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.

2/27/2008

About branded utility

I had some decent fun at DMF today where I spoke about the stuff in the ppt below and annoyed other people in the panel by taking pics.



pics featuring MPI's own Alexandra, Radu of Kinecto, Costin of IQAds and Doru Panaitescu.


We spoke about stuff that might happen (branded utility), how planning online is not at all different from offline, saw some cool case studies from Costin and a great demonstration from Doru on how online can create communities and awareness or at least buzz.

2/26/2008

Tomorrow I am speaking at DMF

Round 2 in the afternoon so drop by and see me if you'd like. I am speaking with Costin and Radu and Doru so amongst the four of us something nice should happen. If all else fails I will make funny faces...details here

2/24/2008

Inspiration

Because my brain is dead here are some things other people have thought about or done which are great





The cool guys at teknision

Speaking of those in-flight instructions, there ARE ways to make them fun



the combined Bud men of genius



and the really not so great lookalike from Starbucks

Forbes thinks my blog rocks :-P


I got this. I bet you they have no clue what my blog is about :-)
But hey, it's Forbes....

2/22/2008

No time for anything

Last night I taught my first APG Romania seminar. I thought it was a bit basic and a bit common sensical but I had a great time. Meanwhile, I have had absolutely no time to blog because I am working non stop. I will try to get back on track this weekend although it's still looking like work...
hell, I deserve this kind of tune right now



2/21/2008

How to write for emotion

Tolontan is Romania's most popular sports journalist and he writes Romania's best known blog. I skim through what he writes because it's a weird combination of football which I hate (I'm a rugby fan all the way) and media news and some politics so basically very much a man's man blog. But today he wrote this [only Ro, sorry] and, while I am not aware if he writes stuff like this often, I loved the sheer emotion behind th words. With blogs you don't get stuff like this too often because it's more about speedy reaction and being the first one to say something.

It's nice to have to read and think about something like that sometimes. The world is a bit more complicated than we think.

2/18/2008

Job openings


I have two more requests for candidates which I am posting on the right-hand bar. Just to make things clear, these are not necessarily openings at the agency I work for but can be things I hear about or that people ask me to post about.
so,
1. Media strategist: to combine a love of thorough research with an understanding of media sensitive brand communication. The ideal candidate will have some research background but also will have worked or is interested in working in a more strategy oriented position
2. Digital communication planner: needs to understand what CPTs are but also what makes brands shake it and make it online. The ideal candidate will be an all out lover of things digital, understand technology and how it can work for brands.

2/17/2008

Chicane in Romania


I have been waiting for this for a long time. I love Chicane and this is the first gig in Romania. Got my ticket two days ago...

Creative briefing

ON Thursday I am giving a training on creative briefing at the IAA. Wish I could say come along but unfortunately it's already booked. I will try to get permission to post the presentation here and in the meantime [also if you plan to attend cos it's good basics] you might want to have a look here for the basics of briefs (IPA creative brief database, slim but still...)

The new/old breed of communicators

For a while now I have been toying with a concept which was suggested to me by my clients and a presentation Serban of Headz did at Idea Forum. I try to hint to it in everything I write but I find it hard to put my finger on it especially because it relies mostly on something very close to the web - where everything is in beta and a blur - and very remote to the classical approach to everything - where all is about specific and specialization and positioning.
Today I found that KesselsKramer - an agency I admire since forever - has opened an office in London. This is how CR Blog describes it:
"KK Outlet, based at 42 Hoxton Square is essentially a new “multifunctional” office for the agency that will also act as a shop and gallery"
and these are some pics also courtesy of the boys at CR Blog.

