Wednesday, October 31, 2007

new social network

I found this new social network site. It seems to be a pyramid scheme.

Green Halloween- Exclusive Q & A with the Founder

Happy Halloween everybody! I have been surprised this year by the widespread acceptance of the Green Halloween concept. This concept originated in the Seattle area and is already supported by sponsors such as Whole Foods.

Here's the Marketing College exclusive Q&A with Corey Colwell-Lipson, Founder, Green Halloween.

1) What motivated you to start the Green Halloween movement?

Please see the about page.

2) How does this change the behavior of parents?

Green Halloween will be of interest to a continuum of parents. Some parents are green to being green and healthy but may think that it is time to start trying. These parents may take one step such as purchasing used instead of new costumes or handing out Play-doh instead of candy. At the other end of the spectrum are parents who are already on the green train - these parents consistently strive to include the health of their children and the health of the planet in their everyday decisions. For instance, they may shop for food locally, eat organically, give preference to petroleum-free packaging and make other decisions as parents and as consumers that are driven by these concerns. Most people will fall somewhere in between these two groups. Green Halloween has ideas and suggestions for people no matter where they fall in the spectrum. Green Halloween is not a one-size-fits-all ideal. It seeks to meet people wherever they are and to make easy and affordable the process of integrating human and environmental health into the most traditionally un-healthy times of year: the holidays.

Green Halloween, as a community movement, changes the behavior of parents by a variety of means. These may include:

- Education (letting people know why making these changes is important, and teaching them how to make the changes)
- Simplification/ ease of use (e.g. busy parents who want to make these kinds of choices can come to our website, find the information and take direct action without having to do their own research)
- Word of mouth/ peer pressure (e.g. "Have you heard about these great options?" or "It's so passé not to be healthy and green")
- It feels good. Studies and experience show us that doing good deeds make us feel good. In addition to being a movement about health and the environment, Green Halloween also encourages people to consider the well being of the people who grow or make the products we buy. In addition, we're promoting the idea of making the world a better place and taking care of others in our community, especially during the holidays. Green Halloween is a great opportunity for people to keep the fun and good memories AND make the world a better place; I think that this changes behavior because the rewards are both immediate and long lasting.

3) How have kids responded to this initiative?

What's been interesting is that when people (including reporters) have asked children, "What would you think of going candy-free this Halloween?" - aside from the fact that this is not what GH is all about, this question does not give the inquirer an accurate assessment of the situation because most children are going to say, "No thanks." What we have found, after meeting thousands of children and parents at various community events since September, is that when children see, touch and feel the alternatives we're suggesting, 100% of them have said they would take the alternative. Hands down. We have yet to meet one single child, of any age - including
adolescents - who said they would rather have traditional treats over the healthy and or Earth-friendly treasures we've had on display.

4) If I am a marketer, how should I respond to this trend? Which marketers would you hold up as role models?

I recently had a conversation with a company who makes healthy (and SO delicious!) "bars" that are not currently packaged in ways that most parents could afford to use them as a treat for Halloween, birthday parties, etc. I mentioned to them that many parents would indeed choose their product over candy if they made it available and affordable and that I was sure that other companies would be meeting this demand at some point soon. My belief is that companies who make products such as these can be leaders or followers, but my guess is that at some point in the future, they will all be taking part in this change.

Many sources report that a significant number of consumers do take into account human/environmental health and sustainability issues when making consumer choices. Further, marketers know that consumers also respond positively to products that give back, for example, through the donation of a portion of sales to non-profit organizations. If I was a marketer, I would rise to meet this demand early on. I would take into account Green Halloween's three criteria by making sure that my product is - and is marketed as - being healthy for children, good or better for the environment, and safe and fair for the people making or growing the product. I would also ensure that my company has a clear commitment to giving back to the community.

I am not aware of any company that is 100% perfect, but I am aware of many who are trying hard to reach this ideal. Companies such as Endangered Species Chocolates sell products that are organic (good for the people who grow and eat the food as well as for the planet) and Fair trade (reducing child slavery - something prevalent on non-fair-trade cocoa farms.) In addition, ES donates a percentage of their sales to a worthy cause. Tully's coffee is now using biodegradable cups to hold their organic, shade-grown, fair trade coffee. Weisenbach Specialty Printing makes fun, quality products out of recycled materials such as recycled paper, plastic, denim and money,
most of which are American made, and gives back to the community by supporting worthy causes such as Green Halloween. Of course, it is also important that companies take pride in the way they treat their own employees and how, behind closed doors, the company operates. Do they say one thing and do another? Savvy consumers may find this important.

5) Are you getting any resistance to this concept?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive from people here in the Seattle-area and from parents, organizations and businesses across the country. I have received 4-5 e-mails from people who were not supportive. A few had issues with some of the suggestions I made and a few others felt I should leave Halloween alone and wondered what's wrong with a little unhealthiness and un-Earth-friendliness once a year. Generally, our message to people is that Green Halloween is seeking to create alternatives for those people who are interested in making a change; if someone's family wants to keep things the same, then our ideas may not be for them. On a larger scale, though, I am confident that the system is changing. Companies and manufacturers will be rising to meet the demands of parents who want to have fun and to create good memories AND to be healthy and Earth- and people-friendly. I also believe that existing companies may have to change their ways or risk consumer backlash. My expectation is that in the future, all holidays, including birthdays, will have traditions that are quite different than those of today.

Sir Cliff lets fans set the price

It looks like what Radiohead have started is becoming a fashion. Now even Sir Cliff Richard is following the trend. Sir Cliff fans can the set the price of his next album, but with a twist. The more pre-orders the album receives; the less it will cost to launch it. The price now is £7.99. Can they make it cheaper? You decide!

October 30, 2007
Web User

The more people that pre-order the album, the less it will cost Veteran crooner Sir Cliff Richard is launching a new album on 12 November and it could cost as little as £3.99.

That's because the price will depend on the number of pre-orders for the album received before it goes on sale - the more there are, the less it will cost. The price currently stands at £7.99 and will be updated daily.

Love... The Album is a 15-track offering from Britain's answer to Elvis Presley, and will be digitally distributed in MP3 format when it goes on sale.

However, one analyst accused Sir Cliff of jumping on the bandwagon.

"Hot on the heels of Radiohead's price drop digital download initiative, Sir Cliff Richard has announced his own vaguely similar, but much safer, initiative for his forthcoming album," said Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research.

Mulligan compared the concept to that of a US website called Amie Street, which works along the lines of a social network - recommendations can be made to other users, and music sold on the site starts off free and rises in price the more it is downloaded.

"The more people that pre-order the album the cheaper it will become, which in all honesty has more in common with Amie Street than it does Radiohead," said Mulligan.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is this the next YouTube?

Everybody seems to be talking about Hulu. They are focused on TV shows. You can currently sign up for beta testing. There are some hints on how this might work on their blog.

They have an entire episode of the Office on the site at this point-

What should universities be doing to train marketing students for the future?

As an educator, I constantly think about what I should be doing to help my students succeed at their jobs. I worry that, as a community, we are teaching students old paradigms and skills rather than helping students cope with new challenges.

What do you think? If you are a student, what do you think you should be learning in your marketing courses to be a star?

The Piracy Paradox.

James Surowiecki argues that piracy is not bad for the fashion business. Exact quote-

"There’s little evidence that knockoffs are damaging the business. Fashion sales have remained more than healthy—estimates value the global luxury-fashion sector at a hundred and thirty billion dollars— and the high-end firms that so often see their designs copied have become stronger."

The term "Piracy Paradox" comes from this paper by Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman.

Web 2.0 is a Bubble.

Steve Rubel has posted an atypically negative and cynical article on how Web 2.0 is a bubble. Here is the sound bite- "The bubble really began in earnest on October 9, 2006 when Google bought YouTube." Read the full article here.

Forty Seven Authors!

I am happy to report that this blog now has forty seven authors! I am looking forward to even more authors, posts and comments.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Best 50 Tech Products Of All Time.

Earlier, this year, PC World came up with a list of the top 50 tech products of all time. The full article is here.

Here is the list in ranked order-

1. Netscape Navigator (1994)
2. Apple II (1977)
3. TiVo HDR110 (1999)
4. Napster (1999)
5. Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS (1983)
6. Apple iPod (2001)
7. Hayes Smartmodem (1981)
8. Motorola StarTAC (1996)
9. WordPerfect 5.1 (1989)
10. Tetris (1985)
11. Adobe Photoshop 3.0 (1994)
12. IBM ThinkPad 700C (1992)
13. Atari VCS/2600 (1977)
14. Apple Macintosh Plus (1986)
15. RIM BlackBerry 857 (2000)
16. 3dfx Voodoo3 (1999)
17. Canon Digital Elph S100 (2000)
18. Palm Pilot 1000 (1996)
19. id Software Doom (1993)
20. Microsoft Windows 95 (1995)
21. Apple iTunes 4 (2003)
22. Nintendo Game Boy (1989)
23. Iomega Zip Drive (1994)
24. Spybot Search & Destroy (2000)
25. Compaq Deskpro 386 (1986)
26. CompuServe (1982)
27. Blizzard World of Warcraft (2004)
28. Aldus PageMaker (1985)
29. HP LaserJet 4L (1993)
30. Apple Mac OS X (2001)
31. Nintendo Entertainment System (1985)
32. Eudora (1988)
33. Sony Handycam DCR-VX1000 (1995)
34. Apple Airport Base Station (1999)
35. Brøderbund The Print Shop (1984)
36. McAfee VirusScan (1990)
37. Commodore Amiga 1000 (1985)
38. ChipSoft TurboTax (1985)
39. Mirabilis ICQ (1996)
40. Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 (1992)
41. Apple HyperCard (1987)
42. Epson MX-80 (1980)
43. Central Point Software PC Tools (1985)
44. Canon EOS Digital Rebel (2003)
45. Red Hat Linux (1994)
46. Adaptec Easy CD Creator (1996)
47. PC-Talk (1982)
48. Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 (1997)
49. Microsoft Excel (1985)
50. Northgate OmniKey Ultra (1987)

GAP is involved in child labour claims

So Last week it was Mattel…this week it's GAP. The persisting question remains: how do these companies manage to respond to such allegations and protect their brand image? Or is the situation different in GAP case, as the damage has already been done overseas? Do you think consumers really care about how their clothes are being manufactured? Or does price always plays the role of determinant factor in their buying decision? How big is the market segment of "Ethical" shoppers in comparison to "Price Sensitive" ones?


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Calling allegations of child labor at an Indian factory contracted to make some of its apparel "deeply disturbing," the president of Gap North America says the company has fired the subcontractor responsible for the abuse and will not be selling the garments made there in its stores.

President Marka Hansen spoke to CNN Sunday after viewing video of children allegedly sewing Gap clothes at a New Delhi sweatshop. The story was first reported Sunday in Britain's Observer newspaper

"It's deeply, deeply disturbing to all of us," Hansen said. "I feel violated and I feel very upset and angry with our vendor and the subcontractor who made this very, very, very unwise decision."

