Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Football and Mail .. what do they have in common

They're both talking strike. NFL has instore marketers spinning because they are looking at B plans for September should there be no NFL to promote and hype the reciprocal good feelings back on their mouthwash, running shoes and candy bars.

Meanwhile Canada Post is back to talking strike. Perhaps they should fill the jobs with out of work linebackers. I can guarantee dogs throughout the country will not be so quick to hop the fence and go for the ankle.

In related sports marketing news, Winnipeg is jumping with glee today, as are Canadian marketing agencies looking to find another inroad with half a million sports happy fans.
Congratulations Winnipeg and the new Thrashers, Jets, or whatever it is they end up calling themselves.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Google accused of espionage

From the news this morning... San Francisco Examiner.

San Francisco -Google’s ambitious plan to supplant credit cards with smartphones has thrust the Internet search leader into a legal tussle with online payment pioneer PayPal, which contends Google stole its ideas by hiring away two key executives.

The story Google

Friday, May 27, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Cameras Cameras Cameras

Marketing a camera is one of the more daunting tasks marketers face. Camera's are looked at as the doorway to the view. So many cameras, so many levels of technological "gizmometry" (it's a word, honest). Selling a camera is like selling a smart phone. They need to develop a level of loyalty in order to have you purchasing the next Canon, and the next.

The first commercial on Creative Excellence Fridays features a commercial for
"The Camera Store". Not unlike Henry's in Canada or BHPhotovideo in New York, these guys take their camera's seriously.

This is very clever, well shot, and a real winner in creative marketing of a product category. It's proof that a great viral doesn't have to be crude to be popular.

This spot from Samsung adheres to the rule, put a baby in your commercial and you can sell anything.

If you were wondering about who created the music, it's Katie Herzig and Hey Na Na.
Samsung music

That's it for this week. As always, comments, suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Facebook and Linked In thoughts from JVS

I attended the JVS strictly business luncheon yesterday in Toronto and enjoyed comments from the two key note speakers.
Jordan Banks of Facebook Canada and Jonathan Lister of LinkedIn Canada both had some key insites.

Most interesting to me was the obvious observation by Jordan, that companies make the strategical error of planning a "digital strategy". In fact, he states, off line and on line media should all be planned to work in concert with each other. It should all fall under one banner, and not be segmented off.

I agree with Jordan, that On line media should brand, inform, entertain and "direct", meaning using the conventional television radio to do everything they used to do, but taking it a step further and having that media drive your audience to your digital realms to allow interested customers to opportunity to learn, interact and share.

Jonathan Lister had some corporate culture observations about Linkedin that are worth sharing. He mentioned that one day a month, Linkedin employees dedicate their entire staff to doing something for the community. Picking up waste, etc. to beautify and create goodwill both internally and externally. And a very important point; he said revenue generation is #4 in their list of priorities when looking at product development and modification. Rule #1, is it going to make a better experience for the customer.

Now those are rule's to live by.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ron Howard in front of the camera at Cannes

From AdAge May25

Ron Howard, the Oscar-winning director of a "Beautiful Mind," is making a rare foray back in front of the camera this week. (No, he's not reprising his role as Richie Cunningham for a "Happy Days" reunion.)

Ron Howard Canon
Ron Howard Canon

The filmmaker is teaming up with Canon and its agency of record, Grey, New York, for a movie-themed ad campaign, "Long Live Imagination." The campaign includes a photo contest, "Project Imagin8ion," which will encourage photographers to submit photos to serve as the basis for a Hollywood short film, as selected by Mr. Howard. The first spot debuts tonight during "Conan" on TBS, with other airings are slated for Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives," Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" and AMC's "Breaking Bad."

"It's incredibly well-designed and very visual. It was kind of fun to not have any responsibility to come in and do what the director asked me to do," Mr. Howard said of his first formal commercial endorsement (a 2008 Funny or Die endorsement video of Barack Obama notwithstanding). "I thought it was a great idea and a fantastic storytelling exercise, this challenge of pledging to take your inspiration to form these photographs. It's gonna push the story in in all sorts of creative directions and yield something that's very original."

