The Paradox of Disconnecting to Connect: The Promise of Experiential

Here’s a nice read about the promise of experiential marketing. The first paragraph hits it on the head.
Experiential has come a long way from the sample driven add-on it once represented, it has become a key player within brands marketing communications and this growth looks set to continue with Pearlfinders Gobal Index 2015 report indicating a 54 per cent increase in experiential activations in 2014 with further growth planned this year.

Part of this can be explained by the fact that our lives have become more and more linked to a screen, live experiences have been elevated to a higher importance with human contact and shared experiences which we then share on our many screens become engrained into everyday life, and this is never truer than with the millennials.

It is an interesting paradox: we want to be separated from our screens while wanting to create content to be seen other people’s screens. For every moment we check-out, we are accumulating memories to share later either through conversations or content, and, like always, we’d prefer to not have to do anything in-the-moment to take us out-of-the-moment – like using our phones or opening Instagram.

The opportunity for brands is to create a seamless content creation experience. It is easy to imagine an event where consumers are happy to be tracked if it means they aren’t going to have to worry about missing the perfect shot or video.

The Paradox of Disconnecting to Connect: The Promise of Experiential

9 Random Tips to Crafting an Inventive Culture

“For people to take risks they have to be willing to fail. Hackathons are failure incubators and failure accelerators. By normalizing failure, we encourage risk taking. Hackathons help teach your team that failure is a good thing, that it’s the flip side of innovation.” – Pedram Keyani, Hacking Company Culture

“There should be as many spaces as there are types of conversations going on at your office.” – Kelly Robinson, Get the Most Out of Your Space – Secrets from The Designer Behind Airbnb and SoundCloud


“No one culture is better than another but whilst companies may have characteristics that originate from multiple culture-types, they are likely to be routed in one. Other cultural elements may be encouraged as long as they serve the dominant culture.” – Neil Perkin (citing Michael Sahota), Agile is not a Process – It Defines a Culture

“This (a long project) isn’t the short burst of contact you get on a campaign. It’s a deep relationship that only gets more interesting and valuable over time, as the feedback you get starts to change your ideas about the project. Your projects start to become things that are owned jointly by you and your audience/users/customers, creating their own velocity and momentum.” – Matt Locke, What you know, what you do, and what you own.

“Agencies have their own operating systems, but they are different. Ours are invisible, instead of being attached to a user experience. And the further you get inside them, the more invisible they are … which makes them potentially lethal. The agency OS can be both the unseen engine of greatness and the silent killer of change.” – Sarah Watson, How the Agency of the Future Will Be Built Around People and Values

“You will build a body of work, but you will also build a body of affection, with the people you’ve helped who’ve helped you back…fall in love, with the work, with people you work with, with your dreams and their dreams.” – Robert Krulwich, How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love

“20. Create a portfolio of opportunities: short-term, long-term, incremental, and discontinuous. Just like an investment portfolio, balance is critical.

21. Involve as many people as you can in the development of your innovation initiative so you get upfront buy-in. This is the ‘go-slow now to go-fast later’ approach.

44. Realize that “resource allocation” is the last bastion of Soviet-style central planning. Think of new innovation opportunities as ‘resource attractors.”‘” – Idea Champions, 50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation

9 Random Tips to Crafting an Inventive Culture

How did email become so effective? Hint: control.

Here’s another study showing the value of email. This one breaks it down by the size of the company:


What’s nice about the article is it hits on a weird phenomenon:

“In fact, email is so much part of our everyday life now that we insist that marketers personalize the messages that hit our inbox; if they don’t, we consider that message as spam. Compare that to how we feel about personalization in other forms of marketing, such as location-based triggers, or retargeting campaigns on social platforms.

“For a number of reasons, we’ve been trained to be sold to via email,” Cifuentes said.”

I’m not sure if we’ve been exactly “trained”. I believe it is about having control.

Here’s a relevant article talking about the expectation factor: “People come into situations expecting to receive something specific. Expectation factors apply to all aspects of life. You go to a job interview and expect the hiring manager to ask certain questions. You go to a birthday party and expect to eat certain foods and have a certain level of fun.

It’s important for businesses to understand that, when customers visit their websites, the expectation factor is also very much at play. If you present your visitors with an experience that strays too much from what they anticipate, they will end up feeling a loss of control and will perform actions – clicking pause on a video, perhaps, or in the more extreme, exiting the page entirely – in order to return the feeling of control to their hands.”

When we have control over a medium (in the case of email it is the ability to opt-out/unsubscribe) it leads us to be more prone to listening to the medium. We give email a chance to sell us on something versus a banner ad or auto-playing video because we can’t control the latter. In fact, we give it more than a chance, we want it to talk to us in a personalized manner.

How did email become so effective? Hint: control.

Are we planners or strategists?

As she ramps up the latest Planning Survey Heather LeFevre is asking, “Are we planners or are we strategists? Does it matter?”

