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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"How do you even define what marketing is anymore Craig?"

The other line I love is:

"It's not viral marketing. It's comedy."

So what's the difference? At least Judd Apatow and his gang have the balls to kick the question around in this hilarious vid...

Props to Rick Webb (Barbarian Group) for mentioning Backlash, along with other cool stuff, in his Feb 25 Creativity Online "Guest Editor" piece.

(Speaking of cool stuff, and this is the mobile-phile in me talking, there is now one cellphone for every two people IN THE WORLD, or so says this intriguing Washington Post piece from last Sunday.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brand Action: Whole Foods Getting Rid Of Disposable Plastic Bags

Happy to see this initiative starting to take at least some hold on our side of the pond. Across all its stores on April 22nd (Earth Day), Whole foods will cut the "plastic" out of "paper or plastic".

The company is trying to make the transition easy for shoppers accustomed to plastic by providing an array of options:

"We make it easy by offering a wide selection of reusable bags for sale at our stores — check out our “Better Bag” — only 99 cents and it’s made from recycled plastic bottles. Helping the environment in two ways!" (from their website).

Disposable bags have long been discouraged in many European countries (Ireland recently joined the cause, instituting a tax on bags to get people motivated) and earlier this year even China stepped up.

A smart move and something that all of us can do in our collective effort to fight pollution, and fits well with Whole Foods vision on sustainability and our future.

And also, maybe it'll help offset some of the backlash that co-founder John Mackey caused with his message board blunder last year. Hope you learned your lesson, John (just remember: Transparency).

Drum Skills are Ageless

Great video that shows life, 1 through 100, through the people who are living it.

My favorites are 91 and 96; they are charming and quirky.

Generally amusing to see that tapping a drum doesn't shoot up in ease or fluidity with age.

via VSL

Monday, February 25, 2008

Music broadcasts more than sound waves

We decided recently to expand our department's musical repertoire beyond Murray's ever-thumping playlist. So last week some Vampire Weekend, Jay-Z, and Amy Winehouse floated from various speakers.

However, new research indicates that we were unwittingly exposing ourselves to association with personality stereotypes based on our selections.

Peter Rentfrow and Samuel Gosling, two longtime researchers in the field of music and psychology, found in 1996 that certain personality traits are associated with music preferences.

This year, their research took those findings one step further to explore the stereotypes associated with certain types of music by asking evaluators describe personality types associated with various genres.

Serious job implications here for the department-wide playlist. Start editing!

Evaluators were also asked to rank perceived drug use among fans of different genres:

(More about an unspoken glass ceiling!)

via Cognitive Daily

Guilty Pleasure: Tay Zonday Crashes Into Weird

The latest from our favorite internet celebrity.

This is a little nuts...even for him. Hard to decide whether he intentionally dialed up the craziness/oddness factor or this is just genuine Tay. Either way, good for some renewed water cooler chat and more hype for the everyday celebrity- brought to you by YouTube.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Contagious: The World in Words

The story of a man and his pregnant wife, rushing through the streets of NYC in time to get to the hospital and deliver the baby, with all visual elements represented by words (watch and see for yourself).

"A world made only with typographics"

Made by DJ Alex Gopher.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Media Snacking: RSS Readers As Personal Space

A little while back, I wrote this post, wondering how much I should respect media snackers. But since then, I've been thinking I may have pulled the trigger too quickly on that one.

Because really, how can I not (or at least try)? After all…my name is Avin, and I am a media snacker.

RSS has been a godsend for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read, and do so as often as possible (latest: the world without us, very interesting exploration/thought experiment). But when it comes to online content, its truly amazing how much RSS lets us get through in a day. Sometimes I don’t know what the hell I did before it.

And lately, I've been thinking about whether I, as an admitted media snacker, feel respected by companies I deal with.

I don't. Not necessarily disrespect in regards to length of content (since I'm kinda being disrespectful to fellow snackers with the length of this post), but disrespected in my media snacking experience itself. Case in point is my RSS reader. I treat my RSS space much differently than if I were reading the same content on the original website- be it news, blog posts, whatever. For me, my RSS reader feels more personal and worthy of more protection. I picked which feeds would appear, tagged and grouped them to my liking, and filtered out all the content I don't want.

And yet, I'm still subjected to banner ads from companies I didn't invite, pushing stuff on me I didn't ask to see.

Honestly, if I saw those same banner ads on the original site, I probably wouldn't think twice about it (note: that's still not a good thing).

But when they pop up in my reader, it seems like an invasion of privacy, an invasion on the snacking I'm trying to do. Often times, it dissuades me from even wanting to read the story (or stay on that sites feed).

Working in this business, it can be quite disheartening to see opportunities to participate in conversation with people routinely overlooked in favor of interrupting. Instead, why not provide some interesting content which people would want to add to their own RSS feeds? Or somehow, make the feed browsing experience better?

Thoughts from fellow RSS enthusiasts? Do you feel the same kind of privacy invasion when ads interrupt your reader? Any examples of companies/agencies (yours or others) that have found a better way? Care to share how you've gotten clients to go in a different direction?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fallon Brainfood: Dragon (China) Rising

Fallon strategic planner Avin Narasimhan presents the latest helping of Brainfood, giving us his perspective on the meteoric rise of China and what it could mean for us (as a global business, as advertisers, as...people).

click here to view in full screen.

Since Slideshare doesn't do video, check the links below to get some of that context (slide number included for quick reference).

Chinese ad vs US (circa 1980s)- compare and see for yourself (slides 2&3).

Rejoice Shampoo ad- creative way of approaching a fairly standard product benefit (slide 37).

Nike celebrates the 25th anniversary of Air Force One's- Beijing party (slide 49).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fallon Brainfood

Brainfood is a monthly all-agency lunch conducted by Fallon Planners. Wide-ranging topics explore trends, business issues, and actionable opportunities for our brands.

Last month's presentation: Design For All
Fallon strategic planners Aki Spicer and Alyson Heller explore the 360° influence that modern design has on the experience of our brands.

or go here to view fullscreen on Slideshare

Prior presentation: Virtuality
Fallon strategic planners Aki Spicer (Aki Octagon) and Avin Narasimhan (Desi Stoneage) have come back from the future to offer their POV about Virtuality and it’s implications for brands.

or go here to view fullscreen on Slideshare

*Look for Avin to post last week's Brainfood, Dragon Rising (China) soon.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lifestreamed: Aki Channels Are Live

Its like an Aki Fishtank!
If you ooVoo, then catch latest episodes on "akispicer"...but ooVoo requires that you download software. Yahoo!Live is free and on the internets. Of course, you gotta have a webcam enabled computr. But u may still chat and join the conversation.
*i'll try not to pick my nose on cam

Webcam chat at Ustream

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lifecycle of a Blog

Wired details the Life Cycle of a Blog Post, From Servers to Spiders to Suits — to You

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

OMMA Mobile: The Afternoon Session...

Here it is, your recap of the OMMA Mobile Conference's afternoon session last Thursday...

(See my report on the conference's morning lineup, my disclaimers about not being a media guy, my Swingers reference, and my oozing excitement over the potential and possibilities of mobile marketing here.)

Lunch was really good, and it was followed by the important Mobilizing the Agency session. One standout was Jeffrey Stier, SVP of New Business for JWT, where they have embedded a mobile agency to consult on all marketing matters. Stier claims that they now assign a mobile marketing expert to every core brand team. If that's really true, I greatly admire their commitment to experimentation. (Yes, as high as I am on mobile, it's still an unproven experimental ad medium -- one that EVERY AGENCY should be experimenting with.)

Another Jeff, Mediacom's Director of Digital Media Jeff Malmad, offered that "Data will drive mobile", supporting (Starcom's) Angela Steele's emphasis on understanding the consumer. "Mobile ads need to be so relevant that it doesn't feel like advertising," said Steele. And what about privacy? Well, Amazon knows a lot about us and that's all good because they recommend the right stuff, right?

Steele went on to say that in the Awareness-Consideration-Purchase chain there are mobile opportunities throughout, and that agencies should meet with every mobile vendor to learn as much as possible about what's out there. One of those vendors, mobile agency Ipsh!, was represented on the panel by Bryon Morrison, who evangelized mobile as a "fantastic" direct marketing medium. Then he dropped, "How valuable is the opt-in relationship?" Well that's the magic question.

The breakout sessions followed, and I'm a broadcast producer by trade so naturally I checked out Big Screen Little Screen: TV Phones It In, where I discovered...

-ITV (interactive television) is alive and well and it has nothing to do with your remote control.

