If this is the future of social media…

April 23, 2014

If social media becomes bad photoshop with tenuous copywriting (aka “real time marketing”) and brands talking to other brands, I quit.



Radar 10am One Thing: April Fool’s!

April 6, 2014

The following is this week’s 10am One Thing that I wrote for the DDB blog.

Tuesday was April Fool’s Day or, as those of us who are immersed in digital culture call it, the worst day on the Internet. Every year it rolls around and every year we dread being fooled (and subsequently publicly shamed) by something is just too good to be true.

This year, AdWeek collected the best some of the pranks from brands that hit the internet which you can peruse at your pleasure below. Interestingly, Samsung and HTC, and Sam Adams and Stone both released the same pranks with tech-enabled gloves and helium-carbonated beer respectively.

But our favourite was from Bonobos, an apparel manufacturer who created TechStyle, a line of socially connected wearable tech clothing:

As with Real Time Marketing, we believe that for brands, participation does not automatically lead to relevance. Its a tough trick to get April Fool’s Day right, especially when everyone else is trying to do the same. Kudos to those who did get it right but Denny’s, like Oreo at the this year’s Super Bowl, may have done it best by simply not participating at all.

Parody videos: imitation is the highest form of flattery

March 16, 2014

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You may have seen the video where 20 strangers kiss for the first time.

You may have seen the “first hand-jobs” video.

You may have seen the 20 unattractive brits kiss for the first time.

You may have seen the 20 dogs sniff each other for the first time.

Colleagues used to strive for a viral video. Clients have started to ask for a viral video. Perhaps what we should be striving and asking for is a series of parody videos. More than YouTube views, that’s probably the surest sense of whether your video has cracked the mainstream consciousness and has some sort of impact or effect on the illusive zeitgeist.

Thinking Different, Again

March 6, 2014

A while back, I wrote about the high school football coach who never punts, who always goes for it on fourth down and who always onside-kicks. He had looked at the game in a different way and was exploiting inefficiencies and insights. This is a similar story of the Houston Rockets’s D-league (developmental) team which has all but eliminated the mid-range jump shot. They only shoot 3’s or go for close-to-the-hoop shots. They’ve recognised that all shots in basketball have a value but that that value is not recognised on the score board. As one of the players says “shooting 33 per cent of 3s is the equivalent of shooting 50 per cent of 2s”.

Hopefully we’ll see more of this sort of different thinking in all sports, particularly if the “b-team” concept takes off in the UK and Premier League teams (like Liverpool) can experiment with different concepts, players, formations and tactics before trying them on the  big stage.


Macklemore builds his story

January 29, 2014

At Tribal we’ve been talking a lot about our mission and vision this year. We’ve landed on a certain way that we believe brands should behave and, for me, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fit right into this mold. Not only are they bucking the trend of what it means to be a hip hop act – eschewing commercialism and homophobia – but they are continuously finding new ways to build a story, not just tell one.

This was abundantly clear last night at The Grammys and, while many brands were busy mistaking participation for relevance, they build a new chapter for the story that is the song, Same Love. Rather than simply perform the song, they lived the song. They married, as part of the performance, 33 same sex and traditional couples from all number of ethnic backgrounds. Yes it was a bit of a stunt but having listened to and followed the song for many months, I found it incredibly moving.

Say what you like about Macklemore, and people are, but he really is a modern brand.

The Ongoing Transparency Trend

January 27, 2014

A couple of weeks back, I had a brief email chat with Susan Krashinsky at The Globe and Mail about transparency in general for her piece on the QSR industry. Here’s what we talked about:

We’ve seen more and more famous figures (e.g. Obama) taking to Reddit for AMAs. Why is transparency, lifting the veil on companies, and appearing to have a more direct connection such an important trend right now?

As people, we are relentlessly curious and crave answers from brands as we would from our own friends, families and colleagues.The new mindset is that “if you’re not telling me what I want to know, you have something to hide”. On the other side of things, companies that are acting in a modern, human way and who are being transparent are being rewarded for with consumers’ time, attention and more importantly trust.

What does it say for the changing media landscape, that more and more marketers are looking to direct channels to connect with their customers? Certainly paid media is not going away entirely, but it does seem the old model is changing.

As marketers, we have a lot of new arrows in our quills, now we must learn how to use them properly and effectively – both separately and together. Modern brands are now taking full advantage of four types of media: paid, owned, earned and shared (3rd party sites where companies participate such as reddit or Facebook). The trick is not blindly getting involved in all of these but in knowing what media can do which jobs in solving a business problem. 

Radar 10am One Thing: Dogecoin

January 26, 2014

The following is this week’s 10am One Thing that I wrote for the DDB blog.

This week’s One Thing feels like a best of of all the previous One Things: A meme. A hub of internet activity and activism. A crypto currency. A much loved piece of popular culture. And fundraising.

Lovers of the Doge meme (herehere and here) had formed their own community on Reddit and their own crypto-currency, DogeCoin (XDG) – similar to BitCoin. 1,000,000 Dogecoin is the equivalent to about $2,000 CADD. This week the Dogecoin-redditors decided to get behind the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and raise money, in Dogecoin of course, to send them to the upcoming Sochi Olympics. The campaign was going swimmingly and had raised a good portion of the $40,000 needed but then, in a cruel twist of fate, the burgeoning interest in the alternative crypto currency caused the exchange to swing 50% and severely depleted the funds.

Thankfully, at time of press, it look like $25,000 had been raised and the Jamaican 2man bob has qualified…so we are anxiously awaiting the sequel to Cool Runnings, due out in 2019, thanks to the most unlikely of bedfellows.

Dogecoin on Reddit

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