The Cluetrain Manifesto: still relevant

The Cluetrain Manifesto first appeared in 1999

Best ebook ever. Best free ebook ever. Click image to download.

The Cluetrain Manifesto first slapped me in the face in 2002. I ran across this quote again just yesterday. It still stings:

The question is whether, as a company, you can afford to have more than an advertising-jingle persona. Can you put yourself out there: say what you think in your own voice, present who you really are, show what your really care about? Do you have any genuine passion to share? Can you deal with such honesty? Such exposure? Human beings are often magnificent in this regard, while companies, frankly, tend to suck. For most large corporations, even considering these questions – and they’re being forced to do so by both Internet and intranet – is about as exciting as the offer of an experimental brain transplant.”

Christopher Locke, The Cluetrain Manifesto, December 2000

It still rings true, doesn’t it – especially so soon after watching and re-watching so many Super Bowl commercials. Replace the bit about “intranet” with “social media,” and you can see how timely Locke’s message still is today.

If you catch yourself thinking or writing in the conventions of traditional marketing, I highly recommend you read or re-read it. (Oh go on, it’s free!)

Did the Manifesto affect the way you looked at marketing?
Please comment at the end of this post.

The Manifesto had been picking up steam for a couple years…

Continue reading


More on the Chrysler “Imported From America” ad

For some great insight into Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s decision to go with the Wieden + Kennedy concept for the Super Bowl ad, check out this great post by Forbes auto industry blogger Joann Muller.


The hardest-working Super Bowl commercial was…

There’s a brand that’s in trouble. It’s been making shoddy products for years. It was (and maybe still is) at the brink of failure. It needs not just a Hail Mary, but a succession of them.

Wieden + Kennedy may have answered at least one of those prayers with its work for Chrysler, the first-ever 2-minute Super Bowl commercial.

A Super Bowl commercial must work much like any other marketing communication. It has to speak to the right people, on a matter that’s relevant, in terms they understand, and be compelling. It has to address a need in the client’s sales process, or sales funnel.

Do you think another Super Bowl spot worked better than Chrysler’s?
Please comment at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

But the Super Bowl comes with extra burdens: It creates more pressure to make impact than any other venue in the world of advertising. Everyone’s watching. Even if they’re not watching the game, they’re watching online. They’re FB’ing, Tweeting and emailing. They’re even blogging. You mess up, you’ve done more than waste time, money and opportunity. You can embarrass your brand.

Continue reading


“The Al Jazeera Revolution”

An interesting column in at ForeignPolicy.com says this of the Egyptian uprising:

Can marketers learn from the Egyptian uprising?

Harder than ever to control the message

“It underscores the new reality facing Arab regimes: They no long control the message.” Competing messages gets out via satellite and digital technologies. The days command and control dwindle. (see: The Al Jazeera Revolution)

Comments welcome at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

If even ruthless dictators can’t control the message, how can you as a marketer control yours?   Continue reading


“Social media? Our customers don’t use it!”

Tip of the hat to Peter Shankman for finding this:

So, you think your audience is too old for social media? AARP is a pretty sharp marketing organization (whatever you think of their politics). They don’t think their audience is too old. You wanna rethink what you thought you knew?


Is your vision statement a marketing tool?

Over the years, one of my favorite marketing tools has been the vision statement. As I was explaining my definition of a vision statement to fellow marketing strategist David Camp, he tells me, “Well, that’s great. But it’s not what most people call a vision statement.”

Your vision statement should look into the future for your customers

Look into the future for your customers

He’s exactly right. What I call vision, David calls market insight. It focuses on the future of the customer – what problems they’ll face and what heroic solutions the market will provide. For me, it’s a useful tool because it helps the client look into the future, and project how the customer will need to be served. It demonstrates the client’s industry expertise, understanding of customer needs, and understanding of trends and forces that, for all intents and purposes, are unstoppable. All our marketing efforts ought to have this kind of customer focus.

Comments welcome at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

Continue reading


Your marketing message: Does it connect?

From 25 years ago, the words of David Kennedy, co-founder of Wieden + Kennedy: “We’re really not in the business of making ads. Our job is to make a connection.”  Today you could add websites, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, email and much more to his list of stuff we’re not really in the business of making. It’s always about the connection.

