On Becoming a Mentor

By | UCLA | No Comments

Being recognized by your peers is humbling because responsibility comes attached.

Recently I was named 2010 Outstanding Instructor in Entertainment Studies and Performing Arts by the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA Extension Department of the Arts, acknowledged by Dean Cathy Sandeen and director of the Arts, Linda Venis.

The honor was received for instruction in the course “Marketing Entertainment, Strategies for the Global Marketplace,” which I have been teaching for 12 years. The course explores every facet of entertainment marketing, from branding strategies, distribution, advertising and public relations to market research, new media, promotion and licensing strategies.

The Department of the Arts is the largest University-related arts department in the country. It hires more than 1,000 artists and art professionals to teach 1,400 courses annually in five major academic divisions: Architecture and Interior Design; Entertainment Studies and Performing Arts; Landscape Architecture, Visual Arts; and the Writer’s Program.

The criteria upon which the instructors were selected for these awards are student evaluations, length of service in which excellence has been maintained, diversity of teaching portfolio, and contributions to their academic program.

Each fall I invite real world, industry experts into the classroom. They are shaman; keynote speakers.

That’s not a new idea. What is, is the power of their candor. It’s real life and real business meeting young minds.

Throughout the course we repeatedly hear overlapping themes about change, consumers, content, context, the collaborative creative process, marketing, messaging and branding…to name but a few.

In the end what we come to know is that we’re in an industry of total self invention and that success is realized by having a long history of brilliant adaptation to crisis. Both serve as lessons for life…because a good idea may come from anywhere.

Hanging Around A Newsstand : A Window on Culture

By | Branding, New Media | No Comments
photo by Eric E. Johnson

photo by Eric E. Johnson

I remember walking to work in Manhattan and glancing at a Newsstand’s cascading color pallet of magazine covers.  Pure eye candy; a bespoken world of words and pictures with all  those visual images screaming at you.

Hey! Choose Me; Choose Me!

Every masthead meticulously quaffed and designed to capture: size, shape and color to perfection.

The result?  Being able to assimilate pop culture in about three seconds … a Blink.

Cosmopolitan was an early adopter, thanks to Scavullo and Helen Gurley Brown, who together redefine women and fashion in the ‘70s. It established itself as a brand for women: attainable, albeit dramatized: the Cosmo Girl. ? Its counter was MS magazine fueled by Gloria Steinem.  Other influence came from Conte Nast which made a science of melding titles with branded content. Clay Felker did the same with New York Magazine. Time made it an art; National Geographic made it an industry. Life magazine made it our window to the world. It was literally larger than life and proved it. Then, Vanity Fair and Anne Leibovitz’s glorious gate-fold front covers made a clarion call to pop culture and Vogue made its indelible brand mark necessitating advertisers to participate within its pages or perish.

Women's Magazines on News Stand

So, what happens now after a century of published Brand building and recognition?

Reinvention is calling. Every corporate identity designer, editor and photo-journalist is reimagining their art form.

Today, iPad is the publisher and the iconic branded mast heads of the past are now chapter headings.

That of course is all going to change. What fun it will be to see how it manifests itself and which brands retain their resonance and relevance.

Click here to read more: http://www.apple.com/ipad/ready-for-ipad/

Don’t look now, but the iPad just stole your brand.

By | Branding, New Media | No Comments

Don’t look now, but the iPad just stole your brand.

Lines this weekend stretched for blocks around stores in New York and Los Angeles. 700,000 units are estimated to have been sold. That’s a big number. Everyone is talking about it as a technology and social phenomena.

Not since 1450 has technology become such a cultural event. Back in its day, moveable type was a revolutionary technology: it recorded the Renaissance, Reformation and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy to education and inform the masses.

But, in 1450, it was about ideas. Not the paper it was printed on or its packaging. There is the issue and the problem. The iPad is only the package and it has superseded the content and the power of the print brand.

Today it’s about the packaging, not content.

We seem to like this process. Remember when Vaudeville was repackaged? They called it Radio and when it was repackaged it became television.

If you are a journalist, a writer or an artist, are you losing your voice to repackaging?

In an attempt to deliver “eye candy” for the sake of attention, are we commoditizing the value of the message? When did content, that was king, become the present?

Don’t let the creative get in the way of your message and commoditize your brand.

iPad ABC iPad NPR iPad Men's Health

Publications dedicated to print and digital media, need to protect their Intellectual Capital, not simply repurpose it in another medium. In doing so they are diluting their core brand .

iPad USA Today iPad WSJ

You keep score. Media brands on the iPad from Day one.


How should I leverage new technology to enhance my core brand?

Here is a review of the current status. Click here to read more.