Monday, April 30, 2007

Fonbucks Undercuts Starbucks

Wireless community builder, Fonbucks, is becoming a big problem for Starbucks. It is giving away Wi-Fi routers to Starbucks' neighbors around the country. The idea was to get Fon routers close to Starbucks customers trying to connect to a wireless network, giving them a choice between $2-a-day Fon Wi-Fi access or $10 Starbucks T-Mobile access.

A deal with Time Warner Cable will allow any Time Warner customer to set up a Wi-Fi hot spot. That means coffee shops and small businesses, as well as enterprising neighbors, can easily offer low-cost Wi-Fi to customers and friends and make money doing it. "I had gotten e-mails from Foneros saying, 'I wish I lived near a Starbucks; I could make a killing,'" said Joanna Rees, CEO of Fon U.S. Fon's data showed a high correlation between Fon usage and Starbucks locations, hence the "Fonbucks" campaign. "In New York or San Francisco, yes, there are a lot of restaurants and cafes that are Wi-Fi-enabled, but that's not the case in the rest of the country," she said.

T-Mobile's Starbucks contract runs out in 2009, and Fon execs are talking to Starbucks about moving inside. And while I like the ideal of Fonbucks driving the cost of Wi-Fi down, I don't think they should partner up with Starbucks. That would go against everything it stands for up to this point. Fonbucks is currently viewed as the Robinhood of Wi-Fi. It is helping the poor (i.e. smaller businesses) by taking away from the rich (i.e. $10 cost to get Wi-Fi through T-Mobile and Starbucks compared to $2 through Fonbucks). I feel partnering with Starbucks may take away some of its "edge."

T-Mobile and Starbucks will need to lower their Wi-Fi prices to remain competitive. I already feel guilty for paying $3.50 for a cup of coffee. I shouldn't have the same feeling when connecting to the internet.

Source: Ad Age

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is Ford Asking the Right Question?

Ford is creating new innovative products and backing them up with strong marketing initiative's. However, I question whether this is the right move. Ford marches forward with it "Bold Moves" campaign, but sales are still lacking. "This month is terrible," Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas said in an interview. "We are not even close to where we expected to be in April."

Ford is doing a great job designing and building new vehicles. Just look at the new Ford Fusion and Ford Edge. Personally, I think those vehicles are dynamite. Furthermore, I feel my opinion is similar to others since I continue to see an increasing number of Fusion's and Edge's on the road. However, I'm confused as to why Ford can't get things turned in the right direction.

I can only think of a few reasons why Ford continues to plummet. Ford may be spending too much on a failing marketing campaign. Perhaps it is selling not selling enough of its high margin vehicles (i.e. Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition and Full-Size trucks) due to consumer concerns over rising gas prices. Finally, consumers continue to have negative perceptions regarding the quality of vehicles from domestic car manufacturers. Nonetheless, Ford may seriously need to rethink its strategy.

I am a huge proponent of Ford. I own a 2006 Ford Explorer and an 2007 Ford Focus. However, it needs to consider doing a few things differently. I have a few suggestions for Ford listed below.

1. Ford should stress the importance of quality. I don't see Ford doing a great job stressing the importance of making high quality vehicles in its current advertising. I know that Ford is making "Bold Moves," but I don't know what for. Ford really needs to prove that it builds better cars than its competitors. Ford should conduct study after study after study proving its quality is better. Also, it needs to get some good reviews from car review magazines and some help from customers passing along positive word-of-mouth.

2. Ford needs to stand for something, such as being an "Eco-friendly" company. Ford should continue to develop new technologies and partner with other car manufactures to build fuel efficient vehicles. Ford needs to be known as a company that builds high quality vehicles while being concerned about the environment.

3. Ford needs to find ways to bring back its core customer. How many previous Ford owners have switched to an import due to a bad experience? Ford needs to remind them what Ford stands for and what it has to offer now.

