jason oke

If you’re not in awe, you’re not paying attention.

A day for openness and transparency

A while back, one of the planners I work with – Sean – had a great idea (he does that a lot – a nice quality). image via matsiltala

We’d been talking about the growing demand for transparency in marketing and business, and that while many marketers today see the need for it, at the same time many companies struggle with knowing just what to do about it.

Sean thought it would be cool if a few companies picked a day, and invited their customers in to see some part of their business behind the scenes – the factory floor, the R&D lab, the headquarters. He called it “Take Your Customer To
Work Day.” Last summer he wrote a blog post about it, which proceeded to get a lot of positive response, including a nod from no less than Seth Godin.

Since then there have been a few high-profile initiatives that have done just this. The most notable was last summer’s P&G‘s Mommy Blogger event, where the Pampers brand team invited 15 bloggers to tour their Cincinatti headquarters, hear about new products, talk about their needs, and weigh in on the current state of marketing. It was an exercise in transparency that had some risk to it, but by all accounts was fun for all involved, and got P&G both some great learning and some great press.

Given the positive feedback and the successful examples, we’ve decided to go ahead try to do it.

Thursday May 28 2009 will be the inaugural “Take Your Customer To Work Day.”

Full details are here.

Several brands have already jumped on board, including Zappos (of course…), SteamWhistle Beer, and Beck Tench. We’re issuing an open call for other companies to come along for the ride and bring their customers in house for the day. And we’re asking any company who participates to document it, and we’ll collect all the stories, photos, and videos and create some interesting content with it.

Huge kudos to Sean for coming up with the idea, and taking the initiative to actually get this thing going.

So talk to your clients and partners, and help spread the word. Let’s get some momentum behind this thing.

Who’s in?

Filed under: brands, Ideas, transparency

Brand Tags

Noah has built an addictive little app – BrandTags.

It’s a way of mapping all the things brands stand for in people’s minds. It shows you a brand and prompts you to enter the first word that pops into your head. Simple and addictive – he launched it on Friday and there are already 40,000 80,000 200,000 (UPDATE: up to one million) responses.

Reminds me a bit of David‘s project Brand vs Brand – also a lot of fun to play with.

Filed under: brands, planning, Web/Tech

Oprah & media blind spots

Oprah Winfrey, being an immensely popular gazillionaire media mogul and all, isn’t usually thought of as flying below the radar. But she’s been up to some really interesting stuff the last few weeks that no one seems to be talking much about.

The latest book being promoted and discussed in her famous book club is Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” – a spiritual treatise on being conscious and present, quieting the chattering of the mind, and losing our association with the ego to become connected with the energy of the world around us. It’s heady, new-agey stuff, and as Tolle himself says in the book it will either change your life or you’ll find it a pretentious, aimless ramble (personally, I’m a fan of his stuff). As with most of Oprah’s previous book selections, it’s shot to the top of the best seller lists for the past month.

But what’s interesting is that Oprah’s taken a new turn with the book club and is hosting a series of 10 weekly webinars with Tolle to discuss, chapter by chapter, the contents of the book. They’re 4 weeks into it now, and each one has drawn as many as a million people live, from around the world, making them the largest webcasts in history. A further 1.5 million people a week have been downloading the webcasts afterwards on iTunes and from Oprah’s site.

oprah.png

The series has also garnered some big-name sponsors such as Chevy, 3M, and Skype. In addition to “sponsored by” credits, brands are further integrated into the series in various natural ways – Skype provides some of the conferencing capabilities allowing viewers around the world to ask questions live, and Borders Books are hosting book study clubs around the US that Oprah periodically throws to for questions. And it’s all been pretty seamless and tastefully handled.

So it’s clearly breaking some new ground: organizing the largest live webcasts in history, not just once but over 10 successive weeks, is a pretty big deal. And yet no one seems to be talking about it. The media, both mainstream and marketing trade press, has mostly ignored it – by comparison Oprah’s new reality show “The Big Give” has garnered much more coverage. What little coverage has been given to these webcasts seems to often be skeptical and mocking of its “new age” content.

So do we have a blind spot about this kind of thing? Do our marketing minds not know what to make of something a bit more spiritual? Do we just not care as much when there’s less selling going on?

Filed under: brands, Web/Tech

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These are my views. Do I even need to explain that? They're not those of anyone generous enough to pay me money. They're just mine. Unless maybe they're yours too. That would be nice.