July 30, 2007 by Colin
There are many decisions that contribute to the growth of a successful business. Faced with a limited marketing budget, many can benefit from a carefully chosen name that not only engages and possibly entertains, but also clearly communicates the benefit to the customer.
Like the rabbitry featured in today’s Wall Street Journal article about alternate food sources for cat owners.
As in: hare today, gone tomorrow.
A fairly macabre name for a rabbitry that’s selling 1,000 pounds of raw rabbit meat each week. But still awfully funny.
Slightly more exceptional is the feline diet followed by one online cat nutrition expert:
“Holisticat’s Ms. Arora is a vegetarian, but feeds her cats mice, rats, rabbits, Cornish game hen, quail, pheasant and chicken. For Thanksgiving she buys Missy, Pigpen, Trikki and Puma a small heritage-breed turkey from a nearby farmer.”
I wonder if that turkey is still alive when it’s turned over to the cats.
But seriously, that sounds like the cats are following a Colonial Williamsburg diet.
But then their names would by Moppet, Fluffy, Downy and *that damn wild cat that keeps impregnating my little princesses.”
[Tags] cat food, rabbits, feline diet [/tags]
July 29, 2007 by Colin
Their interpretation of ska was directly responsible for me dancing strangely and dangerously for quite a few years. Just check out the clip of Nite Klub on the old documentary Dance Craze. (It’s a must watch, in my opinion.)
If you’re looking for some authorized boots, try the Specials site.
Nardwuar: … Were there any local ska bands you checked out from England?
Lily Allen: No.
Lily Allen: It’s kind of a bit before my time really.
Nardwuar: Well, I mean the bands that are going on right now, like were there any local, contemporary ska bands?
Lily Allen: I don’t really like modern, contemporary ska. Don’t think it’s very good. It’s the older stuff.
Nardwuar: From South By Southwest, “Lily Allen commented on her manager’s incredibly minute male appendage”?
Lily Allen: No, I didn’t. I commented on the editor of the NME magazine’s minute appendage.
Nardwuar: Would you ever make fun of your manager’s minute male appendage and how do you know that it isn’t a minute male appendage?
Lily Allen: I don’t.
Nardwuar: So to know that Lily Allen likes back hair, that’s awesome.
Lily Allen: Yeah, I like back hair.
Nardwuar: You have an amazing tongue. Have people said that to you Lily Allen? You have an amazing tongue?
Lily Allen: My boyfriend has. [laughs]
Nardwuar: Ba-boom. What I meant by that, you’ve had a lot of photos taken of you, and your tongue is always positioned really interestingly. What are the different Lily Allen tongue positions?
Lily Allen: [Lily shows tongue positions] That one, that one, that one, that one, that one occasionally.
Nardwuar: I like the little one, the little cat one. The cat one, that’s great. I love the Lily Allen tongue positions.
[tags] Specials, Specials, AKA, Lily Allen, ska, two tone, twotone, 2tone, Nardwuar [/tags]
July 28, 2007 by Colin
Here you go folks. I’ve tried to draw out the career arc for the typical alternative band (or one hit wonder pop band). The arc progresses from left to right, with the four segments representing roughly two to three years in total (although it could be 18 months if you’re an American Idol winner).
I know I’m being unfair. Many bands have very successful careers as independent artists, profiting from one huge national hit to avoid working crap jobs as baristas ever again. Others turn away from more mainstream paths to emphasize their music and build a close connection to their loyal fans.
I’m thinking, really, of those bands whose career has been defined by one song. No matter how varied their discography (empthreeography?) and how nuanced their work, the only time most of us think of these bands is when we catch a bar or two of their signature song in an office building lobby, at the mall, or waiting for a teller at the bank.
Or in an ad for a feminine hygiene product.
- the Cranberrries’ Linger
- Dido’s Here With Me
- BareNaked Ladies One Week
- Counting Crows Mr. Jones
- Midnight Oil, Beds are Burning
- Jesus Jones, Right Here Right Now
- Lily Allen/Professor Longhair, Knock Em Out (ad)
A special added treat: Midnight Oil on Alan Thicke’s talk show – that’s right, Alan Thicke people!
[tags] music promotion, music marketing, AOR, AC radio, American Idol, radio, record sales [/tags]
July 27, 2007 by Colin
Once you find someone who gives good quote, you’ve got to hang onto them.
“He’s putting his money where is mouth is, and I like that,” Black said. “He’s got his own skin in the game, thinks out of the box, and seems to be one of those guys that takes the bull by the horns and just runs.” (AP)
That’s quite a handful of mixed analogies from retail analyst Jennifer Black, in response to the hiring of Canadian Glenn Murphy as Chairman and CEO of Gap. Murphy, you should know, has led a turn around in the fortunes of Shoppers Drug Mart, the largest drug chain in Canada. Here’s another fabulous quote:
“I think even their management is surprised with themselves and the home run they just hit,” said Jennifer Black … “You only see this once in a while where a company steps on the gas, hits all the cylinders and just flies. They are really flying.” (AP. 2004)
[tags] retail analyst, good quote, analogy [/tags]
July 26, 2007 by Colin
Wow. What a month for professional sports. Which is the worst personal failing currently staining the reputation and future of a professional sport?
- Jordan and Eric Staal, two National Hockey League players are booked for “harassing passing motorists” after a bachelor party in Minnesota (that’s right – NHL players go to Minn. to party!)
- National Basketball League referee Tim Donaghy is accused of fixing basketball games he both officiated AND bet on;
- Michael Vick, the quarterback for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, is implicated in a horrid dog fighting training camp;
- The parade of bicyclists caught doping just continues, effectively eliminating the race leader and three Top-5 contenders from the Tour de France.
The crisis management skills at NHL head office aren’t being called upon, but every other sport has been facing a nightmare.
I bet Barry Bonds is glad everyone chipped in to overshadow the great debate over whether Bud Selig will be at the ball park when Bonds breaks the great career home run record.
[tags] NFL, NHL, Staal, NBA, Tour de France, bicycling [/tags]
July 23, 2007 by Colin
It’s not breaking news that Starbucks is leaving its location inside the Forbidden City. The decision was driven, to a large degree, by the opposition stirred up by Rui Chenggang. His persistent criticism eventually resulted in a 500,000 signature petition for the franchise to leave the UNESCO World Heritage site.
But how could Starbucks avoid stoking a growing popular unrest without undermining the popularity of the other 170-odd franchises across the country?
Make it a logical and easily understandable corporate decision: avoiding the dilution of the brand.
“There were several choices, one of which was to continue, but it would not carry the Starbucks name any more,” [Eden Woon, VP for Greater China] said. “We decided at the end that it is not our custom worldwide to have stores that have any other name, so therefore we decided the choice would be to leave.” (AP )
Really, who would want to buy Starbucks coffee that’s been co-branded as “Palace Museum” – the corporate brand planned for the other facilities in the City.
The Economist rightly points out that Rui Chenggang is no mere blogger. He’s an anchor for China Central Television. He has an international reputation, including speaking experience in Europe and across Asia.
His discussion of Starbuck’s presence in the Forbidden City was supported by other government-owned media (not really a rarity in China). Even if there was occasional criticism of his stance, particularly in more entrepreneurial Shanghai, it’s an indication that the government was at least silently supportive of the criticism.
It doesn’t hurt that Chenggang’s argument ultimately made perfect sense, even if Starbucks had existed inside the Forbidden City for nearly seven years:
“I was having lunch with an Indian person today, and I said, ‘Would you Indians allow a Starbucks to be inside the Taj Mahal?’ And he said, ‘No, of course not, we would never let that happen.’ “The Forbidden City,” Rui added, “is not an airport.”(LA Times)
Let’s leave the final word to Eden Woon, the VP from Starbucks:
“Never forget the core values and the characteristics that make your brand famous in your home country or elsewhere globally, but always be flexible to adapt to the special Chinese environment.” (China CSR)
[tags] Starbucks, Forbidden City, Chenggang, UNESCO, World Heritage Site [/tags]
July 23, 2007 by Colin
“… The old diplomacy was defined by a world of limited information. It was a veritable secret garden of negotiations. And secret negotiation still matters. But we live in a world where the views of a Pashtun herdsman, and the conflict he faces between illegal opium production and legal farming, holds the fate of a critical country in the balance. So the new diplomacy is public as well as private, mass as well as elite, real-time as well as deliberative. And that needs to be reflected in the way we do our business.”
- excerpt from David Miliband’s first speech as Foreign Secretary, speaking to The New Diplomacy (text on FCO site, spotty video on YouTube, and webcast on avaaz.org) Which signals a greater commitment to online communities and a frank conversation with the general public?
- a blog, or
- co-hosting your first major policy speech with an international and online activist organization?
David Miliband, the British Cabinet Minister formerly known online for his personal blog posts as DEFRA Minister, has been promoted to the post of Foreign Secretary. No new blog yet, but the signs are encouraging. In fact, Miliband’s first major policy speech was co-hosted by avaaz.org – a relatively new international and online activist organization. In addition to the vague but reassuring words in his speech about non-traditional influences on diplomacy and foreign policy priorities. the new Foreign Secretary fielded some questions submitted online by avaaz’ members.
“…At the end we handed David Miliband his own Book of Global Public Opinion, with all our members’ thousands of questions and pieces of advice, warning and encouragement. Clarion calls for an ethical foreign policy, a new global climate treaty, all-party negotiations and ending occupation in the Middle East, the protection of human rights and decisive action on poverty. I hope he’s reading it now.” (Paul Hilder, in HuffPost)
The talk is even being walked on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. The FCO is encouraging Britons to “Have Their Say” about the speech and the FCO’s priorities. Unfortunately, the system seems to consist of an HTML form, a formal review process once submitted, and then a static compilation of comments.
The three themes under this section have links to reddit, del.icio.us and digg – but none of the other pages on the FCO site seem to have them. It’s a first step, isn’t it?
The larger question remains how Miliband’s past experience with online comment and activism will be reflected in the polices and practices developed by the FCO. Will public diplomacy really change as a result?
Or will the process be more incremental, simply as a result of institutional inertia and the greater challenge of shifting the course of a large foreign policy apparatus?
*crossposted from sosaidthe.org
[tags] Government 2.0, online activism, Miliband, FCO, public diplomacy [/tags]
July 23, 2007 by Colin
I’m loving the new energy awareness campaign from flickoff.ca (and flickoff.org). I saw the first mainstream ad (here) yesterday, and it’s edgy and engaging. Not quite as raw as the first ad, but more informative. In the new ad, a young woman* walks the viewer through the argument for energy reduction, and a few steps anyone can take. Meanwhile, the logo flashes for a brief split second – and it’s easy to misinterpret THAT logo.
The campaign is supported by several companies with strong youth ties, including Roots, Virgin Mobile and MuchMusic. The narrator* of the ad is Hannah Simone, the host of MuchNews and the New Music on Much Music.
In a cross promotion homerun, MuchMusic managed to get one of the Flick Off t-shirts (available from Roots) onto Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) during his recent appearance in Toronto to promote the new Harry Potter movie.
Predictably, the Ontario government’s $500,000 in support for the campaign drew criticism from the opposition parties:
“…It’s bad judgment. It’s offensive, it shouldn’t be done this way. There are lots of ways to educate kids without using language like this.” [said Conservative Party Leader John Tory]
NDP house leader Peter Kormos expressed similar views in a different way.
“That the taxpayer would spend flickin’ money on a campaign that is based on telling people to flick off just blows my flickin’ mind. Nobody has lost their flickin’ sense of humour … but the minister got burned flickin’ big-time.
