Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer

UPDATE, April 2010:  Could it be?  Is Pepsi listening?  What do you think of Pepsi foregoing the traditional Superbowl ad and stepping up with its REFRESH program?  For details on REFRESH catch this series by a group of my HumberPR students.  Kudos to Pepsi and Weber Shandwick.

ORIGINAL POST:

Hot selling book authors Seth Godin & Jonathan Salem Baskin, who both released manifestos in ChangeThis’ 50th issue (I was fortunate to have my manifesto released @ along with theirs), have picked up on Pepsi’s recent announcement that they are going to “pour some $1.2 billion over three years into a push that will include sweeping changes to its brands“.

Seth’s “punchline is: take the time and money and effort you’d put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.”   He has a corner on the whole idea of making products remarkable that is well worth following.

Jonathan finds it “stunning that nobody is asking these businesses why they aren’t focusing on making cola relevant again.”  It is a great post.  Check it out. The bit that really got me noodling was:

“Use or need cases are used in technology development to identify the places and times  people might require a software product or widget.  That approach to the mechanics of consumption is based on actual experience, not imagined desires or emotional associations, so the strategy doesn’t start with brand…but certainly impacts it.”

Can we use this notion of memetic brand to get more prescriptive if we are sitting in boardrooms with folks like Pepsi?

The money quote from Introducing Social Capital Value Add would probably be a bad place to start:

“Social capital means far more to Coca-Cola than Coca-Cola means to social capital.”

Ah, that might just get you the door before you had a chance to get the account!  So perhaps it would be good to start with a little illustration of the difference between being “viral” and “memetic”.

I bet the traditional brand folks over a Coke have been counting all that “free advertising” they have been racking up since someone discovered what happens when you drop a mintos into a bottle of diet coke.  That is, after they took weeks to stop hand-wringing about what such an image does to “the brand”.

Now that is entertainment! I love it! Millions of views. Probably billions now that dudes like me are clipping it into web pages all over the internet. But is it selling Diet Coke? Hmmm …. maybe a little bit. That awareness and repetition is not likely hurting any. But I am pretty sure that this isn’t the stuff that is going to effect market share, or share of stomach or any of the other fun ways to measure soda pop.

So how about something that can be remarkable, address needs and mobilize the entire Pepsi ecosystem towards something amazing?

I am certain that there are many memetic approaches and I would very much appreciate it if you could jot down your thoughts below.  I admit it.  I am a bit stuck on this idea of a relationship between altruism and corporate motivations.

I think that I would like to present the folks at Pepsi with some case studies and trend analysis of approaches like the one the folks at TripAdvisor are taking.  I have some criticism of the execution and if TripAdvisor is still burning VC money, god bless ’em.  The trick is to go beyond feel good CSR tactics and tie this into your mission and maybe even your business model if possible.

Then maybe we could get some serious new thinking about how to change the game with Pepsi.  How about a crazy idea like committing Pepsi to being a cure for cancer?  That just popped into my head as something provocative to help reboot thinking and then, as I sifted though my reader while procrastinating on writing this post I picked up this link from June Avila on the MaRs Innovation & Commercialization Blog:

Better Beer: College Team Creating Anticancer Brew

Yes.  Still seems off the wall, but somewhere between mintos & the cure for cancer there is a better way.

Moment Management

Twitter exchanges involving @HowardCampbell, @wesunruh @fenris23 @acclimedia @mariobourque and @seedgirl (their twitter handles) along with this blog post by Edward Wilson … The Moment … made me think of this sketch that I first doodled in 1989 while I was in the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Mount Saint Vincent University.

This version and the “mid-life model” were scrawled in 2000 and scanned in sometime in 2002.  Up until now, I have just shared with a few family members and friends who “are in search of” …

Moment Management

It took me until late in my 30s to write this down, but you are born with it.

Mid-Life Moment Mgmt Model

Internet Memes

Looking for Leadership? Invest in Your Networks

by Michael Cayley & Jonathan Salem Baskin

Lincoln and Roosevelt are heralded as great American leaders in times of crisis, and their vision and fortitude are recognized as drivers of their historic accomplishments. However, we think their greatness had far more to do with their abilities to be catalysts for network effects.

If we’re right, it reveals a very different interpretation of the calls we’re hearing for “leadership” to restore confidence in our economic system. In fact, there’s a good chance that no government policy gesture or announcement will mollify the worries of businesses and consumers, let alone stabilize the markets.

Confidence must emerge from the networks in which we all participate. We need to lead ourselves.

This raises intriguing issues and opportunities for corporate marketers looking to craft a way forward.

“In times of uncertainty consumers rely more on trusted relationships when making purchasing decisions,” says Dr. Brent Simpson, an expert at the University of South Carolina who specializes in understanding how social order is formed.

Stanford University’s Matt Jackson, a leading social network theorist, adds: “People’s friends and trusted social relationships are important in influencing their behavior, and people learn from and emulate their friends. Attitude certainly can play into that, especially in turbulent times.”

