Tuesday, October 8, 2013

marketing isn't a real thing, is it?

Dilbert by Scott Adams









My favorite panel, from any comic strip, ever, has to be this one. I love "Marketing isn't a real thing, is it?" "It's mostly guessing." Haha, that Dilbert, he gets me every time.

Of course, if you're reading this and you're a marketer yourself, you know that marketing is anything BUT guessing.

Marketing is actually a very precise science - something that only seasoned marketers - those who have failed and those who have triumphed - can truly understand.

Think back to your 5th grade science fair. What were you asked to do? First: Identify a problem. Then form a hypothesis. Next, design and perform an experiment(s). Then, collect and analyze the data. Lastly, formulate your conclusions about your hypothesis.

And class, what do we call that?
The Scientific Method

The S-C-I-E-N-T-I-F-I-C M-E-T-H-O-D.

Good job, class.

Marketing is science. Your client is your teacher, he/she brings you a problem, "Hey Kathy, we have these really great thingamajigs that nobody knows about, how can we increase our sales?"

"Hmmm," you say to yourself, "nobody knows about them, you say?" You do some more thinking and then it hits you, "I bet if we tell people about your thingamajigs, they'll know about them, and they'll buy them." There's your hypothesis.

So then you do your research and discover that the guy down the street from your client also sells thingamajigs. But your client's thingamajigs are 20% cheaper, come in 50% more colors, and your client has the ability to ship them directly to their buyers. These are your major points of difference (sometimes called your value proposition) and will later help inform your messaging strategy.

You also discover that your client's competition only promotes their thingamajigs with flyers and directory listings. So you design a marketing plan that also incorporates flyers and directory listings, PLUS e-mail marketing, a CPC campaign and social media. You design your communications strategy around several trackable entities including a rewards program, coupon redemption program and a referral program (all underscoring your client's value proposition). And you spread each of these programs across the various outreach methods - equally.

Using a tool like Intelliclick or MailChimp or even Constant Contact you can easily track the number of email opens, forwards, and even navigation to your client's website. Every time a digital coupon is redeemed on your website, or someone signs up for your referral service, this information is collected too. You make a simple separate spreadsheet to track how many paper flyers make their way into your client's store.

At the end of a month you compare and analyze the data to find out what offerings and what delivery methods were most effective. On top of selling 245 thingamajigs in just one month - your client's highest ever sales number for a single month - you conclude that not only did "telling people about the thingamajigs" prove to be a correct hypothesis, but that the most effective way to sell to people was using a digital coupon on social media, which also earned your client referrals outside of the referral program that rewards your client's customers when they tell a friend about your client's thingamajigs. Which is great, because  social media is so much cheaper than a CPC campaign, so you advise your client to scale back on the paid-for media opportunities as you go back to the drawing board to create a new hypothesis about how you can increase your client's sales and begin designing a new experiment around socially shared pop-up store events in your client's densest populated target market area.

A mad scientist like me.
In my 10+ years of experience, rising from a executive temp at a PR agency to having run my own consultancy, to directing major national brand campaigns for companies like Toyota, and even working one-on-one with celebrities like Tim Robbins and Daryl Hannah, I've learned a great deal about manipulating the formula that creates brand buzz. And because no two brands are alike, no two formulas are alike. Sometimes it takes a mad brand scientist to really elevate a brand to its full potential - someone with a keen insight, a different way of looking at this mad, mad, mad world, and with natural-born leadership skills.

Sometimes when you're looking for a marketing manager, what you should really be looking for is a mad brand scientist. You should be looking for someone like me.




Saturday, September 28, 2013

the sexiest new men's magazine to never exist

I invite you to hop a ride in my way back machine so we can look at an awesome idea that almost happened, but then didn't. And probably won't ever. The month was October. The year: 2009...the same year the bottom fell out of the economy.

Ever hear the one about the butter face? the wha?You know, the woman with those long legs, that swanky walk, sumptuous thighs, an ass that just wouldn't quit, tits out to here, a tight little middle that you just wanted to bounce strawberries off of all day...yeah? yeah?


