1. As many of us are prone, I welled up with the holiday spirit,  thankful for so much and wanting to give as much as I could to my  mother, girlfriend, brother, my two sisters and my children, my client  managers, my staff, the doormen, valets and porters in my building, the  security people and super at my office, tutor, caretaker, housekeeper,  dog walker… there seemed no end. I was determined to give and  “share.” My company even donated over a hundred pounds of canned food to  City Harvest.
For many of us, 2011 has been another year of constricted budgets, of  doing more with less. Speaking as an agency owner, I see now that our  client managers have been just as challenged as we were in delivering at  the standards to which we all aspire — and yet, together we have all  collectively managed to achieve some very impressive brand and marketing  products! The commitment to rise above has truly been an inspiration to  witness, a defining spirit of the times.
When I began IridiumGroup 17 years ago, I aimed for business success;  I never imagined that I would also meet so many important friends and  professional peers who would add to the richness of my life. Whether it  has been professionals employed at our firm, vendors, partners, or  client managers, I am truly fortunate to have the experiences that I  have had in 2011. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s taken me 50 years  to understand  that human relationships are all we ever really have.  The rest — the  material, the money, homes or land, equity in anything  at all — just passes through the generations. As they say, you can’t  take it with you. More to the point, nothing helps us navigate our  exceptionally difficult lives so much as human companionship. As it  turns out, “people” are not all that bad.
*   *   *
I have two children, 19 and about to be 16. They live predominantly  in the new media world. Truth be told, they rarely ever leave it. My son  doesn’t want to leave his computer for the sake of conversation or  human contact. On a whim, I considered that we should all take a trip to  Barnes & Noble to discover, to buy — gasp! — a book. What a great  way to introduce my son to other forms of interest and entertainment!
The impetus was pure and it looked productive for some time. I  steered my son to a section of teen fiction where, 2-3 years ago, he  devoured spy/thriller novels. My daughter, driven on a mission, located  the entertainment section of literature with little distraction. Neither  cold war submarines, nor new age drones could navigate as well as this.  In my own pursuit, I dallied about with David Carr’s new book,  meandered through the DVD section of films (as I am inclined), having  very little attention generally, and having even less time.
We reconvened in 30-40 minutes. What had they selected? What  Hemingway epic or classic novel had they picked? What ideas most  captured, enraptured and engaged them?
True to form, my son had studiously, carefully considered and  selected a book entitled, “How to learn Java in 24 hours.” O.K., not  what I had envisioned. My daughter chose the new autobiography by Jay-Z,  “Decoded.” Later, she would call the rapper a “great philosopher” and  declare that she burned through this book at light speed, even as she  has spent 3 weeks trying to read 4 chapters of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
So my daughter wants to decode; my son wants to learn how to code. We  are an entertainment society, and there’s really no surprise in their  picks. My mother and father never understood the Rolling Stones. For me,  the only surprise is the depth and speed at which it all happened. In  the words of Kanye and Jay-Z, “dat shit cray.”
*   *   *
As we consider another year of prospective business, as well as  uncertainty in the markets, I’m considering all that I value and ways  that I can personally improve in 2012. I want to take a moment to thank  you, and to wish you and your family an incredibly successful year.  Please stay safe in your travels and celebrations, and know that I am  very grateful for the privilege of knowing and working with you.
Have a glorious, inspired holiday weekend and a dedicated, sustainable commitment to your new plans for 2012.

    As many of us are prone, I welled up with the holiday spirit, thankful for so much and wanting to give as much as I could to my mother, girlfriend, brother, my two sisters and my children, my client managers, my staff, the doormen, valets and porters in my building, the security people and super at my office, tutor, caretaker, housekeeper, dog walker… there seemed no end. I was determined to give and “share.” My company even donated over a hundred pounds of canned food to City Harvest.

    For many of us, 2011 has been another year of constricted budgets, of doing more with less. Speaking as an agency owner, I see now that our client managers have been just as challenged as we were in delivering at the standards to which we all aspire — and yet, together we have all collectively managed to achieve some very impressive brand and marketing products! The commitment to rise above has truly been an inspiration to witness, a defining spirit of the times.

    When I began IridiumGroup 17 years ago, I aimed for business success; I never imagined that I would also meet so many important friends and professional peers who would add to the richness of my life. Whether it has been professionals employed at our firm, vendors, partners, or client managers, I am truly fortunate to have the experiences that I have had in 2011. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s taken me 50 years to understand that human relationships are all we ever really have. The rest — the material, the money, homes or land, equity in anything at all — just passes through the generations. As they say, you can’t take it with you. More to the point, nothing helps us navigate our exceptionally difficult lives so much as human companionship. As it turns out, “people” are not all that bad.

    *   *   *

    I have two children, 19 and about to be 16. They live predominantly in the new media world. Truth be told, they rarely ever leave it. My son doesn’t want to leave his computer for the sake of conversation or human contact. On a whim, I considered that we should all take a trip to Barnes & Noble to discover, to buy — gasp! — a book. What a great way to introduce my son to other forms of interest and entertainment!

