Monday, December 31, 2007

The state of the Wii - 24c3

I found an interesting video on YouTube regarding the Nintendo Wii. It posted on December 28, 2007 and currently has more than 163,000 views. Additionally, the video has clearly impacted overall buzz for the Nintendo Wii.

(Double Click to Enlarge Video Game Console Buzz Trend)


I do not think Nintendo released this video. Simply looking at video tags reveals words such as Wii, hacking, hack, hacked and exploit. This leads me to believe that someone is trying to crack into the code of the Nintendo Wii. Additionally, the guest speaker is somewhat negative toward the Wii at the beginning. The author feels Nintendo made some smart decisions by improving the processor and adding bluetooth, but says the Wii is just an improved GameCube. Additionally, the speaker criticizes the fact that the Nintendo Wii lacks an encrypted memory scheme.

Unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with game programming code, therefore, I am asking others get me up to speed on this topic. However, it is definitely impacting Nintendo Wii buzz positively and negatively, especially as it relates to the Wii lacking encrypted memory.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

NFL Network Works Out Deal to Broadcast Historic Game

I came across a posting at Advertising Age about NFL simulcasting the potentially historic game. "The NFL said yesterday that it had reached a deal for CBS and NBC affiliates to carry the NFL Network's broadcast of Saturday night's game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Should the 15-0 Patriots prevail over the 10-5 Giants, they'll become the first NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish the regular season undefeated," says Jeremy Mullman at Advertising Age.

You can read more about it by linking to the actual article.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kmart Creates Ads to Target Specific Audiences

I came across a post at Adage.com regarding Kmart tailoring TV ads for different audiences. Now I agree with Kmart's strategy, but I'm not sure why they didn't get around to this sooner. Creating ads targeting different audiences is something that every brand should strive to do.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How Does the Mitchell Report Affects Marketers?

U.S. Senator George Mitchell released the Mitchell Report December 13, 2007 which covers the history of illegal drug use in Major League Baseball (MLB).

The release of the Mitchell Report led me to do some research about its implications on sports marketers. However, I feel the impact will be minimal. Short of Roger Clemens, I don't think any of the star players listed where any surprise. Miguel Tejada, maybe? Barry Bonds, no surprise here. Additionally, anyone who has followed baseball over the past 2-3 years is very much aware of the steroid allegations toward many of baseballs superstars.

Baseball has survived scandal before (i.e. 1919 World Series). However, each blow becomes worse and worse. I hope MLB works to get things right and I think it will. I love going to a baseball game, drinking a cold beer and seeing the different ways in which brands reach out to sports fans.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Social Networking...No Longer Just for Teens

I came across an interesting article at Bloggingstocks.com about skepticism regarding the popular social networking site, Facebook. Venture capitalists have found out that it's not easy advertising to the social networking crowd.

This week, eMarketer published a study that forecasts that social networking advertising is expected to reach $4 billion by 2011 (on a global basis). Something else: eMarketer thinks that about half of all online adults will be on social networks by 2011. The author, Tim Taulli, disagrees. While he feels teens will remain avid on social networking sites, he goes on to say, "But, adults have other things to do besides social networking (such as making a living, taking care of kids, and so on). In other words, if eMarketer is counting on adults for social networking riches, it might want to think again."

Personally, I agree with Tim. Also, even if adults have an account with a social networking site, how often will they visit the page and update it or look around. I had a Facebook account, but canceled it since I never visited the page. Also, I have a MySpace, but I'm lucky to update it once a month. Unfortunately, I have more important things to do than focus on MySpace, like updating my marketing blog.

I do feel that social networks sites such as Facebook will continue to grow, but I do not feel half of all online adults will be on social networks by 2011. And even if they are on a social networking sites, marketers must still find out how active adults are before committing millions of dollars to reaching someone who may only be there part-time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Top Consumer Credit Cards

I came across an interesting article regarding the top consumer credit cards by Jennifer Waters at MarketWatch. She notes that Capital One's Card Lab was ranked No. 1 according to IndexCreditCards.com.

Capital One's Card Lab allows consumers to pick and choose their own features such as interest rates and rewards or introductory rates on new purchases or balance transfers. This seems somewhat similar to the Chase Freedom "Dynamic" rewards card. The Chase Freedom Card got a fresh rewards program this year that helped put it in the top three. The program automatically gives cardholders higher rebates for their three top monthly purchases, which tend to be gas, groceries and dining out.

Consumers like cash rewards, but not every bank can offer 5% cash back on every purchase. Personally, I feel flexible rewards cards may be the wave of the future when it comes to credit card rewards. Consumers will be able to receive higher cash back percentages from businesses and services they frequent more often versus other businesses. I see this as a win-win for both banks and consumers. Banks can still offer reasonable cash back rewards while consumers receives high cash back rewards on things they purchase most often.

Additionally, the article reviews three "green" cards for environmentally focused consumers which include the Bank of America Brighter Planet Visa, the GE Money Earth Rewards Card and the GreenPay MasterCard. The cards offer rewards points that help fund environmental projects such as tree planting.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pepsi Introduces New Bottle

Pepsi has partnered with the New York City-based packaging design firm 4sight inc. to come up with a new 20 oz. bottle for the US market. The new design incorporates structural elements meant to appeal to the all-important youth demographic.

The new packaging is part of a larger branding program called "Choreography," which Pepsi launched early in 2007 for all 14 US trademarked Pepsi and Diet Pepsi beverages. This is according to an article at
BEVERAGEWORLD.

Personally, I like Pepsi's new design. At first glance, it seems like the colors are brighter than previous Pepsi labels. Additionally, I spoke to my wife about her opinions regarding Pepsi's new 20-oz. bottles. She feels the packaging makes the bottle appear taller than before, but is the only real difference she notices. Overall, she feels they look very much the same as previous 20 oz. bottles. However, she does like Pepsi's new design on its 12 oz. cans. She feels that it has a "retro" appeal comparable to bottles of the old days (i.e. pre-1960's). She does find the Pepsi cans more appealling than Pepsi bottles. Although, this may be due to the fact that we mostly buy 12 and 24-pack 12 oz. canned Pepsi products. Likewise, I do agree that Pepsi's new 12-oz. cans have sort of a "retro" feel. I hope this is an avenue Pepsi goes down in the future. You can find out more about Pepsi's new 12 oz. cans at Throwbackapepsi.com. Coke also launched its new contour "Grip" 20 oz. bottle in September 2007. There is some information available on it at Earthtimes.org.

Neither my wife or I will stop buying Pepsi products simply because one of us questions the packaging. We have had several positive experiences with Pepsi's customer service and see no point in changing brands anytime soon.


I understand that packaging may not be the most interesting subject, but I'm really surprised that hardly no one else is really taking notice or blogging about Pepsi and Coke's newly designed 20 oz. bottles. Both brands really took a hit over the summer of 2007 regarding the environmental and health and safety aspects of plastic bottles. However, both companies are really trying to move in the right direction by reducing the amount of plastic used to make plastic bottles and making them 100% recyclable.

I have seen some discussion from online commentators complaining that beverage companies should stop using plastic altogether since its hurts the environment, but this does not make any sense. Perhaps we should all stop driving vehicles since release toxins into the atmosphere. Also, this begs the question, what next? Should bottle manufacturers revert to glass containers, why? Glass and plastic are both recyclable materials. Therefore, I do not see a huge benefit in switching to back to glass. Also, glass can only be recycled back into glass while plastic can be recycled into many other products according to Passaiccountynj.org. Therefore, I am calling on all the influential environment bloggers out there to do some research and get behind companies and products supporting the environment. It is very hard for mankind to return to its old ways pre-modern society. However, we can do our part by following the 5R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reject products that are overpackaged and React and supporting companies interested in following these 5R's as well.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What Are The Most Influential Financial Sites?

Have you ever wondered where to find really good financial information online, specifically for purposes of banking and investing? Have you ever gone through a negative experience interacting with a bank, but did not know where to go or who to talk to in person or online? Well, I think I can help. I recently used a combination of metrics (i.e. inbound links, traffic rankings, etc...) to rank financial sites. In fact, I have been able to rank more than 80 financial sites using my methodology. Unfortunately, I will only list the top ten financial sites. However, feel free to contact me if you wish to see the "big list."

Top Ten Financial Sites:

1. http://www.fatwallet.com
2. http://seekingalpha.com
3. http://www.epinions.com
4. http://messages.yahoo.finance.com
5. http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com
6. http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat
7. http://ftalphaville.ft.com
8. http://www.elitetrader.com
9. http://www.portfolio.com
10. http://www.creditboards.com

Why do these sites matter to consumers? These sites are places where consumers meet to discuss financial products and services and investing. Consumers discuss a variety of issues including credit reporting tactics, credit card interest rates, rewards and provide information about which banks offer the highest yields on savings accounts. Additionally, some sites cover higher level topics such as the sub-prime meltdown.

Why do these sites matter to financial marketers? These sites should be on the radar of every financial company in the United States, if not the world. Consumers visting these sites often talk about which brands offer the best products and services. And it should be important for every marketer and customer service manager working for a financial institution to know what consumers are saying about their business.

Marketing executives and customer service managers should make a point to find out which people are moderating discussion and communicate with influential consumers posting on these sites. Additionally, marketing executives and customer service managers should make a point to reach help and help resolve issues deriving from consumers complaining about their business in leading financial forums and blogs, especially since consumers discussing negative experiences on these sites may be heard loud and clear by others.

I hope this brief list of leading financial sites helps. I'll try generate a few lists highlighting leading sites for other topics such as environmentalism, automotive and technology in the future. Also, feel free to leave a message letting me know if I left out a site that should be in the top ten for financial discussion. Unfortunately, I have limited resources so I apologize if I left out a major site which should be listed higher.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Online Video Strategy...Doritos and Heinz Lead the Way

Kevin Nalts at Advertising Age posted an interesting article about ten lessons for marketers using viral videos. He argues that marketers need follow several guidelines (listed below).

Ten Lessons for Marketers Using Viral Videos:
Lesson 1) Tap into the video community.
Lesson 2) Quality of the video is not what determines its popularity.
Lesson 3) A video of a dog skateboarding can get 3 million views, but that doesn't mean your commercial will. Nalt feels a smarter play is to sponsor popular video creators to create entertainment.
Lesson 4) Online-video marketing is not just about contests. Smarter brands connect directly with prominent viral video creators.
Lesson 5) "Tagging" your video with keywords doesn't get them seen.
Lesson 6) Consumers migh see your video, but that doesn't mean they'll visit your site and buy.
Lesson 7) Paying for a well-produced video won't necessarily increase your brands ROI.
Lesson 8) Not all video portals are created equal. Make it a point to lower production costs.
Lesson 9) You may be a conservative organization but don't let that keep you from this medium.
Lesson 10) This medium will become measurable.

Nalt says that marketers should connect with online-video creators versus creating their own. And this is a good plan as long as you are connecting with the right creators. Additionally, they need to make sure their videos on located on the right site(s).

I skimmed through the all time most viewed videos on YouTube to get a glimpse about which videos are viewed most often. Interestingly, most of the videos pertain to music (i.e. singers such as Avril Lavigne and actors/actress like Britney Spears). For example, the popular video title "LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!" currently has 13,145,410 posts as of November 26, 2007. In fact, I didn't notice any videos related to a single brand as I skimmed over the first five pages of most viewed videos on YouTube. This tells me that marketers have a tough road to go if they plan on marketing through YouTube or any other video portal. Unfortunately, brands are not top-of-mind among consumers on video portal sites. However, there are alternatives, like setting up another site to draw consumers.

This is where "Lesson 8: Not all video portals are created equal" becomes interesting. Nalt says, "The vast majority of online viewing occurs on YouTube. Putting your videos on a bloated-product.com site is the online equivalent to running television commercials on a kiosk hidden in an abandoned cemetery." And I couldn't agree with him more. It doesn't make sense to me for a brand to post a video on YouTube. Odds are, it won't break through the clutter. Now I'm not saying to avoid sites like YouTube, but it shouldn't be the primary site where a brands video is posted.

Personally, I think Doritos and Heinz have provided an outstanding template for other brands to follow. Doritos encourage consumers to submit their own videos as part of its "Crash The Super Bowl" contest last year. Many of the videos appeared on YouTube. Likewise, it set up an independent site at Yahoo Promotions where consumers voted for their favorite video. Heinz also took a similar approach when it set up a special website for its Top This TV challenge. I think both Doritos and Heinz have created excellent blueprints for other marketers interested in online video strategy to follow.

LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A-B Looks to Go Upscale

Tom Barlow over at Bloggingstocks recently posted an article about Anheuser-Busch's plans to take a new track in its 2008 marketing. A-B will emphasize the quality of ingredients and brewing techniques in its core brands, Budweiser and Michelob.

Tom mentions that A-B is reacting to two challenges: declining/flat sales of its mainstream suds, and the competition posed by the recently announced partnership of SABMiller and Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) to mutually market their products in the U.S. He argues that some companies fail to find the right balance that persuades the public that they are getting a bargain, better quality for the same price. Additionally, he feels the current Miller High Life campaign is one of the best he's ever seen, "A tasty beer at a tasty price." Personally, I'd have to agree with this.

Too many companies try to come up with a fancy slogan that doesn't make any sense consumers. For example, Heineken recently began a marketing campaign playing on "irresistible" messaging. However, I'm not really sure who they are targeting. I know Heineken is trying to position itself as a "luxury" beer, but I'm not sure about their stategy. For example, I question its sponsorship of Yahoo Fantasy Football. Heineken highlights the "Premium Player of the Week" for every Yahoo Fantasy Football league each week. Now, I'm an avid fantasy football player and I can assure you that there is nothing "luxurious" about fantasy football. I would think that Heineken would be targeting a more affluent crowd. I would look into sponsoring a golf tournament or something along those lines if I were at Heineken. Marketing is all about finding a position and exploiting it. I feel that Heineken may have their position, but they're not exploiting it.



