Tuesday, May 26, 2009

World Record Strategy Analysis

AANR is being naughty again.

They have been promoting a new world record for the most simultaneous skinny-dippers. So what's wrong with that? Four things stand out:
  1. It's on July 11th, at 3pm, which happens to be TNS's biggest day of their traditional Nude Recreation Week. (Why didn't they pick the weekend of the 4th? It's my experience that more people attend beaches or resorts over the weekend of the 4th. If AANR wanted bigger numbers, they would've chosen the 4th!)
  2. It's a record dealing with skinny-dippers, which is the core of TNS. (AANR is focused on recreation, not specifically skinny-dipping. Why didn't they go for nude volleyball instead?)
  3. Beaches are part of the record attempt, probably the significant part, which has always been TNS's domain.
  4. TNS is not mentioned as a collaborator anywhere. They're not in AANR's original post, or in the news stories. (Note that Serendipity Park is also TNS affiliated, but never mentioned TNS.)
It is clear that AANR is directly attacking TNS with this record attempt. They are trying to steal away the small number of members that TNS has, the traditional National Recreation Week that they started, and trying to become the go-to source for skinny-dipping on public lands. (That is, before they close them.) What they will never steal away is a tough Game Theorist named Doug!

First lets take a look at the variables at stake. TNS has an associated cost with their efforts. They need to spend time and money depending on their decisions. Cost 0 (zero) means they don't need to do anything, 1 means they put forth a small effort to get stats on beaches, 2 means they put forth effort to get stats at all affiliates. I don't know the dollar value on each of these, but it doesn't matter at this point. Publicity is measured in percent, and is quite subjective. Associations are made based on who gets the publicity. For example, if TNS gets publicity about nude beaches, then people will associate TNS with nude beaches. Lastly is the number of participants in the world record. A bigger number looks better in the publicity. The initial question is: Will TNS help in collecting numbers?

If TNS says no, it may end up with negative publicity towards TNS that won't help AANR any. If TNS helps, AANR might be kind enough to mention them once or twice. Either way, AANR wins and TNS loses. People who think "skinny-dipping" will turn to AANR, the record holder for that very subject. This would be the case even if AANR managed to get only 100 participants.

It's easy for TNS to lose this game, but there is an opportunity for them to win big instead! The solution is an unexpected strategy. The new strategy is to submit their own attempt:

If AANR has the bigger number with all of their clubs, then TNS loses with a bigger cost. But if TNS tries, they could win this record, win the publicity, and keep their heritage.

AANR can have people at every AANR resort, which totals more than TNS. (TNS can count people at their 82 resorts too, which negates those resorts.) AANR's page lists 112 "places", but some are travel clubs who are likely going to travel to a participating resort. Taking a representative sample, figuring out the pool sizes, and estimating how much space the average American takes up, my estimate is that AANR can have a turnout of roughly 50,000 to 70,000 before literally running out of water (or hitting a realistic participation limit) at their clubs. AANR's estimate of 400,000 to 1,000,000 suggests that they really have no clue.

AANR is also trying to count people at legal beaches as well, but many of the "friends of" groups at the beaches are primarily TNS. My suggestion is to try and keep AANR off the beaches, because they are more valuable. (I'd say that throwing AANR cameras into water is fair game for protecting the privacy of the skinny-dippers.)

If TNS focuses on the beaches, they could collect far bigger numbers. TNS knows people at beaches all around the world (not just in North America like AANR). Remember, this is a world record attempt. TNS produces the world guide with 1,000 of the best nude beaches. Any decent beach has hundreds to thousands of people, and they would all fit in the oceans, lakes, or rivers. The only problem is getting them there, and counting them. If TNS is at 100 beaches, they will likely beat AANR.

According to a recent article along similar lines: "To verify the record, each game needed a notarized statement from one independent witness or un-notarized statements from two independent witnesses. The schools also were required to submit high-quality color photographs and video of the games in progress." In other words, two people write statements with the counts and one of them takes some (dated) high-res pictures and video -- done! (Is there a privacy issue with this? Probably!)

AANR is deceptive in what they publish. Most AANR publicity has unverifiable numbers, or unverifiable claims. I'm happy that a different company will be verifying numbers for this. However, I believe the door is still open for cheating. What are the chances that two AANR people will state the wrong number? How many of the reports will actually contain pictures and/or video? Will the media contain a date? Is AANR photoshopping dates on to pictures as we speak? I really hope that Guinness throws out anything they can't verify. I also don't like AANR spewing out made-up preliminary numbers, like 400,000 to 1,000,000 participants.

I believe that TNS deserves that world record since it's their traditional day of naturist celebration.

I understand that the best strategy for both AANR and TNS would be to work together. This is a classic prisoner's dilemma scenario. AANR gets slightly more by not cooperating, and TNS would too if roles were reversed. Together they could easily double the number and share in the wider-scale, bigger impact publicity.

I discussed my suggested strategy with a TNS official, and they told me something very enlightening that is worthy of being published. Whenever TNS organizes a big event, they always call and ask AANR if they would like to be a part of it. For this AANR-created event, they never called TNS. For anything skinny-dip related, I'd say TNS is a major player and it only makes sense to include them.

AANR is playing the Greedy move in this game, and this is a bad choice since the game gets repeated for every new event or idea. Does cooperation last after one player gets greedy? Not usually. AANR is single-handedly breaking the history of cooperation between the two players, and it is damaging to all of naturism.

Since AANR is being naughty, I would like to start a new campaign called "Spank-an-AANR". If you disagree with AANR's world record strategy to leave TNS behind, and encounter an AANR-only supporter, leave a sore spot on their behind when they least expect it! Explain that the Academic Naturist told you to do it, and that they should tell their managers to include TNS in their events for everyone's benefit. AANR is being naughty, and deserves a spanking! If you're outside of spanking distance, feel free to mail a paddle, ruler, flogger, or crop to AANR with a note explaining the same thing.

