"Corporate social responsibility is a sham."

"Corporate social responsibility is a sham. True social responsibility comes from individual consumers. "- Inspired by James Gilmore & Joseph Pine, authors of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want

From FastCompany.com

T-Mobile Wants Engadget to Drop Its Colors


From AdRants:

"In yet another display of corporate legal idiocy, T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom sent a letter to Weblogs, Inc.'s Engadget Mobile asking them to stop using the color magenta in their logo. The letter states T-Mobile uses the color magenta in its logo and, as a result, people might somehow become confused as to what T-Mobile does and what Engadget Mobile does."

And in perfect new media form, Engadget responded in kind by outlining, in a side-by-side chart, the idiocy of the whole thing on its blog...you know, the one with a 665 Alexa rank and millions of page views every day.

Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile aren't the only ones taking themselves too seriously and discounting the intelligence of their consumers. Check out Lacoste, who recently sued a UK dentist for logo infringement...a dentist! (See When brand policing runs amock - Lacoste loses court case against dental practice)

Heads up from AdRants, graphic from Engadget

AdAge Concludes that Marketers Must Learn Digital Marketing

AdAge ran an article called People, Process and Organization Must Evolve Now by Richard Rawlinson and Christopher Vollmer of Booz Allen Hamilton. Its a painful read, but AdRants makes it not only bearable, but funny. Funny because it couldn't be more spot-on. I couldn't have said this better myself, AdRants should be on everyone's must-read list is you're looking for the straight skinny on today's advertising. If you read that AdAge article and are shaking your head up and down, saying "man, these guys in ties really know what's going on..." just pack it in.

Read the article by Steve Hall

Age of Conversation - Groundbreaking book launches on Amazon

The Age of Conversation is a compilation of 400-word essays on the topic of "conversation," by the world's leading marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators.

In today's business world, it seems to me that not only is this a sign of how many books will be developed in the future, but its also a must-read for anyone looking for insight into how to better engage their customers.

From Diva Marketing Blog (a contributor to the book):
"From the view point of a reader, the breadth of global insights about the emerging industry - social media marketing (yes, social media marketing is an industry!) - are fascinating and bring home that all over the world social media is not only impacting a change in marketing but in how we will/are beginning to conduct business .. which makes this book an important read for every business person who wants to understand why the future is Now and why there is no turning back."
Check out The Age of Conversation

From Diva Marketing Blog


Nicely played, Netflix

"To appease customers whose service was disrupted by a Monday system glitch, Netflix sent out slews of apology emails and offered affected customers a 5% discount -- to be automatically applied to their next billing cycles. Because the Netflix apology was quick, thorough, and sincere, most customers didn't even have a chance to get angry. In the face of a potential PR disaster, Netflix came out swinging with the kind of amazing customer service that makes Netflix's customers instant fans."

From WOMMA Word

Batman: The Dark Knight continues its viral ways

We covered the viral "Harvey Dent" campaign that the new Batman movie is using at the beginning of the month. Twenty-one days later, the LA times gets in on the game (read article here) and goes into more detail regarding the various viral ways they are hoping to hook movie-goers.

Check out Dark Knight stuff here.

Nearly 73% of respondents sometimes or always use blogs in their research

So reports Henry Blodgett in his Silicon Alley Insider post today. He is quoting from the 2008 PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey which surveyed 1,231 journalists. Learn more about the findings here.

Couple that with the fact that social sites are spurring the spread of political content and you have yourself a scenario that is screaming for an online buzz monitoring tool for the 2008 presidential campaign - Wonkosphere.
"According to MSNBC, recent research about young voters found that they tend to be not just consumers of news and current events, but conduits as well -- sending information and links out to their social networks. They also rely heavily on friends and other social network connections as news sources. In essence, they are replacing the professional filter -- traditional news media -- with a social one."
From Silicon Valley Insider and WOMMA Word


Most consumers don't accurately comprehend the term "spam"

Check out these interesting, but oddly disheartening, stats from a recent Q Interactive survey on email and spam. Since when does "not interesting" mean "spam." Sort of scary.
  • Over half of survey participants — 56 percent — consider marketing messages from known senders to be spam if the message is "just not interesting to me."
  • 50 percent of respondents consider "too frequent emails from companies I know" to be spam.
  • 31 percent cite "emails that were once useful but aren't relevant anymore."
Read the rest of the post at MarketingVOX.

Spot Runner Launches Political Site, Stock Footage Still Iffy

MarketingVox just reported that Spot Runner has launched a site designed for political candidates - chock full of spots on education and taxes. It'll probably do well given the amount projected to be spent on political ads this year. However, MV posited that "It may also prove attractive to candidates that are gun-shy about TV advertising, following embarrassing news about the use of stock imagery in a recent Hillary Clinton ad. But that doesn't make sense. How does using Spot Runner's stock footage remove the fear of using stock footage (which is ultimately why Clinton's spot ran into trouble)?

The reality is, stock footage is typically a craps shoot. Either you don't know who else has used the footage, or you pay exorbitant prices for royalties. But there is a new site called Element Tank, which provides art-directed, royalty free, HD footage - so there is hope.


Zappos Advertises at Airport Security

Brilliant ploy in my opinion, by Zappos. Relevant, brand-building advertising to all the folks in the airport who have to take off their shoes. Read more at Diva Marketing Blog.


Powerlines, the latest buzzword - this time for great copywriting

Powerlines: Words That Sell Brands, Grip Fans, and Sometimes Change History - A book that surveys the propaganda in our lives. What's a "Powerline"? Think Coke's "The pause that refreshes" and "We can do it!" featuring Rosie the Riveter. From AdRants:

People exposed to an ad will probably pass judgment on it based on the visual and the most visible print. (Typically that's the tagline.) Ad-heads spend plenty of time on pictures, but few consider what impact a resonant string of words can deliver.

A powerline is different from a slogan or tagline. In a way, it's what these things aspire to become. Like viral video, a powerline can't be identified at outset; it earns this title after demonstrating its potency.

FOX Business uses competition's flubs in ads

We would expect nothing less than nimble, aggressive and cut-throat marketing from FOX, or in this case the new FOX Business channel. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, quote CNBC's (FOX Business' chief rival) Jim Kramer as saying, "No. No. No. Bear Stearns is Fine... Bear Stearns is not in trouble... Don't move your money from there. That's just being silly. Don't be silly." FOX jumps on it as fast as Eliot Spitzer at a call girl convention, with the ad shown above.

It is worth noting, however, that Henry Blodget of Silicon Valley Insiders notes that Cramer isn't totally wrong if you listen carefully. "Cramer never mentions shares of Bear Stearns, and was referring to money held at Bear Stearns, about which he's been proven right, not wrong."

But in the world of marketing, and the knife-fight that is cable television, perception is reality.

From Silicon Alley Insider


Is your company a vitamin or a pain killer?

"Is your product a Vitamin (nice to have) or a pain killer (got to have it)?"

Great question, from a great blog post by Don Dodge on his blog.

"Many products fall into the vitamin category. Things like productivity tools, content aggregators, mashups, utilities, collaboration applications, measurement and monitoring tools, in fact anything that is a tool, development or otherwise, is by definition a vitamin.

Pain killer products are products that solve for a specific pain point. Sometimes the pain is measurable in terms of ROI, winning sales that could not be won before, or satisfying a regulatory requirement."


"Think real hard, right now. Make a list of the pain points your product solves. Make a list of trigger events that cause the pain to happen. Now think about how to identify these "trigger events" as they happen among the hundreds or thousands of potential customers. Get this right and your sales productivity will sky rocket. Get it wrong and your sales people will end up "dialing for dollars" and wondering why they are not being successful."

From Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing via Anil Jayne @ Endeavor Innovation Partners

Does Walgreen's Matter?

Talk about a devastating question for a brand when the answer is "no." It is a question we should all be asking.
Does Walgreens provide such a unique product and customer experience that we would be saddened if it didn’t exist? Does Walgreens treat its employees so astonishingly well that those workers would not be able to find another employer to treat them as well? Does Walgreens forge such unfailing emotional connections with its customers that they would fail to find another retailer that could forge just as strong an emotional bond?
Image and story from Brand Autopsy

Dilbert cartoon gets guy fired

Talk about taking things too seriously...read this from this week's Business Week.


Google's 2D Barcode Program Getting Traction

We told you a little bit ago about Google's 2d barcode plans. Well, looks like they're getting a little traction (as if we ever doubted it). The program lets advertisers put the 2d barcode next to print ads. People who see the ad take a picture of the barcode with their mobile devices and view promotions right then and there. The companies testing it out: Blue Nile, eHealth and Cruise.com. Read more at Marketing VOX.

Railroads go customer-centric to reinvent themselves

Originally hailing from a once-prominent railroad town that was and is suffering from Marketing Myopia (the Theodore Levitt classic; hypermediate covered this idea way back in 2004), I was glad to see that railroads are realizing they can still compete on service and being customer centric. Traveling by train is like nothing else, an experience that still has legs in the marketplace. Read the whole story at strategy + business.

Subscibe to strategy+business

Illustration by Daniel Pelavin

Crazy Ad for Bicycle Safety

via Team Forty


How many record execs does it take to screw in a light bulb?

“First of all, before we change anything, is the light bulb really burned out? Maybe we just need to breathe some life into it; repackage it, maybe the light bulb could do a duet with somebody (Sheryl Crow? Tim McGraw?) in hopes of getting some crossover appeal, maybe it could be in a beer commercial, maybe we could get it out on the road with a brighter light bulb. The other thing to think about is that this summer, Honda is rolling out a 100 Million dollar campaign for a new car aimed at thirty-somethings who consider themselves adventurous/spontaneous but can't really afford something like a luxury S.U.V. and it might be a perfect campaign to tie this light bulb into, at least it would be the perfect demographic, in terms of age.

Also, and this is just an idea: what if we found out what video games are being released in the third quarter and maybe pitched the idea of having our light bulb make an appearance in the video game at some certain level of completion; like, you get to a dark cave, let's say, if it's an adventure game, and if you have enough points you can get the light bulb - and it would be our light bulb, obviously - and then it's easier to see in the cave. The other thing is this: worst-case scenario the light bulb is, in fact, burned out. Is that really the end of the world? I mean, maybe that's actually of more value to us in the long run: Picture this for voice over: "The light bulb is dead. . . but the legend lives on. . . re-released, re-mastered, revealed. . . the light bulb. . . IN STORES NOW." It almost makes more sense than taking the time changing it, plus, if it's dead we can sell it without dealing with it, you know what I mean? No demands from it, no hotels, no road expense, no delays in the project from its end, etc.

But, like I said, I'm just thinking off the top of my head here, just brainstorming, and none of this is written in stone. But the first thing we should do is figure out how we want to handle this, because the light bulb's manager is a total nightmare and we're going to have to take a meeting and listen to him sooner or later, and we should know what our plan is before we sit down with him. And let me tell you right now that the first thing out of his mouth is going to be, "This light bulb should be the brightest light bulb in the world, and it could be the brightest light bulb in the world, but you need to support the light bulb, you need to give the light bulb TV ads, you need to be more active in giving the light bulb tour support, we need to have some promotion from your end!" and on and on. And in that meeting, if you're in it, the only answer from our side should be that we're obviously very excited to be working with the light bulb, that we don't think it needs to be changed, that the only problem is people haven't seen how bright the light bulb could be, and our plan is to do everything we can to make this light bulb happen.

I'll send out an email to everyone before the meeting to remind people of our position on this, but the bottom line is we don't have the budgets right now, and basically we need to see something happening with the light bulb before we go throwing good money after bad, but obviously we can't have the light bulb's manager hearing that. I can tell you all that I'm personally very excited to be working with the light bulb, I think it will light up very brightly, and we're not going to stop working the light bulb, in whatever ways budgets will permit, until it does, in fact, light up very brightly. . . the light bulb is a very big priority for us from the top of the company to the bottom. Period. We can talk more about this when I am back from Barbados next week, and I'm going to need everybody's help on this. I know we can do it, but we need everybody working hard.”

From Dan Kennedy's new book: Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

Thanks to our friends at Ubiquity Public Relations for sending this along.

Modernista takes a bold step, fully embraces social media

Boston agency, Modernista, fully embraced social media. They did away with their website, and instead utilized a small nav bar which they attach to wikipedia, Google, Flickr and the like to show off their goods. Kudos. These guys have been pushing the envelope since they started, and I think they have done it again this time, in a very relevant way.

Read the full write-up at AdRants.

Check out the Modernista site here.

Small Businesses Leverage the Blogging World

Check out some small businesses leveraging the power of blogs in today’s WSJ, such as Bean Bag chair maker Sumo Lounge International. They worked with tech blog powerhouse Engadget to successfully get exposure for their products directly in front of the right audience. "2 years after the initial deal with Engadget, Sumo Lounge has been reviewed by 250 bloggers and has tripled profits."

From WOMMA Word via MarketingEnvironmentalism

Ten Things Every Marketer Should Know About Wikipedia

Pete on ConsumerGeneratedMedia.com provides a list ten things to take heed of when thinking about Wikipedia. Here's the list, a tease I know, click here for the whole article.
  • Participation
  • Shelf positioning
  • Transparency
  • Counter-advertising
  • Inquiry
  • Globalization
  • The self-promotion reality check
  • Unlimited, free legal review
  • Fast turnaround
  • Trial and error

From WOMMA Word via Pete on ConsumerGeneratedMedia.com


Fast Company showing a lack of creativity

The April issue of Fast Company shows a nice image of Barack Obama, which makes sense since the feature story is about the presidential candidate. Why do I think the mag is showing a lack of creativity? Two reasons. One, they had basically the same cover in their July/August issue. Again with a democrat heavyweight, Al Gore. Black and white photo, white space background, red and black headline. Two, the headline reads, "The Brand Called Obama." Enough with the "Brand Called You" thing already, they've been milking this for nearly a decade. We still love you though, Fast Company, don't worry.

Check out Fast Company here.

Thank you Springwise, who alerted us to 5starbaby.com, which offers personalized birth announcements fashioned after movie advertisement posters. Not the cheapest announcements ever at USD 2.50 but what a great, unique way to announce the birth of your baby.

From Springwise

Century 21 Creates First Real Estate YouTube Channel

The gold blazer people have launched a dedicated channel on YouTube -- the first such channel by a real estate company.

Companies Court Blogs to Hit Niches

This is why smaller, more nimble consumer companies have a massive opportunity to cut into the market place against big companies. This AP article talks about how convenience food makers are courting bloggers (such as HeatEatReview.com), saying that using bloggers to promote products allows marketers to cherry-pick more niche audiences to spurn WOM for more obscure products. This is not new news, consumer blogs have been out there for years, making a significant impact on retail sales of niche products. Just look at SingleServeCoffee.com, CandySnob.com, GPSLodge and CheapFunWines.com - just a handful of blogs from BlogPire Productions, who does nothing but focus on niche product categories.

From AP via WOMMA


Getting a handle on social media

Solid post yesterday on AdAge by Beth Snyder Bulik. Correctly realizing that many companies are still stymied by social media and how to use it as a marketing tool, she answers some important questions that may be vexing a lot of folks. Here's the Cliff Notes version:
  1. Quit talking about whether blogging is a fad - blogs are here to stay so get on board.
  2. Before you launch your blog because everyone says you need one, do your research and make sure you have the blog staffed properly to make sure the right stuff is being posted regularly and the blog is being actively managed.
  3. Don't try to game the system because you're scared of what people might say. "Nothing always works, and blogs have seen their share of disasters."
  4. Don't do a fake blog (flog) like Wal-Mart, Coke, McDonald's and Sony did, they all turn out badly.
  5. Learn what SMO stands for (hint: social-media optimization).
  6. Embrace the groundswell of customer insight, and use it in a way that makes sense for your company - research, awareness, promotion, sales, improving customer support, product development, etc.
  7. Come to terms with the fact that social media is not yet a great ad network and may not end up being a great long-term traffic generator or brand builder. But that doesn't mean you don't get involved in the right way now anyway.
There's also an interesting case study for the article - read the whole thing here.

From AdAge via The WOMMA Word
Image from liberatemedia.com


Product Naming Sparks International Crisis

Well, maybe not a crisis, but it certainly has Denmark's knickers in a bunch. They claim that Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA names its rugs and doormats after Danish locales - saying it in effect says to the world "Denmark is the doormat of Sweden." IKEA says its just coincidence.

From BusinessWeek

Subscribe to BusinessWeek

Naming rights for Dubai Metro

I guess the folks at Dubaimetro didn't pay attention to the naming debacles during the Internet boom, where start-ups instantly had enough money to buy the rights to sporting venues, only to have to sell them off once the market tanked. Then again, Dubai doesn't really fit the mold of any other situation, so more power to them. This print ad (pg. 14 of this week's BusinessWeek), caught my eye. Even more than the idea of advertising the naming rights themselves, check out the bottom left corner...the process is being handled by IMG, the super agents of celebrities and professional athletes. Building's as celebrities...hmmm.....


More Entrepreneurs Make Hay with Spitzer

Like Virgin Mobile's print ad, everyone's getting in on the Spitzer situation. Check out the Spitzer "No. 9" t-shirt from ShirtADay.com. The company, besides having funny and unique t-shirts, has an interesting model, not unlike woot, where they focus on a specific design every day. And even more cool, they have a progressive discount that builds based on the volume of shirts sold during the day.

From AdRants


Book Recommendation: The New Rules of Marketing


A few very smart people recommended this book to me last night, so its time I checked it out, you should too. I had no idea there was a rule book to new marketing, but apparently there is and its really good!

Check out The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

Direct mail meets targeted product trial

Its about time direct mail got a shake up. Check out Matter, who is taking an unconventional approach, sending out boxes of "interesting stuff"

"London-based Matter works with product manufacturers to compile collections of items carefully designed to please specific audiences, and it sends them out to consumers at no charge. Each participating company creates and contributes an item—something that explains what the company does, says something about its ideas or values, or can be tried out."
Check out Matter

from Springwise

Why Starbucks Closed its Doors for a Day

Up until last night, I thought I knew why Starbucks closed its doors back on Feb 25, 2008 - they were stopping to re-educate their baristas. Publicizing it as they did, it thought it was a pretty clever PR effort, sending the message that they are refocusing their efforts while training at the same time.

Interestingly enough, MarketingVOX posted today, based on some new market research, that not many actual consumers received the message that Starbucks was doing it to improve the customer experience. It seems that Starbucks' competition pounced on this - Dunkin' Donuts offered a $.99 latte, and Biggby Coffee and Coffee Klatch gave drinks away.

But as I mentioned, there is more to this story than simply whether consumers got the message. Back on Feb 21, Starbucks laid off 220 employees, another nugget of info that I don't think too many people knew (including me admittedly). I was moderating a panel for TiE-Arizona last night and one of the panelists (Sam from David & Sam PR) mentioned how Starbucks did the closing not only to train, but to make the most of the layoffs situation - staying in front of the story, showing that they're making good moves, and also to motivate the remaining employees. Again, pretty smart if you ask me.


Virgin Mobile moves deftly and brilliantly with Spitzer ad

Eliot Spitzer got nailed for being "Client #9" in a prostitution bust - I imagine much to the joy of the businessmen he put in Sing Sing.

But leave it to Virgin Mobile to make even more hay about the story, and drive their brand and business in the process. AdRants reported on the print ad Virgin Mobile in Canada put out which shows a picture of the NY Governor waving to the congress with a thought balloon that reads "I'm tired of being treated like a number..." The ad copy says "At Virgin Mobile, you're more than just a number. When you call us we'll treat you like a person, not a client. Whether you're #9 or #900, you'll get hooked up with somebody who'll finally treat you just how you want to be treated."

It sheer genius - not simply because its shocking and brash, but more importantly because its relevant to the value message of their business. And kudos for being so opportunistic to move on this while it was a hot story.


MarketingSherpa’s 2008 Email Awards

As always, there are a ton of great ideas in this year's Email Awards Gallery from Marketing Sherpa. The list features 47 companies, B-to-B and B-to-C campaigns, newsletters, ‘Welcome’ letters and triggered campaigns. Top brands represented include: Pepsi-Cola, SAP, Royal Caribbean, Dell … even the US Army. Read more here.

Other useful reports from the Sherp:

How to Get Better Results from Your Email Newsletter - a step-by-step handbook gives you 29 ways to get more subscribers for your newsletter list; how to create a newsletter readers open and respond to; and how to measure your results.

How to Avoid Email Filters - At least 18% of your email campaigns and newsletters are blocked or filtered by mistake. Practical handbook details the 10 specific tactics to improve your delivery rate, including AOL and Hotmail delivery. Also check out Permission Emailer's Guide to Avoiding Filters.


Airwalk decides MySpace might be on to something

Always "Johnny-on-the-spot," Airwalk decides that this MySpace thing is going somewhere and that they better get on board. The Payless-owned lifestyle brand is going to tie its print ads into the MySpace pages of popular celebs it endorses. Novel...
"MySpace personalities will star in a fall campaign from lifestyle brand Airwalk, which hopes to connect online social media with traditional print ads. The campaign, themed "A Day in Our Life," will spotlight, among others, indie rock band Lorene Drive and Airwalk pro skateboarder Rodney Mullin, both of whom have big followings on the Fox Interactive social networking site."


Divinity Metrics Measures Brands' Online Video Presence

Divinity Metrics has put together a chart measuring the top 20 brands in online video. Top 20 brands are static and were chosen beforehand by analysts. They are: BMW, Disney, Audi, Nike, Pepsi, Toyota, Mercedes, Sony, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, EBay, McDonald's, Budweiser, Hyndai, Motorola, Taco Bell, Chrysler, Dell, Fedex, and American Express. BMW is currently leading with 129,953,103 streams. Streams are based on videos aggregated for the brand by Scope, a video measurement platform.

From AdRants


Batman movie launches another viral campaign

The upcoming Batman movie (Batman the Dark Knight) seeded its trailer recently, which successfully made its rounds in the viral video world. Now, they have let loose the second installment, I Believe in Harvey Dent, where you provide your email to help get Harvey Dent elected. Its a great program and I think it will work very well. Its timely (an election year) and it has high pass-along value. Plus it opens up the communication line (all you need to do is enter your email), and builds anticipation (I can't wait until they start sending me stuff).

But what makes this really a great program is that it builds anticipation with exactly the right people (i.e. real comic book aficionados) and in the right way (uniquely building anticipation for a supporting character who only these people would appreciate). As a comic geek, I know who Harvey Dent is - he's the DA who eventually turns into the villain Two-Face. By getting people that "get it" they have hit the right people who will get excited and spread the word - I've already told a few friends - the "influencers." Now I know I'm not always on the bandwagon with the influencer idea (read more), but in this case I stand corrected.

And, I'm guessing not coincidentally, it also diverts attention to the untimely death of Heath Ledger, who plays the lead villain, Joker.

Visit I Believe in Harvey Dent

New report says Google's clicks have risen, not fallen

The plot thickens...

According to SearchIgnite in a report just released, Google's had a 40% rise in ad revenue, with paid clicks up 45.7 percent. This obviously runs very much counter to the comScore report that said that clicks had reduced (When $471 per share is "Falling Back to Earth"). The report came from a survey of 800 million impressions and 53 million clicks logged by SearchIgnite clients.

From MarketingVOX


When $471 per share is "Falling Back to Earth"

I understand Google's stock is off 36% from its peak of $741.79. But c'mon, the sky is not falling - the stock is still at a whopping $471 per share. It still has a stranglehold on the Internet.

However, the comScore report that BusinessWeek mentions this week is something to really think about if you're an advertiser.
...It found that just 6% of Web surfers account for more than 50% of all clicks on display ads, such as the rectangular banner ads that stretch across the top of many Web pages. In addition, most of these heavy clickers earn less than $40,000 a year, and they account for less than 15% of the actual shopping online.
It is about conversions, not clicks. Is your site up to snuff from a usability standpoint? Is it purposed to make certain actions happen? Are you using effective landing pages? Have you specifically thought, "what do I want a visitor to do when they land on my page, and have I made whatever that thing is excessively easy for them to do?" Simple questions that are often overlooked, but very much need to be addressed if you're going to place ads on Google or Yahoo!.

Read More

Chart from Business Week