    The impetus was pure and it looked productive for some time. I steered my son to a section of teen fiction where, 2-3 years ago, he devoured spy/thriller novels. My daughter, driven on a mission, located the entertainment section of literature with little distraction. Neither cold war submarines, nor new age drones could navigate as well as this. In my own pursuit, I dallied about with David Carr’s new book, meandered through the DVD section of films (as I am inclined), having very little attention generally, and having even less time.

    We reconvened in 30-40 minutes. What had they selected? What Hemingway epic or classic novel had they picked? What ideas most captured, enraptured and engaged them?

    True to form, my son had studiously, carefully considered and selected a book entitled, “How to learn Java in 24 hours.” O.K., not what I had envisioned. My daughter chose the new autobiography by Jay-Z, “Decoded.” Later, she would call the rapper a “great philosopher” and declare that she burned through this book at light speed, even as she has spent 3 weeks trying to read 4 chapters of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    So my daughter wants to decode; my son wants to learn how to code. We are an entertainment society, and there’s really no surprise in their picks. My mother and father never understood the Rolling Stones. For me, the only surprise is the depth and speed at which it all happened. In the words of Kanye and Jay-Z, “dat shit cray.”

    *   *   *

    As we consider another year of prospective business, as well as uncertainty in the markets, I’m considering all that I value and ways that I can personally improve in 2012. I want to take a moment to thank you, and to wish you and your family an incredibly successful year. Please stay safe in your travels and celebrations, and know that I am very grateful for the privilege of knowing and working with you.

    Have a glorious, inspired holiday weekend and a dedicated, sustainable commitment to your new plans for 2012.

  2. As the University of Maryland players stormed onto the field for their 2011 debut, I took one look at their new uniforms and immediately knew that this was going to be good fodder for an engaging national discussion on brand design. Any presentation that bold and that visually disconcerting had to make for good blogging and tweeting.  These types of events are fun and exciting because they are such catalysts for a more robust critique. And this one will not be contained to ESPN and football enthusiasts. One thing the uniforms were not, was passive. It was a very public display, a commitment to the radical.By halftime, announcers were showing us the way it transformed trending topics on Twitter, including a “not-so-flattering” tweet from King Lebron James himself, and from Bill Walton: “Abercrombie is paying the Jersey Shore cast to NOT wear AF clothing. I hope someone pays Maryland to never wear these horrid uniforms again.”Based on the state flag, much has already been written and broadcasted about the uniform design. Less than 24 hours after the official public launch, one can turn up dozens of news items in a Google search.Looking still deeper, however, the design of the flag is a representation of the coat of arms of George Calvert, 1st Baron of Baltimore, and is the only flag in the U.S. to be based on English heraldry. The state seal is also designed to reflect the motif. There’s even some history with the American Civil War, in which the two patterns were divided and adopted by opposing factions within the state of Maryland and northern Virginia Army.Amateur athletics and the uniforms they spawn are tirelessly conservative. An ESPN analyst noted that the design, while unorthodox, was likely to create such buzz as to generate attention and recruiting advantages that would not otherwise be realized through traditional means. It’s true. A famous publisher once shared that he could not have ever afforded the incredible public relations coup, the attention garnered, of a stunt in bad taste. Sometimes, people just like drama and conflict.Imagine the simple, clean, classic design of Alabama, Penn State, etc. Incongruous, innovative, and asymmetrical patterns are not what one would think of when considering collegiate athletic uniforms — especially for football. But we’ve seen a daring design approach reap benefits before. I’m still remembering the first redesign of the Cincinnati Bengal uniforms in 1981, equally as bold. And who ever wrote that college football uniforms cannot be innovative? The playbooks certainly are.Once again, we see a design that is so opposed to the norm that it’s actually memorable and good. The decision by Boise State to make a blue football field is now legendary. A naming expert once told me that odd, sharp phonetic sounds resonate and “stick” with the customer. As it turns out, odd, unusual visuals are no different.One can only imagine that Coach Randy Edsall likes the decision as well, since it clearly announces a break with the past methodology and team results. The new uniforms beg for — actually, they demand — confidence. The new design flamboyantly marks Edsall’s introduction as the new coach charged with bringing championships and big bowl dollars to the university. If the university wanted a big brand splash-type launch, they’re getting one.*     *     *Upon doing a bit of research, one quickly notices that the University of Maryland has a history of audacious marketing decisions. Take “Testudo” for example.“Testudo,” the mascot for Maryland, is based on the diamondback turtle. Over the years the formal species name, malaclemys terrapin terrapin, became known more commonly as the “Terrapins” or “Terps.” In the 1990’s a movement made the diamondback turtle the official state reptile and mascot of the University of Maryland. By 2000 the University began to promote the slogan, “Fear the Turtle.” Enough said, I think.Now granted, one would not normally associate a turtle with the most ominous of potential mascot choices available from the animal kingdom, but who among us would argue that they are not vastly differentiated with the selection? Only Oregon would be able to compete for decision-making based so exclusively on a distinctive brand: They chose the ever-threatening and always unique duck. (Can anyone say “advertising revenues?” Think: natural Aflac sponsorships and event tie-in’s.) After all, when we think about tenacity, skill, agility and aggression, all hallmarks of an NCAA winning football team, don’t we just instinctively make the connection to ducks and turtles?I say, “Carpe diem.” Why shouldn’t Oklahoma look at herringbone textures and argyle socks? Why doesn’t Alabama consider a hint of paisley? Stanford has the smartest players… Why not weave a little tweed into the field’s fall fashion line?All of this is just in good fun, of course. As they say, what’s good for the goose (or terrapin) is good for the gander. Being a graduate of Virginia Tech, I cannot proclaim a heritage to anything better when it comes to mascots. Besides, I can’t even tell you what a Hokie bird is, and God forbid that I should have to explain the origin of the Hokie. In the 70’s I used to go to games and a giant Gobbler would roam the sidelines. That thing must have been 10 feet tall, with a neck that took up half the length of its body. It may be only my opinion, but intelligent, desirable associations are just not immediately apparent between a turkey and the University’s highly competitive, elite athletes. Don’t turkeys get eaten on one of our more prominent national holidays, one that ironically belongs to the sport of football? Ah! If so, that might explain the evolution away from a “Gobbler” and into the fear-inspiring, universally dreaded “Hokie Bird.”In the meantime, let’s just be glad that the University of Maryland did not also adopt the state motto, an Italian expression also from the Calvert family: “Fatti maschil, Parole femine,” or “Manly deeds, Womanly words.” Whatever that even means.When it comes to creativity in this strange new age, perhaps the unexpected alternative to any sense of tradition, order and structure, would be the way to go.

