Saturday, January 15, 2011

in other news, australia invaded new zealand today

And took it before lunchtime. To celebrate, the whole country is getting Monday off, just like us!

Friday, January 14, 2011

how to succeed in business even if you're a working mom

Thanks to Jeff Kwiatek for pointing out in the comments yesterday that a dearth of women at the top afflicts not only creative professions. He sent a link to this TED talk by Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg who offers insights on why so few women get to the C-Suite. One problem she says is that women systematically underestimate their own abilities. Men tend to attribute their success to themselves, while women attribute it to external factors. And, like it or not, people believe what they hear.

Sandberg offers three powerful pieces of advice to women who want to go for the corner office:
1. Sit at the table (Belly up, ad broads)
2. Make your spouse a real partner. (We've made more progress at work than we have at home.)
3. Don't leave before you leave. Meaning, don't ratchet down your performance before you have to, such as in preparation for maternity leave. Some women stop raising their hands for career-making assignments long before they have to. Leave when you leave, not before. That way, you'll have more to come back to.
The remark that resonated most for me was her acknowledgement that no matter what your choices, life won't be perfect. “I know no women, whether they’re staying home or in the workforce, who don’t feel guilty sometimes,” she said, adding how hard it had been for her to drop her 3 year old off in daycare that day. Yeah. Even all these years later, I can relate.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

one show, one body type

Frank Rose did an excellent roundup and analysis of the One Club's fun fling at MOMA last night celebrating their picks for best of the Digital Decade. So I won't try to reiterate here. I'd just like to add that my own observation was how very few women mounted the stage. Most acceptances were from teams in skinny ties and dark suits, like those shown here for BMW's The Hire. (9 out of 10 on stage, interestingly, no longer work at the agency, Fallon.)

I have no beef with the many talented guys who gathered last night to accept their due. But I suspect that consumers might be better served if the ad world was led by more than a smattering of creatives like Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin of Ogilvy/Toronto, who were among the few females honored, for Dove's Evolution.

Why do so many fewer women than men manage to prevail in creative fields like Adland? I'm convinced it's not just that guys want to play with their kind. It's that often women's drive gets deflected before the game is over. Their priorities shift, their goals are realigned by lifechanging events such as having a child (or trying to), their focus is splintered by encroaching demands inherent in juggling a worklife and life. I'm a perfect example of this. Twenty-four years ago, the then-hot shop Scali, McCabe, Sloves granted me a generous six month maternity leave. But a baby proved the toughest boss I'd ever had, and to preserve flexibility in meeting her needs, I went back as a freelancer.

Times have changed, happily, in that men are assuming more active roles in bringing up baby. (See alpha dads.) Being relieved of 100% responsibility for raising a family is essential if women are to achieve workplace success. But what's also essential is that they manage not to relinquish the drive and passion that launched them as interns.

There's a lot of talk lately about the necessities and benefits of cross-pollinating disparate brains around conference room tables. Yet, too often, the brains are of homogenous gender. Attendance at the table requires time and exertion and acknowledgement that it's important to be there. Belly up, ad broads. Yes, we can.

verbatims heard only by delusional clients

There's a new meme making the rounds today titled "Things Real People Don't Say in Advertising." Next time clients ask for a viral microsite, send them the link to this hilarious tumblr by a copywriter at GMMB in DC. Site now open for submissions. You know you've got 'em.

spied it first on Agency Spy

CES=Creative Evolution Surging

I didn’t go to CES (Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas) last week, but seems I didn’t have to, as it’s possible to learn as much (or more) from hashtags and blogs as it is by schlepping out to a conference. Years ago, CES was for geeks only—you didn’t have to grok the latest in television technology to come up with a great commercial for it. But now that technology is part the creative process itself—could W+K have done Nike Livestrong without some awareness of advances in the field of robotics?—recent shows have been drawing increased attention from marketing and creative communities.

One of the most valuable writeups I’ve found on CES 2011 cites trends and implications for marketers. (Tip o' the pillbox to BBH.) The observation most interesting to me, was that “A number of devices allowed consumers to simply move a single experience across phone, TV, or tablet.” The implications of this are cosmic. Because when technology makes seamless “experience shifting” possible, it means that consumers will expect content to seamlessly migrate too. Which ain’t just a matter of resizing screens. (Remember when TV first came out and ad agencies simply made up screen cards of print ads?) Brands will have to be able to provide content that isn’t just “media agnostic” but suited to and crafted for multiple platforms. They'll expect a brand story they see on TV to translate into an experience that makes sense on mobile, that rings bells and whistles of the tablet they're reading on the way to work. Yes, that evolution is in the nascent stage, but, as the writers of the report observe, smart brands will experiment with development now while audiences are still small and forgiving.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

back to the future at MIT

Oh, the wealth of gizmos that geeks at MIT have bestowed on the world: radar, Technicolor, stair-climbing wheelchairs, even a battery powered by a virus. See displays of new and once-new technologies created at MIT since the school was instituted (days before the Civil War broke out) in their just-opened exhibition “MIT 150.” You don't have to be in Cambridge to visit. The exhibition’s website lets you browse artifacts like Spacewar!, the first video game created in 1961 on a DEC computer. And Lantern slides, an ancestor of PowerPoint, in which black and white transparencies are inserted into glass “sandwiches.” I suspect it was good news for our forefathers that lantern slides were heavy and had to be toted in wooden boxes—must have kept presentations mercifully short. More on the show from Daniel Grant in today's WSJ.

Monday, January 10, 2011

kid builds company out of erector set

Don't you just love how the Wall Street Journal has shrugged off its green-eyeshade image and embraced the world north of Maiden Lane? Today's front page features a story on the (remember?) Brannock foot-measurer which is being knocked off in (surprise) China. There's a quote from someone with a job I didn't know existed--shoe historian. And an interesting tale of how the company began: Charles Brannock was the son of a shoe salesman who began developing the contraption while still a student at Syracuse University. He applied for a patent with a prototype made out of erector-set pieces. Business took off during World War II when the government contracted a version that measured both feet at once, which sped up the process of distributing footwear to soldiers. Seems like great fodder for erector-set's agency. See what you learn reading stuff besides trades?