Nate Burleson’s Pizza

Here’s a sweet example of a brand jumping on a news story in a timely, relevant way. As a football fan, I love this idea.  
Back in September, Minnesota Vikings receiver Nate Burleson got the munchies late one night. He ran out for a pizza, but in the process managed to crash his car and break his arm, disappointing his team, Vikings fans and fantasy football owners everywhere. 
It was later revealed that the wreck occurred when Burleson reached over to keep his pizza from sliding off the seat. He tweeted photos of his totaled, pizza-covered SUV this week. 
In response, DiGiorno, who positions their frozen pizzas against delivery/carryout, sent Burleson a year supply DiGiorno pizza. Very simple, very smart, and right in line with what the brand stands for. It’s also an example of the kinds of ideas we need to always be thinking of. Brands need to get into conversations, but they need to do it in ways that are relevant and add value. Great stuff. Though it doesn’t do jack for my fantasy team. 

Creator vs Curator

“Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” – Eric Schmidt

One of the fundamental shifts that has happened with the advent of digital media is that we now have access to way way way more content than we could ever process. Even if you could process it all, you’d find that 99.999% of it (rough estimate) is of poor quality and even less is of use.

Lately, I’ve been working on a project called, which allows photographers and illustrators to submit their work if they agree to cut back on the number or paper promos they send out. We created the site for a few reasons:
1) Those promos are a huge waste of trees and we thought we were in a position to help change that practice.
2) To help artists promote their work to ad folks.
3) To give ad folks a central place they could quickly and easily search for artists.

Working on the project has got me to thinking about the different role we have taken on. We concepted and created the site, but our primary role now is as curator. Because we need to keep the quality of content the site high if we’re going to be of value to art directors and designers, we have to decide what content to include (when I say we, I’m speaking mostly of our head curator, the very talented Lance Vining).

I don’t expect that our roles as creators will ever disappear, but I do expect that the role of the creative will continue to expand to include more things like curating, community management, conversation moderation, etc. It’s a different set of skills, probably more like being a creative director of a crowd-sourced creative department. The key will be to find those projects, or those conversations, and then get them rolling until they have their own momentum. Once they’re rolling, the job then shifts to keeping them on track. Creating, then curating.

I’m kind of thinking out loud a little here. What do you guys think?

Urgent Genius Weekender

Here’s an interesting upcoming contest that gives you a chance to test your ability to “go viral” and compete against some of the best agencies in the world.

From the website Urgent Genius:

According to Eric Schmidt, Former CEO of Google, we now generate as much information every two days as was generated from the beginning of time to 2003.

With this information overload, how will your content stand out? By being topical and shareable. How will your brand find its voice in the hot-topic conversations?

The Urgent Genius Weekender (18-20 Feb) is a competition designed to explore these questions. Teams from all around the world will have 48 hours to make content related to a trending topic that’s popular in their country or around the globe. Agencies involved so far: Droga 5, M&C Saatchi, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, R/GA, BBDO, DDB, BBC Comedy, etc. At the end of the 48 hours, you’ll have 7 days to share your infographic, film, website, YouTube mashup, game or photo-blog with the world. The team with the most likes/retweets/views wins. What’s in it for you? Global recognition. Plus, the best stuff will be featured in a talk given by iris Worldwide’s Grant Hunter and Jon Burkhart at South By Southwest Interactive in March. The most shared work will also be included in a book to be published in Autumn 2011. Other prizes we’re working on include commissions from top production companies in your home country.

Read more in this Contagious article.

Old Spice Does It Again and Again

Congrats to folks at W+K, who continue to push their Old Spice campaign into new territory (and to think, a few years back this was a brand that made you think of your great Uncle Buzzy).

And as if their commercials weren’t rad enough, now they hit us with personalized video responses from the Old Spice guy to Twitter comments. Damn, they’re good.

UPDATE: Here’s an interview with the team behind the project.

UPDATE AGAIN: And here’s the 2-day stats on the campaign.

