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.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fallon Brainfood: "Inspired By Kittens"

Fallon strategic planner Aki Spicer explores the latest social media metrics of the "Kittens Inspired By Kittens" phenomenon (created by Fallon ECD Al Kelly) as well as the 5 actionable lessons we can apply to our brands.

Fallon Brainfood: "Inspired By Kittens" from Aki Spicer on Vimeo.

Invite on Facebook

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Generosity: A Product of an Innovation Economy, not an Efficiency Economy

we've been talking a lot about Generous Brands here at fallon, and a point i've been making about why clients need to embrace Generosity is that this country is moving beyond a business climate driven by supply-side thinking focused on maximizing efficiencies, and into a business climate driven by demand-side thinking focused on innovation, ideas, and offering new forms of value to customers. supply-side brands create communications that serve their own needs, but demand-side brands create communications that serve customers' needs... in other words, they create communications that are Generous.

traditional business consultants like McKinsey are going to be less valuable in the future (a business can only get so lean), and new model innovation consultancies like IDEO are going to be more and more valuable (businesses will always need to create new value for their customers). agencies can learn a lot from the processes and the kind of work these innovation consultancies emphasize as we continue to redefine our role in the future. having worked alongside a couple of these companies, i can say that what they do is a whole lot like what we do, but they're probably packaging and merchandising themselves better than we are (for proof, check out how many times IDEO has been profiled in BusinessWeek over the past few years).

this short businessweek post by design columnist bruce nussbaum makes this point pretty well, using some of obama's initial actions to illustrate. thanks to alyson for pointing me to it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Periodic Table of Social Media Elements Reminds You to Optimze Your Social Media Plan

Rick Liebling has created a Period Table of Social Elements on eyecube that made me get thinking on brands use of social media. I included the image below, and the key can be found in the original post on eyecube.

In his words: Social Media really is a lot like chemistry. There is a huge pool of elements you can choose from and an infinite variety of combinations you can create. Twitter + sharing + commenting will give you a different result than blogging + LinkedIn + Flickr. Then of course there are the active ingredients - the people. A dash of Chris Brogan plus a big helping of David Armano and the whole thing changes again.

Often we are approached by brands and clients saying "I want a Twitter strategy" or "I want to be on Facebook." But not every brand that succeeds on Twitter will succeed on Facebook. @Comcastcares uses Twitter as a tool, but can you find a successful Comcast effort anywhere on MySpace?

As agencies, we need to find the right mix of social elements, and when appropriate, the right hyper-connected people to work with or learn from, to deliver the best possible Social Media Mix to our clients.

This gives a great image of all the different options in a quick-get way of understanding the mixing and matching capabilities of all-things social. You blow up a balloon with CO2 and it sits on the floor. Inflate it with helium and it floats.

Friday, February 20, 2009

iPhone app shelf life is less than 30 days.

New Pinch Media data reveals that "for free applications, only about 20 percent of users return to use the app the first day after they download it, and then it quickly drops off from there. By 30 days out, less than 5 percent are using the app...So there is a very brief window of time to capture people’s attention and potential revenues."

Implications/strategy for branded apps moving forward:

1. Add VALUE (utility, organization, efficiency, entertainment, convenience, etc.) or it instantly becomes nothing.
2. Launch app 30 DAYS OR LESS BEFORE BIG EVENT (new product launch, season premiere, box-office opening, etc...).
3. CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION. Constantly add new content; weekly, monthly, daily...whatever. Giving users a reason to come back.
4. Throw the app to bloggers PR style so they can spread it by WOM; their network.
5. Maybe the app isn't free? People may use it more if they have invested in it.

Article and Slideshare here:

6 Ways to Play Twitter - Winning Strategies for Brands On Twitter

Not a week goes by where someone doesn't ask me to quick-brainstorm a Twitter strategy for their brand. Then I roll my eyes and grimace as I believe most brands probably should not Twitter (because they really aren't willing to deliver on-demand responsiveness - just one among many factors unique to the Twitter platform.).

Nonetheless, here is an easy chart of 6 Ways To Play Twitter. Pin it on your wall if you're considering just how your brand may fit into the conversation on Twitter.

(click to enlarge or get.pdf or get.png)

*All strategies don't fit all brands - do some soul-searching!
**And, yes, some strategies may be combined (like Mortal Combat button combos - "Finish Him!")

***If I'm missing some angles throw 'em at me in the comments (or @akispicer, as I reserve the right to update this chart with better ideas.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eco-Metrics: Part 2

Continuing my previous post on monitoring your energy use or carbon footprint with iPhone and/or Android apps, here are a few more.


Accufuel - Track your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Carticipate - A ride-share app that allows the user to find people in their area to carpool. Think social-carpooling.


PedNav - Helps the user plan their activities efficiently. The app is location aware, so it has the capability of telling the user what is near and of the necessary transportation to get to the suggested destination.

