Business card with the bill

This one surprised me at a restaurant in Bucharest recently- a card advertising the services of a the local Philip Marlow, presented with the bill. Sets you thinking if this is an underused advertising medium.

Perhaps it should have been “integrated” with the “washroom ad” in the same restaurant/bar warning me about STDs- maybe not

But what about advice and a voucher to use persil bio after a particularly messy curry.

The opportunities are endless.

expect he smokes and wears an fedora

When the authenticity strategy isnt

The thing is that there is a true and interesting story to be told about Rum-it is bound up with the history of empire. sugar and exploitation-woven into the individual island histories of the Caribbean. It’s as least as complex and interesting as the story of whisky. The clue is in the invisible pack shots at the bottom of the page in these cross tracks.(The website gets into the story in an airbrushed way-its just you would bother to visit it.) Why not authentic? They look like someone said-“we like those Jack Daniels ads can we have something like that please.”

Mind you cant be easy doing work for a committee.

Nice looking chap-just dont believe he has anything to do with making Rum


After facebook overtakes Google the next big thing is…..

“location based” social networking or as Foursquare puts it “See where your friends are, learn about where they frequent and unlock rewards as you travel about the city“. That last bit (my italics) gives away the revenue model- i can’t think of another social media brand that is so nakedly commercial in its mission.

“Right Person, Right Place, Right Time” is the holy grail of sales response marketing- the categories that Foursquare want to take income from are neatly shown in this screen grab on their demo film. Expect all social networking services to beef up their location based stuff more.

Check out the companies who can sell to our happy networking consumer

Is the internet destroying quality journalism ?

To the Intelligence Squared debate at methodist central hall to consider this question.

and the answer from the floor was an overwhelming no. Not difficult to see why.

1) Quality papers have rarely been financially viable in the first place (some exceptions obviously like the DT). Most are subsidized by sister tabloids,an indulgent proprietor or are basically a charity ( The Guardian). If ever the page three gals on The Sun are banned the high minded souls at The Times should march on Parliament-those ladies have been paying their salaries for years.

2) Much quality journalism is a desperate attempt to fill the space with something interesting- there is way too much supply of column inches.The internet, as Alan Rusbridger has pointed out, has improved things. Anyone who prints ill-informed guff is quickly corrected via the online comment section.A sort of rapid rebuttal for bullshitters that it is refreshing to see.

3) Newspapers are now agonizing about the for free culture of the web, but they climbed aboard with alacrity 10 years ago and made their websites free (most of them). Surely, they thought, if we build a big audience the money will follow.It didn’t. Google ate their lunch. On the evidence of last night most do not know what to do about it. AA Gill was in denial. David Elstein grappled manfully with the problem and Matthew Paris threw his hands up in the air and said “nobody knows.”

Elegant contributions from all, but not a businessman in sight. Everyone was really waiting for Rupert to make the big move.

Dawn and Aurora conference in Karachi

Hameed Haroon takes a stand against corruption
Irfan Mustafa:"Pakistan is a great product but a lousy brand

To Karachi for my second visit and a joy it was too. Pakistan has a culture of hospitality that makes others look shallow

Three contributions from Pakistanis stood out:-

Hameed Haroon, CEO of Dawn Media Group, berated the conference for not taking a firmer stand against corruption. Media owners and media agencies collude rather than operating in the best interests of their clients. Dawn has a firm policy of not giving backhanders in return for a place on the media schedule. He also pointed out that the system for measuring circulation figures had been corrupted.

Farhan Hassan talked about Pakistan as not being a discount economy but a Sachet economy-not just in the literal sense of for small sachets of detergent/other forms of single shot, but in the broad sense of low cost, small units that are easily transfered. Such as the pre paid phone card where you can sell on your unused minutes to a buddy ( from the Philipines) or the washing machine for small loads with a see through lid or micro finance banks making small loads to women to set up small business. Innovation would come from “sachet markets” rather than rich markets in all sorts of categories in future.

Irfan Mustafa upbraided the privileged few for failing to show confidence in Pakistan.He had the most memorable phase of the day- “Pakistan is a great product and a lousy brand”. He pointed out that you cannot just let Fox news do Pakistan’s PR you have to believe in the country and talk it up. He cited as evidence the fact that no multinational had left the country and it remained a good place to invest. Fox news may portray the country as a war zone -the American media did the same to the UK when the IRA were active-but the likes of Coca Cola and Pizza Express know otherwise. Interesting facts- Coca Cola per capita consumption in PK is 55 ml compared to 14 ml in India. Average weekly takings in a Pizza hut restaurant are  $28,000 in PK and $8,000 on India.The IMF loan to the country at $17.5 billion is peanuts compared to the Greek meltdown and had stabilized the finances

My overwhelming sense is that Pakistan really needs to tell new and different stories (otherwise the insurgency will continue to dominate the agenda.) There is great new writing and a thriving art scene. If India has Jaipur then Pakistan needs its own internationally acclaimed festivals. A concerted effort to create different story needs to be made. People can journey through the country and what a journey that can be in one of the most visually striking places on earth-why not run a competition for young film makers to tell the story of their own journeys through the country-a point of pride for young Pakistanis and perhaps at least start to break down the perceptions barriers of “the Pakistan brand.”

Great shop facias of our time

BIPA have several shops in Vienna-all have the same aesthetic if not the exactly the same design. The identity fills the front of the store resulting in the most distinctive shop front in the parade. A good example of challenger thinking. Take the conventions of facia design and bust out of them. But not  in a crass or domineering way. It’s inviting-you feel you are about to enter a wonderland of pinkness and femininity. Just had to go in.

Fantasy Austrian Clothing in Kitzbuhel

S&M meets Hansel and Gretel

The window display of Der Nacht Der Tracht. A destination shop if ever there was one with a style of clothing that you will not find elsewhere. It is as if Austrians had decided to dress up as milkmaids and farmers in a Hansel and Gretel story. If you remake The Sound of Music as an S&M movie it would be the ideal wardrobe.No Austrian seen wearing the garb or indeed going into the shop for a browse. One wonders what they had on display at the back of the store.

Data- a surprisingly interesting story

It has to be one of the most unenticing Economists front pages for a while -“The data deluge and how to handle it”.But it proves to be a right riveting read with some fresh jargon to enjoy. “Data Exhaust” is a my favourite-we all produce it and people are collecting it to see what i really like. The Digital equivalent of going through my garbage. why such a good read?

Data reveal patterns and those patterns are the stuff of human nature.Behind every pattern lies a story about people,government and business

Data offer glimpses into hidden behaviour only revealed by the data patterns.In Oakland California they looked at the arrests made in a particular area and found that the police were taking a sneeky day off on wednesdays.

Data has its dreamers: the open data movement believe that full disclosure will shine a light on inefficiency in central and local government in a way that calling in the management consultants never quite will. Fix my street highlights problems with the roads from citizen generated data

Data has its seeming good guys (who may turn out in the long run to be bad guys). Fill in the gap. But it may turn out to be Google. Data is their competitive advantage and you tend to guard that.

Data has its popularisers: click on the facebook advertising button and use their data to analyse target audiences. Data analysis made easy. Advertising targetting made cheap

Data has its conspirathy theorists: what is going on behind closed doors and will what Google collect be used to spy on us? It has already happened in mobile phones and News of the World has been caught red handed. What  happens if spooks get their hands on my Google searches and puts 2+2 together and comes up with 5. I am about to go to Pakistan (again) to give a talk to advertisers- my son is interested in the Middle East and Islam. We would both show up as searching from the same computer. Suspicious? No actually. But you can easily see how the data could be misinterpreted.

As a light is shined on Big Data-Google, Amazon and others-more stories will be revealed. Just as the Data Dreamers want “full disclosure” so there has to be full disclosure about the data that is held and who holds it and what protection there is. If not regulation will be stronger than it need be or should be, with unintended consequences. Expect this story to run and run. Data are not dull. There are lots of actors on the stage with their own story to tell. And big financial interests are being protected.It will  make the Tesco customer database look like innocent child’s play.

This will be the Decade of Data, with the Data analysts as the new Ubergeeks.