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.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Microsoft has debuted a new touchscreen computer—a coffee table "surface" that will permit its user to actually manipulate the information hands-on - no keyboard, no mouse.
Go inside its top-secret development with PopularMechanics.com.
Oh, expect to see it at retail and hotels and casinos THIS YEAR.
Get more at http://www.microsoft.com/surface
Friday, May 25, 2007
We talk about it all the time when we stop for hallway conversation. Post random comments on the blog. Send emails with a "here's an article on what we already know" tone of voice....
So, on that note, the WSJ reports on the "rise" of digital advertising and it's importance for the future. While this piece doesn't get into much new info (to us at least), perhaps an in-depth article in a traditional, respected publication (particularly to the people who need convincing that this is the real shit) will help further spread the word on how critical a shift it is. In fact, the Journal projects that, by 2011, the digital adspace will be closing in on a $40 billion industry.
Though it's good to see a traditional business paper talking on new media, honestly I would argue (and I think most of you would agree) the "brave new world" of advertising is not banner ads, paid search, etc but how companies are going to capitalize on social media to reach their target.
For example, I'm a big car fan. I'm often on car sites, building and comparing models, etc etc. So let's say Nissan were to track my internet activity, and consequently splash a banner ad on Facebook because I was poking around on the Nissan website moments before, curious about a new model...wouldn't really mean shit to me.
But, if they found a way to integrate themselves into the 15, 20 minutes or more I spend on the site (groups I'm in, people I'm friends with) then they may grab my attention. Hell, do a search for "Nissan" groups on FB and you get +500 results. So why not a Nissan sponsored group-- host events, membership discounts, factory tours, visits to HQ-- capitalize on the brand evangelists! Just one example, and I'm sure there are many more.
I'll be waiting for part 2 in this series, when they hopefully catch up to where we're at in the "brave new world" of advertising...
Posted by avin at 5/25/2007 01:12:00 AM
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Muhammad Saleem at Pronet details a fresh viral from Warner Bros.
First, the company made a website for The Dark Knight, and put nothing on the page but a graphic.
Because people have been anticipating the movie so much, just the fact that they had put a site up for it got people excited. But when you click the image on the site, you are redirected to another site
, with the following graphic and that's all.
After that, yet another site pops up, also (mockingly) in support of Harvey Dent and apparently defaced by the Joker.
However, this time there's a catch. User's can interact with the site, and each user, by entering an email address and a verification code, can receive an email which gives the user (X,Y) coordinates that when entered into a link (also included in the email) will remove one pixel from the defaced poster to reveal an image.
But since participation is limited to one user and one pixel removal per email address, the average user will only be able to participate once. And since every ardent fan is desperate to see what lies beneath, it is in the best interest of every fan to spread the word as much as possible and to get the process going faster and faster so that we can all see what lies beneath. At this point the users undoubtedly take matters into their own hands, start spreading the word and try to get other users to participate and remove pixels.
As you can see, the campaign has successfully become viral and the Warner advertising machine rejoices. Not only have the various sites been submitted to socially driven communities, but there have been incoming links from a multitude of film sites and blogs alike. Within a matter of hours, we have the following reconstruction of the final image:
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
A new Gallup poll reveals that, despite the fact Americans are taking on more and more debt as a way to fuel consumption (and in theory are comfortable with the idea of debt), about 23% are "somewhat or very uncomfortable" in terms of their level of debt.
While 23% may not be as "significant" as Gallup claims (keep in mind, 77% of respondents said they are "very" or "somewhat" comfortable with their debt level), to me the more important piece comes after, in that 49% of respondents are uncomfortable with making a major purchase (in turn adding to their debt) in the next 3 months.
Perhaps we're seeing a turning point- people finally getting fed up with the ever growing mountain of debt weighing them down. Take this with things like the growing proliferation of debit cards- particularly young people, "with 60% of people 18-25 reporting they use the cards for purchases for anything from digital content and vending machines to parking and newspapers" according to MSN- and it does seem that the willingness to incur debt may be retreating.
Though, its a long battle back from the situation we young'ns are in. Yikes.
Also interesting to note that 4 of the 10 most recent Gallup poles are focused on debt, highlighting again how top of mind this issue is for people.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"Why shouldn't cows and pigs feel sunlight on their backs, grass under their feet?...Yes, they'll be killed for food--but until then, they should have a nice stay on Earth."
Sounds a little ridiculous, but the premise behind Wolfgang Puck's new philosophy (and business practices) will help him continue to ride the tide of popularity. 25 years ago, he opened Spago, and the empire was borne. Today, his products feed over 10 million people a year. His company's growth is easily attributed to consistent innovation and the ability to respond to what people want (like the genius introduction of grocery store frozen pizzas).
Today's adaptations include promises to use organic ingredients and fish and game that were raised under humane conditions. Not sure if it'll be as rosy as his "grass beneath their feet" ideal, but chickens will be raised cage-free. He also plans to change packaging from plastic to recycled paper.
Another important detail: he's not planning to raise prices.
And good for him. It's not a revolutionary idea (Chipotle), but the equity he gains in brand affinity and positive perceptions will certainly offset the costs associated with this adaptation.
Monday, May 21, 2007
More stats from USA Today on the growing disparities between the rich and poor. Biggest piece of news: more than class as a deciding factor, age is growing as strong determinant for one's wealth.
--Since 1989, nearly all of the country's wealth has been accumulated by people over the age of 55
--Households headed by people 35-55 have actually lost wealth over the past 20 years due to inflation.
Together, these two facts highlight a strange reality: old people are wealthier than ever, but have not put away enough money to properly survive their (ever lengthening) lives. Young people are not making enough to keep up with inflation, yet they are paying into a system for which they will never reap the benefits.
Compiling this problem is the raised expectation for education--undergrad degree as greens fees--and the debt that comes along with it. Added burden is the pressure to invest early and consistently (cannot tell you how many terror-inducing retirement 101 seminars I've attended) in order to just survive in retirement.
Friday, May 18, 2007
I now subscribe to 226 RSS Feeds (I have to segment my reading by topic groups each day to get thru 'em by the end of the week-which still puts me behind on 80% of my info). Now with old school email (work and personal), Blackberry, a few social networks (Plannersphere, LinkdIn, Facebook), blogging, micro-blogging (Twitter, Tumblr, Meshly), instant messaging, TV/DVR, morning magazines in the bathroom, Second Life, face-to-face meetings and even the impromptu lo-fi human conversation at the watercooler, I have a damn pressing need for aggregators of my aggregators. The future is info management genies!
Uberblogger Robert Scoble is truly one-of-a-kind. For those who don’t know, he became famous as a technical evangelist at Microsoft and quickly became their most outspoken and influential blogger. He now interviews people like Bill Gates, and the worldwide media reports on his every move. One of his most mindboggling skills is information management. He currently reads 622 RSS feeds a day — it used to be 1,400 feeds a day!
He expains his process:
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Microsoft's Digital Advertising Solutions department, with its ad agency Openhere, is on a mission to talk about itself differently. They set up a blog (bringtheloveback.com) to update progress on their big project: shooting a movie. The intent is to distribute this film to advertisers to force a reevaluation of how they communicate with their audiences (and imply the awesome benefits of working with the department, of course).
The movie's elevator pitch:
"She is a consumer.
He is an advertiser.
All she wants is genuine affection.
All she gets is loyalty reduction.
The Break-Up. A story of love gone wrong.
I've got mixed feelings about the whole thing. In honesty, Mac vs PC ads have tainted me, and Microsoft is now personified as a button-up sweater, taped glasses nerd in my mind. So I have a hard time believing it's not just a ploy. They have no problem planting the seed of real danger and risk, on the blog, though,
"A quite risky project if you know that the commercial explicitly challenges the advertisers - our clients - to question themselves and the way they communicate with their target groups. In this blog, I will keep you posted about the making of the campaign. I have also given the agency access to this blog, so that they can vent their ideas as well. As should be in this format, there is only one rule: “their are no rules!”
