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How to Effectively Utilize Influencer Marketing

Influencer with their web camera set up.

Is your company 100% into smart marketing ideas, or completely on board with using up an advertising budget, but cringes at “giving” money to individuals on social media just so they can talk about you to their followers? 

If so, you are not the only one. Although Instagram alone boasts nearly one billion active users, and Facebook calculates the average account holder spends almost 2.5 hours a day on their platform, many companies are still shy about spending marketing dollars for influencers. And that’s not all, according to eMarketer, spending this year is about to grow by over one-third—the highest growth in the industry. Those who aren’t on board are losing out to their competition who is. 

The hesitation for influencer marketing can often be boiled down to a couple of things. First, many marketing executives still see it as a riskier option; something they can’t see direct ROI success from. The second is understanding of influencers and platforms. Creating ads, buying placements, watching how they increase customers…these things have been done for decades. But finding the right influencer can seem a much more daunting task. Trends rise and fall, and influencers can do the same. Hitting on the right mix of product, influencer and audience can feel so risky it seems many people decide to opt out altogether. 

We’re here to simplify influencer marketing. While ROI cannot always be measured the same as traditional marketing, it can have great effects on long-term brand awareness, loyalty and purchase decisions—three things no brand would detest. 

How Influencer Marketing Elevates Brands

Advertising in all aspects is good for a brand. Be it out of home, digital, print…they can all do the three things we listed above. But they can’t always do it with the same trustworthiness that influencers can. 

This is not a shocking revelation. Think about how you feel when you see a random actor on TV trying to tell you about a product. How strongly do you believe what they say versus when your friend tells you about that same product? 

We have become a people that need user reviews. How many stars does the restaurant have on Google? What are people saying about that product on Amazon? What does the product look like when it’s tried out by someone on YouTube? 

Influencer marketing is just another one of the tools consumers use to filter brands and products. It may not be your trusted friend, but if an influencer you follow gives a brand shoutout they must believe it, right? They’re sharing it, they’re attaching their name to it, they must at some level be doing it to help their followers…even if we understand they’re being paid to share, it still feels more personal than seeing the same type of thing in a photoshop-perfect magazine ad. 

Influencer marketing is word-of-mouth. It gives social proof to what you’re learning about. But, just like an ad for ice cream may not be successful in a vegan magazine, finding the wrong influencer can completely miss the mark. 

How to Find the Right Social Media Influencers 

  • Make it authentic: One of the biggest pros of influencer marketing is that it feels more personal. It’s not all about the largest follower base, it’s about finding the accounts that really do believe in your brand, and can share that feeling with others. 
  • Keep it casual: Just like authenticity, if it feels too produced it’s going to come across like an ad you’re forcing an influencer to share for money.
  • Collaborate: In the same vein, some influencers can bring a lot to the table in terms of how to speak to their audience. Listen and let them help figure out the best way to share your product together. 
  • Realistic goals: As with any type of marketing, keeping your end goal in sight is important. Is it to raise sales, get brand recognition or something else? One ad cannot effectively do everything for your brand, and it should not be expected that any influencer can do everything with one post (or even a handful of them).

Overall, keeping long-term plans and goals is also helpful no matter how you start with influencer marketing. Especially if you’re looking for brand loyalty or new followers. Yes, things can go viral and numbers can go up exponentially. But for the majority, influencer marketing can feel subtle. Our advice for you: trust the process. Have confidence that trial and error is part of finding the right fit. 

How to Find and Reward Loyal Customers

A graphic representation of customer loyalty, using a present, heart and magnet.

Loyalty programs for CPG brands are nothing new to marketing, but adding strategic digital aspects can be one of the greatest ways to reward your biggest fans. And in turn these loyalty programs can create a solid customer base ready to connect with your brand in a positive way.

There are some well-known loyalty programs out there, that operate on the simple process of offering coupons in exchange for shopping data. Think about past programs like Campbell’s Labels for Education, or the currently running General Mills’ Box Tops, which reward customer loyalty by giving to schools. There are also third-party programs like SavingStar, which give coupons and offers to frequent shoppers.

While these are great ideas on their own, taking a full strategic approach on how to best acquire, connect, and grow customer loyalty can really bring your brand forward.

Seek Strategic and Ye Shall Find

Customer data can come from a variety of places, from product giveaways to user-generated content to deep-dive info sessions. What works best for your brand really means taking a look at what your customers want, and giving them something of value in exchange for information. Knowing what is valuable to them in the exchange is as much strategy as any other part. If the barrier to entry is too high (think long survey) you risk losing potential customers, but if it’s too low (only asking their name) you may not get the information you need to really connect.

The Chance to Make a Good Impression

A common first data step is to gather a customer’s email address. This is relatively easy for someone to give, and produces an opportunity to communicate and gain more information later.
Frequently brands gather info but don’t use it properly. There are so many opportunities to connect with a group of people interested in your brand or product, and all you need to do is set up a series of automated emails to send them.

These emails can be scheduled to deploy based on certain criteria (new sign up, if they opened or clicked on a previous email, etc), and should always be used to give your brand the best foot forward. Use these emails to connect with users, help them get to know your brand, and set expectations of what they will gain from future emails.

Monitor, Reach, Repeat

Collecting information can come from the customer without them doing any further work. Data can easily be pulled based on who opens emails, clicks links, returns to your website. And this statistically-driven data can be used to find lookalike audiences: potential customers that are highly likely to connect when they find your brand.

In addition to increasing your audience through lookalike advertising, monitoring engagement can help your company update and increase reach to those you are already communicating in. Insight can drive future ways to engage even deeper with your customers. Would they be willing to share demographics, interests, or places they shop in exchange for other rewards? This information will give you insight on where products can sell, what to promote and how to speak to customers.

Reward Customer Loyalty

As we stated in the beginning, people are willing to give more to a brand if they know they’re getting something in return. Focusing on the exchange is important at the start, but it can be equally important to remember as a long-term plan to keep customer loyalty.

When you know more about a customer you can connect on a stronger level, and you will be provided with small opportunities to surprise and delight your audience. Birthday emails are maybe the most well-known tactic for brands, but it’s equally as nice to send special offers or simply tailor the email messaging to their preferences. For example, a food brand could do a survey about lifestyle and diet preferences, after which they are able to send out emails tailored to different subscribers.

Customers these days have very strong opinions about companies. They think about the connections they make and they want to feel good about their choices in more aspects than just the brand’s offerings. Loyalty programs can drive sound data for your company, and allow the messages you want to not only reach the loyal customers, but build on that loyalty for stronger brand connections.

A Look at the New Facebook “Reactions”

On Thursday, Facebook gave us a look at their new “Reactions.” Unfortunately, the Reactions are just being tested in Spain and Ireland for the time being, but will add to the limited “like” button, introduced back in 2009.

Hitting “like” on Facebook is a way for users to give positive feedback, and to ensure that they are updated with regard to a topic or post, without all the commitment and effort of actually writing a comment. Although we don’t yet have an official release date, Facebook has responded to the overwhelming desire for a “dislike” button with their new spectrum of one-click responses, called Reactions.


Meet the new Reactions:

Facebook’s Reactions include the classic “Like,” along with Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad and Angry. While this promises a much more articulate way of presenting input on posts for the average user, it will also serve as a diverse and emotional set of data for marketers and businesses using Facebook ads. As of now, Facebook’s newsfeed ranking algorithm will be calculating the reactions as likes, but they hope to learn more over time about the different ways marketers can use ‘loves’ versus ‘angries,’ and so on. For instance, a company might target people who’d marked “angry” on a competitor’s post, or double down on users who ‘loved’ a post, rather than ‘liked’ it.

With the recent change from billing marketers per ‘like’ and interaction, to focusing on product sales and app downloads, Facebook’s new feature will be able to provide a broader array of diverse data to advertisers, allowing them to mold their ads even more specifically.

These new emojis will do more than just allow you to “love” your friend’s new apartment; it will allow users to receive more ads targeted to their desires, and help advertisers to create content that makes you say “Yay!”

5 Things We Learned at SXSW Interactive

Hard to imagine it’s been 30 days since the Flightpath team set our sights on SWSW 2014. While the SXSW glow slowly fades, what remains is the energy and excitement about the work we do, the clients we serve and the enduring lessons we learned:
1.    If we’re too focused on the technology, we lose sight of the psychology
In this evolving digital world, nearly every IPO heralds a new tool that promises increased engagement (ooh!), better functionality (ahh!) and less ads (ohh!). But when we get so excited about the medium, do we lose sight of what we’re trying to share with consumers? That’s when campaigns fall flat.

During Jonah Berger’s session, What Drives Word of Mouth, he highlighted a need for marketers to gain understanding on why people talk and share. True understanding of human psychology will help us create the right message to reach our brand advocates and get them talking. We were so jazzed after the session. We grabbed a copy of the book at the SXSW bookstore and have plans to reinstate our Flightpath book club with Berger’s Contagious as our first selection.
2.    Never underestimate the importance of strategery*
We’ll admit, we first went to this session based on its title: Go Home Marketing, You’re Drunk. And we weren’t disappointed. Kristina Halvorson broke down the importance of a clearly defined strategy in the content marketing space. If our goal is to create and distribute valuable, useful content to our audience, we need know what we’re saying and why we’re saying it. Without a smart strategy? We don’t have focus and will find ourselves working hard but not smart. Smart strategy provides us with the guardrails to know where we’re headed. If we do it right, we end up doing great work with both substance and integrity.
3.    We’ve seen the future, and it’s the debate over wearable technology
Walking around SXSW, we saw our fair share of Glassholes. But as these “explorers” lead us toward a new frontier of wearables, society is asking more questions than the experts are providing answers to at this stage.

During Glassholes: The Cultural Dissonance of Technology, panelists debated wearables as ushering in the next phase of human augmentation (or how we expand our own capabilities with technology). The biggest concern levied by the panelists and the audience was how wearables separate us from the physical world. The Google Glass enthusiasts argued (persuasively) that Glass allowed them to be connected without interference. Those on the other side of the issue felt that the very nature of the wearer using them was interference since unsuspecting bystanders would be drawn into the digital world without their consent. While nothing was solved by the end of the session, it made us think about the digital personas we spend so much time cultivating versus how to live an authentic life where we benefit from technology but aren’t ruled by it.
4.    Use social media for social good
What is a conference without free swag? The notorious stuff we all get was abundant in the exhibit hall. Hordes of people clustered around booths in hopes of securing a shirt, a tote or other tchotchke. But thanks to Twitter and the #SXSW hashtag, we discovered that all those random goodies that we didn’t really need (but couldn’t say no to) could go to a good cause. It made the exhibit hall experience a grab-bag game — how many tees (that you would never wear) could you snag for Austin’s Foundation for the Homeless? Finding the volunteers outside the Convention Center and dropping the goodies into their outstretched arms just felt right.
5.    The true lessons are revealed when you return
Sure, waiting in line for a chocolate chip cookie shot can be a fun way to spend an hour or two, but the real fun? Spending time with colleagues and learning from thought leaders and experts who are pushing the envelope and bringing new technologies forward, left us looking for connections on how we can harness the latest digital trends on behalf of our clients — to help them reach and engage with consumers in a meaningful way.
Until 2015…


*Kristina Halvorson even gave a shout out to Will Ferrell’s hilarious George Dubya character from Saturday Night Live.



Happiness is in the Marketing Air!

Spring is finally in the process of springing, Baseball and Budweiser are trying to get the national past time’s Opening Day to be a national holiday Budweiser Opening Day and even Pharrell William’s “Happy ” shows no pull back or wear out. Oscars or not, it just fills your head with happy.

It’s an amazing time to be alive and happy.  Marketers, can’t you just smell it?  I think people are more likely to part with their hard earned money when they’re happy. There’s tons of data regarding “sadness spending”, but volumes of emerging research in the role of happiness and positivity’s role in work and play.Gallop recently asked 350,000 people about happiness. December is the happiest month (and 12/25 is the happiest day!) The food, giving, gifting, spending spirit is hard to compete with.

Holidays aside,  April is a great opening act to all the warm weather, longer days and six months of airy lightness for much of the country. Why is this important?  Glad you asked! The exceptional work within the positive psychology movement validates for marketers that leading with emotionally compelling and meaningful “happy” messaging causes people to act and be more positively disposed.  Which translates to things like greater engagement, richer connection/stickyness and transactional conversion.  In other words, marketers acting happy may very well lead to more action.

Positive psychologist, author and TED extraordinaire Shawn Achor lays out a framework regarding flipping the “work to be happy” (i.e. finding the job of our dreams will lead to a happier life) to the idea of front loading happiness in inspiring productivity and many other positive outcomes in the job we’re already in.

So, the message to my fellow marketers on this sunny day as we start the beginning of April, is raise your happiness game. Could be in simplifying the message, more intuitive navigation or maybe just adding a wink or whimsy to a brand/category not known for it.  Just remember what the Joker said ”Why so serious?”

The Super Bowl, There’s No Icky in Sticky!

Walking down the Super Bowl boulevard of not broken dreams this morning on Broadway in New York City, it became obvious why commercial America loves The Big Game.  People can’t get enough of pre-game hype, pre-game previewing of the spots, pre-game everything Super Bowl, preparing Super Bowl foods, planning parties, etc.

No, it’s not just the massive eyeballs that come with Super Bowl ads and posts each year.  Spending $4 million bucks can quickly aggregate a lot of eyeballs by any number of “road-block” media strategies on and off-line.  But that’s not it.  Watching adult people running to get their photos taken with Denver and Seattle player “standees” in Herald Sq. and seeing teens running after a living football player for “selfies” brought all the optical clarity one needs to understand the Super Bowl’s gravitational pull.

Best Buds 2014 Budweiser

The Super Bowl is the “stickiest” thing in America. The stickiest thing ever created in our country.  And, it creates a stickiness for any and all things attached, associated or aligned with The Big Game.  Just ask Bruno Mars or his agent.  Plus, the Super Bowl is made and still played in America- even as it expands its global reality. Love French food, Italian fashion, German cars… but the Super Bowl in NYC (no less and way more!) is so us, so USA, USA, USA! Excitement personified.

Year after year where ever it goes, the Super Bowl dominates the media for practically two weeks. The President is even part of the stickiness, joining forces with the Super Bowl pulpit/telecast – even on Fox – to bring the country (car and truck buyers, beer and soda drinkers, website “URL” hunters) together.  And, at the end of the Super Bowl Sunday, its broad stickiness is deeply rooted in the emotional connection it fosters and creates among so many of us.  That’s worth watching and paying for!

So, even though I have viewed the Best Buds dog and horse spot personally 1.5 million times, I still can’t wait to down it with some wings and friends on Super Bowl Sunday!!

Enjoy, America!


Editor’s note: We had some internal debate about using “Super Bowl” since this is a blog post and not an event for money or an ad. I bet we are not the only ones debating the finer points of trademark and copyright law this week!

Brand Mis-Deception

Today, even with all the big data abounding, brands know you behaviorally. Think about it, only by your actions, purchase patterns, click throughs and by the perks they throw your way. Few brands (or the people who manage them) know you emotionally or get you empathetically.

I love brands.  In fact, some of my best friends are brands.  It’s true, my Nike Pegasus(s) have taken me to more places than I could ever recall. And, I do love, unconditionally my Bic 4 color pen- it too has taken me to many places weird and far.

But, lets be real it is a one-way street.  My old school writing partner wouldn’t know me from Kurt Vonnegut.  And, Nike knows me mostly as the obedient discount reacting Pega$u$ guy.

Today, even with all the big data abounding, brands know you behaviorally.  Think about it, only by your actions, purchase patterns, click throughs and by the perks they throw your way.  Few brands (or the people who manage them) know you emotionally or get you empathetically.  They may be using Radian6 like tools on your Facebook comments or Tweets or what you blog.  There is a lot of heady ( or hoody?) extrapolating and projecting, but for all they know about you, not the persona you, but your emotional you, brands still have along way to go in getting real.

Brands of course want a deep and meaningful relationship, but it’s difficult, let alone really creepy for the “inanimates” to know too much, get too close.   Unless you’re a “people” who position themselves as a brand like Jillian “5 more reps, now!” Michaels or Justin “Be a Belieber” Bieber or anyone with the surname “Kardashian”, then it’s cool.  It’s like who needs another bud, when you just want another Bud?

All I am really saying is, all of us in brand land (all of us!) need to take it easy on the over the top ways of getting attention and penetrating our hopeful or loyalist lives. Just because we now know way more about the navigational and transactional pathways of our “friends” doesn’t mean we should use it against or for them. Most brand and digital brand people especially, live in the never-ending world of new and cooler “shiny objects.”

So  given this, what I’m REALLY saying is just maybe the only way to truly navigate the future of effective brand marketing and cultivate sustainable relationship value is say or sing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and practice RESTRAINT.

Change is never easy or fast enough and that won’t change!

Ron Johnson the celebrated former Target, Apple, and now J.C. Penney executive clearly understood the above un-attributed law of change and went all in anyway.

So why didn’t Mr. Johnson’s strategy of getting rid of the hundreds of coupon and discount offers with everyday low price (EDLP) work, as well as, dramatic and fundamental changes to merchandise?

Some point to hubris, others to deep-rooted conviction born out of incredible experience.   Here’s my two pennies:  I say the issue was not about changing the discount culture of a store, but the broader reality of brand culture and habitual behavior/expectation that Johnson may have underestimated.

Changing people’s belief about a brand or changing its transactional soul is danger on steroids.  People are creatures of habit. Consumers even more so regarding the ritualistic behavior of imagining they’re winning with a coupon or discount. People like winning at retail and EDLP takes the game away; while, framing a new “believe me/trust me” mindset- without the dopamine.  Plus, for over 100 years J.C. Penney has meant something to its loyalists (dwindling as they may be) and that something was the feeling of special- discounts, days, savings.

Target let alone Apple never had that historical baggage to negotiate.  From day one Apple wrote its own way of defining its unique user experience.  Target with designers like Mr. Graves and Mr. Stark evolved and enhanced the product portfolio without alienating the consumer or their expectation.

Both defined their respective channels through innovation. From a brand POV innovation doesn’t have the negative reverb like change does.  The obvious proof point is Coke changing formulation into New Coke- the #1 “don’t mess with my brand” case study in history.  Coincidentally or ironically one of Mr. Johnson’s advisors, Sergio Zyman was the senior marketing exec. at Coke at the time of the re-launch.  So clearly, Mr. Johnson had first hand and learned experience with this kind of fire.

In the coming days much will be written about Ron Johnson’s tenure- was he given enough time, was he fighting an impossible product, merchant culture battle, did his senior staff leave because they sensed what was happening or not?

Regardless of what gets said or not, this much we know “if change was easy, everyone one would do it!”

The Mainstreaming of “PDA”

Forgive my Huff Po like baiting, but no, not that PDA, the emergence of “Public Display of Analytics” all over the media and business landscape- if you don’t believe me, check out History Channel’s united-stats-of-america where data and insights are dramatically brought to life.

No doubt we have all seen the pervasive rise of data creep in virtually every aspect of our life and business decision making- including creative.  If you buy into the assumption that “numbers speak louder than words” then you’re not alone, but there are also “contrarians at the gate.”  Ad Age covering a panel at Adverting Week Europe heard the unequivocal push back from John Hegarty founder of BBH advertising “You’d expect a creative person to pour slight scorn on data.” He explained, “It’s because I’ve spent my life dealing with people who’ve got all the data in the world and yet they can’t invent anything.” That said, RG/A founder and Chairman Bob Greenberg responded with his own evangelistic zeal “I think creative use of data is also a possibility. Data visualization has created ways in which you can take the data that’s available and tie it into a live event – like when I walk into Nike Town [wearing a Nike + band] and they’ll know who I am and they’ll be able to serve up really relevant content.”

The Ad Age link is really worth clicking not just because Mr. Hegarty wouldn’t have any of it, but because data is clearly here and becoming louder and more pronounced everyday in countless ways. And, as Mr. Greenberg made clear, data is about the end game of customer personalization and engagement. Which is why analytics, especially in reference to “big data” is so compelling.

To bring it back to today, if you haven’t, I urge you to read John Lee’s (head of our SEO/SEM practice) compelling/insightful post How to Rank Better in Google & Bing that he wrote right after attending a SXSW presentation on landscape issues of search effectiveness.   John and I laugh about how we “couldn’t come at it” any more different, but we both agree that the most compelling ideas and themes only matter if they engage a human being in a very human way. Enough said!

Life Is In Your Hands: Truer Words (and Video!) Were Never Spoken!

Mobile subscriptions will pass the world population by 2012 and if that’s not enough to get your attention about the state of mobility, according to Google, 75% of customers prefer a mobile friendly site!

Mobile subscriptions will pass the world population by 2012 and if that’s not enough to get your attention about the state of mobility, according to Google, 75% of customers prefer a mobile friendly site!

So, while many people, even in these economic times are living large, many more are living small…even mini when it comes to living life on the web, on apps or just on their own terms.  Cause when it comes to playing with some Angry Birds or not playing around at retail, life couldn’t more in your hands!

We have enjoyed being party to this explosion through many clients, in several categories from animal health to packaged goods to cable television- all who bought in early to the new world order of “anytime, anywhere” engagement.

The Flightpath video crew distilled this incredibly vibrant and prolific world of mobile life today in a fast paced, visually cool 40 second video.

Some trends you have to hunt demographically or consumption wise to really validate, not with mobile. In fact, “ubiquity” is maybe the only word that truly defines its growth. According to ComScore, in 2011 smartphone adoption increased 99% among 6-person households, 98% among those making less than $25,000, and 92% among retirees and there were more than 400 smartphone devices on the market.

What is also very exciting about the mobile world of today, let alone tomorrow, is the evolution in user expectation.  Clearly, there is nothing second tier, nothing about “dialing back” the experience from the desktop when on a mobile device- 58% of mobile users expect mobile sites to load as quickly as or faster than desktop sites.  And, in the same Google study, they found 38% of mobile users are willing to wait 30 seconds or less for a transaction. Giddy yap!

Lastly, there is so much data, as you know, on platform adoption, usage patterns and other performance indicators that we could be here all day. So let me leave you with some Pew Internet Project stats and a handy user reference chart as a frame of reference of all that is migrating in your hands!

As of January 2013:

  • 26% of American adults own an e-reader
  • 31% of American adults own a tablet computer

As of December 2012:

  • 87% of American adults have a cell phone
  • 45% of American adults have a smartphone

how cells


SnapHop 2012 Mobile Stats

Pew Internet Project


How to Get Lucky in 2013?

13 Big and little ways to make marketing next year even more epictorial!

  1. More Word Play:  Nothing works harder for brands than when words work hard at disrupting, connecting and being fun!  More than even, especially in digital or in windows on 5th Ave, fewer words communicate more.
  2. Even More Use of Pictures:  Clearly Instagram burped recently when it proclaimed all future rights to all your pictures.  This aside, just as GIF’s demand attention so does adorable and emotional AUTHENTIC images. It is worth remembering if it looks like stock, it feels like stock.
  3. Videoh my…: 1 billion “Gangnam Style” views don’t lie. The lesson to be learned is yeah production value matters but so does creative value with musical and visual hooks that are both addictive and contagious. There’s real take away value for marketers!
  4. Rock and Scroll:  Mobile has made all of us scrollers- regardless of the device we’re on. Take advantage of this new habitual behavior with rich, story centered “endless” content.
  5. Think/Be Relevant:  Capturing attention almost always is about finding what’s important and meaningful to people.  Deep rooted sensibility into the human condition elevates way beyond “brand positioning” and into the brand conscious. Think: Apple!
  6. Don’t Be Sub- Optimized:  Smart SEO is foundational to marketing and brand/media management. It’s not “black box” anymore but with great talent, it can be out of the box!
  7. Don’t Become a “Socialpedia” Page:  Brand info. is important of course; but, being a real emotional and meaningful part of your consumer’s life is the win.
  8. Post Less, Listen More: The harm brands do to themselves by being insensitive or unaware about “social media etiquette” is unfortunate.  But the real loss is the insightful connection (and learning) involving your current or would be customers.
  9. What Will You Do Different?:  Getting your head into this is big. What will you try that you didn’t in 2012?  What do you know that you didn’t 12 months ago?  Innovation is so sexy but it really starts with being “accountable” to what you/your team is thinking or doing differently.
  10. Be Provocative and Declarative:  Cool apps and other breakthrough tech will only get you so far. Brands that have a “P&D” sensibility, that capture people’s imagination are much more likely to grow- regardless of the economy- because they inherently deliver emotional value.
  11. Use “Fact Based Passion”:  The digital age is the age of KPI’s (key performance indicators) if not always ROI. Regardless, data is more available today than ever before to support big ideas and gutsy calls.  Creative people finally have real support to back them with their most imaginative, passionate thinking. We are in the Golden age of MTKG creative because of Fact Based Passion!
  12. Earn from Mistakes:  Nothing is more valuable than helping people understand what not to do, what to avoid and why! Give speeches, be on panels, write blogs, be a for hire consultant.  If you messed up and you “own it”, then sell it. You’ll be helping yourself and others.
  13. Have More Fun. Like really have fun in 2013. If that chicken chain can get people to eat more chicken using cows, us marketers should be able to up sell fun all the way to the bank!

Good luck and have FUN all year long!

Facebook: Passion Speaks Louder Than Clicks

While Facebook has been dominating the news the past two weeks,one side of the social network story that has gone under-reported is the undeniable passion Facebook has created.

While Facebook has been dominating the news the past two weeks – GM saying no mas to $10 million in paid media, the market/investors saying IPNO (no!) to $38 a share and many interesting stories of the personal and financial lives of Facebook insiders past and present – the one side of the social network story that has gone under-reported is the undeniable passion Facebook has created.

Facebook, to the 13-year-old creating his or her account and getting a profile up, is huge: A rite of passage so dynamic, so intense, that if you have a son, daughter, niece or nephew, you wonder if they are even breathing the first few days. In fact, it makes getting the driving permit so yesterday. For jaded investors and longtime social media enthusiasts, Facebook may be easy to discount (crazy hype can do that!) or connect to the beginning of the end – like a replay of the ‘90s dotcom collapse – but given the scale of people who connect through, engage on, and live loud because of Facebook, that couldn’t be more ridiculous.

Simply, Facebook is the passion engine of our time. I am going to keep this simple and single-minded. Take Facebook’s photo uploading and sharing. Billions are uploaded monthly, so that alone emotionally and socially has had a tremendous ripple effect given the old idiom, “a picture says a 1000 words,” in terms of humans connecting. Family and friends smiling happiness or sharing sadness all is second nature because of and through Facebook. The bottom line is, whenever a new technology platform or even a re-defining idea (think: “The 99 Percent!”) enables human passion to flourish in any area of life, there is no looking back.

The way I see it is, scale doesn’t make passion – passion makes scale. Facebook has scaled up so big so fast because of its relentless pursuit of passion. The way they have screwed up – like in the privacy area – seems perfectly normal, given how fast they have moved. Their corrective steps reinforce an ability to listen and learn is why their dynamic growth continues.  Clearly, Facebook understands and practices, maybe better than any company in history, the idea of “Fact Based Passion.”  Introduced at Nabisco in 1994, CEO John Greeniaus espoused Fact Based Passion as connecting data and information to empower human energy and commitment to make remarkable things happen.

So, while I imagine people at Facebook are working hard day and night (especially at their Hackathons) to get people to click more on ads, I believe brands will figure a way to work with them to drive effectiveness and success. People are too passionate about Facebook and about Skittles or Coca-cola or GM to not find a new way to thrive symbiotically. Fan pages prove that today.

I’ll end by reminding us that the DVR didn’t kill television – it just made some brands re-imagine how to message. As Facebook continues to explore new pathways for commercial engagement, the opportunities for brands to leverage all the emotional currency they have garnered will be incredibly exciting and powerful.

Practicing “Switch Craft” in Modern Marketing

The fact is, most consumer categories today are share grabs: Consumer Packaged Goods categories are not growth engines; apparel remains tough at best; even tech – from mobile phones to tablets – is focused on constant innovation or feature bundling to defend position and even cannibalize its own (the New iPad was just introduced, even though the iPad2 is but a toddler).

In this prolonged economic downturn it makes sense that today’s winning marketers really understand how to keep loyal customers from switching and how to get potential switchers to switch to them. They know the buttons to push and the buttons not to. Below, we highlight five success factors in driving business value – it’s a combination of art and science – that we affectionately call “Switch Craft.”

Creating Irresistiblility
In creating a truly must-buy proposition, you need to instill a degree of emotional – even financial – tension. Create so much desire and need that if the buyer opts out, the person feels guilty about letting a “once in a life time” opportunity get away.

To this point, for our client Rothschild Kids, a 100-plus year-old coat company, we recently held a 75% off weekend blow out sale on winter coats. The price/value was so hot that the sales far exceeded any of our expectations. PLEASE NOTE: If you are thinking it doesn’t take a genius to give it away, we couldn’t agree more. But we did liquidate inventory, drive cash flow, and get buzz that primes us for the spring season.

