Archive for Rants

Twitter Sinners

I know… “Another post about Twitter? I’m sick of it!” 

Sorry, but folks are still so blatantly abusing Twitter, I’m forced back on my platform to expose the heathens. Twitter is not a new advertising platform. It’s not a new place for SPAM. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this VERY SIMPLE law of most all social media: treat it like a real relationship. Right now, you’re not treating Twitter right. You’re abusing it – and that makes you a Twitter Sinner. I’m here to save your soul.

1. Social Media is not about collecting friends. How many friends do you have in real life? I need an exact number. You don’t know, do you? Why not? Because you don’t collect friends. That’s not how friendship, or any relationship, works. So, why do people think that social media is about collecting friends? Do not obsess about how many friends or followers you have. You’re not a better person if you have more followers. 70,000 – oh my! There is no direct correlation between followers/friends and your worth. Deal with it!

2. Give value to your relationship. Any good relationship is symbiotic – you give to me, I give to you. Too often, Twitter relationship are parasitic – one party consumes and doesn’t give back. These are the worst Twitter sinners. Are your messages purely promotional? Or do you offer value to the relationship you’ve created? Do you share articles, insights, breaking news, anything of value? No, telling people you can make them a millionaire is not a post of value. It’s a selfish, promotional tweet.

3. Content before followers. You should post a dozen updates (arbitrary number) with some sort of value before you start hunting for relationships (followers). You’re disgusting, following 800 people with 4 updates. If you want to have a relationship with me, I want to know it will be worthwhile. This is also a rule about giving value to your relationships. 

4. Be upfront with who you are. Are you a company that will be posting promotions, sneak peaks, extras, etc? Are you a person, who will sprinkle tweets with updates about your personal life? It doesn’t matter what you are, I just need to know. I need to know what kind of relationship I’m getting into here. 

5. Do more than re-tweet. Look at your stream of updates – how often are you beginning it with “RT” (ReTweet)? You’re just an aggregator. Have an opinion. Generate your own stuff. Sometimes it’s nice to have somebody passing info along from multiple sources – so I understand if my position on this is controversial, but you’re asking me to have a relationship with YOU. You are the guy at the party, who, when asked his opinion on a matter, quotes somebody else. You’re Matt Damon‘s character on Good Will Hunting. And nobody likes Matt Damon. (OK, just kidding. That was a cheap shot at Damon). 

Here’s a few Twitter Sinners I’ve collected just today. Repent, and change your ways…

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Geico, Who Are You?

Geico‘s marketing efforts are confusing me. They’re really inconsistent. What’s the campaign? Is it the lizard? Is it the caveman? Is it the celebrity testimonial? Oh, maybe it’s the stack of money with the googly eyes. Er, perhaps it’s one of these motorcycle or ATV ads that have nothing to do with any of the others. Remember the, “I’ve got good news… I just saved a ton of money by switching to Geico?” 

Seriously, there seems to be a group of people sitting around a table and coming up with good ideas, and nobody to say, “no, let’s try to be consistent in our marketing efforts.” Instead, they just picked all the ideas, and said, “go with it.” 

Beside the logo slate at the end of a TV spot, I can’t tell that I’m watching a Geico spot. Sure, they’re all kind of quirky, and that is part of their brand, but they’re all so different that they don’t feel related. They don’t feel like a campaign. There are 10 different ideas, 10 different campaigns on the air. Here’s the tragedy in it all – Geico has done of good job of creating strong brand awareness, thanks to the gecko ads that started running in 1999/2000. If you recall, the (now famous) gecko pleaded with people to stop mistakenly calling him to save money on auto insurance. I’ll give Geico credit – they have a strong brand awareness. That’s why it’s tragic…

Why not use this awareness more to your advantage? I feel like with some consistency in marketing, you could leverage that recognition even further. But, until then, I’ll just be confused as to how a lizard, a caveman, squirrels, Joan Rivers, cash with a piercing stare, a baseball coach, a man on a beach with his motorcycle, and a bodyguard are a part of a cohesive ad campaign.

Here’s a list of links to some of the spots I mentioned. I figured links instead of embedding videos, to cut down on loading time.

Lizard – “Free Pie and Chips”

All Caveman Commercials

Squirrels

Joan Rivers Celebrity Testimonial

Googly-Eyed Cash

Motorcycle on the Beach

Female Bodybuilder

Secret Agent

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Living Well in a Recession – $3,000 T-Shirt

Stumbled upon this t-shirt today at Zazzle.com that reads, “Fuck the Recession. I’m Still Rich.” You may not have a problem with it, but I think this is an awful idea. Don’t get me wrong – I get the gag – based on irony. A t-shirt that says something like this is usually not actually worn by somebody who has money. That’s what I thought, until I saw the price tag. $3,325.00! Ridiculous. I thought maybe the price itself was a joke, but I added the item to my cart, and sure enough, it costs $3,300! 

Tshirt Front

Tshirt Front

Tshirt back

Tshirt back

$3,325 at checkout

$3,325 at checkout

Here’s my problem with it. When we’re in a “recession,” you should not (as an individual or a business or organization) show signs of living or spending opulently. It’s tacky. It’s insensitive. I guess I just don’t think it’s that funny or novel to spend $3,000 on a t-shirt in this economy. People are hurting. Genuinely hurting.

To waltz around with signs of spending money lavishly is really socially insensitive to me. There are some companies that are doing this – sending out postcards that are gilded, printing Annual Reports with ornamental and lavish features. Stop doing this! Granted, in my line of business (advertising and marketing), I wish clients were spending more money – but I think it makes such poor business sense. If you even look like you’re spending a lot of money right now, you will offend customers. I don’t care if you got a good deal. Perception is reality – if you look like you spent a ton of money, you spent a ton of  money. Be aware of the messages you’re sending.

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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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