Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

13 December 2012

Love After the World's End

Some incredibly vivid dystopic vision for you. Film director Romain Demongeot and electronic music artists De Andria & Ghisal give us "Love 2062", a picture of what love may look like when civilisation as we know it comes to a shattering end. But it's also a picture of what addiction could become when embedded technology plays a starring role in sparing us from a desolate reality. Even for a few hours. Think heroin, opium, The Matrix and Inception crammed into a neat little shot.

Production work by Heroes.

12 December 2012

bref., the Mobile App.

Darewin, an agency I work with, just released this case study for French short-form series bref. Get this: that's my voice!

The case study (in English) covers how the agency was tasked to maintain the show's cult status after it stopped airing. What'd it do? It created a mobile app that put the hero's phone right in your hands. With it, you could relive bref. through his eyes ... and even call his friends. (Not recordings of his friends. The actual friends.)

More drippy fangirliness: I've discussed bref. before (see all the special effects used in the show), and word's out that they're making an English version called So. Soon, you too will be able to experience its awesomeness. So, consider this a sneak peek.

08 December 2012

Creators: Kill Your Darlings.

I mean, if you really look at it, we have four iPods. We have two main iPhones. We have two iPads, and we have a few Macs. That’s it. And we argue and debate like crazy about what we’re going to do, because we know that we can only do a few things great. That means not doing a bunch of things that would be really good and really fun.

The House Always Wins

Reblogged from kiplinger:
This is solid advice. But one thing I learned in France is that many of the elements that abet or discourage this kind of discipline are cultural. The US is an unapologetic debt-driven society: financial education isn't something we teach youth, solutions to social problems tend to be consumption-driven, and basic things like higher education, renting a car, and achieving crucial societal milestones are nearly impossible to attain without credit.

And let's not forget our revolving credit system, which encourages people to accrue debt that you don't (and eventually can't) pay off right away in order to improve your FICO score -- the number critical to cultivating your financial reputation. A FICO score could stand between you and an apartment, or even a cell phone. Curiously, your FICO isn't improved by demonstrating an ability to manage money well. It only rises if you manage debt well. We have effectively made debt a cultural necessity.

It's important to learn how to spend less money than you make. It is crucial to building wealth. But when a society values accruing debt more than it values spending within your means, the game's rigged.

11 November 2012

Those Super Rich Kids Just Found Themselves Some Not-So-Fake Friends.

While skimming my internetz today I noticed two really cool music promotions. The first was on The Pirate Bay (Yeah, I'm a user. Get over it):

Now that it's easier to torrent 9 things a day than it is to wait for a bloody movie to stream (then again, French telecoms throttle openly and without shame), The Pirate Bay's become my go-to desperation ship for finding entertainment when I don't even really know what I want. I don't know who Mr & Mrs is, but I think this EP-discovery thing they're doing on TPB is way cool: it doesn't just avail them hundreds of thousands of bored-yet-curious free listeners, it's a clear signal to the music-listening community: "We know your attitudes about music consumption have changed. We're with you there." And as concerts are a dime a dozen in Paris and relatively cheap, I can see this easily converting into me seeing them live at the next Rock en Seine or something ... if, in the end, I like their music.

The second piece of rad appeared on The Vulture, where I like reading TV show reviews:

This will hardly look like news for fans of Ryan Murphy, who's done an awesome job promoting music and bands of choice wth Glee. (Remember the all-Britney and all-Madonna episodes?) But hell, I can think of worse things in life than turning a full episode of Gossip Girl into a living, breathing music video for Frank Ocean, whose Super Rich Kids couldn't possibly find a better content marriage.

It's fun times in music and media collaboration. Keep your ears open to what's coming: you may be finding you're discovering artists in unexpected (and awesome!) ways.

26 September 2012

In a move regarded as unusual by the media, the French research group refused to provide copies of the journal paper to reporters in advance of its publication, unless they signed non-disclosure agreements. The NDAs would have prevented the journalists from approaching third-party researchers for comment.
- "Group Promoting Rat Study of Engineered Corn Forced Coverage Rush", The New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin.

I'm not a fan of GMOs, but I don't believe in pursuing lesser evils for a greater good, either. This kind of behaviour harms the credibility of journalists as well as scientists for a public whose interests are already so fractured that they're quick to find reasons to write things off as bullshit.

The Man & the Myth

A century ago, entrepreneurs sought to pass themselves off as parasites: they adopted the style and manner of the titled, rentier class. Today the parasites claim to be entrepreneurs.

- "Mitt Romney and the myth of self-created millionaires", The Guardian, George Monbiot.

I love this article for pointing to the mythologies that flourish in a culture, and how those same mythologies -- however steeped in truth, or not -- are used fervently to defend a society whose values have completely 180'ed.

The stories we tell ourselves don't just help us get through the day; they justify our political positions as well as our worldviews. It's one of the reasons why the latter can be so hard to change.

I also want to clarify by saying I do believe in self-created millionnaires, although I don't think they consider themselves self-creations: for every Mitt, there are too few Warren Buffetts, Bill Gates and Richard Bransons. But these people don't preach the same story Mitt's espoused in his candidacy; we ought to ask ourselves why.

06 September 2012

All those things.

It is late, I just got home and I am tired. But I just went through my agenda, and I am surprised and impressed by how much I have managed to actually do — not in the sense that I’ve surpassed benchmarks, which of course is nice too, but in the sense that all that stuff was in my book and not only is it now in the past, I’ve survived it. Today I can attest that I didn’t drown.

It makes looking at the weeks to come a lot easier.

05 September 2012

On Success

I don't see Estée Lauder quoted very often, but the words resonate deeply with me.

I was raised to pursue what I wanted with conviction and commitment. Dreaming was only meant to be a springboard. But gathering the momentum to push off from it isn't easy.

When I decided to quit a cushy marketing job and become a freelance journalist, a lot of people I trusted critiqued my choice. Near tears, I called my dad. He said, "There will be times when everyone treats you as if you're crazy, and as a reasonable person you'll wonder if they are right. When this happens, look at your results. If you're accomplishing what you intended, you're not the crazy one."

What he meant was, up to this point had I gotten what I expected? Were the right kinds of people paying attention, and gravitating to me? This became a compass.

