avin narasimhan

often rambling, but hopefully always interesting

Posts tagged adagencydeathwatch

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#greatpresentationsof2010: Rethinking The Creative Brief

Great presentation from Jasmin Cheng over at Twist Image. Clearly lays out some of the major issues around creative briefs many of us are dealing with today and some ideas around how to fix them. Particularly agree with point 6— I’ve always found the end result is better when briefs are created collaboratively with input from multiple sources. Sometimes far easier said than done (ok almost all of the time), but doesn’t mean we should stop striving for the best environment possible. 

Well worth a read, full of quotes and ideas from smart people across the industry.

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Tapping The Crowd To Rename Crowdsourcing

(found via @agencyspy)

Interesting project from 99Designs and Genius Rocket. Agree with where they are coming from— I’ve often felt that the label crowdsourcing has become so overused and so weighed down with baggage, that people often seem to react as much to the word these days as they do to the concept behind it. I’m not sure renaming it is really going to solve the underlying issues many people have with crowdsourcing on principle (whether for or against), but if nothing else, perhaps rethinking the name is a good way to start a discussion around what exactly the role of it could/should be and how/when it can be used most effectively. And, of course, how it can sound less like a fluffy, marketing-ese buzzword, and more like an actual workable process.

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Filed under 21stcenturybusiness adagencydeathwatch branding brands collaboration creativity crowdsourcing design evolutionofmarketing globalcommunity specwork trends whatsnext wisdomofthecrowd

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@UnitedAirlines Tries To Celebrate Twares— But Takes The Fun Out

Talk about squandering a good opportunity. Quick background— United Airlines recently started running a contest to celebrate the 1st birthday of Twares, their weekly fare deal exclusively on Twitter.

Seems straightforward enough right? A good idea that gives people a reason to actually follow this brand, and which provides real value for those who do. But, then you get to the rules page (or should I say pageS….and pageS):

(keep in mind, this is with the page minimized as far as I could get it, and it still took 4 screengrabs to capture it all)

What should be a simple and fun way to celebrate the moment is now mired down in the BS that people have come to expect from the airline industry— hidden fees, fine print, deceptive marketing practices, and just an overall feeling that you’re getting shafted. Yikes. Not the way to win back any love, United. 

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Filed under adagencydeathwatch airlineindustry community culture socialweb twitterfail unitedairlinesfail

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Taking A Smart Approach To Crowdsourcing

Came across this smart presentation (via @paulisakson) from the folks at UK co-creation agency Face, which lays out some good points around how you may best crowdsource ideas, and set the right environment for good results. Simple and straightforward bits to remember, yet which are so often forgotten.

A few of my favorite points/quotes (the presentation is well worth a read in full. Concise and to the point):
Crowdsourcing leads to contributions

Crowdsourcing will not give you a fully formed answer.

Handing everything over to the crowd will only take you so far, you still have to play a role as an expert in the field. 

Crowdsourcing delivers its best results if 1) the brief is simple; 2) the tasks are creative and fun; and 3) there is a conceivable output

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Post-Conference Hangover: Thoughts on (half of) ROFLcon

This past weekend was my first time at ROFLcon, and it was a fantastic event. Have to caveat this post by saying that, unfortunately, I was only able to attend day 2 of ROFLcon due to a rather crazy week at the office. But half a conference was absolutely still worth the price of admission. Met some great people, saw some ridiculously smart folks on panels throughout the day (the highlight was far and away the final panel on Mainstreaming of Web Culture, but more on that later).

My note taking consisted of my stream of consciousness tweets of interesting quotes throughout the day until my glorious iPhone battery gave out on me, but I’ll still do my best to recap some of the themes and interesting bits that arose from the various panels on day 2. After sorting through twitter feeds from day 1, feel like at least some common themes were shared, but anyone who can help add some more context from Day 1, feel free to chime in (particularly disappointed to have missed the keynote as well as the stellar panel on Race in web culture). Each of these deserves more time and thought, but just want to get them down while it’s fresh. In no particular order…

Protecting the core of web culture.
While the notion that web culture and mainstream culture are increasingly becoming the same was a common theme through the day, I also feel like ROFLcon is one of the last remaining events that brings together the core of web culture as it was intended to be. Fierce protection of anonymity, openness and lack of control, spontaneity and unpredictability. As many of these elements or ideals of web culture are becoming more fuzzy or going away altogether due to mainstreaming, ROFLcon serves as an enduring reminder that there is value in remembering where it all started and why. While there was a sense that mainstreaming of web culture is, in the end, probably a good thing because it places those who are leading it in a more prominent position of power, a strong desire permeated through to not completely lose what has always made it special.  A quote from Ben Huh (one of many fantastic soundbites during the day) of icanhazcheezburger fame, captures the overall shift, and part of the reason why there is potential for dilution:

The increasing supremacy of copying over creation.
Adrian wrote about this notion a few weeks ago, and it was perhaps best brought out in the panel on Pop meets Internet culture, with Dan Walsh (garfield minus garfield), Randy Hayes and Xavier Nazario (The Juggernaut, Bitch), Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda (Chad Vader), and moderated by Rob Bricken of Topless Robot. Among many things, the panel discussed how copyright laws today seem to be out of step with where culture is at (ie the booming popularity of mashup and remix culture), highlighting the need for updating antiquated plagiarism standards and definitions. Similar to what many of us in the agency world have been kicking around for some time— and which Gareth highlighted nicely in his recent transformers talk— it’s not so much what we do (or what the original content was) that matters, but rather what people do to it, and what further content is created from the original ideas. So much of digital culture is about building off of what came before, paying homage to other creators and keeping elements of that original creation alive by putting a unique spin on it— it doesn’t make sense to punish those who would choose to do so. Captured nicely in this quote (though unfortunately I failed to capture who exactly on the panel said it).

Marketers overthink the shit out of digital culture and ideas.
Perhaps a bit of an obvious one, but worth mentioning again (and again) either way. As the panels rolled by and the major successes in internet culture gave their POV on what they think works or doesn’t work, it was all the more clear that marketers, as often happens with things the marketing world doesn’t quite understand, overcomplicate and overthink everything about digital culture in misguided attempts to simply have their brand ‘be a part of it’. It’s so easy to forget that at the heart of any technology is still the underlying human desire to share and connect, regardless of where or how it happens, online or off. We get so bogged down in brand objectives, core attributes, tonality etc that we lose sight of the need to simply start with what people actually want to do and work back from there. We often end up with ideas that don’t quite fit in the broader context, and feel every bit like a brand trying to fake its way into a culture that it doesn’t understand. Moot of 4chan, though he was speaking in broader terms than brand initiatives, dropped a quote that works quite well:

The lines are being drawn: Facebook vs Web Culture.
While there is a certain grudging acceptance of what facebook is and what value it serves, the overwhelming attitude towards facebook was very much an us vs them mentality, from panelist and audience alike. For some I’m sure this is a bit of a mindfuck— how can the webs largest social platform be at odds with web culture. And yet it couldn’t be more true. Much of what made internet culture what it is, Zuckerberg and Co have taken a completely different direction with their own ventures and business. Personally, I don’t side with some of the panelists as much in their anti-facebook beliefs, but I certainly do understand where they are coming from. Anonymity in particular has taken a major blow in the era of facebook, and those at the center of web culture rightly (arguably) see facebook as representing something wholly different than the ideals and values of web culture. The opposing sides of web culture is something I imagine most marketers have little understanding or even awareness of, but it’s absolutely something they must understand particularly in the wake of facebooks recent open integration across the web. Many marketers are obsessed with implementing these new features as quickly as possible, sometimes without taking the time to really understand if their communities wanted all of it to begin with. Just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should.

A bit on the lighter side, one of the other facebook themes that arose was the notion that it has essentially dumbed-down the social web for the masses, much the way AOL did back in the 90s. To that end, can’t forget one of the most memorable facebook quotes of the evening from Ben Huh:

Sidebar: where were all the iPads?
Not really a theme of the conference content, but something anecdotal that took me a bit by surprise. Over the past month or two I’ve debated many times about making the plunge and buying a first gen iPad, despite the fact I know it will only infuriate me when the 2G comes out at half the price and twice as fast. So far, I’ve resisted. And what truly struck me was the fact that, at one of the geekiest and most tech crazy conferences around, I could count the number of iPads I saw on one hand (maybe one and a half). I have to imagine that after the same amount of time had passed back at the launch of the iPhone, a conference like this would have been overflowing with people on their iPhones and comparing notes. The fact that this wasn’t the case was quite odd— particularly given todays announcement that 1 million iPads have been sold, hitting that mark faster than the iPhone. Perhaps it signals a shift in who buys the latest Apple invention?

Interestingly enough, while I don’t have a witty quote from ROFLcon to go along with this, as I was writing I caught this bit from @aplusk— love him or hate him, he sort of hit the sentiment spot on (particularly as it relates to those who want to push internet culture forward):

Surely this is not a comprehensive list of things to take away from ROFLcon…
But captures most of what I found to be interesting and unique. Can’t wait for next year and the next iteration of what is a fantastic conference borne out of a desire to celebrate the greatness of web culture. Big, big thanks to @timhwang and crew for putting it all together. If you need more ROFL goodness, troll back through some of the feeds (including Saturday night’s afterparty), and catch some of the pix here (courtesy of laughingsquid).

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Filed under adagencydeathwatch community digitalculture geekery internetculture mobile roflcon socialweb technology timhwang webculture whatsnext

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How to change behavior: $73,000 bar tab

By now most of you have likely seen Gareth’s recent talk at the 4A’s transformer series. One point he made (or rather, that he’s been making) is that conventional wisdom around how behavior changes is flawed. Reality increasingly shows that attitudes follow change in behavior, not the other way around.

Think this effort from Ogilvy Brasil is a smart demonstration of that thinking in action. No horrific PSAs showing mangled bodies or crashes, no preachy authority figures telling you why drunk driving is so bad. Just presenting the cold reality of what that night of drinking and driving could really cost, at a time when people weren’t expecting to come across that info. And while I’m sure not everyone took it to heart, have to imagine more than a few took cabs home that night, hopefully the start of long-term behavior shifts.

