Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

More on wonky brand exposure methods...

The Guardian, a British newspaper, did an article about a new trend in marketing and brand exposure that has gained a lot of notice over the past week with the circulation of a fake Puma ad. The ad in question is definitely interesting, definitely provocative, and offensive to some (the company has sent out a cease and desist order to websites who are showing the image). I won't post a link to ity, but MeMe First has it...Interestingly, Puma seems not to be enjoying the fake ad and the resulting publicity, but rather trying to squelch it.

The Guardian article talks about the other end of the spectrum-- how sometimes companies will spoof their own advertising and allow it to infiltrate the internet as one of those "Hey-- look at this" emails that make their way in and out of inboxes all around the world, posing as a joke, when in fact they are clever "subviral advertising" Whether the "ads" are real or not, they definitely get people thinking (and talking) about that brand.
Guardian Article: http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,7558,825255,00.html




Our favorite author, Malcolm Gladwell, has a new article out. Connecting the Dots: The paradoxes of intelligence reform. Because it's in the "Critic at Large" section, he's reviewing the book “The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the F.B.I. and C.I.A. Failed to Stop It" — so it's not as compelling as some of his other articles. But it is still a good piece. He talks about the role of intelligence systems, and how they work to make decisions that — in hidsight, make little sense — but that if looked at in real time, seem completely logical. He pulls in various stories and examples, like the 1973 Yom Kippur War, September 11th, the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Kenya, David L. Rosenhan's 1970s sociological experiment involving mental hospitals, and other elements from US military and government history throughout the 20th century. In this article, Gladwell does well what he always does well: take disparate stories, tales, and examples that seem completely unrelated ... and connect the dots.


told you so.

Not too long ago, we reported on the "extreme milk" of Raging Cow, and how we (well ... I) thought that it wasn't quite hitting the mark. In Dr Pepper/Seven Up cowed by Web plan, author John Heinzl notes: "Dr Pepper/Seven Up was hoping a novel Internet campaign would generate buzz about its new flavoured milk drink, Raging Cow. Instead, consumers are raging about the company's marketing tactics, labelling the effort "shady" and "immoral." Some are calling for a boycott of the product, just as it is being rolled out to U.S. stores." Although I wouldn't have called it "shady" or "immoral," I didn't think it was a terribly smart marketing move. Also from the article: "the campaign is part of a larger trend called roach marketing, in which companies try to disguise their come-ons as spontaneous interactions in a bid to give products credibility. But, as Dr Pepper/Seven Up is discovering, such deceptions can backfire."

Anybody heard of "roach marketing"? Neither has Google.

update: For anyone interested you can see a parody (?) at http://www.ragingplatypus.com.


REALLY Useful In The Concrete Jungle

So, I'm reading the New York Post online for my daily dose of internet gossip, and I stumble across a story saying that Bloomberg, the financial reporting firm founded by the current mayor of NYC is handing out pink plastic flamingos to the reporter or team that comes up with the “Story of the Week”. While there is no set of qualifications for what makes a story “Story of the Week”, the flamingos are being touted as a way to build pride in one’s job performance.

What a cool idea- the mental picture of crops of pink flamingos sprouting in a cubicle filled office space is entertaining enough, but what is even more interesting is the reaction to the project. People posting on blogs and websites are calling the idea “strange” and “unrelated to job performance”. What makes a pink plastic flamingo any less related to one’s job performance than getting a t-shirt with your company’s name on it, or a gift certificate to a restaurant as a reward for working hard?

I also like the dichotomy of how I imagine Bloomberg to be— frenetic, rushed, focused on getting a story that is based on numbers—with the mental image of flocks of plastic flamingos perched throughout the newsroom. A dinner at Applebee’s might make you smile for an hour or two, but pink flamingos—now THEY have longevity.


Legos aren't just for kids! (Okay, act as if you didn't know this already) I came across this website today while wandering through the internet...A guy has created his own New York City out of Legos, complete with scale versions of specific places and buildings as well as "generic" New York City walk-up apartment buildings, subway stations, streets and skyscrapers. A few things struck me: 1) his dedication to New York City and Legos, 2) That an adult is so willing to devote time and energy to Playing, (hmmm, did someone say passion?) 3) Most significantly, the interesting problems that go along with creating a mini-city, especially one that holds so much meaning for so many Americans. In April of 2001, one of the creator's friends knocked down his model of the World Trade Center, and he felt that it was necessary to withhold the pictures of the Lego devastation for over a year, citing his worries over people's reactions to seeing another fallen WTC. Here's the link:
Duct Tape Theory '02


interning at Play

We've just finished the application form for summer internships at Play. If you are (or know someone who is) a college student with any major / concentration, please get in touch and I'll send you the information and application. We're also open to internships with graduate students. Let me know if you're interested.

As an aside, there are a few spots left in the Creativity Training program in April. We've already had several people sign up through Pure Content. If you're interested in attending, e-mail charlie@lookatmorestuff.com to find out more about the program.


fact on arm's length revisited

Scientists have found a positive correlation between a child's arm length and capacity to reason. Children with longer arms have a greater capacity to reason than children with shorter arms.

Congratulations to Trenholm for discovering (or at least questioning) the correlation in the "arm's length and capacity to reason" statement. This is an example of a 'misleading association', a correlation that while still true, is not entirely accurate in describing a cause/effect relationship. A more accurate association would be a positive correlation between child's age and capacity to reason. Older children have longer arms, and (for the most part) a larger capacity to reason.

How many other misleading associations can you think of?


What makes a product creative? What distinguishes a creative product from another? How can we evaluate a creative product?
Dr. Susan Besemer, a major researcher into creative products has developed the Creative Product Semantic Scale (CPSS). Her approach to creative product evaluation concentrates on 3 Main areas: Novelty, Resolution and Elaboration/Synthesis

a - Is it original? Does it introduce a concept of "newness"?
b - Is it Transformational? To what extent will it transform/change daily life for the majority of its users?
c - Is it Germinal? Is the product going to stimulate other new or related outcomes? Do others want to copy it?

To what extent does the product do what it is intended to do? Does it work? Does it fulfill a need better than other products? Is it useful with a clear purpose? Does it have a definite value (commercial, sentimental, psychological..)?

To what extent does it "attract" you? To what extent is the product unique and noticeable? Is it stylish? Elegant? Interesting? To what extent does it possess a "WOW!" factor?

Creative products are tangible and intangible and not limited to artists, scientists, or the marketplace. They result from both individual and group efforts. It is known that on average it takes more than 50 ideas to produce one successful new product. More ideas die in the evaluation process than ever come to life. The interesting implication is that over time more and more companies are trying to deliver newer products in a shorter period of time. In effect, pushing more and more ideas through the process in an attempt to increase their number of successful products. The results are interesting. With less and less time being devoted to deliberate idea generation and pushing ideas through the selection process faster the results are products that are less original and creative. "New and Slightly Improved" is becoming the norm. The trend is towards modification and improvements of exsiting products and away from totally new product development. The CPSS and companies such as IdeaFusion can benefit inventors and corporations by helping them to examine the nature of their new product developments and examine potential customer response/demand for the product. Targeted product development that helps determine the need for innovative (totally new, rule challenging/breaking, life changing) creative product development or adaptive (significant improvements, modifications, more efficient application of rules) creative products is being sought after by more and more companies. Deliberate excellence is the hallmark of any truly creative endeavor. In what way(s) might you practice deliberate excellence?


brand zeitgeist

Lucian James (prime mover behind LucJam) has just released a brand new feature, Billboard Brands. Each week, his flying monkeys filter through the songs in the Billboard Top 20, plucking out the brand names that receive mention. He does a great job with it, finding brands that I had no idea existed (G2 jets, by Gulfstream, mentioned by Ja Rule). It's an interesting look at the brands being hyped in modern pop music. It's pretty clever ... I'm surprised nobody's done it before. Good job, Lucian.

P.S. caveat lector: Just wanted to toss out a little warning for the kiddies. Since it's pulling directly from the lyrics, the site features words of questionable taste. Just so you know.



Scientists have found a positive correlation between a child's arm length and capacity to reason. Children with longer arms have a greater capacity to reason than children with shorter arms.



Definition: Radio Frequency IDentification. Essentially, it's a means of identifynig merchandise (or other things ... library books?) by way of a small sensor embedded in the merchandise. Proponents claim that it would yield significant advances in loss prevention, shelf stocking, and general ease of purchase in stores. Naysayers fear that it will yield to central databases of our preferences and posessions. There's an interesting article (with background info) here: RFID tags: Big Brother in small packages, and a similarly-interesting conversation on the topic at MetaFilter, here.

I, for one, think RFIDs are fine. I doubt that they will lead to Minority Report-style ID-ing of consumers as they walk down the street. But we'll see.

update: From the MetaFilter conversation: "You could put transmitters/recievers around your house, then you could see a 3d map of your house with the correct location of all your [stuff]."


[3/12/2003 In the AM | Joy Hunsberger]

Look at mo' stuff." Think 'bout that shiznit harder, know what I'm sayin'?

For those of you who enjoy guilty pleasures with abandon, or are doing your Master's Thesis on the assimilation and exploitation of "urban culture", this is the link for you: Ask Snoop

If the media wasn't already "hip" enough for you, now you can read the news, including Pure Content, with the help of Snoop Dog's "shizzolator". Just plug in a URL and it translates it into... well, you'll see what I mean.
I am torn between appreciating the humor and creativity, and looking back to Blacksploitation films and hidden agendas of the 1990's record execs who controlled and launched hip-hop and rap to its current "acceptance" and popularity.
Anybody remember "Blackula" or "Vanilla Ice"?
-Know what I'm sayin'?

May also be of interest: Da Ghetto Tymz


The year was 1950, the man was J.P. Guilford and the event was the American Psychological Association's Presidential address. This is the year and the man who is widely credited with beginning the current thrust and interest in creativity. It was during his speech in 1950 when he shared his findings that for the previous 23 years only 186 of 121,000 articles dealt with the subject of creativity. Since that year many researchers began in depth investigations into characteristics and theories of creativity. During this period researchers were unable to agree upon a unifying definition of creativity. Many critics used this to put forth their belief that the entire concept of creativity was impossible to study accurately due to it's all encompassing nature.
This criticism ingnited the interest and motivation of Mel Rhodes who, in 1961, closely examined 40 different definitions of creativity in an attempt to creatie a unifying definition. He failed. However, he did discover 4 common threads in and amongst his list. The four threads are now known as the 4 P's of creativity: People, Processes, Products, Press (environmen/climate). What are the characteristics of creative people? Processes? Products? Press?


for those in the know ...

For those of you interested in memes, check out MemeFirst.


creative class

Heath Row, who's at the SXSW conference (lucky!) transcribed the speech given by Richard Florida, author of "Rise of the Creative Class." If there was any doubt, let this ut it to rest: Heath can type. Fast. He did a great job of collecting Florida's speech. Check it out.

Every single human being is creative. That's what the book says. Creativity is the great leveler. It defies race, gender, ethnicity, appearance, and sexual orientation. You can't hand creativity down to your children no matter how rich you are. If you suck at playing guitar, you suck. It comes from real live people who defy type. ... If creativity is the economic force and creativity comes from people and people are the real thing that matters, we come to the third thin. That's the role of place, of community, or region. Geographic place and community have become the essential organizing building block. Geographic place and community have supplanted the corporation. That makes our job a heck of a lot harder. We, all of us, have become stewards of the essential economic building block of the creativity age. ... It's not about recruiting families, gays, or singles. It's about having cities that have something for everyone.

There's a lot more where that came from. Thanks to Heath for sharing.


Automobiles: The Solution to Pollution...
According to Mental Floss Magazine, when the car burst onto the urban scene in the early 1900s, it was touted as the solution to pollution in the city. Why? By 1860, about half of all Americans lived in cities, and nearly all of them rode horses to work. This aggregate of equine transportation left a total of 2.5 million pounds of dung and 60,000 gallons of urine on the streets of American cities each day. Needless to say, cities smelled foul and were generally filthy. Thus, the automobile was lauded as the pollution solution. While it did virtually eliminate the chance of you stepping in horse manure as you walk through the streets a major U.S. city, the automobile has redefined pollution, rather than eliminating it.


And from the Brooklyn desk...
New Yorkers are fanatical about their city and also their little neighborhoods, which is apparent from the myriad clicked-together names of pieces and parts like Nolita and Loho. Brooklyn residents even moreso than Manhattanites it seems - a Brooklyn business called Neighborhoodies got a great idea - put your neighborhood on those popular sweatshirts that used to just say "Brooklyn." Now they say Tribeca, Park Slope, etc. My "Carroll Gardens" doesn't sound as cool as "DUMBO" or "LoHo" but I love it anyway. Maybe a newyork-kind of thing, but other cities can be the same way - like Seattle and Chicago. A great example of the increasing personalization of style, the 'hood hoodies are probaby just one of many possibilities.


[3/10/2003 10:26 am | Joy Hunsberger]
Kudos to Iceland...
Apparently, according to this week's issue of "The Week", Iceland has successfully converted to geothermal/hydrogen energy, shunning the dependancy upon oil that so many of us are cursing at the gas pumps recently. Iceland is utilizing its unique geological features (hot rock close enough to the surface) to heat water, which will create steam, and therefore energy, etc. I knew they dug holes in the sides of hills and baked bread in them by leaving them there all day, but this is by far an even better use of Iceland's heated energy resources. It is likely they will even be able to sell surplus energy. Maybe if the U.S. were located on top of a volcano, we wouldn't be waging war on Iraq right now...

who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS