Thursday, December 31, 2009

TIme Warner V. News Corp...

Here in my part of Brooklyn it’s Time Warner country; thus, I am pretty eager to see how this whole pissing contest between the cable operator and News Corporation is going to turn out.

Personally, I want to see what cable will look like without Fox – I’m serious – because it will drive consumers absolutely crazy. We all know that Murdoch does not believe that ads bring in revenue for online news publications, and now it seems like he really doesn’t believe that ads are sufficient enough to cover the costs of a handful of his television networks. His solution: raise the fee News Corp. charges cable providers for the channels.

Where will these fees go? To Time Warner subscribers of course…

Why? Because corporations must answer to their shareholders first and thus maintain a certain profit margin.

So, back to why I want Fox to go away. It will basically shatter a horrible system that needs upgrading. While I am no anarchist, it’s time to see if this Ouroboros we’ve created will implode.

As the GF and I continue to count down to the ball drop, we'll be watching intently to see what will happen.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last of the Davids...

I just received the following mass email from the Chicago based concert promoter Jam Productions, and I could not agree more.  I think this letter speaks for itself.

Fellow Concertgoers,

There's a train wreck about to happen and consumer groups say YOU will be the victim -  if the two most powerful corporate interests in the live concert business get their way.  But you can help stop the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. The government needs to hear from music fans now.  Tell the Department of Justice that you're against these monopolies amassing illegal power over consumers, before it's too late.

As a concertgoer you have already felt the pain, and if Ticketmaster and Live Nation get their way, it'll get worse. In the last 12 years, since Live Nation and its predecessor started its widespread take over of the concert industry, concert tickets have shot up 82% while the consumer price index has gone up just 17%*.  We are concerned that if the two concert industry behemoths, Live Nation and Ticketmaster, were permitted to merge, the variety and quality of artists coming to local venues would be affected, and your prices could rise further and faster.

Five of the nation's most prominent public interest groups called on the Department of Justice to block the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation.

In the consumer groups' and lawmakers' words:

 "Consumers deserve a fair deal in the entertainment marketplace, not the fewer choices and higher prices that would result from this merger," said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America.

"This merger is an insult to both musicians and consumers," said James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International

"We cannot envision a remedy that would ease this chilling impediment to competition… In the absence of other effective, expeditious remedies, the proposed transaction should be prohibited."  American Antitrust Institute White Paper

As described by Senator Herb Kohl (WI) in the Senate Antitrust hearing, "This merger will not only expand Ticketmaster's control of the ticketing market by eliminating a competitor, but it is also creating an entity that will control the entire chain of the concert business – from artist management to concert promotion and production to ticketing and ticket resale."
"This merger would be a disaster for consumers. Nothing short of blocking this takeover of the ticket market by two industry behemoths will be acceptable," said National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

"As president, I will direct my administration to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement.  I will step up review of merger activity and take effective action to stop or restructure those mergers that are likely to harm consumer welfare…," said Senator Barak Obama when he was campaigning for the presidency.

If you agree with the consumer groups and lawmakers, make a difference and LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD NOW.

If you are tired of paying exorbitant ticket prices and service charges and paying for parking on a per head basis and dealing with the gouging, unregulated secondary ticket market in an effort to get good seating. If you are disgusted with paying more and more every year for the live concert experience THEN ACT NOW, CLICK ON THE LINK IMMEDIATELY BELOW AND SEND A MESSAGE TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE URGING THEM TO STOP THIS MERGER!


Jam Productions, The 9:30 Club, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Metropolitan Talent, Another Planet, Frank Productions, Stone City Attractions, Rams Head Live, The Black Cat …… and independent concert promoters and venue operators nationwide.

*Study by Princeton University economist Alan Krueger

Saturday, December 19, 2009

QVC Goes All Web 2.0 On Us

Watch out, QVC – the shopping channel juggernaut – is finally pushing itself into web 2.0. Is this a good move?

QVC’s core audience is not that involved with social media; however, they have a large diehard base of bulletin board members. Plus, they love sharing YouTube videos of their favorite pitchmen and women messing up on TV. So, in a way, social media is a natural fit for these people.

In addition to the new channels for current fans, this could be the best way to introduce the QVC brand to a younger generation who still thinks that the channel is for Grandma. It will all come down to two things for this to be successful for this new demo/psychographic: 1) product offerings 2) online experience.

Some of the on-air products will work for younger aged women who are on social media and like to shop on the web, but there has to be more than the occasional product to maintain their interest and repeat visits to the website.

This leads to the online experience. One of QVC’s core values to its customers is the perceived relationship between the hosts and the shoppers who watch. The retailer needs to figure out a way to transition that relationship to the digital universe without talking to them like they are the TV audience.

First and foremost, why not try to grow the core audience / consumer base with tactics that are more likely to appeal to them. I doubt that QVC will be able to move merchandise (they have an allegedly amazing inventory turnover rate) at the same pace with an online format without changing the channel itself.

Changing the channel will really anger the current base that is extremely loyal to the brand. This could be tantamount to slapping them across the face and saying that their time is over.

In addition, the wider product offerings could dilute their ability to create demand for the products that they are pushing that day. A key strength of QVC has been their ability to manufacture demand for products that may or may not be the best deal in the world.

I think the pros have it. Why? Because the brand needs to be introduced to a younger generation, who may or may not be watching television in the same way in ten or twenty years. If you can breed loyalty through good products, good deals, and good customer service young shoppers may flock to the Q.


A few months ago I criticized NBC for their decision to keep Jay Leno and move his show to 10 PM, mostly because I don’t find him funny.  However, it was also clear at the time that NBC did not want to put any more money into programming when they could be cheap.  Advertising dollars be damned, as long as something is profitable or not a massive loser.

The problem now is that the Leno show is a loser and it looks like the natives – in this case the affiliates – are getting restless.  10 PM programming leads into local news broadcasts which are huge sources of ad revenues.  Weak programming like Leno keeps viewers away from that network and their money.

On Monday, Ad Age ran an op-ed advising Comcast what to do, which includes firing Jay.  But they did not answer the question of what to replace his show with.  Here are my thoughts on what I would place in the 10 pm slot.

Here is a list of experiments that I would try:

The BBC Programming Model: 
Believe it or not, NBC has been stealing BBC programming long before The Office and most of them have failed.  Why?  Well, it’s simply that these programs – even The Office – have a definitive end.  Once all the good jokes dry up, a team of writers has to take over with characters that they did not create and expect the same results.  This phenomenon also occurs with 100% American products too, so why not go for broke?

