TED Transforms Taxis (And is Great in General)

By christinewatson / / Guest Post by Brittany Zaborowski, Account Coordinator at Interference, Inc. For the past few years I have been semi-obsessed with TED talks. For those of you living under a rock, TED is an innovative nonprofit devoted to spreading Technology, Education, Design and novel ideas worth sharing. They host two annual conferences every spring in Long Beach and Palm Springs, and one in Edinburgh UK during the summer. I’d basically be willing to sacrifice my left arm/future first born child to attend one. The first TED Talk I experienced was in 2008 when Joshua Klein discussed the incredible intelligence of crows and how they can be trained to collect garbage around cities to deposit into specially designed vending machines that reward the birds with food. Consequently, four years later I still think of this talk anytime a crow looks at me with those hyper intelligent beady little eyes of theirs or when I have to pry numerous pieces of trash out of my dog’s jowls on a daily basis. I propose NYC adopts this reward-based program to teach humans to use trash cans in the city. I tend to follow the marketing and business discussions, two of my favorites being Life Lessons From An Ad Man where Rory Sutherland explains how advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception of it, rather than changing the product itself. He uses an example of a smartass Ogilvy Canada intern that boosted the sales of a square shaped cereal by literally turning it on its side, and calling it diamond shaped cereal. I also enjoyed Morgan Spurlock’s TED talk supporting his most recent project, The Greatest Ted Talk Ever Sold. Although TED’s inspired thinkers and contributors spread their knowledge to a global community, they’ve had trouble reaching common Latin American citizens. In order to raise awareness for TED in these communities, Ogilvy & Mather Buenos Aires called upon the cities most remarkable speakers: Taxi Drivers. Fifty taxi drivers were invited to the TEDx Buenos Aires conference to soak in six hours of inspirational TED material. After the conference, drivers went back to carting Latin American citizens around the city doing what they do best – talking and over sharing. The results were remarkable. These fifty drivers morphed into brand ambassadors for TED as they discussed the conference with twenty passengers a day for an entire week, resulting in 7,000 listeners, seven times the amount of people that attended the TEDx conference. I’m used to watching television shows based on taxis, what with –well –Taxi, Cash Cab and HBO’s ever stirring Taxi Cab Confessions. I’m also all too aware of the ads that blanket every inch of public transportation in major cities. But what TED has seemingly managed to do is create a new medium out of these loud, easily excitable taxi drivers. This is a simple yet effective idea, and I’d personally prefer listening to some cabbie yammer on about the most recent TED talks than hear those awful dress for less fashion tips blaring from the back of NYC cabs. Speaking of which, has anyone noticed that recently when trying to click the off button, the TVs don’t turn off? Grumbles.