Jonathan Salem Baskin

Bright Lights Project -- Curate Like Museums Do

I had the incredible honor to spend the second half of 2011 as a Goldman Sachs Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. This was a dream come true for me, since I've been a museum fanatic since I was 7 or 8 years old (I had fantasies of hiding in the bathroom at Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry until it closed so I could spend all night playing with its humongous HO-scale train).

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Bust & Boom, Part II (The Oil Companies)

So the US domestic car business is picking up this year. No, it’s flying high, so much so that manufacturers are worried that they won’t be able to keep up with demand. I wrote earlier this week about how familiar this is...business is up, workers are rehired, marketers go about selling cars just like they’ve always sold them...until the economy changes, sales crash, employees are fired, and the cycle repeats.

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Bust & Boom, Part I (The Auto Industry)

The U.S. auto industry is heading for a banner year...so much so that there’s a question whether manufacturers will be able to keep up with demand, especially for trucks. Tens of thousands of people are being put back to work at auto plants and parts suppliers, not to mention the additional work available from everyone involved in the activities (from transportation to coffee shops along the way).

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Content Isn't Branding (continued)

“I hope your clients don’t read Ad Age,” quipped a comment at the end of my latest essay in which I said Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” movie was a great piece of entertainment, but that brands need to be built from behaviors, not image or content.

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Bright Lights Project - Avon

The news at Avon is not good. The company announced a fourth-quarter net loss earlier this month, it’s being investigated for possibly bribery in China, and it just let go its long-time CEO Andrea Jung (though kept her on as Chairman, with no responsibilities other than collecting a big fat paycheck). Avon’s sales in North America have slid every year since 2007, and its stock price is off 60% since its high in 2004.

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Look Out Any Window

Shakespeare was unconvinced that “seeing is believing,” as his plays and sonnets are filled with characters seeing things that aren’t real and missing things that are. Or maybe he knew that believers see as easily and convincingly as seers believe. Nothing is ever as it seemed in much of anything he wrote.

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Why Super Bowl Ads Suck

I know, they’re funny, and ads with animals and/or kids can't lose. Last night was a ritual for some of us to judge and compare the commercials during a football game that we otherwise wouldn’t have watched. We’re going to spend a few days enduring incessant “best of” lists, marketers will perform some complex gymnastics to explain why the spots are brilliant business strategy, and ad agencies will refer back to all this buzz when it’s time to revive their pitches to sell Super Bowl spots to their clients next year.

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Bright Lights Project -- Ad Agencies

The fallout of digital technology and its social applications continues to wash across the communications industry, with many leading advertising agencies starting 2012 with staff reductions while big-name brands like Microsoft and P&G fire hundreds of their marketers.

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Turning Point

At the turn of the last century, AOL was the household name when it came to Internet access (not to mention a reliable source for spam CDs in everyone’s snailmail boxes). It was a portal...no, the portal to Internet experience through which people passed in order to access the content there.

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Bright Lights Project - Standard & Poor's Rating Services

Standard & Poor’s is one of three major American rating agencies (Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services are the others). They’re in the business of assessing risk of various financial instruments and the reliability of the companies and governments that issue or trade them, and their ratings affect both investor interest and the prices paid for said financial paper.

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