Brands have diluted themselves. We over-message and in many cases, we've created so many brand extensions that consumers don't even know what we stand for any more. And yes, there's a lot of crappy stuff out there. Are you making sure the products that you sell or market aren't crappy?
Easy to say, hard to do. Short. Simple. And exactly what Steve has done at Apple. Whether or not you like Apple products, it sure has paid off for them.
Back in 2007, as part of my predictions for the year, I wrote that The Advertising Backlash Grows and over the years, we've seen more and more legislation turning up, especially as it relates to advertising to children.
In a world where advertising is encroaching in every aspect of our lives and stealth marketing is increasing, expect to see more attempts to regulate how we reach our audience, especially children. When you add in the childhood obesity issue, well you're looking for challenges. Many years ago I heard someone say that childhood obesity will be the tobacco lawsuits of the future. In the US, we've handed over our personal responsibility to government regulation (not always because we want to) and if you don't think that's correct, just look at the health regulations that Mayor Bloomberg pushes here in NYC.
Brands need to step up and offer the right solutions before regulation gets introduced. They need to stop talking about social responsibility and actually make social responsibility a core part of their business model.
The latest target in the battle over fast food is something you shouldn't even put in your mouth.
Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings.
The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. Across the nation, cities, states and school boards have taken aim at excessive sugar, salt and certain types of fats.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the proposal would forbid the inclusion of a toy in any restaurant meal that has more than 485 calories, more than 600 mg of salt or high amounts of sugar or fat. In the case of McDonald's, the limits would include all of the chain's Happy Meals — even those that include apple sticks instead of French fries.
With the explosion of location-based services, it's a no brainer that there will be more of these kind of experiences in the future. Smart brands will be watching, learning and participating in the future. I'll see you there.
We're very excited to announce that Come Out & Play Festival will celebrate its fifth year of street game fun the weekend of June 4-6 in New York City. This year's festival is being graciously hosted by The Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Come Out & Play is a three-day festival of street games. The festival seeks to provide a forum for new types of public games and play. We want to bring together a public eager to rediscover the world around them through play, with designers interested in producing innovative new games and experiences. Oh yeah, and we want to have city-size fun.
The festival spreads out across New York City, but will be based primarily around South Brooklyn. Games have access to a variety of interesting settings, from Prospect Park to the Old Stone House to Green-Wood Cemetery, the streets and bridges around Gowanus, and of course the streets, sidewalks and other public areas waiting for the perfect game.
The story, a social commentary, centers on a picture-perfect family that moves into a suburban neighborhood and immediately becomes the toast of the town, loved and envied by all. But the reality is they are a commissioned fake family put together by a marketing company as a way to introduce new luxury-level products to neighborhoods around the world.
Now, this isn't really a new approach, brands have been using stealth marketing for quite sometime. BzzAgent created some controversy when it first started a few years back because their agents were not disclosing the fact that they were promoting a product. Or look at this example from today's NY Daily News:
It's happy hour, and Julia Royter, a pretty 26-year-old actress, flirts with a well-dressed man in a midtown bar. After a few minutes, she relents and hands over her BlackBerry Pearl for him to enter his number. But she'll never call.
It's all a crafty promotional trick called stealth marketing, an ethically dubious practice that has regained the spotlight with Friday's release of the film "The Joneses."
Royter is being paid to flirt. She's part of a covert ad campaign for BlackBerry that attempts to drum up interest in smart phones by putting them in the hands of attractive, gregarious young women who push the product without the public's knowledge. (You can read the rest of this story by clicking on the link below.)
William Gibson, in his book Pattern Recognition, has a character who also gets paid to flirt with men to sell products. My friends in the liquor business tell me this has been going on forever. While researching this post, I came across Hijacking friendships for a pizza the action, a fake restaurant promotion for the Yellow Pages. Yes, the Yellow Pages still exists. The more recent debate about "sponsored" posts on blogs
There are many question about stealth marketing and its use by marketers. During presentations at the Lab, I used to mention the Gibson book and talk about a world where my daughter has to worry about whether or not people were her friends or because they wanted to sell her something. That's a scary world to live in.
What I think is worse about this whole WOM push is that somehow people believe it's not advertising, that it's something different. Here's the definition of advertising according to Wikipedia --
Generally speaking, advertising is the paid promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas by an identified sponsor.
