Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Media girl, interrupted.

Here's a little tip, straight from me to you: If you don't like running on the treadmill, don't sign up for a race that will require significant amounts of training in the winter. Sure, you can bundle up and face the cold, but at some point, slippery sidewalks and freezing temperatures will force you indoors. But, as runners, we persevere. As lovers of running, we learn to also love the treadmill, to appreciate the fact that it allows us to run when Mother Nature will not. That said, I will probably not be signing up for a January race next year.

So last night, I'm on the treadmill, blissfully absorbed in my favorite playlist and the captions on CNN, when someone decides to let their three young children enter the gym unattended. They run and scream and throw the stability balls around, prancing like wildebeests for a good fifteen minutes, just long enough to totally spoil my run. The guy running next to me was giving me the "is this for real?" face, so I know he feels me, too. Despite my love-hate relationship with the treadmill, running time is my precious, peaceful me-time in the gym, my haven, and I do so hate to see it interrupted by chaos and discord.

In this time-driven culture, people, unless they are bored or looking for some sort of escape, do not like interruptions (myself included, obviously). Not to say that interruptions are bad, but they can be jarring and unpleasant for the interrupted party, and can create bad juju around the interruption if handled improperly.

As a media planner, I am in the business of interruptions. How can my brand, something my target consumer does not inherently care about, become part of his or her day? How can I squeeze it in there, and give it meaning?

*Warning: Impending Advertising Metaphor*

All too often, ad campaigns are the screaming children in the gym of life. Advertisers get caught up in the promotion, creative execution, or one-upping the competition, what-have-you, and forget about the happy consumer there on the treadmill, not wanting to have proverbial stability balls thrown in his or her face. But, there’s no need to do it like that! I love advertising, and I love it the most when it is seamless, relevant, and adds value to my life. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing to take a potentially frustrating, annoying little advertising interruption and spin it into something useful. But how?

Be seamless.
Don’t interrupt, integrate! You’ve done the research; you know your consumer and your product like the back of your hand. Be choosy in your media, and wherever you can, enhance and be enhanced by the environments you select. Really smart media placements make my little heart swelleth over.

I recently saw iPod Nano running some big, beautiful rich banners on the Youtube homepage, showing how you can use the new Nano to make your own videos. Information about a new way to make videos on a video-watching website for people who like to make and watch videos. I'm going to say video, just one more time. Video. Seamless!

Be relevant.
Not all media placements are seamless, but that doesn’t necessarily make them less excellent. If you’re going to interrupt, be cool about it. Seek media refuge in environments that have your target consumer absorbed on a related topic, or in a state of mind that lends to your message. Customize your message for the media, and watch your consumer’s eye wander over to your life-enhancing interruption.

Don Q rum touted its US launch and the LadyData experiment via tiny banners on the Happy Houred iPhone app. Happy Houred is a deal-slinging operation that shows users the bar specials in their proximity. Definitely a relevant environment and mind-state, talking spirits with drink-seekers. Snippets of LadyData’s info on how to interact with the ladies in bar environments bridge the gap. Relevance!

Seamlessness! Relevance! America!

We aim to show consumers that our brand adds value to their lives. Truth is, there's a lot of advertising out there, and it’s our job to find a way to interrupt without screaming. So maybe try being helpful.

Sample metaphorical running interruption:
“Jen! You like running! Did you know that this heart rate monitor can show you when you’re about to pass your lactate threshold and cramp up?”
Actually no, I didn’t. Heart rate monitor? That would improve my life. Tell me more! Where can I get one of these? And, thank you for not throwing the ball in my face. You respect me and my time, and therefore, I respect you.

As we move into the new year, let's all challenge ourselves to interrupt with decorum. I’m going to thank you in advance for not screaming.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Four reasons why people hate Foursquare, and why they're wrong.

Note: This post was originally written as a guest-post on Adam Kmiec's blog; you can find it here, and also on the DRAFTFCBlog, here.

I love the internet. I really do. Truly, madly, deeply.

