Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lose your beer? Find another one...

Traveling and looking for a good beer? No problem...


Monday, January 30, 2006

The New Experience Economy

Ripped this link via another link from Johnny Moore's blog...great read.


The Future of the Other Mobile Marketing

My friend Benji in LA turned me on to this on Saturday...he's the kind of geek that gets excited about this sort of thing.

Around here, if you say ‘mobile marketing’ you probably talking about pimping out an 18-wheeler to race hell-bent across the country engaging, interacting and playing with consumers. And I’ll tell you what, we can do some amazing stuff with a few trailers and a generator.

But in today’s marketing world, “mobile marketing” is usually referenced when talking about cell phones, PDAs and the other mobile devices we now strap down to keep our employers and clients happy.

Advertisers are jumping at this new channel, providing exclusive content, ring tones, screen savers, and just about anything they can do to talk to the same people that are TiVoing those same messages on TV.

While all that stuff is fine and dandy, the true winners of the “mobile marketing” battle are going to the brands that figure out how enable their consumers to do things with their brand using their cell phones, Blackberry’s, etc. rather than simply using it as an extension of their media buy.

Southwest Airlines gives us a perfect example of making “mobile marketing” relevant to the consumer.



Friday, January 27, 2006

Designing a Better Future


This site was forwarded to me from my friend Benji in LA. Like the famous ‘X Award’ this competition is designed to improve humanity…developing “big ideas” that are not only economically feasible, but socially relevant, dynamic and impactful.

I think this also speaks to previous posts (Create or Not Create) about designing and developing new products for a purpose vs. getting more SKUs at the national retail chain.

Check it out…


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

If you don't get it, read this now

Just an incredible read over on Johnnie Moore's blog...including links to Open Sauce (www.opensaucelive.com) and Hugh Macleod's concept of brands as "idea amplifiers."



Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sleeping with the Enemy

Batman asking the Joker for a lift? Not quite...closer to cats vs dogs. Is Apple trying to bring the suits and the freaks together? Great blog on the subject...


Monday, January 23, 2006

Yeah, what he said

I forget where I saw this link, but it's some great insight into the perception vs. reality of Public Relations firms. The lines between corporate communication, marketing, branding and R&D continue to blur...and I think it's all for the better.



Not your Father's Olympics

In a surprising show of "hipness" NBC has created a side site covering the Olympics...but without the typical sappiness and overbearing tone that Costas usually coats all of the NBC coverage with.

Covering everything from the Torino nightlife to the iPod lists of some of our Olympic hopefuls, this delivers the content that younger consumers want in a voice & design that they understand.

I guess NBC realizes that the Olympics is really something Boomers made great and that passion for the games is marginal at best among young people. But with the introduction of some newer, cooler sports (snowboarding) and some rebellious athletes (Bode Miller) there is potential for a rebirth...and NBC sees the dollar signs.



Friday, January 20, 2006

Beer Brotherhood

In a move that has been a long time coming, the entire beer industry is joining forces against wine and spirits. I think this will be really interesting to watch.

Back in the day, I used to do a little work with Diageo...maker of mediocre libations like Captain Morgan, Crown Royal and V/O (which stands for Very Own...bet you didn't know that). In those days we made it our life's mission to get beer drinkers to "trade up" one drink sooner. Once that was accomplished, we tried to get beer drinkers to START with a cocktail instead of a beer. Looks like we did a pretty decent job...

Well, now that I'm in the beer industry, I'm fighting to get that drink back. Let's face it...beer is pretty safe and Anheuser-Busch isn't going out of business any time soon. But big companies have lots of stock holders who are used to seeing that stock rise...and when it's not, executives get very nervous.

But I'm really interested in seeing how the brewers play in the sandbox. Unless you've been locked in a closet or off in some remote corner of the world, you know that A-B, Miller and Coors have been going at each other like little girls for some time now...to the detrament of all. Miller's "More Taste" campaign is tired...with only the Flava Flav courtroom spot standing out. Coors, well , they're basically a regional beer (did you know Busch beer out sells ALL of Coors?).

And the category leader, A-B, hasn't been acting as such and has been wasting time and resources responding to everyone for the last two years.

Anyway, I like the move of creating a "Got Beer?" style movement...but it will be interesting to see who plays, who pouts...and who wins.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Are you Listening?

Some good quotes that many corporate R&D folks should read:

“Users generally have a more accurate and detailed model of their needs than manufacturers have.”

- Von Hippel

“If you want to spend a fortune trying to be more clever than your customers, well good luck. On the whole it might be cheaper and easier to assume they have some idea about what they want and need.”

- Johnnie Moore

To Create or Not to Create

Let’s face it…we really don’t need any more crap. Yes, there are “things” we want and there are “things” that could use an upgrade (video iPod, anyone?). But, as is in most civilized societies, the basics are covered.

So, why is Innovation the new boardroom buzzword? It’s because today’s consumer society is more likely to buy a new Swifer design than change the batteries in their old one. Microsoft has banked on this, well, all the way to the bank.

While improving on existing products certainly falls under the “Innovation” umbrella, that’s not what we’re going to talk about here.

This is about brand spanking new products.

Working closely with the New Products & Innovation team at my client, the subject of new products, new marketing methods, and new ways of thinking is prominent in everything we do. But moving beyond what we’ve learned working with my client, there are some other insights to be gleaned.

Historically, the development of new things has been left up to the corporations…the sellers. ACE Chair Company came to a designer of chairs and said, “If you design a new chair we will buy it, build it and sell it.” If the designer wanted to make rent or eat, they designed the chair, and everyone was happy...except the consumer who had to choose from the chairs the companies wanted to sell.

The Internet has flipped this process on its ear. Today, developers of new things aren’t merely looking for a paycheck. Designers like Massino losa Ghini (www.iosaghini.it) and James Irvine (www.james-irvine.com) are leading with a conscious. They’re taking into consideration society, the environment and the relevance of the product. Now when the chair company asks for the chair, the designer asks “why?”

This is the most important step when creating, and eventually marketing new products. By asking ‘why’, companies and marketers will be able to define who this product is for and why they need it.

Apple’s Jonathan Ive has succeeded by making Apple’s (www.apple.com) new products compelling and relevant to their target consumers. In succeeding, he has done what designer Geoff Hollington says is the toughest part of introducing a new product: creating desire more than enjoyment.

Without desire, there really is no true need. And without need, there will be no success. Sure, the large companies will force new products on distributors, who will force it on retailers, who will force it on consumers. It may sell, but that’s result of volume, not desire. It will become clutter. And worse, it will remain irrelevant. Designer Stefano Giovannoni (www.stefanogiovannoni.com) states that, “Objects are not beautiful or ugly but are rather suited or not to their time.” It’s better to be on time.

Today’s consumer is taking relevance into their own hands, and the smart designers and companies are listening.

Elephant Design, founded by Kohei Nishiyama and Yosuke Masumoto, created the first interface that completely eliminated the input from any sort of brand or distributor. At www.elephant-design.com the best designs are put on display for all to see. Once consumer demand reaches a point where production is viable, a manufacturer buys the design and creates the product. Talk about being relevant. Talk about addressing desire.

Recently, Kraft (www.kraft.com) created an initiative called Open Innovation, led by Mary Kay Haben, in hopes of swapping ideas with consumers, outside partners, even competitors in an effort to improve products, packaging and business systems. Innovation is now coming from chat rooms rather than board rooms.

The new product development process will never be a science. There will still be more failures than successes. We must be honest with ourselves and our clients as we develop and introduce new products.

Hold these products and ideas up to some of the criteria discussed above…is it relevant? Where does it fit in our consumer’s lifestyle? Why are we creating it? If those questions cannot be addressed, then there’s a good chance the “hot new product” will just be another waste of resources and marketing dollars.

To conclude, something that Max Lenderman noted in his blog (www.experiencethemessage.com) that I thought was really relevant to this subject. Artist and consultant Shepard Fairey, the guy behind “Obey the Giant”, noted this when discussing the doomed graffiti campaign for the Sony PSP (http://www.wired.com/news/culture/):

“Corporations are much better off being very open and being proud enough to say ‘We think this is a cool enough product to stand up under the hipsters’ scrutiny, we don’t have to try and trick you. If it’s not cool enough for that, they need to rethink the product itself.”


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Experience the Message

Check out this kick ass blog from Max Lenderman of GMR Marketing fame.



Great work is always great

A few links for those who just love to see cool shit...

First, great blog that captures great advertising from the other side of the world:


Second, a cool couple of guys doing some kick-ass AV stuff:


(who knew the CDC was so cool)

New Marketing Tools Being Put to the Test

This is a great article from Promo Magazine regarding Kraft and their Open Innovation group.

