April 13, 2010
 

Inside The Trojan Horse OnLine Madison Avenue. Episode 1.0

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Imagine the thoughts running through Odysseus - hidden inside the Trojan Horse - outside the City of Troy right before he conquered that city. Rolled up to the city gates in the wee hours of the morning, can you picture it...he and his men sitting there quietly inside the hollow wooden armament?

What a feeling it must have been awaiting the dawn, anticipating the curiosity of the Trojans, hearing the voices, the call of the guard, the opening of the gates and then ultimately, the surprise on the faces of the poor souls who wheeled the ancient equivalent of a bomb into the city.

Sword in hand with his army poised around him, the wait must have been exhilarating and excruciating, as he implemented the last piece of his deviously disguised attack plan, which his adversaries mis-took as a gift.

There is probably not much difference between the excitement Odysseus felt - feeling the wobbly horse being brought into Troy - and the new "ownership society" taking hold on college campuses in more than 1,600 colleges and universities who offer courses in entrepreneurship today.

According to The New York Times, "experts see a surge reflecting profound changes in the American economy...a response to globalization and the fact that "two billion people in the world want to do the same job you do," says Paul Merage, an entrepreneur and philanthropist." The emphasis now is to start your own business.

According to Professor O'Malia, program director at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurship, a specialized unit within U.S.C.'s Marshall School of Business, "There's no job security. If the average corporation must recreate itself every 3.4 years, you need to think about controlling your destiny."

That trend will undoubtedly (and thankfully) become a real threat to today's Madison Avenue as we know it, where 90% or more of all advertising is created and placed by 10-12 companies world-wide. Welcoming in new recruits fresh out of school may very well be similar to letting the Odysseus' of our next generation into our overblown agencies of Troy; just itching to get inside so they can tear the place apart!

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Technologically, Trojan horses are already here, though in a deadly way that hurts more than helps the entreprenurial spirit. Named Trojan horses due their similar nature, digitally, they are virus-like. They are hacked into bank computers. They then wait for users to access their bank account records online. Once triggered, the "Trojan" then captures your password, takes screenshots of your transaction and then relays it back to the hackers who use the data to steal your cash.

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It takes a major "phishing expedition" to crack the code on these insidious creatures, as evidenced by this CNET created diagram which shows how vulnerable the world's computer network is to manipulation.

However, within the marketing business, Odysseus represents the ideal role model for anyone either pushed out of the business or the classroom. Homer's classic Ulysses is as worth studying as much as Machiavelli's "The Prince" or Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."

Perhaps even more relevant is James Joyce's "Ulysses," the name borrowed from Homer with more than a few similarities to the greek classic. Stephen Dedalus is the hero of Joyce's earlier work, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." He resurfaces in his later day classic, "Ulysses," which takes place all in the span of one day in Dublin, Ireland. His counterpart in the story - and actually the main character is Leopold Bloom - who happens to be an advertising salesman!
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Such an impact was Joyce's Bloom on European society that "Bloomsday" is celebrated every June 16th across the globe in honor of our MadAve hero. Ireland is certainly taking a much more prominent position in the sea of new media tech companies. According to the Wall Street Journal's November 7th edition, "Giant U.S. companies whose products are heavily based on their innovations, such as technology and pharmaceutical firms, increasingly are setting up units in Ireland...at the expense of the U.S. Treasury." The article, aptly titled, "Wearing of the Green" published that Microsoft's Irish subsidiary helps it slash taxes in U.S. and Europe.

Who knows? Will green one day replace MSN's current "Redmond" headquarters color? Is there any blarney in assuming that the Emerald Isle's speed to market - if not speed to saving more greenbacks - makes Gates and gang see it as a most attractive emblem?

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Even more coincidential and whimsical, while Bloom and Odysseus were cunning and resourceful - and loaded with their fair share of pride and human failings - is there more here than meets the eye; a tongue in cheek reference to the monstrous one-eyed Cyclops.

What marketing research connection was there between Odysseus' being tempted by the voices and minstrel music produced by the deadly "Sirens" to the choice of the new potentially equally alluring Sirius, potentially deadly to commerical radio as we know it.

Seriously, NASA's "Ulysses" satellite, nick-named "Dr. Suess to the stars" has its own kids web site detailing its venture with the European Space Agency, as together their mission is to navigate the heavens and study the sun at all latitudes.

Over the next series of episodes we will cover more of Ulysses, Icarus, Poseidon, Achilles and more. The more things change, the more they remain the same. It's still "A Brave New World."

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To be continued...

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