Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Digital Ad Agency Turns Facebook Into a Retail Channel - #in

Resource Interactive Goes 'Off the Wall' for Shopping on Facebook

Digital Agency Launches Platform That Lets Consumers Buy Products Directly From Retailers' Social-Network Page

Posted by Natalie Zmuda on 12.29.09 @ 05:12 PM

NEW YORK ( -- The latest Facebook breakthrough is coming not from a software developer but from an agency.

Resource Interactive's Off the Wall product allows retailers to sell directly from their Facebook walls.
Resource Interactive's Off the Wall product allows retailers to sell directly from their Facebook walls.
--> Resource Interactive, an Ohio-based digital agency with offices in Columbus and Cincinnati, this month launched "Off the Wall," a platform that allows consumers to purchase a product directly from a retailer's wall or their own feed on Facebook without leaving the popular social-networking site.

The product was developed by the agency's in-house research and development lab, which keeps the company up to speed on new developments in the digital space, while also coming up with prototypes and concepts for a "digital future."

"We needed a group of people that could take the time and have the focus to look out a little bit ahead," said Dan Shust, director-emerging media, who heads up the 18-month-old group. "We get caught up in project work occurring right now."

As marketers look to reign in costs in a tough economy, agencies have felt the squeeze, so ad shops are looking to new revenue streams from product development that have included everything from clothing to widgets to books.

Mr. Shust said he believes product development will become a bigger piece of what the agency does. He said Resource Interactive has determined it made more sense to begin building its own platforms and products that could be used by both clients and others, rather than building customized solutions from the ground up for each client or project.

Opening its products up to non-clients is proving beneficial for the agency, which is adding new clients as a result and has received some interest from international agencies looking to become the exclusive provider of Off the Wall in other countries.

Off the Wall was created when the agency, which works with major retailers such as Victoria's Secret, Burton, Hewlett-Packard and The Limited, realized the majority of activity in Facebook was taking place on the wall. "We've created engaging opportunities on sub-tabs," Mr. Shust said. "If you drive traffic to those tabs, [consumers] can have a good experience, but a lot of people don't necessary visit those pages."

Just before Christmas, The Limited became the first retailer to use Off the Wall. The retailer is offering its best-selling Infinity scarf -- which appeared on "Oprah" -- for 30% off plus free shipping. Brian Seewald, director of e-commerce at The Limited, said that sales of the scarves were meeting expectations thus far.

"We didn't attach a huge sales expectation to this," he said, though he noted that plans for future offerings using Off the Wall are already in the works. "This is more about doing something special for our fans and doing something to give our brand some visibility."

Mr. Seewald went on to explain that having launched e-commerce in September 2008 and a Facebook page in October 2009, The Limited was quite late to the online and social-media space. "It was time to show our fans that we're still an innovative company and on the edge of things," he said.

Off the Wall takes three to four weeks to implement and is relatively affordable for retailers, given its performance-based compensation model. Upfront costs are minimal, roughly covering the cost of implementation. Because Resource Interactive owns the technology, it can afford to set it up for retailers and wait for the pay off, said Mr. Shust. (Facebook does not receive any financial compensation from the e-commerce conducted through Off the Wall.) According to the company, a brand pays a nominal fee up front, while the agency shares in the revenue on the back end.

"We're pretty sure the investment to develop is going to pay off," Mr. Shust said. "Getting to a working prototype was very quick, and we did it with a few people and a small internal investment. A couple of clients in, we have reaped the benefits of that."

What a great example of agency innovation.

It's also a great example of how retailers are getting smart in utilizing a strategy that provides multiple and transportable "storefronts."

It would be great to see this taken one step further in Facebook where recognition software could be used on wall photos for clothing items. So, when you're randomly looking at a friend's photo and like a shirt or pair of shoes, you could click and buy it instantly. And to get FB users to opt in, retailers could offer discounts - essentially, using them as sales people.
Exciting stuff.

One question though...if this retail channel explodes, how long will it take for Facebook to ask for a percentage of each sale?

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Monday, December 28, 2009

May "The Book" Be With You

CollegeHumor posted a great piece featuring Facebook updates from Star Wars characters including Luke and Han Solo. The comments are hilarious.

See for yourself. 

Posted via email from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nerds will finally get a good night sleep

Check out this Star Wars Millennium Falcon Bed from designer Kayla Kromer.

The sad irony is...she will most likely be the only female to ever lay on it. Oh, snap.

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Be Nice or Leave - A Social Lesson #in

I love this presentation by Faris Yakob called "Be Nice or Leave." He does a great job of deconstructing the elements of social engagement.

Whether you're new to social media or a saucy veteran, there's something in this for you. It's thoughtfully simple and layered with insights.

And he's got cool hair too.

