Queen Avenging Syndrome

Bare with me, this does speak about marketing/client management.

If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones to the end of the final season, you’d seen a Game of queens unfold in front of your eyes. Spoiler alert and all that crap.

So, while (hurray for gender equality) one queen does get on a throne by claiming her own kingdom (Sansa of the North), we basically have two queens fighting to the death and getting both killed -Cersei and Daenerys.

Where am I getting at? In both cases, we see followers of said queens go to extra-extreme lengths for their rulers, even betraying their penultimate or last ruler (but we know loyalties are shapeshiftin’ in GoT). Even after said queen is no longer breathing. Think of the Imp talking Jon Snow/Targaryen into killing his queen (and lover! and aunt…) – in part to avenge his queen sister (ok, and brother). Think of Greyworm not being happy until Jon’s exile north of the North.

Typical “Queen Avenging Syndrome” (QAS).
Doing anything for your “queen” (be it your client or customer for instance), even when they’re gone (e.g. not your client anymore, I don’t mean dead litteraly), that is, here and there, your definition of the “Queen Avenging Syndrom”.

Where does that “queen avenging syndrom” comes from in the first place? Well, I better come clean: I got that combination of words from the Adage agency name generator and felt it was way too good to be discarded – while totally impractical as an agency name, let’s be honest.

That’s when I started picturing people going to war with some “Braveheart” speech and gimmicks, and of course, GoT popped to mind. Yes, I admit I’m trying to make a case for the QAS just because I found the name cool. And I’m not ashamed that I’m trying to retrofit some coherent definition to back it up. The thing has appeal.

Come on! You have to agree that something around the lines of “You killed my queen! You’ll pay for that. Even if I have to spend my life chasing you, etc.” sounds like a pretty awesome quest / synopsis for a GoT sequel.

Now, the 10,000 dollar question, aka the Iron Throne question, is: are you suffering from Queen Avenging Syndrom? Are you pursuing quests because of a client, employee or partner you’ve lost?

I’ve seen it happen in agencies: “because we lost Such & Such, we need to win them back” OR “because we lost Such & Such, we need an account exactly like it.” Nope you don’t! You, pal are suffering from QAS. It’s lost, get over it. New opportunities, quests and queens await. And in the word of 60’s ad prodigy George Lois: “Don’t get revenge. Get even.”

So, any queen you’re trying to avenge that you should get over?

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Vive la Révolution

Hail to new beginnings. In our times, as in any, we can’t stand still. We can’t mourn the past, nor can’t we fear the future. Everyday is a winding road. And everyday we walk that first step. We must start afresh with no loss of energy and spirit. Forward we go. That’s the way, the only way.

Godspeed to you.

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Hate is only taught. And what a horrible teaching.


It’s way past midnight in Paris. A couple hours past that horrible Friday 13th.

And I keep wondering how you can decide to end a hundred lives in a evening, lives of people out for a drink, a dinner, a concert, a game. 104 lives.

And the only thing that pops in mind is that hate. That hate that those who did this must have felt to believe such acts are justified.

112 lives. The numbers keep on coming on the TV that I can’t keep watching, but can’t shut down.

And I don’t feel any hate. Anger, Sadness, Fear, Disgust. Maybe Joy for all my friends and family members who are safe. But no hate.

You see people being wronged in life in any kind of way. Wronged by circumstances, wronged by other human beings. And they don’t hate. You see victims of the shoah talking about the horrors they lived through, the people they lost. And I can’t recall one hating. I have read interviews of Hiroshima survivors. No hate. I am not implying this must have been easy. But they moved on.

Hate is taught. Hate is not part of the normal feelings of a human being. Hate is fomented, provoked, fueled.

And what a horrible horrible teaching.

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O Google, I’m so in awe

Photo Credit: Mobstr through fubiz.net

O Google, I’m so in awe.

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you have several copies of most content produced by Mankind (online, books and videos).

O Google, I’m so in awe
That, on that note, you’ve grown a video business partly on copyright infringement grounds (more here).

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you have managed to get hundreds of millions of people (me included) to entrust you with our email accounts and messages, hence giving you (and at least one government agency) access to many of our plans and confidences.