Somehow this is what I meant: this is an agency which is not a typical advertising or branding or packaging or anything agency. It does what needs to be done to solve problems for its customers and also to create valuable content. It's more of a consultancy and it relies on the belief that common sense and talent can solve anything (and obviously a lot of experience in marketing as they have been doing this for a while now)

Read the whole article here

Twitter giving me headaches

For a couple of days now I am seeing the updates of a person who's following me on my Twitt page. Just one, not all 9 followers (amazing I know, how popular I am :-). I have no idea how to block this because, while she may be an interesting person to hang out with, Twitter is for my personal craziness and I'd rather not be confronted with another's on a regular basis. Any ideas?

2/16/2008

After party

Nothing to say.
Just love this video and the electropop it runs to :-). It's The Presets and the album is called Beams and is worth a listen




and then this is Those Dancing Days...and she could have easily been a soulful pop princess but thank God she chose to be this cool, alternative strong voice



and the last one simply does not belong here but I guess after Valentine's Day something like this lingers. This is Adele with Chasing Pavements. if you play them in a row, on low, on your headphones it makes for decent Saturday afternoon line-up

2/15/2008

Live from Feeder 3.0

Here I am at feeder's 3.0 relaunch ad things are just smashing. orange juice and absolut. macs from local istyles with wifi and just a bunch of happy people. got the dad of feeder one cool cake (heart shaped :-) ...

happy bday feeder

Feeder


is an amazing project started by the much too cool Igu and it's turning 3 today. So happy bday feeder and see you at Fabrica :-)

2/13/2008

Things I fall into

I wrote some words for this and this [only Ro] and also today got interviewed for TVR 1 [or 2] about Valentine's Day. I think the video might be online soonish...oh, dear

LATER EDIT: here it is. You need to go to about minute 22 to see me in all my glory (hihihihi)...man I feel so silly

Blinterviews - today research

Continuing my blinterviews series with a wonderful conversation I had with an equally wonderful young lady who knows more about people than anyone I know.
Adina has been head of operations with Synovate, one of Romania’s top research companies for a while now and she has seen her share of focus groups, in depth interview and statistics. So I asked her out to drill her about the new Romanian men/woman, the Romanian 2.0 so to say, but not from an exclusively new media point of view. After some brain picking this is what I found out.
Research is like dynamite. Use it well and it makes paths towards great new things. Use it wrongly and it blows up in your face.

Adina thinks that research is a means of getting relevant information from your target audience. But there are only a handful of people that understand research should be used as such – relevant information on which to base your subsequent decisions. She says that most often research is used for personal security reasons or the so-called “ass covering objective”. This, she says, is not specifically true for Romania but rather a universal thing because few dare to use research constructively. “It is now what you know but what you do with what you know that makes the difference” she told me, and she calls this actionable research, research that can be used to achieve useful conclusions.
There is no such thing as creative research. Only creative interpretation
Adina dismisses the idea that you can mess with research techniques. She believes that methodologies should be applied to the letter, and that creativity comes after you have the raw data – in portraying your results in an interesting manner that would make them more understandable to the client. She makes an interesting simile: “research is like making a stew” – to get the right stew, you need to have some basic ingredients. You can get creative on the final touches but to get stew you need to use the basic stuff anyway.
Romanians are essentially dichotomous in their attitude towards everything.
The quintessential Romanian is an open-closed type of personality. On the one hand he would like to be seen as the bon viveur, the jovial and open-minded fellow but on the other he is very insecure about what he does and what he is like. There is a need for opening and for integration but this is toned down by a fear of almost anything and an essential distrust for anything other than the highest authority. [My note here: this may explain why we get a lot of Romanians reminiscing about the communist era and saying that they had it better then; the entrepreneurial spirit of capitalism is upsetting to them as much as they would like to adhere to it]. Adina quotes a famous Romanian dramatist to describe what Romanians are like, they want to change everything but alter nothing. They are impatient for a new thing but, in a true Balkan spirit, also have an innate need for security [my note here: this may also be reflected in how often we tend to change political regimes but how often we tend to go back to what we changed because we cannot commit to change on a longer term]. Online, says Adina, this type of mentality is obvious in the blog/comment phenomenon, where everyone has something to say but a lot of the people speaking prefer to remain anonymous.
EU accession is changing things, slowly
Adina thinks that EU accession is slowly changing the way people act. It seems that there was a national tension that disappeared after we got the “confirmation” that we are acceptable to the rest of Europe. So now, Romanians try less, but in an attitude sense, meaning that they have a tendency to be more confident and assert their confidence when they speak about the future.
Trends in attitudes
I ask her about trends and she nods her head, she has noticed at least two very relevant ones.
One is about hobbies: more and more Romanians talk about hobbies and how they would like to get one. And they mean real hobbies, not just going out for a barbecue. They also explain this by saying how having a hobby sometimes gives you a reason to exist after your job. She puts this down to some recent happenings in our lives like opening of consumer credit, traveling at a smaller cost [low cost carriers], EU accession again.
Two, interaction with advertising. Adina says that people watch TV ads less and less or that they SEE TV ads less and less in the sense of internalizing and remembering a message. Three years ago, she says, people would be able to enumerate the TV ads they liked best and retell them in detail. Today they have vague impression about what they saw and they tend to mention other communication means like POS materials or non-TV communication.
Online
She tells me that she has been noticing more and more adults getting into messenger and Skype because they have relatives working abroad. [my note: for them internet is a tool not a place for leisure]. There is something about online that connects people and keeps them in tight communities beyond space and time and this is not only valid about youngsters who naturally ‘herd’ together.
For youngsters she mentions that there is a secondary dimension which allows them to bond with each other online without becoming too exposed. They feel secure behind the computer screen and they can act more naturally there than they would in public. Of course she thinks it’s a pity we are losing the charm of face-to-face conversations but since lots of us see the world around more like a jungle than a cafĂ© this is natural.

2/12/2008

Sadness

Today I learned that maybe this year is not really starting out right and that you simply cannot trust anyone. or maybe that I am naive and when I get passionate about something I forget to back-up against disappointment. But what is clear is that when you try to move beyond your regular 9 to 5 and make something happen, you cannot trust anyone. And that makes me sad. Today is just a sad sad day and I am starting to loose faith in more than this industry.

2/11/2008

READ THIS!

I mean this
you must, it explains what true creativity is

Just an HR issue

Has anyone noticed that the highest turnover of staff in Romania is at the cashiers' desks in supermarkets? I mean I know we don't spend much time creating a connection with them people, but when you are a freak like me, looking for comfort in stability, you do look at these things and let me tell you in Romania cashiers don't spend much time in the same spot. I also see a lot of "Cashiers wanted" ads and it got me thinking that maybe it has something to do with Romanians not liking to do repetitive tasks. In France, albeit having spent only a short short time there, the cashiers were always the same, the same in London. True, they were mostly Chinese women but still...

And this reminded me of an interesting conversation I once had with Jack Supple of Carmichael Lynch (Harley AOR) who said that they had a special floor in the agency for people working on repetitive accounts like airlines or frozen foods. He explained that it took a special kind of creative, very much inclined to crafting and detail to do this type of work and not get cynical and leave. He said it was very difficult to find creatives that took pride in delivering a flawless airline schedule because usually people in advertising are looking for the big ideas and leave the detailing to DTP.
Maybe the same is valid for Romanian cashiers. Maybe they all think they really are the next superstar. Maybe the same is valid for Romanian creatives :-)

DO marketing

We spent Sunday painting the hallway and went to bed with this rewarding feeling of having been active in ways other than exclusively with the brain.

And this got me thinking about something called DO and also about marketing. DO is an old project by KesselsKramer from Holland: they created a brand called DO with absolutely no product behind and asked people to create their own products that would fit the brand. The only condition was the the product was aligned with DO, meaning that owners had to DO something to it. Some DO products included a rubber-coated vase which you broke to make it your own, or a block of aluminum foil that you had to hammer into a chair :-)

Now, we are in the midst of conversational marketing. We talk, brands talk, consumers talk, there's a flurry of words being exchanged and the trick now is to be part of the conversation. But sometimes it's just fun to shut up and do, like people have to when they make their own Adidas in the adidas shops, or when they create new Lego models, or when they place a pixel on a pixelmap. I think there is some value in interaction and creativity unleashed, and maybe sometimes connecting with the consumer is not all about allowing him to talk back but about giving him the tools to DO.

LATER EDIT: I mean look at this below. Even advertising looks better when it's made with people who DO :-) (from W+K via Scamp)

For Monday mornings

People often tell me I should post more stuff about Romania :-). Well, this is the only Romanian band I ever had a connection with


2/08/2008

Mobile marketing

Doug Busk, VP of Industry Relations, SinglePoint: “There’s rich multi media options, full streaming video. There’s in-game ad options, there’s SMS, because its ubiquitous, but in an era of experimentation it takes a consultative approach to find what mechanism is appropriate for your target” at the OMMA Mobile Conference

Somehow, seeing how people react to videos on small screens I have my doubts about this. Anyway, have a read of the conference blog here and tell me if you don't feel like they have no idea what to do.

Hmmmm

There is always a thin line between what's effective and what's just stupid for a brand, I will admit to that. And I think that, what with Internet and a lot of content getting pushed around, we see that more often because sometimes stuff takes off and you have no idea why - it's because it remains on this side of the stupidity line. But sometimes stuff just bombs completely and that's when the line was crossed. And this is what scares marketing managers about Internet - having no means of assessing when the line is being crossed.

So to help frightened marketing managers with no nose for virals I came accross this company, BrightRoll, whose offer, as seen in these commercials (sorry couldn't find a way to embed them) is based on protecting your brand from nasty content. Now, I can understand that showing boobs can be effective and at the same time detrimental to your brand in a very tight and specific context where your audience is a bunch of Internet surfing 40 yos closeted lesbians, but other than that, this is simply stupid.

[And somehow from reading the company's presentation I also get the feeling that the real cuplrit is the advertising agency who did the ads.]

Thought of the afternoon

Somehow I feel the Internet is catering more to men than women. Like with this...chickipedia ????

APG Romania - 7 free seminars about planning

Big news people, APG Romania is putting together 7 seminars/trainings about planning in the coming weeks. There's 7 and they're absolutely free to be held in the IAA headquarters on Victoriei. For details go here and get registered asap here contact@apgromania.ro because it's first come first serve (I'm doing creative briefing so that will be funfunfunfun)

LATER (not very much later) EDIT: Already filled up with more people than we can manage. So registration is closed for now :(

2/05/2008

Jobs

Like Razvan, I get asked if I know good people who might be looking for a job. This time a friend is looking for a brand strategist to join him in a smashing branding consultancy based in Bucharest. Think you have what it takes, just drop me a line and I'll put you in touch.
Also I have created this Job Openings section in my sidebar where I will put positions when and if they appear. If you want to advertise yourself or are looking for someone in this line of work, let me know.

Special offer for Digital Forum

People, early bird registration for DMF is still ongoing and also, special offer for APG Romania members, you get 10% off if you have joined APG Ro in the mean time.

2/04/2008

Quad at any price

I think I may have mentioned total communications in this blog before - it is also known as quad play in Romania and it refers to an operator providing mobile and fixed voice services (you cannot say landline because it may not be landline), Internet communication and TV.
In Romania two companies are doing it, Romtelecom (Cosmote - mobile, Dolce - TV and ClickNet - Internet) and RCS/RDS (DigiMobil as mobile operator).
Now Orange has locked hands and offers with UPC to provide a combo deal where you get fixed phone and cable TV + Internet from UPC and a mobile subscription from Orange. Richard Moatt (CEO Orange) says in an interview for ZF that they are thus 'prospecting quad play' but they do not intend to get into TV too soon (Orange already has mobile, Internet and fixed in Ro).
What I find interesting is that quad or triple was initially considered because it was a cheap way to get more money by aggregating distribution and promotion costs - because you had one medium - say cable - and you used it to provide landline phone, Internet and TV. In addition, you also maximized admin costs - one network, one team of engineers. Now, if you invest in cable for your Internet but provide 3G mobile it seems to me that the optimization objective is somehow defeated.
Can someone explain why quad play is so important that you'd sacrifice your overheads and invest in additional technology (which ostensibly will increase your costs and thus your price and thus reduce revenue) and, in this particular case, also make a partnership with a highly criticized operator like UPC?

Digital Forum Updates









Digital Forum is shaping up quite nice. Check out the program here and the DMF twitts here. I am going to do a little presentation in the digital planning seminar so if you're up for some of my random loud rants come along.
Also I am really looking forward to what I know will be a great presentation about free sms advertising and also maybe some discussion on how advertising moves its content online.

2/03/2008

Okay

This weekend started out most crappy and ended gloriously. I have managed to reduce my task list from about 86 to dos to less than 10. I deserve this



and you deserve some good links
some trends here and here
and some tipping point here
as well as some creative madness here

Digital Marketing Forum

The second edition of DMF is in the making as Cristi tells us [sorry only Romanian]. There's going to be at least one interesting panel on digital planning so make sure you get your seats in advance.

Times are a'changing (?)

And high traffic websites in Romania too (?).
Two of th country's top websites have changed face. The new gsp.ro and the new evz.ro (funny, no, how well they also use initials to brand themselves online because really no one says Gazeta Sporturilor website anymore) have been widely commented upon by the Internet community in Romania and they cannot agree if they are good or not.

I have had a brief look at them and one thing that I find striking is the apparent limited advertising space they seem to have allowed for in the design. I am naturally wondering if this can be easily changed from the programming or simply that, from now on, advertisers will have to think of more "special" projects than slapping on banners and waiting for click counts. I would like that ...

Music for a tiresome Sunday

this is silly, sweet, crazy enough to justify a working Sunday :-)
a little bit

The power of personal persuasion

I just watched "There will be blood", an interesting movie about the beginning of oil prospecting in the US and I found Daniel Day Lewis' character an amazing embodiment of the power of personal persuasion and PR techniques.
As he tries to get the lands of an entire community, while hiding from them the wealth that lies beneath he gives this amazing speech about his oilman's philosophy.
The three tenets (thanks Victor for correcting my spelling) of his speech are: family values [because he works with his son and encourages all his workers to bring their families], care for community [because the oil filled land cannot grow wheat and he will drill for wells for irrigation], future generations [he will build a school], and religion .
The scene is so powerful in rhetoric and so filled with the landmarks of corporate social talk that it made me shudder. It reminded me of this [cannot embed it as it has been blocked] which was an Effie awarded campaign in Romania. As you listen to the two you might note the similarities not only in tone of voice but also in delivery and themes [please note I am not trying to dispute here the reasons of Gabriel Resources]


Faris moving further away

Well just got an out of office saying that Faris is moving to New York. Geeesh, getting him to speak at conferences will sure be tough from now on. Good luck, man, hope you'll be having fun.

2/02/2008

Movie bug

Caught it two weeks ago and now am watching three a night. All crap so far apart from "No country....."

But wait, "Juno" was not that bad because of this
[16 yos jogging in front of snow filled bleachers]
16 yo no. 1: "hey man, did you hear Juno McGuff is pregnant?"
16 yo no. 2: "yeah"
16 yo no. 1: "did you hear it's yours?"

precious :-)

2/01/2008

Brand universe




this is why I think men and rugby are just great. Also why I like adidas :-)

LATER UPDATE: The Six Nations cup is on right now! Oh joy!