Archive for June, 2009

The Current TV agency search (which started on Twitter) has been “delayed.”

You may recall all the dust kicked up a few weeks ago by the Current TV agency search. In order to advance to round two, agencies had to make their submissions on Twitter. Many responded–some cleverly, most less so. A bird on the inside of the process tells me there are deep political and strategic divides on which direction the network should be headed. There have been significant staffing changes at Current TV as well. To protect the innocent, I shall not go into further detail here. 

As a result of all this, the network’s agency search has been delayed (you may wish to read that as “canceled”). 

While I would like to think the network has delayed the review to get all hands on deck and put them to work trying to free its two reporters who are now languishing in one of Kim Jong Il’s prisons, I doubt it. Mere marketing types are rarely invited into such lofty orbits. That being the case, I have two words for the management of Current TV about their calling a review, getting agencies to spend a lot of time (hence money) responding to it, and then yanking the emergency brake: Not cool.

Of course, in this economic climate in which most agencies would cheerfully rip the still-beating heart out of a kitten for a chance at a little revenue, I’m certain that if the review starts back up in a few weeks with entirely different parameters, agencies will come running.

June 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

Did Malcom Gladwell get it wrong? And no, this is not a story about his hairdo.

A Psyblog post, “Can The Unconscious Outperform The Conscious Mind,” reports that efforts to verify the conclusions in Malcom Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking have come up short.

“…a team at the University of New South Wales and the University of Essex describe four separate experiments searching for the fabled power of unconscious thought? One of these was a straight replication of Dijksterhuis’ study [which Gladwell based many of his ideas on], and the other three were variations on the theme. All four experiments pointed towards the same conclusion:

‘In stark contrast to the claims in the literature and the media we found very little evidence of the superiority of unconscious though for complex decisions.'”

Irreproducible results are, as they say in the scientific world, problematic. For my advertising friends who attend faithfully the church of the snap decision, it may be time to pour yourselves a brandy and ponder at length whatever perplexes you.

June 20, 2009 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

Will Wright (The Sims, Spore) on building and managing a creative organization.

Adam Bryant of the New York Times has done a very interesting interview with Will Wright, developer of The Sims and Spore, on how he hires and manages creative people. Advertising agencies in particular could learn from his ideas on the importance of celebrating failure and limiting unnecessary meetings (Wright makes people give him a dollar if they want him to show up–a brilliant idea). Check out the full interview here.

June 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

@mousavi1388 – Iran, Twitter and the Disintermediation of News

In today’s New York Times, a story by Brad Stone and Noam Cohen, “Social Networking Spreads Iranian Defiance Online,” almost makes up for all the idiotic tweets and Facebook updates you’ve had to endure (“Shoes feeling a little tight, need to trim toenails before bed”) while trying to figure out what to do with social networking. Maybe social networking is not about sharing the stultifying details of your life. Maybe it’s not a new way to sell stuff. Maybe it’s about creating momentum for social change. Not only do Stone and Cohen show how people in Iran are using digital tools to coordinate their protests, they also make it possible for you to monitor what’s going on in real time: 

A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. One feed, mousavi1388 (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar), is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and in English. It has more than 7,000 followers.

Mr. Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook has swelled to over 50,000 members, a significant increase since election day.

This is more than social networking. This is the disintermediation of news. No reporter or state filter of information stands between events and the public. It’s a powerful concept, and one that will be extraordinarily difficult for the marketers of the world to monetize. I am not convinced that is a bad thing.

June 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm 2 comments

Wordnik – A handy online tool for people who care about English

Check out wordnik.com, a site that combines a dictionary, thesaurus, quotation references, historical usage patterns, and current usage in in Twitter feeds, etc. If English is a tool of your trade, I’d say it merits a bookmark in your browser. For an example, click here to see what wordnik delivers when you look up the word “advertising.

June 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Will the recession kill green marketing?

George Will thinks so. Moreover, he thinks green marketing should be relatively easy to kill because its benefits are purely psychological. In this breathtakingly narcissistic century, people pay extra to make themselves feel better rather than to help solve actual social, or in this case, environmental problems. In his article in the Washington Times, Will cites a compelling argument from Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellengerger of the New Republic:

Green consumption became “positional consumption” that identified the consumer as a member of a moral and intellectual elite. A 2007 survey found that 57 percent of Prius purchasers said they bought their car because “it makes a statement about me.” Honda, alert to the bull market in status effects, reshaped its 2009 Insight hybrid to look like a Prius.
Nordhaus and Shellenberger note the telling “insignificance,” as environmental measures, of planting gardens or using fluorescent bulbs. Their significance is therapeutic, but not for the planet. They make people feel better:
“After all, we can’t escape the fact that we depend on an infrastructure — roads, buildings, sewage systems, power plants, electrical grids, etc. — that requires huge quantities of fossil fuels. But the ecological irrelevance of these practices was beside the point.”
A Hummer may indeed have a smaller lifetime carbon footprint than a Prius–and there is evidence that is does given the amount of fossil fuel burned in mining the metals for the Prius’s battery then shipping them back and forth across the sea several times as part of the manufacturing process, to say nothing of the fact that the hybrid engine’s life span will probably be roughly half  that of a standard internal combustion engine–but we don’t buy Hummers because they symbolize the wrong thing in the imagination of our friends. Unfortunately, in this particular marketing example, the truth won’t set you free. It will bankrupt you.

June 6, 2009 at 1:18 am 1 comment


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