Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is TV becoming a downscale medium?


New research data shows that individuals with a high school education or less spend significantly more time with TV than any medium. They watch a whopping 7.4 hours a day. And households with annual incomes below $30,000 watch 8 hours a day. On the other hand, high income households watch 3.75 hours of television daily. (McCurdy, 2009)

That’s still a pretty broad window, but it does suggest a need to be selective if you are trying to reach an upscale audience using television.

McCurdy, B. (2009, December 24). This Generation’s Got Radio. Retrived December 24, 2009, from

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is the future looking bright for online video ads?



I recently heard from a former student who wanted to share the fact that she just made her first purchase based on an online video ad, which she spotted on Hulu – a Tide “Loads of Hope” t-shirt for her boyfriend.

It could be the start of a trend. According to the current sweet spot for pre-rolls is Kids 14 and under who are generating a 3.7% click-through rate as compared to 1.9% for their parents. They may be a force to be reckoned with once they’re old enough to have their own credit cards! (Walsh, 2009).

Until then, it’s up to you. Have you responded to an online video ad yet? What’s holding you back?

Walsh, M. (2009, December 16). Kids Are Clicking on Video Ads (Grown-Ups Not So Much). Retrived December 23, 2009, from

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have you looked at what’s in your cosmetics lately?


According to Mintel’s 2010 beauty forecast we can expect to see a surge in new products with a scientific twist and price tags to match. For a mere $248 you too can have immunosomes and perfluorodecalin in your skin cream. Or perhaps you’d rather mess with your hormones and use Linda Papadopoulos’s cream with serotonin and dopamine in it.

Given that the birth control patch has proven conclusively that transdermal transmission is highly effective, these products may not be as silly as they sound. In fact, they could be lethal. So, the logical question is are they being properly tested before they are marketed? It’s doubtful since they are not considered drugs and some aren’t even made in the U.S.

Buyer beware!

Mahoney, S. (2009, December 11). Trendspotting, 2010: Welcoming Moody Beauty. Retrived December 16, 2009, from

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are Happy Days Here Again?


First comes news from advertising industry prognosticators that global advertising spending will increase in 2010 albeit at a meager +.08% - +.09% rate. (Unless you choose to listen to the bullish Brian Wiesner at Magna who is predicting a +6% increase).

Then Les Moonves of CBS confirmed that their strategy of holding back inventory during the weak 2009 upfront has paid off big time with massive +25% increases in prices for 4th quarter inventory due to overwhelming demand.

Is the Great Recession over? Or should we all just buy CBS stock?

Mandese, J. (2009, December 8). Madison Avenue Forecasters Call For A Better Year Ahead. Some See It Better Than Others. Retrived December 10, 2009, from

Friedman, W. (2009, December 8). CBS 4Q Scatter: Some Like It Hot. Retrived December 10, 2009, from

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can internet research provide the insights that marketers seek?


Thanks to new technologies, a new form of internet research has emerged. It involves aggregating all available web chatter to gather information. That’s right. Your search activities, YouTube posts and tweets are being carefully monitored by companies looking to glean insights about consumer trends.

Based on this type of info Harrah’s determined that what traveler’s tend to chat about is the iconic view of the Las Vegas Strip from its Paris Las Vegas hotel. As a result of this data, they changed the photo on their home page. They also noticed that customers cared about room size, so they started including data about square footage in their marketing messages. The result? Online bookings increased by a double-digit percentage. That’s impressive given the current state of the economy. (Steel, 2009)

But, how do you feel about big brother looking over your shoulder? And what about the large percentage of the population that doesn’t engage online? How will their needs be addressed in an all digital future?

Steel, E. (2009, November 23). Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring. Wall Street Journal, pB8.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Will people follow Oprah to cable?


The big news in media these days is Oprah’s announcement that in 2011 she is ending her syndicated show and starting her own cable network – the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

The premise is that content is king and people will seek out Oprah wherever she may be. Of course how much Oprah people will be getting is unclear at this time, since the website declares that the network will be devoted to “self-discovery”, and that Oprah will “appear and participate in new programming” – but doesn’t clarify exactly what that means. (Steinberg, 2009)

While the double revenue stream of cable (advertising and subscriptions) may be more lucrative, the recent disappointing performance of O Magazine (newsstand sales were down – 6% in the first half of 2009), suggests that the medium is as important as the message. (Kelly, 2009)

And, let’s not forget about Howard Stern. Howard who you might ask? He may have made oodles of money moving to satellite radio, but he lost his platform and marginalized his voice in the process.

Is that what’s in store for the queen of daytime?

Steinberg, B. (2009, November 20). Will Oprah’s Move to Cable Dampen the ‘Oprah Effect’? Retrived November 25, 2009, from

Kelly, K. (2009, November 21). Hearst planning makeover of slumping Oprah Magazine. Retrived November 25, 2009, from

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Will you buy Poland Spring water because it’s natural?


With bottled water sales weakening in North American, Nestle has decided to take a new approach and tout its waters as “natural” and “healthy” with a “distinct taste”. (Lukovitz, 2009).

Hearing that reminds me of Imus’ tirade against Dasani water several years back. I believe that he called it London sewer water!

Since I was under the impression that part of the reason people were cutting back on bottled water was because of environmental concerns about the empty bottles, I’m wondering if this approach will work.

