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.

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.

‘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.

New Formats Give Online Video Ads Potential.

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

By Michael Learmonth

For years, the promise of online video advertising has been just that — a promise. The reality has been a big disappointment: ads that look and feel like TV, and are repurposed from TV creative, only much more annoying.

The reason for this is twofold: advertisers and agencies were reticent to spend money on new creative for online video, and the video market itself was splintered, and lacked the kind of content advertisers were comfortable with.

But with the TV-upfront market frozen and advertisers looking for lower-cost means to reach consumers, a push is on to try formats that could finally realize some of the potential of online video with targeted ads that engage with real interactivity. “As prime-time audiences decrease, it makes sense to go where the audiences are going,” said Chris Allen, VP-video innovation at Starcom USA.

VivaKi, like Starcom a unit of Publicis, is running a yearlong test of different formats for both long- and short-form content known as “The Pool.” Earlier this year Reckitt-Benckiser, marketer of Clearasil and Lysol, primed the market with a $20 million budget shift to the web from TV for campaigns on ad networks like Yume, Brightroll and Nabbr.

Meanwhile, a flurry of innovation is taking place across the industry to move marketers away from static pre-rolls and impression-based pricing to different models that take advantage of the web.

“We’re in this funky transition period in the industry; the lion’s share of what advertisers are doing is repurposing TV creative for video, but some are dipping their toe into new creative and testing new formats,” said Hulu Senior VP Jean-Paul Colaco.

The goal here is to lure more dollars online and increase the size of what IPG unit Magna Global estimates will be a $700 million pie in 2009. Nearly 80% of the U.S. online audience watches video, according to ComScore, but the time spent is just 1% of TV viewing, which is a $70 billion market. So an argument could be made that online video is getting its share, but no one here is making that argument, are they?

Here’s sampling of some of the latest efforts to reinvent online video ads:

# CBS, through its TV.com unit, is experimenting with a system that would allow users to earn credits by watching ads. Earn enough credits and you can watch ad-free. It’s also experimenting with bigger ad loads. Typically a half-hour show online has two minutes of ads, compared with eight minutes on TV. CBS is pushing that up to five minutes with no measureable consumer blow-back.

# Tremor Media has rolled out a host of ad units called vChoice that bring interactivity into the player. Viewers can choose the ad they watch, dig deeper into related content, watch a product demo and play a game all without leaving the video experience. Some units allow advertisers to use their existing creative. Others “push the boundaries of what has been done by allowing new, nonlinear storytelling,” said Shane Steele, Tremor VP-marketing.

# Hulu pioneered the choose-your-own pre-roll “ad selector” unit, which allows users to choose an ad, including a long-form movie trailer in exchange for an ad-free episode. The site has also experimented with ad-free blocks where an advertiser such as McDonald’s buys up the ad inventory to make prime time ad-free. The Disney-News Corp.-NBCU joint venture has also tried live ads, like the faux “telethon” for Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

# YouTube introduced its own variation on choose-your-own-ads just last week. Google’s video site is trying out a system where viewers can choose to watch a pre-roll ad or a “promoted video,” which itself is a media buy. Either way, the view helps YouTube fulfill guarantees made to advertisers.

# Then there are “engagement” pricing models where the advertiser pays for a specific action, rather than an impression. Video-ad network ScanScout, for example, serves rich overlays that allow users to hover over or click to watch an ad or movie trailer. The network did a deal with Universal Pictures for “Fast and the Furious 4,” where the studio paid for a number of completed views of the trailer rather than impressions.

Another GREAT Visa Concept. Who Does This Stuff?

Posted by truecreek on June 24, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Ok.  Who is the AD and Photographer for this Visa work?  GREAT.

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From the Archives.

Posted by truecreek on June 23, 2009 under The Work | 2 Comments to Read

A real nice piece of work from Rebecca, a fine writer and member of The Creekbed.

Swissar

An Improved Outlook and its Effect on the Mood of Your Customer.

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

Well, studies are starting to show that people are beginning to feel better about things and that’s a good thing for all kinds of businesses.

Just go to the mall and look at all the shopping bags people are lugging around.  Traffic at car dealerships is up.  My local Panera is busier than ever.

Are your customers starting to see the good side of life again?

Glenn’s Work is Something Special.

Posted by truecreek on June 9, 2009 under The Work | Read the First Comment

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You have to give Glenn a lot of credit.  He’s an extremely talented art director, with a tremendous background in production to boot.

The best thing?  He’s a member of The Creekbed.  I was impressed by the fact that he’s done work for over 150 companies, so you know he’s going to bring the level of experience and creative talent needed to effectively communicate with art.

Here are a few examples of some of his work for the automotive industry.mclaren-ad1

Sometimes a Picture Tells a Thousand Words.

Posted by truecreek on June 3, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Read the First Comment

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When Will Marketers Boost Spending?

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

We’ve been discussing this exact same thing with clients for several months now and it seems like we’re almost there.    Brand advertising on TV will once again be back in vogue, with some nice budgets behind it.

By Mark Dolliver

Will ad agencies need to wait until the recession has certifiably ended before they see a rebound in their clients’ spending? A survey released today by the Association of National Advertisers gives a glimmer of hope that marketers’ expenditures will turn upward sooner than that.

In online polling last month among members of the ANA’s Brand Marketer Leadership Community panel, 68 percent of respondents said they plan boost their media budgets as the economy recovers; 41 percent said they’ll increase their spending on social networking/word of mouth. As for the timing, 73 percent said “they would ideally implement these increased marketing activities three to six months before the recession ends, and an additional 16 percent as soon as it ends.”

A renewed focus on long-term brand-building will represent a shift from what many marketers have been doing as the recession deepened. The ANA’s report of the findings says two-thirds of marketers “have shifted their emphasis to more short-term strategies in the last six months.” Such a shift is reflected in the answers respondents gave when asked to cite the areas in which they’ve cut back. Fifty-six percent said they’ve cut media budgets, and 41 percent said the same about sponsorship/events activities. The activity most likely to have been increased amid the recession: “pricing deals,” cited by 47 percent of respondents.

For all the flux in marketers’ use of media, TV remained atop the standings when respondents were asked to say which media are effective for building brand equity. Sixty-four percent cited TV. Though down from 80 percent in a similar February 2007 poll, that still put TV ahead of online (61 percent) and “guerrilla/word of mouth/buzz marketing” (57 percent). Lagging farther behind were magazines (51 percent, down from 67 percent in 2007), radio (30 percent, down from 36 percent), outdoor (26 percent, down from 35 percent) and newspapers (19 percent, down from 36 percent). Social media garnered the most mentions as “the media channel that marketers would like to use but have not yet been able to implement.”

Elsewhere in the survey (conducted in conjunction with marketing-services firm ‘mktg’), respondents were asked about the factors they watch most closely as indicators of “brand health” — i.e., the degree to which brand equity is increasing or declining. “Customer experience/satisfaction” was cited by 48 percent of respondents — up from 37 percent in the 2007 poll. “There is less focus on traditional metrics such as brand image and awareness, which tend to be lagging indicators of brand health,” says the ANA report of the findings.

Before Marketers Ask for Trust, Perhaps They Should Apologize.

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

By Jonah Bloom

There are many ads today from our imperiled banks, insurance companies and automakers telling us that we can still trust them and should still buy their products. But there’s one word consumers haven’t heard much that might serve these companies better than their current dirges: sorry.

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That thought came to mind as a rash of “We’re sorry” ads broke out recently across the pond in the U.K. As a native of Britain, I should note that being sorry is our national pastime. (My parents, who are always profoundly apologetic, often on my behalf, fondly recall the time I briefly knocked out my 10-year-old self by walking into a parking meter and came to fuzzily apologizing to said inanimate object.) I’ve often wondered whether this propensity has anything to do with some deep-seated national guilt at the many atrocities committed by our former empire.

Regardless of its origins, these days it manifests itself in nothing more serious than an underwear manufacturer apologizing for charging bigger-breasted women more for bigger bras. Yes, Marks & Spencer recently ran a national campaign apologizing for this. The headline, of course: “We boobed.”

This mea culpa hit more or less at the same time London’s Evening Standard newspaper, relaunching under new ownership, ran a major outdoor campaign saying sorry: “Sorry for Losing Touch,” “Sorry for Being Negative,” and so on.

Sunny Delight also decided to confess its sins. It’s running ads in a number of U.K. women’s weeklies, with the wording: “Britain’s mums told us where to stick the artificial ingredients. And it wasn’t in the bottle.” The drink has been relaunched as a healthful option.

Apologizing in ads isn’t new. Under fire, it’s crisis 101. In the auto industry, we’ve seen many variations, from Renault apologizing to the French people for its various missteps in the early ’90s to various apologies alongside product recalls to GM’s semi-apologetic “Road to Redemption” campaign.

Yet despite a mountain of evidence that American people feel they’ve been let down by car companies, banks, insurers and, indeed, corporate America as a whole, we haven’t heard a whole lot of sorry.

Doug Wojcieszak, author of an apology-strategy book called “Sorry Works!” and founder of a company by the same name, says it’s not a cultural thing, and that, in fact, sorry works in the U.S. “It works very well here because of our immigrant culture. Many of us screwed up elsewhere, that’s why we’re here. Americans get mistakes — they just don’t get or like coverups.”

Perhaps the problem is CEOs and lawyers don’t want to admit culpability for anything that’s gone wrong. But even that doesn’t stand up as an excuse, according to Mr. Wojcieszak. Most of his work has been in the litigation minefield of health care, where he’s building a growing body of evidence that failure to apologize is often a key factor in malpractice becoming a lawsuit, and, conversely, that apologies defuse more potential legal situations than they create. “Even senior health-care executives are starting to understand that apologizing actually takes away the urge to litigate,” he says.

Of course, as any savvy marketer, or properly-adjusted human being, knows, there are two conditions that have to be met for contrition to mean anything. You have to mean it, and you have to be able to show meaningful ways in which you’re changing whatever it was you’re apologizing for.

But assuming that many of the people at America’s bailed-out banks and automakers probably are pretty sorry about way they mismanaged their businesses about now, I can’t help thinking that it’d be a valuable start for a bunch of companies generally regarded as having been too arrogant to see the mistakes they were making to share their regrets with the public.

Some Fun Stuff from Kyle Williams, a Member of The Creekbed.

Posted by truecreek on May 21, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

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17 Ways to Use Twitter.

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

By Maki

I’ve signed up for a Twitter account a long time ago and used it sporadically because it never really did appeal to me. Last week I decided to give it another chance and installed Snitter, a desktop application for Twitter.

I started using it actively and gradually developed an avid interest. I think Twitter is a manageable process that can be adopted for all types of lifestyles, busy or inactive. You’ll just need to integrate it within your normal workflow. It’s addictive but once you understand how to use it, it’ll be a very effective tool indeed.

Having read a great deal of other articles on Twitter, I decided a do a quick summary of all the ways you can use Twitter for both your professional or personal life. Some of these methods go beyond the use of Twitter as a lifestreaming device:

1. Personal Branding. Twitter is a social media platform you can use to build your personal brand. It has the primary benefit of developing a casual persona and establishes you as a social personality that is connected and approachable. As Twitter adoption increases, new users will be drawn towards well established Twitter personas.

2. Get Feedback. Need an alternative perspective on how a website looks or the right course of action to take?   Blast out a message asking for advice and you’ll receive replies from other users. This collective intelligence can be used as fodder for articles or projects.

3. Hire People. Need a good logo designer, marketer or programmer? Send out a message asking for recommendations. This is a very quick and easy way to hire freelancers or even companies based on familiar recommendations.

4. Direct traffic. Twitter can be used to get traffic to your websites or the sites of friends. If you ask your friends to tweet about it, the message will spread faster and further as other active users pick it up. There is a viral nature to all types of news, even on a site like Twitter.

5. Read News. Twitter users often link to useful sites or articles and can be a source of scoops and alternative news. You can also subscribe to Twitter feeds for specific websites/conferences, which allows you to receive and view content quickly. This is very useful for active social news participants.

6. Make New Friends. Like any other social network, Twitter has a built-in function for you to befriend and track the messages of other users. This is an easy way for you connect with people outside of your usual circle. Make an effort to add active users you find interesting. A Twitter acquaintance can be developed into a long lasting friendship.

7. Network for benefits. Twitter can be used as a socializing platform for you to interact with other like-minded people, especially those in the same industry. It can be used to establish consistent and deeper relationships for future benefits such as testimonials or peer recommendations.

8. Use it as a ToDo list. Use Twitter to record down what you need to do while you are away from the computer. Mark the tweet as a favorite to file it for referencing. Another alternative is to use an Online task management service that is synced with Twitter. One example is Remember The Milk.

9. Business Management. Twitter can be used as a company intranet that connects employees to one another. Workers can liaise with each other when working on group projects. Particularly useful when certain workers go out often in the field. Updates could be set to private for security reasons.

10. Notify Your Customers. Set up a Twitter feed for the specific purpose of notifying customers when new products come in. Customers can subscribe via mobile or RSS for instant notification. Twitter can also be used to provide mini-updates for one-on-one clients.

11. Take Notes. Twitter provides you with an easy way to record important ideas or concepts you want to explore further. Include links relevant to ideas you want to explore. Note taking can also be done offline via mobile applications.

12. Event Updates. Businesses can use Twitter as a means to inform event participants and latest event happenings/changes. This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information, especially when you don’t have the means to set up a direct mobile link between you and the audience

13. Find Prospects. Twitter can be used as a means to find potential customers or clients online. Do a search for keywords related to your product on Twitter Search and then follow users. Tweet about topics parallel to your product and close prospects away from public channels by using direct messages or offline communications. Discretion and skill is needed in this area.

14. Provide Live coverage. Twitter’s message size limit prevents detailed coverage of events but it can allow you to provide real-time commentary which may help to spark further discussion or interest on the event as other Twitter users spread the message. Very useful for citizen journalism.

15. Time Management and Analysis. Twitter can simply be used to keep a detailed record of what you are doing every daily. This might be boring for others but this type of usage is useful when you want to analyze how you spend and manage your time.

16. Set Up Meetings. Twitter can help you organize impromptu meetups. For example, you can twitter a message while at a cafe, event or art gallery and arrange to meet fellow users at a specific spot. It’s an informal and casual way of arranging a meeting.

17. Acquire Votes. Send a link to your stories you’ve submitted in other social news sites like Digg. Sometimes your followers will vote up the stories because they agree with it. This allows you to acquire more support for your efforts on other social media websites.

Comcast Medical Vertical Market Four Color Print.

Posted by truecreek on May 19, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

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What Are You Packing Into Your (Creative) Briefs? Your Creatives Want Clear, Tightly Written Objectives.

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

By Howard Margulies

You are an advertiser, an account director, brand planner or an ad agency executive. And you have come to the conclusion that something is fundamentally wrong with your creative brief.

Your suspicion is confirmed by that gnawing sensation you feel in your gut when evaluating the advertising created in service of the deficient brief. The work feels indistinct or generic, crammed with information, yet devoid of a differentiating message; its tonality is either too quiet or patently overbearing in its desperate need for attention.

Blame must be assigned: It’s got to be the brief.

Changing an organization’s creative brief can be a politically charged, time-consuming ordeal; but that aside, choosing a new form is a fairly simple task. Put the words “creative brief” into Google, and with a little digging, you will encounter 117,000 links, many pitching their own idealized construct. Some forms are verbose, others elegantly concise. Choose one that feels right and run with it. Related: My doctor once observed that if a wide range of products exist to treat a medical condition, one might assume that none of them work notably better than another. What’s true for poison ivy is true for the creative brief. They will all sort of work, more or less.

Here are some guidelines for experimenting with a new, improved creative brief:

* Think simple. The more sophisticated the brief, the simpler it should be. The more glissandi and grace notes the piece has, the harder it is to play.

* More spaces to fill present a greater opportunity for bad poetry. Avoid theoretical definitions; keep the language at the 8th-grade level.

* Write in clear, declarative sentences.

* Test out the chosen version with products or services you know well. If you can get all the key ideas in, you’re good to go.

* Every fact or observation you add to the brief must be useful and actionable. If not, leave it out.

* Does the final brief say what you want it to mean?

* Write a couple of bad ads directly from your brief. What would the headline say? What would be the key visual? Is that the beating heart of your story?

The humbling reality is, regardless of the pedigree of the agency championing a particular style of creative brief, in practice it will fail to result in great advertising if the guidance it provides is merely factual, or unclear and unfocused. The format of your chosen creative brief may well be the least of your problems.

PROBLEM No. 1: Filling out the brief.

The very notion of “filling out” a creative brief should fill you with dread. Because if simply filling it out is the goal of the individual(s) tasked with its completion, it will not end well.

Too often, the creative brief is joylessly “filled out” as if it were the worksheet to an IRS 1040 Schedule C. Values are plugged into fields. Facts substituted for insights. Data dumped in a hierarchical, unfiltered lump. Keep in mind that at the end of this process, no matter how flawed or absent the thinking, it will look exactly like a creative brief.

When you write a creative brief, you’re not filling out a form. You’re crafting the story of your product and its reason to exist and thrive in the world. This is the first, and arguably the most important creative act of the entire process. And yet it’s often approached with all the delight of passing a kidney stone.

Believe it or not, your creatives want the freedom of a tightly written brief. They’re looking to you for inspiration. Man up. Make them care.

Peter Comber, creative director at Italy’s DWA, wants “clear objectives, and clear targets.” “Sell more,” he insists, is not an objective any more than “everyone” is a target audience.

Dallas Baker, creative director of Freed Advertising, wants a brief “to connect [him] with the target on a level [he] wouldn’t otherwise understand … to be taken into a brand and … the challenge that lies ahead.”

It all comes down to this: Are you telling the right story to the right audience? The right story is not merely true, but motivating to any given audience. Often inarguable, self-evident truths are ladled into a creative brief under the guise of insight. This will not go unnoticed.

Your creative teams may dress like slackers, but they have been genetically bred to sniff out a con job. Oh, they may not immediately realize that your core leverageable insight is not really very insightful or leverageable. But know this: After they work with the brief for a while, they will arrive at that conclusion.

The creatives will scour the brief for a declarative message (anything!) delivered with clarity, something they can sink their teeth into. Finding none, in utter desperation, they will reach into their advertising bag of tricks and their instinctive knowledge of consumer motivators to create a marginally interesting way of stating the painfully obvious.

But ultimately, the smoke will clear and the creative work will not stand up to scrutiny. They will come to you for clarification, and you will be frustrated by their inability to crack the code. Be gentle with them.

It’s not the format of the brief, but the story it tells.

PROBLEM No. 2: How will you know when you have written a good brief?

Brevity goes a long way to winning over some of your creative comrades. Creative legend Jackie End’s litmus test for a good brief is “when you can read it without missing lunch and dinner.”

Steve Capp, chief creative officer of Unit 7, has observed that if your brief is too long, “someone didn’t spend enough time on it.”

Surely, when your creatives begin to nod, rather than nod off, you know you’re on the right track. But how do you know you have nailed it?

It’s been suggested that you’ll know you’re onto something big when you can pitch the story in under 30 seconds. Can you deliver an elevator speech for your product? Are you writing it to be read?

Dave Dresden, director of International Promotions at Warner Bros., suggests that “actually speaking the words out loud … lets one sense the potential for an ‘a-ha’ insight.” Distance yourself from the brief, if you can. If you were hearing the ideas for the first time, would you buy in?

In a privately published 1998 monograph, “What’s A Good Brief? The Leo Burnett Way,” a “good creative brief” was defined as “brief and single minded … logical and rooted in a compelling truth … [incorporating] a powerful human insight.” That opinion was echoed by several ad veterans I polled for this article.

Rich Solomon, creative director at C2Creative, senses that a brief is leading into fertile territory “when concepts start to come immediately after reading a single-minded benefit statement.”

DWA’s Comber thinks the clearest evidence of a solid brief is that when he’s “reading it the first time, he reaches for a pen and paper.”

Greg DiNoto, CEO of DiNoto Inc., knows when he’s in good hands “when a brief is dense, when it commits … and [he] can immediately and intuitively sense the truth in it.”

DiNoto has it exactly right. When writing a brief, you must fully commit to an idea:

* This is the time to fall on the sword. Commit!

* Refrain from peppering the brief with ideas; a little bit of this or that. Layering ideas in a painterly way is dishonest. Commit!

* Say one thing, and say it clearly.

* Don’t try to outshine the creatives, don’t let your cleverness show; keep the language simple and clear.

* Anything resembling a tagline should be deleted.

* Support, amplify, clarify, stay on message.

If you have doubts that you have chosen the right path, find another. The universe has an infinite supply of paths; choose one.

It is a faulty assumption to believe that a killer ad campaign was the product of an unusually imaginative creative brief. Quite the opposite is more likely to be true. It is also not inevitable that any given campaign would result from any given brief. This is a deterministic function of the zeitgeist, the talents and disposition of the creative teams, the openness and receptivity of the target audience, and the ability of an agency and client to celebrate the power of a great idea and run with it.

The Goodby, Silverstein & Partners award-winning “Got Milk?” campaign was based on a powerful, single-minded insight: People wait until they’re out of milk to realize that they need to buy more. The campaign’s scenarios were highly entertaining, but the core message was: “Milk enhances the enjoyment of many foods. Don’t wait until you’re out. Buy some today.” In Goodby’s hands, advertising history was made. At another shop, the spots might’ve sounded like infomercials for the ShamWow!

A truly motivating insight is a secret bit of knowledge that you have about your target audience that you can exploit to make them do your bidding. Don’t squander it.

Study the great advertising of the world. Dissect and reverse engineer it. But don’t fall into the trap of equating the creativity or memorability of a campaign with the writing style found in the brief that got them there.

* Keep your creative briefs free of clever turns of phrase, taglines, or ad-speak.

* Fill your brief with brilliant market analysis and motivational insights into your target audience.

* And most of all, write with clarity.

Some Nice Upmarket Design From a Member of The Creekbed.

Posted by truecreek on May 11, 2009 under The Work | Be the First to Comment

As a member of The Creekbed, True Creek’s very talented freelance creative team, Gabe has designed some nice work.

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Increasing Marketing and Advertising Spend is a Good Thing. Trust Us.

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

Time and time again, we’ve heard the  story:  Increase your marketing and advertising spend.  Now.  Not only to keep your brand top of mind but to assure that when everything settles down and we’re back in business, you will be too.  And in a big way.

Folks will remember you were there when the proverbial crap hit the fan.  That you were strong enough to keep the fires burning so that when the time comes for them to need your company, you will be there.  Better, stronger and leaner than ever.

Seize the opportunity now.  Start thinking positive about things and get back in the game.  Add weeks, don’t cut them.  Print the entire quantity, not just a segment.  Use better paper.  Shoot in HD.  Raise those production standards.  Buy more media.  Shoot, how about running some great print ads?  The newspaper community needs your business.

Better yet.  Hire a great Northern Virginia Ad Agency by the name of True Creek and we’ll help your company put it together.

picture1A few months ago, Mike Matson wrote and article that merits another post.

MarketSense study during the 1989-91 recession demonstrated that brands such as Jif Peanut Butter and Kraft Salad Dressing increased their advertising and experienced sales growth of 57% to 70%. During this same period, most of the beer industry made cuts to their ad budgets, but Coors Light and Bud Light increased their budgets and saw sales jump 15% to 16%. Among fast food companies, Pizza Hut sales rose 61% and Taco Bell’s 40% due to strong advertising support, reducing McDonald’s sales by as much as 28%.

MarketSense concluded the study by reporting. “The best strategy for coping with a recession is balanced exploitation of ad spending for long-term consumer motivation, plus promotion for short term sales boosts.”

Strategies to help your business thrive in this economy.

• Don’t cut your ad budget, increase it. Let your competition cut their budgets. When you increase your spending, you increase your share of voice. If your competitors cut back, your message grows even stronger.

• Have a strategic marketing plan that is well thought out, so you don’t waste money advertising the wrong message in the wrong place to the wrong audience.

• Keep your loyal customers by keeping in touch with them and letting them know what you have to offer.

• Maintain your brand awareness. Advertising works cumulatively so you have to remind people frequently about your brand or they’ll forget you.

• Achieve greater media efficiency by taking advantage of more negotiable rates and special promotions.

• Don’t degrade your advertising by trying to save a few dollars on creative or production costs. Your customers will notice and will perceive lower quality not just in your advertising, but in your products and services.

This is one time to stress quality—and value. “All great enterprises move forward in a recession, and the weaklings move backward. The dumbbells cut back on advertising. The smart people don’t.” -Ed McCabe, founding partner of Scali, McCabe, Stoves advertising agency, a legendary Madison Avenue agency of years past.

Mother’s Day is Right Around the Corner. Have You Called Your Power Mom?

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

Moms Say Marketers Ignore Their Needs

-By Jessica Hogue, Nielsen Online

Marketers have made great strides in recent years to better understand and connect with moms. But in trying to perfect the message, many have forgotten to listen to the very consumer they are trying to woo.

According to M2Moms, 60 percent of moms feel that marketers are ignoring their needs, and 73 percent feel that advertisers don’t really understand what it’s like to be a mom.

Last year’s Motrin Moms kerfuffle, in which women on Twitter and YouTube reacted to an ad offending baby-toting moms, raised the antennae of marketing managers everywhere and underscored the importance of not just reaching moms but understanding their value systems.

Initiatives like Wal-Mart’s “elevenmoms” (a partnership through which the retail giant and a collection of mom bloggers are building a well-timed money saving community) demonstrate how marketers are taking steps forward to engage moms — particularly mom bloggers — and to develop mechanisms to absorb their input. Not all marketers have to go to such lengths to understand today’s Power Moms, but much can be gained from expanding perceived notions about this important and highly-influential demographic.

While marketers today have a so many opportunities to connect with mom at various inflection points during her life (having a first or second baby, child entering school, return to work), the challenge is sensing her distinct needs and responding in a way that truly resonates. This forces marketers to redraw the vision of mom in our head.

As CEOs of their households, Power Moms wield more influence than ever before: moms control 85 percent of household spending, and are worth more than $2 trillion to U.S. brands, as reported by the Marketing to Moms Coalition. Most moms work. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1965, about 45 percent of women with children (under 18) were employed; by 2000, over 78 percent were. Whether they work out of the home, telecommute, or run a business from the home, media technology and the Internet have become a true enabler.

Nielsen reports that moms between the ages of 25-54 who have at least one child under the age of 18 within the home represent roughly 19 percent of the total online population. And they are not passive observers online. Rather, Power Moms leverage their megaphones to influence online purchase decisions. Considering the expansion in ecommerce for foods, beauty and household products — which is projected to grow to $12 billion in 2011 — effectively reaching moms has real bottom-line implication.

Power Moms leverage digital applications to stay organized, connect with their families, friends and mom networks (think Facebook and micro-blog platforms like Twitter, as well as mushrooming networks like MomBloggersClub.com and TwitterMoms.com), and to get things done, like paying the bills, ordering groceries, downloading coupons and hunting for ideas for the next family vacation. And lest you envision moms tapping away at their computers, know that Power Moms are also mobile enthusiasts who are 35 percent more likely to use text messaging/SMS on the go.

But even online, not all moms are created equal. According to M2Moms, African American mothers are more likely to read articles online (68 percent) and listen to music (45 percent), whereas Caucasian mothers are likely to frequent social networks (45 percent) and message boards (43 percent). Web 2.0 is also relevant for Latinas: blogs were the top choice among Hispanic Moms (55 percent) followed by social networks (42 percent).

Understanding the Power Mom’s online behavior affords a more holistic awareness about her passions and interests and also enables precision in online targeting for optimizing media plans. For example, established moms aged 40-50 who have three or more children in the home are heavy online shoppers, over-indexing on sites like Shopzilla, Target and Walmart compared with the average online consumer. On these sites, Power Moms are likely to be receptive to advertising deals and promotions. They also stay connected on email and are beginning to dabble in social networks, primarily Facebook.

VW Keeps Spending on Ads, Which Helps its Market Share.

Posted by truecreek on May 4, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

Car advertisers that maintain their ad spending can rev up market share in down times, gaining an edge to exploit in a recovery.

Sure, the auto industry is in the doldrums. Car sales through April this year are down 37%, to about 3 million vehicles from 4.8 million through April last year, according to Autodata’s latest sales report out Friday.

But while some brands all but stopped spending on marketing, others kept or increased their budgets, particularly for new or improved models. Among those for whom that paid off:

Kia Motors increased U.S. ad spending 43% in 2008 vs. 2007, according to ad tracker TNS Media Intelligence. Its U.S. market share is up from 1.9% at the end of 2007 to 3.1% through April of this year, according to Autodata.

Mercedes-Benz raised ad spending 39.8% in 2008 vs. 2007. Its U.S. market share is up from 1.6% at the end of 2007 to 1.8% through April this year.

Volkswagen raised ad spending 45.7% in 2008 vs. 2007. Its U.S. market share is up from 1.4% at the end of 2007 to 1.9% through April of this year.

VW’s U.S. marketing chief, Tim Ellis, says that despite the tough sales year, 2009 ad expenditures will be held even with 2008.

“When we invest in marketing, things happen,” says Ellis. “We think it’s important to stick to our roots and stick to our value message. We’re getting a higher percentage of the dwindling marketplace. And when this crazy situation comes straight side up again, we’ll be positioned to increase our share even further.”