A month after the book launches, I'm finally getting to the blog post about my 4th book, which I've co-authored with my former client and current friend, Maarten Albarda.
Why has it taken me so long to write about it? I suppose a number of reasons:
I've been really busy with Evol8tion work, extensive travel and a ton of speaking, including giving the Z.E.R.O. Keynote, which I'm happy to say is extremely tight and being tremendously well received. Normally it takes me a while to find the perfect presentation mix, but with Z.E.R.O., I've hit the ground running...
I've had blogger's block or writer's blog or something to that effect. Writing a book really takes everything out of you and I've been waiting to find my writing groove at least on the blog
What I have been doing is writing Online Spin on MediaPost bi-monthly. It's been just over a year now and I'm happy to announce that I'm moving to the "Lead Off" position on Monday's, alternating with Maarten, who makes his debut next Monday.
Most importantly, Z.E.R.O. marketing is all about slow burn and long tail. It's about using existing customers to gain new ones. It's about utilizing customers and advocates in innovative ways, leveraging existing assets as opposed to piggy bagging on the borrowed interest and/or equity of middlemen.
In Z.E.R.O., our position is that a perfect storm is coming…in fact it may already be here. To make this case, we introduce several key arguments: business, economic, consumer, media and creative cases – any of which could – by itself - be enough to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but when combined presents a perfect storm scenario.
Our central premise is that if media inflation continues to outpace and run away from economic inflation, the bottom may fall out the media model. Put simply, it will become practically impossible to maintain minimum acceptable levels of reach, frequency, share of voice and presence in the marketplace.
Our solution for this eventuality is the Z.E.R.O. Manifesto, which holds that in a perfect world, the optimal paid media budget would be zero. In other words, brands would not need to spend a dime on paid media, because they would have enough customers; enough word-of-mouth; enough rabid fans and advocates; enough referrals; enough partnerships with entrepreneurs, startups and technology investments; and last but not least, enough assets to activate, amplify and monetize. What is an asset? Your people. Your products. Your packaging. Your clothing. Your billboards. Your trucks. Your stores. Your website. Your content.
Talk is cheap. So many books outline a problem, without putting forward a solution. Section 3 introduces a 10-point action plan, which presents 5 ways companies can implement Z.E.R.O. Internally (Cultural, Organizational), as well as 5 ways they can truly bring Z.E.R.O. to life externally (Strategic, Tactical). From compensation to budget setting; from flipping the funnel to innovation. It's all inside.
Whilst the Z.E.R.O. Vision is for brands to shift from being tenants (renting media) to landlords (owning assets), the "hidden message" here is the paid media will continue to exist (after all the world is not perfect), BUT it shifts from being the "go to" first port of call or star of the show to the final piece of the puzzle; a topper up or co-star / supporting member of the cast/ensemble. That's a significant shift as is the call-to-action for brands to audit their connections and ultimately strive for a 50:50 mix between direct:indirect (assets:media) by 2020.
Z.E.R.O. is not for everyone and I think it's important to manage expectations. This book is specifically written for C-suite executives that work for leading brands. Which doesn't mean to say that if you are a small business owner, this book isn't for you. In fact, you should look at the struggles and challenges presenting themselves to larger companies as your "foot in the door" or gain. In the 10-point action plan for example, the first 5 items that Maarten writes about from first-hand invaluable experience should all be second nature to you and non-issues. So skip past these if you like...or plan for the time when you get so big that you too will suck (as Jay Chiat once said)
And now comes the part where I ask for your help.
Buy the book. For yourself. Your clients, colleagues, partners, superiors, subordinates, friends, enemies, frienemies!
If you buy in bulk, I will do my best to help you out. Just contact me. I'll also try and sign copies for you, which can be done a variety of ways
Maarten and I know that this book will leave a lot of people very uncomfortable, but it's tough love at worst and a game changer at best. Maarten and I put it this way: if we're wrong about this, you're a winner because you diversified your portfolio, you retook control as a marketer and you invested in your customer...but if we're right about this, well then you just obliterated your competition, potentially changed the game and who knows...perhaps transformed marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. Maybe you even discovered the next Snapchat, GroupOn or Instagram in the process.
