Visceral Targeting

Quick Read: We love ourselves so much that even the Mona Lisa could use our face to appear more engaging to us. No, seriously! But does that tell us something about the future of advertising? 

You stand in front of the Mona Lisa, only this version is around three times the size of the original and has a blue sphere on a shelf that juts out from the painting.

In the blue sphere – called the Gazing Ball – you see a reflection of yourself naturally juxtaposed against the Mona Lisa.

As part of this exhibition, Jeff Koons has taken 35 masterpieces, had them repainted in oil on canvas, added a little shelf, painted as if it had sprouted directly from the image and added the Gazing Ball on top of that.


(Jeff Koons with the Gazing Ball (da Vinci Mona Lisa).Photograph: Fruity MacGuinty)

Presenting his artworks, Koons (fancily) says that while the gazing ball “represents the vastness of the universe and at the same time the intimacy of right here, right now, this experience is about you, your desires, your interests, your participation, your relationship with this image.”

Now, is the joke here on us or is it on Leonardo da Vinci that even in the master piece we have to be able to see ourselves in order to evince a higher level of curiosity and appreciation- the heady mix that all artists crave for?

Pop-culture has become more narcissistic in recent decades. And we, being the most narcissistic species on the planet, obviously help perpetuate the trend even further.

The Doppelgänger Effect

Popular wisdom tells us that opposites attract. But as this post suggests, all we need to do is just take a look around us and bear witness to the thousands of couple twins, boyfriend twinscelebrity couple lookalikes and even facial recognition dating sites, and we’ll start to realize that what we might be most attracted to is, well, ourselves.

Today there is mounting scientific evidence to prove that we are friendlier to people who look like us.

And this has interesting ramifications on advertising. 

One knows that it’s easy to algorithmically construct an ‘average face’ – a composite image that averages the faces of any given sample of people.


(Image Source: Averageness – wikipedia)

(In fact earlier this year, Benetton used this approach to algorithmically construct a ‘Face of the City‘ for each of 6 global capitals in order to celebrate their status as a melting pot of various races and cultures. Video here.)

In the same way one can construct a composite morph using weighted average of individual faces. For example, the ‘Tiger Morph’ below is a weighted average of a stock model face and that of Tiger Woods.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 8.21.56 PM

(Image Source: Personalized Face Composites for Implicitly Targeted Marketing)

Using similar means what if a social network were to subtly blend our profile picture  – almost on the fly- with that of a brand’s spokesmodel to make online ads more attractive?

Would these ‘Personalized Face Composites’ be more credible as spokesmodels in the ads?

And would such ads be more effective in increasing our purchase intent?

And let’s not even get started on user privacy. (Yes, I am looking at you Facebook!)

Welcome to the world of visceral targeting.

(H/T Austin Kleon: Jeff Koons Gazing Ball. H/T Rosie & Faris: The Doppelgänger Effect)

(Featured Image: United Colors of Benetton – Face of the City campaign )

Imagination. For Selling and Unselling

Quick Read: Evoking imagination has always been a classic trick in the marketers’ book. Let’s see some recent examples where it’s been used to sell. And to unsell.

Man-eaters and the ritual of imagination

For four years, Dutch designer Daniel Disselkoen made the same journey on the same tram route to his art academy, and realised that he had stopped looking out of the window and being curious about what he might see. So he developed a simple little real-world hack called Man-eater.

Predicated around the idea that familiarity with a subject, our environment, surroundings or routine can limit discovery, Man-eater is a simple yet compelling call to action to invoke our imagination to make extra ordinary out of the ordinary.

Is at about seeing the world through a child’s eyes? 

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood (yes, there indeed is a museum by that name!) says exactly the same thing in its recent campaign – wherein with a bit of imagination, the medium and the context become the key parts of it’s message. spaceman_aotw


(Check out the other executions at this blog post)

Banana Bunkers that look like…um.. bananas?

It appears that it doesn’t require a hell lot of imagination to see why this particular product of GroupOn turned to be its most popular post on Facebook ever! Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.28.33 PM But GroupOn’s real imaginativeness came to the forefront in what happened after the post went live.

Knowing full well of what is to come, they decided to stay ahead of the hilarity and replied each and every one of the comments on their Facebook post. Check out this snapshot of the epic comments that followed!

