Start Up Blog

The future of television

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 14, 2012

I came across this terrific piece of film where the founder of Advertising Agency Wieden+KennedyDan Wieden spoke on the future of TV. He has a smart point of view on “The New TV Landscape” and the opportunities it presents in business.

Besides the fact that it is a great micro lesson, for me it’s another reminder at how terrific the world is today where we can have almost instantaneous access to the worlds great thinkers, for free. As entrepreneurs, we just need to seek it out.


It’s just the evolution of language

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 11, 2011

I was asked if I thought social media was dead, my response was that it never really was. To me  it’s just the next evolution of the human language. At first we had pointing at things and our body language to communicate. Then we had pictographs on cave walls, which evolved into the spoken word. After which the written word and the printing press arrived…..

Social media is just the wider dissemination of human communications facilitated by new technology – just like books once were a new technology. I wonder if they had some buzz word for the common book when it arrived? The fact that the tools were new and shinny prompted us to name them, put them in a definable category, when all it was (is?) was the evolution of humans talking and sharing ideas.

Is social media dead? I’m not sure, what I am sure of is that humans are social creatures and there is nothing more we enjoy than socialising in any way we can.


What’s your media philosophy?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 21, 2010

It’s easy to believe that owned and earned media (aka social media) is superior to the older paid media. We’ve been trained over the past 15 years of the GUI web to think this way. Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows my thoughts on traditional media, in that it is dying, or at the very least changing.

So what is the right media? The media that achieves the objective, within the budget constraints, and lastly fits the risk profile of the media investor.

Sure, it may be cheaper to vlog, blog and tweet ourselves to functional levels of brand awareness – especially in startup land. But it may be a smarter option to invest 1 million dollars advertising on TV if it results in 3 million dollars in revenue. I say this because I think entrepreneurs are being blinded by the zero cost nature of digital media. What we are better off embracing is an objective driven, performance based approach. This is especially true now that the lines between old and new media are blurring.

The best advice I can give is this:  ‘don’t discriminate’ – don’t even think of digital as a channel. Instead think of making connections with audiences. Sometimes this may involve traditional media, sometimes exclusively digital, and sometimes only one or the other. Instead, think in terms of ‘Human Movement’. That is, what they do, where they are and how the communicate with them. Essentially we need to integrate our thinking into how ‘they’ (the people we want to have a conversation with) move. The important caveat is that we need need to be nimble enough to develop an understanding of new media channels as they emerge.


The great media rumble

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 8, 2010

The internet has been a boon for entrepreneurs. The commerce said entrepreneurs have created has been one of connection, more than revenue with social media networks being the greatest love child of the internet age. The overwhelming majority of them are free to use, which has resulted in a dramatic power shift in the industrial media landscape. More succinctly social media is very quickly stealing eyeballs from traditional media.

While startups are busy creating the new forums which people connect and entertain themselves on, advertising and media agencies are scrambling to stake their claim on new media. It’s shaping up to be the demarcation dispute of the decade. Both parties believe that social media is rightfully theirs:

Media Agencies claim it is ‘Media’ and so their clients should engage them strategically.

Advertising Agencies claim it is ‘content driven’ and so their cleints should engage them straetgically.

What’s clear is that is isn’t about to go away and it will continue attract larger percentages of the marketing budget as time progresses. And just in case your wondering what I think about social media and who rightfully owns it, my viewpoint is very clear and is given below:

Just like any emerging technology or industry, no one rightfully owns it. It’s up for grabs. The companies (new or existing) who move into the space the quickest and add the most value will take home the trophy.


Old Spice: Campaign of the decade?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 1, 2010

Everyone loves the Old Spice campaign, how can you not, he’s on a horse! But the reasons why it is so great are probably more important than how great it really is. For anyone who has been living under a rock, the original advertisement deservedly won the Gold Lion at Cannes this year. You can watch it below:

I think we can all agree it is brilliant. The reasons are many and include the fact that the only promise is what the product will actually deliver, it pokes fun at the category norms and general communication, yet the humour and idea is inextricably linked to the product. In addition it’s one of the few product types where a global message can actually work. In general most global campaigns are obviously made for multiple markets and banal as a result. This was an exception.

The next iteration of the campaign is what put into the consideration set for campaign of the decade. The lead character in the advertising campaign AKA the ‘old spice man’ had a voice and tone which was was unique. He didn’t cannibalize the brand idea, just extend it and give it strength. The actor playing the role Isaiah Mustafa personified the brand, to the point where he could almost say anything and it would work. Knowing this the brand team and advertising agency decided to embark on a semi-live advertising campaign featuring his monologues. It involved setting up studio for a two-day session creating a series of humorous, personalized YouTube videos, with Mustafa reprising the character from the original Old Spice commercial. These were directed at members of the public and celebrities, who had asked him questions on websites such as Reddit, Facebook and Twitter.

It was so slick, so entertaining and brand extending it took a lot of convincing before I believed they were shooting it live. I even tweeted that there was no way this could be live. Just too slick. I was wrong and stoked to be wrong. What they did was set up a studio with Mustafa some props and the copy writers from the agency and they pumped out a TVC every 11 minutes, answering questions posed by key influencers on a few core social networks. Extreme trust by the brand owner Proctor & Gamble was given, which is a massive hat tip to such a large organisation embracing chaos, opportunity and potential risk. Let’s hope that other equally conservative brand stewards take the lead from P & G and let set boundaries instead of requiring approval. You can read more about how they did it here.

The proof of the success goes beyond eyeballs. Of which they generated plenty, in fact the dominance they had over the Youtube most watched page is something I’ve never seen in the 5 years Youtube has been around. They did have well over 110 million views of various executions.

But far more importantly Old Spice has doubled it’s sales since the campaign hit the web. Up 107% currently (Nielsen) though I’m not sure if much coupon or price activity is behind it, you’d have to say the campaign was the biggest driver in a category that has growth below 10% per annum.

What does this all mean?

If any old world marketers have any doubt about the power of the web as a tool should stop and consider for a few moments what has just happened here. It also tells us that old media and new media are clearly ‘better together’. And lastly, brands who want to get the best results have to let go, forget about control and understand that moderating a message will only ever dilute the results.


Alternate words

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 23, 2010

The words we use shape our behaviour. They even create bias, prejudices and potentially create a subconscious blue print for our strategic thinking. So in the spirit of solutions – I’ve list some new and better ways of saying old words.

Old word is Target. Replacement word = Audience.

A target is something we shoot at, aim for and maybe even kill. We care not for them. We care about us, and try to dominate them to bring home food for the night. An audience is a group of people we try to impress. We ask for some time on the stage (permission based), give our best performance and hope they throw flowers, not rotten tomatoes. If we do particularly well they’ll ask for an encore (supporting product to buy?) and tell their friends to come see the show.

Old word is Consumer. Replacement word = Person.

A consumer devours everything in their path. By defining people as such we subconsciously want them to mindlessly fill their life with stuff. We are not asking them to think, or consider, just act. We care not how the item bought for consumption is used and whether or not it enhances our world or theirs. It’s a production and factory mentality which is quickly becoming outdated.  A person has feelings, emotions and aspirations. We are people, while they are consumers. The ‘we’ are people mindset is far superior to the ‘they’ are consumers view. It will take us much further and we’ll go there together.

Old word is Retiree. Replacement word = Projecteer

Retiring is an industrial revolution hangover based on physical labour taking it’s toll on men an woman. We must stop and rest in our final days because we having no energy left or have become less useful (in a physical sense) to the industrial machine. It was invented because the hours people have worked since the industrial revolution is beyond what is meant for humans. A Projecteer is what will replace the concept of Retirement. In fact, retirement will diminish as passion projects and life long idea work rises. We will be projecteers with specialist skills which are valued and revered as we gain in years and experience. Our mental faculties will flourish with improvements in diet and medicine and older generations will reclaim their position at the top of the human hierarchy.

Old word is Demographic. Replacement word = Tribe.

The problem with demographics is that a teenager is no longer a teenager. A teenager is a goth, an emo, a surfer, a skater… The same can be said for any age group or geographic locator. We are no longer definable by statistical clustering. Our values and attitudes are less likely to be defined via demography, but the tribes we move in, which now very often include people from disparate backgrounds and ages. The net enabled us to find the tribes we really belong to.

Old word is Non-profit. Replacement word = Social profit.

It’s nothing short of insane to have the word non-profit associated with organisations that build positive social outcomes. The word profit isn’t exclusive to financial output. Actually the word profit comes from the latin ‘Profectus‘ meaning to ‘make progress.’ The financial element was added much later. In this sense organisations providing social progress should move quickly to communicate the social profit they are making and in doing so remove the negative connotations that come with the word ‘non’.

Smart entrepreneurs shape peoples thinking with the words they use.


A great moment in advertising

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 11, 2010

There is a Nike commercial that was shot in Kenya with Samburu tribesman speaking in their native language Maa. The slogan “Just Do It” appears when the tribesman is talking. In reality he was saying, “I don’t want these. Give me big shoes.

Espousing others

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 7, 2009

In world of media proliferation it’s becoming harder to get someone, anyone, let alone our target audience to listen. A better way than blasting our own foghorn is to espouse others. Something I’ve seen a lot of smart startups do lately is become brand advocates. That is, take a lead role in communicating, promoting and essentially spreading the love for other companies whose values we feel aligned to. It’s even better if we all move in the same entrepreneurial circles. Though it doesn’t have to be this way.

When we share great stuff other people are doing it rubs off on us. Just like proper referencing does in academia. We need to find stuff other companies are doing that we think is worth sharing. Ideas we think rock and companies with cultures we admire.

This is my current love list of other Startups & SME’s

Some of which even loosely compete with each other. This is fine in my view as often the biggest challenge we have in startup land is market development. Helping our competitors, though counter intuitive, can also benefit us. It get’s more people interested in the space, generates mainstream media coverage and can increase market size. This type of thinking would have been a sackable offense in my old consumer goods marketing days. The world has changed.

We’ve always been told it’s better to give than receive and the on-line world is the greatest exemplar of this theorem. It’s also a super way build significant brand credentials and trust. When people trust what we have to say by introducing them to other cool stuff it gives us a chance at gaining our own momentum.


How to advertise for free

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 10, 2009

The next post on startup blog will talk more about this whole ‘free advertising’ on the internet stuff: In the interim, here’s the latest episode in free advertising. Which is pretty funny.

By the way, it took 15 minutes and zero dollars and was a great deal of fun after lunch. (and yes, I am on the bike)


New York Series: Magnolia Bakery – In content is rad.

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 4, 2009

Still got a few New York stories up my sleeve.

If anyone had any doubt that mainstream media is ‘still’ the most powerful communication tool, here’s some proof. While in New York we just had to check out the famous ‘Magnolia Bakery’.


The only way I had ever heard of this infamous business was via the TV show ‘Sex in the city’. It wasn’t advertised during the program, but in content. That is, discussed during the show, part of the story. This only ever happens when we have a ‘worthy business’, something worth talking about because it is so cool.On many occasions during my stay the line to get in was all the way down the street. And the cupcakes were tremendously yummy.

And so it proves a few things:

  1. Mainstream media ain’t dead yet.
  2. In content is way more powerful than paid for advertising
  3. Only ‘cool’ stuff ever gets talked about.

Startups,  go make some cool stuff.



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