Monday, August 29, 2005


Ours is a sponsorship society. Brands attach themselves to events, among other things, and pay for the opportunity. And the events use the funds for their purposes. In golf there's the AT&T Championship - what used to be called the Bing Crosby Pro-Am and Clambake - held at Pebble Beach and several surrounding courses in the Monterey area. NASCAR has Nextel and the Coca-Cola 500. And so on.

Pebble Beach is one of America's most famous and beautiful places, and it's often a site for a competition, an outing or event. For instance, this coming weekend there's a Senior, er, "Champion's Tour" event here benefiting The First Tee, the PGA Tour's and others' junior golf initiative. The name sponsor is Wal-Mart. The name of the event is the "Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach" (that's a mouthful). The problem comes when the Tour adds its sponsors. Let me show you:

So what you have is an event benefiting junior golf, and brought to you, in part, by a drug that corrects erectile disfunction. Oh, well.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I marvel at the WWW

Storm Williams sent me an article from WIRED recently that accounted for the dramatic growth of the web. It's exponential, really, and what's further amazing is how diverse it is.

Mine is virtually a web-based society. My data are uploaded, virtually all of my journal thoughts (including my blogs) are there. I have a Yahoo! 360 site I use for family communications (still in its infancy).

The web is critical to marketing too, and not just for research.... For our customers we look first at how their site is working, what it's doing for them, how it interacts with their selling, their marketing communications, their customers and employees. In many cases - most recently for Stanley Furniture's YoungAmerica - we recommend web mini-sites designed to perform specific functions, specific duties in their marketing scheme.

One of the cool things about some companies' use of the web is that it has become an end, a destination for their "traditional advertising." I opened Esquire this morning, and the first ad I saw was a sparse, photo-driven gatefold with the copy "Find the Art in the" (just like that, with the spaces between the words; it wasn't clear that it was a web address). When I pasted the address into my browser ... well, go there yourself and see what I found: LINK

It's a short film set to a tune by an unknown (to me) artist doing an old Tears for Fears song, "Mad World." There's no overt commercial purpose, just the "do-better" theme that there's art everywhere if we'll just look for it.

In our work for a private golf retreat featuring real estate, we're just about to embark on re-building what is currently a beautiful, but unworkable web site. We're approaching the web as the second best destination we can imagine a prospect coming to, after an actual site visit, of course. So the new site must - and it will - reflect and communicate the experience our member and/or real estate prospect will find there. I'm sure we'll employ the use of mini-sites that do specific duty. Stay tuned; I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Love comes ... and goes ... for the lovelorn

From my rip and report file, another (here's the first) blurb from the September 2005 Atlantic Monthly.

Seems John Hinckley, the guy who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has an upcoming hearing (September 19) to determine if he may now venture "beyond Washington, D.C., for the first time since he entered a mental hospital after the shooting...

"He would now like to visit [his parents'] home in Virginia. The judge in the case is concerned that because Hinckley - who shot Reagan in the throes of a romantic obsession with the actress Jodie Foster - recently ended his relationship with a fellow mental patient (who killed her ten-year-old daughter but was found not guilty by reason of insanity), this may not be the best time for him to be out and about."

Seems love is, truly, a many splendored thing when it comes to the insane.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More on Marketing ROI

This post in INC magazine does a better job than I have outlining the case for MROI and how it's getting easier to do.

Here's the basic pitch:

"Advertising has long been a sort of black art with a murky ROI, and for a simple reason: Clients rarely know for sure who sees their ads, let alone whether the ads influence anyone. Even though companies spend a third of a trillion dollars a year on advertising, those ads often end up being irrelevant to the people who see them. On average, Americans are subject to some 3,000 essentially random pitches per day. Two-thirds of people surveyed in a Yankelovich Partners study said they feel "constantly bombarded" by ads, and 59% said the ads they see have little or no relevance to them. No wonder so many people dislike and ignore advertising, and so many business owners feel gun-shy about investing in serious campaigns."

That's the case; there's much more in the article about what is being done by some smart marketers.

If your marketing spending can't be tracked for productivity and effectiveness - at least on some level - you need some help. (That's not so much a pitch for you to call me as just good advice, but if I can help, well...)

Today's "Huh?" Moment

Today's AAF Marketing Brief newsletter (you can subscribe for yourself here) brought to my attention a piece in The Wall Street Journal about Gap's new viral web/marketing campaign.

Created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky (the friendly folks who brought us Burger King's "Subservient Chicken"), an animated web site takes us inside, presumably, a Gap dressing room. It's cool, but as far as I can tell, pointless. (You'll waste 30 minutes there, so be careful if you visit the site.)

In fact, when I went there myself, one of our Burrisites happened to be in the neighborhood of my desk and stuck around to see what in the heck was going on. Later in the day - as I was preparing for this post - here's what I told her about my experience:

"Your question regarding for The Gap - 'What's the point?' - is right on. Unlike the 'Subservient Chicken,' which drove home the BK 'have it your way' message about something other than a burger, this site, though cool, doesn't do anything, I guess, but try to convince someone that The Gap is cooler than he or she may think."

According to the article in The Wall Street Journal: "Early reviews are mixed. Comments circulating on the Internet show that some people find it a great way to waste time at the office; others are uncomfortable watching it. 'My immediate reaction is definitely negative,' says Lauren Schmidt, a 28-year-old account director at a technology public-relations firm in New York City. While it won't stop her from buying the chain's clothes, she says, 'I have always regarded Gap as more tactful than that.'

"Gap's Web characters are definitely saucier than those used by other clothing retailers, such as L.L. Bean and Sears Holdings Corp.'s Lands' End. Figures at those company sites aim to replicate shoppers' measurements, or body shapes, in order to help ensure a proper garment fit.

"The watchmechange site also sets a very different tone from Gap's current advertising campaign in stores and on television, which features a parade of musicians such as Joss Stone, Liz Phair and Jason Mraz. In the TV commercials, developed by the retailer's creative agency, Laird+Partners, the singers wear Gap jeans and perform remakes of their favorite songs."

What's the point, indeed! Can you help me on this?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Trout weighs in

On several occasions I've quoted or linked to columns by Al Ries, part of the former duo who wrote and published the classic book about branding, Positioning, more than 20 years ago.

Now Ries's former partner, Jack Trout, weighs in here on what's ailing traditional advertising agencies. They have lost their way because they're not focused on their true mission and calling.

The article is good. (Thanks to Jack Burris for sending it to me.) Here's an excerpt:

"Forget about emotion, bonding, borrowed interest or show business, agencies have to rebuild their reputations around being able to help top management figure out the right competitive strategy for a brand.... Consider the famous Oprah giveaway of 200 Pontiac G-6s.... The result was great press but lousy sales, which are 30% below expectations. What was missing was the story about why I should buy one if I didn't get one for free."

The dialogue continues...

Monday, August 08, 2005

What America offers - Peter Jennings' comments

This morning's news headlines brought word of Peter Jennings' death yesterday.

I was struck by this passage in the New York Times obituary (source of the photo as well):

"Mr. Jennings was conscious of having been imbued, during his Canadian boyhood, with a skepticism about American behavior; at least partly as a result, he often delighted in presenting the opinions of those in the minority, whatever the situation.

"And yet he simultaneously carried on an elaborate love affair with America, one that reached its apex in the summer of 2003, when he announced that he had become an American citizen, scoring, he said proudly, 100 percent on his citizenship test.

"In a toast around that time that he gave at the new National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, he described his adopted home as 'this brash and noble container of dreams, this muse to artists and inventors and entrepreneurs, this beacon of optimism, this dynamo of energy, this trumpet blare of liberty.'"

This is the kind of patriotism in far too short of supply these days. What makes our way of life so great is, I think, our optimism, our hope, our potential. What a great description of life in America!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The New York Taxi - redesigned

Several days ago I singled out BusinessWeek for its "Get Creative!" special issue. (Here's the link.)

The web site the magazine launched at the same time continues to explore the issue of innovation. Here's a fascinating study of the taxi cab of the future. (Click here.)

Ideas and innovation come out of fresh thinking and, sometimes, a disciplined process. This review of a simple, take-it-for-granted concept is a sterling example.