Monthly Archives: October 2014

9 Tips On How To Be An Interesting Conference Speaker

I used to speak in quite a lot of seminars and conferences.
Nowadays I do it less, which means that I do not generally attend any conferences any more. I have some real work to do.
It is always nice to meet new people, but generally they are always the same people frequenting the seminars (those who have time for them). Other reason why I am avoiding the seminars is the quality of the presentations. Generally they are really boring. If I don´t get a new idea from every presentation, the time spent surfing web and watching cat videos would be time better spent.
Based on my experience in conference circuit, below are nine tips on how to outshine your competitors on the stage. If I would conclude it to one sentence, it would be about: “People are not interested about what you know, but what do you think and feel”. If you can convey that in your presentation, you are already quite far on making compelling presentation:

1. Have a point of view
This is the most important thing. When you are speaking at a conference, your main goal is to be interesting. You are not promoting your company; you are promoting your thinking.
What is the main idea you want to get across? If you do not have that clear idea with your presentation, you should get out of that stage. Now.
Having a point of view does not mean that you are smart or even close to the actually truth. The information is accessible to everyone, but only you can provide your own point-of-view. That is what makes you unique presenter. Don´t tell me stats I already know, but what is your take on those stats.

2. Don´t pitch your company, pitch yourself
I met my ex-colleague during lunch break of seminar he was attending. He mentioned that majority of the talks were just company pitches. This is like a plague especially in Singapore. I even attended Pecha Kucha here and majority of the talks were company pitches without no personality or point-of-view.
It was really downer.
I have gotten leads from every industry seminar I have spoken. I have usually mentioned firm I was working in the beginning and occasionally shown couple of case studies of what I have done (if relevant). That´s it. 99% of the presentation has been trying present compelling point-of-view about the state of world. Generally after the seminar, there has been a queue of people coming to talk more. There will be opportunities to handle your business cards and give your elevator pitch after your presentation. Would you rather talk with an interesting person with compelling views or desperate salesman who just sweats desperation?

3. Go against the grain
You have to make your audience feel something. If you are speaking in Social Media conference, have a title “Social Media is Dead” because every other presentation is praising the collective power of social media and using the same case studies. You don´t need to preach the idea of social media to already those already converted. You have to wake them up!
Generally people who attend seminars are more up-to-date with the world, so you can try provoking some thoughts from them. Also those who would need digital marketing education never attend the digital marketing seminars.

4. Good presentation asks questions, but does not provide answers
Usually length of a presentation in seminar is 45 minutes. It is quite a short time. If you can make people think and asking questions, your goal is accomplished. The idea is not showcase everything you know, but to showcase the highlights of what you know and think in interesting way.

5. Good presentation is entertainment, not education
In seminars you have a fierce competitor for the attention: the smartphone. Immediately you are sounding boring, people start to focus on their mobile devices.

6. Don´t Sweat The Technique
I have seen great presentations without any aids or props. I also have seen awesome presentations, which use all the technical bells and whistles you can imagine. If you have the compelling point-of-view, the technique can either amplify or weaken it. It is more about personal preferences and style you have when presenting. Prepare also that there are always technical difficulties: no Apple adapters, fonts missing, computer breaking down, timelines not met, and microphone on mute… Be professional with it and go through the worst-case scenario before your presentation. Be ready to present even without your precious slides.

7. Adjust to the audience
Smaller the audience, the more interactivity I try to have and vice versa. General rule-of-thumb is that bigger the audience you have the more idiotic the questions will be. That is because they are not questions anymore, but more about showing how smart the asker is. Usually they are also pitching their company. Save that stuff for after-seminar cocktails, please.

8. Don´t Say Sorry
I don´t care if you haven´t had time to prepare your slides. When you are in the stage, be proud and don´t apologize your existence. You should be there for a reason.

9. Dress snappily
If everything else fails, at least they remember that you had flair and mint sneakers.

Speaking of conferences, I don´t like sending my slides in advance either.

Tagged , , , , ,

Anatomy of An Insight: Bud Jukebox

Marketing alcohol brands in bar setting is a delightful task, because generally your audience is quite willing to hear your proposition.

One of the smartest gimmicks I have encountered was in Divine Bar. When you order a wine bottle, “a wine fairy” goes to fetch the bottle with cable. The whole order was part of performance. It definitely got our group to order bottle of wine instead of just having regular pints. Actually they could even up the ante by placing the most expensive wines the highest to encourage even more splurging:

Wine Fairy

“Wine Fairy” reaching for the bottle in the middle of the picture (sorry for the blurry picture, it was a blurry night)

The following Budweiser activation is a brilliant idea merging together promotion to sell more beer and providing actual value to the consumer:

Budweiser – Bud Jukebox from Bruno de Carvalho Barbosa on Vimeo.

