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.


Frivolous thoughts about politics

Sometimes when I get bored I think about whether I should pay more attention to politics and get more involved in what happens in this country. Luckily I don't get bored that often what with the agency and all that.
But if I had the time to get bored and seriously take up a civic interest I'd end up in the most dismal place in the world. Because just like they do not make ads for a 30 yo, unmarried woman with a decent income - that's me, they don''t have a political choice for me either. I like smart, I like open minded, visionary, smart dressing, big smiling, enthusiastic, honest and common sensical. I like the Obamas because of this picture

and I like the silly and sometimes ridiculous Sarkozys because they are not afraid to pose like this (all goofy and laughing)

But what is there for me in Romania? The fashionista images of Elena Udrea in Tabu? The Kennedy inspired poses of the Iacob-Ridzis? The ludicrous every other pic and TV appearance of our younger generations politicians, all suited up, gelled up, spitting when they speak types?
Image is everything in politics but the image of our politicians is constructed by consultants whose understanding of the nuances of target audiences is small and biased. We have Dero politicians. And I am the y generation: i like brands that talk my talk. So, here's to hoping I never get bored in the coming years.

Rescuing print

Somehow I am getting a wiff of an underground lobby movement to revive the dying trade of print advertising :D
Can it be a coincidence that one our best and most respected bloggers is quoting one of our best and most respected creative directors - known for his love of [and exceptional talent in] the printed ad word - and posting a full article about why print is a great medium for advertising and only days later there's a second post about the same thing? :DDD

When I first read this I got sucked into the pathos of the writing and posted an enthusiastic tweet about it. Later on, I kept going back to it in my head and realized there was something amiss with the reasoning. It's an interesting train of thought to start discussing the virtues of print ADVERTISING when the very existence of PRINT is questioned. Mainly because advertising is not something that should be a reason to save print for. Somehow a move by, say, the IAA to preserve the existence print just for the sake of putting print ads sounds ludicrous. I mean we all loathe advertising right? Would it not be seriously silly to try to save print because we need to place print ads in it - especially since only 5-6 years ago everyone was complaining about the rape of print by advertisers when full pages of red or green ads covered the first pages of newspapers?
I fully agree with the need to have print but on the other hand I am finding it hard to understand why print needs to remain the ad volume driver that it used to be. Just to save jobs? Interesting train of though for a country where budget deficit is driven by the government's continued subsidization of industries that contribute with nothing. If ad people need print to continue to get a job maybe we should also continue paying miners to dig on in empty mines.

Okay, we need newspapers and magazines and we need them mainly because of two things: 1] the kind of reading experience they provide - more personal, more applied, quieter, more analytic and 2] the kind of editorial art they require - more diligent, more analytic, more in depth, more opinionated. But this kind of experience requires pairing with a certain kind of advertising, and the aforementioned article bemoans exactly the death of that kind of ads: comprehensive, introspective, smart, brand driven vs sales driven. And now, to be completely frank: we had stopped doing these a long time ago. Because Romania is a country of growing needs and growing bellies and these need to be fed fast and cheap and mindlessly. And that kind of advertising in those kind of newspapers and magazines would not do the trick.
So we really don't need print for print ads. What we really need is a customer base interested in both print AND that kind of print ads. Which we do not have. Yet. Or ever?
PS: and the art of copywriting is real because that letter made me jump for joy with enthusiasm although later on I questioned almost every line :D


The art of ageless advertising

There's hardly ever a time when I feel the urge to praise people in advertising, mainly because I also do advertising and I seldom feel I do worthwhile things. But today something I witnessed got me thinking about one essential quality that good advertising people should possess and which makes them truly remarkable: AGELESSNESS.

Think about this: as you grow older, your most inherent tendency is to derive insights from what is most familiar to yourself, not necessarily things like gender, but most likely things like age, marital status, kids or no kids, your circle of friends, your interests. It stands to reason that not having had a kid will make it difficult for you to relate to mother with kids and it also stands to reason that as you move around in an environment more than in another you will more often draw inspiration from the more familiar one.

And now, imagine a 40 yo creative faced with the challenge of talking to 15 yo and having access to true and original insights. And when I mean original, i mean NOT something that he himself has gone through as a 15yo but rather something which is contextually and temporally relevant to this 15yo. They will both have liked candy given out by a nice smelling mother, but can the 40yo relate to the lifestyle brought about by incessant texting? continuous contact via YM? In Romania more than anywhere, some generations have different lifestyles both socially and historically.

So, I tip my hat off to ageless advertising people. I think it takes an excessively flexible mind, like that of an excellent actor who can not only play himself in all the parts but rather play every part like it was a different person, to be able to stay tuned to the all generations we have to deliver adverts to.