Now that’s some great imaginativeness to combat (and perhaps even abet) imagination!

And meanwhile else where..

Can imagination be used to ‘unsell’?

The Gun Shop‘ had recently popped up on Manhattan with a store front that read “First Time Gun Owners” in big, bold letters. The catch? Each gun in the store had been tagged with its history: from shooting a mom in Walmart to the Sandy Hook massacres. The result: imagination that just ‘unsells’!

This video captures it well.

The Gun Shop has been a pop-up demonstration created by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence – a partner of States United Against Gun Violence that seeks to make families and communities safer.

Can you think of any other examples? 

(Man-eater –  H/T Neil Perkin | Museum of Childhood – H/T L.Bhat)

Featured Image: The Gun Shop store front on Manhattan, Source

Know Thy Neighbor Nextdoor

Share it, Tweet It, Pin It, Like It, Stumble Upon It, Digg It and the list goes on..

Every conceivable kind of content that we consume on the internet today comes with explicit social networking markers.

Today with over 1000 Social Networking sites known to exist globally and 16 virtual communities with more than 100 million active users to date, Social Networks/ Virtual Communities have truly changed us and as also our definition of SELF(!). For most of the activities that we partake in our daily life like work, sports, hobbies, shopping, travel, dine, drive, and the list goes on, there is a virtual community / social network for each if it.

Now a social network built exclusively for local neighborhoods – called NextDoor is in the news for stepping into the elite territory of start ups.  On NextDoor.Com, each neighborhood is a closed social network where users have to verify their real name and address to gain membership. Once we are in, the idea is to be able to connect with our neighbors, strike conversations, while finding out everything from local deals, finding nearby help or even be alerted of neighborhood crime.


(Image Source)

Developed on the insight that The Neighborhood has always been one of the “original social networks”, it has recently raised $60m fundraising led by John Doerr, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers partner who led the IPOs of the likes of Amazon and Netscape and Tiger Global Management – prominent VC firms. (source)

This latest round of fund raising values the company at nearly $ 500 m as NextDoor.Com is slated to expand to more than the currently listed US neighborhoods on its site. Nirav Tolia, co-founder and CEO of Nextdoor, says there was already “incredible demand” abroad and goes on to say..

 “We see this whole notion of building safer and stronger communities is not an American thing at all, it is something all people share”.  

What I really like about the idea of a Neighborhood focused Social Network is the degree of relevance that can finally be attributed to the potential ads that can be placed in the network and the ways in which it can benefit all the players in the equation:

  • The Advertiser: Businesses in the locality can micro target the ‘captive’ user base in the neighborhood via their ads while also nurturing a local community of customers on an ongoing basis. The biggest opportunity here is for the SMBs.
  • The User: A user can find the most relevant offers from around her apartment rather than get bombarded by offers from across the country if not the world!
  • The Publisher: The publisher can facilitate the precious need of SMBs in the locality to micro target and reach out to their customer base in a very cost effective way, while also being able to track and optimize listings on a real time basis.

It’s almost like combining the best parts of Yelp, Craigslist, Foursquare, Path and Facebook with a liberal dash of a local flavor.  Like any other virtual community while it does come with its own privacy related nuances that need to be managed if it were to thrive across localities for the long term, one thing is nearly certain ..

We can finally get to know our neighbor. Albeit at least through the window of our screen.

PS: Two interesting things that you might want to check out:

  1.  To celebrate the ‘most neighborly holiday of the year’, Nextdoor launched just in time for this Halloween, a Treat Map to give you an insider’s guide to the best streets for treats in our neighborhood (relevant mostly to the US as of now)
  2. Funnily, Nextdoor has a page on Facebook 🙂

Taking Over The World One Mobile At A Time

These days it is not uncommon for food to get onto Facebook / Instagram or Pinterests of the world before it gets into the mouth. 

Armed with this insight, Spoon – one of the largest restaurant chains in Costa Rica created the following campaign.

Developed by GarnierBBDO, the beauty of this campaign is that it smartly builds upon an existing habit of people.  And why Facebook? Apparently, Costa Rica has one of the highest ratios of Facebook to internet users of 95% (source).

Damn smart! I’d say.

Such campaigns can be a great inspiration for restaurants and bars seeking to drive awareness and generate talkability with minimum investment and presumably a high ROI. In fact, fast food industry today is known to be one of the most represented on Instagram with a near 100% adoption rate!

Instagram Adoption by Brands per Industry

adoption-of-instagram-by-brands-per-industryFrom left to right: cars, fast food, soft drinks, apparel, telcos, retail, personal care, beer, luxury, financial institutes, insurance, technology, oil & gas

(Instagram adoption, MillwardBrown 2012 BrandZ index, Source)

And yes, Food happens to be the  #1 category of content on Pinterest too with 57% of Pinterest users known to have interacted with food-related content during 2012. (source)

Now, let’s take one step back in the process and look at another emergent habit

Even before we tag the food in our plates on our Social Media pages, what do we do? We place our order with the waiter/bartender. However this poor waiter today vies for our attention with – surprise, surprise –  our mobile phones.  Thanks to our emergent habit of ‘checking in’ also called ‘location tagging’.

In fact, during the two year period ended in September 2012, Facebook has seen 17 billion location tagged posts including check ins (source). And to put that number into perspective, using May 2013 statistics, this would equal every single user of Facebook in the world checking in/ location tagging at least 8 times in an year over 2011 and 2012!

Understandably Facebook wants to make this key statistic- that of every user around the world checking in on Facebook – a reality. So after a pilot that was successfully run for over an year at over 1,000 SMEs in the US, Facebook – on October 2nd 2013 – has formalized an arrangement with CISCO. Named as ‘Facebook Wi-Fi‘ program, it converts retailers’ routers in the US into public Wi-Fi hotspots accessible to customers of the merchant establishment for free on one apparent condition. The deal? Go to the retailer’s/restaurant’s Facebook page and check in, and you have the Internet for free!

In other words, the three-step Facebook Wi-Fi system, which can be deployed by merchants running a Cisco router setup, lets people connect to a venue’s Wi-Fi, launch their browser, and click on the blue check-in button to gain unfettered access to the Internet.

Facebook WIFI

The deal for the merchant establishment?

  • Obviously each customer check in generates visibility leading to additional exposure that could pull in more customers or inspire more ‘likes’
  • While Facebook shares with the merchant an aggregate of anonymous demographic data such as age, gender, and interests on customers who sign-in to Facebook Wi-Fi, which they can potentially use for more effective targeting of their upcoming Facebook advertising campaigns

For Facebook, the Wi-Fi-with-check-in initiative is part of a broader plan to attack the local market by encouraging merchants to set up and maintain Pages on the social network and more importantly to seed – in the general public – the habit of ‘checking in’ on Facebook and thereby become the default gateway for the Internet.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world…

Chances are that you would have heard of Facebook Zero. If not, you should read this post right away. Essentially in 2010 Facebook collaborated with several mobile operators around the world and worked out an arrangement whereby the end users of these mobile networks can access – a faster and a free version of Facebook for your mobile, no matter which phone it is –  without any data charges.  People will only pay for data charges when they view photos or when they leave to browse other mobile sites. So, when they click to view a photo or browse another mobile site a notification page appears to confirm that they will be charged if they want to leave

When this was launched in 2010, Facebook signed up 50 mobile carriers in 45 countries. The following image shows how Facebook made itself accessible on every class of phone through this initiative:


How Facebook made itself accessible on every class of phone (Image source)

A smart way to drive usage of Facebook in emerging markets where the average monthly spend on mobile connectivity, which is often just voice and text, is 8-12% of the average take-home pay of a cell phone user. (source) In fact in just 10 months after its launch, Facebook Zero has become so popular in Africa that the site was said to have driven the adoption of broadband internet, just so users can have faster access to all those pictures and status updates!

Read this brilliant post on Quartz on how Facebook is conquering the world one mobile at a time.

Today, with more mobiles on earth than are people, and with smartphone penetration exponentially increasing in the emerging markets, the story has but just begun – after all there are 250 million Facebook users in Asia , more than on any other continent, and yet that’s just 6.5% of the population. In Africa, its penetration is less than 5%

And then Google launches Free Zone.

And the battle for world domination continues one mobile at a time.

Top things I Learnt About You


The following BrandedNoise posts are my 6 personal favorites for 2012: (in no particular order)

1. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: On Skeuomorphs

2. Stories, Grommets & Epipheos

3. The Worst Hotel In The World

4. Social Dissonance: Blasphemy or Opportunity

5. The New Theory of Constraints

6. Marmite, Mouthwash and Microsoft

Besides thanks to Google Analytics, it was immensely gratifying for me to be able to learn fascinating facts about you – the visitors of the blog in 2012.

The Top 10 visitor locations for BrandedNoise areSingapore, India, US, UK, UAE, Philippines, Canada, Australia, Japan & Germany. Of whom 52% have been New Visitors and 48% have been Returning Visitors!!


Safari, Chrome and Firefox were the top 3 browsers via which you accessed BrandedNoise (with IE being a distant 4th!). No wonder.

Mobile Access:

iPad, Blackberry and iPhone have been the top 3 mobile devices through which the blog was accessed during the year (with Samsung Tabs and Mobiles being subsequent devices in the order). And No –  My mobile device is not even listed in the top 10 (and I access BrandedNoise from my phone quite often!)


Google Organic Searches, ‘Direct Browser Access’ (special thanks to those who have bookmarked my blog), Facebook Referrals & Linkedin Referrals were the top sources of the traffic generated to the blog. It is super fascinating to even be able to see the actual ‘keywords’ searched for by the visitors who eventually ended up on the blog! 

There are many other insights that I could glean from my Analytics Page and I am sure these would go a long a way in helping me make your valuable time spent on BrandedNoise more worthwhile in the days to come.

Thank you again for your encouragement and words of support through out the year. You have been a huge inspiration. As is the world of Brands, Innovation and Design.

Wish You a Successful and a Purposeful 2013!

The Job Hunt – Part 3/3

Check out my previous two posts for the part 1 and 2 of this series.

For many job openings, getting the foot into the door – getting recruited – tends to be the most tricky part. Obviously different companies have different ways of going about this. 3 latest trends that I see playing out in the job hunt marketplace:

  • Recruitment by Resonance.
  • Recruitment by Challenge.
  • Recruitment by Algorithm.

This post shall be on the third trend.

Recruitment By Algorithm

In a recent interview with the renowned business psychologist, Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, he shares an interesting insight on the evolution of the internet. From a ‘consumer/user’ perspective, he says, there are three significant stages in the internet era. Loosely put they can be called as:

  1. Knowledge Era: This was around 1998 when Google became mainstream. We searched for something on Google and the first hit magically turned out to be the answer to what we were looking for – this was a breakthrough from past search engines and a breakthrough in machine learning systems.
  2. Social Era: This was around 2004 with the introduction of Facebook, when the focus shifted from retrieving information to ‘retrieving people’. Whereas Google connected consumers to information, Facebook (and other such Social media portals) connect consumers to each other and make ‘products’ out of consumers.
  3. Social Knowledge Era: The third era, which has only just about begun, combines the two previous ones: it is the era where people can instantly capture and aggregate all the information on a given topic. And vice versa –  all information about people out there can be aggregated and captured. 
Welcome to the era where ego surfing – self googling — is now more important than updating your CV.
As a consequence of spending so much time online, we now leave traces of our personality everywhere. This social media foot print that we leave each single day (think of all the info that we leave on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Path, Renren, Orkut,  Amazon, Gmail, Tripadvisor, or any multitude of other sites each passing day and you get the idea) manifests itself as a folio of Digital Reputation that we build over time.
Given this, and as aptly noted in the HBR blogpost, we are stepping into a time when employers are likely to find their future leaders in cyberspace owing to 3 reasons:
  1. The web makes recruiting easier for employers and would-be employees
  2. The web makes recruiting less biased and less clubby
  3. Web analytics (speak of Big Data) can help recruiters become more efficient

Result: we will soon witness the proliferation of machine learning systems that automatically match candidates to specific jobs and organizations – not just based on our preferences/qualifications and experience (like the current day job portals) but on the basis of our digital footprint that is much bigger and more complicated that we can ever imagine.

For starters, how many times did you google your new boss or colleague? And that begets the question, how many times did you ‘investigate’ yourself and how many times did you reverse engineer your Digital Reputation… the recent past?

Stories, Grommets and Epipheos

This is the latest in the series of cartoons by Hugh MacLeod as featured on his blog GapingVoid. While I totally agree with his point on how conversations change when the markets change, I want to add further to it or take the liberty of phrasing it in a slightly different way by saying “all evolutions in marketing are evolutions of stories, the narratives, or chronicles”.

KONY has been phenomenally viral. It is a story well told.

Charity Water tugs at your heart. It is a story well told.

Innocent makes you look at smoothie in a new light. It is a story well told.

Stories simplify, humanize and lend emotion to messages about products, services and causes and thereby make them unique and authentic for us. When a brand tells me its story, it plants its idea in my mind and thereby becomes more potent. When I know the story, I suddenly begin to care. That’s why more and more videos in Kickstarter are about a ‘story’, that’s why people go to ‘About Us’ page in most sites/blogs that they visit, that’s why you might find yourself intently reading the story of a restaurant as printed on the first page of its menu even before you get to the appetizers section, that’s why you might even relish and appreciate the coffee at your local coffee store. That’s why Facebook brand pages with a well designed timeline tend to come across as more interesting and humane narratives.

As a marketer I find this to be one of the most inspiring tenets of the practice. When I realize that it is all about story telling, things suddenly seem to take newer shapes of significance and bring newer things into perspective. It then begets questions from a consumer standpoint and demands for a spiel that a consumer can care about.  That I can relate and relate to as I share it with my friends. Branding as Story telling isn’t to be confused with some smartly concocted campaign ideas or executions. It is much more than that and encompasses all the elements of the mix and binds them to a unique, authentic core.

I am definitely not an expert at this but there are tons of resources available that offer help on the science and art behind branding as story telling. That said, let me highlight 3 interesting trends that are panning out in the realm of story telling in various realms.

1. Luxury brands are showing greater proclivity to adopt story telling strategies: Some examples: Vitra – the maker of master piece furniture is turning to story telling – read the story here. Read an account of Lady Dior Saga in this post on Luxury Story Telling.  And finally, the Chanel No5 film – need I say more!

2. Story telling at a personal branding level: For starters, I could argue that most brands in high involvement categories that you buy today, you do so with a conscious, painstaking thought and consideration on what story it could tell of you. As an other example read a trend briefing here regarding the shift from brands telling a story to brands helping consumers tell ‘status-yielding’ stories about themselves to other consumers.

3. Content consumption as story telling: Visual story telling is fast becoming a new standard in content curation and consumption. ‘Infographics’ are redefining this field rapidly. In fact it is said that over the past 2 years, infographic search volumes have increased by over 800%. There is even a site full of ‘visual summaries’ of this year’s SxSW event!

Obviously, story telling is no more about just making films, writing screenplays or devising plots. It is much much than that and the following 3 examples are a testimony to it:

Daily Grommet: This innovative site uses the art of story telling to sell a product a day. A new product is featured every day in a video with a story and an account on why this product has made the cut on this carefully curated video blog.

Epipheo: There is this ‘story telling studio’ that helps people/companies/brands tell stories about their new ideas, products or even technologies with what they call as ‘epipheos’. I would strongly urge you to see its video on Siri here and you would know why Epiheo has clients like Google, Facebook, etc.

And finally there is Get Storied that is all about teaching entrepreneurs how to tell their story. Never before was story telling so critical a part of pitching as business plans, revenue models and risk mitigation strategies had been for VCs and investors by budding entrepreneurs. Story telling is THE thing in pitching now.

Now, that begets the question – what is your story?

Pillars of Digital Influence and what it means for G+

As per the recently released report by the Altimeter group, there are 3 pillars of Digital Influence –  Reach, Relevance and Resonance.

(Image Source: Altimeter)

While it’s hugely instructive as a framework, what interests me is that can potentially explain many trends that we see play out in the digital arena today. Let’s take Google +.

Google+ does a great job at building strong foundations given its legacy and thereby straddles 2 of the 3 pillars of Digital Influence:

  • Reach:  G+ rides on a phenomenal user base that Google has built through Gmail
  • Relevance: given that most web journeys start with a search and given the dominant market share that google has in this domain, G+ can naturally syndicate itself through these multiple touch points and hence thereby have the ability to target with relevance (eg: highly targeted ads etc)

That said, there is a critical pillar that G+ is yet to figure out – Resonance. Why?

My hypothesis as follows

First let’s consider 2 obvious facts about social networks and how they scale:

Social Networks Scale with participation: It is known that the worth of a social network increases exponentially with the growth in the user base. In other words, the more friends of mine I see on a particular social network, there are greater chances that I buy into it. In fact that’s precisely why I ‘graduated’ from orkut to facebook a few years ago.

Social Networks scale with time: Secondly, the more time I spend on a social networking site, the more valuable it becomes for me, simply because over the years I would have built a network of friends, interests, groups etc. that I am interested in.

As a corollary to this – given that garnering a critical mass user base becomes the holy grail of any social networking site, it gets all the more elusive progressively for the newer social networking sites  as users find themselves within very high exit barriers.

So what does it mean in the context of Facebook Vs Google+?

Inertia: As facebook users, while I, along with millions of others have built our own social networks over the years and have started creating our own digital footprints, Google+ now asks me for my willingness, time, effort and patience to painstakingly recreate a similar network on Google+! Does this offer any scale for me as a user? Hardly.

The Proposition: Even in terms of its core proposition, G+ offers me a very similar value as a social network as that being offered by facebook and doesn’t offer me anything differentiated (like say Linkedin). Does that entice me as a user? Hardly – unless I want to review it as a techie.

With all the recent news about Google+ over hauling its design of the interface and arguably even doing a great job at that, it doesn’t seem to be moving the needle in the right direction for G+.

It is here, I guess Pinterest has done an extremely smart thing – it offered a new platform for content creation and sharing and not necessarily a new social network. It just rides on the social networking footprint of facebook and focuses on what it does best – pinning!

And that could partly explain why Facebook finds Instagram as a very attractive acquisition – as it sees it more as an opportunity to acquire the ‘most valuable’ user base (most Instagram users are naturally content creators and not mere spectators or joiners) than as an acquisition of a photo-editing and sharing software.

It is really interesting and extremely instructive to see how Mark Z and his aides are mapping out Facebook as a Social By Design edifice strongly predicated on the 3 pillars of Digital Influence. Result: an enhanced social experience for users and value for marketers.

Social Dissonance – Blasphemy or Opportunity?


I am sure that most people who use Facebook must have felt a pressing need for a  an ‘unlike’ button at least once so far. There are a lot of irritatingly clichéd, painfully faked, ostentatiously humane kind of shares, messages, pics and videos out there so much so that you would sometimes cringe at even a hint of such posts. Give me an ‘unlike’ button or better still ‘hate’ button – you might yearn, at such times!

The bad news obviously is that Facebook bans even the usage of the words ‘hate’ or ‘unlike’ in the Apps and hence developers are told that it is a strict ‘NO GO’, evidently in the spirit of fostering more inclusive communities, curating  conversations and triggering engagements that are more positive in nature.The good news however is that very recently, a new kind of App has come into the ‘Social AppSphere’ that kind of comes close to this ‘dislike’ / ‘hate’ kind of intent. Records say that it became so controversially popular that it had got more than 10,000 users in just 36 hrs.  Enter EnemyGraph.

Created by a Dean Terry and his Grad Student Bradley Griffith (at University of Texas at Dallas), EnemyGraph essentially is a Facebook App that lets you identify, create and share your enemies list with your friends online. I have to admit that when I first heard of it I wasn’t very impressed by the idea. It smacked of something that’s trying hard to be innovative by deliberately trying to think different. But before pursuing the story further on the WWW, I froze in my heels and tried to argue with myself to see if there is something more to it.

Let’s get back to the basics – What are communities? and how are communities built? Wikipedia defines a community as a group of people that share common values and are bound by ‘social cohesion’. Now these vibes of cohesion or a shared set of values/beliefs are nothing but those that are created out of very strong affiliations – affiliations that are overwhelmingly positive or negative in sentiment.

So any strong sentiment that is overwhelmingly positive or negative in nature turns out to be a potential binding force for bringing together groups of people as strong communities. This very insight must have triggered this ingenuous attempt to foster and leverage upon the seeds of social dissonance planted in the social media landscape.

At a very simplistic level, assume that you like Justin Bieber, but one of your friends lists him as an “enemy.” EnemyGraph will send you a “dissonance report,” pointing out the difference and offering it up for conversation. What is actually happening here? Dissonance always tends to capture people’s attention. So when I know that something that I like, is hated by my friend (or vice-versa) it  makes me pause for a while (even in the occasional social media ‘rush hour madness’) and compels me to reflect upon this new equation, this new conversational dynamic and makes a participant out of me. Isn’t that cool?

