Monday, April 30, 2007

"we have a crisis"

oh man...if you haven't seen last week's "Office," get it from iTunes, or check out the two-minute recap. i'm pretty sure the video will start showing up in many a PR capabilities deck. or in "how to address your consumers via youtube" presentations.


where do you pull your insights?

right now, my job seems to be all about insight. and i love it. from pulling information to build strategy for clients to digging deeper into consumer mindsets, info gathering is tying up some serious RAM on my computer. surveys. research. trends. etc.

i can spend a lot of time combing for very little. i guess it's the process of panning for that one fleck of gold, right?

last night, however, i was in the middle of an amazing un-focus group and found myself sitting and listening contently as a group I don't really fit in with engaged and buzzed around a dinner party. in addition to a group of folks my age, about 20 younger people gathered. they were in their very early 20s, some in college, some taking their own paths. but they were the most interesting and hope-filled group of kids I've ever been around. it was refreshing to listen to them discuss current events and brands and places in our world. it was more interesting to observe how they interact with each other - unaided.

that age group ties its social interactions tightly to the Web. but it was amazing to see how the fast-paced, quick-soundbite conversations the Web encourages translated into face-to-face communication. it was easy to see - in real life - how news spreads and WOM grows conversations. most incredible was how tightly their social webs were woven within the group...i don't remember my peers and friends being that close to each other.

i know i sound prematurely old here, but some of us fogies in the group just sat on the porch wide eyed as the party unfolded. the evening came at a good time for another reason. after the virginia tech shootings and yesterday's mall shootings in KC, I've been left with a pretty sad feel for our society - especially the society in which younger folks are growing up. just being around such a vibrant group gave me some hope. the kids, as they say, were more than alright.

the evening was a great reminder to get out and pull my learnings from the real world. while it's irresponsible to look for insight solely from third parties, i don't think many of us in marketing get out and truly watch. focus groups aren't enough. they are great for certain purposes, but aren't organic enough to truly expose natural communication. so get out. find your people. sneak into their worlds, or better yet, work to include yourself. the gold will come to the surface pretty quickly.

listening to - Cassadaga, Bright Eyes. this will easily be a top album of mine from 2007. buy it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Banjo, ice penguins and little touches

I'm in Wichita for client meetings and just got back from a run through the city's "Old Town." It's a nice area, surrounded by an area you don't really want to run through at 5:45. Stayed at the brand new Courtyard, which actually managed to impress me with the little touches included in the room.

Free wireless (when will this be a cost of entry?) that started up quickly the moment I launched my browser. IPod-compatible bedside radio and a little "sounds of nature" console that you can set to "ocean," "waterfall" or "wet the bed." There's a Dunn Brothers Coffee attached, and the best thing: the newness. I'm a fan of knowing only four months of very bad things have happened in this room, as opposed to years and years. Yes, I'm one of those kinds of travelers.

Everything was great until I got back to my room and was forced to listen to the local NPR station's spring fund drive, which consisted of off-the-cuff songwriting paired with banjo playing. Horrible. And it keeps going. I'm not sure who it is that keeps finger picking measures of annoyance, but he's making me want to turn the radio off, not pledge. I think it's one of those very intelligent fund-raising tactics in which the fund raiser hopes to get donations to end the
inconvenience. How about ending the banjo?

And now, for the ice penguins. A nice Earth Day week reminder.

Back to the radio, how bout some live blogging of the lyrics? Share in the pain.

" pals won't you call in today/make us a pledge/please don't delay...978-6700."

and the encore, sung to the tune of "This Land is My Land":

"...this station's your station, this station's my station, with music and news from (pause) all over our nation, the only catch is, they need your pledges...this station's here for you and me."

i'm going to turn the waterfall on again, and call to pledge the remainder of the goal.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Agency promotional marketing that works

via josh spear, this excellent agency "stunt" if you can even call it that, works on a number of levels. "Green" marketing agency novaS/B has found a way to communicate its agency culture, client's soul and overall world view in an impacting way that doesn't come across as shallow/self-serving as many agency promotions. Here's a picture of the agency's parking lot.

and here's the company's parking lot after it added an image backdrop of the 385 trees planted on its behalf in Rio de Janeiro through a carbon-emissions exchange program.

kudos all around. love it.

Agency promotional marketing that works

via josh spear, this excellent agency "stunt" if you can even call it that, works on a number of levels. "Green" marketing agency novaS/B has found a way to communicate its agency culture, client's soul and overall world view in an impacting way that doesn't come across as shallow/self-serving as many agency promotions. Here's a picture of the agency's parking lot.

and here's the company's parking lot after it added an image backdrop of the 385 trees planted on its behalf in Rio de Janeiro through a carbon-emissions exchange program.

kudos all around. love it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

with friends like these...

my friend rebecca, who is the founder of the HALO Foundation, just sent an e-mail to promote a new movie, Rigged, which she stars in. awesome. check out the trailer. as if starting a successful foundation isn't enough, she does her rump kickery/acting in this movie. make sure you check it out if it comes to your area.

