Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

books for soldiers

If you've got extra paperbacks ...

books for soldiers.


why ask why?

bBlog linked to this article recently: The power of WHY?

Let’s examine the six honest men. What, How, When, Where, Who and Why. Which one of these is the most powerful psychological movers of them all? This would be better answered with an example.

Let’s assume you needed to go to the supermarket. All the other triggers (how, when, where, who and what) would make absolutely no difference if you didn’t know ‘WHY’ you’re were headed there. Everything else would be totally irrelevant. Once you know WHY you’re doing something, everything else is just a matter of logistics. ...

Look for the ‘WHY’ in advertising and scarcity pops up instantly. All the fancy layouts and the smart headlines can’t quite compensate for the niggling question that goes unanswered. All your customers want to know is ‘Why should I choose you?’, ‘Why should I take this decision?’, ‘Why should I spend this money?,’ ‘Why should I look at your website?’, ‘Why should I read your brochure?’, ‘Why should I listen to your speech?’, ‘Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?’

That's pretty much the meat of it right there. But the article's short, so if you're so inclined, check out the rest of it.


It doesn't just happen in the movies.

Who says there's nothing good on? Mars Inc., the food distribution giant didn't seem to think so. The April issue of Fast Company reports that they've managed to save themselves millions of dollars by applying the same theories that made John Nash a famous enough guy to make a film about (that, and the fact that he was schizophrenic, but that's beside the point) to the organization of worldwide shipping networks and supply chains. Competition is the source of all good deals in a capitalist society but Mars found that their existing system of bidding transport companies to carry their goods was doing the opposite for them, resulting in higher revenue for the shipping companies at their expense. They realized that with most bidding systems, almost all of the bidding takes place within the last few hours of the offering since companies wait until the last minute just like everybody else does on sites like eBay so the cost isn't driven up higher then they want to pay to early. This is referred to by auction sites as "sniping." By configuring their system so that late bids actually extended the time allotted, they eliminated the advantages of sniping and ensure that they got the best deals from their shippers and distributers. The system actually proved so effective that they patented it and began selling it to other comapanies. Nothing like an investment that pays for itself twice; by creating an online forum where manufacturers and shippers can meet each other like a transport logistics version of Match.com, Mars not only get the best deals for itself, they make a little bit off of every transaction that goes through their system.
Sound too good to be true?
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, even if it is inspired by it.
The article is here: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/69/smartcompany.html

My name is Nathan Skreslet and I'm applying for a summer internship at Play.

Nathan A. Skreslet

If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,
then I'm a weapon of mass destruction.


3/21/2003 Joy Hunsberger
Subliminal Messages: Here to Stay?

I bought a used paperback while in college titled "Subliminal Seduction". The topic was about advertising, and how ads have secret images and messages embedded. No matter how hard I tried and squinted, it was really hard for me to see them in the examples. I figured it was just someone's stab at dismantling the industry with some hyped liquor ads. I thought that even if it ever had existed, it went out in the late 1970's, early 80's, when it started to get attention.
Much to my grave dismay, I WAS WRONG.
This past week, there was an article in "The Week" about political campaigns that use subliminal messages in their ads. It described how one campaign flashed the word "RATS" while showing their opponent. These ads actually aired, and got some protest. Again, I figured, "OK, I can believe that politicians would stoop to using subliminal advertising. But it's probably not a trend."

Not so.
Last night, (and I wish I had paid more attention, but was too upset and shocked to look at the time), I was watching television, and THERE IT WAS.
For just a split second, there was a white screen, with black writing and a red start on each side of the top of the screen. I swear the word at the top , the biggest word, was "American". I couldn't make out the other words.

Now, it is quite possible that I am wrong.
I don't know if I'd be one of those people who totally screw up the description of the suspect when giving a police report or not.
BUT, my 13-year old daughter was there too, and told me that she recently had witnessed the same thing, but with another message. Her message had only one word.
Well, thank god I talk to my kid about smoking. Thank god my kid reads the magazines in the bathroom, and also read the article on subliminal advertising, so that we ended up in a long discussion about brainwashing, advertising, and control.

When I think of creativity, even in advertising, I think of it as something positive, and it pains me to be reminded of how it can also be used for control, and for negative use. Bad ads are one thing. You can poke fun at them, and they can even, in the end, create a better buzz than some good ads, promoting the product/company, and giving us a good laugh. (see: More on wonky brand exposure methods...)
Subliminal manipulation is something completly different, and I might venture to say, "Downright Evil."


REVENGE OF THE NERDS???? While Google’s blazing success as the internet’s premiere search engine is no secret, Keith H. Hammonds gives us a glimpse of what keeps Google’s innovative fire burning in April’s issue of FAST COMPANY. The goal is simple and the belief is strong. Strive to passionately make the best product possible based on what people want and success is inevitable. Innovate by putting it out there and seeing what users think – fail if you must, but fail big and fail fast – failure defined by lack of user interest. Well, DUH! I am struck by the simplicity of these "rules for success and innovation" and realize it could be a cure if not a super-antibiotic for Big Businesses’ woes. How many times do we call "customer service" and hang up more frustrated then when we dialed? Or how about those TV ads that paint a customer service experience straight from heaven? Yeah right! We know what REALLY goes on at our favorite fast food joints or electronics superstores…it’s more like sticking a needle in your eye! Google may be a veritable Fort Knox of brain reserves and their "innovative secrets" may be their ultimate revenge. As the saying goes, "Keep it simple, stupid!" as Google laughs all the way to the bank.

My name's Grace E. and I'm applying for a summer internship at Play! :)


politics and war as brand building

I was just on the phone with Geoff, talking about the war. We found it interesting that so many of the President's comments, as well as so many of the phrases used in the description of the war are decent brands. Peoples' definitions of "brands" differ, but for right now, I'm applying the idea that a brand is the promise of value, an insight into the vision and the core values of the company (or product, or nation, or campaign), and the emotional face of the utilitarian product. The phrases that have been used in the various speeches and briefings are great taglines and great sound bites, but I think they have enough power to live beyond their current usage (although they'll be most likely associated with this military campaign).

Consider ...
• Coalition of the Willing
• Axis of Evil
• Apparatus of Terror
• Decapitation Attack

Those are pretty powerful phrases, despite (because of?) their brevity. They have rich emotional depth. They make an appeal "beyond the logical," and seek out consumers who are looking for something they can believe in.


DON'T Show Them The Money

Liz Smith, the 80 year old gossip columnist for the New York Post, reports this morning that 25 of the nation's major CEO's will be flying to a summit held by St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis. There's nothing particularly remarkable about that, right? Fly a bunch of rich CEO's down to the facility, show them what the hospital does, and then ask them to open up their checkbooks. Wrong. St. Jude's is asking that the CEO's leave their wallets at home, and instead, they want their guests to bring an open mind and ideas for the institution and how it can further research and develop new programs. Sounds kind of thief/doctor-ish to me...and a wonderful way for a deserving group (St. Jude's) to look at more stuff, and think about it harder.

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