Five Creative Steve Jobs Tributes

Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 in Brands, Innovation | 0 comments

Steve Jobs legacy is that he enabled millions to be more creative during his life. No wonder he continues to inspire afterwards. There are no doubt hundreds of thousands of tributes online to Steve, these are five that I found stood out from the rest.

Click on the photos to find out more about them.


1. Steve Jobs Day


2. The Apple Tribute Logo



3. “We Are All Steve” by the Pantless Knights


4. 13-Mile Apple Logo in Tokyo


5. Steve Jobs Mosaics with Apple Devices

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Kindle Fire vs. iPad Review

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 in Brands, Design, Innovation | 0 comments

A buddy and I were talking about the Kindle Fire tonight and he said “it’s like half an iPad”. So we had a good laugh about the Kindle Fire being half the iPad for a third the price. To be fair, it’s really two fifths of the lowest priced pad.

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The Already Obsolete HTC Status

Posted by on Jul 20, 2011 in Advertising, Brands, Design, Innovation | 1 comment

Obsolete HTC Status


Watching the new ads for AT&Ts exclusive HTC Status which features a Facebook button in the body of the phone (!%$?) has me thinking about a few things…

  • I’m really lighting up to Google+ – although I won’t go out on a limb and say “no more Facebook or Twitter for me” just yet.
  • Should a phone, or any device other than a computer keyboard or musical instrument, have manual keys any more? It seems like a touchscreen that can always be evolving with the OS rather than a hard-wired button system is much more scalable.
  • Let’s say speed of a total rise and fall of new innovative communications mediums like Facebook and Google+ continues to increase, how fast will someone need to get out a new piece of hardware like a smartphone to capitalize on that medium?

I’m sure Facebook will be around long enough for the full lifecycle of this phone to come and go before Google+ can make any sizeable impact on FB usage (assuming G+ even gets past the innovator/early adopter phase in their own life cycle). But seriously, who is the audience for this phone?!?

Watch the video, let me know if you have any ideas…

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The Art of Living Virally with Mark Malkoff

Posted by on Mar 5, 2011 in Branded Entertainment, Brands, Comedy, Entertainment, Innovation, Viral | 2 comments

Mark MalkoffAccording to Comedian and Filmmaker Mark Malkoff, all the world is truly a stage.

To get over his fear of flying, he spent 30 days living on an AirTran plane.

To prove that New Yorkers really are nice people, he was physically carried by 155 city-dwellers over 9 miles through the island of Manhattan.

He’s lived for a week in an IKEA, visited every Starbuck’s in Manhattan in 24 hours, and convinced 95 mayors across the US to grant him the keys to their respective cities.

And incredibly, he’s built an audience of millions for his unique hybrid of guerrilla marketing and viral videos through media coverage and appearances on Jay Leno, ABC, Fox and CBS, The Today Show, Huffington Post and the LA Times, to name a few.

Brands clamor for stage time in his wildly popular one-man productions, yet he manages to stay down to earth, doing it all for the love of the creative process, and making time for fans, friends and family along the way. I caught up with Mark recently for a phone interview to learn what makes him tick and how you might go about achieving similar results.

Read on below for the interview and samples of his viral life-as-artwork projects.

Why do you do the things you do?

Mark Malkoff MyDamnChannel

Mark's MyDamnChannel Page

I’ve been doing comedy for years, and I’ve always been more into big concepts, huge, grandiose ideas. I love falling in love with an idea that excites me, and then, the challenge of pulling it off. People saying to me, “there’s no way you can do that,” and then launching into this process; sometimes it’s a week, sometimes a month, but it’s always a real whirlwind journey.

Once it became easy to post videos online, I realized video was the perfect platform for expressing kind of thinking, this kind of artform. It’s a bonus too that with video, I don’t really have to answer to anybody. I do like collaborating, but I like working on my own stuff. Standup I enjoy, but only somewhat, and with sketch comedy, I’ve seen a lot of people that don’t get along. My projects just suit my creative personality really well.

What are the most memorable moments from your various projects?

I love people’s response to what I do, especially kids. It’s funny, parents will email and say “my kid really loves your videos,” and I’m kind of proud to know my stuff’s clean, its universal.

Mark on AirTran Microsite

After I lived on the AirTran plane a lot of parents told me their kids were trying to imitate me on plane trips. I did a Guns and Roses project, playing at CBGBs, a lot of kids came out with their parents – so unexpected, and just from one small magazine mention. Since then it’s just been growing: mentions by Jimmy Kimmel, Rolling Stone, Esquire – one of my projects was the #1 most remarkable thing in culture that week by Esquire.

What is your relationship like with the brands you choose to highlight in your projects?

I have a good relationships with the brands, the vast majority get what I do, and give me a lot of creative freedom. They understand the video has to be entertaining and feel like a natural fit. If not, it looks like a commercial, and people aren’t going to pay attention. Sometimes brands come and bring an idea, and if I need to be honest and say that’s not going to work, that’s what I’ll do. I’ve had plenty of projects come my way and the people behind them ask me “will this get TV coverage?”, and I’ve said no and had to turn them down.

Truth is, though, my ideas never start with a brand in mind – I just want to do something entertaining. Something that would make me and my friends laugh. My video ideas are not driven by money, and I’m not driven by doing this for money, it’s really about the artistic process.

Who/what are your creative inspirations?

There’s really not many that do anything similar to what I do – these types of videos. I love comedians and other creative people that take risks, really think out of the box. I love David Letterman, he was a real innovator of comedy in the 80s. If you look at the last 20-30 years, I think he influenced comedy more than anyone. Also a huge fan of Fred Rogers, from the kids’ show Mr. Rogers. Garry Shandling, Woody Allen, and the Saturday Night Live writer Robert Smigel. [Side note: Smigel is known for sketches like The Ambiguously Gay Duo and TV Funhouse, as well as the iconic Triumph the Insult Comic Dog of Conan O'Brien fame] – yet he’s amazingly humble. I’ve had the chance to meet him several times, and that’s an incredible feeling when you get to know your idol and they turn out to be a really great person.

What would you say to someone who wants to do what you do – what are the steps, what is the right approach?

It took me a long time to get here. I had day jobs in TV for ten years and was doing my comedy at night – probably a total of 20-30 jobs to support me before my passion could pay the bills. For a while I was a doorman at a comedy club and there were so many people trying to make it, really going on this emotional rollercoaster. One I specifically remember was Dane Cook – people don’t see what went into this success, how much time and energy he put into his comedy. Dave Chappelle used to be in the club until 3 am and never wanted to leave, doing multiple sets throughout the night. For most of the people you admire, you’ve gotta realize it didn’t happen overnight.

Look at Adam Sandler, and what he’s doing with his Happy Madison crew – his high school and college friends. Look how far he’s come with this tight knit group of people that believe in him. I recommend getting a trusted group of advisors, it can take you in amazing directions and save you when you’re blinded by an idea you think is good that really isn’t. I made a list of everyone I knew and approached people about helping me out, then weeded out the people that weren’t serious. In the end I found a group of people that really believed in me. At the same time, it’s really important to be nurturing those friendships and giving back. I love helping people out when I can, I think it really pays off in the long run.

Then, try to pick projects you really care about. Its so obvious when you watch something that’s not inspired, like you’re just trying to get noticed, or make a career move. I have no problem coming up with 50 – 100 ideas, but then you have to wait a day or two and see what 1 or 2 ideas really feel strong. My criteria is pretty simple. Does this really make me laugh? Is this really entertaining video content I would want to watch? If so, I write up the premise and get feedback from that group of comedy friends on what would work.

Also, if you want to be successful with this kind of entertainment, you have to build up your social media profile. I’m fortunate because my videos stand out, that’s the reason for a lot of media coverage, but in general you have to set yourself apart from what others are doing. And your reach is what helps get brands on board. I had to get a few videos picking up media coverage before any brands wanted to work with me. I’m much better with traditional media, getting TV or newspaper, but everyone’s a little different in terms of what kind of coverage they’re looking for.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, you have to put a pen to paper and write out goals. You have to have a clear vision of where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. If you don’t there’s just a lot of hoping and waiting. Most of the people I admire had strong visions and set huge goals. Its good to have a 3-5 year plan, and then be flexible with how it might turn out.


For more about Mark and his work visit his website

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Brand reflections: Proposal for a new metric

Posted by on Oct 19, 2010 in Advertising, Brands, Entertainment, Innovation, The Future | 1 comment

Brand reflectionWhen you’re driving to work and pass a billboard that you notice for a split second, or you have to sit through a 30-second ad during Glee, the advertisers paying to get in front of you call this an impression. It’s basically the foundation of how media people price their outlet. Lately, new metrics like time on site, pageviews, click-through rates, and interaction have been created to measure and monetize the internet. I have nothing against metrics and making money off of great content and site traffic, but there’s a critical flaw in my opinion.

They all measure what the audience is doing – watching, clicking, commenting – not what the advertiser is doing.

The VP of Brand Creativity for Blackberry, Paul Kalbfleisch, gave a presentation yesterday in the Research Triangle Park on the mobile phone giant’s continual quest to align their offering and message with the shared values of their audience. Simply put, audience loves music = Blackberry loves music. Audience loves sports = Blackberry loves sports. One of the more creative ways they’ve expressed this mission in the past is with their partnership with of The Black Eyed Peas, and the genesis of the “BBM” song.

The video below was captured by an attendee at a concert in Chicago, and it shows how Blackberry and the artist were able to integrate their communal text messaging platform into a live, crowd-sourced freestyle rap.

Brand Reflections

What a terrific display of a brand reflecting the values: love of music, love of participation, desire to share their own voice of their audience.

So what would happen if advertisers measured the frequency and volume of moments which made a lasting impression on someone, rather than measuring when someone received an advertising message on someone. I propose that this framework fits more closely the emerging marketing model that brands, advertisers and the media are already adopting within social media, branded entertainment, community development and social responsibility initiatives.

The Challenge: Assigning Value to a Reflection

The funny thing about an impression is its ambiguity. I could watch a 30 second commercial or see a display ad on Mashable, and while the cost is drastically different, the true value of the impression is essentially the same (you may disagree, I’m saying this is my feedback as a receiver of advertising messages). I’ve been in many conversations hypothesizing the value of someone leaving a comment on a blog or joining a Facebook community versus an impression, and wonder how we might measure and assign value to “brand reflections”.

Consider something like a video contest, where the brand is actively saying “What do you think about us?”, this is a great example of a reflection model. So when 200 people spend 20 hours of their lives devoted to thinking about a brand, getting their friends involved, sharing their work across their social networks, and committing their pride, creativity and potential career advancement opportunities into the project – what is the value of of those 12 million+ seconds just dedicated to sharing their values with that brand.

Is it worth 12 million people noticing a billboard for a split second?

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Book Review: Delivering Happiness

Posted by on Sep 28, 2010 in Books, Brands | 2 comments

Delivering Happiness Tony Hsieh Zappos Book I love the Zappos brand and admire visionary entrepreneurs, so picking up Delivering Happiness by Zappos CEO and serial start-up founder Tony Hsieh was a no-brainer for me. What was a surprise though – how I couldn’t put the book down and ultimately tore through it in about two days.

Instead of using a ghost writer, Tony wrote the book himself in a plain, conversational tone that helped bring the business-reading experience to a more personal, intimate level. I found myself way sucked-in to the early years of his entrepreneurial track, from founding a failed worm farm at age 9, to building a successful mail-order business out of the back of Boy’s Life magazine a couple years later; when you get to the part about selling his internet start-up LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million, it feels like just a step beyond the custom picture button company he passed on to his older brother after building a $200 a month business.

Whether your a Zappos fanatic like me, or just have a casual interest in building a successful business on more than just profits, the evolution of the company up to Amazon’s acquisition makes for quite an entertaining read. Tony jumps off the page as a leader that rolls up his sleeves to make things happen, like when he drove cross-country to Kentucky to open up a new warehouse, and is keenly aware of the nuances of human relationships, a lot of which he seems to owe to a more-than-adequate love of partying (raves and make shift night clubs play a pretty important role in his story).

All in all, I was left inspired, optimistic and totally wanting more Zappos interaction – thankfully, their brand book, all-hands meetings and tons of company culture videos are all online on-demand whenever you need your faith in capitalism restored.

You can buy Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose on Amazon here.

If you’d like to borrow the book, send me an email or leave a comment here and I’m happy to mail you my copy.

Here are some other fun Zappos-related resources in the meantime:

The Delivering Happiness Bus Tour Site

Order the Zappos Culture Book free

Zappos Insights – Learn how to be more like them

My last blog post featuring Zappos

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