Riding the waves


It’s been a while…apologies. But today I wanted to share a very interesting and relevant article I read in the NYT Sunday Business Section—specifically “Corner Office,” which interviews business leaders (some names you may recognize, others not) and asks them about their earliest influences, early leadership lessons, what they’re looking for when they hire and what they tell recent college grads. They are all uniformly enlightening.

Today’s piece profiled Dion Weisler, the Chief Executive, HP, Inc. And he mentioned a management technique that he finds especially useful: the three waves of innovation. It’s based on surfing (Weisler grew up in Australia). The first wave is the one you’re currently on, say, your core business. The second is the waves that are coming—which do you choose. That usually has to do with growth. And the third is “what all great surfers do…go home and pull the weather reports and figure out when the next big one is coming.” In other words, predicting trends that you can get a jump on. Or as he calls it “pure invention and category creation.”

In a sense, all creatives are surfers. The first wave is our every day work and that can be challenging enough. The waves that are coming are your dreams and goals. Which offers the greatest personal, professional, psychic growth? And then, the third wave…reinvention. We’re all on the look out for the next “big one,” the big idea that can change our world.

After all, what is creativity but another word for innovative thinking?

I am forever indebted to Dion Weisler for this powerful metaphor. I hope you are too.

photo credit: John Florence

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Truth and consequences


Like the current administration, advertisers sometimes stray into a world of alternate reality. Maybe they think we won’t recognize it for what it is (i.e. we’re gullible) or they feel the production values of their communications–beautifully and expensively rendered–will overwhelm the message. Or the messenger.

Two new spots come to mind. The first, “Go Boldly,” shows scientists doing lifesaving research against the backdrop of Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” It’s stirring, it’s inspiring and it makes you want to run out and buy pharma stocks until you realize that the sponsor of this fine ad is, in fact, America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies a.k.a. PhARMA, the wonderful people who brought you thousand-fold price increases on those very same lifesaving drugs. Just because they could. If there were a black box warning for advocacy comms like this it would say: “Use with caution. Side effects include headache, nausea, dry mouth and bankruptcy. Do your research and don’t be fooled by a name change, however anodyne it appears.”

Another wolf in sheep’s clothing appears in “Energy Tomorrow,” quick paced with great graphics demonstrating all the ways oil runs (literally) the world– from science to cosmetics, automotive engineering to art. Pretty cool, huh? Then you read the fine print and learn that the marketer who’s “powering past impossible” is none other than the American Petroleum Institute. Who knew?

There used to be retailer which claimed that “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Though the company is now defunct, the truth of that statement remains. Our world requires ever more vigilance in being informed and upholding the truth. Big Oil and Big PhARMA undoubtedly do great things, but in reality, they are not the best thing since sliced bread.

In politics, in advertising and in life, beware of the big lie.

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All the world’s a stage


And for marketers and their agencies, the Superbowl is one of the greatest. Big money, big egos, high stakes and occasionally high art.

This year, it was #SuperBowlSoPolitical. Instead of frat humor, we saw (for the most part) bigger, topical truths told with intelligence, emotion, cinematic production values and sly humor, specifically:

Coca Cola (an encore performance from 2014) and Airbnb, celebrating what already makes America great: multi-culturalism.

H&R Block. A match made in heaven–IBM Watson’s brain and your money.

Honda CRV.In true high-school yearbook fashion, the younger selves of today’s stars tell us that “dreams are within reach.”

84Lumber. An immigrant story that’s much more than meets the eye. It literally broke the Internet.

Audi takes the high road, committing itself to “equal pay for equal work.”

Persil. With Bill Nye, the science guy and ten(!) dimensions of clean.

It’sA10 warns that we’re in for “four years of awful hair” so do your part and resist with great hair of your own.

Diversity, take a bow.

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