Ad “Age”…

We live in a society already obsessed with age. Its no secret that advertising begins and ends with the “demographic” and the prime demographic, no matter what the era, is 18-35 years of age. This, quite simply, is the age of “buying things”. millennials
Young adulthood, is the time of long sought-after independence; first jobs, first apartments, early marriage, first children. The idea is simple, if you’re ready to start building a life… you’re ready to start buying. Economically speaking, this makes sense. However, I can’t help but think that the blind devotion to this age group goes beyond the simple fact that the average 25 year old, with their first or second real job, is more likely to buy a pair of jeans than a seersucker suit. But what if I were a seersucker_peckmanufacturer of seersucker suits and want to sell ever more seersucker suits?

My research shows me that the majority of people that buy my suits are between the ages of 40 and 65. This age group is the core of my business, in today’s jargon, the “Baby Boomers”. But the Boomers are aging and people that age don’t consume, they save.
They save for oncoming medical expenses, retirement, and, yes, retirement homes and funeral services. Not very sexy…not very exciting, in fact, downright depressing. This in spite of the fact, as long as there Seersucker Thursdayare human beings getting older everyday, which for the most part, is always the case (how many “unsuccessful” funeral homes do you know of? ), I still want, no, NEED,  a larger portion of sales to go to 18-35 years olds. This validates not only my product and my business, but ME as a purveyor of seersucker. I too am trendy. I too am cool!

After all a “demographic” is just a condensation of what was once called a “group dynamic”. Just being a “Millennial” I feel special, not just because I am young and exhuberant but because the media magic which effects me,  no matter what,  insists on my being special. It saves me a lot of trouble from having to create my own sense of self, or what my parents expect of me, or even what my peers and friends, expect of me. I  neatly fit into a world of Bud Light Beer, Levi Jeans, Nike sneakers and my trusty iPhone in my hip pocket.droidx-bud-light2 I am now  assured of success on my job, success in love, success in life! Its profoundly easy to live one’s dream life if that dream life is laid out before you. All I have to do is buy it.  But where does the dream end and the reality begin, and vice-versa? Is there even any real difference between the two?

I hire an ad agency, they do their own research on how “Millennials” feel about seersucker suits, how their peer groups feel about seersucker, and the best ways to “reach” Millenials to share with them the merits, the coolness of seersucker. I could “reinvent” the power of seersucker through social strategies; Facebook millennials_1pages devoted to seersucker, daily tweets on the latest celebrities and sports stars decked out in seersucker. Perhaps build a “Seersucker and You” app for IOS and Android, that displays numerous options and apparel for men and women alike. Seersucker can be the “Next Big Thing”!

And our “Boomer” generation? What about them? Do they continue to buy their seersucker or now that seersucker is for the “young”, do they abandon it altogether? Do I, the seersucker manufacturer, abandon the aging, unexciting, uncool Baby Boomer? After all we all know that life after 40 just becomes a vast market for American luxury cars, golf vacations and Viagra. There is no veneration of experience and wisdom and other “earthly” values because, quite frankly, there’s no money in it. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but is it really THAT exaggerated?

We are now a culture of brands. According to Wikipedia, Brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”[1] Brands are used in business,marketing, and advertising. 

We have become so immersed in the culture of brands and branding that we now routinely brand ourselves, andseersucker_young I don’t mean personal branding, but group branding. We are all millennials, boomers, generation X, Y and Zers, and like any other brand, carry expectations of service, quality and dependability…or not. I hate to say it, but somewhere in all this, where is good old fashioned humanity? I don’t mean the “crunchy granola” sense of humanity but more the simple human respect for those that came before us and those who come after. We now live in a world where each new generation takes credit for “inventing the wheel”, not because of peer pressure, but that’s what they are told.  Is our sense of self, really our self, or what we’re told we’re supposed to be, whatever “category” we find ourselves in?  Am I better off because I’m a Millennial and not a Boomer? Is my life actually better because I’m the target market? Is my life really better because of my Levi’s and iPhone? And why is it so easy to believe it is?  In short, it probably is if I actually think it is. And after all, isn’t that the REAL power of advertising…not changing our minds, but making up our minds?

But the real point that no one really wants to think about, is that in 20 years, it will be the Colonial-troops-of-the-Br-007“Millennials” that become the new “Boomers” and whatever generation that comes after them, whatever their “brand”, this generation will become the new darlings, the new “It” crowd, the new Chosen, and the cycle will begin again.
More research, more strategies, ever more complex, ever more compelling ways to sell seersucker to them. And in turn, they will believe, some more than others, that they were the first to discover the “coolness” of seersucker.  Remember, seersucker itself has been around since the beginnings of the colonial British Empire, a time when the average Millennial’s grandfathers’ grandfather was buying the new, the trendy, seersucker suit. I bet grandpa’s grandpa thought seersucker was pretty “cool” , too. (Yes, pun intended…)


The New Continuum…

Time to get back into the swing of things. Over the last few months I’ve been “experiencing” the internet rather than writing about it, i.e., observing it. Being a developer I don’t just get to “see” what’s happening I can make it happen too. However, it is pretty easy to get lost in the trees when exploring the forest, so every so media-message1 often I have to step back a little and take a look at the big picture. As notably predicted for the last 25 years, not only in my own observations, but countless others, the World Wide Web, better known as the “Internet”, is rapidly becoming the backbone of today’s media…and no, not just social media…all media. But that is not the realization that I’m going to write about. As far as it goes, that is not even a realization as a statement of the obvious. The realization comes from the fact that for the first time the “media” is separating from the “medium” but the messages must still remain in tact.

“The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

Two hundred years ago, carrier pigeons were the best way to get the news…depending on where you were of course, but the message was confined to the characteristics of the pigeons. If a particular pigeon was not necessarily a home body or fell in love with a lovely little pheasant along the way, it was entirely possible the message could be lost. Technology has been seeking the perfect “lossless” protocol ever since. But to make a long story short tocarrier-pigeon1 transmit information via pigeon, you needed a pigeon. To send telegrams you needed a telegraph. To read a paper you needed a printing press. To listen to radio broadcasts you needed a radio. To watch a movie, you needed a theatre and last but not least to watch television…well you know where I’m headed.

As the Internet becomes the “Net”, the universal medium that now carries messages, images, text, news, movies, television, you name it, the “media” now has to conform to a multitude of platforms of all shapes and sizes…not just one. But as the medium becomes more universal, everything from your mobile phone to your refrigerator will eventually be attached to the ‘Net’… a good deal of thought now has to be put into the form as well as the substance. Using a telegraph meant clicking the clicky thing, short for a dot, long for a dash…and that’s it. Hopefully, the tapper and tappee at either end had the skills to both send and decode the message. The medium only had to convey that message using its own unique protocol.

Now the protocol is becoming universal.. HTTP.. but the devices are becoming more complex, in other words, its the “clicky” things that are changing, becoming more diverse. Do you want to receive your messages on your laptop, your mobile phone, your television, your refrigerator? All these are possible now and each platform has to be taken into account on its own merits. Each platform, though connected to the web still has its own unique characteristics, functions and abilities than can be taken advantage of when consuming that message. Your laptop, can organize your messages, your mobile can notify you when they arrive, you’re refrigerator can order a quart of milk from when it “notices” you need it. ux-designer The possibilities are endless. So are the choices modern web designers/developers have to make. Hence, the continuing rise of the new generation of “User Experience Designers”. The catch phrase for technology professionals in the early 21st century. It is the User Experience Designer that has to figure out, given a single message, how that message will be perceived, viewed, collected and stored not by the medium but by the device attached to the medium, your browser, your tablet, your mobile phone, your toaster…whatever.

The foot soldier in all this will be the hardworking, every-present, ubiquitious “App”, made popular by the Apple eco-system and now sweeping through the universe at light speed. There are apps for everything, keeping in touch, hiding in secret, collecting bitcoins and selling old socks. You name it, there has to be an app for it. In digital advertising, clever slogans and fancy jingles have given way to the “app”. You can’t just sell dog food, you have to have an app that will keep track of Fido’s calorie in-take and weight. The “app” has to be in as much demand as the product you’re selling! That can be a pretty tall order. And from an insiders point of view, before one can even begin to explore actually creating an app, the first and most important question to ask is “Web or Native”?

This has been and will continue to be an ongoing debate for years to come. As the Internet continues to change human culture, all these new devices and capabilities are creating cultures of their own. Its not enough just get a text message, If I have an Iphone I want an Iphone text message. If I’m team appsandroid I want an android text message. If I’m on my laptop do I want a Safari or Chrome or (God forbid) an Internet Explorer message? It may seem trivial but its not. Developing apps used to be a simple matter of knowing a technology that was both reasonably popular and that you had or could acquire some familiarity with. Not any more. We no longer deal just in the technology realm alone but the “culture” of technology. Apps can be, but are no longer expected to be, monolithic. Facebook is Facebook on your laptop, but is it still Facebook on your Iphone? On your Samsung? On your toaster?

That’s right, what If I want my toaster to post to my Facebook timeline.. “the toast is done”. That may seem far fetched, but wouldn’t that be a good idea if I were Braun, or more importantly SELLING Braun toasters. Here the question of “Web or Native” goes well beyond just a matter of technology, but to once toasteragain returning, in no small way, to the “medium is the message”! Given my 1000 word limit. I won’t go into the debate itself in this article. But it will be the source of articles to come.. .stay tuned! (On the device of your choice, of course!)

How ya LIKE me now..!?

One of the most interesting things in social media these days is the “Facebook Page”. An extraordinary phenomenon gaining critical mass even as we speak. But before any “page” can be “unveiled” to the masses it must first be “liked” a certain number of times. After all somebody should show some interest in the page before it becomes a part the Facebook universe. Well, I want to see what’s involved and how long it takes to get people to “like” my page. Well, not my page really, but my good friend Francesca’s page.

Now, of course, Facebook has it hardwired that they can promote a page for you…for a price, but I want to see what my own ingenuity can do. So whoever is reading this please click the image link below, goto “Francesca’s” page, and “LIKE” away. Lets see how much and how quickly Francesca can reach “celebrity” status!

Make Friends with Francesca

If U Can’t Beat’em JQuery’em!

Although the average consumer doesn’t really care what social_networkingtechnologies lie hidden behind all the social networks, websites, video ads, etc. they consume, the folks that actually earn a living putting all those things together do. To the developers, programmers, producers and project managers of the world this is neither hype nor magic, its how they feed their families. Developing the skills required to build any of the dazzling applications that come across your browser takes time (sometimes a lot of time), energy, dedication and no small amount of money to learn. So if digital development is your chosen field of endeavor, picking the right technology to “float your boat” in is a major investment!

I usually keep this blog centered on the merging of technology and advertising coming together to not only redefine the advertising business but to redefine life as we know it. Although technology is the reason for all this, its seldom the point of interest, at least not the “details”. tv For example, there is not a soul alive, layman, technologist, or advertising maven that will deny the overwhelming effect the mobile phone has, is and will have on our daily lives. But like the television, or even the radio, how many of us actually know how it works? Once a handy item to avoid pay phones (now nearly extinct) they have become as part of how we live our lives as where we work and what we wear. We use them to locate, placate, associate and communicate…every single day. Yet we still think of the “technology” as the actual device itself and not the all important “innards”. An iphone is an iphone right?

Nope! An iphone is a few chips and buttons in a shiny metal casing that let electrons flow in the right direction. But if you don’t have the programs that link it to your network carrier, provide you with your contact phone numbers, allow you to play all those fun-crazy games we all know and love, those electrons all go to waste. Yes, my friend, its the infamous “software” that makes all that shiny hardware valuable…not vice-versa. wwwWith that in mind, picking the right kind of software a software professional should know can make all the difference between standing in line for your IPO or standing in line for your bread! With that said, how do software professionals choose which set of skills they need? The ubiquitous answer is the “marketplace”. Yes, we’re back to the world of Adam Smith and the “free hand” taking control of our economic lives ( see the article “We’re off to see the Widget, June, 2009

Everytime a consumer gets their first iPhone or Android or Blackberry, he’s putting money in some developer’s pocket somewhere in the world. And in this global economy that’s a force to be reckoned with. But here’s the catch…who besides Apple will ever get rich off of “Objective C”? I’m sure that most of you reading this article don’t even know what “Objective C” is or will ever even care. But those of you that DO, I’m betting are software “slash” Internet “slash” digital developers of some kind. And if that’s the case, I’m betting even odds that you spent no small amount of time wondering whether or not it was worthwhile to learn “Objective C” and cash in on the ever expanding iPhone phenomena and its 100,000 apps!

But lets look at an even broader picture. Lets not just hone in on mobile phones or even the Internet as a whole. Lets go beyond the gadgets to what’s really happening. We’ve had the Industrial Revolution, the Electronic Evolution, now its time for the “Communication Revolution”, the revolution we’re all participating in, young and old, foreign and domestic, rich and poor, techie and consumer. imagesAfter all, that’s why we’re online, on the phone, and on the go in the first place. The world is becoming a 24 hour odeon for entertainment, information and just a cool place to be, even when you’re “relaxing” at home. The hardware will be telephones, televisions, computers, refrigerators and coffee pots, but guess what? Its going to be the software that holds it all together across so many different kinds of platforms. But which one? Remember the days of Microsoft vs. Apple, Digital Equipment vs. IBM, the Model T vs. the horse and buggy? So the race is on and everyone loves a good competition. Will it be Android or iOS? HTML 5 or Flash or Javascript? Will it be Xbox or Wii? Who knows!? My guess ALL of the above, at least for a little while.

As for advertising, for me, nothing beats Flash/Actionscript (You techies know what I’m talking about), but Flash has its ups and downs in the mobile market and the great Steve Jobs himself and decreed it a thing of the past if, for no other reason, he simply doesn’t like Adobe. (see article “Veni, Viddy, Vici”, july 2010).steve_as_the_devil Being Steve Jobs he can bend or even tilt the marketplace, but even he can’t break it. That’s left in the all-powerful hands of the consumer. However, what most consumers are unaware of is that most of the core technologies that run their precious gadgets have been around for decades, a lot longer than the actual devices themselves. Javascript has been with us since the 90s, Objective C, since the 80s, html (including “most” of html 5) has been around since the 70’s! Flash/Actionscript is actually the “baby” in this bunch!

In either case, to keep an open mind I’ve launched a jquery version( ) of my Flash based signature site. Just so I don’t feel excluded from the overwhelming number of “AJAX” developers who will have their say in the Communications Revolution. ajaxIn my mind, there’s room enough for everybody! If you don’t know what AJAX is, don’t worry about it. No, its not a powdered cleanser but it will play a significant role in your digital life whether you’re aware of it or not and right now a lot of developers are betting it will be their meal ticket to fame, fortune, and some all new gadgers of their own. We’ll see…we’ll see….

QR what u R!

For those of you with a barcode scanner on your phone…you know what to do…


Cool, huh?

Veni Viddy Vici

The war is on … HTML5 vs Flash. Working in advertising you would think by now I would be used to hype. But I’ve been working with technology longer than I’ve been working in advertising. And in the land of technology, hype is definitely nothing new either. From Windows 7 being the savior of mankind to Java revolutionizing the we live our lives to HTML 5 being the definitive answer to all our future media needs! Its all hype, I don’t believe in any of it. But not that that stopped from learning about Windows, Java and, now, HTML 5.html5-logo

Touted as being the savior from Flash and championed by none other than Steve Jobs himself, lately I’ve been inundated in the death of Flash. Whatever. Flash has dominated Internet Video for about 6 or 7 years. Why? Because it works! Pure and simple, any Internet browser you use to watch video can use, play and manipulate Flash. True, that pesky “plug-in” can be annoying and “older” technology adopters degenerate into a panic when they get the “Download current Flash player” message on their IE5, but beyond that, I really don’t understand why all of a sudden Flash is such a bad thing!

Sniff! Sniff! I think I can smell our old friend Mr. Hype behind all this! The world has too great obsessions, technology and war. What can be better than a technology war! I’m not reading about this in Information Week or Adage. The battle between Google and Apple, Flash and HTML 5, etc., is newsapple-open-standards2 in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Not a good thing. Now the CEOS and Marketing VPs feel compelled to take sides…sides in a battle they know very little, if anything, about. The “techies”, the guys who are supposed to know the difference between h.264 and “Ogg”, are drowned out by the siren of the wielders of the purse strings. “We heard flash is dead, can we an HTML 5 player please, expecting, of course, that not will the vaunted HTML 5 play as well flash video, but even BETTER! Better being subjective, but sooner or later, being put in bean counter terminology for either saving or making money. But this assumption has absolutely no basis on anything other than what they read in the latest New York Times technology page.flash-player-ie-download

