Monday, January 26, 2009

Model T or Model S?

The Fuzzy Tail
View more presentations or upload your own. (tags: ux agile)

‘People are our assets’ is the clich├ęd proclamation heard often in agencies. The unimaginative way we utilize the people in the business is the ‘Liability’. The balance sheet is now perfectly balanced. Now, it is not difficult to understand why bean-counters dominate the agency business (or any business for that matter) It is also not difficult to understand why exceptional talent is leaving the agency business (besides money…er, the beans)

Agencies love to typecast and slot people in various silos - Advertising, Digital, Direct and so on and functional silos like Account Management, Creative, Planning or whatever. For multi-faceted people with overlapping skills, these silos are akin to a coffin. They feel trapped. They choose to move on. I also think that these silos are the reason why agencies rarely provide a truly integrated marketing solution (the USP of all agencies) for the brands. It is left to a CP+B or an Anomaly to provide breakthrough solutions regularly.

Giles in this interesting analysis on T-shaped people has talked about the overlap in skills amongst people and how agencies need to reinvent in order to do well.

Taking it a step further, David Armano, in the intriguing and interesting presentation above, talks of the S(Sun)-shaped model that his agency follows.

Model T or Model S, agencies will not lose anything by experimenting or evolving their own model and thereby making the best use of multi-dimensional people. It is also high time agencies became creative again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Twitter Backlash

Here’s a link to the post about how a seemingly innocuous tweet from a senior PR Executive led to a backlash (Link via Chris Brogan. Thanks)

For the reader it would be funny but not so for the PR man and his PR agency. He must be the next popular man from the US in the blogosphere after Obama.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Preach Marketing"

“Mother Teresa is my role model and like her I want to help the poor”, said one contestant while wiggling her butt. 

“I want to use my breasts to promote world peace”, said another contestant. 

The crowd cheered and hooted for them. They were declared the winner and runner-up respectively in the beauty pageant. The public just shook their head and said, “What a bunch of phonies, what a bunch of airheads!”

Brands that are busy espousing a cause are different. They are not like the above mentioned beauty contestants (how dare anyone imply otherwise). Here’s another scenario.

MoralGas Industries as part of its ‘Cause Marketing’ strategy decided to ‘Save the Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in the Upper Gangetic Plains’.

After extensive research and intense discussions with their agency, they arrived at a powerful desired response for the campaign - “Oh! MoralGas is saving the Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in the Upper Gangetic Plains? I will buy it.” Agency, after numerous iterations, came back with a tagline that captured the essence of the strategy, ‘Gas of the nation’.

If they had cared to find out the spontaneous reaction of the toad to all this, it would have been “I want to croak”

The campaign broke. MoralGas got extensive sound-bites in media. In fact, the CEO of MoralGas got to kiss the Red Speckled Toad on National Television (The toad in its excitement peed on the special shoes of the CEO made from the skin of the endangered Squint-eyed Crocodile of Sumatra). The agency went on to win awards at numerous ad festivals, locally and internationally. The campaign was declared a success with sales increasing by 50%. MoralGas Industries was declared the Social Marketer of the Year. Everybody was happy.

The Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in Upper Gangetic plains decided to migrate to Gobi Desert.

This Cause Marketing business is one of the biggest viral today that is slowly turning into an epidemic. The reason is not difficult to understand. In a country like India there is no dearth of issues (or causes). However, there is a paucity of role models. Marketers think there is an opportunity to take a moral high ground and fill this gap with their brand. They are actively encouraged by their Agencies and Brand Pandits who scent awards all the way. The Award Juries also want to be seen as being politically correct. This is a dream win-win situation for all concerned.

It is open season now and the party has just begun. Brands along with their partners are crawling out of the woodwork every day with their causes and with a single-minded objective, Preach India!

(Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge ‘The Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in Upper Gangetic plains’ and ‘The Squint-eyed Crocodile of Sumatra’ does not exist)

(Picture courtesy: Phantom Kitty)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Graffiti on Air Force One?

