Are you interested in the role of personality in a company’s marketing? I recently interviewed Rohit Bhargava of Ogilvy PR about this subject. You can read the interview here at Sun Microsystem’s small business blog. He covers topics such as the creation and use of brand personalities, good and bad examples, and the role of a CEO in the process. I based the interview on Rohit’s new book, Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back.
[From Brand Personality]
Ten years into the Internet economy, many companies still subscribe to the build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy of web marketing. Putting up a site without having a plan to drive traffic to it is equivalent of opening a store on a back road and not even putting up a sign.
When I bought this Citron shirt, it came with a tag thanking me for buying it, including a picture of the company’s president, and inviting me to the website. I took him up on the invitation, and found a nice greeting and an outlet store I wouldn’t have known about otherwise – the free prize inside for visiting.
Before you even think about online marketing, is your company including your website and blog URL:
-on everything you print including business cards, stationary, envelopes, product labels, packaging
– in all of your advertising, online and off
– in the greeting and “hold” message on company phones
– on all trade show displays
– on signs in your stores and offices
– in email signatures
Sounds elementary, but a lot of companies still don’t do even these simple marketing basics.
Posted by B.L. Ochman
All content copyright B.L. Ochman, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By B.L. Ochman, What’s Next Blog, and a link to the post [From Is Your Company Missing the Simplest Ways to Promote Your Website?]
It’s the first work day of the new year and I thought I’d take some time to offer up my predictions for what will happen on the leading edge of the Internet this year. 2007 saw Web 2.0 — defined here as the pervasive two-way Web used for social media, mashups, user-powered Web applications, and social networking — go far more mainstream than it had in 2006. Web 2.0 poster children like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube pushed their way into the top 10 Web sites globally and stayed there for virtually all of 2007. Fresh, new Internet startups were created by the hundreds (even thousands, if you count the innumerable garage and bedroom attempts) last year and that trend isn’t going to stop any time soon and the reason is fairly obvious: The Web is simply the best place to create an incredibly scalable business for the least possible investment and effort.
However, that’s not to say that it’s easy to be successful online. It’s not, and the history of the Internet startup arena is littered with failures large and small, and many — even most — startups will inevitably succumb if they don’t provide a fairly compelling offering to the users of the Web. But fortunately for those that get the right mix of capabilities and user engagement in their online products, the upside can be nearly limitless. This fundamental fact helped drive the whole conception of Web 2.0: A new set of models and patterns creating Web sites and applications that looked at the best practices that actually worked from the success stories of the early Web. My point here is that the Web itself is in a state of perpetual evolution and we are all still learning a great deal all the time about what works and what doesn’t and the industry tries innovative new ideas all the time. In this way, 2008 will continue to be a fascinating year as we see what history’s largest ever business laboratory and incubator will turn out for us.
We are however assuredly seeing the maturation of the Web 2.0 industry, with many of the less successful online product plays falling by the wayside from first and second Web 2.0 wave as infamously tracked by Michael Arrington’s Web 2.0 Deadpool, with only a few meteoric stars rising to the top. The good news: That doesn’t mean there won’t be many exciting and innovative new things happening online this year, if you only know where to look.
Here’s my take on what we will see happen in 2008 in the Web 2.0 arena:
Web 2.0 Predictions for 2008
- Open APIs finally go beyond free as successful business models emerge. Sites like Twitter are finding that their APIs get ten times the use of the site itself (Web 2.0 principle: A platform beats an application every time), but monetizing them is a challenge for all but a few major player such as Amazon. While you can charge for each transaction across the API boundary, that isn’t appropriate for many types of API uses. Some have speculated that Twitter’s API usage is making them the middle-man, like the cable companies are with broadband, but with no reasonable way to charge for API usage that typical users would accept. Companies will continue to experiment with techniques such as injecting ads in the API data to requiring a small yearly fee to open an API for an individual user so they can use apps built for it. However, at least one major new API monetization model will emerge in 2008 that will prove to have long term legs. My bet: The costs will increasingly be bundled into a Web 2.0 application’s subscription fee or other business model, even if they use an API of the user’s preference, such as Amazon’s S3. This would require billing support from API vendors to chargeback for excessive use by a customer but it would work.
- Rich Internet Application (RIA) platforms such as Adobe AIR and Microsoft’s Silverlight get major traction as the development of non-trivial Web applications in Ajax remains difficult and time-consuming. While Ajax is made from 100% open Web standards, it was never explicitly designed for the job of creating rich user experiences and it’s proven tough going for many companies trying to create next generation Web experiences in Ajax. Adobe and Microsoft have been making enormous investments in browser plug-ins and supporting development tools that will change the way the Web will look in 2008 and beyond. These two platforms will be huge successes this year, despite the many challenges that RIA platforms face such as supporting page view-based business models, analytics, accessibility, network effects, link structure, search engine optimzation (SEO) and more.
- Google’s product strategy begins to coalesce into a mostly coherent picture, though a few big pieces won’t fit into the puzzle. While appearing to overextend itself into everything from online office application, mobile phone platforms, energy, and health, some of it will begin to make sense as the missing pieces begin to emerge next year. Look for a strategy that combines a long-term vision to integrate enormous user reach (online, mobile, SNS) as well as function (software apps and utility capabilities such as search and location) and business (advertising) into an interlocking platform play of a scope and breadth that will, pound for pound, out maneuver the vast majority of their competition. Disclaimer: I am a Google shareholder.
- The Web 2.0 industry consolidates as it begins to mature. This has been covered extensively on Mashable and John Battelle’s 2008 prediction list so I don’t need to repeat their outlooks, which I generally agree with. Most startups, as in any generation, will fall by the wayside and a few major success stories will emerge. Mergers and acquisitions will ensue. The next generation will begin, and so on. The reality is that most new Web apps are still mostly Web 1.0. We still have a long way to go before Web 2.0 design patterns are standard fare but Web 3.0 (whatever that turns out to be) will come upon us while that’s still happening. 2008 will see a lot of old Web 2.0 faces be acquired or leave the scene entirely.
- End-user mashups will be a reality but adoption will be slow for most of the year as users take time coming to grips with the possibilities and mindset. A little while back I wrote a detailed list of reasons why end-user mashups wouldn’t happen in a big way in 2007. Since then, it looks like only a couple of those reasons will be addressed in 2008. Despite this, we’ll see mashup platforms being rolled out by IT departments and high-functioning businesses as a significantly better and cheaper way to solve many problems by remixing the immense pool of content and functionality on the Web and in our organizations. The average user will need time for this potential to be appreciated and understood but we’ll see the first significant creation of end-user assembled Web applications in 2008.
- The Web widget format wars will ensue as Google Gadgets/OpenSocial takes on just about everyone else. No one will win yet. 2007 was the year of the Do-It-Yourself era when it comes to users creating their own experiences out of the Web, often by just pulling off the parts of a Web site they liked and sharing it with others in their blogs and user profiles. To embrace this demand, almost all major Web sites currently offer their sites in modular chunks known as widgets, or if you’re Google or Microsoft, gadgets that their users can distribute. However, like many aspects of Web 2.0, Web widgets are an emergent phenomenon with no large company or standards organization having created it up front with lots of engineering and funding. As a result, there are many different ways to design and offer a Web widget with Google taking the clear lead at the moment with well over 30,000 different Gadgets currently being offered. Throw in SNS widget/app platforms such as Facebook applications and OpenSocial and you have a recipe for fragmentation and an increasing to do list for Web sites which want to participate in what is a growing and often captive ecosystem of users controlled by each format’s backer. No consensus will be reached by the Web industry in 2008 but many solutions will be proposed, such as the W3C’s Widget spec.
- Page view “inventories” for online advertising continues to fall short of demand, even if an economic downturn takes place. The well regarded McKinsey & Company predicted last year that advertising will actually have fairly significant growth challenges for the next five years from high demand and lack of maturity in the management of online advertising through traditional outlets. My personal take: I’ve seen enough pent-up demand that I don’t think even an economic downtown will noticeable affect the fortunes of online adveritising for the foreseeable future.
- Web-based Software as a service (SaaS), aka Office 2.0, continues to encounter serious challenges but grows at a record pace anyway. Offline access to applications and data remains one of the biggest challenges to true Web-based software, but Google Gears and offerings from firms like Etelos are offering more and more options to make Web apps work offline (albeit with reductions in functionality). Other challenges include the cumulative drag of paying a periodic subscription fee for access to software as well security and overall capability. Despite this, positive aspects of SaaS will continue to prevail and 2008 is looking to be the biggest SaaS year yet.
- A wave of new killer mobile Web applications (and their startups) appear, spurred by the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) and ever more untethered workers. Twitter was likely just the first in an era of fundamentally network-oriented applications with communications and collaboration at their design core. The release of the iPhone last year proved that Web apps could be nearly as functional and pleasing as desktop apps. The coming iPhone SDK, which will let anyone build iPhone software legally, will help usher in a new era of useful new consumer and business mobile applications, many which will sport Web 2.0 capabilities or even be fundamentally Web 2.0 based, such as route capturing software and automatic traffic tracking, particularly as more mobile devices add GPS capability in 2008.
- The first Android-powered phones will fail to impress and a decent, though not spectacular, iPhone upgrade keeps Apple ahead of the industry. Google’s widely covered Android platform will experience the usual beta/1.0 issues, particularly since one company doesn’t have control over the entire product development process of Android phones. Expect a somewhat rocky second half of ’08 for Android while Apple maintains its market lead with what is still the most Web-friendly communications device yet created by releasing a solid upgrade of the iPhone this year, perhaps even twice. Mobile Web 2.0 apps will continue to get very popular in 2008.
- Social media begins to grow up, leading to the first significant onset of Web 2.0 versions of talent agents, production companies, and other supply/demand enablers. Blogs and other forms of social media such as backyard produced YouTube videos let anyone reach out to the entire audience of the Web at the cost of nothing more than a little bit of their time. Despite the hugely democratizing effect this is having in the media world, the new online stars of the Web 2.0 still need professional help to maximize their opportunities and potential. While this has been going on for a while with media companies cultivating paid bloggers and other forms of leveraging social media, expect that the social media phenomenon will being to create its own cottage industry of agents that can help the talented reach the Web mot effectively, for a cut of the action of course. On the other side, production companies will form to give rising stars the resources they need to succeed. We’ll see a spate of new companies forming around this growing need in 2008, as traditional companies in this space continue to struggle with the medium.
- Leading social networking sites MySpace and Facebook continue to maintain their traffic but struggle to ignite significant revenue growth. Facebook’s widely covered struggles late last year with the business model of its Beacon product is somewhat indicative of the entire Web 2.0 era: Incredible levels of participation with serious challenges to leveraging said participation due to privacy, governance, ownership, copyright, and other issues. Make no mistake, however, these issues will be solved given the massive global stake in a successful outcome but it’ll take at least through 2008 to do it.
- The Web moves into the living room as sites like Hulu and others make it practical and rewarding to participate on the Web using a large screen for entertainment. Digital convergence in the main room of our homes has been in progress for a half-decade or more. I’m a little reluctant to call it but I have definitely noticed a sharp uptick in the people I know starting to use the Web on the big screen. New Web apps are emerging to make it popular and mainstream, and in 2008, will see the first big major uptake of Web usage — with rich media apps in particular — in our living rooms.
- The first generation of pure Web 2.0 auteurs emerge, creating social media and user-centric online experiences that are highly imaginative and popular, but difficult to access for the non-digitally literate. The first generation of users whose most formative years were primarily spent in the Web 2.0 era are beginning to reach the age where they will become significant creative forces in their own right. As the Web has become easy enough for semi-technical people to create nearly any experience they wish, expect that a generation of youth who consider the Web as natural a medium as the air they breath will begin to generate not just content but the next aspects of the Web itself. While we continue to hold up movie directors, authors, TV production firms, and commercial Internet companies as the creators of most of the common large-scale group experiences we have, expect that Web 2.0 will impose its egalitarian influences here as well. I predict we’ll see an initial handful of Web 2.0 auteurs emerge that will offer large-scale Web-based “experiences” that will not only redefine the notion of the Web site itself but will be widely used as well. I also expect that many of them will come from developing nations or from other unexpected locations and less from the United States and Europe.
- Update: Ownership of data contributed to Web 2.0 sites becomes a growing public relations issue, though the average user won’t care much this year. I added this because the growing brouhaha about Robert Scoble’s blocked Facebook account reminded me that we’ll continue see many sites attempt to control the data they receive from users in a very Web 1.0 way. This is somewhat surprising given it’s 2008 and we’ve learned these lessons in the industry the hard way already. However, it’s entirely correct that Web sites should maintain control over their valuable and hard to recreate data. A good example is how YouTube jealously protects its videos and doesn’t let you download them, only view them on the site or through the badge. Yet the often contrarian nature of the Web sometimes requires the opposite of an action to get the desired effect. In this case, it turns out that the more control you give up, the more value you tend to get back. Sites that lock users in, prevent them from having the experiences they want, and exert excessive and unfair control, will lose in the end. See DataPortability.org and the GraphSync project, which aims to enable the open movement of a user’s social graph, as examples of where all this is headed.
Update: TechCrunch covers JP Morgan’s bullish predictions for the Web business in 2008.
Where do you think the Web will go in 2008? Please leave your take in comments below.
[From Web 2.0 Predictions for 2008]
It wasn’t long ago that to be a credible participant in social media one only had to have a decent blog and keep it updated fairly regularly. The rise of social media was an astonishing and novel enough development that most people still don’t blog today, despite the enormous influence that blogging and other forms of social media continue to have. One reason is that blogging takes time and takes some skill, both in writing and using blogging tools effectively. Another is the rise of online social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Hi5, which add a personal dimension to online interaction that many find more rewarding and relevant for them.
