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Hold up (wait a minute) September 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0, work/life.
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Take 15 minutes out from whatever you’re doing right now to watch the below video. I realise it is video over-kill today, but you need (<– Note the use of “need”, not “should”, need) to watch it. I promise you there is nothing more important in the next 15 minutes than watching it.

Nothing. It will even make you smile. Promise (you can trust me, I work in advertising).

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Let’s see how far we’ve come September 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology, web 2.0.
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I’ve spent far too much time recently talking to people about what tools they should use to achieve ill-defined business objectives. We as human beings have this desire to cut corners, and that is fine – the issue is we wind up slicing straight through the solid parts as opposed to shaving the edges off.

For more on this, check out this post on a methodology from Forrester which I found tremendously useful, I’m sure you’ll find the same.

Cheap wine and a three-day growth September 26, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, creativity, marketing.

If I was a bottle of wine, how would I stand out on a bottle-shop shelf? What could I do? Varietal isn’t going to cut it, people like what they like (and generally aren’t adventurous). Regional? Not really.

What if I thought about the effect I have on people? What if drinking me could take you somewhere, if it was a ticket to another place, be that a great, uninhibited conversation, a new idea not previously formed…an unwanted pregnancy?

Regardless, I saw the below the other night and loved it.

Do you have your boarding pass?

Do you have your boarding pass?

When was the last time you saw a wine label that was unforgettable?

What’s the story (morning glory)? September 25, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing.

This is a laundrette around the corner from where I work. I’ve walked past it a hundred times and only just noticed the other day “The BIG Store” writing inside the wreath. Above it says “Sehold Use”; I’ve no idea what either is about.

It got me thinking though what the story behind it might be. The writing is in concrete, it isn’t plastic, it wouldn’t have been whipped up over night, whenever it was created. Sure it’s just a laundrette, but there’s a bigger story to be told.

What are the stories we want to tell our consumers? What are the ones they actually want to hear, that they’d actually be interested in? That they’d be engaged by?

How did “The BIG Store” come to be this laundrette on a backstreet in Melbourne? Give me the truth or give me fiction, it doesn’t really matter, but if there’s really nothing remarkable about you, why are we here? Even a laundrette can be remarkable.

Just tell me a story. Be more than the simple sum of your parts. For both our sakes.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems September 24, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, social media, web 2.0.
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So I got on a bit of a soap box earlier today regarding what I think I’ll come to call Currency 2.0 (where was that when I needed it). Currency 2.0 concerns itself with appreciating what is precious in marketing that isn’t a physical world dollar. Email addresses, phone numbers, these things matter, it is a form of currency that you can build ROI around, and you should.

Julian Cole has been tagged at the end of this, it’s an idea we’ve been kicking around for a while where we’ll post a video and tag someone ese at the end to respond. It’s open to anyone who wants to play, just be sure to create a video response on YouTube and we’ll pick it up.

You and me, and the games people play September 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, creativity, digital strategy, marketing, philosophy, social media, web 2.0, work/life.
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Content. Engaging content. Stories being told. Experiences facilitated by brands but not ABOUT brands. The logical extension of “This program was brought to you by…” in life after the 30-second spot is entertainment created solely for or by a brand. Entertainment that doesn’t ram a message home, but simply offers it up on a plate and says “Hey, yeah we did this. Hope you dig it.” The goal is of course still re-enforcement of whatever your brand’s values are, but there are better ways to do it than to just spit out a tagline.

The below quote from Henry Jenkins sums it up for me. I’m trying to figure out where it came from, it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for quite sometime…ahh here it is. I ❤ Google.

The key is to produce something that both pulls people together and gives them something to do…I don’t have to control the conversation to benefit from their interest

That ties in nicely to something I read over on Slideshare the other day (found by way of my friend Tim’s Insight + Ideas blog) that I liked so much I wrote on a Post-It and stuck it to my screen at work:

Autonomy (the ability to make a choice) plus Competence (a feeling like you have the necessary resources to make that choice) plus Relatedness (a sense you are working together towards a common goal) equals Happiness.

Maybe even a good deal of love for your brand.

First image courtesy of via, with thanks to compfight.

Second image courtesy of my own bad self.

We have to take our clothes off to have a good time September 22, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, music, technology.
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Direct from the “We’re-out-of-ideas-let’s-see-if-this-sticks” Department, SanDisk along with the four major music labels have announced a new format for music – micro SD cards, commonly found in mobile phones and digital cameras.

I don’t know where to begin on this one. One person I spoke to who was a fan of the move remarked “It is compact, DRM-free, and the files are digital.”

Yes, that’s true.

Just like CDs.

The labels, despite all evidence suggesting radical moves are in order, remain firmly entrenched in the sales of physical media, and not just existing media but they’re coming up with new ones!! NEW ONES!! New forms of physical media while the free world irreversibly slides towards an entirely digital future. You know what? I like album art as much as the next person (I spent a small fortune on my own cover), I’m tactile, I like to touch. But that is not where we’re headed.

The labels are trying to keep the economic model for the music industry revolving around a physical item instead of watching behaviour exhibited by the market and responding accordingly. Yes, we all have devices that can support this format, but the labels are confusing the platform and the medium.

The platform is digital. You cannot have a medium existing on a platform that does not serve the same ends. The medium needs to be digital as well. My iPod can hold 80 gigs of music. Why am I going to mess around with this tiny card that holds a single album? This is ludicrous behaviour. Proper stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off nonsense.

Somebody should get fired for this. Entire departments and a swathe of VPs just for good measure. A new physical format for music. Give me strength!

Manufactured physical products need to get a hell of a lot more expensive. And digital files need to reflect the economics of the market they exist in, not attempt to replicate the old one.

Brand tags September 21, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, social media.

Note: not Brand Tags.

So the above isnt really all that clever, but I quite like it none the less, spotted it yesterday in Carlton as I walked to the park (yay for Spring).

Most people would know French Connection for shirts with lines like “Too busy to fcuk” or “Cool as fcuk”, this kinda takes that campaign and gives it a bit of a twist.

If it was actually part of something French Connection were doing on sustainability as opposed to just vandalism that would be even more interesting.

In fact there’s an idea – that one is free guys, special Monday gift from me to you.

Celebrity 2.0 – the greatest story never told September 19, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, work/life.
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This is the third post in my series on the A – Z of 2.0.

Celebrity two-point-oh?

Celebrity two-point-oh?

The idea of being a celebrity is an odd one. Becoming so appreciated for something by so many people that your reality is cocked permanently at an angle is not something I can imagine too many people signing up for. But of course that’s not what most people sign up for; they generally sign up for the only thing that comes naturally to them.

Celebrities are invariably generated out of the mediums that are hardest to work in, but they’re also generated based on the potential audience for that medium. I imagine there are glass-blowers who go to industry events and are fawned over by the glass-blowing community and press; outside of that in their day to day lives they wait in line at the coffee house like everybody else.

The size of your celebrity is directly proportionate to the potential market. Which is why actors and musicians are the biggest celebrities; everybody loves music, and everyone likes a story.

Indeed story-telling is the most interesting part. We humans are nothing without our stories, without the narratives we impose upon our day to day lives under the guise of seeking greater meaning or understanding. The people we elect (via our retail dollar) to tell us their stories and to re-interpret our own are given tremendous power over the popular psyche, but it is within the story-telling that the downfall of celebrity comes.

Imagine two books; one taught and calculated at each point, a page turner if you will. The other is a combination of two things; the most incredible and fantastic first half of a novel ever written, followed up by a second half where the main character is unrecognisable from the one you fell in love with in the opening pages. The first book you savour the whole way through, somehow never quite managing to get closer to the end, the other you continue to read only out of habit.

The first book is Madonna.

The second is Michael Jackson.

Madonna’s celebrity has remained where it is because she never let you finish the book. You didn’t get to the end, and you never know quite what she is going to do next. She understands the power of the story and she knows for it to continue there have to be plot-twists that nobody saw coming. She crafts her story to never quite be complete, and the telling of it has been one of the great celebrity stories of our time.

Contrasted with Michael Jackson, whose story we ceased to care about as the main character became someone we could neither identify nor empathise with. In the greatest stories, or what Joseph Campbell wrote about in The Hero’s Journey, the notion of the everyman who rises above impossible odds to win the day is ageless and endlessly appealing because it taps into aspiration, one of the few things that doesn’t fade with age or money; everyone aspires to something.

Going back to our books, you have to make the reader care enough to want to see the next page. Always leave ’em wanting more the old saying goes. The issue with that in the 2.0 era is celebrity is a decidedly 1.0 idea. Clive James even argues in Fame in the 20th Century that fame as we know it wasn’t possible until the invention of mass media.

If indeed it is a product of the 1900’s and the broadcast industries, how does the idea of celebrity change when I can consume as much media as I can get my hands on, featuring the person I want to know about? Previously I would wait for their face to show up on the cover of a magazine or a TV show, now I google their name and gobble up anything I can find. This is where the line gets drawn between famous and celebrity; one is sought after, one is simply recognisable.

If we were to approach Celebrity 2.0 with the same notion of open beating closed, then we would have to accept shorter life spans for our celebrities. By opening up, the whole book is revealed to get through as quickly as you want. You can’t unread the words of pages already past, and once you know all there is to know, what’s left?

In 2.0, as in 1.0, necessity is the mother of re-invention. In 2.0 we don’t have interactions, we have micro-interactions, and each needs to offer a different part of the story. As in 1.0, you can never give complete access, although complete access can be given to a singe thing at a single time; multiple touch-points, music, books, TV, film, web, it is transmedia planning applied to a human being, all extending the celebrity touch without ever revealing the whole. A video blog that references a day in the studio for an album you won’t hear for some time to come, in a break from a movie you haven’t seen yet, housed on a personal site away from the official Hollywood presence. You don’t finish a book, just a small volume in a series numbered one to infinity.

The only question for Celebrity 2.0 is, with all that other stuff going on, who’ll have the time to tell stories anymore?

21 Questions – part two September 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, marketing, web 2.0.

The first part of this interview was posted yesterday. It is with Samantha Bottling & Aileen Thompson who heads up the Group Consumer, Enterprise and Brand Media Relations for Vodafone UK.

The experience I had recently was one where I was ready to leave Vodafone due to how dissatisfied I was with the service. Why has it been OK in the past to let customers reach this level of frustration before conceding what they wanted in the first place? How do the initiatives you’re working on combat this sort of scenario?

The way in which customers use the web to share experiences is very different. We have recognized this and we are responding in the UK for example by monitoring external forums and setting up our own forum. The forum is a very visible way of showing how customer care has improved and how we can as an industry address the notion of frustration by giving our customers choice about how and when they talk to us – or in the case of the forum – other customers. As above, offering simple to use and easy to buy services is also key – more of which we are doing. Take for example the inclusion of internet in the price plan in the UK.

Obviously you guys are ahead of what your antipodean counterparts are doing; how long have you been working towards the place you’re at now and what advice would you give to the other Vodafone operations in different parts of the world??

We share our experiences across the Group so that they can take recommendations and make it work for their country and their audience. Starting a customer forum is not something that can be done quickly or lightly. It requires expertise in the shape of technologists who can support and set up a forum and experts who will run the forum day to day – 24/7. You also need the buy in of some key function in the organisation in particular the Board who have to be prepared for a very public way of providing customer service, technical support and customer relations teams so that it is integrated. It is also important to involve the PR team who can work with the forum team when a new product or service is launched as they can provide links to the product managers, as well as help with any reputational issues. We regard the forum as a full customer service channel and it is fully integrated with our other customer service channels – it would not be successful if we did not do this.

Above all the key element to our success has been the different experts working together. We’ve designed a simple experience that enables customers to do what they need to. The moderators on the forum are technical help specialists so they can personally provide real help rather than act as a post-box into the organisation. We have created processes within the organisation to handle issues raised that go beyond the moderators but also to ensure the moderators have up-to-date information.

We’ve also achieved all of this without actively ‘promoting’ the forum, allowing our customers to gradually find and use it so that we can grow our response in relative speed to the growth of the forum’s popularity.

Thanks to Aileen and Samantha for their time. As I said yesterday, parts are heavy on the marketing speak, but the key take-away for me is the part about taking the time and investing in the appropriate resources to make online an appropriate channel for your business.

This goes back to everything I’ve been saying regarding intent. It is revealed by action, and under-resourcing any effort will play in the market as a disregard for your audience, regardless of how passionate the people at the coal face are.