Back from the Dead: PODCASTING!

You heard me. Podcasts are about as hot as The Walking Dead. Making a raging comeback, revolutionizing the old medium with high quality production, juicy story-telling, and attracting droves of young, new listeners, Podcasts are a marketing field covered with untouched snow. Is it even possible? New terrain?

Three Big Reasons to Pay Attention:

1. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility 
Besides good old, fashioned music, what other form of engagement lends itself perfectly to mobility and multi-tasking? Podcasts will literally be the “hands-down” winner in the coming year as the format extends engagement into untapped occasions that are now dominated by music: driving, doing dishes, gardening, hitting the gym, cleaning the house, etc. Looking forward to that commute? Hell yeah!

2. Ears: The New Eyeballs
By the end of 2014, podcasting was up 25% vs. 2013 with nearly 40 million listeners. 2014 was also the year people started thinking differently about old stereotypes of podcasting, namely, because of the hugely popular podcast, “Serial.” Serial likely marked the turning point of the medium from cold and dead to hot and trendy. Serial has been downloaded or streamed on iTunes more than 5 million times and averaged over 1.5 million listeners an episode. It is now the most popular podcast in history. Wait till the binge-listeners catch on and catch up.

3. Accessibility to Production and Distribution
For well under $100, anyone can create a high quality podcast production from home. Youtube, Vine, Instagram – all user generated content that built empires once the technology and infrastructure were in place.

With stereotypes up-ending …. Podcasting is the new frontier.


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Hijacking IKEA and the Benefits of Brand-Jacking

Today’s brands are being challenged to interact with consumers in ways that can range anywhere from uncomfortable to illegal. And while most of our brands were built off the Soup Nazi model of marketing (we make – you buy!), today’s consumer expects a seat at the table.

This past year, it was IKEA’s turn to decide how to handle an increasingly “intrusive” community proudly calling themselves IKEA Hackers. IKEA Hackers share a passion for using the simplicity and modular nature of IKEA products to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture. The global community congregates onikeahackers.net to showcase and demonstrate how to recreate each unique design. In turn, more IKEA hacking businesses have emerged, hawking hacking accessories to further customize and reinvent standard IKEA furniture. (Check out Bemz,  Panyl,  Superfront  and Prettypegs)

At face value, a community like this can be seen as threatening to any brand: brand images are distorted, brand positionings are undermined and brand personalities become inconsistent.

You’ve been Brand-Jacked. Now what?

IKEA’s initial response was to issue a cease and desist order, demanding that the IKEA logo, the blue and yellow color scheme or anything trademarked by the company, including the ikeahackers.net domain name be taken down.

But what actually may seem threatening, reveals a group of IKEA fanatics, so beholden to the brand, they feel they own it. Jules Yapp, the owner of the site said, “I felt slapped by the person I loved and thought I was doing my best for. I wish IKEA could have looked at it from my side of the fence—that the site has generated tons of publicity and goodwill for their brand, which they did not pay a cent for.” In fact, “Jules” even hacked her name from the Jules Chair from IKEA. Her real name is Mei Mei.

In response to IKEA’s actions, the hacking community became outraged and vocal, attracting a second look from inside IKEA. In an unexpected about-turn, IKEA determined that the company’s initial reaction was not in the spirit of the brand, which is to “make life better for everyone.” For now, IKEA has backed off its hackers. BRAVURA!

So, for the rest of the brands out there: be prepared. Today’s consumer will increasingly try to access more than you may be comfortable sharing. It’s time to think about what you’re willing to let go.

For a great in-depth podcast on IKEA hacking, check out 99% Invisible’s Hacking IKEA.

Follow Nicole Ertas on LinkedIn to receive the upcoming series: Exploring the 10 Road Rules of Free-Range Branding.

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Is your Brand a Survivor or Roadkill?

Reebok’s new inspirational chicken isn’t the only brand hitting the open range. All our brands today are being faced with the choice to hide in the coop or jump into a new world, one that changes daily, faster than we can catch up.

But there’s a difference between brands that take the leap and those that can actually survive the free range.

The Difference between Brand Survival & Roadkill

Both free-range brands and future roadkill may seem similar on the surface. Both can launch provocative creative that gets engagement. Both can support philanthropic efforts to show they care.

But rather than engaging consumers with a call to action, free-range brands lead with a call to the wild, teeing up ideas or throwing down the gauntlet to inspire and ignite spontaneous and visceral stampedes. Free-range brands manifest cultural momentum. As a result, they thrive in ways never imagined or pre-defined by the brand team.

Future roadkill, at best, will entertain and die.

A free-range brand knows when to exert control and when to let go. Free-range brands know that true authenticity can only be manifested by the community, not dictated by a brand monarch. So letting go, rather than controlling, becomes the key to survival.

Free-range brands can be corporate, mainstream and have mass appeal, like Coke, Oreo, Kit Kat and Urban Outfitters. Roadkill uses that as an excuse.

The difference isn’t in what programs they launch. The difference is in the way they think, the way they learn and the way they evolve.

While it’s still the wild west on the digital frontier, one critical component of this evolution has crossed a threshold to never return: traditional brand management, hardwired for control, is an era gone by.

So, root for the chicken and consider … what kind of brand are you creating?

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The Most Blissful Break-Up

Millennials have had enough of suffocating contracts and phone-upgrade deprivation, and T-Mobile has come riding in to end the tyrannical reign AT&T has had over its captive citizens.

T Mobie Break Up Letter

Billing itself as the “Uncarrier,” Team Mobile is distancing itself from the bad behavior that stigmatizes the industry. Not only is T-Mobile fighting back, but the brand is giving Millennials the opportunity to throw a well-deserved punch in the process.

Bold, playful and everything a Millennial would want, The Break-Up campaign couldn’t make it easier or more enjoyable to give AT&T a straight-up, well-deserved smack in the face. You can select how you want to deliver your punch and T-mobile will take care of the dirty work, picking up any fees along the way. Then you can share your bold move with your friends.

Say hello to freedom, a future blessed with phone upgrades and a well deserved kick in the ass.



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