250-Word Stories Digestible in 15 Seconds? Believe It

Bored by reading the newspaper because it just takes too long? Don’t have enough time to finish the latest Malcolm Gladwell novel, let alone stuff a sandwich down? Dying to boast to your friends that you read as deftly as a college professor? There’s an app for that. Rather, there is soon to be, courtesy of a co-opted launch between Samsung wearables and Boston developer Spritz.

After three years flying below the radar, Spritz is ready to unveil their techie solution to address two barriers to widespread, mobile readership—the time it takes to read (largely due to excessive eye tracking of words on a surface) and the space lots of words take up (on 640 x 1136 px or smaller mobile screens). Their innovation is a compressed visual frame that streams one word at a time in 13 characters of space.


It’s easy to judge this app by its small, simple cover—until you try it yourself. Taking saccades out of the equation by applying a new method of word alignment (science!) really does mean something big. A beta test on their website offers an enticing glimpse into the promise that readers will be able to clock up to 1000 wpm—in the ballpark of what seasoned speed readers record. Even if you’re resolutely in the middle of the Spritzing pack, you’ll still be able to read at roughly the clip of a high-level executive.

But far more than just another novelty app promising to make us fitter, happier, and more productive (readers), Spritz could be revolutionary for brands and content creators—tomorrow’s delivery mechanism for eloquent, immersive, mobile storytelling within the span of a quarter minute.­

We decide within 15 seconds whether to read, listen, or view on—whether a new journey is evocative enough to compel us to subvert our primal and indolent desires. So find the right narrative for your story and filter it through Spritz. The space of 250 game changing, ice-breaking words is your new brand conversation.


Jimmy Fallon’s genius – make sure every piece of content has something “highlight worthy”

I’ve been watching Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight show since it started airing (which is great, by the way) and three weeks in, there’s an interesting trend emerging. He rarely has a guest on without doing something “highlight reel worthy” with them. Last night, for instance, Billy Joel’s on. On other shows (Leno, Letterman, etc.), they’d do an interview, then after the break he’d perform. Jimmy Fallon does both of these things too, but then he took out his iPad, fired up an app, and he and Billy Joel record a 4 part harmony doo-wop version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the spot. It was awesome – and I’m sure I’ll google it when I get to the office and share it with the rest of the Captains. (type in jimmy fallon billy joel and see what happens.) So why is that so special? Because Jimmy Fallon nearly always does something with the guest that is worth saving, and more important, sharing. Why just do another interview when you can dig deeper, get creative, and make something highlight worthy?

I would ask the same question every time you make a piece of content. What is going into this that is “highlight worthy”, that will be saved, shared, remembered? Too often, content marketers that wouldn’t be caught dead making a sign for the local dry cleaner’s window are creating content that is just about as creatively inspired and memorable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a video with high production values or a white paper for industry insiders, dig deeper. Make sure it’s highlight worthy for your audience, whoever it is. If you don’t, it’s just noise. And will be about as memorable as just another couch interview with some actor on some late night show that no one will remember next week.

The Big Brand Error That Adweek Didn’t Cover

In recent weeks, the biggest brand error didn’t come from JCPenney, in a #tweetingwithmittens redux, or from Jimmy Kimmel, with another dog-in-wolf’s-clothing publicity stunt. It came from energy giant Chevron—the brand that will go into the books as having proffered pizzas as apologies to residents of Bobtown, Pennsylvania for a fatal fracking explosion and 5-day fire that tore through their rural southwestern Pennsylvania community.

After a February 11th well explosion shook Chevron’s Lanco 7H site in Bobtown, it took a week for emergency crews to control the fire that seared across the gas pad, combusting a nearby propane truck in the process. On the 16th, 100 of the residents closest to the well site received consolation letters from Chevron with a coupon for—wait for it—one free pizza and a 2-liter of soda from the local Bobtown Pizza (limited time offer, expires May 1, 2014).

Today, two weeks later, a broken well continues to leech gas and Bobtown mourns the loss of a local site worker and worries about the safety of the air they breathe.

Even before Deepwater Horizon, big energy companies had been on rebrand pushes with nods to their investments in “human energy” (Chevron’s tagline), “people power”, “safety” and “responsibility”. And yet, as BP knows too well—a brand is truly defined in its moments of crisis; when it is called to answer for its mistakes. When its response is 100 $12 gift certificates to a grieving, endangered community, that’s a lot more than a brand error. A resident of Bobtown said it best: it’s a “slap in the face”. Delivered with a sting to those who have a lot to lose—and have already lost—to the corporate machine.