AGAIN UPDATE AGAIN: Another interesting article about why this thing worked.

The Importance of Networking


When I was in school, I believed that I would get jobs through the simple purity of my ideas. The word “networking” was on a list in my mind with other words like “selling” and “schmoozing”–words that I’d heard were part of our business but that I had no interest in. It was all about the ideas.

Well, here’s a secret. I have never sat in an interview and shown anyone my portfolio. Not once. I got an internship through my school, I got a job through my internship, and I got a second job through connections I made at my first job. I hope you think no less of me.

The math is simple (actually, it’s probably complex, but the idea of it is simple). In advertising, the usual stint at an agency is probably 2-3 years. So take however many people you know from school, or the agency you interned at, and imagine them all bouncing from agency to agency every couple years, and all the people they come in contact with at those agencies. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of contacts.

I’m not that old, but when I left school there was no Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. We had email address books and phone numbers. It’s easy to keep in touch with people these days, or at least keep track of where they are and what they’re up to. If you’re not using at least one of these sites, you’re missing an opportunity that you may regret if you find yourself in the market for a new job. Because when we need to hire someone at my agency, the first thing we do isn’t look through the stack of portfolios in the corner. It’s not call a headhunter. It’s ask everyone in the creative department: “Hey, you know any talented people looking for a job?”

Here’s a good post on how to use social networks to find a job.

I got this link from a very talented writer I know, Tony. How do I know Tony? He is a former student of mine. We’ve stayed in touch via Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Rule #1: You Will Lose Control

One of the biggest challenges to getting clients to buy and run with social media ideas is that they’re afraid of giving up control of their brand. That’s just the nature of the media these days. Social=everyone has a voice=loss of control.

Even allowing people to post comments on the brand website makes some marketers queasy. “What if they post something bad?” “What if they say our customer service sucks?” The answer to these questions is “Awesome!” You need to know if people think your new lime-flavored beer tastes like crap. You need to know if your customer service is making people never want to deal with your company again. By allowing them to give you direct feedback, you’re circumventing the lengthier process and lost time of watching sales drop, doing surveys to figure out why, then trying to fix it. Conversations are a good thing.

Alex Wipperfurth, in Brand Hijack, talks about how marketers will need to learn to give up control of their brands. Giving a group of people you don’t know ownership of and the ability to shape your brand–I can see where that might be scary. But if those people love your brand, then you’re giving them something they’ll take good care of. You’re building a genuine relationship and a strong community.

But this can also go very wrong if it’s not well thought out. A few years ago, Chevy allowed users of its website to edit existing Chevy footage, add supers, and create their own commercial for the new Chevy Tahoe. Then those users could post it on Chevy’s site. A lot of users did this, making spots that extolled the Tahoe. But others, as you’d expect, wrote ads with lines like: “$70 to fill up the tank, which will last less than 400 miles. Chevy Tahoe.” To their credit, maybe, G.M. didn’t yank any of the critical ads.

In perhaps the latest social media idea gone wrong, Skittles encouraged people to twitter about their product. They then searched twitter for any mention of skittles and automatically posted those tweets to What happened? Again, pretty much what you’d expect. It was like allowing people to text messages, unfiltered, to the jumbotron at the ballpark.

Skittles could have avoided this by filtering out the negative messages. That was the approach Nike took when one customer tried to customize their Nike iD’s with the word “SWEATSHOP.” It’s a little hypocritical, encouraging freedom of expression as long as it doesn’t criticize the brand. But Nike, probably rightly so, decided that was better than having some guy walking around with a Nike-hater message on his kicks.

The big question here might seem to be how to let the lovers in and keep the haters out without seeming like a nightclub with a big douchey bouncer at the door. But I would argue it’s not about better filters. It’s about better brands. Brands that people love, that support their communities and genuinely listen to them, those brands will build such a fan base that the cheers will drown out the smart-asses. And those brands have nothing to be afraid of.