Friday, December 26, 2008

The Clean Coal Communications War Part 4: The TVA Ash Slide

Just a few notes on this issue:

1) The Tennessee Valley Authority’s generation mix is probably the most diverse in the country. Coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric generation make up the largest portion followed by natural gas.

2) The TVA is still fully owned by the federal government; therefore, we should probably expect FEMA and their communication vehicle stepping in shortly to deal with this issue.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Attack of the Local Commercials!!!

O' local ads how I love ye. Let me count the ways:

1) Over emphasis of emotions

2)Strange celebrity endorsements

3)Awesomely low quality

We may laugh at these ads for a number of reasons, but at least we are aware of these small business. Moreover, advertising on local cable might be more effective than local ad word purchases on Google. Seriously, hear me out on this.

If exposure is the most important element in advertising, what is going to come first, a search or an exposure to a television ad? Yes, the people at Google will say that television viewing is going down and that Tivo is killing ads, but these businesses are advertising when time is cheap and audiences might be watching live television. Therefore, it's highly likely that exposure to their business is from the ad not the ad word.

Obviously, this is a wild conjecture but it would be interesting to observe.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bad News for Me: Omnicom Expected to Cut About 5% of Its Work Force

Keeping my whining to a minimum while looking for a job in this economy is tough. Real tough especially when I read in the New York Times that Omnicom is cutting jobs.

Anyway, it's not like we didn't see this coming. "BBDO laid off 145 employees last month at its office in Troy, Mich., 22 percent of the office’s staff of 656." If you go to the AdWeek website you can see who the largest advertisers are and that's the automakers.

Where will marketing and advertising be during the resuscitation of the auto industry, and after? Will the work be done in house?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Clean Coal Communications War Part 3: Clean Coal Makes a Critical Error

I hate when corporations try to be cute in their messaging. Unless the corporation is selling a cute product, a company should avoid a cute message in any form. There is nothing cute about electricity, and there is definitely nothing cute about coal.

“There must have been that magic in clean coal technology.”

Are you kidding me? Despite the fact that this is a holiday themed bit of web content, there is absolutely no reason to go off message. The first clean coal ads had seriousness on their side, this spot is ridiculous and ridiculously bad. Magic? Aren’t you trying to sell technology? Isn’t technology the opposite of magic?

I have little doubt that the This Is Reality people will produce something quickly that throws stones at this horrible misstep.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Communications War Over Clean Coal Part 2: The 30 Second Spots

To the best of my knowledge, the first “clean coal” ads were run by the group Here it is:

From an industry perspective, this is a decent spot. Groups like are usually funded by corporations that seek to expose the public to a specific business issue that politicians on either side of the aisle will take up in an election. What’s most important about this ad is that it looks clean, crisp and professional. It’s not as good as the American Chemistry ads, but the harder the topic the harder the tougher sell.

The key highlight to this ad is when it mentions the possibility of capturing CO2. Herein stands the crux of opposition to “clean coal.” Carbon dioxide capturing is very expensive. In fact, it might be the most expensive element in a “clean coal” plant. Plus, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions cannot be captured everywhere. The gas is collected and sent into the ground in things like salt deposits. In addition, there is no guarantee that the gas will stay in the ground forever.

So, once again, if money were no object then yes you could build one of these plants and there would be less environmental impact than a current coal burning plant.

Now, as we all know, John McCain did not win the election. Enter the group, Like, the group has a flair for producing ads that catch the viewers’ attention; however, what separates this ad is the fact that it is an adequate introduction to a debate about “clean coal.”

Now, with the both groups poised to fight the war will take a new, interesting, and head scratching turn.

Part 3 Coming Soon…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Communications War Over Clean Coal Part 1

Before going off to graduate school, I worked in the energy industry. (You can check what I did on my profile.) Now, I am in the unique position to offer an educated opinion on “Clean Coal Technology.”

So, here’s the deal with “clean coal.” In my personal opinion, it should really be called “cleaner coal.” From a technological standpoint, it’s better than current coal burning power plants. There are fewer noxious gasses emissions and as for carbon emissions the issue is a little more complex.

If money were no object – yeah, go with me on this – the efficiency of the best “clean coal” plant could release a substantially smaller amount of carbon emissions for the amount of power generated. So, there are still emissions in most technological cases. Since I have been out of the industry for two years now, I cannot say for certain that there are better plans floating around.

Nevertheless, it could be easy to call the current communications on “clean coal” green-washing.

To be continued…

Circuit City Advertises From the Terminal Ward

Back on November 10, Circuit City filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is a long time coming for the retailer who has seen competition spring up from big boxes like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart and countless numbers of online retailers.

What I find surprising is the stream of ads coming from the company as it teeters on oblivion. Obviously, if they hope to survive reorganization then they will need to keep consumers coming into the store. But, spending $405 million in fiscal 2008 - 17% of gross profit - on marketing seems a little overboard.

Moreover, here in the Chicago Metroland Area the company is running cheaply made "we're liquidating" ads on top of the current ad campaign on the same television stations. These mixed messages are poison to the company.

First, if I actually had money to spend in this economy and I was looking to make a purchase of some high end product then I would not want to go to a retailer who might not be around in a few months. In the event something goes wrong with my purchase my first preference is to go to the retailer for a return or an exchange, rather than try to contact the manufacturer through a warranty.

This leads me to my next point: warranties. Retailers like Circuit City have based large portions of their business models selling extended warranties. If they're going to continue to push these on consumers who's going to be dumb enough to gamble on the company's existence?

Finally, unlike other companies that have successfully gone through recent reorganizations, Circuit City lacks defacto traffic like the United Airlines. UAL was able to advertise in the same manner as they had prior to bankruptcy because people still needed to travel to areas where they were the main operator and planes weren't falling out of the sky. Circuit City does not have the luxury of running ads with blinders on.

If they continue to advertise this way, then they must pick separate channels to advertise the liquidation and the stores that are going to survive the current cut. Otherwise, they are going to be closing the rest of their outlets in the near future.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Problem With Google Analytics Part 2

In a previous post I talked about discovering a glitch of some sort with Google Analytics. (Check it out here.)

While sitting around with my roommate the other day and watching him play around with his 3G i-phone, I decided to ask him to visit the blog to see if the wireless phenomena occurred with the AT&T service. Much to my surprise, Google Analytics could still not figure out his log in location. In fact, as you can see in the image above, his visit is listed as coming from Dallas, TX.

Later that afternoon, we were at a friend's apartment 14 miles away from ours and I asked him again to log in and to click around a few times to make sure that I could confirm his identity. (One of the pluses of using this tool on a blog is that most people tend to not click on anything; therefore, a multitude of clicks will indicate that it is him.)

Two interesting things occurred:
1) His location was listed as Texas again
2) Oddly enough, his location was listed as Addison, TX a suburb of Dallas whose center is 14 miles from the center of Dallas.

I am going to go out on a limb and chalk this up in the coincidence column rather than believing that the maps of Chicago and Dallas were swapped in Google's computers somehow.

However, I would like to point out a few things:
1) Once again, wireless 3G log-ins do not seem to be traceable with Google Analytics.
2) The location seems to be random.
3) A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with a representative from Omniture and I discussed my discovery. He said that it was not too far fetched that Google Analytics could not find the location of wireless log-ins. In fact, he said - paraphrasing - that Omniture is aware of the phenomena and it collects multiple forms of data on wireless log-ins to triangulate the real location of users.

While Google Analytics is great and free, it's good to know that people do get more when they pay for a service like Omniture.

(Note: In the interest of full disclosure, my meeting with Omniture was in a classroom setting. I have yet to use Omniture in a business setting. If there's anyone out there who does, then feel free to leave a comment.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Taking This Week Off

Well, I am taking this week off to look for a job and work on my various finals. More Mattkoppelblog coming soon.