THE BLOG

Trees, Shadows, World Cup, and Teams

06/16/2014 09:44 pm ET | Updated Aug 16, 2014

World Cup -- and here is my question: How are you watching the game, and with whom?

Here is my bet: You are in the vicinity of a large screen and you are surrounded by friends, some of whom you met only a few minutes ago. Unless you scored tickets -- airfare, hotel and game...

I happen to be writing this from France and like a good part of the world, the people here are consumed by the game -- and by "people" I mean the international crew who are here in Cannes.

The World Cup is a social tournament -- and by "social," I mean DNA: baked-in, human, face-to-face/shoulder-to-shoulder, sweaty, you-spilled-your-drink-on-me interactivity. Life, if you will -- the ultimate social experience, the real thing. No fun standing in a corner with your ears plugged, watching in isolation on your smartphone.

Which leads me to Teen Hoot, the latest "digital phenomenon" -- except it's live.

Teen Hoot is bringing the digital celebs who have achieved social media stardom through their YouTube, Vine video and other posts to public venues to meet their adoring audiences who follow them online.

Now, we all know that not every celeb -- sports figure, entertainer, intellectual, government leader -- has the same level of public fluency. We have all seen the lack of spontaneous talent that so many seem to have when faced with unscripted plots.

Guess what? The social stars who achieve celeb status for dribbling water from too-full mouths or picking their nose with gusto while giving us close-up views of their fingers and nose hairs are no different -- maybe even worse -- as their natural tendency toward entitlement for having achieved such status hasn't prepared them for much.

In fact, David Malloy, who founded Teen Hoot (a brilliant idea for real), is worried because "These creators, some of them famous for making six-second Vine videos, have to do more than get up there and smile and giggle."

Indeed.

Digital is everything -- but not everything is digital.

In the end, we all crave real, live experiences: digital exponential, made better by digital technology.

So Warby Parker and Bonobos, for example, can open up stores -- brick and mortar, the kind you walk into -- because their customers love to see and feel and try on in an environment where others are doing the same and where their friends can come with them. Human nature.

But they deliver on their Digital Exponential promise as well. Digital Exponential works because it all adds up and works together.

The vacuous stars on the Teen Hoot stage have used the sharing formula well -- they are often no more than the human equivalent of the Buzzfeed Cats, and we all know what gets shared.

I mentioned that I am in Cannes, at the Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity -- a member of the jury awarding recognition for Creative Effectiveness to the best of the best.

As we sit and ponder -- and read about likes and shares and first-time-in-the-history-of-human-experience social marketing campaigns -- I can only think about the bar I was in watching Italy defeat England with all the drama and noise and camaraderie inherent in the combination of people and beer and venue... versus the sad spectacle of Teen Hoot stars who are way smaller than their grotesque close-ups online.

A lesson to all who get lost in the digibabble: What hasn't changed -- what will never change -- is the test of the real. You either have it or you don't, and in our world so many just don't -- people, products, services....

Listen:

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." Abraham Lincoln

We are getting confused between trees and the shadows they cast, between screens and what they are actually used for, between what's real and what's not.

Start looking for the trees -- without them there are no shadows...

What do you think?