Yesterday there was an article in the New York Times that talked about the advent of mobile phone advertising in the US. And it saddened me that the argument for mobile phone advertising was that it reduced bills, indirectly or directly, for mobile phone users. No wonder we are an industry that are often despised and more and more people feel advertising is spamming them if we start from the point that we are 'buying' eyeballs rather than adding value by giving people the gift of an interesting idea.
There's a fantastic debate going on over at adliterate. It began as a debate about whether blogging was killing planning - a concern put forward by some great planners like John Lowery and John Griffiths who argue that it is perhaps eroding basic craft skills (I would observe although I see more 'gonzo' planners (a fantastic term coined by MT Rainey) around now than ten years ago this trend was happening well before the advent of blogs). Others have concerns that we are simply creating a new orthodoxy around 'new marketing' which is just as dangerous a beast as an orthodoxy around 'old' marketing ideas. The flip side to the argument is that blogging is an immensely powerful tool and exercise for planners - Richard argues this very eloquently on his post. What I found most interesting reading through the comments, and in particular the exchanges between John Lowery and John Grant, is that this is not really a debate about blogging, or what some claim as a debate between different schools - 'new' and 'old' - of planning. Instead, it's a fascinating insight into the changes we are trying to grasp as people working out how to link brands with people. Both Johns ('The Two Johns' - now that would be a great planning podcast) agree that there is real skill in using data and analysis to understand the root problem a brand faces and communication needs to address. But then the real differences emerge - over the 'how' you solve this problem (ie how you think communications work today and for this specific problem and group of people), and whether you have to do the analysis before you come up with ideas or vice versa. It's a debate well worth reading and thinking about. Personally, I just think it re-inforces how there is not 'one' way to do planning (which is good as otherwise a computer has just taken my job) and the complexity over how communication works.
I just want to say thank you to all of you who read and link here. Despite an early life of failing to break the music charts (by quite a margin), I have just discovered that I have made the Todd And Power's Top Marketing 150 blogs (US blogs only) and crept into the the top 50. I'm a little humbled and embarrassed still that anyone reads this stuff and finds it useful so thank you (I sense all the tearful acceptance speeches at the Golden Globes I have on in the background are getting to me)
A while ago Russell had a post about a BBC Radio 2 show called The Record Producers and its episode on Trevor Horn. Well this New Year's Day they had a fantastic episode on the work of Nile Rodgers the guitarist and producer of Chic who has also produced Duran Duran, David Bowie and Madonna among others. You can listen to the episode here.
What I found interesting was his discussion about the classic track Good Times and the peek into the individual tracks of the multitrack. Specifically, how many simple and strightforward parts were layered to create something with depth, nuance, complexity and interestingness. Which is what I believe good brands do - it's not about being complex but layering lots of straightfoward individual elements together to create something with much more richness.
And this leads me on to my current read, the quite brilliant Made To Stick. This book tries to pull together the principles of the stickiness of ideas - simple rules, the danger of too much knowledge, the velcro principle and the power of aphorism among other things. I'll post more on this when I've finished but I recommend you pick up a copy. It's the depth and back story to The Tipping Point and an essential read for anyone who needs to think about how to make ideas inherently sticky.
Great post by Faris about the assumption that brands lie in the heads of individuals. They are a social beast, and I'm looking forward to reading Mark's new book that should advance the thinking around this. One thing, to tie this into stuff from some of the recent posts, is that this thinking helps make clear the role of the brand and its communications today - give an idea, a belief that has enough power and stickiness to live between people, and corral people around it. That's what makes a brand successful today.
I thought I'd throw out another question. For all our talk of complexity and molecules of lots of coherent things, there always tends to be one theme that dominates the year in the press and blogosphere about brands and communication. So:
2004 was digital. 2005 was engagement. 2006 was user generated content.
What will 2007 be about? I'd love it to be about marketing enthusiasm but my guess is it's going to be about a move from saying to doing and concepts like branded utility. It feels like over the last two years the debate has moved from delivery to content and maybe now it's the turn of action and behavior. Any thoughts out there?