Posts Categorized: Thinking

Cyborg Marketing: Part 1

NOTE: This is the introduction of a whitepaper/manifesto that is currently in development. If you’d like a copy of the full whitepaper, please email

Cyborgs have a bad rap. In TV, literature, movies, etc., they’re depicted as more machine than human: automated, unfeeling, calculating. They are simultaneously attractive to humans, as they are human, and repulsive, as they are also machines. We are fascinated with their efficiencies and technology, and at the same time we are disgusted with their lack of humanity.

And we are frightened, of course, by them; they remind us of a possible future that, with all of our technology, may be impossible to escape. There is nothing natural about cyborgs—they are made and not born; and we fear we may lose our own natural state of humanity by giving into their technology.

And yet, that is essentially what we have done. Technology has been integrated into almost every facet of our lives.

The irony here is that for all our technology, we continue to strive to be more human. Rather, our technology allows us to be more human—to extend our humanity or even translate it into digital format. At least, to the extent we can. We suffer from a technologically-induced cultural Attention Deficit Disorder, jumping from shiny object to shiny object with little time devoted to stopping and smelling the roses. We bounce happily from Facebook post to YouTube clip to Tweet to email and back again, always feeling busy but never actually getting anything done.

Our technology is now an extension of ourselves. We are always on, always connected to each other…through our phones, our tablets, our laptops, our cars, our TVs, etc. More than ever, we are living in a mixed-medium world. That is, we simultaneously live in multiple worlds that are layered on top of each other like a palimpsest. We live in the real world that we experience through our bodies; we live in online worlds in numerous communities that we experience through our technology.

We live in a mobile world where virtual information is all around us, hidden from our human eye, yet visible through our cyborg eyes. Look up “Times Square” on Google Maps and you’ll see links to thousands of images, pictures uploaded by visitors from all over the world.

I have always contended that virtual communities have no meaning, no relevance, if it they do not impact real-world decisions. Now, everywhere we go, almost everything we look at has been somehow captured and imprinted into a server somewhere in the world. We have re-created Borges’ “Map of the Empire,” where every feature of everything is mapped out, only now it is in if only in small chunks spread across millions of computers around the world, each with our own individual imprint. The virtual community and the real-world overlap, coincide, exist simultaneously with references to each other.

What does this mean for brands and the people who market them? If consumers are cyborgs living multi-faceted lives that traverse the real and the virtual, then do we need to build cyborg brands that do the same? What is a cyborg brand? And what does it mean to be a cyborg marketer?

These are questions we hope to conquer in future posts. Resistance is futile!

Break out the champagne: Evolve is 1 year old!

This weeks marks a milestone for Evolve Communications. We’re celebrating our first full year in business!

We can hardly believe it. It’s been a great ride so far, thanks to our many great clients. We even received this “Brockelgram” from our good friend @baltimore21201 (i.e. Stephen Brockelman).

Not only did we survive our first year, but we’ve actually thrived even in this tough economy. It’s a huge credit to our fantastic clients, and the exciting projects they throw our way, that we’ve been successful.

A HUGE thank you goes to everyone who has supported Evolve Communications over the past year–either by hiring us, giving us sagely advice, encouragement and support.

We’re looking forward to year two and all the surprises, challenges and fun that come with it!

Should an Agency Tweet?

A few days ago, I was asked this interesting question in a meeting with a potential client. Actually, the prospect asked me if I tweet as Evolve Communications. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t. I tweet as myself.)

Up until recently, I held the belief that agencies should tweet. All the time. After all, it’s a way to establish connections, showcase work, and also establish a foundation for thought leadership (yes, I DO believe thought leadership can be accomplished in 140 characters). There’s certainly no shortage of ad agencies on Twitter.

I believed this until I attended the #140 characters conference in DC. During the panel discussion called Emergency 2.0, NPR social media strategist Andy Carvin was discussing a request for donations of food, clothing, etc. that he tweeted during the Haiti crisis. He tweeted through both his own personal account (@acarvin) as well as the NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) account. Andy has approximately 15,000 followers. NPR has close to two million followers. What happened next was fascinating.

Andy received more responses from his personal account than the tweet through the NPR account. This lead to the observation (I’m paraphrasing here) that the connection Andy has with his Twitter followers is much stronger–and possibly more powerful–than the connection between a mainstream media outlet and its followers. NPR, like many other news outlets of its stature, never interacts with its followers (to the frustration of many, I’m sure).

For all the talk of “engagement” and “conversation” that social media offers, it seems rare for mainstream media outlets to use it as such (side note: the fine people who manage the Baltimore Sun’s Twitter presence (@baltimoresun) do an excellent job of interacting with their followers on Twitter). Most of them still use it as a broadcast model.

Which brings me back to the question of whether or not an agency should tweet. After hearing Andy’s story, I say no. Let your people do it for you. They’re your best spokespeople. They’re the ones who either talk with clients every day, or produce amazing creative, or create powerful marketing strategies, or even pay the agency bills, or answer the phones. The human connection is what we are all striving for when using social media. Let people be people, I say.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a social media policy. More on that later.