    As the University of Maryland players stormed onto the field for their 2011 debut, I took one look at their new uniforms and immediately knew that this was going to be good fodder for an engaging national discussion on brand design. Any presentation that bold and that visually disconcerting had to make for good blogging and tweeting.  These types of events are fun and exciting because they are such catalysts for a more robust critique. And this one will not be contained to ESPN and football enthusiasts. One thing the uniforms were not, was passive. It was a very public display, a commitment to the radical.

    By halftime, announcers were showing us the way it transformed trending topics on Twitter, including a “not-so-flattering” tweet from King Lebron James himself, and from Bill Walton: “Abercrombie is paying the Jersey Shore cast to NOT wear AF clothing. I hope someone pays Maryland to never wear these horrid uniforms again.”

    Based on the state flag, much has already been written and broadcasted about the uniform design. Less than 24 hours after the official public launch, one can turn up dozens of news items in a Google search.

    Looking still deeper, however, the design of the flag is a representation of the coat of arms of George Calvert, 1st Baron of Baltimore, and is the only flag in the U.S. to be based on English heraldry. The state seal is also designed to reflect the motif. There’s even some history with the American Civil War, in which the two patterns were divided and adopted by opposing factions within the state of Maryland and northern Virginia Army.

    Amateur athletics and the uniforms they spawn are tirelessly conservative. An ESPN analyst noted that the design, while unorthodox, was likely to create such buzz as to generate attention and recruiting advantages that would not otherwise be realized through traditional means. It’s true. A famous publisher once shared that he could not have ever afforded the incredible public relations coup, the attention garnered, of a stunt in bad taste. Sometimes, people just like drama and conflict.

    Imagine the simple, clean, classic design of Alabama, Penn State, etc. Incongruous, innovative, and asymmetrical patterns are not what one would think of when considering collegiate athletic uniforms — especially for football. But we’ve seen a daring design approach reap benefits before. I’m still remembering the first redesign of the Cincinnati Bengal uniforms in 1981, equally as bold. And who ever wrote that college football uniforms cannot be innovative? The playbooks certainly are.

    Once again, we see a design that is so opposed to the norm that it’s actually memorable and good. The decision by Boise State to make a blue football field is now legendary. A naming expert once told me that odd, sharp phonetic sounds resonate and “stick” with the customer. As it turns out, odd, unusual visuals are no different.

    One can only imagine that Coach Randy Edsall likes the decision as well, since it clearly announces a break with the past methodology and team results. The new uniforms beg for — actually, they demand — confidence. The new design flamboyantly marks Edsall’s introduction as the new coach charged with bringing championships and big bowl dollars to the university. If the university wanted a big brand splash-type launch, they’re getting one.

    *     *     *

    Upon doing a bit of research, one quickly notices that the University of Maryland has a history of audacious marketing decisions. Take “Testudo” for example.

    “Testudo,” the mascot for Maryland, is based on the diamondback turtle. Over the years the formal species name, malaclemys terrapin terrapin, became known more commonly as the “Terrapins” or “Terps.” In the 1990’s a movement made the diamondback turtle the official state reptile and mascot of the University of Maryland. By 2000 the University began to promote the slogan, “Fear the Turtle.” Enough said, I think.

