Friday, November 30, 2007

No more keyboards?

This is some pretty amazing technology, and it really seems like we are on the cusp of being able to make this work.

I will leave you with a number of questions this video raises. How will this new technology merge with the workplace? Will it change the way we use computers in business? What are the impacts to graphic designers? How will word-processing work? How will this play against the recent boom in laptops? Is this a return to the home computer? Will this technology be available in a laptop version?

Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where to use customized content in a media mix

As proven with our Evangelist Effect® tool, customers would rather get their information from an article than an ad. And now a recent survey of Chief Marketing Officers confirms that they agree on the positive effect on readers’ attitudes.

The survey of CMOs by Roper Public Affairs and reported in this month’s CONTENT magazine revealed the level of use of customized content in the following media:

87% -- Web content and websites
68% -- Print newsletters
67% -- E-newsletters
63% -- Conferences
56% -- Print magazines
46% -- Advertorials
30% -- Webcasts/podcasts
28% -- Webinars
18% -- Digital magazines
14% -- Blogs
10% -- Infomercials

There was an important caveat, however: fluff doesn’t work.

If it is useful, solid information on practical things, that’s what is important to people.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tell me a story

Worried about the increasing number of people who love theories more than stories, filmmaker Ken Burns recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We are experiencing the death of the narrative. We are all so opinionated that we don’t actually submit to narrative anymore. That’s the essence of YouTube: Abbreviate everything into a digestible capsule that then become the conventional wisdom, which belies the experience of art.”

Stories are always more persuasive than beliefs. Which makes sense – wouldn’t you rather someone delight you with tales of their experiences than listen to them recite dogma.

Our assignment, dear reader, is to help reverse this damaging trend. Gush fewer opinions and share more stories. And let’s encourage others to do the same.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Creating abundance from a seedling of an idea

On Wednesday, November 28 Indonesia is aiming to plant some 79 million trees in a day-long event ahead of a global climate change conference it will host.

The nation's 71,000 villages, plus some 8,000 other administrative areas, will each plant 1,000 trees.

Officials say they want to show the world that it's not true that Indonesia is only a country that carries out forest destruction

Indonesia has been criticized for failure to stop widespread illegal logging that, according to Greenpeace, cost almost 5 million acres of forests per year between 2000 and 2005. It has one of the fastest rates of deforestation on the planet and is one of the top 3 producers of greenhouse gas pollution.

The event is part of a campaign spearheaded by the UN Environment Program to plant a billion trees around the world in 2007 in a bid to help avert climate change.

This might inspire you to plant a tree in your own neighborhood. Even more, consider any undertaking of massive impact – something that might create abundance from just a seedling of an idea. What you plant could be extraordinary, too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

“Pass the Cheer” Starbucks TV Ad

Thought I’d share a posting from another blog I enjoy, Brand Autopsy. Let’s ask our neighbors across the street what they think.

“Lots of c-h-a-t-t-e-r about the television spots Starbucks is running. I haven't seen them on the tele, but Starbucks has posted one spot online.

“Hmm ... okay. Starbucks waited 36-years for this? It's nice. It's benign. It's subtle. Can't see how this spot will drive in new customers, nor drive current customers to come in more often during the Holidays. (And yeah, I know this is just one component to the overall Starbucks Holiday promotion.)

“The missing ingredient of Starbucks first national television commercial is brand identity. This spot feels more appropriate for Caribou Coffee than it does Starbucks.

“Caribou's brand identity is wrapped around the cozy ski lodge concept as well as the leaping deer in its logo. The in-store décor of a Caribou Coffee location is reminiscent of a ski lodge, complete with exposed weathered wood and comfy chairs around a fireplace. The leaping deer, which easily passes for a reindeer during the Holidays, is as iconic to Caribou as the Siren is to Starbucks.

“Additionally, Caribou uses a pastel aqua-blue color as part of its brand identity.
So upon further review, this commercial from Starbucks works better for Caribou Coffee than it does for Starbucks. Ski scenes are more associated with Caribou than Starbucks. A deer is more linked to the Caribou brand than the Starbucks brand. Caribou’s color scheme has always been drenched in an aqua-blue color, while Starbucks color scheme hasn’t.

“Upon even further review, this Starbucks commercial fails the “Logo Test.” If we were to swap out the Starbucks Christmas Blend bag at the end of the spot and replace it with Caribou’s Reindeer Blend, the commercial would still work just fine. Anytime you can swap out your logo for a competitor’s logo in any piece of marketing collateral and it looks fine, you have a problem.

“So ... Starbucks, with its first national television commercial, has made a great ad for Caribou Coffee.”

What's your take? Does this television ad make you feel any different about Starbucks? Does it make you want to visit a Starbucks and buy some Christmas Blend?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"How to push pills"

Advertising Age recently published work from IAG Research under this headline. An editor must have thought was a clever way to set up a list of pharma advertising tips. Though the goal in this article is to elucidate on the difficult marketing job pharma ads represent, they continue to disparage the industry as a gang of snake-oil peddlers.

With that out of my system, let's look at the findings of the IAG Research.

Finding #1: Get Creative - Develop a clever marketing idea.

Finding #2: Make Sure Your Campaign Has Legs - Customers remember brands when they are repeated in a series of ads Finding #3: Find Your Inner Abe Lincoln - Choose an icon that is meaningful for your customers.

Finding #4: Keep It Relevant - The ad and the product should relate to each other

Finding #5: Dare To Be Distinct

(Maybe they haven't read that the "Abe Lincoln & The Beaver" campaign is not working.)

But the bottom line is -- drug ads should be creative, repetitive, and should relate to your customers through a relevant visual.

We should continue to refine and apply our C.H.E.M.(r) tool for more effective creative ads.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Style is as style does

Few books had as much impact on my early writing career as The Elements of Style. This book, along with a professor who believed that clarity of communication was in choosing exactly the right word, helped form not only my writing, but also my attitude toward good writing.

Strunk and White's book is probably on every college student's bookshelf. No doubt it is a good seller, as freshman comp classes require it. But how widely is it read? How much is it taken in? Is it referred to on a day-to-day basis?

From what I see in a lot of writing, we could use more style.

Read more.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A novel concept: food should taste good

What do Multigrain, Jalapeno, Olive, and Chocolate have in common? They are all flavors of tortilla chips from newcomer to the snack industry FoodShouldTasteGood.

(Thanks to Brandy in our office who brought in a few bags for a recent chip tasting.)

Who would've thought that innovation would be found even in a brand of tortilla chips? But in a saturated snack market that is clamoring for more healthy snack options, these no trans fat, no cholesterol, no preservatives, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors chips are doing more.

FTTG ties in three core values into everything they do - honesty, creativity, and fun. They are filling a customer demand, but have not lost their identity in the process.

Check out their chip portfolio at their website. What's your favorite? Leave a comment.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico - Part 8, Cell Phone

As a footnote to the Mexico trip, here’s my experience with cell phone coverage.

I had “more bars in more places” with TelCel – even in the middle of the Sonora desert – than I get in Chicago with AT&T.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico - Part 7, Bautista

On the way back to the States, we took the back road highway through some small, historic towns. We stopped in Arizpe to see the Spanish mission of “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.”

It was founded by the Jesuits and constructed around the 1740s with fired brick, stone, and lime mortar. It is one of few such structures with a separate bell tower and the pyramid that caps it was added sometime between 1879 and 1910.

In 1775 an expedition of settlers was formed, headed by captain Juan Bautista de Anza, which explored and opened one of the routes to present-day California, establishing the city of San Francisco. We saw the remains of Juan Bautista in a glass-covered tomb in the floor of the church.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico - Part 6, Institute

Our friend and host, Jorge Gastelum, is the head of a new institute that offers technical training for Sonora’s workers to meet the demands of economic growth – and help create a better quality of life.

The ICATSON offers its students a unique combination of improved human, social, and economic development.

Starting with just 3 staff last year, they have grown rapidly. So far in 2007, the ICATSON has qualified more than 300 students through its regular courses that promote enterprising characteristics and operation of business, including:
• Auto Maintenance
• Beauty Services
• Carpentry
• Clothes
• Electrical
• English
• Industrial Control Systems
• Microcomputers
• Welding

A key factor in the institute’s success is the collaboration of social, private, and public sectors. And it’s Jorge who passionately works to bring them all together.

Check out their website...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico - Part 5, Mariachis

On Saturday night, we had a surprise visit from a local mariachi group.
These mariachis consisted of two Spanish guitars, two trumpets, one vihuela (a high-pitched, five-string guitar) and one guitarrón (an oversized acoustic bass guitar).

One of our travel companions, Rosita, reminded us what musicologists and folklorists say is the origin of mariachi. It is a variation of the French word “mariage” (meaning wedding or marriage) and comes from the time in the nineteenth century when Maximillian of Habsburg, was Emperor of Mexico. According to this theory, the French named the Mariachi after the celebration with which it was most commonly associated.

All of this heady conversation occurred before the dancing started (I wonder who got that going? Yes, you should’ve seen some of my moves. Loco in any language.) They played my favorite ballad, “Alla En El Rancho Grande,” and it just kept getting better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mark's Mexico Trip - Part 4, Horses

A major highlight of the trip was horseback riding around the ranch.

If you ever wondered it a picture really could say 1000 words, check out the several thousand words in these shots.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico - Part 3, Food

Our friend, Mayte, was a creative cook and untiring hostess. We enjoyed the most amazing food morning, noon, and night.

Fresh fruits and juices, healthy yogurt, and wonderful machaca started our day. For dinner, it was lamb and beef grilled on the open fire, along with homemade bread baked in the brick oven on the patio. One evening, we had homemade pork tamales. Delicious cheeses accompanied each meal.

Everything was made with fresh and natural ingredients.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico - Artifacts

During our stay at the Hacienda El Labrador, art and artifacts in every corner and hallway surrounded us.

The hacienda is located on the outskirts of Ures, a little old village often referred to as the "Sonoran Athens" because of its historical and cultural heritage dating back to 1636.

So it’s fitting that the sonoran architecture is complemented with fine antiques to create an atmosphere of elegance and good taste. Here are just a few of the pieces.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mark's Trip to Mexico, Part 1 - Turismo

Travel like this certainly makes us even more aware of the diversity of our planet’s ecosystems. What’s more, it also makes good tourism business sense.

Both the federal government of Mexico and the state government of Sonora have created a “Turismo Rural” campaign to promote the region’s precious natural beauty and agricultural richness. In its simplicity and often barrenness, the terrain is “green”, engaging, dynamic, and fun.

By supporting the concept of sustainable tourism, you can travel to see the world, while also joining those who want to preserve it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Give one, get one

Mark your calendars and go to to signup for an email reminder. November 12 is the day you can get your hands on the new XO laptop designed for the One Laptop Per Child initiative.

Through their "Give One, Get One" program, you can donate $399 which will provide one laptop for a child in a third-world country. One of these new machines will also be sent to you. So for $400, you can not only help bring technology to those who need it (the first will likely go out to Peru), but you can get an innovative machine for yourself.

The XO is a tough, solar-powered (battery recharge) machine with a 7.5" screen. It is designed to withstand consistent 140-degree temperatures, be viewable under direct sunlight, and has a swiveling monitor that turns it into an e-book reader. It has an appealing design and has ultra-sensitive wi-fi antennae. It also features an innovative operating system designed specifically for the children of developing nations.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My evening with Jimmy Carter

Years ago I made list of people I’'d like to meet and talk with - and at the top is Jimmy Carter.

So far, I'’ve only met him once at a book signing. But this weekend, I had a surprisingly personal, yet virtual, meeting with him through the new documentary, Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains

The movie portrays Carter as the dedicated, religious, humble, concerned former president that he is. Even if one doesn't agree with his ideas, he is still a most-admired world leader for his unwavering integrity.

Rarely has he created the kind of real controversy he has with his recent book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

In it, he characterizes the enforced, unequal separation of Palestinians that exists in Israel's occupied territories as apartheid. What’s interesting is that the movie follows him weathering the ire of political correctness. And he struggles to maintain his trademark humility in the face of news sound bites, fiery talk show rhetoric, and pundits looking to pick a fight.

As for the film as a documentary, some reviewers say it’s limited because of the dependence on Carter's public speaking appearances and talk show interviews for much of its material. While it may not be anywhere near a full accounting of Carter's legacy (and traveling with Jimmy Carter isn't exactly going backstage with the Tom Petty), it is still quite compelling. From my feeling of the audience, too, it seemed to derive its appeal from so many sources you couldn’t keep track of them all.

So until I can have dinner with Jimmy Carter, I'’ll appreciate the chance to spend a couple of hours with him through this film.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What type of space do you work in best?

Tired of sitting in your cubicle? Well, you can thank Intel, computer chip giant, for the popularization of the segmented cube working environment.

But the long-maligned cubicle, made infamous by Dilbert, Office Space, and others may be reaching its end. Companies are learning that the cube is not all it is cracked up to be. Not only does it stifle diversity, but it does not give people the work privacy it seems to. Though visually cut off from coworkers, most cube environments are not sound insulated.

Many companies are now realizing that open work environments promote teamwork and collaboration, and that small privacy rooms can be easily provided for those times when individual work is essential.

We are conducting our own non-scientific poll of what work environment suits you best. Surf on over to my home page at Stinson Brand Innovation to put in your response and see what others are saying!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Highlights from the Experiential Marketing Summit

A “brand experience” is created when a customer tells you what they want and you respond to them in ways that integrate your brand into their life. StinsonGEM recently hosted a group of team members and clients at a two-day summit on brand experiential marketing.

Here is a brief overview of three case studies presented by leading marketers at the summit:

Starbucks – the neighborhood gathering place

For Starbucks, the number one marketing strategy is opening stores. It considers the major media choice to be the baristas and the idea of creating a neighborhood gathering place.

Starbucks vice president of marketing suggested four key elements: authenticity, human connection, participation, and core focus.

One specific example presented was the addition of a coffee-tasting event as part of Starbucks’ sponsorship of the Aspen Food & Wine Event. There were exclusive blends you could not get anywhere else. The response by both chefs and attendees leveraged their visibility at the event.

CROCS – strapping on to sponsorships
Because CROCS shoes aren’t attractive, they needed the interaction with the customer to tell the bigger story. So, CROCS uses a method of 360 degrees of activation with sponsorships, including products, merchandise and signage. At various sporting events, they allow the consumer to create pages at and put their favorite sports team on the back strap of their shoes.

GAP – partnering for a cause
In October 2006, with the help of Bono and Oprah, GAP launched their involvement with (PRODUCT) RED™ on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Half the proceeds from GAP RED goes towards the Global Fund, which helps women and children in Africa affected by HIV/AIDS. GAP has not only become a global partner of (PRODUCT) RED™, but also makes some of the clothing in Africa.

If you are interested in learning more about Experiential Marketing, send for our latest white paper that offers more details on these cases, plus seven milestones suggested by the expert speakers at the Summit. It also provides links and further resources for creating effective programs.