November 29, 2007 by Colin
“Passengers filling in answers on their Sudokus, please accept they are just crosswords for the unimaginative and are not in any way more impressive just because they contain numbers.”
“Passengers should note that the bearded man’s rucksack contains the following items only: some sandwiches, a library card, and a picture of a bare ankle, and is no cause for concern.”
“Passengers are reminded, like mosts voice-over artists, I probably look nothing like you imagine, and may turn out to be somewhat of a disappointment.”
That’s the work of Emma Clarke, the voice over artist who used to record the announcements for the London Underground. She was recently fired for comments she made to a London newspaper – and not for her gently mocking spoofs, the Underground says.
“Some of the spoof announcements are very funny, but Emma is a bit silly to go round slagging off her client’s services. London Underground is sorry to have to announce that further contracts for Ms Clarke are experiencing severe delays.” (London Times)
[tags] London Underground, voice over, satire [/tags]
November 28, 2007 by Colin
Today is the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of William Blake, the British engraver, illustrator, poet and all-around artist.
It might be my Anglo-Saxon heritage, where this hymn is virtually required at every church service, but Blake’s Jerusalem really evokes an image of England midway through its industrial development.
These videos evoke no such nostalgia, but the first uses Billy Bragg’s fine cover of the hymn, and the second includes an entire stadium of Britons singing along.
[tags] William Blake, Bragg, arrows of desire [/tags]
November 27, 2007 by Colin
Keith, the new honcho at com.motion*, was kind enough to send over the results of their exclusive survey of 444 senior managers and marketers. As Sean pointed out, it’s always helpful to have detailed public opinion research on any aspect of our little marketing and public relations world – especially social media.
Especially when the results seem to expose senior executives lying about their familiarity with social media. To be fair, they could be glaringly unaware how little they know about new technology. Or, they could be underestimating the extent of their clients’ knowledge.
Even worse – senior communications advisors revealing – rather embarassingly – that they are falling behind the curve. As specialists, they should be AHEAD of the curve.
Later on in the poll, it seems that the long tail only applies to online activities. Overall, an intention to increase spending on social media does mean an overall increase in budgets, but some managers and marketers responded that they would cut back on direct marketing costs. That makes sense – abandon the tried-and-true targeted marketing for the shiny and new.
* not this com.motion.
November 27, 2007 by Colin
Albuquerque’s alternative newspaper runs through the programs on RFD-TV – a cable network aimed at rural Americans.
“…Last week, I had the singular pleasure of witnessing “The Roping Show” with Tyler Magnus. Watching “The Roping Show” is a little like catching a Japanese game show or a four-hour Mexican variety show–it’s funny because we really don’t understand it. Clearly, these are shows built for a very select audience. Still, if you’re in the throes of intoxication or extreme insomnia, they can be mindbogglingly entertaining. “The Roping Show” is pretty much what you’d expect: horse, rope, cow, repeat…” (alibi.com)
[tags] insomnia, late night, rural, cable tv [/tags]
November 26, 2007 by Colin
“…Hence, the market is not inefficient. Everything else in the stock market he dismisses with a single word: noise. “You can tell a story every day about stocks,” he concludes. “That’s what the media are all about. They tell a story every day about today’s stock returns. It’s businessman’s pornography.“
Need an example? CJR’s got a Maria Bartiromo piece of hype from last year.
[tags] financial reporting, market news, CNBC [/tags]
November 25, 2007 by Colin
Packaging can be key to a consumer’s perception of a product. In some cases, packaging forms a substantial part of the product – like the greeting card industry.
I didn’t realize this, but the U.S. Postal Service charges a surcharge for mail that isn’t oblong or rectangular in shape. It seems that equilateral mail screws with their incredibly complex sorting system.
This surcharge is a major hiccup for greeting card manufacturers. Mail that doesn’t get identified at the sorting plant is delivered with a request for additional postage.
“… At Great Arrow Graphics … From 60 square cards for Christmas, Mr. Friedman’s silk-screeners are down to nine this year. Other greeting-worthy occasions have been fully oblongated: for instance, death. “Nobody wants sympathy cards returned,” says Mr. Friedman. “We don’t mess with sympathy.” In his sympathy line, only pet sympathy is still square…” (WSJ)
I hadn’t thought of this (mainly because it doesn’t happen in Canada). The handling of a sympathy card by the postal system effectively undermines the message and emotion being conveyed by the sender.
So – how much does a square card cost the Postal Service to handle?
“…When the machines fail, humans get involved — at a cost, Mr. Mazurkiewicz [the sorting plant supervisor] explained, of $52-per-thousand envelopes instead of $4.
Still, it’s extremely heartwarming to read the closing paragraphs of this piece, largely because I hold the same feelings:
“.. “I love that letters are touched by people here,” he said.“It costs more money,” said Mr. Mazurkiewicz, but his guest had wandered off to gaze at a procession of postal trays spiraling upward on a blue conveyor. “The ballet of the mail,” Mr. Friedman said. He watched for a few more moments and then, with feeling, he added: “The post office really is a very beautiful organization.”
