Archives for posts with tag: Innovation

Here’s a great example – From Digiday:

“TNT gave a dream brief to Breakfast, a tech-hacker marketing boutique of sorts, to help promote its new psychological crime show “Perception“: make something cool in a storefront space in New York City’s Herald Square.

Breakfast hatched what it’s calling a “real-time electromagnetic dot display,” an updated version of old signs in train stations with letters and numbers that flip over as they change. The twist: The display changes based on motions of those in front of it. When walking by, the sign displays mirror images of the people in front of it, reacting immediately to their movements. You wave, your dot-matrix doppelganger waves back. The movements knock away words, revealing clues to anagrams that the star of “Perception” uses to solve crimes. The idea is to physically involve participants in experiencing the plot of the show.”

A well-executed creative idea that’s perfectly aligned with changing consumer demands.

Goertz, a former client, reinvented the shoe buying experience. According to digitalbuzz: “How does a German online shoe store grab some attention in the real world? Well, a virtual shoe fitting installation makes sense right? Yep, here it is, the Virtual Shoe Fitting Store from Goertz, an Augmented Reality, Microsoft Kinect powered installation that is plugged into a giant screen, then rolled out as virtual shoe stores at central stations and shopping centres across Germany.

Using 3x Microsoft Kinects, a beefy computer and giant screen, this virtual shoe fitting station is basically an Augmented Reality Shoe Store, tracking 3D versions of their entire range of online shoes to your feet, allowing you to choose your favourite brands, flip through colours, sizes and then post to Facebook for feedback before buying on your mobile via a dynamic QR code that is displayed on screen.”

A good example how retailers can leave their static stores and create immersive product experiences.

Creativity says: “According to McCann Vice Chairman/Global Deputy Chief Creative Officer Andreas Dahlqvist, a key goal was to extend the life of the catalog in consumers’ homes. Its average lifespan is about two weeks, but with the digital offerings, content can be added and updated on a regular basis, making the catalog relevant year-round.

The print pages tease the additional materials with a smartphone icon that encourages shoppers to scan to see more. The app uses image recognition software from Metaio, and not QR codes, which makes it convenient to add further content to other pages in the future. With those, viewers may be alerted to new content via billboard callouts, for example, said McCann Associate Creative Director Koen Malfait.”

I’m dubious about that execution. In the age of ADD, it doesn’t seem likely people will engage with the catalog as envisioned. Personally, I would have left the catalog mostly alone. It’s a coffee table book, something you engage with as a still product. Aren’t we asking too much from people to pull out their phone constantly to engage with us?

Data will give us the answer. No matter, the advertising innovation train continues to speed up. Hold on tight, it will only get faster.

Clark Kokich, Chairman of Razorfish, speaks with Brian Morrissey, Editor in Chief at Digiday, at the Digiday Agency Summit.

Clark just released an interesting combination of book and app, aptly titled: “Do or die.” (The promotional video of his work is posted below.)

As Clark Kokich describes it, advertising’s past was about communicating emotions to change the minds of prospective customers. The future of advertising is about doing something that helps people, that matters to customers. Agencies used to be about changing perception, in the future they need to change reality.

He explains that agencies are struggling right now because they know in 5-10 years there will be a model for the future of agencies. Unfortunately, we don’t yet what the model will be.  That’s why everybody is muddling along, trying to figure it out.

My favorite quote: “You can’t apply the past formulas to a new problem.” So true.


I grew up in a small town in Germany. Everybody knew each other, everybody knew everyone’s business. Many people had dreams to leave that little box they called home. They dreamt of living in amazing places like New York or Acapulco. They wanted to experiment with different professions, life styles and learn by traveling the world. 99% of these dreamers were not good in executing any of these ideas. They were extremely good at bashing the ones that tried: “Why would he leave our town to study art? You can’t make money with that.” or “No wonder he ran out of money in San Francisco. What was he thinking?” When people that walked the walked returned, they were embraced with an implied “You learned your lesson: Stay home and stick to what you’re good at. Don’t bother trying again.”

The advertising industry is like a small town where 99% talk the talk and 1% walk the walk.

And the 99% talkers can’t wait to start bashing the 1% walkers when they fail. The last example is the #shamrocking meme by McDonald’s, that followed the #McDStories bashtag revolt. Before that, Honda paid bloggers to write positively about the Honda Civic. the “Homeless Spots” by BBH, J-Lo’s Fiat campaign, etc.

I’m not defending the specifics of these campaigns. What I’m defending is that the client and their agencies tried. They came up with ideas, they executed them and we were waiting behind the bushes to bash them.

Attend any media/advertising conferences and you’ll be inundated by talks about innovation, fast failures and quick innovation. While talk is cheap, it gets cheaper in the hallways while the advertising community bashes any campaign/initiative that didn’t turn out to be the next Old Spice or Apple’s ‘1984’ commercial.

Every time people create something, they stick their head out. They risk something. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail. Bringing out the big hammer to put them back in line doesn’t help anyone. It just ensures that less people and brands will take risks.

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin H. Land

Have we created an environment where people are afraid to even try?


I love to run.

When I started running marathons, I used to focus on one person I wanted to beat. I just ran them into the ground. Until I passed them and I had to find another competitor to beat.

That worked well for a few miles but around Mile 15, I lost my stride and focus. Putting all my effort into beating the competition, made me forget to focus on the little things: My posture, the stride, breathing, my mental state, my exhaustion level. All have to be fine-tuned while running or Mile 22 will became the torture mile.

That’s a very common mistake

Very common for brands, organizations and people. We focus so much on the competition that we lose sight of our mission, vision and performance.

It happened to Toyota when they were focused on beating GM.

We need to use competition to improve ourselves. The competition is there to help us be better, learn from them. What are they doing right in marketing and product development? How are they dealing with customer services challenges? What decisions are turning customers into ex-customers? Collect all of them and delight them with your product/service. Don’t be ruthless against your competition. But ruthless when it comes to your brand. Ruthlessly improving.

When I run now, I focus on myself and try to learn from other fellow runners at the same time. Once I learned enough, I’ll pass them.


I’m a big fan of Jonathan Harris. Ballons of Bhutan, Today and my favorite: We feel fine. His overarching theme is to capture and preserve memories and emotion from life’s most fleeting moments.

Recently, Jonathan Harris released Cowbird, a platform that hopes to unite storytellers in the process of deeply documenting not just their own lives, but the larger overarching sagas around them.

His goal is to offer a platform for the sort of longer, richer and multilayered stories you’re not going to find on your typical social platforms. The site states: “We’re trying to preserve and evolve the dying art of storytelling using technology as friend instead of foe.”


At the moment, the focus of the site is on The Occupy Movement, tapping individual experiences to depict a richer, more meaningful picture of our collective experience. A fascinating experiment.

And, why the name Cowbird? To represent the best attributes of its namesakes: “the slow, deeply rooted contemplative idea of a cow with the fast, efficient playful idea of a bird.”

In a Fast Company article he describes the idea behind the platform: “It wasn’t clear to me how there was going to be another level of compression after tweets, unless we reverted to monosyllabic grunts,” Harris says. “I thought we would hit some kind of wall, bounce back in the other direction, and people would start craving a little more depth.”


“We all have unique experiences and if we don’t pass them on, they evaporate when we die,” Harris says. “If there were a way to embody some of that wisdom so that other people could learn from it, that would allow us to grow on an individual level, but also a species level, from generation to generation.”

By encouraging people to document and catalog these experiences. Cowbird has the potential to become an organic anti-panopticon, capturing the stuff of life that can’t be sufficiently synopsized. Harris is confident that this is something people will want to do. “It’s asking something very different than firing off a tweet from your cell phone,” he says. “It ask a lot more of you as a storyteller, but I think it gives back a lot more too.”

A wonderful project.


Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the half light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats

Ultimately, we’re in the business of creating ideas. It can get very chaotic, unpredictable, extremely random. You can be the most disciplined person in the world, run rigorous processes; still: Idea development is never linear.

Our real challenge is not to have the idea but to recognize one little light amidst a sea of darkness. To take this little, precious thing and guard it from flaming out. To identify the potential, to see the implicit greatness, the possibilities to become something great and game-changing.

That makes our jobs as instigators, creators and innovators increasingly tough. We can’t just focus on the average, we need to fully aware of the edges because that’s where the best ideas come from. They come from thinking the unthinkable. From asking “Why don’t we?”, “How about?”, and proclaiming “Let’s do it.”

All of us are idea killers

It’s just so easy. Everybody can criticize ideas. Why? Because we can showcase our intelligence, our insights, our brilliant mind by pointing out the obvious inadequacies. It’s easy to crush fragile ideas and feel superior. While we congratulate ourselves for this act of forceful destruction, a small, weak idea that could have changed the world dies forgotten.

It’s easy and the least constructive. If you want to be regarded as a valuable addition to the universe (and your company) you should throw away your executioner uniform. And start carrying small little, velvet boxes. Coax, caress and nurture weak ideas. Help them to grow up and let them free when they are ready to become glorious visions. If that’s too much for you, at least don’t crush fragile ideas. We don’t always have to hear from you.

Sometimes it’s better to just listen and keep your opinion to yourself.


There’s a coffeeshop close to my house that I like to visit once a week. It feels like part of the neighborhood: very friendly and cozy. You see the same regulars, acknowledge and go on with your way.

Oh, and they cut their wireless service a while ago.

It felt like a nice break from the typical coffee shop. No strangers staring at screens, just people talking to each other. It was a nice break from our disrupted ADD-lifestyle.

Yesterday I drove by and they installed a massive HD screen, with Twitter updates and tweets from around the neighborhood. And the wireless is now running 24/7.

The innovation/improvement eliminated the one reason I visited this place regularly.

I love technology but it was nice to have a small break for a change. In order to catch-up with technology trends and emerging innovation, brands often forget about thing: their paying customers.

The marketing world is changing by the hour but sometimes we get carried away and focus on the latest and newest, forgetting the most important customers: the regulars.

Not everything new is worth your investment.

A short-term benefit might be a long-term detriment to your business. When you decide to alter the core experience of your brand, you need to make sure to answer these questions truthfully: Are you improving on the existing experience or introducing a completely new one?

– Are you doing it to keep up with the Joneses or is it something your customers asked for?

– Are you following a trend or adjusting to a lifestyle change of your customers?

– Will your customers thank you for it with additional revenue (spending more, spreading the word, etc.)

There’s a reason customers chose your brand

You’re doing something right or they would have left a long time ago. Innovate based on this core truth, not based on flashy toys.


I went to see a play in Hamburg yesterday. It’s called “The Last Hour”. You see a couple on stage, both are dressed as if to read the news or attend a press conference. The only other object on the table is a clock used in chess competitions. Behind the couple is a large video projection of the two faces of this same clock.

The chess clocks are set at 11.30. Each have half an hour to tell the other and the audience the things they never said, things they remember or would just like the other to know before the hour passes. At the end of each person’s half hour, the chess clocks’ red indicator falls. When this happens, that person can no longer speak and has to wait for the other to finish their half hour.

Raw truths are expressed, raw emotions and facts you never shared with anyone before. The relationship edges up to a better, more truthful level. And you wish they didn’t need the last hour to finally reveal things they were ashamed to share with their loved ones throughout their relationship.

Brands should be part of a “Last Hour” exercise

Imagine your brand has only one more hour of life left. Nothing you do will save it. It doesn’t matter why the brand is about to disappear: Competition, comets – whatever. It’s over.

Wouldn’t it be worth your while to get all stakeholders in the same room and to openly discuss things people remember about the brand, what they would have done differently, what was good, what should have changed in time? By having this fictional exercise, people will open up and discuss more freely what should be improved and often isn’t because of internal structures, egos or hierarchies.

The evolving business landscape requires us to work under the “Last Hour” premise

Some call it “Always in beta”, others think we have to innovate constantly, staying agile. Whatever you call it: Brands can be gone within months, killed by more efficient competition, sub-par products, PR mistakes or a changing customer landscape. Not expressing your ideas, sharing your thoughts with all stakeholders, not being able to admit mistakes and move on from them is a recipe for disaster.

There are more innovative ideas waiting to be released from within your team than from outside consultants. Tap into this amazing potential. You never to want to be in the position where the last hour becomes reality.

The “Last Hour” exercise might be just the right recipe to prevent this from happening.


