April 30, 2007 by Colin
There’s an eerie similarity between the costumes and the dance moves in these two videos:
A clip from Raquel Welch’s 1970 TV special, Raquel!
h/tip to Crying All The Way to the Chip Shop
[tags] Raquel Welch, Beastie Boys, Intergalactic, Devo ripoff [/tags]
April 28, 2007 by Colin
Tag clouds. There’s your next content analysis tool. With Tagcrowd‘s “Alpha” service, you can easily analyze any text for recurring words and concepts. Obviously, tag clouds work best when applied to a large database: either a long speech or a quantity of smaller pieces.
It’s a useful tool to generate a first impression of a text or a presentation, but there are both advantages and drawbacks:
- favours messaging over content
- truly only measures repetition, not value, of words
- overlooks key phrases and themes
- doesn’t reflect logical or rhetorical progression of the text
- doesn’t provide clues about context or how the text was received
- shines a light on underlying tone (positive, negative, inspirational)
- helps you understand the emotion being communicated (strong, responsive, dedicated, things like that)
- provides a 50 word impression of the text and the intentions of its authors
- much cheaper than contracted media analysis, with a similar level of accuracy
Tag clouds are also helpful in comparing texts. Over at pollster.com, you can see an analysis of the speeches delivered by the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday night.
The breakthrough of TagCrowd is the easy capability to develop a tag cloud from any text – online or off line. This is a practical application of 2.0 technology to our everyday work as communicators and marketers.
As more web apps and mashups can be applied to offline tasks, these forms of technology will be integrated into the everyday work of all communicators and marketers – not just by early adopters and the technically saavy.
[tags] tag could, textual analysis, media analysis, word association [/tags]
April 25, 2007 by Colin
The key to continuing customer loyalty is never stop delivering on your brand and product promise. Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut chain, knows this and delivers in spades.
The company’s regular Roll Up The Rim promotional campaign gives away thousands of prizes at outlets across Canada: cars, bbqs, free drinks, donuts and cash prizes are up for grabs. The campaign has become a pseudo-cultural event for many Canadians.
Winning codes can be found under the waxy rim of each paper coffee cup. (There’s even a custom tool for rolling the rim.)
This year, Tim Hortons has launched a custom Roll Up The Rim campaign designed specifically for the troops in Afghanistan. The cup design incorporates modern camouflage patterns, and the in-store promotional posters are in several international languages. 5 prizes of $1000 are available to be won, as well as caps, digital cameras and the usual donuts and coffee.
That’s a customized promotional campaign, built on the existing material, for ONLY ONE OUTLET.
This is a company that understands its brand and product promise – and knows it has to deliver this promise at every outlet.
Have you ever wondered what a combat zone coffee shop looks like? Take a look at this Canadian Forces Combat Camera footage shot by Sgt. Ed Whitmore (15 meg .mov)
Photo by Sgt. Roxanne Crowe, Canadian Forces Combat Camera.
Thanks to David Akin for the pointer.
[tags] Tim Hortons, Roll Up The Rim, Coffee Shop, Donuts [/tags]
April 24, 2007 by Colin
If you’re a Moleskine addict like me, there’s a number of different styles on clearance at Amazon.
April 23, 2007 by Colin
Cardinal Edward Egan is featured in the NYT, and one of the topics of discussion is his financial management of the Archdiocese of New York. Egan claims to have eliminated the Archdiocese’s deficit, and is paying down the debt. Still, he won’t release financial records – a step already taken by Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Brooklyn.
” … Will this white-haired prince of the Roman Catholic Church follow the lead of other large dioceses and release the archdiocese’s financial reports to the public?
Cardinal Egan considers the idea for a second or two, and offers a smile more suggestive of steel than humor. Wall Street titans sit on his finance council and study his ledgers. The cardinal sees no point in public inspection.
“I am transparent to the best possible people,” he said in a rare interview in his 20th floor office on First Avenue in Manhattan. “So when you say, ‘We don’t know,’ well, my ‘we’ knows.”
April 22, 2007 by Colin
- Selling cell phones to eight year olds. Burn in hell, over-reaching capitalists! An imaginary conversation between a father and his 17 year-old son: “You see, son, back when you were eight, we signed you up for a family plan with lifetime free texting. Lifetime. With the same company. You’re contractually obligated to stay with the same provider for the rest of your life.”
- Toronto is outrageously represented on Facebook, and Sean throws out a challenge: “and for Torontonians…. I now officially proclaim, if you have not joined Facebook by the April 22, 2007 and live in Toronto, you are offically part of the mainstream, well on your way to dancing the Macarena, listening to Barry Manilow and still wondering why the old Canadian Tire spokesguy isn’t on TV anymore.“
- There are some very naughty intersections in New York. “What’s long and hard and full of …?”
- A video showing the “corridor of social awkwardness” in the CBC headquarters in Toronto. “It’s so long, that when you see some one coming the other way, you don’t know when to wave, say hello or give one of those man nods.”
- And the billboards start coming down in Sao Paolo. Brett questions whether urban spam is actually a problem at all. To me, advertising is a necessary part of business. I can understand why cities like Sao Paolo would feel overwhelmed by corporate messaging – and how this could become even more overbearing with the growth of digital billboards and projected messaging. On a local level, though, advertising is more of a form of personal expression, tailored to the market and the consumer. Which makes wholesale bans stupid. And damaging for small business.
April 21, 2007 by Colin
In North America, agencies can disappear quickly. No matter the reason for their closure, a similar pattern is followed:
- booze, pens and paper are liberated
- agency name is retired, reassigned or merged within the umbrella ownership group
- creative and uncreative employees drift with the wind and the latest multi-million dollar review
- leased fax, photocopier and computers are returned
- even the cubicles are shipped back to some suburban warehouse
- after months of searching, the landlord finds a new tenant
- interior walls, plugs and lights are moved to meet the needs of the new tenant
The only things left behind are toilets, elevators and attractive brick walls.
That’s the price of working in a world dominated by curtain-walled buildings.
In the Old World, an old agency office can live on. Noisy Decent Graphics’ Ben describes his visit to a hair stylists’ – and was once a pharma advertising shop:
“…Through that door, top left used to be the photocopier and where the nail varnish type stuff is used to sit the fax machine.
It was very odd going back. So many memories, so many visual memories smashed by CH’s architect. The place looks really nice, by the way.”
There’s a quote in Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again that applies to both commercial office properties and advertisers:
“… she had slept with everybody. . . but she has never been promiscuous …”
April 21, 2007 by Colin
Yeah. That’s right. Just a little to the left. Harder. Ooooh.
I’ve been nominated for the Bloggers’ Choice Awards, for best marketing blog (talk about some stiff competition). That’s the button over in the sidebar, breaking my column width. Unfortunately, when I try to scale it down, it becomes illegible.
Vote for Canuckflack if you’d like.
April 17, 2007 by Colin
Ummm. I guess there’s an obsession for everyone. Like people who really get into journalists who wear glasses. I mean so obsessed that they try to guess the journalist’s prescription.
Here’s an example:
“…royboy 11 May 2005, 21:13
hey mimi — i agree with u that bill hemmer is so hot and has the perfect face — his glasses are natural part of his face, i wonder why he doesn’t wear them all the time — they enhance his beautiful face and are so non-obtrusive …” (Eye Scene Forum)
[tags] journalist obsession, fetish, eyeglasses [/tags]
April 17, 2007 by Colin
It’s a retread, but I still find it funny. An hour long clip from a 2002 broadcast of the Opie and Anthony radio show that takes a swipe at all the tired comedy and entertainment bits you find on AM and FM radio. (10 meg download from OAvirus.com. Look for the file called new-format(full-bit)01-02-2002.mp3)
Includes such familiar old gags as:
- Music Montage
- All Request Lunch Hour
- Rolling Home With the Stones Drive Time Block
- Celebrity Birthdays
- TwoFer Tuesdays
- Funnies at Five
- Getting the Led Out (Led Zeppelin block)
- Mandatory Metallica
- Traffic on the Twos
- Office of the Day
- Working for the Weekend
- Ten Songs or Ten Grand (ten in a row)
Please remember, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years, that Opie and Anthony can be over the top and sometimes offensive. Their comments don’t represent my opinions or beliefs.
[tags] radio bits, radio gag, tired radio, radio format, comedy [/tags]
April 16, 2007 by Colin
Adwords. Bloggers don’t mind running Adwords alonside their text because the Google program usually produces national-level text ads or extremely targeted text ads that complement your content.
But what if Google signed up with Pennysaver, the international chain of free weeklies that specializes in very cheap and very temporary local classified ads? That may just be in the works:
“…The companies also are talking about running a “bid-for-print” advertising test between PennySaverUSA.com’s parent Harte Hanks and Google. Under the deal, Google also could end up training sales reps at the “shopper” publications to sell AdWords to offline merchants that Google otherwise would have a hard time reaching …” (News.Com Google Blog)
All those half respectable ads could be replaced by geo-targeted classified notices. Bake sales. Charity Runs. Car Parts. Lost Pets and/or Children. Blood Drives. Your neighbour selling his old fridge.
That would really drag down the perceived value of your blog, wouldn’t it? Ads like the ones below showing up alongside your blog?
[tags] Pennysaver, Adwords, online classifieds [/tags]
April 14, 2007 by Colin
“The most important phase of the communications survey is the evaluation phase.” Ever heard that? You have, at least from your boss during the annual performance review. Or from a media monitoring vendor making a pitch.
Of course, every communicator is painfully aware of the weaknesses of common evaluation methods.
- Focus Groups? Easily railroaded by dominant personalities. Undermined by poor moderators. Doomed to failure by moderator’s guides developed by committee.
- Telephone Surveys? Weakened by dwindling response rates. Limited by time. Stupid caller ID!
- Advertising Equivalency Value? Don’t get me started on this voodoo economics!
- Media Analysis? How often does the analysis relate your campaign to the paralell activities of your competitors? The analysis is also naturally coloured by the education and cultural upbringing of the analyst.
- Direct Response Cards? Favoured by the already disappointed and the optimistic freeloader. As one comedian once said “I have a business card. It says ‘Mitch Hedberg, Possible Lunch Winner’.”
Sure. I’m exaggerating. I’m overlooking the benefits that can be found in each approach.
But everyone can relate to MRad’s “Don’t Coach Me On How to Answer Your Stupid Survey.” His VW dealer suggested how MRad should fill out his customer satisfaction survey, so the dealership could keep their company’s high performance rating.
The problem with this approach? By suggesting how to undermine the survey process, the dealer is undermining the customer’s confidence in the “five star rating,” the “certified service,” the “top customer service award” – all the crap that convinced the customer (who’s sitting RIGHT THERE, let’s remember) that this particular dealership wasn’t out to screw him.
Naturally, the dealership wants to make sure you leave a happy customer. There’s even some value, given the emphasis put on quality service by dealer groups, manufacturers and ratings groups, to making sure customers don’t leave with hidden grudges or issues.
But when you influence survey results with customers by drawing the link between their ratings and your pay package, you render the survey nearly useless.
And you weaken their confidence in your actual commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
[tags] survey, survey technique, auto dealer, customer satisfaction [/tags]
April 13, 2007 by Colin
I think everyone is aware of the financial implications of identity theft – and we likely have all suffered from it. But are the consequences greater when your identity is mimicked on sites like LinkedIn, MySpace or Facebook? The digital trail left by an identity thief can leave a lasting – and possibly damaging - history of misleading posts, poorly considered group memberships and intellectually inconsistent political positions.
The most elementary type of personality theft is the fake celebrity MySpace page – is that really Jessica Simpson who’s agreed to be my friend?
But, as we begin to consider a world where our digital breadcrumbs will help shape how people think of us – now and in the future – the prospect of personality theft becomes more threatening.
Social networking sites have advanced too far as useful tools to describe their users according to simple stereotypes: drunken frat boys; Jersey girls; desperate job seekers; young professionals; or techies.
Today, you’re as likely to find your grandma or your boss on a social networking site. That means your boss or your grandma could be browsing through your online profile, message board postings, and group messages.
If you wrote them, that is. What if someone assumes your online identity, lifting a photograph, getting enough personal details right to fool some of your friends, and then starts undermining your personality?
For Elatrash, though, there doesn’t seem to have been a financial impact. Instead, the Fake Elatrash simply muddied his online personality profile. He/she was joining groups with inappropriate political affiliations and making outrageous comments in others.
The impact of this type of identity theft, though, can be a long-lasting as when your bank details are stolen.
For a generation that lives its life online, your online record is your portable biography. If the information becomes corrupted, it not only casts doubt on the social network but on your real-life personality.
Is the key a system of third-party identity verification programs? More stringent verification procedures by social networking sites? Or is it up to people participating in networks to question new members or those seeking to “connect?”
I can see it now: in among the forms you’re handed on your first day as a freshman at university, there will be a list of personal question and answers that will be shared with your friends, so that later in life you will be able to verify their identity online.
“Colin McKay wants to connect”
“What was the name of your father’s first pet?”
[tags] Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, identity theft, personality theft [/tags]
April 11, 2007 by Colin
How should a national television reporter evaluate his participation in Facebook and its many affinity groups? David Akin of CTV pulls back the curtain and reveals how Facebook plays into his reporting on the activities of Canada’s national politicians:
“….So, for example, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a Facebook account and, when I signed up, I sent him a note through the service asking to be his FF. It took a while but eventually he (or, most likely, the staff member at the PMO who monitors these things on behalf of the PM) agreed to be my FF. So what does that mean? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that Stephen Harper and I are friends in the offline sense of the word. We don’t go to the mall together. We don’t phone each other up late at night to kvetch about our wives. We don’t borrow each other’s gardening implements.
What it does mean, though, is that I can “see” Stephen Harper’s Facebook profile and I will be notified on my own Facebook feed about activities he’s involved in. So, if Harper puts up a new photo of himself, I will see that he has done that back on my own Facebook page and, if I’m so inclined, it represents a cue for me to visit his page and check out his photo. Conversely when I do something on Facebook — I change my Facebook status several times a day, for example — Harper will be tipped to that fact back on his page.
Importantly, Harper and I know each other. We have an offline relationship. I’m a reporter; he’s the Prime Minister. You get the point.
Akin discusses several other important aspects of his participation on Facebook: how is his membership in any number of local or regional candidate support groups perceived, and how could his membership affect the actions of that Facebook group?
“…For me, a political reporter, this seems like a great place to connect with the so-called grassroots of any one political movement. And so I’ve joined the Liberal group and the Conservative group and so on. Again, I hope that most Facebook types will be sophisticated enough to figure out that I join these groups not to endorse them or to help them achive their political ends but to — and let’s be frank here — to spy on them! The more extra stuff I can learn about the activities of Liberals and Conservatives and NDPers, the better a reporter I can be.
Still, Akin decided to leave a lot of these types of groups a week ago – out of concern that “because the group is so overtly political, the benefit[s] of remaining a group member are not greater than the risks of me being perceived as endorsing any one candidate.”
[tags] Facebook. political reporter [/tags]
April 10, 2007 by Colin
Why does everyone call themselves a strategist nowadays?
“Just for laughs, when someone claims to be a strategist, you could ask them which tradition of strategy they represent. Economic? Then ask them to define a Nash equilibrium and see how they feel about Cournot vs. Bertrand models. Military? Then ask them about Clausewitz or John Boyd or Edward Luttwak. You can do the same thing with sports, chess, marketing, or any other domain they claim that has a tradition of strategic analysis. …
As a rule, I am opposed to credentialism, especially in ill-defined areas such as strategy. In fact, there really is no body of knowledge whose possesiion truly entitles one to claim “I am a strategist” or whose lack bars that claim. But it sounds like people are pretending that such a credential exists and then further pretending that they possess it. For a modest fee I’d happily prick that double-bubble.”
Ouch, I have two degrees in International Relations and consider myself well-educated in the areas of military and economic strategy – and I don’t think I could meet Steve’s standard.
Grant, naturally, digs into the question in a separate post. He rightly points out that many marketers, communicators and other of our ilk claim strategic skill and strategic insight – despite having no education in the field or demonstrable experience as a strategist.
“And then the question is, why should this rhetorical misbehavior be necessary? I am quite sure that other professionals do not suffer the temptation. Lawyers, doctors, civil servants…they don’t use the term. (“What kind of medicine do I practice? Oh, I do strategic medicine, you see. I don’t just identify symptoms. I think about them.”)No, the buzz word abuse that Leora spotted is a symptom. The field of marketing and the fact that it is not in fact a profession at all …
Without sorting, we are reduced to making boosterish, self aggrandizing claims, dressing ourselves up in the dignity of someone else’s language.
It’s not clear how we solve this problem. I agree with Steve that certification (or credentialism, as he calls it) is probably impractical. Reputation helps of course. It would help even more if those of us in branding circles had the depths of knowledge that distinguish the McKinsey consultant.”
Of course, the trend towards ostentatious titles may be a lingering backlash against the more outrageous job descriptions adopted during the late 90′s tech boom. After all, once you’ve lost hundreds of millions of dollars, you’re less likely to place your faith in:
- the Chief Dog Walker
- Founder without Title
- the Head Dreamer
- Spiritual Co-Creator
- Creative Imaginatist
[tags] Strategic , Strategic Communciations, Strategic thinker, credentialism [/tags]