Over the Dandruff

Thoughts we often overlook

17. Personalizing Presents

You have to hand it to J.C. Penney. The clothing store, which is been reshaping its image for the last year, is set to launch their holiday campaign that revolves around the tag line “Who’s Your Santa?” This year, J.C. Penney is adding a personalized touch to the way we exchange presents during the holidays.

QR codes have been making appearances all over and have become a popular marketing tool. J.C.Penney has decided to get a little creative with the relatively new technology by introducing the “Santa Tag.”

After buying a gift from a J.C. Penney store, the shopper receives a “Santa Tag,” which has a QR code on it. The shopper can then scan the QR code and follow the instructions to record a personalized message for the person the gift is for, slap the “Santa Tag” on the present and send it off. Present receivers will be able to scan the code to see who the gift is from and then respond via the same QR code on the present.

I know, it’s a little sad. We are relying so much on technology these days that we can’t say thank you face to face or write a meaningful thank you note (which are sadly going out of style.) But it the digitally driven world we live in, this clever use for a QR code provides some personalization during the holidays that few believed could come from such a medium.

It will be interesting to see where QR codes go from here. Will they fall under the fad category or continue to adapt and innovate, allowing it to compete with other technologies such as Near Field Communication?

The “Santa Tags” will be available in J.C. Penney stores beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15.

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

16. Bud Light Set To Go Platinum

Anheuser-Busch InBev is set to change the light beer market with the launch of Bud Light Platinum in early 2012.

The new brew will boast a 6% alcohol by volume (ABV), a sweeter taste and have 137 calories per can. With less calories and 1% more ABV than Budwiser original, and the all important “Light” in the name, Bud Light Platinum seems poised to take mainstream light beer where it has never been before; the increasingly popular craft beers market.

A-B InBev and MillerCoors combined for 66.8% of beer shipments last year, but also watched their sales drop by 3% last quarter as the booming craft beer market has saw sales rise 15% during the first half of 2011.

It’s a trend A-B InBev could not overlook as they bought Chicago-based Goose Island Brewery for $38.8 million earlier this year. Many were surprised by the acquisition because of of A-B’s Shock Top line and it’s success competing with Coors’ Blue Moon, but the big brewers have yet to conquer the ever-growing craft market.

As A-B InBev’s third addition to the under-performing Bud Light family, Platinum hopes to make a big splash in the world of light beers. After lackluster attempts to cash in on the growing craft market with Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Golden Wheat, craft connoisseurs are finding attempts by big brewers to enter a small and independent brewer’s market oxymoronic.

To help bolster it’s Bud Light image, A-B plans to invest major money behind Platinum for a spot during the 2012 Super Bowl. Platinum seems to be taking a different aim then Bud Light Lime and Golden Wheat by targeting the late-night party crowd rather than the hard to please craft beer drinkers.

There has yet to be an agency selected to do the Super Bowl spot for A-B InBev. Bud Light Platinum will replace Bud Light Golden Wheat as it has struggles since it’s expensive launch in 2008.

November 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

15. Deadlines

Deadlines. Just the word alone gives me the creeps.

Some have the ability to crank out their best work just before the deadline is up (I’m jealous). For many of us our best ideas come when our mind wonders, but it’s a time-consuming process.

Don’t get me wrong, obviously deadlines are necessary or nothing would get done. It’s the time constraints that really grind my gears. I’ve written about time and it’s invisible omnipresence. It’s a crazy concept that keeps us organized yet causes an unprecedented amount of chaos.

While hard deadlines serve an important purpose, I believe that a little flexibility can go  along way. That extra fifteen minutes meandering around the park could spark an idea that can make your work amazing

So, when you find yourself between a rock and a deadline keep this in mind:

“Creativity is not inspired by the pressure of time but by the freedom, the playfulness and the fun.”

 

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

14. Branding a Better Life

The consumers have spoken. They’re fed up.

They’re tired of being smothered by brands that simply care amount making a quick buck. Most people are over brands and wouldn’t notice if half of them disappeared. They don’t care for them because, well, the brands don’t care about the people. And, let’s face it, the consumers are right (as always).

The time for a change has come. Brands must emphasize a focus on benefiting the consumer because The Brands That Will Survive Are The Brands That Make Life Better.

The emphasis on humanizing your brand has been trending for quite some time now; it’s nothing new. But people are stubborn and they don’t want to hear it.

Well hear this.

The Meaningful Brands survey, conducted by Umair Haque of Havas Media, spoke with 50,000 consumers around the globe and found that a mere 20% of the brands they interact with positively impact their lives. This is quite staggering considering that over half of those surveyed would reward companies that benefit their lives by shopping that their stores and are willing to pay a 10% premium.

