Good Samaritans at work

I'm heading out of town for a few days, but I thought I'd leave you with a short, applicable, something to read. It's called "21st Century Samaritans," and I wrote it for The High Calling. Here's an excerpt:

Thousands of employees helped bring your chair into the world. Most of them probably never thought about being connected to each other in this grand chair-making community, but they are connected. This means they affect each other. This means their jobs are not self-contained personal enterprises. In fact, none of us have jobs that belong to us exclusively.

READ MORE at The High Calling website.

The High Calling is a site about work and God.


Peter Jackson's District 9: On saying it well

I just learned of District 9, a movie by Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp, due to hit theaters on August 14. It's about aliens who land in South Africa.

Actually, it's about humans and non-humans and, I think, about apartheid, segregation, racial fear and globalism (and aliens). Not sure if sci-fi action is your thing, but this kind of marketing fascinates me.

First, the interactive site is captivating and extensive at There is much to do and see there, like clicking on map points to watch realistic interviews of humans discussing questions such as, "Do you feel that the non-humans are taking our jobs?" or, "Do you have a problem with the way non-humans communicate?" Substitute "non-humans" with _____, and you and I could answer these questions, too.

Second, if the movie does end up being a social commentary, then I appreciate Peter and Neill putting the time, money and thoughtfulness into saying what they want to say. (If it doesn't, you can chastise me later.)

Warning: motivation coach ahead.
Not all worldview messages require Halo-esque video game delivery, but if you have something that needs to be said; if you want to awaken people or refresh conversations about important but tiresome topics like racism, then say it well - even with aliens if you have to. Use creativity and technology and collaboration and whatever other resources you have. Tell cryptic, compelling parables like Jesus did. Advocate non-violent sit-ins like MLK did. Powerful and fresh communication methods abound.

What if you just sit in a cubicle designing graphics for Rice-a-Roni? Slim chance that you'll help ease racial tension around the world. But maybe you can employ your talents to awaken us to new ways of addressing hunger in our own D-9's. The point is, you probably have something to say. So say it, and say it well.


Snuggie Blanket and learned helplessness

I've been accused of having learned helplessness. Fortunately, I don't have the actual condition. What my friendly teasers meant was that if I needed something and someone offered to do it for me, I'd take them up on the offer. It used to drive our receptionist nuts (but she still got the paper clips for me).

Having said that, one might think I'd like to own a Snuggie Blanket. And I guess I wouldn't mind having one. But I'll never buy one. No, no, ha! Not because someone else might, but because I hate to see people like me needing products like these for the reasons given in this commercial.

Do you know what humors me, besides the little joke that surprised me above? "Super large, one size fits all...perfect for children, too." (Umm...see 01:04) That and the press-and-open book light.

Am I really that helpless?


Clopay: Truly enviable

I know it's a joke. No one's sitting at Clopay Garage Doors maliciously scheming to pit neighbor against neighbor. (At least, I hope they aren't.)

But the ad - despite its playful take on this popular American saying - has truth to it because we do suffer envy. When you have something nicer, I notice. Enough nicer things and my notice turns dark - either against you for having them, against me in the form of discontent, or against God or a boss or a parent who didn't make nicer as possible for me.

Now the interesting part. The print ad here did little more than catch my intellectual attention. I saw the Joneses reference and finer print about calling "for your free guide filled with advice on how to make your garage truly enviable," but that's about it. It was the rotating display of homes on the website that grabbed me emotionally. I watched them and said aloud, "Wow."

That's when I felt bullied. The web pics are stunning and I'd live in any one of those houses. But I can't. Is it fair, then, for those who have, to push those who have not, even playfully?


Finding a Marketing Shoe that Fits

As my friends at *cino say, I hope you had a happy "interdependence" day.

I want to let you know about an article I had published this week. It's on three types of cause marketing. One of the examples I use is TOMS Shoes. You may have seen the recent AT&T commercial featuring this cool company. Here's the intro to the article with a link to read the rest. Thanks for reading, and for sharing my interest in these matters!

We live in the age of awareness. The world feels smaller, its problems are clearer, and its solutions—so they seem—are more manageable. No longer do I picture Africa as a distant place with insurmountable, unimaginable trials. I just see a $10 mosquito net. Creative framing and ingenious invitations have made getting involved a snap. And the sheer number of opportunities provides even the tiniest niche of people with something to do.

Since folks are in the market for buying causes, marketers are in the business of selling them. But not all cause marketing is created equal...

READ MORE at The High Calling website.

The High Calling is a site about work and God.


Believe It or Not! Fuse Teen Advertising Study

Is it okay to question respondents' answers in advertising surveys? I find it nearly impossible to believe that people really know themselves well enough to provide accurate feedback about media and its effects. I've felt this way previously and I felt it again this morning after reading through the FUSE 2009 Teen Advertising Study (hat tip to friends at CPYU). Below are a few of my observations.

First, I like the design and creative layout of Fuse's PDF. This has nothing to do with my opening question, except that maybe it influenced my emotional response to some of the content!

Second (also having little to do with my opening question but being more interesting than my first observation), video game usage is third highest among 13- to 18-year-olds, after Internet and TV. That beats e-mail (#4) and social networking (#7). Yet when respondents were asked, "How would you like...companies to advertise to you?" video games ended up at or very near the bottom of every list of media platforms in all eight product categories.

For example, when asked, "How would you like apparel companies to communicate with you?" 71% chose "Television commercials" while only 10% chose "Video games." In other words, out of 12 media platforms, "Video games" came in last place. No wonder advertisers struggle to crack this nut. Here's the third most popular media platform (read: lots of attentive eyes) and none of the users want to see advertising in it.

Third, and now to my point: Teens don't really know what's going on in the world immediately around them. They think they do. They, like all of us, convince themselves that the way they see life is the way life is. But it isn't, so how can they answer survey questions accurately?

I came across an example of this in Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. In a chapter on surprising ways we are influenced, he describes a study done on adults in the 1984 presidential campaign. The study "showed how people who watched Peter Jennings on ABC were more likely to vote Republican than people who watched either Tom Brokaw [NBC] or Dan Rather [CBS]." Why? For no other reason than because Jennings' face "lit up...when he talked about Reagan." You can read the fascinating details of the experiment in the book, but here is what connects to our content at hand. Gladwell writes,

"[T]he ABC viewers who voted for Reagan would never, in a thousand years, tell you that they voted that way because Peter Jennings smiled every time he mentioned the President. They'd say that it was because they liked Reagan's policies, or they thought he was doing a good job. It would never have occurred to them that they could be persuaded to reach a conclusion by something so arbitrary and seemingly insignificant as a smile or a nod from a newscaster."

This phenomenon shows up in a Fuse question asked in each of the product categories: "What is appealing about your favorite...advertisements?"

Before I tell you what the teens said, I need to address two possible meanings for the word "appealing" in this question. The first refers to that which is accessible by respondents' opinions. For instance, a top response in every category was, "The ad is funny." Humor provides a noticeable, perceivable, experience. We can easily access and name what we find funny.

The second refers to that which occurs on the subconscious level. Many, many factors "appeal" to me that I do not perceive. I cannot easily access or name what influences me there. Therefore, I find it difficult to believe respondents when the answer, "The ad has a powerful message and/or uses powerful imagery," ended up in the lower half of the list in each category. I agree that funny advertisements have more (accessible) appeal than powerful imagery, but what about on the subconscious level? What appeals to me most beneath the accessible surface?

I also noticed that in every category the answer, "I feel an emotional response from the ad," ended up in one of the lowest three spots. Hmm.

Do we really know what appeals to us? Despite Fuse's informative report, there is more to it than what meets the eye. I'm baffled by this. Awed by it, too. We are amazing creatures with very little grasp of the world we live in. And until we have a very big grasp, I'll take opinion surveys with a grain of salt.


  © Free Blogger Templates Blogger Theme II by 2008

Back to TOP