Category Archives: Innovation

The Role of Digital R&D and Experimentation

Agencies will thrive in the future and survive the in-house plus commodity services migration path of marketers by developing capabilities allowing them to keep pace with consumers. They will apply these tools, skills and talents to generating superior insights, inspired manifestations and communications born from these insights and  real-time responsiveness to the market reactions to them. We get there through Digital R&D and Experimentation. I think I can end the post here–that’s my belief, thesis and praxis. Looking forward to sharing how we live it over the coming posts. Credit to PepsiCo’s Bonin Bough for inspiring:

Paraphrasing a quote within: “We’re in a state in marketing where..we need to do more [digital R&D] experimentation. Any executive can have a gut reaction to a TV spot. You can argue that’s b/c they buy a lot of media but most likely its b/c they’re a consumer of advertising and have seen and experimented with a lot of spots. Executives across organizations don’t have that gut reaction to digital and social media. We need to know when you mix Chlorine and Benzine it explodes.”

Dirty Brand Secret (video)

for the love of cleanOn Thursday, January 20, 2011 Method Brand Co-Founder+Chief Brand Architect and evangelist, Eric Ryan, dropped by our offices to take on our current theme of Social Mission/Causes. You can’t talk about Method as a brand without punctuating it with their rallying cry “People Against Dirty.” Or, said in the affirmative via their tagline: “for the love of clean.” Slogans that are rallying cries and tag lines that convey passion? These are more than just tools for a company with the stated goal of being “in business to change business.” In the hour or so that Eric spent with us he shared how this inside-out approach to their brand has driven revenues and retail success along with employee and consumer passion to the level of starting a small movement. And, as we’ve seen of late in global news, if you’re taking on established, incumbent power you need a different tool kit and approach. Continue reading

Design Happiness

WarmGun 2010 Designing HappinessOn Friday 10/08/10 Dave McClure (follow) of 500 Hats (blog) & 500 Start-ups (angel) hosted the “Warm Gun” design conference. Original in many ways, this event emphasized design from a usability and technical perspective and still managed to be about design. You can pull down the slideware from Slideshare.net/warmgun and view the videos at Ustream.tv –Developer path is /warmgun and Designers are /warmgun2

Big takeaways for me: an enormous amount of design and marketing talent lies deep within the walls of every major digital media and service provider. They’re thinking broadly about the implications of their data and usability across channels, in different media and devices as well as within different contexts. The new breed may have more science than art in their make-up, or at least more than they may have had to express in previous generations. And, as with every walk of creative life, they’re generally open, curious, opinionated and a lot of fun to be around.

As marketers expand their skillsets and embrace their inner-publisher/media-mogul by necessity, they’ll find a well-trained workforce available in the Valley. That’s not to say there won’t be competition, simply that there’s a farm-league for this talent within hundreds of digital companies and agencies. And, they’re really smart, connected and resourceful. Tip of a hat to Dave McClure and Christen O’Brien for bringing us together.

The entire event’s tweetstream is available via new aggregating service, Curated.by—if you’re an event organizer be sure to check them out!

And, as the event had the heart, imagination and inspiration of John Lennon who would have turned 70 on conference date, here’s a tribute video in honor of the Man and the Idea:

Weekly Round-Up 10/04/10

Social Media

Apple

AOL Acquisitions

Also:

  • 5min media video acquired for $65mm
  • AOL acquires Thing Labs founded by Jason Shellen — Congratulations to Jason and team as he continues his winning streak building great value and bringing it into a larger platform (past wins include Google Reader, greenlighting FeedBurner at Google and Blogger with Biz & Ev).

Google

Live a Refresh Challenge

Last month I got the chance to get involved with a Pepsi Refresh cause to raise money for a great cause, the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. The prize is $500k–between the $250,000-level funding from Pepsi Refresh and a matching grant from The Pioneer Foundation–just for tweeting and texting. We came in third in a race that changed hands several times on the last day of voting and in which only the top two vote earners win funding. Through the process of supporting this cause I earned an intimate view of the idea, mechanism and vision of Pepsi Refresh. We’re in the running again this month, leading the voting so far. I’ll share some impressions below and invite you to get familiar with the program as the new rules of marketing require every brand to have some form of Social Mission in its brand expression. Pepsi Refresh is the gold-standard expression.

