Thursday, February 28, 2008

Do Night: BehanceKlusterSleep

I know, I know. It doesn't work so well. But I had to acknowledge that since it's early Thursday morning, I didn't really help anyone get over the hump via actions.

I did, however, check out Behance's new site, which I know Michael's been working on a ton since he moved here to NYC. And that ton he says, "is like the recorded time of Earth vs. our planet's creation!" Holla at me/Get in my inner circle if you're on the site and let's make some ideas happen. For real. They have a great mission and great methods (in addition to their action pads as MK points out) to help you achieve productive creativity. Doing.

Also the TED conference has kicked off today, and if you like me didn't have the 6000 beans to pony up I encourage you to check out the blog of W+K's Global Director of Digital Strategies for updates. He talks about how using a crowdsourcing tool (Kluster), they are trying to develop a product over the course of TED (a single 72 hour period). Cool.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Inbox of Immaturity: I'm F*cking Ben Affleck

The IOI has come early because it looks like while I passed on some old and busted last Friday, I have in my possession the new hotness. As anticipated, here is the video response to Sarah Silverman's hit "I'm F*cking Matt Damon." What you could not have anticipated was the star power Jimmy and Ben could assemble for this ridiculousness. Robin Williams made me want to run home and do a Mrs. Doubtfire + Birdcage back-to-back viewing tonight. It's time to start taking sides.


Getting my Blackberry last month has caused two things to happen:
1. Others to question my manhood (it's the Red Curve)
2. Me to take more pictures (the quality is good enough for blogging/tumbling)

The above is an example of the second. (Though if the kid had woken up, I suspect he may have had a comment on the color.) It was in Charlotte's airport at 7 in the morning as we rode out (flew out?) a delay...from none other than LaGuardia. We make do with what we have. He had a big hooded sweatshirt. I had a VitaminWater, clients on each side, and a fake I'm not tired at all. I normally get up this early and seize the day. smile on my face. And that's why I took a picture of him and not of me. It was a great example of, as Ideo would say, a "thoughtless act"...and I'm not creepy. It's just that, as Faris would say (in an insightful and timely post as I was working on Olympus), my camera helps me see.

Oh yeah, and the reason I titled this post Improvise is so I could link to this video.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Inbox of Immaturity

Valentine's Day has passed but in case you're alone in your room starting at the wall (sometimes), here's a bit of week-late love...

Let's start with an "oldy but a goody" (can guys say that phrase?) in Nick Thune's Late Show performance.

Next let's get some Breakfast in Bed. Props to Honey Bunches of Oats for trying something new and interesting.

Now if you're ready like spaghetti, Rod Benson lets you in on the Boom Tho movement.

In case you missed V-Day because of a date with the parole board, this should set you free.

Plus some sites that have caught my eye these past two weeks: The FAIL Blog, Hotties Who Leave, Science Fair Experiments, and the most ridiculously named of the group, Buge Hoobs.

And finally, in case you need an "ad wizard" to "fit into your new business model", let me present Alex Perez. Found through Chet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Do Day: Live with Aki

Do Day is back again with a profile of a super-doer. He's a dude I've talked about before (and thanked) as the founder of Fallon's planning blog (he is AKI SYSTEMS 2600), a web-maven (who put me onto netvibes and many a YouTube video), a mentor and friend in MN (and still). So of course I was planning on interviewing him at some point in the future but when I realized it was already Wednesday (that 3-day weekend fooled me)—and another week was in danger of passing without featuring someone who has personally inspired me to stop talking about it and be about it—I hollered at Aki. And unsurprisingly, I found him doing something new.

I caught him on his Yahoo! Live Channel (which I encourage you to check out), and I got him chatting for 40 minutes (as you can see by the time-stamps below). Unfortunately there's no way record a video conversation, so we kicked it old school and IMed with our live images up on screen. As you'll see, he didn't even need my "questions" (I'm still learning how to interview); rather, he just riffed some great stuff off the dome. And I've got it here for you to feast on...

What's your philosophy when it comes to doing?

[ 4:30] akispicer I'll quote yoda: "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
[ 4:30] akispicer Can't think this stuff to paralysis.
[ 4:31] akispicer Fast to beta...stick and move. And honestly, I dunno if the agency/client pace can afford that kind of speed.

What's on the web have you been interested in lately?
[ 4:32] akispicer Lately? It can shift every week, I have a short attention span with web toys.
[ 4:32] akispicer This for sure. (POST INTERVIEW INSERT: HE'S TALKING ABOUT YAHOO! LIVE.)
[ 4:32] akispicer I've noted that we spent some thousands on a vid conference room here...
[ 4:33] akispicer Noone knows how to turn the damn room on.
[ 4:33] akispicer And suddenly all that is felled by democratic technologies like this.
[ 4:33] akispicer No learning manual.
[ 4:34] akispicer Just click and things work right out of the box.
[ 4:36] akispicer Other than this tech...Slideshare...
[ 4:36] akispicer I like how Slideshare is pooling thinking...
[ 4:37] akispicer I am using Slideshare like a Google...looking up topics and seeing how other people are thinking and
[ 4:37] akispicer responding to the same topic.

What have you been doing outside of Fallon?
[ 4:37] akispicer Outside Fallon...Planning For Good.
[ 4:37] akispicer 1500 of the brightest minds in advertising want to collaborate with good causes and make a difference.
[ 4:38] akispicer Ed Cotton has been taking the lead...others of us chip in
[ 4:38] akispicer I am trying to harness the same model for local solutions.
[ 4:39] akispicer We've been learning alot about actually DOING what we push in all our decks to clients.

How do you not get overwhelmed by all the new online technologies ("toys")?

[ 4:45] akispicer It can take a long minute to check emails, check RSS feeds, click on "time waster" links I get IM'd...

How do you make that minute matter (everything you put into, and on the blog, and that you read)?

[ 4:46] akispicer I definitely notice my attention span shortening...but I try to provide value to clients and others thru
[ 4:46] akispicer client blog posting, trends presentations, and day-to-day strategy decks
[ 4:47] akispicer The time suck pays back when you have to deliver an answer to a complex problem and you have all the refs
[ 4:47] akispicer ready.
[ 4:47] akispicer More of my time is being spent with FILING AND LIBRARY RECALL SYSTEMS
[ 4:47] akispicer tagging, using consistent names and redistributing info to parties that could use it
[ 4:48] akispicer Facebook and blogs serve as a broadcast system so that I don't have to find the people in my networks, I just
[ 4:48] akispicer have to order and organize for their digestion. Its all about connecting the dots for others.
[ 4:49] akispicer My main issue with newspapers, magazines and TV is that I cannot tag and file and forward insightful info.

How does all this impact your role as a planner (POST INTERVIEW INSERT: Planning Director)?
[ 4:50] akispicer I see my role here and with clients as a reporter, or guide.
[ 4:51] akispicer I like immersing myself into these nets and coming back to "report"
[ 4:51] akispicer Clients and agencies are intimidated by these technologies...and often, they just need a Virgil to guide them
[ 4:52] akispicer I like the process of experimentation and synthesis - simplifying it into language that is universal, really.

So everyone gets up to speed and things don't get lost in translation (like from acct to creative or marketing to operations)?
[ 4:57] akispicer Well, I think social computing holds the potential to get back to communicating, actually.
[ 4:57] akispicer Take today with Y! Live...the designer hit me up on my channel and we chatted.
[ 4:58] akispicer He answered my questions, he asked me a few.
[ 4:58] akispicer When is the last time the head of a major brand "communicated" directly with a customer/user/prospect/person?
[ 4:59] akispicer Social computing FORCES brands and creators to get out here and talk. It is forcing politicians to do the same
[ 5:00] akispicer It is forcing agencies to learn a new approach...
[ 5:00] akispicer Yeah, I think you and I and many others are digital natives so it is not so awkward to imagine getting on our
[ 5:01] akispicer websites and blogs and talking back. Or risking questions from open web.

[ 5:02] akispicer We are a bit more improvisational and free form...that is considered a "risk" by most clientele and brands and
[ 5:02] akispicer politicians.
[ 5:03] akispicer Most brands could never do what Y! Live just did, which is open up the windows and let me and you peek behind
[ 5:03] akispicer the curtain and just hold a one-to-one conversation.
[ 5:03] akispicer And that simple tactic makes me a believer and evangelist...

What other brands are bringing people in like this?
[ 5:05] akispicer Much of the innovation is happening out here, amongst people, not necessarily among the big brands.
[ 5:06] akispicer I liked Virgin America's recent appeal to the masses to get the DOT to greenlight VA to fly.

And what about Brainfood? That seems like an example of you putting it (all) out there for people (including the competition) to see.

