Monday, July 30, 2007

figuring out digital

Liquid communication [via planning from the outside] - flowing through media and around people rather than at them.

I've been thinking about digital lately > what is it about this medium that is so catchy? And no, the answer isn't social networking. Social networking is just one opportunity of many that that digital sphere makes possible.

At Influx, Ed Cotton says, "Brands seem so enamored with their own self importance and insist on building social network destinations, but is that what consumers want?"

No one really understands digital movement: how consumers/people/users navigate this evolving space. It's hard to put your finger on > why exactly I click on the links I do or rather how I map my way online. Let's think about it: The nature/DNA of the net is to provide information. Information can either validate or provoke. The nature of communications strategy is to find a way into a consumer's mind. Entering the digital sphere, a strategy needs to inspire the creative packaging of information targeted to an identified audience. Now, the hard part is figuring out where this audience is.

Cotton suggests hiring ethnographers to help us here > good idea. But let's think about our own internet usage: the sites we visit are innumerable and fluctuate on a daily basis. What holds us to certain sites is their ability to educate and engage. A site earns its goldstar if we bookmark it or add it to our toolbar. This can be a digital goal, but the strategy for achieving it needs to address communication in liquid form, as I'm inspired to do from Mark Lewis.

here's to the crazy ones

The ultimate insight. The ultimate ad. The ultimate context for a message.
Thank you TBWA/Chiat/Day.

would the real Account Planner please stand up?

AdAge put out an article today discussing the evolving character of the planning discipline. It seems that the term "account planner" has become outdated. We now have: connection planners, engagement planners, trans-media planners, communication strategists, digital planners, channel planners, media planners, etc.

I had an informational interview with a senior freelance planner in NYC a couple weeks ago where we discussed this topic of a flourishing title. He made the point that it's more for the client's sake than it is for the agency's > if an agency can bring a sort of specialist to the table via "a title" then it's a selling point against an agency that has just an Account Planner. Hmmm...

It seems that whatever your title might be as a planner, what we're really all here for are the Ideas.
  • Today's planning ideas need to stand up to all forms of advertising and every way consumer's spend their time. "A big challenge is being up to date," says Ed Cotton with Influx Insights.
We are here to provide a function that account people and creative people just don't have the time for: discovering where the real issue lies and finding the insight to solve a business problem in a creative way that is in alignment with what the brand has brought to the table, taking into account where the consumers are and what they will respond to in terms of communication.

Planning is responsible for processing information > a reason you'll find a lot of blogs by planners. Just look to the right to find a planner who's sorting through their thoughts in hopes of pinpointing the idea that will drive creative, steer a brand and get more product in consumers hands.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hip, Hip, Design!

Glad someone else is saying it too...

"Innovation is no longer just about new technology per se. It is about new models of organization. Design is no longer just about form anymore but is a method of thinking that can let you to see around corners. And the high tech breakthroughs that do count today are not about speed and performance but about collaboration, conversation and co-creation. If you are in the co-creation business today—and you’d better be in this age of social networking—then you have to think of design. Indeed, your brand is increasingly shaped and defined by network communities, not your ad agency. Brand manager? Forget about it. Brand curator maybe."

"Design and design thinking—or innovation if you like--are the fresh, new variables that can bring advantage and fat profit margins to global corporations. In today’s global marketplace, being able to understand the consumer, prototype possible new products, services and experiences, quickly filter the good, the bad and the ugly and deliver them to people who want them—well, that is an attractive management methodology."

And that's just what agencies with a new-type of model are doing. Thank you Anomaly. Thank you Mother. Thank you Undercurrent. And many more are getting closer to the real issue between consumers and companies: that of disconnection & distrust.

Consumers demand more honesty in the commercial realm, and the internet puts accountability at the front and center of conversations nowadays. Think smart. Think consumer. Listen to them. Innovate as needed. Proceed with confidence and conversation. Design/planning/strategy, whatever you want to call it, it's a necessary component if you want to be a smart company and make smart decisions. My philosophy is that it's about making ALL of the elements make sense and fit together in a seamless, authentic, honest way.

