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It goes without saying that 2012 was a big year for healthcare across the nation. The first of many “deadlines” enacted by the Affordable Care Act legislation passed in October of last year, which kicked off the mandated EMR (electronic medical record) transition across the country. Yet, while that may have a huge impact on the way hospitals and other healthcare centers operate, on the other side of that coin is the consumer and as of right now there doesn’t seem to be any mandate driving people to become more digitally savvy patients. Before skipping to the conclusion that it is up to the government and healthcare system to drive medial innovation, there’s some really interesting free market activity happening that may signal otherwise.

2012 was the year that gave us some of the more fun fitness tracking tools such as Nike+ Running (which I LOVE and use all the time), Fuelband, and Kinect Training. But this year at CES 2013 we got a glimpse at some of the more utilitarian lifestyle devices and applications that will hopefully hit the market soon. So, while 2012 may have been all about digitizing fitness, if we’re lucky, 2013 will be all about digitizing health. While exercise and fitness is important, it could be easily argued that a more valuable tool for the average person would be the ability to track other major health factors in life, such as, what we eat, how much we sleep, and how active we are on a less intense but more consistent basis.

So what cool gadgets were at CES? For starters, the lifestyle company Fitbit demoed the Flex, a wristband that syncs via Bluetooth 4.0 to iOS and Android devices. Flex can track common behaviors such as footsteps and distances traveled (not that different from Nike’s offering), but unlike other tools will also track calories burned and sleeping patterns. Other cool gadgets include the Smart ‘Hapifork’ and ‘Hapispoon’ which are devices used to track eating habits with the intention of making people eat slower. Although, using one’s imagination you can easily see how these tools can also be purposed for more accurately counting calories or tracking eating schedules.

Where might all this institutional and consumer innovation lead us? In my opinion the ideal future would be a place where all of these digitized behaviors and electronic medical records can converge into a singular patient lifestyle account. Think about it, what does you doctor always ask you when going in for routine check-ups? How’s your diet? How often do you exercise? How much sleep are you getting at night? There’s a reason why they ask you these questions, because other than genetics it’s food, exercise and sleep that have the most direct impact on your overall health. Most medical professionals will tell you the single biggest problem facing patient relationships is accuracy and honesty – given my wife is a CNSD (Certified Nutrition Support Dietitian) I’ve heard it hundreds of times over that patients are either unaware of how unhealthy their diet is or will tell you in a heartbeat they have up fried foods years ago, yet are literally sweating grease and have a blood pressure level well into the “about to explode” range.

But, what if we could remove this uncertainty? Just imagine the opportunities data capture, sharing and transparency could create – more empowered and responsible patients, vast improvements in medical research, and stronger physician to patient relationships. I look forward to a day when I walk into a hospital and the nurse simply asks me for my iPhone, after all, what else would she need? Oh, yeah, insurance. Utopian dream deferred.

Evolution of Awesome

What do Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, a big cat, and Mr. T all have in common? If you said abnormally fuzzy knuckles, then yes, you would be correct. But more importantly, they’ve all played a starring role in broadcast’s trendy new format, the extended version television ad. Over the past few months we’ve seen spots from Chrysler, Chipotle, Cartier and Old Navy hit the airwaves in grand form, each with a run time of two minutes or longer.



By now we’re all accustomed to lengthy ads being dropped in the time-shifted digital media system. But that’s because consumer engagement in the digital space, for the most part, is optional. The harsh reality is the Interwebs have a rather natural way of dealing with crappy content; ignore it, allow it to quietly die, and fade into the abyss. This reality has challenged brands to think different and focus on creating awesome content – in other words, stuff that compels one to divert attention from Angelina Jolie leg memes, Pinterest, and blurred clips of the KONY 2012 guy’s salacious meltdown.

But what happens when heightened consumer expectations and the natural selection of awesome cross over from the web and into the broadcast world? Well, we adapt. Or face extinction.

It’s safe to say that competition for attention during TV viewing time has reached a critical mass. With record sales of the new iPad 3, Smartphone penetration crossing the majority threshold, and Ultrabooks hitting the market, co-consumption behaviors will surely continue to increase while attention spans continue to dwindle. So while still in its infancy, it seems as if TV advertising’s attempt to evolve and thrive is coming in the form of these extended ads.

What does this all mean to the ad world? Here’s my two cents – the extended spot format signals broadcast advertising’s past-due acceptance of one simple truth: people want awesome content, awesome advertising is simply a byproduct.

Adapt accordingly.

Found this video floating around on the Internet, more specifically at the Propagation Planning Blog.  It’s one of the few PG rated applications I’ve seen for the mysterious and addictive Chatroulette craze. It makes me wonder about building brand relationships through better experiences, as oppose to content.  I’m just saying.

Yahoo! Gets It


A while back, I wrote post about what I call the human engine and its importance to business and the changing dynamic of consumer power.   However, the see this idea come to fruition in the new Yahoo! campaign is a gratifying validation and it shows that someone there in marketing “gets it.”   But more importantly, it shows that business as a whole is truly beginning to understand that consumer-centric advertising is the basis for generating brand loyalty, consumption and other awesome metrics that go along with relevant and resonant advertising.  I’m beginning to feel that the time has come for other companies to jump on the wagon and have a clear acceptance that in reality, consumers own and define a brand.  That intangible equity is only valuable if the consumer appreciates and connects with a brand’s identity.  It’s insane to not grasp this concept and beneficial to act accordingly.  But, I’m beginning to observe that time is now.  Starting with Yahoo!, and kudos to them for being all about “You” or I guess “Us.”

The brands that will be successful in the future, will understand and accept that the new paradigm is to relinquish control for one’s brand, encourage deep engagement with and ambassadorship for your brand and communications.  So what does this look like?  In a few short lines:

  • Awknowledge the consumer’s influence and invite them to a conversation with your brand, truly listen and respond – advertising is a two-way street IE social strategy.
  • Develop web friendly content, suitable for propagation IE the remix video.
  • Give them something to do or engage with that allows deeper interaction with your brand, which does not necessarily force feed the product IE the transmedia storytelling utilized in the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” campaign.  It’s mostly about the “Man” and his “Truths” but, oh yea, there’s beer too.  Also, Cheetos’ “Orange Underground” – these are both relatively oldies, but goodies!

I realize I’m saying a few words, but in essence this translates into a lot from a executional perspective.  But, I feel it’s truth worth telling and look forward to developing (and witnessing) more campaigns that utilize some of these basic truths.  I’ve also included below a talk by Yahoo!’s CMO, Elisa Steele, which shows some additional creative and gives some brief insight into the thinking behind the new campaign during Advertising Week in New York City.



I had the opportunity to see Jan Chipchase (@janchip) speak at the @PSFK Good Ideas Salon this past thursday evening.  Hosted by JWT at their New York office in Midtown.  Jan is a principal researcher for Nokia, and basically his job is to travel the world and study behavioral patterns of global populations for identification of consumer gaps.

The presentation in which Jan spoke to is that included above.  You won’t find much text in the slides, however, the images tell quite a profound story.  My takeaway from the talk, as a brand strategist, was a more keen appreciation for ethnographic research methodology and data collection.  Jan takes an incredibly deep dive into cultural trends by entrenching himself into the lifestyles and behaviors of people, who normally would be ignored by mainstream business.  Nokia has taken an interest in predicting how their products will fit into growing consumer segments.  In that respect, the fastest growth will be among populations in urbanized areas, especially among the impoverished.

It makes sense that Nokia has the vision to find value in this particular consumer segment.  Most industries and companies believe in the top-down model for product penetration.  Thus, they typically market to consumers of the mid and upper ranges in the socio-economic ladder.  However, it becomes a different story when mobile access is more prevalent than electricity access, and even water access in some areas of the world.

In developed nations the web is seen as the most important of the digital channels for consumer communication.  However, mobile represents a significantly more important and viable platform in nations or urbanized sectors where populations don’t have the means to access the Internet or electricity to even power a computer.  Just as the web is changing the way we socialize, mobile is changing the manner in which billions of people globally connect and communicate.  There’s even a theory, growing in acceptance, that mobile can replace the old method of identifying households – by moving from home address based to mobile address based.

Anyway, have a look and enjoy.

Earn Your Social Media Time


A colleague sent this link to me.  The web page is pictured above.  It’s a simple and transparent thought, but just maybe there’s something more to it.  I believe what this could represent is our online selves becoming a bit too dominant.  Maybe, every now and then we need simple reminders to feed our offline selves something tangible, something natural.  Maybe they’ve figured out something here, and maybe it’s time to circulate more blood and less data?  Or maybe I’m reading too much into this.

You decide.  But first, I think you owe me 5 pushups.

Word Cloud


This is a word cloud.  It’s a creative representation of the most commonly utilized words from a set of text.  That text just so happens to be from a few of the most recent post on my blog, which you are reading now.

I stumbled onto this website, Wordle, that creates “beautiful word clouds” utilizing an algorithm developed by IBM Senior Programmer, Jonathan Feinburg.  It’s fun, interesting and accurate – give it a try.  After creating my word cloud and being quite happy with the resulting image, I became curious as to not only who, but why someone decided to create this site when there are obviously no financial incentives involved.  So upon further reading I found this excerpt under the credits tab for Wordle.com.  Written by the developer, Jonathan, one short paragraph reads:

“I acknowledge my employer, IBM Research, for extending me the extraordinary privilege of using code, which I wrote on their time, for this personal project. While I did develop this web site on my own time, I developed the core algorithms for laying out and displaying words on company time.”

And so this brought me to another relevant thought.  Companies should must afford employees more people time and less company time.  Let’s define people time as the that part of one’s work day that is attributed to independent projects in which the inspirational motivation is from within – the catalyst here is an intrinsic drive to utilize ones talents to create something that is fresh or innovative.  Now lets define company time as work completed to drive a singular organization towards a unified goal for the purpose of enterprise prosperity, otherwise known as revenue, profit and stock price – the catalyst driving this function is financial incentives.

People time is important because it stimulates a greater sense of self worth.  Self worth begets confidence.  Confidence begets action.  Action begets productivity.

Company time is less important because it does not stimulate self worth, however, it breeds company worth thus smothering self worth.  Following the same course of logic as above, you can understand how this is counter productive.  In fact I would declare that a nearly equivalent composition of people time and company time is the better model for motivation, innovation and productivity.

A very interesting case for this is put forth in this TED Talk by Dan Pink.  He has developed a profound argument for the dynamics of motivation and application within enterprise.  For a great example much like the Wordle.com site, skip to 13:50 of the video, since many of your are on company time now and don’t have 20 minutes to view in entirety.  Those who are afforded people time, I encourage you to watch the full talk.



So it’s safe to say that:

  1. motivation is organic and will flourish if provided the proper catalyst
  2. people time is equally important to driving productivity as is company time
  3. innovation is people-centric and business should act accordingly

I believe companies such as IBM understand this concept and live this philosophy.  If you are familiar with IBM ad campaigns, you will also notice it’s a part of their brand DNA.

Your thoughts?