Overall, I like what I see with Ford's marketing. It is definitely an aggressive marketing campaign, but is it asking the right question? And while I like Ford's "Bold Moves," maybe it should be asking consumers "Have you driven a Ford...lately?"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

NASCAR Wearing the Virginia Tech Logo

NASCAR paid tribute Virginia Tech victims by displaying its logo on the cars during Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 500. NASCAR quickly obtained the logo to pass out to all teams. Director of Series Operations David Finley said, "We'll hand them out to all the teams ASAP," "We are trying to create awareness and exposure to the funds being put together for the victims' families."

I like the idea of NASCAR paying tribute to Virginia Tech victims' families, but I feel displaying the logo is the wrong way to do it. NASCAR could have easily had a moment of silence to honor Virginia Tech victims and their families. I didn't see Major League Baseball (MLB) or the National Hockey League (NHL) using the tragic incident to promote their sport. Personally, I feel NASCAR is using the effort to help boost low ratings. Nate Ryan from USA Today reported "Ratings are down 11% for the first seven Nextel Cup Series races this season..." The article is titled "NASCAR officials refuse to panic as ratings drop". However, I think displaying the Virginia Tech logo may in fact be a sign that NASCAR officials are worried. Hopefully I am wrong.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Home Depot Goes Green

Home Depot is putting its own environmental label, Eco Options,
than 2,500 products, from organic plant food to all-natural insect repellent. Ad Age reports that Home Depot has clearly taken the opportunity to be first to market with a label and is the first major retailer to seize on the surge in consumer concern about greenhouse-gases emissions.

The retailer plans to back the initiative with a national print push, including ads in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and consumer and shelter publications, according to a spokeswoman at Home Depot.

It will interesting to see if this resonates within consumer discussion. Generally, Eco-friendly topics are not the most talked about issues by consumers online. Therefore, I have some tips that I'd give executives over at Home Depot if they want to increase the buzz surrounding Eco Options.

1. Create a blog or sponsor a discussion forum relating to Eco-Friendly discussion
2. Leverage its NASCAR sponsorship to help promote its new ECO Options (i.e. Have Tony Stewart make special guest appearances or set up booths at NASCAR events)
3. Make a special website and encourage consumers to visit it
4. Develop an interactive campaign by encouraging consumers to send in photos or videos of themselves updating their homes using Home Depot ECO Options products
5. Communicate offerings to individuals living a "Green" lifestyle
6. Partner with another "Green" company to help promote Eco-friendly products
7. Create infomercials or mini-videos relating to the environment
8. Expand national print push beyond the Wall Street Journal and NY Times (i.e. place ads in home building media)
9. Communicate benefits of using energy efficient products in homes
10. Reach out and get opinions from key influencers discussing "Eco-friendly" topics related to home building in the blogosphere.

Below is a Brand Association Map highlighting some of the key themes associated with "Eco-Friendly". The map is interesting because it shows the relation between home building and "Eco-friendly" product discussion. Online consumers discussing "Eco-friendly" options in regards to home building largely mention energy efficiency and panels (i.e. solar panels).

You can find out more about Home Depot's Eco Options by visiting Home Depot Eco Options.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Z-List Experiment - Will Ford, Pepsi or T-Mobile Contact Me? How Long Will It Take?

I'm disappointed to say that I haven't heard from Ford or Pepsi at this point. I have clearly stated that I am a customer of theirs. Unfortunately, I am still waiting to hear from them.

I am a huge proponent of Ford. I currently own a 2007 Ford Focus and a 2006 Ford Explorer. Also, I post frequently at Focus Fanatics. I know that Ford monitors the blogosphere for insights. Therefore, I hope they come across my blog or review my posts at Focus Fanatics.

Pepsi has failed to reach out to me also. My wife and I are avid Pepsi drinkers. We've had several positive experiences interacting with Pepsi as well. I wrote about one of those positive experiences in a previous post.

