Tuesday night at ad:tech Chicago wrapped up with a keynote by author Clay Shirky, "Here Comes Every Customer: The Former Audience is Talking Around You."
The Big Idea, if intro speaker Drew Ianni is any authority: "The internet is the most important thing to happen to the human species."
That's a pretty high and mighty manifesto. Upon taking the stage, Shirky tried conveying the same idea with more precision -- and a much higher word count.
So what do you do if you're a book publisher and you're promoting a "sexy, summer beach read" which just happens to have an intriguing first sentence? You make a video of people reading the first sentence, "There are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris and this son of a bitch couldn't find one of them."
Like many book publishers, this one has gone beyond boring ads placed in the New York Times book review section. It's a nice approach but if a business book promotes itself by having hot models read sections of the book while disrobing, an erotic thriller about three women spending the summer in the Hamptons could have been just a wee bit more racy with their promotion.
The book? J.J. Salem's Tan Lines.
And by "understanding," that is to say "We'll buy your ad space, you write us up nice and pretty."
A funner statistic: one in five senior-level marketers admit their organizations have purchased advertising in exchange for an online news story, likely even favorable. These figures are up slightly from last year (17 percent versus this year's 19 percent), when five percent admitted to either paying editors or giving them gifts in exchange for upbeat coverage. It's all here, sugar booger.
And just so you know? Yeah, presents, particularly of a monetary or vice-oriented variety, work a lot better than lengthy pitches that start with "I am such a fan!" Products work too. That's what's called "market research."*
Image credit: Delightful Deliveries, which has yet to surprise us with gift-wrapped gratitude in exchange for pushing its logo in this piece.
Earlier today, Gay List Daily sent its (mostly male) subscribers an invitation to try John Allan beauty products. The pitch began like so:
Meet John Allan. He's been quietly hiding in New York developing a line of men's care. His set of products satisfies a man's every grooming need, from hair care, personal care, shaving, and skin beautifiers.
Okay. I realize I'm on a gay mailing list, but mens' increasing willingness to explore beauty regimens -- and shop for style's sake (think Beckham!) -- isn't a gay vs. straight thing anymore. For a growing number of guys, the pursuit of youth, beauty and expensive jeans has become a norm. And not just among metrosexuals. (In fact, most men we'd call "metro" don't even like the term.)
How much do we know about mens' changing self-perception -- and their shopping habits? Probably too little. Marketers and book writers like shining the spotlight on the so-called gender minority with her iron hand on the family pocketbook. She's always stealing the show!
Meanwhile, we've let Axe run off with the New Male Order.
Looking to change that? Then you should read Branded Male.
Nothing rawks the blog world like a scandale. Here's one for the hour: Boing Boing has been removing posts written by, or in reference to, Violet Blue, a sex columnist for the SF Chronicle.
Seven Days to Sex Appeal claims swagger and sex appeal can be taught. Good to know there's hope out there for foaming-at-the-mouth underdogs.
According to Amazon, 93 percent of customers bought the book after seeing the product page. And dude, it only got 3 stars out of 5. So I'm guessing optimism, however loose in wallet, does not a sex god make.
The book was brought to our attention by Very Smart Brothas, my new favourite blog candy. Seriously. Read their pick-up artist post. One of the writers claims to have picked a girl up by writing her a haiku. At the library. AND RUNNING AWAY!
To promote his new book, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, author Tao Lin has placed stickers around New York which say, simply, Britney Spears. Apparently, his intended hipster audience will make the connection.
Last June, Gawker pretty much trashed Lin's similarly strange promotional tactics for some earlier books by posting some of his creepy emails.
Flash back to this year and Gawker recently found the door to its offices plastered with Britney Spears stickers in an apparent retaliation for Gawker's less than kind (though totally warranted) words.
Hmm...so is Tao Lin an impetuous child or brilliant marketer?
Trendhunter drew my attention to Tikatok, a social network that enables kids to design their own books. Books can be viewed online and purchased as hardcovers or paperbacks for about $20 apiece. Trendhunter says it "could be a great gift from kids to their parents."
That is, assuming kids only ever produce happy stories. Titles on Tikatok currently include The Food Pyramid that is Alive, The Nervous Basketball Star, A Dark Deep Pipe, and The Ballerina Who Wanted to be Beautiful.
I'm sensing a little melancholy there. (Especially where dark deep pipes get involved.)
It's just a matter of time before books are published bearing not merely titles but retributions waiting to be hashed out when the wee author is college-aged. My bets are on Daddy's Magic Bottle, Why Does Teacher Cry Before Class? and The Little Bully that Could.
The quote at left comes from a banner ad for The Ideas People, a "knowledge" campaign meant to school you on the modern pioneers of great ideas while slyly promoting The Economist.
It reads, "No one becomes perfect, but some become great." I thought it was apt in light of the launch of The Economist's fully redesigned homepage.
The current print edition says the designers sought to wed clean usability with informational depth. (In less diplomatic terms, it's another web 2.0 casualty. Think AJAX! Big FONTS! And widget-looking things!)
As promised in frustratingly obtuse video teasers like this one, "What Men Need to Know" unveiled its secret sponsor today.
And it's ...