Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Key Insights on Ways Cloud Computing is Changing Marketing

I was lucky enough to catch the closing keynote given by David Kenny, President of Akamai Technologies and former ad man at Digitas.

He gave a fast-paced review of how cloud computing will make marketers more like storm chasers. “The speed of change is only going to quicken, not 10 times or 20 times, but more like 300 times with cloud computing." More shareables from David:

Speed. You can download the entire Library of Congress in 45 seconds.
By next year it will be 30 seconds. As he explains it, saving someone 10 seconds per transaction has market value.

Motion. In 10 years everything is going to be portable—tv and life will merge online. Video format will be THE platform. Getting it right in video formats is key. Currently there are 700 million Internet video watchers and they watch on average 10 minutes a day.

Picture screens. Expect more screens. Life is a high definition experience with a 500-fold increase in the need for servers in the last year. Hi-def is going into lots more locations where people dwell—screens will be in oil change shops, hair salons, and cafés.

Kenny is staggered by how much consumption of information goes up every week. While he believes there is enough economics into it to keep going for a while, there is no doubt that the Internet is replacing TV.

His advice to people in advertising and marketing: “If you want to be here 10 years from now, set a goal to move swiftly. Have a healthy respect for speed."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Top 5 Ways to Stay Relevant in a Hi-Def World

Yesterday, I dropped into OMMA Global for a few sessions during ADWEEK. I was lucky enough to catch the closing keynote given by David Kenny, President of Akamai Technologies and former ad man at Digitas.

Kenny forecasts a world lived in hi-def super-surround. Screens will be everywhere, filling our dwell time. He offered these tips for staying relevant for anxious marketing folks worried they’ll never keep up with the speed of change:
1. Stories still rule. Creative economy = good stories. No algorithm can replace the power of a good story. Human beings love story, pure and simple. Take heart young poets.
2. People will program their own experience. Media planners will become publishers (curating content).
3. ROT will be the new measure—Return on Time. Invest your time wisely—11 seconds per transaction (or less) is the current global gold standard.
4. Make yourself sticky with technology skills and sense of scale (his term for AMBITION, I think) are the new clout. These will make you sticky.
5. Use humans wisely. Anything that can be done by a server can be and should be. Clouds are better managed by servers than humans. Strive to write and curate the stories. The rest can be managed by servers that work 24/7 and never complain.

His kicker: Without technology at the center of a service business it will be hard to be competitive given the rate of change. Why? It’s just not scalable.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ADWEEK--Innovators Forum

I'm here in New York City for ADWEEK. I just finished giving my keynote and now I'm listening to Will Lester from TRG Market Research who is sharing recent data about cultural consumers. Here's what he's seeing:
1. Growth--Among 25 million households they track, highest growth in new audiences is among marrieds with children.
2. Attrition--66% of single ticket buyers come once and never return. One out of three new ticket buyers will remain loyal.
"How do we make our seats stickier?"
3. Old marketing tools or new? Makes an argument that direct mail is still be valuable, because cultural consumers are also readers. But targeting needs to be re-considered.

Monday, September 27, 2010

ADWEEK in NYC--Bring it On!

People in the ad business know it’s ailing. I’m eager to take its temperature during ADWEEK beginning today. It’s strange. The nostalgia of Mad Men has put a sheen on an ailing industry reviving its cultural significance. At the same time, the current day Don Draper, a.k.a Alex Bogusky, up and left the industry this month. Poof. No explanation, no announced plans.

No matter what anybody says, New York’s advertising scene still matters. I travel a lot. But it’s been awhile since I’ve been to Gotham. My taxi arrived at the crack of dawn and as I trundled through security at O’Hare, I felt a certain giddy anticipation. I guess I’m excited to be sharing ideas with others like me who work at the intersection of art, entertainment and marketing. Trust me, it’s a niche-y niche.

Here’s the cast of characters:
Ed Cassidy, Vice President, Communications & Event Marketing, USA TODAY
Josh Lesnick, President and CEO, Audience Rewards
Will Lester, Vice President, TRG
Jim Royce, Director of Marketing and Communications and Sales, Center Theatre Group
Damian Bazadona, President, Situation Interactive
Trish Santini, External Relations Director, The Guthrie Theater
Gretchen Shugart, CEO,
Ray Cullom, Managing Director, Long Wharf Theatre
Rose Polidoro, Founder, Rose Polidoro Enterprise, Inc.
Donna Walker-Kuhne, President, Walker International Communications Group
Susan Lee, Chief Marketing Officer, Nederlander Producing Company of America
Bruce E. Whitacre, Executive Director, National Corporate Theatre Fund

Friday, September 24, 2010

Broadway Bound - Getting Ready for ADWEEK 2010

Photo by Jeff Kubina
It’s one of those moments in your career where you pause and take stock. I want to savor this moment to myself. I am packing my bags for ADWEEK in New York. On Tuesday, I’ll address a group of entertainment marketers. We’ll be hashing out how to reach the next generation of cultural consumers. My keynote is titled Why the Future Needs Theatre: Attracting the Renaissance Generation.

The ever-visionary Bruce Whitacre of the National Corporate Theatre Fund is behind this gathering of live entertainment gurus. He’s helping theatre producers look down the road to future audiences. His conspirator is the intrepid Susan Lee, Vice President of Marketing at Nederlander.

Susan is the brains behind Visa’s sponsorship of Movin’ Out on Broadway, on tour and in Japan, as well as launching Season of Savings and Tuesdays at 7. She is the founder of Camp Broadway®, a national theatre arts program, and ShowTrans®, an audio service providing multilingual commentary for non-English speaking audiences attending Broadway shows. Her track record takes your breath away.

I stand in front of the mirror and hold up suits - the grey...too corporate, the navy...too frumpy, the hot pink wool number I picked up in Paris for a song…maybe too flashy? The trouble is that it all fits, and nothing fits. Just like these times we live in.

I am going to New York to address one of the most ancient businesses of all time—live theatre—as it coexists in the digital culture.

So, which costume is right for that performance?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Will Paul Mitchell Inspire the RenGen?

Paul Mitchell and Patron Spirits caught my eye with their online and tv commercial campaign entitled "What Inspires You". The series of commercials involves contemporary culture-changers Corey Duffel, Takashi Kitamura, and Bboy Junior performing their unique talents and ends with the question, “What inspires you?”

The commercial series also includes a PSA featuring the multi-faceted people involved in some of the many non-profits that Paul Mitchell supports, with the tag “Giving back inspires us. What inspires you?”

What a great campaign, right? It’s got some offbeat star power, it speaks to a young audience who increasingly demand social responsibility from the brands they support, it embraces the culture of creativity, it’s visually stunning and beautifully directed by Steven Lippman…

Then I tried to answer the question they pose…and I realized that there's no interactivity. Beyond commenting on the videos on YouTube or Vimeo, there's no way to answer the question as a consumer - at least, not that I can find. The Paul Mitchell website doesn’t even address the campaign – the only mention of it is a tiny item in their news section with a link to the PSA.

I find it mystifying that they'd run this whole campaign based around a question, “What inspires you?” without some way for people to participate. There are people out there who want to make a 30-second Steven-Lippman-style video of their own talent. There are people who would love to write in their story and have Paul Mitchell tweet that their project sounds cool. There are people, like me, who are curious to see what inspirations people share, and find inspiration in the conversation.

Did Paul Mitchell miss an opportunity for consumers to engage with their brand? I’d love to hear another perspective.

--Submitted by Guest Blogger Ellen Willett

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ford Fiesta’s Social Media Campaign Explodes on YouTube

Ford Motor keeps pushing the envelope with its Fiesta relaunch campaign. The new YouTube video got 2 million hits in three days.

I’m not a big fan of auto racing. In fact, the opposite is true. Still, I have to admire how Ford continues to woo young buyers for its new Fiesta subcompact with a video that features rally car racer Ken Block in a Fiesta drifting, spinning and burning rubber. Note the track is in France, a nuance that lends cachet to the vid. The YouTube clip went from 300 viewers Monday night to more than 2.3 million Thursday afternoon. Wow!

Word of mouth has also been cultivated well for the Fiesta using social media. "Buyers are interested in what their friends have to say versus the official message," said analyst Stephanie Brinley of EMC Strategic Communications in Troy.

Read The Detroit News article.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Talk About Abstract Things in Concrete Ways

I collect metaphors and similes. I find them powerful communicators because they help the listener or reader form a mental picture, penetrating the imagination. My latest find was in GQ Magazine. (I read it mainly because I don’t understand men very well.) This one's from Alan Richman’s guide to ordering wine:
“The sommerlier pours. You sip. You hesitate. Good move. Never say yes to a wine until you're sure it's sound. Try it a second time. A third, minutes later, if you still have doubts. Like sex on a first date, you'll regret it if you're not sure.”
Next time you have a presentation to give or proposal to write, dig deep for some metaphors. You’ll own the room.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Is the Must-have College Major?

Fall means back to school. For 20-somethings it means back to college. And for college seniors, it means, “OMG!--time to figure our how to get a job when this is over.“

I have a neighbor who changed his major 5 times during undergrad. Just about everyone I know changed majors at least twice in search of something that would lead to a career they could love. But as the marketplace continues to look like a marshy delta, I wonder if colleges and universities will adapt? Will new majors appear?

Here’s an interesting idea about majoring in persuasion. Persuasion is evergreen. Who doesn’t need to know how to sell? It got me thinking.

Knowing what you know now, if you could invent a must-have college major, what would it be?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What’s On Your ‘What Makes You Happy’ List?

Will consumers keep cocooning? Yes, but not on the same scale. The research points toward downsizing. Acquiring kitchen gadgets and appliances will be on an as-needed basis.

Architects are seeing an uptick in requests for 900 sq. ft. home designs. So, has America fallen out of love with bigger is better? Less is mo’ betta’?

Perhaps so. Still, when I think about the room I love most, when I consider how people still crowd into a kitchen at every party, I have to believe that at least people will remain wedded to their kitchens. After all, kitchens make us happy.

I made a list of items that make me happy. I’m keeping everything in my kitchen on my list.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Micro-Sponsorship Makes a Movie

The new documentary Ahead of Time, by Bob Richman, will debut in L.A. later this month and its creators are experimenting with micro-sponsorship online. The film’s content is powerful. It chronicles the life of the incomparable Ruth Gruber, who is now 99. She defied gender barriers, earning a PhD at age 20. By the age of 24, she was the first journalist to explore the Soviet Arctic, and during WWI escorted Holocaust refugees to America at the request of President Roosevelt. Her photographs of Holocaust victims became the eyes and conscience of the world and helped galvanize resolve around the world.

The film's website invites post-production sponsorship. All sponsors, no matter the range, receive a film credit. A form of micro-philanthropy, it’s enabled by PayPal. I continue to find it an intriguing model for artists. It’s premised on seeking support after people have seen the work, or at the very least the trailer. When people are emotionally connected to a powerful story it’s a way of coaxing beneficence in a fair exchange—entertain me, entrance me, uplift my soul and that has a value. It harkens back to street performers. What’s old is new. I hope it takes off. The digital culture will be better for it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Summer’s ended. Always a bit of a shock isn’t it?  I never squeeze in enough beach time. Still, I had a rockin’ summer. Many adventures, I'm happy to say. Here's my little report: What I Did On My Summer Vacation—The Top 10. Pix included. Enjoy!
1. Most contemplative audience: American Association of Museums, June
I spoke on a panel about Digital Culture and the Future of Museums in Los Angeles, emceed by Mark Hayward. He's one of our most traveled Culture Scouts. Audience seems to be taking social media very seriously.

2. Most tender moment: Watching my daughter graduate from high school, June
The afternoon garden party we threw for her got rained on. Still, people were crammed into my kitchen until midnight. Her uncle texted me from O’Hare on the way back to Atlanta: “We had a blast. So much love, so much.” Indeed. 

