Sunday, August 30, 2009

supermarket sighting

So that's what they mean by a campaign with legs ;)

Friday, August 28, 2009

child labor isn't the only way for global manufacturers to exploit the poor

In India, Levi's is offering jeans on the installment plan. There, the brand has achieved prom king status thanks in part to ads featuring Akshay Kumar (macho Bollywood film star). Its biggest aspirational base? Men from rural villages, who can't afford them. To "help", Levi's is encouraging customers to pay on installment. According to the front page of The Financial Times:
Under the scheme, customers will be able to pay for Levi's priced at Rs1,599 ($33) and above in three instalments. The move comes after a two-month experiment... where consumers offered the instalment option spent an average of 50 per cent more than normal.
Says Shumone Chatterjee, managing director of Levi Strauss India, "For guys in a village, a pair of Levi's is can immediately catapult you on a social level...It's about giving these guys stuff they couldn't otherwise own in one shot." Not to mention that handy 50% bump in cash outlay.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

@BettyDraper needs your vote

It's that time of year again. Voting for panels for next year's SXSWi, the annual digipalooza in Austin. This year's list of offerings is more impressive than ever. Still, I'm throwing my (pillbox) hat in the ring. For last year's SXSW 2009 (which was great), I organized a "Behind the Scenes with Mad Men on Twitter" panel that seemed to go over well.

This year, I'm proposing two panel ideas. One that shares lessons in twittertainment learned from tweeting as @BettyDraper. The other sharing learnings from real life Mad Men which have surprising relevance to digital marketing. Hopefully one (or both!) of these ideas will gain traction. Whether or not they happen depends on (shameless appeal) votes from people like you! You can vote even if you can't be at the conference. SXSW releases podcasts of all presentations so you won't have to miss out! Hope you'll take a minute to give these the thumbs up. Just click on the bubbles. Or hot air balloons ;)

Vote for my PanelPicker Idea!
10 Rules of Brand Fiction from Mad Men's @BettyDraper
Recipes for creating successful twittertainment and other participatory entertainments that drive brand engagement and ROI by providing consumers with an immersive experience.


Vote for my PanelPicker Idea!

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Mad Men
The transformation taking place in advertising today has been compared to the creative revolution on Madison Avenue when radio gave way to television as the most popular platform for entertainment. What do creative revolutionaries of the Mad Men era have to teach digital marketers today? Presentation will include screening of vintage commercials. Fedora optional.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

sound of music, track 1

I know. I've posted about flashmobs before. But what makes this stunt in Central Station of Antwerp, Belgium so refreshing was that it wasn't orchestrated by a global brand to push product, but as a promotion for a local TV program looking for a lead in the musical "The Sound of Music." 200 dancers. 2 rehearsals. 4 minutes of delight for early morning commuters.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mad Men's Carla raises consciousness 140 characters at a time

Why do Mad Men fans write feeds for the characters? I know that for many of us, it's simply good fun. For others, it's fun and an interesting experiment in social media. For others of us, it's all that opportunity to touch on controversial social issues the show bravely explores.

Latoya Peterson writing for Racialicious observes there's a twitter feed for Carla, the Drapers' African American housekeeper, which puts forth perspective that is "all but absent on the show".

Some critics have taken Mad Men to task for not dealing with social injustice in a more frontal manner. But Weiner's characters exist in a universe where concepts of feminism and racism are just beginning to take hold. Where sexual harassment not only doesn't have consequences, it won't have a name for a good twenty years.

HighJive, a popular blogger who writes on race and "cultural cluelessness" concedes that "finding fault with Mad Men’s rendering of ethnic minorities in the advertising industry is somewhat impossible because, well, they barely exist. They’re invisible."

Indeed, when the twitter feed for Carla first appeared in December, there was no profile pic. There wasn't a profile pic for Carla for weeks. The writer explained why in an email:
I have no picture because I'm invisible.
Carla remained without a profile pic until Jan 19, the day before Obama was sworn in:
Finally found one of my own pictures. Makes me feel like today is a holiday.
From time to time, the writer behind Carla touches on racial inequity taken for granted in the world of Ossining, circa 1963. Here's her exchange with Betty during a twitter-based Tea Party:

Carla: This uniform makes me feel uncomfortable. But I can't show it; must maintain my "quiet dignity" for the party.

