Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Brands: Knowing your target

An interview with Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO Mike Jeffries reveals that while he is a bit eccentric and perhaps uses too many bleaching products for a 61-year-old, he does know his target inside and out.

"As far as Jeffries is concerned, America's unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he says. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either."

Trend: User-Created:Video Mash-Ups

In keeping with the REMIX/MASH-UP AUDIO TREND of the past few years, the ubiquity of video edit software such as Final Cut Pro is fueling a surge in VIDEO MASH-UPS. As with audio (what is a Mash-Up? DJ's may put a Blondie vocal over a Pharrell beat, or the ever-quoted example of Dangermouse's JayZ Black Album vocals placed on Beatles White Album beats), one takes disparate elements of video and re-edits it to a new soundtrack to change the context.

here are some hot ones to peep...



AKI COMMENT: So...consider the impacts that cheap Japanese electronic turntables, Casio sampler keyboards and Dr Rhythm beat machines made on music in the late 70s and early 80s - particularly archive music libraries. Hip hop and the remix lifestyle single-handedly rescued mass interest in Blue Note's libraries from obscurity, or recall Aerosmith was saved by Run DMC's hip repurposing, and James Brown (appropriated by damn near EVERYBODY and saved from oldies reunion show hell). Or now with Electroclash, consider the uptick of interest in former discount bin classics like Kraftwerk and Yes. Nothing makes a crate of oldies suddenly hot and profitable again like a good ol' grassroots repurposing.

But consider what effects Video Mash-Ups could have on, say, old studio movie retreads? Instead of movie studio execs bitching every year about not selling tickets to their lame blockbusters, they should develop a collaborative platform for remixing the classics and gleening a new relevance. Recall the grassroots model of the Wizard of Oz vs Pink Floyd/Dark Side o' The Moon (you know you lit one up with the fellas and tested this urban myth). This phenomenon tapped new markets as college kids rolled a spliff and explored a new film-music juxtaposition that was hardly intended by the original authors. Imagine if the studios re-released Reservoir Dogs with a new Dr Dre soundtrack? Or Star Wars mashed up with Squarepusher flipping the knobs (remember how lame the cantina music was?)? 2001:A Space Odessey as soundtracked by Boards of Canada? Or The Blues Brothers with new voiceover commentary by hot new comedians (just like watching the movies with your favorite comics!)?. Hell, you could take the same movie and repurpose and reissue it ad infinitum with different DJ reinterpretations (think Back To Mine or DJ Kicks for movies). How many additional versions could you now sell with this Mash-Up formula? How many versions could you be convinced to buy for your personal library just by having the soundtrack mashed-up by new artists/DJs? Seems my mash-up movie method would be cheaper even than the standard movie remake model which says shoot a whole new lame movie at inflated prices, and then bitch when it fails to exceed expectations and the kids prefer to get stoned at home and watch Teletubbies while blasting some NWA anyway.

Recall, too, how remixing created whole new cottage industries for musicians, new vertical revenue sources ie instrumental versions, accapella versions, club remixes, scratch mixes with only the freshest loops collected for your sampling pleasure.

Could (would) Hollywood develop new digital interfaces (and new rights standards) to easily manipulate their old footage for public sampling and remixing? It is likely these scenarios are not an "if" but a "when" next week-ish (with or without studio permissions). But more likely, Hollywood will respond to the trend with a cease-and-desist order on the next industrious kid who edits Darth Maul lightsaber battles to Ghostface Killa beats (and a cease-and-desist, too, for the websites who showcase these clips to thousands globally). Recall that it took the music industry 10 years to catch on to the imperitive of standardizing the music rights so everybody can just get paid off youthful remixing of otherwise dusty (and unprofitable) tracks, and not wholey discourage usage altogether. Recall, too, they shut down Napster, their model for a digital future (which Apple quietly mimicked and legitimized for them).

Maybe Video Mash-Ups are in the master plan for Apple as Steve Jobs infiltrates Disney - there lies the holy vault of dusty classics that could use some repurposing (like this kid's Tron Mash-Up).

Monday, January 30, 2006

Trend: People Ranking

to add to your comment below Sarah,

Check out and for up-to-date Man Rankings as collected and contributed by women. More of the potentially dark side of "The Power Of Us" (or not, depending on your POV). As implied, these sites take the eBay/Epinions/CarMax formula and collectively posts SERVICE AND PERFORMANCE REVIEWS OF EX-BOYFRIENDS, so you can avoid the problem boys. No guy can resist at least checking that he is not listed (I checked. I'm clear. Whew.). And as much as this could be a useful guide for alerting girldom to the faulty model men, it does lack the basic cross-examination rights owed to the wrongly-accused.

Quoted from
" is a database that searches and ranks men's past relationship history. Our worldwide "Rate-a-Guy" database survey ranks men's infidelity, hygiene, education, manners, finances, sexual performance, abusive behavior, marriage and commitment potential, general comments and more. Our system automatically tallies the number of total votes and ranks them into a graph percentage form."

Imagine HR getting these links before deciding to hire you?

inversely, fo' da fellas...goto,,, to post your side of the story.

Comment: Everyone's Got a Story

LEAKED: A few months ago I heard from a friend at an undisclosed NY ad agency that, as a part of the hiring selection, prospects were "facebooked"--someone in HR trolled for their profiles on to see what their extracurriculars really were like. A note in YPulse today mentioned the growing trend, so I logged on to my dusty account and tried to find anything incriminating about myself. I was surprised to see several pictures on my site that I had not posted--all of me at the library, of course--friends had tagged them and now I am a listed accomplice. It's interesting to see how the empowerment of user generated content can have an unexpected backlash; I'm sure employers are scanning myspace and friendster, too. Yes, it's public domain, but what happens when the personae I've created is editable by others? And now my job's relying on it?

PROCLAIMED: SMITH magazine is calling out for info on your interesting life, believing that "everyone's got a story to tell." Eventually, these guys want to collect enough content to get into print. What I've found to be interesting about the submissions is that they are surprisingly thoughtful and current. Plus, they're prioritized by which the editors find to be interesting.

Comment: A slow day in planning

Time to ruminate on Chelsea's historic financial loss of 140 million pounds

They won 20 out of 23 games. Abramovich has spent 166 million just this year. The cost of each winning game: 8.3 million pounds,,1696888,00.html

History: Advertising's Good 'Ol Days is dedicated to showcasing the "better living"-style commercial art of mid-century America, including classic auto, home decor, appliance and food adverts of yesteryear. Take a look at the current scanned online "exhibit" of Demonic Tots (And Deeply Disturbing Cuisine) to see the long history of Advertising's sinister effect on the kids. "Mmmmn, more bacon-Velveeta-weenies, Mom!"

Peep the Demonic Tots at

or see the full retro catalog at

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trend: Citizen Journalism: People Paparazzi

More harvesting of the power of us all...

The Sunday Times Scotland (,,2090-2012393,00.html) has an interview of Kyle MacRae, the founder of Scoopt (, the first agency to broker cameraphone pictures for amateur paparazzi and citizen reporters. Six months since it's launch, Scoopt has 5,500 members in 86 countries.

AKI COMMENT: I understand from other blog links that not too many photos have been actually sold by Scoopt into mainstream press. Which implies that the "official news" brokers ain't going down without a fight (sleeping on the obvious great opportunity in front of them is clearly on the newsdesk docket)! And they likely have no intention to buy from the man on the street unless they absolutely have to - or when they get blindsided and forced to wake up and make a policy for this kind of reporting.

But assume they'll catch on once they realise the potential cost savings of a nationwide freelance network that wouldn't need to get paid until they actually scored a hot scoop. And assume they'll all catch on as blogs continue to showcase the photo scoops and get mass eyeballs without the assistance of the so-called "official news". And then watch the "official news" slowly atrophy to irrelevance and become branded simply as a broadcast outlet for the government and corporate p/r machines...or did that part already happen? I mean, honestly, which would u rather see? - A)The live blog reports and photos from actual participants in a natural disaster? or B)The "official news" caster broadcasting from a nearby hotel balcony "reporting" on the painfully obvious? It would seem that the imperitive of "official news" brands needs to be fast-tracking a solution to aggregate Citizen Journalism into one branded destination. Because the first news brand (mainstream or otherwise) to emerge as owner and "go to" source to sell/present your breaking stories/footage will soon become the only "go to" brand in the consumer's mind for such content (hmmn, sorta like a repeat of what CNN did to the old "official news" guard in the 80's with 24 hour tv news, and watch them sleep now like the giants they slayed before them). Who will emerge as this "go to" aggregator/manager that citizens instinctively submit their hot scoops to? It ain't likely to be CNN or MSNBC, cuz they clearly are disinterested in what real people have to give them (insert condescending pat on the head to us citizen eyewitnesses "leave it to us professionals, kiddo"). And watch this as-yet-undetermined upstart brand actually obtain and break the biggest stories of the year/century, while Anchorman stands around waiting for the official press release to come in. There will be a defining event that will break this tension wide open, and someone will emerge as the winner.

other article excerpts (and more points worth considering as we enter this Age of Citizen Journalism):

>...For all the animosity between celebrities and paparazzi, professional photographers know the rules, where the legal and ethical boundaries lie — even if they sometimes choose to overstep them. The amateurs of Scoopt don’t.

>True, the site offers guidelines and has some safety checks built in: all contributors must be over 18; Scoopt will not accept any pictures of children; nor will it take pictures obtained through what MacRae calls an overt breach of privacy (such as breaking into somebody’s house).

>But it seems almost inevitable that amateurs will overstep the mark. “They won’t think twice about sticking a camera in somebody’s face,” says MacRae. “Is that something I feel happy about? No. But it’s not something we encourage either. "

And more significant, perhaps, are the imitators — check other sites such as The Snitcher Desk (, and Spy Media ( and Cell Journalist ( Last week Splash, one of the biggest picture agencies in America, announced that it too was starting a service for members of the public who wished to “snap, send and sell”. Take a look at Shutterstock, too (

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Execution: Real Beauty that looks like models

Dove's campaign "por la belleza real" in Argentina. Don't let this spark the whole young girls' unrealistic/overly-critical view of themselves (and what's beautiful) debate because 1. These are only slightly above average women in Buenos Aires (don't hate the agency, hate the game) and 2. Just to make sure that Dove didn't second-guess how well they're reaching their target, I picked up the whole Verano line at the closest retailer. Plus, real beauty is on the inside and after some in-depth research (on-street interviews with local construction workers), I found that each of ladies pictured has a phenomenal personality. Guy, you couldn't smooth talk your way onto this shoot?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Execution: Real photography that looks like models

From bldblog really cool photographic technique called "tilt shifting" that makes real aerial photos look like models.

This is strangely mesmerising, don't know why.

Trend: The Boy Crisis part II

Earlier, Aki posted on "The Boy Crisis" reported in the latest Newsweek. As this is America, you can't have a crisis without involving lawyers. A Massachussetts high-schooler is suing his school for its "girl-friendly teaching styles." Watch the story on CNN.

Trend: Teen Shopping

Teens view search on a par with magazines when researching fashion buys

Among teens, search is on equal footing with magazines for discovering new fashion brands, though most buy offline because they don't own credit cards, writes InternetRetailer, citing a Yahoo survey. Half of teens age 15-19 who had shopped for apparel at least once in the previous three months reported using search - more than TV ads and fashion websites - to find clothing, accessories, shoes and jewelry.

Some 68 percent reported using the web to find information on fashion trends and as a way to learn about unfamiliar labels. Half said they planned to use search the next time they sought information on clothes or accessories; 61 percent said they used Yahoo search to access fashion information online.


>Overall, 50% reported using search to find clothing, accessories, shoes and jewelry, saying they turn to search more than television ads and fashion web sites when researching such products.

>In view of the findings, search marketing campaigns and web sites targeting teens with fashion news and merchandise should be built for information as opposed to streamlining the actual purchase process, recommends Diane Rinaldo, director of the retail category for Yahoo Search Marketing.

Get the full article here:

Economy: Rich Getting Richer While The Poor... same old story

So I recently saw some hard stats on what people have been saying for a while: real income after accounting for inflation has declined significantly since the 1970's. Add to that education debts, reduced employer pension provisions etc, and the picture for 20 and 30 something workers in the US looks pretty crappy... but hey, if you even went to college you're doing pretty well in the scheme of things : the bottom twenty percent of families are still mostly making net incomes of between 10 and 20 thousand dollars a year (depending on which state they are in).

And of course the gap between the top 5% and that bottom 20% is ever increasing...

Full article:

By the early 2000s, the average income of the top 20 percent of families in 32 states was at least 6.4 times higher than that of low-income families. That's a big change since the early 1980s, when no state had a "top to bottom" ratio exceeding 6.4. When the authors looked at the incomes of the top 5 percent of households in 11 large states, they found sharp disparities.

The top 5 percent of families saw their incomes rise as much as 132 percent between 1980 and 2003. The bottom 20 percent of families, meanwhile, saw their incomes rise by no more than 24 percent. In dollars and cents, average incomes of those in the top 5 percent rose between $80,400 to over $153,000. Increases for the bottom 20 percent in those 11 states, meanwhile, didn't exceed $4,000. Since the early 1980s, the gap between high-income and middle-income households also rose.

The report noted that the top 20 percent of households had incomes more than 2.3 times greater than that of middle-income households in 36 states by the early 2000s. Again, that's a huge difference compared with the early '80s, when that was the case in only one state.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Trend: The Boy Crisis

The Trouble With Boys
They're kinetic, maddening and failing at school. Now educators are trying new ways to help them succeed.

some article excerpts:
>This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, "has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy."

>In elementary-school classrooms—where teachers increasingly put an emphasis on language and a premium on sitting quietly and speaking in turn—the mismatch between boys and school can become painfully obvious. "Girl behavior becomes the gold standard," says "Raising Cain" coauthor Thompson. "Boys are treated like defective girls."

>One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school rests on a single question: does he have a man in his life to look up to? Too often, the answer is no. High rates of divorce and single motherhood have created a generation of fatherless boys. In every kind of neighborhood, rich or poor, an increasing number of boys—now a startling 40 percent—are being raised without their biological dads.

>In the past, boys had many opportunities to learn from older men. They might have been paired with a tutor, apprenticed to a master or put to work in the family store. High schools offered boys a rich array of roles in which to exercise leadership skills—class officer, yearbook editor or a place on the debate team. These days, with the exception of sports, more girls than boys are involved in those activities

via Newsweek

Get more at this link:

Trend: BraceFace

Braces Become Teen Fashion Fad in Thailand; Officials Seek to Ban Pseudo Dental Gear

BANGKOK, Thailand Jan 26, 2006 — Health authorities are clamping down on a Thai teen fashion fad of wearing fake orthodontic braces.

Officials said Thursday they plan to target those who sell and make the pseudo dental gear with steep fines and prison time.

Girls flashing multicolored metallic grins are regularly featured in teen magazines as braces have become more common in Thailand, transforming the dental gear into a fashion statement.

Rather than getting fitted for the real and expensive option, teens have been buying do-it-yourself kits in stores and selecting colored rubber bands to match their outfits or moods.

Rasamee Vistaveth, secretary-general of the Consumer Protection Board, said the agency was planning to sign an order Thursday punishing sellers of fake braces with six months in prison or a $1,300 fine.

Importers and producers could face up to one year behind bars and a $2,600 fine.

via Associated Press

Trend: Social Networking: 43 Things

43 Things
One way to get to know people...

per Wikipedia: is a social networking site that is built on the principles of tagging, rather than creating explicit interpersonal links (as seen in Friendster and Orkut). Users create accounts and then list a number of goals or hopes; these goals are parsed by a lexer and connected to other people's goals that are constructed with similar words or ideas.

Advertisement: Vice paraphenalia

Today we had a visit with the nice guys at Vice. I think they're a great bunch not only because they brought us a bunch of really cool presents.

They also gave us 3 copies of this Puma Fixed Gear mini-mag which they made us absolutely, positively promise that we wouldn't put up online for sale.

They're selling on ebay for more than $30 cash money!


As if we'd even think of it

If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it in written form.

In the world of openness and fearlessness and consumers defining brands, here's an interesting exchange between a couple viral websites.

Witness the beef between ebaumsworld and ytmnd (you the man now dog). The chief at ytmnd didn't make his bones by lying down at threats from the powers that be, and had the balls to publish this email (in dramatic reading no less) on his website.

It's principle that the ytmnd disciples took it upon themselves to sabotage ebaumsworld going to the corporate HQ and also hacking onto ebaums site, having ebaums content link to ytmnd. Don't piss off the hackers.

The reason for the vigilantism: ebaums allegedly stole property created of ytmnd, posting it on ebaums:
See the creator's humorous death march:

btw, BK has figured out how to do a brand appropriate submission on ytmnd, with the King getting to oil up Brooke Burke. Good viral execution. Life could be worse.

Campaign: What rhymes with mones, oh yeah, tones...Pherotones

I don't want to get off on a rant here...

In the latest installment of advertainment, I can't hate on Pherotones. Getting some heat for being covert and less than completely transparent about what it is they're promoting, this McKinney created microsite is kinda funny. I'm waiting to see who's behind door number 3...cell phone provider, manufacturer, ring tone website??? Just waiting for the order now page to update with "exclusive from jamster..."

Client in hiding is probably waiting for climax of curiosity before making it's Will Hunting unveiling.

Replete with Wikipedia listing (since been deleted), Boing Boing interview, blog, google word search, and a pretty legit, if low budget, looking website, I give the effort two thumbs up. I say blame Boing Boing, if anyone, for allowing the "editorial" interview with the doctor, but it's a blog, so who cares? If McKinney can get away with it, more power to 'em.

This stuff makes me all warm and fuzzy. The idea isn't too bad either. Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong...

Culture: Damn Neopia!

Neopets, neopets, neopets. I had heard so much about these virtual creatures, I finally drew the straw and signed myself up for a study in "immersive advertising." I wanted to know what is capturing the world's young minds and imaginations (its in 10 languages), and not to mention marketing dollars (McDonald's shop, Firefly Zone, etc).

I logged-in a couple weeks ago but up until yesterday hadn't had time to tend to my responsibility, a young zen-like nimmo named BonkerBuster. I signed-in and realized my pet's hunger status was "dying" and he was suffering from boredom. In a state of panic, I played games until I had enough NP to stuff him with the unnutrious food and spoil him with the crappy toys they sell in Neopia. But it wasn't until I realized he was of average intelligence that I went through the roof. God forbid I have a dull, dumb neopet and was up until 2:30a buying him books.

But what was so interesting to me was the complexity of the site - putting a down payment on to reserve your plot of land for a house, putting your money in the bank to gain interest, getting a job (which seems to be based on some kind of caste system), a safety security box, among other things. Aside from the job part, I realized that I'm far more advanced in Neopia than real life...And I can't help but think of Chuck Klosterman's portrayal of SimChuck and his experiences with Sim People in Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs. What's with virtual worlds?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Non-Traditional: Lame Jeep Publicity Stunt (does nothing for the brand)

Back in 1992 someone had the bright idea for a publicity stunt: have a classic Jeep crashing through a window at the Detroit Auto show. This year they returned to the idea and tried to do one better. Have the Jeep crash OUT of the show. An SUV of a different breed might have been able to pull it off, like a Hummer. Having the lumbering frame of this thuggish brute of an vehicle making mincemeat of a window seems quite congruent. But a Jeep? It's more at home next to a campfire or rumbling up a hill to reach a scenic mountain visa. Destoying a window seems off brand character. Take a look at the video. It feels painfully contrived, a slow build towards a climax that seems, well limp.

Industry: Death of the Ad Agency: Media Model 2.0

EBay pitches an open market for media buying

For some marketers, the invention of a transparent system of buying and reselling TV and radio airtime is the Holy Grail of the advertising business; even Enron once tried to pitch the ad industry on the creation of a media market modeled on its energy trading business. Online auction house eBay is trying an auction model, and reportedly made a pitch yesterday to leading national advertisers and trade association representatives.

via MediaPost Communications

get the link here:

Trend: Got Gaze?

Damn, I thought "very-fine" only came in a bottle! ... Do you have a map cause I keep getting lost in your eyes? ... Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by you again?

For all you single people out there looking to cut the meaningless small talk and cheesy one-liners, try joining an eye gazing party. Founder and New York native, Michael Ellsberg, combined his love for bringing interesting people together and his knowledge of the art of eye contact. The parties resemble that of a speed-dating party. Couples spend three minutes staring into each other's eyes and when the three minutes are up, they move on to the next eye gazer. There is one catch - no talking allowed.

Culture: Pass the mic!

Reginald Smith, a MIT grad student, mapped the collaborations of the top 55 rappers in the nation - "the small world of the rap community made large."

I came across this the other day while I was flipping through the Feb/Mar 2006 issue of Seed Magazine. My initial reaction was disbelief that some of the best and the brightest math minds of the country are spending time tracing the lines of loyalty and respect through the rap/hip-hop community signified by the collaborative effort. But with a closer inspection, it's incredible to realize the myriad of cross-overs there are in a sphere where the entourage rules. And even more interesting is to see who makes up those central nodes, and who is the true hub of the hip-hop universe. Why play "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" when you can play "Two Degrees of Fat Joe"?

Trend: Citizen Journalism:BBC Perspectives

A wonderful 22 minute video from the BBC looking at how user-generated content and mobile phone footage on stories like the London bombings has changed the way broadcasters report the news. The BBC has been looking back at how user generated content has become part of everyday news throughout 2005. Input from news editors from around the world, including Dan Gilmore. [via and]

Windows Media Player Version

Real Player Version

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Marketing: Apple & Starbucks Sitting in a Tree

File this one under 'what took them so long', but Starbucks and Apple seem soon to be hooking up. Yes, instead of selling (or maybe as well as selling) crap-o-matic CDs, you'll also soon be able to plug your iPod in to download as much Bebel Gilberto as you can stand whilst ordering your large (sorry, grande) chai vanilla mocha latte americano. Quite how you then get the tracks off your iPod into iTunes at home is unclear, assuming you don't already know how to do it illegally.

Insight: Groups in Rio are better than ones in dallas...go figure

Just an update on our travelling man Seth.... this pic says it all about the hardships of doing groups in south america.

Measurement: Google-tracking the blog

Our first measurement shows 77 hits on Google, 2 weeks from going up.

Continuous tracking starts now, with a dip in every week (if I can remember)

Culture: Global Ladette-ism

The Guardian reports that British girls are the most violent in the world. They blame the rise of the 'lad' culture in the UK for this, with girls "imitating macho behaviour."

Perhaps the Maxim launch will lead to this in India.


Culture: Global Lad-dom...

When Tom Friedman bangs on for 400 pages about how flat the world's getting, the launch of Maxim magazine in hitherto conservative India probably wasn't what he had in mind...

Containing such delights as "100 things you never knew about women", a "how to" guide on professional begging, and a must-see article on the police inspector in Uttar Pradesh Panda, who fervently believes that he is the incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Radha, it's the usual formula... To 20-something males, sex sells, wherever you are in the world...

But just because there's a market for it, should adaption be so easy? I can't help but feel the '100 things' articles probably already run in the UK and the US. And notice the wholesale translocation of a Trevor Beattie UK Wonderbra ad line. Couldn't Maxim have aimed a little higher than a testosteronic lowest common denominator?

I'm sorry, I forgot, this is Maxim we're talking about... Cue a nightmare vision of the future where young (ish) males from Ulan Bator to Uganda vegetate glazed-eyed to identically articled copies of Maxim differentiated only by the ethnicity of their cover 'starlet'. With apologies to Orwell, the boot's not quite stamping on a human face, but it probably is crushing a few brain cells...

Trend: User-Created Content Update

This Week In User Co-Creation:

Profile of NECN via RocketBoom
Another Viewer-Created News Channel, like Current, this one with a LOCAL PERSPECTIVE (BOSTON/NEW ENGLAND). Note: the recent acquisition by Boston Globe (which ladders up to NY Times Company -interesting to see how NYT incorporates this experiemental free creation into the main papers)


SMITH Magazine
The hyperbolically-titled "bloggers revolution" has changed publishing. Virtually free to publish, the internet phenomenon has created digital publishing, a medium that is simultaneously wholly democratic yet often schizophrenic. Now there's a mag that's unabashedly harnessing the infinite pool of online writing talent into one monthly publication.

SMITH ( Magazine, launched earlier this month, seems to operate on the age-old adage that "everyone has a story to tell." While once the storyteller had to wait for the reporter to come a-knocking, now he or she can be the interviewer and interviewee.
Features, anecdotes, free-form stories, SMITH Magazine sits on the pulse of today's cultural narrative. Presently a "webzine," its publishers promise to make the leap to print soon; catapulting from the precarious ether of the "blogosphere," and out into the so-called "respectable" realm of printed publishing.
As Scoop Nisker always says: "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own."
SMITH Magazine: Read this month's copy, write next month's issue.



Beastie Boys' Documentary "Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That"
via NY Times

excerpt: As the Beastie Boys set out to commemorate a concert at Madison Square Garden, the hip-hop group had a different idea. Why not smash the model? They decided to lend hand-held video cameras to 50 fans, told them to shoot at will, and then presented the end result in movie theaters in all its primitive, kaleidoscopic glory."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Trend: Mortality-based planning

Check this out.
It's what actuaries have known all along - that we're all going to die, we might as well embrace the fact. When we find out when that's likely to happen, we can make better choices about our life because we can plan accordingly, knowing how long we've got left to live.

This link is a short questionnaire which predicts what that date might be, and taking into account current behaviors and family health history - even HOW it might happen. Bit of a macabre topic admittedly, but curiousity got the better of me. Of course, if you've ever seen the film "The Ring" you might be left a little uneasy by taking this test. What if seeing the date of your predicted demise imprinted itself on your sub-conscious, and when the date rolls around (hopefully longer than a week) the programming is triggered and you expire. Nah. No chance of that.

Case Study: Tang: Dispensing Brand Status One Scoop At a Time

An amazing account of Tang in China and how premium pricing and the right messaging positioned it as a marker of status. What packaged goods in the US would become a boxed set befit for a hostess gift, or used to woo a prospective bride as a display of consumptive wealth?
It also transformed the perception of taste into something whose desirability even surpassed the original "It was the first time I had drunk Tang, and the taste was not like real oranges but stronger, as if it were made of the essence of all the oranges I had ever eaten" the writer intones. Quite an achievement.

Brand Management: Man run down after yelling at speeding driver (in a BMW) in OC parking lot

Royston, now a loan officer, and two friends walked out of a restaurant in a busy outdoor mall around 11:30 p.m. Thursday when they saw a silver or light blue BMW sedan with two or three young men inside speed by and blow through a stop sign, Amormino said. The victim yelled at the driver to slow down, he said.

The driver sped erratically through the parking lot, collided with a parked Mercedes Benz, then turned around and sped toward Royston and his friends, Amormino said. Royston again yelled at the driver to slow down, but the motorist ran him down as he walked toward his friend's Ford F-150 pickup truck, he said.

"It was an intentional act," Amormino said.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Culture: Family Values in Middle America

OK, enough already with the google videos. But as some of you know this is one of my favourites.

What scene would you script as the first to promote the "Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot"? (sponsored by Cousino's Firearms no less)

A dad showing his young kid how to fire a ground-mounted military machine gun is surely the most obvious, no??

Again I think preaching to the hardcore while making everyone else shake their heads in uttter disbelief...

Culture: User-Created Content (that bites you in the ass)

Re the posts about the powers/dangers of co-creation: The videos below on Google are a neat illustration of brand zealots who do as much harm as good for a brand…

It’s obviously become the cool thing for M car owners to go out onto a local road and film their mates pushing the car as hard as possible, regardless of who else is on the road.

As the soundtrack to the first shows, to the core buyer for M cars it’s the ultimate car-porn, but to most people it probably just confirms their worst fears that bimmer owners are complete dicks.

Perhaps it’s just another lesson from our more empowered age to marketers that in they never have “owned” their brands, nor controlled them, and they never will. Consumers are now just more able to demonstrate that than ever before.

Orgasms from almost taking out two other cars on the road:

Just plain nuts: (check out the last 20seconds):

Culture: Guantanamo trip for your choice of T shirt?

Check this out - danish clothing brand.
They say that because they send profits to 'terrorist' organisations (eg FARC) that buying from them means risking Jack Bauer kicking in your door and slinging your ass in a CIA jail... Well they don't quite say it like that but that's the gist.

To quote from their homepage:

Legal Notice

To be a Fighters+Lovers costumer you must be 18 years or older. When you buy Fighters+Lovers products you might experience legal problems because of US or EU "antiterrorist" legislation, outlawing financial support to organizations labeled as "terrorists", including the PFLP and the FARC. But anyway, when was the last time you listened to someone who told you what you couldn't wear?

Can't decide whether the CIA et al would genuinely give two shits about this or if it's just an example of political and/or risk marketing by Danish firm "Fighters and lovers". Reminds me a bit of something like Death Cigarettes, with some politics mixed in for good measure.

The fact that their slogan seems to be "Streetwear for the generation that dares." kind of spoils the whole effort if you ask me.

Can certainly imagine lots of people loving it as much as those who are shocked. I really hope Bill O'Reilly covers it, just to see him at his sad apoplectic best.

Industry: The next Clear Channel

Someone's already selling rooftop ad space on eBay. Only 3 bids so far, up to $105.

I see an opening for a ratings company, anyone up for it?

Poll: What's there to say about this?

The Franz Ferdinand edition Walkman...

Assignment Brief: Blog Battle

Assignment Brief: Increase Mass Awareness + Blog Affinity...

The gauntlet was thrown to us last night. And we are barely live one week... No matter, to inspire us to fight, I quote from that masterpiece of cinema Bring It On and say: "Oh, it's already been broughten!"

Strike a blow for liberty and Vote Fallon Trendpoint by 10Feb at

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Measurement: Google Index

Google indexed our blog on the 10th, 1 day after it was created. That's either really fast or really slow as Google owns Blogger.

According to Blogshares we were #455 of about 1000 new blogs for January 10. At that same rate there will be 3.5 million new blogs generated this year. I wonder what the attrition rate for blogs is?

I suspect blogging is seasonal like exercise programs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Commentary: Stupid brand partnerships.

I wonder who at Ferrari thought this was a good idea? It reminds me of the Nike mp3 players which were made by Philips. No disrespect to either Philips or Oregon Scientific but these aren't brands that ought to go together. Why is it that some brand managers only think about "getting into a space" rather than "owning a space" through bringing something different?

Done right a Ferrari (or Nike) mp3 player ought to have sent shivers up Steve's spine. I don't think he'll lose too much sleep over this one.

Book Review: Brand Hijack by Alex Wipperfirth

Brand Hijack
Marketing Without Marketing
by Alex Wipperfirth

Review Rating Scale: "Yawn." "Eh." "Hmmn." "Wow."

So far, this seems to be the only book detailing the fast-evolving phenomenon of User/Brand Co-Creation (what this author terms a "Brand Hijack"). While it sorta offers some techniques and methodologies for fueling co-creation, it mostly PROVIDES CASE STUDIES usable for our decks and exploration on the subject. From Red Bull, Doc Marten's, iPod, to Napster, to Howard Dean campaign to Converse and Pabst Blue Ribbon, you can gleen some usable references for what has been done right/wrong in the marketplace to help develop your own theories. I recommend this book because I (and Ferch) have been beating this Co-Creation drum alot recently, and there seems to be little official reference to what to do with it. And I feel this is more than a clever trend to track, but a true workable brand/business platform model for brands looking to nurture consumer passion by fueling consumer interaction with their brand. All internet-centered brands must attend to the demand for consumer co-creation. Yet, even non-internet brands should look to this platform as a unique positioning differentiator, too, as well as a route to defining the role of communications. This book cautions that this platform is not for all brands, and all needs. Agreed. Yet, Consumer Co-Creation will be big, and increasingly necessary, and it needs someone to write the book on how to manage it. Hmnn, write the book...

Book Review: The Trendmaster's Guide by Robyn Waters

The Trendmaster's Guide
Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next
by Robyn Waters (Former VP of Trend, Design, and Product Development at Target)

Review Rating Scale: "Yawn." "Eh." "Hmmn." "Wow."
Yeah, I knew better, but I got suckered by her "Former VP of Trends at Target" qualifier and figured maybe she got some "secrets". Her cheerleader-style writing is rather shallow and annoying, revealing secrets like "high enthusiasm can win a client presentation". Whoa. Obviously she wants you to hire her to consult, so this book is little more than her sales tool to jazz up clients, with pep-talks and unnecessary mysticism around the idea of trending. Her hook point made at the outset asserts a difference between "coolhunting" and what she calls "trendmastering". One is simply random novelties in a void - cool shit you see on the street corner. Whereas another is plotting these implication points into a bigger picture. Ok. She had me at hello, there. But unfortunately, the rest of the book only offers superficial techniques for how to pay keener attention when shopping for trends at stores, and anecdotal tales of her past presentations and victories in the trenches. Nothing whatsoever about translating economic drivers, social shifts, psychology, demographic shifts...all that hard, boring science stuff seems to not be any part of what she calls trendmastering afterall. Whatever.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Media: Top down advertising

Further to Adrian's post below, there are a couple of other examples. Near where I grew up in South London lies Brockwell Park Lido (outdoors swimming pool - always a silly idea in the UK). Still, it's on the main flightpath in to Heathrow. Cue Evian buying the bottom of it, and painting a logo you truthfully can't read from poolside. But if you're staring out of a plane window, it's actually fairly effective...

Here's what it looks like on Google maps. Upside down, but satellites don't follow flightpaths, I guess...

Media: Roof Wanted for Google Maps Ad

"Ohmygod. Here's a great way to make some extra cash. Call Target immediately and tell them you have a rooftop just waiting to be painted—for just a measly $10,000 or so. You see, it looks like advertisers have realized that with Google's online satellite pics on Google Maps, there is a completely untapped space for more eyes to see their logos. And though this (probably fake) pic is of a Target store, why not lease out your own rooftop? Or even a bald head. It does give me a creepy feeling to think that this is the next step in our over-advertised world, but only until I start thinking of all the cash that's gonna be rolling in once I join the Google AdRooftop network. Google Maps prompts advertising on roofs [The Inquirer] Comment on this post "

This is actually pretty genius, I wish I'd thought of it

Friday, January 13, 2006


Lost In Translations collects many of those secret-secret American celebs starring in wacky Japanese commercials. Well organised by celebrity with descriptors of product and "concept". The Simpsons, Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Lucy Liu and Charlize Theron (with a randy puppet) are particular must sees.

Get em at:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Industry: Ad Agency Deathwatch 02

Indy Racing Gets Kiss of Approval

NEW YORK -- The Indy Racing League (IRL) said today it has signed Simmons Abramson Marketing, led by KISS frontman Gene Simmons, to create a market campaign for the 2006 season. Financial terms were not revealed.

The effort, “I Am Indy,” will include such featured IRL drivers as Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Buddy Rice. The campaign will include TV, radio, print and Internet. The IRL's IndyCar Series begins March 26 and includes the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28.

“Indy cars are rockets on the ground. These drivers are modern knights in shining armor, risking their lives at close to 225 mph,” Simmons said in a statement. “'I Am Indy' speaks to the independent spirit in all of us.” Simmons Abramson Marketing is based in Hollywood, Calif.

source: Brandweek

AKI COMMENT: KISS has an ad agency?!? And they're winning clients?!? WTF?!? What hope do we agencies have when clients can get KISS to present their next quarter's strategic plan? I propose we have a meeting soon to fuel some razzle dazzle and theater into our presentations!

Industry: Ad Agency Deathwatch Continues

TV Ads Made Quick and Cheap on the Net

A Los Angeles-based start-up launched a service Wednesday that allows companies to create television ad campaigns over the Internet for as little as $500 and as quickly as within one week. Spot Runner lets advertisers select a generic commercial from its library, personalize the ads and target customers by demographics, networks and neighborhoods.

Advertisers can buy air time on major networks, including local broadcast and cable channels like CNN and ESPN. The company was formed by Nick Grouf and David Waxman who previously founded Firefly Network and PeoplePC.

Source: CNet News
Read more at:

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Commentary: Floating Logos Project

Matt Silber's Floating Logos is inspired by signs perched high atop very tall poles in order for people to view them from a long distance away. Often these poles are so tall that the signs on top of them loom over us, ominously broadcasting their message. The digital elimination of the poles not only illustrates this effect further but also serves to disconnect the signs from the ground and reality. Often the ground is purposefully left
out of these images in order to emphasize the disconnect, but hints of terra firma are included in the form of trees, wires, light poles, buildings and other land-based objects.

As a device to point out, or draw attention to, this common phenomenon in our landscape, the removal of the poles also adds some conceptual layers. As floating sculptures in the sky, the images could allude to religion, spirituality, the supernatural, or even the popular science fiction concept of superior extraterrestrials. The mysteriousness of these concepts furthers the idea that these signs represent something that is just beyond our control and understanding yet affects us in significant and important ways.

see more images here:

Funny how simply removing the poles of megabrand signage introduces a bit of surreality, humor and religious allusion. Our mundane branded landscape becomes hauntingly creepy thru this lens effect.