Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Helvetica Bold is not a concept."

Steve Cosmopulos said that.

I had the pleasure of getting to know him a few years ago when he was a judge for the DC Addys and I was the judging chair. Steve came in early, and Karen our buddy Terry Coveny and I spent the day with him. Fascinating guy. One of the founders of Hill, Holliday Cosmpoulos (now Hill, Holliday).

Anyway, Steve made the statement above as he was distinguishing between execution and ideas - something we all need to understand and keep in mind. It's a distinction that is surprisingly often lost. Especially on television.

I'll revise that statement a bit for today. Twitter is not a concept. Neither is Facebook.

They are potential effective media tools, but they don't replace the idea, I don't think. The way I see it, Facebook and Twitter (and FourSquare, Gowalla and Yonkly and the rest) may or may not be elements of a comprehensive media strategy. And should be. But it always disturbs me when people start to talk about a Facebook page or a YouTube video before they even have any real brand strategy in mind. Or creative concept. You know, "Don't know what we'll say about ourselves or why, by by God we're going to say it on Twitter."

Alan Wolk, who writes the Toad Stool, a great blog on new media, had a post a few weeks ago that included this (relevant, I think) passage:

"Zappos (to use an easy example) is 'good' at social media because they have really amazing customer service. Not the other way around. That's why people talk about them - because they're impressed with the customer service, not because Zappos has a cool page with all their Twitter streams."

Just a couple of years ago, we used to hear from people that they were going to put their entire ad budget into the web. They usually didn't have any good reason for that except that it was new and (they thought) relatively cheap. To me, that's exactly like deciding before you decide anything else that you're going to focus on Facebook or put your entire budget into radio. Or print.

In Helvetica Bold.

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