Posts filed under ‘humankind’

Earth Hour: Switch off your lights for earth

To raise awareness, in 2007, our Leo Burnett colleagues in Sydney came up with Earth Hour, getting local government, the press and the residents and businesses of Sydney to switch off the lights for 1 hour. Because great ideas are worth repeating, 2009 will hopefully see another earth hour. By now, the concept has been exported to a whole bunch of other cities, and we hope that it catches on in Europe too.

Sign up now.

March 19, 2009 at 11:09 am 1 comment

Using Wii remotes to do, like, awesome stuff

I’ve been watching Johnny Lee for a while on youtube. Now this stuff might be inspiring only to the techy readers of this blog, but I certainly dig it quite a lot because it gives you a source for an number of new ideas of what you can do technology.

Johnny shares practical and prototypical ideas and uses of standard Consumer Electronic equipment, for free for everyone to innovate with. Here are three examples of him using the Nintendo Wii remote to do new things.

Johnny, you rock!

February 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

Stop branding start participating?

In his coverage of Renny Gleeson of W+K, entitled “Stop branding start participating,” Rich Cherecwich quotes

“Agencies are built to make ads, not come up with marketing solutions and solve problems,” he said. “Marketing teams are built to approve ads, and publishers are trying to sell eyeballs, but what they need to sell is relevance.

and, citing social media as a way to deliver relevance:

In the search for the shared experience, brands have an incredible role to play,” Gleeson said. “They’ve always been the glue that binds. Now they have the opportunity to be the glue and part of the shared experience for the people who buy them.

How very true. Many, including us have said similar things. “The brand era is over, it’s the people era.” and “Acts, not ads!” are Leo Burnett mantras.  However, concerning the headline “stop branding”: really?

Before looking at Social Media as a solution to make brands relevant again (which it can be), I wonder why agencies and brands have had a hard time reinventing themselves.  Because I believe, regardless of what tools (such as social media) you are using, it will be a crap-shoot in terms of relevance for your brand, until brands and agencies have consummated and internalized one very basic mindset shift. It’s not so much about having to “stop branding” and “to start participating”, but it’s more like:

In the people era, it’s about doing something that makes a qualitative difference in people’s lives, not just saying something. Because delivering deeds and experiences that make a qualitative difference (however big or small), is branding for the people era.

Yet, agencies and brands haven’t adapted their business models and “creative delivery systems” to actually be doing something  instead of just messaging. And to top it off, even when they are doing something, it is usually so brand-centered, that it becomes a backfiring farce.  There are many such examples of brave attempts by brands and agencies to use “innovative” digital channels, such as social media, in the hopes that it will engage people with their brands again. The ones that happen to work, we all hear about. But there are many more attempts we don’t hear about. Why don’ t they work? Because moving to the people era doesn’t just mean picking the digital channel du jour, and applying your brand message.  Fact is, agencies and brands that have not internalized what their brand can mean in the people era, and will continue to try to use channels to force-feed their brand message. Brands are so used to being the sender of a message, that they don’t know how to let people message for them, but that’s what the ultimate consequence of the people era is. This is what Gleeson refers to when he says, “what brands need to do is grow the campaign out of an existing community, rather than simply drop it on top of a community.” 

So I agree that brands and agencies need to reinvent themselves. But it’s a shift that needs to happen, not a replacement of things.

  • Brand era SHIFTS TO People era
  • Doing things to people SHIFTS to doing things with people
  • Brand message SHIFTS to Brand experience
  • Reason to Believe SHIFTS to Reason to Interact
  • Single-minded propositions SHIFT to allowing fragmented, multi-faceted experiences 
  • Branding SHIFTS to delivering experiences that make a qualitative difference
  • Creativity in formulating messaging SHIFTS TO Creativity in designing experiences 
  • Brand Metrics SHIFTS TO People Metrics
  • Consumer Insight SHIFTS TO Behavioral Insight

So, in summary, yes, stop branding the old way but start branding with an understanding of shifting brands into the people age. Only with that in mind, social media and other digital channels, as well as the traditional channels can serve purposeful strategies that are not left up to luck to succeed.

February 11, 2009 at 8:17 pm 3 comments

Yes, MINI can.

My buddies over at Kreative Konzeption, who are behind the minispace.com site pulled a nice one: with their campaign claim “Creative Use of Space,” which has been running primarily in the digital space and initiates and supports collaborative design/architecture efforts all over the world, is a participative design platform that has garnered celeb appearances in the past, but mainly for the partying part. Now Minispace got coverage for a surprise visit by Obama to one of the design projects: a DC homeless shelter project.

Check out Minispace. It’s a great case study for any brand wanting to engage in acts, not ads. It redefines what brands have to do in the future in order to exist with a human reason for being.

http://www.minispace.com/en_us/article/hwkn-and-obama/181/

January 26, 2009 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

How brands can learn from people’s crisis coping strategies

OMG, another crisis-related blog entry?

To be honest, I don’t know what’s worse: the crisis or people talking about it constantly. Which is why I thought, how do people cope? And, what could brands do?

Whatever the crisis, usually it follows this well-known process.

zeichnung53

What’s interesting here is really the area of coping, because this is a) the phase that usually takes the longest b) is the most visible character building one and c) for our purposes probably the place were brand can play a role. What’s more inspiring that people that master a crisis? Without crisis, there are no heros. And, boy, don’t we love heros?

However, most brands and the companies behind them are still struggling with the crisis themselves, and, in a way are still coming up with their coping strategies. As usual, the bigger they are, the longer it takes. But the biggest ones are the ones that  people are waiting to hear from, and the ones that could make the biggest qualitative difference in people’s lives. In other words: it’s nice when my local restaurant is offering me a recession burger, but what if someone could do more?

More interesting therefore are the different coping strategies people adopt, and, this is the theory, brands adopt as well.

Coping strategies

1. Rejection of reality:

This essentially means you stay in lethargic denial, and invent ways of pretending none of it, or certain aspects of the crisis aren’t happening. You see the crisis, but you are too paralysed and uninspired to actually convert the crisis into something new. If anything, you’re just hoping it’s a bad dream.

One great example for this are financial institutions. Not only are they faced with utter loss of trust, but they also stand for a failed system who got us into this mess. So, what do most of them do?

They run the same advertising as before the crisis, promising the same stuff that is now proven to be a pipe-dream.

Bad idea.

2. Regression to previous behavioral patterns, ego-centricity:

Instead of looking at the crisis dead-on, you use your arsenal of previous crisis coping strategies to distract yourself from it. This is visible in the typical “après-nous-la-deluge” behavior, where people buy that expensive car and caviar in a egocentric spiteful hatred of the world at large. It’s a reaction to having become a victim and not wanting to be one and showing the world: “hey, buzz off. I am doing good, let’s get a drink on.” I am reminded of the pink-slip parties of the first dotcom crash.

To some degree this helps, as you are less likely to get mired in total lethargy and inaction which makes your more likely to stumble upon new opportunities. Finding a way to  celebrate a crisis can be therapeutic. Problem is, it might make you feel better, but doesn’t address any of the systemic issues in the long-run. You are setting yourself up for a bigger crisis in the end. And how long can you sustain a regime of Louis XIV type partying while there is a revolution going on? The chopping block is waiting, and they don’t even serve you a drink there. This kind of reaction can be seen in the luxury brand segment. Things are getting more expensive, not less, due to the crisis.

3. Acceptance of reality

This coping strategy is characterized by a feeling of letting go, looking for new avenues, infomation, new strategic partnerships in your life, and by a sense that “hey, there is some good sides to this crisis”. Maybe the crisis even helps in re-orienting yourself and questioning the values that might have brought you into this crisis into the first place. It’s like “Well, it’s not business as usual, but business as usual wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be anyway, so that’s an opportunity, right?”

So while this is the most constructive strategy to deal with it also has a dangerous side: if you are not completely honest and precise in your assessment about the ramifications of the history of the crisis, you just see the good things in it because you have to, and you are actually, in a way denying it through imposed optimistic behavior. Back to square one.

Also, you become more vulnerable to rescinding your responsibility and follow the expert’s advice or some kind of “leader” without question his/her motives. Manager magazines and financial publications are full of this expert stuff. If you thought you were great at managing your portfolio, you now are in pre-school again. You can’t do it alone. So, anything that looks positive and actionable suddenly becomes a way out at the price of disenfranchising yourself. The most dire historic examples for this kind of thing: any dictatorial leader that took over because there was a crisis beforehand, getting away with murder.

So how is this relevant for brands?

It could be avered that brands behave like people, meaning they have or will have the same coping strategies for this crisis, which, if true, it means you know what to avoid.

So, the tough ticket is this:

First of all, don’t wait. The crisis is gonna end. But sticking your head in the sand will mean that you either gonna be out of business, or, if you survive, you will have no role in the new lay of the land. You will have missed your chance to be a hero, or at least will have made no difference.

Secondly, as a brand, do all you can do to reassess the situation carefully, and know the part you may have played in it. Then accept the crisis and don’t jump on the band wagon of promising an unrealistic relief or offering gratuitous and self-serving distraction: instead, find a new human purpose that utilizes the new insights from the crisis.

Thirdly, people are already talking about it. The web is full of people reaching out to each other, sharing information, and coping with it their own way. The last thing they need is someone to shout at them with big bang messages. Join the conversation credibly and offer your honest opinion and be ready for heated arguments. Be inspired by what people do, so you can come up with acts and solutions that make a difference, one act at a time.

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December 9, 2008 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

New use of Twitter: brand apology management for bad advertising

We all know brands have been making some forays into social media an networking platforms.

Apart from monitoring the twittersphere for spotting trends, and buying ad space there also seems to a new use: personalized brand reputation management.

Today, Adage’s Chris Abraham reports that he was contacted by the Director of Social and Emerging Media of PepsiCo, via Twitter apologizing for some inappropriate advertising Chris had complained about previously.

Here is the quoted Tweet.

I saw your tweet and I just wanted to make sure I responded personally. We agree this creative is totally inappropriate; we apologize and please know it won’t run again. Also, thanks for the feedback and the Digg, it is important to discuss these types of issues.

My best friend committed suicide and this is a topic very close to my heart. So again I offer my deepest apologies.

Feel free to follow-up via twitter to me – @boughb or Huw – @huwgilbert or respond to this email.

Thanks, Bonin

It’s safe to assume that we need to be prepated for more of this. Not only do we have to listen more closely to what really moves people in the context of their daily lives to avoid creating advertising without a human purpose in the first place, but we also have to be ready to have systems, process and people in place that deal with people’s expectations and outrage when brands do mess up their communications.

In the case of Chris, the apology worked, and it’s a no-brainer: using the personal nature of social media does have more oomph than a stale public apology from a faceless company.

December 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm 5 comments

People are not the problem, marketing warfare is.

What’s been frying my goat for a while lately (like 10 years or so) is looking at how we conduct our business in the agency landscape. We use military words like Briefing, Strategy, Tactics, Campaign, Target, Territory, Launch and Positioning everyday. I am wondering what good it does using this language of war. Everyone says that marketing is war. Is it? War against what?

Let’s ask Billy Bob, a traditional, gun-toting marketer who believes marketing is war:

Billy Bob: I tell you who we’re fightin’, buddy. It’s them dang evil-doer consumers. These folks are conspirin’ against us, leadin’ a lawless digital lifestyle, creat’n’ all this brand brouhaha for us marketers, destroying our brand values and shooting web2.0 flak right down from the blogosphere and what have you. If we don’t strike them with a big nice nuclear promotion, we be fixin’ to go down with our brand reputation. So, I am asking you: are you with us or with the consumers?

Personally, Billy Bob, I believe war is not an answer. We’ve been seeing this for a long time and we’ve been turning our faces away, hoping this Internet thing would just go away. Fact is, we’ve just made it a war because we see human behavior as something we need to manipulate and change, and we made it marketing’s job to manipulate that human behavior. Also of course, it is our job to build a ridgid brand fortress, that can defend itself against its enemies, the competition. Now that digital technologies have empowered people and changed the rules of the game, it isn’t as easy to manipulate people, and advertising just doesn’t seem to work anymore. And, for lack of a better idea, what’s our response? More troops for the trenches, bigger defense budgets, more artillery.

Because the Billy Bob Marketing budget for ineffective advertising, whether in “traditional” or “digital” channels, is steadily rising, no matter how inefficient. As a result, to stay within the militaristic metaphor we seem so used to, “consumers” soon become “casualties of war.” Well, I guess, you know, such is war. I mean, we tried to use our smart micro-segmentation bombs and even put 10% of our budget into our magic digital targeted media bullet, but you’re always gonna get some collateral damage, right? After all, this is why we call those casualties consumers: this way they remain abstract and we don’t have to connect with their actual life.

Seriously, this terminology, and more importantly, the warped thinking behind it isn’t appropriate anymore, and maybe never was. So if you’re asked by Billy Bob to support the troops in advertising and marketing , it’s just not black and white anymore. All I know is: I don’t wanna support the troops and their strategic goals of “increasing brand awareness” or “building brand preference” or “driving brand consideration” if all I get is an unhuman, purposeless advertising carpet bombing campaign. This marketing warfare myth has to go. The point is, you can’t work like that anymore.

Ok, sure. Let’s say we all agree. How would we go about everything if we stripped out all this militaristic lingo and the thinking behind it?

  1. Don’t just think about positioning in “what is…”, think about “what if?”
  2. Don’t start with the category, the product or the brand. Because, guess what, you will end up where you left off.
  3. Instead, start with a purpose. A purpose, mind you, not a promise. A purpose needs a conviction, a reason for being and a fuel that amplifies it. Fuel comes from a human behavior that we want to enable.
  4. Based on this purpose, think of acts that a brand can create to enable that human behavior in positive ways, instead of just cranking out ads.
  5. Don’t think of creativity as idea generation for campaigns, think of creativity as ideas for experiences and valuable exchanges.
  6. Don’t message at people, message for something they believe in.
  7. Don’t call them consumers, call them people.

Peace out, y’all.

November 12, 2008 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

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