Sunday, November 30, 2008

100 Notable Books of 2008

The New York Times Book Review has selected its list of this year’s most notable books. It will be published in next weekend’s paper, but here’s a preview:

Fiction & Poetry

1. American Wife. By Curtis Sittenfeld
2. Atmospheric Disturbances. By Rivka Galchen
3. Bass Cathedral. By Nathaniel Mackey
4. Beautiful Children. By Charles Bock
5. Beijing Coma. By Ma Jian. Translated by Flora Drew
6. A Better Angel: Stories. By Chris Adrian
7. Black Flies. By Shannon Burke
8. The Blue Star. By Tony Earley
9. The Boat. By Nam Le
10. Breath. By Tim Winton
11. Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories
12. Dear American Airlines. By Jonathan Miles
13. Diary of A Bad Year. By J. M. Coetzee
14. Dictation: A Quartet. By Cynthia Ozick
15. Elegy: Poems. By Mary Jo Bang
16. The English Major. By Jim Harrison
17. Fanon. By Johan Edgar Wideman
18. The Finder. By Colin Harrison
19. Fine Just The Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3. By Annie Proulx
20. The Good Thif. By Hannah Tinti
21. Half of the World In Light: New and Selected Poems. By Juan Felipe Herrera
22. His Illegal Self. By Peter Carey
23. Home. By Marilynne Robinson
24. Indignation. By Philip Roth
25. The Lazarus Project. By Aleksandar Hemon
26. Legend of A Suicide. By David Vann
27. Life Class. By Pat Barker
28. Lush Life. By Richard Price
29. A Mercy. By Toni Morrison
30. Modern Life: Poems. By Matthea Harvey
31. A Most Wanted Man. By John le Carre
32. My Revolutions. By Hari Kunzru
33. Netherland. By Joseph O’Neill
34. Opal Sunset: Selected Poems, 1958-2008. By Clive James
35. The Other. By David Guterson
36. Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. By: Tobias Wolff
37. The Road Home. By Rose Tremain
38. The Scared Book of the Werewolf. By: Victor Pelevin. Translated by: Andrew Bromfield
39. The School on Heart’s Content Road. By Carolyn Chute
40. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation. By Simon Armitage
41. Sleeping It Off In Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected. By August Kleinzahler
42. Telex from Cuba. By: Rachel Kushner
43. 2666. By: Roberto Bolano. Translated by: Nata
44. Unaccustomed Earth. By Jhumpa Lahiri
45. The Unfortunates. By. B. S. Johnson
46. When Will There Be Good News? By: Kate Atkinson
47. The Widows of Eastwick. By John Updike
48. Yesterday’s Weather. By: Anne Enright

Non Fiction

49. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. By: Jon Meacham
50. Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. By: Barton Gellman
51. Bacardi and The Long Fight For Cuba: The Biography of a Cause. By: Tom Gjlten
52. The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like –Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. By: Bill Bishop with Robert G. Cushing
53. Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene. By: Masha Gessen
54. Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen. By Philip Dray
55. The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power. By: Jonathan Mahler
56. Champlain’s Dream. By: David Hackett Fischer
57. Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. By: Samantha Power
58. Condoleezza Rice. An American Life: A Biography. By: Elisabeth Bumiller
59. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. By: Jane Mayer
60. Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music. By: Ted Gioia
61. Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict between Faith and Reason. By: Russell Shorto
62. Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East. By: Robin Wright
63. The Drunkards’ Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives By: Leonard Mlodinow
64. An Exact Replica of A Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir. By: Elizabeth McCracken
65. Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. By: Leslie T. Chang
66. The Forever War. By: Dexter Filkins
67. Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention. By: Gary J. Bass
68. A Great Idea At The Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books. By: Alex Beam
69. Hallelujah Junction: Composing and American Life. By: John Adams
70. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. By: Annette Gordon-Reed
71. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew American. By: Thomas L. Friedman
72. The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood. By: Helene Cooper
73. How Fiction Works. By: James Wood
74. Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists. By: Susan Neiman
75. The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own. By: David Carr
76. Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. By: Rick Perlstein
77. Nothing to be Frightened Of. By Julian Barnes
78. Nureyv: The Life. By Julie Kavanagh
79. Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. By: Mark Harris
80. The Post-American World. By: Fareed Zakaria
81. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. By Dan Ariely
82. The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. By: Richard Thompson Ford
83. Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45. By: Max Hastings
84. A Secular Age. By: Charles Taylor
85. Shakespeare’s Wife. By: Germaine Greer
86. The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. By: Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson
87. Tell Me How This Ends: Gernal David Petreus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq. By: Linda Robinson
88. The Ten-cent Plaque: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America. By: David Hajdu
89. They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons. By: Jacob Heilbrunn
90. This Republic of Suffering: Death and the War. By: Drew Gilpin Faust
91. The Three of Us: A Family Story. By: Julia Blackburn
92. Thrumpton Hall: A Memoir of Life in My Father’s House. BY: Miranda Seymour
93. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us). By: Tom Vanderbilt
94. The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash. By: Charles R. Morris
95. A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World. By: Tony Horwitz
96. Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. By David S. Reynolds
97. While they Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family. By: Kathryn Harrison
98. White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. By: Brenda Wineapple
99. The Wild Places. By: Robert Macfarlane
100. The World is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul. By: Patrick French

You can read a synopsis of each book on the New York Times website at

Saturday, November 29, 2008

21% lower turnover among managers who feel pride in their company – the impact of attitude on practice.

According to Kenexa (the leading human-resources-services company in America), turnover among managers who feel pride in their company is 21% lower than among those who don't. Adds the CEO, Rudy Karsan:

When you're in a job that you enjoy and you're good at, you're not just a better worker.

You're a better spouse…

…a better parent…

…a better citizen.

How’s your A2U (awareness, attitude, and usage) about your brand today?

Friday, November 28, 2008

6 tricks to Google smarter

These six Google search tricks will save you some keystrokes.

1. Get good sources. Add "site:edu" or "site:gov" to limit your search to school or government domains. To target specific sites, type, say, "neutrino"

2. Convert currency and units. Easy: "12 parsecs in light years," for example.

3. Check your stocks. Take a deep breath, then enter a ticker symbol to see a real-time quote.

4. Narrow by file type. To find PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, or books scanned into PDFs, add "filetype:ppt" (or any other extension) to your query.

5. Search ranges. Use two periods between two numbers, like "Wii $200..$300."

6. Expect flight delays. Type in the airline, then your flight number.

And if you’re like most people who are still just entering a few keywords and clicking the search button, you’re not using its full power. There are better ways.

Go to

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Design is thinking, not drawing.

George Kembel is the executive director of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

He is quoted in last month’s Fast Company saying --

The, Stanford's design institute, teaches its students design thinking, not traditional design. Our goal is to prepare students not just to solve problems, but to find problems worth working on. They must have empathy for real people and their latent needs, and an attitude of prototyping to help them to get to big ideas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

4 profiles of integrated wireless device users – an example of PERSONA® applied to cell phones.

The latest issue of AT&T Mobility magazine features a profile of four people using their phones to “enrich their day-to-day lives.”
It offers a good example of our PERSONA® tool that combines demographic and lifestyle data to paint the picture of a target customer.

The users presented by AT&T are:

1. The mobile exec: even busy bosses need a break, which is why Donald Palmer, 54, likes to unwind by watching SportsCenter on ESPN Channel or playing Sopranos poker.

2. The style maven: As a freelance fashion photo producer, Denise Chi, 27, must constantly stay in touch with clients, a challenge when she’s in the field on a shoot.

3. The savvy shopper: Dawn Joplin, 38, describes herself as a domestic engineer, meaning this busy mom is constantly on the go, managing the household of her husband and three children.

4. The tech-head: College sophomore Antoine Davis, 19, is hip to all the latest trends. Antoine takes advantage of AT&T’s network of 17,000 Wi-Fi hotspots – it’s like having a PC in his pocket.

See the page scan for photos and other lifestyle callouts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

5 minute survey on Brand Extensions

The other day I received an invitation to participate in Brandweek’s, fifth annual survey to rank this year's top brand extensions. TippingSprung, a branding consultancy based in New York City, collaborated with Brandweek, the newsweekly of marketing, to come up with the survey. I wanted to extend my invitation to all of you.

It should only take five minutes of your time to complete – you will receive a complete set of results, and you will be included in a drawing for some attractive promotional items from Brandweek. Follow the link to the survey:

Deadline for survey entries is December 2nd.

Monday, November 24, 2008

7 misdirections of conventional marketing – and how to reset your Strategic GPS.

Some marketers have managed to ignore the revolution.

Old assumptions.
Outdated maps.
Conventional wisdoms.
Tired tactics.
Marginal results.

The result is twofold: Sales suffer, and money is drained away that could instead go straight to the bottom line or be more profitably invested. In tough economic times like these, especially, companies can't afford that kind of misstep.

That’s why David Corkindale, professor of marketing management at University of South Australia’s International Graduate School of Business, says we cannot ignore advances in the understanding of consumer behavior -- discoveries that have been validated across a wide range of product categories in markets around the world.

Here are the 7 pieces of conventional wisdom – and a link to what he says is wrong with them, and what to consider instead.

1. Companies need to find and target the market segments for their brands.
2. Loyal customers are the most valuable.
3. There are several ways to promote long-term growth of a brand -- increasing the customer base, increasing the loyalty of customers and increasing the frequency of their purchases.
4. To succeed in the market, a company needs to differentiate its product from those of its competitors.
5. Promotions bring in extra, worthwhile business.
6. The competitor that's best at marketing's four P's -- product, price, place and promotion -- will come out ahead.
7. Marketing is all about hunting and capturing clients.

For the “answers” go to

Sunday, November 23, 2008

10 trends that will significantly impact associations – use them to create a Strategic GPS for your nonprofit brand.

ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership’s latest environmental scan was released last month at their annual meeting. This installment of ASAE’s environmental scanning process (new scans are released every three years or so), entitled Designing Your Future (DYF) was conducted by Fast Future, led by Rohit Talwar, a leading futurist.

It neatly categorizes environmental trends into 10 memorable soundbites.

1. What’s your leadership paradigm—envisioning tomorrow’s association
2. What’s plan B—adapting to a new economic landscape
3. Who’s driving the talent agenda—recruiting and preparing tomorrow’s labor force
4. Who’s the customer—serving an aging, multi-generational and ethnically diverse workforce
5. How do you connect your community—tapping the potential of social networks
6. Where’s the money—responding to shifting patterns of income and wealth
7. How can you exploit new business models—staying responsive and solvent
8. What’s your consumption footprint—facing up to energy and environmental pressures
9. How sustainable are you—managing ethics, transparency accountability and responsibility
10. What’s next on the radar—embedding environmental scanning, scenario planning and what-if thinking

Each of the strategic challenges also offers a few paragraphs worth of narrative describing it in more depth along with a case study from a real-life association situation and key questions to be used in examining the challenge with your association’s staff and board.

DYF also offers tools to help associations make decisions based on the scan’s findings, and in-depth analysis of each of the 50 key trends cited, including a boatload of URLs you can follow to read source materials about the trends. Finally, there are a number of helpful suggestions for how association execs can get started on implementing strategies based on what they learn in DYF.

There's also an interactive web-based trends database that debuted at ASAE & The Center's Annual Meeting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

22 steps in creative development of scientific poster displays.

The Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA) has published
Guidelines for Scientific Exhibits and Poster Displays. These guidelines have been compiled to explain the nature of educational (scientific) exhibits and poster displays and the steps required in their creative development.

Scientific exhibits and poster displays are included among the teaching methods used in continuing medical education (CME) at medical meetings and conventions. The display of the presentation allows attendees to examine the information at their own pace. Authors are often required to staff their displays during specific times during the meeting in order to discuss their displays with interested attendees.

What is a Poster Display?
Effective posters communicate by the written word and visual illustrations. The format of a poster display provides a step-by-step explanation of procedures and the results of scientific research or multiple case studies.

