Free Pants. That’s Right … Free Pants

Freepants Eaon Pritchard has an interesting post on branding and marketing for small business. What is excellent about this post is the way that he encapsulates and studies some of the most successful (recent) social marketing campaigns while emphasising both measurement as a definition of success but also the need to think creatively about social media as a medium.

One of the factors that Eaon emphasises is conversation and "talkability". While we "talk" or write about conversation, two of the critical elements are often overlooked — substance and surprise. These go hand in hand … you can have the best and most substantive product or service in your industry, but if there is no accompanying "suprise" factor, then the launch will be dead-in-the-water. A good example is this post by Robert Scoble explaining that no matter how funky Utterz (a new Twitter competitor) is … it won’t fly without a social network uptake.

I emphasise the word uptake here on purpose. You see, "surprise" is an important response because it indicates BOTH an emotional response and an action … and this overcomes our desire to RESIST. So if our copy, our positioning, our storytelling and our interaction strategies are not designed to surprise … then we run head-long into a barrier (it’s too hard, I don’t have time, no one is using it). This is what is meant by thinking outside of the box … and that is precisely what the picture above is about — but to learn that story, you will need to read Eaon’s post right to the end.

Update: BL Ochman has a great post on the whole Stormhoek story with more background and flavour.

What Do You Do?

For years I have been asked by my family and friends, "what do you do"? When you are immersed in a role or a project it can easily become your "world". And increasingly, as my work became more globally focused and international in flavour, my day-to-day working life became more disconnected from my family’s world.

The daily emails, conference calls, uploads and downloads that are the substance of my day were anathema to members of my family who work in more traditional roles. And the outputs of my work, from documents and presentations to deal-making and presenting, the world of the knowledge worker is very strange (regardless of whether you are a marketer, salesperson, designer or IT architect). This has accelerated significantly with my personal adoption of social networking tools such as blogs, Flickr, Facebook and virtual worlds.

And while all this allows me to stay in contact with my virtual teams and wider communities it also provides yet another way of alienating my family and friends. The presentation below, by IBM Metaverse Evangelist, Roo Reynolds, helps answer the question "what do you do?". Now all I need to do is get my friends and family to check out my blog. Hmmm … now that could be a challenge!

Age of Conversation Podcasts — The Promiscuous Idea

Some time ago I was interested in what I was calling the "compliant idea". These compliant ideas are easy to implement and tend to very quickly take on a life of their own … I am sure you have seen them from time to time.

But as I wrestled with the concept I found that a good, strong definition eluded me. And just when I thought that I had it nailed, it would shift. While I am not normally put off by such setbacks, I decided to leave it. To wait. You see, I wasn’t quite on-board with the compliant idea — it still seemed too immature in its form. Oh, and I didn’t like the name … it wasn’t sexy enough and it didn’t carry the weight and momentum that I hoped for.

So when I was beginning to think about my 400 word chapter for The Age of Conversation, the compliant idea began to raise its head again. This was great, because I was beginning to feel the pressure to deliver … there were some great chapters arriving in my inbox each day and the quality was excellent. So as I returned to the idea of the idea … I hit upon a new tack. Something that was more about the idea than about the person conceiving it … something a little more dangerous.

My chapter, The Promiscuous Idea was written in about 40 minutes. To find out more, you will need to buy the book … but you can catch some of my thinking in this very first Age of Conversation Podcast by David Brazeal. David will be featuring one or two authors each episode … so make sure to keep checking back.

A Map For Your Digital Strategy

Getting from A to B is easy if there is a straight line. But there never is a straight line, is there? There are complications, challenges, issues and risks. There are fears and behaviours to be overcome, politics to entertain and clients to appease. And when it comes to digital strategy, you have to add in technology and all the latent and real fears and anxieties that come along with it. But, from a pure technology point of view, it is now easy to navigate thanks to these folks.
Oh, and how did I find out about it? From the new source of social media goodness over at BellamyHayden.

Mobile Gets Serious

It is always interesting to watch the way that innovations are driven through a society. What starts out as a simple idea builds and grows, morphs and is adapted … until finally we get something like the mobile phone. At first they were large and unwieldy, but as technology improved the batteries were reduced in size and no longer needed to be carried in a case.

Nowadays, we can pick up mobile phones so small that they are hard to hold. This makes them perfect for kids.

Meanwhile, the underlying technology and the supporting infrastructure has also improved, meaning that I can now watch TV episodes, listen to podcasts, play games and use eBay wherever I may be. For marketers this is gold … we are forever talking about "playing where our consumers play". We talk about using their words, hanging out in their MySpaces or getting up and into their Facebook. But for all the talk and for all the investment, there are few brands who realise the all-pervasive opportunities opening up through mobile networks. In fact, many brands simply do not see it.

And fair enough.

It is not actually about marketers and agencies and brands. It is not even about technology or telcos. It is about people. It is about the way that we are changing individually and collectively … thriving more on connection than isolation. So what started as a gadget has now become an accessory … a standard item in the utility belts of our lives. This, for us, has been a shift — but for the 8-10 year olds, or even the tweens and teens, this is status quo. In fact, it is almost OLD.

Should brands begin thinking about mobile digital strategies? Only if they want to remain relevant.

Car Marketing Gets Sexier, I Mean … Smarter

Bmw_m3_challenge006 I have always been disappointed by car marketing. Sure there are the occasional diamonds, but in general, the marketing of cars seems largely to miss the mark. This is especially true online where sites provide wallpapers, 3D animations and feature lists. But none of this adequately captures the aspirations and emotions of the car buying public. It doesn’t feed into our extended sense of self, it doesn’t play into the visceral excitement of driving … and certainly doesn’t capture the palpable energy of the fan forums that have built up around the various manufacturers.

That is why I am excited by this new initiative from BMW. Building on the digital efforts of BMW films, the switch has been made from passive entertainment to immersive interaction — creating a new computer game that allows you to drive the latest M3. This is an interesting move into a cross-over category for serious games where the elements of online/computer games are employed with a serious or business objective in mind (let’s not forget selling cars is big business — as is gaming).

With the M3 Challenge, rather than waiting months for a test drive, potential buyers can run a few laps of the German classic Nurburgring course. Of course, this will build brand allegiance with not just potential buyers (this is about as close as I am ever going to get to drive an M3), it will filter down to all car lovers.

What I am keen to find out is whether there has been an integrated viral/social media execution built into the game. For example, high score submission, challenge/invite a friend, auto-blogging/in-game photo uploading etc. I will download and let you know …

File size danger — the download is a whopping 340Mb. Buckle UP!

MarryOurDaughter Hoax

So it seems my disbelief had some foundation! After generating 20 million page views this month, the owner of has come clean. The NYT reports:

“People get angry so fast they don’t stop to question whether its real,” says the creator of, John Ordover, who masqueraded as the site’s fictional publicity director, the unlikely surnamed Roger Mandervan.

Mr. Ordover is a science-fiction editor with a prankish history and an interest in urban nudism.


So while the site has generated a lot of buzz, the most interesting thing will be what happens next. I am interested to observe, because it is a trap that many marketers fall into — sure you can generate buzz, but how do you convert this into a business success. As Lewis Green would say … where does the money come in? Is there an upcoming book launch? A new product? More importantly … is there an audience with an apetite around this?

The Luck of Seven

Originally uploaded by noneck

Noel Hidalgo (obviously a Gemini) is on an open source journey. Literally. He is travelling the world and documenting it via social media as he goes. Interestingly he is actually MEETING up with the people that he has been in contact with via the web.

As he says on his site:

for seven months, he will traverse the seven continents, dive into the seven oceans, and attempt to visit the seven ancient wonders of the world. using a new media voodo (blog, vlog, wiki, flickr, couchsurfing, twitter, myspace, dopplr, and facebook), noneck will harness the collective knowledge of the globe, and report weekly on seven topics of freedom. Before he leaves, he is fundraising US$11.11 from 700 global residents.

To help fund this, you can donate $11.11 directly from his site. In return you will also receive a self published children’s book incorporating the lessons learned from his travels. At the moment he is out of funds in India … so if you want to see the story continue, drop by and kick-in.

A Moment of Ambient Intimacy

In following a series of links about Twitter and its potential, I landed on this great
post from Leisa Reichelt. But rather than talking about the technology,
Leisa takes the human side, talking about how this technology can
influence and affect our behaviours and emotions. Twitter, she says, is
a form of "ambient intimacy":

intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level
of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to,
because time and space conspire to make it impossible. Flickr lets me
see what friends are eating for lunch, how they’ve redecorated their
bedroom, their latest haircut. Twitter tells me when they’re hungry,
what technology is currently frustrating them, who they’re having
drinks with tonight.

But the Twitter-stream can go way beyond
ambience. It goes to the heart of social currency, and also to driving
a deeper and more trusted connection between people. For example, the
other day I was scanning my Twitter feed, smiling at the short
conversations that would pop-up. One was a short burst from my friend Luc
who was just taking his princess to the park. That short snapshot
stayed with me … and even though I did not respond (it was, after all
about 5 hours ago), it made me think of Luc and his family out for a
stroll. It made me smile.

And this has a clear emotional impact. It is the stuff of life. And
it helps us keep in touch with each other moment by moment … even
when the timezones or planets do not align.

From Inspiration to Action

It is easy to see something and THINK about it. We can be outraged in our own chairs, behind our desks, in front of our computer screens. We can be weighed down by the challenges of the world and our own inability to effect change. And the longer we sit with our thoughts, the more difficult it becomes to move. To change. To act.

But there is real opportunity now available to you. You can turn your back on the morose and embrace the light.

Vote for Boney M.