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posted by Michael Powelson Jun 17,2015 @ 02:27PM

More Things That Happen Less

American Pharoah vs. The United States of On Demand

Pharoah

 Victor Espinoza said he knew coming out of the first turn.

 Knew that the hiccup at the gate wouldn’t matter. That the previous 37 years didn’t either. And that American Pharoah would dictate the terms of the next mile-and-a-quarter, fending off all comers with strides that seemed to stretch the lengths of Cadillacs.

 It would take a bit longer for the rest of us to know. But soon we too understood just how transcendent two-and-a-half minutes of flapping silk can be.  Still, as the afterglow smoldered into something more contemplative, many of us came to a different conclusion. Consciously or not, we began to register that the previous 37 years did matter, and that they mattered a great deal.

 On the Monday following the first triple crown since 1978, sports writers and cultural columnists noted just how rare it was to see a unanimous, uncomplicated joy spread from the grandstand, over the airwaves, and into the digital zeitgeist. Blogs dissected the event. Newsfeeds echoed the homestretch replay. And friends-of-friends who wouldn’t know groom from gelding high-fived in the comments sections. A collective fascination had taken hold. One that certainly had something to do with a remarkable animal accomplishing one of the most difficult feats in sports. But one that had everything to do with the 37 years since it happened last.

 In his reliably brilliant way, Charles Pierce used a Grantland column to point out that it wasn’t as much the collection, but the content of those years that struck us so.

 This was something that hadn’t happened since before the Internet, before the Macintosh and the iPod, before companies merged and banks swelled, and before instant communications and the marketing thereof. The thrill was vestigial, at least by the standards of our age of perpetual motion. That’s what kept it pure. That was what kept it free. It was people and it was a horse, both genuine creatures from different parts of creation, beyond naming rights and copyrights, an easier place before brands.

“…an easier place before brands.” As a creative director, I’ll be chewing on that one for a while. Maybe because it’s hard to swallow. But maybe because I like the way it tastes.

 Like everything along the continuum of arts and sciences, I believe marketing can illuminate the human condition. Unlike those other disciplines, however, it has a pitiful track record of doing so. Far too often we are bludgeoned with advertising that stokes our lesser impulses of greed, insecurity, and intellectual laziness. Far too seldom are we enlightened by messages that invoke the better angels — charm, vulnerability, empathy, wit.

 This is why I‘m still savoring the marrow in the bone Pierce picked. We could be doing so much better in this industry. A lighter touch. A kinder eye. A broader focus on what makes us human instead of only what makes us act. The gap between what branding is and what branding could be is immense. Which makes the challenge of narrowing it irresistible.

 And it’s certainly not just branding. It’s technology and culture and the unprecedented acceleration of their love affair. Since 1978, we’ve learned to engineer gratification in ways no one who watched Affirmed win the last triple crown could have imagined. We are now the United States of On Demand.

 Money ball. Free two-day shipping. The complete new season of your favorite show in a single evening.

 These are hardly signs of the apocalypse. And anyone who pretends to not live in an age of unparalleled potential is kidding themselves. But it’s equally delusional to deny that the more you engineer gratification, the less gratifying it becomes.

 I suspect that this is what you really heard when Pharoah rounded the final turn, and the grandstand erupted, and 22 million of the rest of us hollered at our screens like lunatics sprung fresh from the booby hatch. This is what echoed on the blogs and in the replays:  A collective exultation for something that couldn’t be dictated.  Something that wasn’t engineered or even earned, but simply, and most importantly, waited for.

 In a world where I’ve become conditioned to binge watch and put all my chips on the black of big data, I’m increasingly grateful for those truly special, rarest of happenings. The ones that none of us, nor all of us, could ever will into being.

 So along with all the consumer-empowering innovations sure to keep coming down the pike, I’m now hoping for more things that happen less.

 I'm not quite sure what that hope means for brands and the media they use to communicate. But I promise to keep chewing on it.

posted by Julie Turner Jun 10,2015 @ 11:56AM

The Language of Emoji

Image by Ji Lee/NY TimesOne of the greatest things about Riggs Partners’ Account Manager Courtney Melendez is not her ability to save every dog on the planet (although she is trying). It’s not her role in the #porchpants revolution or her dashing husband, Mario.

Courtney speaks emoji. I mean complex thoughts and sentences that are entirely understandable and often quite funny. She is one of many people who have embraced the smiley world of emoji with two fist bumps and a raise the roof.

A Short History

Emoji — the 800+ array of emotive keyboard characters that pepper Facebook, texts, Instagram comments — are officially everywhere. Even in our closets.

While emoji have been doing their thing since the late 90s, they began to steamroll Paleozoic words and emoticons when they were introduced on iOS in 2011 and Android in 2013. The brainchild of Shigetaka Kurita, emoji began their crawl from the interwebs shortly following the After Dark Toaster Screensaver Era and enjoyed widespread use in Japanese mobile and texting before showing up in fonts such as Wingdings. Emoji became part of Unicode Standard in 2010 and, since then, have wormed their way into almost half of comments and captions on Instagram alone.

The Lord of Emoji Land

If you’re like me, you’ve never woken up in the middle of the night wondering why we have pizza and chicken leg emoji, but curiously lack a taco emoji. It’s because of the Unicode Consortium, a group that oversees how text is coded into computer-readable language.

In addition to announcing the 38 new emoji that’ll be coming in 2016, the UC recently overhauled the process of how new emoji are born. The new standards mean that Taco Bell’s marketing efforts may just land the planet the taco emoji we all deserve.

Poop or Chocolate Ice Cream?

Thanks to their visual nature, emoji can do what text cannot: show sentiment. Having a party? Perhaps the frosty beer mug or a hip swinging salsa dancer lady. Seeing too many snake photos on your Facebook timeline? Tap out a bug-eyed surprise face.

To find out what emoji use reveals, we can turn to the emerging science of emojiology. SwiftKey’s Emoji Report dug deep into their cloud vaults to analyze more than a billion emoji used by speakers of 16 languages around the world. Here are a few things they found:

  • The French use four times as many heart emoji than other languages, and it’s the only language for which a “smiley” is not #1
  • Americans lead for a random assortment of emoji and categories, including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat and female-oriented emoji.
  • Around the world, traditional emoji faces are the most frequently used. Primary stalwarts happy faces and sad faces lead the pack but are closely followed by hearts, hand gesture and romantic emoji.

The Bottom Line

While all of this is as interesting and vital as, say, a VHS emoji, the report does reveal that emoji users in all languages tend to use more positive emoji (70%) than negative (15%).

How do I, who grew up without computers, cellphones and Internet, know that emoji have migrated from fad to a foundational means of communication? It’s not my friend Courtney, but my six- and ten-year-old sons.

Every now and again, these two people (who do not have smartphones or even phones for that matter) want to vicariously communicate via a mom-generated Facebook comment, text or Instagram. It’s not the words chosen or even the platform used that’s their greatest concern. It’s that mom gets the almighty emoji right.

Holy Home Alone cat emoji, Batman.

 

 

For more emoji fun, have a look-see at the Twitter emoji tracker. If you need to write a whitepaper, hotfoot it over to the emoji two-parter from Instagram, which is loaded with very smart actual information.

 

billion+_ebook

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By the numbers

youtube is 2nd largest search engine