Friday, January 28, 2011

Blogger problems

The Blogger program is having some troubles today. Please be patient while they sort it out. (29.01.11) The preceding was written on Saturday and I'm still having trouble with Google in general today on Sunday. Email is painfully slow and changes to my blogs may or may not take effect, even though I can see them on the 'layout' screen. I can only surmise that Google is tinkering with their programs and I can do nothing but wait. I'll let you know when things get back to normal.

(31.01.11) Monday. Things seem to be fixed now. Carry on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lost in Translation: My Love of Social Media and Advertising and Why They Don't Go Home and Shag Like Rabbits.

They don't go home and screw uncontrollably like rabbits is because they want different things. Advertising wants control - social media want openness. Advertising wants logic - social media wants serendipity. Advertising wants planning - social media wants immediacy. Advertising is a top down hierarchy - and social media, aside from Zuckerberg's Facebook, is an inverted pyramid. Advertising is Mars - social media is Venus. And never the twain shall meet. Period, - or maybe we're getting to at least a comma 10 or 15 years on.

Oh the dinosaurs. Hope we can save them before they die.

And god knows, I love advertising - because I've worked in it for my entire adult life. I've done my shit detail - layouts for truly wretched writing, photocopies all night, whatever. I saw my first ad in the New York Art Directors Show Book, on page 3, right next to a Volkswagen ad - probably our greatest textbook study in the art. I've had work on the Super Bowl and then later, founded the first 100% foreign invested advertising agency in Korea. I've been awarded by plenty of shows. I get it.

And now I get social media. This blog (WWED) is the highest rated personal blog in Vietnam by Technorati. Peter Hirshberg, founder of Technorati, and I even tossed a few Red Bulls and Vodkas last year at DLD in Munich. The Wall Street Journal links WWED and so does the New York Times, The Huffington Post and New York Magazine. I guess that's good. Stop wait, reverse that. It is good.

And that brings us to my latest job - a consulting arrangement with one of the top advertising agencies in the world. Yes. And in what could only be described as a 'lost in translation' exchange from the start, with the agency, earnestly wanting to learn social media, but having a background in traditional media and me, trying to teach pigs to fly. Lesson #1: You're not a pig (remove all mirrors from room). Lesson #2: Give up. This ain't gonna happen. They say you can't teach old dogs new tricks and being a bit of an older dog myself, I'm not sure I believe in that so much, but sometimes to learn new tricks you have to unlearn some old ones.

Jason Falls illuminates another part of the challenge here:

"Part of the challenge for Agencies is the ability to "execute" in real time digital space. The social landscape requires a "person" to act and respond quickly to conversations. This requires that the person executing on digital communication be closely tied to the "persona" of the brand. There isn't time to make decisions by committee, or banter back and forth between client and agency personnel. The person/persona must understand the audience, the brand, and be trusted to act instantly.

I wish I had a fix-all answer to this - but all I have is a journey, and I suspect, that's a lesson all in itself.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Goober Gun Gigs Saigon. Again!

Goober Gun, Vietnam, Vascos, Supersize, Southhampton, England, UK, Saigon.
Goober Gun minus the guy on the right.
After a December and first visit to Saigon, power trio Goober Gun, hailing from Southhampton, England, was back to Vasco's for another Supersize party - except this time the cover was slender-sized by 50% buying you at least half of one of the vnd100,000 ($5) cocktails once inside the place. Such a deal - but Goober Gun brought their 110% game to town, 2nd on a three-band bill with headliners I was not familiar with, with a name I can't remember. But who can forget a band named Goober Gun? Try explaining and pronouncing it to someone else in a loud club when they yell, "Who are they?" "G.O.O.B.E.R. - G.U.N. !", you scream back - quizzical look on face of other person.

Nuff said. GG's 3 piece (I know, there's 4 guys in the photo) stance brings one's mind back to the Police on a decidedly 80s-phased evening and their big power-pop sound, augmented by three-part harmonies and a lead-singing drummer was anything but Genesis. Songs '1979' and 'Monster' took  full advantage of the band's full on performance and gave the headliners something to follow - which I don't feel they ever did, despite an extra member. My UK friend on business from Singapore was impressed - differently than another musical friend of mine who had seen them before in December at a higher price and remarked, "They only sucked a little". I thought these Gunners did gud - or would that be Guubers?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Noah takes a photo of himself every day for six years.

Only 18,117,708 people before me have seen this. Now I have seen it - and maybe you, again? I find it very Koyaanisqatsi-esque - and a lot of how I feel these days - a life out of balance.

Plutocracy, Philanthrocapitalism and you in the Year of the Cat.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới,  Beijing, New York, Mumbai, London, 1976, Al Stewart, Year of the Cat, Global view, World view, Many are running to dictionaries right now to figure out what the first two words of the sentence above mean. In short, but not literally, they mean the world we live in today. They are a description of the times. As Glen Hutchins, co-founder of the private-equity firm Silver Lake, explains in this month's Atlantic magazine, "The circles we move in are defined by interests and activities rather than geography: Beijing has a lot in common with New York, London, or Mumbai - We are engaged as global citizens in crosscutting commercial, political, and social matters of common concern." That is, those of us who work in or with more than one country.

I have no predictions for the Year of the Cat but I've read the entire article above and that helps give me an idea of at least the atmosphere in which things might happen. As a New Year's treat I've included a download of Al Stewart's classic 1976 album, 'Year of the Cat'. You can download the title song, or the entire record. I recommend the latter, a firmly rolled spliff, and a little trip 25 years back to ponder just exactly what might happen in the future. Chúc Mừng Năm Mới. everyone. What may be, may be.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm going to say it because nobody else will...

Alexander McQueen, MILTF, M.I.L.T.F., Anna Wintour, Barbra Streisand, Jackie Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Political Satire
Anna Wintour and Michelle Obama
Is Michelle Obama hot, or what? That's Mrs. Obama wearing designer Alexander McQueen to the state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao and looking like a Ph.D. in M.I.L.T.F.sciences. And that's Anna Wintour on the left doing her best Barbra Streisand imitation, or wait, that's Barbra Streisand doing her best Anna Wintour imitation. Whatever. The first lady is to today what Jackie Kennedy was to her day. Stellar.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Respect

"Today, you can be a genius, write the great American novel, tell the truth, fight the good fight, do excellent work, be fiercely nice to people and love unconditionally  - but if you don't make a lot of money, nobody is ever going to respect you."- Travis

For more in the Travis Diaries, check here:

Sex: The Travis Diaries I

I'm a man, DAMMIT: The Travis Diaries II
Love: The Travis Diaries III
Tiger: The Travis Diaries IV
Ambivelence: The Travis Diaries V
Advertising People & Blogs: The Travis Diaries VI
What's Left?: The Travis Diaries VII
Year of the Tiger: The Travis Diaries VIII
She said: The Travis Diaries IX
Dreams: The Travis Diaries X

A Bad Day: The Travis Diaries XI
Svengali? The Travis Diaries XII
My Way: The Travis Diaries XIII

Sunday, January 16, 2011

4 Good movies and nobody to talk to at all about them...

A visit to the #5 Bar will not find you a discussion about film - although you'll get all the English football and girls you can handle. And nearly any walk through the expat haunts of Saigon, even the upper market ones, will not do you much better. So maybe the Internet will hit the right target for me. Below are 4 films that have come to my attention recently. I haven't seen them all, but I'd like to. If you have thoughts on any mentioned, or have seen others of similar interest, please leave comments below.

Airing on HBO Asia currently, Grey Gardens offers a look into the lives of Big Edie and Little Edie Bovier Beale, the much poorer aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who live live in a dilapidated summer home in the Hamptons and seem almost completely and totally oblivious the the world falling apart around them. Sad, lonely, yet poignant, the film echos and updates the 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles of the same name.

