wall street journal

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Here’s a marketing challenge:  How do we get the smartest of the smart thinking about renewable energy sources? Michelle Obama has us focused on childhood obesity and is doing a good job. The rest of the government is focused on war and debt and the crisis of financial confidence.  For good measure you can throw in a little healthcare. Sellers of consumer and business goods are “all up” in the digital world trying to leverage Facebook, Twitter and mobile geo services.  Kids are still loving sex, fun and music.

So who is looking out for the planet?  Who is focusing on the fact that we’re literally draining and burning the core of the earth — denuding it of fossil
fuels.  Where’s the water coming from in 5 thousand years?

Pop Quiz.  Name one person in the U.S. that cares the most about the planet? Al Gore is probably the answer. Sad.  Much sad. (God bless him, by the way, but he needs some help.)

Here’s what we need: A VC firm with eyes on the planet prize. Might it be Fred Wilson? John Doerr? Paul Oliver?  Who?  Until that hero emerges, and until the pages of the Wall Street Journal, FT and New York Times start writing about him/her with the alacrity that they use to cover digital tech, we’re screwed. As Thomas Friedman says oil is a destabilizer.  Who is going to step up?  Who dat? Peace!

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I’m riding the train to the city (sorry, New York) and a gent next to me is reading the new Amazon Kindle 2. I interrupted him to ask about its performance and he was not even miffed. He loves it. When I ask how many books he’d read he told me with the Journal (sorry, Wall Street) on screen that he is reading more than ever before. “I always have something with me.” The wireless works fine, he added.  


The idea that people will read more than ever because they always have material close by is intriguing and, if correct, suggest better grades for kids, better erudition for adults and, dare I say, a more informed populace. Ahh, the future.  


This dude was so Zen-ed out, in fact, that after I returned it to him and apologized for the newsprint smudge on its pretty thin frame he smiled and gave me a knowing nod. Enough said. This thing is going to take off like dried kindling on an arroyo. Peace.




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Digest This.

Steve Rubel writes in his Micropersuasion post today that on the Web "text is king." It’s searchable, scannable (quickly perused), easy to forward, and works well on mobile platforms. This fits perfectly with my thesis that today’s media habits are ADD-driven. For instance, this weekend I was reading an article in the newspaper about school budgets and realized my high school basketball team had a game the night before. I stopped reading and picked up the laptop to search out the score.  How many times have you been reading something interesting and wiki’ed it online?  How many meeting are you in that are stopped by people answering phones or texts, or Blackberry emails or IMs? James Patterson, the leading fiction writer in America, writes 2 page chapters. Wall Street Journal articles are shorter by 20%. Technology puts media in all its forms at hands reach putting our head are on swivels.

That’s why text is king. It is easily digestible, searchable and burstable. It also feeds our ADD behavior.     

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I’m no shark but I smell blood in the water for Dell Inc.  Michael Dell is a leader, not a follower. When he follows he is average and makes mistakes. The Wall Street Journal reported today about Dell’s second foray into the digital music player business and the news is anything but heartening. The business ideas are not well formed, plus Dell is playing the role of challenger brand. Here are some of the alarming quotes from the article:
“The executives said the device has gotten a favorable reception from testers.” (Favorable?)
The device will connect to a new Dell music and download service which “Dell expects to launch this summer.” (Expects?)
“Pricing for the new service hasn’t been determined.”
And here’s a good one, “Mr. Tatelman (VP consumer sales) declined to detail how Dell expects the strategy to generate profit.”  “…he is still discussing with Dell whether profits would come mainly from the subscription service of from the device tied to it.” (Discussing?)
I could go on, but you get the idea. The Dell PR person should be spanked. Mr. Dell should have been spanked 9 months ago. Dell has lost its way once and for all.  Mr. Dell you are brilliant but you are not Steve Jobs. Peace!

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It was reported in today’s WSJ that Dr. Pepper is launching a $35 million ad campaign telling consumers to drink Dr. Pepper more slowly. Only then, according to a market research company that uncovered this little gem, will one really experience the 23 flavors that blend together to create the distinctive taste. Did someone say cherry?
Deutsch, the Dr. Pepper agency, admits the idea is a little far-fetched and, so, has surrounded the “drink slowly” idea with two fake doctor spokespeople: Dr. J. (Julius Irving) and Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer of the sitcom Frasier.) 
Soda experts quoted in the article agree the advertising needs to emphasize taste attributes and I agree. Here’s the problem (and I reserved the right to correct myself after I see the ads,) the core taste attribute is the 23 flavors. The advertising is about drinking slowly in order to taste those flavors. If the 23 flavors get lost, the core value is lost and the idea ends up being the drinking process. And with fake doctors as spokespeople, I fear the real idea will be buried even further.
The brief is probably something like “savor the 23 flavors” but with emphasis on the savor and not the flavor, Dr. Pepper and Deutsch will have misfired.

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David McCullough’s book on John Adams is a slow read but has its moments. One such moment is the description of Washington D.C. and how it became the capital before it was much of a town.  Adams thought the president and capital should be in a big city – a place befitting the center of the new world. Jefferson, however, wanted something a little closer to the South and had the vision to recognize you had to start somewhere. So in 1800 our nation’s capital moved to the little backwater town of Washington D.C. and began its long path to greatness.
Early Washington D.C. is an apt metaphor for what YouTube is today as an advertising vehicle. YouTube is only expected to generate $200 million in ad revenue this year and Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt (parent of YouTube) has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying “the company hasn’t yet found the best formula for video advertising.”  Oh, it will. Give them another year. And if you buy online media today, YouTube is a great place to start.  Soon they will be printing money.
One prediction: the solution won’t include pre- or post-roll. Peace!

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“Logistics Are in Vogue With Designers” reads a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. With the economy continuing to soften, some of the larger design house brands such as Valentino and Bulgari are investing in IT and more robust supply chain systems; the thought being, if they know what is selling where and when, they can quickly course correct and optimize profits.
As a planner, one of the businesses I’ve always loved to watch is the clothing design business. The best designers look ahead for inspiration. They bet their careers on it. Yet with all of this new reporting from stores and more science in the equation, inspiration will wane. I often squawk about “rearview mirror” planners.  I have no problem with data collection and analysis, but it does not provide the way forward.  

The best clothing designers know this and should swear off these sales reports.


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Okay, okay I think I’m becoming a Rupert Murdoch fan. I wouldn’t want him as my CEO in a new internet start-up, but I like how he is going about learning what’s next. I’ve dinged him for what he’s doing to the Wall Street Journal, but must give him credit for putting money into a lot of different new media properties in an effort to learn. It is the wild west don’t forget.
Mr. Murdoch has shown some restraint when it comes to DRM (digital rights management) and he believes in the newspaper business, so long as the writing is great and germane. His take on MySpace vs. Facebook is also interesting. He feels MySpace is for those who want to express themselves and Facebook is a utility. Nice boil down. It also makes me feel good about our online property, Zude, which is poised to be the best of all individual expression platforms. After shelter, sustenance and procreation, personal expression is the most important human need. The online world is a  brand new canvas for personal expression and Mr. Murdoch sees that. 

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If you have the fortitude to read this blog now and again you’ll know I often go on about rearview mirror brand planners – those who spend a great deal of time looking behind, looking to the past, to them plot brand strategy. Well today I’d like to introduce Douglas Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Co. He’s a real forward looker.  Here he is (from the Wall Street Journal, May 30th,) on his next billion dollar brand. Perhaps the world’s next billion dollar brand. 
 “American’s don’t eat enough vegetables. Our scientists were able to come up with a fruit and vegetable blend, which doesn’t have any of the taste of vegetables but delivers a full-serving of vegetables in every eight-ounce serving. Wellness is the No. 1 trend, by far, in consumer foods right now and this is the sweet spot. V8 will be our next billion dollar brand.”
This leader tells the truth. He takes responsibility for his missteps and he sees the future. He’s going places.

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