Piotr Jakubowski – Mind over Marketing

Phelps – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
November 26, 2008, 5:15 pm
Filed under: advantage, advertising, at&t, guitar hero, michael phelps, phelps, Uncategorized

In conjunction with my previous post about overstretching the Michael Phelps brand, I decided this week it’d be a great opportunity to feature these spots that he’s in.

The Good


Everytime I watch this spot, it definitely makes me chuckle. How in the world could Bill Curtis, this old guy in a suit, ever be faster than Michael Phelps. He challenges him to a race, and beats him. The entire concept is a great parody on the fact that Michael Phelps is not invincible, and that there are things faster than him. Memorable spot – now the question is does the product follow through on the promise?


So here’s an ad for a product that Phelps probably actually uses. And if anyone watched any of his races in August, you’d notice that he does. Although the FastSkin itself isn’t accessible to the average day-to-day swimmer, the endorsement is legitimate. Like LeBron pimping his basketball shoes and Ronaldinho his football boots, Michael Phelps should be promoting Speedo. 

The Bad

Guitar Hero 

I really don’t know what Guitar Hero has to do with any of the people in the spots, except that the money paid to the 4 athletes in the commercial probably eclipsed the rest of the production costs. Phelps is already large and awkward as it is, and his 1-2 second closeup doesn’t do him any justice either. Seems to me like just another “throw some money at a celebrity” act. The product, with its gameplay and record sales is fantastic already. There have to be other ways to show it. 


The Ugly

Rosetta Stone

Ever since I first saw this spot I was quite disappointed with it. I don’t know how much I believe that learning Chinese was the first thing Phelps thought about when going to Beijing for 3 weeks. I can’t imagine anyone taking this type of approach to learning languages. It gives off the vibe that you can learn a language in a month, or even five months – without being in that country. Now maybe there are some geniuses out there who are capable of doing that, but for the general population – I think the spot is misleading. It tries to capitalize on the Phelps is Phast mania, and in my opinion – fails. I’m sure Rosetta Stone is a great product, but don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone can legitimately admit to speaking a language “after just a few minutes”.


What do you think?


The 4P’s Applied
October 26, 2008, 10:55 pm
Filed under: advantage, advice, attitude, Business, learning

A while back I wrote about the 4P’s, an idea passed down to me by one of my mentors – John Bowman at Saatchi & Saatchi. 

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful, albeit stressful, opportunity to test this theory. Unfortunately, I had run into a few visa problems when trying to re-enter the country on my student training extension. Within a week I was:

  • Denied entry to the US on both my visas – extensive time at the border
  • Stranded in Canada with just the clothes on my back, my car, my laptop and my camera
  • Informed on the day I was supposed to start work in the US that I would have to wait 6-10 weeks for an appointment in Canada
  • Flying back to Indonesia the next morning, arriving the following evening
  • Appointment and interview at the US embassy the next morning
  • Fly back a week later – complete with “random” screenings on ever leg
  • Flying through Chicago to get to Toronto – and getting stopped at the border again
  • Taking just a 6 hour break between 45 hrs of flight travel and an 8 hr drive
The entire process was mentally and physically straining, but it was important to remember that there was always an answer to all of the questions, and the end was always there. The goal was to make sure I wasn’t away long enough to lose my job. I returned – beaten and battered – to start work two weeks after I was supposed to.
Persistence is key, and I know that I learned through this personal experience that the 4P’s are true. 

Passion Plus Perseverance Prevails

  • Fuel your passion
  • Steel your resolve to persevere
  • Picture yoursellf prevailing over obstacles
  • Achieving goals

Self Promotion
September 30, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: advantage, Business

I’ve mentioned before the importance of promoting yourself as a brand. You are your best brand, and what better way to promote yourself than through creative business cards. Billions of business cards are handed out each year, and it’s a perfect opportunity to stand out.


Call it your elevator speech, but without the words. A way to throw a curveball when the other person least expects it.


Check these out for some great ideas: Innovative Self Branding.

“That” Question
September 28, 2008, 10:53 pm
Filed under: advantage, advice, interviews

One question that will always be a part of the interview process is the one we all fear, and many of us don’t know how to answer. What is your weakness? I’m getting shivers from it already. I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s interviewed for a job position has had this question shot at them; I know I have.

According to an article from the Yahoo! Hot Jobs Career Advice center, one of the best ways to answer this question is to be honest. The question’s designed not necessarily for candidates to reveal their shortcomings, but to identify potential for personal growth.

One thing that is definitely not recommended is sidestepping the truth. The last thing anybody wants is an employer finding out your shortcomings on the job. Not only is that an express ticket out the door, you lose a source for a future recommendation/reference, as well as gain the challenge of having to explain your early termination to your future employers. 

Amanda Mertz, one of the recruiters contributing to the article mentioned a very important point; “Let the job description guide you.” If the job calls for extreme attention to detail, something that is not your forte, it may be a good idea to consider whether its a good fit. Or make the necessary changes in your own habits to make sure it’s a good fit. If the job is right, however, a weakness of a detail oriented person could be “perfectionism.” Mertz emphasizes that “a weakness on one hand is a strength on the other.”


Getting ready for the interview is just as important as the interview itself. With the right preparation, you can be ready for any of the questions that the company would shoot at you, even “that” one. 


Check out that article here!

Trusting Your Gut
November 27, 2007, 2:55 am
Filed under: advantage, advice, attitude, instinct, trusting your gut

In the past few weeks I have discussed with many different people the concept of instinct. I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet.

Personally, I believe that some people have or develop an innate ability to read/decipher a situation without having a logical reason as to how this process happens. This is called the gut or the instinct. Sometimes, your gut feeling pulls you one way, whereas logic and reason pulls you the other way. On some occasions, your gut may be right. On others, it may not. Some people have trained their instinct a little more, some people are just born with it.

Do you think that somebody who is very good at what they do calculates the pros and cons of the situation every single time? After a while, the processes become innate to the point where the person simply knows which decision is good or bad.

I came across an interesting article today on Newsweek.com.  In his piece “Less (Information) Is More”, Wray Herbert discusses a new take on the strength and credibility of trusting your gut.

Check it out! “Less (Information) Is More”

Plugging Into The Community
September 26, 2007, 12:23 am
Filed under: adam steen, advantage, advice, aptitute, attitude

We recently had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Adam Steen from Transition Capital Management. He discussed a variety of different subjects, but what interested me the most were his points and advice for communicating in college.

1. Get Networked
– Each person is a resource
– Get the courage to add value
– Creating a blog as a resource –> blog can network for you

2. Create Success For Others
– What goes around comes around
– Helping others is a great way to help yourself too

3. Don’t Hesitate to go to Lunch or Coffee
– There is a 0% chance if you don’t try
– Professionals, more likely than not, want to help students in college (have you seen “Catch Me If You Can”?)

4. Read everything you can, but don’t believe everything
– Reading a variety of opinions is a great way to create a well-rounded opinion about different topics

5. When you get in a jam, THINK
– Don’t let constraints bother you!

Materialism & Credit Cards pt. 2

This weekend I had the pleasure of inviting a friend of mine to speak to our business fraternity. Tom Coates is the founder and president of Consumer Credit of Des Moines, a company that assists families and individuals in dealing with their credit problems.

Some of the statistics that Tom mentioned were frightening. In 1987, credit consolidation was a $100 billion business, with the average debt at $2,000 and average number of cards at 3 to 4. Today, it has become an $850 billion business, with the average debt at $5,000 to $6,000 and the average number of cards at a staggering 8 to 10!

Other interesting facts included
– 60% of adults revolve a balance of $9,000
– The personal savings rate is negative
– More than 50% of people are living paycheck to paycheck, literally

All of these facts and statistics don’t reflect on the underprivileged in this country. Even people who seem rich are affected by it. These facts reflect on those who are financially irresponsible.

As ludicrous as it may sound, these credit offerings are essentially setting a payment trap from which it is quite difficult to escape once caught. The accessibility of plastic, the availability of these deals and the irresponsibility of the people involved are the biggest reasons for getting caught in these payment traps. If you can’t afford it, then why try to buy it?

Lessons learned during this presentation:

Develop an affordable lifestyle. Most people are already in debt straight out of college (college payments). Don’t make it worse.

Balance your budget. Make sure you keep track of all withdrawals and deposits in your bank accounts.

Invest in hard assets. Paper money (the fiat economy as Tom called it), is susceptible to very fast devaluation, especially at the rate that the Fed has been printing dollar bills. By keeping an investment of hard assets (gold, silver) one can make sure their investment maintains its value as long as possible.

Save. Now. According to a calculation that Tom presented, if you start saving $2,000 a year at the age of 25 at 8% interest, at the age of 65 there will be over $600,000 in the account. If you start at 35, there will be just over $250,000 when you turn 65. Starting early is better.

Finances are no laughing matter. Think about your current financial situation, and about ways you could alter your financial habits to make your life better.