Friday, December 21, 2007

25th Georgia Blog Carnival

Welcome to the 25th installment of the Carnival! Consider this a virtual tour through the Georgia Blogosphere.

With the help from Elementary History Teacher, this installment hits the interweb just ahead of the Christmas and New Year's holidays.  As such, this carnival has a bit of a holiday flair to it.

The Georgia Carnival will be returning home to Georgia on My Mind for the 26th carnival on January 4th.  Submissions can be sent to or use the blog carnival submission form here.

In the meantime, grab a blanket (it's cold out there) and bundle up for an entertaining trip through the 'sphere with our fellow Peach State bloggers. (As a holiday bonus, I won't even charge admission.)


Follow along with several blog postings as Maria Peagler creates a red and black contemporary quilt for the third generation of family members attending UGA.

Who needs Comcast when you can have iTunes? The Satellite TV Guru has an answer for that one.

Paw Paw Bill takes a look at The Mitchell Report and wishes someone would Say It Ain't So 

Holiday Spirit

Lowe’s is selling “Holiday” trees? Brian Bowen has a rant on that!

Patchwork Reflections tells about the moving speech Truett Cathy, the King of the Chicken Sandwich, gave at her company’s Christmas luncheon.

Charles Wooton takes us on a shopping trip down Broughton St. for with a pre-holiday hispter wanna-be view of the experience.

Pastor Bill asks, "Do you have a manager set up in your home or on your front lawn? Often we look into those manger scenes and observe what appears to be a tranquil and placid event. We call it a "Silent Night". But it was anything but silent. It was a REVOLUTION!"

Political Soapbox

Jace Walden reflects on Ron Paul's comments on fascism

North High Shoals is the ground zero of political discontent in largely Republican Oconee County, where three Democrats are elected on a non-partisan municipal town council and local color has begun to freak out about it. Oconee Democrat has something to say about that!

Mike Huckabee?!  That's what Jason Pye asks Neal Boortz in an open letter questioning the radio host's endorsement of the GOP candidate.

If this isn't pointing a finger then maybe it's just a one finger salute? John Heneghan documents the lack of coordination between the DeKalb County School System and the DeKalb County Government over a needed intersection improvement.

Book Nook

Here are Santa Yoda's reading suggestions for the holiday season.

Badassbard wonders why more people don't read. He wishes us all a more literate year.

John chats up John Joseph Adams, slush editor with The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), over at Grasping for the Wind.

St. John Flynn reviews Tea with Sister Anna: A Paris Journal by Rome, Ga., artist Susan Gilbert Harvey.

With one foot in the Guttenberg Graveyard, Paw Paw Bill takes a look at's latest offering.

aTypical Joe gives us his take on writing.

Elementary History Teacher, the aforementioned Carnival poobah, we have the following entries:

History Lessons

You Know Who isn’t the only person with a December 25 birthday. Here’s one more for the list.

Reminder: Wikipedia isn’t to be a one-stop shop for historical info. Thanks to the Wren’s Nest for an example of why this is so.

Concession Stand

Missing: Pimento Cheese from The Vortex. A perplexed Dave Coustan would love to hear from others who feel the same way about the absence of this delectable item.

The Blissful Glutton with notes from the Atlanta restaurant scene.

Fun House

Tiffany Colter talks about leaving the information age in our cluttered world. (A topic near and dear to my heart.)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Next Up: Blog Carnival

I'll be hosting the next installment of the Georgia Blog Carnival, which goes up on this very blog sometime on Friday, December 21.  This is a semi-regular (it's more than semi- but I don't know how often) compilation of blog posts written by Georgia bloggers or blog posts about Georgia.

Here's a link to the most recent installment, which was hosted by Drifting Through the Grift.  I am  not sure of the full history behind this traveling blog shot, but it was begun by the mastermind behind the Georgia On My Mind blog and she's the primary organizer. 

Want to be included?  If you're a Georgia blogger or posting on a Georgia topic, go here to add your permalink to the fun.

See you Friday at the Blog Carnival!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I dug through my gmail inbox and found an exchange I had with a friend in 2005 about using Plaxo as a CMS. At the time I was not able to give this friend a good recommendation for Plaxo based upon the comments of another friend. Our conversation died at that point and and so did the attention I paid to Plaxo.

Over the years since that email exchange I've would receive messages from a couple of people I knew asking me to update my contact information, but the messages I've received lately from Plaxo have picked up and have changed in nature.

A few weeks ago I got a spate of invites to connect to people who had me in their address book. Instead of something that looked like a business card that I was supposed to complete with my info, these people had profiles and were noting how they knew me (friend, business contact or networking). My participation has thus far been passive. I created a user name and password to accept these invites, but I haven't actively sought out connections by uploading my contacts or anything like that.

Since receiving these recent invites to connect, I've been noodling some thoughts about Plaxo. As a LinkedIn user since 2004, and a recent Crackbook addict, I've been trying to figure out how this Plaxo site fits into my life.

Do I really need another profile and way for tracking contacts? At this point, I tend to think not. I threw out a question similar to this in Twitter and didn't get a response. But that's only read by about 15 folks or so since most of my offline peeps don't Tweet. Not enough to say this is mass agreement.

Since I am registered on Plaxo, I got the email pictured above. It caught my attention because I am a Moto Q user (mentioned briefly here), which uses a Windows Mobile platform, and this was one of the few marketing emails (i.e. not sent from a personal contact) that actually rendered in a readable format in the windows browser. I usually have to wait until I can read my gmail on the web to decipher those messages since most folks don't think to go easy on the graphics and links. (That rant continues here.)

Back to my point about Plaxo. I first read the message above on my phone. There was a link to try the service and I clicked it. And I got a screen that is shown at left. In case you can't read it - and I'd be shocked if you could - it says:
This file cannot be viewed on this device
I felt silly after reading the above and thinking that I was supposed to download something to my phone. Why would a note advertising a service for a Windows Mobile device not be viewable on a Windows Mobile device? The not-so-mobile-viewer-friendly web page was a clue I was in the wrong place. But a 1-2-3 how-to do this wouldn't have been so tough to include in the note.

So far, I feel Plaxo hasn't done a great job of getting me engaged in their site. Here are my problems:

  • No email to introduce a change in their M.O. from CMS to a robust networking site. If you can see that I've registered and done nothing more than passively accept requests, why not a nudge to do more?
  • What do I gain from participating in their site? I get a colorful (literally and figuratively) profile of contacts on Facebook and an electronic resume of sorts on LinkedIn. That's all I care to know.

From the time I started writing this post until publishing it I received three invitations to connect to people on Plaxo. In the cluttered world of connecting on the interweb, Plaxo isn't doing a great job of differentiating its services to me. It's a generic site in a sea of name brands.

If you're finding it beneficial in ways that LinkedIn and Facebook aren't please let me know.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Zappos responds

Turns out I'm not the only one whose feathers have been ruffled by Facebook's advertising feature, Beacon. has created a Facebook group to protest against Beacon's invasion of privacy.   The Facebook group includes a link to MoveOn's petition to "respect privacy," which hit the 20,000 milestone yesterday.   

After I wrote my first post on the topic, a Zappos customer service rep contacted me with the email below: 

Hi Sandi,

I read your blog that was posted on Tuesday about your Zappos purchase and the data link to facebook.  I am so sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

This feature with Facebook is brand new and only works when you are logged into Facebook at the same time that you are placing an order on  We are collecting feedback from customers and may or may not continue with this feature.

There is an opt out feature to disable the data feed from to Facebook.  All you would have to do is login into your Facebook account, click on the privacy link, click the "external websites" link, and then check the "never" radio button for

Again, I apologize for any inconvenience.  As a token of goodwill, Zappos is issuing a $25.00 off coupon that you may use towards your next purchase at Zappos. Below is your coupon code.

And then the email went on to explain how to use the coupon and ended with their boilerplate, which includes their mantra: "We like to think of ourselves as a service company that happens to sell shoes."

I wonder how many of these coupons Zappos has issued lately as a result of the Beacon feature.  So far, coupon aside, my experience with Zappos has been great.  The shoes came the next day, they're exactly what I ordered and look just like they did on the site.  I was already contemplating my next purchase from them before their email arrived, and the discount coupon is a bonus. 

As with other Facebook applications, Beacon should be opt-in, rather than its current opt-out format.  On Cyber Monday, I hope my fellow online shoppers will log out of Facebook before making their next purchase.  

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Beacon: A signal of my displeasure

The saga continues…

Instead of adding to my earlier post, I decided this whole Zappos-Facebook word of mouth marketing technique warranted its own post.

I added the link to my blog post as a posted item within my Facebook profile, and a few hours later it appeared as a News Feed item, pushing the information into each of my friends’ personal viewing space. That prompted an old camp friend to send me a blog posting by David Berkowitz about Beacon, Facebook's new application that allows "users to share information from other websites for distribution to their friends on Facebook." I got that from the press release, which lists as one of 44 participating in the Beacon launch.

Now I have the answers to all three questions I posed yesterday.
  1. What does Zappos or Facebook think there is to gain by sharing my purchase with the masses?
  2. What does that icon to the left of my name mean?
  3. How the heck did it get there?
A peek at the Beacon application page answers question #2. Here's an explanation for the application, which is written with marketers in mind:
Stories of a user's engagement with your site may be displayed in his or her profile and in News Feed. These stories will act as a word-of-mouth promotion for your business and may be seen by friends who are also likely to be interested in your product.
And that answers question #1. Word of mouth marketing is their primary goal. But were my friends really influenced by my purchase decision? Some may have learned of, but I think the benefit to the advertiser was minimal.

Question 3 touches on user privacy issues, which the Beacon page also addresses. The application page mentions the importance of user privacy, but from my experience I think they need to walk the talk. Here’s what the page says (emphasis added by me):
When you send an action to Facebook, the user is immediately alerted of the story you wish to publish and will be alerted again when they sign into Facebook. The user can choose to opt out of the story in either instance, but the user doesn't need to take any action for the story to be published on Facebook.
Really? Can I? I didn’t find that to be the case.

I find this interesting from a marketer's perspective, but as a consumer I am troubled.

News flash: I bought shoes!

Last night I was stunned to find out that a shoe purchase I made on turned into a newsfeed item in my Facebook profile.

I discovered this by looking at my profile and my first thought was, "Holy shiitake! How did that get there?" I was horrified and my knee-jerk reaction was to delete it from my mini-feed so that no one could see it when they viewed my profile. But it was too late for that secret. I IM'd with my friend Lauren about my discovery and she said something like, "Oh yeah. I saw that. They're cute." So you mean everyone of my friends knows about my shoe purchase?! Sure enough, this was in every friend's feed:

Anybody who can view my profile (which only people I've granted access to can do) could click on through to look at a picture of the shoes I bought. Thankfully my shoe size wasn't a part of the feed. At least something was considered sacred.

