So I'm thinking about creative output and environment mostly...and public interaction with advertising. Too often we in the "biz" stop thinking about our creative output once it exits production or the billboard media buy is executed. Even when we spend time thinking of the end-user "We're trying to reach the morning commuter on his way from the suburbs to downtown," we neglect getting inside that end-users psyche...we think of him as a consumer who automatically will consider our product. This clip reminds me that the creative product is interactive - from a billboard to a floor cling to a train ad. And we live now in an age when consumers can do more than say, "That was annoying," they can turn a marketing message into a new statement - into art redone.
This is a great reminder to focus on where the product of our creative briefs ends up and to spend time thinking of our message's impact on that environment and its inhabitants.
If you're not nursing a thursday-night hangover, spinning in back ice or asleep, you should come to JP's tomorrow morning for the KC Coffee Morning. 7:30. Though the majority of attendees are from my daytime home (which feels especially homey today with a warm fire in the lobby fireplace to combat the cold), lots of smart, caffeinated creatives come from all corners of our fair city to communicate over coffee. 10 points for alliteration! For even more mastery of the English language, check out Seth's KC Coffee Morning haikus. And for visuals of last Friday's sipping, go here.
Listening to - Paul Brill, Harpooner. A friend with admirable musical taste gave me her copy of Paste Magazine the other night. The magazine comes with a mix CD of artists featured in the editorial. Great mag, and a wonderful concept integrated words and notes.
The tubes that make up our beloved web were dangerously close to clogging with cool this week. Some sites that have amazed me:
Imagini: Andrew the Planner routed a Wall Street Journal article highlighting this UK market research company. The company relies on images and impressions to gather info. I took its test yesterday and was amazed at the profile my choices of images yielded. Dead on. Just click on the first step in the "How it works" section. Then be honest. Have fun. Be amazed. And if you're a marketer...wow - this'll get you going.
Gore Design: Amazing design coupled with a environmental mission.
And to wrap it up, just in this morning, a second leading democratic presidential candidate goes Campaign 2.0. Obama. Clinton.
And I can't stop listening to the new Shins album, Wincing the Night Away. This will certainly be a favorite of 2007. Listen to the full tracks on MySpace or previews on their website. And if you download the above iTunes Concert Calendar, you'll be reminded that the Shins will be in Lawrence, KS for back-to-back concerts February 12 and 13.
I love airports. I especially love flying in airplanes. I think the air up there (even though we're traveling in a pressurized cabin) causes inspiration. And there is nothing better than finding a wonderful read, buying a five dollar plastic cup of crap Merlot, settling into your aisle seat and having nothing to do but drink and devour words with no distractions. So it was today that I experienced Good Magazine.
Good Magazine is unlike any zine I've read. Just read the description. Editorially engaging and smart. Well-designed. Filled with relevant insights and good interviews. And Good Magazine has found a way to integrate its print and online features seamlessly. Its online articles are complete and include resource links, del.icio.us and send-to-a-friend functions. The translation of an awesome graphic spread to the online video is a perfect representation of Good Magazine's understand of it's shared mediums. This was one of my favorite parts. (I'll bring in a hard copy for the office, but every marketer should have this info handy...not only for clients, but for a bit of perspective on the inundation of messages.)
I'm all about better business plans. Good is a perfect example of doing its business differently, especially in a stale, maddening industry. For instance, when you subscribe online, your 20 dollar subscription goes to the charity of your choice. I chose City Year. This is the type of option that my generation embraces. As I've said repeatedly, we're not a check-writing generation. We will not be hands-off donors content in having our last names printed in a brochure. We want to integrate good in our actions (from consumption to volunteerism) and would rather donate sweat than cash, when we can. Good Magazine gets this. Gets its audience and does a heckuva job creating the right forms of communication.
I'm excited to get my next issue, but will enjoy the online articles and art in the meantime.
Just finished my most enjoyable, but hardest, marathon yet. Houston. I was shooting for a 4:00 finish and ended up crossing the line at 3:54, which was 26 minutes faster than my last personal record. Excellent weather and a well-organized weekend.
After attending my first KC Coffee Morning last Friday, I had a lot of hope for the real-life realization of the conversations I enjoy via the blogosphere. It was nice to sit down with some new co-workers (John, Bruno, Seth, Andrew) as well as a few creatives from the area (Jeremy, Celeste). See, we read and comment. We forward and link. We admire and argue. And normally we hide behind a social firewall.
I've posted before about the power of unplugging and I was affirmed by the conversation and quickly-established relationships at the Coffee Morning. We nerds need to find more opportunities to shake hands, catch rolled eyes, hear laughter and wave goodbye to make our ideas, insights and interest tangible.
I enjoyed by this post from PSFK on social network realization. Good stuff to put into practice.
The Monk dog has a gift for imitating my mood. We both are making good use of the first Sunday in a long time without a long training run. Slept in, made coffee, stood on my back porch while Monk tracked squirrels and I contemplated installing a bird feeder. Then it was back inside to scour Bloglines, my version of the morning paper. When I'm on my computer, Monk's head is normally on my thigh/lap. Much to his annoyance, I moved, which obviously called for a dramatic yawn, a few paces around the office, and now back to his doggy bed, where he's found a rawhide bone. So, we're enjoying the human/canine version of a lazy Sunday morning. The Houston Marathon is a week away. By this time next Sunday, God and lactic acid willing, I'll be nearing the end of my marathon and Monk will be pacing the kennel at his doggy hotel.
Sitting here with coffee, poached egg whites and a snoring dog, I'm thinking about preparation.
I read a great post from The Final Sprint blog this morning. On Lance Armstrong's preparation and now rough recovery from the great one's New York City Marathon. Titled, "A Classic Case of Too Much, Too Soon?" the post goes through Lance's less-than appropriate marathon training, his successful sub-3:00 finish (punk) and the stress fracture he now has to nurse. I'm a big fan of Lance, but I'm stumped by how such a successful endurance athlete could have ignored one of the biggest tenants of endurance sports: preparation.
Lance's much-publicized training program included a long run of only 13 miles, according to his ex-wife Kirstin, who wrote a great wrap-up in this month's Runner's World (not available online) titled "Oh. My. God. Ouch. Terrible." after Lance's post-finish text message. I require at least four 16-plus mile runs, normally two of those are 20 miles or more, to prepare for a marathon. Even more puzzling is how Lance's training program (assembled, I'm only guessing, by some of the world's best training/medical minds) didn't account for the bone density build-up marathoners must complete to manage the impact stress on the musculoskeletal system. It's almost a beginner's mistake, which really baffles me.
Lance's story is a good example that all of us, in any field or endeavor, must allow for preparation. It's a necessary part of success, but one that, in our rush-rush culture, often is cut short. We seek the action. The moment. The payoff. The "finish." Ignoring the necessary steps, trading details for shortcuts is irresponsible. Irresponsible to your client, your business or your co-workers. What are your professional versions of Lance's stress fracture? What are the goals, big and small, for which you must constantly prepare?
Recently, I've been thinking about social responsibility, both corporate social responsibility and my own responsible choices as a consumer. The first step was to ask myself, as a consumer and marketer, what social responsibility means. I kept going back to two qualifiers, priority and longevity of impact. Those seem to work both for judging a brand's social responsibility and a consumer's commitment to a cause. CSR can get a bad rap, oftentimes simply because a cause program or brand can't demonstrate the priority or impact of its social stance. Consumers aren't held to as high a public standard, so we get off relatively easy. So I started thinking in terms of brands and their social priorities?
I'd love some feedback here, as to what brands you recognize making an issue or cause a true priority. I'll fall back on one of my favorites, Patagonia. Since its founding, Patagonia has been tied directly to the environment, not as a marketing program or initiative, but as a way of life. A part of the employee and brand DNA.
Priority: Does the brand live its cause/social issue? If I crashed the company HQ, would I see a culture that embraces the cause? Or does the cause live only within the walls of the marketing department. If I met an employee at a bar, would that employee get excited - or even be aware - of what his or her employer has deemed an initiative?
Impact: Does the initiative/cause/charitable interaction truly enact positive change? Are the hands that hold a large check presentation callused with hands-on effort? And what is the longevity of the impact? Was the initiative set up to buckle down and impact an issue, or will the whole dang thing be forgotten in a year's time?
I'm already predicting I'll spend a good deal of 2007 blogging on emotion. If I can focus on one thing, as a marketer, this year, it will be emotion. At its core, CSR is emotional. Brands stick their necks out to take a stance on sometimes polarizing issues/causes. No matter how far those necks are exposed, a cause is always connected to consumers' emotions. The great brands have identified what matters to (or seek input from) consumers. They've created social priorities, not just programs. They share emotion with consumers.
Two recent examples have energized my thoughts on this topic. The first, relating to my beloved Apple brand.
In the past week, I've bought a new MacBook, visited the Apple store twice and received a new Mac as a work computer. So I was especially in tune with the brand when the "Green My Apple" campaign from Greenpeace came to my attention. Emotion played an instant role in my impression of this campaign - before sense or logic even entered into the equation. I'm a die-hard Apple brand loyalist. I'm also growing much more passionate about my environment and my role as a greener consumer.
As with most anti-brand campaigns (Note: Greenpeace does not call this a campaign against Apple), one has to search hard for both sides of the story. And as with most anti-brand campaigns, the side that harnesses emotion normally wins. Oftentimes with facts aside. First impressions matter.
First impression scorecard for this campaign: Big score for Greenpeace in creating a nice parody site, and providing lots and lots of ways consumers can interact should they choose. Big fumble for Apple, as it's innovative image is marred by its lack of action compared to its much less technologically innovative brand peers. Spike in the end zone for Greenpeace, which understood its audience (hip, young, creative, viral) better, it seems, than Apple on this issue.
On to another example of brand priority, Starbucks' treatment of Ethiopian farmers. Oxfam launched the "Day of Action" to raise awareness for the 3 cents Ethiopian farmers make on branded "Ethiopian" coffee. Watch this video first.
Starbucks, to its credit, utilized YouTube to post its response.
Now, as a professional communicator, I am impressed with what I imagine is Coffee Team head Dub Hay's ability to read printed cue cards. Nice response. Well written. And, though he takes a page out of "How to be interviewed on camera/always look at the interviewer," he is less than emotional. Kudos for joining the fray, but you're Starbucks! Take a film crew to Ethiopia and show me, don't read to me. Engage me, make me stand next to your spokesperson.
Facts aside (and again, I was impressed by Starbucks response), if you're going with emotion, Oxfam wins.
Two social issues. Both campaigns deal with more than CSR (Apple and Starbucks have admirable CSR/environmental programs). These campaigns deal with Starbucks' and Apple's social priorities. They deal with emotion. Pictures of the affected. Heartstrings. You get the drift.
From a crisis communications standpoint, both brands would benefit from grabbing onto these issues and making the necessary changes or explanation a priority. Both scenarios are great illustrations of a "crisis" where neither brand has yet lost the reputation game. Both are great opportunities for these brands to prioritize their social outreach and in turn, build a relationship with a group of passionate consumers.
Where do the brands you champion stand on social issues? Are they doing the minimum to play the field, or have they prioritized an effort to the point it is ingrained in your overall brand impression? Are you proud to hold that to-go cup or wear that shirt? Have you purchased products to support your own social priorities?