Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Reindeer Creed From One Of The Greats

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dear Brands...People Are Starving For Stories

Instead of trying to find the new new thing. instead of to trying to change people, perhaps more time can be spent what is worked since the dawn of time.

In the new media world, we are guilt of taking things that are niche, fringe and unproven to our clients just to show how edgy and shiney we are. The worst thing of all, they are usually geeky things like Twitter and Blogging that we and are friends use when most of their target market do not live in the interactive marketing world. Sure, the people who use things could *spark* ideas but that is hardly a big platform idea.

We need to very often step out of downtown New York and Silicon Vallery (they are fringe mindsets) and spend more time where the rest of world lives.

The reality is more new ideas fail than succeed. As mentioned in a previous post, if Hotmail can die, so can Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. By definition, whatever is cool right now, will not be cool very soon. The cool crowd talking up those things pride themselves being on the new new thing all time - so you will notice they have a pattern of dropping and picking up.

So it takes me back to ideas, stories and characters. Start there. Don't start with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Weak stories, weak characters and weak premise are still all of those things when you put them on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace... and blog about it.

The reality is this. People are putting their brand content in the easiest places for people to access in your home. But people still commute to a movie theatre and pay $11 just for the hope of seeing a good story told well with memorable characters. Do the brands that are trying to sell them listen ? No.

For an example of the use of story and character to engage people. Really pay attention to the story line in this Kelly Clarkson video. (Because you are reading a blog, you are put in the box as a hater. Try and break out of that of being someone who is aware of what the masses want.)

This video has had 20 million plus views. So by a real qualification, it is popular.

Because Of You

Dear Brands..

It does not matter how good looking you make your product in a commercial. Your "commercial" is a product pitch that we will not be forwarding to friends no matter what social network you upload it to. We want you to tell us a story first and only once that is done FIRST, then we will pay attention to you and your product.

Sarah The Consumer

So, the question should not be "Is this ad on brand?" it should be "Is this truly on consumer?". Then once we have their hearts and minds, what can they do for us. That is the new value exchange of the marketing world people and brands live in. 

Troy Benton

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Lucky Holiday Buck Off

Looking for some Holiday themed, user generated fun and games? Lucky Brand Jeans have incorporated some cheer into their latest promotion, the Lucky Holiday Buck Off.

Users can upload a picture of themselves (or their friends) on to the face of a little elf through a flash interface. The objective is to use the keyboard to buck yourself off the green nosed Rudolph, and try to score one of the coupons for up to 30% off.

Here's a screen shot of me trying to buck former house minority leader Tom DeLay. Eat snowbank, Velvet Hammer!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Facebook: Looking Forward

Hotmail... Remember that ? Wow. 400 million active users down to obscurity. How is that achieved ? Hotmail then, was far bigger than Facebook is now. You travel outside the 3 coasts of New York, LA and Chicago and Facebook is not the "go to" that Hotmail was. I guess it just proves that because you are catching on like wild fire and growing huge numbers, does not necessarily guarantee you will be around forever. As they say, whatever is "cool" now is the butt of everyone's jokes in years to come.

The problem that companies like Facebook face in the future is that the low barrier to entry they enjoy now - the web, easy sign up etc - becomes the threat a competitor poses in the future. So, the strategy is that once someone is "in", you do everything you can to increase the reasons for them not to "go".

Facebook are doing this in two ways:

- Increasing social ties
The thinking is that the more social ties you have - friends - the more Facebook will become as critical as your cell phone for staying in contact with people.

- Increasing share of your "digital life"
The idea is that the more "content" you have hosted on Facebook, the more reason you have to stay with them because the effort of uploading it all elsewhere becomes too big. So, they become your digital scrapbook of memories that you start becoming attached to and protective of.

In the past, we have shown ourselves to be a fickle lot. We have all been guilty of abandoning virtual homes before and we will all do it again. If Facebook is betting on social ties and the hosting of content as being the reason we will stay forever, I would be holding off putting any of your 401k there when they IPO.

I think, however, the future of Facebook could be a much more uncool, unsexy route. They have built an incredible application platform that makes it easy for users to connect to various sources of information and services. If Facebook could see where people spend a lot of their money - ie wireless bills, cable, energy etc - and become the easier way to pay, add and manage those bills, Facebook could finally become something they would like to be which is...

Something we need, not just something we want.

A great clear morning in New York by the way. Love this city. Goal of the day is to drink more water.