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, July 31, 2007

Mass Interactive: Diddy Does Web 2.0

Music mogul Sean Combs is looking for an assistant, but don’t send a résumé. The star is accepting only video applications uploaded onto YouTube.

Mr. Combs, known as Diddy, videotaped a help-wanted ad on the popular video Web site hoping to find a helper to replace his former assistant, who did everything from holding his umbrella in the rain to playing chaperone to his hip-hop group Da Band.

While Mr. Combs declined to comment on why he chose YouTube instead of a job-recruiting site like, he offered some explanation in the video.

“It’s a new age, new time, new era,” he said in his first posting, a minute-and-a-half clip of him yelling behind his desk. “Forget coming into the office and having a meeting with me and being all nervous.”

Hopefuls must audition by posting a video that is less than three minutes long explaining why they deserve the job. Initially, Mr. Combs opened it to anybody with a camera or a little creativity, but in a second posting, narrowed the applicant pool to only college graduates.

More than 600 people have submitted videos.

John A. Challenger, chief of the recruiting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said Mr. Combs’s online video search is more than a ploy to get attention. More applicants are adding video clips to their applications. “It helps put a face to all the faceless résumés,” he said.

Viewers will pick the finalists on YouTube, but Mr. Combs will pick the winner.


Reporting from Tomorrow, pt 2

I realized that I'd neglected some important facts to give proper bearings about the World Future Conference. Like what it was for and who was there.

So first, Wikipedia summarizes futures thinking as "three Ps and a W": possible, probable or preferable futures, plus wild card events (unlikely to occur but would have a great impact).

And the World Future Society acts as a clearinghouse for all of these ideas. It's a massive international network (started in MN!) who describes its reason for being as such:

By studying the future, people can better anticipate what lies ahead. More importantly, they can actively decide how they will live in the future, by making choices today and realizing the consequences of their decisions.

The future doesn't just happen: People create it through their action -- or inaction -- today.

My experience attending speaker sessions yesterday lived up to this description: we heard lots of compelling information, statistics, and trends, but rarely did speakers try to guide their audience toward the One Right Answer. We were each left to make of it what we liked. As I worked through my day's schedule of speakers, a few macro themes emerged:

--We are in a time of massive power shift, economically, socially, sexually, even biologically.

--Futurists see great potential in using current systems (ex monetary, legal, information) in innovative ways to create substantial near-term solutions.

--One question that future thinkers seem to grapple with, probably on a day-to-day basis, is: are we coping instead of living? (Subsequently, what is causing it? And, how do we change it?)

The conference has so far proven itself both highly informative, and also refreshing. For once, trends aren't being discussed in terms of the goods and services associated with them. I'm not dogging on that trend vantage point (we do a lot of it here) but the WFS is certainly providing a different perspective on the world and its people.

More thoughts tomorrow.

Trash Talk: Aki Update

Theater, Travel and Tradeshow trash edition.

Took the wifee to Spamalot! on Saturday and decided to leave the trash in the car (hey, I had a good excuse!). The attendent makes you trash your cups before entering to be seated (whew!). Theaters have lots of useless plastic cups forced upon you even though you're only ordering an Orangina which already is in a perfectly useable bottle. I guess the plastic cup is somehow more chic than the bottle?

Travel creates loads of useless trash to be avoided, from the half-eaten sandwich that you knew would taste nasty yet still purchased anyway to the double layers of bathroom paper towels ("I ain't touchin' nuthin' in here!") to the bottles and tickets and countless little slips of paper. Interestingly, for all the containers proffered, DAMN FEW AIRPORT CONTAINERS ARE ACTUALLY CONDUCIVE TO STREAMLINED TRAVEL! Everything is damned bulky and chunktified (yes, a made-up word) requiring great pockets to keep it all together.
Was at FoodSmarts Conference in Chicago for past 2 days..additional photo forthcoming. I admit, I did a bit of cheating these 2 days. Between the laptop and the bags of samples and brochures and camera and notes and miles of walking the floor - I let some of the trash go (like the half-eaten turkey sandwich and some Red Bull cans and some food sample cups and plates). Tradeshows, with all their lame pens and lights and trinkets and mints and flyers and brochures are probably the posterchild for wasteful disposability. Everything you're handed is headed to the trash. Best to just not take most of the crap, maybe exhibitors will quit buying them and provide more engaging and memorable experiences to draw crowds in lieu of trash trinkets.

And another thing: NOT ONE DAMN RECYCLE BIN ANYWHERE IN THE AIRPORT OR CONVENTION HALL. Can a wasteful consumer get any help on trying to reform?

Needless to say, my actual trash generation at the tradeshow is a bit more than the photos depict. Minus 10 points on cheating. Doh!

And yes, I have added a man-bag to keep my trash ever so stylish.

One napkin can, indeed, last all damn day (especially when you don't want to haul napkin trash all day). Perhaps I may invest in a handkerchief (gramps was onto something there).

Flickr compiles

Sunday, July 29, 2007

World Future Conference: Reporting from Tomorrow

Sunday kicked off the World Future Conference, an annual gathering of future thinkers from around the world. I'll report in based on my experiences (only a tiny slice of the whole conference) over the next few days.

We were welcomed to the conference by a pair of keynote speakers, Helen Fisher (professor at Rutgers University and author) and Gregory Stock (president of Signum Biosciences and author) .

I am excitedly anticipating the meat of the conference after these keynotes. While Fisher focused on her area of expertise, love and attachment, and Stock on his, the cutting edge of biotechnology, one theme ran constant. I think Stock himself summed it up nicely: "we are here to change our vision of who we are as human beings." Both spoke about their areas of development as they related to us as people. What it means to prescribe Zoloft, which lowers sex drive, and thus reduces the body's ability to produce dopamine? Does that mean people love less? Or what will happen when there is a pill created that will control aging (Stock thinks that the first person to live to be 150 is alive today)? These are big questions that could affect any of us, or all of us. I didn't have an extensive knowledge of the World Future Society before deciding to attend the conference, so I'll admit that a little part of me was afraid of three days of hyperfuture geeks speak that I wouldn't be able to make actionable for our clients or Fallon, but after the kickoff, I'm no longer concerned.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Trash Talk: Aki Day 01

Met Ashley Menger at Frog Design a few days ago and was introduced to their Trash Talk Initiative.

As an attempt to research our (dis)connections with the trash we create (and hopefully evolve some solutions), Trash Talkers commit to a few weeks of living with the trash they create daily. Common wisdom insists that it takes 3 weeks to actually change human behaviour so I will take on the Trash Talk challenge for 21 days and keep my daily trash with me everywhere I go.

Here's my first day's trash...

Direct mail did me in. 1 week of direct mail at that. Travel Tomorrow. Tickets to the theater tonight...lemme think about how I'm gonna get my trash in the show. Doh!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Postcards from Second Life: Metaverse

Derek Lerner at GHAVA shot a film on a NOKIA N93 to film video feedback loops "creating abstract video drawings as a metaphor for 3D immersive virtual space. Infinite syndicated regurgitated communicative white noise evoking feelings of becoming so intertwined with digital communications that the grayness of life as we currently know it is a blurry place of virtual and real."

See some of his Flickr photos of the work here

He further explains the work:
"For the last year I have been heavily involved in virtual worlds, primarily Second Life. This has prompted many thoughts about the concept of virtual space in general as well as blurring lines between simulation and real.

Mixing of realities, infinite space, multi-user online 3D collaborative environments, and time travel.

When asked to contribute work to the NOKIA Trends Lab project I immediately started to think about the level of connectivity and immersive experience handheld wireless hybridized multifunction devices offer, resulting in a type of virtual space. The sense I get when walking down the street taking photos, listening to the radio, & then uploading images to a server is of a disjointed reality where one's mind is in another place but body is walking down the street."

Postcards from Second Life: Virtual Recruiting Gets Hot

While many are likely to keep pouring on more haterade (such as here and here) and proclaim virtual worlds to be little more than a fad, many companies are finding that one of the more practical applications for them are as a good tool for recruiting. Check the CNBC segment on it here (short ad at the beginning).

It's interesting, while I can understand all of the skepticism around virtual worlds, I'm surprised more people don't acknowledge the similarities to mass reactions to the Internet in the 90's. Look at how far the internet has come in 10 years: in 1995, did anyone (besides perhaps the most techie guys out there) envision a future internet of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, podcasts, etc and the tremendous impact all of these have on our lives?

Personally I don't think it's unrealistic to picture a similar path as virtual worlds become more user-friendly, visible exposure makes them less weird/freaky to the masses, brands learn how to actually do something of value instead of putting up buildings for no reason (and in particular, how to make it easy for people to get started and comfortable in-world ), and we all become more savvy at finding ways for them to provide value in our own lives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Politics 2.0: Post-Debate, Obama Has Work Cut Out For Him

Riding the tails of Sarah's post on the Democratic CNN/YouTube debates, an article in the Economist showed the Barack is trailing in some key markets where he should be performing strong. For example, in South Carolina, more than half of the states black primary electorate are actually pulling for Hillary over him.

The article goes on to say that this is not for lack of any star power, but his challenge is a difficult one: clearly communicating to black voters that he understands their concerns while also attracting white suburban voters.

This is really shaping up to be an interesting election, especially when compared with the last one where all we had was a choice between the lesser of two evils. Combine this with the fact that, according to CNN, the leading Republican candidate among Republican voters is none of the above, with nearly 25% unwilling to back the leading Rep candidates. And even better, none of them seemed to have gained any sort of clear advantage among the Christian right.

A last comment on the YouTube debates, I'll be very interested to see how the Republicans handle themselves when they get theirs in September.

The Launch of 'One Laptop Per Child'

Happy to see this article yesterday in MarketingVox announcing that this project will finally start mass production in October of this year. Made by Quanta Computers of Taiwan, the computers are kid friendly to the fullest-- sunlight readable, a pull chord to recharge, built in wireless...

An incredible idea and even more incredible that government red tape and bureaucratic bullshit did not hinder this til the end of time. Though my worry is that somewhere along the chain that may still be the case, and we'll see this drag on...

But that brings and interesting opportunity for Quanta. I don't know how profitable these computers can be for them, but the PR exposure and benefit to our global society they are providing are an incredible incentive for this company to push this thing through with whatever they have.

And for all of us it's a chance to connect with kids that have largely been ignored and kept out of sight from most developed nations because it's easy to put the problems of people "over there" out of mind. How cool is it that we may be, hopefully sooner than later, able to hear their voices, understand their view on the world, listen to their opinions, learn about their life. Those who have the most reason to feel rejected by the world will now have the chance to let us all know what they think. Amazing that even 10 years ago this was a relative impossibility.

Call me an optimist when it comes to this project, but with every good sign of progress I'll continue to keep my hopes up, because if it pans out I think it will be a great step forward for all of us.

Though I wonder, who will be first on the Election '08 ballot to try and use this to their political advantage?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Connection Planning Conference 2007

Still in the process of confirming speakers but here's a leak on Facebook:

October 26, 2007
New Orleans, LA

Ed Cotton; Butler Shine Stern & Partners
Adrian Ho; Zeus Jones
Jim Elms; Barkley Evergreen & Partners
Gareth Kay; Modernista
Demian Brink; Boone/Oakley
Lisa Seward; Mod

Le Chat Noir - a Cabaret Theater and Piano Bar located in a restored turn of the century New Orleans townhouse (715 St. Charles Avenue).

Sign up for email updates at, or on Facebook

Politics 2.0: CNN/YouTube Debates

Who watched the debates last night? For weeks, YouTubers have been submitting video questions from their couches and kitchen tables. Thirty-nine lucky submissions were selected for last night's CNN-broadcast debate. Missed it on CNN? The whole debate, question by question, is parceled out on YouTube (was this the final frontier of appointment television?).

While the questions were sifted through by some staff team somewhere, they weren't squeaky clean. Obama even commented on the fact that nearly every question was colored with a tone of skepticism. Here's a guy asking what Hilary thought of the idea of potentially 28 years of the same two families running the country, (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton) and if the other candidates found that troublesome.

And now, YouTube is looking for reactions; what did viewers think of the candidates and their answers.

This debate format is reflective of our desire to participate in, instead of just holding on to the ride of life. People from all walks of life set up their tripods and, in varying levels of seriousness, asked what they really wanted candidates to talk about. I'd say that the candidates still need a little work at this whole "genuine, authentic" thing; responses tended on the side of sidestepping, finger-pointing and the occasional unrelated answer. But I give them credit for participating in this new experiment and look forward to the upcoming Republican Debate, which will take place in the same format.

Friday, July 20, 2007

User-Created: Simpsonize Me!

Aki Simpsoned

Alyson Simpsoned

Adam Simpsoned

Sarah Simpsoned

Murray Simpsoned

Lachlan Simpsoned

Avin Simpsoned

Get Simpsoned here!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Likemind this Friday!

Likemind is a coffee and chat kind of a deal thought up by Piers Fawkes and Noah Brier. They decided to post an open invitation on their respective blogs to see if anyone wanted to get together to drink coffee and talk about what's going on--in advertising, in the blogosphere, in the world. It worked pretty well, and now there are Likemind events going on all over from NYC to Oslo to Jakarta.

We have a great little MPLS edition; please come by.
Open invite to Minneapolis Likemind:
Friday, July 20
8-10a come whenever you want, leave whenever you want.
Espresso Royale (1229 Hennepin Ave, btwn. N 12th and N 13th, Minneapolis) MAP

Leave a comment here if you need more info.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Burger? Salad? Maybe the Sustainably Raised Chicken?

I read a few months ago an editorial from Gourmet magazine’s editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, wherein she discussed the idea of “Occasional Vegitarianism.” “Isn’t it time we realized that eating vegetarian meals is neither penance nor virtue, but simply another mealtime option?”, she asks. As part of her case, Reichl pointed out that we now consume more meat than any other society in history, and that our grazing and feed production uses 30% of the surface of the planet.

Makes me wonder if she’s correct in her assumption that it’s not a penance nor virtue to consume wisely. It’s becoming just duty. This week, the NYT reported on the popularity of certain varieties of fish and its impact on sushi consumption; US consumers believe salmon and tuna rolls are the end all be all, and the rise in sushi’s popularity has placed a strain on these species. The article suggests that sushi lovers expand their orders into a wider range of sushi options.

When Americans sit down at a restaurant—from the sushi bar to Applebee’s—their method of evaluating menu choices has changed. We have become more conscientious of what we want to eat versus what we should be eating. We saw it in the tiny salad selection growing into an array of main dish options for patrons interested in a tasty dining experience without three days’ worth of fat and calories. Menus developed further with the proliferation of a rainbow of symbols to tell us exactly what made food healthy—low fat, low carbs, lactose-free. Today, as demonstrated in the Times, Americans are becoming more aware of their food’s origins—an organic farm locally grown, or from a sustainable resource? So should we be thinking one step beyond ourselves when we sit down at the diner, to consider what we should be consuming? And should restaurants be pushing this agenda by clearly labeling menus with a revised edition of the symbols to help customers make the right choice?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jazz up nasty ppts

Jim Bumbgardner thought up this neat little flickr hack that allows you to search for flickr images by color.

This guy said it nicely:
"This is either something that designers and photo editors have been waiting their whole lives for, or one of those "I've created this because the Web lets me do it" kinds of things."
-- Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

I think it's both, actually.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Politics 2.0: More Obama Girl

UPDATE: the full clip hot off the presses. Some real heated debate for you:

The hotly anticipated trailer to her new song...ahh, yeah! Servin' up politics b-boy style.

Avin dug up the info and tracked down more on Obama Girl here, and here. I'm seein' televised political debates between "Hot For Hill" and "Obama Girl". Bring it! "You 'bout ta git served, Hillary!"

Politics 2.0: Hot for Hill

Eh, Obama Girl is hotter...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tell it like it is

Outlaw Consulting
recently published the results of a Gen Y trendsetter study. 21-27 year olds were asked which brands they trusted most, and here's the outcome.

1. Apple
2. Trader Joe's
3. Jet Blue
4. In-N-Out Burger
5. Ben & Jerry's
6. Whole Foods
7. Adidas
8. American Apparel
9. Target
10. H & M clothing stores
11. Levi's
12. Volkswagen
13. Converse
14. Vitamin Water
15. Red Stripe Jamaican beer

Sometimes I feel like all we do is harp, harp harp on how brands need to be authentic, and this is good evidence to make me believe we're not wasting our time. These brands are alike in that they are FRANK. They speak like Gen Y speaks, they live where they live, and they are fast on the move to stay fresh. And it works. People are buying it.

Unifying The Home: An Interesting Space?

Inspired by an ad I saw in Wired, I snooped around on the Living Homes website ( This company is taking a green approach to building houses that are modern and efficient. This picture is of their flagship model.

The mission reads: “We work with leading architects to create lines of homes that feature modern form and functionality and an unprecedented level of healthy/sustainability materials and energy systems. We're using high volume, factory production to increase the quality of our homes as we reduce their cost, schedule, and construction waste, compared to those that are similarly constructed on site.”

Somehow this “efficiency” concept got me thinking outside of conservative appliances and materials and more along the lines of the entire home operation in general. With the impact of Home Entertainment and increase in popular technology devices, I wonder if there is an interesting space unoccupied by any companies yet. In regards to this trend, Tom Gardner writes in Fortune:

“This past winter holiday season, one out of every four gifts was a consumer electronic device, and spending in the category topped $21 billion. The industry has prospered over the past decade, in large part because you and I want to transform our living rooms in to Cineplex Odeons, complete with six-foot-wide flat screens, surround sound, and the full integration of PCs, iPods, Wiis, TiVos, and DVD players. To my eye, there is not clear end in sight to this trend. Video-on-demand is just around the corner, and consumer will enjoy an embarrassment of programming riches via the Internet.”

Combining these two thoughts, I wonder if utilizing consumers’ increasing desire to simplify, customize and “go green” in our society opens up a space that electronics companies can consider. I’m thinking along the lines of a home device that simply controls all electronic aspects of the home in an efficient manner. Lights, music, all the Home Entertainment components, computer and internet devices, appliances, security system, etc. seem like they could all be easily managed and efficiently controlled from one central location – preferably some sort of mobile hand-held device.

This sort of product/service appears as an opportunity for something interesting in terms of positioning and branding. If appropriately developed and marketed this sort of item could satisfy an array of wants from the consumer with a green spin. I haven’t been able to find companies that seem to be doing something like this (through a however menial google search), which makes me wonder if this is an interesting opportunity unclaimed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

There is hope!

I'm an eternal optimist about this sometimes mad world. One thing that helps feed this positive view of things is the encouraging, and it appears dramatic, rise in the popularity for Atheist writings as reported in the Guardian Newspaper. It's about time that we non-believers had a stronger voice amongst all the psycho babble we have to endure from crazy religious dogma on a daily basis. 

Now if only those same nutters would get their hands off our stems cells we might make even more significant break throughs in the reduction of human suffering. 
Role on the election!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Prediction of social networking doom and gloom

Lance Ulanoff of PC Magazine writes an opinion piece on the inevitable death of MySpace, Second Life, Twitter, and the whole lot of social networking sites.

Some highlights:

"MySpace could be the first to collapse. It has now suffered the same fate as the millions of personal Web sites that sprang up in the mid 1990s: It's huge, ugly, unmonitored, unrestrained, and pointless."

I take issue with his proclamation that MySpace is pointless; I would equate that to the idea that letter writing or putting my photos in an album are both pointless, too. Not buying it.

"Second Life could just as easily be the first to go. No one believes its reported participation numbers anymore, even though big companies, such as Circuit City and IBM, have built virtual stores (and Playboy is jumping in with both, er, feet this month). Some individuals are even claiming to make real-world money in there, but are they really?"

There might be some validity in the flaws Ulanoff highlights, but I think he neglected to take into account one important variable: innovation. If they sit, at stasis, until the end of the decade, these sites and utilities will probably lose their luster. But they're ever-evolving. The Facebook, for example, is shooting out new applications left and right. They're not solving global warming or emptying our prisons, but they are adding dimension to relationships. The new variety of closeness that we collectively have developed online won't go away, even if it does evolve into something different. But way to go for it on the prediction, Lance. I appreciate it.

Full article here