No-Brainer #16 —
You knew this would happen. In the spirit of the “well informed futility syndrome” we thought it would be either fun or painful, dealer’s choice, to compile a list of things with highly negative consequences that almost anyone could have foreseen, but no one did much about. For the academically minded, “well-informed futility” is a psychological condition, first identified in 1973, rooted in the observation that the more some people know about the world, the less they feel able to affect it. And, with the note that cover-to-cover readers of the Sunday New York Times should be afraid, very afraid, let’s start with three obvious duhs: First up – Congressional inaction on the sequester results in air traffic control cutbacks and major flight delays. Next – since the end of WWII, it’s been entirely clear that having jillions of baby boomers reach their seniority, gosh, right about now would have tectonic consequences for the health care system. And last but not least – the housing crisis that set off the Great Recession. But, heck, it’s no fun playing this game alone. Please send your “well informed futility” examples to email@example.com Predictably, there’s no prize, except for the dubious glory of being published in this space and celebrated for your insight in social media.
No-Brainer #15 —
Bubbling Pitch. There are some advertising ideas—using the Tanning Mom to promote New Jersey’s cultural charms leaps to mind—that are simply not recommended. Other notions, however, are more on the bubble. Among them: the wisdom of allowing your agency to appear on AMC’s weekly advertising blood sport show, “The Pitch.” Okay, in fairness, you have to admit the producers can claim credit for very watchable TV. But between the constraints of 60 minutes of running time (minus time for, ahem, a very few commercials), and the mandate of reality programming to explore the attractive sight of leaking jugulars, it’s clear that the best you can expect is a vague reflection of reality. So why are ambitious people taking the risk? Beyond the obvious “get ink, any ink,” theory, we’d bet it’s something else – the confidence that it’s possible to game this system to come across like the brilliant team you think you are. Based on the product to date, we’d have to say good luck with that—this camera inevitably seems to gravitate to ego and arrogance, not intelligence and insight. And whether or not that ever adds up to the kind of fame that draws talent to a shop, or young people into the business, is entirely speculative. Which leads to the question: if The Pitch came bubbling up to your door – would you dive in?
No-Brainer #14 —
The real F-bomb. While it might be true that you learn something new every day, it’s entirely uncertain that will lead to any leaps in the quality of life. By way of illustration, consider the consequences of finding out that the newly minted acronym “FOMO” stands for “Fear Of Missing Out.” This, we are told, is the reason people, regardless of technological predilections, feel so compelled to check various online whatnots multiple times per hour. As it happens, the phenomena is also a big part of mobility ascendant since, if Mohammed is too busy to get the scoop on his desktop, the scoop damned well better get to him. Or her. In any event, we happen to believe that FOMO is real, because – pardon us for a second while we check our email – we’re just as bad as everyone else. Even if we’re also mindful of the fine irony that comes when knowledge, instead of leading to power, inspires fear. Well, f-bomb that. Rather than surrender to FOMO we’re going to cut back. Like, checking our Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts only 15 times an hour. Okay, make that 20 times tops. Don’t want to miss something important.
No-Brainer #13 —
Two thin dimes. So, okay, the entire Facebook “pop” was two dimes and three even more dubious pennies. Not much for what had been overhyped as the “most hyped” stock offering in history. Particularly, when you consider that 56% of that amount winds up in the majority shareholder’s pocket—proving once again that Facebook is fine with sharing your information, but not much else. Still, we have to wonder if the market was on to something when it punctuated the event with a question mark instead of an exclamation. After all, the “I” in IPO stands for initial, not inevitable. And right now the web vs. mobile war over hearts, minds, and share of wallet is all fog and no clarity. In part, because we happen to think that the future is less about the where and when of platforms, and more about the what and why imperatives that command the battle for attention. Which is where Facebook, along with every other marketer on the planet—our humble selves included—will succeed or not.
No-Brainer #12 —
Bodies in motion — The IPO is still a few days away, the corks have yet to bestow waiting bottles of Cristal with one last, lingering, French kiss, and already the naysayers—damn you, naysayers—assert that Facebook is a mere 5 years away from a face plant. The rap: companies born with web, not mobile, DNA, are genetically time stamped for replacement. While the thought might slow the post IPO champagne pour by a nanosecond or two, it does get us thinking about a world gone so mobile it can change 800 million minds just like that. The question: will spatially unlimited connectivity make it easier for brands to reach, intrigue, and entice consumers? Or will Newton’s point about moving bodies tending to stay that way mean nobody’s going to settle long enough to connect and communicate? We’ll talk more about that later. In the meantime, ahem, if you just happen to know someone whose generous spirit is matched by access to Facebook stock, do tell.
No-Brainer #11 —
Over-herd — devotees of the 9-fold marketing path are, most likely, at least slightly familiar with Prof. Robert Cialdini and the “descriptive norms” theories of persuasion he pioneered. Inexcusably simplified: we humans are most likely to take an action if someone informs us that folks just like us, in similar circumstances, are acting in the same way. Example: 1,000 people just like you now reading an advertising microblog at a computer just like yours are now going to the bank, securing a $1,000 cashier’s check and mailing to the contact address on this website. See how well that worked? For more fun, and some seriously great insights, check out Cialdini’s company, Influence at Work.
No-Brainer #10 —
May we have your attention? “Actually,” you reply, “you may not.” Especially now that you’ve read that study from someplace legit – we’d tell you where, but we weren’t quite paying attention – showing that younger consumers shift their focus from platform to platform about 27 times an hour (clocking in with 14 times in the same period, older folks seem to be a little less ADD). Okay – you knew all this. The point: if the only ad that’s effective is the one that grabs you by the eyeballs, maybe that loud noise you weren’t paying attention to was the sound of the creative bar going up.
No-Brainer #9 —
Dot Déjà Vu? — Inspired, at least in part, by Facebook’s billion-buck Instagram love tap, it seems as though the “tech bubble means tech bust” drumbeats are booming just a little louder. Question: is it just us, or are we detecting a faint-but-eerie-tone of nostalgia in all the rumblings? If so, does that mean memory’s golden haze has mutated pre-March 2000 into “the good old days?” Or is it something more akin to “this time it could happen to me!” In any event, the consensus is that we’re good for a whole 5 years before irrationality translates into insolvency, which gives us all plenty of time to resuscitate favored dotcom-isms like “Internet insta-millionaire,” any use of the words, “New Economy,“ and, of course, “we may not be first mover, but we will be best in breed.”