In two minutes


short bursts on things I thunk.

“Marry The Crowd”



Or “epouser la foule” as Charles Baudelaire said.

A useful reminder that as a Planner you must take the good with the bad when speaking for the crowd.

As reflected on by Andrew Sullivan and Will Glovinsky following the Boston bombings and the search for suspects.

My thoughts can be found here from 42:43.


Filed under: Culture, Journalism, Media, Teh Internetz

Joe Masseria on Account Planning

Having some spare time this week I’ve been able to think a little more on what we do for brands beyond the mainstays of agency output.

Whether or not we can truly say we contribute value or impact on culture in a meaningful way.

As an industry we can be fabulously vain about our role in culture.

We talk “ecosystems of value”, “fan engagement” and we “put people first”.

We ‘Write The Future’, tell consumers to ‘Think Different’ and now ask daily ‘how does product x complete your life?’

But while the brands we work with mostly occupy a very temporary place in the cultural landscape (hey, we had to pay for it mostly right?) the people who care deeply about culture, about music or food or streetwear live it 24/7.

For many people it is their life.

There’s a pretty telling POV on this subject in this short piece on music and ‘banded content’. Watch from 8:49 if you don’t have the full ten minutes.

A friend of mine recently said she had watched 119 TV series last year. 119!

That’s dedication and fandom.

She’s most definitely built her universe and it’s a wonderful place so far as I can tell.

As an example of how far people will go to curate their passion and define their own world take a quick look at this meticulous post on The Cure by Chris Ott (the man behind the video series above).

I was lost in it for about three hours.

It was not just a love letter to the band over several pages but videos, photos, crafted playlists, links to other reference points that mattered, critical points of view etc etc.

It was fascination street.

What this tells me is that any brand looking to have a meaningful exchange with a specific culture or community has a lot of homework to do and can’t afford to be anything but committed. That’s the price of entry.

You may have watched Boardwalk Empire as I have.

I think Joe Masseria might have been a great Account Planner. He understands the importance of respect.

[check the classic Account Man at 0:11]

Joe understood that the locals set the running.

That you can’t drive in from out of town with some muscle and be accepted.

Looking back a couple of years to Cannes 2011 there were two presentations that are (arguably) opposite sides of the same coin.

Both recognised at the time that brands had left the building and were co-owned by the people that buy or speak of them.

Coca-Cola famously put it’s long-term strategy on the line with it’s Content 2020 presentation.

It speaks of “[spreadable] .. dynamic story-telling’ – how they need to move to “Ideas so compelling they take on a life force of their own”.


Heady stuff.

Two years on I’m not sure how close Coke are to realising this vision.

Leo Burnett however, in a much more dour display of thinking, made this point:

People that choose to be part of a culture or community create much more, and with much more care, than those that are paid to be there.

To me that suggests an excellent understanding of the relationship between people, brand and content creation.

It’s something we can all bear in mind when asked for a creative response on a tight budget in line with the grand ambitions of the brand.

Are we all really committed to the people we are trying to reach?

Do we all really know what time it is?

Filed under: Advertising, Branded Content, Culture, Planning

Best Friends for Rachel Antonoff clothing

For all the brouhaha about ‘content marketing’ you rarely see it done well.

Here it is – done well.

Filed under: Branded Content, Culture

Are Social Networks Neglecting Young Users?

snapchat guy

Forever Alone Snapchat Guy

It’s becoming clear that established social networks are losing traffic for real-time one-to-one communication, especially in younger demographics.

Services like WhatsApp, Kik and Snapchat have recognised that instant communication has been neglected and are building large user bases rapidly to accomodate.

While young people (<20) do still use Facebook in huge numbers they actually spend more time on Tumblr and could well prefer Instagram and SnapChat for sharing photos.

In fact Snapchat now carries almost a third of the daily photo volume of Facebook.

social network usage Jan, 2013

Social Network Usage, Jan 2013 (Via:

I’d suggest there’s a few reasons for this shift.

Yes, Facebook has matured rapidly and in the process has lost a bit of cachet with young users. It’s worth reading Branch founder Josh Miller’s recent interview with his 15 y.o. sister if you have doubts about this.

Anywhere Mum can reach out to you and call you home for dinner has gotta start to suck pretty hard.

Besides teens just wanna be with each other as much as possible – that’s pretty obvious.

Twitter and Facebook are also incredibly noisy. There’s a huge signal to noise difference if you have a large network on either. Aside from work I’ve spent as little time on Facebook as possible this year.

Sure I could segment friends, family and colleagues into groups and take a Diaspora approach to it but I just can’t be bothered.

Which leads to my point. Many social networks are actually inefficient for how young people want to communicate.

Screenshot from WhatsApp

What’s App Gemma?

Studies have found that we allocate around 20% of our waking day to social interaction. That is our social ‘budget’.

It follows that the more people we wish to maintain relationships with the better we must be at using that budget of time.

In fact – perhaps unsurprisingly – the emotional intensity of a relationship can be defined by the frequency of communication between two people. In this scenario the time to last contact  reflects the time and effort invested in that relationship.

So frequent one-to-one communication becomes vital for those close relationships.

Broadly speaking young people and old(er – haha) people view interpersonal communication differently.

Young people view time as expansive and energetically pursue knowledge-related goals within their network. This includes in depth conversations one-to-one that allow for learning, expression and personal growth.

Communication helps to define who they are.

Older people view time as limited and pursue emotion-related goals with reoccurring (and reassuring) themes among familiar groups of people.

Often it’s enough to know who’s been on holidays, who had their first child and what gig that guy you went to Uni with went to this week. All’s well with the world.

That is where broadcast social media services like Facebook or Twitter excel for older users but perform poorly for younger users.

They are efficient for reaching a large audience within our network but not for conveying complex and detailed information.

To have richer exchanges we have to reduce reach and increase frequency of communication within the network.

It may be that over the next few years we increasingly use social networks to maintain our maxi-network, to follow news and key life announcements but skip out and use other service to maintain our close relationships with the 5-15 people we have stronger emotional ties to.

Younger users already appear to do this and probably use Facebook in very different ways (event invites, messaging etc).

I suspect they have shorter session times also.

A move away by young users would be a big blow to the large social networks. They rely heavily on traffic for relevance to advertisers and investors. They need all of our time online.

But really, I have little interest in how larger social networks might address this behaviour, rather I like the idea that we invest less of our time in one or two platforms and spread it across multiple services that perform the best at one function.

This encourages innovation, flexibility and allows for the complexity of interpersonal relationships.

Filed under: Culture, Social Media, Teh Internetz

Guy solves three Rubik’s Cubes while juggling them.

Filed under: Culture


<p><a href=”″>seagulls</a&gt; from <a href=””>Mato Atom</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Filed under: Culture

Super Mario Sex Pistols

(via neatorama)

Filed under: Culture

Keep Walking…

Beyonce at the Superbowl. Hot dawg…

It’s a big day for advertising.

As halftime in Superbowl XLVII draws in it feels right to use a famous tagline to express my current thoughts on how brands play online here in Australia.

Beyonce is coming up at halftime so I have to keep this quick! Five thoughts in five paras…

1. Display advertising is stopping you from getting where you need to go.

You can’t create a meaningful brand experience in a banner. It’s that simple. Banner ads are the mall spruiker of teh internetz. I understand it’s a safe bet for conservative brands but when you look at the CPC for most of the display networks in Australia it makes your mouth go dry. Expensive wallpaper IMO. Stick with video, search and social display but think hard about the rest.

2. Content Marketing is for the best brands only.

I loved – LOVED – spots like Uncle Drew for Pepsi or the Space Jump for Red Bull last year. But when you look at the content that gets spread online you really need to be a brand that people want to hear from or one that can afford great creative and distribution. Even simple content pieces like the Dollar Shave Club or Maru’s hard work with Uniqlo required poise and bravery. If you don’t have something special, and a large online community to seed it with, you are best sticking with the basics.

3. Social Media can provide a false sense of security.

There seems to be a lot of Aussie brands investing in social media as part of their acquisition activity. Chasing likes and followers through competitions and crazy deals it’s easy to equate community growth with success but  it’s been my experience social media works much better deeper into the customer journey – to enthuse and retain existing customers – than it does for customer acquisition. Brands who are established e-commerce players are the exception to this where the connection between investment in social media and sales is easier to make.

4. There is no substitute for knowing your customer.

It surprises me to hear how often digital work is done locally without any thought to what people really want from the brand. Creative or media driven activity really requires careful thought to provide value to those customers that interact with you online. Having said this, there are some local examples of work starting with analytics and data analysis that push up into above the line ideas that are brave.

5. Branding was great for the 20th century, but it’s holding us back now.

I’ve spoken to a lot of planners and brands about this. The channels open to us as marketers are now so diverse and complex that the reductionist approach taken in branding is causing a disconnect with the market. Your customer is often a sophisticated consumer of media and traverses the online space skilfully. If you are to keep pace with them it is less important that you are differentiated and more important you are distinctive. If your brand has stagnated you should be making an effort to get closer to your customers and finding out what interests them in 2013, where they really are online and what motivates them to buy with you. Martin Weigel at W+K has written great pieces on the importance of being interesting.

As Beyonce belts it out at halftime (still got it!) in 2013 I suggest you be nimble, review your methods, insights and assumptions regularly and keep walking – there is always something new to learn and test just up ahead.

Filed under: Advertising, Branded Content, Culture, Media, Planning, Social Media

Retailing and the death of mainstream culture


Doing some window shopping today it occurred to me that retail is struggling because it sells the artifacts of a culture that is in it’s death throes.

It used to be that the only way you could be involved in popular culture and wear it on your sleeve was to buy it in a store.

Now we just make it ourselves. WE make the culture and we make it online. Popular culture no longer drives consumption.

There is almost nothing new to be found in store that holds up a mirror to a traditional media culture in it’s last days.

Everything that is new is to be found through a screen or device that takes you to the most vibrant, enlightened and diverse macro-climate with millions of microclimates.

What you find, create and pass on is only limited by your imagination.

The sooner old business realises that not only has the internet brought fundamental shifts in how they do business but in what they do business the sooner they can find a role in the new culture and economy. But there might not even be a role for many of them anymore.

Filed under: Culture

Rape me, my friend: Do we really love the ones that titillate?


















I’ve been reading Mark Yarm’s excellent book Everybody Loves Our Town (A History of Grunge). If you have a passing interest in the music from that time you should grab a copy.

I’m heading into the tailspin Nirvana took in ’93 and ’94. It’s quite sad. A band that could capture everything a generation felt in a riff and a verse but could not deal with each other or the world outside their tour bus.

One thing about the Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance in November ’93 has always bothered be.

The more Kurt bared his tired and tortured soul, the louder the audience cheered.

By the final song, a Leadbelly cover on betrayal and murder the audience of MTV executives and their children are in raptures.

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I’m going where the cold wind blows.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through

Her husband, was a hard working man,
Just about a mile from here.
His head was found in a driving wheel,
But his body never was found.

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I’m going where the cold wind blows.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I’m going where the cold wind blows.

In the pines, …the pines,
……… sun,
I shiver the whole, night through!

Why did they cheer?

Did they also feel Leadbelly’s anger like Kurt?

Did they go home to the needle and a bottle of Jack? (Woah kids, easy.)

I always thought a more appropriate reaction would have been polite applause (i.e. respect). Even silence.

Not the “we just seen somethin” college whoops of an organisation that screwed Nirvana as much as the next place.

(In a prior performance not long after a Kurbain OD they insisted Nirvana play a set list of MTV’s choosing. They shouldn’t have even been playing).

To many people’s minds, the artist is there to hold a mirror to ourselves, to show us what we truly feel.

And of course that’s what got the MTV audience excited.

Kurt put into words and music what they could only feel.

Anger and sadness, betrayal and humiliation, hypocrisy and exploitation.

But do you think they would have had a beer with him? Would they have held his hair back as he vomited backstage?

Probably not. Too hard.

They were there to be entertained (most of them), not too understand or to think on the performance.

I was at ACMI last weekend to see Writer’s Bench.
















Melbourne became saturated with graffiti after the influence of New York subway art reached us in the early 80s.

Middle class Melbourne reacted with fear and a heavy hand but now street art and graffiti is feted and protected (half-heartedly) by the city.

Hosier Lane is now a tourist drawcard and one stop on an itinerary that might include The Zoo and The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island.

But I can’t imagine many tourists, or Melburnians for that matter taking the time to understand why people bomb trains or walls late at night or even talking to people brave enough to share their art and perspective without regard to convention.

For me, as an observer only, I sense that artists, and those who create culture on the fringe, are often looking for understanding and acceptance of a diversity of views. Perhaps they want to be recognised as tellers of important truths but not leered at or watched on like a curiosity or rebel.

Filed under: Culture, , , ,

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