Displays are usually one of three styles, as identified below.

a) Tabletop Poster: These displays typically consist of a series of cardboard or paper sheets that can be attached to an existing framework that rest on top of a table. The graphics consist of text, photographs and artwork printed or painted on the cards or papers attached to the framework with pushpins or thumbtacks.
b) Poster Display: A poster display is sometimes called a bulletin board display. The poster display area is usually a bulletin board or tack board that is four to eight feet wide and four feet high. Specific display areas may differ from these dimensions.
c) Electronic Poster: This display is an alternative to the traditional poster or tabletop display. Computers, supplied by the association, are sometimes provided at the organization’s meeting, enabling attendees to view the presentation online. An electronic poster may be provided in PDF format on the healthcare association’s website. The association’s website and meeting publications will identify if electronic poster presentations are available.

What is a Scientific Exhibit?

• A scientific exhibit typically illustrates an extended study or a complex procedure with a minimum two-year follow up per patient for clinical studies.

• A scientific exhibit differentiates itself from other educational displays in the amount of material that is presented. The use of display cases, X-ray film view boxes, audiovisual presentations, interactive demonstrations or other types of media into a scientific display distinguish it from a poster presentation.

• The content of the exhibit should not be promotional. This limitation should be given special attention if the exhibit deals with a pharmaceutical product, medical device or any product that is sold on the open market.

• Demonstrations and comprehensive handout materials are encouraged and should reflect the exhibit content, as well as assist in understanding it.

• It is not necessary for a scientific exhibit subject to be new. However, it must make its point concisely, use clinical or research data to support its conclusions, and may show new or modified techniques as they relate to diagnosis, surgical complications or other phases of surgical problems. (*See endnote)

• The display space provided for a scientific exhibit is usually greater than the space provided for a poster display.

Suggested Organization and Layout
Often, scientific exhibits are organized around the essential components included in most medical manuscripts:

• Title, Authors

• Introduction

• Materials/Methods

• Data

• Results

• Discussion/Conclusions

Title, Authors

1. Title should concisely state the conclusion of the study.

2. Include full names of authors including affiliations.


3. Outline the reasons for doing the research project.

4. Give a brief overview of the subject matter.

5. Present as a series of short, concise statements, rather than in narrative form.

6. May present new theories or approaches to treatment.

7. Restricted use of quotes can be very effective.

8. Graphics, illustrations or photographs may be incorporated in setting.

9. State the theme of the exhibit.


10. Because available data usually exceed exhibit space, material should be reduced substantially without sacrificing or distorting study procedure.


11. Data may be condensed by use of schematics, drawings and tables, and enhanced by short explanatory paragraphs. All references should be confined to the accompanying handout.

12. In order to convey methodical information briefly and concisely, a narrative approach is discouraged.

13. Electronic media, such as computers, videotapes and slides often help to condense this information into a usable form.

14. If a product is the subject of the presentation, it should be referred to by its generic name in the body text. The product trade name can be referenced once, as a footnote, at the bottom of the exhibit in letters not to exceed 1/2 inch in height. Company logos may not be used in any part of the scientific exhibit.


15. Generally, the results section will present study findings, side effects, laboratory changes and commentaries of a non-conclusive type.

16. The scientific exhibit presentation is enhanced by the use of tables, graphs, photos and illustrations.

17. Well-conceived and properly labeled graphics enhance the narrative discussion of study findings and disseminate much information quickly, with minimum space utilization. Use of eye-catching color combinations is suggested, but not so many that it makes it visually confusing.

18. Audiovisual methods provide a firsthand experience of study findings, e.g., medical procedures, anatomical changes and pathological findings.


19. Highlight the main points of the study.

20. Re-emphasize important or unusual findings.

21. Sequential, short, pointed bulleted statements are preferable.

22. Graphics can be used.

Friday, November 21, 2008

2016 Olympic bid: Chicago makes glossy pitch for Olympics in Istanbul today

Guests at the Istanbul Hilton woke up this morning to find striking views of Chicago under their room doors.

Wrapped around copies of the International Herald Tribune was a four-page section on high-quality glossy paper celebrating what its cover called, in French and English, "a spectacular setting for sport."

The front-page photo was an aerial view of Millennium Park, with the logo of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid in the lower-right corner.

The promotional section was aimed at the Olympic officials gathered for the 37th General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees. The four candidates for the 2016 Summer Games - Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro - are to present highlights of their bid plans to the gathering this afternoon. Below shows the President of Turkey,Abdullah Gül, and the IOC.

The special section, included with only those IHT copies distributed at the Hilton, also had pictures of the Chicago marathon, the Chicago triathlon, 2007 World Boxing Championships in Chicago, a beach volleyball tournament and the lakefront parks.

The cost of the promotion was said to be about $10,000.

"Each year tens of millions of people attend cultural festivals and sporting events in Chicago's lake front parks and around the city," says the text block on the inside pages. "Chicago's passion for sport is visible throughout the year in massive participation, cheering sections for every team and sold-out events in every arena."

All four pages showed off the panoramas a worldwide TV audience might see in 2016, since the Chicago bid focuses on having events concentrated in the center of the city.

"Chicago's historic lake front green spaces form a ready-made Olympic park set against the dramatic backdrop of the city skyline," reads the text accompanying the back cover picture of the city looking south from Lincoln Park. Many of these locations are just steps away from the best that Chicago has to offer - cultural, shopping, dining and the main entertainment district."

Follow the BBC Turkish link for more on the Chicago pitch: .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

5 tips from Wyeth’s then-CEO Robert Essner on managing for success

It’s always interesting to look back on statements made by CEOs and see if they’ve held up over a couple of years.

On January 22, 2007, Robert Essner of Wyeth offered these 5 tips on managing for success – in light of changing sales tactics, TV ads, new drug development, and consumer resentment of big pharma.

1. Breakthrough drugs remain a company’s best defense against pricing pressure.
2. Because failure is the norm in research, resist discouragement and keep plugging away.
3. Skills count more than size in determining success.
4. Surround yourself with people holding different views and encourage them to speak up.
5. Embrace change but reject novelty for its own sake.

How do these sound a few months after his retirement? How do they reflect on Bernard Poussot, Wyeth’s new chairman?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

5 questions to ask yourself to cut through the clutter – and why C.H.E.M. is better than shouting.

