My Favorite Readings In September: Advertising Contests, Spoiler-Proof TV Shows & Career-Boosting PhD’s

paris abandonned railway

Click to see “21 Photos Of Nature Winning The Battle Against Civilization.” Here: Paris  (

Here are my favorite couple of articles and links of the month of September. The first one is not an article but a whole website, curated by a woman whose mother-in-law participated in advertising contests in the 40’s and 50’s, where she shares all the memorabilia of this creative contest activity. A great website to look at, especially if you are interested, like me, in creative contests.

The other links are related to the link between culture and innovation, culture and creativity, crowdsourcing for advertising and academia – fairly classical topics if you are among the followers of this blog. I hope you enjoy this selection of reads.

Lili Swenson, whose mother-in-law was a keen advertising contest participant in the first half of this century, commented this eYeka blog post a couple of weeks ago. Her mother-in-law was very active in writing both poetry and entering contests in the 1950’s, and was part of the National Contesters Association which, information is very scare, probably doesn’t exist today. She has created a website about 1950’s contests just because her relative did leave behind so many materials in some old boxes. “Now that I am retired, I am going through these things.  I did not know what to do with them but since they seem to be part of our history, I thought I would share them through the web,” Lili told me. A great initiative.

What makes Switzerland so compatitive? For the sixth consecutive edition, Switzerland tops the rankings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, an annual study which, since 1979, has helped to pinpoint the reasons behind the differing fortunes of the countries studied – 144 economies in the 2014-2015 edition. According to the report, Switzerland owes its success to a combination of factors! Its stable, transparent and effective institutions; sound and healthy public finances; an attractive tax regime; excellent infrastructure and connectivity; a world-class education system; relatively peaceful relations among social actors within a flexible labour market; the highest level of business sophistication; and, most importantly, an exceptional capacity for innovation.

Self-promotion alert! This tweet links to my blog post about my (our) first publication in a peer-reviewed management journal, Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ), a prestigious quarterly journal that publishes the theoretical and empirical papers on organizational studies. Our paper “How Culture Impacts Creativity: Cultural Tightness, Cultural Distance, and Global Creative Work“ looks at the effect of culture (the extent to which countries have strong cultural norms and enforce them strictly) on peoples’ likelihood to participate in, and succeed at, global creative tasks. It advances a new theoretical model, the “Cultural Alignment Model of Global Creativity,” to understand how culture impacts creativity in a global context. So proud of it 🙂

Quirky, I have blogged about the company numerous times (see here, here, or here). This Fast CoDesign article is a very nice look behind the scenes, tackling the implementation difficulties and community management challenges that the company faces. The article, called “What Happens When Crowdsourcing Stops Being Polite And Starts Getting Real” explains that, while “great things have come from Quirky and its community of inventors, […] their biggest project, Aros, strained everyone.” Thank you John for having shared that!

AdAge reports that Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s leading advertisers, has posted on September 11th (it’s not online anymore, read it here too) that they were seeking “a new way to produce moving images for TV commercials and digital video that meets the demand of more flexible content” and “produces more content at a cost that is significantly lower than today’s average” TV commercial in the U.S. while still meeting its brands’ production-quality standards. Crowdsourcing is one way, and they probably look for different solutions. Probably, I don’t know. A significant move which probably pissed a number of agencies…

A propos! François Pétavy, CEO of crowdsourcing company eYeka (where I work part-time), published an article about how agencies can use crowdsourcing to reinvigorate their business and deliver campaigns inspired by the public, for the public. “Agencies […] have often considered it as a threat to the very core of their business. It has been portrayed by some as “the end” of agencies,” Pétavy says, “but I’d argue this is far from true.” Read more by clicking on the link.

How haw movie & series watching evolved? With the internet and shifting film consumption behaviors, one significant change is the advent of spoilers, those people who tell you what will happen in the story while you were looking forward to seeing it unfold on screen. Netflix, a company which has opened up to Europe and France, has hired a famous researcher (“cultural anthropologist”) to investigate the phenomenon, and find ways to be less impacted by it. His conclusion: Increasingly, good television is spoiler-proof (“You can know about the key scenes and still want to watch the show,” he said).

Last, but not least, a magazine article that I read on the plane this week – I did spent a significant part of the past week waiting for and sitting in planes. I read this article in the German magazine Handelsblatt Karriere recently, and it addresses the interesting question of working on a PhD early in a corporate career. I felt it was interesting enough to be shared with an English-speaking audience, beyond the relatively small number of people who speak German in this world, so I translated in from German to English, which I tried to make as easy to read as possible, just removing a very few passages. An insightful read!

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