Put it in a sentence

There is number of ways that you can tell the same story. Talk for hours to describe it. Use data to prove it. Use images and music to bring it to life. Or just put it in one sentence. One, powerful sentence.

Most of the best stories that we tell have one really, really good part that make the rest of the boring story worth it.

Putting it in one sentence is an exercise in brevity. It’s an opportunity to focus on what’s really important. I can continue trying to describe it. Or put it in one sentence.

The rise of Digital signage + Mixed reality advertising

The first time I heard the term “Mixed Reality Advertising” it was in the context of digital signage, a few months ago. I quote:

People (still) walk in the real world, but spend the better part of their time “connected” to the digital world while in the real world. How does a Digital Advertising and marketing agency take advantage of this Digital dependence? One way is to inject Digital Content into the real world. This is the foundation of what Mixed Reality experiences are all about.

Now, if you are working for digital or marketing agency today, you probably live and breathe social media, mobile web, maybe even augmented reality. What you probably don’t do, is to try to connect all these with a digital signage application.

On the other hand, if digital signage is your world, you probably spend most of your time trying to address more trivial issues than launching “Minority report” / mixed reality type of campaigns. More importantly, you probably don’t have the right client contacts to sell these “big” ideas.

So, although the time for digital signage is indeed coming, it hasn’t arrived yet. Which means that now, is the perfect time to start thinking about it.
Here is a distillation of the current thinking around digital signage, with a focus on opportunities and results.

The art of losing a pitch

Losing a pitch sucks. With the luxury of hindsight and the experience of pitching many times (losing a great deal of them), here are 5 observations about the art of losing a pitch:
  1. You lose a pitch on the first week, not the last. Interestingly, 99% of work usually gets done during that last week. Which is exactly why this observation is right.

  2. Living in a Bubble: It’s this feeling that everyone who will ever matter for the business is in this one conference room, right now. It’s the temptation to think that no one else really gets it, including the client.

  3. Snowballing Effect. It’s much easier to challenge a bad idea on day one. Once accepted it becomes part of the collective wisdom and only an outsider (i.e. the client) can challenge it. Of course then it’s too late.

  4. Keeping a loser: We get comfortable with our ideas. Admitting our baby is a loser isn’t easy. But it beats the alternative. (i.e the reality of becoming one)

  5. Blamestorming: The best diversion from ones own mistakes is to focus on everybody else’s, when the bad news finally arrive. It’s also the best guarantee that the same mistakes will be made.

The Cannibal Manifesto*

*the Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto in English) was published in 1928 by theBrazilian poet and polemicist Oswald de Andrade. Its argument is that Brazil's history of "cannibalizing" other cultures is its greatest strength.

Words vibrate energy. They have the power to make us laugh, or cry. They make us fight for our country. And maybe die for it.

Words can change the world.

Words in a manifesto are chosen to do just that. Introduce a new revolutionary thinking. Challenge the status quo. Eventually, change the world.

Even the word manifesto in itself is very powerful. It brings emotions and historic memories associated with documents like the United States Declaration of Independence (1776), or the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789). Whether a political manifesto, or a non political declaration like Hacker's Manifesto (1986) or Dogma 95 (1995), a manifesto is associated with the idea of revolution.

It’s this word, and for that reason, that brands use in our days when they want to introduce a new campaign. "Scion Declares a 'Brand Manifesto' says Brandweek". A car brand. “Targeting” young urban consumers. With microsites. And promotions. Adding a touch of fake revolution to yet another boring product in an commodity market. Now, let me remind the reader that, I also work in advertising so, I have great tolerance for marketing ideas. Sometimes there is nothing new to say. Sometimes you fake authenticity. I get that part.

But calling your ad campaign a manifesto is really insulting and generally a very bad idea, unless your car is as revolutionary as Ford’s T model (and even that’s a different kind of revolution)

To quote Che Guevara “At the risk of sounding ridiculous, a true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

I don’t feel that love in any of the so called brand manifestos today. I don't even see a fraction of a fresh thought or anything that would justify the need for a manifesto. All I feel is an urge to devour authenticity in all its forms.

Don't be afraid Mr Arrington

"What really scares me?” asks Michael Arrington (techcrunch). "It’s the rise of fast food content that will surely, over time, destroy operations that hand craft their content today.

Indeed, companies like Demand Media and Answers.com have now made it to the list of top 20 properties by creating content on a mass scale and optimizing it based on what's hot on the search engines. With all the fast food content that is being created + optimized for search, how can your brand break through the clutter?

To make things even worse, Bing + Google offer us a lot of this content without even leaving the search engine. How can your site compete with the immediacy and credibility of the content that shows up instantly from the search engine itself?

The reality is that you can optimize + monetize the crap out of it, killing most of the boring, uninspiring players in the process. But the smart, creative players will find a way to survive. Disruption is not just about scale. It’s also about ideas.

Shakespeare used the word "punk" in 1623

*he referred to a prostitute.
Much later, the word became a symbol of the generation gap phenomenon.
A generation gap is what happens when people of one generation can’t keep up with social evolution. Simply put, you grow older while the society “becomes” younger. Then you don’t “understand” younger generations. (punks...)

For the first time in history this is about to change. We have now reached a point where technology has become an organic part of our life. Simply put, technology is finally less technical. My 65 year old dad is using skype. My 5 year old daughter is using RFID tags (Nabaztag) to start computer applications. And I can’t even start thinking about what gaming is going to be like when I retire. Not a virtual reality, augmented reality or other reality that needs to be defined or separated from our life. Just reality. But better.

Which means that it’s going to be equally easy for me, my daughter and her kids to consume + understand the same content. We will be able to participate in culture as equals. And maybe, we will understand eachother better because of that.

The rule of 1,440

Any photographer will tell you that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. For example:
There are 24 hours in a day. We have learned to measure the day in hours and there is a comfortable feeling associated with this practice. There are also 1,440 minutes in a day, but this knowledge sounds difficult to manage or even useless, at first.
1,440 minutes… feels like a lot of time and that’s probably why most minutes in our lives go by without us even realizing it… we feel that they don’t mean a lot and then they end up meaning nothing.
But if you think about it, our most powerful emotions are connected with single moments, not hours or days. That’s how long it takes to create a lasting impression. Memories are imprinted in seconds and last for a lifetime. So every minute counts. Enjoy the low times. But be ready to recognize the moments that make a difference.

Guns don’t kill people. But -powerpoint- bullets kill plenty

This is the sequel to my recent post “if you want to test a man’s character give him power*point", that created a lot of conversation. Here is some additional practical advice, in less than 1 minute:

1. One slide-One Idea: Ideally don’t use bullet points.
2. If you have to use bullets at all, use them sparingly and think of them as newspaper headlines (or twitter posts). “Just do it” is better than “it’s about time that you start doing it because it’s important”
3. Help people SEE what you are SAYING: Communicate your Ideas with strong visual grammar. Engage peoples’ senses, but practice Design, not decoration
4. Take ownership of your content: What would happen if your presentation file got lost just before the meeting? Challenge yourself to Go Powerpoint-less.
5. The number of slides is irrelevant (as long as you do #4): Check Garr Reynolds presentation on SlideShare: its 184 slides but you can read it in 6 minutes.
6. Use Drama: Press B when in slide show and your screen will turn Black, forcing your audience to focus on you. (or W for white)

Last but not least, follow the Golden rule from Slide:ology:
Never deliver a presentation that you wouldn’t want to sit through.