Agency on Record
Jason Ocker & Mike Colombo
Mike Colombo and Jason Ocker from the digital agency Maark discuss creativity and technology in a commercial world. Except it gets a lot messier than that. A weekly podcast from the agency's headquarters in Boston.
The Customer Experience shouldn't be silo'd into sales, marketing, product, and customer service. It should all be unified within a continuum of digital experiences. It's time for marketing to stop taking orders and start serving the long term vision of the customer's experience at every touchpoint. Mike and Jason just want to press "0" for the operator.
We started a cross-education program at Maark, with subscriptions to Treehouse for employees to expand their skillsets and to MasterClass to stoke their personal curiosity. Continuing education is a no-brainer, but how well do these platforms work for it? Mike and Jason want all their teachers to fit in little boxes on screens.
Sure, we all love movie theaters. They're nostalgic. And a chance to leave our screens at home for a screen somewhere else. But now that they're closed, do we need them anymore? Or is VOD to our 4K TVs a more profitable model for movie studios and a good enough experience for most movie-lovers? Mike and Jason are just glad Bill and Ted 3 isn't getting pushed to 2021.
Technicolor is bankrupt, and a big part of its business was visual effects. Their client list is impressive, as is their work, and yet, the margins for VFX are thinner than old pants. Is it the software conundrum? That clients don’t understand the true cost of innovation? Mike and Jason think whichever digital artists created Godzilla: King of the Monsters should be millionaires.
Blockbuster Video went from 9,000 stores across the country to 1 store in a decade. Movies and video games couldn't be more relevant, so how did Blockbuster fall so hard and so fast? The answer isn't Netflix. It's a failure at digital transformation. Mike and Jason miss Friday nights under the blue and yellow lights.
We talk to a founding father of Maark, Johnny Boursiquot, to learn about Maark in its early days and why he believes it's important for developers to own product experience instead of just delivering it.
The worst sports team is still probably marketing better than you are. Whether it's escalating narratives, brand management, or content marketing, sports is the best school to learn from. Mike and Jason just wanted to give the XFL that second chance.
Alexandra Watkins is obsessed with brand naming. From her naming agency Eat My Words to her book, "Hello, My Name is Awesome," she believes in the commercial power of a great name and the horror of a bad. We talk about her process, how to make such a subjective task more objective, and why a good brand name is so important to success. Mike and Jason just want to rename everything now.
U.S. National Pride Falls to Record LowsThe American Story, Splintered, and Those Vying to Tell It
We hear a lot about empathy in design, empathy on the socials, and it seems to be considered a universal good. But is empathy that great? Does it actually lead to subpar work or, worse, bias and prejudice instead of protecting against that? Mike and Jason just want us all to be Deanna Trois.
With everyone in quarantine, entertainers and media personalities who usually rely on highly produced video content to create their experiences have been forced into creating low-fi experiences that any schlub could create...and it's made culture a lot more interesting for the time being. Mike and Jason just want to see a "Cheers in Zoom" reunion.
Transforming the LEGO Group for the Digital Economy. An MIT Paper.
Our new state of emergency illustrates exactly why Twitter taken seriously is bad for society. It's full of misinformation and low-word-count opinions passed around at the speed of RTs, it taints and replaces legitimate journalism, and it tempts scientists and politicians to further their individual brands instead of the truth. Any information propelled by a like mechanism should be immediately suspect. Mike and Jason just want to Twitter to focus on what it's best at: drunk tweets.
We check in from our respective fortresses of solitude for some possibly too-candid thoughts about living and working through this pandemic, where health concerns are scary, the economy is scary, but the unknowns are probably the most mentally trying. Mike and Jason just want to visit their barbers.
The core craft of marketing is storytelling. And the way you figure out a story, and the way to practice that craft, is through writing. Is that arguable? We argue it in this episode. Mike and Jason just want to make storytelling cool again.
Conferences are being cancelled, nonessential travel is being curtailed, stocks are diving, industries are being hit--the coronavirus is really doing a number on the business world. In this episode, we discuss its impact and how Maark is dealing with it. Mike and Jason just wanted to go to Adobe Summit.
Brand New breaks down the rebrand.Fast Company likes that the new Godaddy logo gets out of the way.
The Iowa Caucus voting app debacle is the latest in a string of high-profile software failures that illustrate that there is still a widespread, fundamental misunderstanding of how software is built, how hard it is to build, what its risks are, and how to mitigate them. Mike and Jason just like how much fun it is to say "caucus" during a podcast.
Part two in our quest for quality software experiences finds us discussing whether or not the old "build vs. run" model applies in a world bent on constant innovation. We learn from Boeing's experience that cheap software has consequences. Mike and Jason just want jets that never leave the ground.
Good design has mostly been commoditized. And that's because great design is super-hard to execute on. And that falls on the front-end engineers, who are, in the end, responsible for the ultimate quality of an experience and whether it will be used or trashed. Mike and Jason just humans to be better at software.
The Edelman Trust Barometer...Itself.
Over the past year or so, we've seen the industry shift from modernizing their web stacks to pulling value out of those stack, and first on the list seems to be personalization. Yup. It's time for that topic. Mike and Jason just want to stop being chased around the Internet by the same ads because we looked at that lamp one time on Amazon.
Martin Scorsese's New York Times Op-Ed
What does it take to be a marketing leader? Executing on the CEO's priorities? Embracing your own vision for the company's story? Should there be friction between the CMO and the CEO? Is marketing about standing out internally as much as it is standing out on the market? Mike and Jason just want to play Game of Thrones with the C-suite.
You can't market technology without the word "innovation." And, yet, few organizations actually want it, fewer organizations still care to invest in it, and, quite possibly, it means nothing. So why is the word so important? Mike and Jason just want to stop being forced to use the word in messaging projects.
Failure is a slippery word in the industry. Few admit it. Expectations are lowered until it's irrelevant. Project outcomes are spun. Goal posts are moved. So what is failure? Even more important, what is success, both objectively for a project and subjectively for the person who takes pride in their work and wants the best product to go out there. Mike and Jason apparently know too much about failure.
Decision fatigue has always been an issue in business, but now it's an exponentially worse threat thanks to instant communication channels like Slack. Every one of those red dots is someone asking you a question...that you need answer instantly or break the flow of business. Mike and Jason just want to flip coins.
But Who Will Deliver the Creative?: A Response to Forrester's Idea of Moving Budget from Technology to Creative
Forrester recently showed that brands are achieving no differentiation in the market due to the homogeneity of everyone's digital experiences, and suggested that to combat the trend, 20% of technology budgets should be sent to creative. This sounds good in theory, especially for creatives and brands, but it might actually mean that everybody's screwed. Mike and Jason just want, well, the same thing Forester wants, but know the reality of execution and delivery.
It's a classic debate in the marketing world: When do you build the team to tackle all the various elements of marketing and when do you outsource? Today, that debate is much more complicated thanks to how technology is rebuilding marketing's role in the business. Mike and Jason just want you to remember that Maark is available for outsourcing.
The marketing around (and inside of) Stranger Things Season 3 was wild and brazen and so far unabated and could be a portent for the future of marketing. But we mostly discussed what we liked/didn't like about Season 3. Mike and Jason still can't get the theme from The Neverending Story out of their heads.
AdAge article on the disappearing CMO. AdExchanger article on the disappearing CMO. CNBC article on the disappearing CMO.
The Havard Business Review article on solving brainstorming with brainwriting that kicked off this whole conversation.
What do you need to start designing a digital experience? The content? How much of it? An outline? Full text? Can it be placeholder? Or should design dictate content? The amount of it? The flow? Can't design make general containers to fill with content later? Actually, it's not a chicken or the egg question. It's also not as simple as "both." It's a strategy question. That's right. The dreaded "S" word. Mike and Jason just want designers and content owners to get along.
With digital, the focus has always been on creating elegant experiences, and the socials often reward the most polished presentations of our lives. But a new generation is growing up that sees that level of sophistication as corporate and inauthentic and is drawn to low-fidelity aesthetics that will impact design, marketing, and how we interact digitally. Mike and Jason just want to know how to connect with their kids.
Read this article about tiger teams on the Maark blog.
The Three R's: http://revthink.com/the-three-rs/
We frequently reference this episode with Chris Link: https://aor.maark.com/episode/writers-should-be-strategic-to-the-business-a-conversation-with-christopher
This week we had an Apple event launching the company into the services biz and Adobe Summit, the company known for its super-expensive enterprise software. One still doesn’t quite totally make sense as a biz model, the other makes so much sense it’s terrifying. Mike and Jason just want to know what happens at the end of all this land-grabbing.
Want to see the wolf? Check out the shiny new Maark website.
Your intrepid podcast hosts, along with Maark Creative Director Alex Carr, return from the Land of Switzers after attending Digital Design Days. They discuss their impressions and conclusions on the conference, the presenters, and the work they saw. Mike and Jason just want to fondue themselves forever.
In the second episode of a two-part interview with Anders Brownworth, we learn that his personal life is as intriguing as his professional life in cryptocurrency. Brownworth is actively training for the goal of being one of the first civilians in space. IN SPACE. Mike and Jason just want space travel to be as easy as it is in Gattaca.
Check out Anders Brownworth's website here: https://andersbrownworth.com/
A frank discussion on how Maark balances a large, complex workload, generous PTO, and company growth, all while being a small, nimble agency that gets things done. Mike and Jason just want those four-day work weeks that are all the rage.
The Covington Catholic High School story reveals how bad Twitter is for journalism. And when journalism is harmed, everybody suffers. Mike and Jason just want to stop doing episodes about Twitter's negative effects on society.
Cable TV still is the dominant way most people get their media, but statistics show a large trend of both people leaving cable for streaming services and entire generations not even knowing what cable is in the first place. What does this mean for media and the marketers vying for audience attention? Mike and Jason just wish TV was a punchline again so that they could leave their houses.
We look back at the past year at Maark and the past year of Agency on Record and what's on the horizon for both in 2019. Mike and Jason just want to eggnog their way through the next two weeks.
We talk to senior producer and longest-running Maark employee Mark Van Der Hyde about balancing work projects and personal projects. Mike and Jason just want to surround themselves with people who do interesting things.
We welcome Christopher Link, the head of content at John Hancock Investments, to discuss how he built a team of writers into a formidably strategic asset for the company, one that does everything from protecting the brand story to making digital transformation possible. Mike and Jason just want writers to be cool again.