Saturday, August 29, 2009

Give to Get

From Mediapost yesterday:

Support The Lesser-Known Youth Causes

There is no doubt that today's brands need to think about giving back to the community, and there is no better way to do this than by aligning your brand and employees with a worthy cause. Research conducted by Youth Pulse Insights tells us that slightly more than two out of five (41%) college students think that brands "definitely should" support causes.

Brands looking to build a cause-marketing stance should proceed with caution, however. Tying yourself to a cause involves more than swinging a hammer for a week with Habitat for Humanity or echoing the words of Bono as he brings awareness to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. You have to look within your organization to find out what your people care about and which opportunities fit best in relation to your industry. After all, what good is your involvement unless you actually have the power to affect it in a meaningful way?

Though certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some organizations you may not have heard of that involve youth and Gen Y and are doing some very remarkable things that you could be supporting:

The Campus Kitchens Project This group partners with high schools, colleges, and universities to share on-campus kitchen space, recover food from cafeterias, and engage students as volunteers who prepare and deliver meals to the community to those who need it most. This charity's kitchens are in 20 schools around the country -- big schools and small schools, rural and urban, colleges and high schools. Its goal is to have many Campus Kitchens around the country feeding the hungry and the needy.

National Runaway Switchboard This organization says between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away per year. Many are running from abusive and destructive home environments. The mission of this group is to help keep America's runaway and at-risk youth safe and off the streets. The 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline handles an astounding 100,000 calls each year and provides solution-focused interventions, confidential and caring support, and 24-hour help for at-risk youth and their families.

National Students of AMF This organization supports students of deceased or "ailing mothers, fathers," or loved ones. This organization, with a network of 24 campus chapters, is the only one dedicated to supporting college students coping with the terminal illness or death of a loved one and empowering all college students to help each other deal with the grief and challenges associated with fighting a terminal illness.

National Student Partnerships (Now called LIFT) This organization is dedicated to combating poverty throughout U.S. communities by getting college students involved. Trained student advocates work side by side with low-income people in the community to address immediate daily needs unique to their situation and chart a sustainable path out of poverty. Check out the organization's website for a great video that explains who they are and where they are heading.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students? AFSP is the leading national organization dedicated exclusively to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. AFSP has developed a film called "The Truth about Suicide: Real Stories of Depression in College" as a commitment to support colleges and universities in implementing suicide prevention services on campus. The film aims to present a recognizable picture of depression and other problems associated with suicide among college students and other young adults.

UniversalGiving UniversalGiving helps college students travel over their spring break or summer vacation to more than 70 countries across the world to volunteer. Students and student groups can choose from 290 different customized opportunities for giving, such as Education & Literacy or Health & Human Services. This program puts resources in places where there is a tremendous need while providing college kids with valuable hands-on experience helping others, building self-confidence and increasing awareness of humanitarian needs across the globe.

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One day I'll write about comparing yourself to your competitors and the right/wrong way to do it.

In the meantime, I share with you yet another bit of wisdom this week from Seth Godin:

“We don’t compare ourselves to other airport restaurants”

Atlanta brags about having the busiest airport in the world. Like most municipal facilities, they don’t brag about having the best, the most pleasant, the most engaging or the most remarkable airport in the world.

That’s a shame, because airports are great opportunities to create value. Lots of curious, alert people with money to spend and connections to make. Yet the lowest-common-denominator is served, relentlessly. If you like fried meat, plenty to choose from. You’d think that rather than cater to the center of the curve 100 times at 100 concessions, they’d pay attention to some of the outliers now and then...

Imagine my delight, then, when I stumbled upon One Flew South, located at Terminal E. Perhaps because it’s at the end of the line, the economic and turnover pressure is less. Regardless, it’s better than we have been taught we should deserve. Jerry the general manager explained why in the simple quote that leads this post off. He’s busy comparing the place to other restaurants, not to other airports. (If you go, say hi to Carolyn at the bar. Tell her I sent you and she’ll take care of you.)

Who (or what) are you comparing yourself to?

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From Rain Today:

5 Easy Ways to Get Prospects to Complete the Sales Circle

By Ron Smith

A fine line exists between convincing a prospect that you want his business and bugging him so much that you chase him away. Though you would like to make the prospect's decision for him, you really can't. You can, however, do the next best thing by providing him everything he needs to make an informed choice—which is to select your service.

An advertising maxim likens this process to forming a circle, which you can start but only the prospect can complete. Your job is to arm the prospect with key pieces of information and make him feel comfortable in making a decision. If you use any phrases similar to the ones below, however, you're trying to complete the circle for him:

Advice for Improving Your Sales Skills
4 Tips for Making Sales Conversations Easier to Lead

"Get Out of My Office": Why Closing Techniques Will Make Your Prospects Cringe

Use Testimonials to Attract Prospects and Win Sales
  • We're the smart choice.
  • Our service is simply the best.
  • Our company is the worldwide leader in (fill in the blank).
  • We're so much better than our competition that it's embarrassing.

Never tell the prospect how great you are. Rather, give him the facts to draw that conclusion. At the other extreme, there is danger in not going far enough, which means you haven't provided sufficient information. As a result, the prospect can't reach the conclusion you want because there is too much effort, too much left to question, and too little comfort with you or your service.

Your job is to draw a circle until it's nearly complete and then hand the pencil to the prospect. The circle begins when the prospect realizes he has a need. The line arcs as you build interest in your service, and it reaches its logical conclusion when the prospect realizes the best way to address his need is to choose you.

Five Easy Ways to Form a Circle

Forming a near circle requires a set of tools that you can draw on for each situation. Here are five basic tools:

  1. Testimonials
    It seems like a no-brainer, but third-party validation is such a powerful, yet often under-utilized, tool. Never say anything good about yourself when you have someone else happy say it for you.

    Your prospect: How good are you guys?

    You: I think our customer, Giganticus Corporation, can answer that question better than me. (Insert testimonial)

    Keep testimonials on hand that address each key selling point such as fantastic customer support, rapid response, quick implementation time, great value, and ease of use. Avoid putting words in your customers' mouths, however. Their honest words will be far better than anything you can write. Instead, jump-start the process by providing examples of the type and length of comments you want.

  2. Mini-Case Studies
    As long as you're asking for testimonials, use customer feedback to create mini-case studies, too. They are another strong form of third-party validation that highlights your experience and, if your company or service is relatively new, proof of concept. Each mini-case study should contain two or three paragraphs that briefly tell how a customer leveraged your service to solve a problem.

    Here's a simple format:
    Challenge > Solution > Result

    Powerful case studies should mention a return on investment, such as savings in time or the elimination of stress.

  3. Trials
    Some salespeople think the only result of giving something away is the opportunity to give more of it away. Maybe that's so if you're selling a commodity, such as #2 pencils. If you're selling a service, however, the quickest way to a paying customer may be by giving him the chance to try your service for free. Let the prospect give your service a brief test-drive. Quite often, a prospect's time is much more important to him than the cost of your service. If he takes time to try it, he's serious. Another tip: arrange with the prospect a specific stop and end point for any trial to ensure he tests your service in a timely fashion. If a prospect has an open-ended trial, he is less likely to feel any urgency.
  4. Third-Party Information
    Prospects choose you as much as they choose your service. Prospects—human beings that they are—love getting information about things that interest them. For example, you could say, "Mr. Prospect, I just came across this article in RainToday that I thought you might find interesting. I know it's a subject that's near to your heart." It's another way to show you've taken time to understand how his business works.
  5. Listening Skills
    It's natural to be so excited about your service that you can't help but talk on and on about it. But as much as you want to talk, the prospect wants to talk more. And he wants you to actively listen, which can be the quickest way to making a nearly complete circle. If you don't listen, you won't know which testimonial to share or which mini-case study compares best to the prospect's situation. Tip: record yourself talking to a prospect. Of course if you do this, be sure to get the prospect's permission prior to recording. Even if it's just one end of a phone call, it helps to review how you conduct a conversation. As painful as it may be to hear yourself, you will know quickly if you're listening well or possibly talking over the prospect.

In the end, relax a little. Prospects sense when you're overly eager to gain a sale and move them along faster than they want to move. They can equally sense when you're comfortable enough to let your tools work for you. Soon, the prospect is ready to complete the circle, and you've earned the business.

Ron Smith is a small business entrepreneur with a background in marketing and journalism. He is a partner with ABC Signup, which develops and sells online registration software.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Night Marketing News

Mediapost reports:

by Karlene Lukovitz
For the $10 million TV portion of the campaign, to air on Bravo, E! and other cable channels, Agent16 has built on the core creative premise: Showing that drinking the premium, imported-from-England vodka and its growing array of "fun and unique" flavors is "seriously fun" by showing tasters' opened-mouthed expressions of delight. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The Houston-based division of Royal Dutch Shell Plc has signed a unique deal with Hachette Filipacchi that makes Shell "official fuel provider" for the three magazines; the deal includes comprehensive co-branded content and advertising in the magazines and their Web sites' weekly radio broadcasts. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
The retailer, which has been rebuffed in the past in its efforts to go into the banking business, says its research reveals that the new service will cut the time customers typically spend tending to such bills in half, and collectively, save families as much as $100 million in bill-pay fees this year. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"We are seeing that on the consumer side of things, price [as a component of customer retail satisfaction] has increased in importance," J.D. Power's Dale Haines tells Marketing Daily, adding that price has also become a stronger driver of which appliance brands and retailers consumers choose. ... Read the whole story > >
by David Goetzl
Verizon said it has launched a trial under the "TV Everywhere" umbrella for customers of its FiOS telco TV service, though it will be more limited than Time Warner Cable's efforts, including only two networks, TNT and TBS, at first, although the company said others will be added. ... Read the whole story > >

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Battling it out

Drew wrote this recently:

Fight! Fight!

Posted: 24 Aug 2009 07:30 AM PDT

Shutterstock_35696245 How many movies have you seen where a pivotal scene is played out on the playground. The protagonist and the antagonist square off, ready to duke it out. They are surrounded by other kids, shouting “fight, fight!” with great enthusiasm.

I’m not so sure we outgrow that instinct as we become adults. There is something very primal and very intoxicating about a good fight. But as adults, rather than gather on the playground, we gather in courtrooms, legislative bodies, corporate America and the media.

And in marketing.

Whether you are old enough to remember the battles between Burger King and McDonald's played out in their TV spots or enjoy the current bickering between Apple and Microsoft (or as it plays out...Macs versus PCs)... there are lessons to be learned from these skirmishes. It’s good to know the rules before you roll up your sleeves.

  • Picking (or getting called out) a public fight is a little like spinning top. Once you release it, it goes where it wants to go.
  • Just because you’re ready to be done, doesn’t mean the media or your opponent will be.
  • You will be fighting for the opinions of the neutral group. Those who loved you before the fight will keep on loving you and those who didn’t aren’t likely to change their take either.
  • If the spectators have a stake in the fight, they’ll care about the details. Otherwise, you’re just a sideshow. It’s pretty tough not to make a spectacle of yourself if you’re being viewed as free entertainment.
  • The bigger and more public the fight, the harder it is to make up and resolve it. That sort of public lashing leaves scars and animosity that’s tough to heal.

Sometimes the fight is worth it. Sometimes the fight is unavoidable. But don’t lose sight of the risks as you decide whether or not to wage battle.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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The Young Hispanic Market

An interesting post from today:

Characteristics of Hispanic Millennials

Characteristics of Hispanic Millennials

In terms of population size, Millennials are already reshaping the ethnic makeup of the Unites States. According to recent figures from the 2008 Current Population Survey, 44 percent of those born since the beginning of the 80’s belong to some racial or ethnic category other than “non-Hispanic white”. Millennials are revealing themselves to be the demographic precursor to Census Bureau projections showing whites as a minority by 2050: only 56 percent of Millennials are white (non-Hispanic) and only 28 percent of current Baby Boomers who are non-white. Therefore we can say that the younger the group, the higher the proportion of “ethnic” populations.

Hispanics are at the forefront of this Millennial diversity:

- over 20 percent of Millennials are Hispanics

- approximately 86 percent of Hispanics under the age of 18 are born in the U.S. (95 percent of Millennials are U.S. born)

- many Hispanic Millennials are the offspring of immigrants

- unlike their immigrant parents, this group strongly exhibits a preference for English as their primary mode of communication – this poses an interesting challenge when targeting this group because of the importance of family opinions

- 88 percent of second generation Hispanics and 94 percent of third generation Hispanics are highly English fluent (speak “very well”). Many second generation Hispanics tend to be bilingual, but English dominates by the third generation. (Source: Pew Hispanic Center)

A distinguishing characteristic of multi-ethnic Millennials is their heavily “second generation” orientation (nearly 30 percent are children of immigrants). Since they are more likely children of immigrants than immigrants themselves, the proportion of foreign born Millennials is relatively small when compared to Generation Xers and Baby Boomers. Foreign-born persons comprise 13 percent of all Millennials (includes all those born since the 80s), but they make up 22 percent of the Generation X cohort (born between 1965 to 1979) and 16 percent of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).

Hispanics born in the U.S. can be grouped into two distinct marketing segments:

a- the young “millennial” Latinos, children, teens, and young adults born to immigrant parents

b- “traditional Latinos” or those born to Latino families that have been U.S. citizens for two or more generations

The first ones know how to live in both cultures and enjoy doing so. For the second segment, and depending on the market, the levels of value orientation and acculturation vary drastically. They may be far removed from the Latino culture or their identity as Hispanics can be much more traditional and stronger than expected.

Perhaps more astounding is the casual mix-and-match cultural sensibilities of Millennials. Not content to cleave to any single ethnic or cultural influence, they are free to engage in the variety with no restrictions. One example is “Mashups”—entire compositions reconfigured from samples drawn from disparate musical genres—so popular on mp3 players. Millennial choices in popular culture are drawn from a broad pool of influences, and anything can be customized and suited to one’s personal preferences—just as easily as an iPod playlist. Likewise, the aesthetics of Millennial fashion, movies, and video games increasingly reflect a broad range of influences—from Japanese anime to East L.A. graffiti art.

Today’s young consumer shun direct overtures aimed at appealing to their ethnic background and they tend to discard traditional cultural labels in favor of their own self-created monikers like “Mexipino”, “Blaxican”, “China Latina”.

As a market segment, Millennials are shaking the foundations of advertising and media. Enabled by technology, their lifestyle is characterized by instant text messaging, mobile media, and virtual social networking. Millennials Hispanics are 211% more likely to download content from the Internet than the general population. Over 60% of Hispanic Millennials are online.

Downloads just might be the manner in which Hispanics are attaining and interacting with certain brands for the first time. For example, downloading may be a preferred method to receive media content including local and national news. This is exemplary of a larger phenomena occurring across the youth culture, as people in younger age brackets go online for content typically associated with more ‘traditional’ media, such as movies or television. Media content providers and marketers have an opportunity to leverage downloading habits and create content that engages Hispanic Millennials and other Hispanics online.

by Claudia “Havi” Goffan

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They Don't Care

From an email from Craig Garber:

Hi Scott,

One of the toughest things about sales, and heck, one of the
toughest things in life in general, is we often forget
others don't necessarily share our passion about things.

So for instance, if you're really passionate about Ultimate
Fighting, for example... if you live and breathe this stuff
to the point where you're following every single match,
each fighter's particular training methods... and even
their diets... it's hard for you to understand that there
are people out there in the world who could care less about

Who don't even know what UFC stands for, for that matter.
Yet, you might be spending two or three hours a day
thinking about it and discussing it on forums online. And
when you're so immersed in something like this, it's hard
to fathom that there are others out there who are so
unaware, right?

Well, this is the same handicap many sales people and
entrepreneurs suffer when it comes to selling.

See, no one, including your customers, cares anywhere nearly
as much about your business or your particular skill-set,
the way you do.