Hansen blamed the alleged abuse on an unauthorized subcontractor for one of its Indian vendors and said the subcontractor's relationship with Gap had now been "terminated."

She said the garments allegedly produced by the children represented a small portion of a single order placed with the vendor, and that the garments would now not be sold in stores.

"We strictly prohibit the use of child labor," Hansen said in a statement. "Gap has a history of addressing challenges like this head-on, and our approach to this situation will be no exception.

"In 2006, Gap Inc. ceased business with 23 factories due to code violations. We have 90 people located around the world whose job is to ensure compliance with our Code of Vendor Conduct."

In its article, The Observer spoke to children as young as 10 who said they were working 16 hours a day for no pay. The paper described the workplace as a "derelict industrial unit" where the hallways were flowing with excrement from a flooded toilet.

A 12-year-old boy said he worked from dawn until 1 a.m. and was so tired he felt sick. But if any of the children cried, he said, they would be hit with a rubber pipe or punished with an oily cloth stuffed in their mouths.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What does a Chief Marketing Officer do?

One of the problems with the idea of a Chief Marketing Officer is that it is not very clear what this role entails. Most articles, like this one, seem to suggest that the CMO's roles are negotiated and are, therefore, contextual. The problem with this is that it creates a halo of doubt and confusion about this post. While it is very clear that the CEO focuses on bottom-line goals, the CMO's responsibility seems to be ill-defined making it easier to scapegoat when things start to go bad.

All this makes me wonder if we will have Chief Marketing Officers in the long-run or if this is simply a fad.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why P&G wins?

Since the small stutter in 1999-2000, which led to the resignation of the then CEO (Durk Jager), P&G has been on a roll delivering stellar growth quarter after quarter.Here is an ex-Proctroid’s take on what has been driving this performance.

1. Better and more “real” Brands : Brands have been re-interpreted and rejuvenated. The laser like focus on narrowly defined functional benefits has been supplanted by a broader emotional/life context to the brand, without diluting the importance of product superiority. In my view, they are not fully there on this front ( more on that in another blog soon), but still a huge change vs the past.

2. Faster and efficient innovation: Technical product Innovation is faster and at times out-sourced. Refer P&G connect and develop (C&D) program. P&G calls this change, from R&D to C&D. Commercial innovation, innovation that doesn’t involve any product reformulation or package change, has also bloomed.

3.Adapting to new Media and new consumer dynamics: In response to media fragmentation, new ways of effectively and efficiently connecting with the consumers have been developed and then institutionalized in the usual P&G manner. Word of Mouth, Consumer advocacy, Shopper marketing, Digital/web to name a few. Research has also evolved and there is more immersion , ethnographic and anthropological type of research to uncover finer insights. Online research is also being used. See a good example of using the web for Folgers Coffee here.

4. Leveraging design: The importance of design has been recognized and P&G was perhaps the first packaged goods company to have a Global head of design. The results are clear to see on the shelf. Check out the new Head and Shoulders graphic and bottle shape when you visit the supermarket next.
5. Stronger portfolio: Some great brands and businesses - WELLA, GILETTE, HERBAL ESSENCES, CLAIROL, IAMS to name a few- have been acquired and integrated well within the portfolio. Its a pity they couldn’t buy NIVEA due to the vagaries of German corporate law.

6. Superior customer relationships: P&G has perhaps handled the demands and pressures of the big retailers better than other CPG companies, driven by superior customer understanding and sharper shopper insights. They use the brain bank instead of the cheque book approach with big retailers like Wal Mart.

7. Winning where it matters: The lead in key growth geographies like China has been maintained and there is momentum in the India business where P&G has struggled historically against Unilever.

8. Lean supply chain costs : P&G was one of the pioneers of the ECR ( efficient consumer response) model and a lean supply chain has been key to ensuring right pricing, margins and speed to market.

The one point which quite often gets over-looked when discussing P&G’s success is its ability to institutionalize and roll out new best practices and processes. This is an important element in their success because the strategic changes which P&G has implemented are not unique. All FMCG companies have attempted the same ( e.g. Unilever’s Path to Growth ) kind of transformation . So why has P&G executed the same strategy better ?

My view :

1. Talent : The quality of people within the company has always been strong as P&G recruits rigorously. It is a strong meritocracy. It also invests a lot in development. This has generated a strong pipeline of leaders who are also outstanding thinkers/thought leaders.

2. Common language and culture: The presence of a common language, enabled and nurtured by the no lateral recruitment policy, and a strong corporate culture makes change management and wider buy-in to changes less painful.

3. Strong belief in facts and data: Data/facts matter much more than opinions. This culture of “fact” based decision making ensures people embrace the new practices and processes with lot more confidence than what I have seen in or heard about other FMCG companies. People are in general not cynical about new global guidelines. Also P&G measures and course corrects better than most. The research department in P&G is a true powerhouse.

Buy DELL shares.

You can’t keep a good man down for very long. First SONY and now DELL is on a comeback trail. I can feel it and see it. The focus on basics - good product design, excellent customer service and relevant innovation - is showing. Read here about how they are listening to the consumer, turning complaints/problems into a positive opportunity for the brand and harnessing the “wisdom of the crowds” to develop new products or improve existing ones.

Conversing with your consumers may be just lip service for some companies, but for Dell it is central to a rejuvenated reputation, writes Jeff Jarvis in BusinesWeek (10/29/07). Just a year ago, Dell’s internal tracking reported customer satisfaction among core users at just 58 percent. Satisfaction among high-end customers was even worse. Michael Dell went “ballistic,” says Dick Hunter, who heads Dell’s customer service. Today, Dell’s core-customer satisfaction is up to 74 percent and the high-end has jumped to 80 percent. That’s still not good enough, but those numbers apparently would not be as high if not for its blog, “I think what the web has brought is the voice of that 25 percent,” says Dick.

Dell launched last July, “where chief blogger Lionel Menchaca gave the company a frank and credible human voice.” That happened only after the company had been thoroughly flamed by unhappy customers online. At that point, Michael Dell was encouraged by Jeff Jarvis to “join the conversation your customers are having without you.” Dell started by dispatching “technicians to reach out to complaining bloggers and solve their problems, earning pleasantly surprised buzz in return.” Direct2Dell was launched amid “a burning battery issue,” and shortly after Michael Dell himself started, a blog asking “customers to tell the company what to do.”

In response to their advice, Dell is now “selling Linux computers and reducing the promotional ‘bloatware’ that clogs machines. Today, Dell even enables customers to rate its products on its site.” It has also streamlined its call-center support. Mark Jarvis, Dell’s new cmo, actually regards its customer conversations as its strategy: “By listening to our customers, that is actually the most perfect form of marketing you could have.” His boss regards it as an engine of innovation: “I’m sure there’s a lot of things that I can’t even imagine, but our customers can imagine,” says Michael Dell, adding, “A company this size is not going to be about a couple of people coming up with ideas. It’s going to be about millions of people and harnessing the power of those ideas.”

Read more such stories on my blog

Everybody gets a free Taco.

Taco Bell is giving away free tacos to everyone. Simply show up at the Taco Bell of your choice between 2-5 p.m. on October 30. This is part of a promotion associated with the World Series.

Cameron Balloon Factory.

An introduction to the award-winning Cameron Balloon Factory module on MERLOT. [Uses Flash, Takes time to load.]

Star Spangled Ice Cream

Ice-cream targeting the American political conservative. Their motto- "The Sweet Taste of Freedom."

This is how it works. You go to this web site and order the ice-cream of your choice. The ice-cream is delivered to your doorstep. The troops get 10% of the profits. You get to revel in conservative ideology and eat delicious ice-cream.

This should make for a great class discussion on targeting.


The Baltimore Ravens have created a club for women fans ONLY called Purple.

Read more on the Church of the Customer Blog.

An Introduction to Social Marketing

Excellent video on the basics of social marketing by the aforementioned Michael Rothschild on the basics of Social Marketing as it pertains to Public Health. [About 53 minutes long]

Tesco-Disney Partnership

Posted by Mike Rothschild on Soc_Mktg-

Here is an interesting example of a partnership in the private sector
with the goal of improving diet:
* Tesco to feature Disney characters on food products
* Tesco has inked a deal with Disney to feature Disney characters on a
range of Tesco's food products. The co-branded product range will
start with fresh fruits, which will go on sale next month, and will
eventually expand into other food lines including yogurt, milk and
breakfast cereals. BBC (10/22)

Mattel: Third recall in less than a year

We all thought it would not happen again, after earlier this summer Mattel made two large-scale recalls that affected 18.6 million toys. Today the firm is recalling another 55,000 Chinese-made toys after lead contamination fears. So how does that affect its brand image? Does it raise concerns regarding outsourcing operations? Do companies need to re-consider their options before manufacturing overseas? Or do they have to work on quality assurance and acceptable standards first?


BBC Thursday, 25 October 2007

Toy firm Mattel is recalling 55,000 Chinese-made toys after lead contamination fears, the US has said.

The recall affects 38,000 toys in the US, 12,000 toys in the UK and the Irish Republic and 5,500 toys in Canada.

The items affected are Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boat toys imported by Fisher Price.

The move is part of a wider recall of 665,000 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Mattel recalled million of toys over the summer.

Mattel's profits have fallen slipped by 1% over the past three months, in the wake of the recalls.

Earlier in the summer the firm made two large-scale recalls that affected 18.6 million toys, including certain Diego toys.

Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesperson Julie Vallese said the recalls stemmed from the improved examination of goods announced earlier.

"The CPSC, as well as manufacturers, continue to look for products that may violate the lead paint standard," said Ms Vallese.

The Diego boats had been identified during retroactive testing on items that had been set aside after August's recalls, said Mattel spokesperson Lisa Marie Bongiovanni.

This latest recall marks the fourth in six months, prompting the EU to embark on a two-month review of its toy safety regulations, expected to be complete in November.

"There is more to be done to step up controls," said Meglena Kuneva, the EU's consumer commissioner after announcing the recall that affected the items in the UK and the Irish Republic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Marketing Trends.

TrendWatching offers a provocative set of consumer trends. In their report from last year, the top five trends included Status Lifestyles, Transparency Tyranny, Web N+1, Trysumers and The Global Brain.

The entire list of trends is here. My favorites include Snobmoddities,
Sympvertising, Massclusivity and Starbucking.

Purikura (Photo Club)

One of the hot trends from Japan is called Purikura. Originally, this referred to machines that let you decorate your photos. Now, you can use sites such as Puricute to create your own Purikura pictures online.

Now, Nissan has taken this idea to the next plateau by
allowing consumers to perform a Purikura-style customization of their car.

Japanese Designer Water

Amazing bottle design for a Japanese brand of mineral water. More here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Facebook is worth $15 billion!

