Beer is Your Friend. Oh, Yes It Is.

Posted by truecreek on April 29, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

A very good friend of mine and a member of The Creekbed, is a great designer by the name of Kyle Williams.  This is a cool little piece of work he produced for the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

Beer is your friend.  Never forget that.

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Clear Channel Cutting 590 Radio Jobs.

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Unfortunately, I told you this wasn’t over. 

More talented people on the streets.  It’s just a shame.  We need to revise the Telecommunications Act.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Clear Channel Communications Inc., the largest owner of U.S. radio stations, said Tuesday it is cutting 590 jobs, including some on-air personalities, in its second round of mass layoffs this year amid pressure from the recession and evaporating advertising budgets.

Clear Channel’s parent company, CC Media Holdings Inc., also said it will suspend its 401(k) match for all employees for the rest of the year, starting Friday. However, if the company hits 90 percent of its budget goals at the end of the year, the matches will be retroactively restored, a company spokeswoman said.

The latest cuts represent 2.7 percent of company’s total work force of 22,100. They affect operational jobs like engineering, accounting and customer service, all in the radio division. The company also has an outdoor advertising division, which sells items like billboard space and wasn’t affected by the job cuts.

The previous cuts of 1,850 jobs came in January and were also in the radio division, mostly in sales.

Clear Channel didn’t break out the latest cuts by geography or job function, but said they do include some on-air personalities, whose identities weren’t disclosed. Employees were notified of the cuts Tuesday.

There’s a Lotta Love Coming From Comcast.

Posted by truecreek on April 28, 2009 under The Work | Read the First Comment

We’ve just completed a very smart campaign for Comcast.  A strong winback message, IMHO.  Honest.  Just the way it should be.  And you have to appreciate the humility of the subhead.  Here are two of four oversized postcards, which will be followed by a letterpak.

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Lingo Winback Email. Well, They Tried.

Posted by truecreek on April 27, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

5033-v3-lingo-revised

From the Archives. Spec That Never Saw the Light of Day.

Posted by truecreek on under The Work | Be the First to Comment

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How to Get the Most Out of Social Networks and Not Annoy Users.

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By Emma Hall

Welcome to social-media message overload.

The constant barrage of invites to sign up for this group or download that app are starting to wear on social-network users, presenting big challenges for the brands and marketers who are looking to use these sites to aggregate fans and cultivate relationships with customers.

Nearly a third of social networkers say they are fed up with the constant requests to join groups and try new applications, according to research by the Internet Advertising Bureau in the U.K. That means marketers will need to work harder and keep innovating if they want to harness the consumer power of social networks and persuade people to join their sponsored sites or pages.

istock_000001281196smallWhen asked “What do you dislike about social networks?” by far the highest response, at 31%, was that there are too many invites to install applications, followed by 16% who said “when advertising isn’t relevant to me.” Slightly more than 5% complained about messages from brands and another 5% actually lamented the addictiveness of social networks. About 12% said they had no complaints. The research showed that 7% of respondents sign up to find out about brands.

“From a marketer’s perspective, social networks look brilliant on paper,” said Alistair Beattie, head of strategic planning at AKQA, London. “It’s a switched-on crowd with a huge amount of time who hold brands close to them. The difficulty is that they regard this as their space. We have all become our own source of entertainment. But there is a resistance to being advertised at in our own spaces.”

Amy Kean, IAB senior marketing manager, said, “Despite [social networking's] popularity, this study shows that respect for the user is just as important in social media. Users will not respond to spam or irrelevant advertising.” And controlling those intrusions will have to become a higher priority for social networks, said Union Square Venture’s Fred Wilson at Ad Age’s recent digital conference.

“One of [social networks'] biggest costs is ‘environmental mediation,’ or keeping the bad people at bay,” Mr. Wilson said.

AKQA had success with a Marmite group on Facebook. The savory spread’s advertising message is “Love it or hate it,” so the group works well as a discussion topic for social networkers. Fans post recipes, discuss weird and wonderful ways to enjoy the sticky black spread, tell tales of conversion to the taste and share frustrations about not being able to purchase it outside the U.K.

Too often, Mr. Beattie said, advertising on social networks is “still a traditional interruptive approach where brands are piggybacking on content that people value.”

The IAB research found that exclusive content, which appeals to 28% of social networkers, and a genuine interest in the message, which attracts 37%, are the keys to a positive response from consumers on social networks. And because only 5% say that they actively dislike messages from brands, there are big opportunities for marketers who can hit the right notes.

“To be popular, brands need to have a personality and be someone that people want to be friends with,” Mr. Beattie said. “The guiding principle is to offer things that are not available elsewhere, things that give social kudos or bragging rights. Brands are part of the fabric of people’s lives and ultimately most are happy to be identified as friends of a brand.”

The IAB study of nearly 2,000 internet users also showed that social networks are taking on extra relevance in the current economic climate. Forty-one percent of members say they now place even more value on ratings and reviews from family and friends on a social network. Mobile social-networking is also on the increase. Updating social-network sites via mobile handsets is increasing, with 25% of all respondents logging on to check or update their pages.

Lingo Rewards American Express Retention Debit Card.

Posted by truecreek on April 25, 2009 under The Work | 2 Comments to Read

Some nice card design from Pete Buttecali.  And a nice tagline from Mike Matson.  Of course.

lingo-card

GM Plans A Major Summer Shutdown. Once Again, What About A Sale?

Posted by truecreek on April 23, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 2 Comments to Read

General Motors — facing a deadline to restructure its beleaguered operations — will shut down 13 of its 20 North American plants for several weeks this summer to allow its dealers to sell down overstuffed inventories. The shutdowns will reduce GM’s planned North American output by 190,000 units.

As I said in my previous post on the topic, “If Retailers Can Do It, Why Not the Automakers?”, it’s time for a sale.

According to CNN,  GM has about 767,000 vehicles in U.S. dealer stock. While that’s 12% lower than the inventory last year, GM sales are about half what they were last year at this time.  So they have a lot of cars on the dock.  Even more on dealer lots and on the tarmac.  The need to get rid of all that excess inventory is now the rationale as to why they are shutting down 13 plants this summer.

To me, that inventory is an asset that can, and should, be sold.  At a price that will MOVE THE MARKET. The company should be doing everything in its power from a pricing standpoint to move those vehicles to add cash to their bottom line. Instead, we get ‘value add’ satellite radio for a year and an extended warranty.

Does anyone really believe that the margins for the automakers are so minute that they cannot develop an aggressive retail sales strategy based on percentage discounts?  We’re in the midst of a virtual depression in the auto industry, so it just seems to me that now is the time for GM to whip out the big guns.

This is a company that would rather put thousands of people out of work over the summer rather than offer up their product at a sales price.

Think about it.

Eye To Eye Optometry Corner Logo.

Posted by truecreek on under The Work | Be the First to Comment

logo 5565spot-K

Study: Teens Love Live TV.

Posted by truecreek on April 22, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Wayne Friedman

Not all TV teen viewers are into new TV technology — at least not the ones that delay gratification.

According to a new study by Pangea Media, an online quiz technology company, and Ypulse, a digital youth media company, 65% of tween and teen users prefer to watch TV shows live. This contrasts with 25% who say they will view it using a DVR, and 10% who watch online.

Traditional TV genre programs also play better than new-style TV formats. Tweens/teens prefer scripted series 64% of the time versus reality TV, at 36%. They like programming on cable TV, at 77% of the time to network TV’s 23%.

But some prevailing trends seem to follow tweens/teens. Asked to forgo either TV or the Internet for a week, 77% of respondents overwhelmingly said it would be television. While 60% say they have seen an original Internet video series, 85% say they have never visited a TV show’s social-networking area. Most of tweens/teens online video viewing goes to YouTube, with a 50% score. Some 40% of the time, they go to a channel’s Web site, and 20% of the time, they head to iTunes.

Multitasking is still big among this group. They watch TV and are online 78% of the time, while TV and texting is at a 66% rate.

Television still influences their buying decisions. Sixty-six percent say they downloaded music because they heard it on a show; with 30% saying they purchased clothes because they were seen on a TV character.

Comcast Break A Leg Four Color Print

Posted by truecreek on April 20, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

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Summer Postal Rate Rollback May Make Big Mailers Big Winners.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Richard H. Levey

If a proposed test rollback of mail rates this summer goes through, listen for the sound of corks popping in Plano, TX. That’s because J.C Penney Co., which makes its headquarters there, was the biggest mailer during summer 2008, and stands to reap the largest benefit.

On Friday, word began circulating through the direct mail industry that The U.S. Postal Service was mulling temporary postage discounts for high-volume mailers that schedule drops between June 15 and Sept. 15. While the details of the program are still being worked out, discounts are expected to be between 20% and 30%.

This assumes that the highest-volume mailers haven’t negotiated separate, individual discounts with the U.S.P.S., or that those that have won’t be allowed to participate in the program. There has been no comment, official or unofficial, on either speculation at deadline.

istock_000004747819smallBut assume that the largest mailers pay the going rate. Penney mailed at least 119 million letters and catalogs in at least 23 separate campaigns, as far as could be ascertained from several editions of the U.S.P.S’s Postal Bulletin.

A positive decision by the Postal Service could give an effort-free extra bit of income to the $572 million the company earned during its most recent fiscal year, which ended Jan. 31.

Information within the Postal Bulletins can be a little dicey: Among the June 15-Sept. 15 mailings scheduled for 2008, a few mailings, such as a 2.65 million-piece drop identified only as “Summer Sale and Clearance Postcard”, was not included in Direct Newsline’s calculations And since the Bulletin only lists individual campaigns in excess of 1 million pieces, it’s very likely high-volume mailers with smaller-yet-regular drops were overlooked as well.

While the Postal Service’s fourth quarter doesn’t exactly correspond to the period being scrutinized (the quarter starts and ends 15 days later), for comparison’s sake the Service carried just over 23.7 billion Standard Mail pieces during the quarter, which generated $4.94 billion in revenue.

Should the program be implemented, discount levels will be based on mailers’ meeting individually calculated levels based on the volume of mail they sent out between June 15 and Sept. 15, 2008. Because of the manpower needed to calculate each level and discount, the sales may apply to only the 4,000 largest Standard Mail users, according to a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) statement speculating on the discount program.

If it does go through as currently on the table, mailers that have reduced their volume during the first two quarters of the Postal Service’s fiscal 2009 year may have the levels needed to quality for discounts reduced as well, according to the DMA. The Postal Service’s fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2008.

Canoe, Canoe? Cable Goes Personal With Targeted Ads.

Posted by truecreek on April 8, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By DEBORAH YAO

WASHINGTON (AP) – You’re watching Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” when suddenly you see a commercial for the Mustang convertible you’ve been eyeing – with a special promotion from Ford, which knows you just ended your car lease.  A button pops up on the screen. You click it with the remote and are asked whether you want more information about the car. You respond “yes.” Days later, an information packet arrives at your home, the address on file with your cable company.

This is the future of cable TV advertising: personal and targeted.

istock_000006809044smallCable TV operators are taking a page from online advertising behemoths like Google Inc. (GOOG) to bring these so-called “addressable” ads onto the television.  “It hasn’t really been done on TV before,” said Mike Eason, chief data officer of Canoe Ventures, a group formed by the nation’s six largest cable operators to launch targeted and interactive ads on a national platform starting this summer.

They’re betting they can even one-up online ads because they also offer a full-screen experience – a car commercial plays much better on your TV than on your PC. As such, they hope to charge advertisers more.

The stakes are high: Cable companies get only a small portion of the $182 billion North American advertising market. Eason said the cable operators, which sell local ads on networks like Comedy Central, get roughly 10 percent of the commercial time on those channels. With targeting, they are hoping to expand that.  But they have to tread carefully. Privacy advocates worry the practice opens the door to unwanted tracking of viewing habits so ads can target consumers’ likes or dislikes. They also fear it could lead to discrimination, such as poorer households getting ads for the worst auto-financing deals because they are deemed credit risks.

“You’ve got to tell people you’re doing it and you’ve got to give people a way to say no,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum in Carlsbad, Calif. “Otherwise, it’s just not fair.”

By the end of the year, Canoe will start rolling out ads that let consumers request information, such as the hypothetical one for the Mustang, industry executives said. Cable operators involved are Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), Cox Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR), Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) and Bright House Networks.

Initially, over the next two months, they’ll tailor ads by demographic profile of a community, such as age and income. So households in a youth-oriented neighborhood might get pitches for concerts, while those in higher-income areas might get exotic travel ads. Previously, cable could only target an entire metropolitan area or town.  Ultimately, cable will target down to the ZIP code and individual household, although when that will happen isn’t clear.

That means eventually, while you and your neighbor could be watching “Iron Chef” on Food Network at the same time, you might see a commercial for golf clubs, because you had tuned to The Golf Channel earlier, while your neighbor would see an ad for Disney vacations, because she has young children who like to watch Nickelodeon.

Experian, a data collection and credit scoring company, will cull profile data and match them with information advertisers have on their consumers. The advertiser won’t know who will get the ads. Advertisers can also provide a customer list to Experian, which then can make a match. So an ad can be targeted toward someone who just ended a lease with Ford.

Niche ads aren’t new to television. Advertisers have long pitched beer and cars on sports programs and cosmetics on the female-heavy Hallmark Channel.

But cable hasn’t been able to get more specific until now.  With better targeting, advertisers might pay more to run the same ad, but they’ll be reaching the audience most likely to buy, increasing the effectiveness. Advertisers will also be better able to measure how wisely their marketing dollars get spent, by keeping track of who responds. These are areas TV hasn’t done as well as online.

Canoe says it has already developed the technology and will start deploying it in May. The cable companies’ movement toward standardizing their systems on a common platform will aid in the deployment of these ads. What remains to be worked out are financial issues such as how cable operators and cable networks will share revenue.

There are signs that targeting works.  Cablevision has just completed an ad trial involving 100,000 homes in Brooklyn, N.Y., in which it sold additional services to its own customers. For instance, someone who only subscribes to cable TV might get ads for adding phone and Internet services. Cablevision said it saw a double-digit percentage increase in sales in areas with targeted ads.

The company will roll out targeted ads to 500,000 homes in the New York area this summer.  But privacy advocates such as Dixon worry that customers might not have a way to disable cable’s tracking of their viewing habits, and won’t likely have the option of another cable operator to buy from.

“If you’re sitting at home watching a cable TV box, you’re stuck,” Dixon said. “You’re looking at a version of television that no one else is getting. That’s a big deal.”

But Eason said despite its flaws, this is where TV advertising is heading – measurable ads. “This is the future for measurement on television,” he said.

Great Headlines Deliver the Mail.

Posted by truecreek on April 7, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

A pretty nice example of how a set of great headlines make for a compelling and effective direct campaign.

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If Retailers Can Do It, Why Not the Automakers?

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 3 Comments to Read

By Joseph Young

I just don’t get it. Today, I read ANOTHER full page ad in The Washington Post from GM, touting their new TOTAL CONFIDENCE PLAN, complete with a deal for OnStar, an upgraded powertrain warranty, vehicle value protection (whatever that means) and the newest and most popular trick in the book, a payment protection plan should the buyer lose their job.

gm-logoNice stuff, but for me, I just like it simple.  So, I have an idea.  Lower your prices.  Have a sale.  25% off all Pontiacs.  30% off all GMC trucks.  Buy one, get one free.  But you have to close the deal by the end of the month.

It’s that simple.

Sure, there are the folks that bought cars in the past few months that wouldn’t be very happy.  Well, extend their warranty, or something like that.  It’s so easy to think about why it wouldn’t work, but we all know it would.  Long term, it might be an issue, but right now the writing is on the wall for these guys and they have to make a bold move.

It’s time for the Automaker Inventory Reduction Sale.  Now through the end of the month.

Think about it.  Today, there are a gazillion cars just sitting on docks all over the place.  Things are so bad they are even storing them in airport parking lots, for Christ’s sake.  Why not take all of that inventory and put the stuff ON SALE? Talk about getting cash flow moving again.

Dealers would be happy, because this would be a manufacturer driven sale.  Customers would be happy because you would be speaking in a language they fully understand and can appreciate.  And I would hesitate to think that the poor car salespeople just wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.  It hasn’t exactly been nirvana for them lately.

Everyone loves a deal, but a deal that is clean and simple is to die for.  All of these ‘creative’ new bullet points, complete with all of their disclaimer copy just confuse the issue at hand.

Can you imagine walking into a dealership today knowing that you were about to get a car for 30% under MSRP?  Shoot, let’s go for 40%.  They would just fly out the door.

If the retail establishment can do it, why not the automakers?  From a competitive standpoint, it would just smoke the foreign competition.   It would take virtually every sale off the table.   It would be a Made in the USA home run for GM and Chrysler.  But they better hurry.  Time’s a wastin’.

How Your Value Message Can Be Heard Above the Din.

Posted by truecreek on April 6, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By  Beth Snyder Bulik

YORK, Pa.   (AdAge.com) — Consumers don’t have to look far these days for a deal; it seems marketers everywhere are pitching discounts, bargains and value.

istock_000003049742smallWalmart allows consumers to save money and live better. Microsoft reminds that PCs are cheaper than Macs and just as good. JCPenney promises the trifecta of value: style, quality and price. Kia Motors says it has features competitors can’t beat at a price they can’t match. Pillsbury Grands biscuits are only 25¢ a serving. Subway and Quiznos are duking it out by the dollar with $5 foot-longs and $4 torpedos, respectively.

As ’90s infomercial guru Susan Powter might say, “Stop the insanity.” On its face, the rationale behind value-based advertising seems to make sense. It’s a recession, and consumers are watching what they spend. But assuming everyone really is only out for the best deal during this recession, at what point does it all become one big blur? That is, if everything is a value, then what’s the value of being a value?

“When everyone is offering 10% off or 25% off or 50% off, what’s the point of difference?” said David Murphy, co-president and director of brand innovation at Barrie D’Rozario Murphy, Minneapolis. “A lot of the noise you’re hearing now is price noise. … Value in the traditional definition is getting more for less money or getting something for nothing. But value has an emotional quality, too, where I feel smart or I feel reassured or I feel in control by buying this product.”

He pointed to Hyundai, Target and Kodak as recent examples of brand marketing that tap that deeper kind of value. The Hyundai Assurance program reassures by taking the risk of job loss off the table, while Target harked back to simpler times with its fall campaign tagged “A new day. New ways to save.” And Kodak offers consumer-smart and less-wasteful picture printing with its newly launched “Print and Prosper” campaign.

“We’re promoting the value of saving people money. That gets to the trust of Kodak,” said Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlett of the work created by Deutsch, New York. “It’s not a pricing model; this is a value model. … Kodak wants you to take more pictures, have more memories and more Kodak moments. We don’t want you to have to worry about whether you can afford to print those moments and memories out.”

Even the word value can raise consumer suspicions, no matter a marketer’s good intent. “‘Value’ is the most overused and least believed statement in branding,” said Kevin Joy, VP at BrandProtect. “It’s OK to want to be perceived as providing value, but just keep it out of the slogans, please.”

Huge Bump in Surfing the Web By Phone.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Heidi Dawley
Mar 19, 2009

Mobile internet may have taken time to find its footing with consumers, but now it is powering along, gaining users at a fast clip.

What’s more it has moved beyond just an occasional toy for a rapidly increasing group of people.

The number of people who access news and information on the internet on a daily basis more than doubled in the last year, rising to 22.4 million in January from 10.8 million in the same month in 2008, according to a new study from ComScore.

“It is now more than a novelty. It is something that is a utility,” says Mark Donovan, senior vice president for mobile at comScore.

The transformation for mobile stems directly from improved web technology and a dramatic improvement in content.

In many ways the change is similar to what happened with internet access via the PC some years ago. In the early days, when dial-up ruled and content was limited, people might surf a bit each month. It was still a novelty. It became a daily habit as more content became available and fast internet connections gained over dial-up.

“You saw how the computer became knitted into the fabric of their lives. That’s now happening with the mobile phone,” says Donovan.

Another factor is handsets that are handier for surfing, but as comScore points out, it’s not just smartphones like Apple’s iPhone. It found that 70 percent of people accessing mobile internet content were using phones with lesser features.

The big draw for mobile surfers is news and information. ComScore found that the number of mobile users who visited such sites on a daily basis has more than doubled, rising 107 percent, to 22.4 million, by January as compared the prior January.

But the fastest-growing category in terms of the number of daily users is social networks and blogs. The number accessing these sites was up 427 percent to 9.2 million.

The third-biggest category was financial services, trading stocks, and accessing bank accounts and the like. That was up 188 percent, to 3.2 million daily users. This is also a category that Donovan believes is likely to continue growing rapidly.

For advertisers the rapid shift to accessing the web via mobile phones makes this area far more appealing, says Donovan.

“We have shown that mobile is sizable audience, it is frequently used by 35 percent daily. Plus a big portion of those people are additive, in that advertiser wouldn’t get them by just advertising on the PC web,” he says.

He is referring to some previous comScore research that showed that light PC internet users are 30 percent more likely to be using the mobile internet. So mobile is a key way to reach them.

What’s more, the people who are surfing from their phones are a nice sweet spot for advertising, believes Donovan. They tend to be men ages 18-35, who are highly connected and highly distracted. The mobile phone is their connection to the digital world.

Every Now and Then You Just Have to Go to The Beach.

Posted by truecreek on April 2, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

After a long week of proofing copy, reviewing layouts, sending out estimates, making new business calls and attending a trade show, it’s time to go to the beach.

Sometimes, we just need to shut down the business and stop to think about things. Take a moment for ourselves to really think about what is important to us.

There’s nothing like a trip to the beach in April. It’s still a little chilly, but the crowds are slim, you don’t have to wait an hour for a table at your favorite restaurant and since it’s early in the season, you can bring the dogs. Some of the stores are shuttered and will be for another month or so, but there’s always Thrasher’s Fries to bring you back to center.

So, I’m packing up the family and we’re headed to the shore.  Before we go another step further with the business, it’s time to go to the beach.  We can always hit it hard on Monday.