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    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Buckley's Awful Campaign

    Many of you may not have heard of a cough syrup called Buckley's. The brand is well known for being quite effective, yet tasting terrible. Absolutely no innovation has been done since its creation and the Canadian product is pushing into the U.S. with an interesting, yet honestly brilliant campaign. While on espn, i saw a redirect to the myspace page where they are promoting consumers to contribute exactly how awful it tastes with their best after-consumption shots. There is also a battle of "Buckley" faces between towns in Illinois and Washington.

    Brilliant not for getting consumers involved nor creating contests between towns nor letting people be 'friends' with Buckleys. Brilliant for acknowledging that the product, tastes like crap and using the natural human behaviorial response as the platform. If more brands would acknowledge where they sit in consumer's minds and hearts, the world would be a better place. Awfully good ad eh?



    Monday, November 26, 2007

    No More Hustlers

    Really interesting article in the NYtimes the other day that covers the end of the pool hustler. Apparently until the last decade its been profitable enough for them to earn a living from hustling in various haunts. According to the author, L. Jon Wertheim, "pool hustlers have joined American heavyweight boxing champs, complete-game pitchers, hockey goons and drug-free cyclists as relics in sports. Endearing bit players in the cast of American culture, hustlers have been written out of future episodes."Apparently this was due to two things, the death of the International Pool Tour and the birth of internet poker. Why should players risk driving miles to earn $500 bucks only to get beat up and lose it in the parking lot.

    Wertheim, poigantly states "The death of hustling marks the end of a uniquely American pursuit. What’s a more vivid extension of the frontier mentality than a man, carrying only a wooden stick, slinking into town and making a buck?" America has always been defined by the cavalier attitude from the time of buccaneers to cowboys to the dot-commers.

    Have the mavericks and cowboys merely gone underground and/or become hackers? Are they all playing videogames or racing cars? Surely its part of a behavior evolution, and we cant argue that pool is any less popular. With so many behaviors becoming digital, we must ask ourselves at what cost is physical behavior being redefined?


    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    One Day In America

    Ok so I have that quite strange and amorous relationship with all things data. Time Magazine has a great slice of life in America by looking at what we do in an average day. Yes, all of us. Called One Day in America, it aims to find out just how average we are.

    Absolultely chocked with mind-boggling behaviors and happiness drivers and drinking habits the study sheds like on quite a few consumer behaviors that are imperative if you are in branding, sales or product development.

    With family in the urban planning circle im quite fascinated at large-scale behavior models and ecologically compliment solutions. We are major fans of Bruce Mau on this site.

    The Population density in NYC during the DAY


    The Population density in NYC during NIGHT

    We can begin to assess the importance of transportation, living situations, and product purchase behaviors of this city of "commuters". I would be interested to see if this is a trend in other major-metro areas and then we are talking about a massive cultural behavior. I personally believed the density was much higher at night in NYC, its still crowded as hell to me.

    This chart explores happiness in terms of job occupation. Priests are the most happy and waiters are the least satisfied. Interestingly both rely on handouts for their services.

    This chart shows the annual alcohol consumption in america. While Utah is barely buzzed New Hampshireites are drinking up to 40 gallons of hard liquor per person, per year.

    I recommend picking up the magazine as the website doesn't have the range of graphs and charts that the full article does. While only planners can get excited about presentations of census data, i would consider it a must-read for anyone in strategy or advertising.



    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Gaming Your Brand

    I keep seeing this everywhere and just had to comment. Gaming is certainly an established economy. Just look at the Halo 3 sales. Gaming is here to stay and now its infiltrating all walks of life. David Rosenberg gave a great presentation on this at last years PSFK conference.But there is something much larger going on in society in terms of Gaming. Gaming seems to be a shift in terms of the layers of how consumers connect with products, brands and experiences.

    Look at the types of experiences with brand's products or experiences: Its either active engagement or passive.

    Experience Types (i.e. beer drinking)
    1) absolute experience = That beer really tastes like beer
    2) Virtual experience = Simulated beer, not quite as fun

    2) Passive experience = Experience is viewed or read about (watching those guys drink beer is torturous)

    Clearly active experiences trump passive ones, and gaming is a new active experience often minus the product or actual experience.

    While this is rough thinking, virtual worlds have established themselves for a myriad of reasons. One major strength being that they still allow the consumer to actively participate with the brand. Many consumers don't want the full-on experience. They want the filtered, more fun, less dirty version. So it seems we create games that engage consumers and connect without the actual purchase or post-product withdrawl. Give them access without any drawbacks. Access also allows for a greater audience potential. BMW is capturing generations of future drivers with this video games.

    While games allow for massive participation, they can make even drab subjects fun. This is where we see gaming be introduced more and more.

    Politics - Everyone has an opinion, but how can we crown a winner to the debating?

    Dating -Love stinks for those trying to find it. How can we make it fun?
    Avante -Garde Dating

    Oceanic Exploration - Tracking sharks with gps getting you down on science? Lets make it a game

    Networking - Forced to coherce with new peoples at corporate events? How can we switch it up?

    Sports - Sports are the quintessential game, but not everyone can be a pro athlete. How have we engaged consumers to play along without stepping on the field?
    PTI, Around the Horn, fantasy sports

    These layers of connectivity allow for greater width of interactions, and let brands stretch themselves without changing who they are. Games are memorable engagement that creates emotional benefits for the brand/experience beyond its traditional function. Tracking sharks in sharkrunner feeds me emotional notes of accomplishment, competitiveness, escape, affiliation. Many of which aren't achievable just by passively watching a show.

    Games provide brand access and participation, stretch the brand by providing benefits beyond the core product or experience, and can establish new economies for brand revenue (look at BK's King Games for the Xbox).

    Is your brand ripe for a game?



    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Literary Retail

    Complex Magazine has created the Complex Platinum Club, which is an invite-only experience that brings pages of the magazine to life. This exclusive invite-only retail store is on 41st street in New York City. It carries an impressive list of duds from MHI, Penfield, Staple, Modern Amusement, WESC, as well as footwear from Jordan, Y-3, Clae, Supra (Gold Skytops) and more. Expected to coincide with each publication, featured products will end up in the store. As of right now the store is invite only, but you can get on the list here.

    Wired started this with their Wired Store which pops up every holiday season to show the latest inaccessible gadgets we all covet. The Complex store is good for several reasons:

    1) The hype and release nature of streetwear products
    2) The covet and hunt process consumer behavior of purchasing unique streetwear
    3) The insider-only status of 'authentic' streetwear retail locations
    4) Brings the lifestyle mag to life

    Streetwear is a somewhat fickle cat-and-mouse game of my brand is cooler than yours and my personal statement is about slying embracing change but going my own way or illustrious destruction mantras. Complex has long been the mainstream staple (Ecko-started and run) of cool, urban brands but never moved beyond the occasional party or one-off. Establishing a retail store is a smart move, albeit it brings the 'mainstream' label to the scene. Will really be interesting to see how the kids react. On one hand it could access to a myriad of sources with its connections, on the other it could become the "lugz" of streetwear retail. Streetwear has a level of authenticity, but this location could seem too forced.

    Certainly a brand which preaches fresh consumption needs an outlet beyond just finding the products. A retail location is a natural fit, and i would appreciate more magazines to do so in the future. Maxim could own guys, People could be the epicenter of women's beauty and entertainment, and Sports Illustrated could create sport retail locations. It seems to me to that channels that are the aggregators of news and new products, ought to be selling them. Consumers have already invested money and time to learn what they find, why not ultimately sell their featured products direct to them?



    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    A PC-less Society?

    The AP, god bless em, finds more trend nuggets than most attribute to them. Hiroko Tabuchi, recently wrote about how PCs are losing their relevance in Japan. Younger generations are apparently choosing to spend money on electronics and digitals that aren't PCs.

    According to Hiroko, "The PC's role in Japanese homes is diminishing, as its once-awesome monopoly on processing power is encroached by gadgets such as smart phones that act like pocket-size computers, advanced Internet-connected game consoles, digital video recorders with terabytes of memory.

    Japan's PC market is already shrinking, leading analysts to wonder whether Japan will become the first major market to see a decline in personal computer use some 25 years after it revolutionized household electronics — and whether this could be the picture of things to come in other countries."

    Analysts seem to think that the cell phones and consoles are stealing the thunder. Consumers now download music straight to their phones instead of computers and choose to read emails over their phones on the go versus a home office. Digital tv's have built in hard drives and movies can be downloaded to an ipod or tv.

    So everyone says the PC is dead, but really i see this as the re-birth of the PC, due in part to three things:

    1. Change in consumer behavior
    2. Change in global trends
    3. Change in retail market

    1. Consumers want to access information anywhere. Cause you can't lug your pc to the library and back.

    2. Global connectivity has a created a flat world where we pull information from virtually anywhere Global markets actually rely on technology more than ever, increasing the need for PCs or PC-like systems in more aspects of our lives.

    3. Retail is now direct to consumer, eliminating storefronts are service centers. The longtail theory exists on the ability to have mass categories of brands based on directly on consumer purchase desire. Consumers want choice without excessive hoops.

    PCs are becoming democratic and incorporated into everything. RFIDs track clothing and proximities, mp3 players are built into sunglasses and ads are tailored to our purchase habits on game consoles and in the games themselves. The PC is becoming localized to its specific channel. I want my mobile phone to update when i enter Charlotte Speedway with the latest race day information. Look at the iPod and Starbucks relationship for localized content downloads with a cup of joe.

    Companies like Google have smartly realized that the PC can exist without the PC. Its the structure and use of technology that we rely on, not necessarily the box. Incorporating the PC into clothing, food, and other aspects of consumer behavior won't kill it, but redefine what computing is. Right now the phone is a natural conduit that will be dominate for awhile. That will change as more technologies are implemented and attack what the phone does best. Apple could surely cram an OS into that ipod but then that would hurt Mac sales....

    The PC is still required for certain things and will for some time. Its role will become split into other areas but the idea of 'computing' will become more intertwined with 'living'. Dare i argue that it hasn't already?

    Sales of actual PC's may be down, but i could bet that technology that uses PC-like systems is actually rising.



    Monday, November 05, 2007


    Nothing to me is more refreshing than a trip home to north carolina. I live in such a chaotic place, home is the antithesis and the true centering point. For me i get to see family and friends, and live life how i knew it for my first few decades. Its also a chance to recharge my batteries, which i find continually drained being a strategic brand consultant. Not to say i don't love it, but i find it continually more involved than advertising. The work i currently do involves branding, but absolutely no advertising. I tend to believe this is the redefinition of brands, which has apparently been brought up recently here. I was quite happy to hear of this upon my return as brand ideas should be conversations not necessarily campaigns. Needless to say this is the approach we currently take at my job.

    Needless to say i feel rejuvenated, hope to build on all these ideas around me and finally get the Lifefilter back on track.




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