September 2007

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The best creative I’ve seen in a long time is an Out Of Home effort currently running in the NY market on buses and billboards.  It’s for Monday Night Football and it celebrates all the great personal memories associated with Monday Night Football over the years.  My favorite Monday Night Football memories were in college, sitting on tables and the edges of over-sized chairs in my fraternity The Guild.  Kegs in the corner.  Rooting for the home team of some brother or another.  Men, men, men, men.  Women, women, women, women. And all on a Monday night. 

The ad has a 4 word headline, logo and no visual. It’s compelling because it is contrary.

IS IT MONDAY YET?

 

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There is a digital phone company out there, the name of which escapes me, that will serve up ads based upon the content of your phone conversation. If you are talking about going to a movie on your “celly,” when the call completes you might have a movie ad poop (sic) up on your screen. 

 
This is going a little too far. Even for Advertising Week.
 
What’s next? In-home audio surveillance to drive direct mail programs? Garbage truck scanners that spit out coupons? An chip in your EZ Pass that reports shopping center propensities?
 
Privacy (I love the way the Brits say it) is going to be a major, major issue in a year or two. It’s only a matter of time before some bonehead company oversteps its bounds, and brings down the wrath of consumers and advocates.
 
I smell a bonehead.
 

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We the people.

I do my very best not to make a running commercial out of my blog. But as they say, if you love what you do… 
 
Today, I read with glee of a new social network for geezers. I’m a “geeze,” so please don’t take offense.  Don’t mention AARP is the motto of this new community, called TeeBeeDee, which stands for To Be Determined.  This may be a smart business decision for its builders and investors and I wish them well, but I am so happy not to be in the community building business. 
 
Zude, you see, is a platform not a community. We don’t build Levittown’s and ask people to move in. We give them the hammers and materials and ask them to build their own residences. Because Zude allows users of any technical ability to build and customize their web presence, we have lots of 50 year olds and 15 year old users.  And they are all getting along just fine, thank you. There are no social barriers on Zude or neighborhoods gerrymandered by age, education, sex or ethnicity. It’s just a place where people “feel free” to express themselves. It’s like Queens, NY — the world’s greatest example of happy, healthy diversity. 
 
We built a platform…the people are building the rest. All the people. Thomas Friedman would be proud. We are flattening the world.      
 

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In the New York Times today was a one-column by three inch story about Nike earnings. They are up 51% for the quarter. To be exact, Nike reported “a 51% increase in fiscal first-quarter net income on Thursday, helped by higher revenue and future orders as sell as favorable currency exchange rates.” Did I mention the item was buried at the bottom of the page? FedEx’s revenue for the quarter was up 8% and their story was an 1/8th of a page — with a picture.
 
If my company revenue was up 51%, I would be shouting it from the tops of buildings, yet Nike seems almost apologetic. Is it possible that they let the news release out at the 11th hours after the paper forms closed down?
 
I’m thinking Nike is amazingly embarrassed that they are raking in the cash on the backs of foreign labor which pays a dollar a day. Shhh. Quiet.

 

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Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl premiered last night on the CW network and it was a pisser. It’s Law and Order for teens, without the Law. Part cartoon, part social commentary, part drama, it provides lots of vicarious living for viewers.
 
Josh Schwartz, the creator, may still be feeling his way around but I think he’s going to settle in after a while. The actors are fresh with a few exceptions, and the script though a little weak now, shows signs of promise.
 
You know how you look back on old TV shows and see how the culture has changed? Well put this on in a time capsule and wait a few years. When we look back we’re not going to believe NYC kids circa 2007.
 
Oh, and through all of the pot smoking, martini drinking, various flavors of “the nasty,” you won’t see any cigarette smoking. The show has a social conscience? Hee hee.
 

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Marketing Gluttony.

Google, in its never-ending desire to be the next technology monopoly, has hired a co-president of Ogilvy & Mather-NY to become its creative liaison with ad agencies. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, he will manage the newly formed Creative Labs unit, “to work with ad agencies on new ways Google products can be used in advertising” and marketing.

 
The head of this new unit, Andy Berndt, is a seasoned agency guy who knows the agency business and how to sell to marketers. Liaison my butt. If you think for one minute Google isn’t looking for a way to create a creative portfolio and set of case studies it can sell directly to marketers you are mistaken. 
 
It’s another way to cut ad agencies and online agencies out of the business.  
 
Google can’t stop. They won’t be happy until they explode like that character in the Monty Python movie that eats until he bursts. Google was everyone’s favorite because it was a helper. It helped people find things — it re-inventing search. Now I don’t know what Google stands for. New widget ads? Desktop office applications? Video? Or just plain old “money.”
 
Google needs to focus before they become despised — before they grow into a tech bully. 

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News should be free. Opinion should be free. The Web should be free. This is America. (“Feel free” is our marketing mantra at Zude.)   Here’s some good news. At midnight tonight The New York Times is going to make free a good deal of the content it once charged for under its Times Select program.

 
Once again Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed pieces will be free. As will those of Thomas Friedman and David Brooks.  
 
The advertising vs. subscription model continues to favor advertising. The Times earned $10 million last year in online subscriptions, yet still realizes the potential of the online advertising model. Search engines help drive 13 million unique visitors to NY Times.com and all but 750,000 may be turned away if they want to dig deeper into the site.  
 
Are you listening Wall Street Journal. I expect you will roll-over within 2 months. And I can’t wait.
 

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Inspiration

Coming out of the advertising world I always subscribed to the axiom “It’s better to show than to tell.”  If you are selling the fun quotient at an amusement park, show the ride and the kid glee rather than read copy like “It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on.”
 
Well, now that I’m on the marketing side, I realize the axiom must be expanded — showing is not enough. “Inspiring” is the key. If your marketing doesn’t inspire action or behavior change, you haven’t done your job.  Inspiration makes consumers think it’s their idea to purchase your product. As a communication form, it focuses on the customer needs and desires, not the marketer’s.   
 
When a consumer wants to buy your product (read they are inspired to), they are already predisposed towards it. They want it to taste good, work better, or make their life better. 
 
Marketer’s need to learn how to inspire customers and prospects, not just break through. If I read “break through the clutter” one more time in Ad Age, I’m going to “gurge” (short for regurgitate.)
 

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Tell me…

I used to have an interview questionnaire I used with candidates while interviewing account managers at McCann-Erickson. It was my way of systematizing the process so after 10+ candidates, I could be rational and mindful in comparing answers.

 
One of the questions I really liked, but stopped using, made one of my female interviewees uncomfortable. The question was “Tell me about me.” Until this one candidate, most candidates would either stumble or blow a little smoke at me saying things like “you’re funny” or “you’re successful” (I had a nice office at the time,) but the astute few would have quickly taken in my office and comment about my pictures, books or knick-knacks.  These were the quick studies in people…the observant ones. 
 
I stopped asking that question when a young lady made me feel like a megalomaniac, maybe even a little dirty. I think she had issues (I sure must have.)  I should never have stopped using that question. It worked. While at McCann I hired some really smart people. Twenty-Somethings who went on to become agency presidents and holding company presidents. My hiring record topped out when I lost the “tell me about me” question.
 
 
  

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The evolved newspaper.

 

 
The New York Times is doing a great job of integrating other media forms into its offering. As a geeze, I still prefer my New York Times in paper form, but must admit I keep my compute close at hand to watch and listen to things such as Nicholas Kristof’s wonderful slideshows with voiceover from Africa, or colorful travelogues with high-quality pictures from Central American hot pepper markets.
 
Today, I read about a new TV show called “Gossip Girls,” a Josh Schwartz (O.C.) production. The paper promoted a podcast interview of Josh, in which he spoke about how he uses music in his shows. He’s a fan of the Brooklyn’s “The National,” you know.
 
The Times is doing a great job of bringing the news to life. Through excellent reporting, colorful Time Magazine-type pictures, video clips, slide shows and MP3s. They are getting the news right. Content is still king in the news world and the NY Times franchise will continue to grow as a news organization. With most newspapers shrinking and losing money, this organization is evolving nicely.
 

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