Monday, September 21, 2009

first rule of marketing: know thy consumer

You'd think that China's BFF economic relations with Iran might entice Chinese marketers to better inform themselves about target audience.

The Guardian reports that a Chinese clothing manufacturer exported jeans to Tehran bearing the Islamic expression "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. The phrase (Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim in Arabic) was prominently displayed on back pockets, which is seen as egregiously disrespectful by devout Muslims. According to an outraged Tehran blogger:
Allah is a respected word that you need to have ablutions before saying. Now it is embroidered on the sitting place of these jeans.

Police seized the garments and arrested three businessmen said to have imported them. The jeans, tailored for women, had sold for around $10-$12. Oops.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

awards show recognizes campaign created by fans

Tonight, the first awards show for social media, the SAMMY awards, were hosted by Digiday at the W Hotel in New York. (Did you know there are five W Hotels in NY? I didn't. So naturally ended up at the wrong one.) Mad Men on Twitter was chosen as finalist for Best Twitter Branding Campaign and although we didn't take home the prize (congrats to Travelzoo) we are grateful to the judging panel (which included reps from Ogilvy and Razorfish) for their recognition. It's something of a milestone in marketing history. The first time an awards show has acknowledged the power of a campaign created completely by fans.

Friday, September 11, 2009

hijacked on 9/11: childhood

Peggy Noonan has an interesting piece in the WSJ today on how 9/11 has affected the lives of children.
A young man who was 14 the day of the attacks told me recently that there's an unspoken taboo among the young people of New York: They don't talk about it, ever. They don't want to say, "Oh boo hoo, it was awful." They don't want to dwell. They shrug it off when it comes up. They change the subject.
I've found this to be true among my daughter and her friends who that day were freshmen at Stuyvesant, in the shadow of the Towers. They never talk about it. Though no doubt it has affected them profoundly.

It was their third day of high school. That morning, my daughter emerged from the subway (only the second time I'd let her ride it alone) to see people jumping from flames in the tower. She had headphones on, though I'd warned her about wearing them in transit. She later told me she was glad she did because they drowned out the screams of people standing with her on the sidewalk. She watched for a few minutes. Then walked on to school. She didn't want to be late. Halfway through the first class, an announcement was made instructing teachers on the East facing windows to pull the blinds. An hour later, the school was closed. The city needed a triage center to treat the wounded. (Wounded were still expected at that point.) The kids were released to the streets, told to "Walk north. Don't look back." The subways weren't going. Buses lumbering uptown were so crowded they weren't stopping. I'd been worried about her riding the subway alone. It hadn't occurred to me to teach her to navigate the 130 blocks without transportation. When she finally got home (by then I was frantic) she told me what she had seen and asked, "There were trampolines underneath to catch them, weren't there?" I was tempted to say yes. But I knew the news would make me a liar. When I said no, she looked away. I could almost hear the breaking glass of her childhood.

She and her friends never talk about that day, though it was long a topic of constant obsessive conversation among us parents. We worried about how seeing national landmarks felled affected our kids, both psychologically (is it good they never talk about it? or bad?) and physically (what about air quality? is the school still filled with flying asbestos?) The school was closed for three weeks for cleaning while our kids were switched to a school in Brooklyn. When the school was reopened, many of us sent our kids with potassium iodide pills that are said to help survive a nuclear attack. There was much talk in those days about "the other shoe dropping".

One of the few times my daughter has referred to 9/11 was when we were driving around to see colleges. She was in the passenger seat and reached out to change a song playing on the CD. "I can't listen to that," she said. "It's what was playing that day on my headphones." She skipped the track ahead. Then turned up music so loud it made talking impossible.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

a few things to know before your trip to Australia

Why don't travel agents tell you this stuff? Coins are actually worth something here. And that worth is inversely proportional to size. The silver dollar-size coin is 50 cents. The coin that looks like a quarter is a dollar. And the one that looks like a penny? Two bucks. So don't go leaving it on a counter like I did.

For some reason, Aussie guide books are elusive on electricity, stating only the wattage and "angled pins." What they should say is that electrical sockets are like a cartoon of a sad eyed person yawning. Two slants and a vertical. Converters may be hard to find in the States, but fairly easy to get here. One tricky thing about plugging things in, however, is you have to actually turn on the socket. Each has a little switch at the top. Now you know. So you don't have to wonder as I did one morning how come all of your plugged-in-overnite electronics are dead.

Go grocery shopping. It's fun to see familiar products with slightly bastardized names. Why bother changing the names, I wonder? Product border patrols?

Such a simple idea, you wonder why we haven't instituted it in the States. Two options for flushing: half flush and whole. Saves oceans of water. But can be confusing the first time you go to the loo.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

australia debuts postmillennial Mad Men

Bill Green of Make the Logo Bigger fame has been talking up a new TV series about to launch in Australia: 30 seconds, an Aussie version of post-millennial ad agency life. It's created by actual ECD's at an ad agency, which sounded promising, until I remembered that Trust Me had the same credentials. I landed in Sydney just in time for the premiere, according to this poster I saw in a subway tunnel, and was all set to watch until discovering that the hotel I was staying in didn't get Foxtel. So, like you, I could sample only a few clips posted by media blogger
Mumbrella. Which were biting and spot on and made me long for more. I only hope FOX in the States will import it as is, without mucking it up by trying to Americanize it. Here's from Mumbrella's thumbs up:

Naturally there’s a bit of exposition in the first episode for non industry folk. But the backdrop is real enough – the underperforming Sydney outpost of global network BND Worldwide; the client who wants to keep an annoying brand icon; the client who wants to get rid of a much loved (and agency created) brand icon; the dead brand icon; the psychopathic new CEO; the awkward client-creative relationship...But, more to the point, there’s a proper storyline, laughs, and decent characters. Enough, I think, to be of wider appeal beyond the industry audience.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

my favorite t-shirt sighting in australia. or anywhere

Since uploading this pic to Facebook, I've received numerous requests for the shirt. Unfortunately, I've never seen it for sale.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

no falsetto notes at first twitter opera

The world's first Twitter Opera, "Twitterdammerung", premiered at London's Royal Opera House hours ago. The libretto was "written" by 900 tweeters who sent posts to @youropera. The 140 character lyrics were set to original music and mixed with familiar opera tunes. The opera can be read in full here.

As with all things twitter, it was produced under enormous time pressure. The production was allotted just three days for rehearsal and not much more for composition. Still, what unfolded on stage proved enough to impress even curmudgeonly opera critic Igor Toronyi-Lalic who gave it a grudging thumbs up:
What unfolded before me was actually not bad at all. The format lent itself to gags and...the gags were some of the best I'd ever heard on the opera floor, proving that it's not the art form that's unfunny, merely the minds of our ageing composers and librettists.

What does this mean for the future of entertainment? That Hollywood and Broadway will come to rely on productions that spring from creative crowdsourcing? Somehow I doubt it. As probably does anyone who's taken part in creative gangbangs. But I add my applause to that of the Royal Opera House audience. While the production may not have rivalled Candida, it ingeniously accomplished the Opera House's presumed goal of getting more people interested and involved in opera. "It's the perfect way for everyone to become involved with the inventiveness of opera as the ultimate form of storytelling," said Alison Duthie, head of ROH2 who was no doubt gratified to observe that the audience last night skewed decades younger than is typical for opera.

Random note: Coincidentally, I received news of this while touring Sydney's Opera House in Australia, site of other operatic twitter excitement. Remember? The tweeter for @RealHughJackman was outed as fake by a post that mistakenly referred to the Sydney Opera Center. Caused quite a tempest in the teapot called twitter.

Heard about this on twitter, of course. Thanks to @Single_Shot for the tip.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

how to get a book deal in 27 days

Sounds like advice from your spam filter, doesn't it?

Be a writer! Move back home with your folks! Write down stuff your dad says! Post it on twitter! Soon book agents will be hounding you and you'll be inundated with offers from publishers!

Yet, it's proved to be the real deal for Justin Halpern who publishes Shit My Dad Says, a "column" on twitter that has been exploded in popularity since his first post on August 3. Why? The content is great dialogue. It's like Justin is repackaging Archie Bunker (remember him?) updated and delivered to a post-millennial audience.

Here's the concept: I'm 28. I live with my 73-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says. Like:
I didn't live to be 73 years old so I could eat kale. Don't fix me your breakfast and pretend you're fixing mine.

When I used to live in Los Angeles, I used to step in human feces a lot.

My flight lands at 9:30 on Sunday...You want to watch what? What the fuck is mad men? I'm a mad man if you don't pick me the hell up.

On twitter, a quick indication of the quality of your content is a glance at your follow/following ratio. You hope the number of people who follow you is greater than the number of people you follow. Over 225,000 people follow Justin. Justin follows only 1 person. (@LevarBurton) (?) Impressive metric that says yes, quality of creative content still matters.

Now the LA Times reports he's got a book agent and several publishing offers. But it's a family newspaper. In their report, the site is, um, Stuff My Dad Says.

Congratulations to Justin and, of course, to his dad. Who doesn't read the site. He's not on the internet. He does have a cell phone, however. But no voicemail.
Why would i want to check a voicemail on my cell phone? People want to talk to me, call again. If i want to talk to you, I'll answer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

tweeting from the pulpit

Turns out Broadway's Next to Normal isn't the only play that's been turned into twittertainment. Wall Street's historic Trinity Church broke digital ground using Twitter to perform the Passion Play. From 12 to 3 on Good Friday, a church worker posted tweets from @twspassionplay, telling the story via retweets from congregationers who had adopted names such as @_Peter_of_, @Pontius_Pilate, @Mary_Mother_Of and @_JesusChrist.
@ServingGirl is so tired. Caiaphas and the priests have been up all night questioning a man who claims to be the Messiah. And I wait on them.

@_Jesus Christ It is as the prophets have written: I tell my tale of misery while they look on and gloat.

@romanguard1 I've got dibs on his robe, but if you guys want to cast lots for the rest of his clothes I'm cool with that.
See the entire performance here. Before twittertainment began, the Passion Play had less than 100 followers. When it ended three hours later, it had over 1700. Brand evangelists.

Found this news in an epistle by Diane Mapes.