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.


Public speaking ON HOLD

... I spoke at DMF and later that same week at AdRevolution, a neat student event with more attendees than I had expected. For both conferences I had less than a night to prepare. For the latter one didn't even get the chance to say anything. My colleagues in the panel spoke valiantly about innovation using examples from all over the world which took up most of the time.

I felt bad both times because I felt I was wasting people's precious minutes without saying something that was truly useful. I mean, why go to DMF and praise a client in a roomful of non-clients? What could they learn from what a client had done right. They were mostly students or consultants themselves. Nothing to learn.

And in the innovation student thing, showing them pictures of what smart people do in other countries...will that make them smarter? Finding out about those things is as simple as click on to the Cannes website. Understading the thinking behind each and every one of the examples that was played would have required a whole day. In the end, had it not been for Lorand's case studies which helped make the point that innovation comes from knowledge and dilligence, we would have ended up with a roomful of people excited about what good ideas others have.

Anyway, I have decided not to do anymore speaking gigs until the summer. I have no time to bring any value to the people that listen to me and also being present takes up the time I could spend reading up on things that may bring value to me ... So please count me out of the upcoming ones, unless I have already said yes in which case i will try to attend.

Hope I'll spend more time on this blog also.


The counter-social effect

A while back I was reading about Metcalfe's Law which states "that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system". This essentially means that the more people there are in a network, the more value there is (wikipedia explains that having a fax machine may not help if nobody else has one but the more fax machines there are the more yours becomes valuable).

Now, one disturbing fact I have noticed about social networks (specifically FB) is that they function like that up to a point.

a) from a monetizing perspective, adding more and more friends indiscriminately literally dilutes the value of your friend group. When you add only key people, you can easily define who your network is and evaluate its influence. When you've added the friends of your friends' friends, all you can say is that your group is very large but not really defined. This means reach, not affinity and online people should look for affinity (this works pretty much like with blogs: currently, the more users you have the more likely you are to monetize your blog with advertising, BUT as interest grows, people are also wanting to target better so they move towards more specialized blogs with clearer followers)

b) from a personal perspective: the more people you add, the less interest you take in reading the updates or checking out what your group has been up to because you cannot relate to all those people. In my case: until now, I have added all and everyone who had asked. Today I hardly ever visit FB anymore because I am sick of learning about the breakfast and dinner plans of people I literally do not know. Basically, the more my network grew, the less interesting it became for me.
By contrast, on twitter where I have restricted my following list, I get more value.

so, hmmm....

Why it pays off to speak English?

Because when you type "social network" (in Romanian) in the search field for you get this (nada, zilch, niente...)

whereas when you type "social network" in, you get a richness of stuff

New interesting post on MRM blog

from their guest blogger. Click here to read more

2/21/2009 a threat to classical media?

There's a lot of talk these days about offline advertising budgets being moved to online for reasons of efficiency. It sounds like the heyday of online when all the money is being poured into display and special projects and so forth. Offline money going into online.
I did a small experiment on Twitter, asking what you could do with a typical offline budget online. Say you took the 700k / 6 weeks from offline and wanted to invest it in just online adv for the same amount of time. What could you do with 700 k (that is euro) in 6 weeks in
Most of the replies [click on image to read some] seem to suggest that it would be an overwhelming amount for the Romanian web. Basically you'd takeover the Romanian web without any regard to targeting, be it demographic or otherwise.
I will ask my media people to help me out with this but my first instinct is also to say that a lot would be left over.
So maybe the reason people think offline money is going into online is really that the offline money is so little it can only pay for online these days [sad sad smile]

Writing frenzy

I am being asked to write a lot of stuff these days and, surprisingly enough, it is actually coming along well. One piece in particular I like is about the death of print and what we can do to prevent it. I hope I get the okay to place it here to in an English version, but until then let me brag about the last lines which go:
"In the end, when all else has failed, and the gesture of leafing through has been completely replaced by the gesture of browsing, let us hope that we will at least find it less comfortable to sleep with a laptop over our faces...."

Why I don't go out

because I spend every minute of my workdays interacting with people, from 8 am to 10 pm. and then I need time to think

Andrei Plesu explains it here

"Singurătatea e materia primă a reflexivităţii şi a construcţiei de sine. „Dumnezeu – s-a spus – e ceea ce fiecare ştie să facă cu propria sa singurătate”. Nu se poate trăi prin aglutinare, nu se poate supravieţui interior în condiţia unei sociabilităţi perpetue. Sfârşeşti, inevitabil, prin a-ţi pierde chipul, prin a deveni un ins statistic. Orice om are nevoie (chiar când nu-şi mai dă seama) de episodul nutritiv al unei confruntări solitare cu adâncul şi cu înaltul său, cu terorile sale, cu portretul său, cu unicitatea destinului său."

[solitude is the raw material of reflection and self building. God, it was sai, is what each one of us knows to do with his/her solitude. one cannot live through bonding, one cannot maintain one's inner self under in constant sociability. one eventually ends up losing one's true nature, becoming a static individual. any person needs (even when we don;t realize it anymore) a nourishing episode of confrontation with one's depths, heights, faces, unique destiny.

via Tolontan


Digital Marketing Forum

This year's DMF has a good line-up and I am going to be speaking about a campaign that my colleagues at MRM did for Microsoft. I never expected to EVER do a speech about Microsoft except maybe to say "by contrast, Microsoft...." but weirdly enough, in Romania this company is a pretty interesting case study of how a movement of projects, initiatives and courage managed to run under the all encompassing mother brand and make it glide along easier.

It's called "Repurposing the mammoth" and it will be minimally about what MRM did and a lot about how a feat of courage like accepting that campaign contributed to switching some perceptions.

Do you guys feel that in Romania Microsoft is moving along more nicely? Because maybe it's just me... and then I need to switch topics...


Great guest blogger

Not here but on MRM Worldwide's Romanian blog. His name is Martin and he is a digital planner from Spain and has some neato ideas so you should totally read his stuff here and here



The nice people at asked me to be their editorialist for a week or so and write about whatever I wanted.
I said, pompously, in an e-mail to them that I was going to write something quite interesting non-crisis, back to the good old times etc. Naturally what came out was AGAIN about the crisis but they were nice enough to publish it non the less.
It is a brief reflection on planning and how it may be affected by our pre-crisis frame of mind and you can read it all here (I also got permission from them to republish it in English here but it will take me some time to translate it so...bear with me)
As an aside, the website looks really cool


via Wired

Japanese people have a sense of humor

This is what happens in Japan when people pretend to shoot other people or slice them with samurai swords...

via (as always)

Want to work in advertising?

Be prepared for this

“Have you ever met people who work in advertising? They are mostly good people, overworked, but entirely separated from reality. If they saw the negative comments here they'd laugh at us and say that we "just don't get it". They come up with the clumsiest of ideas and shower accolades of "brilliance" upon each other when in truth most is rubbish”

from here


I am part of the second group of people who think that there is a crisis and that we should do something about it (the first one, unless you already know, think the crisis is an artificial social and media construct and just ignoring it will make it go away). As such, I think, not as leisurely as I would like, about how to best coordinate the business that I run to keep it afloat and possibly profitable. Obviously having next to no managerial experience in times of crisis I might not always make the best decisions, but as it stands, I cannot afford to take on a consultant, do not have financial analysts to shower me with figures and have found no books on crises such as this one, to get inspiration from.
A while ago I met with an excellent friend of mine who works for the World Bank. I assumed he would be rather busy at this time of the year, what with the WB being asked in to advise on the crisis or provide funding or such. Well, no. he tells me there has been no attempt from the governing bodies to involve foreign institutions at all in dealing with this even though attempts have been made on the part of the WB to offer assistance. So I think of the people running this country, who are probably just like me – without experience, without the books, but who, by contrast, can benefit from the expertise of an institution who might know something more. And I ask myself why they don’t.
It is painfully obvious that this country is not going the right way for two reasons: thievery and stupidity. A lot of people do bad to get rich but more people do bad because they don’t know what to do and are afraid to ask (witness the recent Snake Island debacle – I mean, it’s crystal clear that someone was stealing but someone was really dumb). At this point it’s seriously fucked up to be stealing unless you’re starved but even more so to miss a good solution standing right in front of you.


APG initiatives

This year the APG in Romania is planning to put forward an interesting document to help the advertising industry with reviewing efficiency. This document, which is the brain child of Stefan Stroe and will be written in cooperation with a number of APG members, is a "how to" for the Effie competition happening every year in the ad industry. The work is aimed at unveiling the most common "tricks" in writing a brief and enabling both writers of briefs and judges of briefs to get a better idea of what a correct and persuasive brief is.
The first draft of the document is being finished this weekend and there will be a public workgroup in the coming two weeks to get input from any planner or person involved with brief writing interested in joining. I will come back with details about this soon.
APG is also planning to put together the first Romanian Battle of Big Thinking so anyone interested n helping with that is welcome to pitch in ideas.
Finally, we are looking for some smart and savvy student of communications to help us out with logistics and keeping on schedule. We cannot really pay anything at this point but you will get to hang out with planners, plan meetings, contribute to texts and manage a website - which all are good things to have in your resume.
For interested parties you know the e-mail ...


Roblogfest is ON!

Well, at least some good things are not affected by the crisis. The nominations for best of the best in the Romanian blogosphere are happening (12 more days to go) and Roblogfest 2009 is officially on.
Cannot wait to see what happens this year, with last year showing some indication that decent writing and specialization were beginning to be appreciated.
With 600 nominations so far I am guessing something is wrong with the registration procedure or people are simply registering themselves which is kinda silly but last year all was well when winners were unveiled.
Also, can't seem to find them this year, but last year there were some neato widgets of you wanted to support the event. If anyone has one for 2009 pass it on :-)

Financial crisis and regular Romanians

One local TV station and one local research company have asked regular Romanians about the financial crisis. Result? After five months of everyone screaming their gutts out about the crisis, only 40% of Romanians are truly concerned and plan to reduce expenses. What is most striking is that only 7% are considering working more (!!!!!!).
I mean, really...I am speechless.


Good documentay

This is particularly poignant because a) the towers are not there anymore and b) at some point he refers to falling from the wire as "the most beautiful way to die" and that instantly brings to mind the image of the "falling man" from the 09/11 crashes. It's an interesting way to see meaning rewritten by actual events.

What is a good FB app

The latest thing is to invite clients to make Facebook apps. That despite the fact that FB is really not that big in Romania (I know it seems like it is, but currently HI5 still kicks FB ass with over 3 mil accounts) and that apps cannot be mass launched so they still rely on the age old concept of "okay, everyone in the agency send this to your friends list". The thing is that seldom we see a good app which you do not feel like trashing the minute you see it. So some basics of how good FB apps work:
- they are interesting enought to pass along to your list
- they renew temselves as they get passed on
- they carry a "status buzz" = meaning they are interesting to read as part of your account updates (you really really do not want to see "Bogdana was hit by a snowball from whoever")
- they carry with them the power to generate subsequent updates which are useful

As such, I think only the Bday calendar is a good FB app so far :-)

DADA experiment

I am developping an uncanny fascination for Facebook. Not because I like it but because I don't understand what it's exotic attraction is. So tonight I did an experiment based on my belief that creation on the web should be meaning-generating. I read though tens of pages of Facebook updates to see what I might get from that. These are some of the random thoughts I had:
- penguins are funny but currently people seem to get a baroque infatuation with vampyres and this may signal that we have reached the end of a cultural cycle (no, unless you took Medieval lit you will not know what this means)
- the weather is not a substitute for awkward moments, it's a justified topic
- people are lonely
- people who get interaction offline are really in no way excused from seeking interaction online
- a lot of what we do online is driven by the desire to be someone else
- love and sex are still the hottest topics
- pictures are not special even when photshopped
- the only useful app is the Bday calendar
- dogs are good, cats are lazy, birds are outdated and carry diseases
- Jay-z is a God
- there are more stories in the world than there is knowledge and maybe that is why we have more telenovellas than good documentaries
- eating is another big passtime (corollary: no wonder, this is a country where urban spaces are designed to prevent anything but parking)
- people like to be weird in order to attract attention
- social network updates turn everyone into a Paolo Cohelo lookalike - meaning we're all two bit philosophers




We, meaning the board of APG Romania, are trying a sort of planners' meeting tomorrow at 19:00 in Amsterdam Grand Cafe. Currently we have only one confirmation and we are not sure there is a reservation but we'll try to be there and talk about planning and planners. If you wish to join, please do :-)


Yes we can reloaded

This cool guy pointed out this even cooler page where you can become part of the "Yes we can" video if you upload a pic of yourself.

Human nature is digital

I write extensively about "illegal downloads" "piracy" "DRM", stuff dealing with the new way of interpreting ownership brought on by the www. Today I read yet another post about a band deciding to place its music online for free to listen (and for 4 euros to download; and yes I know this band is largely unknown and this is good publicity in there but that is not the point). The point that came to mind was in connection with a sampling activity we are doing for a client. We give out small samples of their products and people love them and we run out before we can even have time to worry. And that reminded me of a Jeniffer Aniston movie where she would go to Macy's (BTW, huge layoffs there) and stock up on free samples of her favorite day cream.
My point is this: human nature accepts freely available stuff as normal, when not constantly and significantly prosecuted for doing so. We are preordained to naturally accept what is given to use for free. There is no moral imperative to do otherwise. There is only taught behavior which prevents us from not expecting everything to be freely available. That and the rule of law.
Now, with digital, things are as simple as they could be: everything is pretty much freely available and nobody is prosecuting to instill a different behavior (because the extreme scope and breadth of the digital world simply forbids it). Therefore, what some term piracy is just normal human nature doing what it feels is okay.
Of course, as in real life, I think that some control should be placed over this because, as mentioned before, human nature tends to think ALL things are free and this can lead to mayhem. But the thing is that law, as we have it now, is based on a quasi medieval understanding of ownership and needs to be reinterpreted to fit human nature and the way technology works.


CERF reloaded

Friday evening we got invited by Manafu to hear the people of CERF speak about what they were going to do to rescue the fair.
CERF is Romania's premier IT&C fair and it has been steadily losing relevance in an age where IT&C is gaining it. Congrats first and foremost to Manafu who is getting involved in all aspects of IT life in the country and adding value to anything technology related.
CERF, under the supervision of the new partners and following some research performed by Unlock, has decided to become more interactive and include some private meeting areas for B2B and some hand-on education with seminars and small events throughout the show for customers.
Probably the most controversial idea was to include an ECO section to the show which would focus on "environmentally-positive" technologies.
But first things first: I thought the core issue of CERF was that not a lot of people were coming by. This is, I expect, the only problem you can have as a fair because if you are not getting enough people in then you will not have revenue to put up the next one. So I question the doing of the research on companies who come to put up displays only. If the problem is that people are not coming to visit, we should be asking why that is. Two, everyone knows why people are not coming: because local tech industry has no experience in making a show of it, in putting up huge and interesting stands and transforming something exciting like games, new devices, new hardware into something that YOU CANNOT MISS. The fair is boring when, by definition, a fair is 80% about the entertainment value. As such the idea to have mini-events is not a bad one but it risks turning a FAIR into a conference which is not what a lot of people want to come see. Conferences are limited venues whereas fairs are big and inclusive.
One thought I instantly had was "why not teach people who come to display stuff how to make it grand and exciting, why not offer customizable stands, optional add-ons which would make the experience for the displayer and the visitor equally interesting?". The answer is simple, I know, investment is too big. Still I think that what the fair is missing is not more tables where people can sit at and talk, but more open areas where people can get excited till they shout :-)