So if you haven't done so already, please give Z.E.R.O. a try. Based on the reactions we're getting from brand marketers who have embraced #zeropaidmedia already, you'll be glad you did!
It's hard to resist making this a looooooooooooong post, so instead I'll do my best to be as brief and succinct as possible, so here goes...
My good friend and ex-client, Maarten Albarda and I are co-authoring a book together. It's my 4th book (after Life after the 30-second spot, Join the Conversation and Flip the Funnel) and Maarten's first. Besides sharing the same vision and passion for the subject, we're bringing a 1-2 punch to the table in the form of advertising-agency perspective on the giant elephant in the room: media or rather paid media.
The book is called z.e.r.o. and the sub-title, "zero paid media as the new marketing model" kind of says it all (and in less than 140 characters).
The book posits that in a perfect world, your paid media budget would be z.e.r.o. - literally, but also figuratively in the form of an acronym which stands for Zealots (advocacy), Entrepreneurship (innovation), Retention (customer centricity) and Owned Assets (moving from tenant to landlord)
On one hand, it's me returning to my "Life after" roots, but on the other other (and more poignantly), it's our set up of our premonition of a perfect storm approaching in marketing; one in which the bottom could conceivably fall out of the media model. Fortunately, the world is not perfect and change takes longer than we expect, but then again...just look at how your world has changed in the past few years to validate the fact that sitting and doing nothing is not a viable solution.
For me, it's a bold move for two reasons:
I've made the move from being a 3-time published author to self-publishing (thanks to Richard @ Wiley for everything to get me this far and props to my new home, Archway Publishing)
Review the various pledge rewards and become a backer. We've named them after famous misers.
From the Hetty Green and Warren Buffet (digital and hardcover copies respectively) to the maximum reward, which delivers 10 autographed books and an in-person keynote from either Maarten or myself (only 2 available per person)
The no-brainer and value rewards are the Mr Burns and Mr Krabs respectively, that also include a 140-character acknowledgement (plug) in the book itself
We just pre-launched the book and Kickstarter campaign at the Festival of Media in Montreux, but here's the crazy part...in just over 24 hours after I hit the publish button (in stealth mode), we've almost hit our initial funding goal of $10,000. With your help, we'll push this over the edge and see how far we can take it.
The wild thing is that the book will become it's own case study insofar that it will demonstrate how we were able to self-publish our book for "z.e.r.o." by tapping into our advocates and leveraging our owned assets. It's U.N.M.2.P.N.M. circa 2005 retooled for 2013.
So...if you're part of my community and/or appreciate my content, show your support on Kickstarter with the pledge amount (or more if your heart desires). I will post regular updates over the 6 week period to acknowledge my backers (which would be you)
And all things being equal, Z.E.R.O. will launch in September of 2013 and will contain the 10-point action plan towards implementing this bold vision towards helping marketing evolve, normalize and allocate scarce resources to a re-prioritized hierarchy of connection points.
My latest MediaPost column is up, which focuses on how Nike used Fuelband to activate their #FindyourGreatness platform. Or perhaps it was the other way round.
It's a great example of what happens when "you put 1 (technology) and 1 (creativity) together? You get 12, August 12, 2012 to be specific. #findyourgreatness Day. On August 12, all Fuelband users had an opportunity to set a “world” record of Fuel earned in a single day. A global challenge uniting every single customer. In addition, individuals had the opportunity to set their own personal best and break their records."
I began my thought leadership/writing career with a column on Mediapost and so it is fitting to return to the scene of the crime so to speak for a new weekly column on all things Innovation.
