Monday, December 31, 2007


Resolutions pretty much suck. Most of them don't survive the first week and by February you have forgotten 99% of them.

Christine Kane came up with a good idea: Instead of having multiple resolutions, just focus on one word.
She writes:

"For instance, let’s take one of the examples above. Let’s say you are one of the many people who would normally choose “Get Organized.” You look around to see clutter and crap all over your life. You’re tired of the chaos. So, you think, “I need to get organized. That should be my Resolution this year.”

But then you read this blog. You decide to try it.

You sit with your clutter. You spend a few days pondering words that will inspire you. You realize in an “Ah-Ha!” moment that you tend to cling to lots of things. You’re scared to let go. So you choose the word “Release” because it inspires you in a bigger way than “Get organized.”

So, every time you approach your clutter you remind yourself of that word. “Release,” you say softly. You start to let the clutter go. Eventually, you realize that you’re still holding on to lots more than just physical clutter. You realize that you hold onto resentment at old relationships. “Release,” you remind yourself. You realize that holding on is affecting your diet and health. “Release” applies to some of the extra weight you’ve gained as well. Throughout the year, you can see clearly how much you hold on. “Release” is your touchstone. It grows you throughout the year. It becomes your guiding force, not your harsh standard.

Your clutter became your teacher simply because you shifted your intent towards it. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d opted only to “Get Organized.”

Looking at her list, I'm torn between Courage and Discipline.

On one hand, Courage is needed if you want to be a change agent. Courage is needed to make a difference. Courage is needed to stand out in a sea of mediocrity.

On the other hand, discipline is necessary to be more things done, stick to a healthier diet, abolish unhealthy habits, work out more often, find a better balance between work and family.

Well, what the heck, I won't stick to Christie's idea 100% and call my resolution for 2008: Discipline & Courage.
See me stick to that resolution in 2008.

Until then, enjoy the last day of 2007.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

One 'H' might kill your business

Not sure, if the correct spelling is important for Asphalt Services companies. I'm too much of a spelling stickler.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


We're painting the house. Well, in typical post-post-modern fashion, we pay for the service and someone else does it. These are the colors we chose: Orange for the majority of the house, blue for the sidings. Every time I evaluate the progress, the lyrics from Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' come to mind:

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

Peace on Earth

These two have domination issues: Who is eating first? Who sleeps on what pillow? Who is the king of the house?
Yesterday afternoon they cleared up all their issues and took a nap together.
Is it the holiday spirit?

Friday, December 28, 2007


The Watts Towers are an ode to the power of the human spirit.
Quoting Simon Rodia, the builder:

"I had in mind to do something big and I did it."

It's sometimes that easy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Frohe Weihnachten

In case you need to follow Santa, please start here. NORAD has tracked Santa's flight for years and new features have been added.

And, if you need a good laugh, Platform A created this masterpiece for its media partners. Listening to lyrics about BT supported by a Xmas theme made me shiver.

Last but not least, if you need some traditional Christmas inspiration, explore here.

Or just go here.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pretty, peas

Want to make a difference? Instead buying the fourth present for your loved ones, spend the money for a worthy cause:

Susan Reynolds underwent surgery yesterday, seems to be doing well and can now continue her fight against breast cancer.

Susan shared her story a few weeks ago, explaining how she calmed herself and her body down with a bag of peas after the initial biopsy. And this initial story started a whole movement. It involved many , many people sharing and spreading that story through email, IM and Twitter. Suddenly, people showed their support through various incarnations of peas.

There's a lot of hope because cancer treatments have become very sophisticated. And there's even more hope because there's a community that cares. And that community is growing. So, maybe save that umptenth present for another year and do something to change the world. One pea at a time. Start here.

P.S.: Many of us have lost loved ones through cancer. My parents are currently battling it and a good friend of mine lost his fight more than 4 years ago. Stephan Geesing was a talented writer, speech therapist and plain idea man. I've spent many evenings with him and his wife discussing politics, culture or plain life. His son was just born when he discovered the brain tumor, he battled for months, having exhausting surgeries after surgeries until his body had to give in.
I think a lot about him, how he never met my kid and how I'll never be able to speak to him again. But I'm with him right now in thoughts.

Stephan, I miss you a lot. This pea is for you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Last day in the office

The year comes to a close, offices will be deserted and people will rest. But are they really resting?

Writing for the NY Times, Lisa Belkin explored the need for white space,places outside of the typical environment, to get real work done in her column titled: You won't find me in my office working.

Lisa Belkins believes many of us are
“looking for “white space,” a term creeping into the language of work to describe a place where the actual work gets done. Desks suffice for answering phones and filing forms, but when it comes to the creative or introspective aspects of a job, desks can be uninspiring at best, or formidable obstacles at worst.

So we leave those desks. Because we can. We take our laptops and seek shelter (and WiFi) either elsewhere in the building, as Mr. Judkins does, or farther away in libraries and bookstores.

The term “white space” implies a place set apart, physically and mentally. It is not only used by graphic artists to describe the empty space in a layout, but also by time managers to explain the minutes frittered away between appointments on office calendars.

Andy Hines, who studies the future of work at the Washington office of Social Technologies, a global consulting firm, said white space is “what we are looking for when we have thinking to do.”

My white space is a room filled with good music and the TV on in the background. Hey, everybody is different.

Or as Belkin says: "That in the end might be ultimate purpose of white space: The choosing, the control."

May you find many opportunities to enjoy your white space during the holidays.

Mobile Marketing that works

That's what you see when you drive through Los Angeles during the day.(And, yes, these are clouds and there was even rain afterwards...imagine!)
Marketing the sleeper Juno, this truck features the bedroom of Juno MacGuff. You can't see the details but this bedroom was as close to a teenager's bedroom as you've ever seen.

Al Gore wouldn't this kind of promotion but it makes you look again. And risk your life to take a picture with your iPhone (maybe the worst integrated phone in the market) while driving.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


When I started in advertising, taglines were everything. We sat in our offices for hours, days, weeks, even months to come up with a tagline. The tagline was the centerpiece of the campaign - once we established it, everything else fell into place: Commercials, Print, Billboards, Stickers, etc.

Things have changed dramatically: Michael Jackson tapes his face with weird stickers, a cowboy became president (oops, I guess it's not the first time) and taglines are now on life support, according to this article from Brandweek:

“Too often, taglines are used as safety nets out of a fear that the rest of the campaign isn’t communicating well enough, he said.

Taglines are often more utilitarian and less emotional, experts say. They tend to be fed through the focus group mill until they’re watered down beyond recognition. That process does not produce “Think Different,” “Got Milk?” or “Just Do It.”

“If the Nike tagline were suggested today, the question back would probably be, ‘Just do what?’” said Wolfsohn. “There’s a level of trepidation now that people won’t get it and they won’t be able to parrot the idea back to you. So, taglines get over-defined.”

That’s when they lose strength and become meaningless, he said.
For a slogan to stick, it’s not just coming up with five catchy words or less, said Landor & Associates’ managing director Allen Adamson. It’s vital to weave that message through all the communications and the very brand DNA itself.

“It has to be the right promise, with the brand living up to it, expressed in a sticky, unexpected way,” Adamson said. “And then you have to spend money and stay with it for the long haul.”

He points to GE’s “Imagination at Work” as a breakthrough tagline because it’s more than a slogan. “It’s the business strategy,” he said. “It’s the mission of the company.”

It's a good article and I would like to add one important factor:

Taglines reflect the brand promise. Looking at today's taglines, the promise is very mediocre at best, horrendous at worst: (With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good. It's a new morning. Brew something good) Just pointless lines that serve no purpose except to fill up the pockets of agencies.

Consumers don't buy promises anymore. They buy great product and brand experiences. Big ideas don't come out of advertising, they come out of R&D labs and consumer insights. Great products need low advertising support and high-involvement in conversational marketing. Mediocre product need the advertising idea but these ideas will fall shirt in the end because product experience is king.

I'm glad to see the mind-numbing taglines leave the market and head to the traditional marketing graveyard. Taglines based on the heart and soul of a brand and product experience will continue to live and thrive. Because they are not based on a promise, they are based on facts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Trust is everything

While working with an amazing design agency, I was again reminded how important trust is:

- Trust in your gust
- Trust in trust
- Trust in empowerment

Think about it: Somebody outside of your area of expertise shows your their work. Your only job when looking at their work is to trust your gut. Does it feel good? Does it get you excited? Don't argue about details because, frankly, you don't know what you're talking about. Exceptional artists require that trust: If you didn't trust David Lynch, more than likely you will Mulholland Falls. Trust doesn't mean you follow them blindly, you can question anything. But you should only question because of your gut feeling.

Rely on your gut. And trust. You might change your opinion at one point but for now, stick with it. You can question everything. All day long. rely on your trust to avoid this human desire. Questioning everything gets you nowhere.

Last but not least, trust in empowerment. If you hired somebody to do a good job, trust them. Sure, ask good questions, initiate a dialogue but never, ever question the power you gave them. It will result in the Russian doll syndrome: You will hire smaller people than yourself, and these small peopel will hire even smaller people until you end up with intellectual dwarfs.

Collaboration and innovative ideas need a giant amongst giants, not a giant amongst dwarfs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


We all look for inspirations. It's very easy to find. But we often close our eyes to the inspirations surrounding us.
It's a Catch 22: If you're not open for inspiration, you won't find it. Sorry, dude, it's all on you to be inspired.

My advice: keep moving. Being stuck in an office, at home in front of the computer or TV won't inspire you. Get up, move your legs and find your inspiration outside of your own little world.

My wife is inspired by Joshua Tree. Her dream is a small house close to the National Park. Walking around the desert, soaking in the heat, smell and colors inspires her to move forward.

I'm inspired by traveling as well. But traveling doesn't mean foreign cultures. Travel might mean visiting museums exploring the Murakami exhibition, eating at the weirdest restaurant in Los Angeles or just listen to music that's pretty much out there.

Inspiration happens when you shift from your head to your body. Holiday time might be the right time for introspection. I'd rather keep moving and get inspired. George Clinton released an album years ago called: Move your mind...and your ass will follow. Sorry, George.

I'd rather move my ass and my mind will follow.

And, once you're done moving, just watch the worst movie ever. At least it's not the most mediocre movie ever. There's a lot to say about that.
The movie below might give you the inspiration you're looking for.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Banner Ad of the year

It's the time of the year when you go to a Xmas party, drink one or two too many and end up driving drunk. The consequences can be dire: ranging from loss of your license to killing yourself, or even worse, others. The UK Department for Transport and Leo Burnett wanted to creatively communicate above sermon and worked with Weapon 7 on the execution.

They came up with such a clever ad, it just floored me: An ad in rewind.
So, whenever you head out to your party and need a little reminder to keep it to two glasses of wine, just click here.

Hat Tip to 30gms.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quote of the day

"Allow yourself to want things, no matter the disappointment. Desire is never the mistake."

Paula McLain, writing in today's NY Times: The Holiday of my dreams was just that.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I want a scarf for Christmas

Moving Brands, an innovative corporate identity design agency out of the UK, developed a fascinating project focused on one idea: Fashion should be done by the people and not just a few select fashion designers.

Introducing Weare, an outstanding idea that merges fashion and technology with social networking.
As the Weare site explains:

"Last Christmas we set up a screen made of fairy lights in the Moving Brands window.

We then invited people to send messages and drawings, via a simple web-interface, to be shown in sequence in the window. The window was captured by webcam and broadcast live to the internet.

We stored everything sent to the window in a gallery, and the full sequence has been used to create this scarf."

You can buy the limited edition scarf online through the site or in selected shops in London. I tried to purchase it but since I live in the US, I wasn't able to input my info.

And, while you're shopping, you can create the next Weare product by contributing designs or visuals. And vote for what the next Weare product should be. I contributed an unrecognizable heart and smiley face. Props to me!

So simple and fascinating. I wish I would have come up with this idea.

Hat tip to Russel Davies.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thought of the day

When was the last time you did something people say you cannot do?

It's the time of the year to challenge yourself. And hope to experience this pleasure by end of 2008. I'm working on it.

Are you?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bjork - the ultimate lovemark

Went last night to see Bjork at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Her show was a bit uneven with an emphasis on ballads in the first half and EDM in the second half. I've been a fan of Bjork forever and she always finds a way to draw me in. While I was enjoying the show, I started to think about the idea of lovemarks.

Kevin Robers from Saatchi & Saatchi fame, created the idea of Lovemarks.

What are lovemarks?

Kevin Roberts explains:
"Lovemarks transcend brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Like great brands, they sit on top of high levels of respect - but there the similarities end.

Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.

Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.

Put simply, Lovemarks inspire loyalty beyond reason."

I bet if you'd asked the audience at last night's performance, everybody would consider Bjork a lovemark. Bjork has an interesting way of creating relationships with her audience, an emotional connection you never want to let go of. Now, how are lovemarks created?

Kevin Roberts continues:
"A Lovemark’s high Love is infused with these three intangible, yet very real, ingredients: Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.

Mystery draws together stories, metaphors, dreams and symbols. It is where past, present and future become one.

Mystery adds to the complexity of relationships and experiences because people are drawn to what they don’t know. After all, if we knew everything, there would be nothing left to learn or to wonder at.

Sensuality keeps the five senses on constant alert for new textures, intriguing scents and tastes, wonderful music. Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.

Our senses work together to alert us, lift us, transport us. When they are stimulated at the same time, the results are unforgettable. It is through the five senses we experience the world and create our memories.

Intimacy means empathy, commitment and passion. The close connections that win intense loyalty as well as the small perfect gesture. These are often remembered long after functions and benefits have faded away.

Without Intimacy people cannot feel they own a brand, and without that conviction a brand can never become a Lovemark."

Mystery: Bjork finds a way through her appearance and clothing choices to create an air of mystery. Her upbringing in Iceland, which is mysterious in itself, combined with her need to explore new venues, countries and music makes us want to know more about her. She also never falls into the trap of phoning her next album in, always exploring new ideas, new patterns. I've never liked a Bjork album after the first listening. It always took me a few times until I couldn't stop listening anymore. She never creates the expected, always surprises. In addition, she spaces her performances out so you never get enough of her. Yesterday, she mentioned that she won't return to the US for 3 years and that made her performance even more special.

Sensuality: Bjork's performances encompass almost all senses and transport us to a place not many other artists ever visited. I've heard her say in an interview that she's always searching for the perfect song. We all know she'll never create it but we're always hoping with her.

Intimacy: That's her strongest asset. Even though we know she's a very strong woman with even stronger convictions, she feels like a vulnerable, almost child-like person on stage. Someone you just want to protect from this bad, bad world. Her dance moves, her singing has a very raw, not-broken-by-the-adult-world quality to it. Something wondrous that you normally experience when you see little kids dance or sing: Just for themselves, not a care in the world burdening them.

The concept of lovemarks will become even more important in the new marketing landscape. Bjork didn't become a lovemark by focusing on quarterly profits or short-term sales. She became a lovemark through authenticity and careful brand planning. Most brands should take a lesson from her.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm dreaming...

...of a social network that allows me to customize my engagement level of each individual connection.
You're a foodie and your favorite movie is Rambo? I want to read your restaurant reviews. Not your movie reviews.
You're a loner with eclectic music taster? I don't care about dating tips but would love to find out about new music from you.

And, while we're at it, I would love to participate in an opt-in advertising model in this network. Joe BMW shares with advertisers that he will buy a new car in 2 months. He's interested in a 3-Series BMW. Joe BMW wants to hear from competitive advertisers.
Any competitive advantages? Deals? Promotions? Once Joe BMW bought the car, he can opt-out, not to hear from automotive advertisers again until he's in market again.

One can dream.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

LinkedIn thinks I'm into Martha

LinkedIn just redesigned their site and it created some buzz in the blogosphere. One of the new features is the news feed, tailored to your company and interests. Interesting idea to create more stickiness on the site but it just doesn't work for me.

A little background: I work at Genex, an interactive marketing company. Genex was bought by Meredith a few months ago. Most of you know that Meredith has a huge footprint in the female marketing space. And that's the only explanation for my feed: Martha news all the time. Now, Genex might be owned by Meredith but my job is to focus on media for clients with mainly male audiences.
I'm sure I'm not only with this poor customization example of LinkedIn: Many digital agencies have various disciplines under one roof: SEM, SEO, Media, Engineering, QA, etc. What kind of feeds do they receive? Sure, there's a customization option on the feed but you need a lot of people within your organization to care about the feed before these changes really show up. And what if these users are mostly engineers?

I think many people will find this feature not useful and LinkedIn just gave them another reason not to come up. I just wish I could customize the feed for my own page or even be allowed to turn it off.
When is LinkedIn 3.0 happening?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan narrates this video, destined to make us all feel more humble and, in some ways, even more lost. The pale blue dot he is referring to is the image that the Voyager 1 took of earth as it was passing Saturn, ~4 billion miles away.

As Carl Sagan says: "No sign that there's someone out there that will come to save us from ourselves."

I might be an optimist but I believe that the advent of Social Networking in combination with Wikinomics will help to save us from ourselves. Humans tend to look for answers by attaching themselves to religions and institutions. This age is coming to an end because these institutions are not capable of providing answers. Instead, we start to rely on each other and the human spirit. Technology allows us to build the infrastructure that changes the age of institutions to the age of humans.

When thinking about extraterrestrial life, I always believed that the only thing scarier than discovering that we are not alone is realizing that we actually are.
Social Networking might help us understand that we're not as alone as we believe.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Chevy Malibu - Yahoo! promotion update

It's Saturday 9.35am PT and currently there are 91 reviews. Most of them are positive, many of the negative reviews (quoted below) have been removed.
I had no idea Yahoo! removed reviews. Not cool. Why bother with reviews then? Did GM push the money button and 'asked' Yahoo! to remove the negative reviews? No matter what, shame on one of you or both.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Chevy Malibu - How can I ignore you?

Chevy tried something interesting today on Yahoo's homepage: Quoting user reviews and linking directly to the Yahoo! Auto Chevy Malibu review page.
I counted 41 reviews at 9.20 am PT: 22 positive, 12, negative and 7 reviews discussing the advertising tactics or supporting domestic automakers with patriotic arguments.

A few quotes:


Why there are so many haters in this country? Some poeple says so nagative about it, and obviously, they don't even own one. People are already saying it breaks when warranty expires. but the car just out. Why are u such a bad person? To judge it buy one and tell us when 5 years later the warranty expired and when the car does break. It just don't make sense over the old products agains the new ones. Or does someone paying you to say it?

The last American car that I owned was a Chevrolet. It was a maintenance
nightmare and a piece of junk. Since this horrible experience I only drive vehicles for Toyota and Honda.


another piece of general motors junk..i have been waiting 30 years for them to come even close to camry or accord. needs better pricing to bring the folks back..lutz is a joke..discusted detroiter..

i love the new malibu. it is the best i ever owned. all i ever by is a chevy. my grandfathers car has over 300,000 miles on it and it runs great. and the trucks are awesome 2

best car for the price
when i first saw this car i thought is was a audi a6

just wondering how many of these comments were written by GM, the lack of cons gives it away

is car is the definite class act of the mid-size market. Styling is heads and shoulders above the Accord and especially the Camry (does anyone really think the bulbous styling is really attractive?).

This is a giant step forward and is a compeditive offering. We should stop bashing our selfs as Americans and stop living in the past with respect that only Japan can build a good car at this price point.

Go test drive this car and take a close look. It may change your perspective!

Some of these comments explain why our country is in is decline. Go to Japan and Germany to see how loyal their people are to domestic autos. They understand the importance of the auto industry and the export business. Our country has become an import happy country and all the good jobs are gone because we have no loyalty to our own products.

If the good reviews supposedly come from GM dealers or GM HQ or GM marketers, then the reviews bashing the Malibu probably come from Toyota dealers, Toyota HQ or Toyota marketers or all other "foreign" car makers.

I was under the impression that these comments were to be left by people that own the cars so you could get an impression of what people think about it on a daily basis. Its a little unnerving to see that half of the people on here that are just in LOVE with their rice burners have nothing but bad things to say about this car, because well, its a car that will probably knock their company off its high horse.

Holy Cow, how many of these reviews were written by GM dealers or someone at the GM HQ's.. WOW..!!! I had a 2003 Malibu that was the biggest piece of crap I've ever owned, and that included Ford Escorts..!!! I sold it at 44k with a blown intake manifold, yeah, they've been building cars for 80 years but can't make an intake manifold that won't leak.

Not for nothing, I think Yahoo to support the the ad on its homepage or GM marketing wrote 90% of the user reviews on this board. The language and the style of most of the posts seem like the same person wrote the positive feedbacks. Thats not to say that the car isn't decent, it is. But, it would be a travesty for these two publicly traded companies, to put an ad up Quoting Yahoo Users to get people to click and then misrepresent themselves as normal owners and buyers. The truth is that this car is competive against Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. It does have standard features that are included that the other cars lack. But we all mistrust the longevity and future values of a Chevy and I doubt it will hold up as well as its Japanese look-a-likes. If you are shopping check it out, but don't be fooled by these self posts that GM is flaunting in its Yahoo AD.

I just bought this car and am very impressed with the overall performance and value of this vehicle.... Job well done Chevy !

It's interesting how the discussion changed from reviewing the car to discussing the quality issues (or perception thereof) of domestic automakers. Chevy should have expected it because that's the real conversation happening out there. People have the perception that domestic automakers don't have the same quality product as Japanese automakers.

You can't fight this perception with a massive media blitz and hope for attitudinal changes. Instead, Chevy should have a found a way to insert themselves into this conversation and answer critics with facts (extended warranty) and maybe even some discussion about other brands. If you want to access the world of conversational marketing, you need to listen, respond and join. Just linking to user reviews and hoping for the best doesn't do the job. It will do more harm than good.

Update: I started this post at 9.20 and it's now 10.20 am - No reviews have been posted in the last hour.

Update: Interestingly, the number of reviews have not changed but new reviews are coming in. Bad reviews are still visible but they seem to be switching out old ones. Not sure. However, the discussion has deteroriated. One of the last posts:

Jesus is God!
YAYAYAY YAY YAY YAy YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!! GO GM GO ...

Update: It's 10:08 pm, the campaign has ended. Still only 41 reviews, it seems the old ones drop and the reviews are limited to 41 posts. Lame.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The power of conversational marketing

A few weeks ago I sat down with a friend. He spoke about his newest venture, how he's trying to save some money by either cutting down on certain services or just plainly eliminating them. At one point we talked about phone service and Skype came up.
I thought about taking out the landline at home and just replacing with our cellphones or adding another solution, such as Skype. Since I showed interest, he started raving about all the advantages, his minor complaints and the cost savings.

After listening to his sermon, I asked:
"I was always interested in Skype but their site didn't explain the process appropriately and I felt I didn't really know where to start. What did you do?"
"Go to Skype to start your service and go to Amazon to buy the phone. It's cheaper there."
"You have a minute? Show me what I should order on Skype and I'll figure out the rest."
5 minutes later I was a Skype customer and had a brand new phone.

That's the power of Conversational Marketing and WOM:
Complex decisions can be simplified within minutes, known brands can be forgotten and cancelled within seconds and 'too-complex-for-my-pea-brain-site-experiences' can be forgotten.

And, yes, Skype rocks.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Will it blend?

It still works and entertains but the series has lost its luster. I guess it's time to blend the blender as the big finale.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dove onslaught

That's what happens when you develop a moral high ground campaign in a siloed organization.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dear Hotels,

you charge a lot of money for a bed, bathroom and some amenities. But you don't seem to think about customer experience.
Case in point, this sad excuse of a body lotion bottle. It's so badly designed that you have to use Hulk-like forces to squeeze the lotion out. And even if you can bench-press 500 lbs., most of the lotion will remain in the bottle. Sure, I can live with dry skin for a few days but the frustration you created will be with me for a long time. Why not offer refillable bottles of shampoo, lotion and conditioner just like in any mediocre spa? It will help the environment and allow me to have silky, smooth skin again.
Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you increase the bandwidth of your wired and wireless Internet access? It's not 1996 anymore and my connection shouldn't feel like AOL is still running the show. Just a thought.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

We are the people we have been waiting for

Brilliant Thomas Friedman discusses the climate change in his newest column, titled 'The People We Have Been Waiting For'. He sees no hope that any politician will drastically change the approach to climate change, but, at the same time, he sees major signs of hope outside of the beltway. He names Google and their announcement to invest million in developing its own energy business and the M.I.T Energy Club.

Friedman ends:
"They’re not waiting for G.M. Their goal, they explain on their Web site — — is “to identify the key characteristics of events like the race to the moon and then transpose this energy, passion, focus and urgency” on catalyzing a global team to build a clean car. I just love their tag line. It’s what gives me hope:

“We are the people we have been waiting for.”

We see it everywhere, people are taking control. It's much more than just fast-forwarding through commercials or posting Jackass-style videos on YouTube. It's on a much more fundamental, society-changing level:
Politicians and big institutions have failed us. Slowly but surely, we're chipping away at their power base until these institutions will be just faint reminder of better (for them) times.
Politicians and brands need to understand that old formulas are just that: old formulas. They don't need a new formula, they need a new approach, a new mindset.
And they better do it fast because we have no reason for wait. We're working on our own formula.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


"A Roman general in the time of Caesar had a motto - "If it is possible, it is done. If it is impossible... it will be done." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I live by."

From the movie Evel Knievel.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The best advice I ever got

When I started to work as a junior copywriter, my first task was to create headlines for a charter travel company, marketing their Greece vacations. Proud of myself, I handed about 50 headlines to my CD and was waiting for the Clio's to roll in.
After he read all my work, the Creative Director looked at me and said: "Never show me any work you wouldn't want to share immediately with your best friends."

When would I share an idea with my best friends?
a) The idea (headline/campaign/new business ventures) has to be so easy to understand that my friends, who don't work in advertising, can get it quickly
b) The idea has to be so new/unexpected that it creates one of those Aha moments

At heart, his advice told me that I should treat a 20-word dog food label, a text link on Google or CTA on a banner just like it's going to be big. Important. As something that matters. It does matter to the client. It should matter to me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Make love not war Part 2

I've been married for more than 6 years and I've known my wife for more than 8. By now, we should know each other pretty well, wouldn't you think? When we are with friends she has to listen to stories she heard gazillion times before, and she still manages to smile or laugh when the punchline comes around.

I think these moments and habits partners know intimately, make us believe we know the other person. But, once in a while, we're in the middle of a conversation and one of us shares a moment or story we never heard before. And it reminds all of us that we do know a lot about our partner but we don't know everything. (And, by the way, each person is evolving each and every day.)

An entire industry has been built around the idea to avoid these personal and revealing moments. Instead, we discuss the lives of others on TMZ, PerezHilton or These are just diversions and white noise.

The real stories are with your family, your friends, colleagues. You can wait all your life to hear these stories and experience amazing moments. Or you can simply ask. But don't ask if you're not ready for an answer. Meaning: if you're too busy/pre-occupied to listen, don't even bother asking. As you can read in 'Listening Is An Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project', by Dave Isay:
"If we take the time to listen, we'll find wisdom, wonder and poetry in the lives and stories of the people all around us."

As discussed in my previous post, we have to change our marketing lingo in order to find meaningful connections between brands and people. Once we embraced a more personal, dare I say more loving language, we need to embrace the idea of listening as an act of love. Just like the first date when we force ourselves to ask questions and listen, brands need to listen to people to show 'their love'. It's hard for me to use deep-rooted emotional words to describe the brand-people relationship. But that trepidation shows me that this is something we need to work on and develop.

Successful marketing needs to be rooted in discovering the stories that make people unique and the dreams that drive them. Everything else is just a diversion and white noise.

Thanks to Tom Peters for the inspiration and Ira Glass for constantly pushing the idea of listening as an act of love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Make love not war

What do football and media planning have in common? Both are littered with military analogies: We launch media 'campaigns', implement 'the blitz', 'target' audiences, hope for 'hits' and 'impacts'. We want to hold our audience 'captive' by delivering 'sticky' experiences. This use of language in the marketing world has defined relationships between brands and people. And created a divide between 'us' and 'them'.

As we know, brands have become the Miami Dolphins of 2007 and people the New England Patriots. It's an unfair battle. Even without spygate, the Patriots (people) have an unfair advantage:

- They have a better strategy (Ad avoidance - Bill Belichick)
- They have stronger weapons (DVR/Adblocker - Randy Moss/Tom Brady)
- They have a huge home advantage (My Media on my terms - Gillette Stadium)

There are two ways to go:
Either we build up our team through draft (bring in new weapons), developing better strategies (Think DMA, Napster, etc.) and try to develop a walled garden that eliminates the home advantage and puts brands/publishers in the driver's seat again.

Or, we develop a new language and, most importantly, replace our current American Football metaphor with something more communal and relationship-building.

As Doc Searls describes:

"Advertising is about supply finding and "creating" demand. Nothing wrong with that. At its best it's good and necessary stuff. But think about what will happen when demand can find and create supply. That's the real holy grail here. And it's one that will take fresh development effort on both the supply and demand sides. The difference between those two right now is that the supply side has been working on targeting, creating and controlling demand for the duration, and the demand side is still getting started."

Clearly, we haven't found the right models for the demand side yet. But we need to start now. And the way to start is with adjusting our marketing language.

Ludwig Wittgenstein said:
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

Our current language limits us and our relationships with people. Let's change it.

The end of the Internet Part 2

I joined the digital world in the late 90's: Razorfish, Dot-com's, bubbles, layoffs, etc. Exciting, nerve-wrecking, sleepless times. One afternoon in 2001, I 'surfed' the Web and suddenly had the realization that everything on the Web was boring. It felt so stale, nothing new happened, no innovation just pure stagnation. It felt like I had reached the end of the Internet. I shut down the computer, opened a book, listened to radio and watched TV. End of Part 1.

