Subtracting value: learn from Apple #FAIL with maps in iOS6 Discuss 1

Apple is famously and profitably successful because of their attention to design detail and simplicity and consistency of their user interface. And while they’ve made more than a few mistakes along the way, the replacement of the Google maps application which has been a part of the iOS operating system from day 1, may become a classic business case study in what not to do.

Taking away benefits/functionality from your customers without their consent is a very dangerous move.

To summarize what happened- Apple and Google are no longer friends because the open source Android mobile operating system has gone head-to-head with the proprietary and highly regulated Apple iOS. Apple deleted the Google Maps application in favor of their own mapping software with iOS6- despite it not being either an improvement or even a good replacement for the original software. When you start making the New York Times about your product changes, it should be a bit of a worry.

Screen grab of tweet that Apple left out transit maps because Apple users only drive BMWs

Apple’s reckless deletion of functionality of transit maps in their iOS6 mapping app brings satire to the surface

Missing are the highly useful public transit details- a system that is invaluable in NYC, and much of the data that has been tweaked and refined over the years by millions of users. Frankly, Apples map program is being forced on users as an “upgrade” when it isn’t. This isn’t what the customer bought when they bought their iOS devices.

The right to take away a purchase after it’s been bought is a slippery slope, that smacks of “Big Brother” – the very same one that Apple so famously rallied against in their classic Superbowl ad 1984 that launched the Macintosh. What’s next- publishers having the right to come to your home and take back books that you bought because they were too useful? (Textbook manufacturers are becoming guilty of this- but that’s another matter).

Rumors abound that Google is going to release a version of Maps via the Apple store- however, that would and could possibly sink the chances of the Apple maps app from ever reaching parity. Digital maps data is improved by the size of the user base, a primary reason Google was probably willing to allow Apple to use their data when the iPhone launched before they had an Android OS.

Google could probably rake in millions by selling their app on the iTunes store now, but the shopkeeper, Apple, despite a chance to gain 30% of sales may still block it from happening (debate is raging on this subject).

But this is a lesson for all marketers. The restaurant that used to offer free bread that now charges, the gas station that stops offering free air both risk alienating customers by taking away something that was previously accepted. Once one fast food chain began offering free refills on soda for dine in, going back is nearly impossible as is not offering the same option.

Apple may be getting cocky at the wrong time and place as the newest king of corporate monopoly, but we’ve seen companies make potentially fatal flaws before: thinking they know what’s best for their customers and trying to force a reset. Quikster anyone?

Facebook’s value isn’t as an ad platform Discuss 0

Facebook stock is being hammered. Wall Street and even Facebook itself, doesn’t understand the value of the business. It’s not an ad platform- it’s a social site, a private party. When advertisers stop thinking they have the right to interject themselves in everything, they may start having some real success. The key for businesses on Facebook is to be invited to the party. The secret to that is better market research- and that’s where Facebook is the holy grail of consumer data. We know who your friends are, where they are, what they are doing- all from the aimless chatter.

Facebook needs to monetize data, not users.

Reading in the New York Times:

For its stock price to go up, Facebook has to convince Wall Street analysts and investors that the personal data its 955 million users share about themselves can be better used to make money. Despite the fact that Facebook has information about a user’s friends, habits and photos, advertisers are not convinced that Facebook ads are more effective than online ads appearing elsewhere.

So far, its revenue comes largely from advertising and from proceeds of virtual games that people pay to play on the Facebook platform. On both counts, Facebook has struggled, as the company reported slower sales in its earnings report in late July. Its users are increasingly logging in to their accounts on mobile devices, where Facebook has only recently — and cautiously — started selling advertisements.

via Facebook Shares Hit New Low as a Lockup Period Ends – NYTimes.com.

Facebook has to be careful about intruding with ads in the limited screen environment. With customers facing data caps on mobile devices, the only way advertising will be welcome is if those advertisers subsidize their data plans, or offer real services or additional value in return for their interruption. If you need a case study of an internet behemoth failing because they refused to respect their users and community, just study the fall of AOL.

While advertisers still believe they should have the right to engage for supporting “free content” they have to realize that now, more than ever, you can only earn that right by offering a premium service in return. Look what the iPod did to CD sales, or what online music services have now done to the iTunes store. Is it becoming clear?

Facebook is social media- stop trying to turn it into commercial media.

Pandorify? Spotify vs Pandora Discuss 0

Pandora Spotify - Internet radio

In the Internet radio wars we have newcomer, the Swedish Spotify vs. the US based Pandora. Usually, the first mover has the advantage, but in the incredibly fickle world of music powered by technology, being the new kid on the block may give you an advantage to roll out a different flavor faster.