In once sense, it's great to see a large company "getting it." In the other sense, it's disappointing because I've yet to get my client to understand it at all. Damn.


Kraft Invites, Tests Innovation By Betsy Spethmann, Jan 18, 2006

Kraft Foods is pursuing partnerships with technology companies and others to build new businesses like its South Beach Diet and Tassimo brands, both of which are joint efforts with outside companies.

At the same time, Kraft is testing a desktop application to deliver recipes directly to consumers' computers via RSS feed.

Both efforts demonstrate Kraft's work to keep up with consumer trends and marketing applications for new technology.

Kraft's "Open Innovation" initiative is led by Mary Kay Haben, who was promoted to senior VP-open innovation in November. The two-month-old effort is designed to swap ideas with outside partners, even competitors, to improve products, packaging and business systems. Open Innovation has wide parameters and could include licensing deals and new technology.
Haben will work with Kraft's marketing, technology and quality, and procurement divisions to find and then use outside ideas to pump brand value and sustainable growth, which has been Kraft's mantra since its Sustainable Growth Plan began in 2004 (Xtra Jan. 29, 2004).

Open Innovation is a two-way effort to share Kraft's ideas and garner new ideas. "We'll also be looking for potential outbound opportunities such as licensing Kraft trademarks and intellectual property," said Kris Charles, Kraft director-external communications. "Kraft New Product Development will continue to focus on organic growth and product extensions, while Open Innovation will primarily focus externally."

Kraft has brokered successful strategic partnerships in recent years—witness its 1998 distribution deal with Starbucks Corp. to bring coffee beans to grocery aisles, and its licensing deal (also begun in 1998) with California Pizza Kitchens for frozen pizzas.
But the fledgling Open Innovation "brings that to a new level," Charles said. "We rely on our own R&D folks for their ideas, but also are looking outside our own walls, like Procter & Gamble does."

Kraft is going head-to-head against P&G with coffee-brewing systems, pitting Tassimo (marketed by Kraft Foods and Braun) against Home Café, a joint venture between P&G and Black & Decker (Xtra Jan. 3). Kraft and Braun rolled out the $170 Tassimo appliance to the U.S. in September, with a November cameo on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, where teams designed retail displays for the brand.

Kraft brings the beach (and South Beach Diet samples) to nine cities this month
Then there's the South Beach Diet brand, a joint venture with South Beach Diet inventor Dr. Arthur Agatston that launched in early 2005 and topped $100 million in sales in its first nine months, said Paula Sneed, Kraft's executive VP-global marketing, research & initiatives.
This month, Kraft adds South Beach Diet hot breakfast wraps, salad dressings, Asian-inspired entrées and two flavors of meal replacement bars to the line that already includes frozen meals, snacks and cereals.

A nine-city "Beach in a Box tour, running through January, samples cinnamon raisin cereal bars and gives away branded picture frames and hand warmers. Two 35-foot, Plexiglas beach-scenes-on-wheels have already toured New York City, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and will hit Washington, DC, Baltimore, Denver and Chicago by Feb. 1. Hall Event Group and Weber Shandwick, both of Chicago, handled the tour.

Separately, Kraft is quietly testing RSS feeds to deliver recipes to consumers' computers. Consumers visit Kraftfoods.com/onthego to register for up to three daily feeds (easy dinners, seasonal desserts, top-rated recipes) which come directly to their desktop, bypassing e-mail. It's one way to combat a decline in e-mail open rates, said Kathy Riordan, Kraft VP-global digital & consumer relationship marketing.

RSS feeds, which deliver syndicated content on topics that consumers specify, "could really transform the digital marketplace. It has the potential to be a disruptive technology," Riordan said. "Our focus has been so strong on Web and e-mail delivery that I don't want to miss a sea change in how consumers are having content delivered to them."

Kraft also is mulling ways to deliver recipes via cell phone, but "we haven't cracked the code yet," Riordan said. The challenges: How to display recipes on such a small screen, and use characters that consumers will understand. Kraft will keep tinkering as cell phone penetration rises.

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Sites

check'em, don't wreck'em





(ps...chad vangaalen is the best thing from Canada since hockey)

Print vs. Blog: Are both Sides Right?


This is a great back & forth between Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine.com and John Griffin, president of National Geographic's magazine group.

