".)

Oh, and can I say - AWESOME how many people read and recognize Advergirl. Who knew everyone from the team at Resource to an exec at Coke would haunt these pages? Love that!

Finally, in closing, I can only say one thing: let's all please come together and find examples of iCitizen impact BEYOND JEFF JARVIS! David Griner got Jarvis Bingo today when he was the first to hear the FOURTH speaker lean on the Dell Hell story.

Advergirl out.

May 20, 2008

iCitizen: Call to open your brand

I camped out on a sideline couch today at Resource Interactive's iCitizen symposium with Holly Davis and David Griner to watch the story of open brands unfold.

Nancy Kramer kicked off the day with our shared win: social media is now accepted by the C-suite.

But as the speakers and audience questions progressed, it became clear that despite support from CEOs and consumers alike, the bigger questions still remained: who to talk to, how to do it and what to expect.

Below, take a look at today’s agenda and a transcript of my live “Twitter coverage.” I’ve added in a few extra stories and comments as well.

But, first, it would be great to have all of you talk about this open imperative from the perspective of the people who live it and power it. If you’re looking for blog subjects over the next few days, I’d love it if you’d tackle one of these:

  • What brands do you find yourself routinely talking about and why?

  • How are the things you talk about online different than the things you talk about offline?

  • What are the biggest misses by companies trying out the social Web –or offending the social Web- in the last year?

  • What do you wish brands would do to engage you (whether that means use your ideas, reward you, inform you, etc.

Read more about iCitizen on the collected tweme or on the live blog.

Onto the coverage.

Opening Remarks: Nancy Kramer—CEO and Founder, Resource Interactive      


  • Glam president Nancy Kramer is kicking off.

  • Visualization guy is scribbling a conversation map in real time. Lots of Sharpie

  • Perfectly branded space. Every detail. Down to literally laying new carpet to match conference brand.

  • Seriously. Weird jokester guitar comedian singing 'thanks to the Internet' song. Totally need more coffee

iTalk: Kelly Mooney—President and CXO, Resource Interactive

  • Mooney asks one of the big questions we all struggle with when dissecting online trends: "how the heck did that happen?"

  • Would take 412.3 years to view all the material on YouTube. Don't give up, though, boys.

  • Thinking about idea of "share unprecendented" in the context of Jill Bolte Taylor's TED speech. Tricky.

  • Mooney calls Al Gore iCitizen. Opening the conversation. Affirms Wal-Mart for accepting criticism on environmental responsibility, too (theirs and their customers')

  • Talking about "love triangle." New relationship model with brand, community and consumers making up the points

  • Mooney says anecdotal examples are most powerful. Not sure I agree. Can quickly be written off as exceptions, "geeks," not rule

  • Ubiquitous Jaffe up next. Looking forward to hearing first hand...

Keynote: Joseph Jaffe—Author, Join the Conversation


  • CNN strategically uses iCitizens - not for authenticity or depth - but to get video / events / moments first.

  • Jaffe calls old way "Spray and pray" ... definitely my favorite handle for one-to-many marketing

  • "Targeted has become targeter." iCitizens capable of getting millions of impressions about your brand.

  • re: TMobile Sucks - Conversations is between 2 or more sides. W/o debate, intensity, it's just choir preaching to each other

  • Jaffe's called out Kodak's "winds of change" as listening and responding relevantly to what iCitizens say

  • Three rules = humanity, humility, & humor

  • "A lot of change in corporations is rogue today." Makes me think of Blue Shirt Nation's first server hidden under a desk.

  • Jaffe as if speaking to most agencies I've worked at says: Don't cheat in social media, you'll be found out.

  • Biggest risk we can take today is spending $4 million on a campaign no one notices

  • Retweeting @hdavis: Are you in the campaign or commitment business? Are you willing to commit to customers for life?

  • Jeff Jarvis, you're a powerhouse, but, really, the world needs some new examples already! (Seriously old Jeff Jarvis circa Dell Hell 05 was trotted out by no fewer than three presenters today!)

More stories:

  • Jaffe talked a lot about the "T-Mobile sucks" revolt. Remember the story. T-mobile claimed they own trademark on the color magenta and issued a cease & desist letter to engadget. In response, many bloggers displayed "T-mobile sucks" magenta badges. As ridiculous as the company was, Jaffe was also self aware that bloggers were essentially preaching to the choir ...saying the same messages again and again rather than creating new messages or engaging in real debate. Love the practical analysis.

Panel: And Community Makes Three

Adam Brown—Director, Digital Communications, The Coca-Cola Company
Jan Valentic—SVP of Marketing, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Stan Joosten—Innovation Manager, Holistic Consumer Communication, Procter & Gamble


  • Couple cool things from over the break. Jim Oswald visualizing the live conversation

  • Friend Marti teaching social tools in the social media cafe

  • Doc Searls: Any question based on fear is the wrong question.

  • Stan: When we talk open it's a mindset, but marketers want the 10 steps to do it. Really need to create mindset, not follow recipe

  • Jan / Scotts: Always been a conversation in our industry. Storytelling from individual to individual Neighbors, garden clubs, hardware store.

  • Stan: When you have a brand that has a point of view, you have to build in that there's a counter point of view. And build a conversation around that. Something that we're not very good at anticipating yet. But, it's going to happen. Have to plan for it.

  • Jan: There is going to be negative talk about your brand. It's what you do about it. Own up to it. Address it.

  • Q from audience: How are you mobilizing your staff. Adam: Step 1, get legal to sign off

  • To get our execs blogging we're talking about doing more manageable limited engagement. Two week topics that start a conversation, but set expectations that they'll be an end date

More stories:

  • Adam said that after legal signed off on getting involved in the conversation the next step was to get the executives comfortable with employees engaging social media. To do that, they started with existing, approved company spokespeople. Sounds kind of scary, right? A PR person on myspace...

    But, Adam's group went farther. Hand selected spokespeople who would both be comfortable with the medium and uniquely close to whatever culture or issues needed response. Plus, they're all getting their feet wet with their own blogs, social accounts, etc.

Marsha Collier—Author, over 15 books on eBay


  • Salads with flowers and Marsha Collier talking eBay... it's an iCitizen lunch

  • I'm an iCitizen and i'm not in my 20s. In fact i have a daughter in her 20s

  • For the people who read my books, i'm a gateway drug to the internet

  • I would never work for eBay because someone would tell me what i could say. It's about integrity.

  • Hard for you to hear, but not everyone is on the internet

  • Some people tweet too much. Hmmm. Feeling a hint of personal relevance

Keynote: Duncan Watts—Principal Research Scientist, Yahoo! Research

  • One in ten Americans tells the other 9 how to vote, where to eat, what to buy (Keller and Berry, 2003)

  • Wonderful American story, we have super heroes and free lunches

  • Every day every hipster has to get out of bed & decide what faded retro t-shirt to wear and most of the time no one cares. Why did hush puppies take off and other hipster picks didn't? Not simple formula of cause and effect.

  • Multiplier effect isn't one holy grail opinion leader, it's many relationships and influence-able groups

  • "Unpredictability only increasing." Some in room clearly uncomfortable. Looking for actionable advice, not worst fears!

  • Great Duncan point - measurable ROI happens way before rapid viral. Set expectations for success vs. tipping point.

  • Tsk. Tsk. Reference to Ohio "cow tipping" - doesn't match up with vibrant, cultural Columbus

  • Distracted by Jim Oswald's visualizing of conversation .. sort of cross between sharpie stenography and graffiti tagging

  • Retweeting @jaffejuice: New Yahoo research has central hypothesis: people assume more in common with their friends than actually exists...

  • Great audience Q: How will we define friend when we're connected to so many people?

  • More Yahoo development - how to differentiate types of ties on FB. Better view of relevant social networks... Overlapping networks of real friends and strangers with overlapping interests. Different relevant networks for different questions

More stories

  • The most important thing is getting extremely good at understanding what's already happening and moving resources to take advantage ... Take the Gap. Every season they put out several colors of T-Shirts. When they find out that the orange one is selling like crazy, they don't ask why orange, they move resources to quickly put out more orange.

iTalk: Steve Knox—CEO, Tremor (WOM at P&G)


  • Man after my own heart, reason most WOM fails is that the message isn't simple. When we talk to our friends, we want simple

  • Buzz marketing is danger zone. Office Max made 100 million elves, but same store sales dropped 7%

  • Whole industry is built backwards. Lots of people want to build you a viral video, throw them out of your office

  • If it isn't a disruptive message attached to the foundation of the brand, it's just more elves

  • All of our data about real advocacy today is face-to-face conversations, not online

  • Lots of talk of tampons

More from Steve:

What's the right message? There are two factors:

  • Advocacy: Do I care enough about your brand to talk about it?