I write about technology and advertising in this blog. How the two work together, fit together, live together to bring value, entertainment and purpose into our lives. Ok, that’s a bit much, but you get the general idea. Not that the new technology wars were brought on or only effect the world of advertising. These “techno” wars go well beyond that. But advertising has always played a vital roll in the development of media technologies and the public, going all the way back to early radio. I like to think of it as the oil that greases the media wheels for, when you get right down to it, even free media is in its own way, “commercial”.

Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action upon products, ideals, or services.

02hype3And whether we like it or not, as the Internet redefines “traditional” media, its going to redefine the “traditional” commercial, as well, whether it uses HTML 5, or Flash or snake oil. The leaders, the visionaries, the creative minds of the media world need to focus on those new definitions. Its the technologist’s job to find and use the right technologies to make those new definitions work. “Hype” is now and always will be a part of our way of life, but let the hype follow the flow of the ideas and not the hammer and nails that put them together. Different tools do different jobs in different ways, that’s all. Some tools are better at some jobs than others. But, for the most part, any tool does much better without the hype.

I “A” You “X”… in Me “Tarzan” You “Jane”. Being an “independent” I have to keep my ear pretty close to the ground of the digital Internet. I may be mistaken but I think I’m sensing a trend in the “Help Wanted” from “Actionscript Developer” to “IA/UX designer”. Being a “developer” I naturally shy away from anything “designer” designer3and I’m sure designers feel the same way about developers. Its just the nature of the business that these diverse poles, although in desperate need of each other, still follow “ne’er the twain shall meet”. But they do meet. Somewhere along the line, in anything you see on the Internet that can be considered “professional”, is the blending of the two. Even in cutting edge agencies, this is usually attributed to some kind of magic that bridges the gulf between the creative and the functional. oldtvEverything you see on the Internet (and most technologies since the radio) are electronic impulses doing their thing and our uncanny ability to turn that into actual communication; sights and sounds that have meaning to human ears, eyes and brains. This is truly remarkable since there is a mighty big leap between a random electron and bringing a smile to someone’s face. Without that magic, we might as well be reading text in black and white, one page at a time. Where does that magic come from?

I’m not sure anybody knows exactly where it comes from, but I do know there’s an awful lot of people out there willing to pay for it! I’ve been seeing the letters “IA/UX” popping up fairly frequently but I had to confess I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant. So I went to Wikipediawikipedia to find out exactly. Lo and behold, there was no entry. So I added one. Of course to do it, I had to give it some serious thought. I believe there are so many buzzwords and acronyms in this business because if people act as if they know what they mean, nobody will ask you to explain them, ESPECIALLY “technical” terms. Even in this day and age, technology still implies “mystical meets emotionally suppressed”. I’ve worked at a lot agencies, particularly “digital” agencies. No institution works harder to avoid the image of a group of nerds and weenies, than a digital agency chock full of nerds an weenies. techno-weenie For some reason there is still the “great divide” between “technology” (hard-core nerds and weenies) and “creatives” (soft-core nerds and weenies). But that great divide becomes a just bit more narrow every time a “creative” learns how to build an actionscript class or a techie adjusts a css property just ever so to get the right “effect”.

By now you should be able to guess where I’m going with this. Yes, the ultimate “nerd/weenie/creative/techie/designer/developer” will be the wielder of the magic of IA/UX. There will no longer be any divide. The “hard-core” and the “soft-core” will smoothly blend into one. I’ve been in this business awhile, as far back as when “Information Architecture”info_architecture and “User Experience”user_experience were completely separate terms, seldom if ever used together, much less in the same breathe. But times are “a-changing” along with the vernacular and apparently the job specs.

