Creative Use of Sponsorship

As part of 7-Eleven’s $500,000 sponsorship deal with the Chicago White Sox, the Sox will change the starting times of their evening home games to, you guessed it, 7:11 pm. Brilliant! Next logical move: a change to manager Ozzie Guillen’s uniform number.

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Duck and Cover

“Yahoo Feels Breath on Neck” was the headline this morning on the New York Times‘ not-unexpected follow-up to the Google-YouTube deal. A great opportunity for Yahoo to counter its rival’s recent buzz, right? Wrong – Yahoo decided to duck and cover. From the Times:

Joanna Stevens, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, said that no Yahoo executive would comment for this article.

With no Yahoo execs available to make their case, the article relies on speculative comments from various analysts and other pundits about Yahoo’s struggles. Bad PR move! The Yahoo flacks no doubt felt the company was going to get whacked in the article regardless, so why bother trotting out an exec? Here’s why: Because your voice needs to be heard, and not just in controlled, favorable surroundings. Answer the tough questions.

Or maybe Yahoo just doesn’t have the answers. The one quote from Stevens is disturbing:

“We feel our business is very strong, even if we are not growing at the rates at which the financial community is expecting us to,” Ms. Stevens said. “Of course growth will slow when you already reach one out of two people on the Internet.”

Red alert! As soon as you hear an official glibly accepting slower growth, watch out.

“When you become Yahoo’s size, you become a little complacent, a little fat and happy,” Youssef Squali, an analyst for Jefferies & Company, told the Times. Pass the pork rinds …

Party Like It’s 1999

The general reaction to the Google-YouTube deal announced yesterday was omigod it’s the dot-com bubble redux. How else to explain Google VP David Drummond’s Valley Girl-meets-beancounter explanation of how the $1.65 billion figure was determined: “We modeled this on a more or less synergistic kind of model.” Or like, it seemed like a nice number. Perhaps even more important than the Google purchase were YouTube’s earlier announcements of content-licensing deals with music powerhouses Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music along with CBS. Those and previous licensing agreements should ease some fears that YouTube was headed down the Napster path and would end up litigated into oblivion.

While advertisers are no doubt salivating over the possibility of adding 15-second pre-rolls to the gazillions of videos popping up daily on YouTube, what’s the model for inserting ads into all that user-generated content? Will argent009, LisaNova, and the rest of the YouTube UGC flock be expecting individual rev-share deals?

Best part of the Google-YouTube deal: It was hatched at a Denny’s in San Bruno. “Larry, try the Grand Slam Slugger – it’s awesome!” “Thanks Chad – so $1.65 billion sounds about right?” “Rock on! Please pass the syrup.”

One Door Closes …

The CMO magazine website went dark last week. You may never have heard of CMO. The B2B website, which covered the marketing profession, debuted in July 2004 as a precursor to the monthly print magazine, which premiered in September of that year. I was hired as editor in chief a month before the Web launch, and it became my passion. CMO was originally conceived to cover the intersection of marketing and technology, but our team quickly expanded the editorial charter to include all of the strategic issues that dog senior marketers – C-suite alignment, career development, metrics and measurement, brand strategy, new media, the ever-elusive customer and, yes, technology. Readers loved it: “HBR meets Wired,” said one; “CMO has replaced The Economist as my preferred [bathroom] reading,” said another (I am not making this up).

Advertisers, however, didn’t get it, despite the best efforts of our sales team. Nor did several senior members of our parent company, IDG, who quickly lost patience with our three-year plan and pressured the new CEO of our business unit to pull the plug this past January. Sixteen print issues, a half-dozen major Web and print editorial and design awards, and boom, boom, out went the lights. The web site had stayed up for the past several months, housing the archives but no new content, providing no real reason for readers to keep coming back. You could almost see the virtual tumbleweeds rolling through the abandoned streets of what was, for a short time, a vibrant brand with an incredibly loyal readership.

Which ultimately led me here, to Magnosticism, because I have nothing better to do with my time now. I can only hope to build as fervent and vocal a following for this site as the one we developed with CMO.