Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

5 Minute Futurama: Hosted Micro-Blogging

5minutefuturamThis is post one of a new feature on Black Match, where, like Nicholas Cage in Next, we peer just a few minutes into the future.

Hosted (even branded!) micro-blogging. Think Twitter w/a purpose – cooler, faster, stronger.  How about a private “tweetspace” where volunteers or contributors speak up about or around a particular event.  Or how about a public tweestpace that’s branded/customized to a particular company or cause, where tweets from anyone who cares or contributes shows up.  Imagine if ESPN created a private micro-blogging platform for their fantasy leagues: 140 characters + trash talk = gold, jerry! gold! What a powerful way to track cause engagement (and btw brand engagement.)  Yes, Twitter has already been engaged to drive charity, but social technology that helps brands and their causes both benefit is still virgin territory. There are a couple of horses entering this race: twitteronia and  Of course, this has worlds of possibilities for regular users, just like those who have made wordpress and ning successful; but as a marketer I’m really excited about the possibility for brands.  And the really cool thing is that could integrate your regular tweetstream into your private tweets (so you’re not running back and forth between two places.) Those brands or groups that seem to inspire or form natural communities are a no brainer for this kind of functionality. Think moms! for instance or Big Ten fans or skiers or, hell, even WOW players. You add some kind mobile accessibility of top of this and *shazam* you got yourself some of that nitroglycerine kids. For more future-peering, reading of entrails and general brand astrology we can be reached @

Filed under: social media, twitter, Uncategorized, , , , ,

You Are Not a Brand

smarmy“I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!”

This is a pet peeve.  In fact, peeve may be too soft a description for my feelings on this issue. What “issue” you ask?   Oh well, that would be this whole notion which has taken root over the past seven or ten years that perfectly normal people should act as if they are boxes of detergent.  This whole idea of, “what’s your brand?” and “what’s your positioning?” as if the divine combination of soul and intellect is now the moral equivalent of Cheerios.  I had some hope that the New Depression would kill this off but no such luck.  Hey, if you’re Lebron James it’s fine. I get it. $150 million. You’re a corporation. You’re a mensch. You have people.  You’re Oprah? Understood.  Multi-platform proposition.  You help elect presidents. Enough said.  Even Donny Deutsch.  I guess…so.  Well, you had a television show. Fair enough.


2nd Vice President of Sales at Avirtex? Not so fast.  Not with that haircut.

I could continue ranting like this for the rest of the post but there is a (slightly) larger point to be made.  As the web becomes more social and as brands cede more control to people; and, really, as brands start to act more like people what with the twittering and the facebookery and so forth. In that kind of landscape it doesn’t make any sense for the real people to continue acting like brands.  Because plainly that’s not what we want from our brands these days. What we want is a sense of social responsibility. What we want is a sense of foible. What we want, dear Brutus, is a sense of HUMANITY from our brands. And if that’s what we want from Clorox Green then we certainly prefer humanity in the actual humans.

You take that all the way to its philosophical endpoint. All the way to its QED. And what it means is that we are approaching an online social geography where brands are secondary to the people or “friends’ who use and recommend them to us and, beyond that, the value of a “brand” is only as good as its ability to live up to its WOM.  Or it’s only as good as the people who have the name on their business cards.  I’m looking at you, Washington Mutual.  This has always been true. We’re not shaking the cosmos here; but the facts got obscured back when we still had banks and U.S. made cars.  People used to actually talk to you (vodka soda in hand) about their “brand.” And not in a funny “Sex and the City” way either, but in a deadly serious I think I’m Martha Stewart way. And the terrifying bit? This self-delusion among white-collar professionals continues to this day.

I’m looking at you, Linkedin.

Self-branding is a silent killer.  Seems right in the moment. “Oh, I have to be a ‘go getter’ brand to get that job.”  Really?  What a mercenary and cynical approach to life that seems to be.  I’m speaking as someone who embraces the Great Game of advertising and marketing in all its tiny glory.  Honestly, I like my brands just as they are and I prefer people to simply be people.  For those of you not offended by this rant and who would like help with you actual, inanimate “brands” please contact one of the super geniuses (

Filed under: Self Help, , , ,

Social Media and the New Social Responsibility

givingIt’s one of those trends clients are tired of hearing us drone on about – that one of the most social (and if you must, “viral”) activities companies and brands can practice is cause related marketing.  And conversely, non-profit brands and corporate social responsibility are intensely digital/social propositions. The reality is  that given the state of the economy more people and families than ever find themselves on the roles of the unemployed and subsequently more “in need” than ever before.  And, honestly, it’s this state of affairs that presents brands or NGOs or CSR departments with an opportunity to make a deeper emotional connection with their consumers/stakeholders.

Brands, like people, are increasingly being judged by what they do and not simply what they say in advertisements.  The upside of being held to this higher standard is that those brands that deliver are rewarded with greater consumer commitment than mere :30 television ads could have purchased.  You combine this shift in consumer approval of action over “advertisement” with digitally driven succession of control to consumers and you’re left with a pretty powerful sweet spot.  A sweet spot where brands that invite consumers into a conversation “win,” and brands that invite consumer into a conversation and having something meaningful to say (hello causes) “really win.” Why? Because a conversation that matters is one that you’ll invite your friends to participate in and not feel guilty about.

There’s also the Obama effect. The ability of technology or social media to efficiently aggregate inputs (comments, conversations, contributions.)  This is the ability to go beyond even the accumulation of checks from individuals into the rarefied realm of micro-gifts or micro-payments on a social media platform and make them cost effective and meaningful.

Who’s doing it right? Well, one platform that gives brands an easy way out is Facebook.  What’s that you say? You’re tired of hearing about FB, well deal with it, because I can count on one hand the number of brands that are doing it right. And of those most have a cause/charity related component or angle at some point. To wit:

“Feeding America.” Amazingly strong and consistent voice on FB, and online in general.  In the sea of so many dead brand pages that never update and never talk to their “fans” let along consumers, this NGO stands out as a brand that has strong social media presence. By the way a presence they maximize with clever applications and extensions – see “bread art” and the Kraft “Feeding America” challenge as good examples of social media in action.  The FB app “Causes” remains one of their most consistently powerful platforms for brand calls to action. See “Ben & Jerry’s.”

Great. You’re intrigued but wonder what’s next? What to do now? Well, one thing we like to do is peer a few minutes (let’s call it five) into the future. Why five? Because any further and it’s not useful to those of us who need to generate action (sales, interest, activity etc.) TODAY.  So, five minutes out, here’s what we see:

Branded micro-blogging. Think Twitter but cooler, faster, stronger.  How about a private “tweetspace” where volunteers or contributors speak up about or around a particular event.  Or how about a public tweestpace that’s branded/customized to a particular company or cause, where tweets from anyone who cares or contributes shows up.  What a powerful way to track cause engagement (and btw brand engagement.)  Yes, Twitter has already been engaged to drive charity, but social technology that helps brands and their causes both benefit is still virgin territory.

Cause Communities. Friendfeed for the charity set. Imagine a private social net or even a branded FB page where content from everyone touching a particular cause is aggregated.  Think video feeds from the organic farm you sponsor in Mexico, or micro posts from the youth volunteers in NYC mashed up with the corporate blog about the entire program. Cool.

Do Better Now. Like I said before. Very few brands have their FB geography in order let along the things that are five minutes into the future. I’d argue for getting that online territory sorted first.  Get your FB or Tumblr or whatever page/community sorted properly and integrated with your corporate assets and launch from there. By the way…call us if you need help with this!

There’s a reason casuse marketing has exploded at the same time that the web is becoming more social.  While there’s some concern about the potential for mis-application. As the level of chatter increases it’s harder to filter out the good stuff.  Those brands that are clearly aligned with the good stuff – products and also causes they support will tend to rise to the top of the global conversation. For deeper discussions about how social media can amplify your cause marketing please connect with us at or

Filed under: social media, , , , , , ,

How to Find Great iPhone Apps

appstoreHere’s the honest truth: finding good apps takes work. The best ways to do it are to link in to a group of like-minded people via twitter or subscribe to RSS feeds that are experts in the genres you’re looking for. Then filter by iPhone app. Developers are frustrated because of the signal-to-noise ratio is so high, and Apple’s people have no idea how to parse and promote, so there are literally thousands of developers tearing their hair out, my cousin being one of them.

So listing a group of “best” iPhone apps is like listing a group of “best” songs. It’s so diffuse as to be meaningless. You need to find your passion first, then see, in the parlance of our times, if “there’s an app for that.” Instead of looking at solutions, you should be looking at interests and opportunities. There the magic lies.

Finding the right iPhone app is like good sleuthing. You can’t rely on lists, or promotions, or rankings, because the definition of what a good iPhone app is keeps changing. If you look at the apps that came out when the App Store debuted, there wouldn’t be a single one that you’d be proud of today. Apps are disposable things, even the useful ones. So when you look for “good” apps, you’re really looking for the one you want right now. You don’t need iPhone apps, because you were getting by just fine without the Jesus Phone.

Apps are personal, and specific. The best developers understand that, and don’t put out stuff like iFart. So, the best way to look isn’t hey-I’ll-try-the-free-popular-ones or going by Apple’s Hot News releases. It’s by asking yourself what you want a phone to do, and find a developer who shares your vision. Then follow them relentlessly.

Better yet, make your own. Because six months from now, we’ll be astonished we put up with crap like this.

I know this isn’t a convenient list, because it’s more complicated than the question appears: it’s truer than a series of pat answers. Apps are a personal thing. Everyone knows about the Google and Facebook apps. Nobody knows about the terrible dreck that deserves to be shot. Your mission is to find the golden, personal, useful, beautiful layer in between. (since we’re not complete sadists, may we also suggest the following: Appsniper, Appbeacon, Apptism,Unofficial Apple Weblog, Ars Technica, 148Apps.)

Filed under: mobile, , , , ,

Peanuts, by Charles Bukowski

peanutschuckThis amuses us.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,


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