There will be a large amount of front end marketing needed to bring in viewers and advertisers, but giving writers the ability to see a product from start to finish will create something that American network television has not had in ages, consistency.  This consistency will then help on the back end profits through DVD and download sales.  I feel like more people watched The Wire on DVD than when it was on HBO.

Take Advantage of Technology:
One might think that NBCU – co-owner of Hulu – would actually know something about digital media, but these are the people who wanted the Jay Leno show to be “un-Tivo-able,” which really means unwatchable (RIMSHOT!).

In the age of YouTube, it may be time to try something that has been done with a new spin.  Why not bring the best of Funny or Die (or something like it) to TV?  Rather than letting people make jerks of themselves on reality competitions, let them genuinely try to be creative.  There’s a reason that America’s Funniest Home Videos worked so well for so long.  While there may end up being writers’ guild issues with the show, I still think it’s a great idea.  After all, competitions like this brought us It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Stop Caring About Mass Appeal:
Yes, NBCU is a major network but audiences are fracturing into microsegments of microsegments.  It’s time to completely own something, and the only way to do it is to create something that is divisive among demos. 

Bring Back Long Format Documentaries:
How awesome was Planet Earth?  How awesome would it have been to have it on a major network?  Educational television can pull in high ratings now – and this goes back to the technology stuff – because the video quality is so stunning that people cannot help but watch.

Documentary film – albeit opinion based - is having a bit of a comeback as of late and NBC news should take advantage by diving deep into a topic and presenting all the facts and history regarding a subject.  Rather than manufactured reality television, why not let journalists and documentarians tell the real life stories of interesting people?

Okay, so maybe this last one is a little nerdy.  But, there is no reason not to try it out. Besides, Sarah and Todd Palin have said in interviews that they love to watch shows like Most Dangerous Catch which illustrates that documentary television is not a red state / blue state issue.  (Yeah, I could have gone for a below the belt shot on that one, but I am trying to act like an adult and make a point.)

So NBCU the ball is your court.  Give us something worth our time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Who Really Wants A Touchscreen? Really?

On my plane to California, I read the December issue of Wired Magazine and it was filled with ads for PCs and laptops with touchscreen capability and I just have no idea why anyone would want to make this purchase.  Moreover, why are computer manufacturers are using this as a key selling point in their marketing of their products?

Please allow me explicate my problem with this situation in my special rambling way that I only I can.

Awhile back, I wrote that I am over this whole tablet computer thing, and I still am.  I like my iPhone fine, but I need a keyboard to type.  The idea of tapping away on a sheet of glass to write my blog posts seems going for a bike ride (something that I occasionally like doing) on one of those fixed gear bicycles (something that gets you from point A to point B, but makes it unduly harder).  It would take me longer than usual and by the time I finished I would not feel the same sense of accomplishment.  Then there's the fact that I don't know how many times I day I find myself rubbing my phone against my shirt to wipe away the dirt and oils that accumulate on the screen.

But shouldn't I like touchscreens?  I like using my fingers on my iPhone to move around more than the trackball that was on my old Blackberry Pearl.

Nope, not at all.

First off, the ellipticals and treadmills at my gym have touchscreens and they don't work at all.  I wouldn't hate them if I just used the touchscreens to set the time and speed, but they're supposed to have televisions built in and you cannot change the channel with any bit of efficiency.  It recently took me six minutes to get to ESPN because I really wanted to watch something that had ended by the time I got to it.  Plus, why would I want to touch something that is covered in other people's sweat repeatedly?

Next, I cannot tell you how much I hate when someone touches my computer screen, or anything else that I might look at or through for that matter.  I am by no means a neat freak (my girlfriend and former roommates will all sign sworn affidavits stating such); however, I will go apeshit on your ass if you leave a fingerprint on my monitor.  TAKE THE MOUSE AND USE THE CURSOR TO POINT AT WHATEVER YOU WANT TO SHOW ME.  A touchscreen would just invite everyone and their mother to come over and put their hands where I don't want them. 

Finally, I do not see any value the functionality of zooming in on an image on a computer like I do on my iPhone.  If the touchscreen zoom was such an innovative concept then why is Apple not integrating it into the design of their computers?

It's the same reason we don't drive Pontiac Aztecs.  Everything in our lives does not need to be a Swiss Army Knife.  Tacking on a function to a computer may get a small group of people interested in brands like MSI, which I had not heard of until the Hackintosh craze started, but there is no value in that interest in the long run if you do not create something that people really want: a computer that is reliable.

I guarantee you that if a computer brand other than Apple started to advertise reliability as its primary function then that brand will become instantly successful in the American market compared to brands that are manufacturing demand by attempting to create want for something where there is no want.  This may seem like I am going against the tenets of marketing, but companies who are introducing touchscreen functions are ignoring the most important rule and that's knowing the consumer.  They are making the tragic assumption that if the consumer likes something in one place then he or she will love it in another. 

Get back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are The Networks Tricking Us Into Watching Award Shows Again?

It wasn't that long ago when people cared about award shows.  Of course, people primarily cared about the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, and - to a lesser extent - the Grammys.  In fact, people cared so much about these award shows that the networks and big production companies decided it would be a worthwhile venture to make more award shows, which turned out to be a successful venture.  MTV discovered that they can boost their ratings with the Music Video Awards and Movie Awards, ABC and Dick Clark manufactured the American Music Awards and (I believe) the People's Choice Awards.

Anyway, people seemed to have smartened up a bit over the last few years and the ratings for the nonsensical award shows began to fall.  And, just when I thought it was safe to venture back into pop culture observation Kanye West decided to go nuts in front of the country and award shows became culturally relevant to watch again.  (Now, when I say culturally relevant I mean pop culturally relevant as most of these shows really give accolades to what most would consider art.)

So, I wasn't surprised in the least to discover that there was some controversy from the recent American Music Awards.  Apparently, Adam Lambert did something overtly sexual and the social conservatives got aroused, which means they instantly have to complain to ABC. 

I have absolutely no doubt that ABC and Dick Clark Productions hoped something like this would happen.  After all, if audiences begin to believe that crazy things are going to occur during live broadcasts than they might actually tune in, which would drive up the price for ad space. 

Does this mean that we're entering a new age of more horrible award shows?  I guess we'll have to just wait and see.  I think there's a greater chance that there will just be more heavily marketed live events.

