Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Affordable Healthcare in Rhode Island

A group of Rhode Island doctors have decided to combat the rising costs of primary healthcare with their HealthAccessRI plan. HealthAccessRI is a monthly subscription service to a primary care physician for “‘less than the cost of a cell phone, less than the cost of cable TV, less than the cost of high-speed Internet,’” according to founding doctor Michael Fine. Fine and a group of likeminded doctors have setup a system that allows for affordable doctor visits without insurance or government involvement.

HealthAccessRI solely covers access to primary care physicians and does not cover other things such as hospital stays, x-rays, or other more serious procedures. Arguing that these are the things that should be covered by the insurance companies Dr. James M. Schwartz contends:

Today’s health-care financing perverts the original concept of insurance, which was supposed to pay for catastrophes, he says. “No auto insurance sells you a plan that covers oil changes and tune-ups,” he says. The current system has also harmed primary care, Schwartz argues, by paying doctors per visit, making it financially difficult to give patients the attention they need. HealthAccessRI gives doctors a steady, predictable income to cover predictable costs.

I think that HealthAccessRI is an interesting experiment that requires further investigation. I would love to have the option to pay for such a service while holding a significantly cheaper health insurance policy which would be reserved primarily for catastrophes and things other than primary care.
You can read the full article here.
Also posted on Ethereal Madness.
& Living Large on Less

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dove beauty campaign

In the past months Dove has created a campaign for "real beauty" portraying women of all sizes, not the typical size 0 model. I think that Dove has a great marketing stratgey on their hands. Their products are targeted at the majority rather than the minority of the population. Every women wants to feel beautiful and Dove is sending out a great message that beauty just isn't obtainbable in a size 0 body. I especially like this commercial in particular because it shows that models aren't perfect either. The perfect women isn't obtainable, they are actually created through photoshop where the models are enhanced. In actuality, to be supermodel pretty is unrealistic, models are not even perfect by any means.

Ronald Teaches DDR

Again and again I'm reminded how different the culture between nations can be. Here in the States, you probably wouldn't see Ronald McDonald leading a DDR example but in other countries he's (or at least McDonald's) is view in a much better light.

This video shows an interesting form of marketing. Having Ronald lead the tutorial of a very popular game type further cements people's appreciation of McDonald's as a company as it appeals to a large segment of the population.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The future of Marketing

Mobile Marketing Revenue to Hit $24 Billion in 2013, says ABI Research

Although mobile marketing revenue is at a mere $1.8 billion last year (2007), ABI projects a gigantic shift in marketing strategies in the next five years.

"The clear difference in this market over the past twelve months has been the embrace of mobile marketing as an integral part of cross-media brand campaigns," says ABI Research director Michael Wolf. "Mobile is no longer off-limits in the minds of advertisers, but is instead seen as a very personal way to reach consumers who can be incentivized through information services and compelling content, as well as through more directly relevant and targeted messaging."

While they point out that this is a largely unexplored idea to date ("Wild West" is their term), more and more people are switching to flat rate data plans with unlimited text and multimedia messaging, and spending more and more time on their phones conducting business.

What I wonder about, and find slightly scary, is will they will able to track individuals' online phone browsing history and market products specifically to their interests? A notion that is slightly hinted at but not really talked about in depth.

With Tivo fastforwarding through TV commercials, Satellite Radio having no commercials, Spam controls filtering our emails, it appears our cell phones are the next marketing and advertising target. What's next?

Super Bowl Advertising

With the Super Bowl coming up next weekend many are starting to think about what companies will do next with their 30 second ad spots.  The article titled "Companies Banking on Super Bowl Ads", that I found in the Seattle Times outlines the reasons why companies invest so much in these ads.  


A 30 second spot this year will cost $2.7 million dollars, and is expected to reach over 90 million viewers.  The high price is not a concern for many companies who relish the opportunity to reach that many viewers with one ad.  Some like Coke think it is "critical" to get their message out, but to me it seems like a very steep price to pay with so many other mediums out there today to advertise. 