Sadly the founders themselves feel that this could soon be seen as a blasphemy by Facebook as it could go against their social media philosophy, and hence fear that it could soon be shut down by Mark Z and his aides.

I, for one believe that there is a phenomenal opportunity in the idea – as a consumer and more importantly as a marketer. Interesting co-incidence that my previous blog post was about brands that have sought to create a distinctive and (in some cases like Marmite) an almost irresistible kind of proposition by using a HATRED related angle.

Let’s take Marmite as an example.To take their positioning that you either love it or hate it, to the next level, it could potentially have ‘fans’ (or let’s’ say active participants of a community) who declare their authentic affiliations towards the brand on their Facebook page. Tons would love/like it (as the pouring online evidence shows). Many could even hate it (as the brand communications boldly state). Just imagine. If there were to be an EnemyGraph kind of platform that helps the brand to capture these strong dual affiliations online, wouldn’t that be a very powerful source that truly reinforces its fundamental brand truth and thereby its iconic appeal?

From Marmite’s part, agreed that it requires a meticulously careful management of this love/hate relationship as it pans out in real time online and a very mature capability of curating content around that community in the over all interest of the brand.  Agreed that it could be a leap of faith for the brand (as things can very rapidly go downhill online if mismanaged). But we are speaking about a brand as iconic as Marmite, a brand that has literally taken a leap of faith nearly 3 decades ago and amazingly embraced the magical possibilities of a proposition like “You either love it or hate it”. Aren’t we 🙂

Lasltly, to sign off and to quote Dean Terry..

“You learn a lot about people by what they dislike.This app opens the door to wondering if there’s a way to draw people together against something that in turn results in positive social change, or at least brings [people] together in new ways.”

And yes, do check out the EnemyGraph site, it even has a “Trending List of Enemies”. And guess who is in the top 5 list? Internet Explorer – the browser that you loved to hate!

A 100m dash to reach out to the consumers. And the winners are..

I am sure most of you would already know that Facebook has introduced a number of new features for brands which could potentially redefine the way they have been ‘traditionally’ advertising/reaching out/featuring their brand presence on Facebook.

(wow.. what everyone was doing till last week is now traditional!)

For starters,  since just 2 days (29th Feb 2012), brands are now allowed to have a ‘timeline’ kind of presence and hence they can re-layout their page using a cover picture. Click here to read about  the 6 major changes that marketers should know about changes in facebook.

Reading this I thought, there could never be a better time to identify which brands are really ‘tech savvy’ or lightning fast when it comes to rolling out a change for their consumers, than now.

So I spent some time today morning to manually search for most popular brands across categories and realized that only a handful of them have put in their cover picture on facebook (something that could be representative of how fast a brand reacts to change ‘digitally’)

Following is a  compilation of various brands that have proven to be very nimble on their foot by upgrading their pages to the timeline interface, representative of which is their cover picture.

And ofcourse, the brand facebook would also have it’s own timeline, and this is their cover picture.

What also struck me was the nimbleness of the Indian beer brand ‘Kingfisher’ (despite its promoters being stuck in …let’s just say an unenviable position). But way to go Kingfisher!


Note that for every brand you see, I have also searched for most of their competitors across categories, and it is a telling sign when their competitors are not in the list (for eg,. Nike updated its facebook page, but Adidas didn’t yet. Coke did. Pepsi didn’t yet. Jaguar did, BMW and Audi didn’t yet…). And to further validate, I pulled out a numbere of top 10 lists of brands on Facebook, and most of the above brands figure in them. No wonder they are so popular with their fan base.

This exercise was exciting as it was incredibly easy to see right in front of your eyes, evidence of how really fast brands can be and should be digitally. When you are on FB during the weekend, try doing this. You could soon lose track of time.

Note that this list is as of 2nd March 2012 1:45 PM (Sing time). I know that as we speak more brands would be jumping onto the new facebook bandwagon, and even the above brands could update their cover picture regularly.

Is your brand/ or you already on the ‘timeline’ bandwagon?

PS: Bonus read on ‘Brands as people: on facebook’, here