Send me an e-mail or leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns about my recent post.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Starbucks Commits to First National TV Campaign

Here is some interesting news that I found over a Ad Age. Apparently, Starbucks is breaking its first national TV ad campaign to get consumers to buy another cup. Starbucks announced the campaign November 15, 2007, along with a decline of 1% in the average transactions per store in the U.S. It cut its fiscal-year forecast, which sent shares down 6%.

Now call me crazy, but this comes as a complete shocker. I frequent Starbucks often and I'm always waiting in a line for my Grande Latte. Additionally, Starbucks buzz is currently increasing online before any of its new ads have began running. I'll make sure to follow up on this after the holidays. It will be interesting to see if Starbucks upward buzz trend online continues after its new campaign airs.

(Double-click to see larger view of Starbucks buzz trend)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Fantasy Football Blog

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am starting a new blog focused on Fantasy Football. Therefore, visit my new blog, Fantasy Football Plus if you have any questions or need to get your fantasy fix. I will be providing links to a variety of information sources. Plus, I'll help anyone in need.

I'll continue to update my marketing blog as well for those who are still interested.

Thanks for reading!

Microsoft In Cahoots With Facebook



Microsoft recently invested $240 million equity in Facebook. However, two questions arise from this action. A). Why is Microsoft investing and Facebook and how will it help Microsoft? B). What will Facebook do with the cash?

Microsoft already has a deal to sell third-party IAB-standard display advertising on Facebook. However, investing $240 million into Facebook will allow it to leverage new the populare social networking site in different ways than it did before. I don't see this investment paying off in the short-term, but it will definitely be interesting to see how it plays out over a longer period of time as Facebook is continually growing. It is expected to reach 200 or 300 million users at some point in the future.

To answer the second question, Facebook will be able to use the cash to create strategies enticing new companies to market themselves on the site. Social network spending is predicted to be $1.235 billion in 2007 and $3.63 billion by 2010.

Feel free to visit my Facebook page.

Source: Adage

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This Bud Commercial Never Gets Old

I have to say that the Budweiser "Leon" commercials are some of my favorite.


This one never gets old!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What About the Fans?

I found an interesting post about the battle between cable companies and sports networks. Interestingly, DirecTV and Dish Network are able to carry sports channels as part of their basic packages, but service providers can't. However, this issue has been going on for a while. Time Warner Cable's(TWC) failure to carry the NFL Network continues to be a moot point for NFL fans using its services.

Great Service at GameStop



I went to GameStop Sunday, September 16, 2007 to purchase a new Xbox 360 along with a copy of Madden 08'. I brought my new system home, took it out of the box and hooked it up. I played the game for several hours. Overall, I feel the graphics for Madden 08' are really awesome and I would definitely recommend football fans to buy this game.

Unfortunately, I had to stop playing Madden 08' late Sunday evening to get ready for work and go to bed. I planned on playing the game a little bit on Monday night. However, I encountered some technical difficulties (I'm always experiencing technical difficulties with something!). My new Xbox could not read the disc. Therefore, I went up to GameStop where a customer service representative quickly gave me a new copy. I am glad to say this one works fine.

Now I'm writing this post to give GameStop kudos for providing good customer service. I was not expecting the process to be easy. I had my receipt in hand (as always), but I thought it would be a long drawn out process to get an exchange. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to exchange my video game for a new copy hassle- free with no questions asked. I might add that this experience will lead me to do more business with my local GameStop retailer versus their competitors. In addition, I will definitely include GameStop in my list of products and brands which I regularly use and recommend others to try.

Here is an updated list of brands that I recommend using as a result of positive experiences:

1. Pepsi - Good Service
2. Ford - Good products (I own 2006 Ford Explorer and a 2007 Ford Focus) My Ford Focus gets like 35 miles per gallon. I've only filled up twice between August 21, 2007 and September 19, 2007.
3. T-Mobile - Good Service
4. GameStop - Good Service
5. Sibcy Cline - I have a good relationship with my realtor even after purchasing my new home. How good is that?

Here is an updated list of brands that I recommend avoiding as a result of negative experiences:

1. Golds Gym - Very Bad Service.


Overall, I'm interested in finding out other peoples opinions regarding good and bad service experiences. Feel free to leave comments!

New England Patriots SpyGate Video on YouTube



The video shown above posted on September 15, 2007 and already has 96,000+ views. This is clearly an example of a video gone viral. In addition, overall buzz about the New England Patriots has risen significantly since news outlets released information about the New England Patriots stealing signals during its season opener against the New York Jets.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Can "Short Selling" Buzz Predict Market Conditions?

Below is a graph showing some interesting findings comparing discussion about “Short Selling” stock and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) between January 2007 and early September 2007. As you can see, online discussion about “Short Selling” peaks Jan 07’ through March 07' and again June 07’ through August 07’. Interestingly, the DJIA increases between April 07’ – May 07’ when discussion about “Short Selling” goes down. Now I’m not saying online buzz about “Short Selling” is predictive of market conditions, but it warrants attention.



Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this posting or methodology.
Have a good weekend!

Marketrman

Sunday, September 09, 2007

NFL Fantasy Football Rap



Here is an interesting video I came across while surfing YouTube.

Nieman Marcus Targets YouTube

I came across an interesting post at Ad Age about Nieman Marcus taking over the front page of YouTube to show consumers its "cool" side. Neiman Marcus chose to market its style savvy to YouTubers, who turn out to be a bit older and wealthier than the typical web surfer.

Here is some interesting demographics information regarding YouTube visitors.




















Visit Ad Age to find out more about Nieman Marcus' venture to YouTube.

Source:Ad Age

McD's Going to McCafe



Are you traveling overseas in the near future? You will soon be able to get your caffeine fix from McDonalds. The company is planning to open hundreds McCafe's serving gourmet coffees in an effort to expand its business globally. But don't count on seeing a McCafe in your neighborhood anytime soon.

"They're going to struggle in the U.S., but they have a great opportunity abroad," said Darren Tristano, exec VP at Technomic, a food-industry research and consulting firm. "Americans are used to spending small amounts at McDonalds, and getting a 99¢ double cheeseburger and kids' meals. McCafĂ© raises the bar. That's a sticking point. It's difficult to get Americans to spend more money because that's not part of their mind-set at McDonald's."

McDonald's is trying to gain momentum in the gourmet coffee arena. It competes against many other businesses such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King vying for customers looking to wake up and eat. Now I must say that McDonalds has come a long way. In fact, McDonalds beat Starbucks in a taste test according to a post at Starbucks Gossip.

