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August 2007 Archives

Goodie Bags Can Be Good

Sunday 26, 2007

I have a dream. I have a dream that one day I will receive a conference goodie bad where I will not throw out anywhere from 75% to 100% of its contents, including the bag. It is a dream where I do not see a shameful waste of marketing dollars, but a shining beacon for generating consumer affection through branded utility and just plain old-fashioned fun.

Usually when I get a goodie bag I am disappointed. The bag is filled with bits of paper advertising this and promoting that and these bits of color-processed pulp go straight into the waste bin (unless there is a recycling bin, bless you Bloor Marriott in Toronto).

[photo by MrGluSniffer]

Other standard goodie bag chotchkes are key chains, water bottles, note pads, stickers, buttons and these go straight to the trash as well. Why? Because these trinkets do not satisfy one of these three elements for good freebies that I would be proud to use allow people to see me displaying a corporate logo:

a) I find it useful outside of a conference setting
-- I keep the canvas bags sponsored by Adobe from SXSW for groceries
-- I kept the Trinchero wine pull for obvious reasons
b) It is well integrated with the conference theme and/or activities and/or relevant to its attendants
-- Pentagram New York gave me their version of a guidebook to Manhattan filled with points of interest for designers (I'm not a designer, but it was an AIGA conference)
c) It is well designed and doesn't look like crap
-- The Savits sponsored bags at the AAAA conference looked like they were made of Kevlar and had a huge ugly logo printed on the side, at least the SXSW bags display a fun design on one side and the Adobe logo on the other
d) I do not already have the same item from three other conferences that I've been to in the last year
-- Please, I beg you, stop giving note pads and key chains. I have more than I will ever need. We all do.

Companies who bother to sponsor an element of a conference goodie bag are throwing their money down the drain because the item they chose to put their brand on does not satisfy even one of those four elements. Not even one. Therefore, into the trash it goes.

I have ideas. I want people to be overjoyed by their goodie bags. Like Halloween, but more grown up.

[photo by patedugan]

The Zen Master ran a conference of his very own this year and had a decent goodie bag, but I think it could be better and I have asked (okay, begged) to be put in charge of the freebies next year. The conference consists of two days of web technology and design and two days of skiing and socializing. Look at that - a theme! Snow. Skiing. Winter. Hooray! We have a direction.

Now for my ideas:

- A screen-printed Baggu bag to hold everything.
-- These bags are great. They're inexpensive, they look good, they fold up into a pouch small enough to fit in your purse or keep in your glove compartment, its washable, and it makes a great shopping bag. It practically begs to be reused.

- Customized M&Ms (or another kind of snack food)
-- Who couldn't use a chocolate pick-me-up after a day of heavy thinking and discussion?

- Hand Warmers
-- It’s usable and will be appreciated by those who join the skiing expedition.

- Neck Gators
-- Can be embroidered and reused.

- Pocket Shots
-- Because if you're going to be sponsoring drinks then why not sponsor drinks to go?

- New Books or Magazines
-- You have a small group highly educated people who probably blog or have a degree of influence over their industry peers and by giving them the first run of a book or magazine can seed potential word of mouth among their community

- Thumb Drives
-- I know that people get these all the time, but what can I say? They're handy.

- Luggage Tags
-- I'm actually surprised companies don't give these out more often. The ones you already have sometimes break and it’s always good to have an extra one lying around. Once again, handy.

- Pre-made Werewolf cards
-- This is for web geeks only. I never actually played this game, but I hear that it’s bizarrely popular.

- Beer or Wine Carrying Cozy
-- It's classy, useful, and will likely be appreciated by the attendants for years after the conference is over.

I could go on, but why give every drop of milk for free. I hope this works, because I would love to be responsible for a goodie bag that doesn’t suck. Who knows? Maybe I could start a trend.

AAAA Account Planning Conference Notes - Bruce Mau

Wednesday 22, 2007

Bruce Mau is a Canadian designer. Mau is the creative director of Bruce Mau Design, and the founder of the Institute without Boundaries and Massive Change. He also called us the influencers of culture and I think he's wrong too (but that's another blog post).

Massive Change

- When people think things are bad and getting worse, they act selfishly

[photo by inoneear]

- Design is taking responsibility for more
- Design is now no longer just visual

- Massive Change dares to imagine the welfare of all life as a practical objective
-- The green movement is the stick, Massive Change is the carrot
--- Make new and sustainable ideas attractive and compelling

- Now that we can do anything, what will we do?

[photo by chrismaverick]

- Intelligence with islands of stupidity
-- Problems are coming out of the success of car design must lead to sustainable mobility
--- Mass transit is designed to fail

- Waste = Food, output becomes the input for future generations
- Using nature to design solutions

- The political debate is no longer about left and right
-- Now it is advance vs. retrograde
-- Left vs. right are dead ends

[photo by Kazze]

- Solve problems and confront challenges

AAAA Account Planning Conference Notes - Gareth Kay and Mark Lewis

Wednesday 22, 2007

Gareth Kay heads up planning for Modernista in Boston, while Mark Lewis does the same for DDB in San Francisco.

Seven Deadly Sins

- Brands are increasingly homogenous
-- We're not good at doing something completely different
-- We think we are changing, but we are what we do

- We base our thinking on the anomaly of TV
-- Passive, monologue, most $, most share of mind
-- Not like other communication where the best idea = the most share of mind

- What matters is energy
-- Brands with high energy grow faster
-- Salience moves brands forward

- Entropy is the number of states things can be in
-- Randomness creates energy
-- Order and simplicity makes no sense
--- The more random the source of information -> the more entropy -> the more information
- Multiple story lines add energy
-- Coolidge Effect = we are addicted to the new

- John Grant and the Brand Molecule
-- Reality is more ambiguous

- Have a social mission, not just a commercial
-- Proposition, a point of view on the world

- Big changes happen very quickly because of very small causes
-- Chaos theory

- Why are we complicating the input and simplifying the outcomes?
-- Instability makes us uncomfortable
-- Too much time thinking about the big things and not enough time with the small things that make a big impact
-- Go out and try some stuff to see what works

- If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less
-- Embrace uncertainty, stay loose and fluid
-- A continuous active process
-- Planning for uncertainty

AAAA Account Planning Conference Notes - Mark Earls

Wednesday 22, 2007

Mark Earls is a former planner and is now an author, independent consultant, and blogger.

In Praise of Stupid - Why Planning Needs to Become Less Clever

- Concentrate on your ability to do things without showing off.
- Read "A Master Class in Brand Planning" based on the writings of Stephen King
- We need to tap into our social intelligence over our analytical intelligence
-- It's a team game
-- Let's avoid making people feel stupid because we're smart asses

- Lee "Scratch" Perry couldn't articulate his ideas, so he just made stuff

- Thinking doesn't follow behavior
-- You change how you feel about something to rationalize a change in behavior
-- Behavior changes before attitude

- Its what you believe, not what you think
-- We are all individuals, but we all copy
--- We do what we do because of other people (influence)
- How do we get behavior to move through populations?
-- Get people to see what other people are doing ( - people who bought this, also bought this)

[photo by kisluvkis]

- The future of planning is about verbs. Doing stuff.
-- Less thinking, more flow

AAAA Account Planning Conference Notes - Adam Morgan

Monday 20, 2007

Adam Morgan first came to the international business world's attention when he published "Eating the Big Fish" which gave challenger brands strategies for increasing share in markets that have dominant leaders of goliath proportions. Since then he has launched the EatBigFish consultancy and written "The Pirate Inside."

Third Eye

- Challengers don't think of innovations, they think of opportunities
-- Entrepreneurial, everyone, anything, emotional and functional (a way of seeing how to progress business)
- Be always open to opportunity

[photo by 7rainbow]

- 6 Kinds of Insight
-- Reflection (how things are now)
-- Opportunity (how things could be)
--- Consumer - zooming in on a small target
--- Category promise
--- We are all disabled by modern living - future of convenience market
--- Opportunities in the smaller markets
--- Kissing the shadow - embracing your negatives
-- Foundation
-- Success
-- Product
-- Staff and Culture

- Blindness to Opportunities
-- Selective attention - focusing on one thing and missing the obvious
-- Functional fixatedness
-- Bounded awareness
-- Environmental distortion

[photo by TimberWolf_qx]

- Create a culture of desire around opportunities
-- Barclays trying out new ideas only in their Guilford branch
--- The scarcity of the service creates demand in the market

- Be "always on"
-- Mindset
-- Everyday
-- Have an open door policy
-- Incentivizing a continual feed of ideas

AAAA Account Planning Conference Notes - Sir Ken Robinson

Friday 17, 2007

Ken Robinson is a leading thinker on education and advocate for teaching the arts in public schools. Read his bio here. See his TED talk here:

Leading a Culture of Innovation
- We are caught in today's equivalent of an industrial revolution
- We make poor use of our human resources causing interpersonal strife
-- Not using people to the best of their abilities

- There are no facts about the future, only trends

- Most people believe that there is a separation between intelligence and creativity
-- Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value
- We are educating people out of their creativity

- Singularity - the blending of human consciousness with machines
-- One-day computers will have the processing speed of the human brain and when that happens, computers will begin to learn and write their own operating system
- Technology and demographic revolutions
-- Fragmentation of industries, intense competition, multi-culturalization

- We need a strategic imperative for new ideas. We must challenge what we take for granted.

