communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.


We have candidates

Starting today two crazy people will be analyzing every move they make in connection with brands and pretending they are not really doing it. This following this.

Dan and Melania, the future gurus of brand interaction have today been briefed on their assignments. Relevant discoveries to follow.

Many thanks for their utter and unexplainable lack of desire to be reimbursed for allowing us to use them as guinea pigs.

Thought of the evening

Are there really rules to blogging and if so does spelling things right count, or always liking your references or always making sense?
Sometimes it seems blogging has become more of a profession than a pleasure so I guess if you do it as such it should have some performance criteria.
But I think I want to retain my amateur status for a while - somehow it seems more in tune with the whole concept of "in beta"

LATER UPDATE: does template monogamy count as a plus?

Digital planning

I seem to get invited to Internet-related things and people listen to me speak about that and do not throw tomatoes at me. I wonder if this means that I actually know some stuff. I wonder if this means i might have a future in digital planning.
For those wondering like me, Iain has some answers here where he discusses the maings of a digital planner.

Whoa! Orangina...

via IF!


I sat with the big ones

I was invited today to speak at an Ericsson event on UGM. I was in awe as i was asked to sit on the same stage with people from hotnews and neogen and with zoso because i think having your presence on the net mean something for millions of people in the case of neogen, and thousands on the case of zoso makes you at least a decent internet pro if not anything else.

I find it amazing how closely knit and small the robolgsphere is and how interconnected the players are. Everyone seemed, at some point or the next, to have brushed against the other (or rather bumped against the other).

I had fun and spoke way too much apparently but found that people in Romanian internet are less prepared and in touch with what is being done. Also something that i have noticed ever since i started attending conferences, no one comes prepared. They come to give an opinion and sometimes that is simply not enough.

. ... also the setting was scary because we were on these white chairs on a podium surrounded by people but at some point it felt like some posh tech conference. so rock on Ericsson people :) via


Blogs meet the lolinator

If i was a big momma with a lot of attitude and some effing good time on my mind, this is what my blog would probably sound like.
Muchas gracias LOLinator and Diana.


Thought of the afternoon

"Just because you're doing lots of stuff does not mean you're doing lots of good stuff"

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders

IBM on the future of advertising

IBM thinks these (mobile advertising, global internet etc) will be the highest spend advertising channels in 2010. Scary huh?
I think it may be a while though with mobile advertising, but I guess with everyone fighting to prove that the phone is man's most priced possession, it makes sense to estimate that it will also be the highest interest channel for ad placement.
download pdf here

Measuring effectiveness

MIT Future of Entertainment conference had a panel about measuring effectiveness. The key question asked was "How do people make purchase decisions?". Fallon is reporting about this and I found it funny that the reaction to that question was just a bunch of other questions. No one seems to have been able to present a working solution for the so-important purchase decision dilemma. People talk about timing, convergence of ads and branding etc etc but there is no definite model. One panelist spoke about ethnographic observation as a means to finding that out and obviously the first thing that comes to mind is, geesh, we've had enthnographic observation for 100 years and now it occurs to us that this is the answer. Plus, I have been involved in some projects using that and the best i could tell you is that purchase decision is random and individual-experience driven, and in a world of increasing communication it happens a lot at the point of contact :-)

I have added a pixel

This is a cool project called pixelfest from these guys here where you and people from all over the world contribute to a pixel image. Just go here to add your pixel and change the pixel image. Mine is the green one inside the sun :-)

LATER - design is fucking awesome

Just look at the AMAZING stuff this designer duo does here

Design CAN make your life happier

This i could really use :-) via


Awsome cooperative work

this is great. NY artist Ji Lee puts up speech bubbles and people fill them in. More here

Beautiful things

from here

the site is not too bad either :-)Link

Work like life

I am working on a brief on hair loss medication. Somehow my stylist found it necessary to help me reach a deeper understanding of what that is like by cutting my hair REALLY short.

Sometimes the best insights come from experiencing the situation yourself. I have a feeling this will be a great brief :(


Whoa ...