What has been the most revolutionary change in the automotive industry in the last decade? You might think Tesla, Chevy Volt or Honda’s FCX Clarity. I don’t think so. It’s been the introduction of  Zipcar. A completely new business model based on human insights and understanding where the world (and each customer) is going. BMW is latching on to that trend by developing a “DriveNow” sharing system in Munich.

While the iPhone was a major disruption, I would argue the App store is the real disruptor by introducing a new, innovative business model. Apple integrated the hardware with a crowdsourcing model for the apps in such a brilliant way, that it was something materially different from just being a phone, but from how phone manufacturers make their money.

The formula for survival: Innovate your business model

Whether threatened by classic disruption or not, companies have a tough time innovating their business models. In fact, they don’t change them significantly. Companies that do manage to adopt whole new business models do it by creating entirely new business units that have new business models. They don’t do it by taking an existing business unit and turning it on its head. So, I don’t expect Honda (and other automotive companies) to get out of the automobile business. But I expect them to start a new unit that focuses on a highly efficient car-sharing system. (And, in the decades to come, I expect all car companies to shift focus from the car-building business to the people-transporting business.)

By exploring new, disruptive business models entire companies will become more resilient to economic changes by better defining and focus the core business. Business model innovation is so important because it allows enterprises to experiment with something that might work out, then filter it back throughout the whole company. It helps brands to better understand where the world is going and what you as a brand need to do to address a specific customer demand, independent from your company’s existing systems and structure. It requires from a brand to understand and focus on where the customer is going, where the opportunity is, and then build the right business system to support that.

Advanced enterprises will be able to compare how different the new business model is from their current one (particularly in terms of margins, overhead, and success metrics), they can get a clear picture of what they will need to do to grasp the new opportunity. Would it be easy because it dovetails well with their current model, or would it require to marshal different resources and processes? Knowing that, if the world really is going that way, then they can be flexible and respond effectively because they’ve already experimented with and built a business model that will take advantage of that shift.

There are many industries ripe for business model innovation

Let’s start with the obvious one: Media. Newspapers need to redefine their business model, not just putting a silly “The Daily” on an iPad. That’s not a disruption, it’s applying the old business model to the new world of content sharing.

Healthcare – how can we take out real cost and create greater value? Healthcare reform didn’t pay any attention to changing the business model. We need to make better sense of all the health data available to us and increase efficiencies.

Defense – we try to fight WWII over and over again. Enemies have changed. Our response needs to change.

Energy – we need better systems that reward people to save energy, give them options in using energy (Should my house be powered by coal, gas or solar energy – with a different price for each energy form) and energy companies need to explore new revenue drivers to get out of the pure consumption model.

It used to be enough to innovate by increments. Product 2.0.

The time is ripe to innovate through bigger dreams. Business Model 3.0


This column appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site

Kirk McDonald, President, Digital, Time Inc. keynoted at the iMedia Agency Summit in sunny Phoenix and predicted the next decade will be the age of storytelling.


The pendulum that swings between art and science in advertising has moved too far to the science part of advertising in the past decade. We have focused on making markets more efficient and not focus enough on moving markets. While there’s a good case to be made to introduce algorithms into advertising, we have gone too far. We forgot that advertising is about people with lives and soul and energy, and we have to re-focus our efforts on developing creative ideas and innovation in advertising to make meaningful connections with people. While a good delivery mechanism is vital to deliver relevant messages to people, we have to put as much (or even more energy) in crafting messages that connect more with the heart and soul of people.

We have to stop the race to the bottom

While his message is clearly self-serving (publishers can’t live on CPM rates of $0.23), it still rings very true. For years, the digital marketing community has been engaged in a race to the bottom. The problem when you race to the bottom: The winner is still at the bottom. For the advertising community to find its footing again, we need to reverse that trend and race to the top again. Connect with the heart and soul of people. Tell stories they want to share. Tell stories that inspire them. Listen to the stories of people and share them with the world. New tools and platforms allow advertisers to co-create and collaborate with people. This is a unique opportunity. The industry is at crossroads: It is our responsibility to stay away from the pull of short-term gains and focus on the long-term health of the advertising industry. And regain its soul again.