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America 2.0 – when Generation X reaches The White House August 29, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, work/life.

This is the first post in my series on the A to Z of 2.0.

Yes we can.

Yes we can.

Barack Obama is about to give his speech accepting the Democratic nomination to be the next President of the United States of America, an idea I find pretty exciting. Whether people like it or not, America can still impact our world in a way no other country can. True, China has the potential to do so, but it is wholly focused on its personal rise to the global stage and is unlikely to be distracted by regional conflict, preferring a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that has bit the US squarely on the ass more times than anyone would care to remember. They do after all say history is doomed to repeat itself.

Obama gets compared often to JFK, a comparison that taps into notions that aren’t uniquely American. Through the 50’s and 60’s it invented popular culture, and the gospel of the teenager spread like wildfire around the globe, reaching hundreds of millions of people who were sold on a promise, on an ideal, and only the tiniest proportion of those people would ever set foot in the land of the free to find out how the ideal held up once you got to the source of that ever-flowing river.

In the years following JFK, that dream got lost, the promise extinguished in a haze of misguided foreign policy, diplomatic arrogance and an innate misunderstanding of the global populace that began right at the top and worked its way down to the lowest denominator it could find. Actually misunderstanding is the wrong word, because you can’t be an idiot and become president of the US, despite all evidence to the contrary; it was a complete lack of appreciation for how anyone outside its borders perceived it, a point of view brought horrifically home on my mother’s 50th birthday in 2001.

That was the first time America as a whole snapped out of a haze and realised things were not as they believed they were, something anyone occupying a seat anywhere else in the Western world had accepted an uncomfortable knowledge of long before.

The American dream isn’t something anyone has talked about without a strong sense of irony for quite some time. It is a virus that infected the world more than 50 years ago that managed to wear itself out through its own self-importance, one that was caught when the world was sick and weary in the aftermath of World War 2, when the global populace was lost and ready to grasp on to anything that would lead them out of the land in which they’d lived for a decade.

And we’re back there again.

The mere idea that Barack Obama could become president of the US is an opportunity for America to light a fire under the dream again. 200,000 people turned up to see him speak in Germany. 200,000 people who have an innate understanding of what the promise of America is, despite most never having set foot there. How much more powerful could an idea be than to have had eight years of Bush’s foreign policy doing irreperable harm to global relations and opinion of America at an all-time low, yet have that many people turn up to a rally in a part of the world that doesn’t get to have a say on who the next president will be? Having been born in the American century we are products of the American ideal, whether we like it or not.

This is an opportunity for America to reclaim the dream. To elect a president who because of his childhood has a first-hand understanding of cultures outside his own, and in doing so re-ignite a long lost notion of what it was that country promised the rest of us.

Barack Obama gives Americans a new direction, and he gives the rest of us America 2.0.

Image courtesy of jetheriot, with thanks to compfight.

Endtroducing…The A to Z of 2.0 August 28, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0, work/life.

So I’ve had an idea kicking around in my head for a while which I keep meaning to take away and work on, only to find myself preoccupied with other things. Posting about it though means I have to go take it seriously, because now we have a contract wherein I say I’m going to do something, hence I better to do it.

So without further adieu, I’m compiling the A to Z of 2.0. This is not your standard 2.0, this is my-oh-my-it’s-Friday-have-we-really-spent-four-days-taking-our-marketing-selves-seriously 2.0. I’m going to take some of the ideas of web 2.0 and place them out in the real world to see how they measure up. I’d love to hear your own suggestions as we get to each letter – if you have an idea for a letter we haven’t reached yet, drop me a line and I’ll include it when we get there.

Let’s have some fun shall we?

A – America 2.0 – When Generation X reaches The White House.

B – Borders 2.0 – The lines don’t run where we say they do.

C – Celebrity 2.0 – The greatest story never told.

D – Dogma 2.0 – The rules are there ain’t no rules.

E – Everyone 2.0 – Remember you’re unique; just like everyone else.

F – Fundamentals 2.0 – Open beats closed. Every time.

They say you gotta stay hungry August 27, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
Tags: , , , ,

Springsteen talks about chasing a silver thread between him and the audience, and some nights he grabs it on the first note and holds it the whole way, and some nights he spends every second trying to catch it, only to have it constantly slip away.

I’m feeling a little confessional today.

Don’t know whether that’s due to Matt quoting Bible verses at me while we argue over if Mother Theresa was a good marketer, but I had trouble getting started yesterday and today doesn’t feel much better.

One thing there’s never a shortage of in advertising is confidence. Confidence and ego. When I made games a good friend and I would meet up at conferences and make secret confessions that we spent so much time second guessing the design decisions we were making  it was a miracle we hadn’t been exposed for the frauds we were. That friend then played a lead design role on Bioshock, a game that appeared and mopped the floor with everything else that showed up to dance last year.

