Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

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.