Archive for February, 2015



Oscars 2015: Snoozefest

Posted on: February 25th, 2015 by doyle

The Ceremony

It is not Neal Patrick Harris’ fault that the Oscars were terrible. He tried. It is an impossible job. Here are the problems with this year’s Oscars:

  1. Few people had seen the movies. When big budget pictures (Lord of the Rings, The Blind Side) are in the mix, there is more interest.13-1421141119-oscars-2015-best-picture-nominations
  2. Everything was overproduced. The production numbers extended an already dull broadcast (see point 1). Example: every year, famous movie people who have passed away over the past year are honored. Meryl Streep provided a moving intro, followed by the customary photo montage. All good. But then, the tribute was extended when Jennifer Hudson sang a post-tribute-tribute. They lost me for good when Lady Gaga performed a The Sound of Music Although to her credit Lady Gaga did a nice job, it’s hard to imagine two more incongruous singers than Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews, who gamely appeared to awkwardly thank Lady Gaga. The Lego Movie song “Everything is Awesome” should have been performed by, well, Legos. It started off this way, then live people got involved and the whole thing jumped the shark.
  3. Incongruous songs (“The Look of Love,” “Endless Love,” “Moon River”) were played each time presenters appeared. I kept thinking, what does this song have to do with these presenters? Then I figured it out – nothing. The producers were again trying to musicalize the Oscars, to bizarre effect.

Here is what I liked about this year’s Oscar ceremony:

  1. The opening production number. Bravo.
  2. The riff about Octavia Spencer guarding Neal Patrick Harris’ predictions, which I initially thought was awkward and pointless, was fun in the end when the predictions commented on the (relatively) interesting points in the ceremony (i.e. Terrence Howard was strangely emotional, John Travolta touched Idina Menzel’s face).
  3. The guy who accepted for Ida (foreign language film) kept at it, doggedly finishing his lengthy speech even as the orchestra tried to play him off. That this was a high point indicates a snoozefest of a ceremony

The Movies

Were good, not great. The Grand Budapest Hotel was my favorite film of those nominated but I am a Wes Anderson fan and I get that he is not everybody’s cup of tea. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything were similar movies, historically based films that were good, if somewhat plodding at times. Boyhood was really cool but let’s face it – it had no plot. And the fact that Birdman won Best Picture is the epitome of Hollywood naval gazing – let’s give an Oscar to a movie about actors! The movie had fantastic camera work and good performances, particularly by Edward Norton. But it made no sense. I can’t wait to see Whiplash, which was made in a month for a song and has great buzz. Still Alice is a Hallmark movie but Julianne Moore’s performance is incredible. Gone Girl should have been nominated for Best Picture, as it was very well done, but the Academy doesn’t view thrillers as award-worthy.

Why I am No Longer Going to Write About the Clothes

I have decided to hang up my hat on this topic. The Internet has enough haters. I am all over the campaign #askhermore, which is all about asking actresses about their work, and not their clothes. Actresses have legions of fashion and beauty professionals on hand to make sure they look fantastic, and for the most part succeed. Let’s stop carping about how they look. As Emily Nussbaum points out in her fantastic piece on Joan Rivers, Joan was a trailblazer, true, but a key part of her schtick involved tearing down other women. In 2012-2013 (the latest years for which this information is available) about 30% of all-on screen speaking characters in the top 100 films were women. And when it comes to directors, the story is much worse. Woman directors are a rarity in Hollywood despite some female studio heads. Read New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis’ excellent 3 part series on the topic.

As Neal Patrick Harris noted in the beginning of the ceremony, “moving pictures shape who we are.” And what they currently show is that it’s a man’s world. Think about movies like Django Unchained, in which there is a slew of great roles for men, and then there’s Kerry Washington, who’s stuck playing The Girl. Let’s work to change that by focusing on actresses’ work, instead of their looks.

Dear (Mom), are you even listening to me?

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by doyle

Dog-listeningFrom the desk of Chris Efken

As the mother of a teen, listening has heightened stakes. If I don’t listen carefully I miss the subtle insights into my son’s world — what his plans are on a Friday night, the due date of the next dreaded English paper, or the latest college he plans to attend (the one that likely has annual tuition in excess of $50,000!).

As marketers, listening also has heightened stakes. We seek to hear the voice of the consumer so our marketing efforts can be grounded in these insights.   Yet, whether we are focusing on consumer or shopper insights, we can inadvertently miss hearing, seeing (or perhaps even misinterpret) the information as a result of not fully listening to what consumers are both verbally and non-verbally communicating.

With so many distractions, all too often “fake listening” occurs. Whether listening for comprehension, empathy or judgment, we need to ensure that we don’t miss out on those elusive “Ah-has” or the key insights needed for product innovation and marketing plans.   To avoid some of the pitfalls associated with selective, biased listening or simply partial listening, let’s consider a listening tune-up by paying closer attention to the following when working with participants…

  • Listen with Unconditional Positive Regard—Strive to eliminate passing judgment by focusing on what’s being said rather than risking dismissing the learning based on a participant’s appearance or mannerisms.
  • Listen for critical content–Focus on the content of what’s being said, by stripping away and ignoring a consumer’s ums and ah’s.
  • Listen to both verbal and non-verbal communication to identify contradictions and/or understand the intensity of their feelings.
  • Be patient, listen for the complete story making decisions based on responses to a single question.
  • Listen to the answer you are receiving, rather than thinking about what you would like the moderator to ask next.
  • Listen to a comment in its entirety—Let a respondent finish his/her comment before reacting and jumping to a quick decision.
  • Be fully present when listening—Multi-tasking and distractions prevent us from hearing consumers’ entire product stories, keen insights and even potential new product ideas. Be fully present when listening to consumers or reading their online posts.

Great listening helps ensure we won’t miss that next big insight or product idea.