Blog | The Brainzooming Group - Part 191 – page 191

Have you seen the 2012 Ford Focus Doug campaign? The integrated social media campaign with an orange sock puppet named Doug driving around with his “official” Ford sidekick (John), meeting and greeting prospective Ford Focus customers, verbally zinging them, and capturing it for YouTube videos?

Yes, that’s right; a smartass orange sock puppet is the spokesperson for the 2012 Ford Focus.

The campaign broke earlier this year, and Scott Monty, the head of social media for Ford Motor Company, shared several YouTube Ford Focus videos from the integrated social media campaign during his outstanding presentation at Friday’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast.

What would you do Mr. or Ms. Brand Manager?

As a brand manager, if someone came to you pitching the idea of a puppet spokesperson who, the few times he does talk about your product’s features, does so irreverently, how long would it take to stop that social media concept cold? Probably not long since a traditional marketing view suggests six glaring reasons why Focus Doug is ill conceived:

1. “The spokesperson isn’t known, and oh by the way, he’s an orange sock puppet.”

“A spokesperson should bring a great reputation, a built-in audience, and a connection to the brand.  It’s about being able to relate to the audience. An orange sock puppet, especially one with an attitude, doesn’t relate to anyone.”

EXCEPT can you say, “Tiger Woods.”

Known spokespeople bring fans along with potential indiscretions and falls from grace. An unknown, inanimate spokesperson (with no life beyond the one you give it), provides you complete control and no risk of overshadowing your product.


2. “The story isn’t linear.

“The characters are ‘introduced’ without any real setup. There’s little rhyme or reason for why only a few videos include potential buyers, sometimes the product is hardly mentioned, and it’s not even shown in others.”

EXCEPT a non-linear story line creates surprise.

It also allows for mini-serializations throughout the videos and the flexibility of introducing the variety necessary to sustain viewer interest through weekly releases and an integrated social media campaign.

3. “There are too many videos.”

“You can’t expect people to watch 40 or 50 brand videos.”

EXCEPT viewers want to come back and see more from engaging characters.

They’re not videos about the brand. The brand is simply another character surrounded by even more engaging characters. Multiple videos provide the opportunity to develop the brand character across multiple dimensions and multiple videos.


4. “The situations aren’t realistic.”

“A puppet offering free (typically poorly ending) rides, unsuccessfully using the features, and being mauled by kittens has nothing to do with selling a car.”

EXCEPT introducing a non-human spokesperson provides tremendous story flexibility.

Only having one foot in reality enables engaging story lines traditional situations can’t offer. A unique character and unusual situations can prompt an audience to sit through multiple videos, cumulatively creating a strong impression of why the product is cool.

5. “There’s so much dialogue, you can’t understand it.”

“With videos inside a moving vehicle and multiple people bantering, it’s hard to understand what’s being said. Viewers won’t even understand the minimal product messages being delivered.”

EXCEPT the challenging repartee forces attention.

The character interaction is so funny and the situations so unusual, it prompts viewers to watch the videos multiple times – in part to catch what they missed; in part to re-hear laugh lines they did hear initially.


6. “The content is PG-13 but the brand is G-rated.”

“A G-rated brand is about family, tradition, and America – not bleeped words. The spokespuppet hits on a female executive, propositions a potential buyer, and suggests a wet t-shirt contest to two young women trying the rain-triggered windshield wipers. That’s WAY off brand.”

EXCEPT when a brand’s trying to get edgier, you actually have to GET edgier.

When cultivating a new less vanilla brand perception, edginess can be essential, especially when trying to reach a younger audience. Moving from G to PG-13 with a small subset of messages the audience will see leads to the right overall message mix.

Now what do you think?

Would you pull the plug on the Ford “Focus Doug” before the campaign even started? I hope not, but decisions like that happen all the time when brand marketers are stuck in the status quo and what’s always worked – even if the traditional things are not working as well as they did before.

For Ford brand managers to move ahead with “Focus Doug” shows a true understanding that future success is different than what’s worked previously, yet not completely brand new either. Finding the right place somewhere in the middle is tricky.

But extraordinary brand managers go looking for it because they know it’s vital to a successful brand staying successful. – Mike Brown


If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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Suppose a collaborative business blog is part of  the right social media strategy for your business, but senior management has concerns about blogging. Not the kinds of concerns which make senior management demand, “Absolutely do not create a collaborative blog.” No, we’re talking passive-aggressive concerns where senior management will allow (or potentially encourage) a collaborative blog to be developed. Right before the blog goes live, however, they clamor for multiple review points on each blog post so management is comfortable nothing will happen (in every sense of the word, unfortunately).

What do you do?

How do you protect the timeliness, relevance, and personal feel a successful collaborative business blog should have from death through a thousand – okay, I’m exaggerating…make it “ten” – senior management tinkerers?

Determining the Underlying Senior Management Concerns

The first step is better understanding and narrowing in on the nature of your senior management group’s challenges. You can do this by probing on a variety of potential issues that might drive their concern. You have to find out if their concerns about a collaborative business blog stem from content which:

  • Violates confidentiality
  • Is incorrect
  • Damages customer relationships
  • Compromises professional standards
  • Is off brand for your company
  • Is personally inappropriate or objectionable
  • Could trigger regulatory or legal issues

Figure out which of these (or other issues) are the real pain points with a collaborative business blog. Additionally, determine who would need to review blog posts to relieve the pain for each area of concern.

Addressing the Underlying Issues

Based on the conversation’s outcome and the breadth of the reviewer list, one of a few possibilities will likely materialize:

  • Upon discussion, you’re able to mitigate the concerns either at the start, or perhaps after some initial “learning curve” period, OR
  • The number of people who’d need to review posts is manageable within your blogging process, OR
  • The level of review is so great it will be burdensome or even crippling to the business blogging effort

If the last bullet is where you wind up, it’s far better finding out ahead of time before launching a blog hampered by its inability to function at an appropriate social media pace.

At this point, it’s critical to get creative with alternative ideas to simplify an unwieldy process, take more comprehensive steps to ally their concerns, or in the extreme, delay or pull the plug on the collaborative blog before it becomes one of those “they started it, but it died out in about two month” blogs.

And nobody wants that.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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Along with a previous post on things I don’t understand about social networks, here are 13 personal disclosures about my behavior on Facebook, Twitter, and social networks in general. They’re not necessarily good or bad, but it felt like it was time to come clean on them.

1. My wife unfriended me on Facebook. Seriously. She doesn’t want me reading what she’s thinking about (and by “thinking about,” I mean “plotting,” and by “plotting,” I mean “already decided on and has something underway”). So her other Facebook FRIENDS tell me what’s going on in my own house.

2. The reason I don’t run a lot of videos on the blog is because I don’t like the way I look. That’s the same reason my avatar is usually a cartoon self-portrait. I’m working on this though . . . I mean my level of self-acceptance. The ship has sailed on my looks, and it’s not coming back to port any time soon.

3. Many days, my Twitter stream is more depressing than uplifting. I can’t say the same about my Facebook stream, yet. But I figure it’s just a matter of time.

4. I’m really cheap, so my smartphone isn’t the smartest. It may not even be in the top half of the class anymore.

5. I can’t remember what I used to do with the time that I now spend on social networks.

6. For as much writing as I do, it’s really challenging to consider confining myself to a few topics and keywords to maximize the value from SEO. When you’re writing daily blogs, any topic is a topic.

7. When something’s really stupid, I’ll tweet about it from an account that doesn’t have my name attached. If you don’t have such an account, I recommend you create one and have at it.

8. There are lots of reasons why I don’t follow people on Twitter. It seems like the list of reasons is growing over time. If you’re reading this, and I haven’t followed you, let me know and we’ll correct that.

9. I do persist in following certain people whose behavior on social networks continually frustrates me because it seems important to see what they’re saying.  I keep following others because the amusement level just surpasses the frustration level! For the mathematically-inclined:

If ∑ Amusement > ∑ Frustration, then @Brainzooming = Follower

10. I’ve not yet posted a question on Quora.

11. Even though I never go to the site, I do look at Empire Avenue emails to see what my daily earnings are. It’s almost always $64.13. I have no idea why this amount, how it’s arrived at, or whether any checks will ever be issued. One weekend, however, my earnings dropped in half, and in a panic, started tweeting more.

12. It’s important to me to leave trails of helpful ideas if I’m going to invest time on social networks. I expect others to do the same. And it’s always appreciated when you let me know if the ideas I’m sharing are helpful . . . or if they aren’t. Social media silence sucks, as we all know.

13. I pray for a day when social networks undergo tremendous consolidation resulting in fewer, really robust social networks to have to join and try out . . .  because I’m running out of time!

That’s my social networking confession for today. Is there any thing you’d care to share and unburden your conscience? – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at  or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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A recent Brainzooming post on positive creative thinking skills from team members led to discussion about what the opposite behaviors are – team member behaviors in a group setting that kill creative thinking. Who knows how many different examples there are of ways to deal fatal blows to creative thinking in a group setting?

From a quick mental survey of team meetings and group settings I’ve been involved with the past few years, here are eight behaviors which can kill creative thinking pretty effectively:

  • Making your first comment all about what’s not working with the situation your group is working on, especially when you don’t have any real ideas of your own about what might be successful.
  • Sharing your assumption that creativity is more complicated or expensive than doing something practical.
  • Refusing to stop talking once you have a negative head of steam going.
  • Dumping verbal napalm on other peoples’ ideas, especially if you don’t have a sense of what their ideas are or how they’re intended to work.
  • Refusing to contribute to or build on a new idea someone else has contributed because you’re only able to voice objections to it.
  • Sitting silently and looking distracted, indifferent, or non-participatory when the group is discussing creative thinking perspectives.
  • Getting up and removing yourself from a creative thinking discussion.
  • Displaying “corporate aggressive” behavior in an otherwise calm meeting setting, i.e. raising your voice, leaning forward, stomping off, etc.

If you try to foster creative thinking in group settings, what fatal blows to creative thinking from team members have you had to endure? And even more importantly, how have you dealt with them successfully?  – Mike Brown


If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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The original “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation and innovation ebook were developed when Max Utsler asked me to speak to his class at The University of Kansas on innovation perspectives in marketing communications. In many ways, that innovation presentation in 2004 started me down the career path I’ve been on ever since.

I’m back tonight with Max Utsler’s class sharing the “Taking the No Out of Innovation” presentation along with a new social media project Brainzooming is helping Max and Barrett Sydnor implement for their  fall semester classes at The University of Kansas. Dubbed “Blogapalooza” by Max, the social media project will introduce students to blogging and creating social media content in front of multiple audiences . . . but more on Blogapalooza later.

To make “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation content more accessible from among the 1,000-plus posts on the Brainzooming blog, here are the 8 innovation perspectives contained in the presentation and links to supporting content reaching back to the earliest Brainzooming posts.


Create a stronger innovation perspective by understanding your distinctive talents.


Surround yourself with a creative team that complements your distinctive talents.


Strike the right balance between using and turning off your expertise to boost creative thinking.


Borrow from any inputs you can to trigger creative ideas that you twist and shape to be your own.

Open to Possibilities

Hone your openness to what may today seem impossible or preposterous – that’s where you’ll find tomorrow’s innovation.


Collect great questions that yield creative ideas and use them all the time.

A Creator

You have to do something with ideas. Selecting the best ones and moving forward with them is central to innovation.


Innovation doesn’t necessarily come easy. When it comes to the “No” voices you’ll hear, be ready to dodge, morph, ignore, or otherwise blow them up. That takes persistence.


Mike Brown


Find New Resources to Innovate!

FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

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There was tremendous agonizing when Steve Jobs resigned from Apple and speculation of about what would happen as the company lost the great leader who had shaped the Apple brand so dramatically for so many years. In contrast to Steve Jobs, great leaders can also turn into bad leaders. A leader you’d have followed anywhere because of their confidence, strong communication skills, and self-confidence CAN lose the handle on leadership…in a major way.

Having witnessed leaders undergo this unfortunate unraveling up close, it’s worth sharing twelve ways a great leader turns into a bad leader:

  • Ignoring the characters of the people you surround yourself with and depend on for leadership.
  • Making people selections based on the “least bad” choice.
  • When another business is in trouble, loading up on its cast-off people, thinking you’re upgrading your talent.
  • Orienting your business decisions toward building your ego & personal wealth.
  • Seeking out limelight even when it distracts from what matters to your organization.
  • Overpaying for other companies out of ego, bad strategy, or a fear there won’t be anything you can buy later.
  • When the people who’ve been smart and served you well in business battles disagree with you, don’t listen.
  • Thinking a leader can afford to not solicit input and put off making the decisions everyone expects the leader to make.
  • Overstaying your welcome. (Hint: Ask other people what “over stay” means for you specifically.)
  • Going beyond the edge of your talents. (Hint: Ask other people where the “edge” is for you specifically.)
  • Not having incredible people ready to take over when you do hit the edge of your talents.
  • When the business world views you as defeated, refusing to acknowledge at least a couple of mistakes on the way out the door.

What would you add to the list of ways great leaders turn into bad leaders? – Mike Brown


If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!


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Coca-Cola has introduced a new Diet Coke can design for fall 2011, with Turner Duckworth, a design firm based in San Francisco, re-imagining the familiar Diet Coke can. The most striking element is the logo is blown up in size, making the script “D” in Diet the only letter of the major brand logo which appears fully on the can! This move with the Diet Coke brand holds both great strategic branding and creativity lessons.

5 Branding and Creativity Lessons

1. The Diet Coke logo violates the can’s physical space.

Absent the self-imposed restriction of  containing what you’re doing to the physical space available to you, all kinds of new creativity options open up. How often do we ask about how much of something we have to fill? Forget that. Fill up the creatively appropriate amount of what needs to be filled without a concern for physical space or completeness boundaries.

2. You can be bold and still hedges some bets.

For all the boldness of not including the product’s full name in the major logo treatment, Coca-Cola hedges its bets with 4 other full, albeit smaller, logos on the can. It pulls the design back from being completely edgy, but it strikes a good balance between creativity and brand imperatives. Some will claim though that hedging bets went into overkill mode with 4 other logos.

3. Incompleteness creates attention.

Since the major logo doesn’t fully display the product’s name, it creates both attention (from a new, striking design) and forces the customer to use imagination to fill in what’s missing. When you can get an aluminum can to tweak engagement, you have a winner on your hands.

4. You CAN stretch your strengths.

Coca-Cola knows it can take advantage of an iconic logo’s ability to be stretched to freshen it and create interest. When a brand element is so well known (in this case, the logo), it’s an opportunity to play against the strength and expand how people view the brand. And what applies to consumer and business brands applies to personal brands, too. It’s important though to know how much of a stretch people will accept from the brand before making a move. You want to stretch, but not break your brand.

5. Not every promotional offer is about price.

Too often, we think of a promotion (which one of my mentor’s drilled into me is “a short term change in the marketing mix”) as only focusing on price, discount, or “get more for your dollar right now” offers. If you look at any element of the marketing mix as a promotional opportunity, however, you can easily get to a short term revamp of a packaging design. Additionally, as an AdWeek article points out, Coca-Cola has also introduced a short term change in the publicity element of the marketing mix, by being a bit mysterious about how long the can change will last.


What are your thoughts about the Diet Coke can change? Is it simply interesting or do you think people will drink more Diet Coke than they would already have this fall?

To me, it’s a really smart promotion with strong banding and creativity lessons. Plus this move is a relatively easy strategy others could employ, if they’re smart about it and have strong enough logo recognition in their own market to pull it off successfully.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.


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