Top 10 things going on at Traction

1. Never miss a word.

2. ForceField site get 69% conversion rate!

3. The largetst retailer in the world is our newest client.

4. We're pitching a major car company (no hints here!)

5. Adobe featured Traction is a case study on what the agency of the future looks like.

6. Jon hung up the Christmas lights

7. San Francisco Business Times put Traction on it's list of the top agencies in San Francsico

8. The Financial Times in featuring Traction in an article on social networking.

9. Rumors that Greg Kalifornia may resurface at our holiday party

10. Process, process, process.


SF Examiner

The SF Examiner profiled me today. Woo hoo. I'm famous.

6 Ways Agencies will Adapt

This was on a blog post at influxinsights.com. Johan Bloom from Ad Age spoke at their conference last week and identified 6 ways agencies will have to adapt to be more relevant to client needs in the next few years.


2. Develop Ideas that have PR in mind.

3. Help clients take a STAND.


5. Help them become more RESPONSIBLE

6. Get PAID for the value of their ideas.

I thought this was a pretty good list.


Small world wide web 2.0...

I'm running into a ridiculous number of people in the lobby at this conference. Not sure if lobby networking is the next big thing or if this is some kind of a reflection on the kind of people I hang out with.

One of those non-badge carrying folks was a friend from the good old days, Richard Jalichandro. He became the CEO of Technorati a couple weeks ago. Woo-hoo, Richard! Nice friggin' work. Maybe the people I hang out with ain't so bad after all.

John Stewart is free!

The CEO of Viacom, Phillippe Dauman is on stage. Viacom has released all of the content ever from the Daily Show online.

This is a very un-entertaining man. It's amazing to think that he's one of the most powerful men in entertainment in the entire world. Yawn...

Web 2.1?

Listening in for "the buzz" at the Web 2.0 Summit here. A couple things I'm hearing a lot about are:

widgetization - clearly Adobe is going to capitalize this with AIR, but the idea that your web apps should be portable is full-on across the board.

open APIs - this is kind of a no-brainer with the prevalence of Facebook platform (they asked the room how many people were involved in some way with a Facebook app when Zuck was on stage and about 70% of the people in the room raised their hand!). Speakers who are not opening their platforms were being chided onstage by their interviewers (Meg Whitman from eBay for example).

presence - the concept of presence is on a lot of lips. This is what Twitter is all about. People microblogging their every move online. This sounds like a flash in the plan to grown-ups, but AOL and Microsoft are talking about it and so are a lot people here. Going to be in the Wired/Tired/Expired column soon.

Facebook - did I mention Facebook?

Facebook as a Platform

Watching a panel of guys from companies that have been successful on Facebook. Really psyched about this b/c Traction is developing programs and applications for two clients right now.

Representatives from FoodFight, iLike and a few others are up there.

Food Fight guy: the reason Food Fight is successful is because people are able to do things that they can't do in real life. Like throw a peanut butter sandwich at you.

iLike guy: A lot of the apps are "light-hearted" and fun, but this doesn't mean that's how things will be. The platform is only 4 months old.

Slide guy: 60-70% of Facebook users have a Slide app on their profile! Their first batch of apps was a failure, so they went back and created new ones based on what they learned users wanted. Note to self: Study this model.

Food Fight guy: If legacy big businesses don't let go of their website models and jump in to theses social network platforms, they're going to be let behind.

RockYou guy: within each locale there is one social network that dominates. In some that will be Facebook, in others it will be different ones.

Steve Ballmer on stage at Web 2.0 Summit

I'm at the Web 2.0 Summit right now. Sadly, the continental breakfast was closed at the Palace hotel and the woman guarding the coffeepot was a bulldog, so I'm blogging sans caffeine.

Watching Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) being interviewed by John Battelle on stage right now. He's actually a really funny guy (considering he's the leader of the evil empire). John asked him if he thought MSN Search was the bastard stepchild (paraphrasing, of course) and Steve looked like a crazed maniac raving and giggling through a bit about how he saw it as he 3 year old prodigy that was playing basketball with the 12 year olds. John will be cleaning spit off his glasses after the interview, I'm sure.

Anyhow, looking forward to Meg Whitman from eBay next. Saw Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, the CEO of Nokia whose name I can't remember and Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe yesterday. I'll log back on and write some more about that stuff later.


where are we going...

Thinking out loud about what makes us different:

There's a new breed of digital consumer out there: They're the Millenials, the generation that has come of age since 2000 (the largest generation this country has ever seen and the first to have grown up with technology as a native to their life); the "omnivores," who consume technology voraciously and are active participants in the collaborative economy; and the businesses that see technological innovation as key to success in the new collaborative economy.

