Monday, May 31, 2010

Legal issues online - Don't sweat the small stuff

Last week I received a very menacing email from a Steven Kronick. He owns a company in the UK called On the Ontrack website we had the phrase "specialists in visual targeting". Our belief was this was a relatively generic term. According to Steven Kronick and his legal department, it is not. See the email below:

> Dear OnTrackCommunications:
> During a routine Intellectual Property Protection search on Google, we
> accidentally found that you are advertising that you "are specialists in
> this avenue of visual targeting,"on your Services page located at
> You should know that "Visual Targeting" is a Registered Trademark that
> is being executed by a team of attorneys compiled from Darby&Darby PC,
> PepperHamilton LLP, and LeasonEllis LLP. In addition, Visual Targeting
> technologies, whatever you may mean by that, are protected by
> International Patent Laws, that we spent over a decade inventing and
> protecting.
> Please remove our intellectual property from your website immediately,
> as its credit is given to you and your partners rather its rightful
> owners, and no consent was given by Visual Targeting Corporation, or its
> representatives for you to claim our property as your own.
> Every web page on, and piece of promotional material
> published by Visual Targeting Corporation, states that the "Visual
> Targeting" trademark cannot be used without consent. Please remove this
> term from your website immediately, so we do not have to speak about
> this legal issue with our combined 25+ lawyers. If this term is not
> removed within 48 hours of this notice, we will have no choice but to
> hand this case over to our team of attorneys.
> Warm Regards,
> Steven Kronick
> Founder & CEO
> Visual Targeting Corporation

Needless to say, it didn't appear like an issue worth the time it would take to converse about it so we altered the wording accordingly. It does show you, however, in this age of quickly evolving disciplines that companies are actively trying to carve out niches so specific that they guard their intellectual property quite strongly.

Tomorrow, did the Quitfacebook movement have any impact?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Heating it up

If you live in the Toronto area you know we experienced quite a heat wave this week with record breaking temperatures for May. This week for our salute to great creative we celebrate the theme, hot, hot, hot. As we all know, hot can have different meanings; a celebration of sexuality, pure physical temperature, or demand.

We start off with a commercial from earlier this year from the fertile minds of Bud Light. They stay cool in the office and take it all off for charity.

Panasonic came up with a cute commercial to illustrate how "attentive" they are to your household temperature.

And as we continue with the hot theme, nothing is hotter than the international launch of the new Ipad. It was finally released in Canada last week. But saying it's available, and actually being able to find a store that has one in stock are two different things.

As always, we welcome your feedback and contributions to this weekly creative celebration.

Coming up on Monday, we just received a notification of legal action for a term used on the Ontrack Communications website. Find out how your site could leave you vulnerable too, on Monday's blog. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Decide who the messenger will be - then shoot him. Predictive Context Devices

As ad practitioners we know the basic essentials still hold true; create a solid message, hone in on the target, and flip the emotional trigger. The problem however is deciding where and how to get the message out.

Social media and the web have thrown a myriad of monkey wrenches into the mix. Will a standard television commercial suffice any longer? Should I go completely social media and forgo television altogether? Should I go a pinch of radio with a twit of twitter and a full cup of Facebook.

Well just to ad another confusing offramp into the media freeway, introducing Predictive Context Devices. They are mobile devices that "know way too much about me". They sync into my digital calendar and remind me I have a lunch appointment. They tap back into my recent restaurant stops and make suggestions based on my tastes. They follow my life patterns and make suggestions based on my past, to help me generate my future.

I have a hard enough time deciding what I want for breakfast without a device adding confusion and suggestions to the mix.

Or perhaps I should just have an on week off week. On weeks I decide. Off weeks "it" decides. Kind of like a relationship minus the small talk.

For more on these devices, click here and read Oren Franks article in Adage.

Predictive Context devices - Oren Frank

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Google & Twitter make announcements

I've been following SearchEngineLand, the blog, and recently they posted this announcement from Google.

