Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Everything I Need to Know About the Internet, I Learned at ROFLcon

Attention, class. ROFLschool is in session.
Come on. You're telling me that you wouldn't have felt like you were transported into a scene from Good Will Hunting too? (That's too as in as well, not too as in the sequel like Look Who's Talking Too. And thank goodness for that because you can't mess with a classic.) The conference was held on MIT campus classrooms and lecture halls but instead of Professor Gerald Lambeau lecturing at the front, we were graced by the presence of such "Masters of the Internet" (TM pending) as the guys in this picture below.
That panel about Making Money on the Internet included (from viewer's left to right): Andrew of Rocketboom, Alex of Million Dollar Homepage, Kyle of One Red Paperclip, Ian from Chuck Norris Facts, Andy of JibJab, and Joe Mathelete of Marmaduke Explained. Unlike one of the audience members, I learned their names. I also learned (from Alex of MDH), "If you try enough times to be a fluke, you'll be a fluke eventually"; Andrew of Rocketboom had an ah-ha moment about the democratization of media (like in Wayne's World) and asks himself wwbbllivf (what would boingboing look like in video form?); Kyle of ORPC now helps the Canadian government "think outside the box"; Ian of CNF is being sued by Chuck Norris after revitalizing Chuck's career; and a story's novelty an lead to attention that people are willing to pay money for.

I clocked in about 60 tweets over the course of the 2 days, which I think was both respectful of the speakers and my followers. However, I understand that conference-tweeters can be annoying if you're not there or if you don't care about the subject. So in the future you may want to make use of twittersnooze, which allows you to temporarily block individual twits you're following. (thanks to @chroma for the find)

As I was saying though, I thought it was worth revisiting the >140 characters posts I sent out to the to find the best of the bunch and add a bit of context to a few. (Because if I didn't copy/paste some shit, there's no way this post would have been completed.)

First things first, I got to the conference. Then I found a great seat in between two groups of peeps I didn't know. See:
But instead of sitting there with eyes buried in screen awaiting the first speaker, I sat there with eyes buried in screen to conduct a little experiment...

-@roflcon virtual introduction - two guys sitting next to me in red and black and in front in hat with kindle - whatup!

And as I reported, it "took less than three minutes to make non-virtual intro with dudes next to me after they saw it in tweetscan". Tweetscan and Twemes are both really great tools for connecting with other twittering conference-goers, not just to meet them in-person (though this is something I always find gratifying and took advantage of over lunch to catch up with Katie and Kristen from Wexley and Conner from Fallon for lunch (as reported) - advertising peeps unite!) but to increase your insight intake (let's go planner speak!) in panels you're attending or missing based on your "track" selection.

Yet all this twitter action, blog posting, live commenting, etc. in Wi-Fi enabled conference halls and rooms has a had another—arguably less positive—effect - the lack of visual attention paid to the speakers. Surely, there's no way Prof. Lambeau would stand for it. But for a conference that brought the Internet together, it was kind of a given. Still it led me to consider how I would have handled a job moderating a panel or giving a keynote (a boy can dream)...

-new presentations skills r going to have to b taught to connect w/ a connected (twitter, laptop, etc) audience

I have to point out that I was excited to see Anil Dash based on this and he did not disappoint. He was quite a good moderator on a heavy-weight panel that included from Drew of Fark, Alexis of Reddit, Matt of Metafilter, and DJ Pretzel of OCremix. And we all were quite impressed when the panel finally got rickrolled. Here I learned that Timbaland isn't quite as cool as I thought he was and started to better understand the distinction between aggregators and curators as well as how communities often reflect their creators. For example, Fark sees itself as the chef at a great restaurant - sure he didn't make all the ingredients but he's cooking and serving it up in a unique and compelling way.

A highlight for me was definitely seeing the Brothers Chap, who are behind the infamous (using this term to mean "more than famous" like Steve Martin assumed El Guapo was in Three Amigos) Homestar Runner...and one of my favorite characters of all-time, Strong Bad. These guys have never "sold-out" and never will. I remember checking out their site back in my first agency job, thinking they would be great to create something for Crunch Fitness and seeing an FAQ to advertisers that said something to the effect that they are happy just doing what they are doing. But besides for hating ads, these guys hit another interesting theme of the conference:

Inspiration can come from where you least expect it. So next time you're considering hitting up a museum or movie, consider a "depressing shopping center - an inspiringly depressing one" like where they work. Or consider soaking in your boredom and then creating something to eliminate it (like Chuck Norris Facts, which actually started with Vin Diesel facts on a lonely Friday night for the then high school senior). Making something you find really entertaining or useful was the key for many of these people's success on the Internet. (Million Dollar Homepage, on the other hand, was all about making money from the start!) And once you're inspired to make something, remember that "perfection is the enemy of credibility."

