How to increase product trial.

Samsung Chromebook on Virgin flights.

Here’s a nice product seeding idea. Good for the airline, good for the product, good for the passenger. Win-win. I like it.

Correcting our regions’ short sightedness.

Correcting our shortsightedness

How often do you hear that a client is pitching its account after a long and successful marriage with its agency (i.e. more than 5 years)? Not very often? Because it doesn’t happen in this region. Clients here are not so loyal.

Actually it’s the psyche of the entire region. There are no loyalties except to those who appear ‘popular’ at a certain point in time. When something is a new fad (e.g. the latest hotel, the newest café, the newest trend), everyone runs to be part of it. But before you know it, the buzz inevitably runs out and people go searching for other new things to latch onto.

In the communication industry, on an individual level (apart from a handful of people who have built their media empires from the oil boom of the past decades and become sort of industry ‘icons’), a person or company can be the darling of the regional award scene one year, and hardly get a mention the next.

And how often do you hear that a project you’ve been working on for what seems like ages has been dropped, just like that? Perhaps it wasn’t well planned to start with?

Whatever the manifestation of this lack of loyalty and impromptu decisions, the reason we have arrived at this situation, I believe, is twofold:

1. Collectively we don’t have enough patience

When I started my communications career overseas, it was not rare to read headlines like ‘Reebok parts with its agency after 25 years’ or ‘Burger King parts with its agency after 15 years’. The reasons for parting was often because of a deep change in the philosophy or vision of one or both of the parties. The split was usually amicable and not really a surprise to either.

Like any good relationship, a client /agency /brand relationship strengthens and improves over time. Agencies need to be given the time it takes to truly understand and help shape a brand they are working on. And to learn from the mistakes that might happen along the way. And to follow a vision they and their client have for the brand. And to foster customer relationships.

But all too often in our region, the agency turnaround on a brand is too quick, and agencies are not treated as true partners in a relationship. They are dropped at a whim and clients find it too easy to call for a pitch or award the business to another more ‘friendly’ agency.

2. We don’t value spending time planning before building

We don’t spend time when building brands.

And brands don’t spend time building brand communities.

And clients don’t spend time building their agency or their customer relationships.

And corporations don’t spend time building their staff or their reputations.


I think there are many reasons for this lack of long term loyalty and planning culture:

Sadly, most clients have a high staff turnover, and the new team wants to work with people they are used to. So they fire the old agency and wheel in a new one.

And the region seems for many to be transient, a stop for a few years to make some money and live a life they wouldn’t ordinarily lead back home. So they don’t have any interest in long term planning and would rather implement because that’s what looks good on the CV.

Or it could be the lack of quality (qualitative) research being done by clients and agencies to truly understand the consumer in the market and their deep desires and motives. And most importantly the different cultures, deeply ingrained traditions, beliefs and habits held in the region.

And, (this might sound harsh) but I think there are many people who don’t know how to plan. And don’t know how to maintain a good relationship.

So what?

I think we are all worse off because of this lack of patience and commitment to longevity. The brand loses continuity and focus, the client loses, the customers lose and as individuals we lose the gratification that comes from seeing a brand grow and develop. The region is worse off because we lose our identity. Communication starts to feel superficial, not connected with the audience, and there is no continuity in the brand/ corporate conversation.

What do we about it? I don’t have the answers – but for a start, clients need to be educated in how to deal with their agencies and rewarded for maintaining agency relationships. They need to learn that a good agency is an asset that can help them and their brand shine.

We need to start having open, honest and transparent conversations based on mutual trust and win-win situations. Clients need to start treating agencies as partners rather than having a client vs. agency attitude. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Livingroom.

What about you? What’s your experience with your client or agency? I’d like to hear your point of view.


“This part of the world”

“I am not sure it will work in this part of the world…”

The next time I hear this comment, again, I may commit an offense.

An offense I will enjoy so much.

An offense that will relieve this built up frustration I have been accumulating for a while now.

“This part of the world’ is not a ‘location’ anymore…it has become an ‘excuse’.

An excuse for people not to push the limits of creativity…

An excuse for complacency and copycats…

An excuse to cover mediocrity…

An excuse to accept facts and stop fighting for what we believe in…

An excuse that is tagging us and our region as ‘boring followers’.

The communication world has evolved but we’re somehow stuck a decade ago.

I look around and everyone “seems” to be embracing change and preaching right left and center about the need to evolve.

And with the sudden proliferation of self-proclaimed ‘Social Media’ experts you would think this region should be at top levels of innovation.

But the reality is different.

What we are seeing beyond conventional media is copies of ideas developed abroad… years ago! Be it piano stairs, airport flash mobs, 3D mapping…and the list goes on and on.

And what worries me the most is that the culprits are so oblivious to this reality that they shamelessly brag, tag, like, share and Tweet their “original” ideas…


What went wrong?

What is stopping us from innovating?

Why aren’t we leading on big ideas?

Why are we importing rather than exporting?

Why the mediocrity?

What is stopping our creative minds to push the limits beyond comfort zones?

Is it the lack of time?

Are we too involved in day-to-day briefs and always anxious to meet deadlines?

Is it the client or the limitations he sets?

Is it the lack of expertise or knowledge?

I don’t think so. These are excuses mediocre people hide behind to cover the absence of genius.

It’s rather a ‘state of mind’ issue. This is where change needs to happen.

What we lack is continuous dreamers, researchers, untamed spirits, brave people who push boundaries and always try to understand how things work.

These days, we can afford to dream. Almost everything can be done. Technology has become so awesome that no excuses are allowed.

And this region doesn’t lack dreamers… They just lack proper guidance…and Inspiration.

In a world dominated by “dinosaurs”, how can untamed minds flourish?

Creative mentors have been around for so long now. And they’re so self absorbed in their TVCs, Prints, Lynx, Cannes, Crystals, Egos that it’s directly affecting and reshaping fresh minds.

When out of the top 10 ‘most influencers’ media persons of the year, one or two (and I owe them respect) are under 50, how do you expect an effective metamorphosis?

Dinosaurs…take a step back. It’s not about you changing or adapting anymore. Its about giving way to fresh new blood. Untamed minds. Let new ‘states of minds” flourish.

Young creatives. Look at what’s out there. Not to copy, but to get inspired.

Learn new techniques. Hang out with true Social media experts (best way to do it is online).

Challenge your clients. They will love that.

Challenge your agency. They might not love that, but keep doing it.

Be brave. Understand. Fight. Convince.

And you can do that alone. What matters is to have the right state of mind. and you don’t need ageing mentors for that.

Your audience has taken the reigns of things.

They are your judges, and they are mean.

They want to be surprised in every single possible way.

Your audience is in touch with the world. They’ve seen Piano stairs, Flashmobs and 3D mapping.

They’re difficult to impress. They want something new.

Your audience is speaking out loud. They are shaping their countries, their worlds.

She is driving.

They are doing things they never thought of doing few years back.

They are redefining ‘This part of the world”.

Respect that…

…and start doing things you never thought you could do few years back.

It’s your opportunity to turn ‘This part of the world’ from an ‘excuse to mediocrity’, to a ‘synonym of Inspiration and greatness’.

You have no excuses.

A guide to what’s influencing our world.

Here’s one that should inspire new ideas and substantiate some existing ones.


In 60 seconds

A lot of things happen around the web every 60 seconds!

A great infographic by Shanghai web designers – Will definitely come in handy to use in presentations.

Over-socialed? where does it stop?

I am relatively new to Twitter. I admit it.

But what started as an exploration, developed into a love affair…

It kept me awake at night,

Anticipating unexpected surprises,

Taking my undivided attention.

It was the first thing I woke up to and the last thing I kissed goodnight.

It made me happy.

It was love at first tweet.


Until few days back, we decided to take a long road trip to a base camp close to nowhere….

600km, 8 hours drive and 20 degrees away from Dubai.


The company,

the setting,

the scenery,

the pleasantly cold 18 degrees,

the jacket and cap feeling in the middle of ‘Summer’,

the billion stars across the pitch dark sky,

the camel spiders elegantly crawling on the walls,

the camp fire,

the laughter of the kids,

the smiles of the misses,

the ‘Russian Standard’ flowing till 5:30 am,

the break of dawn in this beautifully deserted place…

…were all so amazing that we felt so disconnected from everything else on this planet.

We hanged on to those moments you almost forgot existed!


It was so overwhelming and so fulfilling that I lost contact with the world…and forgot all means of communication…Twitter included.

Same as when you’re having a great conversation with close friends at home and time flows, then you pleasantly realize that the TV has been off for few hours, and you’re so happy about it. That same exact feeling, only much more intense.


And then, like everything great in life, it ended. We had to come back, 2 days later, each one of us to his daily ‘to do’ list (or lists in most cases).

We arrived home late at night. I checked the Ipad. clicked the Twitter icon.

I was overwhelmed to see my timeline filled with a thousand unread tweets….

I panicked…

Have I been away too long?

What happened during my absence?

What do I do?

Do I have to read them all?…But I am so tired!

Should I really?

I closed the ipad…and thought for a moment.

One word kept recurring in my mind: ’Balance’

Then it hit me.

No matter what you do, you can never catch up with all your social networks – even if you’re facing your screens for 24 hours non-stop.

Same as you were never able to watch all TV channels 24 hrs a day, few years back.

So what would really happen if you let go of few tweets, posts, updates or comments?


Worst case scenario, you will get them again a day later or god forbid…2 days later!

Does it make you outdated?

Have yesterday’s news become obsolete…so ‘passé’?

Well, news is news and it will still be ‘news’ when it reaches you, no matter when or how.

In fact, it’s not about being the first to get the news and tweet it back. There is no pride in that.

It’s more about what you will be doing with this news, how is it relevant to you and how you will use it to make a difference or improve your life.

(To you, self-proclaimed ‘Social media experts’: the fear of not being the first to retweet news is a ‘Virtual’ fear…get over it. It doesn’t make you any less interesting to follow. But not having interesting things to add on these news or use the knowledge to create new stuff/ideas is what makes you irrelevant, redundant, boring and mediocre – but that’s the subject of my next post)

Tons of ideas, posts, updates, relevant and irrelevant, hit the social networks every minute. No matter what you do, you will never be able to keep up with what’s happening.

It’s therefore important to work out your balance.

Staying tuned to your social channels trying desperately to know everything will stress you…so chill, relax, discover, tweet, post, browse, update as you go and when you can. Don’t over do it.

Important things will come to you, eventually. If not the same minute, probably the same day or maybe the same week.

If not through social channels, probably though more conventional ones, like a chat with a friend or a colleague.

A physical live conversation is healthy and recommended  from time to time…


Remember you still have your offline life…and this is where amazing stuff happens.

This is still the place for open and meaningful conversations with real smiles and beautiful winks and sometimes sad faces.

This is where the magic happens.

So next time you’re on top of a mountain, try to disconnect. It feels good.

I know I will…and next time, I’ll be leaving my phone behind.

Constant communication doesn’t necessarily mean open communication.

Saying the right things, in the right context, in the right tone.

We can all learn from this university President’s advice, “People don’t want more messages; they want more interactions. There’s no perfect memo where you can press send and get connected, or Facebook group you can join to be committed.”

Click here to read his story.

From functional, to aspirational, to meaningful economy.

How do we help people consume to achieve eudaimonia?

Carrying on from a previous post (Marketing Era’s), we are now in the era of the ‘meaningful’ economy. Our role in a meaningful economy is to help people achieve their quest for eudaimonia. In classical Greek, eudaimonia was used as a term for ‘the highest human good’, and so it became the aim of practical philosophy (including ethics and political philosophy), to consider what ‘the highest human good’ really is and how it can be achieved.

Today, it is not only philosophy which should be concerned with this subject. Governments, corporations and organisations who have a more prominent and important role in our life should be concerned with helping people achieve meaningful consumption opportunities.

Watch this interesting video about the new economy.



When Advertising flexes its muscles

As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, an Ad without an idea will never gain an audience. But, how powerful and persuasive can an Ad with an idea be?

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm?

An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in their somewhere”.

Think of it this way, ad campaigns are able to convince people in buying specific shampoo brands, or better yet, convince people in buying this car because it’s faster, or even better, still manages to convince teenagers that smoking is cool although cautioned about lung cancer on the pack itself. If ad campaigns are able to do all of this, can’t they be able to convince you in doing something bigger and more significant, let’s say, like voting for somebody else?

When Obama was running for president, his numbers were low amongst the Jewish elders (especially on the East coast). How can you change their mentality? Is a TV commercial or poster enough? Definitely not. The answer –> “The Talk”:

Several, short videos were released using (reputable) young Jewish celebrities who were able to reach out to this niche target audience and to them, such a message coming from a well known face and more importantly having the same background as them, was enough to have them convinced.

“I’m in Cincinnati visiting my Grandma”….enough said to break the barrier and catch their attention and the whole thing was done to seem as if she was giving her own opinion on a very random day.

And and yes, the numbers did go up from then on.

There is soo much to say on this topic and some of the points can be extremely sensitive, so let me end this by saying that implanting an “idea” in one’s head is a huge thing and whether it’s through the different media touch points or through news channels this is something we are exposed to in our everyday life and since we are living in a world that is very much money and power oriented, advertising (and its different forms) will always be a major influence on us.