O Google, I’m so in awe
That in the meantime you block or filter so many companies’ emails while taking their money to promote them in the inbox through “Gmail Ads” (a trick worthy of Houdini)

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you’re able to freely track billions of people’s online behaviors on virtually any site on the web through Google Analytics codes, YouTube embeds, Adsense & Google Display Network banners, Chrome usage and… of course search queries and clics (OK, that one’s fair).

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you benefit from many companies consciously or unconsciously letting you collect and store their website data (including sales and turnover) through Google Analytics.

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you can convince thousands of companies to let you handle their emails, agendas and documents through Google Apps for Work, some of these companies being potential or actual competitors (the case of the Twitter breach comes to mind*).

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you could just “penalize” (screw?) comparison services when launching your own comparison engine. While again taking money from advertisers and not being transparent with your search engine users.

O Google, I’m so in awe
That you did all that while your corporate motto once was “don’t be evil”.

That you did all that and yet have evaded antitrust regulation for so long.

That even when the FTC started a probe, you managed to avoid the tiniest scratch.

So, yes Google, I’m so in awe.
Now, let’s see what happens next.

To discuss this, engage on twitter: @guillaumerigal

Further reading on the topic:

* Note on the Twitter breach. This happened in 2009. From Arrington’s post on TechCrunch:

It’s not our fault that Google has a ridiculously easy way to get access to accounts via their password recovery question. It’s not our fault that Twitter stored all of these documents and sensitive information in the cloud and had easy-to-guess passwords and recovery questions.

And hopefully this situation will encourage Google and Google users to consider more robust data security policies in the future.

From Twitter’s own response:

This attack had nothing to do with any vulnerability in Google Apps which we continue to use.

I say WOW.

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Fifteen Quotes for your 2015 Marketing Plan and Strategy

Marketing has been undergoing tectonic changes and challenges at a very quick pace.

Some key evolutions are underway: content marketing, story telling, micro-targeting, benefit/user pain focus, authenticity in products and processes. These are but a few. And of course, with the tidal wave of Digital and Social in the background (with Interstellar wave proportions).

To illustrate how I believe Marketing is shifting -and it’s a matter of HOW not IF, I have drawn from quotes by giant marketers which I have to admit I love collecting. And so I give you Marketing in 2015 in 15 quotes.

I hope it brings you inspiration, purpose and support as you embark on your path of marketing transformation.

Please share your quotes, follow, share on Twitter and Linkedin.


Don’t count the people that you reach; reach the people who count. -David Ogilvy


Make the customer the hero of your story. -Ann Handley, Marketing Profs


Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make. -Bill Bernbach


Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. But make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. -Akio Morita


Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress. -Seth Godin


I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. -Herbert Swope


If you’re going through hell, keep going. -Winston Churchill


The aim of marketing is to make selling unnecessary. -Peter Drucker


The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.

If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.

-David Ogilvy


Make it simple but significant. -Don Draper


Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you. -Tony Hsieh


Building loyalty and trust with an audience over a long period opens up amazing opportunities to sell more, save costs, or create customers for a lifetime. -Joe Pulizzi


Don’t underestimate the value people place on authenticity. -Shelly Lazarus


A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. -Henry Ford

And to conclude:

Take the leap: tell short, personalized and genuine stories to inspire your customer to engage and buy. -Guillaume Rigal

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Terrorists’ Small Victory in Paris

Following the attacks earlier this months, I believe the terrorists didn’t succeed in scaring Parisians. For a moment we were shocked. Struck by disbelief, worried. But not afraid.

People are still walking the streets, shopping, getting to work. Life goes on.

There is however a small victory for the lunatics behind these attacks. It is in that we have the army, our army, walking the streets.

Don’t get me wrong: our soldiers are doing a terrific and necessary job, a dangerous one and clearly not an easy one. I am 200% with them.

But the truth is that no civilized city should be walked by heavily armed soldiers. No harm meant but this is not a trading post in Afghan mountains we are talking about. This is Paris, the city of lights and a city of peace. The city of Droits de l’Homme and Freedom.

This morning I was walking alongside a platoon of 8 soldiers carrying their backpacks, holding machine guns in their hands, and wearing bulletproof jackets. In a quiet neighborhood. For me, born and raised in Paris, this is striking. I know other major cities live with that (Tel-Aviv springs to mind) and to some extent Parisians have been used to seeing teams of 3 armed soldiers in the subway since the attacks of 1995. But this morning, this gave me a totally different feeling and perspective.

Crédit : KrzysztofTe</a
Crédit : KrzysztofTe

To me this is death by a thousand cuts for our European/western democracy model. Because these soldiers are the tip of the iceberg, the visible part of our global fight against raving madmen who seem to have sworn their lives to destroy that model. Our loss of privacy, whether obvious (street cameras) or more subtle (telecommunications spying), is an even bigger dent in what I perceive is our model, our values and our way of life.

So, even if it’s not news, it feels, just three weeks after the attacks, like the jihadists have scored a small victory. Not the one they intended. I am not scared by them. But I am worried by the world we are shaping for us and our kids, starting on our very doorsteps.

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Tuesday Marketing Book Club #6 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


During this holiday season, I quickly reread the brilliant Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Oh, boy, that’s a marketing lesson sprinkled with a good dose of inspiration and wrapped in brilliantness.

Here are the 6 gems for the marketer that I fished in the great chocolate river.

1. Dahl is a master story teller. Learn how to tell a story

If you don’t know how to tell a story to kids, you’re not good enough.
First, because kids are the easiest crowd to engage with a story: they want to hear it, they want to believe.
Then, because kids are also the hardest crowd to please: they are not going to be polite if your story sucks. No social filter there. Likewise, if your story’s good you’ll know it (“again!”).

So, learn the tricks from a master story teller. As you read, don’t skim. Try to understand the mechanics. So you can use that to tell your story (or your company’s or your client’s…). A great way to engage your audience – in an elevator, at a networking event, on stage, in your next ad…

2. There is no better book about Sweepstakes!

That golden ticket quest. It can’t get better than that. OK, it’s fictitious and it doesn’t tell you how to write T&C’s. Apart from that, a visit of a secret factory, meeting the founder and getting a lifelong supply of chocolate. All prizes that work for me. [Spoiler alert, but seriously, who doesn’t know the story: the “winner” actually gets the whole factory. Not too shabby a prize]

3. The pillars of brand building


I do wonder whether Steve Jobs got his tricks from Willy Wonka:

  1. Scarcity of product and information
  2. Cult of the founder
  3. Grandiose staging of each apparition
  4. Getting products just right and leaving competition in the dust
  5. Extreme attention to detail
  6. Pride in the product

“I can’t abide ugliness in factories!” –Willy Wonka
“Every drop of that river is hot melted chocolate of the finest quality. The very finest quality” – Willy Wonka
“No other factory in the world mixes its chocolate by waterfall! But it’s the only way to do it properly. The only way” –Willy Wonka

(In the Inventing room) Mr Wonka himself had suddenly become even more excited than usual, and anyone could see that this was the room he loved best of all.

On that note, there is sadly a parallel with factory workers exploitation. Wonka has the famous Oompa Loompas and even squirrels working for him for peanuts, or to be precise for cocoa beans and nuts respectively. Not sure what to make of that in light of working conditions at major electronic contractors like Foxconn.

4. Product naming

Wonka’s Whipple-scrumptious fudgemallow delight.
Wonka’s nutty crunch surprise.

Need I say more?

Just in case you are thicker than Augustus Gloop:

  1. Both are descriptive (feature) and state a promise (benefit)
  2. The name are a mouthful and are mouthwatering which is great for chocolate treats (Cadbury fruits and nuts, M&Ms or Snickers really pale in comparison)
  3. The name is just like the product: crazy, imaginative, delicious.

Two more just for fun:
Everlasting Gobstoppers anyone?
Square candies that look round? (hilarious pun)

5. Using personal experiences to feed your creativity

If you’ve read Boy, which is the first part of Dahl’s autobiography relating his childhood, you’ll remember this anecdote: his school was close to an actual chocolate factory and students were getting samples from the factory which they “had” to taste and rate.

This led a few decades later to that wonderful book.

Funnily, in Tim Burton’s version, Wonka has his creativity and love of treats fueled by his frustrations as a kid – his father, a dentist, didn’t allow him to enjoy treats.

6. The power of illustrations


Well, kids like their books with pictures. And to be fair, so do we grownups. : )
Many books by Dahl contain illustrations. Photographs or letters in Going Solo. The brilliant illustrations of Quentin Blake in the case of Charlie. They go so well with Dahl’s stories and writing style. Blake’s first collaboration with Dahl is The Enormous Crocodile which is just off the wall (more on their relationship here)

PS- Finally, it’s Christmas and winter in the northern hemisphere. What a time to be reading a wonderful story about chocolate and not watching too much “TV” (i.e. screens). Especially, if like me, you have kids to share the story with.

I welcome your comments and suggestions through Twitter or Linkedin.

Get it now from Amazon: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

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Tuesday Marketing Book Club #5 – A Technique for Producing Ideas by Webb Young

My choice for this Tuesday’s marketing book is “A Technique for Producing Ideas”, a thin paperback by James Webb Young. Written in the 1965 it has become a cult and I’ve seen it referenced in other advertising books (like It’s not how good you are… which I featured last month). The foreword is by the man who changed the industry and got the creative juices flowing on Madison Avenue, Mr Bill Bernbach of DDB.

James Webb Young is no stranger to the world of creativity: he was the First Chairman of The Advertising Council and among other distinctions, received the Advertising Man of the Year Award in 1946 and was inducted in the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.

I enjoyed reading this book for its simplicity and common sense. In our age of constant interruption and internet-induced procrastination, it is a good reminder of how to get focus and get the job done. It also reinforces how we, marketers, should always research our markets and products and give time for ideas to emerge – “the Mental Digestive Process”.

You can’t rush art. But you can put a repeatable process behind your idea generation.

What do you think? Please join our Tuesday Marketing Book Club linkedin group to discuss.

Get it from Amazon here:
A Technique for Producing Ideas

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Tuesday Marketing Book Club #4 – Animal Farm by George Orwell

The book this week may seem like an oddball choice. What does Orwell’s classic Animal Farm have to do in a book review for Marketing professionals?

When I decided to launch this series, I set for myself to choose classic books, not limited to Marketing, not the latest fads. Strong writing that could teach us valuable lessons and inspire us.

In Animal Farm, I see a powerful and inspirational book.

1) It reminds us that marketing can be a powerful force for good as well as for evil.

Propaganda is a very potent form of Marketing, often very efficient, but aimed at conveying and pollinizing evil ideas. In Animal Farm, there is no doubt about the kind of totalitarian regime that Orwell is depicting through a fable. Orwell had been a first-hand witness of the war in Spain and wanted to alert its contemporaries about the real nature of the (then alluring) communist model.

Orwell shows the mechanic of how a totalitarian regime emerges in a grotesque way. That being said, Orwell is very close to the truth. I remember a discussion a couple of years ago with a friend in Germany who was a child when Hitler and his party rose to elected government. His dad was smoking and cigarette packs were coming with animal cards kids could collect. He showed me how that evolved under the influence of the Nazis into propaganda items – animals in that case, were slowly replaced by soldiers and other icons of nationalism.

So yep. Propaganda, fact fabrication, rhetoric and oratories, youth indoctrination, fearmongering, anthems… it’s all in Animal Farm.

Seth Godin (in the book from last Tuesday) makes a strong argument that marketer have to be a force for good. I can only support that:

 “Marketing is powerful. Use it wisely” –Seth Godin

One of many examples in Animal Farm:

Starvation seemed to stare them in the face. It was vitally necessary to conceal this fact from the outside world. (…) Napoleon was well aware of the bad results that might follow if the real facts of the food situation were known, and he decided to make use of Mr. Whymper (note : the animal’s intermediary) to spread a contrary impression. (…) A few selected animals, mostly sheep, were instructed to remark casually in his hearing that rations had been increased. In addition, Napoleon ordered the almost empty bins in the store-shed to be filled nearly to the brim with sand, which was then covered up with what remained of the grain and meal. (…) Whymper was led through the store-shed and allowed to catch a glimpse of the bins. He was deceived, and continued to report to the outside world that there was no food shortage on Animal Farm.


2) It goes a long way to show storytelling is maybe the strongest device in our arsenal.

Storytelling is such a strong tool to make ideas progress that I’m still puzzled it’s not used better and more often by marketers. This was the main point in Seth Godin’s book from last Tuesday. It’s very well exemplified with Orwell’s world renowned best seller. I am sure there are many essays and thesis written on the topic of totalitarianism and how it arises. Yet, in 140 pages, Orwell does a better job to spread the idea than any other author. The fact it is a tale makes the concept easier to grasp, more approachable. And this makes the point even more poignant as there is a perfidious irony in using animals in a farm to make that point. Orwell blatantly called Russian communists pigs. It’s crazy he didn’t got assassinated for this.

For instance, Orwell created typical profiles examplpified by animal species – don’t they fit people you have had on your projects? The work horse, the smart ass, the useless but adorable cat.

Boxer was the admiration of everybody. He had been a hard worker even in Jones’s time, but now he seemed more like three horses than one; there were days when the entire work of the farm seemed to rest on his mighty shoulders. From morning to night he was pushing and pulling, always at the spot where the work was hardest. He had made an arrangement with one of the cockerels to call him in the mornings half an hour earlier than anyone else, and would put in some volunteer labour at whatever seemed to be most needed, before the regular day’s work began. His answer to every problem, every setback, was ‘I will work harder!’ — which he had adopted as his personal motto.


And the behaviour of the cat was somewhat peculiar. It was soon noticed that when there was work to be done the cat could never be found. She would vanish for hours on end, and then reappear at meal-times, or in the evening after work was over, as though nothing had happened. But she always made such excellent excuses, and purred so affectionately, that it was impossible not to believe in her good intentions.

Old Benjamin, the donkey, seemed quite unchanged since the Rebellion. He did his work in the same slow obstinate way as he had done it in Jones’s time, never shirking and never volunteering for extra work either. About the Rebellion and its results he would express no opinion. When asked whether he was not happier now that Jones was gone, he would say only ‘Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey,’ and the others had to be content with this cryptic answer.

Dreams and personal anecdotes are always sure crowd pleasers:

“And now, comrades, I will tell you about my dream of last night. I cannot describe that dream to you. It was a dream of the earth as it will be when Man has vanished. But it reminded me of something that I had long forgotten. Many years ago, when I was a little pig, my mother and the other sows used to sing an old song of which they knew only the tune and the first three words.”

3) It keeps us on our toes, alert and agile in our often bureaucratic environments

Work hard but step back and be careful of the tyranny of bureaucracy. Use your judgment before your launch into a project with all your might. Reevaluate goals. There is a time to be Boxer, the strong horse whose indefectible support to the cause is laudable. And there is a time to be the whistleblower – like Benjamin the Donkey, who incidentally warns the animals that Boxer is not being taken to the hospital but by the knacker.

The story of the building of the windmill is a very good warning for businesses, and especially for us marketers. The animals are promised “heaters and hot and cold waters” as a benefit of building a windmill. They never openly question the project. After many sacrifices, they build and rebuild the windmill. And even when it’s ready, they learn they have to build another one to generate electricity as the first one is put to another use. If that doesn’t make you raise an eyebrow and think about a lousy project that you’ve had to work on (CRM integration? Corporate website with a CMS? Marketing automation platform?), then what will?

The windmill had been successfully completed at last, and the farm possessed a threshing machine and a hay elevator of its own (…). The windmill, however, had not after all been used for generating electrical power. It was used for milling corn, and brought in a handsome money profit. The animals were hard at work building yet another windmill; when that one was finished, so it was said, the dynamos would be installed. But the luxuries of which Snowball had once taught the animals to dream, the stalls with electric light and hot and cold water, and the three-day week, were no longer talked about.

We, human beings, seem to be very strong in creating work for works sake or to just justify a headcount. A regular evaluation of routine tasks, projects, relationships, newsletter… and their legitimacy should be part of every manager’s job description.

There were so many pigs and so many dogs. It was not that these creatures did not work, after their fashion. There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called ‘files,’ ‘reports,’ ‘minutes,’ and ‘memoranda.’ These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.


4) Ain’t we lucky to live in a free world?

Finally, in a week of thanksgiving for our American readers, let this book be a reminder to all of us lucky enough to live in a true democracy of our good fortunes. We are free to do business in a mostly fair “playground”, to speak our mind and advertise our services.


Animal Farm is a short but rich book, notably for the Marketer.

What do you think? Please join our Tuesday Marketing Book Club linkedin group to discuss.

PS- You can buy a copy on Amazon here: Animal Farm

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