This is a great little 2 minute clip from TED that reminds us of the importance of trying to break out of our typical patterns of thinking....something that's really hard to do but always worth it.It took me back to an early moderating training course I did in London where we were warned about the problems of "already listening". This is the trap we so often fall into where our ears are tuned in to listen for and confirm our existing beliefs and switched off to things that challenge our hypotheses. This all reminds me to beware of jumping to a conclusion when sometimes it's the complete opposite that's true.
Earlier this week, a research team from Warwick and Sheffield universities in England claimed to have finally answered a question that has stumped philosophers for centuries, "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" More here.
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How we will refer to the causality dilemma moving forward is clearly up for debate.
For many of the world's men, the airtight equation for camaraderie consists of one or both of these addends: beer and sport. The summation quite often includes both in the case of a big game. THE big game. Such as the UEFA Champions League game between AC Milan and Real Madrid football teams.
In a brilliant activation strategy, Heineken Italy proposes that the "most sacred time men have left" is at risk, then devised a stunt to call out the increasing influence external factors have in pulling a fan away from his set (and his buddies, and, well, a profitable beer occasion). More narration will only act as a spoiler, so spend a few minutes with this excellent case study to see how, ultimately, Heineken went viral, celebrated the sanctity of male bonding and created authentic engagement with its brand.
Cheers to the weekend.
At the start of my career in the early 90s, I interned at a new agency in London called Mustoe Merriman Herring and Levy. I was a wannabe junior planner, so when I met with the planning director, I was determined to learn as much as I could from him. He passed on this pearl of wisdom about planning that I still remember today. He told me a story about commuting on the train during the winter. It was a dark evening and as his train slowed down to a station, he looked out the window and was able to see into the kitchen of a house near the train tracks. In the kitchen, a woman stood at the sink doing dishes. The train stopped and he was able to watch her for a moment, and she was singing (maybe to a song on the radio, maybe not). The house was close enough to the train that he was able to see the brand name of the dish detergent she was using. He ended his story by saying..."that's planning".
I thought of that the other day when I came across this wonderful series of short films about the lives of New Yorkers run in the NYT back in the summer of 2009. It showed me that even though we are often looking for big insights or truths that resonate with huge numbers of people, it's the individual stories within that reveal the gold. The piece is called 1 in 8 million. A belated Happy New Year from Egg - 2010 has started like 2009 finished, hence the rather late first post of the year!
I thought this week’s Brand Camp cartoon was pretty spot-on and thought provoking. It talks about how excited we are about social media as marketers, and yet how little respect we give it as permanent and public representation of our brand. In many ways the rules and tonality with social media are much more complex than those of more traditional outlets, and should probably be managed as carefully as we fuss over the typeface in our advertising copy.
Kanye West's brand took a big hit when he misbehaved at the MTV VMAs a few weeks back and he's been keeping his head down since, even going so far as to cancel a proposed tour with Lady Gaga. But perhaps in a surprisingly frank move today, he released a copy of a short film made by director Spike Jonze, which got a ton of online coverage. The film, called "We Were Once a Fairytale", is about 7 minutes of Kanye acting like a drunken moron in a club (thereby reinforcing all the things we're coming to associate with him), then a bizarre bathroom scene where he cuts open his stomach and removes a little troll/goblin/demon mouse character, which promptly kills itself and Kanye sobers up sharpish. It's definitely a self indulgent piece, but its frank depiction of a drunk and unattractive Kanye must have been some kind of catharsis for the man and surely the exorcism of "his demon" has to be taken at face value. By way of an apology (even if the film was made prior to his MTV shenanigans), it's a pretty interesting new layer to his brand.
Interestingly enough, as I went to find the video to post, I discovered that it has been removed from the web from all the sites that were hosting it. At Kanye's blog, he says "sorry I had to take it down:(".
Any good brand has layers for its consumers to discover - I wonder this most recent one of Kanye's was a little too much to bear. It's a shame he didn't leave that one out there for longer...but perhaps that was the point.
UPDATE: Here it is...back online this morning:
I came across the photographer Fred Herzog a few years ago and loved a retrospective of his work shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2007. Walking through the airport the other day, I came across this shot, showing a bunch of kids at a corner store and the obligatory retro style ads for Coca-Cola. The one I loved was for 7-up, with the fabulous message "You Like It..It Likes You". Six words that basically sum up the goal of online brand relationship building. From 1960.
From a business point of view, the last year has essentially been about the economy and what we were once told was the worst recession since the Great Depression. I've long held the belief that the depth of recessions are manifestations of our own fears, i.e. we're told there's a big recession, so we slow our spending and boy, wow, we're suddenly in a recession. I'm not discounting all the significant economic indicators, but I believe false pessimism leads to a deeper hole than one we might originally have been in. So I was interested and chagrined to see this graph, courtesy of the Societé Générale which shows how economists are largely far more optimistic about recessions than the reality.
As James Montier, the author of the report wrote, "when you look at their record, it's clear that the three blind mice have more credibility". A question I'll pose now and try to answer later is this...if economists can be this wrong about predicting future behavior, how about brands?
The myth of the Kennedy Camelot was perhaps one of the most artfully crafted and executed examples of branding of all time. With Ted Kennedy’s passing today, we have lost the last thread to the old, whimsical, romanticized vision of the Kennedy name.
And, while Teddy almost single handedly dismantled the brand in his youth, he matured into a steady patriarch who quietly upheld the brand equities throughout his long and lauded career.
It was the Kennedy’s who paved the way for a campaign like Obama’s; hung on symbolism and a vision of idealism, simplified and packaged for popular consumption.
Sadly, it seems that the Kennedy brand has been left to wallow in the inexpert hands of the next generation, as have so many carefully composed luxury brands of the past.
Goodbye Camelot, you were a lovely, sweet dream.
A few weeks back, there I was waxing lyrical about getting a personal note from the pilot on a United flight which made me reconsider my lack of emotional connection with my airline of choice. Shortly after that post I also heard the first rumblings of a story that has gathered massive momentum online since. The popular "United Breaks Guitars" story has been everywhere with almost 4.5 million views on You Tube, coverage on the Today Show, Jimmy Kimmel etc. It certainly makes the United brand look shabby and tight-fisted. In a nutshell, musician Dave Carroll saw United baggage handlers tossing his checked bags around for fun, including his beloved Taylor guitar which was damaged to the tune of $1,200. The song is about him trying to recoup that money from the airline.
Clearly in this case, the big loser is United - apparently when this story became so big, United's share price dropped $180 million, a caustic reminder that brand reputation does have a dollar value. Most news coverage on this has focused on the humble Dave Carroll who has been a maestro at playing the social media game, so he's the obvious winner. However, in my view, the biggest under the radar winner here is Taylor Guitars - the small Caifornia-based manufacturer of the eponymous guitar. Here's a brand used by some of the most renowned musicians worldwide (Neil Young, Dave Matthews) and Sting, suddenly sitting on a piece of PR gold. Based on this response, I've got to think they didn't really make the most of the opportunity.
As for United, they're getting even more stick from other country musicians singing about how awesome their competition is. Brand damage by country music song is a pretty sorry stage of affairs.