Monday, June 30, 2008

Marketing the Prius

As I sat at a stoplight today in my gas-guzzling Mustang, I noticed that a Prius whirred up beside me. I say whirred because the Prius makes very little noise. It really is silent, especially inside. I had the privilege to ride in one a few months ago and it was actually quite nice. The interior is relatively spacious and the console looks like you’re piloting a shuttlecraft from Star Trek. All very futuristic.

What I like most is the in-dash computer that monitors your gas usage in real time and shows you an up to the second MPG. Studies done by Nissan in Japan have shown that having this appear in the dashboard actually causes drivers to moderate their driving to achieve a higher MPG score and that gas usage is reduced by up to 10%. I’ve even warmed to the Prius’s exterior, which although a bit wombat-ish has a sleek, unoffensive functional appeal that seems so ubiquitous in Asian cars.

I would never buy a Prius. I would definitely buy an electric Mustang, but never a Prius. Frankly it’s just not sexy or personable to me. But that’s ok.

My Sexy Beast:

The Prius:
The Prius is now Toyota’s fastest selling car and the wait times to buy one from an Ontario dealership can exceed three months. So it’s obvious that people want one. But why?

1. It’s fuel efficient. Ok, but what about the carbon impact of Toyota’s flexible production schedule to assemble and manufacture the car? It doesn’t matter if the car burns less gasoline if the car was assembled from parts shipped from all around the world. In particular, the nickel mined for the car’s electric battery comes from Sudbury, Ontario, a town devastated by the environmental consequences (acid rain, polluted groundwater, felled forests) of precious mineral mining. The nickel is shipped from Sudbury to Wales to China to Japan and then back to North America. Wow, so the car really is good for the Earth!

2. It’s cost-effective. recently introduced the Gas-Guzzler Trade-in Calculator and found that even with today’s astronomic gas prices, the Prius is not making up for its higher cost over less expensive conventional cars like the Chevy Aveo. The savings you make up for buying a Prius are realized after 12 years of driving one. Compare that to seven years for an Aveo. Mile for mile, it’s actually more expensive to drive the Prius – and you’re killing the environment.

3. It’s new. The Prius was targeted specifically for innovators and early adopters. Notice the apparent lack of mass advertising too (usually reserved for the larger waves of the product life cycle). Rather, Toyota’s advertising strategy relied on very targeted promotions and endorsements of the car by celebrities and environmental groups like the Sierra Club.

So against fuel-efficient competitors like the Honda Accord Hybrid or the Toyota Scion xB, the Prius represents a stroke of marketing genius. Forgetting about the electric motor, the Prius is a stunningly average car. But marketers captured what the car
represents. It represents progressiveness, idealism, and conscientiousness – all qualities sought by prospective Prius car buyers.

Marketing cars is not about marketing the car. It’s about marketing the image of
you in the car.

So if I want to feel cool in my sexy Mustang and someone else wants to feel smart in their fuel-efficient Prius, then are we not both being sold on the same value, just a different message?

(Read this good article from Edmunds about ‘Why we buy hybrids’. It explains the marketing perfectly)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The weekend links

Beautiful commercial art at MocoLoco. I could really get lost in this stuff.

Hahahaha! - so when kids see this ad they should say WHAT?!?

Shepard Fairey's work reminds me of old Soviet propaganda posters. It's beautiful to me. See the political side of it here at SupertouchBlog and more here and here. Cool artist and someone I respect.

Yes, I believe I'll have the marble cruller. NYC Donut Report makes it sound sooo good. wonderful.

Firsthand journalist account of the North Korean Mass Games 'Arirang' from Very weird.

Cool. Really cool. Viral done right.

I think I'm a 'faux hip hop scenester' but frankly I'm too chicken to get a tat or pierce my ears. Read the bios and find your own scenester at YourSceneSucks.

Apparently a true account of how to market to Millenials. He should have known that Facebook is 'Facebook' and not FaceBook. Lame.

Required viewing for all B!G Associates and Executives. GoViral's take on social marketing and the next best practices.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Toronto's urban landscape

I wish I brought my camera with me today because the city looks amazing in the sunlight. I reflected about Toronto and am discovering new reasons to appreciate the city I was born and raised in.

Having traveled extensively to other cities and seeing the urban morphology of their landscapes (the things and the places in those cities!), I feel that Toronto’s positive qualities are only improving and becoming more evolved. Sure we have tremendous diversity – we’re the most ethnically diverse city in the world and have a very high percentage of foreign born residents – and we have relatively low crime and lots of green spaces. We have some unique attractions and a gorgeous waterfront which we’re only now learning how to develop. But let’s look beyond that, those are superficial qualities of the city which are apparent to any tourist who just drove in from Pearson. I’m using Daily Dose of Imagery, a Toronto photoblog for these pics.

Toronto has fantastic clutter

A juxtaposition of urban forms, styles, ages, and functions. Look at the proximity of all our cool neighbourhoods: U of T, The Annex, Queen West, West Queen West, Yorkville, Koreatown, Kensington, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Church Wellesley Village are all so walkable and tightly clustered together. At a micro-level, the amalgam of houses, businesses, parks, vacant lots, factories, and skyscrapers creates a liveliness that is stimulating and not always seen in other North American cities where there tends to be greater urban segregation.

Toronto has an edginess

There is no where (except perhaps York University at night!) where I feel unsafe, but the grittiness of some areas blighted by suburban industrialization (like the Golden Mile, the Junction, or the Docklands) is actually appealing. Of course it’s safe, but the spaces have a unique character and add Toronto’s urban complexion.

Toronto has beauty
I’m not just talking about the beauty found in typical vistas like the skyline from the Islands or over the Don Valley or of City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. I’m talking about the beauty found in the manicured parks downtown wedged in between skyscrapers (Cloud Forest Conservatory is a favourite), or in the shops of a colourful ethnic neighbourhood.

But don’t take my word for it. My friend Sally is a genuine urban geographer who shares a few thoughts of her own about what makes Toronto special:

  1. "Accepting and inclusive spaces. The city planning department does a good job at encouraging diversity through their neighbourhood projects (like the street signs and business districts).
  2. Well-preserved heritage buildings. When modern buildings are built around older ones it is always tasteful and appropriate with the architecture.
  3. Tourism and lots of festivals in the summer, my favourite is PRIDE.
  4. Cleanliness and aesthetics complete the city. Landscaping is well done and there really isn’t much trash lying around.
  5. Non-smokers love Toronto. We were one of North America’s more progressive cities in getting anti-smoking legislation passed for public areas."
She also explained a few things that Toronto must improve upon:
  1. "Toronto really does need to improve upon its transit system, it’s embarrassing and a more efficient, cost-effective, and cheaper system is obviously needed. However, the larger problem associated with transit in Toronto is its utilization by the public. It is currently not a viable alternative to car travel, especially for crosstown or regional commutes.
  2. Additionally the Gardiner must be destroyed and buried by the waterfront similar to what was done in Boston.
  3. In the inner suburbs like Weston and St. Clair or Leaside, the proliferation of big box stores is a concern. While these are accessible to drivers, they occupy prime real estate in relatively central areas of the city and could have been put to better use."
So on my daily TTC commute, it’s nice to look at everyone in the subway car and pause, thinking about how we’re basically all here and getting along. Toronto’s urban condition is therefore perhaps founded in the reality that the city lives, works, and laughs together. It’s a very inclusive space which shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thou shalt not have poor web design!

B!G is full of great associates and executives with a keen eye for the creative and a real enthusiasm for learning.

Cindy from our Copywriting Team send me this link about the new Web Design Ten Commandments which is perhaps the best best practice list for site standards I've seen in a long time. I can't disagree with anything listed here. In fact, some of the pointers about Web 2.0 and optimizing your site for a social media and networking experience are so important I think they should be listed twice!

Check out the article for the full list, but here are just a few of the 'commandments' I thought were the most salient:

Thou shalt make content king - content is the meat of sites, remember?

Thou shalt not name your Web 2.0 company with an unnecessary surplus or dearth of vowels - hahaha, i'm looking at you Pownce, Sphinn, and Imeem!

Thou shalt not abuse Flash - yes please, it's a website, not a fashion show. However, here is an excellent use of flash,, my new favourite site. Try Television, Imagination, and Strobe. Way cool.

Thanks Cindy!

So You Think You Can Dance: Analyzed

Be warned, this post has nothing to do with marketing.

So You Think You Can Dance is really my favourite midseason show and something I look forward to every summer. Last night was exceptional. There are now ten couples left and every week, two people are eliminated. Now, you’ve heard me wax lyrical about my affinity for Idol because of its sheer spectacle and commercial excessiveness, but there’s a reality in SYTYCD that I find particularly compelling.