[ 5:10] akispicer I have a fundamental issue with hiding information.
[ 5:11] akispicer We all do so much research and info gathering...only to present to 6 people and store/hide the insights away.
[ 5:11] akispicer Brainfood is really about making what we do open and present before the whole agency.
[ 5:12] akispicer Its also about getting creativity and ideas out of the ghetto of "creative departments".
[ 5:12] akispicer Everyone at the agency contributes. Everyone is important. Let's share ideas together. And eat free lunch, too
[ 5:13] akispicer I have found that agencies are packed with pockets of innovators in the interactive basements, in the
[ 5:13] akispicer coordinator desks, in the production offices.
[ 5:14] akispicer And these pockets of energy and passion and insight often go untapped
[ 5:15] akispicer So I view my role as trying to source and direct these pockets to make sparks happen.

Hopefully you all will agree, this seemed like a perfect way to end. Thanks Aki. See you soon...without any travel!

Monday, February 18, 2008

NASCAR For Dummies

Yesterday I watched my first NASCAR race ever. I personally know quite a few people whom are baffled by the interest in this sport. If you live in the U.S. you probably have an opinion, and you've also probably heard (if not said) the following:

How do people enjoy watching cars go around and around in a circle?

Well, given it's part of my job to understand not just the rules of NASCAR but also the fans, I spent a significant part of my yesterday (over 5 hours all in - including pre-race and a bit of post) watching the Super Bowl of the sport, The Daytona 500. (Yes, it is unlike any sport I can think of in that it starts out with its biggest event.) I watched with a couple of work friends—one in particular (Michael) who is an avid fan of racing and driver Jeff Gordon and thus was able to answer all my stupid questions.

If you have any interest in learning a bit about NASCAR and what my viewing experience was like, check out my twitter. Go back a couple of pages to see the start (picking up Bud heavy). Overall, I had a great time—as noted by Mike, "the beer helps"—though I don't think I'd have the stamina (read as: time) to watch all 200 laps in the future. Hopefully I'll get to attend one of the other Sprint Cup races in person this year. I hear that helps you more fully appreciate NASCAR. Until the next race, I'll be looking for some Target car #41 gear!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Do Day: A Commercial or Two

I should have saved Sherlock for Do Day, but since I didn't and I've been running around in the rain all day, I'm going to cop out a bit and pass along what I think are pretty strong spots our London office recently did for Honda.

Actually, as I was thinking about commercials that explicitly talk about "doing" (vs. commercials with a strong call to action), I couldn't help but think about IBM's recent campaign. So I went to find the latest spot I've seen called "Avatar," which you can see here:

As much as I can't help but take it personally that this is how most adult businesspeople view young professionals and our Web two dot zero ideas, I do admire that IBM (and agency) seems to really know its target. But as I looked for this video (and found a few that had been removed from YouTube), I also came across an interesting article on CNET showing IBM's chief executive, Sam Palmisano in Second Life. In fact, it seems he has two avatars.

I read from an article that's a little more than a year ago, "IBM foresees a sizable business in providing the software, computers, and chips that power 3-D worlds, and in advising clients on how to take advantage of them to market or sell products." Now, either they are changing strategies (and beliefs). Or the point of the spot was to say that IBM can help you get more out of these virtual world opportunities. If it's the latter, I have to say that message didn't quite come through. Oh yeah, and young people explore, try, fail, learn fast, etc. etc. In short, we do!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting My Holmes On, Holmes

You see...but you do not observe

-Sherlock Holmes (Scandal in Bohemia)

As a strategist/planner, you can always count on finding a good quote for a presentation from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, or his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. Yet, my interest in him and these stories began to develop back when my father and I would watch "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (Granada Television production) starring Jeremy Brett on A&E. I've continued to dabble in this passion since with the video box set, the Complete Works in book form, The Rivals of SH, and some treasures I've found on my father's book shelf like this:

My parents bought me a handmade chess set with SH characters (Moriarty is "king" on the villains side) when we were in Cork visiting my studying abroad sister. Besides sending out a huge "Nerd Alert," it serves as a frequent but quiet reminder that all I've been doing is dabbling in these (chess too, I was runner-up in our elementary school tournament - take that!) passions.

This weekend, however, I stumbled across The Sherlock Holmes Social Network on Ning. In fact, it was a planning world connection that brought me back into the world of the detective. Plaid posted its new site for Crayon where a guy named Scott Monty heads up strategy, who happens to have formed the group (among other Sherlockian things - podcast, blog, and journal). Cool coincidence, right? It also got me excited to finally dive right into this passion.