Betty: And be sure and put out Cointreau for White Ladies.

Carla: Oh, won't all of your guests be white ladies at the party?

Betty: You are such a character! Gin + Cointreau + Lemon + Powdered Sugar = White Lady. Don't forget to iron your apron!

Carla: We could offer Black Ladies as well. Brandy + Grand Marnier + Kahlua. Paul Kinsey told me he likes Black Ladies.

Carla: And at least, I get to keep my own clothes clean if Betty and her friends spit up the White Ladies on the black lady.

Betty: And change the record on the hifi to Bing Crosby, would you?

Clara: Putting on Bing Crosby record, wishing I'd brought my Louie Armstrong "Christmas Night in Harlem" record to play.
Some tweeters have taken issue with @Carla_Madmen's sangfroid, wishing her to be more politically conscious:
re: Fixation on the Drapers' lives...don't you need to be marching for your civil rights or something?
But Carla on twitter remains in character. She is no Rosa Parks. She is like thousands of women were then as now: ordinary women trying to make the best of the cards they'd been dealt:
March? I get plenty of exercise walking to and from the train.
I do not know who writes @Carla_Madmen. But we have developed an email relationship in which we exchange views on racism and other issues that Carla and Betty can't discuss. I sent her the Racialicious piece and asked for her views on how blacks are depicted in Mad Men. She wrote:

African-Americans are the only grown-ups on Mad Men. To the limited extent you see them, they lack any discernible faults. Whether that's due to their minor roles, I'm not sure. I think it will be interesting to watch Mad Men develop larger roles for minority characters as the 60's progress -- single dimensional with quiet dignity or a more full range of human emotions and foibles. It's obviously a potential land mine for the writers.
And a gold mine of material for the writer of Carla's twitter feed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

dispatch from the twittertainment frontier

Being a Mad Man on Twitter provides unique opportunities to explore the frontiers of twittertainment. So while AMC was whipping up impressive frenzy for the premiere of Mad Men's Season Three last week, some of us Mad Men on Twitter got together to prepare a "tweaser": a fan-produced event in a parallel universe: a twitter show in which Mad Worlds Collide.

Mad Worlds Collide was a first in twittertainment. A dramatic improv produced, created and aired completely on twitter, it bridged the divide between dimensions by offering tickets and real-world Mad Men-era prizes.

The concept was this: in the hour before the long-awaited Mad Men premiere, our new twitter character Radio City hosted a virtual premiere for 1963 film "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", preceded by a variety show in which @Jimmy_Barrett appeared "on stage" with stars of the film, @_EthelMerman and @EdieAdams. It was a scenario that allowed for the participation of all Mad Men on Twitter as well any fans game to get in on the fun.

We issued tickets. Prepared the venue. Sent out the word via tweets and Betty's blog. Even lined up some snazzy door prizes.

As showtime got closer, we drew up a timeline so that we could synchronize our (winding) watches:
9:00- 9:10 People hurrying to Radio City, waiting for show to begin or schmoozing in the lobby or backstage. Theater always gets started late.

9:10 Curtain goes up and Rockettes open the show. Lots of opps for tweeted thoughts from the crowd.

9:19 Curtain goes down.

9:20 Curtain comes up. A variety show is "supposed" to feature a lot of actors from the film. But @Jimmy_Barrett (pissed that Stanley Kramer didn't cast him) takes over the show.

9:30 Curtain goes down.

9:30 - 9:45 Intermission. People mingle in lobby. Door prizes are announced.

9:45 People go back to their seats, anxious for the screening to start .

9:50 Lights go out, in preparation for screening. Everyone posts scrowler which turns viewer screen black.
We crafted posts from RadioCity to act as MC to provide narrative structure, carefully timed and pre-posted to a third-party application which would send out the tweets at just the right moments. What we'd overestimated was distance between 1963 and 2009 technology. Pre-posted tweets from @_RadioCity didn't post. Why isn't my speaker system working tonite? (If we were IRL actors, perhaps we'd have known better than to put all our faith in the production crew.)

Without an MC, the "stage" turned into a free-for-all, truly experimental "theater": not only marvelous improv from @Jimmy_Barrett (see it here) but also fun, fast-paced, unscripted, completely organic and sometimes hilarious entertainment from the crowd. Which you can see here. Appropriate, we decided, to a madcap heist film. And to ground-breaking television drama. The audience certainly seemed to enjoy it.

live from Broadway! it's twittertainment!