But just like blogs made two-way conversations on the Web relatively cheap, easy, and quick for the masses compared to previous methods (such as personal Web sites), conversational models on the Web have continued to evolve. Recently, microblogging and social aggregation platforms like Twitter and Friendfeed have emerged to offer alternative models that are compelling for a number of significant reasons. For one, contributing to them doesn’t take much time. To achieve this, they either have radical limits on the amount of content that can be posted at a time (140 characters for Twitter), or they do the posting work for you and automatically centralize your social activity on other sites into a single feed, as in the case of Friendfeed. They also tend to work very well on mobile devices — an incredibly fast growing channel for experiencing anything on the Web these days — as well scale conversation well, are extremely easy to use (even easier in general than blogs), and allow you to keep track of a large numbers of contacts socially.
And vitally, both Twitter and Friendfeed are open platforms, not just mere tools. A key factor in their success is that they offer open APIs to allow others to add the features and capabilities that are missing for various specialty needs that would otherwise clutter the product for many users. This creates a far richer overall feature set than any single product could offer on its own, while at the same time leveraging the innovation of the user community. Blogs have been able to do something similar with badges, widgets, and plug-ins for some time but haven’t seen the same directed results as we’ll see below.
The sheer volume of 3rd party add-on activity for these platforms is impressive. Best-of-breed applications like Twhirl for Twitter (and now Friendfeed) and AlertThingy for Friendfeed extend these new social media experiences onto the desktop and provide real-time monitoring of your “Twitterverse” or friend’s feeds. To get a full sense of the depth and scope of the innovation of the Twitter community, which is certainly still a niche compared to the blogosphere, though an increasingly impressive one, you have only to look at some of its more compelling 3rd party applications:
Common Twitter Applications
- Summize – A power search engine for scanning Twitter conversations for information
- Twitter Charts – Detailed analytics of your Twitter activities along many different metrics
- TwitterFeed – Link your blog activity to Twitter
- TwitterGram – Post MP3s into your Twitter conversations
- TweetBurner – Combined with twurl.org, this application shows click through analytics on your Twitter links as well as overall Twitterverse stats
- TweetWheel – Analysis your Twitter account’s social graph to understand the connections between your followers
- TwittEarth – A 3d animated globe that shows activity in the Twitter public timeline in near real-time
- Twitt(url)y – A link aggregator that reports on link activity within the Twitterverse, a sort of Techmeme for Twitter
- TwitSay – Use your phone to post to Twitter via a voice message
- TwitterSnooze – Turn off a chatty user temporarily and bring them back automatically later
- Twistori – An interesting dashboard that displays the expression of key memes from the Twitter public timeline, creating a sort of global collective intelligence
- Twubble – Many new Twitter users have trouble finding users to follower, this tool helps finds new contacts you might care about
This only a small list of the most popular Twitter applications and they don’t even include the product offerings that are stand-alone in their own right, but work much better in conjunction with Twitter and Friendfeed, such as Brightkite and Natuba.
Understanding How Conversations Are Changing
The challenge today is that while the size of individual contributions to online conversations is getting smaller, the frequency of conversations are increasing on these new social media platforms. Making this point, Sarah Perez over at Read/Write Web wrote this morning that there are too many choices, and too much content. Users of the latest social media tools are far more likely to post several times a day, more likely dozens of times, each one forming a new conversational beachhead. This can be overwhelming, but it can also be enormously stimulating and rewarding, as a form of collaboration, cross-pollination, brainstorming, serendipity, news gathering, and countless other activities provide one with a continuous connection to the broader world.
To get a handle on how people are using these next generation social media platforms, I ran an online survey this week which I pushed out across my Twitter followers, Friendfeed contacts, and a random sampling of my personal contacts via e-mail (the latter without much regard if they used these tools.) The results largely reflect many of the points above, but there were some interesting write-in results as well.
Here’s how the Twitter survey results broke down:
Results Of This Week’s Twitter/Friend Usage Survey
- Do use Twitter or Friendfeed on a regular basis? (Multiple Answers Allowed): 96.1% Twitter, 25.2% Friendfeed, 3.9% Neither
- What things do you like about Twitter, Friendfeed, or your write-in choice from question #1: (Multiple answers allowed):
- My friends and/or colleagues use it. 65%
- A good selection of 3rd party apps are available. 26.2%
- I’ve built up a set of followers which I’ve come to know and with which I socialize. 42.7%
- It’s easy to use. 71.8%
- It works well with my mobile devices when I’m on the go. 43.7%
- Contributing doesn’t require much time. 69.9%
- Easy to socially interact with a large number of people. 59.2%
- I can publicize my activities from other Web sites. 37.9%
- Useful way to acquire news and information. 71.8%
- It’s better than e-mail for quick communication with contacts. 35.9%
- Actually, I don’t think Twitter or Friendfeed are that great. 4.9%
- What do you like LEAST about Twitter, Friendfeed, or your write-in answer for #1: (Write-In. Representative Samples.)
- “Twitter lacks a feature to filter or an easy way to group.”
- “Twitter is yet another thing to keep up with, I much prefer the all-inclusive nature of Facebook.”
- “I get a lot of noise, that is, useless information from people I’m following.”
- “Poor support for conversations. no threads, don’t see other half if not following all involved.”
- “I’ve found it’s hard to get some of my friends to adopt it.”
- Do now, or are you planning to, use Twitter or Friendfeed for business purposes?
- Yes. 66%
- No. 12%
- Considering it. 22%
One of the biggest surprises of this survey (there were 103 respondents total) was the amount of those who are thinking about using Twitter for business purposes. Whether that’s just expanding their personal brand or actually leveraging it for business collaboration, marketing, and other uses is hard to tell and will be the subject of a further survey.
Interestingly, in terms of being used as Enterprise 2.0 platforms by businesses, both Twitter and Friendfeed fly in the face of the underlying pull-based models that make social media more effective that traditional collaboration tools and it’ll be interesting to see how well they will function in the workplace, something that seems a way off for most organizations right now. And it may be that in the end that social networking for business platforms like Google’s new Friend Connect may be the best answer. One thing is for sure, we’ll find out soon as the living laboratory of the Web validates the best approaches.
Most other responses were within expected norms though it was interesting to see that, at least explicitly, users don’t value 3rd party apps that much. They are also using these social media tools as a replacement for traditional e-mail. But it was ease-of-use and the gathering of news and information which were listed as the aspects that respondents appreciated the most in these emerging platforms. Which highlights that crowdsourcing of news via Twitter in particular continues to be a fascinating topic as a Paul Bradshaw wrote recently as he explored the news tweets coming out of China about the recent earthquake disaster.
All of this highlight that the unintended uses and emergent outcomes that we continue to see with with these platforms is demonstrating that they have the power to achieve compelling results of a wide variety, from news and learning to staying in touch and achieving business goals. But the biggest challenge will continue to be the challenge of scaling our attention and time, something that’s always in finite quantity. The product creator that can successfully aggregate conversation without losing the social value will be the winner as these endless conversations spin around us, informing, educating and enriching us.
Where do you see conversation online headed? Will it be microplatforms like Twitter or SNS like Google Friend Connect? Or something else entirely? Note: Use wiki markup below to embed links.
It happens to the best of them eventually. They get old, worn out, past their useful lives. At some point you have to grab the shotgun and head out to the pasture to put them out of their misery.
We’re talking, of course, about advertising methodologies.
Guerrilla marketing has been hailed as the renegade king of advertising methods for many years now. But, like all advertising models, this one will eventually lose its effectiveness and be replaced by the next big thing.
Since we are so inundated with advertising these days, most of us have learned to simply ignore it. We can walk right past billboards bearing the name and image of some fantastic product and never know they’re there. We can skip commercials altogether in our own homes.
When guerrilla marketing was introduced, it was a way to get past our defenses. A great guerrilla campaign can convince us, if even for a split second, that we aren’t looking at an advertisement and that it’s acceptable to pay attention. Guerrilla marketing tactics can help businesses to stay a step or two ahead of the competition by using methods that were previously unknown.
Guerrilla marketing is still as valuable today as it was back in the 1980s. It’s a way for small businesses to level the playing field. For a small investment, the smaller businesses can compete with the big names. This has lead to an unprecedented commercial environment where the relatively unknown company can garner as much attention as – and often more than – the well-established national brand.
But are we over-saturated with new and innovative marketing? We’ve learned to become suspicious of people we see on the street or in the supermarket. If a stranger asks for an opinion to help them choose between two products, we wonder which choice they’re trying to sell.
Some guerrilla efforts have become increasingly outlandish and questionable. The efforts of Golden Palace Casino are known to be particularly on the edge of acceptability. Some of their guerrilla marketing ploys have been harmless, amusing, and even beneficial (they’ve raised over $1 million for various charities, after all), but some are simply outrageous.
The online casino has paid two people, Karolyne Smith and Brent Moffatt, to permanently tattoo the site’s URL on their foreheads. Notwithstanding the fact that both individuals placed their forehead space for auction on eBay, the publicity stunt didn’t sit well with much of the general public.
