Thursday, December 10, 2009

CultureLab Trend Summit

Last Saturday, on December 5, 2009, CultureLab held its first annual Trends Summit where we brought in talented thinkers to pontificate on what they thought was going to be monumental in 2010. We were thrilled to have academics, social media strategists, culture guru's and art and technology college students from UTD in the mix.

CultureLab likes to keep it fresh so we brought a little innovation to the summit by having Fahamu Pecou and Michael Hastings-Black to Skype in from Atlanta and Brooklyn respectively, we also tweeted throughout the event from @clabcreative, #2010 Trends. Last year we did something similar for Saatchi NY and their General Mills client but this year, we thought we would do it for CultureLab's own learning and development.

It was clear that the economy, the dearth of jobs, and mobile OS development are going to be HUGE shapers of things to come as it relates to young people and consumer behavior. The word "broken" kept coming up but it was used in the context of out of brokeness good things can come, "a genesis of revolution" so to speak. Also one other striking statement made during the conference by Katy Alonzo who is a social media researcher was that "technology is ripping us apart, not bringing us together". She really made us think differently about polarization that is facilitated by technology.

Stay tuned for our Top 2010 Trends to Look for which will be published in early January. We also shot video of the summit which will be available for viewing by 12/28. A big thanks goes out to our sponsors: 7-11, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Waxpoetics, and Frank 151.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Black Men Under The Radar

Today, we are very honored to have our first guest blogger, the legendary researcher/ethnographer, Pepper Miller of the Hunter-Miller Group in Chicago, She has given us a thought provoking take about the view of Black men as typically shown in the media and how fair and authentic representation of them rarely takes place. We are grateful to Pepper, and welcome your feedback on her post.

Clayton and LaNise Ollarvia’s Atlanta wedding was wonderful. She was the classic beautiful bride and he the handsome groom. The bridal party was striking and the parents proud and tearful at times.

What captured my attention and became the impetus for this post, was the constant conversations taking place from every corner of the wedding reception about Clayton’s groomsmen. Heard at the tables, the bar -- even in the restroom, guests were buzzing about the young men’s charm, intelligence and wit. Importantly, many surmised –unaided by this researcher-- that the groomsmen’s behavior was not uncommon and therefore questioned why more positive stories and images of Black men aren’t seen in the media.

The National Urban League’s annual State of Black America Report typically paints a truthful, but often dismal picture about the current situation and outlook of Black America and particularly Black men.

While this information is not inaccurate, the National Urban League and many service organizations typically rely on the harsh realities of Black America to secure grants and funding for social service programs that are sorely needed and appreciated in Black communities across the nation. I am not, by any means, implying that these social service reports are not welcomed or valued--they are. However, there is another side. It’s the story about Black America and Black men that often does not get told.

In general, Black men tend to be younger (29.5 v.35.4) and as a segment, has been growing three times the rate of the white males. Although educational attainment fluctuates, more are recognizing and embracing education as a means for overcoming societal barriers and advancing oneself. In fact, from 1976-2004, Black male college graduates doubled. Additionally, Black men are taking more responsibility for their families; two parent families increased at nearly double the US rate from the last Census. Many also have assumed significant roles in business, politics, sports entertainment and other areas. Additionally, The Black America Study identifies one of its eleven segments as “Black Onliners". This segments includes a majority of Black men who are 97% online, educated, moderate income earners, have a majority of Black friends and respond favorably to targeted Black advertising.

Often copied is Black men’s invaluable influence on global culture. Think: swagger, language, music, fashion and being early adaptors of technology. Importantly, Black men are the arbiters of cool. They don’t own it, but interestingly, they are the only group that looks to each other, and not to others, to determine what is hip and cool-- and the world follows.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ghettoization of Online Social Networks

For about a year now, CultureLab has been telling our clients and followers that there is a growing class divide online with social network choice. It was one of the key points I made at this years YPulse Youth Marketing Panel on Marketing to Multicultural Gen Y'ers back in June. Yesterday, CNN reported the statistics around this growing trend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Swagger Paris at NYC Fashion Week

Check out what's shakin' at NYC Fashion Week:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Millennials and Financial Fitness

According to a recent research study conducted by Charles Schwab, 71% of 23-28 year olds polled said they are extremely concerned about the U.S.’s economic future. More than half, 53%, were very concerned about their personal financial future. Needless to say, the economy is extremely challenged right now and the job market is very, very bad.