In the time since we’d both rationalised those feelings through many encounters with others who never lacked confidence, yet consistently produced mediocre work; if you think every idea is sprung from genius, you’re not likely to try harder at anything.

I say all this sitting on an idea for a client. A great idea. Game changing, Lion-winning, great idea. I know in my gut it is a great idea, and I’m struggling to boil it down to a simple, one line pitch, which it needs to be as the company is quite conservative. It needs to hit home and they need to get it before the sentence finishes leaving my mouth.

I’m searching for that silver thread today, and the bitch is if I knew I’d find it then it wouldn’t be worth a thing.

How low can you go? August 26, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy, industry news, marketing, strategy.

Here’s the thing: companies don’t need strategies (even digital ones), they need a fundamental reason to exist. Having arguments about which discipline should lead is like entering a three-legged race with you and your partner on your knees; by the time you figure out something is wrong, everyone else has long since finished.

One thing I’m trying to move the folk I deal with away from is the desire to be so channel focused. While I’m a passionate advocate for digital, I’m not blinded by the channel (or even the myriad of channels that make it up). Depending on your audience there’s an argument to be made for using traditional media, and some of the most innovative movements in marketing business strategy at the moment are tapping in to as many different channels at once as possible.

I said a couple weeks back things will get (really) interesting when we get down to a level where everyone functions as a single organism, and that can happen as a joint venture as Marcus advocates, but I imagine it can probably happen a few other ways too.

Whatever form it takes, it is about getting so deeply involved with companies that you do move as one. That will take a lot more trust on both sides than either client or agency is prepared to invest right now. But I believe we’re headed there, and I find that pretty exciting.

What’s that? How deep?

How low can you go?

Image courtesy of lolodrake, with thanks to compfight.

It wasn’t me August 25, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, marketing.
Tags: , ,

Moving on from last week where I was thinking about marketing and strategy and the blurring lines between the two, and yesterday’s thoughts around the lack of imagination inherent in the day to day lives of most marketers, I’m thinking now maybe most marketers are thinking more about treading water and doing their best to attract the least amount of attention while only a handful (like me and mine) are interested in hanging our careers out to dry in the hope of actually doing something remarkable.

Julian Cole and I (who I imagine will wind up one day the old guys in The Muppets) were at breakfast the other day trying to figure out where the chips were going to fall in terms of the companies that drive social media forward.  Straight after that conversation I read a piece I can’t find now suggesting the likes of McKinsey et al would soon enough swoop in, grab the brightest in social media and whisk them into the ivory towers of business strategy and management consulting.

While I find the idea somewhat abhorrent, I don’t particularly like being in agency land much better; any industry that defines itself by stating what it is is a touch too old school; let’s state what we are not and then see where the road goes.

Image courtesy of photo.bugz, woth thanks to compfight.

Minute by minute by minute by minute August 24, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, industry news, marketing.
Tags: , , ,
And now for something completely different...

And now for something completely different...

Marcus’s piece is thought-provoking.


Because he advocates a joint-venture between company and client over either an agency or doing it in house.


Because in house has too many political hurdles and an agency doesn’t get deep enough in the business.


Because there are too many other distractions.


Because there has to be; it isn’t their job to focus on it, and that is what they require.

I was with a client on Friday who told me, in no uncertain terms, that they didn’t do technology. “We’re just marketers” she said. “We don’t understand that stuff.”

Jesus. H. Christ.

“We’re just marketers” was quote of the week for me, strong contender for quote of the year. Another boffin from an agency I work with had asked aloud what Flickr was, which in itself is maddening. What really frustrated me though was the lines these people were willing to draw around what they did and didn’t do. Apparently being “just a marketer” means you can float through on ignorance and leave “teh interwebs” up to the geeks in the corner.

Can you imagine 50 years ago talking about TV to have someone turn around and say “Oh, I’m just a marketer, I don’t understand that TV stuff”?

The mind boggles. Let’s get it straight: nothing is off the table. Not digital, not analogue, not experiential, not bespoke, not DM, not TVCs, not PR, not ambient, not out of home, not print, not word of mouth, nothing. Marketers who opt for a career with blinkers on will find themselves swept aside in the eternal race for consumer’s hearts and minds. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but you should at least be aware of where everything fits.

And you should also be aware that every waking minute of your day, you are marketing something.

We all are.

Image courtesy of M J M, with thanks to compfight.

One bourbon, one scotch, one beer August 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, marketing, social media, strategy, web 2.0.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Julian Cole and I have been going back and forth a bit lately on social objects offline and some of that chatter is making its way online. He put up a vlog yesterday which Scott from Marketing Magazine chimed in on. Not wanting to be left out, I added my 2 cents. I hadn’t actually uploaded anything to YouTube before, brought back some of the initial terrors that come with blogging (the world will see this, oh no!).

Anyway, the videos are below. Watch them (Scott’s alone is priceless for the shots of his afro, little children may turn away in fear, you’ve been warned) and then leave a comment, or better yet, add your own response! While you’re at it, give Julian some stick for the video responses needing to be approved by the owner – Jules I thought the whole point of social media was acknowledging you couldn’t control the conversation right!?! 🙂

Stars seem to lose their place August 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, digital strategy, marketing, web 2.0.
In space, no market can hear you scream

In space, no market can hear you scream

“If I were a client, I wouldn’t use an agency.”

Way to get somebody’s attention.

Marcus Brown’s short but provoking series “If I were a client today…” has been weighing on my mind. It’s been weighing on my mind because it hit home on a couple conversations I’ve been having with people offline.

A friend of mine is currently doing her MBA at INSEAD. We were chatting earlier this year when she said something that I had been thinking for a while: “I sit in strategy classes and marketing classes, and I can’t tell the difference between the two.”


“Say that again?”

“Marketing and strategy, I’m not sure I see a difference anymore.”

Having that opinion is one thing. Having it validated by a person whose intellect makes you feel like Europa orbiting Jupiter is another.

Let’s just connect a few dots here:

  • Google is the world’s best known brand
  • They didn’t advertise in order to become that
  • Their marketing is the product
  • They are always in R&D

If you still haven’t gone and read Marcus’ piece at this point, just read the first part. Then come back, share some thoughts, I’m interested to see where this goes in my mind, but where it goes in other people’s as well.

Image courtesy of Planet Tyler, with thanks to compfight.

You can’t hurry love August 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, music, web 2.0, work/life.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
What if people knew what this moment felt like?

What if people knew what this moment felt like?

We’ll get to the stuff I was talking about yesterday in due course, it ain’t goin’ nowhere baby. And what I have on my mind is much bigger than that.

So I was reading this piece on movement through the web which touches on notions the web having made creativity itself more accessible – mind you it does this in a fairly esoteric fashion wherein a bunch of stuff does straight over my head).

It got me thinking about how the advent of blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger, TypePad etc. gave people the ability to express themselves, or at least opened other avenues to express themselves. if like me, you believe creative is not a department and we’re all inherently creative as a by-product of being human, then that’s pretty exciting.

YouTube, Vimeo and a bunch of other video services (such as Seesmic and Oovoo) have allowed people to express themselves in a similar fashion via video. What I’m thinking about though is something that enhances people’s ability to express themselves musically. Yes we have Last.fm, Pandora, what have you. These all function around recommendation engines, I’m interested in tools that allow people to make music more easily.

I hear you saying “But I can’t read music.” You know what? Most people with a blog couldn’t spot the difference between a verb and an adjective without the help of Wikipedia, I’ve played guitar for 15 years, I’m less good at reading music now than I was when I was 13, which is much more than The BeeGees ever could.

The issue is this: people love to construct barriers to entry. They love to put up walls around things they have achieved in a move towards exclusivity; if everyone can do what I do, then it isn’t actually an achievement.

How does that relate to blogging? In terms of raw self-expression, blogging has enabled more voices to be heard than any other publishing medium in the history of the world. The individual impact may not carry that of Tolstoy or Goerge Bernard Shaw, but that makes it no less valid a form of expression, and the collective voice is far greater.

Being a musician myself, I’m wondering how music can be made more accessible – not the acquiring of other people’s music but the actual creation. Maybe part of the equation of putting value back into the 4 megabyte files everyone is downloading is sharing more of the experience of creating them in the first place. Maybe that will only serve to drive down the value further, but as the perceived value continues to approach zero, what do we have to lose?

I’ll happily acknowledge this post is a complete shot from the hip, but I really believe theres something in this.

My only question is: where to from here?

Let’s drown deep in us August 17, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, work/life.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

There’s something about a Sunday that allows for clarity of thought – that might be due solely to having a day’s buffer between the events of the working week, Saturday playing the part of a sink hole that allows Monday to Friday to slowly but surely gurgle down the drain (hopefully not along with your career), Sunday existing to just enjoy the quiet of the room before the plug goes back in and the sink starts filling up at 6am the following morning.

This week I’m going to be thinking all about Marcus Brown’s excellent piece entitled If I Were A Client Today…, so please check that out and then get into the discussion that takes place, I think we’re going to dig up some interesting stuff.

For now though, enjoy your Sunday.