Category Archives: marketing

Foto Friday: Billboard

I saw this billboard yesterday and I had to stop  and take a picture of it. (Actually, I had to park, cross the street in the rain, and stand there like an idiot taking a picture of it).

Is it just me or does this ad bother you?

IMG_0043

I can’t help but think it’s from Smart Tan or a similar organization.   If so, I’m appalled that they’re using the pink ribbon to promote their cause.  Now, if  the message was just “Vitamin D helps decrease your risk,” I’d have no problem with it.  But the fact that they say “from the sun and tanning beds” makes me a bit suspect.

I’m all for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but why use it to promote your own cause?   And isn’t this kind of like trading one cancer for another?  I realize skin cancer is less deadly, but still.

What do you all think?

30 Days of 30: By the Numbers

Those of you paying close attention may have noticed that the 30 days of 30 technically lasted only 29 days (Jan 5-Feb 2).  There were also a couple of unclaimed days in there, but I filled them by hanging out with my mom and a co-worker.  

BUT… the 30 days aren’t really over yet.  When this blog goes live, I’ll be in Chicago for the finale, so I’m counting my party on Saturday as the 30th day.

If my calculations are correct, here are some other interesting numbers about my 30 days:

60– Number of people I celebrated with this month.* 

36– Number of locations– 16 restaurants, 11 bars**, 1 bakery,  1 arena, 1 bowling alley, 1 movie theater, 1 out of town location (Galena), 1 shopping center, and 3 private residences.  

The most common location for 30 days activities was Bunny’s, followed closely by a tie between Crane Alley and Boltini.   This is notable because I probably haven’t been to either of these places much in the past year, but I really like them.  Houlihan’s and the Courier were the most popular non-drinking establishments. 

6– Number of places I’d never been before: Galena, Bridget’s house, La Gourmandise Bistro, The Brass Rail, The Sandwich shop (whose name I’ve yet to look for), Cakes on Walnut.

14-  Number of different activites: lunch,  dinner, drinks, dessert, Illinois game, bowling, LOST watch, movie, snowboarding, Superbowl party, live band, book club, story teller, trivia

15– Number of times I went out for lunch

13-- Number of times I went out for drinks

6– Number of times I went out for dinner***

2– Number of times I went out for dessert.  Again, notable because I rarely go out just for dessert.

2– Number of Illini games watched**** (one at the Assembly Hall, one at Bunny’s)

2– Number of things I’d never done before:  go snowboarding and listen to a professional story teller

0– Number of pounds I’ve gained.  Seriously. I definitely feel fatter/less healthy, but according to the scale, my weight is the same.

I don’t even want to think about the number of drinks or calories I consumed.  Thank goodness I didn’t have this “by the numbers” idea earlier or else I really would turn into the guy from Supersize Me. Lol.

More importantly, though, I’m amazed at the number of things I was able to cram into one month… and the number of people I convinced to “play along.”  It was really a great experiment and I’m glad I did it.  I highly doubt 31 days of 31 are in my future, though :)

In case you missed them (or just want to relive the fun), here are the weekly recaps:

——————-

Notes on the Methodology

*Includes only people in “my party” and does not include repeats (i.e. if I had lunch with Lisa one day and happy hour another, she is only counted once).

**For this purpose a bar is defined as a place primarily for drinking whereas a restaurant is an eating establishment.  I chose to count them based on why/when I was there.  (i.e. Farren’s is a bar/restaurant, but I was only there for lunch, so it gets counted as a restaurant.)

*** This number is probably lower than it should be.  I counted an event as drinks if drinking was the primary purpose of the activity (i.e. happy hour). It’s more than likely that dinner was also consumed.

**** Again, possibly artificially deflated.  There may have been an Illini game on during a happy hour that I did not record as a “game watch”

As Seen on TV

I’ve had a bit of insomnia lately. Therefore, I’ve seen way too many late-night infomercials.   A few of my favorites:

The InStyler

As someone with notoriously bad hair, I’m always looking for something to help me add volume and body.  Hell, I even asked for (and received) the Revo Styler for Christmas one year. 

But the InStyler is even better:  It curls! It straightens! It does crazy flippy things!   It’s a good thing I don’t typically bring my credit card to bed with me or else I probably would’ve bought this during my late night/early morning channel surfing marathons.

Extenze

I thought I was de-sensitized by seeing all the Viagra, Cialis, and “Natural Male Enhancement” ads on TV (the football through the tire swing– real subtle, guys!) But I literally could not believe what I was watching when I saw an infomercial for Extenze: 

Seriously?  A “sex talk show” where they interview guys (and their ladies) about “size issues?”  Gag, gag, gag.   At first, I honestly thought it was a spoof.   No such luck!  I probably watched a little longer than I’d like to admit, though.  My favorite was the ponytail/Fabio guy (I don’t think he’s in the clip above).

And in the “that’s unfortunate” category . . .

There’s a specialty lingerie store here in town.  No, not *that* kind of specialty store.  They cater to women who need especially large bras, post-mastectomy, that kind of thing.   In one of their current commercials, they say something like [I'm not going to get this 100% correct] “Specializing in the perfect fit for sizes double A-F, nursing bras, and post-surgery garments.  Feel utterly fantastic.” 

Utterly?  Really?  You’re going to use the word utterly right after talking about a nursing bra?  

That’s unfortunate!

Website Wednesday: MySpace Music

Since I profiled Facebook last week, I figured I’d give some blog-space to its slightly older brother MySpace, specifically the newly revamped MySpace Music.

I kinda lost faith in MySpace a few months ago.  For me, the only advantages of MySpace over Facebook were the ability to blog and to add music to your profile.  Since I’ve been blogging here, I’ve pretty much abandoned MySpace for the greener, cleaner pastures of Facebook.  But MySpace Music just might bring me back. 

Although we hear a lot about MySpace vs. Facebook, MySpace Music is more like a contender for the iTunes throne.  So much so, in fact, that a big huge ad for the iPod Nano was literally splattered over my page when I logged in to get the screen grab above (more on that in a sec.)  In many ways, MySpace Music feels more like a hybrid of internet radio and iTunes than a traditional social networking site.  

The User Experience

The advantages to the user are enormous:  MySpace has partnered with all the major music labels so that artists’ entire collections are available online, instead of just a few select songs.  Like iTunes, you can create your own customizable playlists and share them with your friends.  You can add up to 100 songs and you can play them from anywhere using the stand-alone player.  There’s no limit to the number of computers you can have your music on and you don’t even have to have your MySpace page open all day.

Unlike iTunes, however, it’s all FREE!  To try it out, I added some songs by artists recommended on this blog and called it “blog recommendations.” (How’s that for user-generated content–ahha!)  I was able to listen to full length songs and decide whether or not I liked them without spending 99 cents.  

There were a few technical glitches (some songs wouldn’t play) and I was missing the “popularity” indicator feature from iTunes, but—all in all—it was really easy to search, navigate, and add songs. Of course, if I want to buy music (or download ringtones, or buy concert tickets), I can do it right there from MySpace Music.

Sound Business Model

Which makes MySpace Music not only a fun way to play music online, but also part of an interesting (and profitable) business model.  By upgrading the music platform, MySpace is getting back to their roots and positioning themselves as more than just a social network. They are partnering with big name businesses (including record companies and potential competitors) and are a Mecca for targeted marketing.  

Since their advertising model is based on the number of visitors stumbling upon new pages, more users discovering new music could mean increased ad revenue for MySpace and better targeting opportunities for advertisers.  Having another option in legal online music downloads could also help he faltering music industry, which is why they signed on in the first place.

Even if you haven’t logged into MySpace in a while, I recommend checking it out and playing around a bit.  Let me know what you think.

For Further Reading:  

——————————————————————–

Life has been getting in the way of blogging lately, so Website Wednesday was postponed a bit this week.  It’s technically still Wednesday here, so I hope you’re not too disappointed!

Google Me

Last night I went out with some friends.  On our way back to the car, they spotted some people they knew so we stopped and talked for a while.

It was well after last call and I wasn’t really interested, so I kinda stood off to the side.  Naturally, some guy noticed this and decided it was a good time to talk to me.  I told him that I firmly believe that nothing good happens after midnight, but he wasn’t budging.

He told me he was a marketing professor at a local university.  I’m not inclined to believe anyone I meet outside a bar at 2 a.m. so I told him that I was also in marketing and did my best to drop all the buzzwords I could think of. His only response was: “Wow… you just got all professional and stuff” and said that maybe I could come talk to his class next semester.  Okay, whatever.  I still don’t believe him, but what the hell–it’s kinda fun to play along.   I think he could tell I was skeptical so he told me his full name and said:

“Google Me”

Not “Here’s my card”  or “Can I have your number?”  but “Google me.”   Which, of course, I did.  If I’d had an iPhone, I would’ve done it right there, but I had to wait until I got home.   And, believe it or not… he wasn’t lying.  He really is a visiting professor at the local university. He also got my friend’s number before he started talking to me, so he’s not Future Mr. Carich potential, but it made me think about how technology has changed the way we meet and interact with people*

For example:

  • I can’t tell you the last time I actually gave someone my number.  Long gone are the days of scouring the bar for a sharpie and a random piece of paper to give someone your digits.  Now you just put the person’s number in your phone.  Or, better yet, you call them from your phone so that you have their number AND they have yours.
     
  • Texting has introduced a whole new layer to the flirting/calling/dating continuum.  It used to be that if a guy liked you, he’d call the next day (or in 2 days or whatever that dumb rule is.) Now, it’s likely you’ll get a text first.  Texts are a LOT less anxiety-producing than phone calls.  Yeah, it’s best if you can come up with something witty and charming to say in 45 characters or less, but you don’t have to deal with awkward silences, or coming up with something to say.  You can also have extended back-and-forth conversations without having to drop everything else you’re doing.  
    Although texting is less scary than a phone call, it’s also less of a commitment.  You miss a lot of the nuances of someone’s voice when you’re texting. Plus it feels more casual, which makes it even more exciting once you move to actual calls.   As much as I dislike talking on the phone, there’s nothing quite like that first all-night phone conversation where you learn all kinds of tidbits about the person you’re interested in.
  • Technology has also made it easier to do some “research” on people before you decide to date them. In addition to the basic googling, you can check out someone’s facebook and mySpace pages. Where I live, you can also check out their criminal history and make sure they’re not a sex offender or a deadbeat dad (or mom–there are deadbeat moms.)
It’s just interesting to see how technology changes our daily lives without us even realizing it.  I’ve only had text messaging on my phone for a little over a year now and I can’t imagine not having it.  Technology has definitely made the social  world more transparent, but hopefully it’s not stripping away the “good” stuff!
————–
* I’m not even going to touch the subject of online dating. I realize it’s 2008, but the idea of “meeting” someone online still freaks me out.  I’m old-fashioned like that.

 

And I thought *I* was a meta-blogger

The guys over at Wired magazine are blogging about the creation of an upcoming article on screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), who is making his directorial debut with the movie Synecdoche, New York.

http://blog.wired.com/storyboard/

By “peeling back the curtain” on their own creative processes, the Wired guys are creating the ultimate meta-blog, culminating in the actual print story, scheduled to run in the November issue.  What a fascinating and mind-blowing concept and unique insight into the world of magazine production.

Or–at the very least– great promotion for both the issue and the movie.

My own personal Soup

I’m a big fan of The Soup on E!  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s Joel McHale, maybe it’s because I’m a pop culture junkie.  Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because the shit they talk about is usually the same (or similar) shit I think about on a daily basis.

I’ve always said that my ideal career is to be a travel writer, but now I’m thinking it would be a writer for The Soup.  I’ve also spent quite a bit of quality couch time this weekend, so I actually have some good material. If I were writing for the Soup this week, I would talk about:

Groomer Has It there’s a reality TV show on Animal Planet about dog groomers.  Yep, that’s right.  It’s like someone saw the success of competition-based reality shows and decided to pitch something to the Animal Planet. I can just imagine the pitch meeting now: “It’s like Project Runway meets Meerkat Manor.”  Crazy.  There were even people talking about “razor skills” and “scissor” skills… much like knife skills on Top Chef.  The contestants live in a DOG HOUSE and are competing to be on the cover of a professional grooming magazine.  To each their own, I guess.  I watched it twice.  Once for the WTF factor and another time because there was literally nothing but infomercials on at 3 am.

Those Charmin commercials– Okay, it’s bad enough that they’re playing on the whole “does a bear shit in the woods” controversy by featuring cartoon bears as their “spokespeople,” but the most recent batch of commercials deals with Charmin’s apparent superiority over other brands of toilet paper because it leaves fewer “pieces” behind.   Okay, I realize that this kind of thing happens.  But do we really need to hear about it in a commercial?  Did their market research tell them that the reason someone chooses Quilted Northern over Charmin has something to do with getting TP stuck to your ass???   If so, who was the marketing genius who decided that having a bear dust off his ass on TV is gonna make me want to buy something?  Seriously!