No deep insight here, I’ve just gotta give this artist a link: Sarah Roper — illustrator/director of Mastercard’s “A Home for the Holidays” everywhere sweepstakes — has some yummy work. Shag meets 101 Dalmatians, maybe?

Great example of authentic branding. Nice job of Dove’s ad firm using YouTube to reinforce Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign which is an awesome concept.

I actually pitched a similar concept to the CEO of large prestige cosmetics company about 4 years ago. This idea came from the fact that this particular brand, wasn’t acknowledging the fact that their customers tended to be middle aged women – not young beauties and that they should embrace that position and market to them. No dice though – they refuse to admit who their core customers were and kept trying to appeal to younger women and continuously losing that battle to other brands more aligned with that age group. Why doesn’t anyone in prestige cosmetics want to embrace the mature woman – aren’t they the ones with the deepest pockets and strongest desire to maintain their beauty?

Nice job Dove.

I did a brief search to and find out who is behind the campaign but came up empty. Anybody know?

An inevitable debate is taking place around the nature of the marketing. John Moore, at his excellent blog, Brand Autopsy, has been a recent party to the discussion. He offers this edited footage of David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG speaking at a recent AdAge clambake.

As I interpret this footage, Mr. Jones appears to be pissing on the whole customer generated marketing/social networking/web 2.0 clique. It’s not exactly what I would call withering, but as I interpret it, there are some substantive arguments offered. For those too lazy to read John’s post, here are the relevant bits from David’s speech to which John calls attention and my brief thoughts.

“Our industry cannot delegate the creation of brilliant ideas to consumers. That has to be our job.”

In general, I concur. However, there is always Ben’s 1%.

“What’s been quite a prevalent trend in the lazy agencies over the last two years is to go, ‘I know. Consumers can now create ideas so what we’ll do is get them to come up with the idea.’”

This is undoubtedly true, but I suggest that it derives from the fact that marketing firms are constituted for a kind of communication that is defined by the mass communication technologies of the last hundred and fifty years. Ubiquitous packet-switched networks with decent bandwidth to our homes can only encourage demand for conversation. Marketers are tooled to talk at a mass audience. This conversation stuff is new to marketers and because it seems to require something of an operational and cultural retooling, I imagine it will have to be forced on them by the market. They may try to include these initiatives in their campaigns, but until they make this constitutional shift, they will be hard-pressed to create authentic conversations.

“If you look at and go play around on the ‘YouTubes’ and ‘MySpaces’ … well, there are a few entertaining things there but there is so much utter crap there. There are only so many times you can watch someone dance in a crazy way or mime badly to a song. And so firstly, consumers aren’t that brilliant at it and secondly, what they will do is not all that relevant.”

This would seem to be the other horn of Ben’s 1% rule. To wit: if 1% of your audience will contribute something profound and relevant, it follows that the other 99% will not. It does not follow, I submit, that the conversation is thus rendered useless, for reasons I’ve mentioned previously, but it does seem to suggest that so-called CGM is likely not any kind of panacea. It is a prediction of what I have the pretention of calling my model of what is going on with marketing that the “traditional marketers” and their tools really won’t go away, but they will have to learn what the new technology really means and that discovery will necessitate a fundamental change in the constitution and creative culture of the marketing firm.

Incidentally, the depths of my loathing for the name, “Integral Marketing” grows daily. How about: Humanization? Anthropic Communication? Yuck. Tribal Marketing? Nope. Really, help me out here.

I had a meeting this morning with a counterpart at a mid-size well-established PR firm. We were discussing some of the work our company was doing for several clients. One in particular that was of interest to her involved helping our client to revamp a key executive’s presentation content and style. I recommended the blog Presentation Zen to her when she inquired into some of the resources we utilized in developing our approach. I had forgotten what a great blog that Garr Reynolds has.

One of the things we have been preaching to all of our clients is to communicate in a way that is less autistic and more human. Many of the mediums we recommend have to do with applications for the Internet, as it allows more of a two-way dialogue. But I had forgotten about how powerful a good presentation can be. It’s an opportunity to make a connection with your audiences, and potentially start an ongoing relationship with them.

Unfortunately, this opportunity is lost with many companies. They look at it solely as a way to push out information about their company or pitch their products and services.

As Garr points out in a recent post Presentations and Word of Mouth Marketing should play hand in hand. Giving your audiences something of value and providing a way for them to connect with you and your company goes a long way in fueling positive word of mouth. Direct them to a blog created around the topic being presented, share additional information and welcome feedback and dialogue. This has the added benefit of making it easy for them to share information about your company with their peers.

Think of presentations as an opportunity to build a new relationship and start a conversation. The end of the presentation is the beginning of the relationship, not the end of a tactic.

As if the impending global thermonuclear wasn’t reason enough to stock up on soup …

“The Andy Warhol Foundation is staging a marketing blitz for its founder this year, opening the archives to the likes of everyone from Hysteric Glamour, to Levis, to Barney’s. The most interesting—not to mention obvious—of these collaborations is their tie-in with the Campbell’s Soup company to produce a—yes, we’re going to say it—limited-edition line of cans in Warhol’s distinct color treatments. Don’t even front like you don’t want em. Keep your eyes peeled at the Piggly Wiggly, true believers…”

Typos, malapropisms, and spilled drinks notwithstanding, creatives are – each in our own way – perfectionists. This just makes us ordinarily human, I reckon. After all, the pursuit of quality is a common human endeavor – an airtight moon base, a better relationship with Dad, a more comfortable sitting position – and perfection is just the ever-elusive end of that journey. But we perhaps wrestle more rounds than most with the unattainability of perfection because it’s actually in our job descriptions, after the part about turtlenecks.

