If you don’t give people the opportunity to feedback on the product you sell or the service you offer, they’ll find ways to let you know… but not as you may wish them to…



Fast Actionplanning

Lorraine up in the Manchester office asked yesterday if there were any principles for doing a ‘fast Actionplanning session’… one that doesn’t take an hour and a half or so, but still delivers a plethora of interesting ideas…


If you want to run a fast Actionplanning session, I’d suggest the following guidelines…

i) Set a really easy-to-get objective, which doesn’t need any over-analysing of the audience, background or whatever, and write it on a board at the end of the room…

“Use media to help sell more smoothies as a mid-morning snack “

ii) ONLY use randomisation… it takes virtually no time to explain, so it’s as fast as divergent thinking gets

“Using the word TRAP, come up with an idea for using media to help sell… etc “

iii) Break people into twos/threes, and give them some Actionplanning Sheets to capture the ideas. 

They will use their random words to build up an idea between them, then commit it straight to the Actionplanning Sheet…

Doing an Actionplanning session this way, each group should be able to create an idea on a sheet every 3-4 minutes over a twenty minute period… it’s amazing how fast the creative juices can flow when you get going, but people will run out of energy.

So, realistically, with a group of eight people, split into twos, you should be able to generate at least 20 ideas… go on, give it a go 🙂


Noisy, innit?

A recent post here on Seth Godin’s site suggested that the background ‘static’ of the internet is interupting the ‘message’ of the radio programme you want to here… there’s just so much STUFF that it becomes harder to get a crystal clear signal of the good stuff you would like.

We’ve harped on about media fragmentation for years now, and how you really have to create ‘standout’ to get noticed… you had to create things that people wanted to see, play with, engage in.

But I wonder if even within the ‘standout’ communications things are getting too noisy.  There are so many brands now falling over themselves for you to engage with this, befriend them on that, vote for them on the other, that something akin to the paradox of choice may well start to kick in… faced with too many decisions, the consumer chooses none.

Imagine what the world will be like in five years time, when every brand has a social media function, blogging dept., content channel… it’s going to be deafening.

What people will need is editors.  How can your brand be an editor?


It's all about people and ideas…

You can have the most wonderful, sculpted processes and systems in the world, but is that going to develop a culture of innovation in your company?  No, because you need great people who have great ideas.  These people will develop great stuff either because of, or despite, any systems you have in place.

This post on the Idea Champions weblog highlights the fact that any company’s role should be to allow it’s people

“Organizations do not innovate. People innovate.  Inspired people. Fascinated people. Creative people. Committed people.  That’s where innovation begins. On the inside.

The organization’s role — just like the individual manager’s role — is to get out of the way…  it is important to remember that systems, processes, and protocols are never the answer. They are the context, not the content.”

Don’t bog people down with process, free their thinking instead.


Dirt is Good. Depending on where the dirt is…

So, you’ll be familiar with the Persil/Omo “Dirt is good” campaign I guess…


Well, on the back of my international vs. local post the other day, I heard an interesting piece of anecdotal evidence about it today.

In India, it’s a great success… people have really embraced the ‘outdoor stuff is good for you kids, let them get dirty and enjoy themselves, and we’ll help care for their clothes’ message… send the kids out, let them get dirty.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, they’ve created a really nice little video interpretation of it to suit their culture… see it, read the translation and join the debate at Richard Huntington’s post on  it.

But in China, it’s a failure.  The ‘dirt is good’ philosophy really clashes with the current air pollution problems there apparently, so parents think that keeping their kids clean, and out of smoggy, dirty environments, is the way to keep the kids healthy… keeps the kids in, keep them clean.

So it’s an international strategy that doesn’t work everywhere but can work very well in some places.  So surely the best idea is to have local areas try it / interpret it / embrace or reject it based on their local knowledge?  Are all worldwide brand edicts like this destined to encounter at least some interpretative problems?


Fish where the fish are

So, you’ve got a new product that brings together two previously separate entities together in a new, exciting convergence development… or indeed you’ve whacked an oyster chip on a credit card…


So where do you go fishing for customers?  Where the two collide, most probably… seems logical, yes?  Well, kind of… are people rushing through tube stations really going to stop and listen to another credit card offer? 

