Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Jon Stewart

When a stand-up comic becomes America's most trusted news source, we know we have entered a new era. Jon Stewart is 45 today. Middle-age has brought him greater confidence which gives him chutzpah, silver hair which gives him gravitas, and a seasoned sense of irony that is one of the alleged benefits of maturity. Alas, Stewart has gone a little soft, though. Whether it is the writers strike or what, the Daily Show's content has followed the regrettable path of major news--it's become more about Hollywood celebrities than mock hard news. Rumor has it, Stewart's producer recently took some dissing for rarely booking women authors and experts on the show. So this week, Claire Danes and Halle Berry will be featured. Ms. Berry will discuss the news in Iraq. Ms. Danes will talk about her latest book on the economic implications of the mortgage crisis. Happy Birthday, Jon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keeping It Fresh

Ben and Hall Smyth have short attention spans. But then, doesn't everybody? The brothers opened their 400-square foot storefront in Manhattan premised on a simple concept--change is good. Welcome to Grand Opening, a business venture that completely overhauls its space every few months. It's been a drive-in theatre with a '64 Ford Falcon parked in the space, and home to a Ping-Pong tournament. Next up, a Holiday Office Party for those without an office. Grand Opening has a lesson for all brands, namely, that as more consumers seek experiences that are wrapped in ideas, the quicker they will consume them and look for the next, next thing. By making their venture all about the churn, the Smyth brothers keep themselves in sync with consumer demand, rather than playing catch-up. As the RenGen gathers force, it will heighten consumer appetities for innovation and high-concept design. Think about one place, one element of your marketing that can embrace this speed churn and exploit it. Better yet, get your customers to collaborate to add their own creative content to keep it fresh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Doritos Tries to Make a Difference

As business and social interests fuse, new cause-marketing models are emerging. Take for example Doritos partnership with Do Something Good--which is primarily an online organization with a powerhouse Board comprised of packaged goods executives, media experts and venture capitalists. The goal of Do Something Good is to promote good works among youth and celebrities. It's partnership with Doritos includes on-pack recognition for young activitists who make a difference in their communities. The salty-snack company also makes mini-grants of $500 to young people to support their philanthropic projects. This populist approach to cause-marketing is exciting, since it democratizes good works, making it possible for everyday kids to get support for their projects.

What's not clear, is how many of these grants Doritos is planning to give away, or what the bigger picture is in the future. Will Doritos foment a movement, or merely skim the surface with a promotion that is cause-like? What is emerging is a category of cause-marketers looking to ride the wave of social concern and win instant relevance among the RenGen. It will be interesting to see how the American consumer adapts. Will they continue their commitment to the brands that have been in the game longer and have promoted more enduring ties? (Target and Yoplait come to mind.) Or will they embrace messages about making a difference in the world no matter what? My prediction is like begets like. The greater the commitment, the more loyalty the brand earns. More is more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grateful Spread

I am at my sister's home in Rochester, NY. Our children are near in age and have always frolicked when we gather. Now they are teenagers, yet still seem to click. My oldest took the train in from Vermont to join us. My sister and I are baking and cooking ourselves into a euphoric twirl; the wine helps. Every corner of the house smells of garlic and sage. I am so grateful. No matter what the conditions of our lives, or the world, when I am in the bosom of my family there is always enough love to go around. Same to you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Library Marketing Cuts Loose

Wyoming libraries launched a brilliant marketing campaign this fall. It fuses iconography with pop culture and renders the library brand fun, funny, and relevant. Since OCLC released its Perceptions Study on what library users think of libraries, "books are the brand," has become the mantra among people in libraryland. Wyoming's clever campaign builds on that research. The campaign is being chatted about on business blogs, most especially marketing blogs. So, now it's sticky and has crossover. Look for more discussion from the business community about well-executed marketing campaigns from educational and cultural organizations. For the RenGen, it's hip to be smart.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blog Sponsorship Model Emerges

