And the Oscar for Best Product Placement Goes to……

March 4th, 2014 in advertising, branding, culture, internet, Media, social networking, technology, web innovation | Tagged , , , , | by | Leave a comment

The Oscars is more than just the movie industries’ biggest awards show – it is an icon of American culture, a fashion show, a celebrity love-fest, and increasingly an interactive social media event and marketing bonanza rivaling the significance of the Super Bowl.

Everyone has by now heard about (if not themselves retweeted) Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie, breaking the previous record for retweets held by President Barack Obama by more than two million retweets, and crashing Twitter in the process. This was a genius move of product placement/social media integration by Samsung, as a major sponsor of the Oscars and the device on which said record breaking selfie was taken.

Even more important for brands, marketers, and a world that is obsessed with growth and user engagement, is the fact that Oscar related tweets more than doubled from 6.8 million tweets in 2013 to 14.7 million tweets in 2014. This is while Super Bowl related tweets, while still greater in number, have leveled off over the same time frame.

It will be interesting to watch the growth of the significance of the Oscars for marketers and to see what innovative and integrated omni-channel strategies they come up with next! In the meantime, check out this NY Times article – Selfies, Pizza and Promoting Brands at the Oscars – for an overview of the best adapted screenplay, cinematography, costumes, live-action short, and song from the commercials of the Academy Awards.


Speaking to the Mogul, Mom & Maid

February 11th, 2014 in advertising, market research, social networking | by | Leave a comment

When Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman came out at the end of last year, reviews raved about the founder of Hello Ladies’ new book. The author wrote an inspiring piece for Huffington Post on the almost mogul, dedicated mom, too-often a maid woman of 2014. “After barely staying one breath ahead of a panic attack all week due to too many work deadlines, two homemade Halloween costumes and a fourth grade book report, I had a meltdown Friday night,” she wrote. At the end of the post I thought to myself, do these women even have time to develop a relationship with a brand? How do we talk with them during their daily balancing act?

Moms, as diverse as they come, have always been an enticing marketing audience. They’re easy to talk to and understand; three-fourths of them will answer polls and survey and they are 19% more likely to follow a brand, become a fan or comment on a post. Look up the average mom’s Facebook page and you’ll see hundreds of groups and pages they are active in.

But not all moms are created equally and every year we see a larger delay in marriage and childbirth which experts attribute to the growing population of career women. Today, 40% of mothers are working and contributing to half or more of the household income. Marketing2Moms says millennial moms, the brunt of the mom workforce, alone have a $200 billion spending power, the first generation to outsize the influential Baby Boomers. Marketers should absolutely be focusing their attention on this specific consumer.


So how do we reach out specifically to these moms-making-dinner-and-washing-soccer-uniforms-while-working-on-their-quarterly-reports? Wooing on the web through mommy blogger sponsorship isn’t working for these working moms: MediaPost reports a poll back in 2011 about social media usage showed that 40% thought moms were “posers,” 85% were annoyed and 32% bothered by moms “bragging about their perfect lives.” Bloggers who glorify home life are not easy for working moms to identify with.

However, there are other places to reach her. The busiest of moms read 4.1 magazines a month on average. Working moms ride in their cars (a convenient place for listening to podcasts and radio spots!) far more than any other demographic. They tend to be more technologically savvy than stay-at-home moms. They’re watching sports: they are 24% more likely to have watched ESPN in the last week.

Mogul, Media & Maid offered some advice for communicating with this group. The 2007-8 ads showing a superwoman mom doing it all (i.e. Kelly Ripa in Electrolux commercials) won’t work today because, as pointed out, these moms are striving to be okay with not being perfect. Think of enduring campaigns like Dove Real Beauty; embracing imperfections is aspirational for working moms. Some social listening quickly reveals moms are also thinking of the next generation of women. It’s not about mom’s issues to these moms, it’s about discussing how to parent the women of tomorrow. This year’s Super Bowl ads, most notably Verizon’s and GoldieBlox’s spots, are engaging in conversation about preparing daughters to become the boss, not just the assistant.

