The “Falling Man” Ad: In Bad Taste or Creative Genius?

This is the poster promoting the fifth season of the popular American cable television series “Mad Men“:

Some call it a “teaser trailer.” Do you feel teased? Do you?

I used to watch the series religiously when it first debuted. It’s quite an intelligent commentary on the the social mores of 1960s America. Don Draper is the series protagonist. I thought he was quite dapper and the man about town until he got into trouble. (Just watch the series) Don works at an ad agency on Madison Avenue. I no longer own a TV and other interests have consumed me so I don’t watch Don on Madison Ave anymore, but I saw a mention of this poster in one of my news feeds tonight so I thought I’d give it some attention.

Artistically, I like it because it is different from a lot of other graphically saturated posters. It has a strong minimalist design. But the poster has been in the news lately because of its perceived message. Some have it called “offensive”, suggesting a visual reminder of 9/11. More specifically, reminiscent of The Falling Man photograph. Do you think the creator of the ad intentionally wanted to suggest such an association? After all, the networks are promoting the premier of a television series. The job of any advertiser is to ignite curiosity and interest. As in “I want to know more.” Do you think the maker(s) of this ad consciously created imagery suggestive of The Falling Man? If you knew they did, would you still be encouraged to tune in?

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The StartUp World: Buzz Words and Terrible Elevator Pitches

I just got an assignment for another one of my Stanford Startup business classes which starts next week. The assignment is “to find a really bad description of a company”. This is also called a terrible elevator pitch. My instructor posted an example from a student:

(Company X) is an enterprise social media internet cloud company that enables user-created, annotated, and self-published media. Users personify areas with dynamic and rich content, complete with web 2.0 modalities. “

Huh? This is not clear, concise communication. (I’m scratching my head.) Who are they targeting? What do they really do and how do they make money?  I call this Buzzword Barfing. If you are trying to build a tech related business, have you tried explaining it to non-technical, ordinary people? Do they understand you? If you are still not clear on what a buzz word is, just visit a LinkedIn resume.

I see and hear buzz words all the time, everywhere. I’m even guilty of using them.  This brings me to another thought which poses the question: What is the difference between “buzz words” and “jargon”. I looked it up in Wikipedia but was confused by their explanation. So I Googled it and found a more clear and concrete opinion about it here: Jargon Good. Buzzwords Bad.

This assignment makes me think of the way we communicate daily with each other as human beings. Would we become better communicators if we tried really hard to use less words to convey a thought? Is concise communication the road to better relations? In any case, let’s choose our words carefully.

Lesson One: Why Social Media Experts are Idiots

This post is for the entrepreneur or aspiring one. Guy Kawasaki worked for Apple and Steve Jobs twice. He learned some things. He shares Twelve Lessons with you that he learned from Steve Jobs. Here is the YouTube video of that presentation which was given after Mr. Jobs’ passing. It’s about 47 minutes long. I will summarize each lesson in twelve entries or if you want to listen to its entirety here it is:

Lesson One: Mr. Kawasaki thinks that experts are clueless. Especially the “social media experts” or the “social media gurus.” If someone tells you that they are one of these, run the other way. Experts can’t help you. They are arrogant and will just tell you to do the better sameness. They are disconnected from customers. Steve Jobs did not listen to experts. In fact, experts listened to him. As entrepreneurs, you are supposed to figure it out for yourself. Social media has allowed you to get close to people and influencers very fast. Use it correctly and learn something.