Friday, December 10, 2010

Show me the Honey

'Just be human' is the popular mantra of social media. Wherever we turn, there's another reminder the job at hand is to humanize brands, make them love their community and thus allow the community to love them back.  The thought being, the more love a brand shows, the more love the brand will receive. Makes sense. There is, however, an art to delivering that love, where interactions with the community seem real, honest and valuable.

Being human is a worthy goal, but in doing so, sometimes brands (and people) overdo it to the point of seeming...well...less than human.  In some social circles, being human relies heavily on over-excessive flattery, psychologists would claim likely stemming from some deeply traumatic childhood event (I blame my sycophant behavior on that aggressive girl in sixth grade who stole my coveted unicorn sticker collection). Despite some reports, an abundance of niceties and enthusiasm will not win you fans, or stickers. It will rather make you suspect. From ingratiating flattery to over-excessive #FFs, boisterous complimenting will earn you a reputation, for certain, but probably not the one you imagined, or planned.

Now, there are people (and brands) that fall into the genuinely nice category, but they are genetically/strategically designed as such.  It's not a put on.  It's not taken from a how-to guide on a blog written by some social media expert. It's real. Innate.  Believable.

Brands are real.  Yes, there is some phantasmagoric element about them that exists in the ephemeral, where our imaginations create emotional connections that project onto our lives, but at the end of the day, brands are created by and run by people. Real people. Brand mysticism aside, brands are real. Brands are human. But being human does not mean flattery to win friends. Being human means being true to who you are, what you represent, where you came from and where you are going.

It's no wonder social media is evolving platforms, such as Facebook Groups and Path, that focus on limiting our networks and mapping them based on who we love most, who we are intimately, personally committed to.  Those people, those devoted consumers, deserve truth and openness, they deserve unfettered love.

The new mantra: Just be real.

And, of course, here's the how-to-be-real guide:
  1. Focus on those closest to you.  Whether selling ice cream or medical devices, the direction's the same, know who your closest customers are.  It's not about driving numbers of followers and fans from all corner of the social spectrum.  It's about embracing the right people and holding them tight, caring for them and delighting them with surprises, just as you would a good friend.
  2. Remember the nuances. Real relationships have a natural ebb and flow. It's not enthusiasm and flowers every minute of every day. Fans appreciate a natural approach to language and posting.  And, yes, when you do bring the flowers home, bring 'em big and proud.
  3. Be honest. If it seems contrived when you are concepting an idea or writing a post, it will feel 10 times more contrived to your fans. Be honest, not just with them, but also to yourself as a creative, as a human being. And...there's that word again.
What are your thoughts and tips? Honestly, I want to know what you think or if you've seen my sticker collection.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Hilary Stein

Friday, October 15, 2010

Troublemakers, An Homage

The best campaigns cause trouble. At the end of the day, or the end of the check-out line, it's better to be noticed than not. In fact, Gap may have planted that horrific logo to gather some relevance. And it's probably the best thing that's happened to the brand in years.

Let me be clear, 'trouble' in the creative arena isn't destructive, it's collaborative, explosive and replete with creative energy. Juicy's campaign featuring the art of troublemaking didn't get as much attention as it should have in the mass arena, but the dirty call-to-action of its copy set the brand apart from its fashion cousins in the collective industry. It elevated the brand into a different arena, where perfect alabaster supermodels lounging on white leather couches seem,...well, boring. And what brand wants to be boring? Right, Gap?

Creativity by its very nature is the act of changing the complexion of a thing, a space, or an idea. How can that be done without causing a bit of trouble? Even when campaigns tap sentimental emotion wholly and ride on the shirttails of the heartstrings, there's a spirit of unbalancing the normal, the safe, the happiness. That's trouble. Our job is to touch a nerve, to ignite reaction.

I wonder if feigning creativity to cause trouble is a new social strategy. What do you think?

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Love Haters (and How You Can, Too!)

