I am disheartened by GM’s new adverting campaign. And the fact that they even have one.

Oh, you say you didn’t know that GM was advertising again with your money? Exactly.

But putting aside the “taxpayer money” piece… what could the company possibly know yet that’s different from what it’s been saying (not doing, necessarily, but saying) for years? “We’re starting over, we hear you, we’re building ’em small, we’re going green, we’re gonna be competitive on a global scale.”

The company’s been bankrupt for 20 minutes. No one’s ever run or worked for or invested in a bankrupt GM. Why not take a breath and think about the very first words you want the American public to hear from you?

But instead the company moved forward with ads that were obviously made prior to the bankruptcy announcement. They already knew what they were supposed to say (see above rebirth, small, green, etc.), so they put some ads out there and paid Donny Deustch a bunch of money to go on Morning Joe and say great things… just as they might have done for any big new happening.

And there’s the rub. This advertising – who knows, maybe any advertising right now – IMHO says “business as usual” for this car company. With a tinge of humility (see hockey player land on his face), it’s all good feelings and autos and rah-rah.

In World War II, auto plants retooled to make planes, tanks and munitions. Michael Moore has said that “the only way to save GM is to kill GM” and that the U.S. must seize this moment in history to re-envision the corporation on nearly the same scale.

Whatever one thinks of Michael Moore, I believe we can all agree that radical change is in order. And maybe GM will shine once again in some new incarnation. I hope so. But by instantly and reflexively pushing out the standard flag-waving, sun-rising, children-playing advertising, GM has sent that first all-important signal to the marketplace: and it looks eerily like the old one.

snuggie-stephanie-fierman.jpgI first noticed the Snuggie on television in December.  I first voiced my aversion to the Snuggie soon after.

Since then, several people who know I have blogs have asked me why I haven’t written a post about the marketing phenom that is the Snuggie.  The question is usually asked in a mocking tone, accompanied by a broad smile.  I believe these people are disturbed and that they do not care about me or anything that is good and right with the world.

But there is only one way to silence the masses.  Here now is the only public comment I shall ever utter regarding the dreaded Snuggie.  So you might want to lean in.

What’s a snuggie?  It’s this weird, shapeless fleece thing that looks like a big bathrobe put on backwards.  Is it a blanket?  Is it fashion?  Perhaps a fanklet?  I think not.  It comes in royal blue, baby puke green and a red that, in the TV commercial, makes the senior citizen wearing it look like the Pope.  I mean, this thing is fugly.

The commercial shows people wearing it inside while reading, eating, talking on the phone… and that was bad enough.  Now a New York Times Styles (!) reporter has taken the thing out for a spin – ice skating, riding the subway and going to a bar in Brooklyn.  The reporter says that he received a positive reception from most people.  I believe that is because we have all been taught to smile and be nice to crazy people in public.  A number of readers commented on his story:  click here and find a comment dated 3-2-09 from  “Hotpants Malone” that’s my all-time favorite.

Worse yet, the thing is so goofy that it is now “invading American bars,” as it has become fashionable for people to wear their Snuggies on pub crawls!  This could actually make sense, given that a crawl is a group of people, all stone-cold drunk, who could use the fleece as a cushion when they fall off the curb.

What is semi-interesting is that nary a Snuggie story has mentioned the product’s manufacturer, Allstar Marketing Group, who is running $10 million worth of DRTV for the product.  But hey: maybe Allstar thought it needed a fast start out of the gate, given that the “slanket” was in the gross-reverse-bathrobe category first… and pulled in $4 million in 2008 alone. 

pet-rock-stephanie-fierman.jpgAnd I do believe the Snuggie may be the pet rock of this generation, and that little piece of genius made its creator the equivalent of $56 million in today’s dollars in less than one year.

So who’s fleecing whom?? Get it?  “Fleecing?” Whooeee!  I’m hilarious!

Now do not ever mention the product which shall remain (Snuggie!) nameless to me again, and I’m sure we’ll all get along just fine.

P.S. I now use a photo of Bill Maher wearing a Snuggie on his TV show as my cell phone wallpaper.  Does that mean I have fallen under the Snuggie spell?  Sue me.

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For more of my writing, please check out my second blog,
Stephanie Fierman – Marketing Observations Grown DailyThank you!