Great idea, and very nicely done.

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Filed under adagencydeathwatch behavior behaviorchange branding brands community culture drunkdriving ogilvy psa socialimperative

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Google and the art of story telling

Not surprisingly, reaction to Google’s decision to air a spot during the superbowl have been polarized. My own initial reaction was mixed, and while I had seen the spot before and liked it, I immediately questioned the decision. While some estimates show the spot gained about 600K views overnight as a result, I really wondered why Google had broken from it’s past philosophy on TV advertising, and what exactly they thought they would really gain from this when they absolutely dominate the market for search.

(In case somehow you missed it before, during, or after the Superbowl, here it is for your viewing pleasure)


But what got me to think about it a bit more closely was this justification of sorts last night from Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt:
If you watched the Super Bowl this evening you’ll have seen a video from Google called “Parisian Love”. In fact you might have watched it before, because it’s been on YouTube for over three months. We didn’t set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search. Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact. But we liked this video so much, and it’s had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience.

If you like it too, we hope you’ll watch the others. Enjoy.

While the more cynical may suggest (and perhaps rightly) that this may be an attempt to post-rationalize jumping on a media bandwagon, it put things into a different light for me. The spot itself was less about making a splash in this environment, and more just an attempt to share how search (and, obviously, Google) have become such an integral part of our lives that what really matters now is the story of search and not search itself. And to me, even though Google was front and center, the functional part of search moved to the background and the experience search enabled is what really mattered (take that, bing!). Whether you saw it before or during the superbowl, the idea was the same as were the company’s intentions. The fact that it wasn’t created specifically for the spectacle, in and of itself, raises the credibility of that logic somewhat in my eyes. This was about sharing a story with Google at the center, and not about getting the small percentage of people not yet using Google to join the party.

Airing it during the Superbowl ultimately still may not do a lot in the grand scheme (and I still wouldn’t recommend running a spot during the superbowl to any client of mine), but with an understanding of their intentions I sort of start to get why they did it. And, I’m clearly not alone in having appreciated the beauty of the story they wove.

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Filed under adagencydeathwatch branding brands community culture google sbads storytelling superbowl superbowlspots

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The ongoing search for a new brand model(s)

I’ve been working on a few projects recently where the inevitable questions around brand architectures and ‘brand houses’ are starting to come up in order to funnel all of the thinking and research into the right framework. Perfectly fine questions and expectations, but I think like many people, I’m dissatisfied with brand architecture models many of us are used to (and unfortunately often still use due to the lack of readily implementable solutions that could work across clients). Further adding to the current situation is that people (like Adrian among others) have been talking about this for years, and yet it seems to me that we still haven’t collectively found a model or even a set of models/tools that we all feel is the right leap forward (and that have proven to be effective in bringing internal and external parties along for the ride).

Good place to start would be with a couple models that have gotten me pretty excited in the last year or a bit more.

In mid 2008 when The Open Brand (written by the very smart Kelly Mooney and Nita Rollins) came out, I thought that it might be a framework I could start using with even the more conservative clients and brands, but it hasn’t quite caught broader recognition and attention that I expected (though I still find the experience framework overall to be quite useful).

Specifically, putting shared passion at the center of more familiar elements I think is a no-brainer today

More recently, have been spending some time thinking about The Molecular Brand laid out by the also smart folks at Nouve, which I think is spot on for the times and pushes brands to think beyond the traditional notions of ‘the big idea’ and more about how brands can mean different things to different people, with different approaches, and many moving parts. (In fact, just in case you haven’t read up on their thinking, definitely worth your time)

The Molecular Brand Yet as fantastic as I think it is, for some I feel that there may be an intermediate step missing. For those still perfectly happy with brand houses and other traditional models, the ability to jump towards brands as molecules isn’t the easiest move. I think that’s one of the reasons many of us still fall back on that model— almost everyone in the room can buy off on the approach, it’s quick and easy to understand, and something that even those unfamiliar with marketing jargon and tactics will be able to look at and immediately understand (ie its still a fine tool in getting employees organization wide to understand the approach marketing is trying to take with the company). And so currently I’m trying to find and/or work through and develop some kind of interim walk up that a more traditional company might need in order to fully embrace this kind of thinking.

I use the Molecular Brand as one great example, but I’m sure there are others out there that fellow planners, strategists, consultants and brand managers may be using with great success that I may not have fully explored yet. And I also have to imagine that some of you have encountered similar issues with other great brand models— the challenge of introducing everyone to that new(er) thinking and getting organizational buyoff (including internally at your agency). But I’m curious to hear if anyone has had success in making the full on jump from old models to new, or if you’ve had success in doing the intermediate walkup to something more contemporary (and what that walk-up looked like). I’ll certainly be sharing if I come upon something that seems to be the golden ticket (part of my ongoing quest to help build and implement planning’s new tools), but thought I would throw the question out there in the meantime to all of you who are smarter than I and see if some form of the answer were already floating around out there.

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