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December 2008, Week 2 Marketing Archives

Friday, December 12, 2008

Slow Economy Doesn't Stall Nintendo Wii Sales

Evidently, the sagging economy hasn't hurt Nintendo's top-selling console, as the Wii continues to fly off store shelves. With the exception of EA Sports,the video game industry continues to grow at a remarkable rate.

NPD Group reported that U.S. sales of video games grew 10% to $2.91 billion in November, while sales of video game consoles were also up 10%, to $1.21 billion. Game sales growth exceeded analysts expectations of 6% to 9%.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier told the Wall Street Journal

The industry is still on pace to achieve total year revenue of $22 billion in the U.S. The videogame industry continues to set a blistering pace.

Wii sold one million more consoles in Nov. 2008 compared to Nov. 2007 and the DS, Nintendo's portable console, sold 1.5 million last month, which was a record high, and Microsoft's Xbox 360 rose 8% from a year ago to 836,000.

Perhaps more families have decided to dump their money into in-home entrainment to save cash, or game marketers have discovered a model to be envied by the rest of the companies in retail electronic products, especially Dell.

Slow Economy Doesn't Stall Nintendo Wii Sales By Matt O'Hern at 04:36 PM
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Itunes Store Kills My Incentive for a Cable Upgrade

Cable and Dish networks dangle  HBO, and other premium movie channels to lure us into upgrading our plans, and the new lures are original series,such as  Entourage and Trueblood (which is returning for a second season.)Our appetite for original programming started in the late 90's and early 2000's with the Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Curb Your Enthusiasm. They're all critically acclaimed, but as more of hit series are placed for sale on the iTunes store, I have enough patience to wait for a series to appear online, (just as I don't mind the wait for the DVD release of hit movie).

For example, I'm a big fan of historical movies and political thrillers, and House of Saddam, which debuted this week, looks like another great mini-series. Instead of paying the additional fees each month, I'll wait to purchase it on iTunes, or  the DVD version.
While I was browsing through the HBO section of iTunes, I noticed that many fans of Entourage were upset about the delayed release of the latest season, which made me wonder, how does HBO decide which series to put on iTunes, and is there a standard timeline? I emailed those questions to HBO spokemsan Jeff Cusson, who said

As far as new or current programming, though there is not a standard timeline and it can vary from show to show, you can assume much of the product will be available in conjuction with the DVD release.

 

Chris Foresman, a contributing writer for ars technia, pointed out the potential savings if you opt to buy certain series on iTunes, rather than DVD.

You can get the entire Sex and the City oeuvre for about $200 on DVD. That's just a few bucks more than what you would pay via iTunes Store for each individual season. Sopranos, on the other hand, goes for about $520 on Amazon for all 28 discs of the entire six season run. The same show on iTunes, even with paying $2.99 per episode, will only cost $260.

 

 

My father is a good example of a somebody who would never watch 90% of the programs on HBO, but was interested in one particular series. He bought the entire 10-disc set of Band of Brothers on Amazon for just $32, just a few bucks more than he would pay in additional fees EACH MONTH for adding HBO and the movie networks package to his cable lineup. Band of Brothers  that has yet to make the transition to iTunes. It's an award-winning series about the European stage of World War 2, and the creators are developing another WW2 series, The Pacific,  which is slated to debut in 2010, (according to Cusson). No info is available on the DVD or iTunes release yet.

I wonder how much of an adverse impact iTunes and DVD have on cable and satellite networks.

Itunes Store Kills My Incentive for a Cable Upgrade By Matt O'Hern at 01:12 PM
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Auto Bailout Failure Sparks Alabama vs. Michigan Rivalry

alabama vs. michigan

Welcome to America's second civil war- a war of words between Alabama and Michigan, featuring Joe Babiasz vs. Richard Shelby in place of Ulysses S. Grant vs. Robert E. Lee

It started with the debate over the bailout of Detroit's Big 3 automakers-Ford,GM and Chrysler.

In response to Alabama Senator Richard Shelby's opposition to the proposed legislation, former GM worker Joe Babiasz's created the site boycottalabamanow.com. My post about Babiasz's site led to some of the most passionate comments I've read since our post regarding  Pepsi's downsize to the 8-pack.