What do you think? Are these salient messages? Will they overcome your environmental concerns? Will they motivate you to buy Poland Springs?

Lukovitz, K. (2009, November 16). Nestle Waters Stresses Regional Brands’ Sourcing. Retrived November 18, 2009, from

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why isn’t radio getting the respect (and ad dollars) that it deserves?


According to a recent study by the Council for Research Excellence, 77% of adults are reached by broadcast radio on a daily basis, second only to television. Among the coveted 18-34 year old target the percentage jumps to 80%. (“Radio Dominant Audio Device”, 2009).

As we have discussed in class, radio provides well-defined audiences on a local basis, and a 92% retention rate during commercials, at a low out-of-pocket cost. (“Radio Listeners Stay Tuned During Commercials, 2006).

Yet, CBS radio revenues fell -19% in the third quarter; and their predicament is not unique as the entire category experienced a -20% drop. (Sass, 2009).

If we are all still listening to radio, why aren’t advertisers continuing to advertise on it? Do you find radio advertising less persuasive than other forms of advertising? Have you ever bought something after hearing a radio ad?

Radio Dominant Audio Device. (2009, November 9). Retrived via email November 9, 2009.

Radio Listeners Stay Tuned During Commercials. (2006, October 23). Adweek.
inside front cover.

Sass, E. (2009, November 6). CBS Radio Revenues Fall 19%. Retrived November 11, 2009, from

Why isn’t radio getting the respect (and ad dollars) that it deserves?


According to a recent study by the Council for Research Excellence, 77% of adults are reached by broadcast radio on a daily basis, second only to television. Among the coveted 18-34 year old target the percentage jumps to 80%. (“Radio Dominant Audio Device”, 2009).

As we have discussed in class, radio provides well-defined audiences on a local basis, and a 92% retention rate during commercials, at a low out-of-pocket cost. (“Radio Listeners Stay Tuned During Commercials, 2006).

Yet, CBS radio revenues fell -19% in the third quarter; and their predicament is not unique as the entire category experienced a -20% drop. (Sass, 2009).

If we are all still listening to radio, why aren’t advertisers continuing to advertise on it? Do you find radio advertising less persuasive than other forms of advertising? Have you ever bought something after hearing a radio ad?

Radio Dominant Audio Device. (2009, November 9). Retrived via email November 9, 2009.

Radio Listeners Stay Tuned During Commercials. (2006, October 23). Adweek.
inside front cover.

Sass, E. (2009, November 6). CBS Radio Revenues Fall 19%. Retrived November 11, 2009, from

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Would you buy Dove Chocolate from Martha Stewart?


We’ve discussed the fact that one of the problems with using celebrities in advertising is that they often lack believability. And sometimes they’re actually silly enough to get caught using a competitive product. After his brief flirtation with Microsoft, Seinfeld is now back to using Macs. Did he ever believe in PCs? Or was he just paid well to pretend that he did? (Tang, 2009).

Ms. Stewart’s association with Dove runs far deeper. Special-edition bags of “Promises” chocolate will carry 200 different holiday tips from Martha, in a “fortune cookie” like format. During the show she’ll discuss Dove’s commitment to cocoa sustainability and holiday craft segments will include the candies.

Perhaps the entire campaign would be more believable if it hadn’t be announced last week that she will also be partnering with Hain to launch Stewart-branded poultry, baked goods and pastas. Is she becoming the next Kate Moss? What do the Martha fans think? Will her endorsement be persuasive? Or is she officially over-exposed? (Lukovitz, 2009).

Tang, S. (2009, October 29). Seinfeld Back With the Mac in Latest Curb Episode. Retrived November 4, 2009, from

Lukovitz, K. (2009, October 30). Martha Stewart Promos Mars’ Dove Chocolate. Retrived November 4, 2009, from

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are Mobile Coupons the next big thing?


We have been hearing for a while that mobile advertising is about to take off, and perhaps here lies the key; after all coupons are very popular these days. In a recent HipCricket study, 47% of recipients of mobile coupons remember the brand and 94% remember the offer.

So, Sprint has joined with Screenvision to offer subscriber discounts on drinks and snacks at more than 500 movie theaters nationwide. In addition, the technology also supports a loyalty program, and allows users to download content, music, trailers and games. (Sullivan, 2009)

And in return, users only have to give up their privacy, since databases will keep track of purchases, and presumably share the information with anyone willing to pay for it. Is it a fair trade off? What do you think? Have you redeemed a mobile coupon yet?

Sullivan, L. (2009, October 28). Sprint Delivers Mobile Coupons for Movie Theaters. Retrived October 28, 2009, from

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Have you watched an ad at a gas station lately?


Have you watched an ad at a gas station lately?

How about a grocery store or a mall? Or even an elevator? In 2009, Advertisers will spend $2.6 billion on digital out-of-home advertising. The industry is expected to grow +15% over the next 4 years and 42% of agency and brand managers have reported that they plan to increase expenditures. (Sass, 2009)

The reason is pretty clear. Digital out-of-home advertising reaches 67% of Adults 18+ every month. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s effective. Personally, I can’t recall a single ad that I saw while riding an elevator, even though I was a captive audience.

What about you? Do you recall seeing ads in these unusual places? Did they stimulate a purchase?