For Millennials the severity of the economic downturn has been a discombobulating experience, especially in light of the fact that our generation's identity has been shaped during the height of American consumption and excess. So what is going to happen now? Are there tools out there to help us navigate this new economic reality and help us plan for our increasingly cloudy financial future?

One of CultureLab's Clients, EDS Credit Union, contracted us to develop programming and outreach that would help attract younger members to their Credit Union while helping them to become more aware of the importance of financial planning and financial fitness. As a consequence we came up with It is our hope that this is step one to more companies and financial institutions being more sensitive to the needs of our generation. Check it out, let us know what you think, and please feel free to tell us how we can make it stronger.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Financial Help for Young Professionals

If you need help with your finances check out

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CultureLab has won Honorable Mention for the ADCOLOR Innovator Award

It was announced today that CultureLab's founders, Philip Moore and Kevin Walker won Honorable Mention for the 2009 ADCOLOR Innovator of the Year Award.

With more entries than ever before it is indeed an honor to be among the crème de la crème of the ad industry. Philip and Kevin were also the ONLY honorees from a small agency to be recognized. Check out the list of all honorees at: Also to know more about the ADCOLOR Awards check out :

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chicago Movements

Recently, our intern and Chicago based blogger, Devin Walker, interviewed a brotha by the name of Krabby who happens to be the manager/proprietor of hot streetwear/sneaker boutique, St. Alfred in Wicker Park. Chicago is coming up in the game in its streetwear and sneaker options and St. Alfred is leading the way.

Mr. TasTees Visual Mix Tape — "A Crazy Trip In Chicago" from Anthony Esquivel on Vimeo.

We learned alot about what's happening in the CHI by talking with Krabby:

Q1: I understand STA is apart of Kicks/HI what is it about Chicago style or just Chicago in general that made Chicago the first place to open a store on the mainland rather than NY or LA?

A1: The city didn't have something like this whereas LA and NY had places like it already. When we opened up in 2005, we weren't the first but there wasn't anything like this here.

Q2: If this boutique had to have a motto what would it be?

A2: Saint's rise above…..

Q3: How has the Chicago Style of dress changed over this decade?

A3: It's become more embracing of skate culture like SB's DC, but what has changed is that there is more acceptance of different styles. Before, if a shoe wasn't a AF1 or Jordan it was called a fake AF1 or Jordan.

Q4: How do you see the state of Chicago fashion moving in the coming years?

A4: It will continue to spread from the old norm thanks to people like Kanye and Lupe. Kanye has the reach in the urban community and the larger mainstream commercial aspect of America to be a influence in both.

Q5: With the economy's current state, what do you think would be the X factor for a store such as this one to get new clientele?

A5: A good product is what's key. Some people are still buying the high end merchandising, but you must have competitive prices and uniqueness.

Q: How has the connection of local artist and local hip hop boutiques helped both industries in their fields here in Chicago?

A6: Promotions for the city, and use anything that cross connects them is a good thing for the city.

Q7: How do you think social media sites such as Facebook and Myspace helped spread the buzz about STA?

A7: Facebook and Myspace are just other forms of communication but word of mouth is the best way to communicate ideas, and Facebook mimics that.

Q8: Chicago neighborhoods are known for having there own unique styles, some industrial, others residential, how do you guys think Wicker Park has influenced this establishment and how do you see the impact that STA has had on Wicker Park?

A8: It hasn't been affected by Wicker Park but we have seen Wicker Park change, it has been another case of gentrification but in a new way. Instead of it being racial it is age based, more young people in their 20's and 30's and married young people as well.

Q:9 So what are the hot styles for this summer
Shoes? Pants? Shirts? Accessories?

A9: Now its a euro style for the shoes, also Vans, Converses and also it is hip to wear new start up companies products, in all parts of your wardrobe.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CLab Hot Spot

Check out our latest video blog to find out about the next big trends!

cLab HOT spot 2 from Philip Moore on Vimeo.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Teens and Media

We just came across this article in the Financial Times, and wondered why was this "scribble" such a sensation. At CultureLab we have been knowing this for the last 2 and a half years. We guess it is finally sinking in to mainstream media and to the older generation that yeah, things are changing fundamentally. This is why Clients hire us, because we fully understand how young consumers use media and what is relevant to them.

