Alex Bogusky sits on the front porch of the FearLess Cottage to talk with Kevin Kelly of The BuzzBubble. In this first part, Alex covers his latest Fast Company interview as well as family, philosophy, and where the leading edge of advertising is going in the near future. Watch the rest of the interview below.
Is "consumer" a dirty word? We are all consumers. And if that means buying any shiny object placed in our path, then it might be a dirty word. But as the late great George Carlin used to say, "There are no dirty words. Only dirty thoughts."
I use the term "consumer" often in my work. And I have to admit that the word can makes me uncomfortable. After all, aren't we citizens, people or human beings first? Defined by the sum of our actions. And don't those extend far beyond what we consume? Yes.
The muse of innovation. We never really know when or where it will strike, but often the bathroom is exactly when there are the “ah ha’s!”
Finally, there might be a sustainability win sitting right next to the toilet. The idea of paper being used in the water closet has been around for almost 1500 years, but there has been very little movement since it went from the sheet to roll.
Kimberly Clark this week announced they will be testing Scott Naturals Tube-Free toilet paper at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores throughout the Northeast. Arguably toilet paper’s largest environmental impact is probably the paper, but with the 17 billion toilet tubes produced per year, according to Kimberly Clark, that accounts for 160 million pounds of trash stretching over a million miles. (by the way, that’s good corrugate going into the trash―most people just toss out the cores, and they are recyclable).
Michael Pollan said "For the food movement," this may be "the most important election this year." Slow Food chef Kurt Michael Friese named it, The Most Important Race You Never Heard Of. And Change.org wrote, "There are a lot of important face-offs going on throughout the country, but none may be more important to farmers and food activists than the race in Iowa for Secretary of Agriculture."
We're talking Francis Thicke versus incumbent Bill Northey. It's the archetypal challenge between cutting edge farming methods that can create a healthy and sustainable agricultural system (that's Thicke, pronounced tick-ee), versus industrial methods that push top soil into our streams, animals into confinements, toxins into our environment, and farmers off the land (that's Northey, pronounced Monsanto).
I'm nervous. And when I'm nervous I find it's hard to write anything. Sort of a dilemma this morning since I need to write something to introduce our new endeavor. The nerves are not only getting in the way, they're also ironic since the website that goes live today has FearLess written across the top. (FearLessRevolution.com) The fingers stutter and halt on the keyboard in the same way the voice would as they search for something safe to write. So maybe they can begin by explaining their consternation. Something new always feels risky somehow. I don't really think it is, but I can't deny that it has that feeling. You wonder what others will say and if you are a fool. And the truth is that others will say all sorts of stuff and, of course you are a fool. It's easy to get afraid. Hence the name FearLess. Or really Fear Less. Two words to encourage ourselves, and hopefully even others, to fear just a little less. To be able to push the fear out of the way just enough to move forward. How that gets done is a work in progress each time. For me, over the last several months, my fortitude has come from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers who listened to me and pushed me forward. Along the way, I've met the most amazing people. People I never really considered an ad guy would get to hang with. My God, they have all been patient with me. It seems like each week, I'd have some different idea about what I wanted to do or some company I wanted to start. As if that wasn't confusing enough, it seems like hundreds of people came to me with what they wanted me to do or projects they wanted help on -- and as a creative person I saw opportunity in pretty much all of them. Six months of pin-balling around has actually been really fun, but really exhausting, too.
1962 would have been a busy year for any president: Vietnam, John Glenn, and The Cuban Missile Crisis had already grabbed the headlines. So, in March, as John F. Kennedy got up to speak to Congress you might be surprised as to what was on his mind. Kennedy felt compelled to spend 40 minutes outlining a very specific plan for something this country had never considered: A Consumer Bill of Rights.
The consumer of the early sixties lived in a very different world from the consumer of today. Television advertising, and even the concept of national brands, was something the nation was all still growing accustomed to. Most Americans didn't shop at supermarkets or at super stores. In fact, the first Kmart opened only 14 days prior to his speech. The average purchase was still very local but the problems of the march of technology had begun. Many Americans still bought meat from a butcher and bread from a baker. If you got bad meat you knew whom to blame and they in turn knew that to make a customer sick could be a disaster for their business. The idea of a long-distance provider to consumer relationship was relatively new and thus the unique challenges in policing this new relationship were new, too. The idea that a manufacturer might know about potential dangerous problems yet still make the decision to continue to market and sell that product was probably hard for consumers of the day to grasp. It was outrageous.
Alex Bogusky and Rob Schuham welcome Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong to discuss how to improve bike infrastructure and safety. Tim has been lobbying on behalf of cyclists for years and it seems that the bike is gaining momentum in both local and national politics.
Defend your right to ride. Give Tim and other bike advocates the fuel they need by signing the pledge at www.peopleforbikes.org.
So I’m reading the Wall Street Journal headlines today, and two juxtaposing stories popped up that made me both laugh and cry at the same time. Headline #1 reads: “Gulf Drilling Ban is Lifted.” Headline #2 reads: “Google To Fund (Offshore) Power Project”. For me, this further illuminated the stark, albeit oceanic-based, comparisons of government power vs. corporate power.
ATTENTION SHOPPERS. An appeals court just upheld your right to easily choose drug-free milk from drug-free cows. This is a victory.
We're talking genetically modified bovine growth hormone, also known as rbGH, rbST, and crack for cows. It's been condemned by the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, and numerous others due to its potential for increasing cancer risk.
Alex Bogusky and his dad Bill welcome industrial ecologist and GoodGuide founder Dara O'Rourke to the cottage. Radical transparency is the way of tomorrow. Have you started to take advantage of your new-found ability to make more informed choices? And on the other side of the transaction, is your company ready to engage in the dialogue, or are you just waiting for transparency to happen to you?
Check out www.GoodGuide.com and download the free iPhone app to unlock information you may not know about the brands you choose and tap into your power as a consumer. The purchases you make have the potential to change the world.
Alex is on the advisory board for GoodGuide because of the potential for technologies like this to usher in a new era where tax dollars and consumption dollars are both directed by citizen/consumers to create the change they want to see.