Sass, E. (2009, October 16). Survey: 42% of Marketers to Increase DO Spend. Retrived 10/21/09, from

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is Yahoo Blowing it?


Yahoo’s reinvention may have hit a snag. It started out with the high profile hire of Carol Bartz, which was followed by a redesign of their home page and the addition of customizing features. But, at least one user – my nephew Steven – noted the change but didn’t necessarily find that it enhanced his experience as a user.

Now comes word that brand perception has fallen steeply since September 28, 2009, when a $100 million advertising campaign was launched to tout the new capabilities. Bummer.

What do you think? Have you noticed the change? Is it an improvement?

Walsh, M. (2009, October 13). Survey: Yahoo Campaign Dampens Perception. Retrived October 14, 2009, from

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do Pistachio nuts make you feel sexy?


For its first broadcast effort, the pistachio industry has decided to go with kinky sex as a strategy. Yes, the $15 million campaign will include dominatrix, beauty queens, and Levi Johnston, soon to be seen in Playgirl, talking about “using protection”. (Horovitz, 2009)

Yikes. All I really need to know is if they are safe to eat now, and that they have taken steps to make sure the salmonella contamination never happens again.

What about you? Do you prefer whips and chains?

Here’s the youtube link so you can check it out.

Horovitz, B. (2009, October 4). Pistachio industry bets on ‘sex sells’ mentality with ads. Retrived October 7, 2009, from

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Advertising & the Obesity Crisis


While there is no proof that advertising leads to greater consumption of unhealthy foods, enough people believe that it does that calls for censorship, starting with the campaign currently running in support of high-fructose corn syrup, are on the rise. (Lazarus, 2009)

First amendment issues aside, there is proof, based on the broadcast ban of cigarette advertising in the 70’s that censorship efforts tend to backfire. In the case of cigarettes, the move of serious amounts of money from television to more cost efficient print resulted in greater product awareness and more efficient campaigns. (Calfee & Ringold, 1990)

Perhaps the answer lies in attempting to harness the strength of advertising in a positive fashion. VERB, the CDC’s effort against childhood obesity, which encouraged children to play with a ball, blog about their activities, and pass it along, generated impressive results. First year awareness levels were 74%, and both the amount and length of activity increased. (“VERB: CDC’s Youth Campaign, 2008)

Sadly, the effort was halted in 2006 due to lack of funding. Why not require the producers of high-fructose corn syrup to provide funding for the effort much as cigarette companies are now funding anti-smoking campaigns?

And while we’re at it, according to 9/30/09’s Wall Street Journal, fewer than 10% of US high school students are eating the recommended 5-9 servings of fruit and veggies a day. (AP, 2009) Sounds like a job for McDonald’s if you ask me.

What do you think?

Lazarus, D. (2009, September 30). Let’s limit our intake of corn-syrup ads. Retrived September 30, 2009, from,0,6909971.column?track=rss

Calfee, J. & Ringold, D. (1990). What would happen if cigarette advertising and promotion were banned? Advances in Consumer Research. Volume 17 pages 474-479. Retrived September 30, 2009, from

(2008, May 20). VERB Campaign Case Study, National Social Marketing Centre. Retrived September 30, 2009, from

Associated Press (2009, September 30). Kids Eat Few Fruits, Veggies. Wall Street Journal, pD2

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Can men be convinced to buy body wash?


While women have been moving from bar soap to body wash in great numbers, (the market has grown +53% in 5 years), men have been slower to switch. Now that Axe has broken through the gender barrier, and achieved a 7% market share, other marketers are following their lead.

The newest offer from Nivea – Active 3 is multi-functional product serving as a shampoo, body wash, and shave gel. And unlike Axe, it will be sold based on functionality rather than sex appeal and will be marketed to older men via magazines. (Newman, 2009)

What do you think? Will it be a hit or a miss?

Newman, A. (2009, September 8). Adding a Masculine Edge to Body Wash. Retrived September 23, 2009, from

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Integrated marketing comes of age.


As a long-time advocate of integrated marketing, I have eagerly awaited the time when advertisers would fully embrace the philosophy. That time has come. Timberland announced this week that their new campaign, targeting young city dwellers, would include the following media:
• Mobile iPhone and Blackberry applications and games
• Interactive billboards
• Branded videos and commercials on Hulu
• Customizable Pandora radio stations
• Reverse sidewalk graffiti
• “Station domination” out-of-home advertising
• In-store promotions and retail windows
• Public relations targeting blogs and magazines

The campaign will run in select markets in the U.S., Italy and the UK.

I am particularly intrigued by “Expedition Timberland”, the mobile phone app. It is designed to guide users to local hiking trails, neighborhood walks, secret spots for relaxing and the best city views. The plan is to update it seasonally throughout the year.

For gamers they designed “Timberland Trail”, a game that invites players to select the appropriate Timberland gear in order to overcome various obstacles. (Irwin, 2009)

What do you think? Does either tickle your fancy? Do you use mobile apps now? What kinds? Are you a gamer? Would you play this one?

Irwin, T. (2009, September 14). Timberland Launches TV Ads, Mobile Apps. Retrived September 15, 2009, from

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Do you get emotional about cream cheese?


Here comes more evidence that advertisers are taking the research about the role that emotions play in decision-making seriously. (Shiv & Fedorikhin, 1999)

Philadelphia cream cheese, the category leader, has announced that their new television campaign will focus on the “moments created by Philadelphia cream cheese”. The stated goal is to get consumers thinking about the product more often by showing bonding moments between loved ones such as a boy spreading cream cheese on a bagel for his mom. (Wong, 2009)

What do you think? Will watching a girl making dessert with her grandmother persuade you to indulge in this high fat treat more often?

Shiv, B.& Fedorikhin, A. (1999, December). Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Research, 278-292

Wong, E. (2009, September 3). Why Kraft is ‘Pheeling’ Good About Cream Cheese. Retrived September 9, 12009, from

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Can humor increase sales of Bud Light?


Facing the prospect of its first sales decline in 27 years, Anheuser-Busch announced that their new campaign would move away from their current “drinkability” strategy (i.e. not too heavy, not to light), to a more humorous approach. (Mullman, 2009)

This is actually a return to the company’s heritage, which was based on the premise that since people drink light beer to have fun, the ads should be fun. That makes sense, especially when we remember that most product purchases are based on emotion. (Shiv & Fedorikhin, 1999)

Wouldn’t you rather buy “fun” than “balance”?

Mullman, J. (2009, August 10). How Bud Light Lost Its Sense of Humor – and, Subsequently, Sales. Retrived September 2, 2009, from

Shiv, B.& Fedorikhin, A. (1999, December). Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Research, 278-292

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A medium for every target.


Where is the best place to reach “overweight, out-of-shape, introverted, aggressive, depressed adults 35+?” If you guessed online video games you would be correct. (Sullivan, 2009)

Just consider the possibilities for everything from wii to blood pressure medications. And the best part of course is that the message can be tailored to the audiences’ insights, since people who don’t fit the profile won’t be seeing it.

No wonder Martin Sorrell is so bullish about the future of the consumer insights business. Coming soon, a medium just perfect for you.

Sullivan, L. (2009, August 25). CDC: Gamers at risk for health problems, dream pharma target market. Retrived August 27, 2009, from

Goetzl, D. (2009, August 26). WPP focuses on emerging markets, Sorrell upbeat about consumer insights biz. Retrived August 27, 2009, from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

But does it make you want to buy something?


At the end of July, Forbes magazine asked a panel of experts to select “the funniest” tv commercial from a selection of 37 commercials dating as far back as 1965.

This 2003 commercial was their favorite.

Here's the URL:

I have to admit I thought this ad was a hoot. But sadly, it did not prompt me to make a visit to IKEA. Was your reaction any different?

While the article does not specifically address the commercial’s failure as a marketing tool, it did mention that the agency who did it – Crispin Porter – no longer works on the brand. Hmm. Isn’t it time that we all realized that funny does not equal effective?

Dr. Pepper announced their second quarter earnings, and guess what? Sales volume for Snapple fell 15%.

Burkitt, L. (2009, July 31). Laugh Track: Funniest U.S. TV Commercials. Retrived August 20, 2009 from

Stynes, T. (2009, August 14). Dr. Pepper Boosts Projection for Year. Wall Street Journal, p.B4

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Now, a moment for follow-up


Hi All!
I’m back and I thought I’d devote this week’s blog to follow-up on some of the issues discussed previously.

1. Magazines with ad page increases

Not surprisingly, given what I pointed out in the 7/16/09 post, some magazines posted advertising page gains in the first half of 2009.

Those on the winners list include: Fitness, Cooking with Paula Deen, OK!, Family Circle, Scholastic Parent & Child, Organic Gardening, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Country Weekly, and Muscle & Fitness.

It seems pretty obvious that most of these magazines are addressing current lifestyle trends – health concerns, more home cooking, and our obsession with our children. Meanwhile, OK! benefited from the fact that it is now being measured by MRI and Simmons, which means that established advertisers are now including it in their consideration set.

What I’d like to see now is the readership trends for these publications. I bet they’re up too.

2. This round goes to Powerade

As discussed in the 3/30/09 post, I believe that when companies engage in spitting matches, neither side wins.

Manhattan District judge John G. Koeltl has ruled that Gatorade failed to prove its case that Powerade’s advertising claims were false, and that it was guilty of trademark dilution. In addition to pointing out that all the claims were literally true, the ruling also stated that SVC (Gatorade’s parent company) “has not shown either a likelihood of irreparable injury or a likelihood of success on the merit.”

I’m still betting that both brands suffered by pointing out the chemical content of their products.

Roberts, J. (2009, August 10). Now Read This. Retrived August 12, 2009 from

Hein, K. (2009, August 6). How Powerade Defeated Gatorade in Court. Retrived August 12, 2009 from

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hi All:
I'll be on vacation the weeks of 7/27 & 8/3. I and the blog will return on 8/13. I hope everyone is having a terrific summer.
Prof. Lehrer

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Does this ad make you want to buy a PC?


Perhaps you have noticed that Microsoft has been running a series of commercials with the key message that PCs are a better value than Macs.

Here’s the URL for one on YouTube:

We’ve already discussed the fact that many companies have switched to a value strategy because of the economy, and this is yet another example. So what do you think? Is it compelling? If you were considering buying a Mac would this change your perspective?