So it's now confirmed, Microsoft has paid $240 million to have 1.6 percent stake of Facebook. But what does that mean to the on-line advertising industry? Do you think Microsoft will be able to increase its on-line ad revenue to the same level as Google? Or is Microsoft incapable of gaining any bigger market share until it develops a better way of selling on-line ads?


Associated Press & Updated: 5:25 p.m. ET Oct. 24, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - Rapidly rising Internet star Facebook Inc. has sold a 1.6 percent stake to Microsoft Corp. for $240 million, spurning a competing offer from online search leader Google Inc.

The deal announced Wednesday after several weeks of negotiation values Palo Alto-based Facebook at $15 billion — less than four years after Mark Zuckerberg started the online social networking site in his Harvard University dorm room.

Microsoft also will sell Internet ads for Facebook as the site expands outside the United States, broadening an existing marketing relationship that began last year.

Besides validating Zuckerberg's decision to rebuff a $1 billion takeover offer from Yahoo Inc. last year, Microsoft's money should be more than enough to pay for Facebook's ambitious expansion plans until the privately held company goes public.

Zuckerberg, 23, has indicated he would like to hold off on an initial public offering for at least two more years. In the meantime, Facebook hopes to become an advertising magnet by substantially increasing its current audience of nearly 50 million active users, who connect with friends on the site through messaging, photo-sharing and other tools.

The Facebook investment represents a coup for Microsoft because it provides the world's largest software maker with a toehold on one of the Internet's hottest platforms and a potentially lucrative forum for selling online ads.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has been trying to become a bigger force in Internet advertising for several years, only to watch Google deepen its dominance of the space.

In its fiscal year ending in June, Microsoft's online ad revenue rose 21 percent to $1.84 billion. Over the same period, Google's ad revenue totaled $13.3 billion.

With the Facebook investment, Microsoft dealt a rare setback to Google, which had previously trumped its bitter rival in earlier bidding battles involving AOL and Internet ad service DoubleClick Inc.

"Making this investment ... is a great win for not only for our two companies, but also our collective users and advertisers," Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's platforms and services division, said in a statement.

The coup shows Microsoft is getting more savvy about the Internet, said Matt Rosoff, an analyst for the research group Directions on Microsoft. "I think they understand it now and they're proceeding correctly. Two years ago, I would have said they don't get it at all."

Tim Armstrong, who oversees Google's North American advertising, declined to comment on the Facebook negotiations during s meeting held with analysts Wednesday at the company's Mountain View headquarters.

Emotionally Intelligent Signage

Google to use Nielsen data for its TV ads.

First of all, admit it. You did not know that Google sells TV ads. It does. It is still a small business, but it is expected to grow. Now, Google has announced that it will use Nielsen data to help advertisers target better. Should the networks worry?

Advice to Educators.

From the Monday Morning Ed-U-Upper.

A friendly suggestion for educators...

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations or articulating your superficial sentimentalities, and amicable philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.

Let your conversational communications possess a compacted conciseness, a clarified comprehensibility, a coalescent cogency, and a concatenated consistency.

Eschew obfuscation and all conglomeration of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement, and asinine affectations. Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and voracious vivacity without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolificacy, and vain vapid verbosity.

In short: "Be brief and don't use big words."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Changing markets and changing demands in the automotive industry

A recent article [registration required] in the Wall Street Journal mentions that Nissan has been clamoring to design and manufacture a small and inexpensive car as consumers' needs and desires are changing dramatically from where they were in the past 20 years. What is interesting is how significant the shift must be for manufacturers. Just a decade ago, the premier vehicles were the exact opposite: SUVs and trucks. Consumers' tastes have flip-flopped as the new feature that they are looking for in vehicles is fuel economy and ecological friendliness. The expectation of cars costing less due to surprisingly high quality offerings from low-price manufacturers such as Hyundai and Kia are further shaking things up in the automotive world.

Trends to smaller, efficient vehicles are now the growth industry for automotive manufacturers in the United States. Alternative fuel offerings are also a potential growth industry as demonstrated by the demand for EVs(rebates are exceeding available funds) and the trend to using Biodiesel when it's possible. This is a trend that has been evident in Europe over the past decade with the success of the Smart Car, the Mini Cooper, and Vespa scooters - all companies that are currently pushing into the USA market from European markets to meet the new small vehicle demand.

It will be interesting to see how Nissan's value offering turns out as it takes advantages of its holdings in the budget design and manufacturing of sibling company Renault. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how this affects the Nissan brand and the bottom line for Nissan's profits.

What is Digg?

From Tom Dickman and MarketingProfs-

Yahoo Expands Into Bellevue

In an effort to compete for talent against Microsoft and Google, Yahoo has decided to set up a R&D office in Bellevue, WA. The office will have a capacity of 600 employees.

The real estate market has finally cooled off a little in the greater Seattle area. But luxo condo are still popping up faster than mushrooms in Bellevue. New condos follow new office buildings, don't they?

Virtual Worlds: The Answer is NOT Second Life.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article titled, "Marketers Explore Virtual Worlds."

The interesting part is this-

The top five virtual worlds ranked by total number of visitors are- Webkins, Clubpenguin, Zwinky, Neopets and Millsberry.

The common thread? Kids, of course.

P.S.: Second Life came in at number 12!

Still more posts on Radiohead.

As I had indicated earlier,
we discussed the Radiohead experiment where users where invited to set the price for an album. Later, we learnt that this was a successful experiment raking in $6-10 million for the band.

Everybody now seems to be talking about this. Here are a few interesting links-

Free? Steal It Anyway (

This article provides interesting numbers-

240,000 downloads on BitTorrent on day 1 of release.
100,000 downloads on BitTorrent for each day after release.
1.2 million online sales.

A Look at Anti-Marketing in the Radio Industry.

Fascinating article that describes how small bands can use this strategy to gain acceptance.

Cash at the End of Radiohead's Rainbow?

This article summarizes what we know about this phenomenon. Describes an interesting phenomenon called rickrolling!

Interesting paper.

Viewing Brands in Multiple Dimensions
Pierre Berthon, Morris B. Holbrook, James M. Hulbert and Leyland Pitt
Sloan Management Review, Winter 2007, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 37-43


Contrary to the beliefs of many managers, their companies’ product and corporate brands cannot truly be managed, much less owned. That much has become clear in recent years as many well-known brands have seemed to take on lives of their own, changing in the minds of many even though management may think of them as immutable.

In this article, the authors introduce the concept of a “brand manifold” in order to bring out two overlooked factors: first, that brands have multiple dimensions depending on who is valuing them, and second, that those dimensions change in space and time. Drawing on automotive industry examples such as Maybach, Morgan, and BMW’s Mini, the authors demonstrate the importance of managing a brand’s evolution so that the brand does not lose its roots in the past.

The article goes on to highlight the importance of understanding that brands have a life and meaning independent of what their initiators intended — as embodied by the thriving user community around Apple Computer’s long-obsolete Newton handheld and evident in the influence of Harley-Davidson owners over many of the company’s strategic decisions.

Should the Internet be taxed (in the US)?

The Internet has not been taxed thus far. However, that might change. On November 1, 2007, the moratorium on this will expire. A new coalition that includes companies such as, eBay and Google is fighting this and suggesting that the Internet should continue to be tax-free.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The 3-second Rule.

If they don't get it in three seconds, your campaign will fail! Read more HERE.

How Marketers Are Using Blogs to Get Their Message Across.

Blogs are, increasingly, becoming a part of the marketing campaigns of large companies.

Washington Post article discusses how bloggers are increasingly turning into ghost writers shilling for products. The article covers a company called Chitika which seems to be similar to companies such as PayPerPost. Excerpt-

Over the past few years, a number of businesses have been connecting bloggers with advertisers who recognize how the cross-linking that goes on in the blogosphere can be a good way to spread the word about their products. Some advertisers have covertly tried to generate buzz with bloggers with under-the-table payments. But newer firms are starting to move their online marketing into the mainstream, with full disclosure from bloggers and a willingness among advertisers to accept that not all reviews or buzz will be favorable.

And the potential is there for these blogger-advertiser relationships to keep growing is there. There are 63.2 million blogs on the Internet, with 175,000 new ones every day, according to Technorati, an Internet firm that serves as a search engine for blogs. But the vast majority of bloggers -- 85 percent, according to a 2006 survey by Pew Internet & American Life Project -- don't tap out their thoughts and opinions to make money.

Chitika (pronounced CHIT-i-ka) is one of the companies connecting the two sides, paying people who feature images of products on their blog. Bloggers select the products they want to place on their sites and are paid a few cents each time someone clicks on an image, which links to another Web site about the product.

The site works well for blogs that review or discuss consumer electronics products, for example, but Chitika executives say it is branching into other popular online shopping areas, such as clothing, food and beauty products.

"We are all about blog dollars," said Chitika's chief executive, Venkat Kolluri. "Bloggers just love this model. They recognize that rather than blast the name of an advertiser, they can add value by presenting a product they're [already] endorsing."

Hilarious German Commercial

New Yorker Animation

I am sure many marketing practitioners can relate to THIS.

Is Unilever sexist?

An article in the LA Times asks if Unilever is sexist. While the company runs a women-friendly ad campaign for Dove, it runs a campaign that some find degrading for Axe. This anti-Unilever effort is being spearheaded by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Social Awareness Ads from India

Welcome to the Neighborhood

NYT reports that a NY company creates social networking websites for apartment buildings. Now you can be neighborly even when you don't live next door.

Tube with a filter!

Last week YouTube introduced filtering tools to crack down on the sharing of video without authorization. But how efficient these tools are? Is this going to help Google fighting its legal battle with Viacom? Or could this be the end of YouTube?

BBC Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK

Video site YouTube is launching filtering tools to clamp down on the sharing of video without permission.

The tools, called Video Identification, will block copyright material from appearing and spreading on the site.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, is currently fighting a billion-dollar legal battle with Viacom over the spread of pirated files.

The firm says it currently removes copyright works when it has been told of their existence on the website.

The new tools, which are being tested, also give copyright owners the chance to leave their video on the service and to sell advertising around the content.

Google and YouTube began working on the copyright protection technology six months ago and have partnered with Walt Disney and Time Warner in testing the tools.

"It has taken until now to get it right," said David King, a product manager at YouTube.

A statement released by the company said: "Video Identification is brand-new, cutting-edge stuff. Early tests with content companies have shown very promising results."

Viacom said it was still too early to tell if the new tools will affect the legal action.

"We are delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of infringement," said Mike Fricklas, Viacom's general counsel.

The new tools require the cooperation of copyright holders who must provide YouTube with copies of material in order for the firm to compare the files with videos on the site.

"We really need the content community to work with us," Mr King said. "We need them to help us help them."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

How will marketing be different in 2017?

Here is an open question to this community:

What are the major trends that will affect marketing in the next ten years? How will the practice of marketing change? How will marketing education change? How will marketing research change?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Radiohead's experiment successful- $6-10 million!

A few days ago, we discussed the Radiohead experiment where users where invited to set the price for an album. Now, we learn that this was a successful experiment raking in $6-10 million for the band.

Consumerism- the Musical.

Category First, Brand Next.

Al Ries has been saying this for years now. His argument is simple- categories are more important than brands.

Mobile Marketing 101

Interesting presentation on marketing on mobile devices.

Amazing Ad from Cadburys Chocolate in the UK.

Gorilla marketing!

Definitive Proof that Advertising Works.

Here's the audio link.

"Morning Edition, October 16, 2007 · A woman was allegedly involved in a family fight. She placed an ad on the Web site It invited people to come to her aunt's house and "take whatever you want." People did. They removed almost everything, including the picture window and the kitchen sink. Nichole Blackwell pleaded guilty to malicious mischief. But her lawyer says it was just a typo. She only wanted people to take stuff outside the house."

comScore releases top 50 Web Properties for September 2007

Yahoo is # 1. The number next to each property refers to the total number of visitors in September 2007 in thousands. Surprises? I don't see MySpace (or News Corp).

1 Yahoo! Sites 135,578
2 Google Sites 129,508
3 Time Warner Network 121,894
4 Microsoft Sites 119,193
5 Fox Interactive Media 79, 951
6 eBay 78,105
7 Amazon Sites 53,803
8 Wikipedia Sites 52,800
9 Ask Network 51,723
10 New York Times
Digital 45,276
11 Viacom Digital 44,300
12 Apple Inc. 43,122
13 Weather Channel, The 37,571
14 CNET Networks 32,687
15 Adobe Sites 30,847
16 FACEBOOK.COM 30,601
17 CBS Corporation 30,118
18 Gorilla Nation 30,097
19 Target Corporation 28,749
20 AT&T, Inc. 28,301
21 Wal-Mart 27,036
22 Monster Worldwide 25,615
23 Expedia Inc 25,058
24 ESPN 24,168
25 Comcast Corporation 24,007
26 Verizon Communications
Corporation 23,982
28 Bank of America 22,997
29 United Online, Inc 22,908
Network 22,808
31 CareerBuilder LLC 22,507
32 Glam Media 22,421
33 Sites 22,272
34 LLC 21,349
35 Disney Online 21,343
36 Gannett Sites 20,829
37 Lycos Sites 20,273
38 Network 19,998
Network 18,980
40 The
Womens Network 18,837
41 WebMD Health 18,366
42 NFL Internet Group 18,081
43 ARTISTdirect Network 17,829
44 NBC Universal 17,132
45 E.W. Scripps 17,080
46 Weatherbug Property 16,772
47 The Mozilla
Organization 16,724
48 Cox Enterprises Inc. 16,224
49 EA Online 15,784
50 Sites 15,660

The World of Steve Ballmer

Google = one-trick pony

Microsoft Search = precocious toddler

Full story here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Supermarket Secrets- a UK documentary.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Amazon vs. iTunes. is offering its associates 20% commission for MP3 download! At the same time, Farhad Manjoo has a great post discussing how iTunes has reduced its DRM-free price to 99 cents.

The Motley Fool thinks that all this will not affect Apple.

Articles that are critical of Google.

The number of articles that are critical of Google are on the rise.

This article in Slate points out that Google has way too much information about way too many people. Excerpt-

"I am presently a happy user of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Chat, Google Groups, Google Video, and Google Notebook (which I use to clip interesting things online). I also love Google Desktop, which has indexed the contents of my computer. What has Google made of all this information? If they wanted, they could know my friends, my family, my weakness for homemade YouTube soccer highlights. They could know what car I drive, where I drive it to, and where I shop. They definitely know what blogs I read and how often I read them. They took a picture of the building where I live. They just started a 411 service that will give them my voice. They're making me a mobile phone. The attention they've lavished on me would be flattering, if it weren't so vaguely menacing. I'm not alone in this feeling."

A recent article also pointed out the problems with Google's AdSense system. Excerpt follows-

Here is a top 10 list of what Google does not reveal.

1. Google does not tell advertisers where exactly their ad will get placed.
2. Google does not tell some publishers why exactly they shut them down.
3. Google does not share any network-level performance figures.
4. Google does not provide any information about how overall click rates have changed over time.
5. Google does not share any information on who clicked on the ads.
6. Google does not reveal what leads to higher placement among paid ads.
7. Google does not reveal how exactly it evaluates the quality of a text ad, i.e., the Quality Score. According to Google, the formula varies depending on whether it's calculating minimum bids or assigning ad position.
8. Google does not tell advertisers what countries the users come from.
9. Google never tells publishers why they got paid a certain amount.
10. Google does not publish any research on ad effectiveness.

Will Google change its practices in response to these articles?

Great Post by Nik Dholakia on his blog.


" Corporate tip-toeing inside Virtual Worlds

There is growing evidence of corporate tip-toeing inside and around virtual worlds. Corporate brands are testing the waters of YouTube, Blogs, Mataverses, Online Games, and such. The new virtual spaces are growing, in population and popularity. If left untouched, the savvy competitors may steal a march on you -- in the virtual world. In political marketing, the risk tolerance of some players is high. The outlier political candidate can hope to create a stir not just in the new but perhaps in the mainstream media by opening up a front on Second Life (SL) or similar space.


Read more here.

How to Write a Great Research Paper.

Here is an excellent presentation on the topic by Simon Peyton Jones, Microsoft Research, Cambridge.

How will marketing be different in 2017?

Here is an open question to this community:

What are the major trends that will affect marketing in the next ten years? How will the practice of marketing change? How will marketing education change? How will marketing research change?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Weird Al Yankovic on eBay!

This video was commissioned by eBay, I believe. Hilarious!

Apple vs. Mac Ad Compilation

Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights

Interesting talk by Seth Godin. Warning: it is about 18 minutes long.

How to Sell Soap

Dilbert on Marketing.

The Dilbert cartoon strip has consistently made fun of marketing. I have attached the three most recent examples below. I happen to believe that this seriously affects our discipline and I, for one, am sick and tired of MBA students arguing that this really represents the truth. I use these images in my presentations all the time. It makes for a great class.

Please click on the image to make it larger.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Online Advertising is becoming Consumer Behavior's Best Friend

My name is Lee Miller. Here is a story in the NYT detailing how 1,200 people who attended the 97th annual conference of the Association of National Advertisers heard speaker after speaker address the growing popularity of behavioral targeting (an advertising methodology in which an advertiser’s creative is shown to consumers based on the websites consumers visit and/or what the consumer does on those websites), as opposed to basing pitches on consumer attitudes, opinions or perceptions. Interesting stuff.

What Women Want

From Alex Halavais-

An article over on AdAge reported yesterday the results of Anderson Analytics' annual survey of college students' brand affinities and media use. Among the clear winners: Apple, Target, and Facebook. Kind of makes me wonder why I don't see more iTunes on Facebook (though I have seen a lot of Target ads).

They suggest that online social networking is by-and-large a women's thing--that they are the "über networkers" among the college-aged crowd--an observation that jibs with what I've seen in my classes. It makes you wonder whether markets that are more male dominated are more easily reached by traditional broadcast means. Or, to turn that around, whether traditionally male-dominated areas (many of my students work for ESPN, which has, I assume, a heavily male and possibly younger), are missing a market because they haven't managed to engage social networks.

Also interesting was that Digg ranked as a favorite among male college students. It's not a surprise, exactly, but I still think of Digg as a relatively niche site, even though the traffic is huge. I wonder what portion of that traffic is 18-22 years old males. There is a self-perception among "Digggers" that it is also a heavily male crowd.

The article reminds us that this crowd tends to shape the consumption of others--older and younger--and so tends to be of special importance. Traditionally, it has been the males in this group who have been seen as prime targets, but if the women are more networky, making them into brand evangelists could have a much more substantial effect...

Radiohead Fans to Pick the Cost of the New Album.

From Marwan Khammash-

If you are a Radiohead fan, you can choose how much you pay for their album. They managed to cut out the middle-man. But do you think it's a one-off attempt? Or is this a new business model that the music industry has to follow in order to survive? If you are given the choice, how much will you pay?

BBC News Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK

Radiohead fans are able to choose how much to pay for the band's next album, In Rainbows, which is available for download on 10 October.

Instead of listing a price for the music, the group's website simply states "it's up to you" - and then adds: "No really, it's up to you."

The announcement was made online by guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

Fans can buy the download or a £40 "discbox", which includes two CDs, two records, plus artwork and booklets.

Critical acclaim

Traffic to the site has made access difficult for fans at times, but the band's spokesman said it was being worked on.

This is Radiohead's seventh album, but it is their first without a record label, having fulfilled their contract with EMI following 2003's Hail to the Thief.

The band are now "talking to a number of record companies" about releasing the album in a physical format early next year, their spokesman said. EMI are among the companies they are talking to, he added.

The group have received critical acclaim for their previous albums, which have sold millions on both sides of the Atlantic.

They are regarded by some music critics as the world's best rock band.

The digital market is continuing to grow, with a 50% increase in digital single purchases in the first six months of the year, the BPI said in July.

But downloads still only account for 10 to 20% of the overall music market, and that figure includes formats such as ringtones.

Why I Stopped Being A Loyal Starbucks Customer.

I used to be a loyal Starbucks customer. Every morning, I trudged to my local store where my favorite team of baristas concocted a brew that I loved. Yet, I am sad to report that I have stopped this pattern. I am no longer a loyal Starbucks customer.

In order to understand my decision, you need to first accept the fact that Starbucks simply does not take good care of its customers who order drip coffee. These customers are typically heavy drinkers and predominantly male. They tend to drink a large cup of coffee in the morning to get a jump start. These customers have always been treated as second-class.

The evidence for this comes from many places.

First, the new drip coffee brewing machines take way too long to brew coffee. If the coffee you want is not available, you have to wait four and a half minutes- four minutes for it to brew and 30 seconds for an energetic barista to jettison the lukewarm coffee and load the new batch. This is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Second, some of us have frequented Starbucks for its mild drip coffee. This has proven to be a fool's errand. The demand for mild drip coffee is low. As a result, baristas are likely to not want to brew it at regular intervals. In the location I frequented, it was most common for me to not have mild drip coffee available when I arrived. The baristas were nice and offered to make me a new batch which would take the aforementioned 4.5 minutes.

Third, on more than two occasions, I was served lukewarm drip coffee. If I am paying Starbucks money for drip coffee, I demand hot coffee. The lukewarm coffee is a joke. I had to draw the attention of the barista who brewed another batch for me in 4.5 minutes.

In addition to these reasons, Starbucks has surreptitiously increased the price of drip coffee. At this point, in the Seattle area, I believe a grande drip goes for $1.91. Only a few months back, this was $1.75.

I was recently in New York. What a place! In any case, I found this place there called Guy and Gallard that has unbelievable coffee. I wish they were in Seattle.

As for Starbucks, I think they have lost their commitment to the customer. I worry about their future.