Will Direct Marketing Deliver for UPS?

Posted by truecreek on September 24, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

Combine the brand strength of UPS with their trusted driver network and you just might have the best way to date to deliver your message to a promising audience.

By Stuart Elliott

Since 1907, United Parcel Service has been delivering packages ordered by consumers. Next week, the company plans to deliver packages they have not ordered, in a test of an effort to expand into direct marketing.

Beginning on Monday, U.P.S. will experiment in five major markets with a service it calls Direct to Door, giving advertisers and retailers a chance to provide offers and product samples to U.P.S. customers. The marketing materials will come inside small boxes labeled Direct to Door Paks, and will be delivered to customers along with merchandise they actually ordered.

The test, to run through Oct. 2, is intended to gauge whether there is interest in having U.P.S. serve as an alternative to marketing mail delivered by the United States Postal Service or by companies like Valpak.

If Direct to Door goes forward, the added revenue could help United Parcel offset declines in demand for its mainstay package delivery service since the recession started.

In July, U.P.S. reported its sixth consecutive quarter of lower package volume in this country. The decline in the second quarter was 4.6 percent compared with the period a year earlier, which Bloomberg News described as the worst result since United Parcel went public in 1999.


“I wouldn’t say it was developed as a result of the economy,” said Lisa Lynn, marketing director for new-product research and development at United Parcel in Atlanta.

Rather, she said, it stems from “some opportunity we saw at the heart of what we do every day working off our delivery network.”

The test is also meant to see if U.P.S. customers welcome unsolicited packages or dismiss them as some new type of junk mail.

One effect of the economy is that “people are very receptive to offers right now,” Ms. Lynn said.

An experiment in figuring out how to better aim traditional, tangible marketing materials at consumers may seem quaint when so much of the buzz along Madison Avenue is about aiming virtual pitches at them online.

But direct marketing remains a lucrative business. According to the Direct Marketing Association, it accounted for $176.9 billion in ad spending last year in the United States — 52.1 percent of the total, by the association’s tally.

“We did some focus-group research and it really indicated that people were receptive to receiving offers from U.P.S.,” Ms. Lynn said. “What we heard was, ‘If U.P.S. brings it to me, it’s not junk.’ ”

Still, the company is taking several steps to try to ensure that a Direct to Door Pak is received more like a gift than another application for another credit card.

For one thing, the offers inside each box are intended to be special rather than “mass offers distributed through other channels,” Ms. Lynn said.

For another, no Direct to Door Paks will be delivered unaccompanied by packages ordered by that household, she said.

And the boxes will not bear the addresses of the recipients, Ms. Lynn said. Rather, they will carry phrases like this one: “Inside are premium offers from some of America’s best-known brands.” They will also include a photograph of the familiar brown United Parcel truck next to the words “Delivered to you by U.P.S.”

About a dozen companies — advertisers and retailers that use United Parcel to deliver orders to customers — are taking part in the test, Ms. Lynn said. They include the Finish Line; Men’s Wearhouse; Sephora; two Williams-Sonoma home furnishings brands, Pottery Barn and West Elm; and Zappos.com, the online retailer of shoes and housewares recently acquired by Amazon.

“It’s an interesting way to reach out to our customers and partner with one of our closest business partners,” said Aaron Magness, director for business development and brand marketing at Zappos.com in Henderson, Nev.

“We are an online retailer,” he added, “but we want to maintain a high-touch relationship with customers, constantly trying to find different ways to interact with them in whatever means they’re comfortable with.”

Mr. Magness said he liked the idea that the boxes would not arrive “out of nowhere, from random people knocking on your door.”

The offer to be made by Zappos.com during the test will invite recipients to “become a member of our V.I.P. program,” he added, entitling them to “free next-business-day shipping on every order.”

United Parcel plans to deliver about 250,000 Direct to Door Paks in about 150 ZIP codes in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, Phoenix and Washington.

Those chosen to participate in the test are “high-opportunity consumers,” Ms. Lynn said, meaning that they often order merchandise delivered by United Parcel Service.

“Our drivers have relationships with these people because they deliver to them frequently,” she added. “There’s a lot of trust in the driver and the brand.”

Mr. Magness also cited the trust factor as a reason Zappos.com was interested in the test.

Ms. Lynn described the customers to receive Direct to Door Paks as ages 35 to 54 in households of two persons or larger and living in single-family, owner-occupied homes.

As for what the service will cost marketers, “I can’t go into specific pricing,” Ms. Lynn said, “but the pricing model is similar to other media.”

The goal is for the cost to reach each 1,000 consumers — a common media measurement known as cpm — to be “comparable or less than an equivalent piece of direct mail,” she added.

Yahoo Unveils Rebranding Campaign.

Posted by truecreek on September 23, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Mark Walsh

As expected, Yahoo Tuesday formally unveiled its new global brand campaign centered on the theme of catering to all aspects of consumers’ online lives and carrying the tag line “It’s You.”

The ambitious marketing effort, announced at IAB Mixx Conference and Expo and aimed at breathing new life into the Web portal’s image, will launch in the U.S. on Sept. 28 and in the U.K. and India on Oct. 5 before rolling out to other countries in 2010 including Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan.

“We want to celebrate the (Yahoo) brand once again in the marketplace,” Elisa Steele, Yahoo’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told a packed room at the IAB conference in introducing the company’s new ad campaign tabbed at more than $100 million and expected to run through next year.


Procter & Gamble Taps Co-Eds To Sell Products.

Posted by truecreek on September 10, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

A smart idea by P&G.

By Laurie Burkitt

Justin Breton, a 21-year-old senior public relations major at Boston University, spends a lot of time talking about PUR, a water filtration system from Procter & Gamble.

Breton is among 100 college “ambassadors” P&G is paying to pitch the company’s brands–namely, PUR, TAG deodorant and Herbal Essences hair products–at 50 colleges and universities year-round. Through a program P&G calls ReadyU, these students create their own marketing plans for promoting the company’s products to fraternities, sports teams, and extra-curricular groups.

P&G pays the students to work 15 hours a week, meaning some kids can earn up to $2,500 a semester. (P&G will pay around $500,000 to kids before graduation next spring.) To make sure students are putting in their time on behalf of one or two brands they are assigned, P&G and RepNation, a unit of marketing outfit Mr. Youth, organize daily conference calls and require ambassadors–65% are women–to file reports every two weeks that include 25 pictures of their academic advertising attempts.

The ReadyU program is part of P&G’s move to dabble in new types of marketing, including online retailing and sports sponsorships. Now, at universities, it’s letting go of its tight grip on brand messaging and allowing students to craft pitches.

Procter & Gamble Taps Co-Eds To Sell Products.Mohammad I Sheikh, a senior studying advertising at the University of Texas at Austin, another PUR pitchman, says he spends up to 15 hours a week teaming with active campus groups that care about boosting water quality in developing countries. They plan to attend international student fairs and events near dorms, Sheikh says. Emily Kieczykowski, a junior majoring in business at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., says she passes out coupon books while walking from class to class. When football season is in full swing, Breton says he’s considering plugging TAG deodorant by holding a body odor contest to find the stinkiest college athletes.

“This was a big risk to put the branding power in someone else’s hands,” says P&G spokesman Glenn Williams, “but we know it’ll be successful.” While the Cincinnati company relinquishes some marketing control to students, it still requires them to execute corporate ideas. On freshmen move-in day, each of the schools’ ambassadors was asked to organize groups of movers to help hoist futons and boxes into rooms and pass out samples of PUR. Over Labor Day weekend, P&G required students to arrange free bus trips to Target, where students could buy P&G products with coupons they had been given.

P&G tested the program last year at three universities–University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the University of Texas at Austin–and decided to expand based on increased regional sales results, on which the company declined to disclose, and the creativity of the students. One Tide ambassador, for instance, held a campus mud battle and offered to wash dirty clothes (with Tide, of course) to anyone who participated.

To talk up PUR to BU students, Breton is organizing free concerts featuring popular campus musicians who will drink PUR-filtered water on stage and have samples on the sidelines for the audience. He works with one other ambassador on campus and meets with her a few days a week to hash out marketing ideas that they pitch daily to RepNation.

Still, pitching filtered water can be challenging, confides Breton. “It makes me wish I had gotten Tide as my brand,” he says.

Magazines Continue to Suffer.

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

By Julia Boorstin

Buying a magazine at a newsstand is quite the impulse purchase. These days you can get most magazine content online, for free, or at least something pretty comparable. And if you really want to flip through those glossy pages every week, but you’re looking to save money, a subscription saves as much as 90 percent off newsstand prices.

Needless to say it’s no surprise that newsstand magazine sales dropped 12 percent in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2008; over the previous six month period that drop was 11 percent. While subscriptions did increase slightly, not enough to compensate for the decline at newsstands, and total circulation was down 1 percent for the period.

The decline in newsstand magazine purchases may be an indicator of consumer confidence – people are watching their discretionary spending – but I’d argue that newsstand magazine revenues are unlikely to recover when consumer spending does.

There are too many free, online options and people are getting increasingly accustomed to consuming content on their mobile devices and laptops. As content companies figure out how to distribute more content to your iPhone or cell phone people may not need to shell out $5 as frequently for their glossy fill of celebrity gossip and photos.

That’s not to say that the magazine business will go away. People will still buy magazines, they may just get used to this reduced magazine spending level we’re at now.

Of course magazines’ struggles with circulation come on top of the advertising decline that’s hit the entire print journalism business. Take a look at the magazines at the newsstand or in your mailbox this month. September is supposed to be a big month for ad sales, but you’ll notice that the magazines will be remarkably skinny. If they don’t fatten up by the end of the year we’re sure to see more magazines shut down. Last month Time Inc. stopped publishing “Southern Accents” magazine, jut the latest magazine closure in the home decor space where ad revenue has fallen more than 20 percent.

It’s not just the commercial magazine business that’s suffering, business-to-business magazine ad pages fell 30.15 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the year-earlier period, according to Business Information Network data. And the trends didn’t improve over that 6-month period. In June ad pages were down nearly 33 percent from the year-earlier month.

Take Advantage of the Deals! Buy Some Television Sports Packages.

Posted by truecreek on September 8, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

For years now, I have recommended to my clients that they invest in sports packages tied to their regional teams.

For example, if you have a medium-sized business in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and the like and you have not considered running thirty second television with some SEC package available at your local station, you might be missing a great opportunity.  Of course, it’s not perfect for every business, but it will work well for many businesses.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the demos for football are all male.  Just not true.  You will reach a very large and diverse audience with your buy.

Don’t worry that the season has started. The stations will prorate any type of package and there are still a bunch of them out there.  Stations are hungry. 

Take advantage of some pricing weakness and negotiate a great deal for yourself.  Or call us and we’ll help you put it together for you.

Football on television

Customers Angered as iPhones Overload AT&T.

Posted by truecreek on September 3, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment


By Jenna Wortham, The New York Times

Slim and sleek as it is, the iPhone is really the Hummer of cellphones.

It’s a data guzzler. Owners use them like minicomputers, which they are, and use them a lot. Not only do iPhone owners download applications, stream music and videos and browse the Web at higher rates than the average smartphone user, but the average iPhone owner can also use 10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user. “They don’t even realize how much data they’re using,” said Gene Munster, a senior securities analyst with Piper Jaffray.

