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Musing, marketing, and meaning in the connected world.

Time for Marketing Innovation 2.0


(customer research/focus groups - video from Rory Sutherland's TEDGlobal talk)

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi Co. has decided to not run any advertisements during the Super Bowl in 2010. Instead, the nation’s second-biggest soft drink maker is plowing marketing dollars into its "Pepsi Refresh Project," an online community that allows Pepsi fans to list their public service projects, which could range from helping to feed people to teaching children to read. Visitors to the site can vote to determine which projects receive money. The program will pay at least $20 million for projects people create to "refresh" communities. Last year, Pepsi Co. spent $33 million advertising products such as Pepsi, Gatorade, and Cheetos during the Super Bowl, according to TNS Media Intelligence, $15 million of it on Pepsi alone. Ad time last year for the NFL championship game cost about $3 million for 30 seconds, on average. Pepsi Co. spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said Super Bowl ads don’t work with the company's goals next year: "In 2010, each of our beverage brands has a strategy and marketing platform that will be less about a singular event and more about a movement." Pepsi's remarkable decision epitomizes the new paradigms of marketing: Online instead of TV; many-too-many instead of one-too-many; engagement instead of advertising; sharing instead of broadcasting; movements instead of events; communities instead of campaigns.

Lift10: Connected People

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Describing itself as "a series of events built around a community of doers and thinkers who get together in Europe and Asia to explore the social consequences of new technologies," Lift is definitely one of the best conference networks out there. Laurent Haug, Lift founder and curator, is a wonderful host and has managed to maintain a strong sense of community despite continued growth. In addition to numerous satellite events with partners, Lift organizes conferences in France and Korea, as well as the annual Lift conference in Switzerland as its main hub.

A New Way to See the Internet: Google Chrome Features

Here's how you do product demos right: Advertising firm BBH has produced a series of videos for the Google Chrome browser, and you have to give them credit for creating such intuitive, almost naive metaphors for a very unemotional 'technocratic' brand. Since Peter Greenaway no one has married math and artistic expression more convincingly. It's truly "A New Way to See the Internet."

The Future Has a Future Again

As we’re nearing the end of a year and the end of a decade, it’s time to look back and ahead. With at least three formative events in this young 21st century (9/11, the Tsunami, and the Great Recession) providing some sort of apocalyptic arch and instilling a profound sense of anxiety, it is no wonder that former visionaries are gathering at conferences asking “Where did the future go?” But, at the end of the day, the end of all days didn’t occur, and as the New York Magazine points out in its comprehensive review of the “Aughts”: “The Times is still published every day. There are more bicyclists on the streets than sanity would dictate.” Plus, we got Barack Obama, Mad Men, the iPhone, Twitter, and Foursquare…. and and and....

In the last days of a restless decade, we can lean back and enjoy again, with cautious relief, a modicum of optimism. When even the newsletter of management consultancy Arthur D. Little – not necessarily known for being conducive to enthusiasm – arrives in your inbox with the bold subject line “The Future of the Future,” it indeed seems to indicate that, yes, the future has a future again.

“The People Have Tweeted”: Trident and New Layers of Advertising

A full-page ad in USA Today on Friday and in the New York Times today marks the next chapter of the never-ending “the conversation is your brand” saga. Trident, the chewing gum maker, bought the placements, and instead of using them to promote its latest product (Trident Layers) with the usual mix of emotionally resonant narrative, sharp copy, and persuasive imagery, it chose to feature select tweets about the product under the tagline “The people have Tweeted."

Going Human with Shy-Tech

I attended the Trendforum in Munich last week (frog was a sponsor), a two-day conference that gathered European innovation, marketing, and R&D executives to explore emerging technologies, social trends, and innovative business models. The program was eclectic and the content mostly of high quality. I was particularly intrigued by the opening session that intersected macro-economic forecasting with geeky trend evangelism as well as a humanistic pledge for meaning-driven business (in fact, the other sessions didn’t even come close, including special guest Ray Kurzweil, whose remote keynote, given by way of 3D-holographic projection, remained utterly flat).

On Tour in Germany

I’m en route to Munich where frog will, for the second year in a row, sponsor the Trendforum (Nov 30-Dec 2), a conference that gathers European innovation, marketing, and R&D executives to explore emerging technologies, social trends, and innovative business models. Together with Gravity, a local creative firm, we will co-host the official Trendforum opening party on Monday. In addition, my colleagues Elizabeth Roche (Associate Creative Director) and Till Grusche (Senior Marketing Manager) will moderate a frogThink workshop, and frog executive creative director Tjeerd Hoek will give a presentation about software/hardware convergence. Other speakers include Ray Kurzweil (well, via 3D-hologram….), Jan Geldmacher (CEO of Vodafone Germany), Thomas Ingenlath (Head of Volkswagen Design Center), Axel Becker (Trendscouting, Airbus), and many more.

The Customer Isn’t A Human Being

I just read a remarkable essay by Venkatesh Rao on “marketing, innovation, and the creation of customers.” It nails the complex relationship between the two functions, examining both similarities and polarities.

Apple and Bloomberg: Old Champions in the New Economy

Reading the business section of the New York Times today, you can’t help but notice the juxtaposition of two seemingly different companies, which, at second glance, have more in common that you might think. One is Bloomberg, the financial data juggernaut that has enough cash to aspire to become “the world’s most influential news organization.” The company has placed its bets on the acquisition of the venerable BusinessWeek, trusting that it will broaden its reach into a mainstream business audience. A few pages later, Digital Domain columnist Randall Stross reveals Apple’s pending patent application for a new advertising pop-up technology that forces users of devices and web sites to acknowledge the reception of the commercial message.

Intention Economy: Data + Meaning

If you only see one slide show about the State of the Internet in 2009, "Digital Strangelove (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Internet)" by David Gillespie, an Account Director at Maclaren McCann, Toronto, is a good choice: a mesmerizing 256 slide manifesto on the Intention Economy with Data (as the bank) and Meaning (as the currency).