Archives for posts with tag: love


Whenever a loved one dies in Germany, family and friends get together after the funeral for the traditional “Leichenschmaus.” (Corpse Feast – and, no, Germans don’t take that literally.) Very soon, the conversation moves into musings about the imperfections of the deceased. You can feel the love when they share their stories.

The big story last week was “Caine’s Arcade”, an arcade made out of cardboard by an ingenious little boy. The imperfection of his construct makes it so much more lovelier. It’s great to be adored for your perfection. But it’s so much more important to be loved for your imperfections.

Brands always try to be perfect: the glossy brochure, the fancy site, the amazing perfect app, the perfect commercial. When mistakes happen, they try to turn on the huge PR machine, try to gloss over the problems.

It might be time for brands to be less perfect and roll with their imperfections. We love people for it. We would love brands for it.

Him Her from Nessim Higson on Vimeo.

A beautiful meditation on love and relationships. Valentine’s Day is a few days behind us and we have more than 360 days to go until the chocolates and flowers show up again. In the meantime, let’s focus on what love really is: “Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.”


Gino and Angie Terranova
Angie: “You don’t really think about getting older. First of all, you’re aging together and when you see a person constantly you don’t notice big changes. You don’t notice, oh, you are getting a little wrinkle here and tomorrow you say it’s a little deeper. Those are things that just happen. I mean, I am not thinking everyday, oh my husband is 83 years old and my goodness I am married to an old man! And I hope he feels that way, too.”
I discovered this project by Lauren Fleishman a few days ago and was immediately intrigued.  Love Ever After shares the love stories of couples who have been married for at least 50 years. Inspired by a letter Lauren’s grandfather wrote to her grandmother during World War II, she began photographing and interviewing in the New York area as a way to preserve their stories and to illuminate our universal experience of love.
She tries to convert this project into an inspiring art book by using the Kickstarter platform. Additional funding will help her to photograph 15-20 more couples and produce a limited edition photo book.
What a lovely project and what a nice idea for a Valentine’s Day gift.
The artist already achieved her funding goal but the more the merrier. Check it out.

An exploration of happiness in an abstract way through the art of finding joy in everyday details. A simple and powerful reminder that life is as as good as we allow it to be.


The signs are everywhere:

Fly any domestic airline and you feel hated the moment you walk into the plane. (The feeling is mutual, as you can see from this Twitter search.)

Phone trees are a clear sign that a company hates their customers. They don’t even want to hear from them, they just want them to consume and be quiet.

    Banks really hate their customers. Fees, hidden fees, hidden fees behind hidden fees.

      Telco’s? Oy.

        When was the last time you stood in line at the post office? There are some exceptions but most employees despise each and everyone in the line. They feel entitled to yell at people not standing behind some imaginary line and don’t even bother to look up when talking to you.

          One word: DMV.

            How can you expect your customer to love you when you hate them?

            Just watch commercials.

            Dopey men.

            Women getting excited about a new laundry detergent.

            More dopey men.

            Kids who want nothing in the world more than a crappy plastic toy that accompanies their crappy meal.

            Even more dopey men.

            Did I mention dopey men?

            Since Roseanne left the building, the working class has become the laughing stock of the entertainment and advertising industry. They just want to sit in front of the TV, drink beer, eat fattening food and stare at skirts. That’s how we portray our customers.

            While we glorify people like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton: empty heads that never contributed anything to society besides conveying the message that being famous is more important than doing something good and valuable.

            You need to love your customers.

            They deserve it.

            They have been through hell.

            Most of them are still in hell.

            They live in daily fear because one more little disaster might cause their personal, financial apocalypse. They are the 15% of unemployed/underemployed people that don’t see a future. They are the employed that fear they might join the 15% very soon. They have given up on wanting something, they just focus on surviving.

            We are all responsible to create a new culture.

            Whatever you do in advertising, it influences our culture.

            It changes how people feel about themselves.

            This goes way beyond being empathetic.

            It’s is about taking off your Madison Avenue shoes and walk in Main Street shoes.

            It’s about stop pleasing your ad friends and start pleasing real people.

            It’s about making a difference.

            It’s about love.

            A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge – Thomas Carlyle.


            When I first moved to Los Angeles, I listened to radio a lot. One of the shows I liked was hosted by Marc Germain. He called himself Mr. KFI or later Mr. KABC.

            It was a nice show without screeners or any topics. People just called in and talked about anything they had on their mind.

            Over time, I forgot to tune in. I liked his show but that wasn’t enough to make the effort to listen to him. He never made it big, he’s now struggling with a weekly show.

            The first time I heard Howard Stern, I was riveted. I’ve never heard anything like this before. The topics, the questions, the outrageousness.

            I’ve been a loyal Stern fan ever since. I’ve sat in a parking lot for an hour to be able to listen to the Stuttering John and Crazy Cabbie fight. I scheduled meetings around his show.

            I purchased 3 different Sirius radios that all sucked, just to purchase another one. I didn’t want to miss the show. Each month, I fork over $10 to listen to him.

            Howard Stern’s magic is not about being funny, a great interviewer or an outrageous character.

            You either love or hate Howard Stern.

            There’s not much in between.

            Once in a while, his minions go out and ask people “Who is worse? Howard Stern or Charlie Sheen?” The majority of people said Howard Stern was worse. He lost against Mel Gibson.

            That’s astonishing.

            Actually, not.

            He was himself. That’s why he was so different.

            Being different evokes deep emotions in people. And that’s why he’s one of the highest paid entertainers in the world.

            Some people hate it. Many people love it. He didn’t care about being liked.

            He wanted to be different.

            It’s easy to be liked. It’s hard to be different.

            Most people want to be liked. They ask for advice how to be liked more. Ultimately, they become a commodity. Nothing to see here.

            It didn’t work that well for Marc Germain, it doesn’t work in our industry and it won’t work for you.

            You need to be different.

            What makes you stand out from the crowd?

            Once you know that, live it. That’s what people desire. That’s what people pay for. That’s what will change your life.

            Brands: Stop trying to be liked. Be different.

            The Facebook world lures brands into thinking that a “Like” has any value.

            It doesn’t.

            To be liked is being timid, being small, being easily replaceable. You want to be loved and hated at the same time. You need to stand for something. Something that evokes deep emotions. You need to have that friction.

            Or you’ll disappear.


            A few months ago, I caught the bicycle fever. I had to ride my bicycle, had to train other muscles in my body than just the brain. I looked inside the garage and saw my bike: dusty, flat tires and just not very happy being left alone for such a long time. Ok, time for a little bicycle spa treatment. Oh no, don’t get me start working on that stuff. I will mess it up. Two left hands can’t work miracles. So, I drove down to the bike shop and asked them for help. I was expecting a major bill: New tires, new brakes, tuning – the whole enchilada.

            The owner looked at the bicycle and said: “Give me 20 minutes and I’ll have it ready for you.” I grabbed a cup of coffee and returned 20 minutes later. There was my new old bicycle: sparkling, oiled and ready to race the world. When I asked the owner how much I owed him, he said: “Nothing.” I said “No, I owe you something. You worked on it.” And he answered “Look, it took me 5 minutes to fix your bike and I’m not going to charge you for it. All I ask is that you think of me next time you have a major repair or intend to buy a new bicycle.”

            That moment I became the biggest fan of this bike shop. And all of us can learn so much from his marketing strategy. He wasn’t looking to make a quick buck. He’s building a real business. A brand I want to share with everyone. His brand mission: Do the best work, be honest and trust me. The bike store next door can be 50% cheaper. I won’t even look at them. He has my loyalty for the rest of my life. It’s plain brilliant. We all have stories about handymen, small shops that survive by ripping you off. And we’ve seen the local news revealing the seedy business practices of small shops. He just stomped the competition with his brand positioning. We’re not going to screw you.

            What does this have to do with marketing?

            4 months ago, I had a meeting with a prospective client. They were interested in SEO, SEM, banner ads, some Social Marketing. Problem is, we don’t do SEO, SEM and banner ads. And, we don’t do the typical Twitter/Facebook Social Marketing. We want to understand business issues and help to solve them. We don’t believe in quick fixes, fancy campaigns to cover up problems. Still, some clients need quick fixes and can’t focus on holistic solutions right now.

            That’s understandable. There are business challenges that need to be addressed now. There are shareholder and sales imperatives. And there are deadlines. We could do it. But we wouldn’t be the best solution for the immediate problem.

            So, we offered them to help find the right partner for the immediate challenges. We gave business away. Money we could have used to reinvest in our company.

            But, did we give business away?

            We started to develop a real relationship based on trust. We invested a lot of time to help this client. Never saw a dime. And it felt so good.

            We became trusted advisors and skipped the supplier/vendor stage. It’s a different relationship. We’re here to help you. Nothing else. They trusted us like I trust the bicycle shop.

            Which is why they called us today. To talk about business strategy for 2011.

            We’re building a business here. Not a short-term profit center.


            “When we are narcissistic, we are not on solid ground (earth) or thinking clearly (air) or cought up in passion (fire).  Somehow if we follow the myth, we are dreamlike, fluid, not clearly formed, more immersed in a stream of fantasy than secure in a firm identity.” – Thomas Moore

            Mediocre brands love to talk about themselves. Just like the dull dinner companion or date that can only talk about him or herself. It’s hard to escape a dinner date, it’s easy to escape mediocre brands. I just tune them out, throw their stuff in the garbage, don’t even see them.

            Great brands talk about what they believe in. What they are passionate about. What they love. They take a stand and tell you what they’re standing against. Sharing with the world what your really believe in is inspiring. Sharing a passion with the world makes people want to connect with a brand. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you share your real identity with the world.

            What is your brand passionate about?


            Marketers love to capture people. That’s especially true in digital marketing. We always try to find new ways and traps to keep people on our site. We make it hard for people to leave the site, creating overcomplicated processes, filling phone menus with promotional messages, trying to up-sell people throughout the whole ecommerce check-out process.

            We act like jealous lovers, afraid that if they leave us they will never think about us again. It’s become so hard and expensive to get the attention of people, once we have just  speck of it, we never want to let go. Often people just want to get something done and then move on. They don’t want interaction, experiences or anything that prevents them from getting on with their lives. Think Redbox, ticket machines at a Subway, a soft drink vending machine.

            People are feeling overwhelmed with all the information bombarding them all day long. Somebody tells them about a new luxury car: They just want to read a quick summary. They don’t want to test drive it, they don’t want to request a quote, they don’t want to get re-targeted all day. They wanted information, they got it. Thank you very much. Let me get on with my day.

            You’re walking a fine line when you constantly remind them of your presence. You might become the annoying guy that talked to a girl once and now thinks she’s in love. She might fall for him one day but not if he badgers her with messages, love letters and other reminders of his presence each and every day. Or, even worse, traps her, making it hard for her to leave.

            Real relationships are patterns of mutual investment. You invest in me. I invest in you. If all investments come from one side, you don’t have a real relationship. You have an imaginary relationship.

            Next time you invest money in capturing, trapping and locking people in, ask yourself: Would you want to be treated like that? By anyone? Or would you want companies to invest in relationships of mutual respect? Based on a basic understanding of human desires, needs and mutual value exchange. (While writing this, I couldn’t stop humming “Free, free, set them free.”)