My primary focus will be on technology-led innovation, which is about as wide and deep as the blue ocean (digital, social, mobile, emerging, startups etc), but I hope to also dial into true originality, disruptive thinking and creative flair as it relates to the ability to tell stories, surprise and delight (some might call it classic advertising...or at least my good friend Don would)
Mediapost were very kind to write up this piece, which outlines my return to weekly thought leadership columns and also gives a pretty good update on my update so to speak.
Its crusaders are the passionate pioneers that represent a new marketing reality never seen before in history. This is the story of the evolution of the Internet -- and its progression from a superficial flavor of the month to quite possibly, the most profound weapon ever presented to the treasure-chest of the marketing community.
The war in question is a war against ignorance and those who resist change. It is being fought on two playing fields, by two very different armies. Their insignias are the head and the heart. Progress has been varied.
The infantry of the head, earmarked by research, data, metrics and media has emerged victorious.
The warriors of the heart, however, have not fared as well. Along the way, there have been many casualties, but when the dust settled, the brave and the dedicated creative community stood firm, supremely focused on their prime directive: to win the battle for the heart.
I wrote that blurb in 2004 when I put together a roadshow called “The Battle for the HeArt”. You’ll notice that I capitalized the A in Heart, as this was about art; the right brain; creativity…or the lack thereof in the online space. My position was that online was dominated by science; the left brain; analytics; metrics.
And in the vacuum, was an infinite void of desolate inspiration.
Battle for the HeArt was a Creative Roadshow, designed to celebrate, uplift and showcase the best online creative you’d never seen or perhaps had, but you couldn’t quite articulate or put your finger on exactly what made it unique or special.
The show lasted two years and save for the fact I founded my first company, crayon, it would have continued. Interestingly enough, 2006’s Battle (the third year) would have been sub-branded as Madison + Mountain View (I even registered the URL www.madisonandmountainview.com, with a positioning that the future of advertising lay in technology.)
It’s kind of sad and even pathetic that we’re asking the same questions today. We're questioning the lack of creativity and innovation in the online space. It’s not too late for an intervention though, but I fear that soon enough, it will be unless we inject a good dose of truly game-changing digital whoopass into the mix.
My antidote is the intersection of technology and advertising; Mountain View meets Madison Avenue. I’ll use Albert Einstein's famous quote to illustrate my point: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
Dictionary.com defines creativity as “productive originality.”
Originality = Doing things Differently Productive = Getting a Result
“Doing things differently to get a result” is, in fact, the exact opposite of doing the same thing over and over again to get a different result. So it hit me: Creativity is the solution to insanity; the remedy to mediocrity and status quo.
Similarly, the dictionary defines innovation as new approaches that achieve positive outcomes. Is it coincidence that this is a synonym for creativity? I think not.
I think this underscores that the future of marketing is a digital one, a tech-laden one. Brands have got to innovate in order to evolve and arguably, survive. I believe that the intersection between marketing and start-ups is one way to mix together creativity and innovation into a powerful cocktail.
The catch perhaps is that innovation is typically associated with product or packaging R&D, as opposed to marketing itself. It’s time to change that.
I always like to quote photographer Diane Arbus who said: “It's what I've never seen before that I recognize."
Our consumers are the same. They ignore what they’ve seen before time and time again. And they notice the unanticipated. They crave the unexpected, the unpredictable, the surprise and delight. They long for the intellectual sparring that comes with an idea that provokes, irks, challenges or dares them to think or act different.
And they’re not insane, although we might be if we don’t rethink the way we go to market, or the way we utilize the full potential of the Internet and its social portfolio of gizmos and gadgets. The way we partner with our consumers -- and the way we combine what we do best (creativity) in a form, function and utility-laded service that truly delivers transformational (innovation) value.
Could this be the year that advertiser's finally gave up? Forget #brandbowl. This was the year of #blandbowl.
Last night I was live tweeting as part of Wharton's Future of Advertising program and so actually so most - if not all of the ads - versus actually socializing with human beings and even enjoying the game.
It gave me the opportunity to utter WTF about 20 times.
