Kudos to Fast Company for having the courage to buck conventional publishing norms to explore a vital issue facing businesses in the digital age: the integration of branding and marketing communications within traditional settings, such as a magazine's editorial pages ("I'm With the Brand"). This story has given increased attention to the need for consumer awareness of how branding and communication impact their lives, and for a far better explanation by marketers of the positive value of that outreach. Thus, Morgan Spurlock's efforts to create the most absurd case of product placement in a movie is actually quite noble. When marketing and public relations help consumers understand how products and services can enrich their lives, it adds real value to society and should not be vilified. All communicators need to understand and respect where brands are willing to draw the line between making a profit and upholding their ethics and integrity. Otherwise, we risk continued erosion of consumer trust.
Rosanna M. Fiske
An excellent article in an exceptional magazine. I think Morgan Spurlock's logo-embroidered jacket would sell like hotcakes if mass produced — can I get a cut of the advertising revenue for this idea?
Pittsford, New York
Flipping through the pages of the April issue, I stumbled upon Morgan Spurlock, naked, twice. It scared me the way clowns scare little kids. Please do not ever show naked pictures of Morgan Spurlock again. To be clear, I am not opposed to stories with someone baring it all, just Morgan Spurlock.
I'm a fan of Morgan Spurlock and the topic of advertising is of interest to me, but I couldn't quite follow and stick with the narrative of this article, which makes me feel lukewarm about seeing the film or checking out the trailer. There's a marketing lesson in there somewhere.
Wallace J. Nichols
The Power of Page
Thanks for writing such a great article ("Google: The Quest"). In recent times, we seem to notice only Google's failures, not the company's successes. Will Larry Page become the greatest inventor of all time? Steve Jobs, in his own way, has redefined innovation; perhaps Page will leave us with a definition of his own.
Social networking is a big challenge that needs to be taken care of, but not in the ways of Facebook and Twitter. Some company — most likely Google — has to introduce a social network that really makes sense. It will take the company time to get it right, but Google has the ability to create tools to improve human efficiency, collaboration, and organization, giving us better methods to meet new people instead of simply being stuck with old Facebook connections.
These are very simplistic assumptions about Page, who is a really bright guy. The only thing we can assume is that Google is a meritocracy, and the best idea will win.
Good to Be Green
I applaud Bloomberg's efforts in corporate sustainability ("Making the Bottom Line Green"). It's worth noting, though, that in many senses, the train has left the station on sustainability reporting. Corporate scorecards, voluntary reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Global Reporting Initiative, and various countries' compliance legislation are compelling a growing number of businesses to do something about the numbers they report in terms of reducing risk and operational costs.
So glad to see businesses at all levels embracing the opportunities associated with environmental, social, and governance policies (ESG). From entrepreneurs to Wall Street, the business community is finally coming around in a big way. Hoorah!
Carbon is one of the best business tools to determine efficiency across the board, from processing to services. Why spend more when enviro-economics shows that businesses could spend less, and better? With increasing carbon legislation and taxation, ESG may have its day, but we first have to recognize that sustainability can play hardball economics.
I was pleased to find and read "A Sea of Dollars." I have long been interested in water as a greatly overlooked concern for both of the reasons presented in this article: ecology and economy. In the years I spent managing a large retirement community, I was shocked to learn of the enormous amount of water lost to evaporation in the cooling tower of air-conditioning systems. What a waste and what a huge cost. On a more profound level, there are a host of sound theological reasons to be more conscious and supportive of water conservation. It is encouraging to see notions of economy consider waste and the freewheeling habits of taking humanity's common treasure for granted.
Samuel M. Stone
Raleigh, North Carolina
The brilliance of the Watson team's attainment in developing what is arguably the world's most advanced inference engine ("Robo Force") was unfortunately tarnished by the fact that in its Jeopardy appearance, buzzer control — Watson's unbeatable reaction time when both he and human competitors knew the correct response — was the basis of an ultimately unbalanced comparison of human and machine problem-solving ability. As a Mensa member, a past Jeopardy contestant, and a former product manager for IBM supercomputers, I'm more curious about how Watson might score on something like an SAT or a GRE, compared to the best human performance.
I think this new baby-carrot campaign is onto something ("The New Junk Food"). If we've got vending machines that refrigerate, why not use them to sell fresh veggies and fruit? And why not make baby carrots look just as cool as Doritos? It can't hurt. Yes, it's a sad commentary on the state of our immense, crinkly, shiny, vacuum-packed, all-American diet, but if kids start choosing carrots over Cheetos, it's worth a lot.
Making baby carrots an enticing side for fast-food restaurants will add another vertical to the company's growth. Kudos to Jeff Dunn for giving healthy food a new look.
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Imagining, conceptualizing, realizing — bravo! I hope these children enjoyed themselves (Big Bang Design). They have much to be proud of.
This is inspirational. I look forward to more people getting on the brain train that transforms our spaces to address the needs of the many, rather than the bottom line.
Casey E. Palmer
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A version of this article appeared in the June 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.