Let’s analyze:

No hope. Unlike Idol, the SYTYCD contestants have no real future. Being a dancer is a rough, tough life full of sprains, and being shunned in school. Furthermore, it is not a very lucrative or long-term career choice, unless you make it big and become a renowned choreographer like Bob Fosse or Debbie Allen. The long hours and physical pain of practicing and preparation just don’t seem to be as central to the lives of the Idol kids from humble, hometown American where we see people singing in choirs at church or just average kids with a gift for singing. Unlike Idol where we see contestants just get up and audition, the SYTYCD dancers have already had years of training just to perfect subtle movements. I guess it’s a grittiness which is attractive.

Depressing right? Well, it makes for great television. My problem with the Idol contestants is that their humility can sometimes be really sickening and contrived (see David Archuleta). Contestants on SYTYCD have nothing to lose and therefore are more likely to bring everything to the stage when they go and perform. It’s just a lot more realz. The contestants are also nicer and a little more realistic about their futures after the show.

The choreography is outstanding. This season the audience is privileged to see even more head-scratching, toe-tapping, get out of your seat routines than before with the inclusion of two new choreographers, Napoleon and Tabitha and the return of people like Mia Michaels and Jean-Marc Genereux. Although I can’t stand the rumba and disco numbers, I appreciate weird stuff like lyrical hip hop and the Vietnamese Fighting Waltz. Last night were two fantastic performances:

Chelsea and Mark danced hip hop

And Katee and Joshua danced the samba.

Cat Deeley. I am in love with Cat Deeley. She’s stunning and has got great legs. But her looks aside, she is a charismatic host of the show. She seems to genuinely give a damn about the contestants and moments when she is seen playing around with them after their performances are some of the most realz of the show. Ryan Seacrest can at times (most times) come across as too much of a douchebag with his saccharine polished veneer and yucky DJ-style delivery. But Cat Deeley has an honest to goodness air of unpretentiousness about her.

Tonight is the results show and we get to see who is eliminated. Frankly I think it should be both Chris and Comfort for this Amtrak of a performance:

I’m a Manson fan and The Beautiful People is an awesome song, but not like this.

Pajiba's review of So You Think You Can Dance explains in more eloquent terms what I'm trying to express.

Anyways, remember that in marketing, just like in this show, you should bring it, because it’s on!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stu-dont clubs

So tonight I attended a meeting of all Schulich graduate club presidents hosted by the Graduate Business Council. We talked about hosting events, partnering with recruiters, and planning for the fall frosh weeks of entering MBA and BBA students.

We each discussed the missions of our clubs and I felt a certain smug satisfaction with B!G’s unique value proposition against those of other clubs. Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for the activities and goals of other Schulich clubs. They provide students with a real opportunity to meet key industry players and form nascent networks of people with shared interests. But I’m not sure that they do any real work.

Here’s who doesn’t belong in B!G:

Know-it-alls who expect to be treated like God’s gift to marketing. Check your ego at the door Veruca Salt!

Laggards who won’t lift a finger to check their email. Do your work Star Jones!

Wasteoids who are expecting to coast through a client’s project. Get out of my club Spicoli!

Wallflowers who cannot step up to meet the cultural idiosyncracies that agency-life is known for. Go join the Breakfast Club Ally Sheedy, B!G isn’t for you!

The Bright Ideas Group is as much a student club as it is a marketing agency. It is as much an association of marketing students as it is a consulting organization. B!G’s value proposition is founded on three key goals:

  1. To provide students with an opportunity to challenge their innovation potential and learn by doing. A key reason why I was attracted to join B!G was the opportunity to continue working. I really do hate school.
  2. To provide small and large businesses with creative and customized marketing insights. Through working with a variety of clients from different industries we also enrich our own personal competencies and knowledge.
  3. To provide students with a forum to be noticed by recruiters and for recruiters to ‘dip their toes’ in the waters of the Schulich student body. I hear from my colleagues in B!G that the soft skills of client facilitation, professional report development, and aesthetic design are things that one really cannot learn in the classroom.
That’s B!G in a nutshell. I really can’t speak to the goals of other clubs but I heard we have a reputation among the Schulich clubs for working our members hard and actually producing billable work.

Veruca Salt, Spocoli, Star Jones, and Ally Sheedy need not apply. Actually, Ally Sheedy can apply!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Creepy advertising and why Indian consumers spend like crazy has some wickedly funny. I really like the 5 Creepiest Advertising Techniques of the (Near) Future. Basically, relevance in advertising will increase to such a targeted and predictive extent that every ad we are served daily is for something which we would have likely purchased. Either that, or we will gradually be conditioned to purchase products through behavior augmentation and suggestive messaging. Kinda sounds like something else...


In other news, our website master and account director Sid Wahi is back in town so to honour his safe return, here's an article about why Indians can't keep it in their pants. Keep their wallets in their pants, I mean. Cool term too, 'Indies'.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dealing with the pain

Building unique, original content on this blog is extremely important to me so on those few rare days when I don’t post anything you can assume that something is wrong. Something strange is going on inside my abdomen which I can’t quite understand! It’s incredibly painful and my doctor has put me on Tylenol 3 with codeine and Prevacid, a strong antacid.

Neither of these are particularly glamorous medications (although the Tylenol 3 with codeine is a really nice trip!), but tonight I wanted to post about the ‘fashion’ drugs so often advertised on Nightly News or CNN. Here are some of my favourites:


What is COPD anyway? Doesn’t this seem like a condition invented for the sole purpose of selling this drug? Anyway, this Advair commercial is the perfect template for most ask-your-doctor drug ads. Let’s break it down:

  1. Dark and dreary lighting during the setup before the drug is introduced
  2. Oh my God, her life looks so much better now! She’s outside!
  3. Simplified graphic of bodily insides showing effective relief in action
  4. Lots of detail from the voiceover
  5. Free offer ensures that patients stay over-medicated and doctors continue a second revenue stream

Overall, very effective.


Requip is hilarious. What Kramer called ‘jimmy legs’ are now a legitimate condition called RLS, apparently diagnosed first in this commercial! This drug is basically a narcotic to keep you in one place at night.

So many things are wrong with the Requip commercial. The creepy music punctuating shots of this poor woman rolling like a log in bed only pique my curiosity about these “strange sensations” the woman was feeling in her legs. Didn’t my junior high sex ed classes also talk about the “strange sensations” I would soon experience? But the best part of this commercial is the slow, thoughtful panning of the camera over her legs, now lying dead still on a chaise – thanks Requip!


Man, live must be pretty awful when you can easily compare your depressed situation to that of an anthropomorphic blob squishing along its miserable way. Zoloft introduced us to a new family of designer ‘mood’ drugs and the tone of this commercial is quite apparent – it’s ok to feel like you want to kill yourself.


Although the initial tone may try a little too hard to sell viewers on a drug they might not have otherwise needed, I do appreciate the descriptive cartoon diagram of neural pathways in the brain as Woody Allen serenades on the oboe.


Now this is actually clever! Rozerem continues the dynastic tradition set by Ambien and Lunesta for sleep aids that we shouldn’t otherwise be taking. Gee, maybe we can’t sleep because of all the Red Bull and Starbucks we’re ingesting. I like the no bullshit tone of the male voiceover too – it makes the drug sound more effective and less mystical. Also pay attention to one of the first statements made in the copy: “Rozerem is the first and only prescription sleep aid that in clinical studies shows no risk for abuse or dependence” – obviously identified as a likely aversion concern for possible users and therefore reinforced in the commercial. Smart.

Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice

Thicker, sturdier, and meatier? Sign me up!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love consumer culture

You’d think I’d be more offended than I am by this anti-consumerist article in the Independent but I’m really not. I think it’s quite accurate and intelligent, although I wouldn’t go so far to give marketers all the credit for creating a consumer culture in developed countries. Certainly they deserve some credit but I also think that democracy, universal education, and a period of seemingly infinite resources had plenty of influence on rising incomes and a demand for the finer things in life. Marketers entered the mix by helping to show off products and make consumers aware of what they could buy with their new disposable income.

I’ve never really thought about the convergence between child and adult consumers, the central premise of Barber’s new book, ‘Consumed’. If his assertion is true – that marketers really have hoodwinked adults to believe that their satisfaction derives from meeting basic, child-like needs (which do not evolve or change beyond seasonal fads), then this might just be the smartest marketing tactic ever dreamed up.

Barber takes umbrage with consumer culture and its costs on the planet. Sure, consuming takes a tremendous environmental toll. The sheer excess of packaging, by-products, and non-biodegradable waste it produces is appalling, to say nothing of the carbon dioxide emissions produced during transportation and manufacture. But what If we could consume with a clean conscience?

Is shopping so wrong if it’s really not hurting anyone?

Is watching lowbrow television so wrong if I enjoy it?

This article rests of the unstable assumption that individuals have some higher moral code that would materialize if given the chance. If modern society wasn’t so blinded by villainous marketers to its gluttonous need for material wealth, we would somehow be better off.

I do not believe that we would be better people if we weren’t consuming so much. We would be exactly the same. Would we really get more done? Would we really invest more in our communities? Would we really spend more time with our children?

OK, so let’s say you start consuming less. You shop locally and you are sensitive to the impact that your actions as a consumer have on society and the environment. You’re satisfied by the good job you’re doing for the planet, whether or not it is making any positive difference. Have you really succeeded in beating the marketing machine? Are you not still being marketed to, just this time with a different message?

Society needs marketing.
Regardless of whether you are a conspicuous or conscious consumer, knowing that your actions have some value, knowing that your life has some purpose, and knowing that by making consumer decisions you make others happy is the greatest validation individuals could ask for.

So this villainous marketer decided to buy ‘Consumed’. And isn’t it ironic how the book itself is a consumer product…

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Getting mad

I’ve been in a really great mood lately, but let me explain why it’s great to be in a rage when designing creative and writing content.

  1. You work faster. Being happy means that you have time to smell the roses and enjoy what you’re working on. Being in a rage lets you fly through the project and only concentrate on the important details, completely missing the larger scope of the task
  2. You say what you really mean. Everything is on the table and anything goes when you’re angry and ready to write. I also find that the words flow better because you’re firing on more cylinders. Feel free to include slang, personal attacks, and other forms of verbal abuse in the copy.
  3. You develop hyperfocus on the task at hand and are able to block out all distractions that are preventing you from getting the work completed.
  4. You don’t have to proofread or edit the work later on. If you were angry, you wouldn’t have made any msitakes. Besides, it shows a creative edginess. Reviewing work when you’re not in a bad mood is always a poor decision because you may find that the work has to be redone!
So here are some helpful tips to get really angry for when you have to write copy and mock up an ad or an email:
  • Think about the last huge argument you had. What did you really wish you had said but forgot to?
  • Think about the bureaucracy and mania of office politics that prevents you from getting noticed for your hard (read: rage-fuelled) work
  • Think about that driver who cut you off then acted like it was your fault when you blasted your horn at them in frustration
  • Think about the professor who antagonized students and contributed to a stifling learning environment – shout out to Prof. K!
  • Think about how a coworker accidentally ate your sandwich even though it was labeled and said “Max’s Sandwich, HANDS OFF!”
So go ahead and get angry. Take it out on the client’s work. Everyone will be so impressed by the maturity with which you handled such a difficult situation. They’ll learn not to mess with you when they see that vein throbbing on your forehead and those fingers pounding away at the keys. They’ll understand that it’s not venting, it’s progress…

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Effective online ads

If you’re reading this, go to MSNBC and see if the ad I’m about to analyze is still live on the home page of the site.

T-Mobile in the US is advertising its network coverage in a series of really cool flash based banner ads and landing pages. The flash ads are activated when the page loads (or when you scroll down to them, I’m not sure). They are interactive on mouseover and not nearly as obtrusive or flashy as other banner ads on less credible sites. Two ads appear on the home page, one square right panel skyscraper ad and one flat rectangular panel further down the page in the middle of the news content. The viewer can wave the mouse over these ads and actually lead the animated character to the right where you see the tagline for T-Mobile.

Upon clicking through, the user is taken to a landing page (which is being tracked to see how effective the MSNBC ads are and which type of ad is drawing higher clicks) where they’re encouraged to map their cellular reception signal strength on T-Mobile’s signal map.

I’m fascinated by this campaign and it’s effective for the following reasons:
  • Simple message: coast-to-coast, T-Mobile has comprehensive cell coverage. Through research, T-Mobile has likely identified that cellular reception is a strong decision criteria for a certain group of consumers (likely the same profile of consumers who read MSNBC) over other offerings like mobile media, jazzy phones, or rate plans. Network clarity is still a big deal.
  • Simple call to action: see zones of signal strength in your area. It’s interactive and the ad only asks you to see the cellular coverage in your area. It’s not salesy. It’s intriguing. (I wonder if they’re tracking the locations people search for and matching it back to clickthroughs…it would be interesting to know which states or cities had the greatest interaction with this ad)
  • Unique online ads that catch the eye and are not too distracting. The 3D perspective created with Flash looks great and it isn’t screamingly page killing in the overall schema of the MSNBC site.
  • Loads of opportunity for testing and optimization. I assume that the ads, landing page, and destination page are tested on A/B splits and that this campaign is appearing on other partner sites.

I am surprised though that MSNBC couldn’t enable geotargeting for this ads – why is a Canadian web user seeing ads for a US cellular network?

Otherwise, terrific stuff.

See? Banner ads can still be effective.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Canadian PSAs from my childhood

Stay Alert, Stay Safe

So, are those bunnies boyfriend and girlfriend? I’m not really sure, but I guess it resonated with kids because Tiny Toon Adventures was so popular at the time. These were pretty cool PSAs and likely effective considering how much kids love cartoons. We still love cartoons.

What was lame:

  • (2:05) “Way to be” umm…..???
  • (3:00) “Always stay away from lonely places like alleys, woods, paths, and schoolyards!” Isn’t it strange that in high school I couldn’t wait to leave class to go hang out in those very places?
  • (3:45) “Cool dudes wouldn’t go off alone if they don’t have to” – and with that the independence of all Gen Y’ers is effectively squashed.
  • (4:10) A hot blonde whose car is broken down? Come on!

What I learned:

  • I really wish I had one of those floating skateboards like Bert and Gert.
  • Daniel is smart and doesn’t let any sick pedos fool him over!
  • “Never let the caller know you’re alone” – wasn’t this the central theme of Scream? Wise words, Gert.

Body Break

Oh Body Break. These health segments that seemed to run all the time on Canwest, CBC, and CTV stations during the best hours of programming. I especially liked how the summer oriented commercials would run well into the middle of winter as we’re three feet deep in snow and seeing Hal Johnson and Joanne McCloud go sea kayaking seems like a horrible middle finger to television audiences.

What was lame:

  • The music! Synthesizers never sounded so awful
  • Apparently all of my food needs can be shown in one confusing graph
  • Hal’s moustache. Maybe he was trying to look like Freddie Mercury but he missed the boat by about 20 years.

What I learned:

  • Eat healthy or I’ll have to deal with quiet-speaking health nuts in my kitchen.

Don’t you put it in your mouth

Everything is awful about this commercial. The cheap puppets, the spotty lighting, the ridiculous lyrics. The talking voiceover is cool though, it reminds me of Dr. Hanibal Lecter – “Tell me Clarice, do you still hear the lambs?” Honestly, Silence of the Lambs is a much better PSA than this crap!

What’s Lame:

  • Beets are not a delicious substitute for candy.
  • Blue monsters are not an effective substitute for rabbits on hoverboards to teach kids about safety.

What I learned:

  • The damn song! I’ve committed it to memory now.
  • To be scared, very scared:

Drugs Drugs Drugs

This is the trippiest PSA ever. It succeeds in getting kids more interested in drugs so they themselves can discover “which are good, which are bad”. I love the kids simultaneously itching themselves and picking their noses while lip syncing ‘drugs, drugs, drugs’. With at least thirty children in the PSA I can just imagine the sobbing and temper tantrums that accompanied making this commercial. I really love how they show good drugs and bad drugs – actual drugs. So what purpose does it serve to show a five year old pictures of heroin and coke? If anything this commercial makes me want to take drugs to understand what the fuss is all about! After all, check out the police officer smiling after the shot of the bad drugs at 0:30.

What was lame:

  • Police officers rapping about drugs
  • The lyrics are incomprehensible over the synthesizer and seizure inducing flashes. I should take drugs to find out what they’re saying!
  • Another butch 'stache on Dad. Super manly.

What I learned:

  • To ask my mom or ask my dad about drugs because apparently they know a TONNE about drugs!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Weekend Links

At what sounds like the most ghetto doughnut shop anywhere, you can enjoy what sounds like a fantastic French cruller.

Green goes gorgeous. Check out the Lightning Electric Car.

I like these guys and their take on Gen Y vs. their parents is spot on.

Looks awesome at the bar, but would anyone still make conversation if the table is more interesting?

McDonald’s grows its own billboard with lettuce. They’ve increased their budget for the next year. I hope it makes room for more innovative campaigns like this.

Fascinating sustainable architecture designs. I really like the Lighthouse skyscraper.

Not all the links can be green minded – NY Times reviews the new Dodge Challenger. It might be a bit boatish, but it’s still a real sexy car.

No more print media by 2018 – Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. Um….ok? Steve Ballmer also gave the world this performance:

I think these newspaper boxes are so clever. Daily Dose of Imagery has more great Toronto pics.

Handy tips for how to deal with those pesky introverts.

The Impulsive Buy checks out Pepsi’s latest taster’s choice campaign. Join the Dewmocracy!

Hahaha – I actually found myself offended the other day for a comment someone made about an ethnic group. So true.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Brainy vs. bonehead marketing

Tuesday June 17 is “Download Day” for Mozilla Firefox Version 3, a sophisticated update of an already powerful and easy-to-use browser.

I’m not sure how I learned about Download Day – it was most likely viral – either from Stumbling Upon the landing page advertising the event (highly rated by my fellow Stumblers), or perhaps because I added it as an event in my Facebook calendar. I clicked over to the Mozilla site and quickly signed up to pledge my support. Today I received an email invite from Mozilla reminding me of the day and to tell all my friends. A publicity buzz is being created because Mozilla aims to make this the single-largest downloaded program ever on a single day.

What a terrific example of a company that has its Web 2.0 house in order!

  • Strong viral promotion to create evangelists in everyday web surfers
  • The actual converting action, me downloading the new browser, is the perfect form of ‘experiential’ online advertising
  • Participating in an event with very democratic popular roots makes me feel like I’m part of a community of like-minded consumers, an important component to building trust and interpersonal relationships with the brand

On another note, Aeroplan and Yahoo announced paid music downloads in return for Aeroplan points, a move that has to be the dumbest loyalty marketing reward option I’ve ever heard of. In return for 5,500 Aeroplan points (that’s the equivalent of spending $5,500 on a co-branded credit card or a round trip flight from Toronto to Venezuela), you get 50 songs to download from the Aeroplan Music Store.

So I redeem my Aeroplan points for songs which I could have otherwise downloaded for free?

Remind me again why anyone would use this service?

Furthermore, who is this supposed to attract? Aeroplan is an elite loyalty program and the average age of its members is likely over 35. They’re business people, retirees, and family vacationers who actively earn and redeem points. If they’re listening to music it’s likely on cd. If they’re web-savvy enough to listen to MP3s, why wouldn’t they be using great paid services like iTunes or even better piracy and P2P services like bitTorrent? I think the online music space is crowded enough.

Aeroplan wants you to redeem your points for non-travel rewards. Flying is expensive. There are actually some non-revenue generating flights to vacation destinations because so many passengers are flying on points (although Aeroplan was spun off from Air Canada so the airline is compensated in cash for every flight redeemed). This explains why merch and entertainment options have become so prominent in the Aeroplan reward catalogue.

What is so boneheaded is the decision to not make this a free service. Again, downloading is ‘not illegal’ in Canada, and there’s even less risk when the files you share are torrents and you’re part of a cloud of other users exchanging only pieces of a single file.

Instead of redeeming points for songs, why not earn points when you download songs? Sounds interesting. A self-sustaining model could have been developed if more attention was paid to the marketing strategy. Aeroplan would also have appeared considerably less reactive and anxious to enter the online media realm.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Goodbye Tim

Goodbye Tim Russert, today is a very sad day.

Behavioural targeting

The Economist wrote a great article about a new “behavioural” approach to targeting internet advertisements. I'm surprised that this technology isn't being covered more.

Frankly I'm on the fence between whether it's got tremendous potential to be value-creating (not value-adding) for marketers or whether it is a severe breach of privacy which consumers will never get behind, even is it is an opt-in service.

The media model relies on marketers reachin consumers through content or services which consumers get for free or pay very little for.

Have you ever wondered why there are newspaper boxes and you take one newspaper from a large stack? What's preventing you from taking all the newspapers at once? newspapers WANT you to read them - they make money through ads and subscriptions. They are happy if all the newspapers are taken and read, it means more eyes on the ads.

But in this case the media model takes a weird turn. From a privacy standpoint, it seems that ISPs wouldn't be collecting data that they don't otherwise have stored. Now they're just using that data for targeted marketing.

Similarly, I think consumers could really be satisfied with fewer ads in their lives or if online marketing wasn't so distracting and obnoxious. This is definitely a step in the right direction to increase marketing relevance.

To set the tone, I think an appropriate song is Rockwell featuring Michael Jackson - 'Somebody's Watchin Me'.