New 4/C Print for Fortress Technologies.

Posted by truecreek on February 3, 2010 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

Delivered in a small and rugged form factor with its size, weight and power specifically tailored for vehicles, the Fortress ES820 provides industry leading radio range.  It’s an amazing piece of equipment.  This is the latest in 4/C print work produced by True Creek for Fortress Technologies.

Comcast Atlanta Journal Constitution Campaign.

Posted by truecreek on January 5, 2010 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

I love headlines. We just completed a campaign for Comcast touting their new 50/10 Internet product.  The campaign is to run in the Atlanta Journal Constitution for 11 consecutive weeks, starting next week.

You have to appreciate just how impactful these ads will be with their big and bold copy running across the bottom of the page. Simple and clean look, with essentially nothing but a great headline to drag you in.

To me, a print ad should entice and entertain, not educate. There will be more than enough time to do that later after I call you or hit your  site.

Check ’em out.

4/C Fortress Technologies Print

Posted by truecreek on January 4, 2010 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

The start of a new campaign for Fortress Technologies.  Nice, clean look mated with a very strong visual. Definitely a bit more earthy in tone than what has been the norm, but I think it works well.   Many other great headlines to work with in the future.

Burt Launches Analytics Tool for Creatives.

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

If this software works well, it could really improve the creative process for digital media.

From Creativity.

Burt, a software development company that sprang from Crispin Porter + Bogusky Europe, has released its digital media analytics product, Rich.

Rich is aimed squarely at agency creatives and is designed as a streamlined, accessible – and free- tool for measuring the success of online campaigns.

iStock_000009082558SmallBurt was co-founded by Gustav von Sydow and Gustav Martner of Daddy, which was acquired by CP+B this year. von Sydow was a planner at Daddy and is now working at Burt full-time; Martner is still ECD of CP+B Europe. As agency types, they say they have a greater understanding of the specific needs of creatives when it comes to these sort of tools.

Burt is making Rich available to agencies for free and, starting in January, will offer premium services like media quality audits and pre-testing for a fee.

Read more about Burt Unit Launches Analytics Tool for Creatives here.

Nike Is Turning (RED).

Posted by truecreek on December 2, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

From Popsop:

The Nike (RED) campaign was launched yesterday, December 1, in 13 countries around the world. Like Starbucks, another global brand, the sportswear maker joined the movements dedicated to fighting AIDS in Africa. All the revenues gathered from selling red football laces, with each pair costing $4.00, will be donated to the Global Fund.

Nike is turning RED

What Black Friday Shoppers Spent on – And Where.

Posted by truecreek on November 30, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Bertha Coombs, CNBC

Retailers drew more shoppers to open their wallets this Black Friday weekend, but the steep discounts they used to get them in the door meant that on average, shoppers spent less.

What Black Friday ShoppersThe National Federation of Retailers says 195 million people shopped at stores and online over the weekend, up 13.3 percent from last year. Total spending was flat at $41.2 billion, but on average consumers spent 8.5 percent less, roughly $343 per person compared to $372 a year ago.

Department stores emerged the shopping destination of choice for nearly half of all shoppers polled in the NRF’s Black Friday survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

Discount stores came in second garnering a 43.2 percent share, and outlets picking up 7.8 percent of shoppers. Just over one in four surveys shopped at electronics stores (29 percent) or online (28.5 percent).

Two years into the deepest recession in a generation, consumers may be showing signs of what some have termed frugal fatigue, says the NRF’s Ellen Davis. “Retailers have to come away from this weekend encouraged,” she says, “that shoppers were willing to spend on some discretionary items.”

Capital Growth Partners president Craig Johnson says the consumer was back in force over Black Friday weekend. In a note to clients, he wrote, ‘These are not simply browsers, but buyers, with checkout lines of 30 or longer in some mall teen specialty stores, and checkout lines exceeding 350 in several Big Box stores.”

Just over half shoppers bought clothing, according to the survey, helping to boost department store sales. About forty percent bought books, DVDs and video games.   Those numbers were about the same as last year.

Price wars on popular toys at Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us saw more shoppers buying toys as gifts. About a third of shoppers said they spent money on toys, a 12.9 percent increase from last year.

According to the survey, more shoppers bought sporting and leisure items this year — 12.6 percent, up a point from last year. Personal care and beauty items saw a bigger increase — 22.4 percent up from 19.0 percent — along with gift cards — 21.2 percent vs. 18.7 percent a year ago.

Did those early door busters in the wee hours of the morning pay off? Nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2 percent) were at the stores by 5 a.m. according to the NRF survey, that’s up from 23.3 percent last year. The majority of those early shoppers were men or younger shoppers.

Advertising Resurgence Hits the Spot for TV Networks.

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

By Meg James

There’s finally some new life in old media.

After pummeling traditional media companies for nearly two years, the advertising recession is showing signs of a recovery. TV networks — including Fox, CBS and ABC and such leading cable channels as TNT, TBS, USA, Bravo and Fox News Channel — have benefited the most as advertisers have been snapping up available commercial spots and agreeing to pay significantly higher prices than they did just five months ago.

“In challenging times, people go back to what they know, and what they know best is television,” said David Levy, president of sales for Turner Entertainment, which includes TNT and TBS. “It is a little too early to declare victory, but the market is definitely improving.”

The welcome news is the result of stronger-than-expected demand for TV advertising in the “scatter” market, in which advertisers frequently have to pay premiums for scarce available commercial time. It also represents something of a win for the networks, which gambled this summer that demand would pick up later in the year and held back a larger percentage of their inventory than in previous years, hoping to capitalize on the improved economy.

Fourth-quarter commercial sales have been propelled by retail chains hoping to ignite their holiday sales; technology giants Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc., which have new products to promote; cellphone carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, which are battling for customers; and even such financial firms as American Express, according to television executives and advertising buyers surveyed this week.

Such strong demand has made up for the weaker orders from other mainstay advertisers, including automakers, still reeling from weak sales, and Hollywood movie studios, which have fewer new movies to hype.

A fourth quarter described by one top network sales executive as “gangbusters” amazed even veterans who have lived through several economic cycles. Only five months ago, the industry was bracing for another dismal year as TV network sales teams were engaged in protracted negotiations with advertisers that were demanding that the networks roll back prices as much as 20%. Networks eventually agreed to trim rates about 5% to 8% to mollify advertisers and begin unloading their time.

But now, in some cases, advertisers have agreed to pay rates 10% to 35% higher than the prices established in June and July, when the networks sold the bulk of their time for the new TV season. In addition, advertisers that placed their orders in the summer are honoring their commitments. Network executives said that few advertisers have canceled their orders for commercial spots, in contrast with a year ago.

“We have all been surprised that the ad market has come back this soon,” said Gary Carr, executive director of national broadcast for the advertising firm TargetCast. The networks, he said, also face easier comparisons because last fall, with banks failing and the economy on the skids, companies were afraid to spend on advertising.

“A year ago, people thought the world was coming to an end, and the U.S. economy was falling apart,” Carr said. “But the world did not come to an end. Cars still have to be sold, and studios still need people to go see their movies. Advertisers have begun releasing the money that they have been holding onto all year.”

Even local TV stations — among the hardest hit by the slump in advertising spending — have received a lift, primarily fueled by stores that unleashed their holiday sales campaigns earlier in the season, according to television executives.

Not all media outlets have rebounded, however. Many small cable TV channels and Spanish-language television networks are still hurting, according to television executives. Newspapers, magazines and radio stations also continue to struggle.

“In many sectors, the news is still grim,” said Jon Swallen, senior vice president for research at TNS Media Intelligence, which tracks advertising spending. “And there is still a fairly large hole for these companies to dig out of before they get back to the levels they were a few years ago.”

Unexpectedly, online advertising also has taken it on the chin.

Many advertisers are no longer as eager to buy Internet display ads as they were two or three few years ago, when firms were steering millions of ad dollars to online sites.

“There is still a big push toward digital and online video, but the Internet display advertising market is challenged,” said Greg Kahn, senior vice president of strategic insights at advertising firm Optimedia. “There is so much clutter in the space, and advertisers have begun to question the effectiveness of those display ads.”

More here.

Consumers are Changing, but are Retailers?

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

In wake of recession, consumers look for value, focus on essentials.

By Allison Linn

The recession has dramatically changed many Americans’ shopaholic habits, at least temporarily and perhaps forever.

Now the question is whether the nation’s retailers have kept up.

shopping bags“The answer is no,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with NPD Group.

He’s not alone in that assessment.

Although it’s still early days of the holiday shopping season, some analysts are already worried that too many merchants are taking a business-as-usual approach to an era that is anything but usual. Any miscalculation could be disastrous for retailers, who typically expect up to 20 percent of annual sales and a bigger share of annual profits during the critical holiday season.

“Retailers still don’t have a full grasp of reality,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of  Strategic Resource Group, a consulting firm.

Flickinger thinks many of the nation’s retail executives don’t completely understand how severely the Great Recession has affected the millions of Americans who have lost jobs, had their wages cut or are living in fear of a job loss.

That, he noted, is on top of other financial concerns many Americans are facing, including a steep drop in home and investment values.

Retailers have good reason to fear such financial jitters, having only last year endured a disastrous season in which holiday retail sales fell 3.4 percent as Americans, rattled by the financial crisis, held onto their pocketbooks.

This year, Flickinger said, consumers are facing the reality of a sky-high unemployment rate and growing concerns about credit card debt.

“Shoppers are more scared going into this holiday season than any time in the last 50 years,” he said.

In the new era of tight budgets, consumers are looking for good value on the items they want and need. But instead, many analysts say retailers seem to be taking a different approach: offering ever-more extreme discounts on items they want to get rid of.

The super-low price method of offloading excess inventory has become so commonplace, even among higher-end retailers, that shoppers are coming to the conclusion that many products are just worth less, said brand analyst Robert Passikoff.

“It isn’t just that you learned that there will be sales — there will always be sales — but what it’s done is it ultimately affects the value perception of the product,” said Passikoff, president of the customer loyalty research firm Brand Keys.

More here.

The New Sweatpants Society.

Posted by truecreek on October 28, 2009 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.

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

Posted by truecreek on October 26, 2009 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.

spread2

spreads3

cover

College Kids Are the Digital Demo.

Posted by truecreek on October 14, 2009 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.

Now Hear This: House Subcommittee Approves Commercial Loudness Bill.

Posted by truecreek on October 9, 2009 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.

LOUD

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.”

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

Some Nice Design from Kyle.

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

Strong piece of design from Kyle, a member of The Creekbed.

SoundAsylum Logo2

U.S. Consumers Show Permanent Changes Linked to the Economic Downturn.

Posted by truecreek on September 25, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them., Research | Be the First to Comment

In a follow up to one of my earlier posts, research conducted by Hart Research Associates for Citi has shown that consumers in the U.S. have made what they are calling “permanent spending and savings changes” as a result of the current recession.

According to a tidbit in today’s edition of the USA Today, 63% percent of the people contacted by Hart stated emphatically that the way they handle their personal finances has been changed forever and only 29% plan on going back to the old way of doing things.

If this research proves out to be prophetic, and I believe it will, all marketers will have to hope they can get a piece of what will be a much smaller pie.

http://truecreek.com/2009/07/29/what-will-this-recession-teach-us/

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

Ouch.

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.

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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.

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

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.

miller_competition

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.