Friday, January 25, 2008

YouTube opens door to its video library

This article is for all the YouTube fans. According to YouTube most people equipped with the latest generation of mobile phones will be able to peruse tens of millions of YouTube videos. So now you can easily see all videos by a click on your cellphone. What do you all think, will this idea work?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Superbowl advertisement targeted to hearing impared

The original article I read was:

This article is about the following advertisement scheduled to play at the super bowl:

I found this idea behind this article to be fascinating. I think the idea of cross over appeal between an niche segment of the market and the majority in addition to the entertainment potential of this idea really show creativity and will yield great results.

Obviously Pepsi is also trying to push its enabled platform through this advertising. The following article is about Pepsi and why they made it and about the making of it: and

I think the weakest part of it is actually tying Pepsi into the add. Sure the driver of the car takes a swig but I missed that until I specifically went looking for it.

It is an interseting to consider how effective that will be compared to their last superbowl add:

I think that advertisement definitly had more of an ability to showcase their brand and product.

It is also interesting to note both of the adds play heavily into humor, with the poor awakened people in the first video and the burned burgers and distracted Coca-cola employees in the second.

The Britney add seems more more consistent with Pepsi's advertising history such as the Cindy C add here:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Whole Foods will stop using plastic bags

Whole Foods will stop using plastic bags, instead giving customers a choice between reusable bags or recycled paper. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The Whole Foods Market chain said Tuesday that it would stop offering plastic grocery bags, giving customers instead a choice between recycled paper or reusable bags.

A rising number of governments and retailers, including PCC Natural Markets in the Seattle area, are banning plastic bags, or discouraging their use, because of concerns about their environmental effect.

Unilever creates contradicting marketing campaigns

I was reading on one of my favorite sites
about Unilever, which we all know makes several products including Dove soaps and Axe products. Although they are both bath and body products, they have completely opposite ad campaigns, which possibly contradict one another. Dove's "campaign for real beauty" is all about making women feel comfortable with their skin and bodies. The commercials feature regular looking women of all body shapes and ages, wearing little to no make-up and conveying the message that you are beautiful no matter what.

(I wanted to post a youtube here but for some reason, can't do it. It is called "Dove Evolution" and is a great commercial for the dove campaign. Check it out!)

The Axe campaign is just the opposite, and some would even say degrading to women, making girls look cheap and easy. The women in these commercials wear very little clothing and will do anything for a guy that uses Axe products.

Just a note on the website above, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is a great organization with the purpose of calling businesses out on the unfair targeting of children. I have a daughter, so I am very sensitive to these issues and this organization is successful in stopping harmful (sexist, unhealthy, etc.) campaigns. Everyone should check it out, especially those with kids!

Wal-Mart: the jolly 'green' giant?

After talking about organic/fair trade and other "green"  attributes today in class, it seemed only fitting to share this info I found from an article pertaining to Wal-Mart's new campaign for sustainability in its building design and product supply. The following video provides a few examples of what the company is pursuing. (Click on the title above to link to the original msn article.)

Question: Do you think it is ethical for Wal-Mart to market itself as eco-friendly sustainable when the majority of its green efforts have come from simply adding organic foods to their supply? Things to consider:

--  Are they REPLACING conventional (non-organic) products with organic alternatives or just ADDING organics on top of the goods they already purchase?  
--  If Wal-Mart is purchasing its organic products from the same national brands from which it gets its conventional products, does that really make a commendable difference? (ex: Smuckers peanut butter vs. Smuckers "organic" peanut butter...... comes from the same company, likely travels the same distance worldwide to get to the multitude of Wal-Marts...carbon footprint issues?)

Here's a more radical opinion of what might *really* be happening, just to play devil's advocate!

  Where do you stand on this issue in terms of Wal-Mart's use of green marketing?? What effect will this have on consumers - will it be successful for Wal-Mart in the short/long run?

Funny yet somewhat provacative Citibank commercial

I really like this commercial, because it is really funny and gets stuck in your head. When they were playing it frequently, I had the whole commercial memorized because I thought it was so great. Also the fact that they had a lot of different commercials like these, it made it even better. In posting this commercial, I would also like to address the discussion we had in class last week about sexuality on TV. I felt this commercial was a little provocative in the sense that it talks about women's sexy lingerie, but the fact that the voice is coming out of an older man, takes away that whole sexy message. I think that this commercial gives Citibank a lot of attention, it is memorable, but without subjecting us all to a sexy model in the commercial. Just something to think about.

When marketing a good idea goes too far

I don't drink a lot of coffee, and the other day at the bank the teller gave me a coupon for Starbucks' new "skinny" latte, implying a low calorie, healthier alternative to coffee. It got me thinking when I saw the coupon, that there must be some people that are slightly upset with the word choice Starbucks decided to use. I know that if it occured to me, it had to have occured to someone else as well, especially individuals larger than myself. I got online and found a couple of articles regarding this issue, confirming that I wasn't the only one who thought this was slightly upsetting. I am, in all honesty, not bothered by this, but I think that they have taken a good concept, and poorly marketed it, causing somewhat of a disturbance in the coffee world. This article talks about the word choice with their marketing campaign and worth the read. Especially with today's world very concerned with healthier choices, and (as we are talking about right now in class) organic alternatives. Inside of this article is also a link to a letter from a Starbucks barista who was the original person to speak up about their word choice for this new product. In her letter she states that she refuses to use this new marketing campaign and won't promote this product. Interesting that the first to speak up about being upset about this was from within.

Nike: Leave Nothing

This is my favorite commercial. I just wanted to share it with you guys. Nike's Leave Nothing commercial.

Truth in Advertising? Starbucks' "short" $1 coffee

NPR and the Wall Street Journal report that Starbucks is testing a $1.00 cup of coffee in certain Seattle stores. The cup is being labeled as "short." The bargain does not seem quite as extreme when one considers that a cup like this would normally sell for $1.50--still over-priced for a cup of coffee, but not a price we would normally consider Starbucks league.

This move is reportedly motivated by declining sales. An interesting question, however, is what types of people this cup will attract. Will sales of this item come at the expense of the more expensive concoctions, or will this (1) motivate more people not in the habit of going out for coffee to go for the prestige and mystique of Starbucks, (2) come at the expense of other establishments, or (3) encourage current Starbucks customers to "trade down," or (4) replace current higher end items at Starbucks that would have "drifted" to lower priced establishments in the near future?

One interesting issue is the effect on capacity. In addition to the cost of the coffee at Starbucks, those who show up at peak hours also frequently end up in long lines. Will these low margin sales contribute to longer lines? It may be that one benefit of these lower priced items is that they will be quick to serve. The WSJ reports that Starbucks is also experimenting with free refills at some locations. It is not clear if the $1.00 beverages are included in this. If so, this may cause a lot of people to "hang around" at Starbucks to get the refill, taking up tables. In some areas, this could be a problem at some times. At peak hours, however, much of the business seems to be to go orders, so the "low enders" may not end up crowding out the higher end patrons.

An interesting issue is "margin arithmetic," the question of how many "short" sales are needed to make up for the loss of one "tall," "grande," or "venti" sale. The margin on a $1.00 drink is limited, unless it spurs the buying of some over-priced muffin or bagel. This leaves the question of costs--or, more precisely, marginal costs--of serving this beverage. With economies of scale and limited pressures on capacity, the margins may be decent. There is also the possibility that the new offering will make Starbucks affordable to certain teenagers and other groups who may later, with increasing affluence, "graduate" to the more expensive items.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

McDonald's Happy Meal Ad

I really like this commercial. It's something new and it's pretty funny.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Starbucks vs. McDonalds

Many of you have heard by now about the 'brewing battle' between Starbucks and McDonald's for the gourmet coffee market. McDonald's will hire baristas and begin serving lattes, mochas, espressos and cappuccinos in some of its locations (how does a McMocha sound?). This article touches on the difference between the McDonald's and Starbucks customer base and whether McDonald's can attract some of Starbucks' customers to its restaurants. This reminds me of a statement our classmate shared, about the difficulty of a brand to change people's minds once it is deemed as inferior (i.e., Kia). Since this is a blog for a college class, most of the readers will fall closer to the Starbucks customer base than McDonald's. Will any of you now visit Mickey D's for a cup of coffee and a Big Mac (it was evident that 99% of you were not big fans of the place)? Or will you stick to Starbucks and pay for its 'gourmet' sandwiches?

Friday, January 18, 2008

FDA Clears "Intelence" for treatment of HIV

The potential for these drugs is amazing. The primary purpose of this drug is an additional medication for those who have developed resistance.

According to this article, ( "Tens of thousands of patients worldwide have resistance to NNRTIs and could be candidates for Intelence" Using their data that "The drug's wholesale cost will be $5.45 per tablet" and the information that "The approved dosing is two tablets twice per day, or a total of four tablets daily." this works out to $21.8 per day or $7957 dollars a year per person! If there are tens of thousands (so at least 20 thousand) people who are resistant that is $159.14 million dollars a year for this drug alone which they can expect to receive for the rest of the patients life. Considering this over the 20 year patent life of their drug and we determine that this single drug could net over 3.2 billion dollars even if the resistance rate does not increase. Considering every year there are more new infections than the previous year and further considering that according to the article "Close to 40 million people are infected with HIV" the market potential for these drugs is mind boggling.

None the less according to the article "Experts Rethinking Billions Spent on Aids" ( there is great public controversy over the money being spent on fighting AIDS and there is an increasing push to spend money wisely because "Problems like malnutrition, pneumonia and malaria kill more children in Africa than AIDS.

I would like to ask the simple question, "If one single drug nets 3.2 billion dollars in revenue can't we look at Aids spending (at least is it pertains to research and development) as an "Investment" rather than an "Expense?"

Sexuality in Advertising...when is it appropriate?

On Monday we had a discussion in class about sexuality being used in advertisements. I think maybe a little subtle sexuality is okay, but here is a video of a ridiculous use of it:

This video has nothing to do with a hamburger from Carls Jr, except that Paris Hilton is eating one. We can tell the marketers were trying to use a popular celebrity to promote their spicy burger, but the entire video is quite distasteful and inappropriate, therefore ineffective! Most women would not appreciate this type of advertising. The setting is dark and looks like a car garage. First impression would be that this was an import car commercial, almost pornographic! To tell the truth, I'm not craving a Carl's Jr burger right now.

I don't completely disagree with the use of sexuality in advertising, I just have opinions of the levels of it. For example, we all remember Britney Spears' Superbowl Pepsi commercial. In this ad, Pepsi used a very popular music star and incorporated some Hip-Hop dance to it. They are appealing to the younger generation through music and dance; this commercial is attractive to both men and women. I actually think this ad is more effective because its fun and not sexually degrading in any way.

Sprint is Getting Rid of 4,000 jobs in the US!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint is eliminating 4000 jobs largely due to its inability to attract and retain customers. Consider these numbers from the article-

In Q4, 2007, the company-
1- Lost 683,000 customers who had signed annual contracts.
2- Lost 202,000 pre-paid customers.
3- At the same time, they were able to attract 776,000 customers through partners.
4- Importantly, the company has been losing high-value customers.

Why is this happening? Sprint attracted too many low-end customers with bad credit. These people are now having a tough time keeping up with their phone bills.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Most Popular Vehicles of 2007

Despite the record gas prices, Americans still prefer their trucks with Ford’s F-series taking the #1 spot for the 26th straight year.

1. Ford F-series – 650,589

2. Chevy Silverado – 618,257

3. Toyota Camry – 473,108

4. Honda Accord – 388,826

5. Toyota Matrix – 371,390

6. Dodge Ram – 358,295

7. Chevrolet Impala – 311,128

8. Honda Civic – 298,520

9. Nissan Altima – 276,362

10. Honda CR-V – 219,160

With the exception of their trucks, Americans still prefer Asian-designed vehicles over domestic designs.

Source: The Detroit News
Also posted on Ethereal Madness

The file drawer effect

"Researchers call it the "file drawer effect" — the quiet filing away of disappointing medical experiments"

I came across this article earlier "Many unfavorable drug studies aren’t published" ( Jan 16th 2007, which is certainly not the first I have heard of this topic. All the way back in 2000 the USA today wrote Filed under F (for forgotten) (May 17th 2001 which basically describes the scenario where unfavorable drug studies are simply discarded.

In the second article Sidney Wolfe of the Public Citizen Health Research Group asks "How can the public believe drug companies if they only release data from studies with results palatable to company executives, stockholders or potential stockholders?" I think that is a very valid question to ask.

Another question is "if a drug doesn't work why do people take it?" Is it possible that if a company spends enough money marketing their drug people will believe it works regardless of its clinical efficacy?

The United States is one of only two countries that allows direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs. (

In the article "Creating Demand for Prescription Drugs: A Content Analysis of Television Direct-to-Consumer Advertising" when doctors considered the controversy surrounding this practice for the Annals of Family Medicine, they concluded "Despite claims that ads serve an educational purpose, they provide limited information about the causes of a disease or who may be at risk; they show characters that have lost control over their social, emotional, or physical lives without the medication; and they minimize the value of health promotion through lifestyle changes. The ads have limited educational value and may oversell the benefits of drugs in ways that might conflict with promoting population health. "

Marketing is a power tool that can directly influence consumer behavior and choice. In my opinion there should be specific limits on what can be advertised and if information is gather and published, it should be published in its entirety not selectively to promote the companies financial interests.

If a system was created whereby scientifically conducted double blind studies were recorded by a government agency before and after completion this would create a process to authenticate successful studies and would prevent the destruction of studies which were unfavorable to the companies interest. I think this is especially important when safety or efficacy studies are paid for by the company that stands to gain from their success or approval.

"Don't Fight Mondays" from

This ad takes a new slant on one of the oldest problems for any employee, hating your job. The ad is attention grabbing by keeping the product withheld until the final moments of the one minute spot.

Microsoft Responds to Customer After 10 Years!

Fascinating post about how Microsoft responded to a customer request after 10 years!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So I recall being prompted in class to find out where Zaba gets its information, and post it to the blog, however nobody has done so, so for safety's sake I'm going to throw down what Brian and I found...

"The company claims that all of the information accessible on the site is/was already extant on the Internet on many government or corporate databases the likes of which could (usually) already be accessed piecemeal by the general public. As such, they claim that the site fosters nothing new except the convenience of gathering the data automatically and is not suited for use by potential identity thieves."

This is as close as I could come to finding out where they get their info from, although it's not concrete...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Do you buy wine just because it has an expensive label?

Researchers at California Institute of Technology have shown that a person's enjoyment of wine can be heightened if they are simply told that it is an expensive one...What do you think? Do you buy wine just because it has an expensive label? Do you buy anything else just because it has an expensive label?

By Kathryn Westcott
BBC News 14/January/2008

Twenty-one volunteers were asked to sample different bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and rate the ones they preferred.

The only information they were given was the price of the wine - but in a number of cases, they were not told the real price. In one case, the volunteers were given two identical red wines to drink and were told that one cost much less than the other.

Most described the "higher priced" wine as much more enjoyable.

Researchers also managed to pass off a $90 (£46) bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon as a $10 bottle and presented a $5 as one worth $45.

The volunteers' brains were scanned to monitor the neural activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex - the area of the brain associated with decision-making and pleasure in terms of flavour. Higher ratings were given to the more "expensive" wines.

Antonio Rangel, who led the research team, told the BBC News website that the experiment showed how "expectation can affect the actual encoding of the pleasantness of the experience."

Oliver Johnson, CEO of the UK-based Wine Society, says this response was common with certain prestige products such as clothing, cars and, nowadays, handbags.

"In this case, the volunteers appeared to have been associating the price of the wine with prestige - they were expecting it to be a good vintage, with a good label, even though they didn't have that information," said Mr Johnson.

He told the BBC News website that while for most people wine is not normally a luxury item - more of a "grocery product" - there are people who would happily pay over the odds for a bottle with a cult label.

"There are top clarets, for example, where the price is out of line with the quality. The quality is fabulous but we are not sure that this is reflected in the pricing."

He says this indicates that for many people wine is now a status symbol. "It's premium brand time in some places."

In October 2001, a number of City dealers paid up to £12,300 for a bottle for wine at a top London restaurant.

But Mr Johnson says that not everyone is going to enjoy a bottle of wine just because it has an expensive price tag.

"It can work two ways," he says. "On the one hand some people will enjoy the wine simply because they know it is expensive, on the other, there are those who will be disappointed. They could get their hopes up by being told that the wine is expensive, only to have it dashed when it didn't match their expectations."

He says that no wine expert would have been fooled by the experiment.

"It's not difficult to get the price of wine about right. Less expensive wine is less interesting, the more money you pay, the more things are going on. Most people would have been able to tell the difference," he says.

Wine expert Jancis Robinson says she was not surprised to see that the research was carried out in California.

She argues that American attitudes to wine can be very different to those of the British wine-buying public.

"At least seven years ago, I was told by a sommelier at a top restaurant in California that he couldn't sell wine that was priced at under $100 at bottle," she says. "He was able to sell the same wine when he raised the price to more than $100."

She says that while the Americans love to spend and expensive wine is seen as a regular "reward" purchase, the British are always looking for a bargain.

"We have an innate fear of being fleeced," she says.

Dr Martin Yeomans, a reader in experimental psychology at the University of Sussex told the BBC that what the experiment appeared to show was how expectation can drive the sensory experience, to generate pleasure.

"Expectation is a huge part of wine appreciation," he says. "This shows how expectation can be set up by everything that happens before the wine is put in the mouth - the characteristics, the price, the vintage.

"And if this is congruent, then the experience is better than if you had not been given any information."

He says that it also shows how we can be "kind of fooled". And, he says, it demonstrates how, by heightening people's expectation, they could be seduced into spending more than they need to on a product such as wine.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marketing with Bluetooth technology

I was looking at different types of marketing strategies and found Proximity Media. It uses Bluetooth technology to direct advertisements to cell phones and laptops. Relevant information is sent within 100 meters. Coca Cola and Adidas are also using Proximity Media to help with advertising!! This can be an investment and very useful.

Grocery Coupons Go Digital

This is pretty interesting. Rather than using the traditional paper coupons, some grocery stores are now using paperless digital coupons to build customer loyalty.

Friday, January 11, 2008

How CDs died.

The Economist has a great article on how CDs are dying. Here is an excerpt-

IN 2006 EMI, the world's fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.


The full story is here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Geek Graffiti?

Weburbanist showcases seven rather "geeky" graffiti projects. Varying from geek content to more technology-driven methods, the projects are rather unique and show a different aspect to your traditional graffiti.

Taken from

World's Cheapest Car- $2500!

India's Tata Motors has launched the world's cheapest car- the Tata Nano. A lot of people are impressed by its mileage- 54 miles per gallon. Here are some links to news stories covering this event-

Tata Nano: the World's Cheapest Car (New York Times, registration required)

$2500 car unveiled in India (, tech community)

Google News Summary

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Whopper Freakout Analysis

Visit the web pages for Whopper Freakout and Burger King.

Based on what you see there and any other analysis address these questions by commenting to this post-

1- How would you evaluate the success of this initiative on the part of Burger King?

2- Do you think this helps Burger King gain a competitive edge over McDonalds and Wendy's? How?

3- How do you think the market will perceive Burger King differently as a result of this promotion?

4- Will this change the behavior of target consumers?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Great Tivo Ad

Here is a link to one of my more recent favorite ads...simple but funny.

New Classes

Never posted a BLOG before but what better time then now. Hope this class is fun and exciting. See you all on Wednesday.