So what does this mean for businesses directly impacted by the financial crisis, like banks, brokerages, and insurance companies, as well as any consumer business facing the prospect of declining (or less profitable) sales?

First and foremost, you can’t brand your way out of it. You can’t rely spin doctors to declare your path through the crisis; your customers must see and verify it. While your hired guns are hatching ads and press releases to statically “position” the situation, your networks are trading information and defining it in real-time.

And that information, whether accurate or not, has absolutely nothing to do with how the brand has been envisioned, promised, or promoted. Every network is founded upon the tangible realities of action and reaction, just as the mechanism of their function is cause and effect.

How do you empower these networks to step up and lead?

* Know your networks. Invest in software to map connections between people and content.

* Move your enterprise closer to customers, employees, partners and investors. In the past we talked about flattening hierarchies; now it is time to integrate internal & external sources of value.

* Trust opportunities that emerge from the exchange (don’t just talk, and certainly don’t lecture).

* Make information a utility as ubiquitous as electrical light. If what you share isn’t affirmed and forwarded, don’t repeat it…instead, recast or reimagine it, and find new ways to prove it to your networks.

* Demand feedback and ideas.

* Stop looking for ‘home runs’ and play ‘singles and doubles’ by finding small wins, frequent trials. Make constant adjustments. Allocate resources towinners and abandon losers without blame.

The larger revelation of today’s various crises is that the era of symbolic branding is waning, if not over. The woes of the financial institutions have graphically illustrated to us why.

It was always untenable for lenders to ignore the details of weak/bad relationships and to expect instead that homes or property (i.e. commodities) would appreciate in value with no accord to the strength of home owners (i.e. the source of value that differentiated the commodity). Instead of accessing and fostering the relationship to make the loan a better product, the banker chooses to focus on the derivatives.

All businesses face similar risks. From toothpaste to software services, consumer brands invite significant downside threats when they focus on manufactured identify and perception, and not on the drivers of true business strength: connection, interaction, involvement, collaboration, consumption and the other aspects of human behavior.

There are no brands, or businesses, without the networks of people who make them real. It is in, and through, the behaviors of these networks that the Lincolns and Roosevelts for our business and social communities will ultimately arise.

Jonathan Salem Baskin and Michael Cayley met through the concurrent release of their manifestos in the 50th issue of ChangeThis.

Jonathan Salem Baskin recently released the book Branding Only Works on Cattle. This post also appears on Jonathan’s blog at http://dimbulb.typepad.com.

Examples of Social Media

This is a cross post from my other blog at www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com:

Peter Kim is curating a great list of corporate examples of social media.  Please pass your examples on to him at his blog.

If you are responsible for or are adding a great example to the list and you and/or your client would like me to include fuller case studies of the example in some of my future publications, please get in touch.

Here is a replica of the list at October 14, 2008:

>> Last update: 8 October 2008
>> Total brands: 239

Examples of companies using and being used by social media marketing:

Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos, the Twishes Case

I like this little project.

Frank Tentler is scanning for the word “wish” in twitter streams and then he retweets the wish from the http://twitter.com/twishes profile.

This is Frank Tentlers memetic logo!  It is a great little way to position Frank at the intersection of media, aspirations, communications/technology, etc.

I wish I had the code for a little widget that would display the latest tweets from twishes.  I would embed it in this post and a few other places.

Update! Ask & you shall receive … Thanks Frank! (Note: Frank originally provided a widget but it stopped working and Twitter now makes it easy to grab & embedded a twitter stream.)


UPDATE: Another good example from Jacquelyn Cyr.

UPDATE 2 @ Nov.3, 2008 –

I have since come to think of some of the work that conferences are doing to assert their identities along these same lines.

Many now ask Twitterers at the conference to tag all of their related tweets consistently so that they can be viewed via Twitter Search and Twemes as one discussion thread.  #Mesh was the first that I noticed and SoCap08 retweeted all related tweets during the conference.

It looks like defrag08 is doing the retweet thing too.

Update 4@ Nov.17, 2008: Extending Mad Men into Twitter. Make sure that you follow the links in Paul’s post.

UPDATE 3@ Nov.4, 2008:

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Memetic Political Campaigns: Where’s Jack?

The Obama campaign has released an application for the iPhone that cleverly sorts your address book, prioritizing which friends you should call to convince them to vote Obama …. see the whole post at Social Capital Blog.

I see that Matt Ingram thinks this is cool too.

Can you believe that McCain has never used email or the internet?  Why isn’t that a debate question?

High broadband penetration rates.  Facebook crazy.  Geographic challenges to overcome.  A need to mobilize the youth vote.  The desirability of being associated with innovation.  The potential to shape broadcast media reporting.  There are lots of reasons why social media should be a big part of Canadian politics.

Apparently the threat of social media may be scaring off quality candidates, there are lots of fundraising appeals and I think www.wheresjack.ca is a good example of the potential to roll national discontent into a local campaign, but is it making a difference?

Do we have such a small population that we feel embarrassed scaling up our personal politics for fear of offending our neighbors?

What do you think?