Viral Video: World’s Toughest Job
Remember the “Oreo” moment at last year’s Superbowl? When the lights went out in New Orleans, a team of creatives came up with a starkly lit picture of an Oreo and the tagline “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” It got 15000 retweets, 20000 Facebook likes and the undying adulation of the press and marketing world. The little tweet that could won several prizes and heralded a new age of “real-time advertising”.
According to Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Braintraffic, and one of the most vocal proponents of content strategy, the tweet and especially the reaction to it did not signal a new era of marketing but showed what’s wrong with it. Only 0.008% of Twitter users saw the tweet but suddenly every big brand needed a “reaction team”. Similarly, when Coca-Cola decided to ditch their classic brand website and go with storytelling and content marketing other brands followed and soon it become hard for customers to find simple product information among all the “5 Mixed Drinks You Need to Try” stories.
So here is Halvorson’s message: Don’t listen to other marketers, listen to your customers and give them what they need. Don’t chase the shiny new thing, don’t just create more and more content. Instead, slow down and fix what’s broken and come up with a strategy you can actually sustain. Seems simple, but so hard to do.
The party I Fucking Love Science Channel featuring Bill Nye, Eugene Merman, Kari and Tory from Mythbusters, and host Craig Ferguson might have been fun after all, but Mother Nature did not look kindly on it. Rain had already soaked the non-VIPs who had waited in labyrinthine lines for hours (yours truly right in their midst) when a particularly strong downpour turned the outdoor venue into mud pit teeming with poncho-clad (no umbrellas allowed) techies. Probably not the best party choice.
A tie. Number one was a public announcement at the SXSW gaming convention: “We are looking for another lost child. Don’t give him Legos.” Number two comes from the always entertaining Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson): “If I want to check in for a flight at the United airlines website, I want to poke out my eye with a hot fork.”
Yes, it was raining in Austin today. And yes, Austin needs it because of the drought, blah, blah, blah. We are from Seattle, we definitely don’t need it.
On a side note: Uber which is currently enlisting all the assembled SXSW techies to lobby the Austin City Council via social media to scrap fare limits actually has a Pedicab service here. So if you want, you can use your Uber app to call somebody to pedal you around.
SXSW throws a lot at its inhabitants over the course of a day.
Where else can you go to absorb the buzz about the latest issues in everything from journalism to science to the motion picture industry – from household names that include Julian Assange, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and actor Kevin Bacon, respectively? (And on one day and in one venue, I might add.) Top that heady mix with the raw potential of startup entrepreneurs and the yet-undiscovered, and the quirkiness factor skyrockets. The quirkiness takes on an especially “We aren’t in Kansas anymore” tinge after deGrasse Tyson glowingly describes Fox TV and Seth McFarlane’s roles in bringing his show Cosmos to viewers around the world.
Celebrity fever packed all the above sessions, with Kevin Bacon fans scrambling to snap smartphone pics as he settled down to talk about the phenomenon of the parlor game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, in which players determine the number of connections a given dramatist is from the highly prolific Mr. Bacon. After all, Bacon, has worked with a lot of actors. Bacon has since turned this phenomenon with which he was initially uncomfortable into a charitable organization (Six Degrees.org).
Talking with Joshua Jake Vaughan about how he came to found Connect 2 Good seemed at first like an abrupt departure from the big thinkers and celebrities I’d listened to earlier in the day. His global perspective on philanthropy, though, neatly aligns his aspirations with those I’d heard earlier from Assange and deGrasse Tyson, who both emphasized global cooperation in their talks.
Fifteen feet by 13 feet – that’s allegedly the size of Julian Assange’s room at the Ecuadorean embassy. It has been the physical home of the Australian Wikileaks founder since June 19, 2012 and the British government has so far spent $8 million to keep it that way.
The thing is: for the most part, Julian Assange doesn’t live in the physical world. His appearances, his presence and (probably) most of his life are spent online, speaking to collaborators, and Skyping into large conference auditoriums like he did today at SXSW. In a strange way, the most famous campaigner for freedom from surveillance has become an always televised Big Brother, smiling serenely to large audiences and spreading his message of privacy protection.
Unlike Big Brother, however, he has to deal with more worldly problems. He seemed a little less strident than in his public appearances and his new beard and long hair gives him the air of man of words rather than action. Plus, Skype didn’t work, and when he finally came on to the big screen he couldn’t hear the audience or the moderator. In the end, the moderator, Benjamin Palmer, Co-Founder & Chairman of The Barbarian Group – who was slightly out of his depth – had to resort to texting questions to Assange’s aide in the background.
Thematically, Assange came right to the point. He described the NSA as a rogue agency on course to monitor everybody around the clock. “Their ability of storing information is growing faster than information production, while at the same time world population growth is slowing,” he made his point. “Soon, nobody will be able to exist outside the state,” he added.
I didn’t know Gary Vaynerchuck (@garyvee) but this entrepreneur/author/CEO of Vaynerchuck media really knows how to amp up a crowd. He jumped right into an energetic Q&A-session with questions submitted by the audience via Twitter. One surprising – and slightly weird – insight turned out the be the fact that apparently almost a third of the very large audience was ready to surgically implant their smartphone. The weirdest (and funniest) moment, however, came when the crowd demanded to know from the sign interpreter on stage how she translated Gary’s frequent use of “fuck”. She promptly showed the audience the finger.
Bio-engineering, if you believe Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab, and Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo. As technology and nature become more integrated, understanding and manipulating biological entities will be more than a hot skill – it will be an essential one.
Paying $6 for a mediocre latte in the Austin Convention Center and being informed snootily that “This isn’t a coffee shop, you know.” Yes, that did come through.