Read this:

Note by 'teenage scribbler' causes sensation
By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York
Published: July 12 2009 23:32 | Last updated: July 12 2009 23:32
A research note written by a 15-year-old, who was not born when former UK chancellor Nigel Lawson dismissed London analysts as “teenage scribblers”, has become the talk of middle-aged media executives and investors.

Morgan Stanley’s European media analysts asked Matthew Robson, one of the bank’s interns from a London school, to describe his friends’ media habits. His report proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen. So we published it,” said Edward Hill-Wood, head of the team.

The response was enormous. “We’ve had dozens and dozens of fund managers, and several CEOs, e-mailing and calling all day,” said Mr Hill-Wood, 35, estimating that the note had generated five or six times more feedback than the team’s usual reports.

However, he made no claims for its statistical rigour.

As elderly media moguls gathered at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, to fawn over Twitter and fret over their business models, Mr Robson set out a sobering case that tomorrow’s consumers are using more and more media but are unwilling to pay for it.

“Teenagers do not use Twitter,” he pronounced. Updating the micro-blogging service from mobile phones costs valuable credit, he wrote, and “they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their tweets are pointless”.

His peers find it hard to make time for regular television, and would rather listen to advert-free music on websites such as than tune into traditional radio. Even online, teens find advertising “extremely annoying and pointless”.

Their time and money is spent instead on cinema, concerts and video game consoles which, he said, now double as a more attractive vehicle for chatting with friends than the phone.

Mr Robson had little comfort for struggling print publishers, saying no teenager he knew regularly reads a newspaper since most “cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text” rather than see summaries online or on television.

Executives and investors have grown fascinated by the opinions of teenagers. Rupert Murdoch, 78, has described himself as a “digital immigrant” and his young daughters as “digital natives”, while UBS pulled in an 18-year-old three years ago to demonstrate MySpace to portfolio managers.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson-A Tribute

It is an understatement to say that the media has been obsessed for the last couple of weeks with the death of MJ, however, today, as we celebrate his life it feels so real, so final and so solemn. More than likely we will never see this level of superstardom again. We are sad about this for sure but there are some lessons that MJ taught us that are relevant to us in the agency world and to those of us who want to succeed in connecting to people across all cultures.

MJ was rooted in the 60's era of struggle and Black upward mobility . He was from the rough, steel town of Gary, Indiana, and his father Joe was determined to make sure that his family had a better life. Self determination and the thirst for a better life is what many people in the world desire, and that is probably one of the reasons why MJ connected on that global level. He was symbolic of how pure talent combined with stellar work ethic can take you to the top.

If not for Joe's determination to insure that his family had a better life, we probably would have never known the Jackson 5 or ultimately the "Off the Wall/Thriller" era Michael Jackson. It is well documented that Joe was not always fair or loving but he did instill in MJ, that drive and discipline. MJ's God given talent combined with his ambition, drive and discipline were a HUGE reason for his global success.

MJ is perhaps the greatest example of someone who connected with humanity on a global level, he was a trailblazer and generated excitement from Moscow, to Dakar, to Anchorage to Sao Paulo. I challenge anyone to name another artist who generated so much excitement on every single continent amongst almost every single ethnicity. It is unprecedented and more than likely will never happen again. His demonstrated compassion for the world and yes, children all over the world was a big reason for his global connection.

The dude broke down barriers. He found a way around barriers and maintained impeccable standards. If you were drafted by MJ to produce something for him, write something for him, choreograph for him,or film something for him, you were automatically put into that exceptional category. His high standards for production in music video, choreography and music production are what helped him break down those barriers. MTV did not play Black artist before MJ's Billie Jean but the production standards on that video made it undeniable!

Finally, MJ brought the electricity! The dance moves, the staging, the precision, on point vocals, etc. Sometimes it seems like many performers forget the performing aspect, and the idea of giving it your all. MJ always gave it his all when on stage. There is something to be said about the hysteria he generated at shows. The world is going to miss that electricity!

The world is going to miss MJJ.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The wonders of Technology

We all know the wonders of the iPhone and its constant revolutionizing of not only phone and technology, but also the world, But it still astounds and excites us here at CultureLab all the amazing things it can do, especially the fact that people are now able to videotape and produce music videos on it in a very high tech way!

Check out the music video that someone created!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CLab Hot Spot

CultureLab is now producing video blogs about the latest trends.

Check out our first one!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Social Media as a Direct Democracy: What political theory can teach us about Web 2.0?

by Devin Walker

There are two forms of democracy, indirect and direct. The difference between a direct democracy and an indirect democracy is that in an indirect democracy you have people that you elect to represent you and a number of other people who will have somewhat similar interest because of your geographical proximity, and therefore you will have some of the same problems on the local level. Examples of indirect democracy would be alderman, state representatives and your member of the House of Representative. But in a direct democracy every person who is able to vote (because of their vested interest) will vote on every issue that the government deals with, so everyone will be a representative: a representative of themselves. This is an idealistic way of governing in a democracy, but then we consider reality and its truths, a more pragmatic approach emerges. This is to have an indirect democracy due to the fact that the average farmer is not an expert on urban affairs, and has a bias for the agriculture policy. So we must ask ourselves how is social media a direct democracy?

Social media allows everyone who has access to the internet to express their opinions; it is analogous to how when radio first started. There were hundreds of independent local stations in our free market. The ones that were reflective of the ideas of a majority of people within their areas of broadcast, stayed on and got a larger following. Those that reflected the viewpoint of a radical portion of the population went underground or died out. The same is true with websites, RSS Feeds, and blogs. The good ones with time grow and become very popular and those that are poorly designed or have less than common views are ignored. These days instead of changing the dial, you change the web address. But difference is that people have more of a chance to interact and express their opinion than ever before.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The civil side of Blogging

by Devin Walker

Often times we see blogging as a local, regional, or national device of communicating opinions on work, current events, and niche topics. But there is an issue that is of great importance that blogging is taking on: human rights.

Whenever a conflict, populous uprising, or political shake-up occurs in a nation that has internet capabilities in it, the bloggers use their outlet to the world to update the rest of us on the conditions from their point of view, the most recent case being the election in Iran. The good people at UC Berkeley are at the forefront of chronicling and encouraging this.

2048 Project homepage:
Blogging human rights:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Funny Take on The Ubiquity of the Auto-Tune

Since Jay-Z has been in the news with "DOA-Death of Auto-Tune" we thought we would post this hilarious video.

Auto Tuning from Casey Donahue on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Project Natal = No more Gamers Thumb

By Devin Walker

This video is of Microsoft's innovative new game at the E3 conference.

Is this the future of the gaming experience? A truly interactive world, where you are literally immersed in the game, not as a gamer but as a character in the game? Now, you can save your thumbs for texting because with this new interactive game you can use of your own body as a controller since you don’t need buttons to play a game.

Of course, the next step is to add another dimension of reality. The logical step for Microsoft is to increase revenue by using product placements to increase brand recognition of other companies from the real world. It would be cool if I walked in the room, turned on a game and it recognized that in my hand there was a Mountain Dew. Just that degree of resemblance to a person in the real world would be astounding. This and more games of different genres on Natal have to be down the project tunnel for Microsoft and Project Natal. I like the things we are seeing coming out of this rabbit hole.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marketing to Youth In the Obama Age-Is Urban or Multicultural Still Relevant?

Recently, I was a panelist at the Y Pulse Youth Marketing Conference in San Francisco. The discussion was exploring the notion of whether or not "urban" or multicultural is still relevant in this internet age. It was a dynamic conversation, and people seemed to be very interested in what was being said. I have to give shouts out to Rolando Brown of MVMT and Neelanjana Banerjee of New America Media. As CultureLab we have been touting the fact that when it comes to marketing to young people, ethnicity is really a secondary or tertiary part of youth identity. Here is our POV:

Yes, Multicultural and inclusion are now more relevant than ever, however ethnic targeting from a marketing perspective is not that relevant:

What is important is a genuinely inclusive outlook and deep understanding of youth identity. Young people want to see themselves represented AUTHENTICALLY. Stereotypical and clichéd images will not cut it in this day and age. For marketers what is important is to create welcoming spaces for people and their identities.

Identity from my vantage point has to do with who you connect to, how you view yourself, your background, your geography,your social class, experiences, interests and racial background.

Understanding identity, the role of class, and connection is what is really important. For instance, a kid may be Hispanic, living in LA and his or her interest lies in skateboarding. The community of skateboarders, the fashion associated with it, and the indigenous language used by skateboarders have the biggest impact on that person’s identity, more so than the fact that they are Hispanic. Ethnicity is just one minor part of the mix.

Social class is also something for marketers to consider and be sensitive to. For instance we are seeing some class differences in the online sphere. My Space is the preferred online social network of the underclass. Whereas Facebook which first took hold on college campuses is now the preferred social network of the more affluent and educated masses.

Also social class plays into cultural tastes. Take a close look at kids who totally dig the hipster hop of Kidz In the Hall and those who are die hard devotees of T.I. you will find some pretty clear distinctions.

Marketers win by showing insights that connect to young people on a universal level. This generation just does not like to be singled out on the basis of race. However the problem with the advertising world is that due to the lack of diversity within many general market agencies, they have a tendency to default to stereotypes or images of benign benevolence by just showing a rainbow of cultures in their ads.

In my mind unifiers are the winners like the advertising agency, Wieden & Kennedy, the Nike agency. They continue to do a great job of unifying through universal insights. Heineken, Drink Responsibly is by far one of the most clever spots out there. They showed insight in a cool and hip way that humor is one of the things that this generation reacts most favorably to. The spot also treated hip hop in a non stereotypical way.

For anyone who is trying to target what we call the "inclusive" general market, here are some things to consider:

• Yes, inclusion of multicultural people is now more relevant than ever, however ethnic targeting is not very relevant in connecting to young people

• DO NOT default to Hip Hop to reach young people, the reality is that we are heading into a POST HIP HOP AGE

• Be genuinely inclusive: understand youth identity and create contextual spaces for people to connect to your brands

• Anti-intellectualism, particularly among Black and Latino kids, is over; smartness is cool

• Tribalism and the long tail are real. Marketers must know who rules these tribes in order to gain greater influence

• Build Relationships and Social Currency

• Frugality and Thrift are IN, consumerism is OUT-woe to luxury brands and non-necessities

• The youth generation ideal is “One Nation Under A Groove” - unifiers who rally their audience around their brands will win!

• Knowledge of cultural nuance and social class is key, as it dictates tone, style, and language

• Be consistent: this generation despises phonies

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lessons from Trent Reznor on Marketing and Branding in the Digital Age

I have to admit it. I am completely fascinated by Trent Reznor. People that know me, know that I am a real die hard Nine Inch Nails fan, but besides Trent's "Prince" level of musicianship, he is by far one of the great thinkers of our day in terms of understanding the new media landscape and how to use the internet to fortify your brand, and solidify relationships with your fans, (the anti Prince approach). He is the winner of this year's Webby Artist of the Year award, and no doubt deserves it. The guy is incredibly bright! I am an unabashed fan/admirer and if you watch this entire interview you will be too.

Trent Reznor Digg Dialogg from drawaside on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CultureLab Youth Pulse-The Recession

Recently, we went out to interview Dallas-Ft. Worth area college students about how the current economic crisis has effected their behavior in terms of spending, saving, and consumption. Here are several videos of some of the responses to our questions.

Female Attitudes Toward Money

Male Attitudes Toward Spending

The Role of Frugality

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Travel Trends

written by Priyanka Patel

So you thought that with the economy going the way it is that there was no possibility for you to travel the way you love to. Well, GOOD NEWS, there is now an affordable, foolproof (mostly) way of staying at nice places on the cheap. These days a travel trend has emerged where ordinary citizens are treating their abodes with the mentality of "mi casa, su casa" - allowing people to stay with them for free or for a low rate.

Similar to couchsurfing ( and the Hospitality Club , but with more security (as it relates to living arrangements) built in, iStopover is a great way to see the world in style without breaking the bank. Not only does it handle all your monetary transactions, it also lets you see the place (via online) before you put your money down. And when you arrive, if you feel like the place was grossly misrepresented (kind of like an online date), you can find you another place without ever have wasted your money.

To find out more, check it out:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Is Black Music Still Cool?

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Digitalization of TV...Please read!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Teens Are Strapped Too

Monday, April 20, 2009

A new "Twist" on Media Sharing

Having trouble transferring media across all your many devices? Worry no more, check out the following article:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

SXSW Music 2009

A CultureLab Recollection by Aden Fissihaie

I was sort of skeptical of SXSW this year due to the economy. I thought it would not be as great as last year but I was wrong it was way better than last year. At this year's festival, I discovered Janelle Monae is a rock star.