I do agree with the results to some extent. But you have to realize that Starbucks is not targeting the same consumers as McDonalds in all cases. Fortunately, I have experience with both companies products and services. McDonalds coffee is very bold and has a lot of aroma. Just add two creams, one sugar and I'm on my way! Additionally, I like its iced coffee selections. However, I give the edge to Starbucks in regards to expresso, latte's, mocha's and other specialty coffee selections.

Source: Ad Age

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

NFL Fantasy File



I came across a series of intriguing videos by typing "NFL Fantasy Files" at YouTube.com the other day. The videos feature several high profile NFL players performing amazing acts, which seem unreal. In fact, much of the buzz surrounding the videos pertains to fans doubting the content is real. I have my doubts about some of the videos being real also. Nonetheless, they still show NFL players performing some amazing feats.

Friday, August 31, 2007

"Sub-prime" Discussion Blasts Off

I have to apologize for not posting in a while, but I have just recently purchased my first new home and it took me a while to get things moved in and put away. Therefore, I am now a proud member of the "homeowners" club! Fortunately, I didn't let the "sub-prime" crisis scare me away from buying my first home. I am very optimistic about the housing market and feel it is a great time for buyers.

I have become increasingly aware of the "sub-prime" mortgage crisis, especially now that I own a home. Therefore, I decided to see what all the recent buzz is about. Also, I thought it would be ironic if my first posting since closing on my new home related to increasing "sub-prime" discussion.

As you all know, the financial markets are under a lot of scrutiny by consumers and the feds. Buzz regarding the "sub-prime" crisis has really taken off. The analysis below shows "sub-prime" discussion along with a few other topics financial related topics. I wanted to see if discussion about select financial institutions or investments are congruent with "sub-prime" discussion.

The analysis shows some interesting results. Distinct callouts include finding out that that online discussion Countrywide Home Loans and "hedge funds" in general correlate with "sub-prime" discussion, r = .71 and r = .72 respectively. Countrywide's discussion coincides with "sub-prime" as a result of consumers acknowledging that it began laying off employees due to the mortgage crisis in August 2007. Additionally, the fallout of several major "hedge funds" and other mortgage related securities has led to growing concerns amongst consumers online.

Feel free to contact me regarding these findings. I will continue tracking "sub-prime" discussion and update my findings as they are available.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Michael Vick Discussion

Football season is here everybody! And I wanted to give everyone an update on the Michael Vick indictment. I ran through 100 random messages and classified them accordingly (see below). Most consumers discuss a variety of issues (i.e. comparing the incident to the Duke Lacrosse team incident where the players were deemed "guilty" before the "not guilty" verdict came out. Interestingly, more than twice as many consumers feel Michael Vick should be suspended compared to those who do not.

I do feel the amount of discussion relating to consumers discontent over Clinton Portis' comments supporting dog fighting warrants attention, but I'm not sure Goodell can do a lot about it given our first amendment rights.

Topic
% of Goodell / Vick Discussion

Summary of Discussion
Other
25.2%
Consumers compare to Duke Lacrosse team incident where the players were deemed “guilty” before the “not guilty” verdict came out. Additionally, several petitions are being pass around to have Michael Vick suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Additionally, some consumers (2.8%) feel Goodell shouldn’t suspend Vick.
Repost Articles
15.9%
Consumer repost news articles covering Michael Vick’s legal woes.
Vick Should Be
Suspended
14.0%
Some consumers explicitly say that Vick should be punished by the NFL regardless whether he is found guilty or not. More than twice as many consumers feel Vick should be suspended (indefinitely?) compared to who feel he shouldn’t and to let due process take its course.
General Mentions
8.4%
Consumers nonchalantly reference the Michael Vick dog fighting issue.
Clinton Portis’
Comments
8.4%
Some consumers are discontent over Clinton Portis’ comments supporting dog fighting.
Goodell and Art Blank receiving letters
6.5%
Consumers mention Roger Goodell and Atlanta Falcons owner Art Blank receiving letters from Rev. Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons and PETA.
“IF” Vick Discussion
5.6%
Consumers discuss what will happen “IF” Vick is convicted (i.e. go to jail).
Goodell’s Reaction to Clinton Portis
4.7%
Discussion pertains consumers’ opinions that Roger Goodell has done more to address Clinton Portis regarding his support for dog fighting than Michael Vick.
Expect Vick Won’t Be
Suspended
4.7%
A small percent of consumers discuss their expectations about whether Vick will be suspended.
Vick is Innocent Until Proven Guilty
4.7%
Only a small percent consumers feel that Vick should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


Feel free to leave any comments if you have questions or concerns regarding my analysis.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Do Bottled Water Containers Hurt the Environment?; Are Critics Merely "Following the Money?"

Recent Discussion About Bottled Water Mirrors Recycling

Correlations:
Bottle Water and Recycling: .93
Aquafina and "Tap Water" = .88
Dasani and "Tap Water" = .93
Aquafina and recycling = .89
Dasani and recycling = .94

There has been a huge spike in the amount of discussion about bottled water since mid-June 2007. Interestingly, discussion about bottled water correlates highly with discussion about recycling [see above]. Additionally, there is a rise in media coverage relating to this issue. For example, there was an article at CNN on Friday, July 27, 2007. Some key themes mentioned in the article which mirror consumers’ discussion about bottled water include:

1. New Aquafina labels saying that bottled water made with tap water
2. Maker Pepsi says it's reasonable to say where water comes from
3. Critics of bottled water say containers are wasteful
4. Many buyers say bottled water is more convenient

I ran a few correlations which turned out to be extremely high. Interestingly, consumers discussion about bottle water correlates rather high with recycling. This is mostly due to consumers expostulating over that fact that bottled water containers (i.e. plastic bottles) are extremely wasteful. And while I agree that water containers are wasteful, I do not feel critics arguing are looking at all the facts. Soda, milk and beer are also sold in plastic containers among others. Therefore, I ask two questions.

1. Why is all the recent hype about bottled water only?
2. Why are Pepsi (Aquafina) and Coca-Cola (Dasani) brought up most within media coverage and consumers discussion online?

Personally, I feel their are a lot of critics taking aim at Pepsi and Coca-Cola since they feel the companies are making a lot of money selling tap water. A co-worker of mine brought up a similar situation that occurred in the late 80's/early 90's which makes a lot of sense to me. The cardboard/paperboard industry started attacking plastic milk jugs as "health hazards" because they claimed that see-through milk containers (plastic) made vitamins leach out of the milk quicker than if milk came in cartons, which protected milk from sunlight/exposure by not being see-through. The first waves of PR/media coverage were about the "negative health effects of plastic containers for milk," but it wasn't until someone dug deeper that it became apparent the cardboard/paperboard industry was behind the campaign. They were trying to convince milk producers to keep using cardboard when everybody was switching to plastic. My co-worker went on to say, "Who's behind this one attacking plastic containers again? Aluminum can companies? Just a thought ("follow the money" is always a good ideas when these sorts of things hit)." And I couldn't agree more.