They simply were smarter back then. Ogilvy via

Customer care

One sure thing: customer CARE is not effective unless it's genuine. If you do it because the competition is, and all you care about is devising processes to make your people CARE MORE than the competition, you will fail miserably.

I was just reading an anecdote about the text all air hostesses give you when the plane has landed. The whole "Please remain in your seats. Do not open overhead compartments as luggage may have shifted etc etc Thank you for choosing us blah blah". I have flown a number of airlines and the text is ALWAYS the same so I assumed it's compulsory. But, dig this, it is not. It's the airline's way to show it cares but because they all do it exactly the same it has become a process and not true care.

I guess that is why I still fondly remember one tube ride in London at rush hour when one conductor, instead of serving us the usual "please allow doors of carriage to close" simply said "look, people, there's another train only seconds behind us. Is a couple of seconds ahead worth having your nose stuffed into someone's armpit?"

I thought it was genius, I laughed and waited for the next train ...

LATER UPDATE: here's another example

Phone tricks

unfortunately these only work in the US or sth cos I tried the empty battery thing... and nothing
still they're fun to know and i wonder if there are Romanian equivalents

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

unlock your car
If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other “remote” for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

hidden battery power
If your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.

to disable a stolen mobile
To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: *#06#. A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. If your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use it or sell it.


One stupid thing I heard today

Virtual connectivity is a trend.

Thought of the evening

When there is no local pride you need nation branding.



I always thought that part of a planner's job is to be really accurate at profiling. Diana also wanted to be a criminal profiler before she got into this.

So this article by Malcolm Gladwell was a blessing because it talks about processes exactly like ours when we try to figure out who our progressive consumers are. Also it pinpoints what the flaws are, namely that when you do behavioral profiling you simply cannot be sure your clues will lead to your conclusions in 100% of the cases. I cannot promise you that all your customers will think that red polka dots are cute. It's an assumption I make based on information and that is why I try to gather as much information as possible to make my assumption "statistically stick". Of course that's not certainty either.

But in our case it's just advertising, not murder :-) Thank God.

Malcolm is back to blogging and he has a new book coming out and I really hope it's about profiling.



Today I read three profiles of different people... of all three I envy most this guy

Jeff Gomez: He was a kid growing up in late 60s/70s in the Manhattan projects, where he felt like an outsider. In order to deal with this, he became involved in Sci-Fi media. Created his own Godzilla content by repurposing mass media imagery found in magazines. As he got older, he began to explore mythology and fantasy worlds, and was floored by the realism of those worlds. He wanted to emulate this, and find a system of rules that allowed him to do that, such as D & D. He needed to find a way to make fantasy worlds accessible to other people in the projects, and he began to get a sense of what the interactive experience was like for non-fans. Started looking to BBSes as places to extend the role-playing worlds. He predicted that there would be this kind of ongoing storyline on TV and these would go back into novels or video games, and low and behold this came to be. He began writing Palladium books, and Valiant comics. They asked him what character to pick to make into a video game. Suggested Turok, the Dinosaur Hunter, who ended up becoming a major property for Acclaim. Later brought Magic: The Gathering to Acclaim's attention. Now heads Starlight Runner Entertainment, which takes intellectual properties and develops fictional world around them.

He speaks here

Thought of the evening

Borrowed: media can be anything, anything is media.

user generated sight seeing

Via Faris via MIT Future of Entertainment conference this neato (!!!) gimmick called TagMaps powered by Yahoo! Berkley Labs which shows you the map of the world through flickr photos people take of the places you are looking for.

This above is from where I used to live when in London. Nice!

I want to go here!!!!

anyone got a free ticket? I'll do chores for it...

If you love gapingvoid

you might get the chance to see the man himself at netcamp. confirmation of his arrival here and details about the conference here. (he is not posted on the site yet which only goes to prove blogs are better at spreading the news)
wohooo, cannot wait to give him my card maybe it becomes the next drawing :-)

Just make more paths

I did a presentation a while back about UCG and how to get that and one of the simplest ways was to make your stuff more available to people. Dragos points out an interesting talk at TED about UCG and what it means culturally and how it should, therefore, be regulated. Find the talk here.