Traction was an interactive shop from the start. For a dozen years, we've thinking about how to build and nurture online communities, how to extend interactions beyond the "digital barrier," how to integrate online and offline communications and, yes, how to get people to "click here."

So, we see things differently.

To us, interactive doesn't equate to "the web" because the mindset of this new digital consumer doesn't change when they close their browser. They react to interactivity—online and offline. There is a constant flow of new technology changing the marketing landscape. We understand the implications of new vehicles intuitively. At the core of this all are interactions that connect and reconnect with today's new digital consumer. We design these interactions.


Third Life

Just checked out this link to a blog post on alternatives to Second Life. Great overview of online virtual worlds that are emerging out there:



The results are in!

The results of the Polk Village tag line contest are in. Our colorful neighborhood as a new T-shirt to wear. Or bear.

The proud winner: our illustrious roommate, Jo Ann Pacho, of SubTraction Creative Staffing. Following this honor, Jo Ann will now be sourcing herself out as a freelance copywriter.

Here is the winner and runner's up and other entries (number of votes in parentheses). There were definitely some running themes that began to emerge. Can you find them? (NOTE: if you find vulgarity or profanity unpleasant or offensive, please stop reading now. Please.)

The winner:
Polk Village. Don't look down, just keep walking. (8)

1st runner up:
Polk Village. A nice place to shit in the city. (5)

2nd runner up:
Polk Village. Urban blight never looked so good. (4)

Polk Village. A pig in a Polk is more than just a dude in a camisole. I mean it includes that, but it could also be like bacon or something. (3-1/2)
Polk Village. An ass-load of fun. (3)
Polk Village. That's not gentrification, that's a MAN! (3)
Polk Village. Where the loin gets polked. (3)

Polk Village. Because Nob Hill is full. (2)
Polk Village. The Flavor of San Francisco. (2)
Polk Village. Dude, not dude... (2)
Polk Village. A Tenderloin boy in a Nob Hill dress. (2)
Polk Village. Please curb your ho. (1)
Polk Village. When it rains, it makes its own gravy. (1)
Polk Village. Walk. Talk. Polk. (1)
Polk Village. Go to your happy place. (1)
Polk Village. Surprisingly filling. (1)

Polk Village. Home to divas and a bar called Divas
Polk Village. Rock out with your cock out. Literally.
Polk Village. Everything you want. And a few things you don't.
Polk Village. Open to interpretation.
Polk Village. Yes, that is a penis on your prostitute.
Polk Village. At least there's good food.
Polk Village. (Hacienda del Polk was taken)
Polk Village. More bars in more places.
Polk Village. Gentrify or die.
Polk Village. Panhandler's paradise.
Polk Village. A whole new twist.
Polk Village. Woe the humanity. Whoa! The humanity.
Polk Village. Where the locals go global.
Polk Village. We're Number Two.

And my personal favorite:

Polk Village. Because it takes a village to raise a strung-out transexual prostitute.


A new era - a new neighborhood - a new contest

Just one more day until Traction's latest creative contest has a winner! I can't wait. I'll post all entries when we have a winner. Here are the rules emailed out to the team:

I don't know if you guys noticed, but apparently our dear neighborhood has been re-branded—and nobody consulted with us! What we so lovingly have referred to as the Tender Nob is now being labeled Polk Village with banners all over Polk Street. We also have a tag line:

Polk Village. A great place to live, work, shop.

As the pre-eminent advertising creative agency of Polk Village, I think we should have say. Therefore, we are having a contest to write the new Polk Village tag line. A $50 gift certificate to Bev-Mo goes to the winner. The rules:

Each entrant can submit a MAXIMUM of three tag lines. You must decide what the best lines are.
Please tape your entries to the big wall under the stairs.
- all entries should be printed 1 to an 8-1/2x11 page, landscape, centered, helvetica bold 30 pt font
- you must adhere to these standards or your entry will be disqualified.
- write your name in pencil on the back of the entry. Again, 3 entries MAX
- each member of the Traction community (this is a web 2.0 world we live in) can initial their top 3 favorite entries
- if you initial 4, none of your favorites will count in the voting
- you may not change an initial once it has been affixed to an entry, so take your time voting, but also get your entries in early
- the entry with the most votes at 4:00pm on the nose on June 29 wins the $50 gift certificate.
- "Polk Village. It's Tranny-riffic!" is already taken.

PEANUT GALLERY AMENDMENT: If you have a problem or issue with the rules of this contest—shut the fuck up, start your own contest and then you can make the rules. Theo.



So, practicalunderpants.com seems to be a hit. Had a meeting today with a potential old client that might become a new client again. He said he thought it was really, really funny. So, that's good.

What a crazy week. In the midst of developing a launch communications plan for one of our clients, we had new business presentations with Walmart.com, Genius.com, Adobe—and I'm flying to NY on Sunday because we're finalists to do a campaign for AOL Gold Rush. Woo hoo. Think good thoughts.



Livescribe goes live...

Haven't blogged in a while. Hard to find the time. Traction has been off the hook busy. We launched livescribe.com today timed with their company launch at Walt Mossberg's D5 conference. Lots of work for them coming up. They have such an amazing product. It's a smart pen that synchs audio with the written word so you can later recall what was said when you wrote something simply by tapping the paper you wrote it on. Basically, you'll never have to worry about missing a word again.

By the way, if you're reading this and you haven't checked out practicalunderpants.com, where the hell have you been? Brands and underwear. Very scientific stuff.

I just got back from an alumni luncheon at Google. First, I've got to say the sushi... just ok. I did get a very cool Google Maps notebook with a renticular cover that zooms in from outer space to their campus. I'm going to stick it in a drawer with my Yahoo Big Web Surfer t-shirt from 1998. This was a very nostalgic day for me, actually. My first (full-time) web gig was at SGI and Google has taken over their campus in Mountainview. I've come full circle. The talk was titled "The Consumer Takes Control: The Unbundling of Content and Advertising in the Web 2.0 World" given by David Fischer, who graduated 2 years after me. He's now VP of Online Sales and Operations.

Preso in a nutshell = advertising is completely changing and here's why:
1. democratization of tools of production
2. falling cost of storage
3. increased broadband penetration.

Google, of course there to pick up the pieces. Dave skirted around a question about Doubleclick but left it at Google currently solves the direct response part of the ad equation for marketers. D.C. does very well with branding, the other part. Put this together with Google buying aQuantive, the company that owns Avenue A/Razorfish and you've got a pretty clear picture of where the G-monster is going with this. Anyone who creates mediocre online creative is going to be marginalized in the coming years.

Speaking of Google, someone (I don't know who) at Google recommended Traction to someone else at AOL who called and might hire us to run a campaign for them this summer. Ok, bye.


animation process

Went to a really interesesting alumni event last night. The first speaker was Rob Cook, VP of Advanced Technology at Pixar. He gave an overview of Pixar's animation process that I want to see impact how we approach our animation process for interactive projects. Pixar starts with a script and then pencils out storyboards. So far, just like us. Then they go into the studio and do a voiceover session. What they do next however, is really interesting. It's an extra step, but saves an enormous amount of time later. They have an editorial version where they sync the VO to scans of the handdrawn pencils. This lets them review the story flow (which we would do with our clients) before animation ever begins. What this will do for us is reduce the number of changes we see once we start animating—drastically. Then they design keyframes, lay them out, animate and render. A pick-up session in the voiceover studio may be inevitable this way, but that's relatively cheap compared to making major story flow changes once production has begun.


My other blog is famous

An article I wrote just got published in BtoB magazine:

Visit ‘Browser blur,’ and why you need to focus on it.

If you have any comments, visit my other blog: browserblur.wordpress.com

Better research

Picked up a copy of Business Week while I spent an hour waiting for a doctor's appointment this morning. It was from a few months back. The cover story was about Crispin Porter and talked about their work with VW. At Traction, we've been doing some soul-searching about what makes us different (and hopefully better) than other agencies. One of the things we've zero'ed in on is our approach to research.

Some of the tactics we've used include "wine-and-cheese focus groups" in our office or a cafe (no double-paned mirrors) and one-on-ones in people's comfortable home environments. Last week we were doing some digging into a college-age target, so we went to Cal with a pocketful of fives and walked around campus asking people for "5 minutes for $5." We also did in store observational studies when we did package design for Plantronics last year. Same type of thing when we were doing research for a potential line of products that were going to be marketed in convenience stores.

Anyhow, it was refreshing to see that Cripsin uses unconventional methods for digging up consumer insights as well. When VW parked the account with them, they needed to get work out the door in 2 months. They did 24 one-on-ones with customers, but first gave them a homework assignment: make a collage out of magazine clippings representing a VW owner and another representing people who own Japanese competitor cars.

I'm also reading IDEO's book on innovation. They're really big on "anthropological" studies of human factors. Similar to our team sitting in Best Buy watching people interact with electronics on store shelves to create the ideal in-store brand experience for Plantronics. IDEO also does "unfocus groups" where they mix grandmas, CEOs and teenagers to get a broad swath of opinions on something.

Nice to see that companies I respect have the same basic philosophy. Just because something is typically done one way, doesn't mean it's the right way to do it.


watching trends...

I just was looking at a survey taken of marketers who recently went through an agency review. When asked what "area of marketing communications you are most interested in at present?", the #1 answer was "brand experience/experiential marketing" at 53%. This beat "buzz and word-of-mouth (31%) and even topped online marketing (47%). Food for thought.