Teachable Moments from Yahoo Event with Scott Bedbury

I took some notes for the blog at a Yahoo event I attended, "Engaging Advocates through Search and Social Media" at the New York Public Library Tuesday afternoon. It had three parts:

The focus shifted from presentation to presentation. Bedbury had the best sound bites, not surprisingly. His presentation was essentially highlights from his book but with video clips, including commercials that didn’t quite go as planned. One of the funnier examples was a Nike commercial from 1990 starring African tribesmen wearing Nike shoes, and a tribesman at the end said something that was translated into "Just Do It." Apparently though, that commercial only aired once, as NY Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott called him up the following day with a linguist on the line who noted the tribesman really said, "These are the wrong size. My feet hurt." (A similar version of this story with added details is told on the Snopes myth-debunking site).

Bedbury repeatedly urged the audience to consider such gaffes as learning experiences. He didn’t fire his ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy, which wound up growing from a mom & pop shop to one of the must successful in the world. He stressed advertisers to applaud innovation and reward it, while forgiving some mistakes, as long as the agency doesn’t make the same mistake twice. His recurring mantra: "Find those teachable moments."

Random fun fact from Bedbury: Starbucks has been the #1 place for first dates six years running. As someone who was in the dating world in the not-too-distant past, I can see why, especially for online dating where you don’t know the person at all.

Back to the event… Bedbury said the best way to be unremarkable is to pre-test all ideas. "The lack of accountability drives mediocrity," he said, referring to how a marketer will be quick to use a focus group for an ad or marketing campaign, and then blame the messenger if the ad falls flat.

So how can you be remarkable?

  • Relevancy
  • Creativity
  • Emotional Connection

Interestingly, search marketing takes care of point #1 right away. The landing page and surrounding marketing must help shoulder the rest, though search can plant the seeds for creativity and emotion.

Bedbury also advocated marketers using the "triple bottom line" concept, which accounts for:

  • Profit
  • Impact on people
  • Impact on the environment

See the link above for a detailed Wikipedia entry that assesses the pros and cons.

That’s all I’ve got for Bedbury’s portion. As for the research and panel, my note-taking wasn’t that comprehensive (or legible, for that matter), so you’ll have to look to see if this event is coming to a city near you. Again, if you want more from Bedbury without the video, check out his book.