You can check out Mogul, Mom & Maid here:

The Power of Watching

January 30th, 2014 in study | Tagged , | by | Leave a comment

Ethnography suffers from a misconception that is informed by special powers of observation, that spirited intuition imbibes the watcher, leading to great insight and transformative ideas.

The truth is ethnography can be tedious, requiring careful observation, coding, and tracking of simple behaviors that allow you to build small hypotheses, test, and repeat. I have watched people pick up a product, look at it, and timed that interaction. Over and over and over.

The power of watching becomes how you interpret the accumulation of those small interactions and others.

Here’s an example.

The Street Life Project was a ’70s project to document urban life. This was recently updated by a Rutgers professor with an emphasis on how technology has changed public behavior in urban spaces. Public spaces were filmed and a team of researchers observed and coded behavior as “physical touching, apparent talking and collective locomotion.” (The NYT article is here with video from the original street life project)

What did he learn?

  • Technology has not made us asocial. Pubic interaction has improved with a greater number of people in pairs visiting the park.
  • Neither has it made us shut-ins: there were a higher percentage of people “just hanging out”
  • We’re not as attached to our phones as we tend to think. Only 3 percent were on their phones.

Strategic Marketing and Award Season

January 16th, 2014 in branding, culture, Fashion, Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment

There’s something incredibly magical about the Oscars. Growing up, one of my closest friends was allowed to go to school later the next day so she could stay up to watch the show with her parents. In my group of friends it was a fashion event – we would watch the red carpet gowns and hairstyles, making mental but detailed lists of favorites and worst-dressed to discuss the next day (Hillary Swank in 2005 is still my favorite). I’ve already looked up all the showtimes for Oscar-nominated nearby.

‘Tis Award Season! Hollywood gears up for long red carpets, gowns straight off the international fashion weeks that closed 2013 and, of course, six-figure promotional campaigns.


Hollywood execs are turning to Washington campaign experts for winning strategies. Many of the political campaign tactics we’re familiar with every election are now being used to promote studios, movies, and actors. And why not? There is as much politics in brand managing a celebrity as there is in a presidential campaign. Here are some examples:

Battlegrounds: For presidents there might battleground states but for the entertainment business there are battlegound awards. If a candidate can get some publicity in the Palm Springs International Film Festival and ride that momentum, he or she is sure to be in the spotlight at the Oscars.

Constituets: Shaking hands and posing for pictures goes along way to promote politicians. But you’ll see actors, directors and producers doing the same during this season. You have to be available to the media in order to get media exposure.


Beer Test: It started with politicians – framing them as regular Joes – but the Beer Test has evolved to include actors. There’s nothing more regular Joe-ish than Sandra Bullock admitting to Googling herself or Jennifer Lawrence admitting she’s starving on the red carpet.

Smear Campaigns: Sadly, this is has transitioned into the Award Season campaigning. Every year there’s a story about a a movie based on a true story that isn’t really true. For the first time in ten years, there’s been a smear campaign launched against a soundtrack nominee, this time to discredit Lana del Rey’s Oscar eligibility.


Thank You Segmentation (For My Chunky Spaghetti Sauce)

January 16th, 2014 in market research, packaging, study | Tagged , , , | by | Leave a comment

For most, Malcolm Gladwell is not an author that falls into the ‘marketing research’ bucket. However, Gladwell’s books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Outliers: The Story of Success, and What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, often deal with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences, particularly in the areas of sociology, psychology, and social psychology. So when I came across this TED video on segmentation and spaghetti sauce I wasn’t sure what to expect.

A complex, overwhelming methodology for many, segmentation allows you to identify and define those who are likely to benefit from your products and services, while at the same time identifying those who are not viable prospects. (Check out W5 on Segmentation for a comprehensive explanation.) The video opens with a story about Howard Moskowitz and his realization that food categories exist on a horizontal plane rather than a vertical hierarchy.

Howard’s task was the find the perfect level of sweetness to create the perfect Pepsi. While analyzing what seemed to be an endless amount of data, it became clear there would be no nice, clean bell shaped curve determining the ideal level of sweetness. In fact, there was no obvious pattern at all. Instead, there were various sweetness clusters. This lead Howard to his ‘ah ha!’ moment, they had been asking the wrong question. “You have been looking for the perfect Pepsi, you’re wrong. You should be looking for the perfect Pepsis.”

This thinking was so revolutionary that it took Howard a while to actually convince food companies to quit chasing the perfect product and instead chase the perfect products for each of the customer groups. This realization is at the heart of segmentation, and is why there are 52 different types or toothpaste, mustard, water, etc. 

The video goes on to talk about Howard’s big breakthrough with Prego and the discovery of chunky spaghetti sauce (a style that was non-existent at the time, yet preferred by 30% of the market). Prego created their chunky sauce and rapidly stole market share from Ragu and pulled in about 600 million dollars from their chunky sauces.

Segmentation research has never been more valuable. Companies today face an increasingly diverse and growing population, fragmentation of media channels, and a volatile and competitive economy. In this environment, mass marketing is an inefficient option for communicating with consumers. Segmentation is the foundation of marketing. The stronger the foundation, the higher you can build, and the more you can achieve.


A solution for how we hear?

January 9th, 2014 in branding, emerging technology, iPhone, links, market research, quotes, study, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

I stumbled across an article on Forbes published yesterday highlighting a new hearing aid product that is adjustable via the iPhone. Check out the excerpt below as an example of how the new gadget will work:

“Picture this: Your favorite restaurant is crowded and noisy. The couple at the next table is trying in vain to get two toddlers to use their indoor voices. It should be all but impossible to hear the conversation at your own dinner table. Fortunately, your hearing aids and iPhone are working together to put a stop to such distractions. Tap a few buttons on your iPhone, and your hearing aids instantly adjust to block out ambient noise and help you focus. The next time you come back to that same restraint, it’s noisy again. The GPS function in your phone knows where you are – and tells the hearing aids to adjust accordingly – without your lifting a finger. Again, as before you are able to focus on the conversation at hand, instead of the chaos that surrounds you.” 

Am I surprised this technology exists and is readily available on the market? No, this product isn’t surprising and it has a rather timely arrival as we see an increase in boomers adopting technology. Am I surprised this product is marketed and positioned only to boomers? Yes. It’s estimated that about 5% of the entire global population have a disabling hearing loss, not just boomers.  Also, with the popularity of headphones, loud concerts and music festivals it is widely predicted that the millennial generation will lose hearing earlier than generations before. I expect to see products similar to Beltone First aimed toward a younger generation, to enhance early onset hearing problems. Furthermore, I expect to see new products for those who don’t have loss of hearing, but would like tone out other noise.  A product similar to Beltone First marketed as a solution for how we hear, depending on our location, without the look or feel of bulky headphones sounds pretty good to me (especially for business travel). I guess we’ll just have to keep our eye on this trend, but I think there is great potential for expansion on a product like this.

Holiday Engagement on Mobile (Infographic)

December 11th, 2013 in advertising, branding, culture, Data Visualization, emerging technology, infographics | by | Leave a comment
The countdown is on and the holiday shopping season is in full swing! And, just as we expected, the mobile revolution is making its mark. How you ask? Check out this infographic by Sparked that takes a look at how mobile usage is transforming engagement between brands and consumer this holiday season:

Thursday is the New Black (Friday)

November 13th, 2013 in culture, Press | by | Leave a comment

Black Friday is as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey. Lines upon lines of people waiting in the cold night, their bellies full of stuffing and pumpkin pie, their wallets ready to be emptied in what is America’s busiest shopping day of the year. Walmart’s chief marketing office called Black Friday the Super Bowl of retail.