Nike Fashion Thumbnail, Gretsky Kabira ThumbnailSee's thumbnailBurton-Ching thumbnailChevron Base Oils thumbnailSpeedoRineyClarity05 Flash thumbnailConnoisseur thumbnailRigNet thumbnailWorldTelemetry thumbnail Air LogoKink-FMCal ScottBarkley TV stillPiedmont thumbnail

Sometimes you can tell right away if the marketing effort connects. It hits you in the gut.

Other times, you can only tell something about the quality of the design and writing.

And yet well-written, well-designed work often misses the mark. Sometimes terribly. (Just look at two-thirds of Super Bowl commercials, and four-fifths of all websites.) So for each of these samples from my portfolio, I’ve given some context. To view the work, click the images above or the links on the left.


Wieden+Kennedy, 2010 Agency of the Year

As always, Dan Wieden is eminently quotable. “If you told me six or seven years ago that some of the best work this agency would do would be for Procter & Gamble, I’d think you have a drug problem.”  (See Ad Age article.)

Wieden + Kennedy 2010 Ad Age Agency of the Year

2010 Ad Age Agency of the Year: W+K

Meet Ad Age’s 2010 Agency of the Year, Wieden + Kennedy. You remember them, right? Edited to add: W+K was also named Creativity Agency of the Year.

The nicest part of the story:  It wasn’t so much their work for new clients that sparked their great year – though they’ve done notable work for Delta Airlines and Chrysler. Rather, most of their growth and notable work came from existing clients, as they’ve strengthened relationships, built trust and did some kick-ass work. (And created the most remarkable social media campaign of all time. Take that, digerati.)

Comments welcome at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

Congratulations Dan Wieden, Susan Hoffman and your cast of hundreds.


Creativity doesn’t just happen, it’s a process

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity as a process lately. And like magic, our pal Mickey Lonchar, ecd at Quisenberry here in Spokane, sends this along:

Continue reading


Do your employees hate working for you?

What’s the fastest way to kill your brand?

We can all think of lots of ways. But one of the fastest must be to make your employees hate their job.

JobVent.com is a 6-year-old website that lets employees rank their employer according to specific criteria, leave comments, be they nice or scathing.

Continue reading


Really bad branding

Starburst's startling confession

Starburst's startling confession

.

Credit goes to
The Friggin’ Loon
for taking
and posting
this photo.


No wonder Northwest Airlines is disappearing

I wrote about United’s terrible customer service here, so to be fair, here’s a story about Northwest, which will soon disappear as it is absorbed by Delta.Smart People Don't Fly Northwest

Yesterday and today, I had one of those “I’ll never fly this damned airline again” experiences on Northwest.

Because Northwest was late out of one airport, by its own fault (mechanical problems), and even later into the gate at the next airport, again by its own fault, at least a dozen of us missed our connecting flight when it would not wait even five minutes for us to arrive. Instead, they stranded us overnight in Detroit.

Here’s what happened. Continue reading


Thank you to WalMart, The Martin Agency… and our troops

It’s not too often you want to thank a company and its ad agency for a commercial. Here’s a wonderfully touching spot. Congratulations to all involved.

Most important, thanks to every one of our service men and women, and their families, especially during the holiday season.

If any of you Martin folks read this, please send along some credits.


An email from the Dominican Republic

Here’s an email I’d like to pass along, from Erica Monteith, sister of my office mate Ian.

We spend a lot of time worrying about business issues that seem overwhelming. Once in a while reality intrudes with a gentle tap on the shoulder. To better appreciate your circumstances and blessings, read this: Continue reading


Tackling a real marketing challenge: Major League Soccer

Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer are one of the year’s big marketing success stories. An expansion team, they’ve sold every available seat and then some; they sold a huge number of season tickets; they’ve become the hot ticket in Seattle. They’ve created a compelling atmosphere inside the stadium. Paying special attention to the on-the-field product, they’ve made the playoffs and may well set even more records.

Yet Major League Soccer hasn’t enjoyed the same success everywhere.

The league has lost significant attendance in some markets, beyond what you might expect from the economic downturn. They’ve experimented with marketing plans that focus on youth soccer players, on Latinos and on young adults, with spotty results. And some of the product is, frankly, disappointing.

What type of marketing effort should the league make in this day and age?

Continue reading