Google and Tivo Team Up

While this is hardly a newsflash, Google is positioning itself to take over the advertising universe.  What's their latest move?  MediaWeek reported this today (read the whole thing here):

"Google has signed a license agreement with DVR company TiVo that enables the Internet search provider to integrate TiVo set-top-box viewing data into its measurement of audiences for ads sold through the Google TV Ads platform.

The deal adds approximately 1.6 million subscribers to the universe of set-top boxes that Google TV Ads has to draw on to analyze second-by-second TV viewing behavior of audiences. Google also has a deal with Dish Network and access to more than 13 million set-top boxes via the satellite carrier."

So What Does This Mean For TV Ad Serving and TV Ratings?

On one hand, this is a step toward the inevitable destruction of Nielsen Ratings by Google.  While Tivo customers are a smaller group than cable subscribers with DVRs, 1.6 million people is a big enough sample to make a huge difference for anyone who is gathering behavioral viewing data.  This data will help Google build even smarter profiles of segments.  Smarter profiles mean a greater likelihood of an ad reaching the right segment, and advertisers are willing to pay more.  If the advertisers like what Google is doing for them, they will begin to tell the media companies like Time Warner, Comcast, and Viacom that they want the same service that Google is giving them for their ad buys.  This will then force the media companies to either tell Nielsen to up their game and get the same viewer data, or the media companies and the advertisers will finally force Nielsen out and Google will replace one monopoly with another. 

On the other hand, this is a step in the wrong direction for Google if they really want to crush Nielsen.  As much as I love my Tivo, if Google wants to become the number one ratings research center and ad server then they have to introduce their own DVR and free service to consumers.  This is the sort of slap in the face that only Google can do to cable providers.  Right now cable providers have Tivo on the run.  By partnering with retailers to sell their services in stores, cable companies are getting retailers to exclude Tivo from their shelves and it's working.  (As a bit of anecdotal evidence, my girlfriend and I had to go to three different stores before finding our Tivo at a Best Buy.)  Plus, Tivo has the additional roadblock of the monthly subscription fee.  Some consumers would rather just have a DVR fee tacked on to their cable bill and not think about what they are not getting by owning something that doesn't work as well as a Tivo.  Google is the only entity that could get away with introducing their own DVR and taking away cable providers' revenue from DVR by promising higher ad revenues in return.  Besides, the cable providers would be able to save on the maintenance fees of their extremely cheap and poorly crafted DVRs that they currently have.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Well, My Crazy Rants Were Right!

Hey check this out!  According to the Financial Times, I'm smart:
Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.
Read the whole article here, read my previous rant on the issue here.

Why I Don't Care About This Verizon/AT&T War (And You Shouldn't Either)

I could say (with a bunch of anecdotal evidence) that these Verizon map ads are a load of hoo-ha.  I've driven from both Houston and Chicago to New York City using my Google Maps app to get me there with little or no problems.  I used my iPhone, which is on AT&T if you didn't know, to not only guide my way but also find food, gas and lodging along the interstates of this country.  But, if I were to go into greater detail it would just sound like I am some sort of first mover who is scrambling to justify my purchase to the rest of the world.

I could also say that the court controversy marks a seminal moment in advertising and media law, but when it comes down to it I really don't care right now either.


First, I don't understand why Verizon is using a national ad campaign to say that AT&T's 3G coverage is spotty in various localities.  I think it's extremely foolhardy and a massive waste of money to run these ads in major metropolitan areas where AT&T is popular and works.  The fact of the matter is that most people do not travel enough to see the effects of the coverage map (if there are any) in their daily lives to justify switching phone companies.  Most people only care about the area they line in, and if they're on the road they want to make sure that they can make a phone call and not surf the web.  Seeing that roaming charges are a thing of the past as long as you subscribe to a national carrier, your phone will work wherever anyone's phone will work.

Second, I really don't understand why AT&T is wasting their time and trying to answer to these ads.  I should say that there is a reasonably good chance that they think they are going to lose customers over this campaign, or that people are actually calling them and tying up their customer service lines asking if these spots are true; however, acting on stuff like this is just as foolish.  While there is an increase in the purchasing of smart phones, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that "By April 2009, 19% of Americans said they had yesterday accessed the internet on their mobile," which is up 8% from 2007.  Of course, "accessing the internet" can mean something as simple as checking email.  Compared to the proliferation of other technology based behaviors, this is surprisingly low.  This leads me to believe that most people are buying smart phones for the full keyboards to make texting easier.  (I will admit to having that thought as well.) So, what about the 81% of phone customers who are just using their phones to talk to people?  What about the people are who are having a hard time making ends meet and need a flexible, affordable phone plan?  Why are you wasting your money on this AT&T?  The best advertising is a happy customer base in the cell phone business.  Are these ads keeping your customers happy AT&T?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Complaining About Some Horrible Ads Again

I don't know about you, but I really dislike this new Cisco Telepresence ad featuring Ellen Page. 

Am I supposed to know that Ellen Page is from Nova Scotia, or do I need to watch this ad a hundred times to notice the sign in front of the doctor's office?  I think the people who made this spot took way too many liberties in assuming the audience loves Ellen Page.  I mean I like her, but not enough to care about her doctor visits.

Plus, this ad is supposed to show the benefits of Telepresence in health care. Does it even really succeed at that? From the point of view that video conferencing used to be 10 frames a second with huge delays, I guess it succeeds; however, this ad makes me not care.

Now just when I thought this was my least favorite spot on television, I see this.

While this ad follows the Gap's successful formula of showing people dancing around in their clothes, I find this whole cheerleading meets "America's Best Dance Crew" thing to be obnoxious. Would it be better if they played holiday song in the background rather than the cheering? Probably.  The combination of voices barking "GO CHRISTMAS! GO HANUKKAH! GO KWANZAA! GO SOLSTICE!" at me is horrifying.

As a kid, I might have been happy to see that Jews (like myself), African Americans and agnostics or atheists were included in this ad. I would have felt that it was an invitation to celebrate in this season of giving along side everyone else. As a disgruntled adult with a weary eye toward consumerism, I find annoying that they think they need to pander to people like me in hopes that I'll come into one of their stores and assimilate even more than I already have.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Warren Buffet Reads My Blog... Well Not Really

So, it's starting to look like the folks at Goldman Sachs are paying attention to the PR people that they have hired to help repair their image.

Today the New York Times reported the following:
"After first staunchly defending its outsize profits and pay, and then bristling at calls for restraint in these tough economic times, Goldman is trying a new tack: It is apologizing for past mistakes that led to the financial crisis — and sharing at least some of its riches.
A little more than a week after Goldman’s chairman and chief executive drew fire for saying the Wall Street giant was “doing God’s work,” the bank said Tuesday that it would spend $500 million — or about 3 percent of the $16.7 billion it has so far set aside to pay its employees this year — to help thousands of small businesses recover from the recession."
You can read the whole article here.

Is this a victory for smart image control?  We'll have to wait and see.  I feel that this is a step in the right direction; however, is $500 million really enough? (Yeah, I just asked that.) 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thoughts on Murdoch's Proposed Ban of Google

“We’d rather have fewer people coming to our Web site but paying.”

On Monday, Sky News Australia (one of the many parts of News Corporation) released an interview with their chief Rupert Murdoch.  Among the many topics he discussed that day, Murdoch talked about the possibility of blocking Google from searching their content.

If Murdoch were to pull his content from Google it would be the first real power play against Google in some time.  Looking at the News Corporation roster of publications, publishers, networks, and social networks, one can see that it consitutes gigantic chunk of the internet landscape.  Can Google afford to lose the traffic of people searching for something a person saw in the Wall Street Journal, NY Post, etc.?

Murdoch has a pretty good search engine in Factiva, thus people can find most of his news content online with some ease (obviously, it's not free).  Factiva is not as easy to use as Google in some aspects, but better in others.  Plus, this could give Murdoch the opportunity to forge an allegiance with Yahoo/Bing which would definitely add to the value proposition to consumers who are searching for certain content.  Therein lies the most critical issue for Google.  If this were to happen, could it be possible that a this partnership could challenge Google's dominance in their field?

Coca Cola Brands Buskers?

In a past life not so long ago, you might have caught my friends and me on a street corner trying to earn some beer money by hammering through a bunch of songs.  Busking - as it's called to those who don't know - is a fun way for musicians to test market new material.  If people stop and listen you know that you're on the right track.  If they throw in some change you're even better.  (Of course, you are then obliged to play a request.)

So, it was with some surprise when I discovered at that
Coca-Cola will be throwing their money into the guitar cases of London's Tube Buskers throughout the holiday season to push Coke's jingles.  I could go on some diatribe about how corporations are stepping on artistic integrity, but this is so much better than Christmas carolers.  Besides it's a brilliant move.  Whether in New York, London or any other metropolitan area, buskers play a key role in the aesthetic of the environment.  They have the ability to turn the mundane commute into a new (and usually positive) experience.  Cheers to Coca-Cola for trying something different.

And The Heads Rolled...

Hey party people it looks like I was on to something with my gripes about Pepsi's "Amp Up Before You Score" App.  Commence the gloating!

"NEW YORK ( -- PepsiCo is making some major changes to its digital-advertising roster, and its traditional agency partners on beverage brands are conspicuously absent
Meanwhile, PepsiCo is conducting a digital agency review for its Amp brand; R/GA, an Interpublic-owned agency, previously handled the work, but not under an agency-of-record distinction. R/GA was responsible for the controversial "Amp Up Before You Score App," which Pepsi dumped last month. According to an executive familiar with the matter, R/GA resigned the business before the release of that app."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rebranding Wall Street Part Two

Rebranding Wall Street Part 2

In my last post I talked about the need for Wall Street firms to rebrand themselves and what they had to do to internally to begin the process. Compared to the suggestions that I made for that part, the external changes are going to be a cakewalk.

So, here are my thoughts on what Wall Street firms can do in an external rebranding effort.

Step One: When Your Executives Give Interviews, Hire Some PR People To Prevent The Following

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Goldman Sachs Does God's Work

Colbert Report Full Episodes
Political Humor
U.S. Speedskating

Seriously, what were the Goldman Sachs communications people thinking?  It doesn't matter if the comments were taken out of the context, which they were in this case. (Read the full interview here.)

Of course, Blankfein did not do everything wrong.  In explaining the purpose of an investment bank he states the following, "We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle."

It's okay to speak with candor, but you have to be careful.  In the end, people are not going to hear that investment banks grow the economy.  They are going to hear that the execs think they are doing "God's work" and they will assume the worst about the people at the helm of the economy.

Step Two: Make (New) Ads

Yup, that's right they need to make new ads, or ads for the first time.  Ads that say, "We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth."

Although, I wonder about the word "wealth."  Seeing that most Americans lack wealth, it might be good to use a word like "opportunity."  While Bank of America is currently trying to make themselves "The Bank of Opportunity," it's a good word and there are plenty of other synonyms that can be used to convey the same notion.

Step Three: The Big Media Buy

A big media buy is not about getting more clients or growing the business.  This is purely about defining the term "investment bank" to the American public, which is a great opportunity.  Why?  Because, in reality, there is not a definition outside a finance class that a person takes in college.  This economic meltdown is making the average citizen curious; thus, most of them turn on their televisions or their computers to figure out who these investment bankers really are in relation to their own lives.  Right now, a big media buy, can steer the opinions of a larger group of people than any other period in history (in regards to the idea of an investment bank).

As I said in the first post on rebranding Wall Street, the internal branding efforts are going to be more difficult.  The external portion is really as easy I just described.  Obviously, each communication strategy will need the careful handling of professionals, but now is the time to act.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rebranding Wall Street

GAAAAHHHH! I hate Wall Street! Or, at least, I think I hate Wall Street. I really don't have any contact with them other than my bank account, which isn't really a Wall Street firm and wasn't bailed out. In fact, the only contact that I do have with them is all the news that I watch. So, I guess it's pretty easy for me to dislike them right now along with a majority of Americans.

Early in my career, I worked for a company that prided itself on not being well known outside of their industry and the investing institutions. They had been burned in the past, and it was understandable that wanted to reposition their brand to speak directly to specific groups of stakeholders who did business with the company on a regular basis. Personally, I don't think it was the best strategy in the world, but it worked. It built up the credibility among those who needed to know and turned them into advocates for the organization.

Unfortunately for Wall Street, this strategy will not work for them and it probably never would have in the past. The financial crisis exposed a crisis in branding that no one could have ever expected. In a way the brand of Wall Street was somewhere between the gold plated, tacky world of Donald Trump and the actual Wizard of Oz (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain). There was wealth, power and a mystique that outsiders would never really understand. And, it worked. It attracted top talent from universities and other industries and created machines whose only purpose was to print money. It worked so well that they became the keystone of our economy. Whether you were starting a business that made tangible objects for other human beings to consume or refinancing mortgages, the money passed through Wall Street in some way.

Turning every person on earth who handles currency or eats rice into a stakeholder, Wall Street had a lot of people to answer to when the economy went down the toilet and they didn't. They relied on mystique elements of their brand and said, "Don't worry we'll figure this out and after we save ourselves you will magically be okay." Now, their credibility is gone and it's time to build a new promise. But, it's going to take more than a new logo and a few ad buys. There has to be an inside out rebranding.

So, here - without further ado - is what I would do to fix Wall Street's image.

Part One: The Internal Struggle

Corporate culture plays a key role in branding. The people who make up the organization and their attitudes toward create an often neglected element of the brand. For example, if everyone hated working for Berkshire Hathaway or Google or Microsoft the information would eventually get out, especially in the digital age that we are living in, this information would eventually reach the other organizations that the company does business with and make these companies think twice about doing business with them. This phenomena is magnified if everyone who works for a company is -pardon my French - an asshole. I can remember conversations with a few people in the risk management industry telling me stories of how a certain underwriter was filled with employees who were less than savory individuals. When that company found itself in big trouble and needed to assure clients that they were stable it was difficult fight not only because they had to explain their financial stability but also pretend like they were buddy-buddy in the past.

Therefore, the first step in rebranding Wall Street is probably the most difficult: they must change the internal attitudes of employees to show that they care a little about what happens in the world outside of Lower Manhattan. In an interview with Fresh Air on NPR, New York Times writer Andrew Ross Sorkin discussed how then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson viewed his former company Goldman Sachs. For better or worse, Paulson saw that if his old ship sank the next big company to fall would not be another bank, but General Electric. This egocentric attitude turned out to be a good thing in that we avoided an even greater catastrophe; however, I could not escape the thought that it takes time to nurture such ideas within an organization. Plus, once these concepts take hold they begin to steer that company's outlook.

But, how can you humble a bunch of hotshots?

As it turns out, it's not about humbling. It's about instituting the idea within this organization that they are connected to the economy and their communities. When I worked for Dow Chemical, they had nurtured the idea that each office and plant - wherever they might be - plays a role in the day to day lives of people that they don't see. Rather than purchasing logo space on European soccer jerseys or buying the naming rights to a building to get their brand out, they helped their brand by treating their employees well and helping them get involved with simple things like charities. Each community then viewed the employees like a normal neighbor and opinions of the organization as a whole went up.

So what can a Wall Street firm do?

Right now, things are going to have to be drastic. When it comes to topics that anger the common person like myself, nothing boils my blood more than bonuses. (I can understand that the company wants to reward its employees for a job well done, but just giving the money to those behind the wall isn't changing my perception of them.) Substantial portions of gigantic bonuses at the top will either need to be returned or donated. Then the company has to announce that they will consider reinvesting the quarterly profit in the economy to continue growth, rather than just giving to themselves money to buy yachts. After all, these companies are investment banks and they should be investing.

Next, the companies need to focus on their personnel by instilling a culture of responsibility and integrity. In the wake of the Enron collapse, anyone who dealt with energy trading in any form had to go through serious training to eradicate the bad behaviors of the past that had gone unmitigated. In addition, energy trading floors hired an equal number of risk managers to traders. This quickly killed the casino mentality that once ruled the room. (Now, I am not saying that it was a panacea but it definitely helped.) The problem personnel either quit or were fired because of their behavior. If the investment banks took a harder line on their individual risk management in their day to day operations, it might bring back the rational notion of slow, strong growth to the business as opposed to the overnight success stories they loved to tell.

What will happen if they don't make these internal changes?

If Wall Street is unwilling to change its ways the people are only going to get angrier, and in the short run this won't mean a thing because we cannot do much about from the outside. What the angry mob can do is vote and elect leaders who will place restrictions on these companies that will be more cumbersome and more irrational than any controls that they could put in place on their own. Yes, these banks have plenty of money to pay for lobbyists but there will be a tipping point. All Wall Street needs to do is look back a few years the collapse of the big accounting firms like Anderson to see that if the government steps in again, they are going to get a Sarbanes Oxley before another bailout.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Time Off

Sorry kiddies, I've got a family emergency and will not be posting for a bit. I'll be back by the end of the week.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Me Vs. Someone Smarter - Commenting on Antony Young's Thoughts on Hulu

Antony Young is a smart guy. He's the CEO of a smart agency, Optimedia, which does a lot smart work. But, just because Mr. Young is so smart doesn't mean that we all have to agree with everything he says. Last Friday, Advertising Age ran a piece he wrote that urges NBC, Disney and Fox to reconsider their relationship with Hulu, which is a joint venture between NBC and Fox. (You can read in it's entirety here. )

So, anyway here are my comments in italics after his.

'We have to do this, otherwise others will'
Wrong. "Others" don't have the desirable, premium content that these networks own. These days, it is the networks that have the technological and legal means to largely control where and how an episode such as "Lost" can be viewed. However, Hulu is training the viewer to time shift out of prime-time. And this is eating away at the very economics that support the investment in creative development and production. Advertising, subscription and home entertainment revenues are the only workable model I can see to fund the cost and quality of TV content, beyond public broadcasting.

While I do agree that ad revenues fund the cost production for these studios, I disagree that that "'others' don't have desirable, premium content that these networks own." Executives - especially executives in media buying - need to come to terms with the fact that illegal downloads are not going away. Plus, with the economy down and connectivity speeds increasing on a regular basis, I'll bet you these downloads will increase and possibly take big chunks of specific demographics that media buyers find very profitable out off of television.

'The consumers want it, therefore we better give it to them'
Consumers want a lot of things they can't have. I'd love to have free meals at Denny's every day, or zero delays in and out of JFK, or environmentally friendly gas. But it just doesn't make business or financial sense for companies to provide this. Consumers understand this and they aren't demanding anytime, anywhere access to premium TV at no cost, but if it was offered up then they'd be mugs not to take it. TV should learn its lesson from the publishing industry. Almost every major magazine raced to put their content online, without, in my view, a clear strategy other than, "We need to put our content up there because there's an audience waiting." That ill-informed logic has ripped the heart out of the print business, in which there seems to be no way back.

I think television industry needs to look at the music industry before they look at print. First off, their products share more similarities than with print media, including substantially higher costs of production. Second, the music industry was completely unwilling to update to technological developments that were coming down the pipeline, and despite making a product that has demand they are still reeling to figure out a business plan because they thought they could ignore the internet. With consumer electronics changing every day, ignoring consumers and their big expenditures seems like a bad move too.

