Tag Archives: Business & marketing

Year of Glad

Let this be a warning to marketing reserach groups that run focus groups, and to the companies that hire them: the people you target are onto you:

In one group for Johnnie Walker Black, it was obvious the marketers wanted us to consider their beverage upscale, for special occasions. Recognizing this, I made up a story about learning my best friend was engaged and telling him, “It’s Johnnie Walker time!” The interviewer looked like he wanted to hug me.

Not surprisingly, after the piece referenced above was published, many market research companies expressed alarm. More precisely, they began screaming that all good things in the world are coming to an end:

“It is critical to the survey and opinion research profession that legitimate respondents be utilized in the research process,” said MRA Executive Director, Larry Hadcock. “Billions of dollars are expended annually based upon the outcome of survey and opinion research. To suggest ways to sabotage this process puts countless businesses that are critical to the US economy in jeopardy.”

Note to Mr. Hadcock and to all marketing research firms: It doesn’t help to shoot the messenger.

Related reading: “Mr. Squishy,” the first story in David Foster Wallace’s new collection, Oblivion. (The story was first published under a pseudonym in McSweeney’s #5. I’m still wondering about that: Why should DFW publish a story under another name? It was so obviously his story, so clearly written in his style, that it had to be him. Actually, it is so much in his style that it’s almost a parody of a DFW story. Accordingly, one can know before even reading the first sentence whether one will like it.)

(Thanks to Lindsayism for the article links.)

News flash: People would watch your TV spot if it were interesting

Recent surveys indicate that, despite advertisers fears of having their TV spots skipped over, users of digital video recorders (DVRs, like TiVo) pay attention to ads they are fast-forwarding past.

More than twice as many survey respondents said they always notice commercials while fast-forwarding than those who say they never notice (15 percent compared to 7 percent). This comes as good news for advertisers who are concerned that TV viewers will eliminate commercials with the push of a button.

“People are still getting exposure [to ads] but they’re doing what they want with it,” said Lee Smith, president and CEO of InsightExpress.

Smith added that even though viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials, there is still some recognition and they are more likely to watch a commercial they haven’t seen before. The survey found that 54 percent of DVR users have rewound or paused television commercials to better understand the advertised product and 37 percent would welcome the opportunity to request additional product information via their DVR.

(Link via MarketingVOX.)

And now a word from our sponsor

As you will have noticed, I have added advertisements to My Brilliant Mistakes. It’s an experiment: I’m curious whether any revenue will result. But I find I’m now more interested to see what ads Google selects to display. As they describe the service:

Google uses search-based technologies to match advertisements to the content and context of web pages – so the ads you see are related to the information you are viewing. The ads come from Google’s base of more than 100,000 AdWords advertisers. These advertisers range from global brand name companies to small local businesses.

By the time you read this the ads will probably change, but at the moment most of them are promoting tools for and altenatives to dissection. Of all the content and context of this site — dozens of posts on marketing, advertising, writing and publishing, alcohol, iPods — Google has chosen today to focus on a single post about cutting up a virtual frog.

One ad is for gifts cards for Red Lobster restaurant. I can’t even guess what triggered that.

I’m hoping to get ads for fur sinks next.

You have less than two months to come up with something amazing

Aspiring advertisers and those with creativity to burn, take note: Maisonneuve Magazine has announced the Digital Curiosity competition, a chance to win fame (if not fortune).

WHAT: The sweetest commercial competition around
WHO: Americans and Canadians
WHERE: Maisonneuve Magazine
WHEN: Deadline for entry July 5, 2004
HOW: Visit the quick registration page and download your entry kit today!

Breaking into the advertising industry is tough. Once you are in the commercial-making business, things do not get any easier. No matter the medium, client, concept or budget, there are always too many people to please. But the best keep trying.

Digital Curiosity is your chance to compete for public recognition of your creativity in animation or filmmaking. Maisonneuve Magazine is looking for up-and-coming animators, short-film filmmakers, video experts, ad grunts or folks with too much time on their hands, from the US and Canada, to help us show the world what this ECLECTIC CURIOSITY business is. Maisonneuve Magazine wants you to create its first ever animated or live-action commercial.

Eclectic Curiosity is what makes Maisonneuve different from other magazines. Maisonneuve is committed to showcasing a remarkably broad cross-section of life. Our goal is to synthesize disparate ideas and sources into something that is uniformly curious, eclectic, informative and entertaining itself. So to compete all you have to do is make a 120-second finished commercial about what you believe is eclectic curiosity, using any style (animation, stop motion, claymation, live action or Flash). To make it easier for you, Maisonneuve has pre-licensed an entire library of music from a custom music producer called MusicBox. It’s free for your use!

They still remind me of little clown cars

Have you seen the booklets that pretend to be reports about a British engineer who makes robots out of Mini Cooper car parts? A friend gave me one yesterday, and coincidentally today the the fictional engineer’s project site
the fictional engineer’s other site
the fictional reporter’s site
the fictional publisher’s site
a site listing “sightings” of the robots

Several thoughts:

1) I can’t believe that anyone would believe, even for a second, that this stuff is real. No one is that gullible. I remember when The Blair Witch Project first came out, someone at work showing me the site and all of us talking about whether it might be true, and yet this has none of that vibe for me. Perhaps it’s because I noticed the Mini Cooper references in the booklet early on, and knowing what that product’s marketing has been like in the past I could see that it had to be part of an unusual marketing campaign. Or perhaps it’s because giant, walking robots made of car parts are just basically too improbable and silly. In either case, I’m pretty sure that the ad company is inventing not only the robot story, but also the stories of the people who are not sure whether it’s advertising.

2) I think it’s kind of a lame campaign. How do pretend giant robots increase the appeal of little, overengineered cars? But maybe I don’t get it because it’s not aimed at me. Apparently the goal is to improve the Mini Cooper’s image among men ages 18-34. I think it’s going to turn women off — but maybe BMW has decided that’s OK, that they need to aim the car at a different market than what it has served so far.

(NYT article link via AdRants.)

Trademarking for the other four senses

brandchannel.com looks at the history of trademarks and highlights the difficulties of “Trademarking Sounds, Sights, Smells and Touch”:

The representation of nontraditional marks remains a problem to this day. According to Allan Poulter, a partner in the British law firm of Field Fisher Waterhouse, “There have been a number of decisions of the European Court of Justice over the past year or so that have considered the registrability of non-visual marks. Generally, these decisions have accepted that, in principle, these types of mark can be registered — in that they may be capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of another. However, where the applications have faltered is in the attempt to satisfy the requirement of the graphic representation of the mark.”

Many nontraditional trademarks end up being adopted or accepted by the public well before the laws of the country concerned are amended to give specific protection to the new forms. For example, Coca-Cola, which first bottled its soft drink in 1894, began using its distinctive fluted-and-bulging bottle design in 1915. But it was not until 1960 that the company succeeded in registering the design as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

There have, however, been relaxations in the requirements for registering nontraditional marks. In the US, applications for sound and scent marks no longer need to be accompanied by a drawing. In the United Kingdom trademarks have now been granted for