Supercalifragilistic Target, Architecting Culture, and Fixing Popchips

This series presents some business and technology trends at surface level. Often, I combine the insights I draw over time about what is going on, and explore them more deeply in the Premium Newsletter, which is a paid subscription.

For example, this week, we're taking a quick look at what happens when technology gets in the way of social — and of good business promises due to poor communication in the process — because of a failed execution. Is it time to revisit the process big brands use to source service providers and agencies? How do internal teams work? Who's in charge of helping them integrate?

At a minimum, there should be accountability injected throughout the process, so a precious waste of attention and resources is not repeated.

Culture is the biggie for architects and design firms who wish to start integrating social technologies and digital media into their model.

Outside marketing, I offer, the opportunity for social is to actually learn to operate differently in the way these firms recruit, their internal collaboration and knowledge sharing, talking with customers to remind them how they keep their promises, building community and so on.

Doing better is exactly what we need to think and talk about if we want to grow the positive side of the balance sheet. Profit is connected with keeping promises, and you cannot do that when you are not aware you're breaking them.

It's a conversation that involves the whole marketing supply chain. Popchips' example illustrates how far downstream and tactically we have sunk as practitioners.

Look beyond the actual subject of the dispute, which is not the reason for inclusion, and what you see is a lucid discussion of all the parts that should come together to support a brand in keeping business promises.


Supercalifragilistic Target, Architecting Culture, and Fixing Popchips

The three stories that caught my eye this week are:


1Leigh Durst writes a detailed post about how a chat with Julie Andrews about National Princess Day missed the Target in execution, demonstrating the importance of digital integration, and clear communication:

the positive mission of Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma, was completely LOST in the confusion… The goals behind the Princess movement have to do with the creation of self-esteem and self-respect within young girls.   Her site also promotes reading to kids and encouraging kids to read. These seem like such an important messages – yet they did not come out during the chat.  No one stepped in to help critics like the ones below understand these simple facts.  It was all terribly unfortunate, indeed.

A brand like Target should have the basics down. Is this possibility a failure to integrate agencies in addition to tools? Leigh Durst has posted a useful update and correction that describes in more detail some of the challenges with multichannel synergy.


2Architects and design firms are increasingly recognizing the strategic value of interactive online platforms. They warm up to social media, understanding the role of culture:

“Having an open, transparent culture makes social media efforts come alive,” says John Gilmore, HOK senior writer and social media leader. “Otherwise, people are smart — they know when your stuff isn’t authentic.”

The term “corporate culture” can be a nebulous one. Yet it is repeatedly cited as a critical factor in determining whether — and to what degree — a firm can leverage the potential of social media.

[…] Culture is fundamental because one of the primary tenets of social media is that it be driven and sustained by people — real people, not company mouthpieces disseminating sanitized corporate messages. Social media also requires a willingness to allow unexpected voices to emerge, which challenges the traditional convention of limiting a firm’s public face to a senior principal or single signature designer.

According to Mike Plotnick, general unwillingness to engage with others publicly around important societal and business issues just reinforces the common refrain that the profession is increasingly marginalized and commoditized.


3Anil Dash writes a detailed post about how to fix Popchip's Racist ad Campaign. His suggested approach is to involve everyone who contributed to the mishap in fixing it:

[…] superficial corrections don't change the process. Back at the office, the Chief Marketing Officer knows that all the people who hate that brand followed them on Twitter for the day to see how they'd respond, so they later crow to the CEO, "We got a 12% bump in social media metrics, looks like I get my bonus!" The PR firm says "Well, aside from the tiny minority of people who complained, we actually got a ton of media mentions, so I can still use this to pitch ourselves to our next client!" The advertising firm says, "We can still talk about making an ad that got millions of views on YouTube, and having worked on a multimillion dollar campaign for a national consumer brand".

And the end result is, nothing actually changes. Nobody is made to actually understand what they did wrong, with the lesson instead usually being "Well, you can't please all the people all the time."

The message was received by Popchips founder Keith Belling, who called Dash to offer a thoughtful, apologetic response. The comment thread contains remarks that are not as respectful of Mr. Dash's view.


This week's links are all about the role of culture on change. We must speak up and defend the organization, which is what enables us come together and promise as one, as the idea/virtue/institution it is.

And not an afterthought on the way to brand/ad awards.



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