Friday, July 11, 2008

In praise of Wikipedia

Seth Godin is complaining about some of the seemingly arbitrary choices done by the Wikipedia Collective Intelligence .

First let us look at his complaints:

1) The biography of George Costanza is five times as long as that of Tim O'Reilly.

Well I am sure at least 5 times as many people care about Goerge than Tim. Goerge Costanza is a figure of our modern psyche (at least in North America) in the same way Agamemnon might have been for the ancient greeks.

2) IBM and Jones Soda get a mention while Seth's old summer camp does not

Thank god for that.

Going past the misguided choice of examples, I think that Seth raises an issue that is worth discussing. Should Wikipedia be more tightly regulated? or less tightly regulated?

My first knee-jerk reaction would be, don't tinker with it if it is good.

Wikipedia is a miracle, our modern wonder of the world. The fact that a loosly regulated system with no hard incetives for participants has grown to be the definitive reference of our age is amazing. I think that this is due to a very delicate balance of control and loosness that the founders espoused.

If we play with this balance we are most likely going to cause harm as we are moving into uncharted territory and our only point of reference is Wikipedia itself, as no other system comes close to its magnitude in quality and size.

It seems that war between the deletionists and the expansionists is working very well in trimming the body of Wikipedia while keeping it growing in healthy areas.

So the answer to the questions of control, could indeed be "no answer". In other words, create an environment in which different opinions are allowed to flourish and to be combined into a 'wisdom of the crowd' decision that has so far proven wiser than the old encyclopedists.

This of course is all consistent with Seth Godin's own philosophy of digital marketing: create the tools, uleash them, and trust the masses to use them.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Marketing lessons from Elizabeth II

50 years ago a young Queen Elizabeth took a bold step by broadcasting her Christmas message on television. This year the aging but equally charming and forceful Queen broadcast her Christmas message on YouTube.

The British royal family is the ultimate brand. For nearly a century they have not exercised any power and have served as a symbol of continuity and history for Britain. It is an expensive symbol costing £36 million ($72 million) per annum, even when they are hrribilis.

Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952, and in addition to being the Queen of Emgland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis; she is:

  • Head of the Commonwealth
  • Supreme Governor of the Church of England
  • Paramount Chief of Fiji
  • Defender of the faith
  • Lord Admiral of the United Kingdom
  • Commader in Chief of the Candadian Armed Forces
The Queen has been a supreme brand manager and she managed with very few missteps to storm many crisis and maintain the dignity, love and respect accorded to the British Royal Family.

There is a lesson for all brand managers in the way the Royal Family was launched on YouTube.

1) Embrace new technology

As with radio and TV before the Royals never shied from using the most effective medium to spread their message.

2) Remain yourself

Do not confuse the technology with the culture of the people using it. Just because YouTubers are mostly teenagers sharing phone recorded clips does not mean that the Queen will be wishing Christmas in cargo pants.

3) Talk to people and not at them

The Queen address is always full of very personal messages that make the listener feel that she cares about him as she probably does. Her very formal presentation is transformed into a personal communication that is very touching and sincere.

4) Show your human side but be authentic

Unlike George Bush 41 showing up at supermarkets, but very much like 43 in his ranch the first TV message was broadcast from the Queen study where she is seen as if she was in her daily routine, comfortable but without affectation.

In the Royal Channel there is footage of the Windsors acting like real humans on Christams day (Chritmas cocktail, family photo, etc).

All this is of course a very studied walk on the tight-rope between humanity and royalty that the Queen has perfected.

5) Be consistent

The message is the same weather you are listening to the radio, watching TV, browsing YouTube, the Queen is not a chameleon that will change depending on the environment, on the contrary her brand will dominate the medium so that you forget where you are and only remember that you are with Her Majesty.

If you visit the Royal Channel on YouTube you will see a very royal presence that overwhelms the YouTube brand.

May your brand be as majestic.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Facebook demographics getting older

Many of our clients have been concerned that marketing on Facebook will only address the younger segments of their clients.

Here is the proof that this is wrong from

From Seth's Blog: Facebook for old people

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Social Networking Is Not Just for Kids Anymore -- New Study Finds Even Luxury Consumers Do It | Reuters

A new study by Unity Marketing shows that luxury consumers are (like all of us) increasingly using social media.