The result is dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds as AT&T’s cellular network strains to meet the demand. Another result is outraged customers.


Are you a Marvel or a Disney?

Posted by truecreek on September 1, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By Joseph Young

So are you a Marvel, or a Disney? The more and more I think about it, I’m a Marvel guy.  Just can’t get enough of Iron Man.  My wife Lin, is a Disney, without a doubt.

The acquisition of Marvel Entertainment by The Walt Disney Company was announced yesterday to great fanfare.  It was just all over the map.  You have to congratulate the PR folks.  The whole introduction was very well done.

To think:  the amount of collective creative talent that will be put in place upon the completion of this deal will be just incredible.

But is the deal weak?  From today’s news, consider this:

  • Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures is developing the next three “Spider-Man” sequels, starting with “Spider-Man 4” set for a May 2011 release.
  • News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox has the long-term movie rights to the “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four,” “Silver Surfer” and “Daredevil” franchises.
  • Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures has a five-picture distribution deal for Marvel-made movies, the first of which will be “Iron Man 2,” set for release next May. Paramount said it expects to continue working with Marvel and Disney.

Add to that, Sony and News Corp maintain their rights in perpetuity unless they fail to make more movies.

If these terms are true, that’s a BIG ouch to me.  This can’t all be about merchandising, theme park rides and retail store locations, can it?
UPDATE:  It looks like the comment above just might be true.  According to BusinessWeek, Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger has stated that the deal is all about Marvel’s 5,000 plus characters, combined with Disney’s success with consumer products, theme parks and rights and license fees.  The movies are going to have to wait.

Are Social Networks Making Students More Narcissistic?

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

By Sharon Jayson

College students say social networking makes them more narcissistic, a national survey reports today — and they also believe their generation is the most narcissistic of all.

That’s what a majority of 1,068 college students said when asked about narcissism in a poll on social networking sites in June by Ypulse.

More than half (57%) said their peers used social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter for self-promotion, narcissism and attention-seeking. And 92% said they used MySpace or Facebook regularly. Two-thirds said their generation was more self-promoting, narcissistic, overconfident and attention-seeking than others.

The survey was done with Jean Twenge, associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic.

Other researchers, however, say self-promotion doesn’t have to be a negative.

“We all kind of put on our best face when presenting ourselves in social situations, online or offline,” says Nicole Ellison, an assistant professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing who studies social networking. “When good things happen to me, I put that on Facebook, and when bad things happen, I also put it on Facebook. It’s a structure to receive emotional support.”

Houston Dougharty, vice president for student affairs at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, says today’s students are altruistic and care about helping others, which doesn’t say “narcissism” to him.

“I think there’s a negative connotation to narcissism that I would not want to promote as a description of this generation.” Social networking is “a celebration of individuality and sort of promotion of one’s own personality,” he says.

But Twenge says her research suggests growing narcissism in Generation Y, based on 40 questions used for decades. Scoring 21 or more indicates more narcissistic traits, she says. In the 1980s, one of seven scored in that range; now it’s one in four. “We see this change over time in narcissistic traits, but I was very interested to hear whether young people saw that in their generation,” she says.

The Very Happy Client-Agency Relationship.

Posted by truecreek on August 28, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Great article from Milan Martin.  He speaks of the truth.  If cultures don’t mesh well, it’s going to be a challenging creative business relationship. Been there and done that.

By Milan Martin

For the past several months, we’ve been in the throes of a pitch. A big pitch. We really wanted to work with this client, so we threw ourselves into it. Multiple creative teams across several offices, customer focus groups, brand videos — the whole nine yards.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about pitching over the years it’s that you absolutely have to show your true colors. With this pitch, we went to great lengths to give these prospective clients a taste of what life would really be like for them if they chose us.

Client-Agency Relationship

When they visited our agency, did we take them to Chez Francois for lunch? No. We had Shake Shack brought in. Double cheeseburgers, black-and-white shakes and fries. On paper plates. Because that’s us. We’re burger-eating, jeans-wearing, show-you-an-idea-even-if-it’s-not-completely-baked-yet kind of people. And that doesn’t work for everyone.

Misrepresenting your agency culture or your personality in a pitch would be like convincing a beautiful girl to marry you based on your common love for Michael Bolton. You may have won her hand, but you’ve got a lifetime of Michael Bolton ahead of you. And if you weren’t a Michael Bolton fan to begin with, the thrill of “victory” will soon fade with each rendition of “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

On the same token, we asked as much from them. How do you see agencies in the context of your marketing organization? What would your current agency say about you? Talk to us about how you like to work. SHOW us a day in the life!

So throughout the pitch process, we made several visits to this prospect’s corporate headquarters. It was a nice building in a corporate park in suburban New Jersey. At first glance, nothing out of the ordinary. But each time we drove into the parking lot we noticed something strange: large groups of people in business suits walking in gang-style through the parking lot, some engaged in gregarious conversation with each other, some more stoically focused on some unknown mission.

We never really said anything to each other about it, but each of us, we later found out, was trying to imagine where these people were walking to. To us city folk, we can’t imagine not having at least two Starbucks within a half-block walk, so maybe these poor suburbanites were walking to the closest Starbucks, three miles down the road. Or were they on a “Blues Brothers”-style mission from God?

The big pitch day came and went. Two questions rested heavy on our minds. Did we do everything we could to win? And where the hell were all those people in the parking lot going?

Well, we won the business, and in our first, much more casual, immersion meeting with these great, shiny, new clients, they opened the floor to us for questions. At this point, one of our account guys raised his hand with a furrowed brow. “Here we go,” I’m anticipating, “a smart question, maybe about the detail behind their segmentation or their CRM program.”

“So, uh, yeah. Where are all the people in the parking lot walking to?”

Keep in mind, the contract’s not even signed at this point, so for a brief moment in time I was a little worried our first question of this newly christened relationship wasn’t more … strategic.

“Where do you think they’re going?” the head client responded with a grin.

(“Don’t say mission from God. … Don’t say mission from God.”)

After a minute or two of us awkwardly trying to guess, they finally revealed that it was simply a part of their corporate culture. They drive to and from work, have desk jobs and work long hours — this just gets their heart rates up for a few minutes a day.

Logical enough.

As luck would have it, just then our new clients realized that this was their team’s scheduled “walk” time. “You want to see our culture, do you?” the head client offered. So off we went. Walking. Around the parking lot. In 91-degree heat.

And you know what? It was an amazing way to get to know each other, cut through the formality established by the oak in the conference room and have a “date” out of school. One last chance — for both parties — to “speak now or forever hold their peace” (or at least for the length of the contact).

Fortunately, we don’t mind getting a little sweaty. But if we were the type of people that were worried about staining our Louis Vuitton shirts or scuffing our Prada shoes (we’re more Gap kind of people), we wouldn’t exactly fit within their culture.

They invited us into their culture. And we fit into theirs the way they fit into ours (they’re big fans of Shake Shack).

Since then, each time we’ve visited, there’s been time allotted on the agenda for a “walk around the parking lot.”

And so far, it’s a very happy client-agency relationship.

Now, you’ll no doubt ask: “If you had won the business and in that pre-contract meeting found out that you had nothing in common and didn’t really like each other, would your agency have walked away from the deal?”

Maybe, maybe not. I guess it would depend on the severity of the culture riff. But what I will say is that if you’re looking to establish deep, long-standing relationships with your clients, sharing your culture, honestly and openly, in the courting process is critical.

Otherwise, you may be in for a whole lot of Michael Bolton. And nobody wants that.

Great Work for Triscuit.

Posted by truecreek on August 17, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

Nice concept.  Excellent execution.

Triscut Great Photoshop

Keep New Technology Simple to Use and You Will Be Rewarded.

Posted by truecreek on August 13, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Stacy L. Wood and C. Page Moreau

New high tech products are a way of life for today’s consumers, but many innovative new products face a special hurdle to marketplace success: their complexity makes them difficult for consumers to learn how to use. While consumers may desire the functionality of a particular new product feature—say, the ability to hot-sync one’s mobile phone’s calendar feature to a desk-top computer’s calendar program—learning how to use such a feature may take some learning effort. How do consumers react to the learning curve? The answer often is, “not well.” Consider your own experience with complex products such as computers, software, mobile phones, mp3 players, TiVo, etc.

Likely, our own experience mirrors what has been shown through marketplace research—consumers’ expectations of usage difficulty have caused a significant number to delay purchases, while actual usage difficulty has caused many to return purchased products.

Easy StreetThis research investigates the consumer’s new product learning process. What we find is that learning has an influential emotional component. Specifically, learning to use a new product can evoke an emotional response, (independent of the emotions produced by the attributes or benefits of the product itself), and that learning-based emotional response can influence product evaluations over time.

We used two empirical studies to demonstrate this consumer-centric process of innovation. The first study was a laboratory study examining participants’ reactions as they learn how to use an innovative new PDA.

The second was a longitudinal quasi-experiment examining participants’ reactions to a new web-based course management interface throughout the course of a semester. While the frustrations of wrestling with a new product’s instruction manual are familiar, three surprising findings emerge from these studies.

First, positive or negative emotions that arise from the learning process are not related to the products’ benefits (or lack thereof) but are independent assessments of the process of learning. In other words, difficulty in learning to use a product can create negative emotion even if the product is good (i.e., has strong net benefits). For example, a consumer may find a new product feature is both desirable and works well, but still have a difficult time learning how to use that feature. While the product features themselves might generate positive emotions if they are good, the learning process creates distinct emotions that are independent of the more traditional “consumption emotions.”

Second, although these “learning” emotions are process-oriented, they still have a significant and stable influence on product evaluations. In this way, we evaluate a product more positively when it offers a smooth learning process, independent of our assessment of the product’s net benefits. While it may not seem rational (since the pain of learning is only experienced initially and the product’s use may far outlast this initial learning period), these learning emotions can impact more stable overall evaluations of the product. Perhaps, as consumers, we blame a product when it has made us feel stupid and reward a product when it has made us feel smart.

Third, the emotion experienced by the consumer during this learning process is driven primarily by the consumer’s expectations for learning and early use. Thus, a consumer may experience the same challenging learning experience as positive if she anticipated difficulties prior to use or as negative if she did not. This last finding suggests that consumers’ emotional experiences can be influenced by both managers, via the early formation of expectations, and by the consumer’s own product-related expertise. Consumers with expertise in the product category will be differently impacted than novice consumers.

Marketers or salespeople may be tempted to make unreasonable claims about how easy a new product is to use as such claims are likely to increase a consumer’s likelihood of trial. But this research shows that setting unreasonable expectations for ease of use can cause a backlash of negative learning emotions that will impact the consumer’s evaluation of the new product.

Marketers must take care to encourage trial while setting fair expectations. How might this be done? Best Buy’s new Geek Squad program may be one humorous way to remind consumers that it sometimes takes a “special kind of person” (i.e., a nerdy technophile) to set up complex consumer electronics. The mere presence of the Geek Squad offer may serve to set consumers’ expectations so that, if they set up the product on their own, they are happy, but they are neither surprised nor upset if they find that they need to call in the experts.

Given the growing problem of innovation discontinuance (i.e., when consumers reject a new product after purchase or trial), understanding how marketing communications (e.g., product demonstrations, advertising, programs) and consumers’ own expertise interact to influence expectations is important. Especially for quickly evolving electronic and high tech products, product returns are costly both in terms of retail logistics (e.g., lost sales, restocking costs, repackaging and selling used products) and lost opportunities.

If a consumer has successfully made it through the early steps of the innovation adoption process—awareness, evaluation, and purchase—and then rejects the innovation post-trial, he or she may be unlikely to consider other alternative choices or related innovations in the future or, even worse, may be a source of negative word-of-mouth.

Miller Cans: “Create Your Future”

Posted by truecreek on August 4, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

From Popsop.com

Miller Russia has announced the winners of contest called “Create Your Future”. The aim was to choose the best design from 500 submitted works which will be printed on the new collectible cans series this year. From 30 short-listed works just 3 were chosen by online voting.


The authors of the best projects will get $5000, $3000 and $1000 accordingly.

Unfortunately, the design that took the most number of votes is too similar to the first collectible Miller can, that’s why the jury will choose a new design concept from the 30 final designs. And author of that design will also get a cash prize $5000.

To Reach Boomers, Integrated Media Strategies Are Necessary.

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

We’ve posted about this before, but this strong article by Anne Mai Bertelsen really drives home the the point that it is short-sighted to shift too much of your ad budget to the web if you are looking to reach baby boomers.  They just have not adopted these mediums as quickly as younger audiences have.

By Anne Mai Bertelsen.

Earlier this year, Forrester Research released its five year advertising forecast which found that marketers were shifting substantial advertising dollars out of traditional media and into interactive channels such as mobile marketing, display ads, search, social media and email.

iStock_000008888770SmallYet, marketers who rely too heavily on interactive channels, at the expense of traditional channels, risk losing out on the lucrative Boomer segment that are avid multi-media consumers. In fact, unlike other age groups, Boomers consume a daily, balanced diet of media from multiple traditional and interactive sources with traditional media — television, radio, and newspapers — providing their daily “squares.”

While the media has been focused on reporting the demise of traditional media, Boomers have largely been ignoring their prognosticators and continue to use these mediums as their “go to” sources for entertainment, news and exposure to brands.

Consider these statistics:


* Boomers spend, on average, 9.5 hours a day on “screen” time activities — e.g., television, computer, mobile phones, video games — with the largest percentage of time spent on television.

* 77% of Boomer’s daily viewing occurs between 7:30 pm and 11 pm, when they are most likely to watch The Discovery Channel, A&E, the Food Network, ESPN and Fox News.


* 76% listen to the radio — more than any other demographic — with half listening during morning drive-time and their programming preferences vary from oldies to country to talk shows.


* Time spent on print (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books) is highest among Boomers, with younger Boomers (45-54) spending on average 30 minutes a day and older Boomers (55-65) spending up to 100 minutes a day.

* In addition to national papers, 57% read their local daily newspaper regularly and 68% read their weekly community paper.

These traditional sources provide the foundation of Boomers’ awareness and knowledge of brands. They augment their daily traditional media consumption with time online, spending on average two hours a day.

But unlike other age groups, Boomers — who according to The Pew Internet and American Life Project now account for 35% of all Americans online — use the Internet much more heavily to research and purchase products and connect with friends and family than their younger peers. Typically, traditional advertising triggered their online search.

And, Boomers are researching products and services online because their brand loyalty is up for grabs; they are not brand loyal. Refuting a popular marketing truism that older consumers become more brand loyal, a 2008 AARP/Focalyst study found that 61% of Boomers felt “it didn’t pay to be brand loyal.”

A more recent Nielsen analysis of brand spending corroborated that finding: in March 2009, Nielsen reported that only a fifth of Boomers were more brand loyal than their younger cohorts.

As those who target Boomers well know, this segment offers an incredibly wealthy opportunity for marketers:

* 78 million+ members

* Estimated $10 trillion in discretionary assets – transferred to them by their dying parents and grandparents

* $2.3 trillion annual average spend on consumer goods and services

But, only if marketers shift some of their advertising dollars back to traditional media, creating an integrated media plan, to engage Boomers.

Cash for Clunkers Off to a Great Start. Better Get Moving.

Posted by truecreek on July 30, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

Cash for Clunkers racks up 22,782 trade-ins and $95.9 million so far

by Chris Shunk on Jul 30th 2009 at 4:29PM

When the government’s Cash for Clunkers program returned 4,026 orders on its first full day of availability, some were surprised by the speed with which the sales booster took off. After only five days, the program seems to have picked up steam rather than lost it: 22,782 trade-ins have funneled through dealer lots in the 3-4 days since Monday when the program began. So far, dealers have requested $95.9 million in reimbursement money from the government, or about 10% of the funds that were supposed to keep the program running into November. The cars.gov website currently shows $75 million left for CAT3 trucks and $779 million out of $1 billion for everything else.

So far, the average rebate value is reportedly $4,209, which means most customers are eligible for the $4,500 voucher that requires a new vehicle purchase with a 10+ mpg improvement verses the model being traded in. Tuesday was the busiest day so far, with $51 million worth of reimbursements filed by dealers, and there were $27 million filed on Wednesday.

The National Automotive Dealers Association says the program will likely run out of money well before the November deadline. If C4C continues at its current pace, the program could end as early as September. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, some 23,000 dealers have submitted registrations and 19,328 have been approved.

The First Heineken Store is Opened.

Posted by truecreek on July 29, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

You just have to love Scandinavian design.

From Popsop:

Heineken company an the Dutch design studio Tjep have opened in the centre of Amsterdam the first branded Heineken store.

It is divided into 4 sections: the fashion store with the branded designer clothes, state-of-the-art beer shop with a “Fridge” exposition, small recording studio for young talanted musicians, and a travel section where Heineken fans can give the tickets for branded sponsored events.

The general idea of the interior design is to express coolness and freshness which light Heineken beer brings to drinkers.

Heineken Bottles

Heineken Store

What Will This Recession Teach Us?

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

The Great Depression, by far the biggest economic downturn of the 21st century, taught an entire generation of Americans a horrible, yet valuable lesson.  After Black Tuesday, when the stock market totally collapsed, life for many of these people would never be the same.

Jobs were gone overnight.  Banks failed. Entire industries were devastated.   Commodity prices plunged, taking with them so many family farms.  Tent cities sprung up all around our nation.   Life had never been harder.

As a nation, the shock to our collective system was so severe that our grandfathers and grandmothers became cynics. No one trusted the banking system.  People started hoarding cash, hiding it anywhere they could.  We became a nation of savers, simply because we didn’t want to expose our families to a repeat of the disaster.

And they never forgot.

The same shift in our financial psychology is happening again. After seeing their collective portfolios dive 40 to 50%, people are now on the sidelines, watching the market, willing to accept next to nothing in return simply because they are afraid to lose even more.

Savings rates have increased by ten fold, according to some statistics.  Six fold at the very least.   Consumer’s behavior has changed and in my opinion, for good.

My clients are seeing this firsthand.  We are too.  Financial conservation is back in vogue.  The average homeowner is doing everything they can to clean up their household balance sheets.  This popular frugality has permeated virtually all segments of our population, from the poor to the very wealthy.

And we are learning a lesson we will never forget.  Just like they did back in the 1930s.

For those who think that we will bounce right back to the ways we did things before this hard recession started, think again.  We are witnessing a sea change in the way the consumer deals with the economic realities at hand.

I find it very hard to believe that those lessons will be quickly forgotten.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Posted by truecreek on July 21, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

As advertisers, we are all aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter of the multitude of messages we are receiving daily from those companies that want to share their wares with us.

Cinema AdvertisingSo many in fact that it has become extremely difficult for an advertiser’s message to stand out from the pack.  Add in the prospect of the increasing use of DVR’s and other time shifting technologies and you have a real advertising challenge on your hands.

There is however, one advertising tactic that is gaining greater acceptance. That tactic is cinema advertising.

In “The Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study”, the evidence is very clear:  consumers are showing increasing acceptance of movie theater advertising. Younger viewers and those who frequent movies now see the on-screen commercials “as part of the entertainment experience.”

What a wonderful treat.  We finally have “a willing and attentive audience.”

According to the study, more than 45% of the respondents had gone to the movies at least once, with 60% of those watching the commercials prior to the start of the movie.  It was also determined that the perception of the method of advertising is positive, with over 63% stating that they “did not mind the advertisements they put on before the movie begins” with the younger audience being even more receptive.

So, give cinema advertising a try.  Better yet, just give us a call and we’ll get things moving.

Out of Bounds.

Posted by truecreek on July 20, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Seth tells it like it is.

By Seth Godin.

Sometimes people push back on posts of mine they don’t like by telling me I’m out of bounds. Somehow, they say, I’ve crossed the boundary of what I’m allowed to write about. They are angry that I’m now writing about something outside my defined area.

I’m usually taken aback by this, because I didn’t realize I’d actually agreed to any boundaries.

dont do it!Brands run into this all the time. Consumers give them boundaries. Nike isn’t allowed to make a computer, for example (unless they partner with Apple). It turns out, though, that marketers decide to believe in these boundaries a lot more than consumers do.

A beautifully made product or service (one that we agree with) gets a lot of slack, regardless of its source. Virgin is a great example of this. Branson can market cola and airplanes with the same brand, largely because we like what he makes. In Korea, there are a few massive brands that are ‘allowed’ to market anything they like, from dishwashers to cars. Google is allowed to market the very cool new Squares, of course.

The real problem is that when marketers believe they are going out of bounds, the work they do tends to be lousy. Starbucks attempt at chocolate, for example, wasn’t as good at being chocolate as their coffee is at being coffee.I think that’s because the marketers at Starbucks feel they have permission to care about coffee, but chocolate is merely an extension, an additional profit center, not a passion.

I’m not arguing for carte blanche craziness with your brand. American Express can do travelers checks and credit cards and could have done PayPal… but no, they probably shouldn’t launch a line of whiskey any time soon. I am, however, arguing that once you have permission to talk to someone, finding new products or services for them is a smart way to grow.

What to do with Special Requests.

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

By Seth Godin.

The bike shop is busy in June. If you bring your bike in for a tune up, it will cost $39 and take a week.

A week!

What if someone says, “I have a bike trip coming up in three days, can you do it by then?”

At most bike shops, the answer is a shrug, followed by, “I’m sorry, we’re swamped.”

The problem with telling people to go away is that they go away. And the problem with treating all customers the same is that customers aren’t the same. They’re different and they demand to be treated (and are often willing to pay) differently.

So, why not smile and say, “Oh, wow, that’s a rush. We can do it, but it’s expensive. It’ll cost you $90. I know that’s a lot, but there you go.”

Outcome: Maybe they’ll still leave. But maybe they’ll happily pay you for the privilege of doing business with you. Why should this be your choice, not theirs?

If you do tax accounting for mid-size businesses, why not offer a special last-minute service? A service in which you process shoeboxes filled with unsorted papers? A service that costs less but happens during your slow season?

There are two really good reasons to turn down special requests:

1. Because you’re marketing yourself as extremely busy and perfectly willing to turn down good work.

2. Because you want to market yourself as someone who is a rigid artist, a stick in the mud or a crotchety perfectionist. This works great for pizza places.

Facts Always Win, Right?

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

By Seth Godin.

If you’re selling a business to business service and you can prove that it’s better, that it delivers more value, that it’s cheaper or more durable or more efficient, shouldn’t that mean you will close every sale?

Even hard-headed business people end up buying the thing they want, not the thing they necessarily need.

The real danger of relying on facts to make your sale, though, is that when the facts are no longer on your side, you’re toast. The low-cost supplier gets hooked on the easy sales that come from acting like a commodity, and if that changes, you’ve got little room to maneuver.

Great brands and projects are built on real value and a real advantage, but great marketers use this as a supporting column, not the entire foundation. Instead, they build a story on top of their head start. They focus on relationships and worldviews and interactions, and use the boost from their initial head start to build competitive insulation.

MTV Nets Touts Shorter Web Video Ads.

Posted by truecreek on July 16, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Mike Shields

MTV Networks believes it has found a better answer for short form online video advertising than the much-derided 30-second pre-roll: a very short video spot (five seconds long) accompanied by a corresponding, though slightly-delayed display ad.

The company on Wednesday (July 15) announced the results of an elaborate study on online video advertising called Project Inform—one that sought to find a better ad standard for the burgeoning medium which combined brand effectiveness with user-tolerance. The extensive project, conceived as far back as early 2008, was conducted in partnership with with the researcher InsightExpress and employed the services of the Web video technology firm Panache.

Starting with over 20 possibilities, by early 2009 year MTVN says it had boiled its list of potential video ad formats to three, including the classic pre-roll. The others included a unit called the Lower 1/3 Product Suite—which combines a five second pre-roll with a transparent flash ads that takes over a the bottom third of a users video screen only after ten seconds of content has streamed, and a newer unit dubbed The Sideloader Product Suite—which also utilizes a five-second spot and a delayed animated display ad appearing on the side of the video player.

Then, from January through April of this year MTVN began testing the three placements on its collection of sites, from MTV.com to ComedyCentral.com to CMT.com, using 50 million streams worth of ad inventory for three different advertisers, including a studio, a packaged goods brand, and a grocery brand. The results indicated that while pre-rolls faired OK, the “Lower 1/3” scored best when it came to classic branding metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent.

That approach was crucial, according to Nada Stirratt, MTV Networks’ executive vp of Digital Advertising—who told Mediaweek that Project Inform was specifically designed to study the power of brand advertising—and not direct response advertising—in Web video. Yet it also had to yield actionable data. “The premise was to find out what do you need to activate a consumer response to a marketer’s message,” she said.

And MTV deliberately zeroed in on short form video and casual games—content types that continue to explode in user popularity but have often fallen short when it comes to monetization. “Everybody talks about long form,” Stirratt said. “That was our bias – ‘how do we make these [shorter] experiences work for advertisers?’ The goal was to find the perfect balance between an ad unit that is effective in moving the needle and an ad unit that is likeable.”

Why do people like the “Lower 1/3” unit?  It’s hard to say definitively, but Stirratt’s theorized that it has something to do with the lag between the short five second pre-roll and the display unit, which comes 10-seconds later, when “you already have a favorable impression of a brand, and people are really engrossed in content. And they are still able to interact if they want.”

MTVN’s goal with Project Inform in some ways mirrors the research work being done by Publicis VivaKi and a host of prominent partners on The Pool —which is also aimed at establishing a better industry standard for Web video. But MTVN has declined to participate in The Pool, instead pushing forward in search of its own answer, one that Stirratt believes is desperately needed.

“Obviously we need agencies and clients on board [creating original online video ads],” she said. “The win for the industry is when people start creating things for this medium instead of for other media.”

Buying a Schedule on TV is Cheaper Than You Think.

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

Retro TV CommercialIt was just a matter of time.  Back in the day, a rep could easily count on three or four local auto dealers to make his/her budget.  No more.  The media gravy train at the local auto dealer has stopped. Now the real cold calling begins.

Bloomberg:   U.S. TV broadcasters, struggling to replace a 20 percent drop in automotive advertising revenue, are turning to pawn shops, plastic surgeons and other nontraditional sources to fill airtime.

Local station owners like Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. and Gray Television Inc., whose revenue dropped after bankrupt General Motors Corp. and local dealers slashed marketing, are selling mortgage brokers and even landscapers on the notion that TV is affordable.

Across the U.S., the price of an average 30-second local TV commercial tumbled as much as 20 percent last year from 2007, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising, a New York- based trade organization. Auto ad revenue at local stations, down a fifth in 2008 from the year before, plunged another 52 percent in the first quarter, the TV Bureau said.

“A lot of local retailers, like the portrait shop or the pet store, haven’t advertised on TV before because they think they can’t afford it,” said Robert Prather, president of Atlanta-based Gray. “We’re out just beating bushes that we should have been doing a long time ago.”

A half-hour of prime-time TV typically contains 22 minutes of programming and eight minutes of ads, two of which are for local commercials, according to the Television Bureau. Rates depend on how many viewers are watching.

The price of an average 30-second ad placed on a local TV station last year ranged from $6.66 per 1,000 viewer homes in the early morning to $27.29 in prime time, according to the TV Bureau. Prime hours, when stations usually have their largest audience, are generally 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. In 2007, the same rates were $8.09 and $34.12, the bureau said.

“One of the pitches made by stations is that it’s cheaper than you think, particularly if you were looking at prices from a year ago,” Gary Belis, a spokesman for the New York-based TV Bureau, said in an interview.

Nexstar, which said auto ad sales dropped about 40 percent in the March quarter, has sold airtime to pawn shops and mortgage businesses in the Northeast and to ranches in the West, Chief Executive Officer Perry Sook said in an interview.

“The greatest opportunity in all of our markets is local businesses not currently doing business with our TV stations,” said Sook, whose Irving, Texas-based company operates or provides services to 63 stations in markets including Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Jacksonville, Florida.

Nexstar’s new-to-TV advertisers include Snare & Associates Mortgage Services LLC in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.

“I started a new business and needed to get my face out there,” Chief Executive Officer Anthony Snare said in an interview. “It worked.”

Snare said he bought packages of 30-second spots from Nexstar at $1,000 to $4,000 a month.

Gray, whose 36 stations in markets including Madison, Wisconsin, and Augusta, Georgia, received 19 percent of ad revenue from automakers and dealers last year, is now booking ads from landscapers and plastic surgeons for the first time, said Prather. He declined to predict how much Gray would make this year from first-time TV advertisers.

The new ad sources aren’t likely to entirely replace the decline in auto revenue, analysts and TV executives said.

“The big issue is that it takes 10 or 12 small ones to make up for some of the big car dealers we’ve had in the past,” Prather said.

George’s Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.

Posted by truecreek on July 8, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Read the First Comment

Though thiswashington post is not based on advertising and marketing, I thought that since there  seems to be a groundswell of comments these days about the lack of civility in our society, it might just be prudent to do a little research on the topic.

Apparently, George Washington took some time early on to write a set of rules, based on a similar set from the Jesuits.

What you see within the rules as you read them is quite unique:  a focus on others.

Please take a moment to read them.

We all could use a reminder.


‘Let Me Tell You a Story’

Posted by truecreek on July 1, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By Carmine Gallo

It’s the best way to grab potential customers’ attention and warm them to your pitch. Here are some tips:

During a business trip in Reno, Mario Moretti Polegato took a walk in the Nevada desert. His feet began to hurt in his rubber-soled shoes, so he took out a pocket knife and cut holes in the soles for ventilation. When he returned to his home in Italy, he manufactured a special insole that lets perspiration out without letting water in. Polegato is now the chairman of the Geox shoe company. Polegato recounted that story in a recent interview in The New York Times. The same story is told on the Geox Web site, along with a photo of Polegato and the shoes he cut holes in during that fateful walk.

Most business communication is dry, writes David Meerman Scott in his new book, World Wide Rave. “People love to share stories. When someone says: ‘Let me tell you a story…’ you’re interested, right? When someone says: ‘Let me tell you about my company’s product&’ is your reaction the same? It doesn’t sound like a way you want to spend your valuable time, does it? Stories are exciting.” Tell more stories to create excitement. Consider employing the following tips in your next business presentation:

iStock_000006643045SmallTell stories about yourself. Stories can be incorporated into almost any business communication—blogs, Web sites, and especially face-to-face presentations where you have the best opportunity to make a strong emotional connection with your audience. In September 2007, Brad Nierenberg, CEO of RedPeg Marketing in Alexandria, Va., pitched a project to Gaylord National, a massive new resort outside Washington, D.C. He, along with several other members of the team, competed for the account to publicize the hotel’s hiring event the following year.

Nierenberg told me the team members told stories about themselves in the first slides of the pitch, connecting those stories to the roles each would play on the account. For example, the account lead showed a photo of herself as a young cheerleader and discussed how her role is to lead with precision and to keep spirits high. Nierenberg brought a picture of himself as a 6-year old in a cowboy outfit. As the “sheriff” in town, he might not be on the account every day, but he would be available to make sure “all was right in the town of Gaylord.” Nierenberg knew the stories were making on impact on his audience from the smiles on their faces. “They couldn’t wait for the next story,” he said. The attendees even asked for copies of the photos to show the other decision makers. RedPeg won the account.

Tell someone else’s story. “In a mental world, it is ideas that shape behavior, and it is the transformational leader’s job to package the right kind of ideas into a story and to effectively communicate it to the organization,” according to Charles S. Jacobs in Management Rewired. Note that Jacobs doesn’t say that a leader’s job is to tell his story. Personal stories work best in some cases, but not all. Sometimes your clients’ stories are more relevant than your own. For example, Eastcastle Place is an independent living complex for seniors in Milwaukee, Wis. Chicago-based Celtic Marketing, Eastcastles’ advertising agency, decided to use storytelling in its 2008-09 marketing plan. According to Celtic President Marlene Byrne, research demonstrated that seniors were interested in independent living but feared making the move. They assumed the transition would be stressful financially and emotionally. “We felt the best way to show them that moving doesn’t have to be overwhelming was to share stories of Eastcastle residents who already made the move and were happy they did.” Stories of real residents (along with their photographs) appeared in direct mail and public advertising.

The purpose of the Eastcastle ads are not to make a sale over the phone but to inspire prospects to visit the community. More often than not, a story doesn’t make the sale. Stories open the door, making a prospect more receptive to the message. Although I’ve never owned a pair of Geox shoes, on my next visit to Nordstrom, I will probably look at a pair and think about the guy who poked holes in shoes in the Nevada desert.

If you want to connect with your audience, inspire them, and motivate them to action, start telling stories.

35 Percent of Adults Have a Profile On Social Networking Sites.

Posted by truecreek on June 29, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Amanda Lenhart

The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s December 2008 tracking survey.

While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks.

Still, younger online adults are much more likely than their older counterparts to use social networks, with 75% of adults 18-24 using these networks, compared to just 7% of adults 65 and older. At its core, use of online social networks is still a phenomenon of the young.

Overall, personal use of social networks seems to be more prevalent than professional use of networks, both in the orientation of the networks that adults choose to use as well as the reasons they give for using the applications. Most adults, like teens, are using online social networks to connect with people they already know.

When users do use social networks for professional and personal reasons, they will often maintain multiple profiles, generally on different sites.

Most, but not all adult social network users are privacy conscious; 60% of adult social network users restrict access to their profiles so that only their friends can see it, and 58% of adult social network users restrict access to certain content within their profile.