Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Campaign for Real Beauty gets prettier

Interesting stuff from the Viral Garden on Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.

First, if you haven't seen the "Evolution" video that's been going reel-to-reel on YouTube, watch it below now.

The television spots first aired during the Super Bowl (the perfect irony of this media buy is another post altogether). When Unilever uploaded the video to YouTube, viral viewership tripled the amount of hits on CampaignforRealBeauty.com that the Super Bowl spot delivered. Tripled. And yeah, uploading a video to YouTube is free. Advertising Age reports the video has been seen 1.7 million times. The insane Web spread has even driven traditional media to feature the Evolution video and wider campaign.

Listening to - Nada Surf, KEXP Acoustic Sessions

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kudos, GM

GM is sending Josh Spear and his band of influentials down to Vegas for the SEMA show. They'll be chatting up GM's marketing folk and design crew, blogging on intresting parts/designs/innovations.

I'd imagine GM's PR folks of record are doing one of two things right now:
a) Patting themselves on the back for a hell of an idea.
b) Trying to find out who Josh Spear is and why he's not in their media lists.

Brilliant move, regardless of where the credit goes.

*Updated 10/31 - Here's the resulting post from Josh.

Listening to - Beck, The Information.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Chicago Marathon photos ready



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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crayon: Color me impressed

Crayon launched today. For those of you in the agency world, selling yourselves just got a whole lot harder.

Worse, the company has moved into the high-speed Internet jack next to you.

Even more of a pain for your new biz team is Crayon's stranglehold on an original idea. One you can't replicate. Or even get close to competing with. Because as of 12 EST, those wily Crayoners put the marketing world firmly in its place - directly behind them.

The upside? Crayon probably won't pitch your clients. In fact, unless those clients are forward-thinking, risk-taking, social-media, new-marketing types, they probably won't even hear about Crayon. So don't lose a lot of sleep. It's only a small percentage of work this start-up will pull from.

Wait, I thought of something even worse than worse: that small percentage of work is exactly what you wish you were doing right now.

Listening to: Alice Smith - For Lovers, Dreamers and Me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Loving the ones you're with

I've been waiting for some Chicago Marathon pictures to illustrate an amazing weekend...just got one from our friend in Texas. I'll post more soon - but for now, a brief recap and some thoughts on teamwork.

Larry, Dad, Me, Brett, Wes staying warm with some pre-race love from Sunflower Outdoor. We're missing our gutsy girl Caroline in this shot.

The marathon went very well. Beautiful course, incredible crowd support and the best running group of all time. I felt amazing during and after - a wonderful reward to a hard few months of training. The best part of the run was being there with people I truly care about. Our gang of weekend warriors (two of whom were first-time marathoners) kicked ass, battled mid-course injuries and waited with a family-like nervousness for each to cross the finish line. And that's what resonated most with me.

I'll post some finish-line pictures soon. They tell the true story of the power of teamwork. I read Olivier Blanchard's post yesterday about his own weekend experience in South Carolina and loved the message. Read it here. Olivier riffs on the power of teamwork and the success that can be harnessed through working together with those you're tasked to travel with. And though both my point and Olivier's are illustrated by a sports scenario, there are few places more important for teamwork to flourish than the workplace.

Our team braved cold weather runs, injury and frustrations during the training cycle and then came together to add strength, levity and encouragement when the race arrived. Sure, sport bonds people. Trials bond people. But the reasons those bonds stick can be leveraged in any situation...you just have to love the ones you're with. What makes up that dynamic? Olivier posts some new rules of teamwork...I'll add a few necessary character traits for a successful team...use them as a gut check for your friends and co-workers.

1) Respect
2) Admiration
3) The willingness to sacrifice
4) Humility
5) The ability to celebrate others victories with, not in addition to, yours
6) The will to push others
7) The openness to being pushed
8) Humor
9) Appreciation

More to come as the photos are developed and e-mailed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

one foot in front of the other

Headed to Chicago today for the marathon. The preparation and packing have consumed me this week. I' have a ton of nervous energy to expend come Sunday...for now I'm sitting in my office awaiting the flight, completely self absorbed. Until just a second ago, when one of my favorite people in the world sent one of her regular update e-mails. She has breast cancer. Aggressive. Has for years. She's back in chemo and jockeying back and forth with her markers and side affects.

I was blessed to meet her through a client I worked with last year and since have kept up, exchanging e-mails and prayers. Her e-mail was a great reminder today that my 26.2 miles on Sunday are a cakewalk compared to the race many people are running by the minute to fight breast cancer. She is an inspiration to her friends, a hero, a survivor in every sense of the word. A selfless mother and wife and incredibly beautiful person. Her e-mails 0nly briefly mention her treatment and challenges, then launch into what her family is up to, where they've been recently and how happy she is about everything from changing seasons to TV shows. Beautiful.

Her e-mail today was inspirational. It grounded me and gave me perspective. It made me appreciate my own health and the opportunity to do what I'll do this weekend.

Moreover, she put a passionate face on this important month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the amazing fight we should all join to eradicate the disease.