I haven't stopped following it since. It's grueling work that demands everything from you, but it is also satisfying. Things I've learned along the way:
  • There is never a reason to throw your hands up and say "It's not fair." Life doesn't know our rules; you just get over it and keep getting up. This is character.
  • The right people do notice. They watch you from a distance and lend help if you ask. They don't just become friends; they become useful constellations in the dark.
  • Pursuing your path doesn't have to mean stepping on or demeaning other people. If you enrich and help those you come across, and surround yourself by the competent, the hungry and the loyal, the journey goes from being lonely to being incredibly rich. With few exceptions I've always felt taken care of and listened to in an industry that isn't known for its nurturing qualities.
  • Being honest, with yourself and with others, pays the biggest long-term dividends. It is the hardest thing to do, and you have to decide to be that person every time you come across a point of ambiguity. This never gets easier, but it's also a compass -- one that shouldn't be disregarded.
  • Cover your ass. My boss at Sunglass Hut taught me this and it's another useful thing to remember. Never leave things to chance: save meticulously, be clear in your language, prepare for alternate outcomes.
Success is arduous work. And in order to make it worth it for you, the first thing you have to do is define what success is. We have a lot of social cues but feedback from others -- getting rich, private jets, corporate accounts -- doesn't really help you prepare your own yardstick.

It may take years before you've shaken off what you think you want and discovered what is really worth your trouble. I thought for the longest time that I needed to be a millionnaire by age 25; I know now that what I really need is a good quality of life, to live in a place that makes me feel whole, to do challenging things that force me to renew myself regularly, and to populate my life with people who are good, in all senses of the word.

Then there are the little things: that half-hour in the métro that I can read, time away from the 'net and work, a new pair of beautiful shoes, Cleaning Day, a glass of wine alone in the sunshine, time to write, falling asleep on Romain's shoulder, and that moment when I get home and our moody cat -- who hates being touched -- rolls over in righteous wait for his belly rub. These things mean so much more to me now than "millionnaire at 25," and I would never have found them if I'd stayed where I was supposed to and done what was expected.

The road is harder, but the trade-off has been very good.

04 September 2012

On Meditation

No worries, wee monk, you'll get there.

I have a client who's gone away to meditate for a month in one of those countryside meditation places. To make conversation, I not-jokingly said, "I tried meditating last week, but I'm not sure if I did it right because I think I fell asleep."

He gave me a smile of uncondescending sympathy and said, "The problem is, today, we're just tired all the time. When you go away on a meditation retreat you basically spend the first week falling asleep. Then you get to the point where you're actually rested. And that's when you can really start working on stuff."

I liked this and have been thinking about it ever since. It's silly to say, but it never occurs to me that everyone else is just as tired as I am, that this is an epidemic, and that falling asleep while trying to meditate isn't some expression of your inability to attain inner attunedness, it's an expression of how goddamn dragged-across-the-cobblestones we feel all the livelong day.

Isn't that reassuring? And doesn't that make you want to get to the place where you're rested, if only to see what you're like once you arrive?

27 August 2012

Brands in My Newsfeed

Just a snapshot of the brands that popped up in my newsfeed yesterday afternoon. They practically hit me one after the other. My responses to them:

  • I read the Obama one pretty closely, as I found the photo compelling and relatable -- two things Obama happens to be good at in the social space.
  • I usually peep Good but didn't this time; I'm kinda over the existential humans vs chimpanzees ruminating, and the infographic had that ugly, hard-to-read background colour.
  • Method I read because I'm a hardcore fangirl. Usually the imagery is more interesting but I did go through all the comments out of curiosity. I identified with the people who were like "My Target doesn't carry all that" and noticed Method didn't really reply, which vaguely embarrassed me because HEY, FANGIRL.
  • YSL -- I read the text because the photo was cute and wanted to know the story behind it. And then I got kind of weirded out by this whole "the most Amazonian of Parisians" description. Did I find her Amazonian? Not sure.
  • The champagne ad: I looked at it because the colours were pretty but didn't feel it particularly spoke to me. This guy is maybe two shares away from me de-newsfeeding him, actually.
  • LOVED the Game of Thrones share. Even though this group's English is horrible they often find shareable GoT stuff that I end up sharing with other people. And what girl doesn't love Daenarys? I ask you, what girl? If you find one, I don't want to be friends with her because ew, she probably likes Sansa.

02 August 2012

15 Minutes of Meaning, for Jonah Lehrer and All Our Golden Calves

Like one of Kafka's machines, every time we slice someone, it slices us in the same place but not quite as deep and so quickly you hardly feel it. This may just be the nature of the journalism mechanism, but I worry most of us don't even know when we're bleeding. 

- The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal on Jonah Lehrer's 15 minutes, and what we made them mean.

29 July 2012

Frames from the Edge: Portrait of THE Commercial Photographer

Last week a friend invited me to see the Helmut Newton exposition at the Grand Palais. It was a huge treat. Above you'll find Frames from the Edge, a documentary about Newton's work.

Newton in many ways defines the photography of fashion: he captured its whimsy, semi-debauched fantasy and fairy tale demeanour. He was utterly unafraid of vulnerability, strength, ugliness or beauty, the blatantly commercial or the grittily banal; you have to be courageous to capture these things, to keep watching until you find them instead of blinking and pretending you didn't see. 

His celebrity portraits are also terribly revealing; in one shot he can capture the entire universe of a person, their allure or their insanity or their unexpected forged strength. There is something kind and non judgmental about his camera eye; in front of it, the burlesque becomes a game of dress-up, naked women like little girls in Mummy's enormous fur coat, with shameless parading faces.

Another thing I quite like about Newton is his refusal to buy into this notion of the fashion photograph as art. Bad taste drew him in, and unlike other great photogs, he didn't believe in limiting the number of his prints, in this notion that a picture could lose its soul if it became too present in the world. His imagery is like the fleur de lys: banalised, democratised and ever present, resonating long past the fashions and the times they were meant to represent.

It's a characteristic advertising shares by necessity if not by preference: our work is naturally ephemeral, commercial, the furthest thing from the traditional definition of art. But that doesn't make what we do, what can be done, any less important or beautiful. If we could embrace what he did, maybe we'd find our immortality. Or perhaps the problem of immortality lies in accepting that it doesn't really mean anything, and we have to let that idea go.

A handful of photos I snapped at the exhibition:

The top photo is of his wife June. I love the intimacy of it, the crass casualness. It's like spying on a naked cowboy. The middle shot is a classic YSL the way I still think of YSL: that woman, untouchable and so pristine that the fact of her existence, the very angles of her body seem to cut through space/time. And that last commercial photograph, with the man who reaches from outside of the screen to light a TV model's cigarette! I love that kind of play, its implications about our ongoing conversation, our own intimacy with media (and its stubborn insistence on protecting its space).

21 July 2012

My Fictional Calling

I've decided that of all the fictional callings I would like to pursue, perhaps the one with the strongest and most persistent pull is the desire to become a Pokemon trainer. And I feel this gopher, with his apathy toward rockets, investigative skills, talents for camouflage and capacity to entertain me for hours on end, would be the perfect starter Pokemon. We'd be fast friends and of course I'd go on traveling the world catchin' them all, but none would match Gophery, who'd have filled a deep void in my heart.