BUT HER FACE...ugh.
Butter Face Magazine
I was prepared with original artwork (see above left), article samples and feature topics - an entire editorial calendar actually - plus a business plan, budgeting and even first year revenue projections. Other than the model who I paraded out with a bag over her head (thank you to the LOVELY Christy Clark) the cover photo was the only thing they allowed me to present. I had even shot a man-on-the-street video segment in which total strangers confirmed that "yes, I'd buy a magazine featuring headless hot bodies and great articles." But that wasn't allowed either - in fact they cut me off without allowing me to finish my pitch.
Helllooo Nurse!
BFM 6-Month Start-Up Budget
Sure, in 2009 when we did our research, 279 Magazines shuttered in the first half of the year (according to Folio). Of the 279 that folded, main category culprits include regional interest magazines, which took a dive and saw 27 titles fold, like Denver Living and Florida InsideOut. Other categories on the decline include construction, lifestyle and business with 18, 14 and 10 folded titles, respectively.


So, with inspiration from a couple of friends, I invented BFM - Butter Face Magazine. Because you're not looking at her face anyway...It was a good enough idea to get on this totally lame game show called "The Bank of Hollywood" executively produced by Ryan Seacrest.

Of course I didn't get the start-up capital I was looking for (obviously, otherwise I'd be a billionaire right now instead of looking for a job). Nope, the shortsighted judges, made up from some jerk-off modeling agent, a former pussy cat doll, a former Spelling and some other D-lister, gave $50K to a generic African-American family who wanted to start a series of workout DVDs. Oh boy, now there's an original idea. Funny...I haven't seen them on any informercials. [read show synopsis here].


I was dismissed like some insensitive bitch who hated women. Sean Patterson of Willemina Models, who had just finished lambasting me for passing judgement on what is considered "beauty," even called me ugly [read the entire transcript of the show here]. Which I laughed at....since his chief job as a talent agent is to reject literally hundreds of beautiful women.

My magazine would gladly pick up his cast-outs. And this was where I was headed. Look at how much money magazines like Maxim, FHM, Sports Illustrated, Playboy and others probably spend on notable faces. And look at how much money they rake in from advertisers.

I say: there's hundreds of thousands of beautiful bodies out there, why spend money on their faces. I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out. At the time, I could count on both hands and both feet how many of my girlfriends were trying to break into modeling and acting and were hard pressed to put together enough gigs to just pay rent.

If I look back at my budget sheet, we were going to pay $125 to each model for a half day. That's more than they'd make waitressing in an 8-hour shift at the Daily Grill, I assure you. And maybe the models were gorgeous in the face, and maybe they're weren't - it wouldn't matter because you wouldn't see their faces. It had nothing to do with beauty at all - it had to do with mystery.

We came up with a "in every issue" column idea called "Hellllooooo Nurse!" One of my friends, who helped inspire the magazine, was studying for her RN license at the time and always had great stories to share from the ER. In the sample column we had prepared for the show, "Nurse Emily", had chose to write about "Condoms: For the prevention of Baby-Mommas."

And, in keeping with the theme of practical anonymity, our feature material was going to focus on practically unknown millionaires - not NBA All-stars, or professional race car drivers, or stock market tycoons, or even the guy who invented sex toys - I'm talking real millionaires who have only slightly above average lives, but chose interesting career paths that made them rich. These are the kinds of guys we figured our readers could realistically aspire to be.

We did the research - from man-on-the-street surveys, to brand spying, to market trend analysis.

We had even picked out top potential advertisers to go after: Unilever, the parent company to AXE body spray and deodorant; Church & Dwight, the parent company of Trojan condoms, Arm & Hammer personal care products, and Nair for Men (who knew they had a men’s line); SSL International PLC, the parent company of Durex condoms and Dr. Scholl’s; Proctor & Gamble, parent company of Gillette razors, other men’s products and various pharmaceuticals; and SAB Miller & Molson Coors.

We let the following three logical assumptions guide us: 


Logical Assumption #1: A beautiful female body can sell any product to any male; a beautiful woman’s face may not.

Logical Assumption #2: If men were interested in women’s faces, what they thought, or how they felt, they’d read Cosmo, not flip the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, Hustler or Maxim.



A bright spot, if there is one, is that after the print editions folded, 43 titles continued to live on the Web.

Heck, at the time, we hadn't yet considered launching ButterFace.com (although I did buy the domain...and then let it expire). Someone else has scooped it up since. Probably Sean Patterson of Willemina Models. 