Do what you can - from supporting companies that support breast cancer research to performing self exams and making sure the women in your lives make breast health a priority.

I'll surely post pictures from this weekend. For now, the official Chicago Marathon mix, straight from my iPod to your ears.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Make sure the messenger isn't BO(RED)

I blogged about the inspiring RED campaign. I'm more of a fan after seeing its concert-promotion arm at work on Saturday. If the Hotel Cafe Tour is in your fair city, go. Easily one of the best concerts of my life, and moreover, the accessibility to the musicians and the overall vibe trumped that of most concerts.

I visited the Gap, one of RED's product partners on Saturday and again on Sunday. Saturday I was in need of undershirts, but ventured to the large section devoted to the special-edition product line and info to get a closer look. Great signage. Well-versed collateral. Well-designed product. I was enjoying the browse...until a salesperson came up to tell me everything I needed to know about RED (in one breath) and then, why it was "SO COOL" that the Gap was involved. Mmmmm kay. Her lack of knowledge of the wider RED campaign was obvious and her on-message recitation of Gap's involvement sounded more like a sales pitch than a sincere conversation about a campaign that didn't need to be "sold."

I left, not thinking much about the sales pitch other than what a shame it was that the actual Gap employee didn't know as much about this as I, a consumer who did some simple Internet research on the campaign. Then, I went to the concert.

Each artist spoke about why being part of RED was important. An occasional F-bomb was dropped to describe the AIDS crisis in Africa. Personal reasons for supporting the cause prevailed. I was down with this. They got me excited about my involvement. And I started to compare both the messages and the messengers with my earlier store experience.

Sunday morning a few of my friends hit the Gap to buy a RED T-shirt after our LAST LONG RUN BEFORE THE CHICAGO MARATHON!!! Again, I was unimpressed with the boilerplate version of the RED campaign by two different employees. It was a shame that such a cool idea could be lost at the point of important sale because the campaign's supposed advocates were describing the idea with the same passion as they described a pair of jeans.

Now, I'm a fan of the Gap's dedication to this cause. And I know that I experienced just a handful of interactions with the idea/partnership. However, the Gap lost out on some valuable opportunities to get me excited (and make money).

I did end up buying a shirt - due completely to my own interest and support of the campaign. The front is printed with the letters BO next to the (RED) logo. Unfortunately, the shirt would be better worn by a few Gap employees.

These experiences got me thinking about message and messenger. Both play a critical role in raising awareness and converting plain-old consumers into zealots. What a shame it is to focus considerable effort in constructing a campaign, its collateral and messaging only to see that spirit die at the point of a bo(red) or flatlined employee.

Free advice for the Gap: Give your employees the collateral. Tell them to sign up for the RED campaign on MySpace...and then leave it at that. Empower them to find their own reasons to get excited about their employer's involvement. More shirts will sell and your store traffic will be empowered by the excitement that resonates from sincere conversations. Every interaction does not have to be a sales pitch. While your distressed denim may not walk itself off the shelves, this is a campaign that sells itself, with a little help from passionate people.

Listening to: Brian Wright and the Waco Tragedies, Dog Ears

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hotel Cafe Tour in Kansas City

I'm a fan of the Hotel Cafe Tour on a number of levels. The quaint-but-quintessential California coffee shop is taking its singer/songwriter friends on the road again. This year's tour features big names like Cary Brothers, Joshua Radin, Schuyler Fisk, Joe Purdy, The Weepies and Rachael Yamagata - some of my favorites. The tour is coming to Kansas City Saturday. Joe Purdy, Joshua Radin, The Weepies, Schuyler Fisk and Cary Brothers are set to play. I'm very excited.

Two things about this tour really impress/interest me (other than the artists). One, its "Media Sponsor" is MySpace. I love this. The more public media role this uber-social-networking site can take, the faster lines will be blurred in the overall mediascape. And I think social media sponsors will prevail simply because they are built on a network that thrives on word of mouth. Promotion spreads (you can assume less expensively) faster than traditional media sponsorships. MySpace has done a great job promoting the tour on its site, too. Building off of the tour's artists' own followings.

The second thing I dig is its other sponsor, (RED). The website and concept are great. Efforts/products/portions of RED partners yield AIDS assistance in Africa. I'm a true believer that my generation will move cause programs and philanthropy in a new direction. I don't believe we'll be check writers. I don't believe we'll be bake-sale or Girl Scout Cookie advocates. I don't believe we'll appreciate a company's hollow donation or cross-promotional cause marketing program. I believe we'll trade dollars for hands-on time. I believe we'll be loyal to campaigns/movements/companies that build good deeds into their business models and offer a way to join a larger effort through the simple act of interacting with the products or services. ALL THE TIME. Not just once a year or during a promotion. Cause marketing is a fine model when done because a company wants to do good and knows it can leverage its brand and voice for something other than profit. Cause marketing programs are even better when they create a true following united for a greater reason.

RED is an exciting example of a movement that is gaining legs fast, and surely will produce impressive results. The site is written in real language. It's transparent. It makes me want to be part of SOMETHING. Better yet, RED has a great MySpace presence, critical in growing awareness and starting conversations with my generation.

So if you're in KC on Saturday, pony up wee 12 bucks and see a unique show. If you're a MySpacer, add RED to your friend list. Interact with this great tour, better cause and smart movement.

Here's a quick Woolard pre-concert mix of favorites to get you started/acquainted/going:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

That's hot.

I'm not a big fan of Paris Hilton, and I'm even less of a fan of the term "hot" and her coining of the phrase "that's hot." Anyway. Rolling Stone's annual Hot List issue is out. I was not mentioned. Again. I'm OK with that, though. I'm not sure hot is a good thing to shoot for. For a brand, a product, an idea. Hot is a temporary state.

Hot, however, is the destination for many brands. "Make me hot." "Make this hot." "We need to be hot." PR is often responsible for perpetuating the heat. Public relations is quickly reduced to media hits and impressions. Publicity. Wham-bam events. Flash bulbs and column inches. The hope is, with the right amount of chatter, correct media placements and favorable buzz, a brand or person will be hot. For a limited time.

And that's what gets my goat. If I had a goat. It actually just ticks me off. But it fuels my belief in the power of building relationships. Hot is a fling. Hot is a high. But heat cools and soon you're left remembering the days when your brand/spokesperson/product was on all the talk shows, caught at a club with Paris and registering huge MySpace profile views.

So, what's the solution? I believe it's a change in strategy and expectation. Move the strategy toward brand sustainability. Companies and individuals rethink brand goals in terms of sustainability and marketers (especially public relations practitioners) begin acting as agents of sustainability. Seek the marriage over the fling. Seek consistency over a cover story.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a media blitz. There's nothing wrong with promotions or a whirlwind awareness campaign. As long as there's a broader strategy that brought a brand to that blitz and will continue to guide it after the late-night shows are booked.

Listening to - Gomez, How We Operate

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Does your company have a Futurist?

Just found a great blog via Mason Cole: Communication Overtones by Kami Huyse. Kami writes in a succinct, instructional way that makes her posts quickly informative. I've been digging through her archived posts today and found many valuable points.

She posts on some emerging trends, highlighting the PR firm Text 100 and its "company futurist" George Kolb.

I've always respected companies that create a position or positions dedicated to exploring the future. How methods will change. How products must evolve. How conversations with consumers must keep up with emerging technology. A "futurist" is a cool title, too. The company, its clients and employees are better off for having access to such forward thinking.

Maybe it's time to add this title to your Careers page?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Creative brief: Be just like that one brand

"I want to do something like (insert brand) did with their launch."
"We need to find where (insert brand) spends its money."

Let me start by saying, I believe there's real money to be had in creating an advertising agency with the well-honed capability of copying the marketing of other brands. Call it, Mimeograph, Inc. or Xerox+Kyocera+Mimeograph. I don't know, but seems like a lot of clients would jump on the chance to pay folks to execute Part 2 marketing plans. These are the same clients who are impressed by case studies. Invigorated by that one-sheet "proof" that an idea worked and will work again and again and again.

Case studies are fine when used correctly (as examples of the way a shop thinks), but too often they turn into service menus, generic enough to be teased to prospects and relied upon as ideas when originality is just too hard. "You can get the Super-Hip-Viral Campaign that was so uber successful for client A, or you can upgrade to this case study: the Fake-Ambassador-Word-of-Mouth-That-No one-Will-Catch-Onto-Until-We've-Already-Launched-The-Product Plan. Client B LOVED this."

I understand that doing something that's proven successful is safe. It's easy to sell up the ladder. Easy to visualize consumer reaction. Easy to predict the ending. Easy.

But easy is not good. Almost NEVER good. Easy's not a brand builder. Easy doesn't incite chatter. So when the above quotes come up in client conversations, view the conversation as an opportunity to educate, challenge and provide big, new ideas. And if you must draft some case studies - use them bolster your position:

Brand X found a way to do the exact opposite of its competitor Brand Y.
Brand X found the least-saturated market for its product and dialogued with a community that previously had been left out.

And if this doesn't work, get out the Yellow Pages and point the client to CopyCatCreative. I hear they're pretty easy to work with.

Listening to - Joe Purdy, You Can Tell Georgia

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

When the dookie hits the fan

Olivier Blanchard posted a great message today - all about how one approaches and solves problems. His insight could be applied to any job or pursuit, really. It's a good read, especially for those of us involved in both planning and execution phases.

A large chunk of my time revolves around new biz and proposals. A lot of ideas hit paper during this phase. And no matter how many case studies (rolling eyes) you may have to back up your "processes" and "tactics," it's naive to believe each idea will unfold the same way each time, for different clients, with different consumers and in different environments. Olivier gives a good reminder that even the best plans - most thought out - require those of us who follow them through execution to be agile, aware and filled with enough ammo to get through the conflict.

Listening to: The Doubtful Guest - Volume 2