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.
By Ken Bruno
After a long winter and a grim recession luxury-faucet maker Brizo wants to give consumers “a license to dream.” Online videos and print ads created by Young & Laramore for Brizo’s high-end, touch-sensitive Talo, Venuto and Virage faucets feature vivid colors that morph into butterflies, flowers, mermaids and fish.
New ad campaigns suggest marketers are eager to shake off the gloom of tough economic times–and they hope consumers will do the same. While some economists aren’t sure the tough times are history, advertisers don’t seem to care. Companies are rolling out carefree ads that use humor, colorful images and upbeat language to get consumers to lighten up–and open up their wallets.
“What you make people feel is as important as what you make,” goes the voice-over in a commercial from BMW of North America’s “Story of Joy” ad campaign, which includes print ads featuring happy-looking adults, kids and dogs with headlines that lead off with “Joy is …” The campaign was created by GSD&M Idea City.
Procter & Gamble even seems to thumb its nose at money-pinching buyers of personal care products in ads for Old Spice. In TV spots, Isaiah Mustafa taunts women with recession-induced goodie withdrawal by offering “two tickets to that thing you love,” before the tickets turn into diamonds. Spots featuring Mustafa and his treats have racked up more than 8 million views since they broke in February.
Fun and games? Those are reappearing in ads. Interpublic agency Deutsch L.A.’s playful campaign for Volkswagen “Punch Dub,” invites consumers to play an updated version of the game “Punch Buggy,” in which the first person to spot a VW slugs his or her friend on the arm. Stevie Wonder and 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan even get in on the game in ads.
Microsoft even promotes the idea of carefree travel in ads for the launch of its new mobile phone brand, Kin. In “The Journey,” by AgencyTwoFifteen, Rosa Salazar, a lollipop-loving Brooklyn comedian, hits the road to meet as many of her 824 social networking friends as possible.
Consumers and marketers were in the dumps last year when total U.S. advertising expenditures fell 12.3% in 2009 to $125.3 billion, compared with 2008, says ad tracker Kantar Media in New York but some agency executives say marketers are willing to spend again.
“There is a market turn toward the positive,” says Deutsch N.Y. Chief Creative Officer Greg DiNoto. “That’s a smart marketing strategy for any brand when you’re emerging from a recession.” Brands need to be associated with winning.”
A few advertisers hope upbeat taglines will do the trick. Amway’s latest campaign, one with an estimated $25 million behind it, features the tagline “The Power of Positivity.” Ads, created by Omnicom’s Element 79, feature friendly farmers and helpful neighbors and suggest that Amway is a company doing its part by creating jobs for those affected by the recession.
AP NEW YORK — The amount of time people spend on the computer while watching TV is going up sharply.
The Nielsen Co. said Monday that people who multitask this way spent an average of three and a half hours doing so in December. That’s up sharply from the two hours, 29 minutes that Nielsen reported only six months earlier.
The percentage of TV viewers who do this isn’t going up that fast. That increased by 57 percent to 59 percent during the same period. But those who are doing it spend much more time at it.
Television executives have pointed to this trend to help explain why big events like the Oscars, Grammys and pro football playoffs have been doing so well in the ratings – people watching and making comments to their friends through social Web sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Aiming to please too many different types of customers can be a fatal flaw. Focus on your core audience and don’t waste money on the rest.
By Steve McKee
Do a quick exercise: Take a minute and jot down three types of customers your company doesn’t want. Oh, and this is important: You can’t choose people like shoplifters or “sale-hoppers”—the kind of customers that no business wants.
If you’re like most business leaders, identifying customers you don’t want isn’t easy, especially in times like these. But it can be helpful to consider which of your customers are least important, if for no other reason than to help you focus on the most important ones.