I love it for its quiet brilliance. I mean, after LOLcats, of course.

As a self-proclaimed digital kid, I am perhaps more inclined than the average bear to jump on internet bandwagons, due partly to my age, and partly to the fact that I’m such a savvy so-and-so (I kid). As such, I often find myself defending web ideas to my suspicious circle of colleagues and friends, and am always a bit surprised to have to do so. The things I find so incredible in their simplicity tend to strike my skeptical cohorts as stalker-esque, creepy fads. Can all my Foursquare haters please stand up?

For anyone who’s unaware, Foursquare is a location-based social networking community that allows users to state their coordinates and offer helpful tips to friends and other users who might also frequent that venue. Check off items on your to-do list, earn points, win badges, and become mayor of your favorite spots by checking in there more than any other patron. Fun, right?

This weekend, I found myself arguing on Foursquare’s behalf on two separate occasions. I know. I need to get a life. Anyway, both scenarios involved individuals in the advertising community, and both conversations, despite my fervent outpouring of Foursquare love, resulted only in blank stares and/or furrowed brows. What. Is up. With that.

Let’s all stop hating for a moment and contemplate what it is about Foursquare that launches it to the top of my list of quietly brilliant web innovations.

Here are the top reasons to hate on Foursquare that I’ve heard from the hater community. And, of course, the reasons I beg to differ.

1. It’s creepy.

Yes, there’s an element of weirdness to having a location feed available on the web for the masses, especially as a single female in a big city. I’m not stupid; I get that. Perhaps I will get kidnapped on the way home from my current location, and you can all have a good laugh about it (jerks). You know what? Life is creepy sometimes. And dangerous, always. This is one of those cases where I feel like the benefits outweigh the risks, so long as you’re smart about the information you share. Keep reading for more on that.

2. It’s annoying.

It's not annoying, it's information. Foursquare is a gold mine for consumer data. I really can’t believe that I would need to argue this to people in the industry. All pings, badges and tomfoolery aside, what Foursquare does, essentially, is give businesses a free list (a list! for free!) of digital-savvy consumers who love you enough to want to broadcast to their web community that they are a patron. These are people who carry a certain amount of digital clout that want to spread the word about you, and they are going to do it for free. And, you now have access to a list of them, what they think are the best parts about your business, and even some information about them (their Twitter handles, phone numbers, and so on). It’s a CRM-lover’s dream. How are you not excited about this?

3. Who cares?

You care! Especially all those ‘yous’ out there who are in the biz. Or, the business-owning ‘yous.’ Our job as marketers is to care. You care (a) what people do with their time (b) what they choose to tell their people they're doing with their time and (c) when you can put your brand in front of them at the right moment in time. Not to pontificate, but if the internet is spitting out free applications that help us to gather the data that provides a foundation for our profession, it is our responsibility to care.

[A caveat: this is not to say that no-one cares. I have seen a few cool case studies of businesses that have jumped on the Foursquare train, and are riding it to Consumer-Love Station. This post about the Pit BBQ in Raleigh, for example, truly warms my heart. Kudos to you, Pit BBQ management. Consumer interaction: you’re doing it right.]

4. Why would I want to do that?

Well, this one is really up to you. I like it because it’s a game, it’s fun to do, and it gives me a tool to coordinate nights out with friends. I also like the idea of creating a database of my existence, which is why you can find me tucking seemingly trivial information into many different data-ports around the web. It seems to matter to me. Personal preference of the digital kid, I imagine. But, fun for everyone who chooses to participate, I find.

Like I said, my romantic feelings for the internet lie mainly in its outpouring of tools that unabashedly display simple, beautiful, quiet brilliance. If nothing else, I love that I’ve been able to use applications like Foursquare to build out a community of web-adoring geeks such as myself. I simply cannot wait to see what awesomeness lies ahead for those businesses that have us geeks heading up their marketing initiatives.

For all those out there who choose to remain creeped out, annoyed, apathetic and non-participating, I apologize for wasting a moment of your time.

Thanks go to my editor, Clay, for helping to un-muddle my thoughts on this one. Virtual high-five. Thanks also to Adam, for asking me to guest-post. I'm flattered, and honored.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A book review, and a brief reflection on the science of web.

My goals for my day off were to finish the book I was reading, and to pen a new blog post. Let's kill two birds with one stone, shall we?

First, the book, whose tedious final pages went down this morning with a cup of coffee.

As a staunch Robert Langdon enthusiast and, to be quite honest, a sucker for the occasional mindless read, it pains me to say that I was pretty disappointed with the latest installment from Dan Brown. The Lost Symbol was predictable, and lacked the nail-biting, page-turny awesomeness that Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code brought to my bookshelf, and my poolside lounge chair, for that matter. Set in Washington,  D.C., around various national monuments, the plot is moderately interesting, but the cookie-cutter template more than resembles its predecessors. Without revealing any detail, the book doesn't quite live up to the hype.

Sorry, Dan Brown. I still love you. Angels and Demons FTW.

However, I wouldn't count the read as a total loss. In typical Dan Brown fashion, the story incorporates elements of a science that allows our symbologist hero to come to terms with whatever he happens to be interpreting at the time. In this case, he's tackling the Noetic Sciences, or study of the mind and intuition, and the quantifiable measurement (for real) of the energies that the mind possesses.  To quote our heroine, "We have scientifically proven that the power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought."* Difficult to believe, but interesting stuff, to be sure.

And now, the post.

While Brown's character is referring to exponential growth of measurable thought energy,  her quote strikes me as a spot-on description of today's web communities, and perhaps explains some of our fascinations with the social web. With the various social communities we've adopted en masse, we have created a living experiment in the pluralistic aspects of Noetic Theory. And, by putting them on the web, we've created a permanent archive and searchable data mine of the pass-along power of human thought. We are able to quantify the effects of exponential thought-power on something as seemingly trivial as branding, via web analytics and beautiful, glorious infographics. It's what makes the interwebs webby, and frankly, interesting.

I know the Noetic stuff seems like total bunk. But, it's cool to see old-as-dirt theories and off-the-wall scientific subject matter being reflected and perfected in the technologies of the here and now. I just hope you won't think less of me for trying to pull thought-starters from the bowels of a sub-par novel.

*Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, Doubleday, 2009, p. 504

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sir James Dyson, I adore thee...

It's weird, sometimes, the stuff that sparks inspiration.

Sir James Dyson was on the Today Show this morning, with a segment about Dyson's new product, a bladeless fan. My ears perked up, and the reasons for that are threefold:

1. Sir James Dyson's buttery voice turns me into a puddle of mush. He could sell me anything.

2. I love Dyson in general. Sexy household products? Yes, please.

3. The type of fan we're talking about is, by definition: any of various devices consisting essentially of a series of radiating vanes or blades attached to and revolving with a central hublike portion to produce a current of air.*

A fan is a thing with blades. But, blades aren't perfect. So, let's ditch 'em.

It's really cool when people improve upon products and services to make them better: more efficient, safer, more functional, easier to use, etcetera. It's incredibly cool when people redefine them. Maybe a bladeless fan is a ridiculous product that nobody really needs, but it's kind of fantastic to think that people out there are inventing products that have no need for the elements that used to define them.

Sir James Dyson, you're pretty cool. You make me want to create things, maybe advertising things, maybe other things, and throw the limitations of definitions out the window. You make me want to be an inventor. You go, James Dyson.


Monday, September 21, 2009

"Casual Friday."

Was wondering what was up with Thrillist last week when I received their NYC, Philly, and Boston newsletters, along with the standard Chicago fare. Wasn't going to crucify them for it (had totally forgotten about it, actually), but this email totally made my day. An on-brand apology, to say the least. Click to read the text in the red box (marked by my clever arrow of hilarity).

Lesson: Good brands, just like good people, apologize in a timely manner when they screw up, and their fans love them for it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'

Our summer interns started today. An eager bunch, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; yet I have to be honest, I feel sorry for these kids. Not because their hands are soon to be covered with coffee burns and toner stains (totally not the case, our intern program rocks), but because they, at no fault of their own, got stuck with a really terrible time to be graduating into the ad industry. Not only are they fighting amongst the students in their own graduating class for precious feet in prestigious doors, but they're also up against a crew of seasoned ad warriors that wearied agencies had no choice but to let go.

Not exactly ideal circumstances; although an internship, I find, is a wonderful place to start. But where to go from there?

My best friend Christy, art director hopeful, and her copywriter friend Branden, students at Miami Ad School with little more experience than our brand new interns, found themselves on the front page of Agency Spy this afternoon, and later on AdFreak. Two days ago, they had responded to a creative team job post tweet from CP+B with a video cover letter, expressing their interest in the position.

They posted it on YouTube.

Then, they tweeted it. First, Christy,

And then, Branden.

Alex Bogusky noticed.

Some other people noticed, too.

The video itself is cute, sure. Those kids make Sharpie disguises look good. But I think the really cool thing here, and perhaps the reason that the ad blogs are finding their video noteworthy, is their complete comprehension of the task at hand. They wanted a job in digital creative, so they created something digital. Not only that, but they built a makeshift campaign around it using digital media. Sort of a "hey! we want this job! and we understand it, too!"

Things they did right, and general items to consider when applying for jobs in advertising:

1. Regardless of economic state, ad positions are NOT EASY to come by. Be unique, and know your audience. Find a way to stand out. How are you going to prove you can make killer campaigns if you get lost in the clutter?

2. If you want a job in a specific discipline, demonstrate your knowledge of that arena. You live in a digital age - you know stuff about advertising! Figure out a way to show people what you know.

3. Be prepared to work for it. Being in advertising, especially to start, is some seriously hard work. Show that you're ready by jumping on any opportunity that comes your way, and putting in the extra effort.

Who knows if they'll end up with the gig - their books will need to do the talking from here on out. In the meantime, the reaction this got makes for a pretty uplifting case study to all those go-getters out there who aren't satisfied just dreaming about agency life.

My point is, fear not, interns! Listen to the wise words of Journey - it ain't over 'til it's over. I applaud you for getting this far - an internship at Draftfcb, or any other agency for that matter, is nothing to sneeze at. Keep turning up the heat. We're thrilled to count you amongst the ranks, and excited to see what you will bring to the table.

No pressure.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Twitter Preso Fabulocity

I was super excited today to give a presentation on Twitter basics to my media team here at DFCB. Also, to finally have some fodder worthy of Slideshare.

All things considered, I think it went really well. Please check it out, below. I am presenting this to our agency this week Thursday, so if you have any comments for me before then, please speak up.

Working on committing to the preso mantra - if it's not essential, kill it. Less is more. Easier said than done.

Thanks so much to Michael for contributing content, and Russ and Clay for helping me edit!

Anyone who can let me know what to do about the black boxes and weirdo formatting gets a high-five.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Love the madness.

I’m just going to say it: I think the digital direct marketing on the part of the Moosejaw brand is really smart, and also quite entertaining.

I really never thought I would find myself writing on this topic. Maybe Howard is putting something in the water at the 101 building; usually, I find the thought of direct to be quite unpleasant and likely to put me into a deep sleep. However, what Moosejaw has done with direct is running along the same line as my previous discussion of creation of original brand content, and I find it to be 100% awesome.

I was at Moosejaw in December of 2008 for a media event, which probably explains a lot (I am not exactly the outdoorsy type). On this chilly evening, the charming and knowledgeable sales associate working the floor was miraculously able to convince me to sign up for their e-newsletter. Not only did I get a ridiculously cute ice-skating date out of the deal, I also found myself completely engrossed in their e-newsletters each week. I get a lot of newsletters, coupons, etc., and I never really expect much out of them, but the Moosejaw Rewards program is completely golden. The formula is simple: entice with a deal, sweeten with humor. Click here for sample newsletter, entited: Free Moosejaw Hoody and my moustache regimen.

