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 »