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The Nonchalant, Unencumbered Stroll Is the New Corner Office

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While at a café reading about what type of gadgets CMOs of major corporations utilize ("I strictly travel with an iPad 2," "I've got four phones," etc.), I see this carefree guy in a suit, with sunglasses and no tie.

The relevant details of his life (as I completely fabricated them) are as follows. At the office he's got a desktop, at home he's got a laptop, and he traded in his external hard drive long before we knew what the hell he was talking about when he spoke of "the cloud." Perhaps he's got an iPad 2 on his nightstand, but even those are too cumbersome for his lifestyle.

See, whatever happens between home and the office can be done quickly with his phone, or done by someone else. Right now it's leisurely-stroll-to-work-whenever-I-feel-like-it time, and he's beholden to no device. He's literally got nothing in his hands. "He must be in guerrilla marketing." I say to myself.

Sitting here, sipping an artfully pulled redeye, and given my penchant for constant cultural R&D, the virtual office, and so forth, I could have titled this post titled "The Corner Café Is the New Corner Office." But being that I'm already bored with that title, having just wrote it, I doubt anyone would have read it (except maybe @craignewmark), too predictable. But what's not predictable is for me to be espousing a level of abandonment of technology? [Cue: SNL's Kenan Thompson] What up with that? What up with THAT?

Walking around a city unencumbered is THE BEST way for guerrilla marketers to stay fresh and focused on new ideas. A client says, "We want you to hand out flyers in the city to drive folks into our on-premise events at local bars." But you walk around the flyer gauntlet that is Manhattan and realize that driving folks away from the events would be the more likely outcome.

It's there on the street that you come up with one of the most eye-catching and engaging ways to lasso folks off the street and corral them into a bar. Giddy up. Then it becomes one of your most popular guerrilla tactics in your arsenal in all markets -- especially San Francisco with its year-round availability.

A few years back, I remember my European friends and colleagues thought it quite bizarre that Americans moved quickly down the sidewalk whilst sipping hot coffee in paper cups. Several of them noted to me how silly this seemed. They're right of course -- coffee is for cafés, just as cafés are for leisure not business, but... here we are.

Now this societal convention with the coffee may never change in the U.S., and may have even been globalized into pockets of European cities as well -- sigh -- but they still manage to keep it old school throughout much of the continent. What if the old school folks of even a decade ago could have peered into the future? Seeing all of us goofballs walking around cities with our eyes glued to a little device in our hands, seemingly talking to ourselves but not to each other. It's a strange place.

It's even weirder a place for guerrilla marketers today -- and they're some of the most well informed people around as to the exponentially changing technology at their disposal. I daresay that's what makes it awesome though, isn't it? That sort of challenge is what true guerrilla folks thrive on.

Put it this way. When there's a mainstream TV spot that speaks to the ubiquity of flash mobs, that's pretty much all you need to know. All of the sudden "eye-catching" is no longer an apt term for more and more media. It's often not possible to simply redirect a passerby's glance. We need to go in with some sort of surgical methodology whereby there's a multimedia approach -- no strikeforce.

For example, an aerial banner was once a novel and reliable way to market to the beach-going public about your groovy disco party (or whatever was happening whenever those started). In the post-looking-up era however, if you want to get some impressions out of an aerial banner, the plane almost has to be piloted by a famous choreographer who uses sonar to create a dolphin flash mob, while the Most Interesting Man in the World parachutes in to join everyone on the beach where it begins raining beer from the beerclouds seeded by the choreographer's plane. Hey, somebody write that down!

My point is this: For all I know, that technologically al fresco guerrilla marketing guy that I saw (i.e. totally made up), could very well have some finance guy that was laid off and all his technology confiscated. But I still like the cut of his jib.

Folks all over the world are glued to their devices, and I vow not to be another nameless top-of-the-head in the crowd, face plunged forward into my phone's abyss. The risk is too great that as a marketer, I'll miss some cool interaction or important idea. Let's face it, this is San Francisco, if you don't have a cool interaction just about every time you step outside, you're doing it wrong.

So while all this lovey-dovey "embrace the city and the interactions" talk makes me slightly less sure that no one slipped anything psychoactive into my coffee, I'm gonna go with it. Yup, ridin' it out. Not being glued to any devices and never EVER being seen walking while sipping a hot beverage of any type!