You dabble...but you do not develop.

-El Gaffney (Getting My Holmes on, Holmes)

Friday, February 08, 2008

For the Love of Earth

I read a scary post a couple of days ago on John Grant's Greenormal blog. It has (like many others) been on my mind since. Also, like these "others" (not in the Lost sense of the term) I've offered to help. So the first thing I figured I'd do was pass on the link above.

As John says in his comments he's going about doing something by first working to create a concise, clear, and compelling video and then when it's ready, use it to spread the word. I will, of course, pass that on. In the meantime, I have been be considering another one of his comments as well as a recent article by Seth Godin.

Other SG's post, "Fear, hope, and love: the three marketing levers". He talks about these three emotions as the primary reasons (individually) that people take action. JG commented, "...but i do know that from academic studies in memetics (ideas that spread like viruses) bad news always spreads faster than good. In the past I have looked at case studies like the Y2K bug."

So it seems like Fear is going to be the lever we're pulling for this message in order to get the word out quickly. This makes sense to me. But I wonder if there's a way to flip the Love switch soon after. And I wonder if an Obama win in November could impact the decision on which lever becomes most effective (vs. McCain, let's stick with fear or if Hillary could get Gore in the Cabinet). I wonder if fear made An Inconvenient Truth such a hit. And I wonder if fear was the best way to convince people to make the small changes laid out at the end. It seems the type of action we're asking people to take would impact the approach (lever).

I couldn't help but think on my way into work today that a problem of this magnitude would need to tons of optimism and love. I think uniting, organizing, and calling my generation to action (and those younger) requires it. We won't be shocked or scared into making the major changes this necessitates. We'll, as Seth said, "aim for love." If the meetings we had for Live Earth at Planning for Good in New York are any indication, we're looking for our cause (should have found it by now). I'm really interested to hear the specific feedback from Live Earth about all suggestions as well as to know how other city teams tackled the issue. My feeling is we're ready to be heroes because we love this planet.

Note: Ed has already offered his (and the group's) assistance, which is great. Any ideas are appreciated.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Do Day: Inspired by Obama

I've never been particularly inclined to write about politics on my blog. There are lots of people (including my friend Jake) that are more knowledgeable about the subject. There a lots of blogs and magazines and shows that are devoted to it. Plus, frankly, I never really cared very much other than to solidify my views on social issues and hate on George W. But that has changed. Now I run home to watch Super Tuesday coverage, not the Georgetown basketball game. (Granted, we were playing South Florida.) I fall asleep to replayed candidate speeches on CSPAN not Scrubs reruns. I seek out more information on their sites and more content on YouTube. I anxiously await the next debate.

And I don't give dissatisfaction with Bush the credit for this spike in and sustained interest. I was pretty angry in '04 as well. I'm excited by the fact that we have a serious female candidate (more so than when we had a Jew as a VP on the ticket) and the prospect of our first woman President. I even like her. However, while she represents a change in leadership (policy and proof that we've grown as a nation), she still represents what I find uninteresting and uninspiring about politics. If she and Edwards were the two Democratic candidates left last night, I would have felt a "win" for one vs. the other more critical. Yet I can tell you with certainty, if I watched at all (unlikely) I would not have watched with enthusiasm, with eager anticipation...the way I did last night.

Barack Obama makes me passionate about politics. (Yes, I found myself researching the process of awarding delegates last night.) He makes me believe things can be different. And most importantly, makes me and others feel they must do something. He inspires action (which is what Do Day is all about). I stayed up to watch his speech last night, and something he said hit such a nerve that I got out of bed to find a pen and write it down:

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl Ads: Upon Further Review

The call in the first post stand: Pretty much even with last year...which is not a good thing.

Now having been able to re-watch last night's ads, read some reviews, engage in (limited) conversations, and most importantly awaken from my food+beverage coma, I will report on the day after. Firstly, you may have noticed that above I said convos were limited. Surprisingly, few people at the advertising agency were talking about the commercials today. There were a few mentions of the Coca-Cola work (which I should have mentioned we do here at Wieden in the last post) as well as a bit of debate on the CareerBuilder stuff, which our Portland office does too. As much as I'd like to delve into that one alone, I'm going to hold my tongue as a relatively new guy because I don't want to be forced to use CB! (I will say that the site is more interesting and would be interested to hear your take on the 4 spots. Do you think the right two were selected?)

