How to Develop the Right Communications Strategy for a Conversation Economy.

Posted by truecreek on October 28, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

Great article from Ad Age.

By Marsha Lindsay:

What does the worldwide, technologically enabled drive for conversations mean for marketers? It means you’re no longer marketing products or services — you’re marketing conversations. It means marketing-communication planning should be driven by a conversation strategy.

The right conversation strategy answers two big questions: What meaningful content will attract sufficient conversations with the right people? And, how will you jump-start conversations and keep them alive?

When people are starved for time and already engaged in many conversations, jump-starting new and meaningful conversations is the big challenge of marketing today. Just building a website, writing a blog or posting videos on YouTube doesn’t mean sufficient numbers to impact ROI will find them organically, much less take the time and energy to converse with you. By definition a conversation requires others to be present and participate — otherwise you’re talking to yourself. Perhaps therapeutic, but no way to make a living.

Even if people know there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with you — on Twitter or your blog, for instance — you can’t expect them to engage given all the other demands on their time. You’ll need a strategy that both gets them to know you exist and care so much that you exist, they’ll become intrigued about conversing with you. This requires a strategy that integrates search optimization, media, message and contributions of content from consumers.

The right strategy begins with the end in mind: What message can work across multiple platforms and be scaled so quickly and broadly it can drive sufficient revenues to support a business model?

Very few companies have the luxury to let conversations build slowly over time. And no business can afford to risk a high-waste and low-impact effort. More often than not, high-impact campaigns with reasonable returns don’t materialize solely from online ads and social media. Traditional media must be a major component of the mix.

Stefan Olander, Nike’s global director of brand connections, noted at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs’ Brandworks University 2009 that many of Nike’s online campaigns received overwhelming response at launch. Colleagues at Nike were excited about the prospect of dropping expensive traditional media campaigns in favor of these successful digital campaigns. Olander reminded them that, despite how well-known the Nike brand is, to optimize online conversations they still must jump-start initiatives with traditional media.

That’s because traditional media can do what social media cannot: aggressively interject messages into people’s lives in a socially acceptable way. Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation indicates that messages delivered by TV may, in fact, be the fastest and most cost-efficient means to jump-start productive conversations in the digital and real worlds.

Experts at the World Advertising Research Center have also studied what it takes to optimize engagement in a conversation economy. They recommend this media priority:

  1. Mainstream media.
  2. Open networks such as blogs and websites.
  3. Closed networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

A multimedia mix framed to spark conversations requires a compelling message concept that can work across a multimedia platform. Its foundation has to be far more than a one-time promotion or product attribute; it must be a message strategy that connects brand meaning with search habits and accommodates ongoing contributions that can range from casual conversations to consumer-generated content.

This is a tall order, but not impossible. That’s because the solution can be found in the motivations of the conversationalists themselves. Some psychologists say that people subconsciously come to a conversation with a desire to be changed by them. This makes sense. Conversation is mankind’s natural search engine.

The New Sweatpants Society.

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

By Joseph Young

Well, we’ve crossed the threshold.   In my travels today, I had the chance to stop off at the local Wegman’s to take advantage of their snappy food bar.  Lunchtime can be pretty busy in that place and today was no exception.

What was interesting was seeing what I will call “The New Sweatpants Society.”

The New Sweatpants Society

Men and women, meeting, then having lunch with their significant others at the grocery store.  That is no big deal.

What was interesting was that in almost every case, one of them was dressed in business attire.  The other, in sweats.

It was striking.

Couples all over the place, dressed entirely differently.  Someone obviously didn’t get the memo.

So, do you think it’s a statement of the times?  The extremely casual nature of their dress could mean that one of the two is working from a home office, works in a very casual environment or perhaps they have a day off.  But this is Tuesday, yes?

Unfortunately, I suspect it’s something a little more sinister.  One of them is out of a job.

On the bright side, I’m sure most of these couples are relishing the chance to break some lunchtime bread together.

But on the other, perhaps it’s a sad commentary on the current employment situation in our country.

I plan on checking in again in a month or so to see if the things have changed any.  Let’s all hope I see a few more shirts and ties!

Five Reasons US Retailers May Have Jollier Holiday This Year.

