Wednesday, July 25, 2007

McDonalds YouTube ad

Interesting article in today's Boston Globe about how McDonalds turned a YouTube video into an ad that they are running on local TV stations in New York. The ad was created by Arnold. It's yet another example of consumer generated content making it to mainstream channels. Bravo to McDonalds for being willing to let go of their brand like this. And to Arnold for realizing that a good idea can come from anywhere.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mad Men on AMC

Watched the 1st episode of the AMC series Mad Men last night (via Tivo of course). If you haven't heard, Mad Men is a an AMC original series about Advertising Execs in the 1950's. I actually thought it was pretty good. I'll be back for Episode #2.

For those in the business, we've all heard stories about the "old days" of advertising. This certainly qualifies. The whole plot centered around the Account Executive main character having to develop an ad campaign for a cigarette company. Which is very ironic since I just blogged last week about ethics in advertising in general and cigarette advertising in particular. So it's been on my mind.

My main take-away is: holy sexism! The women are all secretaries and are there for their bosses every need. Yes, EVERY need. There are some interesting portrails of client meetings. For those in the agency business, it's surreal. Picture a producer taking your life and recreating what it would have been like 50 years ago.

The funny part about it that I watched it via Tivo. Let's see, since I watched it 2 days after its' original airing, I guess I'd count in the Live +3 ratings currency that seems to be acceptable these days. Of course, I fast-forwarded thru all the ads. But AMC did something interesting. Between every commercial, the put in a 3-5 second interstitial on a blank white screen with red lettering containing a fact about advertising. Very clever. It took me a couple of commercial breaks worth of watching fast forwarded ads fly by before realizing that something was going on. Good job of knowing your audience AMC. You made me stop and actually watch an entire pod. Once. Then I went back to fast-forwarding. But good job none-the-less.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog Pimping - The GSK / alli Connect / Debbie Weil kerfuffle

Debbie Weil is a self described corporate blogging expert who caused a bit of a kerfuffle last week. Debbie has been hired by GlaxoSmithKline to promote the corporate blog for their weight-loss drug alli. The kerfuffle started because Debbie sent an email to colleagues asking them to leave comments on the blog in order to "jump start the two way conversation". The felony in all of this came in the second to last sentence which read "No need to say that you know me, of course."

This raises the question of blog pimping. Is it okay for Debbie to try and drum up traffic and comments on her clients' blog? If it is okay, why did Debbie give the appearance that she was doing something wrong by including that damning sentence? In a podcast interview, Debbie bobbed and weaved like Muhammed Ali (alli?). Given this performance, it's possible that she has a future in politics.

For me, it illustrates the pressure that media and marketing professionals are under to succeed. It takes a lot of work to convince large, old media oriented companies to try new media. When you finally break that barrier, an unsuccessful campaign can leave a bad taste in the clients mouth toward new media in general. Not to mention the fact that Debbie needs this to be successful in order to promote her own brand and company. Sometimes pressure causes people to make questionable decisions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Advertising: Manipulative or Informative?

Let me start by saying that Advertising has been very good to me. It's put food on my table since 1993. But every once in a while something happens that makes me question the ethics of the business. The first time it happened was back in 1995 when a good friend of mine worked as a media planner on the Phillip Morris business. I watched her struggle with the ethics of her job for nine months before finally quitting. (P.S. She smoked like a chimney at the time and has since quit and has been "clean" for 10 years).

I had another one of those moments last weekend. My four year old has been watching his fair share of Nickelodeon lately (keep your parental judgements to yourself - Dad's been busy!). So last weekend, we're hanging in the back yard taking a break from a game of frisbee and he's having a snack when the following exchange occurred:

Me: How are you enjoying those Cheetos?
Him: Dad, they're Dangerously Cheesy!

I almost fell off my chair. Are you kidding me? Dangerously Cheesy? I've got to say, I laughed out loud. But it made me stop for a moment and think about the effect of advertising on young kids. Kids at that age have no BS filter. They can't distinguish between entertaining programming content and entertaining advertising. It's all the same to them. And because of that lack of a filter, advertising is very effective.

To complete the circle, it turns out that Mrs. MediaGeek made the mistake of taking the little guy with her to the grocery store for the weekly food shopping run. They came home with at least 5 things that I've never seen before including something called Yogos (yogurty covered fruit snacks!)

To see the whole advertising process in action in my very own household, which I though was impervious to such tactics, was very strange.

