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, May 27, 2008

Tagging People At The Airport

While I was sitting at the Orlando International Airport with a few hours to kill before my flight yesterday, thought it would be interesting to write about my experience from the morning.

Prelude to the story: think about how much airport security blows. The hassles, the lines…must be an easier way, right?

When I flew out of Orlando, first thing I noticed was that security was divided up based on your ‘ranking’ as a traveler- Family, Casual, and Expert. There are a few airports experimenting with this (more deets), but this was the first time I’ve seen it first hand. After making a quick and probably unfair assessment of the three lines, I decided Expert was probably the route I should take even though I’m not sure I am one. But I kept an eye on how things were going in each line to see if this segregation was actually working and making security a less problematic process.

Overall I think it worked quite well (for most people). For me, especially after having a horrific security experience at another airport a couple weeks ago, have to say I was loving the ease of the experience.

As you would expect, the smoothest sailing of the 3. Everyone in this line had no more than two (compact) bags, said little or nothing at all to fellow passengers (even the ones who appeared to be traveling in pairs or groups). Plenty of casually dressed people in this line, many college-age and twenty-somethings. Lack of business suited-up professionals was likely due to it being a holiday, but not surprisingly its not hard to pick out the business travelers.

The flow of the line was fast, faster, fastest. If you didn’t know the motions, people cut in front of you. Asked to go through the metal detector again? TSA agents asked you to step aside so more experienced and seasoned travelers could breeze through while you got your shit together (and no, I didn’t have to go through a second time). If you weren’t fast in collecting your stuff after it went through the X-Ray, people pushed things aside in order to grab their gear and get the hell out of there. A cold and efficient machine overall, and I can’t say that I minded one bit. From the time I stepped into line till I got my bag and was walking to the gate—approx 5 minutes (and it was fairly crowded, too).

An interesting observation- there were many people (mostly younger, but even some older) who hesitated noticeably between the Expert and Casual line. I saw people look at both signs, look at each other, move towards one line but still keeping an eye on the other, wondering if they were in fact “experts”. It also appeared that since many people who normally travel for business were, today, traveling for a holiday, they seemed to be torn as to whether they were still considered an Expert on this day. In my opinion, “expert” may not have been the right tag, as the majority of people probably wouldn’t use that word to describe themselves (just like even truly wealthy people often don’t consider themselves as such).

The line appeared to be just about as smooth as the Expert line, but moved slower as many people had larger bags, or multiple bags, and I noticed many more people being asked to go through security a second time. Relatively little to none of the line-jumping or “please-step-aside” attitudes of the Expert line. TSA agents seemed slightly (but not much) more patient, speed was a little more relaxed and there wasn’t a break-neck race to gather your stuff after X-Ray.

Absolute chaos. Children screaming, little boys who didn’t want to give up their back packs or toys, Mothers trying to hold two kids at once while trying to take off their own shoes and jewelry, Dad’s trying to wrangle 5 or 6 bags up onto the conveyor, many times realizing that one or more of their bags was in fact too big to fit. Getting through the metal detector seemed to be an ordeal for many, as kids were either too excited and ran through without their parents, or hesitated and didn’t want to put their toys on the conveyer or in the bins. I saw TSA agents waiting patiently for people and rarely hurrying or snapping at anyone (not sure if this is always the case, though).

The frustration of various families didn’t seem to be directed at others but rather at themselves- for their kids behavior (perhaps feeling like others would assume they didn’t have control of their kids), for making a mistake and going through the detector with keys in their pockets, for dropping a bag off the conveyor after it went through X-Ray. I think the biggest difference was that travelers in the Family line seemed to be the most willing to accept the mistakes of other travelers, maybe because they were cognizant of the fact that they themselves were often holding up the line and creating bottle-necks in the process.

**I found it pretty interesting to be a part of, and it seemed that for most people around me, this was the first time they had encountered such a system, too. I can say that, in overhearing snippets of conversations in the Expert line, people seemed quite happy that the separations were in place.

Anyone else have any experiences to relate? A few other airports have similar systems- do you think this type of setup works? Or does it create a further divide between experts and novice travelers? Between first class and coach?

And from a brand perspective, what role could an airline potentially play here- if any?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Planning For Good 24 Hour Challenge at AAAA Planning Conference

Planning For Good (PfG) will head up a 24-Hour Challenge at this year's AAAA Account Planning Conference. Junior Planners (under 5 years experience) will be invited to work on a team, with a Planning Director mentor, to solve a problem for a worthy cause. 2 non-profits will brief participants, Kiva and Witness. To participate, sign up for "Real Time Crafting" workshop when you send in your AAAA app and fees. Also note which cause you wish to work on (Kiva or Witness).

-You will need to arrive early on Saturday nite before the conference so that you can be briefed on Sunday at 9am
-You will work for 8 hours only to create a solution and a low tech, flip chart presentation. Note: You won't miss any of the conference!
-Kiva and Witness, as well as Planning For Good leadership team, will listen to private presentations by the teams on Sunday evening. A winning solution will be chosen for each cause.
-The work with be showcased and presented at an event sponsored by Good Magazine on the Tuesday evening of the conference.

What is Planning For Good?

1600+ of the brightest minds in advertising want to collaborate with good causes and make a difference.

Planning For Good’s mission is to bring strategic marketing help to not-for-profit organizations by leveraging a global network of communications planners and strategists from the worlds of advertising and branding (over 1,670 members to-date).

Planning For Good leverages the power of social networks (Bloggr, Facebook) to connect and collaborate monthly on a specific communication problem for a non-profit. A collection of this thinking is harvested then presented back to the non-profit. To date, we've responded to project briefs for Unicef, Live Earth, and Idea Village in New Orleans.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bed feeling a little empty? How about a virtual girlfriend?

NYU student Drew Barrows recently unveiled a new invention he devised to combat the loneliness he'd been feeling as of late. Called INBED, he brought his idea out at the Interactive Telecommunications Program Spring Show at the Tisch School of the Arts.

A few excerpts on how it works:

"INBED, an “infrared-sensitive” light projected virtual girlfriend"

So what is it exactly? It’s a single mattress with an attractive brunette who is perfectly quiet. So far sounds like a good girlfriend! Once you sit or lie down on the mattress, she will respond to your every move."

New York Magazine explains, “Lie on your back, she snuggles up right next to you in a log position. Curl up in the fetal position, she spoons. The only hitch: She’s 2-D."

Odd? No doubt. But I imagine there's a market of lonely guys out there who might get down with something like this. Even though its not real, its the idea itself that I think could find it some success- someone waiting for you to come to bed. It's a comforting thought and helps in part to meet our needs for deep emotional connections with other people. And while this invention can't (nor does its inventor want) to replace the actual thing, the mind has a funny way of believing and seeing what it wants. I bet that if you were that lonely, even the appearance of someone waiting for you could be a soothing thought.

via TrendHunter

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Politics 2.0: Things Younger Than McCain

I don't care if it is "age-ist", I'm loving this blog. It's not just how many things McCain is older than (I'm sure that list is much longer than any blog could ever cover off), but it's the odd things they've found that make it so entertaining.

My favorite so far? McCain is older than plutonium. I don't know why that's so funny to me, but it is.

Peep the blog for yourself and find your favorite younger-than-McCain goodie.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Humanitarian Lion Project

Found this last night thanks to a guy I'm following on Twitter named @johnny_bones...

Great idea. Seems like a cool way to encourage/standardize efforts like the Tap Project. Not sure how far along they are but this vid was posted to YouTube on May 5 (so what were YOU doing to change the world this past Cinco de Mayo?).

I'll see about getting Fallon to help them out. Look for updates here on the Planning Blog.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Politics 2.0: Senator Mike Gravel Tries His Luck With Obama Girl

New from the guys at Barely Political, just over 112K views since it was added yesterday. The haters will hate, but BP and OG still do appear to be drawing at least a few eyeballs for their efforts.

Some of this one in particular is just painful to watch (like hearing Gravel stumble his way through an already lame rhyme) or the attempt at some sort of Soulja Boy steps near the end.

But whatev- its a Thursday afternoon and around that time when people start to hit the wall. It's good for a few laughs.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

ROFLCon Musings

Just because it wasn’t a high school student council conference, doesn’t mean it didn’t feel like one. For serious. I used to attend those. The “it” I am referring to was the ROFLCon conference in Cambridge, MA. The energy was palpable. I hit up the conference and have a few take-aways to impart.

It should be duly noted that this conference has already been documented within an inch of its life. Between Twitter and blogs and video and and and…. The focus on the immediate can hardly be overstated. The play by play of what happened has certainly been delivered, but there were also big ideas discussed.  It is fascinating to consider the way in which our collective responses to provocative ideas are being shaped by the desire, nay the demand of an immediate response. Immediacy fundamentally changes the way in which we respond.

Mostly, what this demand for immediacy underscored for me last week was the inevitable changes it means for brand communications. Especially in the online space, if what you are delivering isn’t “eternal beta,” if it isn’t conversation based --- don’t bother doing it. Really, the propaganda machine is dead. We buried it in the ground next to dinosaurs, nuclear waste, and New Coke. Moving quickly means - you’ve heard it here before - letting go of some control and letting people be in charge. 

What doesn’t get enough attention is the reality of immediacy of action that is required to play. It isn’t about what you are thinking about doing. It is about what you do. During the opening panel there was a discussion surrounding the fluke that Internet celebrity often is, and it was pointed out that everyone on the panel actually did the “stupid shit” that everyone always talks about doing. You can’t win if you aren’t in the game.

And yet, there must be something more. Something beyond “stupid shit” – there is, my friend, there is. It involves a willingness to play by other peoples’ rules. Most brands, in all honestly, aren’t willing to play in the sandbox with the other kids. Other kids smell funny and don’t care that we have color corrected that video for like, hours and hours. Brands need to be respectful and understand the space they are in. As Ben, from Barbarian Group, brought up during the marketers panel, if a brand aims to hold someone’s attention online for a minute, their competition for that minute isn’t their traditional “competitive set” but every single other thing on the internet that people could be doing with that minute. In order to meet this demand brands will need to focus on collaborations. Brands, like people, should have a lot of friends. Play in the same sandbox people. Make nice.

Lastly, as I sat in the panels, I sank a little lower in my seat every time I heard the people talk about how they were doing whatever they were doing because they just loved doing it. Could these people smell the stink of advertising on me? Would the suit I was wearing under my skinny jeans and artfully deconstructed t-shirt be noticed? And then I exhaled; I realized that there is room in this equation for brands that are passionate about what they do. We talk about authenticity, and I think it makes us, collectively nervous. What does authenticity even mean? I don’t know that I have an answer to that one, but I have come to believe that if brands focus on people they will naturally be authentic. The people that built their company, the people that use their products – if they think about themselves as having human attributes and can talk about themselves in a human way, they won’t have to force it. Lets just all start by being a little more human.