This Little Piggie…!

Not that I’ve any doubts as to the future of advertising and digital advertising in particular, but it is a very nascent economic reality, ripe for both innovation and exploitation. In short, is the evolution of advertising from “external” messaging to “personal” communication a good thing or not

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Totally “Awesome”, Dude…

I seem to be hearing more and more about “Awesomeness” these days.awesomeness But not in the usual venues where one would expect to here the term frequently, video gaming, extreme sports, or rock concerts. Its seems to be becoming a powerful buzzward in economic theory and, as a result, advertising. Economic theory? Yes economic theory straight from Harvard Business School of all places. Check out the blog “The Awesomeness Manifesto” ( http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/haque/2009/09/is_your_business_innovative_or.html ).  In this article Umair Haque brings up the 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter and his classic economic theory of “creative destruction” with a twist. A true 21st century thinker, Mr. Haque has a very clear eye on the 20th century business models of the past, what I call “Smoke Stack” economics, and it’s now obvious failings.smokestacks

According to both Shumpeter and Haque, true capitalism prides itself on innovation creating new markets, new value and new businesses that are in turn destroyed by newer innovation destroying old markets, old value and old businesses. This cycle, always a “disruptive” process was also, by today’s  standards, a “slow” process”.  Horse -drawn buggies would eventually be replaced by automobiles, but it would take a good generation or two to do so, giving the people who worked in the buggy industry a little time to “adjust” to the new economies created by the automobile.horsebuggy The buggy wheel maker is replaced by the tire manufacturer, the buggy driver becomes the taxi driver, the horse retires to the stud farm or the glue factory; disruptive but not cataclysmic (at least not for humans).

The Digital Age has changed all that as the current “Economic Crisis” suggests. When things change these days, they change fast! But as cataclysmic as the recent events have been to some, its been barely noticeable to others. For example, while other “technology segment” companies like Intel, Dell, and even the almighty Microsoft have taken a pretty good beaten over the last few months, Apple Computer has never done better. appleproductsRiding a peak of “innovative” products that just keep right on selling regardless of the tough economic times. Products I might add that aren’t exactly “cheap”. I put the term “innovative” in quotes because according to Mr. Haque: ”

…successful innovation is normally a source of temporary market power, eroding the profits and position of old firms, yet ultimately succumbing to the pressure of new inventions commercialised by competing entrants.”

But somehow Apple has managed to avoid, even overcome this problem despite the hordes of competitors, imitators and naysayers that have been chomping at its heels since the mid 1980s. Why? Its Mr. Haque’s theory that its because Apple doesn’t just sell products, Apple sells “Awesomeness”. And apparently they can’t sell enough of it. A visionary in the truest sense of the word, the world has already forgotten that Steve Jobs was actually ousted from Apple in the late 80s for trying to push this very concept to a board of directors firmly mired in 20th century thinking. They thought he was crazy and actually through him out. Thankfully for Apple shareholders, when the company teetered on failing in the early 90s, Apple had enough sense to bring him back. He’s been “innovating” Awesomeness ever sense.apple-products-jobs

In doing so, Jobs has managed to avoid the “destructive” cycle. You cannot destroy “Awesomeness”. You either propogate it or you don’t. Once you have the knack of creating it, you have your “genie” in a bottle. Instead of Destructive Capitalism you have a self-rejuvenating Constructive Capitalism. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Apple) Steve seems to be the only one who “gets” it…so far. Yes, it is all about marketing but its much more than that. A basic axiom of advertising is before you can sell a product you have to have a product. Most people, businesses and advertisers alike, think of awesomeness as a concept not a product. Yet Apple sells it with every Imac, Nano and Iphone they ship. Constructive capitalism can be “green” or “organic” or whatever you want to call it when someone makes something they love and sells it to somebody who loves it.

Gen M knows “awesomeness” when we see it — that’s why its part of our vernacular. It’s a precise concept, with meaning, depth, and resonance.

True these kinds of “fuzzy-wuzzy” words have had little place in the corporate boardroom of the past, but they’re ready to become a part of the everyday vernacular of the future. Ad agencies, large and small, better be prepared to  create their own brand of “Awesomeness”, not only to sell their client’s products, but themselves as well.

insp_captkirk

From toothpaste to luxury cars, its going to be a tough sell going into the future unless they’re wrapped in a good healthy dose of “awesome”. The consumer of today is demanding it…the consumer of tomorrow will expect it.

There goes the neighborhood!

The biggest kick any technology blogger, especially an advertising technology blogger, can get is affirmation that their insights are on the right track! In one of my earlier articles “(Location! Location! Location!” – July 28, 2009)farlogo_107x841 I espoused the virtues of Internet “Real Estate”. In order to grab more of the public’s eye in cyberspace you have to go to where they go, i.e., the web sites with the most user density. By establishing relationships with sites like Google, Yahoo, MySpace, etc., you simply stand a better chance of getting the eyeballs you need, to see the things you want them to see.

Well it seems the candy mogul Mars Incorporated, nee Wrigley, have been picture-4technology pundits since “modern” advertising was invented. There’s a reason why every healthy red blooded American for the last 4 or 5 generations knows “they melt in your mouth, not in your hands!” How many ad campaigns you know have lasted for over 65 years (MMs were introduced to American GIs during World War II precisely because it was chocolate that melted in your mouth not in your hands).

skittles2To their credit, the Mars Corporation have been pioneers in technology for years. But their latest and greatest idea deserves special kudos for both insight and far-sightedness. Their Skittles website takes my concept (unbeknownst to them) and took it one step further. Instead of just cozying up to prime cyber-space real estate, staking out a claim and building their own, they use everybody else’s stake in the ground. Rent free.  In other words, instead of building thier own from scratch, they use other sites as their own.

At first this my seem unethical but in 3D cyberspace, its just the opposite. Its a “win-win” for everybody. Not only am I bowled over by that delightful concept but there is double affirmation of my own views to boot. The key that Mars/Wrigley used to open the door to Internet Nirvhanna is our old friend the “widget” (“We’re off to see the Widgit” – June 23, 2009).  For approximately 320×260 pixels of flash real estate, skittles.com provides access to the ulitmate chat group (Twitter), the ultimate friends page (Facebook) and the ultimate product catalog (Wikipedia) and the ultimate media-center (YouTube). In so doing, Skittles has not only leaped onto the Internet’s “beachfront” property but did it all for the cost of a simple “widget”. Its “win-win” because now, not only does all those skittle lovers have access to those hundreds of millions of Internet users, the Facebookees, Twitterers, and Wikipediates, but Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia now have all those “Skittelites” as part of their world as well. beach1

Unfortunately, with such a low price tag for such valuable real estate, the beachfront is bound to get awful crowded awful fast! But thats a future consideration. For now, bon chance Skittles!

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