Here’s the latest edition of the newsletter. While I post much of the newsletter here, some updates such as jobs are exclusively available to subscribers. Sign up now to make sure you receive it.Why do the losers always want to save us from ourselves?
“Loser” defined: One who is not winning. One who lost. One who is not in contention in their category.
That’s why Microsoft came out with the Windows 7 phone ad campaign in 2010, well after it lost in the smartphone category. The campaign declared, “It’s time for a phone to save us from our phones.”
It remains the most mind-boggling ad campaign I’ve come across. Microsoft wanted people to use their phones, and use their phones exclusively. It came from a point of jealousy that everyone loved Apple and Android devices more. Microsoft’s solution was still a phone that did everything every other phone did and still does. The latest smartphone in 2018 may be faster with a better camera and more apps, but it isn’t markedly different than the smartphones we had in 2008.
Making the phone several times bigger as a laptop alternative was different, and tablets became a viable (albeit now declining) category. Making the phone several times smaller and putting on your wrist was different, and now smartwatches aren’t ubiquitous but are a viable device category. Taking the screen away from the internet so that you just have a stationary, voice-activated speaker is radically different, and that could actually save us from our phones (my four-year-old daughter will willingly forgo some Netflix time to play freeze-dance through our Amazon Echo – and she gets a great workout in the process).
And now we have Palm, announcing “a tiny phone to keep you away from your phone.” It’s basically the size of a first-generation iPhone, with a touchscreen, app store, and camera. The biggest thing going for it is that it has Steph Curry as a pitchman. I’d buy dentures or feminine hygiene products from Curry, even though I safely have no need for either, because he is that likable, and it’s not like the Knicks will meet the Warriors in the finals in Curry’s lifetime. As for the baby phone (cue Palm on 60 Minutes: “I am not a baby!”), it’s just another tiny phone – too big for your wrist, too redundant for your pocket.
I like Screen Time in the latest iOS which locks down apps when you’re supposed to be asleep or winding down (I’d love a feature that tweets when you choose to violate this, so I’d have to grapple with all my followers knowing, “David just unlocked Pokemon Quest for 15 more minutes at 1:12am”). I’m all for being saved from bad habits, and handset manufacturers have engineered devices to be more addictive to encourage our worse habits. Only now that they’ve maximized that addiction is there a business case for them to give more control to consumers, who will mostly ignore those controls anyway and get the dopamine hit from those tweets, emails, and 1am Pokemon matches. Want to save yourself from your phone? Emulate Curry and shoot some hoops. A basketball or chef’s knife or paperback book could save you from your phone. Another phone won’t.
If a startup tried creating this Palm device, no one would cover it. If Palm didn’t pay Curry his Bay Area-inflated rates to be the face of this campaign, few others would pay attention (Curry’s also an investor). By the time CES rolls around and I’m assuming Palm showcases this at some oversized booth to make the phone look even tinier, everyone will have moved on. I’d sooner bet on the BlackBerry coming back because at least it is a differentiated product — and I still can’t type on a touchscreen, where iOS wants to replace every word with “duck” – writing “what a ducking jerk” or “that was such a duck move.”
Please, let this be the last thing any of us have to write about Palm until it comes out with a differentiated product. In the words of the immortal Tom Petty, even the losers get ducky sometimes, but this is just some ducked up hail Mary of a last gasp from a company that doesn’t even give a duck as to whether their campaign makes any sense.
That has nothing to do with what I’m ducking of myself these days, but I’ll ask you anyway – what are you making of yourself?
PS: Many of you have reached out about Luke Haseloff since his sudden passing last month, and I know he touched so many others who subscribe. In case you haven’t seen this and it’s of interest, the memorial service has been planned for Sunday, with details on Facebook.
PS2: There are a lot more additions to the Wanted section below this week. Scroll all the way down to see if you can potentially help someone; some of these are business opportunities for the right person.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
LEARN. TRY. SHARE.
THE STATE OF B2B CONTENT MARKETING
The Content Marketing Institute did some content marketing and is marketing its market research about content marketing. Apparently, B2B content marketers are putting their audience’s informational needs first. There are a lot of charts here for people who like content marketing full of charts about content marketing.
CHECK YOUR FACEBOOK SECURITY
Are you affected by the Facebook hack? Just in case you’re not sure, here’s the link. Facebook writes, “Your privacy is incredibly important to us, and we’re very sorry this happened.” I can’t stop thinking about the episode of The Office with the screw-up at the paper mill; this feels like the start of a Michael Scott apology.
ISO CAO (IN SEARCH OF THE CHIEF ANALOG OFFICER)
Mark Avnet, way up there in my PCHOF (Past Colleague Hall of Fame) rankings, offers a modest proposal of sorts: the role of the Chief Analog Officer. I love this. He writes, “Businesses and schools tend to focus on how to exist in a ‘digital world.’ We learn to incorporate technology into our lives. We have Digital departments and Chief Digital Officers, entire ‘digital’ agencies and companies focused on exploring technology. But most of us aren’t learning to ‘be analog’ anymore.” Read more on LinkedIn.
HOW SENIORS CAN SHAPE THE FUTURE OF TRANSIT
This is a remarkable story about research on how free Lyft rides changed the quality of life for seniors. Consider this quote from USC’s Leslie Saxon: “What really determines survival in an aging population is socialization–it’s any trip out of the house, and how active you are. That is the No. 1 determinant of basically who lives and who dies.” This is a controlled Lyft pilot, but it’s pretty much perfect marketing for Lyft which tries to be the kinder, gentler ride-sharing option (we can separately discuss whether it is). While the retail cost of seniors’ transit usage here is $400/month and thus a luxury many people can’t afford, it’s important in terms of understanding how can benefit most from technological changes. Say by 2025 or 2030, self-driving cars become commonplace. A lot of 20- and 30-somethings think about how that changes their freedom on the road and the fun of driving. In the situation described in this article, it could change whether someone homebound visits the doctor or a loved one. Even if many drivers wind up out of work – which could have other catastrophic consequences, and I don’t take that lightly, – there still could be some upside for those with less mobility, complicating the societal cost-benefit analysis.
NAVIGATING DESIRE LINES WITH STARCOM’S BOHB BLAIR
As a former Starcom’er (when MRY reported into them), it was fun to interview Chief Experience Officer Bohb Blair and get his take on the role of desire lines in marketing. I love writing pieces where I get to learn a ton in the process. One downside: they nixed my question comparing the two kinds of CEO roles since Chief Experience Officers are apparently CXOs and not CEOs. One day, I want to become a Chief Product Placement Positioning Officer so I can be called C3PO. Goodnight, everybody; don’t forget the two drink minimum! (Yes, I used that C3PO line on Twitter first, but only after writing it here.)
Don’t believe me? Just watch.
Want to include your event below? Just reply with the details.
AN EVENING WITH AD HERETICS
New York, NY
This $10 event is worth at least $11.50. I found out about it through Bob Hoffman’s newsletter and look forward to hearing what he, Doc Searls, and others have to say. If you’re going, maybe we can sneak in flasks and do shots every time someone says something that makes us question everything we’ve done in our careers. (Sorry for those confused last week; I accidentally said this was October 10 in the previous edition. Fake news.)
DIGITAL CROSSROADS 2018
Want to check out the best digital event in Kentucky? Me too. That’s why I’m joining my colleague Leo Morejon to visit the Bluegrass State and take in the bourbon, baseball bats, and horse races while also meeting some of the nation’s finest marketing minds. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my favorite industry friends are based out there, and many more will be coming from all over the broader region (as I’m in the NYC bubble though, don’t even ask me what the heck this region is; only thanks to Google did I learn that Louisville is too far west in Kentucky to be part of Appalachia).
THE PERFECT BRAND WORKSHOP
My friends Clay Hebert and Weston Woodward are hosting this workshop about telling your best story to the perfect people. They’re fantastic, and with this exclusive link, they’re offering you 10% off just because you’re so swell for reading this. Say hi to them for me if you go. Austin is lovely this time of year.
DPAA VIDEO EVERYWHERE SUMMIT
New York, NY
Hailed as “the largest one-day media event of the year,” hot topics include multi-screen marketing, location data, and new media models. Brands and agencies can attend for as little as $150, and I’m looking forward to attending. I’m doing a bit of work with them as well, so if you have an audience (a newsletter, blog, Slack group, podcast etc) and are interested in spreading the word, let me know; I may be able to help snag a press pass.
Half Moon Bay, CA
This is an excellent event series; I went last year, and their lineup is full of memorable speakers. Everyone in the room has some impressive background and story. Request an invite via the link. “This November please join us for a probing, wide-ranging conversation about the tech-inflected issues that affect business and our world. Techonomy’s breadth is unlike other “tech” conferences. This year’s theme is Harnessing Tech for Responsible Growth, and as always we will address many of the issues facing leaders today.”
I’ll probably return for my 13th straight year. Registration is now open. Are you going? I’m already making plans with 4C’s Aaron Goldman to eat Cinnabon in the Vegas airport again – but none of those mini-bons. Full-size ‘bons are for closers!