And so when you're out there trying to sell prospects on
something, you need to sell them on end results and
solutions, not "how good you are" at wholesaling homes...
or financial planning... or interior decorating... or
whatever it is you do.

And it's sometimes hard to do this because you're so
completely immersed in being the best at what you do --
it's hard to imagine anyone, especially your customers, not
sharing or appreciating the pride of ownership you have,
over how skilled you are and how competent your work is.

But rest assured, they don't appreciate it, because it's not
their problem.

You get hired, and people buy stuff from you because of the
results you deliver, and nothing more.

No one cares I've spent close to 30,000 hours over the last
ten years becoming the best... refining my copy and my
marketing skills. And frankly, they shouldn't care. That
was my decision, the same way it was my decision to have
three children.

These are my choices, or my problems, even. And in sales,
you should never make... your problems... your customer's

Sell results, solutions, and end benefits, and your
customers will hear you loud and clear.

And tomorrow I'll give you a few easy strategies to use,
that'll help you do this.

Now go sell something, Craig Garber

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News

From Mediapost:

by Karl Greenberg
Lincoln advertising, which adheres to a "Reach Higher" theme, largely eschews text supers and completely dispenses with voiceovers. Instead, Lincoln uses techno-pop stylings of pop classics like David Bowie's "Major Tom" (for the recent MKZ campaign) and focuses on vehicle technology and design. ... Read the whole story > >
by Tanya Irwin
"It is not necessarily true that younger consumers spend more on accessories, although they have more physical accessories. Older consumers may opt for top-of-the-line Bluetooth headsets while younger consumers may be purchasing silicone protective cases for their iPhones and a set of wired earbuds," ABI Research's Michael Morgan tells Marketing Daily. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
Diageo Rums Director of Marketing Tom Herbst describes the voicemail tool as "another outlet to interact with friends in the playful and fun-loving fashion synonymous with the Captain Morgan brand." It also, of course, meshes with the tone of the overall Calling All Captains campaign, which is squarely aimed at young male adults. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"The videos showcase some of the things we do behind the scenes; they are about things that don't fit into standard storytelling but add context to how we are encouraging young designers," says Brad Stertz, manager of corporate communications for Audi of America. "It's adding context through video." ... Read the whole story > >
by Wayne Friedman
DVR usage is a lesser activity among multitasking consumer chores than other media. That's according to veteran TV researcher Steve Sternberg, who notes that DVR use is the highest "sole medium used with no other life activity." That's gold to advertisers. ... Read the whole story > >

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Word of Mouth Marketing?

Chuck McKay:

There Is No Word-of-Mouth "Marketing."

Pay close attention to Stephanie's story:
“Roger's feet get cold easily, so I bought him a pair of sheepskin slippers. He loved them, but it wasn't long before the wool lining started wearing off. So I called Lands' End to see if I could get them replaced under warranty. The lady I talked to was very nice, but she couldn't find any record of my purchase, and she couldn't figure out which slippers I was describing. But, she cheerfully told me that she'd be happy to exchange them, and gave me a return authorization. I was pretty excited when I told Roger that Lands' End had agreed to replace his slippers even though I couldn't find the sales receipt. He told me that was because I bought those slippers from LL Bean.”
Stephanie tells her story well. People laugh at it. It's the kind of story that people tell each other daily. It's the kind of story likely to be repeated by people who don't know either Stephanie or Roger.

There's a critical lesson, though, in Stephanie's story. Did you catch it? No problem. We'll come back to it in a minute.

Stephanie's story is an example of Word-of-Mouth.

It's not, however, an example of Word-of-Mouth “marketing.”

And apologies to WOMMA aside, I'm not convinced that Word-of-Mouth marketing exists.

Why? Because adding the word “marketing” assumes that it's something the business causes to happen. Word-of-Mouth may be influenced by business, but by it's very nature it can never be controlled.

Go back to Stephanie's story for the critical distinction. Is she telling a story about customer service at Lands' End? No. She's telling a story about her own experience as a customer. People love to tell stories about themselves.

Exactly how important is your product or your service in the telling of any customer's story? If the stuff you're selling fits into her narration, it might be included. But whether it is or not, Word-of-Mouth in any of its forms is always about the experience of the buyer. Only indirectly is the seller even involved.

Which makes Word-of-Mouth "marketing" a misnomer.

Word-of-Mouth is not marketing for several reasons.

Marketing becomes cost effective when there are efficiencies of scale. Word-of-Mouth takes place on a one-to-one basis.

In marketing, a company sends its message directly to prospects. Word-of-Mouth is farther removed from the company with each iteration of the story. People who know the story teller will be influenced. People who know those people may be slightly influenced. At three degrees removed there will be minimal effect, if any. (And yes, I'm fully expecting a few e-mails pointing out "Viral Marketing" as an example to the contrary. Can anyone even predict what goes viral? I thought not).

Finally, people may get your message wrong, and you can't stop it from happening. In a few more tellings Stephanie's story could easily mutate into a tale about a lady who had a funny interaction with Sears.

Word-of-Mouth is not marketing. It's not advertising.

Word-of-Mouth existed long before advertising. When most people lived in smaller communities, walked to the market, talked to their neighbors, and gathered in churches or meeting halls, Word-of-Mouth was simply conversation.

Advertising became important communication when our communities got too big for the people selling stuff to personally know their customers. Mass media carried the message from the manufacturers of goods to the new post-war middle class.

But for the last century, probably due to over exposure, we've all become less susceptible to advertising's claims. Customers now are more likely to believe the opinions of total strangers than the advertising messages of local companies.


Word-of-Mouth is now more critical to business success than at any time since the dawn of mass media. And yet, you can't make a customer talk about you. You can't make her not talk about you. You're going to be mentioned when you're part of her story. No more. No less.

Change your role in her story.

Although you may view Miss Customer as a purchaser of the things you sell, she sees herself as the protagonist in her own story. When you try to make the story about your company, Miss Customer will dismiss your whole effort as irrelevant.

But if your business is willing to become the secondary character in Miss Customer's personal narrative, is willing to engage Miss Customer, and indeed to make her story possible, that's when she'll take you along for the ride. Your business "character" will be portrayed in much the same way as her interaction with you happened in real life.

Treating her well may be the only influence you have in the creation of positive Word-of-Mouth. Treating her badly ads drama to her story. This not only makes your appearance in her story more likely to be negative, dramatic stories tend to be told more often, and over a longer period of time.

Which leads to what may be the most important question: when she does business with your company, do you treat Miss Customer as the star she is?


Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover, and choose your business. Questions about Word-of-Mouth may be directed to

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New Ad Campaigns

The latest roundup from Amy:

Grow a "moneystache." Broken wings. Shadow puppets. Let's launch!

Fosters ad spotFoster's Beer launched an additional three TV spots last weekend from its revived "How to speak Australian" campaign. An Aussie's definition of "man purse" is a filthy bag the size of your torso used to carry heavy tools. See the ad here. A "metrosexual" is a man with a clean face and a shirt that's slightly cleaner than the one previously worn. Watch it here. "Social networking" does not take place on a computer. It happens face-to-face, albeit from a distance. Imagine that. See the ad here. Digitas Chicago created the ads.

U.S. CellularI love these ads from a TV watcher's standpoint. From a marketer's perspective, however, I have no idea how these ads will sell wireless plans. U.S. Cellular launched "Shadow Puppets" Aug. 14 and bows "Fish" Sept. 4. Both are part of its "Believe in Something Better" initiative that aims to humanize the wireless carrier. "Shadow Puppets" is a love story told at night on city buildings. Numerous buildings separate two love-struck puppet bunnies. Boy bunny, let's hope, traverses the city until he lands on the girl bunny's building. The two share a sweet kiss and then the voiceover is heard. "The world is full of things to share. That's why only U.S. Cellular has free incoming Calls, Text and Pix," says the ad. Mood ruined. Watch it here. A neighborhood becomes an underwater paradise as balloon jellyfish and dolphins roam the streets, a building reveals an octopus as a tenant and a car morphs into sea coral. See the ad here. Publicis & Hal Riney San Francisco created the campaign.

AION print adNCsoft launched a print and online campaign promoting the Sept. 22 release of massive multiplayer online game, Aion. Flight is used as a means of combat in this game, which helps explain two print ads. Bloodied white wings are affixed against a dark background, in one ad, shown here. An opposing ad shows severed black wings against an icy backdrop. See it here. "A journey uncharted. A hatred unresolved," says both ads. Two additional ads, seen here and here, feature a warrior flying over a battlefield of fallen soldiers and a black-winged woman standing around conquered enemies. Ads are running in PC Gamer, Maximum PC, Game Informer and Play. Ignited created the campaign with help from Meduzarts. Ignited also handled the media buy.

Toyota PriusToyota Prius is making the roadsides of California aesthetically pleasing with "Harmony Floralscapes," displays crafted from more than 20,000 live flowers. The first floralscape can be found along the Pasadena Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. A total of nine designs were created to support the launch of the 2010 Prius. The 30'x60' floralscapes are made of living seasonal flowers grown by local businesses in "Eco-crates" made from recycled plastic. See one here, created by Greenroad Media.

MonopolyThe Minnesota State Lottery launched a TV and outdoor campaign promoting its Mega MONOPOLY Scratch Game. The white handlebar mustache usually seen on Mr. Monopoly finds its way onto game players growing their moneystaches. The TV spot follows the banter between two co-workers. The female co-worker starts the ad sans mustache, but slowly grows a nice fluffy white moneystache. Watch it here. File this under clever bus shelter ad design. It's a red hotel game piece come to life. See it here. There's also mustache mirror clings in bars and restaurants, seen here. Colle+McVoy created the campaign.

BMW/MadMenBMW launched a TV, print and online campaign supporting its 2009 335d diesel sedan. One part of the campaign plays off the outdated views people have regarding diesel technology. So what better venue to plop a present-day diesel BMW in than the 1960s "Mad Men" era? BMW partnered with "Mad Men" and Vanity Fair to create a 5-page pictorial as part of the company's Advanced Diesel initiative. See the ad here, shot on the "Mad Men" set. Additional campaign elements tout BMW's EfficientDynamics platform to lower emissions while churning out sleek vehicles. See TV and print ads here, here and here. GSD&M Idea City created the campaign and Universal McCann handled the media buy.

PantenePantene Pro-V launched a TV and print campaign in Brazil for its new Deep Restoration line starring Gisele B√ľndchen. The ads resemble stateside Pantene ads; the only difference is these ads are in Portuguese. B√ľndchen sits on a comfy chair, touches her hair, flips it, then walks away and stares offscreen. See the ads here and here, created by Wing.

HPHP launched a print campaign and microsite called "Hit Print Intelligently." The business-to-business campaign cuts to the chase, telling businesses, "We'll cut your printing costs or we'll cut you a check." The print ad, seen here, ran in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Goodby Silverstein & Partners created the ad. The ad is reminiscent of a B2C campaign Kodak launched earlier this year called "Print and Prosper." The promotion described how consumers overpay for inkjet printer ink and challenged consumers to visit to calculate how much money they could save by switching to a Kodak inkjet printer. See a TV ad here. Deutsch New York created the campaign.

MSNBC iphone appRandom iPhone App of the week:, with help from Zumobi, launched an App that offers breaking news, videos and photos. The dial design resembles the NBC logo, with each topic, such as politics, business and health, assigned a different color. Users can keep track of Twitter feeds from NBC News and MSNBC Cable anchors and share articles. The App is free at the Apple App Store.

Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at

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It's HOW you say it

Some great examples from Art Sobczak:

Avoiding Self-Sabotage


Here's part of an email I received from a reader.

"Art, an email I received from a vendor, in response to
a question we asked about a policy issue, started out with,
'You're not going to like this, but ...'

"I continued reading, now feeling bitter. However, what
was said was really nothing more than what we already
knew and expected.

"I would love to see your take on something like this.
A piece on the things we do to sabotage ourselves
when all we were intending to do was soften the cold
hard reality."

OK. Good idea. Let's look at a few.

Pointing Out Negatives They
Probably Wouldn't Notice

I was talking to guy about some training for
his small business and mentioned I visited
his website. He immediately apologized for
some things (which he perceived as negatives)
on the site I hadn't even noticed. After he
mentioned them, I guess I did recall them, but
really didn't feel they were negatives at the time.

Some people obsess about things that no
one other than them would ever see. But, when
they're highlighted for us, then we tend to see them.
For example, red cars in the parking lot outside
your building. There. Now I bet that you'll look
for them.

And just think about anyone who has ever said,
"Do I look fat in this?"

It's All in the Positioning
I remember years ago when my kids were little,
my wife made the comment, "I'll let the kids know that
they have to stay at Grandma's house tonight since we're
going out."

Of course she didn't intend that to sound negative, but
sometimes we say things that can be interpreted
differently than we intend (to say the least!). Leaving
nothing to chance, I told her that I would tell them.

So, I put a different spin on it:

"Kids! Guess what? You GET to go spend the
night at Grandma's!"

"Yay!", they screamed.

Giving TMI (Too Much Info)
I've heard many-a-sales rep talk too much about
facts irrelevant to what the prospect/customer
cared about. The danger here is creating objections.

A sales rep handled an incoming call where the buyer
asked for information on a new calculator model he
was looking carry in his catalog since he had heard
good things about it. Understand now, that the inquirer
was interested in placing a large order right then and there
for an initial shipment. Things were progressing smoothly
until the rep added, "Now of course, these don't come
with the AC adapter."

The prospect immediately changed his tone and said,
"Hmmm, I didn't really expect them to, but now I'll
have to think about this a bit." Lost sale.

Here are a few others:

Instead of,
"I'm just calling today ...", try,

"I'm CALLING today ...".

Instead of,
"So you probably don't want to buy?", try,

"Shall we move forward with the delivery?"

Instead of,
"I imagine you're not looking for another vendor?", try,

"What plans do you have for a backup vendor in
case you need something and your present
source doesn't have what you need, when you need it?"

Instead of,
"Well, it is expensive, the price is ...", try,

"You're getting (benefit) and (benefit) and it's only..."

Instead of,
"I'll have to check on that for you.", try,

"I'll be happy to research that for you."

I have just scratched the surface here, and I'm sure
there are plenty that sound like fingernails across a
chalkboard. (I just realized that some people reading
this might not have ever seen a chalkboard.)

If you have sabotaged a call with a phrase or question,
or have a pet peeve, please share them with me and I'll
pass a few along to readers in a future issue.

Go and Have Your Best Week Ever!


"Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to
continue to fail in good spirits."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Night Marketing News

A little later than usual...

by Sarah Mahoney
"One of the advantages Sony has is that this product has a touchscreen, and Amazon's Kindle doesn't. And as is typical of Sony products, it has a high-quality, well-designed look," says Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester. "The Kindle looks like an oversized calculator, while this is a sleek device." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The effort includes a partnership with Good magazine, called "A Road Map to Harmony," featuring inserts of posters and online documentary video shorts looking at nine issues affecting the global population -- coexistence, health, education, connectivity, exchange, energy, earth, flora and fauna, and sustenance. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
The campaign, from The Martin Agency, focuses on what cardmembers get back from the Riverwoods, Ill.-based financial services company, both literally and emotionally. The ads are intended to portray the sense of optimism that many cardmembers seek -- the everyday things that make them happy, as well as Discover's cash rewards program. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Under the Cox agreement, will handle new and used online automobile classified listings on 73 of Cox's radio Web sites covering 18 markets nationwide.'s listings will be visible on multiple stations' Web sites in the same market, dramatically increasing exposure for those listings. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
Analysts' reactions were mixed, based on Burger King's declining to forecast earnings for the current fiscal year and acknowledgement that the consumer environment is likely to remain challenging for some time, as well as recently soft sales performance at competitors. ... Read the whole story > >

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Consumer Spending Review

Do your habits match your neighbors?
What Are People Buying Now? What we're buying -- and not buying -- says a lot about how consumers are feeling these days.

It also says a lot about the American economy, considering that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of all U.S. economic activity. Every time we go out to lunch, buy a new sweater or pick up a DVD, we're contributing to the retail sector, the biggest sector in the economy.

Last week, companies from Home Depot to Target to Saks reported results for their latest quarters. Some were strong, some were weak. All tell tales of the consumer: thrifty, staying close to home, and focusing on basics.

Here's a look at what people are and aren't buying.


What We're Buying: People are buying more garden products and paint, especially in areas with high foreclosure rates like California, according to Home Depot. CEO Frank Blake told investors that as homes are sold as part of the foreclosure process, that spurs sales of paint and carpet upgrades, since owners want to improve their new homes.

Lowe's reported that small projects were big winners in the second quarter -- only the paint and nursery categories were doing better than a year earlier. The company said consumers -- with an eye toward boosting the appearance of their homes -- bought a lot of mulches, seed, and patio blocks.

There was also solid demand in faucet repair and for repair parts for outdoor power equipment. Tiller sales were also strong as consumers planted more gardens.

What We're Not: Home Depot said consumers continued to limit their purchases of bigger items like appliances.

Purchases above $500 fell 16 percent compared to last year for Lowe's, which also noted last year's second quarter included the effects of a federal stimulus package that gave most consumers about $600, prompting sales of big-ticket items.

Sears said its decline in its home business, including appliances, continues to be affected by the state of the housing market.

Target said people limited their purchases of decorative home and garden items, with patio furniture a standout weakness. Target noted it had planned very conservatively for that category this year.

Conclusions: Consumers are staying close to home and they want it to look nice. But they're not committing to big purchases like patio furniture to spruce up their home.

They're tackling more projects themselves, especially smaller ones, and opting to fix a faucet themselves rather than call a plumber. They're also planting gardens, perhaps with an eye toward trimming their food budgets. And forget new appliances -- they're making do with what they have.


What We're Buying: Target says the items people feel they need the most, like products related to health care, food and beauty, are doing the best. The beauty category benefited from people making those purchases at Target rather than in more expensive department stores.

More people were shopping at stores run by TJX Cos., like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. Sales of basics like sheets and towels and clothing were all strong.

Fashionable denim is doing well at Saks Inc. stores, the high-level retailer said, noting that the trendiest brands do the best.

What We're Not: Clothes and home goods were weak in Target's second quarter, and Kathy Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising, summed up the consumer mindset in one word: "cautious." The number of people coming into the stores has slowed, and people who made purchases spent less money. Frequent shoppers aren't coming in as often and they're cutting their weekend trips even more than their weekday trips.

TJX is seeing more people come into its stores but they're not spending as much, on average.

Limited Brands Inc., which operates Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works, said sales of fine fragrances and bras and panties were weak in the quarter. It noted its spring color palette was "muted and serious" and trends improved when it introduced bright colors in July.

Overall sales at Saks continued to slump as fewer people came into the stores. The company's less expensive Off 5th stores continued to outperform Saks' full-price locations.

Conclusions: Shoppers are still tightfisted and cautious. They're looking for bargains -- which is why traffic is up at stores like T.J. Maxx. But they're not yet ready to resume shopping at pre-recession levels -- which is why spending is still down. They're still shopping with an eye toward fashion, though, and want to keep up with trends.


What We're Buying: Spam, Spam, Spam. Hormel said sales of its meat-in-a-can continued to rise in the quarter, gaining in the low double digits, while sales of other canned items and Hormel chili kept improving. Hormel's party trays, which sell for about $10, continued to be strong, as they have been throughout the recession.

BJ's Wholesale Club, which has been seeing more customers coming in, said sales of cereal, meat and household items made gains in its second quarter.

Heinz reported infant food and ketchup sales were strong.

What We're Not: Hormel said customers bought fewer of its more expensive items, like microwavable meals, while its food service division, which serves businesses like restaurants and hotels, continued to slump.

Sales of Weight Watchers Smart Ones entrees fell in the quarter, too, Heinz reported. It noted the frozen food category is tied to consumer confidence and has been down for a year.

Heinz and Hormel said they were still competing with store brands and other generic products, which cost less than branded ones. Heinz said the trend was lessening, though, and there are signs that consumers still want brands.

Conclusions: Food prices may be dropping as lower ingredient costs fall for manufacturers, but they're still not low enough for consumers, who are shopping with savings in mind. They keep dropping down to store brands and they're still willing to sacrifice convenient items like frozen foods to pad their food budgets.

But that doesn't mean they're being entirely thrifty. Consumers will pay for things they perceive have value, and that includes name brands.

As Hormel CEO Jeffrey Ettinger told analysts last Thursday, "Value is in the eye of the beholder."

(Source: Associated Press, 08/21/09)

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Advertising in 2009

This piece appeared in my local newspaper this week, originally in the Washington Post 10 days ago:

Skip Past the Ads, But You're Still Being Sold

By James P. Othmer
Sunday, August 16, 2009

In the 1960s Madison Avenue era, painstakingly re-created in the cult hit television show "Mad Men," which returns Sunday for its third season, advertisers could buy a fixed block of airtime on television and be guaranteed a captive audience. That's what Winston cigarettes did for the inaugural season of "The Flintstones" in 1960; cartoon-loving prospective smokers tuned in to see Fred and Barney gleefully puffing away, shilling the product.

But now if we don't like an ad, we can zap, TiVo and DVR it into consumer oblivion. If it truly offends -- say we discover it is fake or untruthful -- we can trash the brand on our blogs or write nasty comments under the spot on YouTube.

On the other hand, if we're entertained enough by something a brand does, we can do its job for it -- by becoming its social media champion. That's what millions of people do every day. They "elf" themselves for OfficeMax each holiday season, spreading the word about discount paper products while having online fun in Santa's workshop. They forward Cadbury's "gorilla playing drums" video to anyone who likes to see a primate jam. A few years ago, they had their way with a man in a chicken suit with Burger King's "subservient chicken," which had 25 million visitors during its first 48 hours online.

And in the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands -- including seemingly every ad person I know -- have been playing along with AMC's ramp-up for Sunday's premiere, joining a "Mad Men Casting Call" and flocking to the meta social-media promotion "Mad Men Yourself," which lets people swap their Facebook profile pics for hip "Mad Men" avatars.

Ads in the "Mad Men" day were about the art of persuasion. Advertising today is about the art of engagement.

Nowhere was this more apparent to me than at the epicenter of advertising yet-to-come, the Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. During a two-day visit there I never saw a single idea in the medium that had been advertising's delivery system of choice since the days of, well, Don Draper: the 30-second network television commercial.

Instead, I saw discreetly branded viral video shorts, graphic novels and performance art. I saw Facebook and Twitter campaigns for mega-brands, and real-world scavenger hunts and online interaction with fictional characters. It didn't seem like the industry in which I'd worked for more than 20 years. When I left advertising in 2005, every major campaign still revolved around the almighty TV spot.

And this isn't happening only at VCU. For two years I visited many of the most progressive idea factories for the $670 billion-a-year global industry. Everything revolved around viral, immersive, "360 degree" advertising, with nary a martini or a TV spot in sight.

On the surface this seems pretty good, this two-way digital transparency model that seemingly makes it incumbent upon advertisers to step up the truthfulness and entertainment value of their messages. Indeed, many smarter agency-guided brands already get this and have thrived because of it. At the very least, it's much less harmful than the loosely regulated, sex-in-the-ice-cubes booze and cigarette ads churned out by the chain-smoking, sublime persuaders of the 1950s and '60s, right?

Not quite. Because while we now have the ability to assert more control over advertising, we're unwillingly being bombarded by more messages than ever, infiltrating our lives in new and increasingly insidious ways.

The market research firm Yankelovich estimates that the average American living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, estimates range from 5,000 to 20,000 ad impressions a day. To hone in on a more accurate number, one would have to determine what exactly constitutes an ad in today's ambiguous media environment. Print, radio, TV and online pop-up and banner ads are easy to tally. But what about Internet search results, recommendations on Amazon, subtle product placements in film, music and TV, and, of course, spam?

Then there's the blogosphere, where an entire cottage industry blurs the line between content and advertising, truth and spin.

This month, it was revealed that pharmaceutical companies had hired ghostwriters with no medical training to produce and disseminate "research papers" for online public consumption. Before the drug companies were the mommy bloggers -- parents writing about their children, and their children's favorite products, online. That scandal exposed an ethically tenuous relationship in which bloggers received corporate swag, and in some instances vacation junkets, in exchange for favorable, seemingly honest reviews and "content" mentions. And the brands are not shy about it. Jill Beraud, a marketing officer at PepsiCo, is on record saying that courting the mommy bloggers is a long-term effort.

The Federal Trade Commission has responded by proposing that all bloggers and the corporations that sponsor them be held accountable for the validity of the claims they make. The agency is updating its guidelines on endorsements and testimonials for first time since 1980. Good luck with that. And by that I mean assigning a task force to tackle First Amendment issues and police the entire digital universe to see if someone's passionate Huggies recommendation on is on the up and up.

Meanwhile, members of Congress alarmed by the creeping ubiquity of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing (the United States and New Zealand are the only developed nations to permit such ads) have taken steps to rein in the people who bombard us with ads that are often accompanied by 30 seconds of legal copy about side effects including death and blindness.

In 50 years we've gone from loosely regulated advertising based on the art of persuasion, to more regulated, perfectly legal and often spectacular ads based on the art of engagement, to anything goes.

As a result, it is increasingly difficult to determine what is authentic. It is impossible to tell if a cool video clip is just that or an ad for a car, sneaker or cellphone. Is that really an environmentally responsible vehicle, or is the message pure greenwash? Is that really an unaffiliated "concerned citizen" stepping up to speak at a town hall meeting with Rockwellian authenticity, or a paid party hack who heeded the call of a social media networking blitz?

I recently spoke about all of this with a former colleague and current advertising creative director. "Eventually," he said, "the Internet always reveals the truth." The question is, when the messages come at us at the speed of light, many thousands of times a day, can it or anyone reveal it fast enough?

At its core, advertising is a tension between art, commerce and ethics. With time, consumers, brands and the law make adjustments and the balances shift. Which brings us back to 1962, and Don Draper. Would his contemporary self approve of mommy bloggers and pharma spam? Or would the man who in one episode frowned with disapproval at Doyle Dane Bernbach's revolutionary "Think Small" print ad for Volkswagen evolve and become a proponent of ethical, engaging ads?

For an answer, cue the DVR to Season One, Episode Six -- skip the ads -- when a beatnik says to Draper: "You work in advertising. . . . How do you sleep at night?"

The Mad Man's response: "On a bed made of money."

James P. Othmer is a former advertising executive and the author of the forthcoming book "Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet."

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