If you are a Spotify Free user, you have probably heard the ads about how the company rolled out free mobile radio similar to Pandora where users create stations based on artists and/or songs.

Our latest app features free radio – the only radio where you can save the songs you love. Now you can discover, save and enjoy an unlimited amount of music on the go.

Here’s how it works
Create stations based on any song, artist, album or playlist, and let Spotify bring you one great song after another.

When you like a song, give it a thumbs up and it’ll be saved to a Spotify playlist on your desktop. So you can listen whenever you like.

Get busy with your thumbs
By liking songs, you’ll help to personalize your stations – meaning they’ll play more of the music you want to hear.

Premium users can enjoy a premium radio experience that’s ad-free. Free users, you’ll hear occasional ad-breaks just like you do on your desktop.

So get the free app now to enjoy mobile radio – Spotify-style!

Free radio in all its glory

  • Free radio is powered by the entire Spotify catalog, the biggest of its kind.
  • Unlimited songs and stations – listen forever!
  • Like a song? Save it to your Spotify playlists with a thumbs up.
  • Great music choices from our shiny new recommendation engine.
  • Don’t like a song? Skip it.
  • Make radio even better by liking songs.

Does this mean that the end is near for Pandora?

Taking a quick look at both of them, they have a few more differences than similarities. Spotify has the ability for users to pick and choose the artists and songs they want to listen to on demand for free on computers ($9.99/month on mobile devices), whereas Pandora does not. With Spotify’s new radio function, which works similar to Pandora, users can “star” or “thumbs up” songs to save to them on the Spotify app and listen to them whenever they want. It’s likely that this will make Spotify reign supreme in the world of internet radio. Where Pandora users are used to constantly giving thumbs up or down to songs, Spotify users can simply thumbs up a song then listen to it whenever they want.

Beyond features, Spotify appears to have much better social media integration than Pandora, especially with Facebook. In fact, Facebook integration was an obvious focus for the Swedish company; users with the Spotify app enabled have their activity displayed on the timeline and can share songs and playlists. It should be noted that Spotify forces users to sign up through their Facebook account whereas Pandora does not, but this quirk is made up for by the flawless social media integration.

From our standpoint Spotify has got everything that Pandora has and more, even at the free level. The only thing that Pandora had over Spotify was their mastery of internet radio. Now that Spotify Radio launched on mobile, it’s going to force Pandora to react.

Considering the ultimate goal is to be able to deliver highly targeted ads or get paid to be the end users only music source, none of this is good for old fashioned terrestrial radio which failed in every way to react and adjust to the changes the Internet has forced on them. It will be interesting if at some point, Pandora and Spotify will find a standard for selling ads so that local businesses can target their most likely customers.

The JC Penney rebranding strategy of “Fair and Square Pricing” Discuss 7 Comments

JCPenney LogoThere is a difference between selling Apple products and clothes. Ron Johnson, formerly Apple’s retail chief and the new CEO of JC Penney is finding that out quickly. Critics of his move from constant sales to an always fair pricing strategy are having a field day with a Forbes article calling it an “Epic Rebranding Fail”

But nevertheless they launched “Fair and Square Pricing” whereby promotions and sales would be a thing of the past, for the most part, and in their stead would be everyday prices, “best prices” which would be available to consumers on the first and third Friday of each month, plus they would mix in some month-long values, too.

The new tagline ”Enough. Is. Enough.” would speak to the belief that consumers were inundated with promos, coupons and sales and what they really wanted was just plain, old-fashioned, everyday low prices.

No sizzle, just the steak.

via JC Penney’s Epic Rebranding Fail – Forbes.

It’s easy to armchair quarterback these bold moves, many (including this author) thought when Apple decided to open bricks and mortar stores it was a move in the wrong direction. Gateway had failed miserably doing the same thing- and yet, Apple is now considered the most profitable retailer on the planet.

However, there is a big difference between JC Penney and Apple- JC Penney is more of a curator of retail while Apple is the owner of the product. Yes, I can get Apple products elsewhere, but at an Apple store I’m dealing direct. At JC Penney, I can get the products elsewhere and anywhere- there is no exclusivity to what JC Penney sells- or what the brand stands for.

JC Penney Doesn’t Pass the Hand test

The Hand Test- From "The Brand Gap" by Marty Neumeier

Put your hand over the logo and you still know what company made the product and the ad.

In Marty Neumeir’s classic book, “The Brand Gap” he uses Apple as the example when introducing “The Hand Test.” If you cover up the logo of the product in the ad- will you know what the product is? Apple passes with flying colors. JC Penney can’t ever do this. Their products, the brands they sell, their brand itself isn’t able to stand on it’s own. By their very nature, the department store model is nothing other than the supermarket of shopping in comparison to the convenience store. Same products, different experience in selection and purchase. There is nothing exclusive to JC Penney products and once you buy them, they belong to you- not to JC Penney. Compare that to Apple. Once you have an iPhone or a MacBook Air- the brand cachet is still there and there is a connection between you and the brand.

Pricing isn’t a strategy- it’s a tactic

This seems to be the part that Mr. Johnson missed in Marketing 301. Price alone isn’t why people buy- it’s perceived value that is critical. What does JC Penney add in value to the products they sell? Well, nothing really. Do we have any reason to trust JC Penney as a qualified curator of value? Nope. They’ve been through three rebrandings in as many years- and even before that, it’s been a long time since JC Penney held any kind of unique position in the eye of the consumer- if ever. For most consumers the JC Penney brand could go away tomorrow and they wouldn’t miss it. We’ve seen it before as Macy’s has gobbled up other regional department stores, rebranded them and customers barely skipped a beat. The brand name of most department stores stands for nothing- possible exceptions being Neiman Marcus which once stood for exclusivity and expensive, Nordstrom which built a reputation on amazing customer service and Sears which had brands like Craftsman, Kenmore and Die Hard that stood for solid American values.

JC Penney is a brand without a position. And since brands aren’t controlled by the marketer, but by the consumer, the way they introduced their new positioning of the brand has been way off target. Pointing out that consumers are tired of being assaulted with ads promising values based on inflated initial pricing is true. Focusing on the competition isn’t usually the best way to spend your advertising dollar. Yes, consumers know that MSRP is a joke, and from diamonds to donuts, everyone wants to pay less- but, are always willing to pay a little more for perceived value. Where is the value proposition for JC Penney?

The Value of “Fair and Square Pricing”

We believe in fair honest prices. When gasoline is sold for dollars per gallon, it’s insane that we still see $3.59.99 prices, especially when the penny, the 1cent piece, is on the verge of being done away with.  The old psychology of .95 or .99 cent pricing to erase perceptions of whole dollar prices being more may still work with the geriatric set, but younger consumers are less likely to be swayed by it. The value of JC Penney not manipulating prices up and down is great- but, when buying fashion, the brand needs to stand for something. We’ve seen denim jeans elevated from durable work clothes to designer label with outrageous price tags- yet, say the word JC Penney and what emotional trigger do they hit?

Our friend Sally Hogshead lists seven triggers in her book Fascinate: Passion. Mystique. Alarm. Prestige. Power. Rebellion. Trust (well, actually, she changed Lust to Passion and Vice to Rebellion just to be absolutely correct). You can find out more about the seven triggers here: The Fascinate System If JC Penney is going to rebrand and be relevant to the consumer, they need to at least score highly on one or two of the triggers. right now, they don’t. Is “Rebellion” against sales and manipulation enough? Hardly, Walmart and Target have been promising some sort of everyday low prices for years.

The “Enough. is. Enough.” line is more about the mendacity of marketing than about the value to the consumer. The TV spot introducing the new pricing is enough to instantly annoy a viewer who already views TV commercials an intrusion to their entertainment.

It will take JC Penney more than a few quarters to transform themselves into a value retailer, which many consumers may find attractive as they grow to understand it. Think about how most department stores are deployed- in a mall with several other competitors. Shoppers go to the mall to find fashion, after looking in Macy’s, Sears, and the other two anchor stores, as well as places like The Gap, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostal etc Penney’s may win over converts if they can get consumers to come through their doors to compare. Changing the experience of shopping can take time and while the pundits are quick to write this concept off, once JC Penney finds its new voice and can trip one or two more emotional triggers, they may find the success they are seeking.

Knowing what your brand stands for in the consumers head is the first step to making the sale. Since the consumer controls your brand, changing those perceptions isn’t an overnight or several quarter effort. We believe that Mr. Johnson has the right tactic but needs to find the strategy to convince customers that the value of “Fair and Square Pricing” is more than just saving a few bucks- it’s a statement above fashion about fashion.

Yes, consumers are tired of being lied to, but, they still want the mirage of an oasis beyond the doors to your store.

When wearing clothes from JCPenney becomes a fashion statement (I have the common sense not to be gullible), JC Penney will win.

 

“The Pitch” review: Marriott Autograph Collection, Bandujo vs Jones Advertising Discuss 2 Comments


For this discussion of the season finale (and maybe the final show, since the ratings were horrible) we invited one of our friends to sit in. Larry C. Price is a 2x Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and our go to guy when it comes to world travel (although he often ends up living in places most of us wouldn’t go even if we were paid to go there).

The client, The Autograph Collection by Marriott should have been one of the simpler challenges on the show. Marriott is a well known hospitality brand and the Autograph Collection is a their entry into the 4 and 5 star luxury boutique hotel market. The client asked for an awareness campaign that ideally works globally.

In our predictions post, we chose Bandujo, based purely on what we saw on their site. As usual, we never trust the editing by Studio Lambert to give us enough insight to really understand the strategy and development of the pitch, nor do we accept that what we saw was all that was presented. Luckily, Bundujo was better prepared than most of the other agencies who’ve come before and posted a complete synopsis of the work they presented (Bozell did the same from episode 6, WCDW did a bit from Episode 1).

We’ve seen an agency chief try the hail Mary concept delivery before when Conversation’s leader gave his my way or the highway “the worlds longest viral video” solution for PopChips. We thought that idea sucked (as did some of his staff), but the client bought it. Clients seem to like to see fully finished “turnkey” pitches on this show, which says more about the clients level of savvy. This time, Jones Advertising went over the top with hiring a film crew to produce his spec spot on an idea he came up with right after the brief- without consulting his creative team. It was an expensive lesson in humility when the client wrote off his brilliance as tired and predictable. We also learned that he was in over his head- as he was caught on camera getting schooled by the production people he hired. In the actual pitch, we got a hint of a secondary campaign “Stay Independent” which from an initial reaction was more on target, but could be an issue for Marriott as the brands owner which isn’t “independent” and as people pointed out on twitter- Stay You is the new Holiday Inn campaign). Although both agency owners thought so much of themselves that they named their shops after themselves (it’s amazing how many “brand builders” are this shallow) clients aren’t hiring one person, they are hiring a complete team of people. Why have a team if you don’t use them?

Jose Bandujo takes pride in coming from the client side and treating his staff as his clients. While it may work for his shop, we’ve always preferred a collaborative leader than an autocratic one. Critique is fine, but bring something back to the table. And while it may make for cute TV, inviting your friends over for brunch and talking to them while cameras roll is not a focus group. The “Make Some _________” campaign really didn’t tie back to either the luxury or the uniqueness of the brand, but given the choice between the heavy handed, over produced Jones Advertising epic spot, this campaign started to look good. We believe it’s great to show your clients or even potential clients, what’s wrong with their current site, but, doing it on national TV probably wasn’t the smartest move. What’s more amazing is that this critique was coming from the shop that doesn’t even maintain a twitter account.

In our discussion we kept coming back to something that Mark Jones said while sitting in the lobby of the Carlton- that all of these hotels not only are very photogenic, they all have a deeper story. Had he realized that these boutique hotels are usually driven by history or the vision of a impresario hotelier- and worked the stories into a campaign along with stunning imagery, he might have won. One of the interesting things about hotel advertising, is that despite the room is where you spend your time as a guest, the outside of the hotel has been the focus of print ads for hotels for good reason. Consumers buy the magic of the packaging- not always the product inside.

The reason these hotels have joined the Autograph Collection is to add marketing reach, booking tools, rewards points- which is easy for Marriott to provide, but this assignment is about adding value to the collection. Marriott is already a trusted brand, how will the campaign for these specialty hotels add mystique, lust and prestige to the consumers triggers when picking a place to stay? We didn’t think the “Make Some ______” gave the emotional cues needed to convey the one-of-a-kind brand experience that the customer is looking for.

Once again to improve this show we need, more than a week, more than two agencies and a search consultant to make sure the agencies have the tools to tackle the assignment effectively and make the show a better representation of how real advertising is done.

This will be it for our reviews of TV shows, but if you are holding a review to pick your agency of record, we’d love to talk to you. However, we won’t engage in an unpaid pitch, we value our intellectual capital more than the agencies we’ve seen on the show. Review our work, consider the budgets we were working with and stop in and meet the people you’ll be working with. Are we the kind of people you want to work with? Do you like the way we analyze your business problem? You’ve got 8 episodes of us discussing pitches to judge us by. You decide.

Thanks to all who’ve visited and connected with us. Special thanks to new friends, Steven Crutchfield and Paul Cappelli from The Ad Store and Mark DiMassimo from DIGO Brands, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Please consider following us on Twitter @thenextwave

UPDATE: Here is the extended podcast of our discussion.

 

The Pitch: Episode 8, Marriott: Bandujo vs Jones predictions Discuss 3 Comments


Our last prediction post. One more episode to go, at least until season 2 (just kidding). We may be the minority here, but we have stuck with this show for its entirety. For those keeping tabs, we have been 2 for 7 with our predictions.

Onto our analysis – the final episode features Bandujo Advertising (?not on Twitter?) and Jones Advertising @jonesads competing for Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The Autograph Collection is one of the biggest accounts on the show:

The Autograph Collection is a remarkable group of upper upscale and luxury independent hotels. These iconic properties are located in dynamic gateway cities and preferred destinations worldwide. Each one is unique, one of a kind and with its own distinct perspective.

