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74 posts categorized "Global Thinking"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

5 Reasons All The Hype About .anything Domain Names Is Like Y2K

IMB_RealityCheckAheadThe land grab is officially starting. For the first time since the popularization of the Internet, the big news today is that ICANN is opening up the ability for the creation of new suffixes that come after the dot, such as .com or .org. The open application process lets any organization apply to be the manager of a new top level domain (TLD) and applications are expected for everything from categories and industries like .ngo (for charities and nonprofits) or .city (for cities). In addition, of the over 2000 applications expected (despite the $185,000 application fee), more than 2/3rds will expected to be brands who are registering their own brand out of fear of cybersquatting.

This may not matter as much as many marketers and brands think it will. In fact, here are five big reasons why as of right now this is an overhyped development in technology:

1. History hasn't been kind to TLDs.

Wouldn't it be great if you were in the travel industry to be able to signify your site with a .travel domain name? Or for career sites to use .jobs?  Or museums to use .museum?  Well, all of those top level domains already exist. How often have you navigated to a site that uses any of them? New TLDs don't matter until people's behaviour starts to change for using them.

2. Any changes are years away.

The application process will be open for the next three months, and then will close. From that point, experts are predicting that it will be at least another year or two before ICANN is able to decide which of the TLDs are approved. The most obvious proof that this process will take years? There are a bunch of new consulting companies popping up as experts who can smell money to be made in the interim.

3. Categories will require a shakeout.

When tags started becoming popular to describe content online, it was seen as great news. Now you could describe content in a way that would index it automatically. The only problem is that people use different words. Some people call a retail place a shop and some call it a store. Will more people use .shop or .store?  How about .bazaar or .boutique? Until there is a single word, a TLD for a category really won't matter.

4. Google is still the kingmaker.

What most people are forgetting in all the hype is that a TLD really won't matter at all unless almight Google decides to list it in search results. So which TLDs get approved matter less than which ones Google chooses to index as part of their regular search results.

5. The web is now global.

In the early days of the web, .com (short for communications) was ok because the vast majority of sites were in English. Today the web is a different place. So TLDs that are in English may not see wide adoption globally. And different countries may use different TLDs. So the truly global TLDs like .com or .org may be few and far between ... and they may not be in English at all.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 Edition: 15 Marketing and Business Trends That Matter

Let me tell you a little secret.  I look forward to putting together an annual trend report the same way that some people look forward to having Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I realize that may sound a bit strange, but ever since I did my first trend recap last year I was hooked.  This year, the process of collecting the trends took all year.  I have a folder on my desk labelled "Trends 2012" and throughout the year I would rip out articles from magazines or printout webpages to save. Last November I started actually writing my trend presentation and finally released it on Slideshare yesterday. 

A few things surprised me about the trends this year. Here are a few of the most unexpected things:
  1. Only 2 out of 15 trends are based on innovative technology (Trends #10 and #13). Given the prominence of technology in our lives and more and more digital tools, I expected that more of the trends for 2012 would be based entirely on technology innovation. That ended up not being the case as most of the trends focused more on either behaviours or the use of sites and technology that already exist and don't really require much innovation in order to keep growing.
  2. Creativity and design are more important than ever. While it would have been too obvious to point this out as a trend on its own, many of the trends that were included in the presentation were highly dependent on encouraging more creativity and delivering great design. Measuring Life, for example, has taken off in part thanks to great product and interface designs. Pointillist Filmmaking or Social Artivism are clearly based on creativity and design. Even Retail Theater, Tagging Reality and Charitable Engagement are all trends that require creative thinking and  strong ability to use design to engage people.
  3. People actively seek opportunities to participate, collaborate or experience something. Doing something together came up as a big motivator for many of the trends this year, as Social Loneliness led people to look for more opportunities to have great experiences or be part of something worthwhile. Pointillist Filmmaking, Civic Engagement 2.0 and Retail Theater are all examples where people are seeking the chance to participate in something. Charitable Engagement ChangeSourcing and Co-Curation are other trends where people offer their time and passions to collaborate together on something.

