This week's spicy brand-related must-reads:

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I just recently discovered Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni's blog, but it is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Check out this post about AT&T... ooops... at&t's decision to nix the Cingular brand and take over its wireless biz. (I am actually shaking my head right now.) I could sit here and write a ten-page essay on why that isn't a good idea at all, but Valeria beat me to it,complete with bits of commentary from Brandweek, Fast Company, Note To CMO, Steven Colbert (via Techno//Marketer), and The Viral Garden. Check it out here.

David Armano's Logic+Emotion continues to amaze by posting gold almost daily. Just this week, check out these posts about blogsourcing's effect on planning and innovation, Agile Creativity, Brand Affinity through stories and experience, and Macro Design. That blog is like candy for my brain.

Also check out Simple+Loveable's Support Ideas First - Critique Second, which elaborates on Seth Godin's observation earlier this week that "The devil doesn't need an advocate. The brave need supporters, not critics". Ah so. Good stuff if you work in a team environment.

The Jason's Recliner's Do Agencies Give A Shit? post outlining Jason's experience with brand planning as a freelance consultant.

And finally,Jaffe Juice's An ad Capable of destroying any loyalty or patronage in just one viewing, which spells out what everyone who recently endured the oddly creepy Orville Redenbacher clone meatpuppet cgi zombie-on-Red Bull creature featured in the pop corn giant's latest ad. The most amazing thing isn't that it was pitched in the first place... but that it got as far as to get aired. Also from Jaffe, this post which shares Max Kalehoff's 10 critical attributes and capabilities of what an agency of the year might look like:

  1. Foremost, agency staffers must be passionate about acting in the interest of consumers as much as they are in the interest of paying clients.
  2. The agency must drop tactical communications from its core positioning and instead embody the value of creating great experiences, with tactics following.
  3. The agency must embrace a world where paid media placements lose overall traction, and instead master the new currency of word-of-mouth, where reputation and propensity to recommend are earned.
  4. The firm must strive for everlasting client partnerships, not because of insatiable desire for ongoing revenues, but because it understands that programs which achieve deep, ongoing customer experiences and loyalty are incompatible with a start-peak-end model.
  5. An agency of the year should be one that first evaluates the client’s internal processes and culture, to ensure those dimensions optimize opportunities for greatness, not hamper potential.
  6. The agency must gain expertise in areas of innovation, product and customer service–versus solely on marketing communications.
  7. The firm will value institutional customer-listening as a core competency far more than institutional speaking.
  8. Enterprise creativity will stem not from a creative department, but collectively from a group of staffers with diverse disciplines, each with the ability to think creatively, abstractly and from different vantage points.
  9. The agency may get out of the advertising business, for the most part, and perhaps outsource the more tactical aspects.
  10. The agency increasingly will recognize and organize around you, the individual.

Cool stuff. Have a great Friday, everyone. :)

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