Sunday, April 29, 2007
It's up there at the top of WTF. Why is it there? What does it mean? What does it have to do with some dude's ramblings about marketing, media, pop culture, agency life?
The Short Answer: Everything.
The Slightly Longer Answer:
Every post I make is, and will be, made with intent, with purpose; i.e., I'm not going to post just to post. With the best of intentions I will always try to post something that I believe will be of interest to someone. However, at this point in the (de)evolution of the Internet (i.e.: Web 2.0; or per Dumenco, et al: 1. ±7) – once you flush something through the Intertubes for all to see, hear, email, comment on, repost, repurpose, et cetera, ad nauseum – Context can be a bitch. And that gets us to Perception.
[Clunky, ham-handed metaphor alert. – Ed.] So, you toss whatever piece of infomeat you've got – a blog posting, a video, a photo, a forum comment – into the gaping maw of mob opinion that is the Web and the Web masticates the f*ck out of this new piece of meat and decides if it likes the taste. It decides what flavor it is – it decides what this fresh piece of information means. The Web decides what you meant. Did you toss it a tasty morsel of sustenance or poisoned, rotten garbage? (There's a bit of an ironic paradox here in that sometimes (often?) a piece perceived as poisoned, rotten garbage actually provides more sustenance for the Web than the tasty morsel.)
The Web hates to be deceived; it hates to be insulted. It hates the perception that there is intent to deceive or insult. Frequently, the context that processes benign intent into perceived malevolent intent is that the Web expects to be deceived and insulted. I suppose it's a defense mechanism but as mentioned earlier the context it provides can be a real bitch.
The Too Late to Say, “Long story short.” Answer:
I directed a piece of work released to the Web for which deception and insult could not have been further from the intent. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to exert the degree of control that I would have liked – and that, I regret – but, quite frankly, the work was and was always intended to be a benign piece of harebrained buffoonery. [See Clients! Pt. 2 for more on HBB – Ed.] It was hoped that it might be received as such. However, regardless of their genesis and cultivation in an ill-informed and semi-hysterical mob fueled mentality, I understand and accept the accusations by some (most) that the buffoonery was stupid, lame, sad. Pathetic even. However, the buffoonery was never intended to insult and the identity of the perpetrators of said buffoonery was intended to be transparent. Client and agency alike were originally meant to be front and center as the purveyors of the content – no deceit, real or perceived. Well, as things often do, things got lost in translation somewhere between us (the agency) a good idea, a radically compressed timeline, the client, a slow-moving chain of communication and, most significantly, woefully miscalculated expectations by all involved of how the work would be perceived by a Web that was predisposed (for any number of reasons that I won't go into here) to dislike the taste of the ‘meat’ we had tossed it.
The If You've Read This Far Answer:
Opinions, a**holes, blogs – everybody has one. Except for me at the time. I didn't have one – a blog that is. I wished I had. I was prohibited from responding professionally (and truth be told, personally) but that didn't stop me from wanting a forum from which to try to explain, to try to defend myself and my team against the Opinion Mob of A**holes with Blogs that were redefining our intent to fuel their vitriol. If their intent was to 'teach somebody a lesson', in the context of 'angry web mob insulted by perceived deception', the intent was not misconstrued. Point taken. Lesson learned. And client lost, by the way.
Anyway… I have an opinion, I have (and can be) an a**hole – now I have a blog. Intent, Context, Perception. WTF?, indeed.
And that's all I'll say about that.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Looks like we've got a theme going here to close out the week.
Today from AdAge.com's Small Agency Diary blog – this piece that suggests a solution should you have one or all (or all-in-one) of the 8 Types as a client. The author asks,
"...what happens when the client doesn't want to be led?".
This is a question we're always wrestling with. In the ad/mktg biz there's a tendency by a great number of clients to receive your informed and considered professional opinion as something more like a suggestion if not outright harebrained buffoonery. The author's solution? Fire 'em.
If you haven't guessed – I had a client this week who was havin' none of it.
Oh, and sometimes it is harebrained buffoonery. But, as they say: The exception proves the rule.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Just had this exact exchange with a client! Truth >/= Fiction.
The rest of The 8 Types of Bad Creative Clients and a few more from Tom Fishburne's often disturbingly familiar and always chuckle-worthy, Brand Camp. And be sure to keep a copy of 8 Types handy – every client you have (or will ever have) is represented.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
A weekly (Tuesdays) list of what I'm doing with my eyes and ears (and thumbs?). It is by no means a comprehensive list – just of the moment. If something strikes me between Tuesdays I'll update here – so check back.
• So, I finish reading an article on the 'New Doucheoisie' (who knew?) in the latest Details (May, 07), Have You Become "That Guy"? (the short answer – probably), and I flip back to the front to see who authored it and... Surprise! It's Simon Dumenco! (See previous post: Everybody has one.) Apparently he's 'The Media Guy' and 'the douchy guy'. In the article he proposes the unfortunately titled theory of "trickle down douchenomics".
"When you think about it, douchey entitlement has surely been aided and abetted by economic forces bigger than all of us–the real-estate bubble and the latest dot-com boom–creating grassroots-level douchebags everywhere."
Worth reading if only to confirm what you already know – that you may in fact be a douchebag.
And on a related note.
• Also trying to find time to devour the latest iss of Fast Company. I'll update if something strikes me.
• Wanted to get this off my chest. Then We Came To The End is not as good as the reviews would have you believe. Not even close. It sounded like it was going to be right in my wheelhouse, right up the middle, get in bed with DFWallace, Franzen, Eggers, et al. I even work in the damn industry that provides the setting. But unless I really missed something – somebody sold the
• Hope this gets wider release before we leave for Paris.
• ADDED: Last year's Best British Band Ever!, The Arctic Monkeys have come back strong with a new long-player, Favourite Worst Nightmare, that only strengthens their case. I wore out my MP3s of WPSIA,TWIN and I'm certain I will destroy this album as well. I love these guys!
• ADDED: Bassnectar – Underground Communications [Album]: A long player of sticky, breaky, bassy, electric production goodness executed consistently and damn well. If you want just a taste, get the Yo Remix EP first. Avail at the iTS. Watch the Bomb The Blocks vid.
• Sirius Radio. I don't know much about the merger/no merger but I'm lovin' my Sirius more everyday. I came for Howard (I know, I know), but stayed for the awesome channel variety. First Wave takes me back to the late 80's/early 90's, Chill rocks a great mix of downtempo electronic and alt cuts. And my new favorite Left of Center has been turning me on to some great new/slightly used alt/college stuff. Like:
• SUEB(AED) Player Pick: Wolf Parade – You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son. I realize I slept on this for 2 years. Whatever. If you dig Pixies/Modest Mouse/with just a hint of Bauhaus. You'll dig this cut. Check it out.
• CocoRosie – Rainbowwarrior. Just heard this on the way to work this morning and haven't been able to get it out of my head. DL it for free (and I'm pretty sure legally) here. Then let me know if you can get it out of yours.
• Mux Mool – Lost and Found. This is one that I'm not sure I heard on Sirius – I don't know where I heard this cut first. But I do know that the moment I heard it I fell in love with. (And I would marry it – if I were a fundamentalist Mormon) It's an elegant little piece of vaguely melacholy electronica – bittersweet. It's available from the iTS on a nice compilation of similar works, The Rorschach Suite.
• Sanjaya's gone.
• Heroes is back. Great episode. If this is a guilty pleasure, so be it. It's like a cheesy old school '70s comic book come to life.
• The new seasons of the Sopranos and Entourage are everything I'd expected and hoped they would be. I'm surprised to find that I don't think I'll miss Sopranos when it's gone and I hope Entourage sticks around for a while.
• Still haven't gotten around to DLing the new/old Halo Blastacular maps. Can't wait to check 'em out.
Monday, April 23, 2007
It seems that everyone and their mother has one. In fact, just this weekend, only a few short days after my own rather inauspicious enlistment into the ranks of the blognoscenti, I encouraged both my mom and my dad to start blogging. (I'm certain they'd be at no loss for interesting posts.) But I've quickly realized that having a blog and doing something worthwhile with it are two entirely different things. Blogging is hard!
I started this blog because I always seem to have, in the words of our CEO in an email just this week, "an opinion about EVERYTHING" (caps hers). I think it was a compliment. Yet faced with the 'blank page' as it were and a bit of time this evening I'm finding it difficult to get traction on any of the pieces I want to write.
I found some small solace in Simon 'The Media Guy' Dumenco's op-ed piece from the April 16 issue of Advertising Age. In it he suggests that much of Web 2.0 is driven and supported by quantity (often vapid) – rather than quality. Or, in his words:
"Everybody is pretending they're pushing the envelope -- but, in fact, they're mostly shuffling envelopes. And if you looked inside of 'em, chances are you'd find most to be rather empty."
Maybe it's not a particularly revolutionary revelation, but I'm not inclined to disagree.
Or, put another way:
"71 million blogs... some of them have to be good."
This from a quote, attributed only to 'Mark' found at the top of the blog index of record Technorati.com.
So, since I have no interest in handing the few readers I may have (Hi, mom!) one more 'empty envelope' I'm going to get a handle on a story by the end of the week and try to craft something with a bit more substance.