19 July 2012

How I'd Improve Kindle

I love Kindle. I fell in love with it from the moment a Kindle slipped into my hands three years ago. And since the Kindle app appeared, I can read from any device I want: on my desktop, on iPhone, anywhere, really, which cuts out the need to cart more hardware around than I need to.

But there remain a few things I'd improve about the Kindle service in general. They'd make me a less reluctant user (because yes, sometimes my frustrations overcome my desire to go on investing time into it -- it's an ongoing balancing act between impulse buys and UI chagrin).

Here are ways I'd improve Kindle so that it becomes an indispensable item for any reader:

  1. Shelfari integration. It's the perfect way to bring archives to life: literally instilling pride in the act of archiving them in the first place. Also, it'd be great if I could rate my book right there on Kindle instead of having to open Shelfari later on and do it! Speaking of...
  2. A button to indicate I've finished the book.
  3. A way to pass Kindle books to others. I'm not saying I want a way to digitally copy the book and send it all over the place; I'm saying I want to be able to take something I paid for and transfer it to another person to read. It wouldn't live on my account anymore, it'd move to theirs, and the natural act of sharing books we've cherished would go on as it does in the real world.
  4. A clear and easy way to include non-Amazon ebooks into Kindle. One time I found a really confusing way to send a PDF to my Kindle: I sent it to my Amazon account, then found it on my Kindle, but the file was completely corrupted. Now I have to stare at it every goddamn day. It's like a hex on my life. Also, there are some authors that sell ebooks but won't put them on Amazon out of principle. I want to read these guys, but if I'm not using my actual Kindle device, how do I upload them to my app? The answer may be out there, but I've looked long and hard for it and frankly this is more work than it needs to be.
  5. A way to file and organise books. On my desktop Kindle app, I have options to sort by Recent, Author and Title. But the truth is I don't want my advertising books touching my science books touching my literature books touching my books in French versus in English. I know this is just me, but that shit drives me mad. Amazon, these are data files. Let us bloody play with them.
  6. A way to cancel purchases made by mistake. Amazon One-Click is super convenient, but I've had impulse binges where I've accidentally purchased a book title written by the wrong author. And now that book, like my corrupted PDF, is just chillin' there, mocking me. If I haven't opened the book or broached the 1% mark, I should be able to return it within a period of time (say, same-day).
  7. Impulse buy integration. I'm serious. If I finished a book that has sequels, and I loved the living crap out of it and am totally in "I'm still in this author's universe" mode, I'd love to be able to see the sequel right there, then push the One Click button right in my app to start reading right away. Same for books by the same author, or the latest book the author's just written. Right after I read a book by an author I don't know, and now love, is really the prime moment to sell me everything they ever did.
  8. Coherence between the apps and the Kindle device. Some things I can do directly with the Kindle device and not on the apps, like add and remove books, incorporate eBooks, etc. This is all really great, but to be honest my device is so old that it's not really practical for me to whip out  and plug into my computer for demands that small. Also, it isn't like doing things on the Kindle device is a piece of cake either: their interface design teaches you nothing, and you have to follow instructions pretty closely to do the things you want. Also, my WhisperNet doesn't work, which is an additional pain in the ass.
I think that covers it for now. I may add to this as frustrations arise, because I just downloaded Proust's entire body of work and now I'll obviously have to read it. 

But yeah. I don't think these are enormous demands (okay, the Shelfari integration thing is kind of a bitch); they are demands from a reader who's also an avid tech user, and who sees a divide between those two worlds on Kindle that doesn't need to exist. Please, Amazon, hear my plea.

03 July 2012

If you ever wondered why dashing older men keep challenging you to games of Gin Rummy.

- "The Language of Legs", Playboy, 1969.

18 June 2012

Suckling from the Milk of the Lion

I'm back at Cannes for the Lions and have posted my first piece on AdVerve, basically a few moody jokes and a quick survey of what came in the goodie bag. (The title of this post is a play on the bottle of anise that came in a box labeled "Lion's Milk." The tambourine was also inside. I do not know why.)

Follow along on Twitter or AdVerveBlog for updates.

I'll also be conducting interviews in tandem with AdForum for its Red Carpet series. My first interview took place this morning with Paul Price of Creative Realities (follow AdForum's coverage for that, or I'll update you later). Off-camera, Paul told me about 3D technology that will manipulate the moisture in the air to produce tactile holograms -- so maybe next year at SXSW, Tupac won't just be in concert, he'll be sweating all over the front row.

What an exciting world we live in.

Also, forgive the long delay between posts. I've been on vacation! I saw my family! It made me feel like Fievel.

29 May 2012

To celebrate reaching 2 million fans on Facebook (who'd've guessed?), AT&T wrote love songs to a handful of them over the course of two days. 

Over on, you could put in your name, location the reason why you're awesome and what kind of song you wanted. Then the folks at Creative CDZA got together to jam for you. Here's mine, above, with special thanks to Joe Sabia and to Mark Fiddes, the guy who came up with "the Dorothy Parker of Twitter". (*faceglow*)

22 May 2012

Social Strategy. It's Complicated.

This Buddy Media/Luma Partners illustration of the complex social media marketing mix is about as hairy as you want to make it; all the brands featured here aren't necessarily going to play a role in your marketing campaign. But it does show to what degree social media marketing's become -- what's the word they used? -- right, complicated.

Let's talk about pitching social strategy from the outside. This is a scenario that happens more and more often. 

When I go into a pitch there are so many things to teach, so many routes that lead into others, so many platforms to walk the client through, and worse still, half of them still can't see past Facebook. Let me clarify: they don't know what any of this other stuff is, but they somehow always "know" that they "need" Facebook. (Indeed, many will admit that their less sophisticated markets haven't got a website up, but nonetheless found the time to produce an empty Facebook page generating handfuls upon handfuls of gratuitous Likes.)

You've prepared your presentation. It is neat, logical and has a clear chronology. It is loaded with helpful charts. You get into the work of rehashing the pitch, elaborating your spin on the pitch, identifying certain existing challenges between Consumer and Corporate. Then you begin selling Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter for CRM and whatever-else-have-you. You show how each contributes to the consumer journey and leads to certain calls to action, certain touch points. They will be trackable in real-time, with KPIs that, over the long-term, carry the brief to its solution. They will be unified in design and in message. They will be manned by a dedicated person(s) trained in crisis management, who knows the company well and ideally comes from inside it.

Blank looks. "Where's Facebook?" somebody says. "What is all this other stuff?"

