A Brand Intuitive, Josh is currently touring a presentation nation- (and world-) wide called Brand Utopia, sharing his rules and best practices for the future of advertising, branding, publicity. He calls it brandvertisingmarkablicity
Josh still contributes to the site that he made that made him, www.joshspear.com, and is perversely younger than you.
1. Seeing as you’re the Allan Quatermain of trends, what are a few of the things you’re interested in the next couple years?
That’s flattering, comparing me to any character played by Sean Connery is a compliment! I’m really interested in companies that are enabling some type of positive change and standing for something. I’d like to think the days are over where companies’ ‘values’ can simply be their product. I’m passionate to see brands building resources, getting involved in more than just their own industry and taking chances. I’m also excited to see all the places art and technology are merging.
2. Is there an almost anthropological paradox in the kind of work you do where reporting on fresh “and immature” cultural shifts actually prematurely speeds up their cycles?
I definitely think that’s possible. It’s really interesting to see the power of ‘trend spotting’, by virtue when I mention something I find it often times jumpstarts a product cycle. Because of that, I have to continue to remain entirely 100% authentic and honest about what I write about. I adhere strictly to my policy of no paid editorial, and the simple ‘if I like it, I’ll write about it’ rule. I’ve had dozens of companies contact me after I posted something saying how sales went up, calls came in, traffic skyrocketed, etc. All I can do is smile and congratulate, it’s great to be a part of something like that.
3. How do you think that cynicism within the current crop of coming-of-age consumers will change marketing?
Simply put, brands are realizing the simple truth: You can’t sell shit. Consumers don’t have the time or patience to watch bad advertising, let alone pay for bad products. I don’t think we are cynics, we’re just being realistic.
4. I was looking at what White Castle did with Valentine’s Day (www.whitecastle.com/valentinesday): Why is it that most brands cannot take themselves a little less seriously and grow a sense of humor?
Brands are afraid of interrupting their current flow of affairs, and more often than not they’re so busy obsessing over getting a return on their investment they’re not willing to do anything remarkable. Good brands can laugh and good brands have nothing to hide. I preach that to my clients day in and day out.
5. Your official bio says that you represent “a group of people who aren’t shy about saying what they think.” I’ve found that, despite the “individualizationizing” (just made that up) of our culture, I don’t meet many of those people in the business world. Thoughts? (and yes, this is terribly formatted question.)
Again, I think it’s an ROI, Yes-man industry right now. It’s shifting quickly, but people have appreciated my consulting services and the launch of my new agency so much because we’re really a no-bullshit outfit. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time just the way we don’t want anyone to waste ours. Truth marketing is a powerful thing, and it has to start inside a brand to work outside as well.
6. Craig Newmark, Che Guevara for the new millennium?
Newmark all the way, no question. He isn’t a ‘revolutionary’, and he doesn’t try to be. He’s just an honest guy that wouldn’t sell his soul at any price. There was an interview with him recently in the New York Times where he basically said, “sell Craigslist? Never. Change the design? Not likely.”
7. Anyone ever tell you you look like Jack Kerouac?
Jack Bauer, yes. Jack Kerouac – Never, you’re the first.