Monday, July 23, 2007

new economy: a happiness index

Here it is, my first book review for junior planner i am: Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. In a well-written, short and easy read, he spends time talking about resource-use, energy production, economic happiness, community conversations and shopping local. These are some points I'd like to highlight:
  • We are beginning to assess 'satisfaction' differently, he says. Americans have emphasized hyper-individualism for too long. Making something of yourself is more of an economic task; More is not necessarily better. We need a different view of the economy.
  • We have a surplus of individualism and a deficit of companionship, and so the second becomes more valuable." His statistic: Consumers have 10x more conversations at farmer's markets than they do at supermarkets. (i.e. where you shop affects your social life.)
  • Branding works its magic only up to the point of sale, and then actual human need returns, unfulfilled. *time for a new strategy!*
  • In a changed world, comfort will come less from ownership than from membership. We need to once again depend on those around us for something real. One-tenth the energy; ten times the conversations - that's an equation worth contemplating.
  • With the American syndrome of private, the car is the ultimate expression of individualism; a crosswalk is about community.
  • McKibben spends time talking to a rabbit farmer in China whose mission is to make a family become more positive instead of passive. A passive attitude can be changed. The key is they have to have a dream for the future, develop a mission. *where planning could have a big play*
  • Bhutan, a Himalayan mountain kingdom, has stopped calculating GNP and replaced it with a "happiness index," saying that we have to think of human well-being in broader terms beyond levels of possession.
  • And to end, Americans have grown steadily less satisfied with their lives. Statistic: The percentage of of Europeans predominantly satisfied with their lives has increased from 79 to 83%. The decline in happiness (or social capital) is largely an American phenomenon.
The book quickly references Branded Nations by James Twitchell, giving a nod to brands that create communities but then shaming them for dropping the consumer with just a product. I think though with the increasing focus on contextual-based marketing > creating an experience for consumers, customers, audience, people to be a part of > in combination with social networking and media > we should see a natural, organic, inherently built-in increase in social capital. No? I'd like to think so.

And if reading isn't your thing, there's sure to be a movie about it soon...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

this is related to that is related to this

Ok, you're getting it: a brain dump.

After 3 weeks in the "capital of the world" (yeah, some people have actually called it this) I've got tons of insights, playthings, thoughts, pictures, questions and lots more to blog about. And for the readers who want to read my stuff among other super-cool, thought-provoking reads, check out PSFK.

This post's title comes after attending the event above: a Pool Party sponsored by Helio. Hello iPhone, my name is Helio Ocean. Let the gadget games begin!

I met up with Johanna to soak up some heat and hang around waiting for music to play. Regarding Helio, I said it seemed that a lot is left to the imagination in terms of the information provided. The campaigns are definitely intriguing and cool > 2 elements crucial for planting idea seeds > but for first timers, ambiguity is a huge obstacle to overcome if the price tag is high. No?

And I love that the brand plays with the very famous and very successful I Love NY campaign. This is one of my top #10 campaigns of all time (don't ask me what the others are, I just know this one is up there). "I Love NY" began as a campaign for tourism (cool!) and sky-rocketed into a pride campaign for New Yorkers who wanted to show some luv. The campaign is now going digital with a new agency and direction. Saatchi & Saatchi will have to figure out how they're going to tell this fabulous brand story in a digital world. I hope the digital makes me smile as much as the T-shirts do.

One more thing, wherever you are, whatever you've got planned, put it down on your calendar to be at a Likemind next month > third Friday of each month at 8a around the world. Likemind celebrated it's first birthday on Friday, thanks to the creative, entrepreneurial minds of Piers and Noah. Thanks guys.

Ok, I'm done. Good night moon. Good night New York. Good night stars. Good night blogspot.

Monday, July 16, 2007

a city of distractions

"If you spend your whole life working and sleeping, you are left with no time for observation, let alone thought." (Thomas Pychon) quote via Silvia's blog (Thanks girl!)

So in the post below I gave props to the creative people - the restless spirits who stay up late creating with imagination and innovation.

This is a short post to give props to the strategists - the thinkers, the absorbers, the watchers and listeners. The ones who have a thirst for the new and an appreciation for culture and community (especially those that live in the Big Apple itself). Lee wanted to meet with some of his blog-commentators this past weekend in NYC. It was a thrill to 1)meet the minds behind the blogs and 2)share stimulating, thought-provoking conversation in a bar on a weekend night in Soho.

