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January 19, 2011 / tommoradpour

Moving On Up!

If you’re reading this post… thanks for visiting!

I have just migrated my blog to a new self-hosted set up here – Brand Directions.

Sorry for the hassle in upgrading your RSS feeds and subscriptions – hopefully you will like my new place… and posts!

January 12, 2011 / tommoradpour

Pepsi Max Ads – Sneak Peak For My Mates!

Is it OK for one in every twenty posts to be a shameless promotion? Anyway, that’s the one, so I hope it’s OK…

Here’s a sneak peak for my mates in #usguys and broader twitterville of the new 2011 Pepsi Max International campaign, which is about to hit the screens this week-end in Europe, starting in Denmark.

The films, created by CLM/BBDO and shot by director Bart Timmer, are all part of our ongoing Max It saga which started in ’09.

You may be interested to know that developing these ads involved a three months ethnographic research on 25 year old guys, across seven countries and five continents. And as you can expect from this particular demo, it takes exactly 10 words to articulate the learnings – they just want to spend more time with their mates.


Yes, the universal truth across the globe is that guys will go to any length, no matter how mischievous, to have more time to take it to the MAX with their buddies, getting out of those less-than-intense situations involving bosses, girlfriend shopping sprees and dinners with the in-laws… And Max is there to help along the way; providing the full-on cola kick, hit and rush but without the sugar to weigh you down.

So here’s to rescue missions, get-out-of-jail free cards and escape plans… here’s to grabbing life by the balls and maxing it with your mates!
Let me know what you think in comments; If you like… please share or RT!

January 8, 2011 / tommoradpour

[Book Review] Brains on Fire

2011 Reading List #001

Brains On Fire
by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones

For my full 2011 reading list, click here.

A very inspiring read, Brains on Fire builds a fantastic case on how to create movements, albeit a less convincing one on “why”. If you already think it’s the right thing to do, it will help you do it much better, building from the many practical lessons learned in their agency practice. But the book won’t help you decide how far you should take ‘movements’ in your budget mix. And if you need a book to convince a boss or CEO to change the way you do marketing… well, this is probably not the one you are looking for.


Obviously, the title! How can you not want to pick up a book with such a great title? Of course, you may also know of the agency of the same name, whose principals co-authored the book; also, Scott Stratten suggested four books to me for 2011, including this title. And what the author of Un-Marketing tells me to read, I read.


While movements is the new marketing buzzword all clients and agencies try to substitute to campaigns today, fact is that the two are very different. Contrary to a campaign – brand-centric and limited in time – a movement is passion-centric, rooted in people and is self-perpetuating.

Brains on Fire is about creating powerful and sustainable movements based on people, peer-to-peer relationships, shared passion… and few key ignition lessons shared in the book! To clarify and manage expectations, this is not a book about social media; it’s a book about connecting people in communities build around a conversation. Brain on Fire’s argument is that 90% of this happens face-to-face, in real life.

Some of their lessons sound rather obvious, such as finding the passion conversation, i.e. what your brand fans are already talking about; and no, it’s not the brand itself… it’s what the brand enables. Or looking for inspirational leaders to create momentum in your movement; and picking them with diversity. Other lessons are less obvious. How about the need to create barriers to entry into your movement? Seems counter-intuitive to whoever is looking for millions of Facebook fans, but is a must if you want commitment and participation. And opening your kimono talks about letting fans see the humanness – and mistakes – past the controlled corporate layers of perfection; a hard thing to do, even putting lawyers aside. Finally, some of the most engaging lessons feel anecdotal, but work disproportionately well according to Brains on Fire: think of the power of giving every member of a community a number (such as Fiskateer #2056), to cement the feeling of belonging and ownership.


  • On who should own movements, social media inside a company: “Whoever cares the most.
  • On traditional branding vs movements: “The role of traditional branding is to influence behavior. The difference with movements is to inspire behavior. So don’t try to influence; get out of that business. Now is the time to inspire. People don’t want to be influenced.
  • On Buzz: “Buzz does not create evangelists; evangelists create buzz.
  • On Influencers: “Influencers have organized themselves and now see their influence as a business (…) And we’d take 100 passionate people who contribute that sweat equity just because they care, as opposed to 1,000 influentials who tweet once and never think about it again.
  • On creating barriers to entry: “(…) if that person isn’t willing to send an e-mail back with any reason at all [note: why they would want to join] (…) then the odds are that they aren’t going to be an active member of the community.


Very little to disagree with here, as Brains on Fire dissects the key principles behind authentic movements. Testimonials ring true, examples are very inspiring and the underlying logic is… well it is quite logical. I’ll be going back to the 10 lessons and some of the most practical advice as a check-list for some of my 2011 initiatives!

That said, I was frustrated by the lack of significant metrics of success in the book. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in the camp that thinks marketing initiatives are only validated by the sales lift they generate; but I don’t think either that a kitten dies each time you say “Social Media ROI”. You decide what success looks like when you set targets and objectives, and then evaluate actions against your own criteria, be it sales, awareness, equity, loyalty… Up to lesson 10, nothing tangible in Brains on Fire, and really even that “results” chapter feels very light. That makes it hard to agree fully with, and decide to divert resources to WOM movements (unless you are already convinced). But even then: how much should you invest?

Likewise, a second unanswered question is how these movements scale up. In my job leading brand building efforts of Pepsi internationally, the challenge is literally billions of “moments of truth”, in over a hundred countries, with consumers who are less-than-passionate about the category. What is the significance of 7,000 Fiskateers and how can it translate into supporting billions of acts of purchase?

ReWork, by Jason Fried and David H. Hansson.
Another reco by @unmarketing. And actually so many people told me in tweets or comments how good it is, I had to change my reading plan and jump straight to it!

January 4, 2011 / tommoradpour

37 Business and Strategy Books For 2011 [updated]


On Jan 1st, we were discussing Books to read with fellow #usguys, and I tweeted a listing of the 30 or so 37 titles I have already set on my Kindle app for 2011. That’s a rather long list, and it’s actually not even finished – my plan is to read one a week, as recommended by @julien. Not as hard as you may think – that’s just about 40 pages a day, as most books average 300 pages these days.

Anyway – a lot of folks tweeted back saying it was a good list, and suggested I made of post of it… so here it is!

Now please, add your recommendations in the comments… I still need another 20 15!

Blue Ocean Strategy
by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
A “classic” on strategy and innovation, recommended by PepsiCo’s former head of International Mike White. Sits high on my stack.

Brains on Fire [Finished and reviewed here]
by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones
The one I started the year with, as recommended by Scott Stratten (@unmarketing), author of the excellent Un-Marketing, which would have made my list if I had not read it already.

Changing The Game
by David Edery and Ethan Mollick
You’ll notice a theme on “gamification” of business in my list… as Marketing guy and avid gamer, this is a theme I’m really interested in this year!

Competitive Strategy
by Michael E. Porter
Need I say more?

Confessions of a Public Speaker
by Scott Berkun
Recommended in comments by David Cusack

Content Rules
by Ann Handley, CC Chapman and David Meerman Scott
Another recommendation by Scott (@unmarketing). That’s enough for me!

Delivering Happiness
by Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of
This guys also has time to write books?? I really admire the success of Zappos, so curious to know more about Tony Hsieh’s story and ideas in this book.

The Dragonfly Effect
by Jennifer Aaker (@aaker) and Andy Smith (@kabbenbock)
This one was recommended by quite a large number of my Twitter followers. I’m told it’s a must to understand “movements”, and in particular their impact on social good.

by Brian Solis (@briansolis)
Yes, I know, I’m late to the party.

Good Boss, Bad Boss
by Robert I. Sutton
No particular reason to want to read this one, but the desire to improve as a manager and leader 🙂

Hacking Work
by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein
I confess… the title really intrigued me; and the I read the subtitle – getting rid of the stupid rules at work. Now that’s for me!

I Live In The Future And Here’s How It Works
by Nick Bilton
Blame this one on Amazon smart recommendation engine. It kept appearing again, and again, and agin… sometime you just have to give in.

The Little Big Things
by Tom Peters
Once again, no particular need for an explanation there.

The Lords of Strategy
by Walter Kiechel
Recommended in comments by my friends Mick Doran and Sean McGinnis

by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
I have read many Tapscott books in the past, in particular Wikinomics, the prequel to the particular title. Amazing ideas. This one is an absolute must for anyone interested in modern economics, and collaboration.

Making Ideas Happen
by Scott Belsky, founder of the Behance network
I actually know Scott, and love his network, Behance – an amazing community and toolkit for creatives of any kind. I did not know until recently that he had written a book… I can’t wait to read it!

The Mesh
by Lisa Gansky
Another theme in my reading list – business through sharing and collaboration.

The Myths of Innovation
by Scot Berkun
Innovation and Myths! great, no? More seriously, the pitch here is to debunk pre-conceived ideas about innovation and the innovation process. Very interested!

The New Capitalist Manifesto
by Umair Haque
Recommended in comments by Ric Dragon

Real-Time Marketing and PR
by David Meerman Scott
I heard DM Scott (who also co-authored Content Rules) speak at the Future of Marketing micro-conference last year; I was quite interested by his idea of real-time marketing.

by Jason Fried and David H. Hansson
Another reco by Scott Stratten.

Seizing the White Space
by Mark W. Johnson
Another reco by Amazon!!!

Small Giants
by Bo Burlingham
Another reco by Scott!!!

Start With Why
by Simon Sinek
Recommended in comments by Chris Eh Young

by Chip and Dan Heath
Because I loved their previous title, Made to Stick!

Talent Is Overrated
by Geoff Colvin
Probably because my first instinct is to disagree with the title.

Talk Less, Say More
by Connie Dieken
Who here isn’t interested in being more influential and impactful?

Think Twice
by Michael J. Mauboussin
This feels a bit like Blink… I’ll tell you how it compares.

Total Engagement
by Byron Reeves and J. Leighton Read
Another in the “gamification” theme – this time about using games to drive better engagement in the worplace.

Trust Agents
by Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and Julien Smith (@julien)
Now, this one is like Harry Potter to me… I have to know what the fuss is all about!

What Technology Wants
by Kevin Kelly
A close choice to “I’ve Seen the Future…” and “The Myths of Innovation”, in my innovation reading theme.

What Women Want
by Paco Underhill
What man wouldn’t want to read this book? Joke apart, this one comes from an expert in shopper marketing and looks at the most overlooked business opportunity for the next few years – marketing with real women insights.

Where Good Ideas Come From
by Steven Johnson
I’m really curious, I really wwant to know, don’t you? This is actually a history of ideas.

by Marty Neumeier
I love zaggers, challengers, those who go against the grain.

Not out yet, but “pre-ordered”…

Social Media ROI
by Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder)
Despite the very bad cover, I’m curious to read Olivier’s book, being a big fan of his thinking and his blog.

Reality Is Broken
by Jane McGonigal
Probably the leading expert in gaming for business. I CAN’T WAIT to read her book.

Killing Giants
by Stephen Denny (@note_to_CMO)
Stephen actually reached out on Twitter to add his book to my list; as it’s about “10 strategies to topple the leader in your industry” – a theme you’ll understand why I’m interested in – and as I respect him a lot, I was very happy to comply 😉

OK, that’s it! Any adds?

January 2, 2011 / tommoradpour

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 37 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 14mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 14th with 415 views. The most popular post that day was 5 Things I Learned From Kim Kardashian’s Death.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for thomas moradpour, kim kardashian, what’s your mo, kim kardashian no tweet, and tom moradpour brand directions.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


5 Things I Learned From Kim Kardashian’s Death December 2010


$50,000 Won’t Buy You Klout November 2010


Spectacular Come-Back of Mind-Control In BMW Advertising December 2010


Full Disclosure – I think Social Media Marketing is BS November 2010


Is Twitter Telling You Only What You Want To Hear? December 2010

December 31, 2010 / tommoradpour

2011, Make It “One Louder”

As 2010 gets to a close and we move into 2011, I am reminded of the words of wisdom from the epic 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.
You see, most live rock bands set their amps to ten. And it’s fine, until they realize they can’t go anywhere from there: they’re already maxed out. This is how a lot of people feel about new year resolutions – they are already at ten.

But Spinal Tap is different: their amps can go to eleven. Yes, that’s one louder.
Absurd? Maybe not.


2010 was already a big year for you, wasn’t it?
Whatever you do, chances are you did it with your amps on ten.  Maybe it still wasn’t loud enough for you, but it had its winning moments, didn’t it?
Now, think about it – where do you go from there? Will you join the mass and make endless lists of “new resolutions” that won’t live past January? Start doing this, start doing that…
Why don’t you focus instead on what worked in 2010, and make that one louder?
Shinny new toys, activities, ideas, resolutions are… well, they’re shinny and new. But truly loud success most often comes from understanding your strenghts, your successes, and doubling down on these, rather than wasting focus on new things you’ll most likely end up dropping anyway.


My first advice for 2011 is to make a list of things you’ll stop doing to create that reserve of “one” in your life, in your day, in your budgets… that helps you get to eleven when it counts. STOP is a much more powerful idea than START – like strategy is about what you don’t do, good planning is often about what you stop doing, to create space for what truly matters. Find those zombie activities or projects that eat up your resources, and put them in the ground. Today.


My second advice is to make a list of things you will CONTINUE doing in 2011, but at setting eleven rather than ten. Not everything: the 20% that drive 80% of your results, value or happiness. Maybe it’s spending a little bit more time on your blog to make each post a bit better. Maybe it’s adding 1 mile to every run. Maybe it’s building on a succesful campaign and taking execution one step further. Maybe it’s spending just a little bit more time with the people that truly matter for you. Focus on what works and make it work harder.


My final advice is to be ready for those moments when playing at eleven could make your success loudest. It’s worth noting that Spinal tap didn’t play at eleven all the time – just when they needed that extra push over the cliff. Don’t make eleven your new everyday ten. Keep some in reserve, to push when you see an opportunity to make a big impact. This can mean stashing 10% of a budget for experiments that could push your work into the stratosphere, or to keep it more reactive and topical. Or more generally keeping some energy to seize unplanned opportunities. Don’t. Plan. Everything.

And as a starting gift… this, is Spinal Tap!

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven…
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
This Is Spinal Tap – 1984