Category Archives: Media

I’m Guessing They Haven’t Heard of Twitter

My buddy Mike Z passed along a portion of a job description from a local broadcasting company in upstate NY:

“Expected to log onto the computer on a daily basis and use department electronic mail and message boards to receive and send messages important to the department’s objectives. Also, expected to check mailbox, voice mail and e-mail messages periodically throughout the day.”

I suggest they add the following, just so there’s no gray area: “Upon arrival each day,  expected to greet co-workers, proceed to assigned workspace, and sit in chair. Also expected to consume food, drink coffee (or other preferred beverage) and take potty breaks at established intervals throughout the day.”


What Drives Word of Mouth? Interesting Content

Compelling content will drive word of mouth for your brand, even if that content is irreverant and in the form of *gasp* a 30-second spot on broadcast TV. Exhibit A: McDonald’s talking fish. 

YouTube views of most popular posting of the spot: 246,757 <warning: this tune will stick in your head like spackling paste>

Google blog search results for “McDonald’s talking fish”: 29,921

Members of McDonald’s Filet O Fish Commercial fan club on Facebook: 289 

The spot’s been running for two weeks.

Social Media and Skittles

In about the time it takes to down a bag of Sour Skittles, a handful of nitwits hijacked the redesigned website, which Mars Snackfood relaunched over the weekend as an aggregator of user-generated Skittles content.  The new home page features the deep, Skittles-related insights of Twitter nation, and a few morons quickly figured out this was a cool way to post random obscenities on a company’s public website. Even better if that brand sells candy to kids! 

The new Skittles site also pulls in content from Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook. That’s it – nothing from the company except a feedback form and its video ads (via YouTube). In other words, Mars has turned over its Skittles brand strategy to the unwashed masses. Bad idea. The point is that social media should inform marketing strategy – it shouldn’t be the strategy. This is a nice gimmick, but I doubt it will have any staying power – and it won’t do much good for the Skittles brand.

Article: The New Reality of TV Advertising

I have the cover story in the latest issue of The Advertiser magazine. The topic is interactive TV, specifically how a bunch of different players are hoping to make TV a lot more “web-like” in both functionality and measurability. The nut graf(s):

After years of fits and starts trying to turn the concept of interactive TV into a broadly based reality, a collection of service providers, technology companies, agencies, and marketers finally seems to be making some legitimate headway in transforming TV into a more addressable, more targetable, and more measurable advertising medium.

Sure, we’ve seen this dance before. For years, we’ve been hearing promises of two-way engagement, better buying and measurement systems, and addressable ads for TV viewers. But real milestones have been elusive in an industry known more for inertia than innovation.

Something feels different now, however.

Execs from Google, Unilever, Lenovo, Canoe Ventures and others weighed in on the topic.

Marketers Sick of Web 2.0? Not So Fast

Survey results released this week from the Marketing Executives Networking Group and Anderson Analytics are getting a lot of play in the blogosphere, particularly this nugget from the press release:

Twice as many marketers are “sick” of hearing about Web 2.0 and related buzzwords such as “blogs” and “social networking” compared to last year’s survey; however, marketers still admit they don’t know enough about it.  This was evident in the results of a social media study MENG released on November 6, 2008 showing 67% of executive marketers consider themselves beginners when it comes to using social media for marketing purposes.

A couple of points here. First, only 19.4% of the 643 respondents said they were tired of hearing the term “Web 2.0” (up from 9.1% a year ago), 12.2 % said the same about “social networking”, and 11.3% cited “social media” as a term they had tired of. Not exactly overwhelming condemnation of the concepts. And it’s no surprise that the year-over-year numbers would go up, considering those terms generate an endless drumbeat of media coverage. Hell, I’m sick of hearing about/reading about/saying them myself.

What the press release and subsequent coverage of the survey overlook is that when the respondents were asked what they considered to be the most important marketing concepts, the percentages citing “word of mouth,” “social network sites,” “viral marketing,” “Web 2.0,” and “consumer generated media” all rose year-to-year. Granted, these categories did not crack the respondents’ top 10 priorities (word of mouth was #11), but it’s clear that these concepts are rising in importance, even as the buzzwords themselves are becoming cliche.

The greater concern should be whether marketers will be able to sustain any progress they’ve made with their social media marketing programs. With more than half the respondents noting that their ’09 budgets have been reduced, the tendency will be to fall back on more traditional investments like sales promotions, which are viewed as safer bets than the experimentation that goes into identifying social media strategies that really work. The sales folks will be happy, but innovation will take a hit. So even though 79% of the execs in the MENG survey said that customer satisfaction was their top priority, customers can expect to be subjected to the same hard-sell tactics that have become so annoying (and so easy to ignore). Talk about tired.

The Future of Journalism

Great piece from Nieman Reports by BusinessWeek editor John Byrne titled “The changing truths of journalism.” He talks about how context is as important as the content itself and explains why publishers need to become “editorial curators” – sifting through and organizing articles (regardless of the source) and serving them back to communities of readers. Skip the first few grafs and get into the meat of how magazines and newspapers need to evolve in order to survive – as evidenced by BusinessWeek’s recent launch of Business Exchange, a series of online microcommunities organized (by readers) around vertical topics. Worth the read.

Proof that the Mass Market Is Not Dead, Just … Different

The backlash against Johnson & Johnson over its ill-conceived Motrin ad proves that the mass market is alive and well, with one major shift: It’s now controlled by the consumer. Consider the irony: An ad that had been living innocuously for more than a month on a Motrin website and in a few print mags was Twittered into a national story by a small but vocal group of moms. This tells me that even the most targeted Web advertising – in the hands of the right viral (pick one) advocates/mob – has more potential reach than TV advertising in the pre-cable days. Not only that, but thanks to YouTube and the search engines, the campaign will endure in all of its infamy well into the future.

” … in a Down Economy”

Trend stories are a journalist’s low-hanging fruit. The recession is a certified Big Event. Combine the two and you get this:

Journalists aren’t the only trendspotters; PR flacks get caught up in the moment as well:

Election Day Media Coverage Diary

How did election day play out in the media and one particular swing state? One citizen’s personal diary:

1:28 pm: WBZ Radio Boston – Secretary of State Bill Galvin predicts record turnouts in Massachusetts, possibly topping 3 million voters

1:53 pm: I stop to vote at the high school in Londonderry, NH. As I walk into the gym, I pass candidates and supporters caged behind two temporary 8-foot-high chain link fence enclosures. The town moderator had caused a stir a few weeks back when she said electioneers would have to stand on the corner at the main entrance to the high school – a good 300 yards from the gym entrance – where they wouldn’t pose “safety risks.” A compromise was reached to provide two small holding pens – Republicans on the right, Democrats on the left. The people caged inside with their signs looked grim.

2:46 pm: My 17-year-old daughter takes a call from an unidentified man asking if my wife has voted yet and offering to give her a ride to the polls. Hmmm.

2:47 pm: Lead headline on “‘Excited’ voters find long lines” <not in Londonderry – I was in and out in five minutes.>

3:28 pm: Lead headline on “Voting Machines Elect One of Their Own as President”

5:48 pm: website (run by a stat geek named Nate Silver) is projecting that Obama will win with 348.6 (??) electoral votes and 52.3% of the popular vote (which would make Obama the first president-elect to win more than 51% of the popular vote since 1988).

6 pm: Talk to my older brother Patrick in Maine, who says he will be watching the results on TV with his laptop to get up-to-the-minute results and projections. The excitement in his voice is palpable – he’s a big Obama supporter.

6:38 pm: Lead headline on “EXIT POLLS 2008 … READ WITH CAUTION”

6:40 pm: First results coming in from Indiana and Kentucky … web browser slowing to a crawl … Keith Olbermann has an erection …

6:50 pm: Lead headline on “Hard Fought to the End” (overlaid on a photo of John and Cindy McCain at their last rally in Colorado)

8:10 pm: The livebloggers are starting to weigh in. ZZZZZ.

8:11 pm: A boys choir is singing at the McCain HQ in Phoenix. ZZZZZ.

8:30 pm: CNN and others call New Hampshire for Obama. 70% of postgraduate-educated voters went with Obama. 60% of Independents voted for Obama – a big disappointment for McCain. Dems are sweeping NH – governor, Senate, House.

9:04 pm: I filled out the CNN Electoral Map Calculator and have Obama winning 360 electoral votes.

9:15 pm: Notable videos:

9:36 pm: As Ohio is projected for Obama, CBS’ Bob Schieffer says it’s “virtually impossible” for McCain to win.

9:49 pm: Just spaced on a Katie Couric interview while I surfed the web. She makes me sleepy

9:50 pm: Hope they declare a winner soon – it’s almost my bedtime. I will DVR the acceptance/concession speeches.

11:00 pm – Obama projected as President-Elect. Wow.

Election Day

So here we are, finally. Being from a swing state (NH), oh how I will miss the robo-calls (as opposed to the calls to Rob O), the overflow of laughably lame direct mail in my snail-mailbox and the attack ads on TV, none of whch gave me any useful information about the candidates sending them. There was no shortage of outdated, ineffective marketing techniques brought to bear by both parties during this campaign season, especially at the local level.

Even on the Web, useful (objective) information was difficult to find. Any fence-sitters on election eve in NH would have been hard-pressed to Google their way to a decision regarding the hotly contested congressional races between Shaheen/Sununu (Senate) or Bradley/Shea-Porter (House of Reps). The media accounts were mostly of how the candidates “sparred” during debates; the candidates’ own websites were unconvincing at best, misleading at worst. And why do they post the same mind-numbing TV ads they’ve been subjecting us to over the local airwaves since January! Are you kidding me?

From a media standpoint, tonight will be one of those throwback nights, where families and friends gather for an increasingly rare (excepting major sporting events) shared experience around their TVs. The pundits will pundit and the network news teams will try to convince themselves that they still really matter – and for one night at least, they will have our rapt attention. (I will miss Tim Russert.) For anyone looking for an alternative (and more participatory) experience, CurrentTV is partnering with Digg, Twitte and – a “celebration of democracy” according to Current’s CEO.

No excuses – get out and vote!