    Now granted, one would not normally associate a turtle with the most ominous of potential mascot choices available from the animal kingdom, but who among us would argue that they are not vastly differentiated with the selection? Only Oregon would be able to compete for decision-making based so exclusively on a distinctive brand: They chose the ever-threatening and always unique duck. (Can anyone say “advertising revenues?” Think: natural Aflac sponsorships and event tie-in’s.) After all, when we think about tenacity, skill, agility and aggression, all hallmarks of an NCAA winning football team, don’t we just instinctively make the connection to ducks and turtles?

    I say, “Carpe diem.” Why shouldn’t Oklahoma look at herringbone textures and argyle socks? Why doesn’t Alabama consider a hint of paisley? Stanford has the smartest players… Why not weave a little tweed into the field’s fall fashion line?

    All of this is just in good fun, of course. As they say, what’s good for the goose (or terrapin) is good for the gander. Being a graduate of Virginia Tech, I cannot proclaim a heritage to anything better when it comes to mascots. Besides, I can’t even tell you what a Hokie bird is, and God forbid that I should have to explain the origin of the Hokie. In the 70’s I used to go to games and a giant Gobbler would roam the sidelines. That thing must have been 10 feet tall, with a neck that took up half the length of its body. It may be only my opinion, but intelligent, desirable associations are just not immediately apparent between a turkey and the University’s highly competitive, elite athletes. Don’t turkeys get eaten on one of our more prominent national holidays, one that ironically belongs to the sport of football? Ah! If so, that might explain the evolution away from a “Gobbler” and into the fear-inspiring, universally dreaded “Hokie Bird.”

    In the meantime, let’s just be glad that the University of Maryland did not also adopt the state motto, an Italian expression also from the Calvert family: “Fatti maschil, Parole femine,” or “Manly deeds, Womanly words.” Whatever that even means.

    When it comes to creativity in this strange new age, perhaps the unexpected alternative to any sense of tradition, order and structure, would be the way to go.

  3. Remember  the first time you saw those odd Geico caveman commercials produced by  The Martin Agency? I remember thinking that advertising was getting  stranger and stranger because it had to in order to keep our  attention. With the evolution of technology — cable, Internet, mobile  devices and now, tablets — there’s clearly increased competition for  consumer mindshare. As a result, it’s more challenging for agencies to  create advertisements that resonate with customers. The name of the game  is punching through the clutter of messaging and channels. Effectiveness of advertising is measured more easily now and agency performance is monitored far more closely.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a proliferation of lunchtime food trucks  in New York. Food trucks have been around for a long time, but they  served the standard fare of coffee and bagels, gyros, kabobs, and the  design of the trucks essentially stated whatever was available. A few  weeks ago, I saw what appeared to be a very long line of young people  waiting to buy from a truck called “Feed Your Hole.” The design of the  logo and truck itself was fresh and contemporary. The design even looked  like a professional, studio solution. There are more and more of these  trucks, all with irreverent names and quirky, unique brand designs.
What’s happening to advertising? It’s going rogue. Mad men of the  60′s had nothing on this new generation of “out-of-the-box-thinking”  creative teams. And according to reports, it’s not just corporate  maverick brands that are pioneering rogue creative methods; nonprofit  organizations are jumping into the fray.
The Wall Street Journal weekend “Visualizer” section showcases the new book by Gavin Lucas, Guerrilla Advertising 2.

The Art of Getting Attention
The book focuses on more than 60 campaigns that were deployed  internationally, from an inflatable pig wedged between two skinny NYC  buildings to advertise dental floss, to toe-tagged sun bathers basking  in a park, with ads dangling from their toes that read, “Sun Kills.”
A few examples cited:
• (Below) Promotions in Atlanta to advertise a play about  African-American barbershop culture featured giant combs placed into  large shrubs around the city. In some instances, the combs were stolen,  prompting local news coverage. As a result, the agency claims a 60%  increase in sales of tickets.

• In London, an oversized sculpture of a woman lying on the sidewalk  with her head stuck in a photo booth to promote a show about a tattoo  parlor (the ad message was tattooed on her back). Also, the campaign  featured a giant sculpture of a swimmer on a grassy lawn near Tower  Bridge, his arms, head, and legs emerging from the soil as if he was  swimming.
• A museum on the street? In London, the National Gallery hung 44  full scale, high resolution prints around the city using exact replica  frames and information plaques, turning the entire city into a virtual  “outdoor museum.”
•  (Below) A campaign for a German employment website, Jobsintown,  featured posters designed for the  sides of vending machines. On each  poster was an image of a worker in  cramped space delivering the actual  product being purchased — a woman  with a washboard inside a washing  machine, a banker crouched inside an  ATM, a frozen worker dispensing  the ice cream, and a musician inside a  jukebox. The headline? “Life’s  too short for the wrong job.”