  • Amplification: Have you made it easy for me to talk about?

#2 is where most WOM dies. Message needs to be simple. The things you talk about with your friends are always simple.

Panel: What Consumers Can Do
Sam Decker—CMO, Bazaarvoice
Tim Smith—Chief Strategy Officer, Lemonade, Inc.
Manish Chandra—CEO, Kaboodle
Adam Weinroth—Director of Product Marketing, Pluck


  • Manish: We measure velocity of engagement by the volume of products being added, volume recently added, & traffic back to site

  • Pluck: How many people who come to your site do something social … rate of contribution is a key metric

  • Sam: “Start metrics with the P&L, where it’s important to CEO, move out from there.” Really?

  • Tom: Lemonade users are highly sophisticated. Using stands as side business. Have high expectation, low patience.

  • Adoption has really been fast paced. Only a few years ago, I’d be in a meeting and first Q was: what is a blog??

  • Adam: Reward not just quantity but content. Elevate / spotlight their voice. 

  • Manish: Sweepstakes / campaigns incent specific behaviors vs. ongoing rewards that can become negative to site

  • Manish: Lifestyle shopping is much more discovery and emotionally oriented. Comparing handbags is much different than cameras.

iTalk: Tom Venable—EVP, InnoCentive


  • Innocentive clients are reaching out to creative minds to fast-track R&D and product development

  • Natural problem solvers want to create solutions. Open innovation. Awarding winning solutions. (Sample prizes: Asari X, DARP)

  • There are a finite number of resources in your company. They're smart, know your industry, but they’re finite. There are millions of other people who could help

  • Generation coming up now is going to find a way to make a living on their own terms, using the Web

  • Humana currently has a challenge out to identify ways to improve healthcare in the U.S. 2000 solvers responding

  • Other end of spectrum, statistical methods for software something-something

  • Ah ha moment is when you realize how many projects are stuck in the pipeline w/ no R&D budget to solve

Other notes:

Great examples of the Innocentive model:

  • Concrete guy solves decades old oil problem:

    20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there was stil a lot of oil on the ocean floor. The problem was that Exxon couldn’t figure out how to separate frozen oil from water. So, they worked with Innocentive to put out an open call for a solution.

    An Illinois chemists from the concrete industry saw the problem and quickly scribbled an idea on the back of a napkin. He sent that scan in with a half-page write up about a certain kind of oscillator working at s certain speed and solved the problem Exxon had been wrestling with for 20 years. Their engineers had a conference call with the chemist to discuss and "you could hear the collective duh!"
  • Hippie keeps $100 million of product on the market

    Another client needed to replace an art restoration chemical that was being phased out by EPA. They couldn't find a solution internally and were about to pull $100 million of product to stay in compliance.

    They farmed the problem out over the same network and a 20 year old chemist who used tie die t-shirts at the kitchen table with his mother applied that their color preserving solution to the art restoration chemical and saved the product. 

One thing I love about how Tom described "how to make it work." You have to change your perceived career role / value from problem solver to solution finder.

April 23, 2008

Local marketers who get it

Let's get physical for a moment, ad friends, with a couple of great examples of local marketing done right. Starting with agency work and wandering the whole way down to a homemade, hand-stuffed message from a local restaurant:

First up: The Women's Fund of Central Ohio Keyholder Event

This annual fundraiser supports grants to programs that promise social change for women and girls. Every year, they feature a well-known speaker. This year, it's Miriam Peskowitz, author of The Daring Book for Girls.

The invitation and Web site were created by Ologie (long before I arrived!) and - I think - powerfully bring to life the book, the theme and the cause. The pieces feel very high end for local greater good and have been received with something akin to delight.

AND- The Web site (again for a local market event) has been nominated for a Webby. Vote for it under Living / Events on the People's Voice.




Onto: The Makeup Counter at Nordstom

Talk about making a big brand personal! Nordstrom has always been known for service, but sometimes they outdo even themselves.

Recently, I went to the Laura Mercier counter to get a fab new lip gloss (seriously, baby doll gloss, you've got to have it) and was helped by a perfectly gracious associate.

Then, the following week, I got this hand-written note from her - thanking me for the purchase. That's a business card I was careful to save.





Finally: Figlio Restaurant in Grandview / Columbus

We've talked a lot lately about brands leveraging Twitter to listen to users - to find small problems before they get big; to uncover ideas that might make better products.

Peter and Laurie Danis, owners of Figlio, have perfected the old-school version of that.

They have a great personal story about tossing their law practices for the love of food. For caring about work with passion. So, they scan the local newspaper's career section every week. And, target people who've recently been promoted with a great little congratulations package:

A letter about your accomplishment. Their story. And a gift certificate for dinner. All asking that you share your celebration with them.

And, all bizarrely genuine.





February 21, 2008

What ad agencies can learn from parades

I’ve been clicking back to Adland’s peach-filled find (below) for weeks now. I think I find it so fascinating because its very creation seems so profoundly unlikely. It’s a crazy installation piece combined with the aesthetic of a holiday parade.

Which got me to thinking, what else could ad agencies learn from holiday parades

  • Anything CAN be created: What better callout to your favorite ‘it can’t be done’ naysayer than people create life-like house-sized butterflies out of little more than hundreds of thousands of roses and a glue stick, I think we can pull off a 6-color print.

  • Standard materials need not apply: Astroturf, twinkly lights, torn up feather boas, spray paint and paper mache. You call it your attic, I say it’s a 500-square-foot celebration of the Chinese new year OR the boldest in-store Pressidents' Day weekend installation the Home Depot has ever seen.

  • Don’t make people too comfortable: There is no better illustration of our willingness to suffer for what we love than the sidewalks lining the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. If your brand / event / story is compelling enough, people will invest themselves in the experience by huddling on cold sidewalks, staking out space, wiping drippy noses and lifting little ones onto view-blocking shoulder chairs.

  • Nostalgia is fun: Not the Cracker Barrel are-they-racest-are-they-not(?) kind. The make it into our photo album kind. The it’s part of the holiday kind. The Marshall Fields windows, mall Santa Claus, ElfYourself kind.

  • It takes more than one person to handle the big ass balloons: If it takes 10 perfectly-coordinated people to guide Snoopy through Manhattan, I think it’s fair to say that a little collaboration might be in order on the strategic rollout of your big client’s new widget.

  • Interesting things do happen outside of prime time: Sometimes 6AM in the morning is the best time to get in queue to catch some flying tootsie rolls and gape at parade princesses. Oh, wait, Starbucks maybe already owns that time slot.

  • Volunteers can create change: Don’t let the frustrated members of the Board of your favorite pro bono client get you down. Volunteers can produce unbelievable results. Say, getting 11 bands, 24 floats, 700 clowns, 11 giant balloons, and 1900 performers to walk 43 blocks together powered by little more than 400,000 cubic feet of helium.

  • Trucks pull the most delightful things: Dear Detroit, how about the next Dodge Ram commercial shows off towing power by hauling a train of ALL the Parade of Roses floats. WITH fire engines on either end. Come on – that’s power.

From Adland:



February 06, 2008

Is local artist Ben Harben inspiring Australian advertising?


Saw these delightfully icky ads over at I Believe and had to wonder ... is friend Ben the inspiration for far-flung CDs at DDB?

Ben creates portraits of reality television stars in the medium of "chewed up and spit out" bubblegum on canvas. Check out he and cutie wife Katie 'painting' Biff on David Letterman:

These Hubba Bubba installations are interactive “paint by numbers”-style posters that use different flavors of chewing gum as the color palette. Stick your used gum here not on the sidewalk.

What do you think?

(RSS readers, click to take the poll)

January 05, 2008

Marketing Ourselves

The City of Los Angeles has a 100-person department dedicated solely to dealing with the remains of people who die alone. Investigators who dig through over-stuffed dressers, side tables full of prescription bottles, stacks of junk mail ... all to try to find someone who might care that you are no longer ... well, home alone.

Which brings me to: Marketing Yourself for Marriage.

First the self help books. You too can find a man.

Then interview shows got in the game. Most recently, it was Stacy London making-over a guest's online dating profile. Why did you show yourself riding a horse? Do you really want to just share laughs or do you want to find a husband?

But, dammit, this month's issue of Chief Marketer may take it a step too far ... Chain Letters for Lovers.

Clients of  “Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School" author Rachel Greenwald send pitch letters to friends and family asking them to refer a 'blind date.'

In the example shared, a 50 year-old woman sent out 100 cards around Arbor Day, a holiday not traditionally associated with greeting cards. Each letter offered to plant a tree in Israel in the name of anyone who sent her a potential blind date.

Why is Chief Marketer covering this? The woman in question garnered a 12% response rate - there's never been a direct mail metric that enviable!

If fellow feminists are already choking on this, um, advice, I leave you with this last blow: Greenwald advocates that women set aside 10% of their annual salaries to market themselves to potential husbands.

Not to get out of character here, but: holy crap.

Read the full article

July 03, 2007

The other organic food story

1big Have you noticed all the buzz (and, well, legal action) around the Wild Oats acquisition seems to end with - what about Trader Joes?

Well, granola heads, it's no Whole Foods. But, another competitor - one much closer in approach - is using field marketing and WOM to actively take on the big guys. With some early success.

Sunflower Market

Check out this brand launch strategy:

Audience: Suburban Moms (mid-tier shoppers who don't currently buy a lot of organic food)
Medium: Online - offline / trying for viral
Marketing budget: ~ $200,000

Agency: Olson

Key online tactic:
Amazing Growing Virtual Sunflower - a downloadable desktop plant that would live or die based on user action to water, give sunlight and fertilize. Totally sharable on a daily basis - look what I grew.

Key offline tactic: Think pink flamingos, but more eco-friendly. Olson & Sunflower Market took guerilla to the 'burbs with "lawnvertising" - planting neighborhood lawns in a three-mile radius with branded cardboard sunflowers.

Key media tactic:
Six weeks out from the first store opening, key media received a branded flower pot + seeds and soil with the instruction to  "plant the seeds in the pot, and, by the time it sprouts, you will have been introduced to the sunny new face of organic food."


  • Whole Foods' plans to build a competing store were put on hold
  • Pickup by all local TV news + online media
  • Exceeded initial sales goals by ~20%
  • Nearly doubled average basket goals
  • Lots of email registrations for ongoing communication

So far, Sunflower Market has five stores in the midwest with more opening soon...

May 31, 2006

Much better than another free pen...

It's the yoga straw by Leo Burnett. Delightful.


Found at: Metamike's metablog

May 30, 2006

Found wallet

Wow, I like this a lot better than the questionable trash cans. Getting down to the very guerilla level, a newspaper (similar to a Wall Street Journal) in Sao Paolo scattered wallets around the city, each containing a sticker that said roughly - "You found the wallet. Now find out how to fill it"
Found at: MIT Advertising Lab

May 21, 2006

The worst job in our industry...

...has to be the Ad sales rep. There was one in our offices the other day from TV Guide something-something. He set up camp in a big conference room - really, set up camp, complete with a nappy "red carpet" rolled out the doorway, cling signs on all the walls and a pull up banner that he nudged our agency sign out of the way for...

But, that didn't even get close to rising to the level of desperation of this little four-man show parked in front of McCann-Erikson in NYC:


(It’s promoting the gaming-focused TV network G4 just to media buyers)

Borrowed from: John Morton

April 29, 2006

Can you over-target your audience?

Um, yes, when your ad is at the bottom of a swimming pool, I'd say you've over-limited the audience. Not only to people who are down there, but, heck, opening your eyes in all the chlorine is pretty dicey* stuff.

At least they are on target - the ads are, in fact, for scuba (are you for scuba?)

Untitled1 Untitled2

Agency: Dubois Meets Fugger, Antwerp
Found at Flickr

*A word which always reminds me of my favorite literary quote of all time: "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are quite a bit dicier." (David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest)

April 10, 2006

Taking it too far?

Image below definitely requires some explanation.

To help curb the growing problems of unplanned pregnancies and child abandonnment, Ogilvy One installed false garbage cans near the University of Bangkok. Each was equipped with motion sensor that activated the sound of a child crying when someone walked past.

Passerbys who opened the can found a message inviting them to know more about a contraceptive pill.


I do actually think this goes too far for public space advertising. It implies judgment on sexually active women and could - honestly - result in some unintended police action. What's worse than a fear campaign? One that suggests that if you don't use their product, you'll end up so morally vacant that you'll throw a baby in a trash can?


via: Seaspace

March 24, 2006

Rush hour foot race


I first saw this on Advertising for Peanuts, but it seems to be all over this week. JWT created a giant soccer ball/car to chase down the streets of Mexico after two enormous shoes (size 540)

Comments vary from incredible to silly to wasteful, but I think it says great things about the agency - imagine how open the table has to be to get an idea like this out there. And, now that I've seen this, I guess I'm surprised that we don't see more of it - surely, there are hundreds of parade float designers just looking to get their work showcased during rush hour.

March 05, 2006

Brand ambassadors. At the global level.

Npr_2It's not too much to say that this may be the smartest, most forward-thinking advertising campaign in recent years. Surprisingly, it's straight out of a government likely as bureaucratic as our own.

This year, Saudi Arabia traded its usual image-building campaigns for 20,000 full-ride college scholarships for citizens to spend in America.

Their "people-to-people" contact campaign is a direct response to the post-9/11 anti-Arab backlash. Their aim is two-fold - (1) to humanize Arabs to Americans and (2) to foster a favorable view of Americans at home.

Essentially, they're influencing mass audiences at the one-to-one relationship level and trusting / empowering ordinary citizens to be the ultimate brand ambassadors. And, our government spent 1.62 billion advertising dollars on what?

February 28, 2006

I'm not drunk, this is buzz marketing

This is by far my favorite from the Addys this year -  a great self promotion from SBC Advertising (no, no relation to the phone company). 

These lanyards (the round-the-neck-staple of every conference) were tucked into welcome bags at the annual Retail Advertising Conference. RAC attendees donned the conversation starters - and, netted much more recall for SBC than the standard flyer / brochure and a great judge's choice speech at the Addys.

Sadly, my favorite phrases didn't make the pic. Here are a few more from the mini campaign:

  • Is it cold in here, my comps are up?
  • I'm not drunk, this is buzz marketing.
  • What's a nice girl like you doing with a bar code like this?
  • I'm a big fan of your work, what's your name again?

February 19, 2006

Why we love pro bono clients -


Very creative outdoor installation by Saatchi calling for more public toilets in NYC.  The pissing gentleman is a life size cardboard cut out that (who?) can be seen in several locations throughout the city - no word on if he is scented for just that ripe sense of realism.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Client: The Privy Council

February 17, 2006


Not long ago, you probably saw the nailbiters shopping bag ad.  Here are two others that have previously made the rounds - One publicizing a new book by a Belgium crime writer and the other ... looks like a gym or other fitness brand.


February 15, 2006



Really intriguing campaign from the Magazine Publishers of America, the industry trade org for consumer magazines.

MPA is buying up ad space to target advertisers with these torn pages and messages about print’s continuing relevance for both impressions and WOM.

I love the creative - great approach at catching eyes and building relevance. Although, while I do have a whole drawer of ripped-from-a-magazine pages, I rarely pass them on in paper form... I just find the content online and email it (obviously).

Mullen won the print campaign back in January and will roll out the second part of a three-year, $40 million campaign.

February 14, 2006

Eight Warnings for an Ad Exec

Below are ten very salient warnings from Verizon CMO John Stratton at a recent Madison & Vine conference.  I’m posting these apropos of a brief chat I had with a colleague about making WOM a commodity.

[See coverage of Buzz Marketing in AdAge and longer-form New York Times story ]

Seems that both topics hit on the most challenging issue we’re facing as messaging gets more personal: how to do it authentically? How to get people at the C-level to start thinking about ways to be so responsive that they earn ambassadors. Not buy them. How to get agencies telling real stories, engaging in new types of interactions and actively figuring out how new communications work – rather than just retrofitting old ideas into new technologies.

It’s possible that what we’re watching isn’t an evolution of technology. It’s an evolution of culture. And, it’s going to take much more than what we’re currently doing to be advocates of our clients in this emerging landscape.

Onto Stratton’s warnings:

  1. Your clients are absolutely in trouble and they are looking for you to save them.
  2. What you’ve been selling for the last 50 years no longer works.
  3. Major marketing money is going to be in motion in the next decade and no one really yet understands exactly where it will land, if it even will land, or if it will just disappear all together.
  4. Before they figure out where to put their money, your marketer clients will hire and fire agency after agency, seeking someone, anyone , who can tell them where they might go next.
  5. CMO average tenure, already famously brief, will get even shorter as CEOs begin to recognize how much money they are blowing on antiquated media plans.
  6. Your marketer clients are really seeking one thing and one thing only: an audience for the message they are trying to convey to the marketplace.
  7. But your clients actually need more than just an audience. One of the consequences of evolution of our media-delivery systems over the last 10 years is that the audience you do ultimately find is much less receptive to the message you’re trying to send. They are absolutely armed and ready to get to the content they want while avoiding the message you are trying to implant within it.
  8. They need much more than an audience. They need an audience that cares about what they have to say. They need their message to be relevant to the audience they are saying it to.

He noted that his office currently spends more than $1 billion a year for advertising on "overvalued, inefficient, rapidly eroding mass-market advertising platforms that continue to underdeliver," and that like many other major marketers, he is "not happy" with that situation.   -AdAge.

February 13, 2006

FedEx Fashion

923Client: FedEx
Agency: BBDO | NY

Possibly the best WOM t-shirt design ever.  If this pic is any indication, it really looks like he's carrying a FedEx package. Do your company's t-shirts work this hard?

February 06, 2006

Another bite out of WOM

Promomedheart2006After getting beat up in the Chicago market and elsewhere, makers of melt in your mouth Krispy Kremes have decided that it will take more than “word of mouth” to revive the sagging company…

In their first foray into radio and TV, Krispy Kreme is looking to move the numbers in three markets - the Triad (NC); Springfield, MO; and Savannah, GA. – with a “share the love” Valentine’s promotion.

According to a Schaeffer’s Research article, analysts actually count the chain’s success among the contributors to its recent failures – “because of its widespread expansion, the aura that the company had has faded. The doughnuts no longer have a scarcity value and are now widely available at its retail stores and in grocery and convenience stores around the country.”

The spots started running Jan. 16 and are expected to end soon. The company is also running radio ads only in four other markets and placing free-standing inserts in Sunday newspapers in 50 markets.

Agency: Marketing Drive Worldwide 

February 03, 2006

Avoid Tongue Papercuts. Pay Bills Online Free.

Bank_america_billboardAgency: <unknown>
Client: Bank of America

Tangles- Switch to Rejoice Conditioner

Rejoice_1Agency: Leo Burnett
Client: Rejoice

February 02, 2006

Nike Y'ouch

Nike_ballAgency: Wieden and Kennedy
Client: Nike

February 01, 2006

Sweetheart Sliders and Lawyered-Up Pies

Two relatively curious virals underway for fast foodies – Donatos “If You’ve Had Bad Pizza We’d Like To Meetz’Ya” and White Castle’s Valentine’s Dining.

Ws_photoDonatos: A couple of low-rent lawyers on the perfectly contrived tv-lawyer homepage use canned spots, jumpy banner ads and even live Web cam consultations to right the wrongs of so-so pizza. The campaign abandons the Donatos brand completely and lets campy do as campy does. And, some of the spots are actually very funny…

White20castle20logoWhite Castle. Meanwhile, White Castle reminds us that it’s a destination for lovers with its annual promotion and PR hook. Throughout the Midwest and even in NYC this year, couples can make reservations for Valentine’s dining at their local WC. They will  be greeted at the door by a formally-dressed hostess and will be escorted to their cloth-covered, candlelit table as romantic music is piped in.