Thursday, November 15, 2012

writing a book vs. writing a Facebook

I'm mystified as to why so many authors, presumably good at writing, leave it up to others to come up with their social media profiles. Here's how David Sedaris, one of the most gifted, funniest writers on the planet, greets visitors to his Facebook page:
This page is updated by David's management and publisher to keep fans informed about new events, articles, and to allow fans to share feedback and connect with other David Sedaris readers. David knows and hears about this page but does not create posts.
I know better, I think, merrily setting up my first-ever Facebook author page, hoping it's warm and inviting and a fun place to hang out. But do I really know best? Sedaris has 575,000 "Likes" to my measly 20. Hoping you'll help narrow the gap after the jump.

Monday, November 12, 2012

tracking my book sales before there's a book

My (soon to be published) novel doesn't have a cover or even final contents yet, but I'm thrilled to see that it already has a listing on Amazon. You can't buy it yet, but you can pre-order. At least a few kind readers (and my mother) must have one-clicked already because my sales rank went from #172,987 yesterday to #151,748 today. (The smaller the number, the better the sales.) I know the ranking is meaningless, but I find the uptick (or downtick) irrationally gratifying. All those years scoffing at data geeks in meetings--now I'm the sucker for numbers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

think stocking stuffer

I know, I know. I'm dismayed, too, by the Christmas Creep. Some NY sidewalks (I'm looking at you, 125th) are already festooned with giant snowflakes. But one thing it does is remind you to stock up on little gifts. Funny, isn't it? Christmas comes on the same, foreseeable date every year, yet who isn't scrambling for prezzies in the last days before? Dominik Imseng, a Swiss journalist and copywriter, saves procrastinating gifters from being caught short this year. For the Mad Men and Women in your life, here comes Think Small, the story of the world's greatest ad. It's a delightful immersion in the ad world of the 1960s via the story of one of the most iconic campaigns of the era. $23.99 on Amazon, only 5 left at this writing. Secret Santas start your engines here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

in which writing a novel becomes publishing one

Just pressed the send button on final manuscript for novel accepted by Simon and Schuster. Off it goes to the publishing gnomes who will read, rearrange, come up with covers, blurbs (hopefully) and (if I'm lucky) a marketing campaign. It's a story set in Adland (where else), Mad Men thirty years later, when a copywriter in her 40s tries to stay relevant as walls literally fall down around her. A coming-of-middle-age tale of a woman and a business. How surprised (thrilled, actually) I am to see that, though it's barely left my computer, it's already got a pub date (March 19) and a listing on Amazon! Title is "Making It: A Millennial Tale of Madison Avenue." Unless you can think of something better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

steve frankfurt brought creativity to new medium: TV

RIP Steve Frankfurt, a real-life Mad Man who helped transform television advertising from the talking-head medium it was in the 1950s when radio scripts were simply read to camera to the creative playground it became in the 1960s. He joined Young & Rubicam's television department in 1957, straight out of college when most of advertising's revenues came from print and no one quite knew what to do with TV. Because of this, "kids" like Frankfurt were given a lot of freedom.

"Television was a toy then," Frankfurt said in 1983 when he was inducted into the Art Directors Hall of Fame. He became a leader in making use of all aspects of the medium: he used the of a beating heart for Excederin ads and a strobe-lightlike effect for Band-Aids. He broke another boundary when he became president of Y&R at age 36--top ad agency execs in those days were usually plucked from the ranks of account executives or copywriters.

A New York Times article announcing his promotion in 1968 noted he kept his office on the creative floor, not the "sixth, top management's bailiwick." He spread his talent to Hollywood where he was hired by producers to create title sequences for films including Rosemary's Baby and To Kill a Mockingbird. In 1965, the BBC profiled him in a documentary series called Insights into the Lives of Individual Americans. He was billed as "The Quiet Persuader."

Here's the footage, kindly posted on youtube by Steve Emmerling, a former Y&R copywriter. It's a wealth of 60s styling details like closets hidden behind wallpaper, wrought ironed balconies, pipe-smoking in offices and men sitting around conference room tables as secretary discreetly serves each freshly brewed coffee in cup and saucer and Don Draper-esque men in three piece suits say things like "We need something pictorially to symbolize fresh!"


