With the huge success of the Transformers movies, Hasbro is looking to unlock its entire toy vault the way Marvel Comics has done. What struck us most happily about the announcement was that they’re starting with (their words) a “writers room.” We are sick and tired of blockbuster movie attempts that spend huge amounts of money on special effects and big name celebrities without a story or script that makes any sense. What do you do to ensure that great stories lead the way in your creative endeavors?
Warm memories of Bill Backer, one of the great creative talents in the ad biz who passed away this week. Steve remembers the time he went to present some new creative to Bill. He came into Backer’s office, sat down and started his pre-sell pitch: “I’ve got some great stuff here, Bill,” he said. “I think it’s terrific.” At which point Backer drolly replied in his most Southern drawl, “Well of course you do. That’s like a cow grading its own milk.” How do you pre-sell your work?
The other week we asked whether you were disrupting your industry, reinventing your industry or were just a dead man walking. But let’s shake up your thinking a little more. We recently found out about a futurist who’s really out there. His name’s Udo Gollub and he’s got a visionary view of the future. Take a quick read. It’s pretty amazing and amazingly encouraging–if you’re not afraid of change. What’s your view of the future…and have you started to plan for it?
Millennial absurdism is starting to appear in commercials. Most of the spots fail because we remember the absurdity but not the advertiser. A spot for Grandma’s Cookies by Goodby Silverstein Partners finds the perfect blend of absurdity vs memorable product messaging. It’s silly. It’s stupid. It works. How are you finding ways to talk to Millennials?
We once observed that if you’re going to hire, say, a head of comedy development, the simplest test would be to ask applicants for the list of their ten funniest films of all time. Seems Kurashiki Central Hospital in Japan was reading our blog. They’ve created a new test for surgical applicants. It’s not a book exam, it’s three hands-on puzzles applicants must assemble (using surgical tools) in 15 minutes. As the voiceover explains, surgeons don’t operate on books, they operate on people. How are you testing for ideal job applicant skills?
Disruption continues to be the big buzz in marketing (and, we recommend the new book, “Disruption: My Misadventures in the Startup Bubble”). A couple of classic disruptions include Amazon taking down bookstores and Uber re-imagining car service and deliveries. What people don’t pay enough attention to are the legacy companies that had the courage and foresight to reinvent themselves. Like IBM. And Xerox. Here’s the simple truth: Whatever industry or profession you’re in, you’re either a disrupter, a re-inventor or a dead man walking. Take an honest look at what you’re doing and ask yourself, “Which are we?”
There are two kinds of change. One gets you looking busy, the other gets you where you need to go. There’s an old expression in business about people who spend time “arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” They look busy, but it’s meaningless or dangerous change. Which kind of change does your company practice – change to advance your business or change that might run you into an iceberg?
One of our readers started her career many years ago at a family-run business. Like all newbies, she eagerly made suggestions to the management team but quickly discovered she only got one of three responses: “That’s not our line of business;” “We tried it, it didn’t work;” or “If that was a good idea, someone else would have done it already.” The company went out of business years ago. How are you preparing for change in your organization?
We’ve worked with, taught and mentored hundreds of college seniors and recent grads. Almost without exception, we see them go out into the world with a one-size-fits-all resume. Even worse, a one-size-fits-all resume laid out with a formulaic online template. The students are often surprised when we tell them to create a different resume for every company they apply to; that one-to-one marketing begins with yourself. How do you make sure you’re speaking correctly to your target audience?