Bateman Group’s Client Spotlight 4.4.14

Like the newly discovered water vapor bursting out of Encephalus, one of Saturn’s many moons, so too did the deeply held beliefs of Mozilla’s CEO, Brendan Eich emerge to the surface. Truth can only stay hidden so long before it erupts through unseen fissures at any moment. While those two stories dominated headlines, Bateman clients also revealed their (stellar)  intrinsic qualities across the media landscape. Some examples include Venture Beat‘s coverage of Clari‘s emergence as a premiere tool for sales productivity, Braintree’s perspective on in-store tracking featured in Fortune and Digimind‘s guidance on brand management in The Next Web. Read more after the jump.

Why in-store tracking might not be as bad as it sounds,” Fortune – Retailers are beginning to track consumers via their smartphones, raising fears of privacy intrusions. Braintree’s CEO Bill Ready discusses the potential benefits to consumers of having retailers track them (personalized data, etc.) for richer shopping experiences.

Windows XP: Old Platforms Die Hard, Security Risks Live On,” The Wall Street Journal - Danny Yadron included Qualys’ BrowserCheck data in his coverage of the end of Windows XP support. With the end of XP,Yadron used Qualys’ statistic that “more than 10% of computers used in government and corporations world-wide will still use the 12-year-old operating system.”

In pursuit of truth: A brand’s guide to managing misinformation online,” The Next Web - Digimind CEO, Patrice Francois, offers advice for brands on telling fact from fiction in the online world and address when and how to act. As more and more information floods the internet, it’s increasingly important for brands to be able to pick their online battles.

Tidemark wants to save European companies from Excel hell, says CEO,” IDG News Service - As a result of an interview with Tidemark CEO Christian Gheorghe, journalist Mikael Ricknas wrote a winning piece on Tidemark’s European expansion and Consolidation App release. Tidemark plans to release superior enterprise options to wean businesses off of Excel and email for financial planning and analytics.

Paid App Market Is Shrinking With Stunning Speed,” Forbes - App Annie and IDC released their Mobile App Advertising and Monetization Trends report. Tero Kuittinen wrote a feature on the findings of the report, focusing on the app market’s rapid transition to freemium and the reasons propelling the evolving payment structures in the app marketplace.

Clari wants to be a psychic for sales rep,” VentureBeat – Clari launched its mobile-first sales productivity platform out of stealth at DEMO. Thanks to Bateman’s efforts, Eric Blattberg of VentureBeat wrote a piece focusing on Clari’s history leading to the launch. The article summarizes the platform beautifully and positions Clari CEO Andy Byrne as a thought leader in the space.

Can You Architect Virality? Absolutely. Here’s How,” Huffington Post - In this byline for the TEDWeekends series, Bunchball founder and chief product officer, Rajat Paharia, offers his expert insight on designing viral experiences. Contrary to popular belief, viral content could be created using the right strategies.

 

Mozillagate: On the importance of speaking authentically

I can only imagine that Mozilla employees are in the middle of a lot of soul-searching right now after an intense two weeks, which culminated in the resignation of a founding Mozillian and newly-appointed CEO, Brendan Eich.

Dubbed #Mozillagate, the controversy began last Monday when Eich jubilantly announced in a blog post that he had been promoted to the role of CEO. Almost immediately, we saw an outburst from protesters over a donation he made to Proposition 8 – a repealed law that defined marriage as a union between man and woman.  He had made the donation back in 2008 but no one really knew about it until the LA Times broke the story in 2012. The reactions to his being named Mozilla CEO were vitriolic, swift, and angry. Board members resigned, employees petitioned for Eich to step down, OKCupid asked its members to boycott Firefox, long-time VP of communications Leslie Nakajima resigned.

As with the Chick-fil-a controversy, we saw the battle lines drawn between those who felt Eich had a right to do what he wanted in his private life, and still be an effective CEO, and those who felt a bigot should not be a business leader.

Mozilla reacted to the outrage by keeping its mouth shut, unwisely thinking this would blow over again as it had in 2012. When the company finally spoke in a blog post, five days later, it was to “clarify Mozilla’s official support of equality and inclusion for LGBT people.” Eich followed up with a rather stiff post reiterating Mozilla’s anti-discrimination policy, in which he said  he would remain “committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status or religion.

“You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products,” Eich said.

(Kinda tough to believe that. What’s the saying — Put your money where your mouth is?)

He gave his first interviews on Tuesday, lobbing any questions about his actual stance on gay rights and stressing Mozilla’s “inclusiveness” philosophy again (which a Kara Swisher follower perfectly described as “pretzel PR”).

Can you really separate church and state?

I normally agree that a business leader is entitled to be an ass, but Mozilla’s case is, in the words of Mozilla Foundation Executive Director Mark Surman, “messy” because ultimately it is a crowd-sourced company. His employees aren’t just his employees, they are every Mozilla volunteer engineer and evangelist promoting its cause. Mozilla is the most popular open-source company in the world and founded upon a mission to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Web. Heck, 40 percent of Firefox was developed by volunteers.

On Thursday, Mozilla Foundation Chairwoman Mitchell Baker posted one of the most heartfelt corporate blog posts I’ve ever read in which she apologized for not acting “like you’d expect Mozilla to act.”

“We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” she wrote. “We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.”

Beautiful.

No matter what your view, a CEO has to do the right thing

As a long time fan of Mozilla and it’s mission, I was hurt and disappointed when I learned about Eich’s donation. But people make PR mistakes all the time, so I waited for Mozilla to respond with humility and regret.

I wished so badly that Eich had just come clean about why he donated money to Prop 8. Was it for religious reasons? Personal baggage? Did he lose a bet? Whatever the case, it was definitely not a time for more twisted, distracted “pretzel PR” that tip toes around the subject. You may be able to fool a Chik-fil-a diehard, but you can’t fool a Mozillian.

 

Bateman Group 10 Year Anniversary Party Pictures

This is the way we “Rock” and “Roll”

It’s an exciting week for us at Bateman Group. We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary. More on that later. And while we have most of our Brooklyn team in da house, we are keeping them busy both day and night. We had a two-fer on Wednesday night — rock climbing and roller disco party. Read on for details and pics.

Resident rock climber Liam Hausmann organized an outing to Mission Cliffs (just a 10 minute walk from the office) for some afterwork sweating. There were no serious injuries, we’re happy to report, and it’s sure to be the first of many such outings. The team laughed, they fell, they pushed themselves to new heights, and became contortionists in the process. Surely a night to be remembered (sore muscles and all).

 

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NY account coordinator Leah Conklin reaching new heights.

 

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Seasoned pro, outing organizer and SF account coordinator Liam Hausmann literally gets horizontal, upside down.

 

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SF senior associate Katie Garagozzo showing bystanders how it’s done.

 

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SF account manager Grace Nasri, SF account manager Kerry Tescher and SF associate (and yours truly) Katrina Dene helping eachother to the top.

 

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SF account manager Kerry Tescher and SF account coordinator Ivy Choi learning what awkward feels like.

 

Meanwhile, downtown a group of Bateman-ites were representing the firm on the dance floor — the roller disco dance floor at a party sponsored by Bateman Group client AdRoll. The Mezzanine nightclub’s main floor was transformed into a sizable roller rink, complete with disco balls and video projections of vintage roller disco footage. The crew, sporting sweat bands and sunglasses given out as swag at the door, were the first skaters on the rink and the only people in costume when they arrived. Standing out and setting a trend is never a problem for us Bateman-ites, so they were more than happy to get their groove on to Donna Summer nonetheless.

Soon the rink was full of people wearing fake afros and sequins roller skating backwards and in conga lines. It was a barrel of fun until the synchronized dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” got people led to a wipe out mid-dance. The Bateman Group gang busted their best roller disco moves, but failed to master the “Thread the Needle” trick they were attempting at the behest of Tyler Perry, partner and general manager. The night was — as Briana Marshall, senior associate at Bateman Group, put it — “both harrowing and fun.” Here are the pics to prove it.

 

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SF account manager Sara Fastenberg, NY associate Billy Kelly and SF senior associate Briana Marshall rocking short shorts

 

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SF senior associate Briana Marshall, SF account manager Sara Fastenberg and SF vice president Paula Cavagnero getting into character

Smart money on “stupid” games: Why Flappy Bird may point to the future of the gaming industry

“People think it’s dumb, or even the stupidest thing ever, but if you look at games as machines you interact with, Flappy Bird is perfect.”

You might be surprised to hear the words ‘Flappy Bird’ and ‘perfection’ in the same sentence coming from a seasoned video game reviewer. But CNET video game expert Nick Statt believes that the addictive game is far more clever than people give it credit for. Over beer and garlic fries in a cool dusk evening beneath the lilac-tinged sky at Southern Pacific Brewery, Statt dissected the meaning behind the newly-resurrected game’s success and the gaming industry’s development since the advent of massively mobile gaming.

For those who have yet to hear about Flappy Bird (in a wise effort to continue living your lives peacefully), Flappy Bird was a free-to-play game in which users guided a bird between pipes in a side-scrolling level by tapping the screen to control the bird’s trajectory. Its humble origins trace to a 26-year old programmer named Dong Ngyuen who programmed the game while living with his parents in a small village outside Hanoi, Vietnam. Flappy Bird’s meteoric rise was only paralleled with the vitriolic hate that users felt towards the game, akin to users going after their dealers for a fix denied. The antipathy reached a point where at the height of its success, pulling in fifty thousand dollars a day, Dong pulled it from the market and left this simple tweet:

But, like the Phoenix that dies and resurrects after numerous failed attempts at navigating between pipes of various sizes ad nauseum, Dong has announced that Flappy Bird will soar precariously back into mobile users’ hearts.

We’re at a point in gaming where one man can make an app that produces fifty thousand dollars a day while major multinational corporations spend years of research and development looking for the same success, albeit with greater stakes and overhead costs. So important are games coming from Microsoft and Sony, shares of publicly traded gaming companies drop if early game reviews skew negative.

Last week, gaming industry experts and professionals converged in San Francisco for Game Developers Conference, to determine the direction of an industry that has evolved and grown in ways that few could have imagined since the first coin-op games were introduced in the late ‘70s. But Flappy Bird’s origin and success stands in sharp relief to the state of the high-pressure world of the gaming industry today. And its runaway success raises the simple question: Are games like Flappy Bird the future of the industry

Tap here to start

The first games designed for what is generally regarded as the first mainstream console, the Atari 2600, seem simple now, but were revolutionary programs at the time. The amalgamations of asteroids and extraterrestrials represented a new form of player-controlled manipulation of an object in a world with a defined set of rules. Since those humble origins, games aspired to, and have largely been judged on, the ability to absorb complexity both visually and through game play innovation.

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In-game graphics for both Metal Gear for NES (1990) and its latest sequel released this month. More complex gameplay and graphics have been the obsession of designers everywhere, but does the coveted mainstream audience care about the same things?

The vast leaps in gameplay design are harder to convey. What was once a basic list of commands a player had at their disposal to defeat, say a giant ape that kidnapped your girlfriend while throwing barrels at a plumber, is now a vast web of contextualized triggers that the player sets for the AI to act upon in certain scenarios.

But ultimately, what developers seek to deliver is what Statt calls “Flow.”

“It’s that moment where game and player unite into one unique form of satisfaction. There’s no reason why a game like Flappy Bird is any worse necessarily than a major big budget title like Bioshock if it ends up delivering that Zen-like experience to players.”

What about the fact that Flappy Bird pissed off nearly everyone one of its players?

“That’s the hook! The first seconds you play it and inevitably die, you’re saying ‘I should be better at this!’ and keep playing. That’s brilliant design.”

“That said, if this were an arcade game in the ‘80s, it probably would have been seen as exploitative.”

Continue?

Around the time of the Nintendo Wii’s launch in 2006, Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, was asked to choose which rival presented the greatest threat to Nintendo: Sony, makers of PlayStation, or Microsoft, of xbox. Iwata said something prescient, and perhaps not fully appreciated, at the time.

“Apple.”

With everyone possessing what is essentially a powerful computer with impressive graphical capabilities  in their pockets, Iwata realized that Apple (and now Android) snuck past the video game industry’s vaunted barriers of entry like a pixelated Trojan horse.

Marquis titles like Titanfall and Metal Gear Solid exemplify the seemingly unlimited budgets companies are willing to risk in order to ensure that their game dominates all others in an already crowded marketplace. In their obsession to beat one another in a digital arms race, major game publishers might be ignoring the lucrative potential that games like Flappy Bird hold. Some companies specializing in mobile gaming, like Zynga and now King Digital, have attempted to strike out as public companies on their own after the runaway success of a few of their games. However, both companies yet to have captured the imaginations of investors as both companies’ share price languish. What is for certain is that we’re seeing two dominant forms of game development moving in tandem: Huge budget games that literally affect the fortunes of publicly traded companies and the bare-bone-by-design games developed by one guy powered by cigarettes and a laptop with a decent internet connection.

One profit model makes rational sense while the other continues to make iconic, innovative titles that push the boundaries of narrative.* Perhaps we’ll see a hybrid: game companies using their expertise to create lever-pull games to finance blockbuster hits. Why not? It’s cheap to design and the likelihood of failure brings little overhead. Flappy Bird, and to a lesser extent, Draw Something and Candy Crush may provide the equation for popular gaming low cost design with minimal budget for marketing and public relations. Maybe at GDC this year,  major studios like Microsoft and Sony will be inspired to diversify their portfolios akin to the modern movie system – produce major tentpole movies while producing ‘indie’ titles at low cost.

“Maybe,” he said as he dipped another garlic sage fry into the housemade ketchup, “That would be interesting.”

“Actually, let me show you this new game I’m trying. It’s a game where you take three numbers and then slide it around- never mind, it sounds dumb when I explain.  Let me just show you.”

As he took out his phone to reveal the latest gaming craze, daytime birds’ final songs could be heard fading into the night sky.

 

*If you don’t believe me, check out Naughty Dog’s Last of Us for the most terrifying and heart wrenching vision of post-apocalyptic America since Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”

 

 

 

Bateman Group Seeking Talent + Vibe Manager

We’re looking for an outstanding individual to help us recruit and retain employees, and support the positive environment and unique culture in our fast growing company. The full time Talent and Vibe Manager will work in the Bateman Group’s San Francisco office, supporting a staff of 30+, located in San Francisco and New York.

As Talent and Vibe Manager, you will be instrumental in sourcing new recruits through traditional and non-traditional channels, assisting them once they are hired, and helping to foster Bateman Group’s fun and collaborative work environment. We have an exceptionally high employee retention rate (turnover is less than five percent), and we want to keep it that way. Your job will be to help us do that through conceptualizing and producing innovative events and branded experiences for staff, while attracting rock star candidates as openings arise. We are looking for an organized, self-starter who thinks outside the box, and would really appreciate having “Vibe” in a job title.

Responsibilities:

1) Recruiting

You will tap your personal and social networks, as well as use online tools (like LinkedIn and SmartRecruiters) to recruit top PR talent for Bateman Group’s San Francisco and New York offices, and manage all stages of the recruitment process, including interview scheduling, gathering feedback, candidate follow-up, etc.

2) New Employee Onboarding

You will assist the Operations Manager with onboarding logistics, such as ordering new desk set-ups, office supplies, computers and phones to ensure all new employees feel welcome and well-cared for.

3) Managing Vibe Squad Programs and Budgets

You will play a key role in nurturing our culture by producing:

  • Monthly Birthday Celebrations and Happy Hours
  • Brown Bag Professional Development Lunches
  • Quarterly Agency Outings
  • Healthy Office options (including stocking the kitchen with a variety of healthy snacks, and researching/coordinating healthy office activities, such as lunch-time yoga, chair massages, etc.)
  • Agency parties
  • Fill in the Blank, really!

4) Marketing

You will use your organizational skills to produce industry Bateman Group branded events, including thought leader panels featuring national journalists, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Responsibilities include:

  • Producing and distributing branded invitations, maintaining the contacts database, securing venues, coordinating catering, producing event collateral, and managing event set up and break down.
  • Supporting the marketing team

Requirements:

  • Proven track record of recruiting within a fast growing marketing organization
  • Human resource experience preferred (recent PR/marketing agency client-service experience strongly considered if you don’t have traditional HR experience)
  • Event planning experience
  • Ability to prioritize and manage workload to meet deadlines with minimal oversight
  • Super-human problem-solving abilities
  • Excellent communication skills
  • A love for small and fast growth company environments
  • Propensity toward extroversion
  • A wicked sense of humor not required, but would be appreciated
  • Undergraduate degree

Contact hr@bateman-group.com if you are interested.