The year is 1978. Disco, clubs, those long sparkly gold and silver scarves a bunch of us wore around our necks trying to look/be cool. Christie Brinkley was the model of the day and Billy Joel’s 52nd Street was the #1 album of the year – Big Shot was the anthem of the wild New York coked-up beauty queen. My contemporary, Brooke Shields, played a 12-year-old prostitute in Pretty Baby. Star Wars had come out the year before and the idea that Times Square would someday look like Disneyworld would have been preposterous.

I was young, but just old enough to realize boys existed and that there might something remotely interesting going on there. Rod Stewart’s cheesy disco song Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? moved me. I had absolutely no clue why, but it did. Big time. I suspect that you have a few embarrassing yet sacred songs like this one, even though you’d never admit it.

So last night I hear the song coming from my TV and look up from the newspaper to see a huge claymation Chips Ahoy cookie singing “If ya want my body, and ya think I’m sexy, come on sugar let me know/If you really need me just reach out and touch me…” to a blonde female claymation figure sitting on (the bachelor cookie’s) couch looking – uh – hungry. Here’s the ad:



I was – plundered. Horrified. I mean, I’d seen Bob Dylan shilling for Victoria’s Secret and heard the resulting cries of angst but it hadn’t affected me: wrong coming-of-age decade. But now, Nabisco had taken my delicate young girl memories and, and, turned them into a chocolate chip cookie! Have they no shame? Will marketing people stop at nothing??

And the commercial most certainly did not make me want a cookie!


My friends and I sometimes get a good laugh out of trying to picture the client/agency meeting that spawned an idea. Picture it: you are the cookie brand/category manager at Nabisco and someone suggests Da Ya Think I’m Sexy for Chips Ahoy. What. Goes. Through. Your. Mind?


Oh well. I’ll be ok. But if anyone uses Yvonne Elliman’s If I Can’t Have You to sell a candy bar, I’m a goner.


P.S. Oh. My. G-d. At this very moment, Meatleaf is singing a version of Paradise by the Dashboard Light (1977) in a TV ad for the AT&T GoPhone. Except this time, it’s Paradise By the GoPhone Light. I have to go lay down.


BlogHer and Compass Partners have just released what may be the first significant study of women and social media.  FYI, in case you are not aware, BlogHer is a network founded by three female bloggers in 2005. Today, it is backed by Venrock and boasts 1,500 contextual ad-targeted blogs created by women. Yours truly posts pieces from this blog as well as http://www.stephaniefiermanmarketingdaily.blogspot.com to BlogHer on an increasingly-regular basis.

So back to the study…


BlogHer/Compass Partners surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 1,250 female Internet users plus 5,000 visitors to BlogHer. What they found is notable in sheer numbers, passion and experience:


* 36.2 million women actively participate in the blogsophere every week. 15.1 million do so by publishing (and reading/commenting) and 21.1 million (just) read and comment on blogs.


* 44% of female blog publishers maintain one blog and the remaining 56% write two or more. 56% have been writing for 2 years or less – I was surprised that this number was so low.  27% have been writing at least one blog for more than 3 years. Was “blog” even in my daily vocabulary 3 years ago?


* Women are so passionate about blogging that many say they would give something up rather than surrender their blogs, with 50% saying they would sacrifice their PDAs and 43% willing to stop reading newspapers or magazines to maintain their bloggy existences. They’d have to give up something, for sure, because 55% of blog publishers write and 56% of readers do so on 2 or more days each week. It helped to discover that only 20% are willing to give up chocolate (so at least we’re not all crazy…).

In the general Internet sample, 24% say they are watching less television, 25% are reading fewer magazines and 22% are reading fewer newspapers because they are so absorbed by the blog world. As would be expected, these numbers are higher for BlogHer members because they are significantly younger than those in the general sample (68% to 42% concentrated in the 25-41 age group, respectively). More than 50% consider blogs a reliable source of advice and information and claim that blogs influence their purchase decisions.


So what does it all mean?  Here are some conclusions and tips, plus what I see as a few gaps in the data:


* Me being me, I need to first point out the riskiness in considering blogs to be reliable sources of advice and information. Since I know that you’ve giving up everything else to read my blog… one need only point to my own experiences, the Obama-as-terrorist tale and the JuicyCampus disaster. What I would like to know: what percentage of readers seek to confirm a piece of information they’ve read on a blog from additional news sources (blogs and non-blogs)? How do you determine that a blog is trustworthy?


* This study would certainly imply that any party with a message to disseminate should consider blogging. What I would like to know: how closely do these opinions align to those of men? And does this trust extend only to blogs written by women “like me,” or does it extend to corporate/institutional blogs, as well?

* The time-shifting aspect of the study is fascinating and enough to get anyone’s attention. What I would like to know: what kinds of television programming, magazines and newspapers are women willing to swap out? Are they giving up hard news, or are blogs replacing pop culture information sources?


* 38% of blog publishers and 29% of blog readers say that blogs have influenced their decision to purchase goods or services. What I’d like to know: are there particular goods or services that appear to be discussed more/most on blogs? Are there any patterns we can discern as to the characteristics (e.g. complexity) of goods and services most discussed on blogs? If I’m the CMO of one of these widget companies, what is it about non-blog sources of information that I might be able to improve, and how can I build credibility in the blog universe?


* By design, the study specifically confirms that women trust blogs at a fairly high rate so, as a marketer, I’d think hard about how to leverage this phenomenon in other ways. For example, I’d consider companies that recruit female consumers to personally talk up products to other girls/women (such as Mr. Youth, Alloy and P&G’s Tremor).

And lastly, the #1 reason that female bloggers (65%) say they blog is for fun. 60% say they do so to express themselves and 40% to connect with “others like me.” In other words – even in this new and blogerrific world – it’s about them, not us. Marketers who make a connection that feels personal relevant for a female consumer are the ones that succeed. Those that don’t? We’ll be reading about them in the blogosphere…

If I’m just not writing enough to suit you, please check out my new *daily* blog at http://www.stephaniefiermanmarketingdaily.com.

An article posted today on CNN is horrifying – but not surprising, at least not to readers of this blog.

Juicycampus.com (which at the time of this writing is at the URL of the same name) is a well-trafficked online destination on the campuses of nearly 60 colleges in the US.  A little digging reveals that a number of posts have been viewed “hundreds and even thousands” of times.

Juicycampus.com is a site where anyone can say anything about anyone anonymously, and they do. Boy do they ever. Racism, sexism, religious discrimination and homophobia run rampant on the site, as do specific anonymous accusations targeting individual students regarding their behavior in and out of class, their sexual habits, etc. A Loyola student openly threatened to shoot up the campus, encouraged by the site’s free-for-all environment. The site has proven so “poisonous” there have been calls to have it taken down.

Others have tried to take legal action. Two Yale Law students are pursuing autoAdmit.com – an online discussion forum for those applying to law school – for what they say are libelous comments added to the site in 2006 and 2007.

Good luck. Under U.S. law, sites generally bear no responsibility for what users post, and content is protected as free speech. Juicycampus.com goes so far as to direct users to free online services that cloak IP addresses, so one’s comments can never be tracked back. Its privacy policy explains that the site logs users’ IP addresses but does not associate them with specific posts. This policy is out of the mainstream but perfectly permissable and legal.

In other words: if you write a letter or sue – and therefore are willing to draw even more attention to a problematic situation than the original content did – a Court may be literally unable to force a site to reveal the identity of a poster even if it wanted to do so.

The article says that many schools consider the site to be “poisonous” and that students are worried about the effect the site might have on their job prospects. They should be. According to Execunet, 77% of recruiters use search engines to find out about job candidates, and 35% have eliminated a candidate based on information found on the web. And a useful working assumption is that – unless the content is removed from the site – it will be searchable (and findable) forever.

This topic gets Marketing Mojo worked up, as readers well know – particularly because there are things every person can do to proactively build his or her own “personal brand” reputation online. Doing so not only communicates your authentic story to the world, but – if negative content should appear – will act as a crucial counterpoint that, nurtured properly and over a long period of time, can and will prevail.

I was recently invited by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC.com) to write a piece on this topic. The article is available only to IABC members. Below is the article in its entirety, available outside the IABC only to Marketing Mojo readers.


BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND ONLINE
by Stephanie Fierman

Low Trust Sets The Stage
It would not surprise you to know that we are operating in a low-trust world, and that both companies and individual executives are vulnerable. In 2005, a worldwide Gallup poll found that 40% of people believe company leaders are “largely dishonest,” and a 2006 WatsonWyatt study says that only 56% of company employees believe their top management acts with honesty and integrity.

These are worrisome figures, given that senior executives worry a great deal about their companies’ reputations but may spend little time on their own. I, for one, am a highly-educated and successful Chief Marketing Officer, known for delivering stellar results for Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Time Warner and others. I figured my “rep” would take care of itself, and this non-strategy worked for nearly 20 years. Then an industry gossip blogger decided to make me his latest meal, and turned lies and innuendo into what became the top Google search results for my name. For months, I took what I thought was the high road and did nothing. Everyone who knew me said to ignore the Internet’s equivalent of “graffiti on a bathroom wall.” So I did. But when I began to get questions about this “graffiti,” I realized I was wrong.

The New High Road
The Internet has changed reputation management forever. Where information used to flow slowly and in one direction (that is, from “us” to “them”), we now live in an age where anyone with an Internet connection can post anything they like, and that information will be available on millions of screens in an instant. And not only can truth be a mere afterthought, but the Google algorithm actually rewards popularity – so the more sensational the information, the better.

Changed rules means a changed game. Anyone with an interested constituency – whether it be shareholders, employers, competitors, an exclusive pre-school you’re just dying to get your toddler into or a even potential date – must take control of his or her own reputation online. Because if you’re not offering up honest, straight-forward information about yourself, you not only do yourself a disservice but you’re also depriving these audiences of an authentic picture of who you are and what you stand for. Speaking out IS “the new high road.”

10 Tips for Building Your Reputation Online
Like any blood sport, building your online reputation is a combination of offense and defense. Offense is the best way to go: build up content about yourself before you are put in a position to have to respond to negative and/or untrue information. Here are some key steps you can take now:

1. Monitor your online reputation. Create alerts at Google and Yahoo so the search engines will send you an email whenever new content has appeared that includes your name. Additionally, use RSS to sign up for subscriptions to sites that are most likely to mention you.

2. Create a blog (or a frequently updated and optimized website). Post to the blog religiously: at least once a week.

3. Videos get high search engine rankings. If you speak at an event, or can make a presentation, have it filmed and posted on YouTube. Make sure your name is part of the video’s title.

4. Ask allies and partners to post content about you on their own websites, and consider becoming a regular contributor to someone else’s website (e.g. an industry news site). Your byline will be picked up by the search engines.

5. Consider creating multiple sites if you have enough information to divide into several topics.

6. Maintain a friendly and frequent presence on industry blogs and message boards: you most certainly have something to add that will enrich the conversation. Plus, you are more likely to be welcomed into such a forum if there comes a time when you do wish to respond to something that’s been posted about you.

If inaccurate or troublesome information is posted to the Web and you or your representatives are free to respond (e.g. you are not in an SEC quiet period or your counsel advises restraint), here’s how:

7. Analyze the content and its source. Make a determination as to whether you feel the need to respond immediately or prefer to monitor the situation.

8. Build up content. Proactively create or add content to your own website and make sure it is search-engine-friendly: consumers are more likely to use search engines first in a crisis, before they go to your website for “your” side of the story.

9. Assuming you’ve maintained a positive presence on key blogs and message boards, these communities are likely to be open to listening to you. Post information there. Let others be your ambassadors.

10. Where possible and appropriate, post a notice that you are more than willing to attempt to resolve the crisis personally and without delay. Then try to take the first phase of the conversations offline.

Life (On The Internet) Is Unfair. Get Over It.
If any part of your brain is thinking (a) this won’t happen to me, and/or (b) it’s ludicrous to respond to malicious or false information I empathize, but can offer only my own experience – and those of the executives and companies I now advise on the art and science of Online Reputation Management.

It does happen, and your life will be infinitely more comfortable if you have already taken the simple steps toward creating your own authentic presence online. In a world where you are whatever comes up on the first page of Google, you’ve got to take charge – don’t leave the telling of your own story to any blogger, writer or media outlet having a slow news day.

NB: As of June 2009, Juicycampus is out of business.  Unfortunately, its URL boasts a farewell message that redirects to yet another site that supports anonymous college posting. 


TV On The Web Becoming Broadly Popular
OK, watching television shows on the web finally appears to be “mainstreaming.”  80 million Americans – 43% of the online U.S population – have watched one of their favorite shows on the Web, and this is up from 25% only one year ago.

It’s a sign of real experimentation that HBO is airing all episodes of their new show, In Treatment, for free online here.  I’m sure there was a great deal of discussion about whether this move would anger paying subscribers, but a 5-night-a-week show can be a tough sell (who has the time, and not everyone TIVOs…) so this is clearly a move to generate viewing and word of mouth among existing subs and to potentially win new viewers. PBS is also boosting its presence on the web, adding exclusive online-only material to its YouTube channel and posting other (sometimes longer-form) content on its website to reach younger viewers.


SUPER BOWL XLII ADS AND MARKETABILITY
Super Bowl XLII may be all but a distant memory right now but viewers are still reliving the ads – on MySpace, Hulu, YouTube and AOL Sports, just to name a few.

Here are a some interesting tidbits:
– 70% of advertisers bought keywords related to their names, a 20% increase over last year’s game.
– 6% (6%!!) of the marketers’ commercials asked viewers to visit their websites, a decrease of nearly two-thirds from the 2007 game.
– Of the ads that displayed a website URL, only 12% used a voiceover to create a call to action.

And if I’m going to talk about Super Bowl marketability, it’d be hard to ignore GoDaddy. With its pre-game claims that Fox had rejected this ad, GoDaddy broadcast a tamer version featuring Danica Patrick and no more taste than they exhibited last year. However, GoDaddy is in a highly competitive space, its prices are cheap and the service is good:  and by the end of the following day, 2 million visitors had gone to the site, vs. only 500,000 last year.  It’s hard to argue with that.

Most of the post-game debate focused on whether or not the most-loved ads would produce sales.  To leverage the ads completely, an advertiser must manage across both TV and Web not just during the game, but after.  At a very basic level, please make the ad easy to find once the game has ended.  Better yet, make a post-game viewing experience flow seamlessly into the sales process or, at least, put the ad closeby!  E*Trade is doing a great job at this (see its home page here as of Feb 10).  Luckily this gives the Mojo an excuse to highlight its favorite ads, the E*Trade baby spots.  And hey, clowns ARE creepy!


My favorite selections for the week of 1-28-08 share a single theme:  interesting new ways that marketers are using personalized information to drive profitability and provide better customer service. 
 
Multi-Channel Marketer “Retargets” Attritors
Hobby-Lobby International, a multi-channel retailer of radio-controlled model airplanes, is retargeting visitors who abandon their shopping carts.  When the same visitor returns, the site shows the person ads based on her previous click activity.  Hobby-Lobby is seeing a 20% increase among returning visitors shown such ads vs. a control group.


Behavioral Targeting Beats Contextual Advertising
63% of the total online audience is more receptive to ads based on their own behavior vs. ads focused on a site’s purpose and content. In other words – as usual – it’s about them, not us.


My Shopping Cart Is Smarter Than Your Shopping Cart
The supermarket of my childhood, Shop-Rite, is on the cutting edge of behavioral-based advertising via in-store “smart carts.”  When a shopper uses his loyalty card, information on his purchases is stored and analyzed.  When this shopper returns to the store, his shopping cart will be equipped to serve up special offers on products he is most likely to be interested in based on those past purchases.  I didn’t have a “big brother” moment until I read that the carts can also target ads by location, detecting what aisle you’re in and showing you corresponding ads.  Just be aware of your location when these suckers start to talk…

Tappening Continues To Draw Attention With Its Message
Readers of this blog enjoyed an exclusive interview with the creators of the tap water movement, Tappening. 
Eric Yaverbaum and Mark Dimassimo continue to pick up steam, selling 39,000 bottles in the first 36 hours of the campaign.  Good thing they’ve restocked, because Tappening was featured for the second time this year on Good Morning America just yesterday. The first GMA segment in January featured the Tappening reusable bottle in a segment on hot trends.

Tappening is a great lesson in the power of hipness.  The power of cool – of latching onto something positive and giving consumers a device – a bracelet, a ribbon, a red iPod, a bottle – that lets the owner show everyone that she’s “with it” without her saying anything at all.   Consider how much more attention your cause or brand could get if you could think of a way to make it cool.  Which only prompts this blogger to ask:  How can we get Americans to believe that saving money is uber-chic??


Even Presidential Candidates Have Trouble On The Web
How could Presidential candidates still not get the power of the #1 tool on the Web – search? With the new shiny objects being YouTube and Facebook and blah blah, those wishing to be the leader of the free world are missing out on the #1 way to reach voters. Don’t make the same mistake with your business, your brand or yourself.  The building blocks of any sound digital marketing plan is search.


A Blog At Just The Right Time (On Wall Street)
This week, I stumbled on Hedonic Adjustment (www.hedonicadjustment.com), a blog about personal finance.  I like it:  it’s smart, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Check it out.


Social Networks Are Gaining, But The News Is Messy
There are several surveys out right now in which a high percentage of CMOs say their companies are going to spend money on social networks in 2008.  A much smaller percentage of those same respondents say they actually understand the subject.  Little wonder.  There are big social networks and small ones.  Ski social networks and Greg Brady social networks.  They are also “slowing down” and “gaining big.”  Simultaneously.  What is phenomenally different is that (a) these sites aggregate masses of people who may share certain interests, and (b) you should wade in only if you’re willing to have customers actually talk back to or at you.  Don’t try this alone.  But beyond these specific insights, the principles of authentic communication, a better mousetrap and compelling creative still apply.


Everything You Wanted To Know About Online Video
This is a wonderful white paper from our friends at the IAB:  the first in a series about the online video space.  14 pages sounds like a lot, but it’s a painless read and will make you sound like you know what you’re talking about.  Quick:  what’s the difference between in-banner, in-stream and in-text online video?  Like I said…


Whom Do You Trust?
Jarvis Cromwell is a great friend to Marketing Mojo  and his own blog, Reputation Garage, is a must read for those interested in the critical topic of building institutional reputation.   Readers get a real bonus by reading a post from guest blogger Paul Dunay on this very topic.   For the first time, Edelman’s annual survey on trust included 25- to 34-year-old “opinion elites” in 12 countries who appear to put more trust in business than do their older colleagues.


The Tipping Point is Fine, Even If We Can’t Prove It
This is a very interesting article about a scientist named Duncan Watts who believes that influentials – the individuals or small groups in society that market puersrsue for their power to spread ideas and trends quickly – is bunk. I’m posting this article because it smells fishy to me. The experiments ring false, and it feels very much like an academic trying to prove the unprovable and almost poking fun (why?) at all of us who believe in the “tipping point” concept. What’s his (or Fast Company’s) angle?  Human behavior – and the spark that ignites or extinguishes a new idea or product – is sometimes unpredictable magic. Marketers know this. Academics, not so much.


“Oh, Yeah?? Well Go Elf Yourself!”
And finally – just in case you were living under a Christmas tree and missed it – no marketing blog would be complete without a shout-out to the Office Max “Go Elf Yourself” viral campaign that allowed users to paste images of their own faces onto the bodies of dancing elves. 26.4 million – NEARLY ONE IN EVERY 10 AMERICANS – visited the company’s holiday site in 4 weeks. Blog mentions were ginormous. So it’s a major bummer that the company’s head of marketing and advertising said that the initiative wasn’t intended to drive sales. “We are third-place players in our industry, so we are trying to differentiate ourselves through humor and humanization.” Geez, that’s embarrassing: an attitude like that just may contribute to the company being satisfied coming in 3rd in a field of 3. And it’s a shame, really, because he’s wrong: if the Mojo was in charge, the value Office Max would derive from that email list of “friendlies” would be bigger and more long-lasting than the campaign itself. 

Retail Cooperatives Move Online
Data cooperatives that track catalog purchase behavior have been around for decades.  Catalog retailers join the cooperative, submit their own anonymous but detailed purchase data and then can use the aggregated data to make targeting decisions.  Now this concept has jumped to the web, which could be very exciting.  An online cooperative called aCerno acts as a clearinghouse for retailers to share data collected from web transactions. “The system would allow an online retailer to contribute information, such as a cookie tied to a customer who bought a lawn mower. Another co-op member could then use that data to show the person an ad for a related product, like gardening supplies, with the supplier getting a cut.”


Online Video-Sharing Site Usage is Huge

43% of female and 53% of male adult Internet users visited an online video-sharing content site in 2007, and the %s in all age ranges soared.  Check this article for interesting and detailed stats.


Top 10 Viral Videos of 2007
Here are Jack Myers’ picks.  The #1 most popular video had 20 million views on YouTube and needs no introduction.  On a personal note, I did not do so well with geography in elementary school myself, so this video makes me feel a lot better.


Taser Home Shopping Parties a “Stunning” Success
The Tupperware party idea has finally jumped the shark.  Proof positive that you can apply a high-pressure ponzi scheme to just about anything!


Match the Medium to what People Actually do with It
This is an article detailing some of Rupert Murdoch’s thinking re. the future of the Wall Street Journal and, of course, he’s a genius.  His simple point of view is that – in a multi-media, multi-channel, multi-screen world – each channel’s content should be based on the interest and needs of its users.  For example:  perhaps the long, long, long stories on the cover of the Wall Street Journal each day would be better off in the weekend edition, when readers could actually find the time to read them.  The WSJ shouldn’t be ESPN, but maybe a simply sports score chart would be useful to traveling businesspeople who might get yesterday’s scores by picking up the newspaper left outside her hotel room. 

This is the process that Time magazine must pursue if it is going to survive.  Forget about the past.  (1) Put index cards up on a bulletin board that say Website / Mobile Web / Mobile Text / Print.  (2) Decide who uses each, when and for what.  (3) Execute mercilessly.  This is the process that the Variety franchise pursued when I was at Reed Elsevier:  Variety online is best for quick visits and breaking news.  Daily Variety is great for finding out what you missed yesterday, with just enough context.  Weekly Variety offers long-form articles and a discussion of trends. 


The Trading Up Phenomenon is Recession-Proof
This is an article in The New York Times (01.20.08) that tries to tie the idea that consumers are reigning in spending at the moment to an overall “decline” of the idea that consumers who are not truly wealthy “trade up” to luxury brands when they have discretionary cash.  This blogger has discussed her interest in this concept before, and recommends Michael Silverstein’s and Neil Fiske’s book on the topic Trading Up: The New American Luxury.  Like Silverstein, who’s quoted in this article, I think the author of this article is way off track.  The whole point is that middle- to upper-middle class people trade down when they are low on funds, and up when they are flush.  “The trading up phenomenon is quite recession-proof,” Mr. Silverstein says.

I would like to wish all of my readers and their families a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2008.  And a forgiving one, too, since too many candy canes pulled me off track from posting my weekly Favorites. Yes, that’s right, I blame the candy. I’ll get back on track next week. 

In the meantime, here are some pieces that ran from mid December ’07 to early January ’08.  Enjoy.


Steve and Barry’s Uses Celebs to Drive In-Store Traffic
The 265-store retail chain rarely advertises, but gets plenty of fresh exposure from partnering with celebrities who get their own exclusive line of clothing.


Study:  Googling Oneself is More Popular
While self-Googling is becoming increasingly popular, about 60% of Internet surfers say they aren’t worried about the quantity or quality of information available about themselves online.  Readers of this blog know otherwise.



How Silicon Valley and Washington Say “I’m Sorry
Do we have a leadership vacuum?  I say we do.  And how many times can we buy into “I’d rather apologize later than ask permission first” before we start asking questions?  How much of this is marketing spin and how much is real?


Bhutto News Draws YouTube Crowds To TV Coverage
Not everything is a “tipping point,” but there is something real happening across demographic segments when one clip (on YouTube!) draws 185,000 views within 24 hours of the assassination.  Many clips drew between 40,000 and 80,000 views.


Walk 100 Yards North, Turn Right, Enter Store
ShopLocal is just one company pioneering product locating and comparison via mobile devices. Shoppers get search results that provide product, pricing, retailer information and GPS-driven directions to the store of their choice.


Marketer Discontent Set Records In 2007

This is a tough one.  There’s so much change in the marketplace that marketers are more prone than ever to shop their accounts from agency to agency.  Aside from the obvious pain on all sides, there’s no way to interpret this phenomenon broadly.  Bad creative, weak client direction, pressured CEOs, lack of reporting and measurement skills… there are a lot of reasons for this wrenching trend.


Big Fish, Little Fish—Choose Your Pond
Here is an interesting piece of research on executive pay.  It looks at a number of elements including the ratio of average employee to executive pay and how the size and structure of an organization impacts compensation.