You put Facebook in its proper context. Slowly. Then you leap to the addendum slides explaining what those other things are, their figures, their respective growth trajectories, and why they're relevant to the market in question, but already that's another conversation so loaded with information that you know -- while talking -- that none of this will be retained. Then some smartaleck in the back of the room opens his laptop, checks out Pinterest, runs a search for his brand and -- hey presto! -- finds some crazy naked lady who's used a Sharpie to draw "makeup" on her face. He snickers and shows it to his seatmate. She has a freakout and turns to you and says, "This is not for us, we can't be associated with it, and by the way, what's the ROI of social media?"

The ROI of social media. 

What the hell did you guys bring me in for if you're still debating that question?

So suddenly it becomes your role to sell social media as a whole, which you thought they had already come to terms with because they brought you here to pitch a strategy to them. (Whose idea was it to organize that before the leaders weren't ready?)

You give the earned media spiel, run quickly through some case studies that you kept in your pocket just in case to demonstrate how social media better engages customers, rallies customers, improves employee productivity and brand perception, lowers R&D spend, lowers marketing budgets, lowers product development costs, lowers PR rates. Among other things. You show how it can be transformative. You pass around a David Armano illustration of how a company can move slowly in the direction of transcendence.

"We don't care about any of those things, we have sales people," somebody says, pointlessly. "We've never really needed to talk to the consumer. This is not that kind of company."

You circle back to THE BRIEF! and your step-by-step path to the aforementioned transcendence, which you hope will bring everyone back to the matter at hand. They keep staring at you, less blankly now and more with smirks. They are still asking about Facebook and ROI. At this point you're not sure what kind of answer they're looking for because you're pretty sure you covered everything in the whole universe excepting particle physics, was anybody taking notes? Is this game rigged? You're starting to talk in circles, little clichés, and the heads of marketing are giving each other knowing looks.

You go home, defeated and spent after having stolen a donut in the lobby. You get feedback a week later. Social strategy's been pushed back for now, you're told. The company's decided it's not a priority, and your presentation was not at all what they expected. 

"Why?" you ask.

"There was no clear recommendation," they say. Oh, and by the way? "There are currently also no plans to engage in e-commerce of any kind, at least not directly to customers, so the work was irrelevant. There are sales people for that."

And then you just die.

18 May 2012

Creative Panels: Masturbation Disguised as Discussion

Colleen the Socialist, ironically, is not a fan of social media, because she thinks it's still "nascent" and doesn't really have its shit together yet.
"I'm sure the first thing that came out of the Gutenberg press wasn't that great," she said.
"The Bible?" asked the startled moderator.
"No, I'm sure there was a lot of crap before then..."
"No, I think the Bible was the first thing."

I love this article. It draws blood, but kind of gently, like a blood drive nurse who's bored with your come-ons and takes a little too much a little too fast.

The ending's great too. Grilled cheese sandwiches aren't the only great sustained legacy of market creativity; it also bequeathed us tacos as we know them, White Strips, and the teenager -- whose merits we can all argue to our sulky inevitable deaths.


14 May 2012

Ad People: Just Funner at Parties.

This weird infographic by Heat and iThink has been circulating.* It pits the social media use and sentiment of ad and marketing people against those of "normal" people, but curiously also tosses in sections on who's more likely to:

  • Use illicit drugs (us by 26%, versus 3% of the general populace)
  • Throw up from drinking (us, 37% versus 9% of Norms)
  • Hook up with a coworker (us, 26% versus 8% Norms)

I'm not sure to what degree any of that contributes to us being disproportionately bigger fanboys (and girls!) of social media's merits, but perhaps it reassuringly suggests we're both more social online and offline. (Because if you're drugging up and alkie-vomiting by yourself in front of Twitter, then ... wow. Just wow.)


*By "circulating" I basically mean here and thusly in my AdVerveBlog Twitter feed. I know. I live inside an echo chamber.

04 May 2012

A Roundabout Explanation of Our Addiction to Photo Shop

From maureenjohnsonbooks:
1. Most fashion/lifestyle magazines make A LOT of their money from ads.
Ever notice how those glossy mags are made up of lots of ads? (Ever notice how a bridal magazine is pretty much ALL ADS? There’s a story in itself.) There’s not really a lot of actual magazine content in there. Because the ads are of primary importance, the content must not be offensive to/wildly contradict the aims of the advertisers.
This, in and of itself, is not an evil thing. It’s just the simple fact of the matter. Glossy mags are often advertisement collections with thin wafers of story nestled between them.
2. The point of advertising is to make you buy something. Which means you must create a perceived need 
Hey, did you know how you HAVE to buy an engagement diamond? How that has always been the thing, since all of time? Oh, except, no it hasn’t. The whole “diamond engagement ring” thing was made up by DeBeers with the help of an advertising firm in the 1930s. They made up the phrase “A diamond is forever” in 1947. They wanted to sell diamonds, so they made up a need. You HAVE to have a diamond for your engagement! It’s the DONE THING!  
Advertisers make up all kinds of needs! You need a bigger/smaller television/computer/phone/car. You need this diet to be thinner. You need this pizza with actual cheeze deposits in the sides. YOU NEED IT. LACK OF IT MEANS FAILURE.
3. Ads create an (often/usually) fictitious worldspace in which whatever product being advertised is the answer to a problem or a deficit. Sometimes, a deficit you had NO IDEA YOU HAD. 
You’re just wrong! Didn’t you know your hair is wrong? You eyelashes are too short! Your white, glinting teeth cannot be seen from the moon. Your phone is a source of shame and embarrassment to your family. Frankly, everyone hates you and your sandwich. Loser.

This doesn't make me proud, but it was so much fun to read. I recommend sitting for the whole damn thing. And maybe take your engagement ring off so you don't have to look at it.

Another fun fact regarding diamonds and De Beers: diamonds are actually not worth that much; in terms of objective value they are roughly in the same neighbourhood as rhinestones. This is also De Beers magic: every time somebody finds a diamond mine someplace they set up a shop nearby, announce that the diamonds aren't up to snuff, and wait for the harmed would-be competitor to crawl to the doorstep on its knees, sniveling and begging for buyout.

This is probably the only thing I remember from college physics. That, and my teacher's theory about why time travel is impossible.

03 May 2012

How and Why You Should Write a Social Media Will

From usagov:
Social media is a part of daily life, but what happens to the online content that you created once you die? 
If you have social media profiles set up online, you should create a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled. Just like a traditional will helps your survivors handle your physical belongings, a social media will spells out how you want your online identity to be handled. 
Like with a traditional will, you’ll need to appoint someone you trust as an online executor.
I know we totally need this and it's very important, but it's such a surreal thing to see on

Yes, more surreal than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Safety Guide for a Zombie Apocalypse. But it is possible my judgment on this point is skewed.

02 May 2012

Connecting Things and Copycats

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
- Steve Jobs, 1996 Wired Interview (via MyEDOL)

"Connecting things" -- behind that is the premise that the full picture was already there; it just needed the lines that connect the dots.

I'm currently reading The Case for Creativity and there's a full chapter about originality and our industry's obsession with it. Being accused of copycatting is often just as condemning as being outright guilty of the act. But it's a lot easier than we think to have the same idea at the same time as another person; examples proliferate in science, technology, art and -- obviously -- in advertising.

Many thinkers have surmised that when it's "time" for something, that idea just appears in the ether, ready and waiting to be claimed by unconnected minds who start thinking in its direction. (Maybe that's why execution is considered a lot more valuable than ideas. On the other hand, artists work fiercely to protect their ideas; in a way, they're the only babies we get to have. But that's another discussion entirely.)

This notion of ideas hanging in the air like ripe fruit resembles a theory biologist Rupert Sheldrake has called "morphic resonance": the notion that once you have an idea, it is that much easier for another human to conceive it -- in the same way that once a rat gets through a maze, the exit is instantly that much easier to find for all other rats in the universe.

We're somehow all psychically connected to a fast-moving energy hive that doesn't care who thought what first; once a thought or a sentiment's there, it's there for the taking. I know this all sounds mystic as hell, but in any case it's interesting to think about.

And if morphic resonance just rubs you wrong, that's okay, too; environment, our shared news streams, technology's "logical next step", the circles we run in and conversations we have all make it more likely two unrelated people will conceive similar ideas at the same time.

Or maybe they really are copying. *Shrugs*

26 Songs, 98 Years: A History of Whistling.

You may remember Joe Sabia (@JoeSabia), who teased us last year with "A History of Lyrics that Aren't Lyrics." He's built on that since, and with the launch of this latest video, he's debuting Collective Cadenza, entirely dedicated to creative musical video experiments.

That kicks all the ass! We've already seen some of the other stuff they've got on the pipeline and readily assure you of how awesome this is going to be. You might even get into chamber music, who knows?

Follow his ear candy adventures alongside us, and if you liked "A History of Whistling", download the MP3.

The Toxic Cesspool of Cluelessness

I like the show precisely because it succeeds in shining a bright light down into this dark abyss that is Adlandia's massive ego problem. If you go back and look at the staffers' faces at SK+G, you can see how unhappy they are, and while it's hard to watch, it's also great footage. When you work in a toxic cesspool of cluelessness, you have to recognize it, and choose to save yourself.

A colleague told me last week that the necessities of working in advertising have been reduced to a hasty copy-pasting of other work people have done -- often straight out of presentations from other agencies, procured via backchannels of disgruntled agency folk or elbow-rubbers with slippery typing fingers.

I said this was sad, that all agencies don't work like this. "AKQA doesn't," I added with maybe too-obvious naïveté.

He gave me a thoughtful smile, one of those "oh-you'll-learn" expressions where the sides of the mouth tip upward just enough to appear well-meaning. "Of course there are exceptions," he said, "but they are exceptions."

We've chosen a thankless industry that takes everything from us and grinds personal ethics, often your entire personal life, to fine dust. One of the icons I respect and trust the most said the biggest mistake I make is that I'm too holistic about work and play; what the industry needs from me is to be schizophrenic. "Unless you're being asked to do something truly compromising, you are not being paid for your values," he emphasised, gently but firmly, over the dinner table. His eyes bore into mine. It wasn't a condescending look, an I-mean-well look. It was a this-is-life-here's-the-facts look. It is the look my dad gives me when he's tossing me a life jacket.

David Burn's words are particularly resonant tonight because fuck, I am tired. Eight years into the thick of advertising and marketing, I maintained the conviction that you have to fight to produce good work, fight to listen to people -- despite the clients, despite your boss -- and painstakingly construct that silken thread that will ultimately connect a brand to those it serves. Over time, I thought, that thread will harden. Everyone will get it. You just have to keep at it.

Someone, I thought, needs to do this for advertising: remind it of its importance in the lives of people, and what responsibility accompanies that importance.

It wasn't until I stopped blogging for bread and started actually working at agencies that I understood why creatives got so angry with me for being hard on their work. In the end, it is easier to do bad work than it is to do good. You don't want the battle for quality to be your baby, not when it's so obviously not what the client wants or what your team is equipped to produce. You can't do this alone; you just want to go home after 8, and hopefully not take your work with you (it so often sneaks into your handbag anyway, ready and waiting for the moment you try going to bed).

Little by little you start to crumble. Things matter less; you're just trying to get through the goddamn day. Your life becomes a question of constant comparison. Who's making more? What the fuck, why?! The answer is usually not merit. It eats at you; you chew on your pencil, at your nails, on your soul. You look at the guys giving presentations from Ogilvy: their slick hair, their piles of bullshit wrapped in lip service about storytelling and "logic": just more words, really, vainglorious and ultimately unactionable if you're not Ogilvy, talking to a client who is not LVMH. Your limbs grow cold.

So what is supposed to happen to you?

01 May 2012

Disrupting Spaces: A Robotic Homebuilding Spider.

MIT's developed CNSILK, a robot-slash-silkworm that, in the near future, will be able to sense its structural environment and build around it. Here is that same spiderbot constructing a living space out of thread (which will eventually be replaced by a nylon that's flexy when wet, then hardens once dry).

Earlier today I also read about Narrative Science, a company that uses algos to take raw data and spin stories out of it. Some people are optimistic about this tech's capacity to replace journalism.

When increasingly complex systems are being developed to replace complex human work that traditionally required sharp eyes, a sense of intuition and constructive creativity on-the-fly, I wonder two things:
  • How do the people who once did these jobs naturally evolve into a more useful position?
  • What kind of advertising, what kind of media, could be produced as a result?
Constructing a living space around an existing environment isn't that different from building a social network. (That's why books like this are so popular with software architects.) Would robots do this better than we have?

Posted on AdVerveBlog and Disruptomatic.

30 April 2012

Obama the Jokestah at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

I'm usually the first to jump on a "look how cute and human Obama is!!!!!!" moment, but watching this left me with the nagging feeling that we've turned our President into a reality TV character.

Worse, it's almost as if he feels pressure to maintain it (like a still-jovial Jon Stewart) to hold our fickle affections, which clearly can't be won by simply being the rare President who reflects before acting, builds for the long term, maintains dignity amidst so much baiting, and repeatedly opens negotiations with a party that'll do anything to unseat him, even believe that ideas once adopted half in jest are now real causes.

29 April 2012

Facing facts about Nutella.

Yes, it’s delicious, but some folks need to stop dancing around the fact that we’re eating chocolate sandwiches. I’m a grown woman, I know when I’m eating a chocolate sandwich. I accepted that as soon as I licked my finger and went “goddamn that’s delicious, find me something edible I can spoon this shit onto before I just start scooping it out with my hands!” I’m good with it. 
What I’m not good with are these yuppies who are trying to pretend that that’s not what’s going on. What happened is, they got a spoonful of it in their mouth for the first time and all of a sudden shit was way too real. They lost their goddamn minds and couldn’t come to terms with their circumstances. 
“You dunno what you’re talking about! Its hazelnut spread- with cocoa! It’s got a subtle chocolate flavor, that’s why I like it!”
Okay, motherfucker, really…that’s what you’re bringing to my doorstep? Whatever you have to tell yourself. I know and YOU know that you’re spreading icing on a biscuit. Let’s stop bullshittin like we’re not buying a jar of chocolate and get serious.
I thought this was awesome in light of recent news that Ferrero USA plans to reimburse any Californian who bought a jar of Nutella between August 2009 and January 2012, up to roughly $4 per person and $3.05 million in total. (Get your bids in quick, wounded yuppies!)

This is to quell outrage that Nutella is, in fact, pretty fucking fattening, which was discovered by a mother, hoodwinked by Nutella's positioning as part of a healthy breakfast. The discovery of that traumatised genius -- namely, that Nutella is fattening -- led to a class action lawsuit.

Progrès à l'américain. If you can't be held responsible for what you push down your digestive tract (or those of your spawn), put heat on the company. That way, you can eat banana chocolate sandwiches and be reimbursed. Beats reading the label!

28 April 2012

I Guess That's About Right.

@PatStansik's produced this video about being in your early 20s, which @CandaceHetchler showed me as part of an ongoing discussion we're having about whether or not Girls is a depiction of reality.

I tried to dislike this video but it was hard to, because this is what my early 20s were like: my parents paid for the gas, I paid for everything else; Trader Joe's was the organic supermarket of choice because Whole Foods is wallet rape; and coming in early to work was a way to show enthusiasm as well as a symptom of the ever-present paranoia that you could get canned for sucking at any given moment.

This isn't my time anymore, but I remember it because that's what it was like. I still can't find anything remotely relatable about Girls, though, and at the very least now I know that it's not just because I'm too old. If Judd Apatow's big "joke" is that he's put some smart privileged girls on the screen to prance around ruining their lives and being abjectly unfunny and mediocre, that's cool ... but the schadenfreude needed to make that consistently funny is separated from me by too many degrees.

27 April 2012

Just Wait for the Tape Measure Part.

When you think about it, all Mary Poppins did was bust those kids’ balls while demonstrating how amazing she was in her own universe hidden from the rest of the world. I suspect it is the only reason why she was in childcare: among adults (barring our chimney-sweep homie whom she mildly resents and who is obviously in love with her), she would just never get away with it.

This is a moment of clarity.*


*Nighttime is a fertile time to reexamine childhood movies because that's what French TV likes to play. The night before last, I rewatched Jumanji and felt soothed by the idea that every family-oriented '90s movie in all of life seems to end with a Christmas scene. I still thought the game was beautifully styled, and it still made me tense to watch Alan and Sarah throw it into the river. What made them think that was going to last? Many recurring evils recur because their accidental vainqueurs seem to think death by drowning is the answer. Consider the One Ring.

25 April 2012

...and Down He Went.

This is Agent Provocateur's latest for the classic Margot line. Generally I love AP ads but this one is almost willfully sloppy. We'll ignore the fact that there's no HD; why is a girl with underwear that sexy and expensive otherwise so poorly dressed? Was it all to match her hopeless shoes, lovingly chosen for spontaneous moments of heroism?

By Pencil Agency, which also appears to need website ideas.

24 April 2012

Unthinking the American Dream

A place that used to be home.

This week I contributed an article to, which asked me to recount the torrid* tale of my financial life before and after France, a task that proved surprisingly very hard and felt almost embarrassingly personal. (Then again, until recently I was one of those people who felt that your character could be judged by your FICO score.)

The article was published this morning and is called "Unthinking the American Dream." Here's an excerpt.
Over the course of my short working life, a lot of money has come and gone. Most of it came and went in the U.S. I spent much of that time believing my value as a human was tied to my ability to consistently turn some money into more. I concede that this was largely driven by my own obsession for untold riches, but that’s also the dream we’re sold. Under the shadow of Silicon Valley, where I grew up, it’s a noble enough reason to neglect your family and friends: people who don’t support you aren’t really constructive elements, are they? And if you do it right, you’re putting in three years of endless work in exchange for 60+ years of leisure, aren’t you? 
In another country you don’t just learn a new value system, you learn new dreams: live within your means, do work you care about and still make time for the people that matter. To be able to find balance in work and life ought to be a definition of success, because it’s surprisingly difficult. Things come and go, ambitions change: I realized I wanted a life that resembled a rich, carefully-constructed tapestry, not a bar graph.

*Okay, it's not like I was a pirate on the high seas or anything.

23 April 2012

The BeanCast 198: Specifically Targeted

Listen to the show.

Yesterday I joined The BeanCast for its 198th episode alongside some illustrious and fun folks: social media/digital director Chris Baccus of AT&T, vp marketing/social Jeremy Epstein of Sprinklr, and founder Joe Jaffe of Evol8tion. We covered a lot of ground, including:

  • The value of earned media (versus paid)
  • Advertising on The Olympics
  • Mid-roll advertising's video virtues
  • Geofencing: is this THE YEAR?
  • Crowdsourcing with Starbucks
If you're familiar with the show, you'll know that at the end we also share the topics we'll be watching this week. I'm watching the technology coming out of AT&T's research department, which could make a lot of people happy but also pose a lot of problems for privacy to those being watched at a given point in time.

A prime example of this is the The Drive Safely iPad app, developed in tandem with AT&T and some Israeli developers (a lot of incredible tracking and identification tech is coming out of Israel right now). This pretty little beast enables parents to track their teens' driving in real-time -- great for parents, not so good for teens (although what do they know, their frontal lobes aren't even fully formed yet).

Take a listen! You'll dig it, I promise.

20 April 2012

Meet Disruptomatic.

One of my favourite things to do in the year is attend MIPTV and MIPCOM as an official liveblogger. Both conferences serve as real-time deal-making spaces for TV networks and production firms, and the biggest thing this industry's been wrestling with is how their business models are changing as a response to online services and shifting user behaviours. The heads of networks fall at different extremes: open and experimental, or shut-off and defensive.