A luxury consumer as defined by the study is somebody who bought a luxury item in the last 3 month:

- Average age 43
- Average income 150000$
- % who visited a social media site in the last 3 months: 40%

Social Networking Is Not Just for Kids Anymore -- New Study Finds Even Luxury Consumers Do It | Reuters

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Free Rice

From the blog of my good friend Nabil, I found this incredible web site:

Free Rice

A word quiz that donates 10 grains of rice for each correct answer. Perfect execution from concept to design. It is a great example of how out the box thinking can lead to wonderful things on the web.

PI2K - Perspectives Insights 2 Knowledge: Absolutely Brilliant : Learn and feed the poor simultaneously

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Are Ads as Content the Future of Advertising? » Digital Podcast

Digital Podcast has a great review of the some of the best viral video campaigns:
Are Ads as Content the Future of Advertising? » Digital Podcast

The includes:

- Blenders
- Bullet proof backpacks
- How-to magazine
- TexMex Restaurant

My favorite is Maine Root campaign for its root beer:

- Cost 20 000$
- Sales growth in 1 year: 500 000$ => 3 000 0000$ (Digital Podcast implies it is the result of the ad).

So basically with good imagination this can apply to any product. The essence of the success of these ads in my opinion are:

- Light hearted approach
- Real product relevance
- Human touch

The big problem that most companies have when attempting these campaigns is that they either:
a) look at them either as well crafted TV ad and try to control every aspect of the creative process, or
b) go for the 'faux' college prank approach

Viewers are getting tired of a) and unless b) is authentically and extremely well executed they find it boring.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Best & Worst of FacebookCamp Montreal

We (Sequence geeks & cybermarketers) went yesterday to FacebookCamp Montreal.

It was a great event and we met a number of very interesting people who are passionate about Facebook in Montreal. By passionate I include those who hate it with passion and those who are passionately ambivalent.

There are a number of exchanges that made me think deeply about Facebook and social networks and I will be discussing those in future posts, but here is the quick take:

Best Session

Facebook: perspectives futures

Panel discussion with Bruno Boutot, Sebastien Provencher, Martin Lessard and Sylvain Carle.

This was a very useful discussion with great insights:

Martin touched on the central theme of the Social Network's 'revolution' basically giving media-like power to the average person.

Sylvain adds that what he used to do as uber-geek is now available to non-geeks

Bruno thinks "Facebook will never become 'Home' as there are too many poeple". He agrees it has a role as an aggregator of niche communities where users can really be @ home.

Sebastian had a bunch of great ideas but I was too drunk (see best beer award) to remember.

Best Beer

Griffon Red Ale

A true red with all the body and the structure, Boreal Rousse paled by comparision (no pun).

Best keynote

Co-winners Colin Smillie and Roy Pereira

OK they were the only keynote but they did a great job outlining stats and services of Facebook.

Best Application

Telephone from babyTel

Really user-friendly Facebook-integrated voip. Potentially addictive.

Full disclosure: Stephen Dorsey, babyTel president, is a good friend of mine and we have been exchanging ideas for a very long time. But the 'eggphone' is truly a great app, congrats Stephen.

Best Application (honorable mention)

iPlayLike from

I couldn't find it on Facebook but the idea is that you claim that you play Basketball like for example Jean Chrétien and your freind can vote if they agree or not. It basically captures the essence of great Facebook apps: fun, social, light-hearted and totally useless.

In the words of Marc Chriqui from iLovetoPlay the litmus test of any Facebook app is that anybody over 35 yrs should find it to be a total waste of time.

Sorry Marc you failed your own test, since I love your app :>

Best question

Member of the audience to Colin & Roy:
"Who are you guys? and where do you get your numbers from?"

Best Mustache

Thane Calder from Cloudraker

No picture available, but let us say that he does it to save his prostate

Note that Thane's contribution was not limited to his facial hair but he was a great MC for the Marketing segments.

Best Quote

Éric Bolduc zine editor of the wonderful
"Facebook is the blog of my blog"