Insight: Choosing a beer in bar setting is quite arbitrary. You either choose what is on the tap or go with the best promotion. How could you do the beer promotion so it would have a little bit more idea on it? What value could you provide which goes beyond traditional discount?
Jukeboxes are social glue in bars. There are always people who want to play some music and also pay for it. What if you could have jukebox, which works with only Budweiser beer caps? Would you select Budweiser instead of Miller to get that “currency”?

The idea is just perfect for the bar setting: fun, simple and relevant for the product. Not to mention increasing sales of the product. I love ideas where you turn a neglected part of the product (this time beer cap) to something valuable.

Tagged , , , , , ,

How To Survive in World? Take The Piss Out of Everything

All the personal development stuff in workplaces makes me feel awkward.

Self-assessments, 360 reviews and personal SWOT evaluation is just a really odd and alien concept to me. I am more familiar with the competitive sports feedback loop. Your coach keeps saying that you suck, until you become better, hit your coach or quit (can be combination of all of the above). Negative feedback fuels your fire to show the world.

Developing yourself is naturally important and performance reviews in work as well. Maybe because of that sports background, I generally remember the negative feedback better. The following two criticisms I have gotten throughout the years have stick for some reason:

1. Being too cerebral

I had to check what that word evens means from a dictionary. I think that proves that this criticism was not really valid.

2. Trying to make joke about everything

This I heartily endorse and will continue to do as long I am living and breathing. 

If you do not recognize the absurdity of work and life in general, you will likely suffocate to your own seriousness. Like my spiritual advisers Monty Python stated in their song “Meaning of Life”:
What’s the point of all this hoax?
Is it the chicken and the egg time, are we just yolks?
Or perhaps we’re just one of God’s little jokes
Well ca c’est the meaning of life

The humor is the greatest survival mechanism to the various setbacks of life. Continuing with my gurus Monty Python from “Always look on the bright side of life”:

Life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see its all a show, keep ’em laughin as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you
Always look on the bright side
of life…

Humor is a universal way for people to connect. You laugh with someone, laugh at someone or are the one who is laughed at.
When people and things get too self-righteousness to their own right, it serves as a balancing act. If you are not able to laugh at the things you are doing, you have drunk your own Kool-Aid for way too long.
Irony is the highest form of self-confidence. That is why we trust people who are able to laugh at themselves. We recognize that they realized something bigger in this life. If you look at the bright side of life, generally the bright side will eventually appear.

The minority of us still buying records in 2014 has experienced the surge of special pre-order packages from artists. With colored vinyl records, autographed shirts and other swag, artists are trying to fill the void of the disappeared record sales. Rappers El-P & Killer (collectively known as Run The Jewels) took a delicate piss on the phenomenon with pre-order packages to their sequel Run The Jewels –effort. In addition to real colored vinyl and merchandise packages, there were a couple of really crazy ones:

The We Are Gordon Ramsey Package*: 150,000.00 USD
Run The Jewels will self produce a new episode of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey, with Mike and El both playing Gordon Ramsey.  We will travel to a restaurant with you of your choice, completely uninvited, and attempt to force them to change their menu. All the while verbally abusing and insulting the entire staff to hilarious effect.
The Self Righteousness For Sale Package*: 350,000.00 USD
Run The Jewels will spend 6 months pretending to care about whatever you care about.  We will travel to no more than 3 events of your choosing and make eloquent, timely speeches on your causes behalf.  We will shoot a heartfelt, informative video for your cause as well as co-author an info packet to be distributed on your causes behalf that includes an original song called “WE’VE GOT TO BRING _ _ _ _ _ _ _ TO AN END”.  This offer does not extend to terrorists or cops.
The Run The Jewels Retirement Plan Package*: 10,000,000.00 USD
Run The Jewels will retire from music, making only one song a year for you personally. Every song title will be your name with a number next to it.  You are free to exploit these recordings however you feel like. 
All run the jewels publishing from any new song created during our retirement
2 fake gold 36” chains
2 green hands
A sticker

The Meow The Jewels Package*: 40,000.00 USD
Run The Jewels will re-record RTJ2 using nothing but cat sounds for music. You are free to profit from this album in any way you see fit up to 100k in net global profit or 3 years (whichever comes first).

Actually the last one has now become a reality. Hardcore fan started a Kickstarter campaign to raise those 40k. And as of writing this, it has already gone over that goal.
Yes we are getting a rap album done entirely from cat sounds:

The surrealism continues with this video where El-P “auditions” potential collaborators:

Where this really gets interesting is that the proceeds from Meow the Jewels will benefit Eric Garner and Mike Brown, who were victims of police brutality. El-P summarized the project really nicely:

“(This is) an opportunity to possibly do something good in the stupidest way possible.”

Just because you are not taking things serious, does not mean that you don´t care.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Anatomy of An Insight: Horse With Harden


NBA season is starting soon and it will be super interesting.
Kobe and Derek Rose are back and Lebron is back in Cleveland.
From advertising perspective I have really enjoyed the James Harden & Foot Locker collaboration, which has resulted in many entertaining ads like “Short Memory”-series:

Charles Barkley is the greatest player ever and the most funniest commentator as well:

Pt.2 shows that sequels don´t ever work in Internet:

However, one of the more innovative campaigns was James Harden playing HORSE with Interwebs:

Insight: It is the age of YouTube celebrities. With enough time, you are able to do a trick shot that even the best NBA players cannot nail in one go. Opportunity to flex your special shot against James Harden is just too tempting.

It is always tricky for a brand to get people to engage to their competitions. When you can provide exposure and fame to the participant, the devoted fans will deliver. When you have people investing their time and putting their best effort to the campaign it will become interesting content for those who just want to consume the entertainment.

I have to say I like James Harden more as an advertising person than player, because this Beard Guru ad for NBA 2K15 is hilarious as well:

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Judge The Book By Its Cover

My publisher said that there are two things that determine the success of a book:

  1. The Cover (front 95%, Backcover including the summary 5%)
  2. The Name of the book

Generally author does not have anything to say with either of these. Naturally first I was offended as an author by the comment. However, when I started to analyze my own behavior in library, this made perfect sense. If I don´t know the author, I skim the cover and the title quickly and move on.

I trusted my publisher´s judgment and both books sold well. Although I am marketing professional, my view of the product (myself) was jaded. I had basically drunk my own Kool-Aid for too long. You need people who have non-biased view of your business and brand. Therefore I am a little bit suspicious if same team works for too long with same brand. You start to become too attached to it and the same time distanced from reality. Majority of brands do not live in reality, but in their own imaginary brand universe. One of the most important tasks for the agencies is to connect the brands with reality.

Other important lesson with the books is the short attention span. Your magnum opus will be assessed in matter of seconds, and if you don´t catch the attention immediately, no one will buy it. When people don´t know you, they judge you quickly and based on superficial things. Majority of the people do not want to try new things, they just want to find slightly different versions of things they already like. That is why novels from the same category always look the same and everyone wants to have Nordic crime writer on their roster.

If you become successful author, the meaning of the book´s name and cover diminishes but does not totally vanish. There will always be people who do not know you, although you are New York Times bestselling writer. When you have attracted enough people with your cover and catchy title, eventually your name as a writer becomes the main decision criteria. To get there is a long journey.

For a newcomer, this is important thing to point out. You have to first establish the reference point, before you can show how you are different.

Tagged , , , ,

How To Conduct An Effective Meeting?

I don´t like meetings.

They go overtime, everyone is late, and no one is listening but instead just playing with their smartphone. Every agency has certain amount of personnel, whose sole purpose is to book pointless status update meetings. Usually they are the people who don´t have to do the actual worh. These meetings are just a way to secure their ass and tick some imaginary milestone on calendar.

My work is to think and present that thinking, not to sit in pointless meetings going same things over and over again. Unfortunately the more people you have with opinion in the meeting room, the less effective your marketing will be. The same applies to all the revision rounds.

Advertising seldom is a democracy. It is war of the ideas, where every opinion is not equal. You have to fight for the ideas, until you win or lose.

There is a need for meetings and good ideas can come from anywhere. The problem comes when you try to fix all the issues in one single meeting. There are times when you have to make decisions and when you have to come up with ideas. To try to do both things at the same time is lunacy.

So what you need to do is to only have two different types of meetings (and never ever confuse these two):

  1. Getting sh*t done -meetings (15-30 minutes)

This is project management with tight leash: tight agenda, tight timeline and total army discipline. Deciding on stuff on max. 30 minutes, preferably less. Clear leader for the meeting and limited opportunity to voice your concerns. The goal of this meeting is to make sure that the project is on timeline, right track and all the practicalities are taking cared. No joking around, you can really feel the pressure on this meeting. If someone starts brainstorming throw him with an apple, pen or whatever comes handy in the meeting room. If he continues, use more severe methods. Time is ticking, so shut up.

