It's more than just an execution, it is a thought that works it's way through the whole brand.

Most of the time it's the other way around, you get a problem and the solution cannot go outside of a few media executions. More and more I'm gladly getting to work on positioning projects.

Robert Nightengale is an industrial designer and strategist who has designed past rOtring products. We got together and re-branded rOtring for their American re-launch. This positioning also became the new global brand.

 

Our manifesto for the brand states clearly that you must think, then create and that sketching after thinking is the best natural way to be creative.

 

Aside from strategy we also worked on print, PR, web, events, collaborations, social media and films. We also created a list of the top 100 creatives in the U.S. and sent them an 800+ as a thank you for their creative thinking.

 

A rOtring institute for learning was also created with the participation of top visual creatives explaining their process and teaching viewers a lesson in visual thinking.

Create and tell the story of company from the standpoint of the year 2024 looking back.

 I was brought in by the consultancy Yoxi to work with 10 social innovation companies that were in a NY Social Media Week competition. I would sit with another creative and the founders of the company. Over the course of a day we would find out their business plan, where they thought they were going and then run through what the future might throw at them. This all became a 3 minute script of a story for the competition that one of the founders had to present with accompanying visuals.  It was a great opportunity to dream with a bunch of start ups, though we always had to have drama and troubles in the stories to keep things interesting. The future isn't a cakewalk and it's the companies that can rise above that are the ones that people will respect.

Volo provides broadband ISPs in developing countries. We created the scenario of Korean unification and having Volo go into the North to get the up to western standards. We also came up with the verb "Volo'd" which they now use in their materials.

OpenGov is a platform for parsing government data then serving it up online for citizens in understandable language and charts. We thought that instead of going right or left wing we would create a 3rd party of the future called the Data Party. This would revolutionize government without spin or dogma.

After working on the 200th anniversary we landed on a project that focused on the next 200 years. Below are some of our concepts for the future.

THE CITIBANK PROGRESS INITIATIVE:

To commemorate 200 years of funding progress, Citibank is going to launch an annual initiative to identify the 200 most innovative companies and ideas in the world and honor them. Citibank will create an internal progress panel of futurists and analysts to identify the 200 companies. The companies selected in categories such as energy, medicine,  technology and education will have to have a proven track record of creating products, platforms and services that makes the world a better place. Being selected to the Citibank 200 will be an honor in and of itself and will launch with an awards show in Washington DC. Media buys surroundingthe event will announce the contenders and the final list will be as important as announcing the Forbes 500. Once the 200 companies are chosen, Citibank will identify two or three that get actual funding and assistance for their endeavors. These companies will be tracked on a Citibank Progress Initiative website and we will highlight their accomplishments as they go. We may even give consumers a chance to invest in a fund that supports these companies.

CITI IDEA LABS:Lets find and support great ideas where they are born, in schools. Citibank will create progress hubs at forward thinking colleges and universities. The hubs will allow students with innovative ideas to go inside and talk to experts on how to get their ideas off the ground. It will be like an Apple store for ideas. They will be able to bring their ideas in and get advice from experts on patenting, legal issues and proper funding. Across the country, campuses like MIT will have hubs where students with big ideas know they can go to with big ideas and get the support they need. The hub experts will provide them with the tools and channels they need to get financial backing and help.

CITIBANK'S 200 CRITICAL QUESTIONS:Great solutions come from great questions. Citibank will launch a project to identify the 200 most pertinent questions of our time. We will then turn them into opportunities for progress and change. Famous futurists and scientists will be consulted like Ray Kurzweil and Neil Degrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking. Each one will put forth his question that needs a solution or answer. We will also allow everyone else to submit their question through social networks and vote on the best ones. The people that come up with the best and most important questions will get their 15 minutes of fame. Sample questions:
  • How can we counter climate change without having to reverse it?
  • What is the applications of DNA decoding that can help end cancer? • What is the effects on the entertainment industry of file-sharing?
  • How can we use 3D Printing help build cost effective  cities of the future?
 Once the 200 most important questions are identified we will create special content and issues around them in magazines like Wired and Fast Company. There will be sponsored discussion about them on Ted Talks and with relevant hosts like Brian Lehr on WNYC or Charlie Rose. Everyone will then vote on which is the most important question and Citibank will then put time, funding and attention toward finding the solution to the question.

While I was at Grey they had the TED conference as a client. During the conference a few companies would put out marketing briefs and Grey would have one week to come up with ideas. Here are a few of mine.

 

Go back to the original green Coca-Cola, no corn, real sugar, original recipe, glass, time honored techniques, American made, all ingredients sourced local if possible. Make it in some original bottling locations if they still exist. Hire some retired folks to help run it and keep it real. This all makes the drink more green because of the reduction of transportation and use of recyclable glass. It will also make Coca-Cola special and somewhat bespoke again instead of the mass market soulless drink it has become. Show the people behind the creation of Coca-cola. Call it Coca-Cola original.What happened to all the old soda fountains that served original Coca-Cola? Open an original reproduction in Times Square. There used to be an art involved in creating a fountain drink, now robots do it, show the art again in an old-time soda fountain. Open them in the heartland... Have older folks that drank the original pre-1980’s Coca-Cola drink one and testify before camera that this is what they tasted like in 1932. Talk about the original process, support the act of recycling the bottles. Also the Japanese and other tourists will go crazy for it like they do for original Levis’ denim.COCA-COLA: Was looking for a green initiative.IDEA: Original Coca-cola. Exactly original.

Motorcycles psychologically can’t have anything to do with rationality, like being green. It’s about power, the future and being an object of attraction. This will eventually take a major cut out of gas motorcycles, it’s evolution and a new generation. Like the forward thinking design of TRON2, it’s what an 18-year old thinks about when they think of future cycles. Give Keanu Reeves, Ewan McGregor, and some other motorcycle enthusiast stars one. Always try and do tie-ins with Sci-fi filmsand give to the main actors, plus have special edition bikes for those films and tv shows. Never, ever say HORSEPOWER or MOTORCYCLE. These should be obsolete terms after this. Invent a new term for judging power on these. Invent a new term for the vehicle class. We don’t going around saying candlepower with LED’s. Make it last century to say horsepower and motorcycle.MISSION MOTORS: They make very advanced, fast electric motorcycles. They were looking for a green angle in their marketing.IDEA: Make gas motorcycles antiques.

 

I read about the Bill Gates mosquito stunt at TED where he released a jar of mosquitoes into the audience. Build glass cubes, put non-malaria mosquitoes in them and place them in shopping malls. Then have bald men go in for one minute for charity. Do a whole campaign with bald guys to asking the question: why has the world spent billions to research a cure for baldness when it hasn’t caused any deaths? The point being let’s spend our resources curing the life threatening diseases first, then get on to the ones that are not.THE BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Was looking for ways to promote their anti-malaria initiative.IDEA: Instead of  curing baldness, cure something that is worth it.Go after Detroit. Attack old thinking. Attack slow progress. Or you could package it as the less oil you buy the less money terrorism gets. A true patriot would drive an Aptera, not a Hummer. Blue stateor Red state, oil supports terrorism. Make the car patriotic, American ingenuity, not Detroit bailout hegemony. It’s not a green thing, it’s a Red, White and Blue thing.APTERA: Is a very futuristic 3 wheeled car. They were looking for a green marketing angle.IDEA: It’s not from Detroit. It’s from the future.KINDERGARTEN:Tie in with Webkins. If you don’t know Webkins it’s a massive online/offline game for 5-8 year olds and it teaches them sharing and how to be nice. In the Webkins world if you feed your pet a hamburger it will NOT be healthy, only healthy food (veggies, grains) make your pet healthy and better. There isn't a currency system involved yet. After Webkins work with E-Trade and some other real world partners to create a finance curriculum for schools, starting after the students know basic math. 3rd GRADE: SavingKids bring in there spare change and save for there class/grade at the grade school. They build this up in SAFE forms of investment; savings acct, 4 year bonds ... an E-Trade Account! 4th GRADE: Debt and LoansExplain these concepts by tying them to real world numbers... What is the community debt, the schools debt, localize it and understand it better. 5th GRADE: InsuranceWhy do people have it? Where did it come from? How does it help to take risks? Get the class to take a business risk supported by insurance.6th GRADE: TaxesHow much do your parents taxes go to your school? What is a write-off? 7th-8th GRADE: StocksUse the money from that was invested by the class back when they were in third grade to use in the stock market through the E-Trade Account. E-Trade would also conduct seminars to train teachers and parents about markets. 9th GRADE THROUGH GRADUATION:How to start a businessThis is the culmination of the previous years. We get students to start a business for the class then in their senior year one of their own. It could just be a small Etsy store. Also teach them to understand large and mid caps, international, money markets and how the world is interconnected through trade. There is a teacher in the Bronx that was on 60 min that did this with his students. Most couldn’t afford college and couldn’t wrap there heads around the abstract math needed. He taught them how to start a small business. A bunch did. One guy now has 15 food carts around NY and another student started a clothing line. All profits from the Everfi program should go to benefit the school or could be made a college fund for the kids involved, shares should be split up that way in each fund like a Corporation.EVERFI : They are an educational software company. They are trying to help students of all ages understand basic and advanced personal finance.IDEA: A new education curriculum that includes learning about money.