So, what is this all telling you? Quit being so damn stubborn and humanize your brand.

Focus on impacting your audience’s life rather than tossing another few shekels in the piggy bank. Just be honest and transparent. Sure it sounds easy, but the execution has to be echoed from top management to the mailroom guy.

Consumers are smart. They realize that there is no reason to benefit a brand with their business if that brand doesn’t improve their life. Some brands may retort with a childish response like, “Well if the consumer won’t benefit us why should we benefit them?”

The answer is simple: Brands rely on people. People do not rely on brands.

This isn’t to say that people are incapable of brand loyalty, obviously they are (see video below). This means that for people to rely on brands, brands must impact their life for the better. Consumers know what they want; a human connection. Instead of being told why they should buy a given product, people want to be inspired by a given brand. Once the audience sees a brand using it’s super-human powers for good, they will buy into the brand and never forget how it changed their life for the better.

 

 

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

13. Tick-Tock

“The Present ~ It’s the gift we give ourselves.” — Scott Thrift, inventor and creator of m ss ng p eces.

We are all victims of time. We are defined by it. 18 years of time and you can vote. 21 years of time and you can legally drink. Its omnipresence and invisibility make it the eighth wonder of the world.

Time escapes us. It didn’t used to. We used to have all the time in the world at our disposal. Now, we are at the disposal of time. How often do we use phrases like, “Wow, that week flew by,” and “I can’t believe it’s already November.” Time meshes everything into one big blob of confusion and chaos. Summer is Fall, which is Winter, which is Spring. The years fly off the shelves, but are never restocked; fading from our rearview mirrors.

We don’t remember the most enjoyable moments of life until they have pasted. We fail to live in the present because we are so concerned about the past and how that will shape the future. The clock is always moving; tick-tock.

The Present aims to tackle this issue head on. This innovative clock design has an emphasis on, well, the present. There are no numbers or dashes letting you know precisely what time it is. Colors indicate what season it is and the hand of the clock takes a full year to complete a single rotation.

Just as summer doesn’t change to fall in a day, you cannot see the clock hand move on a day-to-day basis. This forces us to be invested in and embrace the present instead if fighting time.

This KickStarter project has received over 300% of their $24,000 dollar goal to fund the project.

The idea of “living in the present” has taken off and is being celebrated across the globe. It’s focused on appreciating life right now, seeing opportunities that you may normally overlook and capitalizing on them.

Carpe all Diems and be present in the moments that matter most.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

12. ‘Movember’ Madness

What’s not to love about November? Football is here. The start of the ski season is near. And, well, basketball should be just starting up. Families reunite for Turkey Day and Holiday Spirit echoing around the world.

Now this glorious month has been taken over by a great cause, “Movember.” Movember is a month long campaign to raise awareness and funds about men’s health. The funds raised by Movember in 2011 go directly to programs run by Movemember and their major men’s health sponsors, LIVESTRONG and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

After registering on http://www.movember.com, “Mo Bros” create a “Mo Space page” where they can add pictures, the “Mo Community” can rate the best ‘stache and donations can be made. Beware, this is no half-assed movement here, there are rules.

Started in Australia in 2003, Movember has become international. There are Facebook pages that range from “Movember USA” to “Movember Denmark.” According to their website, the Movember campaign has over 1.1 million men and women involved worldwide and has raised $174 million dollars in eight years.

There are amazing stories on Movember TV that will make you want to grab the ‘Stache Wax and join Mo Space.

 

Another great movement making the world a better place.

November 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

11. Thinking Outside the Nonexistent Box

We’ve all been there. The deadline is approaching fast and you’ve got nothing. You try to change your perspective, but it just won’t click. The mental blocks keep piling up, then tearing you down. You throw a pity party for yourself, hoping that someone will feel bad for you.

Stop it!

No one feels bad for you except yourself. We are all capable of creative thinking, the barriers that shelter our ideas are figments of our imagination. They are normalized by a society that loves to feel bad for itself.

It’s actually quite oxymoronic. We create something that blocks our creativity. Now that’s creative.

Lets look at 10 examples of phony mental blocks.