Anyway, we weren't talking about the ads. We were talking about the game. Yes, living in New York had a big impact; however, we're still at an ad agency (with spots in the game). So if we were talking about the Giants and Patriots in this creative space, it's probably a safe bet that the cooler talk elsewhere was less about the commercials this year. The point: Context matters. Because the game was actually really good, the spots got less of the spotlight.

Context also matters for each individual viewer. What the previous post should show is how personal reactions can be. Two of the most memorable spots for me (the two about which I chose to blog) were too of the least talked about spots this year. Not particularly positive or negative reactions. A look at the more quantitative measures (the ad polls) shows a variety of results. They are, however, consistent in the number one: Dalmatian training a Clydesdale for Budweiser.

Yet this point should not discount the group setting in which most Super Bowl viewing takes place, and the (not always explicit or obvious) impact that has on each ad's likability. Groups tend to reach a sort of consensus. Think about your reviews today. Was there any ad you had a change of heart on? (Heart stays in body with change.) Even if you held the minority opinion in the living room, you can start fresh with the consensus viewpoint and have a better chance of having something in common/avoiding a debate today. I'm sure you're not that easily swayed and you have a spine (just not a heart—check your boss' office); I'm just suggesting it's possible you left the party thinking that Life Water wasted its money because Naomi is the worst even if you thought lizards dancing to Thriller was pretty cute.

But the most interesting thing I saw today has to be this advertising review by the Miller High Life guy. He definitely tells it like it is and is more truly the voice of the average viewer.

Crazy props on the turnaround time. If Saatchi & Saatchi did create it, though, it's a little sneaky (read as: wack) to hype its own Tide spot.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Commercial Highlights

It's always an enlightening experience being the guy who works in advertising at the Super Bowl party. For the past five years it has fun being the de facto expert on commercial creative and strategy (and somehow feeling like you get credit for every laugh from the group); however, tonight I was constantly answering the question, "did they really spend $2.7 million on that?" And while I don't think this year's spots were significantly more disappointing than last year's, I did start to feel a bit disheartened. I had been making the (unoriginal) case to listening co-couchers that although it may seem an excessive amount to pay, when you consider not just the reach of this event but (more importantly) the number of eyes that will actually be actively engaging with the content (watching/talking about each) during the game (as well as the coverage in the weeks before and following), it was probably worth it for at least some companies. But unfortunately when the game ended, the consensus was "the commercials sucked" (with the exception of Ferrell for Bud Light "suck one"). There didn't appear to be breakout stars—brands that benefited from being "diamonds in the rough." Instead, the negativity toward the collection was the final word. And I started to wonder how many more chances we all would get before people would rebel against (ignore, skip, channel flip, or call for a change in the model) our thirties and sixties the way they do during the other 364 nights.

In case you missed them and want to find your gems, you can watch them on MySpace. These are not my favorite commercials, but certainly the two standout moments...

The first is the Gatorade ad, "Man's Best Friend." I know from my work with Purina that the more frames showing a happy dog, the better. Yet, I connected to it because of the striking resemblance of the black lab to my family's, Zeus (that's his name).

The second moment was fulfilling because I was the first person to remember "where is that guy from?" in the Amp Energy commercial. Your turn to try (if you haven't already).

Yes, you guessed it. Right? It's Donkeylips (confirmed by Michael Bower Wiki entry) from Nickelodeon's Salute Your Shorts. Amazing show, and really the only thing that made this commercial bearable.

It's late and I'm too tired to go spot by spot, but quickly I thought Coke was unsurprisingly solid, E*Trade surprisingly good, and most of the rest forgettable.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Inbox of Immaturity

It's already 2PM, so let's get right into it...

As you may have noticed in recent IOI's, FunnyorDie has skyrocketed become one of my top visited sites. This week I discovered an amazing idea and great executions with Drunk History Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Have you ever heard of 7 minutes in heaven? Well, this is 8 seconds of it. Last week Obama faced some (ridiculous) allegation, and now we focus on Mitt Romney trying to keep it real. Aki hooking it up.

Another short and sweet (?) clip from Action 7 News, thanks to Jake.

Sarah Silverman is a little bit more long-winded in her approach but the message is clear (thanks in part to Matt Damon): just like Scotty, Jimmy doesn't know. Aki, once again.

And lastly from the office-wide email chain, a timely Super Bowl prediction from Fitzy.