Famously Effective Since 1917
Posted in TVC on June 20, 2011
Are people getting sick of the Axe ads? Somehow I think it’s still working.
Especially for your crazy hormone raging teens who are after a little bit of ass.
Posted in Thoughts on June 20, 2011
An interesting video from Cannes on YouTube highlights some key points about using Social Media but more importantly, how to use a brand to CONNECT with fans.
One of the questions asked by the presenter is “What happens when the human soul encounters kindred spirits?“. Deep but an interesting question none the less. When you think about the your potential customers in that light, you can’t help but feel energised to start building more meaningful communication platforms. You start to envision talking to a crowd that is actively looking for you and one that wants to be communicated to in a way that is enriching and beneficial to both parties.
Is time to get rid of the word “customers” and replace it with a more suitable word? Companion, accomplice, crony??? Something that at the least makes it sound like the people are more important?
Facebook has done a good job by replacing it with “fans” that shows a more sensitive connection. What could it change too?
Posted in Interactive on June 20, 2011
Here is a nice campaign for Nike Running out of Amsterdam, leveraging the Nike+ mobile app in conjunction with a very cool Facebook app, designed to get youngsters back into running.
After identifying that youngsters think running is boring, Nike set out to make it a little more fun and socially rewarding. So they created a campaign called Nike Take Mokum, a social challenge that lets runners draw creative running routes over satellite maps through a Facebook app, before sending out challenges to friends to help complete them in the real world, through the Nike+ running app. (almost feels a little like the Nike Grid campaign)
As the teams of friends ran the actual routes, they turned into cool graffiti looking pieces of art on the Facebook app. The campaign looks to have been a solid success, with the page putting on just over 9,000 fans, having 220 unique runs created, with over 1,200 Nike+ km’s run during the 6 week campaign. The campaign was created by Boondoggle Amsterdam. (Via Mark on Adverblog)
Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2011
Digital security firm Symantech has discovered a new type of viral exploit that tries to crack open a user’s Bitcoin wallet and steal its contents–the virtual answer to the old-fashioned bank heist. But what’s a Bitcoin, and why would anyone want one when there are gold bricks and paper dollars still ripe for a swindle?
Symantec’s discovery of the Infostealer.Coinbit malware shows how valuable the new currency actually could be, although whether that value is merited is hotly debated. Another hack-based heist earlier this week resulted in the theft of 25,000 Bitcoins at a real-world equivalent value of nearly $500,000, and there’s no way the victim can recover the lost cash, thanks to the tech that makes the currency “safe” in some senses. This shows how dangerous a new way of transferring notional value in symbolic form (i.e. any type of money) can be for early adopters.
Bitcoins don’t actually exist in the physical sense. When you engage in a Bitcoin transaction, you’re merely sending a highly encrypted digital token that says, in effect, “This token is numbered X, and I’m conferring ownership to the recipient.” The identity of the coin, owner, and new owner are all cryptographically protected via public keys, and when a transaction is completed the Bitcoin “market” is alerted to the new ownership–meaning that when the new owner tries to spend it, buyers will only accept the coin if it comes from the associated account. It’s all handily explained here:
Though the idea’s been around for a while, it’s been in the spotlight recently thanks to the $500,000 theft and because two U.S. Senators recently pressed for a crackdown on the currency. Some say Bitcoins are being used to buy illegal drugs online via shadowy markets that exploit both the effectively untraceable Bitcoins and the anonymous way they can be traded. There’s also plenty of scrutiny of the entire principle that underpins the currency–for a primer, check out the very lengthy thread on Quora that delves into fiscal theory.
Any new form of currency inevitably ignites controversy on a number of fronts. The Linden Dollar, a virtual currency that drives the economy of virtual world Second Life, has attracted some of its own bad news–particularly when moves by Second Life owner Linden Labs forced tiny adjustments or even big swings in the relative value of the currency, causing real-world effects since Linden Dollars trade on an exchange for real dollars. It’s also been alleged that criminals use Linden Dollars as one step in a money laundering process that makes tracing the crime that much harder.
In terms of theft and forgery of a currency, similar problems have beset real-world coins and notes since they were invented. The coins in your pocket have intricately milled edges because it was suggested by Sir Isaac Newton as a way to defeat “clipping,” or shaving the edges of authentic coins to extract metal which could be made into a new, counterfeit coin, thereby devaluing the currency. The battle for ever-more secure printed bills, using more and more sophisticated tech, is a recurring story. And remember how controversial the first online credit-card payments were?
Bitcoin may or may not become a historic digital currency. But either way it heralds a paradigm shift in the way we think about money. Bitcoins aren’t a national currency. They’re not associated with a mint, regulated by governments or banks, and they’re traded digitally–without any real “item” changing hands, even something as transitory as a credit card being handed over to a salesperson.
With the rise of other digital currencies like Facebook credits and wireless “wave and pay” credit-card systems, we’re likely to think about actual money even less than we do already–dropping your phone onto a cash register is such a different process to handing over coins jangling around in your pocket. No one’s saying the dollar or the euro or the pound is going anywhere just yet, but when it becomes even more virtual and interchangeable for digital currency like Bitcoins, controversy will surely follow. Innovations in digital currency can’t be far behind.
Posted in Innovation on June 17, 2011
7 Steps to a Culture of Innovation
Hyper-growth companies often credit a culture of innovation as their primary driver of success. They deploy creative thinking to attack problems big and small. Here’s how you can too.
We live in a business world accelerating at a dizzying speed and teeming with ruthless competition. As most of the tangible advantages of the past have become commoditized, creativity has become the currency of success. A 2010 study of 1,500 CEOs indicated that leaders rank creativity as No. 1 leadership attribute needed for prosperity. It’s the one thing that can’t be outsourced; the one thing that’s the lifeblood of sustainable competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, most companies fail to unleash their most valuable resources: human creativity, imagination, and original thinking. They lack a systematic approach to building a culture of innovation, and then wonder why they keep getting beaten to the punch.
Hyper-growth companies such as Zappos, Groupon, and Zynga credit a culture of innovation as their primary driver of success. They take a deliberate approach to fostering creativity at all levels of their organizations, and deploy creative thinking to attack problems big and small.
Here’s what you can—and must—do to develop a culture of innovation at your company:
1. Fuel Passion
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire,” says Ferdinand Foch, the early 20th century French military theorist. Passion is the first—and most essential—ingredient for building a creative culture. Every great invention, every medical breakthrough, and every advance of humankind began with passion. A passion for change—for making the world a better place. A passion to contribute—to make a difference. A passion to discover something new.
With a team full of passion, you can accomplish just about anything. Without it, your employees become mere clock-punching automatons.
One key is to realize that passion alone isn’t quite enough: You must also focus that passion into a sense of purpose. Steve Jobs wanted to “put a ding in the universe.” Whole Foods Market was founded with the goal of becoming the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket retailer. Pixar wanted to reinvent the animated film industry. Pfizer is about saving lives. Your specific purpose must be your own, but the bigger and more important your purpose is, the more passion it has the potential to create within your team.
2. Celebrate Ideas
Social norms in any culture are established by what is celebrated and what is punished. Consider more narrowly how they function within an institution. Nearly every business’s mission statement includes words about “innovation,” yet risk-taking and creativity are often punished instead of rewarded. Rewards come in many forms, and often the monetary ones are the least important.
Celebrating creativity is not only about handing out bonus checks for great ideas—although that is a good start. It should also be celebrated with praise (both public and private), career opportunities, and perks. In short, if you want your team to be creative, you need to establish an environment that rewards them for doing so.
3. Foster Autonomy
We all want control over our own environments. According to a 2008 study by Harvard University, there is a direct correlation between people who have the ability to call their own shots, and the value of their creative output. An employee who has to run every tiny detail by her boss for approval will quickly become numb to the creative process.
The act of creativity is one of self-expression. Imagine a typical manager hovering over Picasso, barking orders, tapping his watch, questioning the return on investment, and demanding a full report “for the file” on why he chose a certain brushstroke technique. Picasso’s creativity would shrivel.
Granting autonomy also involves extending trust. By definition, your team may make decisions you would have made differently. The key is to provide a clear message of what results you are looking for or what problem you want the team to solve. From there, you need to extend trust and let them do their best work. Let them know you are behind them and value their judgment and creativity. If you show your belief in them, you will likely enjoy both the results you were seeking as well as a highly motivated and more confident team.