My answer: it is easier to be called a strategist.

I went to Miami Ad School to learn planning. I then worked in digital agencies as Digital Strategists, in a start-up agency as an Idea Architect and now in an experiential agency as a Digital Strategist.

What I’ve learned is no matter what you call yourself you still have to explain what it means in strategy terms.

“I’m X. I do brand strategy, consumer research…”

Now maybe at big traditional shops that’s not an issue, but you know where it is always an issue? When looking for work outside of big traditional shops.

The world has expanded beyond agency and client-side. Our skills are valuable to start-ups, design shops and other types of innovative labs/studios/places, but they may not realize it because they don’t get the title.

And, what use is a title that doesn’t easily explain what you do?

I struggle to find an appropriate title for myself. I’m some type of hybrid creative and strategist and digital person. Depending on the place that could be a digital strategist, a planner or a creative strategist. Or something entirely different.

But the bottom line is this: While I don’t have the answer for what is the best title, I know planner hasn’t worked for me.

Are we planners or strategists?

Countering Vulnerability: The Trust of Small Teams

John Hagel in a recent post about Companies and Movements touches on the importance of vulnerability and trust in learning, creating and, therefore, driving company growth.

“The basic organizational unit of a creation space is a small group of people. These people come together and collaborate in ways that help them individually and collectively to achieve higher levels of impact. Through this collaboration, they form deep trust-based relationships within their group because they’re sharing their vulnerabilities in a quest to learn from each other. The real power of a creation space is that it creates an environment that can scale in ways that help the small groups to learn even faster by connecting with each other.  

Companies can play a powerful role in catalyzing, nurturing and scaling these creation spaces. The key here is to move beyond organizing communities of interest and focus on organizing communities of action. Note also that these creation spaces are quite different from conventional crowdsourcing efforts that are usually focused on narrowly defined tasks or problems. In creation spaces, the opportunity is open-ended and invites the sustained collaboration of large numbers of individuals coming together in small groups that form deep, trust-based relationships as they experiment and improvise approaches to expand their impact.

Countering Vulnerability: The Trust of Small Teams

Top 15 SXSW Quotes from an Experiential and Planning Perspective

“What we are focused on is creating a screen experience for where people congregate but not often enough to download an app.”  – Austen Mulinder, Ziosk, “Race to the Fifth Screen”

“Festivals should live beyond their location. Look at what Tillamook did (at Feast). You call up in the middle of the night and get a grilled cheese delivered to your room.” Adam Rapoport, Bon Appetit, “The Reinvented Food Festival: Sink or Swim”

“The new cathedral is home to a global audience…It exists everywhere. 99% of cowboys fans will never step in the stadium.”  Brian Mirakian, Populous, “The New Cathedral: Sports Stadiums”

“Twitter is a platform for platforms.” – Will Mayo, Twitter, “IBM and Twitter: The Future of Engagement”

“Spectating is no longer satisfying…The in-seat experience is a small part of the stadium experience…We are now building stadiums with less seats and more places to congregate.” Brian Mirakian, Populous, “The New Cathedral: Sports Stadiums”

“People want to take information and give it to someone else.” – Laura Bernstein, LA County Museum of Art, “Art and Experience: A Future for Creativity”

“When people share their private experience (like gaming or watching a movie) with others it becomes a shared experience.” – Ari Kuschnir, m ss ng p eces, “The Future of Storytelling: The Event”

Great experience design changes people over time. Not just temporarily in the moment.Chloe Gottlieb, R/GA, “Google Firestarter: Engineering Strategy”

“We’ve become visual poets. We think in visuals. We speak in visuals.” – Abigail Posner, Google, “Humanizing Digital”

“Most people have become unconscious to sound.” – Julian Treasure, The Sound Agency, “Soundscape Your Smarter Workplace”

“Creativity and scale is the problem. Can’t do both. You make money when you re-create success.” – David Chang, Momofuku, “The Future Role of Tech in Dining and Food”

“We should be getting crushed. We don’t have the same money and resources as big agencies.” – Nathan Martin, Deeplocal, “Culture Clash: When Marketing and Product Converge”

“I love the internet but I also hate it. We’ve lost some of the mystery with food.” – David Chang, Momofuku, “The Future Role of Tech in Dining and Food”

Snapchat is the test area for Instagram. It allows teens to test out their selves. It is the ugly side to their filtered side.” – Abigail Posner, Google, “Humanizing Digital”

“Conflict in agencies because we are used to doing things perfect. There’s a fear of being rough around the edges.” – Nathan Martin, Deeplocal, “Culture Clash: When Marketing and Product Converge”

Top 15 SXSW Quotes from an Experiential and Planning Perspective

Better Strategy is About Making a Choice

Here are two great insights from a Roger Martin interview that Russell Davies pulled out:

“The problem with a lot of strategies is that they are full of non-choices. Probably most of us have read more than a few so-called strategies that say something like, “Our strategy is to be customer centric.” But is that really a choice?”

