An Important Message...

 

Hi.  I'm Chris Wojda.  And I'm here to talk with you today about a very important and utterly baffling situation. Whether you call it "viral" or "sharable" content, the truth of the matter is, sometimes "social" just isn't meant to be. Every day people, possibly even you, make profound statements on Facebook, Twitter, or quite possibly even MySpace, only to have few and sometimes even no likes, retweets or even comments congratulating them on their pithiness, mastery of language or keen observational skills.  These moments can be damaging to one's ego.  But, of course, the truth of the matter is, sometimes social just isn't meant to be.

Take for instance this lovely bit of content that's over a month old on YouTube.  With the exception of cats, babies and someone getting injured it has all the right ingredients for sharable success.  From the man who brought us his D**k in a Box (Justin Timberlake) to the 2011 Teen Choice Award, Choice Female Hottie nominated voice of Meg Griffin (Mila Kunis) all the way to the laugh-out-loud funniness.  Yet somehow, a month later, this is still only registering about 32,000 views on YouTube. They even tell you to like it and share it, for the love of boy bands.  But until this week, even MTV hadn't covered it.

So why?

The truth is... I don't know.  I'm not sure that anyone does.  Which by all accounts makes this a bad post... and by the apparent rules of social, likely to be one of my most successful. 

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Brands Don't Even Have Control of Their Own House



The above scene from Airplane remains funny for many reasons 31 years after the movie first launched.  In the early-80s, part of that joke was the image of children drinking coffee.  Today that is just about normal.

Being from the Pacific Northwest, my love for and familiarity of coffee shops and coffee culture isn't new.  What makes a great coffee shop great is a variety of things... of which only about 50% has to do with coffee.  The other 50%, depending on the shop's brand, comes from the atmosphere - the space and the people.  And while teens have been going to Starbucks for years, this morning while at Starbucks, something occurred to me in a way I hadn't really thought of before:  Marketers no longer have control of their brands... all the way down to the in-store experience.

Starbucks is especially interesting in this regard, as their brand was built almost entirely from the in-store experience that they created.  The friendly baristas who knew you preferred your drink at 172 degrees or that you liked your shots best when pulled at eleven seconds, coupled with the furniture, music and the ability to quietly contemplate things on your own or discuss matters with friends or colleagues... it was all part of the experience.  Starbucks understood this better than anyone and possibly before anyone.

While it's entertaining to see ten-year olds with their parents, drinking from a cup that is wrapped in a sleeve (mostly made from post-consumer content, of course), it is equally fascinating and annoying that the morning coffee, a seemingly very adult experience, has become a hangout for young people who can't get into bars but can get away from their parents.  Caffeinated teens at 7:00 am have somewhat killed my expectation of the Starbucks experience. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

It's been said over and over again that marketers no longer have control of their brand - I know I'm not saying anything new here.  But keep in mind, that doesn't just refer to what might happen online or with your product after someone buys it.  In the end, you don't even necessarily have control of your in-store experience.

We discuss what it means to live in a Unified World a lot at Definition 6.  Brands and people in motion are blurry.  So too are the lines that define them.

Gabby Teens
 

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Unified Penmanship

It's an indicator that you're doing something right when your identity replaces the written version of your name in hand-written letters.  We love this.

Unified Penmanship
Notice how they wrote Definiti6n, like our logo, instead of Definition 6.

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TEDxAtlanta Recap/Revisit

A week ago, TEDxAtlanta put on its fifth event.  The subject was creativity and the speakers were absolutely awesome.  I believe it is safe to say that this was our best overall show.  All of the speakers were engaging, the crowd was at capacity and as aways, the food and music were fantastic.  A recap of the day can be found here.

And speaking of the fantastic music that is always a big part of TEDxAtlanta... just yesterday, Intel released the below video starring TEDxAtlanta alum, Zoe Keating as part of its Visual Life Contest.



Here is Zoe's performance from TEDxAtlanta.  Note: it was after this performance that I realized while "Ideas Worth Spreading" is a fantastic tagline, TED could actually get away with the tagline, "Making Successful People Feel Unaccomplished." 

