Archive for the 'The Game Changer' Category

Rule #2

In my latest new business pitch -more posts on that later – we got into some great discussion regarding viral and social media programs when the prospects began asking questions around one of my favorite words – “authenticity”.

I couldn’t help but smile.

So often we encounter those who want blogs, want to be “part of the conversation” (is that phrase getting over used these days?), but say hey Marketing/PR – go talk to people about us, we’re busy. We at BluePoint got ourselves into a situation with a client exactly like this – the company needed a blog, but there was no one to commit, and we became pseudo ghost writers.

If blogging is a jazz tune, then we were playing air guitar. Air Guitar Champion quality air guitar, but air guitar none the less.

As we had inched closer and closer to blogging FOR them, I sent around my “authenticity” rant to all of those who would listen. Preachy, yes, but true, as anyone following the blogosphere can tell you, blogging is not a fake-it-till-you-make-it endeavor, doing so can really come back to bite you in the ass.

As a disclaimer, this situation happened as we ourselves were in the beginnings of our blogging an social programs (which sounds a bit like when your parents tell you, “Well, it was the 60s, times were different then…”, I know) and have subsequently found someone within the company who is more than ready, willing and able to write their blog, and is doing a phenomenal job.

But here was a company who gets it, who wanted to ensure our agency would be able to impliement these strategies in a legitimate manner. Needless to say I was impressed, and after giving our prospects the…ahem…edited version of of our authenticity standards, I think they were too.

This example just reinforces, if Rule #1 is “Don’t be that guy”, Rule #2 is “Don’t be that guy behind the curtain” – your clients (and prospective ones) will thank you for it, even though they may not get it at first.

The Game Changer: The RIAA Owns the Sandbox

In a landmark trial, a Minnesota woman had the guts to stand up against the RIAA, and lost. The NY Times is reporting that she has been slammed with a $222,000 fine (odd number right?) for 24 songs she made available on Kazaa.

Am I frustrated about the outcome of this trial? Of course. Do I think the RIAA is a crock? Absolutely. But what really “grinds my gears” is the definition of stealing that was used. I posted a story on my twitter page yesterday from Ars Technica, that noted Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG’s testimony where she defined song stealing as:

“When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Making “a copy” of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’,” she said.

 

The operative phrase in that quote is ‘makes a copy of a song, FOR HIMSELF”. A large amount of my frustration comes from the notion that people are expected to “rent” songs that they pay for. As the content owner, I expect to freely do what I want with my music – the three screen philosophy – I want a cd for the car, burned version for iTunes, and a file on my iPod. I paid for it, its mine, “stealing” from yourself is possibly the most ludicrous philosophy I have ever heard. What Pariser is saying is that the record label owns the album you just purchased; they are just nice enough to let you pay to “borrow” it for a while.

 

What’s worse, the odds seemed stacked against the defendant as the Times article points out – the judge set up the record labels for a slam dunk by saying they –

“…did not have to prove that songs on Ms. Thomas’s computer had actually been transmitted to others online. Rather, the act of making them available could be viewed as infringement.”

I am in no way defending her use of Kazaa, as she was most likely stealing music off of the P2P network, but isn’t it the legal system’s job to prove, not just assume? Its crazy I know….

Because of this trial, and the many settlements that have come before it, the RIAA has essentially become the big guy on the playground who used to shake kids down for lunch money, or a better spot in the 4 Square line. I hope that next time someone stands up to these bullies the RIAA, the fight is fair. The association is just delaying the inevitable anyway… eventually, all music will be free.

The Game Changer: My Prayers Have Been Answered

 

Today, Apple released the second most anticipated product of 2007, the Phoneless iPhone iPod Touch, the device I have really been waiting for. Full touchy iPhone-esque screen, thin-as-nano size and WiFi (yeah WiFi!) for YouTube, surfing the web and iTunes Mobile this thing is amazing. Now, you can have all your songs, video, movies – even contacts and email, all on one device without the pricy phone bill for sub-par service.

And the best part? It’s not too cost prohibitive at $299 for 8 gb and $399 for 16 gb respectively (always worth the extra $100 for twice the storage).

Talk about a game changer. The iPod Touch makes those lusting over an iPhone able to obtain the same looks and most of the great functionality at a fraction of the cost. I’m sure people won’t miss the dropped calls.

Oh yeah, and the house that Steve built also dropped some new mini’s and shuffles on us, as well as an “iPod Classic”, which is basically the same iPod in new skin and more storage. An odd move in my opinion, but to each their own. Check out Gizmodo’s full run-down here.

So consider me in line, on board, or whatever. I’m just left with one question….26” Vizio or iPod Touch? Decisions, decisions.

