All posts tagged Google

This 71 year old knows more about social media than you and I do.

While various social media apps can help you be more effective or more productive or more accurate, a passionate desire to connect is far more powerful than any software package. A brand that has a genuine willingness to engage with their customers will trump one that doesn’t, regardless of the budget, websites, widgets or tools used.

You want proof? Don’t talk to the 21 year old social media evangelist who’s busy building their Google+ profile in the corner. Talk to 71 year old Evelyn Hannon.

Back when putting brochures online was considered breakthrough, Evelyn decided to launch a website for female travellers called

That was 1997.
And she hasn’t changed the design since.

Seriously. There’s no flash. No video. No HTML 5. Or, in her words, “…there’s no fancy shmancy”. Check it out. You’ll be amazed. It’s so old school, it’s retro. Her site is the Polaroid in a sea of iPhone 4 HD cameras. One look and you’ll think you got to it by putting a punch card into a mainframe.

What it does have, though, is a massive loyal community of active contributors.

• She has an e-newsletter with over 75,000 subscribers.
• She has 13,000 Twitter followers.
• She built a global database of female mentors.
• She’s been an imbedded blogger on a ship sailing around the world.
• People from over 200 countries follower her, read her and trust her.

She has no heavily researched strategy, she’s never checked out Google Analytics, she doesn’t read up on what the experts say she should do and her approach to engagement, refreshingly, doesn’t even use the word “engagement”.

All she does is care.

She cares about the subject of travel. She cares about helping women. She cares about being genuine.
She acts like a grandmother. Not surprising because, well, she is.

Evelyn reminds us that real communities don’t live on Twitter or Facebook. They camp out there. Real communities live because of a passion that is shared by those who belong to it. And when it’s strong enough, that community can exist anywhere.

Have a listen. You won’t just love Evelyn. You’ll love her approach.
Success may be a journey but this woman has figured out what to do along the way.

This user will not generate.

A few years ago, I was speaking at an event for a very large CPG in the US and one of the other speakers was Phil Dusenberry who had retired from BBDO. If you don’t know who Phil is, you should. Sadly, he passed away in 2007 after spending close to 45 years in the business, all of them with the same agency (I believe). Michael Jackson and Pepsi? Phil did that. He also co-wrote the movie The Natural. Needless to say, I was in awe and it was an honour to meet him and share the stage with him.

The client had just wrapped up a very successful user-generated campaign that saw hundreds of consumers submit commercials for one of their brands. They were pretty proud of their success and when it came time for Q&A, one of the participants asked Phil what he thought of the trend of user-generated campaigns. Phil’s response:

“I think it’s bullshit.”

So do I. Here’s why:

1. It’s not advertising. It’s PR. 
I’m proud of the fact that I make a living in applied creativity. I enjoy wrestling with the academic side of branding before generating something interesting around a tight set of rules and caveats that a client collaborates on and eventually approves. While we bitch about the process, we’re better for it and so are our communications. THAT’S advertising. Someone developing a commercial on their own with no insight, no research, no brief, and no budget is art. And paying to put it on TV is just one big PR stunt.

2. It’s not strategic. 
After placing so much importance on the strategic process with ethnography, qualitative and quantitative focus groups, insight generation, brief development and an approval process that makes the Iditarod seem like a Sunday morning toboggan run, I’m amazed that clients will throw the entire process out the window so a teenage boy can kick his friend in the balls while using the product. How can you question every second of a campaign that you’ve paid professionals to develop for one brand and then completely abandon your intellectual principles for another? Strategy is half the battle. Good advertising fights for it. User-generated campaigns abandon it.

3. It’s not organic.
I know what the geeks are saying. “It’s a new world, man. The consumer has all the power and they own brands. We have to empower them to….” Sorry. I usually nod off at that point only to wake up when I hear the 25th use of the word “engagement”. This is BS, too. Do consumers have a stronger voice? Yup. And they deserve it. If people want to create ads and post them to Youtube, I’m all for it. Get out of the way and let them express themselves. Hell, we should even fight for their right to do it and be proud when they do. I just don’t think we should take their creations and spend our media money airing them. It makes the whole process less organic and less genuine.

4. They’re not real consumers.
If you want real user generated ads, give a kid a camcorder and let him cut it on iMovie. What we actually get are commercials with the production value of Waterworld. This year’s Doritos winner was done by J.R. Burningham and Tess Ortbals, 2 film school grads who own a production company, Mythmakers Entertainment. Let me repeat. They own a production company. They are professionals. The campaign was not user-generated. It was crowd sourced. What’s stopping Victors and Spoils from competing in next year’s contest?



The Art of Learning at the Art of Marketing.

Image of Wine Library TV's Gary Vaynerchuk.

Image via Wikipedia

Something that keeps coming up in consumer research is what we call, “The State of O”. Overworked. Overtired. Overburdened. Over-connected. There’s a lot going on in our lives and it feels like we can’t jam anything else into our busy schedules.

But we have to.

If we don’t occasionally step back, take a breath and actually think about things, we run the risk of being almost exclusively reactive. That’s not good for our brands, our companies, or our careers. That’s what I love about the Art of Marketing. (Full disclosure: I’m hosting Monday’s event in Toronto). It gives smart professionals a chance to hear from some of the industry’s most forward thinking individuals.

This time, you’ll hear from:

Guy Kawasaki
Jeffrey Hayzlett
Gary Vaynerchuk
Dr. Sheena Iyengar
Avinash Kaushik

I’ve shared the stage with Gary and Avinash before and they’re both incredibly gifted speakers. I’m really looking forward to meeting and hearing the rest. I have 3 tickets to give away to Monday’s event. Here’s all you have to do:

Place a comment below. I’ll get someone else to pick random numbers and give those individual the tickets. Contest ends at 4pm today.