So will AANR change their strategy to include TNS? What strategy is TNS going to take? Is there another unexpected strategy? I have my predictions, and a little inside knowledge, but am staying quiet!

*Note: I'm not affiliated with TNS in any way except for being a member, so my opinions don't represent TNS. I just want to make that clear. The Spank-an-AANR campaign can be taken as a joke, but if someone manages to spank an AANR authority figure, or mails them something, be SURE to post it in the comments! Even though it may be a joke, it's still an important message to deliver to AANR. A typical AANR member might just be clueless, so maybe tell them about it but don't actually spank them.


Nudiarist said...

What you call playing "dirty" is actually brilliant strategy on the part of AANR. While TNS continues to look backwards at its own glory days, that "other" organization is moving forward and stealing the thunder. TNS needs to join the modern world, get a first class web presence, and come up with it's own ideas for sparking the public's interest. TNS officials are too busy wondering about which "Friends" character they most resemble on Facebook instead of getting serious, discussing the hard issues, and paving a path to the future.

Anonymous said...

It has always seemed to us that AANR is a company that represents the nudist INDUSTRY whereas TNS is more of a group of nudists working towards nudist GOALS.

That's very simplified, but their approaches relate to that idea. AANR is highly commercial with money-making operations going on all over the place, TNS does that to a degree but still retains the feeling of a family of like-minded folks.

These different styles could benefit everyone if they'd work together better.

We've seen the same thing happen between the two camps and the Beach in our area. While not openly antagonistic, there is a certain reserve between the three groups represented. Snobery, if you will.

Rarely do they cooperate in a venture though it would be better for all three to collaborate for the mutual benefit of all.

So you're both correct. AANR comes off as elitist but has a better business model; TNS has a homey feel but lacks a certain degree of sophistication.

Kind of like my ex and I, and we never did learn to work well together...

John A said...

I can certainly see where a certain paranoia could easily arise regarding the skinny dip record but the simple fact is there has not been any "malice aforethought". The truth of it is that nobody at AANR really believed that Guinness would create a new category and when it happened there was a whirlwind of activity to try to figure out the logistics. As for the timing with Nude Recreation Week it just makes sense and isn't a snub at TNS. Isn't Nude Recreation Week a big push for both organizations? This the first I've heard of a specific organization trying to claim ownership. As for your game theory I can't see how trying to use the record attempt to drive a wedge between nudists would do anything but hurt the greater cause. Oh, and by the way -- please don't blister my behind as I support both AANR and TNS.

Anonymous said...

To further clarify the World Record Skinny-Dip, AANR invited TNS to participate and it is my understanding that Nicky Hoffman has helped with the inclusion of Mazo Beach as one of the record events.

Academic Naturist said...

@Susan (Weaver?): I hope that your information is correct and that AANR has since contacted TNS about helping out. I checked AANR's list, and Mazo isn't there yet. Also, AANR specified that they are including "legally-sanctioned nude beaches". Mazo Beach may or may not fit that category, since it falls through some interesting cracks in the legal system. All-in-all, TNS is capable of a lot more than just Mazo Beach! I hope they do the right thing as well by putting forth a serious effort to get a big number of participants.

Most of all, if they really are working together, I hope that TNS is mentioned in the publicity.

@John: Nude Rec Week was originally started by TNS, and went several years as a TNS event before AANR took notice. Since then AANR has joined in and both organizations work together in promoting it, which is a good thing since it reaches more people.

It doesn't matter that AANR didn't expect it -- while working out the logistics early on, they should've at least contacted TNS to help out. It's not too late. They still have time to make the right move and work together this year.

Anonymous said...

I just double checked with the AANR office to make sure of my facts, and TNS was invited to participate in the AANR World Record Skinny-Dip project, and Mazo Beach was discussed; however, no response about any specific event has been received. They were provided with the Event Guide, Media Kit, and are receiving weekly guidance on how to plan public relations for an event.

Academic Naturist said...

I, too, checked with the TNS office. Here's what they had to say:

"[AANR] called [TNS] to inform [TNS] of what they were planning. At no time did they invite TNS to participate. Nor did they place our name and contact number on anything going out to the media (which is something we had done on our press releases since they joined us in celebrating Nude Rec Week approx 10-12 years ago)"

AANR might be in contact with the local Mazo Beach group, but Mazo is not a "legally-sanctioned nude beach". The only beach that fits that description is Haulover.

My original post still stands. I hope that AANR includes TNS in this venture for everyones benefit, but it is clear that they never plan to.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I double checked my facts. TNS and other public lands/beaches organizations were invited to participate in the World Record Skinny Dip event. At least one of these other organizations is taking full advantage of this opportunity and planning what promises to be a very successful World Record event.
AANR’s communications log shows that in addition to the initial invitation discussion between Erich Schuttauf and Nicky Hoffman, there were 5 emails with helpful materials and information and a package sent USPS.
I see no point in continuing a “he said, she said” dialogue when there is so much more important work that needs to be accomplished. Instead of internal squabbles, let’s spend our time educating those who are ignorant, lobbying those with power to help us, and introducing newcomers to the wonderful world of clothes free living. While AANR and TNS may be on different paths, I believe both are working toward the same goal – greater acceptance and practice of nude recreation.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous. Since there seems to be some confusion as to my conversation with Caroline & Erich, from the AANR office, let me clafify. They called to ask what our theme for NRW was and to inform me of what they were doing. At NO time did they invite TNS to participate or offer to co-sponsor which has been historically our mode of operation. Once bitten twice shy!