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.

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