Why Can’t We Play Anymore?

Playtime.

If that one word doesn’t trigger some kind of emotional response in your soul, stop reading- and call your doctor.

Playtime is awesome.

This post is getting better and better, isn’t it? What memories does that three word sentence evoke? I’ll tell you the five things I think of when I hear playtime:

1. Cops and Robbers (or jailbreak/release as we Western PA’ers call it)
2. Four Square
3. Playing football with the neighborhood kids until the streetlights came on
4. Creating games out of thin air…and loving it
5. Laying wide awake in bed the day before vacation

Playtime.

What a word. So then, I now pose this question:

Why does Playtime have to stop?

Simple question. Many answers.

Is it because the word “play” sounds so young, and fresh, so it has to die once we get older?

Surely not.

Not being able to play limits the ability to be creative. It hinders the spirit to explore new boundaries, think differently, and improve things.

No playtime. No progress.

Show me a person who doesn’t want a play, and I’ll show you a person that is unable to be creative.

Play Away.

The United States workforce spends the most time working IN THE WORLD. Who can schedule enough playdates with only a national annual average of 4 weeks vacation?

How can we bring on change and innovation, when we are surrounded by Debbie Downers that refuse to even consider “radical” ideas? If we changed “radical” to “playful”, would the idea be listened to? Probably not.

An intelligent mind is a playful mind. One who is not afraid to take the “established” norms in society and make a game out of it. Isn’t that what that whole revered theory of Provocation is about? (example: If your computer keyboard had no letters, what would you do to make it functional?)

Let’s bring that chlidish mentality back. Enter situations like you’ve never seen anything like it before, as if you were a newborn. Experience is good in some cases, but when creativity is involved, it is highly overrated.

Okay, enough writing. Meet me at the sandpit!

What Marketing and A Bag of Pissed-Off Hornets* Have in Common

Ah yes, one of the nagging questions of our industry.

To quench your thirst for the world’s most intriguing questions, I will be more than happy to answer this one. For, these two seemingly unrelated subjects have unquestionably similar traits.

1.  When Used Right, Can Be Very Effective

Good marketing raises visibility, and can lead to raised revenue levels. And raised revenue levels can lead to good days at work. It is important to have a focused marketing strategy and use marketing activities that are specific to your audience, don’t spray the field.

Likewise, a bag of 500 pissed off hornets can work well for you when used right. Imagine waiting in a line, “excuse me sir/miss, but I have a bag of hornets, and they have NO patience whatsoever. Do you mind if I jump ahead?”  Who would say no?

2. Hold Limitless Possibilities

Effective marketing can make a business soar to new heights. When a business establishes a solid customer base from good marketing, it can explore so many new channels. It could open a new product/service line. It could hold an event. It could even take a leadership retreat.

Same with a bag of pissed off, pollinating  insects. “What are you doing with a bag of hornets?” you may ask. I counter, what are you doing without one? To my knowledge, there’s no law regulating the number and method one transports hornets.  The world is your playground my friend.

3. Could be Dangerous

Be careful what you wish for. Marketing effectively will open your business to much more scrutiny than flying under the radar. Make sure you have your business where you want it to be before directing eyeballs and opinions to it. Sometimes marketing and getting your message out could do more damage than success.

And I don’t think I really need to elaborate why a bag of hornets could be dangerous.

4. Relatively Inexpensive

When it comes to marketing, there are so many activities that may fit your organization. Don’t listen to those marketers that will try to get half your operating budget. But on the other side, marketing is an investment, meaning that you get out what you put in. Open up the conversation with your marketing person/company and see what methods may be best for your company.

Depending on the quantity of hornets that you are looking for, spending an spring afternoon outside should yield enough hornets to make a statement. And in many cases, just a few would do the trick. I myself would go the Teddy Roosevelt route “…but if you must hit, never hit soft.” If I roll up with a bag full of flying killers, people will not mistake me as playing around.

5. Always a Need for It

Marketing, like I must have said over a dozen times in this blog, is the language of business. To be successful in this “free enterprise”, you got to do it. Exercising your marketing arm is much better than doing nothing.

As for a bag of hornets, just because you never see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t needed. I am sure there have been plenty of situations where a bag of ill-tempered stinging insects would have solved any problem.

There you go! Now you can sleep soundly. Cheers!

