Madonna, Nightlife, & Marketing: Michelle Klein Takes Smirnoff To New Heights

How does one get a dancer on stage behind Madonna? It takes a global perspective and some creativity, and that’s something Michelle Klein has in spades. Michelle is VP Global Marketing Comms & Digital for Smirnoff, which you may not know is the number one premium spirit in the world in terms of value and volume.

“Often when you’re in a global role, you tend to sit in global headquarters,” she said. “If you haven’t seen the world, then I think you have less of an appreciation for global culture.”

Being named one of AdAge’s Women to Watch, Michelle draws on her experience living on four continents to oversee some incredible marketing projects. Take for example Smirnoff’s “Nightlife Exchange Project.” People in 50 countries exchanged party ideas for one global party. Now in its second year, the campaign leverages social media as the common thread throughout the activity, engaging over 10 million people globally. This year, the project features Madonna, who, in partnership with Smirnoff, searched for the world’s best dancer to join her as part of her next tour. The search culminated in a global dance-off on November 12th.

She also helped launched “Midnight Circus,” a global tour that features performers, mixologists and interactive art exhibits.

Drawing on the mobile movement, Michelle and Smirnoff created the app “Mixhibit,” allowing users to pull photos from their social accounts creating a collage with custom music. “Mixhibit will unlock the power of our community and provide a platform for them to have fun, be creative, and experience the brand in social occasions, to take the physical experience into a digital one,” Michelle said.

Michelle will be on stage this February to share more of her marketing successes and what brands can learn from Smirnoff. The question is, will you be there to get it all?

On the Ground at Social Media Week: Social Media Around the World, Hosted by Freddie Laker, Head of Digital Strategy in Asia, SapientNitro

Throughout this week we’ll be posting on the ground accounts from individuals that attended New York Social Media Week events.  To participate, email a blog submission to

Check out the hashtag #smwlake for more comments on the event.

Day 3 of Social Media Week NYC kicked off with a presentation from social media experts across the pond.  The first few minutes at the Art & Culture Hub at Hearst Tower were spent reconnecting with old friends, sipping coffee and riding out the few minutes of technical difficulties.  It can be quite funny when you walk in a room and there are 4 people on the screen all trying to talk simultaneously from around the world, but no one can hear each other.  Although the fact that we have technology that can even connect us all, is truly amazing.  A huge thanks to Watchitoo for making it all possible.

Toby Daniels, Founder of Social Media Week, was there to kick-start the panel and truly brought into perspective how important social media is, not just here, but everywhere.  It is a global phenomenon that connects us all and is truly where emerging trends are born.  Our host for the morning, Freddie Laker (Head of Digital Strategy in Asia for SapientNitro) begins with a keynote on his key learnings, take-aways and predictions for the future, after moving to China and becoming apart of a rapidly growing social and digital nation.

You can instantly predict how truly funny and brilliant Freddie is, something I think makes for an excellent speaker.  After being in a global role for a short time and still living in the states, he realized that he should “put his money where his mouth is” and actually make the move to Asia.  Something he describes as being both truly humbling and inspiring.  Although he doesn’t speak the language very well, he knows how to order food and give directions to taxi drivers.  He quotes, “If this is Communism, I don’t know what Capitalism is anymore.”

Social media has changed the world as we know it and it’s hard to wrap your head around it sometimes because it gives us the opportunities to communicate, collaborate on new ideas and even enable revolutions.  China is a huge part of that movement with over 500 million internet users and countless popular platforms only available to those living in China.  Freddie goes on to explain what when we start these platforms over here in the states, we fear we are “westernizing” the rest of the world, when in fact, we are actually broadening our own horizons.  America is often criticized for being too closed off, instead, we are becoming more worldly be creating platforms that connect the world.  Social media is also creating a whole entire new set of youth, youth that are hyper-connected, worldly and cultured and that will be drastically different than the generations and generations before them.

From an outsiders perspective, we view China as being cut-off and closed in from social media because their government doesn’t allow Facebook and Youtube, but what we are missing is that instead, they have created multiple social, video, real-time and gaming platforms of their own, that are more popular and more innovative than platforms available to the rest of the world.  Just because they don’t have Facebook, doesn’t mean they aren’t wired in.

Freddie continues to get the crowd engaged and laughing with some examples of popular Internet culture in China.  He describes their “Triad of Internet Power” as: Ninjas, Animals and Little People. Going on to describe examples of hilarious memes and viral phenomena’s that have infiltrated China’s highly developed Internet world.

Hot trends in Asia that will have a significant impact on global social media:

– Social gaming: entire networks are already in place that are driven by social games.
– Location-based services: a trend that is taking more time to become popular in China, but growing as smartphone penetration grows.
– Collective buying: thousands of Groupon-type platforms are already in existence.
– Real-time everything: status updates, wall posts, feeds…growing more and more towards everything being set in real-time.

Future predictions for Asia and social media, according to Freddie Lake:

– Facebook is developing virtual currency as we speak, an idea that was first introduced in China.  Due to its widespread success, it transitioned into a payment portal, which Freddie thinks, will be what Facebook will eventually turn into, think PayPal meets Google checkout.
– Development, ideas and platforms to reach rural areas of the world.  In many parts of Asia, India, etc. people don’t have access to the same technology the rest of the world does.  Freddie ideates that some of the best new developments (think Facebook Zero and Facebook Lite) will be to reach out and connect with people who don’t necessarily have internet and maybe only a WAPP connection.
– The rise of cheap smartphones.  Phones that will be under 100 dollars, easy to use and accessible to more people around the world.
– The birth of hyper-relevance.  Basic storytelling ideas where we now live in a world where we know where you are and who you are.  The idea that companies and governments will be able to leverage this information as a database.  Does Facebook want to become this?  If China doesn’t have Facebook or Opengraph, who will be the Chinese Opengraph of information? By 2013 most of the internet sites will be in Chinese, what does this mean?
– The Internet of things.  Meaning everything we own could be scanned and searched for.  Example: missing car keys with and RFD barcode on them.  Freddie doesn’t think that American necessarily has the power to collaborate with every company and manufacturer to do this, but China does.  He is extremely humbled by the focus and dedication their government gives on new initiatives.

What’s next?  He has no idea.  He will even pay you money if you know. But all he does know is that Asia and South America are places to watch, some great innovations and developments are going to come from them.  He has a suspicion that new millionaires will be born in America trying to copy what they are doing.

The second part of the presentation consisted of a panel of 5 social media experts from across the world.  One that was actually present in the room and the rest via digital video.  Below are excerpts of the questions and answers given to the panelists, moderated by Freddie Laker.


  • Katarina Graffman,Owner & CEO of Inculture, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Justin Barkhuizen, Ex-Director of Social Media, MediaCom
  • Mark Leong, Digital Strategist, RAPP, Tokyo, Japan
  • Zarul Shekhar, SapientNitro + TV Producer/Anchor Delhi, India, Manager of Digital Media
  • Mehdi Lamloum, Digital Planner, OgilvyOne, Tunisia

1. Describe a day in the life of someone in your country using social media:

Zarul: Presented a wonderful video showing how people in India use social media in their daily lives.  They update Facebook, blog about life, send SMS to their friends and can even order things through SMS and email.  Social media has definitely changed the way people communicate in India and has made Internet and advertising popular.  Zarul even shows an example of him taking a picture of a car crash, uploading to the police Facebook and getting a quicker response than any other method.  Amazing!

Mark: Shows how in 2005 he was using SMS, email and phone a lot >> fast forward to the present and you can find him barely using SMS and phone, mostly using Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Foursquare, etc.  He says that in Japan it’s not necessarily about how many platforms we use, but about which ones we choose to connect with friends on.

Justin: Showed a video about people in South Africa using social media to find parties, connect with friends and promote events in their towns.  They are so excited about using social media.  Justin comments that in South Africa, there is free wi-fi everywhere. There are so many things they can do that they couldn’t do before.  People use social channel for betterment instead of tracking Kim Kardashian.

2. Describe shifts in the ways people live their lives and certain user behaviors that are specific to your country.

Zarul:  A huge user trend in India is online matrimony.  Arranged marriages are still very prevalent in India and thus there are many resources available to help you get married, such as livestream channels, programming, case studies, counselors and relationship managers that help you get married.  Another trend, blind dating online.

Mark: People in Japan hide their true identities online behind fake names, pictures and avatars. This is slowly starting to change and for the first time, people are using either their real names, or combinations of their real names/pictures so that friends can easily find them on Facebook.  Mark describes having trouble finding friends because he was unable to remember their Foursquare nicknames.  Mark also describes how these trends are mostly on American social sites, on Chinese specific platforms, fake identities and avatars are still being used.

Katarina: People in Sweden used to be very scared of the internet, but now people are getting used to posting things on the internet.  A lot of people have online diaries and are sharing the stories of their lives for everyone to see.  Also, their blogging/diaries are great marketing tools because people are absorbing the information and sharing it.

Mehdi: There are a limited number of internet users in Tunisia.  Social media is THE media in Tunisia.  The media they have available to them, tv, newspapers, etc. is so awful that social media has become the best option.

Justin: Only 5 million people use the internet in South Africa but mobile data is huge.  WAPP experience is the best way to reach people which is why the government is focused on building platforms for youth empowerment and to raise awareness about HIV and other social issues. Education needs to take place.

3.  What are Apps, Platforms and Tools unique to your countries.

Zarul: India is fad driven.  We don’t join Facebook because we think it’s cool, we join because is popular and everyone else is doing it.  There are many localized social networks, such as, that cater especially to gaming with Indian street names, facts, etc.  Making the experience just that better because it is culturally built. Big brands are able to advertise, run competitions and offer the people of India free gifts and giveaways.  Another great tool is the ability to send SMS through and to update status through voice for people that don’t have internet access.

Mark: The top platforms in Japan are Mixi and GREE, both of which have 20 million users, where as Facebook only has 2 million.  What will happen in the next few years with these platforms will be exciting to watch.

Katarina:  It is interesting how people in Sweden use social networks to talk and discuss very private topics like sex.  Especially when everyone used to be so scared of the Internet.  People are not afraid of being really open.

Medhi:  The only social networks available in Tunisia are Facebook and Twitter, the rest are all socialist sites.  1 in every 2 Internet users in Tunisia is on Facebook.  They use it as Youtube, Flickr and as a dating site because there is nothing else available.  Facebook blogging in popular and so is an site that aggregates tweets called

4.  Thoughts on the future of social media.

Justin: The top 10 Facebook pages in South Africa don’t contain any brands.  There is a magazine, a tv personality, but no brands.  Brands need to figure out what to do and get their message out there.  Cultural perspective: there is so much to do, so much to mobilize.  I think we will continue to see stuff getting out there and people buying into it.

Zarul: There is a lot of illiteracy, language and education lessons are the biggest need.  One example of how that is changing is through Nokia phones, they offer a service to learn English, this is a great resource.  Fisherman are also using apps to help them determine the weather and if it is safe to go out that day.  Social media is really influencing and helping the ordinary man in every day life, someone who is illiterate.

I absolutely enjoyed this panel and glimpse into the wide stretch of social media around the world.  We are all constantly evolving and connecting and as the speakers all described, moving towards a completely wired in and connected world.  A huge thanks to Social Media Week NYC and Sapient Nitro for giving us this excellent presentation.

Amanda Mullahey is a contributor for the Social Media Week NY Blog and a digital strategist, social media enthusiast and freelance blogger.  You can check out her website here.

5 Questions With… Ian Schafer, CEO Deep Focus

This post is part of a weekly series called “5 Questions With…” featuring Q&As with Social Media Week Global Advisory Board members.

Ian Schafer is CEO and Founder of Deep Focus, a full-service interactive marketing agency, delivering pioneering and meaningful engagement in the digital space. Advertising Age named Ian a ‘Media Maven’ and he is on the list of the Adweek “Young Ones”. Read his full bio here.

Deep Focus will be hosting “Participation, Aggregation and Criticism in the Digital Age” – a panel discussing how social media is challenging (and changing) social and business rules of engagement – on Monday, February 7 from 3PM – 5PM.

Q: When and why did Deep Focus first get involved with Social Media Week?
Ian Schafer: I’ve been involved with Social Media Week since the beginning. I’ve known and respected Toby Daniels for quite some time, and as soon as I caught wind that Social Media Week was in development, I wanted to get involved and am now on the Global Advisory Board.

The more educated the industry is about social media, the more successful Deep Focus will be. I’ve brought Deep Focus in as a partner to coordinate & run events and help with communications around Social Media Week NY. We’ll be very visible during Social Media Week, so be on the lookout for the team!

Q: What is a major trend you see rising in the social media space of the ad industry or otherwise?
IS: Social media represents an evolution in the ways humans connect to each other, to information, to brands, to objects, to causes, and to places. The biggest trend I see this year is that some companies will actually begin to integrate social media into their organizations, not just their marketing programs or public relations efforts. It will only be a handful of larger brands at first, but smaller brands have been doing this for a while, and will inspire the big guys. The usage numbers are too large to ignore or write off. Social gaming will become a viable ad medium, and mobile connections will be more important than ever, as payment processing starts picking up steam, and smartphone penetration hits an even bigger critical mass.

Q: How do you use social media for both personal and professional use?
IS: Personally, I use social media just like everyone else does – to stay close to family and friends, discover new content, and share what I find interesting. Professionally, I’ve been using social media to put a human face on Deep Focus, while also empowering other Deep Focusers to do the same. I use it to share opinions and things I find interesting with people within (and outside of) the advertising and technology industries. I like staying close to news and information, but I like staying close to people even more.

Professionally, my social media channels of choice are Twitter and my blog. I find it wonderful that I’m not only surrounded by brilliant people at work, but on Twitter as well. Some may say that social media dilutes the idea of being friends with, or even “knowing” people. That’s only true if you let it. It can make those relationships stronger if you make it. I opt for the latter.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most during Social Media Week 2011?
IS: I’m looking forward to Deep Focus’ panel as it comes together, as well as many other events at the JWT hub. I also plan on making it to the other hubs so I can engage in conversation about things other than advertising and marketing. Of particular interest are events that discuss the impact social media has had, and will have, on culture, society, journalism, and governments. Debates on privacy concerns are also something I’m looking forward to participating in.

Q: What are a few major goals for Deep Focus in 2011?
IS: In 2011, Deep Focus is going to make significant advancements in integrating social media and engagement into our clients’ overall marketing and business strategies. We’ve done a great job of making measurement and ROI an important part of what we do, but there’s much more work to be done. As everything becomes more social, we’ll be developing initiatives that use digital media to move people physically, and get them to create content when they are there. We will be cementing the role of the “engagement agency” in a brand’s agency roster, and making that role a significant consideration for brands everywhere.

We’re also looking forward to our first full year as a part of the Engine USA family, and will be working with our sister agency, Noise, and other new partners to bring integrated marketing solutions to some of the biggest brands in the world – all while keeping the consumer at the center of marketing strategies, where they belong.

Follow Ian on Twitter and his blog.

Alysha Lalji is a contributing writer to the Social Media Week blog and works in digital communications at Deep Focus.

5 Questions With… Steve Rosenbaum, Founder and CEO of

This post is part of a weekly series called “5 Questions With…” featuring Q&As with Social Media Week Global Advisory Board members.

Steve Rosenbaum is CEO and Founder of, a video publishing platform that makes it easy to integrate user-generated video, video that you produce, or video that you discover into your website. Read his full bio here.

Q: Your book Curation Nation has been widely acclaimed. What does “curation” mean to you and what role do you see it playing in the social media space?
Steve Rosenbaum: Well, first of all I think the early buzz around the book tells us that folks are hungry for a new way to help them slow down the fire hose of data that is coming at all of us. Truly, what this has triggered is a magnificent renaissance of content.  But it’s also overwhelming. We’re literally drowning in data. It results in that panicky feeling that no matter how hard you try -you’re going to miss something important.  So folks who’ve read the early galleys of the book are saying things like, “This book gives me hope for the future of the Information Age.” That’s Dan Pink – who wrote A Whole New Mind. He’s an amazing author and thinker. So when he wrote that I was like ‘wow, ok maybe this book really needed to be written now.’

Curation simply means that in between the massive web of data and your brain there will be humans. They will find, organize, categorize and validate content for you.  And – increasingly – you’ll be a curator for your peers and friends and fans as well. In fact, if you’ve ever re-tweeted something, or posted on Yelp, or written a review on Amazon – then you’re already curating. You just don’t think of it that way – yet.

Curation will be the special magic that makes social media work. In fact, the idea of ‘social’ is a curated idea. Your social circle is inherently a set of choices. It’s the people you choose to let into your digital life. And their editorial advice is going to help shape what you read, watch, eat, and wear. Think of Social Curation like FlipBook on steroids.

Q: When and why did you first get involved with Social Media Week?
SR: I’ve been involved since year one. I like the self-organizing nature of an event like this. There’s so much talent in New York, and unlike other cities, New York doesn’t really have an easy way for a community to gather. There’s no Buck’s Pancake House here (a famous valley eatery for the tech community). So Social Media Week provides a backbone. And – it’s February – so I’m looking for any excuse to be indoors with friends, and hopefully find a party or two to crash.

Q: What is a major trend you see rising in the social media space?
SR: Well, first of all – let’s be honest, the words ‘Social’ and ‘Media” haven’t really found each other yet. Social is housed in a variety of apps and websites. Media is emerging in Twitter, YouTube, and other tools. But just now, we’re seeing shared social stories – groups of people gathering on Facebook, or connecting in curated ways with experiences like TweetChat.  The big trend is going to be more and more people making, and engaging in media that is social. Shared viewing, co-creating, re-mixing and exploring participatory media. This is an exciting, important, and unfinished evolution.

Q: How do you use social media for both personal and professional use?
SR: Yikes. Well, where do I start?  I publish – often – and using a wide variety of tools.  Personally I use Facebook, Twitter, HootSuite, Foursquare, and Flickr – most of them every day. I’m playing with Quora and Reddit a bit.  Professionally, I publish my video on – where I curate more than 15 channels of content. I blog for Huffington Post, Fast Company, Silicon Alley Insider, and MediaBiz Bloggers. I see my blogging as a spark-plug for conversations – often the most social things I’m involved with are provoked in the comments. On Twitter I’m pretty serious about curating an interesting conversation for my followers and responding directly and quickly to @messages or DM’s. I manage four Twitter accounts, so I’m always reading and re-tweeting – but different material for different streams. For me, curating conversations is something I love to do, and so I’m always enjoying being part of a community of ideas.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most during Social Media Week 2011?
SR: Well, publishing is a very new world for me. I’ve learned a lot working with the folks at McGraw-Hill, and I’m excited to connect with more folks from the book world. I think publishers have an opportunity to be the curators of new ‘live’ book content. So that’s a conversation I’m excited to have. And of course, video and film are my passions as well. So I’m excited to share some wild ideas about how video gets to emerge from the shadows of what we politely call ‘entertainment’ and join the thinking world.

I think this is the year that ‘Social’ and ‘Media’ fall in love.

Alysha Lalji is a contributing writer to the Social Media Week blog and works in digital communications at Deep Focus.

5 Questions With… Sara Holoubek, CEO Luminary Labs

This post is part of a weekly series called “5 Questions With…” featuring Q&As with Social Media Week Global Advisory Board members and Event Partners.

Sara Holoubek is CEO of Luminary Labs. Sara founded Luminary Labs as a response to an increased demand for her strategy consulting practice. Read her full bio here.

Q: Tell us about your background with Luminary Labs and what the organization’s major goals are for 2011.
Sara Holoubek: Luminary Labs was founded to address the needs of industries in transition. As large organizations moved into a post-recession rebuilding phase, they sought to become more resilient in the face of change. In 2011, we will continue to help companies build these business models and introduced new, agile approaches to people, processes, and technology.

Q: When and why did Luminary Labs first get involved with Social Media Week?
SH: Last year we started to develop a strong point of view regarding the role that social technologies can play in the modern organization.

Currently, the majority of social media is focused on satisfying the upper half of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: like this, friend me, buy that. We feel strongly that the world has yet to explore how these same technologies can also serve more basic societal needs, such as our health and food systems.

One of the challenges is that those with the knowledge of how social technology works rarely interact with those solving for basic societal needs. We suddenly felt this obligation to introduce the various actors to explore this concept in a participatory fashion. And so Health | Tech | Food** was born. 

Q: What is a major trend you see rising in the social media space?
SH: We are starting to see organizations view social technology as an underlying system, as opposed to just a messaging tactic. This is a welcome change, but will result in significant organizational changes that may be uncomfortable at first.

Q: How do you use social media for both personal and professional use?
SH: Professionally, social media has become a core component of my company’s communication infrastructure. It has become completely interwoven in all of our interactions with the world.

Personally, I have to thank social media for safely delivering me back to New York during the December blizzard. On the eve the storm, I tweeted that I was about to be stuck in the Midwest with no flights, trains or rental cars available. A Twitter follower quickly connected me to a mutual friend in the same situation, but with a rental car on hand. She was just a few hours away, so yes; Twitter is directly responsible for a 16 hour road trip, including the requisite Cracker Barrel stop.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most during Social Media Week 2011?
SH: I look forward to seeing the output of Health | Tech | Food. As an open innovation event, we will publish all of the ideation output so that anyone can take a concept to the next level. 

**Health | Tech | Food is an event to discuss and innovate around the core health issues of New York through the lens of social technology, including four ideation workshops: open source health, food systems, the quantified self and mobile health.

Alysha Lalji is a contributing writer to the Social Media Week blog and works in digital communications at Deep Focus.