This Is A Stop Sign

9 03 2009


The more market research you read about the future of media, the more confused you’ll get.

According to a recent report from Netpop Research,  “Media Shifts to Social,” the percent of time people spend communicating online has increased 18% since 2006, while time spent on entertainment has declined 29%.

According to a recent report from Nielsen research, the average American television viewer is watching more than 151 hours of television per month — an “all-time” high — up from more than 145 hours during the same period the previous year, Nielsen said.

When all the signs point in different directions, in my opinion it’s time to stop and ask ourselves three questions:

Where do our customers want to go?

Where do we want to go?

What’s the best way for us to get there together?

Everything else is just press releases.


I’ve Become An Advisor To President Obama. Well, Sort Of.

5 03 2009

The most important brand I work on in both traditional and digital is Just For Men haircolor.

The very first commercial I shot for the brand had Walt “Clyde” Frazier delivering the line “No play for Mr. Gray”.  Eight years later, the commercial with Clyde and Keith Hernandez is still running.

In today’s New York Times, Clyde used the line I wrote to advise President Obama to get rid of his gray hair.


So I guess I’m now an unofficial advisor to the President.  Sort of, anyway. In any case, it’s great PR for a great brand and I couldn’t resist sharing.

P.S.  In addition to being legends, Clyde and Keith are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Getting to meet them and work with them has been one of the most fun parts of my career.

Pattern Recognition and Four Other New Skills For The Future of Marketing

4 03 2009

“To understand is to perceive patterns” – Isaiah Berlin

There’s a great (and if I’m honest, mildly terrifying) post at Chief Marketing Technologist that  discusses some of the new skills that are critical for marketing success in the future.  You can read it here.


I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing.  But here are the 5 new skills the author discusses along with some takeaways from me.

1. Analytical Pattern Recognition. We are already in a data maelstrom of firehose-velocity info feeds. This will only get faster and more complex.  Great marketers have always been reductionists at their core, and that will be true in spades in the future.

Takeaway: Diving into the data hoping to come up with a single pearl of wisdom is a formula for drowning.  We must learn to float on top of it and observe where the tide is going.

2. Agile Project Management. The luxurious days of planning a few well-contained major campaigns for the year are largely gone. Now, you’ve got hundreds — often thousands — of micro-opportunities, swirling around the extended enterprise every week, the best of which must be quickly snatched and efficiently executed.

Takeaway: This creates enormous opportunities for smaller companies doing battle with Goliaths.  But it will only work for companies who are willing to  stop aping the habits of large companies because they want to “feel big”.

3. Experimental Curiosity and Rigor. Marketing is the new laboratory. The majority of marketing activities at this point should be run as tests, continually trying new alternatives, pushing on the edges, constantly on the lookout for shifts in response that portend new threats or opportunities.

Takeaway: This sounds great, but it also means we must ruthlessly whittle down the cost of each experiment. What’s the most we can learn, the fastest and cheapest way possible?

4. Systems Thinking. Tactics in one marketing silo impact the effectiveness of others (e.g., your search marketing ads) almost immediately. Social media accelerates cross-channel effects: it’s a new, living ecosystem. If engaged properly, that can be a powerful force multiplier; if mismanaged, it can be a train wreck.

Takeaway: Marketing Integration isn’t as simple as creating “matching luggage” where the TV, print and web stuff all look alike.  That’s the starting point, not the end.  The organizational challenge is tough: how can we get the various marketing silos to want to cooperate? Here again, an opportunity for smaller companies to win.

5. Mashable software fluency. Not all marketers have to become programmers, but those who understand how software is built and deployed in the new “mashable web” — a world of mashups, widgets, and APIs — will have a competitive advantage.

Takeaway: Marketing executives who can’t understand a word of this one need to go talk with a programmer. These are not geeks: they are business partners who can open doors you didn’t even realize existed.

Photo Credit: Mathieu Struck

How To Save Brand Advertising Online

3 03 2009

It’s not unusual for people to complain about the depressing state of brand advertising online.

What IS unusual is when somebody actually has an idea about how to improve matters.

What’s HUGELY unusual is when somebody has a lot of ideas and they’re all really, really good.


Troy Young, CMO at VideoEgg, has a bunch of really good ideas you need to know about. Read his post here and make sure you download the PDF. (Sorry, can’t direct link to the PDF.)

Way to go, Troy!

Skittles, Social Media and Rainbow-Colored Gas

2 03 2009

Tuesday Morning Update: I’ve been trying to understand why I reacted so strongly to the new Skittles site. Upon consideration I think I’ve gotten down to the root of it.

Old-Fashioned Brand Narcissism: TV Advertising Style:
We are the center of the universe. Everyone cares what we say.

Modern Brand Narcissism:  Digital Social Media Style:
We are the center of the universe. Everyone cares what people say about us.

To borrow a lyric from the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was, same as it ever was…


Skittles is the social media darling of the moment, thanks to its Modernista-inspired website.

In the spirit of giving up control to consumers, I won’t comment. Instead, here’s what one consumer had to say.


P.S. If you were hoping for a more, um, “descriptive” dissection of what Skittles is doing, try here.