Thursday, September 28, 2006

if: Inspiration Festival identifies and explores the most noteworthy issues and trends of the day in an exclusive and engaging forum. Over a course of three days at extraordinary venues around the city, award-winning advertisers, media visionaries, business leaders, scientists, inventors, anthropologists and designers will explode the trends that are reshaping our culture, our economy, our work and our lives.

I was fortunate to be invited to IF and spent several days immersed in discussion on topics that ranged from Science as Culture, The Future of Connection and Creativity, to Global Business Opportunitites. A heady mix to be sure, with a tremendous mix of people. Many were creatives who were in town for the New York Festivals and the rest were a diverse collection of New Yorkers selected by Juliette Powell, the curatorial and inspirational mind behind IF.

For me the surprise bonus was being asked to fill in at the last moment for an absent speaker and to present with my dear friend Andrew Sispoidis. We talked about creativity and collaboration and ways that we as a creative community can use new tools to leverage our collective talents.

It was very refreshing to go to a conference that broke out of the usual mode and not only allowed for a free exchange of ideas but mandated that. I'm sure that there are many who were there who will join me in hoping that IF becomes a regular event in NY and will look forward to the next year.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Juice boxes for grown-ups

Winemakes can't seem to stop tinkering with packaging these days. Not too long ago wine in a box was synonymous with jug wines and what we like to think of as "complimentary heartburn and headache." Then came DTour, a collaboration between Dominique Lafon, (vigneron) Daniel Johnnes, (sommelier) and Daniel Boulud (chef). DTour is packaged in a tubular vacuum packed tube. And it's getting rave reviews.

In a rather misguided attempt to broaden wine's appeal and further loosen up the intimidation factor of wine, witness the next generation of wine packaging: The Juice box.

According to the vintners using this packaging "There are times when a full bottle of wine just won't do: at the beach and on the golf course, for example, where glass bottles aren't allowed."
They also hope to target the casual drinker who only wants one glass a night or the wine drinker who's spouse drinks beer.

Even if the wine selection did rise above Sutter Home which generally falls into the jug wine category, I can't see this taking the industry by storm. As American's appetite for premium wine continues to grow this seems like a swing and a miss and righfully so. I'll be waiting for the NY Post headlines about kids who mistakenly get Mommy's juice box in their lunch by mistake. If nothing else, it has the promise of some good comic relief.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Some interesting charts by Clement Mok, Global Director of Design Planning for Sapient. His take on Agency 1.0 vs Agency 2.0 shows the correlation between emerging/exisiting media and the state of marketing. What's most interesting to him is that this still seems to be news to some marketers.
The first chart is an overview of the evolution of agencies to adapt to the new landscape. The second is the underlying philosophy for each system.

The idea that the customer owns and builds the brands feels a little unrealistic. Certainly customers feel a great deal of "ownership" and loyalty to brands that they feel help to define their lifestyles but that brand had an identity before they discovered and adopted it.

This applies more to brands that have gone through an identity renaissance like Hush Puppies did when they were brought out of a 20 year slumber by people looking for something that was outside of the mainstream. The revamped image due to this new customer is a better example of customers driving brand identity.

So where does that leave the agency? Brand builders and stewards open to partnership with consumers? Ringleader or barker? The smart agencies won't engage in a power struggle with the passionate public but harnessing the power of consumer generated content has yet do be done in a way that makes it feel like a new model.

Charity Vending Machines

The "charity vending machine" made its debut in Japan this week, joining a long list of unorthodox devices that sell everything from insects to eggs.

Like many typical vending machines, the charity machine sells drinks, but it also deducts donations if the user wishes.
Devised by local volunteer group Miyagi Heartful Vendor (MHV) to raise donations for good causes, it is the first of its kind in Japan. MHV is a volunteer organization of representatives of local companies and welfare groups. The machine was made to order.
The prototype was installed on the Tohoku Fukushi University campus in Sendai's Aoba Ward. The university is known for its focus on welfare issues.

At first glance the vending machine appears just like any other. Above the coin slot, however, are two buttons: one for a 10-yen donation, the other for a 100-yen donation. When buying a drink, customers can push the buttons in combination to make a donation.
For example, if they push the 10-yen button twice, a total of 20 yen will be taken from the change as a donation.

They can also donate without buying a drink, or buy a drink without making a donation.

The money will go to the Miyagi prefectural branch of the Central Community Chest of Japan, which will distribute the funds to social welfare facilities and victims of natural disasters.

Bad Technology Statistics


of working Americans say they have no idea what an RSS feed is


say they do know what an RSS feed is


report that they actually subscribe to an RSS feed

So does this mean that this is a technology that is too complicated for the average user or is it simply not useful enough for people to adopt it? You might reasonably expect that the conveniences RSS feeds deliver, like notification of updates to a specific channel of content, would be enough to get most people over the technology hump.

There was lots of buzz about RSS feeds as the next wave in personalization but it seems clear that the average person is content to go from site to site to gather their information on the web. All of the sites that want to get their RSS use up so they can add Google AdSense into it and make a little money would be well served to make a persuasive pitch to their users and engage in a little demystification so that the vast majority has an idea of what they’re missing.