Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Pardon The Disruption

Sorry to interrupt your conversations.....but..........

I'm so tired of hearing about the reinvention of advertising.

I'm bored of listening to you talk about your new business model, way of thinking, and the revolutionary new stuff that you are ...going... to create - you swear - one day really really soon.

I don't care you fired half your staff and filled a room with UX designers and social media strategists.

And I don't understand why so many people seem to be missing the point about the dramatic impact technologies have had on the way we now communicate.

Stop talking about it. Stop talking about YOURSELVES. No one cares. Stop with all the mass media and PR promises and start demonstrating that you are doing something different.

Change your process. Change your product. Change your results. And the rest will come.

Ok, now back to your previously scheduled programming.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Failure 101

Great quote I had to share from this article over at the99percent

The creative process for James Dyson was filled with an exceptional number of failures. His quote:

"I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative."
What an incredible concept. Grading kids by their number of failures. This reminds me of a recent meeting where I met with a 20 something year old about his start up. He said he wanted to meet with me because of my super successful career in marketing i just laughed.

You don't want to meet with me because of that, I told him. You want to meet with me because of my completely unsuccessful start-up. It's my failures and the decisions I wish I could change looking back you are going to learn the most from - not the things that I did right.

The lesson here?

Failure 101- it's by far one of the most important courses you'll ever take.

note: Nicole noted on FB that she loved the concept of grading kids on their creativity (note she said creativity and not failures). Couldn't agree more.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Time To Evolve The Mommy Blogger

A couple people in my FB or Twitter stream have launched Blogs recently and have almost instantly become "Mommy Bloggers". They get linked to on Yummy Mommy, they get invited to speak at conferences, they get shout outs on Twitter. New Mommy Blogger! Welcome!

Got me thinking. Why aren't I considered a Mommy blogger? I blog. I'm a Mommy of two kids who I occasionally mention. But the truth is, similar to why i never bonded with the Mommy's who played in the park where I used to take Cee that was right across the street from my house, I don't really relate the a lot of the content i see on their blogs.

Some will say that there are a bunch of misconceptions about Mommy Bloggers and maybe there are and maybe I'm just contributing to them by writing this post. People will say Mommy Bloggers are lawyers, writers, engineers but all i can see from most of the blogs that self-describe as MB's is cute brand promotions, pictures of babies, puppies, healthy eating articles and of course, articles about being a Mommy. (come to think of it, this is why i don't buy women's magazines like Cosmo either).....

And there may be some great Mommy bloggers that I'm just don't know about. But i think there are huge amount of women out there who blog and are Moms discussing and speaking on a wide range of topics and issues affecting the world. I would love to have a list that I can add at the end of this post because I think it's time to evolve (at least the perception of) the Mommy Blogger so people like me (mom's who blog) can be added to the list.

:) leigh
mom. writer. worker

photocredit: Wifemomblogger

Thursday, 11 November 2010

If Facebook Was Designed By A Woman.....

Gotta love this post by If We Ran The World's Oonie.

A micro-action from one woman to another.

Not to shout for Ovarian Cancer (although we know we need to do that ;)
Not a note to reblog this Mom's story about her son (even though we applaud her)
Not even to join Organic Girl Giveaways (and we know all women love 'free' stuff ;)

This micro-action simply asks you to be confident in who you are. For one day.

Oonie brings up a point that has really gotten me thinking. She says:

"it occurred to me that if more women were involved in the designing of facebook, a poke might be more like what kaisha sent to me."

If more women had successful start-ups and were able to be key decision makers in the design process that shape technologies that change our world, would things like pokes be different? What else would be different? What other changes might this lead to?

I feel like now more than ever before we are finally at the precipice of that change. Initiatives like Rachel Sklar's #changetheratio are getting people talking whether or not people are uncomfortable with that conversation.

It's a subject that is close to my heart and that I've written about a number of times. We (all) need to support more women in technology and give them greater visibility with an acknowledgment that the ratio needs to change regardless of the debate of the reasons to why it's there in the first place.

So if you are woman today, I say go here right now - sign up for If We Ran The World and share the link love. Let's all be more confident in who we are and comfortable with saying what we believe, whether people like it or not.

Photo credit: my bad powerpoint inclusion of 4 designing women - from L to R - Leila Boujanan of Idee, Dina Kaplan of Blip.tv, Cindy Gallop of If We Ran The World, and Make Love Not Porn, and Caterina Fake of Hunch

Monday, 18 October 2010

1 + Co-Creation Does Not = Innovation

I don't think I'm a design snob. In fact, I think there have been many brilliant co-created programs over the years. Listening to customer feedback, including customers into the design process in one form or another can yield brilliant results.

But when I read this post on Forrester I have to admit I cringed a bit. Do we really think that having contests for new logos will lead to a better end result?

We might all hate the fact that Apple could care less what their customers think (except after extreme pressure over time) but they are poised to become the largest public company in the world. If they co-created their logo or their products with their customers would the results have been the same?

Whether you buy into co-creation or not (again examples of success on both sides) if you lack vision it won't matter. And that's the problem with using GAP as the example of company that could have seen success if they had just included their customers into the process. The new logo is only a symptom of a larger issue within the company. They didn't need a better communication strategy they needed to look at their brand DNA from the inside out.

The real lesson here is that replacing innovation with co-creation will only yield middle gray results and that just isn't good enough anymore.

Friday, 8 October 2010

I heart/hate You Online

It was a good week for users as they took their love and their hate to the streets.

Firstly, there was the entire GAP Brand fiasco where we saw the cynical marketing types (such as myself) mock the laughable new logo by GAP. And while some might be cynical about the twitterati, those of us who work in design take it pretty personally when we see a large Brand pay a lot of money for something that looked like it was designed as part of a student project. (I would say the only logo that comes even close to as bad was the Toronto Unlimited Logo which still sadly hasn't gone away).

But the news isn't all bad. Users (myself included) of the service Xmarks not only took the Web but took to their pocket books rather than letting the link synch service die a painful death.

It's an important lesson to remember. There is no greater motivation than our passions. If we love you or we hate you, we will shout that out to everyone we know. Tapping into that, is like tapping into either a pile of crap or a pot of gold.

And for fun, I'll leave you with the singing and ukulele playing sensation of Rocky and Balls - I heart you online.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Malcolm Gladwell Is Dead Wrong

I have to say I was perplexed by Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Small Change – Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.”

At the heart of it he seems to be challenging the notion that Social Networks can be a part of Social Activism.


Social Activism needs hierarchical structure vs. the networked topology of Social graphs

Social Activism is a ‘strong-tie’ phenomenon when Social Networks are based on loose or weak ties

Social Activism requires financial or personal risk when most activists (or Slacktivists) on Networks are successful because they ask very little of the participants

And yet, this argument makes so many under lying assumptions it kinda boggles the mind. Gladwell himself defines the reinvention argument that he is disagreeing with as follows:

"With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coordinate, and give voice to their concerns"

Why I'm sitting here perplexed is there was nothing in his article to suggest the contrary.

I don't have my Pdh. But I do have personal experience in being intimately involved in my early career with the environmental movement and helped to set an important legal precedent in Greece and in the European Union through the mobilizations and eventual legal case to stop the Acheloos River Diversion Project.

What I learned from that experience is that building a movement for change is much bigger than one communication technology or another. The strategic dynamic was much closer to how I think about network communications vs. traditional mass approaches.

How so?

We weren't about driving awareness for a single message. That wouldn't have led to action.

Rather, our approach was about creating a compelling relate-able storyline and then setting as many small fires in as many locations as possible. And then we watched to see which fires started to grow. The ones that did we threw more wood on and if the moment was right, some gasoline.

That involved local action in some cases, protests in others, Mass media of all different story types both inside and out of Greece as well as legal action on a National level. And there was more.

The question now looking back, is could Social Media have played a dramatic role in our efforts? Of course it could have. In fact, how could it have not?

If we want a more recent example, I look to the G20 protests here in Toronto. At the time I was reading an interesting debate happening between @Chanders and @AnnaTarkov about an article in the New York Times talking about Mass Media's influence over the language of Torture. It centred about a Harvard study that found newspapers had changed their wording of Waterboarding as Torture after America was accused of it. One could debate that this would then over a longer period of time, have influence over the public acceptability and definitions of torture.

I bring this tangent up because INFLUENCE is exactly what we are talking about here. With Social Activism, a core group of activist attempts to influence the wider population to some form of action. What now constitutes a valid action is at the heart of Gladwell's argument. So back to the G20.

It was interesting watching the media coverage over that period of the weekend. It started off with many small articles of police concerns, overviews of the black bloc, what Torontonains should expect, the new powers of the Police etc. When the protests got ugly, I saw a complete disconnect between what was being reported on Twitter on the ground vs. the mass media. It was pretty astounding. On the one hand, you see videos of peaceful protesters suddenly getting attacked by police for seemingly no reason, all the while the mass media was mostly reporting out of control protesters.

However, as the stories grew and the evidence of photos, videos and first person accounts from 'trusted' sources like Steve Pakin, I could actually see the media start to become more critical. They started to question police accounts and began to report the Social Media from on the street. It shifted their coverage and I would suggest then shifted the overall public perception over time (although the truth is many people still dismissed the later coverage). If this isn't what political activists hope to do, then I don't know what is?

Ok, so I get that this is hardly a rock solid research methodology and in fact, I would love it if some PhD student out there decided to start looking at the impact of Social Media on Mass Media converge and it's subsequent influence on political discourse and activism.

But to get back to the heart of the matter - to dismiss Social Media as a tool within an Activists arsenal simply based on the fact that in all cases it won't physically mobilize people ready to die for a cause....???

Well, while it might make a great New Yorker article, I think it's full of flaws and just dead wrong.


lots of great commentary on his post from others

Anil Dash
Sam Ladner

The Atlantic Readers

Friday, 17 September 2010

Social Innovation & The Technology Of Change

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead)
One of the reasons I have always loved digital communications has been its ability to bring groups together for social change (which includes my own passion project It's Time To Shout). The first consulting project I got after my time at the Agency, was doing the corporate giving approach for one of the largest food brands in Canada. At that time, Corporations and the technology itself wasn't ready to be embraced as a core of a strategic execution. But the times, as Bob would say, are a changin'.

Let's talk "Social Innovation". There are many definitions but I'll give you my own:

SOCIAL INNOVATION: Businesses, platforms and programs built for positive change and social good

What I love most about it is the necessary connections of people on a deeper level. It's not just about 'common interests' but rather what DRIVES me. Some believe it's happening because the development of a 'Passion Economy', others look to the advent of Emotive Networks .

What ever the reason, Social Good, Social Entrepreneurship is every where.

Case and point, a new start up called If We Ran The World. (found via Ms. Oonie)

It's a simple of enough idea on the surface. Just put your good intention into the box and press click. The site either connects you with others who are already doing something about it, lets you start your own action plan or utilize what they call "micro actions" (I haven't really figured out how that one works yet).

While that may explain the function of it, I think their Founder Cindy Gallop's words are far more important for what's really going on on a deeper level - Once you take that simple action of typing some words, you are somehow forced to question yourself almost immediately (as the site goads you to action):

"What's your responsibility?"

The notion of Social Entrepreneurship is not just about doing good - it's about being good as well as being a business and making money all the while. In the past, companies used to ask themselves how can they afford Corporate Social Responsibility, but now they are beginning to understand that they cannot afford NOT to participate in the drive for change in this world.

There are many recent examples of brands jumping on board. They seem to be finally realizing the power to move and connect people (examples here, here and here) is a fundamental dynamic of our new networked society and one that brands can no longer afford to ignore.

So, don't be scared. Maybe it's time to ask yourself the question too. If you ran the world, what WOULD you do?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

My Cognitive Surplus: It's Time To Shout & The Story Of Elana Waldman

The last six months has been probably one of the most life changing periods of my life.

I’ll try the abbreviated version. I saw a video on Facebook of a friend of mine’s wife, Elana Waldman. Elana was talking about the fact that she had Ovarian Cancer and the reason that no one really knew about OC is because they’re were so few survivors.

For some reason, I couldn’t get the video out of my head. It actually bothered me. So one day I woke up and had an idea. If the awareness was low because there were so few advocates, then what we should do is get all the people who are alive right now affected by OC to put their stories up in one place – a living collective and memorial to speak for all women who have and might have ovarian cancer.

Elana and Mark loved the idea and www.itstimetoshout.com was born.

But the story doesn’t end there. At the time I had suggested this concept, Cancer hadn’t really touched my life in a fundamental way. But two months into the development of the project (with a whole lotta help from all my amazing friends), my own father got a diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer. Five months later, and about two weeks before our site actually launched my father died.

Bruce Mau has a quote, “Let Events Change You” and that is exactly what happened to me. It was a life changing, stop you in your tracks kinda life moment. A 32 year old woman who has a husband and a two year old daughter gets Ovarian Cancer and is fighting for her life. A seventy seven year old Doctor who happens to be my dad gets Pancreatic Cancer and five months later I am next to his lifeless body and saying a final good-bye.

Life my friends, is very short and can change in an instant.

My friend Lianne asked me if this got me thinking more about death and in fact, it hasn’t. What it’s gotten me thinking more about is - LIFE.

What do I want to spend the next forty years (Gd willing) doing with my time?

And that brings me to Clay Shirky’s new book Cognitive Surplus that I recently finished reading. Ok that’s certainly more weird timing. It’s a book all about our free time, what we choose to do with it and how we connect that to what we share of our lives. Not only as individuals but as a society and culture as a whole.

As he puts it,

“The cognitive surplus, newly forged from previously disconnected islands of time and talent, is just raw material. To get any value out of it, we heave to make it mean and do things. We aren’t just the source of the surplus; we are also the people designing its use, by our participation and by the things we expect of one another as we wrestle together with our new connectedness.”

I love the fact that Shirky doesn’t just skim the surfaces but makes the work readable all the same. And while I think he probably meant this as a business book, I think that anyone who is looking to use social technologies to further social change should really take a look.

As for me, I’ll take a number of lessons as we do our next phase of outreach for It’s Time To Shout. Twitter has been an incredible platform for us and it’s not just about the number of “followers” we’ve managed to connect with having only launched a few weeks ago (over 150) or our Radian 6 reach (over 550,000).

It’s about the conversations and connections between Elana and the community of people who are touched by Ovarian Cancer and what our movement can mean to all of them.

For more on our project please go to visit our site to see Elana’s Story at:

Follow us on Twitter at

Check out her video blog on Chatelaine.com

And for Clay Shirky’s new book check it out on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Cognitive-Surplus-Creativity-Generosity-Connected/dp/1594202532

Monday, 30 August 2010

Dinner Is A Technology Free Zone

My 14 year old daughter made a declaration the other day...

"Dinner needs to be a technology free zone"

And she's got me thinking. It's about the polarities.

Wanting to speed up and slow down at the same time.
The Mercedes Benz in the Walmart parking lot.
Always needing to be connected and therefore needing to shut off completely for a while.

I wonder if her generation will be the one's to say enough. The always on, all grow'd up with the network generation.

Maybe they will have a reaction that no one expects.

A let's take a break.
Turn off the stream.
A stop with social media conversation and just have a real one for a change.

If not always and often, at least maybe, at dinner.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

We May Be Stupid, But We Are Also Your Users

Mathew retweeted a comment by @jeffsonderman that I thought hit the nail on the head when it comes to the decision by Google to drop Wave:

"My lesson of Google Wave: Innovate by evolving from users' existing habits, not throwing them a whole new, weird thing"

I have to say, I tried Wave for about a day. Holy crap. Atta way to make me feel stupid. I had no idea what the hell was going on. I'm sure it was innovative but really who cares? If i can't use it because it's too complicated to figure out, what's the point?

It was a constant issue when I was working on my own start-up, Oponia. Some of our tech team would get really frustrated when I got the feedback from people using the product. The phrase, 'what are they stupid' used to come up a lot.

It's a serious lesson whether you are a start up, a big company coming out with a new product or taking a look at making relevant marketing communications.

Never over or under estimate your customer because you may think we are stupid, but at the end of the day, we are also your users (whether you like it or not).

photo credit: http://www.obey.com.pl

Friday, 16 July 2010

Social Media Fashionistas Have Discovered This Thing Called - Advertising!

Ever since the Old Spice man commercial launched I've found myself extremely amused at all the hype. And let me just say, it's not because I don't find the whole campaign brilliant. It is.

But that's just it. It is a brilliant ADVERTISING campaign.

Let's try to deconstruct a possible brief:

1. AXE is considered more innovative and progressive in the younger demographics.
2. Once someone finds a cologne they like, they rarely change unless someone buys them a new scent.
3. Just fixing our product and coming out with new progressive scents isn't enough because our problem isn't awareness, it's perception.

Target: Women who purchase new scents for their boyfriends

Objective: Reposition the brand (note I didn't say sales Scott ;)

Customer Insight: Old Space is considered cheesy, for old guys, smells like grandpa (H/T to James)

Strategy: Use the bad perception and turn it into a good thing (ala Avis Cars - we are number 2 we try harder)

Tactics: Good old TV campaign and seed the campaign in our owned social spaces (duh)

Now watch and listen. Come up with more ways to engage and be innovative. Extend it even further and use the new network to drive excitement (thus the brilliant Twitter campaign the other day).

So advertising is dead? Tv doesn't work any more? When my 14 yr old teenager walks up to me and starts saying, "I'm on a horse" i KNOW it's working.

Smart insight. Great strategy. Brilliant Execution.

The End.

P.s. I'm personally still waiting for the guest spot on a relevant TV show for the Old Spice guy
pps thx to the two Jeff's (Himel and Burton) for pointing out my blogging too quickly spelling and accuracy errors. Always appreciate the crowd source editing love

Monday, 5 July 2010

iPhone Films, Tree Art Transporation & A Diaspora

An iPhone Film, Tree Art Transportation and a Diaspora....What do these things all have in common?

Kickstarter a website that helps funds creative projects.

Flip through the projects and get inspired. Maybe even fund one or two and you could end up with a profile on IMDB (I'm miscellaneous crew) like i did when i contributed to a film a couple years ago!

ps. for anyone who was following our start-up Oponia, Diaspora is exactly the same product. Start up lesson number 245, timing is everything ;)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The iPad Generation & The Reinvention Of Paid Media

According to Apple, 2 million iPads were sold in less than 60 days. iPad believer or not, it's a pretty staggering statistic particularly as the iPad is more of an inbetween device.

There have been a number of people who have come out and said that they aren't convinced. Fred Wilson says he prefers his browser to apps on the iPad - but Fred also hated the notion of the Kindle and changed his mind 18 months later for the very reasons I think he is going to change his mind about apps.

And I think Interface labs missed the point when they said it's just like the old CD Rom days.

This isn't like the old CD Rom days at all. There is something much bigger going on here.

It's still about the network:

CD Roms were not networked. You had to go to a store or have them mailed to you (thank you AOL). Now I know that sounds kinda dumb but the experience of the CD Rom wasn't the problem. In fact, CD Rom experiences were pretty awesome in some cases. But they were expensive to make, hard to distribute and impossible to update on the fly.

Teaching us that free isn't always better:

If the open Web taught us to expect everything for free, the app store is helping us recalibrate to the notion that paying for something if there is value is ok again. I've spent a good $25 bucks US for my ipad including a fun $2 app that allows my 18 month year old son to finger paint on a touch screen. Watching him scared because he was afraid he was going to hurt his finger? Tell me what that is worth ;)

We are still at the early phases:
While Wired and Sport Illustrated prototypes are criticized for what they lack, we are talking pretty early days here people. Book readers are now accepted, and magazine readers will be as well.

What will this mean for marketers and advertisers?
Everyone thinks it's ONLY about community and engagement? There is a advertising revolution that is going to storm our industry. Immersive experiences - motion graphics, video. Transmedia storytelling like we have never been able to execute in our wildest dreams.

So criticize away and ignore it if you want. Or like me, GET READY. Because we are coming into a new world, an iPad generation and whether anyone likes it or not, the reinvention of paid media.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Fatal Flaw Of Facebook

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. - MacBeth

I don't understand why Facebook continues to use the old "ask for forgiveness and not for permission" approach to their privacy policies.

Mathew points to an article by Bruce Nussman that asks the question if Facebook has a cultural problem? Mathew says yes but that if they move quickly enough those mistakes don't have to be "fatal".

I'm not so sure. The issue is definitely cultural and it's one of core DNA. Zuckerberg has always been about closed and exclusive - it's been at the core of what made Facebook so successful in the first place. He has the attitude (that some call arrogant) that assumes Facebook is the boss and can do whatever it is they want without major repercussions. Can't you just hear 'em? I bet you pounds to peanuts that Mark said something like this:

"Oh come on guys. No one's going to leave FB because of this stuff except for a few zealots....besides if there is a big backlash, I'll just apologize like i did for Beacon. No harm to foul!"

But I think Mark (and Mathew) are wrong. There is harm, and as any good Shakespearean professor will tell you, that's the problem with fatal flaws - they are generally fatal. It's not one decision, but the accumulated path of a thousand smaller decisions. Just ask Rupurt Murdoch who believed that Myspace was his space. I think we can all agree now, he was wrong.

I've said it before in my "Zuckerberg Shrugged: Man vs. Ecosystem" post the network will go around obstructions. When the network IS your business model, not proactively soliciting feedback on major changes to your service, will eventually be your kiss of death.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Ecosystem Marketing Lesson #1: Open Language Builds Open Cultures

Do any of these things look familiar to you?

Customers now control your brand
Social media should be owned by corporate communications and marketing
HR depts don't have the bandwidth to police social presence
All companies should have full time community managers
We need to build communities not campaigns

All pretty innocuous sounding. But look closer. There are some words that I think are part of a much bigger problem that we need to start to shift.


Our usage of language has always been at the heart of how we cultivate culture. If we agree that marketing has to change to a more open approach, (what i talk about in my ecosystem approach to marketing), one of the easiest things you can shift is what language you use in your every day life.

Consumers can become people.
We can focus on proactively empowering positive decision making vs. policing negative actions
We should cultivate and guide communities vs. control or manage them.

The list can go on and on. It's time to start a change. Start that change with the language you use in your organization. It will be one small step for you and one larger step overtime for your new way of marketing.

(feel free to add any other phrases to the comments and i'll add them to my list :)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The iPad Will Only Be Good If [Fill In The Blank]

Sean got his ipad. You cannot imagine the hooplah in our office. It will like he was the second coming and it was the holy grail. Pictures posted on Facebook. Circles of people gathering to pray to the mighty Apple Gds.

So i was surprised to read people like Fred Wilson not being particularly impressed. He said:

"Over time it may turn into a mainstream computing platform but I don't think it is there yet and I don't think Apple has the kind of hit on its hands that it had with the iPhone."

And today he had a different post on a completely separate topic that quotes a Venture friend (that is my oxymoron of the day) of his on the future of the ipads success:

"iPad’s fate depends on entrepreneurs inventing new kinds of killer apps. (remember how desktop publishing saved Mac?)"

Moments later, Sean sends me this amazing video of a 2 year olds first experience with an ipad:

So yeah I agree with Fred and his friend and probably everyone else out there on the planet. The iPad will only be good if:

- you want to use it for Kids under 5
- you want to use it for kids over 5 and under 12
- you want to sue it for over 12 and under 19
- you want to use it for a book reader
- someone develops a killer app
- you want to blog while exercising
- you want to watch movies on the plane
- you have a document to work on and don't want to drag your laptop to the coffee shop
- [Fill In The Blank]

photo credit: The lovely photo of Sean courtesy of Marcia Brady Shapiro on FB

Monday, 29 March 2010

Why Greatness Fails In Research: The Case Of Pie vs. Cake

Jasmin flipped me a brilliant link today around an argument as to why pie beats cake. On first read, while not only being funny, I have to say, pie on paper seems better than cake. Why? The author presents the following research:

Pie enjoyment is more sustained over the eating experience:

Cake has uneven frosting distribution:

Flavour anatomy is better with a pie:

Pie has a role in powerpoint presentations and cake doesn't:

This list goes on and on.

At first blush it's hard, no maybe impossible to refute such a strong argument. Again, on paper. But see, that's the problem with some types of research. What they don't take into count is the things you CAN'T see. What's not on the piece of paper - what you can't see is the deeper cultural implications that drive our imperfect decisions on a daily basis.

When I was 6, did my mom make me a pie for my birthday? No. She make me a cake.

Marie Antoinette. Did she say 'let them eat pie?" I think not.

Is there a show called Pie Boss, The Ace of Pie or the great Pie bake off? No, no and no.

Pie has its place but that place is not the same space in our hearts and our minds that cake has.

All of this to say, just because the research tells you so, doesn't mean it's true. Greatness can and has failed in research and if you don't believe me, just look at the case of pie vs. cake.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Living The Artists Life

When my daughter was in grade two she had a dance performance where the kids were told to dress like rag dolls.

Cee asked me to help her do the costuming. For her make-up I gave her big lashes in the forms of black painted lines of the top and bottom of her eyes. Her cheeks were cherry red circles that matched with her exaggerated fire engine red lips. To top it off we took black string and weaved it into her hair to create bangs and funky looking rag doll braids.

She looked amazing. She stood out. And as you can imagine, being in grade two, that's not always an easy thing. Her best friend Jessica was less than impressed and proceeded to laugh and make fun of Cee as sometimes kids do and encouraged the others to join in.

Cee came to me with eyes streaked with tears not understanding why everyone was laughing at her.

Here's what i told her:

To be a great artist means that people will either love you or they will hate you. But worse than that, the very worst worst thing for any artist is if people have no reaction at all and don't take any notice. You should be proud that you stand out and while it's not always easy, it means that you are an artist!

It's with that context that I read the Seth Godin Quote that Jted posted (by the by haven't had a chance to read Linchpin yet) below:

"I don’t think success is showing up, doing what you’re told and then going home and watching television… I think many people in [advertising] aren't artists, actually, but people working hard to do a job or please a client. Artists do more than that. They inflame critics and they make change and they do things that makes themselves and others uncomfortable."

It's funny because Jted said that it lit a fire to his soul, while our friend Dondy in the comments fell into the "we don't create art" camp. But I don't think we are talking about art here (in the Rembrant or Andy Warhol kinda way). I think it's about how you chose to live your life and make decisions every day.

And that's what i was trying to teach Cee. People sometimes forget to tell their kids how hard it is to be different. What struggles and stresses there can be when you chose to live your life thoughtfully (hopefully) challenging the status quo. But I don't think regardless of those challenges, that I could strive to live my life any other way.

By the way, in the end, I asked my daugther if she wanted me to take off her make up all together. In perfect and classic Cee style she looked at me with her beautiful blue rag doll eyes and said

"well not all of it, but maybe Mommy if you don't mind, maybe could we take off just the cheeks?"

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Viral Video, Propagation & The Role Of Agile Marketing

I wrote a post a in 2007 that has been getting more and more traffic in the past six months. Agile Marketing. Basic Premise - the speed of change and networked ecosystem has demanded that we change the way we market.

And you know, it's really bugging me because social media type people keep using the ecosystem word, but sometimes I wonder if they really get what that means.

We aren't just sitting here creating stuff in a box.

It's interactions (not conversations).
It's a system we are part of (not one we create or control).
It can't be predicted (the only means of prediction is simulation).

Gareth Kay has a most awesome post (that everyone should read right now) on a new study by Millward Brown on how less than 15% of TD ads are 'viral hits'. Gareth takes issue with the entire premise behind the study and how they have even defined viral (for the best bits make sure you read the comments where Millward responds and then so too does Gareth).

But it's not really their fault. All that they've really done is taken how traditional agencies and companies have defined viral. And should we be surprised? Most of them have used traditional media measurement models and applied them to online video.

How many people have seen my video (aka TV commercial that I put online)?
How many people have shared my video (aka turned it into free media)?

Humph. So much for the medium is the message. So much for who we are reaching vs. how many.

The truth is that if we continue to apply traditional advertising models onto mediums that have completely different dynamics we will continue to be disappointed with the results.

It means Agencies have to change but it means clients have to as well.

In the comments Gareth talks about some emerging research by Mark Earls and frankly an entire school of thought that is looking to changing behviour through action (and active media) vs. persuasion via watching (passive media).

Because if it is "less what we do and more about what people do to what we do" - shouldn't we be putting our Agile marketing beliefs to the test?

Peter had a great quote that he first used in a Tao of Internet marketing presentation in 1998 for magazines Canada (too bad we didn't have slideshare back then):

Emergent systems are those in which perfect knowledge and understanding may give us no predictive information.... the optimal means of prediction is simulation.

A big fancy way to say:

We cannot create viral videos.

We cannot predict what will propagate (why or even how).

We cannot create community.

We cannot apply mass marketing thinking and models to a networked medium.

What we can do is discover a pattern, observe the underlying dynamics, create something (a utility, a story) and put it out there - see what happens and repeat.

And until we do that, the only thing we will continue to repeat is our own mistakes.

Photo Credit:


Monday, 15 March 2010

News Flash: Marketing Is About Doing Things

A lot of people like this amazing presentation from Zeus Jones because it says that Social Media is not a communications vehicle. I like it because it says something much more important (cuz I think everything CAN be a communications vehicle).

Marketing is about DOING things for people. Not just saying things to them.

Behaviour change is about demonstration and walking the walk together - after all customer experience IS the marketing proposition.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A Girls Pledge

My beautiful, smart and all around wonderful 14 year old daughter came home the other day and told me a story. At the end of it, she said,

.....And then, J told me I was over emotional. OVER EMOTIONAL! I am not. Do you think I am?

My immediate reaction? Why would you be apologizing or ashamed of being emotional? Cee, I have something I want you to watch with me.

So for those of you who have not seen this TED video (it has been linked to all over the place) i say watch it. But more importantly, for those of you who have daughters, if you haven't shown it to them, I say do it NOW!

Cees and my mantra now every time we are getting emotional and starting to get those looks from the boys in our lives -

we are girls. we are emotional creatures. :)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Changing From The Inside Out

Peter was telling me this morning about a Agency that was trying to make significant changes in how they work and their go to market strategy. And I've heard a bunch of these more than usual lately because of the panic about where dollars are shifting.

In some cases it's technical digital pure plays who want to become more creative and brand driven.

In some cases it's creative mass advertising agencies who want to shift towards the digital future.

What strikes me in all cases is how they go about it. A few thoughts on it.

You cannot buy change

Companies often try to buy the new vision that they have for themselves. Maybe it's a traditional agency buying a digital shop or a digital shop buying a branding shop. I can't think of one example where the 'buy' and integrate has worked to change the original company in any way, shape or form. I can however, think of many great places that ended up being destroyed by being purchased by a company that didn't understand the fundamentals as to why the company they purchased was successful in the first place.

You cannot hire change

The other strategy many companies look to, is to hire for change. I know, let's put a traditional marketing person as our Managing Director and that will change our production focused digital shop into a more integrated Agency. Or how about, we make our chief creative officer someone from a digital pure play and have all our traditional creative directors report to them? I've got one word for that. Oy.

You cannot rebrand your way to change

Changing a logo, and writing new brand values and promise will not change who you are unless you operationalize it. If you've redone your brand lately, ask yourself if anything else has changed? Have your HR policies changed? Has your new business approach changed? Have you changed your management style? Your language? Anything? Bueller? Anything?

You cannot process change

I recently had someone in my office who was telling me about a company that was trying to become more strategic vs. executional. The solution? Take a few of the strategic people, separate them out from the general organization and then have them try to re engineer the overall process and then mandate that to the rest of the group none of whom report to them. Oh dear. Recipe for disaster.

How does change happen?

Change happens from looking at your very DNA. You cannot change from the outside in. This is not a shallow exercise. It cannot be one thing. It cannot be top down. It cannot be about a colour palette. True change has to be from the inside out and has to be about actions and like i said just the other day, it has to be reflected in every decision that you make every day.

More on this later.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Anti-Social Media

Dear brand X...

I've got something to say to you:

Twitter isn't going to fix your bad customer service issues.

Your nice "how can i help you message" to my @customer isn't going to make anyone believe that you really care. And it definitely isn't going to fix your fundamental company wide DNA problem.

In fact it will amplify it.

So before you go into social media spaces, make sure you really mean it. Make sure you are really ready for it. Don't run the risk of turning social media into anti-social media and making my madder than I even was before.

So my advice to you?

Fix your business problem before you pretend to try to fix my customer problem.

Best Regards,

Your customer.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Keeping Culture Alive Or Building A Living Culture

@designthinkers twittered the question: can we keep a culture alive when business, processes, every day reality takes over?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. What does it take to build a great work culture? In my industry, marketing and advertising, creative culture is at the heart of what makes our products and services stand out to clients. Without a creative culture, we fail. So as my bubie used to say, how can we afford not to buy?

We build customer experiences all the time for our clients, but how much thought goes into building experiences for ourselves? From the first interview to the first day on the job...

Building brands and brand experiences starts with us.

It isn't a matter of money, or about other priorities getting in the way.

It's a matter of choices.

Every day, every moment choices.

For me that changes the question from how you keep a culture alive to instead how you need to build a living culture.

It should be how you think and it needs to become part of your DNA, not your business strategy.

Our workplaces are ecosystem and ensuring the health and sustainability of them, should be one of our first and most important priorities.

ps. slideshare presentation to come in the next two weeks - have had an idea of the ROI of building a creative culture and now i really must get to it.

photo credit: http://psixp.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/creativity.jpg

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Whose Brand Are You Anyways?

