Archives for posts with tag: reality

fastfoods-ads-vs-reality-bigmacWe’ve all seen these images before. Advertising is about making things look desirable. However, there comes a point where reality and desire diverge, and the ad industry is really bad in recognizing that point.

That’s when we enter the world of “Butt Pad” advertising.

Apparently, there are people out there who want a shapely behind. The enhancement industry is extremely happy to offer people devices that lift, pad and shape the derriere. Here’s the problem: Once you leave the club/bar/part, the pad has to be removed. Suddenly, reality sets in and you’re stuck with what nature has blessed you with.

The majority of ads are guilty of this behavior.

They get you excited. They get you going. They make you want to take the next step by stimulating your imagination. At one point, they have to reveal the product: It’s perfectly acceptable. It’s fine.

But it’s nowhere near the hype represented in the full glory of the heavily padded presentation.

Shouldn’t we be happy with what we actually have?

Advertising is not in the business to lie to sell a product.

Good advertising communicates the truth of a product in the best possible light. It’s like going on a date: As an introvert, I wouldn’t try to be an extrovert. However, as a mediocre dresser, I would put my best food forward. Padded ads express shame in the core offering. They might give you short-term advantages, look good in the limelight, but in the end brand are eroding long-term customer faith in brand, favoring a cheap sale.

My question is, when will we start being happy with what we actually have? Advertising shouldn’t need to lie to sell a product. The best ads represent the truth of a product in the best possible light. But padded ads only express shame in the core offering. They may look good in a skirt and top, but you are eroding long term customer faith in you, in favor of a cheap sale.

What to do?

If you’re not comfortable in your skin, you have bigger problems than the shape of your derriere. If you’re not proud of your product, you have bigger problems than just your advertising strategy.

Explore and determine what you love about yourself and build a wardrobe of communication points around that. Be proud of who you are. Hold your head high. Be proud. Most importantly, deliver on your strengths rather than hiding your perceived weakness behind a fake reality show you can never live up to.


We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. – Charles R. Swindoll

Just because you can’t bear reality, doesn’t mean you should argue with it. Just think about our existence in this universe. We were born billions of years after it started to exist, and we will be dead and long forgotten before it ends. The conditions that allowed us to live this amazing life were created in a distant past beyond our comprehension through forces we can’t measure and understand. The sooner we accept these facts  and come to terms with it, the sooner we may be able to live a proper life with a healthy perspective.

That doesn’t mean life is meaningless or without a purpose. It means humanity only counts in the immediate present. Your opinion. Your objections. They have no effect. Nobody keeps a giant Kindle filled with that record. What you have is in front of you. What you have is what happens.

That’s all you got. That’s all you control. Focus on that.


One of the highlights of ad:tech Tokyo was the keynote of Clark Kokich, Chairman of Razorfish. He introduced the audience to his soon to be released book “Do or Die: A complete rethinking of how brands create and sustain customer relationships.” Interestingly, the book will be released as an iPad app, not a printed book. (The preview site is still a work in progress and not live, and the publishing date of the book wasn’t clear to me, definitely early enough to be a stocking stuffer.)

Advertising used to be about changing perception. Now it’s about changing reality.

That was one of Kokich’s most dramatic paradigm shifts the advertising industry has to deal with in the future. While Einstein might not agree with him, (He famously said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”) but I believe Kokich understood and distilled a very important insight advertisers have to deal with for a long time to come.

Things aren’t always what they seem. Marketers relied on this fact to make us see things- the way they want us to see them. But wandering through life, letting others create our perceptions, can make a very unfulfilling life. The declining power of mass advertising and the increasing control of customers leads people to desire to be in charge of their own perception of reality. As marketers, changing perceptions is just not that effective anymore. You need to change reality.

Redefine the definition of a big idea

Vail Resorts Epic Mix app redefined the big idea: It was not a huge campaign, it was not some big initiative, it was an app that changed the skiing experience. It was based on the insight that skiing as a solitary experience needs to be complemented by a social experience to enjoy a fulfilling vacation you want to share with your friends. Vail Resorts stayed away from telling people how enjoyable it was to vacation at their properties. Instead, they worked hard to make the actual experience more fun.