One final point: here is a question sent to the Greeting Card Association witnesses that appeared before a Postal Service committee considering rates in 2006:
“… Are you aware of any econometric studies pertaining to the demand for square greeting cards or the cross price elasticity between square and rectangular greeting cards that take into account the history or symbolic significance of the square? If so, please provide a copy of any such study.”
I’d like to see the answers submitted to that question. That would be the work of a very esoteric economist.
[tags] greeting cards, mailing, sorting, post, packaging [/tags]
November 24, 2007 by Colin
Remember the Age of Conversation? 103 authors from across the marketing, public relations, interactive media and community manager disciplines? It’s still on sale at lulu.com – but only for another week.
Gavin and Drew’s little idea has pulled in over $11k for Variety Village, but the idea is to expand the possibility of people coming across the book.
So, starting November 30, the book will be available on Amazon.com.
There’s a dirty little secret, though. The price will be going from $16.95 to $30. And you wondered how Jeff Bezos can pay for all those distribution centres and free holiday shipping!
Still considering a purchase? StickyFigure can give you a quick taste of many of the authors. Or you can read their blogs:
Gavin Heaton Drew McLellan CK Valeria Maltoni Emily Reed Katie Chatfield Greg Verdino Mack Collier Lewis Green Ann Handley Mike Sansone Paul McEnany Roger von Oech Anna Farmery David Armano Bob Glaza Mark Goren Matt Dickman Scott Monty Richard Huntington Cam Beck David Reich Luc Debaisieux Sean Howard Tim Jackson Patrick Schaber Roberta Rosenberg Uwe Hook Tony D. Clark Todd Andrlik Toby Bloomberg Steve Woodruff Steve Bannister Steve Roesler Stanley Johnson Spike Jones Nathan Snell Simon Payn Ryan Rasmussen Ron Shevlin Roger Anderson Robert Hruzek Rishi Desai Phil Gerbyshak Peter Corbett Pete Deutschman Nick Rice Nick Wright Michael Morton Mark Earls Mark Blair Mario Vellandi Lori Magno Kristin Gorski Kris Hoet G.Kofi Annan Kimberly Dawn Wells Karl Long Julie Fleischer Jordan Behan John La Grou Joe Raasch Jim Kukral Jessica Hagy Janet Green Jamey Shiels Dr. Graham Hill Gia Facchini Geert Desager Gaurav Mishra Gary Schoeniger Gareth Kay Faris Yakob Emily Clasper Ed Cotton Dustin Jacobsen Tom Clifford David Polinchock David Koopmans David Brazeal David Berkowitz Carolyn Manning Craig Wilson Cord Silverstein Connie Reece Colin McKay Chris Newlan Chris Corrigan Cedric Giorgi Brian Reich Becky Carroll Arun Rajagopal Andy Nulman Amy Jussel AJ James Kim Klaver Sandy Renshaw Susan Bird Ryan Barrett Troy Worman CB Whittemore S. Neil Vineberg
[tags] Age of Conversation [/tags]
November 23, 2007 by Colin
I won’t deny it – I read gossip blogs.
But only for the marketing leads!
Like Sean Kingston’s sharp Crayola 64 assorted crayon pack worth of bling.
It’s a must look! As always, I love the comments:
“…Wow, that’s all kinds of tacky. 64 to be precise…”
Dlisted also pointed me to Molly Shannon’s latest paid sponsorship – the opening of Charmin’s free public toilets on Time Square.
Here’s the subhed from the news release:
QUEEN OF THE THRONE: MOLLY SHANNON PERFORMS THE CEREMONIAL ‘FIRST FLUSH’ AT THE CHARMIN RESTROOMS OPENING
I desperately want to be nice. In the newsreel kindly supplied by Proctor & Gamble, Molly tells us that parents with kids will spend a lot of time during the holiday shopping season combing the streets of New York for a public toilet, and this will be a godsend for them.
But I just can’t get past the thought that her coat may be lined in shreds of toilet paper.
I can’t also help but notice that the news release notes she was accompanied by the assistant brand manager for Charmin.
If you were the assistant brand manager, would you consider participating in this promotional event as a step up in your career?
“Man, I really pulled this promotion together nicely! Not only did I open the public toilets on Times Square, I got to meet Molly Shannon!”
November 23, 2007 by Colin
I knew this was how the magic happened. There is no such thing as a viral video. It’s all a den of deception, payoffs, spam emails and keyword optimization.
I found one comment just as enlightening as the post itself:
“Nice post. Nice fuzz and nice flaming comments. It has the dark mark written all over it, nicely played by Michael, no only setting the comments on fire, but getting a hell lot of diggs and driving an insane traffic to the website. No one has commented yet on the fact that the RSS post was incomplete so that feed readers would have to come to the webpage
Awesome strategy Michael and Dan, congrats.
About the actual content, some things where cool, others where just typical. For all those that are getting so mad about this, most of what he describes is part of the SEO field. It’s done by a hell lot of people. You could count even bloggers using some of this tricks. Some of them are quite unethical but hey, the Internet is a harsh place, live with that. If you get mad then it’s because you haven’t realized you are being targeted all day long YET. Maybe this post will open many people’s eyes
Welcome to the Internet …”
November 21, 2007 by Colin
A few weeks ago, the restaurant critic for the New York Times wrote about “restaurantspeak”: the attempt by restaurant owners and employees to add colour and emotion to the rote recitation of dishes and ingredients.
In some ways, the flowery language used by wait staff and menu writers echoes the work of copywriters and marketers. If you wield too heavy a hand when attempting to infuse your marketing materials with emotion, inspiration and all those other brand attributes, you can end up sounding hollow and artificial.
And that can prompt sarcasm from your intended audience. This from Frank Bruni’s blog:
“…He asked me: “Did you care for another iced tea?”
And I wanted to say: “Yes. After a first iced tea broke my heart, I learned to trust and love again, and I bought a bottle of Snapple, peach-flavored. I cared for it deeply.”
[tags] restaurant, wait staff, waiter, script, retail environment [/tags]
November 21, 2007 by Colin
New research tells us: more doughnuts, less pay:
“…Our results indicate that increased body fat is unambiguously associated with decreased wages for both males and females…”
from the abstract for Body Composition and Wages, authored by Roy Wada and Erdal Tekin. I’d quote more, but the SSRN wants $5 for the whole paper – and I still have to buy lunch.
November 20, 2007 by Colin
This from Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News:
“…Mr. Ailes, who said he admires Mr. Dobbs, compared the CNN anchor’s approach with Fox’s leading opinion-dealer, Bill O’Reilly. “I think Lou got a peek at O’Reilly’s contract and saw what you can make doing opinion — particularly if you’re cranky.”
from the New York Times.
November 19, 2007 by Colin
Darren Barefoot is a genius. As rockers and alt-artists and indie bands turn to their fans to find revenue sources, Darren issues a challenge for us all to come clean about our music thievery:
“… I’ve owned over 250 CDs, but I’ve also downloaded a lot of music or received it from friends. That process has enabled me to discover a bunch of great artists, and in many cases I’ve gone on to buy their CDs or attend their concerts. That hasn’t been true for every artist, though, and I’ve always felt a little sheepish about that.
In the great debate about the RIAA and the future of digital music, I think we sometimes forget that musicians still need to make a living. So I thought I’d help out some of those musicians that I hadn’t otherwise compensated, and encourage others to do the same.
I also thought it’d be fun to get people to deploy their craft skills, in a vague homage to Post Secret. You don’t have to decorate your letter, but I think you’ll enjoy it more if you do.”
The result? Dear Rockers, a site where you send a letter and $5 to compensate a rocker.
Here’s my submission, which is in the mail:
[tags] Honeymoon Suite, Lee Aaron, Dear Rockers, Darren Barefoot [/tags]
November 18, 2007 by Colin
This is a point about corporate social responsibility, using consumer marketing and Canadian company Lululemon as an example. While consumers are willing to invest a fair amount of faith and goodwill in a company without proof of a detailed CSR plan, at the first sign of a crisis, they tend to look for evidence, independent testing and videotape of manufacturing facilities with happy and well-educated workers.
Which brings us to the upscale active wear chain Lululemon.
Seaweed or no seaweed? Health benefits from the product or no benefits? That’s the question the New York Times asked this week about a fabric called VitaSea and the products made of the fabric sold by the company. The newspaper (after a tip from a shortseller of Lululemon stock) had tested two of their products for presence of seaweed, as claimed. There didn’t seem to be any.
The company’s first response?
When asked about Lululemon’s product tags and the claims about vitamins and minerals, [Chip Wilson, founder, product designer and board chair] said, “That’s coming from the manufacturer. If you feel the fabric, it feels a lot different.”
And the quotes got worse:
Director for products and design. She said the company would test the fabric in the future.“We will be diving in deeper, so that our educators on the floor can answer those tough questions,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “Right now, we are relying on the mill and SeaCell’s information.”
That’s not the best of answers. Just ask Nike or Mattel how “the manufacturer is responsible” works as a rebuttal to criticism of product quality. Which must be one reason why Canada’s Competition Bureau got involved.
The company responded quickly, noting that they regularly ask an independent lab to test their materials and products, and that they did contain fabric derived from seaweed.
By the end of the week, the Competition Bureau had struck an agreement with Lululemon to stop making claims of health benefits for the fabric.
“Those claims have to be scientific and they have to be provable,” said Andrea Rosen, acting deputy commissioner of the bureau. “The onus is on the advertiser, not the government, to prove that the tests are adequate prior to making the claims.” (NYT)
Bob Meers, Lululemon’s CEO, issued a statement after the Competition Bureau announcement, noting that:
“In order to ensure the integrity of our product labelling, we are conducting a review of the therapeutic attributes described on all product hang tags.”
That seems to mean the score is product quality = 1, product attributes = 0.
Overall, their products are better made and more stylish than other active wear products on the market. Which means this contretemps probably won’t affect the company in the long term, since they continue to expand into the United States and abroad, winning converts and customers at the same time.
[tags] Lululemon, Chip Wilson, VitaSea,corporate social responsibility [/tags]
November 18, 2007 by Colin
h/t to Sean at BuzzCanuck
[tags] viral, WOM, word of mouth [/tags]