So, if you are hired and paid by a company to create a WOM campaign, then that is advertising. It's not word of mouth marketing. In fact, I go as far as to say there is no such thing as word of mouth marketing. Instead, I believe that WOM is the outcome from doing something else well. Create a great product, people talk about it. Deliver a great service, people talk about it. As I said almost 5 years ago, WOM is the outcome of a great product telling a great story.
As we get bombarded by messages everywhere we go, we turn off the message. In 1971, Herbert Simon said What does an abundance of information create? A scarcity of attention. So, the more messages that we get, the less we pay attention. The less we lay attention, the more ads brands want to deliver. Before you know it, we're in the death spiral of more advertising and less attention. So, advertisers turn to stealth marketing in the hopes that they can short circuit this process.
And that's how we end up with things like this -- Splinter Cell stunt goes bad, armed police called -- as a promotional vehicle. Sure, someone is happy about the amount of press they got, but I'm not sure they would've felt the same way if this guy was shot by the police.
And you know what, these stunts can actually be a lot of fun and create a positive engagement with the brand. A few years back, Interference put lifeguards on street corners in NYC to tell everyone to get out of the water because of sharks. It was a great promo for Shark Week. Fun, engaging, drove the message. And a real connection with the brand.
But brands will see tactics like stealth marketing as the next wave and I can assure you that if this really catches on, we'll see a lot of stealth marketing companies starting up in the next few years. Because creating fake experiences as stunts to gain attention is a whole lot easier then creating compelling, authentic and relevant brand experiences.
And yes, we enjoyed the movie.
What can I add? Just watch the clip.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Thought for Food - Mentally Ill Advertisers & German Cupcakes|
I was reminded of my presentation by a short, but to-the-point post by Paul Mcenany, where he had the great visual that's below and he asked this question:
If the people most likely to talk about you are those that have had some sort of experience with you, it baffles me why we spend such a relatively small amount of time and money making that person's experience one worth talking about.
My main point back then was there is no such thing as word of mouth marketing. WOM was an outcome of doing something really well. You can't create WOM.
Yet, as Paul smartly points out, companies seem to spend very little creating the kind of experiences that people really want to talk about. You've spent millions of dollars and lots of time convincing me to come to your store or purchase your product, what are you spending to create an experience that makes me want to come back or makes me engaged with your brand? Using all of the latest tactics in the world doesn't make up for a bad brand experience.
So to answer Paul, I have no idea. Companies can see that it works. They can see that it generates business. They can see that it creates a point of differentiation. They can even see that people will pay more for it. I think the problem is that delivering a compelling, authentic and relevant brand experience across everything you do takes time, effort and hard work. I think too many companies just want a quick fix to get them through the short term. They don't have the patience or fortitude for long term efforts.
Now, clearly this wasn't something the airlines created, but the way they handle these situations is what makes me crazy. Their automated voice tree systems are a nightmare at the best of times, but when there's a big problem as there is now, well, they are just pure hell.
The thing is, we'd probably support them better in their time of need if they didn't usually act like such crappy businesses all the time. Last night as this saga unfolded, I sent out this Tweet -- clearly, airlines have not gotten the memo @ the consumer being in control. guess they missed this entire freakin' decade #fail
For all of the talk about the empowerment of the customer, some industries seemed to have missed this entire conversation. Frankly, airlines (and others, like banks) continue to run their business in complete defiance of anything like putting their customers first.
Remember United Breaks Guitars? Today that video has 8,395,275 views. Given the complaints I'm seeing, I'm not sure that United learned anything from that experience.
So my experience the last two days has been downright ugly. Here's just a quick recap of my experience:
Look at this video from the CEO of Spirit Air on their decision to charge people for carry on baggage. Every time I fly, I send out a Tweet asking if airlines have done a cost analysis of how much money is spent on delayed flights because of all of the folks with the carry on bags. So rather then reduce the checked baggage fees, Ben Baldanza is going to add more charges. According to several articles, he defends this stupidity by saying “The basis for this new fee was founded in improved customer service.” Yea, every time the customer gets screwed, it's really for our own good.
A quick check through Twitter shows mostly negative reactions to the airlines. For every 10 complaints, maybe you get one person thanking an airline for helping. This industry
This is clearly not a problem with one or two airlines, it"s an industry problem. Last year, after another stupid airline experience, I started to say that we should have a national no-fly day. A day when everyone boycotts the airline industry. One day when we say to them that we've had it with their crappy service and surly employees who don't care and nickel & diming us to death. I think if this really the time of consumer empowerment, then maybe it"s time we start take that power. Who's in?
Many years ago, I used to joke that we had the best defense policy in the world. By continuing to cut back on our education spending, we would eventually create a country with a large, uneducated population that no other country would want.
Sadly, I'm not sure we're doing much better today. Here in NJ, we're about to see funding to school districts slashed and many programs cut back or cut completely. We're very fortunate that Sydney attends the Montclair Kimberley Academy and gets an excellent education. Last year, in the 2nd grade, she was taught to make podcasts and edit in iMovie. All students in pre-K to 3rd grade take dance. They're taught a foreign language, Sydney's been learning French and she has an excellent ear for language.
But most other students in the state aren't so fortunate. And I'm guessing that most students in other states aren't that fortunate either. As states get deeper and deeper into their own budget issues, education continues to get short-changed. We're cutting our future to save a few dollars today.
Higher education isn't always better. Has drinks with Simon Kavanagh of KAOSPilot and just love what they're doing in Denmark. They're really turning higher education upside down and seeing excellent results. Of course, I've been a huge fan of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center since before it was an official program and they too are recreating the education process. BTW, for a great read about how the ETC came about, make sure you read The Comet & the Tornado, by Donald Marinelli.
There's lots of discussions about how to fix education and I'm not sure anyone has the right answer yet. It's a complicated situation, but certainly, our economic systems shows how we, as a country, feel about education of our children. And without a doubt, the education system itself needs to be open to change, which it usually is not. It's not just a matter of adding more money, it's understanding the importance of education and putting the students first.
One crazy idea that I had is that maybe we should view our elementary education more like an incubator of sorts. Students can opt-in to be part of the system and then let's say the school gets 1% of any company that student should start in the future. Think of what the schools of people like Bill Gates and Sergey Brin would've been able to do with 1% of Microsoft or Google. Of how about those 25 hedge-fund managers. Surely giving up 1% wouldn't be a big deal for them, but it could mean a whole lot to their schools. I don't know how it would be administered or tracked, but it's because of their education that most people become the successes they become.
So maybe there are readers of my blog who know how to make this work. Maybe it's too radical of an idea, but I know that incremental changes to are education system will not save it in the future.
I found a Cohen's Fashion Optical at the Garden State Plaza and not only did they still sell the frames I liked, but they would use the frames I already had. Not only that, they had them done in about 2 days and that was over Thanksgiving.
All was well until a few weeks ago when I somehow broke one of the temples. I was able to hold them together for a while, then got a temporary fix and then kind of glued them together.
But then I found East Millcreek Eyewear online and they charged much less then anyone in the NY area. So I decided to order 2 and have a spare for future disasters. Jodie McAllister was absolutely fabulous to deal with. She was prompt, attentive and handled everything just right. Since I am leaving for Scotland this weekend, she sent them priority mail to make sure I had them in time. When I got the package today, there was a very nice, handwritten note and some extra screws in case I need them.
I wished that I lived in Salt Lake and could thank her in person, but if you're in need of glasses at excellent prices, I would give Jodie a call. I'm bummed that she didn't send some freshly baked cookies, but if I'm in Salt Lake, I will make sure to stop by in person and have some of those cookies there!
I was ten years old when I was introduced to the Optical world. It was then, 1965, that I had my first eye exam, and first pair of glasses. At that time I didn't know I would be so passionate about eyewear that I would choose it for my career. In fact, I hated those glasses. I never put on another pair until the age of eighteen, when I found myself applying for a job as an optician in Chicago. Since then, I have been in some facet of the Optical field from Washington D.C. to California. In 1984, I moved back to my birthplace, in Utah, and since then have worked for all three O's and a wholesale lens lab.
It has always been my dream to open my own Optical Shop. In December, 2006, it happened! East Millcreek Eyewear was born! With over 30 years of experience, I have developed a feel for what the fashion forward person is looking for. I would like to personally welcome you to EME, where we have "Fashion for Your Face".
Let me show you what I have learned throughout the years over a freshly baked cookie.