Monthly Archives: January 2008

ASU on Focus the Nation today

Quick follow up to my previous post on sustainability.

Didn’t realize it until today that Arizona State University has a special segment on Focus the Nation this evening.

Focus the Nation is a national initiative involving thousands of universities, with students, political leaders, decision makers and average citizens taking active roles on global warming. Talk about doing more than carbon-offset ads!

The activities of Focus the Nation started this week. Topics range from “climate, conflict, refugees” to technology policy, China, ocean imaging, media, motivation and “marketing” the problem.

A live webcast of the event this evening will be held at ASU, from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm

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Posted by on January 30, 2008 in ASU, Best Practices, Sustainability


No traipsing down Sustainability Avenue

For the past year, I’ve been hist by two keywords: innovation and sustainability.

It’s hard not to notice the deliberate attempt by many organizations to tie the two concepts into their marketing, strategic planning and advertising.

BMW says it is “preparing for a Hydrogen future” with “pie-in-the-sky, what-if technology.” Honda has invested in a solar cell company. BP is into bio-fuels. But it’s not just consumer brands that are onto it. The city of Phoenix has a “sustainability blueprint. Tucson has a volunteer-led “Sustainable Tucson” network.

The city of London has a Sustainable Development Commission, promoting community-friendly policies for climate change, education and energy.

It’s tricky to balance growth and sustainability –and getting buy in. At ASU, we wrestle with this all the time. The Global Institute of Sustainability, a block from where I work, does a fine job of defining what it involves, and applying it. Here at the Decision Theater, we actually show organizations what sustainability means by taking their data, and putting it into interactive visualization.

So every time I see ads like the one about building cars out of straw (Toyota) or the Land Rover‘s paying for carbon credits on behalf of the customer, I realize many are only scratching the surface. Once you see how small decisions can change the air quality, water table or traffic patterns in your immediate locale, you’ll see that wearing an eco label requires you to do more than build a neat micro-site, or shooting a great commercial.


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Quotes from the week of 26 January, 2008

“All we did was add more elves.”

Ann Bologna, president of Toy, on the success of the “elf yourself” campaign for Office Max, that drew visitors to visit the site and create 123 million elves, translating in to a reach of 26.4 million people.

“The difference is that we now have to provide a little foreplay before going all the way.”

Len Gutman, at ValleyPRBlog, on the need for symbiotic relationships between hacks and flacks via social media.

“Everyone wants the Tiffany box, but there is no Tiffany box.”

Dave Coffey, director of media services at Sapient, on a survey of 120 professionals about digital marketing budgets, and the inability to measure social networking gains.

“A vast dynamic knowledge ecosystem that is in a constant state of creation, use, reuse and improvement.”

Jimmy Wales and Rich Baraniuk in an Op-Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, on their dream of making textbooks and learning material open to everyone, and the Capetown Declaration.

“There was a basic lack of integrity in the Clinton show last night.”

Larry Lessig on the Democratic debate, and the possible infection of the Clintom campaign with the “Karl Rove virus.”

“Appalling” and “saddening”

Senator Hillary Clinton, responding to Karl Rove’s recent suggestion that the Democrats responded to 9/11 with timidity.

“We’ve changed our whole marketing plan so we can leverage something out of this smokin’ hot spot.”

Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy on getting a Super Bowl ad approved by the Fox network, after submitting 10 other “edgy” commercials that were rejected, as they were for the past few years.

“Journalists are such tools.”

A reader of the Arizona Republic commenting on the fact that this rejection-approval “story” has been repeated for many years.


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Video activists turns vigilantes

Video sharing sites are often held in low esteem because of the Lonelygirls, but there are also the use of video as a form of social cultural criticism, a la the anti-Axe commercial. But there have been some unconventional uses of video sharing and activism.

Some of you may recall a recent story about how the owner of a cigar store in Mesa, angered by the fact that he was burglarized, put up his surveillance video on YouTube. Within weeks there was a tip off and the burglar was arrested –whether of not as a result of it is debatable.

Keeping watch on the neighborhood seems to have taken off. I came across a video vigilante site called JohnTV as a way of attacking human trafficking and prostitution in Oklahoma. No different perhaps from the format used by NBC Dateline‘s, in the “To Catch a Predator.”

Whether you call them citizen journalists or video vigilantes, it takes video sharing to a new level of activism.

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Posted by on January 24, 2008 in Social Media


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Cult of the amateur: provocative idea, wrong lens

If you loved Wikinomics, you’ve got to read Andrew Sheen’s “The cult of the amateur.” It forces your brain to take a compare the seductive arguments about knowledge democratization, and the decline of social values as a result of user-generated content.

On the face of it Sheen is a cross between Vincent Bryan Key (Subliminal Seduction) and Neil Postman (Amusing ourselves to death) both warning about the dangerous trends in advertising (in 1974), and television culture (in 1986) respectively.

He sees the internet as the slippery slope of literary, moral and cultural standards, and seems to try hard to relate it to amateurism. Indeed, the struggle between old media and its receptacles, versus new media and the infinite pores out of which this new content is flowing is easy to cast as one between the good guys and the baddies.