Also, by the end of the month, I’ll be able to tell you whether I still work as a Marketing Manager at Microsoft, or whether this project finally turned itself against me ;-) "
On the flip side, I am all about stirring the pot at the right time, so I am curious to see what the outcome is. Like when someone at the Mothership stumbles upon the blog that is written by a Microsoft employee and "includes information about Microsoft, the information available on this blog is not representative of Microsoft’s views or opinions."
But they pulled off the end goal, here's the movie below. (which started out as a "commercial" but was recategorized as "movie" later)
PSFK Conference London offers a morning of trends and inspiration and an afternoon of new marketing ideas. Speakers and panelists include Russell Davies, George Parker, Hugh MacLeod, Regine Debatty, Iain Tait and Faris Yakob.
Details at http://psfklondon.eventbrite.com
Posted by AKI SYSTEMS 2600 at 5/17/2007 09:06:00 AM
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Influx Insights notes that Duncan Watts, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, was recently interviewed on the topic of viral marketing for HBR’s Ideacast series.
Watts starts out by explaining how viruses work, highlighting how it’s well known to science that a small number of people start epidemics. For a virus to become an epidemic, it requires each infected person infects at least one other person. Infect less than one and a viral epidemic doesn’t occur.
In science terms, an epidemic requires a “reproduction rate” of 1.
Watts believes marketers need to now think beyond viral, to an alternative that he calls Big Seed Marketing. This demands marketers go beyond the analogy of viral, where current thinking demands that viruses start with a small number of people. His recommendation is not to replace traditional marketing with viral, but introduce viral elements to traditional programs.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Doin' good sometimes needs incentive. How 'bout points for buying stuff?
"The initial launch in the West Oak Lane and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods of Philadelphia included 2,500 households where the recycling rates were 7% and 30% respectively. Within two months, recycling rates had doubled in both neighborhoods. Additionally, participation rates in both neighborhoods rose to 90%. These improvements and statistics remain the standard for RecycleBank in that typically recycling rates rise to 40% and participation in the RecycleBank program hovers around the 90% range."
Recycle Bank website, news video, more info
Posted by AKI SYSTEMS 2600 at 5/15/2007 08:46:00 AM
"Sustainability and good design do not have to be mutually exclusive." Designers may examine how practices impact the environment here.
via Treehugger and Greennormal
Posted by AKI SYSTEMS 2600 at 5/15/2007 08:38:00 AM
Visa teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of World of Warcraft, to offer a credit card that rewards WoW players with playtime if they make a qualifying purchase: "for each $1 spent on their WOW Visas, players will get $0.01 credit toward their $14.99 monthly subscription fee".
Good news, because it bodes well that WuTang Financial still has a chance of getting launched, too!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Yahoo launched a campaign called, Be a Better Planet, which aims to find the greenest city in America and provide that city with a fleet of hybrid taxis. The promo ties in Yahoo services like Yahoo Answers, and they’re launching a site called Yahoo Green, which aims to be a hub for all things green.
*Though at this moment, I see this Green search engine as little more than a shell - the searches don't net you anything organized by "green" per se. Some of this may be a bit of bandwagoneering, while adding little unique value. This is a green promotion (cute), whereas the intuitive killer app would be a truly Green Search Engine (as the name implies!). Whattup with dat, Yahoo?
Posted by AKI SYSTEMS 2600 at 5/14/2007 09:12:00 AM
Friday, May 11, 2007
I (normally have) got 5 on it (yes, that's a Luniz shout out), but this week I've got 10 for y'all. Quite a random assortment of sites, videos, and news. But I'm giving you the extra dosage because I'm outta here today.
Yes, this was my last week at Fallon. As an unwritten rule, we really don't talk about ourselves or our agency, but I'm gonna break it since, well, what's the worst that'll happen...
As a native-New Yorker, I didn't think there was any chance I'd move to Minneapolis. Even if I'd have the chance to work in Fallon's planning department. But I visited figuring I'd at least get to see the city and the agency from where some of my favorite ads came. I knew by lunch (which was sandwiched between 10 interviews) there was no turning back; that I'd be moving if I was offered the job. Since I arrived almost two years ago I've felt supported, challenged, fulfilled, energized and inspired by this group of people—many of whom you "know" from reading their posts. To say since moving I have had no regrets is an understatement. The group I referred to as Fallon planners has become my family and helped me create a home away from home. Thank you all so much. I'll miss you.
Alright, I know, but you didn't have to read it. That's the beauty of the first amendment, free will, and a scroll bar. We all win. Here's immaturity to get you through the rest of your Friday and maintain your status as the dude or dudette who always sends funny forward's.
1. My competition Immaturity.tv
2. An Under Armor employee is excited to be on TV
3. "Flirt" Rmx by R Kelly and Broken Social Scene
4. Lawsuit for a Bad prognosis
5. Star Wars Episode 4 animated
6. An old ESPN commercial with Gheorge M. dancin'
7. USA Today's Top 25 Meltdowns
8. A letter to Gov. Arnold S. to Free Paris
9. Sweet Getaway Driver
10. Our new blog celebrity Tay Zonday singing and another song Chocolate Rain (may be better than Candy Rain - act like you don't know Soul 4 Real.)
Finally, here's where the immaturity (and some other stuff on brands, my life, pop culture/entertainment, jokes and jokes and spaghetti) will be moving. So, yes, there will be more shenanigans, more tomfoolery, more ballyhoo. Less originality.
All the best,
Posted by El Gaffney at 5/11/2007 12:01:00 PM
Oh, we are so Web 2.0...How Web 2.0? So Web 2.0 that we got our own Web 2.0 Logo!
How you like that participatoryness?
Create yours at the Web 2.0v2 Logo Creatr so we can all be "Web 2.0'in" (I'm starting "Web 2.0'in" as a catchphrase...sorta like Dr. Shoal's "Gellin'"..."Are you Web 2.0'in?").
via Walker Art
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Browse (and contribute) the International Database of Croporate Commands . Brand taglines interpreted literally.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
I just saw Spidey 3 and enjoyed it overall (though at 2h15min, it's a bit long). One of the interesting plot points to me was the backstory for Sandman [different in the movie than the Marvel backstory]. Essentially, he was forced into thievery to pay for his daughter's pricey health care. If only modern superheo Susie Flynn had been around, Uncle Ben may have been around to kick some sense into Peter before ... well, I won't spoil the movie. Let's just say I like Mr. Parker best in all his combed-hair, nerdy glory.
A few other general thoughts following the first of the summer popcorn sequels:
- Complexity: The TV renaissance means that viewers are accustomed to handling multiple storylines + characters, but these are often introduced and explored over 12+ hours. While complexity can be beneficial in entertainment (Steven Johnson has great thoughts on this in "Everything Bad is Good For You"), sometimes, less is more - especially when it comes down to quantity vs. quality.
- Intermissions: Faster DVD release dates and web video have changed the way we view movies in the theater; the big screen is still great for big-budget action bonanzas, but I wasn't the only one squirming in my seat two-thirds of the way through the movie. Why don't theaters have intermissions? Most other popular, long-format types of entertainment have breaks (theater, orchestra, set breaks, sports half-times ...). Movie theaters in the French-speaking part of Switzerland used to arbitrarily stop the movie halfway through so everyone could go out and smoke; couldn't theaters and studios work together to introduce thoughtful breaks? In a time-shifted world, why not give people a breather?
- Concessions: Why aren't there healthier options? Most of us really just want something to do with our hands - why not a box of cherrios and a Vitamin water? We should be able to have more choices than solid corn (aka popcorn) or liquid corn (aka soda). Granted, corn is cheap and therefore a high margin item, but movie theaters need to differentiate and perhaps sacrifice some profit at the concession stand if it means more filled seats.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Nielsen's Matthew Hurts recently drafted a graphic map showing the blogosphere in links. This picture is based on an examination of six weeks of blogosphere data.
Each little white dot represents a blog. The bigger white dots represent blogs with more incoming and outgoing links, while the smaller dots are blogs with fewer links.
The green lines represent one-way links from one blog to another, and the blue lines show reciprocal links, or blogs that link back and forth to one another regularly.
-The biggest white dots are popular blogs like Boing Boing and the Daily Koz.
-That isolated streak of green in the upper right hand (by the number three) shows LiveJournal blogs. LiveJournal users tend to link heavily to other LiveJournal blogs, but don't communicate as frequently with the outside world.
-The blue spots show bloggers who frequently link back and forth, possibly writing responses on their own blogs to items they've read on other sites and vice versa.
-Number 5 shows the fringe community of bloggers who share pornographic images and write about adult industry news and gossip.
-Number 6 sports enthusiasts who are a bit more linked into the rest of the mainstream blogosphere than the pornography enthusiasts or LiveJournal bloggers. But it's still a distinct community with users communicating primarily amongst themselves.
Similarly, here is Brian Shaler's Map of the Digg Universe
And Opte Project's massive Map of the Internet and animation.
Dig it, folks are speaking louder over the interference. This crank is actually singing the illegal Digg-gate code that can't be silenced by lawyers.
Lesson? Don't interupt the conversations. Or even those who would have probably cared less about the code previously will feel compelled to amplify the voice of those who are unfairly silenced.
MarketingVox reports that NBC has aquired R-Mail, a cool little program that let's users convert their RSS feeds to email. According to the article, a program like R-Mail is likely to be a "key component" for NBC's future digital strategies.
"NBC plans to use Rmail largely as a consumer input tool. With it, NBC can examine users' RSS feeds directly and use the info to better target people with programming and advertising."
Interesting play. With a price tag of only $150K, it wasn't a huge investment for NBC but could prove to be a good link into understanding their target and what content entices and engages them.
The people at R-Mail are hyped as well, as their blog reads that they now "finally have the team to make this joyride a rollercoaster."
I haven't heard a ton about R-Mail to this point, just starting to explore. Anyone here use it and feel like it brings some value?
Posted by avin at 5/03/2007 10:01:00 AM
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Web Designer Joshua Porter outlines the full 16 Social Features leveraged on a typical Amazon page (in this example for iPod). Social Marketing autopsied for your consideration.
Trolling through the latest on the wheat gluten story, I came across a smart ad buy on the CBS website. Next to the headline "Pet Food Toxin Said To Be Common In China" - an issue that has shaken corporate, national, and international trust - is an ad for Tylenol's "Promise" campaign:
The online iteration of the campaign features employees sharing their promise to you, the consumer. The promises - and more importantly, the people behind them - are "another reason why you can trust the pure pain relief of Tylenol." It's an especially interesting placement given Tylenol's history with trust. [For those who don't remember, Tylenol's public image and safety reputation suffered in the 1980s due to product tampering. While the perpetrator was never caught, the scare prompted increased product saftey - including gelcaps and triple-sealed bottles.]
Other lines from the campaign:
I make Tylenol and I promise:
- If I wouldn't give it to my kids, it won't get to yours.
- I'll never forget that what we make goes into someone's body.
- That I'll never let down my family here at work or at home.
Interesting messaging given current food safety fears and increased questions for the FDA.
From Jean Claude Attituder, a French web designer who provides an interesting reimagining of classic brand logos in a Web 2.0 context. *I caution that anyone viewing this don't construe being Web 2.0 as just simply changing our logos...
I also find it interesting that this excercise points to a DEFINING VISUAL AESTHETIC of our times: a simple, easy, fun, egalitarian, human approach to both software design, hardware engineering and aestetic ornament.
Compare against the current zeitgeist of real Web 2.0 app logos
(Click images to enlarge, too beaucoup for bloggery)