Category Archives: Books

Coraline Marketing


[ Mike Baker's reconceived pulp 'Coraline' cover, from his blog 'Knack for Art':]

You haven't seen a lot from me on W+K's marketing efforts behind Coraline. 

The best gauge of a campaign is what other people say about it anyway, right?   And other folks have done a great job of covering it – Ward @ Drawn and The Future of Ads pretty much nail it, and if you missed anything, 'Evil Buttons' is the unoffical blog we've all been reading to track the campaign and its offshoots. 

Phil Knight was interviewed by AdAge about the Coraline marketing effort and had this to say:

"The original agreement was that Focus [Features] would do the advertising, but in
some of the early meetings, it was clear that we had a difference of
opinion on the advertising — "target audience" being one. They were
used to doing "data" advertising: They wanted to push this more as a
kiddie film, because that's what the data told them. And Nike and
Wieden & Kennedy together had grown up with what I call "emotional
essence advertising" — the essence of the product is its emotional
core, and you push that. It was two very different approaches, and it
kind of became clear in some of those early meetings that we had a very
strong difference of opinion. And to Focus' credit, they said, "OK, why
don't you guys try it? There's no use in fighting this thing. Let's
negotiate a different way to market this thing."
Marketing Quals ("emotional essence" types) and Quants ("data" advertisers) have been slugging it out for a while, so I wanted to share this nugget:

Pundits projected a $9MM opening weekend for Coraline, and $32MM total run gross.

We are damn proud that after a $16.3MM opening weekend take, Coraline's 3rd week US gross stands now at $53.93MM and counting. 

Bit More

"The powerful can be as timid as the weak. What seems to count more than possession of instruments of power is faith ìn the future. Where power is not joined with faith in the future, it is used mainly to ward off the new and preserve the status quo."
– Eric Hoffer, "The True Believer"

You believe, or you don't.

Either 'Interactivity will change everything', or it may be 'another channel through which to distribute more ads once we've nailed a GRP equivalency'.

Buckle up. It's 2009.
And love is, as it's always been, the answer.

Love + Sex with Robots


David Levy uses Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships to ostensibly explore two primary themes:

  • When will people have "sex" with robots/inorganic objects?
  • When will people fall in love with robots/inorganic objects?

Since we've already crossed the first threshold, and men and women have been doing so for a while, Levy uses most of the book to argue that (a) our wetware is already wired to enable investiture of emotional significance to inorganic objects (Levy cites Mihaly Csilkszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton's research
on the investiture of personal meaning through repeated
use, which they refer to as "psychic energy"), and that (b) Artificial Intelligence will soon have progressed to the extent that we will have emotionally and physically satisfying relationships with high-tech fabrications.  Yes, "fall in love" with them.

In other words, Kokoro-built Actroid Fembots (Kokoro is owned by Sanrio group, owners of Hello Kitty) will probably be used for more than expo booths soon (nudge nudge wink wink).


[image from future imperfect]

more to come…

Too True/Not True Enough

When I first heard about Google’s Knols project a while back, I was concerned that a user-generated  “encyclopedia”, unmoderated and fueled by ad revenue for its creators, and served to an unsuspecting population in Google's own organic search results based on (a) link popularity and (b) personal search histories, had the potential to create an info-cocoon of self-reinforcing biases on topics like abortion, gun control, and affirmative action.

Knols have now started to take the Internet by storm – after all they
are served by Google and contain a vast amount of knowledge so it only
makes sense that they would start dominating the search engines." – the Google Knol Guide

In a society that fields a vice-presidential candidate who believes in the Rapture, I felt Knols was the kind of project with the potential to change the Internet “marketplace of ideas” into a warren of extremist rabbit holes.

And in that context, I just finished reading Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.


His book describes the tech- and culture-fueled “ascendancy of belief over fact”, and he makes the case that not only can we now choose to believe what we want in spite of facts to the contrary, there is an industry growing up to exploit our propensity for factual relativism.  Referring to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” effort that may well have cost Kerry the 2004 election, Manjoo points to a “critical danger in our infosphere”:

“People who successfully manipulate today’s fragmented media landscape can dissemble, distort, exaggerate, fake – essentially, they can lie – to more people, more effectively, than ever before.”

And this hasn’t just led to polarized viewpoints – Manjoo posits that we dynamically construct our reality by knitting together the bits and pieces that reinforce our personal worldview (“selective exposure” leading to "biased assimilation"), and discard those that don’t. 

Net, we have arrived at a time and a place in our society where we are arguing not about ideas, but about reality itself. 

Or as Manjoo puts it: “Welcome to the Rashomon world, where the very idea of objective reality is under attack.”



Manjoo, citing Stephen Colbert, warns of the corrosive rise of “truthiness”:

“Truthiness means you choose. But you aren’t just deciding a reality, you are deciding to trust that reality – which means deciding to distrust others. Whenever you choose, you’re making a decision to form a particularized trust. This is the essence of the new medium”.

This isn’t just an interesting intellectual exercise – the UK recently passed the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), meant to bring UK advertising practices in line with EU directives current and future, that render illegal many "covert marketing techniques".  Paid content must be identified as such.  Brands and their agencies can't masquerade as normal folks to extol their product virtues in chat rooms.   No social network profiles for characters in commercials, “leaked” guerrilla YouTube videos or bloggers paid to surreptitiously push your commercial agenda.  What will DCI group do if that law gets passed here?  SImple – they won't LET it get passed here.

From the standpoint of brand experiences and brand communications, all this highlights one of the dangers inherent in the interactive gospel we preach: social media and interactive communications can be used for good or evil. One can use these tools to tell brand stories, or lie. Or both.

If Manjoo's right, you'll hate True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society or it'll reconfirm your existing suspicions.  or both. 

Design – High and Low

Got a review copy of Adaptive Path's "Subject to Change".  I'm 100 painful pages in to this 160 page book that seems so far to be at least 100 pages too long.  In a nutshell: think about design.  Oh – and think different.  There.  You don't have to buy one.   The "quotes-by-interesting-people" sprinkled throughout the book only serve to show you that meaningful ideas and insightful thoughts lie elsewhere – in other books that you've probably ALREADY READ.  I am forcing my way through it just to see if there's a twist that reveals this isn't just an painfully long and patronizing Adaptive Path credentials presentation.  If there is, I'll glady come back and revise this entry.

Contrast that with Undoboy's new site.

 "Design Brings Happiness" he suggests, then he sells it to you in the form of his Superbastard toys.  Short, sweet, to the point.  Elegant.