Obviously, both have a fairly large stake in what they're arguing for or against. And while these arguments have been happening on a regular basis since the Internet was born, I found this one very interesting because IMHO, there isn't a finer written magazine in the world than National geographic.

Sure, there are a lot of new, fun, hip magazines out there. But as a graduate of the nations finest school of journalism (I'll let you figure that out) I truly appreciate the ability of NatGeo's reporters to own an article.

I'm all about blogging...I send dozens of emails a day sharing interesting blogs with friends, co-workers and clients...and of course I have this little thing going on. But, there is still something about a well-written, well-edited, well-printed article.

Here are my take-aways from the article:

Trust: I enjoy reading blogs...I don't trust them. I usually don't wade into waters of the superficial in the blogsphere, but even in the blogs I read on a daily basis, the best content is usually published by someone else first (company, person, etc.). Trust still comes from credited news sources and from writers and editors that know what they're doing.

Waste: Let's face it...for every crappy publication there are a million crappy blogs.

Advertising: I think it's funny that the Internet and bloggers are looking for the same advertising dollars (and hence, messages) that lured people from mass media in the first place.

Interaction: I agree that the future of print will include some sort of e-interface...something that gives the reader some control...or at least feedback. But I think some people underestimate the relaxation that comes from just reading a book or magazine. I spend my entire day giving feedback, responding, talking, thinking....and because I now live and work in a city without mass transit, I desperately miss the time I had to myself, reading on the bus or train. It was the most relaxing time of my day.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Perception is everything.

Just added this to my daily reading list...


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stand by your Brand

Ok...Another ad rant.

Here's the deal. I hear high-level "creatives" from big shops saying that the way to bring advertising back is to elevate the creative.

I can't really argue that truly creative, inspiring and moving ads are few and far between. And while not every ad is designed to "move" someone, I think everyone could raise their game a bit.

But, I have one problem. The people paying the tab for the advertising aren't willing to stand by a message...and if they are, they're only willing to stand by that message for six months, or until a competitor comes along with something new...of course, meaning, they need something new.

Today's brands have itchy trigger fingers. If you look at a case study of the best, most effective advertising in the last five years you'll find one thing in common...they're actual advertising campaigns. The message, the look, the attitude may evolve, but it's all from the same seed.

I know why brands do what they do. In this segmented world, they're trying to be something to everyone...which we all know doesn't work. But in trying to reach out to everyone with different messages, they're dissecting their brand into nothing.

I'll have more on this tomorrow...


Catch up on Coachella

For anyone in the LA area I highly recommend (and expect a full report back) checking out "Coachella the Movie." You can read all about it at www.coachella.com/movie/theater.php .

Tickets in the LA area go on sale on the 14th, with the opening on the 19th at the Orpheum Theatre.

At the site it also lists the theaters nation-wide that will be picking it up in the coming weeks.

Rock on.


Monday, January 09, 2006

New Music Site

While I was getting some "second opinions" on recent albums highlighted the latest addition of NMM, I came across a new site I wanted to pass along.

It's not totally about the music, as say, a www.purevolume.com is...but it actually provides some nice insights and a POV from the music industry.

Check it out when you have a moment...


Friday, January 06, 2006

Coachella Wish List

Dates for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival have been set (www.coachella.com). This is a "must" for any music fan in the States (or anywhere else for that matter).

Year in and year out, Coachella rocks the music scene with arguably the best festival line-up you'll find. And while you can never argue with the headliners (RHCP, The Pixies, Iggy & the Stooges, Beasties, Coldplay, NIN, Radiohead to name a few), the real accomplishment is how they fill out all five stages with incredible new and diverse talent.

Getting invited to Coachella is like getting a "stamp of approval" from the music nazis...and once you're in...you're in (although I will say that when I saw The Music two years ago I thought for sure they would be the next big thing and they just never took off..and I found their second album, Welcome to the North to be over-produced).

So, rather than follow what the other Trend sites have been doing, showing lists of top bands/albums of the last year or what they think will be hot in 2006...I'm throwing out my wish list for Coachella 2006.

I'm leaving out some obvious choices (My Morning Jacket, Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire) as they have already been there or will for sure be at the top of Goldenvoice's list.