4. Encourage Courage
Netflix as a company is known as much for its culture as for its innovative business model. The company has built a business that is growing rapidly by allowing individuals the freedom to take creative risks without that overwhelming sense of fear or judgment. They tell their employees to “Say what you think, even if it is controversial. Make tough decisions without agonizing excessively. Take smart risks. Question actions inconsistent with our values.”
Another great example: A software company in Boston gives each team member two “corporate get-out-of-jail-free” cards each year. The cards allow the holder to take risks and suffer no repercussions for mistakes associated with them. At annual reviews, leaders question their team members if the cards are not used. It is a great way to encourage risk taking and experimentation. Risky? Perhaps. Think this company comes up with amazing ideas? Absolutely.
5. Fail Forward
In most companies, people are so afraid of making mistakes that they don’t pursue their dreams. The simply follow the rules and keep their heads down, which drives nothing but mediocrity.
James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson Vacuum cleaner, “failed” at more than 5,100 prototypes before getting it just right. In fact, nearly every breakthrough innovation in history came after countless setbacks, mistakes, and “failures.” The great innovators and achievers weren’t necessarily smarter or inherently more talented. They simply released their fear of failure and kept trying. They didn’t let setbacks or misfires extinguish their curiosity and imagination.
Failing forward means taking risks and increasing the rate of experimentation. Some bets will pay off; some will fail. The key is to fail quickly. The speed of business has increased dramatically and every minute counts. The best businesses try lots of ideas and let the losers go quickly and with no remorse.
6. Think Small
ITW is a diversified manufacturing company that produces a wide array of products from industrial packaging to power systems and electronics to food equipment to construction products. It is a highly profitable $16-billion company that is nearly 100 years old. Yet this big, old company, which is nestled in a traditional industry, thinks small.
The leaders at ITW believe that being nimble, hungry, and entrepreneurial are the ingredients for business success. As a result, any time a business unit reaches $200 million in revenue, the division “mutates” into two $100 million units. Like an amoeba, the unit subdivides so it stays small, hungry and nimble. The company would rather have 10 independently run and innovative $100 million units than a single, bureaucratic, and clunky $1 billion unit. Guess what? It’s working.
Smaller companies tend to be more curious and nimble. They have a stronger sense of urgency and are not afraid to embrace change. In contrast, larger organizations often exist to protect previous ideas rather than to create new ones.
7. Maximize Diversity
Ziba, a top innovation-consulting firm in Portland, maximizes the value of a diverse workforce. The company’s 120 employees are from 18 different countries and speak 26 languages. According to Sohrab Vossoughi, the firm’s founder and president, “genetic diversity breeds creativity, much like it does with biology.”
The company also has an “Ambassador Program,” which allows employees to spend three months working in other disciplines, known as “tribes.” During that time, the ambassador team member really participates as part of those teams. “This helps to create an understanding of another world,” according to Vossoughi. That diversity of thought and perspective, in turn, can fuels creativity. It also translates to business results. Ziba is one of the most prolific and successful innovation firms in the world.
Diversity in all its shapes, colors, and flavors helps build creative cultures. Diversity of people and thought; diversity of work experiences, religions, nationalities, hobbies, political beliefs, races, sexual preference, age, musical tastes, and even favorite sports teams.
The magic really happens when diverse perspectives and experiences come together to form something entirely new. One person’s experience working as a college intern on Wall Street may fuse with another person’s experience growing up in a small village in Italy to generate a fresh idea that neither would have considered independently. This melting pot approach can drive some of the most creative cultures, thinking, and ultimately business results.
Josh Linkner is a five-time entrepreneur, venture capitalist, professor, and The New York Times best-selling author of Disciplined Dreaming – A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity. You can read more about him at www.JoshLinkner.com or find him on Twitter: @JoshLinkner.
Posted in Trends on June 16, 2011
More and more products today are being digitally enabled. This provides them with the ability to have a voice (albeit limited).
From a wallet from Alfred Dunhil that can ring your mobile when it’s lost or this fridge from Bonafont that reminds people to drink water. What will be the next mainstream item in our daily lives that will be connected?