Archive › Marketing

Would you give me permission to read your mind?

After finishing graduate school I was looking for a job and in the meantime freelanced. I was an internet strategy consultant. I was designing websites primarily for nonprofit organizations.

Well into a relationship with a client, I was called to come to a meeting with the chair of their board where an outside vendor was going to make a sales pitch for some new web technology.

The pitch: Their technology would read the minds of website visitors.

No, really, I’m not joking.

They said they could read the minds of people visiting the website and, based on realtime information, would deliver the exact content and experience the website visitor desired.

They would know when the visitor was bored and new information needed to appear on the page.

And, they would be able to tell what kind of information, too. They could tell when a sports fan would want to hear a sound file of the cheering of the crowd roar from their speakers.

Throughout this whole presentation, it was difficult not to burst out laughing.

With Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing fresh in my educated mind, I thought of the privacy concerns: “Does the customer opt-in to the company reading your mind and thoughts?”

In an innocent Columbo-esque way, I asked such a thing. The answer was that of course the customer would be okay with it because it brings them pleasure and satisfies them in their experience.

Would it be okay? Really?

“And if my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only.” -Bob Dylan.

I don’t think so.

The last people (maybe) who consumers will want to have reading their minds are companies trying to sell them something.

When the vendors had left, I expressed my outrageous skepticism. I sent the company’s ink to some people I went to graduate school with and we had a good laugh. That evening at home, I browsed the company’s website. The product demonstration was full of lovely stock photos of nature scenes, rainbows, and animals. Eventually music loaded.

I walked away from my computer and had forgotten to close the browser window. Upon my return the message on the screen had changed:

“Since you’ve enjoyed this page so much and have been studying it so carefully, here are some links we think you’ll like.”

I was just thinking about how great the sandwich I had eaten was.

Comments ( 0 )

My All-Time Favorite Super Bowl Ad

OK, I’ll admit it.  I didn’t watch the Super Bowl this year.  Even, though I was pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I didn’t have a horse in this race so it wasn’t must see TV.  I didn’t even watch it for the ads.

Instead, I attended Elemental Theatre’s production of Dec-A-Go-Go in Providence, RI and spent the evening talking shop with their Artistic Director (and old friend), Alexander Platt.

All that being said, I thought I would mark the occasion with my favorite Super Bowl advertisement of all time.

Apple’s legendary Macintosh launch ad, directed by Ridley Scott.

Comments ( 0 )

New Repertory Theatre 20th Anniversary Video

Recently New Repertory Theatre (where I worked from 2003 through 2006) posted the documentary video that I had worked on during June 2005.  The video was played before the 20th Anniversary Gala, which also was the theatre community’s first opportunity to see a performance in the Charles Mosesian Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown.

After the video, the audience was treated to a spectacular concert version of New Rep’s award-winning production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It was a fitting celebration for a company that has had a meteoric rise from the small church space in Newton Highlands to a resident company at performing arts center.

Creating this documentary for such an important event was a particularly exciting opportunity.  New Rep partnered with NewTV (Newton Community Access Television) and I had a great time working with then recent high school graduate, Josh Woolf, who was an expert in video production.  Josh’s expertise in knowing nearly everything about the equipment (all mine was a few years out of date) helped us tell New Rep’s compelling story. Josh’s technical experience and my background and knowledge of theatre, a desire to learn more about New Rep, and experience conducting interviews helped us capture some wonderful moments.  It was a great experience in storytelling.  Josh has since gone onto study at Emerson and has worked on a few films as a production assistant.

The interviews took us to New York City to talk to Founding Artistic Director, Larry Lane, and around the greater Boston area to interview other founding members, board members, and Rick Lombardo, the Producing Artistic Director who recently announced he would be leaving to assume the same role at San Jose Rep.

While at Antioch College, Bob Devine, the then-President and Professor of Communications, once said that all Antiochians inevitably work on or create a documentary.  As community members, we recognize there are important stories that must be told.  At that moment in time, I was a student of theatre and psychology, and I didn’t envisioned myself working on any types of documentaries.

I was wrong.

After working on the New Repertory Theatre 20th Anniversary Video, I understood what Bob meant.  When a staff member has the time and freedom to research and present a history of an organization, they are able to fully become part of a tradition.  They understand the context of their daily work in the bigger picture.  The history, as it did for New Rep, illustrated the broader contribution of many different people over an extended period of time that made the theatre what it is today.

When documenting a growing cultural organization like New Rep at a historic moment of moving to a new performing arts space, you begin to learn what it takes to be successful.  You learn about the diverse group of people, each with their own, opinions and personality quirks.  You also learn how each one of these people has contributed to the success and sustainability of the organization.  Above all, what you discover is that through the difference, they are all working together towards a singular, mission-based vision for the organization.

It is a commitment to success.

The stories of the hard work, sacrifice, and commitment that build cultural organizations and institutions into essential parts of life must be told.  They serve as a constant reminder of what is important in our communities and how, if we don’t support them, the can disappear.

“Insist that we support science and the arts, especially the arts. They have nothing to do with the actual defense of our country — they just make our country worth defending.” - Ken Burns

Comments ( 0 )