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

how to get a book deal

1. Write something that isn't advertising.
2. Trash it.
3. Repeat.
4. Daily. For years.
5. Assemble 65,000 words you don't hate.
6. Spell check.
7. Spell check.
8. Describe #5 in a sentence. The most important product copy you'll ever write.
9. Embed #8 in a letter to a few excellent agents.
10. Spell check.
11. Repeat #9 and #10 until someone is kind enough to request #5.
12. Wait.
12. Wait.
12. Wait.
13. Realize that timelines in Publishing are way different than in Advertising.
14. Discover the five stages of rejection.
15. Repeat #14.
16. Until, one day, to your astonishment, an agent falls in love with your work.
17. Which makes you fall in love with the agent.
18. Happily, she'll take it from here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

how to sell a movie before it's made

Had the pleasure of speaking about social storytelling last night at Storycode, premiere meet up group for transmedia, at Lincoln Center where @BettyDraper shared the stage with creators of fascinating twitter campaign for forthcoming film Saving Lincoln. Two of the creators were still in LA but that didn't detract from their ability to answer questions via Skype. (Isn't technology bliss? When it works.) The film isn't coming out until later this Fall, but twitter campaign for it was aptly launched last year. The film portrays Abe's life through the eyes of his (real life) best friend who tweets @SavingLincoln in the voice of an 1860s soldier. What interested me is how they're using the twitter feed to flesh out stories that couldn't be included in the film. Tweets are ostensibly from his private diaries and are archived in an onsite "anthology" of stories that makes for pretty engrossing reading.

What also interested me was the mechanics of twitter campaign production. The twitter writer (yes! there's a twitter writer!) actually storyboards tweets in a serial comic strip format which can be sent to producer for review and edits. Finals are pre-posted onto Hootsuite, about 4-8 tweets a day, each day forming a story "beat." Story tweets are posted together, to keep the stream "clean", response tweets are posted later. No sell is put into tweets--the movie itself is rarely mentioned. The sell is offloaded to the Facebook page. All this might sound easy and no-brainerish, but that's because they (with no template) have figured it out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

@bettydraper hooks up with Abe Lincoln tonite

In a remarkable mash-up of 60s eras, @BettyDraper (1960s) will be joining @SavingLincoln (1860s) to talk about bringing characters to twitter. Tonite, 7 PM, Lincoln Center Amphitheater, 144 West 65th St. Hosted by Storycode, that awesome community of immersive storytellers. Disclosure: January Jones will NOT make an appearance. And neither will Abe.

i'm baaaaaaaack

To those who've noticed: apologies for the hiatus. I switched to anti-social writing for awhile, aka: finally finishing a long-ago-started novel. And starting another. Great news this week, which I'll share in a later post after contracts are signed and advances distributed. I'm a staunch believer in waiting til Fat Ladies Sing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

notes from my sxsw session

Thanks to Craig Carter for live blogging my SXSW session last week. If you missed it and want to catch up on how brands can use social storytelling to enhance the fan experience, his excellent notes can be found here. Or listen to the SXSWpodcast here

Sunday, March 18, 2012

more postcards from sxsw

screen grab from Amber Case keynote

even street bands have QR codes

Mad Mannish sxsw12 fashion trend--mini fedoras

Sunday, March 11, 2012

transmedia recipes for bigger brand muffins

If you're at SXSW and interested in transmedia for marketing, hope you'll make it to @BettyDraper's Guide to Social Storytelling. I'll talk about how transmedia is transforming the marketing landscape and show examples of brands using it to their advantage.  Monday, 9:30 AM in the Longhorn room at the Omni. Full disclosure. January Jones won't be able make it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

postcard from Austin

When the first SXSW took place in 1987, 150 attendees were expected, but more than 700 showed up. It feels like the same jump this year, only the shark is much bigger. Last year, 18,000 attended South by Southwest Interactive ("South by", to badge holders) and this year estimates are closer to 20,000. There are lines for everything--sometimes even lines to stand in line. (Except for women's restrooms, which is a nice change of pace.) Badge pickup for arrivals was, at one point, two hours. There are over 5000 sessions and panels to choose from, but rooms get closed out. Especially sessions about branding and marketing.

Running late to a session, I stopped by an Info Booth. "Where's Ballroom D?" I asked a friendly looking guy. He pointed to a map. I can't read maps. But I knew enough to know he had made a mistake. The box he was pointing to wasn't marked D. It was called The Ogilvy Day Stage. "They changed the name," he said. Which gives you an idea of the ad agency presence here. What used to be known as Spring Fest for Geeks is now Cannes-west for Advertisers. Some gripe about this. But there are advantages. Like that Ogilvy does cool wall-size visual notes of some sessions and makes them available each day at its Day Stage (next to the elusive Ballroom D.) You can see them in the virtual world, here.

Crowded or not, SXSW is a blast. Whatever you're interested in, someone more interesting than you will talk about it onstage or at a party. So far, I've attended sessions on social TV, transmedia, publishing, cool hunting and how women present themselves online. (Natch, missed The Crash Course in Becoming Superbetter.) I don't begrudge the attendance, nor the monsoon-hard rains. Austin needs them both. According to Wikipedia, SXSW is the highest revenue-producing event for the city's economy, bringing in $167 million last year. Excuse me while I make a civic-duty run to Allens.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

new sxsw camper? here's what to pack

1. Comfortable shoes. Forget the stilettos. The conference is now broken out into themed campuses. Your sessions can be up to a mile apart. Parties always seem to be located at the top of a hill.

2. Want to be friended by people around you? Bring a power strip. Every session fills fastest near wall outlets and people are incredibly grateful for shareable connections.

3. Extra batteries for whatever needs batteries.

4. Water bottle. Alcohol is everywhere, water not so much.

5. Dollar bills. For parking. Instead of housing your rental in a mindblowingly expensive conference hotel lot (which are filled to capacity by 10 AM), you can leave it in open lots all day for $7 if you've got enough dollars to poke through the slots of these low-tech machines.

6. A thumb drive. Or two.

7. Business cards with white space to write on. So people can make note of where they met you. Trust me. They'll never remember.

8. Patience, good will and a sense of humor. There's expected to be 20,000 campers besides you. Real world social skills make the experience better for everyone.

sxsw shopping

It’s two days before thousands descend upon Austin getting their geek on at SXSW Interactive which promises to be bigger and more overwhelming than ever before. I’m exhausted already just trawling this schedule of over 5000 list of panels, events and exhibits. Not to mention the party list.

Aside from my own session on Monday, here's a few I've got in my cart:

 Execs from Oxygen Media, Nielsen, MTV, ESPN and Adweek discuss how brands can reap benefits from engaged audiences across social platforms.

 Frank Rose, Wired editor and author of The Art of Immersion chats with Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment about the latest, greatest and not-so-great apps, ARGs and marketing campaigns.

 How are consumers in a country of 1.3 billion creating and combining platforms for the newest generation bred on instant gratification and constant connectivity.

Execs from Microsoft, Method and Hewlett-Packard join an Austrian-born composer to debate how brands can maintain a consistent voice without being repetitive in multiple media. 

Editors from The Huffington Post, founder of the Webby Awards and the author Susan Orlean get together to delve into the sometimes paralyzing performance anxiety technology produces. 

How can this not be delicious.

Whether you're a power pinner or not, it will be fascinating to hear from a founder why the heck this relative newcomer is gaining such traction.

@bettydraper's guide to social storytelling

If you're in Austin for the SXSW digitalpalooza, hope you'll join @BettyDraper and me for a fun session on Monday morning at the Omni Hotel. It's @BettyDraper's Guide to Social Storytelling where we'll take a look at current examples of social advertising, transmedia, brand fiction and branded content to determine what makes stories work for today's social audiences--and what makes them fail. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

falling man #fail

image swiped from AdFreak
You know I'm a Mad Man super fan. And an admirer of its marketing which is usually brilliant. But. Putting an image of a man falling to his death from a building in a city where many still have nightmares about watching this really happen? C'mon, AMC. You live here. You know better.

This 9/11 photo ran in early edition of NY Times, but was deemed tasteless and pulled.

Monday, February 20, 2012

mad men in space

Fifty years ago, we were in the throes of a frenzied Space Race with Cold War rival Soviet Union who, to our dismay, were the first to send cosmonauts around the earth. (Our guys were astronuats, theirs were cosmonauts.)

On February 20, 1962 John Glenn evened the score, becoming the first American to circle the globe. He did it three times, in under five hours, less time than it now takes us to go JFK→LAX.

