Archive for January, 2011

Narratives of a fictional nature – or – my reading on Sunday

This coming Sunday, January 30th, I will be participating in a fiction reading at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village.

Here’s the “official” notice of the event:

Please join Thaddeaus Rutkowski and Jeff Lee (co-hosts) at Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, on Sunday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m. for selected readings from Many Mountains Moving. There will be six readers: Erik Ipsen, Minter Krotzer, Mindy Lewis, R.C. Ringer, Renato Rosaldo and Hal Sirowitz.

The reading, which takes place in the performance space downstairs, begins promptly at 6 p.m. and will end before 8 p.m.; doors open at 5:45, $7 cover includes 1 drink. For those who would like to eat dinner afterward, Cornelia Street Café, at street level, is an excellent restaurant.

Many Mountains Moving:

Many Mountains Moving

Narrative Marketing meet Narrative Medicine

The purpose of Narrative Marketing — as we practice it through narrative branding(R) — is to close the distance between a person and a brand, through use of narrative techniques including storytelling and metaphors.

Narrative is transforming other areas of our lives, in ways profound and fundamental.  One is medicine — Narrative Medicine.

I had the most fortunate coincidence on Monday to witness, to participate in an information session about Columbia University’s MS program in Narrative Medicine.   And ad about it in the New Yorker caught my eye at 3 pm, by 4 pm I had signed up online and at 6 pm I was on campus to learn, “what the heck is narrative medicine”?

And learn I did.

This initiative is lead by the fabulous Rita Charon, MD, PhD.  She has recognized the role that narrative plays in closing the distance between patient and physician; between physician and physician; between family and physician.

Dr. Charon coined the phrase Narrative Medicine back in 2000.  She’s written extensively about this, including an article in the JAMA October 17, 2001, Vol 286, No 15.  And it has been written up in many publications such as the NY Times.

Narrative Medicine in JAMA

It is tremendously exciting to see how the power of narrative, and narrative interpretation, is shaping the most advanced fields of science and medicine.  A story has the power to change the very course of a person’s life.

Is social media recklessly ruining brand reputations?

Any brand can get into trouble, often for reasons completely out of the blue.  The question is not “if” but “when”.

Nobody wants to be a case study like Tropicana or Gap’s logo recall.

Be prepared.

This coming Thursday, learn how JetBlue dealt with the fall-out from their flight attendant, Steven Slater, going awol down an emergency slide.  How did they handle the immediate attention of all media, all over the world?  Was twitter a lifesaver or a sore point?

Erich Joachimsthaler will present new research on Social Currency.  Can it provide some protection to brands when a crisis hits?

And the incomparable Kirk Stewart will give us the new rules for handling brand crises in the world of social media.


“Is Social Media Creating Brand Crises: The Role of Social Currency”
Kirk Stewart,
Executive Vice President at APCO Worldwide, former head of Corporate Comms at Nike
Jenny Dervin
, Director of Corporate Communications at Jetblue Airways,
Erich Joachimsthaler, Founder and Managing Partner at Vivaldi Partners
Moderated by NYAMA Board Member Randall Ringer, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Verse Group
Thursday, January 20th 6:00-8:00 pm at the Ney Center, Y&R Building (285 Madison Avenue)
Register online at


Sign up now at    If you aren’t yet a member of the NYAMA, then use the code VIPBRAND for a special discount for readers of this blog.

See you there!


It pays to know the code!

More good news about the NYAMA event on January 20th.  You can get a discount when you use the following promotional code:


Register at as a non-member and then put in the code where it says Promo Code on the payment page.  If anyone asks, tell them the secret password:  Randall sent me

What’s a marketer to do – or – Navigating a brand crisis in the rough seas of social media

Mark the date on your calendar.  January 20th.  6 to 8 pm.  Or better yet, go to and sign up!

Join me when 3 terrific marketers share their experiences managing brand reputation in the age of social media.  I’ll be the emcee of the evening’s event.

The headliners:

Kirk Stewart, EVP of APCO Worldwide (and former head of Corp Comms at Nike)

Jenny Dervin, Director of Corporate Communications at JetBlue Airways

Erich Joachimsthaler, Founder and Managing Partner at Vivaldi Partners.  Author of the award winning “Hidden in Plain Sight”

Any brand can find itself tossed about in the sea of social media.  Just look at Starbucks in last week’s New York Times (see my previous blog post).  Or Gap.  Or Tropicana.  You don’t have to have a BP or Toyota sized problem to find your brand being tweaked on twitter.   We’ll have a lively conversation about some very high profile branding events, with first hand reports from Kirk, Jenny and Erich.

Kirk is on the front line of brand reputation in his role at APCO.  Before joining APCO he was at Nike, dealing with brand crises ranging from protests over child labor to star athletes getting into trouble — Tiger Woods type of trouble.

Perhaps we can convince Jenny to tell us the inside story of what kind of chaos was created last August when a flight attendant, Steven Slater, made his dramatic exit down the slide from a JetBlue plane.

Erich will share insights into Social Currency, based on Vivaldi’s new study.  You might have seen it written up in Fast Company a few months ago.  And I’ve been told that there will be complementary copies of Erich’s Hidden in Plain Sight.  The book won the AMA/Berry Prize, among other honors.

So, sign up at and come join us on January 20th.  This is being held at the Ney Center at Y&R (285 Madison Avenue).  Best to sign-up in advance, since there is limited seating.

The doors open at 6 pm for networking and refreshments.  The main event begins promptly at 6:30 pm.


Welcome to the Decade of Narrative Marketing

Marketing is undergoing a transformation.

Marketing is being re-invented.

The so-called “22 immutable laws of marketing” have mutated.  They’ve been broken.  Now they are being repealed.

Bold moves by companies such as Samsung, Apple, Google, Hyundai, Adidas, JetBlue and McDonald’s — to name some of the most visible ones — are re-writing the marketing playbook.

The innovation is coming from the corporate side and from bold thinkers .  To name just a few — Douglas Holt, Marc Gobé, Gerald Zaltman, Larry Light, Joan Kiddon, Joseph Plummer, Jae Hang Park.  There are many others.   We can all learn from the example of Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, who is continually seeking a better framework for marketing as the world evolves (Marketing 3.0 is his newest explanation of this third wave in reinventing marketing).

The future of marketing is built on a better understanding of how the human mind works.  The future of marketing is based on new learning into the sheer power of metaphors and story telling to shape the very way we understand the world.  It is based on the breakthroughs being made by neurologists who are able to study our brains in ways unimaginable 15 years ago.  fMRI and other technology are opening new windows into our brain, giving us a better view of what happens inside.   This is not a tale from a Avatar or some other 3-D science fiction film.  It is well-known from the work of Steven Pinker, Oliver Sacks and others.

The future of marketing is based on the simple principle of co-creation.  That means the consumer is central to the process. It recognizes the essential role consumers have in co-creating meaning and value.

The future of marketing includes that essential 4th dimension — time.   It will no longer look at the world in a 2 x 2 grid.  It is flexible, dynamic.   New marketing will replace old marketing the way that steel replaced iron; the way that LCD flat screen TVs replaced vacuum tube TVs

The future of marketing embraces technology as a strategy, not just an execution.  The new new thing –QR codes, social media, hyperlocal marketing — the technologies of the moment will continuously change.  Marketing will break down the internal silos that agencies & corporations erect around the digital world of online and mobile to separate them from the analog world of TV and Radio.  The future of marketing looks at the ways a story jumps from one medium to another, the way a book becomes a movie becomes a Broadway musical becomes a video game becomes a theme park attraction becomes an app, becomes an iPad iBook, becomes….

The past of marketing is static (position), focused on the competitor (different) and not the consumer, reductive, minimalist, simplistic to the point of trying to summarize everything into a single word.

The future of marketing is narrative.  It will:

A) Tap the power of metaphor and story telling

B) Co-create

C) Be alive, living in time

E) Embrace new technology to tell stories in new ways

1/1/11 is the start of the Decade of Narrative Marketing.  The future is an open book.  Go ahead, write the next chapter.

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