Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
It's amazing how much people will pay for a litte piece of history. When the property of former chairman of NASDAQ, now jailbird Bernard Madoff, was auctioned on Saturday, his personal property was much in demand.
A personalised New York Mets jacket, worth $720, sold for more $14,500. A set of golf clubs went for thousands of dollars above their intrinsic worth.
The Madoff "brand" is imbued with infamy and scandal and the history of the GFC. People clearly want a piece of it, at a highly inflated price.
It's a demonstration of the value of brands: people buy a story, not just a product.
It also goes to show that there are people more shallow at large in the world than the perpetrator of what's been described as "the biggest fraud in Wall Street history".
Monday, November 16, 2009
What does concern me is that I also read and watch enough of the things my clients and consumers are into. I think some of the most useful questions to ask a client are: What do you consider indispensable reading/viewing? Where do you go for inspiration and entertainment? It helps me see how they frame the world.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Personality profiles, such as Myers-Briggs, cast people as introverts or extraverts based on their natural tendencies and attitudes, specifically, the degree to which they are energised - or not - by the company of others. People are roughly split 50-50, except for the Americans, who are overwhelmingly extravert.
As it turns out, I’m ideally suited to a one-man mission to Mars. Over the years I've adapted to human society through responding to my environment. I now speak to people on a daily basis and, at times, I even like it.
Enough about me (not least because hasty personal disclosure is naturally unsettling to me), the point of this article is as follows: in a socially networked, always-on world, in which people are increasingly defined by their social contacts, what hope is there for the introvert?
Social networking for introverts is not as counter-intuitive as it seems. Roy Morgan data indicates that teen gamers are highly likely to admit to both shyness and sociability - in other words, they have introvert tendencies, but they like to engage socially through online networked games. For those teens, who are too gangly, or too spotty, or too shy, the Internet is the perfect place to socialise comfortably. It’s like being together - on your own. A happy medium.
The Internet provides myriad opportunities for ‘hide and seek’ and, as such, is well suited to introverts. They can hide, or manipulate their identities, disclosing only what they want others to see. They can reinvent their appearance and their lives through creating their own imagery, through role play and storytelling.
The tools at their disposal include virtual characters, or avatars, blogging, gaming, texting and Instant Messaging. You may have heard that these are social tools, but don’t be fooled.
Blogging is something I’m personally passionate about. Unlike those who love forwarding YouTube content, bloggers tend not to be flashy extraverts. Video forwarders like to make a big impression quickly, impressing their friends by being the first to spot the next big thing. Bloggers like to disclose their true selves gradually, making others privy to some of their innermost thoughts, but in a controlled way.
Control is an important aspect of the online environment for introverts. Being able to set up your profile, your alerts and your news feeds to your exact specifications opens you up to the world, but on your own terms. It’s your very own walled garden, inhabited by your idealised version of yourself and your idealised friends.
In summary, it is possible to get social without baring all. Below are my tips and tricks to do just that.
1. Ignore ‘friend requests’ on Facebook. It may seem churlish at first, but would-be friends soon forget the snub; they're busy clocking up new friends. Also, look out for introvert-friendly promotions, such as Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice, a deliciously fiendish promotion, which encouraged people to shed extraneous Facebook friends in exchange for a free Whopper.
2. For profile pictures on social networks, use an obscure body part, reinvent yourself as a siren, or create an avatar. In Japan, where the culture is such that people are less inclined to plaster themselves all over YouTube, avatars are particularly popular and pets are more often the stars of online video.
3. If you’re one of the many people who’ve succumbed to gaming thanks to the deliciously versatile Wii, create your own Mii avatar and get social with other Miis online at Mingle.
4. If you have some time on your hands, get to know the worlds of second lives. Join World of Warcraft and become the alter ego you’ve dreamed of. If you think it’s weird, check out what kids are doing in Club Penguin, or Habbo Hotel. They already socialise in these worlds, as if they were extensions of the playground – but with considerably more freedom. In the real world they can’t even drive, while in Whyville they can take out a loan to buy their own, customisable Toyota Scion.
5. Join a niche social network that reflects your interests. Then you can get away from the masses and mix with people who are genuinely like-minded. If you love dogs, hook up with other dog lovers at Dogtree. If you’re into extreme sports, join Loopd. While you’re there, you can even get ‘sponsored’ by a brand (basically you get ‘insider’ knowledge about new products).
6. Get passionate about your favourite pastime and start a fight in Hey Monkey Brain!, located within the blogging site Squidoo. It’s a great way to engage strangers in a heated argument with no danger of any physical argy-bargy.
7. Make sure your contacts are up to date: that way you can vet your calls/Skype/IM more effectively. You don't actually have to disable IM - so you still have the semblance of being constantly in touch. Also, prepare a list of excuses for why you were indisposed.
8. Tweet disinformation. Create a fictional life of adventure and dubious virtue through your Twitter updates and Facebook status updates. But isn't this disingenuous and against the spirit of social networking? Bah, humbug, absolutely not. Provided your tweets are entertaining, who cares?
9. On the other hand, if you’ve no inclination to constantly update your status for the world to see, but are tired of being hounded by colleagues about whether you’ve joined Twitter yet, sign up and then never let Twitter darken your screen again. You can still say, “Yeah, I joined ages ago.”
10. Leave Facebook. Create your own blog or community on Twine. Define your own path. Even extraverts may find that the road less travelled can be the more interesting.
This article originally appeared in Marketing, October 2009.
Perhaps more so than any other industry, we have our own pet topics and we talk things up. To an outsider who landed in our world, Twitter is apparently the zenith of communications and the Whitsundays must surely be the most visited islands on the planet.
Mumbrella recently reported that the Whitsundays aren't in fact enjoying quite the boom that hype about the Best Job in The World campaign has led marketers to expect. That's because, in the non-advertising world, the campaign ran, spiked popular interest in Hamilton Island and then gradually faded - a fact which escaped us, because it continued to grab the headlines in our press.
The graph below, from Whitsundays online blog (for the full article see the post below) shows the spike of interest at the time of the campaign, in terms of online searches for Whitsundays, Whitsunday and Hamilton Island in 2008 to 2009.
But, for the advertising industry, thanks to awards, PR and general frenzy, the chart is more like this:
So, I tune out, turn off and drop out of adland as often as possible. I have entirely random interests and tastes. If I'm going to have a warped perspective - which is inevitable, in the absence of a god's eye view - I try to make sure it's warped in all sorts of directions.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Moon is apparently the story of a lone man and a droid, who harvest helium-3 from the moon, on behalf of Lunar Industries, to provide the Earth with clean energy. Not your cup of tea? More's the pity.
Moon is actually the story of what it means to be human and how control is exerted through misinformation and the abuse of power. It turns out that Lunar Industries are a tad unscrupulous in the HR department.
The relevance to brands? A brand can appear to be socially responsible, through information control and careful positioning, whilst actually being quite hypocritical. But, should the truth emerge, the results can be very damaging.
This has a bearing on all sorts of debates in communication, for example, the question as to whether Dove can legitimately champion "Real Beauty" when the same company conveys the stereotype of female beauty in Axe/Lynx commercials. A Google search of "Dove + hypocrisy" currently yields 233,000 results.
Companies with high profile CSR programmes likewise need to ensure that their integrity isn't compromised. With the power of social media, the truth will out.