*     *     *
It’s not your father’s advertising environment anymore, pretty clearly. Those billboards with simple brand messaging are a fading, nostalgic memory. The new age  of ad creative is exciting. As much as we hear about the technology,  it’s interesting and fun to watch the creative concepting revolution  that is also underway. Anything is possible, no idea too bizarre. I  invite any shared, additional photos or descriptions of unusual ways to  engage the customer. I’ll be happy to post them here.
All of this daring creative work is intended to break through, to be  unique and distinct and memorable, and it got me thinking. I’ve decided  that IridiumGroup should be the first to organize a “Branded Message” flash mob. Any  client who is interested in pursuing this idea will get the initiative  delivered “at costs to produce.” We’ll put together a plan, cast for it  and script a flash mob performance that delivers the right corporate  message in the right venues, at just the right times. The opportunities  for earned media in desirable PR channels and viral brand-building are  just one benefit in this new age of inventive marketing.
It’s never been done before to my knowledge. Imagine the possibilities, and then call me to discuss.
http://www.laurenceking.com/product/Guerrilla+Advertising+2%3A+More+Unconventional+Brand+Communications.htm

    Remember the first time you saw those odd Geico caveman commercials produced by The Martin Agency? I remember thinking that advertising was getting stranger and stranger because it had to in order to keep our attention. With the evolution of technology — cable, Internet, mobile devices and now, tablets — there’s clearly increased competition for consumer mindshare. As a result, it’s more challenging for agencies to create advertisements that resonate with customers. The name of the game is punching through the clutter of messaging and channels. Effectiveness of advertising is measured more easily now and agency performance is monitored far more closely.

    Lately, I’ve been noticing a proliferation of lunchtime food trucks in New York. Food trucks have been around for a long time, but they served the standard fare of coffee and bagels, gyros, kabobs, and the design of the trucks essentially stated whatever was available. A few weeks ago, I saw what appeared to be a very long line of young people waiting to buy from a truck called “Feed Your Hole.” The design of the logo and truck itself was fresh and contemporary. The design even looked like a professional, studio solution. There are more and more of these trucks, all with irreverent names and quirky, unique brand designs.

    What’s happening to advertising? It’s going rogue. Mad men of the 60′s had nothing on this new generation of “out-of-the-box-thinking” creative teams. And according to reports, it’s not just corporate maverick brands that are pioneering rogue creative methods; nonprofit organizations are jumping into the fray.

    The Wall Street Journal weekend “Visualizer” section showcases the new book by Gavin Lucas, Guerrilla Advertising 2.

    Cover of Guerilla Advertising

    The Art of Getting Attention

    The book focuses on more than 60 campaigns that were deployed internationally, from an inflatable pig wedged between two skinny NYC buildings to advertise dental floss, to toe-tagged sun bathers basking in a park, with ads dangling from their toes that read, “Sun Kills.”

    A few examples cited:

    • (Below) Promotions in Atlanta to advertise a play about African-American barbershop culture featured giant combs placed into large shrubs around the city. In some instances, the combs were stolen, prompting local news coverage. As a result, the agency claims a 60% increase in sales of tickets.

    Outdoor advertising for African-American theater show in Atlanta

    • In London, an oversized sculpture of a woman lying on the sidewalk with her head stuck in a photo booth to promote a show about a tattoo parlor (the ad message was tattooed on her back). Also, the campaign featured a giant sculpture of a swimmer on a grassy lawn near Tower Bridge, his arms, head, and legs emerging from the soil as if he was swimming.

    • A museum on the street? In London, the National Gallery hung 44 full scale, high resolution prints around the city using exact replica frames and information plaques, turning the entire city into a virtual “outdoor museum.”

    • (Below) A campaign for a German employment website, Jobsintown, featured posters designed for the sides of vending machines. On each poster was an image of a worker in cramped space delivering the actual product being purchased — a woman with a washboard inside a washing machine, a banker crouched inside an ATM, a frozen worker dispensing the ice cream, and a musician inside a jukebox. The headline? “Life’s too short for the wrong job.”

    Creative Advertising, German Employment Website

    *     *     *

    It’s not your father’s advertising environment anymore, pretty clearly. Those billboards with simple brand messaging are a fading, nostalgic memory. The new age of ad creative is exciting. As much as we hear about the technology, it’s interesting and fun to watch the creative concepting revolution that is also underway. Anything is possible, no idea too bizarre. I invite any shared, additional photos or descriptions of unusual ways to engage the customer. I’ll be happy to post them here.

    All of this daring creative work is intended to break through, to be unique and distinct and memorable, and it got me thinking. I’ve decided that IridiumGroup should be the first to organize a “Branded Message” flash mob. Any client who is interested in pursuing this idea will get the initiative delivered “at costs to produce.” We’ll put together a plan, cast for it and script a flash mob performance that delivers the right corporate message in the right venues, at just the right times. The opportunities for earned media in desirable PR channels and viral brand-building are just one benefit in this new age of inventive marketing.

    It’s never been done before to my knowledge. Imagine the possibilities, and then call me to discuss.

    http://www.laurenceking.com/product/Guerrilla+Advertising+2%3A+More+Unconventional+Brand+Communications.htm

    Guerrilla Advertising for Skin Cancer Warning

  4. Newt Gingrich must have been embarrassed (and somewhat outraged)  when, after boasting that he had more Twitter followers than any other  candidate, it was revealed that his interactive communications had been  managed to artificially increase twitter followers through false  accounts.
According to Time magazine’s Techland.com, Newt probably only  actually had about 106,055 real followers out of the reported 1.3  million. Read more: http://techland.time.com/2011/08/03/report-92-of-newt-gingrichs-twitter-followers-arent-real/#ixzz1VZo4De1X According to Gawker, Mr. Gingrich hired a company that finds followers  for Twitter users, and apparently the company he hired to increase  traffic had optimized his Twitter numbers via newfangled marketing and  purchased, fake accounts.
The August 19 New York Times featured another great article, this one  by David Streitfeld about the incline in fake, paid reviews online.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html?_r=1&hp
As online retailers become ever more reliant on reviews, it seems that a whole underground  industry has been born to help create positive reviews. The article  interviews professional writers that are paid to generate the types of  5-star reviews that retailers need, some getting paid between $5-$10 per  review.
Cornell University has even set up a research center to study fake  reviews online. “The whole system falls apart if made up reviews are  given the same weight as honest ones,” says Myle Ott. The university is  experimenting with a proposed algorithm that is successful at sorting  the fake ones from the real reviews — at least 90 percent of the time.
Adding to the increase in fake reviews are loyalty programs that are  offered by companies like TripAdvisor. Some of Amazon’s top reviewers  stated in research that they were encouraged to write positive reviews  in exchange for premium give-aways like free books, etc.
In recent years, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association has grown  rapidly and even has a guide to ethics, and an ethical assessment  product on their website, to assist companies considering their social media strategies.http://womma.org/main/http://womma.org/ethics/assessment/

    Newt Gingrich must have been embarrassed (and somewhat outraged) when, after boasting that he had more Twitter followers than any other candidate, it was revealed that his interactive communications had been managed to artificially increase twitter followers through false accounts.

    According to Time magazine’s Techland.com, Newt probably only actually had about 106,055 real followers out of the reported 1.3 million.
    Read more: http://techland.time.com/2011/08/03/report-92-of-newt-gingrichs-twitter-followers-arent-real/#ixzz1VZo4De1X

    According to Gawker, Mr. Gingrich hired a company that finds followers for Twitter users, and apparently the company he hired to increase traffic had optimized his Twitter numbers via newfangled marketing and purchased, fake accounts.

    The August 19 New York Times featured another great article, this one by David Streitfeld about the incline in fake, paid reviews online.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html?_r=1&hp

    As online retailers become ever more reliant on reviews, it seems that a whole underground industry has been born to help create positive reviews. The article interviews professional writers that are paid to generate the types of 5-star reviews that retailers need, some getting paid between $5-$10 per review.

    Cornell University has even set up a research center to study fake reviews online. “The whole system falls apart if made up reviews are given the same weight as honest ones,” says Myle Ott. The university is experimenting with a proposed algorithm that is successful at sorting the fake ones from the real reviews — at least 90 percent of the time.

    Adding to the increase in fake reviews are loyalty programs that are offered by companies like TripAdvisor. Some of Amazon’s top reviewers stated in research that they were encouraged to write positive reviews in exchange for premium give-aways like free books, etc.

    In recent years, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association has grown rapidly and even has a guide to ethics, and an ethical assessment product on their website, to assist companies considering their social media strategies.

    http://womma.org/main/
    http://womma.org/ethics/assessment/

  5. There was the Dark Age, the Age of Exploration… the Age of  Enlightenment. While I have not heard or read it as a label to define  our times, can anyone deny that we are living in the quintessential “Age  of Uncertainty”?
If we do indeed live in the age of uncertainty, it would surely  explain the prolonged recession and volatility in the global financial  markets. Merrill Lynch analysts have placed the odds at 35 percent that  the U.S. will slip into the dreaded “double dip,” a recession more  severe than 1991 (NY Times, Aug. 13, James B. Stewart).
We remain ensnared in not one, but two wars; in Afghanistan, we are  entangled in the longest war in U.S. history, continuing to cost  billions and to daily take the lives of U.S. service men and women. It’s  a commitment made one decade ago that seemingly has no end in sight.  When will we be able to scale back on our commitment to troops and wind  down operations in the Middle East?
We fight an enemy that has no geographic borders, no national face or  traditional, structured government and in fact, remains hidden from  view. We wouldn’t know the enemy if we met him and shook hands. The  “covert, quick-strike-and-retreat” methods of the Taliban and al-Qaeda  may be cowardly, but in our modern world they are effective at  manipulating our financial markets and our confidence in our future.
Today’s NY Times reports that U.S. intelligence operatives  have concluded that Qaeda militants in Yemen have been actively seeking  castor beans, used to produce the deadly ricin poison, which may be  planned for small bomb attacks in our shopping malls, train stations,  etc.
An economist interviewed on NPR stated that the financial markets are  also responding to the unpredictability of things like another  terrorist attack. These acts are random and cannot be figured into  reasoned estimates for future probability.
Countries like Greece, and increasingly Italy, fight to remain  solvent. The U.S. Federal government confronts formidable issues with  developing a budget to restrict further debt, while finding ways to  repay the $14+ trillion deficit that exists.
According to Dave Ramsey, “If the U.S. Government was a family, they  would be making $58K a year, they spend $75K a year, and are $327K in  credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to  reduce their spending to $72K a year. These are the actual proportions  of the Federal budget and debt, reduced to a level that we can   understand.”
The congressional stalemate that has our nation in a relentless  quagmire has rendered our own legislative system useless: We’re a  country based on a dualistic, partisan government and we also embrace  the idea of individualism and opinions that challenge authority. Is  there any surprise that we find ourselves in a never-ending deadlock  grip between two fundamental systems of beliefs and values? In my  personal opinion, the President, ever a master of tactical  communication, continues to place the onus on Congress, deflecting  responsibility away from his own administration.
Ironically, it is exactly our consensus-based system of government  that has bottlenecked, leaving our leaders incapable of a decisive,  effective decision about our government’s finances. There are too many  cooks who have collectively left us in an era of unsure, unclear vision  about our future.
And it’s not just at the Federal level; globally, many local  municipalities also face a looming fiscal crisis. Jefferson Co., AL has  staved bankruptcy off to date, but the town of Central Falls, RI  succumbed earlier this month.
The only constant in our economy today would seem to be the rate of unemployment,  fixed just above 9 percent. But this too, beckons the question: When  will new jobs be created? Will we see improvement in 2012? 2013? If  uncertainty is a bad thing, consistent bad news is not a friend to Wall Street, or Main Street, either.
One important driver of success and growth in the markets has been  tech stocks, but this can also be called an uncertain aspect of our  society. (Who among us would not admit to the feeling that we exist in a  dizzying swirl of new innovation and products? Personified, as it  relates to our daily lives, the rush to market for emerging technologies  might look less like inspired innovation and more like white water  rapids.) The only other comparable phenomenon in our history would have  to be the rush for gold, and coincidentally investors are still seeking  it nearly two centuries later.
The dance between businesses and consumers is an ongoing chicken and egg proposition. Consumers wait for better news in the media on jobs, federal deficit, business performance. Many companies  responded accordingly after the 2008 debacle and slashed costs,  generally creating a surplus in profits and cash. But a war chest of  liquid assets does not a hiring strategy make. Companies want to see  better consumer confidence, better spending reports. It’s a tragic cycle  of “you go first.” And the dance goes on and on and on.
What we all seek is that enviable magic called confidence. But in the age of uncertainty, confidence is a rare gem of relief.
Whether it’s an individual or institutional professional, one thing  that the investment community shares in common is an aversion to  uncertainty. It may or may not be the most turbulent time in our  history. That much can always be debated. But across all platforms of  society — on a global, socioeconomic and political level — no one could  argue that tomorrow’s news is in any manner a predictable forecast.  Forecasts allow us to plan, to commit, and to build. That being  understood, investors, consumers and employers, aiming to hire and grow, may remain in the shadowy, safe sidelines for many more months.

    There was the Dark Age, the Age of Exploration… the Age of Enlightenment. While I have not heard or read it as a label to define our times, can anyone deny that we are living in the quintessential “Age of Uncertainty”?

    If we do indeed live in the age of uncertainty, it would surely explain the prolonged recession and volatility in the global financial markets. Merrill Lynch analysts have placed the odds at 35 percent that the U.S. will slip into the dreaded “double dip,” a recession more severe than 1991 (NY Times, Aug. 13, James B. Stewart).

    We remain ensnared in not one, but two wars; in Afghanistan, we are entangled in the longest war in U.S. history, continuing to cost billions and to daily take the lives of U.S. service men and women. It’s a commitment made one decade ago that seemingly has no end in sight. When will we be able to scale back on our commitment to troops and wind down operations in the Middle East?

    We fight an enemy that has no geographic borders, no national face or traditional, structured government and in fact, remains hidden from view. We wouldn’t know the enemy if we met him and shook hands. The “covert, quick-strike-and-retreat” methods of the Taliban and al-Qaeda may be cowardly, but in our modern world they are effective at manipulating our financial markets and our confidence in our future.

    Today’s NY Times reports that U.S. intelligence operatives have concluded that Qaeda militants in Yemen have been actively seeking castor beans, used to produce the deadly ricin poison, which may be planned for small bomb attacks in our shopping malls, train stations, etc.

    An economist interviewed on NPR stated that the financial markets are also responding to the unpredictability of things like another terrorist attack. These acts are random and cannot be figured into reasoned estimates for future probability.

    Countries like Greece, and increasingly Italy, fight to remain solvent. The U.S. Federal government confronts formidable issues with developing a budget to restrict further debt, while finding ways to repay the $14+ trillion deficit that exists.

    According to Dave Ramsey, “If the U.S. Government was a family, they would be making $58K a year, they spend $75K a year, and are $327K in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72K a year. These are the actual proportions of the Federal budget and debt, reduced to a level that we can  understand.”

    The congressional stalemate that has our nation in a relentless quagmire has rendered our own legislative system useless: We’re a country based on a dualistic, partisan government and we also embrace the idea of individualism and opinions that challenge authority. Is there any surprise that we find ourselves in a never-ending deadlock grip between two fundamental systems of beliefs and values? In my personal opinion, the President, ever a master of tactical communication, continues to place the onus on Congress, deflecting responsibility away from his own administration.

    Ironically, it is exactly our consensus-based system of government that has bottlenecked, leaving our leaders incapable of a decisive, effective decision about our government’s finances. There are too many cooks who have collectively left us in an era of unsure, unclear vision about our future.

    And it’s not just at the Federal level; globally, many local municipalities also face a looming fiscal crisis. Jefferson Co., AL has staved bankruptcy off to date, but the town of Central Falls, RI succumbed earlier this month.

    The only constant in our economy today would seem to be the rate of unemployment, fixed just above 9 percent. But this too, beckons the question: When will new jobs be created? Will we see improvement in 2012? 2013? If uncertainty is a bad thing, consistent bad news is not a friend to Wall Street, or Main Street, either.

    One important driver of success and growth in the markets has been tech stocks, but this can also be called an uncertain aspect of our society. (Who among us would not admit to the feeling that we exist in a dizzying swirl of new innovation and products? Personified, as it relates to our daily lives, the rush to market for emerging technologies might look less like inspired innovation and more like white water rapids.) The only other comparable phenomenon in our history would have to be the rush for gold, and coincidentally investors are still seeking it nearly two centuries later.

    The dance between businesses and consumers is an ongoing chicken and egg proposition. Consumers wait for better news in the media on jobs, federal deficit, business performance. Many companies responded accordingly after the 2008 debacle and slashed costs, generally creating a surplus in profits and cash. But a war chest of liquid assets does not a hiring strategy make. Companies want to see better consumer confidence, better spending reports. It’s a tragic cycle of “you go first.” And the dance goes on and on and on.

    What we all seek is that enviable magic called confidence. But in the age of uncertainty, confidence is a rare gem of relief.

    Whether it’s an individual or institutional professional, one thing that the investment community shares in common is an aversion to uncertainty. It may or may not be the most turbulent time in our history. That much can always be debated. But across all platforms of society — on a global, socioeconomic and political level — no one could argue that tomorrow’s news is in any manner a predictable forecast. Forecasts allow us to plan, to commit, and to build. That being understood, investors, consumers and employers, aiming to hire and grow, may remain in the shadowy, safe sidelines for many more months.

  6. Exciting news—my firm has just launched our new website! We are proud of its fresh and simple design, and welcome any feedback! Check it out at: http://iridiumgroup.com !

    Exciting news—my firm has just launched our new website! We are proud of its fresh and simple design, and welcome any feedback! Check it out at: http://iridiumgroup.com !

  7. Left: In the early 1900s, German designers were in the vanguard of  modern commercial art, using bold, colorful styles. The 1917 poster  above asks citizens to bring in their rabbit pelts: “The army needs  them!” Center: British posters during World War I focused on enlistment.  With the introduction of conscription in 1939 and during the difficult  early years of World War II, many posters emphasized unity, resolve and  calmness in the face of adversity (above, 1940). Right: A 1931 Soviet  Union poster that reads “”Fulfill the five-year plan for coal in three  years.”

    Left: In the early 1900s, German designers were in the vanguard of modern commercial art, using bold, colorful styles. The 1917 poster above asks citizens to bring in their rabbit pelts: “The army needs them!” Center: British posters during World War I focused on enlistment. With the introduction of conscription in 1939 and during the difficult early years of World War II, many posters emphasized unity, resolve and calmness in the face of adversity (above, 1940). Right: A 1931 Soviet Union poster that reads “”Fulfill the five-year plan for coal in three years.”

  8. Provoking feelings and capturing the reader’s attention, or making  them consider the thought of the article for a moment has been forsaken  for speed in comprehension.
Today’s media environment is about content — news you can use,  analysis full of benefits; information should always come first. But for  my tastes, my own personal preferences, no media product today can beat  the conceptual, provocative and creative power of the oldies.
Words and images that make us think and feel. What a concept.

    Provoking feelings and capturing the reader’s attention, or making them consider the thought of the article for a moment has been forsaken for speed in comprehension.

    Today’s media environment is about content — news you can use, analysis full of benefits; information should always come first. But for my tastes, my own personal preferences, no media product today can beat the conceptual, provocative and creative power of the oldies.

    Words and images that make us think and feel. What a concept.

  9. The 11 Golden Rules of Branding
Your  brand is your promise to those that matter. It’s who you are, what you  deliver, how you achieve it, what makes you different from others  promising the same thing. How you communicate those ideas — the defined  audiences, the messages you project, the channels and tools you use, and  the desired results — are the way that you build that brand image…..
Read More

    The 11 Golden Rules of Branding

    Your brand is your promise to those that matter. It’s who you are, what you deliver, how you achieve it, what makes you different from others promising the same thing. How you communicate those ideas — the defined audiences, the messages you project, the channels and tools you use, and the desired results — are the way that you build that brand image…..

    Read More

  10. Tribute to Willy Fleckhaus continues…
Here’s Bette Midler!

    Tribute to Willy Fleckhaus continues…

    Here’s Bette Midler!