::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Everything is changing! Mass production is now mass customization. Differentiation rules. Marketers must understand emotions, social patterns, and media consumption in order to design the next generation of products and messages. Advertising is dynamic communication. It's not easy keeping up. Fortunately, we love this shit.
We had a mind map assignment in strategic thinking class. It was an interesting experience. Really cool actually. I did mine on media. The hardest part was stopping. You could map out a concept for days.
I am a graduate student at the #1 ad school in the country and I love it. The image above is from my report card. Read closely and you will see talk of surveys, leadership styles, cooperative group work, marketing, electric cars, ad campaigns, and simulating an ad agency. That was an awesome year. At first glance, the comments above might appear to be from VCU Adcenter. Those comments are actually from my sixth grade GT report card in the 1990-91 school year (click here on the image above to see full document). GT stands for Gifted & Talented. Mr. Zirkle, my fifth grade teacher referred me into the program. He always told me I had a "warped" sense of humor. Thank you Mr. Z.
This is when I first became interested in advertising. I was creative, chubby, and twelve years old. It was my last year in elementary school. By the time I entered seventh grade, I wasn't chubby anymore and ladies noticed, and I noticed them. Advertising couldn't compete with hormones, so I moved on. High School was awesome socially, but academically, I didn't do so hot. I wasn't stupid, I simply had my mind on others things. It didn't help that our class schedule system changed from seven 45 minute periods to 3-hour long block classes. I couldn't concentrate (years later doctors realized I had ADD). I ended up at Pimmit Hills Alternative School and graduated from an adult program a year later.
I landed a cool IT job after that, but alas, I longed for a creative job. I started a small web company with some friends. It didn't last long. I was up for any challenge. I even ran my first marathon, in Rome. I took every opportunity I had to experience, design or create anything cool and original. Using limited technical knowledge, I created and sent this "connection concept" idea to Molex, a manufacturer of electrical components. The concept made it all the way to their C-level management, but fell short for a number of reasons. Here is their response on September 10th, 2001.
In 2002 I was laid off. That was the tipping point. I decided to take full charge of my life. I waited tables while I finished two semesters at Northern Virginia Community College. I applied for a transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University.
I majored in creative advertising and focused on Art Direction. I joined the VCU chapter of the American Advertising Federation and was later elected president. I was also elected student senator. In SGA I became Vice Chairman of Publicity and tried some non-traditional things. At VCU I learned about VCU Adcenter. I set my sights on graduate school.
One of the toughest decisions I had to make was choosing Creative Brand Management (creative MBA) over Art Direction. I applied into the CBM track and was admitted in. The first semester was difficult. Making it to the final round of The Innovation Challenge was second only to completing the semester in my list of highlights. I didn't do so hot my in peer reviews. I've been improving my cooperative group efforts this semester. I was humbled by academic probation and I've been forced to step up my game. This semester is going great. Extremely busy, but great. Professor Don Just and all the other Adcenter teachers are setting us up to be creative business leaders. I have rediscovered my passion for ideation and design, the same drive I had in sixth grade.
We recently had an assignment that required us to re-introduce a product of the past. Our team's product was the Pogo Stick. We came up with the Pogo Cobra. We came up with a totally new design and created a new extreme sport called "Bounding".
Our work is as exhausting as it is fun. Currently, all the first year students are searching for internships. I am open to going anywhere in world that appreciates where I may be of service. I am happiest when I help create new things. I am a creative generalist mastering the art of business and communication. I am living my dream.
Any 101 level communications course can teach you about the
rise of mass media. It grew right along
f mass production. And where is mass production these days? Mass
production has evolved into mass customization. Dell can now build the right PC
for you, you, and you and make each one catered specifically to each one of
your multiple personalities. It’s pretty
crazy, I know. Dell, has recently missed some opportunities to connect with people, so a good product with mixed messages doesn't sell the big picture. Media, like production, has changed dramatically with
technology. People are becoming the center of both. If you want to sell a
product to someone today, you better know what they're thinking, or else you’re
not selling shit. But maybe you are and that’s why they don’t want it. Most
products can provide a value to someone, somewhere. The task then becomes to
find them, and then to find how many there are. Back in the day, you could just
blast your ad on the airwaves and find your people, now they are scattered and
harder to find. Most are still using mass media, but their schedules have
changed and there are more than just four channels. Effective media, like mass
customization, should be tailored to fit the individual.
Some companies are taking steps in the right direction. GM
is looking to save some money by cutting advertising spending by $600 Million. They
want to use less mass media and leverage new media. This decision is the type
of thinking that you will start to see more frequently in the corporate world.
