Deep Blue, Chess, AI, Advertising + You

AI Ad1

AI Ad2


Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov was a pair of six-game chess matches between the world chess champion Garry Kasparov and an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue. The first match was played in Philadelphia in 1996 and won by Kasparov. The second was played in New York City in 1997 and won by Deep Blue. The 1997 match was the first defeat of a reigning world chess champion by a computer under tournament conditions.


Since then artificial intelligence has made exponential + pervasive advances in every imaginable field, including Google’s algorithms that use billions of data points to serve up region, time + situation relevant ads to us 24/7 the minute we go on line with any personal device. Here's but one example;

  • Facebook’s AI Engineering team are applying their considerable knowledge + talents to their new shopping platform. They’re using AI to help develop algorithms that understand objects + relationships the way we humans do. They're leveraging state-of-the-art visual + image recognition models to improve the way people buy, sell and discover.

Note the use of the word “improve” in the Facebook example and think about how those “improvements” can + will be used to modify and improve your behaviour.   


Fast-forward 5 - 10 years and do a mash-up of digital artistry, holographic projection, advanced in-bound + out-bound contact management, a few unscrupulous organizations and you get . . . complete fucking CHAOS!

 Companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft have the knowledge, data, ability and the motivation to develop + deploy Artificial Intelligence driven Advertising Androids that are smarter than you are and that draw on, in real time, data that enables them to sell you anything, anytime, anywhere from the comfort of your own intimate mind-set.

 In the past, people complained that blatant advertising cluttered and got in the way of a good TV show, a newspaper or magazine read. But in the past ads looked like ads and there were laws against “subliminal advertising”, advertising to children, as well as cross-border advertising laws. 

 Advertising Androids will change all that because you’ll be approached in a kind + convincing manner that includes your demographic + psychographic preferences with personalized responses filtered through the world’s most engaging sales techniques - based on global empirical data. The same kind, but a very advanced version of the A.I. that Mr. Garry Kasparov lost to 23 years ago.

Check Mate + Caveat Emptor!   



Holistic (business) thinking

When I graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, now Ryerson University, in my early 20’s I thought I knew it all. My teachers had taught me how to spot a problem and solve it and I thought I was ready to solve the world’s worst dilemmas - especially those caused by poor advertising design + copy. I soon learned that spotting a problem was one thing, getting to the whole root of it another. So much for my simple text-book cause + effect solutions.

In my 40’s my Veterinarian introduced me to the concept of Holistic Health for Charlie, my constant companion + creative muse. It changed how I look at life – and business.

Last night I took my client to dinner at a restaurant I really like + that he likes as well. Here's why:

  • The menu is unique, carefully + thoughtfully prepared.
  • The food is predictably good.
  • The service is unique + predictably good.
  • Lighting is soft but good enough to read the menu with.
  • The layout enables you to have a good conversation with your guests while the conversations of others are muted.
  • Prices are reasonable.
  • There's ample street parking.

Can you see where I’m going with this? I give this restaurant my repeat business + refer others to it for a variety of reasons that together conspire to make this a predictably great evening - not just a great meal. Brand loyalty is a complex thing - and so is the brand's story. That changes the way I take a creative brief, look at the competitive landscape and how I evaluate the communication options that I come up with. Holistic thinking invites me to take into account as many direct + oblique variables as possible when I look at what's working, what's not and where we can go from here.

It's a better way to build a team and a brand because it applies to traditional, contemporary and disruptive brand work.


It ensures you see the tree, the trees, the forest as well as all the surrounding terrain.




Affordable Creative Solutions


I’ve been in the communications business for about 40 years now and the story is always the same: everyone wants to  work on the new big budget (TV) ad series, but no-one has the time to come up with a bunch of “cheap + cheerful” ideas because they add nothing to the creative's resume.*

Oddly enough, I don’t know a single ad agency that doesn’t use entry level pro-bono work to get their feet in bigger doors. 

What I love about this solution – is the “humanity”.

Most of us have entered a hospital through the Emergency department and invariably we feel that we’ve been there far too long, that the care is too slow + impersonal. We forget that the universal health care we enjoy in Canada comes with time and budget contraints that affect every aspect of our experience there. But despite the tight budgets and the multitude of challenges that our health care system faces, someone at this hospital identified a bite-sized problem with a bite-sized solution that helps this hospital show that it does care - even if you don’t think so. 

It’s a simple, affordable, long lasting solution that says “we care” in a language that everyone in the world can understand.

Nice work!  

*Actually . . . . it does. When I see this kind of stuff in a portfolio I see that you’re a media agnostic thinker + that you’re not a prima donna. 






Matvey Natanzon, world backgammon champion, died February 14th, age 51. Matvey was born in Russia, spent his early childhood in Israel, and moved to Buffalo with his family when he was around 14. He loved chess and initially hoped to make a living playing chess until he moved to New York and noticed that hustling backgammon, playing tourists who were wandered through New York's parks, was easier. So backgammon became his consuming passion. Like chess, it was a game of strategy, but it's also a game of luck thanks to a pair of dice and a doubling-cube. 

I got into backgammon in a big way in the summer of 1977. I was twenty-two and had just graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto. I was working as a construction laborer during the day, played backgammon at night and on weekends, and when I didn’t have anything better to do, I looked for work in my field of study; management and marketing. One Sunday afternoon I went to visit my friend Jennifer, a lifeguard, at a local pool. While I was waiting for her to finish her shift, I got into a game of backgammon with one of her friends, Rick Pudwell, who was a Sales Representative for Marquee Magazine at the time. Before I left Rick gave me his card and asked me to call him on Monday. He promised to put me in touch with a few people who could help me get a job in advertising. On Monday he gave me three names.

  • Bill agreed to see me although he didn’t have job for me. The hour Bill gave me was invaluable because he helped me understand what to say and what to ask in my next two interviews. 
  • Mary didn’t have a job either but was so impressed with my performance in the interview (thanks to Bill’s brilliant coaching) that she promised to create a position for me if I didn’t find work elsewhere soon.
  • Peter didn’t even look at me in the interview. But a few days later he offered me my 1st white-collar job as a Media Estimator at Foster Advertising, Toronto.

The rest is history. I’ve been in the advertising agency business, on the agency and supplier side, in Canada and the U.S., in Media, Account Service, Creative Services, Management and Consultant capacities for forty-three years now. 

It’s been a very long + interesting journey. It began by chance over a frivolous game of chance with Rick - who I’d never met before. 

Rick decided to take a chance on me.

It was a long shot for him that is still paying dividend for me.      




Migration Marketing 2.0


In 1954 my parents left Germany and came to Canada. They passed up invitations from South Africa and Australia because, at the time, Canada’s invitation was more enticing.

In 1997 Professor David Foot was a very popular guest speaker at business conventions across Canada. 

His book, Boom, Bust & Echo, a Canadian bestseller, promised to help us profit from the coming demographic shift. I was 42 at the time and had one nine-year-old son. 

David helped me understand why my parent’s fresh start in Canada seemed to go so well, why my future looked so bright, and why things were about to become a bit more complicated for my son + his kids. 

Professor Foot was asking questions like these 23 years ago:

  • What are the best investments? 
  • Where are the new business opportunities? 
  • The job market? 
  • Education? 
  • Health care?
  • What are the prospects for real estate? 
  • What will become of our cities? 

In 2020, from an advertising perspective, this book, and how it invites you to look at demographics is pure gold because it enables you develop a superior perspective on the business opportunities before you, how to find them, and how to evaluate them.

In my mind, one of the biggest untapped opportunities for social media agencies lies buried in the last question: the future of our cities because birth rates the world over are plummeting. While the covid-19 epidemic may assist birth rates a bit (in some countries), depopulation, and immigration barriers in the U.S. are already forcing small states like Vermont to pay workers to move there. In seven Vermont counties, more people died than were born. The remaining population can no longer support the local restaurants or hardware store. Imagine.

Social media is incredibly well placed to promote regional migration because, unlike traditional media, social media needs a large cast of characters and a never-ending flow of back-stories to keep the messages + the media fresh, relevant and engaging. 

This can become a whole new business category for your agency.  

Read this post, the book, think about it and then act on it.