#2) Georgia O'Keeffe(2009)

The somewhat misnamed film that depicts both the lives of Ms. O'Keeffe and lover/husband/promoter/photographer Alfred Stieglitz, traverses the highs, lows and incredible depth of a relationship that saw O'Keeffe become the most famous female artist in history and Stieglitz nearly forgotten by the time of his death in 1946. O'Keeffe would spend the next 40 years of her life on her own paintings and on memorializing Stieglitz's work until her death at the age of 98. A portrait of two fiercely individual spirits who both inspired and almost destroyed each other.

#3) The Red Chapel (2009)

Probably not a film I'm ever going to see in Vietnam due to this country's political friendship with North Korea, a Danish film maker takes rare look inside the fortress-like walls of North Korea. "Director Mads Bruegger's guerrilla/Borat-style tactics in 'The Red Chapel,' offer a fascinating but less-subversive-than-advertised piece of stunt filmmaking. Documenting his visit with two Danish-Korean comedians hoping to put on a show, Bruegger launches a sneak attack on what he calls "the most heartless and brutal totalitarian state ever created," yet his vigorous condemnations aren't always entirely backed up by what he uncovers. Sundance's World Cinema grand jury prize should raise the fest profile for 'Chapel.'" - Variety Magazine

#4) Louis Sullivan, The Struggle for American Architecture (2010)

"Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924) was one of the most influential architects to come out of the Chicago School of architecture in the late 1800s. He is often called the 'father of the skyscraper', and conceived the most famous phrase ever to come out of his profession, 'form follows function'. Sullivan’s most profound influence can be found in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, who spent more than six years as Sullivan’s chief draftsman before going on his own to advance Sullivan’s idea of American architecture into the Prairie School of the early 1900s. Sullivan died in 1924, penniless and forgotten to the public, and is buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery." - Official Film Site. I haven't seen this film but would very much like to to advance my knowledge and love of  architecture.

All these films depict individuals, some more financially successful than others, but their stories give me hope that following a creative vision is a valuable way to live a life. Even the Beales found peace in their odd eccentric existence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saigon/CreativeMornings packs the house. A small, good house..

Bertrand Peret, Dustin Nguyen, Mads Monsen, Saigon Creative Mornings, Sandrine Lloquet, TBWA

Thanks to actor, director, producer Dustin Nguyen and a spirited group of creatives, our first session was informative, casual and fun. We hope to have video up next week.

Thanks also to Sandrine, Bertrand and Mads for the photos and TBWA for the space :)

We learned how not to make an "Instant noodle soup movie", just how tough the Vietnamese censors are as compared to Singapore and China, and just how many seconds your product can be on screen if you paid for product placement in a love scene - interesting stuff. More to follow.

And not one single person asked one single question about Johnny Depp. Good Saigon/CreativeMornings to you all. More about Dustin can be found here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sandrine Lloquet, Mads Monson and TBWA blog about Saigon/CreativeMornings

Mads Monsen, Saigon Creative Mornings, Sandrine Lloquet, TBWAArtist, Sandrine Lloquet, Photographer, Mads Monsen and agency, TBWA have covered the launch of Saigon/CreativeMornings on their blogs. Click on the respective links and get a 360 view of the event.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011


How to Spot a Social Media Marketing Specialist

Certified, Social Media Marketing Specialist, Facebook, Newton's Law, Twitter, I was reading a guy's CV recently and saw the descriptor, "Certified Social Media Specialist", and I know this guy and respect his energy, but I thought that was one of the most silly-assed things I've ever seen as a qualification. What do they teach you in social media certification school? How to use Facebook & Twitter? Shit, if you're any good at all you'll just get 15,000 friends on FB or a few million YouTube hits for a video of your cat. That's certifiable - but it doesn't make you a specialist. Probably it makes you lucky, or hard working and that's about it. But certified? Just remember, you can be a certified nutcase about as easily as being a certified social media specialist - and if you've got a spare $975, I can make you a certified Life Coach in just 16 hours with an easy and fun course!

Jeez. It's certifiably crazy. The next time someone tells you that they're a social media specialist, simply ask to see their blog - and if they don't have one, they don't know much about social media. Getting 15,000 friends on Facebook is no big trick. You simply have your staff 'friend' people for about a year and other people will generally 'friend' you back because they hate to say no - but that doesn't make you a specialist.

Anybody with a blog is already half way to specializing in something because they have not only defined a market but written to and built that market through a social connection that began online - not because they were trying to sell something, but more probably because they were offering something the market was interested in already and like most successful marketing, things work better online if you are filling a market need. Bloggers have an idea in the beginning, ship it, and then begin to field commentary about it almost immediately, make revisions and then wait for responses again. It's creation, market research and recreation almost all in the same motion after a while - and that begins to build an audience because there's an almost Newtonian action/reaction mechanism built in from the beginning. Facebook and Twitter have that as well, but what they don't tell you, is anything more than how many people follow you.

People with successful blogs learn not just about traffic, but about engagement and in the end, that's what social media marketing is all about - not about getting one time hits but about making as much out of the hits you get and continuously engaging that audience. Thank god I am not a certified social media marketing specialist, but I am a marketing specialist who just learned a few manners from mom on the way up and have found them useful in this new social media landscape: "Don't ever brag", she said, "Just let your accomplishments speak for themselves".

Ask your social media marketing specialist to show you what they've accomplished personally on the Internet, not what their company or educational credentials are - and if they can't show you anything like a successful blog or a famous YouTube cat video, it's probably time to say "Next!".

digital ninja from moon stuff on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Solution to the Problem is Not a Solution at all, it's a Process,

Process, Solution, business, Advertising, Daniel Lebeskind, David Armano, AdAge,  Vietnam Advertising Association, In working with a client recently on a social media project, I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to explain how things worked on the Internet. From the company website, to their blog, to Facebook, to Twitter, LinkedIn and the myriad of aggregation sites that crawl the web daily looking for what they, and they are all different, consider 'news'. Personally, I thought my charts and graphs were amazing - but probably it was all a lot more complicated than the client and I needed to get our heads around the problem - uh, solution.

So I recalled a conversation with architect Daniel Libeskind on Discovery Channel recently where he described his firm's inability to win a certain project because the solution to the client's problem they proposed, was not a solution in the traditional sense at all, but an actual process in which human nature would change in relation to the architecture, as the architecture changed. This seemed to perplex his client. The solution was a process, a change in behavior, not a rock solid thing in a box.

For all intents and purposes, the Internet has changed the architecture of communications forever by changing the balance of power between what used to be the broadcaster and who used to be the viewer, listener or reader. Now the broadcasters and the broadcastees are on a more even footing, allowing conversation and interplay between the two. And so that has shaken the business planning of the companies who used to just make it all and ship it out the door. No waiting for 'likes' or 'comments' or 'friends'. Just wait for the sales numbers - and if that didn't work - try something else.

I used the chart above from David Armano of AdAge a few years ago to take the Vietnam Advertising Association to task for not having a website. They do now. But this simply chart illustrates the change in working process from old commercial communications to what is going on now. Now all us Internet gurus and clients need to figure out is how to get paid and how much one should pay for this new process of thinking.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới. My most popular post around this time of year.

And I wrote this popular post two years ago.
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới. It means, Happy New Year, in Vietnamese. Happy New Year all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

S/CM first event, Dustin Nguyen, Sold Out

Saigon/CreativeMornings first event, Dustin Nguyen, sold out in just 3 days - but don't dismay - we're keeping a wait-list in case tickets become available. See the form below and sign-up for the waiting list. We'll inform people next week of availability.

The Wild Wild East Dailies

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies and keep up on our efforts with aSaigon/CreativeMorning.