The Google AdSense blog announced the exact revenue share they give publishers for placing AdSense ads on their web site. In the upcoming months, Google promised to show the revenue share within the AdSense interface reports.

Google broke down the revenue share in two categories so far:

(1) 68% revenue share for content ads, the ads you see on web sites. Meaning, publishers keep 68% of the revenue earned, while Google takes the rest.

(2) 51% revenue share for search ads, the search ads you see for using Google search on your web site. Publishers get 51% and Google takes the rest.

Google said they will not disclose the revenue share AdSense for mobile applications, AdSense for feeds, and AdSense for games at this point, but may disclose those revenue share amounts as the products mature.

Why is Google disclosing this information now? Earlier this month, it promised to do so in response to an investigation by the Italian anti-trust authority see (Google May Finally Disclose AdSense Split … If You’re An Italian Newspaper, That Is). It has also been under pressure to reveal this information not just for Italian ad publishers worldwide — which it’s finally doing today.

Google also said the revenue share of 68% has never changed, but the 51% was less prior to 2005. Google said they “can’t guarantee that the revenue share will never change (our costs may change significantly, for example), but we don’t have any current plans to do so for any AdSense product.”

Staying with social media, Twitter has made a separate announcement regarding third party "feeders".

"We will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API," Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo said in a blog post today.

The move, intended to preserve the integrity of the Twitter timeline, will sharply curtail the activities of a number of Twitter ad startups, including, Sponsored Tweets, 140 Proof and Magpie, while giving more prominence to Twitter's own ads, called "Promoted Tweets."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Hotels & the Return of the Griswalds

As we prepare for the long weekend in Canada and perhaps the great weekend getaway, today Creative Excellence Fridays looks at hotels.

Thanks to Julie Epplett from Conference Direct for the source link to the Hyatt campaign.

The Hyatt started this online campaign a few years back and continues to add to the online library. Using their Youtube channel, it allows them not to be constrained to 30 or 60 seconds, which allows the comedy troupe time to really have fun with these spots.

Using the same troupe players, this next spot embodies everything wrong that could happen in an ill fated conference call.

If you were a fan of the National Lampoon movies featuring Chevy Chase and the Griswalds, you'll see the genious in this next piece. is sort of an Expedia for timeshares. It's an online source for vacation properties around the world. They decided to bring back the Griswalds circa 2010 and produce a short film to promote their url. It's very well done. If you enjoy the trailer, stop over at the main site and watch the whole short film.

Salut for today. Have a great long weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

60% of polled believe TV commercials not as effective as they once were

This is a statistic delivered by Maggie Fox of Social Media Group at yesterday's Digital Media show, Mesh, in Toronto.

Thanks to Marketing Magazine and David Brown for the coverage.

Source: Marketing David Brown
In its five years, the Mesh conference in Toronto has grown into a two-day must-attend event for anyone working in technology and digital media. Mesh 2010 got underway yesterday at the MaRS Centre and Marketing's editorial team was there to post updates to Marketing Daily twice a day and even more frequently on Twitter @Marketing_Mag.

Marketers need to start thinking like media companies to create and distribute good content and long-lasting distribution channels.

That was the message from Maggie Fox, founder of Social Media Group to a packed room of Mesh attendees yesterday afternoon in Toronto.

More than 60% of advertisers feel that traditional TV ads aren't as effective as they used to be, she said to kick off her session on the "Art and science of scaling social media."

It's not that TV ads suddenly got bad. It's that people's attention is fragmented and so marketers have been trying to attract new attention by creating content.

"But your content sucks," she said.

Brands have always been focused on quantity—it was all about impressions—while media companies cared about quality content; content so good that people have been willing to steal it. But that has to change.

"The question is how to you flip your content to make it good enough to steal," she said.

The objective should be to create "social objects—things worth spreading, things worth sharing," said Fox. Sometimes that content has to be created by the brand, but other times consumers are creating it for you. Videos, blog posts... it should all be viewed as content to build your brand, she said.

"It just has to be good. It just has to better… People don't get tired of good."

But just as important as creating good content and taking advantage of earned content created by consumers, is sharing the content quickly and effectively.

She cited a recent pilot program with Ford and that saw a Ford-sponsored link in the Digg listing that directed visitors to a third-party blog post about Ford. The program was part of a value-add to a traditional display buy, but aside from the small "sponsored by Ford" message above the link, it looked like a typical Digg listing.

You also have to think like a broadcaster and build permanent real estate, she said. "Build channel… No more microsites." Marketers should be carving out a space—be it on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter or other options—where consumers will return again and again, rather than a temporary site that disappears with a promotion.

Asked why she hadn't used the words "conversation" or "relationship"—popular buzz terms in social media marketing—Fox suggested those terms are overused.

Scaling social media is about taking content and getting it to as many people as possible as quickly as possible, she said. "This is mass marketing."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Website - Building the house Part 6

Today on Part 6 of "Website - building the house" we look at the process.

We are assuming we now have a signed off sitemap that the client feels comfortable with and is ready to move forward.

Next step, and some say the most important one, is to start building a tempsite. What's the difference between a temp site and a final site?
Temp sites are just images, jpegs or png files saved in a temporary folder on a server that your client can view. The images are saved in the same size as the soon to be website. This way your client gets to:
a) see how the site will look in a web brower so they can step back, sleep on it, and see if this "feels right".

b) you save your team the time of coding everything until you know that the visual look and direction is what your client really wants to go with.

I can't stress how important this is. Once you start coding the site, this becomes a very time consuming part of the task. You have to ensure that the site is cross browser compliant.
Microsoft Explorer alone presents a huge problem because earlier browser versions such as 6.0 require much more tender loving care code than newer versions of Explorer. Then you want to make sure the site is Safari friendly for Macs. Mozilla has become a very popular browser as well that can't be ignored. Beyond that there's Opera, Chrome and even Netscape still for a small number of visitors.

The time that goes into making your site friendly eats away at the time you could better dedicate to tweaking the visual brand, creating meaningful content and SEO preparation.

Tomorrow - SEO. Top tips to think about as you "rebuild".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Website - Building the house Part 5

So far we've covered off:
1. The importance of content.
2. The importance of focusing on your core business strengths.
3. Ensuring your business focus is in line with making you competitive.
4. Designing a site map and website that keeps content AND SEO in mind, but not one at the expense of the other.
5. The importance of an appropriate and unique visual brand and choosing type that is web 2.0 friendly for body copy.

Today - we'll talk about the process.
Aligning your sitemap into a document that enables your client to see how the site will break down is essential.

However, equally essential is giving your client the opportunity to see, visually how the all important home page will look.
You want to give your client choices. If there are no existing colour schemes and the brand is looking for a refresh, this is your chance to allow your client the chance to spread their wings. What are your choices at this point?

If you want to have images that dissolve on to the screen and dissolve off you'll use a web language or technology like flash or ajax.

Remember, designing a website is like designing a multimedia television commercial. You need to guide the eye where you want it to go. Subtle motion enhances. Fast motion dominates. Create a slow moving slide show on one portion of the screen which refreshes images without screaming "Hey everyone, I'm the star of this page! Look at me! Look at me!"
By having web images refresh, it also gives you the opportunity to speak to different segments of your client's target. Different age groups and ethnicities can be referenced in those images.

Tomorrow, saving time and offering choices.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Website - Building the house Part 4

We've covered the importance of re-assessing your business focus through your sitemap. Today we cover the importance of clear design communication.

This is what separates the professional shop from the person in their basement creating websites as a part time job.

The visual communication is the personality. Just as Starbucks has a clear visual communication, as does Geico and IBM, so does your client. It's part of the master brand, which needs to carry over flawlessly into the website.

Note: Fonts play a key role here.
When you, or someone else designed the master brand, the fonts chosen may not play well with web 2.0. Body copy fonts need to have brand flexibility because they must be in a web compliant font. Crawlers can't dissect text from a graphic; therefore you need to stray from that.

If you're creating a visual brand from scratch, don't be in a hurry to just get something up. This is crucial to the long term growth and image of the company.

Spend a day going through all your competitors visual branding. Make an xcell spread sheet and type comments of what you like and don't like. Take note of their colours, logo, fonts, sitemap categories, and what they are emphasizing on their main sell sections. Are you sell points parallel to theirs? Do you have a product benefit that's superior to theirs? If so, reshape your sitemap so you create a competitive benefit as well as a visual brand that signals the personality you want to convey.

Here's something to think about. They're visual branding seems more akin to selling racecars than web services. But if you click through the site, and watch some of the personal messages from Bob Parons you see he has spent a lot of time keying in on the message. The visual identity is not exactly "corporate friendly" with the tight tshirts and motorcycle theme. But somehow it works.

Tomorrow - shortcuts on getting to the next step with the client.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Legendary car commercials

As North American auto manufacturers begin to regain their hold on the North American audience, today on Creative Excellence Fridays we go back to where it all began. Here's a great montage of heritage car commercials.

Car marketers realized a long time ago the power of Hollywood in convincing purchasers which automobile should be in their driveway.
It makes you realize how far we've come in combining technology with romanticism when you watch this stunning commercial from 2005 featuring Steve McQueen. McQueen had always been identified with fast living and fast cars and legendary car and motorcycle scenes. He did his own riding in "The Great Escape" (1963) and was behind the wheel in the iconic car chase movie "Bullit" (1968). And when you mix one part McQueen with one part "Field of Dreams" (1989) the end result is pure magic.

Coming up next week, Hotels. Will a mint under the pillow still bring 'em in?

And on Monday's blog, Part 3 of "Websites from scratch - building the house"

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Website - Building the house Part 3

Yesterday we touched on how writing your website site map can help you focus on your core business attributes. So let's run down what we have so far.

Our FlowerShop, Acme Flowers specializes in beautiful, award winning floral arrangements for weddings. That will be in our keywords opening paragraph. We also specialize in flowers for funerals, birthdays, anniversaries. We accept all major credit cards, and deliver. And we're located in three locations around the city. So our site map can look as follows:

HOME Awards Occasions Choose your arrangement Locations Contact us

Home - As mentioned above, this opening paragraph is the text that people first see when they come on your site. As well, this is the text that Google and other engines capture and post when your site comes up in natural search queries.
As well, to impress on the visitor this is a secure site you'll want your SSL logos prominently displayed as well.

You'll want to have Credit card icons on the main page as well as your phone number, preferably a toll free one, prominently displayed.

Awards - You'll go into the awards you have won, with well appointed pictures and press releases.

Occasions - you'll talk about all the occasions you prepare flowers for - with sub pages such as weddings, parties, showers, funerals etc You'll have a link that takes you to Choose your Arrangement so it flows into the Conversion page.

Choose Your Arrangement - Here we'll have beautifully taken photos of your most popular arrangements placed in order of price and occasion.

Locations - Tie in with Googlemap to make it even easier to find you.

Contact us - A major phone number, head office mailing address and email and perhaps your company positioning statement.

If you choose to have an about us page make sure it's not redundant with Contact us or information on the main home page.

Tomorrow is Creative Excellence Fridays. Coming up on Monday we'll continue with Building the House Part 4. Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Website - Building the house Part 2

Yesterday we talked about the importance of planning your new website not just for aesthetics, but also with SEO in mind. You dont' want one to drag down the other. They must work together in harmony, but, as mentioned yesterday, the most important aspect for your potential visitor, and search engines, is to create a site filled with quality content. That way everybody wins.

Having said that, what is the process? It stems much further than creating a website. It goes right back to the product itself.

Step 1.
The content. The sitemap.
This is an excellent exercise because it forces you to focus on your business model and detemine what your real product or service is and what is most important to you and your potential clientele.

The Unique Selling Proposition.

Let's say you're creating a site for a flower shop. Pour over all the competitors sites. See what they are offering. Try and get a common denominator. Look over your client's business model. What flowers/plants are the most profitable. What are your competitors leaving out? What unique service or product do you offer that no one else is offering. Is it a superior knowledge of plants and flowers mixed with extra customer service? The best price does not create a business model you can sustain a long term business with; it just sets you up to always be looking for suppliers who will in turn undercut their suppliers and so on.

There is an excellent commercial for Scotts Turf Builder on television right now. Young home owner wants to have a better lawn. He consults his father in law who insists he take back that "other stuff" to the store he bought it from and buy Scotts Turf Builder because "they don't use fillers". Superior positioning of the product creates an excellent "star stage" for the website. That you can build a business around, and for these purposes, a website.

Tomorrow - more on sitemaps and their importance.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Website design preplanning for SEO- it's essential

You want to build a new website. You want it to be visually pleasing, and mirror the brand. Where do you start?

We firmly believe building a website is like building a house, with a firm blueprint necessary before the first spade goes into the ground.

That said, when you're building a house, it's the insulation and nature elements you think about as well as the esthetics.

A website has a parallel mission. Esthetics and organic search properties. Remember, a website can't and shouldn't be all things to all people. As Google and other search companies tell you again, and again, make sure the content is sound. That is the most important, crucial rule in search engine mindsets.

Tomorrow, the steps to "building the house."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Starbucks brand balance

Starbucks is rolling out two new commercials this week for two new initiatives.
One to promote the national grocery launch of Via, its instant coffee product, and customizable Frappuccino beverages in store.

Here's some food for thought (no pun intended) for Starbucks to think about.

Brands are pegged by level and perceived value.


Once a brand becomes too ubiquitious it loses a lot of its value. The tradeoff with being everywhere is the loss of scarcity. That special quality. A premium brand can not be everywhere because it becomes ordinary. That's when it becomes a commodity and is no longer worth the premium price. The thing that made Starbucks different was the experience, but that is exactly what they sacrificed when they tried to multiply it a thousand times. You can not have the authentic European coffee house experience when you build a thousand stores that all look and feel the same.
Listen to the Stock Analysts

If Starbucks would have listened to their customers rather than the stock analysts they wouldn't have sacrificed the European coffee house experience to keep up with growth forecasts. They added greasy breakfast sandwiches, crowded the “third space” with coffee machines and merchandise, and rushed to open new stores to grow profits, while sacrificing the level of service.

Recent store sales have gone up so it's hard to argue with the end result. One wonders however if the long term brand proliferation will continue in positive directions.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Banks branding the feelgood factor

Greece's instability has the world watching carefully. Even the Canadian dollar fell, in spite of it being attached to one of the more stable economies. One of the reasons yesterday was a clumsy finger in a large trading house pushing the wrong button and making an incorrect trade. Shouldn't they have a little message come up before each trade that says "Are you sure this is what you want to do?"

In times like these it's interesting to see how the financial institutions brand themselves.

Ally Bank has received accolades for this highly effective campaign to illustrate how they don't "hide behind the fine print".

One of the most talked about bank campaigns in the last two years has been the series put out by Capital One. Carefully blending humour and sell points is not easy, but they appear to have it down to a science.

And a second in the series to highlight their travel point advantages.

Wrapping up this week, a non related commercial which is purely for the smile factor. This falls into the "I can't believe they got away with this" category. Thanks to Hal Roback of Frankietomattos for passing this one on. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Google spearheading new mobile ad eco-system

As the world points to mobile as the next great communications and advertising frontier, corporate partners pull their wagons in a circle to set up camps of competition. Google, as usual, appears to be leading the way. The concern now will be, whether the Federal Trade Commission will allow it.

More details below from today's AdAge.

When Google proposed a search deal with Yahoo, Madison Avenue turned out in force to block it. But in Google’s proposed acquisition of AdMob, they’re taking a different view: They like it, and fear the Federal Trade Commission will needlessly block the deal.

Following reports that the FTC plans to challenge Google’s $750 million acquisition of the mobile ad network, executives interviewed during the six-month investigation — even AdMob’s competitors — are coming forward to say they recommended the agency approve the deal.But some have expressed fears that FTC staffers have already made up their minds to block the deal, even though they appear to have a limited understanding of the mobile ad ecosystem.

“We’re a bit surprised the [FTC] staff is close to making a recommendation, given how unsophisticated their understanding of the mobile ad market seemed over the phone,” wrote Rob Sarvis, co-founder of app developer Wertago, in a blog postendorsing the Google acquisition.

“I’m surprised more people aren’t speaking out to defend the tech industry against the government being overbearing,” he told Ad Age. “There’s no way that generalist lawyers and economists can out-think the market.”

Wertago is a relatively small entertainment app by downloads and staff; Mr. Sarvis says he spoke to the FTC about 10 days ago. FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan declined comment.

While Wertago’s voice is arguably the most scathing, it’s not the only one publicly criticizing the FTC’s prolonged AdMob investigation. Consultant Greg Sterling, who spoke with the FTC, agrees that the lawyer he spoke to had limited understanding of the mobile ad industry.

“My sense from the questions I heard and their underlying assumptions is that the FTC was inclined to block the deal from the start,” he wrote on the blog Search Engine Land. Another app developer agrees that the FTC’s mind seemed made up.

A direct AdMob competitor, mobile ad network GreyStripe, is in support of Google’s acquisition. CEO Michael Chang says big companies like Google and Apple entering the mobile advertising space bodes well because they bring attention and investment to an emerging industry. Mobile advertising in 2009 represents less than $1 billion in spending vs. almost $25 billion online, according to eMarketer.

These testimonials came days after Bloomberg Business Week reported the FTC will urge filing suit to block the deal announced last November. If the deal goes through, Google will be the mobile-ad leader with 21% market share, according to market research firm IDC.

What worries some isn’t Google’s market share, but recent changes that limit the flow of data from apps to third parties. That’s one reason the FTC or Department of Justice may investigate Apple for restricting competition in mobile advertising, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Recent changes in Apple’s terms of service for iPhone app could restrict how third parties access data, which could affect targeting, frequency capping and performance tracking — all things integral to mobile advertising. “If it is true that Apple has banned third-party data networks, then that does seem to be worthy of an investigation,” said one developer.

“If Apple enforces their new Terms of Service, they could block or significantly disadvantage developers from being able to work with third-party companies to help them generate revenue or to track and improve the performance of their applications,” AdMob’s general manager for North America Jason Spero said in a statement after Apple released its new terms weeks ago.

Presumably, Apple will keep that data with Quattro, the ad network it acquired in January. Apple has yet to clarify those terms, though they won’t go into affect until its new operating system launches this summer.

“It’s a huge issue if they [Apple] enforce that to the strictest letter,” said Mr. Chang. “For analytics companies, ad networks or social platforms, it would make it hard to operate on the iPhone platform.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

GM taking liberties and So long to Ernie Harwell

NEW YORK ( -- A wave of criticism that started two weeks ago reached a crescendo this morning when Washington-based advocacy group Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, charging General Motors with deceptive advertising.

CEI claims the Detroit car maker misled the public when it said in a national TV ad it has paid back its Troubled Assets Relief Program bailout loan from the government. The spot, which was created by McCann Erickson, Detroit, ended its run last week. A McCann spokeswoman referred calls to the automaker.

The commercial featured GM Chairman-CEO Ed Whitacre walking through an assembly plant and saying that "we have repaid our government loan in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule."

Critics, however, argue that the ad is somewhat disingenuous, saying the repayment came from another government bailout account provided by TARP -- or as one TV pundit described it, "paying off your MasterCard with your Visa."

In the complaint filed with the FTC, CEI says the ad "gives the false impression that GM has used its own funds to pay back all the bailout money that it received from the federal government. In fact, GM has only repaid a fraction of those funds -- barely 10%. Moreover, GM apparently repaid its loan by using other federal funds."

"GM might argue that its ad is literally accurate, but the fact is it's completely misleading," said Hans Bader, senior attorney for CEI, which describes itself as a "public interest group dedicated to free enterprise and limited government."

On a completely different topic - from a simpler media time, so long to Ernie Harwell. Ernie was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 40 years. His voice was part of summer as a kid growing up within earshot of Detroit radio.
So long Ernie

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BP's Beyond Petroleum slogan becoming toxic

In 2000 British Petroleum launched a high-profile, $200 million public relations ad campaign designed by Ogilvy & Mather to position the company as environmentally-friendly. The company introduced a new slogan, "Beyond Petroleum," and changed its 70 year-old logo to a new, cheerful green and yellow sunburst. To many, the "Beyond Petroleum" campaign has always been a bit of a joke. After all, not only did it pitch BP's smallest energy sector while ignoring its major one, but BP's investment in extractive oil operations dwarfed its investment in renewable energy. BP spent a mere $45 million in 1999 to buy a solar energy company called Solarex -- a microscopic acquisition compared to the $26.5 billion it invested to buy ARCO to expand its oil drilling portfolio. BP is also the company behind the environmentally controversial (and some would say disastrous) oil sands project in Alberta. Now, in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's greenwashing campaign looks even less slick. The company's hypocrisy and greenwashing have risen to the surface, and are spreading uncontrollably.
The public relations company who mans the helm on the PR recovery will have an almost more difficult job than capping the out of control oil in the Gulf.

Monday, May 3, 2010

McDonalds is Lovin' it & Social Media Essentials

After more than a year of consumer research and agency brainstorming, McDonald's global chief marketing officer unveiled an updated take on its now 7-year-old "I'm Lovin' It" campaign last week before an audience of 15,000 franchisees, marketers and suppliers.

"I'm Lovin' It" is now the company's most successful and longest-running campaign, surpassing the iconic "You deserve a break today," and "Food, Folks and Fun," both in longevity and sales gains. The tagline actually predates CMO Mary Dillon, who took over McDonald's global marketing in 2005. "If you look at the business success, there would have been no reason" for changing the campaign, she said in a subsequent interview, "except for ego."

Fast food franchises have been rolling with the punches and changing their menu's more than Lady Gaga changes outfits, experimenting with more natural, healthy food choices. But the end result has been healthy increases and reduced share loss.

And as promised on Friday's Creative Excellence blog - another entry in "Social Media Branding essentials"

Social Media is about reaching out your tenacles to as many cyber posts as possible and have them all point back to you. It's that simple.
But, as in life, when you reach out, people won't always want to reach back.
How do you achieve lift off?
There's no golden success formula. But one thing is simple, come up with a good idea, THEN tell the world, and watch the bubble.

Case in point; a few weeks back when blogger Jennifer McCreight challenged women around the world to show cleavage and see if woman's breasts were really responsible for the natural disasters of the world, as Iranian clergy claimed.
So far 105,000 people have joined the facebook page and countless others have purchased the Boobquake tshirts Booquake

It's proof that a fun, unique idea can rally people in large numbers; and that's what social media is all about no?

See you Tuesday.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ontrack Communications Inc.

Ontrack Communications is excited about our most recent contribution.  Toronto company Brands Perform asked us to create a visual brand for a new condo promotion for  You can see the end result at