The AAAA Leadership Conference kicked off this week from Laguna Niguel’s Ritz Carlton, attended by many luminaries that make up the world of ad agencies.

The conference opened with a fitting tribute to one of advertising’s legends, Phil Dusenberry (1936 – 2007).

Dusenberry developed GE's "bring good things to life" campaign, Pepsi's "new generation" slogan, the "New York Miracle" spots and Reagan's "Final Journey" documentary. He retired in 2002 as chairman of BBDO North America, one of the world’s most successful advertising agencies. The company grew rapidly under his guidance, but he was best known for his creative work over several decades at BBDO.

Tom Carroll, incoming Chairman of the AAAA and President-CEO TBWA Worldwide, headlined the conference with a down-to-earth vision of the comeback role of the agency as the place for brands to manage all of the disciplines that make up great advertising.

“Enough.” The banter between digital and traditional is over. “It’s all digital and it’s all about the data.”

“Enough.” A peek into discussions concerning agency fees reveals the need for compensation to be tied back to sales in an accountable manner.

Borrowing a phrase from Jay Chiat, Tom was on the mark with … “That was then. This is now.”

Tom .... we are all looking forward to the leadership and drive you will be bringing to the table as the AAAA incoming chairman.

Day one, the general conference gave way to a star-studded cast to include Irwin Gotlieb, Global CEO – GroupM; Lee Clow, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer – TBWA WW; Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman – NBC Entertainment and Universal Media; Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO – Google; and Matt Freeman, CEO WW – Tribal DDB. Nancy Hill, newly appointed President of The AAAA moved the conference forward with a strong call for diversity among agencies.

Gotlieb pronounced the coming of a common ecosystem with consolidated media streams; a targeting shift for consumers, moving away from behavior and towards “reaction to intention”; and the development of creative executions to fill the needs of a brand’s ability to segment audiences in and even more focused manner.

Lee Clow, a proponent of the Media Arts believes the internet has not yet matured to accept creative advertising and storytelling. Lee challenged agencies to hire young thinkers across many disciplines to explore that which has not yet been explored.

“Brands will become media” as exhibited by the Adidas “Sistine chapel” ad on the ceiling of the Cologne, Germany train station, and the All Blacks “Bonded by Blood”, New Zealand football

Ben Silverman picked up on Gotlieb’s consolidated media stream argument, suggesting that agencies and their brands, the media, media sellers and buyers, technologists and planners need to work as a single unit to make the consumer experience whole.

Schmidt’s focus was on the shift in metrics to maximize and optimize campaigns through actionable measures. Asking if there was also a shift from ad-based revenue for Google to software, the response was a pat “no.” However, “if Google could send only one ad to a search query and that ad would be the one perfect ad, it would.” And it would charge handsomely.

The general session wrapped with a breakout session led by Matt Freeman, charging “consumers are the new media.”


CNet News reports that Google is the best brand -- once again -- for the third year in a row, according to a market research firm Millward Brown. Google's brand, according to the data (which is calculated based on interviews and financial information), topped the charts at $86.1 billion as the world’s most powerful global brand. (Compare this to the second place holder which was GE with a value of $71.4 billion and Microsoft which hit third place with $70.9 billion.)

As the Google brand continues to imprint itself in our lives, there is no question that it is also imposing itself on ad agencies and marketers as it seeks to quietly unseat the media sellers as well.

This remarkable organization and its grand scheme to be everything to everyone, for information and communication, has even cloaked itself in a social network under its Google Documents application.

Google Docs, an online shared environment for excel documents, photos, and collaborative exchange, with a determined set of participants, sets the stage for and expanded social network.

Consider the following:

  • Controlled multi-user environment: Simultaneous usage by multiple persons. Access is controlled by the person who created the spreadsheet--users can be set as collaborators or just viewers.
  • Presence indicators: All users sharing the spreadsheet are informed of the presence of others in the form of a chat window, temporary notifications, and a mobile avatar (see next point).
  • Real-time text chat: Plus voice if you use Skype.
  • Unique, mobile avatars: Each user is represented by a uniquely-colored outline on an individual spreadsheet cell. A simple avatar, but distinct, and user-controlled. It can move around the spreadsheet.
  • Spatial relationships between users: My avatar can be beside, above, or below yours.
  • User-generated content: All Google gives you is a blank spreadsheet. The users add the content. I don't think it's possible to add proper graphics to a spreadsheet, but it is possible to color a cell and to add colored text to a cell. It is also possible to lock rows and columns, which could provide a visual effect.
  • Dynamic content: It's a spreadsheet, so it's possible to put formulas into cells which rely upon and affect other cells..
  • Persistent world: A Google spreadsheet endures over time--it is a "live," changeable, but persistent environment which remembers its state after the users have logged out.
  • Communication with outside world: Users can opt to be notified by email when the spreadsheet has been changed, on a global, sheet, or cellular level. I believe a Google Doc can also be embedded in a web page.
Oh, here's the definition of a Googol (note the true spelling)... 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000000000000000 ...one followed by one hundred zeros.


Your next mobile phone will amaze you.

The eye-Phone (no, not Apple’s i-Phone) runs on mobile telephones and works like this: If you see something interesting while out walking for instance, you take a photograph with your mobile phone and select the item of interest with the cursor. The object selected is then recognized and transmitted with satellite navigation localization data to a central system interfacing to databases on the internet to get information on the object. The information found is sent back to the phone and displayed to you.

The eye-Phone is a novel mobile phone programmable to provide information on what you see when you see it. It combines three of today's modern technologies: satellite navigation localization services, advanced object recognition and relevant internet retrieved information. The system has been developed using Apollo technology, an innovative artificial intelligence piece of software that can carry out object recognition within images regardless of the angle from which it is taken, the lighting conditions or quality of the image. To support object recognition, it uses navigation positioning information.

This novel use of satellite technology combines three technologies: satellite navigation localization services, advanced object recognition and relevant internet retrieved information.


We are not even at the end of the beginning.

If we are to believe Nicholas Carr, the focus of an argument that suggests IT, as we know it today, is not essential and is unlikely to survive, “it’s going to be a bumpy ride”.

PC applications, computing and storage will be moved into the “cloud” … an “Oz-like place” hosted by a Googlesque consortium of high-tech companies that allows users to regulate grids of computers with just software. Imagine down-loading a three hour high definition movie to your laptop in five seconds. Harnessing the power of “the cloud”, it’s no longer a far off fantasy.

Enter Quantum Computing.

Quantum computing moves computer technology into the molecular realm. With molecular-level chips, a laptop could have more computing power than trillions of today's supercomputers.

The major challenge of the Google whiz kids of tomorrow: to take computing and networking power that is effectively infinite and create interfaces that are simple enough for mere humans to understand.

Within a matter of years, your new laptop will switch on like a light.

Steve Jurvetson, author of AI, Nanotech and the Future of the Human Species states “Quantum computers have the potential to solve problems that would take a classical computer longer than the age of the universe.”


Only good TV lives ….Since 1973 The Bessies Awards have recognized the best in Canadian television advertising. Each year the Bessies jury is given the arduous task of separating the good tv from the bad, awarding only the best ideas and effectively killing the rest.

It is this analogy that Toronto agency John St. has successfully brought to life through a viral and print campaign to help promote the 2008 edition of the awards.

The online commercials for The Bessies, from our neighbors to the North, follow ….