Wednesday, October 8, 2008

on: Product Placement

Grant McCracken ( is one of the most in-touch writers at the intersection of commerce and consumer culture. A classically trained anthropologist, he really gets what's important about how people interact, and how those interactions should drive marketing and product decicions. And he's funny.

Talking about a new experiential marketing strategy:

"The art of this deal was to evoke the brand without damaging the story telling."

How often do we get so caught up in the "messaging", that we compromise the message? Think back to the last car commercial you saw. It probably went something like this: The all new 304hp, flat six Boxer engine, symmetrical all wheel drive, servo controlled, adjustable limited slip differential, four door, four wheel, forty cupholder, with a gas AND brake pedal, Subaru Impreza WRX STI evo IX specV R-Type, now with XM radio, an iPod jack, a 40GB hard drive, indepedent front and rear WiFi hotspots, a coffee maker, two german fashion models and a years subscription to Car and Driver. Visit your Subaru for more details... Don't even get me started on the fine print, 900wpm voice at the end of these commercials. All features and no benefit.

My dad always had this to say, "If you have to tell me, it's because you can't show me." If you have to tell me how good your car is, it's because you can't show me. The key to preserving the story, to maintaining the integrity of the message, while selling the brand, is to create products deserving of their own stories. Show me the Subaru ripping through a country road and taking turns and speeds that would snap the neck of lesser mortals. Put the "Professional Driver, Closed Course" in really big letters at the beginning of the commercial. Then film speeds that you get you thrown off of the Isle of Mann. People love Jezzer, Hamster and Captain Slow because they dispense with the features and get on with the benefits. "The Alfa 8c is not a car, it's a piece of art. Each one should come with four dots of blue tack, so that you can mount in on the wall" or "This car is rubbish on the track, but you're not buying it for that. You're buying it to park outside of a Monte Carlo casino, in which case it performs spectacularly."

Not only is the production value extremely high, but the content is engagingly HONEST! They put things in context, good, bad, ugly, or indifferent. It's refreshing to hear someone tell a real story, about a real product, deserving of it's own story. Oh, and if your product isn't worth talking about, save the money you would have spent on ads, and go build the revB that you should have built from the beginning.

on: Icons (pt.2)

The iphone has no logo on the front because the iphone has UI designers involved. The phone is really only seen when held to the head. The logo is on the back of the phone, perched neatly in the crux created between the thumb and index finger. Yeah, they're that good.