“Parents are going to be flickin’ embarrassed … (They) have enough to deal with (besides) the Ministry of the Environment in a government that simply doesn’t give a flick about their children’s language.” (Windsor Star)
Wow. I guess they’ve never seen a FCUK t-shirt.
[tags] energy reduction, flickoff, flick off, Kyoto, greenhouse gas, community activism, Harry Potter [/tags]
July 22, 2007 by Colin
I’ve been doing some thinking about data collection and personal privacy lately, and it’s struck me that a lot of early adopters, online cognoscenti and bandwagoners are rushing headlong into a world framed by the overarching principles of transparency, honesty and personal interaction – without thinking of about how much of their personal information they are leaving exposed.
This isn’t a new development. Without understanding something of how customer relationship marketing, market segmentation and direct marketing works, the average person really doesn’t understand how their personal information swirls in currents and eddies of databases, mail lists, dodgy piles of index cards and thumb keys.
I’ll give you an example: at the right is a set of keys. Attached are the key tags for four loyalty programs: Albertson’s grocery, GNC vitamin shop, Ace Hardware and some Canadian chain. To the key’s owners, those tags are worth 5% off purchases.
To someone with access to one or all those databases, those tags represent a considerable amount of detail about the key owner’s shopping habits, product preferences, fondness for discounts or particular brand names, and even their travelling habits.
With that information, marketers and political strategists can micro-market to increasingly targeted segments of the population – and your neighbourhood. And your group of friends. And members of your family.
But we’re only discussing information consciously handed over to marketers and consumer companies in exchange for quantifiable benefits: I’ll let you track my shopping patterns in exchange for a discount on bulk purchases of panty liners; I’ll sign up for your program so I receive advance emails about Memorial Day sales.
What about the personal information you leave hanging, for all to see, in your online profiles?
- your birthday
- your home address
- your kid’s names
- your vacation schedule
Would you post a picture of your driver’s licence? Considered as individual data points, this information does not seem like much. In total, you are giving out far more information for free – and to everyone – than you would agree to let a marketer collect.
Instead, we all need to get into the habit of maintaining an inventory of our online identity. Nothing complicated, just a personal awareness of how much information you’ve revealed, and to who.
Even on social networks that are password protected and offer tools to restrict access to your profile information, you may end up “friending” people who you barely know. And that increases the risk.
After all, you need to be aware whether some hacker knows more about you than your best friend.
And you better not lose that keychain.
[tags] facebook, identity theft, online identity, personality [/tags]
July 21, 2007 by Colin
You know, it’s the focus on the needs of your customer that helps a small business stay alive.
Like Wahid Rafiq, a hot dog vendor that usually works outside a Department of the Interior building in Washington. Like the many toppings available for his dogs, Rafiq allegedly offered options for his regular customers – like pumping the meters beside their cars.
“…The parking enforcement unit of the Department of Transportation noticed that revenue was way down in this block, [a telelvision reporter] reported. Police said the man was using a device like a quarter on a string to put time on meters without using money…” (NBC4)
Aside from the defrauding the government aspect, it makes perfect sense. An opportune brand extension.
He’s on the block all day long anyway. He knows when parking enforcement officers are approaching and leaving, and his clients have established a history of trust with him.
h/t to Fedblog.
[tags] parking enforcement, meter maids, Department of the Interior, hot dogs [/tags]
July 20, 2007 by Colin
William Gibson’s getting ready to release a new novel, and his publisher has some innovative ideas to promote Spook Country. As the Penguin Blog tells us, they’ve prepared a range of activities in Second Life – making an apt link to the ideas first floated in Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer.
“…we’re screening his fine and strange movie No Maps for These Territories; there’s a competition to design an avatar for the man himself; we’re giving away shipping containers packed with Gibson goodies and at the beginning of August, William Gibson himself will be coming into Second Life to read from Spook Country and answer questions…”
Tom Nissley interviews the famed and farsighted author on the Amazon blog:
Amazon.com: Have you visited Second Life at all? I know that you’re doing some promotions for the book there.
Gibson: I’m going to do something there, and it’ll pretty much be the first time I’ve been there since I did go and check it out last winter. It was a strange experience.
Amazon.com: Did they treat you as a god there?
Gibson: Well, you know I didn’t go as myself. I went as the guy that I cooked up when I signed up, so nobody knew it was me. And actually it was like a cross between being in some suburban shopping mall on the outskirts of Edmonton in the middle of winter and the worst day you ever spent in high school. [laughter]
Amazon.com: Yeah, I have to say I’ve visited the outskirts and it frightens me.
Gibson: It’s deserted. It seems like functionally it has to be deserted. If it’s not deserted it crashes. So there’s all this empty, empty architecture. There’s whole cities where there’s only one other person and they don’t even want to get close to you. And when you do succeed in finding a group of other avatars, people aren’t very nice.
Amazon.com: They’re meaner than they are–it’s like people are in their cars.
Penguin’s Jeremy Ettinghausen offered UKSFbooknews greater detail on Gibson’s initial foray into Second Life:
“…”We visited one of the hardcore dystopian cyberpunk sims and had a wander around. A group of cosplayers were sitting chatting on benches and when they saw William Gibson (obviously not appearing under his own name) a few catcalls rang out.
He was, I think, both surprised and disturbed by this – I think surprised by the mocking and disturbed that in a virtual world where anonymity is prized and the usual laws of physics do not apply, appearance still seemed to be an issue for residents.”
[tags] Second Life, William Gibson, Neuromancer, book promotion, author tour[/tags]
July 20, 2007 by Colin
Wow. The Slug has it right. Yaz, the low dosage birth control pill, does draw a lot of inspiration from the synthpop band of the same name. Let’s misinterpret the lyrics to one of the band’s big hits, Situation:
blue eyed dressed for every situation
moving through the doorway of a nation
pick me up and shake the doubt
baby i can’t do without
move out, don’t mess around
move out, you bring me down
move out, how you get about
don’t make a sound just move out
i remember only for an hour
move right through me can you feel the power
i don’t know what’s going on
it scares me but it won’t take long
now he’s in control he is my lover
nations stand against him he’s your brother
been a long time, been a long time now
i’ll get to you somehow”
Situation = Alison Moyet – Synths + Acoustic Guitar + Bongo Drums?????
The Yaz ad is available on YouTube – put has been vandalized by a prepubescent poor speller.
For you only – a 1982 Yazoo performance on Cheggers. Keep an eye out for the rouge applied with a spatula!
Also available: a 1982 live performance of Situation set to a home-made collage of album covers.
AND – while I’ve delving into some fairly embarassing junior high school song favourites – Kirsty Maccoll singing A New England.
July 19, 2007 by Colin
The word’s out, thanks to some clueless bookstore employees and some impulsive online booksellers. The NYTimes tells us that the latest volume of the Harry Potter series is violent:
“…at least a half-dozen characters we have come to know die in these pages, and many others are wounded or tortured. Voldemort and his followers have infiltrated Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic, creating havoc and terror in the Wizard and Muggle worlds alike, and the members of various populations — including elves, goblins and centaurs — are choosing sides.”
This is only logical. Having set up the ideological framework for a world populated by wizards, muggles, wandmaking dwarves and cuddly yet gigantic henchmen, J.K. Rowling has followed the Edgardo Diaz playbook in exquisite detail:
- Identify a trend in popular culture that hasn’t yet accelerated
- Personify that trend with a diverse group of individuals
- Develop a family-friendly storyline and marketing message
- Differentiate your product by emphasizing the attributes and quirks of your characters
- Deploy an aggressively effective multi-channel marketing machine
- Continue to produce product based on the same storyline, despite a changing cast of principal characters
Most importantly, when your principal characters eventually age out of your target market – get rid of them! Replace them with more appealing, more refreshing and more malleable characters.
That was Edgardo Diaz’ script for Menudo, and it’s obviously what J.K. Rowling has in store for Harry Potter and the gang from Hogwarts.
Nothing like a nice slaughter and wholesale cast overhaul to clean the decks for the next iteration of the wizard franchise: a wide range of spin-off books.
After all, Rowling has already announced that she’ll be producing an encyclopedia of spells, characters and place names. This is an excellent first step to ensure the mythology established by the Harry Potter series remains front of mind with readers of all ages and types: pre-teens, teens, adolescents, young adult, mid-age crisis, wiccan …
Next steps? Brand diversification, much like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Judy Blume and Boy’s Own series.
- Haggrid’s Guide to Outdoor Adventure
- Your Twin Brother’s a Third Wheel at the School Prom
- Distinguishing Family Pets from Family Enemies
- Geocaching by Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Books for Young Girls
- Dealing with Others’ Jealousy, by Hermione Granger
- I’ve got a Crush on My Brother’s Friend, by Ginny Weasley
- Undermining the Establishment for Profit, by Lucius Malfoy
- The Dumbledore Way: Harnessing Your Inner Strength
- Oligarchic and Anti-Competitive Behaviour in Diagon Alley
- Long term effects of poor parenting, by Dr. Draco Malfoy
- The Golden Snitch and HyperExtended arms
- Cranial Injuries, Short Term Memory Loss and the Bludger
- Will Those Eyebrows Really Grow Back: a Laboratory Safety Guide
- A Danger and A Benefit: A Dragon’s role in limb loss and reconstruction
For more on how the higher education crowd consider Harry Potter, see insidehighered.com
[tags] Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, Pottermania, Deathly Hallows, Menudo, boy bands, Hermione, Weasley, Dumbledore, Hogwarts [/tags]
July 18, 2007 by Colin
A potpurri for you, folks.
Matt Allen has convinced music festivals like Pitchfork, online game sites, Levis and others to underwrite his ice cream truck and its free goodies. His site sounds more participatory than the write-up in the Chicago Reader.
Elsewhere in Chicago, the market for fake sneaks threatens to overwhelm the smaller sneaker boutiques:
“…Here in Chicago, the Croatian Sensation South Side shoe dealer claims to be numero uno in the sneaker black-market. This twentysomething works nights as a bellboy for an upscale downtown hotel and sells shoes by day.
“The summer months are when I make my money,” he says. “In the winter I’ll keep around forty pairs on hand, but in the summer I’ll have several hundred.” Buying in bulk allows him to keep his overhead low. “Last year I put in an order for 680 pairs. But if a girl needs a pair of Jordan XIs in Gucci leather to go with her new handbag, I can get them in a week.” (NewCity Chicago)
“Inside baseball” reporting of political machinations suffers from a fundamental problem: it ascribes far too much expertise and importance to the role of political consultants in a campaign:
“…“The problem with political consulting is you don’t need a license or a degree,” (Marl MacKinnon, the media consultant to Bush ’04) added. “Anyone can just show up with a camcorder. It is the ultimate in hackery — for which I am perfectly suited.” (NYTimes)
Organic Frog rightly points out how the concept of revolution is being undermined by facile and unspirited claims of “revolution”
“…Most of the time the companies using these kind of metaphors aren’t the most innovative in their sector but use the revolution concept to actually overcome this lack of avant-garde thinking.(Organic Frog)
And here’s your obscure reference to “An Album Cover” (look at 2:35 in)
[tags] revolution, hacks, political consultant, campaign manager, ice cream truck, pirated sneakers [/tags]
July 18, 2007 by Colin
You’re reading that right. “Maintenance Wanted” is the message on the billboard at the hotel.
I paid $129 a night for that. With free breakfast, of course.
The local job market has to be pretty tight for a hotel manager to muddy their marketing message like this.
The other side advertised positions for morning waitstaff.
Either that, or the market for overnight accommodation is so uncompetitive that the manager doesn’t need to worry about marketing to drive-bys or the incidental guest.
[tags] Holiday Inn, hotel marketing [/tags]