Categories
Communication ENGLISH

THAT is how Onassis fans best

In one of it’s versions, the joke involves Aristotle Onassis on his honeymoon with Jackie deep in Africa.  Night after night Onassis cannot satisfy his new wife in bed as a large negro swings a large fan to cool them.  Eventually Onassis asks the servant to try his luck with his bride while he holds the fan.  Afterwards he asks Jackie:  “Was that better, my love?” to which she responds extremely positively.  Onassis turns to the negro and declares: “See?  THAT is how you need to fan to get results!”

Some time ago I wrote a summary of all the reasons a televisual show about technology is a tough nut to crack.  And then a few days ago I got asked again whether I would be interested in doing a TV show.  As I mulled the question over in my head I wondered:  where did all those ideas about new TV shows go?  Have I just lost interest?  Is the fact that I don’t watch any television affecting my motivation?  Is TV, that same medium that I so enjoyed producing for, suddenly dead inside me?

And then last night I watched episode six of The Pacific.  (My summary of how war film and television shows have developed is here.)  The Pacific started out as pretty bad television really, confused in its targets and only of interest to veterans and their kin for historical purposes.  At the end of episode five, the producers kicked in with the sort of power that Saving Private Ryan had.  Big time.  But that isn’t what interested me so much at this point.  (Though I did make a point of keeping those ten minutes to show my eldest son as an educational tool.)

It was the ecosystem build around the Pacific.  Starting with the great HBO official site.  Click here for a sample relating to this week.  There’s maps, there’s storyboards, there’s books, audio books, veterans, discussions…it is easy to say “well, they did all the work, why not show it?” but this is pretty stellar work.  Not in terms of web presentation or community building online but in pulling together the related work.  It pushes the related issues up in my agenda.  Even if I didn’t have a thing about the second world war I would get interested in learning about all these strange sounding little islands and the related battles.  Heck I even watched the Alister Grierson film about Kokoda in Papua New Guinea!  (Warning: if you are not Australian, make sure you get a version with subtitles, I missed half the story trying to figure out what they were talking about!)  The ecosystem of information around an old war on the other side of the planet seventy years ago increased the relevance of the show to me.  I always like to talks about “hooks” in any marketing concept and this is like a wall of velcro!

It is no profound statement that television is no longer the main attraction.  The interesting part of media production and consumption is now precisely the integration of all available media and products.  Firstly to become part of the consumers’ lives.  And secondly in order to make some money, one way or another, from the whole exercise.  More and more television is a loss leader, supporting or promoting other revenue streams.  This may even be true in terms of it’s reason for existing.  You might do a television programme these days simply to get your hands on enough video material to support a web concept.

Wow, writing a blog really does help you think.  I am now bursting to the seams with new ideas about TV shows.   All I need is a team of people producing interesting content and side products and I will stride in to enjoy myself. 

THAT is how you fan your bride Aristotle!

Categories
ENGLISH Society

Tolstoy and the Greek War of financial Independence

“War and Peace” is monumental in the way it helped create the myth of the united Russian people.  Despite its size it glosses over and completely avoids going historically where the narrative would be in conflict.  Important battles aren’t even mentioned and the massive diplomatic effort to keep the armies fed isn’t present.  The two years that follow what is in the massive book are far more interesting as the incredibly disciplined Russian army entered Leipzig and Paris backed by superior intelligence and diplomacy.  However a Tolstoy is exactly what Greece needs now, not a loan.

It was the amount proposed as aid that got me thinking.  Sure the zeroes at the end of it are dizzying and in many ways an awesome show of EuroFinanceFirePower.  But it seems that it is just enough to keep Greece ticking until just before the next national elections.  Makes sense you could say.  Get your shop in order and you get more help, Mr Papandreou.  No giving it all away to gain favours like your Dad was so good at doing.

And then there is the matter of financing risk spread.  How involved are European banks in Greek debt?  Hard to tell but if you average out the guesstimates it seems that the amount the European Union is proposing to lend is just a bit less that it would cost their banks if Greece defaulted, a lot of which are practically national affairs.  And of course if Portugal, Spain or any other similar economy went down not even the EU or World Bank could muster enough cash.

So let Greece crash please.  We need to face up to the debt and restructure it like so many other countries have succesfully navigated these past decades.  It will do us good.  During the War of Independence against the Turks, the spirit of teamwork was incredible.  Same at the start of the second world War.  People singing in the streets for joy and working together, putting aside differences and just working to a common goal.  Both those wars then had a bleak period of infighting and turmoil as “normality” settled in.  We need to shake off “normality” not invite it right now.

We need to face up to the facts.  This is war.  We need to rally up to the common cause instead of digging our heads in a hole.  And if the politicians can’t write a book as good as “War and Peace” we need inspiring figureheads to do as good a job as possible.  This article is in English because it is not my fellow Greeks that need to read it; fellow Europeans, please take the moral high road.  Don’t chicken out and use Greece as a delay mechanism for sorting out the real structural problems Europe faces.  The EU can survive Greece’s economy crashing but if we let the threat dehabilitate us, world financial markets will just keep playing the EuroZone like this forever.  Like wolves isolating stragglers in a herd of deer, it will never end.  Restructuring debt isn’t the end of the world.  Sure Argentina got ugly, but Belize, Uruguay and even Jamaica did very civilized jobs of it.  The work of people like Lee Buchheit(download an excellent paper on the topic here) shows us exactly how the alternative would work.  Sure, there is no way to exit the european union but just as we stopped using the drachma, we could reinstate it as an inbetween phase to recovery.  And if anyone wants an inspiring story of a people rising from the ashes in tough times, follow Wilma Mankiller’s story as she fought an urban war to get Cherokee people proud again on their terms.

One way or another, in five years Greece should be able to stabilize things.  But if we build crutches into the core of a newly born Europe now, the whole idea of a truly united Europe will not be able to recover for decades.  It wasn’t the Russian winter that beat Napoleon, that is just a convenient myth, like all the myths about ancient Greek superiority we keep on the backburner in Greece as an excuse not to actually work.

I am kidding of course.  Greece has major liquidity issues, bank structural problems and an unhealthy reliance on the public sector which is completely corrupt.   We need the loans but it would be great if we could organize ourselves to actually make the necessary changes without feeling some “foreigners” forced us to make them.   If Greece is forced to make these changes too fast, a whole nation will struggle to transform itself so fast.   We have no Tolstoy and no Churchill to lead and inspire us and the social connections in the country aren’t strong enough to keep it together while we mature.

 

Like a lot of important writers, Leo Tolstoy was excommunicated by the Russian (Greek Orthodox) church.  The day after this was announced students and workers paraded in his honour.  So if Fitch wants to grade Greek bonds BBB- (just above saying it is toilet paper!) I say let’s take to the streets in celebration too; if this bunch of people really puts minds and hearts to it, we can and should get great stuff done!

Categories
Business ENGLISH Technology

Why on earth did you leave CRM implementation to the IT department?

I was talking to the CEO of a market leading services company recently.  He was trying to entice me to get involved, I was trying to avoid telling him too bluntly that the cosy family-style management he had lived with all these years was about to crash completely.  We skirted about the issues.

“With your sort of market position, it sounds like you could really do magic with a good CRM” I suggested.  “Oh yeah, we bought one of those last year…I think the IT guys are doing it.”

Here’s what I propose:  go get some social scientists to do it instead.  Anthropologists would be great, sociologists if they are not too wishy washy.  Because focusing on the customer should no longer be the domain even of the traditional marketing department.

Marketing has always been squashed between a sales department gung ho attitude and some magical creative juice produced on demand to impress.  Throw a CRM project their way and yes, they will do a better job than IT for sure.  But is that what we need these days?

What sort of salary is your customer living on?  Where is she living?  How on earth do you expect to relate to someone so different unless you have developed the methodological toolset?  This does sound a lot like anthropology, because this is what you need to do.  I would willingly have one of my fingers chopped off for access to Facebook, VISA or Google customer data.  Not that I wouldn’t miss playing the guitar, but the social scientist in me would be in heaven.  It is not about finding shortcuts to selling to them.  It is about understanding how they think and how they feel.

You can do a lot of this without losing any fingers.  Work a different position in your company.  Dress up and play a different role on any sidewalk.  Talk to strangers.  But companies need to be a bit more systematic about this effort.  And what the social sciences have learned over the past half century is an invaluable starting point.  Call him a CCO or whatever you want, but someone near the top of the organisation has to want to understand customers and to add value to their lives.  It isn’t just market research or R&D that has to come under this position, but it is a good place to start.   Any customer facing function needs to be rethought with this hat on.  And in a position to get things done about it. 

Because the customer isn’t going to wait around for you to get it right much longer.