  •  Trying to Find the “Right” Answer: There is always more than one.
  • Logical Thinking: Life is illogical, think of it that way.
  • Following Rules: “Quit worshipping rule breakers and start breaking some rules.”
  • Being Practical: The best ideas are often the craziest.
  • Play is Not Work: “You’ve heard the expression ‘work hard and play hard.’ All you have to realize is that they’re the same thing to a creative thinker.”
  • That’s Not My Job: Be an explorer. “It’s those who happily explore completely unrelated areas of life and knowledge who best see that everything is related.”
  • Being a “Serious” Person: In the end we are all fools. “The persona of the fool allowed the truth to be told.”
  • Avoiding Ambiguity: “Ambiguity is your friend if you’re looking to innovate.”
  • Being Wrong is Bad: Learn from mistakes, but never repeat them. “Thomas Edison was wrong 1,800 times before getting the light bulb right.”
  • I’m Not Creative: “Denying your own creativity is like denying you’re a human being.”

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10. Siri Thinks Different

Look out! The age of a personal assistant in your pocket is upon us.

While users of the iPhone 4S begin to discover the mind-boggling capablilities of the new Siri technology,  the search market is getting bombarded with questions about a shift of power.

Google, which is currently used in over 65% of all searches in the U.S., has become a staple in the search market and a household verb, “Google it,”  used when we desire more information.

 

 

To quote the great Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.”

Siri is improving the way we search for information by bringing humanity to the digital world. Instead of commanding your phone for what to do you state what you are looking for and technology takes over from there.

While some may dismiss Siri, the fact remains that the new technology poses a serious threat to Google. It’s not like Google has failed to look into voice-command search, it’s the fact that Apple was able to humanize Siri so that we communicate with, not command, our smart phones.

I know it sounds weird now, but give it a couple of weeks. When new iPhone 4S owners begin using Siri on a daily basis it will explode. Lord knows that the updates for Siri in the coming months will make the technology more precise.

While users enjoy a more convenient lifestyle, they won’t be wondering, “What search engine is my Siri using to get this information?” It won’t be from Google.

Think about all the times you’ve “Googled” football stats or lyrics to a song strictly to shut your buddy up. This will become a distant memory. Siri will take away searches from Google, which will result in a loss of revenue, simply because it is more convenient. The technology is right there and ready to roll, straight out of the box. Siri has made an already easy to use product even easier. All you have to do is say the word.

Apple, the ball is in your court.

October 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

9. Near Field Communication

For the creative strategist project our group has decided to focus on Near Field Communication (NFC).

NFC is a relatively new technology that figures to make a huge impact on Advertising; Razorfish named it as one of the five technologies that will change business.

Image recognition technology, such as Google Goggles or QR codes, and NFC compatibility have made Smartphones the ultimate tool to have intimate, one-on-one communication between a brand and it’s audience.

So, you might be wondering, “How does this work?”

For the image recognition technology a smartphone user simply needs to hold their Smartphone to a QR code or outdoor advertisement and they are connected to a page the brand has created for the user.

For NFC compatible Smartphones it is a little different. Waves on new smart posters have been hitting the streets across the world. These smart posters also have NFC chips in them, so when a smartphone user interacts with an advertisment they have the option to pull information about the brand directly to their smartphone.

This is huge folks.

Brands will no longer be pushing information to their audience. Instead the audience will pull information about a brand, giving the brand permission to communicate with the user at their convenience. There is no intrusion or interruption of life because the user decides if and when to dive into the brand.

The information that an audience can access via NFC can range from promotions to a mobile brand website that is easy to use for an audience on the move.

I can’t wait to do a big dig on Near Field Communication to see what has been done in this field and what the future of NFC and the Idea Industry may hold.

Let’s do this.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

8. Sweat the Small Stuff

Human nature is a funny thing. A life can be ruined in minutes or saved by a complete stranger.

Over the last few weeks in my Creative Strategist class we have discussed the importance of human values within a brand. These values must echo throughout personnel and be displayed at every touchpoint an audience has with a brand.

It’s a continuous process, a never ending story, that creates brand trust and brand loyalty. It’s also what separates good brands from great ones.

The small, not-so-random acts of kindness that humanized a brand create an unbreakable bond between a brand and it’s audience.

Just over a year ago Bill Taylor shared an amazing story about a simple act of kindness by Buick that made his father a lifelong Buick loyalist.

About three months later, a tear-jerking story of kindness went viral and brought a pleasant change of pace to an airline industry full of people with more important things to do.

So, what have we learned? Sweat the small stuff. This applies to both life and brands.

For brands, be kind. It’s harder than being clever, but do it. Be fully aware of what matters most to your customers, employees and communities that make your business possible. Unleash your humanity.

For life, be present in the moments that matter most. In the world of big, fast and now, take a second to enjoy the little things in life that make it worth living.

What we remember and treasure are the small gestures of compassion that bring humanity into the digitized world we live it.

October 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment