Elevating Everyday Chore to an Experience

Some people say that things don´t make you happy. I say that those people just haven´t yet had good things in their life.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most this year has been my newly acquired straight razor.


Why any modern man would need straight razor?

Not for any rational reason and therefore it is just the right item for modern gentleman. When everything is becoming more and more like commodity, the way to differentiate is to make your product less accessible. We are taking so many things granted nowadays because they have been made too easy for us. Mass industry will continue simplifying things further, so we as consumers need to complicate things for ourselves, if we want to regain our appreciation to everyday things.

Here are five pointers you should apply to your own (mundane) product:

1. Create ritual(s) around your product
When shaving with straight razor, you cannot just start shaving. You need to “strop” your knife with leather belt to ensure that your straight razor is sharp. Then you need to soften your skin with hot towel. Lather cream to your face with the badger brush using a circular motion. Use hot towel again and also some expensive after-shave products. What used to be boring forgettable everyday chore is not highlight of the day*. This is a great example of “Ikea effect” when you put disproportionate value to things you have spent time on. I didn´t have any discussions about shaving before, but now my oldschool shaving regime is a conversation topic.

2. Build your own tribe
Before I started this straight razor routine I did not know how much there are information and shaving aficionados in the world. On global scale there are enough specialists to create sustainable business out of everything.

3. Be proudly old-school
My razor is actually a replica of Bismarck razors. The company was founded in 1852. For me vinyl records are the best format for music, not necessarily the most convenient and the effective for music listening. You cannot compare straight razor experience to modern methods on rational terms, because whole idea of using straight razor in 2016 is completely irrational.

4. Make your product hard to acquire
You cannot exactly buy your good straight razors in your local 7-Eleven. I had latently been trying to find a good razor for over a year and then scored one in Gentleman´s store in Amsterdam. Scarce availability makes you appreciate your product even more. The current manufacturer for Bismarck blades, Dovo, is not either that accessible. Their website is only in German and although I technically should understand it, the experience is not as smooth as your everyday Gillette. That is accompanied with only having product information as PDF. Old-school brand should consider do they need new-school website.
5. Have sense of danger in your product
Although we don´t need to wrestle lions anymore, it feels quite manly to take care of your beard with weapon that could theoretically kill you. That makes you humble and grateful after every shave.

Sometimes the secret to making your product desirable is to actually make it more complicated and less accessible than the competitors.

*Using straight razor is naturally easier for guys like me who need to only shave once a week. Current beard trend helps also in that you do not be that clean-shaven daily.

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Are You Failing to Act, or Acting to Fail?

Strategy is not necessarily about deciding to do something. Sometimes it is about deciding not to do anything. Strategy is not about actions, it is about making decisions (and deliberate choices) based on where you want to go and reflected through realities around you.

Action is easy. Making a deliberate decision for inaction is harder.


Good example of this are penalty kicks in football (or soccer in US). Goalie is in definite disadvantage to catch the ball because 80% of all penalty kicks will score. For goalie, there are three options: go left, right or stay put. According to the study, 49% of times they turn to right, 45% to left and only 6% time they stay where they are. However, they should stay they where they are, because then they would have 33.3% change of halting the penalty kick instead of 14.2% on the left and 12.6 percent on the right.

Why they still jump although it is inferior strategy?

Mainly because they feel better when they do that. At least they tried. If you fail when you have done something it does not feel not as bad as failure due to inaction. The reality of probabilities does not change your feelings. People do not generally understand probabilities. Although you increase your choices on catching the ball, the majority of penalty kicks will still be goals. Doing the wrong thing is justified, because “at least you did something”:

“If things turn bad, at least they (goalies) will be able to say that they tried to do something, whereas if they choose not to change anything and the situation continues to be poor (or becomes worse), it may be hard to avoid the criticism that despite the warning signs they ‘didn’t do anything’”

Action Bias Among Elite Soccer Goalkeepers: The case of penalty kicks

How often brands have changed their tagline just because they got a new marketing director?  How often we flip-flop with our strategy just because “we need to do something”? How often we change teams just to “shake things up”. Being quick to act is good method to appear decisive, but it does not necessarily mean that you are truly thinking strategically.

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The Referee and The Player: Digital Media´s Dilemma

“We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to ComScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”

– Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP CEO)

The most successful companies of digital age are data companies. The data is their core business, so it is quite understandable they are not particularly keen to share their most valuable asset to third party companies. There is a worry that competitors could get to learn their secrets. The dilemma is that some of the secrets are crucial for business success, but other secrets are quite dirty.

“I don’t lie. I just massage the truth.”

– Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Facebook inflated numbers for their videos for over two years. I was not particularly shocked. 56% of display ads are never seen. Majority of the ads that are seen, are not really seen by humans but bots. 100 of millions of people are blocking mobile ads every single day, so you are most likely serving your ads to less digital savvy audience.

Digital advertising has always been prone to fidgeting with numbers. Anyone who has worked in digital media, knows that there are tricks to inflate certain KPIs when your monthly report is due. Companies are not exactly telling lies about their numbers, but they are not telling the whole truth either. Everyone reports their main metrics a little bit differently, so that the numbers match with their sales pitch (not the other way around).

It is not necessarily with everyone interest to have 3rd party assessment for the biggest platforms, but it would definitely help. Other important thing would be to have more unified metrics across the main platforms:

  1. For big reach channels with minimal ad interruption (e.g. Facebook) it should be the average audience in any given minute.
  2. For more interruption and visible formats (e.g. YouTube pre-roll) it should be the time seen and actions taken.
  3. At the end of the day it should always be about the eCommerce sales. Actual transactions are harder to fake with bots and different reporting standards.

It might also be that recent “videogate” does not change anything. The literacy for marketers regarding numbers and data is unfortunately still quite low.

“The issue is being hugely overblown. Marketers do not care about it, and it has zero impact on spend.”

Jason Stein (Laundry Service CEO)

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Ruining The User Experience at The Last Mile

Even some of the best web services fail with the last mile. It took minutes for me to fulfill all the password requirements for this web service:


The whole process with the passwords is unsatisfying at best and downright painful at worst (like in the example stated below). The passwords in general are not safe and the whole idea of doing a random list of characters, numbers mixed with upper and lower case is quite outdated. It is more annoyance than something that truly improves your security.

If even Edward Snowden is advocating passphrases, I would recommend majority of web services to change their password policies to favor passphrases (e.g. icanuse4wordsbaby instead of tRes4$Ce). It would improve both security and user experience. And as a user you would also remember your passwords better.

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Show That You Care and Don´t Screw Up

If waiter repeats customer´s order, he is more likely to get a tip. Just by repeating order, 78% gave tip compared to 52% when waiter just confirmed the order. It is a simple thing, but how many waiters really do it?  It is also good rule to live by every time you are serving customers. You need empathy but you need to deliver as well.

Show that you care
People love their own words and decisions. Repeating the order confirms that you have done the right decision. Customers will experience sameness with the servers, like them more and will leave bigger tips.

Don´t screw up
When waiter repeats the order, there are higher likelihood that the order will be right. By doing something that showcases interest of your customer´s needs, you are also securing your own back.

It is win-win situation: you appreciate the customer and same time you minimize your probability of doing mistake. In Singapore context though, I don´t know what would be the result on tip when waiter repeats your order but is still able to mess it up.

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The Difference Between a Champion and a Mere Competitor


“He (Ashton Eaton) loves the limelight when it means seeing his name on record boards,” Metcalf said. “But he doesn’t like to beat other people. As a high-school boys’ coach, you can kind of get in the grill a bit and pump them up, say ‘Let’s get this guy.’ But Ashton never worked that way.”

Metcalf told him to think of the decathlon as a competition against the self—a common enough approach, but one that continues to come in handy for Eaton, who, at this point, is often competing against his own records.”

Mary Pilon: Can Ashton Easton Save Decathlon? (New Yorker)

 When you truly don´t care about others and don´t enjoy winning other people than yourself, you have reached the highest level of mastery.

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Never Think Outside The Box

One of the most annoying cliches in advertising is the”thinking outside the box”. This term is usually used by people, who are not usually known for their thinking at the first place. ”Thinking outside the box” means totally useless brainstorming for hours and random ideas you cannot use anywhere.

Not too fond of brainstorming either. Workshops have to be very tightly defined and organized to be useful. Instead of huge committee circle-jerking half-boiled ideas, it is usually more productive to force people to write ideas alone.

The first problem is not that we don´t think outside the box, it is that majority of people don´t think, period.

Second problem is that we just don´t know what our box is.

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The Difference Between Start-up Event and Marketing Event

Last week I was in Slush Singapore and the event was awesome. It was also breath of fresh air from traditional industry events, where you usually end up when working in marketing. What was also refreshing that I had to really explain what I am doing for work as the majority of people were not familiar with the weird acronyms we have as our “brands”. Can you truly explain what you do?

When I was talking to start-ups, pretty much every single one of them was explaining how their product, innovation or service is making the world a better place. Of course everyone wants to be a unicorn and get big fat investing rounds, but that was not the first thing you heard from them. The sense of purpose was something that came across first. Therefore I had really interesting discussions there and exchanged way more cards than in typical marketing event.

When you go to advertising seminar, the dialogue goes like this:

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$*



AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$


and this continues as long as there is free booze.

We are only talking about ourselves. We preach our clients how they should be consumer-centric and communicate that way, but we are not practicing what we preach. For masters of branding, we truly suck on it. To be able to make your client interesting, you have to be interesting as well.

Talking about the cobbler´s children are the worst shod.

So what is the main difference between start-up event and marketing event?

First ones are interesting and inspiring. Latter ones are just painful waste of time.

I love marketing, but our industry is standing on burning platform. The talk about changing our ways has been mostly just smoke and mirrors for majority of agencies. We have taken some buzzwords from start-up world and put it to our presentations and think that we are innovative.  Current advertising is only relevant to advertisers and agencies. Advertising is not shaping popular culture anymore. Some could almost argue that we are not even part of popular culture.

Marketing is more important than ever. This was also obvious when talking with start-ups. They need help on how to break through clutter: how to be noticed, how to create memorable brand and tell interesting stories. They are in desperate need of agency expertise, but bureaucratic processes and archaic ways of working make collaboration almost impossible. Agencies are slow, the most interesting future clients are not.

Luckily it is not only gloom and doom and there are some awesome initiatives towards right direction (and luckily in firm where I am working for). Evolution does not save us, we need revolution.

* Way less money than any start-up is getting on their financing rounds.

** And that great work is categorized by fellow ad guys not the general public

**** In reality just some scam project

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5 Reasons Why Snapchat Spectacles Will Become a Hit

Google Glass failed because it was used by uncool nerds in shower and maybe due to some other reasons as well. Snapchat recently announced Spectacles, their first hardware offering.

Compared to Google glasses, I see rosier future for the Snapchat spectacles:

1. Hardware supports existing Snapchat product.

You can immediately envision how the new Spectacles actually enhance your Snapchat user experience. Spectacles are slave for overall Snapchat use case and provide natural gateway to deepen your relationship with brand. Google Glass was more branded as a separate product.

2. They are more lifestyle than technology.


The glasses look cool. They totally embody Snapchat brand. Spectacles are so LA. They are not looking like bunch of engineers designed it, which has been the Achilles’ heel of many wearables. Wearables should be approached fashion-first, technology-second. Usually it is great if you can create a tribe of followers, unless they are called glassholes.

3. They are meant for only one thing.

You can only record 10s video with it, that´s it. We don´t need swiss army knife wearables, we need wearables that are good at doing on particular thing. The videos are not just replicas of what you would be creating with smartphone. They are circular, which resemble more of human vision. The videos created with Spectacles are unique.

4. They are affordable.

“They’re positioning it as this fun toy for people to engage with, not something that you need to think about as your next big technology investment.”

– Josh Elman, Greylock Partners

They only cost 130 dollars, so teens are more likely to drunk buy them from eCommerce site instead of Apple watch.

5. Spectacles have nothing to lose, but much to gain

“It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.”

– Evan Spiegel (Snapchat CEO)

The CEO of Snapchat calls the spectacles a toy and there will be limited distribution in the beginning. Snapchat will not live or die with Spectacles. However, if Spectacles will become hit, it could have interesting implications for Snapchat. They could free themselves from the confinement of smartphones. Snapchat has already forced brands to create vertical video, maybe this will change on how we approach digital photography in general. Philosophically it is also interesting that Spectacles are meant for the selfie-generation but the focus is outwards. You are filming what happens around you, not yourself.

What starts now as novelty, could become a true game changer.

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Is Digital Targeting Just a Hoax?

Before I went to holiday, there was lots of chatter about the ”failed” Facebook targeting experiment of P&G. This naturally gave fuel to the fire to those denouncing digital advertising (namely Ad Contrarian). Essentially P&G run targeted Facebook for Febreze (pet owners and large families for example), but they got better results when they were just targeting broader audience of just over 18 year olds.

If you have been doing marketing at professional level for a while the results were not surprising at all. However, you should not use this as a proof point that targeting does not work, because of the following reasons:

1. FMCG is a different kind of beast, you can just blast your audience with bazooka

“The bigger your brand, the more you need broad reach and less targeted media,”

– Brian Weiser, Pivotal Research Analyst

Majority of P&G brands (including Febreze) are unique brands because they are truly for everyone. Majority of FMCG is mass reach, so it is not surprising that when you have broad targeting you have better results than when just focusing on few sub-segments. Actually in most of the markets you should not even bother with Facebook. If you have money running TV ads, they would still probably be more effective than doing anything on Facebook. And that is essentially what P&G has done. They have increased their TV spending. FMCG is first-and-foremost about top-of-mind and visibility on shelf. To achieve that you opt for the channel getting you maximum awareness.

Pretty much all the rest of the brands cannot work with such a broad sweep. Not all of the products live and die through the mass awareness. If you need to get 1000 quality leads, targeting the whole population is not most likely be more cost-effective than smart targeting. The main benefits of digital advertising come when you are selling in eCommerce, because you can then truly track your results and optimize. Then shooting with bazooka is not the right tactic.

2. Targeting without personalization is not targeting

Apparently they run the same creative to all the different segments. This is akin to running nighttime ad at 11AM. It is like narrowing the list of girls you want to go out to date with, but addressing them all with the same name. If content is king, context is truly the king kong. As you have narrowed your audience, you should also narrow your message to be as relevant as possible to your target audience.

3. Targeting based on intuition is not targeting

In the articles it was not said how the different target groups (pet owners and large families) were selected, but I would assume that they were based on human intuition. The beauty of digital advertising is that you let machines to try out different target groups, different messages and let them automatically favor what truly works. Humans are incapable of handling that many tasks and they are more biased than smart algorithm.

So the failure of Febreze seems obvious in hindsight. You started narrowing although your audience is as broad as it gets. You did not narrow your message to your narrow audience. Lastly you based your targeting on human intuition instead of testing potential audiences with machine learning.

The more we let algorithms handle our marketing, the more effective it will become. P&G experiment shows more human fault than failure of highly-targeted, highly automated algorithm-driven approach.

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