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Influx Insights

Influx Insights
A blog about the intersections of branding, marketing and culture
Articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


no more free newspaper content
2009-05-10 22:08:00
It looks like News Corporation has made the decision to start charging for its online content. Although this is not new news, this whole topic was discussed and experimented with in the early days of Web 1.0, it's now back on the agenda. With newspapers struggling for revenue, this seems to be the only way they can go. However, it's fraught with problems. Most internet users are pretty accustomed to free content and suddenly putting up walled gardens everywhere could have a huge impact on viewership and hence lead to massive declines in ad revenue. It will be interesting to see how much solidarity there will be between the different publishers and if some titles can benefit from holding out and not jumping into the fray. In the end, newspapers have little choice, but to find new ways to make money. The simple fee based model for subs and article access might not be enough. These publishers are going to have to think harder about adding value to make this really attractive. If they...
More About: Free , Content , Newspaper
reimagining a new future- bi rite grocery
2009-05-10 15:58:00
In a world where incumbents seem to be getting usurped on a daily basis, there's a temptation to throw in the towel and give up. The pressures of trying to survive in a changed marketplace become too much and over time the incumbent gets strangled. However, in many situations, the incumbent has had fair warning of the forthcoming change, but is unable to re-imagine a new future.For incumbents stumbling out there, it would be wise to take a look at Bi-Rite, a San-Francisco-based grocery store that was recently named one of Monocle Magazine's Top 20 retailers worldwide.(registation required)Bi-Rite has been in business since 1940 and is still a family business. It looks from outside appearances like a typical neighborhood grocery store, but if you look underneath the surface you can see how they have changed and adopted to survive in the world of grocery store giants. Here's are 5 things that make Bi-Rite different:1. They celebrate food- They are not in the business of just sellin...
More About: Future , Grocery
the power of insight
2009-05-08 13:35:00
Nice visual from IDEO's Tim Brown that will be included in his new book coming out in September.Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Power , Insight
influx curated poster
2009-05-06 18:37:00
Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Poster
restraining the future
2009-05-06 18:21:00
There's something interesting going on at the Rough Luxe Hotel in London. It doesn't conform to any popular luxury archetype, instead it throws together the aesthetic of the raw and real with the ultra modern. The result is somewhat frenetic and nervous, but it seems to fit exactly with the moment. We secretly want to be enthralled by the flash and brash of the future, but we don't want it to dominate, we need is something else to balance it.In the world of Rough Luxe, that balance comes from the worn, old and used patinas. We are at a moment in time where we are questioning everything that used to represent a flashy future because it didn't deliver. It's a representation of an extreme lifestyle that in hindsight wasn't for the best. The totems and icons reflecting that culture are now slowly being covered up and put away. You hear stories about Wall St bankers no longer dressing up in designer suits and instead looking to blend in when they walk the streets of Manhattan. Simp...
More About: Future , The Future
influx curated speaker interview-madison mount-ideo
2009-05-05 23:57:00
Madison Mount of IDEO is one of our speakers at the Influx Curated conference taking place on June 11th at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.Here's his response to three questions I asked him recently. 1. What’s on your mind at the moment? All of the disruption and chaos going on in the world right now...the lack of control, the layering and interconnectedness of the various forces, the acceptance of the absurd and constant humility required to keep going. This truly feels like a cathartic and necessary process that we’re going through – that we’re flushing the now poisonous set of beliefs, actions and expectations out of our system that has served us for this cycle that’s just ending. A new normal will emerge after this one expires. What we learn now, if we are nimble enough, will be applicable and make us stronger. But what we used to do and how we used to behave may only be marginally applicable – true for consumers, true for businesses, ...
More About: Speaker , Interview , Madison
rethinking it all
2009-05-05 20:29:00
There's a mindset out there that believes everything we are going through is just a temporary blip; a freak shower that will go away and replaced by sunshine. The idea that normality will soon return is a pervasive storyline that you hear repeated over again in our media.There's simply no alternative expectation of a future other than a return to normality. What happens if instead of waiting for normality to return, we are lurching forward towards a new normal that looks nothing like the old one?Can we turn the volume down and still function or is our business infrastructure designed only to work at maximum capacity? When there's less demand and new expectations there's the need for new thinking. As people experience the world that surrounds them their goals, needs, expectations are changing and transforming in significant ways. We don't quite know yet exactly what that might be, but we can assume that the likely new scenario will lie somewhere between the crazy "must have it a...
people will give you 56 seconds
2009-05-04 12:18:00
Astonishing data from Nielsen showing just how fragmented our attention has become. The average time for a site visit in March of 2009 was 56 seconds. This puts tremendous demands on the efficiency of web design, meaning designers have to make sure people get what they need as quickly as possible. Perhaps this is why most websites look the same.It also calls into question the depth that people want to go into to learn more. It's not uncommon for clients and agencies to think about putting long form content and long copy into areas of their website, but with this research, one has to wonder if any of this material ever gets read or watched. Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: People , Give , Seconds
marketing as operations
2009-05-04 11:36:00
Adrian over at  Zeus Jones has a great post about the overlooked area of operations as a marketing opportunity. He cites lots of good examples with a nice breakdown of categories. This is something many agencies have been talking about for years, but have had a little ability to influence and control. Most companies have marketing as a silo function and don't understand that everything is basically marketing. Agencies also lack the core skills required to implement cultural changes inside organizations, that can turn operations into marketing. Adrian's categories of operations with marketing potential are as follows:1. Delivery2. Sourcing 3. Construction4. Payment5. Internal metrics and data6. Repair7. Saving moneyIt would be smart for agency planners to look at each of their clients and audit these areas to see either what stories are not being told or how could marketing make an impact and use one of the areas in a smart way. Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Marketing
hirst and harley
2009-05-01 14:50:00
I was reading the story about British artist Damien Hirst doing an art bike for Harley . It's a one off and for a good cause, but I wondered if it was on brand and right for the bike icon. Here are my thoughts on why it's wrong...1. Art and bikes- everyone's adding plus art to everything. Harley's iconic and classic status surely means it doesn't to have to play that game2. Hirst as relevant culture- If you are going to do art, shouldn't it come from the culture?3. Hirst is a Brit- Harley is so USA, it's not even funny. It's almost unthinkable for the brand to going beyond these fine shores.However, perhaps the current zeitgeist is forcing Harley to re-think its entrenched image and succumb to a broader view of the world; one that embraces other cultures and disciplines to become a brand that can think beyond the shores of the USA.Posted by Ed Cotton
the challenges of scale- facebook
2009-05-01 14:39:00
Big is good. It shows scale, popularity and for advertisers the opportunity to reach masses of people. Scale in the media business is everything. The problem for many of the great online media brands, is that scale presents enormous technical challenges, not forgetting, massive bills for bandwidth.As an illustration of this, Facebook 's engineering team recently shared some stats on the scale of its photo sharing operation."The Photos application is one of Facebook’s most popular features. Up to date, users have uploaded over 15 billion photos which makes Facebook the biggest photo sharing website. For each uploaded photo, Facebook generates and stores four images of different sizes, which translates to a total of 60 billion images and 1.5PB of storage. The current growth rate is 220 million new photos per week, which translates to 25TB of additional storage consumed weekly. At the peak there are 550,000 images served per second. These numbers pose a significant challenge for ...
reframing the luxury brand
2009-04-28 17:39:00
Luxury brands have a big image problem on their hands and urgently need to re-position themselves to be relevant. They need to search deep within themselves to unlock the "truth" that set them apart. At the recent furniture fair in Milan, Fendi made a step forward in the right direction. It took over a space, brought in truck loads of scrap material and invited a dozen industrial designers to make objects live.For the opinion leaders Milan attracts, it was a good way for Fendi to immerse itself in the craft of making and to push against the frivolity of its fashion image. Expect to see more luxury brands getting to grips with the substance over style story in coming months. Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Luxury , Brand
influx curated speaker interview-mark barden-eat big fish
2009-04-28 17:08:00
Mark Barden of Eat Big Fish is one of our speakers at Influx Curated on June 11th in San Francisco. Here are Mark's responses to three questions I sent across to him recently.1. What's inspiring you at the moment?My kids inspire me all the time. Last night I turned the tables on my five year old and asked her to tell me a story for a change. Out popped a story about a princess with 3 magic jewels. The yellow one she hung up when it was cold and that was like the sun. The blue jewel was rain when she needed water. And the grey jewel contained a butterfly. There it was, instant creativity on demand. It can be that easy if you can channel your inner five year old. And she never seems to run out of stories. How many of us can say that. Invention like that, especially the seemingly effortless variety, is always inspiring to me. And I hang on to the notion that we all possess this ability if we can strip away and get over years of poor schooling and lack of encouragement. I just saw th...
More About: Speaker , Interview , Mark
new trend flash: luxury shame
2009-04-28 11:01:00
" The luxury goods market, once only accessible by the ultra-wealthy, has been transformed in the past few decades to be a world within the reach of middle class consumers. However in the wake of the growing international financial crisis, governments, societies, and individuals have been forced to make substantial changes. As such, consumers have begun shunning outward displays of wealth. Heavily branded, self-promoting luxury products are being forced to reinvent themselves due in part to the deep pains of the financial crisis, especially hitting the lucrative middle-class market. This phenomenon has manifested in a trend, dubbed "Luxury Shame ." By using psychoanalytic theory, this paper seeks to examine the development of societal prohibition in the form of luxury shame and the internalization of this prohibition in individuals as guilt and shame."A paper by Ryan Vinelli- Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of LawPosted by Ed Cotton
More About: Flash , Trend
surprises matter in a linear world
2009-04-27 17:54:00
Robert Bound writing in April's Monocle has a great piece about the problem with predictive software and music services; instead of introducing us to surprising artists and bands, we get something we could easily predict. Apple's Genius is according to Noble an "over-used and under earned title".Deeper into his piece he hints at the real beauty of newspapers, surprise."The shift to reading newspapers online isn't just sad for vanishing printworks and the demise of the most unbeatably usable and portable of media materials-paper-but it means reading in an accident free way. Without the need to fold and turn, a readers' key interests of business news, match reports and film reviews can be navigated seamlessly, but without stumbling upon the story of the British pub-sign painter or the intriguing report from the martial arts academy in Sichuan."While it's not something that can save the newspaper industry, but an overlooked insight that makes them unique.Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: World , Matter
searching for the watercooler
2009-04-27 17:19:00
It appears that something interesting has happened with the growth of social media. There was a time when media experts talked about mass fragmentation with audiences splintering into tiny interest groups that consumed media in unique ways.The proliferation of cable channels, digital radio stations and websites suggested this would be the way of the future. The assumption was that people would come together a few times of the year for big events like The Oscars or The Superbowl. This was before social networks, now we are all in these loosely affiliated networks. On Twitter, we have followers we've never met and in many cases have never heard of.With this continual conversation we are all looking for the thing to bind us closer together to people we barely know. We share stories hoping for a reaction and a response, it's great when our stuff gets re-tweeted. Basically, we are eager to make a connection with strangers to find something that we can build a conversation around. It's...
More About: Searching
from farming to foraging
2009-04-27 15:49:00
With consumers increasingly looking for new ways to save and the growth of vegetable gardens and the like, it appears people want to source food on their own.Beyond growing is the world of foraging; where people go out into open spaces and harvest food that's already there. This can be hunting for mushrooms and wild herbs in woods and forests or picking up shellfish and seaweed on the sea shore. This whole aspect of food sourcing is really interesting because it was a topic widely ignored by people who differed responsibility to grocery retailers and food manufacturers. Whether it's growing your own herbs or the extreme of harvesting shellfish on the beach, at any level it's going to result in a more knowledgeable and informed consumer. Once someone has experienced growing and finding their own food, they have a changed perspective on the food they buy. On one level they begin to understand concepts around financial margin and economies of scale and also the complexity and footpr...
More About: Farming
big problems with big boats
2009-04-24 16:23:00
There's something about boats and ships that makes us think of them as non-polluting and relatively harmless things. You don't see many  pressure groups calling for boat emissions to be reduced or a public outcry against container ships. As it turns out, we should perhaps take another look."Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars. Low-grade ship bunker fuel (or fuel oil) has up to 2,000 times the sulphur content of diesel fuel used in US and European automobiles."The Guardian - April 9th- 2009Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Boats , Problems
12 brands likely to vanish
2009-04-22 06:54:00
24/7 Wall Street took a look at 12 brands likely to vanish in the current crisis. There are some venerable names here and brands that in the past have held iconic status and not forgetting, vast ad budgets.Included on the list are: Budget, Borders, Crocs, Saturn, Chrysler, Eddie Bauer, Old Navy, Palm, United Airlines and obviously AIG.Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Brands
better innovation through prizes
2009-04-15 01:07:00
The X-Prize is a truly brilliant idea; establish a challenge and offer a ton of cash for proof of brilliance. Today, they announced together with Wellpoint, that health is the next challenge. "The proposed $10M+ Healthcare X PRIZE is designed to improve health value by more than 50 percent in a community during a three-year trial. A competition around value measures and compares health outcomes against the total cost of care for a community. Health outcomes would be measured by a "community health index," which combines functional health (e.g., reduced sick days, improved ability to climb stairs) and clinical events (e.g., visit to ER, rehospitalization). Total cost would include direct costs incurred across health benefits, payroll (sick and disability pay), coupled with out-of-pocket health care."The X-Prize has established challenges in the fields of energy and transportation, it's just a shame there aren't more organizations like the X-Prize. America is a country of entrepren...
More About: Innovation , Prizes
who is speaking at influx curated? june 11th- san francisco
2009-04-14 19:35:00
We are almost there with our list of amazing speakers.Creatives    Jelly Helm-Studio Jelly    Daniel Burka- Digg    Casey Caplowe- Good MagazineTrend Experts    Marieke Van Der Poel-Peclers Paris    Angel Ciagni- The Intelligence Group- CAAArtists/Actors/Musicians  &n bsp; Gary Hirsch- On Your Feet        Doris Mitch- Photographer    Tucker Nichols-Artist    William Hall- Improv and mask design    Joshua Brody-MusicianMedia Wizards    Jeben Berg - YouTube    Jennifer Pahkla- Web 2.0 ExpoEntrepreneurs    Neil Grimmer-Nest Naturals    Philip Wood-Citizen Citizen    Eileen Hassi- Ritual RoastersWriters/Authors    Alexis Madrigal- Wired    Alex Frankel- Punching InBrand Experts    Paul Kim-Mozilla  &nbs...
More About: San Francisco , June , Speaking , Francisco
detroit to be turned into a farm
2009-04-13 11:59:00
With Detroit fast becoming an urban wasteland, some enterprising businessman has a plan to turn part of the landscape into a farm.According to the press release"Detroit could be the nation's leading example of urban farming and become a destination for fresh, local and natural foods and become a major part of the green movement," said Hantz, a Detroit resident. "Hantz Farm s will transform this area into a viable, beautiful and sustainable area that will serve the community, increase the tax base, create jobs and greatly improve the quality of life in an area that has experienced a severe decline in population." Phase 1 plans utilize more than 70 acres of underutilized vacant lands and abandoned properties on Detroit's lower east side. Hantz Farms plans to grow natural, local, fresh and safe fruits and vegetables to help meet Michigan's increasing demand for locally grown produce. In addition to food and trees, Hantz Farms will harvest wind energy and utilize geothermal heat and...
lessons from kellogg
2009-04-13 11:28:00
Nice piece from James Surowiecki in this weeks' New Yorker on how companies behave in recession. He cites Kellogg as an example of a company that gained ground because of actions taken during the Great Depression."In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies—Kellogg and Post—dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remai...
More About: Lessons
changing the packaging landscape-one bottle at a time
2009-04-10 17:54:00
Scott Amron must be eagerly awaiting the lawyer's letters because his brave enough to push corporate buttons for a good cause. Eager to point out the lack of progress with recycling from some of the bog soap companies, he's taken it upon himself to do it for them. Buying soap in bulk, he then repackages it in old soda bottles and resells it. There's clearly a giant gap in the marketplace for the bulk supplies bring your own packaging retailer. Obviously, there are co-op grocers doing this on a small scale and Whole Foods has a small operation doing this, perhaps it's going to take one of the large discounters to make a leap and do this.It plays straight into the frugality space with American's seemingly doing anything to save a dime, you can easily imagine some of these giant unused shopping malls being turned into food warehouses that allow folks to buy product at a considerable discount and based on a sliding scale that takes the size of your container into account. Those see...
More About: Landscape , Time , Changing , Packaging , Bottle
influx curated- speaker announcement- jeben berg-youtube
2009-04-10 17:24:00
We've added another speaker to the expanding roster at Influx Curated, Jeben Berg . Jeben is currently Creative Director of Cross Platform Solutions for YouTube and Google where he creates the marketing and advertising initiatives. Jeben has been part of YouTube since the Google acquisition, with his prior experience coming from many roles both creative and strategic at advertising agencies such as DraftFCB (formerly Foote Cone Belding), Publicis and Rocketshop. In addition to his work with Google and YouTube, he also contributes editorially to many publications, produces videos for artists and musicians, and paints big public murals. He is a staunch believer in the meritocratic philosophy of YouTube, and that approach is the guiding covenant by which he engages the world.You can read more about Influx Curated and register for the event here.Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Youtube , Speaker , Announcement
the algorithm is making us stupid
2008-06-10 06:46:00
Nick Carr rants in The Atlantic about Google because he fears it's making us all stoopid."I’m haunted by that scene in 2001. What makes it so poignant, and so weird, is the computer’s emotional response to the disassembly of its mind: its despair as one circuit after another goes dark, its childlike pleading with the astronaut—“I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m afraid”—and its final reversion to what can only be called a state of innocence. HAL’s outpouring of feeling contrasts with the emotionlessness that characterizes the human figures in the film, who go about their business with an almost robotic efficiency. Their thoughts and actions feel scripted, as if they’re following the steps of an algorithm. In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understan...
More About: Stupid
media is really creative!!
2008-06-10 05:58:00
There's a war that's been raging for decades over the ownership of creativity inside agencies. The battle has long been dominated by the department with creative in their title, rendering everyone else often seemingly also-rans in the ideas stakes. However, we all know far better than that and in a world driven by ideas, it pays if everyone in the agency can put on a creative hat from time to time. Nice to see Naked taking the issue head on and as a creative media shop hosting its own art show. It's the thinking and the idea that's way better than the art itself, but, of course, that's the point. Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Media , Creative
a draw is as good as a win
2008-06-10 05:50:00
Last night I watched Romania take on France in the European Championship in the "sports bar" in my hotel. Surrounded by seemingly meaningless American sports collectibles (I like the idea of a sports bar- but does it always have to be done in a US style?), there was a lots of vocal support for a Romanian team who defended bravely against the World Cup runners up. American's favorite soccer score 0-0 was the end result and a good one for the Romanians who have it all to do if they are to qualify for the final stages in "The Group of Death", that includes Holland and Italy. Interestingly, Holland did the unthinkable and beat the World Cup champions Italy, something they hadn't done for 30 years.  The conference starts today, so more branding news later. Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Good , Draw
it's booming here in bucharest
2008-06-09 09:46:00
While the US lingers in its economic malaise, here in Romania things are booming. The economy grew an astonishing 8.2% in Q1 of this year and seems to be escaping the impact of the global slowdown. Yesterday, there was a reduction in the price of gas. On the way from the airport, I saw a brand new Ferrari dealership, a sparkling six-month old BMW/MINI dealership, a huge Ikea and one of the largest shopping centers I have ever seen. Romania play France in the European Championship tonight and the Idea Forum conference starts tomorrow. Posted by Ed Cotton
More About: Bucharest
in romania
2008-06-09 05:05:00
I am currently in Bucharest in Romania and will be speaking at the Idea Forum tomorrow.More reporting to follow. Posted by Ed Cotton
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