Re-thinking! Get use to changes across the board. Traditional media isn't going
anywhere, but the idea of how it is used is changing. Mass media is now part of
a larger evolving picture. In this new media age, a coffee cup can be an ad, so
can a sewer lid, or a napkin. People aren't as receptive as they once were. Can
you blame them? Millions of messages fight for your attention, while you walk
by and silence them with loud music blasting from your iPod. In the past, the
best way to cut through the noise was to make more noise. Now, it's better to
blend in with the silence when silence is desired. Even if you sneak a message
into someone’s personal space, it doesn’t mean they care. People are smarter
that. Technology has created a see-through world. Honesty, simplicity, and
proximity are three factors that make for better media. Proximity refers to
both physical closeness and mental.
It’s easy to see the changing media landscape as an
opportunity to change media selections, but that’s only part of it. What’s the
point of reaching your customers correctly to tell them something they don’t
want to hear? If you don’t have the right product, let them design one with
you. You don’t have to give them the keys to the engineering lab to make them a
part of the process. Allow people to join in the effort as experts on
New media is more than just the right time, place or message.
It involves the product and the people. It involves the people in the product. New
media is a full experience as much as it is a fulfilling experience. At the
center of every experience is a person. New media is YOU media, regardless of who
What would life be without the Internet? My connection at home has been down for a few days and my life has become a bit more difficult to manage. I'm an information junkie. I help myself to generous portions throughout the day. Some of it is junk-info like certain television shows or web sites. Other bits of information are more nutritious. I feel more full when I have a healthy serving of news, documentaries, and blogs. I crave information, especially the kind that is full of tender, juicy insight.
The Internet is not the only place I indulge in info. There are also books, newspapers, magazines, signs, people, and even places that can satisfy my information needs. Unfortunately, I'm also addicted to "fast". I want my information hot and ready when I want it, in the way that I want it. An information addict can get a fix from all kinds of everyday stimuli, but when you’re addicted to fast information, you are out of luck without a connection.
But, what is fast without quality? I have been ADD for as long as I can remember, even before the net was around. Back then I use to think, daydream, and watch tons of TV. Now that I’m a connoisseur of information, I want quality information as well. Not all the time, but most of the time, please.
Life without the Internet is an everyday scenario for most of the world, and here I am complaining because I had to walk a few blocks to connect. To me, life without the Internet is an annoyance. It takes longer to get full, but information is everywhere around me. The developed world as whole is addicted to info. The Internet simply makes it easier to consume. In my downtime, I took a walk, talked to old friends, and even went to they gym. Information can never replace experience, but experience isn’t on demand.
Earlier this week, I was thinking about some of the stumbling blocks of group ideation and noticed a pattern. When sharing new and different ideas with a group of people, the devil's advocates are usually the toughest to convince. They want the idea to succeed, but they want to ensure that all the possibilities are looked at before proceeding. That makes perfectly good sense because they more than likely have a vested interest in the idea or project. When a devil's advocate asks a question that has not been addressed, the person selling the idea usually comes up with an answer on the spot in order to prevent the collapse of progress. Making up a temporary solution doesn't address the problem correctly. When this happens, the person pitching the idea is backed into a corner and the idea may die here. Though not always intentional, devil's advocates focus on the possible problems with a concept. It is important to examine all possibilities in order to make a sound decision, so devil's advocates should always be heard.
Without completely removing the function of the devil's advocate, I'd like to try the angel's advocate system. Angel's advocates do the exact same thing that devil's advocates do. They look for the potential problems and weaknesses in an idea, but they also offer solutions at the same time. For example: "If we do that, we'll alienate our current consumers. A few ways we can retain our consumers using your idea are (insert possible solutions here)..." Pointing out problems alone does not allow a person to examine a situation closely enough to be productive. If you think about potential solutions while addressing issues, you will be forced to take a deeper look at the problem while moving forward without creating a conflict. It's not a perfect solution, but focusing on the positive aspects, creating greater depth in thinking, and increasing positive participation across a group can't hurt. It's easier said than done, but not impossible. I did a little digging and found a company, Gabrial Ames and Associates, who uses a similar method. The main differences is that they start with the positive first. Try the positive first method or the negative/positive and see if that doesn't make a small difference.
I did not know that YouTube had an incubator, called
TestTube (found it here). It’s a cool idea. Everyone seems to be talking about
open innovation, and here’s a good example. TestTube allows users to be a part
of the development process. This increased interaction with the brand makes
people feel like they helped build something. The distance between bright
engineers and the people they design for, should decrease in all industries. It’s
reasonable to think that more consumer interaction will create
over-segmentation. It shouldn’t. People online find like-minded people and create
communities everyday. There’s an online community for anything you can imagine.
If there isn’t, someone probably create it next week. Imagine what the auto
industry would be like if they could receive, and process millions of consumer
suggestions everyday? It’s hard to, but it is possible. What does all this
ranting have to do with TestTube? Nothing, it’s about innovation led by
Kate Winslet went on record this week speaking out against the “size zero” standard that Hollywood has been promoting recently. This article made me think about another article I read about sizing and the fashion industry.
What does a size really mean anyway? There is a trend in the fashion industry to use what is called “vanity sizing”. Let’s say a nice young lady normally buys size 14, she goes into a Gap and 14s are too big, she then tries on a 12 and it fits! Vanity sizing is now a common practice in retail outlets. People feel better in smaller sizes so companies like Gap, DKNY, French Connection, and J. Crew are simply renaming their sizes. This practice plays on the underlying reason that many people purchase new clothing to feel better. Is it cheating? Vanity sizing can create an awkward reality check when someone goes into a store that uses traditional sizing. Should there be a standard? I don’t think so, but I do think that people have the right to know when a standard is changed. We as marketers should make every effort to create more transparency. This may not be the best option in the short term, but in the long run, it’s what is going to save the reputation of the industry.
Nice try Apple. Not really. Apple is usually on track with it's ads, but I have to say, this "Hispanic" ad, is anything but good. Apple's is trying to sell it's Latino section of iTunes to Hispanics. While this is a good strategy, I don't believe the execution is right. Understanding a culture is more than just knowing the language. You can't simply translate the message and pick out a song that fits. A good part of the Latino market already knows about iPod and iTunes. Everyone in the world practically knows the Apple silhouette ads. You don't have to speak English to know that.
To Illustrate what's wrong with this ad, let's say Toyota launches a brand new model in January. This Toyota is featured on TV, and you see it on the road. You think this car is cool. You want one! Four months later you see an ad for that car and it says the car for YOU has finally arrived, but it's the same car you already want. You already knew about it, you already liked it. Your basically being told that the previous messages weren't meant for you. They are launching the same car for you four months later, and your suppose to be excited because they let you in on it. Now imagine that car is an iPod and you can see my point. Who wants old news in a new language? According to Apple, Hispanics do.
If we remove the concept of books/text from the concept of
reading, how would we define a person who is well read?
Let’s redefine reading as the act of sensing and understanding language and
let’s define languages as units of communication. I can read English, Spanish,
and understand a few other languages. I am also fluent in body language. I
actively read the social environment around me, which is why I know when to
drop a joke or two and get maximum laughter. Two people can read the same
thing, but if one person learns more as a result, than that person is a better
reader. The end result of all reading is learning. Well read people in my
opinion, learn the most and make the most connections between the things they
read. How do you think intelligence was gauged before literacy?
There was no way to determine if the inventors of the wheel and fire were
consistently brilliant or lucky one time. For that reason, an illiterate (who
can’t read words) farmer, with little access to books can be just as well read
as a Harvard lawyer. Assuming the farmer is a fast learner, the difference is
in the languages that they are fluent in. Being able to communicate your
brilliance is another story. 9 times out of 10, if you ask someone who is
smarter, the answer is the lawyer. And this is without any consideration of the
task at hand. Smart in one field doesn’t always translate into genius in
Nowadays, you have to be an excellent “reader” of many languages. The person
who is fluent in many languages, who can translate body language into text or
social patterns into a meaningful insight, is the most likely to re-invent the
wheel. But, what good is knowledge without communication. A good reader should
practice the art of writing. Again, we have to redefine writing in terms
outside of text. Writing is communicating in a language for all (or some) to
Why does any of this matter? It matters because everyday, we
are influenced by people who can’t read or write the language of the consumer
as an individual. The “average person” doesn’t exist, so why are we marketing
to him/her. Reading too much into a
chart is the reason why 60% of a multi-million dollar advertising budget can be
wasted on mass media. It’s time to start reading the individual better. It’s
time to start writing so that he/she can understand our message. There are
millions of educated illiterates in the world, don’t be one of them. Reading
is so much than words, so much more.
"Dolly Wants to Play" is a painting, but not just any painting. This painting is on eBay. It is also on Youtube. It's also on a blog at called valsartdiary.com. So what's the big deal?
I'll tell you. Dolly is an example of innovation, creativity, mixed media, non-traditional media, breaking through the clutter, selling using a story or experience, and connecting with an audience at an emotional level. It's just a painting, you might argue. Wrong! The artist behind the painting decided to sell more than the painting. She sold the process. All the emotions behind the painting, the reasons for it, and her personality. Val put a Youtube video up yesterday and has already received over 113,800 hits, been favorited 182 times, and has had 200+ comments posted. It is one of the most viewed videos on Youtube today. Val is not only a painter, she also art directs videos. Her Youtube video is basically a 5 minute ad for her painting on eBay. The auction for the painting ends on Sunday and it is currently at $202. The reserve is met. I actually bid on it knowing that there's three days left and I'll probably be outbid. I'm currently the highest bidder. (i was outbid)
What's really important here is that the painting, like any other product, is given a new life by the emotional appeal of the message. Her video makes you a part of the process, and in doing so ads value to the painting. 113,800 people saw the video, but only one person can own it. This exclusivity adds even more value. So why did I just rave about this painting. I didn't. I'm talking about making the most of the resources available in order to produce exponential value.
(the painting also comes with a 15 minute DVD of the painting experience)