Thursday, January 28, 2010

Follow Your Nose

A few years back I sat next to Jean Paul Gaultier on a flight from Paris to Athens. Coincidentally we were en route to the same hotel... he invited me to a party he was holding that night and I found my favourite male fragrance... Le Male. Last year Jean Paul created a USB flash drive that perfumes the air with the unmistakable Le Male fragrance as it works. It’s great to see the over-looked sense of smell injecting some excitement into a product which is often bland and sold on functionality alone. And while this was only available as a gift-with-purchase of the fragrance, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before other makers of technology products move past the tablestakes faster/bigger/cheaper functional benefits and ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ when it comes to the power of scent.

It’s not news that smell is strongly linked to memory, but a recent piece of research has confirmed that it’s particularly useful for enhancing recall of all sorts of brand associations. And of course it’s a key Lovemarks ingredient. The olfactory sense has been making small inroads in the technology arena, with scent-strips being added to Sony cellphones in Japan and Asus’ fragrant laptops (also see my previous post on Smell of Books adding just that to emotionalize e-books), but so far nothing wildly original has made it to the mainstream marketplace. Why don’t Internet hotspots emit a fragrance to show where the signal is strongest – a whiff of wi-fi?

The arts, on the other hand, have thrown themselves into exploring the untapped opportunities of the nose. A ‘scent opera’ premiered at the Guggenheim last year, where music was accompanied by sequences of perfume ‘chords’ rather than singing. And I love designer Hyun Choi’s ‘Flavor of Time’ clock concept which assigns a scent to each hour for a unique new way to tell the time – providing a new contender in the old analogue-vs-digital debate!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Football Punk

I’ve been a fan of FourFourTwo ever since it came out. It’s now spawned a terrific, irreverent monthly competitor. Football Punk, the beautiful game with attitude. Terrific magazine with a wonderful retro sector, great humor and a real rock ‘n roll approach to soccer. It really warms the cockles of your heart to see great writing about soccer really driving it to the heart of popular culture. Check it out on www.football-punk.com. It’s a great mélange of soccer, art, fashion, storytelling, glamour and humor. Something for today and yesterday’s fan. And a reminder that magazines are not dead. As long as they offer something new and meaningful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Push Play

The Go Button on the Participation Economy is firmly pushed, and in 2010 I expect games on screens to be big drivers off the tee. I’m thinking less of major universal events like the 2010 Vancouver Olympics or FIFA World Cup (big, cool and connecting as they are) and more of the virtual mainstreaming of myriad minor fun interactions to help get people ahead.

Google blew open the future one-way with search on screens but a big swinger looks to be networked social gaming because it taps straight into our DNA. There’s a way to go on this but video gaming is in transition from a One-to-One or One-to-Many “Shoot’em up” application to a many-to-many social medium. In this future people play together on screens to meet, learn, nurture, cooperate, compete, work, fight and do just about everything that’s in human nature.

The picture sharpens when you combine facts like:
1. Facebook has over 300m active users;
2. on social networks, playing games is beaten out only by search;
3. kids born into the post-Internet world use the Internet most for gaming (homework comes second!);
4. FarmVille, the biggest fastest-growing social game on the Internet is about running a virtual farm (70 million users a day – USA, Turkey, Philippines, UK and Italy are the top users by country – who’d pick this combination!)
5. people perform best when absorbed in their signature strengths, where the interactivity of gaming delivers.

This holds a mirror to a day on-approach when all were born into an Internet-active world. Social gaming is so far a small part of a $50 billion video gaming industry, but points to a future defined by content, connecting, cooperating and also competing. It’s astonishing and concerning that within 24 hours on sale, one in forty nine people in Britain bought a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ($1B in sales globally in one month, a $3B franchise, assassinations from above and below – take that Avatar!).

Let’s hope wars too destructive for the planet too handle will be decided as online games by our kids. The name of the game is “social”, and this is the space to play.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Can’t Get No Satisfaction?

Over the last two decades life at home, work and beyond has sped up for a vast majority of people.

Questions about what makes us happy – or not - have come to the fore. Among the many weigh-ins on any subject I look for the surprisingly obvious, and a recent BusinessWeek survey by Marshall Goldsmith and Kelly Goldsmith on contentment hits this mark.

The long and short is that those who find happiness and meaning at home also find it at work, with an outtake being that we need to take a closer look at ourselves rather than casting blame for dissatisfaction around our office, employers, colleagues or who we live with.

At work we need both high short-term satisfaction (aka fun) and high long-term benefit (aka meaningful purpose) on the up together, but one of these on its own won’t do it.

And at home the correlation is similar, not different, suggesting the determining factor is ‘who we are’ not ‘where we are’.

Some outtakes from the research are: watch less TV, surf the web less for non-professional reasons, minimize the number of “chores” you do, exercise, spend time with loved ones, and challenge yourself (rather than depending on others).

This is a useful departure point for building out optimism in the new decade. A great worklife feeling starts with a hard look at “me”.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pacific Rugby and Northern Hemisphere Wisdom

Once again the Northern Hemisphere have rounded the wagons and gone into defense mode. Besides virtually killing the game by their previous opposition to the experimental law variations (ELVs), the home nations have now voted against changing the eligibility rules.

Rugby is meant to be a game for all and is the one shining light for the Pacific Isles of Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. It’s a pathway for many to achievement, ambition and fulfillment. Most players who make it from the Islands play a major role in building their local communities, families, and churches. It would be marvelous to see mature, seasoned All Blacks with Pacific Island roots having reached the peak of their careers then be allowed to play for second tier nations like these Islands as the eligibility rule change envisaged.

The proposal was for eligible players to represent two tier nations 12 months after they have last played for a tier one country. A mature realization as Gregor Paul, editor of NZ Rugby, puts it “that the modern world no longer exclusively produces straightforward nuclear families whose nationality is pure and obvious.” Many households are diverse and are mixed. In New Zealand there are men born in NZ to parents who were born in the Islands. They are New Zealanders but they are also Samoans, Fijians, and Tongans, and feel equally proud of both nations. Letting some of these old grizzled players like Jerry Collins and Chris Masoe return to the Islands once their All Black careers are over would be fantastic for the game’s development and for the health of these nations.

There can be no real downside to this. It would be good for the game, good for the players, good for spectators, good for the media and very good for the Islands.

Oh . . . perhaps it wouldn’t be good for the Northern Hemisphere nations who might find themselves getting beaten by Samoa, Tonga or Fiji. Surely that couldn’t be the reason for their opposition vote!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Play's The Thing

“The play’s the thing” may be from Hamlet but the subject is from Michael Jacobides, an associate professor of strategic and international management at the London Business School who appears in the new issue of Harvard Business Review with an article Strategy Tools for a Shifting Landscape.

His starting point is the breathtaking speed at which customers and competitors transform – and the turbulence this creates. Traditional strategy frameworks aren’t working, he says – they simplify rather than taking account of complexity and changing boundaries; they produce “still pictures of the future.” Jacobides puts forward the playscript – a narrative in which “words are more powerful and flexible than value curves.” Playscripts “consider how a company could succeed by reinventing its role as reality changes.” His method involves characters and their roles, storylines and connections, links and rules, plots and subplots. More fun than the usual approach to strategy planning!

Jacobides’ HBR article applies the playscript method to the challenges of the pharmaceutical industry; looks at how Ikea future proofed itself, how IBM reinvented itself, how Marvel Entertainment turned itself around – and this is the part I especially like – how Saatchi & Saatchi changed the very basis of its competition via Lovemarks.

The article cites the company’s revival after its near collapse in the mid 1990s. Noting that “companies can change strategies by changing their roles,” Jacobides writes that “Saatchi & Saatchi didn’t just change its value proposition. It transformed itself into a strategic link between clients and their customers.” By “writing a new playscript” Lovemarks shifted Saatchi & Saatchi from being suppliers to strategic partners; created an industry wide concept; cemented connections to clients; and increased the number of pitchless wins.

For me, it really was a case of “to be or not to be.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Red Carpet Treatment

Winning awards is something every company in every industry loves to do. Awards are great to strive for, they raise standards of excellence, lift team spirit, and attract new business. Saatchi & Saatchi has a goal of being Agency of the Year in every market in which we operate.

Late in 2009 our Sydney-based Australian company was named Agency of the Decade by Campaign Brief, and across in Buenos Aires our Argentinean agency Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi was named the “Most Awarded Agency” for the fifth consecutive year by Editorial Dossier. CEO Pablo Del Campo is one of our creative geniuses (as well as my longstanding clay court foe on the world's tennis courts), he and his team had another big year in the Gunn Report, the Clios, Cannes, Cream and FIAP.



Above is an example of Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy Argentinean-style in the form of “The Kiss” – and below is a recent example that could only come from Australia – “Border Patrol”.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tom Peters

I have been a fan of Tom Peters for 20 years. His passion and enthusiasm remains undimmed and shining brightly. He’s written a new book called The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence, which will be available in a couple of months. For many years I have been talking about the ‘I’ words and the ‘E’ words and one of Tom’s recent blogs (tompeters.com) talked about The 19 E’s of Excellence. Ranging from Enthusiasm, Exuberance, Edginess, Emotion, Empathy through to Eudaimonia! Here are the 19 E’s from Tom sent to me by another great enthusiast, Alan Webber.

The 19 Es of Excellence

  • Enthusiasm! Be an irresistible force of nature!
  • Energy. (Be fire! Light fires!)
  • Exuberance! Vibrate – cause earthquakes!
  • Execution! Do it! Now! Get it done! Barriers are baloney! Excuses are for wimps! Accountability is gospel! Adhere to the Bill Parcells doctrine: “Blame no one! Expect nothing! Do something!”
  • Empowerment!Respect and appreciation rule! Always ask, “What do you think?” Then listen! Then let go and liberate! Then celebrate!
  • Edginess! Perpetually dancing at the frontier, and a little or a lot beyond.
  • Enraged! Determined to challenge and change the status quo! Motto: “If it ain’t broke, break it!”
  • Engaged! Addicted to MBWA / Managing By Wandering Around. In touch. Always.
  • Electronic! Partners with the world 60/60/24/7 via electronic community building of every sort.
  • Encompassing! Relentlessly pursue diverse opinions – the more diversity the merrier! Diversity per se “works”!
  • Emotion! The alpha. The omega. The essence of leadership. The essence of sales. The essence of marketing. The essence. Period. Acknowledge it.
  • Empathy! Connect, connect, connect with others’ reality and aspirations! “Walk in the other person’s shoes” – until the soles have holes!
  • Experience! Life is theatre! Make every activity-contact memorable! Standard: “Insanely Great” / Steve Jobs; “Radically Thrilling” / BMW.
  • Eliminate! Keep it simple!
  • Error-prone! Ready! Fire! Aim! Try a lot of stuff and make a lot of booboos and then try some more stuff and make some more booboos – all of it at the speed of light!
  • Evenhanded! Straight as an arrow! Fair to a fault! Honest as Abe!
  • Expectations! Michelangelo: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Amen!
  • Eudaimonia! Pursue the highest of human moral purpose – the core of Aristotle’s philosophy. Be of service. Always.
  • EXCELLENCE! Never an exception! If not Excellence, what?
Tom Peters blogs at tompeters.com. His new book, The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence will be available in March 2010.

Monday, January 18, 2010

People At Lovemarks.com

Over the holidays some interesting nominations rolled into www.lovemarks.com that show the breadth of the embrace consumers have put around Lovemarks. We’re approaching 20,000 Lovemark stories on the site, two of the latest featured people in the news, one a founder of an amazing company who is wrestling somewhat with his personal profile in relation to that of his company, the other an actress recently departed.

Mignonne Wright, publisher of Memphis-based Chicken Soup for the Soul Magazine (and like me a John Prine fanatic!), has nominated John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, as “holding a mirror up to the world and helping to right the wrongs that have led us down a destructive economic path. He has coined (and trademarked) the phrase Conscious Capitalism. He is right in promoting the idea that businesses who care about more than the bottom line, who believe in making a positive difference in the world, will inevitably be better off for it. Read about him, learn from him! The best candidate for a Lovemark!”

And Anita de Las Moses added Jennifer Jones, who died recently at the age of ninety. “She was impossibly beautiful and a consummate actress. Her cinematic portrayals are legendary. "The Song of Bernadette" still stands the test of time as does "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" and "Tender is the Night". To everything she did, elegant Jennifer Jones brought a delicacy and sensitivity rarely seen by other actresses. On screen she haunted the cinegoer with her presence and the hypocritical ability to exemplify the apotheosis of what vulnerability and life's heroic losses are. Jennifer Jones was a lovemark for the wounded love she willingly portrayed so definitively. God has summoned back to choirs of angels one of his most beautiful. Jennifer Jones, may you rest in peace for the morning stars sing together there in your presence.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Optimism: Say It's So

A public art project that links New York's subway system with the idea of "optimism" is bound to attract some cynicism, if not outright ridicule. That's because public transit everywhere in the world is one of the more popular targets for complaint, vitriol and even fist-shaking rage.

However, radical optimists seek out optimism in the hardest places - and where better than the subways of New York?

A campaign instigated by Manhattan designer Reed Seifer to distribute 14 million Metrocards emblazoned with the word "Optimism" to New York commuters kicked off in November last year under the MTA’s Arts in Transit program. He’s been an optimism promoter since the early 80s after an experience as a young boy with his father and a homeless man. He wrote a thesis on optimism and then started selling buttons. Now he’s reached exponential scale. The naysayers were quickly vocal - "I am optimistic that the MTA is mismanaged and the fares will continue to go up while service goes down", and the sarcastic sucker-punch: "I feel better already."

It’ll be interesting to see what effect the campaign has. Is simply putting a positive word out there into the atmosphere enough to cause social change? I’m a great believer in the power of language to change the entire conversation. This is how Lovemarks came about – I wanted to change the whole paradigm of brand management which had run out of juice. Love is the most provocative act of all, and people can get remarkably jumpy at the prospect of getting close to Love. One of the ways we started to propagate the idea of Lovemarks in Saatchi & Saatchi was to simply use the word a lot – in emails and conversations. Do it naturally, don’t overdo it – but just do it!

Whether Optimism is as compelling as Love is yet to be seen. I’ve called myself a Radical Optimist – not an everyday garden variety, but a committed evangelist. Reed Seifer is therefore a Radical Optimist, taking the notion beyond the “glass is half full” cliché.

Radical Optimism is not about seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses; it's about taking notice of the roses that are out there - and getting out there to plant some more. Negativity and pessimism is easy. As the MTA campaign reminds us, traveling through life with some optimism in our back pocket is a great idea for us and for those around us.

Oh and here's the thing - the New York transit system is a world-beater, and it deserves better than the relentless negativity that seems to be directed its way. Did you know that New York is one of the most sustainable cities on the planet - per capita greenhouse emissions are around a third of the rest of the USA - and that's largely thanks to the subway system, and the five million people who use it every day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Year Of The Screenager

A few years ago I shredded the time-honored metric of Return on Investment by insisting that Involvement was the key determinant of marketing success. Get Involvement happening and profit/margin/share/whatever is sure to follow. Last year I articulated the belief that we had moved from the Attraction Economy to the Participation Economy.

This week a bunch of surveys are in of 2009 creative advertising work, and the best Saatchi & Saatchi campaign of the year – T-Mobile’s flashmob dance “Life’s for Sharing” from our London agency – featured in all of them – Viral Friday, AdAge, and The Big Won. Traffic-wise “Life’s for Sharing” came in at #2 with 26 million plus views (#1 was Evian’s Babies from BETC Euro RSCG with a staggering 55 million views).

What did we learn?

  • Nine of the top 10 campaigns in the Won awards relied on direct consumer input and involvement. There is still a bit of life in “selling by yelling” – but the stretcher is on the field. Consumers won’t ever be passive recipients of broadcast messages ever again. Involvement and participation are vital.
  • Great ideas are coming strongly from outside the NYLON mainstream, from the edges – Brisbane, Auckland, Sao Paulo, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Lisbon.
  • The blur between TV, Digital, Direct, PR, Media etc is now absolute. Winning ideas can be driven from any quarter. Game on for the creative departments in every “advertising agency”.
  • Stunts were common, light heartedness reigned, and overall the most successful campaigns instilled a sense of wonder, had humor at their core, and raised a smile on the dial or a tune in the head.
Susan Boyle was “Queen of Viral” with over 85 million pageviews; and of the self-produced videos, the effort from animator Tomas Redigh takes my prize. He spent 1500 hours combining Lego, stop motion animation and a song by Daniel Larsson to create a tribute to 8-bit video games (Pong, Mario Bros et al). Bring back the 80s!

We’re probably still in an adolescent phase with viral, full of rampant experimentation, crash and burn muddled with excessive success. Avatar shows us what mature rebellion looks like; DC Shoes’ seven minute burnout “Gymkhana” (below) is pure screenager.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love Is In The Air

A nice close-out to 2009 was AdAge referencing Lovemarks as one of its Top Ten Ideas of the Decade. Noting that not everyone loves Lovemarks (yet!), AdAge said that the philosophy - aiming to create emotional connections between consumers and brands that become lasting relationships - is “tough to quarrel with”, an “accessible technique to grasp” and “a successful new-business tool for Saatchi that attracted a swath of marketers during this decade.” Thanks chaps.

AdAge also cited these ideas in its Top Ten: Consumer Control; Brand Journalism; Branded Utility; Crowdsourcing; Marketer as Media; Earned Media; Long Tail; Tipping Point; and Madison & Vine.

And right on the cusp of twenty ten, New York Times writer Andrew Adam Newman wrote a piece on how love is “a sentiment enthralling Madison Avenue in spite of - or perhaps as an antidote to - a downturn and two wars. You may have seen the new Blackberry campaign from our fellow Publicis agency Leo Burnett featuring the Beatles “All You Need is Love” which features in the article. Also Lenscrafter; Subaru; McDonalds; Olay; Payless. There are a bunch of others, even the 2009 US Tennis Open “It Must Be Love.”

Creating a Lovemark involves a whole lot more than simply slapping the word “Love” into a campaign strapline – but these brands have shown that the literal approach isn’t a bad way to start if you have got the juice to carry it off.

Our Lovemarks practice at Saatchi & Saatchi has gotten pretty nuanced, tangential at the extremes, but it remains our core. Our company focus is to “Fill the world with Lovemarks.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010: Nothing Is Impossible

My last decision of each year is what goes on the bottom of our email footers for the coming year – a theme or phrase that sets the tone and underlines our imperative. 2009 was all about “winning ugly together”, and we pretty much did this. Time to move on though, from defense to back on the attack, from surviving to thriving.

Saatchi & Saatchi turns 40 this year, so time to bring center stage the mantra that forms the core of our spirit: Nothing is Impossible.

This has been our unshakeable belief and unbeatable attitude from day one at Saatchi & Saatchi.

Nothing is Impossible is not a slogan. It is not just a way of doing business. It is a way of seeing the world.

We need this attitude more than ever. We need to unlock and unleash the unreasonable power of creativity.

The drive for well-being and happiness will make a spectacular comeback. We will see this in greater social and environmental consciousness, more and deeper forms of participation, and a steep decline in conspicuous consumption.

The last decade was notable for great innovation that builds better and better technology. We need to make this next decade about great ideas that build better and better lives.

And as a practical tip for getting into the “Nothing Is Impossible” frame of mind for 2010, I was inspired by a piece Gina Trapani wrote on productivity. She is a Brooklyn NY-based blogger and author of Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better, “Getting things done is not the same as making things happen. You can reply to emails, pay the bills, cross off the to-do’s, fulfill your obligation, repeat what you heard, go with the flow, anticipate roadblocks, aim for “good enough.” Or you can organize a community, take a risk, set ambitious goals, give more than you take, change perceptions, forge a new path, create possibility, demand excellence. Don’t worry too much about getting things done. Make things happen.