Rocket Science IV

Note IV from an interview with David Altschul, CEO of Character.

Yesterday, we took up a larger issue: an imbalance of trade between culture and commerce. There is a still larger issue.

If marketers occupy a “middle space” and make themselves “net exporters” of commerce to culture, they are in a position to speak to the criticism that casts them, I think often falsely, as exploiters and appropriators of innovations taken place in culture.

By itself, this might be enough to encourage middle space marketing. But there is a more urgent reason to engage in it. Engaging in cultural production (not just cultural consumption) gives the corporation a way out of the “catch up” in which marketers follow trends, always a little too late to be participants in them. (I owe this last point to Rohan Oza, senior VP of Marketing Energy Brands and a fellow participant in the Sterling Rice, UBS conference that brought me to NYC).

In both cases, middle space marketing gives the corporation a way to respond to the challenge issued by Douglas Rushkoff a couple of years ago.

Dare you lead, instead of follow? Instead of identifying a trend and then mass-producing it before it has had a chance to mature into something of depth, why don’t you develop some trends of your own?

Note on the “rocket science” series:

David Altschul has asked me to point out that things I attributed to him should be shared with other members of the Character team. I will make more particular corrections when I am back in Montreal.

Note on life in NYC

Something about making my living in New York City, as I do from time to time, makes me feel like a grayhound. I arrive in the city in a small container and I am moved about the city in small containers until the race begins. A bell sounds and I start running as fast as I can. It looks as if we are chasing a rabbit but with all the other gray hounds make it hard to tell. Eventually, the rabbit goes away and I am returned to a small container until the race begins again the next day.


Rushkoff, Douglas. 2001. The Pursuit of Cool: Introduction to Anti-Hyper-Consumerism. Sportswear International. Volume 201, issue 150 (Summer), pp. 1-5.