Is it a plane? Air Force One? An event?

This event demonstrates the extraordinary lengths to which people go to create a buzz for the brand. View the interview to know more about this event.

But the 'Mother of all events' is the famous shoe made in Turkey and thrown in Iraq. Read about the buzz it gave the shoe manufacturer here. I also learnt a couple of pointers from this event on how to create a buzz. They are as follows:

It should be spontaneous and real (or at least close to real), the brand (or product) should only be a via media to convey the message (it should not be overtly 'The Brand') and lastly one needs a sucker who is prepared to cool his heels as a guest of the government.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How US Air Force blogs, twitters and flies high

I came across this interesting write-up about how US Air Force has taken up with a war-footing (pun unintended) to using social media. The Air Force Blog Assessment Tool, Counter-Blogging and the fact that they have a dedicated Emerging Technology Division should be an inspiration to lot of corporations. In fact, the author is as surprised (as us) by the fact that the Corporate world is reluctant and slower in adopting social media as compared to the US Air Force.

In this connection, Robin Brietman's (Interactive Insights Group) latest post has useful links to the Collaboration Project - National Academy of Public Administration of US - which has Case studies from Federal, State and Local government bodies. It is inspiring to say the least. It must also be mentioned that I find Interactive Insights Group blog to be an extremely useful resource at all times.

In this time of recession, Agencies and Social Media Experts should focus on Government projects. That is where the money is. In the case of India where there is a crisis at every corner, social media can actually help in creating a relatively cleaner and transparent government.

The fact that the Government itself is a source of most crisis might prevent this from happening.

(Image Courtesy: Fellowship of the Rich)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

IBM Tree - A Cool Green Application

There is no better time (and place) to spread the message of ‘Save Trees’ than just when the print command is given. What I like about it is the simplicity and universal appeal of the idea.

I couldn’t help sharing this application made by my employer Ogilvy Bangalore for IBM.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How Daniela and family were saved by social networks?

Blogs and other social networks are abuzz with the story about how Daniela and her family have been helped from sure destitution by a blog from David Armano. You can read the full and inspiring story posted by Servant of Chaos.

I guess, it won't be long before banks and corporations start approaching social networks to bail them out :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What is a brand?

Brand is the Holy Grail that marketers and agencies alike profess they are sole custodians of. Some times discussions and presentations take the brand to some metaphysical realm causing severe hallucinations to the participants. It would be funny if the people involved did not take it seriously (or is it funny because they take it seriously?).

Here is a wonderful interview by Gaping Void (Hugh Macleod) with Mark Earls, who had in his book 'Welcome to the Creative Age' questioned our conventional notions on brand and marketing.

Brands, I guess, will always be alive in spite of the best efforts of marketers and agencies to build it.

(Picture courtesy:Stephthegeek)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Social Media or Socialist Media

‘We’, ‘share’, ‘collaboration’, ‘collective’ are some of the terms used in connection with Social Media. These are also terms normally associated with Socialism. Does that make social media a socialist media or at least give it a socialist hue?

Some of my friends vehemently disagree that there is any connection between social media and ‘socialism’. I must also admit that they are big fans of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and view the individualism (and capitalism) preached in it as gospel.

John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco and apparently a Republican supporter, is using Social Media (and not Socialist Media!) tools amongst other things to transform his company in this cover story. I have a healthy distrust of PR plants and I hope that this cover story is not one of them. The story, however, is very inspiring. I also like the bit wherein the journalist quizzes John Chambers – pulls his leg actually - about ‘bringing socialism’ in his company much to John Chambers’s irritation. That’s good fun. That apart Cisco’s moves are a lesson for other companies.

Coming back to the question as to whether it is Social Media or Socialist Media?

Social Media represents the free and natural spirit of humankind. Terms (or feelings) like ‘socialist’ or ‘capitalist’ are insignificant and have no place in social media whatsoever. Full stop.

Thursday, January 1, 2009