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Treetop Barbie March 5, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, philosophy, politics, work/life.
1 comment so far

On the subway this morning I was watching the below TED talk by Nalini Nadkarni on her work as an ecologist, studying life in the canopies of rainforests. It’s a great talk which i recommend you check out, my favourite part though was her institution’s appropriation of every girl’s favourite doll, Barbie.

They buy them from thrift stores and other cheap outlets then hand-sew costumes for them and send them out. They’re also available for purchase which makes me wish I had cousins who were young enough to get one for!

A few thoughts:

  • I love the appropriation of a classic symbol, recast with new meaning in this day and age
  • Is this brand-jacking? Maybe, but not in a way that casts the original in a bad light
  • If I were Mattel I would be all over this. Nalini’s group send a booklet out with each Barbie on the work they do, Mattel could release a whole line of eco-warrior Barbie, created entirely from renewable materials in a series of different guises. Sea-Rescue Barbie, Treetop Barbie…Ivory Coast Barbie? (ouch!)

I’m wondering about other campaigns, brands, products, services, whatever. Major symbols like Barbie that can be given new purpose in an eco-aware age. There’s a lot of chatter right now on how green issues will be cast aside as people just try to hang on to their homes, I’m hoping initiatives like this might manage to keep it front of mind for people.

This post is also a special dedicatuion to Alex White, one of my best friends and a tireless eco-warrior himself. He gets married to an extraodinary woman (hi Fern!) tomorrow, a wedding I am sadly not in Australia for. Mate, I love you to absolute pieces and am sorry I can’t be there to share your special day. I cannot wait to hear about it, watch the videos and catch up when I’m back home at the end of the year.

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Marketing quote of the day December 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, strategy.

David Simon, creator of hit TV series The Wire:

There’s an obligation to be entertaining, but if all you are is in entertainment, then shame on you.

He says that in relation to the compelling nature of truth in story-telling. I was saying something similar to Jules as we wandered around Sydney on Tuesday looking for a place to eat, the idea currently rattling around in my head being if our efforts for the brands and companies we work for are only as large as the products they sell, then we’re all doomed to failure. Seth spends his whole book Tribes (as well as the free three-hour audio version) banging on about this very idea – succcessful companies form around movements, and engineer their offerings to encompass a sense of belonging when you use them.

One of my basic gut-checks when considering ideas for clients is this: how does the user experience improve when another person joins? And another? And another? If the answer is “It doesn’t”, find better ideas. David Armano has a great piece I’ve pointed to before which arranges the idea very nicely…

Simply put, there’s an obligation to be useful, but if that’s all you are, then shame on you.

Now…off to the beach to read some GQ

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A lesson in being remarkable from IDEO November 8, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, creativity, marketing, technology.
Tags: ,
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They say: IDEO’s Gobal Chain Reaction Experience.

I say: Show me a more remarkable business card from a design and engineering firm.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted with vodpod.

I forgot to say – found courtesy of FRANKthoughts’ Tamir, who will hopefully be Beersphering with us on Thursday.

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I know what you’re about to say like your hype man October 12, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, digital strategy, marketing.
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I was going to spend the week talking about story-telling in interactive mediums and the ways brands can leverage it, and I’l get to that, but I’ve woken up with something on my mind that I want to get to first.

Over the weekend when not lying in the park or dining with friends I was working on my latest (overdue) column for Marketing Magazine. It will be out in their December/January issue and I was talking about brands finding their voice online, which I’m quite excited about, I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts when it comes out.

I feel though like that’s the running part, and we’re struggling to get the walking right; we’re doing that because the fundamentals of success in business and marketing are shifting and we’re not keeping pace with it. I harp on about it, but only because I think it is important enough to do so: intent. Intent, intent, intent, intent, intent, intent, intent, intent.

While you’re at your desk this week, in each situation I want you to ask yourself “What’s my intent here?”. We make sales calls under the guise of building relationships, we dump on other agencies under the guise of offering advice. We put energy into things that distract us from our main purpose in the hopes that people won’t really get what we’re on about.

And then we go do it with the brands we’re supposed to be building.

Let’s all agree, week beginning Monday October 13th, 2008 to gut-check what the intent is in the work we do this week. Let’s not discuss “new ways to talk to our customers” when the reality is we need email addresses added to a database. By stripping away the stuff we cloak our actions with, we get to the heart of the matter much faster.

And I promise, the campaigns you run are going to be all the more effective for it.

Image courtesy of The Alieness Gisela Giardino, with thanks to compfight.

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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.

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.

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.

When you say nothing at all September 9, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing.
Tags: , , , , ,

Given my Blackberry has died another horrible death, I don’t have the photo I took specifically for this post. Actually it isn’t quite true to say my BlackBerry has died, it still works, the screen just doesn’t show anything other than white. Is this the device equivalent of being blind or in some way physically incapacitated? Yes, it can still do all of the things the manufacturer says it can do, I unfortunately don’t know the entire menu system backwards and thus am not sure where to press. My fault clearly.


Coke. My friends at Coke. You currently have an outdoor campaign plastered all over the bus stops and tram shelters of Melbourne – probably the country. The ad shows a young man gripping the sides of a Coke bottle with either hand while the copy says “Hold on and enjoy the ride.”


You are Coke. You have one of the best known brands the world over, a brand that, unlike the McDonalds or Nike’s of the world, has managed to escape much of the multinational & eco hoo-haa that has plagued many other symbols of popular culture. The Happiness Factory was genius, and positioned the brand at the edge of advertising, where original content is employed to tell stories beyond the scope of a soft drink.

And the only story you have to tell right now is a new bottle shape?

You should be ashamed of yourselves. And somebody should definitely get fired.

A new bottle.

Sweet mother of all that is good and pure, what a waste of time.

Image courtesy of hangdog, with thanks to compfight.

Your kiss is on my list September 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, marketing, work/life.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, this one requires just two.

Qantas booking process error

Qantas booking process error

Epic. Fail.

Some things to think about:

  • They probably mean they couldn’t find flights, but they don’t say that
  • They have the means to flag that while I am planning my trip (saving me time)
  • The error effectively ends my experience. No links elsewhere, it just dies.
  • If this was the last experience someone had with your brand, product or service, how would you feel?
  • If Qantas had some basic Google alerts setup, they’d know about this post just a couple seconds after I post it…we’ll find out if they do.