The Effect of the FTC’s Testimonial Disclosure Rule Change

About a year ago, the FTC updated its guidelines on testimonials. I wrote a post about it on my other blog (for work) if you’d like to read that article. The highlights of the guideline updates were around transparency of results and testimonials. The updates included more guidelines around revealing any “material connection” between advertisers and endorsers. In other words, if the endorser received money or any other kind of payment for their endorsement, it needs to be disclosed.

This past week, I noticed the execution of these guidelines on a couple of TV commercials. Fairly interesting. This first one was the most interesting to me. It was an advertisement for a car (I don’t recall which one). The story line was essentially a couple talking about their future together and how this car was going to be a part of that future, etc. But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is the disclaimer line: Individuals were remunerated. What the hell does that mean? I’m probably just a big dummy, but I didn’t know what that statement meant. And I figure most people don’t.

Remunerated (verb)
Pay (someone) for services rendered or work done

reimbursed, paid, testimonial, remunerate

Yeah, it basically means that person got paid to say what they said. This seems fair enough at first. But then it also makes me wonder if this was a “real testimonial” and the people were thanked and given some money, or if they were just paid actors reading lines, parading as “real people.” Either way, they were paid. But I can’t tell if this was an actual testimonial or not. I feel like I’m being duped.

Here’s the other one – an ad for Vonage – explaining that these people shared their stories in exchange for an opportunity to appear on a television commercial. I think the description of this disclaimer is far less furtive. I think it’s much more honest and I applaud Vonage for their transparency in respecting the new guidelines. Don’t you?

testimonial, reimbursed, advertisement

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Fraternity Social Media Policy

Note: this is not Sigma Phi Epsilon.

I spend a lot of time volunteering with college students – most of which is spent with my fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. I just received communication from the national organization about representation on social media. The message was intended more for undergraduates than alumni (I think!), but I found it interesting enough to share. We are familiar with more and more workplaces developing social media policies to help protect their brand value. Believe it or not, fraternities (and sororities) are in the same boat. They have a brand to maintain, and with thousands of representatives of that brand all over the nation, it can be difficult to maintain. Especially when there is an interest to reject the “frat boy” stereotype of boozing and womanizing.

What makes it an added challenge is that we’re working with people age 18-22 (generally) who are in the habit of documenting their lives on social media such as Facebook. Posting a photo of you and your buddies hoisting up beer cans or the ubiquitous red Solo cup are badges of honor in a Facebook profile. This isn’t just a Greek Life thing, it’s a college student, high school student, young person thing. We have all seen these types of photos on Facebook. But, the dynamic changes when you’re representing an organization and not just yourself. It will be interesting to see if any national organizations impose a social media conduct policy with consequences for violations.

After all, these are brands built over hundreds of years. Keeping “incriminating” photos off of Facebook isn’t going to protect the brand (it’s made up of so many other factors), but the types of photos that are celebrated on Facebook tend to be the type that entrench Greeks in the negative stereotypes. Don’t get me wrong – these students are doing this to themselves. But they’re affecting a brand that’s larger than them – just like employees who carelessly post can have an affect on the company they work for/represent. We’ll see what happens over time as we deal with a population that’s even more and more entrenched in technology and social media and a habit of documenting their lives – good and bad.

Here is the friendly reminder to the undergrads of SigEp:

“In today’s world, everybody must learn to be careful about how they are portrayed on the internet, particularly on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  We must all be careful about privacy settings, and about what gets posted on a profile, group or fan page—whether public or private.  More and more employers are using these sites to look at potential employees every day.  University administrators are also using these sites to learn more about their students and campus.  As brothers in Sigma Phi Epsilon, we should think about how we are portrayed on these websites, and how our actions reflect upon the Fraternity as a whole.

Be conscious of how your chapter brothers are using social media sites, individually and on chapter accounts.  Chapter members should not be identifying themselves as SigEps via usernames, titles, captions, clothing, etc. if they are participating in inappropriate or unlawful behavior, using illegal substances, or failing to live up to the Cardinal Principles of Virtue, Diligence and Brotherly Love.”

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Newspaper Fail

Just thought this was funny enough to share. It’s a nice example of when media collide. It’s perhaps an even better example of the newspaper being lazy and just copying over the web article and not editing correctly. I like to picture a world where, one day, newspaper and web can co-exist peacefully. Or maybe a world where printed newsprint is capable of containing active hyperlinks. But I’d rather have a hoverboard, so work on that first.

