September 17, 2014

BrandingBlog Radio: Roy Williams and The Pendulum

Wow. I told Roy Williams that I wanted to hear the scary bits about his new book, Pendulum: Where We’ve Been, How We Got There, Where We’re Headed, he reluctantly agreed. He’s traced back the trends of societal change 3,000 years. What he’s found will give you a few reasons for apprehension the next 20 years or so.

Don’t expect many direct applications to advertising and marketing. You won’t find them in this book.

However, he doesn’t want to be known for just ringing the alarm bell and sending us all into hiding. So, he will be following the Pendulum with a new book called Invisible Heros. These are the type of people who can lead us out of whatever mess we find ourselves mired in for the next two decades.

If I were you, I’d have a happy movie ready to play after you listen to this one. You’ll need it.

Nice Try Samuel Adams

"Beer is banned in 13 states!" scream the press releases.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Samuel Adams recently uncorked this year's version of its biennial Utopias beer with lots of hype about the 27% alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit in 13 states.

Wow. You'd think people would be up in arms. You'd expect lawsuits, protesters, speeches from the pulpit, yet I haven't been able to find much negative news about this evil brew.

It turns out that it's not really a beer at all. Technically, yes it is beer. Functionally, not even close. What they've really done is make a sipping cognac out of beer. At $150 a bottle, even the Mothers Against Drunk Driving doesn't have a problem with Utopias, and they are quoted as such in the original press coverage.

In chapter 8 of Tom Wanek's new book, "Currencies That Buy Credibility," he talks about risking your reputation and prestige to buy credibility. In essence, you do something that will cause some of your customers to be repelled while others embrace your brand more tightly than ever.

In the case of the Utopias press, it's a surface-level ploy to seem cutting edge and risky. They want you to be shocked that this is a beer that has been "banned" in 13 states. You should be outraged that it costs $150 a bottle at retail. Yet, when you dig a little deeper…or just blow the marketing dust off the label…you find out that this just doesn't live up to the hype. It's just another bottle of expensive sipping hooch for connoisseurs.

So, how could Samuel Adams ACTUALLY risk reputation and prestige?

They'd have to do something that would actually enrage the MADD crowd. They could put out a beer that's both strong, cheap and easy to guzzle…something that would attract the high school drinker as well as the street bum. They need a beer that would get them written up in BumWine.com for the hallucinatory side-effects of the dangerous secret ingredients.

Give that one a try, Sam.

If a problem can be seen from space, you know it's big

The most staggering photos of Katrina damage I’ve seen were on NASA’s Earth Observatory site.

Two nearly identical photos taken from space. One from March 9, 2004 and the other from August 31, 2005. These are huge files. Zoom in. Compare. Imagine yourself sitting on the roof of one of the thousands of homes.

Now, go somewhere and give. Here are more ideas.

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The rape of the stockholders continues…

At Wizard of Ads, we generally CHOOSE to work with owner-operated companies. If the owner of the company makes $20 million a year, no problem. The company belongs to the owner of the company.

Every time I’m contacted by a large publicly-traded company, I try to remember this. The temptation certainly exists to brag about doing work for XYZ Consolidated Global Industries, Inc., but I know I would live to regret it.

First of all, there’s simply very few ways to build a solid, long-term relationship with a public company short of nepotism or good-ol-boy shenanigans.

And, the raping of the shareholders (and I chose that word carefully) just makes me sick.

Head on over to Michelle Leder’s Footnoted blog to read about what she uncovers digging around in the SEC filings of some of our biggest corporate citizens.

I have no interest in helping so many of these people steal from the pensioners and retirees who own shares in the companies that these executives are legally sacking.

Give me a small-business owner with a big dream. That’s who I want to help.

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Adrants: Dan Wieden Tells Ad Student to Get Naked

I think Forrest Gump got it right. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

This year, he’s asked one student to strip down and go streaking, asked another straight student to convince his parents he’s gay and asked yet another to create a commotion in a mall just to attract a crowd.

So let’s get this straight. He’s asked a student to break the law. Another, to lie. And another to make a fool of himself. Gee, sounds a lot like advertising. And it’s all under the guise of building character, overcoming fears and preparing for the challenges one might face in business.

Adrants: Dan Wieden Tells Ad Student to Get Naked