Category Archives: Longer Articles

The Uber Effect. Has it disrupted your business?

Have you noticed what Uber is doing? And I don’t mean shutting people to destinations.

The company that began as a ‘ride hailing’ company in San Francisco, has become the metaphor of how almost any service-based business could be tweaked to provide a richer service. Tethered to a network, of course.

The first ‘network’ to consider is the people network. We-the-people constitute a powerful connective tissue to other networks. In this instance, it is the road network. Taxis monopolized this human-transit network, but there was space for a different type of taxi, and Uber unlocked the genie.

There are lots of other businesses that could be Uber-ized. It will annoy the status quo (note how Taxi operators make a case for how ‘dangerous’ such ride-sharing/ ride-hailing companies are); But it will eventually create some interesting offshoots.

My column in this month’s LMD Magazine looks at what this business model is all about.


Facebook Fatigue builds up

I feel a bit better now that I watched the spoof about Facebook Life Filters.

A few weeks prior, I had submitted my cover story, Time to Exit Facebook and expected to uppset a few FB die hards. The article was published this month in LMD Magazine. I had pointed to some of my favorite annoyances –a few of which are brilliantly covered in the spoof!  These are the most annoying categories of users that drive us away:

The Graffiti Artist – The person who incessantly posts anything and everything he or she sees, thinks or does, because it makes him or her feel like a citizen journalist.

The ‘PDA’ Junkie – Someone who indulges in Public Displays of Affection (known in the pre-Facebook era as a ‘PDA’). This person thanks a sibling, or wishes a spouse in purple prose, an act that can surely be done with more class… in private.

The Random Shooter – Have smart camera-phone, will shoot anything: expensive cars, cumulus clouds from windows of aeroplanes, birthday cakes, children, hotel rooms…

The Poser – Someone who leaves smart comments, regularly updates his or her profile picture and delights in posing in selfies.

You could read the full article here.



Are you surfing the web or swimming in print?

My recent column in CW (Communication World) magazine is the beginning of what has become an introspective view of where we are headed with all this digital content seeping out of every pore. I borrowed the headline from a campaign for the magazine industry that uses the word ‘swimming’ (in print) to compare it to what they suggest is a less engaging online experience of surfing.

The point I suggest is that we are creatures (and should be connoisseurs) of both worlds.

Download the article here.

The follow up to it will take it further – dealing with ‘Content Snacking!’

If you think that’s a fascinating phrase, consider the phrase ‘Micro Boredom.’ I had not heard of it before. Apparently it had been used by Motorola a few years back. 


Why shout, when you could communicate?

Friend_TrafalgarSquareA few months ago I blogged about a street vendor (left)  in Trafalgar Square, and some interesting things he told me about ‘making a statement.’

I expanded that idea into an article that appeared in the latest issue of Communication World. For those of you who are not IABC members, here is a link to the PDF.

I wrestled between  givinng this article the headline”Stop shouting and I will pay attention!” and “Silent Messages in an Over-communicated World.” The editors settled for “Picture This!

Let me know what you think of the article.

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Posted by on September 14, 2009 in Communications, IABC, Longer Articles


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Cell phones, fast cars and iPods

It’s a natural fit in marketing: products go after products in the quest for smart targeting. It’s not your typical sponsorship.

Take this story about Vodafone looking at Ferrari racing fans as a great target audience. Over 360 million viewers (a cumulative annual audience of 5.7 billion people in 2003) watched each Formula 1 race live. The Vodafone brand was on-screen for an average 20% of every race broadcast. So Ferraris have become a medium? Check it out here.

But see how another fast-car alliance works the other way around: Jaguar considers Mac users a viable target audience.

“Mac users are people that shape opinion; they use Macs to create,” said Stephenson. “They are independent thinkers that don’t follow, they lead.”.”

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Posted by on July 24, 2004 in Longer Articles


Bush-Kerry Political Cartoon boosts viral concept

The Web cartoon, also referred to as the ‘bi-partisan toon’ will give non marketing people a new look at the potential of viral marketing.

Produced by Jib Jab media, a Santa Monica-based animation studio to promote itself (and not a political message), it is one of the most entertaining takes on the present political brand war raging in the U.S. It is slightly irreverant, but the short film captures the campaign bullet points very well, in under 2 minutes.

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Posted by on July 21, 2004 in Longer Articles


Brand Stories

This post appears on the official Global PR Blog Week site.

Blogging is new to many of us who never imagined that something akin
to gossip and story telling would impact deeply entrenched professions
such as advertising, PR and journalism. But it has, giving rise to a
journalism effect that fills the gaps of credibility in branding,
politics, journalism, and mass marketing. My topic is marketing
communications. As I noted in my backgrounder the people at the periphery have a voice –and the reach— that those at the center once enjoyed. 

Our modern variants of gossip –marketing communications (which is
all about telling our commercial stories) and public relations (which
is used to narrate particular angles of a story) – have quietly
eclipsed the corporate video, the press conference, the product launch,
and the celebrity-studded TV commercial. The most interesting seem to
be the unofficial storytellers–the ‘unauthorized’ corporate bloggers,
the ‘self embedded’ journalists-blogger posting stories from the war zone, the ‘citizen journalists’ reporting for OhMyNews in South Korea, and the ‘un-ad agencies’ such as Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Even a group of consumers who release viral content for benign reasons or some form of activism have an audience.

These communicators at the periphery have realized that people and
institutions at the center –the corporate icons and the traditional
gatekeepers— have lost their credibility. Notice how it’s not just the
Ken Lays and Martha Stewarts of this world who are being put away. Also
being sidelined are information and image brokers from Tom Brokaw
(whom, we learn, is losing audiences), McCann-Erickson
(a powerful global advertising network/conglomerate which is losing
accounts to hot shops.) And yes, even newspapers have lost their
credibility, as a recent Pew Research study shows.

Whose brand stories will people listen to? It depends on who
provides more relevant content, rather than who crafts the best press
release. Consider the GlaxoSmithkline ‘story.’ No matter how you spin it, when New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against their product, Paxil, the patients took to the message boards.

Or take BBC journalist, Stuart Hughes, who’s Iraq ‘audio blog’ on the Web,
is riveting journalism, more so, because it is not an official news
report filed through Hughes’ employer. These are seemingly isolated
examples of how spin, brand management (managed by one-time ‘brand
guardians,’) damage control, and intermediation are not always what the
audience wants.

This is not necessarily a pessimistic view of communications. We don’t have to look to Blogs per se
for the answer. The concept of blogging, of transparency, and allowing
multiple contributions is being embraced by the advertising and
marketing world, even as we speak.

Larry Light, the chief marketing officer of McDonald’s proposed a curious marketing idea last
month. He called it ‘brand journalism’ which is not a very accurate
label for what he was proposing, since it is neither journalism, nor
branding. “As a mass brand…we marketed a mass message through the mass
media appealing to masses of undifferentiated consumers,” he said. But
“customers will not accept monotonous, repetition of the same
simplistic message. They want a dynamic, creative chronicle.” Mr. Light
was not overtly referring to online ‘chronicles’ but he did have in
mind the rich tapestry of multiple opinions, and daily inputs to this
chronicle: “It means telling the many facets of our brand story every
day in 119 countries.”

And in the face of those he warned as the ‘positionistas’ (those brand advocates who defend the ‘positioning’ theory
of the one-voice, one-look, and one-brand image) he said that
McDonald’s would redefine its brand communication in a “non
advertising-centric world” where like the tapestries of old, this thing
called ‘brand journalism’ would be an “endless story” when unfurled
over time.

Welcome to the non advertising-centric world of marketing communications!

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Posted by on July 14, 2004 in Longer Articles