Reminding people about the fact they can get a credit card with an Oyster in the environment where you can use the Oyster is fair enough, but trying to convert them to sign up there and then seems a bit a stretch…

Another reminder that the ‘where’ and the ‘what’ must work closely together… fishing with the wrong sort of bait in a pond full of fish still isn’t going to work that well…


Standing out in (front of) a crowd

I don’t go and see as many gigs as I used to perhaps, but I still see a good couple every month, and therefore can tell that the show which Gonzales put on tonight was top notch…

Firstly, you get the superlative musicianship… great talent all round in a band who obviously practice a lot.  But they know that it’s only part of the requirement… they work hard at the actually showmanship (or stagecraft, if you will)…

First of all, there’s a presence on stage as they all wear identical stockbroker shirts, ties, braces and grey slacks…


Then, of course, there’s the ‘roaming round the audience’ that Gonzales undertakes instead of playing his biggest ‘hit’ called ‘Let’s Groove Again’…


Then there’s an ‘internal monologue’ section (where the spotlight selects band members in turn, playing their ‘thoghts’ over the PA), an onstage bust-up between him and the band, followed by a couple of solo piano spots, then an onstage reconciliation… it’s like the weirdest musical ever written, and even though I’m not a musical fan that’s meant to be a complement…

The driving force behind it all is just how much thought, effort, practice and time has gone into entertaining the audience… it raises the bar for most other gigs you could think of, that’s for sure…

So imagine how much better it is than the majority of so-called ‘branded content’… the stuff that brands are producing as entertainment are nothing mor ethan mere distractions compared to an event like this.

And because the content is being put on by a ‘brand’, the audience probably demands that it’s 10% better than it would have been had it not been branded…

…but the rewards for the brands that goes that extra mile will no doubt be huge.  Come on people, put on a SHOW…


International Brand of Mystery

I was out walking with Helen on the South Coast this weekend, which was (as usual) mentally refreshing… there‘s something about not thinking about any work or study that makes you idly think about some work stuff…

And it can be triggered by the simplest things; for instance, I appeared to be picking up the French version of the Orange network on my mobile phone, which when standing on the chalky white cliffs of Britain is an interesting juxtaposition.



Which is a nice metaphor for any of us who works on international brands; try as you might to keep the communications you do to one country, they will inevitably spill over into other countries around the world.

For instance, the BMW work in the UK for the 1 series isn’t the same as the work that BMW’s US agencies put out there… their sponsorship of the Onion TV for instance (which has stopped now, but any excuse to show The Onion…) was pretty different to the work seen in the UK




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Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot


However, whilst their sponsorship was on, The Onion TV was the subject of a two page celebration in the Guardian Guide… therefore pointing lots of people form the UK in the direction of BMW sponsored content.

So, should all ads be the same across all countries? Or just the communications that can be seen across these territories? But then how do you interpret local context, languages, social traditions and the like? And make each local client & agency team feel like they’re contributing valued work in their areas?<o:p> </o:p>

Tricky, isn’t it? I don’t know what the answer is (something around ‘global principles, locally interpretted’ perhaps…), but as more and more people cross international boundaries for their entertainment, it’s becoming vitally important.


Slidecasting – never present in person again…

I found the other day just pootling around the web, and I’m very glad I did: it’s essentially a site to host and share your powerpoint presentations, either publically or privately.  Which in itself is brilliant as a resource for interesting slides, or just sharing presentations with a select group of colleagues and clients and so on.  But it gets better.

Because not only can you upload your slides, you can record an MP3 of you presenting it, and then phase the slides in time with your audio presntation, so very quickly building an audio-visual story for anyone who wants to see it.  Here’s one I’ve done for the IPA Excellence Diploma I’m doing… (turn the volume up for some dulcet Scottish tones…)

It’s fast, easy and a much better idea than emailing presentations.  I expect I’ll be doing quite a few more…


Freedia… some initial rules

Now, before I put up a post on something new I was kicking around; Freedia – essentially the potential for the right brand or company to ONLY use free-to-user communications tools, and ‘home-made’ content.  The original post is here.

Anyway, I was doodling on my pad the other day, and came up with some initial rules:


So, a longer form explanation:

Firstly, by ‘play nice’ I  guess I mean any ‘freedia representatives’ (or ‘freedians’) a company employs to look after their freedia spaces are, well, the kind of folk you get every once in a blue moon talking to a call centre.  Helpful, polite, friendly, engaging.  You know the sort.

Secondly, ‘don’t buy space’.  Pretty self explanatory, but I think a necessary rule because as soon as you start buying space, you’re into a completely different cost dynamic; it’s no longer structured around the cost of the freedian to look after a customer, but back into traditional paid-for-media territory.

Thirdly, any materials you put up (video, graphics, written content, whatever) should be produced by the team putting it up there… the freedia world’s hard enough and too fast moving to have 3 agencies try and coordinate freedia 10 hours a day… that way paralysis of process lies, my friend…

And finally, of course, all these could be wrong, and any other rules you make up, you’ll have to change on a daily basis.

But that just sounds fun 🙂