Monthly Archives: February 2009

We want less facts, more stories


Image courtesy Aint Life Grand

The most important person in an upscale restaurant is not the chef or the waiter – it is the sommelier. Sure, the quality of food is important and an excellent service equally. But, frankly, that’s the price of entry. The real difference maker is the sommelier: A great sommelier will transform your great meal into a memorable experience. How?

As a sommelier, you have two choices: You can overwhelm me with facts about geography, grapes and climate. And bore me to death. Or, you can tell me a story about the wine. Something infotaining, details about the wine or winemaker, insider information. My local wine store does a great job coming up with little stories, facts and fiction that warm my heart and make me want to taste that wine immediately.

Brands need people more than people need brands. And, people don’t need facts from brands. They have Google. Your brand objective should be to tell a story. A story that’s memorable. That can be shared. And spread. Brands without stories mean nothing and without any engaging stories people have nothing to talk about.


It’s the end of the world as we know it


And I feel fine.

Why? Shouldn’t we be scared? BofA and Citi completely insolvent (Don’t trust one word of their CEO’s: Both institutions are dead in the water. The only question is how their shells will be propped up for a while.), the government clueless how to deal with these ongoing massive, financial tsunamis, Detroit basically done and unemployment increasing to scary levels. And, even worse, the real pain is still to come. 

So, why am I fine? Because this is not a typical recession. Or even depression. It’s a global shift in everything the capitalistic world believed in for the last decades. This can only be compared to the Continental Drift: an event that will transform us and our world for generations to come. And it will take at least one generation to adjust to the changes and come to grips with the idea that this transformation is permanent:

  • Large, decentralized corporations will disappear. These organizations were built for overconsumption, price pressure and cheap production. Micro-production is the future. Goodbye Detroit. Welcome to thousands of small car companies.
  • Destruction will be replaced with collaboration.We won’t destroy competition, nature or other nations to achieve our goals. It’s too costly, not efficient and goes against everything humans are wired for. Goodbye Wall Street. Hello Main Street.
  • Strategy will be replaced by mini-experimentation. Wars needed strategy. The 21st century economy needs mini-initiatives, mini-tests that continually evolve businesses. Goodbye Accenture. Hello lab operation.
  • Faking value will be replaced by real value. What’s the difference between Crest and Total? Exactly. But there’s a huge difference between an Apple and Dell experience. Goodbye advertising. Hello value creation.
  • Productivity will be replaced by creativity. We’ve had dumb growth for too long. We need sustainable, resilient growth. Goodbye China. Hello new world.

The 20th century was about consuming stuff. The 21st century will be about consuming ideas. Consuming stuff is too hard on the planet, laborers in the 3rd world and our wallet. Consuming ideas will still create a value chain but a value chain that’s more adjusted to changing the business world. Slowly, we see these idea consumption models popping up: Think Nike Plus. Think Twitter. Think Wikis.

We’re at Ground Zero. Things will get worse in the next few years. Much worse. But out of this destruction will come a new world. And the world we now know will be gone and in a few decades we’ll shake our heads and think: How did we ever believe these were the good times?

Hang in there. And create new ideas.

Location, Location, Location: The future of mobile advertising

I’ll be moderating a panel at SXSW about mobile advertising. Good group of people on the panel, see the description below:

Most people groan at the thought of advertising on their mobile phone and rail against the idea as 24/7 marketing. But is it possible that mobile advertising could be something that consumers enjoy? the panel will explore this dichotomy, what it takes to ‘get it right’ in this burgeoning industry.

Room C

Tuesday, March 17th

3:30 pm 4:30 pm

Sam Altman CEO,   Loopt Inc

Bud Caddell Strategist,   Undercurrent

Denny Reinert Dir IA Ad Sales,   Navteq

Tina Unterlaender AKQA

If you’re interested, mark it on the SXSW calendar

Denny’s – The bridge from traditional to new media


Today’s clear Superbowl Ad winner was Denny’s. Not because their commercial made me laugh. Not because their commercial was so commercial. Not because I admire Denny’s and love everything they do. No, they won because they will make the country talk. Talk about their free breakfast on Tuesday. Tapping into the mood of the country and understanding that brands have to add value. Lend a helping hand. 

Last year this wouldn’t have worked. Too many people walked by Denny’s just thinking they’ve outgrown this rather unhealthy food. But today? A free meal goes a long way. For everybody. But, they better execute this well. The staff better be prepared for major lines and they need to execute flawlessly. Looking at Denny’s SEM strategy (none), their IT strategy (Site crashed, as we speak, Denny’s is looking for a new IT vendor), their Facebook strategy (none, they market the AllNighter) and their Twitter strategy (Still promoting that AllNighter) I’m concerned that a good advertising campaign leads to ultimate disappointment. 

Everybody can have a great idea. Only a few can turn great ideas into great executions.