So, for the undercard, in no particular order:

1. Chad Vangaalen (www.flemisheye.com/chad.php)
2. American Minor (www.americanminormusic.com)
3. Silverspun Pickups (www.dangerbirdrecords.com)
4. Orange Park (www.orangeparkmusic.com)
5. The Sun (www.thesunwebsite.com)
6. Tom Fite (www.anti.com)
7. Idlewild (www.idlewild.co.uk)
8. The Long Winters (www.thelongwinters.com)
9. The Vacancies (www.thevacanciesmusic.com)
10. Wolf Parade (www.wolfparade.cjb.net)
11. The Double (www.thedoublethedouble.com)

There are quite a few other deserving bands...Sigur Ros, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Spoon, etc. that rocked this year...but the above is a list of new comers that will make my trip to Indio worth the heat.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Advertising Works?

Yesterday i read an article that was featured on PSFK.com by the BBC regarding the success of alcohol advertising on our youth. The study, done by the University of Conneticut I believe, basically came out and said the more kids are exposed to alcohol messages, the more likely they are to drink.

As someone who markets alcohol, I read the study carefully and came to one conclusion: bullshit.

I'm not saying that the study itself was crap, or that the BBC shouldn't have reported on it. What I'm saying is that advertising isn't the problem with underage drinking/alcohol abuse in the US or the UK. If advertising was as powerful as they say, the American auto industry would be just fine.

There are two issues I have, one serious and the other not so serious. I'm not a very serious person, so I'll save that one for last.

According to the trades, according to my peers, and according to the people who seem to be in the know, Advertising is dead. Consumers zone it out, TiVo it, ingore it, don't believe it. Consumers are paying for ad-free content and spending hundreds of dollars to avoid the marketing diarreha that is in our world today. So...if this is the case...is alcohol advertising the exception?

If not, then advertising is not dead and everyone who claims so are simply disgruntaled ex-agency planners preaching doom and gloom. Because everyone I know who works at or has worked at an agency is disgruntaled and usually preaching doom and gloom, I'm not buying it...especially at $2.5MM per Superbowl :30.

The study is missing the target.

Here it is, plain and simple. Kids drink because no one really cares. In fact, kids drink because the ONLY people who care or do anything about it are the brewers and distillers who force themselves to do it.

In all these studies you always see quotes like this one from Don Shenker: "The alcohol industry needs to look more broadly at how it prevents the inappropriate use of alcohol." Note to Don: the alcohol producing industry doesn't sell a drop of liquor to consumers. The large brewers and distillers of the world sell their product to distributors...who sell it to retailers...who sell it to consumers. Sure, advertising dollars come from the top...but the ability to put it into kids hands comes from the bottom. So why isn't there some sort of organization like Parents Against Conveinece Stores, Gas Stations and Supermarkets? Because that would mean addressing the bigger issue.

The bigger issue is that for the most part, society in the US and UK says it's OK for kids to drink.

The UK has a very strong "drinking culture." Somthing I discussed with my boys Tim & Jamie from Guildford this summer. And in both the UK and US people look at youth discovering booze as more comical and "rite of passage" than problematic.

Moreover, you see a lot of parents HELPING their kids to drink before they reach the legal limit. This year several high schools on the East Coast cancelled proms because the parties that the parents were throwing for their kids were getting out of hand. Hell, you can't watch 10 minutes of Laguna Beach on MTV without seeing them drinking...without the care of their parents.

I could go on about this...but if those professors want to find the real cause underage drinking, they should talk to parents and the business owners that make a living off 16-year-olds buying a case of Keystone.

I'm breaking up with my brand

Let’s face it. A “brand relationship” is a fancy way of saying that someone out there likes your product. Honestly…when was the last time someone called and asked about how your relationship with your cell phone was going? Has anyone approached you in a bar and asked “what’s going on between you and that Bud Light?” Never.

The only time “brand relationships” are discussed is in the pages of books written by dead advertising executives and brand managers putting their accounts up for review. It’s an over-used term that is perpetuated by marketers who take themselves and their brands too seriously.

Today’s consumers aren’t looking for brand relationships. They’re looking for brands that enable them to be the people they want to be. Gone are the days when consumers tied themselves to a brand by the heartstrings or wore a brand like a badge. Consumers want to talk back and be listened to.

Today, if you’re not speaking how, when and where the consumer wants to hear it…you’re speaking to yourself. And if you’re not listening to what your consumer has to say the entire conversation will be lost.

The brand message is now controlled by the consumer. They decide how that message is received and how it is acted upon. Is it mocked? Is it ignored? Is it relevant? Is it even understood?
The game has changed. The rules are changing day by day. Can you stay in game?