If you know anything about this little blog of mine, it should come as no surprise that he had me at, “standards of granularity.” Of course, as you may already know from my previous lauding, this is because Grant McCracken is the only man on the planet who gets me.  I’ll admit that Grant’s ability to tap into my consciousness holds limited and subjective importance in the grand scheme.  I (humbly) assure you that he has far more significant insights, too. For instance, this one on the new show Harry’s Law.

Since I no longer have cable, the show automatically fails to achieve my audience in its distribution and reach – content, be damned. But that’s an insight on shifting technologies. Grant’s musing considers the shift in cultural aesthetics and presentation over time.

His words could stimulate a whole evening of discussion on cultural hegemony, the formulaic articulation of a degenerative zeitgeist, and how the push of philanthropy-in-action by the everyday hero has shifted who can and what it means to make a difference.

And..if you’re buying the wine, I’m in on the discussion.

For Grant’s insightful blog post, in entirety –> Harry’s Law: flourish or fail?

Ralph Lauren 4D Light Show

November 11, 2010

Event, spectacle + 4D.  It’s as if they’re reading my mind!  This is amazing to see from a cell phone video.  Imagine how incredible it must have been in-person.  BTW, the “4th” D was smell.

BTW, I haven’t disappeared.  I was just caught up in a 3-month kitchen + bath remodel that turned my world upside-down! I’ll get back to blogging soon.  So much has happened and so many things to consider!

EDITED TO ADD (It’s happening in NYC next Wednesday My bad…it was yesterday! Damn it!):

Ralph Lauren to Stage “4D” Visual Spectacle on Madison Avenue

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its $200-million-per-year U.S. e-commerce business and the launch of its e-commerce site in the UK, Ralph Lauren is staging a “four-dimensional” light installation on Wednesday night at its flagship locations in New York and London. Read the rest of this entry »

Yep, I got to hold the medal. (And it was more of a kick than I expected it to be!)

If you read my blog post on the Coupe de Monde of Fencing last week, you’ll understand why I’m posting the piece (link below) by Tim Morehouse. Tim is the #1 ranked men’s sabre fencer in the U.S. (14th world, I believe), two-time Olympian, and Olympic Silver Medalist (2008 Beijing, Team). His determination to open the floodgates of interest in the sport through increased public participation and branded corporate sponsorship is something I’ve been watching for about 3 years; and, it is unwavering.

Admittedly, with many years in luxury brand management, I’ve tried to do my part for the cause by alerting several of my luxebrand exec-friends to Tim’s cause – passively beating them over the head with “Hey! Watch Tim! Just sayin’…”, but budgets have been slashed. Empathetic to the difficult measures many have needed to consider during these tough economic times – laying-off several quality members of their respective teams, I’ve merely attempted to keep Tim on their radar. Even my most senior friends (EVP/SVP) are required to justify anything beyond their standard placement of marketing dollars.  IF sponsorship has been fit into the [marketing] mix, it’s mostly for the big events — like the Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic (Prince Harry offered a TON of press, of course).  I dig the situation on both sides. My goal has simply been to plant some seeds. You never know when budgets may be shifted to “try something new.” While the luxury market remains soft, recent reports are showing signs of optimism.

The dip in the luxury manufacturing was the opportunity that prompted me to shift my focus/place under the branding umbrella, moving from management + execution to brand conception, platform development + strategy. Literally, as I stepped out of the luxury scene, Tim arrived.

My part 2 of 2 blog post will go a little further into how Tim’s journey has evolved; and why, as a brand and marketing professional, it caught my attention.

Please visit Tim’s (prolific) blog to read his take:

Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic 2010: The Sport of Polo Continues to Outshine Fencing (For No Good Reason!)

So, WABC/Disney pulled its programming from Cablevision overnight. Many who know me will say, “But Sheila, you don’t watch TV. What do you care?” Well, tru dat. However, I am in media. And I am in branding. And I am in brand strategy, which means I need to know what’s happening across the board. Most important to strategy is knowing how communications are being sent and received between brands and a consumers; and these days, that communication goes both ways.

This isn’t breaking news.  Many of us have been on the Cluetrain Manifesto for a while. You’d think that corporations, owners of those major brands, would know this stuff by now.  But as WABC/Disney has shown, they’ve pulled their programming from Cablevision on one of the most viewed (read: advertising placement dollars) of the year.  If I’m a media planner, I’m going to be considering my placements in major markets and WABC/Disney’s relationships in that market. WABC/Disney set a precedent telling everyone that they’re not afraid to pull the trigger in a negotiation, even when the casualties are their own advertisers and end-consumers.

And so in honor of WABC/Disney’s gross display of antiquated operations and strategies, here are the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto:

  1. Markets are conversations.
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice. Read the rest of this entry »

(Can’t be treating my academic essays like redheaded step-children. I have to put ALL of the work on the fridge! Enjoy!)

100 years into our post-industrialized, modern existence and technology is most often reconciled in beneficial terms (“progress” and “advancement”) that can be utilized for personal or consumptive profit.  However, we often fail to recognize the impact of emergent technologies in shaping the politics of identity, as well as the sociopolitical trajectories of our habitus.  Like an awkward teenager, we have struggled through the formative rites of passage.  When performance and technology synchronized well, progress proved a momentary coup.  But we have realized in retrospect that these moments were greatly evanescent and not maintainable by the antiquated expectations of behavior we, as the audience, posit to those who perform for our idealistic benefit on an ever-amplifying stage of technological succession.  Old doctrines of information exchange must be reconsidered; instead of changing our performance in an attempt to project and reinforce an outdated and constructed ideology, we must strive for a level of maturity allowing both the active and passive participants the freedom to exchange in an authentic and trustworthy manner.

If we compare how tenets of ritual and rhetoric were the means of integrating technological systems in the mid-19th Century as suggested by the sociological observations of de Tocqueville, Veblen and Hawthorne (Marx) Read the rest of this entry »

As I was hanging out and doing my sponge-like absorption of the vibes shooting left and right from the leading-edge thinkers in this emerging culture-cum-business age at the Chief Culture Officer Boot Camp, Lane Wallace was offering up their observation that “students needed to learn how to think critically and creatively every bit as much as they needed to learn finance or accounting” via their NYTimes (02/13/10) article.

People often ask me if I’m back to school for my M.B.A. I’m usually not very good at holding back the look of “ew, no!” that shoots across my face, but I’m trying to be better about it.  I have plenty of Ivy-clad MBA’s in my circle of friends that could buy me 10-times over to remind me that not all business school types are pulseless and blank drones who suck the vibrancy from culture without concern for the aesthetic value of life experience in the name of capitalism, one spreadsheet at a time.  Yes, I’m a capitalist.  I’m a producer.  I create capital and culture.

Ironically, I will (generally) explain that I am pursuing the equivalent of a “C-MBA” (Creative Masters in Business Administration).  I’m blessed to be in a situation to cherry-pick, what I feel, is the best of the best in applied business strategy, anthropological and sociological understandings, psychological theory (from environmental and cognitive to behavior), and applied design management. However, I will walk away with an “M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies,” which based on most hierarchical classification systems in corporate America, will completely keep me off the radar of most senior/executive-level hiring opportunities — even those I would totally rock. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve found a man who understands me.  It sounds impossible, I know.  But Grant McCracken has figured me out.

Grant has been in my life for about two months, and it’s been a culturally-charged lovefest ever since (Even his wife, Pam, is gorgeous — such a charmed life, Mr. McCracken!). I crossed his path (the intersection of anthropology and economics — yes, economics. I know I just lost half of you) when I stumbled upon the new Masters of Branding program at the School of Visual Arts.  Listed as one of the guest speakers, I learned about Grant as I researched the program in detail (an excellent program — very exciting in the world of branding!).

Chief Culture Officer was released a few months ago.  The book is a celebration for us ‘both/and-ers’ in this world.
Many of us are creatives, but have an extraordinary aptitude for business.  For us, going to business school would be akin to a lobotomy.  Some of us are more structured business-types, but have an incredible interest and curiosity in culture and its influence on business.

I read it in one (lengthy) all-nighter.  I can’t use life-changing or inspiring to describe it, because that would suggest a new way of seeing the world.  Grant’s discourse on the significance of cultural reference and understanding on the future of business IS the way I see the world. Validating and optimistic is Chief Culture Officer. And yesterday was further evidence of this.  But more on that in a minute. First, a little more about Chief Culture Officer…this is the necessary future of business as Grant sees it: Read the rest of this entry »