January 18, 20094 Comments

ON: Conversations


Shhhh... I hear something.  (my RSS feed-reader acting as a glass pressed against a thin wall) It's a Armano's conversation about A Moment of Truth for Digital Agencies.   The candid post spurred an observation about our entire industry.  Agencies still live in the "service" economy.  Visit an agency site, lots and lots of TALK about "conversations agencies".  Seems like an oxymoron when you read their case studies and capabilities and they show desperate :30-second spots, websites, widgets, landing pages and emails.  They may have changed logos, redesigned their web sites, started blogs
and re-thought their approaches but they are still servicing clients
who don't understand what it takes to deliver a real conversation.  Why is this?

I think there are a five factors driving this.

  1. Old definitions of Brands remain. Our clients who sell products or services have forgotten that a Brand is what consumers think and how they feel about their products.  The brand is my perception of the human characteristics consumers have given your product after becoming aware of your relevance. Great brands play on our emotions and facilitate our existing passions.   Brand managers are really product managers.  We the consumer are the "Brand" managers.

  2. Control issues. Most companies as well as brand and product managers are over protective of their images and don't want you to own their brands. They want you to buy their products, but they are unwilling to let go and listen to something besides their business school text books.
  3. Social relevancy. Do you have something interesting to say? If you want to want to have a conversation you need to know a little something about what's important to me.You should want to be provocative. If you want to sell me something you need to tap in to my desire to have a relevant conversation with me.  Most products miss this one entirely.
  4. Fear of standing for one thing and not everything. Most companies fear outside opinions. The point of marketing is to provoke a response. So what if my product says something that people do not agree with?  It's important to have an opinion and to take a stand.  You may actually learn something.  If you stand for fitness, what about your product facilitates that fitness? What "brand" of fitness do you stand for? If you stand for everything you will be a nothing. No one, no product and no brand can be everything to everyone.
  5. Bad listening skills. Some marketers and creatives have not stopped to listen.  The research is out there.  The passions are in constant evolution and people are talking in public so that we can measure their interests.  In the conversation economy the quiet listener and inquisitive spectator is the most an important asset.

The vast majority of product companies out there suffer from one or all of the above.  They too are still doing business in the "service" economy.  What they are missing is that consumers have been bombarded with constant one-way yelling for far too long.  That one-way yelling has reached the point of mass cynicism. Breaking through requires insightful connectivity no matter the medium.

There are a few products that have begun to create amazing conversations worth following. Pepsi, Dove, Flip Video, Nike and Showtime offer a great learning opportunity for marketing organizations.

Real conversations require courage.
You have to grow a pair. Decide what your going to say to consumers and be proud and consistent. You have to take a stand and be prepared to lead. Be prepared to be criticized, learn from that criticism while staying true to the core of the idea and never accept failure. Look at the evolution of Showtime.  The minute they decided to create original content that stood for something different - viewers followed and created tribal villages.


Conversations require social relevancy.
Be contemporary and of the moment.  People create movements products can facilitate them.  In America today we are the cusp of a new day.  A rebuild.  What will your product or service bring to that party? Look at Pepsi. (need i say more?)

or Flip VideoFlip has managed to be socially relevant through the constant innovation and putting their product at places that have social relevance. I look forward to seeing them yield emotional insights from their partnerships with YouTube and Facebook.  Those insights should lead them to a more emotional tapestry of conversations.

Conversations require deep insights and simple observations.
The need for psychological and sociological insight still remains. Listening to what people are saying is just as important as watching what people are doing. This is the key to making sure you are talking to the right people. Take a look at Nike. They decided they were going to be a fitness company instead of a shoe company.  They  have used technology, fitness tribes, and the power of peoples individual fitness needs to continue to innovate year after year.


another example of tapping true insight is Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty.


This one is evergreen as well as the conversation that started the ubiquitous drive for marketers to try and replicate this "lightening in a bottle" viral hit.  What I love about this example is that it not only uses insight, it continues to be socially relevant as well as courageous. Dove continues to strive to do the right thing for woman despite the critics.

Now that we have a few examples of conversations that have created brand movements we should strive to look at what we need to do to be change agents for our clients and agencies. 

Which companies and or agencies have managed to create a real conversation?  Which companies have done it all wrong? And during the downturn who will use conversations to connect people with their products?

ON: Conversations via @jpenabickley

January 8, 2008No Comments

ON: Dove’s Portable Ads For Real Beauty


The Idea: Self-esteem is worth sharing

Dove has begun giving users a message to carry into our communities and to our daughters.  This portable ad is easy to use badge for woman to display in their social networks. 

The one thing that the ad could use is one click installation features that are offered by Widget companies such as Spring Widgets, Gigya and Widget Box.  It would also be nice if Dove gave us tips and tools to help build self esteem.

ON: Dove’s Portable Ads For Real Beauty via @jpenabickley

October 9, 2007No Comments

ON: Dove & Why Real Works

I have been evangelizing for years that "keeping it real" is as important as "keeping it simple"  I have had the luxury of studying and practicing my creative craft  under such creative greats as Mark Beeching and Marc Garbarini who taught me to see things for what they are. 

In order to tell a great visual story we must artfully move passed the BS and get to the end of the song.  (let the fat lady sing)

This is exactly what the Dove brand has done with Onslaught.   They have exquisitely combined social responsibility with its brand. (again.)

I love that Kestin and the Gang at Ogilvy in Toronto stopped Dove from pretending to be outside of the beauty industry, and takes a stand it defines its own (branded) kind of beauty.  For a mother of three girls this is something so rich about this as we go through puberty together!

ON: Dove & Why Real Works via @jpenabickley

January 31, 2007No Comments

ON: Nike’s The Second Coming Mashup


For a marketing trend to be legit, Nike jumps on board and makes it legit, letting everybody else make mistakes before it swoops in with its gigantor marketing team and victorious hear-me-roar worldview.

To illustrate, they improved on Dove's decent but docile Real Beauty campaign, not just representing imperfections but embracing them with manic ferocity, even writing little manifestos about the merits of thunder thighs - which would be crazy-lame if done by anybody else but Nike.

So it's apt that they call their take on consumer-generated ads "The Second Coming”.
And instead of begging for whatever you can pull out of your tushi  (a method yielding only ironic or lackluster <http://tinyurl.com/lvok7> results), they've wrapped an iron fist around the potential outcomes.

With footage featuring all-stars like Bryant, LeBron and Nash, users can manipulate the order of the clips and choose a version of a hand-picked theme song, The Second Coming by Juelz Santana and Just Blaze.

Stringent much? Hell yes. Nike's careful about the brand appropriation beast. While such controls get frowns from zealous consumer-is-king marketers, the swoosh goddess didn't become an ideology powerhouse for nothing.

Users can download their mash-ups or disseminate them on mobile phones.
No promises of ad spots here. This is less a consumer-generated ad thing and more an interactivity-with-the-brand thing. And these days, we like that somebody has the discipline to hold fast to their position.

Visit this site - http://www.nikemashup.com/

ON: Nike’s The Second Coming Mashup via @jpenabickley

January 1, 2007No Comments

ON: Super Bowl & The need for a broader brand story

The buzz about Integrated Marketing remains strong, but this year's
Super Bowl proved that talk is cheap. This year's array of ads shows
that most marketers are still banking on standalone, creative-heavy
spots to capture customer attention.

Forrester believes that only by
integrating television spots with existing campaigns and multiple
channels will marketers be able to stay relevant for today's empowered

Which ads showed the best team spirit? I give My top votes
to: Burger King, Dove, and GoDaddy.

ON: Super Bowl & The need for a broader brand story via @jpenabickley

December 29, 2006No Comments

ON: What makes a campaign viral – Good Content

In 2007, we must concentrate on engaging content.  Since Hollywood has turned out nothing but trash in the last year, marketers have taken to the internet with films that entertain us, cause conversation and more importantly get us to buy their products. 

It is time to begin to pitch the BIG IDEA in a new way.  A way that tells a story, a brand story that serves as an engagement model for future growth.  Use your planning departments to bring clarity and light to your story, let them help build the persona, allow creative and strategy to fuse together to infuse client relationships with relevant content that engage us at the necessary touch points.  Screw the deck and trade it in for the consumer engagement map.  Join me this year in engaging consumers in a dialog of discovery.

Here are a few of my favorites from 2006.

BMW & Madonna: Using the insight that 85% of their target consumers used the Internet
before buying a BMW, a series of short films were created by some of
the greatest action movie directors, aired only via the Internet (and
widely distributed over e-mail).  Read more at http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/546.asp

The Dove Evolution: A 75-second film released only on the Internet, it showcases the
typical make-over of a model into the unreal yet so-familiar beauty
that we see in cosmetics advertising. Over a million views on Youtube,
deep penetration of the blogosphere, and tremendous impact for the
brand. Read here for the full story, including a very detailed analysis of the campaign and its impact

Toyota Scion in Second Life
: The first brand to enter the virtual world of Second Life, with a
virtual dealership featuring customizable versions of the cars. All the details are here

ON: What makes a campaign viral – Good Content via @jpenabickley
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