July 19, 2006

ooze: short for "objects of sociability"


Shel Israel and Stormhoek's Jason Korman met up recently for beers. Shel wrote about it:

Jason wants Stormhoek to be the wine for the rest of us, for everyday people enjoying good times with people they care about. He wants Stormhoek to be your beverage of choice at your next special event and as such he’s making Stormhoek a successful case study for how you can use social media and word of mouth to globally popularize a mass merchandising product.
Thank you Shel, for the kind words.

These days I feel like drawing more cartoons, writing more about my adventures with Stormhoek, and doing less of everything else. The reasons aren't just about my NSPR's [Normal, Shameless, Pimping Reasons]. Actually, the business of marketing Stormhoek and the business of drawing cartoons are getting more and more similar to me. Here's why:

Last night Jason and I had dinner with Johnnie Moore, one of my favorite marketing bloggers [certainly the best one in Britain, anyway]. The highlight of the dinner for me was a discussion about what Johnnie called "Objects of Sociability", a term he attributed to Juri Engstrom's talk at Reboot7.

What is an Object of Sociability [OoS, or "Ooze" for short]? "Ooze" is simply something that allows you to engage with another person. It could be anything. It could a party. It could be a bottle of wine. It could be a hyperlink. It could be a social gesture. It could be social currency. It could be doodling a cartoon on the back of a business card at a bar and giving it to the cute barmaid. You tell me.

As it turns out, Stormhoek has been using a lot of Ooze lately. Sponsoring the recent Valleyschwag party was an example. We didn't really have a "message" per se... it just sounded like a fun and interesting event, so why not join in?

Funny, but this ties in to a conversation I had with Juri about two years ago at a London geek dinner. We were talking about the switch in marketing away from "The Message", towards something that one has no control over i.e. The Ooze.

The metaphor I used at the time was "wave vs particle". At the subatomic level, things are interchangably waves or particles, depending on what instruments you are using to observe them [somebody far more scientific than me, please correct me if I'm wrong]. It might look like a wave one day, a particle the next.

A traditional marketing "message" acts like a wave. In the future, I believe marketing messages will behave more like particles [that is, if they want to succeed]. A wave stays connected to its source, a particle does not. Once the particle leaves you, it is no longer yours. You no longer control it, anymore than a dandelion spore controls the wind.

Where old companies are gettting mixed up with new marketing is, they're trying to treat particles like waves, and failing.

A cartoon is Ooze. Stormhoek paying for gapingvoid's bandwidth is an Ooze. A blog post is an Ooze. As a marketing blogger, this to me is the part of post-Cluetrain marketing that is the most interesting.

Particles are not waves. Particles are Ooze.

And I believe Ooze is the future of marketing.

Posted by hugh macleod at July 19, 2006 4:10 PM | TrackBack

...and there was I thinking corporate golf days are a waste of time,space and energy.

Great post Hugh. Brilliant.

Posted by: Robert at July 19, 2006 8:21 PM

I wonder how many people read this is pat themselves on the back because they hand out tons of chachkis at big "social events"

Posted by: Jeff Schmidt at July 19, 2006 8:29 PM

Love your cartoons, and I'm keeping an eye out for the wine here in nyc...but- sorry to have to ask this, but how do you pronounce the name???

Posted by: Yoshi at July 19, 2006 8:32 PM

Now if you had said "Cooze is the future of marketing" you would've had me.

Posted by: MarkN at July 19, 2006 9:23 PM

In my opinion ooze is too slimy - you need a better name that cannot be derided. Anmd no I don't have one - yet.

Posted by: John Dodds at July 19, 2006 9:27 PM

Oh yeah? Well I think that Booze is the future of marketing.

Posted by: Slava at July 19, 2006 11:31 PM

I think that Ooze works fine but social currency is not handing out anything it is simply, but difficult, granting another the right to accept or reject your offer of communication without getting involved in did she say yes or no. Just hey your there and I there or we are both here.
Loved Loic's blog

Posted by: Roger Wilks at July 20, 2006 3:34 AM

The metaphor is bit confusing.

Wave: Governed by probability( Chance)

Particle: Deterministic ( There is predictability, control)

IMO, Ooze = Wave might be a better metaphor.

Posted by: Balaji Sowmyanarayanan at July 20, 2006 4:32 AM

"In my opinion ooze is too slimy " John Dodds

How about 'BRIBE' or 'BUNG' or "Cross my palm with Oooze errr.....I mean a non-corruptive gift/pressie/acknowledgement of services to secure market share by placing my product on prime shelf space on the supermarket gondola"?!

Ooze is the word. It is a good word. Very apt too.

Posted by: robert at July 20, 2006 8:09 AM

Neat concept, but I think you got the the terms the wrong way round:
Waves are Ooze, they go through and go further (and come back...).
Particles stick. But as they are two aspects of the same thing, it is not that important. The recognition of the dynamic of the process ist the most important factor. Thanks for the edification!

Posted by: Philip Stanley at July 20, 2006 9:02 AM

John, it's OK to not like the "Ooze" name. I just invented it because I couldn't be bothered calling it is full name every time.

we could add a letter, perhaps.... very web 2.0 etc.

"dooze" dynamic objects

"fooze" fluid objects

"mooze" meataphysical objects...

or. whatever. hey, we could call it 'fred". my uncle has a very nice dog called "fred".

the name doesn't matter. the idea matters.

Posted by: hugh macleod at July 20, 2006 3:11 PM

And ads?
Ads can still be ooze if they offer people something cultural currency and the advertiser lets them go.
Honda choir is ooze - enjoyed, downloaded, remixed, subverted and remade.
And in many ways the work we did for Ronseal in the early nineties - giving people the phrase "it does exactly what it says on the tin" is ooze.
Ads can still be part of the conversation if they add something to the conversation.


Posted by: Richard at July 20, 2006 7:39 PM

where's the cartoon on ooze?

Posted by: bp at July 20, 2006 8:28 PM

We're not really in disagreement - but names, like design, are important because of the instant impact they have. I'm just saying that because the idea is good, it's best to avoid a name that implies sliminess and thus old style marketing. I like the web 2.0 variants much better.

The only alternative I came up with was the rather contrived

Osmosis - operating socially makes our stuff interesting stuff

which was partly tongue in cheek but does capture the essence of the memetic marketing idea.

Posted by: John Dodds at July 21, 2006 1:28 PM

D'accord, John... Names are important, but it's not up to me which name sticks. In the same way, "blog" ended up being the name that stuck, even if some people preferred "weblog" or "online journal" or whatever.

"Marketing by Osmosis" is groovy... not sure if it means exactly the same thing, but hey, it's all good.

Posted by: hugh macleod at July 21, 2006 2:38 PM

I am huge into social foods and social objects. I have a teapot in my room just for that purpose. Tea is a social food that brings people together. Another one is freshly baked bread. Chinese hotpot is too, but that is more obscure.

There are social objects too. Crayons and a coloring book. Bicycles built for two.

And of course wine. So if you are trying to market Stormhoek as a social object, try to position yourself more against crayons and coloring books and less against other alcohols.

In fact, I would recommend this strategy highly :-)

Posted by: Alex Krupp at July 21, 2006 3:01 PM

I've never been groovy before! Cool.

os·mo·sis (ŏz-mō'sĭs, ŏs-)

1) Diffusion of fluid through a semipermeable membrane from a solution with a low solute concentration to a solution with a higher solute concentration until there is an equal concentration of fluid on both sides of the membrane.

2) A gradual, often unconscious process of assimilation or absorption

Sounds right up your street to me!

Posted by: John Dodds at July 21, 2006 4:24 PM

Osmosis seems like another good metaphor; I think the idea of permeability eludes some brands that want to be in charge, telling us what they are and not really letting us influenced them.

I'm with Hugh on the Ooze word. Yeah it may suggest sliminess... but think of how kids respond to slimy stuff... the word (for me) suggests playfulness which seems quite handy.

Posted by: Johnnie Moore at July 22, 2006 9:19 PM