Monthly Archives: August 2009

Lemonade Is Made

Feeding the Animals 

 

“You just could feel it coming down, you just could feel everyone’s asshole’s just tightening up.”

Sounds unsettling? It should. These words speak to the anticipation of being laid off. Sadly, a relatable feeling for more than 70,000 advertising professionals. But there’s a story that lies beyond the anxious moment preserved in those words, a story featured in the upcoming documentary, Lemonade.

Conceived by PFTA founder, Erik Proulx, Lemonade intends to explore “what happens when people who were once paid to be creative in advertising are forced to be creative with their own lives.”

What happens is proof of the human spirit. The trailer which I’ve posted below is filled with vignettes rich in triumph. The people featured are members of those 70,000 drifting souls; connected not only by their loss, but in their ability to move forward with their lives.

Some might point out that this film is glorifying lay-offs. I would point out that those people are confusing lay-offs with humanity. I suspect the film will show the darker side of lay-offs, but it will not linger on them. And it shouldn’t. In one way or another we all have come to know how difficult this time is, that is a story of which we already know. I care to hear about what I don’t know, namely the stories of these people who have moved on from darkness into something better. The sign that while being laid off isn’t necessarily a gift, it is a pass to something within us, something we had long since closed off from ourselves.

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Inspiration: A Cautionary Tale

Inspiration OverloadI love inspiration. We all do. And why not? It gets us pumped. We see it or hear it and spontaneously want to kick ass at whatever it is we aspire to do. But the Negative Ned in me says there’s a dark side to inspiration that we rarely mention. You see, inspiration’s good…a little too good. And you know what they say about too much of a good thing? Well, hold onto your keyboards because this post is about too much of too good a thing.

For the regulars of us inspiration comes in the right doses. We manage to seek it out every so often, just enough to refill the spirtual well and keep us moving forward. The key here is that we manage it, but, if we don’t, we can become victims of our insatiable desire for inspiration.

The internet has become a source for volumes upon volumes of easily accessible and often inspiring forms of expression. There’s nothing to stop you from spending your entire day browsing through it all in an effort to “get motivated” or “feel more creative.” And that’s where the problem exists–you’ll feel incredibly inspired by other’s creativity but no longer have the time to create anything yourself. All of a sudden inspiration isn’t a means to propel you, it becomes a crutch on which we never stop leaning, and thus, never begin accomplishing.

Ironic as it is fortunate, these same powers of the internet allow us the ability to schedule our inspiration with flexibility. There’s so much brilliance being uploaded to your mainstay sites that you need only designate a 30 minute window to take it in at a time of your convenience.

Creativity necessitates responsibility (their connection is only grounded further by ending in -ity). It’s your responsibility to know the quantity of time you spend admiring other’s work and when to cut yourself off. After all, the people who inspire you didn’t produce that work by drooling over their idols–they simply got to work and decided it was better to spend more time being inspiring than inspired.

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Celebration Is Good Advertising

Picture 11You were creative in your efforts. You wowed the masses and have exceeded all measures of ROI. But before you shut down the office to pop champagne all week why not open the party to the public? Okay, so you’re not going to invite everyone to your house (even BYOB would remain a stretch), but there’s still a way to leverage your celebration as a means to push your cause for celebration even further. I give you: One Billion Plus You

This site commemorates a powerful achievement for Mozilla Firefox Web Browser–hitting 1 Billion Downloads on July 31, 2009. It also exemplifies how to make your celebration work harder for you. 

How does this new site get celebration right?

It stays humble. There isn’t a bunch of pomp and circumstance or shouting “We’re the Best!” The first words you read in their message are “We’re awed and amazed…”

It stays simple. There aren’t a lot of crazy elements on the page. They link to what’s important: Mozilla’s Mission, Download/Upgrade for the product, and the means to join the celebration. Clean and brief.

It looks to the future while reflecting on the past. “As we all start towards the second billion, let’s take a moment to reflect on the wonders of the Web that you’ve helped nurture and grow.”

It remembers that you are actually us. As a brand prided on open-source, Mozilla maintains perspective on their achievement: “But it’s not just about Firefox. We are the world. We are the billions. We are the ones who make the Web a better place to be.”

It creates a fun and easy means for people to share in their excitement. With a click of a link I can post an interesting fact related to the number “one billion” on my twitter feed. The options are interesting enough to provide you with worthwhile social currency: One billion seconds is roughly 31.7 years? Cool! And information like this is likely to be re-tweeted for  its Snapple Fact quality. Regardless of your affinity for FireFox, you still feel compelled to share that fact because it is interesting. Finally, in true form to their trust of the audience, they leave it up to you to make your own message if you want.

How Much Is One Billion?

The lesson we learn from Mozilla is that planning pays. You’ve already put in all the effort to get you to this major point of celebration, what’s a little more so you won’t miss this opportunity to engage the fan base that has gotten you this far? The end result is worth it. Their celebration acted as a means to generate greater awareness through direct word-of-mouth and push downloads of their product further and faster past the 1 billion marker than it would have by celebrating alone. 

Do you have any other examples of brands, big or small, that make celebration work for them? Moreover are there things worth celebrating besides big numbers? What possible celebration opportunities are brands missing that they could be announcing? Hit me in the comments, anywhere else is too painful.

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Something’s Rotten on Twitter

Rotten Tomatoes' Twitter PageI’m sure a sensationalist title like that just bumped traffic (PAY DAY!), unfortunately this is where you’ll likely leave. There is nothing wrong with Twitter, at least not in this post. This writing is reserved for Rotten Tomatoes’ Twitter presence and their recent partnered effort with the upcoming indie film Paper Heart. It’s a not so classic tale of girl was in Knocked Up, girl questions true love, girl creates documentary to find answer, girl meets Michael Cera who provides the answer, “Yes”–or, at least this is as much I’ve gathered from the trailer.

How to generate some additional excitement through Twitter, though? Well, what goes together with love better than poems? Their idea was simple; tweet your best 140 character poem @RottenTomatoes. The only mandatories were to include the word “Paper Heart” and you would be allowed only one entry. So I got in love mode; set the mood with a dimly-lit screen, some Nat King Cole, and wrote my twoem:

“Our paper hearts fold into shapes we never knew, but love can tear along the seams it creates. Be gentle with love’s origami.”

Some days would pass as they organized all the entries. The director of the film, Nick Jasenovec, and leading lady, Charlene Yi would be judging them personally. The hand-picked winner would then go to the red carpet premiere in LA for 3 days and 2 nights. Um, yes please.

The results came out and sadly I did not place first or second…I actually placed 11th. But that was enough to put me in the list of the top twenty choices they were thinking through. Pretty Cool! Though, it’s still a bit of a bummer because I would’ve loved to see the film and the spontaneity of the trip to LA. In fact, it’s heartbreaking enough to make me write another poem about it:

Poem Tweeted,
Their Eyes Would Read,
“Pretty Good”,
Their Hearts Concede,
Results Tweeted,
The News I’d Hear,
Sorry, you won’t be attending the LA Premiere.

All in all it was a fun contest. I’d be interested to hear how many entries they pulled in as well as the overall tracking for conversations (non-entries) generated by the contest. One evident merit is that Rotten Tomatoes is using Twitter effectively. Not only did they engage a prospective fan base of movie lovers, but throughout the entire contest you could count on their direct replies. Even after I tweeted the celebration of my 11th place victory Rotten Tomatoes was there to deliver a 100% fresh @reply.

UPDATE [8/5/09]: Rotten Tomatoes informed me through Twitter that the contest garnered over 300 individual entries.

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