Monae and her band are the sickest band ever: she dances, spins, crowd surfs, jumps, screams, I think you get what I am saying. It was pure excitement watching her and her band. She was also very down to earth talking to all her fans and walking around like she was nobody when her outfit and hair-do alone lets you know she is definitely somebody out of the ordinary.

Theophilus London was also very impressive. He really reminds me of Dwayne Wayne from A Different World because of his style, but his performance is legendary for a hip-hop artist as its never been done the way he does it. He dances and walks around like Michael Jackson at times I cant even put it into words, but he definitely has his own swag. Look at the Youtube posted.

Also caught the Bun B. show and he rocked it with all the UGK songs and some of his solo songs. Dead Prez also performed they are always dope and good people. Then there was the most talked about show at SXSW, Kanye West at the The Fader/Levi’s Fort, with his G.O.O.D. Family of artists. There were so many artist sharing that stage: KiD CuDi performed, Kanye West did all his new songs and some of the old songs, Common performed with a surprise guest which was Erykah Badu and they freestyled with Kanye which was ridiculous!!! Gotta love Erykah.

GLC, Big Sean, Really Doe, Bentley Fonsworth, Mr. Hudson, Tony Williams, Consequence were the G.O.O.D. Family label performers who shared the stage, the only one missing was John Legend.

Then, there was the last show I went to which was the Perez Hilton show and Perez always picks the artist that will be the hitmakers of the new year. Last year I went to the Perez Hilton show and Katy Perry, Chester French and N.E.R.D. performed and next thing you know Katy Perry was the "it" girl for 2008. So at the Perez Hilton One Night In Austin show, Perez had the same hat Aretha Franklin had on at The Inaugration but his was pink and that was hilarious.

KiD CuDi performed with this girl named Lil Boots watch out for her she is gonna be big. Then, Kanye West took the stage and performed a few songs. The one thing that really stands out from that night was being able to go backstage after Kanye's set. Kanye hugged every single person in the room and afterwards the people backstage all collectively began to hug and show love to each other as if they were celebrating all things G.O.O.D. It felt like the part in mass where the priest tells you to wish everyone sitting beside you "peace be with you" and you are randomly hugging and shaking hands with strangers. I think Kanye is a great guy especially after witnessing the Kanye hugfest, I mean, what rockstar does that?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lifestyles of the Rich and Real

Check out this article:

We're now on Twitter!

CultureLab now has an active account on Twitter so start following us on cLabCreative.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SXSWi 2009

This past weekend, I attended the South by Southwest interactive festival. It was really a fantastic event! I had a chance to connect with many people that I admire, Andy Hunter (guru of digital communications planning, CEO of reboot strategy), Dr. Henry Jenkins (author of Convergence Culture and professor of Communications, Journalism, Cinematic Arts at USC), and Elvis Mitchell (NPR commentator and producer/writer of HBO’s the Black List)

I would vouch that the interactive portion of SXSW may soon eclipse the importance of the SXSW Music fest.

The key ethnography of those in attendance could neatly be prescribed to the tech geek/hipster tribe: smart, nerdy, wear glasses, skinny jeans, track jackets, etc. It was also very noticeable that there were many Europeans in attendance. The attendance of people from all over the world added to the overall cache that SXSWi currently has.

The staff and management who run this festival should be commended for flawlessly executing the logistics of such a large event and for doing such a great job with the panel and core conversation topics.

Here are a few observations form SXSWi I would like to share:

1. Twitter is All the Rage!!
This year’s festival could have easily been dubbed the Twitter festival. Twitter was used to make real time comments during panels by audience members, it was used as a buzz detector to see which panels were worth attending or not, and it was also used as the primary tool to bring order to the chaos of the SXSWi schedule.

By the end of my attendance at the festival I had Twitter overload. However, I realized that Twitter is a most effective form of communication that will be with us for a while. It is much like a musical instrument. It can be used at a very basic level or it can be used at a virtuoso like advanced level.

2. The iPhone is a Real Game Changer
iPhone has expedited Americans’ ability to use their phones in an advanced manner much like the Japanese do. We are still behind Europe and Japan in smartphone functional usage but the iPhone is helping us to catch up.

Applications will continue to proliferate thus adding to the already great functionality of the iPhone.

3. Augmented Reality or AR is a real mind expander coming to your mobile phone, soon!
Mobile phones will soon be able to use AR to create artificial landscapes in a real world setting. For instance you could use your phone to play a make believe game of tennis in the middle of Times Square with a cohort using their phone as a paddle. AR would allow you to look at your phone and see a tennis court projected onto the street while you and a fellow AR user paddle the ball back and forth on that AR court.

AR can be used in catalogs as well, bringing 3 D images of products that can be manipulated. Some auto manufacturers are already using it in Europe.

4. IM VJ
IM Video Journalism is a new form of journalism coming out of the UK and is pioneered by a black Brit by the name of David Dunkley Gyimah. I learned from David’s lecture that IM VJ, is a form of videojournalism that incorporates design oriented storytelling, efficient and quick shooting, subject driven narrative, and imaginative video techniques. The IM VJ panel goes down as one of the better ones I sat in on at SXSWi. David Gyimah was engaging and extremely well versed.

5. Social Media is Here to Stay
Social Media along with Twitter was the buzz of the festival. Web 2.0 is now the most influential media outside of broadcast TV, and may even surpass TV in importance to GenY . The Obama campaign was the wakeup call to America about the importance of Social Media. The key takeaway from the festival was that those who master the social media tools will be the masters of the marketing and influencing universe. The use of Social Media will intensify and before we know it, email will be obsolete.

6. Social Media as a tool for Activism
I attended a great panel entitled can Social Media End Racism. Of course the answer is it can’t but it can be used to bring racist behavior to light and to call people out. This is the panel where I laughed the most because of two people, Jay Smooth and Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man) they were really funny and insightful.

The bottom line is that Social Media has a HUGE democratizing effect where people can really make themselves heard, and it is an aggregator that can be harnessed for protest and justice.

Those are my highlights but please hit us up to give us your feedback on the festival if you went. We welcome comments.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Age, New Consumer
written by Desmond Blair

The growth of digital technologies is leading to a new type of consumer. We are seeing the beginning of consumers who are now well informed and seek more of a direct contact and feedback with the businesses they interact with. This new and informed consumer seeks interaction not inaction. This is why it is important large companies invest time and listen to consumers when entering the online domain.
There are several things to be aware of in the online arena. First, it is of utmost importance to establish a relationship with the consumer and not just feed people information. People want to feel engaged they want to share their ideas and opinions to form more of a bond not only with the company whose products they consume but also with other consumers. Too often, companies announce products that are destined to fail because of this idea that “Big Business” still controls the habits of today’s consumer. This notion is a tremendous fallacy in the online arena because people share and seek out information. This brings me to my second point, attempting to bottleneck information in an environment that is supposed to be free and open will damage a company’s reputation immediately. This is very important to remember because reputation is very important in online spaces. This is very important for garnering consumer trust and also important for gaining word of mouth support that can transition into increased “real life” (people who may not get their information from the web) support as well.
A shift in the relationship between businesses and consumers is beginning to occur. Consumers are no longer limited to obtaining goods from companies. Now consumers are able exchange goods with fellow constituents on a mass scale. (Interactions are not as localized as they used to be.) Consumers are more empowered and knowledgeable about the products they consume. This knowledge changes the dynamic because people can now research products and companies to determine whom they are willing to buy from.
The web is not just changing people it is changing the way people consume. The notion or idea of the web is creating a generation that seeks to be engaged, seeks to be knowledgeable, and desires the ability to express ideas and share concerns.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Superbowl Ads: An Overall Lack of Connection

written by Priyanka Patel

The Super Bowl is the highlight of the season among football fans, but for a lot of people the enjoyment of watching the Superbowl is watching the ads and not the actual game. Many people watch to see how creative the ads will be, and advertisers buy these Superbowl slots to try and connect with the nearly 100 million people watching, hoping that in turn, it will create ROI for their products.

Superbowl XXXVIII had 98 million viewers, 20 % that were 18-24, 8 % of whom were Hispanic, 10 .2 % African American, and 4 % Asian, but I felt that this year advertisers neglected to target the diverse young adult market except for a select few. The 18-24 market spends $122 billion a year, including $24 billion in discretionary spending and the three minority markets (mentioned above) also have considerable spending power - about 2.2 billion , so why would advertisers’ choose to ignore them? I'm confused (as a 23 year old market researcher), as to why advertisers would not try to expand their market in a time where ad budgets are shrinking and they need to get the most “bang for their buck”?

There were a few ads that I thought targeted and connected well with the 18-24 year old demo and they are the following:

CultureLab’s Top Superbowl Spots

1) Cash4Gold
2) Doritos
3) Bud Light (this only should connect with 21-24 year olds! LOL!)
4) Bridgestone
6) Toyota*

The reason that I feel these commercials resonated with Gen Y is because of their quirky humor mixed in with their originality which us Gen Y-ers typically like. As with the Bud Light, Doritos and Bridgestone spots there was effective use of humor throughout the commercials. I also believe that they were able to connect to Gen Y because they made use of popular celebrities, such as MC Hammer (Cash4Gold), Danica Patrick (, and Conan O’Brien (Bud Light), which in this celebrity obsessed culture, resonates with young people today.

• I also want to give Toyota a BIG shout out for being the ONLY advertiser to display any form of multicultural sophistication. They ran a :30 ad from African American agency, Burrell Communications during game time. Toyota should be commended for using an African American targeted spot as a general market spot. It is frankly surprising that when 22% of the people who watched Superbowl XXXVIII are minorities, this is the only spot done from a multicultural point of view.

So here are the spots that in my view, did not deliver for my 18-24 year old set:

CultureLab’s Worst Five

1) Budweiser (the Clydesdale spots)
2) Coca-Cola
3) Pepsi
4) Hyundai
5) Denny’s

The reason that I chose these as the worst commercials is because they lacked excitement and were not particularly relevant to young people. For example, the Clydesdales did not relate to the product; many Superbowl viewers were too young to recall the older commercials referenced and weren’t able to connect the dots between the Clydesdales and Budweiser. Same thing with PepsiCo, where they tried to connect the past generations with the new generation by using Will.I.Am, but the music and pictures were only somewhat recognizable (I am not sure if anyone of my friends really know who Bob Dylan is), and therefore; hard to connect with me as a Gen Y-er. The Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Denny’s commercials were just plain lackluster.

Overall, I thought the ads this year did a mediocre job at targeting 18-24 year olds, but did an even worse job connecting with multicultural 18-24 year olds. If corporations want to increase their chances for making their revenue targets in this incredibly challenged economic climate then they definitely should aspire to be more inclusive in their messaging and outreach.

To see the ads yourself, check it out at:http://


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Urban Elegance-Trend to Watch For!

In our Twenty Trends to Watch For in 2009 we made mention of a developing trend of African American/Urban elegance in fashion, and music videos. What jazz musicians used to call "clean" is back in vogue. Check out this new video from one of the godfathers of the progressive soul movement, Raphael Saadiq. It is retro yet modern which kind of describes what the new "urban elegance" is all about.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Post Bush Era of Global Sobriety

Well, it is over and the real work begins. This has been a remarkable time for our business, for our nation, as well as the world. It has been an extreme time, as we watch the promise of a new year deteriorate into cancelled projects, whacked client budgets, and uncertain futures for businesses like ours. However, our experience is not unique, many American businesses and global businesses are faced with the same thing.

This is our new reality, and after listening to the new President’s inaugural address, it is most likely going to be worse. Welcome world to a new era of global sobriety. No more living on the credit cards, bottle service in the club, $5,000 Gucci handbags, home equity loans, etc. etc.

As marketers, we must face this new world of lower expectations, lessened consumerism, and consumers who are challenged to make ends meet. How are we to live? Or thrive even? Here is what is important for strategists, and marketers to consider:

1) The economy is not going to bounce back soon
2) Lower priced CPG’s will reign, and private label will surge
3) Branding advertising campaigns will lessen in importance, BTW, Pepsi just wasted millions of dollars on their new Happiness campaign!
4) Agencies who focus on direct, grassroots marketing, internet, CRM, and expanded niche markets will do well
5) Madison Avenue and The GOP must retool or they will die, non-diverse organizations will look out of touch in this new era.
6) You must really think globally and understand different cultures
7) Get comfortable doing business with the Fed as they will be the BIG spender these next few years
8) Don’t be selfish, the era of individualism and greed is over too, Gen Y has helped us understand collaboration better
9) Reward creative people. What better time to be creative than now. Be creative!!
10) Finally, this goes to my Latin American, European and Australian brothers and sisters, challenge yourselves to be like America and give YOUR immigrant groups, African descendents and indigenous people equal opportunities in business, advertising and media representation. America should not be the only example of success when it comes to equal opportunity.

We welcome your comments. Please post them!