June 25, 2008

creating "blue monsters"


[BACKSTORY: A year and a half ago, I created the Blue Monster cartoon, which with the help of Microsoft's Steve Clayton, took on a life of its own inside the Microsoft Corp. It was fun, interesting, Steve and I were well pleased etc.]

A few weeks ago, I talked about "Blue Monster 2.0". I alluded to a new direction I was taking; I thought I'd elaborate further:

Creating Blue Monsters, I believe, is a fine way for a marketing guy to spend his time. Especially as I'm fond of saying that Blue Monsters are "The Future of Marketing".

[NB. In its simplest form, a Blue Monster is my pet name for a "Social Object" designed to bring about cultural change within an organization. It certainly worked well enough at Microsoft etc.]

Can another Blue Monster be created? Can lighting strike twice? Can lighting strike outside of Microsoft? I believe it can. Only, there has to be some ground rules. The client in question has to be ready for it, has to want it see it happen.

Ideas within companies are like people within companies. It doesn't matter how good thy are, there has to be a cultural fit or else it's a complete waste of time; you're just fighting a losing battle.

I have an evil plan. Weighing options...

Posted by hugh macleod at June 25, 2008 1:19 PM | TrackBack

I can't wait to hear it, and I am willing to assist in any way necessary.

Posted by: @Stephen at June 25, 2008 9:18 PM

Good luck with your evil plan. I look forward to hearing of your wild success, as long as "ruling the world" doesn't figure into it anywhere.

Posted by: Cathy Elaine at June 26, 2008 7:41 AM

With the best will in the world, and recognising that Blue Monster *is* genius.

*Did* it actually manage to change Microsoft's internal culture?

"It certainly worked well enough at Microsoft"

Posted by: phil jones at June 26, 2008 10:56 AM


Sometimes I feel as though companies try to develop "Blue Monsters" that aren't the right ones. But they create them simply to have something to hang their hat on. To pretend they're the best at something.

And then they communicate it to normal people. People who don't give a (insert f-bomb here). You see it all the time with cars. "The most leg room/trunk space/safety rating in an American-made two-seated minivan". They get so specific with their claim that you can only get it if you work for the company.

I think the challenge is helping companies to be brave enough to rally around a new "Blue Monster".

Posted by: Christian at June 26, 2008 1:40 PM

the imac/ipod/iphone are all social objects right?

maybe microsoft should just buy apple?

Posted by: peter at June 26, 2008 2:35 PM

Just met SteveCla yesterday and the purple cow, blue monster and social object ideas have been great aha! moments for me

My own company Talent Club was partly built around the iBook as a social object, I just never thought about it

This has great value for me as a consultant in the social field, thanks for the insights !

Posted by: Luis at June 27, 2008 5:40 AM


I find your insights about marketing very insightful. Is there a way you can create a list of your favorite books on marketing somewhere on your blog? Every once in a while you'll mention a book, but I don't see a category for books anywhere. Am I missing it? It would be a help to those of us considering a career in marketing.

Posted by: Madrugada Jones at June 27, 2008 7:06 AM

Microsoft became huge because they mastered distribution, not because they were marketing geniuses. Apple was always better at manufacturing desire and social objects but it didn't get them nearly as far until very recently.

OK, none of this is news but I'm curious to see how Microsoft is really changing. No disrespect to your brilliant efforts but from the outside Microsoft still seems like a big rich lumbering giant that's lost its way. So can marketing change a company whose forte was never really marketing?

Apple is just now learning the power of distribution with itunes and the Apple stores - both hugely successful hybrids of marketing and distribution. In the opposite direction, how can Microsoft meld their distribution might with marketing genius?

Your amazing Stormhoek campaign really illustrates how marketing and distribution have to work together - they should be doing better than Gallo but obviously distribution has been the weak link.

Posted by: Steve at July 4, 2008 2:59 AM