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Friday, December 4, 2009

Popptags - 12 FREE tags contest!

Visit the Popptag's Facebook fan page, write a line for this beautiful unicorn tag in the comments and you could win 12 FREE tags. On December 8th, the 2 funniest lines will be chosen.

Check out other funny Popptags here:

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What to get your NERD for the holidays

I can't figure this out.

Is it ironic humor or a fluffy cry for help?

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Best Ring Ever

I only wish it had a surprise joystick ring for the thumb.

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gift Ideas for Your Creative Friends #in

Check out these sweet gift ideas including my favorite: the "f the rain" umbrella

Thanks @miamiadschool for the heads-up.

Posted via web from Ideas & Observations of John Mills

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Study Finds Companies Not Fully Capitalizing on Research #in

If you've worked in the marketing industry for 10 minutes, you know that most companies don't leverage the power of research. Or they think that they already know their customers/clients well enough to jump right to developing creative tactics.

A client from my old agency spent $75,000 to build a content rich microsite in hopes of engaging current clients and attracting new ones. However, they never conducted one bit of research to find out what their audience might want. No poll on their current site. No email. No third party survey. No industry survey. Nothing.

The fallout, of course, is when a project like this is deemed "unsuccessful," it's put on the agency. Our business has a short term memory problem, so reminding a client that you suggested research many times doesn't play.

So, how can we help companies understand the importance of market research?

Present more case studies of its effectiveness?
Change the name from "Market Research" to "Creative Discovery"?
Only work with clients who understand the importance of it (yeah, right)?

Seriously, what can we do? What do you do?

Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Social Media Club of Richmond -Trailer of last night's event - #in

Last night at the Science Museum of Virginia, the communication directors for the Republican and Democratic parties gave us a glimpse inside their gubernatorial social strategies. It was much more civil than I had hoped, but interesting none the less.

The SMCRVA events keep getting better.

Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Outsider Effect - #in

Mon 16 Nov 2009

Trying to juice up your next ad campaign? Develop a clever new product strategy? Research shows that adding an outsider to the mix can improve the thinking of your team and produce better results. According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Better decisions come from teams that include a “socially distinct newcomer.” That’s psychology-speak for someone who is different enough to bump other team members out of their comfort zones…

Researchers noticed this effect after conducting a traditional group problem-solving experiment. The twist was that a newcomer was added to each group about five minutes into their deliberations. And when the newcomer was a social outsider, teams were more likely to solve the problem successfully. [From Kellog School of Management News - Embracing the ‘socially distinct’ outsider.]

The good news is that the “outsider” doesn’t have to be an expensive consultant or an external facilitator. The important thing is that the newcomer is distinct in some way from other group members. Beyond such obvious social distinctions as race and gender, the study’s author, Katherine Phillips of Northwestern University, suggests other examples that might work:

– One employee from accounting working on a team in which everyone else is from sales
– An employee of a company that has just been bought out finding herself on a team of people from the acquiring firm
– An out-of-stater finding himself on a team full of natives of the company’s home state

The outsiders in the study weren’t necessarily vocal or opinionated; their mere presence seemed to be sufficient to make the group think harder. According to Phillips, this research is one justification for maintaining an emphasis on workplace diversity: a diverse team (whatever the elements of diversity might be) will produce better results.

So, when you are pulling together the next team or task force, add all of the “obvious” team members, and then throw an outsider into the mix. You’ll be glad you did.

Share on Facebook

Share on Facebook" title="Post to Twitter (">Post to Twitter" title="Post to Twitter (">Tweet This Post

Related posts:

  1. Marketing and the Placebo Effect
  2. Wine and the Spillover Effect
  3. Reflecting on the Mirror
  4. The Scarcity Effect
  5. Dietary Decoys
[2] Comments        Trackback URL

Subscribe with Bloglines

Add this post to: - Digg!

Digg it - Stumble it - Yahoo MyWeb

2 Responses to “The Outsider Effect”

  1. katchja Says:
    November 16th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    It would be interesting to know if there is any correlation between the amplitude of this outsider effect and the in-group solidarity. The most cohesive, string team is also the most biased one due to the group-think tendency created and encouraged over time. Therefore, a certain degree of reluctance is exepcted towards the outsider. It would be interesting to see also if there is any correlation between the amplitude of the outsider effect and the group leader’s openness to novelty. He should be the only one who could break the group think-phenomena and let the outsider provide new insights for any given situation.

  2. Paul L'Acosta Says:
    November 16th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    It should be interesting Roger to see the group’s reaction to this addition. But I can definitely see not only the positive effects but also the added variety to the mix. Great idea so thanks for sharing it, along with the quotes as support. — Paul

Leave a Reply or or trackback

When it comes to creative concepting or strategic planning, I'm a firm believer in mixing it up. At Release The Hounds, we always form cross-collaborative teams when we start a project. It adds a nice level of passive competition, produces unexpected insights and is simply a lot more fun. Our best ideas are created when we include the "Outsider" in our process.

Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Friday, November 13, 2009

Coke Naked Can

A nice and (!) eco-friendly concept by NY based designer Harc Lee.
As designer describes his project by himself:

“A convex logo substitutes colorfully sprayed can. Naked can help to reduce air and water pollution occurred in its coloring process. It also reduces energy and effort to separate toxic color paint from aluminum in recycling process. Huge amount of energy and paint required to manufacture colored cans will be saved.

Instead of toxic paint, manufacturers process aluminum with a pressing machine that indicates brand identity on surface. ”




(seen on

Slick design.

I'm not sure, however, that Coke would abandon the red and white that made this brand an international icon. Could be a really cool limited addition can.

It'll be interesting to watch companies over the next few years adapt as public eco-pressure tempts them to gamble with their brand equities.


Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Is Your Company Trusted or Do You Have a Digital Comb Over?

Is Your Company Trusted?

Many companies are entering the social/green/community space, with hopes of impressing customers, yet despite their best intentions, they could come across as unauthentic, and be damaging their own brand.  Companies should first take a self-assessment of their brand to see if they’re ready before they decide to enter the social space.

Companies should first assess their culture and ask:

  • Is the company ready to talk about the good –and bad– with the market?
  • Is the internal culture ready to embrace customers on their own terms?
  • Is the culture ready to make changes based on the request of customers?

Launching a corporate blog is easy, a Twitter account even easier, yet if companies culture doesn’t match the values they’re telling the market, they risk brand damage through reduced credibility. You’re not fooling anyone.

Share This Post:
  • Digg


  • Facebook

  • Google Bookmarks

  • Reddit

  • Technorati

  • LinkedIn

  • FriendFeed

  • StumbleUpon

  • Twitter

This entry was posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 8:15 am and is filed under Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

This is such a great way to think about it. After reading hundreds if not thousands of articles on SM, it's so refreshing to get a little humor in my education.

So...what's the Digital Mullet? The common definition of a mullet is "business in the front, party in the back."


Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Interview with Nooka designer Matthew Waldman in Time Out New York

Congrats to Release The Hounds client, partner and friend, Matthew Waldman on his article in Time Out New York. His fashion brand Nooka, just officially launched the NookaNooka toy, the latest addition to its "Nooka mindstyle accessories" collection.

In case you missed it, check out the NookaNooka video did for the launch.

Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Typekit Launches its Cloud-Based Web Font Service

Designers take notice. This cloud-based service could make your lives (and SEO indexing) so much easier. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Posted via web from johnmills's posterous

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Scary difference in Halloween can designs

Notice a difference in creative latitude between Jones Soda and Pepsi?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tweet Steep - Origami tea bag

Russian designer Natalia Ponomareva created these wonderful tea bags that enter your cup in the conventional square shape, but when the tea steeps expand into into a bird. Beautiful concept.

(Via Cherryflava),

Monday, October 26, 2009

NACS Show in Vegas

We helped our client, Alternative Beverage Innovations, launch their new "relaxation" drinks Liquid RelaxX and Liquid Smoking at the National Association of Convenient Stores show. Both drinks are made in Amsterdam, so we recreated a street scene from the Red Light District. It was so much fun and the response was great.

Professional photos coming the meantime, you can check more out here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Biggest Loser : Infobesity

Tim Young, founder of SocialCast, just wrote this interesting piece comparing food and information consumption (via PSFK). He has some great thoughts about how over-indulging on the overwhelming amount of info available can cause health problems. Lately, I've been feeling a little stuffed, myself.

I prepare and feast on these daily:

1. My personal Facebook page
2. The RTH
Facebook page
3. RTH Blog
4. Google Reader
5. Personal email account
6. RTH email acount
7. Seesmic desktop
8 Tweetie: 2 app
9. Weather Channel app
10. Voicemail
11. IM
12. Stock market updates
13. CBS Sports app

How are you controlling your infobesity?

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Love Dust Shakes It Up

Our friends at I Love Dust designed these incredibly cool milkshake cartons for South African company, Bill's Dairy Farm. They look delicious.


Friday, October 9, 2009

"The Social Media Guru"

This video is hilarious. (Disclaimer: strong but appropriate language)

Moderator Mike Lewis from Awareness, Inc. played it to open the Inbound Marketing Summit and followed it with a discussion about whether or not self-proclaimed social experts are damaging the reputation of social media.

I think it's amusing that some "real" social experts are so threatened. Sure, I understand they were first to the gold rush, and now that "Socialwood" is full of prospectors looking to cash in, they're freaking out a bit. But they really have nothing to fear. Social Media is not going to run dry anytime soon, and their understanding of it is on an entirely different level than the phonies.

I also think clients deserve more credit and are smart enough to sniff out the fakers. And, hey, if they aren't, they'll get a big time wake-up call that just might save the future of their brands.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Designing for Good

Last Friday, I had to pleasure to take a beautiful ride to Charlottesville with my good friend and AIGA Richmond Vice President, David McIntosh to check out the 2nd Annual Design Marathon.

Organized by the Charlottesville Community Design Center, the intense twelve hour event gathers professional designers and students who provide pro-bono branding and architectural design services for ten non-profit organizations.

It was amazing to see the passion and dedication of all of the volunteers. Does the heart good.

Stay tuned for an announcement of a Release The Hounds event coming this Winter in Richmond.

The talented and lovely Serena Gruia of Alloy Workshop with David McIntosh updating his FB account in the background.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Use Ping and set your SMS plan FREE!


Is AT&T crushing you with texting charges? Get the Ping app from the iTunes store, convince all of your iPhoney friends to get it too and text all day long about what a "db" Spencer Pratt is.

My handle is "john_mills" by the way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inspiration from Above

Check out these beautiful tree house designs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make the logo...invisible

Okay...I'm admittedly late to the party. But I'm loving Rick Klotz and his company, Freshjive. (Thanks PSFK)

Beginning in 1989 while he was still in art school, Rick leaned on his love of skate, punk rock and hip hop culture and began selling t-shirts and shorts under the Freshjive label. Now 20 years later, he's successfully guided the company with a controlled recklessness and inspiring business philosophy.

In this recent interview with PSFK, Rick talks about starting the company, how he thrives on controversy and his new "brandless" campaign.

"I just like to fuck with peoples perceptions of what a company is expected to do. And now this: a multi million dollar company taking the name off all of it’s garments in one swoop."

The idea of logo-less apparel does a few things:
  • Refreshes the brand
  • Adds to cultural credibility
  • Gets attention/PR
  • Possibly opens the brand to a larger audience/market
If your boss's uninspiring daily drivel and safe business approach is killing you, get a little inspiration from this interview.

Oh, and my favorite piece from his existing collection (that's also extremely timely) is this "Kayne is a whiny bitch" t-shirt. Buy it here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mini Carrots from the RTH Garden

Okra coming soon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Brand Friendship

(photo: Mirror, UK)

I was having a conversation with a client the other day about how brands are human. They evolve over time (hopefully), make mistakes and try to surround themselves with people who support them. And as I'm spewing existentially, I realize that thinking of brands as human is not enough.

Brands have to be friends, because friends...
  • are there when we need them
  • tell us the truth
  • make our lives better
  • change with us
  • figure out the best way to communicate with us
Now that there are so many communication tools and networks connecting us to our real friends (and family), we have developed intense expectations. We are conditioning ourselves to expect brands to be willing, excited and always available to add value to our lives and fix our problems.

Is this a logical expectation? I'm not sure. But I do know that the expectation is set, so brands must adapt to survive. Whether they like us or not, they better be our friend.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grow experience

Our new, talented friends at Grow Interactive from Norfolk, Virginia really understand the importance of creating an experience. I'll explain...

I became acquainted with Grow's work at this year's AIGA Grade Awards where they won a bunch of awards. After weeks of emails, Drew Ungvarsky (Owner/Creative Director) and I finally met-up at a local coffee shop in Richmond. We had a good time talking.

About a week later, I received an email from him. It was a nice note explaining how he had a good time getting together, and at the bottom of the email was a link for a free Grow shirt. Cool.

So, I clicked the link, and it took me to a personalized page where I could choose from about 10 different shirts. Each shirt was modeled by one of Grow's people who also created an interactive experience with a marker and clear screen. See for yourself.

A day or two after I ordered my shirt, it arrived. It wasn't just thrown into a FedEx box with a business card. They packaged it in a nice box with beautiful paper, quality stock envelop and letter and of course, a kick ass shirt.

Branding an experience is all about the details. The little details. The ones most people forget or ignore. In this case, the focal piece of the gift is the shirt. But, the experience of the entire package is far more valuable in creating a perception about Grow. The shirt will eventually wear-out, get lost or fall victim to my 2 year old's magic marker (hopefully not). But the experience is permanently burned into my brain. Thanks again, Drew.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Art and Copy

Check out the trailer for Doug Pray's (Hype) new film, Art and Copy. It's packed full of powerful insights from some of advertising's most influential leaders.

"The frightening, most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of these thoughts come from - and especially, you don't have any idea about where they're going to come from tomorrow."