Love is everything.

4 04 2010

The other day I was sitting on a patio at a local coffee joint and watching people walk by (in a totally non-creepy way!). It was the first day of spring in Toronto, love seemed to be in the air (this won’t get any cheesier I promise) and I couldn’t help but wonder what made relationships tick.  At that very instant, I was struck by a profile on This was the profile of “Love is Everything“. I was amazed at how many friends Frank (the dude behind the profile) had – over 14,000! As I spent some time going through his page on Tribe I realized some critical things –

a. Frank figured out what his brand stands for, but he didn’t stop at that. Most importantly, he found a way to translate his brand promise into a cause worth pursuing.

b. Frank is truly authentic! He solely focuses on advancing his message through posts that add value to the community. He does this by giving his community content that furthers the cause.

c. Frank isn’t obsessed with himself. In fact, he hardly talks about himself on his profile.

In today’s digital economy, companies absolutely need to engage and involve their customer communities if they want to regain their business. Unfortunately, just having a great brand and brand promise is not sufficient.

A few days ago, John Bell blogged on the “Utility Brief”. I’d like to leave you with a quote from his article. Hopefully you’ll ponder over this post and share your thoughts.

“Today, consumers want their brands to deliver more value through utility, entertainment or information (the latter two are really just forms of utility). They want high quality products and services but expect brands to go beyond that to keep them as customers or to at least earn their advocacy.”

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Personal Empowerment and Community Building through Social Media

23 03 2010

Source: Flickr: Franco Folini "Graffiti on a truck: renuer"

Throughout history, the development of technology has always sparked counter-cultural movements that have looked to subvert popular culture and societal norms.

Many of these movements were inspired by the situationist movement of the 1960s. However, all these movements did have 2 common underlying motives. They all looked to improve personal empowerment and encouraged the building and growth of communities.

One such movement led to the use of print media to create the “Whole Earth Catalog“. This catalog promoted openness, user-generated content (yes!..back in the late 60s) and stood for the democratization of information and collective consciousness. Out of this catalog was born a message board called Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL) in 1985. This online message board looked to again subvert culture by attempting to use technological tools (initially built for societal control) to bring about Personal Empowerment and a sense of community. Of course, I don’t need to remind you that the same underlying motives form the foundation of Social Media and the web 2.0 world as we know it.

I therefore strongly feel the success of innovation in the Social Media world will be heavily dependent on whether or not newer ideas take the fulfillment of these very motives/ideals a step further. Yes, I know there are many other factors that will influence success, but I believe that these cultural motives are critical to laying a foundation that can withstand growth.

I think a good example is Foursquare (and of course other similar location based services) because it looks to improve personal empowerment by giving businesses the ability to better cater to their customers’ needs. Are there other examples of innovation in social media that adhere to these two principles? Your input will make this post and my follow-up a lot more interesting.


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Dove for men?

12 02 2010

I’m not someone who’s usually a fan of brand extensions. They invariably tend to dilute the built up brand equity of the parent brand. However, having said that, I do feel that the new mens line from Dove could actually be successful. Here are 2 simple reasons why:

1. Culturally it has become acceptable for men to take care of themselves. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guys at Dove were working with some numbers that showed quite a few men already using their products (no, I’m not one of them!)

2. In this particular case, dove seems to be very cleverly making positive use of their brand equity, telling men that they work hard and slog all their lives and hence deserve a little luxury for their skin. The ads are also pretty slick…hmm, maybe I need make a trip to the local grocery store!

Now we have to wait and see how the campaign and product actually fairs in the marketplace.

The business model of the remix

26 01 2010

I was recently listening to one of my favourite authors’ Matt Mason talk about Piracy as a business model on @SparkCBC. That podcast inspired me to write this post. Mason has inspired me since the day I started reading “The Pirates’ Dilemma”. I have personally used the remix to develop ideas and a business model for a startup that I am currently investigating. But enough about me. I want to use this post to highlight some interesting examples of companies that have embraced remix culture and have developed either a business model out of it or used it successfully in marketing their products/services.

1. The coolest example is of 20th Century Fox’s use of the comedic band GirlzNite‘s video “Die Hard”. Fox’s marketing team realized that this song (which was funny and pretty much summarized the plots of the first three movies) could be an ideal way to get consumers excited about the movie and generate buzz before the release of version 4…and they were right! Here’s the video.

2. Similarly, the BBC embraced the remix by creating the service “Masher” – that allowed users to freely remix their videos (from the BBC motion gallery) and share it with their friends and networks.

…and of course, who can forget the stark resemblance that the first generation iPods had to a certain type of portable radio (refer to one of my older posts).

So whats my point you ask?

Well, in the world of marketing, the concept of the remix can offer us a lot of ideas and help us innovate. Here’s why:

1. The remix is in all of us, because today it’s a part of culture. We understand the remix, we constantly consume it and we repeatedly use it – in our own lives.

2. The concept of the remix is still highly debated and not considered a part of mainstream culture. This gives marketers an advantage – the ability to create tight knit and highly involved communities of consumers.

At the end of the day, the remix is all around us – in hundreds of products and services we consume on a day to day basis. It’s up to marketing and business/product development teams in organizations to look at leveraging the remix to their advantage rather than looking at remixers as thieves/ copyright violators. A huge cultural shift is in order…thoughts?

Culture and its effects on advertising

8 12 2009

I made my first trip to Las Vegas last week and there was tons to observe from a cultural perspective. This picture below I think encapsulates the culture of Las Vegas.

It’s striking to see how the unauthentic is so openly accepted in Vegas, while everywhere else, we are constantly struggling to prove that we’re the real authentic!

Interesting to note what effect such a culture would have on advertising in the city.

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What Marketers can learn from the Fashion Industry

15 09 2009

The Fashion Industry is a model for how the remix culture has spawned innovation. The industry is always at the cutting edge of culture simply because the nature of the business gives them no better choice (if they want to stay in business that is). That is why as a marketer looking to understand culture, I feel that it becomes extremely useful in understanding what the Fashion Industry is up to. This summer, the trend has revolved around “Romance” and “Ethereality“.  As this trend gradually finds its way into popular culture, marketers that look to create a sense of romance and simplicity with their programs will likely benefit.

Romance in Spring/Summer 2009

Romance in Spring/Summer 2009