The dieticians, nutritionists, shrinks and hand-wringers in administration have got it all wrong. I've just stumbled on the simple yet obvious solution to weight loss. Turn it into a sport.
My colleagues at Ogilvy in Beijing have set the tone. There are roughly 800 Ogilvy-ers in Beijing, and those who fancied it signed up into teams of 5, representing their discipline. Over a 3 week period, the team that lost the most amount of weight collectively, picked up the glory and the RMB. Ogilvy's IT and finance team romped to victory, leaving Ogilvy PR to pick up silver. Individual glory was up for grabs too. The Light Hero Gold Award was picked up by Joanne Chyou (pictured), who shed an impressive 7.8kg.
Genius. Why do we have put with lectures and whinging from Patricia Hewitt and the like, telling us 'we must eat this, and we can't eat that?' The whine just makes you want to walk away and see if there are any more biscuits in the cupboard.
Bring in a competitive element, and then you'll start seeing some movement. Now you're talking. I want to see this turned into a demonstration sport for Beijing 2008. If Sebastian Coe wants a legacy for London 2012 - get those fat kids in the UK off their Xboxes and into training for Olympic glory. I'd be up for it if eating lettuce meant I'd get gold medal.
Trouble for MySpace. An academic has pointed out that the clever, rich kids are the ones migrating to Facebook, leaving MySpace to the future ranks of the US's blue collar workforce and street sweepers. Whilst Facebook is attracting smart, preppy, slick kids with a few $$$, MySpace is the home of the "geeks, freaks and queers." If Facebook is turning into the must-have site for anyone in a Ralph Lauren shirt and down (Prince William included), MySpace is sat in the rival corner in some form of curious, interesting social ghetto.
Danah Boyd, a PHD student in
the US, has written a poignant blog essay based on 6 months research, which has been picked up here and here. Don't know if it's accurate or not but my gut says it is. And if it is, this could be the make-or-break
moment for MySpace and its marketing team. If they've not got enough
to worry about trying to make money out of the product without losing
its 'authenticity,' now throw in this little brand issue.
When I was a kid, a guaranteed social death awaited anyone who walked through the school gates wearing a pair of low quality trainers. A pair of Buktas, Gola, Woolworth's own brand or football boots with rubber studs rather than the real screw-ins - any of those and you were walking straight in to the jaws of humiliation. Crossing cultural divides here...in Australia they'd call you a 'bogan or povo,' in the UK it would be 'gyppo,' (before your insulter was excluded).
But there's $$$ and a big opportunity for a brand in the povo-es corner of the school playground. When I got older I realised that actually the kids in the Woolworth's trainers were also listening to cool bands. They started listening to The Smiths, and then the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays and then Nirvana. And then I copied them. Actually it was quite cool to wear shit clothes - and I wanted to be one of them.
As the migration to Facebook continues - this could be fightback time for MySpace. But can the marketers create a new Nike Air or a run-of-the-mill Reebok Classic?
I haven't read Andrew Keen's book, The Cult Of The Amateur. I don't need to. I just read a couple of 50-word rant reviews of it, believed everything Strumpette said, and that's me fully informed. Enough for me to contribute more hot air in the form of a blog post, which someone somewhere might take seriously.
Andrew Keen is stressed. He's stressed about flippant people like me - amateurs spitting out dross with ideas above our station. We are polluting the Internet and clogging up peoples' brains with ill-informed drivel. We are obstructing debate, intelligence and reason with our attention-seeking clutter.
I understand his stress, but I think he underestimates the intelligence of us humans. If you hear a nutter in a bar or an ill-informed idiot at a party, you just pick up your drink and walk away. That's the case in the digital space too. I obviously think I'm clever as I write things for people to read. The evidence suggests not - as my traffic figures remain resolutely double-figured. And if you look on the right hand side, recent comments appear to be empty. I'm an amateur - people aren't interested.
The tools of Web 2.0 are actually quite useful. It means you can find 'quality' quicker. People want to read, consume, hunt for and absorb quality. Quality either rises to the top, or finds the audience who wants to absorb it. People are not 'watching Youtube' - they are enjoying quality in the individual pieces of creativity they find when they get there. The popular, populist stuff will be at the top. The 'quality' will be in there and the influential connoisseurs will find it. The dross is down the bottom with me.