Beyond serving clients’ goals and our souls, we have a practical responsibility to resolve the feud between perfection and timeliness. They’re a-fussin’ and a-fightin’, you know. Perfection, the impossible pinnacle of quality, requires ages to get nowhere near. And, well, time will have none of it – distorting our predefinition of perfection the moment quality begins to build. So, given the expectations of budget and schedule, we’re required to plot aspirations on a spectrum from “What can be done” to “what can be Done.”

To the perfectionist, this is known as “cutting corners”.

Now, these considerations threaten the very foundation of aspiration and thus ignite regular conflagrations at bigwidesky’s world headquarters (where more than one cold pancake has been hurled in disagreement). Yep, in the feud between perfection and timeliness, we’ve got a family on both sides. But for my part, I’ve come to appreciate timeliness as a qualitative metric – and almost a sneak-attack on perfection. In my estimation, even in the (noble and foolhardy and obsessive) pursuit of supreme quality, the deepest pitfall is the lure of perfection’s swiftly receding shadow.

This probably makes me some sort of sell-out knucklehead, but the only feasible approach to perfection, as I feel it, is to compartmentalize aspiration in consideration of budget and schedule. And with humble respect for quality, to not cut corners – but artfully, deliberately, and perfectly round them.

Russell Davies’ planning blog is a great read. I’ve been reading it for about a year now. I say this because I intend to make screed against something he wrote recently, and I thought I would show some respect before I wax polemical.

The post in question is titled, “how to be interesting.” Such a title (ignoring Mr. Davies’ demonstrated brilliance for the moment) immediately sets off alarms for me. I’d imagine some who are reading this already have a notion of where I’m going with this. The post starts with two assumptions:

The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, they’ll find you interesting.

Interesting people are good at sharing. You can’t be interested in someone who won’t tell you anything. Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and you’re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.

Fine. Spot on. Then he goes on to describe a list of ten things you can do to ostensibly become more interesting. It’s a fine list of things like, “Every week, read a magazine you’ve never read before.” I’d recreate the list here, but Y’all can just go read his post. He prefaces the list with:

“It’s sort of didactic, bossy even, but it’s supposed to be instructional, rules you can follow. If you do them, and send me evidence that you’ve done them for three months, then I’ll send you a marvelous ‘I’m More Interesting Than I Was Three Months Ago’ certificate.”

…but even with that preface, I can’t help but respond to the whole business by saying simply: bollocks.

I submit that the ghost in Mr. Davies’ “be interesting” machine is the serendipitous “why?” That interesting people may exhibit some of this behavior by no means suggests that the behaviors are what imparts interestingness. My one-time music theory professor and just generally all-around smart guy, Steve Heinemann, once said to me, “music theory is a description of music, not a prescription for music.” It would seem that the same applies to Mr. Davies’ supposed recipe for interestingness. The missing sine qua non in his analysis is a non-programmable inspiration.

For example, I am interested in Japanese culture. I may engage in any number of the behaviors Mr. Davies encourages, but they are not why I am interested in Japanese culture. They are merely the outward result of my interest. The reasons I am interested to include the fact that I visited Japan as a child and the accidental fact that there is an unspeakably beautiful Japanese garden in my hometown which only exists because of the fortuitous presence of a sizable Japanese community here. Yet even these facts are not sufficient to justify my interest. And if I weren’t interested in Japanese culture, no amount of blogging and scrapbooking about it would necessarily create such an interest.

Not to be contrarian, but I’d be willing to bet that none who receive Russell’s marvelous ‘I’m More Interesting Than I Was Three Months Ago’ certificate will actually be any more interesting than they were before they undertook this exercise. More known perhaps, but not more interesting. And if by chance, some do prove to be more interesting, I suspect it will be epiphenomenal to those ten habits of highly interesting people.

Though it would certainly be interesting if Mr. Davies’ were to undertake to cut my argument to ribbons. To me anyway.

Today is November 7th, Election Day. I am thrilled that after today I won’t have to be bombarded with political ads that highlight everything people hate about advertising.

Between the MO Senatorial race candidates (R – Jim Talent and D – Claire McCaskill) and the proposed State Constitutional Amendments (Stem Cell Research, Tobacco Tax) I couldn’t tell you what to vote based on the ads. As the Election Day came closer and closer one camp would put out an ad making a negative claim against their opponent and a day later the opposing camp would completely discredit the claim and lash back with another negative claim.

The proportion of negative attacks vs. image-building ads has gotten more and more distorted over the years. If Nike and Adidas pulled these same tactics people would buy Reebok and sales would plummet. Too bad our political candidate and their parties still employ tactics that create decisions based on “the least of all evils” instead of the genuine embodiment of a candidate’s values and credentials.

OK – rant over.

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