As part of the contest, Mr. Howard will select eight photos, one each from eight cinematic categories: Setting, Time, Character, Mood, Relationship, Goal, Obstacle and The Unknown. Winners will be selected after June 14 and will be incorporated into a short film, shot with a Canon DSLR, that will premiere this fall in New York at a red-carpet event. Alliance, the entertainment-marketing arm of Grey, helped facilitate the program.

Mr. Howard said he grew up around Canon cameras, and even shoots with Canon's DSL from time to time, such as a series of clips he directed for Funny or Die featuring celebs such as Heidi Montag. "It's a company I certainly don't mind endorsing," he said. "It was very logical to me that they would come up with an idea that's creative and stimulate people's imaginations and just remind people of how much creative potential they have."

Mr. Howard's production company, Imagine Entertainment, has been keeping him busy behind the camera, starting with this summer's "Cowboys & Aliens," a sci-fi western directed by Jon Favreau. "That's a fun movie. I can't wait til opening weekend to sit with audiences while they watch that," he said. "It's just a fun combination of the two genres just yields some really fun fresh action. It's great. Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford sharing the same frame is really great for movie fans."

He and longtime producing partner Brian Grazer are also prepping this fall's comedy "Tower Heist" as well as the Clint Eastwood drama "J. Edgar." He's also about to go into preproduction on an adaptation of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower," set for release in 2012. The abundance of similarly titled projects is still confusing to Mr. Howard, who started talking about "Dark Tower" when Ad Age asked about "Tower Heist."

He and Mr. Grazer just saw a finished cut of "Tower Heist" last week, and was pleased to find standout comedic scenes with co-stars like Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick. "If you're a fan of anybody in the ensemble, you won't be disappointed," he said.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cell phone tracking locally stored logs

It’s reasonable to be concerned about the abundance of data stored on your smartphone. Beyond the information that users intentionally record, such as text messages, photos and notes–it was made known recently that Apple iPhones were keeping locally stored logs of individuals’ whereabouts, in the form of a comprehensive list of every cell tower the device connected to. This data could be mined by anyone with access to a user’s phone or personal computer, including law enforcement.

Apple quickly put out press announcements apologizing and updated the iPhone software to eliminate long-term location logging.

More to come on this I'm sure.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mobile statistics

We heard all the pundits say it; mobile is the future. With tablets now outselling personal computers in certain categories, we can't help but be very optimistic about the future of computing on the go.

Here are some statistics from AdAge that support this:

2.3 times more
mobile searches worldwide in fourth-quarter 2010 from the prior period
of overall restaurant search queries were mobile in January
of overall auto search queries were mobile in January
of overall "flowers" search queries were mobile on Mothers Day
6 p.m.-9 p.m.
time of day Google sees the highest volume of mobile search
of mobile search queries have local intent

If you business model hasn't built in a mobile component, you may want to pull out that drawing board again.

For our Canadian readers, Happy Victoria Day!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - The theme is the thing

Happy Friday. Going into a long weekend we wanted to keep it light and send you off with a smile.

In past Creative Excellence Friday blogs we've gone on and on about the importance of not losing the sell in the silly. Humourous commercials need to make sure the gag is always central to the main selling point.

Today's first spot definitely got the message. Funny, very well produced, and sexy as hell on the final closing product shot.

How many times have you gone into a computer store and asked the "expert" some comparison questions, thinking you'd get some direction on your purchase, and ended up thinking "this guy doesn't know what he's talking about." Obviously you're not alone.

And closing off with a car spot, one of the funniest non dialogue commercials I've seen in a while. It's the small things, like the parent off to the right who sort of drifts back and then laughs nervously. I had to watch this a couple of times to soak it all in.

