My Interview With Alex Bogusky @ His Twitter Experience

Alex Bogusky 2Alex Bogusky may be the last last name in the advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, but he's certainly very well-known within [and increasingly beyond] the advertising world.  

For those who don't know, CP+B is the celebrated [and occasionally maligned, and more often than not, polarizing] agency behind the Whopper Freakout, the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld's Microsoft Ads [which I happen to love] and so many more creative [and at times, controversial] efforts.  Read Creativity's 2008 Agency of the Year article for a good overview.

So it's no surprise that the Twitter universe [I just can't bring myself to using words like "Twitterverse"] was abuzz when Bogusky, aka @Bogusky, first appeared in mid-December and quickly amassed a large and active following. 

It was perhaps with the same amount of buzz that he abruptly announced a few days ago:

Alex Bogusky 1

Why would he walk away from Twitter?  Was he just being provocative? 

Rather than speculate I asked Bogusky [we've never met, but did exchange a few tweets] if he would answer five email questions about his Twitter experience.  He graciously obliged. 

In the true spirit of online community, I quasi-crowdsourced two of the five questions [as noted below] from folks I respect in the social media space.  Here we go ...

Question 1:  When you first joined Twitter there was an amusing amount of chatter questioning the identity of @Bogusky.  In fact, there is a @BogusBogusky.  Why would someone want to pretend to be you, and more importantly what does the community's initial suspicion about your identity say about the state of things in social media?

Alex Bogusky: Yeah, I’m pretty sure @BogusBogusky works here too. I don’t know who it is but you can tell they’re on the inside. The suspicion comes from the fact that there is no requirement to be who you are online. I think this is something that might change going forward. There will be communities that are more diligent about ID and it will be a good thing. People are much more positive and responsible when they have to represent themselves and are unable to hide behind anonymity.

There’s a place for both kinds of community but I look forward to people representing themselves. Twitter actually has more of this than many communities. And I liked that. I had decided I would only follow people who had posted a picture or even an illustration of themselves. You don’t really know if it’s them I guess but it seemed a good indicator of sincerity.

Question 2: What's the significance, if any, that you are doing this interview with me - rather than say, AdWeek?  Does it say anything about the future of journalism and the role of "traditional" media?  If so, what?

AB: The significance is you asked me. And you didn’t seem to be looking to stir up controversy. I saw a headline somewhere that I had “…broken up with Twitter.” I don’t think that’s an accurate way to put it. Breakup is a very emotionally charged word and it’s a lot more exciting than the truth. I was getting to know it. Enjoyed the hell out of it. Brought some clients into it and was learning a ton. But in the end it wasn’t something I was going to weave into my everyday so rather than just not posting I thought my last posts should instruct anybody that came to the page that I wasn’t there. I don’t want people replying and sending questions or thoughts into a black hole. The web and social media is like ice cream. It’s all so fucking good. But we all find our favorite flavors. So it’s not that I don’t love butter pecan, it’s that I love mint chocolate chip even more so when it comes time to get ice cream I get that.

Question 3:  My guess is that CP+B has plenty of social-media savvy folks amongst the ranks who have been advising clients on how to explore communities like Twitter.  But as CP+B's head honcho, what is it about your own Twitter experience that you will you bring back to your teams, and your clients?

AB: That’s exactly right. The goal is to use and understand a lot of what is out there. I hope what I bring back is ideas. The ideas come from the medium meeting the marketing problem. So we’re just beginning to put those together.

Question 4: Len Kendall (@LenKendall) of Critical Mass wants to know: Did Twitter not inspire any creative thinking for you? Thoughts layered on other intelligent thoughts?  If Twitter did inspire creative thinking, can you give an example?

AB: I couldn’t say it inspired creative thinking for me. In general it was difficult not to get overloaded with links and articles. I’ve always been more of a blank page, white walls sort of person. For me twitter would probably hamper my creativity. I prefer the learning that comes from doing. It’s more dynamic and usually pushes you beyond the discussion.

Question 5: Ian Schafer (@ischafer), CEO of Deep Focus asks: Was there a singular moment that caused you to say 'this isn't for me'?

AB: No. And I will drop in from time to time. I of course reserve the right to reverse course. Wishy washy is how I like to roll.  I do think there needs to be some way to lock a retweet. I would see my tweets retweeted but changed slightly. I think that should be fixed. If it has RT in it, it should lock somehow.

Bonus Question:  @TheMime would like you to comment on the following:  . . .
AB:  : 0

That's all for now.  If you have additional questions, leave them as a comment.  Maybe Alex [or a fake version of him] will answer them.

Guest Post From Lefty Wahl: The Blargument

My dear readers, I present to you a guest post from Lefty Wahl ...

Dear“Flagged For” Reader –
I regret to inform you that this is not your trusted F.F.F.U. provocateur.
Flagged has invited me to join him in a “Blargument,” which, frankly is a term I’m embarrassed to even type out, much less partake in. But, I am always looking for a good fight, so I accepted.
We agreed to disagree on the subject of Twittering (another term I am loathe to type). But since we already have differing takes on the matter, we suddenly had ourselves a virtual battle of the twits.
I think we all know where Flagged stands on Twitter. He loves it. He follows 161 tweeters. He’s followed by 236 tweeters. And he’s tweeted 901 times. He’s blogged about twitter at least four times now - all interesting points of view, on content that typically is not [here AND here].  And he insists, that as someone who works in marketing and communications, not having a twitter page is akin to career suicide.
Ian status  VS  Lefty status
I am not a tweeter. I hate most tweets that I read. I hate every tweet that I’ve ever attempted to write. And I hate the very transparent motive behind most every Twit out there.
After the age of 25, Twitter is nothing more than tool for self-promotion. The more you tweet, the more you appear on other people’s radar. And the more people on whose radar you appear, the more relevant you stay.
That’s all fine and well for a brand. I’m in the business of helping brands stay relevant. And for those of you who will inevitably argue that you are your own brand, this my friends, is the junk mail of brands.
I like to think the equity of my brand lies in the quality of thought I bring to the table. Not the quantity. Or even the ubiquity. If there is a smart memorable way to tell your brand story through twitter, I’m all for it (I’ve got some ideas). But to date, I have not seen it. And yet, if I don’t let the world know that I “just put my kid to bed. Time for Lost,” I’m somehow a professional pariah.  
The fact that I’m even writing about one form of social media through another, closely related form of social media, sort of just blows holes through my entire argument. But since the readership of my blog consists of my mother and a few bored friends in no position to grow my “brand,” I think my argument still holds water.
Wait a sec... This isn’t my blog. Which means there are people I don’t even know reading this. Which I was part conscious of all along.
(Ian-1, Lefty-0)

Note:  This is a guest post by Lefty Wahl.  It represents Lefty’s POV alone and not those of mine, Ian Sohn.  You can find my [Ian] counter argument at Lefty’s blog.

Put Your Money Where Your (Word Of) Mouth Is


Word-of-mouth-marketing company BzzAgent Inc. says it will offer a money-back guarantee that word-of-mouth will outperform by 20 percent or more any other advertising medium when it comes to brand awareness, consumer opinion, purchase intent and actual sales.  Full article here.

Some folks wondered today if the guarantee is an act of desperation.  I definitely don't think so.  I've worked with BzzAgent - in fact I just finished an incredibly successful campaign for one of my clients.  I really believe in their model.

Any readers worked with them?  Please share your opinions/experiences via comments.

Manchester United's Global Digital Plan

Saw this nugget in a few places, including PSFK.  From the Guardian:

"Manchester United is in talks with marketing groups including WPP, Publicis and Omnicom about an ambitious global strategic partnership to drive the club's digital fan base to 50 million users.

The club is in talks with four global companies - the fourth being McCann Worldgroup - with the aim of finding a partner to implement a five year plan to drive the club's global digital operation.

"We are a football club and a global brand, a media phenomenon, but at the moment we are not doing enough for our fans," the Manchester United group commercial director, Lee Daley, told"

This is why Manchester United is Manchester United and, for example, Chelsea FC is Chelsea FC.  Both stacked with great players, but likely that most people reading this post have never heard of the latter.  Man U is a global marketing juggernaut.

By the way, if you haven't seen Man U's Cristiano Ronaldo, watch the highlight video below.  Ronaldo is pretty much hated by everyone (including his teammates).  Probably because he is so young (22), never passes the ball and has a mullet.  But he is so good!

On PR & Bloggers ... Mandatory Step 1

Wizardoz3Regarding the subject of the relationship between PR professionals and bloggers ... Steve Rubel doesn't raise any earth-shattering points in this blog post, just like I didn't in this.  But I do like the way Steve puts this ...

"To thrive in this new distributed environment, the PR community must step out in front of the curtain, become a bit more technically adept and participate transparently as individuals in online communities. We will have to openly collaborate and add value to the network and help the companies we represent do exactly the same."

It's pretty simple as far as I see it ... any PR practitioner who is going to advise their clients on how to navigate the world of online social media must actually participate in online social media.  And by participate I mean write a blog, read other blogs, use Skype, use Twitter, etc.  This is 101.

Digital Agencies Grab a Bigger Piece of the Pie

Thepie460PR Blogger points to an article in Marketing Week that discusses the trend of digital agencies taking a bite out of traditional agency business.  The article points to the case of eBay, which last week:

"Appointed self-professed "integrated agency" Albion to handle its advertising highlights.  In this case, eBay rejected the overtures of shops famed for their television ads such as Mother and WCRS in favour of an agency that promises to use the internet as lead medium."

For me it boils down to this ... for traditional agencies to compete for talent, business and respect in a 2.0 world -- against 2.0 agencies -- they must raze long-standing institutional silos, decentralize decision-making, operate with a sense of measured fearlessness and do so with speed.  Easy to say, tough to execute.  But when the alternative is extinction ...

[More] Doing More

To follow up on a recent post [click here] about the rising sentiment in the marketing community that it's time to stop talking about marketing and actually start doing it, I wanted to point out this quote from Dan Germain of Innocent Drinks:

So in 2007 we will be making more stuff,writing more stuff, posting more stuff and filming more stuff. Some of it will be rubbish and some of it might work. And seeing as we don't know which bits will work until we've done them, I guess we'd better get cracking.

As The King might say ... a little less conversation, a little more action

Doing More

I've noticed a rising sentiment lately.  This post on the Chroma blog is representative.  In short it appears that people are growing tired of being pontificated to [or reading blogs pontificating on] on the topics of Web 2.0, UGC, Community, etc. As this blogger puts it, he and a friend were discussing "the desire to actually put some ideas and thinking in practice- the hunger to do more, and talk about all of the cool the possibilities less ..."

A lot of people I've spoken with lately are yearning to do more.  That's not to say they want to think less, but rather that they want to see their thinking manifest itself into something tangible.  I, for one, am all for it.

Observation v Insight

LegosSo much talk these days about Insights.  But have you found that more-often-than-not people are mistaking observations for insights?  I've been using an example for years, and I can't remember if I stole it from someone or thought of it on my own.  Either way I think it's pretty good, and I encourage you to steal it from me.  Using Legos as an example:

Observation:  Kids like to build stuff.  Parents like when their kids build things because it keeps kids busy and teaches them how to problem solve. 

Insight: Parents believe that children who are creative problem solvers will do better and achieve more in their personal and professional lives.

Product development and marketing communications based on the observation would fall woefully flat and off-target.  Getting to the insight can be a dirty process, but it's so worth the effort. 

The Ultimate Experience-Led Organization

Pinella_3The Chicago Cubs haven't won the World Series in nearly ... forever.  They rarely field a competitive squad.  Cubs fans probably invented the phrase, "there's always next year." 

Yet for all that the franchise is valued in the range of $500-$600 million.  Take a trip to Wrigley Field on a summer afternoon [a weekday no less] and, even when hosting a last place team [well, the Cubs are often in last place so they might be hosting the 2nd worst], the bleachers are buzzing.

I won't deny that their TV package with WGN gives them a national fan base, but it still doesn't account for the people who turn out for the home-opener in 30 degree weather.

Why?  Because a day game at Wrigley Field is the ultimate experience for both the hardcore sports fan and the casual spectator.  Wrigleyville.  The intimacy of a 'small' ballpark.  The bullpens in full view along the right and left field lines [I remember as a kid having conversations with the players in the bullpen during lulls in the action.  What an incredible thrill for a 10 year old].  The beer vendors -- some young and bright-eyed, others old and ornery [I prefer the latter].  The manually-operated scoreboard.  The ivy.  And of course our beloved Bleacher Bums.

This is why people come back game-after-game, year-after-losing-year.  Because, with the possible exception of Fenway Park, there's no experience like it.  Must be a lesson somewhere in there for all types of organizations that aspire to be experience-led.

360 Degree & the Swoosh

Walk into most media, creative, PR or strategy agencies and somewhere on a whiteboard you'll find a derivation of this diagram:


The diagram makes sense and certainly has relevance, but perhaps a more effective way of illustrating the concept of '360 Degree Marketing' is to draw one of these on the whiteboard:

Swoosh_4In my humble opinion, Nike embodies [and has done so for many years] the true spirit of 360.  Sometimes a swoosh says a thousand words.

[Update 4/13:  Check out this post on  Not 100% related to this topic but a pretty interesting thought on Nike]