Friday, August 17, 2007

The Everywhen

One of the characteristics of Mystery that fascinates me is the power to connect past, present and future. That’s why I jumped on a terrific word used by anthropologists to encapsulate this idea – the Everywhen. The indigenous people of Australia have their own inspiring way to describe this confluence of time – the all-at-once. It always amazes me how few businesses take an interest in the past as a way to shape their future and inform the present. Most of them behave like sharks: keep moving forward because if you stop, you’ll drown. Connecting with the past, present and future of your customers does not mean doing some data mining and sending them a birthday card. It does mean understanding them in a profound way and having the foresight to do something real and meaningful about it. An outstanding example is the way Prada used the unlikely venue of the Central Market in Valencia for their America’s Cup party. They left intact much of the Market’s everyday functions and simply added a few of their products among the salami and cheeses, as well as party pleasing DJs and dining tables. In this way they captured the elegance and sensuality of the market and wrapped it up as a wonderful surprise for their guests. Intuitive combinations can be very powerful. Prada turbans and Parma ham may not be what logic dictates, but this is the way we live. Families keep their family photo albums alongside today’s newspaper and brochures for next year’s holiday. We live our lives in the everywhen, and businesses, if they are to attract us, need to understand it.


Susan956 said...

Novel hearing something from another perspective. I would use 'dreamtime' or 'dreaming' rather than all-at-once to describe the blending of past, the now and the future. All-at-once would make better sense for most and particularly in terms of the activities you've discussed. All-at-once draws upon the concept of village/community raised here in earlier topics and yet provides a modern transparency (material transparency) to overlay the same.

The present makes greater sense when the past is drawn in - I dare say historians have known this for a long time. I wonder what the Valencians - the market people - made of the celebration :)

Susan956 said...

The concept of old world graciousness and manners just came to mind. How much are these issues influential on the seeking of village? How much does knowledge sharing - being able to seek information and to offer information, also come into play?

I love Dorothy Sayers and the Lord Peter Wimsey books and in part I enjoy them because I am transported back to a sense of language elegance as well as attention re manners.

So when you mentioned market and salami and cheeses I thought (without being conscious of it initially) of 'known' - sellers who know you and who will call out and draw you to them and who let you know they have just got in a special cheese that they know you love..and so on.

Larger businesses could do this but they don't. They will rely on that single birthday card per year which, whilst perhaps appreciated at a level, isn't enough. I think most of us appreciate being thought of on a more regular basis and being dealt with in terms of graciousness. Some businesses offer with one hand and remove with the other.

One KRConnect reader - Tony - has a n apropos article on his blog re what price for loyalty and the form of insult delivered when a business to whom you subscribe regularly as a purchaser, suddenly expects you to pay for the card which is actually set up to thank you for being a regular client! Now that to me is a poor poor business tactic and is the antithesis of gracious:

Tony said...

What a great concept.

I find it hard to relate to the work/life balance concept that seems to be a buzz phrase for many.

For me work is part of my life. It is part of me and I don't seperate it from who I am. First I am a husband, father, business development manager, friend, golfer, brother, son, etc...

Maybe I am Everywhen?

Kempton said...

Love the composite photo for Everywhen.

Thanks for the idea of an interesting imagery of Prada products mixing with salami and cheeses. (smile) Kevin, I will take your word that they blend well and "captured the elegance and sensuality of the market". Would love to see how was this executed and the look and feel of it.

As an aside, if this campaign was to be executed in Hong Kong, I kinda doubt the brand-crazed Hong Kong ladies and gentlemen would get the intended meaning of this all. I will leave my commentary of Hong Kongers' blind love and worship of expensive brands plus my critique of HK ladies using expensive handbags as a replacement for self-confidence for another day.

Susan956 said...

tony..there has been some great critiques of work/life balance with some suggesting it is more a myth than anything else. I look at it simply in the sense that if I can work generally from home with limited time in an actual office space I am a happy camper in terms of balance.

If you draw in all those roles you mention and write from those many positions and accept the multiple viewpoints influence, you could be an autoethnographer. :)

the paper bicycle; Peter Scarks said...

Lovemarks has always been about something built on narrative and emotion for me. the idea of everywhen goes further to that being true. For the most part, there is an inaccessibility to the past of things that is often tragic and shows the flaws in any business. I love those companies that display their products in their offices so that conversations and decisions are always within the context of tangible history.

Christina said...

The "everywhen" concept is beautiful but to use this word to characterize Prada's occupation/colonization of the Valencia market seems like a stretch. To me Prada's awkward insertion pollutes the integrity of the market rather than "capturing the elegance and sensuality of the market". Of course, I wasn't there and didn't see the execution, but I'll wager that the people who work at the market saw the whole thing as indignified/embarrassing.

Susan956 said...

christina.. Interesting point and I admit at the time of reading the post that idea did echo across the back of my mind. As you suggest, the execution would have been important. Did it simply just 'plop' an event into a space or indeed, did it work to integrate, and not just integrate with the space but with the market people themselves: were they drawn in as a vital element of the process.

Of course rather than seeing the whole thing as undignified, the people may have been simply bemused or even bothered their own customers may have been pushed out. But I can imagine many scenarios of bemusement. I read an article about a 'high' society event at Finger Wharf in Sydney @ 2000 and one society female saying something loudly about a male being taken through security. If what was reported was accurate and I had been present I would have felt a mixture of amusement and disdain; certainly a separation from the rudeness of someone thinking they are all that and a bag o, and yet treating another person in public in a demeaning manner.

If however I had observed what I considered to be true class - and often for me that is no more than intelligent wit meshed with superb grace - I would have looked on with a kind of detached quasi enjoyment.

Glad you raised this. Clever integration would have been wonderful and let's hope/trust? it was that.