Consumers complaining about negative effects of plastic containers on our environment should do more to push things that better our environment such as recycling, alternative fuels and solar power. Consumers like to be motivated. Unfortunately, helping the environment is not important to a lot of people. Many consumers find it expensive and inconvenient. For example, recycling centers are few and far between where I live. I have to drive 20-30 miles out of my way to drop off recyclable goods. Additionally, it costs extra money to sign up for recycling services where I live (which I pay by the way). My point is that critics and consumers looking to improve the environment should lobby for reasons to get people excited about helping the environment (i.e. incentives, tax benefits, etc). I think we are moving in the right direction. Owners of hybrid vehicles are now able to get tax benefits. Likewise, consumers and businesses should be reward for doing other things to help the environment (i.e. installing solar power panels on a home or business instead of using electricity, volunteering in a community clean up project, ride share, etc...). And don't get me wrong, big business has a certain amount of social responsibility to help keep the environment safe and clean. However, going after businesses should not be only recourse. We should all be "thinking green" and "doing our share for cleaner air."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Professional Sports Leagues Face Major Issues

The NFL, NBA and MLB are all in the midst battling issues which have huge implications. Michael Vick has given the NFL a huge bone to chew over allegations that he is involved in a dog fighting ring. MLB is hampered by steroids discussion magnified by Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron for the most sacred record in all of sports, the home-run record. And finally, the NBA is being bombarded by negativity around organized gambling and game fixing schemes.

The graph above shows a discussion timeline for some of the hot topics currently being talked about in pro sports. The Michael Vick dog fighting issue tops the list. Despite receiving more buzz, sports fans don't feel Michael Vick's dog fighting woes puts NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the worst situation. A poll on ESPN's Sportsnation reveals most sports enthusiasts feel David Stern is in the worst position among commissioners in charge of pro sports leagues.

I do believe the NBA is in the worst position among the pro sports leagues since accusations of referee Tim Donaghy fixing games questions the integrity of the sport. However, the NFL and MLB both have issues they must attend to on their own. Also, do not forget that cheating and scandals have been a part of sports in the past. The Chicago White Sox supposedly threw the 1919 World Series which led to a victory for my beloved Cincinnati Reds. And do not forget Pete Rose betting on the game. Baseball overcame similar issues in the past. Likewise, the NBA will recover, but it has to deal with it in the present. Similarly, I feel all three leagues will recover, but not overnight.

Can Online Discussion be used to Predict Interest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF's)?

A co-worker of mine came to me a few days ago and asked whether exchange traded fund (ETF) discussion has trended down and if so, would that be a leading indicator that ETF popularity will be decreasing. Therefore, I set up a small project to see whether a correlation between online buzz and trading volume existed. The results are very surprising.

First I wanted to see how online discussion about ETF's in general was trending. Discussion rose significantly from October 2006 to April 2007. However, discussion started to level off, then pick up again in early July 2007.



Second, I wanted to see how trading volume for specific ETF's trended over time compared to online discussion. Therefore, I looked at two ETF's, PowerShares Gldn Dragon Halter USX China (PGJ) and iShares MSCI Malaysia Index (EWM). Interestingly, there seems to be some correlation between online discussion and trading volume for ETF's. PGJ's average trading volume has a .79 correlation with online discussion about the fund while EWM's average trading volume has a correlation of .84 with online discussion. Overall, these are rather impressive.

Now I am not a finance guru by any stretch of the imagination. However, I do think this analysis provides some insight. Discussion volume and trading volume for both ETF's peak between January and March. Interestingly, share prices for both began to flatten.

I am not saying that online discussion should be used when evaluating whether to purchase an ETF, but it does warrant some attention. Typically, higher trading volumes indicate that more investors are buying (stock price goes up) or selling (stock price goes down) a particular stock.

I have yet to determine the cause and effect relationship between online buzz and trading volume for ETF's. However, I'm sure it is possible if I am able to review "real time" information about how people are talking. For example, Apple shares plunged $8.00 on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 when the first wave of "activation" numbers came through. I could have speculated increased trading volume would follow if consumers were saying things like "I'm going to be selling my Apple stock since iPhone sales were disappointing." In contrast, increases in trading volume may cause online discussion if investors discuss the transaction after the fact (i.e. "I sold my Apple stock today since iPhone sales were lower than expected").

* Average trading volume information came from Yahoo finance historical information for EWM and PGJ.

On a separate note, I'm sorry for not leaving a post in a while. I have been very busy trying to complete the purchase of my first home. I close on August 21, 2007. Feel free to send an e-mail to www.conceptsmarketingresearch@hotmail.com or leave a comment regarding anything I've posted today or in the past.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Live Earth Gives iPhone a Run For Its Money



I found an some interesting information at Pete Blackshaw's blog, Consumergeneratedmedia.com. He says "The buzz jury is still out, but there's just no question the Live Earth global concert is giving iPhone buzz a run for the money. Whether it's sustainable (pun intended) or not will take time to determine, but the concert does appear to have succeeded in generating a significant, and growing, global conversation on the global warming issue.

Personally, I think it will be interesting to see how long the iPhone maintains high buzz levels. Buzz has lowered considerably since its official release. Also, the iPhone is receiving negative buzz regarding its battery replacement. Negative word-of-mouth concerning battery replacement and distribution (i.e. availability through AT&T / Cingular only) may actually keep the iPhone from becoming as popular as many hope.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Shawn Drops iPhone in Houston

I came across a video titled “Shawn drops iPhone in Houston” on YouTube. It posted on June 29, 2007 and has more than 547,366 views and 970 comments. Consumers commenting feel the video is funny since someone dropped their new iPhone. They make comments such as “omg thats funny” and “wow that guy has butter fingers lol it's probably broken now”. Shawn, the person who drops their iPhone, essentially shakes it off saying the iPhone should be ok since it has a plastic covering.



Interestingly, I came across some other videos [below] at YouTube from consumers critiquing Shawn for dropping his iPhone. One person does not understand why people find the video titled “Shawn drops iPhone in Houston” so funny. Another consumer feels Shawn is an "idiot" for dropping his iPhone.



I do not know about you, but I think the guy in the above video may have some issues. Additionally, I hint a bit of jealousy. Perhaps he was waiting in line for 12+ hours for an iPhone only to find out his local vendor was out-of-stock. I guess that would drive me insane enough to complain about someone else's misfortune (i.e. Shawn dropping his iPhone).

I wish I could meet the guy in this video because I would seriously tell him to Lighten Up, figuratively and metaphorically. This video is so dark it would scare Darth Vader!



The girl in this video needs to "chill out." And who is she calling an "idiot?" She is over-reacting more than Shawn. Shawn is the one who dropped the iPhone, not her.

Unfortunately, Shawn is not getting a lot of love from consumers online. However, that should not be of any concern to him. He has an iPhone and they do not. Go Shawn!