We’re all familiar with the old saying, “you can’t be all things to all people.” Yet in business, too often that’s what we end up trying to be. General Motors is a prime example (and look where it got them). There was a time when each GM nameplate was narrowly targeted toward a certain demographic, leaving other company brands to serve their own slice of customers. But over the past several decades, as each GM brand expanded its lineup to serve as many different customers as possible—sports cars for the sporty, minivans for young families, trucks for working people—they ended up stepping on each other’s toes.
Consider one of those famous brands now slated for the scrap heap: Pontiac. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Pontiac was defined by drool-inducing muscle cars such as the GTO, Firebird, and TransAm. The Pontiac brand meant power, styling and cool. Its appeal wasn’t for everyone, but it was powerful for some. Since that time, however, Pontiac has introduced a host of new models like the Trans Sport (a minivan), Sunfire (a compact car), Aztek (an SUV crossover), and Vibe (a hatchback). It’s unclear who, exactly, Pontiac has not been trying to serve, which is another way of saying it’s been aiming to please too many masters. And soon Pontiac will be gone, as will several other once-proud brands in the GM stable.
It could be that Wal-Mart (WMT) will learn from the GM example. The company has been attracting a lot more upscale customers of late, for obvious reasons. In the first quarter of 2009, 17% of Wal-Mart’s retail visits were from new customers, and they spent 40% more in the store than the average shopper. Will the company accept their business? You bet—branding is about whose business you’ll seek, not whose you’ll take. But if Wal-Mart begins catering more to those customers’ needs at the expense of its core target of “people who live paycheck to paycheck,” it will be making a mistake.
By Stephen Shankland
Google said Tuesday it will subsidize free wireless network access in 47 airports from now until January 15–and indefinitely in the airports of Burbank, Calif., and Seattle.
The promotion, in cooperation with Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group, and Airport Marketing Income, is the latest effort to use free Wi-Fi to boost a brand. Among others: Yahoo is sponsoring Wi-Fi in Times Square in New York, and Google is sponsoring Internet access on Virgin America flights during the holidays.
Among the larger participating airports are those in Houston, Boston, Miami, Las Vegas, Nashville, San Diego, Baltimore, and St. Louis. A full list of the airports is at Google’s free holiday Wi-Fi site.
The move, though not cheap, is probably smart. Plenty of business travelers have a laptop and time to kill, and today’s consumers are increasingly likely to be equipped with laptops, iPod Touches, or other devices that can use wireless Internet access. Google is spending some money for an opportunity to give a lot of people the warm fuzzies when they encounter the Google brand.
And in the big picture, Google gets to show people what the world might be like if there were more high-speed wireless Internet access–something the company has been aggressively lobbying for in Washington, D.C. Many people are used to wireless networking in their homes, but it’s a different matter on the road.
There are downsides, though, too. Having been to dozens of conferences where the wireless Net access collapses as soon as the keynote speech begins, I’m acutely aware that providing large-scale wireless Internet access is technically demanding–and people get unhappy when a promised benefit evaporates. And public, anonymous places such as airports and urban population centers are great spots for hackers to launch main-in-the-middle attacks by offering “Free Wi-Fi,” so exercise caution when logging on to these networks.
The battle between AT&T and Verizon is going to make for some great advertising in the near future…
Marketing Casts Verizon Device as Antithesis of the Ubiquitous iPhone
By Rita Chang
SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) — Verizon’s droid is pitching itself as the anti-iPhone, and nowhere is that more evident than in the look and feel of its campaign — a blanket push you won’t be able to escape.
The integrated campaign, the largest in Verizon history, will receive an estimated $100 million in support, most of it spent before the end of the year. Within it, the new phone is touted as the robotic do-it-all antidote to the Apple handset’s shortcomings.
The TV spots set to hit airwaves Monday night are about as far from the iPhone’s cheery spots as possible. Visually somber and testosterone-packed, they could be mistaken for ads for “The Terminator.” But, like the iPhone spots, they also demonstrate what the device can deliver, such as voice-activated turn-by-turn directions, fast web-browsing and video viewing. The tagline: “In a world of doesn’t, Droid does.”
Franchisee’s obscure idea turns sandwich maker into national phenomenon
By Matthew Boyle
Stuart Frankel isn’t what you’d call a power player in the world of franchising. Five years ago he owned two small Subway sandwich shops at either end of Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.
After noticing that sales sagged on weekends, he came up with an idea: He would offer every footlong sandwich (the chain also sells 6-inch versions) on Saturday and Sunday for $5, about a buck less than the usual price. “I like round numbers,” says Frankel, a brusque New Yorker who moved to Miami in 1972 and owned a drugstore before opening his first Subway outlet in 1988.
Customers liked his round number, too. Instead of dealing with idle employees and weak sales, Frankel suddenly had lines out the door. Sales rose by double digits. Nobody, least of all Frankel, knew it at the time, but he had stumbled on a concept that has unexpectedly morphed from a short-term gimmick into a national phenomenon that has turbocharged Subway’s performance. “There are only a few times when a chain has been able to scramble up the whole industry, and this is one of them,” says Jeffrey T. Davis, president of restaurant consultancy Sandelman & Associates. “It’s huge.”
In fact, the $3.8 billion in sales generated nationwide by the $5 footlong alone placed it among the top 10 fast-food brands in the U.S. for the year ended in August, according to NPD Group. That puts the $5 menu’s success just a notch behind KFC and ahead of Arby’s and Domino’s Pizza. It helped privately held Subway, of Milford, Conn., lift U.S. sales 17 percent last year at a time when most restaurant chains, save for industry leader McDonald’s, struggled.
By John Horrigan.
Some 69% of online Americans use webmail services, store data online, or use software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is located on the web. Online users who take advantage of cloud applications say they like the convenience of having access to data and applications from any Web-connected device.
However, their message to providers of such services is: Let’s keep the data between us.
Download the report here.
By Cat Moriarty
Sure, your brand message is consistent across all channels. But you haven’t truly integrated your marketing efforts unless you’re putting those channels to work together.
Mixing media — especially print and digital — is not only a smart idea, but with a little creativity, it can be a highly profitable one.
If your company depends on offline purchases, for example, improve direct mail conversions by e-mailing your audience before a drop, like True North did during a campaign for a New York–based credit union. The print-digital combination quickly produced 5,543 new members — 122 percent above expectations.
And with personalized URLs (PURLs), you can use direct mail to help drive online purchases, too. It’s what office machinery and consumer electronics company Ricoh did (with some pretty impressive results) when promoting its new high-end production print equipment
Retailer W.L. Gore had similar success when it included PURLs in its “Take Me to Everest” campaign. Not only did PURLs strengthen the company’s direct mail–Web connection, they also helped build brand awareness and generate shoe sales during the coveted holiday season.
And as this holiday shopping season soon gets under way, don’t underestimate the power direct catalogs — and their hybrid cousins (magalogs and catazines) — can have over online sales. With so much online competition, sending catalogs and other direct pieces is helping brands like mark and Zappos.com motivate customers to visit their sites more often, stay longer and get to know them better.
In wake of recession, consumers look for value, focus on essentials.
By Allison Linn
The recession has dramatically changed many Americans’ shopaholic habits, at least temporarily and perhaps forever.
Now the question is whether the nation’s retailers have kept up.
He’s not alone in that assessment.
Although it’s still early days of the holiday shopping season, some analysts are already worried that too many merchants are taking a business-as-usual approach to an era that is anything but usual. Any miscalculation could be disastrous for retailers, who typically expect up to 20 percent of annual sales and a bigger share of annual profits during the critical holiday season.
“Retailers still don’t have a full grasp of reality,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a consulting firm.
Flickinger thinks many of the nation’s retail executives don’t completely understand how severely the Great Recession has affected the millions of Americans who have lost jobs, had their wages cut or are living in fear of a job loss.
That, he noted, is on top of other financial concerns many Americans are facing, including a steep drop in home and investment values.
Retailers have good reason to fear such financial jitters, having only last year endured a disastrous season in which holiday retail sales fell 3.4 percent as Americans, rattled by the financial crisis, held onto their pocketbooks.
This year, Flickinger said, consumers are facing the reality of a sky-high unemployment rate and growing concerns about credit card debt.
“Shoppers are more scared going into this holiday season than any time in the last 50 years,” he said.
In the new era of tight budgets, consumers are looking for good value on the items they want and need. But instead, many analysts say retailers seem to be taking a different approach: offering ever-more extreme discounts on items they want to get rid of.
The super-low price method of offloading excess inventory has become so commonplace, even among higher-end retailers, that shoppers are coming to the conclusion that many products are just worth less, said brand analyst Robert Passikoff.
“It isn’t just that you learned that there will be sales — there will always be sales — but what it’s done is it ultimately affects the value perception of the product,” said Passikoff, president of the customer loyalty research firm Brand Keys.
Great article from Ad Age.
By Marsha Lindsay:
What does the worldwide, technologically enabled drive for conversations mean for marketers? It means you’re no longer marketing products or services — you’re marketing conversations. It means marketing-communication planning should be driven by a conversation strategy.
The right conversation strategy answers two big questions: What meaningful content will attract sufficient conversations with the right people? And, how will you jump-start conversations and keep them alive?
When people are starved for time and already engaged in many conversations, jump-starting new and meaningful conversations is the big challenge of marketing today. Just building a website, writing a blog or posting videos on YouTube doesn’t mean sufficient numbers to impact ROI will find them organically, much less take the time and energy to converse with you. By definition a conversation requires others to be present and participate — otherwise you’re talking to yourself. Perhaps therapeutic, but no way to make a living.
Even if people know there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with you — on Twitter or your blog, for instance — you can’t expect them to engage given all the other demands on their time. You’ll need a strategy that both gets them to know you exist and care so much that you exist, they’ll become intrigued about conversing with you. This requires a strategy that integrates search optimization, media, message and contributions of content from consumers.
The right strategy begins with the end in mind: What message can work across multiple platforms and be scaled so quickly and broadly it can drive sufficient revenues to support a business model?
Very few companies have the luxury to let conversations build slowly over time. And no business can afford to risk a high-waste and low-impact effort. More often than not, high-impact campaigns with reasonable returns don’t materialize solely from online ads and social media. Traditional media must be a major component of the mix.
Stefan Olander, Nike’s global director of brand connections, noted at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs’ Brandworks University 2009 that many of Nike’s online campaigns received overwhelming response at launch. Colleagues at Nike were excited about the prospect of dropping expensive traditional media campaigns in favor of these successful digital campaigns. Olander reminded them that, despite how well-known the Nike brand is, to optimize online conversations they still must jump-start initiatives with traditional media.
That’s because traditional media can do what social media cannot: aggressively interject messages into people’s lives in a socially acceptable way. Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation indicates that messages delivered by TV may, in fact, be the fastest and most cost-efficient means to jump-start productive conversations in the digital and real worlds.
Experts at the World Advertising Research Center have also studied what it takes to optimize engagement in a conversation economy. They recommend this media priority:
- Mainstream media.
- Open networks such as blogs and websites.
- Closed networks such as Facebook and MySpace.
A multimedia mix framed to spark conversations requires a compelling message concept that can work across a multimedia platform. Its foundation has to be far more than a one-time promotion or product attribute; it must be a message strategy that connects brand meaning with search habits and accommodates ongoing contributions that can range from casual conversations to consumer-generated content.
This is a tall order, but not impossible. That’s because the solution can be found in the motivations of the conversationalists themselves. Some psychologists say that people subconsciously come to a conversation with a desire to be changed by them. This makes sense. Conversation is mankind’s natural search engine.
Continuing the discussion about the change in consumer spending behavior….from today’s Washington Post.
By Nancy Trejos
The recession has cooled the American ardor for living on credit. After years of saying “Charge it,” consumers are more often paying with their debit cards instead.
Worry about jobs, fear of fluctuating interest rates on credit cards and wariness about spending too much are contributing to the change.
“People are managing their money in a different way,” said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, which tracks the credit card industry. “You clearly have a situation where those people who have jobs are exhibiting recession anxiety and they are making more debit transactions.”
Nine months ago, Alyson Chadwick, a public relations representative for a nonprofit organization on Capitol Hill, got a debit card with a MasterCard logo so she could use it anywhere for purchases. Carrying cash was unsafe, she thought, and a debit card would help her manage her spending better.
“I use my credit cards hardly at all,” she said. “I don’t even carry them with me.”
Trish Preston, head of U.S. debit for MasterCard, said the changing fortunes of debit and credit tell the story of how the recession has transformed consumer spending.
“Think about what’s happening in the economy,” she said. “Appliances, furniture, jewelry: Those are very sensitive to the economy, and those have generally been credit spending categories.”
Debit cards, meanwhile, tend to be used for routine necessities such as groceries and gasoline. “Those kinds of expenditures are happening,” she said.
The Federal Reserve said that revolving credit, primarily credit cards, dropped by $6.1 billion in July, or 8.1 percent on an annualized basis. Debit card usage, meanwhile, had been steadily growing over the years but has surged in this recession.
Credit cards draw on money borrowed at often high interest rates; debit cards withdraw money from the cardholder’s bank account.
Visa announced this spring that spending on Visa debit cards in the United States surpassed credit for the first time in the company’s history. In 2008, debit payment volume was $206 billion, compared with credit volume of $203 billion. MasterCard reported that for the first six months of this year, the volume of purchases on its debit cards increased 4.1 percent, to $160 billion, in the United States. Spending on credit and charge cards sank 14.8 percent, to $233 billion.
“Consumers are rational thinking individuals, and they’re going to shift their behavior in a way that fits with their current economic situation,” said Scott Strumello, an associate with the Auriemma Consulting Group, a Long Island-based payment card advisory firm. “They’re thinking more seriously about it, and many may decide, ‘I’m going to use debit where I can and reserve credit for larger purchases.’ ”
For three decades, credit cards, which emerged about 50 years ago but were not in widespread use until the 1970s, have reigned as the preferred mode of payment, mostly on big purchases, for baby boomers and their children. Before that, people used cash, bank loans or the installment plan.
Baby boomers typically charged responsibly. Their children, who grew up in the mostly prosperous 1980s and 1990s, became dependent on cards from an early age, partly because card issuers marketed heavily on college campuses. Unlike their parents, they tended to see credit cards as long-term loans. And they charged too much.
“An awful lot of kids grew up in a very big house and they grew up with pretty much everything they wanted, and then they became adults and their parents, rightly or wrongly, probably wrongly, conditioned them to a set of conditions they cannot afford,” said Lewis Mandell, professor of finance and business economics at the University of Washington and a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Industry executives said much of the debit card growth is fueled by a growing disdain for carrying cash and writing checks. But they also acknowledged that credit cards have fallen out of favor with consumers who want to save more and limit their discretionary spending. In July, the personal savings rate reached 4.2 percent, up from about 1 percent of after-tax income early last year, according to government data.
“The real question is: Is consumer behavior permanent?” Strumello said. “And that’s something where the jury is still out. Consumers have made moves in other downturns.”
Mandell said the next generation might reject credit after seeing their parents struggle with money. “I think the next generation may be self-correcting depending on the duration and magnitude of the downturn,” he said.
There is some indication that the shift to debit is partly a visceral reaction to credit card industry practices in the past few months. Since a law was passed in May that will limit the industry’s ability to raise rates and fees, many issuers have cut credit lines and increased rates, forcing borrowers to look for other modes of payment.
Combine the brand strength of UPS with their trusted driver network and you just might have the best way to date to deliver your message to a promising audience.
By Stuart Elliott
Since 1907, United Parcel Service has been delivering packages ordered by consumers. Next week, the company plans to deliver packages they have not ordered, in a test of an effort to expand into direct marketing.
Beginning on Monday, U.P.S. will experiment in five major markets with a service it calls Direct to Door, giving advertisers and retailers a chance to provide offers and product samples to U.P.S. customers. The marketing materials will come inside small boxes labeled Direct to Door Paks, and will be delivered to customers along with merchandise they actually ordered.
The test, to run through Oct. 2, is intended to gauge whether there is interest in having U.P.S. serve as an alternative to marketing mail delivered by the United States Postal Service or by companies like Valpak.
If Direct to Door goes forward, the added revenue could help United Parcel offset declines in demand for its mainstay package delivery service since the recession started.
In July, U.P.S. reported its sixth consecutive quarter of lower package volume in this country. The decline in the second quarter was 4.6 percent compared with the period a year earlier, which Bloomberg News described as the worst result since United Parcel went public in 1999.
“I wouldn’t say it was developed as a result of the economy,” said Lisa Lynn, marketing director for new-product research and development at United Parcel in Atlanta.
Rather, she said, it stems from “some opportunity we saw at the heart of what we do every day working off our delivery network.”
The test is also meant to see if U.P.S. customers welcome unsolicited packages or dismiss them as some new type of junk mail.
One effect of the economy is that “people are very receptive to offers right now,” Ms. Lynn said.
An experiment in figuring out how to better aim traditional, tangible marketing materials at consumers may seem quaint when so much of the buzz along Madison Avenue is about aiming virtual pitches at them online.
But direct marketing remains a lucrative business. According to the Direct Marketing Association, it accounted for $176.9 billion in ad spending last year in the United States — 52.1 percent of the total, by the association’s tally.
“We did some focus-group research and it really indicated that people were receptive to receiving offers from U.P.S.,” Ms. Lynn said. “What we heard was, ‘If U.P.S. brings it to me, it’s not junk.’ ”
Still, the company is taking several steps to try to ensure that a Direct to Door Pak is received more like a gift than another application for another credit card.
For one thing, the offers inside each box are intended to be special rather than “mass offers distributed through other channels,” Ms. Lynn said.
For another, no Direct to Door Paks will be delivered unaccompanied by packages ordered by that household, she said.
And the boxes will not bear the addresses of the recipients, Ms. Lynn said. Rather, they will carry phrases like this one: “Inside are premium offers from some of America’s best-known brands.” They will also include a photograph of the familiar brown United Parcel truck next to the words “Delivered to you by U.P.S.”
About a dozen companies — advertisers and retailers that use United Parcel to deliver orders to customers — are taking part in the test, Ms. Lynn said. They include the Finish Line; Men’s Wearhouse; Sephora; two Williams-Sonoma home furnishings brands, Pottery Barn and West Elm; and Zappos.com, the online retailer of shoes and housewares recently acquired by Amazon.
“It’s an interesting way to reach out to our customers and partner with one of our closest business partners,” said Aaron Magness, director for business development and brand marketing at Zappos.com in Henderson, Nev.
“We are an online retailer,” he added, “but we want to maintain a high-touch relationship with customers, constantly trying to find different ways to interact with them in whatever means they’re comfortable with.”
Mr. Magness said he liked the idea that the boxes would not arrive “out of nowhere, from random people knocking on your door.”
The offer to be made by Zappos.com during the test will invite recipients to “become a member of our V.I.P. program,” he added, entitling them to “free next-business-day shipping on every order.”
United Parcel plans to deliver about 250,000 Direct to Door Paks in about 150 ZIP codes in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, Phoenix and Washington.
Those chosen to participate in the test are “high-opportunity consumers,” Ms. Lynn said, meaning that they often order merchandise delivered by United Parcel Service.
“Our drivers have relationships with these people because they deliver to them frequently,” she added. “There’s a lot of trust in the driver and the brand.”
Mr. Magness also cited the trust factor as a reason Zappos.com was interested in the test.
Ms. Lynn described the customers to receive Direct to Door Paks as ages 35 to 54 in households of two persons or larger and living in single-family, owner-occupied homes.
As for what the service will cost marketers, “I can’t go into specific pricing,” Ms. Lynn said, “but the pricing model is similar to other media.”
The goal is for the cost to reach each 1,000 consumers — a common media measurement known as cpm — to be “comparable or less than an equivalent piece of direct mail,” she added.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
We’ve posted about this before, but this strong article by Anne Mai Bertelsen really drives home the the point that it is short-sighted to shift too much of your ad budget to the web if you are looking to reach baby boomers. They just have not adopted these mediums as quickly as younger audiences have.
By Anne Mai Bertelsen.
Earlier this year, Forrester Research released its five year advertising forecast which found that marketers were shifting substantial advertising dollars out of traditional media and into interactive channels such as mobile marketing, display ads, search, social media and email.
Yet, marketers who rely too heavily on interactive channels, at the expense of traditional channels, risk losing out on the lucrative Boomer segment that are avid multi-media consumers. In fact, unlike other age groups, Boomers consume a daily, balanced diet of media from multiple traditional and interactive sources with traditional media — television, radio, and newspapers — providing their daily “squares.”
While the media has been focused on reporting the demise of traditional media, Boomers have largely been ignoring their prognosticators and continue to use these mediums as their “go to” sources for entertainment, news and exposure to brands.
Consider these statistics:
* Boomers spend, on average, 9.5 hours a day on “screen” time activities — e.g., television, computer, mobile phones, video games — with the largest percentage of time spent on television.
* 77% of Boomer’s daily viewing occurs between 7:30 pm and 11 pm, when they are most likely to watch The Discovery Channel, A&E, the Food Network, ESPN and Fox News.
* 76% listen to the radio — more than any other demographic — with half listening during morning drive-time and their programming preferences vary from oldies to country to talk shows.
* Time spent on print (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books) is highest among Boomers, with younger Boomers (45-54) spending on average 30 minutes a day and older Boomers (55-65) spending up to 100 minutes a day.
* In addition to national papers, 57% read their local daily newspaper regularly and 68% read their weekly community paper.
These traditional sources provide the foundation of Boomers’ awareness and knowledge of brands. They augment their daily traditional media consumption with time online, spending on average two hours a day.
But unlike other age groups, Boomers — who according to The Pew Internet and American Life Project now account for 35% of all Americans online — use the Internet much more heavily to research and purchase products and connect with friends and family than their younger peers. Typically, traditional advertising triggered their online search.
And, Boomers are researching products and services online because their brand loyalty is up for grabs; they are not brand loyal. Refuting a popular marketing truism that older consumers become more brand loyal, a 2008 AARP/Focalyst study found that 61% of Boomers felt “it didn’t pay to be brand loyal.”
A more recent Nielsen analysis of brand spending corroborated that finding: in March 2009, Nielsen reported that only a fifth of Boomers were more brand loyal than their younger cohorts.
As those who target Boomers well know, this segment offers an incredibly wealthy opportunity for marketers:
* 78 million+ members
* Estimated $10 trillion in discretionary assets – transferred to them by their dying parents and grandparents
* $2.3 trillion annual average spend on consumer goods and services
But, only if marketers shift some of their advertising dollars back to traditional media, creating an integrated media plan, to engage Boomers.
Cash for Clunkers racks up 22,782 trade-ins and $95.9 million so far
by Chris Shunk on Jul 30th 2009 at 4:29PM
When the government’s Cash for Clunkers program returned 4,026 orders on its first full day of availability, some were surprised by the speed with which the sales booster took off. After only five days, the program seems to have picked up steam rather than lost it: 22,782 trade-ins have funneled through dealer lots in the 3-4 days since Monday when the program began. So far, dealers have requested $95.9 million in reimbursement money from the government, or about 10% of the funds that were supposed to keep the program running into November. The cars.gov website currently shows $75 million left for CAT3 trucks and $779 million out of $1 billion for everything else.
So far, the average rebate value is reportedly $4,209, which means most customers are eligible for the $4,500 voucher that requires a new vehicle purchase with a 10+ mpg improvement verses the model being traded in. Tuesday was the busiest day so far, with $51 million worth of reimbursements filed by dealers, and there were $27 million filed on Wednesday.
The National Automotive Dealers Association says the program will likely run out of money well before the November deadline. If C4C continues at its current pace, the program could end as early as September. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, some 23,000 dealers have submitted registrations and 19,328 have been approved.
The Great Depression, by far the biggest economic downturn of the 21st century, taught an entire generation of Americans a horrible, yet valuable lesson. After Black Tuesday, when the stock market totally collapsed, life for many of these people would never be the same.
Jobs were gone overnight. Banks failed. Entire industries were devastated. Commodity prices plunged, taking with them so many family farms. Tent cities sprung up all around our nation. Life had never been harder.
As a nation, the shock to our collective system was so severe that our grandfathers and grandmothers became cynics. No one trusted the banking system. People started hoarding cash, hiding it anywhere they could. We became a nation of savers, simply because we didn’t want to expose our families to a repeat of the disaster.
And they never forgot.
The same shift in our financial psychology is happening again. After seeing their collective portfolios dive 40 to 50%, people are now on the sidelines, watching the market, willing to accept next to nothing in return simply because they are afraid to lose even more.
Savings rates have increased by ten fold, according to some statistics. Six fold at the very least. Consumer’s behavior has changed and in my opinion, for good.
My clients are seeing this firsthand. We are too. Financial conservation is back in vogue. The average homeowner is doing everything they can to clean up their household balance sheets. This popular frugality has permeated virtually all segments of our population, from the poor to the very wealthy.
And we are learning a lesson we will never forget. Just like they did back in the 1930s.
For those who think that we will bounce right back to the ways we did things before this hard recession started, think again. We are witnessing a sea change in the way the consumer deals with the economic realities at hand.
I find it very hard to believe that those lessons will be quickly forgotten.
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.
So 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Tell 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.
1. As for what potential suppliers shouldn’t do: “It’s the basics. Never lie or cheat us. You shouldn’t make a promise and not be able to keep it. Nothing disappoints us more than have an empty shelf and have to explain that to a customer.”
2. “We are really in the business of taking care of our customers.”
3. He suggested that the CE industry should “focus on simplicity [and] get away from bells and whistles. The majority of customers not tech-heads. They just want a good experience and good things to happen.
4. Categories that are introduced which are too complicated,” he noted, “won’t come into market.”
5. “Commoditization does not mean sameness to me. It isn’t a four-letter word. For the customer it means ‘I can afford it and understand it.’ This industry thrives on innovation … and the faster consumers understand technology the faster it reaches more people.”
6. “Our model is not to become a high-cost A/V specialist. Everyone has their place and the mass customer is more educated than ever before.”
7. And when it comes to new technology in the near future that will drive business, Severson said “the digital shift in media,” flat-panel TVs that feature IPTV, 3-D TVs and mobile video should all be standouts.
8. Looking back, Severson was pleased with the relatively smooth DTV conversion. “The industry, in conjunction with CEA, retailers, government and broadcasters, did a great job.” He said the biggest surprise for him was that “converter-box sales would be a big blowout item. We were really wrong and underestimated what the government and the broadcasters would do on awareness to see how much it would happen. It was a big surprise and a phenomenally successful item.”
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.
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.
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.