Gauguin:myth maker and self publicist of Damian Hirst like proportions

Fascinating at how modern Gauguin was in creating a myth of his own life as a marketing tool. He really understood the concept of “success de scandale” and doubtless was able to keep himself the talk of Paris with his rackety lifestyle and seduction of young women. Damian Hirst could have studied at his feet when it came to a talent for publicity.

This idea of   life as carefully constructed myth was carried through into his art- he was in way a classical painter in his suggestions of narrative and backstory in many of his paintings. However his narratives were more allusive than classical art, which traded in a shared culture of commonly understood symbols. People knew how to read classical art. Gauguin however is about  much more than narrative painting- His lush and erotically charged pictures are glorious and heady escapism in which you can wallow and day dream

The audio commentary at the tate was good but i sensed that the people who produced it didnt really approve of Gauguin and felt the need for some political correctness over his seduction of young women and publicity seeking. There was one absolutely desperate attempt at a feminist critique that i sensed the commentator didnt really believe in herself

New Indian cafe in soho cafe founded on late night poker sessions

Intriguing back stories are essential in new product launches – or least launches with the kind of personality that gives you a sense of the people behind the brand. I think it is because there is so many new products and services we increasingly look for affinity and identification to give what we buy extra meaning.It is a case of- Like the people, intrigued by their story, feel affinity with the brand. Moolis was founded we learn on late night poker sessions and clas ohlson is proudly swedish

Jeggings-further proof that most innovation is a mash up

I am obviously late off the mark with Jeggings- my daughter has just poured herself into a new pair and will doubtless spend an uncomfortable day in them.

Jeggings seems to illustrate the fact that most innovation, like most new music, is a blend of influences that plays into and evolves an existing behaviour or set of cultural norms. The heroic stories of breakthrough innovation that start a new behaviour, like the Sony Walkman or the humble Post-it note  ( both incidentally rejected in consumer research at the concept stage) are rarer than hens teeth.

There is a brilliant article by John Kearon on this later theme of breakthrough innovations that start new behaviours and how they really happen in the new issue of Market Leader available (but not for free) here

kittens and coffee, innovation of the week surely..

Innovation of the week as reported in The Guardian weekend mag by Lucy Mangan

Many urban Japanese live stressful lives in apartments too small to allow them to keep their own pets, so cafes have started to spring up that supply kittens to play with while you are drinking your coffee and eating your cake”

This neatly combines sociability, a return to childhood and physical pleasure- a sweet spot if ever there was one in the world of innovation.

It puts me in mind of those innovation exercises in Edward de Bono’s How to have creative ideas in which you draw out of a hat two random and seemingly unconnected words and see if you can link the two with an innovation or idea. The modern word for this is a mashup but as a way of innovating it is quite old- many innovations simply being a new combination of old element

For Example in an ideas session once I drew out once the words “Fruit” and “Lighting” and ending up inventing a range of fruit shaped lights especially for childrens’ bedrooms- Glowing little strawberries and bananas and apples to hang over the cot at night.

Rubbish idea or a lateral way of inculcating health eating from the word go ?

Follow the debate about how the Internet has really changed marketing

The Marketing Society blog is the place to follow this debate with really interesting contributions from the likes of Paul Feldwick, Mark Sherringham and Dr Robert Heath. My twopenny worth….

The revolutionary bit

What is it that the Internet has fundamentally changed? The answer, I think, can be summed up in the phase “transaction costs”. Our ability to send combinations of ones and zeros around the world at very low cost fundamentally changes the way service businesses (in practice most businesses) deal with people.

With low cost broadband and all you can eat mobile tariffs we can gets things right here right now and on the move. It is a global revolution and transaction costs are getting cheaper all the time

People (and what they want from brands) don’t fundamentally change but that misses the point.

Service businesses have to execute differently-joining up communication platforms and investing in technology to keep up. Without good execution all those unchanging high principles of branding- big ideas, brand promises, consumer insights- are but naught. “Every little helps” is both a statement of a brands higher purpose and a promise that all the detailed day to execution will be spot on. Without the latter the former is valueless. The ability to deal with people differently at very low cost enables new functions- most notably the way in which innovation happens through co- creation and open source. And not just mean software is developed- it can also be about household products-see P&Gs connect and develop program

The bit that hasn’t really changed

What about people and their relationships with brands? The idea that consumers are somehow now much more confident and empowered seems to me to have very shallow roots. Activist consumers are still a minority yet the speed and scale of their impact has fundamentally changed through rock bottom transaction costs-people can now easily publish (blogs/tweets/forums) and self organize (social media platforms/email). And this does fundamentally change how service brands deal with people-much more open, transparent and responsive than ever before. But have we as consumers really changed?

We seem to be in state of permanent consumer adolescence-superficially very confident and bolshie, but scratch the surface, and we are as insecure and irrational as ever. We look confident when doing simple things-like finding a cheap flight or buying a DVD online or Googling to find out what is on at the cinema tonight and which films are worth seeing. But give us something more difficult and we revert to type and seek the guidance of brands and the reassurance of others. Barry Schwarz in the Paradox of Choice has shown that we cant really cope with much choice and behavioural psychologists have shown that we are predictably irrational and prone to do things because, well, it’s what other people do and so therefore it’s probably Ok.

This last observation on human behaviour more than anything else explains why mass advertising will never go way. True, the Internet does promise ever-greater efficiency and effectiveness in targeting- a seeming apotheosis of the early CRM missionary’s ideas.

But here’s the thing. The “wastage” of mass advertising is a big part of what makes it effective. It gives public affirmation of the choices that we herding animals make. Agencies will continue to create “the poster”- the cavemen did and we are sure to be putting them up (electronically) in a hundred years time.

Thaler: technology/data offers many nudging and efficiency opportunities

At last nights Big Thinkers event at COI Richard Thaler gave a glimpse of the opportunities to Nudge that will come from mobile/new technology- such pillboxes that mail you when you havent taken your medicine and IPhone apps that can test your blood sugar.

Smart phones, which are the devices that support these innovations, are still a middle class thing but in short order will be in the hands of most people in most parts of the world

All part of a wider picture in which we will have to do more for ourselves and health services around the world will have to be more efficient and sparing in the use of its professionals and experts time.

The other big driver of efficiency, according to Thaler is open access to data which government wills increasingly make available for private companies to present in useful ways. Such as the BART app for people looking to catch a bus.It is real time information about where your bus is and when it will arrive. It is simply  based on making the GPS data that each bus produces available.

New: the Betfair model comes to foreign exchange

The Peer to Peer model, made famous by Zopa and Betfair, is coming to the foreign exchange market with a new service called CurrencyFair.

The benefits are , of course, a much keener rate than the banks offer-close to or at interbank- and the ability to post a rate and see if is matched. The service is based on the simple truth that everyone in FX is both a seller and a buyer .The (anonimized) exchange set up by CurrencyFair  matches up buyers and sellers. Could be the start of something big in FX once people have got used to the idea.FX is a dirty little secret of the banks-they gouge the average punter with commission and the spread between what they buy at and sell at. Just check your next currency exchange against CurrencyFair to prove the point

Declaration of interest: CurrencyFair is a Joined Up Company client.We have had fun developing the service- hope you like it Launch team as follows:

CurrencyFair: Jonathan Potter and Chris Porter

The Joined Up Company: Brand Strategy,Website Development and Communications Strategy- Julian Saunders, Janet Grimes and Patrick Collister.

Joff Buels: PR, Press relations and PR launch

London Interaction:Social media research and social media engagement strategy-Sarah Ward and Tomas Gonsorcik