Videos like the two above lead me to have more sympathy for the consumers critiquing Shawn rather than Shawn himself. And Shawn is the one who dropped the iPhone. Some of these consumers just need to get a life, or a job. Afterwards, they can afford to buy their own iPhone and drop it so others can post videos about them on YouTube. Seriously, I have yet to meet someone who has never dropped something. I do not feel dropping something is worth being overly-criticized for, even if it is an iPhone.

I have heard that Shawn was able to replace his dropped iPhone for a new one. However, I cannot confirm this. Therefore, I am asking all of my readers to give me the "inside scoop" as to whether Shawn was able to replace it. Please provide a link to a source confirming that Shawn's iPhone was indeed replaced if possible. Also, is Apple doing anything to capitalize on good Public Relations (PR) if the iPhone was replaced? Any information on these two questions would be greatly appreciated.

The video titled "Shawn drops iPhone in Houston" on YouTube is becoming fairly viral. I have a few tips for Apple if they want to capitalize this incident.

1). Hold a press conference or post a formal video on YouTube letting consumers know what they are doing to help Shawn (i.e. replacing the iPhone). I understand there may be some legal issues since Apple will not want to let people know that they will replace every iPhone simply because it is dropped. Apple's legal department will be able to tackle this issue though.

2). Shawn could be the spokesperson for the new iPhone. I feel this may be beneficial for both Apple and the general public. Shawn is the subject of much ridicule online, but he did respond positively in the video by talking about the positive attributes of the product such as the plastic covering. Personally, I do not feel it is a bad thing when a lemon can be made into lemonade.

3). Apple should use this incident to encourage consumers to purchase products (i.e. plastic coverings, holders) and services (i.e. insurance plans) to protect their new iPhones. The iPhone is not cheap and I'm sure more consumers are sure to drop theirs.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mickey Mantle Pepsi Card

Pepsi recently ran a promotion that included three special Topps baseball cards in each 24-pack of Pepsi. Upon opening one pack, I found a 2007 Topps baseball card that had Edgar Renteria on the front, and Mickey Mantle's stats on the back.

A unique error on a baseball card is a rare find and any true collector knows that. I immediately called Pepsi's customer service at 1-800-433-2652 to report the error and find out if was going to be corrected. I reached a customer service representative who immediately forwarded my request to Pepsi's promotions department.

I am pleased to say that someone from Pepsi's promotions department called me back within a thirty minutes after my initial call. I received a corrected Mickey Mantle card in the mail several days later. I commend Pepsi for their quick response to the situation. This is yet another great example why I feel Pepsi is an outstanding brand.

I've been trying to find out the value of the corrected Mickey Mantle card. It is currently selling on eBay for about $50, which is not a bad return-on-investment (ROI) for a 24-pack of Pepsi. I feel the value of the corrected version may go up as more people find out about the rare card.

An eBay screenshot along with a picture of the Mickey Mantle card are shown below.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hillary Clinton Sopranos Spoof



Hillary Clinton's latest video is a teaser encouraging voters to go to Hillary Clinton's website to see which song she will be using for her campaign.

I find this ending to be similar, yet better than the last episode of Sopranos. The commercial goes blank at the very end, then text appears encouraging voters find out the winning song by visiting her website. I wonder if the final episode of Sopranos would have went over better with viewers had its producers created a special website encouraging viewers to visit it for more details. Instead, the screen went blank during the final episode of Sopranos. This caused millions of viewers to search for their remote controls or call their cable/satellite providers to may sure there were no technical difficulties.

Personally, I feel Hillary Clinton does a great job taking a page out of the Sopranos book and improving it for this teaser video. It posted on June 19, 2007 and has more than 86,000 views and 340 comments.

I Love Obama Video



Here is a Consumer Generated Media (CGM) video about presidential candidate Barack Obama. This is another great example how social media will impact the 2008 presidential election. It was posted on June 15, 2007 and already has 10,000 views and 49 comments.

Consulting Services

I'm currently assisting a few small businesses, USA BABY Cincinnati and Milford Dental Excellence (MDE) with their marketing needs. I'm am performed some market research studies for both small companies during fall 2006. Since then, I have been assisting them with a variety of marketing efforts.

I am helping USA BABY spend its marketing dollars wisely. USA BABY is looking to get away from traditional marketing activities (i.e. commercials) since they are not as effective as they would like. Therefore, I'm helping them find new methods to reach their target market, first time parents with household incomes greater than $40,000. I am currently assisting USA BABY run Pay Per Click (PPC) ads in Google. Additionally, I have been monitoring the ads and it appears they are having some success. I hope to find some other cost effectives ways to promote USA BABY Cincinnati.

I am also working with MDE to improve its search engine optimization. I have had some success improving their rankings by updating text, H1 headers, titles and meta tags. We are now in the process of building a link campaign. Additionally, I am assisting MDE create a company blog.

Unfortunately, I'm not getting paid to do this work. However, I am learning a great deal that I would not get otherwise. I hope this "extra" work ultimately helps me in my career. I really do enjoy marketing activities (i.e. marketing research and marketing strategies).

Feel free to let me know if you need some market research performed. I can be reached via e-mail at www.conceptsmarketingresearch@hotmail.com.

Consumer Contests Driving Summer Buzz




I've been trying to keep everyone up to date about new contests where companies seek consumer interaction. Doritos X-13D seems to be the clear winner at this point. It is receiving the most buzz in the blogosphere.

*Kodak's Thinklikeryan.com just launched officially June 27, 2007. You can find more information about it by reading Kodak's press release.

I've compiled a list of several companies using social media in 2007.

1. Doritos X-13D
2. Heinz TopThisTV
3. Kodak's Thinklikeryan

Geico's Big Spending Pays Off



Ad Age reports Geico getting ahead with big advertisement spending. The auto insurer with the multiple spokescharacters has increased its ad spending a whopping 75% since 2004. Geico, with its cavemen and gecko, has been the main driver of this skyrocketing spending. The category's next-biggest spender is Progressive, which spent $265 million in 2006, up from $201 million in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

As for brand image, the study says, "Geico occupies unique terrain in the auto-insurance space as a relatively inexpensive carrier that is fun. State Farm and Allstate, on the other hand, occupy more traditional territory (expensive and serious)." I find this strategy similar to WAMU (Washington Mutual). It is trying the shed the image of being a stodgy bank.

The trend graph below shows buzz levels for Geico, State Farm and Progressive in the blogosphere. Overall, Geico receives the most buzz followed by state farm. Geico receives the most discussion due to consumers frequently mentioning its commercials featuring the gecko and caveman.


Personally, I have experience with State Farm, Progressive and Geico. I was with State Farm during my teens and early twenties. I was involved in one accident (not my fault) but found myself covering the deductible since the person who rear-ended me was uninsured. I had to contact a local news station to report on the issue before I getting my deductible back from State Farm. Afterwards, I switched to Progressive. I feel their rates are very competitive. Additionally, I am able to contact them 24-7. My wife and I thought about switching car insurance companies recently. And of course, Geico to was "top of mind." Unfortunately, we did not go with them since they could not save us any money. I am still with Progressive.

I feel Geico's advertising is effective. As I mentioned, they were "top of mind" when I first decided to switch car insurance companies. I would have went with them had their rates been more competitive.

I would really advise Geico to make sure it really can save each consumer hundreds of dollars before getting them to inquire. Otherwise, Geico may end up with more people complaining about them online rather than blogging and posting messages about its commercials.

Doritos X-13D



Doritos introduced its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest in Fall 2006. Consumers were encouraged to submit their own commercial to be aired during the Super Bowl. That promotion was deemed a huge success. Interestingly, Doritos has done it again! They have found a way to create yet another intriguing marketing promotion involving consumers. Doritos has recently introduced X-13D NAME THE FLAVOR contest.

Doritos X-13D chips have a bold, new, mysterious flavor. Doritos encourages everyone to taste them and let their mouth decide. 100 lucky people who submit a name will become Doritos Flavor Masters.

I came across the chips while going back and forth between the aisles at a local Wal-Mart. I came to the chips aisle and immediately noticed an interesting black and white Doritos bag titled "X-13D." I decided to check them out.

At first, I thought the chips tasted like a Burger King Whopper. I like Whoppers, so that was a good thing. I continued eating away. Meanwhile, I was reading the information on the bag. I found out that I could text the name of the flavor I wanted to submit to 24477. Therefore I did.

I feel this promotion will be very successful. Doritos has a lot of experience implementing marketing initiatives deriving from consumers input. I only wish more companies would look to involving consumers.

I've compiled a list of several companies using social media in 2007.

1. Doritos X-13D
2. Heinz TopThisTV
3. Kodak's Thinklikeryan

Feel free to let me know if I've missed any. I'll do some analysis to see which company's social marketing initiatives are receiving the most buzz. I'll report my findings later this summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kodak's Thinklikeryan.com Car Contest



Kodak's newest marketing effort is a contest to paint NASCAR driver Ryan Newman's car. You can find out more information about this contest at Thinklikeryan.com. Participants will be able to create and submit a design. The winning design will be painted on Ryan Newman's car and featured in an upcoming NASCAR race.

Personally, I think this is a great ideal. A lot of companies have had incorporating Consumer Generated Media (CGM) into their marketing efforts. Doritos and General Motors (GM) both incorporated social media aspects in their Super Bowl promotions. Those were deemed a success. Additionally, Kodak has some prior experiences launching interactive contests. For example, KODAK Easyshare Gallery launched a photo contest in support of Olympics in November 2005. Overall, I feel Kodak's contest to paint Ryan Newman's car will go over well, especially with NASCAR fans.



The trend graph above compares online discussion from bloggers about Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman. Discussion about Ryan Newman primarily took place prior to the Daytona 500, Kobalt Tools 500 and Food City 500 races. Discussion about Ryan Newman in the blogosphere is currently trending downward. In contrast, discussion about Dale Jr. has been rising. It peaked on June 13, 2007 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his decision to race for Hendrick Motorsports.

Unfortunately, I can't provide a lot of information about this contest just yet. I haven't found much on Kodak's website since the contest has not officially launched. Additionally, the only link that comes up when I Google "thinklikeryan" is Kodak's contest website, Thinklikeryan.com. I encourage everyone to check the site themselves or visit my blog again. I am interested to see if there will be an interactive element such as internet voting incorporated with this contest. I will post more information about the contest as it becomes available.

The graph below shows search results for "thinklikeryan." Amazingly, Google only returned one result which was a link to Thinklikeryan.com. That is a first!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Growing Without Wal-Mart



AdAge reports companies are beginning to shift their focus from Wal-Mart as it plans to scale back its huge expansion plans. Wal-Mart is a huge retailer which provides the majority of sales for some companies and their products. It is currently adding about 200 Supercenters annually and provides more gross sales than its three nearest rivals -- Costco, Target and Kroger Co. -- combined.

There is no question that Wal-Mart is a key driver of sales for companies and their products. However, companies are finding that more sales do not necessarily mean higher profits. Therefore, they are looking out other outlets (i.e. Supermarkets and drug store chains) to pick up the slack.

Although it gets 26% of its sales from Wal-Mart, Clorox CEO Don Knauss said his company gets a third of its volume and a higher share of its profit from the supermarket channel. AdAge also reports that Procter & Gamble Co. and PepsiCo, already have shifted their strategies toward faster-growing or higher-potential accounts such as drug chains, Costco, Target and some faster-growing regional supermarkets.

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that they do not want be dependent on Wal-Mart for their sales. They want to find new ways to grow their business profitably.Interestingly, P&G has, through acquisitions and growth in emerging markets, driven its share of sales from Wal-Mart down to 15% from 18% the past four years. Even Clorox Co., which gets 26% of its sales from Wal-Mart, seems to be paying more attention to other retailers, specifically supermarkets.

I have a few tips for companies looking to grow without Wal-Mart below:

1). Re-position products - A lot of companies position their products as "bargain" brands. It is tough to make a product stand out from the crowd if everyone else is saying their price is the lowest. Instead, position your product as a top-of-the-line item shifting the focus from price to quality. However, you may want to narrow down the number of retailers who carry your product if you intend to do this.

2). Selective Distribution - Selective distribution channels will help make your product exclusive and unique. Only make your product available at specific retailers. Paul Mitchell has done a great job using this strategy to promote its line of hair products.

3). Target a particular demographic/niche - You may want to consider partnering with retailers who specifically reach your target market. For example, you may want to develop a relationship with retailers like Gap, Old Navy or Macy*s if you are trying to reach the 25-34 crowd. In contrast, you may want your products to be exclusively sold through Bloomingdales or Nordstrom if you want to reach consumers living in households with annual incomes greater than $100,000.

I hope that some of my advice may be useful. Feel free to leave a comment or suggestion regarding anything I've written.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

How About Some Dr. Pepper on Your Chicken?



I love Pepsi, but it may be going to far with this. Needing a revenue boost, Cadbury and Pepsi are beginning to license their brand names. So far, No. 3 beverage giant Cadbury Schweppes has been the most aggressive. Last year, it expanded its partnership with Jelly Belly Candy Co. with the Jelly Belly Soda Pop Shoppe collection. And it already has relationships with Unilever's Good Humor for frozen novelties, Popsicle for sugar-free pops and Breyer's for an A&W-branded root-beer-float ice cream.

It appears that Pepsi is ready to follow suit as Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce, Aquafina skin-care products and Mountain Dew smoothies are all in the works. However, I’m not sure if I totally agree with this since it may dilute the brand equity for some of Pepsi's leading products. Look at what happened to Arm & Hammer in its attempt to become all things to all people(i.e. Arm & Hammer Detergent, Toothpaste, cleaning products, etc...). Now Arm & Hammer is not positioned to attract any particular market segment. Anyways, this is just my opinion. The bigger question relates to whether YOU want Dr. Pepper on YOUR chicken. Do you?











Source: Adage

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

'The 4-Hour Workweek': A Case Study in DIY Marketing

Steve Rubel at Adage reports on the recent success of Timothy Ferriss' best-seller, "The 4-Hour Workweek." Rubel says "Unlike other monster bestsellers, "The 4-Hour Workweek" has had almost no marketing or PR support. Ferriss has not been on Oprah, nor does he have any splashy ads running in business magazines. (He does have a catchy title and an alluring too-good-to-be-true premise that resonates with many in our caffeinated, always-on world.) But more importantly, he reached this orbit by personally getting to know online influencers and being in the right place at the right time."

Additionally, Rubel goes on to say,"There are three tangible lessons in Tim's story: 1) Go where bloggers are. 2) Be there with a message and a story that will appeal to their interests, not yours. 3) Nurture the relationships online and off. Agencies can replicate this success. The challenge is to do so while maintaining margins."

You can find out more about who bloggers are and where they talk by reading my post, Do Marketers Know Who Blogs? How Can They Find Out?

Source: Adage

Volkswagen (VW) Changing Campaigns



Volkswagen's new campaign from Crispin Porter & Bogusky aims to communicate the emotional experience of being inside its cars with the tagline, "When you get into a Volkswagen, it gets into you."

VW's previous campaign, "three V-dubs for under $17,000" launcehd to change consumers perceptions that its vehicles cost too much. Adage reports Adrian Hallmark, exec VP, Volkswagen of America, saying the strategy worked well in some regions (East and West) and for some models (the Rabbit) but not for the Beetle. "We found a drop in the price of a Beetle did not increase desirability," Hallmarkk said, indicating a one-size-fits-all approach wasn't the answer. "Shouting three for under $17,000 hasn't helped, so we are not going to try to compensate for what we are not."

To convey that theme, it has prepared six national TV spots about to break, and each will use a different song from Wilco's new album, "Sky Blue Sky." Andrew Keller, executive creative director at Crispin, said the words line up well with the VW brand.

In one of the first commercials, a tow-truck driver who enters a GTI he intends to tow is so enchanted he moves the car only a few feet -- out of the no-parking zone.

Mr. Keller said the value-model campaign was "an important step along the way," but he maintains that the brand's core value is that it's fun to drive.

Personally, I think VW should be congratulated on recognizing that its current campaign was not working and deciding to switch. It is never an easy decision for a brand to walk away from an unsuccessful campaign. Sometimes a brand manager or advertising agency may ask themselves if they could have done something more. Fortunately, other brands have changed campaigns quickly in the past. For example, American Express recently decided to change its campaign from 'My Life, My Card' to 'Are you a cardmember?'.

Source: Adage

Monday, June 04, 2007

Peformify at UFCJunkie.com Reaches Out

I'm glad say that Performify of UFCJunkie.com showed some concern for my frustration and clarified some issues for me. I just want to thank Performify and let UFCJunkie.com know that I will continue to read their blog as I learn more about Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and International Fight League (IFL).

Here are three recommended blogs to get your MMA fix:

UFCJunkie.com
Fightopinion.com
Sprawl n' Brawl.

I'll leave the MMA reporting to the big boys. However, feel free to let me know if you want additional information regarding MMA, UFC and IFL marketing efforts. I'll do my best to forward any information I may have. You can reach me by e-mail at www.conceptsmarketingresearch@hotmail.com.

Do Marketers Know Who Blogs? How Can They Find Out?

I came across an interesting article a Adage which asks Who Blogs? Additionally, it states that most marketers do not have a clue. The author,Beth Snyder Bulik, says there are over 15 million blogs which are read by 57 million people. I do question Adage's methodology for calculating the number of blogs. The number is probably much higher...unless the criteria they use is a strict "one post a day criteria." The latest estimate from the MySpace is that there are nearly 100 million MySpace page, and it's probably safe to assume that about a fifth are active. There are 48,569,755 blogs according to Blogpulse.com. New blogs are being created every day. Regardless of the actual size of the blogosphere, we can all rest assured that it is growing and becoming a credible source of information for consumers.

"This is simply not a passing fad that can be ignored," said Michael Gartenberg, analyst with Jupiter Research. The author says bloggers have great credibility. They use a recent event as evidence. Engadget reported that Apple's iPhone and Leopard operating system would be seriously delayed. Apple's stock price took an immediate dive, dropping some $4 billion in market capitalization before it was discovered that the information came from a fake leaked memo.

The article goes on to say "Consumers are also taking bloggers' word before they buy. A late 2006 Ipsos MORI survey found that blogs were a more trusted source of information than advertising or e-mail marketing. One-third of respondents said they had decided not to buy a product after reading a negative blog post, while 52% were persuaded to buy after reading a positive review." There is no denying that blogs influence consumers purchase behavior.

Unfortunately, most marketers do not know who is blogging about them. However, I have a few tips which may help them.

1. Type in the name of your company or product in Blogpulse, Technorati, Google Blog Search or any other blog search engine.
2. Collect a list of bloggers talking about your company or product.
3. Read bloggers post to see what they are saying about you. (This may be more important than knowing who they are since some bloggers like to remain anonymous)!
4. Click on a bloggers profile. Many bloggers provide demographic information (i.e. Who they are, Age, Sex, Location, E-mail etc...). This will give you a really good feel about who they are.
5. Determine how much influence a blogger has over other people. Do they post Consumer Generated Media (CGM) in other places (i.e. Discussion boards, Usenet groups, video content on YouTube)?
6. Find out who is in their 'Sphere of Influence'. Do any other bloggers link to them?





I hope these tips can help out some of my fellow marketers. Feel free to leave comments regarding this post.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Up-Branding Has Become Mainstream

I came across an interesting article about "Up-Branding" at Ad Age. There article argues that Up-Branding has become a very common theme among companies and products trying to build brand equity. The articles offers several suggestions to marketers who want to "Up-Brand" their products. They are listed below.

Tips For "Up-Branding"

1. Limiting distribution channels
2. Focusing on small indulgences (i.e. Starbucks targeting consumers looking for premium coffee products).
3. Play from your brands strengths
4. Leverage design
5. Give your brand a "green" label

Personally, I feel some of these ideas are great for "Up-branding," but marketers must be careful how they incorporate them into their marketing strategy. For example, the article at Ad Age mentions playing from your brands strengths. It uses Crest Vivid White. The author, Allen Adamson, says "Crest, for example, has always been associated with a beautiful, healthy smile. Its up-branded product, Crest Vivid White, builds on this well-known brand association by adding whiteness to the beautiful, healthy equation." However, it is important to make sure a brand does not become diluted.

Starbucks is a brand that is suffering from brand dilution. You can find more information about Starbucks' brand dilution at Brand Autopsy.