Thornley Fallis a Canadian PR Agency came out with a new “online communications policy" . The one line that immediately struck me as odd was "your always one of us". While that phrase disturbed me, it is hard to argue their logic. Their policy states:

"You may be active in social media on your own account. That’s good. But please remember that whether you are on your own time or company time, you’re still a member of our team. And the judgment you exercise on your own time reflects on the judgment you exercise at work. There’s only one you – at play and at work."

In fact, research would support this. Our personal and work lives are increasingly becoming completely intertwined in a way that our HR and Social Media policies (if we are progressive enough to even have those) haven't even begun to understand.

On a similar note, there has been some recent controversy around Forrester's new blog guidelines that states that analysts personal blogs on non-Forrester domains must not discuss their area of work expertise. Mathew Ingram's post over at GigaOM has some interesting ideas that suggest that research needs to be social and therefore Forrester's decree moves in the wrong direction.

What i found interesting is that so many of the commenters seemed less concerned with Mathew's social research premise and more concerned over individuals abilities to build their own personal brands. On the opposite end of that, Brandsavant blogger and Forrester client Tom Webster has a great post on why he agrees with Forrester's approach.

Thornley on the other hand doesn't want anything shut down and in fact, allows total freedom with this one little stipulation. He states that he is:

"comfortable encouraging people to post freely if they know that their actions contribute to the achievement of our objectives."

And by objectives he means the four key objectives of their company. I get it. I get that they are trying to be transparent and open. In fact, are trying to take the opposite tact of Forrester but I worry that such a broad policy could be easily taken out of context. Mark Federman wrote a very thoughtful post on this subject that I highly recommend you read (and Joseph Thornley has commented as well)

All in all, I find myself not liking any of the approaches or options laid out and yet I'm not sure I have any meaningful alternative to suggest (gotta love that).

Forrester just shut stuff down. Not liking that.

Having no restrictions seems like a recipe for disaster from a Corporate brand perspective. So don't like that.

Thornly wants me to think about my companies objectives 24/7 and as a friend of mine put it, unless they are paying me 24/7 I'm not thinking about them 24/7. So not liking that.

All that leaves me asking the question, whose brand are we anyways?

What do you think?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Calling All Slacktivists

Am i an environmentalist because I toss my plastic cup into a blue bin?

Do i care about the homeless issue because I give a loonie to someone begging in downtown Toronto?

And if i click on a join button to support a cause does this actual mean anything?

Apparently, if i think it does, than i just might be a slacktivist. What's that you ask? According to our friends at Wikipedia:

"Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is considered a pejorative term that describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts also tend to require little personal effort from the slacktivist."

My first experience of using technology for social campaigning, was my friend Jay's efforts with Greenpeace to 'fax the feds'. And one of the reason I've always loved the Web is its accelerated ability to ignite social causes.

This slacktivism thing has gotten me worried. I'm wondering if rather than having the effect of furthering social change, it's actually doing the opposite. It's allowing people to feel like they are doing something when really, they aren't at all. I'm glad everyone is feeling good, but I'm less glad that they aren't thinking more about doing good.

So that's my thought today, think more about DOING good.

Calling all slacktivists to join me....

ps. should i start a Facebook group???

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/85853333@N00/2414018946/

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Story Ecosystems (A Thought In Progress)

Been struggling with the entire story telling metaphor. Partially it's because I've always seen the dynamics of online spaces mirror closer to ecosystems (being networks and all) than linear models.

Maybe there are some ways to merge the two. The truth is as marketers we do create the nucleus of stories (whether that be the creation of a brand, expanded brand, actual communications or even capitalizing on a story that exists and extending that to our brand). The key is to allow for emergence and focus not on managing that story but understanding that we are actually alongside everyone else, we are part of it.

Anyhoodle, don't know where it's going but any thoughts anyone else has would love to hear 'em. :)

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Right Way Or The Same Way?

My Uncle Benny was an incredibly wise old Rabbi who had a store in the Junction neighborhood of Toronto for a gazillion years. One of his favorite sayings was,

"A cart that pulls in two directions, goes no where. But a cart that pulls in the same direction, goes further faster."

When I think of most large organizations and their marketing efforts, more so than understanding the latest buzz or Social Media phenom, the biggest issue is getting everyone moving in the same direction. Companies are usually organized by verticals often with competing goals from each other.

But customer experience is becoming the marketing proposition and that experience goes across verticals and doesn't much care about your internal issues. Our expectations as customers are that you are going to not only NOT compete with each other, but actually talk to each other and create a seamless experience for us. While it may not be perfect or the 'right' way, at least it will be moving in a consistent and collaborative direction - or as Uncle Benny would say, a cart pulling in the same direction.

And that is my advice for Marketers in 2010 (digital or otherwise). Forget about the bandwagon and think more about the cart and pulling it as a team in the same direction.

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