Friday, February 02, 2007

"ABC put up what we call a 'lower third' with my name and identity. It has been a longstanding newsroom joke of mine that you are defined by whatever you were doing at the time of a news story. Hence, if you are hit by a car, you are a 'pedestrian'...Well, sure enough, I was listed as 'Steve Safran: Blogger.' There it is. The summary of my life in one word. 'Blogger.' I want to stress that, as a former TV news producer, I had this coming." Steve Safran

Congrats to Steve for being the first to crack the code, break and (with Cory) own the story on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim-Mooninites stunt. Read Steve's 15 hours of fame: my day as a media whore here. Steve's LR colleague Cory Bergman asks the right "after-action" question Any publicity is good publicity, right? Cory's post with comments here. Congrats & Bravo to Steve and Cory! Outstanding coverage. Related: Jaffe tags the "Boston mass-a-scare" as "ugly stuff" and invites your comments here. My sense is Boston, unlike the other DMAs involved, failed to put this stunt into proper perspective, crisis management thin on good judgment calls. Further, the tone of Boston's "response" leads this former reporter to question...did 819, or others involved, "spike" the stunt, after days without notice? A "concerned citizen" call to the police or some other "look at me" stuff, the kind of thing that would demand police attention? A coup de theatre gone wrong? btw, Boston Mooninites is #1 on Technorati as I post this. CNN's Boston storyline here. Boston Globe's Michael Levenson, Maria Cramer and staff write Marketing gambit exposes a wide generation gap here. UPDATE: Turner accepts blame, agrees to pay $1 million via Boston Globe's Michael Levenson, Raja Mishra and staff here

Seth Godin writes on Creativity...

"99% of the time, in my experience, the hard part about creativity isn't coming up with something no one has ever thought of before. The hard part is actually executing the thing you've thought of. The devil doesn't need an advocate. The brave need supporters, not critics."

Agree with Seth, however, getting "the thing" green lighted is increasingly difficult. While Virgil and Seth are correct - fortune favors the daring ("audentes fortuna iuvat") - the mediocre, the safe, not the daring, gets the majority of green lighting. It was ever thus. The dirty little secret is we are too often working harder to get better at executing ideas of lesser consequence. The "big idea" as defined by the legendary George Lois might be a scary, dangerous experiment. Years ago I engaged George to create a campaign for one of our New York city properties. His "big idea" was brilliant (it reached that certain threshold the great Scot Ogilvy once established: "it takes your breath away"). Knowing George had created the perfect creative solution we set the pitch meeting. As I watched George pitch his amazing idea it became evident, the suits were scared. We later went with another idea. Our boring, safe, researched creative, the one everyone agreed was "fine" and "on message" was executed perfectly...without any meaningful result. My suggestion is we added to the clutter on that one, we helped to raise the noise floor. We have all walked out of a movie theater, seen a billboard, a TV commercial, a POP and said "what were they thinking?" The average executed to perfection is, well, average. Wasn't it also Ogilvy that said you can't bore the customer into buying?

Execution is certainly critical and Seth might well be right that it's the last 99% of the job (Edison arrived at a similar finding "success being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"). However, leadership with the courage to green light the big idea, that 1%, is priceless. The right 1% remains elusive because it has risk and a measure of fight baked into it. The big ideas are out there and they win big. Perhaps the greatest recent success in wealth creation, YouTube, happened only when two young dudes all but said "copyright badges, we don't need no stinking copyright badges"...their execution was daring, messy, users posting copyrighted material created extreme exposure. Lawyers, and other grown ups would have killed their idea at any company of size on the ip issues alone. More than one critic said, before the sale, "these guys are not making money, their gonna get sued, when the copyrighted material comes down their traffic will vanish, their platform is shaky, two kids with a case of red bull could create what they have created over a weekend but it's still not a business." They were right. Nobody liked it but the users. The big idea will out!

LATER: Breaking...Viacom demands that Google pull more than 100K clips from YouTube. Staci is on the story via paidContent here