Thursday, January 31, 2008

Target Shuns Bloggers

I just came across an article at the New York Times about Target telling a blogger to go away.

The author, Michael Barbaro, opens the article by saying, "Target to the blogosphere: you’re irrelevant." Apparently, Target conveyed a negative messages to, a blog about the impact of marketing on children earlier this month. The blog’s founder, Amy Jussel, called Target, complaining about a new advertising campaign that depicted a woman splayed across a big target pattern — the retailer’s emblem — with the bull’s-eye at her crotch.

Target offered an e-mail response:
“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth.

“This practice,” the public relations person added, “is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest,” as Target refers to its shoppers.

The buzz graph below highlights recent buzz patterns for Target, Wal-Mart and Sears. Overall, buzz for all three retailers is trending down over the past two months or so. Target does have a slight increase in buzz around the end of January 2008 which may be associated with the New Times article about it telling a blogger that they are not important.

Unfortunately, I will have to disagree with Target, which may not feel that bloggers are important. The blogosphere is becoming an highly resourceful place where consumers go to find information about companies, products and services. Also, many consumers seek advice and recommendations from other consumers online before purchasing products from some companies. Target may want to "re-think" its position regarding the importance of bloggers. Personally, I feel Target may be better off it bloggers are speaking positively about its brand, especially those who shop at Target.

Skyfire Mobile Browser

The new Skyfire Mobile Browser may be of interest to those using internet on their mobile devices.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Subway Referee Commercial

This commercial is so great! Subway should have saved this one for the Super Bowl. This commercial posted to YouTube on January 12, 2007 and has 82 comments. Interestingly, most of the comments about this commercial have been posted in the past month. I wonder if that may be due to the amount of negative buzz surrounding the officiating of the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts. The San Diego Chargers had to beat the Indianapolis and the referees in that game.

YouTube Stats:
Video Posted: January 12, 2007
# of Views: 102,316
Favorited: 663 times
Rating (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

Video data collected on Wednesday, January 30, 2008.

Marketers Can Learn from Bill Belichick

Josephy Frydl at Advertising Age feels that marketers can learn from Bill Belichick by following three principles which have helped lead him to three Super Bowl victories thus far. And those three principles are Discipline, Imagination and Respect.

Now I'm not a New England Patriots fan, but I do think there is some truth behind what Frydl believes. Frydl says, "Most marketers always punt the ball away on the fourth down -- even in the face of analysis that says going for it makes more sense." And sometimes you should go for it, especially if your already past the 50-yard line.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

LifeLock Comes to the Rescue

My wife and I recently received calls and letters regarding accounts that we have not requested to be opened. Fortunately, we have been signed up with a company called LifeLock which protects our identity. Overall, I would have to say the LifeLock has been a blessing in disguise and I highly encourage others use its services, or those offered by a similar company.

I am happy to say that the applications for credit did not go through, so being pro-active about protecting our identity has definitely paid off thus far. There are a lot of people who do not take measures to protect themselves until after they are victims of fraud and identity theft.

I do have three items of advice for consumers looking to protect their identities:

1. Check your credit reports at least once every 90 days. The three main credit bureaus are Experian, Trans Union and Equifax.
2. File a police report as soon as you find out you may be a victim of fraud and/or identity theft.
3. Closely monitor your credit reports.

Now this is a marketing blog. And I'm sure everyone has seen the commercials featuring the social security number of LifeLock's CEO, Todd Davis. Indeed, those are somewhat memorable. Personally, I find LifeLock's commercials easy to understand and quick to the point. The message is simple: Get LifeLock to protect your identity.

And while I speak highly of LifeLock's television commercials, PR strategy (i.e being featured on the NBC News Today Show and its services, I feel LifeLock could truly benefit from a really good social media campaign. I have several suggestions which LifeLock may want to consider if they want to improve customer service and awareness.

First, LifeLock should take advantage of social media by setting up a corporate blog covering issues and topics relevant to identity theft. Many consumers are constantly seeking information about identity theft and how to prevent it. A corporate blog would provide an excellent platform for LifeLock to communicate with consumers online.

Second, the CEO, Todd Davis, could post quarterly infomercials on its website and video content sites such as YouTube to get information out to consumers. Many CEO's are finding YouTube to be the ultimate place to reach out to consumers.