Reverse the process: From “Channel up” to “Channel down”

Sure, the commercial is memorable but the real meat of the campaign was a grassroots campaign that allowed fans around the world to write their own future through a unique experience on and their Facebook page that gave fans the power to create personalized videos, photos and information that put them on center stage at the World Cup 2010. Fans were then able to take their customized content to build their own Facebook campaign in an attempt to get noticed and selected for “The Chance” which is an elite Nike Academy football camp.

Master the art of collaborative creativity

The “Write the future” campaign from Nike was developed through a collaboration between AKQA, Razorfish, Mindshare and Wieden & Kennedy under the leadership of Nike. None of us is as good as all of us. This can be very effective if the collaboration is organized properly.

Don’t get up in the morning and think ‘What can we we say about the brand today’. Instead, get up in the morning and do something in the spirit of the brand, based on its core beliefs.

Kokich’s closing thought.

I’m looking forward reading his book.


I’ve met a friend for lunch a few days back and we talked about everything: work, life, potholes, Dodgers and family. At one point he looked at me and said: “You’re so lucky. You’re traveling to all these amazing places, you explore new cultures, you have it all.”

He is right.

Just in the last year, I went to Dubai twice, Singapore, Amsterdam, Hamburg, London and Mumbai to develop my business. A muezzin woke me up a few days to call his followers for the morning prayer. I ate the best sushi of my life at 5 am in Tokyo at the local fish market. I was privileged to get a private tour of Burj Al Arab, the only 7-star hotel in the world. I led a workshop with much brighter marketers than me in Amsterdam. I explored one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world.

Yes, I’m blessed. And I’m grateful.

What’s missing from all of this is the dark side. The non-unicorn world. The tediousness of traveling, developing business, forming new connections.

What’s missing are the sleepless nights in hotel rooms because of jet lag, missing your family and being 10,000 miles away from anyone you know and love.

What’s missing are the nights in airport lounges, the feeling of being disconnected, the desperate search for a WiFi signal to see your family for 1 minute on Skype.

Yes, I exchanged job security, more time with my family and friends and predictability for this. I’m glad I did. I never felt I had a choice. But it doesn’t mean it’s all beautiful flowers, unicorns and hand-fed grapes.

Social platforms encourage constant judging

Constant judging leaves us with the feeling of being mediocre. You look at the Facebook posts/images of your friends and you start to think: What’s wrong with me? Why am I not flying business class? Why am still living in this small house? How come we’re not going on a great trip like theirs?

These false perceptions absorb us in the vicious cycle of comparison with friends, family and these others we barely remember. (Oh, but they are my friend, right?)

Soon, we’re starting to compare cars, restaurant visits, vacation plans. I wonder how many people are planning vacations now to impress their Facebook friends: “Oh, why would you go to Amsterdam? Everybody’s been there. We went to Sarajevo. So cool.” You look at their pictures and think: “Yeah, why didn’t we go to Sarajevo?” Booking your next trip to Beirut.

Social Media has given access to envy and increased our tendency to judge.

We get this constant stream of success stories: A baby here, a new job there, a great restaurant experience, oh, this hotel is the best, what an anniversary present, more children, more travel, new car, new encounters.

The fact that somebody is enjoying a great night out, just went to an exotic place or goes to a concert may appear immediately important to us now, but such perceptions are short-sighted and should never drive us to say: “You are so lucky.”

Nobody posts their worries, illnesses, loss of love and troubles on social platforms. If I were to give you an honest blow by blow account of my life, you may not want to put on my shoes. And I wouldn’t want to put on your shoes even though I would have liked to join you on your latest travel. (Can I bring my family?)

When my parents died, I posted 2 updates about their demise. In the same time span, I posted 100 updates about social platforms. What do you think is more important to me?

Don’t judge a book by its cover