Archive for April, 2009
Get ready for a pseudo-intellectual musing with nebulous (non-applicable, even) data as proof-point, followed by a personal, yet industry-related insight that by sheer coincidence happened to occur while speaking on a panel at ad:tech. (Matthew Charlton’s earlier post inspired me to use the Google search method to make a point. His was better than mine . Anyway, here goes…
A quick Google search yielded the following:
# of results for ’simple’ = 736,000,000
# of results for ‘complex’ = 260,000,000
Question: ’simple’ outnumbers ‘complex’ by 3x the article results on Google because…
a. Simplicity is more difficult to define than complexity, logically resulting in more attempts to expound upon its meaning.
b. Simplicity is more desirable than complexity, and therefore is the topic of more debate as to the means of attaining it.
c. Seriously, make your point already, dick.
d. That was the only example that worked out in your favor (try ’simplicity’ vs. ‘complexity’…).
My point with simplicity, as it applies to interactive creatives is this: KIFS. Keep It Fucking Simple. This goes for internal creative director presentations, as well as client presentations. If you can’t explain the core of your concept in a sentence, you are in big trouble.
I was speaking about something completely different on the panel at ad:tech when this idea slipped out of my face, and it ultimately became a bigger point than the one I had intended to make. The idea of a single-sentence explanation of your interactive work is an important one, because when we talk about things ‘going viral’ or becoming ’sharable’ or ’spreadable’ or ’social’, we are essentially saying that your concept is pure enough to be communicated quickly amongst a group of friends (we can put aside the quality of the idea for a moment here and just assume it is awesome or funny or culturally relevant).
So why should it be a single sentence? Because that’s about all the time your user is going to give you when they talk about it with a friend, or tweet it, or post it on Facebook. If they can’t communicate the heart of your project that quickly, they probably won’t get it in the first place, and certainly won’t bother trying to explain it to others. I’ve seen enough full-page descriptions of online ideas, complete with multiple pages of comps, to know that if the core of the idea isn’t pure, none of that extra work is going to sell it through. Note: this doesn’t mean that the execution necessarily needs to be simple – there are plenty of examples of beautifully complex interactive work out there – but if you want your user to walk away with a clear takeaway, then, well, your idea needs to be clear as well.
Therefore it’s logical that the creative process should begin with the simple exercise of trying to communicate the core of your idea in this short format. (for the really talented creatives: see if you can fit it in a tweet). This will help you when it comes time to show the CD or The Client. They’ll get the idea faster, see how it can be sharable, and you’ll get the opportunity to take the idea further… assuming it is a good idea in the first place… but that’s a whole other pseudo-intellectual musing.
(Now that I think about it, this is a pretty complex post for the topic of simplicity…)
We are back to the future. New media social technologies have aligned with a return to the local. While we are more connected than ever, more able to communicate, purchase, and virtually visit worlds away from where we sit in real space, we are finding increased value in our locale. The worlds of the networked digital and the physical were bound to collide with awesome results. Steward Brand’s classic Whole Earth Catalog has been called by one of its former editors, Kevin Kelly, and super fan Steve Jobs, an analog web and blog before we even had the technology. Now that the technology is integral to many of our daily lives it is amazing and wonderful there is once again a return to the local. Now the local is geo tagged, networked and revealed in ways we may have never foreseen but ultimately is more useful and oddly healthy to support local growth and sustainability.
Software tools that are supporting this back to the local range from blog and news feeds such as outside.in and everyblock to review sites like yelp and the citysearch -myspace hookup (yes they did) and sites that are curating event listings like flavorpill, and of course the locally grown movement and fallen fruit movement and even locally made products via etsy’s local finder. Then there is the array of geo-tagging software for sharing media such as on flickr , and phone apps such as loopt that let others know where your are in any location and apps for what songs you listened to along the route you walked or photos you took etc. These tools are aiding in our rich awareness and interaction in our locales and making communities more dynamic and vibrant.
All this is super cool, but as an agency with national-reach brands, how can we work with this local movement? We must work with it, embrace it and celebrate the brands’ role in the lives of people in a given community. That may mean speaking the vernacular of a community or supporting some of these tools thru media buys and sponsorship programs. It is worth our time to encourage and engage our clients to create local actions. This is something we can do thru social media and real world events. It may seem obvious, but we often get so busy solving the brands’ national vision that we forget to focus on how they can be stronger members of the communities where their customers are.
Let me know your thoughts on successes and cool examples of brands finding this voice.
In celebration of Modernista!’s site being nominated for three Webby Awards, I’d like to offer a shoutout to fellow nominee Isabella Rossellini for her brutally honest portrayal of a copulating praying mantis, in season one of the Sundance Channel’s Green Porno series.
Long live web video.
By the way, you can vote for Isabella or for us for The Webby People’s Voice Awards at http://pv.webbyawards.com.
Nearing my 20th (Jesus H. Christ!) year in the marketing / communications business, I am perversely tickled when a campaign grabs me, squeezes a smile from my ego and shakes loose my wallet in a matter of minutes.
Starbucks has not always succeeded with its entertainment tie-ins (did you see Akeela and the Bee? Me neither) but they nail the sweet spot pretty consistently with music. (Full disclosure: Don MacKinnon, founder of Hear Music and former Vice President of Music & Entertainment of Starbucks Coffee Company, is now President of (RED) content and founder of (RED)WIRE, a Modernista! client.)
Such was the case when I stopped for coffee yesterday. Here in Boston I usually shop wicked local, but the big chain was there and I was jonesing. Winking from the counter was a sexy CD, SHE’S GOT SOUL. The cover design outlined various chick hairstyles in bubblegum pink against a chocolate background. Inside one hairdo, pink felt–covered liner notes peeked through, the texture of which reminded me of the lizard tongue on my son’s pop up book and an outfit I used to fit into.
Leela James, Shelby Lynne, Nina Simone. The packaging and the content combined smacked of 70’s soul, sex, funk and raw millennial angst all at once.Don’t do it, the cynical parent on my shoulder warned. You idiot. There is a fucking recession on. The sultry twentysomething hipster on my left shoulder, however, who used to stay up late, purred – Girl, that’s you. That is you.
I plunked down my $11.95 shamelessly. And as I left my beloved children and their spitup and smashed cheerios and fresh snots for the day and drove to work listening to Ruthie Foster’s “Heal Yourself,” I was catapulted into a great mood. Felt young, cool, invincible - not like a suburban, middle-aged mom battling the slow tumble toward cultural irrelevance.
Cause it’s not about how it feels to buy. It’s about how owning it makes you feel.
And that, friends, is what marketing is all about.
An awesome new app from Steve Lambert via Eyebeam: SELFCONTROL: a widget that blocks you from accessing your email, twitter, facebook… basically whatever you want for a specified amount of time. The downside? You can’t disable it until the timer runs out.
Wow. I am terrified to install this thing because I really, truly don’t have any self control. I’d be shipping my computer over to IT within the hour to get this app uninstalled. The idea itself is f’ing brilliant, I just wish I had the initiative to install it in the first place.
Ha, all right Google, you got me! I actually thought this autopilot thing was real. Ok, I admit it, I’m a sucker… and I forgot it’s April fool’s day. When I went to log in, I saw the image above, and it seemed odd, but oddly legit at the same time. Then I clicked through…
Autopilot is a app that automatically responds to your emails, so you don’t have to. According to Google “You may want to log in every week or so to ensure Autopilot is calibrated optimally.” Yeah, that might be a good idea. Check it out…