Joseph Jaffe did it. He developed an integrated sponsorship deal with the U. S. Postal Service centered on Jaffe's blog. The deal bundles an online component including Podcasts, plus print ads, along with what looks like a subscription-based model for Deliver Magazine that may lead to other content for Jaffe, as well. This deal confirms my commentary from last week where I forecast this shift. Bloggers are a savvy, hearty bunch. They will pioneer more than just editorial content, they will break new trails in advertising and sponsorship models, as well. Cool deal, Joe.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We've moved

After a hectic week, we are proud to say we have a new home at 444 N. Michigan Ave. For those of you living far from Chicago, this may mean very little to you. But Michigan Avenue has a certain cache to it. A la-de-dah aura to which I never really aspired. What's more is I am tired of moving. I moved my household twice this year. It makes me grumpy taking hours to cull through stuff that takes you down this path of, "Oh my gosh I had completely forgotten about this!" But now that we are here? I'm thrilled. Great cityscape views with a slice of lake view. Thanks to Spudart for the photo of window washers at our new home: 444 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611. Phone is the same: 312-283-5995.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How Much is a Blogger Worth? A Sponsorship Model's on the Horizon

The recent scuttle-butt over Huffington Post's position against paying bloggers points up a bigger issue about the creative wellspring that the RenGen is channeling. Simply, there is too much content out there. And not all of it is crap. In fact, by sinking hours into their daily blogs, a new legion of writers is emerging. Attuned to the crisp, plucky style of the web, these bloggers have created impressive audiences. What's more important, is that they've sharpened their skills to rapier effect and HuffPo has figured that out. So has main stream media. A fellow blogger emailed me last week and asked me if she should take an offer from Business Week to convert her blog into and BW-branded blog. I asked--What's in it for you? Notoriety, expanded audience, imprimatur were all good answers she gave me. Any money? No word yet. For now, bloggers may be relegated to a class of hobbyists who add spice to the established media. The real journalists get paid for their pieces. But as the influence of the blogosphere grows, its organizing power may see the rise of a reverse cartel that sets pricing for intellectual property, not just eyeballs. Bloggers will start collaborating on price setting and will factor in the tangible (so much $ per word) and the intangible (prestige of the author and ability to draw an audience worthy of advertisers). Transactionally, it will resemble a sponsorship model, where a sponsor pays to make certain quality media available to readers and create an emotional bond with authentic community spokespersons.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Best Blog Conferences

Liz Strauss's annual SOB Conference was recently ranked in the Top 10 Blogger Conferences. I always find Liz's simple, no-bologna style refreshing. She attended my book launch party in Chicago last month and was highly engaging. Congrats, Liz. You've worked very hard for your success. Bloggers Derrick Sorrles and Karen Hanrahan were also in attendence. Both very successful bloggers.
Liz Strauss (left) shoots straight with me (right).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

ChangeThis Publishes The RenGen Manifesto

I am overwhelmed. Well, nearly. A few weeks ago, I submitted a proposal to the folks at requesting that they publish my manifesto on the RenGen: Renaissance Generation, based on my new book. ChangeThis has been a thought leader and provacateur website since 2005, when it was conceived by Seth Godin. Now owned by 1800CEORead, the editorial and design team continues to publish thought provoking manifestos for the business community. I later learned they get a lot of proposals. Their online community votes for the ideas they think are worthy of manifestos. Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell and many other notable authors have published ChangeThis manifestos. So I am honored right down to my toes to be among this class of thinkers.

Monday, November 5, 2007

RenGen Winner: Philips Global

Philips has a new website that is bang-on RenGen. The site encourages people to do their part to diminish global warming with one simple act: changing to flourescent lightbulbs. So what? The ideal that individuals can turn the tides of major problems by doing what they can, taking back control one transaction at a time, is very RenGen. Notice the woman. She's not a Vogue model or a Hollowood celebrity. She's your neighbor or your yoga instructor at the YMCA. Imperfectly authentic. The site is smart, clean and inspiring.