Monday, December 19, 2011

We Need Holiday Parties.

The annual holiday party is a curious rite of passage for just about any agency. It’s an obligatory ritual that’s squeezed in among the hustle-bustle of many year-end activities: financial reports, evaluations, and finishing up OPDP submissions before the holiday break.

For those given the task of organizing the holiday party, there’s tremendous pressure, whether it’s for a shop of 20 folks or an agency with 500 employees. You’re charged with ensuring the merriment of your colleagues. You’re responsible for making sure they have a good time. That is the only agenda: to have a good time.

The quality of holiday parties is as varied as the agencies that host them. Some are so monumentally epic that your grandchildren and people in foreign lands will be reading about them in their history books. (If you were there, you’d know what party I’m talking about.) Others are so awful you just want “Die Hard” to happen in real life.

Good or bad, fun or not, one thing is clear: We need our holiday parties. Because holiday parties are cathartic.

They’re not just some drunken convergence of people who go to work in the same building as you do every day. Holiday parties are important milestones in every agency’s year. It’s a time to get together with the folks with whom you spend a majority of your waking hours and reconnect as people, as friends, as trusted partners. It’s a time to stitch up the past year, pat everyone—including yourself—on the back, and look ahead to the coming year. There is always something to celebrate at the holiday party, no matter how big or small.

Extrovertic holiday parties—yes, we have more than one!—have much to live up to. It’s not like we have a choice—we’re called Extroverts for a reason. In a year of such explosive growth, it would’ve been tempting to overdo it and go all out and over the top—“go big or go home” style. 

Instead, the first of our parties, was rather…nice, charming, and a little quirky. Very Extrovertic.
Berklee College of Music students brought the jam.

A tarot card reader helped us look into the future. (Will anyone use this new app I’m designing?) We ate, we drank, we sang, we danced, and we drank some more. And then we all hopped into cabs, went home, and watched the sunrise.

Like I said, cathartic.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Form, Meet Function.

What’s the first thing you do when you move apartments? Offices? Desks?

You clean house.

You sort through everything you have and decide which pieces can fit into your new space and which need to be left curbside for the garbage trucks.

Following this culling down of belongings comes the fun part—the need to acquire new furniture. Which is exactly what we did for the move to our new 21st Street location.

In keeping with our emphasis on design, each piece of furniture for our new digs was carefully researched and evaluated prior to being purchased. We ended up with snazzy turquoise desk chairs, frosted glass desks, and polka dot-covered work stations (to name but a few).

But the coolest pieces of furniture (in this Extrovert’s opinion) are the Interstuhl chairs designed by Christine Lüdeke. Uniquely designed, visually stimulating, and bright chartreuse in color, these chairs at first glance counteract the idea of form following function. This principle states that:

The shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

By just looking at the chair, however, it seems to be…,well, non-functional.

But the Contemeporist, a product discovery site for architects and interior designers, quotes Interstuhl and clears things up a bit:

First of all you have to use your imagination to identify an easy chair in the 60-degree slanting element. But if you let yourself down at an angle you will experience something unique. You will be rewarded by a very comfortable seating sensation in a type of cantilever model that has been made possible by modern fibres and new weaving methods.

So, when it comes down to it, the modernist approach to design really does hold true—form usually follows function even when that doesn’t appear to be the case at first. Modern design merely asks that we work a bit harder to reap the benefits.

What are some ways that you can integrate form and function into your home or office?


* A special thanks to Account Extroverts Bill, Thomas, and Steve for modeling in these chairs, thereby kicking them up yet another notch.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Massive Health’s Holy Trinity: Technology, Healthcare, and Design.

As a healthcare communications agency devoted to raising the bar on strategic and innovative thinking, Extrovertic has launched an initiative to explore how the principles of design can be employed to improve our processes, products, and daily agency lives ((see post date 11/28/11)). 

One of the first places we looked at during our design exploration was Massive Health, a startup dedicated to infusing design and technology into healthcare. Massive Health believes a new approach to tackling the healthcare crisis is needed. According to their website, Massive Health is about “making beautiful products that sit in your pocket and give you deep insight into your health conditions.” Massive Health turns “data into meaning, and make(s) that meaning actionable.”

They recently launched an iPhone app called “The Eatery,” which is designed to help people make lasting changes to their diet. Using an iPhone, people take pictures of everything they plan to eat, give it a simple rating (Fit or Fat), and submit. Massive Health’s wonderfully executed app makes it easy to adhere to the simple rules of healthy eating and to implement the basics of successful behavioral changes.

There’s also substantiation that this approach to eating works:

1.      Sharing your goals makes you more likely to accomplish them: With The Eatery, you can share your food selections with your friends and get their reactions. In addition to helping make you more accountable to your goals, your friends may help bust your personal food myths. For example, is that daily smoothie really healthy or, as their site suggests, is it “a sugar bomb?”

2.      Eating colorful foods is a must: In keeping with Michael Pollan’s belief that food needs to be colorful, The Eatery allows pictures of your meals to become part of a patchwork quilt that can you can evaluate in a glance. Is it bland and brown or full of orange, green, purple, and red?

3.      Making small sustainable lifestyle changes is more effective than strict dieting: By compiling your eating habits in pictures and easy-to-read colorful graphs, you are able to identify small self-defeating patterns. For example, is every coffee break accompanied by a cookie break too?

I compare this beautifully designed app to the tools my daughter was given by a nutritionist to ensure she eats 4,000 calories daily—the amount required for her to participate in competitive skating. Flora got a boring three-ring binder and a stack of what looked to be slightly off-kilter mimeographed sheets straight out of a 1960s health class. Only a highly motivated, disciplined athlete like my daughter would stick to that regimen. Her baby-boomer mom certainly wouldn’t!

Massive Health says on their blog, “this iPhone application offers a simple, beautiful approach to eating better.” This is quite an accomplishment; simplicity is something we aspire to but often encounter obstacles in attaining. As someone who has spent close to 2 decades banging the health literacy drum in Big Pharma, I know how hard it is to get the simple stuff through review committees. Bigger words and complex graphics are often more technically accurate, and therefore safer from a regulatory/legal point of view.

Deadlines loom, and the folders stack up. However, apps like The Eatery provide inspiration to push back just a little harder (perhaps there’s an app that can help us make small, sustainable review committee changes). Massive Health’s first foray into merging design principles and healthcare, raises the bar for all of us involved in healthcare communications.


Monday, November 28, 2011

“Designing” the Service Business Model.

With the passing of Steve Jobs, the central place that design has played in infusing everyday products with value has received tremendous airplay. That got me thinking, how could a design mentality create additional value in the service business? Specifically, the healthcare agency business?

What would a well-designed contact report look like? 

Would the structure of our meetings change?
How would our creative product be affected?

So, for the remainder of 2011, our Extroverts will be devoting time and energy to wrestling with these questions. We will start by immersing all New York and Boston Extroverts into the world of design. Extrovertic leadership will be giving presentations, taking the agency on a field trip or two, and bringing beautifully designed items into the office. We plan to culminate this effort with an Extrovertic idea storm, where we will apply the principles of design to generate ideas on improving our environment, processes, services, products, and work lives.

The inspiration behind Extrovertic idea storms is to look beyond the world of pharmaceuticals for interesting ideas and initiatives. Using a structured brainstorming process, we then develop ways these ideas can be applied to specific business challenges. In this case, how can Extrovertic raise the bar and offer a distinctively different level of agency service? Our clients have told us Extrovertic is different, that we offer a higher level of strategic thinking than most agencies. But we want to take that further.

Until the end of this year, we will be using the world of design as inspiration to offer a distinctively different level of agency service. The world of design has already provided us with a lofty template for our initiative. It comes from Mauro Porcini, 3M’s Head of Global Strategic Design, who was featured in Fast Company’s October Design issue.

“The designer’s goal…is not customer satisfaction. That’s a terribly low bar. You’re just meeting someone’s needs. If you’re a designer who loves your customers, you surprise. You enter the sacred field of the magic, of the extraordinary, of the memorable.”

At Extrovertic, we love our clients, their patients, and the healthcare space. So we will be idea storming on how we can surprise and delight them in 2012 and beyond. Please follow our blog, add your thoughts, and enjoy a design-infused end of year.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Very Extroverted Halloween.

As Extroverts, we are naturally inclined to go a bit over the top when given the opportunity to do so.

Take Halloween for instance. Some people go minimalist—
A pair of kitty ears = a cat costume.
Horn headband=devil.

Not so when it comes to Extroverts.

Instead of merely dressing ourselves in a costume, we take it to the next level. 

So for Halloween this year, we hired face painters to come to our New York and Boston offices to kick our otherwise “non-extroverted” costumes up a notch.

Although the initial concept had been to create offices full of “walking stiffs”, the Extroverts had other ideas. While some zombies were seen walking around Cambridge and 21st St., looking like the dead, others took creative license (as we are known to do) and went a bit rogue with our designs. 

Jr. Art Director, Nathan Noyes took it upon himself to photo-composite the pictures to maximize the effect.

We had beautifully butterflied account folks.

As well as creepily two headed ones.

Copywriters gone morgue.

And project managers turned pro.

Fiendish art directors made an appearance, too

And the creepiest? Nathan (the very Extrovert who compiled this whole creepy slideshow) was the scariest of them all with a ghoulish Batman inspired clown getup.

Last but not least, Chief Extrovert, Dorothy, took us off the charts with her lovely Arab Spring ensemble.

Looking pretty darn fabulous, The Halloween festivities continued late into the evening (as did the face paint). And the take away? If you want to have a good time, all you need are a bunch of Extroverts and some face paint.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If Facebook were a country…

It would be the third largest in the world. In fact, “there are 750,000,000 people on Facebook, worldwide.”

What is it about Facebook that has gotten people so obsessed? Why do people log on over and over each day, frantically checking for news updates, party invites, offers, games, likes and relationship status changes?

These were some questions I was hoping to have answered at the Social Media Strategies Summit I recently attended. 

I was able to participate in this great conference because of a recently instated policy at Extrovertic. This program allocates a very generous annual budget for each employee to attend conferences on virtually any topic. It enables us to learn about cutting edge practices in different areas of the business. When we come back, all Extroverts are then expected to translate what we’ve learned into innovative ideas for our clients.

So why did I choose this particular conference? Even though Social Media has not yet found its niche in Pharma, if and when it does make an appearance, I want to help prepare Extrovertic. Notebook in hand, off to Boston I went.

At the conference, we had the chance to participate in one of three tracks (Non-profit, Business-to-Business and Business to Consumer). I opted for business to consumer (since it was most relevant) and, I think I made a good choice. I got to attend talks given by the VP of Technology for Tasti-D-Lite, the PR and Social Media Manager of Dunkin Donuts (yes, she brought donuts), and the Director and Interactive Media Manager of the Boston Celtics (to name a few). Over three days, I got to attend lectures on everything from the NCAA marketing approach, to the Marines' social media platform. 

The conference was an amazing opportunity to meet people in different areas of the business, all around good time and a great chance to learn about effective social media ventures that other brands have produced. I was also pretty excited about the fact that I won a Definition 6 moleskin notebook and pen because of my frequent participation in their Snaptag contest. It was the first time I’ve ever won something! 

At the end of it, I walked away with a broader understanding of social media marketing initiatives. For people who are even somewhat involved in the development of social media programs for their companies, this is a great conference series. 

I think social media and pharma are unfortunately a ways away from intersecting. But, in the future, it seems like the first place social media may find it’s home in pharmaceutical marketing is in the unbranded sector. Because of this, it’s important that we keep up to date on what is going on in the social media world. 

What do you think might be a good way in? Do you agree with social media’s heavily regulated nature in the medical world? Leave a note with your opinion!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

My 9/11 Began On 9/10

I don't know if it's a symptom of the mass post-traumatic disorder we all experienced after 9/11, or if it's simply because each decade becomes proportionately smaller as we age, but for me, the past decade flew by like no other. Just as it does for many people, 9/11 feels, to me, like much more recent history.

But my personal 9/11 odyssey began not on that day, but the day before. At 6:00 pm, to be exact.

That's when my creative partner, Alfredo Rossi, and I were at Ogilvy; attending the pre-production meeting for a TV commercial we were to begin shooting early the next morning.

Ironically, the spot to be shot was for New York City tourism.

The concept?

"New York City: The Ultimate Theme Park." A wonderland filled with all kinds of exciting rides (the subway, buses and cabs), more international experiences than Epcot, and lots of great characters (the Naked Cowboy and other such street performers).

We wanted to focus on the things that give our city its vibrancy and character, while only peripherally showing the typical tourist attractions, like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and yes – the World Trade Center.

Our director took us through the board, frame by frame, as the producer spelled out the logistics of each shot: we'd start just after dawn at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, then move on to a street scene in Prospect Park.

Suddenly, a client who we had never met before (but a pretty famous name) interrupted the proceedings to announce, "I want to see the Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. The World..."

The director, a man obviously skilled at these matters, finished the sentence for him. "The World Trade Center. We end our day near there tomorrow, so if you can get us the permit, we can shoot a scene there in the early evening." 

Satisfied, our surprise celebrity client remained quiet the rest of the meeting.

Around 6:00 am on 9/11, I pulled into a garage on Duane St. in lower Manhattan and walked to a coffee shop, where our crew had been assembling. We boarded a couple of vans, which whisked us past the Towers and into Brooklyn.

The first scene, in the Botanical Gardens, went beautifully. After all, it was, as everyone will recall, a gorgeous, clear day. A perfect day for our shoot.

As we massed at the vans in a parking area in the Gardens, before moving on to our next location, I noticed a strange cloud formation directly ahead of us.

"It looks like smoke," said Alfredo.

At that very moment, Carrie, our producer, came running towards our van. "Turn on the radio," she said. "A small plane just hit one of the Twin Towers."

As we turned on the radio, another plane came into, and then out of view, swallowed by the smoky cloud. A voice on the radio completed the picture. This plane had hit the other Tower.

Two planes had just slammed into the two tallest skyscrapers in NYC. This was not an accident. This was beyond horrible.

We didn't know what to do.

In retrospect, it seems insane. But we went to our next location – the entire production crew – set up our scene, and started shooting. We had a bride and groom coming down the front steps of an old brownstone.

As our beautiful scene unfolded, a more bizarre one enveloped us. Debris started raining down. People were coming out of their homes in a panic, their mouths covered. Sirens were blasting everywhere.

The first Tower came down.

Everyone was looking up at the sky as rumors began spreading about other planes heading for the city. Military jets started appearing overhead.

We finally decided to scrap the shoot and all wandered into a restaurant on Atlantic Ave. Some of the crew then ventured over to the Promenade just as the second Tower fell.

Carrie and I walked to the Brooklyn Bridge, hoping to get back to the city. But the exodus of the walking wounded was coming our way. People in tatters, covered in dust, dazed, expressionless. The police weren't allowing anyone to go the other way.

After many hours of trying to get a cellular signal, I finally reached my wife, who reminded me that my cousins, Scott and Jen, lived in Brooklyn Heights. We made our way to their apartment and were graciously welcomed in. Amazingly, the windows of their place looked out straight across the water, perfectly framing the spot lit, smoldering crater where the Towers had stood only a few hours earlier.

Scott, who worked at the Trade Center, had arrived shortly before I did. Fortunately, he was okay. But I could tell he had witnessed things nobody should ever see.

After a sleepless night, I nervously took the subway back into the city, to Penn Station, where I would catch my train back to New Jersey and the hugs of my wife and daughters.

10 days later, my daughter, Hannah, and I were at Shea Stadium when Mike Piazza hit that magical, winning home run against the Braves in the first baseball game played after the attacks. It's often said that the healing began with that swing of the bat.

My 9/11 experience was Zelig-like. Surreal. Bizarre.

Here's to the thousands for whom it was simply tragic.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's a Billboard. It's a Store. It's Brilliant.

I was looking at this year's Cannes Lion award winners and was struck by one idea so simple, innovative, and transformational, it's no wonder it won the Grand Prix for media. 

Tesco, a leading supermarket and general merchandise store just about everywhere but here in the U.S., wanted to increase its share in South Korea (where the brand is called HomePlus and is ranked number 2), but without investing in real estate.

The company found that South Koreans are the 2nd busiest, hardest-working people in the world. These folks need a break. After all that work, who wants to spend time shopping?

So instead of making these busy people find time to go to the store, Tesco brought the store right to where the busiest people are: the subway.

It placed backlit transit posters throughout the Seoul subway system that look amazingly like grocery store shelves. Dairy case shelves. Produce shelves. Butcher shelves. 

The "products" on these "shelves" are perfectly to scale, and perfectly realistic. And on each  product is a QR code, the graphic stamp that is starting to replace the bar code around the world (even here in the U.S.).

When a commuter/shopper snaps a picture of a product with the QR code reader app on his or her smartphone, it is ordered, paid for, and delivered soon after he or she gets home.

What we have here is a perfect combination of understanding the target, finding a way to bring value to his or her life, transforming a billboard into store, and a commute home from work into a painless trip to the supermarket.

Nice job.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

At Least For One Extrovert, the Quake Was Earth Shaking

Copy Extrovert, Jamie Silverman reflects on the Great East Coast Quake of 2011. Just as I discovered in Rome back in 2009, the first real reverberations were felt online.


Technical prowess, digital capability and Internet advancement have changed the way we experience and share news with one another. In olden days, people would sit down with a newspaper to learn the latest goings on (okay, so this is one trend that's still hanging by a thread for the moment – you get the point). But seriously, way back when, a man arriving on horseback shouting about what was going on over yonder in the next town used to be the expected mode of getting news. Word from abroad took weeks to arrive. Fast forward a few hundred years and we are receiving news updates up to the second. 

Why my current obsession with the news? Because of Tuesday's earthquake, that’s why. 

While sitting at my desk in the corner of the Extrovertic office, I felt the ground shake. I looked up and asked my coworkers if they felt anything. Once the tremors stopped, we all wanted to know if we truly had felt an earthquake or if it was all our imagination. So everyone tuned in to the local news websites.

I on the other hand, logged on to Facebook and Twitter.

Within minutes, I had received confirmation from the social-media sphere, that we had in fact experienced an earthquake of a 5.9 magnitude. Some of my favorite posts:

Credibility be damned, my first inclination was not to check out the New York Times or, but rather to assume that the tweeters of the world would be the best source of information.

Though I do think Twitter, Facebook and the like are great sources of information, I have to wonder if it’s sort of a modern-day Wikipedia. Chock full of information, some of it credible, some not, all requiring an open mind and critical eye upon reading.

What do you think?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Social Media Overload?

Some of these names, you might recognize. Others, you probably don’t.

All of them are various iterations of social networking sites; a phenomenon of the last ten years or so, that has changed the way we interact with one another.

When it comes to social networking, the list of viable tools is endless. Whether you are interested in finding someone who shares your passion of small dogs or jade plants, future husbands, job opportunities or frustrations with parking spots in New York City, you can log on, sign in and find someone who fits the bill.

For some, these endless opportunities to meet and interact with people is highly enticing. For others, completely and utterly overwhelming.

Which is the right site for you? How can you work a job, have a family and friends, and simultaneously be expected to be ridiculously plugged in?

In a recent NY Times article about strategizing for those people who are “digitally fatigued,” it was reported that one in every four-and-a-half minutes spent on the Web is spent on a social networking site or blog.

So what’s the answer: Should you log in more? Less? Find new sites? Stick with the old ones?

As suggested by the article, one solution is find one or two sites that really work for you and stick with them.  For the socialites, perhaps Facebook is your best bet. Looking for job opportunities? Join LinkedIn.

Or maybe the choice is to rotate your networking sites. Join Yackit discussions for the first half of the year and then begin tweeting in the second half.

With so many choices, the possibilities are endless. All you have to do is find your personal networking groove.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Twitter Cuts To the Truth

It's Sunday, July 3rd. It's pouring outside.

I had to go into the office for a while yesterday, so I feel no remorse in dedicating today to complete rest and relaxation.

Djokovic has just won the Wimbledon title, so I pick up the remote and start channel surfing.

I land at MSNBC and find myself transfixed on something I had vowed never to follow: the Casey Anthony murder trial. But not just any day of the trial –  the closing arguments. 

I miss the prosecution's argument, but catch defense attorney, José Baez, as he tries to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.

He mentions garbage that had been left to rot in the trunk of Anthony's car, possibly creating the "smell of death" that the prosecution has made a focal point of their case. He says the trash left in the trunk included cheese.

Then, he says something that blows my mind.

In wrapping up the defense argument in a trial in which his client may face the death penalty if she's found guilty of the gruesome murder of her child, Baez says to the jury, and I quote:

"They want you to know who cut the cheese."

My jaw dropped. I have no idea what his intent was. Was he trying to use humor to break the tension in the room? Did he not realize that this phrase is used as a euphemism for something else?

I don't know. 

So I do what I've done for a few years now, whenever I want an instantaneous snapshot of people's reactions to something I've just seen or heard:

I find that I'm far from alone in my shock and disdain. Twitter is such an amazing tool for reading the mind of America.

Apparently, the mind of America considers Baez a tool, too. 


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Extrovertic Has Gone to the Dogs

Those who have been up to the 7th floor of our West 20th St. office in New York City will attest to the fact that space has gotten a little precious these days.

We've been growing rapidly to such an extent that we've had to take additional space on two other floors at that address as well as in an office on West 19th St.

The good news is that construction of our big, beautiful, brand new office at 30 West 21st St. will be completed within the next month, and all of the NYC Extroverts will soon be under one roof. 

So what does an agency short for space do to boost the morale of its people?

Bring in more bodies!

Not human bodies; canine ones.

In support of  Bide A Wee and Pet Sitters International, we invited our employees to bring in their 4-legged family members for not just one, but two days of togetherness. First on Tuesday, and then again on Friday, the official national Take Your Dog to Work Day.

I have to admit, the presence of these pooches in our office really did have a great effect on the environment. I think our collective blood pressure was probably brought down quite a bit.

For the most part, everyone got along fabulously. (Harley Reilly and Lily Wetzel-Sugarman did have to be kept apart for a while.) 

Herman Drossman and Sally Shechtman were both pretty laid back, while young Luna Merino (in her best little skirt) is still not quite office-broken. Cassie Graff was very well-behaved during her short visit.

Speaking of visits, on Friday, we were graced with the presence of Dr. Robert Gordon, director of the Oakland Animal Hospital in Oakland, NJ.

Dr. Gordon spoke to us about the human-pet bond, which is something in which we at Extrovertic have a particular interest.

As our name suggests, everything we do is about improving the bond between various parties– patient and brand, patient and doctor, patient and caregiver, and now pets and the people who love them.

And in the process, Extrovertic and Extroverts. 


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Regardless of What You Call the Business, It's Evolving

Interactive Marketing Trends
What an amazing time it is to be in the healthcare/pharma/advertising/marketing strategy/digital/social media/relationship marketing/closed loop marketing/consulting business.

Every day brings new challenges. New solutions. New technologies. New surprises. New potential. New growth.

This is not your father's healthcare/pharma/advertising/marketing strategy/digital/social media/relationship marketing/closed loop marketing/consulting business.

It's certainly not the world of advertising I grew up in. And thank god for that. (Actually, I didn't know then what I was missing.)

Then, creative was strictly left to the creatives. We were tasked to develop smart print/radio/TV/direct mail. Later, there were banners/Web sites/emails...

Today, everyone has to be creative. And I mean everyone. Because the charge of an agency today is to create more than just great ads and online messages. It's about creating strategically smart, compelling, holistic, cross-platform programs that strike just the right chord with patients/caretakers/professionals. That connect with them at just the right place in their hearts and moment of their journey. That maximize engagement, incite doctor-patient dialogue, invite more positive and healthful behaviors, better adherence and spread overall good karma.

Then, the creative brief was the domain of the planners and creatives.

Today, everyone needs to get involved, because everyone can bring their unique perspective to the party, and the earlier they do it, the better.

And today's version of "everyone" is different from tomorrow's, as we try to keep up with the ever-evolving tableau of insights/technologies/solutions/regulatory issues...

As I said, it's an exciting time to be in the healthcare/pharma/advertising/marketing strategy/digital/social media/relationship marketing/closed loop marketing/consulting business.

Which by next week, will probably have an even longer name.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunday Was No Walk In the Park

Last Sunday, Copy Extrovert Jamie Silverman (above, far right) braved the rain to take part in the annual NYC AIDs Walk. Here's her report:

The crowd roared, “EX-TRO-VERT-IC!, EX-TRO-VER-TIC!, EX-TRO-VER-TIC!,” as our band of merry Extroverts crossed the starting line at the NYC AIDS Walk this past Sunday. 

Okay, so maybe that didn’t happen. But, clad in our Extrovertic-branded shirts, we did make a fierce showing on a dreary, rainy day.

And we were just mere specks in the sea of thousands of dedicated folks who braved the elements to do their part in the fight against AIDS.

Young, old, gay, straight, in drag, or wearing their team T-shirts, every possible demographic was represented. Free snacks abounded (always a cause for excitement).

But I would say that the surprise appearance of the cast of the television comedy, “Modern Family” (Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, and Julie Bowen), at the opening ceremony was the highlight of the day.

Briefly meeting a coworker’s mom en-route was the piéce de résistance.

(The festively clad cheerleaders showing their pride, and lubricant – brand sponsored garbage cans, tied for second.)  

The 6-mile walk began on the east side of Central Park, took us on a scenic (albeit extremely slow moving) tour up through Harlem, and back down the west side.

Celebrities and mom sightings aside, what really made the day special was the sense that every one of us – no matter our ethnicity or sexual orientation – were in this thing together. Slogging through the raindrops and mud, we all marched on, in the hope of making a real difference. A veritable army of Extroverts. All working towards the common goal of elevating the patient. We were walking for the brave people who suffer from AIDS.

It was a great experience.
And, quite likely, the first of many Extrovertic AIDS Walks.



Friday, May 13, 2011

Unmasking an Extrovertic Hero

Last night, a number of  us at Extrovertic had the privilege of attending the Cielo Latino "Unmask AIDs" gala in support of the Latin Commission on AIDs, for which we were a sponsor.

It was an incredible night. The food was superb (the event was held at Cipriani Wall Street).

The crowd, extremely diverse and primed for a wonderful evening.

The presenters, top rate. (Rosie Perez was as hysterically raunchy as she was passionate about the night's cause.)

But Rosie wasn't the only person whose dedication to the evening's success was palpable.

Our Digital Creative Extrovert, Russell Wakelin (above left), was our personal master of ceremonies. Russ has sat, for the past few years, on the commission's board, and serves as Creative Director for the annual event. It's something he cares about deeply and it shows.

It quickly became clear that he was as much a part of the fabric of the evening as the red carpet we all got to pose on before entering the building. (Guillermo Chacon, the President of the Commission, greeted Russ – and the rest of us – with open arms for the paparazzi. Mr. Chacone also saluted Russ 
warmly from the podium during his opening remarks.)

And for good reason. Russ did terrific job, which was no surprise to us. He helped make the evening extremely powerful and memorable.
And his colleagues extremely proud. 

Russ showed the rest of the world why our Extroverts are truly something special.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

When a Duck Tweets and Other Birdbrain Social Media Gaffes

Last month, comedian Gilbert Gottfried was relieved of his 11-year job as the voice of the Aflac spokes-duck, for tweeting a series of offensive jokes about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

(While the jokes were truly in bad taste, the fact that 75% of Aflac’s business comes from Japan probably didn’t help Gottfried’s situation.)

He quickly offered an apology, but the damage had already been done. And while the duck had lost its voice, Aflac had smartly turned a major social media gaffe into a huge opportunity: it invited the public to audition for the role. Thousands have tried out so far and the press coverage has been a boon for the company. Also, Aflac got behind the Red Cross in Japan and created a Facebook page to raise funds for it that currently has about 249,000 “likes.”

The company’s quick response to Gottfried’s insensitivity was brilliant. Others have not been so smart:

  1. Jordan Spriggs, a freshman defensive back for the Auburn Tigers sent out this tweet: “man who is good at writing papers?????????????? I pay.” Obviously, the young man is as unknowledgeable about tweeting as he is writing school papers. 
  2. Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest and a number of other semi-celebs threatened to stop tweeting until the AIDs charity, Keep a Child Alive raised $1 million. The thought was nice. But seriously: who in his or her right mind could feel that a life deprived of Kardashian tweets is a life not worth living? 
  3. In Syracuse, NY, a customer of the Price Chopper supermarket chain tweeted a complaint about the local store. A customer service person at Price Chopper responded by complaining to the complainer’s boss. Somehow this all ended up going viral.
These are just a few examples of the dangers of social media when it’s not used thoughtfully. There must be many, many more. I invite you to share any you’ve heard.