The deal: Purchase anything over $50 and any Moosejaw hoody will be freesville. Their sweatshirts are amazing. I’m sold.

The joke: Your mustache regimen? Say no more. I’m hooked.

Reasons that I find Moosejaw’s direct marketing schematics to be most excellent:

1. It’s on-brand, and it’s funny.
Moosejaw is known for being a top-notch vendor of the best of the best in outdoor gear.* Moosejaw shoppers are likely to be fiercely loyal to their sport, so it comes as no surprise that this audience would be receptive to loyalty messaging. The deals in their communication are consistent (once or twice weekly) and pretty sweet. As such, I am guessing they have the attention of their audience.

They’re also known for being a little goofy. Have you ever called one of their stores? Try it. If he/she doesn’t answer the phone with a rousing “MoooOOOOOOOOOOOoosejaw,” ask to speak to the manager. If nothing else, it gives the brand a little extra mustard. I have been to plenty of outdoor gear retailers in my day, but have never been a loyal fan of one before Moosejaw. I appreciate the added entertainment, you know? It almost distracts from the fact that I’m spending $150 on a fleece.

2. They know it’s funny, and they know it’s good.
Did you see the trick I did up there, where I showed you the newsletter as a webpage? Yeah. They know it’s funny, and they know funny is viral, so they helped me out by making it as easily share-able as possible. I’m guessing this is not a coincidence. Also, they are really providing value to their core consumers with their offers. You can also find them on Twitter, for easy access. And, for maximum convenience, all offers are housed centrally on Moosejaw In my humble opinion, funny, valuable, convenient content is a good formula for digital success.

I may be closer to the North Face girl in the bar than the girl climbing a mountain in her fleece, but I do know a few things about marketing. If you’re going to do loyalty programming and direct in the digital space, it helps to be entertaining and relevant. The Moosejaw case study spits in the face of boring email and direct campaigns. And, what can I say?

I love the madness.

*Yeah, yeah. How would I know, right? Well, my supervisor, Amy, is a serious surfer, wakeboarder and snowboarder, and I confirmed this with her before posting, so we’re good.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Excuse me, is that a Reese's Pieces floating in your Stella?

I may be just a young pup (human), still getting my feet wet on Madison Avenue (Erie at Rush) as an ad man (lady), but this I know for certain: just because something is old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead. And just because we may be a bunch of young, hipster advertising punks (nerds) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be respectful of the old and time-honored practices that helped to build this great industry we love so dearly. Cool old ad stuff can still be great –it’s on our shoulders to give it the time of day and make sure it can stay relevant and, well, cool. And great.

Maybe I’m a total sap (a definite possibility), but one of my all-time favorite marketing tactics is entertainment product integration. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always, always wanted to put together a campaign that utilized product placement. All discussions of payola aside, if you’re in advertising for the psychology and good-natured manipulation that inevitably lie at its core, and I think many good planners are, it’s hard not to love product placement. It’s an oldie and a goodie, and a favored topic in ad classes – plenty of good case studies to dissect and discuss. The Italian Job (launch of Mini Cooper) is one of my favorites (don’t talk to me about E.T. and the Reese’s Pieces; he totally creeps me out). Even when spoofed, the satire carries a certain amount of valuable buzz, like in Wayne’s World or Talladega Nights. And, if the buzz is loud enough, we’ve seen products actually born of spoofed placements, à la Forrest Gump and Bubba Gump Shrimp. When done right, product placement can be seamless, organic, seemingly perfect marketing. We want our consumer to build positive brand associations – what better way to demonstrate the association than by showing the product in glamorous, glittering action?

Despite my little love affair, I’ll be the first to admit that, given the nature of the beast, there is definitely room for product placement to be overdone, hokey, and just really bad. Can be painful, even, when not revamped for a forum like, say, our friend the internet. Everything intrinsic about the interactive space (and a good number of case studies) would indicate that this is a venue where, if nothing else, brands need to be genuine to stay alive. Entertainment via interwebs, also, did not kill the cat. Luckily for product-placement buffs everywhere, I’ve noticed some stellar videos popping up these days that are bringing new life to the sometimes-antiquated principles of product placement. Brands are massaging product placement and giving us something fresher, seemingly more focused on entertaining than marketing.

My friend Jon-Eric passed this along, and Clay beat me to the punch on posting (and did so much more concisely, I might add) so I’ll throw to him here, but I am loving what Stella Artois put out online to support their Smooth Originals product. The three short-form pieces have subtle nods to the product, and focus on the association and entertainment that they want to bring to the brand. It’s smooth, it’s French, it's digestible, and it’s hilarious. It’s old, and it’s new. My favorite of the three is below.

Simone says? For reals? Awesome. It’s my old friend product placement, only better.

In a time when it seems like old media is a dying art form, I think we are remiss not to look to the internet as the obvious way to help it be new again. And, as the hipster nerds who seem to be somewhat good at working the interwebs, it’s our task to do so, eh? Stuff like this shows me that we can honor the building blocks while being true to the times. So, cheers to the old, cheers to the new, and cheers to the ad men for bridging the gaps and keeping it real. For all y'all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let them eat cake, and read it, too.

Flipping through the glossy pages of my hot-off-the-press, brand spankin' new copies of Food Network Magazine, I have to admire the moxie on display by Hearst and the Food Network empire. Really, Hearst? Putting out a new title while the economy continues to wilt and, almost every time I turn around, another magazine bites the proverbial dust? Really? Have you checked out Magazine Death Watch recently? Or, more grassroots, Mag Death Pool? Eager to add your brand to the list?

Something tells me they aren't too concerned. A closer look at the logic behind the launch reveals that the smart cookies over at Food Network are merely another case for the potential of smart marketing.

In the old, musty, ivy-covered lecture halls where I spent the better part of my college years, they warned me to pay attention, that, one day, I would need to know this stuff. Although I found it hard to believe at the time, every once in a while, one of those college-y nuggets of wisdom comes in handy - in this case, the very basics of marketing theory.

Marketing, as a function of business economics, is most successful when the object or idea in question fulfills a need, yes? In theory (there are some exceptions; anything Billy Mays decides to yell about, for example), not even the most brilliant application of the four Ps can create a lasting, successful business out of something that nobody needs. As consumer needs change, your business had better adapt, or before you know it, no one needs your wares, your bottom line doesn't pay the bills, and you're next in line to crumble. Basic marketing theory: listen to the needs of your audience, and find a way to fulfill those needs better than anyone else. Don't move on to the next thing until you've done the first thing correctly. And never stop listening.

(Disclaimer: I know very little, if anything, about businesses and finance and the like. This is just how I see it going down.)

***I Digress***

So-- back to media. It's painfully obvious that the economic crisis did not spare advertising agencies and their vendors. And as people progress and find new ways to get their news, entertainment, and so on, yes - media vehicles can become less relevant. Plenty of whisperings of media vehicles (not just properties) becoming obsolete, and the media world turning on its end, armageddon, etcetera. And, do we give up? Do we throw in the towel, and watch our media properties, along with the rest of the economy, go down the toilet?

No! Marketing 101: we turn our ears to the needs of our audience. We find a way to become relevant, and we do it better than anyone else.

Step 1: Listen to the needs of your audience.
Food Network was born out of an audience want for programming that covered all the food bases: from easy home cooking to restaurant management, from exciting competition to fine culinary education. And their content has adapted to reflect the times. Shows that teach how to make delicious food in a way that fits a busy lifestyle. Shows that teach how to stretch a dollar further without compromising taste or nutrition. You get the picture - this is an empire that was born out of a consumer need, and has kept consumer wants at the heart of its business development.

