Current Affairs

social media and political insensitivity

(Disclaimer: I have never read the Quran. I enjoyed having Mein Kamph in the bathroom for some light reading in college.  The views expressed in the videos embedded below are not my own.)

Fitna How do you tolerate intolerance?  Should you?

A member of the Dutch Parliament is being called out by the Dutch courts for insulting Islam, comparing the Quran to Mein Kamph. 

My Question
Is the democratization of media always a good thing?  Is it a good thing that one man has the right to stand up and reach hundreds of thousands via YouTube to share this non politically correct perspective?

Does the web celebrate the niche because the mainstream media doesn't serve their needs?
Is this a good thing for democracy?  For humanity?

Original Fitna Interview (part one) video below

Dutch Commentator on the Political Retribution over Fitna video below

My 2 Cents
I'm not sure that humanity is bettered by voices that call out one another's religious beliefs.  Nor am I convinced that assimilation is the answer to multi-culturalism.  But I can say I am proud of a culture that allows even the most un-PC people to voice their un-PC opinions.

With this in mind, is it acceptable for a PC country like Indonesia to block this content?

inaugurations and celebrations: why?

3004284537_de861a4a79_o Does anyone remember the words of hope and inspiration of the last inauguration?  With generally high approval ratings (in 2005), we (as a whole) celebrated our fight for freedom and democracy.

While my colleagues will be celebrating with free pizza (what agency doesn't give out free pizza at every noon-ish meeting?), I will be joining my friends back home in the place where this all started - social media.  While I'm oversees on vacation, there's nothing quite like a live Hulu stream (Anonymous Mode in Chrome solves overseas IP address blocking) and chatting it up on twitter.

When I shared my plans with my wife, she asked an interesting question, Why do we care about inauguration speaches?  And even if there were meaningful, inspirational and realsitic sentiments being shared, why does this inauguration feel more like more than a political event?

I believe that inaugurations are generally like Superbowl pregame shows.  We're excited about what's to come, and with lots of media hype behind what is often a meaningless speach, we're driven by our friends, family and colleagues to believe in it's importance.  

However, as Obama chose to frame his battle cry of "Yes We Can" into "Yes We Did", this inauguration has become a victory parade.  We are celebrating our own achievements, our own investments in Obama the brand, Obama the man and Obama the movement.  We are celebrating our moment of achievement when we as a nation, elected Barak Hussein Obama.

Here's to hoping that both he and we can live up to the hype, live up the progress, and once again become both a nation inspired and a nation climbing towards better peaks.

the battle of misconception

7240060_1332e880ff_o You can never control the conversation. 

But you there are times when a little information can go a long way.  Unfortunately, bad news travels faster than a good reason.

The challenge presented is that of effective communication.

Consider Israel's Perspective:

  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, captured and has been holding onto Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, for years.
  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, airs the equivalent of Sesame Street for Terrorists, a television program honoring "the martyrs" - suicide bombers and masked gunmen.
  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, held up humanitarian aid for their people, selling 100 aid trucks on the black market.
  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, has used UN ambulances as troop carriers.
  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, has stocked and fired rockets in and from homes, schools and houses of worship.
  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, has been firing rockets indiscrimnatley at civilian targets without stop for years.
  • Hamas, supposedly a humanitarian organization, broke their own cease fire agreement, continuing to fire rockets on the civilian population of southern Israel.

The striking power of an image on a news site or video on YouTube doesn't provide context.  It doesn't inform, it distracts.

Last night I encountered a humanitarian on the train.  She was concerned for the children of Gaza.  As am I.  As is my family.  But is the humanitarian solution is to allow the further indoctrination of children, to allow a terrorist organization to hide among a civilian population, to allow continued rocket fire on Israel's southern population, or to allow weapon caches under a school building?  Is the humanitarian solution to allow this to continue, pending UN actions?  And while this humanitarian agreed with all of the above statements, she still believed that Hamas is a humanitarian organization and Israel is oppressing them.  Because "pictures don't lie".  (The UN has yet to issue a single negative statement in regard to Hamas's humanitarian crimes of late, let alone take any action to encourage Hamas compliance with humanitarian international laws.)

Israel is struggling in the information war not based on the facts on the ground, but the emotionally charged soundbytes of a clip.

Misconception is dangerous.  Is education is the only cure?  And if so, what can we do as a (web) community to help inform?

photo credit here

marketing in a down-market : Oprah should be blogging

Ogily recession Sure, at face value this market is depressing.  Friends are out of a job, people are stressed out, and even agencies are marketing themselves as recession ready.

There are two ways to view this market:

  1. Either you see opportunity to prove ROI, to demonstrate the value of solid creative or social execution, or -
  2. you can fret over the deminishing ROI of the low hanging fruits of media. 

This is your opportunity to display your performance oriented marketing, your understanding of a business beyond a spot, a dot or a message.  This should be the golden age of the consultant, the upstart or the trully progressive agency. 

You can do it.  Calm your nerves and get on with it.  Smile with a colleague and be that positive force. 