So what exactly is IA/UX? Let’s start with the fact that you are reading this blog. That’s good. I want you to read my blog, that’s why I write it. But why should you? What do you get out of it? How can I grab you, hold your attention and even make you want more? That’s my job as a IA/UX designer  in a nutshell. The “IA” part is the “brain” part;  I use wordpress to enter articles. I use wordpress because I can frame those articles in a programmable template so that I can control the “look and feel”. The “UX” part? That “look and feel” is the emotional part. I don’t just want you to read articles. I want to “feel” them, to feel my enthusiasm for writing them. I want to make you see things through my eyes.  I don’t want you to just “read” the article I want you to “show” it to you. For this I use images, carefully selected and carefully placed to the give, not only the greatest sense of I what I am trying to explain, but why I think its a “fun”, and not just useful, thing to know. My little bit of “awesomeness”. So I leave it to you the reader…how am I doing?

My Avatars Will Get In Touch With Your Avatars…

My youngest son is deep into World of WarCraft (See the articles Wow Wii!, june, 2009). He plays at the highest level with fellow players all over the world. He puts on his headphones, fires up WoW and he’s good for hours…literally hours if not days! Thank god for school or there would be no reason to stop at all. On one hand I can’t discourage him, on top of the all the hours he spends playing he’s also picked up on how operating systems work, how to set up a network router and install software on his own. He even (though he’s loathe to admit it) knows a bit about programming (flash, of course). Being in the “computer” business myself, like any father I want him to be ready to go into the world on his own one day. And nobody knows better than I, that requires and will continue to require, a very high degree of computer literacy, at least in my own field. And I assume, almost every other.

Still, I also wonder what ever happened to the old “going outside to play” school of growing up. Apparently, every kid hears this from their dad if they have one. They write about it in books popular with today’s 12 year olds.
When I was a kid (…yes, I’m saying it..), video games like pong and donkey kong were fun but really just a few steps up from checkers and “Go Fish”. The real fun was playing with other kids, first, hide and seek and ringalerio, kickball and tag. Then as we got older, baseball, football, hockey or basketball with the local kids was the point to every weekend; weekdays too, if you had time after school. Way back then families had numerous kids so it was never hard to find other boys and girls my age (give or take 2 or 3 years) interested in doing the same crazy things we all liked. Of course, it wasn’t always about athletics since most of us weren’t particularly “athletic”. It was more about playing. More importantly, it was what we now called “social networking”. Web 1.0 (or lower) was basically kids in the same neighborhood creating a world of their own. Some kids you really liked, some you really hated but most were just somewhere in between. What we had in common, was that we were all just kids. We fought each other, we helped each other, we teased each other, we were sometimes downright mean to each other. But in one way or another we all somehow KNEW each other. Our strengths, our weakness, who was good at what and who wasn’t. We knew whose brother liked who’s cousin’s sister and whether or not she liked him back.

When I see my son hooked into his WoW colleagues, I ask myself is this any different? wow_imageOk, instead of the kids being across the street or down the block or in a neighborhood that had its own name, they could be anywhere in the world. He could be chatting it up and planning strategy with kids his own age or full-grown adults, all insid this ultimate fantasy come alive on a video screen. Is this leading to a more open, broad-minded world where my son will grow up and be influenced by lives and personalities thousands of miles away in some cases? Does this mean he’ll learn more, know more and do more by the time he finishes high school than I have yet to do in my entire lifetime? That would be nice, but something tells me it simply not that simple. My son my be interacting with people from all over the world but in reality he’s interacting with World of WarCraft and all the technologies that bring this wonder to millions. Its the technology that’s becoming a part of their lives…not each other.
For the reasons I expressed earlier, this alone was not alarming. But once I saw the following:

Life is Too Short for Social Interaction

Since I’m in the “viral” business, “viral apps” aren’t knew to me. Yes, this is meant to be a “parody”, but to be absolutely honest when I first saw this video I took it at face value. I actually believed Google had launched a product called Xistance. Why not, I’m part of the “Google World” and they launch new products practically every day? Nothing wrong with that. So when I as watching this I was naturally thinking, yeah, my boy would love that! Maybe I should tell him about it? Until, of course, I heard the final tag line, “Life is too short for Social Interaction”! My eyebrows furrowed but the question remained, would my son embrace this technology as something desirable? I don’t think so, he’s a very social fellow. (He has more friends on Facebook than I ever hope of having) But if there were such a product I can see him and many more like him not scoffing at it but eagerly signing up. Will Web 3.0 go beyond giving us new venues to express ourselves and keep in touch, or does it mean just the opposite, living our lives behind an impenetrable “cyber wall” that is far more “real” to some than anything going on in the “outside world”? What can breathing “fresh” air ever offer over the Kingdom of the Droids? Who’s to say?

“(Augmented) Man at His Best”

esquire_logo_smallJust got the latest, extremely hyped issue of Esquire Magazine. Something must be working because its the first Esquire magazine I’ve ever gone out and bought. Kind of surprising since its traditional market has been, since  its Depression-era inception,  eligible young men “about town”. 1934_1Of course, that alone can mean many things to many people. But my guess is the magazine has lasted so long (..and apparently still going strong) because that’s something all young men (and most older ones) would truly want to be. Including me. And, although I’ve only read one article (on a company called Psyop but more on that later), I was thoroughly impressed.

Always on the look out for the next “digital” marketing scheme, I’ve been listening to the buzz on augmented reality for the last two years or so…lots of buzz but no “sting”. I tried a few projects myself. The technology itself is not to unwieldly or overwhelming but like all skilled programming it does require time and more than a bit of daring to master to the point of actually being creative. But the guys at psyop have been cracking away for almost 10 years at “high-end” digital animation. I know because I actually replaced Psyop’s founder when he left Nickelodeon’s Digital Laboratory to start his company. geeks1Its no coincidence they are in a position to go to a David Granger (Esquire’s E-C) and offer him a chance to leap out there on the “bleeding” edge of trendy. Its as trendy as you can get. And from my understanding of Esquire, that’s what has been keeping that particular boat floating for almost 80 years.  Especially, in these days of publishing in “crisis”. Something tells me, Mr. Granger “gets it”.

What did I like about Esquire’s AR so much? Simple, it was really cool! Old fashioned, if I was 12 years old and did this I would have exactly the same response my “40-something” enthusiasm could muster. Except for some initial quirkiness with setting up the ‘black box” so my computer could react to the AR avator properly, it was quite a new experience. To avoid this next time (we’ll be seeing more of this in the future), they’ll simply put the “black box”  on a cardboard tear-out, or something stiff so people won’t have to kill themselves to hold it steady in front of their computer.avatar_small Also, if you’re trying it for the first time and are more of a “recreational” computer user than I am, well, its not exactly intuitive.  In the meantime, I was glad this is what I do for a living or it might have been daunting even for me.

But what I really liked, was the simple entertainment value. The initial Morton Downey introduction was really captivating, unfortunately, it ended in a shameless plug for his next film, but at the same time the marketer in me was seeing a LOT of potential. The other “features” weren’t robert-downey-jr-sitting-on-esquire-1209-thquite as beguiling, but I’m betting the one with Gillian Jacobs walking around in her enormous bathroom with only her Brooks Brothers shirt on will garner a fair amount of “cyber” buzz. And if Brooks Bothers is paying any attention (probably not) , they should be doing their best to “sponsor” the next episode. In fact, Mr. Granger should be lining up sponsors left and right just on the “hype” factor alone. The intentions are clearly to go “viral” perhaps even landing on the Ad Age Viral Video Chart.  The world of media is being rewritten and we are here to see it.

On the downside, two features were hard to manuevor for the reasons I gave above, the avatar being on a relatively thin piece paper in the middle or the edge of two magazine pages, all of which had to be laboriously  held up at once for an extended period of time. No thanx. But don’t worry they’ll figure that part out. I did. Finally, the feature I liked the most was also the most surprising and entertaining, a piece of modern jazz piano by an artist named Robert Glasper. It was a little over 7 minutes long and I sat through the whole jeremy-renner-windy-111209-ththing, and enjoyed it. Up to now, I had never heard of the guy and doubt that I ever would have. But not only do I remember the name, I’m writing it down. In one fell swoop, I was impressed, entertained and educated all at once. And I still haven’t read any of the articles! And you’re telling me this ISN’T the future?!  Next up…”Holo-mercials”!

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Looks like Volkswagen (with some help from TribalDDB) GETS IT

This video is currently number one on the  Ad Age Viral Video Chart. Considering how long its been on the chart (Since October…) that’s pretty impressive. But watching it will show you what happens when “Awesome” meets “Fun”…you guessed it.. you have “Awesome Fun” for everybody! (Well, almost everybody in OdenPlan, Sweden anyway )