-Two years ago Bravo TV tried asking viewers to text their choice for the winner of Project Runway and the response was huge. Now they boast one of TV's leading mobile platforms including location-based mobile social networking, a mobile Project Runway fan club, and a brilliant new idea where on-screen product placements trigger an instant text message to viewers containing brand info/deals/coupons/whatever relating to the product they just saw. So much for taking product placement impressions on faith!

-Airplay offers mobile games to play along with live TV event programming like sports (NBA, NFL, NCAA Football) and award shows. They even set it up so users are served ads on their phone synchronized with the advertisers they see on TV. Very cool.

-Telescope (great name) is helping Sprite with their sponsorship of the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest next weekend in New Orleans. I presume Dr. J and 'Nique and the rest of yesterday's dunk kings will be there again judging the early rounds, but this year THE FANS WILL GET TO DECIDE THE DUNK CHAMP when they vote for one of the two dunkers in the final round VIA TEXT MESSAGE. Everyone who votes receives a text invitation to visit an innovative and already popular branded mobile social network created by Sprite called The Yard. They're going to get a lot of votes (mine included), and The Yard is going to get very crowded very fast. Best mobile hook I heard all day.

Let me repeat for emphasis: Sprite (the soda brand, not a tech start-up by the same name) went out and created a fully branded mobile social network experience (where they remind people to drink Sprite quite a bit I'm sure) and now they're letting the fans decide the Slam Dunk contest for the first time ever in exchange for a personal invite to hang out in their Sprite-soaked virtual mobile "Yard". As my one-year-old niece says, Big. So big.

How Open is Open? followed and turned out to be a pretty technical discussion about the openness of the mobile landscape. The word "open" in mobile was compared to the word "change" in politics -- everyone talks about it but it means different things to different people. Google Android will allow outside developers to create mobile apps for all to use, but who will provide dependable support? The best analogy I heard was that mobile web browsing today is like web browsing used to be for AOL customers, i.e., not open (but the iPhone's browser is open).

The day concluded with an analysis of the myths (or truths) surrounding the mobile marketing space today. Some quick highlights:

-SMS (text messaging) is the ultimate User-Generated Content, according to Amobee CEO Roger Wood, who talked about intercepting text messages, converting them into MMS messages with a graphic ad tacked on, and then sending them on their way to the originally intended recipients. No way, you say? Well what if it made sending and receiving text messages free?

-Rhythm NewMedia offers free ad-supported "video snacking" (2-3 minute shorts) on your phone, where practically nothing is free. The question is, do people want lean back-style video viewing on their phones?

-Enter Tony Nethercutt from AdMob, who reported that banner ads on mobile WAP sites that included the words "Watch the Video" saw clicks go up 3-5 times.

-During January's NFL playoff games, ESPN actually drew more visits to its mobile WAP site than to its regular website, despite a high number of iPhone users who typically browse the non-WAP web. I guess people watching games have their phones with them but they don't always have their computers.

-The mobile carriers started out as voice service providers and now they're being railroaded into becoming media companies. As media companies they sit on piles of user data, all of which could be used to serve highly-targeted ads. They're also dealing with a drop in talk time and a rise in other services -- texting, photo messaging, game playing -- that they need to monetize. So how are they making the transition? Not well, not yet.

And that's why mobile may not explode for a while, despite its enormous potential as an always on, always on you marketing platform with your wallet (your cellphone bill) built-in. Peter Kim attended the conference and blogged that mobile just isn't ready, but that shouldn't stop us from experimenting heavily to learn what will work when the time is right. Agreed.

So I began the day as a big believer in text, and by the end I'd confirmed that virtually every phone has SMS capability so text message campaigns (inspiring users to opt-in for useful, relevant brand info and deals) are ready right now as ultra-modern permission marketing vehicles, and that SMS ads can be a bridge to mobile WAP sites featuring more branded bells and whistles. But I also learned that mobile banner ads (large in relation to the overall screen size with a one ad per page limit) are another very effective means of driving people to your mobile web offerings, depending on how and where you use them. What you do beyond the click is up to you.

The bottom line is this, borrowing from MediaPost columnist Steve Smith's summary to close the conference:


...and seriously, how can it not?

Friday, February 08, 2008

OMMA Mobile: A Day Later...

Let's see how much of the OMMA Mobile Conference I can distill into one blog entry. A day later, certain highlights emerge as I share what I learned with the water-cooler set, among them:

The opportunities afforded by mobile handsets are explosive (in my opinion). As long as mobile campaigns provide UTILITY (useful information and ways to save time and/or money), RELEVANCE (messaging customized by situation, location, and/or user profile), and CONTROL for the user (so they can't be spammed), this always-on, always-on-you medium is poised to be "The Thing" (according to Aegis CEO David Verklin, one of yesterday's speakers).

I'm not a media person, so it's the ideas I was there to hear. Verklin was pushing integrated campaigns where mass media (like TV) invites consumers to opt-in for mobile permission marketing. He touted achieving "100% composition", which he called "the dream of any media planner."

Similarly, Nokia's Ad Business Director of Global Brand Solutions Jeremy Wright marveled at how few brands were using mobile to improve the performance of offline ads. Why slap your web address on an outdoor board (and ask people to remember it when they get back to their computer) when you can invite them to text a keyword to a short code for instant results and information (using the phone they have in their pocket or purse)? Said Wright, "Acting on impulse. Shouldn't that be what advertising's all about?"

Back to Verklin, he quoted a deprivation research exercise where 18-29 year olds were asked, "Which would you give up first: the internet or your cellphone?" The results were overwhelming in favor of keeping the phone, and many respondents muttered "stupid question." Why? Because they access the internet on their phone, so they wouldn't be giving up the internet at all. In fact, for many, the cellphone is their primary tool for accessing the web, and this is especially true in other parts of the world.

Verklin also showed some support for mobile video, adding that ad dollars will always chase things that look and feel like TV. As soon as broadband made the internet TV-like, the money followed. Now electronic out-of-home is getting popular. If mobile can succeed as another "TV surrogate", look out.

"Mobile is a channel, not a strategy" said Paul Cushman, Director of Mobile Sales for Yahoo! during the Enter The Titans session. Louis Gump, VP of Mobile for Weather Channel Interactive, explained how every advertiser starts off with a cross-platform buy typically involving Weather Channel TV,, and some mobile, but many return asking for mobile-only campaigns because of how surprisingly well they perform. Reasons? The single banner at the top of their mobile web page does well because, like any mobile banner, it doesn't share the screen with any other advertising. Also, weather is a leading mobile search category (understandable), so their mobile site is among the most popular.

Gump also challenged advertisers to "think beyond the click". Where are they taking the mobile users? How can they leverage the heavily-loaded opportunity to engage an interested user on their phone (which is also a payment device, when you consider the ability to apply charges to a user's monthly bill)?

It reminds me of that scene in Swingers where T (Vince Vaughn) tells Mike (Jon Favreau) that he's like a big bear with teeth and claws, and the girl across the bar is a little bunny, "and you got these claws and you're staring at these claws and you're thinking to yourself, and with these claws you're thinking, how am I supposed to kill this bunny, how am I supposed to kill this bunny?!" Well, the phone has these massive teeth and claws, and that user who clicked? You get the idea.

They're so money and they don't even have cellphones.

The last session of the morning featured The Giant Killers, or the mobile startups expertly taking aim at the mobile space. David Goldman of Comedy Time ("the 7th most watched video channel on mobile and the only independent in the top 10") told of challenging Comedy Central with mobile-purposed video content featuring more close-ups, sound designed for cellphone speakers, and appropriate plotlines and running times for mobile viewing.

Barry Chu, GM of Advertising at Medio Systems, spoke of competing with the big boys of search by customizing the display of results for the small screen and emphasizing local search (again, understandable). And MocoSpace's VP of Marketing Jim Gregoire claimed that for many users of their mobile social network, mobile is the 1st Screen (not the 3rd, behind TV and Web, as it is for us older folk). In this way, he said, MocoSpace is more fulfilling than MySpace because your friends are always on (i.e., they always have their phone) and it's easier to meet and interact with new friends.

I texted a question for this panel about their mobile ad inventories (admittedly because I'm designing the ad platform for my own project, mobile sports chat and photo sharing utility The best answer I got was from Chu, who explained that mobile search ads offer click-to-call buttons instead of the traditional web links. Pretty cool.

That was it for the morning session, and speaking of sports, keep an eye out for my recap of the afternoon, where I'll explain what Sprite is doing to revolutionize this year's NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest...

Just like 2007 Dunk Champ Gerald Green (above), Sprite is getting the jump on their competition.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Doin' Big Things: Jay-Z to Become Agency Chief

Supposedly, to be officially announced today, Jay-Z in conjunction with the equally entrepreneurial Steve Stoute will be opening an ad agency. Translation Advertising, as it will be known, will focus on "helping marketers reach multicultural consumers."

It makes sense he would do something like this. He considers this "part of the natural growth" of his career. I mean, come on, dude's resume includes just about everything: Hustlin', Grammy-Winning, Owning NJ Nets, Clothier, Budweiser Select Brand Manager, Def Jam CEO (a position he just resigned). He's a brand manager - more specifically a perception manager. Always has been. He gets it. "There are people who don’t understand the culture," Jay said, referencing a commercial for a wireless carrier “that shows guys break-dancing in the phone store...It’s just not something we do.”

I love this: "If we sit in a room...and offer our ideas of how to reach consumers, how to speak to them — and this is not a cocky statement — put us up against anything, and we’ll win our fair share of battles.” Curious to see what they will do and who they will work with.

Interpublic will own 49%, Jay and Steve will own 51%.

via NyTimes

Also, about a month old story from the rumor mill suggests Jay-Z and Apple may team up to form a new record label. Read gossip here and here.

OMMA Mobile: Over and Out

So much for live blogging the OMMA Mobile conference. I started scribbling down notes at 9am and 66 PAGES later it's over, my hand smells like ink, and my head is full.

I'll admit, this was a lot for a non-media type to grasp, but I was able to understand most of what was going on and I'll do my best to share it all in a couple of blog entries...

...but not right now. It's time to get up and head for the airport. Stay tuned for my reports of the highlights (there were many), and for those who can't wait there's the MediaPost Raw blog with a play-by-play of the entire day.

Until next time, ponder this: How long will it take for your cellphone to fully replace your TV remote control?

Live From OMMA Mobile

Greetings from NYC. I'm here for MediaPost's OMMA Mobile, a one-day conference dedicated to the future of mobile marketing.

The conference is just about to start, and I'll attempt to live blog throughout the day whenever I've accumulated enough shareable stuff.

I admit I'm not "mobile blogging". As evidenced by my mobile misfire post below ("Sent from Gmail for mobile..."), Blogger's mobile tools weren't easy enough for me to abandon blogging wirelessly from my laptop (but I did snap the above photo with my phone).

The opening speaker has taken the stage, so I'm gonna go. Will I be learning all about slapping banner ads on mobile sites (yawn)? Or will I hear about cool SMS marketing techniques based on a user's situation, location (see yesterday's exciting NY Times article about CBS Mobile), and/or personal profile.

Crossing my fingers it's more of the latter. Last thing, check out Mozes. They're here offering text-your-question-for-the-panel technology.

Sent from Gmail for mobile |

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Only Human

Only Human is a community where people share stories about mistakes they've made in life and their advice to others.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Reebok: Perfectville Still Just A Town of One

Speaking of a smart post Superbowl ad, check out Reeboks angle in:

Not only did they (like Miller High Life) avoid the nearly $3 million pricetag, but they built up some buzz and interest with their Perfectville microsite in the days leading up to the game, and they tapped into something that was a BIG deal for those of us who love football: the prospect that the perfect season record held by the 72 Dolphins could have been broken last night (and most people were expecting just that result).

Maybe the start of a new era for advertisers Superbowl strategy? Avoid paying to actually be in the game, and find a way after the jump to do something interesting and stand out from all those who ponied up the cash just to be a part of the clutter (and maybe even make the guys who opted for game time spots feel a little foolish for having done so).

Guilty Pleasure: Miller High Life Delivers Common Sense

a) Nice strategy
b) Great way to join in the conversation and continue the dialogue
c) ...and save a buck or two on Superbowl rates (talk about it, don't actually be on it)
d) Fast delivery of a idea to capitalize on relevance (presumably they trolled the preview spots of last week and didn't actually shoot last nite and edit this am)

Politics 2.0: Servers Overwhelmed

Perhaps there is lots of interest this election...

Politics 2.0: Yes, We Can

Will I Am (and friends) recorded a song/video inspired by Barack Obama's "Yes, We Can" speech. Obama clearly inspires folks in a way that many candidates can't really match. This is an interesting phenomenon to watch.

...and well, from the profound to, uh, ObamaGirl is back with another hit at 1.9Million views already.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Guilty Pleasure:Frozen Grand Central

Improv Everywhere strikes again. This time over 200 agents "freeze" at the same time in Grand Central Station.