The best part of the Universal Newsreel chronicle of the trip is retro animation and antiquated announcer-speak: The Colonel is strapped to a “contoured couch” before blastoff when “millions are moved to silent prayer.”

Of course, this scenario jogged my memory of my favorite spaceman scene, below. Countdown to March 25.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

social tvland

image swiped from LA Weekly
One of the most interesting offerings at the banquet that is Social Media Week was a panel hosted by Alan Wolk of KitDigital, intriguingly titled "My Social TV App Thinks I'm My Dad."

Social TV has become a buzzword lately, though "social" misleadingly refers to a phenomenon that's been been around for a while. Mike Monello of Campfire pointed out that TV viewing has always been social. You may watch your favorite shows at night blobbing alone on a sofa, but part of the experience is deconstructing them the next day with coworkers or classmates. The difference is, now you don't have to wait until the next day. You can rant or rave with friends about episodes as they air, via the real time magic of Facebook and Twitter.

Research shows that a critical mass of viewers are now online while they're watching TV. What impact is this having in TV Land? Thanks to the plethora of info disseminated knowingly or unknowingly by users of social networks, entertainment companies and advertisers are far more knowledgeable about viewing behaviors and preferences of audiences. Which means they're shifting dollars to more accurately target spending. One panelist, Dan Neely reported that his company advised a client *not* to buy a halftime ad in the SuperBowl this year, but to air a spot on Walking Dead. Why? Because his social data showed that a critical mass of men don't watch halftime, they switch over to watching the AMC show instead. (Whether or not this resulted in sales, it indisputably saved millions.)

Jim Spare suggested that the biggest opportunity for the industry is to provide a companion structure for the frenzy of consumer activity that's already happening around programming, referred to as "second screen experience." Once this happens, he predicted, commenting on a show via hashtags and posts will seem archaic. And as more viewers become trackable via social media, advertisers will migrate to where the eyeballs are and advertising will support and elevate this experience.

More panel goodness can be found here, in a surprisingly satisfying Livestream experience. Don't miss the excitement about halfway through when Wolk takes on Neely in a showdown fueled by the age-old rivalry between creative and research.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

adultery in advertising is new again

Mad Men has been creating a bit of a stir in New York with its ads, not only by creating controversy, but by introducing what appears to be a new form of advertising: adulterated print. Minimalist posters put up in the subway have invited "desecration" by...who? Passing artists? Or pseudo-Banksys commissioned by AMC? The added art seems just a bit too conceptual and artful to be random. But who cares? The posters are wiped clean every night (by overworked MTA officials? really?) and new art appears each day to give harried transit riders a bit of much needed entertainment. Which is, of course, the product that AMC is selling.

The Gothamist is featuring a "best of" collection of adulterated posters (including a beautifully executed save by Victor Cruz) and seeding viral engagement by inviting you to send your photoshopped effort to

Brilliant play by modern Mad Men. And women, no doubt. Aptly touted atop taxis on Madison Avenue.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

mad men ad controversy

If you're a Mad Men fan addict like I am, you already know Don and Betty are making a comeback on March 25th thanks to minimalist print promos that are a grab shot from the show's animated title sequence. In New York, this ad caused a bit of an stir due to its similarity to Richard Drew's haunting image of a man falling from a World Trade Tower on 9/11. Drew's "Falling Man" appeared in one edition of the New York Times, but was pulled after readers protested its publication. Now it's an ad? Tom Junod of Esquire does an interesting speculation on whether this is a desecration or simply how we continue to reckon with the day the world as we knew it came to an end.

via Adelaide Now

Thursday, January 12, 2012

new way to bring good things to life

Walter Isaccson’s (most enjoyable) book on Steve Jobs introduces his notion of a “reality distortion field” by which he created perceptions that didn’t jive with the way things are.

Aurasma takes the power of "reality distortion" to new levels with a phone app that animates inanimate objects, imbuing photos, books, even buildings with moving, interactive life. The app is free and works with iOS, Android and tablets. It’s made by Autonomy, an AR company that just announced that the download count broke three million.

Aurasma is the darling of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where darlings are hard to come by this year, according to David Pogue.

Cue CPG brand managers.

But, sheesh, couldn't the geniuses who created this think of anything better to do with a $20 bill?