The senate's recent 52-35 vote against the proposal should add to the tension between the two states. At this rate, the rivalry  could spread to  a  Midwest vs. the South conflict, and ultimately, the Big 10 versus the Southeastern Conference.(We know how much you love your college football)
 

I always enjoy a healthy and constructive debate, so tell us your thoughts about the latest developments and the potential impact. Remember, some of America's most important laws were a created as a result of civil discourse.

Auto Bailout Failure Sparks Alabama vs. Michigan Rivalry By Matt O'Hern at 10:30 AM
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

DatFood: One Pet Food Bag Feeds Both Dogs & Cats

As Matt noted earlier in posting about the frustration I encountered trying to purchase (and finally doing so) a new Herman Miller Embody chair online earlier this week, Herman Miller has launched a site dedicated to the Embody office chair product, the site is called ThoughtPile. Each week Herman Miller is giving away an Embody chair to the best idea of the week and today I submitted my idea. It probably sounds a bit ludicrous at first but I'd love to know what you guys think.

Question of the Day: How Can We Become Better Consumers?
My Answer: Become smarter producers!
DatFood: Why do we buy separate pet food for our cats and dogs? A formula that meets the nutritional needs of cats and dogs and saves the environment, money and time. "Is that dog or cat food?" "Neither, it's DatFood!"

Shannon and I (my better half) came up with the idea a couple of years ago because we were so frustrated with having to purchase two completely different kinds of food, getting a tiny bag for Wingnut (our orange tabby cat) and a huge bag for our dog (Zoe - a liver colored English Springer Spaniel) and then just have Wingnut eat Zoe's food when he would get hungry. Then we started ranting about how the entire pet food industry tells you that you must buy this super special food for your cat and yet a completely different one for your dog and it's all hogwash! I mean all of my animals have eaten cheap dry food since I was a toddler and none have died of malnourishment yet. So we said to ourselves, why not combine the two into a single product and... having a passion for combining old words to make catchy new ones, our minds started racing and we came up with the name... DatFood. I'll let you guys think about the environmental implications of it but there are a ton.

What do you guys think about DatFood?

DatFood: One Pet Food Bag Feeds Both Dogs & Cats By Jason Dowdell at 04:38 PM
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Riverbed Ad Eerily Similar to AT&T's Seamless World

Yesterday, I got an email from Riverbed Technologly that boasted its WAN (Wide Area Network) Optimization. Riverbed claimed it can:

  • Make file transfers up to 100x faster
  • Accelerate seamless data transfer
  • Increase productivity between remote offices and mobile workers


Do you remember those AT&T "Your seamless World" commercials? Wes Anderson directed swift the  ads that featured frequent background transitions as customers explained their need to reach family and friends in various destinations One ad featured a guy from Philadelphia, who was a college student in Delaware, with friends in Chicago, a brother in Prague. He said,

"I need a network that works where I live. A place called Phila-ware-prague-icago."

Here's the real kicker, AT&T's site allowed visitors to create a unique name's for the states and cities within their network. AT&T's own press release read:

Visitors can then purchase their own personalized "Your Seamless World" merchandise, such as T-shirts and bumper stickers. For example, New York, San Francisco and South Dakota may become "New Sanfrakota."
 

UPDATE:This could be a chicken or the egg debate. Patrick Godfrey,claims his agency ,Godfrey Q & Partners, created Riverbed's campaign in late 2006/early 2007 and launched it on behalf of Riverbed in April of '07.

The AT&T campaign first appeared in June of 2007 and according to the New York Times-Roy Elvovea spokesman for BBDO New York,The AT&T campaign, was first presented to the client in early April. ATT's first outdoor ads appeared on June 1, Elvovea added, which meant production had to begin well in advance of that date “and therefore in advance of the April 29 launch date for the Riverbed campaign.”

Until I see more specifics, neither side has sufficient evidence to claim that they conceptualized the city mashing campaign.

Riverbed Ad Eerily Similar to AT&T's Seamless World By Matt O'Hern at 03:50 PM
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MTV / Vodafone Search for Next Music Star

vodafone fastcast

American Idol's best days may be in the past, now that MTV and Vodafone have started a dynamic and interactive competition to find the next big music act,known as Fast-Track.

Vodafone and MTV took American Idol's concept and tweaked it,similar to how Hulu piggybacked on Youtube's premise and enhanced it with premium TV content.

What IS the key difference between American Idol and Fast Track?

Accessibility

For an entire month, any unsigned band or artist from 26 countries around the world can upload its best original track to the Vodafone Soundbites website and MTV's soundbites site.

Fast-Track's winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record a single and a professionally produced music video which will be aired on MTV and distributed through Vodafone Live.(Vodafone is the parent company of Verizon). Compare that to Ame rican Idol's selection process, where thousands of aspiring divas flock to cramped parking lots in large metropolitan areas across the U.S. Which one sounds outdated?

Ironically, Vodafone will utilize Myspace, the same social network American Idol used,to promote its contest. MTV is owned by Viacom, and Myspace is owned by Newscorp, the parent company of Fox

 

*Speaking of contests- Don't forget about our $50 Itunes giftcard prize giveaway for pics of houses with the crazy christmas decorations

MTV / Vodafone Search for Next Music Star By Matt O'Hern at 01:22 PM
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Local Radio Stations Promote Web Sites Via SMS/TXT Messaging

When mother nature unleashes her winter wrath across the northeast and the midwest, parents aren't flicking on the local TV station or turning on the radio,they're going to the local radio's website for updates on school closings. Just take a look at today's top 40 in Google Trends. This morning,eleven out of the top  37, are radio call numbers and most of them are in areas with snowfall.
google trends snow reportssnow closing texts
The top radio affiliate, WHUD, is 100.7 F.M. in Westchester New York, and it's offering text message alerts about school and government center closings after heavy snowfall. Perhaps these methods are a step in the right direction for reviving the free radio industry.Traffic text alerts have been available for years,but snow alerts appeal to one of the most highly sought markets-the coveted age demographic of pre-teens and teens.

Obviously, the text campaign in itself isn't enough to revitalize the slumping industry, but it could signify a foot in the door to a significant portion of a market that was severed by the ipod era.

Local Radio Stations Promote Web Sites Via SMS/TXT Messaging By Matt O'Hern at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Great Attendance Can't Save Arena Football League

afl logo

On the surface, the Arena Football League was hitting its peak during the past two sseasons, but the high volume of ticket sales didn't translate to high revenue. As a result, the cash-strapped league, which was founded in 1987, could be forced to delay or suspend the 2009 season,slated to start in March. Rumors about the league's financial woes have circulated since Monday. Today, the league addressed the rumors with a press release that stated:

Despite rumors and reports to the contrary, all AFL teams are continuing to work towards ArenaBowl XXIII. As it has previously stated, the AFL continues to work on long-term structural improvement options. Some of the options may impact the 2009 season. There is currently no timetable for an announcement of any kind. We remain grateful to our fans for their enthusiasm and patience.

New Orlean's team, the Vodoo, is a good example of the league's futility. It folded after leading the league for attendance for two straight seasons. Michael Young, Colorado Crush executive vice president, told the Denver Post that the business model for the league is broken.

If the rug is pulled out from under us, it's pulled out from under us.His skepticism is surprising, considering the AFL's broadcasting agreement with ESPN.

Obviously, the league's number crunchers have slipped up, because they've had plenty of local and national ESPN acquired national TV rights to the AFL in 2006 and has a minority stake in the indoor league. ESPN signed a five-year deal to have multimedia rights that included everything from Internet to radio to publishing to international distribution.
Fans love the arena league for the high scores, the big hits,fast pace and most of all, the cheap seats. Raising ticket prices could have a catastrophic results, so the league will need to use other efficient,cost-cutting methods.

Great Attendance Can't Save Arena Football League By Matt O'Hern at 05:11 PM
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iTunes Gift Card Prize Giveaway - Show Us Your Griswolds

For the next five days,you have the chance to win one of the five $50 marketingshift christmas treeApple iTunes gift cards we're giving away starting Monday, and a $100 VISA gift card for the grand prize on day 5!  Send us a picture of the house with the craziest (read as tackiest) amount of Christmas decorations, and each day, we'll choose a winner for the best house. Send your photos to matt@marketingshift.com. dome house You can think of it as a tribute to a great man, Clark W. Griswold.

This is an easy assignment, because every neighborhood has one of those families that goes overboard each year,and if the arrangement is crazy enough, the family earns the nickname: "the Griswolds."- in honor of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

As a Floridian, I'm subjected to some of the tackiest displays you could ever imagine, since it never snows and our average temp is in the 70s throughout December, we feel obligated to overcompensate with extravagant amounts of lights and decor.

Thanks to an email my friend Ben, from Indianapolis, I realized that this has become a nation-wide epidemicsanta helicopter

(For the record, there is a town in southern Indiana named Santa Claus)

Some trends I've noticed this year:

- One snow globe isn't enough.  Why have one when you can have 10?!  Remember when the inflatable snow globes debuted a few years ago? Now they're so common place, one is no longer adequate for the hard-core fan of the holiday season.
- Stationary inflatable characters are out, animated ones are in.santa chasing snowman

We don't want to see that fat old elf just sitting around, we want to see action. We want snowmen popping out of chimneys and Santa CHASING a snowman INSIDE the inflatable snowglobe, or Santa in a helicopter with rotating blades.

- Mixing colored and white lights is a rule, not the exception
When I was a growing up, it seemed like most houses stuck with one layout for the exterior lights- the white lights or the multi-color bulbs. Now our streets look like more like the Las Vegas Strip.

So get out there and start shooting. We want to see the Griswold's from your block.  Remember to email Matt directly with your photos attached.  Every day, we'll announce a daily $50 iTunes gift card winner and on Friday we'll announce the Grand Prize Winner of the $100 Visa Gift card.  The contest will begin Next Monday so that gives you plenty of time to start snapping some photos of the tackiest houses you see at night.

Basic Contest Rules

  • You must take the picture yourself, don't submit someone else's photo or steal a photo online.
  • Every submission must be in email format to Matt@MarketingShift.com and must include the following information:  Photo (no more than 5 images per email, location photo was taken, your first and last name and phone number)
  • Please describe why you think the decorations in your photo are worthy of the grand prize.
  • Users can submit as many entries as they want.

iTunes Gift Card Prize Giveaway - Show Us Your Griswolds By Matt O'Hern at 12:16 PM
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Boycott Alabama Website Could Backfire for Big 3 Automakers

alabama football babes

Ford,GM and Chrysler desperately want to sell you a car, no matter where you're from...unless it's "Sweet Home Alabama."

Joe Babiasz, a GM employee for 34 years, luanched the site,boycottalabamanow.com, which includes  "any travel into the state, or the purchase of anything that's produced within the state of Alabama.

You will not go to the state.  You won't vacation there.  You won't do any business there... won't purchase their cars.

Picking on an entire state in the middle of an economical and political negotiation won't do much to help the auto industry's already tainted image. The boycott reminds me of a little kid throwing a temper tantrum when the parents disagree.

Babiasz created the site in response to Senator Richard Shelby's stance against the proposed bailout for the auto industry. Babiasz may not realize it, but this boycott effort could have the reverse effect.

The boycott also comes across as hypocritical, because Babiasz's effort is damaging one state while trying to help another.  Babiasz's defense:

To those hard working people in Alabama, we apologize for the boycott and the loss of income and future employment from this boycott but please understand that it is within your power to elect a representative who has America’s best interest in mind.dreamland bbq

The funny thing is, Alabama is known for attracting foriegn automakers, such as Honda  and Mercedez, which are both non-union plants, and I don't see either of those companies facing bankruptcy.

P.S.- Joe, you need to take a trip to Tuscaloosa, eat some ribs from Dreamland BBQ, and admire the great scenery full of southern belles. "Roll Tide."

*Read our update about this Babiasz vs. Shelby battle.

Boycott Alabama Website Could Backfire for Big 3 Automakers By Matt O'Hern at 11:58 AM
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Geezeo's Main Street Spending Report: A New Market Gauge

Journalists are always digging for data, and I just found a nice new shovel, thanks to one of my old classmates from journalism school. She sent me a link to Geezeo's  consumer data report, which analyzes 800 businesses and 400 million transactions.

Geezeo devised a method to tap into the coveted goldmine of market data within every member of a social network. Stats are derived from Geezeo's network of users and deliverd in a monthly format, AKA the Main Street Spending Index Report. geezeo logoIf you're willing to submit your primary banking info, Geezeo will factor your purchases into its database. Of course, if you're a natural skeptic like me, you're probably wondering:

1. How can I trust them with my financial info?
2. How is the info transferred?

Your consumer data is passed through two filters- an Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Secure Shell (SSH.

SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser that ensures all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. It's s used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactionGeezeo uses SSL for all external connections, this includes when we are passing information back and forth between our users and CashEdge (a third party information data aggregation partner).

Secure Shell (SSH) is a secure way of transmitting data over TCP/IP networks from one computer to another. It utilizes strong encryption and authentication and is used by millions worldwide for secure system administration, secure file transfer, and secure application connectivity. Geezeo uses SSH for communications between the application and database servers.netflix consumer spending dataSo what's derived from your input?

(As well as everyone else in the network?)

The answer: Valuable, straightfoward data regarding leading corporations. Monthly transactions are recorded,analyzed and aggregated into a monthly report, such as the Dec. 3 post on Netflix, which revealed a dip in November. (Since it's subscription base, the dip must represent a drop in subscribers).

The culmination of reports from major retailers such as Best Buy, Kohls and other major companies  could function as useful gauge for a unique angle on the overall market

Geezeo's Main Street Spending Report: A New Market Gauge By Matt O'Hern at 04:58 PM
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User Generated Content Is Dead

Five years after Youtube exploded onto the scene, the video hosting site is still searching for a reliable monetization method and the future of online video content will be free TV, I.E. Hulu.

Arash Amel, head of Broadband Media at Screen Digest, co-hosted a webinar with Ooyala titled "The Economics of Free."ooyala logoOoyala and Amel both made some interesting points regarding the future of generated content  versus the outlook for premium TV content.
 

User-generated video accounts for majority of video consumed in the United States, but  what we're seeing is the bulk of revenues is coming from premium TV programming. By 2011, ad-funded free to view TV shows will account for 10 times more consumption than paid.By 2012, premium TV programming will have 10% more consumers than user-generated.
 

Youtube dominates in Europe, and despite the fact that Europe offers more choices and cheaper prices for broad band, monetization of online video on a free distribution model has proven to be difficult. Why is free premium TV video easier to monetize? A good illustration for the  found in the comparison between the U.S. and European Markets

Consider these figures: In the best case scenario, Free TV video can earn $.25 cents net per-view, while the UK's online video platform earns  $.7 cents per view at-best, and loses money at worst. Large-scale media companies  can leverage delivery costs and keep them low for significant net return, but regional broadcasters have made poor tech choices and poor advertising strategies. Amel believes those aforementioned obstacles, coupled with size and scale prevents large deals compared to large U.S. networks

"The U.S. has managed to build sustainable services based on leveraging brand and scale, but not everybody can leverage scale of U.S. media."

Conservative estimates show U.S revenues for free online video content should be just over $1billion by the end of 2008 and around 2.4 billion by 2012, forecast underestimate. As for the Big 3 in Europe (UK,France and Germany) are expected to have- $540 million by 2012.

Sean Knapp,co-founder of Ooyala, described the online viewing audience as "Segregated, disloyal and distracted". Those characteristics favor Hulu over Youtube. Youtube's coresite of 78.4 million users includes 22% of views off-site, but Hulu's audience includes 70% from affiliate sites and viral distribution. Hulu, which has contracts with Newscorp and NBC/Universal, has become the poster child for applying YouTube's concept for premium content.

Ooyala's new video platform, Backlot, was designed with free TV (ad supported) video in mind. Backlot features is a scalable video platform with detailed analytics, content syndication controls, advanced monetization features. Ooyala partners with Google and Hulu,  and it knows the value of premium TV content, that's why some of its notable customers include: Warner Brothers,National Geographic, IMG, and Sony.

User Generated Content Is Dead By Matt O'Hern at 03:35 PM
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Herman Miller Embody Chair: A Lesson in Brand inConsistency

herman miller logoConsistency is one of the keys to success in many areas of life, especially marketing and branding. For luxury furniture maker Herman Miller Inc., their brand is rooted in quality and convenience. The brand was built by founder D.J. Depree who named Herman Miller in honor of his father-in law (and because of the fact that the company was failing and Herman Miller had a good reputation in the business community of Michigan and this was D.J.'s last chance to save the company and kiss his dad's butt all with one fell swoop).

Herman Miller's newest product, the Embody, is an office chair made for techies (you know who you are, super skinny arms, scronny legs and you swallow your noacetol pills with a swift swig of Mountain Dew or a Starbucks frappucino). Well the Embody is made for you because you have no muscle tone, are too fidgety in your current office chair (likely a Herman Miller Aeron you bought on the cheap from a failed dotBomb startup off of eBay). Embody's comforting and stabilizing features were crafted to boost idea generation and improve efficiency by eliminating interruptions to your stream of thought.  Do you buy that line?  I'm not sure if I do.

Herman Miller describes the thorough creation process behind Embody:

Throughout the development of Embody, over 30 professionals contributed a range of expertise. Physicians and PhDs in the fields of biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics helped test hypotheses, review prototypes, and conduct studies that helped guide the development of the first health-positive chair.

Herman Miller successfully (we won't know how successful until Embody sales replace Aeron sales - give or take 10 years on that one) applied those concepts of convenience into its product, but not the purchasing process.  Embody has plenty of positive publicity on blogs and major reviews from sites such as CNN Money.  You can read review after review to learn about the chairs great features, but there's one main problem- you can't find a single place to buy it online! A store locator tool on Herman Miller's Embody subdomain site produces a list of vendors in your area, but none of them list Embody on their site.  In order to find out if any of them carry the chair, you'd have to pick up the phone and call each store yourself.  BTW, don't waste your time calling a local Herman Miller retailer because none of them have the chair in stock, on their web sites or even have the ability to place orders for the chair! Is that a joke or what?  Jason says...

I find it extremely frustrating that the chair has been reviewed by every A and B list gadget blogger online and Google is full of those reviews but not a single blogger answers the biggest question surrounding the chair, where can you buy one.  Much less where they actually procured their chair!
The sad irony about the ordeal is that the entire essence of the chair (and more importantly - it's marketing) is convenience to keep your thought process flowing, but you can't possibly maintain a single line of thought while attempting to order the Embody chair.  You only get one chance to make a first impression- Herman Miller left a lot to be desired from the my first interaction.

What's more inconvenient than jumping through all of the hoops of an automated ordering service over the phone?  Potential customers don't want to call, they want to order their product online, for the sake of convenience and for the sake of getting to the end of their stream of consciousness! (Sound familiar Herman baby?)

To find ordering information, Jason had to register on thoughtpile.org - (a site dedicated to the chair, a microsite if you will) then post a comment on thoughtpile, a forum where each user submits a question or idea,and each idea is voted on. Each week,a chair is awarded to the random,esoteric idea or question with the most votes, but Jason's question was pretty simple and straightforward:

"How the heck do we buy a Herman Miller Chair? "

Within 20 minutes, Herman Miller replied to his inquiry.

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your interest in Thoughtpile and the Embody chair. You can purchase an Embody chair at  wired.com/promo/wirestore

Regards,
Herman Miller Brand Marketing
----------
From: Jason Dowdell
Date: Mon, Dec 8, 2008 at 9:30 AM
To: Herman Miller Brand Marketing


catch the embody chairHi Mktg Dept ;)

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, that was quite remarkable.  I would like to know how long it will take, once I place my order, to receive my chair.  I'm about to enter my Amex info on the order form from the Wired Store but I'm hesitant to do so because it doesn't give me any info on shipping times. Can you please provide some information on how long I should expect to wait once I have placed my order?


Regards,
Jason

Herman Miller's response time to our post was impressive,but the 4 to 6-week wait for shipping was yet another disappointment.  For a company that boasts innovative ideas and revolutionary concepts, it's ironic that you have to call a vendor to place your order.

All that being said, guess what, Jason ordered an Embody chair!  Yes, even though he didn't know how long it would take before giving over his credit card information, he ordered the chair.  His reasoning was simple, the HumanScale he's sitting in is uncomfortable on his back and he didn't want to buy an icon of the dotCom Bust (the Aeron) and the Embody seemed like the perfect chair... all that being said, I highly doubt our idea will win us a free chair this week but it sure would be nice :)

Herman Miller Embody Chair: A Lesson in Brand inConsistency By Matt O'Hern at 10:30 AM
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Wal-Mart / iPhone Agreement = Historic Moment for Apple

wal-mart and apple

Getting your hands on an iPhone will be much easier when Wal-Mart ,(NYSE:WMT), the nation's largest retail store, starts selling Apple's hottest device at the end of this month.

The partnership should help Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)and AT&T (NYSE:ATT) take a giant step forward in the telecom race.

Wal-Mart's alliance comes only three months after Best Buy joined forces to start selling iPhones, and one month after the first Google' Android supported phone- T-Mobile's G1 phone-debuted the U.S. market.

Unfortunately, the partnership was too little, too late for  for 12,000 employees that will be laid off by AT&T . Symbolically, the Wal-Mart agreement marks a significant milestone in Apple's history, because the iPhone has followed the path of its predecessor-the iPod.

Due to popular demand, iPhone has transcended into the middle-class and lower-middle class.As a result, an item once considered a high-end luxury product, will be sold for a price comparable to most of its competitors. If Apple's other products would follow the same route, the company's stock may look more appealing in the midst of our economic slump.

Wal-Mart / iPhone Agreement = Historic Moment for Apple By Matt O'Hern at 02:35 PM
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Wrigley's Promo Drives NBA Fans To Track Stats

wrigley nba leaders of the pack

I'm not usually a sucker for the last second impulse buy in the grocery store checkout line, but Wrigley found a way to tap into my subconscious.The Doublemint pack caught my eye and I put it at the top of my pile.

I paid the cashier then grabbed a few pieces on the way to my car, but it wasn't until further inspection that I realized why I was drawn to Wrigley's new design. Its new package resembles the cases that trading cards are sold in, including the NBA trading cards that I bought by the bulk when I was in middle school.

The similarity isn't a coincidence, it's part of Wrigley's  NBA promo "Leaders of the Pack". 
In each pack, there's a player designated by a code, which you can enter at wrigleyhoops.com., where stats are kept on leading points, rebounds and other categories. Your goal is to build a team of all-stars, because at end of the regular season, Wrigley will choose a winner to send to the NBA finals.Of course,the process of compiling your own version "Dream Team"  will require you to buy more packs. (Sound familiar?)

Ultimately, the incentive is different than my failed "long-term investment plan" that led me to rip open packs in pursuit of the hottest Shaq or Jordan card on the market.Times have changed. Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have replaced Jordan and Shaq, and today's youth want an easier way to track their favorite players compared to what we used in the 80s and 90s. (daily box scores and price guides in Beckett magazine.) The NBA and Wrigley want to spark fan interest in star players, similar to the model of success set by fantasy football.

The only notable flaw I see in the promo is its age limit. You must be 13 or older to participate, and that leaves out a significant chunk of young collectors. I must admit, my days as a collector ended around age 13.  In fact, once I was done with my new pack of Wrigley, I didn't bother with registering my code online. Next time I' finish a pack, I might just pass it down to my 14-year old nephew, who just started his first season playing the sport.

Wrigley's Promo Drives NBA Fans To Track Stats By Matt O'Hern at 12:10 PM
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Online Ads = A Silver Lining in Dark Economic Clouds

biggest loser club

As the New York Times and Chicago Tribune continue to bail water from their sinking ships, the outlook for print media continues to plummet, but TV and online media should weather the storm.

Today, - Zenith Optimedia and WPP's agency -GroupM - will offer detailed accounts of their ad revenue forecasts at  at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. Online spending won't grow as much as the past year, it is still expected to increase up to 5%. Magazine,Newspaper and Radio ads, on the other hand, should continue to nosedive.

An article in today's Wall Street Journal included some figures which don't offer much comfort for anyone in print or radio. ZenithOptimedia  expects a 6.2% drop in 2009 to $161.8 billion. GroupM's prediction is slightly more optimistic.It projects a decline of 3% to $157 billion. There is a silver lining in clouds.

 

GroupM predicts that retailers will be under pressure following the critical holiday sales season. It says that while it has yet to see wholesale cancellations among its clients, advertisers are now watching every penny.Spending cuts probably will be most severe for newspapers, magazines and radio as advertisers shift dollars to digital media.

To summarize the forecasts,  online ads are winning the skinniest kid at fat camp award, simply because they're not falling into the dark abyss awaiting print and radio. Just look at Twitter's situation. They targeted growth over profitability, and CEO Evan Williams is a year ahead of schedule, for all the wrong reasons.

Williams admitted that he put plans to raise capital on tap for Mid 2009 and revenue concerns to 2010, but now they've been forced to rearrange their priorities. In hindsight, Facebook's $500 million offer probably looks like a much better deal than it did on Oct. 16. According to the New York Times,Twitter is planning to charge businesses who use Twitter for customer relations,such as Jetblue,Dell and Whole Foods.

Online Ads = A Silver Lining in Dark Economic Clouds By Matt O'Hern at 09:46 AM
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