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David Shing: 3 ridiculous things about “AOL’s Digital Prophet”

david shing and his crazy haircut
main ridiculous things about david shing and his haircut

The Existence of AOL and David Shing

We don’t know what Andrew Marantz was trying to accomplish with this mini-profile of David “Shingy” Shing, AOL’s “Digital Prophet.” But at the very least, it’ll make you question your career choices, life choices, and very existence as a digital marketing professional. David Shing is nonetheless a bit of a character.

Just what does a “Digital Prophet” do exactly? Shing is a self-styled digital guru with some sort of background agency work, who now gets paid money to tell AOL what’s going to happen in the digital world.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Shingy says AOL pays him a six figure salary for “Watching the future take shape across the vast online landscape.”

Shingy adds. “I fly all around the world and go to conferences.”  A prophetic ritual for the digital prophet.

I’m pretty sure that makes me, along with the 50,000 people who attended Oracle Open World and Dreamforce, “digital prophets” as well. Time to update those business cards.

The Three Ridiculous Things

In case you aren’t already mildly amused/enraged/completely befuddled by that little bit of information, here are three more tidbits from the article that highlight just how ludicrous David Shing and his career is. (And in case you’re wondering, Shing says his trademark deranged hairstyle is “surprisingly easy” to maintain.)

1) Shingy shows his insane doodles to AOL marketing execs to “inspire” them:

Here’s a hilariously painful account of how Shingy excitedly bounded into the office of AOL’s top marketer to show her his “brain fart”

Shingy stopped by the office of Erika Nardini, the chief marketing officer of AOL Advertising, and handed her an iPad Mini. “Wanted to show you a little brain fart I had on the plane,” he said. It was a cartoon he had drawn of a bear wearing zebra-print pants and a shirt covered in ones and zeros.

“Love it, love it, love it,” Nardini said. “I’m thinking of the bears more as a metaphor.”

“A thousand per cent,” Shingy said.

“Shingy is my muse,” Nardini said.

Remember, David Shing gets paid in excess of $100,000 a year to do what your 5-year-old does on a daily basis.

2) Shingy is a highly incompetent interior decorator for AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

Shingy’s prophetic powers apparently extend far beyond the confines of the digital marketing and into the world of interior decorating.The article reveals that he got rid of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s perfectly functional office desk and replaced it with a circle of leather arm chairs. Shingy waves off his CEO’s obvious exasperation by basically telling him to chillax:

Armstrong looked around. “I have meetings here, and people don’t know where to sit,” he said.

“They’ll figure it out, man,” Shingy said.

3) Shingy’s prophecies are 100% rubbish.

People actually pay to have this dude give them advice about digital marketing, branding and advertising. As you can imagine, his highly wisdom is nothing but random combinations of buzzwords and painfully obvious statements repackaged as “strategy:”

He told the Applebee’s people that to make their brand “remarkable, reactive, and relevant” they have to tell stories in real time. Everyone is talking about SoLoMo—social, local, mobile—but they should be talking about HoMo: home/mobile, cell phones used on the couch. 

And that, is why we all need a Digital Prophet, a David Shing, in our lives, to make sure we save precious seconds in our lives by abbreviating all the words in our vocabulary.

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