Creativity and Creative Surroundings

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingEarlier this week, we won the Saucony business at Olson. That was a hill of fun. But last night, my wife noticed an item in the latest issue of Mpls St Paul magazine (I suppose you pronounce this periodical’s name as if the city names were not abbreviated but they are which makes me a bit insecure about saying this title aloud).

Olson was cited as the best new office space in the Twin Cities. Our offices in the Ford Center are rather awesome–loaded with manufacturing history as a vertical assembly plant built in 1913 to produce Model T’s and recently given a $42 million LEED compliant overhaul. I believe inspiring environments like ours have a direct impact on the quality of creative thinking.

Happily, I’m in good company with that notion. No less than polio-eradicator Dr. Jonas Salk credited time spent walking along columns and through cloistered courtyards at a 13th century monastery in Assisi, Italy, as critical to discovering his history-altering vaccine. Salk championed architecture’s ability to positively influence the mind, stimulate breakthroughs and encourage creativity throughout his life.

We try to do that everyday too. Particularly Friday’s. Have a good one.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Poetry Made Immediate And Accessible, Thanks to Google

I have a confession: though I graduated as an English major, I never found poetry particularly moving. Song lyrics? Sure (Josh Pyke’s “Middle of the Hill” anyone?), but classic poetry? The kind set in oddly-cadenced type bound in slim leather volumes?  Nah, not so much.

Which is why I was more than a little surprised by how fascinating I found the website Google Poetics. The notion is disarmingly simple: a sort of poem appears when you begin typing a phrase into Google’s search bar. Their algorithms create verses from predictive autocomplete suggestions based on previous searches by real people around the world. Because of this, the resulting lists of lines frequently resonate with more impact than you might expect from a clever parlor trick. After all, Google is the oracle most of us turn to when something consumes our attention. So their autocomplete suggestions spring from a deeply human repository of questions and doubts.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

Go there. Try it. See if some accidental adjacency of inputs doesn’t spark new ideas for you. It ain’t Whitman, but that might be why I actually stayed with it.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


We Live Amidst An Unprecedented Tsunami of Digital Information…Assuming You Consider Instagram Snaps of Pancakes “Information”

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingI saw an item on HuffPost last night that credited IBM for noting that humanity generates over 2.5 quintillion bytes of information every day.

If you’d like that spelled out, it’s 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Rather a lot…

All this information means that ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years.

Which really means I can close this blog post by noting “wiggling cacti are indigenous shirkers” and it won’t make a lick of difference.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

PS: For four years in the 80’s, Steve Steigman’s iconic “Blown Away” poster for Maxell Tapes hung in my dorm room. If you’re interested, you can buy it, unbastardized, here.

Before Marketers Go Nutso About Two Screens, They Should Focus On Getting One Screen Right

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonToday, more people watch television while using a tablet, laptop or mobile phone than ever before. This new behavior can create opportunity for marketers. But candidly, it’s a silly thing to prioritize right now. People watch television with two screens because they are hyper-distracted; like dopamine addicts, we can no longer sit through one distraction without searching for an even better distraction. This hardly qualifies us a message-receptive audience.

That’s why brands must start by getting their single screen messaging right. No, not their television ads; marketers must focus on their mobile presence and messages. Last week’s Black Friday sales and a recent study on mobile audiences prove how increasingly critical it is to optimize information and messaging about products for quick access on smartphone and tablet screens.

An analysis of Black Friday’s online sales by IBM showed that over sixteen percent of all online sales came through mobile platforms–an estimated 162 million dollars. Clearly, we’ve become comfortable shopping through these omnipresent devices. In fact, Black Friday’s mobile online sales rose a full sixty-five percent overt last year.

These numbers become really fascinating in the context of the latest JiWire Mobile Audience Insights Report, which among other fascinating learnings shows that more than eighty-five percent of  shoppers consult their mobile device in-store. They most frequently use them to comparison shop, but they also rely on them heavily for product reviews, coupons and general information. Some marketers want to ignore this behavior because it often results in “show rooming”: checking online information and then choosing another option, frequently while still in-store. Sure, that’s tough, but it’s an inevitable by-product of the rise of our consumer-driven economy.  But the upside for marketers savvy enough to optimize their mobile search results shows huge promise.

A smart multi-channel strategy aims to optimize your content with context. For mobile and online, that content must be persuasive recommendation and information through search optimization.

Because they do that just a short stroll away from cash registers.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

We May All Now Return To Updating Our Status With Our Daily Arcania…Or Blog Links.

If you’ve logged onto Facebook within the last week, you’ve noticed the rash of status updates that read like this:

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingIn response to the new Facebook guidelines* I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, writings, music, recordings, photographs, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above, my written consent is needed at all times!  By the present communique, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
*Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status update (Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws.).

It’s a veritable LegalZoom out there as people scramble to protect their privacy rights.  The only bummer is, they’re not. Posting this accomplishes nothing, aside from perhaps making it appear like you could teach Judge Judy a thing or two.

According to Snopes, this claim has been circulating for a few years now; what drove this meme’s resurgence among my friends this Thanksgiving is not entirely clear.

“Open capital entity” or not, Facebook can dictate whatever privacy rights they please. And historically those have amounted to:

  1. Few.
  2. None.

There are no retroactive do-overs. There is no protecting the intellectual property you post on Facebook. We all made a deal with that devil when we signed up for our free accounts.

Of course, if it’s any help, the real way Facebook wants to exploit you is not by swiping your hilarious postings about Monday mornings–they’re all about your data. Who you are, what you like, where you live–with the right algorithm, these innocuous factoids can be woven together to paint a rich portrait of who you are as a consumer and help clever advertising professionals find yet another way for you to consider purchasing their clients’ services.

Hmm…maybe that doesn’t make you feel better. Welcome to the brave new world.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson 

This Is A Hot Holiday Gift Item: An Adult Sippy-Cup

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingSeriously. Look at these things. For $15.99 (plus shipping and handling), you can order these non-spillable wine glasses.

According to some purchasers, they are a bit small. And they recommend against putting them in the dishwasher

Still, think of the possibilities. Think of the use occasions. Think of the entirely new levels of on-the-go inebriation…

Oh.  Wait…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

A Thanksgiving Fun Fact, And You Don’t Even Have To Drink A Snapple To Get It

If you have ever wondered what state produced your Thanksgiving turkey, chances are it came from right here in Minnesota.  Forty six million Thanksgiving birds come from this state annually, followed by North Carolina at 32 million and Arkansas, rounding out the top three at 30.5 million.Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

That’s a lot of sandwiches. Have a terrific Holiday.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Huzzah! This May Be Our Last Thanksgiving Tinged By Disappointment…

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingOh yes, if Forbes is to be believed, we may soon have the tremendous opportunity to enjoy organic frozen vegetables courtesy of Oprah Winfrey. Apparenty, her organization has quietly filed applications to the US Patent and Trademark Organization, for everything from organic food to health products, all Oprah-branded.

It will be interesting to see how she fares going up against the Jolly Green Giant and Birdseye in this frozen CPG battle.  Of course, those are Consumer Packaged Goods–Oprah products will be Celebrity Packaged Goods, and thus apparently superior.

So who knows?  Maybe next year, if we’re lucky, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving by passing a side of organic Oprah Okra.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

For Some Reason, I Watched The Bears On Monday Night Football Last Night

Not the whole game, just a bit. But enough to see Devin Hester return a punt by running backwards for seventeen yards. And Aldon Smith embarrass Jamarcus Webb about a half dozen times.  But I digress…

What really stuck out during that painful broadcast was this spot from Corona Beer. Generally speaking, I like this campaign. It’s long been smart and consistent and singular. Not particularly chancy, but certainly strategic.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

But somebody should have kept the client at the craft service table during this setup. Because in every one of my dozen or so viewings, this particular shot sticks out as awkwardly as a palm tree in Chicago. In the long history of beer drinking, no one has ever held a beer like this. The actor holds that bottle like it’s his shoe and he just stepped in a cow pie. It is heavy-handed and entirely false. And then the woman mirrors this silliness. I don’t care if it helps viewers read the label–no one is confused about the branding on this spot. This is just bad.

Trust your viewers to get it. Don’t insult them with pap like this. Ick.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Hostess May Become Bimbo To Save Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonIt sounds like a synopsis of a Nintendo game. Seriously, this stuff writes itself.

It’s also not particularly true. Stories like these are one of the less-productive outcomes of ‘citizen journalism’. Thanks to always on social networks, sensational notions spread very quickly based on nothing more than how talk-worthy and readily sharable they are.

If you heard this rumor, you understand why every major marketer should be cultivating their brand community. Opinion and recommendation is a whole new media platform.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson