I’m all for innovation in marketing, but IKEA might be taking it a bit far: they seem to be running the world’s first customer disloyalty campaign. They’ve threatened legal action against their most active brand fans and customer champions, in the form of IKEAHackers.net and IKEAFANS.com, in large part for using the IKEA name and marque (in the course of celebrating and praising the brand).
It’s not like those sites have only just come to light. In fact, IKEA and IKEAFANS have been working together since 2007. In return for advance product info and exclusive access/interviews, IKEAFANS provided customer feedback and data. Oh, and created and managed a massive community of IKEA fans out of sheer passion and enthusiasm. IKEAHackers, in case you don’t know, is a wonderful, crowd-sourced compendium of ingenious hacks for IKEA furniture, giving entirely new uses and personality to the BILLYs, EXPEDITs and RIBBAs of this world.
Taking legal action against one of your biggest and most popular fan sites is an error. Going after two? That points to a deeper problem. And it’s that, as we’ve said before, IKEA need to learn that you can’t have complete control over how people act online. IKEA launched Share Space in 2011, which takes the walled garden approach: use our products to be creative, in the way that we want you to, in the manner we decide. And that’s not how the online world is. Which probably explains why, in June 2014, (according to Alexa) Share Space was getting 2,200 daily visits, compared to 44,000 for IKEAFANS and 110,000 for IKEAHackers. Of course, all of those are dwarfed by IKEA.com's staggering 5.2m visits per day, which makes you wonder why they're bothering. Not least because the traffic on the two fan sites represents the most ardent, vocal, connected fans they have…so the backlash was inevitable and the subsequent backtrack over IKEAHackers was not a big shock.
What this really shows is something we’ve said for a while now: your brand is what you do, not what you say. You can make as many lovely, emotional stories about customers using your products as you like, you can give away all the free pencils in existence…but it gets cancelled out when you attack your biggest fans for short-term gain. If your words, actions and touch-points aren’t aligned, you’re in trouble.
So the less-than-radical takeout from this episode is this: if someone is celebrating your brand, if they’re building your community, encouraging participation and enabling new ways of using your products…maybe don’t try to stop them. You heard it here first.
Google Street Art Project uses Street View stills to preserve what otherwise over time fades away.
You know you’ve achieved mass awareness when your product becomes a verb (google it if you don’t believe me). The most controversial has to be ‘to photoshop’. Whether it’s creating impossible body shapes or changing the very meaning of an image, it’s a fact of modern life.
(Of course, altering imagery has been going on for centuries, whether it’s ‘forgetting’ to paint a blemish or good old-fashioned airbrushing.)
The next chapter has arrived, from Tokyo’s Foton. Live, real-time video ‘airbrushing’.
Impressive. Mildly terrifying. And a big plus one for face-to-face contact.
Luckiness - a whole new element to factor into planning
In all my professional life I have never had a meeting with a feng shui master, until this week.
Feng shui is, according to Wikipedia, “a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing the human existence with the surrounding environment.”
Our office in Hong Kong has an annual visit from a feng shui master to ensure that desks, plants, water features, mirrors and the like are positioned in the most auspicious way. People who sit in certain parts of our office that are this year facing a building that is being pulled down have been warned to not wear red (at least to the office.) For a year.
Recently when I moved the pungent flowers that were placed near my desk, I didn’t realize I was breaking the feng shui rules. They were quickly returned to their rightful spot.
And now, to have experienced sitting at a boardroom table in the presence of a feng shui master, I was blown away. We were there to discuss an installation. The man had a presence of calm and good humour. He was professional in a dapper sort of way. And he had opinions and suggestions about all sorts of things that affected creative, budget, timeline and all the things that we like to think we maintain some control over - materials, time and date of work, installation and layout.
Since no-one wants to bring bad luck unto themselves (or their clients) feng shui is something that is highly considered in this part of the world. I can’t really think of an effective come back if you are told your design is “unlucky”. It was a fascinating learning but has made me wary of moving too much around in the office without consulting a master!
But when you go to a performance, don’t expect a full house. Most of the seats will be left empty… for the ancestral ghosts.
In the heart of the West Kowloon Cultural District , the theatre is part of a festival that celebrates the Cantonese tradition of theatre and arts and crafts, on the future site of a major centre for the performing arts and visual culture.
Bamboo theatres are typically built during the Chinese Ghost Festival/Yu Lan (盂蘭), usually in July. Traditional Cantonese Opera (戲曲) performances are performed, for the viewing pleasure of beloved ghosts of the region. In a typical nod to practicality, the structures are also built for seasonal community festivals or events. In a region where bamboo is not only plentiful, but reusable and renewable, and space is often limited, the building style is a unique solution to a significant community challenge. We’ve seen stage sets and smaller theatres constructed on soccer pitches and basketball courts- they go up in a few hours, and come down even faster.
Is this the solution for our next venue-challenged project?
Sorry Kendrick, But Story-Telling Doesn’t Cut It. From, Grammy.
What do you get when the Grammy Committee snubs you multiple gold trophies?
"Culture is caught and not taught…You have to make sure that you have people around you who really understand the DNA of your business and of what you’re trying to accomplish." - Elizabeth Cutler, co-founder of SoulCycle, on what it takes to scale her NYC based company. #ItsAllAboutCulture
That beautiful twinkling flash is what happens on Twitter when Beyoncé drops an album on iTunes with no promotion, no interviews, no fanfare, no nothing. See the full visualisation here. She’s not the first to have done something like this - The XX leaked their Co-Exist album to one lucky fan and created a data visualisation as it spread across their global fan community - but this is far bolder and simpler.
Raw, big, meta, Lt Cmdr – whatever Data you’re into, the real value comes when we can turn it into information. So the trick is to know what to focus on and how to bring it to life. And if that can be done in a playful, interesting way…well, so much the better.