Third, LifeLock really needs to incorporate a good "Live Chat" function on its website. It may already have "Live Chat" features in place, but they are hard to find. A "Live Chat" feature should be readily visible. An alternative to providing a link may be to have customer service representatives (CSR's) monitor consumers visiting LifeLock's website. The CSR's could initiate discussion by having a "Live Chat" dialogue box pop-up on a consumers computer if they have been on LifeLock's site for an extended period of time. Some financial institutions currently do this. Bank of America comes to mind in this instance.

Below is a graph highlight discussion about Fraud, Identity Theft and LifeLock over the past 2 months. As you can see, discussion about Fraud and Identity Theft on consumers blogs is on the rise.

Note: The trend graph does not include discussion about Fraud and Identity Theft on discussion boards or Usenet Groups.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Financial Crisis Means Banks Must Communicate Better

I came across an interesting post at Advertising Age titled, "How Banks Can Boost Image in Chaotic Times."

In a nutshell, the article states that financial instutions will have to take bold actions that exceed expectations, communicate effectivley and be managed efficiently. Additionally, banks will have to find new ways to add value during these difficult times.

I feel the author, Tom Agan, is correct in his assessment that banks will have to communicate more effectively. In fact, banks that communicate effectively should be able to ride out the current crisis affecting our financial markets. However, banks that fail to communicate effectively will only find themselves in more trouble.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Top Ten NFL Teams Discussed Online in 2007 --- Just-in-Time for the Super Bowl

Below is a list of the top 10 Most-Discussed NFL Teams in 2007. Key drivers of each teams' discussion are provided.

Top Discussion Drivers of 2007

1. New England Patriots
Spying scandal, undefeated regular season

2. Dallas Cowboys
NFL Network coverage of Dallas Cowboys vs.Green Bay Packers game on 11/29/2007, Terrell Owens blaming QB Tony Romo's girlfriend Jessica Simpson for loss

3. Chicago Bears
Defeated in Super Bowl XLI by the Indianapolis Colts

4. Miami Dolphins
1-15 record in 2007, played in Wembley Stadium in the UK on 10/28/2007

5. Indianapolis Colts
Champions of Super Bowl XLI, lost to the New England Patriots in Week 9

6. Washington Redskins
Murder of player Sean Taylor

7. Green Bay Packers
NFL Network coverage of Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers game on 11/29/2007

8. Pittsburgh Steelers
Player Anthony Smith guarantees a win against |the New England Patriots

9. Atlanta Falcons
Michael Vick's legal problems with dog fighting, coach Bobby Petrino leaving

10. Cleveland Brown
A surprisingly successful season for the Browns

Source: Nielsen Online

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pepsi Going Silent for the Super Bowl

Nationwide Insurance released information about its Super Bowl commercial featuring Kevin Federline early last year. And that commercial was considered very successful. It looks like Pepsi will be taking a similar approach.

Personally, I like the concept of Pepsi running a silent ad but I do not feel releasing information early is a good idea simply because Pepsi loses the element of surprise. I understand that Nationwide Insurance capitalized on releasing early previews about its Super Bowl commercial last year but running a silent ad successfully requires a different approach. It requires the silent approach.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Breaking Apple News: Ultra-Portable Details reports that an Apple insider that the company's new ultraportable, expected to be seen in public for the first time tomorrow, has an extremely thin profile and is shaped like a teardrop when closed — thicker at the top behind the screen, tapering at the bottom behind the keyboard.

Personally, I do not own any Apple/Mac products but everyone I know (i.e. co-workers and my little brother) says they are really good. I will definitely look into a Mac when I purchase my next computer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pepsi Partners with Amazon for Biggest Promo Ever

Pepsi Stuff and Amazon are partnering by debuting a new promo at the SuperBowl. It is supposedly Pepsi Stuff’s biggest promo ever. Additionally, it looks like Sony is joining in on the party. Krisen Nicole at Mashable, a social networking news site, says, "It sounds like a good way to help substantiate the suffering music industry, especially as so many aspects of the old media model find that giving away the content for free could also help bring in the advertising dollars. While mp3s may not go this particular route in the next few months, this promotional deal is important for Amazon as it brings a great deal of attention to the recently launched mp3 store, which is already battling iTunes in a price war."

Overall, I think it is pretty "cool" to see Sony, Pepsi and Amazon working together, but only time will tell. Pepsi may actually benefit the most by receiving an increase in online buzz as a result of being brought up with Sony and Amazon (see buzz graph below).

Victoria's Secret Will Run a Super Bowl Ad

The fact that Victoria's Secret will run a Super Bowl Ad will only mean good things for football fans. Really, I'm glad to see Victoria's Secret get back in the big game! Also, I'm glad to see Victoria's Secret going beyond simply running a Super Bowl commercial.

To coincide with the Super Bowl push, Victoria's Secret has also shifted the release of its "What Is Sexy?" list, which used to come out in May. Now the 3-year-old list will be revealed on the eve of the Super Bowl at a party in Scottsdale, Ariz. A one-hour E! special is also slated to run Feb. 9. The special, which will be hosted by Ms. Lima, will feature the "What Is Sexy?" list, as well as video from the Super Bowl party.

Overall, I like Victoria Secret's marketing iniatives, however, I will be interested to see if they are targeting a particular demograpic. Viewing Victoria Secret's website data via
Quantcast reveals that women of Hispanic and Asian backgrounds tend to visit its website more than Caucasion and African American women. Therefore, any online component of Victoria Secret's marketing initiatives should target both Hispanic and Asian women.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Marketers Shift Focus to Communicate with Consumers Online

Advertising Age has an interesting post illustrating how marketers are beginning to use social media as an opportunity to create dialogue with consumers. Interestingly, this article directly reflects some of the information I'm reading in Beyond Buzz by Lois Kelly.

In a nutshell, Kelly highlights the importance marketers to listen and act on consumers concerns. Additionally, she stresses the importance of engaging in online discussion with consumers.

Many marketers complain that it is impossible to control what is being said about them. However, marketers can join in on the conversation. Many brands such as Haagen-Dazs, Doritos and Heinz are engaging consumers to participate by supplying marketing ideas and themes.

Overall, I feel Doritos has probably doing the best job, although I'm not to crazy about their new 2008 Super Bowl contest where they are seeking new music talent. I thought the 2007 Super Bowl contest allowing consumers to submit potential Super Bowl commercials was a much better approach given that the Super Bowl is a primetime event for brands to show their marketing genius.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I managed to actually get out and see a movie over the holidays when I visited a local theater to see "I AM LEGEND," Will Smith's new version of the classic ''last man on Earth'' tale once filmed as ''The Omega Man.''

Now I'm not going to discuss movie details or my thoughts about the movie itself. You can visit The Morning Call if you want details about the movie. However, I do want to talk about Ford's product placement strategy within the movie.

The opening scene shows Will Smith (aka Lt. Col. Robert Neville) driving in a Shelby Mustang Cobra while hunting for food. Later, he is seen driving around in a Ford Explorer while another character is driving a Ford Escape.

I understand that Lt. Col. Robert Neville is driving in a Shelby Mustang Cobra to hunt because it is a fast vehicle. Also, the Ford Explorer is portrayed wonderfully as a rough and rugged vehicle that can be driven in different types of terrains. However, I'm not sure why Ford didn't use the movie to highlight some of its "Green" efforts in terms of showcasing better fuel economy.

Lt. Col. Robert Neville plays the role of the "last man on earth." Neville lives in a fortified townhouse, locked in against the terrors of the night. By day, he scavenges for food that hasn't passed its expiration date. Given the scarcity of resources (i.e. fuel and food), I think Ford could have used the product placement opportunity to highlight some of its more environmentally friendly efforts or showcase fuel economy in some of its vehicles (i.e. Ford Focus or Ford Escape Hybrid). For instance, Lt. Col. Robert Neville could been in a scene were he was filling-up the tank of a Ford Escape Hybrid with the camera focusing on its hybrid badge. Additionally, Neville could have made subtle mention about thankfully having enough fuel left during crucial situation (i.e. being chased by "the Dark Seekers").

Overall, I like Ford's decision to place some of its vehicles in the movie. I think it is an excellent follow-up to GM's decision to feature its vehicles in Transformers: The Movie during summer 2007. Also, I'm looking forward to seeing the new Bullit movie featuring the Ford Mustang in 2008. However, I do feel that car manufacturers, including Ford, need to stress the importance of fuel economy and highlight their environmental friendly efforts via product placement, especially with consumers' concerns over rising fuel costs.

Product placement should go beyond simply getting a product or brand name in front of the camera. Companies such as Ford that wish to engage in product placement need to take the opportunity to send a message to consumers telling them what their company and products are about.

I do not want people reading this post to think that I am againt Ford since that would be an incorrect assumption. In fact, I am the proud owner of a 2007 Ford Focus and a 2006 Ford Explorer. However, I do want to give my opinion about Ford's marketing strategies. I'm not sure whether my opinion may be of value to anyone but it is my opinion. Also, Ford is spending a lot of money on innovation and improving fuel efficiency. You can find out more about Ford's green efforts at Ford Greener Miles Environmentally Friendly Vehicle Innovate site.