Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sort of evil

Here's a little something that I did to my Mac the other day:

Yes, that's right, I put Windows on a MacBook Pro. It feels sort of wrong, but it also feels so right.

All my life, since my dad brought home our first Apple II in the early '80s, we've been forced to settle. The need to run a Windows program forced most to buy an entire Windows based PC. We stuck it out, but there were moments of weakness.

Now, all I have to do is use Bootcamp to install Windows. I get to still use my Mac for 95% of my work and for the other 5% I can just do an easy transition. So simple. So brilliant. And yet another reason why I'm greatful and loyal to those Mac boys.

Friday, May 23, 2008

broadening your base

So, I was driving down the street the other day when I saw this sign:

What do you suppose the thinking behind the sub-head was? Hmmm, we're not getting enough business for our dance products. What if we encouraged non-dancers to buy? After all, they're a fabulous untapped market.

I particularly like the fact that the sub-head is on a sort of separate mini-awning. As though, after committing themselves to the name on the big awning, they got cold feet and decided they'd better back off a bit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Love the Swedes

I had the great pleasure to work with a team of Swedes in my last job. I really enjoyed their perspective and their approach to work. While they may not be the fastest to move, they will have fully thought out their approach, debated it at length, and when they do move they will do so with confidence. I miss my Swedish friends.

That has nothing to do with this new campaign for McDonald's out of Sweden. It took me about half way through the video to figure out what they were doing. It's fantastic. Totally original. And I love it. Check it out.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Counterfeiting is bad.

So, I'm working at DDB the other day and I go to make a photocopy. When I opened the lid I saw this sticker prominently placed just off the copying surface.

This amuses me fully. I hadn't even considered copying currency on this photocopier until I saw the sticker. And of course, I won't, because it's not worth it. But I'll bet that a warning like that is far more likely to get someone to who had never thought of copying currency to do so than it is to stop someone who intended to copy money in the first place.

I wonder how many other warnings we have in society that cover us from a liability standpoint, but actually make the problem worse.

I also think it's great that they included Euros, Pounds and Dollars. Does this mean it's OK to copy Yen and Rupiah?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Insanely creative - Muto

Brett showed me this today. He found it on Creativity. Absolutely amazing. Stop motion animation on a public canvas by an Argentinian artist.

I can't imagine the amount of time that would have gone into putting this together.

It's inspiring. I'm not sure what it inspires me to do, but it's inspiring.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The power of emotion

So, Colleen and I went to this talk tonight by Karim Nader put on by the McGill Alumni Society. Dr. Nader is a rock star in the field of memory, particularly around PTSD. He has this amazing theory, backed up by his recent research, that when we access our memories we can change and manipulate them. In particular, through the use of pretty harmless chemical intervention (beta-blockers), we can access traumatic memories and then remove the traumatic aspect of them, rendering them essentially harmless. This is somewhat mind blowing stuff.
More related to my little world of marketing though was something that Dr. Nader brought up earlier in the talk. He discussed how our memories are broken down into the facts of the memory and the emotions that are attached to them, and that your mind treats the two elements separately. Plus, these emotional memories have far more longevity and strength than the logical ones. From an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense. You'd want to have quick and immediate access to things that have hurt you or made you afraid in the past, i.e. things that have an emotional impact.

So, if you've got the choice of creating communications that makes a logical argument or communications that has an impact on an emotional level, which would you do. I think that most of us, making the assumption that humans are rational beings, would lean towards the former. But when the consumer is in the store and has to make a decision your logical arguments may fall by the wayside, whereas the impact that your emotional message has made will still be there.

I suppose that the best case scenario is that you've got a strong rational play to make and you can do it in an emotional way. But the frequency of that beautiful combo seems rare. The more common situation is that we dig for information and sometimes we settle for a product angle that isn't as solid or important. And that's where things go terribly wrong.

As usual, Bill Bernbach said it best decades ago:

"You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You've got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don't feel it, nothing will happen."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Golf Town blows it.

So Colleen and I went to the always enjoyable Golf Town today. We both had gift cards and it was time to get some new shoes.

When I left DDB back in 2006 they were kind enough to give me a nice GT gift card as a going away gift. Over the past couple of years we've used it several times, to buy hybrids, balls and various other goodies. The gift card that Colleen had was a gift to her from my mom a year or two ago.

I'm a fan of Golf Town due to their terrific service levels. Their staff aren't on commission, so it's a comfortable place to shop and spend some time. This is contrary to most other golf shops, which I find entirely uncomfortable due to the pressure they place on you.

When we went to pay Colleen gave the cashier her gift card. Unfortunately, there was a lot less on it than we thought. We asked why. It turned out they'd been deducting a $2 monthly service charge off of the card, so that we could compensate them for holding our money. This had started after a period of inactivity on the card, which was primarily the result of us using my card.

How is this a good customer experience? We show our loyalty by buying (or, in this case, asking for) gift cards to a retailer. They get our money, that they get to hang onto and earn interest on, until we decide to make a purchase from them. And then they in turn charge us for not purchasing fast enough.

To me, this simply seems greedy. I can't see it being a decision from a marketing department. All I can figure is that the finance or operations guys took control of the gift card program. Whatever it is, it runs totally counter to the overall Golf Town brand experience.

GT - You need to fix this.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hit Makers

I'm going to point out something pretty obvious, but I've been thinking about how Apple has become a hit making machine. I don't think that there has ever been a company in the history of music, apart from actual music companies, that has had more impact on music sales.

I think it all started out with Jet a few years ago. There have been a bunch in between. Then Feist recently won a fist full of Junos, I would argue largely due to the use of her song in the iPod campaign. (No, it's not a direct cause and effect, but it was the key element. Plus, her music is great.) And then, driving home on Thursday evening, I hear Yael Naim's New Soul, which is the song from the latest MacBook Air ad. 

It's a great song. And who knows, maybe it convinced me to buy a MacBook Air. But there is no way in the world that that song ever would have made it onto a local Vancouver radio station if it hadn't been a part of the Mac campaign.

So, is getting a call from TBWA asking for the rights to use your song the modern equivalent of what it meant to be asked to appear on SNL in the 70s and 80s? (I don't know what the '90s equal was.) 

And whereas once you would have pondered whether you should sacrifice your artistic integrity, now you just celebrate. After all, if Apple picks you, you're huge. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

cleverness from modernista

So, I was checking out the Brand New blog the other day and he had this goodbye video on it that a bunch of the guys at Modernista had done for a colleague who was leaving. I was amazed at what a great job they had done. No, it's not professional, but it must have taken a tonne of effort and showed that they really cared for Tim, whoever he is. It brought tears to Colleen's eyes (not a tough feat) to watch people put something so nice together for their colleague.

So I decided I wanted to learn a bit more about Modernista. I'd heard about them because of their work, but that was about it. I went to their site, which is what this post is really about. This site is so cool. It has a total of one paragraph that they've posted about themselves. For everything else they rely on what else is on the web to get their story across. For instance, to find out about them you can view their Wikipedia page. Or you can view their work via Flickr or YouTube. Their site is simply a frame that leads you through what the web had to say about them.

I think the thing that impresses me most about this approach is that they themselves haven't done anything new to program their site. They've simply used some of the new tools that make web 2.0 so interesting.

Good on ya' Modernista. Very innovative thinking.