Thursday, 12 April 2007

Help me influence people!

(I'm speaking at an UNDER THE INFLUENCE an event run by Iris/Contagious magazine this afternoon). I've bashed out a very rough speech. What I am actually going to do is sit in a pub and just chat, but it helps me to write a speech then throw it away. Please comment & help me improve it - the comments will reach me by email. I'm on at 4pm! Got to run now I am off to meet Karen, who rather wierdly is probably reading, so no excuses for being late! If anyone wants to come who hasnt registered by the way its in various pubs Borough market area all afternoon & you can text me on 07799367573)


People (blogs, communities, networks, virals…) don’t influence people, IDEAS do.

Not ad ideas, very often these days, buit the sorts of ideas that are contagious. But still very recognisably ideas.

I think sometimes we forget this when talking about marketing 27.0
We get into the technology & science & channels & tergeting & etc. of it all and forget its all about ideas still
I think in many ways we have gone from a broadcast culture (official ideas) back to a folk culture (good ideas spread)

In web 2.0 and web 1.0 for that matter what worked really was brilliant ideas; from friendsreunited and lastminute to meetup and twitter. These are just genius.

As are the random hits on YouTube. Like the ‘white chicks and gang signs’ thing. It’s a good general model for creativity btw. Ideas happen when stuff that doesn’t go together clashes and makes something new. If you are too linear and literal about the way you think about brands or whatever you are working on, you miss this clash. It’s about stuff that sort of doesn’t go together, working, and the thrill of that discovery.

I’ve been working on a book on green marketing. Here’s an area where fresh ideas have had a lot of influence in a short space of time. We weren’t talking about carbon, footprints or refusing carrier bags a year ago. Plus my head is so full of this stuff its hard to think about anything else. So I will use it as a source of examples. But all the points I make could apply just as much to other sorts of marketing which seek to influence.

How I’ve structured this ramble is to look at some different types of ideas; ie types of ideas which are influential in various different ways.

But the ideas are bigger in theories in many ways. Every conference presentation you go too talks about iPod (there, now I’ve done it too) and everyone has their own pet explanations. It was a superb bit of software, it was the white headphones imitation thing, it was the business model, it was the piracy witchhunt scaring students into paying… But maybe it was all of those things and something else – QUALITY. It’s just such a great idea. That’s the thing about ideas they seem to have a life of their own.

So onto some ideas:

An Inconvenient Truth
Seth Godin & manifestos
Apple keynote broadcasts
Alan Carr give up smoking video; point by point, fact by fact
Brilliant clash of: presidential address, cinema, pathe news reels, documentary, behind the scenes, science lessons at school… with green
It’s like going back to the political rallies & radio speeches of the 1930s

‘I’m not a plastic bag’ – Anna Hindmarch (& be-a-bag)
A clash of Keirah Knightly and a £5 shopping bag
“Stop at 70” car stickers
My “I quit” badge idea for the COI anti-smoking campaign
People putting “please don’t print” messages on emails
My ‘climate change church of Jerusalem’
(These aren’t just ‘virals’ these are ideas that spread for smart reasons)

Challenge is to resdesign life
How we live is so inefficient messy, wasteful, crap – there is actually hope
Freecycle – give away instead of throwaway
BagStealorBorrow: handbag rental sharing scheme – tool libraries
Car Clubs – a car only when you need it
Brands doing lots of great stuff with habits, eg Ariel wash at 30

4. REFRAMING; it’s not _ it’s __
Philips lightbulbs are long lasting
Green & Blacks chocolate is luxurious
Organic food is healthier
My prius is congestion charge free
Green is just common sense

There still nothing like a great word
It’s like coming up with brand names, but is universal
Jogging was invented by Bill Bowerman a year before they launched Nike

Carbon neutral
Carbon footprint
Carbon offset
Carbon counting

(see also organic, fairtrade etc.)

More assoc doing a language project to come up with a better carbon/energy vocabulary; what should be the equaivalent of counting calories…?

Language is about framing things; what if the school run was called something less flattering. Like when Thatcher called everyone against her “the wets”

studies of urban myths show that the ones which spread are the ones with archetypal forms; eg the underdog/ugly duckling/rags to riches or poetic justice

when companies approach green communications
they are trying to be too perfect to make good stories
“we were good before and we still are, so there”
would be much better to be the penitent sinner

Russell/Andrews stuff on 2.0 companies being brilliant at apologies
Flickr, Technorati


When the user of something is an –er
A Guardian Reader, a Howies wearer, an innocent drinker
Brands themselves can be very influential ideas
They often have a lot of stuff behind this; Guardian is the last bastion of independent journalism, innocent & howies just want to do something they can feel quite proud of

A note of this sort of brand; warm is the new cool
Tribal brands used to be exclusive, about envy
Now they are nice. Even the Guardian does wallcharts.


Raimo said...

What if you change your idea into a personal wish? A wish provokes action. I use the wish as a strating point in creation. It is more personal, more internal.

John Grant said...

It was a fun session. From the venue - people crowded into a pub basement, sitting on stairs, chairs, tables florr... - it looked like a 1960s 'happening'. I gave people the choice of listening to a talk or just asking me questions and they chose the latter. Which I think was a good way to go. Key points raised included,

- seeing the many possibilities to market green products, services, companies and educate, change lifestyle habits, invent whole new business models... as opposed to just thinking green marketing = bandwagon = greenwashing

- making green stuff normal, fun, common sense, aspirational, interesting etc. rather than using the tired old green brand codes of hippy, great outdoors, twiggy etc.

- getting people to change habits and reduce carbon footprints may mean big new winners as well as losers; the Skyype's as opposed to the BTs. eg a power tool library might slash black & deckers sales, but is an interesting subsription retail business in itself. Or amazon selling used as well as new books. Its just another round of competitive capitalism. The new stuff needs our help establishing itself. it's far from being the end of the road for creative marketing.

Welcome to the blog all those who are joining from the crowd yesterday. And nice to see John Dodds, who popped down after reading this post yesterday.


south said...


I love the film 'its a wonderful life' and I love the bell idea. When you hear a bell it's actually somebody making a wish. Imagine turning this around and having a noise (a bell, a twinkle, who knows) that tells you somebody has just done something about reducing their own personal impact. It could be a climate change twittervision. Its a lonely place doing things on your own and not knowing if your making a difference, seeing it (or even hearing it) would make a big difference.

Good luck, Greg

Charles Frith said...

Missed this, sounds like fun. Bringing the church bells back into the community for good deeds done is brilliant. Sort of thing to go down in folklore for the future.

I've mentioned it before in other posts but internet organised consumer boycotts always strike me as a powerful stick to encourage carbon cavalier companies to speed up change.

I was just looking at a powertool yesterday in the supermarket and thinking how little it would actually be used if I needed it. Powertool library. Again, commonsense and greenormal.

OK onto chapter 3.