Let me know what you think about these trends with a comment here or on Facebook, or feel free to send me an email at  Next week I'll be starting my trend folder to gather stories for 2013 ...

If you would like to get a downloadable version of this presentation, you can find it on my Facebook page at

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Survive The Modern Believability Crisis: Be Meaningful

IMB_CorporationsNotPeopleLast year when I spoke at a TEDx conference on reinventing marketing, I asked what I thought at the time was a relatively innocent question: "how many people in the audience feel that marketing is adding something positive to the world around them?" Of the few hands that went up, the majority came from people in marketing ... underscoring a gulf that has exponentially multipled in the 16 months since that talk. Today people around the world are launching full occupying demonstrations against big corporate brands and new research points to the US as the only country to see trust in all institutions decline from 2010 to 2011.  The bottom line is we are fully into a modern believability crisis.

And it is not just a crisis for marketing people either. When we live in a world where people become skeptical of everything around them and wary of any type of manipulation, we all lose. Society itself becomes a tougher place to interact with others and survive in. People only consume news they agree with, compromise is seen as surrender and the bickering of politicians becomes just a precursor to a similar toxic dissent which may start to invade the rest of our lives and interactions. 


If this seems like a doomsday scenario, the good news is that this week signs of hope emerged from some very unexpected places:

Though certainly colored by politics, Bill Clinton's new book Back To Work was profiled in yesterday's New York Times. In the review, reporter Michiko Kakutani says that Clinton "serves up a succinct common-sense argument for why America needs a strong national government, why both spending cuts and increased tax revenues are necessary for addressing the debt problem."

Also this week, communications agency Havas Media released a global study which showed that "only 20% of brands have a notable positive impact on our sense of wellbeing and quality of life." In the research which polled 50,000 people in 14 countries, they found that "most people would not care if 70% of brands ceased to exist (and in the US alone this number goes up to 82%)."


In a related point, they found that "nearly 85% of consumers worldwide expect companies to become actively involved in solving these issues (an increase of 15% from 2010)." The underlying message of the research is that companies must find a way to stand for more than just the products they make.  The impact they have on the world around them is becoming increasingly important to increasing customer loyalty.

IMB_BrandsConfToday I am speaking and participating in BrandsConf, a conference all about how brands can rediscover their humanity. More than two dozen speakers will share their thoughts in short bursts of 5 or 10 minutes each on how to add more humanity to the way that large organizations communicate. It could not have come at a better time. This idea of more human brands is closely related to why companies matter more to people.  Yes, a big part of it is how you choose to do business in the world and whether it is sustainable and responsible.  The other important piece, however, is the people who represent your brand and the human connection they can offer.

The real battle today isn't one of perception ... but one of meaning. In a sense, this is the big problem I am writing a book about how to solve (Likeonomics) - and one that the many speakers today will likely cover. Ultimately solving it will require a new level of organizational vulnerability and commitment for them to be more human and more honest. Honesty creates trust, and trust leads to us changing the culture of business and our culture itself.

IMB_OpportunityNationI saw this first hand last week at the Opportunity Nation Summit as well, where business, religious, political and media leaders came together to talk about the importance for all of us to create a nation of opportunity for everyone. For too long, as the summit shared, the zip code you are born in determines our future. That shouldn't be the case.  Business has an important role to play in this revolution ... and it isn't to sit back and let the attacks fly.

In a skeptical world where honesty has become the most unexpected thing of all ... making your brand meaningful to your consumer's life comes first from finding a way to tell the truth when you answer the question of whether you are offering anything positive to the world. Being meaningful is the new secret to creating long term brand value.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

What Steve Jobs Really Gave Us

IMB_SteveJobs100511 A few weeks ago I was asked an interesting question about what inspires me.  As I thought about my answer, I realized that for me it isn't a person but rather an action that I find most inspirational.  The people around the world who have an idea and decide to do something about it deserve to be celebrated. Entrepreneurship itself is the thing that I find most inspirational. 

Last night as I was watching all the media coverage honoring Steve Jobs and his life, it got me thinking that perhaps his biggest impact on the world wasn't just the products that he helped create, but rather in showing the world just how much people can achieve when they are inspired. Inspiration itself can be like that - a lightning rod that takes an army of smart people and helps them create something real. To me, his power to inspire came down to three things:

  1. Passion - By all reports of the people who worked with him, he lived and breathed the products that his company would work on. He would call engineers in the middle of the night, stress over a font or color choice and sometimes micromanage those small details. Still because of that passion and desire to be involved in the day to day work - not only could he make the products better, but he knew the products so well that when it came time to introduce them on stage to the world he wouldn't need to rely on bullet points prepared for him by product specialists. 
  2. Purpose - With every new product release, you got the sense that Apple was focused on changing the world in some new way. The ecosystem that each of the products allowed, from new operating systems to iTunes to the billion dollar market for Apps were all poised to make a big impact on how each of us experiences the world. This was the higher purpose behind Apple, and you could see it through the products they released. 
  3. Simplicity - When asked by biographers about what made Apple so powerful, one thing Steve Jobs always pointed to was the fact that Apple had always been a company which made less than 10 products. This extreme focus on simplicity carried through in his conversations with employees and how he would present products to the public. Simplicity can inspire because you strip away everything that is unimportant. What you are left with is a big idea which can move people. 

No doubt there will be countless books, articles and stories written about Steve Jobs and his impact over the coming years. For me, the biggest lesson I learned from watching and reading about Steve Jobs is the power of inspiration and how it can lead people to change the world. 

More posts about Apple on this blog:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why The Best Global Ideas Might Be "Proudly Found Elsewhere"

IMB_CannesCreativeFestival A few weeks ago, the Cannes Creative Festival brought together thousands of practitioners in every discipline of marketing and advertising to honor the best communications campaigns and thinking from the previous year.  As a marketing writer and strategist, I spend a lot of time thinking about original examples of great marketing. Good ideas are inspirations.

In particular, I love to find examples from outside of the US - as when I go and speak internationally, it is usually important to have examples from many different regions of the world. These examples are more than just global eye candy, however. They are often ideas that worked in one region, but have been untried in another. It led me to a simple thought and question:

What if every global organization got better at "transplanting" their best ideas from region to region?

To be clear, I am not suggesting just taking an exact idea and trying to replicate it in a new culture.  But after applying cultural insight to global thinking, couldn't it be better used  as inspiration for work in another?

The reason more brands don't do this usually has nothing to do with efficiency or with cultural insights. What stands in the way of this, typically, is ego. No marketing manager wants to admit that they are reusing an idea from a colleague, and agencies are not paid to recreate an idea that worked elsewhere - they are incentivized to create their own ideas.

This "not invented here" syndrome goes far beyond marketing - and it causes scientific research groups to recreate experiments, nonprofits to make the same mistakes over and over (or even unintentionally compete with one another for attention) and leads to redundancy in many other organizations. We all have a natural attachment to our own ideas - but the greatest missed opportunities might just come from those ideas that we dismiss simply because they aren't ours.

The future of many businesses and industries depends on putting this sort of thinking aside. Collaboration isn't just about solving problems. It can also be able taking the best ideas from one part of the world and helping to transplant them into another. The rising term for this type of thinking is a new buzzword and acronym: PFE or "Proudly Found Elsewhere." Perhaps what more global organizations need is someone who is definitively in charge of finding things elsewhere and transplanting the best ideas across an organization. This could easily become the job of the Content Curator, a role I suggested might be one of the social media jobs of the future.

The most successful global organizations are the ones who can embrace the concept of finding their next big ideas elsewhere. The surprising fact is that "elsewhere" may be closer to home than they think.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 Big Brand Lessons From The Corporate Social Media Summit

Yesterday I spent the day at the Corporate Social Media Summit, a big gathering of some of the best minds in leading social media efforts on behalf of large corporate brands. The event was put on by the team at Useful Social Media - and that indeed was the theme of the day as panelists offered real case studies, answered tough questions and generally demonstrated that there is real hope for large corporate brands to actively use social media to generate real business value in multiple ways. Here are some of the biggest lessons that 10 brands featured on Day 1 of the event shared in their presentations:

1. American Express* - "Altruism has a long tail."

Uniquely qualified to talk about the impact of altruism, American Express Open Forum VP of Social Media Laura Fink went behind the scenes of the hugely successful "Small Business Saturday" campaign that American Express launched back in November of 2010 to create a day where consumers could get rewarded with a $25 statement credit for shopping at a small business location. According to Fink, the campaign engaged more than 1.2 million small businesses around the country and also helped those businesses to see a 28% sales lift on the day of the promotion. Perhaps more importantly, it showed that doing something good can generate a real business impact for customers as well as for the big brand putting on the campaign.


2. Union Pacific - "Never underestimate local communities."

One of the largest railway companies in the United States, Union Pacific has also been around for nearly 150 years. To celebrate this heritage, Senior Manager of Media Technology Tim Mcmahan shared a case study of a crowdsourced competition that Union Pacific held to get people to vote on the ideal route for one of their old steam engines to take on the "Union Pacific Great Excursion Adventure." The voting was split into several rounds, with some fierce competition from unexpected locations. Through each round, Mcmahon shared that the consistently surprising result was that smaller towns like Tuscola, IL were routinely outpacing big metro markets like Chicago. The point, he noted, was that sometimes the most passion for a campaign like this can come from smaller local communities for whom winning may be a bigger deal. Across the campaign, there were nearly 200,000 votes recorded, over 100,000 email addresses captured and the brand plans to reprise the campaign next year.


3. Coca-Cola* - "The most important number in social media is 360."

Through the brilliant video below, Coke's Director of Digital Communications Ashley Brown told the story of a big ambitious PR idea which turned into the largest social media campaign the brand had ever done. The mission was to send three lucky travelers on a journey to all 206 countries around the world where Coke was sold. The trio embarked on their journey on January 1, 2010 and anyone could choose to follow their travels and adventures on the website Expedition 206 (which sadly doesn't seem to be available online anymore). Their goal in each country was to find what made people happy - which Brown noted was perfectly on strategy for Coke to build on their existing brand platform and marketing campaign centered around the idea to "open happiness." The answers they got ranged from family to music to dancing to soccer (yes, they made it to the World Cup in South Africa). Through the lens of this beautiful social experiment disguised as marketing, the team managed to reach what may be the most profound conclusion of all ... that happiness is always simple, whatever form it takes.

4. Best Buy - "Nobody owns social media."

IMB_BestBuyGina In one of the most eye-opening talks of the day, Gina Debogovich shared some big lessons learned from her time over the last 3-4 years building up the Best Buy customer service and social care center to what is now called the "Twelp Force. As a former customer care person herself, she talked about how Best Buy uses the overarching mission of "creating meaningful communications in the virtual world" to guide all of their efforts. They have an inner circle of about 26 team members dedicated to social media at their team, and then an extended 3000 employees who are actively encouraged to use social media and offered lots of different forms of training on how to do it. Her team is a resource that individual stores can use for advice on such tasks as how to effectively use Facebook specifically for their store. In addition, their team is the only customer care team in the world who currently has their own production studio for creating content such as their Best Buy Unboxing feature. In one case, Gina shared the unheard of stat of how they managed to reduce the volume of one "call driver" (customer service lingo for a top reason that people call a contact center) by 50% simply by producing a video to answer that question.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Gina spoke.

5. Samsung - "Negative experiences are our biggest opportunity."

Samsung is a brand that has made lots of strides recently in integrating social media into their customer service, and has been very active in joining conversations about their brand online. One of the leaders of this, Jessica Kalbarczyk (@samsungjessica) shared her insights about how her small team of four colleagues manages to engage people online about Samsung, and help solve their problems. For Jessica, coming from a marketing and PR role into one more focused on customer service was a fulfilling role because every day she manages to address real problems and change consumers experiences one by one. Anyone in a marketing role who has suffered through never ending meetings about social media without a real vision or tangible outcome will easily be able to imagine how nice a feeling it much be to actually solve real problems and the sense of accomplishment that would offer on a daily basis. As part of that, she shared a point of view which is common among customer service pros ... that they would much rather find negativity and have a chance to fix it and change that consumer's perception. Marketers, on the other hand, tend to run scared in the opposite direction from any negativity. There is clearly a lesson here about the necessity of integrating marketing and customer service more closely.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Jessica spoke.

6. Dell - "Forget ROI and focus more broadly on business value."

At the top of most analyst's lists of brands that have managed to integrate social media into their operations in a real and tangible way would likely be computer maker Dell. During his talk, Richard Binhammer from Dell shared a historical perspective of how social media became integrated into the organization, and one of the most powerful points in his presentation was where he shared the six business areas which have fully embraced social media for different business reasons - marketing, product development, sales, online presence, customer service and communications. While other brands focus on one of these at a time, Dell has reached a point where they can "inhale and exhale at the same time" as Richard shared in his talk. Ultimately, his biggest point is that "ROI" is such a restricting term when it comes to describing what social media can offer and there is a much stronger way to describe the real value behind it that we need to think about including in more of our discussions.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Richard spoke.

7. Southwest - "Have fun and be human."

Fun and airline are not two words that anyone would typically use in the same sentence, yet Social Media Manager from Southwest Airlines Alice Wilson devoted a good part of her talk about how Southwest creates a more human brand by using an irreverant voice. The questions that keep many other large brands up at night in terms of making sure they have backup for employees who are running social media channels, or mapping everything back to some specific campaign or column on a spreadsheet don't seem to matter as much for Southwest. They have guiding principles around their social voice, yet Alice shares that most people who speak out for the brand "just get the hang of it." Without that formalized training or overly bureaucratic approach to managing every aspect of Southwest, the brand succeeds because they have such a strong culture that people start to take it on as their own from day one and this translates into social media.


Disclaimer: I moderated this panel where Alice spoke.

8. Kodak - "Real time listening pays off."

Kodak is a brand that has won a lot of respect for how forward thinking they have been in moving into social media over the past several years, even publishing a guidebook which was available for the attendees on how to use social media and what they had learned. In his talk Tom Hoen, the Kodak Director of Interactive Marketing, shared a number of examples demonstrating the power of listening. In one example, the brand awoke to a barrage of negativity from fans of a Nickelodeon TV show called Degrassi because there was a rumor that the brand had pulled all their advertising due to the show's sometimes adult themes. Fairly rapidly, they were able to use social media to diffuse the rumor (it was actually just a natural pause in flighting for their ads) and engage those angry voices - leading one person to share on Twitter "Now I feel bad. I told the Kodak people to eff themselves sideways, and they sent me a tweet being all nice." Aside from the newly found good feelings, Degrassi and Nickelodeon offered up 2 free spots to Kodak during their season premiere. Not a bad ROI for engaging a few irate teens.


9. New York Life - "Brands need to trust their people."

An unexpected voice at the event came from Gregory Weiss, the AVP of Social Media for New York Life. He started with an entertaining look at the hypcritical nature of business, and how many large brands are afraid of what their employees might do with social media even though they let those same employees have phones and use fax machines and talk to people outside of the company. His main point was that if you can't trust your employees to do the right things and make the right choices, then maybe you need to hire better people. He offered several real tips for using social media in a corporate environment, including supporting your existing sales force, getting on the agenda of new hire initiations so you can tell them about social media, and even simple things like encouraging people to add your social media properties to the end of their email signatures. A point I took away as well, though he didn't mention it was about the importance of picking your battles. Apparently, New York Life also has a vetting process they use internally before any social media property can link to an outside website. That might seem like overkill for many brands, but Greg manages to work around it without making it a big issue.

10. Pepsi - "Reward people for everyday behaviour."

The last presentation of the day came from Josh Karpf, who focuses on an area that more brands should consider having as part of their marketing efforts ... digital research and development. His group runs many forward thinking experiments on how to use social media to engage consumers, and he shared some real examples and hard data from a few of their efforts around trying to offer couponing as a layer on top of geolocation and encouraging people to check in. For one campaign with Hess convenience stores, they found that using a Foursquare promotion in a particular location offered a 47% boost in volume of purchase over previous weeks where the campaign was not running - a great result for the retailer. On the Pepsi side, they interesting learned that coupon redemptions were much higher when offered to people as a reward for some type of behaviour, which seems to offer the logical conclusion that people are more likely to follow through a claim the discount or product from a coupon if they feel they had to "earn" that coupon in some way such as by checking into the gym for 10 days in a month.


*NOTE: Several of the brands mentioned in this post are current or previous Ogilvy clients. In particular, Coca-Cola and American Express are both clients and some Ogilvy team members may have worked on both of the campaigns mentioned. In both cases, I did not work in either campaign and also have not been compensated or encouraged in any way to write about these two brands or these campaigns. I am also a contributor to the American Express Open Forum website.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Australia Uses Social Media To Celebrate Immigrant Experiences

IMB_AfricatoAustralia2 Australia has a unique problem that almost no other country in the world would be able to understand. With a population of just under 20 million people, the country is one of the few places on Earth that anyone might be able to describe as underpopulated. The vast distances most people must travel to get from their home countries to Australia is certainly part of the reason - and the long history of violence against the native aboriginal people (much like the US history with the Native Americans) has led to drastically reduced native population.

Until just the last few decades, Australia was a place which also held onto a fairly racist immigration policy - legislating first against all immigrants, then against Southern Europeans (such as Greeks and Italians), and then against all others until finally in 1973 the country finally adopted the same open immigration policy as most other developed countries of the time.  Slowly, the country began to actively court people from all cultures to come to Australia. When I lived there from 1998 to 2003, I remember being struck by how invested the government was in getting people to join the culture and become Australian. They even had television ads where the call to action was "become a citizen."

Last year, the Australian TV channel SBS launched an interesting documentary series online designed to celebrate one sector of the immigrant experience - people who had come from Africa and built their lives in Australia. Told with an interactive website featuring videos of real people - the campaign offered an inside look at the success stories and real lives of African immigrants in Australia.


It is exactly the kind of campaign that every country should do more of. The immigrant experience is a critical part of the success of many countries, and recently it seems to be under a sort of undue scrutiny from many cultures as reactions to fundamentalist groups, potential terrorism and misguided fear mongering have led to a new rise in popularity for isolationism.

Preventing immigration is not the solution. Australia may have been one of the slowest countries in the world to realize the value of an open immigration policy - but now they celebrate it with campaigns like this one. Let's hope other developed countries can follow their example.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Trend: Why Your Second Life Might Matter More Than Your First

If you could have chosen a completely different path for your career, what would you have done? For generations, asking this sort of question was usually an exercise in idle daydreaming. Yet imagine if you lived in a world where you didn't have to choose. Where the alternative career path you never chose could still a part of your life - even though it had nothing to do with what you did for a living.

Several years ago, before the current buzz and attention on Facebook or Twitter, the darling of the fickle interactive marketing community was a virtual world called Second Life. The site allowed users to create a 3D virtual version of themselves and spend time in a completely virtual environment. It was frequently misunderstood by the mainstream, and seen as a waste of time - as this clip from The Office illustrates:

Yet for a core group of users, it offered an entirely new way to interact - without leaving your current life behind. The title of the site predicted the future in a way that few people understood at the time. Today, social media has offered millions of people the chance to pursue their own "second lives" around the passions that they always had. Did you always want to start a brewery? Now you can, and then blog about your experience. Amateur photography? Share your images online and even sell them to stock photo collections to make some money. Whatever your dream job - now you can join a community of others who share that dream and can help you to explore it ... all without quitting your day job.

When anyone is free to pursue their second lives - innovation can come from anyone anywhere. The separation between professionals and amateurs is blurred - leading to the rise of new groups like citizen journalists (CNN iReport), advertising co-creators (Doritos Super Bowl Ads) and many crowdsourced communities (Wikipedia, Toyota Ideas For Good). Everyone is an expert at something - and now technology has made that expertise easy to share.

The next big idea to change the world may very well come from the researchers at Google or the scientists at MIT. Or it might come from a stay at home mom writing a blog about physics. 

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Campaign To Save NBC's Outsourced Ignites Racial Debate

IMB_outsourced_nbc Having moved from a city where political correctness barely exists (Sydney) to one where it was invented (Washington DC) qualifies me as something of an expert. The idea of the importance of being politically correct is good in principle ... because there are many things that people can unintentionally do to marginalize or demonstrate an ignorance for another culture or gender. Yet the downside of a culture where political correctness dominates conversations is that people are forced to demonstrate a fake indignity over certain things simply because they feel they are supposed to.

This week a campaign led by many South Asians and including people from many other cultures
has been leading the charge to save a comedy called Outsourced from being cancelled by NBC. It is about a call center based in India and the culturally shocking adventures of the one American who has been sent to India to manage it. Does the show make fun of India? Yes. Does it make fun of being American in India? Yes. As a result, there are many people who feel that the show is too politically incorrect.

The show is filmed in India and features a cast of nearly 100% actors of Indian origin. There was a time when if you asked anyone to name an Indian character on TV, the only name that would come up was Apu from The Simpsons. Recently there have been an influx of Indian actors in leading roles on Parks & Recreation, The Office, Scrubs, House, Heroes, Lost, ER and many more. A film set in India featuring an Indian story even won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2008.

So a show like Outsourced was perhaps inevitable as the next evolution - using an all Indian cast and putting a contentious social issue like outsourcing and the tension it causes between cultures front and center. The show is a comedy about the real life challenges of communicating across cultures - and that is the subject line for many of the episodes. As our world gets more global, this is a subject that we need to talk about and one that we need to laugh together about.

Outsourced is not politically incorrect toward Indians, it puts a spotlight on how funny and universal the idea of relating to someone from a different culture can be. The show is hilarious and this is a subject worth spotlighting through a primetime comedy.

If you agree, check out some of the links below and support the effort to save Outsourced:

NBC Outsourced Facebook Page:
Outsourced Twitter Account:
Direct Email To Write A Letter Of Support:

And a few video clips from the show:



Monday, January 31, 2011

7 Predictions For How Healthcare & Our World Will Evolve By 2020

IMB_202020Vision Most trend predictions that forecast beyond a year into the future are doomed to inaccuracy simply because of the pace of change and unpredictability of innovation. The rightfully skeptic among us are therefore likely to condemn a report that promises to predict how the world might look in 2020 as a work of optimistic fiction at best, and an exercise overstretched vanity at worst. That was the lens I brought to a report that some colleagues of mine at Ogilvy CommonHealth recently shared with me called 202020 VISION, a digital-health report outlining 20 scenarios of what digitally driven healthcare might look like in 2020. The report is surprisingly brilliant.

Reading through the scenarios, it was easy to imagine a distant future where technology and healthcare finally begin to work together to create a better world of care for us all. Though we cannot share the full report here (see the bottom of this post for details on how to get the full report), this post highlights seven of the most powerful ideas from the report along with some potential implications for anyone in marketing and communications:

1. Exhaustive Behavioural Targeting Transforms Health Messaging.

In a world where nearly everything will become measurable, marketers will have exhaustive behavioural information about each of us, including our lifestyle behaviours, or how often we walk past an enabled sign will all be stored with the purpose of targeting more messages to each of us. This higher level of behavioural targeting will require regulation to prevent abuse, but it will also create the ability to create targeted offers to customers in real time that are based on that customers individual behaviour.


2. "Auto-Triage" Aids More Efficient Care.

In an emergency room environment, significant time is wasted trying to identify where a patient needs to go and what type of treatment they require. In 2020 this information will be handled by computers and automated based on data input into the system in the field by ambulance and emergency teams. Electronic medical records will be sent in advance of a patient, and this automated system will allow patients to be prioritized and seen more efficiently and quickly by doctors.


3. Supermarkets Become Centers For Healthcare.

Local supermarkets are already hubs for everything from groceries to pharmacies to banks to gas stations. In the imagined supermarket of the future, the food items we buy will have assigned "health points" and these points will be used to incentivize people towards healthier food choices. Combined with smart data delivered through home appliances such as connected fridges, supermarkets will be able to make real time suggestions on products to buy based on what we already have in our fridge at home.


4. Personalized Videos Bring Diseases To Life.

A big challenge for current healthcare professionals is to convey the gravity of a disease condition to patients. Unless patients feel this urgency, they don't change behaviours. By 2020, personalized video will enable healthcare professionals to equip newly diagnosed or non-compliant patients with customized videos that show patients like them dealing with similar conditions. Seeing the potential impact of not taking care of themselves through these computer generated videos will help patients make the necessary lifestyle changes, and stick to them.


5. Health Tourism Becomes Mainstream.

What is currently the realm of Hollywood stars and the wealthy will become mainstream by 2020. Health or Medical Tourism will no longer be a choice simply made based on the promise of getting cut rate medical care, but a preferable alternative because of the combination of quality of care, ability to focus on a recovery and generally more pleasant resort-like conditions at many health tourism locations that will allow patients to recover faster. Earlier detection of conditions will allow planning for this type of travel to happen much more frequently as well.


6. Gaming Connects Patients & Changes Lifestyles.

The power of gaming to transform medical care is already being explored in many different ways. The future of gaming will include the ability to create entire communities around specific disease conditions where the end goal of adherence to medication or lifestyle changes will be enabled by connecting experienced patients with the newly diagnosed in a gaming environment and allow them to support one another. Gaming will also enable the development of real skills as part of rehab programs and dexterity exercises. The reward systems built into gaming will also incentivize patients to take positive actions for their own health.


7. Communication Enabled Through The Power Of The Mind.

The terminally ill or severly handicapped struggle with the most basic of communications, yet by 2020 the growing field of brain-computer interfaces will have progressed to a level where these patients can communicate with others via their thoughts. This will enable them to significantly improve their quality of life, let the terminally ill "get their affairs in order" and otherwise transform long term patient care environments.


How To Get This Report:

If you'd like to see the full report, send an email to to request a copy and mention that you read about the report on this blog. Read the official release about the 202020 VISION report on the Ogilvy site.

Disclaimer - This report was written by a team of people from Ogilvy CommonHealth, a division of Ogilvy. Though I work at Ogilvy and do often work with the CommonHealth team, I did not contribute to the creation of this report, nor do I mean to take any credit for the research and thinking behind it. My opinion of this report is based solely on reading it after its publication and being inspired by the ideas contained in it. I have not been incentivized or asked to write this review by anyone else.