Archive for Rants

Know Your Target Audience

Hey dude, want some cute boots?

Hey dude, want some cute boots?


I received an e-mail offer from Famous Footwear this morning. Awful. Yes, I did sign up to be on their mailing list so I could get my 20% off at the counter one afternoon – that’s not the issue. Visually, it was on brand – that’s not the issue. It was the subject line and the content of the e-mail: it was about women’s shoes! Now, I’ll concede that probably most of Famous Footwear’s mailing list and clientele are female. But, this is e-mail marketing! You can easily segment your messages based on any number of things, including gender. There should have been a male-centric e-mail and a female-centric version of this e-mail. Tsk tsk!

Data collection and segmentation is becoming easier and easier (not to mention more and more necessary), and needs to be used appropriately. Hitting a customer by gender is just one example of e-mail marketing segmenting. You should be able to tell what kind of shoes I’ve purchased in the past, and customize a message based on that. Don’t you think I would be more inclined to make a purchase if there was an offer about something you know I like? 

As marketers, we have such a buffet of information at our fingertips about our clientele. New media allows us to collect even more data and learn how to better serve our end user – no matter whom that is. So, sit up and think about how you use the data you have. Are you still just sending out the same blind e-mails? Are you offering women’s boots to men? (For the record, my purchasing history includes NO female shoes or boots). You’ve been collecting the data – now analyze it and use it and give your company a great chance to make a transaction. 

As a final aside – I loathe that I opened up that e-mail, because it will be recorded as a successful e-mail, but I had to get that screen capture. See my post from Sunday – you get what you consume. Don’t want strategically crappy e-mails? Stop opening them! Ugh – my bad.


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Party Lines


Choose Your Side!

Choose Your Side!

You won’t catch me writing about politics much (if at all) on this blog. Why? I hate politics, for a number of reasons. But, my attention has been particularly heightened by this year’s election season and I’ve been reminded of my pejorative feeling toward politics. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not a cynic. And this posting actually concludes on a hopeful note. However, I continue to see something fundamentally wrong with the way we engage in “politics” in America, and I have to use this forum to point it out.

Why do I hate politics? Two reasons: Party Lines and Marketing.

What is the purpose behind electing representative leaders – especially President of the United States? Well, obviously, to represent us, but more importantly to do what’s best for the United States of America. How do we find the leader that is best for our country? Well, typically, we whittle the candidate down to a nominee for two political parties – Democrats and Republicans. Of course, there are independents, etc, but they never get enough attention, so we’ll not talk about them here, either.

By the way – it is actually pretty interesting to read about why we have two main political parties and how they evolved. Here is a link to learn more about Democrats and Republicans

OK, so what’s wrong with political parties? EVERYTHING. People are so incredibly blinded by political lines, that I fear we actually hurt our chances to progress as a nation. We so blindly follow our political lines that we ignore all else.

I have often seen perfectly reasonable, polite and intelligent people become monsters to defend their party lines. They name-call, get angry and get hateful. Very hateful. Why? Because you are not a Democrat. Or because you are not a Republican. This two-party political system seems to only DIVIDE a nation, not unite it. It seems laughable to be called the United States of America.

What has become of paramount importance is NOT finding solutions to our problems and growing stronger as a nation, but rather that OUR TEAM WINS. We are not Americans, we are rabid fans. Our personal identity is so connected to our party affiliation, that a loss for our party is a loss for us. Somebody who isn’t the same political party as us is “stupid” and “ignorant.” Don’t lie to yourself and tell me that you don’t think that way.

Tonight, Barack Obama won the presidential election. During John McCain’s concession speech, he simply mentioned Obama’s name (nothing negative, just mentioned it) and the crowd reacted with a booing crescendo. WTF? Uncalled for, crowd. It is always the red team versus the blue team. It divides us as a nation. 

This is why I dislike the marketing of politics. Now, marketing is not an unfamiliar topic for this blog, but its connection to politics is. This marketing is primarily about winning (duh – nobody expected it not to be). But, the marketing goes far beyond the TV commercials. Every candidate has a campaign manager – they decide how to position the candidate versus their competitor. They decide the target audience, the message and the media. These is marketing – open your eyes. You are being SOLD on a candidate. Now, I’m not complaining about mudslinging – that’s been an issue for years. But, I do get irritated that the idea is to sell me, and sell me hard. 

History has shown that candidates try to fall as far “left” or as far “right” as they can to get their party nomination. Once they get that, it’s time for the “dash to the center” – in other words, trying to present themselves as attractive to both Democrats and Republicans, to win the election. Politicians want us to vote along party lines. They want us to dislike the other candidate and dislike those who support that opposing candidate. We jump at opportunities to catch the opposing party losing. It’s all a game. Root, root, root for the home team – if they don’t win, it’s a shame.

The Party Lines build their army. “We want Republicans to control the House!” “We want Democrats to control the Senate!” It’s about one team controlling the nation over the other team. Even outside of the election, we maintain our blind alliances and make legislative decisions based on party lines. You wouldn’t dare cross party lines, would you? You traitor!!!