I was always taught that great brand creative has “stopping power.” It stopped the reader. It caputured the viewer. It grabbed the listener. It cut through the clutter.

But what about moving the customer? What about connecting? What about creating chemistry?

Even as customers are constantly bombarded with advertising messages, they are getting progressively better at tuning out the endless stream of come-ons. Companies then typically up the ante and try to out-shout their competitors to draw attention. All of which just leads to more shouting, and everybody is drowned out.

So, what can a company do to get noticed?

Here are 5 questions compiled by two professors of marketing at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, that marketers should ask themselves as they craft new strategies to capture customers' attention in an increasingly noisy marketplace.

1. Can the marketing stimulus be delivered at a time when the customer has few other distractions?

Marketing messages should target customers at times when they are unoccupied, perhaps even actively seeking some sort of information to process. Consider, for example, an airplane on the landing path into an airport. Sitting upright, with in-flight entertainment and electronic devices switched off, passengers have little to do but to look out of the window and wait for the aircraft to land.

Seeking to capitalize on this opportunity, London-based Ad-Air Group PLC places advertisements flat on the ground over an area as large as five acres alongside flight paths in and out of the world's busiest airports. Depending on their landing approach, passengers are provided with an unrestricted view of an ad for more than 10seconds.

2. Can the marketing message be designed to pique the customer's curiosity?

Piquing customers' curiosity can be more effective than inundating them with information. Stimuli that are carefully placed, so that they are encountered in sequence, can be particularly successful at this task.

Consider a series of billboards along a busy interstate proclaiming the approach of a business, but not really saying what the business does. To find out what the business is all about, travelers have to take an exit off the highway. While some may be disappointed with what they find and may not plan a second visit, there are always millions more of the uninitiated coming down the highway. This technique has been used to good effect by South of the Border, a Mexican-themed shopping and food cluster on I-95 near the border of the Carolinas.

3. Can the marketing message piggyback on another brand?

With television and newsprint media being increasingly saturated, marketers need to seek out new and interesting formats and media for their messages.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., for example, has teamed with Adidas AG on a range of motorsport-inspired driving and sports shoes. The soles of these shoes are made of rubber with tread patterns designed by Goodyear. If customers viewed the shoe purely as an Adidas product, Goodyear's contribution would remain unnoticed. However, the Goodyear brand is prominently displayed on the outsoles of the shoes. The result is that every person wearing the shoes is now a messenger for the Goodyear brand.

4. Can the product or service occupy a piece of the physical environment that the customer frequently interfaces with?

Consumers today tend to spend inordinate amounts of time interfacing with just a few objects -- for many, it is their computer screen at work. Marketers must consider how they can capture the customer's attention when they interface with these objects. Customers, however, guard access to these objects zealously.

Southwest Airlines Co. has figured out how to do this, using a small software application called DING! This application, which customers can download, occupies a space on the icon bar of a desktop computer. Limited-time offers and news from Southwest are announced with a sound and highlighted by an envelope that displays over the icon. Customers can react to the offers by booking trips to their favorite destinations.

5. Can your company build into its messaging a consistent stimulus that affects one or more of the five physical senses?

Successful marketing messages excite customers not only when they first encounter them -- they ingrain themselves into the customers' permanent memory. Once a message is embedded, customer resistance to processing it drops when it is encountered in the future.

Cough-drop maker Ricola AG, which uses herbs cultivated in the Swiss Alpine regions for its products, invokes the image of the Alpine mountains and meadows in its advertising, which often features herders who harmoniously sing out the word "Ricola" into open, echoing meadows. The singing is accompanied by the blowing of an alpenhorn -- a long, curved wooden wind instrument with a distinctive, booming sound that was used by Swiss herders to call their cows from the pastures. The company has employed the sound and the imagery with such remarkable consistency that today, for many people, the sound of the horn alone is sufficient to invoke the rich imagery and heritage associated with the brand.

Not each of these five questions will necessarily generate a great idea for every company. But they do provide a common language for comparing, debating and improving managers' proposals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3 Questions About Avatars and Branding

Patrick Collings, author of the blog Brand Architect, was a co-presenter with me at the 2008 Asia Brand Congress in Mumbai. He gave a provocative talk on connecting brands and consumers in virtual environments.

Collings focused on virtual worlds and the rise of avatars – a computer user's representation of himself/herself or alter ego. He stressed that these are not just computer games, but also virtual worlds in which people live their second lives.

These worlds (Second Life, The Sims Online, Zwinky) are eerily lifelike right down to virtual stores where avatars can make brand choices. Below is an image of a virtual American Apparel store that was launched in 2006 on Second Life.

The 3 major questions Collings asks are:
1. How close will people and their avatars track one another in brand consumption?
2. Which one will be the greater influencer on choice of brand?
3. Will avatars become brand ambassadors?

Projections say that by 2011, some 80% of active internet users will have an avatar. So, clearly these virtual worlds promise to be an innovative way to brand and market products. There maybe a fine line for marketers using the virtual world as a marketing channel. They have to find a way to market without infringing on the fun of the game, not becoming too heavy handed so that it doesn’t becoming annoying.

These worlds may also be a great way to test out brands before they come to real life. If an avatar prefers a brand it may influence the person to want it in reality. Avatars may be able to give brands a second life virtually or in reality.

To view Patrick's presentation slides go to:

About Patrick Collings:
Patrick is a senior brand strategist and writer with experience in the media, corporate and consulting worlds. He is currently a partner in Sagacite Brand Agency, a strategic and creative brand consultancy, based in South Africa and the author of the blog Brand Architect. Patrick has written on brands and branding for a number of publications. He was recently awarded the International Brand Leadership Award at the 17th Asia Brand Congress in 2008 for recognition of his work.

Monday, November 17, 2008

6 checkpoints to master social storytelling

Here are six checkpoints suggested by Lars Bastholm (co-chief creative officer of AKQA) that'll help get you started mastering the art of social storytelling and invite consumers into the conversation:

1. Look at any marketing effort as the beginning of a conversation.

2. Closely monitor the conversation and be ready to respond to consumers.

3. Provide consumers with tools that help them carry on the conversation for you.

4. Leave room for consumers to interact. Make sure your creative universe is big enough that there are unexplored areas.

5. The conversation is over when the consumers say it is, not when the media plan (or the budget) says it is.

6. Listen and learn from the feedback loop.

Read his “Social Storytelling” point-of-view at§ionId=pov

Sunday, November 16, 2008

1 beautiful reason to visit Stinson Beach -- Highway 1.

Stinson Beach is located on Highway One, just north of San Francisco.
The scenic drive up is one of the most beautiful you'll ever take.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

12K for me (and 50K for Jenny) on Mt. Tamalpais

On Saturday, we hiked the hilly, scenic trails from the ocean at Stinson Beach up the Dipsea trail with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean. It was truly the most challenging course ever! Congrats to Jenny on her first 50K. And thanks for Rich and Rhonda for hosting us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

12 magazine cover knock-offs create a killer brand media strategy for Dexter.

While I haven’t seen the show yet (ask me again about my TV woes), I have seen the knife-sharp marketing behind Showtime's excellent serial thriller Dexter at work.

To scare up viewers for the series' third season, which began Sept. 28, Showtime produced a series of Dexter magazine covers.

I’ve read the credits for creative director, art director, photographers, and illustrator. All of you did great work. But who is the media director – the one who pulled off this coup?

Nice job.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

7 deadly sins of social networking – and how to avoid them using C.H.E.M.

It’s one thing to say you want to be “social,” but it’s quite another to commit yourself – to engage in a truly community exchange and contribute to the environment of trust.

Social-media expert Muhammad Saleem says you must avoid these pitfalls:
1. Don’t be a spammer. Seek out people who will be truly interested in what you have to say.
2. Don’t be a stranger. Social networking thrives on relationships — the more the better.
3. Don’t be noise. Once you have people’s attention, focus on adding value.
4. Don’t be lazy. You have to participate to get anything out of social networks. Don’t just build a profile and let it gather dust while you wait for people to notice. They won’t.
5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your efforts. Seek out specialized social networks for advertisers and in the fields you serve.
6. Don’t be fake. Don’t pretend to be a satisfied user of a product, for example. When you’re found out, the backlash will far outstrip any short-term gain.
7. Don’t be selfish. Social networking is about the community, not about you. “You must contribute more than you want to get out of it,” Mr. Saleem says.

By applying our C.H.E.M. tool, our teams and our clients can connect with customers in honest ways, communicate easily, and motivate to action.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

4 measurable nonverbal communication clues – and the implications on the Evangelist Effect™

Pharma marketers have traditionally focused on KOLs because of their potential top-down influence.

In our experience with the Evangelist Effect™, most of the communication that's complicated, that's really important, still happens face-to-face. Some of it happens in group settings, but it's still person-to-person – not by email, publication, or guidelines. And yet all of this face-to-face stuff never makes it into the digital record. There may be a memo summarizing a meeting later, or an agenda, but what actually happened never shows up. And all the interactions in the clinic hallway or around the water cooler are not even in the “KOL map.” And yet these personal, informal settings are where practice changes really happen – often even with nonverbal communication.

Now, there may be an emerging technology to measure the power of nonverbal communication.

A professor at the MIT Media Lab, Dr. Alex Pentland, has data from a device he calls a "sociometer," a wearable, badgelike contraption that can continuously measure various nonverbal aspects of people's interactions -- with implications for both how medical professionals communicate and how they understand what is being communicated to them.

In his new book, "Honest Signals," he discusses 4 specific unconscious, nonverbal ways that humans communicate with one another.

1. Activity. Everyone has an autonomic nervous system; it's the oldest part of your nervous system, the fight-or-flight part. When you get excited about something, it gets aroused. What happens then is you become more active and you have more nervous energy. So he built computer tools that can read how much nervous energy you have.

2. Interest. People pay attention to each other, and you can read that from the timing between people who are in conversation. If two people are talking together and each one is anticipating when the other will pause and jumping in exactly at that point and leaving no gaps, then they're paying a great deal of attention to each other.

3. Mimicry. Humans also have a system called a mirror neuron system. Strangely enough, when you watch somebody move, a part of your brain that corresponds to the same movement lights up. And when people mimic each other's gestures when in conversation, research has shown that it's very definitely correlated with feelings of trust and empathy. Mimicry creates the sense that people are on the same page.

4. Consistency. Think of Tiger Woods and his golf swing. There's a sort of fluidity about it that just says, "This guy's an expert." And people have the ability to read that. Consistency in tone or motion tells you who really knows what they're doing, or is really practiced at it, at least. And that's another sort of honest signal; it's very hard to fake.

Dr. Pentland concludes that's the point about honest signals: They're hard to fake and they tell you something important about the relationship and the activity you're doing with this other person.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Perfect Ad Copy for the 21st Century?

Many readers of this book can relate to the question – “Do these branding theories have practical application?”

After thousands of market research phone interviews…
After hundreds of customer listening sessions…
After dozens of focus groups…
…how can you make sense of the words and concepts that will be essential and powerful to communicate your brand?

I’m certain that words matter…and as Dr. Frank Luntz says in his book by the same name, there are indeed Words That Work and that “they are not superficial, timely, or contingent on the ephemeral circumstances of the moment.”

Consider this Verizon Business case study that Luntz features as the perfect ad copy for the 21st century: (his key words in bold)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Branding is more than the features -- just look at 7 ingredients of toilet bowl cleaner

In our ForwardFast branding model, a key attribute in “quality product.” And I’m often asked if that means to highlight the product features.

Well, in one of my favorite features, WIRED magazine clearly illustrates that’s it is not what’s inside – but what it does – that really matters.

Here is what is REALLY in America's favorite toilet tank drop in. See for yourself if this is really what makes the brand.

1. Chlorinated hydantoins
Ironically, you can clean a toilet with urine. No, not by aiming at the stains, but by using hydantoins — organic compounds sometimes employed as anticonvulsants and that can be made from a mixture of amino acids and urea. Chlorinate the hydantoins and they become a magical ingredient — bleach. But watch for "vacation drip": If you don't flush for a while (say, while off camping or when you give in to those comfy adult diapers), the chlorine can eat away older rubber valve flappers. And then your toilet might end up running constantly.