'Hulu is helping to increase TV audiences'

As a person that follows the ratings fairly closely, I can see no data that conclusively supports this. CBS continues to be the strongest Nielsen-rated network without the assistance of Hulu. Many of the premium cable channels that limit their content online are showing solid audience gains. I can see the sense in supporting selected catch-up episodes for program series, but the breadth and next-day access to prime-time shows, quite frankly, seems to be an incentive for smaller audiences. There's no evidence that newspaper websites are doing anything but eroding newspaper print circulations.

Okay, I agree with that. But, once again, as technology improves the information gleaned from these "smaller audiences" may end up being profitable. However, we also know that Nielsen's television ratings system may soon be a thing of the past. Relying on Nielsen in an argument now may make you look as though you were defending phrenology in ten years.

So here's the rub.

As a media buyer, I have no vested interest in whether the broadcaster shareholders support Hulu or not. Our livelihood as an agency relies neither on supporting the status quo of traditional media nor blindly pushing the popular wisdom of digital everything. Optimedia as an agency has shifted decent budgets into Hulu this past year and we will continue to support this media company with advertising dollars as it grows audience and influence.

But in putting on my business-consultant hat for a moment, my advice to Jeff Zucker, Peter Rice and Bob Iger is: you need to reevaluate your Hulu strategy. Commercial TV still has plenty of life in it yet. So let it live. And turn off Hulu before it turns you off.

Okay, I understand your argument; but, it sounds like you're saying "the ship is sinking but it's more of a Lusitania than a Titanic so let's go sip champagne and play shuffle board while we wait for the rescue boat."

If the studios don't figure this out now, then they are going to have to invest more in smaller programming for smaller audiences. While I love shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and think the world would be a better place if more programming was akin to their style, the cost of producing that many shows could be much larger. From a media buying perspective, this super fragmentation of the audience would make life easier because audiences would be better defined and advertisers might actually pay more knowing that they can speak directly to a group without a disinterested halo forming.

Hulu is not perfect by any means. I actually prefer streaming video through Netflix. If Hulu were to raise their streaming quality to that of Netflix, then maybe people will pay for it. As for now, don't throw the baby out with the bath water and pull the plug on Hulu.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Levis, You're So Mayo and So Are You Miracle Whip

I like pants just as much as any person out there. In fact, my favorite pair of pants are my Levi's 501s. The San Francisco brand is obviously facing competition on both the low and high end, so it's understandable that they would want to invest in strengthening their image with a fancy ad campaign. So... Why not have some crackly voice reading Walt Whitman with unsexy hipster like people?

What's really funny is that the font that is used in this spot is eerily similar to something... Oh wait! Here it is!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seriously Yahoo, What's This Rebranding All About?

Yahoo took their rebranding to the streets recently with a bunch of lame spots that look like they could have come from any point in the existence of the internet. I really don't know what they were thinking that personalizing a homepage and saving search information would be the thing to bring people back from iGoogle or The New York Times or any other popular homepage. Personalization had been a staple selling point of ISPs like AOL or Prodigy, why bring that back?

I can understand that as Bing is being introduced into the Yahoo platform they may be able to say that a user will have better ads served while searching, but this doesn't come close to that. Moreover, if there is one lesson to be learned in the search engine wars it's that better ads do not attract users, it's just better searches.

Finally, the some of the models selected for this campaign look like American Apparel ads without the ironic 80s porn vibe, which is what barely makes American Apparel interesting. (In fact, they are now using real porn stars thus making their ads even less ironic. I was going to put a link to the ad, but I decided to avoid the porn searching traffic so just look it up at Google Images, you cannot miss it.) So, here we have Yahoo trying to hit on this concept while still attempting to keep it family friendly. Maybe my mind is buried too deeply in the cognitive dissonance of the advertising world, but what in this campaign is bringing minds back to Yahoo? Why do they think that this reduction to vague simplicity is going to win back users?

Apparently, I am not alone in my disdain for this campaign as Advertising Age reported today that Yahoo has brought in Goodby Silverstein & Partners to help move this thing in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

At Least This Makes Sarah Palin Look Bad

I tried to play it fair during the election and point out gaffes and communication problems with an even hand, but now that we're far enough into the year I might as well say that anything that makes the Palin family look foolish is fine by me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

How Are Apps Changing Experiential Marketing?

With tons of iPhone, Blackberry, and Android product related apps coming out every day, I am beginning to wonder about the changing dynamics experiential marketing. When I first left home and headed to college, I found myself knee deep in brands trying to make me a loyalist through interaction. The most common form of experiential marketing came through the free sample. Lately, I feel like marketers are moving away form the sample and straight to the buzz generating that phone apps can create. But, I keep coming back to the question: Is it worth the investment?

On one side of the argument, an app can bring a brand to people who may or may not interact with it on a regular basis. Take the Pizza Hut app as an example:

Unless a customer is extremely familiar with The Hut's menu and the local phone number, he or she will have to go dig through the menu drawer in the the kitchen to look for a coupon where the customer could find another pizza delivery deal. The Pizza Hut application circumvents this treacherous behavior.

However, most importantly, the app serves a purpose because it brings the products to the consumer.

Is this better than handing out a free pizza like Orpah and Kentucky Grilled Chicken? It all depends on the roll out. In this case, Pizza Hut got the app on a recent iPhone 3Gs commercial and the equation was balanced out. Buzz was generated, the app was downloaded, and pizzas were purchased.

Even - and much to my surprise - apps for banks are worthwhile as long as you never lose you phone. In the midst of the economic crisis, banks were pushing out apps and I was screaming, "You're doing this with my money!" like an irate account director; yet, they proved to be pretty useful for people like me. As a marketing tool, these apps are actually a selling point as long they are functionally good.

From an experiential marketing standpoint, apps like this are neutralizing the banking experience, which is exactly what they need. The less I interact with human beings, the less likely I am to have a nervous breakdown in public. The only way to generate buzz in banking lately seems to come from two strategies:

1) Make the experience as easy and painless as possible.
2) Offer things like interest, which Chase and Citi do not pay on checking and savings accounts.

After all, who would expect a bank to pay you for holding your money? They should have the right to take out $6.00 a month for inactivity... That's a fight for another day. Since banks cannot follow through on the simple promises anymore, reliable apps are a great way to keep their customer base in line and keep them talking positively about their bank.

On the other side of the argument you have apps sponsored by consumer products. The other day I wrote about Pepsi's "Amp Up Before You Score" and why it will not generate the right buzz for the product.

What is the right buzz for Amp? In my mind, it has to be "it tastes/works/makes me feel better than Red Bull." Product differentiation in the mind of the consumer will not come from establishing a link to a lifestyle in all cases, especially in a market with such a low barrier of entry.

Besides, if you really want males to drink amp to gain courage you need to be where they think they need courage most, bars. There are tons of promotion companies out there who are ready and able to have samples at the hottest spots, and - most importantly - they know the local market.

With this in mind, can a CPG have a good app? Yes, but it really should lead the individual toward purchasing the product. Branded entertainment can only get people so excited, and trying to be hip cannot replace quality.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pepsi Invents the App for Ultra Douche Bags!

Well, Apple's app ads have proven themselves right again; there really is an app for everyone.

Now mega-losers can pretend to have sexual conquests and share their fish-tales with their mega-loser friends with the "Amp Up Before You Score App." But, will this get these guys to put down their Jager bombs and Heinekens, and pick up their iPhones? More importantly, will it get males 18 to 35 to switch from Red Bull to Amp?

No, probably not.

Let's look at another product that markets to the aspirational residents of the Jersey shore, Axe. Being a male right in the the middle of the 18 to 35 demo, I can honestly tell you that 99.99% percent of the males I interact with do not purchase Axe brand products. So, how do they move so much product?

It turns out that all I have to do is ask my girlfriend who teaches 6th graders. A quick ethnography will show you that the boys look up to the men in the Axe ads, and purchase the products in hopes of getting assaulted by packs of women. Therefore, this app would be perfect for them but they don't have iPhones. (Yes, some of them have iPod Touches but that's a pretty small group.) This doesn't really seem like a good investment from that point of view.

I think branded content can be extremely effective if it's implemented in the right way. Just trying to be fun, cool, or even innovative is not going to cut it. There must be an endgame that brings the consumer's consciousness to the product throughout the interaction.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Week In Review

Hey kiddies, let's take a look at what happened this week.

Ralph Lauren Makes a Bratz Doll

Uh oh! Ralph Lauren released a severely photo-shopped print ad this week instantly upsetting - and for good reason - every woman's rights group in existence. The unintentional comedy factor of the model's hand on her hip makes it seem like she is propping up her improbable torso.

Advertisers Stay With Letterman

After an extortion attempt from a crazed CBS employee regarding his affairs with staff members, David Letterman apologized to his wife on air and got huge ratings. So, it comes as no surprise that advertisers are not going anywhere. Lesson: Eyes = Ad $s.

The Stay Puff Marshmallow Man Fights for Good.

TBWA/Chiat/Day rocked with this beautiful new spot running across the air waves. It has given new life to an old brand icon by turning the Michelin Man from guy who lost his puppy (see below) into a defender of gas mileage. This feels like the first ad in a long time from the manufacturer that had some real confidence to it. While the ad below trumpets reliability, this new spot speaks directly to a need that is at the forefront of the consumer's mind.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Say Goodbye to Viva Viagra

Today, AdAge has reported that Pfizer is switching agencies from McCann Erickson to McGarryBowen. I can only hope that this will finally mean the end of the Viva Viagra campaign.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Their Protests Are Better

(Photo from New York Times)

Walk around New York City, or any major metropolitan area here in the US, and you're bound to see some sort of protest. When it comes to communication and moving along a message these assemblies - whether drum circles or tea parties - never seem to leave anyone swayed.

Over in Europe, they still know how to storm the Bastille. In fact, they are still so good at protesting that when dairy farmers take to the streets this photo hits the homepage of the New York Times.

More to come a little later today...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Absolute Worst Ad of The Year

There have been some lousy ads made this year but none quite as totally horrible as this:

For the background on how this whole thing unfolded click here.

Rather than focus on the obvious of stating why this ad is an abomination, let's take a look at what the World Wildlife Fund did in reaction. First, if you were to go to YouTube and search WWF 911 ad you will find that the WWF has paid to have the following spot come up first.

As far as apologies go, Mr. Roberts hits all of the topics needed.

1) As the chief representative of the organization, he said why he was apologizing.

"I cannot imagine any sane individual using those images to advance any cause."

2) He said what they are doing.

"We are reviewing all the circumstances that led to this ad."

3) He said what they are going to do about it.

"... And we will do everything within our power to remove it from the internet and everywhere else that it exists."

Now that a month has passed, it's easy to see that the WWF has not reached its goal of getting the spot off of the internet. They've done a pretty good job of making sure that their statement and video comes up first, which is very important, but they have yet to delete it from the cloud. It will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming months as the organization moves forward.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Audio Audit: GM Makes A Good Choice?

A few months ago, I wrote about the French pop rock band Phoenix and how they were sharing the samples to a few of their songs off of their record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It was great way to get the word out about their music, but it didn't hurt that it was a genuinely good music.

It was so good that the people running the Cadillac account bought the rights to "1901," which is what you here in the spot for the 2010 SRX ad:

If this GM trying to be hip with the Cadillac brand, then it's not really enough; however, it's the step in the right direction. (This spot is a heck of a lot better than the Kate Walsh ads they were running up until recently.) They need to try to connect with the younger consumer, but is the younger consumer really shopping for these crossovers? I'd like to see data on what age groups are buying these cars.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Worst Ads 2009: Part 1

Now that the year is almost over, it's time to look back at the best and worsts of 2009. Today, we'll look at two in particular.

It's Just Not Burger King's Year in Spain

First, came this print spot below, which features a dwarf luchador beside a cowboy. Of course, it didn't take long to upset the entire country of Mexico. I don't need to go through all the reason this can be viewed as offensive; however, I will say that it encapsulates the need for someone at corporations and agencies to understand that it's great to act local, but not needs to still think global.

Then, this ad appeared in Spanish franchises.

I don't know about you, but there's nothing more mutually exclusive than a religious icon (in this case it's the goddess Lakshmi) and a ham sandwich. It didn't take long for Hindus in Spain and around the world to get these in store posters pulled, but the damage was already done. Burger King had egg all over it's face and a few hundred million dissatisfied customers.

The Year in Sexism

Just when I thought this Burger King ad would be the best of the worst when it came to sexism, which would make this the worst year for BK ever; luckily, this spot for Max, a European shoe company, took away the spotlight.

Nothing says insensitivity and misogyny like bondage. What were they thinking?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NYC Serves Up A Glass of Lard

Okay, Mr. Bloomberg we get it. We understand that there are food items being sold in your city that are not good for us. Personally, I think it's great that you forced restaurants to show their calories next to the prices, but these PSAs that I see on the subway might be pushing the ethical boundaries of advertisements.

It would be one thing to use a nondescript soda bottle in this ad, but it's another to use one with the distinct shape of a Coca-Cola product. The makers of PSAs need to face the fact that one photo making one company look bad does not make the competitor look bad. In the minds of some consumers this ad could even affirm Pepsi products over the competition.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Target Practice: Connecting Your Brand to the Right People in the Recession

I’m glad that Fed Chairman Bernanke thinks that the recession is wrapping up just as much as anyone else. But, if you’re not working on Wall Street, then it’s tough to feel the wind changing directions.

For the rest of us, it still feels like we’re knee deep in economic sludge. So, what do you do if your brand needs to connect with young folks who might be a little too focused on the economic news out there?

Well, according to the Pew Internet and American Life study, it turns out that this same group of young adults is also using the internet as a diversion. What do they classify as a diversion?

Listening to music and watching online videos are among the most common of the activities we evaluated; roughly half of all online economic users have done each of these activities to relax. Approximately one-third of online economic users have played online games or chatted with friends (on a social networking site, listserv or other online group), while an additional 22% have taken their minds off of their economic or financial circumstances by creating or posting content online.

Young Americans in particular go online in great numbers to relax by watching videos, listening to music, playing games or chatting with friends.”

- Pew

Before you say, “Well duh,” please hear me out on why this information is a little more important.

1) First and foremost, you’re not paying for this information so stop whining. Plus, there won’t be people in your office running around yelling, “Who wasted money to study this?!”

2) Assumptions, even if they are correct, are still assumptions. Any bit of information that fills the gap between a hypothesis and a conclusion is worth knowing, even if it’s the answer to a seemingly obvious question.

3) This information is actually very interesting. Another way to interpret the findings of this study is that (like television news presenting negative stories and people changing the channel to less thought provoking entertainment) people who are heavily informed about current economic events are not so discouraged that they are turning their computers off. In fact, this study is stating the opposite, so get out there and start connecting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I entered a freevertising contest...

Recently, Amazon ran an ad contest and my buddy Deva and I decided to give it a shot. While neither of us is a videographer of great skill, I had been cooking a concept of a single shot ad in the back of my head; thus, in theory, the spot wouldn't require a lot of post-production.

So what were we trying to do?

We decided that the Amazon box is the only tangible part of Amazon that all customers handle at some point. In fact, people get excited to see the Amazon smile waiting for them at their front door. So, we created a diorama to exhibit images that elicit the fun things you can get from Amazon. Take a look:

While putting this whole thing together, my girlfriend kept saying it was cute but her cat is cuter, and if we were looking for cute then we were missing the jackpot. We shot 30 seconds of trying to take the cat for a walk with a leash that she jokingly purchased a few years ago.

"Two years, I've been trying to train him to the leash!" she says. This is how she far she's progressed with him:

Even though we didn't win (apparently real filmmakers enter these competitions) it was a great experience. Plus, I got to make some music, which was fun.

Okay, I'll make a real post next time...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Interesting Updates from the Pew Internet and American Life Project

Back in July, the folks at Pew released the findings of another study in their Internet and American Life Project. The study entitled “The Audience for Online Video-Sharing Sites Shoots Up” contains many exciting new insights for marketers.

“Watching online videos on sites like YouTube is more prevalent than the use of social networking sites (46% of adult internet users are active on such sites), podcast downloading (19% of internet users do this) and the use of status updating sites like Twitter (11% of internet users do this).

Message to advertisers trying to reach the described “adult internet users” group: it’s time to move your money away from Facebook and MySpace, and start working with YouTube and Hulu.

Personally, I think that Hulu tends to gain more from this finding because they have established the presence of advertisements in their video content with users. YouTube is a mix of self-made and professional work, and the small ads that pop up at the bottom are pretty annoying. However, YouTube has the tools in place for advertisers to see where their entire universe of content is moving. With this amount of “Long Tail” data at their hands, they might be able to effectively incorporate behavioral data on a new level.

“Nine in ten internet users ages 18-29 use video sharing sites, up from 72% one year ago.”

I just find this fact stunning. There are only a few other nearly universal facts about internet users ages 18-29, like they have access to a computer or they breath oxygen. This finding raises some interesting questions.

1) How much investment in internet video is too much? Are we really ready to let Google control this universe?

2) Should businesses invest in creating their own video playing website like Fox and NBC have with Hulu? P&G presents TideTube?

3) Is this really the apex of internet use for now?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Michael Vick, The Eagles, and Sports Marketing

Image from Newsday

As a Bears fan, I chuckled at the Eagles signing of Michael Vick. Say what you will about the organization being a stand-up entity, this is still the team with fans who throw whatever they can find on the field and boo their future Hall of Fame quarterback on his draft day.

The home crowd will make or break Vick’s future with marketers. Winning the city of Philadelphia over is hard, but if I am his publicity team here’s what I would do aside from giving 50% of his money to the ASPCA:

1) Turn him into Rocky.

Philadelphia is the underdog capitol of the universe. Until the Phillies’ World Series victory last year, it seems like the last win the city had was the American Revolution. If you show the fans how much he has lost and how hard he is working to get it back, they may begin to respect him.

2) Keep him out of the news.

The only mentions of Vick should be on the sports page for the next 5 months. Don’t advertise any of the positive stuff. His playing time is the only thing that can bring marketers back. His image must be performance.

3) Turn down initial sponsorship offers.

Seriously. Eventually the information will get out that Vick is turning down chances to make money, which adds to the aura of seriousness.

Numbers 2 and 3 were integral to the reestablishment of Kobe Bryant. During and after the Eagle, Colorado trial, Bryant lost many of his sponsorships. Over the last three years, he has rehabilitated his image not by attaching his name to causes but by focusing on his game play. The sponsorships have since come back and the trial is a distant memory.

Monday, August 17, 2009

And We're Back! And So Is GMAC Bank?

Back from my vacation for real... let's get to it.

GMAC Bank rebranded itself as Ally Bank and they brought in BBH to create the image of a consumer friendly, "new" bank.

As far as introductions go, I feel like this is a home run. BBH turned the doubly toxic asset of GMAC Bank's brand - an article of pure cynicism and criticism - into the snarky commentator of its competitors. As of now, this campaign is the best in the financial services arena since the economic downturn. Of course, it's not too tough when you're compared to vanilla stuff like this: