Monday, April 30, 2007

Bidding For Art At Christie’s

It’s Spring in New York and to me that means art auction time. I have always loved the excitement and theater of auctions and no one does it better than the great art auction houses. On 2 and 3 May Christie’s will hold one of their spectacular contemporary art auctions and I am hoping to add a couple of pieces to my collection. Like many people who have a passion for art, I don’t trust myself to bid personally. Although we all like to think that our purchase decisions are rational, it has been proved too many times to ignore that most of them are in fact inspired by emotion. Nowhere is this more true than in the auction room. Jane Sutherland, who looks after my collection, will bid on my behalf. What am I interested in? I think I’ll keep that under wraps for now, but the artists who have stars next to their names are Andy Warhol and Dan Flavin. The great thing about New York is that you can get access, through these art auctions, to the heart of much contemporary work from the 1960s and 1970s onwards. While there are not many bargains to be had in the current white-hot art market, great things do become available. If you can remain emotionally relaxed and focused on the art and its price, you can do well for yourself. The trick is not to get lost in the competitive battle to win a bidding war. On the other hand, I really do want the Flavin.

Friday, April 27, 2007

To London And Back On The Eurostar

Traveling by air in Europe is not quite as bad as the domestic pain involved in U.S. air travel, but it’s up there. That’s why over recent years, the Eurostar has become a Lovemark to me. The last time I had meetings in London, I traveled from Paris and back on the Eurostar, returning the same day. It’s two-and-a-half hours each way and you get to leave from the center of Paris and arrive in the center of London. The experience is completely hassle-free, friendly, comfortable and productive. Low key, low stress and high enjoyment. You can make phone calls, work, read the papers, listen to your iPod or have a business meeting with a colleague. There are no luggage delays, no weather delays, no traffic delays, no getting to and from out-of-town airports. Now that’s pure joy. And there is something about train travel that takes you back to more relaxed times, which I really love. I’m in Paris frequently, as it is the headquarters of our parent company Publicis. Eurostar is by far the best way to leave and return, rested and ready to enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As daily living becomes more frantic and time more precious, Lovemarks will be the brands that understand how to create experiences that give us back time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Challenge Facing New Zealand Rugby

When I was in Wellington a couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Steve Tew, the CEO designate of New Zealand Rugby Union. He’s an impressive guy, whose reputation continues to grow both in New Zealand and on the world scene. Steve will take over the reins after the World Cup when Chris Moller stands down. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jock Hobbs stand down too and focus on the 2011 World Cup - so there will be a complete change at the top of New Zealand Rugby. To people in New Zealand, this is arguably more important than a change in government. Over the past five years, the NZRU have led the world and developed the game while still keeping connected to the grass roots. Further, driven by strong leadership at the top and great performance on the field by the All Blacks and Crusaders in particular, the Union has thrived commercially and in its reputation.

Critical things that make New Zealand Rugby the force it is in the world today are:

• On field performance by the All Blacks.
• The legacy of the All Black reputation and character.
• Our progressive willingness to embrace change.
• Strong leadership on and off the field.

Rugby football has been professional for just over a decade and now we are facing a major cluster of change. Southern Hemisphere versus Northern Hemisphere; club versus country; player burnout; French/English clubs poaching New Zealand players, and spectator apathy toward existing competitions.

In 1948, Cliff Gladwin, a Derbyshire medium pace bowler, was playing cricket for England. England were (as usual) in dire circumstances. As he trekked to the wicket, Cliff said to the South Africans waiting on the field, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man”. England won. Steve Tew. Over to you.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Being Jeff Bridges

Since I began this blog people have been sending me blogs and websites they like and love. The quality they share that jumps out at me is personality and imagination. Top of my list has got to be the wonderful website written, or should I say created, by actor Jeff Bridges. As a long-time fan of the Dude and every other aspect of that great film The Big Lebowski, I always enjoy watching him on screen but his site is something else. A whirlwind of creativity and imagination just begins to describe it. Jeff obviously told the technical people that the only way he would do it was his way, and that is what he has done. Words scrawled across pages, set in albums, encrusted with whimsical drawings. It’s fun, entertaining and an incredible insight into Bridges’ life and work. Check it out. He is about to begin filming The Iron Man and you can go along for the ride. Jeff Bridges' site is the essence of authenticity.