I can't figure out how my shoe purchase found its way into Facebook. I may have had Facebook open in one tab while making the purchase on in another tab, but that's too simple of an explanation. To borrow the term Dave Coustan used when I Twittered about this: creepy. At this point, I have more questions than answers:

  1. What does Zappos or Facebook think there is to gain by sharing my purchase with the masses?
  2. What does that icon to the left of my name mean? (I can't click on it anymore since I deleted it from my feed.)
  3. How the heck did it get there?

I'm not ashamed of my shoe purchase. It just isn't something I consider newsworthy. I've never bought anything from Zappos, but have read great things about them and I thought this would be a good opportunity to give them a try. I'll be curious as to what kind of feedback I get from either group.

In the meantime, I think my shoes are supposed to arrive today. Then what? Do I upload a photo of them and create a Facebook album to show them off?

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Friday, November 16, 2007

JPWN – Social Media Diva

Toby Bloomberg was the speaker at today's JPWN lunch. As always, it was a great event. It was interesting to be around so many people who are still learning about social media and thinking about how they can use social media tools in their personal and professional lives.

In writing about my experience as a blogger for the November JPWN newsletter, I remembered that it was Toby who suggested I start this blog. I really enjoyed talking with the women at my table and another during power networking about how a blog can be valuable resource for their company.

It was also great to learn about Stacy's new business venture and catch-up with Laura, whose company is amazing. Check them out!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Year Later

I recently passed the one-year anniversary of my first blog post. I had every intention of posting something on the very day of my anniversary (which will go unmentioned here so as to avoid calling attention to exactly how overdue I am). But before I knew it, the day passed, and so did a week or two before I was able to begin this entry.

I started this blog with the intention of calling out marketing campaigns or practices for their successful (or unsuccessful) attempts at cutting through the marketplace clutter. But part of the reason for my falling behind in marking my anniversary may be that I became a victim of the very clutter I intended to take aim at - everyday life and an overload of information that I am trying to process.

In my first post I mentioned a conversation that I had with a friend about Barack Obama. This was way before he launched his presidential campaign and Obama Girl became a YouTube sensation. (That video cracks me up.)

So, I checked back with her to see if she had a better idea of who Obama is on year later. Here's what she had to say (syntax is all hers):

barack obama is a democratic presidential hopeful and is a senator from chicago. (i think) he wants to pay teachers more, so he's peaked my interest!! i still get most of my news from the internet on my yahoo page, and will scan on occasion. i am a people magazine junkie, but that doesn't really qualify as news. other than that, i'll hear important things by word of mouth.

I'll continue to post my thoughts on the marketplace, so long as my personal clutter doesn't get in the way. But, I am not going to limit myself to just what marketers do - I plan to address all the different channel consumers use.

Facebook's recent announcement has me thinking. Another post for another day, I suppose.

Friday, October 05, 2007

KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid

This AdRants post says the best practices for billboard advertising better than I ever could. What is the expression, "The more you add the more you take away"? (Or something to that effect.) I wish more billboard advertisers would heed the sage advice of AdRants imparted in the last paragraph:

It's unfortunate most agencies and marketers don't realize the billboard medium is at its most powerful when it's used for simple, direct messaging. Two to four words and a simple visual is about all the medium can take. Too many marketers and agencies try to cram the entire marketing plan onto a single 14 X 48 foot space which is usually seen for less than three seconds. For billboards, simplicity rules. In creating this McDonald's billboard, Leo Burnett clearly understands this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Heineken A Winner at the U.S. Open

I found this article in Forbes and wanted to talk about it before it was too late.  Sports marketing is a personal interest of mine and this piece does a great job of showing how sponsors of the U.S. Open do more than just plaster their logos around the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Tennis, like golf, attracts a high net worth fan.  While most companies leverage their sponsorship of a sports event or team through venue signage, the U.S. Open is an event that warrants a more interactive approach.

"Marketing is getting more experimental, more aggressive and more direct," says Andy Glaser, brand director at Heineken USA, who adds that the four annual tracking studies the company performs show that its U.S. Open sponsorship improves its recall with customers. In addition to its Red Star Cafe sampling site, the company is unleashing vendors with funky-looking space age backpacks to dispense Heineken beer to fans in the seats.

I like this tactic - why not be proactive in getting your product into the hands of potential customers? Especially when a high concentration of your target market is in a setting that fits well with the brand attributes you want to highlight. 

I hope more sports sponsors take this interactive approach.  The Fan Fests are nice, but let's see more experiential attempts that allow consumers with a more enriching experience.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Quick Update to an Old Post

In the not so distant past, I wrote about a creative website for an Atlanta agency, WestWayne. As one commenter pointed out, the agency was in the midst of a name change. They've rebranded themselves as 22 Squared. The name comes from the idea that, on average, people have 484 friends over the course of a lifetime. Take the square of 484 and you get 22.

The agency's PR person emailed me to say they've "taken the 'consumer as friend' model" and run with it. I guess it's an interesting idea. On the surface I think it might be tough to pitch that for B-to-B work, but those types of exchanges are driven by networking and having the right relationships, so it might work. This is their new website. It's full of flashy goodness, but I'm a text gal and wish they had a better explanation (other than the voice-over which I missed the first time since my computer speakers were off) for the thought behind the name. I found myself thinking, "OK, that's great. But how does this relate to me?" as if I were a client. The press release I was sent mentioned some research they did to quantify the strength, stage and type of friendships between brands and individuals, but I didn't see that anywhere on the site.

So, that's the update of my earlier post. Now back to my regularly-scheduled commentary on marketing clutter. More to come on that soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

L.A.'s Outdoors go Digital

Hello! We here at Marketing Through the Clutter are back from our summer vacation and ready to resume our critiques of the good and the bad of marketing in today's busy world. 

Circa December 2006 I wrote about Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin vetoing plans by a few outdoor advertising companies to erect digital billboards in Atlanta.  But over on the Left Coast, there's no such ban and some Los Angeles residents are pretty upset.

Clear Channel is doubling its number of digital billboards in L.A.  To paraphrase the company's president and COO, the more congested a city, the better it is for billboards.

So he's saying that the worse the traffic, the better it is for advertisers to use billboards.  I can see the logic that if you're sitting in traffic and need to stare at something, why not make it an advertisement?  And why not make it a relevant ad since these digital billboards can change their messages pretty quickly? 

Those who live near those billboards can tell you why not.  The flashing lights are garish and disruptive as they stream into the windows of nearby apartment dwellers.

As I said before, I think this is a bit Big Brother-ish, but not a bad marketing tactic.  I just prefer marketing methods that are more one-to-one rather than one-to-anyone who happens to drive by.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Critiquing J.C. Penney's Plan

J.C. Penney's CMO calls out the dilemma of marketing clutter in his quote announcing the company's "2007 Back-to-School" campaign:

“While traditional marketing remains an important part of our approach, we are focused on incorporating new components into this year’s Back-to-School campaign that will truly reach youth in an authentic way,” said Mike Boylson, chief marketing officer for JCPenney. “Using this unique approach, we’re able to break through the marketing clutter and sameness to attract kids and teens – whether it’s at the movies, in the mall, on the phone or on the Web.”

But for all the channels J.C. Penney is working in this campaign, there's no social media! 

There's a lot of one-way information going on here.  I think the clothing retailer could really cut through the clutter by adding two-way dialogues with the teens and youths they're targeting.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Can you read me now?

If you found this blog while searching for "Buzz Cola," welcome.  If not, that's OK too.  Earlier this week my page views spiked because of so many people looking for a place to get their Simpson's paraphernalia fix.

As I mentioned recently, I'd like to explore viewing emails on PDAs.  Google seems to have this whole mobile apps thing down pat.  I have a Q and just discovered Google Maps.  (I tried it when I first got my phone and it didn't seem to work.  Now it will, but I can't get it to auto-start in Atlanta.  Oddly, it has this San Francisco bias...)  They even make it quite easy to get Gmail on a Blackberry.  (If you're wondering why I didn't hold out for an iPhone, that's a story for another day.)

The success of an email marketing campaign is partly dependent upon click-throughs.   But with so many people viewing emails on a PDA, the landing pages used in these emails aren't always optimized for a mobile browser.  What's the point in telling someone to "click here" for more information if the page won't load properly on their PDA?  It's narrow-minded to assume everyone is viewing the email from a laptop or desktop and subsequently taking the requested action from the same place.

For those who make impulse buys, not being able to click a link to a mobile-friendly page is a sure-fire way to kill a sale quickly.  I got an from Delta of weekly fare specials. It was easy read on my mobile browser, but it didn't allow me to actually purchase a ticket.  If I'd wanted to take advantage of the specials they were sending me, I would still need to call their 800 number for a reservation.  No thank you.

How do you read your emails?  Seen something you liked? How about a marketing email from a company that made you cringe? And how has an iPhone changed your email habits?

Please use the comments to share best practices for email marketing and PDAs.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Using Buzz Cola to Garner Movie Buzz

The post I wrote about select 7-Eleven stores being converted to Kwik-E-Marts is one of the most viewed pages on this blog. The magical conversion took place this weekend. Actually, only a dozen of the 6,000 7-Eleven stores have been made over to look like the fictional convenience stores of "The Simpsons" fame. But the rest will be selling Buzz Cola, KrustyO's cereal and Squishees, the slushy drink knock-off of Slurpees.

If you Google "Buzz Cola," my post is the seventh link that comes back in the results. There are more Simpsons fans out there than I had imagined.

All of this hoopla is part of the July 27 premiere of "The Simpsons Movie." It's a cheap stunt for Fox since 7-Eleven is paying for the whole thing (which is estimated at costing in the "single millions").

So why do this? It seems like a pretty cheap way for 7-Eleven to stand-out in the generic convenience mart category. It gets them some good buzz (pun intended) in the press and may even bring in Simpsons fans looking to buy the limited-edition theme foods. But I don't know if it's really going to attract much more attention from Slurpee/Squishee loyalists.

This is why Fox participated:

"We wanted to make sure the movie stands out as a true cultural event this summer," said Lisa Licht, a marketing vice president at Fox. "It has to stand out from other summer movies and TV shows."

Hmmm.... separating the film from the cluttered summer movie scene, eh? I'll go with it.

