Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Runner up is the Stove Top Stuffing heated bus shelter promotion in Chicago. It generated tons of media, good will and set Kraft's Stove Top Stuffing apart at the holiday season. Better yet, the sponsored shelters delivered immediate value back to the consumer, in this case warmth! For those of you living in warmer climates, it's perhaps difficult to imagine what it means to step into a heated bus shelter on a day when icy winds blow across Lake Michigan and cut into your skin.
Both brands deliver big on compassion--one of the key trends for marketing in the new year. They are simple, authentic, and just plain delightful. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. (Take my word for it on the delights of the heated bus shelter).
photo courtesy of Zolk
What this hoax demonstrates is that it’s open season on Rod Blagojevich’s reputation. His nothing-to-lose situation is being further amplified across Twitter, one of the world’s most viral social networking platforms.
This behavior is a wake-up call to all politicians hoping to protect their identities. And it's a first-hand example of the wild, wild Web where identity theft is common. To wit, an unscrupulous person can craft an account in your name, use your photo and launch a very public conversation thereby hijacking your brand.
It also poses a question for Twitter. Should it block felonious accounts? If the impostor comes clean in their profile is he/she still breaking the law? Is it a matter of First Amendment rights for the Twit?
Ahh the wild, wild Web.
photo courtesy of Jemima
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I say public libraries and museums need to make a similar case. As we dive deeper into an economy more driven by ideas, our cultural infrastructure will matter. Think of it as the stimulus for experimentation, insight, cross-cultural exchange, community building, lifelong learning and enlightenment.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The good news for quality causes is that marketers are seriously rethinking their sponsorship portfolios. Look for some adjustments that bring cause-marketing (usually only 10% of the budget) and sports marketing (typically over 60% of the budget) more into balance. So while there will be fewer dollars overall in the marketing budget, there will be more parity in how it gets spent. As Mr. Ramos explains:
"One of the reasons for the New Deal's lasting legacy was its principled focus on the well-being of individual and communities. A lesson for brands is that they must demonstrate caring during these difficult times, as well as a steadfast commitment to your values. This is also a ripe time to assess your public affairs initiatives and to test cause-marketing programs."
Sounds like a new deal to me!
Friday, December 26, 2008
A new Harris Poll confirms that Americans still say they love to read for pleasure. It ranked at the top of the list, in fact. As for the classics, neither Harris' research nor mine ever asked people to reveal what they read for pleasure. My hunch is that the NEA had that part right, but it's also a values-laden point of query.
Top 5 Favorite Leisure-Time Activities (% of Respondents, Unaided Responses)
Source: Harris Poll, October 2008
Photo courtesy of Mozida
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
At the holidays, it's especially good for people to have a noble purpose if they're not in a position to consume. But it's worth considering that this shift in consumer attitudes is not so much about making a virtue of necessity as it is a restructuring of values. People are looking for meaning and not finding it in shopping. That phenomenon was set in motion well before the collapse of financial markets.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"We’ve all heard about dumbing down. But there is plenty of evidence that the opposite is also true. Is this, in fact, the age of mass intelligence?"
Reporter John Parker details his observations in a compelling article entitled, "The Age of Mass Intelligence" that leads me to conclude that the RenGen, with its desire to consume and produce ideas, creative work, and information, is not just a U.S. phenomenon.
photo courtesy of McBeth
Monday, December 15, 2008
The report reinforces much of what I discovered in researching RenGen: Renaissance Generation and provides interesting background for marketers looking to enmesh their brands into the new culture that's emerging. To do so, brands will need to weave themselves into the social fabric to avoid being shed.
Based on ethnographic research conducted in October and November in New York City, Baltimore, Miami, San Antonio, Texas and Lexington, Kentucky, the research team plots a five-stage process consumers are undergoing as they struggle through a major cultural transformation. The process explains how they're coping and rebuilding their lives amidst the faltering "American Dream," an essential component that the late Joseph Campbell once identified as American culture's core "organizing mythology." When organizing mythologies are up for revision, it marks a change in the deep order of society.
"This is more than an economic crisis, it's a cultural crisis. As anthropologists, we knew the aftershocks would be far-reaching, so we took to streets, schools, malls and homes to understand the impact," said Dr. Robbie Blinkoff, principal anthropologist on the project and co-founder of Context-Based Research Group.
Most people will undergo a process and emerge with a new consumer identity the researchers call the "Grounded Consumer." The stages are:
Stage 1: The Realization: Goodbye Homo economicus - this is when consumers come to understand how the larger economy intersects with their personal economy and what they need to do to make changes. As part of this stage they're realizing that they are not what they buy. This new thinking forces the revaluation of all purchases.
Stage 2: How Did I Get Here? My Life is Not a Loan - consumers are assessing their situations and realizing it's fatal to live a life on credit. Living below your means is now becoming en vogue.
Stage 3: Creating a New Value Equation: Moving from a "Me" to a "We" Economy - this involves a movement toward emphasizing a new kind of value equation that moves consumers from putting "me" first to putting "we" first. In this equation decisions truly balance rational, emotional, and social needs.
Stage 4: unSTUFFing My Life: Building a New Consumer Toolkit - this is when consumers get practical as they start to remove excess "STUFF" from their lives. They're belt tightening, but still finding ways to obtain gratification, through little luxuries - proclaiming it's time to "trim the fat, not the fun."
Stage 5: Walking the Talk: Putting New Skills into Action - the first four stages lead up to life-altering transformations. The new Grounded Consumer who emerges is ultimately better, smarter and more connected than their predecessors and they realize the road to the achieving the American Dream isn't paved with purchases.
The research was sponsored by Carton Donofrio Advertsing Agency.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
According to Marketing Daily, the competition will be carried out in a bracket-style format with both Scion and marketing executives judging each presentation. Eight schools will be selected from the initial submissions pool in each region to move on to local competitions in Portland, Ore., Kansas City, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Out of those 24 schools, the top three in each region will be chosen to advance to the final competitions in each market with the top three schools in each market competing against each other for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.
Owen Peacock, Scion's national manager of Scion field operations, says the company created the competition to give high school students the experience of putting together a marketing campaign for a major brand. "It shows our dealers in the smaller markets that this is a great opportunity to be a part of the community and enhance local education systems, plus it demonstrates that you do not need to have a nightclub or a major attraction in your market to connect with young buyers," he says.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Starting this fall, the Department of Cultural Affiars will welcome unsigned LA musicians/groups and pay each act for permission to play one original composition on City of LA 311 phone lines. This new program is called Hear in L.A. Each September/October, DCA in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), will review, compile, fund, and promote an annual collection of new songs to showcase promising musical acts for telephone callers while they are on hold with the city's 311 call-center. In order to cross-promote the selected talent, artist headshots and biographies will be posted on the City of LA DCA website.
Monday, December 8, 2008
It will not. The shift underway is profound.
Now automotive sponsors are dropping out of NASCAR. They’re not happy. The good news is NASCAR’s loss is your gain. It leaves room for more modest deals. For all of you wondering how to reach out and make deals happen with car dealers, I advise you to take a page from Peter Bramante in Providence, Rhode Island. Peter struck a deal with Scott VW to sponsor a new event, the Indie Arts Festival. There were three staging areas for vehicles, on-site test drives and a custom promotion around a facial hair contest held in Burnside Park named for the furry General Burnside the namesake for “side burns.” Winners did a victory lap in VW convertibles. Scott VW told Peter they’d be back as a sponsor, having sold three vehicles as a direct result of the deal. They’re happy.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Thanking people is always a good idea. But thanking sponsors has gotten pretty routine. So much so, that it becomes a meaningless soup of logos and names. How can you really make it worthwhile for everyone--audience, sponsors, media? Recently, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers decided to tackle that challenge by producing a film noir trailer to thank the sponsors of its 2008 showcase in Chicago. The show spotlights commercial production and awards excellence in both conventional commercial advertising and new media. With a modest budget and just six weeks to produce something unusual, Foundation Production attacked the challenge of integrating the logos with fierce creativity. The result should inspire you.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The effort, "Con Kleenex, Expresa tu Hispanidad" (With Kleenex, Express Your Hispanic Culture), begins now. Those who enter must include a personal statement about what heritage means to them. Consumers can vote for the three winning entries online, in conjunction with judging from the Kleenex brand managers.
Three grand-prize winners will each receive $5,000, and may have their original designs featured on Kleenex brand upright boxes that will be available in stores nationwide next September and October. Nine finalists will each receive $500.
Kimberly Clark's Kleenex brand seems to understand the power of offering a blank canvas to cultural consumers. And it will be interesting to see if the concept has the same pull as their dramatic "Let It Out" campaign that invited consumers to unburden themselves emotionally (and use Kleenex to mop up.) The campaign was a stand-out example of how to build a compassion brand for these unsettling times.
For a September 2008 study on paper products by Chicago-based marketing firm Mintel, the firm polled 19,378 adults 18 or over. The firm says that younger consumers in its survey are generally less concerned with the quality or performance of their facial tissues, and are willing to buy based solely on brand image (packaging) and reputation. Hence the appeal to aspiring Latino/a artists.
photo by Riot Jane
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
An apprenticeship builds skill and depth of knowledge. By working alongside a master, an apprentice witnesses the way new questions arise and get answered and how work flows creatively into uncharted waters. There is mutual commitment to handing down a way of life.
Over the years, internships have become yet another credential to notch on one's bedpost. American education is bloated with credentialing. But has it created better workers? Has it made a true difference in the quality of work? I see no evidence that it does.
Apprenticeship learning is on the rise. After all, the high cost and long haul of earning a second degree may not deliver the expected transformation in a person's career. Then what? As learning styles evolve away from classic academics and toward experiential learning, apprenticeships will gain more appeal.
Whatever Seth is working on, it's on the leading edge...as usual.
photo courtesy of Ian Sand
Monday, December 1, 2008
Consider the Japanese computer giant NEC, which gets to incorporate the company’s latest technology into a preview event before attendees are taken upstairs to watch a show. Gina Paskins, NEC’s head of marketing and communications, says it’s a perfect schmoozing environment.
The venue has 11 founding partners, each paying more than a £1m for sponsorship rights, and each taking a wholly different approach. BMW is the brand that has positioned itself at the O2’s most exclusive entrance, placing one of its new BMW X6 models on a plinth alongside the sliding doors where artists and VIP ticket holders arrive, before walking along a corridor decorated with the words signifying the brand’s values, such as “exhilaration”, “performance”, and “precision”.
Size and scale matter in these deals. O2 is gigantic. But surely, the ability to place one's brand into a cultural venue that gives the consumer a context that is emotionally relevant is every bit as valuable as the number of impressions.