2009 Sessions

We asked respected people from fields such as product design, film making, game design and politics to help teach some of us what they know. And to help this feel even less like one advertising person lecturing to another, we’ve organized the sessions into workshops, not speeches.  Each session (link to list of speakers/sessions) will consist of:

–     30-45 minutes of teaching

–     45 minutes to 1 hour of you putting that into practice

–     20-30 minutes of evaluation and discussion

Here’s some detail on some of the sessions and the titles of others (we’ll keep adding details as we get them):

How to design a successful applications
Nick Baum – Google

The best applications work without the user ever having to think about how to use them. And yet, such simplicity is almost always the result of a long and thoughtful design-process. Using Google Chrome as an example, this presentation will examine how teams at Google design products that are used by millions of users worldwide. We will discuss how to make features discoverable, intuitive and delightful, as well as how to organize a team to continuously deliver innovative design.

How to Market When Everyone is a Minority
Larissa Acosta – Alma DDB                          Eva Hasson – Y&R Tel Aviv

The 2010 US Census will reveal that the concept of what we know as the
“average American” has been replaced by a complex, multidimensional societythat defies simplistic labeling.  The  US has become a truly multiculturalnation where today’s niches will become the tomorrow’s “mainstream”. Thissession will briefly explore some of the key demographic trends that the 2010 census will reveal and highlight multicultural best practices learned from Israel,  a country where the “mainstream” represents only 50% of the total population.

How to do Connections Planning in 2009
Jason Oke Gareth Kay – Goodby Silverstein Partners

Connections Planning. Depending on who you ask, it’s the next big thing in brand communications, or a 10-year old discipline that never really took hold, or a planning fad that’s run out of steam. Maybe those descriptions each hold part of the truth. But clearly after years of discussion, there’s still no consensus on exactly what Connections Planning is, what it means, why it’s important, or how it’s done.

This session will look at what Connections Planning means in 2009. How does it relate to our evolving ideas about brands & media? How does it relate to disciplines like user experience planning and experience design? Is Connections Planning a core skill that every planner should be versed in? Or should it be a whole separate discipline? Or is it just a passing planning fad we can forget?

This talk doesn’t aim to have all the answers. Jason and Gareth will share some experiences and observations, and then conduct an interactive workshop where the group will discuss & collectively agree on a set of principles for the future of this discipline.

How to create advocacy and conversation

Frank Striefler – MediaArts Lab

People don’t trust companies. People don’t trust brands. People trust each other.

Creating brand advocacy has never been more important. We rely even more heavily on WOM during a recession and people are now empowered with the tools to communicate with each other with or without brands involvement. But brand advocacy must be the responsibility of the entire company, not just marketing. Don’t build your advocacy and social marketing programs without a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Not only will this session gives you the reasons for this new brand mantra but also practical answers for the question on how to get your brand recommended and into the cultural conversation. We will start by sharing principles, insights, resources and tools before rolling up our sleeves for a work session on real brands: your brands. Email me at frank@mediaartslab.com if you would like to suggest the brand you work on to be brainstormed & ideated around. Warning: if your brand is chosen, you’re volunteering to lead your group during the work session.

How to Use Semiotics: Unlock the Brand Codes
Dr Ramona Lyons, Amanda Miller, John Wise – Flamingo

Semiotics is the study of how we create, use and transform meaning in culture, both consciously and unconsciously. It examines how things are endowed with meaning, and how it is processed and ultimately understood.

Branding and marketing hinges upon the usage ‘symbols’ in the construction of ‘meaning’. Symbols are used throughout art, culture, advertising, and design. We use them to communicate what things ‘stand for’.

This How To session hosted by Flamingo International will give you a brief introduction to commercial semiotics – the application of semiotic techniques for commercial activities- a session that will help you understand what it is, why it can be an invaluable tool for planners and marketers, and how these techniques are applied.

To illustrate the power of commercial semiotics, we will have several breakout exercises so you can iteratively apply your newly learned knowledge in situ. This will be a very hands-on learning session where each exercise will ladder up to more sophisticated skills – initially we will isolate the “codes” of how a brand presents and represents itself in advertising and then stretch your expertise by applying semiotics to digital technology. Please join us in a fun, hands-on, kick butt session that offers invaluable practical tools to for pitches, competitive analysis and thinking about culture through a different lens!

How to (really) design a successful user experience into a product
Nasahn Sheppard – Smart Design         Nellie Hsu Ling – Design Planner

Over 75% of all new product and service introductions fail. Why? What insights led to the design of the best selling OXO measuring cup?  How did the Flip camcorder capture 20% of the market in less than a year?  What development process resulted in the bestselling HP Photosmart printer line?

This workshop will highlight key principles of the design process that result in greater, more tangible impact on the user experience.  We’ll examine how design thinking can inspire successful products and meaningful innovation.  We’ll take these tools and explore how to create more meaningful user experiences together.

How to help organizations pay attention to culture

Grant McCracken – MIT

The corporation is good at many things: management, finance, marketing, technology.  It still pretty much sucks when it comes to culture.  The price tag is high.  Not understanding culture recently cost Quaker, Levi-Strauss, and Best Buy $3.1 billion collectively.  The corporation needs to treat culture as a new core competence.  And this will not happen until it puts someone in the C-Suite who understands culture through and through.  This presentation is designed to examine, in a collaborative way, how planners can prepare themselves to become CCOs and how they can prepare to work with CCOs once in place.