Monday, April 16, 2007

i'll give you a nor'easter

NOTE: Not sure why all my freakin' photos disappeared. if anyone knows anything about why this might have happened, leave me a comment. sorry!

i'm sitting in a corner of a wall in boston's logan airport, plugged into the only outlet i've found to power up my laptop. the good news is, i'm nicely hidden by a 5-foot-tall dunkin' donuts cup, which makes me want some coffee.

i'm stuck. and now jonesin' for some joe. i'm delayed because of the insane storms that have blasted the northeast on this, the 111th running of the boston marathon (which i came to watch my father run). the weather people have blamed this weekend's 40 mph winds and torrential rain on a little thing called nor'easter...but i can't figure out why jesus, or the bunny would want to be associated with this early spring pain in the ass. nor'easter not only soaked us to the bone as we watched the marathon, it flooded streets and gave the marathoners even more of a challenge than is traditionally offered by heartbreak hill or the qualifying times they must receive to run boston.

but more importantly, the darn weather has grounded my flight. it's now five hours late. i have a meeting in wichita tomorrow, which i must drive to early in the morning. i'm nor'ticked off. mostly, though, i'm sort of nor'annoyed with my lack of control over the situation. usually i love being granted unscheduled free time. i've been working on a number of things over the past few hours and drinking some crappy wine at the sam adams bar (he's not there), so that's ok...but i hate being stuck. i hate the feeling. it's like tom hanks in that absurd movie "the terminal" where it seems is the only terminal where TSA regulation and Homeland Security laws don't exist. i wonder what would happened if i went to the men's room and started washing my sweater. or making a fountain for catherine zeta jones. or developing a fake accent. i didn't like that movie.

anyway...i'm sitting here in the shadow of a giant coffee cup and the guy next to me is fighting with his wife via bluetooth earpiece, which, as soon as i turned down my iPod, became a better source of entertainment. apparently, nor'easter is somehow her fault. another wonder of technology is that once i fired up my iTunes and iChat, iQuickly found some people that must also be in my similar situation (have a mac, are stranded and hidden by a giant coffee cup). i sort of want to chat with them..."hey, this sucks. wanna do some shots at the Legal Seafood next to the Continental desk?"

it all balances out though. i had a wonderful time in boston. got to hang out with my partner in idea crime, tango quite a bit. in addition to planning world domination, we partied. here we are at Saint.

and this is me singing a richard marx song with alycia in the basement of some late-night pizza joint.

ate at an excellent pizza joint, cambridge 1. one of those places where everyone around me is 10 times more intelligent than i. i guess there are many of those places...but the pizza is good, even for the common liberal arts grad.

and at one of the best chill bars ever - enormous room. some photos...i loved the dj booth - it's within the brick wall at the end of the room. the whole place is covered in oriental rugs. people sit on the floor and on raised and pillowed platforms.


battle of the self-taking pictures.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

proud of my pa

my father was profiled for today's issue of the Lawrence Journal-World. an excellent article, and well-deserved for the work he's put in and the passion he exudes as a runner. he's headed to boston today for monday's marathon. i couldn't be prouder to be a son.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fair trade and your morning jolt

i really can't add much commentary to this: Black Gold. the trailer and site will speak for itself. i will suggest you spend some time with this issue. dig in, watch the trailer, and figure out how you can view it on your local public television station. KC folk, it'll show tonight at 10 on KCPT.

fair trade, sustainability and social consciousness are all top of mind right now - and thankfully so. we are in an exciting time period and one that necessitates awareness and action. things like this movie further add to that momentum. and while facing down global warming is daunting, it's not that hard to make an impact in your own corner of the world...could be as simple as walking across the street to hit up a coffee shop that serves fair trade instead of the regular stuff. or buying your home brew from a retailer featuring a selection of organic, fair trade beans. or simply watching this movie and thinking about the issue.

doing nothing is a lot harder than doing something. big or small, you'll feel better about your impact on your world. one very practical way to impact your world is buy changing your purchasing decisions. there are a ton of better options out place i'm diggin' is two hands worldshop. they have some great fair-trade goods with the convenience of online shopping. one little change, one little purchasing decision and you've made a difference.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I never!

very few times in my short marketing career have i been involved in such a great client/project/creative as i have with houlihan's.

not only do the clients welcome wild ideas, but the brand is just friggin' great. one of the outcomes of our relationship is an online game we here at SHS (and by "we" i mean some really dang talented creatives) developed: I never. based on the classic drinking/social game, you will have fun playing on your own, or gathering a group around the computer/linking up with friends.

not that i am endorsing wasting your company's time, but this is a heckuva way to make your friday fly by!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Green Marketing Blog

check this out. greenormal, by John Grant. i haven't read through it extensively, but i dig the concept.

via russell davies

also, on a random note, i saw "blades of glory" yesterday and it was not good. not sure how i couldn't love it, especially considering the cast. wondering what other people thought.