*Historical Note: Charlotte, during the Revolutionary days, was a playground for American Revolutionaries and British forces. Because of the constant skirmishes, General Cornwallis referred to Charlotte as the “Hornet’s Nest” of the War. See? There is a hidden point to everything. And you even learned something! 😉

The Rebirth of the Single Advertiser?

Retro marketing is trying to make a comeback! How interesting.

In the latest Adage article, Budweiser bought all the ads spots for the next Saturday Night Live, promoting its new Golden Wheat.

Also, Microsoft and FOX made a deal with Family Guy’s creator, where Microsoft will be sponsoring a variety show- and Windows will be featured throughout the event.

As you read further in the article you read that this tactic was brought back to life in 2005, and has been used seldomly since.

But as a fan of history, I cannot let people think that this is by any means “new.” And I have two words for you that will further help me illustrate my point: Soap Operas.

Yes! Before these shows got huge on TV, they used to be on radio, sponsored by major soap and manufacturing companies. This folks, was in the early 1930’s and 1940’s.

So what is my point? Look at the trend. Like the fashion industry, the marketing industry too seems to be cyclical. As brands are trying to bust through the clutter, they came to the realization: They could eliminate the noise! Buy up ALL the ad spots and run your brand. If you have the money to, why not?

This is easily adaptable across many channels. A brand could buy all the advertising spots at a radio station for a week. A brand could buy all the ad space in a magazine (if it was worth it). This trend could lead to something.

Now there  are serious economic implications as well. If a brand is able to buy up all the ad spots of a medium, then economically speaking, the medium is leaving cash on the table. Meaning,that the price for ads is too low. SO the indirect result of the rise of the single advertiser,  could be the rise of inflated ad prices. But, as always, speculation has the poorest vision.

Cheers.

That’s Good PR! / That’s Bad PR :-/

Perhaps the beginning of a recurring theme that will appear in this blog. So many things have happened over the past few weeks, in business, politics, and so forth- one communicator has to be able to step back and analyze what moves worked well, and what moves, a-hem, could have used longer prep time.

David Letterman sex scandal- That’s Good PR!

Under the circumstances, David Letterman handled his personal situation extremely well on the national stage. He beat everyone to the punch, and the jerk trying to extort him is now paying the ultimate price. Well done sir, well done.

Burger King teaming up with FOX to crack jokes about Jessica Simpson- That’s Bad PR :-/

Can’t say I’ve been the biggest fan of Burger King’s recent creative in the first place (actually, the complete opposite) but this is a little over the top. AdAge released a low-quality short of the cartoon: and it is bad. On multiple levels. So then, is it so bad that it is actually good? No, no is not. Stick with the creepy king.

President Obama going to Denmark to vouch for Chicago for the ’16 Olympics- That’s Good PR!

The PRESIDENT of the United States took time out of his schedule to meet with the IOC to present Chicago as the Games’ future destination. Grow up haters.

Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift- That’s Bad PR :-/

Kanye, my girlfriend heard your “Kanye’s Workout Plan” for the first time in September, and she is amazing when it comes to knowing music. Meaning, you are no big deal. To think that your measly opinion is more important than a young singer’s first award EVER is 100% disgusting.

Ralph Lauren and “the Model picture”- That’s Bad PR :-/

Okay, so I understand that every woman is supposed to be like 5’10 110 pounds and a -2 waist line, but now Ralph Lauren is just being silly (note: that line is a joke…some readers are still having a hard time finding my sarcasm).

To say that the photograph is altered without consent and approval is one thing- that’s a personnel/management issue- done and done. Then to say later that the photo appeared in an ad in Europe and wasn’t supposed to, that’s another. But Ralph Lauren wasn’t done there. So far it only shot themselves in one foot, and we know Ralph Lauren doesn’t half-ass anything (unless they take half an ass off a model..high-o!), and decides to FIRE the model from the photo in question.

I will not get in to all that women’s rights stuff, not my place. But on the public relations standpoint- you should have known better. All these new campaigns showing average women and you pull this? Hopefully your entire communications team is on vacay, in a coma, or men (so maybe a combo of the two 😉 )

That’s it for now! I’d love to see more examples if you got em!

Cheers!