Posted by truecreek on October 27, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Christina Cheddar Berk

Most of the early reads on how retail sales will shape up for the Christmas holiday period haven’t been all that jolly. At best, they have painted a picture of a shopping season that will be better than last year’s dismal turnout. But, according to some industry analysts, there are several reasons to believe that Santa might bring retailers a little joy this season.

1. Frugal Fatigue

Speaking on a conference call hosted by Dow Jones analyst Indexes and STOXX, Marshall Cohen, chief industry of market researcher NPD Group said consumers are getting tired of watching their pennies.

“Consumers are clearly telling us they are beginning to get tired of saving money,” Cohen said.

It has been more than a year since the economy started putting the pinch on consumer pocketbooks. Consumers have been trying to get their debt under control, and have pushed up the savings rate to decade-high levels. The holidays may finally give consumers a reason to start spending again.

2. Store Traffic Is Increasing

Have you noticed more folks at the store lately? ShopperTrack has, according to data analyzed by Richard Hastings, a consumer strategist for Global Hunter Securities. Hastings said he has seen signs of both year-over-year and month-to-month gains in the numbers of shoppers at the stores.

The increased store traffic is one signal that has prompted Hastings to boost his forecast for holiday sales. Although he previously expected sales to fall, he now anticipates retail sales for the November through January time period will rise 2.5 percent from last year.

3. Improved Guidance from Smaller Retailers

Another sign that things are starting to turn for retailers is the improved forecasts issued by even smaller retailers such as Bon-Ton Stores, Tuesday Morning and Pier 1 Imports.

Hastings said these comments are a sign that a new tide is coming in and “the smaller boats are being lifted up by a bigger wave.”

4. The New Normal

It just may be that consumers are finally comfortable with the new landscape. They have been spending carefully and planning for the holidays.

Retailers also have had time to plan, and with advancements in the way retailers track their inventory, are more capable to reacting quickly to chances in demand.

5. Weather

Weather may also play a role. Trends are aligning right now for better weather than last year, according to Paul Walsh, of Atmospheric and Environmental Research. For example, AER ,a Boston-based firm that analyzes the impact of climate change on business operations, expects, colder temperatures in December for the eastern part of the country, which could put consumers there in the holiday mood.

Weather has already played a key role in helping to boost retail sales in September by driving more sales of warm weather apparel before retailers marked down the cost of those items.

Newspaper Circulation Down 10.6 Percent. It’s Accelerating.

Posted by truecreek on October 26, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment


The decline in U.S. newspaper circulation is accelerating as the industry continues to struggle with reader defections to the Internet and tumbling ad revenue.

New figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations show that average daily circulation dropped 10.6 percent in the April-September period from the same six-month span in 2008.

That’s greater than the 7.1 percent decline in the October-March period.

Sunday circulation fell 7.5 percent.

As expected, The Wall Street Journal has surpassed USA Today as the top-selling newspaper in the United States.

Newspaper sales have been declining since the early 1990s, but the drop has accelerated in recent years. Circulation revenue has largely held up, though, because of price increases.

Nice Work for UF’s Shands, from Chris, a Member of The Creekbed.

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

Couple of nice pages and a spread from some recent work Chris produced for an agency in Tampa, FL.




Comcast Fox Theater Four Color Print

Posted by truecreek on October 14, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

Some new work for Comcast. Full pager for Encore Atlanta and the Fox Theater.


College Kids Are the Digital Demo.

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

By eMarketer.

College students are the most connected demographic group in the US. They own multiple electronic devices and are a prime audience for online video.

eMarketer estimates 18.2 million college students, 95.7% of the total, will go online at least once a month in 2009. As Internet usage becomes ubiquitous, the percentage of students online is growing more slowly, rising to an estimated 96.8% in 2013.

“Not only is Internet access widely prevalent, but so is technology ownership in general,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “College Students: Connecting with the Connected Crowd.” “Since students own multiple devices, they want to use those devices to interact with friends and information in multiple ways. They care less about what method they use for their interactions and more about how easy and seamless those interactions are.”

College Kids are the Digital Demo

Students are heavy consumers of online video—but also regular TV. They use social networking Websites to stay in touch with their friends—but rely on text messaging as well. And smartphones, which are becoming more and more common on campus, give students the ability to do many activities without touching a computer at all.

Despite the fears of some industry-watchers, college students are not abandoning social networks now that the sites have caught on among their elders.

“So far, that is not happening,” said Ms. Williamson. “In fact, the opposite is true. Students are more likely than ever to use social network sites.”

EDUCAUSE, which has tracked social network usage on campus for the past several years, found that the percentage of students visiting sites such as Facebook or MySpace on a daily basis has more than doubled in the past three years, from 32.9% in 2006 to 66.2% in 2009.

“But other indicators bear watching,” cautions Ms. Williamson. “One is how often students visit social networks and how much time they spend there.”

Still, in May 2009 Youth Trends found that Facebook was the No. 3 source among college students for learning about new products and services, after word-of-mouth and television commercials. Social networks remain a viable venue for marketing to the college crowd.

The Best Performing Print Advertising of the Summer, from Ad Age.

Posted by truecreek on October 9, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

A real nice set of ads, with some strong engagement scores.  Make sure you check out the rationales from MRI/Starch.

Borrell: Local Online Advertising Cools Off.

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

By Katy Bachman

Following five years of double-digit growth, local online advertising will moderate next year, growing only 5 percent to $14.9 billion, according to a new forecast from Borrell Associates released Thursday (Oct. 8).

In contrast, this year local online advertising is expected to grow 12 percent to $14.2 billion, with most of the growth coming in the second half of the year.

Over the past five years, local online advertising grew at a compound annual growth rate of 46.5 percent. For the next five years, Borrell is expecting local online advertising to grow at a rate of 2.9 percent. Local online advertising will peak in 2013 at $16.4 billion.

“The local media advertising category is approaching what we believe is saturation,” the Borrell report said. “The game in 2010 will center more around stealing market share than growing the market.”

Next year’s market will be driven by demand for paid search and online directory advertising, while banner sales will decline 10 percent. Both streaming video and audio advertising and email will grow, but still make up a smaller segment of total adspend.

Now Hear This: House Subcommittee Approves Commercial Loudness Bill.

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

My wife has been complaining about this for years.  Do you know a production house that does it?

By John Eggerton.

The House Communications Subcommittee has approved a bill that would require the broadcast and cable industries, which includes satellite and other multichannel video providers, to regularize the volume of advertisements and the programming surrounding them.


By a voice vote, the committee passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, backed by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), and referred it to the full Energy & Commerce Committee.

Eshoo said the bill premise was simple: “To make the volume of commercials and programming uniform so that spikes in volume do not affect the consumer’s ability to control sound.” Eshoo said that ad volume spikes had “endangered hearing for decades.” She also said legislative spouses had been urging their husbands or wives to sign on as co-sponsors. “I think they are all tired of getting blasted out of their easy chairs or off their exercise equipment due to these ridiculously loud commercials.”

CBS Inches Closer to Selling Out Super Bowl XLIV.

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

An earlier post spoke to the great numbers being delivered by sports programming.  Looks like it might just lead the way coming out of this thing….

By Brian Steinberg

CBS is close to selling out approximately 80% of its ad inventory for Super Bowl XLIV, according to a person familiar with the situation, a sign that the sports-advertising marketplace may be recovering more quickly than other TV venues.

CBS is still hesitant to force a price point into its discussions but has sought between $2.5 million and $3 million for a 30-second spot in the game, according to this person. As usual, the price hinges on the position of the ad within the telecast as well as whether advertisers want to get more involved with the event by buying up pre-game time or other CBS sports inventory. CBS is expected to broadcast the game from Miami on Feb. 7, 2010.

The pace of sales emphasizes marketer interest in big-audience sporting events. Already, sales for NFL and college-football games at many networks have garnered better-than-expected interest, particularly as cash-strapped consumers stay at home and rely more heavily on televised entertainment.

NBC’s first several “Sunday Night Football” broadcasts of the season, for example, have been ratings bonanzas, and CBS has seen substantial advertiser interest in its college football games. ESPN scored the highest-rated cable event in history for its “Monday Night Football” game between the Vikings and the Packers this week, thanks to widespread interest in the return of Brett Favre. Marketer interest in the events has also been fueled by the fact that viewers often watch them live, rather than fast-forwarding through content — and past ads — with digital video recorders.

For Gun-Shy Consumers, Debit Is Replacing Credit.

Posted by truecreek on October 7, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

Continuing the discussion about the change in consumer spending behavior….from today’s Washington Post.

By Nancy Trejos

The recession has cooled the American ardor for living on credit. After years of saying “Charge it,” consumers are more often paying with their debit cards instead.

Worry about jobs, fear of fluctuating interest rates on credit cards and wariness about spending too much are contributing to the change.

“People are managing their money in a different way,” said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, which tracks the credit card industry. “You clearly have a situation where those people who have jobs are exhibiting recession anxiety and they are making more debit transactions.”

Nine months ago, Alyson Chadwick, a public relations representative for a nonprofit organization on Capitol Hill, got a debit card with a MasterCard logo so she could use it anywhere for purchases. Carrying cash was unsafe, she thought, and a debit card would help her manage her spending better.

“I use my credit cards hardly at all,” she said. “I don’t even carry them with me.”

Trish Preston, head of U.S. debit for MasterCard, said the changing fortunes of debit and credit tell the story of how the recession has transformed consumer spending.

“Think about what’s happening in the economy,” she said. “Appliances, furniture, jewelry: Those are very sensitive to the economy, and those have generally been credit spending categories.”

Debit cards, meanwhile, tend to be used for routine necessities such as groceries and gasoline. “Those kinds of expenditures are happening,” she said.

The Federal Reserve said that revolving credit, primarily credit cards, dropped by $6.1 billion in July, or 8.1 percent on an annualized basis. Debit card usage, meanwhile, had been steadily growing over the years but has surged in this recession.

Credit cards draw on money borrowed at often high interest rates; debit cards withdraw money from the cardholder’s bank account.

Visa announced this spring that spending on Visa debit cards in the United States surpassed credit for the first time in the company’s history. In 2008, debit payment volume was $206 billion, compared with credit volume of $203 billion. MasterCard reported that for the first six months of this year, the volume of purchases on its debit cards increased 4.1 percent, to $160 billion, in the United States. Spending on credit and charge cards sank 14.8 percent, to $233 billion.

“Consumers are rational thinking individuals, and they’re going to shift their behavior in a way that fits with their current economic situation,” said Scott Strumello, an associate with the Auriemma Consulting Group, a Long Island-based payment card advisory firm. “They’re thinking more seriously about it, and many may decide, ‘I’m going to use debit where I can and reserve credit for larger purchases.’ ”

For three decades, credit cards, which emerged about 50 years ago but were not in widespread use until the 1970s, have reigned as the preferred mode of payment, mostly on big purchases, for baby boomers and their children. Before that, people used cash, bank loans or the installment plan.

Baby boomers typically charged responsibly. Their children, who grew up in the mostly prosperous 1980s and 1990s, became dependent on cards from an early age, partly because card issuers marketed heavily on college campuses. Unlike their parents, they tended to see credit cards as long-term loans. And they charged too much.

“An awful lot of kids grew up in a very big house and they grew up with pretty much everything they wanted, and then they became adults and their parents, rightly or wrongly, probably wrongly, conditioned them to a set of conditions they cannot afford,” said Lewis Mandell, professor of finance and business economics at the University of Washington and a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Industry executives said much of the debit card growth is fueled by a growing disdain for carrying cash and writing checks. But they also acknowledged that credit cards have fallen out of favor with consumers who want to save more and limit their discretionary spending. In July, the personal savings rate reached 4.2 percent, up from about 1 percent of after-tax income early last year, according to government data.

“The real question is: Is consumer behavior permanent?” Strumello said. “And that’s something where the jury is still out. Consumers have made moves in other downturns.”

Mandell said the next generation might reject credit after seeing their parents struggle with money. “I think the next generation may be self-correcting depending on the duration and magnitude of the downturn,” he said.

There is some indication that the shift to debit is partly a visceral reaction to credit card industry practices in the past few months. Since a law was passed in May that will limit the industry’s ability to raise rates and fees, many issuers have cut credit lines and increased rates, forcing borrowers to look for other modes of payment.

Some Great Work for HK.

Posted by truecreek on October 2, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

Very nice work from Glenn.  Photography by Burgess Blevins.

HK Glenn

HK Glenn 3