Music Artist Loyalty

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The data is in, digital music single sales (single song purchases) are outpacing albums by 19:1.   Buying music a la carte is killing the music business. Piracy is what the record industry is concerned with but they haven’t been paying close attention to one of the other big issues: how single song sales are diminishing artist loyalty. 
 
“Only true fans are buying full albums,” is a smart quote by Vatana Shaw of the R&B Group Cherry Hill in the March 26 issue of the New York Times, which gets to the heart of the problem.  Most albums have an array of work — some of it more commercial than the rest. Only after listening a number of times to an album are consumers able to get a full understanding of the artist and their art. That fuller appreciation turns into loyalty.
 
Single song sales create burn-out.  There is only so long you can listen to a favorite song.  (I ODed on strawberry shortcake as a kid and have rarely been back. The food, not the group. Please.)  The record industry has to get listeners to experience the whole package or artist loyalty will tank. If that happens one and two hit wonders will abound.  

Good call.

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Oh, I hope not to end up being one of those self-aggrandizing bloggers who pat themselves on the back for being right all the time.  I find that so cumbersome. But I had to smile this morning upon learning that Crispin Porter Bogusky resigned the Miller account. A few days ago I indelicately suggested that Alex Bogusky fire Miller, which he and Chuck Porter did. Congratulations.  Good call.    
 
What caused the rift? Miller Lite’s decision to create and produce an ad in-house. I saw that ad last night and it had all the markings of a client-produced spot: it was an “awards” ad. Clients’ love awards ads. They love ads about themselves. Agencies love ads about consumers.
 
I don’t for a minute believe Miller Lite will remain in-house, it won’t. They are too smart for that. And, the “unfurl the award banner” spot may actually sell a few extra kegs of beer near term. But next agency beware. Miller needs a big strategic idea, but more importantly they need to believe in it.  

It’s better over there.

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If you get a chance today, please click on over to WSJ online and take a look at a few of Unilever’s international TV commercials. They are brilliant! Simple and heartfelt, they connect with the human spirit. The casting is brilliant. The performances Academy Award-like. And the scripts spare and meaningful. Why can’t US agencies do this type of TV work? Have we forgotten how to connect with consumers? Are we in such a hurry, that we can’t tell a nice selling story. Don’t we have time to really improve our craft. Apparently they have time in some of the emerging countries. Take a look. They are wonderful.
 

Is it us?

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When I was in college, my elderly psych professor told me a la The Graduate “plastics” speech, that leisure time counseling was the career to pursue. With the aging of  Baby Boomers and advancements in medicine, people were going to be living a long time and need counseling on keeping busy.
 
How prescient.
 
But it’s not just Babyboomers.  Kids need it too. They are playing video games every minute they’re not engaged with TV, the computer, or sports. Some of these pastimes they do simultaneously. Like a shark that dies if it is not swimming, kids today can’t sit down without some sort of stimulus. God forbit, they should talk to a parent.
 
Soduko is a new craze among adults, who also cannot sit for a minute without stimulus. Maybe it’s because book, newspaper and magazine content is so poor and predictable. I’m no better, I can’t drive in my car without the radio on, flipping channels and programs. I have to force myself to drive and think. It’s not a reflex.  
 
What were we like before we left the savannah?
 
Why do we hate to be alone and unoccupied? Can’t we just sit and think, or sit and talk?

Why is beer advertising so bad?

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Have we as a society gotten so besotted with ad messages that we can’t even make a good beer commercial? ( don’t include Corona in this assessment, whose simple work I still find to be splendid.)  Now I admit to getting a chuckle every so often hearing the “real men of genius” radio, but it certainly doesn’t make me want to quaff down a Bud Light. But could the Coor’s Light frozen silver bullet train be any more inane? 
 
Coors Light advertising, according to a senior marketing executive, gets back to the brands roots of “refreshing and cold.” Refreshing and fun are Coke’s core attributes; so is it any wonder when I see a Coors Light commercial I get thirsty for a Coke?
 
I’m a beer guy. There are a lot of things that might induce me to drink a frosty one, but a frozen train darting between a bunch of smiling blonde women isn’t one of them. Hmmmm, or is it? Sigmund?      
 

Forget Consumer Generated Content…

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…agencies need to worry about marketer generated content. Check out this Ad Age quote from the CMO of Miller Randy Ransom regarding its new in-house effort for Miller Lite:
 
“We are taking a ‘hard right turn’ back to the core essence of Miller Lite, which has always been about differentiating Miller Lite from competitors as a better beer.  The new ads (in-house) demonstrate our ability to move with speed and conviction. And we like the flexibility that these simple formats provide to quickly customize our messaging for a variety of mediums.” 

The implication in Mr. Ransom’s quote is that agency’s cannot move with speed and conviction, are not flexible, and can’t quickly customize messages to a variety of mediums. That’s a problem. It’s a bigger problem than the work that got Miller Lite into this mess, which I’m sure was collaborative.
 
(Oh, and Alex Bogusky, strap on a pair and fire these bozos.)

Ding Dong

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One of my favorite sayings about advertising is “Just when you think you know something about this business, someone comes along to prove you wrong.” Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here after reading about Avon’s new campaign and say it’s not going to be very successful. It will have some success because they are pumping $340 million into the marketplace.
 
When the president of global marketing goes on record as saying “Avon is the company that best understands and empowers women” I immediately cringe and anticipate failure. That’s marko-babble. When I read further that the objectives of the ads are to improve their sales channel by recruiting doorbell ringers AND at the same time communicating that the Avon family of products prepares women for the aging process (the line is “Hello Tomorrow”) I know they are soon to be in deep doo-doo. What’s the idea?  What will consumers say about the advertising, product, and brand the day after they see the work?
 
And the last premise – slowing the aging process – by itself is questionable.  First of all, it targets older women and doesn’t address today’s newer buyers. Second, aging is more about genetics and lifestyle than about creams (with the exception of SPF). And third, women want to look healthy and beautiful now, not in the future. That’s why all the pictures in the ads are going to be of youngish women.  Ding dong, hello?
 

Digital “Wrongs” Management

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Gordon Ramsey, of TV’s Hell’s Kitchen, may have a nasty streak but he’s doing a nice little reclamation project in my home town of Babylon, NY this week. He is filming an episode for Fox in which he brings a restaurant back from the brink.

 

If I knew how to load pictures on my blog I’d put up a camera phone shot of Gordon and my son. Hopefully, I wouldn’t get sued. Certainly my son can’t sue, he signed a waiver — as did the rest of the school kids and teachers. Why? Because as part of the episode Gordon threw a picnic on the football field and should any of the kids or teachers likenesses be aired, the network needs signed releases.

 

As an added bonus, the school band was asked to perform at the picnic. However, at the 11th hour the band had to go back to school and learn a new song, because the initial song they had prepared and practiced was “rights protected.” (Something from the Beatles catalog, I wonder?)  Off they went to find a song that was royalty-free. They didn’t have much time to practice, the new song just “okay,” and their collective 15 minutes of fame tarnished. When will this madness stop?

The Flavor of TV

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It’s heartening to know that one of the reasons for the growth of social networking is the surfeit of drivel emanating from the TVs across America. TV today is so bad for teens and Gen Y that they watch reruns almost as much as original programming. How many times can you watch New York wave her hands in Flavor Flav’s face?
 
This epiphany came to me while reading a Facebook blog about how its log-ons tank as soon at Grey’s Anatomy goes on air. 
 
Why do kids like Flav? Because he’s entertaining. His antics, even the third time, are better than the teen psycho-dramas of prime time television. 
 
Let’s improve the programming and I bet the TV numbers come back up for the young demo. Pretty simple.
 

FoxSpace

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At a recent PSFK conference ad pundit George Parker mentioned that Rupert Murdoch was about to “f” up MySpace by covering it in Fox content.  Well, there was a link in the MediaPost today suggesting that MySpace has plans to add a news channel to MySpace.  

Jesus! MySpace already owns the “middle” of the social networking space now they want to add professional news content?  They would be better off adding a channel called people’s news, where regular people report what they see, a la, “there’s a traffic accident on Route 80.” Or, “there’s a hold-up underway in the 7-11 in Bumpus Mills.
 
News Corp is getting overly greedy and trying to spread its seed in too many places. This will end up being a mistake for them and will dilute their powerful MySpace franchise.