And never stop listening, learning, rethinking, educating, networking and sharing.  There is no short term bailout for your business.  So it's up to you to get it going.

So get going, utilizing proven channels to fuel strong ROI/results-oriented interactions. 

This will drive the growth of deeply integrated cross platform marketing.

For example, traditional social influencers will bring their act to the web.  And while I doubt that Oprah will jump on Twitter over the coming year, I don't doubt that a frank, honest and very personal blog would garner tremendous influence.  And that influence is something brands would love to buy into.  The relationships are already in place.  This simple progressive step will open up worlds of opportunity.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Sigma Group pulled together a fantastic presentation on marketing in the downturn, included below.  Kudos to the wonderful Adam Broitman for sharing thia presentation and inspiring this post.

transparency > authenticity > sincerity

  • Transparency is a state of honest communications.
  • Authenticity is a state of presenting.
  • Sincerity is a state of being.

Transparency Not long ago the market began to buzz about the need for transparency in corporate culture as they communicate in social channels.

This soon translated in brand authenticity, further evolving the humanity of corporate culture and the resultant media.

So what's next?

If we think about human relationships, the truest form of communications is that of sincerity.

Which begs the question: Can a brand be sincere?  What does a sincere brand look like?  What are the components that define brand sincerity?  Are there many/any sincere brands out there in the market?

How would you gauge your brand's presence in social media? 

Where do you believe the social media early adopters like Dell, Comcast, Zappos, SouthWest, GM, Delta, Home Depot, Graco, Jet Blue Verizon and AT&T are best categorized?  Are they transparent?  Are they authentic?  Are they sincere?  Are they human?  Or am I totally off?

Thanks to Paull Young for helping to cull this list.

Photo credit here

Disclosure: some of the brands listed in this post are clients.  The views expressed in this post are personal and do not reflect those of my employer or it's parent company.

McCain's Video Game - Smart or Sad?

I try to comment on politics on this blog.  Personally, (odd as this may sound) I believe that both of our candidates are viable and acceptable leaders.

While both candidates have activated their social network advocates, and Obama has proven the success of the microtranscation at scale, McCain has brought a new layer of interactivity into the equation... a video game.

There is no way to say "I am not all that old" like bringing back a popular 25 year old video game - space invaders - and inserting brand messages after each level is completed.  And it's on Facebook!  That's got to make it hip, cool and oh so two point oh.

Check out the game below/after the jump.

Is this wise?  Will this net him meaningful interactivity?  Is this integration serious and meaningful to the channel?  Is it novel enough to the audience to net him success?

Will political messaging in gaming be a trend we see grow over the coming years?  Will the next presidential election see dynamic, or even static advertising or marketing in video games? 

Selling Free Water

Water_subway_eng1_2_2 Dan McGinn over at New Persuasion has a great write up on the NYC Get Your Fill campaign for tap water.  While his points are well taken, and I applaud his efforts to raise environmental awareness around the waste of bottled water (I've since given up drinking Fiji water), there is a greater trend taking place here.

NYC is trying to give away their own free filtered water, and they need advertising and promotions to  help spread the word.   Could it be that the bottled water business has so successfully marketed their product, that consumers don't recognize the value of FREE NYC water that has gone through filters similar to those used by the very same bottling companies they are already purchasing?

Why would someone pay for something they can already get for free, and what can be done about this environmental travesty?

A friend recently suggested that we pay for bottled water because successful marketers have convinced us that bottled water is better.   Otherwise (we must think), why would it be bottled?  As good as marketers are, I don't  believe this to be the truth.

I believe that the answer to this question lies in our societal trends.  We don't fix old VCRs, we buy new DVD players.  We don't fix telephones, we buy new ones.  Think about it, unless you're eating out or particularly concerned with organic whole foods, how much of your dinner is homemade and how much of it came out of some sort of package? 

Gift_2 We are a packaged society.  Everything comes nicely shrink wrapped in an attractive package.  If something doesn't work, we get a new one. 

Given the choice between inexpensive disposable prepackaged water and the prospect of filling a water bottle, refrigerating it, washing it between uses and then remembering to  restart the process all over again  as soon as you get home... it is clearly evident that packaged bottled water is well worth the single dollar price tag (to the average consumer). 

Water But there is hope.  I would like to propose an environmental and humanitarian push against prepackaged bottled water.  NYC can promote their water all they want, but all they are really doing is flushing hundreds of thousands of dollars down the proverbial drain.  Perhaps more efficient, would be to sell "ONLY IN NYC" waterbottles at stores across NYC.  All bottles come prefilled with refrigerated NYC filtered tap water.  All bottles can be refilled with refreshing cold water for a mere 25 cents at any participating  retail location.  Retailers would be making near 100 percent profit while gaining valuable shelf space.  Consumers would be generating far less waste.  Bottled water companies would be forced to move into other markets, like powdered vitamin packed flavor packets and dissolving pills. 

Everybody can win.  Thoughts?