Monday 29 December 2008

Part II

Rob Campbell who is unquestionably Asia's best planner brought my attention in the comments of my last post to the presentation he did at the PSFK Trends Conference in Singapore. On rereading it, I think it deserves reposting here.
Rob and I share many values so there's a lot of information osmosis that goes on, which is my smart arse way of saying I nick all his ideas and don't look to shabby as a result of it. In any case I think what makes the presentation important is that unlike my reputation for struggling to conceal any impatience with the gravy train called 20th century advertising business, Rob and the Cynic gang actually play at a very senior level in the industry and across many interesting dimensions. Their latest mission impossible because they like meaty challenges is Sunshine with M&C Saatchi, and you mark my words. M&C are on the ascendant as a result.

If there are any client side people reading this, the crucial point is that Rob is one of the handful of very senior and highly accomplished ad men in the business who is saying what he thinks and believes publicly; as the presentation reveals candidly.

Most senior advertising people I know only admit it's a gravy train privately. Three in the last two weeks. That's just here in Thailand although they aren't necessarily based here.

So here it is below and I think it conveys one more time that our business is possibly on the verge of the most exciting reincarnation since the introducton of television and if your agency aren't talking about the business in this way, if they aren't grabbing you by the lapels and trying to explain that there are new ways of solving old problems, the question you may need to ask if them is why?

Thursday 18 December 2008

Calling All Graphic Designers

I've been getting restless with my blog design for some months now. It's always been a bit of a sandbox, meaning I like to experiment with new stuff, and I intend to add new widgets as and when I think they could be interesting.
There's a kind of colour code. The background is black, the type is greyish and I use a bit of green to highlight some bits and pieces but that only really matters when I play with the colour palette on the widgets. But I'm bored of the look now and was intending to give it a facelift.

However it strikes me that there are much better designers out there than I, and I'd like to give you the chance to redesign it. The deal is that in return for making this blog look ship shape, maybe even tasteful, you (the designer) get to have your creds on it day in and day out and a link to your website.
I'm not expecting an avalanch of people to get in touch, but if there's only one, then we probably need to have have some to and fro about details, in case say the widgets need new colours, but if there's a few of you interested in having a crack at it, then it's a straight forward pitch.

Does that sound fair?

If not the comments are always a good place to chip in on how we could do it. Now that I've put my neck out, I expect a resounding silence to ensue and a few hours of tinkering with Blogger templates on my own.
I'd be well chuffed if someone could inject some style and substance into the design. The best idea I've seen recently is Peggy's blog which doesn't even have a title. I like that mininimal approach, plus I don't think anyone else has done it. Anyway, there are no restrictions. Everything can go if it's for the right reason. It would also be a pretty good showcase for the winners talents.

That's all I can guarantee.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

More Black Swan

Y'all know my appreciation for Taleb's interpretation of the world. There's nothing new here for me but it might be of interest to those who haven't come across him yet.

Via Smashing Telly

Thursday 11 December 2008

Think Tank

You've all revealed a huge weakness for bias and voted my Post Party Sweet Spot as post of the month over at Neil's. I think that and the the chance to display the badge along with the noble company from previous months is pretty much the highest honour I'd could hope to garner off the net. Peer recognition is lovely, warm and generous. I'm very grateful to  all of you who voted, really I am.

I think Neil is doing an outstanding job making sure we pay attention to what's out there.

I guess the Milky Bars are on me.


You may have noticed the new panel I'm sporting on the side of this blog called Google Friend Connect. Well that's there because I've been "Whitelisted" by Google who think I'm a big enough social meeja kahuna to invite me on board.

Yeah, check me out! *throws meaningless gang signs*

So if I haven't spammed the life out of you yet by joining Plaxo (who've allied with Google) and Google Friend Connect, don't feel shy to click on something over there, and join in because it's not like you actually have to really like me loads and loads to be my fwend.

I'm particularly interested in the open social platform as it develops and hey you get to come along for the ride too. Carrying our own social network data around has to be the future for some sort of transactional value relationships with the world of commerce and brands. It's pretty radical but will make a lot of sense when giving permission for interruptive or distractive marketing communications as the quid pro quo for utility or content.

Well something like that anyway, but the reason for this post is also to see if I've managed to get the Disqus comment system finally integrated. The last attempt was a template and commenting form disaster. And now that even Craig, Peggy and Eaon are Disqus'd up I feel I'm on the back foot for my geek creds.

I'd be most appreciative if one or two of you could attempt a comment but don't try too hard as I've probably buggered it up and will have to reinstall that scary .xml file now lurking on my desktop to get back to normal.

In the meantime here's a picture of Sam who has joined forces with Eaon at Geronimo which is where he's going to kick ass in the marketing communications industry. Yesterday on Skype, I made him swear on the baby Jesus and U.S. Supreme court justices not to release a certain "sensitive" file I've graciously shared with him but I have given him permission to show you the screen if you're ever around. Word is bond Sam!

On a more sober note, thanks all of you for the positive response to yesterday's post. I'll respond more fully but I'm really pleased that I can kind of throw that stuff out there and not be cut down in flames. The motivation for writing it was to hopefully encourage the idea of a back up plan. If that has worked then I'm a happy camper :)

Wednesday 10 December 2008

The soil will be much richer for the ashes.....


Take a good look around you. The operating system you’re using, the age of your computer, the furnishings, the cell phone you’re using, the clothes you’re wearing, even the watch strapped to your wrist or the cup of “four bucks” frappe/latte/cino number you’ve ordered in the coffee shop. Soak in all the little details of 21st century living and try and hold that image, because quite frankly I don’t think things are ever going to be the same again you see, because the ultimate green shopper is an oxymoron. The ultimate green shopper doesn't shop. That's the sick end of marketing.
We’ll probably never have as much new stuff around us as we are looking at now. It’s easy to become conditioned by new stuff, even easier to be dissatisfied with it all, wanting ever newer and more complex gadgets.

The financial meltdown that I first talked about over here hasn’t even really properly kicked off. As I understand it from the huge amount of reading I’ve been doing, it took four whole years for the depression to reach it’s full depth. I doubt if this one will take so long but let’s assume it’s three times as fast for the sake of arbitrary guessing because that is after all what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to guess what and when. I think I’ll get the times more wrong than the what.

My first attempts at trying to visualise the near future ended up with a sort of feeling that the developed world such as the United States and the E.U. would take more of a hit than the developing world, and that stands to reason doesn’t it? The lower the per capita GDP, the less the potential fall in the standard of living.

The bigger they are the harder they fall so to speak.

But having spent some time looking at the China figures, there’s a whole world of pain there too, that takes on a different dimension because of the sheer scale of the numbers. 20 million migrant workers already back on the farms and changing the demographics probably forever. It really is a hell of a mess whatever way we cut the figures.

The nasty pill to swallow is the potential for the food chain to break down. We’ve already seen an institution like Woolworths hit the floor and yet that’s just a taste of where it’s heading. Woolworths was always like the sick puppy on the edge of the pack that failed to make money in the good times when money was abundant, and thus is first to go as money liquidity tightens. Who is next? National Express coaches? Debenhams? 3 mobile phone network? Which business entity (which brand) has been running on vapours during the good years? Those are the people who are likely to bow out first. But it’s worse than that isn’t it? Because if someone who moves or distributes food about takes a hit from liquidity problems then that’s the end of very specific foodstuffs in our supermarkets. Some are talking about the need for growing local food again; turning gardens into allotments - which is ironic given the sweet spot thing I talked about and how local foods are the least carbon intensive. So who is the weakest supermarket in the UK these days? Is it Safeway? Does Safeway even still exist? It’s been some years since I looked at UK supermarkets but the point is still the same. Who is the weakest in the pack? Local food folks. Read or listen to Rushkoff or Paterson if it’s a smarter mind than mine you seek.

Anyway there is the worst of it, those links are some of the really smart people out there (Rushkoff is my new Daddy!) who are capable of making the meta leap over the information that I would take an age to digest and the suggestion that they conclude upon is the likelihood of a loss of confidence in traditional paper money, and a potential return of local currencies (barter is always good too, barter is very good). They also suggest the end of retail or put another way the end of abundance.

I think that seems a fair suggestion to make.

I always had a few problems with the ‘free’ economy, and that was mainly because it could only be accessed by the wealthy participants. It’s not really FREE is it if only we can access it and a vast amount of people in the world who live on a dollar a day have no access to it at all? That’s not free, that’s called privileged isn’t it? I am, and so are you if you’re reading this. We're privileged and don't you forget it.

I guess the 'free economy' or model is starting to look a bit like irrational exuberance when all is said and done. Nothing is for free isn't it? Not even if those transistors that are infinitely able to make themselves faster or smaller. The point is you can’t eat transistors. Just a thought folks. Try living off Moore’s law if you’re hungry.

So if we’re moving from the age of abundance to an age of scarcity what impact does that have on marketing communications? Well given the paucity of marketing communications on Red Square in Moscow during the 80’s, or on Tiananmen Square in Beijing today (out of courtesy) or across the entire length of North Korea I’d say that in an age of scarcity not abundance the need for marketing communications is drastically reduced. I don’t know how much is left. I do know that whatever is left will be fought for, and highly competitive. It will probably be damm good too. I just don’t know how much of the pie is left after the party is over and all that is left is an almost immeasurable canyon of debt. For that is all there is left it seems. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan will be OK. They did well out of the last great depression didn’t they?

As far as I can figure out the only ‘rewire our economies’ ideas that those at the Treasury and at the Fed are capable of coming up with work along the lines of consumption will get us out of this mess. Can you believe that? Do you really believe that?

This is gross intellectual fraud isn’t it? Didn’t excess consumption put us in this mess in the first place? I keep going back to a comment I read on Naked Capitalism; that the soil will be much richer for the ashes and yet it seems that the stateside Wall Street and Whitehouse folk are hell bent on denial that we’re even on fire, all the while fueling the flames with more and more borrowed money to put off the impending collapse of the financial system. Yet isn’t that the logical conclusion. Shouldn’t the system collapse before new shoots of growth emerge? The soil will be much richer for the ashes.....remember that.

Probably a lot of you are thinking this is unnecessarily gloomy, yet I’m not unhappy. I’m more optimistic about the future than at any other time in my life, in a perverse kind of way.

I know that all those with businesses and mortgages or negative equity in property or worthless shares or credit card bills up to their eyeballs will be very reluctant to read a post of this nature, and truthfully I’m no seer or a prophet. But what I am able to do that most it seems are really really reluctant to engage with, is play with the notion that things really aren’t good at all this time and to take those arguments to the logical conclusion. Most it seems would prefer not to ‘go there’. I’m able to, for reasons of planning, foresight and an ounce of luck.

I think we just saw the end of the renaissance that began in the middle ages. I think it finally is coming to an end. I think we have a new renaissance around the corner and just like the last we’re also emerging from the drudgery of a black death or plague that has inflicted and is yet to inflict more misery everywhere. A selfish age at the end wasn’t it?

I don’t think advertising is that important to me at the moment. I want to see the carnage before I go into how socialist media is likely to be part of the solution. We’re all in it together after all.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Clay Parker Jones

The Interwebs
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: hoffman_york web_design)

If it all seems a bit complicated for you then it's 20th century marketing that has probably messed you up. This is a sweet but precise presentation from Clay Parker Jones