In a city of distractions (my personal, official summation of New York) it's hard to wrap your idea around a thought sometimes. Anybody with me? It's important to have an outlet for these fleeting moments > thank you tiny notebook, and it's also important to find your own way to opt-out: iPod or a good book are the two most popular options. Not only is it important to "take a break" from the constant stimulation available, for planners it's paramount to be able to take it all in and process what you've been exposed to; take the time to be aware of exactly what you're observing.
Bring it on New York! Spin my mind faster and let's see what happens...

staying in touch with creative

As some of us might know from experience, creatives -those crazy people jumping around an agency like firecrackers, ideas flying out their eyeballs, minds wide open for the latest stimulus to grab their attention - they think different. They are the reason Think Different was created: "The roundpegs in square holes." They are vulnerable and need to be understood to produce their best work.

read about the Creativity top 50 here at adcritic. They are the innovators, the crazies, the stay-laters and the late-to-risers. They are the people planners/strategists need to work with the best; like one of those foam animal thingys you get in a toy store > give it the right environment and watch it form into something unique. Want to know how much YOU think with your right brain v. your left?

planners > think of someone you know who runs on his/her own creative mind > pick their brain, become friends with them and figure out how their mind works and when it doesn't, what YOU can do to keep it going. This is what we were lucky enough to be exposed to in Miami Ad School, x10 = they ruled the school and we came in like...where do we fit? We fit together but it can't be a forced relationship. It needs to grow organically and when it does, watch the work be splendid.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

here comes the packaging...

or actually, there goes the packaging > into the trash. I just cut three large tags (about 2 and a half inches of un-necessary cloth) off some new underwear.

Why do we have tags? And why do they have to be so big (and ugly?). They seem to be the least-evolving characteristic of clothing products and I cut them off when I see them, so what good are they?!

I have bought some clothing over the past year that has chosen to print their label onto the inside of the actual clothing. And if you want to discuss this issue with more people, you can go to the T-shirt Forum. yeah, there's a whole forum to discuss it.

This seems like a new trend in product design but also maybe can be clumped with packaging design. I can't remember where I found it (maybe in Miami) but I bought...let's say some cookies, and each one was individually wrapped inside plastic inside a larger plastic package and then had an outer package that the shopper actually sees > three f'n layers of material to get through Useless! right?

anyway, i'm going to start posting more on packaging. It's something that interests me. I'd be interested to learn about the packaging campaigns that have emerged in direct correlation with their advertising. For starters (and interested readers) here are 13 trends for packaging reported for 2006. How did they do?

the customer's NOT always right

A MAS friend (thanks LB!) called today with the news: Sprint Dumps Customers. What?!?! In a period where customer-service is coming under the brand microscope, Sprint has decided to say: this relationship isn't working for me.

On one hand, I agree that a brand engaging in customer-service is half of the relationship. It's interesting to think about: What if customers had certain obligations to a brand/product, more than just pure love and loyalty? Sprint is putting it's feelings on the line sort of like a person saying, hey this isn't fair and I'm not putting up with it anymore.

On the other hand, what is Sprint thinking?!?!? In a period where most people would still mark "true" when asked if the customer's always right, Sprint has said it's not playing this game anymore. What are the rules of the new game? And if we wanted to, how do we play?

I think Sprint is taking a huge leap of faith. I'm also curious to know what Goodby added to this won the business earlier this year with "Sprint Ahead." Maybe Sprint thinks it can get farther ahead without the excess baggage (true) but does it know where it's going?

and interesting conversation to keep your ears open for...

Monday, July 9, 2007

generational marketing

Eleven 7-Elevens (weird) have been Simpsonsized in the U.S. to resemble the show's staple location Kwik-E-Mart. Customers can find Duff Beer, Buzz Cola, and KrustyOs cereal on the shelves. These will no doubt be collector's items and will represent this awesome campaign for years to come. F'n brilliant TracyLocke!

i'm calling it generational for the reason that this will speak to Simpsons' fans all over the board. I grew up watching the Simpsons when it first hit network television, back when I was in highschool (8 years ago). This promotion intrigues me, brings me back to the brand and even raises an affinity for 7-Eleven. And on top of it all, it's just an f'n cool experience that people will want to get themselves to, not to mention all of the free press the movie will get. (when i posted this, Google returns 780,000 sites) Can we say viral splendorific?