But it’s not, and I discuss why, here in my detailed review of the book, at ValleyPRblog.


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Social Media Resume –its about time

Today’s jobs find job seekers because of the profiles and filters they set up long before the job search begins. For HR managers, Google searches and the ability to look at social media profiles of potential candidates short circuit the time between making a short list and making a decision.

I recently had a great discussion with Mike McClary about the rising importance of a social media profile, and the declining returns of a resume. I had written about this for a student newsletter, and it was waiting to be expanded on. Mike, a podcaster, blogger and writer is deep into this stuff. We started calling this resume 2.0 phenomenon the “Social Media Resume” or SMR. (I know it’s gonna compete with the Social Media Press Release.)

The structure of a boring, chronological resume is trapped in the old media world, swirling with ‘resume words’ rather than key words, using chronology, rather than highlights, depending on hype rather than hyperlinks. Isn’t that really odd? It’s the equivalent of sending someone a fax of a print out of he storyboard of your award-winning video, when you could easily send her the URL on YouTube.

The SMR could be enhanced to include links, and new media element. But it’s not even about the layout. Your SMR could be a dynamic thing, a collective impression based on the digital tracks you leave behind. These could be comments on a blog, trackbacks to yours, a Twitter or Jaiku comment, a paper published in college, announcements in a hometown paper about your recent appointment to a board, a lawsuit (in your favor, hopefully), being named on a top ten list, or a book review on Amazon. I just stumbled on the fact that my technology column is picked up by Amazon, and appears in edocs. Amazing!

The old media resume doesn’t allow for this adaptation. Like branding in the 1.0 world, it was all about push, looking cool, and impressive. Personal branding in the web 2.0 world is all about the pull, and about the web of influence you have built around yourself through feedback, activism, networking and participation.

The resume has not been pronounced dead, but it is on life support. The SMR will soon fill its place.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking it in my social media resume…


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Taste testing ‘Meatball Sundae’

The Church of the customer’s Jackie Huba put Meatball Sundae into practice. Meaning actually building the disgusting mashup of meatballs, ice cream and toppings –and tasting it.

Watch the video clip here.

If you haven’t read Seth Godin’s book, here’s a summary: Loading new media (the toppings) on top of a commodity (meatballs) tastes yuck, has an awful texture, and terrible results. Seth, as always, has the recipe for creating a better menu item.

For the taste test, Huba smothered the following toppings on meatballs:

  • Chocolate syrup –representing blogs
  • Whipped Cream –representing Facebook and MySpace
  • Sprinkles –representing YouTube

You can expect what it tasted like…


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Marketing in the midst of turbulence

There are disruptive winds blowing across Asia too.

In Sri Lanka, Thayalan Bartlett, CEO of JWT writes about how an agency has to adapt its marketing and advertising when facing up to the ripple effects of climate change and the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S.

Turbulent times, he says, are studded with opportunities, and need to be factored into marketing plans.

Encouraging words from an “agency.”

Full disclosure: Being a former employee, I have been asked to contribute to the JWT blog.


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Quotes for the week ending 19 Jan, 2008

“I am particularly glad that The Future of Ideas is now freely licensed.  … I’m glad it now has a chance to flow a bit more freely.”

Larry Lessig, on news that his book (published by Random House in September last year), is now available as a free download under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

“I know you are supposed to put the “5 W’s” in the first paragraph of a release, but if it was me, I’d want to see this right off the top.”

Charlote Risch, at ValleyPRBlog, on an announcement of a partnership between CBS Radio and North Central News, a local newspaper in Phoenix.

“We call them lifeaholics.”

Hillary Benjamin, senior marketing director at Equinox Fitness Club, on the provocative ad campaign it launched through Fallon Worldwide, aimed an a professional, urban audience with high household income.

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The new definition of marketing, as defined by the American Marketing Association.

“… they followed the rules of the game – but the game had changed. It went from billiards to soccer.”

Jeremy Pepper, on POP! PR Jots on “truth versus blogosphere truth,” commenting on the often misrepresented case about Kryptonite’s PR, and how bloggers rush to contribute to the echo chamber without checking their facts.

“This is a chance for writers to do what they do best–be original and tell stories.”

Writers Guild of America, quoted in MediaPost, on an online site StrikeTV, to be launched in February.

“We are at a huge crossroads in this industry, and they know it. They want to take our entire body of work, and give us this (makes gesture) give us zero for it.”

Luisa Leschin, via video, who worked on all 120 episodes of The George Lopez Show, and was co-exec producer.

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Posted by on January 19, 2008 in Activism, Hype, Marketing, Social Media


Decision Theater featured in New York Times

This post is for the benefit of my professional colleagues who are intrigued about what the Decision Theater is all about.

This article ( “A threat so big, academics try collaboration”) appeared in the New York Times on December 25th, 2007.

It’s about sustainability and collaboration. Incidentally, the main photograph for the article was taken at ASU.

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Posted by on January 18, 2008 in ASU, Decision Theater, Social Media


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