The New York Times reports the first Broadway show playing simultaneously in theater and in the twitterverse. From May 12 to June 7, "Next to Normal" issued tweets during showtimes which appeared in the N2NBroadway twitter stream during pauses in onstage dialogue. The entire twitter performances can be viewed here.

What's exciting about this isn't only that it blasts open a new creative frontier (the 3 1/2 Wall?) but that it demonstrates that twittertainment can play a role in building audience. Before the twitter production began, the show sold $226,000 in tickets and filled 72 percent of its seats. The week it ended, the show made $363,000 and reached 99 percent of capacity, according to Broadway League. Some attribute the bump to Tony nominations. But as of this posting, the N2NBroadway feed has 572, 180 followers. Surely Janet Aguhob wasn't the only one who "saw the show because of the tweets...It was like Twitter was the appetizer and then I got the main course."

The idea of adapting the show for twitter was the brainchild of Situation Interactive, an online marketing and ad firm. According to the firm's president, Damian Bazadona, it successfully promoted the show without "banging someone over the head to say, 'Here's how to buy tickets'...The content itself was doing the selling for us."

Character posts were written by the show's playwright Brian Yorkey who was "skeptical when approached about adapting his play for thumb-typers, it sounded like 'a bit of a chore'." He soon took up the creative challenge, however, and began putting out tweets. Like the one during a scene when a manic wife is making sandwiches on the floor, from her humoring husband, "Do all wives end up sprawled on the floor making sandwiches for no one?"

Calling @BettyDraper.

(Thanks to @_EthelMerman for scoop from the dressing room)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

even the post office is going all mad men

Mad Men returns to the screen tomorrow night and you can't go anywhere in New York without being cleverly reminded of this. But how did gonzo AMC marketers get the US Post Office to synchronize its launch of Mad Men era stamps? Now you can send off that bill in the company of Ed Sullivan, Alfred Hitchcock, the Lone Ranger, Perry Mason or other stars from a golden age when social media meant watching Bonanza with your siblings and popcorn. Art director Carl Herrman of North Las Vegas, NV, designed the stamps and worked with twenty2product, a San Francisco-based studio, to give them a suitably retro look.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

where does digital culture come from?

From teleytpe machines, rotary phones and computers the size of your living room. Anything goes. Excavated from the treasure troves of Faris Yakob, Chief Tech Strategist geek at McCann NY.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

day at the beach: u-haul needed

Remember when going to the beach meant bringing a towel and maybe a sunhat? Writing this while reunioning with family members, parked on a beach, surrounded by chairs big as barcaloungers, delivery wagons, baby's play yards and sun domes the size of a circus tent. Hey, here comes a couple wearing backpacks so big, they might be training for a mount of Everest. Ta, off to ride waves on a float the size of Tortola...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

the drama behind dancing cereal boxes

Follow-up to a post on vintage cereal box illustrations:

An animator for Cap'n Crunch cereal commercials honed her skills at an unlikely institution: Auschwitz. Dina Babbitt (nee Gottlieb) was a teenaged art student who was incarcerated there, and a fellow inmate asked her to decorate the cheerless walls of the children's barracks. She complied, pilfering paint to enliven walls with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other whimsical creatures. Which brought her to the attention of Josef Mengele. He guaranteed her life if she'd work for him to document his experiments. She agreed⎯if he'd agree to save her mother, too. She spent the rest of the war doing portraits for the Angel of Death who felt that the genetic inferiority of his prisoners wasn't captured well enough by photography.

After the war, she and her mother moved to Paris where she was interviewed for a job as an animator for Warner Bros. Coincidentally, her interviewer had worked on Disney's "Snow White". Soon, they were married and moved to LA where she became an animator working on films, cartoons and commercials. Her favorite project, she said, was Cap'n Crunch cereal because she loved drawing kids.

Babbitt passed away last week  at age 86. Sadly, she spent her last decades trying to retrieve her paintings from the Auschwitz Museum. Museum directors claim that the paintings' historical and educational value supersede the her rights of ownership. In answer to pleas bolstered by a Facebook fan page (!)-- they sent her reproductions; the originals remain on display.