Apparently the folks at Apple are concerned; so much so that they contacted Microsoft to ask that they stop running the ads because Apple has lowered their prices. (Parekh, 2009)

And according to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, revenue on the Mac business fell 8% last quarter due to price cutting. Kane, 2009)

Parekh, R. (2009, July 16). Microsoft Undeterred by Alleged Legal Threat From Apple. Retrived, July 22, 2009 from

Kane, Y. (2009, July 22, 2009). Apple Net Up 15% on iPhone Surge. Wall Street Journal, p.B1.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Are advertisers missing an opportunity with magazines?


On June 26, 2009, the MPA (Magazine Publishers of America) published a white paper on the state of the business which shows that the number of magazine readers has actually grown +5.7% over the past 5 years. And, even young readers, i.e. Adults 18-34, are showing a +2.6% increase over the same period. (“Consumers value magazines in their media mix. Do You?”, 2009)

A study from McPheters & Co., published in 2007, indicated that Gen X and Gen Y are in fact reading more magazines monthly than do Baby Boomers and The Silent Generation. Specifically, 19-24 year-olds reported reading an average of 18.3 titles in the previous 6 months. 25-34 year-olds read 18.9, while those 45-54 said they read 16.7, and people over 65 said they read 14. (Ives, 2007)

So, why were magazine ad pages down another -29.4% in 2nd quarter 2009? (Sass, 2009)
I sense a disconnect here. Do you? Are you still reading magazines? Do you want your favorite brands to continue to support them?

(2009, June 29). Consumers value magazines in their media mix. Do you? Retrived, July 15, 2009, from

Ives, N. (2007, May 22). Young Adults Bigger Mag Readers Than Their Parents. Retrived, May 24, 2007, from

Sass, E. (2009, July 10). Magazine Ad pages Tumble 29.4% in Q2. Retrieved, July 15 from

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is this the beginning of the end for free online content?


The topic du jour at this week’s Sun Valley Allen and Company conference, is predicted to be a debate over paid online content. After giving away their content for free for the past decade, newspapers are now folding in droves as their offline revenue declines. The remaining media companies don’t want to make the same mistake. (Li, 2009).

So, what do they do? The first thing is to clamp down on unauthorized use of copyrighted material. While past legal rulings, in the form of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision have held that web sites are not liable for copyright infringement committed by users provided the sites remove the clips upon request, and they haven’t financially profited by the content; one could argue that YouTube’s entire business model is built on pirated material. (Davis, 2009)

An intriguing solution currently being offered by the Financial Times is tiered pricing for access. When I attempted to access the article above, I was given 4 registration options offering various levels of access to current and archived materials. Lighter use was free, but unlimited access was $3.49 per week, and full access, including the offline newspaper was priced at $5.75 per week. (“”, 2009). That seems reasonable to me. How about you?

Li, K. (2009, July 7). Sun Valley set to consider paid content. Retrived, July 7, 2009 from

Davis, W. (2009, July 8). YouTube Wins Partial Victory Against Copyright Owners. Retrived, July 9, 2009 from

(2009, July 7). registration page. Retrived July 9, 2009 from

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Does Turner Have a Winning Strategy?


As the upfront season progresses, Turner has announced a new sales strategy. Rather than selling their individual networks (TBS, TNT, CNN, etc.) as stand alone opportunities they are reaching across all their properties and selecting programming that reaches a specific target, and selling those as a package.

So, for advertisers seeking to reach Men 18-34, they suggest the following line-up: “The Office” (TBS), “Family Guy” (TBS), “Operation REPO” (TruTV), and Adult Swim (Cartoon).

They are also including their digital properties in the packages, which can be further customized with selected movies or other programs that advertisers believe are suitable for their audiences.

And, they are providing companies with creative help to develop advertiser-sponsored content, e.g. microseries.

Clearly, they have recognized that most advertisers these days are interested in niche audiences, not mass ones.

What do you think? Will advertisers respond?

Steinberg, B. (2009, June 29). Turner Lets Marketers buy Shows Rather Than Networks. Retrieved, July 1, 2009 from

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can advertising persuade people to eat healthier?


If as critics believe, advertising leads people to buy things they don’t need, then is the reverse also true? Can advertising help people to make smarter choices and eat better?

Here comes Tropicana to take a shot at it. Since their orange juice is 100% non-reconstituted juice, and contains no additives, it is uniquely positioned to tout the health properties of its product. They intend to start by focusing on the fact that 7 out of 10 adults, as well as most children, are not consuming the USDA-recommended 4 fruit servings per day.

Interestingly, according to the CMO, “We’ve learned a majority of orange juice drinkers are unaware that 100% orange juice contributes to their daily fruit intake”. (Lukovitz, 2009)

Hmm. What does this say about non-drinkers? Are they equally ignorant, or perhaps more so? Will this campaign help educate a public that just doesn’t want to know? Will it sell more Tropicana orange juice?

Lukovitz, K. (2009, June 16). Tropicana Promotes OJ As Daily Fruit Serving. Retrived June 22, 2009 from

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Does a free download do it for you?


As advertisers seek new wow factors to attract their target audiences, one idea that has emerged and seems to be gaining momentum is free music downloads. Given that 50% of us now pay for our music downloads the timing may be right.

On Friday, Toblerone announced the offer of a free exclusive track from Alesha Dixon with purchase. The UK promotion, which is sponsored by Kraft, also features a contest to win VIP tickets to a concert and meeting with Alesha, signed merchandise and free candy bars. (Paine, 2009)

Would this motivate you? Does the exclusivity matter when anybody can buy a candy bar?

Do you know who she is? Given the ever increasing fragmentation of the music industry is it possible to find an artist who would have mass appeal?

Paine, A. (2009, June 12). Alesha Dixon Fronts Toblerone Campaign. Retrived, June 15, 2009 from

Monday, June 8, 2009

Is walking away from a winning strategy a good idea?


The Effie award winners for 2008 have been named and the grand Effie was awarded to Burger King for its “Freakout” campaign. In case you’ve forgotten it, it makes use of a hidden camera to show the reaction of real people when they are told that the whopper has been discontinued. You can check it out again here:

I knew the campaign was a winner when my nephew, who was 14 at the time showed me clips of it on YouTube. According the Effie application, Burger King’s sales went up by double digits when it ran. (“Burger King Wins”, 2009)

Now comes the news that in the face of an unimpressive +1% increase in sales during 1st Quarter 2009, BK has decided to focus future advertising on items from its value menu, despite the fact that it has traditionally focused its advertising on its premium products. (“Burger King Promotes Value”, 2009)

Is this a wise decision given the current state of the economy? Or are they foolish to stop promoting their signature item?

(2009, June 4). Burger King Wins Effie Grand Prize For ‘Freakout’. Retrived, June 7, 2009 from

(2009, May 29). Burger King Promotes Value. Retrived, June 7, 2009 from

Monday, June 1, 2009

Would you enter this contest; forward the video to a friend?


As we have discussed in class, traditional advertising has not performed well on social networking sites, so advertisers are experimenting with a variety of different formats to increase effectiveness.

Here’s an interesting integrated effort from the Bahamas to consider.

Phearcreative helped them to create a viral effort involving a video, contest, and pass along element. The campaign also included a live event and the video was posted on a variety of social networking sites.

The easiest way to check out the video/contest is to go to:

I’m interested in knowing what you think about the approach. Did you watch the entire video? Enter the contest? Pass it along to a friend? Why or why not? Any suggestions for improvement?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Has Starbuck’s missed the mark with its new advertising campaign?


In the beginning of May 2009, Starbucks, once famous for not engaging in traditional advertising, launched a campaign to address an -8% decline in same store sales during the first quarter of 2009. (Miller, 2009)

According to CEO Howard Schultz, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “We know from our research that customers are not defecting away from Starbucks; they’re just coming less often or cutting out the occasion”. (Jargon, 2009)

Given that input, do you think this ad makes sense? Does it make you want to go into Starbucks more often?

Miller, C. (2009, May 19) New Starbucks Ads Seek to Recruit Online Fans. Retrived, May 25, 2009 from

Jargon, J. (2009, May 4) New Ads Will Stir Up Coffee Wars. Wall Street Journal, pB7.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Isn’t it about time that all health claims were properly substantiated?


Although the FDA has been monitoring drug company claims for their products for years, there has been a huge gaping hole, when it comes to supplements and foods.

Not only have companies been able to get away without properly substantiating their claims, they have been getting away with outrageous disclaimers in support of them. Listen closely or look at the small type and you will see that Product X will help you lose weight when “taken in conjunction with a calorie restricted diet and moderate exercise”. Duh. If you eat less and exercise more you will lose weight regardless of what supplements or specific foods you eat.

While Cheerios seems relatively benign, they are still making a very hard claim – “eat Cheerios and lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks” backed by a similar disclaimer. Their defense? We’ve been communicating this message for two years. Well, just because the ethically-challenged Bush administration was willing to go along with it, doesn’t mean that it was the right thing to do.

I think its time for the truth. What do you think?

(2009, May 12). FDA warns General Mills over Cheerios cholesterol claims. latimes. com. Retrived, May 17, 2009 from

Here’s an opposing point-of-view

York, E. & Thomaselli, R. (2009, May 13) With Cheerios, has the FDA bitten off more than it could chew? Retrived, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally, a triumph of common sense?


I’ve always been a fan of the first amendment, even when it has meant letting folks I disagree with say things that appall me. But even I have to draw the line at the mention of “4 hour erections” during daytime television; especially when my 10 year-old nephew happens to be watching the show with me.

Now comes the eminently sensible suggestion from Rep. Jim Moran that commercials for erectile dysfunction be banned between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. (Riley, 2009)

Works for me. What about you?

And here’s an idea for the companies that produce these products – why not advertise online on porn sites? There certainly seem to be enough out there to choose from and you won’t have to worry about children seeing your message.

Riley, C. (2009, May 6). Congressman: No Viagra before 10 p.m. Retrived, May 11, 2009 from

Monday, May 4, 2009

Will GM’s portfolio pruning assure its survival?


As part of its restructuring, GM has announced that it is eliminating 4 of its brands – Saab, Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac. This will allow them to focus on their 4 remaining brands – Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC.

In reading about this, I was reminded of the discussions that I participated in when Uncle Ben’s launched Uncle Ben’s Country Inn Rice Dishes ®. Those in favor of not including Uncle Ben’s in the product name felt that it was stogy and would prevent the brand from reaching its full potential.

But, the VP of Marketing, who had the final word, pointed out that since she would not be able to support the brand with its own advertising campaign for more than a few years, it would need to live under the Uncle Ben’s umbrella so it could be supported with synergistic ads after the launch period.

Supporting 8 brands was clearly cost prohibitive, and supporting 4 will be easier, but has GM gone far enough? As market analyst Todd Turner pointed out in the attached article, the GMC division only appears to be profitable because there are no development costs associated with it.

Perhaps it would make sense to eliminate this division as well, or bring all the remaining brands under a common umbrella. Since GM spent over 2 billion dollars for marketing in 2008, the potential for savings could be huge. What would you do?

Greenberg, K. (2009, April 27). GM To Focus On Four ‘Keeper’ Brands. Retrieved, May 4, 2009 from

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How should advertising agencies be compensated?


At a recent ANA conference, Coca-Cola Co. announced that it is trying to start an industrywide movement toward a “value-based” compensation model. (Mullman, 2009).

It’s not exactly a new idea. Historically advertising agency compensation was based on a percentage of media spending, originally 15%. But, even before the separation of media and creative into different agencies made that system antiquated, many of my clients over the years were fee-based, with compensation tied primarily to hours worked, and bonuses built into the system to provide performance incentives.

The tricky part of course is how you define performance. While I firmly believe that advertising must produce sales in order to justify its existence, there is no doubt that external factors well beyond advertising’s control often bear the greatest responsibility for success or failure. Just witness how the current recession has boosted McDonald’s sales for yet another quarter.

Coke has indicated their assessment will be based on a range of factors including the work’s strategic importance, the talent involved, and the originality of the ideas produced. Hmm. Sounds kind of vague to me.

They go on to say that they are not concerned about the effect that this will have on their agencies since “they will bring their A-games no matter what”.

My question is, will they even have an A-game? Talent costs money, and presumably the base level compensation will be lowered, forcing agencies to hire less talented people for lower rewards.

I recently saw a wistful blog entry from a client who mentioned that account management staff used to have MBAs. I guess that agencies can no longer afford them.

Ultimately, what clients want better results. Is this the way?

Mullman, J. & Zmuda, N. (2009, April 27). Coke Pushes Pay-for-Performance Model. Retrived April 27, 2009, from

Does it make you want to buy an LG phone?


LG has announced that it is launching 2 focused campaigns for its phones based on the company’s brand positioning which is “all about self-expression”.

The first campaign, for the Xenon phone, is targeting “social networking-happy Gen Yers” with a tv, print, and online campaign featuring 19 year-old Heroes star Hayden Panettiere and placement in Jason Timberlake’s MTV series The Phone.

The second campaign, for the Rumor2 phone targets “style conscious teens and young adults”. It features Heidi Klum who designed custom backplates for the phone. (Wasserman, 2009)

The fact that they have a good sense of who their target is and have created plans that should speak directly to their interests/emotions is definitely a good start.

But, as we have discussed previously the use of celebrities is tricky. While they may stimulate interest, they also can easily overwhelm the message. And of course over exposure can be an issue.

What do you think? Will either of these campaigns prove to be effective?

Wasserman, T. (2009, April 18). LG Ready for Its Close-up. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from

Am I the only one suffering from charity burnout?


It seems like every time I turn around these days someone is informing me that part of the money I just paid to buy something is being devoted to some worthwhile cause.

The latest one jumping on the bandwagon is Tide detergent. They have been touting their disaster relief efforts, most notably those for victims of Hurricane Katrina, on television, and are now introducing a new package design featuring their beneficiaries that is scheduled to run through June. (Hopefully this isn’t a Tropicana packaging disaster in the making).

P&G, Tide’s parent company will be donating 10 cents from each sale of the newly packaged detergent to disaster relief. (Wong, 2009)

While a study conducted by Self magazine and consulting firm Latitude in spring 2007 indicated that women will pay an extra 6.1% for products associated with a social cause, I am skeptical. (“Self Study: Women Willing To Pay Premium for a Cause”, 2007)

Frankly, I’d rather decide for myself which charities I want to support rather than having someone else do it for me. What do you think? Is donation to a worthy cause a motivator for you when you make your purchase decisions? Would you pay +6% more?

Wong, E. (2009, April 10). Tide’s Charitable Makeover. Retrived April 12, 2009 from:

(2007, October 15). Self Study: Women Willing To Pay Premium for a Cause. AdWeek, p38.

Which is more effective; targeting the user or the buyer?


On March 26, Ralcorp Holding announced that they were launching a new campaign for Post Grape Nuts cereal, targeting men, who apparently have been the primary eaters of the product all along.

The web based campaign features a special website on MSN with dozens of two minute videos hosted by ESPN personality Kenny Mayne. The site offers “The Guy’s Manual” with tips on topics like restoring cars, and advice on things such as how to ask for a raise during a recession. Print ads will run in Sports Illustrated. The new tagline, developed by Ogilvy & Mather is: “That takes Grape Nuts”.

Before the brand was bought last year, Kraft ran advertising for it targeting women gatekeepers with ads on daytime soaps and Oprah, focusing on a healthy eating message. The premise was that since they women were doing the buying, they were the decision makers. But are they? I usually ask my husband what cereals he would like before I go to the store. The article referenced below, was written by a man who thinks it’s about time. What do you think?

Seymour, C. (2009). Grape nuts: New Advertising Campaign Targets Men. Retrived April 6, 2009 from

Is naming names an effective strategy?


Conventional wisdom has always maintained that it is a bad idea to name your competitor outright in advertising, for fear that a consumer will remember the name of the competitive product rather than your own. It’s a valid concern since in most cases the brand doing the advertising is comparing themselves to the category leader.

But last year, Campbell’s decided to start the MSG wars with Progresso. Unfortunately for them, Progresso decided to fight back. (Wong, 2008) This has lead to a series of ads where each accuses the other of marketing unhealthy products. What has this accomplished? Well, in my case it made me more aware of the fact that all canned soup is loaded with chemicals and has turned me into a non-user of both.

Now comes word from Powerade that they intend to attack industry leader Gatorade head on with claims, backed by research, that Gatorade is an inferior method of hydration. (Zmuda, 2009)

Is this a good idea or bad? Do you think this will be an effective way to convert Gatorade users to Powerade users? Or is there a potential for a backlash here too?

Wong, E. (2008, October 8). Soup War Continues, Progresso Strikes Back. Retrived march 30, 2009 from

Zmuda, N. (2009, March 23). Gator Baiter: Powerade Jabs at Powerhouse. Retrived 3/25/09 from

Do sponsorships deliver enough value?


As we sort through the current economic crisis all media is subject to evaluation and possible elimination. One of the most difficult things to measure properly is the value of a long term sponsorship.

After over a decade of participation, L’Oreal decided this year to end its sponsorship of the Academy Awards, which had previously been one of the pillars of its communications plan. (“L’Oreal, Other Sponsors Leave the 2009 Oscars Stranded”, 2009)

On the flip side, last week VW announced that it had renewed and expanded its sponsorship agreement with Major League Soccer. The 4 year pact includes in-stadium signage during national broadcasts, presence at MLS special events and player appearances, and sponsorship of grass roots initiatives like MLS Futbolito!, a four-on-four traveling tournament for amateur players.

They will continue as presenting sponsor of the D.C. United franchise, with front jersey logo placement, and will increase their soccer media buys with ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel and Univision. Terms of the deal were not announced. (Crupi, 2009)

What do you think? Do you notice the signs in the stadium and the logos on the jerseys when you watch sports on television? What about in person? Who do you think is the primary audience for soccer in the US? Do you think the sponsorship will give VW significant leverage with them? Or do you think they would have been better off spending the money elsewhere?

(2009). L’Oreal, Other Sponsors Leave the 2009 Oscars Stranded. Retrived March 23, 2009 from

Crupi, A. (2009, March 16). VW receives in-stadium placement, including signage during national broadcasts. Retrived March 23, 2009 from

What were the folks at Skittles thinking?


In the past, the people at Mars Inc. have proved themselves to be savvy marketers, as evidenced by their fully integrated black & white campaign for M&M’s. (Carl, 2003) But, this time they appear to have lost their minds, or at least ignored what happened to GM when they ran their consumer-generated ad campaign for the Chevy Tahoe SUV. (Sandoval, 2006)

While there is no doubt that the growth in social networking has created an audience too tempting for advertisers to ignore, this idea may have been ill conceived from the start.

Initially, everyone seemed intrigued by the idea of Skittles turning their site over to consumers, by channeling consumer-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Wikipedia to their home page. (Lukovitz, 2009).

But, it didn’t take long for consumers to turn nasty, so on March 3, Mars announced they were pulling the twitter campaign. (Sullivan, 2009)

And, on March 5 they announced that only the brand’s site on Wikipedia would be used for its homepage. (Sullivan, 2009) But, a visit earlier today led me to a homepage with YouTube content and still gave access to the twitter feed. So, at the moment is unclear what their current strategy is.

Are you surprised that consumers got out of hand so quickly? How should we balance the desire for consumer input with the tendency of people to turn nasty? How can we market brands in social networking settings without going to this extreme?

Carl, S. (2003) M&M’s are now black & white, no color. Retrived March, 16, 2009 from

Sandoval, G. (2006) GM Slow to React to Nasty Ads. Retrived March 16, 2009 from

Lukovitz, K. (2009). Skittles Generates Buzz With Social Media Efforts. online media daily. Retrieved March 3, 2009 from

Sullivan, L. (2009). Skittles Pulls Twitter Campaign. online media daily. Retrived March 4, 2009 from

Sullivan, L. (2009) Skittles Settles On Wikipedia For Brand's Home Page. online media daily. Retrived March 6, 2009 from

Are we really surprised that online is taking a hit?

In late 2008 people were predicting that online would continue to see advertising gains due to its low out-of-pocket and perceived efficiencies. But, recent data shows that online spending does indeed appear to be down in first quarter 2009. ("Online Ad Spending Seen Shrinking", 2009)

It has been my experience that during bad times, marketers retrench, take a conservative approach and fund only those media that have proven their worth.

Some new studies that have just come out indicate that television is more effective then ever in stimulating sales (Neff, 2009) -- the only true measure of success. Online on the other hand has succeeded admirably when it comes to attracting attention, a la the "elf me" promotion, but has not been equally successful in increasing sales growth.

What do you think? Is it a good time to run advertising online, or time to pull back?

(2009). Online Ad Spending Seen Shrinking. Wall Street Journal. Retrived February 25, 2009 from:

Neff, J. (2009). Guess which medium is as effective as ever: TV. Advertising Age. Retrived February 23, 2009 from: