The Browser You Loved to Hate. Introducing the New IE.

Posted by truecreek on March 20, 2012 under More Dam News, Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Very cool new site from Microsoft.  Self-effacing copy can often do the trick.  Surprises you in a way that keeps you intrigued.  Check out the graphs.  Nice design, overall.

The Browser You Loved to Hate.

New iPad Pricing Model.

Posted by truecreek on March 7, 2012 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

What do you think about the pricing of the new iPad?  Very aggressive move to the upside, IMHO.  I’m sure the early adopters won’t push back too hard, but the second tier customer might just need a decent incentive to make the purchase decision.

Shame On You, Carnival.

Posted by truecreek on March 2, 2012 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Read the First Comment

You have to be kidding me.  Here you have passengers who have just disembarked from a hellish three-days adrift in the Indian Ocean.  After fearing for their lives due to the ravages of an uncontrollable fire, they had to endure an environment that I’m sure was just lovely.   No AC.  No electrical power.  And the toilets were overflowing.  Must have been a dream vacation on the high seas.

With just a little bit of effort, Carnival/Costa could have assembled a small army of people whose sole responsibility would have been to help passengers with their luggage once they reached dry land.  No biggie, right?

Instead, they had to schlep all their own luggage around.

Just a little help at the dock could have gone a very long way.  Shame on you, Carnival.

The UnHate campaign from Benneton.

Posted by truecreek on November 17, 2011 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

The always controversial Benneton has done it again with a series of posters entitled UnHate.  The concept is one that I can embrace as a marketer and the truth is, the imagery is just amazing.  While some folks may find this to be a bit tawdry, it is some compelling work.  See it all here.

Spurlock’s Newest: “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”

Posted by truecreek on April 25, 2011 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Read the First Comment

Spurlock has done it again with “POM Wonderful Presents:  The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

As he did in “Super Size Me,”  Spurlock pulls you through the story, working hard to educate you on the nuances, verbiage and acronyms that are a critical part of the storyline. In this case, he’ decides to make a movie about product placement, financing it through product placement.  It’s just a hoot.

He gradually becomes a learned student of the process.  He makes one presentation after another to agencies and their clients, changing and adapting his pitch along the way. Finally, when he’s asked by one prospect “how much?’, he seems a bit taken aback at first.  Then he calmly spits out a fair, but low, number.

Many of the marketers he presented to seem to have been taken aback by his unpretentious nature in the meetings.  It’s was like like they were listening to their crazy brother or sister at the dinner table. You know what they are saying sounds weird, but than again….

You know he’s not trying to, but he makes more than a few of the marketers look pretty stupid in the process.  And I think that is one of the things I find most interesting about Spurlock; it’s his unpretentious nature. You just feel for the guy and know that he’s just trying to make things happen.  So what if he steps in it once in a while?

In one scene in the movie, he gets in the elevator after having pitched four or five great ideas to POM, only to be told that they would prefer another direction.  Of course, it’s the one that they have been thinking about since he last presented to them. His stuff didn’t have a chance.  How many times have we all been there?

This article from Ad Age speaks to the success Spurlock is having selling the movie.  But his success doesn’t surprise me.  He’s a great salesman. Perhaps he could offer versions of the movie as he adds more and more sponsors.  That’s how the industry would do it, right?

Read more about this in AdAge:

It’s a Media Thing.

Posted by truecreek on April 4, 2011 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

A successful media plan becomes the pathway through consumers’ protective radar with the ultimate goal of influencing their behavior. We produce plans that will capture the imagination of the consumer with a full spectrum of creative, well-researched solutions.

We are strategic media thinkers, creating media plans that dramatically optimize communication.

We specialize in maximizing the yield on your media investment. We utilize the most current and sophisticated planning/buying research materials, including geographic and psychographic market information as well as quantitative and qualitative measurement tools.

If you are looking for innovative planning, placement and reconciliation, give us a call today at 703-256-2913, or ping us at joseph@truecreek dot com.

Young Users Hating on Brands.

Posted by truecreek on March 9, 2011 under Opinions. Everyone has them., Research | Be the First to Comment

Interesting article from AdWeek.  As the young users age, I wonder if they will keep their strong opinions about brand presence on social media.

By Mike Shields

Bad news for brands enamored with the possibility of connecting one on one with each and every consumer through the magic of social media: Young people don’t want to be friends with you.

According to a new report from Forrester Research, just 6 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who use the Web desire to be friends with a brand on Facebook—despite the fact that half of this demographic uses the site.

Among Web-connected 18- to 24-year-olds that figure does double—meaning that 12 percent of that demo is OK with befriending brands—though the vast majority of young adults are not, per Forrester.

Even scarier for brands: Young people don’t want brands’ friendship, and they think brands should go away. “Many brands are looking to social media as a strong digital channel to communicate with these consumers, since it’s where 12- to 17-year-olds are spending so much time,” wrote Jacqueline Anderson, Forrester’s Consumer Insights Analyst, who authored the report. “But research shows that it is important to consider more than just consumers’ propensity to use a specific channel: Almost half of 12- to 17-year-olds don’t think brands should have a presence using social tools at all.”

To arrive at these conclusions, Forrester surveyed 4,681 Americans aged 12-17 on the Web in September of last year.

So what should brands do? According to Forrester’s report, they might be better off being more reactive than proactive, and they should listen. Just 16 percent of young consumers expect brands to use social media to interact with them, and 28 percent expect those brands to listen to what they say on social sites and get back to them.

Regardless of their willingness to interact with brands, nearly three quarters of 12-17 year olds—74 percent—use social networks to talk about products with friends and make recommendations.

Entire article here.

Now This is a Real Eye Opener. Men Control the Shopping Cart?

Posted by truecreek on January 17, 2011 under Opinions. Everyone has them., Research | Be the First to Comment

For years, it’s been a given that women were primary decision-makers in most households, especially in the grocery store. They were always the keeper of the checkbook.  But tough times can often change things and this recession has been no different.  We’re spending less and watching our dollars more closely than ever before.  But there is something more to the story.

I would never have thought that more than half of the Men surveyed now think they control the grocery cart.  That is a HUGE shift from most current perceptions and might just mean a sea change in the way grocery stores market.  A new survey from Yahoo is striking in it’s results.


BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) — Mom is losing ground to Dad in the grocery aisle, with more than half of men now supposedly believing they control the shopping cart. The implications for many marketers may be as disruptive as many of the changes they’re facing in media.

Through decades of media fragmentation, marketers of packaged goods and many other brands could take solace in one thing — at least they could count on their core consumers being moms and reach them through often narrowly targeted cable TV, print and digital media.

But a study by Yahoo based on interviews last year of 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64 finds more than half now identify themselves as the primary grocery shoppers in their households. Dads in particular are taking up the shopping cart, with about six in 10 identifying themselves as their household’s decision maker on packaged goods, health, pet and clothing purchases. Not surprisingly, given that such ads long have been crafted for women, only 22% to 24% of men felt advertising in packaged goods, pet supplies or clothing speaks to them, according to the Yahoo survey.

The Great Recession has thrown millions of men in construction, manufacturing and other traditionally male occupations out of work and by extension into more domestic duties. At the same time, gender roles were already changing anyway, with Gen X and millennial men in particular more likely to take an active role in parenting and household duties.

More about the story here.

Congratulations to GM. It’s All About the Product.

Posted by truecreek on November 17, 2010 under More Dam News, Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Just yesterday, General Motors announced a 31 percent increase in the amount of shares the company is going to issue in common stock for their IPO tomorrow. It very possibly could become the largest IPO in history.   This dramatic increase in issuance is due to the demand generated by the buzz associated with the offering. And it’s a buzz that is not all about just the financials.  UPDATE FROM AP:  GM’s landmark stock sale is now set to raise up to $22.7 billion, the biggest IPO in history.

I think it says a lot about the product offering. Dropping Saab, Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer has allowed the company to FOCUS their attention on their four remaining core brands:  GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac. GMC trucks are some of the best in the world,  the Chevrolet and Buick brands are on fire and Cadillac is staying strong.

According to the company, year-to-date, combined sales of the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Camaro, Buick LaCrosse and Regal, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX and CTS Wagon are up 323 percent.

And today, even more good things to say.  The highly anticipated VOLT has been named Car of the Year by Motor Trend and Automobile. I’m sure Car and Driver won’t be far behind.  Without a single car having been delivered.  Now that’s confidence in a product.  Add to that, GE’s decision to buy 25,000 Volts by 2015 and you have a winner here.

The quality of the GM build today is second to none.  Factories are in the best shape ever, utilizing build and production techniques that will assure buyers of a high quality product with minimal defects.  Reliability and quality engineering is  now a part of the overall message for all the brands. Take a look at some of the new GM advertising.  Best in a long time.

So, tomorrow will be a good day, maybe even a great day, for GM.  And they deserve it.

(Chevrolet’s SS concept, from GM’s North Hollywood Design Center.)

NBCU: Old Is the New Young.

Posted by truecreek on November 3, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By John Consoli

NBC Universal wants advertisers to know that when it comes to consumer spending based on what they see in television ads, the 55-64 demo is the new 18-34—or it’s just as important as that younger demo.

NBCU on Tuesday (Nov. 2) gave the media a sneak peek at a major presentation it will make on Thursday to its advertisers, their media agencies and Nielsen officials. The presentation will offer data showing that the adult 55-64 demo is as vibrant as younger demos in ad spending, and should be targeted (and not ignored) when television marketing plans are created.

Allen Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBCU, presented evidence from assorted sources—including one-on-one interviews with adults in the demo—that dispel myths about how adults 55-64 respond to advertising and spend as consumers.

Wurtzel said the demo, which he’s labeled “AlphaBoomers,” “has been largely ignored by advertisers and marketers.”

“Every seven seconds someone turns 55 and once they do, they are eliminated from the highest-end Nielsen demo measurement: 25-54,” Wurtzel said. “It is the fastest-growing demo group in the country and now numbers 35 million people that account for close to $2 trillion in annual spending.”

Wurtzel said NBC research and a survey it commissioned of people in the 55-64 demo counters common perceptions that they make less of an income and spend less on advertised products; are technophobic and brand loyal, and therefore, cannot be motivated to switch brands.

“Our goal is to raise a discussion among CMOs at the various companies and to get Nielsen to begin offering ratings data for the 55-64 demo,” Wurtzel said. “They have the data. It’s just a matter of creating the software and adding staff to distribute it.”

Other findings include:

* AphaBoomers spend more on home improvement products, home furnishing, large appliances, beauty and cosmetics and casual dining than adults 18-49.

* A similar percentage of AlphaBoomers have high-definition TVs, use DVRs and broadband as adults 18-34

* 70 percent of AlphaBoomers buy at least one product a month online

* 59 percent of AlphaBoomers send text messages via their cell phones

“This is not something that is just going to affect NBCU,” Wurtzel said. “Down the road as more people leave the 25-54 demo, it will affect every network.”

More here.

Men Will Pause for a Cause, Survey Suggests.

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

I am not surprised at all by the results of this research. Men really do care about a lot of things that matter to all.

By Stuart Elliott

For many years, the assumption on Madison Avenue has been that cause marketing — doing well (selling products) by doing good (helping causes that matter to consumers) — plays more strongly with women than men. That may not be the case, according to a new survey.

The 2010 edition of the PR Cause survey, co-sponsored by the trade publication PR Week and Barkley, an agency in Kansas City, Mo., found that men were nearly as supportive of cause marketing campaigns as women.

Eighty-eight percent of the men questioned for the survey said they believed it was important for companies to support causes. When the question was asked last year of women, 91 percent of respondents said they agreed.

“Men do have a heart,” said Mike Swenson, president at Barkley. The agency suggested to PR Week that part of the survey be devoted to men’s views of cause marketing, he added, and the publication agreed.+

The survey, as usual, also canvassed corporate marketing executives for their opinions about cause-related promotions and advertising. Two-thirds said their companies engaged in cause marketing, versus 58 percent in the survey last year.

However, 68 percent of the marketing executives who were questioned for the survey said they had no plans to aim cause marketing efforts at men.

“It’s certainly an open door for brands that cater to men,” Mr. Swenson said.

A cause marketing program centered on breast cancer, which Barkley created for Lee Jeans, part of the VF Corporation, also has a male target audience in addition to the obvious female audience. The idea is to generate men’s help to fight a disease that affects the women in their lives.

The results of the survey showed that the economy “hasn’t affected corporate support” of cause marketing, said Erica Iacono, executive editor of PR Week in New York, owned by the Haymarket Media Group. In fact, it may have increased that support because consumers are more interested in causes after going through tough times.

“Last year, we had two clients that, while making other budget cuts, each started a new cause program,” Mr. Swenson said.

Hells Angels Sue Saks, McQueen Design Over Trademark.

Posted by truecreek on October 27, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

I wouldn’t want to piss these guys off.

By Don Jeffrey

The Hells Angels motorcycle group sued fashion design house Alexander McQueen and retail chain Saks Inc. for trademark infringement for selling handbags, jewelry and clothing using the club’s death-head design.

Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp. said McQueen’s company, New York-based Saks and retailer Zappos.com Inc. have been selling infringing products in stores in California and online, according to a complaint filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The motorcycle club said it has been using the death-head mark, a skull with wings, since at least 1948. The Hells Angels have authorized the use of the marks on jewelry, apparel and “promotional and entertainment services,” according to the complaint.

More on the story here.

It’s Dems vs. the GOP for Brand Domination.

Posted by truecreek on October 25, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Well, it was bound to happen.  Someone was going to look at the relationship between a brand and a political party. Perfect study for this time of year, don’t you think?

This is only the top 10 for each and the only thing I don’t see is Apple on the list for the Dems. To me, that would be a no brainer, but I’m sure it’s on the big list somewhere.

I love Craftsman tools, but big with the liberals?  Don’t know about that.

Fox New Channel the #1 brand with a bullet for the GOP. Who would have guessed?

Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe’s.

Posted by truecreek on August 25, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Beth Kowitt, FORTUNE.

Apple’s retail stores aren’t the only place where lines form these days. It’s 7:30 on a July morning, and already a crowd has gathered for the opening of Trader Joe’s newest outpost, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The waiting shoppers chat about their favorite Trader Joe’s foods, and a woman in line launches into a monologue comparing the retailer’s West Coast and East Coast locations. Another customer suggests that the chain will be good for Chelsea, even though the area is already brimming with places to buy groceries, including Whole Foods and several upscale food boutiques.

But Trader Joe’s is no ordinary grocery chain. It’s an offbeat, fun discovery zone that elevates food shopping from a chore to a cultural experience. It stocks its shelves with a winning combination of low-cost, yuppie-friendly staples (cage-free eggs and organic blue agave sweetener) and exotic, affordable luxuries — Belgian butter waffle cookies or Thai lime-and-chili cashews — that you simply can’t find anyplace else.

Employees dress in goofy trademark Hawaiian shirts, hand stickers out to your squirming kids, and cheerfully refund your money if you’re unhappy with a purchase — no questions asked. At the Chelsea store opening, workers greeted customers with high-fives and free cookies. Try getting that kind of love at the Piggly Wiggly.

It’s little wonder that Trader Joe’s is one of the hottest retailers in the U.S. It now boasts 344 stores in 25 states and Washington, D.C., and strip-mall operators and consumers alike aggressively lobby the chain, based in Monrovia, Calif., to come to their towns. A Trader Joe’s brings with it good jobs, and its presence in your community is like an affirmation that you and your neighbors are worldly and smart.

The privately held company’s sales last year were roughly $8 billion, the same size as Whole Foods’ and bigger than those of Bed Bath & Beyond, No. 314 on the Fortune 500 list. Unlike those massive shopping emporiums, Trader Joe’s has a deliberately scaled-down strategy: It is opening just five more locations this year. The company selects relatively small stores with a carefully curated selection of items. (Typical grocery stores can carry 50,000 stock-keeping units, or SKUs; Trader Joe’s sells about 4,000 SKUs, and about 80% of the stock bears the Trader Joe’s brand.) The result: Its stores sell an estimated $1,750 in merchandise per square foot, more than double Whole Foods’. The company has no debt and funds all growth from its own coffers.

More about Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe’s here.

Brilliant Move by Domino’s and CP&B. Show Us Your Pizza.

Posted by truecreek on July 7, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

A very, very smart move by Domino’s Pizza.  Continuing with their new, honest approach.  Also makes you wonder what the other guys do to their photography.

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 5, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Domino’s Pizza, the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, is continuing its honest, transparent way of communicating with customers by walking down a new avenue of authenticity: food photography.

In an effort to display Domino’s Inspired Pizza as authentically as possible, all Domino’s national advertising pieces will feature food photography without the fancy food artistry or fake food touch-ups.

Whether it be a commercial on TV or an advertisement in the local paper, the landmark advertising approach promises that all product shots of the Inspired Pizza have been untouched by stylists or model makers typically found on food photography shoots.


“How many times have you wondered why the products you buy don’t look as good in person as they do in TV ads?” said Russell Weiner, Domino’s Pizza chief marketing officer. “That’s because most of the time companies use artificial techniques to make their products look better than they do when served to you in person. At Domino’s, we’re proud of the way our pizza looks – and tastes – right out of the oven.”

The new approach to food photography follows the same line of transparency that began in late 2009 with the launch of the company’s “Pizza Turnaround” advertising campaign – sparking critical acclaim from media, and overwhelmingly positive consumer response to the pizza itself. The campaigns following the launch of the pizza have, in one way or another, been featured in almost every major media outlet, as well as more than 1,000 local TV affiliates.

“It’s a natural progression for us now to take this step,” Weiner continued. “If we’re going to be real and honest about the taste of the product, we want to be as authentic as possible about how it looks. And there’s nothing more mouthwatering than a Domino’s pizza straight out of the oven.”

Also part of the latest chapter in transparency is Domino’s launch of an online component called Show Us Your Pizza, inviting consumers to submit their best natural Domino’s food photography to earn one of four prizes of $500.

Customers can visit ShowUsYourPizza.com to learn about Domino’s Pizza’s “photo promise,” which prohibits any artificial manipulation of the product during shooting, among other rules. The best amateur food photographers who adhere to the photo promise might also have their shots featured in future Domino’s advertisements.

Starbucks to Offer Free Wi-Fi at all Stores Nationwide, Starting July 1st.

Posted by truecreek on June 15, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Joseph Young

During an appearance at Wired’s Business Conference, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced the company was going to recognize customers desire for a better in-store wi-fi experience.  Starting July 1st, the company will offer customers a free, one-click wi-fi connection to the Internet through AT&T, in all U.S. company operated stores.

Very nice move.

Schultz also announced that sometime this fall the company will be introducing the Starbucks Digital Network, in conjunction with Yahoo!. Again, only U.S. company operated stores, but the network will offer exclusive and free content, access to some paid sites and plenty of local and community news.  Content providers will include Apple, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and more.

When a Brand Screws Us All.

Posted by truecreek on May 20, 2010 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 3 Comments to Read

By Joseph Young

They have been all over television over the past few years.  You’ve seen them before.  The beautifully art directed HD spots from BP. All those bright green and yellows flying around to that perfect music. It’s easy to find outstanding animated spots in just a few minutes on the web.  And from what I have heard within the business, there were some spots produced recently that were in the $3 million per range. All of that backed up by a substantial national media buy.

All concepted and produced with one thought in mind:  to position BP as a friendly, “we’re here with you” company that is working hard to make the world a much better place.

What a crock.

How long do you think it will be before the millions of dollars spent by BP to position themselves as the savior of our collective energy future just melts away?

When a brand screws us all like this, they become lepers. We cringe at the very thought of doing business with them. We now look at their brand as a ‘taker’, not a ‘giver.’  And in the case of BP, I suspect you will see a growing disdain for the company as the days wear on.

So I wonder when the first round of new TV spots will start up?  It must suck for the agency that is responsible for producing what comes next from the company.  If it were my shop, I would really have to do some soul searching before anyone spent another minute behind the lens on behalf of BP.

New Coke: One of Marketing’s Biggest Blunders Turns 25.

Posted by truecreek on April 23, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Abbey Klaassen, AdAge

Today marks a quarter century of one of marketing’s biggest blunders — and the sixth biggest moment in 75 years of advertising, according to Ad Age: New Coke.

Still smarting from the 1975 “Pepsi Challenge” taste-test battle, Coca-Cola Co. launches “Project Kansas,” a top-secret mission to reformulate Coke. President-Chief Operating Officer Robert Goizueta appoints Coca-Cola USA head Brian Dyson, who taps marketing chief Sergio Zyman to head the endeavor. Mr. Zyman and company test a new, sweeter version of the flagship cola with 190,000 nationwide taste tests at a cost of $4 million.

At a bottlers’ meeting in Atlanta back on April 22, 1985, Mr. Zyman announced from the stage that Coke was changing its taste. The next day Coca-Cola revealed the new, sweeter taste to financial analysts and the media. But word of the new product finally leaks out and Pepsi dispatches its own press assault on the same day claiming victory. “The other guy blinked,” Pepsi says in ads saying Coke reformulated its brand to taste “more like” Pepsi.

The press hammers at Mr. Goizueta, now chairman-CEO, to explain the difference and what will happen to the old Coke, which 39% of consumers still favor. When Mr. Goizueta admits it will do away with the old formula, consumers revolt. Dazed by the backlash, management on July 11, 1985, just 79 days later, agrees to bring back the original formula, renaming it Coca-Cola Classic.

Some in the industry counter-intuitively suggested the blunder was actually good for the beverage giant — that its fans’ reactions to the idea of their beloved Coke going away, along with the reintroduction of the cola as Coca-Cola Classic, have created a fantastic new marketing strategy. But we think the lesson is pretty clear: Don’t tinker with success. Or at least think very, very carefully before you do.

A 12-Step Program for Marketing Failure.

Posted by truecreek on March 12, 2010 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Tongue-in-cheek, but valuable none the less.

By Steve Cuno

We rarely hear about the fourth law of thermodynamics. In brief, it states that whenever a server says, “Careful, this plate is extremely hot,” an invisible force compels the customer to touch the plate. The compulsion grows as the cube of the number of decibels with which the server pronounces the word extremely.

It seems that, given a choice between heeding a voice of experience and sabotaging ourselves, many people do not just opt for, but positively execute, a mad dash for the latter. This can be as true of marketers as it is of other human-like creatures. So, for those who prefer wasting time and money, I offer the following personally witnessed, surefire shortcuts to screwing up your marketing. (I should add that narrowing it down to 12 wasn’t easy.)

Sabotage Tip 1: Don’t set firm objectives. You’re much safer stating that your goal is to “get your name out there” or to advertise because the competition does. That way, even if sales tank, you can sit back and say, “I did my job.”

Sabotage Tip 2: Put the goal where the ball lands. With a little practice, anyone can learn to retrofit objectives to results. Soon after a VP of marketing proudly showed me a new sales video, it became apparent that the video appealed to employees, but offended customers. No problem. The VP promptly claimed that the video was never intended for sales, but for training. George Orwell would have been proud.

Sabotage Tip 3: Write and design for internal approval. Authorize as many people as possible to revise or, better yet, outright veto creative work. This will ensure that creative people avoid trying to connect with the market. Instead, they will focus on creating what is sure to fly internally.

Sabotage Tip 4: It’s all about what YOU want. A major coffeehouse chain lost customers for years by refusing to fill the demand for lattes made with nonfat milk. Why did they resist? Because the CEO liked coffee the way it was made in Italy, and Italian baristas don’t use nonfat milk. Darned customers. What makes them think they should have a say in what they want in their coffee?

Sabotage Tip 5: Misuse research. Herd a bunch of people into a focus group and ask them to evaluate your campaign. Treat their comments, especially the ones you like, as if they’re statistically valid. You can also phone 5,000 people and ask them what they do, don’t, would and wouldn’t buy, and why. Assume they know.

Sabotage Tip 6: Don’t listen to your salespeople. The only thing that salespeople do is interact face-to-face, every day, with real customers who use your products. What would they know about marketing?

Sabotage Tip 7: If it’s wild and creative, go with it. If you have a killer concept that’s destined to take top honors at the next awards show, it would be a sin not to back it with your budget. Who cares whether it’s effective? It deserves to be shared!

Sabotage Tip 8: Avoid valid evidence. Proper testing and analysis let you reliably predict a direct mail strategy’s outcome before risking big bucks. But if nature had intended for us to conduct valid, predictive tests, we wouldn’t have hips to shoot from. Showing the concept to coworkers, friends, family and people in a mall, though not predictive, is faster and easier. And, only in the short run, cheaper.

Sabotage Tip 9: Don’t trust your agency. Your agency may have experts on staff, but you can still hobble them by overruling their expertise with your intuition. You can also focus on minutiae. For instance, make the art director change a border on that mail piece from black to dark blue.

Sabotage Tip 10: Trust your agency. Not trusting experts is self-sabotage, but so is trusting non-experts. Many agencies, figuring they can affix stamps as well as anyone, list “direct response marketing” as a core capability. If you are firmly committed to failure, this is no time for due diligence. Just hand them the checkbook.

Sabotage Tip 11: Mistake a slogan for a brand. Imagine a person who is fast losing friends. This person might do well to take an honest look, figure out what alienates people and make changes. But substance is such a bother. Surely this person could more easily regain friends by learning to say something like, “Hi, I’m Alex—where coolness is Number One.”

Sabotage Tip 12: Disdain proven techniques. For nearly two centuries, direct response marketers have amassed information on what works in the marketplace. Moreover, experience shows that what worked yesterday works today. But learning all that stuff is tedious, and using it might hamper your creativity. Mustn’t let that happen.

There are many ways to sabotage marketing, but this should give you a good start. If you fail to implement these recommendations, don’t come whining to me if your marketing succeeds.

The Power of Saying ‘We Blew It’.

Posted by truecreek on February 24, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Patrick Lencioni.

New ads for Domino’s Pizza display unusual corporate vulnerability—and the surprising effectiveness of talking straight.

I recently saw a television commercial that made quite an impression on me, and I have a hunch that it might go down as one of the most effective advertisements of all time, assuming the company behind it is sincere. I’m talking about Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) and the recent ad in which the company concedes the shortcomings of its product and explains what has been done to improve it.

The spot opens with customers describing Domino’s pizza using words like ketchup and cardboard. Then, Domino’s President J. Patrick Doyle matter-of-factly explains the importance of acknowledging how customers see his pizza. Finally he outlines the company’s response: 40% more herbs in its sauce, better cheese, a special glaze on the crust. I have a hard time remembering the names of the U.S. Supreme Court justices and even what I had for breakfast. But I can remember all those details from the Domino’s ad, and that says a lot about its impact.

I’m willing to bet that Domino’s will sell a lot more pizzas in the months ahead. And the reason I believe that has less to do with the new ingredients than with Domino’s willingness to cross a line that most companies—and for that matter, most leaders—won’t even approach. Domino’s chose to make itself vulnerable.


Vulnerability isn’t a word that shows up on lists of ingredients for business success. Here’s why it should: Without the willingness and ability to be vulnerable, we simply can’t build deep and lasting relationships in business and, come to think of it, life.

Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness; it’s actually a sign of strength. People who are genuinely open and transparent prove that they have the confidence and self-esteem to allow others to see them as they really are, warts and all. There’s something undeniably magnetic about people who can do that.

When it comes to the workplace, vulnerability is critical in the building of teams. When teammates feel free to admit their mistakes, ask for help, and acknowledge their own weaknesses, they reduce divisive politics and build a bond of trust more valuable than almost any strategic advantage. Another great venue for vulnerability is the one I work in, the world of service. When consultants and advisers are willing to ask dumb questions, tell the unvarnished truth, or broach the painful, elephant-in-the-room topic, they engender loyalty and trust with clients.

More about The Power of Saying ‘We Blew It’ here.

Google Has Played the China Situation Brilliantly.

Posted by truecreek on January 22, 2010 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Great article by Henry Blodget.

A few years ago, when Google announced its decision to agree to censor its China site, it was savaged for selling out.

The company had violated its own “don’t be evil” motto, critics yelled, and it was tacitly supporting the Chinese government’s outrageous censorship policy.

The critics were wrong.


Google made the right decision to build a business in China a few years ago. And it’s making the right decision now, by threatening to pull out of the country if China doesn’t relax its censorship demands.

Google’s decision to make a big public threat now, when it controls 15% to 20% of China’s search market and is known to most Chinese internet users, will put far more pressure on the Chinese government to relax its policies than a boycott of the country five years ago would have.

Google matters in China now. The announcement that Google was threatening to pull out spawned public support for the company in China. It got Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into the act. It forced the Chinese government to respond with a statement. It has grabbed the attention of investors, as well as the hundreds of other companies that do business in China and are forced to play by Chinese rules. It will focus more public attention on the reality of China’s censorship policies than any boycott ever could have.

In short, by playing ball with China until it had some real leverage, Google has a much better chance of actually forcing the government to change.

More about Google Has Played the China Situation Brilliantly here.

In Cap Flap, Miller Lite Told to Change Beer Ads.

Posted by truecreek on January 20, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By AP MILWAUKEE

It’s a flap over a cap.

An ad industry watchdog wants MillerCoors to modify its claims about flagship Miller Lite because it hasn’t made changes as the ads imply.

It’s a basic marketing tactic to tout a product attribute, especially if it’s new, to increase shoppers’ interest.

In this case, MillerCoors started advertising flagship Miller Lite’s “Taste Protector” caps and lids last summer. But MillerCoors acknowledges the tops don’t use new technology so its ads can’t imply they do, the National Advertising Division Council of Better Business Bureaus said Wednesday.

The industry body, known as NAD, looked into the matter after beer-making rival Anheuser-Busch Inc. complained. Many of its inquiries start with complaints by rivals.

MillerCoors has been saying the new golden tops and lids on Miller Lite, which has been in a sales slump, have a special seal that “locks out air and locks in that Great Pilsner Taste.”

NAD said in its nonbinding decision that MillerCoors should stop referring to a “special seal” and not imply the product has changed.

“While advertisers can change marketing strategies to promote the different features of their product, they must do so truthfully to avoid any potential overstatement or consumer confusion,” the board said.

In highlighting aspects of their products, companies can’t mislead, said Doug Stayman, associate dean of MBA programs at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management.

“There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on them to come out with something new and different,” he said. “And there’s a fine line. But this seems to be over it.”

MillerCoors said it will take the ruling into consideration for future advertisements. It was pleased NAD agreed it could use “Taste Protector” statements but disagreed with objections to the word “special” — although it’s been removed from packaging.

More about In Cap Flap, Miller Lite Told to Change Beer Ads here.

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.

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Yahoo Unveils Rebranding Campaign.

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

By Mark Walsh

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

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

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

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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.