Sunday 23 November 2008

Social Causes

It's interesting isn't it that social causes like political movements appear to have more traction in social media than plain selling (i.e Not what's in it for me, What's in it for us?) James pitched in here about social value as more important than brand value though they could be the same thing sometimes in the future, and I wrote back here and here and God knows elsewhere, that this is the time for brand's to live with real values. It's not important whether they're left or right with their politics or their social causes, but whether they have a standpoint at all. The days of placing wealth creation at the centre of the wealth creation model seem to be diminishing when I see great creative ideas like this don't you think?

Couple that with a tweet I picked(nicked) off Faris early this Sunday morning, which single handedly redefines the academic definition of marketing, and I think we might see a valuable role for brands in social media. Only thing is they need to have some values and a standpoint in the first place. Not many yet are there? But surely it's only a matter of time before a global FMCG brand becomes the first to really stand behind say a powerful idea like 'campaign for real beauty' across all it's products and not just be cynical about one while pushing another message with others.

C'mon what are you waiting for? It's a mini depression and you all look and sell the same things. Stand for something.

Hat Tip to Mark Earls for spotting this even if we're having a wee squabble over the potential for neuro-ideas over at the deviant's place. You will have to go visit Marks to see the idea anyway as the object embedding is not working with Blogger.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

The Post Party Sweet Spot

Here's a post I've had brewing in my head for a while now. I've never stopped trying to reconcile selling more stuff (my work) in a world of finite resources. I believe that even if climate change is not happening because of the way we use carbon fuels and behave like it's a disposable society (ironic that isn't it?) that it's our moral responsibility to take care of this planet in a way which shows future generations that we tried to hand over the best torch possible.

I believe one day in the vast future we will look back at planet Earth, maybe from distant solar systems and see it as the genesis of something beautiful. If it's in good shape it might be reminiscent of a garden of Eden. Of course the religous references will get some people's backs up, but I have my own system of belief that belongs to no one else because it's mine and I'm quite convinced that without some belief there would be an equal amount of problems. This doesn't make me any less of a hypocrite as I'm a human and all too fallible.

I think John Grant went a long way to reconciling the notions of making money (or value) and treating the planet as if it's resources are meagre instead of full. It's not and, our evolutionary (yes I think evolution makes sense) programming doesn't allow us to instinctively take care of relatively slow moving events. We'll only know if we've fucked up when we've fucked and by then it's too late. So change our lives and do one right thing. Be frugal.

I'll share something about John and I. We never really get it on in real life, and because I think he's a genius, a bit of a hero, and also a brilliant communicator when given centre stage, I don't want people to confuse that with kissing ass. John and I had the same girlfriend in the late nineties. Not at the same time. I after him, and truthfully I only realised it when I started reading his blog nearly ten years later. I've never been one to follow industry stars because it's only advertising and not nearly as important as saving someone's life with a defibrillator which is far more useful when push comes to shove - It is however what I love doing. This may or may not be the reason why John and I are not best mates, but I know deep down as do many others that his book The Green Marketing Manifesto is one of the most important books in our business if for instance, working on a tobacco account is something you would find offensive. Aren't rising sea levels and climate change affecting the poorest on this planet much more offensive than auto-exposure to lung cancer?

My hopes for a 'rewiring of our economies' which is something I've been talking about for quite a while was never strong. I know that everything changes and everything stays the same so I couldn't see how we could slow down our economies and population growth to take the time to find solutions for not choking on our own growth. I spent long days talking about it in the US with my political mentor and he finally came round to my way of thinking that we need 'managed population decline' to really find ways of keeping this incredible thing called life continuing for millenia before we jettison ourselves off this planet, find somewhere else and let it grow fallow for a long time while observing it from distant galaxies as the birth of something quite special.

And then along comes something I've felt in my gut for about 5 to 10 years that we are facing a massive financial implosion. Nothing brainy or clever but simply put the idea of making money out of losses (shorting on a stock market) seems to me as stupid as having a bookmakers where betting on losers is the point. It's dumb and we were hoodwinked by the financial markets into believing it was a valid financial mechanism. Unless of course you were the creatives on this remarkable piece of prescience that I loved so much and tried to bring your attention to back in March.

Anyway, we've hit the sweet spot. It looks like we've had a hell of a party, there's cake and booze everywhere but now it's time to clean up and we can build a better world because of it. Yes we can do marketing in new ways while managing decline and add value and creativity to peoples lives with big thoughts such as more ideas less stuff. Isn't that what the internet is? Isn't sharing our lives more important that acquisition of more stuff. Shouldn't we compare ourselves by what we do, how we act and what we believe in rather than the bullshit marketing methodology that has been outed for what it really is so very recently; fear marketing of "if you don't wash your hair with our shampoo, you wont be as pretty as the other succesful girls in the office" or in this case, baby straps? Yes it took mothers to rebel and say fuck you to shitty advertising. I love this business and I am very optimistic about the future. We've hit a remarkable sweet spot. A big problem that needs sorting out with slower economies, enter stage right a mini global depression, the tools to fix it, as social media is nothing short of a revolution, and the kind of leadership that only tips up once every eighty years or so that has the mandate to really change things. Yes we can. Oy!

Now it's over to the economists. Why don't you do something useful for once and rewire our economies based on what we have and not on what we want. Because as we now know, we want it all. Including redemption.