In 2002, underdog video game company Acclaim announced that they would pay families for the right to advertise one of their games on the tombstones of dead relatives. Following public (not to mention religious) outcry, Acclaim pulled the old “Aw, we were only joking anyway” routine.
Marketing ploys such as these have made some of us question where guerrilla marketing is headed. Will marketers employ increasingly shocking and horrific methods to get our attention? In the future, will we see brands on everything from hot dog buns to girls’ big plastic fingernails to the backs of Cub Scouts?
In a perfect world, it would be nice to think that guerrilla marketing will take a different (less shocking, more personal) turn. We’re seeing already that brands – especially small businesses – are taking it to the streets, so to speak, by joining forum discussions, obsessively updating their Twitter accounts, and writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and blogs.
Building personal relationships with customers may be the best marketing move of the future. A handshake and the assurance that even a big, important business owner is never too important to wait on a customer is just what we jaded masses need to help us reconnect to our buying habits.
Although that’s what we’d like to think, our actual predictions are not so rosy. Given the recent trend of aggressive undercover marketing coupled with the fact that we are increasingly hard to reach (thanks to TiVO, MP3 players, and a hearty desire to avoid being corporate America’s pawns), we think that guerrilla marketing will only grow more covert and stealthy as time goes on.
The days of outrageous advertising scenes may be nearing their end. But you can bet that in the future it will become increasingly difficult to tell what is an advertisement and what is a simple conversation. These guerrilla ambushes may move further into the online realm as the 21st century versions of the “buy me a drink” girls shamelessly flirt online only to entice you to visit a certain virtual casino with them.
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3D graffiti, whether it’s in chalk or paint, on walls or the street, represents a new way of combining the mastery of Renaissance art techniques with the gritty, ephemeral qualities of amazing street art. These 3D street artists gives graffiti a whole new meaning – one that departs from the conventional interpretation of graffiti as vandalism in the form of images and letters scrawled on public property. Artists like Kurt Wenner, Eduardo Relero and Tracy Lee Stum create street art that’s so incredible it is almost impossible to pass by without being sucked in to the worlds they create on asphalt and concrete surfaces.
Kurt Wenner’s ability to transform Renaissance classicism into 3D street art is unparalleled and has made him the top anamorphic street painting artist of our time. Kurt aims to ‘reinvent classicism for a new age’, bringing his talent for realism to the streets, literally, having invented a pictorial geometry that corrects the specific distortion caused by viewing his street paintings at an oblique angle. A former NASA illustrator, Kurt has had his work featured in a lengthy list of articles, television features, ads, and documentaries.
Edgar Muller & Manfred Stader
Edgar Muller and Manfred Stader are a German team of street painters. Much of their work is in the 3D anamorphic style, but both of them often create traditional street paintings in a style that mimics the detail and realism of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Their background in realism gives them an incredible advantage as anamorphic street painters, as evidenced in their ‘River Street’ work and the paintings above. Stader and Mueller have won many street painting competitions, and have taught street painting at universities.
Julian Beever’s world-renowned sidewalk chalk drawings have been a viral hit all over the internet, and it’s easy to see why: he’s a master of the anamorphic technique, which he’s been perfecting since the mid 1990s. Each of Julian’s creations typically take a full day to complete, and by the next day they’re just a memory, washed away by rain or walked upon by pedestrians. The English artist has been given the nickname ‘The Pavement Picasso’, and he continues to work all over the world.
Tracy Lee Stum
Tracy Lee Stum is widely considered to be one of today’s finest street painters. She has traveled the world to be a featured artist in many festivals and events, and she currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest street painting by an individual, which she completed in 2006. Tracy’s work contains many themes, from Biblical to exotic to the mundane.
Eduardo Relero is a street artist working primarily in Spain. His fanciful illustrative style looks like storybook pages come to life, and indeed each of his anamorphic sidewalk chalk drawings seems to have a story behind it.
Rod Tryon has been adorning the streets of the world with his chalk drawings for more than 20 years, and was first inspired to try anamorphic designs in 1996. Of his paintings, Rod says “Entertaining the audience by creating an image that looks like it is coming up out of the street, or the impression of a hole opening up in the asphalt in front of you, is a special treat for the artist. Seeing crowds react to his 3-D pastel images, bring great joy to both the artist and onlookers.”
The work of Greg Brown isn’t meant to be accessible. His huge murals seem to jump out at the viewer, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to interpret, and that’s how he likes it. Greg’s murals vary dramatically in style and content from one to another, due to the intense collaborative process he takes on with each client. They range from Dali-esque surrealism to classic trompe l’oeil, with subjects including everything from construction equipment to miniature ships.
Eric Grohe was a professional graphic designer and illustrator for decades before beginning work on his renowned trompe l’oeil murals. Eric’s murals appear to jump off of the surfaces that he paints on, and they grace walls all over the United States and the World, from Seattle Washington to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Eric’s work reflects a patriotic all-American theme, and his depictions of scenes such as football games and picturesque towns have turned blank walls into works of art.
Daim is a German graffiti artist who first started spraying in 1989 and hasn’t stopped since. Daim has become one of the most sought-after graffiti artists in the world, and has even appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records for spraying the highest graffiti in the world. The only ‘traditional’ graffiti artist on our list, Daim creates 3D art on interior and exterior walls, canvas and vehicles and also works in animation and sculpture.
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Over the past month, WebUrbanist has explored the ins and outs of the weird world of guerrilla marketing. What was once a fringe movement in the world of advertising has become much more popular and mainstream since the 1980s, when marketing expert Jay Conrad Levinson introduced the concept to the world at large.
But what is guerrilla marketing, exactly? If you’re still scratching your head about what this guerrilla stuff is all about, step onto the tour bus as we take one more look around. Keep hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, please. We’ll review the highlights at each of our stops. Feel free to hop off and visit any of the sections that interest you, then hop back on to navigate the rest.
In part one of our gmarketing series, we took a look at how advertising went from boring, educational, and sometimes downright false ads to the entertaining spectacle we know and love today. Jay Conrad Levinson, author of many books on the subject, is credited as the father of Guerrilla Marketing. His ideas paved the way for small businesses to compete in the marketing arena with the big companies, ushering in an era of innovative and sometimes extreme marketing ideas. But Levinson’s ideas aren’t just about getting the customer’s attention: companies have to be ready and willing to back up their advertising with excellent products and services.
Have you ever wondered how guerrilla marketing got so popular? J.C. Levinson’s book was only part of the equation. The main reason guerrilla marketing took off was its incredible effectiveness at breaking through our advertising blinders. The first instances of guerrilla marketing were radical for their time, but the techniques continued to develop. Girls convincing men to buy them drinks was suddenly more about marketing than about flirting. Even rappers got into the game when Run DMC released a song called My Adidas, sending sales of Adidas through the proverbial roof.
Although J.C. Levinson’s ideas were geared toward the small business evening the playing field against bigger rivals, major corporations soon began using guerrilla tactics to sell their products. Their efforts aren’t always rewarded, especially when existing customers feel like the big businesses are overstepping their bounds or being deceitful.
Advertising executives are under a lot of pressure to make their campaigns successful. At some point, it occurred to some ad people that they could make ads so irresistible that they would actually be passed around willingly by customers. The result: self-propagating advertising. Guerrilla marketing sometimes takes the form of a viral campaign. The viral campaign happens organically and spontaneously; if it’s pushed too hard by its creators there’s a pretty good chance it’ll never get off the ground. Some of the most successful guerrilla marketing campaigns have taken the form of viral videos or websites.
So far, our guerrilla marketing tour has focused on businesses and making money. Nonprofit organizations need to spread their word, too, and today many of them are turning to guerrilla marketing tactics to reach their target audience. The Red Cross has created some of the most ingenious and eye-catching socially aware guerrilla marketing messages.
Did you know that guerrilla marketing isn’t just about putting up some posters or creating a rad short video? It can take on nearly any form. From strangers chatting with people on the street to making a product really hard to get hold of, marketers have lots of sneaky, amusing, and intelligent ways to get you to want what they’re selling.
You don’t have to be a business (big OR small) or a socially conscious nonprofit organization to reap the rewards of guerrilla marketing. You can use unconventional techniques to land a job, get a date, or promote your talents. Of course, if you’re a small business owner you should know that guerrilla marketing isn’t all about the flashy message. It’s essential to back up the advertisements and never disappoint your customers. As quickly as guerrilla marketing messages can spread, negative feedback spreads even faster.
We can’t see exactly what is in the future for guerrilla marketing, its devotees, and the public who alternately loves and hates the constant advertising. But as we become more commercially oriented, it seems that advertisements are popping up nearly everywhere. Will we soon see ads on any and all available surfaces? Will the forehead tattoo ad become mainstream? Perhaps, but one thing that’s sure is that future advertisements will be even more difficult to tell apart from real life.
We’ve reached the end of our guerrilla marketing tour. We’ve seen some amazing sights and gained some valuable knowledge about the world of advertising. You’ll probably find yourself looking differently at ads now that you know the secrets that marketers use to grab your attention. We hope you’ve enjoyed your tour, and you’re invited back to re-visit all of your favorite stops at any time. Please watch your step as you exit the bus.
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Not too long ago, walking along a city sidewalk would yield plenty of unique experiences in guerrilla art. Tags left by taggers who climbed into precarious positions, impromptu murals on the sides of buildings, and bizarre urban art installations were all a part of city life that some people admired and others considered a scourge.
Advertisements were clearly delineated, different and separate from art. They were easily recognizable as advertisements and no one expected them to be anything else.
Today, the urban environment includes not only separate instances of art and advertisements, but advertisements that look suspiciously like art. Guerrilla advertisements that use the familiar rough-edged look of graffiti – and others that use actual graffiti – are found now in cities around the world.
So what’s the difference between guerrilla art and guerrilla advertisement? How can you differentiate when the lines between the two are blurred as they are?
You might think that the distinction between the two would be obvious. After all, the goal of advertising is to sell you something, while the goal of art is less easy to define. Guerrilla art states a political message, subverts a common belief, exists simply for the pleasure of the beholder, or any number of other reasons.
So telling the difference between art and advertisement should be easy. But what about advertisements that are truly beautiful? What about the street artists who are paid to use their art to advertise a product? Is that still advertising, or can it also be art? Street art that isn’t commissioned and for which the artist hasn’t received permission may very well be a masterpiece, but in the eyes of the law it is a criminal offense.
The line is blurred even further when you take into account the litany of corporate logos and slogans invading our space at every turn. They may be advertisements, but at what point do they become graffiti? They seem to fit some people’s definitions of visual litter: they are bright, they are ever-present, they are distracting and invasive.
Besides the sheer number of advertisements all around us, many companies have figured out that the corporate penalties for unlicensed guerrilla advertisements are rarely enforced. When they are enforced, the fines are usually so small that they cost much less than the permits would have. Because of this, unlicensed guerrilla ads have been on the rise in recent years.
So if guerrilla artists can get paid to put up graffiti, and if corporations can put up ads without paying, where does guerrilla art stop and guerrilla advertising begin?
Maybe the most confusing part of this debate is the street artists who have gained popularity, acceptance, and even fame for their urban art. Artists like Banksy and Neckface, once considered criminals, now enjoy successful careers as artists. Shephard Fairey, creator of Obey, and artist collective Faile have gained commercial success as designers and are now living the dream of making a living from their art. Yet they continue to post urban art, often without permits or permission. You might say that these artists are engaging in guerrilla advertising since their street art now promotes their commercial art.
Some groups are majorly unhappy about street space and urban art being co-opted by corporations who are almost never subjected to the same punishments as individual artists. The Anti-Advertising Agency, along with Graffiti Research Lab, recently carried out a brilliant campaign calling attention to the advertising infestation in NYC. The AAA and GRL want city dwellers to be aware that, while graffiti artists go to jail every day for tagging or stenciling, corporations get away with large-scale illegal guerrilla marketing stunts, as well as legal campaigns that are simply visually overwhelming.
Has the life been sucked out of urban art by too many advertisements? Have corporations been stealing from artists and using their trailblazing ideas and techniques to promote their own commercial interests?
Look closely. We think that the constant battle between advertisements and art has given birth to an entirely new urban environment. In today’s cities, corporations do their best to use whatever tricks they can to get our attention. Artists do their best to promote their own ideals, whether those be freedom of expression, the right to display their art, reclaiming the urban landscape, culture jamming, subvertising, or simply creating something beautiful and meaningful. When the two collide, a fascinating new breed of urban landscape results.
The urban environment now includes advertisements with cleverly worded additions from street artists alongside brilliant urban art. Ads created by respected street artists share space with the typically polished ads from professional advertisers. The overall picture is surreal, blending art with commerce and involving a significant overlap of the two.
The rules change daily in business and in art, and as such it is becoming increasingly difficult to consistently tell the difference between them. Many times, we find ourselves missing the commercial message on a beautiful ad or looking for the product placement in a piece of striking art. Will the already-faint lines between the two one day become completely transparent? Only time will tell.
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From Seth Godin:
Sometimes, busy people need to remind themselves (and us) how busy they are by shaving off the last two seconds of what would otherwise be a pleasant interaction.
At a restaurant yesterday, the maitre d, who is paid to be busy, looked up our name in the reservations book and then said, “over there against the wall,” while he pointed. He repeated this approach with at least three other parties.
How much longer to say, “Welcome, we’ll be ready for you in just a second. Would you mind waiting over there please?” Amazingly, saying that while smiling takes precisely the same amount of time.
I know you’re busy, so I’ll keep this short… if you’re going to interact, spend a few extra beats to be calm and gracious. It’s hard to overstate how much better everyone will feel and how much more productive you’ll become as a result.
[From Two seconds]