We shouldn't stress about it in the digital space, just as we don't in print. Take the UK for example. 3 million people read the populist The Sun every morning for a fix of gossip, slagging asylum seekers, and sport. 150,000 smart people read The Economist. We are content with the way that particular influence v populism balance works itself out - digital can be no different.
Cream will rise to the top. Apart from the occasional floater - shit will sink like a stone. I think we'll be fine.
News from the UK. The world of greyhound racing was in mourning this week as one of the sport's icons bowed to the inevitable, and called it a day. Frank PR, owners and godfathers of Flying Frank broke the news earlier this week from their London HQ, and The Sun broke the exclusive.
Under the guidance of trainer John Coleman at the Calverbury Kennels in Essex, 'The Flyer' built a solid reputation on the dog track. He could never shake off a troublesome shoulder injury though, and with that, Frank had chased his last hare.
Frank's achievements on the track were miniscule compared with his efforts off it. Flying Frank was a giant amongst greyhounds - his tireless work to secure the long term future of Walthamstow dog track capturing the attention of celebrities and national media.
Flying Frank attracted celebrities of the highest profile (within a 500mile radious of London), such as Brian Lara, Frank Lampard and Ms Dynamite. None of them were available for comment. All of them are gutted.
Flyer - keep on running son. Don't stop til you catch that final hare.
So if I believe everything I read in the trade mags and blogs we are going to end up in a communications world where we digest our news via 50 x 5 syllable RSS headlines, updated every 0.1 seconds. We'll never have to see our friends. We can just type things on keyboards and our lives will flash in front of us via Facebook or whatever replaces it in a couple of years time.
The next thing for us to think abut in public relations, is at what pace will people we want to influence be reading our materials?
Right now, our emphasis is on pace and personalisation. Our default setting is consuming information as fast as possible to feed
some insecurity that we're either going to be left behind or left out. Via the principles of tagging we are delivering ideas to people who want to hear those ideas, and giving them something to get involved with. It's happening immediately, and instant communities are formed. My client Nokia's 'You Make It Reel' video production campaign would be a great example of that.
I've posted before though on the 'Joy Of Immersion.' DVD box sets sales are higher than ever. People immerse themselves joyfully into Lost, 24, Prison Break etc. Movie channels are running back-to-back movie franchise days. There is money to be made out of people who actually want to turn off all their devices and switch off.
It is at these times that the brain is so receptive. If I read a book on holiday, it may take me 6 months to get to the beach, but when I read it, I absorb it, it stays with me, it may influence me for a whole year after.
Bill Gates who makes software, recognises the power of immersion. The man books himself a reading week once a year when he disappears off somewhere, shuts the doors and does his big thinking. If you can get something into his big pile of reading I think it's fair to say you could look on that as a decent PR result. You may not get your instant hit, but that could well be one of the longest, deepest, richest, most influential pieces of work you will ever carry out.
How our consumption patterns continue to develop is one to watch. There will still be time and space for a good long powerful read and a think. And the more we speed up, the more we'll crave it.
At 11am this morning I was in Manila dealing with the second hangover of my own stag weekend. As hangovers go, this was a big one in every sense of the word.
Nevertheless I was able to open my eyes wide enough to read one of the more refreshing passages I've read in a while about a small business, and how they do business.
Time ran a couple of pages on software developers 37 Signals who I'd vaguely heard of before, but probably the word 'software' had ensured they'd be filed away into my mental trash.
This lot scrub up well for a photo, looking quite relaxed, bearing in mind they serve one million users with a staff of eight. I like the cut of their gib - particularly on talking about how to work. Here's their advice to small businesses.
1. Kill all your meetings; they waste employees time. Interruption is the biggest enemy of productivity.
2. Use asynchronous communication and software to exchange ideas...(actually that one's less impressive, more of an ad for their business).
3. Let your employees decide where and when to work so they can be efficient and happy.
I may just be feeling a touch cynical (hangovers don't help), but it's nice to read about people whose output isn't judged by some posturing around powerpoint. It struck a chord. Then I remembered that I didn't feel very well.