How to create a good  game
Ken Eklund, Game director of World Without Oil and Green21

Games bring together people of all kinds in a shared activity that can lead to collaboration, peer learning, imaginative play, and transformed perception of self and brands. But who cares, mainly they’re just fun. How does a game designer create fun experiences? What needs to happen to transform a series of interactions into a game or a series of tasks into an loyalty-forging adventure? And what’s with these new ‘alternate reality games’ that are springing up everywhere? And these serious games that are shaking the foundations of how we teach, learn and organize? Again, who cares, let’s play.

How to plan in the 21st century
Adrian Ho, Rob White – Zeus Jones

While the understanding of new-marketing and new-branding is growing quickly, especially amongst the planning community, the tools of our craft are woefully outdated. This session aims to:

  • Highlight some of the biggest differences between modern branding and traditional branding
  • Show how traditional planning tools actually prevent the creation of modern brands and modern marketing
  • Get everyone engaged in helping to create the tools for the next generation of planners
  • Publish the results as a toolkit and a wiki for planners everywhere to use, shape and contribute.

How to build a successful web experience?
Garry Tan – Co-Founder, Posterous.com

Creating a new consumer web experience requires a panoply of critical elements. We will peel the onion on the things that count for creating online communities using lessons learned while building Posterous.com, one of the fastest growing hosted publishing platforms on the Internet. What are the basic elements of visual design that every creator should know? How does what it looks like intersect with how usable it is?

Once you answer those questions, the product is only half the battle. Plenty of websites flounder because nobody ever sees it. To create a contemporary online product that spreads like wildfire organically, you’ve got to be fanatical with real person-to-person support and rabid on product iteration. Experience doesn’t end at the web browser — it reaches deep into the hearts and minds of your users.

How to experiment on the Web?

Bud Caddell, Clay Parker-Jones – Undercurrent

Learning by doing: great. Learning by experimenting: better. Small Matters is a session devoted to designing digital experiments that can help you get smarter about how people interact with online experiences. We’ll talk about some of our own experiments, highlight examples of good thinking, and then break into groups to design a series of experiments to be built by our network of developer buddies. Results of all the experiments will be available to Planningness attendees, so if you have something you want to test on the internets, show up and be heard.

How to Use Grassroots Organizing Techniques to Sell Anything and Change the World (Or Just Your Life)
Mary Jane Robinson, Emily Duncan – Organizing For America

As human beings, we are motivated to act by the stories we tell each other.

So what’s your story?

Learn how to capture the power of public narrative and the art of leadership through storytelling; and claim authorship of your story, because, believe it or not, you have a powerful one.

President Barack Obama mastered the art of personal storytelling during his historic Presidential campaign. Now his political field organization, Organizing for America, is teaching the tools of the trade to grassroots organizers around the country. This is your chance to develop and tell the story of your product, your company or your life — and get your target audiences to take action.

You’ll leave this workshop with your very own elevator speech for moving hearts and minds, plus tricks for how to answer difficult questions and make those hard asks.

How to make a good documentary?
David Brown – Filmmaker

Three-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, David L. Brown, has produced 80 productions and 11 broadcast documentaries on a variety of subjects over a 37 year career.   He will discuss and show excerpts from his two best-known documentaries, “Surfing for Life” and “The Bridge So Far – A Suspense Story.”   Knowing that more and more companies are using longer-form documentary-style productions for marketing, his focus will be on conceiving, planning and structuring an innovative and entertaining documentary story.   He will touch on videography, interviewing and post-production strategies leading to a script.   Participants will be given an assignment to complete during one hour of the two hour presentation.

How to tell a good story
Joe Lambert – Center for Digital Storytelling

Are you a storyteller?  Everyone knows the power of story, but the essentials of great storytelling still seem elusive.   How do you combine emotional resonance with communicating ideas, what gives meaning to a moment in time, how can I structure a story to engage and surprise my audience.  Digital Storyteller Joe Lambert will share his Elements of Storytelling and take the group through two short exercises to focus in on the essential storytelling skills.

How to do Stand Up Comedy

Emily Reed – OIA    Adam McClaughlin  – Comedian

Telling a joke is one of the most powerful ways to spread an idea. It’s a little message package that’s easy to pass on. In fact, both comedy and advertising are trying to get people to do something (whether it be laugh or spend money) by looking at things in a different way.
In this workshop, professional comedian Adam McClaughlin, will teach us how to find a decent premise, add the attitude, find the funny zone and generally avoid being a hack.  Strategist Emily Reed, of Open Intelligence Agency (who spent a year doing stand-up open mics) will help translate these learnings into strategy-land along the way.

How to Build Your Career like You Build Your Brands

Stephanie Redeiner – The Talent Business

Now more than ever, the world needs smart and creative people to shake things up. Despite the crumbling economy, and dwindling job openings there has never been a better opportunity for people to create the career they want. The hard part is, knowing how to do it.

Career management is like brand management. We need to nurture ourselves like we nurture our brands, because if we don’t, the market will do it for us.

In this workshop, Stephanie will tell you stories from the other side, show you how to turn your job into your career and hopefully leave you inspired to go after what you’ve been dreaming about all along.


How to run a political/grassrots campaign
How to build a chief culture offcer
How to save the world
How to design a good game
How to start a conversation
How to design a good product
How to launch an OS
How to map behavior change
How to help a company survive the recssion
What connection planning means in 2009
How to best use a medium / fit a brand with the right opportunity
How to do stand up comedy
How to design digital epxeriences
How to tell a good story
How to use semiotics
How to make a good documentary
How and why you should replace a creative brief
How to distribute video on the web
How to market content in the age of free
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