Some Black Friday experiences involve groups of family members sipping on to-go cups of steaming coffee, waiting to get their children’s big Christmas present 75% off. Others have experiences not unlike the running of the bulls in Pamplona. But they all involve late nights in the cold. From 2000 on, the hours have crept earlier and earlier, from Friday dawn to as early as 11pm on Thursday. The earlier these stores open the more business they get.

This year, however, the larger stores will be opening as early as 5pm on Thursday. Some news outlets attribute this year’s early opening to this year’s calendar quirk: there are six days less of shopping this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Retailers live for the holiday season. It almost makes sense to ask families to wrap up their dinners and take them to go. Next year we’re having an equally late Thanksgiving and if one retailer seems to be getting all the Christmas list shopping because it opens a few hours earlier we might be seeing a repeat next year.

However, encouraging people to shop while their families are still eating dinner isn’t going so well with many Americans. As one Facebook user put it: “I used to love shopping on Black Friday at Walmart, Unfortunately, my money will be going elsewhere this year as I choose to spend thanksgiving with my family.” Furthermore, Daily Finance reports that retailers that opened on Thursday did not see incredible sale hikes.


Will the happy deal shoppers outweigh those who do not want to shop on Thursday?

And just because I definitely was sold on some of these deals, here’s a compiled list of great Black Friday deals (via USA Today):

• Get a $100 gift card when you buy any iPad.
• iPhone 5s is selling for $179 with a two-year contract with AT&T or Verizon Wireless.
• $30 gift card when you buy an iPhone 5s.
• Samsung is offering a 55-inch, LED HDTV for $697.99, a savings of $202.
• Nikon L320 camera for $99, regularly priced at $229.99.

• LED TV will be available for $98 on Nov. 28.
• Apple iPad mini Wi-Fi 16GB is going for $299 with a complimentary $100 Walmart gift card.

• 50% or more off headphones, car electronics, tablet cases, cellphone cases, and laptop bags.

• $15 of free Kohl’s cash to spend in the store with every $50 you spend on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
• LG 42-inch HDTV is selling for $379.99.


November 7th, 2013 in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

The 2013 4A’s Strategy fest & Jay Chiat Awards, held in Nashville, TN this year, were a huge success (yee-haw!). It was a crazy couple of days filled with panel discussions, dynamic speakers, case study presentations and even an improv workshop. Though everyone did an outstanding job, I have to say the Cole Haan “Chelsea Pump Campaign” by BBH NY/Deep Focus was by far my favorite case study presentation. It was the perfect mix of social media, art, expression, and spunk needed to engage their new target consumer. If you don’t have time to read the entire case study, check out the video below that highlights how BBH NY/Deep Focus succeeded with this campaign. Congratulations to the team at BBH NY/Deep Focus for a Gold Jay Chiat Award!



The Demise of Blockbuster, the Rise of Record Stores, and the Future of VHS

November 7th, 2013 in culture, emerging technology | Tagged , , , , | by | Leave a comment

Blockbuster is dead. It has been a long time coming but the demise of the cultural icon of home movie viewing is officially over, heralding the end of an era where renting a movie was an “event” that offered a sense of excitement and anticipation of leaving the house to wander the aisles of the video store in search of an evening of entertainment.

What I find particularly interesting about Blockbuster closing its last 300 stores is the juxtaposition of the demise of the video store with the revival of vinyl and the rise of record stores. Every city and town that I have been to lately has one, if not a few, record stores. The growth of record stores confounds all logical explanation in a world where analog technology is going the way of the dodo. Blockbuster card

All of this makes me wonder if VHS tapes will eventually make a comeback. I realize there are all kinds of arguments about the quality of sound that vinyl produces that probably do not apply to the quality of video that is possible with VHS technology. But nonetheless there is word creeping out about VHS watching parties in such hotspots as Hollywood and Brooklyn and VHS swap meets in Seattle, Portland, and Austin. So if you have an old VCR and VHS collection that you just haven’t been able to part with, don’t throw it out just yet. And as for your old Blockbuster membership card… you may want to hold on to that too, because once VHS comes back around the way vinyl has, you may just be able to use it again.