Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Like A Rolling Stone

This drives me nuts. The owner of Rolling Stone and US Magazine Jann Wenner says that he thinks the ipad will take a generation or two before we see major behaviour change that will see an en-mass switch from print magazines to the ipad.

I'm not really sure which generations he's talking about. I mean, maybe he's referring to my 2 and half year old who just showed my forty something friend how to turn off the ipad the other day when she couldn't figure it out. But even if he is ...

It was only twelve years ago that I sat with a group of Sr. Executives at a major video retailer here in Canada. We told them they were going to potentially be out of business within the next ten to fifteen years and needed to consider their long term business strategy in the context of the work we were doing and pointed to Netflix. Guess what. They thought we were out of our tree. And then they said.....

"Who's side are you on anyhow?"

Well, last week my local blockbuster put its entire movie library for sale last week. Going out of business.

I think it's best to give Bob Dylan the last word on this one:

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you ?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Business Of Brand & The Challenge Of Transmedia

I've been following the blurring of the line between Brands and filmmakers for a while now. l love the idea. I love what Gunther Sonnenfeld and others have to say and agree with many of the fundamental tenets as I've worked with brands my entire career to create content and narratives.

Where I stumble - particularly with brands creating (meaning leading the process, having approvals, going through legal etc.) deeper narratives with cultural impacts, is in the fact that brands often have very narrow platforms for the creation and building of value/s.

In the work that we do at Gravity, we have processes to expand brands to wider platforms in order to better operationalize them and in fact I've been using that process for over ten years. However, powerful narratives are often based on complexity. It's about characters or situations that could be morally ambiguous or are filled with the complexity of a range of our human characters both good and bad.

Brands, even great ones, will never be able to encompass that level of complexity because it ultimately goes against the principles of building great brands in the minds of customers in order to sell products. Having worked on a number of projects now that are films looking for brands or brands looking for films, the conversation inevitably goes towards approvals, control and a discussion on what are the impacts to the brand if the content goes off course from the values of what the brand stands for.

The business of storytelling and the art of it might be blurring, but they are NOT the same thing.

I fear as a brand marketer and innovation driver that many companies and agencies are going to go down wrong minded paths. It wasn't so long ago that many Agencies sold their clients large scale multimillion dollar websites for pet lovers and now they are doing the same for communities of interest (come tell YOUR story about OUR product and WIN as if that's interesting to anyone). What's next?

I believe there is a significant role that brands can play in this so called Transmedia world. I'm working on a number of projects as we speak. But it sees the role of brands often as investor, empowerer, enabler and participator vs. controller and creator. I think there is a big difference and I think we should all give a great deal more thought to how this could play itself out or we will end up not only wasting a lot of brand dollars but we will damage a market that is clearly ripe for change.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Start-up Marketing 101

Having a failed start-up has been one of the greatest learning experiences I've ever had on many levels. In particular, I've learned a great deal with regards to being efficient with marketing. But as I've watched the start-up market, I've realized that it goes beyond that. It because they have no marketing budget, they have to behave differently when it comes to how they build ground-swell for the company and products. Build it and they should come, is not really a winning strategy. It all comes down to passion, connection, culture and community. So, I put together this slideshare presentation as a way of gathering my thoughts around what exactly they were doing that big brands and all of us as marketers could learn.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Developing Network Brands

Oh beware my hyperbole. Rather than doing Yoga this morning in an attempt to help my aching back, here I am writing a blog post about branding.


I said i strongly disagreed with this post by @jinal_shah

Now strongly disagree was probably the wrong phrase. Because sure I believe a lot of the things she is saying in the post. That being said, how one constructs or approaches something is as important as the common sense that is underneath it. I would say that I think there is some wrong mindedness that is going to lead people in the wrong direction. For today, I'll just start with the first sentence (and I'll try to get to some more commentary on the weekend when i have more time).....

"Digital is a broad term and encompasses a variety of skill-sets and channels to achieve specific goals"

Well, sure i guess so. However, this is where the problem starts.

If you don't see digital as a universal language that has driven the convergence of devices, applications and standards then you won't understand that digital is everything...

People in the advertising industry talk about digital as a channel or skills. They create departments and put people in them that have words like social media in their job titles. This will lead you to integrated or convergence communications which isn't a very new idea or way of doing business at all. It's status campaign quo at this point or should be.

It will not lead anyone to understand why brand now have to have purpose - or create shared beliefs with their customers. Building a network brand and the concept of thought leadership are not interchangeable. While Brands need POVs, the concept of a networked brand is so much bigger than that one piece it again leads one down a wrong path to view them as the same.

Ok sorry, that's all i have for you this morning. The toddler is throwing his iPad in my general direction. If you want some more on network brands and how I view things have changed you can always go over to slideshare and read the two presentations i have up there - Web Circa 2000 an presentation on digital branding from 2000 and Ecosystem Marketing from 2007.


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