Tags: ,


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Talking To The Women Presidents’ Organization

Last week I talked with the Women Presidents’ Organization. The WPO is a national forum in the U.S. for women who are leaders. Many of them own their own companies. All of them are smart, determined, inspirational and connected. We met up in Scottsdale, Arizona which is a great town. Amazing climate, the home of serious golf mania, and the location of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. There’s a great NY connection for me here because Taliesin is where he designed my Lovemark - the Guggenheim museum. Having nailed 20th century architecture, maybe Scottsdale should step up to the 21st century and entice the world’s top woman architect Zaha Hadid to do something amazing in their city.

In many ways, that level of radical challenge was the theme of my talk to the WPO. I called it “Heartbeat.” You’d have to have been asleep not to know that women control most consumer spending decisions worldwide. I even quoted the Financial Times: “Forget China, India and even new technologies – for the past 10 years the number one vector for global growth has been women.” All this adds up to the simple fact that women are driving a major shift in the economy. Women are the ones creating the Attraction Economy. Attract women and your business is on its way. Take the old cliché that women are attracted by pink. Whether that’s true or not I couldn’t say for sure. The Wall Street Journal (inevitably) calculated that the price of non-vintage rose champagne is 15 to 20 percent higher than non-vintage white. Then to confound the female clichés, Advertising Age discovered that for women aged 55 to 64 their second favorite leisure activity was – playing online games. Their favorite was watching TV. Yes, women are a paradox. Thank goodness.

Tags:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Podcasting

It’s hard to believe that the term podcast is just over three years old. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a huge iPod fan, so being able to download radio shows and interviews to listen to on an iPod in the car or on a plane is terrific. It really is consumer power at its best: listening to what I want when I want, and not when some programmer thinks I should. And, when I can put a few spare minutes together, I also get a kick out of participating in podcasts. They seem to me to be the perfect way to get ideas and conversations out there fast. That's how I did this podcast with Eric Friedman and Lee Jones of Marketing.fm. They contacted me, we talked, and the whole thing was done. Easy and fun. Heard today, archived tomorrow.

This podcast is a rundown on how we developed Lovemarks, where we’re going with Saatchi & Saatchi, a rap on the future of television and some ideas on insight and foresight.



Tags: ,

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Flying With Air New Zealand

I often fly to New Zealand from Los Angeles and a greater contrast could hardly be imagined than that between L.A. in California and Auckland, New Zealand. For all of you who have to travel through U.S. airports nowadays, you’ll know the experience is no longer one of intimacy and joy. It is highly stressful with everyone struggling to cope with increased security measures, overloading, overcrowding, delayed flights and outbreaks of passenger rage. Then there is the airport itself as an increasingly tacky shopping mall with lousy customer service. That is what you get unless, of course, you are lucky enough to be flying Air New Zealand. Or, even luckier, flying their new premium Business Class.

For a start the airport lounge has been revamped to reflect the relaxed friendliness of true New Zealand home comforts. It serves real New Zealand food, not the usual plastic airport stuff, and showcases New Zealand wines and beers. There’s also a great range of the latest New Zealand, Australian, and U.K. newspapers, which are almost impossible to find in the U.S. From the lounge on, the experience simply gets better. I once told someone flying Air New Zealand to Auckland was like getting home 14 hours earlier. It’s truer now than it ever was.

