In the words of the infamous Bob Dylan, “Times. They are a-changing.”
The world is in a constant stage of flux. But there are certain pivotal instances of change that define societies. The decisions that individuals make at these points in time can characterize the success or failure of an entire culture.
I’m not talking about the current crash in the world financial markets. I’m just hyperbolizing an interesting change at work. I’m moving from working on a telecommunications client to beer. Mmm…. beer. Ice cold beer. Working with my old team and client was a lot of fun. Allow me to illustrate this with a wonderful chart:
So why would I walk away from such a piece of business? I mean, I even like technology and cell phones! The reason is simple. I like beer. Yes, I even like it more than money, open minds, trust, work friends and good looking people*. It’s delicious. It’s brings people together. It tears people apart. It is the inspiration behind every one of my drunk dials.
One of the brands that I’m going to be working on is Pilsner. Yup, my reaction was exactly the same. What the f-bomb is Pilsner? As fas as I know, it’s a type of beer (like an ale or a stout), not a brand. Well, turns out that I was wrong. It’s a brand that has a strong holding in the Canadian prairie provinces. And it’s actually got a long and “studious” history:
I can only hope that as I embark on this exciting new path, that I retain the “idea” in “idea drunk” and don’t just become a drunk. So the next time you see me at a bar, I’m actually doing research. Especially if I’m drinking a competitor’s product.
*I lied. I like only like beer more than four of those things, not all of them.
Tinker Hatfield is a world reknown designer of Nike shoes. In fact, he designed Nike’s first cross trainer. He originally trained as an architect until he applied art & design to create an athletic shoe. He draws his inspiration from everywhere. He has translated museums (Air Max 1), fighter jets (Jordan V) and even lawn mowers (Jordan XI) to create some of the freshest shoes of the time.
He’s now in charge of Nike’s Innovation Kitchen – basically a concept lab where they create products and services that people don’t even know that they need.
Here’s seven buckets of knowledge that he dropped:
Hatfield doesn’t design in a vacuum — but he also doesn’t listen to focus groups too much. As an innovator trying to do something new, he says he needs to seek the truth and have his info as unedited as possible. “Focus groups are an unreal environment where people are not truly themselves,” he says.
Instead, he gets out in the field and talks with athletes, gets to know about their needs directly. For example, he cycles with Lance Armstrong, etc.
“Designing is like competition.” Phil Knight often says that business is like war without the bullets.
“I’m paid to think outside the box, disrupt, do things other people have never done before. You need to push yourself to find the truth, and go outside normal processes.”
Hatfield’s secret to getting resources and doing special things: wield clout from the company you keep (ie, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, etc).
“You may be a business person or a creative person, but when you start to look at issues from a variety of directions, you have an advantage.”
“When you sit down to create something new, what you do is a combination of everything you’ve done and seen in your life.”
I love it when people are able to bring ideas from movies to life in the real world. The original Motorola Startec cell phone was based off of a communicator from the original Star Trek movies. Sony Pictures in Japan has taken another step in this direction, bringing part of a movie to life in the real world.
This has to be the coolest movie promo I’ve seen: to plug their movie The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, Sony has rigged up a projection in Tokyo Bay that provides an eerily-realistic Loch-Ness-type monster.
What you’re seeing in the video wasn’t added after the factthat’s actually what it looks like in real life. The feat uses a water screen (carefully sprayed water jet) and exact light projections to create a giant monster in the bay.
I was watching Monday Night Football last night and it made me think of this Nike ad from a year ago. Let’s just say, this is what happens when you let the director of Bad Boys II direct a football commercial.
The commercial features Shawne Merriman (San Diego Chargers) and Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams). The music is the song “Promentory” from The Last of the Mohicans. The ad is like a 60-second hit of adrenaline. Who wants to play some sports?
Microsoft is in the middle of spending around $300 million on their new marketing campaign. With such a big budget, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the giant things you can do. Possibilities seem endless under such a massive budget. But just because you can go big doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some very smart and targeted guerilla tactics.
I was running some errands in the Eatons Centre this morning when I was hit with an idea: why doesn’t Microsoft hire actors dressed up as the PC character and plant them outside Apple stores? They could stage a fake protest with picket signs and such. People could take pictures with him and it would start a conversation. The great thing about exploiting the PC character is that he’s an endearing need and it frames Microsoft as the underdog. And people love to cheer for the underdog.
So there you have it. A simple guerrilla idea that links into the current Microsoft campaign. Oh, and Alex and Bill? No need to send a cheque. Just buy me a beer if you’re ever in Toronto.
It’s advertising jujitsu. Being able to turn the momentum of a direct attack back onto your attacker. Check out the next evolution of the new Windows campaign. The celebrity cameos give it buzz. The regular people give it credibility to relate it back to you. Rashad Evans just makes it funny.
In case you’re wondering about the title of this post, the tagline for the new Windows campaign is “Life Without Walls”. Thoughts?
One of my first articles was on how the corporate culture at EA Sports fosters ideas. They continue to push the envelope in their latest offering for Tiger Wood 2009. You’ve probably seen the first commercial for it here, where Tiger completes a “Jesus” shot. They’ve taken it to the next level to try and pitted Tiger Woods versus a Rubik’s cube.
I was reading Seth’s article on political spin and how we all have good bullshit detectors that allow us to sift through the circus of lies surrounding politics. The article sparked me to send him this video from The Daily Show on political hypocrisy. I found it ironic that the most trusted source for news on the US election is a comedian. Comedians exist to entertain, not to act as a trustworthy source of information, right?
But as I delved deeper, it made sense to trust Jon Stewart:
I like him. He’s funny and entertaining. This makes me like him. You are more apt to trust someone that you like. Think about it. You are far more likely to go and see a movie if a close friend recommends it than if the reviewer in the local paper does. So comedians who command the favour of their audience are viewed as trustworthy.
His comedy is based in truth. The best comedians draw their material from cultural truths. Their gift is to be able to step back and recognize the inherent comedy in the situation. Their performance is to introduce others to the humour that they find. Jon Stewart performs a lot of comedic jujitsu use politicians own words against them. Its so hard to be offended by a comedian when everything they are saying is true.
Screw CNN … I have the Comedy Network
So how does this help you? The next time you are pitching an idea, feel free to assume the role of the comedian. Interact and entertain. Get people to laugh. Get people to like you. Then present them the truths in your argument in a light hearted manner that they enjoy. They may be laughing, but they are also listening and evaluating your ideas. Besides, it’s always easier to sell an idea when everyone’s in a good mood.
Constantly changing appetites make reinvention a business necessity. In order to stay relevant and profitable in today’s business environment, you have to allow your brand story to evolve with the times. Most of the time, a brand’s story doesn’t need an entire overhaul to relate to a changing audience. You just have to find a different way to tell it or a different element to focus on. Take a look at Coke. They consistently employ both of those methods. In the “Happiness Factory” ads, they found a different way to tell the Coke story. By releasing a new product every 21 days in Japan, they constantly have different elements to talk about in that market.
What Fox has done with their show “24″ is equally impressive. After being completely off of the air last year due to a writer’s strike, the network is faced with the challenge of winning back so many of the followers that have moved on from the show.
Additionally, the producers struggled internally about how to make the show more culturally relevant. When the show launched, it was a 9/11 era. The US viewed terrorism as an imminent threat and were happy to see a reluctant hero do everything in his power to stop it. Fast forward to the present – the end of the Bush era marks the chance of America to right itself on the global stage. So what have the producers decided to do? Allow the 24 franchise to reinvent itself … through a movie called 24: Redemption.
Initially, I perceived this move as a means of Fox to squeeze more money out of the idea. Kind of like putting Jack Bauer’s face on a lunchbox. But I was wrong. This move accomplishes three things:
Reintroduces old fans of 24 to the show
Allows the producers to reposition the show’s focus
Ignites excitement for the show before its January launch.
Check out the trailer. They call it 24: Exile in the trailer, but they’ve changed the name to Redemption:
This move demonstrates some of the keys to a successful reinvention:
Stay true to your core strengths. The success of 24 is based around riveting action, compelling plot and Keifer Sutherland’s portrayal of a reluctant hero. By staying true to the pillars of their past successes, they will satisfy the entertainment desires of their core fan base. Where they risk losing their core is if they do something radical to the basic formula, like kill off Jack or try to make it a more thoughtful show.
Respond to the cultural shifts. In the case of Wonder Bread, it could be that people are now more health conscious and decry unhealthy white bread. For 24, as an entertainment property that draws its plots from a modern political landscape, its the fact that the landscape has shifted. The producers responded by allowing 24: Redemption to reflect today’s world. They have the first female president (because they’ve already had a black one). The plot revolves around America’s attempted role on the world stage, not within its own borders. All in all, good moves.
The teaser for 24: Redemption showcases a good reinvention that will draw people back into the show and the characters. I’m excited.
I love HSBC’s current positioning that celebrates learning from global diversity. It solidifies their mantra and a truly global bank. I think the following commercial is simply great entertainment. In less than two minutes with less than three words of dialogue it tells an emotional story. I love it.