Alice Marwick gave a fantastic talk about celebrity and how Internet celebrities fit into the framework. As David Weinberger said, "We know how fame works in a world of scarcity, but we're still figuring out how it works in a world of abundance." Thankfully I don't have to describe the types of promoters out there, the public image vs. public appearance phenomenon (see Magibon) or pseudo-celebritis because Alice was kind enough to post her notes on her site. Awesome! Definitely worth a look, and back to that presenting to a digitally-inclined audience point, she may find a new career in it. Bonus points for Heidi and Spencer example as well.

I unfortunately missed Christian of Stuff White People Like, but his attribution to fame and fortune (luck) is captured here. Most importantly, you'll learn he is a fan of Back to School, a favorite movie of this blog. I did get to see the LOL peeps in action, who were thanked on behalf of stoners everywhere. Their advice was to find memes with built in audiences and keep in mind that tiny iterations of popular stuff are more likely to be hits than breakthrough new ideas. And though the tail recursion for lolcode went way over my head, I found Adam Lindsay talking about how the passionate (computer science) community completely outpaced him in creating the code.

Marketers, here is your quote from "Cheez" the CEO of I Can Has Cheezburger:

Every second you spend on the haters is a second not spent serving your fans

I caught Justine of iJustine (whose audience is now mostly female believe it or not), Dino of Bert is Evil (who was contacted by the CIA), Ji Lee of The Bubble Project (who is looking for a way to do the bubble project over shitty commercials), Eric of ACLU (who was on fire) and Leslie of Gem Sweater (who sadly, I missed perform on Friday night). I laughed, though not necessarily while rolling on the floor, and I met some really interesting people.

I'll leave you with a quote from ACLU Eric:
Ad people want to order a viral like it's a cheeseburger.

And I'll add "No pun intended." Can't wait for ROFLcon 2009.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rolling on MIT's Floor Laughing

Not yet. But yes, I'm at ROFLcon and from the looks of it so far besides for David Weinberger (author of Everything is Miscellaneous and co-author of Cluetrain Manifesto) and some Rocketboom peeps, I'm looking like the chaperon.

And as "cool" as W+K may be in the ad world, there's very little street/campus cred gained with this "hostname":

In fact lots of the Harvard students have crossed out their username (which had been their parent-given names) and put their screen names in their hostname space (which had been blank because they go to school). Dope...I guess.

Mad amounts of blogging and twittering going on. (Yeah, I said "mad". I haven't felt this old since Georgetown's Homecoming two years ago.) That feeling is compounded by the fact that I refuse to put this crap in my system:

It is a pretty funny thing to give to people as they register though (especially for those who've seen Idiocracy). It's starting up in a half-hour over here on in MIT's Sala de Puerto Rico...and that's a place El Gaffney can get down with.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Real Do You Keep It?

Yeah, yeah, yeah - I know I missed Do Day yesterday. I was in Chicago and Charlotte working focus group facility back rooms, so I was unable to get my interview on. Plannin' ain't easy. And research ain't sh*t but M&M's and Twix. I don't actually believe that; however, it did flow off the keypad.

Speaking of stream of consciousness typing (or as the kids say, "straight off the dome"), I thought I'd hit you all with a solid piece of advice on blogging from Seth Godin that I copy/pasted back in the day:

Don't let the words get in the way. If you're writing online, forget everything you were tortured by in high school English class. You're not trying to win any awards or get an A. You're just trying to be real, to make a point, to write something worth reading.

So just say it.

In addition to prompting me to recite a line from Clueless (yes, again) and then an entire Chappelle's Show skit, it made me want to profess the following:

I write crappy titles for my blog posts.
I rely way to heavily on my weekly features—"Inbox of Immaturity" and "Do Day"—to supply titles.
I am way to literal when I actually do have to write a title.

Ah, that felt good. Honestly though, it is something that has come up a few times lately—for example, when seeing titles like this that really pique my interest. It's basically a cardinal rule for increasing blog traffic. But more importantly, as someone who prides himself on being creative (and loving those sassy one-liners and Sex in the City-esque puns - who's getting excited for May 30th!!! ;)), there's no excuse not to put in the extra few minutes to come up with a relevant and captivating title.

So this is me keeping it real and calling myself out on a Thursday. In addition to thinking more about my post titles, I'll be going back and labeling my old posts so as to free myself even on Wednesdays and Fridays when you'll be getting inspiration for doing and distractions for not doing, respectively.

F that, I don't like people playing on my phone.

Monday, April 21, 2008

As Discovered On Long Island

This weekend I headed back home to Long Island to spend the Passover holiday with my family. I took that LIRR (the train, for the non-NY-ers) on Friday night and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that my mother had made one of my favorite meals (non-Jewish, since Passover started Saturday), Corned Beef and Cabbage. (Yes, it's so good it deserves capitalization.) Not that you care, but Saturday I hit up a nice run around the neighborhood in order to make myself feel better about the amount of food I was going to consume at our Seder. Brisket, Cornish Hen, Matzo-stuffing and of course, my mom's (from grandma's recipe) famous Matzo Ball Soup. (Yes, still capitalized for tastiness and grammatically correct because we don't mess with the gefilte fish.) Hagaddah (prayer book) sponsored by Maxwell House—and watch me tie this back into advertising now:

The publication of its Passover haggadah by the Joseph Jacobs Advertising Agency beginning in 1934 made Maxwell House a household name with many American Jewish families. This was a clever marketing strategy by owner Joseph Jacobs, who hired an Orthodox rabbi to certify that the coffee bean was technically more like a berry than a bean and, consequently, kosher for Passover. Maxwell House coffee was the first to target a Jewish demographic, and the haggadah continues to represent a synthesis of American and Jewish interests.

After gorging ourselves, we went back to the living room and relaxed—this time to something other than Pope TV—and brainstormed the big evening event. Predictably, we found our way to Fandango, picked Forgetting Sarah Marshall, went and didn't regret our decision for a minute. Heavy Recommend for my weight at the time and level of enjoyment. That's all I'm going to say. I don't want to spoil any amazing scenes, cameos or one-liners. Go see it.

One of the other benefits of going home—besides eating like a king, suburban running, getting out of the city and generally spending qt with the fam—is picking up some new reco's and ideas from each of them. (Hence, the "As Discovered" rather than "As Seen" post title.)

1. How I Met Your Mother (Sis reco): I'm sure many of you are reading this and wondering how it is possible I'm only catching onto this in its third season. I'm sure others are thinking I jock (yeah, I was back on Long Island) Jason Segel. Hopefully there are a few of you whom are looking for a sitcom to get into and I just tipped to view. Because it's fantastically current and insightful. Who doesn't love NPH. (No, that wasn't a question.) Especially since he now blogs Doogie-style. Who doesn't love a good Canadian viral success like Robin Sparkles. (New video features the Beek from Dawson's Creek.) I want your life!

2. Cash Cab (Dad reco): I only saw a couple episodes of Cash Cab: After Dark (where the prizes are greater because it is later), but was sold. All the talk of surprise and delight recently, this is a show that delivers (even if some of the cab-goers are pre-screened). A general knowledge trivia show that starts the second you get in the cab and ends when you reach your destination (unless you get three strikes and the boot out in NYC) with a host, Ben Bailey, who as a comedian has the perfect sense of humor for it.

3. Limoliner (Mom reco): It's a 28-passenger silver shuttle that goes to and from the Hilton NY and Hilton Boston with business-friendly wi-fi, outlets, news TV channels in headrest and reclining leather seats as well as complimentary snacks. Though none of us have actually taken this service yet, I may give it a shot on Thursday as I head to ROFLcon. Who's coming with me?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Inbox of Immaturity

Immaturity is replaced by unproductivity. (And made up words.) I'm too busy talking about how awesome Facebook Chat is to find silly videos. Maybe it's just me but as much as it's been speculated and suggested, I didn't see this coming. We talk a lot about "surprising and delighting" consumers/users/people in the ad world. Facebook just did so.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Do Day: Pic, Quote and Video

It's a busy one and figured the help start-up shout-out would do for the Do Day, but thought I take a hot second to hook everyone up with a little mid-week motivation (or assets for presentations).

via katie

Brands have grown up using content to communicate.
But do we really need more content? Or are we tense enough as it is?
Perhaps there are other things brands could do, rather than adding to the ever-expanding infinity, to be entertaining or useful. To earn some attention.
Someone has to help alleviate all this tension.
Could the future of brands be in collation, curation, aggregation, dissemination, navigation, catalysation (insert other words that end in -ation of your choice here) - rather than traditional creation?
-faris articulating (or more appropriately, his articulATION of) something I've been thinking a lot about lately

via greg

Monday, April 14, 2008

help is the new method

That's right. I'll say it again. help is the new method. But while method is for your home, help remedies is for your health. It exists to "make solving simple health issues simple." It's clean, simple design delivers. See:

Just like method's cleaning products, you won't be embarrassed to have these out on the bathroom counter. Just like method it differentiates with product and personality. It has eco-friendly packaging. It has entertainment. It has ethics.

And just like method was the brainchild of an ex-planner, Eric Ryan, help is too! (Yay for us! Boo that we're didn't come up with it first! Reminder that every competitive landscape review/analysis we do for a client is an opportunity!) Anyway, I first read about this company yesterday in a post on coolhunting, and the first line—"Richard Fine, one of the founders..."—made me stop and think: That name sounds really familiar. A few seconds later, I was checking the site for his info and found it in the press kit. A minute later, I was checking my gmail for past correspondence. The connection was made and confirmed: That's the dude who rejected me at an interview for a job at an innovation consultancy back in 2005. April 22, 2005 to be exact. (Gotta love the Gmail...and the Drake.)

I wish I could have waited for the 3-year anniversary to post this, but then you'd be behind the news. I don't remember much from that interview other than the sweating and how out of practice I was. (Yes, excuses! But I got my first job by sending in a video of me dressed up as Joe Millionaire then living, working and competing in an agency for a week. So a 30-minute, 360-degree brand experience-grilling was a bit out of my comfort zone to say the least.) I also remember him asking me about Tropicana's packaging and me saying something about maybe they could update it to a perhaps a vibrant orange. WRONG! (He honked my nose like Ralph Macchio did to Chozen as Daniel LaRuso in Karate Kid 2 - "Live or die, man?" Anyone?)

Now I (and you) can see, he's a truly a fan of simplicity. Not only does he respect the white space, he has thought about the way people interact with products in the health space and found an opportunity to offer something better (for headaches and cuts currently). Look out for them in boutique hotels and design stores for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if these get greater distribution soon.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Inbox of Immaturity

Three the hard way and late in the day...

via the silly entertaining Too Much Rod Benson.

via a posting on fire Kevin Rothermel (working link to t-shirt)

via new favorite Kevin Driscoll, though the "Tay Zonday On a Ronald Jenkees Beat" post title was a cruel tease.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Do Day: The Foggy Monocle

From TFM:

Greetings, Kind Sirs,

Have you ever blacked out on Irish Car Bombs? Been thrown out of a bar before the sun went down? Watched yourself get visibly fatter while taking down two Double Quarter Pounders at McDonald's? Gotten scolded by a stewardess for being an intoxicated loudmouth? Indulged too heavily on a soiree's delicious finger food and subsequently nuked the bathroom? Tried to drunkenly save face with a girl that rejected you by saying, "I don't need any new friends?" Been too drunk and too broke to pay for your cab? Argued with your bank because surely they have your balance wrong? Spent the morning watching after-school HIV prevention films at a free AIDS clinic? Had your girlfriend's niece ask you why your stomach is so much bigger than everyone else's at a family function? Have you ever recounted one or all of these stories in lurid detail to your buddies over Instant Messenger?

If you answered "yes" or better yet "indeed," then, you, sir, are a gentleman, and we, the dastardly webmasters at TheFoggyMonocle would like to salute you.

Interview with one of the founders (the one on your right) to come soon...now.

3:18 PM me: could i email you 3-5 questions about it
interview style - and i'll post the answers
3:19 PM James: yeah totally
or we could do it as an IM interview to fit in with the theme
3:20 PM me: nice idea...how did you decide to create this site?
James: we always talked about having a blog together and the gentleman joke is recurring for us whenever we behave badly and i had a backlog of all these funny IMs/Emails recounting bad behavior
so i figured my friends would too
i hope it catches on
3:22 PM me: how did you decide to call it "the foggy monocle"?
3:24 PM James: All gentleman require a monocle -- it's old-timey and it also aids your eagle eye in spotting various opportunities. After a long night out full of much drinking and carrying on it often gets foggy, and so you IM and your email your buddies to get the full story on what went down the previous evening and hence de-fog (is that word?) your monocle.
3:26 PM me: if it's not it can be soon. what must a gentleman never do?
and the converse, from what must he never abstain?
3:29 PM James: A gentleman never second guesses his decisions. He lives in the moment and goes head in to any situation, no matter how big of a dumbass he'll inevitably make of himself or how much he'll hurt in the morning.
3:32 PM me: where is the best place to get a monocle?
3:33 PM James: The monocle store. But be warned, lines are often long, so if you have an engagement planned with a lady, you might want to stop by well in advance so as not to arrive tardy.
3:36 PM me: ha. i had no idea how you'd respond. good stuff. and one final question: any night-spot recommendations for the monocle-wearing gentleman in nyc?
3:38 PM James: discussing with Dane
3:44 PM Erik: A gentleman will adapt to his surroundings and become comfortable wherever he is, given that there is appropriate amounts of liquor and women on the premises. Be it a club or a dive bar. Occasionally though, the best company is found in the later. But the most important part of the equation is the liquor. A true gentleman must first have half a dozen shooters before talking to a lady.

The end. Now go visit.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Stop and Watch The Advertising

Because we in the industry (especially those of us outside of the creative department), don't take the time to stop and look at "the work" out in the world often enough. Especially advertising that's not from our clients' competitors. Especially advertising that doesn't come from Apple or Nike. Especially advertising from "boring" or "un-sexy" industries. And especially advertising that's not on during the Super Bowl (or now March Madness)...

I have decided to embed the most recent spot from my ex-agency, Fallon, and my ex-client, Travelers Insurance. Even though I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I do know what the conversations that led to this spot were and many of the challenges that came with it. I have been expecting to see "a commercial that celebrates the return of the umbrella logo from Citibank" for a while now and was pleasantly surprised when I caught it on TV last week for the first time. Because I'm closer to this brand certainly than the average person, it's hard for me to be objective but will say that one thing Travelers seems to understand is the importance of execution. Sure its spots have been idea-driven, but the way they bring these ideas to life has now been consistently high-quality from a production standpoint. And for me, they are more and more standing out as the premium insurance company vs. State Farm, All-State, Liberty Mutual, Geico (yes, different biz model I know), Nationwide, etc. Hopefully that doesn't just lead to "I'm going to pay higher premiums" perceptions, rather it will make people think Travelers policies and customer service are modern/superior/etc.

Would love to hear outsiders' opinions. But the creatives were lucky I wasn't there or that production budget may have been spent getting the rights to make it shine and shine together...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Inbox of Immaturity

Could call this the inbox of creativity, sneakiness, or nastiness for now, since we're kicking it off with Patrick Ewing Jr.'s jam last night in the NCAA Dunk Contest.
Okay, onto the silliness...

This World of Warcraft dancing video has been around for a while, but I don't think I've ever seen it. Thanks to Nien for passing along.

This trailer for The Foot Fist Way from Matt has now put this movie on my radar, especially since I've yet to see friend-favorite, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.

And while the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit keeps getting press, craplinks reminds us not to forget the MoMA's permanent collection.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Do Day: Jew-day

I make it a point to steer clear of agency-specific posts. For one, the risk-reward ratio just isn't in my favor. (If that's not clear, what I'm saying is amusing the small number of people who visit this is not worth losing my job because I violated some policy I didn't know about or something was misconstrued and...you get the point.) For two, this blog often serves as a way to disconnect or escape from work. It is usually a place for me to establish my non-office identity. (Yet, the more W+K Facebook friends I tally up, the more obvious it is that there's just one me out there.) For three, I'm still relatively new (4 months) and want to make sure I "get" the place before I start writing about it. (Being an informed writer matters to me!?! I learn something new every day.)

But—and you knew that was coming—sometimes I just can't help myself. (Yes, the holiday sweater party was a prime example.) And—once again, no suspense created—today is one of those times. Because yesterday was Founder's Day and 1. Some video footage is already on YouTube so I'm less scared about being fired; 2. This was the most unwork company function of which I've even been a part; and 3. It was so outrageous, yet so authentic to W+K NY.

As our offices across the globe celebrated the 26th birthday of Wieden + Kennedy, our New York office also turned 13. By the subject of this post, you know what that means. It was time to have our Bar Mitzvah (B'nai probably)...well, time to go out to Charisma Ballroom in Queens and have a Bar Mitzvah party. The theme...Ninjas. And that's really all I have to say about that. (Still think some things should be left to the people inside these walls.) Except maybe that Coke and Pepsi was played, so the following picture makes some sense.

So forgive me for not doing much today other than recounting the day and night (which you've now gotten a glimpse into) with coworkers, looking at pictures, eating, and learning the words to Jay-Z's verse in Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" (which I butchered at the after Bar Mitzvah bar). Okay, one more picture that must have been taken right after I shouted "the best fur - Chinchilla" into the mic and thought I was going to exit on a high note...only to realize I was just half-way through...

Oh yeah, and the other reason this is titled so broadly yet pointedly is that I just found out that an article I was asked to write (theme - post-Birthright experience) for Contact (a quarterly journal of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish life) was just published. Check it out by clicking on and downloading the PDF of Winter 2008. (Pages 13-14)

That's all for now. Shalom. Ying-yang. Hov!