Some silly observations: The people on the edges (and closer / facing the rest of the world) are the ones who voted for him. Change comes from the edges, most certainly not from the orthodoxys of the conservative centre. Apparently Obama had a lot of young people voting for him, perhaps it's the young are the ones that still believe you can change. Any way more later on this.
According to Business Week these are the most influential people on the web. What I find really interesting though is that 8 out of the 25 mentioned have businesses or ideas that are under serious threat from somebody or something else. Craiglist is threatened by eBAY Google is in danger of becoming the Microsoft of the web or a spin on their Don't be evil becoming exactly that: 'The Evil Empire' Amazon has reached maturity already and needs to diversify out of the Book Club Ghetto. Microsoft well their biggest threat is moving from a software business into a web based software business not to mention google docs and the likes Firefox is under threat from Google's Chrome MySpace is under threat from facebook and is forced to diversify it's way out of being the poor people's facebook Yahoo well who wants a directory based portal in a digg world. Nokia trying to compete in the multi-media hand-held computers, talk about psychizophrenia For a list showing the webs most influential people it seems to me that over a third of that list are either shitting their pants, laying sleepless at night or simply sweating. Fundamentally because either their ideas have reached maturity already and are in need for diversification / reinvention or they haven't evolved fast enough or simply came up with new ones. Contrast those 8 to the guy who did blogger, tried odeo and recently done twitter, not to mention Apple who is for all intents and purposes a music business as much as it is a computer business. Interesting Indeed.
Isn't it funny when recruiting people or being recruited in an industry like ours the people who get the job tend to be those that have done something 'similar', 'relevant' or are 'a bit like us'. I would love to see the day when people are recruited because they have an experience that's nothing like the existing culture. A mixed up world is a more interesting place. But this 'creative destruction' principle is too painful for those who seek to stay in their comfort zone. Any growth out of what puts you in the un-predictable and is painful but so are muscles as they grow. If you can't stretch you can't reach the top shelf :-)
I hate Ryanair. It's shit. I couldn't put it any other way. They are definitely the 'fare without care' airline and the thing that I find annoying like hell is that they don't have to be rude. Rude is a policy at Ryanair. It doesn't cost anything to allow their staff to be nice. Like easyjet for example. Today Ryanair have announced that they will be making losses this year. I couldn't have been happier. Because as well as market forces teaching them a lesson in eating humble pie perhaps the fare no care strategy should now come back to haunt them as passengers dessert them not only for price but for nice service.
'Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see' - Arthur Schopenhauer. I was thinking about types of planners out there following a conversation with a great planning director and we were debating the virtues of various 'types' of planners. Labels abound of-course, account planner, creative planner, communication planner, digital planner etc. Yet the only types I could come up with were simply two: the first are planners who are brilliant at de-construction: these are the folks who are great at telling you how the world works. Typically because they come from research and curiosity backgrounds / mindsets. The other type are the planners who are brilliant at construction. These are the ones who are into how the world 'could' work. The latter type don't need a curiosity background. Sadly i was say that the latter are the rarer variety. I suppose the difference between the two is what Schopenhauer described between the talented and the genius. Finally, as far as planning processes go wouldn't it be simpler to narrow down the planning cycle to two phases: Deconstruction - Reconstruction. The first is about understanding 'how the world works?' and the second is about 'how it could work?'. If it is one planner who is doing both then he/she would need to swap hats somewhere in the middle but you could always have two planners the de-constructionist and the re-constructionist in charge of each phase.
Years ago when i was a student i did my masters theses on Everett Rogers' diffusion of innovation theory. Today I am still gob-smacked to see so many mediocre thoughts based around the idea that if you influence the influencers the rest will take care of itself. Glad to see that this rubbish view is finally being challenged. I hated Gladwell as i thought what he was suggesting was marketing porn the sort of shit that lazy marketers looking for quick fix formulas would drool over. Even people like Earls don't talk about the original theory. What Rogers outlined fifty years ago was a number of factors that can make an idea spread. Mostly it is to do with (you guessed it) the quality of what you actually want to spread whether it's an idea or a piece of technology. It has to be innovative in the first place. Secondly once you cracked a mind blowing innovation then the quality of the network in which this idea is meant to flow needs to fulfill a lot of criteria. To oversimplify Rogers like that is a travesty but I will in two lines. 1. You must have a fucking mind blowing new, innovative, valuable and compelling idea first. 2. Then and only then you can start worrying about the quality of the connections between the people you want to take it up. In other words it's less to do with the people you are influencing and more to do with the content you are influencing them with and the quality of the pipelines between those people. Finally, if you still want a formula here are some ingredients based on Rogers for spreading stuff: 1. Demonstrate considerable advantage to everything else is out there. (Hardly going to come from your average brand / agency) 2. Show how it is compatible with what the receiver already knows. (It has to fit in or evolve an existing frame or reference) 3. Reduce complexity show how easy it is to adopt it. (not only show them and idea show them how they can work it) 4. Encourage trail. 5. Show credibility by showing observable social advantages. (This actually means you have to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and what makes them tick instead of knowing the special yoghurt flavour of the celebrity you just hired to influence people) There were other pre-conditions for diffusion that I will not go on about here. I cannot be bothered with marketers who buy this whole influence the influencer bollox without thinking first of how they will make a better mouse trap instead of trying to simply trap people like mice.
There are endless conversations going on right now about brands moving from 'saying' (making ads) to 'doing' (making services e.g. Nike +). Naturally it wasn't one individual who came up with that trend or shift, lots of marketers and particularly those of us in new media noticed this early on. Personally the first time I've written about this in presentations and articles was as far back as 2001. However, I wanted to re-fresh my own thinking as well as current mood in this area. I am of-course indebted to John Grant for the original chart in his new book (pg: 134) as well as various others who are championing the doing e.g. Stuart. There are multiple ideas that I tried to summaries in one chart which is ambitious but most of it is above. I will not go into the full discourse of what everything means but I will attempt a brief summary. Yesterday: Brands used to operate in a universe of commerce and communication meant to say & sell products and emotions to consumers with an end goal of making money. Today: Brands are more like social movements who operate in a universe of culture and society they no longer just say&sell but they do & share either a passion or an enemy with perhaps a bigger end goal of making meaning rather than just money. (see previous post on credibility v commitment). A lot of stuff goes into this newish framework: The role of the brand is no longer to release the consumer from the tyranny of conscious choice but a bigger one of instigating a social reformation either by sharing a passion or fighting a joint enemy. Brands have to play more of a cultural role rather than a commercial one. If a brand or company is not helping culture or society move forward somehow it will appear as just trying to use clever stuff to sell stuff. Brands have to stop sitting on an aspiration pedestal and stand next to a new type of consumer who is truly not stupid. The role of consumer has changed. They are no longer consumers and particularly online. They behave more like citizen activists, journalists, pirates, producers, protagonists in the brand story and most importantly their buying decisions are more like voting with their wallets for things they believe in rather than buying stuff. The mode of communication was about showing, selling, spinning stories and creating illusions - sorry bran image - around perfectly mundane products. But that's clearly no longer enough. A brand that does what it says and stands next to its citizens in either a fight against a cultural enemy (Thank you ignorance / Nike) or shares a passion with consumers is far more likely to be seen as credible, committed and a contributor to a greater cultural meaning. In a way I think what I am saying is this the nature of commerce itself needs to be re-visited. Is really the pursuit of above average profit such a brilliant goal for companies or brands? Or, could they pursue a greater good that extends beyond selling stuff. Consider your average global brand: probably has more revenue than the GDP of a small country, a better infrastructure than most governments, a better handle on resources than most charities and better democracy than most countries because their consumers vote with their wallets not with any misguided loyalty. Just imagine if global brands started using their immense power to try and make an above average culture instead of above average profit...we may just have a planet worth saving then instead of this pointless mess.
I am having various debates at work around one of our clients who do have a lot of credibility as a 'creative' brand. However, it dawned on me that credibility is not enough because lots of other competitors direct/indirect can also be credible in their own way while claiming the same territory. And here is where my thoughts shifted towards commitment. How committed are you as a brand really to whatever territory you want to own? Take Dove Real beauty for example, fantastic campaign and reasonably credible (unless as a consumer you find out that it is made by the same people who glamourise skinny girls in their Lynx ads). Now take Nike for example that is committed to its cause and never wavered from its few core principles such as being for the athlete in all of us. Nike is committed and credible when they give me something like Nike+. Since day one they've been about the athlete and did things for the athlete it's an unwavering commitment and loyalty to an attitude as much as to an audience. The difference is that between those who will use whatever cool thing they can find in order to brand and sell and those who truly believe in a cause or a mission. I can't remember who said it but somebody once said that a principal is not a principal unless it costs you money. Now that's commitment.
Most people who have a problem with marketing or advertising often miss the point. It is simply the most visible and of-course designed to be the most attractive part of relentless capitalism. Capitalism built around growth and the mindless pursuit of above average profit is by far the real enemy here. Advertising is just a byproduct of a much bigger economic system that is only about profit. A glimmer of hope appears on the hot horizon though. The imperatives of the environment and the planet may very well force capitalism on the larger scale to change course from profit to plane and companies on the smaller scale will just have to be you guessed it ... more 'responsible'
1. It's about politics not planning at my level (or any level for that matter) 2. It's about screwing the consumer and spinning their head instead of giving them something meaningful. 3. It's pop culture but hardly culture. 4. Creatives who insist on being inspired by pop culture instead of creating their own. 5. Clients who are more worried about their position in the company than creating something amazing. 6. Living the lie which is worse than believing it. 7. People who do this job to fill deep insecurities about their talent or lack of attention they got when they were kids. 8. It's a fascinating business but it's still a business, some just think it's an excuse for a party. 9. The alternative careers using the same skills look like manna from heaven in the desert for the lost jews. 10. Maybe I don't have a problem with the communication business but the very nature of capitalism itself. More on that later.