Mobile’s Point of Disruption
Everyone has a built-in way they navigate buying things at retail or online. The “point of sale” is not only one of the constantly studied and analyzed parts of commercial marketing, it’s also one of the most dynamic. The use of mobile/shopping apps has been nothing short of game changing in how people operate when shopping. Smart phones have enabled marketers to “disrupt” behavioral patterns by informing customers and providing real time choice – when the customer is already “hot, if not bothered.”

Being Real Human
Making everything emotional isn’t the point, but relating to and engaging deep emotional sentiment has always been a big thread of great marketing. Empathy today has almost become a buzzword, but “persona-fying” the individuals you are trying to engage is very helpful in imagining walking in or out of their shoes. And, we love the “what if” exercise as part of creating a grounded behavioral understanding of the human experience/persona.

In the Iterative Analysis
The opportunity to use data, measurement and real-time feedback loops to change early and if needed, often, is the way marketing works today. From search to social, all digital messaging and reach media is aligned to a continuous improvement model like never before. Keyword, algorithmic (Facebook has truly figured out how to push “like minded” ads!) and overall search optimization is finally the rocket science marketers used to moan they needed in the Nielsen-as-only-game-in-town days. Remember the saying (and I paraphrase), “Fifty percent of my advertising is working, I just don’t know which fifty percent”? It’s gone for good!

Relevancy is Currency
Because of the rolled-up analytics of Google search ads or Facebook page ads there is nothing haphazard about the commercial engagement. Ultra targeted and thinly sliced around interest and behavior- not random or demography centered- is why both companies have created near historic valuations. In commercial match-making if you can be relevant, you can get people to love you… a lot!

Given my favorite childhood show was “Bewitched”- my daughter is named after Samantha Stevens and her husband, Darren was an Ad guy working for an apparent two man shop McMann and Tate (McMann was really never seen!) I believe we in marketing today are playing with the combination of dark arts and illuminating science in profoundly new and magical ways. Who would have thunk it!


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Playing the Grace Card in 2012

Given the overwhelming pressure so many in America and around the world are feeling this holiday season, it seems appropriate to think about a different kind of blog post to end this year. One that can help set a tone for the better in 2012.

I look at this post as a “card blog” – it is about our most common threads of who we are or aren’t through the pure grace of being human in the time we all are living. You may be asking, “Why create and share a ‘card’ to various people of the world?” The act of empathy, of stepping inside another person’s world is always graceful, and today, couldn’t be more important.

In the sections below, we address this card to various people and players in the world. In some cases, they’re just my observations and don’t relate to digital. In others, they relate to the positives and negatives of the all-the-time connected-ness of social media and the Internet – how it can sometimes make us more human, and other times, remove our humanity. But ultimately, I hope that all these resonate with you as ways to make 2012 better.

To: A Politician
The electoral clock is ticking, you need to find some grace, PDQ! We are particularly impressed with Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker, whose smart use of Twitter and social media has connected him to his constituents in meaningful ways.

To: A Boss
Jobs are obviously in demand, which gives “bosses” even more power, more opportunity to affect people’s sense of self. Walk softly with your big stick as you’ll surely get more for it. Grace under pressure – and bosses are clearly under that – is transformative to all!

To: A Facebook, Twitter Enthusiast
Use your social networks to do more than aimlessly like and follow, or post and tweet. Use your imagination like never before to connect, create and immerse the collective spirit. To the social naysayers, this would prove to be a true grace of time.

To: An Unemployed Worker
Not enough jobs are available to enough people, this we all know. But by being your most imaginative, most relentless, by absolutely doing everything to elevate, to create opportunity, you are giving yourself and the ones you love the greatest gift.

To: A Subway Rider
Stop pushing, looking down at your iPod or iPad when you should be looking up when getting on, off, or giving your seat to someone who needs it more!

To: A Dog Parent
We are only as good as the company we keep which is why being a dog dad or mom is pretty damn good. We live in the age of dog awareness and dogs are fully aware of this. For this, they love us dearly. Dogs and cats relieve our stress and make us incredibly special.

To: Artists: Graphic, Literary, Whimsical, Musical, Performing, Conceptual, Digital
We live in the “Expression Age” and if you are an artist – in your soul, if not in your day job – the world of today is yours for the taking. If you have content originality to share, the future (and all kind of money trails) could not be more welcoming.

To: The Not So Humble or Gracious
Just take a moment as we turn the calendar to think about how good you have it- especially if you have your health (even if not all of it!) and some love in your life. I have always believed and tried to practice that all else (making money, creating a life or legacy) is possible with the grace of health and love.

Happy New Cheer!

The 5 Most Important Things I Learned from My Dog About Marketing and Social Media


(Full disclosure – I also learned this from knowing other dogs and working on great pet brands.)

1) Age is Meaningless
Is Abby 9 or 63? Sure, there are real health management concerns with an aging Airedale. But that shouldn’t mean not experiencing life and all the new things that continue evolving around us. It’s not about teaching or learning new tricks, but simply being open to the reality that new tricks are almost always built on the shoulders of old ones. So, what’s old is in fact new!

2) Barking is Like Spitting into the Wind
Yes, it gets attention, feels empowering if you are doing it to ward off intruders, but in the end, making noise or drool doesn’t mean much…especially if it blows back in your direction. Marketing used to be akin to this, but social media has changed the pushing of messaging into a new form of active engagement that leads to attitudinal and behavioral change.

3) A Smell Test is Still the Best Way of Figuring Stuff Out
Zappos has it in their DNA about touching, sniffing, and trying stuff on by the boat load – just like Abby gives everything her own smell test, and likes interacting with things before trusting them completely – with no downside to the customer. But more than that, more than ever, marketing outreach and social media are all about giving people the ability to experience brands or corporate cultures through informational transparency unimaginable a decade ago. This inclusiveness is credited with helping create deeper loyalty on the consumer, customer amd employee fronts – even in the “Occupy Age” of today.

4) Leashes Don’t Choke, People Do! (Or Something Like That.)
The simple truth is, we live in a device world. What marketers do and how they innovate with smart phones, tablets, etc. – let alone on social platforms and app-forms – is what matters in the end, especially to the end users. Great brand stewards like Apple and Amazon have done an amazing job of making a commodity of themselves. They’ve become objects of desire and utility that have kept the marketplace flowing. Pulling on the leash too hard could hurt creativity and a brand’s potential.

5) Once You Know Unconditional Love, There’s No Turning Back
Everyone who has or has had a pet knows that there’s a symbiotic life enrichment that takes place between both parties, and it’s hard to imagine not having that in your life after you’ve experienced it. Social media has given us the same thing. Social related sharing has made connecting people to people, people to causes, and people to brands so easy it is hard to imagine ever not being in the emotionally rich flow so many of us find ourselves in today. We all have seen too many photos, read too many OMG! reunion posts and watched too many ridiculous pet videos to ever think that new media is “new” anymore!

Thanks for reading and here’s some more maple bacon to enjoy with that adorable, talking dog!

Holiday Happiness Brought to You By…


With all the political rancor going on, the NBA season (probably) lost to greed, and the ongoing problems with the economy, things continue to have a somewhat melancholy hue in life’s atmosphere. Yet, if there is one sentiment we can expect to see this holiday season, maybe more than ever in our lifetime – be it wrapped in an app, posted on Facebook, or photographed with a QR code – it’s happiness and positivity. One may think this is cynical – offering people happiness via a product – but the truth is, it only works when the marketing is honest. And there’s nothing cynical about that.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for Brand Week discussing the use of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” in JetBlue’s “Jetting” campaign. And now, the song (and many of ELO’s biggest hits, for that matter) can be heard in practically every commercial or movie trailer. “Mr. Blue Sky,” written in 1977, is a stirring, upbeat track, with rich harmonies and instrumentation coupled with downright cheery, winning lyrics. As the story goes, ELO leader Jeff Lynne was in Switzerland, trying to write the band’s new album, but nothing was coming. Every day the weather was overcast and the sky was dark. Finally, after two weeks, the sun came out; Lynne, inspired, immediately sat at the piano and the song just emerged. “Sun is shining in the sky / There ain’t a cloud in sight / It stopped rainin’ / Everybody’s in a play / And don’t you know? / It’s a beautiful new day.” “Mr. Blue Sky” was popular when originally released, but only became a classic in the last few years. And why? Why now? In an interview with Q Magazine, Lynne recounted something Paul McCartney said to him about the song’s second coming – that the song found its time because “everything is gloomy right now,” and people “need a bit of optimism.” It’s absolutely true, and it’s true of the general tone of a lot of the marketing we’ll see this holiday season.

Ruby Anik, senior vice president for brand marketing at J.C. Penney in Plano, Tex., told The New York Times, “The upbeat optimism is a value we’ve put into all our marketing this year. With all the bad news around, we wanted the element of ‘When I go to J.C. Penney, I have a fun time, and the brand makes me feel good.’” It’s a spirit that marketers across many consumer categories will be celebrating as well, and we have started to see it earlier and heavier than ever before from many brands. See the following campaigns that are doing it right:

This sentiment of joyfulness, happiness, fun and frugality are at the soul of the holidays, marketers, the campaigns above, and the social landscape. Social media, in particular, delivers for marketers what they never had in years past: up to the minute, changeable copy or deals, and the ability to be emotionally relevant within targeted consumer/shopper circles. Social media only works because and when it’s real. When it is not real, people abandon. The holiday season is the one real time of year people expect it to be real as well – with family and friends, co-workers and even brands dealing as hard as they can. But as long as the message of happiness is relevant, and it’s coming from an honest place – as it does in everything from songs like “Mr. Blue Sky” to Facebook campaigns with actual heart – it’s hard for a brand to go wrong with that kind of messaging.

Culture Club, Hallah-ween Style!

As a digital marketing agency steeped in digital, design and creativity, the one thing we have in common with every other company – big and small – is culture.

Culture, like life, marriage or anything else important, takes work. It’s fun to create and eat bread all day as many of us did during our 2nd Annual “Hallah-ween” BreakFest, as seen in the header photo above. (Spreading 25 different toppings on four kinds of Hallah bread didn’t hurt either! And yes, we know it’s more commonly spelled “Challah.”) But what made it cool was the silliness and ridiculousness – not of dressing up, but just another excuse to let our hair down.

I look, with my band of sisters and brothers, for every opportunity (fine, any opportunity) to let our human culture here at 36 West 25th St. in NYC to breathe in the silly.

Happy Halloween tonight! Trick or Treat your hearts out…no excuses needed!

Are You “Getting Emotional?”

Getting emotional is as human as it gets. It is also as dog as it gets – as my Airedale shows me when she gets near the vet. Brands don’t get emotional, yet we people (I am not sure about dogs) get really emotional about some brands and could not care less about others. It’s not simply about filling needs -like in Maslow’s Hierarchy – as nobody actually “needs” a Coke, a Swatch Watch or of course, the iPad, but now feel they do. I believe people get emotional about brands, not for what they are, but because of what is referred to in psychology as transference.

Transference is about projecting, as in, projecting a feeling about one person or thing to another. The brands that have become meaningful and successful in today’s hyper competitive marketplace have done so by transferring emotional related value to the user, as opposed to functional value.

Steve Jobs talked about this in a presentation he gave soon after rejoining and redefining Apple when he was introducing the “Think Different” campaign. He clearly understood, regardless of the functional differences between a Mac and Windows, that Apple would never return to his promise of “changing the world” if the brand remained emotionally detached. Fighting a product battle of “we’re better than you” would be a losing proposition, even though he and his faithful knew that they were better. The connection people had with the individuals featured in the campaign – Ghandi, Ali, Peron, Einstein, Lennon, Dylan – was exciting and elevating, and connected with people on an emotional level.

Brands today need to be vigilant about “getting emotional” and not about simply getting to a lower price point (though that doesn’t hurt as part of the deal). As a sociology major (I get emotional just thinking about how many moons ago) I was fascinated by the study of human interaction and still today often transfer or project that currency on to brands. Here’s two things that usually come in to play when trying to get deeper and more emotionally connected to a brand:

  1. The One and Only: Does the brand convey exclusivity and intangible differentiating factors – the things the product delivers to you on spiritual or emotional level – over other brands? Luxury cars, high-end fragrances and premium chocolates nail this messaging; Apple’s iPhone 4S video is a perfect example.

  2. Why Me?: Yes, there are always the specific functional reasons you should choose a brand; but it’s the emotional mood elevators and the fulfilling of desires where it gets exciting and makes an emotional connection.

Starting a Company in a Small Apartment & Building It…With Help from Steve Jobs

steve jobs

I started what is now Flightpath on one of Steve Jobs’ early inventions.

It was 1994 and I had a boxy little monochrome Mac SE with 4 MB of RAM, my cat, and a 14.4 dial-up modem. I started using the web before there was a mosaic/gui browser. There was a whole lot of clicking the spacebar to proceed through text. One day, after watching me click away for months, my cat jumped up on my desk and started clicking the spacebar – surfing the web. (Jobs gets a lot of credit for making devices so intuitive that kids can use them. Who knew they were easy enough for cats?)

Eventually, I traded my SE for a sleek Mac Quadra with a color monitor that I rode for a few years, before eventually succumbing and living with a series of crappy Gateway and Dell PCs.

About two weeks ago, I finally got my first new Mac in more than 10 years and it rocks. I’m ordering my iPhone 4S tomorrow. But what I’d really like to get my hands on is a vintage copy of the Whole Earth Catalog – something I guess I’d always heard of but never knew much about until reading about it in one of the Steve Jobs obituaries. Apparently, many facets of the Whole Earth zeitgeist informed Steve’s worldview (DIY, community-aware, creative, self-sustainable). If nothing else, I’ll start following them on Twitter (@wholeearth).

Social Media: Best Trends With Benefits

social media trends

In our optimized, analyzed and digitized marketplace of today, it’s great to see that a common link in many social media trends are driven by emotional/relationship currency. The human factor is again the “it” – not “bit” – player, because people simply click and convert on when they covet something. Said differently, coveting is about connecting, bonding, relating, protecting, believing and acting out of a feeling. It’s emotionally assertive and aggressive, not passive.

Here’s a quick scan of three trends in today’s social landscape:

1. Measurement Matters – Stop spending a lot on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter just to get the likes and followers. When you haven’t proved a campaign’s effectiveness on a business impact level – think ROI – it makes little sense. Today, more than ever, we need to make sure that what we are recommending is defensible/trackable and then act and spend like processed crazy people!

2. Gang Tackling Love – Social media and people in general pile on big time for the things they hate, but of late, we have seen a lot of piling on relating to happiness, sharing and joy. Brands have been much of the energy behind fueling this Summer/Fall of Love (see Coca-Cola’s stunning Facebook campaign centered around “Happiness”).

3. Hope Springs Nocturnal – Social media never sleeps! It is the first true 24/7/365 platform. Could anything be more true? From Facebook romance to Tweets from the red carpet to checking in or checking it out on Foursquare, nightlife and social life lives for the young – and not so young – like never before!

The Importance of Disruptive Messaging in Social and Digital Media


There is clearly more information trying to enter our head and heart space than ever. Streams and reams of Tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube content combined with commercial messaging in every shape and size, trying its best to influence an attitude or transaction. Before social media and mobility, the noise level was high on a seasonal basis during things like holidays, but manageable the rest of the time. Now, as the cliché goes, it’s “24/7” noisy. It’s amazing that any brand has any significant recall or unaided awareness or is able to capture eyeballs, let alone get someone to blink!

The original idea of “disruption” centered around shock value in service of getting attention or market share. Disruption occurs only if the brand “activist” can say “got ya.” Got ya to pay attention or most poignantly, disrupted the individual from another engagement and got an action/transaction. Hip hop artists including EMINEM and energy brands such as Rockstar and Monster were disruptive from the get-go and the status quo. It’s not that EMINEM is just an in-your-face artist, it’s that he’s a down-your-throat lyricist that motivates his fans and adversaries to listen forcefully (not passively) and react. Simply, if there is no reaction, there’s no disruption.

So what exactly is disruptive messaging and what makes something disruptive or not? On YouTube, a video goes viral because it is crazy funny, outrageously stupid or in some other way uniquely entertaining – or maybe because it’s commercially/financially supported. Given disruption is all about the status quo being manipulated – in all forms of content today – Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is the it girl of disruptivity because it pushed people’s buttons in a way rarely seen. The reaction by way too many was over the top mean, but the millions of aggregated views and of all the knock-offs and parodies illustrates today’s reality that commercial or otherwise manufactured content, for better or worse, can be wildly disruptive through social channels. Old Spice, with the “Your Man” campaign, gave the world a smell of disruptive engagement with an over-the-top idea that mixed inventive production values with social and traditional media. While the brand had made significant strides in reinventing itself before the Old Spice dude came on the social seen, it really lost all of its historical baggage (of belonging/smelling like dad) through him. It was beyond disruptive.

While some love to say that with social, the “medium is now truly the message,” I say just the opposite. Facebook is no more the message than ESPN; content (user or commercially generated) is what makes both of these the category killers of their respective and intersecting platforms. What’s true is social media enables commercial messaging to be more strategic, targeted and engaging, and therefore, compelling. But truly disruptive messaging provides the breakthrough element against competitive realities, let alone high decibel reality.

There are three simple things that make for successful disruptive messaging in traditional and social media:

1) World Play – Puns, provocative hooks, profanity, entendres, acronyms, broken up words (to-get-her), and the slight/unexpected word in a sentence that grabs attention and gets a re-look. The highly successful brand, Kind, has used “nuts” in almost all of the above ways to its advantage, be it in its Kindness truck tour, outdoor boards, web-site and social media.

2) Visual Intensity – Photoshop and computer aided design/manipulation has made it common to be and see outside reality. Design language is so good and consistently original across media and virtually all consumer categories that, in a nutshell, we are living in a disruptive design age where so much of what grabs us only has us for a second until the next grabber.

3) Playing to Interrupt-ivity – Social media, especially Facebook, engages us in a totally interrupt-ive way with friends, family and cravings. Unlike sequential media (like a movie or book), the wall on Facebook is in a constant state of “posting interruptions,” and to get noticed, the human in us needs to respond with provocative/OMG language, ridiculous photos and all kinds of updates.

So remember, if you’re looking to grab attention or make an impression, in social media or an encyclopedia – a little play on words – don’t be literal, be satirical. Or be silly or a little bit snarky. Regardless, let’s all give it up to those who disrupt!

Flightpath Joins the iMedia Top 25 “East Coast Agencies To Watch” List – Amazing, What Some Great Clients Can Do For You!


Flightpath was recently named to iMedia’s list of 25 East Coast Agencies to Watch. It’s something that has us both excited and humbled.

We thought it was important to talk about this list not because of our inclusion, but because it’s never really about the agency – it’s about the client. The fact is, we have some clients – we can’t name names for fear of blushing – that are extraordinary. It’s the truth. Like, freaking great clients at what they do and what they don’t.

Let me give you three on both sides.

What They Do

  1. Define expectations in measurable, but not constrictive or limiting, ways. Pushing the envelope higher is easier when you know how much altitude you have to fly with.
  2. Make it fun by sharing in and appreciating the passion we have for their business. Our projects are collaborative – that’s where the real joy and excitement of creating something viable and original is most fully realized.
  3. Know the reality that digital marketing and social media are dynamic as they are fraught with unexpected detours. Smart strategy, intuitive SEO/SEM planning, elegant design, and imaginative copy all help keep the bad stuff from happening; but the “state of new” can be harsh if going it alone. Our clients would never let us feel we’re alone!

What They Don’t Do

  1. Shy away from being honest with their opinions. We love feedback and the process of refining an idea until it’s the best it can be.
  2. Keep things close. They partner with us like a…partner! We get to sit, occasionally, at the big person’s table – and that adds cred to us all.
  3. Assume we are always tireless, always available, and even assume other clients don’t exist. What these wonderful clients only assume – what they know is true – is that we share a mutually passionate commitment.

So, we love being able to share with our clients and readers this wonderful news about being an agency worth watching. But we also think it’s just as important to thank our clients, and note what makes them great.

Social Media is Finding Marketing To Be A Real Experience


Experience is one of the few things that truly cuts both ways. For some, experience becomes a life (and creatively) limiting reality. Beyond the obvious “been there done that,” it’s more like “jadedness trumps freshness,” prohibiting people from thinking, trying, or doing new things, without them realizing it. For others, experience provides real-time context that plays out in real-anytime value, as they learn from experience and use it to help themselves evolve. And still there is a middle ground; with social media, technology may have created a balance between the under-experienced and those who are more senior.

Just so we’re transparently straight with each other from the get go: I am way closer to 53 than 35. It used to be in the advertising agency and marketing business that if you were a late 40-something, you were on the outside looking in. As if your brain shut down and headed to Boca. As alluded to above, experience doesn’t in-and-of itself equate to anything, but it is a dynamic that could be a difference maker in this economy and maybe a re-think of today’s marketing talent pool. Especially when you overlay it on social/digital landscapes.

The social landscape is really the great equalizer in business in 2011. Now, regardless of socio-economic, demographic or even educational background, real practical experience can be had through any number of social networks. LinkedIn Groups provide tremendous knowledge, as well as networking value. Facebook and Twitter, as we all know, create experiential touches with people, places and things that without, would be hard to get. So in a weird way, experience – be it in “years of” or through engaged social communities – is the secret and unifying sauce that just about every business needs today. Said another way, the more experience you can bring to bare, the better the possibility for really exciting, meaningful and original solutions.

Marketing, a creative experience like life itself, comes in many colors and shades. Gray just historically wasn’t one of them. Because the most sought after demo historically were young males/adults, like 18-24 or fine, up to 36, young account people and young creatives “could only” be the people who could relate.

How ridiculous is this whole thing? Why does there need to be a separation? The real experienced talent and the less experienced, but “current” talent, could be a compelling, dynamic duo. Technology has reduced much of the old so-called “Generation Gap,” given it provides a common language and landscape. Maybe one way to really think about experience today is to view it simply as a fluid and complimentary competency that supports strategy and/or messaging in marketing traditional, social or any media.

Google Searches and Finds “Dear Sophie” and “It Gets Better”

Occasionally technology can surprise the living s%&t out of you and make you feel totally connected – to your inner most human – by dialing up the emotion and forgetting all else. Google’s recent advertising and YouTube spots, “Dear Sophie” and “It Gets Better,” illustrate the potential to sell a story better than ever before.

“Dear Sophie” tells a dad’s story of the life and times of his daughter, Sophie, through the prism/functionality of the Chrome browser. It is nimble, poetic and sensitive. It is more a scrapbook than a piece of creative, just as memories are almost always more emotional screen grabs than historical playbacks. The spot shows Sophie as a dynamic life force and growing through life stages right before our eyes, just as Google has.

Ultimately, “Dear Sophie” is supremely moving, touching and filled with heart. All the more amazing? This is a commercial for nothing more than a web browser. Not bad for a company that refused to do commercials of any kind up to this point.

The spot Google created for the “It Gets Better” project, an organization whose mission is to prevent/end teen gay, lesbian, and trans-gender suicide by providing a context full of life experiential hope. It is real, if not raw, and frames the promise of “life getting better” by a breadth of people who have “lived the life and earned the right” to share the message of “it gets better”. Pro-social activist “celebrities” including Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert and Woody from Toy Story are featured in the spot.

It is hard to imagine Google telling its story of human engagement, purpose and information clarity better than through these emotionally rich, wonderfully framed spots. Sure, it is a risky way of telling a functional superiority story – the things Chrome does – but if your name is Google and your mission is to change how the world gets information, how do you not put it all out there?

Twitter and Social Media Create Community Around Death of Osama bin Laden

osama bin laden facebook twitter

Much has already been written about the death of Osama bin Laden and how the news and discussion of it spread quickly over the Internet. “Twitter traffic spiked to more than 4,000 tweets per second at the beginning and end of President Obama’s speech…announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden,” said Twitter’s Matt Graves. While this is not as high a rate as the Tweets surrounding the Japanese New Year, it is still mind-boggling, considering the time slot (late Sunday evening is not high trafficked real estate for any form of media). But what does all this really mean? Why was the first thought for so many people – myself included – to head to Twitter and Facebook?

At their core, Twitter and Facebook meet a need that most successful brands and products have mastered the art of selling: they give people a place to belong. While everyone is different, we are social creatures by nature. For sports fans, a favorite team is more than just something to read about or watch on television; it becomes something you identify with, and by extension, makes you feel apart of something. People become brand loyalists to things as varied as PlayStation, Original Penguin or Android not just because they like the quality of the product, but also because they gain entrance into a community. With Twitter and Facebook, the experience is pure community in the form of digital socializing. This is not a groundbreaking notion, of course, but understanding what makes them resonate with people offers clues as to why they were destinations when the news broke.

Many sites are saying that the “news” of bin Laden’s death spread on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s misleading. People went to Twitter and Facebook to feel involved and connected to those around them when it mattered most; to see others’ comments, jokes, and opinions, and to share their own. Maybe it’s semantic, but to say that Facebook and Twitter were just places where “news spread” undervalues what Facebook and Twitter bring to the social landscape.

This Earth Day We Encourage You to “Think Global Act Social”

Social media has brought us closer to the planet we love and “live” for! On the day the world comes together for the sake and health of our home- we can all disagree on many things-sport teams, religion, politics, low top/high top Cons, but we can’t argue about where we live, and where despite our differences in opinion this is the place we all call home-it’s the big rock called Earth!

So on this Earth Day, when more of us have come together as one world on Facebook or Twitter, via a check in on Foursquare or checking it out on YouTube, the dreams and needs of Earth will be most likely be fulfilled because of Earth’s community social media revolution. With that: Think Global, Act Social.

There are some great examples of individuals doing just that. Here are some of our favorites from the large well known brands who share the planet to the more cause driven entities we are all in this mission together.

So whether you have already taken part in one of these campaigns or you want to help spread more awareness about this important day through Twitter (#earthtweet), Facebook messages or by writing your own blog entry. Remember that we may be different but we all share the same place so we here at Flightpath encourage you to #ThinkGlobal and put Social Media to work for your planet.

How will you think global and act social moving forward???

Seven Things I Brought Back from SXSW (Five Extra lbs. Not Included)

Attending SXSW Interactive felt like being inside a popcorn popper: You ricochet from one idea to another, hurling into everyone around you, energy bursting everywhere. What did I bring back from Austin beyond the 5 lbs I probably packed on? Where to even start?

Attending SXSW Interactive felt like being inside a popcorn popper: You ricochet from one idea to another, hurling into everyone around you, energy bursting everywhere. What did I bring back from Austin beyond the 5 lbs I probably packed on? Where to even start?

It’s a Social, Engaged Community (Duh)
For all the digital landscapes we carve out, there’s nothing like interacting with real people in real life. SXSWi registration was up 40% this year, and it wasn’t small to start with. This was truly a community of passionate people – and truly a community. That conversation on the shuttle, in line, before the panel, at the party was every bit as meaningful, inspiring and enlightening as the biggest keynote addresses. And everyone was open to that conversation.

Be Enchanting
Achieve likability. Perfect your handshake. Achieve trustworthiness. Default to yes. Make sure everything you do is Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering and Elegant. Launch with a story, not a feature set. Empower action. Plant many seeds: Today’s nobodies are the new somebodies, and you don’t know where the people are who might embrace you. Enchant all the influencers: It’s not the top down, it’s the bottom and the middle.

It’s a Thank You Economy, Stupid
Your brand should hit an emotional center and do something that matters, instead of just pushing more coupons. Humanize your brand. Don’t try to close in one minute. A social media campaign is a one night stand – and this is about relationship-building. What’s going to work for you as a human being is going to work for you as a business. We’re turning into a small-town world. Human elements matter. Have a voice and a point of view, and don’t talk like a corporation.

What’s a Social Media Expert, Anyway?
Ask 10 different people what the ROI of SM is, what the value of a fan is, what Facebook strategy really means, anyway, and get ready for 57 different answers.

Open Book Brands
It’s not about apps, technology, campaigns. The brand has to emotionally connect with the consumer. Brands are no longer the mirrors that define us, but have to be magnets that draw us in. They have to deal with us with trust, transparency and truth. Own mistakes, then turn them around. Be genuine and authentic.

Follow Your Curiosity
Barry Diller got into the Internet in ’92 or ’93 because he was intrigued by this new way a screen was being used, and wanted to explore it. “So many people at SXSW are following their curiosity,” he said. “The miracle of the Internet is that it allows everybody who has curiosity to figure out the ideas in their brain, get it together, push a button and get it out.”

Have a Big Vision
The Foursquare founders knew what they wanted to do since their days at Dodgeball. They created the product they wanted to create to make people’s life more interesting, and went where that took them. They’re following their own strong sense of mission, leading always with how they can make their users’ lives more enriched, and doing it as a team.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Social Splash vs. Substance

Oreo is dead set on bringing that infamous “twist” to the Facebook world. And they’re doing amazing things. Recently, they were focused on breaking a Guiness world record by encouraging their fans to like a specific update with the goal of setting the record. It’s making a pretty big splash, or a colossal milk-dunk, the way that only Oreo can. But this recent attempt and others have me thinking with my marketing cap on and wondering: What’s really more valuable substance or splash?

Now, I’ll be fair to marketers and agencies that deploy these splashy tactics. Our first and most important job is to get people talking about the brand or company. There is no better way to do this than with some out-of-the-box campaign to create buzz. However one has to wonder about the long-term value in these efforts.

A smaller attempt to generate excitement has been the explosion of one-off social media campaigns. By this, I mean the thousands of contests and sweepstakes that companies use to build excitement about their brand and generate a larger fan base in the process.

A new study published by Co-Tweet (ExactTarget) reports that over 25% of Facebook users have admitted to liking a page to take advantage of one of these types of campaigns, but then, unlike the page once the campaign concludes. According to the same study, the relationship between a brand’s page and its fans is very fickle. More users than I would have thought take that step and unlike a page. What does this mean for marketers? Well, let’s backtrack to our ultimate hope when running a splashy “impact campaign.” Typically, our goals are to increase the fan base, and then, hopefully, convert these new fans into brand advocates—because of the positive experience and engagement levels on our page. This study tells me that, while the first part may succeed, it doesn’t guarantee the second part will. It is a lot more difficult to convert fair-weather fans into brand loyalists.

The lesson is that it takes work to transfer splash into substance—and you might lose some numbers in the process. A complete strategy for running an impact campaign has to address both issues: acquiring new fans and building brand affinity. There needs to be a dual focus to avoid the fallout that comes after a big splash. But don’t be discouraged, these one-offs do have plenty of value that can make a real impact. Just know that they are most valuable when properly balanced.

The Power of Message

After a week when President Obama challenged our country to a heightened sense of purpose, it seems like a good time to breathe in what he so eloquently brought to bear. We’ve all heard about the tenor and tone of polarizing “political discourse” on society. Most everyone has an opinion on the influencing power of assaultive language on public opinion.

Clearly we don’t need another post about the contributing factors of why unstable people do unspeakable things.  But (and it’s a BIG but!), given that we’re marketing people putting out a marketing blog, I thought I’d share my perspective on marketing communication: It’s about the power of influence.

Money still equals power, the ability to get your message and influence blasted to the masses. Based on a projection by one research firm, the overall 2011 U.S. marketing media spend will be over a quarter trillion dollars. That’s a lot of power and influence. And that’s the simple point of this post: With this power to reach people comes an opportunity, maybe even a responsibility.

Even though it’s our job to sell pet microchip enrollment or soda or cars, we have the opportunity to elevate our message. Brands can be the financier of a positive, compelling message that isn’t at odds with the need to sell more stuff, but is totally aligned with it. People are looking for emotional leadership, and the companies that get that will get business.

There is “real world” carryover from emotionally-centered commercial campaigns. In today’s digital and social media landscape, we’re bombarded by messaging more than ever, and become hourly messengers ourselves. Positive, feel-good communication, even if originated with commercial purpose, can still exert influence.

From “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” to Cisco’s new “Together” campaign, marketing has the power to create a “one world,” all-in-it together landscape. Sentiments of empathy, optimism, compassion, or tolerance can and do come from anywhere.

Make it more human. Corporations can be more personal, be a part of the new message. Let’s keep it positive. For all the right reasons.

Digital Storytelling and the Meta-Internet Video

Skim, scan, click, post, watch, check-in, comment, chat, and like. Chances are you live this every day for hours at a time. And sure, sometimes the content is interesting, but did you ever think that the mechanics of what you’re doing is interesting? Or that what you do online could be visually appealing? Me neither. And right now, I’m eating my words. The creative mind has triumphed yet again, taking something abstract and maybe mundane and rearranging it into something dynamic, vibrant, and artful. The next chapter in digital storytelling is writing itself with the meta-internet video. The visual experience of experiencing the internet is coming out hot, hip, and viral.

Like most things internet-savvy, Google was one of the first to put a mainstream mark on this trend. Remember their Super Bowl commercial? Who’d have really thought that looking at a search bar and returns for nearly sixty seconds could ever be appealing. But it was, and it was highly emotive, too. Romance is powerful, and a wholesome foreign daydream made that sparse white screen move oh-so much closer to the heart.

But the meta-internet video, isn’t just about voyeuristic searches. No, we’re actually using them to re-write a little bit of history and religion, fluffing it up around the edges, so it feels more comfortable and familiar. A colleague of mine forwarded The Digital Story of the Nativity video that’s swirling around out there on the internet. It uses digital technologies to tell the Christmas story, complete with emails from Mary, tweets by Joseph, and King Melchior picking up a sweet deal on gold at It starts with some unknown person (possibly you or me) typing in their search query at

Japanese indie rock band, Sour, just set a new standard for amazing with their latest music video “Mirror.” The video, although it’s more of an immersive, interactive experience, begins with, you guessed it, the search bar. The twist is that if you take the plunge and allow the video to connect with your Facebook, Twitter, or webcam, you become an integral part of the composition. Alarming and captivating, you watch your own cyber identity fragment and stream into the rest of the digital collective. It’s quite remarkable to be suspended in that space where vulnerability and connectivity have an equally terrifying and fascinating hold.

I think we’re at the beginning of the meta-internet video era. This evolution of digital storytelling is a game changer because it’s primed for big, personal wows. As a communication vehicle, it can get closer to the subject than ever before—beyond the familiar landscape of the everyday digital highway and into the back roads of individuals. It’s versatile, too, enough that if your target is a larger social tribe, with the right research and creative execution, you can reach a group and simultaneously make intimate, personal connections.

Happy Hug-a-Days! HomeAgain Brings the Holiday Cuddle to Facebook

We are a little over halfway into a holiday-themed Facebook photo contest that we created for our pet microchipping client, HomeAgain. The results to date are very encouraging—impressions, entries, likes, etc., are all way over-performing. But this blog is not about numbers adding up, though it is about sharing a story of success, even before the end of it. Now before you hang up, out of a pending feeling of self-promotion disgust, let me fill you in quickly why we are sharing this story now and hopefully convince you to hang long enough to feel the hugs.

It’s a true story of the holidays. Not a commercial story, not a BOGO story, not even a 60% savings story, but a brand essence story that is all about this time of year. You see, if we waited to tell this story after the New Year, the season to tell you about love, devotion, and great hugs would seem so yesterday. So now is the time, before all the data has been collected, parsed, and analyzed—and clearly, even before our client would ever allow us to share anything.

HomeAgain is a special brand, as it really does special stuff, like helping about 10,000 lost pets a month return home. They aren’t called HomeAgain for nothing.  So how do they get 10,000 families every month to thank their lucky stars and willingly shout out about that feeling of thankfulness?  Through two very important things they do: 1. permanently identifying a pet and linking it to its pet parents through a small piece of technology called a microchip, and 2. providing and enrolling pet parents in an annual service filled with pet protection and recovery benefits.

This year, for the holidays, HomeAgain decided to do something different to spread the cheer. And with our help, they created a sweepstakes campaign on Facebook that celebrates pet/pet parent love and devotion.  Happy Hug-a-Days asks people to enter a holiday “hugshot” of themselves and their pet engaged in a heartwarming, day-lifting, and life-affirming hug. The results have been far greater then we initially hoped for, as we work a transparent social media platform to achieve its most natural end—to create and share joy. Having a client that’s ready and eager to take these new media “risks” is the great catalyst for innovation. We aspire to inspire and, quite literally, live for these opportunities. So thank you, HomeAgain, for being so damn huggable!

My desire to do this blog has nothing to do with sucking up to our client, though I do run the risk, but I have been guilty of worse.  It has all to do with what we, at Flightpath (and many other digital shops), love most: getting deep into the human reality of today’s social and digital landscape. Consider HomeAgain, who may have started in the technology business, but that business clearly became way more and about the human-animal relationship, than simply the product they sold. Same with us programming, production, and digital marketing “creative types.” We all started somewhere else in the business, but have mostly all come back to the human-most side of why we do what we do.

So here we are, at the one time of year when hugging co-workers and pals is not only allowed, but expected, maybe even celebrated with a chest bump or low five.  It’s the holidays, and if you’re in the pet protection business or the digital agency “human protection” business, then this is our time of year! And psst, if you have a furbaby, be sure to enter the Happy Hug-a-Days contest on Facebook today. The world always has room for another good hug.

12 Days of Social Media Gifting

Ahhh, digital socialites, you know the type: popular, nice, chatty, and communal. By the time you get home from an IRL event, they’ve already uploaded photos, tagged everyone, and graciously tweeted kudos to the host. Their digital reputation shines like polished silver, and you constantly wonder how they maintain so many flawless and updated online profiles. These influencers deserve a little more than envy, so how about giving them what they really want? A little more, and well deserved, social currency.

Here’s a play off the old holiday jingle, devoted to gifting the social media mavens in your life.

  • 1 Super Cool Groupon Deal – Forward that find. You never know whose spam filters were acting up, and you gotta keep up the good share karma for all those awesome deals you’ve received.
  • 2 Blog Pingbacks – See something interesting? Link it. Mutual interests are the best way to start a conversation.
  • 3 Twitter Retweets – Make it a habit to RT the good stuff, at least three times a day. Share what’s cool and hot, and leave the spam alone.
  • 4 Foursquare Check-ins – Don’t let a sick day put your friend’s mayor status in jeopardy. Get over to their apartment, grab their smartphone, and defend their territory—or login with their username and password.
  • 5 Gowalla Badges – Plan a day-long tour around your friends’ coveted Gowalla badges. You’ll get to hang out and make their day in one shot.
  • 6 Noms on Foodspotting – Life’s too short to hold back the noms. Nom big. Nom bold. Nom often.
  • 7 #FFs – Shout out about seven magnificent tweeps you think the world should follow.
  • 8 LinkedIn Invites – Expand your network. Link up with people in groups. It’s good for everybody.
  • 9 YouTube Subscribers – Stay in the know by subscribing to all your favorite vloggers. Then, you can be the first to comment.
  • 10 Facebook Credits – Keep your friends in the game. You wouldn’t want to see their crops fail or their luck to run out at the big table.
  • 11 Delicious Bookmarks – Content is a dish best enjoyed together. Share those tasty sites with your friends and fam.
  • 12 Shopkick Kickbucks – Be the best kind of social and donate your hard-earned kickbucks to those in need.

The best part about this list? It contains the most economical gifts out there. All you need is your computer or smartphone and a little bit of time to make some social someone’s world that much brighter. Doesn’t it just make you want to smile? XD

‘Tis the Season for Disruptive Marketing

“Gobble Up Savings” changed to “Shop Holiday Sales” in the space of one small and magical second this year—sometime around midnight November 25, 2010. Marketing and advertising elves worked hard to deliver a double-whammy of creative collateral and even harder to seamlessly switch them out. But that might not be what really matters. In this deluge of holiday shopping campaigns, gracefully fitting into each shift and swap of the season isn’t what’s getting noticed. And that’s why this year, I’m making every effort to be truly and deeply disruptive.

People are not only creatures of habit; they are also creatures of expectation. And right now, everyone is expecting the usual seasonal suspects—snowflakes, reindeer, giving, joy, etc. So why not add a little bit of creative disruption to the secret holiday sauce? Spicing up seasonal themes with disruptive word changes, plays, and puns stands out and grabs consumers’ attentions across many different mediums. It’s working, too, especially for these leading brands who have long been wise to this trend:

  • The Gap – They might have totally tanked on that whole logo thing, but they’re back and on point with, “what do you want this holiday?
  • Crate & Barrel – Late gifts spoil the mood, and with a clever little, “in the St. Nick of time,” you trust yours will get there promptly and possibly with reindeer in tow.
  • The North Face – This high-performance outdoor sports’ label is hard at work to “Spread the Holiday Gear” to all your family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Banana Republic – With all life’s modern distractions, make sure you take time to “LOVE the PRESENT” this year.
  • Kenneth Cole – The reigning king of disruptive messaging serves up a provocative warning to “Be Careful What You Wish For.

Messing with words has a unique way of changing the context and expectation of what is being communicated. It’s in that tiny flicker of disruption where the chance of real, sticky communication exists. In the past few years, this disruptive style of marketing has broken new ground by using texting language as a form of commercial speak. Chase led the pack on this with their “TXT MSGS MAKE BNKG EZ” campaign, which launched in the distant past of 2007. This TXT SPK naturally resonated with the younger and young-at-heart demographics, because it was attitudinally way cooler, and it’s been going strong ever since. Some of my other non-holiday and non-txt favorites include, Koolaid’s “Delivering more smiles per gallon” and Lifetime’s “The Fairy JobMother.” Both have a knack at driving straight through to real-life emotional value, which clearly speaks to everyone. The hippest, most disruptive part of all is that this kind of breakthrough doesn’t involve million dollar commercial shoots, just some old-fashioned wordsmithing.

Disruptive marketing is key in our 140-character worldview, and word play is the quickest and most effective way to disrupt. Consumers are on marcom overload, sifting through a flotsam of creative messaging, monotonously and robotically, until…something breaks through. Changing common idiomatic phrases and expressions into something playful and unexpected gives consumers a reason to stop and ponder. This really registers in the mind, as one mulls over the disruption, tinkering with it until it feels smooth and familiar or interjecting other words for greater effect. Disruptive messaging promotes a share of voice while commanding attention. It naturally stands out and means you, as a brand, can do a whole lot less yelling.

Can Social Media Go the Distance this Giving Season?

Thanksgiving typically marks the official start of the charitable giving season.  Bright, poignant, and inspiring campaigns hit the masses, and we all get plugged in to helping meet the needs of others.  But these are not typical times, with the national unemployment rate around 9 percent and other, devastatingly harsh factors like under-employment and geographic pain are taken into account.  So in this state of economic turmoil, what do this year’s giving season campaigns have in store?

The New York Road Runners Club (NYRR) kick-started the season Sunday at the NYC marathon.  They really went the distance, raising over $30 million through this year’s event.  They had hoped to raise $1 Million a Mile, or $26.2 million, through corporate partners and, of course, many of the event’s nearly 45,000 runners.  The NYRR crew kept a running (pun intended) count of individual “fundraising runners” along with the total amount raised by the group.  As I sat watching and cheering the NYC Marathoners Sunday (a shout out to Flightpath founder, president, and serial marathoner, Jon Fox), it was hard not to think the event was a complete citywide take-over—in the best, most charitable way possible. The old idiom, charity starts at home, never rang truer true to me, as a native New Yorker, seeing how much fundraising was linked to this enormous effort.

Over the next couple of months, the web and social media will be working as hard as Jon and his fellow distance runners for all the people in serious need this year.  It’s time for marketers to step up with their best and brightest—and that poses some unique challenges in the digital space.

Internet fundraising has generated strong interest in the nonprofit world over the last decade, but it still lags behind direct mail, events, and other more traditional ways of soliciting donations.  Of the $263 billion that Americans give to charity each year, 5.7 percent is given online, according to Blackbaud Inc.’s (NASDAQ:BLKB) index of online giving.  Of that, less than 1 percent comes from social media, estimated Steve MacLaughlin, Director of Internet Solutions at Blackbaud.

Facing the pre-launch of this season’s campaigns means facing the reality that social media has not been the fundraising salvation getting people through this tough economy.  It has been more effective at “friend-raising,” as in gaining supporters and engaging them in dialogue about a cause, than actual fundraising.  Social media enthusiasts say the medium is in its relative infancy with HUGE potential to become a much more important means of soliciting charitable relief.  So with one of the hardest-hitting campaign essentials taking a back seat, it’s time to recalibrate using a little more insight from Blackbaud:

  • 46 % of online giving takes place in the last three months of the year
  • 30 % of online giving occurs in December alone
  • 50 % of donors will not change their habits this giving season
  • 36 % of American donors will be giving less due to financial limitations

Social media’s definitely not out for this year’s campaigns—NYRR and 45,000 runners proved that Sunday.  But this year is challenging us to rethink how we want to use it.  It won’t be enough to rely on what’s comfortable.  Charitable campaigns that incorporate social media will have to greatly accommodate the giver and leverage the entire medium in a new and unexpected way.  This is bound to get interesting.  So if you feel the urge to “give it up” this year on the social web, know that you’re onto something really big.

Keith Richards Builds a Digital Life

Keith Richards’ new autobiography Life debuted yesterday, and from what I know about the man and his band, the book must truly be full of it!  In the best, most irreverent, original kind of way, of course.

Keith’s book of Life has a great digital consciousness including a cool, but understated site,, and all the expected social links. Though I will say, Mr. Richards’ fandom and followings are not-unexpectedly small (given his generational chords); while, his publisher – Little, Brown – has a quite robust social outreach.

So, even before listening to his own introduction to the book, uploaded at, you get a flavor for just how real the book and experience is going to be.  This digital primer provides the emotional glue to the man and his place in the world that a book by itself could never really do.

Little, Brown has done a great job using Twitter in the days leading up to the book release, from seeding bite-sized juicy quotes and factoids, to trivia question giveaways, to even seeding clips of Johnny Depp reading the audio book. Fans have been posting about the book to Keef’s Facebook wall as well, adding fan drawings, photos of ticket stubs and more.

There are some missed opportunities here, too. Keef’s Twitter feed is clearly the work of a publicity team, and has no feel of coming from the man itself – a shame when you have one of the most unique, defining personas of the past 40 years of pop culture to leverage. There’s no sense of interaction between the icon and his fans on Twitter or Facebook, which many followers now rightly come to expect.

Nonetheless, how fitting that such a historically-significant musician from one of the most defining bands of any generation writes a memoir titled Life and it actually comes alive, in an emotionally relevant digital experience. Proving once again, as we inch towards 2011, that it now does take a “digital village” to really tell a story for this generation, let alone telling the amplified story of a musician for any generation!

There’s a “Face Time” for That! How “Face Time” Changes Everything!

Apple has changed the way many people do business and do living. But most of what Apple has done is show what we were missing, when we had no idea we were missing it. It is Steve Jobs’ genius to be able to create need (and sell that need) as part of the human condition. Most very successful and ultra creative people become wealthy filling a need in the marketplace, Mr. Jobs is of the rare few able to cultivate need time and time again.
But the need I believe Mr. Jobs intentionally (or unintentionally) brought to life is the need for more interpersonal, inter-business “face time”, but not of his making. Not magically on his iphone4 when connected to another one or even played out via Skype, but real human face time in the same room at the same time. Why? Because we are people, at least most of us reading this, and people- especially emotionally connected ones- connect to other people’s vibes and other people’s visceral output. It’s true, human’s secrete emotional juices when they are excited about an idea and/or about other exciting stuff- can we agree to just leave it at that?!
Given secretion happens, one would think that THAT alone should get any selling or client presentation situation away from Go 2 Meeting time, let alone email it in time, to some face time. But it is so easy not to think of the difference, not to believe being in a real room at the same time could make all the difference in the world in connecting on a human and big idea level. We’ve made it too easy to ignore our human-ness and even easier to buy into our technology enabled plug-in anywhere pluggins!

I am glad our agency has bought into the power and potential to make “meeting in human” whenever possible (and whenever cost smart, time smart) as a better way to do business. We know our client’s see the potential of “real face time” meetings when ideas go from the screen to a sketch (or ipad) to a full blown and totally spontaneous brainstorm. It’s like the truest form of emotional currency taking over and creating a world of its own.

Real time, real human meetings create the unscripted reality that other forms of information sharing just can’t.  It is just this “serendipity” that often gets lost not only in translation, but totally today.  So to be more relevant to your clients and to the creative and digital world we inhabit today, make the effort to make it real- whenever you can.

You’ll be glad you did!!!