In the meantime, check back tomorrow for this week's SUEB(AED). And though my weekly ‘media consumed’ list it may not push the envelope – I should at least be able to stuff it.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
More of a list than a feature really. A weekly list of what I'm doing with my eyes and ears (and thumbs?). It is by no means a comprehensive list – just of the moment. It's also probably worth noting that with few exceptions this isn't where I'll post web-based content that I'm consuming. We'll see how it evolves. Here goes:
• Wired. Apr.2007. Recommended: The See-Through CEO.
• Rolling Stone. Issue 1024, April 19, 2007 Recommended: Matt Taibbi's piece, Cheney's Nemesis. Taibbi continues to wow me. There's no replacement for HST nor is there a substitute for PJO'R but like those two giants Taibbi's got giant balls and he knows how to use 'em. (The Pen x Matt Taibbi's Giant Balls > The Sword)
• Re-reading Snow Crash. Neal Stephenson's seminal 1992 'cyberpunk' novel. Muhfuhkuh was prescient!
• The Road. Cormac McCarthy. I'm a big fan of McCarthy. I think I've read everything he's written. Got this in hardcover the day it was released but in light of Oprah's recent endorsement wanted to post to strongly suggest to those that might be put off by said endorsement that they should read it. You should read it and be afraid. Seriously. A compelling and mesmerizing, brutally dystopian nightmare.
• As a sort of prelude to our Paris honeymoon, Hol and I went to see Avenue Montaingne on a whim. A sweet, appetite-whetting confection.
• On the completely opposite end of the cinematic spectrum, I finally watched Children of Men. Not unlike The Road in many respects. This is another powerful, gripping dystopic vision.
• LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver. Can't wait to sing North American Scum at the top of my lung [sic] when we're in Paris: "I hate the feeling when you're looking at me that way – cause we're North Americans!".
• The Good, The Bad and The Queen's eponymous release is still in heavy rotation. A case could be made that it could have been a Gorillaz album. But what's in a name? It's still another gem from the prolific Damon Albarn. Herculean is the cut I can't get out of my head.
• The lastest from Kings of Leon – Because of the Times. Their debut will never be anything less than 'momentous' for me – influenced by the 'awe of discovery' I felt when I first heard them. But, this, their third album, only adds to the dilema should one be forced to choose a favorite.
• It's Tuesday! Sanjaya must go!
• The Office and 30 Rock. If you're not – do.
I'm not playing anything at the moment. After finishing the phenomenal Gears of War, I had a brief dalliance with whatever the last Tomb Raider was (it's that unmemorable) but am currently biding my time waiting for the deluge of greatness that is coming. Check back next week for more on this topic.
So, I’ve now been an active daily resident of Second Life (hereafter referred to frequently as SL) for roughly a month now. Active was initially a euphemism for shopping (for clothes, sunglasses, cigarettes!, you know the stuff you need to live), but has since become active in a much richer sense of the word.
I was prompted to finally take the plunge after a spate of internal agency email ‘chatter’ regarding SL started picking up and I realized no one really knew what they were talking about – myself included. I’d read quite a bit of the mainstream breathless buzz surrounding this ‘new frontier’ and a bit of the SL? WTF? stuff being written and seen some very intriguing personal accounts coming out of SL – but I hadn’t experienced it. I hadn’t lived a second life.
And, now that I’m in I’ve found that I’m in as the person, the gamer, the sci-fi/fantasy geek, the unapologetic escapist that I am and have willingly and completely left the professional marketer behind. At least the Real Life/First Life (hereafter referred to as RL) marketer.
I’ll try to explain.
Having been in for a few weeks and having to leave my avatar where he stood (or sat) upon returning to RL, I was struck by the near overwhelming desire to have a place to ‘go home to’. So, a little over a week ago, I decided to go ‘home hunting’ for a place to rent/lease/buy. While out exploring different regions, I was timidly approached by a noob fresh off Orientation Island for help. Apparently after two weeks ‘in country’ I appeared (to someone only hours-old at least) to have ‘gone native’. So, with that validation, I now considered myself a resident as opposed to a tourist. And my perception of the (second) world immediately underwent a distinct shift. It’s almost the identical shift my sense of place (and self) underwent when, living in Paris years ago, an American tourist approached me asking for directions – in French.
But I digress. Suffice it to say, I have a home now. (A second home, if you will – I’m renting a nice little two room hillside condo on Parva.)
So, it’s as a resident that I offer some these thoughts on RL brands in SL:
My avatar wears SL brands exclusively (by SL designers from SL stores). The notable exception is a beautifully rendered pair of Adidas from the Adidas SL store – and I’m almost constantly conflicted about wearing a RL brand.
With that single exception, my current position is that I don’t need RL brands but more importantly I don’t particularly want RL brands in SL. And, my sense is that for the most part the people who spend the most time there don’t either. That’s not to say it isn’t ‘doable’, but it’ll take some more time for me to get a fix on how RL brands might best integrate themselves into SL for them to be accepted and widely successful. Regardless, nobody in SL seems to be interacting significantly with the RL venues/brands.