Step 2: Do one thing, and improve upon it until you do it better than anyone else.
There has almost always been some sort of food programming on television, but never before had there been one channel that delivered 110% of the time on so many aspects of of the food industry. Even with the rise of high-performing dramas such as Top Chef, I don't think there is any question as to which network is providing the best food content. Food Network has been developing carefully as a network for some time now; shaping brilliant and charismatic chefs into legitimate television stars, crafting content for consumer lifestyles, and entertaining audiences while educating. I'm pretty sure I would melt into a puddle of mush if Bobby Flay ever showed up to challenge me to a throwdown, eh?

Step 3: Move on to the next thing, and do that better than anyone else.
The online space was a natural extension for Food Network - people wanted access to the recipes they saw on their favorite shows. Online was the most efficient way for Food Network to repurpose their content and expand their foothold. The site, which houses not only recipe content, but video and original content, continues to serve audience needs and creates a stronger bond between the audience and the stars and shows they love. They are doing food online better than anyone else, and they are using that success to continue to strengthen their flagship property.

Step 4: Lather, rinse, and repeat step 3.
With Food Network as the strongest food entity in cable, and the most-trafficked food site on the internet (comScore), why not continue to bulldoze the competition? Food Network and Hearst weren't carelessly throwing money into magazine at a time when magazines are declining. They were expanding into a new arena at the request of their audience. The magazine is incredibly well-done, with beautiful original photography, all-new recipes tested by the Food Network test kitchens, and edit contributions by 20-30 much-loved Food Network stars in each issue. It has the leverage of a couple of blockbuster properties and a raving fan base as a foundation. There have been two issues on newsstand thus far, and already full-price subscriptions are far over-delivering on projections. The strategic progression from television to online to print would suggest that this is a brand that understands marketing, business, consumerism, and the like. I don't see them waving the white flag anytime soon.

Not to say there aren't plenty of media enterprises doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well. Our dear friend Oprah, for example. Or, how about Martha Stewart? There is no quick fix for the economic crises that are gripping media vendors by the throat. But case studies like Food Network's foray into print tell us that there is still room in this waning economy for strategic marketing. With a little moxie, it still works, when you do it right. Really.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Sacrificial Gift.

Girl #1: "I absolutely could not believe he sacrificed me."
Girl #2: "I guess now you know what you're worth... less than 1/10 of a Whopper."

Overheard a few coworkers today discussing the Whopper Sacrifice campaign while at the coffee bar. True story - names have been removed to protect the innocent. If you are unaware of Whopper Sacrifice, it's a microsite that links to a Facebook application that sends you a coupon for a free Whopper for every ten friends you unfriend, or sacrifice.


As a media planner, you tend to get unsavvy clients asking for the latest and greatest in media developments as part of their plan - they want to be cool. We love new media - as a tactic in a larger integrated, strategic plan that makes sense for the messaging and the target. New media for new media's sake is flashy, but no more effective than creative for the sake of creative. So, we get used to cringing when clients say, "can you come up with a Facebook application?" Sure, the Facebook crowd is a powerful and desirable audience. But, planning for tactic instead of strategy aside, cluttering up Facebook with useless apps only serves to dilute the potency of the network.

Unless, of course, your Facebook app is a brilliant idea.

I don't know what Burger King's objectives are for Whopper Sacrifice. But for the sake of discussion of Facebook applications, I think Whopper Sacrifice was a brilliant idea. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Whopper Sacrifice is a Facebook app that actually involves the use of Facebook.
Sounds so simple, right? Facebook is an incredibly well-built and organized site with which users have a personal connection. The amount of Facebook applications that don't require you to think about Facebook is astounding. They are confusing, they don't have a strong foundation in their brands, and they make Facebook messy. If an application is not simple, with a clear tie to the brand and product being represented, your efforts are just going to annoy your Facebook user. Instead of being accepted by the cool kids, your brand just looks like the un-hip guy who couldn't quite fit in.

2. Whopper Sacrifice does not require any new learning.
The most basic action at the heart of all Facebook usage is the act of friending and unfriending people. Instead of attempting to create a trend, or trying to teach a new action, Whopper Sacrifice just takes that most basic of all Facebook acts and turns it into something hysterical and (god I hate this word) buzzworthy. It skips the learning process and gets right to the interacting. Interactive that is founded on interaction. Who would have guessed?

3. Whopper Sacrifice is centered around product.
You sacrifice ten people, you get a Whopper. Interacting with the application leads to immediate satisfaction and positivity. You're building your brand while moving product. Marketing, how I love thee.

It's yet to be seen whether this campaign will have any huge impact on sales or brand approval for Burger King, or what its purpose is in the larger scheme of things. But for the moment, it's a case study of a Facebook app that makes sense - for Facebook, as well as Burger King. As a standalone campaign, even. Nice work, CP+B. I thought this was really cool.

And in case you are wondering, no, I didn't use the application. Gluten-intolerance and all - leave the Whoppers for someone who can enjoy them. Always looking out for others. Sigh.

Monday, January 5, 2009

LMJ's Top Eight for 2008

Ah, the obligatory 2008 recap post. It don't get much cheesier, but the new year has me feeling nostalgic, and, as J-E likes to point out, my blog was getting stagnant, so, what better way to start anew than by looking back on the old?

Here we go. Oh, and PS - eight moments, for 2008. Bring on the cheese.

8.) Fly Fishing - Kohler, WI - October 17, 2008
A unique opportunity to get completely out of my element and try my hand at something I never thought I would do. Discovering beautiful Kohler while catching the crap out of enormous king salmon (they never had a chance) is something I will never forget.

7.) July 9, 2008
I found refreshing inspiration, a push to be better, and a reminder that few things are funnier than a fith thandwich.

6.) The 2008 Milwaukee Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure - Milwaukee, WI - September 28, 2008
Due to various lifelong illnesses and lack of motivation, I never thought I might consider myself a runner. Crossing the finish line of this wimpy 5K, with an embarrassingly horrible time (34 minutes and change, but I had a fever and didn't walk at all, so shove it), knowing that I had accomplished a goal and contributed to a cause I really care about - that was a pretty amazing moment.

5.) Yes We Can - Chicago, IL - November 4, 2008
Ok, so I was not in Grant Park for the festivities when Obama was voted president-elect of the United States of America, but in watching his acceptance speech, I felt like my vote mattered. Wah wah super cheesy, I know. But the guy is damn charismatic, and I cannot wait to see what he's got in store.

4.) Tyler and Lindsey Jones - Knoxville, TN - April 5, 2008
A long-awaited reunion with the original Posse - and a really amazing moment, watching a childhood friend take the plunge. There's just something about weddings - and I am very happy to have had the chance to be a part of this one.

3.) I'm Just Sayin' - Key West, FL - May 23, 2008
A few hundred miles of bridges through the keys, a couple (or more) tumblers of rum punch, a few hours in a hammock in stifling heat. A conga line in the parade, a breathtaking sunset, seven people, and one hotel room (famous for its drag shows). Enough said.

2.) Lucas Daniel Beio - Romeoville, IL - October 6, 2008
My nephew is born. I don't have words for this, but I will say that I absolutely cannot wait to see him grow up.

1.) The Winter of Jen - Chicago, IL - November 8, 2008
Save the cheesiest of the cheesy for last - I am pretty sure one of the best things that has happened to me thus far in my short existence was moving to Chicago. Unlike Costanza and the Summer of George, I will not be ending up in a hospital bed, taken down by slippery invitations. A new motivation, a revived passion for the industry, and a new life in a town I love, surrounded by people I love. Bring on the Winter of Jen.

You can all stop throwing up now, I'm done. 2008 was a rough year for me in many ways, but also a really great one. Things are on the up-and-up, and I am looking forward to seeing where 2009 is headed. Auld lang syne, and etc. Cheers!