Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mad as hell. Not going to take it anymore. Etc.

Rumors continue to roll on Les Moonves’ efforts to snag Katie Couric for the new, improved CBS Evening News. How remarkable! Maybe they can also use a new “swooshing” sound when stories pop up on screen! And build a new desk! With blinky lights!

Les, babe, let’s chat. Network news has been fading in the ratings and from the public consciousness since I was listening to Billy Squier on eight-track. It’s beyond tired, as is reflected by your ubiquitous ads for Centrum Silver and incontinence products. I’m a news junkie and don’t know ANYONE that watches ABC, NBC or CBS’ evening newscasts. Even my retired mom watches CNN while my dad is searching for the latest WWII doc on the History Channel. Why are you continuing to kick this dead nag expecting it to start galloping again?

Let’s face facts – news junkies already know everything that happened hours before you commit it to tape at 5 p.m. EST. We in the Western states might as well be watching a newsreel considering how stale it is by day’s end. Cable news and radio own immediacy. The Internet is not only immediate, it also owns thoroughness and narrowcasting, so you can’t compete there either. And to be honest, most the people I know are either working or in traffic when your show is broadcast.

As a J-school grad, I have some residual interest in promoting journalism, so let me drop a few suggestions for that time slot in order of fiscal sanity and programming effectiveness:

1) Eliminate the newscast completely. Crush ABC and NBC with repeats of Everyone Loves Raymond. Focus your news budget on the current hour-long investigative programs.

2) Okay, that last one scared you. How about transforming the newscast into something like Nightline? Delve deep into one or two stories that no one else is reporting on. In the final segment, hold a seven-minute roundtable discussion featuring experts in the field rather than vaguely-informed journalists.

3) Still too radical? Alright, enough with Manhattan already. Keep the newscast, but broadcast from Chicago… that’s right, middle America. Better yet, buy a satellite truck and broadcast from a different location every week. Feature a few stories from the area along with the big stories of the day. Get someone untraditional to host, dropping the Cronkite “voice of God” template since no one buys it anymore. A guy like Bob Costas can read a report and he’s actually likable, believable and doesn’t seem terminally biased. Better yet, grab one of the hundred great local anchors none of us have yet heard of.

Les, you have to blow up the whole "Eyewitness News" model and create something new. Otherwise, you’ll be running ads for caskets and urns by 2010.

technorati tags: ; ;

Monday, November 28, 2005

Advertising 101.

When I entered the Marketing world as a graphic designer, I dreamed of getting my work shown in a Print or Communication Arts design annual. As I leafed through these slick tomes I was alternately inspired or dismissive, thinking I can do better than that! I loved great design, so these pubs would be my validation as a great designer. I would be admired by my peers. Being feted by other designers was my goal.

After about two years immersed in Photoshop and French Paper Co. samples, I decided that my original goal sucked. Success wasn’t defined as appealing to designers – it was appealing to my audience. Did a busy homemaker open my mailer or toss it in the trash? Did my ads draw in a reader or did he quickly turn the page? Did my brochure make a complex government program easy to understand? Design professors were irrelevant to my success. Moving units was all that mattered.

That basic revelation changed the way I viewed myself and my work. And since then, I’ve warned art departments about the dangers of “designers designing for designers.” Sadly, advertisers fall to the same temptation. Awards are great – it's a blast to be recognized by one’s community. But if you aren’t selling product, you have failed miserably.

The Basement offers a elegantly simple test:
Watch some ads on TV with friends or family. After an ad, ask the open question "What did you think of that?" and point to the TV. Don't mention the product and don't use the word "ad". If the response is "That was a (good, funny, interesting, etc.) ad." then the ad wasn't marketing. If, on the other hand, the response is "That's a (cool, neat, interesting, useful, etc.) product." then it's marketing. If they actually want the thing, then it's good marketing….

Lesson to Marketers: After watching a pitch for a new campaign, ask yourself, "if we run with this, will people say 'great ad' or 'great product'?" If the answer is the former, fire you ad firm and start over.
An award-winning ad that doesn’t move units is the great quarterback who can’t win a game, the pop idol that can’t sell albums, the tennis star that loses every tournament, or the brilliant politician that can’t win an election.
More bluntly, it’s a loser.

technorati tags: ; ;

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tom Hespos Makes No Sense.

The namesake of the snarky headline has written an article for MediaPost titled, Buzz Marketing Makes No Sense (free reg. req'd). Noting the title, I expected a humor piece. Alas.

It begins thusly:
IF THERE'S SOMETHING MORE TO this notion of "buzz marketing" that [sic] what I've already heard, someone needs to spell it out for me. It sounds to me like a recipe for disaster.
Let me finish this train of thought for him: "And what's with the kids today and their crazy 'rap' music? I can't even understand the words! By gum, the missus and I were sharing a phosphate down at the five and dime when a group of ne'er-do-wells sidled up with their Snoop Doggy Doggy, Mr. Fifty Cents and what-not. Tarnation, that was an infernal racket! I had half a mind to scoot the li'l shavers to my Edison Cylinder for the J.P. Sousa oeuvre. That would teach the rapscallions about music proper, by Jove!"

Now, I don't know Hespos from Adam, but from the sneering tone of his piece I doubt he'd mind a little snark on this humble blog. Nevertheless, the article is gobsmackingly ill-considered, not even fathoming the difference between buzz, stealth and WOMM.

Make sure you visit the Spin Board link following the screed since it contains wise retorts by Andy Sernovitz and Joe Chernov. Unsurprisingly, their calm appeals fall on the unlistening ears of the author and his devotees.

With all the available books and ground-breaking research, I often feel behind the curve in the WOMM revolution. However, threads like Hespos' assure me of gainful employment for the rest of my marketing career.

technorati tags: ; ;

Friday, November 11, 2005

Is IBM hiring?

“Other companies have fired people for blogging, but IBM is encouraging it,” said Christopher Barger, Big Blue’s unofficial “blogger in chief.”

Ad Age has the goods on IBM’s new employee blogger program.

technorati tags: ; ;

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The sound of one room napping.

Presentation Zen contrasts the understated presentation of Steve Jobs to the muddled PowerPoint of Bill Gates. I first noticed this article on the blog of one S. Godin of Buffalo, N.Y. Seeing Seth's presentation at the WOM vs. Advertising conference, I can assure you he practices what he preaches. His slides were the only ones I still remember. Well, besides that one dude's belly.

I'm very new to the presentation world, with my much feted debut at the same conference. Still, I wanted to be memorable somehow... So, since I was the last of about 164 speakers, I went escuela vieja by offering no PPT. I figured everyone was sick to death of bullet points and I wanted them to pay attention to my breathtaking visage for the full seven minutes alloted. As the day progressed, I was surprised that I was going to be the only unplugged act. Ergo, I became Un Vaca Púrpura.

Brilliant, no? "No" is the correct answer, because I didn't know what I was doing. Nevertheless, I've sat through 7,493 presentations that sucked and about 12 that didn't. And what stood out among the greats was:
1) Few to no PowerPoint slides, and
b) A speaker directly engaged with the audience.
I knew that if I was fiddling around with an unfamiliar laptop, I wouldn't be interacting with the crowd and would therefore suck. QED.

I'll need to fling some slides for future presentations, but I'll keep this Presentation Zen blog handy as I prepare.

technorati tags: ; ;

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Big Blue Meets Buzz.

Item: "IBM said it is developing an application to analyze how discussions on blogs and other Web sites are affecting a given corporation's image."

Hat tip: Organized Individualists

technorati tags: ; ; ;
Subservient Sales.

The NY Times (reg. req'd.) focuses on the growth of ad agency and media darling Crispin Porter & Bogusky. This is the firm that created the oft-discussed (disgust?) Burger King campaigns featuring a guy in a chicken costume and a guy in a king costume.

The BK campaigns have been innovative, WOM-friendly and very viral. Of course, I haven't visited a BK in about six months.

Before CP&B begins any campaigns for VW, let's remember ADV 101. The purpose of an ad isn't to impress marketers, win awards, or appear in the Times. The purpose ultimately is to move units. From the article:

"Our success with Burger King proved there wasn't a problem with the client, but there was a problem with the ad agency," [Andrew] Keller said. Burger King had used five lead ad agencies since 2000. But Burger King's franchisees have recently turned against the Crispin-designed campaign after sales slipped over the last few months, according to the trade publication Advertising Age.
That is one ugly paragraph. First, "there wasn't a problem with the client?" Are you kidding me, Andy? Since 2000, franchisees have been in a growing state of revolt against the BK corporate office. Their dwindling market share, atrocious quality, and hideous operations were cited for years in the QSR trades. But your ad campaign and that alone changed this overnight? It wasn't the hard work of the franchisees or HQ staff or their impressive new leadership? Wow, is that arrogant. And wrong.

Not surprisingly, the franchisees are again ticked because the ads they're buying aren't getting the job done. I work with franchisees and this is their livelihoods on the line. They spend 12-hour days fixing the deep fryer, coaching crewmembers and giving samples to their strip mall neighbors. They want -- and deserve -- results from the massive ad budget they fund.

When Subservient Chicken arrived, I thought it was brilliant... because I completely misunderstood its goal. At the time, I thought the groundbreaking campaign was aimed mainly at the media, embittered franchisees and shareholders to communicate, “hey, the BK brand isn’t dead yet!”

But based on their Dr. Angus campaign, the Hootie deal, the so-censored-it-became-irrelevant Coq Rock campaign, etc., it seems like they’re trying to create buzz about unconventional ad strategies rather than the BK experience. I’m not surprised that long-suffering franchisees are wondering if these expensive experiments should continue.

So, good luck with the VW account. Perhaps they can create a "Subservient Customer Service Rep" so angry customers can vent some frustration.

technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ;

You want metrics?

I got your stinkin' metrics right here.

technorati tags: ; ; ;

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Educational and entertaining.

“Hey did you see that commercial where Paris Hilton rapes a hamburger?” Hell hath no fury like The Basement scorned.

technorati tags: ; ;

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Adweek measures WOM.

Adweek has written a feature story titled "Measuring Buzz" (A PDF of the story is available at the Brand Autopsy blog). The article is a great introduction to WOM metrics, offering a survey of the field with little snark. Good job Adweek, and thanks to Brand Autopsy for making the story available to us all.

technorati tags: ; ; ;