As an escapist that appreciates immersive experiences virtual and otherwise (i.e. video games, books, film), the lure of ‘living’ in SL has been very seductive. It’s a rich, varied, sometimes stunning world once you begin to explore beyond the commercial centers. And that’s just what I was doing – exploring, looking for a place to call ‘home’ – when Justin in IT sent this article from Fortune.
"Real estate deals may be slowing in the real world, but in the three-dimensional online one of Second Life the market remains hot. Now Coldwell Banker, one of the nation's largest real estate brokerage firms, is entering Second Life, aiming to help bring order to the chaotic world of virtual real estate."
It’s safe to say, I don’t want to live in a Coldwell Banker home in SL. I won’t debate the need for a RL real estate broker (Real estate! It’s in the job description fer chrissakes!) But, I want to use an SL broker (or more accurately in my case the SL classifieds) to find an SL home designed by an SL architect.
Ah, crap. Here’s where I get all hypocritical an’ shit. Okay, there are going to be exceptions. Full disclosure: The Adidas aren’t the only exception to my RL-influenced belongings. I have in my condo a pair of expertly rendered reproductions of Mies’ Barcelona chair. And, here’s an example of where I think an RL brand missed the boat; DWR could have/should have been in there crafting the officially licensed pieces. As it is, SL designers are lovingly crafting beautiful replicas of mid-century modern classics (you can buy a perfect replica of Phillip Johnson’s Glass House! To live in!). So, who needs DWR?
At roughly the same time that Justin had sent the Coldwell Banker article, Meredith, our new business guru, was asking me to write a white paper on my initial experiences in Second Life and my thoughts on how our clients might benefit from presence in SL . My reaction, as you might guess, was that the paper I’d write would not be what the agency nor our clients necessarily wanted to hear. I’d have a hard time separating the "Second Life for Second Lifers!" SL resident from the RL "Strategically this could be a smart translation of your brand into the virtual space." marketer.
Then I came across this blog posting from Eric Kintz, VP of Global Marketing Strategy & Excellence for HP, and realized that I couldn’t have said it better myself. Certainly not without completely forsaking the escapist in me.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Okay, last post for Day 1 of WTF. But it's well-worth noting.
I'm thrilled to be getting married on May 11 to a woman without whom I'd just be a grumpy old bastard of 40 but with whom I'll be a grumpy old bastard of 40 with a wonderful wife.
We're honeymooning in Paris.
Okay, I just wanted to get this out there – I'm a smoker.
I'm an unrepentant smoker. I have little to no interest in quitting and I believe, despite hysteria to the contrary, that smoking can be as good for one's mental health as it is purportedly bad for your physical health.
I'm also a relatively considerate smoker. I don't smoke inside my own house or my car. Even when the option is offered, I don't smoke inside anyone else's house or car. If I'm smoking – say, outside at a restaurant – and someone asks me to move or stop – I move or stop. I smoke because (in addition to the admitedly raging addiction) I really, really enjoy it. I enjoy the ritual of it. I enjoy flipping up the top of the pack... actually, it starts further back than that. I enjoy getting a new pack, removing the cellophane, flipping up the top , removing the foil, and drawing a cigarette out of the pack. I enjoy pulling my Zippo™ out of my pocket and flipping its lid to draw the wheel against the flint. I enjoy raising the flame to the tip of the cigarette. I enjoy inhaling (not necessarily deeply but I do enjoy inhaling). And I enjoy exhaling (In a sort of hybrid Ameri-Franco exhale I'm told).
I particularly enjoy smoking with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
Anyway, in reading a couple of Vonnegut obits I came across an interview from 2004 where he references his life-long smoking habit and I have to think he felt how I feel about smoking (and maybe life in general):
Vonnegut “Well, I smoke a lot, you know.”
Interviewer: Pall Malls?
Vonnegut “I’ve got a lawsuit against Brown & Willliamson now. Because I have been chain-smoking Pall Malls since I was 11. And on their package they promised to kill me.” (laughs)
Interviewer: They’ve done a very poor job of it.
Jon, in the office next to mine, was yelling something out his door this morning (a Monday, I might add) to Travis about meeting on some project on "Wednesday?!? Thursday?!? Friday?!?" I yelled back, "WTF?!?" And that's where the name came from as well as the impetus to finally and immediately start my own blog.
I thought: "I'll start a blog, I'll call it WTF and I'll only post on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays! You clever bastard."
However... as noted earlier, it's Monday. And rather than lose what little momentum simply having a name for the blog has provided, the name will stick the concept won't. It wasn't that clever.
[See also: “Intent, Context and Perception.”. – Ed.]