I fall in love easily. Just look at my following count on Twitter. Every time I turn around, there’s a new brilliant person with crazy ideas and big thinking, expressing wit and irony with every post, visual creators living in color and dreamers spouting imagination and thinking into the creative stratosphere. I love everyone.

Or at least, I think I do. Of course, I’m being fed people like me. No wonder I love them. They think like me. Live like me. Work like me. I’m a ranter against homogeny and here I am creating a virtual world of people like me. Uh oh.

Social networks should have the ability to feed us people unlike us with dissenting opinions, different life perspectives and well, maybe people and ideas we don’t ‘like.’

I want it to be easier to see the other side of my opinion. My world is being colored by a socially fed optimism, a collective belief that the world is improving. That we all share a bright, shiny, democratic, creative view of the world. And when I hear a differing opinion, I balk. I balk not because I don’t want to hear it, but because I’m beginning to believe my socially delivered world is a real picture. And it’s not. How do we find dissension when our lives are constantly being endorsed by our networks?

There’s beauty in opposition. I crave it, honestly, and I see it slipping away. From a sociological perspective we should all be concerned our ‘liking’ and ‘following’ is eroding reality. Are the polarities in the world growing larger each day? Is there a giant vibrating world of hate collecting on the other side of my spectrum?

How do we bridge the chasm? Crowd thinking is beautiful, indeed, but is it endorsing a homogeny we might fear in the future?

Here are some ideas to embrace difference:

  1. Seek out the opposite.
  2. Talk to someone unlike you and engage them in debate.
  3. Visit a virtual community outside of your comfort zone at least once a month.

What are yours?

Photo credit: pasotraspaso via Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stop. Collaborate and Listen. Three Steps to Social Nirvana.

Vanilla Ice had it right. Who knew he was the arbiter of all things social, our digital Nostradamus? He may even be the father of Chris Brogan (you might want to fact check that before tweeting).

I've been knee deep in strategies for clients over the past several weeks, waxing poetically about the benefits of mass persuasion, digital voyeurism and the rising cultural approach to advertising and in my head the whole time Ice, Ice, Baby is urging me on. I think once I may actually have said: "we need to stop pushing messages and collaborate and listen to consumers." At the risk of exposing myself as a lover of fake Eighties rap, Mr. Ice had a beautiful way of saying wake up, change your ways and understand before you act. It's simple, but a surefire way to achieve social marketing nirvana. Here's my translation for today's advertising community:

Stop: Traditional is dead. Don't do it anymore, it's over. Everything is digital, everything demands a screen and everything is shaped by the culture around it. There's not a campaign that can ignore the tide of influence or shout a message without engaging and participating in the growth of the culture around it. In fact, can we start calling traditional something else? That's probably another post.

Collaborate: Give consumers the wheel. Allow them to be curators of content, give them platforms to innovate, open the brand to them and let them participate in its growth. By creating unique collaborative platforms, such as, we allow ownership and empowerment. Imagine what that does for customer service and operations.

And listen.: Frankly, this is the hardest part. As advertising folks, all we want to do is jump in and offer ideas. Ideas, ideas, ideas. Don't like that one? Well, hold on, here's another. If we wanted to be researchers, we probably wouldn't have gone into advertising. And yet, it is an incredibly important part of creating good ideas. By listening, truly listening, to what is being said and reporting to our clients on those needs and desires, we are free to present sound, research-based ideas, and maybe even abandon a course of action that doesn't match the direction of the audience.

So get out there and execute. Social media is the revolution, where brands will build unimaginable influence by stopping to stand side by side with consumers, collaborating and listening to their dreams. Wait, that inspires the title for the next post: Hammer Time!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Global Ingenuity (Or The End of Cannes)

The tide is shifting. We all know it. And as our creative community sits on the beach during the final days at Cannes, competition further slips away from the center of the advertising community. We are a global creative department now. Shouting to each other across our loft space on Twitter and Foursquare. "Hey, @jtwinsor thanks for the inspiration!" and "@edwardboches where do you think things will go next?" Competitors? Hardly.

The cover of this week's Advertising Age designed by young Grey creatives Garrett Dafferner and Salina Cole captures the spirit of our interconnected creative community, all of us, gears moving one another, thinking and inspiring elevated concepts, designs, tools, campaigns. A factory of thought.

Is there an agency-owned idea any longer? We are shaping each other's thinking at a rapid, highly-involved and engaged rate. Nothing seems proprietary. In fact, it seems wrong to hold back, to protect and control thought, to hold captive this global creative spirit.

This is a new era of creative collective unconscious. Our thoughts are one. Your Lion is mine. And mine yours. Our creative experiences are being shaped together -- a unified personal perspective coming together with each glance at your digital portfolio, your worldview, a follow of the creative at the Mac behind you, a Twitpic from the copywriter in Finland. I become you. You become him. We are ingesting each other's creative thinking, inspiring one another. Global ideation 24/7. A brainstorm that never ends.

What's exciting is the diversity of experience fueling stronger creative. We are all becoming smarter together, brilliant creative, leading to more brilliant creative. It's a communal creative brief written together each day. How on Earth are we going to enter awards against each other at Cannes next year? I suppose we'll just all have to go onstage together.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fashion Fuel

It's no surprise to those of you who know me, or have been following this blog for a bit, or read my twitter feed, that I'm a bit obsessed with fashion. And I'm not talking the "loves to shop" kind of obsessed -- that's not what drives me -- nor is that as serious as what I'm dealing with. I'm talking the weep-over-a-garment-with-careful-stitching obsessed.

I started my career in the fashion industry, working with some incredibly well-known industry icons, although at the time, I thought everyone who worked in the industry knew them. Because of this, I have an unusually skewed sense of the fashion industry and a deep respect for the creators in the field.

Fashion is my inspiration, my art. And so today, I thought I'd share with you some imagery of late that I've used as inspiration in creating ideas and thinking for clients and, well, life in general.

Pictured below is the finale from Alexander McQueen's last show, the last look he created before committing suicide in February this year. McQueen was a genius. I think of the textural layering and royal heroics of this craftsmanship at least once a week.

Hold your breath. This image below is shot by Karl Lagerfeld for the 2010 Chanel campaign. Simple, emotional, space. I'm there. You?

Not that this is even close to being complete, I will share one more series of images from photographer Pietro Birindelli. I am a bit of a Kate Moss groupie, and he's been doing some amazing work with her, as well as others. His beauty work is so varied and intense, I'm completely moved by his artistry.

I've started a side blog, called Fashion Fuel, on tumblr that will be driven mainly by fashion imagery. Feel free to join me there, as well, when you need a bit of inspiration.

What inspires you?

Images: McQueen: WWD, Chanel: Karl Lagerfeld, Kate Moss and other beauty shot: Pietro Birindelli

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

All You Need is Love: World Cup Wisdom

I'm working on a Brazilian campaign for one of my clients that has nothing and everything to do with the World Cup. Despite our football marginalism, we Americans are entranced by the energy and excitement of the sparring cleated nations. But what's more engaging is the uber-frenzied love of the people and their undying affection for their teams.

Football for the world represents the collective dreams of a country. Inspiration. Courage. Hope. All emotions our brands, particularly in the social spaces must represent. Love is the most powerful motivator for action and has the power to engender true trust and loyalty. Have a look at this amazing video below created by Tam Airlines for the Brazilian soccer team as they settled into their seats readying for departure to the World Cup. How will you show love today? Maybe you should dribble a soccer ball for inspiration...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Social Etiquette (or How to Not Piss Off Your Fan Base)

Reputation management is not new and yet so many brands fail to honor the discipline in the social media space. Now more than ever, social media demands brands embrace a human voice and consider the way those around them interpret their actions and commentary. Think Emily Post. Social etiquette icons know the nuances of human emotion and how attitude and action impact perception.

