Archive for New Norm | Protest [Occupy]

MPI World Education Congress 2014 | Closing General Session

The Closing General Session at MPI World Education Congress 2014 featured Scott Schenker, the General Manager, Events and Production Studio at Microsoft and Founder of Janus Dialogs.

Scott believes there is magic in discovery and innovation. However the process of innovating is not magical – it comes from observing what others are doing, tapping the collective imaginations of empowered and engaged individuals, and embracing the fringe for new norms.

Developing a habit of appreciating, understanding, and being energized by these new norms – rather than fearing or dismissing them – has been one of Scott’s key to success in the Events industry.

Scott will share insights on how he approaches innovation, searches for new ideas, and “borrows” them from completely different industries to introduce them into the events he and his team organize. He will explore the four reasons for, and the four types of, innovation as well as the importance of looking at social, political, and economic realms, and the bright and shiny technical innovations.


Think Global, Act Local, Be Personal



The world is not only getting smaller, it’s getting more personal.

Look to retail – consumers are taking a more pro-active role than ever before. “Cash Mobs” are the latest intersection of local, personal, social, and retail. This twist on “flash mobs” brings together a group to one store to support the community by buying local.

Activities like this are as much about highlighting and activating the buyer’s power in the transaction as they are about supporting local merchants.

Yet despite the overwhelming pressures on physical retail, some major brands such as Tiffany, Apple, Lululemon Athletica, and Microsoft are expanding their physical retail networks with great results. How are they succeeding in the environment of empowered buyers where organizations such as Best Buy are not? How are they viewed as “local” while being part of a global network?

The book The Experience Economy laid this out years ago: the differentiators of esthetics, education, escapism, and entertainment can transform a transactional retail environment into a desired experience.

These differentiators need to be focused on the individual. Vocational training, once thought for “dumb kids or the supposed misfits” is experiencing a revival. Focusing on something of personal interest, and with a hands on approach, can increase interest and therefore attention.

SAP began moving from SAP centric presentations to audience centric conversations several years ago at its SAPPHIRE NOW program. The micro forums (unstructured 30 minute conversations around one topic with no slides or presenter) have quickly become as popular as the theater sessions due to their personal relevance and interaction.

Successful retailers focus on the individual with personal shoppers, training, and experiences at – and away from – the store. And it doesn’t hurt that the products themselves are very personal, from “sleep number beds” at Select Comfort stores, to clothing, jewelry, and computers.

Another significant element of these retail experiences/outlets is the staff. They are the brand – not the retail distributors’ brand, but the product brand. Their excitement, the personal interaction, and the relationship translates back to the product. An informed, exciting, and energetic Apple or Tiffany or Lululemon retail employee makes the product exciting and desirable.

It is not surprising then to see some corporate retail outlets exceeding $1,000/sq. ft. in annual sales while larger retailers such as Wal-Mart average a few hundred.

Proprietary experiences and events are like these corporate retail outlets. They offer the opportunity for distinctly different, and uniquely managed experiences that a 3rd party tradeshow or “big box” event doesn’t.

Equally important, they allow for personal experiences between the product and the consumer or buyer and an immersive brand environment and experience. Apple has over 1,000,000 visitors each day at their stores – think of this as 1,000,000 attendees each day at their experience marketing events.

Does your experience marketing offer the right level of personalization and draw this level of engagement? Could it?


Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.



Event Marketing Summit Presentation



In early May of 2012 I presented at the Event Marketing Summit 5 trends facing the Experience Marketing industry. That presentation is embedded below.



Some additional notes related to this presentation:


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The Means Justify the Means | Occupy Occupies Occupy

More than a tongue twister, it’s a brain twister as well.

Back in November, members of Occupy Seattle opposed to the “power dynamics created by a speaker on stage” occupies and disrupted an Occupy Seattle Town Hall. The Town Hall was designed to bring some direction and clarity to the movement. Instead, it was infected (or effected) by its own tactics.

Recently, at a large conference, a flash mob appeared and performed in the registration hall. When asked after who it was for and what its message was, most present didn’t know. The video produced for YouTube was from so far away, and the sound so bad, the message was mostly lost.

Some see Occupy as an innovative company, others see it as a loose group of individuals with separate and at times competing purposes. When one of the underlying aspects of a community is to allow everyone to participate, it can be much easier at times to share tactics than purpose.

But this is a dangerous course to take.

Yes, everyone is different and may well have a different message, opinion, or take on the subject. But this increases the need for clarity of objective and purpose at an event or experience marketing program. Tactic should vary, objective shouldn’t.

The means should justify the ends.

Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

The answer to the protest marketing question


It took a week to learn that the “protest” that took place at the Apple store in australia was not from Samsung, nor a real protest as some thought, but a marketing stunt from RIM.

Yes RIM. How anyone would know is hard to say, other than their recent press release.

While the rules of marketing are indeed changing daily, it’s fair to say one important rule is to mention your brand, product, drop a hint, or leave a bread crumb.

The fact that RIM left their name off the protest is interesting in a couple ways.

First, it certainly increased the perception that the protest was real, thought finding this many people who felt this strongly against Apple is a bit hard to believe with Apple’s recent success and growth. (Over 50% of homes in the US now own at least one Apple device.)

Hard to believe, but not impossible.

How would the same protest and message have been received if they were in front of a Samsung store, or for that matter a RIM store. It can be difficult raising doubt about a stronger brand in such a “public” way.

There have certainly been real protests aimed at Apple for things such as the treatment of their employees at the time of new product releases, how green they are(n’t), and the issues at Foxconn. But in those cases, the message and messenger were clear and up front.

Secondly, it raises the question of the true objective – promote RIM or Apple. I’m not suggesting RIM wanted to promote Apple, but only Apple, (and Samsung who is also a RIM competitor) got any press or awareness out of the experience until now.

If the intent was to raise doubt about Apple or their products, a deeper conversation was certainly needed on differences in product features, price, brand attributes, or something.

The message “wake up”, (implying Apple buyers were missing out on something, being tricked, or not getting their money worth), seems the most ironic aspect. If anyone was missing out, being tricked, or not getting their money worth – it was RIM.

Chances are an agency (internal or external) was involved in the strategy, creation, or at the least implementation of the protest.

Would you take the assignment? What advise would you give? What do you think?


Protest the New Marketing?

Interesting article on a flashmob outside an Apple store in Australia. Samsung denies, but is this a form of Protest Marketing, User Generated Content, or both?




New Norm | Protest [“Occupy”]

It has become socially acceptable to be antisocial. Protest is now the norm; we celebrate disruption – and a just cause.

The Arab Spring started December 18th, 2010 and resulted in political and cultural change in 17+ Arab countries. While certainly not socially “accepted’ by those in power, they none the less became the norm for regime and government change in that region.

Nine months later The Occupy Wall Street movement became an open platform with economic, political, and social drivers helping to fuel the movement’s goal of social equality.

Don’t take my word for it, ask Time Magazine whose Time Magazine person of the year 2011 is the protestor. The cover image has been altered — it’s not an Arab woman as you might think – but a woman from LA.

This emboldening of the masses, and the power they (truly) can bring, has spread to other issues, sometimes not even as clear as those of Occupy Wall Street.

In August 2011 street violence erupted in London after a local man was shot dead by the police. In February 2012 at Mobile World Congress/Barcelona: students protesting education cuts overtook the plaza entrance disrupting an event that hosted 67,000 people from 205 countries.

Why disrupt an event like Mobile World Congress? Because, to quote Willie Sutton, “that’s where the money is.”

Events are the result of a large investment by one or more groups, they have a “built-in audience”, they are easy to interrupt, and depending on the subject of the protest, can be the direct target of the message.

Protests are certainly not new, nor do they always need to come in the form of a large crowd. Michael Moore in the late 90’s and early 2000’s camped out in Las Vegas outside ballrooms doing research for his film about the healthcare industry. He wanted to find out how much money was being spent on cocktail parties and room drops.

The healthcare industry responded by eliminating company logos from all event signage so as to NOT attract attention, and disallowing camera recording at off-site events. Candid modules being shot were cancelled, all footage confiscated by corporate security post event, and erased from editors’ hard drives.

Another sign this is a new norm – software designed to manage and organize in “anti-social” ways. SUKEY is a web app designed to keep people safe, mobile and informed during demonstrations. It features crowd-sourced updates from twitter and other online and offline sources to provide users with a timely overview of what is going on at a demonstration. Includes a map view, compass view and the ability to send reports and updates through the app itself. “Fleeing riot police on foot? Now there’s an app for that.

In London, organizers used BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to get the word out because it supports private messages to your entire address book free. Mike Butcher, digital advisor to the mayor of London, called BBM the thug’s Gutenberg press.”1

Economic, political and social factors were drivers in London, Barcelona, NYC, and the Middle East, but what about the stakeholders and audience at your marketing program or event. Is the high-level guest speaker booked for your event beloved by everyone universally? Would anyone have any reason to target (or interrupt) your program?

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

Whether it’s as simple as hecklers you anticipate or an underground movement – be prepared. For corporate marketing programs and events, there are five internal and external groups to ensure you are aligned with in advance.

  • Travel | how do you move all stakeholders in case of protest
  • Legal | what are your rights and options should something occur
  • Public Relations | what you say is as important as what you do
  • Human Resources | one of the stakeholders is your own co-workers, are there policies, training, or procedures in place?
  • Crisis Management | More than security, this team can focus on all aspects (including security) of the situation.

What are you doing?