I love the way the crew manages to create an intimate atmosphere that makes the cabin more like home than hotel. They also know how to have a bit of fun. On a flight a couple of Fridays back I was greeted by a crew member who asked me if I was coming back to promote my book The Lovemarks Effect or to stir up some other sort of trouble. Then the guy in the seat behind me said he had read an article of mine a decade ago called “How to Kill a Company” and asked how was I doing with it. A young woman opposite asked if I was still teaching at Cambridge. It turned out she’d been an MBA student there two years ago and was now working for Lloyd Morrison, one of New Zealand’s edgiest entrepreneurs. And the food? Perfect. It tasted as if your mum cooked it, not some anonymous airline caterer. Even better, I can assure you the new flat beds in Business Class are among the best in the world. To top my evening off, the selection of movies was fantastic. Instead of the usual middle-of-the road international mind-numbers you deliberately missed in theaters, you could choose from the sort of films you actually wanted to see.

Ralph Norris did a fantastic job turning Air New Zealand around and, luckily for us, most of the crews stuck out the bad times and are still enjoying the job. Now Rob Fyfe seems to be carrying the legacy forward. Thank goodness for all of them.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Taste Of Morocco

In the late 1970s I spent a couple of very happy years in Casablanca, Morocco. My eldest son Ben was born there, with me 600 miles away in Oujda, in the far north. It was a hair raising trip back, I can tell you. I was working for Procter & Gamble and lived in Oasis, an area where we were the only foreigners. Since that time I’ve loved Moroccan food, and particularly what is virtually the national dish tajine. I love the spices (cumin always), the tabbouleh, the hummus, the aubergine and the flat bread and I love the way fantastic regional variations of tajine have evolved throughout Morocco. Now of course this intensely local food is being embraced by the rest of the world and you can experience it in most major world cities. Chez Es Saada was a great Moroccan experience in NY (it has now sadly closed) but Pasha in London continues to capture the rose petals and the romance. In Paris the view from Le Ziryab on the rooftop of Jean Nouvel’s beautiful Arab World Institute is spectacular and I can tell you the quail bastila is a delight. While you are in Paris don’t miss out on the mysteriously named bar, Andy Wahloo. Wahloo means “nothing” – or “I don’t have anything” - in Arabic and it’s a name that suggests the exact opposite of what this bar offers. It’s a fantastic place with great Moroccan pop art, terrific Arabic music, ice cold Casablanca beer and chilled Moroccan rosé.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Sally de Rose

How do you respond when someone who has made a priceless contribution decides to retire? For Sally de Rose we selected 100 pink roses and tied to each a note from one of the people she has touched.

Sally was our go-to person for the world. A true and inspired connector. As the head of our I-Site Central team she was the glue that kept the Network together. Having trouble finding some information? We’d call Sally. Don’t know what’s going on in Costa Rica? Sally could put you in touch with the right person on the spot. Want to share a creative idea with the Network? Sally would help unleash and spread your idea.

The pink-themed farewell party at Charlotte Street in London was stylish, fun and moving. As sorry as we all are to see her go, we know someone like Sally has a fantastic journey ahead. Connecting by computers, broadband and cell phones is irreplaceable. Connecting with the inspiration of Sally de Rose – irresistible.

Love List #1

There’s nothing better than a list. I write them all the time, sorting out experiences, prioritizing things to do, reviewing what’s been achieved and putting experiences together. Here’s a list I wrote on a flight across the Pacific. The question was: what are ten things that make you say, “I love you.”

1: The Bvlgari Hotel in Milan. An unbeatable immersion in sensorial experience.

2: Benesse House on the Japanese Island of Naoshima. The museum attached to this incredible hotel has one of American artist James Turrell’s greatest sky works. A seriously hard place to get to but worth every local train and bus ride.

3: Moss in New York City, the best design store in the world which offers a great daily email reminder of ‘extraordinarily fabulous items.’ Subscribe now to The Daily New sent on every day that doesn’t start with “S”.

4: Dongtan eco-city in China. Welcome to the world’s first purpose-built sustainable cosmopolis.

5: The statue of Bruce Lee in Mostar, Bosnia. "We will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats," Veselin Gatalo of a youth group told the BBC, "But one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee." A must-see.

6: Miss Sixty Hotel in Riccione, Northern Italy. A different artist decorated each of the 39 rooms: creative chaos.

7: The Woo Bar in the W Seoul. Try it.

8: Walking the Milford Track in New Zealand. Simply the best escape from urban concrete on the planet.

9: Michael’s Nook Cottage in Grasmere. My haven, and ‘back to my roots’ new home in the heart of England’s Lake District.

10: Blanc Bleu. Headquartered in St Tropez, this has got to be the most authentic casual ocean fashion on earth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Hemingway Bar

It’s said that 63 years ago, Ernest Hemingway rode down the Champs-Elysées in the turret of an American tank and “liberated” the bar at the Ritz Hotel. In memory of this great event is the Hemingway Bar, tucked away on the Rue Cambon side of the hotel, and one of the world’s great watering holes. Colin Field is the outstanding barman who presides over the Hemingway with aplomb. Every cocktail or glass of champagne is served with an exotic orchid or other beautiful flower, and the Heineken is always chilled to perfection. Fluent in English and French, Colin has written a great book called The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris.

A few months ago, after a great victory in Paris, I was joined in the Hemingway Bar by Sean Fitzpatrick, Murray Mexted, Gary Whetton and Earl Kirton. We were joined by a few other notable All Blacks and a couple of my old school mates, Dave Bennetts and Phillip Sycamore. Dave and Philip are now both deeply involved in the legal profession, on the right side of the law, as it happens. Benny is a solicitor and Phillip a high court judge. No one would ever have picked this outcome at school in Lancashire where both of them were more well-known for their antics at the Broadway Hotel and Floral Hall in Morecombe. We closed the bar around 3:00am and did our best to move forward l’Entente cordiale. The French love their rugby, and for them the pinnacle is to beat the All Blacks. It all looks promising for a huge Hemingway Bar party on October 20 when the final Rugby World Cup 2007 should see the All Blacks and Les Bleus on the Stade de France that evening. As it is also my birthday, I’m hoping for a double celebration with an All Black victory. Whoever wins, it will be a night to remember in Paris.

Lance Armstrong’s Right Hand - Bill Stapleton

Since I heard the news that one of my close friends has cancer, I have worn one of the yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands the Lance Armstrong Foundation produces. This brilliant idea to show your solidarity with those affected by cancer has turned out to be one of the greatest fund-raising ideas ever. More than 60 million have sold since 2004. You can join the movement: 100 bands for $100. The simple message “live strong” is a true inspiration expressing the same spirit as the ancient New Zealand Maori expression: “Kia Kaha” – Stand Strong.

To Stand Strong against the odds brings me to my friend Bill Stapleton. Bill has been Lance Armstrong’s agent since 1995 and is a man of ferocious loyalties. When others stepped away as soon as Lance was diagnosed with cancer and expected never to ride again in 1996, Bill stepped up. He left his legal partnership in Austin and steadfastly supported Lance and LIVESTRONG. Bill and I have discussed how LIVESTRONG could transform into a Lovemark that would live on when even the greats like Nike had become a memory. I certainly believe the potential is there because every day I see evidence that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. I am keen to continue this conversation with Bill, who is not only passionate and smart. For a start, he was smart enough to marry a bright optimistic and energetic bon vivant – hello Patty. Bill also has a great sense of humor. He told me he had a tank of live piranhas in his Austin office. Not bad self awareness for a lawyer!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Campana At Camper

The new Camper store in Berlin is the real deal. It’s been put together by two of my favorite designers, the Campana Brothers, who were introduced to me by Bob Isherwood, our WW Creative Director, who has a couple of their chairs. The Camper shop walls are built from layers and layers of very colorful high impact posters. Nothing surprising yet, but wait for this… Customers are invited to tear the layers and rip them down constantly revitalizing the look with each new layer. Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy all in one touch. The art is temporary; so is the store but the brothers are working on a breakthrough design for a more permanent installation. And the shoes, of course, are sustainably fun. I’m a big fan of deconstruction, as anyone who has visited Saatchi & Saatchi New York’s 16, 17 and 18 floors can tell. But this is the first time I’ve seen consumer deconstruction encouraged in the retail environment.

And three other quick retail experiences not to be missed. The Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colorado is the perfect place to spend a snowy, wintry Sunday evening. Nigel Melville, ex captain of England and now the CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, was caught in there a couple of Sunday’s back, Starbucks in hand and a bunch of books at his side. Cozy, warm, friendly, eclectic. In direct contrast to Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, which has opened up just opposite the Adidas old school store in New York Soho. Young, fun, bubbly, colorful, Heart inspired designs for young at heart. Livens up New York downtown black. And, finally, Hermes at 24 rue du Faubourg in Paris is the ultimate, high end sensual experience. Scarves, fashion, furniture, jewelry all relating back to Hermes horse routes yet pointing to a new vibrant, exciting future. Worth going in just for the great smells of my favorite perfume 24 Faubourg.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virtual Vonnegut

Shortly after posting my piece on Kurt Vonnegut’s death, a friend sent this remarkable sisomo experience from Second Life. This incredible virtual world has got to be the perfect setting for a visionary like Vonnegut. Enjoy this youthful avatar of the great writer in what must have been one of his last interviews.


Kurt Vonnegut

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
perhaps
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
“It is done.”
People did not like it here.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote this Requiem two years ago. He was my idol in the 1960s and he died last week. I bored 16 year old Girls Grammar School students with endless quotations at Ed's coffee bar in Lancaster - every night. Very existentialist (Not!). His great novel, Slaughterhouse-Five is not to be missed. The man spent his life on The Edge. So it goes.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Visionaire Toys

The people at Visionaire are Mystery magicians. Just look at the image above for a demonstration! All questions, no answers. We featured this amazing publication disguised as a limited edition book in Lovemarks: The Future beyond Brands. They had just published their love issue and since then have dug into smell and taste, and of course magic, so they are experienced Lovemarks adventurers. They have now issued a special edition to celebrate their 50th issue. Ten toys transformed by ten cult artists including Alex Katz; English sculptors Tim Noble & Sue Webster, video artist Tony Oursler, Rob Pruitt and the ubiquitous Robert Crumb. Playtime in Lovemarks land.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Praise Of Cities

As someone who lives in New York and Auckland, I spend most of my time in cities. A lot of you live the same experience. Half the world’s people now live in cities - often big cities. There are 428 metro areas on the planet with more than a million inhabitants. The top 10 of that 428 are Tokyo, Mexico City, Seoul, New York, São Paulo, Mumbai, Delhi, Los Angeles, Jakarta, and Osaka.

The city is one of the big organizing ideas of the 21st century. It’s turning into such a big idea that countries are being sidelined by the mega-trend of urbanization. I live in New York, not the United States. China for many of us is Shanghai’s hinterland – since 1992, foreigners have invested over $100 billion in the city.

Look at Singapore where a disciplined approach and ambition brings global results for a tiny island nation. At Bilbao in Spain. A dying port town until it had the dream of becoming an international art center through Frank Gehry and the Guggenheim. Dubai where no dream is too huge and where nothing succeeds like excess.

Last week, I was talking to the people who run Wellington. This is a small city on a beautiful harbour in New Zealand. The capital of the country, it is considered by many to be one of the best places in the world to get a great cup of coffee - I kid you not! The city is headed by a very sassy mayor, Kerry Prendergast. Kerry is a radical optimist. Smart and lively, she is determined to make Wellington a Lovemark. Everywhere.

Kerry had asked me to talk about how a city so far from the centre could make an international splash. My message was to remember that most great ideas come from the Edge – and that was certainly where they were! I challenged them: are your goals big enough? Wellington may top ‘contentedness’ in lifestyle surveys, but what did the city dream of becoming? Without big shared dreams, cities (like people and organizations) are stuck in the status quo. In the early 1990s, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellington came up with the idea ‘Absolutely, Positively Wellington’ for the city. The idea was embraced by businesses and citizens alike and became a tremendous source of pride and optimism. It still captures exactly the attitude Wellington and any other city needs if it wants to be loved.

I love cities, love the bustle, love the way they force you to rub shoulders with people of all shapes and sizes. The countryside is fine but there is only so long you can go without a good cup of coffee.


ABOVE: Video coverage of presentation to Wellington City Council (4 April 2007)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Listening To Bryan Ferry’s Dylanesque

Eric Nicoli the CEO of EMI Group knows the way to my heart. A few weeks ago he gave me a copy of Bryan Ferry’s album Dylanesque. It is a love story in the form of 11 covers of great Dylan songs. Ferry has never met Dylan and even admitted that he originally didn’t like his sound! What I like most about Ferry’s new album is that while the tracks are all covers, they are not imitations. This is probably something to do with Bryan Ferry’s love of jazz. The best of the songs pay tribute and find their own way around the words and music. Ferry has covered Dylan before in single tracks, but this is a serious tribute that infuses Ferry’s own responses with the Lovemark that is Bob Dylan. My two favorite tracks from the album? "Make You Feel My Love" and "Positively 4th Street”. And Eric seems to know the way to the hearts of all music lovers. He recently announced that EMI will now offer its digital catalog on iTunes without DRM protection. As people like their music without DRM (some tests say the ratio is 10:1) the consumer has just got more control. Kick back and load Dylanesque on your iPod. It’s waiting for you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Billy Apple

For many years I have been a passionate fan and collector of the New Zealand artist Billy Apple. He is a fascinating man with an imagination that comes from far, far left field. In the mid-seventies, Billy was one of a small number of artists to develop what now known as conceptual art. One of the best ideas he had was as a young artist in London: he changed his name from Barrie Bates to Billy Apple as a conceptual art work. A smart move in art terms but a brilliant one in memorability stakes.

As Billy Apple he showed in Europe and the United States, and somehow put in time to become a highly awarded designer in New York. He now lives in Auckland. I have a number of Billy's paintings and we are helping out with a new project that involves the naming of the (yes) Billy Apple. I'm talking about an apple called ... Billy Apple. As I say, his imagination is out there.

Working in an industry that lives and dies on its ability to come up with creative ideas, people like Billy are a true inspiration. A large exhibition looking at all stages of his art career is in the planning. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Interactive Lexus Experience



Attention and attraction live in very different worlds. A recent Lexus project from Team One in three locations – New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – neatly demonstrates how. The idea was to focus on the safety features of the Lexus RX 350. An attention seeker would focus on car after car appearing to crash through a storefront window. This Lexus experience, produced by Monster Media, heads to attraction because it is interactive. The effect is triggered by people walking past the window (except in LA because no one ever walks there). As the accident ‘unwinds’ in front of them, the viewers get it: the best accidents are the ones that don’t happen.

Tags: ,

Friday, April 6, 2007

In Praise Of Clients – Trelise Cooper

Architects will always tell you that great buildings need great clients. It’s the same in our business. A perfect example came out of a meeting our Worldwide Director of Design, Derek Lockwood, had with New Zealand fashion designer Trelise Cooper. Trelise wanted to create a destination fashion store for young girls. Her brief: “I want a kid’s store!” It was that simple, and that inspirational. Derek worked with Trelise to create a world of imagination fit for little girls and fairies. In this place the kids control the experience. That’s why the furniture is scaled down and the clothes displayed at kid’s-eye level. When you are next in Auckland check out Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy in action. Even if you don’t have a young daughter, you will find the experience enchanting.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Consumer Questions At McKinsey

When I was in Europe last month I got to speak to a very senior group of packaged goods people in Lausanne, Switzerland. The management consulting firm McKinsey had arranged the event to discuss what is very much top of mind in Europe: how to ignite growth. A tough issue. Historically, European business has been more comfortable with process diagrams and metrics than consumer desire. No wonder there is serious angst for a lot of businesses today as consumers take control. A.G. Lafley said recently that it's time for marketers to ‘let go.’ He added that "Consumers are beginning, in a very real sense, to own our brands and participate in their creation”. This is radical stuff for most manufacturers who are convinced they own their brands and that they know best what to do with them.

At the McKinsey meeting I posed six questions consumers have for brands.

1. How can I buy stuff and feel good about it? The pressures on manufacturers to be eco-friendly are intense and they’re not letting up. Serious attempts at being eco-friendly are rewarded, anything that smacks of ‘greenwashing’ is quickly uncovered and dismissed. Anything that shows you are indifferent is just as quickly dealt with.

2. Why does choosing have to take up so much of my time and attention? The Economist tells us that two-thirds of consumers feel constantly bombarded. Bombardment is a twentieth century idea. Connectors will ignite growth in the twenty-first century.

3. What can you offer me beyond price? Wal-Mart’s shift in focus from “Always Low Prices” to “Saving people money so they can live better lives” is huge. It’s smart, forward-looking and brave. As competition makes price a table-stake, manufacturers have to transform themselves if they are to grow.

4. What do you really know about me – and what do I know about you? The human thirst for authenticity is intense. It is pushing brands far beyond their comfort zones of smart market segmentation and savvy PR. People talking to people. That’s where we are headed.

5. What have we got to talk about? This is where it gets personal. A lot of brands have nothing interesting to say. They can talk about themselves and be the bores we all avoid, or they can work hard to become the relevant, fun, connected friends we want.

6. Can you keep up with me? This is where it gets tough, fast and tactical. Consumers are way ahead and they never stop pushing. Cool stores, new games, the latest mobile functions. If they can dream it, brands have to try to do it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Turn Your Life Around

Turn Your Life Around - Four words that have meant a lot in my life when they are shortened to TYLA. This remarkable programme was started back in 1996. The idea was to help kids at risk make positive choices for themselves by giving them the right support, the right mentoring and the right opportunities. The New Zealand Police were involved from the start – the kids selected for the programme really are at serious risk – and this partnership still drives the organization. We all know how easy it is to make the wrong choices when we are young. For most of us there are family and friends to get us back on track, but what happens to the people who are on their own? That’s where TYLA steps in with camps and mentoring, challenges and values, long-term advice and support. While in New Zealand this week, I was honored by the Rotary Club of Auckland with a Paul Harris Award. Rotary were there with financial support at the very beginning when TYLA was an untried idea, so it was fantastic to be at this event to accept the Award on the behalf of the whole TYLA team.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Real Groovy Music

Whilst the music business goes through incredible turmoil, I’ve recently visited two of my favorite independent music outlets, Real Groovy in Auckland and Aquarius Records in San Francisco. My younger son Dan writes record reviews for Real Groovy’s magazine and keeps me in the loop. They have a tremendous collection of CDs, vinyl, DVDs, and keep a great collection of the latest New Zealand bands, although it is hard to get sixties stuff and the more currently offbeat. Still, they have a great attitude and are totally customer-centric. If you live in or are visiting any of New Zealand's main cities, it’s a great place to while away a winter evening or a Sunday afternoon.

And then there’s Aquarius, a real blast from the past. It’s situated right at the end of the Haight-Ashbury, and if they don’t have what you’re after, then it’s not worth listening to. This is the best store I’ve been in for discovery and exploration. Aquarius brings you everything that is hip, offbeat, crazy and fun, and have been doing so for almost four decades. They have a great range of US material but also amazing sounds from kids who produce their own music in their homes in Africa, Scandinavia, Asia. The staff-written reviews remind me of New Musical Express in their sixties heyday. Informative, stimulating and designed to introduce you to cool stuff you’ve never even heard of. Both these stores throb with authenticity and a genuine love for new and old music - and both are must go-sees.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Lexus Chocolatier

Thanks Kempton - for asking for this video of Master Chocolatier, Pierre Marcolini - it's a personal favorite. It was made as part of Team One's work with Lexus. As the wonderful Monsieur Marcolini says, “What’s extraordinary with chocolate is the emotional experience."