Monthly Archives: August 2008

Jeff Tweedy, Marketing Genius

No, I do not own a Volkswagen nor do I intend to buy one – yet. So this post will not discuss the use of Sky Blue Sky as a soundtrack for VW spots, nor be a diatribe against Jeff Tweedy as a sell out (dude, it’s Jeff-freakin-Tweedy in his prime, not Iggy & The Stooges or Led Zep pushing Cadillacs, The Who pushing everything – I’m assuming to pay for Pete Townsend’s legal fees as it pertains to that little kiddy porn incident from a couple years ago, or the vast amounts of relatively indie artists looking to make a buck from their relatively radio unfriendly music – wait, perhaps that’s Tweedy’s angle here). Anyway…

I’m going to reach back about a dozen years to the stellar sophomore effort of Wilco (so good they don’t even have a sophomore slump, though they did have to get the rest of that Tupelo out in the first one before they could become the innovators that they are) that put them on the map – Being There – and specifically the song “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)”. As I dwelt on the lyrics a bit, I took away a conversation that a Brand and a Customer might have in this digital age of two way media…

(Brand to Customer in a patronizing voice): I know, we don’t talk much but you’re such a good talker. I know we should take a walk, but you’re such a fast walker.

(Customer to Brand in an exasperated, frustrated voice): I know where I’ll be tonight, alright. Outta mind, outta sight.

(Brand to Customer, removed from high horse): Well, OK, I know you don’t love me but you still been thinking of me. Well, alright, I know you probably hate me, but that’s OK with me.

(Customer to Brand, becoming dismissive now): Outta mind, outta sight. Outta mind, outta sight. You don’t see me now. You don’t want to anyhow.

(Customer to Brand, threatening): Look out here I come again and I’m bringing my friends. I said look out here I come again and I’m bringing my friends.

(Brand to Customer, defeated and repentant): OK, alright. OK, alright. I know where I’ll be tonight, alright. Outta mind, outta site. I know you don’t love me. I know you don’t love me anymore.

It’s obviously “Wishful Thinking” in this day and age if brands feel they can act like “The Late Greats” and not be left realizing they may be “Too Far Apart” from their customers, and singing a new tune – “Say You Miss Me”.

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Filed under customer relationships, music, random play all

Feeling a bit cantankerous today, I think I’ll take it out on the music industry

Could be because small breakaway provinces and mutual protection agreements involving Poland tend to lead to world wars, could be because my puppy’s been sick lately, could be the inaneness of the Bears’ “quarterback controversy” has been decided – w/o having a real quarterback.

Regardless, more to the point of the blog, a few things in the media world that are pissing me off right now…

The RIAA took my baby away – Messing w/ Pandora, a truly innovative platform that helps people more fully enjoy music based on the DNA of their preferences is assinine. Of course, this makes sense in light of the fact Pandora is all about discovery, where as the RIAA protects the two dozen artists – and their extended entourages – you can here over the standard airwaves today. Eff the radio anyway; what more does a band or artist need beside YouTube and a nice social media experience. To wit…

Swift Move – Hidden in the fluff of the USAT Life section was this piece about Taylor Swift, who’s new album isn’t coming out for a few months, yet fans are posting videos of themselves singing the song. How did this occur? Because Swift did a segment with a radio station (oh, the irony per the above Pandora rant) awhile back performing the demo of the song. From the article: “Somebody stripped the audio and put it on the Internet,” says Swift, 18. Her management wasn’t thrilled: “I wasn’t allowed to play new music for people after that.” Well, I could see how her management wouldn’t want her upcoming album to have fans literally singing it’s praises before it comes out. Wouldn’t want it to go straight to the top of the charts or anything.

Pasties – Some months, that’s all my fav music magazine, Paste, is good for. This is one of those months. A new look at “International Music”. Wow. So music is international? There are musicians in Africa basing their work on tribal sounds? Experimental noise coming from Scandanavia and Iceland? New wave/punk synthesis coming from England? Regga/ska influenced bands in Brazil? Who knew?

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Filed under digital distribution, monetizing media, music, paste magazine, RIAA, riffs

I’m Amazed

I’m amazed by the TV stations
I’m amazed by what they want me to believe

My Morning Jacket, I’m Amazed

Great band, great album, great live. Simple quote. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

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Filed under media coverage, media on media, music, random play all

Prove It

“Prove it. Just the facts. The confidential.
This case, this case, this case that I’ve been workin‘ on so long…
It’s too “too too” to put a finger on
This case is closed”

Television, Prove It

The following is separate but related

Think about this – as more people are using more media in a social/pull context vs. passive/push context, subjective opinion as a means to and important input into decision making among that vast rabble we fondly refer to as our audience, our customers, our guests is becoming much more prevalent. People are becoming more damned unpredictable as they become more empowered to talk to one other more freely.

At this same moment in time we are more and more challenged to produce and prove objective, sustainable, predictable results. And, by God, we’ve got the tools to measure exposure to advertising to a consumers next visit to the john and extrapolate w/ statistical confidence when it will happen again. And we’ve got more and more number crunchers with more and more computing power crunching away.

Juxtapose that linear number crunching x leads to y which produces z thinking w/ the prevalent thought that our precious “funnel” looks more like an infinity sign. Awareness to purchase, regardless of category of purchase, can take 10 seconds, 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 days, 10 weeks or 10 years due to either the speed at which a person can now find exactly what they want or the motivation of the person to dig for as much information as possible – from the portion of a paper product that is made from recyclable material to the intricacies of battery power vs. combustible engine power on a car – because it’s now available and find-able.

Hmmm, this line of thinking could take me in a few different directions. I’ll leave it open for now and perhaps will pick it up later. Feel free to pick up the thread as you see fit.

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Filed under advertising effectiveness, measurement, push vs. pull

Words mean stuff, think before you use them

A couple of posts from Chris Anderson regarding words – 13 that aren’t really relevant anymore (I’ll rain on your parade now – none of them are George Carlin’s) and why Blank Economy doesn’t make sense in terms of economics.

I find it fascinating that, in spite of the fact that we work in a business that lives and dies by the ability of words to sell stuff and/or change perceptions – either to our end customers or to people we are wanting to sell our ideas to -a lot of the words I hear and see in my day-to-day work are hollow. Buzz words or over-used phrases that are easy to get approval of or facts/figures that if you scratch the surface on don’t hold up.

Something I’ve found useful is to go ahead and ask the questions you know the answers to. Makes people pause a bit and think before they use words.

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Tweeting to the White House

Random and not deep thoughts on the election and one new media application…

I’m a hopeless independent when it comes to politics. My favorite gift of late from my lovely wife was a “Perot ’08” t-shirt (yeah, I voted for him twice).

I’ve been using Twitter a lot lately as I used to use IM bots – for relevant news headlines. So I added Obama and McCain Twitter feeds via a site called polfeeds.com (being an independent, I’d rather have a 3rd party filter – I’m well aware Obama’s campaign is using Twitter directly). My humble, non-scientific assessment has me favoring Obama when it comes to effective use of new media.

One of those other Twitter feeds I have and check religiously is NPR. Every time NPR has a relevant national issue or campaign related headline – tends to be up to a dozen times a day – Obama’s polfeed is there in response usually within a couple minutes, outlining his POV on the issue. That’s in addition to a very effective use of “man on the street” perspectives from his supporters, usually a couple a day.

McCain, on the other hand, goes silent for long periods of times and most times is slinging mud and spewing the standard conservative epitaphs (I thought he was the “original maverick”…anyway) when he does choose to tweet.

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Filed under communication platforms, election 08, media coverage, twitter

On Calculators, Spreadsheets & New Media

So I really, really liked Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky (did I mention that if you’re reading this you should read the book already at some point? Yeah, I did). Anyway, I haven’t annotated a business book this much since The Long Tail.

In the Epilogue, Shirky tells a story about when he was in junior high and the powers that be were lamenting the increased use of calculators in schools, decrying it as laziness and bemoaning the inability of future generations to effectively do long division by hand, fretting over what would happen when the calculator fad was over. Shirky points out that he and his peers had already internalized and assimilated the benefits of this new tool, taking the obvious shift in doing math via calculator not as a fad but a change that was here to stay.

When I was starting my career in an agency media department, I recall the stories from my supervisors of doing media flowcharts by hand with slide rules and rulers. I still recall how when I got my first batch of office supplies, my supervisor told me to get my name on my ruler quickly because people had no qualms claiming them. As I was still trying to figure out why I really needed a ruler, I turned back to laying out flowcharts in Lotus 123 (kids, that’s a spreadsheet program not made by Microsoft, not sure if it’s still around).

I also recall my supervisors crunching large amounts of numbers on a calculator/adding machine (i.e. a calculator that had those roles of paper hanging out the back), then ripping the sliver of paper off to use as reference in a meeting. That same supervisor that told me to write my name on my ruler quickly also told me to do the same on the bottom of my calculator and to make sure I always had a calculator w/ me in every meeting. I nodded my head then went back to developing formulas and various other calculations in my spreadsheets so I wouldn’t have to rely on making sure I held onto little slivers of papers or develop formulas while rifling through data from disperse sources on a calculator in front of demanding clients and crabby bosses.

The point? To paraphrase Shirky, it’s not that I (or those starting their careers at roughly the same time I did) knew more useful things – we knew fewer useless things. We came of age professionally (the early to mid-90s) when the tools now taken for granted – tools that have been vastly approved upon – were in the process of overtaking the way things had been done for decades previously.

Another little fad started taking off as I was starting my career – these things called “banners” were starting to be sold on this thing called “the Internet”. So, if you’ve ever wondered why it’s taking so long for “new”, digital media to catch up with “traditional” media in terms of importance even though time spent with “new”, digital media is growing while pretty much every other media is decreasing in time spent, remember this thing called “the Internet” was coming of age as a medium when a generation of media people were still reliant on rulers and calculators to do their work.

Now nearly 15 years on, those of us who understood the inherent power of digital tools in more effectively and efficiently doing our work and saw the initial promise of are coming to points in our careers where the Young Folks coming to work for us don’t know what it’s like to not have a computer connected to the Internet within easy reach. And they’re taking for granted the tools available to them.

So, as I told my former colleague in response to not the first rant of his I’ve heard on this subject matter, I like to recall Gandhi’s quote: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” Feels like on most fronts, truces are being negotiated.

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Filed under books, future of media, the career