Newspaper hyperlink fail

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Target Ads Target Lost Viewers

Regardless of your feelings on the quality of the season finale of Lost, I thought one of the standout performances was by retailer and advertiser Target. Target rotated through three, 15-second ads during the season finale of Lost. What made them stand out to me (and truthfully what made me stop fast-forwarding through the commercials) is that the ads started with footage from Lost. The ads were then tagged with a product and a price. The commercials were pretty funny – there was one where the smoke monster was searching through an empty camp, finding nobody. The punchline to the ad is a photo of a smoke detector sold at Target. C’mon, that’s funny!

I’ve included video of all three spots in case you didn’t see them. I like this trend of creating TV commercials that are relevant to the show that they air during – I thought these were brilliant, strategically. If you were familiar with Lost, you understood the commercial and got the payoff. I wouldn’t mind seeing advertisers make an effort like this in the future.

And a spoof for good measure…

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Imagine Advertising with Creative Copywriting

photo by matt.hintsa via flickr

“Imagine more shoes than you could ever imagine.”

…rewind…

“Imagine more shoes than you could ever imagine.”

OK, that’s what I thought it said. That’s some of the worst copywriting I’ve ever heard. This was the lead-in line to a TV advertisement for Off Broadway Shoes. I’ll concede that perhaps the copywriters were trying to get attention by having this very confusing line. But, I think it’s simply not a good line. How do I imagine more shoes than I could ever imagine? I tried. I couldn’t do it. No matter how many shoes I imagined, I could never imagine more than I could ever imagine.

Bad line.

Off Broadway Shoes doesn’t have a version of this ad available to embed here on the blog. But they have it here on their website or here on Facebook.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this is a bad line? Anyone think it’s a good line?

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Dove for Men and Oprah – Sponsorship Fail?

I happened to be home early this afternoon because I had to take my son to a doctor’s appointment. He was a little fussy and it sometimes distracts him when the TV is on, so I thought I’d give it a shot. When I turned on the TV, Oprah‘s show was on. Within a minute or so, she took a commercial break. As we transitioned to the commercials, there was a message informing us that the Oprah show was brought to us by Dove Men+Care. “Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “That’s an odd partnership.”

Flickr via nayrb7

As I’ve posted before, there are some marketing and advertising placement decisions that just don’t make sense, especially in very clearly male or female-targeted programming. This seems to be one of those situations. Why would a product line that is very clearly targeted for men sponsor a very clearly female program like Oprah? In fact, according to Quantcast, the viewing audience of Oprah.com is 70% Female (Sorry, I couldn’t find reliable TV show viewer demographics, but we can easily conclude that the demographics are dominantly female as well). If you want to sell to men, sponsor a men’s program, right?

Flickr via theimpulsivebuy

I did have to consider that their marketing strategy was to target women since they tend to make many of the household purchasing decisions. But, Dove Men+Care marketing is directed toward men. Check out some of the TV advertising. Actually, I really like this advertisement. I think it’s funny and I think that it actually speaks to men very well. But this only serves to further confuse me. This is a marketing campaign that targets men!!! Why are they sponsoring the Oprah show?!?

So, I’m turning to the fine folks at Dove to help me understand your strategy. Perhaps it makes a lot of sense. But, on the surface, I can’t tell why you would spend a lot of money (and I know it’s a LOT of money) to sponsor the Oprah show, which is going to expose your product line to women, when your other Dove Men+Care marketing and advertising speaks to men. So, any of you Dove marketers who subscribe to my blog (and I’m certain there are dozens of you), I’m waiting. What’s going on?

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New Media and SEO at the Nevada Interactive Media Summit

As I posted previously, I had the honor of presenting at the annual Nevada Interactive Media Summit again this year. The Nevada Interactive Media Summit seeks to “bring together business owners, non-profit advocates, publishers, newsmakers, bloggers, podcasters, filmmakers, media, PR and advertising professionals and anyone else interested in interactive media from every corner of Nevada together for hands-on learning, rich discussions, opportunities to meet with local companies working in interactive media and plentiful networking opportunities.” I felt fortunate to be the only presenter to give two separate presentations – one on the New Media landscape and one on the strategy behind Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the second year that I’ve presented New Media 101, and it was just as thrilling for me this year as it was last year. I really love the opportunity to take these seemingly complex (and to some people, scary) concepts and bringing them back down to Earth where they belong. The SEO presentation was a first timer for me and while I was pleased with it, I’d like to further refine it, and bring some more examples and humor into it. The conference was well worth the price of admission for attendees ($25), and there were so many intelligent minds in one space, and so many new and exciting ideas that it made for a wonderful experience. Thank you to the Summit coordinators who invited me to present my ideas and knowledge.

I’ve embedded the two presentations below. If you’d like me to present either of these for your business or organization, please feel free to contact me.

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I’m Presenting at the Nevada Interactive Media Summit

There’s no doubt been a buzz about if I would be presenting at this year’s Nevada Interactive Media Summit. And the great news for all of my loyal followers (both of you), is that I WILL be presenting! The event will be Saturday, March 6, 2010 at the University of Nevada (click the link above to get more information and to register). Registration for the all-day event is only $25 and will be well worth it. Make sure you check out the lineup of presentations, speakers and discussion panels.

I will be doing two presentations this year:

1) New Media 101: What is it, Why use it?
2) Searching for Strategy: There’s More to SEO than Code

I hope to see you all there!

(BTW – could this badge clash more with my blog design colors? Then again, most everything clashes with my blog design colors.)

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Do You Hear Yourself Speak?

If you only knew me based on this blog, you may think that a lot of things bother me because I sometimes use this as a forum to talk about things that irk me. Fine – I’ll concede to that. And yes, this is another post like that. This one is about perhaps my greatest of pet peeves – grammatical errors and misspoken words and phrases. For one reason or another, it drives me crazy. I could easily write a post about misspellings and misuses of words (there, they’re, their), but I found this brilliant post on The Oatmeal, so I’ll just refer you to them. Here are a few examples of the screwed-up words and phrases (also known as malapropisms) that really make me grind my teeth. I’d love to hear some of yours, too…

CORRECT: ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: ALL INTENSIVE PURPOSES

The initial wording is reportedly “to all intents, constructions and purposes,” instead of all intents and purposes. It basically means under most usual circumstances, in most practical situations, or for purposes that are practical. “Intensive” implies the level of intensity of the purposes. I know, they’re kind of close, but you’re saying it wrong.

CORRECT: ET CETERA (ETC.)
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: ECK-CETTERA (ECT.)
There’s just no excuse for this one. The word is et cetera – it’s a Latin term meaning “and other things” or “and so forth.”

CORRECT: ACROSS
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT:
ACROSSED
“Guess who I came acrossed at the nude pep-rally today?” or “The puppy mill is acrossed the street from Wendy’s.” These are SO wrong. Acrossed does not exist. Quit adding that extra sound at the end of the word. Seriously. You sound stupid.

CORRECT: TOUGH ROW TO HOE
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: TOUGH ROAD TO HOE
Think about this one. Why in the hell would you be hoeing a road? Do you know what a hoe is (smart-asses need not answer this question)? It’s a gardening tool used to dig trenches in soil, uproot weeds, etc. So, go ahead and scrape a hoe along the asphalt – I guess that would be pretty tough.

CORRECT: FLESH OUT
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: FLUSH OUT
If you have an idea that is incomplete and needs more thinking and more substance, you need to flesh it out, not flush it out. Fleshing out an idea is like a sculptor giving flesh to a skeletal form. An incomplete idea is like the skeleton – you need to flesh it out to make it whole. Flushing it out refers to chasing it into the open like a criminal or a bird or a criminal bird.

I think I’ve made the world a little better place by educating the few of you that read my blog. Please know that if you use these words and phrases incorrectly around me, I will want to slam your head in a car door.

Anybody else have some they’d like to share?

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We Love it When You Win. Just Not Too Much.

In America, we love winners. We’re a country of winners and we embrace those among us who are masterful winners. No place is that more evident than in sports. There’s a clear winner and a clear loser, and we all want to be a part of the winning team. We tell the tales of winners and heroes over and over again. We love winners.

But, I think that we can only bear so much winning before we turn on the winner. We’ll embrace a winner or a winning team until they win too much. Yes, win too much. There are many examples of teams that fall into this category – New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Florida Gators football, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Lakers, etc. I realize there are many more, and I realize there may be other factors, but I think a major factor is that they won too much.

So what happens when they win too much? We turn on them. In fact, we celebrate their losses; we delight in their defeat.

Why is it that we get irritated by too much winning? Is it that we don’t like the expected? If a team or player becomes dominant, and it is expected that they’ll win, I think it actually begins to turn us off. There appears to be a bell curve. The more a person or team wins, the more we love them. But it peaks at some point, and the more they win, the more we dislike them. The more we root against them.

I think this winner’s bell curve theory applies to sports, celebrities, politicians, even our friends. We start to root for successful people to fail. We want to root for the underdog. We want to root for those who shouldn’t win to win, and root for those who should win to lose. We don’t want to see people continue to win. Why do we do this?

Bell Curve

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