November 19, 2013
If ever there were a perfect example of corporate Goliath it would have to be Salesforce, the huger than huge Customer Relationship Management (CRM) company based in San Francisco. Founded by the polarizing Marc Benioff, Salesforce has almost as many haters as users. It’s basically the CRM standard but it’s a standard more and more people are perhaps growing weary of using.
Therefore, our client SugarCRM wanted to poke Goliath in its substantial ego as well as grab some of its growing legion of frustrated users. With it’s promise of “CRM you can relate to” SugarCRM and gyro created a mischievous scheme to unleash at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce this week at the Moscone Center, downtown San Francisco.
The central component to our tactic, entitled “Getaway from Dreamforce” was to get people in and around Dreamforce to take “Selfies” of themselves wearing branded SugarCRM tee-shirts then upload the pictures with hash tag(s) #DF13 and/or #SugarSelfie. A random winner could receive a “Dream Getaway” to Hawaii or the cash equivalent.
Getting people to blaspheme Marc Benioff’s grandiose celebration is what makes this program so damn fun. Sneaking into his party to do it is just the right amount of nasty.
Allow me to elaborate. Every “Selfie” is a representation of the individual. Literally of course. But also conceptually. In the context of Salesforce and Dreamforce the individual gets lost in Goliath’s dominating presence. Therefore, the surreptitious Selfie can be viewed as an affirmation for every “David” hiding in the shadows. The snap shot is like a slingshot!
Think about it. Selfies are the individual’s way to assert him -or herself. Like them or not, they are ubiquitous in global popular culture. Using these tiny ego blasts against a polarizing figure like Benioff and his self styled juggernaut of a company is just too perfect.
In some ways we are fighting fire with fire: many small egos versus one of the biggest egos in the land. Kismet. Our campaign is about asserting the individual over that of a company.
In addition to stimulating this rogue infiltration of Dreamforce, SugarCRM is also infiltrating smart phones in the immediate area with banners via geo-fencing as well as providing a slew of pithy messages on the tops of some of the very taxis bringing people to and from the Moscone Center.
Dreamforce and Salesforce are not going to be taken down by a bunch of Selfies but with these antics there is a heck of a chance that it will be impeded… at least philosophically. What Sugar CRM gains in recognition and new customers make it all worthwhile.
Ever since helping give rise to the “Curiously Strong Mints” campaign for Altoids, I’ve been a huge fan of outdoor advertising. Especially posters, propaganda and signs. Yet, maybe the awe for it goes back even further than Altoids…
Case in point a small excerpt from my keynote presentation to the Outdoor Marketing Association of Canada (OMAC), which I gave earlier today:
…I grew up in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Nice now, but when I was a kid the area was rife with gang violence, in particular a turf war between the Latin Eagles and the Latin Kings. Their flamboyant signs permeated my neighborhood, haunting the alleyways, literally threatening me from around every corner. Marking their territory, if you will pardon the expression…
Crude as it sounds brands exert power marking their territory. We are here, they say. And we mean business. You cannot resist us! Granted, brands don’t jump you in the alley and take your bus money (not yet, anyway) but that doesn’t make my crude metaphor any less accurate. Signs and symbols have always been used to convey messages. For good. Evil. And everything in between. And OOH has done so for a longer stretch of time than all the other media combined.
October 29, 2013
I’ve been thinking about agency culture or the lack of it. By definition, a “culture” forms in/on something that has permanence to it, like mold on a piece of leftover bread. I know that’s a gross analogy but it’s not inappropriate.
In Adland, we like to talk about our respective agency cultures. It seems vitally important to everyone, old and young. The CEO makes impassioned pleas about it, resurrecting old ideas from old dudes. Yawn. Even more insufferable, the under-30’s rhapsodize about culture’s importance and how f—king awesome it is at that other agency, you know, the one over there, the one with the culture. News flash, kids! Culture is an old-fashioned idea. It ain’t trending…
I can relate to culture. After all, I “grew up” at Leo Burnett in Chicago and was part of its second golden age (88-98); I swear on some days it seemed even the sewage spewing out of 35 Wacker smelled like Pillsbury biscuits baking in the oven. Back then Leo Burnett had one hell of a culture. From a work perspective, it was all about rolling up your sleeves and telling a good story. It was also about long-term relationships and big ideas. And not just with clients but with each other. People stayed at Leo Burnett -for the above reasons and an Xmas bonus that would take your breath away like a fishbowl martini at the Drake. I was there 18 years! I made a lot of ads, a lot of friends and a lot of money.
Needless to say, that culture is long gone. Like a vampire sprouting new flesh after its silvered, LBCO endlessly reinvents itself. Or tries to. And I’ll wager a lot less people are getting a lot less bonus. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a big, important shop (certainly among the best in Chicago) but its culture has been greatly and necessarily diminished.
I say, “necessarily diminished” because, honestly, all agency cultures have suffered greatly or gone extinct. Why? It goes back to my gross analogy about mold growing on stuff. For better or worse, advertising (or whatever you call it) is simply not a permanent enterprise anymore. Not for anyone. For myriad reasons (most of them shitty) clients and employees don’t have loyalty to a company or its people. Everyone leaves.
And what about you, Gentle Reader? How long have you been at your present job? Thought so. When did we start counting in months? That’s life in Adland. Commercials are now 6-second Vines. Work is all project based.
Therefore, why should one’s career be any more permanent? Maybe it shouldn’t. But don’t talk to me about culture. How does anyone expect a culture to grow if no one sticks around long enough to cultivate one?
October 21, 2013
The past week I’ve been in Zagreb, Croatia helping produce a case study film for one of our clients. Much of the time was spent in a local high school, documenting the use of technology among the student population. Surprise, surprise; teens here like electronic devices as much as teens everywhere else…
What is different (forgive the rough segue) is what I observed of the retail experience in Zagreb. No doubt Croatians have big box stores and supermarkets (like in America) but a prevailing way locals purchase day-to-day items are from huge open-air market places, called Trznica. The one by our shoot was as big as several football fields and bustling as a beehive.
It wasn’t just expected items being sold here (produce, flowers, baked goods) but also hardware, clothing, toys and electronics. To my American senses, it felt like a cross between a farmer’s market and a flea. Which is exactly what it was. However, unlike in American locales, in Zagreb Trznica operate every day and are pervasive.
The juxtaposition of items is at first discombobulating. An array of pastries flows into a row of purses then drill bits and screws. And so on, ad infinitum. While it is pleasingly familiar buying fresh produce from such places, what struck me as strange were all the hard goods being consumed. Things like pipefittings and power tools.
Chewing on a delicious ham and cheese sandwich I observed the hardware man demonstrating a fan to a customer, a smoldering cigarette dangling from his lips. What? Where was the packaging? The receipt? The guarantee?
Yet, before judging such a tableau, we must realize that this is how retail has been done for well over 2,000 years. While buying a ceiling fan from a stall in a giant open-air market seems precarious to we who have towering brand expectations, it may likely be more reliable than going to the Home Depot. After all, if Madam’s fan has issues she can bring it back knowing she will deal with the same chain-smoking fellow who sold it to her. No corporate protocols or receipts necessary. Just some good old-fashioned bitching and voila: a new fan! Maybe it doesn’t work this way; I can’t know. But it seems entirely possible.