Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another music renaissance

Last night I said to someone that this is a great time to love music.

I'm not sure that it's because the music being created is so creative or innovative, not like it was during the mid-to-late sixties, anyway. It's just that we have so many options for listening, so many ways to collect, so many places to go to hear music these days.

When I work from home I usually have an internet radio station streaming from the computer. I listen to Radio Paradise, "eclectic online rock radio," though what plays is usually what the industry calls "alternative." RP is commercial free (if you ignore the online reminders that it's commercial free and dependent on viewer contributions), and I've added bands as diverse as Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, Sun Kil Moon and Doves to my own preferences as a result of airplay on the "station."

Speaking of ... RP's programmer has a knack for the well-put-together playlist. I just heard two classics I hadn't thought of in years - The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and Bruce Cockburn's "Wondering Where the Lions Are" - and chuckled to myself at the imagination. Earlier this morning there was this line-up:
- Roxy Music, "While My Heart Is Still Beating"
- BT, "Dark Heart Dawning"
- Morphine - "Buena"
- Traffic - "Glad"
Four songs with much in common, but four bands that have probably never been played so near each other before.

Between internet radio, the ubiquitous iPod, satellite radio, podcasts, online music stores, concert DVD's - with all these, believe me, it would be difficult to stay in a bad mood with so much music - old and new - so accessible so easily.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Peter Drucker 2

The holiday (Thanksgiving) weekend is a good one for me to catch up on my reading. Yesterday, while Betty prepared a small bird by applying a cool "coffee rub" and I diced and sliced onions and herbs for a mmmmm, mmmmm tasty oyster stuffing, I read John Byrne's long appreciation piece in BusinessWeek on Peter Drucker. (My earlier post about Drucker's passing is here.)

Rereading some of Drucker's most memorable "isms," I was reminded that people are what make an organization special, and I'm fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with a particularly talented and interesting group of people at BURRIS. It hasn't always been that way, but not for lack of trying. Chemistry is incredibly important among knowledge workers, and we have that. Don't confuse "chemistry," however, with peace, love and understanding. We don't always have those things. But our group is working incredibly well right now, both in terms of the quality of the ideas and - just as important - and the implementation of the communications that comes from the ideas.

Something else for me to remember this Thanksgiving...

I don't know: it must be a very good time for a customer to be working with us. What do you think about that?

Request for feedback - This Old House

We're working behind the scenes (and, given the readership of this blog, we'll stay there) to put together a recommendation for updating the This Old House brand. Unlike most magazines in the "shelter" category, TOH is predominantly male (more than 60%) and it has several other properties falling under the same umbrella, including the once-famous TV show.

We will do a more formal survey to key targets, but if you have an opinion about anything relating to the magazine, the TV show, web site - or the overall "shelter" category - I'm all ears. Please post a comment on the blog or send me an email.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Video and demand - 2

Following up my post a couple of days ago (click here), there's a great article in this week's BusinessWeek - right up front in the News Analysis & Commentary section (here).

And among the info in the article is this graphic:

To Rick Hall's point, there are options. Plenty of them. We just don't know which are going to take hold. Yet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New Rules of Branding

In the "Chief Marketer" email newsletter today, there's this piece by Simon Williams on the "new rules of branding."

I'm usually dubious of such lists, but this one was sensible and thought-provoking. My favorite? They're all good, and spot-on, but brand experience has been a push-point for me for some time:

"5) Forget the transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow them every day, every way.
Apple and Coach, Williams points out, found that the best way to give consumers a brand experience wasn't just to sell product in store but to control the entire experience. 'This is why they build stores in major cities. Looking for the other brands to soon be involved in the "experience".'"

BMW chooses GSD&M

One of the most watched client/agency reviews has been BMW's, which yesterday, we learned, resulted in the company's choosing GSD&M.

Among the reasons this was a compelling sweepstakes was that (a) BMW's previous agency, Fallon of Minneapolis, chose not to participate; and (b) BMW by all rights was already a successful brand, on a roll, beating up on its competitor behind (Mercedes) and gaining on its competitor ahead (Lexus).

BusinessWeek managed to get a look at the brand brief that BMW gave the participating agencies. Here, in part, is the challenge the company gave them:

“BMW wants to bring the excitement back to the brand and restore the equilibrium between their products and their marketing communications. Remember, your challenge is not to reinvent the brand but to evolve the marketing from its current one-dimensional focus on performance…

"Ideally, this new platform will be sustainable over time, yet offer the flexibility to encompass not only where the company is currently headed—but where they might be headed in the future given the unpredictable nature of the automotive business. Think alternative fuel sources and growing sales volume with a successful but polarizing brand. In essence, redefine performance so that it is more than windy roads with fast music….How can BMW expand the current customer base? How do you get the people who admire BMW, who possess BMW values, who possess the BMW gene—but don't place BMW on their shopping list—to place BMW in their consideration set? In sum, how do you get them to want something they don’t consciously want to own? How do you arouse that latent desire? In addition, how will you convince those who purposely choose not to buy BMW because they think the brand is 'too cold,' 'not luxurious,' or 'not relevant'?"

A good brief, a worthy challenge, and I look forward to GSD&M's work.

But I want to return to (a), the fact that Fallon chose not to participate. The brand has been successful of late, and Fallon's work - including the edgy and successful BMW films series available on the web, the same series that helped make Clive Owen a box office draw - has been at least partially reponsible. I'm not aware why Fallon chose not to participate in the review, but my guess is that they knew that with a new VP of Marketing in charge, their chances - at best - weren't very good. Every new executive wants his own team surrounding him, wants his authority firmly in place among his resources. A BBDO with GE since the early part of the 1900's...that just can't happen today. So companies like Fallon have to move on, ply their trade elsewhere, and continuity, consistency, intimacy with a company and its brand - these are all lost.

The point is not whether GSD&M will do good work for BMW. They will. After all, they won out over some other outstanding agencies, and we can presume they all tried very hard to win the business. But now that all is said and done, here's my prediction: For all the investment the competitors made in this pitch - not to mention the fact that only one of them won the prize - GSD&M may have the account two, possibly four years before some other executive - maybe this time a CEO - wants to make a change. So the winner, ironically, may turn out to be Fallon.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Video and demand

The media world is changing.


Such a fatuous remark hardly deserves a word, sentence or paragraph as follow-up, but I know no better way to introduce these comments on what's happening in video.

This link to a BusinessWeek blog poses the question that seems most relevant: Will content creators merely distribute their own rather than relying on media distributors (networks, cable)? Increasingly they can.

This morning I watched several movie trailers, listened to an interview by Jim Lehrer with John McCain (from a News Hour last week), viewed several CNBC stories on The Wall Street Journal's site, and watched David Letterman and Steve Martin on a Late Night from Thursday night's show. All on my computer.

Who needs a TV?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Peter Drucker

The New York Times brought news this morning of Peter Drucker's death yesterday at age 95. A classic business theoretician and thinker, Drucker was an inspiration. I still open "The Essential Drucker" from time to time to a random page and soak up something worthwhile.

Click on the link to read the Times's obit and learn more about the master's work.

From the Times article: "Among the sayings of Chairman Peter"...
¶"Marketing is a fashionable term. The sales manager becomes a marketing vice president. But a gravedigger is still a gravedigger even when it is called a mortician - only the price of the burial goes up."

¶"One either meets or one works."

¶"The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are disorder, friction and malperformance."

¶"Stock option plans reward the executive for doing the wrong thing. Instead of asking, 'Are we making the right decision?' he asks, 'How did we close today?' It is encouragement to loot the corporation."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TV Salaries

One of my consulting customers asked me recently to comment and advise on his and his partner's compensation, whether they were paying themselves appropriately as they worked to bring on new staff and manage all expenses. Then I came across a chart in The Atlantic Monthly (October 2005 issue, p. 46) listing key "Television Dads" and their equivalent 2005 salaries. Here are a few of the entries:

J.R. Ewing (Dallas), a CEO: $636,094
Jed Bartlet (The West Wing), U.S. president: $400,000
Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show), Obstetrician: $239,028
Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke Show), TV writer: $85,192
Homer Simpson (The Simpsons), Nuclear safety inspector: $65,346
Ricky Ricardo (I Love Lucy), Bandleader: $52,155
Fred Flintstone (The Flintstones), Quarry crane operator: $37,518

My advice to my customer? Make it worthwhile to be king.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Saturday Morning

Decided to take a day off today from real work, especially after seeing this view of the "back yard." A creepy fog on this Fall morning. I have a few chores around the house I want to get to, I'll take a long walk through the 'hood, and I plan to catch up on some reading.

Have a good Saturday, folks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Squawk Box

I don't watch a lot of TV (how many say that...but actually mean it?). Well, I probably watch more than you think.

Here's a list of what I TiVo for viewing later:
- The West Wing - It's pretty good again, and the upcoming "Live" debate between Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits will likely be one we wish we could see from the actual presidential candidates in the '08 election.
- Rome - On HBO Sundays. Decadent, historical, surprising every episode. My favorite among HBO's Sunday night dramas is "Deadwood," but "The Sopranos" and "Rome" are close behind.
- Commander In Chief - Very, very good. Another fantasy president, but sometimes fantasy is better than realism (especially if we're talking about elected officials).
- Over There - Outstanding, film-quality program about the Iraq conflict (war) and its impact on individual lives.

In addition, I try to watch CNBC's Squawk Box several mornings from 7 to 10. It's on in the background, and every once in a while I'll look up and catch a story, especially breaking news. Here's Rebecca Quick and the program's host, Mark Haines. Ms. Quick is worth watching all by herself.

So often now, the Internet is where we (I) get our (my) news. I find that CNBC can give me all I need in the mornings.