Friday, June 14, 2013

Fail forward

Yesterday during an online conversation I was taking part in, someone asked the question to the group, "What would be the topic of your TED Talk?"

For those not familiar with TED, it is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design – and an organization that hosts conferences which feature inspiring talks by people from all walks of life. Here's a brief one from Richard St. John.

There were a lot of interesting suggestions from the altruistic, "How to harness Africa's potential" to the more educational "A history of Visual Communications."

After a little thought, I chimed in with an idea for a talk titled, "The power of failure."

I wasn't too surprised by the number of people who reacted positively to the topic. As one participant said, "I'm an expert in that myself." to which my reaction was "Every successful person is."

It's not about whether or not one fails – we all fail at one time or another in many parts of our lives – but how one handles failure that matters.

The thing I've learned most from the failures in my life (and there have been many) is that it's never as bad as you think. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off and move forward putting whatever lesson you've learned in your bag to carry along with you on the road ahead.

Being comfortable with failure – notice I didn't say "accepting failure" – allows you to take the risks you'll ultimately need to succeed.

So even knowing that it'll probably be rejected, it's time for me to start work on that TED Talk.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Myspace isn't for me

Myspace is spending $20 million to send out invitations to its coming out party, and clearly I'm not invited.

Myspace – remember them? – the original social network that lost the race to Facebook and then was totally mismanaged by Murdock's media empire, is relaunching as a hipper, cooler place to be.

I'm just not sure what the new, Justin Timberlake owned, Myspace is. Is it a social network? Is it an entertainment portal? Is it a dating site? Maybe the people they're targeting know. Or better yet, maybe those very people will help define it and make it what it needs to be.

I know one thing Myspace isn't based on this spot: a place for geezers like me.

And that's probably smart seeing as my generation has taken Facebook away from the college kids who started it. There might just be a need for a place where a younger generation can hang out with friends away from the watchful eye of their parents.

When I was a kid our spot was the high school track on a Friday night. We'd meet there, talk about school, life, the future and maybe even enjoy an illicitly procured adult beverage or two.

Kids have always needed that place to separate from their parents; something that's become harder and harder to do in a land of smartphones, GPS tracking and helicopter parenting. If Myspace fills that niche, they may just become a relevant platform again.

Me, I'd still prefer hanging out with friends at the track, but I'm old-school like that.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's just Apple being Apple

Every few years Apple does this. They create an ad that reminds people of the philosophy behind the products they make.

They did it in 1984.

They did it in 1997.

This is not a new direction for Apple advertising (at least is shouldn't be). This is a one-off like those previous efforts, that will reset the brand and create a framework for the product advertising that is to come.

Apple's brand is all about democratizing the computer, putting technology in the reach of ordinary people in a way that improves their lives. That hasn't changed. The products have evolved and will continue to evolve to stay relevant as the world changes.

So please, all the critics and naysayers out there, you can stop the heavy breathing. In spite of its recent issues, I expect Apple to be just fine.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Actions speak louder than ads

The revelations that the Federal Government is collecting massive amounts of data about how foreign nationals and U.S. citizens use the internet and their mobile devices – all while warning others about doing the same – justifiably has a lot of people up in arms and will have another unintended consequence.

A blow to brand USA.

Our government's "do as I say, not as I do" attitude has created a perception here and around the world that all the beautiful ads JWT has produced can't possibly overcome.

It's really hard to convince people to visit the "Land of Dreams" when we're fast becoming known as the "Land of Surveillance."

Monday, June 10, 2013

When you can't win the argument, change the conversation

Last year, General Mills spent over a million dollars to help defeat the clumsily named, California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

Not long after when one of its bigger brands, Cheerios, ran an online campaign that allowed its fans to create their own ads for the cereal, this was – oh so predictably – the result.

So what do you do when a vocal portion of your potential target audience protests and boycotts for one of your signature products?

Try to convince them that GMOs are good? Sell them on the economic benefits of innovation? Ignore them and hope they go away?

If you're General Mills, you change the subject.

In this case, General Mills produced a commercial for Cheerios that was – oh so predictably – sure to bring out the unenlightened trolls who spewed vile hatred of the spot in the comments section on YouTube forcing General Mills to disable them.

This – just as predictably – has created a lot of positive media attention about Cheerios and a strong community of support for the brand.

So now Cheerios isn't the cereal that supports Frankenfoods. It's the cereal that fights racism.

Well played, General Mills.

Well played.