What a ride!

The last 2 months have been kinda crazy. After my last day at  Microsoft, I started jobhunting right away, jobhunting new style that is – using my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, … and every other network that could help me spread the word. Interestingly enough it all became a bit of an experiment along the way as well, like when I introduced the #hirefriday tag, but nevertheless still a rather unpleasant reality of being unemployed during a crisis. Lucky enough for me things paid off rather quickly and 5-6 weeks after my last day at Microsoft I started working again.

My new home is Duval Guillaume, an idea-centric communications agency with offices in Antwerp and Brussels. Since 3 weeks you can find me in the Brussels office (photo below) as the new head of strategy there. But more on what I’m doing there in future blogposts.

What the office looks like

A lot of people have been very helpful during all those weeks and I’m very thankful for that. I realize I have been pretty silent on this blog during most of that time but we’ll be going to a more regular rhythm again soon. First I need to change a few things here, for one I should really get that self hosting thing going (yeah I know it’s not the first time I talk about this).

Generation movie project

This has been sitting in my drafts for a while, that’s what happens when you don’t get time to blog for 2 weeks. Proximus Generation is a youth oriented mobile subscription from Belgium’s largest mobile operator. To promote this service Proximus will crowd source it’s latest tv commercial, here is the explanation (which is also the current tv commercial for the whole project):

Want to be part of an ad that will most definitely get a lot of airtime? Here’s your chance: Generation Movie Project :) The website loads rather slowly unfortunately, but still nice work by Famous.

Kinepolis meetup

My old friends at Kinepolis invited me over for a blogger meetup 2 weeks ago, something they had set up together with Proximity BBDO (represented by the one and only ‘Druppels’) and Adhese. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but given the fact I worked at Kinepolis myself for some 7 years I had more than enough reasons to go check it out.

I don’t really want to cover the content of the meeting (as others have done that already) but I was mostly interested in the approach of the company towards the community. And the commentary after.

Kinepolis
Photo by Dipfico

I once wrote a post called ‘not for sale’ and featured it in my side navigation since then. And then people started asking me why I don’t like advertising on my blog… I tell them to read it again, it’s not what I’m saying. The whole social media approach, the whole thing about being more consumer friendly, about engaging in a conversation, … is something that needs to be in your soul so to speak. A lot of companies get some recognition because ‘they get it’ whereas they just started using social media technologies to do one way communications. Sigh. I like genuine innovation, genuine openness… and yes even when you could argue about why it didn’t come any sooner.

Kinepolis is a company that gets it, maybe late but they showed me they do. Why? Because of the genuine openness and honesty of the conversation we had with the Kinepolis management during the meetup, including their CEO. The 20-some bloggers present at the event will probably agree, when was the last time you had such an open conversation with the CEO of a company the size of Kinepolis? Very curious to see how this will evolve, I guess that’s where I still can go wrong. At least the goodwill is there…

Looking at the commentary after the event I realized even more people don’t seem to make the distinction between ‘I approve how they did this’ and ‘I will now believe whatever they say without thinking’. Did I buy everything they said at that event? Did I think they are now all saints? No. But they did show in a very honest way what their plans are and how they want to have this conversation. I liked that a lot. And for the naysayers, if you really care about this just tell Adhese about it and there’s no reason why you couldn’t be part of this.

There were only 2 things I missed really, one being some more food and the other one a demo of the big screen gaming they do because I always loved that. There’s really nothing that beats playing COD or other on a 24 meters wide screen in full THX Dolby Surround sound ;)

Sales! Everything –50%

I was rather surprised to see that this article (PDF/Dutch) didn’t generate more buzz in the Belgian blogosphere. Let me explain.

It’s sales period in Belgium as always during the first month of January. These sales are indeed only allowed a certain moments of the year and are heavily regulated. I won’t go into the details as it’s not to the point (and I would have to look them up ;)).

So what happens at Mango, a fashion retailer? They have almost everything at 50% off, great sales. But if you take away the sales price tag? You notice the ‘real’ original price, shown quite clearly on this photo:

mango

So in reality they’re only giving like 30% off versus what they are advertising right now. According to the folks at the Federal Dept. of Economics what happened here is legally allowed so case closed.

I don’t get it though, legal or not, this is not really showing much respect for your customers is it? Legal or not, we should all find this a problem, seriously. I can already see how the conversation at the Mango office would have been a couple of weeks ago:

GM (General Moron): Alright, January sales are coming up, let’s do all at –50%
MD (Marketing/Sales Dude): Great idea boss, let’s go do it
MD: One problem though, we cannot afford –50%, we wouldn’t make enough profit
GM: That’s not what we want is it … mmm … still want those big –50% stickers on my shops though
MD: I got an idea, why don’t we claim the prices of our products are a bit higher than they really are… and then give 50% off, nobody will notice…
GM: You’re the best! Let’s go get them.

Common practice? According to some it is. Legally ok? Apparently yes. But what I remember from Mango is that they have made it clear they shouldn’t be trusted. Happy shopping.

[Via Goedles]

Turn on the pre-recorded website

My buddy Matth just IM’ed me this one, a pretty engaging promotion from ING for their Lion Deposit. I reckon it’s not easy to make promotions for banks these days given the whole sector lost quite some trust with their customers… like me for instance.

I won’t say too much about it as you have to go see for yourself but know that not all is in English (although you’ll get the idea). I especially like the banner girl… and her preference for Yahoo! banners, as they are bigger and allow for more creativity. You’ll :)

INGLionDeposit

And yes I know similar things like this have been done before, but that doesn’t mean this doesn’t work. I watched it until the end… and I even clicked. Was this created by Emakina? Job well done to whomever did this anyway!

Candlelight

I’m pretty sure the guys at Buzzing Bees won’t mind but I have copy their latest post, it’s too good. They show the latest commercial made for Electrabel by Famous – filmed in Stop Motion with 288.000 candles. Note – Electrabel is a energy provider.

Here’s the making of:

Great stuff Famous!

Creativity World Forum

Last week I spent 2 days at the Creativity World Forum in Antwerp, a conference that got my attention because of some of main speakers such as John Cleese, Steve Wozniak, Dan Heath, Tom Kelly, Chris Anderson, … Many of them I had not seen before which made it all the more interesting. It was also at this conference that we got to SpotMe device for better networking, something I blogged about last week. Most of he links below point to short recap videos of the presentations, so make sure you check out the ones that interest you.

Day 2 - Chris Anderson
Photo from FlandersDC

First speaker to kick off the event (well after the obligatory and boring intro) was John Cleese. And just like for many of you I guess… he’s a hero of mine so pretty good start :) I must say even though John didn’t re-invent to wheel here on how to be creative but I liked that presentation a lot. John’s theory is that everyone can be creative, but that you need to get into the creative mindset for it and that you need to take time for it. A lot of his focus regarding this mindset was on the unconscious part of your brain that is very important for this. He recommended to read a book called ‘Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How intelligence increases when you think less’ to support his talk on this. Instinctively I could recognize myself in this (which I guess is a good thing) but there’s obviously no way I compare to John of course.

The next talk I saw was from Jef Staes. A presentation that didn’t really start of well, but turned out to be pretty interesting in the end. The analogy of the Red Monkey which is the creator, who needs to influence the pioneers first, after which you (hopefully) get followers that finally crush the settlers was an interesting one. Especially given my interest in all things ‘influence’. After Jef came Theo Jansen who I blogged about before, seriously impressed with his creations though. Fascinating to see those on stage., again watch the video. Last speaker I saw on day 1 was Steve Wozniak, and although I was seriously looking forward to that, I must say you might as well read his book.

First up the second day was Tom Kelley from IDEO, who talked about how it’s not good enough to be innovative, but how you also need to outpace everyone else. He spoke about his new book and the different roles he describes in there that are important in the innovative process, with the focus on 2 roles: The Anthropologist and the Experience Architect. Again I liked what I saw, also because it sort of ties in with some things I mentioned during my own presentation at SIME. He mentioned a good quote of Marcel Proust saying:

“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes”

He also referred to a concept they call ‘VUJA DE’ which is exactly the opposite as ‘DEJA VU’ and how it’s exactly these ‘VUJA DE’ moments they’re trying to pursue at IDEO when working on projects. Good stuff.

I was also looking forward to see An De Jonghe but that turned out to be a big disappointment. She gave 3 examples around social networking, one of which was Belgian and which took her a lot of research to find it (yet failing to point out she’s consulting for them!) Good luck we got a great treat from Dan Heath after that. His talk was related to ‘Made To Stick’ (which I loved) and since he’s a great presenter as well, this was really good. Good reminder about the ‘curse of knowledge’ and thinking about reading the book again.

Last but not least, Chris Anderson, no need for introduction right? He talked a little bit about ‘The Long Tail’ but mostly on his new book ‘Free’ which is coming out next June. It was really interesting to see how he came about this theory (talking about how “storage, bandwidth will become to cheap to meter”) and why that enables these new models. He talked about 4 models of FREE that exist in the 21st Century:

  1. A marketing trick
  2. Ad-Funded / Ad-Supported
  3. Freemium
  4. Gift Economy

… of which Freemium is definitely the most compelling to me. Really good talk again which concluded the event. So needless to say I enjoyed it, especially when you know it cost only like 300 EUR. There were more presentations but those were the ones I wanted to talk about, make sure you watch those videos!

Famous Jaffe

Last Friday I was invited by Famous to come to their annual BBQ at the Africa Museum in Brussels. They also had arranged for Joseph Jaffe to come and talk about The Conversation to the audience of marketers and advertisers. I had wanted to see Jaffe present again as last (and first) time I saw him was in November 2005 and it was good. Given the post about that presentation was only the second one I had ever written on a blog, it’s fair to say it was part of the reason that I got into blogging to begin with (just like reading “Naked Conversations” was another one). Another reason why I was interested to go was because it would be a good opportunity to finally meet face to face, after several conversations online.

And just like in 2005, Jaffe never seems to disappoint as a presenter. Reading his books always leave me somewhere in the middle, I like them because they’re well written but most of the content is not new to me so that makes them less interesting. But then again, I don’t belong to the core target audience for these books either. The marketers and advertisers invited by Famous do belong to that audience though and I really hope they will read the book. Since everyone received a free copy that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge :)

ConversationalMarketingConstruct

One of the slides that interested me most was the one above about “The Conversational Marketing Construct”. I thought it was an interesting exercise on defining the innovation process, and something we ought to use to check on our own progress with Bring The Love Back.

Overall, very good presentation and glad to finally meet Joseph in person. There were a lot of good statements being made during the presentation but since Clo captured most of them in her Twitter stream, I suggest you check that one out. My favorites:

… And this is my social security number and my bank account. Since you’re all marketing professionals I know you’ll be too lazy to use the data to get into contact with me anyway” (when showing his AMEX, bank account, etc details on his ‘who’s Jaffe’ slide)

Or this one…

It’s not enough to get your foot in the door. Consumers are now so powerful they would break it. They would have to ask you in.