2. Hydrated alumina
Also known as aluminum hydroxide, this is a solid formed when alumina reacts with water. Here it's one of the salts that helps control the rate at which the puck dissolves, so the bleaching action can last for up to four months — giving you 16 2/3 flushes per day.

3. Sodium chloride
Table salt also helps control how fast the tablet dissolves. As a side benefit it may reduce germs by turning the water slightly briny. Unless, that is, you've got a salt-loving extremophile in your bowl, in which case you're gonna need a stronger toilet sanitizer.

4. Sodium lauryl sulfate
Found in hundreds of bathroom products, SLS is a great foam and lather producer. It is made by combining sulfonic acid with lauryl alcohol and sodium carbonate; the resulting soap-like compound traps greasy particles, which can then be rinsed away.

5. Cocamide MEA
Cocamide is derived from the acids in coconut oil. MEA stands for monoethanolamine, which is in everything from hair dye to oven cleaner. Together they work as a powerful detergent and another dissolution retardant. Most of the stains in your toilet are going to be from, well, natural organic residues, and MEA is a master at cutting through caked-on organics. It loosens the material so it can be easily washed off with the next flush.

6. Sodium citrate
The nonorganic stains in your toilet likely come from hard water deposits. These can grow there like rock candy, eventually needing to be acid-washed or chiseled away. Sodium citrate softens the water by locking up (chelating!) calcium, magnesium, iron, and other metals that might be found in your water supply.

7. Acid blue 9
The full name of this colorant: N-Ethyl-N-(4[(4-(ethyl[(3-sulfophenyl)methyl]amino) phenyl)-(2-sulfophenyl)methylene]-2, 5-cyclohexadien-1-ylidene)3-sulfobenzenemethanaminium hydroxide inner salt, disodium salt. Whew! So why add blue to a cleaning agent? It's actually just a marker — when it's gone, your 2000 Flushes are up.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

6 emerging lessons to understand the needs of poorer markets – and putting A2U to work for low literacy consumers.

To win and enhance customer loyalty in developing markets, manufacturers and retailers need to understand the difficulties faced by low-literacy consumers and create shopping environments that make them feel less vulnerable.

In a recent report, Dr. Madhubalan Viswanathan, associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, offered these 6 ways that companies can help customers make better purchases and avoid embarrassment:

1. Display prices and price reductions graphically -- a half-circle to indicate a 50% markdown, for example, or a picture of three one-dollar bills to indicate a purchase price of $3. Price products in whole and half numbers to make it easier for low-literacy consumers to calculate the price of, say, two bags of rice. These pricing practices are critically important in marketplaces where general stores and kiosks are being replaced by self-service stores, where there is less interaction between customer and store owner.
2. Clearly post unit prices in common formats across stores, brands and product categories to make it easier for low-literacy consumers to perform price/volume calculations.
3. Include illustrations of product categories on store signs to make it easier for low-literacy consumers to navigate new or refurbished stores. Similarly, use graphical representations of sizes, ingredients, instructions and other information to communicate product information more effectively in shelf and other in-store displays.
4. Put the ingredients required for the preparation of popular local dishes in the same section of the store. This would be helpful to low-literacy consumers who often envision the sequence of activities involved in fixing specific dishes to identify the ingredients and quantities they need to purchase. The same can be done for other domestic tasks.
5. Incorporate familiar visual elements -- such as color schemes or font types -- into new store concepts or redesigned brand logos to minimize confusion and anxiety among low-literacy shoppers and increase the likelihood that they will try new products and stores.
6. Create a friendly store environment by training store personnel to be sensitive to the needs of low-literacy shoppers and by verbally disclosing and consistently applying store policies. In addition, allow employees to form relationships with consumers by learning their names and offering small amounts of individualized assistance. This is particularly important for global brands and companies entering markets where foreigners are mistrusted or have accrued a history of mistreating people.

Overall, Dr. Viswanathan says, businesses must take note: An underserved and poorly understood consumer group is poised to become a driving force in economic and business development, by virtue of sheer numbers and rising globalization.

They are subsistence consumers -- people in developing nations like India who earn just a few dollars a day and lack access to basics such as education, health care and sanitation.

As these consumers gain access to income and information over the next decade, their combined purchasing power, already in the trillions of dollars, likely will grow at higher rates than that of consumers in industrialized nations. The lesson for multinational companies: Understanding and addressing the needs of the world's poorest consumers is likely to become a profitable, as well as a socially responsible, strategy.

You can hear a podcast interview with Dr. Viswanathan in which he talks about how companies can market to poor consumers without being seen as exploiting them. Go to

Saturday, November 08, 2008

3 alternatives to drug price controls – and how to maintain health, science and technology innovation

As the new president and a new Congress prepare to advance a new agenda, we can anticipate more attention on health care costs.

Too often, the debate focuses on drug access and price controls. But if you want cutting-edge health care, don't make it a cost-controlled commodity.

But recently Dr. Scott Gottlieb suggested 3 specific alternate avenues of pursuit. His view, published as an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, is the controls are based on the premise the medical care is a commodity to be purchased at the lowest price, with little allowance for innovation. This would push new drug development over a tipping point.

Dr. Gottlieb says the most economically pernicious effect of price and access controls isn't the impact on revenue from existing drugs -- but how they distort future investment decisions. They will lower expectations that untreated diseases can continue to be re-priced, even with very effective new drugs. I work with health-care investors and companies first hand. They can reallocate capital in the face of protracted political uncertainty. They can also forego traditional discovery altogether, in favor of less socially useful but lucrative areas like lifestyle meds or prescription cosmetics. He notes that the last time policy makers waged a concerted effort to control the price of and the access to the most innovative, but expensive new drugs as part of broader health-care reform in the mid 1990s, the percent of venture capital going into biotech fell by almost half in a single year. A lot of that money shifted into Internet companies.
Of course, re-pricing diseases doesn't help people struggling to get basic health care, or those burdened by high co-pays.

So Dr. Gottlieb proposes 3 policy options to address these troubling issues – without preying on medical innovation and its health contributions.