Now I must admit that my wife and I switched phone providers recently. Verizon was originally on my Z-List of companies that I wanted to contact me. However, we are no longer with them. We don't have anything against Verizon, but we were able to get a better plan through T-Mobile. Therefore, I will remove Verizon from the list of companies that I want to contact me. Instead, I will replace it with T-Mobile.

My list is complete for the time being. I do switch brands occasionally depending on where I can find the best deal. My experiment is to be continued. I will may sure to keep everyone up to date on how long it takes me to hear from Ford, Pepsi or T-Mobile.

Make sure to check out Kevin Green's Blog to see how his Z-List Experiment is going.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Anheuser-Busch Improving Bud.TV

Anheuser-Busch(A-B) is adding more bells and whistles to Bud.TV in hopes to lure more visitors. The brewer plans to load on video-sharing capabilities, full-screen video, a desktop notifier application, new programming and a heavy promotional push to boost viewership.

March audience numbers for Bud.TV suggest some sort of change is desperately needed. Bud.TV drew 152,000 unique visitors in March, 40% fewer than February's 253,000 visitors, according to ComScore Media Metrix. A-B executives have said they hope to draw between 2 million and 3 million visitors a month by early next year to the online network, which is costing the brewer somewhere between $30 million and $40 million.

A-B feels part of the reason for a declining audience is due to A-B's age-verification measures -- which force users to supply information from a driver's license or other state-issued identification -- are an obstacle to reaching a mass audience.

A-B VP-Global Media Tony Ponturo said the early content lacked that "wow factor," and Bud.TV would need a hit to boost traffic.

I visited the site briefly. It was easy to sign up. I only had to verify my name, zip code and date-of-birth. Afterwards, a page loaded showing a few mini-shows that were available to watch. I liked some of the mini-shows featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. Personally, I feel A-B should leverage its NASCAR sponsorship by including more NASCAR related stuff on the site. A-B is on the right track by including mini-shows featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. Interestingly, Bud.TV receives a fair amount of website traffic from consumers outside the United States. It may be a good ideal for A-B to promote the site more on an international level.

Bud.TV users come from these countries according to
United States64.4%
United Kingdom1.7%

Source: Ad Age

Bud.TV currently has an Alexa ranking of 64,646 as of April 16, 2007. Traffic volume to the site has dropped considerably since March 2007. Hopefully A-B will find ways to improve traffic visiting the site.

Unfortunately, Bud.TV has not received a lot of buzz among consumers talking online. The graph below shows the amount of discussion online about Bud.TV over the past few months.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

John Edwards' 2008 Presidential Blog

I located John Edwards' presidential blog by simply Googling "2008 Presidential Election". Here is link to John Edwards' Blog. I feel this is a great way for John Edwards to reach out and connect with voters. Additionally, he using the blog to highlight key people supporting his cause (i.e. Oprah Winfrey). I'll take a deeper dive into this topic over the weekend and give all my readers the "lowdown".

I am eager to see if other political candidates have created blogs to connect with voters. I think this really illustrates my point that social media will continue to play a big part in the presidential candidates' strategies to win the election. I'll try to find other candidates' blogs; however, I may not find them all. In the meantime, Feel free to provide me links to other presidential candidates' blogs.

Monday, April 09, 2007

2008 Presidential Election Preliminary Buzz Report

I had my wisdom teeth removed last week. Therefore, I found myself at home surfing the web a lot searching for new campaign information to blog about. I came across an interesting site covering democrats and republicans website traffic. Also, I thought I'd do some research on my own to see who is getting the most buzz among the presidential candidates. I looked candidate discussion online between January 1 , 2007 and April 6, 2007. The results are below.

I wanted to see which party is getting the most buzz. Additionally, I wanted to see which candidates and issues were being talked about the most. The graph below shows a breakout of each parties' candidates. Democratic candidates are receiving the majority of buzz so far.

This next graph shows the percent of discussion that each candidate is receiving. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are receiving the most buzz. Surprisingly, Rudy Giuliani is receiving less than ten percent of candidate discussion online. This came as a shocker to me since I have heard so much about him.

Lastly, I wanted to see which issues were most important to people talking about presidential candidates online. Iraq is by far the most talked about topic among people mentioning candidates. It is followed by taxes and healthcare.

Please feel free to comment on the results or reference other sites which may be useful in my quest to measure the impact on social media in the 2008 presidential elections. I'll make sure to update these charts periodically and note changes.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

P&G Responds to Pet Food Recall; This Is My 100th Posting

I'm very pleased to say that my 100th post will be about a topic that is very important to me. Last week, several pet-food manufacturers issued recalls due to contamination believed to have killed and sickened thousands of pets. The nationwide recall has been extended in recent days to additional manufacturers beyond the original recall of 95 brands by Canada's Menu Foods. This has caused several pet-food companies to respond to the issue quickly.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. recalled some of its Hill's Prescription Diet dry cat food, and Nestle Purina recalled some of its Alpo wet dog food with the affected wheat gluten. Both of those marketers also had some products affected by the original Menu Foods recall. Also, Del Monte Foods on March 31 recalled Jerky Treats and Gravy Train treats for dogs and some Pounce treats for cats. In addition, it pulled some wet dog food and treats it made for private-label brands sold by Wal-Mart Stores and Dollar General.

Personally, my two dogs were not affected by this incident. Therefore, I was unsure about the number of pets the contaminated food affected. Additionally, I wasn't sure about the conditions that the contaminated food had on pets. Therefore, I decided to do some background research.

I've found out that a lot of pet owners are really on top of this issue. Additionally, they are very open to blog about it. I came across one blog at Eternity Captured which highlights brands impacted by the recall. Also, several pet owners have left comments on the site regarding their pets reactions to the food. One pet owner named Mike said the following, "my dog has been throwing up the past two days. I fed him again this morning, and he looked at me like why am I forcing him to eat this food. He knows better than me that his food is poison. What can we do to wake up people to check the recalled brands and stop slowly killing their pets." This issue definitely warrants a lot of concern from pet food manufacturers. Hopefully this incident will lead the FDA to improve government regulations thus making sure pet-food manufactureres produce the highest quality foods for our pets.

P&G took out full-page ads in 59 daily newspapers on April 3, 2007 with a letter from employees of its Iams and Eukanuba brands to reassure pet owners that food remaining on the market is safe. The ad campaign is described as a "first step" by a P&G spokesman. Overall, I'm very impressed P&G's response to the issue. It is very important for a company to be proactive when its customers are having negative experiences with its products.

The following chart shows a trendline of discussion regarding the pet-food recall. Discussion about the issue peaked mid-March 2007. It has lowered since then. However, I feel this is an issue that will not go away anytime soon.

Here are my little furry children, Sam and Gracie.

Source: Ad Age

Friday, April 06, 2007

YouTube Dedicates Space for Videos about Candidates

I came across an interesting article while looking through the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, April 4, 2007. It is titled "New Outlets For Political Junkies." The Wall Street Journal does a wonderful job highlighting the key sites which will have a huge impact in the 2008 presidential election. Additionally, it talks about different ways that candidates will try to engage voters. For example, presidential candidate Barack Obama posted a question on a new Yahoo election portal asking voters how to better engage people in the democratic process. A voter named John Atkins posted a reply: the country should ban lifetime politicians. The article also mentions a variety of contests that social media sites such as YouTube and MySpace will run to increase traffic and promote awareness.

YouTube is dedicating space for videos by and about the various presidential candidates. Also, MySpace announced it will hold a virtual election on Jan. 1-2 and AOL is pulling together bloggers posting about the 2008 elections. YouTube, MySpace and AOL are dedicating a lot effort to the social media aspect of the 2008 presidential election. I think this is a clear indicator that social media will have a huge impact on the 2008 presidential election results.

I like the fact that MySpace will hold a virtual election; however, I question the amount of MySpace users who are actually registered voters. A virtual election on MySpace may not be very accurate due to the low numbers of registered voters between the ages 18 and 24, MySpace's core demographic. Therefore, I feel MySpace should ask a "screening" question to make sure only registered voters are participating. Nonetheless, I will still be interested in seeing the results of a virtual election at MySpace. I feel the 2008 presidential candidates will want to know as well.

2008 presidential candidates must continue to keep a close watch on social media during the upcoming election. Candidates and voters alike will be able to post content (i.e. text, podcast or video) online. Some of it may be good and some of it may be bad. The presidential candidates will need to find ways to minimize the impact of any negative content about them as quickly as possible. Additionally, presidential candidates must continue to find new ways to reach out to voters.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What Would Bronson Arroyo Twitter?

I'm following up to a post at Kevin Green's Blog. Kevin is asking several bloggers to fill in the blank for "What Would ________ Twitter?" I thought I'd respond by saying what Bronson Arroyo would Twitter. Kevin is a proud member of Red Sox nation but I have to remind him that they got the raw end of a bad deal when they traded for Willy Mo Pena. I'm going to list the top ten things that Bronson Arroyo would Twitter.

Well here I go.

10. I struck out 9 Chicago Cubs during my first game of the 2007 season. What did Willy Mo Pena do? What, you can't answer that...exactly...nothing.

9. Theo Epstein isn't the only good GM in major league baseball.

8. I have the one of the best curve balls in baseball.

7. The Red Sox passed up on this "hometown discount."

6. I had almost as many homeruns in 2006 as Willy Mo Pena. I'm a pitcher!

5. I can play a guitar as good as I can pitch a ball.

4. I really can pitch...and my All-Star appearance in 2006 proves it.

3. I like it here in the Nasty Nati'. I'm just another one of the Nasty Boys.

2. The Red Sox haven't been to a World Series since I left. The Patriots haven't been to a Super Bowl either.

1. I'm a proud member of Reds nation. Harang and I will take on Schilling and Dice-K anytime and anywhere.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Finding Consumers to Build Your Ads

The Doritos "Crash the SuperBowl" is being referenced as a turning point in the evolution of consumer generated ads. The popularity of the campaign proved to be a huge success for Doritos. This has led to several companies such as XLNTads to pop-up. XLNTads is a company which helps companies find consumers who want to produce ads. Neil Perry, CEO of XLNTads said, "The average cost of a Super Bowl spot was $350,00" . "Some auto manufacturers spend $600,000 to $650,000 to do a single campaign. We say take that same amount of money, pay $20,000 [for creative], and that leaves you more to reinvest in media, in delivering the message."

XLNTads brings brands and their loyal consumers together for creative collaboration in a very unique way. It gives brands a quick and cost effective way to take advantage of tapping into consumers' knowledge. Also, it is a creative way for marketers to interact with consumers.

The consumer is in control. Time Magazine's Person of the Year: You; Ad Age Agency of the Year: The Consumer. Marketers are on a mission to get closer to their customers. Consumers want to share thoughts and emotions about what a brand means to them. How do you satisfy both needs? Interacting with consumers via Consumer-Generated Advertising (CGA) and monitoring consumers opinions in the blogosphere via Consumer Generated Media (CGM) are two great ways to interact with consumers.

The evolution of marketing is becoming ever changing. Brands can no longer run an ad and expect consumers to flock to stores to by its products. Consumers continue to show interest in interacting with brands they use. They want to use products and provide feedback. Consumers want to be heard. They want to have a say. In essence, they want to live the products or brands they use.

It is very easy for consumers to make videos and post them online. Therefore, it is important for companies to interact with customers. It is much better for a company to interact with consumers in hope that they may create positive video content instead of ignoring customers and having them post negative content about a product or brand.

Ad Age

I came across a pretty neat website, The site shows video clips of 2008 presidential candidates talking about major issues such as Iraq, immigration, healthcare and campaign reform. The website allows voters to submit video links from YouTube which relate to candidates' positions on important issues. Make sure to check out