I want to marinate on that. Like olive oil, lemon and a pinch of cayenne. When I feebly taught strategy at Miami Ad School I taught the principles of perceptual mapping. A pair of students came back with a map for women’s shoes. One side was comfortable the other side was uncomfortable. And I realized I had failed them. It is not about having opposites. It is about the variables being positive, and then making a choice between the two.

One more.

“I would argue that 90 percent of the strategic plans I’ve seen in my life are really more accurately described as budgets with prose.”

That is lovely, true and terribly sad.

Better Strategy is About Making a Choice

How Open Floor Plans Beat You Unconscious

Here’s a really great presentation I saw at SXSW. It does an outstanding job of dissecting why open floor plans are terrible ideas. It also does a great job of pointing out how “we’ve become unconscious to sound” because of our constant overexposure to it.

One of the most significant aspects of moving to an experiential shop is how important the other senses become when you aren’t limited to creating for a device. Taste, touch and smell all come into play in ways that couldn’t happen in other channels.

While those senses provide the opportunity to create unique and new experiences, sound is an additional opportunity we often overlook because we are so used to it.

How Open Floor Plans Beat You Unconscious

The Madness of March Madness Commercials: A Running Diary

As we close up another year of March Madness, I’ll take a moment to ramble about the commercials. Here’s a running diary as I watch the Elite Eight games. Warning: I may have a few strong opinions after seeing every commercial approximately 100 times already.

– Big year for chickens.

– The old lady does not have a blog. No one should have a blog anymore. Not even me.

– Dear Buick, if you are going to buy this much air time, please make more than one new commercial. And run a commercial that does something other than say “Buick” 6 times.

– The anti-Buick commercials: the multiple Capital One spots where you can hardly understand what Barkley is saying.

– Those spots are endearing. I don’t know why.

– After seeing the same spots so much over the first weekend I’m genuinely excited to see anything new right now.


– Even when you don’t think FIAT is going to make a cliche Italian joke they sneak it in there at the last moment.

– New AT&T spot with Shaq crying and saying he feels “Not strong” = win.

– I would comment on the Enterprise commercial but I feel like it wasn’t meant for me.

– Big year for swiping.

Feed it! No.

– How does one invent low fares?


– Clyde the Glyde. I can get behind anything with him in it.

– There’s “wedding season”. The second weekend all-star. This household is Team Wetterlund. Apparently when she’s not killing Girl Code she’s crushing commercials.

I wish every truck was a taco truck. That’s some liberal tomfoolery right there.

– Whoa. Century 21 just blew my mind. They are introducing different edits of the same commercial. Imagine if Buick did this? Grandma would have twitter, medium and quora!

You stole my notes.That’s how we do it in Hollywood. I don’t like Hollywood. SENSITIVE BARLES CHARKLY STRIKES AGAIN!!!

Break Time. See ya tomorrow.

And we’re back.

– First commercial break. Southwest then Buick. The ad gods are mocking me.

– Spots like Apple’s and Samsung’s are great because they are all music and no dialogue. Someone could create a spot saying, “You are just great.” And I’d be sick of it after the 10th time.

– Does the BMW old lady have dementia? I dunno. Anyways, big year for old ladies in cars.

I ride the highway. I’m going my way. I lead a story uuuuuntold.

– If they run back to back chicken commercials followed by back to back old lady commercials, I’m sending my grandmother a gift certificate to KFC.

– Commendable use of the word churn.

Alright, that’s all. Lost some steam. Next year Clyde Drexel and Alice Wetterlund adopt a sensitive Barkely is who is allergic to chicken and old ladies.

The Madness of March Madness Commercials: A Running Diary

Why ya mama is on crack about SXSW sessions

I love SXSW. I don’t think it has jumped the shark House of Cards style. Of course it is a cluster F with tons of noise, but there is still lots of useful content. Here are three sessions I’m really looking forward to.

The Reinvented Food Festival: Sink or Swim

I’m a semi-foodie who is enthusiastic about Smorgasburg and Anthony Bourdain’s future food hall. Being able to sample tons of authentic food and flavors is such a great driver, and the resulting experience is a great opportunity for the vendors and brands.

Narratives, Platforms and Movements

Narratives and platforms are the two subjects that would define my POV for a great brand. This session is intriguing because, while the language is a bit jargon-y and clunky (“movements” = argh), I believe it is really touching on brand purpose, and creating an ongoing narrative by staying aligned to that purpose.

The New Cathedral: Sports Stadiums

Live sports is a beast. While watching live sports in-stadium has been slow to evolve, ESPN has become more important than the cable networks that provide it. Sports stadiums are being forced to re-think the experience, and often the most exciting innovation occurs when it has to happen.

Why ya mama is on crack about SXSW sessions