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Every 80 Seconds

Our friends at the Red Cross have made a lot of news lately by demonstrating their grasp of social media.  First, they had that fantastically wonderful social media "emergency" that they handled with such grace and charm that they actually made money from the ordeal.  This mashable post explains it well.  


Last week, Chicago Red Cross launched a new website (http://every80seconds.comAmerican Red Cross/) that further demonstrates their understanding of the medium, while more importantly creating an emotional experience that demonstrates the emotional toll caused by house fires - the cause behind the ad and the disaster that the Red Cross actually responds to most. The first portion of the experience is interesting and makes the point.  Once you hit the Facebook Connect portion, however... the impact of house fires is really driven home.

Marketers have been talking for years about "creating experiences."  The Chicago Red Cross delivered.  Is your brand tapping the true power of social media?

 

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SxSW + TEDxAtlanta

This coming Tuesday (March 15th) will be a busy one for Definition 6.  Not only do we have World Consumer Rights Day and Andrew Jackson's birthday to celebrate (he'd be 244 if he were still alive), but Definition 6's own ECD, John Harne will be speaking at South by Southwest in Austin.  Additionally, TEDxAtlanta, of which Definition 6 continues to proudly support, will be holding its fifth event.

John's Core Conversation is Right Brain to Left: Art of Persuasive Presentations...
Why so many creative professionals in the interactive design and agency business struggle to sell their concepts, executions and creative work to the business decision makers. What are the potential issues of communicating concepts containing emotion and aesthetic content to analytical thinkers.  How some creative professionals are able to sell just about anything to their clients.

And if you go looking for John in the crowd, this is what he looks like:

Joh  Harne Card

TEDxAtlanta's focus this time around will be on Creativity...
Some ideas are too big to capture in language but glitter in our understanding of the world. Creativity is just such an idea.  TEDxAtlanta will explore creativity: not just the beauty, humor and ingenuity, but what's behind it.  We'll experience the wonder but also ask the questions.  Can creativity be measured?  Where does creativity live in our brains?  How can we grow more of it?

Talks will be from:
Sally Hogshead
Elizabeth Turk
Armin Vit
Victoria Rowell
Bonnie Cramond
Margaret Baldwin
Linton Hopkins
Michael Ouweleen
Viktor Venson

And musical performances will include:
Idan Raichel
India.Arie

For the John Harne Experience at Southby, be at the Marriott Courtyard (Brazos 2/3) located at 300 East 4th Street at 5:00PM.

TEDxAtlanta is at capacity... but you can watch the event streaming live by going to tedxatlanta.com. The show starts at noon and goes to about 6:00PM.
 

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Winning

The other day, Definition 6's Executive Creative Director, John Harne was asked to respond to JCPenney's new logo.

new jcpenney logo

John wrote:

1.  Don’t change a logo and/or brand if you do not have to
2.  Remember your customers have a relationship with that logo. 
     It may have a place in their hearts and minds
3.  If you have to make a change, make it relevant
     and memorable for the 100 years to come
4.  Be yourself and buck the trends
5.  Repeat rule number one

Though very different, interestingly the rules for tapping into cultural trends follow a similar pattern:

1.  Be timely
2.  Remember, people already have relationships with what you're trying to
     hijack. You're going to have to share space in the hearts and minds
     of people
3.  Don't worry about the future, make it relevant and remarkable for
     the moment.
4.  Be yourself but be willing to change to be in context with the trend
5.  Repeat rule number one

Jimmy Fallon demonstrates this perfectly with his spoof of Charlie Sheen.

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Apparently The World Agrees on Two Things: Twitter and Pizza

 

 

 

Twitter once again proves its worth in staging and supporting political rallies, protests and even revolutions.  Only this time, it's not just fueling the emotional fire of the disenchanted, it's also feeding their bellies... and doing so on a suprisingly global level.  Check it out.

 

 

 

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Social Media Wormholes

I wish I could call this the #RaganSM Re-Retrospective but I must say, even with the presence of Astronaut Douglas Wheelock, the conference, fortunately or unfortunately, just didn't cover Social Media Wormholes.  I suppose that's why we have Stephen Colbert.
 


The story continues... you can click here for more, or perhaps with the start of the week and fresh TV it will re-trend on Twitter.

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#RaganSM: A Retrospective

The Ragan Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference, perhaps better known to its attendees as #RaganSM, proved to be a good show on several new and fun fronts – one of our D6ers who has requested anonymity and will be referred to as "Sunshine" repeatedly proved that what happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily have to stay in Vegas (keep reading).  But before we get to "Sunshine," I’d like to discuss some of the key ideas from the conference:

1)     The concept of “brand journalism” – where brands have a more important and significant voice in culture was introduced by Mark Ragan and echoed by various other speakers.  This idea is fascinating for several reasons.  Moving brands to a more utilitarian and culturally relevant space has been talked about at conferences for years.  However, brand journalism is especially interesting when you consider how so many “experts” in recent years have discussed the death of traditional media and reporting.  Perhaps the next move for journalists is brand journalism.  Think about it.

2)     CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!  While this seems to be a popular message at a lot of conferences these days, Ragan’s focus on content produced by people who truly understand how to tell stories + truly emotional engagement showcased the importance of great content in a way that is rarely explained at conferences.  Story telling reigns supreme.

3)     Microfailure is constructive.  In social, failure (i.e. prematurely tweeting, tweeting from the wrong address, etc.) needs to be embraced for social to succeed.  Social is clearly a situation where creating to think, rather than thinking to create should be the norm.  This couldn’t have been demonstrated any better that by the Red Cross “oops” tweet and their magnificent recovery.  How fortuitous was it having the Red Cross as a speaker?  Which reminds me…

4)     Listening is more important than talking – find out what’s important to people and become a part of the conversation to create connections.  An example of this is how The Red Cross of Chicago seeks out and aids people who have suffered house fires.  They didn’t create the reason for interaction, but they inserted themselves into the situation and helped people in need – thus fulfilling their mission.  How is your business heroic?




And now back to "Sunshine."  Above is a rare video of "Sunshine" besting Brooks Thomas of Southwest Airlines by a smidgen in the Inaugural Definition 6 - Ragan Communications Sprint For No Reason. 


Epic After Party #RaganSM

the hangover



 

 

 

 

 


As shown in the above pictures and previous video, Definition 6 hosted a great impromptu party in "Sunshine’s" humble suite (he somehow only got it with a $100 upgrade) that was attended by about 100 conference-goers, possibly one female escort (we still aren’t sure) and Alan Garner, of course.  Perhaps this should be an annual happening.

 

 

 

 


As you likely can tell by now, "Sunshine" of Atlanta, GA practically owned Las Vegas from February 14-February 16, 2011.  At one point he even lost his BlackBerry in a taxi, tweeted about it, connected with another conference attendee who, after seeing the tweet, miraculously connected the dots and reunited "Sunshine" with the cabbie who had his CrackBerry--Keith Nichols of Western Cab.  (If you’re in Vegas and need a ride – 702.736.8000 – they deserve the business).

 


Definition 6 Business Development Executive Ken Brantley
A joyful "Sunshine" getting the cabbie’s phone number from Bo Edwards of Lockheed Martin.


Getting the blackberry back
 "Sunshine" getting his Blackberry back from Keith


Ken dropping Keith some of his winnings for his honesty and generosity.
 "Sunshine" dropping Keith some of his winnings for his honesty and generosity. It was a Ragan Conference miracle and a timely case example for the power of social media.


Ragan Social Media Conference
NASA Astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock



Video Courtesy of @Kevin_Hunt

But enough about "Sunshine" and back to the conference.  From the first astronaut to check into Foursquare from space (and who funnily enough, only realized much later that he has to do it twice before becoming mayor – #fail) to a singing David Pogue from the New York Times, the presenters were varied and provided a broad range of takeaways for the equally varied audience.  The 17 tools that everyone should know about for social media seemed to be the 17,000 tools that everyone should know about for social media and an always-entertaining Shel Holtz was equally as informative.  Congratulations Ragan on a great conference.
 

 

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Technology Loop

As a Portland native and brand planner, I’ve found the IFC series Portlandia to be an accurate, almost ethnographic in detail, portrayal of my hometown (so far).  To dismiss the show as weird (which it is) would be missing the point.  Portland, as much as I love it, is an odd duck. 

Some of the jokes in the show are nuanced to the point that I’m rather sure many people won’t catch them if they haven’t at least driven among Portland’s herds of Volvos and Subarus.  This scene, however, is something that I’m sure almost anyone reading this blog can relate to.  Enjoy:

 

 


 

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Know New Ideas

A few times per month an email called “Know New Ideas” with some of the top news stories that have captured our attention over the past few weeks gets circulated around Definition 6. The stories (no matter what they are or where they come from) make us ponder, somehow inspire us, or perhaps make us wince.  These are some of the stories that piqued our attention in the latter half of January.

Industry:

This is about a year old, but may be new to some.  If you haven’t seen the Logorama movie by H5, it’s worth a watch.  Check it out here.  Apparently it took six years to make.  Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.

Hello Ladies... CBS News apparently finds Isaiah Mustafa’s return to TV newsworthy.  Do you?

The New York Times on why claiming “taste” is best for the Crunchy Nut brand.

No Right Brain Left Behind...who wants to participate?

Technology:

Engadget on Kristian Ulrich Larsen’s reimagining of the touch screen phone. In the meantime, John's Phone also made us think, there's not a whole lot of mobile marketing applications here.

Mashable on the changing face of word of mouth marketing. Wasn’t that what made WOM so great, the actual lack of brand presence?

Culture:

The New Yorker as inspiration to write incredibly deep target audience descriptions.

The Village Voice demonstrates how, once again, nobody can give nick names like Italian mobsters.

Daily Dawdle with 10 examples of brilliant shadow art.  Shadows as media...hmmm?


You can follow @ChrisWojda on Twitter.

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Really, CW?

Vampire Diaries "Catch CD" Banner Ad


The other day I came across the above “Catch VD” banner ad for the seven-time Teen Choice award-winning Vampire Diaries.  The campaign is also running outdoor (see below) in Times Square and on Sunset Blvd. - excellent use of negative space, by the way
.


Vampire Diaries Catch VD Billboard


Vampire Diaries Catch VD BillboardI understand the angst that some people have regarding the double entendre headline and I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in the show’s teen-heavy demographic even say “VD” or know what it is - I think by the time most of them were born “STD” was already in vogue.  What I don’t understand is the responses by the CW when asked about their marketing choice.  In case you haven’t heard, CW, your viewers aren’t stupid.  Please don’t answer questions regarding such clearly purposely provocative messaging by saying:

“VD simply stands for Vampire Diaries, and anyone who thinks otherwise should probably get themselves checked out.”

And I suppose this is just a reference to the stuff that trees produce.  At the risk of sounding a bit like Love Story, let me end this by saying: Branding means never having to say you’re something that you aren’t. 

To see what fans of the show are saying about the new campaign, check out
this poll.

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The Gap Logo Fiasco


There have obviously been many things observed/written about the logo formerly known as the new Gap logo.  Clearly,

“My mom could have made it on PowerPoint.”

“Why? They don’t need a new logo.”

“Helvetica... again.  Really?”

“What’s up with the square?”

And of course, this tweet:



... are all funny and frankly good observations.  The follow-up by Gap to the whole fiasco was interesting, as well... and depending on who you ask, the truth about their reaction changes there, too.  I’ve been told:

“Gap just pulled it.”

“Gap tried to say it was an experiment in crowd-sourcing.”

“At first Gap tried to defend it, but gave up about a day later.”

And frankly, the truth to this isn’t entirely important either.  Regardless, several lessons can be learned:

1. If you’re going to make a massive identity change, you better believe in your brand.  What was missing here wasn’t so much the presence of a great new logo as much as it was the presence of a confident brand.  About nine months ago Apple announced a new product that they were proudly calling the iPad. The reaction by at least 50% (most women and some men) of the world was astonishment.

“I only want to think about pads during my period.”

“Doesn’t Apple have any men working for them?”

And of course references to this MADTV gem from 2007 flooded the Internet. In other words, it’s important for brands to appear confident (even when they aren’t).  Nobody jokes about the name iPad anymore because Apple stuck to their guns.  I wonder if Gap had retained their confidence from this era if things would have turned out the same way.

Today, Apple is a leader, Gap is a follower.

2. Before you crowdsource anything... make sure you get the opinion of your most avid advocates.  A massive amount of Twitter and Facebook traffic that was responsible for killing the new (old) Gap logo was from people who likely don’t even shop at the store. Had Gap properly ran their idea by the right people – their advocates, prior to launch:
It would have likely been killed before it was ever launched.

The kneejerk reaction by Gap to kill it wouldn’t have happened, because they would have had more confidence in their decision to go with it.Knowing that you’re talking to the right people is important for more than just old-fashioned focus groups.

3. It’s the brand, stupid.
Relevant brands trump “modernized” logos every time. A few years ago Gap understood this. What happened? What are your thoughts?

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Takeaways from TEDx Atlanta

Following my post yesterday on great quotes from TEDx, I wanted to share some takeways from the event.
 

I was fortunate to attend the fourth TEDx Atlanta last Tuesday.  It was the third TEDx Atlanta that I have been lucky enough to both attend and help organize (as well as the second TEDx Atlanta sponsored by Definition 6).  As expected from any product or event associated with TED, the speakers were all great and the content was interesting and insightful.

Coca-Cola’s VP of Global Design, David Butler














Having had a few days to let the content percolate, a few patterns have emerged:

The first is the importance, not of dropping out of college to change the world (we’ve all heard enough from geniuses who skipped school to accomplish great things), but of looking in perhaps unexpected places and connecting perhaps unlikely dots to do your best work.

Having the ability to see opportunity when others don’t, while obvious in its own right, was pervasive all day long.  A few years back, a book called The Medici Effect showcased how successful people all through history have repeatedly had this skill.  Being able to sit in a conference and have what Stanley and Danko might call “the geniuses next door” demonstrate this aptitude was enlightening. 

Ranging from Farmer D, who one day while stoned and skipping class in college, asked his Turkey sandwich “where did you come from?” to Mills Snowden, whose thinking about building a more efficient home randomly led him to being a contender for the X Prize

Perhaps Coca-Cola’s VP of Global Design, David Butler, summed it up best when he said: “We can’t think in silos anymore.  We have to think horizontally.  We have to think hollistically.”

While the only group to take the stage was the band Modern Skirts, the pattern from the day involves the importance of collaboration and sharing in accomplishing great things. 

Presenter Logan Smalley, maker of the award winning movie, “Darius Goes West” was a prime example of this.  He started making the film with a Google search asking how to make a documentary film.  By collaborating with people online, he eventually got passed his frustrations of not being able to afford the equipment when somebody told him that it doesn’t matter what he shoots the movie with – if he has a story to tell, people will listen.  Had he not pursued collaborating with other film makers as strongly as he did, there’s a good chance the movie would have never happened. 

Likewise, by working with a close group of friends (all of which knew nothing about movie making) he was able to build the alliance and gain the support he needed to accomplish his goal of making a movie to raise awareness of the disease that his friend was suffering from all while giving his friend the experience of a lifetime.  He additionally said, “The modern approach to movie making is one of mankind’s most incredible and perhaps most underutilized tools for collaborative problem solving.”  Today, everything is about collaboration.  

This leads to what was probably the most prevailant pattern of the day:  As David Butler coined it: “Learn by doing.”  Logan Smalley’s Google search is an example of this, as is Mills Snowden’s work on creating a car that can achieve 100 miles per gallon (like Logan, Mills had zero category experience prior to his effort).  On this subject, Mills said, “The most important part of developing your idea is that you have to start.”  Farmer D (Daron Joffe) is a self-taught organic farmer.  Even the band’s opening set which utilized various furniture to make noise exemplified this notion.

When asked by an audience member how to move beyond the brainstorming stage, a panel of the first five speakers responded:
  • You need to enroll people in your idea... You’re very limited if you’re the only one doing it.
  • Be sure you’re prepared to know what you’re talking about before you get people involved.
  • Use the language of the people you’re talking to... Don’t get lost in your own language.

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Great Quotes From TEDx Atlanta Re:solve



If you weren't one of the lucky few to attend the TEDx Atlanta Re:solve event last week, here are some great quotes I wanted to share with you:
  • “The modern approach to movie making is one of mankind’s most incredible and perhaps most underutilized tools for collaborative problem solving.” - Logan Smalley
  • “In the modern world, we’re all marketers, we’re all neighbors and we’re all pulling up a chair to the same fire – the Internet.” - Logan Smalley
  • “There is a window of opportunity that exists while you’re young to get advice form the smartest people around because they don’t expect you to pay a consulting fee.” - Logan Smalley
  • “The Internet of the ancient world was the solar system.” - Farmer D.
  • “By 2020 there will be more millionaires in India than there are total people in Canada and Australia.” - David Butler
  • “Learn by doing.” - David Butler
  • “Hydrogen has the most energy of any element shy of radioactive.” - Mills Snowden
  • “The most important part of developing your idea is you have to start.” - Mills Snowden
  • “The world conspires to help whn you are up to something big.” - Harrison Dillon
  • “Energy time operates in 10 year cycles.  Political time operates in 2 year cycles. [It’s the reason we have such a hard time solving our energy problem].” - Harrison Dillon
  • “We have to make sure that our politicians know that we all care about more than what happens beyond the next political cycle.” - Harrison Dillon
  • “Everyone has a sea of influence that can be traced.” - Jim Hartzfeld
  • “There’s a fundamental difference between curing sickness and creating health.” - Jim Hartzfeld
  • “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.  Not everybody’s entitled to their own facts.” - Sam Williams

For more information on TED and TEDx Atlanta, visit the TEDx Atlanta site here. You can also view photos and videos from recent events.

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Advice for BP, From BP

Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for this observation as I lifted it off of a friend on facebook.  And as a blogger, the image’s beautiful irony leaves me a bit speechless.  Perhaps the lesson here is that in blogging, as in life, some things are better left unsaid.

 


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Barnard is Still Right

The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is widely attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, who published a piece extolling the effectiveness of graphic images in advertising titled "One look is worth a thousand words", in Printer's Ink, December 1921. And while certain devices are rendering printed publications somewhat obsolete, the immediacy and therefore power of a quality still image will never be deemed old-fashioned.

Speaking of such devices, in this brilliant iPad demonstration, a friend cheers on her teammate who is competing in a national level dog agility competition while her brother receives his Master’s Degree.


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Walmart at 11:45 PM

Brands play an important role in helping people design their own personal image.  In return, brands help the rest of us, however inappropriate or unfair, shape opinions of others.  I remember as a child, my older sister would always crack jokes about another kid in our neighborhood who “bought her clothes at Kmart.”  Her remarks, however childish, left me with a sour taste in my brain for both my sister’s rival and Kmart.  And while much of Kmart’s image problem has been documented in case studies, in other words, it is rather deserved, I attribute most of my dislike of the brand to the few comments my sister made circa 1985. 

Today, a similar situation exists for Walmart (only on a digital level), as sites such as People of Walmart and Wakeup Walmart, in much the same way my sister did, attack the megastore’s patrons as well as the brand/company itself.  And while I know I’m not revealing anything new here, People of Walmart has already been spoofed by College Humor, called one of the Top 50 websites of 2009 by TIME and has over 20,000 fans on Facebook; considering my sister’s effectiveness of negatively branding Kmart for me, I can’t help but wonder what the long-term affects of such sites are going to be on the Walmart brand.  What do you think?



As for this picture, I snapped it at 11:45 PM at the Walmart on Cobb Parkway in Acworth, GA last Saturday.  I had just realized that we didn’t have any wine or beer and company was coming on Sunday (in Georgia, you can’t purchase alcohol on Sunday).  I ran for some Heineken and Yellow Tail and left with brand experience that keeps me thinking.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone stuff a puppy down their bra like that before.  The kid with the mohawk doesn’t hurt either.


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