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Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With Twitter-Challenged Cisco Social Video Guru Tim “Washtub” Washer

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I apologize in advance for the following interview.

A colleague responded to my posting of this video on Facebook and wrote “Wins the award for least content in an interview.”

Noah, you’re really being far too generous.

That said, there’s nothing more fun than interviewing Tim “Washtub” Washer, former IBM social media pioneer and now social video guru with Cisco.

Tim is a comedy writer and actor whose credits range from The Late Show With David LettermanLate Night with Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, and more recently, The Onion.

As you’ll see from our interview, all Tim has to do is show up and breathe and Scott and I would laugh.  Really! The fact that we couldn’t seem to land an actual time to conduct the interview amidst a SXSW chock full of social mediated, geo-located smartphone applications…well, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

During his tenure at Big Blue, Washer produced one of the most brilliant corporate social video campaigns ever, “The Art of the Sale,” which was selected as a Comedy Central “Staff Favorite.”  And you know they were reaching for the bottom of the barrel when selecting an IBM video series for such a distinguished honor.

Tim’s work has been covered by Advertising Age, NPR, and The New York Times, and he holds an MBA from the University of Texas.

When we weren’t laughing, Scott and I spoke with Tim about his having left IBM under auspicious circumstances, how he came to be a corporate comedian, and why it was that we couldn’t use Cisco Telepresence technology to conduct such a scintillating interview.

The Art of the Online Corporate Video

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If you never saw the award-winning online video series about the renaissance of the IBM mainframe, “The Art of the Sale”…well, you just don’t know what you’re missing.

See, the mainframe is like a barn.  It’s where you bring all the ranchers and farmers and livestock together under one roof so you can run your latest payroll.

And it’s where the creative comedy genius behind it all, Tim Washer, can sometimes be found hiding out, out behind the big blue barn in Armonk trying not to get found out before he lays down some more hilarious corporate comedy tape and taken out to the barn for a lashing.

After the success of the “The Art of the Sale” series, Washer has gone on to produce some other creative and hilarious videos that help convey the opportunity presented to IBM in helping build a smarter, and yes, sometimes funnier, planet.

Here’s an example from IBM’s recent series, “Mad Science,” featuring none other than IBM Fellow and chief scientist for design automation, John Cohn, hot off his stint on the Discovery channel’s post-apocalpytic reality TV series “The Colony.”

In this episode, he and Tim go canoeing in search of John’s long lost wallet on Lake Champlain…in December…when it’s 27 degrees out…but not before John explains how IBM is helping facilitate smarter and cleaner water by using sensors to monitor water quality and conditions.  Take a peek:

Washer recently joined noted social media PR guru David Meerman Scott in a webinar presented by B2B marketing video enabler, VisibleGains.

In the series of video interviews, Meerman queries Washer how he was able to bring comedy into communications at IBM, still get across the strategic point about building a smarter planet, and not get fired and be demoted to staff writer for the now non-existent Conan O’Brien late show.

Why would IBM make fun of itself?  More importantly, why would IBM join the online menagerie of skateboarding bulldogs and subservient chickens?

Watch this series to laugh and learn.

Written by turbotodd

February 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

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