I believe there were about 54 to 70 spots depending on different accounts (which may include halftime show or perhaps pre-game), but that seems like a LOT of clutter.
In addition, according to @AlanKercinik - who was keeping me updated on - auto made up about 31% of ALL creative spots. Seriously guys, how are you not all hopping mad that you all just canceled each other out and pretty much zeroed out any ability to differentiate.
Flashy Flashy Flashy. Fast Fast Fast. Bright Bright Bright. Hashtag. Dogs. Hot Chicks. Dogs. 4 Wheels. Hashtag. Overproduced Hyperbole. Hashtag. Fast. Fast. Fast. Brand in question: ?????????
In general, I couldn't believe how over the top and overproduced some of the spots were, to the point where they went completely over the heads of people watching.
Reminder: Most people are inebriated and/or watching with groups of people making lots of noise with the sound of the TV either being drowned out by the noise or turned down.
Reminder: Copy. Text. Spoken Word don't work. Keep it Simple. Stupid which is why Coke's Polar Bears works. It's safe and predictable, but people get it.
To me, I think advertising in the Super Bowl has become a giant ego trip for most advertisers (like the tax prep software one that no one will remember tomorrow) and it's all about the announcement itself, rather than the execution. Look at me...I'm a playa!!!! Yawn.
It should be so simple i.e. focus all your efforts on hitting the fast ball zipping straight down Broadway for a game winning home run...made all the easier if an existing platform/equity can be leveraged (e.g. Polar Bears) but instead it becomes a completely insider and incestuous attempt to outdo one another in terms of lavish production.
...but this post was really meant to be about innovation (or the lack thereof) from the Big Game. Starting with basic new media best practices and integration like making sure your freaking website doesn't crash (Coke, Acura) or how about the complete neglect of your digital storefront; your home i.e. your website.
From what I heard only Bud Light did some kind of intelligent drive to digital via it's Facebook integration to get people to donate money to Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), although I completely missed it during the spot. People were saying, "why did they use such an ugly dog?"
All in all, with over 50 spots, only 2 companies did anything that could be called "innovative". Let me be clear...I take my hat off to both companies for their efforts and I wag my (M.I.A. middle finger) at all the others for zzzzzzzz....boring, bland, safe and mediocre creative. That said, I'll also offer a little commentary on what worked/could have worked better.
The first was Coke's Polar Bowl, which apparently had two Andy Serkis characters covered in bulbs reacting live to the game itself and broadcasting themselves as two Polar Bears supporting the Pats and Giants respectively. Ordinarily that would be awesome to follow this live streaming, except for:
The scarf colors were ambiguous given both teams sort of wear the same colors
The site went down
It didn't work on iPad or iPhone, which imho, is how many people would be watching TV these days and especially at a party. I'm sure someone at Coke or their agencies will explain this to me...and I assume it would have worked on Android, but either way, I think it was a missed opportunity
Next time, take into account how people typically watch TV in a multichannel multiscreen environment.
The second was the Shazam Bud Light integration during the Half Time show with Madonna. The idea was that you'd Shazam the new song by Madonna and then get to download the LMFAO remix. The challenges here were as follows:
Shazam had to work over the noise of the party (it did)
There were several steps that had to be followed e.g. verifying age, e-mail address and filling out marketing opt-in boxes (it is what it is)
The disappointment of not being one of the first million as what happened to me...
Overall, the big winners here were Shazam and LMFAO/Madonna...both getting ridiculous downloads of app and track respectively. I feel Bud Light scored 1,000,000 kudos but fell short on anything from 1 disappointed customer (me) to countless many more millions of potential new customers and/or exisiting loyalists.
Next time don't use a cap and set a record for music downloads!!!
And that's about it from the Super Bowl that really was a Super Bust when it comes to creativity, originality and innovation.
Matt Straz just wrote a short and succinct post on Mediapost's Online Spin, giving 6 reasons why you *shouldn't* join a startup. In short, the idea is that you should do it for the right reasons, as opposed to:
You probably won't get rich
The odds are against you
You will work really hard
Things could get ugly
You may have to buy your own drinks
Someone has to work at the big companies
One comment by Kurt Ohare adds 4 more:
Don't join unless you are passionate about the product
Don't expect a normal work-life
(paraphrasing) if you're not a self-starter, then this isn't for you i.e. if you like delegation, micromanagement and being spoon fed like a good employee (I might have taken a few more liberties there)
(paraphrasing) don't join unless you're prepared to put skin in the game...which can translate into reduction of salary, investment of time and/or $$$
Matt is a former agency guy. And he's also (according to his bio) someone who has recently exited a startup i.e. he's been around the block at least one time.
I love the article based on the fact there is no doubt a mixture of his own biases, preconceptions, wisdom, experience and perhaps even neuroses built into the perspective.
Madison Avenue agencies are going to continue to lose talent to Startup Nation...and where they are able to entice those on the other end of the coast to defect from the Valley to the Avenue, this will be shortlived.
I guess Matt is giving fair warning that the grass is not always greener on the other side, especially if reasoning, rationale and/or motivations are suspect.
Personally, Every single reason is exactly why I think people should join startups, led by these simple assertions:
With technology today, anything...and I mean, anything is possible.
Now is the time to dream it...and to do it (as Walt would have once said).
Innovation is no longer a nice-to-have, but a strategic imperative and necessity
We are living through unprecedented times, where economic, social, cultural and creative disruption and upheaval are fastly becoming the new normal...the new status quo.
As Bill Bernbach once said, safe advertising is the riskiest advertising of all and I think people are going to be faced with a multitude of push and pull drivers which will absolutely affect how they choose to spend - or invest their professional lives.
Here's what I would leave you with:
What legacy will you leave behind?
How are you making a difference?
How will you change the world...for the better?
How sure are you that your loyalty in your company will be rewarded with a gold Rolex versus a pink slip?
There's a saying that goes, "No one ever said on their deathbed, I should have spent more time in the office." Says who?
Matt - thank you for writing your article. I think the spirit is captured in the first and last paragraphs:
America is a startup nation
A startup is an incredible opportunity to make a significant contribution
...but it is not for everyone. And the last thing we need right now is for more "noise" versus "signal".
It's time to make America great again. And it's time to make the world great again. That's never going to happen sitting buried in a cubicle, thinking "If only...."
I just finished recording one of my monthly "debates" with my industry colleague and friend, Mitch Joel. I had two topics I wanted to discuss - the first of which was #occupywallstreet. We had a really terrific conversation around the movement and right at the end of the conversation, Mitch innocently brought up my second topic, which we very briefly skirted.
So now I want to discuss further...
Steve Jobs. Legend. Icon. Visionary. Dreamer. Ideal Client. Over the past few weeks, we've said good bye to a business genius. To be sure, Steve Jobs grew, turned Apple around and then extended this leadership by transforming it into the world's most valuable company, taking over from Exxon Mobile (at least this was in August)
And then, as if by some grand design, Steve Job's commissioned Biography, aptly titled, "Steve Jobs," comes out days after Jobs passes away and rockets to number 1 on Amazon.com. Hot on these heels are a number of press appearances, including the book's author, Walter Isaacson, making an appearance on 60 minutes.
And as I'm watching Isaacson and listening to various accounts of Jobs' life, I'm deeply troubled. The fact remains, Jobs does not appear to be a very nice man at all. In fact, he comes across as a proper son of a bitch. Denying paternity rights to his child, refusing to give options to one of his long time colleagues and when a sympathetic co-worker offers to give some of his options if Jobs matches him, Job says, "good idea...I'll give zero and you give zero".
Jobs also critiques Bill Gates in the biography, calling him "basically unimaginative" and someone who "shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas". Not that we needed a book to see Mac vs PC commercials which did likewise. This to a man who has pledged to give away half his fortune to charity.
I'm confused. I see the iconic Apple commercial that talks about the people that are crazy enough to change the world and they are all good people.
Or maybe there weren't, but chose not to commission a biography.
I wonder if this commercial was briefed by Steve Jobs to be about Steve Jobs i.e. his future legacy.
I'm confused because I wonder if being a visionary genius and being a mensch are mutually exclusive.
I'm confused because I wonder why Apple doesn't bring all those jobs back to America as it continues to manufacture luxury products at bargain basement prices and charge a fortune to an endless sea of willing lemmings.
I'm confused because the same sea of lemmings are probably occupying wall street right now with a 110% incidence of owning at least 1 i-product.
...and I'm probably one of them as I have my iPad, MacbookAir, iPhone, iPod and about to make the permanent switch away from PC to Mac. And I bought the book as well.
So am I a hypocrite? Probably. A confused one, because I'm not sure if it's fair or right to mix personality with profits - or at the very minimum, a person's private life with their business leadership.
Was Steve Jobs a right ole meanie? Most likely, but the people around him adored him and look back on even the public displays of displeasure with pride. The honor of getting to work with a true legend...
So is all of this irrelevant? At the end of the day, isn't it just about manufacturing the world's greatest suite of products? Perhaps and perhaps not. The world is certainly blurring and younger consumers in particular are not separating the products the buy from the companies' ethics, morals and business practices that manufacture them.
Personally, I will choose to divide Steve Jobs the man, CEO, business leader and visionary into two buckets. I will discard the things about him that I don't identify or agree with, or approve and I will integrate the practices, principles and ideas which I can learn from.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
Steve Jobs was a complex man to be sure. I'm not sure it's fair to hold him to a higher standard, after all he was human. Very human. Sadly so. I also don't think it's right to worship him as an idol - false, American or otherwise. That too ends badly for all.
I guess I will continue to support the company, based on my - along with seemingly everyone else's - inability to "force quit" this addiction to design, functionality and sexiness in general. Although I'm not sure how long this may be the case if the company chooses not to adapt, evolve and be a better company in the wake and shadow of its creator, who might not always have been as such.
You can quote them.
Disagree with them.
Glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do it ignore them...
What's going on in Japan right now is nothing short of catastrophic. And it's not even remotely over yet.
The world is paying attention. The world is listening. Hopefully the world is learning too. Mother Earth is not happy.
Thankfully the world is responding as well with incredible empathy, volunteerism and contributions.
As you may recall, about a year ago I "auctioned" myself off for a Keynote presentation in exchange for a minimum bid of $10,000. 100% of the proceeds would go to the Red Cross to help with Haiti Earthquake relief. I actually ended up getting two very generous companies (Mars and Nascom) to step up and was able to send $20,000 to the Red Cross.
This time I want to step it up and thought I'd do it in association with #sxswcares (started by CauseVox's Rob Wu, Leigh Durst, Jess Lin and Deb Ng in association with the SxSW organizers).
So here are the details:
I'm "auctioning" off two presentations.
Update: Happy to inform that the first is already gone
The price is USD $15,000 for a Jaffe Keynote (my speaking page is here)
The minimum offer is $15,000, but of course you can give more.
100% of the proceeds will go to Red Cross via SxSW.
I also have several Platinum and Gold passes to next year's festival to give away (Platinum to the higher bidder of the two and Gold to the lower)
The only small print (if at all) is that travel expenses are over and above and in accordance with my usual terms and conditions (inquire within)
I also call on other book authors, public speakers and consultants to follow suit and join the #keynoteforacause movement. Perhaps $15,000 is too rich for your (tiger) blood. Perhaps it's a fraction of what you normally charge, but every little bit counts.
Our thoughts, prayers and wishes are firmly with the people of Japan during their time of need.
to the reincarnated and reinvigorated Jaffe Juice.
What was once a weekly op-ed column is now an unshackled, uncensored and uninhibited dialogue
on the subjects of new marketing, advertising and creativity.