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.


Umm, Perwoll is weird?

I have made a habit of not really talking ill about any communication running in Romania for the simple reason that I sometimes do not know the brief, and also that sometimes you may run into the same people you were dissing.

But, I am confused by the constant strangeness of Perwoll commercials in Romania. Ever since they have started advertising, their TVC have been a source of bewilderment for me. Please consider:

1. Three young people in a park, two obviously a couple, one waiting for a girl who comes wearing the most sparkling, cocktail gown EVER and with a bottle of Perwoll in her bag. Underline: park, cocktail dress, fabric softener in bag.

2. Flamenco dancer, young, older woman in public talking to younger woman. The English version makes it clear older woman is younger man's mother. Romanian version, as I recall, does not. So you have a conversation between an older woman who washes a younger man's clothes.

3. The culmination: club, man with young woman dressed in pink sweater, they both ogle young woman dressed in pink tight dress, man ends up suggesting to tight dress woman to teach him how to wash while other young woman takes out a Perwoll bottle and then remains...well, ignored. So, club, two girls, same color clothes, one with Perwoll bottle in the bag.
I mean, is it me or are these simply NON SENSICAL? What is the relationship between the man in the club and the first woman? Is the older woman the young man's lover or mother? AND WHY ARE THEY ALL CARRYING FABRIC SOFTENER IN THEIR BAGS IN PARKS, CLUBS AND THEATRE HOUSES?


Twitter conundrum

I am having a bit of a Twitter situation here. The story is this, I do not want to follow a lot of people on my Bogdana account simply because I use that for a bit of microblogging aside from the regular silliness. BUT I do want to know what the twitter Ro community is doing so I would like to follow a number of people and see what they talk about. I also do not want to start a second Twitter account where I only follow people (except at this point it seems like the only reasonable solution) because I already have enough places to log into. I cannot install a desktop client for Twitter because I alternately use two different computers so I would need something like an online version of TweetDeck ...
so what should I do?



A while back I was writing this about Rourke's newest. I watched it and it's exceptionally good (beats the crap out of Revolutionary Road or Vicky, Cristina whatever).
So, yes, do go watch The Wrestler.


I have been counting the times clients have asked me to do something that will engage the customer with the brand. Lots. And by engagement they mean getting the customer to do something for or with the brand, to create something, send something, read something. I have this inkling that maybe consumers do not spend enough time or interest on brands to justify all of this interest in engagement. So, I did a little test on myself and a friend's 11 yo. I tried to calculate how much of what we do daily is driven or inspired by a brand.
In my case, a paltry 7% most of which revolves around my Apple gear which requires upgrades, beautification etc etc, or Internet brands (the latest being my quest to find a good way to donate because wikipedia had asked me).
My friend's 11 yo however spend even less time engaging with brands. Even if they are human brands like the pop singers she seems to love. Actually what she does it engage using brands rather than with brands. She does not do things with brands, but to brands meaning that brands become part of her daily cultural experiences. She uses brands visual ID to make her own decorations, she cuts down logos, pieces of ads and makes collages, etc etc. She takes part in contests when they give her something she needs. It's all about her being free and unconstrained in her creativity.
So, somehow I think that all this frenzy about engagement for a bunch of consumers who really spend minimal time caring may be just a waste of time. Because really, there is not enough time in the day to become involved in all the things brands expect us to do.

SAVE the public TV channel

I think I remember writing about the subject of a public TV broadcaster, in the sense of a network of TV channels funded by the people and with a public agenda, much like the BBC of the UK.

Last week a piece of news caught my attention, which said that TVR1 the main TV station in the Romanian PBS has fallen in viewership behind most of its competition (even new entry Kanal D) (and yes, I know about this). I think someone should note that this is the conspicuous result of a string of actions to mess with the management of TVR 1 which culminated with a pathetic and silly "public stoning" of Tudor Giurgiu, and the ridiculous appointment of Alexandru Sassu to the position of GM. A good friend of mine would say at this point, why call Giurgiu a success and Sassu a stupid failure. I have no data, no exact knowledge of the background of the two, no understanding of the amount of good or evil in real terms, they may have worked upon the TV station. And he might be right. BUT what is painfully obvious is that while on Giurgiu's time, TVR 1 managed to raise itself from the dead and become something my generation might consider talking about with excitement (i am 29 BTW), for the past 1 year I have on occasion turned to TVR1 only to switch back to Discovery in horror at seeing some of the least successful faces of Romanian TV paraded on TVR 1 in prime time.
Under Sassu's management TVR 1 has managed to more than revert to the grandmom programming it used to dish out under Giurgiu's predecessor but dive even deeper into the inconsequential and badly produced. It has launched the mauve TVR3 which runs badly on most cable operators and is wedged on an invisible frequency somewhere between MiniMax and Euphoria only to broadcast unknown shows, B-rated movies and grow more and more unknown everyday from a lack of promotion (why launch something you have a hard time managing and advertising??).

I am the middle class and peak of life of the Romanian society and there is nothing on our PBS that is of interest to me (not even the belated running of Grey's Anatomy).

Now, I am a strong believer in the need for a strong PBS. I think that is shapes the way a nation sees things, it can open minds and lead ways (someone said, in a radio program, that TVR 1 is the only TV station which DID NOT run live coverage of the Obama inauguration and rightly asked "is that even NOT of public interest? or not public enough for us Romanians when it was for most of the world?"). And I am currently asking myself, is there anything we can do to make this better? Because while I am not sure we might get better with some decent programming hammered into our heads by the local PBS, I am convinced we can only get worse without it.


The "monetize" level

Some thinking going on lately about when it is time to think of what you do online as something that has value for others and can create value for yourself. What got me thinking about this was that one good friend wrote a congratulatory article about a pizza place and I got a question (probably a joke, but got me thinking) on Twitter about some congratulatory remarks I made. In both cases the underlying assumptions were that we, my friend and myself, were not doing that REALLY because we thought it was true (the pizza was really good and the tweet thing really interesting) but because we had something to gain: money, favours etc.
So the questions arose: when exactly does what you do online begin to gain some measurable value? does 500 followers on Twitter make me a valuable resource for messages? Also, why, after a certain limit, any personal opinion becomes challenged as "paid for" or "biased by interest".
What interests me here is the measurable level at which your opinion stops being taken at face value and become a political gesture (political meaning carrying an agenda).
.... hmmm, food for thought


I want to watch

whoa, this could be rrrreally good or rrrrrrrrrrreally bad


Internship for digital copy

I have posted an internship offer for a position of digital copywriter here. If you all are interested, please feel free to participate


Promised and now delivered

I think I may have said I'd post some pics from my trip in Madrid.
So here :-)

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.


TechCrunch awards

are called the Crunchies and have recently announced winners here

Mystery shopping and politics

Growing up I had a limited interest in Romanian medieval history, especially since they made us remember the exact dates of the reign of this or that king. What stuck with me was the story of Vlad the Impaler and his test for thieves and also a custom of most all Romanian kings (also to be found in legends and fairy tales): mystery shopping. Basically, kings would dress up as peasants and mingle with traders and craftsmen, drink it up in pubs with travelers from all regions and come back with insights on how the country was faring. The trick to this was to dress as peasantly as possible, to rough it, to have as few noblemen with you as possible, etc etc: basically the essentials of mystery shopping.
As we grow more civilized and, ostensibly, wiser the whole "checking in" with the masses by politicians has become dumber and dumber. The essential of a "immersion" these days is having as many journalists as you can with you, riding in in huge black Mercedes cars and basically introducing themselves as "the mayor, the MP, the minister" to everyone. This means that the "mingling" has changed objective: from gathering insights, to getting exposure. It relies therefore on the assumption that ordinary people will be appreciative of "personal appearances", whereas in the case of mystery shopping, personal makes it ineffective.
Do I have a point? I think immersion should be used to get insight and not popularity. Popularity comes after insight, there is a linear relationship between all of these and TV stations need to stop wasting money on filming politicians in market places.


Charity made hard

If you log into wikipedia lately you get this huge message from Jimmy Wales himself asking for money (strangely enough just read somewhere that they have a new board of directors and a new chairwoman with nothing better to do than spend about 6 mil euros they have already raised). Anyway, what I am mainly concerned with here is that even if I wanted to make a donation, I would have to go through a lot of trouble.
Romanians do not have a charitable streak - obviously, we have been without money for such a long time we do not have the drive to give it our freely. But even with new stuff opening our eyes and with truly emotional causes coming up, it's really effing hard to make a donation. Online, it's basically impossible unless you want to go through the hassle of being rejected time and time again by PayPal because you live in a country with an awful record.
So, my question is this: why can't there be an integrated donation system. Basically like PayPal makes your purchases possible, this system would make a summary of all existing causes and donation requests and you only needed to log-in, make an account, register a card and donate whenever and wherever you felt like.
I want to give, really, but I don't want to try really hard to give.

PS: if there is such a thing, direct me to it. Jimmy needs my help.



Feels a bit strange to be writing about this in the midst of all of this turmoil, with Gaza, and people losing jobs, and people committing suicide over losing money and all.

BUT, as I dive into the recesses of the WWW I am getting this overwhelming feeling of deprivation, of being cut off from huge chunks of happenings, cultures and events which we can only feel our way around but never really get the full force of.

Everytime I meet my friends in Brazil and London, everytime I read the profiles of Onion readers in the Onion personals, everytime I look through the reading lists of Faris or Russell, and read them casually mentioning books they may have picked up while browsing, everytime I read the NYT movie reviews I feel deprived. Because with all the vastness of knowledge and openness that Internet is giving us, we still live in an area, in a region, in a country where there are no levers to make things readily available.

We need to call aunts from the US to get movies, to beg there is some nut uploader who thinks of indie movies when snatching that cam in the cinema, that the post office will not mess up if you order from amazon, to look for bootleg copies, to drag on colleagues who travel abroad to bring stuff. We are deprived. We used to be deprived of food, clothes - my mom did people's homework to get money to buy jeans, of basics. But now we have them, and somehow we are stuck at the stage where we enjoy being satisfied with the basics.

We are deprived of movies, books, exhibitions, music, series, posters, socks, boots, bags, stickers. And, OMG, are we deprived of decent TSHIRTS and of the casual discovery of good things. Because it's impossible to browse when you are deprived, discovery is not possible when you do not have the basics. We read memoirs of advertising people who have died a million years back, who speak of coupons and have never even heard of the Internet. We go to conferences to see people to invented marketing back in the 70s. We are catching up with decades of stuff and this prevents us from moving forward. Because we are deprived.
It took me two years before I first heard of them to be able to casually go and buy a gella skin.
Deprivation. It's stupid.


Looking back on holiday

This is probably the best pic ever, but if you want to see more go here


New face at Apple

Quick note: I am trying really hard to like Philip Schiller. And I cannot. Please someone suggest some video to help me out with this.

A good song before the week starts

Serving suggestions: put on warm socks, get a cup of hot chocolate, snuggle up on the couch next to that person, push the tips of your toes underneath the old pj, let the shoulder touch the shoulder and then ignore the constant typing and focus on the lyrics :-)
(sorry cannot embed and this is the best version I found)

My no.1 reason why 2009 IS going to be a better year


Online piracy

I have been reading a couple of things about (illegal) downloads (among which Lessig's Free Culture from and talking to a bunch of friends about (illegal) downloads. I am a constant and heavy user of peer to peer and torrents and have absolutely no qualms about using Vuze to get any movies or music I need from the Internet. I play everything on my iPod. So to me the concept of DRM and copyright is pretty lax simply because I find Internet has challenged ownership to a significant degree and it is not Internet who needs to "change" the way in which it operates but we need to reconsider the way we share and own.
But I am less equipped to express this so I was excited to come across a book by Cory Doctorow (google him, you'll find out soon enough he's worth it) which he prefaced with some thoughts about sharing in the age of Internet. The book is "Little Brother", it's free - you can get it from here - and has a cool story about another favorite of mine, Neil Gaiman, who, when asked about people sharing his books, replied by saying that he had never discovered an author he liked by going and buying a book but mostly from books shared from his friends. Following on that point, Cory goes on to say that for an author getting awareness is more important than forcing sales.
Have a look at the download info and the preface because they are true eye-openers.

... (2)

Last year I was writing this as my 2008 resolutions:

"1. go to bed everyday feeling like i have done one thing right

2. give more attention to the people who matter and less to the things that do not
3. turn my blog (and my profession) from just planning to communication design (thanks you know who for all the advice)
4. figure out how to buy, accommodate and raise a dog
5. draw a huge mural on my bathroom wall"

In retrospect, these may have been a bit too general and thus make me unaccountable to myself for doing them or not. Objectively, I think I may have achieved no.1 by about 76%, no. 2 by about 20% - meaning, I missed utterly on doing that one, and completely coped out on no.5. I do think that I am happier professionally and have grown, which makes 3 an almost hit. I did do all the research and preparations implied in no.4 although I did not get the dog which means that technically I have completed no.4 but actually I missed out on the core.

So, for 2009 I am being more specific...a lot more. Here goes:
1. Get a second tattoo, my beagle and spotless bathroom tiling
2. Spend at least one week every quarter in another country (a new one)
3. Make a meaningful commitment to a person: friend, lover, pen pal, hobby partner, whatever.
4. Create a time-plan for my mom and dad (moving, new house, retirement)
5. Keep the business afloat.
6. Re-cultivate my planning roots.
7. Work out a solution for my blog/s – how many, in what language, what for.
8. Learn or teach myself something new ( and be good at it)

so, there, that should make for easier evaluation next year. Wish me luck and if someone feels like this is a good tag for 2009, take it away and be specific :-)