From the Marriott site.

There’s only thirty-four of these boutique hotels in the hippest cities across the globe. According to the teaser, the brief is to build awareness for the Autograph Collection. Marriott has been expanding this relatively new luxury line of hotels (started in 2010) by acquisition or marketing agreements of designer hotels across the globe. They hope to have 60 by years end. The room rates are generally premium and a big part of Marriott’s rewards program. Marriott is attracting hotel owners to join in this nameplate by not enforcing strict brand rules- allowing local hotelier visionaries to have access to an international marketing and booking system, while keeping their unique character intact.

From watching the teaser, not that we trust any of the editing of the show or the teasers, this episode looks to have a lot of drama. In our office, we consider drama to be the enemy of creativity, so don’t expect brilliance from either shop in the whirlwind 1 week prep time frame.

Reviewing each agency’s website, they both have plugs for The Pitch. Bandujo features it prominently on the top of their site while Jones has a subtle post about it in their news section. Jones appears to focus on video and production in their portfolio and with a lot of Seattle based clients. They have an adorable ad for PetSmart. Bandujo draws New York-based companies, and have a few public service announcement ads that are shockingly effective.

Neither agency seems to be particularly web-savvy on their own, with little searchable content. Jones has a twitter account that’s been mostly ignored, Bandujo doesn’t seem to have one at all. Budujo has two “partner” firms- one a digital shop and the other is an interior designer which is a bit different, but may help with hooking into the hoteliers. They’ve also done work for Conde Naste- and Disney Vacation club, hinting at a bit more hospitality/lifestyle awareness.

Would either of these agencies be first choice of a luxury hotel brand? Probably not. DIGO from episode 7 had worked with Hard Rock, and there were probably other agencies that I’d trust more from the series with this account. McKinney had Audi for a few years, The Ad Store’s Paul Cappelli is pretty worldly and did well on his two appearances to those of us in the industry. As we’ve said all along, a good agency search consultant would be a huge plus to this show, along with giving the agencies a bit more time to develop their pitches.

For our prediction, we’re going to go with Bandujo. From a review of their work they seem to be better suited for Marriott as well as being a NY firm for a client in Bethesda Maryland. That being said, we haven’t had the best record of predicting these episodes.

Considering we actually liked episode 7, here’s to hoping that this final episode is the best one of the season. Look for our post show review to be posted by Tuesday night.

The Pitch, Episode 7 WomanK!nd vs DIGO for C. Wonder review Discuss 3 Comments

The poll numbers have an even split between DIGO and Womankind

This is as close as it gets

What was billed as the battle of the sexes made for the most interesting, best balanced show so far. For the first time the AMC poll on “who should have won” numbers were close to an even split, and the amount of editing drama was minimal. We’ve come to the absolute conclusion that watching the show actually hurts your odds of picking the winning agency every time due to the editing, but that aside, this show generated some of the most interesting discussion among our team on what went right in this pitch.

The fact that both agencies were based in NYC as well as the client set the stage for what we believe is the most important part in picking an agency: client site visits. Before you ever hire an ad agency, take it upon yourself to drop in and see if it’s the kind of place you’d like to hang out, and are these the people you’d want to work with.

As stated in the show by Vicki Brakl of Womenkind, hiring an agency is a lot like a marriage. Compatibility is key for a lasting productive relationship. C. Wonder CEO Chris Burch has been through selecting an agency before and knew to do this. While the editors didn’t show us much of the visits, we’re pretty sure this was a key part of helping Burch make his decision.

Both agencies trotted out a visual feast for the pitch. Big boards from WomanK!nd (who stressed when they realized some of their boards had the period after the “C” in the client logo- unnecessarily, since when we’re watching the show the client doesn’t always have it either) with the big green doors on one side- and the concepts on the other. DIGO brought print and video and who knows what else. In this case, it wasn’t so much how much you brought- but which agency listened carefully to the brief: a single idea to raise awareness and interest for NEW customers for C. Wonder.

Despite Burch hating the DIGO tagline use of the word “mood”- the idea of a single concept as opposed to a bunch of tactical moves including in-store use of touch screens in the dressing rooms to a crm/loyalty program is what the client said won him over.

We think it probably goes a little deeper. The first strategic fail by WomanK!nd was not having the principals at the brief. This is a CEO who wants to talk to the top of the firm, mano-a-mano and DIGO made the right move sending the named partners to both meetings.

Despite running a womens fashion chain, many viewers pegged Burch as a misogynist and compared him to Donald Trump on Twitter for his direct and forward style. Of course, to New Yorkers, Burch isn’t anything out of the ordinary and both firms probably enjoyed his candid answers and felt his questioning kept them sharp and on task. What was clear was that Burch wasn’t new to the building of a brand; he had already done this for his x-wife’s business, Tory Burch. He was a veteran and while the in store tactics that Womank!nd presented might have been great and impressed viewers, this was a guy who wants to build an empire fast- and as Mark DiMassimo says after getting the brief- “We’re built for this.” DIGO has it all over their site that they want to work with brands that want to grow- and C. Wonder was a nearly perfect fit for their agency.

In our predictions post we picked DIGO to win by a wide margin- but, even after watching we were split on who would win. Both agencies could have done great work for the client, but in the end, it probably came down to the agency that sold itself best to the client got the job.

Final words by Lee Goldstein (the GO of DIGO) were that you were buying the agency and how they thought- not what they came up with in “The Pitch”- and to that, we say “Amen.”

Here’s the full podcast of our conversation:

 
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The Pitch: Episode 7, C. Wonder: Digo vs Womankind predictions Discuss 2 Comments

In this episode of The Pitch we have a women’s fashion retailer based in NYC as the client:

C. Wonder is a shopping destination that transports women into a world of luxury and surprises. Created to deliver brightness to every corner of life, C. Wonder offers an entirely new retail experience: clothing, accessories and home decor products of outstanding quality and astonishing value in a setting that excites and inspires.

via Our Story.

And two New York agencies battling for the assignment: an innovative, thoughtful disruptive campaign. The client says “I want you to give me what the girl who walks into my store wants” in the preview, which already hints of a confrontational style client.

Background on the client - this is the brainchild of J. Christopher Burch, the venture capitalist who was married and is now divorced from the fashion designer Tory Burch- who has her own chain of stores selling her upscale “preppy-Bohemium” styles- which apparently appeal to a wide cross-section of women and have the Oprah stamp of approval. Her X- still sits on her companies board of directors, but is now going head to head with her- and other high end fashion houses with C. Wonder stores. Apparently the C. either stands for his first name- or if you watch this Bloomberg video, for made in China.

Fashion is fickle business- that lends itself to bold, stunk driven advertising. Ogilvy famously added intrigue to the Hathaway shirt brand with a guy with an eye-patch, Kenneth Cole and Benneton have both done in your face politically incorrect advertising, Calvin Klein and Abercrombie have both been questioned for taste with campaigns that resembled kiddie porn and George Lois put Tommy Hilfiger on the map by comparing his fashion to the well known greats. Fashion is THE business for agencies that can come up with the so called “big idea” and present it confidently.

In this episode we have WomanKind which we met briefly in Episode 5 for Frangelico when the Ad Store guys went over to visit to test their “sweet spot” concept with women- who quickly told them that it’s a feminine hygiene product. The ECD of the Ad Store is married to the CEO of Womankind. You can follow them on Twitter @womankind A perfectly competent agency, like Muse of the last episode who was just a multi-cultural shop, they wrap their agency as a specialist in advertising to women- a one trick pony. Even their tagline is “profit from the wisdom of women” which should mean they’re great for this assignment- only the client isn’t a woman- it’s a man- Mr. Burch, who doesn’t seem like he’ll be an easy guy to work with.

DIGO Brands is the abbreviation of DiMassimo Goldstein which has been around since 1996. This agency has no problem with ego, their site exudes chutzpa with lines like this:

Growth is driven. Working side-by-side with a who’s who of world-changing entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that driving change is crucial to growth. Those in the driver’s seat at ambitious organizations appreciate our dashboard of growth-driving services. They rely on us to explore and chart new frontiers of technology, media and culture through Brand-Driven Acquisition, Direct and Digital Marketing, Innovation, Product Development, Customer Marketing and Retention, Brand-Driven Conversations.

They quote the magazine “Fast Company” on their home page calling them “One of the foremost world changing agencies” and they, along with Womankind have no problems beating their own drums about being on “The Pitch”- but, these guys give us a bit more than most have with their own opinion of the whole media circus and industry disdain that comes with the show in their post about the show which is worth reading. They’ve climbed a bit on the fame ladder with their “Tappening” campaign- to make consumers think twice about drinking bottled water. Looking though their client list/work- we spot some campaigns we’ve seen and lots of clients we know. In the battle of the agencies- these guys have done great work for clients that Womankind could only dream about. Comparing portfolios- it’s DIGO is Goliath and Womankind is David- without a slingshot. You can follow Mark DiMassimo as the voice of DIGO @MarkDimassimo on Twitter- or read his blog”@speed blog” http://www.digobrands.com/go/ which currently is throwing 404 errors.

After last weeks first correct prediction we think we’re on a roll- mostly based on the one line out of the preview where Mr. Burch is asking if the creatives are  in the pitch conference and it looks like Womankind is at the wrong end of that stare down. Add in that these women don’t seem to have the kind of spines or egos to stand up to Mr. Made In China Burch- which should be no problem for the boys team at DIGO – we’re calling it for DIGO, and it should be by knockout.

The Pitch, episode 6 review: did we solve the right problem? Discuss 3 Comments

JDRF logo

Uh, what's the J stand for?

JDRF is another string of initials- it’s not even an acronym, since the “Juvenile” part of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is no longer even medically relevant. The foundation recognized they needed to change- but instead of a total makeover to something relevant to Type 1 Diabetes- they went the 4 letter route into obscurity. Which is probably why they opted to go on The Pitch- hoping to help fix their awareness problem.

They should have paid attention to the March of Dimes- which originally was the “National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis”- to fight polio. Thankfully, an entertainer coined the phrase “March of Dimes” for their annual walk- a take on the “March of Time” newsreels- and the organization had a new name- since within 30 years, the foundation had whipped Polio- and they moved their mission to birth defects. Read more in this Forbes article.

Note- they didn’t become NFFIP- or some such.

But here we have JDRF asking for a rally cry to help end Type One Diabetes- or at least help people who have it live longer. They’ve been pretty successful, since now a majority of people with Type 1 are adults – since it no longer kills the juveniles off before they became adults.

Had the assignment been to do a rebrand – come up with a new way to communicate the mission, this episode would have probably been a lot more interesting. Of the two agencies, Bozell (not the famous Bozell & Jacobs of NY- but the new Bozell of Omaha) was the bigger agency with the can do attitude, with the exception of Scott, the whiner, head of social something or other. As always, the editors love to create characters out of the contrarians- not that he was entirely wrong, he was just not very participative. Muse on the other hand came out of the brief expecting to fail- or not connect- or not have chemistry which is too bad, because they obviously can do work at a much higher level than what we saw in the show.

Once again we see the more that’s presented, the better the chance at winning. But, this time, as we actually predicted for once, Bozell won and deserved it. Not the “Be the voice of one” was super strong- despite their extensive support materials, but compared to the work Muse presented which looked worse than the local community college design students work. It also failed to respond to the specification of a “rally cry”- people aren’t going to chant “One less prick, One less prick” and have people say- oh, yeah, it’s time to donate to JDRF.

Yes, we know this is TV and people say stupid things on camera, but Jo Muse handed this competition over to Bozell after the brief, convinced that his “multi-cultural” centric firm wouldn’t be able to connect with the client or the target. Had he spent some money on bringing in some free lance creative teams or worked on the campaign more himself- instead of hiring a presentation coach, he may have done better – oh, and not presented a board with bad stock photos and too much type.

We can’t hate on Muse though, they did take this opportunity to send a powerful message to the ad community watching this show or reading about it with their “white space” :30 that they paid to air in select markets- it was right on the money. The only time most advertisers find minorities worth an effort- is if they want their money, not to hire in the field. The spot was clean, simple and powerful- had “one less prick” been that good- they’d have won in a minute.

It was hard discussing this episode because it was so boring, so our video may not be as fun as the others, but we did enjoy having Tonya Lee Carrie Fancher in for the brief- she’s one of our resources when we need to put together street teams or do field marketing in the region.

After this episode, our team wasn’t that excited about episode 7, so we’ve been delayed on the predictions post, but we’ll try to get it up before the show tomorrow.

UPDATE: Here’s the full audio podcast of our review:

 

Why newspapers have lost their usefulness to advertisers and value to their community Discuss 0

A few friends on Facebook (a walled garden- a wasteful place to have meaningful discussions) had a discussion about the end of newspapers. Most of them had been in the business or still are. There were lots of repeats of the standard sky is falling misconceptions about why newspapers are dying:

  • young people don’t read newspapers
  • giving away content online is a mistake
  • releasing breaking news before publication devalues the print edition
  • advertisers aren’t advertising in them because they’ve moved to more trackable methods
  • the economy is bad
  • local businesses don’t advertise anymore
  • how can newspapers compete with aggregators and bloggers who steal their content

The problem is, all of them are missing the core issue- newspapers were never the best way to distribute news, they were just the best solution when there was no internet. Stop thinking of news as content to go in a “paper” and you begin to solve your problems.

Let’s look at the limitations of the original newspaper:

  • There is a deadline for “publication” that was fixed. If the story was going to be covered it had to be in process before 7 or 8 pm to make the midnight press time.
  • Newspapers have limitations on space- with additional costs to run longer stories. They can’t run video, audio, or most importantly update after the publication or engage in 2 way discussion.
  • A huge part of the expense of creating a paper was in physical equipment- and supplies. Printing presses, ink, paper, distribution had to be covered by advertising and retail sales, before the cost of content creation was even factored in. It lead to exclusivity and a monopoly in most communities.
  • Because of the costs of distribution- and the length of the supply chain, you didn’t have to compete with other papers in your community- unless people wanted to read day old or two day old news. Only a local paper could get the content to you quickly and keep it relevant.

Reaching back to a brilliant book from 1996, “Being digital” by Nicholas Negroponte, there is a single axiom that must be understood: “Bits not atoms.” In other words, things that are created digitally, shouldn’t be converted to atoms- paper with ink unless it enhances their utility. Very few things fit this axiom when it comes to news or advertising.

The only value proposition a local news outlet has anymore is to connect a community and to be able to really know each of their readers well. Since we’re no longer creating a one size fits all general newspaper- with a fixed size and lifespan, we must become the go-to resource for local advertisers selling atoms (physical goods) that people in the community want and need.

Even here- the problem becomes that everything is one click away to be bought from someone else online. Showrooming, the practice of going to stores to see the product and then ordering it online from someone cheaper is a major problem for those that sell commodities that don’t have a short shelf life (fresh groceries) or are too big to ship inexpensively (furniture, weight sets, car engines). So the market for advertising locally has become smaller- services, local restaurants, the arts, hospitals and health care, sports teams, they become the people who need local advertising the most- but, most of them have caught on to building friends and followers via social media – and can’t afford the newspapers overhead to be included- this includes the legions of sales people that news outlets employ to sell space in their finite paper or finite TV commercial space. Outdoor has seen a resurgence since it can’t be ignored, skipped, missed or requires a subscription.

Note: Google lets advertisers buy their own ads without the help of  a legion of salespeople- and, Google knows their readers/users really well by tracking behavior, serving up custom content.

Getting back to local news organizations, they’ve been acting as the anti-social media for so long: one way communication, highly controlled, exclusivity, monopoly in their media space, that they’ve become irrelevant. That’s a big part of why newspapers have lost their value to advertisers. But, there is one big factor that many in advertising forget and don’t like to acknowledge- the fallacy of composition: just because you are online and all your friends are online- doesn’t mean everyone is.

There is a digital divide. Besides being a country with pathetically slow internet connections, we’re not universally wired. We’re not even close- and to the people who don’t have a connection, they still depend on the printed edition. The problem is, they are generally not in the key demos advertisers want. This is why the idea of running community newspapers as a non-profit community service is becoming more relevant and interesting to those who think about the value of a well informed public- from everything to the important decisions on who to vote for, to understanding the issues of the day.

Advertisers who want to be considered good neighbors, who believe that a healthy, well informed community is good for their business may begin to have a reason to advertise and support a publication that improves their community if it is also able to serve as the community hub/forum that set the agenda for the community.

Civic pride and civic duty are the keys to journalism of the future as well as community building. The monetary value will follow the utility of the content, not the other way around. Seth Godin has said over and over that he’s made more money by giving away his ideas and that the widest dispersion is the best when it comes to his content. He’d rather sell you 10 copies of a book for a buck each and have you give them all away, than sell you one for $20. The value is in the connection and the value the journalist adds with that connection- that inspires patronage and pride in the product, not because the ads are useful or the coupons save the reader money.

In Dayton Ohio, we’ve been watching the experiment by Cox Media of trying to integrate TV, Radio and Newspaper under one roof since late 2011. TV and Radio are both facing the same fates, except broadcast TV has been giving away its content for free since TV’s inception as has radio. In the UK they paid for these services with a tax on TV sets and for the longest time independent broadcast wasn’t possible. The same thing that’s happened to newspapers with the net has happened to TV- now anyone can distribute video, on demand, and not have to own a transmitter or a license from the government, enter YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream etc.. Radio has been made irrelevant by iPods, Pandora, Spotify, etc.

Once again, the key to being relevant to local advertisers is local content. The non-profit public radio station understands this and has local people on the air, talking about local issues and events. For profit radio doesn’t even have to have a person in the studio all day anymore using voice tracking and programing from Texas.

What’s most funny about Cox is that they still think there is a difference between print, radio and TV- not realizing all of them can be engaged on a single device called an iPad. Yet, they maintain different sales forces, different rates and different websites- all adding costs and no benefits to the end user. Integrate and refine your messages to a simple, single stream and engage in the old One-to-One marketing idea and you may become relevant to your advertiser again.

Local advertisers need local media. Local media needs to have and know it’s local audience. Only then, will the two connect again.

And, just as Seth Godin says you make the most from giving away your insight, I’ve given my local media a gift in this post, I just don’t think they are ready to accept that their way is D.O.A.

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