Category Archives: creativity

Mass Media Planning vs Community Planning


Many bright people are discussing the idea of Transmedia Planning, an ever-evolving, non-linear brand narrative. Think ‘Lost’: For some (including me) it’s just an entertaining TV show, for others it’s a puzzle they want to solve, just to discover there are more puzzles to be found. And, for the ‘Lost’ fanatics fans it’s an obsession, constantly fed by new theories, facts and factoids fed to them through official and unofficial channels.

Currently, most media is planned around a single idea: Get me this amazing idea and I’ll execute it as a commercial, banner, sticker, print ad – you name it. My first Creative Director always asked the lowly copywriter (me) when he presented his ideas for a commercial: “Does this work as a radio spot? Print ad? Key chain?” (Most of the time it didn’t and I crawled back to my office for another all-nighter.) Our work had to deliver for any educational, age and IQ level. Just like the pyramids. Ask a 5-year old to draw the pyramids and the result won’t be that much different from your own drawings (Be honest!) Sure, there might be more texture, details and finesse. But one glance and everybody gets it. And just a few words come to mind when thinking about pyramids: Slaves, Construction, Sphinx, Pharaohs.


Do you know who this is? No?


Getting closer?


Easier? The overall scene composition might give it away.


These 4 images illustrate that everybody has a different concept of Jesus: Ask 100 people how they would describe Jesus in 5 words and you’ll get an interesting tag cloud. Some overall concepts and ideas (‘Compassion’ anyone?) will be repeated over and over again but each and every person developed their own, personal concept of Jesus. And you will quickly realize that people can handle more than a single core idea. Jesus is more to people than the symbol for ‘Compassion’. For some people he might stand for love. For courage. He might symbolize an oppressive childhood. Indoctrination. World Peace. The Truth. The holy spirit. You take from his story whatever you like. Whatever fits your belief system and values. You create your own Jesus story. Either based on the bible, on historic documents, on interpretations of your priest, on movies. All these channels feed you different story lines. They can never tell the whole story because you tell the story yourself. Since we’re social animals, we are looking for communities that share our values. Without these communities, the idea of Jesus could have never been that successful and all-pervasive. Interacting with people, discussing their understanding of the Bible, experiencing the complexity of the Jesus concept is just so much more powerful than reading the Bible in your living-room. No comparison.

‘Lost’ became a phenomenon because communities adopted the concept. These groups will develop naturally when you offer rich story lines. Well, not always.

People are ready to process much greater complexity, spread info through various platforms and become hypersocial. They are hungry for it. Problem: The kitchen is still cold, remodeling plans being discussed. It’s hard to shift from a one-item menu to a complex 20-course tasting menu. We need to find the right chefs, sommeliers, Maitre D’s and service personnel. And, to make things more complex, we might intend to serve up a 20-course tasting meal but everybody will have a different experience: Some will just have appetizers, some only deserts, some will take your best ingredients and cook something completely new out of it, some will only drink the wine, etc. We basically hope to cook for people that are cooking at the same time. (Mhm, that might be an interesting concept for a restaurant.) It’s complex and messy. But, it’s magic when it all comes together.


Marketers are trawler captains

Every business has two visions: A brand vision and a daily vision.

As the foundation of the whole organization, the brand vision rarely changes, drives the overall strategy of the company and informs employees, customers and people what the businesses stands for. Daily visions are decisions that are made in the process of doing business. Circumstances tend to determine daily visions.

Vital and healthy businesses are driven by brand visions. Daily visions are just another expression of their brand vision. Every decision falls into line with the the overall vision.

Any business driven by daily visions, small emergencies and political battles is in deep trouble. Everybody forgot the brand vision, if there ever was one, and the business just tries to stay above water.

Vital businesses are like the biggest passenger ships in the world: Always moving ahead, not to be bothered by little details, minor catastrophes. Unwaivering. Determined.

These enormous ships used to be supported by a few trawlers: The Color TV, The Colorful Print, The Noise Radio.The trawlers deviate from the path once in a while to explore the world outside of the given path.  Few  trawlers turned into an armada of trawlers in the new marketing reality: Thousand trawlers following the path of the leading ship but, at the same time, exploring new frontiers, taking risks, being away from the lead ship for a while to experiment. But never out of sight, always in touch with the passenger ship. They have bizarre names: Crazy Twitter, The Dreaming Pownce, etc. We navigate these little trawlers every day, experimenting, dreaming.

Our experiences and adventures don’t change the current course of the ship. But they inform future decisions, new adventures, new innovations. And make the journey so much more enjoyable. And exciting.

Why don’t people get it?


The Age of Conversation, a collaborative book written by 100 or so bloggers last year is going Hollywood: A bigger and better sequel.

Under the leadership of Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, the sequel (Age of Conversation: Why Don’t People get it) features ideas, thought starters, contrarian views and pearls of wisdom from 274 fellow bloggers. Casting was finalized a few weeks ago, script development is under way and shooting will begin soon. While you wait for the red carpet premiere, get the know each cast member below:

Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Love alone is not enough


A few weeks ago, the NY Times discussed the failure of ‘Friday Night Lights’, one of best reviewed TV shows, to attract a larger audience. Virginia Heffernan explained its failure with the lack of online extensions and discusses how TV shows can’t survive without franchising:

“…in a digital age a show cannot succeed without franchising. An author’s work can no longer exist in a vacuum, independent of hardy online extensions; indeed, a vascular system that pervades the Internet. Artists must now embrace the cultural theorists’ beloved model of the rhizome and think of their work as a horizontal stem for numberless roots and shoots – as many entry and exit points as fans devise.”

She explains further:

“Without a sense of being needed or at least included, fans snub art – at least when it takes the form of prime-time TV. They won’t participate in online dialogues and events, visit message boards and chat rooms or design games. As a result, platforms for supplementary advertising aren’t built, starving even the show fans profess to love of attention, and thus money, and thus life.

As the writers’ strike has made clear, art and entertainment in the digital age are highly collaborative, and none of it can thrive without engaging audiences more actively than ever before. Fans today see themselves as doing business with television shows, movies, even books. They want to rate, review, remix. They want to make tributes and parodies, create footnotes and concordances, mess with volume and color values, talk back and shout down.”

Conversational Marketing is often misunderstood as just an opportunity to initiate conversations between people and brands. It is so much more.

Conversational Marketing can help brands to tell their stories better. Through various platforms, innovative storylines, transmedia storytelling. Trans…what?

Well, I can’t do as good a job as Henry Jenkins:

“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story. So, for example, in The Matrix franchise, key bits of information are conveyed through three live action films, a series of animated shorts, two collections of comic book stories, and several video games. There is no one single source or ur-text where one can turn to gain all of the information needed to comprehend the Matrix universe.”

People can handle more than one idea. It’s not enough to interrupt people for seconds on TV or 5 seconds as a roadblock on a site and hoping to be able to sell your product. We need to offer more than an idea.

We have to change the paradigm from individuals reacting to the world to adopting ideas and transferring them into communities. These communities will happen around inspiring storylines: They invite you to discuss, explore, exchange, interact, engage. Yes, we want engagement. But engagement without any value for people falls flat.

‘Friday Night Lights’ developed numerous loving relationships with people. But they had nowhere to go to express their love. And so everybody moved on.

Set the bar high

“The problem is not that we’ve set the bar too high and failed but that we’ve set the bar too low and succeeded.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Change is in the air: Climate change, political change, economic changes. Changes everywhere. We tend to address these changes in a linear way: What’s the problem? Let’s the fix the problem and we’ll have our Kumbaya moment. Not really.

These obvious changes are just the headlines. The real story can be found on Page 37, in small print: Thanks to a combination of changing demographics and technology, we see a dramatic shift in our cultures and economy. Practicing marketers feel that change every day: Declining CTR’s, brands have to work harder to connect with people, make one big mistake and you’ll be out of business.

What not to do: Look for new, promising ways to engage people: Second Life, Video, RSS, Web 2.0 – whatever you want to call it. And it works. For a while. Great PR for Second Life, astonishing engagement rates for video placements, 40,000 brand friends on MySpace. Just to return to the client with your tails between legs: Negative PR and nothingness on Second Life, declining engagement rates for video, nobody gives a hoot about friending brands on Second Life anymore.

What to do: Continue exploring the external changes we’re seeing and experiencing. At the same time, acknowledge and try to understand the underlying changes in our cultures and economy that are happening on as you read this. We need to manage our responses based on human capabilities and responses. The linear approach won’t solve our current and future problems.

You’ve set the bar too low, if you believe the future of marketing is in data-mining, behavioral targeting and CRM.

You’ve set the bar high, if you believe the future of marketing is in developing deep relationships with people through Conversational Marketing.
What side are you on?