  1. Getting sh*t figured out –meetings (2-4 hours)

Call it brainstorming, kicking around the idea or ideating. This can take the whole day and it does not have to happen in boring meeting room. Get somewhere else to let the creative juices flow. Talk about it over lunch or over a drink. In these meetings every opinion has a value and the timeline is more relaxed. You still have a goal for the meeting, but it builds up gradually.

If you follow this construct when doing meetings, you will be much happier and more effective person in workplace.

Tagged , , , , , ,

All Advertising Problems Are Translation Problems

We talk (usually) the same language and use the same terms in the advertising agencies. Still we often cannot understand each other.

Every agency should try to minimize these unfortunate and time-consuming translation arguments by creating:

Agreed definition on the basic advertising terms

Concept, idea, creative route, insight, big idea, exploration, strategy, social, proposition, …

Here are some terms that quite often have as many interpretations as there are people in the room. I have seen the most trivial & obvious things stated as an insight that they have made me want to jump from the window. Every agency should have agreed written definitions of all the common terms used when doing the work. Every single member of the agency should be instructed to go it through and learn it by heart. When different people would have dispute about the work, these definitions would serve as the basis of the discussion. Maybe company should also have translators to solve the conflicts?

All of the new clients would be taken through these definitions in the beginning of the relationship. This would reduce the probability of misinterpretation and ensure that everyone is in the same page.

Translation problems naturally do not stop there. When you have written something down, it is easier to understand in wrong way. That is why the nitpicking on copy can take totally absurd levels.

Tagged , , , ,

Who Will Be The Master of Internet Universe?

Web is dead.

That is the title of one of the greatest articles ever written about digital revolution four years ago to Wired. The main points about that brilliant piece are still valid, although speed of mobile revolution surprised many of the players for a while. The main idea of the story is that web starts to resemble more and more traditional industry with handful of players. Web is oligopoly and certain verticals almost resemble monopolies.

If you simplify the consumer-facing web business (so I am excluding infrastructure and other boring things which is where the real money is), it is about three things: products, commerce & advertising. Products enable you to connect to the Internet: smartphones, computers, watches, television sets, fridges and whatnot. Commerce is about being able to buy things from Internet and advertising is what it is: bombarding you with messages to buy more stuff.

Product category as we know it will eventually be commoditized. If you want to remain premium, you have to innovate constantly. That is the only way to remain luxury brand in this realm. Cheap smartphones will eventually beat the premium ones. In the future you are able to connect to Internet in whatever device and you do not really have to pay that much of that privilege.
Where the growth will come? Wearables can be the future winner product category, although they have not really yet taken off. The changes are rapid though. iPad was launched only four years ago, created totally new category and is currently at risk of vanishing because of the phablets. So is the life.
Current champions: Apple, Samsung
Challengers: Xiaomi and other cheap manufacturers
Disrupters: Luxury brands (Would connectivity enhance Rolex? I say not, but I might be wrong as well)

Commerce will become even bigger and you are able to buy pretty much everything online. Will all the physical retail vanish? Not necessarily, but the point is not about that. It is about that you are able to buy everything online, and majority of people will do exactly that, because it is more convenient and affordable.
Commerce is the biggest opportunity and a space I follow most closely. Strong brands will definitely start to create their own online retail experiences, which would enable them to bypass the more traditional retail channels. In the next decade there will be lots of turmoil in this category and many big players will fall and new challengers will arise. Biggest challenges are not that much about technology (lots of payment innovations happening), but about logistics.
Second interesting point is that idea of commerce has changed with shared economy. Both Uber and AirBnB are selling physical service, which would not be possible without digital channel. How far collaborative economy can be stretched remains to be seen. It can potentially be really big disruptor to the way we do business in general.
Last point about commerce is the ecosystem approach. Apple makes money constantly through App Store by enabling others to make money. Facebook is building app ecosystem with the acquisition of Instagram, WhatsApp and Parse. Both Amazon and Alibaba are enabling developers to build things on their platform.
Current Champions: Amazon, AliBaba, Ebay
Challengers: Google, Facebook, WeChat, Line, Apple (Apple Pay) 
Disrupters: Brands, FMCG brands, Collaborative economy players (Uber, Airbnb…)

Advertising will be important, because people will keep on buying stuff. Stuff makes us happy. More stuff makes us even happier. How are you able to buy that stuff if you do not know that it exists?
Will advertising become smarter in the future? Yes and no. In last decade or so, we have had one revolutionary advertising idea. That is SEM. You show people ads when they actually want to see ads. Contextual advertising and retargeting have been nice inventions, but mainly advertising is still based on interruption (some of it being more relevant like app install ads). One of the most innovative companies in the world, Facebook, makes most of its money by interrupting its users in various ways.
The advertising business is relatively simple: it is all about reach. All of the most successful advertising platforms are based on firstly to reach and then secondly the quality of those who you are reaching. That is unlikely to change. However, the biggest task is to try to narrow the gap between the interruption (advertising) and purchase (commerce). The monetary exchange is the only tangible KPI we have and less you have to travel to do it, the better.

Current Champions: Google, Facebook
Challengers: WeChat, Line, Twitter (was tempted to leave it out completely, but I give it a shot still), “Traditional media companies”(although I do not really have high hopes for their complete digital transformation, but they will remain influential on this space as well)
Disrupters: Amazon (the closer you are to the actual transaction, the less you have to interrupt), Content owners (although none of them has done any major moves and have mainly milked the status quo)

The lines are naturally blurry. The quote from Eric Schmidt summarizes the whole situation:

Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.”

That is also the reason why these big companies are testing weird things and buying obscure companies. Internet has made it easier to disrupt a category and also connect categories in new way. Facebook & Google test drones, so it can bring Internet the people who don´t have it yet. Thus increasing the reach. Amazon tests drones, because shipping is the biggest bottleneck of eCommerce. When your business can start to flourish rapidly, it can also vanish rapidly. There is no time to sleep, because sleep is the cousin of death.

What do you think, who will become the master of the Internet universe?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Embrace The Constraints but Break The Barriers

I work only to deadlines.

Generally it would never occur to me write a presentation today, which would be due next week. When writing (whether a document or presentation) I need to be in a state of panic, despair and insanity to produce anything.

I am not probably the only one.

Constraints are good, because they help you to focus what you need to do. You have week to do this, the budget would be 100k and we will use mobile. You immediately know what to do. Being without constraints does not actually help creativity, because when you are working on a clean slate you can mess it up with all sorts of irrelevant crap. Thinking outside of the box is not helpful; instead you should try to expand the box as much as possible. The box is always there.

Constraints bring effectiveness, because humans procrastinators by nature (which is not necessarily bad thing). Constraints define the playing field you are and what game you are playing. Which is essential. Playing soccer in basketball court is not innovative, it is just lunacy. You can still do innovative and crazy things within your constraints.


  • Time (Faster is better)
  • Money (Usually there is never enough)
  • Brand belief (Good brand knows what it is and what it is not. It stays true to its belief and does change according to fads)
  • Target audience (Hardest projects are those where you are trying to speak to really broad mass audience. Quite often that is not really the case and you can actually narrow it down, but certain brands and products really have target audience of entire population)

What makes the job hard is not constraints, but the barriers.

They are quite often mistaken for constraints, but the difference is obvious. Instead of defining playing field, barriers are stopping you from doing great work inside that playing field. Sometimes they might come from your inner insecurity (“I don´t dare to do it”) or from general spinelessness of other people (“I am afraid to rock the boat”). Common trait of these barriers is that people who keep throwing them to your playing field genuinely believe that they are helping in defining the problem. In reality they are just making everyone´s life miserable and increasing the mediocrity in this world. And this is an unforgivable sin.


  • Fear (“We cannot present this, it is too bold”)
  • Reluctance (“We tried this 4 years ago, it did not work”)
  • Egoism (“I know better because I won this award 10 years ago and have lived off it since then”)
  • Stupidity (“The copy text has word don´t, isn´t that negative?)
  • Weakness (“Let´s give them exactly what they ask and not what they need”)

So embrace your constraints because they help to get shit done. At the same time try to break the barriers as much as possible, because that helps you to do things that you can be proud of.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Anatomy of An Insight: Base + Spotify PartyDrone

I thought that everything there were left to say about drones was in this ad:

Luckily I was wrong, because this is really nice:

Insight: Many festival sponsors try to catch the attention in the actual festival area. That is hard, as you are competing of the attention with the main attractions: the bands. Therefore wise marketer uses places that are not that contested. Like in this case the route to the actual festival area. Especially in the Nordic music festivals, camping area is quite untapped potential for many marketers and people actually craving for entertainment. Personalization was nice added bonus, but I think that just bringing music and entertainment to places which do not have those, is a great insight and idea.

I see potential for this idea to be used in further campaigns for Spotify as well and not just a one-off. In general, I feel that Drones are perfect fit for surprise and delight –campaigns. Just as long you remember that drone is not the actual idea, but what inspiring, innovative and insightful you can do with the drone.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: