Friday, April 28, 2006

Creative Process

Creativity is one thing. The process of creation, the experience, is something else.

OTC starts this Monday. When this 37th Offshore Technology Conference opens, more than 50,000 visitors will be going to Reliant Center for the world’s largest oilfield exhibition. If you are one of them, stop by the Mustang Engineering booth (#1305). Say hello to some outstanding people. And see a new video presentation called “The MUSTANG Experience” for yourself.

To say I helped create this 12-minute video is true. To say that it encompassed one of my most rewarding processes of creation is also true and a sizeable understatement.

No “creative” can take seven weeks of planning, videotaping and editing for granted. The team effort that has brought this video to the screen in an efficient, timely way is virtually unique in my worklife (which covers quite a few years).

Most of the credit goes to the Mustangers themselves: Allison Miller, Brian Hadley, Carmen Loera, Christine Beck, David Williams, Dee Medina, Dena Lee, Heather Broeder, Mark Payton, Mike Weatherwax, Paul Post, Richard Livingston, Sharon Paul and Tina Kutach – and these are just the Mustang participants whose names I can recall. At least a dozen more deserve mentions as well.

In Locke Bryan Productions, we had a way-better-than-just-good production house. Director-Producer Mike Patterson and his crew (on location and at the studio) accomplished a superlative job. They’ve delivered a story that fits Mustang Engineering to a T. Editing, music, graphics...this group’s calmness, consideration and talent contributed massively to my “MUSTANG Experience.”

I won’t tell you what’s in this 12-minute show.

I will tell you that the visual above is a title slide that doesn’t really reflect the thoughtfulness and the real-life feelings of the Mustangers on-screen. You’ll have to see it for yourself. Or ask me to show you my copy when OTC is over.

Thank you, everyone, for a great experience. See you at Reliant Center.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Coffee Dog

When you’re driving to and from Austin on State Highway 71 (the one that runs up to the PDRA* from I-10 west of Columbus), do you miss Starbucks? I do. It’s a poorly disguised fact that I get nervous when I’m more than three miles from a Starbucks or some other high-quality java-source.

I use the term “miss” here in two ways. One is the sense of lacking something – like the boldest, heaviest battery-acid jamoke I can put in my travel mug.

The other is, like, maybe there is a Starbucks between West Katy and the eastern edge of Austin, but I haven’t noticed/found/run across one.

Now there’s an answer: Coffee Dog. I found it yesterday on my way up to Austin for a meeting. But you have to look sharp or you’ll miss it like I almost did. Its official address: 1421 Highway 71 West, Suite 100, Bastrop 78602 if you want to Mapquest it. Seven miles west of Bastrop, in the American Business Park strip center. Telephone: 512.303.2244.

Guy Roush has opened a very nice café here. The joe’s terrific and even if you like yours in one of Starbucks’ infinite variations, the lovely Coffee Dog people can deliver it. Along with assorted pastries. A nice place to sit down. And WiFi. Out there on the far west edge of Bastrop.

No website yet, but when they get one up, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, keep an eye peeled on the north side of the road for the American Business Park (see the photo) and give it a try.

Coffee Dog got me those last 25 miles to Austin, for sure.

PS: The nice people even gave me a nifty Coffee DogTM “Frequent Slurper Card.” The 10th cup be free, oh yes.

*People’s Democratic Republic of Austin. Photograph courtesy of LoopNet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scott’s Winter

Working for ConocoPhillips in Anchorage, Scott McKinley has sent his fourth Life-in-Alaska report. Read along with the proprietor of McKinley Friends & Family B&B. “Book now,” says he. “Summer ’06 lodging is 70% full.”

Locals say there are two seasons to Alaska: winter and tourist. Anchorage is experiencing the last moments of the transition period; a time we call the “Spring Breakup.”

Spring Breakup is when the weather finally starts hovering consistently above the freezing mark. The roads become wet with melting snow, ice chunks (the size of SUVs) along the coast begin to shrink, and five months of frozen dog poop begins to thaw. It is a time of distinctive visual and olfactory “enlivenment”. It’s also a signal that the tourists will soon be arriving.

While most tourists opt for the relative certainty of summertime weather conditions, these fair-weather travelers have missed out on some uniquely Alaskan wintertime events.

Iditarod: a sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, “a race over 1,150 miles of the most extreme and beautiful terrain known to man, across mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and windswept coastline.” Imagine you, twelve of your favorite dogs, and a sled full of survival gear and dog food in the remote environs of Alaska for nine full days of mushing (the winning time) or even thirty-four days (the record for the slowest finish). Participation in the Iditarod may not be within the boundaries of most people’s imagination, but it was a joy to watch hundreds of dogs excitedly awaiting their sleds’ turn at the Iditarod starting line with guests from California, Texas and Colorado.

The modernized version of the Iditarod is a 2,000 mile snowmobile race. Called
Iron Dog, it is billed as the longest, toughest snowmobile race in the world. Imagine the same nasty temperatures as the Iditarod (as cold as -60°), then just add a wind-chill factor for speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Bryan Bonner was the brave Texan to come up and view the start of the Iron Dog from the middle of a frozen lake.

One thing we noticed: drivers of the snowmobiles were putting duct tape on their face. Evidently the helmets, balaclavas, and goggles weren’t effective at protecting the area around the eyes from the cold temperatures. Solution? Duct tape. Not recommended for everyday use, but riders report the tape also helps with unwanted facial hair.

Arctic Man is a downhill ski race and a snowmobile race, all in one. The skier begins at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1,700 feet (in less than two miles) to the bottom of a narrow canyon where he meets up with his snowmobile partner. The skier grabs the (in-motion) snowmobile tow rope and gets pulled 2-1/4 miles uphill at speeds exceeding 90 mph. The skier and the snowmobiler separate as they top the second mountain, where the skier drops another 1,200 feet to the finish line. The winning time? 4 minutes, 4 seconds. Amazingly, no deaths have been reported.

To add to the uniqueness, a town actually “appears” in the middle of Alaska for this week-long event. Somebody snowplows a field and 12,000 people in RV’s show up for the fun. I missed this spectator sport this year…so if anybody wants to RV-camp next winter in the middle of nowhere, Alaska..?

Most tourists come during a three-month window to view the beauty of Alaska. The locals are glad to share the roads and trails, but we’re also glad to have the State mostly to ourselves for the other nine months. That’s when the true Alaskan spirit, the embracing of this Last Frontier, fully emerges.

Icebox that it is, Scott loves the place. Given that he also reports mountain winds blowing out a car window and falling through the ice, I know he will enjoy the arrival of summer – and that you’ll enjoy reading about his adventures.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Mitchum Man

What you don’t see on this photo of a Mitchum antiperspirant container is ongoing evidence of the deodorant’s year-old advertising campaign. I only noticed these labels on my deodorant tubes yesterday…I swear.

One tube cap bears a label that says, “IF YOU ONLY SHAVE WHEN YOU HAVE TO, YOU’RE A MITCHUM MAN.”

Another tube cap label notes, “IF IT’S 96° BUT YOU SMELL LIKE 76°, YOU’RE A MITCHUM MAN.” What does that mean? Do any of the advertising people who put this together live in Texas?

It appears I missed an entire revolution in deodorant advertising – another one.

In an April, 2005, New York Times Advertising article, Nat Ives wrote about the new Mitchum ad campaign – which will tell you in a heartbeat that I’m not in the advertising agency’s key market demographic:

The goal was to introduce Mitchum to young men without alienating the older men who already buy it, said Kathy Delaney, managing partner and executive creative director at the flagship New York office of Deutsch, creator of the campaign.

Another coaster reads, “If you can see the inner beauty of the girl dancing on the bar, you’re a Mitchum man.” The men being aimed at, Ms. Delaney said, might think, ‘I don't go to topless bars and watch girls there any more, but that’s pretty funny and I remember when I did.’”

Maximesque marketing has proved effective on men in general and young men in particular, but it will lose strength if it does not recognize the target's particular circumstance, said Robin Wood, vice president for antiperspirant, deodorant and fragrance marketing at
Revlon, which sells Mitchum.

“These guys are guys who are entering or have entered into a completely different lifestyle,” Mr. Wood said. “They are advancing in their careers, are new fathers, have a great deal of demands. The thing they are really missing is time for themselves, which we call guy time.”

The campaign uses commercials during shows like “Fear Factor” on NBC and “Two and a Half Men” on CBS, ads in magazines like Sports Illustrated and The Week, matchbooks to accompany the coasters in bars, ads on Web sites like and, billboards across the country and posters in places like supermarkets and restrooms. Many of the ads point consumers to a new site,

(You have got to see this site – especially the “Mitchum Man-O-Log!”)

The messages are tailored to suit the venues, Mr. Wood said, noting that Maxim magazine will also run Mitchum ads. Maxim readers may receive the more risqué of the ads, like one that shows a close-up of a woman’s breasts with the text, “If they look real enough to you, you’re a Mitchum man.”

The campaign is the last for Mitchum from Deutsch, part of the
Interpublic Group of Companies. Deutsch resigned the Mitchum account last month after Revlon shifted other assignments, with far higher ad spending, from Deutsch to other agencies. Revlon spent $2.5 million to advertise Mitchum in major media in 2002, but no significant sums in 2003 or 2004, according to estimates by TNS Media Intelligence.

I don’t know which agency is doing the campaign now, but if the stickers on my Mitchum tubes are any indication, Revlon ought to get somebody new, and right quick, too.

Meantime, I’m going back to the Mitchum Man-O-Log and (with tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks) take a closer look at the Talking Buck’s Head and the Galvanized Roofing Nails. Apparently, they’d be crucial to my lifestyle if I was 30 – again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Computing Accessory

Stone tools, the crudest type of flaked and battered stones, showed up…oh…2.5 million years ago. For humanity, the genie was out of the bottle; technology moved pretty quickly after that.

Weaving cloth: 25,000 BCE. Indoor bathrooms just 23,000 years later. The Chinese invent gunpowder, a popular number, around 1040 CE (that’s AD depending on your dating convention). Printing: 1440. The flying-shuttle loom: 1733. We’re really flying now.

Samuel F B Morse patents the practical – and successful – electric telegraph in 1837 (the world’s first Internet and the birth mother of the “telegrapher”). The vacuum tube: 1907. Then a short leap to color TV in 1940. The first electric computer: 1943, using the above-mentioned vacuum tubes. Simultaneously, the first propeller-head appears. The first transistor in 1948, which leads 10 years later to the first fully transistorized computer. By 1975, there’s a personal computer on the market – but Apple Computer is founded the following year.

A quarter of a century later, the second Internet has arrived, the world is almost completely wired and we can’t live without our communications infrastructure.

Now, according to Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer, one of the newest “in-vogue jobs” is Director of Mobile Computing:

Thanks to the BlackBerry, Treo, laptop and cell phone, every job can be turned into a 24/7 message fest. So integral are these devices to work life now that when the maker of the BlackBerry was facing a potential shut down of its services this year, you would have thought the business world was bracing for a loss of electricity. Upgrading all those portable lifelines to the office and keeping them in good working order has now become a full-time job with a big title.

A couple of a million years in the blink of an eye – and we’re hip-deep in people whose special expertise is keeping other people (who have to use the technology) intercommunicating and interconnected.

My hat’s off to them all. I cherish them and applaud their efforts to keep me in the marcom business. I enjoy working with my advanced technology clients – and my deepest thanks to them.

But tell me: every once in a while, don’t you have the urge to take up the crudest type of flaked and battered stone and bring it down on your server with deadly force?

Perhaps RIM (BlackBerry developer and manufacturer), Apple (iPOD creator) and other manufacturers should supply just such a stone tool to each and every newly minted Director of Mobile Computing. It’ll help keep them humble in the face of what we have wrought. Won’t it?

Have a great weekend.

Thanks and a tip of the Hatlo Hat to Rob Schoenbeck for the Sahadi article. Wikipedia Commons Image: en:Image:Acheuleanhandaxes.jpg.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Commons

Look at this building. This is “The Commons.” Actually, the John P. McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons at the Texas Medical Center (or TMC if you’re into acronyms).

Unless you work in the TMC, or been to The Commons, you probably don’t have a clue how to get there. Let me tell you: it ain’t easy. The Commons is on the TMC campus…and you can’t see it from any of the main streets.

Here is how you get to it. If you can’t figure it out from the “Take Three Simple Steps to Our Door” arrangement, plug The Commons’ address into Mapquest: 6550 Bertner, Houston, TX 77030.

Why point this out?

I want to make certain you find your way to the Service Line Marketing for Hospitals and Group Practices presentation. It’s the American Marketing Association Healthcare Special Interest Group event on May 16, 2006.

Just under a month from now. At the Trevísio restaurant in The Commons. That building in the picture right up there. That’s why I’m showing you what it looks like. Print a hard copy. Tape it to your computer. (Stop with the whining…I know it’s hard to get in and out of TMC.)

Gail M McFaddin, Director of Business Development of RHD Memorial Medical Center in Dallas, is one of the speakers. Gail has developed and executed on business strategy for three healthcare start-ups and has consulted with some of the largest integrated delivery systems in the country. She is a national and international speaker on healthcare topics of interest and was the CIGNA liaison to the Clinton White House on rural healthcare in America. She’s going to present a pointed case history about Service Line Marketing.

You ought to hear it. Here is the link to online registration for the Healthcare SIG event on Tuesday, May 16. At The Commons. Parking inside the building (when you find it).

Come on down. Really. It’ll be worth the trip.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

Shocking Direct

What’s old is news again – especially in direct mail.

The much lauded Halloween Mask Mailers created by illustrator Chris Lockwood and Richard Laurence Baron (me) are hot items again, since Martha Justice, President of The Premier Company, was written up in the Houston Business Journal last week. The
article by Thora Qaddumi talked about a number of creative direct mail formats, which Premier uses and in some cases pioneered.

One of these outstanding ShapeUpTM mask mailers appears above. There’s a ghoul and Frankenstein’s bride too. I had a hard time picking which one to show you hear – not because they aren’t terrific every one; but because they’re largish files. In fact, though you can easily see why Chris is such a superb illustrator, you probably can’t read my equally expert copy.

So e-mail me and I will send you a full set of jpegs…or ask Martha to send you an actual printed set of all four.

Thanks to Chris’s inventiveness, these die-cut mailers are all about capturing the recipients’ attention. Nobody who got the Mask Mailers has forgotten them. Some are still taped to people’s filing cabinets or pinned to managers’ walls all over this part of the world. Martha wanted to take advantage of the fact that the USPS now allows odd shapes to be mailed. Martha let us run with the concept that Halloween masks would be arresting, provocative…and really cool. I even invented the “ShapeUp” brand name for them.

Each mailer’s copy highlighted a specific area of Premier capability. I tuned the headlines to Chris’s amazing Illustrations.

The timing is perfect: what Chris and I created for Premier illustrates the precise point I made in Monday’s post about b-o-o-o-r-r-ing credit card mail packages (see below). The Masks are what creativity can do for direct mail. Anyone who discounts creativity as a driver is making a mistake – or do you want to bore your mail recipients to death?

Yes: one banker told me that a 2% response rate to the bank’s direct mail packages made the boring approach difficult to ignore – for the bank. As I said, the numbers are on their side (‘cause 2% of, say, a million pieces is a pretty big number).

Yes: Martha points out that although self-mailers are cheaper to produce, they practically never out-pull envelope-enclosed letter mailings. Golly, what if you combined the horsepower of (say) Lockwood-Baron creativity with your key message? What if you got the recipient to really pay attention to your offer?

I invite someone of you to find out – and measure the results. They could shock the boring right out of your prospects.

Thanks and a tip of the Hatlo hat to Chris Lockwood for the jpg files, and to The Premier Company for printing and mailing the mask series.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Opening Night

Today is my birthday. I’m celebrating by telling my sister to break a leg, because she opens tonight in A Fine & Private Place at the York Theatre Company in NYC.

Evalyn Baron is a great actor – started when she was 12. The Broadway portion of her career has encompassed Big River and Les Misérables among many, many others. She was Tony-nominated for her role in Quilters.

So after some years as the assistant creative director for Barter Theatre in Virginia and returning to New York to teach, her opening tonight is a wonderful opportunity to be where she’s supposed to be: legitimate theatre.

Don’t know much about the play. Peter S. Beagle wrote the original novel. Then it was turned into a musical by Erik Haagensen (book and lyrics) and Richard Isen (music). According to the theatre’s newsletter:

The show tells the story of Jonathan Rebeck, a recluse who lives in a Bronx cemetery courtesy of his feathered friend, a wise (and wisecracking) Raven who flies in stolen fast food in exchange for companionship. Rebeck…helps newly arrived ghosts…accept death. Once these ghosts no longer remember what it is to be alive, they vanish.

Ev’s not a ghost – she’s a widow who continually visits the tomb of her husband. I think she represents the pull of life. The director, Gabriel Barre, says he hopes the revived musical will make audiences “not want to waste a moment of this opportunity we call life.”

Evalyn has a history with this musical. She was in the original cast – you can hear her on the album. You can read all about her adventures with rehearsals and her fellow actors on her blog.

Break a leg, Sis. Your opening is finest kind birthday gift.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mail Stop

Dear Jud Linville, President, Consumer Cards, American Express: stop sending me card solicitations.

Dear David P Booth, AAA Financial Services: I do not now want a AAA Visa card – or ever.

Ditto for you, Yehezkel Gurevitch, President, Values Worldpoints Platinum Plus Visa…even it it’s the “most rewarding card of all” (a phrase so ordinary I have no idea why you went to the trouble of registering it as a trademark – and ashamed of you for doing so).

And dear, dear Pat W. Johnson, Director of New Accounts, Capital One, I especially don’t want a card or two or three from you. You send me a direct-mail letter every ten days, like clockwork. I don’t want your card either.

I am a direct mail professional, Yehezkel – been doing it for more than 30 years. I know about the valuable real estate on the fronts and the backs of the envelopes. I know how to write a truly great letter, making sure than more than 50% of the words are of a single syllable. (Didn’t I once have a private lunch with John Caples at his club in New York City? Yes, I did.)

Pat, I understand the fake (and frankly annoying) plastic credit cards – but I have to cut them up anyway in case there’s some personal information I don’t want floating about.

Get a grip: I’m not going to take advantage of any of your offers. Not yours, David. Not yours, Jud. Not in my lifetime. I am not your target market. And despite the fact that I earn part of my living from creating precisely such direct mail solicitation packages, there has got to be some realization on your part that I am a non-adopter.

You’ll say the numbers are on your side. Every time you send out a package to X million names, you’ll measure just how many recipients sign up. (At least I by-damned hope so.) And you’ll keep sending these packages because there’re two American adults who will take a card from each of your companies for every one of me.

But at some point (soon, I hope), you have got to recognize that you’re annoying the daylights out of me – and then I’m going to start complaining about you to the USPS despite the fact that some of my best clients are in precisely the same place you are.

Your continual mailings are a waste of money. They’re a waste of time – mine particularly, since I shred most of your pre-addressed material. So I don’t mind spending a little more with this ranty post.

Find some other way to get my business. Try a podcast. Put a guy in a kiosk at my grocery store (although the airlines have tried this at the airport and I wonder what their sign-up rates are).

Tell you what: instead of sending me dozens of letter packages a month, why not send me a check for the value of the number of pieces you’d normally send to me? Even if your per-piece cost is a quarter-cent, you’d be putting your money to better use by giving it to me in cash…because I am certainly throwing your investment into the shredder and/or the trash can these days.

Get smarter about it – stop doing the same thing over and over again.

PS: I know and value the very hard work that direct mail professionals put into these efforts. I sure would appreciate some real creativity from you, their clients, in trying to attract me with your offers.

PPS: For the Lord’s sake, Jud, clean your lists. Next time I get a letter package addressed to “Mr Barolin,” I’m going to wrap your return envelope around a Type III chemical-resistant floor brick and send it back to you postage-due.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mary’s 150

One of the few thousand headed for Austin via the BP MS 150 – that century-and-a-half bike ride for Multiple Sclerosis, will be Mary Paulette, AIG American General Marketing Communications and basic good chum. Mary’s been sending regular training reports and this is her most recent:

Last week was a windy, warm ride in the hill country of Texas. Bluebonnets were in full bloom and not only were there lots of bikers participating in various rides, but there were lots of cars out to see the bluebonnets! We opted for the 44-mile ride because of the 30-mph winds. It was so gusty that I was afraid of losing control of my bike on several occasions! :(

But I made it. Attached are two photos, one of me at a rest stop on the shore of Lake Summerville and another of the bluebonnets that lined all along the road. This Saturday (yesterday, 8 April) is the LAST official MS 150 training ride for me. Again going out west from Houston near Brookshire, there will not be as many rolling hills as past rides and hopefully we get more moderate winds!

Only two weeks left ‘til the ride: 22 April. Just one week to get in all her pledges prior to the ride. Thanks to each of you who have already sent money and have pledged it.

Mary’s effort is human-powered. Finding a cure for MS takes cash. So if you haven't taken the time to pledge, now is a good time…and for a good cause. I have attached a link for your convenient, on-line donation. Go, Mary, go!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Marist Memorial

My high school was Marist College. I graduated in 1963: first class out of the new campus on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in northwest Atlanta. It was a military boys’ school, those days. Everyone was in the Corps of Cadets. I remember marching down Peachtree Street in parades – I don’t think I was a very good Lieutenant.

After college, some of us joined one of the armed services….and went to Viet Nam. Four of my classmates didn’t come back.

This past week, Marist School conducted a Military Memorial Service honoring “alumni who were killed while serving our country, missing in action, or prisoners of war.” On the memorial list, there are the names of 45 Marist graduates who lost their lives in the service dating back to World War I, starting with members of the Classes of ’04 and ’08.

Lauran Lightmas, Marist’s Alumni Director, was kind enough to send these ‘graphs about the Military Memorial Service to me.

The day truly was wonderful. The weather was beautiful and we had a great gathering of alumni, past parents, students, and families of those being honored. We gathered for Mass in the chapel where Edgar Livingston (alum and brother of honoree), Tim Keiley (alum and nephew of honoree), Col. Mick Maguire (alum and veteran), Phil Coletti (son of honoree), and Norma Nicholson (wife of Tony Nicholson, 1st cousin of honoree) all participated in different capacities.

After Mass, our crowd walked down to the Marist School Circle, where our dedication ceremony began right on time at 11:30. Fr. Egan (President of Marist School) welcomed the crowd, Marist School Eagle Scouts posted the colors, then Richard Reynolds (our Marist School Historian) gave a fitting introduction to our speaker, Frank Murphy '39 (Mr. Murphy's speech is attached). Mr. Murphy was a POW for nineteen months and he gave a wonderful speech.

After speaking, he unveiled the memorial for the crowd. He read each of the names listed on its face and moved many in our crowd to tears. The ceremony concluded with "Taps" on the bugle, a blessing of the memorial by Fr. Egan and a lunch blessing by Fr. Konzen (Principal of Marist School). The crowd then gathered under the arcade for lunch.

It was our pleasure at Marist to honor those alumni who gave such sacrifices to our country, as well as to pay tribute to Marist School's long and proud military history. It would have been impossible to put all of the day's events together without the commitment of our Marist School Military Service Memorial Committee, Richard Reynolds, Frank Murphy, Michael Walsh, Jim Boyd, and Joe Bruckner.

I didn’t make the trip. I sent flowers for the service in the Chapel, inscribed to my missing classmates: Tommy Biddulph, Richard Fox, Bill Gay and Richard Sutter.

I remember you. Richard Laurence Baron, ’63, USN.

Photo: Marist School, Atlanta, GA

Friday, April 07, 2006

Whiter Papers

A participant in a discussion group asked some timely questions earlier this week. Andrew Corcoran, Senior Lecturer at the UK’s University of Lincoln, asked:

Has anyone experience of webinars and their success, effectiveness or limitations? Lead generation? Qualification? Community building? In particular, are White Papers still an effective marcomms tool in comparison or as a complementary tool?

One respondent, Cleo Parker of BBDO, said:

Speaking as someone who's been close to a webinar junkie at different points in my life, webinars are much more engaging than White Papers. I have purchased and recommended books and vendors based on my impressions from webinars and also started some conversations with presenters who I will remember as category experts. White Papers, yes, I’ll download them and if they really grab me and aren’t too long, I’ll read them, but they by no means give the same sense of personality and credibility that a webinar does. I think adding another sensual element with the voice component adds a lot in terms of feeling you “know” the presenter.

Several other respondents (out of a very talented group) pointed out some of the challenges of webinars and the people who present them:

  • The commitment of time. You've got to be really interested to take the time these days.
  • How to find the right audience to invite to the webinar.

Having just completed and published a White Paper for a client, I think there are still some quite real advantages to this medium.

1. Many ‘endorsing’ consultants (in multi-faceted industries like software) use White Papers as proofs of intellectual leadership in a given niche. It’s something like publish-or-perish.

2. For young firms, White Papers represent a way to clarify their thinking…a well-written White Paper can be a useful tool for a sales force, and a more effective selling tool than a brochure (depending on the audience).

3. White papers are, by their nature (printed or pdf formats) relatively easy to distribute or place. This depends on the resources available to the producer-company to make the distribution happen.

4. They are quite a bit more portable than webinars.

Of course, a White Paper could be one of the handouts or follow-ups to a webinar. Conclusion (mine): White Papers aren’t buggy whips - yet. Heigh-ho for Friday!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Gdansk Too

Graham Rust sent over additional details of the Dialogue Managers’ Meeting. I thought it would be fun to put it in a Q&A format…him being such a celebrity and all. (Kinda like a dialogue – get it?) Link through to the new Dialogue members here, too.

(Britisher Graham, although founder and MD of the agency in the Czech Republic, can’t break his deplorable English spelling habit.)

Richard: Why – why – are all your photographs labeled “Sopot?”

Graham: The meeting was held in the Seaside “city” of Sopot, between Gdyna and Gdansk (together they make up the Tri-Cities.) Sopot boasts the longest wooden pier in Europe – see above. The resort, and indeed the practice of bathing in the sea (previously unthinkable to Poles), was originated by a Frenchman, a Monsieur Jean Haffner, after whom the event hotel was named.

R: The meeting went well?

G: The meeting’s usual good humour was only threatened by controversy over which country had the best windsurfing location in Europe. For the time being, with respect to our hosts, it was accepted as Poland.

R: What about your hosts?

G: Mediafocus, the host agency, was founded in Gdansk and still runs a successful office there, although they recognised the need to open in Warsaw. Grzegorz Inglot, MD of the Warsaw operation had to drive back overnight for an essential meeting on Friday...with regrets, he says he still feels at home in Gdansk.

R: There’s a new member in Turkey?

G: Dialogue’s new member for Turkey is OYKU (which means “little story” or “legend”). By coincidence, they started business in Ankara, the political capital; but realised they also needed an office in the commercial capital, Istanbul.

R: And in Spain and Portugal?

G: Below Group, the new member for Spain was founded in Seville, but eventually centered their head office in Madrid. They also opened in Barcelona, and then in Lisbon. So while Dialogue has grown from 20 to 22 agencies, we have actually added six important cities to Dialogue’s unequalled European coverage.

R: What up with the Dutch?

G: Dialogue’s member for the Netherlands, DataGold, has joined forces with another Dutch agency to become a new agency called Great, a powerful and professional agency, based in Rotterdam.

R: How about new business for Dialogue, the network?

G: Two major business issues were developed. The network is in the process of securing the pan-European dealer marketing task for a major brand, and the 2006 Dialogue Forum will execute a brand development project for a pan-European luxury brand. We look forward to releasing the identities of these two important network clients soon.

R: What’s the meeting schedule going forward?

G: The Dialogue 2006 Forum will be held in Malta, the autumn Managers' Meeting in Paris...and, for 2007, we are spoilt for choice of new destinations for the ongoing series of meetings which build the strong personal and business relationships of Dialogue. (As my father-in-law, a Lincolnshire butcher, used to say: “this’l’atter’do.”)

Best to you, Richard. Never a meeting goes by without your name coming up, and always with affection.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Gdansk One

Hard on the heels of the new Dialogue International website, Graham Rust, Chairman of Rust 2 in Prague, sent several dozen photos of the Gdansk Managers’ Meeting. Some of his accompanying notes:

Our meeting in Gdansk was an enjoyable success, thanks to old and new friends, and the great hospitality of [MediaFocus’s] Tomasz Zdybel and Grzegorz Inglot.

In just 36 hours, we ranged across Word of Mouth advertising... political advertising... Dialogue’s healthy financial internet and extranet. We saw the remarkably reconstructed Old Town of Gdansk, which had been bombed flat during WW2... we visited the shipyard where Lech Walesa led the Solidarity union through strikes which started Soviet dominos falling all over eastern Europe... we drank
Goldwasser, a unique Gdansk liqueur which contains real 24-carat gold... and learned of the reputation of each of our nations with the Polish people (based loosely on how often we had invaded them!).

Attached are a few megs of pictures. On Day Two I screwed up, my camera was set on night vision, so it did not really captured the beauty of the Old Town of Gdansk. Alison Meadows will arrange for WAR to post some pictures on the website. And, who knows, some might find their way into the blogosphere...

Above are three from Graham’s collection. Top to bottom: Part of the Old Town (with the famous Lighthouse, circa 1903, behind to the left); the meeting’s hotel; and some of the usual suspects walking down the hotel drive.

As for news, it appears as though Dialogue International has added three new members, from Portugal, Spain and Turkey. Welcome to Dialogue. I’ll introduce them to you in the next post.

Separately, Graham referred to me, Robert Ware and Frits Slootweg as Distinguished Friends. It’s nice to be remembered. Thank you from the blogosphere, Graham, for the pix and the compliment.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

New Website

Dialogue International has a spanking new website. The European-based independent ad agency network, for which I was the US representative for so many years – and Chairman for two – has a new and dynamic face. It lets you link to every one of the 19 members…and gives you some idea of just how vital Dialogue continues to be.

The organization has just finished its Spring Managers’ Meeting in Gdansk, Poland, although I don’t yet know how Spring-like it was there in northern Europe. I hope to have photos soon. Meantime, enjoy the new site.