Teradesk - Connects the user to their computers and/or mobile devices and allows them to store files in a digital "cloud" accessible from anywhere, eliminating personal paper trails.

And it's not just the software that is allowing people to be more "efficient." There have been developments in the hardware as well. Here are a couple examples.

Nokia's 3110 Evolve
- The covers are made from over 50% renewable material, has smaller packaging made of 60% recycled content, and the charger uses 94% less energy than the Energy Star requirements.

Motorola's Renew
Recently introduced, the “Renew,” is made using plastic from recycled water bottles and can be completely recycled.

Nokia's Eco Sensor - Equipped with a wearable sensor unit with wrist or neck strap made of solar power cells as its power source, it can analyze your health, environment, and local weather conditions simultaneously. It's still in the "concept" stage, so don't look for it anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Good Enuff" Production Values - A New Model of Social Media Production

Been on a rant recently about a new production option for the social web in face of ubiquitous, cheaper, faster "Good Enuff" technologies like camera phones and laptop editware.

This tech democracy is amplifying how wasteful micro-site development (just make a really hype MySpace page or YouTube Channel with widgeted contents and plow all your budget into savvy media buys) and the overly produced "viral" video is. On YouTube, people probably don't care about our craft. So get to the idea quick(er), cheap(er). Stop pursuing perfect and make it "Good Enuff".

"Good Enuff" isn't just for users, it enables us marketers to shoot more ideas fast(er), cheap(er) instead of rolling all our energies into a single overly produced "perfect" idea that just may fail. So fail fast(er). And fail cheap(er).

At the Social, good ideas are still seen as good ideas as long as production values are "good enuff" (Can they see it? Check? Can they hear it? Good, ship it and see how it fares on YouTube and Digg). And bad ideas aren't made any better on the social web because they were shot expensively (honestly all that gloss goes over the heads of low bandwidth viewers who are skeptical of commercial gloss).

Success at The Social dictates that it is best to fail fast(er) and cheap(er) and Try, Try Again till you strike the right "viral" chord (the more important pursuit).

Below is an interesting user-gen commercial for Trader Joes - shot on a handheld Palm Treo. 212,491 views so far on YouTube.

Target Women Redux

Google Analytics shows that the Target:Women post a few months ago is popular. So let me milk it with another sure-to-be popular post of newer Target:Women episodes from CurrentTV.

Target Women: Diets

Target Women: Online Dating

Target Women: Lessons 2008

Friday, February 13, 2009

What "Kittens, Inspired By Kittens" Teaches Us

The daughter of Fallon's own ECD Al Kelly has confounded much of our agency "viral" science in recent days with her unexpected and cute lil' YouTube vid entitled "Kittens, Inspired By Kittens".

In only a few days "Kittens..." has garnered over 300K views, made boingboing, Cute Overload,trended #3 top shared link last nite on Twitter, YouTube honors now incl #3 - Most Responded (Today) Pets & Animals, #13 - Most Responded (This Week) - Pets & Animals category.

Now, the reason this video is confounding to a strategist at an ad agency: it's all serendipity, folks, no budget, no client, no strategy, no objective intent - just Al Kelly sharing the infectious joy of his 6-year-old girl reading a childrens' book. That's the brief simple and plain. Either she's way smarter than us strategerists, or we're way overthinking it sometimes.

The success of "Kittens..." (and hundreds of goofy vids like it) often flies in the face of much of our well-produced, branded, and strategized factory "virals". So what gives? Is "viral" still just a roll of the dice - particularly for brands? Do we embrace the more-faster-cheaper ethos that drives the users? Do we recruit 6-year-olds to generate ideas for us? Do we get her to replicate the magic - this time for a brand? And it makes me wonder, if we had pitched "Kittens..." to a client would they ever have approved it? And if a client would've approved "Kittens..." would they have added too many brand mandatories that would slow down its "viral" appeal?

I do think we may learn 7 applicable lessons from "Kittens..." to add into our "viral video" toolbox for surefire success:
1) Embrace Silly - stupid is ok, too! (serendipity)
2) Getit?Gotit?Good. - make it a fast, easy "get": a girl reading a childrens book about kittens - got it. (science)
3) Embrace 'Good Enough' - shoot it fast and cheap, poor production value is good enough as long as they see it and hear it. (science)
4) Tap an emotional core that people want to share in spreading - people are immediately on this girl's side, we want to help her succeed at this book report. (serendipity)
5) Add Cute Kid - like Billy Dee Williams always said: "Works every time!"(science)
6) Add Cute Kittens (science)
7) Try, Try Again - rinse and repeat the above - the old broadcast method dictated we shoot one big production a year. The YouTube method says shoot more micro ideas and release them freely to the wild. (serendipity)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Generosity Pays Off For iPhone Game Developer

When the iPhone game ‘Whack'em All’ was hacked, the developer engaged the game’s hacker instead of taking an aggressive stance. The dialogue had a surprising effect. Sales increased 100%, pirates donated money and the game is now available free of charge.

Here is a link to the article:

And here is a video demonstration of the game; if you're curious:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Present Like Steve Jobs

If you haven't seen Steve Jobs present, you're missing out. The link below is one of the best and simplest videos I've seen on how to create great presentations. It takes selections from the MacWorld 2008 presentation and shows you what Jobs did to make it great. There's setting your theme and creating headlines, showing passion and using visuals, making numbers meaningful and what we so too often forget: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. No matter where you are along the road toward great presentations, this is worth seven minutes of your time.

Notice who's in the intro ad: Eric Ryan from Method (a previous Fallonite).

And, if you haven't explored, it's worthwhile, too.

Eco-Metrics: Part 1

Monitor your energy use or carbon footprint with these iPhone and/or Android apps.


MeterRead - Reduce the amount of energy you are using by monitoring it. Keep tabs on your electric meters.

Recycler - Quick access to what kind of plastics can be included in your recycling bin.

Local Reuse - Reuse stuff you no longer want by giving it to others who need it.

GreenMeter - Designed to help you adjust your driving habits in order to reduce CO2 emissions and save you money on gas. App measure forward acceleration, computes engine power and fuel economy, fuel cost, carbon footprint, and oil consumption.


SugarTrip - (coming soon) Helps you avoid traffic jams so you save carbon emissions. Using the GPS unit in the phone, it measures how quickly you’re traveling. Users can plan their trips according to where traffic is located, helping to cut back on pollution by avoiding idling.

Ecorio - Carbon footprint calculator that track your movement. Mode of travel choices include automobile, public transit and bicycle.
- “RIO” Reduce, Inspire, and Offset.

  • “Reduce” suggests carpool options via Zimride, a service that matches up drivers and passengers who wish to use less fuel by traveling together instead of as one.
  • “Inspire” feature offers a Twitter-like social networking to communicate with other Ecorio users. Tapping a user’s profile icon displays their location and how many pounds of emissions they’re responsible for so far.
  • “Offset,” which links to a site that accepts credit cards to purchase offsets from Carbonfund.

And finally, read about how Google is planning to enter the Eco-Metrics arena.

The New Optimism: 'Yes We Can' Advertising Abounds

In this time of crisis/recession/fear, advertising is fostering themes of hope and shiny optimism.

Monday, February 09, 2009

What Gift Would You Buy?

As I was searching for information on the book Wired to Care by Dev Patnaik, I came across this link to an interview with Dev and Business Week. The title is Empathy Loves Company, and it's worth listening to for the couple of minutes. Here's my favorite idea from the interview, which is also written in the book:

Mercedes was trying to market to younger Americans. Some 20-somethings were brought into their offices. Each of the executives were asked to interview one of the 20-something-year-olds for 30 minutes. The interviewee could bring photos or anything else they wanted to share in order for the executive to get to know them better. After the interview, the executive went out and bought a gift for the person they interviewed. The executive was rated on how well the interviewee liked the gift.

How well do you know your customers—whoever they are? Customers aren't found in PowerPoint slides. They're found face-to-face on the street. Do you know your customers well enough to be able to buy them a gift? That gift isn't your product. If you can't figure out what gift they'd like, how can you get to know them better so you can? What would they really want?

More info on the book at:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

New York Times' Interactive Graphs

On the day Barack Obama was elected President, the New York Times introduced an interactive poll they called the “Word Train.” It asked one simple question: What one word describes your current state of mind? Readers could enter an adjective or select from a menu of options. They could specify whether they supported McCain or Obama. The results appeared in six rows of adjectives, scrolling left to right, coded red or blue, and descending in font size. The larger the word, the more people felt that way. Throughout the entire day a river of emotions flowed through the chart. You could click from Obama to McCain and watch the letters shift gradually from blue to red, the mood change from energized, proud, and overwhelmed to horrified, ambivalent, disgusted, and numb.

Recently, the New York Times created another interactive feature that harvested all Twitter chatter surrounding the Super Bowl. By pressing play on this graph, the reader is able to watch the location and frequency of commonly used words during the Super Bowl. In all, there are six different categories to choose from including, “Talking about Ads.”

These features have proven to pull readers closer through comments and interactivity, rendering the relationship between reporter and audience more intimate, immediate, and exposed. Of the massive 20 million unique visitors per month compared with the daily print edition’s readership of 2.8 million, the readers are flocking to these interactive features. As Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor puts it, “We’re trying very hard to protect it [the interactive features], because that’s where the action is.”

For an advertising or marketing agency the implications for these interactive maps/graphs are big. The ability to get real-time answers about our products or services has existed for sometime now; think twitter, online forums, live chat…but not in this way. These interactive graphs create an entertainment value and coolness factor for the user while generating a visually appealing way to aggregate all their messages, emotions, or displeasure's about a brand, product, or service and communicate it back to the client in a simple way.

Here are links to some others:

And the link to the article about the people who create these graphs: