April 13, 2010 The Madison Avenue Monitor

Industry Trends Archive

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The AAAA's Diversity Crash

ck is on assignment this week and will be back next week with Mad Ave's Marketer "Hot...or Not" poll. Meanwhile, she'd love to hear from you while she's on the road, so give her a shout and vote on this month's current "Olympic-sized" topic.




Is there a connection between last night's best picture award going to "Crash" and today's cover story in AdAge.com dealing with discrimination in Madison Avenue's ad agencies? We believe so.

Ad Age reported: "Madison Avenue's white management ranks are about to be exposed in public hearings on ad agencies’ minority-hiring practices that could drag industry stars such as Andrew Robertson, Kevin Roberts and Shelly Lazarus--and their clients--into an unflattering spotlight".

Mr. O. Burtch Drake has been president and CEO of AAAA since 1994. Many of today's cutting edge thinkers leading the business were still in puberty back then. For an association supposed to be leading the 21st century communications business, its site has does not even have a blog. Other than the normal industry committee news releases and conference dates, is it any surprise that Madison Avenue's site focuses more content on the incredibly pathetic "Advertising Week" than it does on "diversity"?


And The Award For The Most Embarrassing Industry Association Site Of The Year Goes To: www.aaaa.org

Divergence Denial: CK Chats It Up with Al Ries. Part 1 of 2.


Divergence is a brand's best friend--so why aren't Mad Ave and the Media paying it any mind?

By Christina Kerley

Download PDF Version here

Al Ries' latest book, "The Origin of Brands", co-authored by Laura Ries, provides a much-needed wake-up call to all marketers consumed by convergence hype. The famed thought leader who is in great part responsible for making the word 'positioning' a part of our vocabulary, and who, over the course of some thirty years, has built many of Mad Ave's famous brands, debunks convergence for failing to deliver. He instead illustrates how divergence, convergence's lesser-known opposite, is the catalyst for scores of success stories.

Ries' message is simple yet revolutionary: Brands, be they high-tech or low, diverge and go in many directions, spawning new brands and new brand categories. Marketers should focus less on producing fewer brands (that do more) and more on creating new brand categories (that specialize in doing less).

Convergence contends that products evolve into unified devices through linear evolutions; whereas divergence disputes this notion, citing innovation is spurred through disruptive revolutions. It could sound like a bunch of jargon, until you consider one of the twentieth century's most important innovations, the Internet, was a disruptive technology.

In dedicating his book to divergence, Ries declares it "the least understood, most powerful force in the universe." Apparently, as goes the universe, so goes business--the very people who promote convergence most are the ones who understand it least; namely, Mad Ave and the Media. In this first segment of my two-part series, I'm working on righting Mad Ave's divergence denial; in part two I'm tackling the media's myopia.


Enter Mad Ave, cravers of all things cool and converged. On this plane convergence reigns supreme. Always the soup du jour, forever in style (if convergence were a color, it would be black) and constantly billed as where the world is heading. For an industry built on brand launches and line extensions, it appears Mad Ave is preaching convergence...but, in reality, is practicing divergence.

Divergence Denial: CK Chats It Up with Al Ries. Part 2 of 2.


Divergence is a brand's best friend--so why aren't Mad Ave and the Media paying it any mind?

By Christina Kerley

Download PDF Version

For decades there has been a constant stream of convergence stories promising that devices, appliances, technologies and industries will converge in the not-too-distant future. It made me wonder if anyone else noticed how that future never gets closer, just more distant. Since I've been baffled by convergence's cult-like following long before I covered it in my weekly poll last year, it was validating for two of today's foremost thought leaders to articulate it in "The Origin of Brands", as Al and Laura Ries have in their most recent book.

But when I reached out to Al to discuss his ideas on divergence (and his issues with convergence), I learned rather than striking a chord with the media, Ries has hit a nerve. His divergence message has not only fallen on deaf ears; it's fallen asunder to closed minds.

In part one of this series, I focused on Mad Ave's divergence denial, contending while Mad Ave is preaching convergence, through myriad brand launches and endless line extensions, it's actually practicing divergence. In this segment, I'm talking about those who talk convergence most: the Media.

To be sure, convergence has given us many things. It's given us convenience, at a high price to quality and ease of use (we're still waiting for smart phones to get smart and for our passive TVs to interact with us). It's given us the illusion of convergence, through bundled products with the fancy convergence term slapped on for good measure (while integrated, software suites don't converge technologies, they bundle products). And it's given us 'all-in-ones' that cost less than buying several separate devices (they should, their quality is usually less). But of all the things convergence has given us, most prominent is the constant bellow of hype (that mostly rings hollow).


I Want My HGTV: To Watch It, Read It, Click It, Be In It!


Media Multiplication

By Gene DeWitt

It occurred to me recently that each medium is now becoming all media. What I mean to say is that divergence and convergence have become obsolete as concepts since:

1. Magazines have become TV networks (HGTV, National Geo, Oprah, Martha Stewart) and, with the advent of video streaming, it will become de rigeur for every magazine, from Ad Age to Vogue, to have its own global television "network". Of course, a magazine without a website is a rarity and many podcast as well a vcast. Adage.com has a larger audience than its print parent!


2. Television networks have become magazines (ESPN, Discovery Channel).

3. Radio stations are becoming global via the net, potentially dwarfing the much ballyhooed satellite radio distributors. Is there a "Howard Stern Magazine" in our future?

2006 "SarbOx" Deflations vs. Media-"Star Buck" Inflations


During the Internet boom, a classic question webdev shops would pose to corporations was the line, "What keeps you up at night"? For many of us on the i-agency side, we hoped they would reply, "Good question, we need to build a new $3 million web site". Most often though, we received dull stares. It wasn't the first time they'd heard the question. The second thing was that the late '90's era venti-sized stock market was helping CXO's sleep quite well. But then, once Enron, Worldcom and others sucked the "double tall non-fat decaf latte" out of the market, Washington DC felt the need to put on a black apron and take over brewing the coffee. It was time to wake the corporations up.


Inside The Trojan Horse OnLine Madison Avenue. Episode 1.0


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!


The Way We Were. The Way We Shall Be? AOL's Coming Of Age


"Memories, Like the corners of my mind. Misty watercolor memories, Of the way we were."

Who can take a few simple lines and generate such sentimental goose-bumps of bitter/sweet loss, a yearning to go back in time to fix the regretful errors of yesterday and most of all, to regain our loss of innocence than Streisand?

With the re-emergence of AOL as the hot new media property - which other companies are once again jump-balling for - have we finally come full circle? Is the era we once created full throttle and then retreated in full throttle finally over?

Are we at the dawn of the next one? By all appearances, one would think so.

Is This Trend Your Friend?


By Christina Kerley

We're getting trendy. Trends are frequently at the center of conversations with friends, family, clients, colleagues, strangers and last but not least, the press. Understandably, trends and fads merit much discussion - and many dollars - as they affect perceptions, preferences and purchasing decisions. Yet, for all that trends affect our daily lives, there are some - with that special something - that never go out of style.

MACVIDEONY Creative Work

Hey Google, Save the Curbs

Next-Gen Mobile Carrier: Magee

Sarah Fay in wwwLand, Parts 1 thru 3.

Alan Chapell Goes Public on Privacy, Parts 1-3.

800 lb Gorilla Fandango Makes Noise at App Planet

Agency Rich Media Lovers Boogie as Palm Gets "Flash-y"

Churchill @ the Mobile UpFront

Google's Buzz Gets Stoned @ the WMC

Don't Go Into the Bathroom!