Horror Culture

With his sect “The Family”, he had killed seven people in Los Angeles in August 1969, including the wife of Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate.

Charles Manson could have been the name of a marginal hippie singer from Los Angeles. In the 1960s, at the peak of the “Flower Power” years, he had indeed composed several pieces, and had almost failed to associate with Dennis Wilson, the drummer and founding member of the Beach Boys. His name is finally entered into history by the most macabre door, and he will be remembered as the morbid guru of a criminal sect called The Family. In August 1969, he had urged his followers – most of whom were young women – to stab seven people, including Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski’s wife, who was 26 years old and eight months pregnant.

Charles Manson died on November 19 at the age of 83 at a hospital in Bakersfield, California, where he was rushed. He was serving a life sentence because the California Supreme Court had abolished capital punishment in the state in 1972.


In the 1960s, he founded a community in the California desert called The Family. It had 25 members, mostly girls who saw him as a Christ figure. It was mostly a sect of which he was the guru. Persuaded that the world was running at the Apocalypse, and that it was necessary to prepare to defend against Black’s takeover of the whites, he had devised a plan to provoke a racial conflict. So he wanted to blame the Black community of Los Angeles for the murders of Sharon Tate and four of his friends in a beautiful neighborhood. This racist prophecy was announced in his words by Helter Skelter, the Beatles, explains the swastika he had tattooed on his forehead. He was found guilty of committing these crimes, as well as two others that occurred in the summer of 1969.

What is really interesting is the sort of marketing or, for the least, their influence on our pop culture. Since then, Charles Manson was the epitome of evil in the United States, even though his guru’s grip was such that hippies continued to defend him throughout his incarceration. This morbid story has inspired many writers and filmmakers. For example, American writer Madison Smartt Bell, author of The Color of the Night (2011), told us: “Manson was the most effective terrorist in America. He had only six casualties, but he had a frightful fright all over the country, he persuaded people that their children wanted to kill them. ” More recently, The Girls, by Emma Cline, is inspired by the Manson family to better probe the subjugation of teens to a monstrous guru.

What is interesting is the definite attraction from the public for those criminals. Serial killers stories have inspired many artists. They always did, look at director Fincher works and inspirations from ‘Seven’ to ‘Zodiac’ and ‘Mindhunter’. And I don’t even tall about thousands of books, films and content that were related by the horror they were perpetrating. If you like artefacts, you can even go to websites like Serialkillersink.net to have access to items mainstream sites refuse to sell. Musical artists have also been inspired by this story. Marilyn Manson borrowed his name, and recorded an album (Portrait of an American Family) in the house where Sharon Tate was murdered. And the Kasabian group takes its name from Linda Kasabian, a member of the Family who kept watch, but did not kill, during the murder of Sharon Tate and her friends. She even chose to testify against Manson to escape prosecution. Quentin Tarantino is preparing a film about the murder of Sharon Tate.

This fascination must nurture their existence in a sense. The fascination of the people did not bring brands to play with it too much but surely the culture is definitely influenced by their morbid stories. Being honest, they are maintaining our darkest sides of our personality. And most of the times, it makes us feel kinda…good.


Alibaba Eco-System

Alibaba Group has smashed the record for one-day online shopping sales with its Singles Day (11.11) event generating a staggering $25.3 billion within 24 hours. The company processed 1.48 billion transactions during the period. The previous record was Alibaba’s own $17.8 billion in sales during last year’s Singles Day. To put these numbers into context, retailers drew in a record $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday and $3 billion on Black Friday, which makes Alibaba’s sales sound even more mind-blowing.


But we tend to forget a simple thing – we should not even compare those results with what people may know from US. The performance is beyond comparison. Alibaba did not reinvent retail, it just invented a new way to make business. That’s pretty it, a different eco-system and very smart moves are making those guys getting into a different dimension. And stop comparing them to Amazon, they invent something else. Just to refresh your memory, this video from the New York Times was explaining it all. These companies are just doing something else from what we know so far.