Matt Rand, an Associate Creative Director with TracyLocke, calls it a natural creative idea. i completely agree and hope to see more of these campaigns in the future. An AP article calls it an example of "marketers making life imitate art." cool! now where can i find one of these renovated stores...DOH! none in NY!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

network like a fan

we are all familiar with myspace and facebook > but have you ever used these services to meet new people? and i'm not talking about sending to/receiving from users with butt/tits pictures looking to "hookup." I'm talking about legitimately finding new people to hang out with, talk to, and network with.

when i came to new york two weeks ago, my blog was a huge connector for me. it put me in a realm with other people who blogged, this provided a sense of community, and this enabled me to connect in real-time. Examples are: Adrian and Johanna.

some other networks to start utilizing are:
  • LinkedIn - you'll find a lot more professionals here, but hey, that who you want to talk to, right?
  • Flickr - if you like pictures, then find other people who like the same kinds of visual stimuli
  • Plannersphere - if you're a planner like i am, then join the "myspace" for planners, you'll find some heads/directors here and if you can chat them up, that's pretty cool
  • Likemind - if you like coffee and stimulating conversation early in the morning, connect here for a friday social warm-up
  • Meetup - have not used this one yet but seems like it's got a lot of potential
start connecting now! have a great weekend.

what do i want to know?

my intention for this website is to be a resource. based on the industry i'm in, i would like to make this as user-friendly as possible. so i've done some categorizing based on what i would want to know about HOW TO GET A JOB:
  • networking - groups to join
  • extended education - pros/cons
  • job interviews
  • informational interviews
  • resume
  • creative portfolio/book
you can find these sections in the blogposts to the right among other things that interest me. if you have other inputs or questions that you think i could answer, give me a shout out comment and i'll do my best to give you more information.

in new york now, my sense of community is a bit fragmented and transitory. cheers to having a blog. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

politics & advertising

Happy 4th of July! As we come together today to watch fireworks and all the rah rah that comes with being an American, let's pay tribute to another day soon approaching >>>>>>>>>>>
get ready to rally your political troops around one of the following up & coming stars:

Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards
Rudolph Guillani
John McCain
Mitt Romney

what will their messages be? how will they get their information to the people? how will their brand position them in the run for the 2008 Presidential Campaign? In the digital realm of Google and YouTube, how big of a role will User Generated Politics play? things to think about while i keep blogging...

and just for kicks, if you want to spend some money on useless but funny crap, buy it here and support Bush's Last Day with buttons, stickers and lots more!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New York, New York

I came. I talked. I'm back.

Interview today went great. My first round had been with the head of planning and one of the two planning directors. It'd been one of the most engaging and exhilarating interviews of my life. So I was excited to come back and talk with the next person.

I immediately liked Andrea > she was "alternative" from a clothing perspective > boots with socks underneath and a studded jean skirt. We clicked. But I "put it out there" that I'd clicked with people before and nothing came of it. If interviewing for a job is a numbers game then it seems I should have offers thus far. And honestly, I'm not happy about "selling myself" to everyone and anyone. I'd like to keep some integrity about the people and agencies I choose this junior stage, I cannot afford to be picky. Andrea insinuated that our connection felt genuine to her too. She introduced me to some other people in the agency which always feels cool. I left feeling positive but am not holding my breath. Off to the next agency...

Plug time: GO MIAMI AD SCHOOL! While I was waiting for my interview, two MAS creative students came in the door: It was their first day! It was an exciting example of comradery and community. I was happy for them like I would be a child on their first day of school. I said "maybe I'll see you in there in couple weeks." THEN, after the interview, I called up my friend Julie who's working at Anomaly now (so f'n cool). She was one of the planning graduates in my March program. So if you're thinking of going to MAS...stop thinking about it. Do it > some wisdom brought to me by George a planner at AKQA when we met at likemind, NY.

My "little town blues" are melting away...