Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I guess the train didn't help

On Monday, I talked about using social media and search to track the value of an event, focusing on a vintage subway train promotion by HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”  Today, I read that the premiere actually had a disappointing rating--2.9 million viewers, down 8% from an average rating of 3.2 million viewers per episode in season one.  Perhaps even more discouragingly, 40% fewer people watched this year’s season premiere than last year’s series premiere.  No word on whether the train helped or not.

What’s a marketer to do?

I happen to enjoy the show, which depicts the lives and loves of crooked politicians, gangsters and bootleggers in Prohibition-era Atlantic City.  Thus I have a personal interest in seeing it do well.  If I were promoting the show, here’s what I’d think about:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where to look, whom to ask

Blog: Your company is smarter than you think

Having spent much of my career in agencies as the research guy, I can tell you that few businesses have all the market research they need.  Even agencies or companies with large, effective research departments can never cover all the angles they need over the course of a year.  Worse still, many businesses devote too little to market research and have hardly anything they can use.

What to do, then?

Fortunately, most companies know more than they realize.  The researcher simply needs to know where to look, or really, whom to ask.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UR Doin it rong: AT&T

Remember “The Odd Couple” TV show?  Remember how whenever Jack Klugman’s slob Oscar would do something gauche, Tony Randall’s effete Felix would shake his head and intone “Oscar...Oscar...Oscar...?”  Well, even though I resemble Oscar much more than I do Felix, I feel the need to shake my head and mutter “AT&T...AT&T...AT&T.”

America’s second-largest mobile company utterly failed at a mobile promotion.  That would be like if America’s second-largest automaker put tires from America’s second-largest tire maker on one of their vehicles, only to have the tires fail and roll the truck over.  OK, not that bad.  But still.

Let’s review this one.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm bald, you idiots

Or, perhaps, a tale of two emails.

I found two emails in my gmail account (plannerben AT gmail dawt cawm, in case you don't have it) side by side this morning.  One came from LinkedIn, and offered me a very useful article on how small businesses can employ social marketing.

The other came from Klout, a supposed social media powerhouse.  And it was blitheringly, irredeemably and completely stupid.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No capice, Barilla

So last night, Adrea Bocelli dropped by my neighborhood, along with his friends Tony Bennett and Celine Dion.

They sang at the behest of Italian food giant Barilla.  Overall, the promotion makes sense.  Barilla wants to become the brand leader in Italian-style foods, so they put on an event celebrating Italian culture.  I don't know how the very Quebecois Ms. Dion got invited.  I suppose Madonna had a face lift scheduled.  Or something.

Overall, the event made sense.  Barilla sampled their products before and during the event.  People got a chance to pretend to live la dolce vita for a bit.  However, one thing just struck me as...odd.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 10 list: Best uses for NYC Bike Share Ads

In my last post, I discussed smart, Translinear opportunities for New York City’s planning bike share program.  Of course, I can’t waste this opportunity for good schtick, so in homage to David Letterman, here’s my top 10 list of how 10 New York icons might use the ads:

10. 1-800-LAWYER: “Property of NYC.  If stolen (by you), call 1-800-LAWYER.”

The bicycle and the buy cycle

Every once in a while, my favorite subjects manage to come together in exciting ways.  In this case, New York City announced that it had agreed to let Alta Bike Share of Portland, Oregon set up a bike sharing program in the city.  And so, two of my passions: marketing communications and bike riding in the city, have at last met.

The two strands come together because the NYC program, as with the programs in cities such as Boston, London and Paris, will receive support from advertising on the bikes and their rental kiosks.  Marketers in cities where the bike share programs exist have jumped at the opportunity to put their names on them, sometimes in fairly innovative ways.  When I visited London in February, I saw that Barclay’s bank had not only put their name on the bikes and kiosks, but also had managed to have some of the kiosks put in front of their locations.

I’d like to see marketers use the opportunity in a more Translinear fashion, of course.  By that, I mean that marketers shouldn’t just slap their names on the bikes can call it day, but rather that they should find a way to drive (or, given that we’re talking about bicycles, ride) consumers from a sponsorship to something that actually drives a business objective.  I’ve got some suggestions after the jump, and I’d love to hear your ideas as well in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Direct (Like it or Not)

According to the invaluable Pew Internet & American Life Project, 85% of Americans own cell phones.  Know what that means? 85% of your audience can respond to your ads.

More to the point, it means that at any time, and in virtually any place, your target can pick up the phone and call a number on a screen.  Or in a print ad.  Or on the side of a bus.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The same survey says that 72%--nearly three quarters--of phone owners text, meaning that they can respond to a text offer.  Finally, over a third (35%), own smartphones, which means that they can visit your site or look your brand up in Google.

In short, every marketer employs direct marketing now because every ad can work as a direct response cue.  How should brand marketers take advantage of this ability?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Value of Social Networking...and Little League

As my readers know, I generally dislike making blanket statements about marketing.  We’ve all read enough articles entitled “The End of...” to know that few things ever really end in marketing.  Many media historians have pointed out that TV, broadly assumed to end radio as a channel, did not in fact do so.  Radio stopped serving as the go-to medium for entertainment, but it held--and still holds--a valuable place as a medium for music, news and talk.

Recently, many of those “The End of...” articles focused on social marketing, or more formally social network marketing, since the discussion inevitably involves Facebook and its ilk.  These articles tend to stress how social networks have upended the traditional media model, challenging it for its use by marketers.  While these articles rightly point to changes in consumers’ information-gathering habits, they doth protest too much, methinks.  The folks paying as much as $3.5 million for a 30-second spot in February’s Superbowl seem to find TV advertising very valid.

So how does social network marketing actually work?  Here’s my take

Friday, September 9, 2011

Anyone for tennis? Wouldn't that be nice*?

Even if you hate tennis (disclosure: I hate tennis with an ungodly passion**), you should take a quick look at the US Open’s live tennis stream, available for free on the event’s site.

First, the player offers some great functionality, including picture-in-picture viewing of two events at once, chat with other viewers and stats for the match and the players.

More germane to this blog however, the streaming page shows different approaches to the same challenge: how to make the most of an event sponsorship, or how to cross the line between brand and direct.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Three things brand marketers can learn from direct marketers

In my last post, I talked about what direct marketers could learn from brand marketers.  Today, I’ll return the favor, but not before addressing the obvious: in most organizations with which I’ve worked, direct serves as the poor stepsister of brand.  They receive fewer resources and less attention than brand.  The sit on lower office floors, if not in a less glamorous building altogether.  One Show Pencils go on the top shelf; DMA Awards live closer to the floor.

More’s the pity.

Truly innovative marketers, most notably David Ogilvy, have always respected the power and discipline of direct marketing.  Ogilvy, in fact, referred to direct as his “secret weapon.”  And so, in that spirit, I think the following represent good learning for brand marketers from the direct folks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three things direct marketers can learn from brand marketers

I started this blog to initiate conversations that I thought marketers should have, but do not seem to have.  Namely, conversations between traditional brand and direct practitioners.  This lack of discussion reflects my experience; as the kids these days say, “YMMV” (your mileage may vary).  Both direct and brand practitioners have the same overall goal--to sell stuff--yet differ in approach, success measures and most visibly, execution.

Today, I’d like to argue that direct marketers have a lot to learn from brand marketers.  Well, at least three things to start.  In a subsequent, I’ll make the counter-argument as well. (UPDATE: here's the post)  I’d love to hear your own thoughts/arguments/ridicule, so read and please respond.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why Most [BLANK] Advertising Stinks

Read through marketing blogs and publications and sooner or later, you’ll see an article entitled “why most [blank] advertising stinks,” or some variation thereof.

For example:

And so on.   I picked these three articles based on the sole criterion of that they came up numbers one through three in organic search results on Google.

So here, now, I shall explain why most articles about why advertising stinks stink.