Danger ahead

I have not used a street sign for a while … and saw this and loved it.

There have been a few dangerous blog posts circulating over the past week — merging the personal and political agendas of some of my favourite bloggers. Interestingly it has generated a LOT of discussion and debate … and shown that we really are a passionate bunch.

It has been a great, exciting but quite exhausting week (see yesterday’s post). I am sure that there is more to come … and there is blog debt still to pay. Oh … and I think I also owe Mike Sansone a big thank you for suggesting one of my posts for his Whistle Stop discussions.

What a great week … It’s only half over?

Originally uploaded by C book.

My blog debt is kicking into overdrive this week. I can’t believe it is only wednesday and already I am way behind on the topics I would like to think/write about. It is just as well that Russell is away this week.

  • Tara has a great post on hiring clients. We often think that we have to take on everyone who walks through our doors, but it IS important to be selective. (Of course, if you can’t be selective, be profitable.) Tara has done the hard work of learning some of these lessons … just so we don’t need to!
  • While I did have a quick think about this … I expect it is the sort of post that I will need to go back and revisit. Take a look at Dave Rogers’ interesting post on marketing, Second Life and the new crayon.
  • Richard Huntinton has an interesting take on what it can be like to boldly go where no agency has gone before — social responsibility ahead of its time. Remember, just because you are, doesn’t mean the industry or the public are.
  • Paul McEnany has been writing beautiful, thoughful and thought provoking posts for a while. This is one of many that I would like to muse on.
  • And Seth Godin ranks here too with this post. One percent effectiveness? Wow … and they say that return on web initiatives is low!

Have I missed anything? Got something you’d like to share?

Oh yeah … one post that I would like to do on anticipation. Roger over at Creative Think blog is sending me one of his cool Ball of Whacks. Waiting for it … talking about it with friends and colleagues etc is an interesting phenomenon.


Cold, Getting Warmer, Getting Warmer … Hot!

No this is not a post about global warming (actually the Austalian Government continues to place global warming next to Santa Claus in the credibility stakes). It is actually about a really neat proximity oriented outdoor marketing campaign. It plays on the concept of curiosity which is something I have been thinking about for the past week or so (courtesy of Stan).


Stop looking at the girl. Look at the arrow. That’s right … 300m to the right. Keep walking. You are getting warmer. OK … I admit it … it’s not really about curiosity.


But now you can see you are only 100m away. Actually, you are 100m and a click away … if you want to see where this leads you, you need to click here.

So, actually, it is about curiosity. Thanks to Ariel for the link.


Wishing is Not a Business Strategy

Originally uploaded by _mpd_.

Sometimes our clients think that we have a crystal ball … that somewhere in a dark corner of our offices there is a black velvet curtain under which lies the holy of holies … This magic orb is supposed to house a potent mix of business/brand strategy and the ingredient that will turn an idea into reality.

Of course, this is the role of the agency … so we should not complain (and I keep my crystal ball in my bottom drawer) … but an agency cannot manage a client’s internal alignment. We can talk big picture strategy and brand-customer engagement but we also need to make sure we truthfully tell our clients what it will cost to DO what they want. We need to prompt the conversations that will ensure the project succeeds for our client WITHIN their organisation as well as with their target audience.

Steve Vaught has a great post over at Mike Wagner’s Own Your Own Brand blog that speaks to all of us who deal with clients — internal and external. He references the five forces of brand ownership, focusing on "truthfulness" and explains the challenge for strategic execution is to deliver on your promises — "branding isn’t about something you say, it’s about something you do".

As marketers our challenge is to take on some elements of brand ownership. We need to be responsible for helping our clients understand where a program will work — what the barriers may look like and how to avoid them. We need to be realistic and advise our clients about the business impacts of success and wild success. And even though they may provide poor briefs we can’t just with the challenges away. We tell our clients not to expect a wish to come true, and we shouldn’t expect it either. We need to plan and prepare and guide the way. As Steve says "wishing is not a business strategy". But planning should be.


CK among the pigeons

Cat among the pigeons
Originally uploaded by Dan65.

I knew it was going to be a busy day when went to get my Daily Fix and saw CK’s featured post. My first thought was "how do I respond"? It was a passionate and strident article on the portrayal of women in the media and the effect it has on our body image. If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so!

Then I ventured over to CK’s blog and found yet ANOTHER article laying it on the line — this time about Darfur and the humanitarian crisis unfolding there. Oooh, I thought … CK’s on fire! Can my brain keep up?

I flipped back to The Fix … but there was plenty in the post that I needed to digest. I wanted to wait and see what thoughts came up during the day. So then I went back later and there were some GREAT comments — if you are reading the post, take some extra time to read the comments, because there are some excellent additional insights and personal anecdotes that help to illustrate exactly what CK is talking about.

One of the points that I really liked was Tim Jackson’s comments on the challenges in changing behaviours and opinions:

I’m one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever encounter and even I don’t believe we can change the world that much… but I’m still gonna try.

But it made me think … if some of the best marketing and communications professionals around can’t effect some change in areas that we consider important, then who can? Some of the best advertising and creative work I have seen has been done for pro bono clients … and it seems to me that there is a DIRECT connection between passionate creative commitment to a cause and the quality of the work. The YouTube of this struck me like an axe.

Really, we need more of those axes. Great stuff, CK!


IBM is blogging

IBM is blogging
Originally uploaded by Marjut.

Not that blogging, or community is new to IBM, but I was interested to see this landing page at the IBM site today. It is great to see the way that they are promoting the work of their internal bloggers.

It is also a quick way to get in touch with a recognised expert in a particular field.

It is interesting that some of these sites have been operating for some time, but have now captured the attention of IBM marketing. Of course, it is about community and building a blog to a point where there is a strength of numbers … so it will be interesting to see how many new blogs are added to the IBM repertoire over the following weeks and months.


New Horizons

new horizons
Originally uploaded by Sebastian Darkhorse.

Looks like Diana is searching new horizons for her next gig. If you have never visited her site before, she lives in Bucharest, has an excellent visual/photo-storytelling ability (especially as it relates to her travels) … and, of course, has some excellent insight into the Romanian market and the use of social media.

Be sure to drop her a line if you are looking for someone in her neck of the woods.

That Second Life has got to hurt

in second life
Originally uploaded by mk30.

OK … I admit I have only had a cursory glance at Second Life … but I have been very interested in the number of agencies etc that have been opening up a virtual office. It is almost like a gold rush … there is a lot of energy and a lot of scrambling for position — and it seems to me that the majority are replicating the same real world approaches rather than taking the opportunity of reinventing the fundamentals of what they do.

For example, do a quick search for Second Life over at Flickr and you will find countless side-by-side comparisons of real people next to their avatars. There is obviously a strong desire to create a virtual mini-me … and agencies are falling into the same trap. Sure it is good to engage and play with new technologies and online experiential environments, but it is also important to grapple with the underlying structures — and virtual worlds are closer to communities than they are to real world simulations.

Then I found this great quote over at Dino’s blog, by Tim Hayward from NMA:

like everything, else they’re trying to do it by forcing their existing model into it. Brilliant – now the world’s virtual, lets build an ‘agency’ around a ‘creative department’ and get some people in to design us a piece of sexy and expensive real estate… I don’t want this to sound like a Bill Hicks rant (actually I do) but WAKE UP PEOPLE – this is exactly where you screwed up in the old world.
Watching old-school agencies do stuff like this is like watching your Dad dancing at a wedding. You might have a sneaking respect that the old bugger’s still got the gumption to stand up and give it a go – but you really wish he’d sit down before he makes a complete prat of himself.

Check out Tim’s full post here. Dead funny. And serious.

UPDATE: Minutes after first posting this, I am reading David Armano’s blog … and there is an announcement about Crayon — the new mashup agency-type thing about to be launched by Joseph Jaffe, Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz. The aim is to reinvent and learn-on-the-fly, the new practices that are/will be required by communications/marketers in the virtual communities. It will be interesting to see how it all goes.


You’re Not from ‘Round Here

Originally uploaded by doug12345.

Ever wanted to comment on a blog, but felt a little shy? Ever wondered what the consequences might be of entering the conversation?

There has been a bit of debate around the 90-9-1 rule over the last week or so, and it is clear that there are plenty of "lurkers" — those that visit/read your blog but don’t actively contribute.

The first time you contribute to a blog can be nerve wracking as well as exciting. How will the author respond? What about the "regular" contributors? I remember the first time I submitted a comment to Russell Davies’ blog — I held my breath as I hit the submit button. It is particularly daunting where there is a strong community, where each contributor appears to know the others — and Russell definitely had a group of regulars. But entering the conversation is one of the most enjoyable things you can do … something that brands seem to miss (but that is a whole other post).

So if you are yet to start adding to the conversation at your favourite blog, it is time to step out of the shadows. Say hello, most of us wont bite.


New Perspective on Photography

On the Phone
Originally uploaded by diverzify.

As a child I was fascinated with photography. I loved the dials, mechanisms and light meter needles. I loved the exotic brand names and funky model monikers. And I loved the spools of film that were threaded through internal workings.

But most of all, I loved the idea of speed. I was absolutely intrigued by the thought that you could capture something at one one-thousandth of a second. It seemed that, at that speed, you could find something secret in the folds of the world.

One day I discovered that my uncle kept a Pentax SLR camera in a box under his television. It was never used — there were too many dials and buttons. The instruction booklet was in pristine condition and the cameras had that "still-new" smell about it. So everytime that I visited, I would seek out the box and the camera — and the instruction booklet — and learn and play.

Originally uploaded by Hello, I am Bruce.

My first camera was a Zenit SLR camera and it was the best Christmas present ever. Prior to this I had always used my mother’s camera … normally of the "Instamatic" variety that were so popular in the 1970s. But my camera was different … it had interchangeable lenses — it had a light meter and required manual focusing. There were arpetures and F-stops … and numbers and dials everywhere. And I loved the complexity of it all.

I have owned many cameras since then … and, of course, I have a digital camera now. I also have a mountain of photos that document various times in my life (it was very expensive for me to develop films as a child, so my earliest photos are smaller in number). In some instances, these photos are my only memories of distant events — while other photos will trigger whole and rambling memories. I am sure that many others feel the same — cameras and photos are intrinsically linked to the stories of our lives.

So I was fascinated to read this post by Dina. In India, the mobile phone camera is the first exposure that many people have had to photography. And as the shots are digital, there is no cost to snapping … no film or development costs. It made me think back to my first camera and my excitement and pride (yes I was proud of that little Zenit). It made me think of those old photos that I took — and the way that I started viewing the world differently (I am still drawn to ready-made compositions through doorways and architectural angles).

But most importantly it made me think about imagery and history. With millions of Indians now starting, for the first time, to experience the joys and wonders of photography, there is bound to be an explosion of imagery, imagination and history. We live in wonderful times indeed.

Thanks to Diverzify for the image via Flickr.