All this to say, I've pissed people off. Inadvertently, of course. As most of us working in the space can attest, there is a great deal of experimentation that goes into deeply understanding and recommending social strategy, tactics and tools to our clients. This experimentation can lead to a maelstrom of social hand-slapping. We do this to learn for our clients and understand voice executions and limitations in the social spaces, the inner-workings of new tools and to study crowd sentiment. Because of my social sacrifice (all for you), I have learned there are three clear rules for managing a social media reputation and, if you follow them, your community and your mother will be proud.
  1. Be authentic. Brands must be themselves and have a clear, very human relationship with their social communities. Product pushing and promotion will harm authenticity. Insider sales tips and contesting is attractive to a fan base, however cannot be the only form of communication shared in the space. Think of that guy at your friend's dinner party always trying to sell you insurance. He's really boring, not to mention untrustworthy. Don't be him.
  2. Be original. Inspiration is the name of the game. Brands that lead with new thinking and engage and excite with participatory campaigns and thought leadership win. People want to be pleasantly surprised. Intrigue and unexpected delights inspire. Think of a new love, where treats like roses and love letters shake up perception and win hearts. Do that with your community and they will love you forever.
  3. Be grateful. Thankfulness is an elementary human trait. We are inculcated from toddlerhood with reminders to say "thank you" at every turn. Why then, when brands come to the social space do they forget that rudimentary rule? It's simple, be thankful for the community growing around your brand. Honor them with replies, special access and inspiration. Always thank them.
People are the medium. Human interactions fuel marketing today, making reputation management a must for brands. Social etiquette is more than just a list of rules for minding manners, it is the highly visceral basis for human interaction and all the nuances and social cues that feed it. And being successful in the social media space requires an intensely engaged, attuned brand persona that leads with authenticity, originality and thankfulness.

Are there others? What social etiquette tips do you think brands need?

Friday, May 28, 2010

An Apple a Day, Keeps the Recession Away

This week, Apple trumped Microsoft as the world's leading technology company, crowning Creativity leader of technology land. Despite the depressive financial statistics and persistent whining about The Great Recession, Apple's buy-it-because-it-will-change-your-life branding approach proves creativity is the answer to financial evolution. Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts posts his thoughts on the subject, claiming Apple's "immersion" tactics to be irresistible: iPad - Fad or Future . If yesterday's financial announcement is any clue, I'm pretty certain iPad leans more towards future than fad. And for us creative types, suggests the revolution is at hand. All hail the new King!

Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Creating Legacy: Who are You?

So much talk in the social media space revolves around creating communities, building followers, and meeting business objectives. So little focuses on building legacy. Creating a lasting impression on the world, inspiring expression and providing hope are rarely at the table, but should be more commonly discussed, should be the themes around which campaigns are built.

In childhood, we're asked often what we want to be when we grow up. There's so much hope and inspiration behind that question. Something happens however when we translate that thinking to brands. Think about why your brand was created. What was the passion behind it? What was the inspirational moment that moved you to action? Brands need to live this passion in the social space. Couponing and sampling can only get you so far.

In this new world order of sharing, the best we can do as brands, as humans, is inspire one another to look fear in the face and walk right into it. Fear is just a concept, after all. It's not real. That passion that inspired your brand, personal or corporate, is the real you.

Eric Proulx, a laid off advertising copywriter and new found inspirational speaker and writer, spoke recently on the subject of living a life that's true to who you are. Here's the video, it's worth the few minutes -- you're (your brand is) worth the few minutes:
If You Aren’t What You’ve Done, What Are You?

Posted using ShareThis

Photo: Julie Blackmon, Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, March 26, 2010

Not-So-Little Women: The Few, but Mighty, Women of Twitter

Women are marginalized in social media. Whoa, big fella, hold onto that comment trigger finger. It's not your fault. I actually respect and like what you have to say. I do, however, find myself opening more of your links than that of my estrogen-endowed sisterhood. It's actually my fault. Yes, I said it. My fault.

I'm certain it's something hard-wired from years of societal tutelage insisting men are the leaders and thinkers, especially in the digital space. Regardless, we need to fix the social media gender gap. Women make up the majority of social media users, but have less share of voice than our male counterparts when it comes to social media thought leadership. In @BrianSolis's "Chicks Rule" post, he shows 57 percent of the Twitter audience is female. Huh? So, where are all the smart babes? I'm thinking a decent portion of that 57 percent must be scantily-clad spambots searching for some clientele.

When I searched online to find the forbidden fruit, I found Ron Hudson's (a guy) list of the "50 Most Powerful and Influential Women in Social Media." Boy, was I excited. When I clicked on that little piece of digital gold, however, I found the link wasn't available any longer. So fitting. In content bits I found around the post, gals with more general presence seemed to make up the list, not the matriarchal power players of the marketing arena I was searching for. What I'm attracted to are those gals with killer instinct for leadership, fearless creative ideas and an ingrained design ethos that exudes through every tweet.

So who are the women leaders, the "Twestrogen Guides," to lead our pink march to the capital of Digital Land? As much as I respect both @Alyssa_Milano and @mrskutcher for their Eighties television achievements and unexplainable ability to defy aging, they are not the end all be all of social media thinking, despite their prolific and often times inspired tweeting.

As I scroll through my Twitter feed I find only a few smart social media gals I like to read:

Are there others? Please, dear God, tell me yes. And, of course, I welcome girl talk, even if you're a boy: @gretchenramsey.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991, TriStar, courtesy of Everett Collection

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Room With a View

I've seen a lot in my 39 years. Images that graze in my mind, flowing in and out like an ebbing tide on the shore. Babies laughing for the first time, my mother slowly losing her battle to breast cancer, jubilation in my victorious daughter's eyes, children clamoring for crayons, a quiet old man in his tattered lawn chair watching the sun set, a couple in Montreal fighting as the beauty of their language lilted in my ears, a five-year-old in a North Philadelphia playground swinging over an empty vial, my husband silently running to embrace me on 9/11 -- the human condition, my human condition, in imagery. It's my sense of place, my room with a view.

Over the past few months that room has shifted. My memories, my view, includes a lot of what you reading this see. A fashion show in London, a shop in Finland, the tarmac in New Zealand, your children playing on the beach in New Hampshire, you at that L.A. nightclub, the morning's coffee in Boston. My view is your view now. The intimacy of social media is inspiring a cultural homogeny, no, a cultural anti-homogeny, that is shifting global perspective.

I often think if former President Bush was active on Twitter in those years following 9/11, we would have a different outcome. We would have less fighting, because he saw that mother in Afghanistan smiling at her baby, or the simple pleasure of that cup of coffee in Iraq. If he saw the humanity, if he saw the humanity we share, how we are more alike than different, how our views are more alike than different, we would have less fighting. If he saw there was more beyond Texas, well...

The sun rises and falls just the same. A smile is a smile is a smile. We feel the same sadness. We claim the same joy. Our humanity is the same. Or should be.

What is unique about our individual views of the world is that we find innovations around us, or geographic markers that inspire emotion and energy. The same emotions we all share, but a different way of getting to it. We're more alike than we are different, indeed, but our views, how we ingest the experiences are unique.

That French couple fighting was beautiful to me, maybe not so much to someone who speaks the language well. But it's beauty just the same. It's their passion I loved. They were both so right. Just like you in that picture somewhere in Norway, and that art from New Delhi you posted to Flickr. The passion in what you see is what I love. And passion has a way of uniting us.

Social media is digital passion, where our cultures collide with overwhelming emotional energy. Share your love. Share your sadness. Share your beauty. Share your room with a view. What do you see today?

Photo credit: anthonyasael, Flickr creative commons

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Imagination Renaissance

Guess what, society has finally had its fill of reality. Bad news for "Jersey Shore," good news for...well, everyone. Magic is defining a host of brands right now from jewelery (Van Cleef & Arpels) to film (Alice in Wonderland). The creative community is taking culture to a new place, a place nearly forgotten, a destination called Imagination.
Phantasmagorical images and magic-inspired product executions are streaming to market, society's lust for fantasy flooding expectantly like a pot full of water left too long on the stove.
There's a growing belief in the impossible. The possibility of impossibility, where fairytale and fantasy rule.
Maybe it all started with the election of President Obama -- America's first African-American president, a peace-loving diplomat during a time of turmoil -- it was the world's first step into Wonderland. And now, First-Lady Michelle's Jason of Wu-nderland sent this magical, flowing gown down the runway at New York Fashion Week last Friday.

Freedom. Flowing, uber-creative freedom. Embrace the possibility of impossibility. Now is the time for the creative community, it's our imagination renaissance.

Photo source: Paula Zargaj-Reynolds; L.A. Times; Nordstrom

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brand Love

Our relationship with brands runs deeper than most relationships we share with humans. Brands are with us throughout our lives. They typically don't leave us at 18, or divorce us, or find a new BFF. And we hold them up to ridiculously high standards. We expect a lot from them. They must treat us as the most important person in their lives, remember our birthday, certainly, our anniversary, tell us we are right -- always, surprise us, yet also give us gifts on a regular basis, and they must keep themselves attractive in the name of our love. God, they're dedicated. And if they slip, just once (Domino's), or lie to us (Toyota), forget about it. We are done. Forever. We're a bit more forgiving with people.

And now that brands talk to us, converse with us, we are falling deeper in love. We sense a tangible two way commitment. A true trust and mutual respect is emerging. They whisper sweet nothings in our ear on Twitter and hold parties in our honor on Facebook, they smile at us when they see us and thank us for coming to visit them. Every day they want to know how we are feeling, if we're happy and how they can make us feel better. They are the best mate we could ever imagine.

What other life partner would celebrate you regardless of your softening abs, cellulite, overgrown hair, dirty socks on the ground and penchant for watching endless hours of television? Only a brand. She loves you even more for your TV addiction. And has just the thing for your messy hair. Only a brand will embrace you and all your ugliness.

And if they find out we are cheating on them, they don't get angry, they get even. They go above and beyond to make sure we know they are the one for us. They shower us with love, product innovations, discounts, special events, VIP offers, just to win us back. They're wrong, not us. See how great this is? They're wrong, not us. Unconditional, devoted love. Who can't help but love them? And we feel bad for cheating. We see their shiny, new look and enticing new brand story and we think, "God, what have I done?" We come running back, money in hand, to love them again.

Jeez, I've got to get Apple a Valentine--do they sell cards for brands at Hallmark?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quit Your Job

Editor's note: Read post before acting on headline.

We all need to quit our jobs. (Keep reading.) Lack of innovation is driven by an adherence to a so-called "job" that defines specific roles and specific actions taken at said job. Each day we follow that job around minding its place and purpose without lifting our eyes to see what connections we could make beyond it.

Now, not everyone does this. There are people who refuse to follow a code. Those are the innovators -- the everyman Steve Jobs of the world -- who see beyond the expected. Beyond the expectation. And, God, we love these people. Forget Steve Jobs, they are our gun-slinging Steve McQueens -- hot, sexy amalgamations of smarmy brains and brawn. The doers. Or...the don't doers as the case may be.

The point is, the most invigorating ideas come from people, or a group of people, who refuse to follow convention. And, yes, there is a need for organizational structure and clear definition of who does what, but not at the expense of progress and creativity. For so many organizations patriotic dedication to silos, boundary-defined roles and departmental division leads to slower progress, or worse, boredom.

For a brand boredom is the kiss of death. We all know boring brands that could use more innovation. They are the brands who refuse to look outside their industry with intrigue, brands that refuse to embrace mystery and excitement. Well, the same is true with people. People need to look outside their given roles in life to see what is possible to improve them. They must quit doing what they are doing in order to accept new thinking and find solutions.

Now more than ever we have the chance to improve our lives. To shift thinking. The world is in a revolutionary state of change. Brands and the agencies that serve them must jump in fearlessly and participate in the creation of this new world order. Those that abandon convention, those that integrate with other departments to create new models of thinking, those that take risks based on intuition will succeed. And the job will not be just a job, it will be a passionate fight for innovation. So, go ahead, quit your job.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ten Creative Trends for 2010

This is the year of creative freedom. I might be the only one who loves that the economy has tanked. What is evolving because of limited funds in the ad community is a ridiculously beautiful open market of creativity. Below are ten creative trends emerging in response to the economy:

  1. Less cash = more creative freedom. Now is the time to create and present bold, brazen works that may have been closeted in years past. Because funding is down and agencies are working with clients to get the same work done despite decreased budgets, agencies are evolving into stronger business partners. Agencies are elevating their role in the business decisions, giving creative more voice.
  2. Magazines as books. The woes of publishing hang like a thick smog over the offices on Sixth Avenue, but there is hope. Deeper, book-like feature pieces will define magazines in a new way. Consumers want more information not less this year and magazines can offer an easier format than the digital space for these longer discussions. We've seen books migrating to more pamphlet like easily-ingested entities -- this is an opportunity for magazines. Additionally, serious graphics and beautiful art from magazines will be in demand and provide fodder for the social spaces.
  3. Social budget increases. Duh. So cheap, so measurable. For brands without fear the social arena will be game changing. Pepsi and Ford have already figured this out. Pepsi pulled ad dollars out of Superbowl advertising to fund more digital campaigning. Ford has pioneered the shift of marketing dollars to social. Not surprisingly, they were the only car company not to receive government bailout. Social is proving to have serious ROI. Our job as a creative community is to inspire consumers with creative social campaigns that engage, excite and empower.
  4. Digital creative is the focus. Sorry newspapers, this year advertising will focus on digital as the fuel of the campaign. The best agencies and most successful campaigns will be centered on creative innovation in the digital space. Creative innovation. Digital. Enough said -- get thinking!
  5. Energizing colors. From citron to saffron, yellow has ruled in the past few months. Consumers want inspiration. There is tangible fatigue with recession talk, soft imagery and muted colors. Bold, bright campaigns will lead the return to consumerism.
  6. Product details. Smarter consumers will look for detail in product descriptions. How many hours did it take to craft? How many people were involved? Where is the origin of the materials? Brand stories will take products further this year as money-conscious graduates of the recession seek detail on purchases. Think mini-wikis for all products. The more detail the better and not just online, in-store, at the counter, on cups. You get the idea. Build the story.
  7. Corporate Twitter schooling. Twitter will be the testing ground for corporations in 2010. Thought leadership approaches will be sung in every boardroom as companies realize the access to ownership of ideas moves away from third-parties. Agencies will spend a great deal of time educating and encouraging clients to enter the space.
  8. Return to luxury. Yes, there is less money, but consumers tired of the saving cycle will look for ways to reward themselves this year. There is a true repression -- repression, not recession -- mentality among consumers. And you know what happens when someone is repressed. Brands who encourage them to treat themselves for being good throughout the recession will win big. Celebration of consumer behavior is key.
  9. Facebook retreat. Yes, I said it. Consumers begin to understand the importance of privacy and implications of sharing too much. They will become more protective of their Facebook communities and may begin to share more selectively. Because of this newfound respect for privacy, brands will have to be more creative to reach them. The upside is if they let you in it will mean more and the relationship will be deeper.
  10. Emerging boutique agencies will rule. Bigger is not better this year. With the launch of MTV's ad agency reality show featuring boutique agency Huge, we will see an intrigue and migration towards smaller shops, especially for digitally-minded clients. Crowdsourcing will discover new talent this year. There will be a clear renaissance among the creative community. And this gal is so excited to see what it brings.
This year will be one of the most creative on record. Inspiration is at an all time high in the creative community, despite job loss and most likely because of job loss. It is a year of creative opportunity. Grab hold to your vision and follow it. Happy New Year!

Photo credit: Katyekat30, Flickr Creative Commons

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