7-Eleven stores that have been transformed into a Kwik-E-Mart are located in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Burbank, Calif., Los Angeles, Henderson, Nev., Orlando, Fla., Mountain View, Calif., Seattle and Bladensburg, Md. (UPDATE -- here are their addresses.)

Have you visited one of these stores? Did you go there because it was a "Kwik-E-Mart" or because it was just plain convenient? Please share your stories and opinions in the comments.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhones and Email Marketing

I took a quick walk over to the Apple Store at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta today to check out the scene before the iPhone launch. At 1 p.m. there were upwards of 185 people there – and it was growing by the minute. I just purchased a new phone (a Moto Q) a few weeks ago and have no plans to switch to AT&T. So I was merely there to gawk at the crazies who were at the mall before dawn to be the first in line.

At 11:51 a.m. today I got an email from Apple announcing the iPhone (see the picture at right). This week I've been talking with a colleague about email marketing, specifically viewing messages on PDAs. When I tried to view the same message on my Q, it came through as a garbled mess. (I'll try to post a photo of that.) For all the talk about how important email marketing is, we had trouble finding best practices on viewing emails on a mobile platform. I am anxious to see how HTML emails are rendered on an iPhone. It struck me as funny though that I couldn't use my Moto Q (a Windows Mobile Device) to read an email promoting the arrival of the iPhone. I guess Apple hasn't figured out how to send text-based emails.

This segues into what my next post will be about – email marketing and reaching those who read their messages in platforms other than the web and Outlook.

UPDATE: I've added the photo of how Apple's lovely HTML email became garbled on my phone. How/where do you read your email?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

X Doesn't Always Mark the Age

Penelope Trunk had an interesting post yesterday about generational ID's.  You may think you're a Baby Boomer or in Generation Y just because of the year you were born in.  But, how about identifying with a generation by how they use various forms of media? 

Check out the test she put together and see if you're really acting your age, er, generation.  I scored a 14, which puts me just out of my Generation X birthright.

This got me to thinking.  The way a message is sent isn't always going to be received as it's expected to.  To cut through the clutter, companies can no longer assume they know who's going to be on the receiving end. 

Are you acting your generation?  Take Penelope's test and come back with your results.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bad Advertising: It's Not Me, It's You

Heather at Microsoft posted the funny video below, which I wanted to pass along.  It does a good job if showing how ignorant companies can be when trying communicate with their consumers.  The dating analogy is perfect.  

This also seems like a good time to mention that I was FINALLY able to get Windows Live Writer to play nice with my Blogger template last night. So I am now able to post much quicker and easier than I have been able to in the past.  (But probably without pictures since I can't FTP them to Blogger, I don't think.) Now, if I could just get Outlook to work like it's supposed to on my home computer all will be right in my world.

NCAA Regains its Senses

After a reporter was ejected last week for live-blogging during the College World Series, the NCAA eased up a bit and now permits live updates are OK, as long as what's posted is limited to the score and time remaining in the game/match/whatever.

Here's the update and thanks to Joel Price for the tip.

Nice to see that the Double-A realized it doesn't own the rights to game scores.  I remembered after my last post that blogging game scores and a running commentary is something Bill Simmons has been doing from his couch for a long time.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig but not a Condom

Fox and CBS rejected an ad for Trojan condoms that was to have aired last night.

In the commercial, a cellphone-toting pig hits on women at a bar. He is unsuccessful until he heads to men's room, gets a condom from a vending machine and returns as a head-turning male in his 20's.

At that point, the tagline appears: "Evolve. Use a condom every time."

Trojan's Vice President of marketing explained:

"The 'Evolve' ad does a nice job of being humorous, but it's also a serious call to action," Mr. Daniels said. "The pigs are a symbol of irresponsible sexual behavior, and are juxtaposed with the condom as a responsible symbol of respect for oneself and one's partner."

It seems the TV networks objected to linking condoms to pregnancy prevention (as opposed to health-related issues. That was FOX's basis for rejection). I thought it was a funny take on the "men are pigs" complaint of single women.

Now, I know the average CBS viewer is around 60 or so, or at least old enough to know about condoms. And FOX is the network that knows a thing or two about sexy TV programming ("Joe Millionaire" anyone?). So it's OK to use sex to sell hamburgers (like celebutard Paris Hilton did for Carl Jr.'s) but not condoms? Give me a break!

I think CBS and FOX blew an opportunity to be a part of a very buzz-worthy campaign from Trojan. Thumbs up to those who do run this commercial. Hopefully this includes ESPN…

SMC Meet-up does Alpharetta

Today I went to the Social Media for PR professionals lunch that Sherry Heyl organized through Thanks for organizing it! Grayson Daughters led an interesting discussion, but I think some of the folks there needed a 101 lesson in the tools that were discussed before they could even think of applying them to their client work. I came away with some ideas and things I'll use in my personal and professional lives, such as blog commenting and tagging. No more blurking for me!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

About bats, balls and blogs

On Sunday, June 10, Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Brian Bennett was kicked out of the press box at the NCAA Baseball Super Regional for live-blogging during the University of Louisville's 20-2 win over Oklahoma State en route to the College World Series. What led to Bennett's ouster?

Here's how Josh Centor from the Double A Zone – the "official blog" of the NCAA - explains it:

Due to the NCAA's broadcasting agreement with ESPN, bloggers are not permitted to update their sites with in-game coverage from the baseball press box. In-game updates include providing readers with the score, inning of the game, roster moves, etc. The policy was enacted at a baseball game, but applies to all NCAA championship events.

Thus, if you want to sit in the press box, you'd better not think about telling your readers what's happened until the fat lady has sung. There's been much chatter in the blogosphere about this. Here are a few of the postings I particularly liked:


Dan Shanoff


Eric McErlain

These guys have all argued great points – from the NCAA being totally out touch with how people receive information to the idea that any Joe or Jane with a TV and an internet connection (or attendee with a cell phone) could do the same thing Brian was doing.

When I was at the University of Georgia, we published the scores for the gymnastics meets (including the NCAAs) as they were announced. Since these meets were never broadcast live it was an invaluable resource for fans that weren't there to still follow along. That fact may be what separates what we were doing from what happened Sunday, as ESPN was broadcasting the game Bennett was blogging.

And when I was working at the boxing venue during the 1996 Olympics, we were constantly coming across men calling the action on their cell phones to be broadcast over the radio back home (which was usually somewhere in Brazil). If those guys had stepped outside the press area, they would have been beyond our jurisdiction.

But Sandi, how does this topic relate to Marketing Clutter? I am glad you asked.

To not grasp the fact that live-blogging is THE most effective and most efficient form of reporting and analysis of all kinds of events - sports or otherwise – demonstrates the NCAA's ignorance. There are so many ways for people to get information these days, that the NCAA cut off its nose to spite its face with its ban on live-blogging. Apparently they thought people would chose to read Bennett's blog over watching the game on TV, which is exactly what happens during the workday when more people turn to the internet than the TV for information.

Even though this didn't happen during the week, the NCAA's tone-deafness to the realities of how people get their information is appalling. This is counterintuitive to how people communicate.

Given that this is the same organization that also banned text messages between coaches and recruits, the ban on live-blogging doesn't surprise me. Way to stay in the 1980's, NCAA!

If this were a Bud Lite commercial, I'd salute you, Mr. I Regulate Information Like it's 1972. You're a real man of genius!

Here's hoping fans of the Louisville Cardinals who have to work during tomorrow's first-round game (which begins at 1 p.m. CST) can follow the action to their liking.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This pep rally sponsored by...

I'm a day late, but there was a good article in yesterday's New York Times about how marketers are targeting the population of high school athletes, which to my surprise, is 7.2 million strong. As a former high school athlete, this story is of great personal interest to me. My take-away from this story is the increased interest by large media corporations in the population called Millenials, Generation Y or baby boom babies. It was only a matter of time before CPG and the beverage industries also took an interest. The 80% growth figure over the past 35 years quoted isn't a surprise. With the popularity of women's soccer after the 1996 Summer Olympics, interest girls has grown in all sports.

I hope this all isn’t some preamble to corporate sponsorships of high school championship games. The Sprite 1-AAAAA Georgia High School Football Championships at SunTrust Field, anyone?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cover your eyes, it's the 2012 logo

Having worked at the 1994, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and been raised in Atlanta and lived through the fun that was (pre-Grey’s Anatomy) Izzy, I have a personal interest in Monday’s announcement of the logo for the 2012 Olympics in London. To say what was unveiled Monday has gotten a negative reaction would be an understatement. In just one day, thousands have signed a petition calling for the logo to be scrapped and an animated version of the logo was pulled Tuesday from the official website because of concerns that the footage’s flashing lights would cause epileptic seizures. Niiiiiiice….

I didn’t even realize the imagery represented the numeric 2012 date upon first glance. It’s been referred to as a swastika, and I don’t think that’s too far off. I think it’s a jigsaw puzzle piece gone awry.

On the left is a look at the old logo. As one BBC blog put it, this one doesn’t fit on cell phone as nicely, which is the medium of choice of the kids these days, which is apparently the audience organizers were targeting.

London 2012 organizing committee chairman Seb Coe says this logo "… will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world.

"It is an invitation to take part and be involved. “

Yack. Someone needs to get this guy some training. Is that really how he speaks?

Seth Godin has already done a fine job of explaining the process of logo development and deployment. Creativity is subjective, but I think most are in agreement that what the London 2012 organizers put forth is atrocious.

What do you think of the logo?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Low Maintenance Messaging

Talk about a different approach! Atlanta-based WestWayne advertising has downsized its website to a single page resembling the classic “404 Page Not Found” page. This is how WestWayne’s page looks now.

Most agencies try to blind visitors to their website with Flashtastic effects that are pretty self-serving. This is a very different approach and I’d love to hear how it’s received by current and potential clients. In addition to offering simple insight from the get-go on consumer behavior, they added a humorous touch by playing off the 404 code and blending it with their phone number. (Pretty convenient that it’s also the area code for the city of Atlanta.) If you know how long since the site’s relaunch, please drop a comment here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Give BearingPoint a Mulligan

I like Darren Rovell’s post today about the relevance of BearingPoint’s logo on Phil Mickelson’s visor. Well, maybe I should say “logic” instead of “relevance.” Having worked in marketing in the professional services space, I know that those products are really a relationship-based sell and not so much advertising driven. After reading in Rovell’s post the lack of awareness among golf fans for BearingPoint’s services, I thought, “duh.” Whoever made the decision at BearingPoint to make this buy must be a rabid golf junkie – or very interested in pleasing a superior who is.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nike "Thanks" Imus

Leave it to Nike to use the Don Imus controversy as the source for an ad campaign. In this print ad that began running on April 15, the sports apparel company has taken the comments made by the ugliest man on radio and turned them into an opportunity “…to move the conversation forward,” according to Dean Stoyer, director of U.S. media relations for Nike.

Nike’s connection to the situation is that it has outfitted the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Rutgers for several years. In thanking Imus – without actually naming him – for “unintentionally moving women’s sport forward”, Nike has taken the high road. While most advertisers dropped the talk-show host like a bad habit, this ad put the focus back where it belonged, on Rutgers and the team’s accomplishments.

Side note to Nike: Give some thought to taking a small slice out of your advertising budget to put towards spell check. Even I know it’s not Rutger’s. It’s good that you caught this for subsequent buys, but you were a little quick on the trigger the first go-round. Doh.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mmm... sandwich - and a Buzz Cola

You won’t have to go to Springfield to visit a Kwik-E-Mart in the coming months. Select 7-Eleven stores will be transformed into Homer Simpson’s favorite shopping spot to promote the new Simpsons movie. The front of 11 stores will be transformed to look like the fictional store manned by Apu. No word if they’ll use the name “Stop O Mart” in Ohio.

The movie hits theaters July 27, so be on the lookout for KrustyO's cereal, Buzz Cola and iced Squishees at a local 7-Eleven/Kwik-E-Mart near you in the meantime.

I like this idea a lot better than the R2-D2 as a mailbox promotion. Both parties will benefit from this partnership. 7-Eleven will get some new visitors to its stores and The Simpsons Movie gets some good buzz before its release.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

At least they didn't pick Chewbacca

I saw on TV recently that the U.S. Postal Service had partnered with Lucasfilm to transform the standard blue mailbox into an R2-D2 look-alike. At first glance it seemed kind of clever. But as I gave it more thought, it seemed like an odd marriage to me. To learn why this unholy union took place, I discovered the USPS is helping celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. So there’s some benefit to George Lucas in this agreement, but what about the Post Office? Mack, over at the Viral Garden, has made some good points about this promotion, but I guess I don’t see much of a benefit for our friends in blue who deliver snail mail.

Yes, there’s a lot of buzz about these boxes (this post included). And I can see Mack’s argument that this gives the USPS a bit of personality. But these boxes don’t create a reason for me to go buy stamps. Seeing R2-D2 outside my post office isn’t going to send me rushing inside to buy some postage. Now I will admit that a lot of Star Wars junkies probably will buy stamps they wouldn’t have otherwise because they collect anything and everything Force-related. But is the buzz factor enough to warrant the costs associated with activating this promotion for the USPS? You tell me. I just don’t see there being much additional demand for stamps just because we can feed our letters into an R2-D2 mailbox.

In the meantime, I hope the Force is with my mailman. Given the pollen outside, he needs some sort of protection.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sports: Taking the interaction off the field with fans

There’s an interesting discussion taking place over on Sports Marketing 2.0. Pat Coyle has highlighted the problems the industry is facing. At the top of the list of problems facing marketers (those in sports and in general), is the challenge to find consumers in today's media marketplace. Given the title of this blog, that’s a topic that is of great personal interest.

The posting then moves on to discuss three trends that will emerge in sports marketing over the next five years. Pat’s last two points caught my eye and are points I hope to incorporate into my next career move, specifically making a consumer/fan’s experience with the product a two-way interaction.

The MyCokeFest coming up in Atlanta plays to the point of using a brand to enhance a fan’s experience at an event. But I really like Mission: SEC. It has new media elements, like the blogs and videos and works from a fan and a marketer’s perspective: pertinent information is delivered to an interested audience thanks to relevant sponsors that nicely tie their brand to the content.

I foresee more such marketing tactics to address the problem at the top of Pat’s list.

Here are the comments from Pat’s visitors. Feel free to leave your own below.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crashed Ice: A Sport With One Message

After reading about Red Bull’s creation of a brand new sport through which to market the energy drink in last weekend’s New York Times, I have to say… this is pretty interesting. Why be one of many advertisers in an arena or add your brand name to a single event? Red Bull has sidestepped the clutter in the traditional sports marketplace by creating an entirely new competition and owning the concept. The sport has drawn a large amount of attention, with 35,000 people watching a recent outdoor event in Quebec and 14 events being held throughout the U.S. The risk is a sports landscape littered with invented, branded competitions. But no one’s confusing this with ESPN’s X Games. And that problem is a long time coming, I think.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Finding Meebo

At the bottom of the right rail I’ve added a Meebo widget for anyone who stops by to IM me while they’re visiting my blog. I’m trying this as an experiment to see how it works and if anyone will send me a message. Messages can be sent to me whether I’m logged-in to Meebo or not. I'll receive your message either way and would love to hear from visitors. If you're so inclined, there's a way to change the standard-issue/nondescript nickname to something more revealing by clicking on the "edit nickname" text. Don’t be a stranger!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New Orleans to Chicago: We're Windier

Thanks to Adrants for this photo. It’s hard to differentiate one travel ad for a beach locale from another, but this billboard for a non-sandy destination is eye-catching. As Adrants said, humor directed inward works. This time of year sunny ads may work in colder climates, but I bet this board generates some buzz in Chicago.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

SoCon07: I came, I saw, I participated

I attended SoCon07 yesterday, not quite knowing what to expect when I registered. It was billed as an un-conference, which meant nothing to me. I was just hoping to learn more about using blogs and other forms of social media as marketing tools. I didn’t care what format the program took to do that. Early on I didn’t see how it wasn’t just like any other symposium, other than the laptops in use by many of the attendees. (In a way it reminded me of grad school, except these people were blogging the speakers. Professor lectures were never shared with the world as they were being given, thus the need to attend class. Natch.)

But the two-way dialogue between the speakers and the audience members was interesting. Leonard Witt kicked off the fun with a great exchange of ideas before turning the program over to Christopher Klaus, who spoke at length about his newest venture, Kaneva. There are plenty of pro and con sentiments about each of these speakers in the blog roll on the SoCon07 site, so I won’t regurgitate those opinions here. “Transparency” was mentioned during the kickoff session and continued to resonate with me personally, as so much of social media involves creating a meaningful and honest dialogue.

At lunch I enjoyed talking with Leonard before heading back for the afternoon sessions. Of the two I attended (Marketing & PR first and online communities second), Josh’s session was a little more interesting in that it was more of a group discussion. I appreciate the passion of the communities session leader, and he made some great points, it would have been more enjoyable if we had been able to spend more time if the participants had been able to share some of their intellect into developing various types of communities/programs.

All in all, it was nice to see some familiar faces such as Josh, Mark and Toby and meet the author of the Spacey Gracey Review, whom I’ve enjoyed reading. (Where were you Earthling?) And it was nice to meet so many new (to me) people too. But next time, I’d like it better if the size of the SoCon graphic and the participant’s names were inverted on the nametags. We knew where we are, but I’d like to know who you are when you’re too far away to read your name subtly.

All in all it was a good experience and I left more knowledgeable than when I got there and with a few ideas I’d like to try in the future.

Now that I have set a new personal record for hyperlinks in a single post, I’m off to look up the dozen or so sites I learned of yesterday. Happy blogging!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Interactive Advertising - Putting the Fans in the Super Bowl

The idea of user-generated advertising during the Super Bowl fascinates me. That companies would be willing to allow Joe or Jane Public to control the content of the most expensive time on television is intriguing. Not that the advertisers are totally hands-off, as Chevy learned the hard way what happens when the public gets their turn at the advertising wheel. Doritos, bless its cheesy little heart, is going it alone – sort of. They’ve created a contest for fans to vote on their favorite commercial among five finalists. The winner will be announced this Sunday at the Super Bowl in Miami and broadcast on TV during the game.

I love user-generated content because it allows consumers to connect with brands in so many different ways. It cuts through the clutter and gets right to its target audience. It also builds a sense of community among a group of people with shared interests.

Here are a couple of links to articles: one about user-generated advertising and another about how it relates to the Super Bowl.

Instead of being passive spectators, the trend of consumers actively engaging with brands is one that is sure to grow. Any smart marketer should know better than to put a stop to consumers who can act as an evangelist and spread good cheer through whatever channel possible. And if the cheer isn’t so good? Consider it an opportunity to improve, I say. Shouldn’t marketing be a two-way street?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Redefining Comcastic

Given that it’s been three weeks since my last posting, it’d be very easy to assume this blog was just another passing fancy and had been left to die a slow death in cyberspace. But that would be incorrect. The lack of internet access is partly to blame. (The other part can be explained by a lack of inspiring ideas. I don’t post for the sake of reading my own writing.)

Lack of internet access?! It’s 2007! How could that be possible?! Well, let’s just say that I was not having a Comcastic week last week.

My modem died on January 12, but it took three service technicians over a week to make the diagnosis. I’ll spare you the details. I was able to sneak peeks at my personal e-mail here and there, but not having the internet in my home office felt like my right arm had been removed. Needless to say, I was not pleased.

Just as I ended my last posting by saying how a positive customer experience can be a wonderful marketing tool, a negative experience can have the same effect – but not the kind a marketer would hope for.

So in the week that my internet was MIA, I at least had cable television as a link to the outside world. But in between watching my favorite shows, I saw more than one commercial advertising Comcast’s services. Which got me thinking, what’s the point in talking the talk if you’re not going to (or can’t) walk the walk? Shouldn’t companies make sure they’re able to deliver on current promises before they start making new ones?

The best kind of marketing is positive word of mouth from brand evangelists. But what kind of buzz can a company expect when those who are experiencing their brand (and are empowered to speak to it with authority) have nothing good to say? It’s time to reevaluate the link between marketing and customer service within the company.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Happy iPod Story for 2007

I am excited to start off 2007 with a tale of good customer service. Just before leaving town for vacation I noticed the screen on my iPod was broken. After a quick trip to the Genius Bar, my iPod was off to iPodResQ to be repaired. It wasn’t the cheapest option, but when I factored in shipping them my iPod, it was a wash. Here’s the 411 of how their process works, and I have to say, it really is that simple to deal with this company. I went from being really annoyed that my iPod was broken to a happy camper that I have my iPod back in working order. The lesson to be learned – never keep your iPod in your purse without putting it in a protective case. Thankfully it wasn’t a lesson to be learned by replacing my iPod entirely.

The (relevant) point of this story is a positive customer experience can be a wonderful marketing tool. We’re all quick to share horror stories, but when someone has a positive experience with your company or brand, their tale can be just as powerful when shared with those who find the source to be influential.