January 31, 2008

Seen This?

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 2:26 pm

The Wall Street Journal is going social, as reported by Brandweek:

“Using SeenThis?, built by the social networking technology developer Loomia, members of Facebook, and eventually various other social networks will be able to receive notifications on what Journal content their friends are reading or sharing – while logged into those sites or visiting WSJ.com. Those users will then be able to check out those articles themselves for free (without having to leave their networking site of choice), and share them with others. For example, a user might receive a notice of the top five articles read by members who attend his or her college.”

Advertising Makes Bad News Worse

Filed under: Advertising,Business — Emily Reeves @ 2:15 pm

Reported in Brandweek:

What should a company do when negative news is being reported about the company? “One school of thought is that maintaining or increasing advertising during such a time will drown out the bad news. The alternative–pulling advertising–seems pretty risky. Nevertheless, a new study that ran in December’s Journal of Advertising Research suggests that’s exactly what you should do while the bad news runs its course…It found that advertising has an amplifying effect: When the news is good, advertising helps. When it’s bad, advertising makes things worse.”

Tom Green – The Channel

Filed under: Culture,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 1:43 pm

Tom Green, the comedian who has had a few television talk shows already, has launched an Internet-based talk show.  Here is what the site says about it:

“Tom Green Live is a LIVE Internet-based talk show featuring celebrity guests, hosted by comedian Tom Green, from his living room…yes, his actual living room. The show is LIVE at TomGreen.com, The Channel, from 8pm-9pm Monday through Friday. Although technically it’s a talk show, it’s really much more than that. Tom Green Live is non-political, and because The Channel is completely independent, pretty much anything goes! With a combination of A-List celebrity guests, a global audience, and Tom’s signature brand of comedy, Tom Green Live is unlike anything you’ve seen before! Tom takes calls over the phone, along with Skype video calls from viewers from locations as varied as the U.S.A, Canada, Australia, Estonia, and Argentina, not to mention several others! The mission is simple, to make you laugh, and to make you, the viewers, an integral part of the show by harnessing the power of the National Internet, something no other show can offer, sounds cool right? Check it out right here by clicking on the “Tom Green Live” tab on the player, oh, and make sure you tell a friend!”

Think about the growth potential of a channel like this if he were to get paid advertising.

January 30, 2008

Green Building Craze

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 12:59 pm

It is hard to pick up a publication these days without there being some story on the “green movement.” New construction is one way in which companies can join the green movement and it turns out, old buildings can be green too. In Sunday’s New York Times, there was an article on how existing buildings can be “greened”: “As more companies look to reduce waste, along with the carbon imprint, they find that their buildings are one of their most immediate opportunities. For their efforts, they typically get a healthier, cleaner work environment, improved efficiency and lower operating costs, all of which can help attract tenants and employees. A 2006 Green Building Council study found that by retrofitting buildings, owners can save 90 cents a square foot annually, on average, in energy and other costs and earn back their investment in 2 to 2 1/2 years.”  With continued high-profile coverage of the opportunities, surely more companies will start implementing efforts to reduce their strain on the environment.

The green movement continues to gain momentum in Arkansas as well.  Not only do we have the Clinton Library and Heifer International leading the way with commercial buildings, but there are also a growing number of “green” residential developments planned in Arkansas, as reported in our Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week.  Arkansas is more progressive than people think:

  • Woodglen Park will be a 35-home solar subdivision in Little Rock.
  • CityGrove Townhomes and Rockwater Village in North Little Rock will focus on ensuring that homes are built near public transportation and other amenities.

Arkansas is really stepping up as a leader in green building!

January 29, 2008

The Technological Future

Filed under: Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 4:32 pm

The Wall Street Journal had a great article in yesterday’s edition with predictions about the ways in which technology will change our shopping behaviors, learning tools and entertainment methods.  It is a long article, but I encourage you to read it if you have the time.  Here are some highlights from the intro to give you a little taste:

  • Televisions that project 3-D images into the middle of the living room.
  • Appliances that “talk” to us through email alerts.
  • Commuters will still carry newspapers to work, but will likely download them to a pocket-sized computer that can also show TV news broadcasts.
  • Shoppers will still be greeted at Wal-Mart, but a computer may be the one saying hello–and reminding them of what they bought on their last visit.
  • Friends will still send each other birth and wedding announcements, but the process will be virtually automated, thanks to alerts on social-networking sites.

I love future predictions!  Enjoy.

January 28, 2008

Elf Yourself Successful?

Filed under: Advertising,Marketing,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 4:16 pm

You betcha. At least according the Ad Age. Here are the stats on the ElfYourself viral campaign by OfficeMax:

  • 26.4 million people, nearly 1 in 10 Americans visited the site.
  • 2,614 years–if you were to add up all the time people spent on the site this year.
  • 123 million elves created this year; compared to 11 million last year.
  • 508%–the site’s market share growth over the course of November/December.
  • 16%–the site’s active reach in December (i.e., how many of the 165 million active internet users that month made a visit).

The question is, did this fun campaign help the OfficeMax brand? The answer is, yes:

  • Of the 20 most common search terms in the four weeks of December, six of them included the words “Office Max,” indicating that brand awareness had carried through.

According to Bob Thacker, senior VP-marketing and advertising at OfficeMax: “We were looking to build the brand, warm up our image. We weren’t looking for sales. We are third-place players in our industry, so we are trying to differentiate ourselves through humor and humanization.”

What can other brands learn from this? Provided by Ad Age, here are some viral marketing tips:

  • Make it Personal.
  • Don’t Discount Older Audiences. (40% of all visitors to ElfYourself were 55 or older.)
  • Offer Fun.

MySpace To Post Super Bowl Commercials

Filed under: Advertising,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 3:53 pm

“MySpace…is posting all of the commercials broadcast during the game on a special section of the social-networking site at no extra charge to those advertisers.  Google’s YouTube, Time Warner’s AOL and Yahoo are doing the same for their commercial polls.  Hosting these sites build viewer traffic, which then allows them to sell more paid advertising.” — The Wall Street Journal

Wellness Trend

Filed under: Business — Emily Reeves @ 3:43 pm

With the rising costs of healthcare and fewer companies covering insurance costs, consumers are increasingly interested in wellness information. Staying well, means staying away from doctors, which means saving money. Healthcare-associated brands are recognizing this need for health and wellness information and they are finding ways to become the consumer resource for this information. The newest “brand” to jump on this bandwagon is the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The Wall Street Journal today reported that “the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which spends about $40 million a year on health programs and cancer research, is teaming up with Web-site operator Demand Media Inc. to launch a health-and-wellness We site funded by advertising. The site, called ‘livestrong.com,’ is expected to go live this year.”

The Armstrong Foundation “felt that launching a for-profit site would increase awareness about the foundation and promote its core mission of helping people with cancer…Like Mr. Armstrong’s foundation, more philanthropies are linking up with for-profit companies to raise cash and elevate their profiles.”

“The Armstrong Foundation says it will work with Demand Media to build a Web destination for people who want to count calories, track workouts or connect with other people trying to keep fit. Mr. Armstrong, now retired from competitive cycling but still an avid athlete, will contribute content to the site.”

On Reading

Filed under: Technology — Emily Reeves @ 12:06 pm

I’ll admit it. I bought the Amazon Kindle, the electronic reader that received much hype and not-so-great reviews. And, I’ll admit that I love it. But, I am a reader. I read a lot and I read fast. I also travel pretty frequently. So, the idea of a device that holds 200 books that I can purchase for $9.99 each was appealing to me. The device has its faults (clunky page turn buttons that are too easily pressed mistakenly, the cover sucks, the power switch is on the back), which I am sure will be repaired in the next generation. I am a little self-conscious using it in public places because it is not that common and people tend to stare (and, I am a little embarrassed about how much I paid for it). But, nonetheless, I love reading from it–it is lightweight, easy to hold, doesn’t hurt my eyes, and holds more books than I can read. The New York Times has even said that “Amazon’s device could turn out to be the iPod of the written word.” I would agree, except supposedly no one reads anymore:

When Steve Jobs “was asked two weeks ago at the Macworld Expo what he thought of the Kindle, he heaped scorn on the book industry. ‘It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is; the fact is that people don’t read anymore,’ he said. ‘Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.’” Jobs, however, is not always right: “a survey conducted in August 2007 by Ipsos Public Affairs for The Associated Press found that 27 percent of Americans had not read a book in the previous year…the same share–27 percent–read 15 or more books. In fact, when we exclude Americans who had not read a single book in that year, the average number of books read was 20, raised by the 8 percent who read 51 books or more. In other words, a sizable minority does not read, but the overall distribution is balanced somewhat by those who read a lot.”

“The book world has always had an invisible asset that makes up for what it lacks in outsize revenue and profits: the passionate attachment that its authors, editors and most frequent customers have to books themselves.  Indeed, in this respect, avid book readers resemble avid Mac users.

“The object we are accustomed to calling a book is undergoing a profound modification as it is stripped of its physical shell.  Kindle’s long-term success is still unknown, but Amazon should be credited with imaginatively redefining its original product line, replacing the book business with the reading business.”

Dying Young

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 11:44 am

From left: Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Legends Archive/Reuters; Bettman/Corbis

As we mourn the recent loss of Heath Ledger, his “transformation is already under way, from acclaimed actor to most-searched Internet term, from film start to cultural touchstone” reports the New York Times.

“The unintended death of someone with so much to live for captivates the public…In generational terms, the death of a contemporary most frightens the young.  When one notable lifetime ends, that generation begins to end, too.  The death of someone cut down in the prime of life brings home our own mortality.  Maybe our rendering them immortal is our way of not facing that inevitability.”

After Ledger’s death, “the blogosphere went into overdrive.  In two days his memorial page on Facebook had over 30,000 members.  The entertainment Web site TMZ generated over 74 pages of user comments.  Hundreds of eulogies for the 28-year-old Australian appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald’s site.”

Everyone mourns or shows their respect in their own ways.  I planned to do this by watching Ledger’s movies again and appreciating his talent.  I went to Netflix to add them all to my queue.  I guess others had the same idea: all of his movies now have a “long wait” on Netflix.

Boys Do Cry, But Only At Fiction

Filed under: Culture,Marketing — Emily Reeves @ 11:20 am

In BusinessWeek: “They may say they hate chick flicks, but men can enjoy stories about sacrifice, love, and empowerment, a new study shows. The key, say three marketing professors in February’s Journal of Consumer Research, is keeping the story unreal. The researchers had undergrads read adaptations of poignant stories by O. Henry and others, presenting them as TV scripts. Males showed more empathy and involvement when told the tales weren’t true. Men ‘need to know beyond a doubt that it’s fiction,’ says Jennifer Argo of the University of Alberta School of Business, one of the study’s authors. Exiting reality, she says, ‘is an excuse to relax gender stereotypes’–and emote. Women preferred true stories. The study’s advice to entertainment marketers: Emphasizing that a weepie is fictional may bring in more males. And get a few real men to cry.”

The Oscar Economy

Filed under: Advertising,Business,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 11:15 am

Reported in BusinessWeek:

“There’s big money at stake if the Feb. 24 awards ceremony gets scotched.

  • $4 million worth of post-Oscar parties.
  • $5.5 million in media coverage.
  • $26.5 million in limos, security, personnel, and gifts for the nominees.
  • $51 million for the main broadcast in the Kodak Theater, along with side events.
  • $54 million in spending on radio, TV, print, and outdoor campaigns by studios competing for awards.
  • $100 million in publicity generated for companies who clothe and bejewel the stars.

Gen Y’s Work Style

Filed under: Business — Emily Reeves @ 10:36 am

We have had a lot of discussion lately in our agency about the differences in the work styles of the Gen Yers (born since 1980), also referred to as Millennials, verses the rest of the staff. This is especially important to us, as advertising tends to be a young person’s business. Evident of this growing concern among businesses, this month’s Harvard Business Review included a brief article on the subject as one of its “Breakthrough Ideas for 2008.” According to this article, “Generation Y workers clearly prefer jobs defined by task, not time. They want to be compensated for what they produce.”

“Many younger employees find they can complete tasks faster than older workers, perhaps partly because of technological proficiency but even more…because they work differently. They spend less time scheduling and are comfortable coordinating electronically. They resent being asked to log hours and stay in the office after their tasks are done, and the idea of face time really annoys them. Ys love to work asynchronously–anytime, anywhere.”

“Going forward, we can devise a better model of how to define work. Think task, not time:

  • Articulate the results you expect–and tie accountability to getting the job done.
  • Make physical attendance in the office, including at meetings, optional.
  • Gauge performance on the quality of the work performed.
  • Help managers and employees learn to measure dedication in ways other than face time.
  • Use today’s networking capabilities to allow employees to work from anywhere.
  • Support the changes by creating drop-in centers, team spaces, and open work areas.”

I am right on the edge between Gen X and Gen Y, so I can see the benefits of both traditional work styles and Gen Y work styles.  Regardless of personal preference, companies need to be equipped to accommodate both if they want to recruit and retain talented employees.

Power Women

Filed under: Business — Emily Reeves @ 8:57 am

When making a job switch, women are more likely to bring their success with them to the new company. Unlike men. At least according to an article in this month’s Harvard Business Review:

“Unlike their male counterparts, female stars (189 women, 18% of the star analysts in the original study) who switched firms performed just as well, in the aggregate, as those that stayed put.”

“Though female stars adopt these career strategies as a way to overcome institutionalized norms that put them at a disadvantage, their strategies are not a second-best alternative. Rather, they constitute a powerful skill set from which any manager would do well to learn. The star performer study focused on one labor market–Wall Street analysts–but the challenges these women face are similar to those in other knowledge-based industries, such as management consulting, health care, public relations, advertising and the law. Some of the female stars’ actions were designed to help them advance within their firms, and only incidentally increased their portability; others were deliberately adopted to ensure that they would be able to succeed elsewhere. Either way, the strategies of star women can help both men and women enhance their ability to shine in any setting.”

What makes the difference? Why are women more capable of building skills that can travel from one employer to the next?

(1) They focus on building relationships outside their current firm, rather that relying on internal relationships. “By contrast, male analysts built up greater firm- and team-specific human capital, investing more in the internal networks and unique capabilities and resources of the firms where they worked.”

(2) They take greater care when assessing a prospective employer. “They evaluated their options more cautiously and analyzed a wider range of factors than men did before deciding to uproot themselves from a company where they were already successful.  Female star analysts, it would seem, take their work environment more seriously yet rely on it less than male stars do.  They look for a firm that will allow them to keep building their successful franchises their own way.”

Although it unacknowledged, the bottom line is that there is still sexism in the workplace.  To overcome this persistent inequality, women must employ “creative strategies” to succeed.  One of these creative strategies is finding a wardrobe balance.  As ridiculous as this is, “women in positions of authority, from Washington to Wall Street, face fashion scrutiny that’s so intense it can border on comical,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal last week.

“The attention brought to clothing is a two-edged sword for authoritative women everywhere.  A style misstep can be career-limiting.  Yet paying too much attention to one’s appearance risks accusations of frivolity–which is equally career-limiting.”

With the challenges that face women in the workplace, it is a wonder we have ever succeeded.  But women are intuitive, smart, and adaptive; if we figure out what we want, we will figure out how to get it.  I have seen the evidence.  Our agency, Stone Ward, is woman-owned and Millie Ward has overcome these challenges to build a successful advertising agency.  And, I am proud that we have a viable female candidate for president this year.  Maybe one day we won’t have to have discussions about the different challenges that men verses women face in the workplace; instead we will just have discussions about workplace challenges.

January 25, 2008

Viral Marketing Campaign for the Dark Knight to Continue?

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 12:22 pm

 

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in yesterday’s issue: Will Marketing Change After Star’s Death?  The article does a nice job of summing up the viral campaign used to promote the next Batman installment, The Dark Knight.  The studio used Health Ledger’s “playful but psychotic” The Joker character as the star of the viral campaign, despite the fact that Christian Bale returns as the title character.  And, “Mr. Ledger isn’t featured just in the online campaign.  The movie’s current poster includes a ghostly and haunting image of Mr. Ledger in his Joker getup, with the tag line ‘Why So Serious?’ scrawled in red.”

The question is, with the untimely death of the movie’s featured star/character, will the studio continue this successful viral initiative?  The studio hasn’t responded to the status of the film or marketing campaign, they have simply released a statement expressing its condolences on Mr. Ledger’s death.  A source quoted by the Journal recommends that “the best that could happen is that all this marketing stuff just goes on and the move and the campaign don’t turn into some kind of grave marker.”  

All of Ledger’s fans will just have to wait and see, but the viral campaign has certainly intrigued me into anxiously awaiting the film’s release this summer.