Clear Call To Action

Please get familiar with the Pepsi Refresh project by signing up today now. You can login with your Facebook account or create an account using email. Go ahead. We’ll wait. When you are done voting, please return and post your action and any impressions in the comments below. See instructions below for voting daily as well as sample tweets you can use to promote this to your network.

To get the full impact of this program, go beyond voting to promoting. When you do this you’ll see an emotional connection that happens in the process of helping out a worthy cause. More than the brand impressions enhancing their Share Of Voice in SocialMedia, I believe Pepsico is benefiting from the positive brand transference of this emotional association and connection.

About Pepsi Refresh

Pepsi Refresh got famous as news outlets picked up on Pepsico’s decision to skip a Super Bowl ad for 2010. Media reports implied Pepsi used the marketing dollars to fund the Refresh Everything initiative instead. Moving funds from TV to SocialMedia was unheard of and considered bold, visionary and as with any marketing innovation, was also met with some skepticism. Nine months, 160 funded ideas and nearly $7 million in charitable grants later the evidence is falling on the side of vision over skepticism. Pepsico has announced plans to roll out Refresh Everything globally and support the program in the US for at least another year. In a recap post for this challenge I’ll share more of the mechanics and an interview with Pepsico’s Bonin Bough about the program.

About IRSF:

The International Retts Syndrome Foundation funds research to cure this tragic disease which strikes 15-months to 12 years old girls to various degrees with autistic-spectrum afflictions. As it progresses girls lose speech, motor control and eventually can not live unassisted. The amazing thing about IRSF is that their efforts in funding medical research has actually produced to my knowledge the first –identified marker at the chromosome level which advances this from the “needle in the haystack” research activity to a focused drive to a cure. Breakthroughs for IRSF will also likely open doors more broadly for the treatment of neurological diseases.

On a personal note: Christian McMahan and John Corpus are two friends with daughters the same age as mine. Each as wonderful, both with Retts. We need a cure.

Small acts, Short time, Big deal:
We can make a big difference by getting our networks to vote for the IRSF cause on the Pepsi Refresh Everything program. The prize from Pepsi is $250k and IRSF has secured an additional $250k in matching grant from The Pioneer Foundation. So, you have the ability to raise $500k for this cause just by doing what we do.

There are a lot of worthy and motivated causes gunning for the two top $250k spots. We don’t take any of their resourcefulness or networks for granted. We need help getting people to do two things:

  1. Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/rettresearchtoreality and vote every day for our cause between now and September 30
  2. Text 100842 to Pepsi (73774) on any mobile device; standard text messaging rates apply


We’re confident with your support we can maintain our top spot (see http://www.refresheverything.com/leaderboard) and win the prize.

Here are a couple of potential tweets for you to use in promoting:

  • Join me in finding a CURE for 1000’s of girls w/Rett Syndrome by voting now! http://pep.si/4irsf & txt 100842 to 73774. pls rt!
  • Vote IRSF @Pepsico Refresh daily to 9/30 we can win $500k w/matching grants! http://pep.si/4irsf & txt 100842 to 73774. pls rt!
  • Vote to cure Retts @Pepsico Refresh now & daily to 9/30-we may win $500k for a cure! http://pep.si/4irsf & txt 100842 to 73774. pls rt!

Relevance through constant reinvention

In two unrelated acts I found myself reacting to the work of our business in very different ways. It’s really a story of where advertising has been and where marketing is headed. Our main characters are Delta Airlines and Red Bull. Maybe you already see where this is going…

I was compelled to comment on AdWeek’s column by Barbara Lippert reviewing Delta’s new “Climb” advertising as much because of the advertising content as for the product it’s trying to represent in a positive light. Unfortunately, Delta and many other old-line airlines have been re-framed by newer and more relevant airlines like Virgin America, my current favorite, through a series of continual micro-innovations including: in-seat USB & DC power supply; in-flight wifi; seatback ondemand entertainment systems; microbrews and beverages of this decade/year/month; and more surely to come. These should be easily replicated commodity benefits for the industry to defy attempts at re-framing, but instead they respond with extra baggage fees and these ads/cinematic masterpieces.

Lippert quotes the famous David Ogilvy line to which I subscribe, “the fastest way to kill a bad product is to give it good advertising.” Eric Ryan, at Method Products–another company defined more by innovation than an advertising artifice–like to say advertising is a tax for sucking. Real Branding should be the honest, multi-faceted, self-aware expression of the most dramatic truths about a brand. In these spots, we get only some commodity industry truths and very little about what makes Delta special–because it isn’t. Ultimately, Delta has no recourse but to create big, interruptive and, yes, beautiful distractions to carry their brand advertising, because their brand truths simply don’t stick or attract you. They have to interrupt you because you wouldn’t invest the time to hear their false case any other way.

In Contrast:

I was just as compelled to post this video to my Facebook wall. Really, nothing to add here except this: Red Bull consistently creates engagements with super-influential categories and associations that inspire in all ways, from the Idea to execution. I was cheering for The Clutch at the end of this piece. I wanted to watch and share. I was drawn to the story and inspired by this piece of marketing. I look forward to how Red Bull will inspire us next and in what compelling form. I feel the power of their truth in their deeds, actions and expressions.

Red Bull gives wings to inspired marketing and represents the new marketing model in which “Above the Line” and “Below the Line” are all one line:

  • where any act can inspire and add to your brand’s marketing fame
  • where advertising draws you in and invites you to stick around versus interrupting like a loud, rude–albeit good looking–guest
  • where a local-market tactic can project as large as a national spot
  • where truths are core and essential and lies are exposed or simply ignored
  • where digital and social aren’t just media or a channel, but core to connecting and discovery with new brand recruits

It’s an example of the dynamic of “Magnetism” which you’ll hear more about more frequently here. Welcome your thoughts and contributions.

Weekly Round-Up 9/20/10

appnationApps/Mobile: Perhaps in honor of Drew Ianni’s successfully launching the AppNation Conference/Empire September 13-14 in San Francisco, it seems like most of the round-up is flavored with Mobile/Apps news, even in those that relate to Acquisitions, Apple and Facebook. Here are some App-related news inspired by the event:

Faux FB Phoney Facebook:

Apple

Social Media

Killer Apps:

Do Androids Dream?

In Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“–better known for its 1982 Blade Runner film adaptation–the title refers to the empathetic aspect of humans for animals that Androids lack. As our devices and the algorithm gets closer to replicating our brains and appearance the novel explores deep ethical questions arise about what is human and therefore how they should be treated. I won’t take the tangent, but it’s worth giving the nod to how this line of thinking relates to current debates around equality working its way through the courts today in California. Back to the post at hand, there’s a genius and an irony to Google’s novel reference through the Android name in their development for our most personal, connected devices–the mobile platform. Unlike our PCs and web browsers where we taught/teach the search algorithm mainly through intent (search) and behaviors (clicks) billions of times a day, on mobile we begin to expose more of us to the algorithm. In our voice inflections and dialects combined with our location, calendars and real-life friends, expressed in time on the phone and in person, we’re teaching the algorithm our more intimate aspects of those people, places and things we care about most. The mobile platform is a feeder system of millions of devices serving billions of transactions/interactions into a smarter and more intuitive cloud-based algorithm. So, perhaps in time Androids will dream and awake.

In the meantime enjoy snacking on this teaser video for the new Samsung Android-based Galaxy Tab tablet debuting in Europe next month:

A VCs Take on Pepsico10

We spoke with Michael Gaiss, Sr Vice President out of Boston for Highland Capital Partners, July 28 at Pepsico10 about HCP’s role in the event, some impressions and themes. We also did a quick follow-on interview to see how HCP qualifies investments for emerging technology companies and how that can align with how marketers make bets in new spaces. We’ll present the follow-up in a future post.

Here’s our video interview with summary notes below:

Continue reading

More from Pepsico10

At Pepsico10 held at Pepsi’s Purchase Headquarters on July 27-28 we had a chance to connect with Ann Mooney, 18-year veteran from P&G, Former Pampers North America Brand Director and CEO of Rising Moon Consulting. In her keynote presentation to Pepsico marketers, Ann ran through a number of trends in technology materially changing the experience, expectations and relationship with consumers. Continue reading