cars, cars, cars

the year kicks off with the detroit motor show. “the future is here,” they tell us. must be, when the self-driving cars of the future are suddenly of the now. looking forward to seeing what’s next in the luxury and electric markets (are they even separate anymore?), how the ford skedaddle plays out, and what the european shows will bring. in fact, january in detroit is an excellent place to plan the dream road trip… shanghai in april, late summer in moscow, frankfurt and paris in the fall…

now what?

most brands that i work with put a fair amount of investment into reaching their audience through social media. but the nation is tired. in a USAToday article Jon Swartz reported that “The abrupt decision to turn off the social media spigot of news — 62% of U.S. adults get their news from it, says the Pew Research Center — as well other media that covered the polarizing election resembles reactions people have after a car crash or assault.”

fomo becomes lma (leave me alone).

the wise brand pays attention.

hope is power

i had planned on writing about the role of a transition team today, the team that comes in to lead the first phase of a large scale change. i’ve been on many.

instead i’m remembering a project that hal and i created at the very beginning of our careers. ‘hope is power’ for amnesty international.

hope is power.

hope is a feeling, a force that helps you stay with what you value over what you fear. a focus on your vision of the possible through adversity and challenge. hope is a fierce strength, and an extraordinary tonic.  i’ll look for the project and post it here. i’m grateful to have a task at the moment. hope is power. i know it’s there. somewhere.


if you follow an exhale all the way to the end, you’ll notice a moment, a space, where you are neither breathing in nor breathing out.

this suspension of breath lasts no more than a millisecond, and then you’re either holding your breath or inhaling once again.

this millisecond of space also exists in the moment between the mapping and the implementing of change. you’ve done everything you can to plan for the best possible outcome. on the other side of this moment you begin the doing.

deep breath. go.

[x] as a pillar of change

for the last two years i’ve been writing about how everything changes, all the time.

there are also things that will seemingly never change. at least not often or easily. this unyielding or stubborn reality — i call it ‘property x’ — exists in our personal lives and our work, our organizations and our families. it seemingly stymies progress, neutralizes genius, tanks relationships or takes the sparkle off the most brilliant of plans.

it is, at best, inconvenient. at worst, horrifically impossible.

property x is different than the 800 lb gorilla — the thing in life that everybody knows but no one talks about. property x is different because it’s not that you don’t quite deal with it, it’s that you can’t.

property x is that thing that isn’t going to change. you have no control over property x, only in how you work with or around it.

what immovable behemoth (x) stands between you and your vision of success? having identified it as such, how could you work with it, or step into a current of change that flows around it?

500 winner alexander rossi

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what defines a legend.

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indycar. what defines a legend

this year marked the historic 100th running of the indy 500. racing’s greatest spectacle is the stuff of legends with all its speed, obsession, glory and heroes.

what defines a legend is the third in a series of campaigns designed to get the hearts of casual and avid fans racing again.

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in 2014 jw reignited the indycar swagger with their rivals campaign, calling on the appeal of indy’s many legends and the thrilling competition born of their excellence. this year’s campaign highlighted indy’s rising stars, the young guns on the heels of living legends like scott dixon and helio castroneves, all with their eye on the prize: the immortality promised by a win in this milestone year.

today #indyrivals still fuels a robust social conversation and has provided indycar and its partners a way to connect with the next generation of diehard racing fans: tech-leaning millennials.

this year was one to celebrate the rich past, present and future of indycar, to usher in the next 100 years of racing. and now we look to when, exactly, next begins.

you can see a strong, powerful brand for who it is before being told — by of how it behaves.

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the grid and sonic template provided a quirky playground: adhere to some very rigid rules and break what you want inside the box. a solid acoustic personality plus visual and audio artifacts emphasize the fly and witty. they’re playing along in the pop game.

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we uncovered a miracle relationship between the math of the 16x9 grid and a 16 bar musical timing. if everything is consistent to that time signature it’s consistent to the brand. the result: knowable in an instant.

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“packed for travel” the square behaves according to the new rules of screen agnostics: it lives on all screens, wherever its fans are.

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bbc america rebrand

cable tv is on the frontline of the rapidly changing media landscape.

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in order to thrive, cable networks need to evolve. as the distribution model of the last several decades is turned upside down, part of this evolution is learning what behavioral traditions need to be adapted and which overthrown.

as part of the revolution, identifying and leveraging what makes a network attractive is key. as an example, when hal and i lead the jaguar cars brand turnaround for euro/rscg, we pushed all creative decisions through the filter of an S.P.S factor. if a communication didn’t enhance the brand’s sex, power, or status, we didn’t do it. prioritizing the S.P.S took the brand from old, bald, and boring to Gorgeous.

our task on bbca was to make the brand present and relevant in culture, and so we went about identifying the equivalent of an S.P.S factor for the network. what was their sexy attractor?of course the sexiest attractor a tv network can have is great shows. bbc america has that. so when they found themselves facing irrelevance — a common network issue in the current age of streaming services — it wasn’t a programming problem.

the network wasn’t cutting through. it wasn’t present or competitive where their fans were showing up.

the master bbc brand has strong equity for its quality programming, and is held in high regard as a cultural touchstone. but bbc stands for ‘british’ in america, and being british is no longer enough of a differentiator, nor enough of a reason to view a channel.

to cut through, the network had to align its offer to u.s. appetites and be where its fans are in a relevant way. to do that, first, the brand had to be there. the website is now a viewing platform, the mobile app is live and thriving, and the living room is open for guests. and the business chose to seize “the smart edge of pop culture,” embracing its innate intelligence along with a pop mentality in a way that’s savvy, switched on, and contagious, or, that has the S.S.C. factor. 

a key motivator to this decision: today’s content travels around (if it’s successful, that is). it doesn’t stay on network air. It gets sampled on the internet, it gets shared. and when it does, you want fans to know it’s yours.

so the branding and its sexy attractors had to be embedded. inherent in everything about it to create buzz around the channel itself, not just the individual shows.

defining the “a” in bbca as “the smart edge of pop culture” articulated the shift the network needed to make, and shaped the new behaviors required to flourish in the changing marketplace.

it also highlighted the S.S.C. and the brand’s sexy attractor: music and the way they move to it.

the smart edge of pop culture is not a fixed state. it’s dynamic. responsive. kinetic and buzzy. active. bbc america is all of that too — its natural behavior is to make, play, socialize, connect, and move on.

the brand had to play more by the rules of music than the rules of narrative. it samples, remixes, loops. that’s pop culture.

playing it with knowing irony, that’s the smart edge of pop culture.