SEX! Sex! Okay, Now That I Have Your Attention…

A USA Today article came out about the new ad campaign the pistachio nut industry is using to hopefully attract customers and awareness.

And goodness gracious! Tell grandma and grandpa to look away, and don't be in the same room with your parents when the commercial comes on...

...the commercials are using SEX! (gasp!)

I mean, really folks, the fact that the new campaign got a placement in USA Today shows how our society is still so conservative enough that an industry like the NUTS industry (hehe) using sexual ads gets attention.

Of course sex sells in the United States. It's still taboo. Only the rebellious and confident even mention sex. If there is a topic that the industry wants to be attractive we say to "make it sexy."

The U.S. advertising industry still has a long way to go. Check out this European ad and you'll know what I mean.

Why The Marketing Industry NEEDS more Minority Talent (and why they can’t find it)

…ah yes, time to tackle this wonderful issue.

It doesn’t seem to disappear, does it? Why isn’t there more minority representation in the communications industry?

Is there a glass ceiling?

Some kind of barrier to entry?

Not enough support?

The answer is: sort of.

Allow me to throw out my own humble and naive reasoning in the mix:

1. No Role Models

Give me the name of ONE successful and famous black communications practitioner- I’ll wait.

…..

No? Exactly. Those minority practitioners who do succeed, fly under the societal radar. They are simply not visible. And for this group of people, who (in my experience) have to work twice as hard and be twice as smart to even get a chance- that lack of visibility is far from favorable.

2. NO SUPPORT FROM THE MINORITY COMMUNITY

No disrespect to the current powers-that-be (the older, white man), they are doing everything they can to lure talented minorities to the workplace. No doubt, Richard Edelman, Ketchum WorldWide, Burson-Marsteller are giants in the diversity conversation.

Ha, but why in the world are the black business voices no where to be found??

During my young tenure as a marketing professional, I have not heard a single comment of concern from minority business owners wondering where all the minority communicators are- not a single voice. I find that troubling. How dare we minority communicators be upset that there are so few of us, when we get little to NO support from our brothers and sisters in the industries we attempt to serve!

Help us find our voice in the communications industry, and we can help you find yours. In many cases, like this one here, silence speaks up much louder than the noise. Listen up.

3. The Communications Industry isn’t Presented as Sexy

When I was 14yrs old, the phrase “I want to be an Ad Guy when I grow up” was eons from my consideration set. It wasn’t until three years later when I found that my appreciation for writing, communicating and “strategery” could be best utilized in marketing.

Thankfully the classes and movies of the job being portrayed as a thankless, burdensome, hated, biased, and deceiving profession didn’t phase me.

Sheeesh! The image of the communications industry is not going to attract groups of people that have faced levels of scrutiny and animosity in their everyday life. “Overcoming racism and prejudice is one thing,” a young communicator may say, “but now I have to defend my profession?” That’s reality, folks.

Obviously, this is an issue very dear to my heart. I worked too damn hard to get where I am right now, and refuse to believe that the three reasons I listed above are going to stop me from getting to where I want to be in the industry I love being in.

Please, tell EVERYONE you know about this post…show them that this problem NEEDS to be addressed. Thankfully some work is being done. The group Black Creatives has been started to offset this issue. Adage and Richard Edelman continually post articles about the lack of minority talent.

But they need our help. Cheers.

DW

A Wish for Leaders

One of my favorite poems/sayings of all time…please read.

Wish for Leaders…

I sincerely wish you will have the experience of thinking up a new idea, planning it, organizing it, and following it to completion, and then have it magnificently successful. I also hope you’ll go through the same process and have something “bomb out.”

I wish you could know how it feels “to run” with all your heart and lose… horribly. I wish that you could achieve some great good for mankind, but have nobody know about it except you.

I wish you could find something so worthwhile that you deem it worthy of investing your life within it.

I hope you become so frustrated and challenged enough to begin to push back the very barriers of your own personal limitations.

I hope you make a stupid mistake and get caught red handed and are big enough to say those magic words: “I was wrong.”

I hope you give so much of yourself that some days you wonder if its worth the effort.

I wish for you a magnificent obsession that will give you reason for living and purpose and direction and life.

I wish for you the worst kind of criticism for everything you do, because that makes you fight to achieve beyond what you normally would.

I wish for you the experience of leadership.

-Earl Reum