The Game Changer: The iPhone Cometh

Today is the day.

The day 6 months in the making, the day one small device, saves the world.

Ok, so a bit dramatic, but seriously, – this is a really big deal…right? Sure, other phones have come and gone, toting all new features, music, email, etc – but none have done it like this; and certainly none have done it with this much hype.

Now that the phone has been handed to a select few “chosen ones”, there are several preliminary reviews surfacing, possibly the best came in the form of David Pogue’s iPhone video-blog (sorry Walt). In one scene, he is attacked by an angry mob of coworkers, eager to get their hands on the device. Pogue proceeds to leap up on to the side of a cubicle where he begins preaching on the phone’s shortcomings – mainly complaining about the AT&T network, and EDGE Internet service. A few at a time, they begin to leave, until one man is left. He leans over an asks,

“Does it have an Apple logo?”

Pogue replies, “Yeah, see? Its right on the back.”

“Cool.”

Gotta love brand equity. This short exchange sums up the reason for probably 90% of the hype surrounding this thing, its made by Apple and, as the video so poignantly displays, regardless of flaws, the Apple fan-boy will still buy it. The Wall Street Journal’s breakingveiws.com column warns,

“…an iPhone may yet appear in every pocket now housing an iPod or phone. But if it merely becomes a rich hipster accessory, Apple’s stock would have a long way to fall.”

And that is my exact prediction. To me, the iPhone will become like a Ferrari; coveted by all, but owned by few. Think about it, an unsubsidized phone, with no choice of network at $499 and $599 price points, that doesn’t work with family plans and most certainly will not work with corporate plans because it won’t run the important apps hardcore business users need. The only demographic left IS the rich hipster.

I will use myself as an example. I am far from a rich hipster (though I am probably just as much of a music snob) but love Apple products, and though I don’t currently own a Mac (ask me again in a year or so), my household, like many others, does have 6 iPods. There is one apple sticker on my IBM laptop, and another on my Fender Stratocaster and spend more on iTunes than is deemed healthy by the FDA. I am a huge advocate for what the company does .

I want an iPhone as much as anyone, but the deal just doesn’t seem to work in my favor. I would have to break my Verizon contract, pony up the $600 for the phone (because why get a 4gig when you can have 2x the space for only $100 more) sign a new contract, which would be significantly higher than my Verizon family plan bill, plus data, plus WiFi costs (most aren’t free, right Starbucks?). Oh yeah, and don’t forget, the network is AT&T, meaning I would burn through minutes like crazy, as it seems like everyone in Boston has Verizon.

So, Game Changing? You bet. Revolutionary? Absolutely. But there is something in me that thinks the limits on this device make it not quite ready for prime time. We shall see.

Good luck to everyone braving the malls at 6 p.m., especially this guy.

.

The Game Changer: A Pirate’s Life for Disney

I am resisting the urge to comment on the goings on
at Ford these past few days as I promised I wouldn’t do a car post for a while (about time for my own Auto Biz blog I think). Check out the stories here and here if you are interested.

Some big news from Google-Tube this week, it seems Disney could be making some bank off more pirates than the ones played by Jonny Depp and Co.YouTube has struck a deal with Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co. to being testing their video fingerprint technology, in an effort to prevent further lawsuits, like the $1billion in damages Viacom wanted because of reposts of popular MTV and Comedy Central shows on the site. The video ID technology recognizes copyrighted content that is uploaded to YouTube, giving the media giants two options; they can either remove the site, or opt-in to a revenue share program via advertising dollars.

Making money off piracy you say? Unheard of.

But, a fantastic idea, especially for Disney. Imagine the PR fall out the house that Mickey built would endure for suing a 13 year old uploading The Lion King or quality Disney Channel re-runs like Boy Meets World (what ever happened to Topanga anyway?).

As the guys over at CrunchGear said, “everybody wins” and I agree. Kudos to YouTube for figuring out a way to leave the lawyers at home, and actually monetize illegally posted content.

The Game Changer: A Message to the Class of 2007

Having graduated from college a year ago this week, (that pretty much makes me an adult now right??) I think it’s important for me to share some helpful knowledge with the newly graduated class of 2007. This is by no means a “wear sunscreen” speech, which, now that I think about it – why was that thing on the radio? Then again, I don’t understand how a lot of new music makes it to radio.

 

But I digress…

Having a year under my belt, here are the few things I have learned, that you, the class of 2007, should know:

Don’t Settle:

Do not, and I mean, DO NOT take a job for the sake of taking a job. You are going to be miserable and you know it. Ride it out, looking for a job is tough, but when you find the right fit for you, it makes all the difference.

Patience is a virtue.

Set Salary Expectations:

For you marketing majors, you have more than likely become pretty sick and tired of all of your finance and accounting friends landing jobs as early as October, and then comparing astronomical entry-level salaries. While you may never see $50-$70k right out of school, there is hope. For starters, you will work far fewer hours than they will, so technically you are making more than them – just on an hourly basis. And second, there is a chance you might actually like what you’re doing. See how happy they are when they have to work Sundays, or eat dinner at the office, for the third night in a row.

Leave the number crunching to those guys, you’ll need them to manage your funds after Omnicom buys your agency.

Say Thank You:

There is possibly no quicker way to burn bridges than forgetting this cardinal rule. It is as important for you to make others feel appreciated and it is for you to feel appreciated. Say thank you ALL THE TIME – to a prospective employer after an interview, to a colleague after they help you on the job, to your parents, after they just dropped $100k on your education and to the hippie at Starbucks, who just made your tall-nonfat-caramel-macchiato-double-shot-nonsense. As a student, as an employee, as a manager, as a CEO, as a human being, letting people know their value to you, personally and professionally, is one of the most powerful abilities you have.

Two words go a long way.

Find A Mentor:

Trust me on this; you’re going to need one. Find someone older and wiser, that you don’t directly report to. Navigating the seas of your first “real” job is difficult, and it really does help to have someone to bring your issues to.

Believe it or not, you don’t know everything.

The 6 Month Wall:

This might be the most important thing I will tell you, so pay attention. There is this thing, this funk, this strange feeling that will seep in after a while. I have seen it happen to nearly every single person I know from college, it doesn’t discriminate. It is a hard beast to explain really…you will wake up one day and realize that there isn’t another semester coming, the bubble you have lived in for the past four years is gone and, as one of my favorite movies simply put it, “This is it. This is life.”

Some I know have changed jobs over it, or are at least entertaining the thought. Others have moved out, moved back home, went abroad, to the west coast, or wherever. My advice? Stay right where you are. It is a phase, don’t run from it. This is your real first step into adulthood, and its only natural to “freak out” a bit, but don’t let it get you down. If you have followed at least a few of the first four pieces of advice I’ve given, something tells me you’ll do just fine.

So there you have it, five things you need to know once you graduate college. Now, throw your cap, say goodbye, go home, hug your relatives, have a cold one with that crazy uncle and wake up tomorrow ready for the rest of your life.

Be a Game Changer.

The Game Changer: Boston – Land of the Red Sun, Sox

There has been an issue on my mind for the past few months now, but have only now been compelled to blog about – the $150 million man himself, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

 

What was the straw that broke the camels back you ask?

I recently received an email from one of my favorite area watering holes, Boston Beer Works, (As our managing director Tim Hurley says, “Now there’s something to put on the resume…”) promoting a new beer called Sanshin Ale:

 

Sanshin, the Japanese word for “Strikeout”, is an East-meets-West beer. Brewed with a blend of malt and rice, plus American and Japanese Sorachi Ace hops, then fermented with Sake yeast and American Ale yeast, make this medium bodied golden beer unique.”

 

A tasty sounding brew no doubt (how do you say “wicked good” in Japanese?), but it really got me thinking about how much things have changed around here since the arrival of the Gyro ball throwing righty.

Fenway Park has undergone an amazing transition this season to accommodate the Dice man. Dunkin Donuts, Avaya, even Lumber Liquidators are all changing their ads to include Japanese greetings. The Dunkin sign would be unrecognizable if it weren’t for the trademark pink and orange letters.

And something tells me we are going to see a lot more Japanese-themed product extensions in the near future as well. With the identity crisis that is Dunkin Donuts food (come on people, pizza and panini sandwiches?), I can see Rachel Ray pushing sushi for them soon, “Stop in now, because nothing goes better with a hot cup of hot Dunkin Donuts coffee like a fresh California Roll” ….it’s like peas and carrots right?

Then there was this article in the Boston Globe last month. If you didn’t happen to catch it, Japanese marketers are capitalizing on Dice K’s starts OUTSIDE of Boston. With Fenway commanding some of the highest advertising dollars in baseball, many Japanese companies are buying ad space in smaller market stadiums where he is pitching. Just two nights ago in Toronto, the usual “pizza pizza” ads on the backstop were replaced with a myriad of Japanese advertisements.  

Daisuke Matsuzaka is changing the game in sports sponsorship by creating a wealth of opportunity not only here in Boston, but nationally and internationally as well. It seems that everyone is reaping the returns from Theo Epstein’s bold move to put another quality arm in the rotation. While Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui (boo) were the first big name Japanese exports to play in the MLB, neither have matched Dice K’s impact on the game, as the first to really make baseball an international affair, for fans and marketers alike.

 

I think I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.


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