Launch of the I AM KING Website.

What a fantastic project!   It was a bit of a whirlwind, but we made some new friends and are looking forward to the future!

Visit the site!

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Social Media – Leveling the Marketing Playing Field

One of the numerous aspects of social media that I find compelling is the way it (the movement and the technology) has brought the more forward-thinking members of the marketing industry together – agencies, brand managers, technology providers, suppliers, competitors, you name it.   Obviously, social media brings all sorts of like-minded people together, regardless of the industry.  The camaraderie you find across a number of more creative industries is fueled by social media-driven connections.  Sure, people may meet at conferences or tradeshows, but lasting connections are forged in social media.  How else are you going to stay in touch these days?

I recently came across an interesting project called The Project 100:

What is The Project 100?

100 authors.  400 words each.  1 Collaborative Book on “Project 100: Marketing in the Social Media Era.

I have been involved in modern digital marketing since its inception, but I have never seen marketers from all walks of life – from behemoths like P&G to the smallest non-profit – rally around something like they do social media.  People certainly rallied around the web back in the day, but this is a more narrow slice of the digital channel that people are seemingly dedicating their working existence to for the sake of marketing.

Marketing people and companies are carving out their niche, and in doing so, are using social media to weave vast networks of other like-minded marketers – regardless of their place in the marketing world.  The guy with the Facebook app is befriending the CMO of the beverage company.  The outspoken blogger is earning the respect of the blogging CPG Marketing Director.  All because of a mutual respect for and belief in the opportunities around social media and some mutual success.  Finally, we have an amazing set of tools for casually and painlessly maintaining these relationships.

Would the CMO typically give the Facebook app developer the time of day if they were forced to rely on phone calls, email and in-person meetings?  No way.  But we happen to have the perfect meshing of mutual interest, admiration, tools, and most importantly, the need to innovate in marketing.

If I am just being naive, just let me be.  I am just going to enjoy.

Dedicated to My First Love: Hip-Hop

“…Told her if she got an image and a gimmick
That she could make money, and she did it …
Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal
She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle
Now she be in the ’burbs lookin’ rock and dressin’ hip
…who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop”

– Common

Loving hip hop, in the past, meant following the newest trends, as well as to perform acapella renditions of classic hip hop songs with my friends. It meant observing and sometimes following urban fashion trends. It meant religiously listening to Hot 97 to be up on the newest songs, and avidly watching Free and AJ host BET’s 106th and Park to learn the latest dances. It meant disobeying my mother’s wishes to switch to a musical genre that didn’t frequently use offensive language. I loved hip-hop so much I fantasized of acquiring an internship and eventually landing a job at a major record label such as Def Jam or Atlantic Records. The internship I got instead exceeded any daydream I had, let alone any expectations I had for the internship. So like Common, I took loving hip-hop to the next level the summer of ’08; I committed to her.

My desire to be closer to hip-hop led me to Acme Content Co, a branding company. The opportunity wasn’t necessarily what I had in mind, but I was willing to give it a shot. I was told that corporate giant P&G, was looking to successfully market their body spray, TAG, by differentiating the product from the competing body spray. P&G and its companies observed that there were no body sprays that targeted young, urban males. P&G and Acme agreed that the best way to successfully market to urban, young males was through hip-hop. In order to believably market to this demographic, they decided to team up with the living hip-hop legend, and coincidentally, the president of Island Def Jam, Jermaine Dupri to start a record label from the ground up. These perceptive observations led to TAG Records’ birth, a little before I signed on to work for the internship. I started working just as they were deciding between two acts. They finally agreed on the lyricist Q da Kid. I must admit, I was fairly impressed with the decision to sign Q, because the other act would’ve been a much safer choice because of the whole N.E.R.D./ Lupe Fiasco/Kanye West vibe the group had going for it. But instead Q was chosen, despite his rawness. They saw potential in this dude from Brooklyn, who was also committed to hip-hop and decided to take a chance on him. I respected that. I also respected their decision to give him creative freedom with very reasonable limits. So learning this, I felt pretty confident that I would soon feel comfortable joining the team that would help to make both P&G’s and Q’s dream come true.

I courted hip-hop mainly through TAG’s Myspace page. I communicated with other music lovers, and fans of both TAG and Q. I also helped to build our network through Core Djs’ networking site. I officially became the intern/community manager. Every day I listened to our friends’ music and help to decide which artists would make “Spotlight.” I also made sure I was up to date with the ever-evolving music industry by reading blogs. I also loved the perks, such as free music, attending commercial shoots and other major events as well as meeting hip hop celebrities. Like all relationships, it wasn’t always easy, but if you love what you do, then all the work is worth it.

All in all, the summer internship at Acme was a very unexpected, but thoroughly, enjoyable one. Through the internship, I am still fervently committed to hip-hop and in this relationship for the long haul.

– Ernestine Belgrave, ACME Intern

Great Viral Marketing Commentary from Jaffe

I met Joseph Jaffe once a few years back at a P&G brainstorm. As someone who had been working in the P&G digital space for a few years at that point, I found it nice to have a fresh outside perspective from someone like Joseph represented in the meeting. In his article Conversation Killers found on AdWeek.com today, his opening paragraph does one of the best jobs of summing up the nature of ‘viral marketing planning’.   Honestly, I thought we had evolved past this to some degree.  Personally, I haven’t found myself in one of those disturbing meetings – typically with a traditional agency or too-big-for-their-own-good digital agency – trying to figure out what would go viral in a very long time.  But I can only imagine it still happens frequently…

The movie Rounders contains a life lesson: “When sitting down at the poker table, look around for the sucker. If you don’t recognize the sucker, get up and leave, because the sucker is you.” Along the same lines, the next time you sit down at a planning table to discuss something viral, look for the moron leading the project and if you don’t see him, excuse yourself from the meeting because that moron, my friend, is you.

Awesome! Don’t forget to check his blog for inevitable commentary. But I have to throw in this gem from the same article:

So let’s do our best to keep our eyes on the prize: creating unique and compelling content that is sharable and infused with sociability (conversation). We’ll rack up those views sure enough and not have to concern ourselves with cutting corners, reducing costs and duping our consumers into doing our jobs for us.

Yeah, like start a record label!

Social Media, Meet Branded Content

The meeting was in a banquet hall of Palo Alto hotel. It was billed as a meeting of the social media minds, as a few dozen social media experts and their corporate counterparts gathered together to loosely architect the future of social media. It was hard not to sense the irony. On one side, you had the pioneers of the social web – the once pure bloggers – the same bloggers that feverishly attacked any brand involvement in their formerly gated community. On the other side, representatives from big brands, each with newly minted business cards with social or community in their newly minted titles.

The day was filled with panels, break out sessions, and even the occasional clever presentation with funny consumer generated videos and Hugh McLeod drawings. Really smart people sharing words like ‘emotional connections’, ‘two-way conversation’, and ‘engaging and immersive experiences’ all in the context of how brands should leverage the social web. Traditional advertising – unfairly not represented at the meeting – was a four letter word and the butt of most jokes.

Yes, social media exploded on to the scene and the momentum remains strong. Technology is enabling people to connect in amazing ways. Blah, blah, blah. We read this everyday. We know this. We embrace and champion this. But what most of us marketing dogs seem to have forgotten or don’t want to say to the eager-to-spend clients, is that the vast majority of people, especially young people, don’t want Mr. PC Manufacturer as a friend.

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