- Read "Culture and the Senses"
- Common sense is the biggest barrier to creativity
-- Once we find something obvious we cease to understand it

- Culture of Innovation - personal, corporate requirements:
-- Intelligence - diverse, dynamic, distinct
-- Horizontal integration, cross function, no silos
-- Top investing to the bottom
-- Stimulating habitat
-- Creating optimal conditions for creativity - time to think

- Advertisers shape opinion (true? or more credit than we deserve?)

Post Account Plannng Con

Thursday 16, 2007

I went. I saw. I didn't party like a rock star and I still caught a cold. So unfair.

I met so many great people - Jason, Gareth, Mark, Chad, a bunch of folks from TBWA New York, a couple planners from Modernista, and a lot of random people whom I would recognize if I saw them but whose names escape me at the moment. Everyone was super nice. I still felt like a bit of an outsider sometimes, but meeting someone new and interesting usually interrupted those feelings.

[photo by AAAA]

I did manage to tell one girl that she absolutely had to leave her job immediately. She was a junior level planner at a small Midwestern agency that only had room for one strategist, her. What else could I tell her? Stay and ruin her career prospects?

Most of the programming was good. I've only read one scathing review so far, otherwise all of the comments and reviews have been positive. Most of the content was just about doing more and being more actionable instead of just tossing about theories. It was very positive outlook overall.

There were a few sales pitches. Google, Time Warner, Facebook had a lot of great things to say by involving a lot of insight and vision of how we can work together in the whole "give us your money" message. Yahoo clearly didn't get it. Their VP of Sales was so old school I would't have been surprised if he had sat down in his easy chair with a martini in hand and told us how the world worked back in the good old days. Then there was an IMAX film maker who had absolutely no business being there at all. Half the room walked out before he even started showing any of his films.


[photo by AAAA]

On the upside, most of the other speakers, Eric Ryan of Method, Bruce Mau, Sir Ken Robinson, Mark Earls, Mark Lewis, Gareth Kay, and Adam Morgan were great. They were all very inspiring but well grounded.

Some of the higher level planners were so inspired by what they were hearing that they started a Facebook group for planners with the ambition of helping non-profits solve their communications problems. Less talk, more doing, better karma. We haven't chosen a project yet, but we're looking and if anyone has any idea, we would love to hear them.

We're really good at thinking, now its time to get better at doing.

August LikeMind Coffee Morning

Sunday 12, 2007

AKA - Where Did All the Guys Go?!

Okay, we've had two all girl LikeMinds in a row. What's going on? Why won't the Y-chromosomes represent? Must I use every trick in my arsenal of Jewish Guilt Powers to make you guys come meet us for breakfast this Friday or do I just need to tell you that there will be smart charming women present and ready to converse?


Meet us at the Susina Bakery at 8am on Friday the 17th for coffee and conversation (and don't forget the pastries).

Susina Bakery
7122 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

There is at least one subject that I like to bring to the table this session which is the new Facebook group and general planning project which was born out of the conference I went to last week called Planning For Good. Less talk, less theory, more action, and change the world. If anyone has any non-profit project ideas, we would love to hear them.

LikeMind, Upcoming, Facebook

My First Account Planning Con

Wednesday 1, 2007

This Sunday is actually a pretty big day for me. First I will be celebrating my birthday with friends over a dim sum brunch in Chinatown. Then I will be catching the train from Union Station to San Diego to attend my first planning conference. Three days of research and brand strategy goodness. Oh, and there will be some drinking. Many bar visits are expected and bonding over booze I can only assume will be the norm. Which should be fun considering that I am, if anything, known for holding my liquor and being gracious while inebriated.

[photo by russell davies]

On second thought, maybe I should hold off on the alcohol.

There has been much planning conference bashing going around the interwebs, and I have to admit that the cynicism has made me less excited about the day programs, but it has yet to squelch my interest in meeting other planners. Especially those planners who's blogs I read and whom I've met virtually.

[photo by Bernard-SD]

FYI - Facebook has been a godsend for networking with other account planners. I would have never thought that the Plannersphere group would ever get to 580 strong and climbing.

[photo by Bernard-SD]

So there you have it. Cynicism blended with anticipation. It's just a hunch, but I foresee a lot of panel ditching in favor of a quick dip in the pool.