Fast forward 6 years. Part 2.
We're on the brink of a recession, traditional media spend growth will slow, digital advertising spend will increase dramatically and social media is the new, new, new thing.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Not really.

Sure, more and more brand are moving money to digital agencies but I don't really see innovation. Most of the transferred money will end up on search engines and portals, some of it on MySpace and Facebook. But, where's the innovation?

Where are the ideas and campaigns that utilize communication tools such as Twitter? How can we create experiences on Jaiku and Seesmic? Where are the digitally integrated campaigns that utilize all the tools Web 2.0 users are working with each and every day?

The window of opportunity is wide open: Brands have tired of print and TV, they look for digital marketing to save the day. As providers for marketing solutions, we need to be prepared for this dramatic shift in spend. If we don't innovate and offer new models to connect with and engage people, brands will quickly tire of digital marketing and move on. We have to find new ways to spend money, new places to engage people, new methods to converse with people.

Recessions are scary times. People tend to act more conservatively, tend to regress to known and stay away from the unknown. One failed campaign can mean a financial disaster, restructuring and/or, ultimately, the loss of a job. Your job.

The window of opportunity is wide open but it will be closing. Fast.
One day, your client will sit in front of you and ask you: 'What have you done for me lately?' If your answer will be filled with words like SEM, SEO, portals, reach, CTR, engagement, you better shut up and let silence speak for you.

The time to innovate is now. All of us have to save the day because now is the time to develop integrated, digital models. New ideas.

Are you ready to save the day?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to achieve your dreams

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I came across the incredible story of Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon and pioneer in the field of virtual reality who is dying of cancer.
Even though he appears incredibly healthy, he has numerous liver tumors, was given no more than 3-6 months to live but still manages to do one-armed pushups.
He called his lecture 'The Last Lecture' and discusses his childhood dreams, how he achieved some of them, and some not.

Most importantly, he discusses the lessons he learned throughout his life and how rewarding it is to help others to achieve their dreams.

In short, the lessons are:

1. Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
2. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
3. Never lose the child-like wonder.
4. If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
6. If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.

It's a long lecture but a lecture that will inspire and move you. And that should be worth your time. If you just want to see a short version, watch below

Via Businessweek

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blog Nothing Day

To support the ongoing WGA strike, I won't be posting this Monday. Please join the Blog Nothing Day group on Facebook.
See you Tuesday!

Dell goes C-List

Even C-list celebrities need endorsements and Dell came to the rescue of unforgettable performers such as Burt Reynolds, Ice-T, Vivica Fox, Brooke Burke, Chuck Liddell and Estelle Harris with their 'Yours Is Here' promotion.

Does it work? The tongue-in-cheek humor is slightly amusing and the execution is flawless. Personally, I like the idea to ask all your friends to contribute via PayPal instead of receiving the unwanted socks, ties and bargain bin book. Feels a little bit like a wedding registry. Not that there's anything wrong with it. Will it work for Dell? Not sure if this new approach to gifting really works in this environment where everybody cuts back on holiday spending. I just wish Dell would have been a bit more creative with their treatment of their C-celebrities. The only one that I really liked was Ice-T but it would be awkward as a guy to send his smooth, female-targeted message to my father. Unless, I'd rather have socks.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Yo, Nordstrom, respect

A company that gets it and doesn't participate in the rat race they call Black Friday. For some companies brand equity and long-term business goals are more important than short-term profits. Refreshing.

Via Zeus Jones

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day."

Irv Kupcinet
Columnist and TV personality

In case you're bored by football or need some entertainment during your dinner preparations, listen to a 5-hour (Thursday and Friday) special on KCRW from 12-5pm PST (3-8pm EST), featuring special episodes from This American Life with Ira Glass.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

3.5 Billion Conversations daily

MediaPost reported Tuesday that there are 3.5 billion brand-related conversations per day in the US.

Spending on word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing jumped 35.9 percent in 2006 to $981.0 million and is expected to top $1 billion in 2007, making it one of the fastest growing alternative media segments.

Driving the growth is the continued consumer shift to alternative media and the marketer's need for increased brand engagement and ROI. These are some of the findings of the first in-depth analysis of the emerging word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing industry by PQ Media.

PQ Media defines Word-of-Mouth (WoM) marketing as an alternative marketing strategy supported by research and technology that encourages consumers to dialogue about products and services.

Word-of-Mouth (WoM) Marketing is the fastest-growing segment of the $254 billion marketing services sector of the media industry, which includes among others, branded entertainment, direct marketing and public relations.

Think about it: 3.5 billion brand-related conversations daily. Many of these conversations will take place tomorrow at the turkey table. We're just in the baby stages of conversational/WOM marketing and will see dramatic changes in the near future how to connect with people. The opportunities are endless.

One of my hope is that Black Friday will be a laughable chapter of American business history when I sit at the Thanksgiving table of my kid in 20 years. (And Cyber Monday won't even be a footnote.) As an immigrant, that ritual of getting up at the crack of dawn to get a good deal is just strange and very foreign to me. And I hope that the new world of marketing will allow these people to stay in bed, enjoy breakfast with their family and get some needed family/friend time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The inhumane network

Advertising can be entertaining (Well, actually it should be!), inspirational, informational. Good creative combined with a sophisticated, well thought out media buy can be magical. Good creative combined with an unthoughtful media buy can be worse than Chinese water torture.

Case in point: Cisco's current campaign for their human network. Yesterday, I was catching up on my Fox shows online and enjoyed the first commercial interruption brought to me by Cisco - interesting visuals, intriguing story and creative. I even memorized the URL for later exploration. But my memory became really foggy when I had to watch the identical commercial message for a second time. Third time. By the fourth time, I felt like water was slowly dripping onto my forehead, driving me insane. And my drive to explre Cisco's site just disappeared and turned into anger. At the lazy media buyers who didn't even bother thinking about frequency capping, user experience and, most importantly, how they wasted their client's money.

It's very easy to turn an engaging experience into an annoyance if you didn't focus on the little details of each campaign.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I do know how to quit you

Is this your Facebook inbox? Too many friends, too many invitations, too much crapola. Some early adopters are starting to leave Facebook because they don't see the value and ragard the site as a time-suck.

Maybe it's just the pendulum swinging the other way: People are starting to understand that you can't manage hundreds of contacts/friends, especially when you barely know these people. Facebook can have an amazing value if we can start to extend our real-life connections to the internet. Just like your first email address that turned into spam account, Facebook might become just another network that becomes less and less valuable. Just another AOL.

And, in case you're ready to quit - follow these instructions.
I'll stay on for a while. And see where it goes.

And if you invited, poked, gifted me and wait for a response: Stay tuned. There are more important things in my life I have to take care of.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday's thought

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

--Albert Einstein

Friday, November 16, 2007

I must be in the wrong business

Tim Vanderhook writes in his latest MediaPost column about the aftermath of acquisitions (DoubleClick, aQuantive, etc.) and his predictions for the future of portals.

The last paragraph reads:

The biggest winners in this year of acquisitions will be consumers — receiving more relevant ads, at more appropriate times. Experience shows consumers don’t necessarily like advertising but are willing to endure it for free content. If the ads they see are relevant to who they are, what they are interested in, and where they are located, it becomes a win-win for all parties in the chain.

How do we motivate young people to join our industry when our lofty goals are for consumers endure our work? When I started in advertising, I wanted to entertain, inspire and engage people. Question is, if you compare your work to a root canal or an IRS audit, how can you expect to connect with people and, ultimately, sell a product?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Are you still dreaming?

When i grew up, I dreamt of becoming an astronaut. Walking on the moon like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Time passed and I wanted to become an airline pilot. Then a surgeon. A writer.
I became a copywriter (pretty close), marketing (insert title here), media (insert title here). And, here we are.

Matthew Kelly, founder and president of Floyd Consulting, was interviewed on Tom Peters' site about his newest book 'The Dream Manager'.

A few tidbits:

The first time you ask people to list their dreams, they tend to put together a shopping list and a travel book. But, as they begin to live a little bit more and experience some of those dreams, they begin to ask, "What are my legacy dreams? What are my character dreams? What are my spiritual dreams? What are my adventure dreams? What are my creative dreams?" Those are the higher level dreams.

But it's important to recognize that a lot of people have stopped dreaming. And if they've stopped dreaming in their own life, good luck trying to get them to subscribe to a dream that you have for your organization. It's simply unreasonable to expect people to do something for your business that they are not willing to do for their own lives.


The following quote is fairly depressing.

Before we start the program with a company, we usually get the executive team together, and do a one- or two-day offsite. These people are the best of the best, the brightest in their field, making lots of money, and 70 percent of them have not sat down to think about what their personal dreams are, for a decade, sometimes multiple decades. To see that process begin in a person is staggering.

Because at the end of the day, Erik, everybody has dreams. At the executive level, or the manager level, we spend so much time focused on a vision for our organizations, it's amazing how little time we spend on a vision for our lives.

On how to get back in touch with your dreams.

Sit down and put together a list of 100 dreams. It will be hard work at first, but take a look at the 12 areas: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, psychological, material, professional, financial, creative, adventure, legacy, and character. Essentially, if you come up with eight dreams in each of those areas, you've got your list of 100 dreams.

If you simply write your list of 100 dreams, put it in a drawer, and never look at it ever again, that one experience is life changing.

The next step is to start a conversation with the people in your life about their dreams, whether it's your spouse, your children, or the people you work with. You have to be careful with that. It will freak them out if you spring it on them out of nowhere. To ease into it, try saying, "If there were no limits on time or money, where are seven places you'd love to go in the next seven years?" And then you both make a list and talk about it. See which ones match up and which ones are very different. I think that's an easy way to start that conversation because lots of people dream of traveling. I think it's a great way to ease into the conversation.

Besides the fact that I immediately ordered the book, it also made me start thinking:
What are my physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, psychological, material, professional, financial, creative, adventure, legacy, and character dreams?

My first shot:













Some images might need explantation but, hey, these are my dreams. What are yours?