The world tomorrow?

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.


I have spent the better part of my Sunday F9-ing people on Chatroulette. This is a service which randomly pairs you up with people all over the world for a one to one chat via web cam. I must admit that the experience is super thrilling, leaving aside the countless dicks (and that is not a name i use to call nasty guys) I have seen AND the horrendous fat guy f***ing a stuffed beaver toy.
BUT, I did get to chat with Max from Paris and Pepe from London and they both turned out to be super nice and told me loads of fun stuff about them and what they do.
Chatroulette is the brain child of a 17yo Russian who gets his server money from friends and family and whose sole intention was for a fun time with this 17yo friends. And while there's numerous drawbacks to the service, stemming mainly from the dumpload of freaks out there, I can see the potential of this becoming incorporated in so many things we do now online. Think about if you could make it part of Twitter or FB. Plus there's a dozen things I can think of that this could do for online dating (okay, apart from, again, the weirdos in lonely rooms).


Facebook sucks

No it does not, but I am reading this book and someone got famous for writing Dell sucks and I thought it may work for me too :D (the book is WWGD? and the person is Jeff Jarvis)

Truth is, Facebook does not suck YET and but it is dangerously close to that, what with the sense of intimacy and closeness between complete strangers getting to the point of the horrific. To me the online world is for collaboration (some great thoughts on that here) and I do not mind some occasional bonding with long lost friends. But it gets to the point where baby pictures show up and as they get wilder and wilder and more intimate in angle and comments, you begin to wonder "what the hell am I really getting out of this?". I am having a serious issue with the obviousness of progress of relationships among Facebookers. Okay, I got over the stage where hearing about every broken relationship from the status was a pain, I got over the zoophiliac tendencies of some application's users, I even understand why some people like to "like" their own statuses and also like every single status you post, but now seriously, why do we have to handle seeing pictures of your baby's freshly wiped buttocks or, worse yet, your wife's nipples being chewed on by the same baby. Come OOOOOOON people! I get the liberating power of networks but again, going back to my ill-fated presentation a while back, think about what this is doing to all but a small bunch of single women who sob at the sight of something they secretly wish for. I get parental pride, I do. But please if you've added me (and may I remind everyone that I have NOT asked for anyone to add me but simply courteously agreed to being added) and I am not your intimate friend, think of my motives as well for being on FB. They are NOT to see explicit pics of your family, but rather to stay in touch, get updates on people I think interesting, see what they think about.

I feel a sequel to that presentation coming on!


Social search - my two cents

The latest hype is all about social search and as always a competent overview comes from the NYT (read all here) which reviews yet another project with social search potential.

I have thought long and hard about this and somehow feel it falls in the same category of "can we make something that gives us irrefutable monitoring of how people feel about a brand online?". You know, the never-ending plight of PR people who have to monitor online and complain that existing tools work mechanically to interpret statistical recurrences of strings of words and combination phrases.

Truth of the matter is that, just like with robots who make cars, at some point you will need one decent human being with enough brains to put it all together. So while the monitoring systems may give you statistical inferences, it does take a smart guy to put the data together and get you an interpretation of what is really going on.
The same, I think, applies for social media and yet another good indicator of why this is are user reviews for travel destinations. Would you pick a hotel based exclusively on the number rating given as the average of all user ratings? Or, plus, would you pick it based on the first reviewer? I think not. I think that, if you work like me and need clear information, you will read ALL reviews and then make up your own mind. Or talk to a friend who was there :D.

Now with social search what can be the clues which direct you to the best person to answer your question? The NYT article counts " the expertise a potential answerer has about a subject, how closely connected the two people are, and how quickly the answerer is available" among the attributes. Yes, but these will have to be measured with what technology has: making approximations based on "code facts" like how many answers on that topic the person has, the number of times the answer has been "liked" maybe. And still this does not prevent the person from being a total ass with no clue or with a silly answer. Or simply with a bad taste in music or food. Just like it's easy to create webpages with clusters of links to make them seem more relevant in searches it's easy to add a lot of people as a friends list and spam them with crap messages about restaurants. Does this make you more likely to be able to give me a relevant answer on where to eat? Probably not? Does it increase your chances of being picked out as a possible respondent? Most likely yes.
So, the argument that a response is more likely to be relevant if it comes from someone I trust is a bit of a stretch for anyone with some intimation on how the pairing happens. "And our key finding is that whereas in the Library paradigm, users trust information depending upon the authority of its author, in the Village paradigm, trust comes from our sense of intimacy and connection with the person we are getting an answer from" say the social search people. True, but I don't get intimate with people social search make pop-up on my radar, but with people I follow for a while, whose style and accuracy of notes I appreciate. This means that every potential answerer for me would have to be pre-tested. By me :D
In the end, it will be a compromise between the amount of thinking that is put behind the search algorithm and the amount of common sense one has to weed out the trolls.

image courtesy of


The intimacy of new technologies

When I was in my junior year at university I got a scholarship to go to the US for a year and study comparative politics. For a year, I lived and studied on what at the time seemed like the most beautiful place on earth, the campus at RMWC in Lynchburg Virginia. Since the stipend did not cover any traveling I could not fly back for xmas so for a whole year my only contact with my family was the weekly [always on Snday at 10am] phone call from my parents and some emails I exchanged with my more computer literate friends. And one spring afternoon I also got an 11 page hand written letter from my mom. I remember sitting at one of the many lounge tables spread out across the campus and reading my mom's letter and crying my eyes out, not because she had news of any kind but because it was the closest I had ever felt to her and my people back at home. I still have that letter and every time my friends and I get into an argument about technology and how it estranges people, I think back to that letter and refuse to engage :D.

and yet... for about two months now my mom has a gmail account and has learned the ropes enough to be able to log in every now and then and drop me an email. She writes erratically, sometimes asking me questions to which I reply instantly and which she completely ignores, sometimes telling me stories she has already told me on the phone. And yet the thrill of seeing my mother's name in the Inbox is always the same. Because I know she writes those emails when she is quietly thinking about me. It's not like phone calls when she tells me about hers and dad's day but mostly about a more serene and more mature type of communication. I treasure these emails. I keep them in a folder alongside one special message I got while in the States from a very special person there. I call the folder "post" - like in Post Office, because they feel like real letters, close and intimate.

So, as far as the argument goes, technology may seem remote and intimidating but it's really how you what you use it for. I love getting an early SMS that says "morning :)" and I love my mom's emails. Because, irrespective of the medium, the sentiment behind the message is the real thing.


Technology: smart to stupid?

Talking to the girls last night about relationships (predictable, huh?) we came naturally to a weird theory, namely that human nature seems to be preset to self-preserve and aim for the lowest common denominator. We generally tend to look for calm, peace of mind, lack of complication, routines. These make us feel good: chemically and in any other way. You get married not because you think it's going to be a rollercoaster of emotions but because you think you can lead a quiet content lifetime with one person. You stay in the less paid job because it's less stress. You are friends with people like yourself and soon you are friends only with those who live closest :D

There's few people looking for aggravation and stress in their lives but weirdly enough it seems that precisely this strife for not-ordinary is the root of progress and innovation.

Now, technology is here to support our natural tendencies, right? I mean we have made all things technological to help us lead better lives and, by the logic above, to help us lead more peaceful, less aggravated lives. Which means what? We will invent moving chairs like in WalleE, machines which make any food we want, phones that pay for us, TV sets that move around the home, social networks to help us communicate, etc etc.

Sometimes I get concerned that, while it may seem like a brave new world, technology will only serve to turn us into turnips. I need to buy a pair of sneakers and start jogging :D


The Facebook complex

The cross-over from analogue to digital is a challenge for everyone. Mostly so for people whose interaction with Internet is profuse but whose understanding of the mechanisms behind is small. Think about this: they say in 2015 coding will be the new literacy. You will HAVE to be able to become code literate if only to manage your blog the way you want it.
Until then though people interact with internet via dashboards and interfaces without any knowledge of what goes on behind. And this creates something I called the facebook complex - meaning the belief that smooth interfaces and easy navigation are instant and accessible to everyone and every online project developed. The way this works is that people become immersed in a fully functional interface like that of a social network when the latter is at its peak: the more effective and perfected the interface is, the more likely it is to attract users. so the largest number of people will have seen a site at its best, but at its beta beta 16.0 version. which results in one thing: everyone believes that everything else should work as smoothly and as perfectly as their social networking site.
But nobody seems to think of how long it takes before you get to that beta beta 16.0 version and the expectation is for anything new to work from the beginning like THAT.
with what I do now, this is omnipresent. projects need to be delivered fast but they need to have all the community functionalities of a long-established content site. How hard can it be to connect a site to Facebook without retyping in your password? How hard can it be to save a sequence of films in a preset order over and over again and show them in a gallery? Surely this must take minutes to do :D
The sad part is that the coding side cannot win this one: people will always expect more faster and better. Asking for more time will not work online where millions of people may be doing exactly what you do at the same time and have it ready earlier.
to beat the FB complex, it's not the sufferers who need to change. it's the people doing the stuff behind the interface