MAJA’S YEAR IN REVIEW

This is my year in review, translated from originally published at Attitude for life.
2016 has left many footprints in history. Footprints of words ending with the suffix -ism. Populism, Terrorism and sexism to name a few. This makes me feel that the world strive backwards. But there are also positive movements and people who do good things for the world and I choose to remember the year based on the things that give hope for the future. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
I will remember the many strong women from 2016. First Beyonce who released Lemonade (When Life Gives you Lemons /… /). She highlights feminism and a view of life impacted by everything from infidelity and breakups and racism. Again, words ending with the suffix -ism. Speaking of feminism, I will also remember Emma Watson, who hidden 100 copies of Maya Angelou’s book, Mom & Me & Mom, on the London Underground to spread the message of her new feminist book club (a UN project) where this book was a recommendation from the club. From Sweden, I remember the cool Zara Larsson. Her epic EM-song, that she topped the global youtube list with the music video “It ain’t my fault”, MTV awards and generally her attitude. She does what everyone should strive to do, which is to believe in yourself and stand up for your opinions no matter what others say.
For my own part, the year 2016, in addition to everything that happened in the outside world, have been relatively eventful. Change has been a motto. Only a year ago I was deprived and in shock that I did not remember what I had done in 2015. Some travel and what I saw on social media was what I could remember, while the rest was a black hole. A never-ending treadmill that had spun and mixed up the days into one big mess. Thus, I started the year with the being tired of the everyday life and with a yearning for more excitement in my life. January 1st, I went out and bought a 5-year diary. No more days would be forgotten and they would instead be filled with value-creating events and my thoughts. And now, 365 days later, I know both what I have done and felt every day.
What has happened in 2016? I have started this planning blog, Just Wow, with my friend Linn. In which I dare to write things I feel and think based on my profession, mixed with myself. After an insightful journey to New York, I resigned from my job, not knowing what I would do instead. For this, I thank Fat White Family and my friends at Droga5. They made me realise that I wanted something different.
Then I started my own company, Madness Strategy, worked myself, I have learned about VAT and taxes (thanks, Dooer), and the importance of a good conversation over a coffee. At the moment I am starting a new company and brand along with three other awesome girls where we will challenge the Swedes norms and behaviours in an important sustainability issue (launch Q1 / Q2 2017). And the year now ended with becoming employed again. A change from the feeling that “alone is strong” to not being able to say no. What I said yes to was a culture, more than it actually was for an agency that does amazing things and has great customers (although this was also true). A culture that is open, honest, modern, even progressive and kind  Thanks for letting me in!
2016 has been a strengthening year on a personal level. To leave an everyday living that is secure and “works” for a future that is uncertain and unpredictable has given me endorphins, joy and energy. I felt strong and brave and it is with those feelings I will start the year 2017.
2017, hi!
xMaja
maja-haraldsson_teaser

I HAVE WAITED SO LONG, MRS PRESIDENT

Yesterday I went to Local Natives concert in Stockholm. Before their song Fountains of Youth they highlighted its message of feminism, which has reached a literal significance after the US election:

I have waited so long, Mrs President

Matriarchs and Teddy Boys, play in houses on the lake

How can we quit drugs if you’re gonna watch like that?

Give me five good reasons you trust us with our future

That’s an example of how profiles and brands seeing themselves as part of the pop culture take a stand and make sure to spread the word while doing it. It’s time for “neutral” brands to realise that this is their responsibility as well. That they are a part of a culture, whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B or your product is one traditionally unsexy. Things are happening and corporate citizenship has reached a new level of mandatory.

But that involves people like us, able to influence the distribution of brands’ money, to point out the value they can gain from taking a stand. Of course it can be scary, but there is no other choice any longer. We can’t allow society to continue move backwards.

Let’s finish with some more music. In Sweden the left side is raising its voice. It was well put in a review of Hurula’s gig at Pustervik: “We’re talking about the concert we just witnessed, the Swedish punk and post-punk’s renewed achievement, about paused left hearts suddenly starting to beat again to acts as Hurula, Avantgardet, Staten, Nicole Saboundé and Silvana Imam. Times are interesting and uplifting for music junkies tired of society.”

Go listen.

xLinn

I KNOW A BOT

”Her name is Anna, Anna is her name”. This is the lyrics from a summer hit produced by Basshunter, me and my classmates sang in 2006, as we said goodbye to high school and stepped into our future. Little did we know that ten years later this could actually be a reality.

The Swedish bank SEB recently introduced the world to their new co-worker and digital employee, Amelia. She has actually been working on the bank’s internal IT support for a while and soon she will also be helping the public. When putting a face to artificial intelligent and robots it becomes crucial to not only make them look like humans but also make them act like humans, in order to make us emphasize with them and trust them. When we see a face we instinctively want to know who they are. I mean, who is Amelia? Is she a cat person or a dog person? What’s her story?

The recent popular HBO-series Westworld attends to this gap between human traits and robot functionalities by giving the androids fictional characters and story lines. Characters which humans can relate to and even fall in love with. 

Okey a sideline to this subject, but a reflection I had when I watched Westworld was that it doesn’t matter if we are in an artificial world, in the world of Game of Thrones or our own reality: Sex and violence are always on the human agenda. The world will always change but the human brain never follows, or will it? As far as I know sex and violence is an age-old story that will stay no matter what.   

Westworld

Anyway back to the subject. Taking this market development to my world, the advertising world, it will become all of our jobs in the near future to create characters and storylines to our new digital friends. Whether it is a customer service bot, a receptionist android or other, they will all need a story to tell in order to be truly welcomed into the human world.

Of course, some warning bells rings when us humans start to emphasize with robots. But really, what’s the difference between robots and other fictional characters, or even products? I know you all have felt emptiness the last time you lost your smartphone or at the end of the last season of your favorite TV-show. Myself have shared deep emotions with Anna Karenina, Harry Potter, Ugly Betty and many more fictional characters and stories. It hasn’t hurt me at all, rather the opposite. Hopefully the next android I get to know will do the same. 

Fun fact, it can actually be easier to feel empathy with a fictional character than our real family and friends, since we get to know them on a much deeper level and get extreme details about their lives (weaknesses, strengths). We can all thank the little lobe in our brains called supramarginal gyrus, the home of empathy, which is the place our fictional feelings take place. 

So whats my point here? Sharpen your pens, and prepare yourself to a new area of a super fun communication creating bot characters. Just as content agencies rose from the ground a couple of years ago, we will probably see the creative android/robot agency pop up soon.

xMaja

                                             robot

I got inspired to write this blog post from a future trend event hosted by Aller media at Allerdagarna 2016.

GREEN WASHED GOOD WILL

Still addressing the recycling mania that awesomely enough is taking a bigger and bigger part of our every day lives; the H&M World Recycle Week – any opinions?

Me and Maja went to Juno PR:s event Recycled Links Live this Friday where a panel discussed sustainable fashion and the complexity around it. A garment can be sustainable in the way that it lasts forever and doesn’t lose its value over time. And a garment can be sustainable due to the way it’s produced. The second part is what this week originally was about: Fashion Revolution Week. It’s a huge thing over the world right now, but in Sweden in particular, or at least in Stockholm, I experience that H&M:s look-alike event is completely stealing the show. The collaboration with M.I.A. called World Recycle Week. Bring garments to the store and you get 50 SEK extra off additional purchases. Happy consumerism. Lol.

But it got us thinking: people still need incentives to get involved. To take that extra effort and recycle. Helpers High isn’t (always) enough.

But come on H&M, choose another week. Don’t just try to hide your sucky production behind discussions about something else. Be transparent and stand for it. I believe this could (hopefully soon?) give you a tougher backlash than if you simply admitted you haven’t solved the production issue yet, and used another side of the company to start this good initiative for recycling. And what’s more important: Let there be a movement fighting for better working conditions in fashion! Movements are inspiring and opening people’s eyes all over the world. Let people understand that they can have an impact on the way things are produced.

Who-made-my-clothes

What comforted me – well, what was welcoming considering things always feel so black and white and that we all are eventually gonna die because humans suck – was something Lisa Corneliusson, co-founder of Make it last said. She talked about her realisation that all initiatives are good. It’s so difficult for companies to make everything correct and we must welcome every effort instead of pointing out everything done wrong. Highlight the positive struggle; let them get credit for trying. It inspires more to dare to do something. But in the manner media today tends to depict companies, the ones who are actually trying to create a positive impact often get shit for missing details. While the ones who keep on doing nothing stay safe in the shadows.

Except for when companies do good in order to silent something bad *cough cough*.

xLinn

TRUE PASSION FOR TRUE CRIME

Wow! I just love it when the whole world comes together to talk passionately with each other about an important (and sometimes less important) subject. The thought of millions of people sitting in front of their blue-lit screens (aka the modern day campfire) alone but still connected with the world, getting engaged in a subject is exciting as well as fascinating.

Right now that subject is true crime firing the logs of the world’s campfires, with the Netflix series Making a murderer mainly sparkling the dialogue and engagement in the genre, driving it to a commercial peak.

True Crime is hardly a new thing. One of the most recognized books within the genre is ”Helter Shelter” published in 1974 (I wasn’t even born!) by American attorney Vincent Bugliosi telling the story of the murders by Charles Manson a.k.a The Manson Family. And there is account less of more stories to partake of. Also in my home country, Sweden, we have been obsessed with true crime pod casts for years, published by the Swedish public service (Sveriges Radio, P3 dokumentär). The genre claims to be around 150 years old, so why is it trending now?

I have a theory. Or rather a magical math equation: reach + awesome brand = world wide success. Yes, it’s Netflix I’m talking about. There are endless of great and interesting stories I miss every day because they’re hidden from me. The Internet may have it all, but if I can’t find it I won’t watch it. And no, I don’t have time to research great content. Aired on the big TV-channels and published in their schedules, I bet there are great stories to consume, but since they don’t sell it to me – I miss it. Oh, I don’t own a TV if I forgot to mention. On the other hand, if Netflix produces a series and publishes it on my account, I’m gonna watch it. And probably lots of people have done the exact same thing as me. The consumer trust Netflix has achieved with a next to flawless play experience to high-quality content enables them to make me interested in whatever subject there is, and that’s just wow, what a power! I wonder what they want the world to talk about next year?

Back to the subject true crime. Okay, now we have watched it and love it. But why? Why do we obsess about it?

There are a lot of mixed emotions cooked up in a true crime story which I believe is one of the triggers. There are horror and curiosity, compassion and rage. All sorts of strong feelings playing with our body and minds. Compared to for example a comedy that mostly serves us laughter and sometimes a bit of deeper affection, but the engagement stops when the episode has ended. The rush just isn’t enough. The emotional cocktail we receive from a true crime story makes us want more. But also the natural human curiosity to the odd and the extremities of the world have fascinated humans since.. yeah forever. The stories are for most of us beyond our understanding and that feeling of not understanding it makes us curious. And to play a detective during the episode is also kind of fun.

xMaja

Steven-Avery

Cred: Wikipedia, Picture of Steven Avery from Making a murderer, Netflix

THE PROBLEM SOLVER BEER, YES I WANT ONE!

Skärmavbild 2016-04-02 kl. 14.07.48Cred: www.theproblemsolverbeer.com

I love to solve problems, and I also love beers. So when I came over this Danish beer “The problem solver” I was happy as a lark! Based on science research it claims to make you more creative when drinking it. Why? Sometimes we have a hard time letting everything and everyone around us go, which makes it more difficult for us to concentrate on a specific task. But with a sip of a thirst quenching beer makes us more relaxed and, therefore, abler to focus on the task to be solved. However, one can not drink any amount of beer. The creators of the beer have a nice way telling us by marking a line on the bottle on how much you can drink based on gender and weight. Maybe not the beer for a first date but surely when burning the midnight oil at the office.

I assure you that we will see more of this trend, to accomplish a different kind of state of mind and mood by what we eat and drink. Looking forward to more creative outtakes.

xMaja