With that said, it's with happy surprise that I found Reed MIDEM (which runs MIPTV and MIPCOM) has been open to our experiments and discoveries in making the conferences themselves more social. In addition to liveblogging, we tweet, track progress and play around with new tech, like Soundcloud bytes and video posts. It hasn't just helped to make the conference seem more relevant to young producers and developers; it's also warmed me to an industry facing torrents of scary change.

On the train ride home this year, my fellow liveblogger Stuart Dredge and I were texting gossip and jokes back and forth. Between laughs about how often we heard the word "disruption" that week, Stuart -- half in jest -- suggested we start a disruption blog. I made up the name, he bought the URL and we quickly told MIPBlog community manager James Martin, who immediately joined us.

That's how Disruptomatic was born. It's the fruit of our tongue-in-cheek (but generally optimistic) wombs -- mine, James' and Stuart's. Our axe is "technology disrupting media" -- it covers significant changes in TV, gaming, publishing and mobile. (Probably more, once we think of them.)

It sounds general but I do think this picks at a scab nobody's fully ripped off: real lay coverage of how seemingly fixed industries are mutating, forging digital roots and mutating again. And most of these industries were lucky: they had years to cash in on a business model that hasn't changed much in over two generations.

As technology advances with increasing speed, so does disruption: some people are already demanding disruption in SoLoMo, which hasn't had time to sort out business models that are nearly as fixed.

I also think we are well-positioned to give these topics the balance and multiple perspectives they deserve: Stuart regularly writes about music and apps, James is deep in the trenches of music and TV, and I regularly cover ads, technology and user behaviour.

Note that this version of the site is basically our "beta". We'll be launching a new design in the month to come, as well as an official logo.

For now, read along for the fun of it and follow us on Twitter: @Disruptomatic.

17 April 2012

David the Robot, Whose Fingerprint Betrays His Origins.

Meet David, the robot you want so desperately to have for a friend (if only because he's such an upgrade! from Data).

This jarringly real-ish promotion for "Weyland Corporation's" David is actually a promotion for Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof's upcoming film Prometheus, which follows the crew of spaceship Prometheus as it explores an advanced alien civilisation, part of a quest for the origins of humanity.

What is interesting about this campaign is how hard Fox has worked to make the film's promotion as standalone-consumable as possible over the 'net and at events. This video, separated from its ties to a movie, could easily hold its own as a provocative and even bittersweet expression of the future we seem so eager to hurtle toward.

Prior to this, Fox treated February TED attendees to a TED Talk from 2023 by Weyland Corporation's own CEO (played by Guy Pierce). The promotion remained loyal to the spirit of TED, giving us plenty to think about while priming palates for the movie to come.

I am so walking all the way into the theatres and sitting down to see it. There may or may not be popcorn.

Originally posted here (new project! More on that later).

04 April 2012

The Boat Hack That May Change TV, and How Corporate Culture Affects Design

I just finished MIPTV, where I was liveblogging like crazy with fellow journo/blogger Stuart Dredge. This year MIPTV held an event called MIPCube, which focuses on better acquainting TV producers and network execs with the digital folks of whom they're so wary.

Over the weekend MIPCube hosted a Hack Day event in partnership with Rewired State. In short, a passel of hackers were put on a yacht and given less than 48 hours to hack something that would improve our TV experience. On Saturday night they presented all their projects, a whopping 12 of which 10 properly work and are now online.

But only one could win judges' hearts, and that was GrabMagic!, featured above. It was developed by Aral Balkan.

What I love about this Kinect hack is that it really does feel magical. It doesn't just produce a fluent connection between your TV and phone; it creates one between you and those devices as well. You behave like a connected organism, moving muscles without thinking, and that's beautiful.

During the Hack Day presentations I asked Aral how he avoids feature creep in his design. This was his response.
 As a designer, your greatest asset is the ability to say no. But that's simplistic - sometimes it's not your inability to say no, it's the structure of the organisation itself that doesn't allow you. If the organisation is design-led, it's easy; but otherwise designers may not have the authority.

A lot of organisations, because of their corporate cultures, because of their corporate structures, make simple design impossible. It isn't because of a team. That's very low level.
User experience begins at the top and trickles down.

See the other projects from the boat hack at MIPCube.

30 March 2012

Catch Us at MIPTV.

I'm at MIPTV to liveblog the sessions alongside The Guardian's Stuart Dredge and Fearless Leader James Martin. Here is our first-ever videoblog. More to come, and I'll be doing them, so huzzah for experiments!

This afternoon we'll be meeting a bunch of hackers on a yacht called the Mojito. Their challenge: to hack up some game-changing TV-mutating magic in the next 48 hours. Can't wait to see what they've got on the plate, but more crucially: will there be hot tub hacking?

28 March 2012

New Logo.

Instead of embarrassingly self-important potential trainwrecks like The Pitch,* advertising could use a mockumentary-style series on what it is actually like to hear things like this all day. It can be a nice postmodern response to Mad Men that brings to light how many wrong turns you can take on your merry route to finding a brand's soul, not to mention the ongoing battles between clients and agencies on how that soul should manifest.

We'll just use satire to protect the innocent, and maybe along the way there will be those rare moments of gold and of conviction. But most of our players aren't Don Draper, though they all bloody well believe they are, and that can be part of the fun.

And the conferences! God, you could devote a whole thread to the conferences alone. Most industries use them to get trashed and forget work for a week; only in advertising do you find that people are getting trashed because they think it's making their ideas richer, fuller, more palatable. But after 4 days of sleeplessness and your eighth drink of the night, all that's really happening is that you've lost all capacity to catch subtle (and ever-increasing) human cues of disinterest and derision.


*It's possible that I'm being too hard on The Pitch. In a way it could be exactly the mockumentary I imagine, except not on purpose, and that will be just as good.

The Morning After the Night Before.

What work! Elegant, seductive and curiously timely given Mad Men’s return. After a day when most of the stuff you see and hear sounds verifiably insane and dangerously front-loaded, it feels almost like a wash to see an ad like this.

Not that today was like that. Today I had one of those meetings that actually yields something, with people who are smart and dry witted like vermouth, then got to travel home on a train, which is one of my most favourite things in the world to do. (They remind me of Amtrak trips down the coast with grandma.) So the last 24 hours were doubly awesome because I did those things and got to revisit this.

21 March 2012

It's not just a design identity; it's a manifesto.

Designer Silvio Teixeira developed a poster that can be cut into 100 business cards which can also be brought together as a flip book. That sounds reasonably cool already, but the video makes it about a thousand times cooler. From Teixeira:
100 Ids is a project that defines my identity as a designer and it is also a self promotion campaign. The poster (50×70 cm) is cut to become 100 business cards and 1 video. The logo is a pseudo coat of arms that is reinvented in many ways to present my individuality.

19 March 2012

Awkward Smoking Co-Worker Talk.

Him: Salut. Have a good weekend?

Me: Yeah. You? Do anything special?

Him: Not really, I just relaxed.

Me: Yeah, me too.


Him: If you really want to know, I planted tulips.

Me: Ooh. Yeah, I guess the weather was good for gardening.

Him: Not really, the weather was horrible. We just brought some bulbs back from a trip and I planted them.

Me: Oh.


Me: So, plans to start the next Tulipomania?

Him: What?

Me: Never mind.

Stay the night, steal a Banksy.

In keeping with AdVerveBlog reader Zed's incendiary appropriation of Banksy's anti-advertising manifesto, Melbourne's Art Series Hotels attracted guests and plenty of earned media by inviting them to stay the night and try to steal Banksy art hanging on the wall. If you could get it out of the hotel without getting caught, it was yours.

The hotel tracked the thieves via GPS so it could contact them afterward to send authentication documents and campaign follow-up. This looks like it was lots of fun and the hotel's stories about the burglary attempts are great. Even celebrities got in on the theftery. More importantly, it apparently also resulted in a 300% ROI and nearly 7 million impressions on Twitter alone.

So what are you guys waiting for? Go disrupt, go make culture. In the world of subversive anti-art, all's fair.

Spring Self-Improvement.

This is not me, but I would like to hoist rope while flying.

You can’t change your life all at once, but you can improve some things, and I suppose spring is as good a time as any because you’re in dust bunny-slaying mode anyway.

So here are a few nice changes I have made and quite like:

  1. Regular cooking. It helps to have a partner in this programme, which I’m lucky enough to have. With time my eating experiments have become less hazardous, and hey, who would have guessed that zucchini had so many facets? A few months ago, who would have cared? (Short answer: not me.)
  2. More physical activity. One thing I discovered about myself is that I get bored with over obvious rituals, so I’ve managed to keep this up by registering for a variety of things: the tango, swimming, yoga. It is okay if I only do one of these things a week, but on a great week I do all three. And sometimes I reward myself with hammam, which in my mind also counts as physical activity because wow, sweating is tiring.
  3. Taking an online class on model thinking. This is actually pretty rigorous, but now I know how to calculate standard deviation and build decision trees. Think of all the applications!
  4. Joining a writing workshop. It happens in April but the teacher has already given me homework: five minutes of daily freewriting on a random theme, which will apparently teach me how to divide my writing capabilities between the daily-grind mercenary stuff and creative pursuits. Today I wrote about mice, and curiously, five minutes is not nearly enough time to say everything I want to say about them.

Maybe in a year I will be significantly different as the direct result of one or all of these changes. But even if not, hopefully I’ll still know how to calculate standard deviation.

08 March 2012

Razors on the Doorstep.

Here's a video* for Dollar Shave Club, which takes the hassle of dealing with newfangled razor styles at the supermarket by delivering perfectly good fucking great razors to your doorstep for $1 a pop. In the future, they'll even let you crowdsource your shaving cream!

Quotable: "Your handsome-ass grandfather had one blade. And polio."

It merits noting, for noting's sake, that a European startup called Raz*War does the same thing, with the same DISRUPTIVE! convictions, and has been in business for the last several years. Minus the charismatic video and crowdsourced shaving cream fomula -- although they do punt pretty balms and oils with clean apothecary-style labels. (Just sayin'.)



*Is anyone else getting tired of this irreverent style?

On Kony 2012

Most of you have probably already seen this video by Invisible Children. It managed to rack up over 15 million views in 72 hours and, impressively, presumably got as many people to actually watch something made for the web that is a half-hour long.

Let yourself react, then take the time to read a couple of articles by people who agree with the video's general purpose, but not with how the information was presented or, in at least one case, how the organisation itself is run.

I watched the video and was moved. A large part of me even wanted to run out and order the campaign kit immediately. But I was left with too many questions: how does one man enslave so many children for so long without deterrence? If he has no support, who is the LRA? Does removing him from the picture take a big enough bite out of this problem?

It's okay to feel something after seeing a great ad. But afterward, and especially when the objective is social mobilization (as opposed to, say, buying mascara), give whatever questions rise to the surface the dignity of an answer. Find the story's hidden side.

You may agree with that hidden side, or you may not, and what you do afterward is up to you. But at least you'll be moving forward well-equipped instead of riding an emotional high. You'll be glad you pursued a fuller context than the one that was framed so nicely. And you'll act with more certainty and greater precision, in part because you'll also find other ways to act (here are a handful).

Your actions then are more likely to sustain themselves, and to persuade.

I know a ton more about Joseph Kony and his injustices today than yesterday. A lot of people do. Already that is better than not knowing. But it's equally important to conduct research about the org providing this information, and just generally to be wary of two-dimensional "kill the bad guy" rhetoric. It is not nearly sufficient reason to take up arms, even if those arms are only posters and bracelets. 

06 March 2012

AdVerve Podcast #84: DisPinterested

But will it print you a dream...?

Play the show now. Subscribe in iTunes.

Get your rage rant about social media lunacy, whether there's a point to Pinterest and Bill's latest discovery: We take on pirates and breach Kevin Smith's reality TV series Comic Book Men and Angela talks about the Pirate Bay's new project: 3D Printing! Never buy a pair of Air Jordans again, not when you can make your own and fill that shit in with a Sharpie.

02 March 2012

Is Monocle the New Louis Vuitton?

I’m not sure the people at Monocle would like their well-cared for magazine to be positioned as a luxury product brand — but it’s not always up to the people who work at a brand to decide what the brand is about. Today, many luxury brands feel manufactured and the holding company’s strategy of putting them through a BCG Matrix lifecycle of stars to cash cows must be plainly obvious to any premium product-buying customer. They want more. They want better. Brûlé and his team have not only had the opportunity to write about fashion, travel, automotive and jewelry — they have had the opportunity to create world-leading businesses in each market by leveraging a very 21st century top-of-the-market brand.
- Piers Fawkes, "Is Monocle the New Louis Vuitton?", PSFK.

I am inclined to agree. It's the information age, and Monocle is a luxury purveyor. You can feel it at first touch; even its ads are a tribute to content.

Obsessively Interested ... in Everything.

Today on AdVerve, Darryl posted this beautiful video featuring Michael Wolff for Intel Visual Life. I just felt so much better after watching it. It's pleasing to the eye and commands your attention, but in quietly; something in you just gives pause. It's the story of the work that we do and the story of us, as individuals, traveling quietly through our lives.

You'll see here that Wolff emphasises the importance of curiosity, appreciation and imagination -- none of which are possible without really taking the time to see. We know this intuitively but it's harder to live; our inherent desire to be simpler is in constant combat with the world's desire to populate us with itself. I wish I could carry this sensibility with me all the time.