Posts Tagged ‘Rare Chance’
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Generally speaking, there are three types of communication. The first two are:
1. That which contains important content
2. That which is presented in an engaging way
Most of the time, we seem to be on the receiving end of 1 or 2 – which means either worthy-but-dull or entertaining-but-empty.
Occasionally, these two circles overlap in a Venn diagram of communication, and bingo! Number 3 – something worthwhile meets time enjoyably spent.
Like supporters of a struggling football club, we attend conferences and meetings expecting #1 or #2, and hoping for the rare chance of #3. It’s like an away win for Lincoln City – to be savoured and remembered for a long time to come.
That’s just what Morgan Spurlock has achieved with his newly-posted TED talk.
TO PLUG OR NOT TO PLUG?
For those who don’t know, Spurlock is the Supersize Me campaigner / documentary maker who tried living on McDonald’s for 30 days. At face value, this TED video is just an indy film maker plugging his new project – and duping people like me into helping him.
I sit, gullible as charged.
Alternatively, it’s 20 minutes of inspired brilliance,that works on so many levels, with lessons for anyone who’s in marketing, in business, needs to communicate, needs to take a risk, has a left-field idea or, indeed, has a pulse:
HOW TO ENGAGE
- it’s a MASTER CLASS in presenting. Talk, text, graphics, video, humour, audience participation – an orchestra of techniques all working together, with Spurlock as soloist and conductor.
- it’s BEAUTIFULLY STRUCTURED. After a brief credentials intro, he sets up a question, then only resolves it in the final minute. And while he plays out the other subplots in between, it’s the opening teaser that holds us in. And the pay-off… well, that would be telling.
HOW TO GIVE VALUE
- it’s CONTENT-RICH. Look – I don’t care if his ultimate motive is to plug his film. He does it by giving me lots to think about. He doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence; he flatters it.
- it’s SELF-CONTAINED and valuable in-and-of-itself. We don’t have to watch his film when it’s released; he’s giving us the gist of the work in a short seminar. For free
HOW TO CHALLENGE
- it’s a CREATIVE DEMONSTRATION of his central premise: like the Masked Magician showing us how tricks are done, Spurlock also shows us how he prepared to show us. “This is how my movie got made – with or without the help of the corporate sorcerer’s and their apprentices.”
- it’s PARTICIPATIVE: unlike the Masked Magician, he eventually enlists the help of some fellow illusionists (his sponsors) to help him pull the curtain back – and in doing so, they come out with full credit. It might not win them many friends in the rest of the Magic Circle – especially their marketing agencies – but I bet it generates huge credibility with their customers (Might this be a Corporate Social Responsibility project in disguise?).
- it’s a CASE STUDY on the difficulty of genuinely thinking ‘outside of the box’. Creative agencies can be as hamstrung by their existing mental models as the rest of us. Spurlock offers them an opportunity to be involved in something different – and they hide! After you’ve finished laughing, consider what client-and– self-imposed boundaries kept them from taking the risk
SAVVY IS, AS SAVVY DOES
And that’s the most important point – we might talk about barriers coming down, social media blurring the dividing lines, new media presenting new ways to engage… but much of what’s practiced is still old wine in new bottles.
Here, I think Spurlock – by accident or design – is rewriting the rules. While there’s no doubt that some of his targets are there for ridicule ( 21st-century Wizards of Oz), there is a challenge in here which needs a business/marketing response:
As consumers grow increasingly savvy, is it better to be more transparent or more controlling? To show how the trick is done, or to find more sophisticated sleights of hand?
Or is the greatest play of all – to do both at the same time?
About Paul Rutherford
For over 25 years, Paul Rutherford has pursued two passions; working with colleagues and Clients to solve business problems, and helping others to develop themselves, both professionally and personally.
Discovering solutions to people problems
He served his apprenticeship in communication agencies, creating campaigns for Technology and Business Service blue-chip corporations.
He moved Client-side in 1992, as Director of Communications EMEA then General Manager, Corporate Sales UK for Xerox, followed by VP Systems Marketing at IBM.
Paul was subsequently Chief Marketing Officer for VC-backed Clearswift, the global leader in email security, then GM and Coach to several technology start-ups and turn-arounds.
Throughout his career, Paul has built and led teams – from two people in one office to 150 staff across 16 countries.
After five years as a main board director of EMEA Executive Search firm Beaumont Karlson, Paul now runs Optimentum, a boutique Coaching and Executive Search practice.
Married to the most patient woman on the planet, Paul is father to three children who regularly remind him that there’s more to life than business and blogging.
That being said, Paul is always open to new conversations; you can reach him via LinkedIn or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Audience Participation, Campaigner, Comms, Documentary Maker, Face Value, Film Maker, Football Club, Indy Film, Lincoln City, Morgan Spurlock, Number 3, Rare Chance, Soloist, Subplots, Supersize, Text Graphics, Two Circles, Types Of Communication, Venn Diagram, Video Humour
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