jason oke

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

Tankards away

leaves of grass

Keen observers will note that I haven’t posted to this damn blog in something like 6 months. This was due to a combination of factors: social media fatigue, a lack of time & energy (having a second baby 7 months ago may have had something to do with it), and the sneaking suspicion that I’d run out of things to say.

I said to myself a while ago that it would really take something of monumental and singular significance to get me to dust off the blog again. And then one day recently that something arrived in my life, in the form of the immortal tankard of Paul Colman.

Paul’s one of the keen planning minds at W+K London, and writes a blog that somehow combines insightful social observation, sport, and socks. Three years ago, Paul was given a german beer tankard as a gift.  He wondered how far around the world it could go using only the tangled connections of the global plannersphere. And thus was born the tankard challenge.

Paul and I met once in London, although by the evidence we studiously avoided actually talking to each other (and yes, I’m carrying a baby in the picture – my daughter was 2 months old).

Now what’s incredibly odd is that Paul seems to have come up with the idea for the tankard challenge on the exact same day that I met him. How’s that for a meaningful coincidence?

Since that day, the tankard has spent the last 3 years wending its way around the globe, no doubt trying to find me, and arrived here a couple of weeks ago via Shanghai, Sydney, and New York. I received it from none other than the lovely and irrepressible Faris Yakob.

It couldn’t have picked a nicer time to visit, as the Canadian fall colours were out in full force. We went for long walks to take it all in.

true colours
Not only that, but it was Thanksgiving weekend (which we Canadians celebrate in mid-October, a month and a half earlier than in the US, which always made more sense to me than having a major holiday 4 weeks before Christmas) and the tankard had a place of honour at the family gathering.
A few days later I went to San Francisco for the excellent and already legendary Planningness conference, giving the tankard a chance to catch up on the latest in brand communication theory and meet some of its leading practitioners.
It listened to Grant McCracken explain his upcoming book, Chief Culture Officer…
It was eyed suspiciously by Rob & Adrian from Zeus Jones
It brokered an uneasy truce between Ed and Dino
Ed and dino
Before finally being enthusiastically embraced by the mad genius behind the whole conference, Mark Lewis:
And finishing the evening with the hard-to-win approval of Gareth Kay.
It almost ended up being used as a prop in one agency’s final round Volkswagen pitch, but in the end cooler heads prevailed and Y&R’s Eva Hasson volunteered to take it with her back to Israel. And the journey continues…

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Planning For Good needs your help…


This is an urgent request to planning & strategy folk (responses needed by Monday March 23):


Can you help us help the Ideas Foundation?

It’s a fantastic UK charity that is committed to championing creativity in young people. It’s a mentoring program for 16-17 year olds which gives them the tools of communication (and some guidance from industry leaders) and enlists them to solve the problems facing their generation: e.g. get teenagers who are worried about crime the chance to change their peers’ behaviour through creativity.

In the Idea Foundation’s own words:

“We broker projects between industry and education.
We spot & develop young people’s creativity.
We pilot creative education projects and champion transferable skills within the creative industries and beyond.
We provide effective work experience, internship and apprenticeship opportunities. We signpost further & higher education routes to creative employment and enterprise.
And having done all that, we encourage our creativity scholars to stay in touch and get involved”

So here’s the shout out to Planning for Good types – do you have a social policy brief that you’ve written that these kids can do work from?

Maybe the client didn’t buy it? Maybe the suits or the CD didn’t like it? Or your boss? Or you?

So what are we after?

A brief to target a youth audience on a social policy area

It could be in areas such as smoking cessation, sexual health, knife or gun crime, drug or alchohol abuse, bullying, internet safety etc.

We’d really just like your old briefs.

Or, if you have a great social-cause strategy hiding somewhere in your brain, and really want to write a new brief, please feel free to do so but just make sure you include the usual information (the problem defined, the audience, etc) and try to ground it in reality and evidence…

Thanks very much in advance on behalf of the Ideas Foundation – we promise to keep you in touch with what folk send in and what they do with them.

Please send your briefs to Mark Earls at markearls [at] hotmail [dot] com by Monday night.

Or feel free to contact me/leave a comment if you have any questions.

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Things only a marketer would say

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PSFK, design, and beer

I’ll be at the PSFK conference on Thursday in NY. If you’ll be there, find me and say hello.

A few other related events are shaping up.

On Wednesday night, Faris & Noah are hosting an evening of pre-conference drinks (you don’t have to be coming to the conference to join the fun).

Where: Sweet & Vicious, 5 Spring Street (btwn Elizabeth and Bowery)
When: Wednesday, March 26, 7pm – whenever

There’s also a plan afoot to do a late afternoon trip on Wednesday to MoMA for the Design & The Elastic Mind exhibit. Probably around 4 or 5pm.  If anyone wants to join up for that, leave a comment or send me an email.

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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.