Monthly Archive: April 2011

Look For the Pre-Consumer Excess In Your Market

I love when business solves social or environmental problems en route to an innovative product or service offering. That’s what’s going on at Looptworks, a Portland, Oregon-based apparel start-up led by two industry veterans.

Looptworks repurposes abandoned materials into meaningful, long-lasting and limited-edition products. By re-using the world’s pre-consumer excess, the company aims to rid the world of waste while inspiring a generation to reduce their impact on the planet.

Entrepreneur says Looptworks personifies the upcycling trend. And Upcycling is ushering in an entirely new wave of entrepreneurial innovation.

The article also features Terra Cycle, the New Jersey-based company that “outsmarts waste” by turning actual garbage into hundreds of products, like Oreo wrapper backpacks and bicycle chain picture frames.

As I consider the work these two companies are doing, I can’t help but wonder what pre-consumer excess we can repurpose in media and advertising. I know there must be some. Help me out here!

For more on upcycling, the magazine recommends Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a book (printed on a synthetic paper made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers) by architect-and-chemist duo William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

Client Showcase #9

After many months of concentrated effort, I’m pleased to announce the launch of, the new website for the new Tucson-based health care brand.

As you might imagine, creating a children’s hospital brand from scratch comes with unique challenges and requirements. For one, the brand needs to be highly inviting to children, even though parents and medical professionals are the primary audience. Online especially, the trick is to strike a balance between clinical information and approachability.

Thankfully, Bonehook worked with some outstanding partners on this project. Let me thank them again here:

Web Dev: Corporate 3 Design
Design: Cathy Solarana
Illustrations: Anke Weckmann

Naturally, our Danville Children’s clients were also deeply engaged in this project from the get go. I thank them for trusting us to execute this vision for the site and the brand, in general. What started 16 months ago with the creation of the hospital’s brand identity, has blossomed into a full scale identity launch that includes print and collateral materials, event marketing materials, branded merchandise, interior design and now digital. Email marketing, social media marketing and more to come…

Bet On The Underdog

Great Britian’s Marketing Magazine is running a short piece on a rich topic. Diageo–the world’s largest spirits company–is doing away with the concept of a “lead agency.”

Diageo will switch to a system under which the agency with the ‘best idea’ will be responsible for leading the brief, regardless of the discipline.

Diageo’s procurement team has also been reviewing its roster so that it better reflects the modern marketing mix, including disciplines such as social media.

Bryony Stickells, head of digital at Diageo, had previously hinted at the fresh approach. Earlier this year, she told Marketing: “You have to start with the consumer – who they are, where they engage with a brand and what they want to engage with. Then consider what channels suit the brand.”

I used to work on Bailey’s, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff and other Diageo brands during my four-year run at BFG Communications. At one point, I flew to New York and pitched a room full of Diageo clients on the value of content and how the team at BFG would cultivate and deliver it for them. Sadly, our grand plans didn’t sell, but that’s not the point of my recounting. The point is Diageo brand managers were listening to the guys from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the promotions and events people with a new digital practice. Because smart clients are always open to new ideas, from any source that can provide one.

Yet, let’s not kid around. It’s human nature to be impressed with pedigree, stature and power. Therefore, the common sense approach where “the marketplace of ideas is open to all” is more of a platitude than a reality. Because we’re a risk averse lot, and going with the underdog with bright ideas is risky.

I am the underdog. Now more than ever. Bonehook is a new company started in a new city. We all know that’s not how it’s done. You launch your own company after a decade or more of service in one market, so you know people. After all, knowing people is how your business survives. Bonehook is not exempt from this fundamental law of business. Far from it. Our best client, a health care concern in Salt Lake City, is run by a close personal friend. And my two closest co-workers are both former colleagues from my time working in Omaha (2000-2002).

Now to the point of this ramble…there’s a lot to be gained by placing your bets on the underdog. Underdogs are scrappy and scrappy is a great thing to be in today’s marketplace. The rise of digital means a million things, but one thing it clearly means is no one–fat Madison Avenue cats included–is comfortable. It’s a time of unrest in marketing communications and the world, and that means opportunity for companies who successfully manage risk.

I know the big established shops are changing rapidly to better conform to digital culture. As it should be. Big established brands will continue to listen to their newly reconfigured advice. But here’s the thing, it’s not easy to change corporate culture and like it or not big agency culture isn’t the best thing for a client today.

When you come from a place of privilege, it shows. Privilege leaks into your thinking and it spreads. All of a sudden the client and agency are back at square one, thinking that prospective customers will be privileged to see their newly minted marketing messages.

Underdogs don’t play that game.