Archive for October, 2006

4 in 100 at an Int’l. Ad. Assoc. debate had heard of Walmart and Edelman controversy

October 31, 2006

Last night I went to a debate sponsored by the International Advertising Association on the motion “In the online age consumers are the new brand managers”. During the right to reply I did a quick straw poll of the 100 or so people attending and asked how many of them had heard of the Walmart/Edelman fiasco.

There was definitely not a massive show of hands. Only four of the hundred plus advertising execs, media representatives and brand managers had heard of this MONUMENTAL CRISIS that had nigh on annihilated Edelman’s reputation. Or so the blogosphere would have you believe.

Is it important that of this assembly inhabitants of the advertising ecosystem so few had heard of this flog saga? No, but what it does show is that social media is still in its infancy in the UK.

The idea of consumer endorsement via blogs was novel to some. One gentlemen stood up and suggested if this internet (which he might well have thought was a series of tubes) was effective why not hire 100 students to write positive blogs for your company. I could feel the spirit Steve Rubel, Neville Hobson, Ben O’Connel and Jackie Huba rise in me, that is definitely not in line with WOMMA guidelines.

In the end, I had to vote against the motion despite feeling a deep affinity for what Simon Waldman, Digital Publisher at the Guardian, and Gary Lockton, founder of Strategically, who proposed the motion were saying. They showed the new power of word of mouth with the examples of Kryptonite locks and Mentos fountains, the problem was that they didn’t define brand managers tightly enough.

Patrick Barwise of London Business School, however, used Peter Drucker‘s definition of marketing – the art of seeing an organisation through the eyes of the customer -, locked down branding as delivery of a promise and said brand managers executed that promise. With that done he deftly showed that whatever the changes in media, there will still be those that manage brands. Tough to argue against that.

However, had brand managers been pinned down as those who, through the purchase of above and below the line media, attempt to deliver a controlled brand message, it would have been a different story. The days of controlling all channels of delivery, and the possibility of ignoring consumer reaction, are gone.

Dreams of control should be a thing of the past. However, there is a wealth of opportunity for those who will be able to let go and engage in the conversations which are happening online. I’m really glad to be taking part in these conversations and to hear them happening in the UK.

It really was a great night and I haven’t stood up for some public speaking for a while. Man it’s fun.


I’m way excited about going to more web events

October 30, 2006

I’ll be heading off to a brilliant debate organised by the dashing Dominic Allon of The Economist. The motion is cracking : In the online age, consumers are the new brand managers.

It’s taking place within the Debating Group  which is the Parliamentary Group for debating marketing. I’ll be looking forward to some cracking speeches, but it will also be interesting to see where marketing in the UK stands.

Will there be a heated discussion about Coke vs Mentos, the perils of astroturfing and the recent Edelman and Walmart balls up? Or will there be mad wailing at the loss of control?

I’ll report tomorrow.

Coke and Mentos action

Lethal Excitement 4 Project Redstripe

October 25, 2006

Hollow tipped bullets have got a great reputation in 1980s action films. Dums dums, as these bullets are known in the professional killing community, do not pass clean through the body. Instead, they vibrate wildly, destroying all internal organs.

Why do I bring up these lethal weapons? Because I feel like I’ve been shot with a dum dum. A dum dum of excitement, that is. You see I’m shaking with anticipation, but keeping it all on the inside.

I think I’m in with a shout for this Project Redstripe lark, but can’t get too pumped about it, because I’ll be crushed if I don’t get it. There’s a permanent nervous energy coursing through me as I turn over the amazingness of this opportunity. Yet there’s a phony war feeling at the same time as it might pass me by. Hell, I just can’t wait to find out.

I thought I’d tie the post together by getting a pop culture reference, and first flick I could remember that has hollow point chat is Lethal Weapon. A trip to IMDB brought up the quote and how apposite it was. Unstable Martin Riggs, played by psycho young Mel Gibson, tells his partner Murtaugh he regulary contemplates suicide and he keeps a hollow point bullet to make a clean job of topping himself.

Check out the reason why he doesn’t end it all :

“You know why I don’t do it? This is gonna make you laugh! You know why I don’t do it? The job! Doin’ the job! Now that’s the reason!”

The job! Doin’ the job! Now that’s the reason for all this excitement too.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Crazy Mel

Big media going digital : 3 examples

October 25, 2006

My, my! Everywhere you look big media seems to be plunging into the digital waters and trying to get as wet as possible.

i) The Sun creates MySun. Using the same technology behind MySpace there is now a interactive digital realm to the nation’s most red blooded tabloid. The discussion of the week is Should paedophiles be let out into the community. Louise thinks “they should be they should all be Hung-Drawn & Quartered, they are beasts, animals”.

ii) We have Brad Grey, the CEO of Paramount pictures saying, “Everybody would be very foolish not to embrace technology,” he said, adding later, “For us not to embrace it would be insanity.”

iii) My favourite story recently has been Rob Curley going to be a vice-president of the Washington Post Co. interactive division. This was, to my shame, the first time I had read about Rob Curley. I now have a new hero.

He made his name by creating kickass online sections for two local papers in the states, turning heads in media by loving the internet, not fearing it. Rather than concentrating on big news that is covered by hundreds of news outlets he went hyper-local. Playing to the self-evident strengths of local papers by creating multi-media content about local news.

When asked whether it was his ambition to work at The Washington Post, Rob gives the great line: “I just want to build cool s–t.”

Well, pour Project Redstripe a big glass of what that man’s drinking, then we can crack on and create something amazing.

David Cameron: I don’t want to say I told you so but…

October 19, 2006

Now, no one likes a smart alec (and I speak of what I know), however, it suddenly seems as though politicians are invading MySpace. The slight crowing is because my David Cameron MySpace experiment – where I created his profile then got in touch with the Tories about it – happened a full 8 months ago.

That is all.

Hardcore techs : why Economist readers are ready for web apps

October 17, 2006

I’ve always believed that Economist readers are ready for some crazy web stuff. In sales we always wang on about how technologically advanced are readers are. So why wouldn’t they be ready for something a bit more webby?

What really brought it home to me was a great piece of info from the latest Europe 2006 research. For those of you who don’t mark of the days until the latest syndicated media research comes out, let me explain Europe 2006. This is a survey of the top 10 million Europeans. It’s the business leaders, a key part of our target audience.

It showed, amongst other things, that Economist readers were 50% more likely to read blogs than other consumers of international press. I think this is heartening to everyone interested in Project Redstripe.

It means that the Project should not be afraid. Redstripe must not worry about low adoption rates. Let’s just do something amazing.

News organisations in Second Life

October 16, 2006

I was delighted to see that Reuters have opened up a bureau in Second Life. The journalist – avatar name Adam Reuters – will file stories on Second Life business.

“Adding one more region to its 196 news bureaus around the world, Reuters now has a branch in the metaverse, supplementing it with a heads-up display featuring a multi-channel news feed from the venerated wire service…”(Link)

If you’ve read here you’ll know of my love of Second Life. Anyone with a bit of imagination should see the massive potential of a virtual world, where creativity is the only limit. Combine Second Life and a news organisation and I get very excited indeed.

I think that this is a very interesting thing to do and one that will only help Second Life be taken more seriously. It is also in keeping with Reuter’s chairman Tom Glocer‘s approach to the web. He, along with Rusbridger, has definitely ‘got it’.

Another interesting development I spotted over on New World Notes was this model of an RSS feed reader in Second Life. It turns the feed into flash so that in can be read of a screen.

I can envisage an Economist island here, where avatars get to relax, talk politics and read stories. Maybe this is the device to do it.

What speed for Project Redstripe? Ramming speed.

October 16, 2006

That is the speed that I would like to see on Project Redstripe. We’ll have the honour of working on the coolest project in the world. It’s our duty to the history of The Economist to give it everything.

I want to order pizza in when we’re working late on something that absolutely has to get done. I want to hook up at weekends to work through unexpected bugs. I want to do the web startup thing until, when we finish, everything I’ve got will be in that bloody Project.

Imagine, for a second, how I’m seeing it. When I joined The Economist after my ill fated web venture, I knew I’d love being at The Econ, and thought I might get to dabble in some web things.

Now, if things were to go well for me, I’ll have the honour of twopointzeroing (and that is the first sighting of that verb) the world’s most well respected international publication.

That’s why, if I get on Project Redstripe, I hope I’m working with people who are as infected by the web as I am. I want to hear their ideas, find out what they think, learn, learn, learn, until we come up with humzinger of an idea.

We’re being given the keys to the castle, we owe it to James Wilson, Walter Bagehot and The Economist to hammer along at ramming speed.

And, more importantly, it will be outrageously fun.

I, just like The Pointer Sisters, am so exci-ay-ay-ay-ted

Building customer relationships through blogging : Pt. 2

October 11, 2006

My first post on how to use blogs to build customer relationships attracted the only comment on this blog so far. It went like so : “i’m sure that a typo in the first line would grab a dean’s attention”. Quite.

The second part in the series demonstrates two things – what I thought I had to offer the business school market and my (un)healthy obsession with the web.



I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems a lot of people are talking about the internet at the moment. Once again there are a series of hot companies that create a lot of sound and fury, but does it signify nothing? Google, Yahoo, My Space, and You Tube are sitting pretty now, but will they be the Boo.coms of the future? In 2000 that company was just one of the 537 web related bankruptcies.

This time it’s different, they say. Now the talk is of Web2.0. Web2.0? Yes, that’s the catch all name for the new web companies that are coming up. It’s also known as the social web, becuase this time the web is enabling people to interact, communicate and collaborate in entirely new ways.

That’s why this blog is called MBA2.0. I’ll be highlighting how these new technologies will effect MBAs, and how you can take advantage of it. If this sounds interesting to you then stick around.


Unfortunately I never got to set up MBA2.0 (maybe I should copyright the nAs so much of education, and particularly business education, is based around social interaction and networking I do believe there will be some serious changes. Already Phoenix University are building a campus in Second Life.

This blog would have brought up some ways in which business education could take advantage of these developments. I wouldn’t have interested everyone, but I’m sure I could have found my niche.

Community, that’s the thing

October 10, 2006

Yesterday I linked to the wiki that I created for my charity rally. I was slightly bold in saying that it was the best wiki in the world. Wikipedia might argue with that, but it is undeniable is that no wiki in the world that means more to me.

Whilst preparing the rally, I would leave it for some time and completely forget about it. Then suddenly look, and see that something unbelievable had happened. The key was that the ralliers that got involved with the wiki were most excited about the rally.

They had shared stories, jokes and photos about it.

Experiences like this show how powerful communities can be, so I really identified with what Emily Bell said in her Guardian podcast :

“In the next two to three to four years, community goes from the edges to the core. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a business.” (picked up by Jeff Jarvis)

This brings us to a question that must lie close to the heart of Project Redstripe – how do we empower our audience?


In other news, Project Redstripe has been picked up on Apparently it is a “rather intriguing new digital incubation unit“. I also noticed they are having a PaidContent drinks party, which I’ve asked for some invites for.

Would anyone like to join me?