At it's worst, advertising can be viewed as manipulative. The poor little kid didn't stand a chance! At it's best, the advertising helped him discover the joy of Cheetos. I imagine that's how the client or agency would describe it. One thing is for sure, Advertising works.

But until I come to grips with this, he's watching nothing but PBS.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

iPhone Envy

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 2 weeks and haven’t heard, Apple released the iPhone on Friday June 29th. People camped in front of stores to be among the first to buy the device dubbed the “Jesus Phone”. At the MacWorld conference, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone as a revolutionary product (he did this while wearing jeans, sneakers, and a shirt with no collar, but that’s an article for another day). The iPhone gets us one step closer to convergence, to one device nirvana. For those of you who juggle an iPod, cell phone, blackberry, and laptop, your load just got a lot lighter.

But this is a marketing/media blog, not my own personal wish list (although judging by the amount of candy I received after the TV & Candy post, I may need to rethink that). How did the geniuses at Apple and their agency create so much buzz and anticipation that people actually slept overnight to buy their new product? In my estimation, it has 75% to-do with it being a kick#ss product. The thing rocks. But the other 25% is marketing brilliance. Apple’s TV spots do a great job at illustrating that the product is easy to use and they do it in that oh-so-Apple way. Check out one of the teaser ads here:

In addition to Apple’s TV ads, their PR machine was in full blitz mode as well. The number of articles written about the iPhone in the mainstream press and blogosphere is off the charts. There are more youtube videos about this thing than you can shake a (memory) stick at. How much of this is paid advertising? How much of it is buzz marketing? How much of it is organic WOM?

I guess the point is that it’s easy to market a great product. The iPhone might have sold out even if the ad campaign was terrible. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a chance to work on something like this at some point in your career. The job is a lot tougher when the product doesn’t sell itself. That is when clients need us most.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bring The Love Back

Brilliant video commentary on the relationship many of today's marketers have with consumers. Wonder why many campaigns fail?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Separated at Birth?

Steve Jobs of Apple and Elliot Tatelman of Jordan's Furniture

Their physical resemblance is what struck me initially, but the more I thought about it, they have much more in common. Both are excellent marketers. Jobs nationally, Tatelman locally. Jobs in technology, Tatelman in retail. Jobs uses new media, Tatleman uses old media. Are there lessons they can learn from each other? How does Tatelman put new media to use in a local, retail operation? Is there any benefit to Jobs in Tatelman's local community approach?

Friday, July 6, 2007

TV & Candy

The broadcast upfront wrapped up last month. Overall, the Networks take increased compared to the prior year. A couple of the themes this year were accountability (i.e. comercial ratings) and getting/giving credit for DVR playback. The result of this year's marketplace is frustrating and doesn't seem to make much sense. What if these same principle's applied in other parts of life? Que the dream sequence ...

I like Sweetarts. My favorite is the big 6 oz concession sized box. There’s nothing quite as sweet (pun intended) as relaxing after work, watching the ballgame and popping some sweetarts out of the big box. It’s what I like to do.

Many people have told me that there are several other candy manufacturers who are coming out with exciting new treats. The offerings are endless. Some of these new treats can tell me exactly how much of a sugar high I’ll get, how long it will last, and what type of crash will follow. They are very measurable. These new treats are stealing away many former Sweetart loyalists. But so far I’ve stayed the course. I love my Sweetarts.

My normal 6oz concession sized box cost $1.99. Recently, I went to Target to pick up my weekly supply and I noticed that the price was $2.49 per box. I asked the smiling, friendly-looking Target employee in the red shirt what was up with the 25% price increase. He was unapologetic and told me that if I had committed to buying the box several months earlier, he could have sold it to me for $1.99, but there is simply not that much candy left, so they raised the price. Imagine that.

He went on to tell me that in the coming year, the Candy Research Association is changing the way they measure the amount of Sweetarts in a box. As a result, the size of the package had been reduced to 5 ounces. But the cost is still $2.49. I couldn’t believe it. I asked him if I misunderstood. I need to pay 25% more and get 15% less? Yes, it’s true, he explained.

So here I am standing in the candy aisle at Target when I had a realization: I’ve been a loyal customer for many years, yet Sweetarts is charging me more and giving me less at a time when I have more options than ever before. Should I continue to hand over more and more money to satisfy my craving for Sweetarts? Or is it time to consider Mike and Ike’s?