That's it for this week. Have a great long weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Keywords - effective title tagging

One of the easiest way to get immediate punch out of your home page on your website is keyword titling. Make sure you have a firm handle on what keywords best focus on the crux of your business. Then narrow those keywords down into a keyword rich page title, not just for your home page, but all your pages.

Write a descriptive title for each page -- rich in keywords you want people to find you with -- using 5 to 8 words. Remove the unnecessary words like the, and, etc. while still making it understandable. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page is found. Encourage searchers to click on the title by making it a bit controversial. Place this at the top of the webpage between the HEAD tags, in this format: TITLE Better Video Blogging -- Better ways to Promote Your Website through video TITLE. (It also shows on the blue bar at the top of your internet browser.)

It's a quick, but essential step for an immediate benefit to your rankings.

Remember as well, the benefits of using video to post your articles and online sell segments. As always, we encourage you to check out our new site, www.socialvideowizards.com

Have a great day, and make it easy to be found!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Microsoft uses minority share in Google to his advantage

Bing is now integrating more Facebook results into their searches. They're hoping this gives them a decided advantage over Google. Google is still the search leader with 60-70% of browser searches using the search engine in the world (minus Asia).

No doubt there will be many more partnerships and alliances as the competition heats up.

Article here

Friday, May 13, 2011

Computer ad wars

Today on Creative Excellence Fridays - we look at the ongoing battle between the big guns, Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Simon Dumenco, a media columnist I follow on Twitter, wrote a great article for Adweek about the new Google laptop. Here's the article . He commented on how much their new ad feels a lot like an Apple ad. What does an Apple ad feel like?

Well, like this ad from.. cough cough.. Google.

Now compare the feel of that with..this.

To their credit, the new Blackberry Playbook has a look and feel of their own. Still using well known music as their soundtrack, the feel is unique enough to not be confused with the Apple look.

That's it for this week. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Google redefines the laptop

Google's brash attitude towards rewriting computing as we know it continues with the new laptop Chrome operating system. Cnet's tech department provides the data for todays blog article.

Google has taken a big step toward redefining the laptop, making it purely Web-centric, untethered to the Windows past.

Chromebooks are, in a way, tablets with keyboards, as Hugo Barra, director Android Product Management at Google, said today at Google's I/O developers conference, streamed here. That's a key point of departure from the traditional small Windows laptops, aka, Netbooks.

"Attributes that make phones and tablets great...we're bringing this to notebooks," he said.

Those attributes include Cloud-based apps, extreme portability, built-in 3G connectivity, instant-on, and all-day battery life--all hallmarks of tablets like Apple's iPad and Motorola's Xoom.

Acer's Chromebook starts at $349 and 2.95 pounds. It runs Google's Chrome OS on top of an Intel dual-core N570 Atom processor.

Acer's Chromebook starts at $349 and 2.95 pounds. It runs Google's Chrome OS on top of an Intel dual-core N570 Atom processor.

(Credit: Acer)

The similarly-sized Netbook, on the other hand, has been, since its debut in 2007, essentially a conventional Windows laptop, just smaller. Google's focus on the seemingly trivial feature of instant Web connection is a key difference between traditional laptops and so-called post-PC devices, like the smartphone and tablet.

"Every Chromebook is instant turn on. Every time you boot up, you're up and running within eight seconds," Barra said.

In this respect, Google may succeed where Qualcomm's "smartbook" failed. That laptop actually aspired to many of the same things but never became a viable commercial product.

But the Chromebook's novelty can potentially be a weakness. Particularly for businesses and educators still tied to Windows. Google is trying to address that with Web-based management features. "Seamless updates directly from Google keep the operating system and software fresh, eliminating the need to manually patch systems," Google states on its Chromebook page. "And since only minimal data is stored on the device, you don't need to do tedious backups or migrate data when changing hardware," according to Google.

Google is also employing security features such as secure tabbed browsing (called "sandboxing"), user data encryption, and verified boot.

Both Acer and Samsung will release Chromebooks June 15 running the Chrome OS on top of Intel's latest dual-core Atom N570 processor. And the N570 is a step up from the single-core Atom that powered the prototype CR-48 Chromebook, distributed to journalists, among others, in December.

Chromebook features:

  • Pricing starts at $349 (Acer)
  • Web-centric Chrome OS, automatically updated, maintained by Google
  • About 3 pounds or less
  • Dual-core Atom 1.66GHz N570 processor
  • 16GB solid-state drive (mSATA)
  • HDMI port
  • 11-inch and 12-inch class displays
  • All-day battery life (Samsung and Acer specify about 8 hours)
  • Instant-on
  • Instant Web connectivity
  • 3G connectivity, pay as you go
  • Cloud-based apps, but key applications local like Gmail and Google Docs

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20061978-64.html#ixzz1M8qzozFA

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What does the Skype deal mean for Microsoft phones?

You could hear the moaning yesterday for those of us who have a sentimental connection to Skype. It's the company that could. And yesterday, it was the company that did. They created a behemoth empire by doing what they do in a focused fashion and doing it very well.

Microsoft recognized this and swallowed them up at a very handsome price. Over 8 billion. The thinking was, we either over pay now, and attach this technology to our struggling phone business, or watch Google snap it up from underneath us.

Here is the full story from the NY times.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Truth in Beervertising

You've seen all the ads from Coors and other breweries talking about their "cold indicators". First Coors Light had their "cold-activated" cans and bottles. Then Anheuser-Busch follwed with "ice-cold easy indicator". And now Miller Coors has the "super-cold" indicator.

It led many to say, "what's wrong with just touching the beer???" That's what a small brewery in Breckenridge Colorado asked when it introduced its' "proprietary cold test".

It consists of head brewer Bob Harrington touching a bottle of Summerbright Ale and deadpanning: "It's cold." Another spot plugs Avalanche Ale's "gravity activated pouring" bottles: "When you tip it, beer goes straight in your mouth. When you tip it back, the beer stops flowing." Without saying it by name, another ad clearly makes a dig at "triple hops brewed" Miller Lite, by declaring that Breckenridge's Lucky U IPA is "seven-druple hopped."

Here is one of the 15 second parody spots.

As refreshing as a, well, cold beer.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Better video blog tips - create a themed campaign

As we all strive to create better online video content, we'll continue with our series of online tips to help you in your cause.

There's no doubt about it, video sells you and your business online. And it's the future. Every 60 seconds 15 hours of video is uploaded on to Youtube.

Here are three tips to think about.

  1. Create a themed Campaign: Think past stand-alone videos. Consider a series of content-rich videos that you publish on a timed, regular frequency. This allows you to create more awareness for your topic and keywords and allows more brand consistency.
  2. Give the Viewer Purpose: Resort to a call to action so your viewer will not be left in doubt as to how they can benefit from what you're offering. Make it clean, clear and obvious.
  3. Don’t cloud up your credibility with ad-speak: We are all inundated with so many advertising messages every day. Use your video content as a chance to establish credibility and brand value. Solve a problem and build goodwill. Believe me, if you do that, they'll find you.
Comments/suggestions? Drop us a line. We'll be happy to share here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Content theft of your website

We are in the beta stages of a brand new online video product. I did a routine google search this morning and found out our entire site has been rerouted to some loans site that has nothing to do with us.
It infuriated me. In the event this ever happens to you, here is a link to a site that has some excellent tips on combating this sort of thing.

Content Theft Prevention

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Which restaurant chain has most engaged Facebook fans? Surprising.

Our thanks to Ragan.com for the source article.
Who would have thought that Denny's would have their act together over all the other powerhouses when it comes to Facebook?

Sort of like the stuffy Conservatives out muscling the other parties in Canada in the election. All it takes are a couple individuals in a company committing to the right players, and you can become an online social media winner.

Here's the Ragin.com article

Which restaurant chain has the most engaged Facebook fans? You might be surprised

You can rack up Facebook 'likes' and a large following until the cows come home. But those statistics don't mean your fans are engaged with your brand.
By Kristin Piombino | Posted: April 29, 2011

The restaurant chain with the most engaged fans on Facebook is …

… drum roll please…


Surprised? Check out the finalists and their active fan percentages:

1. Denny's (2.0 percent)

2. White Castle (1.7 percent)

3. Panera Bread (1.7 percent)

4. Arby's (1.7 percent)

5. Burger King (1.6 percent)

Expion, a social media management software company, ranked 312 major foodservice companies based on their numbers of active Facebook fans.

"Active" fans are users who post on the restaurants' Facebook walls, or leave comments on text, videos or pictures the brands post to their pages.

In a recent Nation's Restaurant News article, Mark Brandau says that it's not the number of followers a chain has that's important, but how engaged those fans are:

"Executives at several restaurant chains say cultivating a core of actively engaged fans rather than carrying passive users who "like" their brands once and never interact increases their return on investment. Active fans are more likely to follow new products and promotions and tend to share news of brands they follow with their friends, operators say."

Brandeau goes on to say that while most restaurant chains trail behind the follower counts of industry giants like Starbucks, their followers are not engaged with the brand. Starbucks's active fan percentage is only 0.1 percent, barely landing it in the top 25 rankings.

Read the full article here, and learn how the top chains earned their spots.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Starbucks moves up to #3

Last week starbucks blasted past Wendy's and Burger King to become the No. 3 restaurant chain, posting $9.07 billion in domestic restaurant sales last year, up 8.7% from 2009. For a company that's outspent on advertising anywhere from two to eight times by rivals and just a few years ago faced 600 store closings and negative sales, that's quite an achievement.

Here's the full story here (Ad Age)

Starbucks' 'Tall' Tale chart

Last week starbucks blasted past Wendy's and Burger King to become the No. 3 restaurant chain, posting $9.07 billion in domestic restaurant sales last year, up 8.7% from 2009. For a company that's outspent on advertising anywhere from two to eight times by rivals and just a few years ago faced 600 store closings and negative sales, that's quite an achievement.

At the heart of that turnaround are menu and product innovations, and the ability to maintain steady price points—which tend to be higher than other chains—even through a recession. "They've done a nice job creating complementary food offerings to go along with their beverages," said Darren Tristano, exec VP at Technomic, referring to the company's menus expansions with breakfast sandwiches and the surprise hit oatmeal. "They've added products that are healthier with less artificial flavors, and more emphasis toward natural or organic food. They've really been able to increase price on a premium-coffee beverage that is on par with what younger consumers are looking for."

Mr. Tristano added that burger chains haven't been as able to increase prices because of the competitiveness in the burger category. Starbucks has offered some value combo meals—such as a coffee and breakfast-sandwich meal—but nothing on the dollar-menu level fast feeders such as McDonald's and Burger King offer.

And for Starbucks to be doing as well as it is, it's surprising that its measured-media budget is a fraction of what some of the other top chains shell out. Although Starbucks last year doubled its measured media spending, according to Kantar, it still only spent $94.4 million. Compare that measured-media spending of McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King. McDonald's, perennially the top restaurant chain in U.S. sales, spent about $887.8 million on U.S. measured media spending in 2010, up from $872.8 million in 2010. Burger King, pulling back its outlay over the years, shelled out about $301 million on domestic measured media in 2010, down from $308 million in 2009 and $327 million in 2008. Wendy's in 2010 spent $283.4 million, down from $293.4 million in 2009, according to Kantar.

"It's more about just cultivating a brand than traditional advertising," said Morningstar analyst RJ Hottovy. "Once you've got a brand consumers' love, they're going to continue to visit the store. Plus, Starbucks has done its advertising more efficiently. It's been all over social media, mobile payments—stuff that elevates the image of brand."

Over the years, Starbucks has worked with agencies such as Omnicom's Goodby Silverstein & Partners, independent Wieden & Kennedy and Publicis Groupe's Fallon, but the company has been working with Omnicom's BBDO since late 2008.

Starbucks has also been helped by missteps by rivals. Burger King, on top of recent marketing-management and ownership changes, is on the lookout for a new agency since it announced it was splitting with CP&B after a seven-year relationship. According to Technomic, Burger King, No. 4 on the top 500 list, had about $8.7 billion in U.S. sales, down 2.2% from 2009. In terms of the hamburger category, as well as restaurant chains overall, Burger King could potentially lose its spot to No. 5 restaurant Wendy's, a chain nipping at Burger King's heels with $8.3 billion in U.S. sales, according to Technomic.

"We're not concerned with being the largest chain," said Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch in an email. "Our focus is on being the best restaurant in [the quick-service restaurant category]." Burger King declined to comment on this story.

By nature, Starbucks is poised to gain in one of the fastest-growing dayparts in restaurants: breakfast. "Breakfast is the final frontier of growth in this country, and coffee is growing as well," said UBS restaurant and packaged-food analyst David Palmer.

Starbucks is seeing its snack offerings payoff, too. Spokesman Alan Hilowitz said in an email to Ad Age that the launch of the company's petite-dessert program, which it rolled out globally in March, has helped drive more traffic into the store during the afternoon and evening dayparts.

The two restaurants who bring in more U.S. sales than Starbucks—McDonald's and Subway—aggressively market their breakfast offerings. Subway got into the breakfast game early in 2010, complete with a coffee offering from Starbucks sibling Seattle's Best. McDonald's has offered breakfast for years, and over the last couple years has been heavily marketing its McCafĂ© lines of coffee drinks, all while continually rolling out new drinks of both the coffee and non-coffee variety, such as smoothies and frappes, McDonald's version of the Starbucks frappuccino.

Starbucks this week is rolling out advertising for customizable frappuccinos in preparation for summer. McDonald's May 9 is rolling out advertising for its new national product, frozen strawberry lemonade, a non-coffee beverage under the McCafé moniker. Wendy's has yet to roll out breakfast nationally, and Burger King introduced a revamped breakfast menu in September.

Of course, the Starbucks success didn't happen overnight. Founder Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO in January 2008, after serving as chairman from 2000 through the end of 2007 and CEO from 1987 to 2000, during which the chain went public and grew in the U.S. and internationally at an aggressive clip.

Mr. Schultz, upon reprising his role at the helm of Starbucks, laid out aggressive turnaround plans, including a renewed focus in the in-store customer experience, new design elements and new products—as well as cost-cutting measures like 100 store closings. Later in 2008, the company announced it would actually close 600 largely unprofitable stores in the U.S. and lay off 12,000 employees, the most in the company's history, to streamline and focus on what worked for the company. Subsequent moves included the launch of oatmeal, and the unveiling of the company's foray into instant coffee, Via. The quarter coinciding with Via's launch in February 2009, Starbucks posted its first same-store sales gain, 4%, in two years. Mr. Schultz credited innovation, cost-cutting and enhanced customer experience.

The company is back in expansion mode, though focused on another part of the world. "We have bold plans for China. I remain convinced that China will eventually be our largest market outside the U.S.," said Mr. Schultz during last week's second-quarter earnings call. "In the near term, we plan to more than triple our store base to over 1,500 stores on the Chinese mainland by 2015." On that call, Starbucks reported a comparable-store-sales increase of 7%, driven by a 6% increase in traffic to the stores for its second-quarter 2011.

It has previously announced expansion plans in packaged goods, including single-serve coffee products for Keurig machines. It severed its grocery distribution deal with Kraft earlier this year and took distribution in-house.

Although Technomic's 2010 estimate of $9.07 billion only accounts for its retail business, the company's availability in the grocery aisle can help drive more sales in the brick-and-mortar establishments. "Even though they're selling it in the grocery store, they're maintaining a high level of interest in the product among consumers," said Warren Solochek, VP-client development group for the food-service division at NPD Group. "It's bound to drive traffic into the retail stores."