Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Do something: KFC and cause marketing.

Disclaimer: KFC is a client of Draftfcb. I do not currently work on KFC, nor do I have any insider information about the Pink Bucket (or any other) campaign. These are my opinions only.

If a tree falls in the forest and you don't particularly support the tree or the way in which it was taken down, is the wood useless? Should you throw it away? Or should you use it to build something anyway?

That was ridiculous. My apologies.

On that vein, Seth Godin's blog recently offered up a little something that made me think.

"You can spend your marketing money in more ways than ever, live in more places while still working electronically, contact different people, launch different initiatives, hire different freelancers... You can post your ideas in dozens of ways, interact with millions of people, launch any sort of product or service without a permit or factory.

But no matter what, don't do nothing."

Do something. 

I've been conducting a bit of personal research lately about the ethics of cause marketing. Nothing official, just kind of... listening. I've noticed that there is a lot, a LOT of discussion around whether cause marketing is abhorrent. Yes, cause marketing happens when brands align with good causes and probably aim to boost their brand metrics in the process. Yes, that smells like exploitation. What I'm wondering is, in the case of a cause, does it matter? Isn't doing something better than doing nothing?

There's a lot of dissent around the KFC Pink Bucket campaign for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You buy the pink bucket of chicken at KFC, and fifty cents on your purchase goes to Susan G. Komen for the cure. On Twitter, in the blogosphere, kind of all over, people are really pissed about this. They're furious that a brand that can be linked to obesity, which increases one's chances of contracting cancer, would purport to care about an anti-cancer message. And, they're furious with Komen for agreeing to align with it.

What exactly are the dissenters condemning? There is nothing illegal going on here. People are purchasing chicken of their own free will, and part of the proceeds are going to something better.

Sure, KFC sells a whole bunch of really fattening awful stuff. But, they wouldn't sell it if we weren't buying it. And yes, people could skip the pink bucket and donate their entire chicken dinner fund to cancer research, circumventing the entire program. But would we? We don't seem to be doing so currently.

Consider this chart. KFC, I'd say, sits squarely in the 'evil, but beneficial to society' quadrant with the rest of corporate America. Sure, corporate America is evil. It's malicious, it's vicious, and it looks out for itself above all others. But it also creates jobs for Americans and provides a means for us to sustain ourselves as a country, at least for the time being. So, beneficial to society. The vast majority of industry, the real moneymakers out there, sit somewhere in this quadrant. Should we force them to stay there?

Does being pegged in an evil quadrant disallow KFC from being able to dabble in the good? As far as I know, the money they donate is worth just as much regardless of whether they are hoping to boost brand favorability ratings in the process. No, I would never say that KFC is an agent for goodwill. That said, should Komen have turned them down? Should KFC be excused to do nothing?

Nay-sayers, I urge you to take your judgy eyes off the means and focus on the end.

Per Daily Finance, if KFC donates the $8.5 million that they've hinted at, that would be the largest single donation in the history of the Komen foundation. My boobs and I agree that if chicken money finds a cure for breast cancer, we are okay with that. I am also okay with chicken money saving my mom's life, my grandmother's lives, my friends' lives and the lives of every woman (and man!) that has ever and will ever be threatened by breast cancer. My boobs and I will take your chicken money, KFC. Thanks for offering.

All of this says something really hypocritical about society. The American dream dictates we be doers, yet we seem to get to pick and choose who's allowed to do. If we condemn cause marketing because it's not pure, where do we draw the line in terms of trying to do good? Are hybrid cars okay? NASA? Livestrong? Hybrid cars aren't going to save the planet, NASA rockets burn a serious amount of fossil fuels, and some people say Lance Armstrong is kind of a jerk. None of these entities are free of flaws. But we see merit in working to do something, and we excuse the flaws of these organizations to allow them to do so. There is no merit in sitting on your ass, and yet this is what society is prescribing for brands rather than allowing them to leave to play in the cause marketing arena.

I guess I just don't understand what is so awful about trying to do something, regardless of your flaws.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. 

To the people who argue against cause marketing: there is no pleasing you, so I'm not going to try. But I will encourage you to take some initiative to change your quadrant, like our evil friends at KFC. The poorly-felled wood in the forest deserves a shot at construction, don't you think?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Butterfly effect.

Earlier this month, Spirit Airlines announced that it would begin charging $45 per carry-on item on all flights. It is my hypothesis that this decision, like all decisions, is not an independent event and will have an effect on other industries.

Click here to enlarge.

Call me a fashion blogger - I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this decision will have an effect on the fashion industry, causing people to seek out other methods of storage. Cargo pants (gasp) will make a resurgence, and all hell will break loose.

My contribution for #makeachartday, my new favorite Friday tradition.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A print ad for the people (?), by the people.

This spread ad, in the May 2010 issue of Real Simple, blew my little media-planner mind.

"We surf the internet.
We swim in magazines.

The Internet is exhilarating. Magazines are enveloping.
The Internet grabs you. Magazines embrace you. The Internet is impulsive. Magazines are immersive. And both media are growing.

Barely noticed amidst the thunderous Internet clamor is the simple fact that magazine readership has risen over the past five years. Even in the age of the Internet, even among groups one would assume are most singularly hooked on digital media, the appeal of magazines is growing.

Think of it this way: during the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent.

What it proves, once again, is that a new medium doesn't necessarily displace an old one. Just as movies didn't kill radio. Just as TV didn't kill movies. An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience. And, as reader loyalty and growth demonstrate, magazines do.

Which is why people aren't giving up swimming, just because they also enjoy surfing."

To whom are they speaking? To me, the marketer? It certainly seems that way. And, who are "they"?

Taking a closer look at the logo, I see the M from TIME, the G from Rolling Stone, the Z from Harper's Bazaar, and the Es from Esquire. Time Inc, Wenner Media, Hearst and Hearst. [I'm a little embarrassed that I don't recognize the others offhand. Shame on me.]

As it turns out, "they" are the Magazine Publishers of America, including five of the largest publishers in the US - add Conde Nast and Meredith to my list above.

This print campaign will be rolling out in 100 magazines over the next few months.

I totally agree with the message, definitely. But, this campaign feels a little weird to me.

It's a little defensive, no? If the magazine industry is really doing so well, which I believe that it is, why do you need a campaign about it?

You're preaching to the choir. Putting an ad for reading magazines in a magazine seems a little redundant. Plus, the language sounds like you're pitching to media planners, what with the statistics and using words like "readership". Are you going for general public with this? Has the general public even thought about it, and should you be alerting them to the fact that the industry might be in trouble, even though it's not? Seems a little fuddled.

Definitely an eye-catching ad, and an interesting initiative. I'm interested in seeing what kind of impact it has on the industry, if at all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fan love is the best love.

I caught an article today on Mashable highlighting Virgin America's decision to add another airport to their exclusive list of hubs. I found it to be overwhelmingly awesome that they chose to announce this major addition via Twitter, as opposed to going a mainstream news route. Not surprising, seeing as Virgin has always been pretty on top of their social media game, but cool nonetheless. Virgin's fans are important to them, and their engagement matters most.

Oddly enough, the next article in my reader was also about handing the power of the brand over to the fans. Lady Gaga (a total nut-job and completely brilliant, IMHO) is currently holding reign as purveyor of fan loyalty in the music business. She may be really odd, but her fans worship her, perhaps literally.

The article touches on what she has done as a brand to respect the fan relationship and build a powerhouse of Gaga-crazed fans, from calling her fanbase by name ("Little Monsters") to allowing them to film and spread her content instead of relying on professional photographers and videographers.

As a purveyor of traditional media, it seems sacrilegious, but if you can respect your consumers by speaking to them where they engage with you instead of screaming from soapboxes, I say gopher it. You're in the business of cultivating your fanbase - it matters what they think of you. To recognize that the fan conversation is The Conversation is pretty cool.

A long, long time ago, I found myself flipping through this presentation that Bud put together regarding fandom. Bud has covered fandom up, down, and sideways, but this presentation really kind of captures the importance of the fan relationship in a simple, concise nutshell. Please note that on slide 26, he gave a nod to Virgin, who in 2008 was already implementing awesome internet-social-fan stuff IN THE AIR. Get your act together, brands who only need to be concerned with the ground.

Fans are important. And now in 2010, brands and marketers seem to be starting to get the hang of that, which is cool.

The problem with the rising importance of fandom is that we seem to still be having issues wrapping our budget-focused heads around how to measure it. I suppose it makes sense; if we're going to be assigning costs to fan acquisition, you'd like to also be able to assign a value. This is especially true in environments like Facebook, where being a fan requires almost no effort and does not indicate any follow-up whatsoever. Clay penned this bit of brilliance in regards to some holes in a recently-born impression-based fan-value equation, and I have to agree with him. A true fan has love for your brand. Or, as Bud said, a fan will fight for your survival. An impression does not a fan make. And therefore, crafting the fan-value equation seems to get rather slippery.

As a media planner and Guardian of Budgets, my questions are thus: without a sturdy value equation, will positive case studies ever be enough to convince wary, non-savvy brands to throw caution to the wind and put significant budgets behind supporting their fans? Can a fan economy survive where budgets are bleeding and big-name advertisers are clinging to old advertising strategy? Or will the fan economy prosper, and leave the old-timey marketers in the dust?

I have no idea. The way of the future doesn't always disregard the past. I would love to hear your thoughts, if you have them.

Thanks, Bud and Clay, for always producing thought-provoking content. It's safe to say you make me a little smarter. I'm happy to be fans of you both.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Michelob intern project.

From my walk to work today, a stupid ad! This transit poster annoys me every morning.

Drink Michelob, which is a superior light beer, and you can run as fast as Lance, who generally is found on a bike, but whatever, and faster than these random people. And, did Nike give the okay on this one? They are also peddling light beers?

Is this supposed to be satirical? Where are the talking puppies? I'm fairly certain I'm in the target, as a running, Lance-loving, 21+ concerned with calorie intake, but I don't get it.

Creative fail.

Monday, April 12, 2010

AT&T, tugging at heart-strings.

Who says people who DVR don't watch the commercials? This spot made me look up from intensely-furrowed-brow-writing-mode and rewind.


Using an incredibly poignant song from one of my all-time favorite childhood movies to grab my hand and ask me to reminisce - I've never felt so targeted. And, I don't hate it. Your 3G network might not be so great, but this spot made my heart go pitter-pat. Some nice work out of BBDO.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Purex, keeping it fresh.

I was mid-laundry when I saw a TV spot for Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets - yep, you caught me in my laundry moment, Purex. Nice work. These things are detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheet in one little piece - no messy detergent, and it minimizes your laundry supplies. I like it.

When I Googled, I found this adorable little video.

Love the concept - expand on the spot, demo the product, be funny/real for your audience. Nice. Could use a click-through to the website, where they're giving away coupons, but pretty good otherwise.

What I love the most about this stuff, though, is that Purex is rethinking the problem, not the solution. They're not offering a better laundry detergent, they're offering a better way to do laundry. And that's pretty cool. You know, relatively speaking. It's still laundry.

Even laundry deserves a bit of innovative thinking every now and then. Love it!


Tina Fey, adorably funny lady, is on SNL tonight. And, she's on the cover of my April Esquire. Wrestling with a bit of writer's block, I looked to the thick stack of magazines on my coffee table for inspiration, and found some. I stared at this quote for a good long while, taking it in.

Says Tina, on writing:

"Don't be too precious or attached to anything you write. Let things be malleable."

Adorably funny and smart. Tina, you're awesome. I'm planning on throwing out the stupid posts I've been struggling with and starting fresh. Thanks a million. Oh, and, good to see you back on Weekend Update. Missed you. XO.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Tiger Woods Economy.

Tiger Woods, and his affect on the worth of the golfing industry. Sponsorships: not always so boring!

Love this. From Len by way of Mint.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1-800 Contacts.

I adore this spot. It's ridiculous, and it made me feel foolish.

I've never used 1-800 Contacts. I've always ordered over-priced contacts from my eye doctor, because they have me convinced that they're premium lenses, and I'm hesitant to buy from anyone else.

Focusing messaging on addressing the largest elephant in the room, giving hesitant non-triers a reason to play. IT'S SO SIMPLE. Brilliant!