I’m not terribly well versed in political marketing, but my sense is that is the first social networking site developed by a Presidential candidate of import.

It’s not hard to understand why connecting freinds of Obama together through chat rooms and message boards would be a powerful thing.  But it will be interesting to see if the web site allows free form of ideas, or moderates posts it finds unconstructive.  For example, if two Obama supporters debate opposite sides of an Obama platform, will we all see the debate, or will it be stricken?  If sections of the Message Boards are over run by Hillary supporters, what is the protocol?

Every candidate who runs a site faces these political attacks on blog comments, and it’s never been a big deal to just keep them from beng published.  But a social network is designed around the free form of ideas and thoughts, which is counter intuitive to edits and review.  I’m interested to see the editorial decisions that get made.  

PicNik – I could play here all day

I stumbled across PicNik today and here’s a place I could end up wasting a lot of time. It immediately went into my favorite links at the right.

It’s probably an insult to call them this, but it’s essentially Photoshop for Dummies, and I mean that in a great way.  Photoshop can be a pain for simpletons like me who just want to manipulate an image in some really easy way.  PicNik probably isn’t the only photo imaging site out there, but if you need to make some tweaks to anything in your photo library, give it a whirl.

Marketing Soccer in the U.S.

The U.S. beat Mexico in a friendly tonight 2-0.  It’s an otherwise unremarkable event for a Wednesday night.

Except the George and Dragon Pub in Fremont was packed to the gills.  Univ of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona had 63,000 people – I’d say mixed pretty half and half US/Mexico fans.  And the game was on ESPN 2, not relegated to Fox Soccer or some other channel up north of Channel 400.  Again, all of this for a friendly.

So when a bunch of smart tech guys sit in a bar with hundreds of people watching an inconsequential soccer match, the conversation always comes up – How do you make a pro soccer league work here? 

I’ve purposely not commented on the Beckham signing.  There are people who get paid lots of money to run financial analyses that say that was a good idea.  There’s no mystery there.  You can’t round up 250 Million smackers from smart, global marketers with a pitch of, "I have this idea…"

So a few people on different Web sites have thrown out interesting concepts about what will make soccer work here.  This post will be continued for years, as more and more good thoughts get fleshed out.  So here are some things I’ve heard from the man on the street:

1) Investment from NBA and MLB players – Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez are soccer fans.  It’s easy to presume many others are as well.  MLS, Division 1 and Division 2 teams are well within their capabilities for financial investment.  Kobe Bryant’s Inner City Soccer Organization would bring crossover kids from basketball to soccer.  It’s arbitrage for them.  Buy a part of a team cheap, make the sport more popular, team increases in value.

2)  More regionalization –  The EPL works because every team can be reached by train.  The European Professional League would not work.  No one in Newcastle cares about  Marseilles or Hamburg.  The U.S. is just too big. MLS doesn’t need New York vs Salt Lake.  It needs Salt Lake vs LA 1,  LA 2, LA 3, LA 4, Denver, Seattle, San Fran, Oakland, San Jose, etc…You need separate regional leagues that come together in a more Champions League-like way every so often. It’s not a national TV show, it’s a regional one.

3) Become the preferred place for South American players – US Pro Soccer should not ever compete with the EPL and Serie A.  It needs to feed them.  But not with kids who play US college soccer.  We need to bring up the best young South Americans, train them in 1st class facilities, and feed them to Europe.

4)  More overlap with Mexican League – The short-term wins are with Hispanic speaking US residents and other international imports.  Continue to build the rivalries between teams like Chivas and Real Salt Lake.

5) Radical idea: Blow up the NCAA soccer programs – I heard this from a drunk.  But there’s no need for college soccer.  Loses money for the University and dilutes the talent pool.  Get the top players into these regional leagues.  They can still go to school, but not play for the school. 

6) A week of EPL games in East Coast Cities every year – It’s a fairly short flight.  Why not set a week in the EPL schedule where you put togther all the crappy non-rivalries, and ship the games to the U.S?  Try a few Spurs vs Bolton or Newcastle vs Fulham games in New York one year and just see what happens. 

Good soccer in the U.S. will happen eventually.  EPL-like soccer in the U.S. won’t.  The continuing question is how do we replicate the 63,000 fans at a friendly into some sort of consistent soccer crowd?

How Does a Creative Agency Set Itself Apart?

These days, I’m fortunate enough to work with a ton of great creative agencies. Turnstyle Studios, Don’t Blink Media, Angelvision, and PanBuilt are four that immediately come to the top of my mind. 

It’s a world with more start-ups, where more companies (and the VC’s that fund them) are demanding more work for less money from a talented team that isn’t part of the "big agency" experience.  In a world of thousands of agencies, the question is, how does one small agency stand out?uselessaccount.jpg

Well, the answer is to create compelling materials that market yourself.  And that doesn’t mean one-sheeters and direct mail pieces anymore. 

Brisbane Creative launched a funny site last week called Useless Account, in which they mock start-ups around the globe.  I found it through TechCrunch, and it’s likely Brisbane sent a link to Michael Arrington.  From a revenue perspective, they gain nothing.  In fact, the server capacity may even be an expense. 

But now you know who they are.  When you are in a meeting, you may say something like, "We need an agency as creative as Brisbane."  This is a long post to say that this we’re all trying to figure out what the "new" forms of marketing will be in the net 5 years.  But the creative agencies really should be the ones driving that.  They’ll come up with genius guerilla tactics, we’ll notice them, hire them, and we’ll want the same type of genius when we start cutting them checks.

Update: Turns out Brisbane Creative is actually a University student in Australia named Jim WhimpeyHis blog details the story of Useless Account, and pretty much makes everything I said, well useless.  He wasn’t trying to create buzz for his agency in the way I imagined, but it certainly worked out that way. 

The Search for Jim Gray Continues

This story is about a week old now, but the disappearance of computer scientist Jim Gray sparked a remarkable social collaboration led by’s Mechanical Turk. TechCrunch details the story here, so I don’t want to rob them of their deserved readers.

But the side commentary concerns the power a globally connected network can have.  It’s unlikely we’ll be able to find Mr. Gray, even with everyone looking at 5-10 satellite photos.  But this kind of application can be taken national for missing chlildren, or down to the neighborhood level for lost dogs. Using this technology, it’s really not hard to forsee us using our 5-10 minutes of goof off time to work on a complex problem with 100,000 other people.

But on this project, we hope someone finds something of note in the photographs, and Mr. Gray can be found. 

Screeniac and Screencasts

Well, it had to happen someday.  Sure HTML and Flash had gotten pretty easy.  But us Marketing folks still didn’t have a way of producing really slick multimedia shows without the help of someone creative.

Part of the design hurdle may have been cleared with Camtasia Studio from Tech Smith. I could try to explain it in a lot of words, but the keyword is "Screencast."  If you need to explain what your Web site does, or how to use anything online, or even just record a visual list of all the gifts you want someone to buy you, this piece of software does the trick. 

Best thing to do is check out an example on and click on any of her links for "Flash Demo."  She may be doing free Screencasts on products she likes as a way to market herself to companies she wants to do some work for (which would be quite ingenious).  Or she may be getting paid to do the screencasts.  Either way, look for bloggers to start using this kind of visual/audio mix as a way to bring their news to life. 

Guy Kawasaki’s Tips for Hindering Market Adoption

Guy Kawasaki published 14 ways that companies hinder their own marketing efforts.  The article offers some informative insights, and some just plain laughable things that "smart start-ups" do when they fail to see the forest for the trees.

It’s funny to think about how wrapped up some companies get in their own importance, that they fail to remember the one giant rule – No one needs you and no one knows you.  Make it easy for them to find, try and remember you. 


Shelfari is a new company I ran across recently. It looks like an interesting way to monetize your blog or web site in a visually appealing way.

The wizard is a little hard to find, but once you track it down, it’s wickedly easy to use. I use Squarespace for this web site because I have little to no code skill whatsoever, and it took about 4 seconds to insert the Shelfari Bookshelf on the page.

Of course, I need to register as an Amazon Associate to make the money part of it. It doesn’t seem clear whether I can do that through Shelfari or not. That would be ideal, but it’s not a headache they need to take on. I’m sure the Amazon signup process is easy as well.

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Carena MD

I stopped by the University of Washington CIE Program’s "Springboard" event last night.  42 interesting companies were out looking for MBA and undergraduate help in Marketing and other Business skills.  It was a well attended and well organized event, which is no surprise considering it was run by Connie Bourassa-Shaw and her team at the CIE.  if you are a small business, you should seek them out.  They really are doing great things over there.

One of the companies is run by Ralph Derrickson, and stood out for being so simply ingenious without being a tech firm.  Carena MD brings doctors to corporations.  You get your checkup, physical, any consult on site, rather than taking time out of your day to travel to your family practitioner.  It’s one of those ideas that you can’t believe hasn’t been part of daily life for years.  Anyway, find  out more from their website at

Add “Abalone Fisherman” to List of Jobs I Don’t Want

Word comes from Reuters in Australia about Eric Nerhus, the Abalone Fisherman who survived being caught headfirst in the mouth of Great White shark.

"He stated that he was head-first into the shark," a spokeswoman for Snowy Hydro SouthCare rescue service told Reuters after airlifting the diver to hospital.  When he came to us he was conscious and alert but had a broken nose and lacerations to both sides of his torso and chest — bite marks all the way around," the spokeswoman said.

Nerhus told fellow divers he didn’t see the shark coming as the water was so dirty that visibility was severely limited.

"It was black. He didn’t see it coming, but he felt the bite and then started getting shaken, and that’s when he knew he was in the mouth of the shark," said local diver Michael Mashado.

Nirhus miracuously survived because of a lead vest abalone divers wear to stay underwater, which in this case also took the brunt of the shark’s bite.  He escaped by stabbing the shark repeatedly with some tool he had in his hand.  

No word on whether Nirhus’ boss is giving a few days off, or if he plans to move to the finance and operations side of the business, where chances of being caught in the mouth of a shark decrease by about 100%.