I have thought, for a number of years, that the country would be better off if we eliminated party lines. I have thought we would be better off to simply have non-partisan candidates. What’s the quote – “It’s amazing what we can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit.” What if it was just about electing leaders who could improve our country?

I know, this is overly idealistic. I don’t know that this would ever be possible at this point. But, I still believe that if we maintain a two-party system of Democrats and Republicans, then we will continue to be divided as a nation. We do not need yet another reason to divide ourselves. We already have race, religion, economic class, gender and sexuality. I imagine a country that is united. And I do believe it is possible.

As I was watching the presidential election coverage tonight, there was an interview with former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. He was asked how Republicans would react tomorrow if Obama won the election. I thought his answer was extremely germane. He said, “Whether you were a Democrat for Obama, or a Republican for McCain, tomorrow we will all be Americans, and will support our President.” 

That’s what I want for our country: No Republicans. No Democrats. Just Americans.

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Truth in Packaging

OK, yes this is another post about me complaining about marketers. How many times have you watched a commercial for a big juicy burger – meat glistening, giant ripe tomatoes, big fluffy bun, melty cheese – so perfect you want to run out and grab it right then and there? However, you get to the restaurant and proudly order your new discovery only to be handed a soggy, limp little burger. How could this be? You saw it with your own eyes on TV. You feel betrayed! You’ve been bamboozled! What are you to do?

Wendy's Baconator

Wendy's Baconator (Ad vs Reality)

I don’t know, my friends. What can you do? The laws seem to be fairly loose around this kind of thing – but is it so wrong? I’ve been on the set of food shoots – it’s truly an art. There are professional food photographers who are very good at their job. They use all sorts of materials to get food to look good. They put gloss on the meat to make it look juicy. The use carefully calculated placement of sauces, applied by syringes. Next time you see a box of cereal, take a close look to see if there is a heaping spoonful of cereal in cold milk. Odds are, the milk is actually Elmer’s Glue. 

Should we be upset? Isn’t this just like a human model for clothes or sunglasses or makeup or something? Isn’t this just the same as seeing that shirt on a model, going to the store and buying it, only to see that you look like a turd in the exact same shirt? Kind of. The food has to be photographed to look appealing, I get it. Here’s the BIG QUESTION for the blog – how close should the actual product look in comparison to the commercial or the photo? 

Take a look at this next winner of a product lie. There’s supposedly six kids that can frolic around in this kiddie pool. Looks great – what an oasis of fun! You can go down the water slide while your friends chill in the pool. Perhaps you’d like to play basketball or ring toss? Sure – it’s all good, kids. Back to reality – I feel bad for the kids in this “reality” photo. While the two products are very similar, that is NOT the same product. The kids in the photo on the box are pixies or something. Seriously! Look at this photo and just shake your head in disbelief (well, that’s what I did). Is there no Truth-in-Packaging law? I couldn’t find one, but if somebody knows of it, please give me the details. Is this ethical?

Wow, not even close

Wow, not even close

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Got Creativity?

OK, this is my rant about lack of creativity by marketers. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It irritates me to no end to see marketers lazily attempt to market their product or services by copying the popular “got milk?” ads by simply using lowercase type and filling their product or service in the blank of “got ______?”  How lazy are you? 

The “Got Milk” advertising campaign was created in 1993 by Goodby Silverstein & Partners for theCalifornia Milk Processor Board and later licensed it for dairy farmers. Milk had seen a 20-year slump, and this wildly popular advertising campaign is credited with milk’s resurgence as a competitor in the beverage industry. The first TV ad to run in 1993 was about a luckless history buff who adores Alexander Hamilton (in fact, it appears his apartment is like a mini-museum). He is slathering peanut butter onto a sandwich as he hears the radio announcer’s trivia contest. The question: “Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?” Next caller gets a chance to answer. Well, who do you suppose would get the call. None other than our tragic star who has just stuffed that peanut butter sandwich in his mouth. The DJ cannot understand his answer (Aaron Burr), so our hapless hero reaches for the milk to wash down his woes and win $10,000. No milk. Tragedy. “Got Milk?” is the simple tag on a black screeen. Brilliant!!! Check it out, below. 

OK – so what’s your problem, Mike? I was driving in the Costco shopping center and drove past this pickup truck with these 10-foot cat tower things (I guess the cats climb on them), and a big sign that said, “Got Cats?” Ugh – why don’t these amateur marketers come up with something original instead of stealing and presenting a pathetic carbon copy of a great ad? And there are no boundaries for burglary of “Got Milk?” Check out some of the examples below. You’ve got everything from “Got Jesus?” to “Got Sand?” to “Got Shoes?” Plus, my favorite: “Got Poop?”

Anyway – that’s my rant. Keep your eyes open for these pathetic attempts at marketing, and gaze upon them with absolute disdain. Promise you will?

(Also, just for all of our viewing pleasure, I added a true “Got Milk?” ad featuring Hayden Panettiere to the gallery)

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