The Walking (not so) Dead

A classic advertising thing – a man (I don’t know why, mostly men), walking and talking. It can be boring, it can be inspiring…well, the thing is that we can’t even understand why they talk to us while walking. Surely because it makes the whole thing more entertaining.

Not only. It may be considered as a simple narrative pattern, a symbolic that is accepted by most of the people to be associated with progress, success, evolution, determination, overcoming barriers…Walking is the simplest but still the clearest storytelling tool to express that your brand is modern and actual, but is always moving forward in terms of innovation. It supports the vision…or not really. Or it’s just a trick to show a lot of things happening with a linear construction.

Abbey Road Reverse

Spoiler – I could not find enough bad examples. Great work as well

Advertising Intelligence

Advertising is a lot about understanding people and their behavior. The ability of artificial intelligence systems to transform vast amounts of complex information into insight is driving personal analysis into market behavior. There are nearly 2 billion Facebook users globally. About 200 billion tweets are shared on Twitter every year. Google processes 40,000+ searches every second. And now we can assess all that. These are undeniably powerful tools, and no one can blame the advertising industry for rapidly adopting them.

But AI also introduces troubling ethical considerations. Advertisers may soon know us better than we know ourselves. They’ll understand more than just our demographics. They’ll understand our most personal motivations and vulnerabilities. Would it go until violations of personal privacy? We need a code of ethics that will govern our use of AI in marketing applications, and ensure transparency and trust in our profession.

Future of Advertising

All about Trust

The more complete our understanding of an individual, the more persuasive our marketing can be. But each new insight into a consumer raises new questions about our moral obligations to that individual — and to society at large.

Data, Data and more Data

AI is fueled by data, which is used to train algorithms and sustain the system. If data is inaccurate or biased in any way, those weaknesses will be reflected in decisions made by the AI system. Often, these data sets reflect preexisting human biases.

Algorithms in Command

AI engines contain codes that refine raw data into insight. They dictate how the AI system operates, but are designed and developed by humans. Which means that their instructions should be “explainable.”When you don’t know the internal functions and benefits — the recipe for authentic trust isn’t there.

Consumer Power

Consumers should be aware of the techniques being used to market to them, and have the option of participating in those campaigns. Transparency should be key here to make sure that people are in the know and accept the conditions.

We understand the power of AI to understand people better and better. And we should never forget we are the decision-makers of the situation and it’s up to us to frame properly the way we want to progress and design our work in the future. How would you explain your role in making it the right way in advertising?

Positioning, now find a Position

Brand managers used to be very careful not to mix political, societal or risky issues and the brands’ speech. They used to be more than careful. But we live in moments where people are expecting brands to take a stand. There are too many issues around the world, in all countries and all layers of the society. And the issues are getting more troubling with the increasing power of social media and communication possibilities.

Whether you agree or not, the above decisions were at the low end of the risk scale. Wading into a third-rail issue like immigration, abortion, or even climate change, can be far more perilous to a brand reputation. The research isn’t definitive, but most studies show that taking a stand amidst controversy does come with risk. But people are changing – our lovely Millennials – are far more likely to say that brands should take a clear stand. Apple did something remarkable this year, coming against an anti-LGBT bill. Companies are starting to recognize that their customers care not only about what they sell but also about what they stand for. And customers care more and more about what they fight for. The surge of brand activism we’ve seen in the past few years has been decades in the making. With the rise of social media, citizen journalism, and near-universal access to publishing tools, brands are simply more aware of what their customers think. The same tools give brands the opportunity to join issue conversations, brands aim to nurture customer relationships that are lifelong, built not just on product features but also on shared cultural values.


It’s worth distinguishing brand activism–when a company takes concrete actions to advance a cause or issue position–from mere cultural capitalism. These days, almost all companies are cultural capitalists, using their marketing and their business practices to establish a set of values you buy into when you buy their products.

Fight Club


Brand activism isn’t a natural fit for every company and risks can be more than annoying. Taking a stand is polarizing and could turn off or even drive away potential customers who don’t agree with you. Also, if your company is in a business that’s fundamentally controversial, well, that can be really bad, putting oil on the fire, to say the least.


Don’t do it for marketing purposes, it must be rooted in what your company and your employees really believe. It must be real, don’t fake it.


It’s important for companies engaging in brand activism to be seen as leaders in their industry, not followers. You can definitely lead your competitors to join your cause and everybody will remember that you started the movement.


When the heat is on, it may be tempting to retreat from an unpopular position, but a flip-flop can worsen the situation by angering a whole new tribe of consumers. It’s far better to weather the storm.


Every action gets a reaction. Your brand should be ready for that. Because taking a position or a stand requires to be prepared for contradiction.

Consumers are more than ready to follow the brands that are going further than products and services, brands sharing their values and their fights. A perfect time to get bold, or simply to be honest.


Why Millennials Listen to Shitty Music?

As a proud representative of the X-generation and certainly a big music and talent connoisseur since my prime age, I’m completely dazzled by the lack of new interesting ‘singer’ and ‘author’ that can be discovered nowadays (not talking about computing and other vocoders). Maybe we can list couple of contemporary artist and try to imagine if they will make history – Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and few others – I deliberately forgetting the better ones. Looking to billboards, it’s quite a despair for the ears. But maybe, the young generation is as passionate about music as we are/were. But it just has a different place in their life.

Having a look to the great article from Paul Resnikoff (Digital Music News) about Millennial music fans, then, we may understand that it may not be only about music but about so many other things. Well, at least 7 things to have in mind:

They Crave Mundane Intimacy.

“Millennials crave intimate glimpses into the mundane daily activities of their favorite celebrities,” Allison Hillhouse of MTV Research states.

53% of Millennials say the more an artist shares online about himself or herself, the closer they feel to them.

They’re Excited about Co-Creation.

1 in 4 Millennials has made a parody. 64% relish the role of ‘tastemaker’ for friends. 58% say that feedback and connectivity are huge motivators for posting and sharing music.

They don’t care about supporting an artist and watching them grow over a career. They want to live in the moment. To have fun in this particular instant. And moreover, they don’t want to be really considered to be the taste-maker for their peers, they don’t want to take this responsibility.

They Need to be Fed Daily and Differently.

Famous social networking platforms handle their specific role in this new eco-system (Facebook, for clear information on touring or new albums, Twitter offers news and highlights interactions with other celebrities, Instagram provides a direct understanding of what artists live everyday…). It means as well that you can like the music of an artist not really for its intrinseque quality but also because you are amused or attracted by his/her specific world and lifestyle.

If They Don’t Buy Your Stuff, Don’t Take It Personally.

Younger listeners have an expectation of free, they have never been forced to pay for music in their lives; furthermore, many believe music should be free on principle. In that context, if they’re buying your stuff, they’re generally regarding it as a major gesture.  Indeed, 68 percent of Millennials interviewed by MTV said they only buy music out of respect for the artist, and they believe music should be free. And they will never buy albums; they don’t care about the meaning behind the collection of songs put together by the artist, one song at a time is more than enough.

They’re Comfortable at a ‘Zero Distance’.

This we already know: there’s an expectation of being ‘constantly accessible,’ especially on social networks.  Intimate details shall be shared.

They Shuffle.

“A Millennial list of ‘fave artists’ might be as diverse as One Direction, Etta James, Lil Wayne and The Supremes.” So, music should make them feel good and they don’t cherish one artist for being long-term productive and talent. A couple of songs would be OK. And they are always distracted…so music can be considered as a background noise – in the best case. In that case, they are just hearing and not listening.

Dr. Jean Boyd, division director for academic studies in the Baylor U. School of Music, studies popular music as a professor and researcher of American pop music. “I’m not as worried as I might be — because most of the music is so bad — but people don’t really seem to be listening to it. Not really. They are hearing it, but I don’t think they are paying that much attention,” Boyd said. “It is always in the background to everything that they do.”

There’s No Such Thing as Selling Out Anymore.

Millennials “understand that the system of getting free music/streaming means artists have to make their money somewhere.” 68% say there’s no such thing as selling out, as long as the artist isn’t being fake. But there are limits: 61% say they think less of an artist that releases products that don’t fit the image or reputation.

Beyonce do

Millenials love music just as much as any other demographic groups — it’s just different for them. They even listen to more music than us…because they have easy access to so much more of it. Before listening to music was a collective experience, maybe now it’s about being alone in some virtual communities through Spotify and other streaming platforms. But in high quantity. That shift is making even more challenging the music industry to develop and understand how to operate an efficient shift in their business model.

But there is still dome glimpse of hope for music…just a glimpse (see the whole series)

Learning Mode

Although organizations spend billion of dollars annually on leadership development, many leaders who have attended leadership programs struggle to implement what they’ve learned. It’s not because the programs are bad but because leadership is best learned from experience. Still, simply being an experienced leader doesn’t elevate a person’s skills. Like most of us, leaders often go through their experiences somewhat mindlessly, accomplishing tasks but learning little about themselves and their impact.


Our research on leadership development shows that leaders who are in learning mode develop stronger leadership skills than their peers. Building on Susan Ashford and Scott DeRue’s mindful engagement experiential learning cycle, we found that leaders who exhibit a growth mindset diligently work through each of the following three phases of the experiential learning cycle.

First, leaders set challenging learning goals in the form of “I need to learn how to…” For some leaders, the goal might be to become more persuasive or to be more approachable. With a goal in mind, leaders can identify opportunities to make progress toward it. These could include a new project, an international assignment, a job rotation, or simply striving to approach routine encounters in a fundamentally different way. Next, they find ways to deliberately experiment with alternative strategies. A leader interested in increasing their persuasiveness, for example, might experiment with sitting in a different place or speaking first or last in a critical meeting. Creating and capitalizing on learning opportunities can be bolstered by having a coach or peer provide feedback and act as a sounding board. Finally, leaders who are in learning mode conduct fearless after-action reviews, determined to glean useful insights from the results of their experimentation. Candidly reflecting on what went well, what did not go so well, and what might work better in future are essential though often neglected initiatives for learning from experience and discerning what to focus on learning next. Understanding these principles is important for organizations not just because it means that leadership development doesn’t have to be expensive, but also because it means that leadership skills can be systematically learned and practiced.

How can leaders enter learning mode? Leaders can construe setbacks as meaning they have not yet developed the required capabilities, rather than them being just not cut out for the task at hand. They can also avoid the trap of constantly seeking out places and tasks to highlight their strengths, as well as feedback that affirms their innate talents and self-esteem. Simply asking themselves, “Am I in learning mode right now?” can be a powerful cue to wholeheartedly focus, or refocus, on their leadership development, as well as their leadership performance, and thereby truly learn from their experiences. 

How can organizations help leaders enter and remain in learning mode? Organizational leaders can help rising leaders focus more on being progressively better than they were in the past, rather than on constantly benchmarking themselves against others. They can model construing mistakes as potential learning opportunities rather than as indicators of leadership inadequacy. In hiring and promotion, organizational leaders might give priority to those most likely to grow and develop in a role. Finally, they might conduct an audit of fixed mindset cues in their organization — such as the use of psychometric testing to select the most “innately qualified” high-potential leaders; forced ranking performance appraisals; and winner-take-all reward systems — and tweak them to focus more on developing than diagnosing leadership capabilities.

The bottom line is that by supporting leaders being in learning mode, organizations can develop the capabilities that leaders need to anticipate, respond to, and continually learn from the stream of emerging challenges to organizational prosperity.

(extract from Harvard Business Review, 2017)