1. Specialty drugs typically appear on the "fourth tier" of health plans, and have expensive co-pays. Drug companies need to explore alternative pricing mechanisms, including approaches that tie their reimbursement to evidence that an individual patient is benefiting.
2. Health insurers need to provide new policy holders with clear, up-front disclosures on co-pays and not stick patients with unbearable bills only after sickness strikes.
3. The FDA can also help lower overall drug spending by adopting reasonable regulatory pathways for diagnostic tests that would enable doctors to target drugs more efficiently to patients most likely to benefit.

Dr. Gottlieb also recently debated “Pharmaceutical Communication to Consumers” at the Oxford Union Society. You can read his remarks at,pubID.28737/pub_detail.asp

Friday, November 07, 2008

600 thought leaders, influencers, and global change agents from the worlds of technology, business, social innovation, science, the arts and more

Pop!Tech 2008 was plugged into change.

Pop!Tech 2008 took place October 22 – 25 in the seaside village of Camden, Maine. This year’s event charted the core scarcities humans and organizations will encounter this century – and how a wealth of new innovations, bottom-up approaches to collaboration and insights into collective wisdom might hold the keys to addressing the challenges that lie ahead.

You can view and download presentations at

One of the presenters was Dr. Jay Parkinson, who was called “a doctor you can Friend” in a blog posting.

Here’s what Michelle Riggen-Ransom reported from his presentation --

Dr. Jay Parkinson is helping health care providers and their patients connect in new ways. Using a variety of new technology tools and platforms, Parkinson is flipping the idea of healthcare around, putting the power in the consumers’ hands and making healthcare more personalized.

We’ve written about Dr. Parkinson and his company Hello Health before. In today’s talk, he gave us a deeper dive into the reasons why he created his company and his innovative thinking on the future of health care.

He asked the audience: what is the fundamental reason that relationships fail? The answer of course is poor communication. This is equally true of marriages, friendships and — it turns out — health care.

Hello Health’s website says:

We love technology, the Internet, and especially our iPhones. You can talk to us like you’re talking to a friend: through emails, texts, phone calls, instant messages, or face-to-face conversations. Also, everything’s online, from making appointments to accessing your records.

Parkinson not only uses current technologies (his website, Google calendar, PayPal and iphone updates) to improve doctor/patient communication issues, but he’s also reinvented the payment model of the healthcare system, charging a $35 a month subscription fee in addition to flat rates for things like answering emails and video or IM chats. He states that 50% of office visits are unnecessary: he’d rather the patient spend less time and money by communicating about what the problem is and determining what the next steps are based on that initial (virtual) conversation.

True to 2.0 form, Parkinson’s also has both a personal website and a blog where one can read his further thoughts on how technology, politics and pop culture impact the kind of health care we’re getting.

Michelle Riggen-Ransom is a writer who focuses on social media, technology, nature, parenting and increasingly, the intersection of those topics. She is also co-founder and Communications Director for BatchBlue Software, which makes online tools for small businesses. Having lived at various times in Boston, London, Rome, Florida, Los Angeles and Seattle, Michelle currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

“I do it for the love of it.”

I recently had coffee with an old friend and colleague. We were comparing experiences, stories, good times, and struggles. I ask him why, after all these years, does he still do this. And he said, “I do it for the love of it.”

Walking home with my iPod Shuffle on, a song came on that proves there are no coincidences in this world. It reinforced my friend’s comment perfectly. And listening to the lyrics in a professional, client-service, and career context gave the song a whole new meaning.


I would fly ten thousand miles
In the pouring rain
Just to see your face
I'd bare my soul to a total stranger
Just to say your name
And I'm not ashamed

I won't do it for money
I won't do it for pride
I won't do it to please somebody else
If it don't feel right
But I'll do it for you
And at least I'll try
I don't need any other reason
Than I feel it deep inside

I'll Do It For Love
I would write your name across the sky
So the world could see
What you mean to me
I'd sing songs at the top of my voice
In an empty room
Just to dance with you

I'll Do It For Love
What I do for love can take us anywhere at all

(Hall & Oates)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Paul Newman, the brand guy, taught us a lesson in his marketing model.

In remembering Paul Newman, he demonstrated that innovation is not something you pursue purely in hope of gaining competitive advantage; you do it to transform unlikely ideas into life-changing breakthroughs.

That’s what author Tim Manners wrote in Advertising Age.

Newman understood that the strongest kind of brand was simply the kind that he, himself, would make in his own kitchen.

What kind of new technology venture brands itself “Canoe”?

Our COO Brian Cohan from Stinson Brand Innovation was recently in New York for a media conference and met David Verklin who heads up Canoe Ventures.

Canoe was created when six of the largest cable companies in U.S. – Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, and Bright House – came together to allow national advertisers to buy customized and targeted ads.

Verklin is charged with not only holding all the disparate companies together, but on helping make “addressable TV” a reality on a national basis.

At the meeting, Verklin was asked about the name “canoe.”

This company isn’t called “Battleship,” Verklin said. Nor is it called “Ocean Liner.” So what does the name signify?

“A canoe is kind of tippy. The mission here is to bring interactivity and addressability to a national advertising and national content. But we can only do that if we—the operators, the networks and the advertisers—stay in the boat, rowing together. There’s been enormous enthusiasm from the operators. Part of this is mutual self-interest. That’s always a marvelous basis for a partnership. The six multi-system operators know that only by working in tandem, that’s the only way we can offer an addressable solution to the problem of national advertising and cable TV. The need is driving the cooperation and the cooperation is driving the need.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Have you had any “dumb ideas” lately? Why not?

Seth Godin, author of “The Purple Cow,” expanded his idea into the next step – “The Big Moo.” With 33 of the world’s smartest business thinkers collaborating on the book, “The Big Moo” will definitely inspire you to change remarkably.

With Seth’s encouragement (and permission), I share with you a chapter from the book. Check our library or call me to get a copy. I’m glad to pass one along to you.


This will be the dumbest riff on marketing you will ever read. If you’re lucky.

Marketing is overwhelmed by complexity, and marketers’ pre-disposition toward creativity only complicates their job, their companies’ operations, and their own lives even more.
Ten years ago, the challenges were merely:
the advance of the five-hundred-channel universe
reconciling the historic tensions between marketing and sales
calculating the return on advertising investment
keeping abreast of fickle public taste.

Today, a quick look at Google indicates that we’re grappling with an eight-billion-channel world. The distinction between marketing and sales has evaporated in the face of direct-marketing technologies that brand products, take orders, and fulfill them at the same time.

Even worse, there is no more public taste. There are only publics’ tastes, which are ever more atomized, specific, and hard to fathom.

David Ogilvy’s contention that “it takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product” no longer applies. His fellow advertising guru Bill Bernbach’s belief that, in marketing, “not to be different is virtually suicidal” today itself may be suicidal in and of itself.

The solution to marketing’s current ills is not more creativity.

It’s less.

Novelty for the sake of novelty is not only risky, it’s more often than not a recipe for irrelevance. A study of 1,300 publicly traded U.S. companies in fifty-five industries by Chuck Lucier, senior vice president emeritus at Booz Allen Hamilton, found that only four broad ideas, copied over and over again in one sector after another, accounted for 80 percent of the breakout businesses created between 1965 and 1995: power retailing, megabranding, focus/simplify/standardize, and the value chain bypass. True, the big-box store may not be the most original concept on Earth— which is exactly the point!

Originality hasn’t mattered a whit to the customers, employees, and shareholders who have enjoyed its application in consumer electronics (Circuit City), home improvement (Home Depot), and office supplies (Staples).

So what is the simple, dumb truth?

Imitation Across Industries Is More Efficient and Effective Than Blue-Sky Creativity and Innovation

If you accept that one million monkeys pounding on keyboards for one thousand years will eventually, accidentally produce a ton of gibberish and one Shakespearean sonnet, you must also accept the converse: that a lone creative individual racking her brain will produce much less gibberish, and nothing profound. Appropriating existing marketing concepts is cheaper—and certainly quicker to implement— than developing new ones.

The secret is bringing a great idea from another market or industry to your market or your industry.

The Energy Isn’t in the Idea; it’s in the Execution

Every manager, from the middle on up, knows that the secret to success lies not in strategy, but in galvanizing a team to implement the strategy. Lucier’s research on breakout businesses also showed that the winning companies in each market were those that put together a winning business system around the unoriginal ideas. The hard work of marketing lies not in developing a groundbreaking product or the communications scheme for it, but in coordinating the efforts of R&D, manufacturing, finance, communications, sales, or some set of subunits. Do this once, and you’ve created a cross-
functional team that knows how to do it over and over again, and whose enthusiasm itself communicates volumes.

You Must Create True Believers Before You Can Win New Converts

I once asked the president of a major U.S. auto company whether any studies had been done to determine which factors distinguished superior salespeople from average salespeople.

He responded that the only research he’d ever seen found no differences in age, education, sex, race, or family background, but did reveal one distinct variable: the number of times the individual went back and attempted to close the sale. Faith in yourself and in your colleagues is a necessary predisposition for marketers; the best ones convey that faith outward, eventually subsuming their customers and clients. The most powerful marketing ideas create and reinforce that kind of faith.

It’s Your Context That Counts

The big idea doesn’t have to be the brand-new idea. Something common to the world at large may be very new to you and your organization. This is more than enough to galvanize the team, create faith, and build the world’s greatest marketing department.

Three Dumb Ideas:

This may be a dumb idea, but what if we take our company’s private annual review and turn it into a full-blown, beautifully designed, public annual report? Surely, it would communicate our changes and strengths to the outside world—and it would also create immense new pride inside our globally dispersed company, more understanding of our strategy, and greater consistency in our numerous marketing efforts.

This may be a dumb idea, but what if we publish a book of our research and writing on enterprise resilience—not with a mainstream publisher who’ll take a year to get from manuscript to finished product, but by ourselves? Using existing vendors in graphic design, print-on-demand production, and online sales, we could complete the book in six weeks, stirring the members on the team to personally take it to their clients, discuss its contents, and build their business. In two years, we could publish six books, create our own imprint, sell thousands of copies, distribute tens of thousands more, garner major-media reviews, and create a publishing capability in a nonpublishing company.

This may be a dumb idea, but what if we create a diagnostic tool that uses principles of organizational economics to measure the effectiveness of large companies, then put it on the Web so that individuals can assess their own firms’ abilities? Less than a year later, there could be a 60,000-profile database, segmentable by country, sector, and function—and a thriving global practice in “Org DNA.”

An annual report. A book. An online survey. We did it well, and we did it together, knitting our internal communities and our external markets into a quilt that may be patchwork, but is exquisitely patterned nonetheless. This is the simplicity on the other side of marketing’s complexity.

Dumb enough for you?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sync® from Ford: Live + online for a 360° marketing experience

There’s been plenty of talk about how to create a true social marketing that would leverage events with the web and connect to traditional leads. In recent workshop I attended, Connie Fontaine, manager of experiential and multi-cultural communications at Ford Motor Company, showed how it can actually be done.

The brand is Sync, a feature created by a partnership of Ford with Microsoft. It lets a Ford driver control the radio, phone, and MP3 components with vocalized commands. (read more about it at

Connie described a rather engrossing ethnic networking/social media/viral crusade featuring young teen friends, Kim and Seana. They crossed the country performing and delivered videos of their adventures along the way. While the webisodes may have seemed somewhat scripted, the women were real. In fact, Connie surprised the group at the end of her talk by having Kim, the singer/songwriter of the pair, perform a song live. While it might be a tough crowd – more than a hundred marketers in a conference room – she proved herself to be a genuine buzz-builder. (see more about it at

This allowed Connie to summarize the Ford Sync approach to engaging and connecting the events to lead-generation:
• Act different…Have fun!
• Be relevant…What do people want? Where?
• Be entertaining
• Be vital, integral part of plan

If you are thinking about live + online for a 360° marketing experience, what are the potential applications for health, science, and technology marketers?

When you develop an event with Stinson Brand Innovation, your team can integrate both live and online media to meet your objectives. We consider how tactics can be connected from branded events to social networking to lead generation.