One for the iTunes geeks

In the flurry of web surfing following Christmas Day, I noticed this interesting little article. In it, John Masone explains how you can create a web remote control for iTunes. Sure it only runs on Mac OSX but it just goes to show the lengths that people will go to when they love a device, a technology or brand.

Seth’s Seminar

Hey … sorry I missed this earlier, but I have been on holidays catching up with the family.

I just had a quick look at Seth Godin’s blog and saw this. It is a day long seminar hosted by Seth Godin in New York. And while I would love to attend myself, I am guessing my boss would be reticent to pay the US$1650 + airfares etc for one day. BUT … if you happen to be closer to New York than I, then I expect it will be more than money well spent. You will be sharing the room with the rare breed of strategists, leaders and entrepreneurs who prefer action and quick learning over planning and risk management.

Anyone going? I would love to share your notes! ha!


Sleepers Almanac

In a time when publishing houses are closing their doors and going for the safe option, it is great to see a duo with a passion for language and writing bringing some exciting new writing into the world. I only just found out about Zoe Dattner and Louise Swinn’s Sleepers Almanac, and while I like the idea of the almanac (especially its title "The Deathbed Challenge"), I love the network and community that they have built around their publishing house.

Sleepers Publishing have built a strong, tight-knit community of writers and readers by hosting regular salons. They use their website to keep the community engaged and up-to-date, and they rely on the passion of their regulars to generate word of mouth and ultimately sales. Not bad work for a two-person company.


Groovy Girls

Remember when you were a kid and there were toys that really linked in with the way you saw yourself? Looking back now, I could see that these were toys that had a story that I could understand, but also a story that I could make my own.

But these days, I look around and see toys that want kids to be something else. They are not so much about story – just about money. Hey, I don’t have a problem with that, but really, if you are going to fork out hard earned dollars for a toy for your kids, then you want it to be for a toy with heart.

Call me old fashioned, but didn’t we leave the industrial age behind for a reason? Didn’t we (as a society) come to the realisation that children were entitled to a childhood? And, if so, why do we continue to produce toys that encourage kids to age-up?

What a breath of fresh air it was then to discover Groovy Girls. These dolls look like little girls, they are individual, diverse in terms of ethnic makeup and provide a fresh perspective to girls during their formative years. And while they may not quite be a Purple Cow, some at least dress in purple. And that is groovy.


Oh – and they have a great website. Check it out!

Ever Pulled a Pig?

There is much to be said for uncovering the truth.

A buddy of mine runs a boutique agency specialising in regional marketing. They have just released a new TVC for the Steel River Brewery (another story in itself) in Newcastle, New South Wales. By working closely with the brewery, they have come up with a new beer brand and a campaign that is going to get tongues wagging!

Check it out here.

Is it remarkable? You bet! Both the brewery and the agency were true to the market, true to the message, and dared each other to launch this cheeky new brand. You have got to love a dare!



Sometimes a Google Ad can lead you somewhere good!

I was just looking at one of Terry’s games and saw this link. The short ad to "Plant your own seed" led me to the GE site. I loved the metaphor and was interested enough to follow through.

A Flash interactive movie encouraged me to type words and see what would grow. Obviously certain key words worked better than others, but I found it fascinating to write/type and see what happened. Interestingly, when you follow the link through to the main Ecomagination site, you are already in an organic mind-set. You are relaxed and open to an alternative experience, because you have been concentrating on imagining new words.

And because you are in that creative mindspace, you are waiting for, and hoping for, a creative but corporate website from GE. Do they deliver? Well, you tell me!

This is a very interesting way of stimulating a web visitor. Through clever design, GE have been able to prepare visitors for an engaging and creative experience. But then, I love a story.


The Secret

Travelling always makes me quiver. There is something profoundly existentially unsettling in moving across borders.

So as I am perusing the book shelves at the airport, I am naturally attracted to a book with familiarity. But it is not just familiarity, it is an empathy with the writing of the author that I am attracted to.

Eva Hoffman’s The Secret was a book I had never even heard about. Whenever I am in a bookshop I always look for her work, usually finding only copies of books I already have. So this came as a surprise.

I am still reading through it from the hotel room and have deduced already some of the plot. But is that a problem? It is not the story that holds me, it is the manner of its telling.

Eva Hoffman’s stories generate organically from a deep sense of personal history. The narrative she follows forms points of collision – where real and imagined histories coincide with her story. It is this depth, this layering, that makes her writing so compelling.

Again, I return to the primacy of narrative. Without the story, we have nothing to say. When we meet someone, we tell them our story (about our life, work, family) so that they can come to some knowledge of "us". What is your story? Can you tell it well? I think there is a secret to storytelling and it has something to do with authenticity. More to come on this!


Want to Know a Secret?

For the sneakier amongst you, take a look at this site.

This viral-oriented site allows you to send an email to a friend that helps them calculate their love for one of their "crushes". The sneaky bit, is that the site takes your information and emails it back to the friend who recommended the site.

Sounds good at first instance, but it has caused quite a stir at my workplace. If you like a little chaos, feel free to recommend to someone at yours!


Changing the Game

To make a difference you need to go beyond the brand. You have got to go to the heart of an experience. You have to ask a question and not accept the throw away answer.

As marketers we are often asked to accept the wishes or ideas of a client, but how many of us actually ask that client a simple question – "why"?

You may be surprised at the answer … or perhaps not.

When a client sends through a brief, we can all respond to the request … but the brave marketer, the innovator will take a harder look at the requirements, and hopefully, question the brief itself. I like to think that we can sometimes ask the question that the client has not yet imagined … and in doing so, create something that will "change the game".

But before we can change the game, we have got to have the courage to change our own approaches. Maybe we even need to reimagine how we see ourselves. Perhaps we need to be, as Seth Godin suggests, "architects" rather than "marketers".