3. Most hands-on, hilarious, and happy audience: Junior Achievement Leadership, July
What is it about people who work with young entrepreneurs? The ever-ebullient JA crowd is one of my favorite groups to address. We can’t seem to get enough of each other!

4. Best beach moment: Laguna CA, July
I hung out at Crystal Cove near Laguna Beach. It’s an artist’s colony—or, used to be. Now it’s being turned into a state-run tourist destination. My guide, Nancy Griffin, showed me the weathered surfer shack she once lived in. We ate lunch on the beach and talked about what it's like to come into your own.

5. Best meal: Wasabi guacamole with taro chips. July
Queen Mother Café, Toronto. Asian meets pub grub. OMG!

6. Most interesting new friend: Amy Alkon, July
Meet Amy the Advice Goddess. She drives a pink Nash. Dates the assistant to Elmore Leonard. Dishes out love advice for a living and can set you straight on all those prickly love questions: What do you do when the guy’s a bad kisser? Here we are at the AAN conference where I spoke.

7. Rising star new friend:
Nina Simon

Meet Nina Simon. She wrote the book on museum participation. Now she wants to open her own brew pub in Santa Cruz. She hopes to use it as a lab for experiments in social participation. She’s an up-and-coming cultural phenom I intend to watch.

8. Best down time: cabin, Pine Lake in Marcellus, MI, Aug
I took a silent retreat in Michigan. My soul has been thanking me ever since. Now if I could only train it to type!

9. Weirdest weather fact: Festivals all got rain
It rained at every outdoor festival I attended, from the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair to Chicago's Ribfest. Here I'm taking shots of Those Darlins, the y'all-ternative girl band whose "Wild One" has become a viral hit. 

10. Happiest glint: Riding my bike along Lake Michigan after work
We tend to measure life by its big juicy moments--births, weddings, book launches, major business pitches. But this summer, I paid attention to the not-so-big moments. I taught myself to savor the glints of light that sparkle in between the bigs. Pictured is my trusty vintage Raleigh.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Urban Pioneer

Photo by EmergingArtist
Having been an urban pioneer, I have a soft spot for the personality type. It means re-jiggering your center of gravity as you walk against the tides that might sweep you and children out into the provincial suburbs. Which is, by the way, where we ended up.

After years of gutting it out, organizing to get our alley repaved so our kids could ride bikes free of drive-by shootings, for instance, I finally hit my limit. One summer day, I was walking with my toddler in hand and cradling my newborn when I stumbled into a drug deal. What followed, Quentin Tarantino couldn’t make up. My son would later write an award-winning short story about it in college.

The recent article in the New York Times by Roberta Brandes Gratz, whom I very much dig by the way, makes the case for organic diversity. You’ve seen it--when gritty artists and enthusiastic urbanists stake their claim to bedraggled, dangerous neighborhoods and remake them. Humanely, I’ll add. When developers move in, you get something very different. Expensive, sterile and unremarkable.

As Labor Day nears, I toast the power of creative people who toil to make a world we all want to live in.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Love Affair Continues

Loyal readers know this: I love public libraries. That’s why we jump at a chance to work on library-related projects. Also, because there are more libraries in America than there are McDonald’s stores, we always learn something about the culture.

We just launched a new website for the FINRA Foundation’s Smart Investing @ Your Library initiative with ALA. We gathered success stories from the grantees, then we synthesized the lessons learned into tips and tools to make it easy to replicate the project’s success. Patric King, our brilliant visual design partner, dressed the content up to make it pretty to look at—not to mention worthy of the hard work of these devoted librarians.

Here’s what we learned:

Americans really struggle to understand the concept of money. Seriously. And there are scant places for people to go and learn about investing or saving money that won’t also fleece them.

The libraries featured on the site share uplifting stories. They all went from having a passive collection of reference books sitting on a shelf, to becoming catalysts--reaching out into their communities to collaborate with other public-serving agencies to offer up life-changing information. See for yourself.

Love your library?

Tell somebody.