I find it interesting that it links in with my story of people trying to prevent pedestrians from forging paths through an alley and it seems to me that his reply to my then question is simply make more paths for them to cross through :-)

Iasi follow-up

Being in Iasi confirmed some of the assumptions that underline most of my discourse when I meet clients. First that you cannot talk people into thinking that you are cool and that making something catchy does not start from you telling your agency to make something catchy but from you yourself wanting to make something special.

Claudiu told us something about his now famous Budai beer and what stayed with me was the simplicity of the fact that they had never planned this to be a viral. They simply did something they thought would be fun.

One other thing that I thought was marvelous was meeting two lovely ladies with an interesting idea/deed. You can find the idea here and while my innate rejection of crowded spaces makes me think that more advertising is not really necessary, only better advertising, I have to say that I can see the win-win in this combination.

One other thing that we were talking about was the need to get to doing instead of simply talking about stuff. I suffer from the realization that the older you get and the higher up the "agency ladder" the less you get to DO things and the more you get to TALK about how to do things. So hearing about people actually doing things was refreshing. Does anyone have anything they really want to DO?


Iasi rocks

Met all these great people and had some cool local beer, ate American steak in an Irish restaurant with baroque curtains and then discovered something nice in the middle of nowehere. What we talked about later on...i'm bushed right now


I want to read this book

and own some of these, which have been voted on the list of best book cover design 2007. Link via


It's true, Bucharest should not be the norm for what we do. Things are so different when you go 410 kms to the north ... (listening to people in focus groups)

Improved corporate xmas gifts

This is the horrid time of the year when companies start sending you those god awful cards and relaxation toys, xmas decorations, wine bottles and xmas cakes. Maybe someone could try these for a change - paper automata from Cabaret Mechanical Theatre (via Boing Boing)...apparently they're also fun to assemble

Later Update: and wooden ones too :-)

Once said is not enough

Iasi is cold but welcoming - my first impression is that there simply are not enough cross walks although we drove over a few in the neighboring villages. But people seem to compensate by being very decent drivers and stopping to let you cross. there is this feeling of poetry in everything people say because of the accent (yes, I am one of those people who love it because it is nice for storytelling) and the anticipation of good food.

So, feeling generous I think i will not say look, i told you so, but simply direct you to read this pamphlet on coherence and what it means from Richard. Maybe this will clarify some lingering doubts about the much-brandished consistency "as in using the same picture all over the communication".


Preparing for Iasi

I am reading it up on Iasi blogs such as monoranu, maddish, daniel or naturally curious claudiu.

Thanks maddish for this great cat animation which has seriously lessened my determination to get a dog and not a cat...

maybe we can have a planner cat, planner cat, does whatever planner cat does .... tada da ta dada ....

Some reminders

This Saturday, which is tomorrow, I will be in Iasi for a planners meeting. Drop by Arte Cafe in Copou round 19:00 for a chat.
Also, just been told that APG Ro is fully legal (we have the documents and all) and incorporated so, yey!

blog personality

Pretty much a thought of the evening: I am going through a bloglife crisis. This changing of templates is a sign. If you experience the same know that there are no available decent templates I could find (in case you really want to change, check for yourselves here and here)


Life beyond television

I have not had TV since August now and I am finding it an interesting experiment in how brand communication might work if we were not focusing so much on making commercials.

Specifically I find that in Romania brands have no substance other than what is afforded to them by the communication their mother brands do outside the country and which we circulate via e-mail and blogs. There is little to no insight in brand universe if you rely solely on radio, Internet and OOH. We place too little money on making brand universes real in a tangible way, that is why, for me, non TV user now, a newcomer on the banking market in Romania, Millenium Bank is the most valid of all existing brands since they have placed a huge christmas tree in the middle of Bucharest.

There is a lot of OOH and expecially lighted logos on top of buildings but Heineken is up there with a clinic that fixes rectal problems so it's hard to decide who you like best based on size of logo. Locations where I like to hang out are poorly branded, if at all, and as i get my going-out info from aggregators online I do not see the branded posters. Basically without TV, brands have little to no depth to me in Romania.




Radu was praising the good sense of a labeling strategy by a clothes manufacturer some time ago, and it was only when running into some counter examples of my own that i realized how often we DO pay attention and get annoyed.

These are (forgive pics taken with lousy 1 MP phone camera) two products whose labeling and instruction methods strike me as appalling.

One is a medication prescribed for mild infections and the other is a face cleaning gel. The medication remarkably says, among others, that side effects might include headaches, nausea and PARANOIA WITH SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, while the gel suggests at the end of its 'how to use' that it can just as well function as shaving cream for men. Now, the more I think about it, the more it becomes clear that Yes, thank you, I would like to know in bold, fat letters if taking your pill is going to make me jump off a bridge screaming "they're after me" or if your cleansing gel is going to give me a beard!!

geesh ....

Recycle, reduce, REUSE

This great shop that Faris has the chance to go to almost daily, sells goodies in a different way. They're called Unpackaged and I will let you discover what the way is (hint, hint, say no more)

Ben, it seems that your talk was not in vain!

Thought of the evening

borrowed: managers trump companies, meaning that if you want to build a team, your people will stay not for the company you are building the team in but for the man/woman you are. I s'pose it should work in advertising too...
from here


Insurance craze

Romania is half way through the mandatory pension signature bonanza and some interesting trends are emerging. Talking to people on the street we got an inkling of the huge disparity between what we thought was the point and what they thought it was.

While advertisers were busy talking to them about a better future or, reversed psychology, about how they should not think about that, it seems that people were concerned about one thing: money. Slowly capitalism has crept in.

When you were paying it to the state you felt no desire to interfere because the state was not to be messed with, but since now you are giving it away to come company they had better show you some results.

I find it interesting that even the advertisers' agencies, who are after all just people themselves, failed to note the fact that we were ALL behaving as if private was state owned and no accountability was to be asked of it while all along the consumer was making a clear cut difference and asking for a different kind of rhetoric. Private pension advertising has treated consumers with the same indifference and superiority as if it was state-made. That is why the most frequent reply we to it was "it's plain silly"

Business and creativity

Advertising is an appealing business because it looks like easy work, lots of cash and glory. I mean not even movie making sounds this good; in movies you have to learn scripts which is, well, some sort of work. But in advertising you simply have to be talented.
Now, one thing I have noticed about advertising in Romania is that it is seldom if ever concerned about the business part of the work. There is no interest in knowing the boring details of the client's business, market share, distribution, all that crap. It's mainly about ideas and creativity. And again I wonder, and I seem to be doing that a lot, how can an industry that was born out of the need to assist business in getting better results survive if it loses interest in what it was, ultimately, supposed to help with?

Planners meeting in Iasi

Have promised I'd revive the planners meeting and I have the chance to do one in Iasi this weekend. So if anyone is interested in talking about planning and stuff I will be in Iasi this Saturday. Monoranu suggested Arte Cafe in Copou as a good place so drop by round 19:00 and we can chat :-)
(thanks M for the really nice description)

Against the current

Opposite to my workplace there is a huge alley where the city hall has been trying to plant flowers. Because the alley lies between the tube station and the several companies situated on the other side of the road and there is virtually no path accross, people cross through the to be-flower beds. This is not polite but makes sense because the companies' offices are every five meters apart and there is only one passage every 300 metres across the alley. Every morning city hall staff comes and digs out the area to prevent people from crossing and every afternoon new paths are treaded into the flower beds because people just cannot be bothered to walk an extra km to get to their workplace.
Pretty much like the silent struggle of companies to push services and products that people do not like. I mean, no one wants to pay to download stuff unless it's from Radiohead or iTunes and it's decently priced. But still there is the downloads police. No one wants to buy a cheaper phone with a subscription but telecoms force you to subscribe in order to get your iPhone cheaper. I will not buy content from my mobile if it is not truly new and worthy. So, iMode and Live! better buck up.
The question here is: is it worth fighting the natural impulse of consumers or is it more profitable to find a solution that will make both happy? I think Radiohead might have the answer. When will the rest get it?

Thought of the evening

The reason tabloids are so popular is because it's in our nature to hunger for drama. Education only smothers the impulse.


Something old and something new

This is old for me, favourite one back when I was a student

This is new for me, yeap, I know, no taste in music or at least no background but someone played it at the right time; they're both called the ground beneath her feet :-)

Challenger vs Leader

Had a talk a while back with a smarter man from London who was posing an interesting theory, albeit limited to the field of telecoms. He was saying that there is a challenger type of communication and a leader type of communication. These however, i felt had nothing to do with the actual market share of the company but rather with the company culture. You chose to be a challenger in attitude even as your market share entitled you to act/communicate as the leader.

Challenger communication was all about pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in your category, all about questioning the status quo and conventions. By choosing to be a challenger you pushed your product people to bring out better stuff, to improve existing stuff, to move more and to redefine things as the consumer knew them.

The obvious question was 'why'? Why would you want to be the challenger or act as the challenger when in fact this meant more work rather than more money placed on TV. The answer he seemed to say was simple: progressive consumers followed challengers because they associated the challenger status with better value for money and better brand universe for loyalty displayed (okay, rather fishy paraphrasing there). And progressive consumers were engaged and spent more.

So the 80/20 rules might actually work macro as well. Of 100% consumers you have about 20% who are progressive ones and who make up for 80% of consumption while the remaining 80% use basic services seldom and determine stable but minimal ARPU.

What will you do? Push a bit farther and get the big spenders or stick with the many with tight pockets?

Casinos in LV have found the answer and so has Virgin Airlines.


I am looking for candidates

I am trying to develop an ethnographic study of young people in Bucharest today and for that I need to get four people who are willing to carry around a camera and take pictures of everything they do. If you know someone who might be interested, please let me know.

They would have to be minimally reliable (not run away with the camera), between 14 and 16 and a social being (basically they cannot want to destroy humanity as a life goal)

Those willing to participate will get goodies and the chance to do something good. I don't expect anyone to want to do this for the latter part of the prize but we'll try to make the goodies interesting :-)

drop me a line here bogdana dot butnar at gmail dot com

"daca doriti sa revedeti"

Sometimes I think we all need to see this again

Not only for the magical music but also as a reminder that the world around us is moving so fast that there is no time for thinking it over. There is only time for BETA.


To remember always

Dan Wieden:

"The work comes first. And while it served as a great compass for many years, it has become the focus of much discussion and dissent of late. Well, it ain’t the holy writ. If you want to junk it, we can junk it. But here’s what insight the thing is based on. In big agencies, the client/agency relationship is the most sacred thing. The difficulty seems to be that the work then serves the relationship, and everything becomes political. And when things get political, the work suffers. And when the work suffers, the business suffers, then the client agency relationship suffers, and you suffer. In creative boutiques, the ego is supreme. The work is there to enhance personal reputations. If I said the work is wonderful, the work is wonderful. Shut up and sell it. Problem here: again, the work slip is, the client agency relationship goes south. When we say the work comes first, we are saying that things work best when everyone – client and agency alike – are focussed on whether or not this is great damn work. Politics aside. Egos aside."

Would be nice

to attend this
Have a look at last year's site for insight.

Some backlog

These are some of my presentations uploaded onto .1 (the former blog). You can check this link whenever you need to look at my slideshare account.

And we're back...

This is a .2 version of a blog I used to write about planning. My addiction to the subject and to blogging in general makes this "used to" sound silly since I deleted "the old one" only two days ago. The reason I did that is because I think of my blog as my home. And the last one had acquired the fishy smell of something rotten. That happened because I felt compelled to adjust my home/blog to my workplace - and that was a mistake because we all know that it is a mistake to mix business with family.

The new one is fresh and clean and it will work according to some simple rules:
- in English because Russell once suggested that it may be more useful like that
- all opinions and comments reflective EXCLUSIVELY of myself and my thinking and not involving my workplace unless specifically mentioned
- always exactly what I think :) even if it may seem detrimental to the profession, the work community or anything else (after all, I can do whatever I want in the privacy of my own home)
- cuss words are allowed so I will not use f***** when I mean to say fucking

Let's see how this works out