Social Evolution and Destruction

It’s only Wednesday, but this week has already shown us Google’s answer to Facebook (Google+) and the sale of MySpace for $35 million. Yes, million. It feels like forever since we’ve heard “million” instead of the new common baseline of “billion”, but either way, what a supreme collapse for MySpace! I actually thought it might survive as a niche music community, which it still may, but with such a short sell and news of massive layoffs, one can’t keep too much hope for its survival.

As for Google+, I still need to be granted access to the beta, but as far as I’ve read, it will likely be an exaggerated platform for sharing content between Google/Gmail contacts.  Beyond that, I don’t see how it will takeover Facebook or become much of a social networking site.

Actually, that does raise the question of what is a social network?  What more does it do than allow users to share content and thoughts?  Facebook is still trying to break into the coupon, commerce, and business-linking, mimicking services provided by other platforms like Linkedin, Foursquare, and Groupon.  But aside from those, what does it do that Google + isn’t trying to do?  Let me know what you think.

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Putting a man on the moon

Today is the 50th anniversary of JFK setting the goal of and asking Congress for funding to put an American on the moon by the end of the decade. Obviously this has nothing to do with marketing, but I feel that it’s an important moment to reflect upon because of how Kennedy delivered his objective. Providing proper background information, along with a clear and concise objective allows for little confusion amongst team members, and provides a common goal towards which the team can work together. This clear vision can make what seems like an insurmountable effort a very possible feat, which is why leadership needs to clearly understand their objectives when tasking their team with a job. Same goes for assignment/creative briefs. Unless you know what you’re asking for, you can’t expect others to deliver exactly what you want.

It also helps to be an inspirational speaker like JFK was.

The Functionality of Square

In life, there are two types of things; necessities and luxuries. Those things we need vs. the things we want. Most social media sites and services fall into the latter, the luxuries/wants. We don’t NEED to tell the world what we’re doing at every second, nor do we even need to share pictures of our vacation with every person we’ve ever known. We do need to eat, sleep, produce, and consume…to a certain degree. The world would be a better place if we all consumed much less of everything, but that’s not the world we live in, therefore we do need commerce, which is why Square is coming at the digital and social world from a much more substantial and lasting angle. By simplifying the monetary exchange process, Square is redefining how we’ll make purchases (consumers) and accept payments (retailers), a core process from which an infinite number of revenue channels can be implemented, much wiser than the opposite route of creating necessity out of luxury.  Once this new way of payments becomes more prevalent and they start reaping the financial benefits of its licensing practice, it’ll be interesting to see who they monetize the app even further via advertising and partnerships.

Drive-thru theater with Coke

Here’s a brilliant example of a marketer seizing an opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive one, and positioning their brand and product at the center of that transition. Even though the idea directly effected a small amount of people, the video and overall idea will carry across the web for an open-ended amount of time. This should show marketers that an idea doesn’t need to be grand in the real world in order to have a grand effect in the real world.

Too bad the product being pushed is an even bigger waste of plastic housing an even smaller portion of an unhealthy product.

T-Mobile Royal Wedding Dance

Gotta give it to T-Mobile. Even though they will likely not be a brand by the end of 2011, they are churning out some aggressive marketing so far this year. First, they expanded the Apple vs. Mac copy campaign which at first bothered me due to its apparent lack of originality, but now I find it to be refreshing with the female character and light sense of humor.

Now they are leveraging the unconstrained world of online video to tap into one of the largest stories on the planet; the royal wedding.

Even though it’s normally tough to commercially mimic a cheap viral video, the team that produced this adaptation of the JK Wedding Entrance Dance made so famous in 2009 added enough relevance (linking it with the royal wedding; the plethora of nationalities represented in the crowd) and quality production (the look-a-likes are incredible!) to make it a welcome viral hit in 2011.

Unfortunately the royal wedding lost a lot of its steam due to the fact that bin Laden was killed two days later (and because the royal wedding is a complete bore, especially with its lack of star power in the crowd), but now that the bin Laden story is somewhat winding down, this video might give people a period to put at the end of their royal wedding sentence, and T-Mobile will be the last thing they see at the end of that experience.

Good timing for the video.  Now let’s hope the same goes for the company.

Efficiency Analysis: India’s dabbawallahs

This doesn’t have as much to do with marketing than it does with operational efficiencies, which affect our business lives as much as any other element. In India, 175k home-cooked meals are delivered every day by an army of illiterate men, named dabbawallahs, on trains, bikes, and on-foot from suburban homes to business people substantially far away in Mumbai. The delivery device is a triffin, a crafty stack of trays that keep 4-course meals separate, fresh, and protected. Since these delivery men are illiterate, an ingenious color coding system (seen above) is used to ensure accurate and efficient deliveries. The system is so accurate that only one out of every 8MM tiffins is lost. One out of every 8 million!! Think about that. Amazing.

The primary thing we in corporate America can learn from this is that there are basic mechanics to what we do, and if those basics are mastered and carried through with precision, the remaining steps throughout the process will fall into place. In marketing, it’s easy to lose site of the basic mechanics, especially with the relentless introduction of new technologies and philosophies coming from every channel, vertical, and direction. Yet, as long as we use all available resource and technology to understand our clients’ landscape, target, and objectives, we can use our experience and intuition to deliver a service and product that stays on-mark. Yet, if we let those fundamentals slip, the rest of the system will go awry.

The Bin Laden Effect

Last night my wife and I browsed videos of this weekend’s White House Correspondence Dinner through our Apple TV, and thought our night of entertainment was complete once Obama and Seth Meyers were done tearing into every imaginable target, most brutally Donald Trump. As she headed to the bedroom and I switched the TV’s input back to DirecTV, I was floored by the headline on CNN; Osama Bin Laden is Dead. Over the next few hours, the story unfolded with a speech from Obama (brilliant, btw), details of the assault in Abbottabad, and crowds gathering out front of the White House, Time Square, and Ground Zero. To that last point, even though I’m uncomfortable with the idea of so many people frantically cheering another human’s death, no matter the human, it was fascinating to see how quickly things progressed, and how impossible it would have been for this all to happen this way just 10 years ago. Technology has changed how the world operates and interacts, both for good and bad, and last night was a prime example of the real-time nature of our lives.