That's okay Sean, you can have it. I filed a copyright on the concept after the show aired. After all, I had all the collateral, budgeting, and content already written; and the idea was officially publicized as mine the minute the show aired. The first person who launches BFM or anything like it will owe me some CA$H MONEY. So, if you're reading this, and you own ButterFace.com, hire me now, and skip the legal drama. 


 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Is nobody talking about the new milk radio spots???

Have you heard the new radio spots for the got milk campaign?

OMG. They blew me away. They're a brilliant extension of the long running "Got Milk?" campaign created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners. These advertisers have really done a great job keeping the campaign simple and smart at the same time.

I conducted several internet searches to see if I could find you an audio clip but haven't been successful - and thus I can't tell you what they say verbatim - but there are at least two of them and they go a little something like this:

Radio Spot 1 (in a breathy kind of woman's voice, almost like your subconscious talking to you):
Do you have milk in the fridge? Are you suuuure? You had milk last night with dinner, did you drink all the milk? Did your son have enough milk for his breakfast? Maybe you should stop at the store and pick up some milk....


Radio Spot 2 (a very manly man's voice, handsome sounding):
Is there milk in the fridge? Or should you stop on your way home from work and pick up some more milk? There was milk in the fridge last night, but maybe your wife drank it. Ha, she would do something like that, just because she knows how much you like your milk and how that would really piss you off....

Like I said, I don't know verbatim what they said, but they are both very creative and very creepy :30 spots without any other sound effects or music. For :30 seconds it's just you, the voice, and the rush of traffic (if you're driving, as I was) and a growing anxiety within you that you may be out of milk and you should probably stop at the store and pick up another quart just in case. Very effective. 

The time slots the media buyer chose to run these in were also carefully chosen. I heard the woman's voice spot at about 5:15PM on a local country station as I was headed home from work. I heard the man's voice version at around 10AM, also, on a local country station.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "yeah, I get the 5:15PM spot, but what gives with the 10AM spot?" Aha! If you're a stay-at-home mom, chances are you're doing your meal planning on a Sunday night, and doing your hopping mid morning. So let's say you're headed to the store around 10 am and the radio spot comes on - bam - they've got you. You've already left your house, there's no going back, now you gotta get milk while you're out. And maybe you don't hear it yourself, but your husband does, because he's driving downtown for a meeting at about that time. You betcha that stay-at-home mom is getting a text on her phone at about the same time from hubby saying "hey babe, can you pick up some milk, I think we're out...of and how about brownies for dessert?" (ok, well, that's what MY husband would text me anyway. He's a huge chocolate fan.)

So anyways, not a big post. No revolutionary insights here - just wanted you to listen for this rad new milk campaign. Leave a comment if you have more information or links about it.

And if you're reading this on your smart phone away from home, you might want to pick up some milk on your way back. I think the ounce or two of milk stagnating in your jug is sour...in fact, you know it is...that's why it's been sitting there for a week...why you've taken the milk out and sniffed it twice but put the milk back into the fridge. Don't brownies sound good right now too? Pick up some milk and some brownies from the bakery. Mmmmm, ice cold milk.

ADDENDUM: Shortly after posting this I realized the radio spots are part of the "dream" campaign. I guess I had forgot that part of the dialogue. Indeed, I now recall the woman's voice saying "are you dreaming?" Read more about it by clicking here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Free Marketing/PR Idea #1: Sponsor a Mutt-run Iditarod Team

Pound puppies. I love them. I have two of them (had two of them).

Dutch
Wolfe

Dutch we had to put down last September at 13 years of age when it was discovered he had significant spinal deterioration and an infection that had immobilized him requiring a surgery that he would likely not recover fully from.

Wolfe is still with us and he's five.
He'll be my son's first best friend.

There have been several
celebrities over the years that have done their part to make pets a priority and champion spaying and neutering your animals or rescuing dogs from shelters. But with between 6 - 8 million dogs and cats entering shelters EACH YEAR there is certainly more work that needs to be done to educate people about the value of an animal's life and what great pets sheltered animals make.

And While Sarah McLaughlan's tear-jerking pleas to "join the SPCA with a monthly gift of $18 a month" certainly seem effective, I just wonder if someone could be doing more to benefit shelters nationwide while getting some really awesome exposure for their brand which maybe already aligns itself with preventing animal cruelty or pet adoptions.

Sarah McLachlan
Bob Barker
So I propose Free Marketing/PR Idea #1: Sponsor a Mutt-run Iditarod Team.

"Why the Iditarod?" you ask...well...

Because the Iditarod is the world's foremost sled race showcasing the best-of-the-best sled dogs.

From the official Iditarod Web site:

"From Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast, each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher cover over *1,049 miles in 10 to 17 days. 

It has been called the “Last Great Race on Earth®” and it has won worldwide acclaim and interest. German, Spanish, British, Japanese and American film crews have covered the event. Journalists from outdoor magazines, adventure magazines, newspapers and wire services flock to Anchorage and Nome to record the excitement. It’s not just a dog sled race, it’s a race in which unique men and woman compete. Mushers enter from all walks of life. Fishermen, lawyers, doctors, miners, artists, natives, Canadians, Swiss, French and others; men and women each with their own story, each with their own reasons for going the distance. It’s a race organized and run primarily by volunteers, thousands of volunteers, men and women, students and village residents. They man headquarters at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome and Wasilla. They fly volunteers, veterinarians, dog food and supplies. They act as checkers, coordinators, and family supporters of each musher."

As the Web site says - it's a unique challenge that showcases (extra) ordinary people from all walks of life and has an international journalistic appeal which would be great exposure for any brand.

People have a misconception that shelter dogs are somehow damaged, not smart, untrainable, used up, etc. And it's simply not true. You can train a shelter dog the same basic obedience and, so much more, as you can a purebred dog. My brother, in fact, trained his rescued Weimaraner-Lab mix to be a gun dog. Read his story here.

So here's my idea: you get a couple of well-known dog trainers paired up with a couple of semi-pro mushers who've run an Iditarod or two and you convince them to each take on a team of totally untrained mixed breeds from various shelters and groom them to be mushers over the next year and then run them in the Iditarod. Get Sarah Palin involved, get Joe Runyan onboard, and Sebastaian Schnuelle too. Pay for the training with money donated by food partner sponsors: Nutrish and Milkbone. Equipment and harnessing by Adanac, Ultra Paws or Alpine.

I can just see it now - all eyes will be on the shelter dog sled teams - a real underdog story - they'd be like the Bad News Bears of mushing.

It would draw HUGE international media attention, and whether or not any of the rag-tag teams won, getting a camera crew to document their journey from the shelter to the sled trail, would show the world how capable shelter dogs are of any task you put them to. I see a movie, a children's book deal, celebrity pet meet-n-greets, and a mad dash to shelters everywhere to adopt.

Create a website to promote the teams and to allow people to follow the pups' progress via video, twitter and facebook posts. Set up a shopping cart to sell merchandise like T-shirts, hats, dog scarfs and blankets from your favorite underdog team. Take donations. Let proceeds benefit shelters in the cities that the sled dogs come from as well as the SPCA and other national organizations.

This image appeared in a 2007 edition of The Onion newspaper (which features fictional stories) with the headline "Westminster Dog Show Finalists Form Elite Iditarod Team". 
The above image, while fictional, and featuring best-in-class purebred dogs, like what you'd see in the Westminster Dog Show, is not far off from my vision. Substitute the purebreds with mixed mutts from the Shepherd and Staffordshire bloodlines, Terriers and Poodles, Hound-Retriever mixes - heck, I'd love to see an entire team of corgis pull a sled. Those tiny little legs just waddling a mile a minute.

And I know the elements on the sled trail are harsh. I know not all dogs are bred for snowy climates. So maybe a couple of the teams are chosen as ambassadors and run just the first 5 miles.

I don't think anything like this has been attempted and I'd love to see someone give it a-go. If you're reading this, and you agree with my vision, hire me! I'll be happy to run the campaign...or the dogs...or both.

Addendum: Shortly after posting this I thought to myself...hmmm...I wonder if the reason something like this has never been done has anything to do with the fact that organizations like the SPCA don't support the event, maybe they think it's cruelty to animals. So I looked it up. And sure enough, several animal rights activists groups are against the event (not necessarily the sport). But I guess you gotta pick a side of the fence to be on, and I'm on the side of the sled dogs. I know there are casualties every year, and that's tough.  But I don't personally see sled dogging as a cruel life. Looks pretty awesome to me. Every sport has its dopers and its assholes. Look at Lance Armstrong, A. Rod, and Rashard Lewis. We can't let them be the rule, they're the exception. So I'm gonna stand behind my idea and bet that the national exposure brought by such a stunt would encourage more pet adoptions than any other celebrity-driven infomercial donation campaign. I'll let Sarah continue to help collect money for the SPCA $18-a-person-a-month one person at a time.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ugly people should...

I left that title open-ended so you could fill in the blank ala Anthony Jeselnik's "Search & Destroy" sketch. It's a hilariously funny comedy bit in absolutely horrendous taste. If you don't watch the show...hmmm...you should. It's mediocrely funny in the way that Tosh.0 has suddenly become UN-funny.

But the title also refers to my previous day's post "beautiful people are better than you."

So let's talk ugly - and not just people. Did you hear? The ugliest animal on earth award goes to the Blobfish. It was announced by the Ugly Animal Society on national news outlets over the weekend.

Now, THAT, is amazing publicity. Who knew an Ugly Animal Society even existed.

To quote CNN: "goofy humans that we are, we tend to equate (what we consider) beauty with importance in the ecological scheme of things.

In fact, nature's many repugnant, repulsive -- or just very small -- denizens can be just as important for the environment's health."

Seeeee.....UGLY is important...while beauty is merely haughtily wanted, needed and desired.

You gotta love this British group, I mean, who couldn't love a bunch of kids dedicated "to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature's more aesthetically challenged children." Someone has to be their champion, right? Check out this interview.

But there is other kinds of ugly in the world.

Here's a list of the Top 5 Things I Find Ugly:

Kathy's "Top 5 Ugly Things"
5.) Toyota Prius
4.) Lady Gaga-inspired platform heels
3.) Kelly Cotrone. Coutrone. Cutrone. I don't even give a fuck how you spell it - that's how ugly this thing is - it's not worth looking up. 
2.) Bad Behavior (see also: Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, that trashy girl from MTV's "16 and Pregnant" who made a sex tape video, etc.)
1.) Animal Cruelty

Ok, let's talk about the Toyota Prius. Now, interestingly enough, I represented this ugly little hybrid in 2006 as the PR manager for the "Red Carpet, Green Cars" campaign in which we chauffeured top celebrities to and from awards shows in order to garner more press coverage than any other year that this campaign ran. The celebrities' preference for arriving by hybrid was supposed to underscore their commitment to an eco lifestyle. Great on gas mileage it might be, but it's still an ugly little car - and an expensive one at that.

Shoes. What happened to sensible style? I'll tell you - it went out the window the same day the pop-rock music world let Lady Gaga slither through it. Now, I have no problem with Lady Gaga herself. Go on with your bad self, girl. Just STOP wearing ugly shoes - PLEASE. Because I am not terribly fashionable, I stick to a classic look: tailored jeans and pants with silk blouses and 4" pumps with modest pointed toes. I am a huge fan of Dolce&Gabbana, ALDO, Guess, Carlos Santana, Jessica Simpson, BCBG, and a couple others. I have closets full of 4" pointed toe pumps in leather, snakeskin, print fabric, metallic, you-name-it. And it's a good thing I stock pile them because ever since Gaga arrived, I've been hard-pressed to find anything without a 2" platform, rounded toe and thick heel. UGLY. Thankfully there are signs that Gagga's novelty is finally fading out...I see the shelves have started to stock the good stuff again. In fact I just bought a new pair of pumps at ALDO the other day. The Kaziks are pretty dope.

Kelly Coutrone - self proclaimed "goth" and fashion PR maven...and by all accounts an ugly person. And I'm not talking about her unmade ashen face, or her drab black clothing; I'm talking about her ugly personality that darkens the very doorways she sulks through on America's Next Top Model. I can appreciate no-nonsense criticism as much as the next person, and granted, her job is not to coddle these naive modeling nymphs, but Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick, stop being such a bully. In the first episode of ANTM 2.0 "Guys vs. Girls"one of the top model hopefuls makes a very innocent comment to Kelly asking her if she was really as mean as she looks on the show and Kelly loses her mind and condemns her for being a very rude girl and continues to belittle her and correct her in her snottiest voice. I just can't believe she's a professional PR person. Neither can Wet Paint or thousands of facebookers who love to hate her.

Bad Behavior. Enough said. You people are disgusting.

Animal Cruelty. Have you seen the latest scandal to make it's way around the social mediasphere? Wal*Mart (and other retailers) just pulled a toy dead dog/roadkill (that I'm assuming it was carrying as part of their Halloween props and decor merchandise). The "toy" featured what looked like a skinned and bloody dog tethered by a chain and with a tire track running through the middle of it. I love scary gory movies. I love Halloween. I love haunted houses and costumes. I do not love animal cruelty or anything that hints at it. What was Wal*Mart thinking? What was the sculptor thinking who molded this awful prop? This thing was ugly all the way around. The most beautiful part was the product being taken out of production altogether.

So go out there marketers, branders, PR pros and make ugly things beautiful in the way only you can do.

* * * * SPOILER ALERT * * * * 

In case you didn't do it yet...if you type "ugly people should" into your google search browser, your top 3 returns are:

"...should die"
"...shouldn't breed"
"...shouldn't have kids"

I blame the beautiful people for making these the top three search returns. Damn beautiful people, why you gotta be so ugly?


Monday, September 16, 2013

beautiful people are better than you

The "ugliest woman in the world," Lizzie Velasquez.
One People's "most beautiful women in the world," Scarlett Johansson.
It's often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder..." but that's kind of a lie. Some people are definitely more beautiful than others. Some flowers are definitely more beautiful than others. Some buildings, even, are definitely more beautiful than others. Why? Because of symmetry my dear Watson, symmetry. We are pre-programmed to accept perfect symmetry as beautiful - whether we're conscious of it or not.

Throughout our entire lives we will obsess about beautiful things. We want beautiful things. We need beautiful things. People, cars, clothes, homes, etc. Beautiful people are used to sell the beautiful things we obsess about.

It's a disturbing admonishment, I'll admit. What's even more disturbing is how we down play our obsession with beauty. We even try to turn ugly things into beautiful things by marketing them as a reinvention of beauty or as new and "different" beautiful things.

My son, H.W.
So where do we get this obsession with beautiful stuff? I'm not exactly sure but even my six month old son is obsessed with beautiful things.

And today I noticed something very interesting.  My son, pictured at left, is a beautiful kid. I'm not just a biased parent either. Everyone tells me this. Strangers at the grocery store, the mall, out on a stroll, his pediatrician, and his agent - yes his agent - all exclaim the same thing, "omg what a Gerber baby!" They comment on his eyes, his smile, his chubby little thighs and they even ask to touch him.

Neighbors joke that his first words are going to be "you're so fucking cute" because it is the most iterated phrase in a six-block radius.

But last week H.W. got a DOCband - or a helmet - to correct some severe head molding that occurred in utero. Despite strangers' insistence that his head looks "fine" and that he's "the cutest baby in the world," his slightly mis-shappen head really bothers me and I am embarrassingly obsessed with perfection so we got him a device to make him more beautiful.
H.W. with DOCband

He'll have to wear this band for 23 hours a day for probably the next three months. And since putting it on, I've noticed a significant drop off in attention. Just today, on a stroll to my neighborhood Starbucks, I passed at least 5 strangers on the street, and another dozen or so in the cafe itself. Normally they'd have looked at my darling baby and gushed all over him. But this time, with his helmet on, not a single person looked. Well, they tried not to look, but I noticed sideways glances stolen from the corners of their eyes as they passed.

It didn't bother me, but I thought it was funny. I thought it was funny in the same way I've noticed my own son discriminate against less attractive people when we're out in public.

Flying to Reno last month H.W. showed a clear preference for the pretty long-haired brunette airline stewardess; while the obese woman, with oily hair sitting a couple rows behind us, and trying to engage him in a game of peek-a-boo, just made him turn his head.

My hope for the DOCband is that it will shape my son's head and lessen the severity of the somewhat sharp "corner" the top right part of his skull still has from birth. I see it as my obligation as a parent to give my son every advantage possible in life.

Having a weird-shaped head can't be good for your career (unless you're hoping to have a career as a character actor in scary movies) or your dating life and it sure won't help him book modeling jobs. Nope, pretty people have it easier, that's for sure. 

But are beautiful people actually better people? I doubt it. Although advertising wants you to think that they are. If you look at advertising, beautiful people are smarter, they're better housewives, better pet owners, better drivers, and better cooks. They have better jobs than you. Better homes, better cars, better clothes and take better vacations.

And that's why we want to be them. Because beautiful people are better than us.

When was the last time you saw the image of the "ugliest woman in the world" trying selling perfume? Don't know? How about the last time you saw an image of Scarlett Johansson trying to sell you perfume? She is currently the Dolce & Gabbana "The One Desire" fragrance.

So whether that's true or not, don't take beauty for granted. If it weren't for beauty, we would have no reason to want to better ourselves. Heck, if it weren't for beauty, half of us woudn't have jobs. The next time you see a beautiful person don't hate them because they're beautiful, take time to appreciate all their beauty has done for you. After all, to quote Jewel, "she is pieces of you."


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

go ahead, ask me what day it it...

HAPPY HUMP DAY! 

 

Before getting laid off, and over a couple of pints with co-workers, I had threatened to come into work on my last hump day dressed like a camel. Alas, my employers made my last day of work a Tuesday. 

GEICO's new campaign "Get Happy, Get GEICO" has been running now since last year when they rolled out with Gallagher at the supermarket smashing fruit. According to GEICO's wikipedia site there are now 12 of these campaign spots running. By far my favorite has to be the Hump Day Camel. 

GEICO does an amazing job of running multiple campaigns at the same time without ever obscuring their message or value propositions. You've got the GEICO Gecko, the "Get Happy" commercials, Maxwell the Pig, and the Cavemen. Not all brands do this so successfully. And honestly, I bet if I polled 1,000 people today, more than 75% of them have at least called GEICO if not actually switched. I called GEICO back in 2007 during their relatively uncreative "15 minutes could save you 15%" campaign. In the end, they couldn't save me 15%...they couldn't even save me 1%. I was better off with the agency I had. 

Another favorite insurance seller's campaigns I am fond of are the AllState "Mayhem" spots. But, I must admit, I just had to google "Mayhem + insurance + commercial" in order to remember what insurer ran those ads. AllState runs another campaign alongside these, it's the one featuring that black guy with the deep voice as part of their "Connected" campaign. The two campaigns are running at the same time and they're anything but connected. And the brand isn't identifiable through either of them. 

Unlike GEICO, AllState doesn't stick to a singular message, they keep coming up with cute gimmicks, but they seem to be trying on several identities, too, which creates inconsistency, and that's where the brand identity gets lost. 


Then there's that spot with the big offish looking guy who is supposedly a French Model (bonjour).

I had to look this campaign up too - turns out it's for State Farm - as part of their "State of Disbelief" campaign.

I also like several of the Famers commercials that make up their "Smarter" campaign.


And how can you forget their jingle - We Are Farmers! Bum Ba-Dum Bum Bum Bum Bum - this saves them from obscurity. If it wasn't for that jingle, I would have had to google them too.  But between All State, State Farm and Farmers I get confused. So while they're making great commercials, they're not doing as good of a job branding them.

Another insurer, Progressive, does a great job branding. Anytime I see Flo I think Progressive. You could show me a blank box in white blue and orange and ask me what product I associated it with and I'd say Progressive. Do I like their commercials? Eh. I think they've grown pretty tired now. Maybe they should try sticking Flo in another roll (not as Flo) but as someone else. Her face is very identifiable with the brand. And they should keep the color branding. They just need a whole new direction. It's no longer feeling very "progressive" to me.


"So what?" you're probably saying right now...the what is: because of the number of channels now capable of delivering us marketing messages, consistency and repetition are key in branding your image into the conscious minds of your target audience. Look at all the ways you're exposed to media messages on a daily basis: TV commercials, radio commercials, billboards, print magazines, newspapers, in-app ads, email, text mssg,  movie theatre previews, social media, etc.

Public Relations pros used to tell their clients it takes the "power of 3" to make an impression in your customer's mind. Meaning  your customer must see or hear your message at least three time before remembering it. Then that number ticked up to 7, then 12, then 24...I'm not even sure how many impressions a brand must now make before it's consciously registered with its target audience. But it's a fuck ton.

I don't know anyone who has a fuck ton of money right now. So its best you be judicious about where your spend your money. I highly recommend spending it on building consistent brand identity through clever marketing campaigns that you can pull through each medium - from a billboard over the 405 fwy to a shareable youtube spot. 

Now, get back to your hump day. And celebrate responsibly. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

read this: the worst blog post ever! Mahi Mahi-style.

Let's talk about food. Then, let's go eat.

You may have already seen this in Reader's Digest or in The Huffington Post and I want to talk about it before I talk about Holé Molé and their false advertising practices. 

I'm not sure which sandwich shop this is so I apologize for not giving credit where it's due, but it's a great way to combat bad publicity. 


Thanks to HGTV, Food Network, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and yes, even you, Blogger - everyone now thinks they're a food critic. And maybe "that one guy on yelp" very well got a bad meatball sandwich. It happens. But instead of starting a war with words on Yelp, this restaurant owner took the high(brow) road and used the bad review to create a clever advertising campaign outside his shop for the very affordable price of $0.


When someone makes a controversial statement it's near impossible not to have an instant reaction to it. So I think it's pretty clever to turn this bad customer comment on its head and create an advertisement from it. I wonder how many people tried the meatball sandwich that day. I also wonder if they went on Yelp and absolutely harassed the bejesus out of him for making such an outlandishly false claim. I guess I'll never know. 


If you know and you're reading this blog, please update me in the comments section below. I'd love to know!


Which brings me to the subject of Holé Molé. Last Tuesday night, my husband and I stopped into the restaurant to grab a bite to eat. I've only ever eaten at a Holé Molé once - on Taco Tuesday with coworkers and I had the taco special - whatever it was - I didn't ask. But my husband, an avid saltwater angler and connoisseur of fish, pays a lot closer to menu items especially when they pertain to the catch of the day.


Many restaurants advertise fish specials under false names. I think the most widely abused menu item is the "white tuna" typically found on a sushi menu. Often times, escolar an oily, cheap snake mackerel imitating tuna, is passed off as Albacore.  This fish is nicknamed the “ex-lax’’ fish by some in the industry because of the digestion problems it can cause.


But there isn't any escolar on the Holé Molé menu...I don't think. And there isn't any Mahi-Mahi either. I snapped this picture (above) and under Tacos you see listed "Cabo Tacos: Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos."

This is a Mahi Mahi fish.
And for only $2.79 each? That's a damn good deal for Mahi Mahi. So my ever skeptical husband asked our host, "the Cabo Tacos, those are actually Mahi Mahi?"

This is a Talapia fish.
"No, it's Talapia Mahi Mahi-style," answered our host. "All of our fish is Talapia."

First of all Holé Molé, Talapia is a disgusting shit-eating fish. These fish literally are raised on poop. Chicken poop.

Secondly, there is no such thing as "Mahi Mahi-style."Mahi-Mahi is actually a delicious surface-dwelling dolphinfish.

I've caught Mahi Mahi before. Mahi Mahi is also called Dorado in Mexico. They're delicious! Especially as sushi! Would you eat that fish to your right raw? Uh-uh. 

I think it's really crappy that Holé Molé would intentionally deceive its customers like this. I like their restaurant quite a bit. I think their shrimp bowls and carne asada tacos are delicious, but their business practices leave a bad taste in my mouth. 

I didn't bother Yelping about this but I did visit their Yelp page  to see if anyone else had caught on...apparently not - or at least if they had, they were keeping their mouth shut too. I mean, the place gets an average 4/5 stars and despite the "Mahi Mahi" tacos not really being what they say they are, for the most part, people like their shit-eating fish, so why do I want to rain on their parade. 

Besides, I don't need Holé Molé making me their poster girl for a sidewalk chalkboard campaign, "come try our amazing Cabo Tacos that one chick ever on Yelp said were shit-eating fish." 




Monday, September 9, 2013

I'll bet you a basket of wings that you won't post a comment on this blog post

Eeek, sorry, due to yesterday being a day of rest (otherwise known as NFL Sunday) I am a bit late in getting a blog post up. And since I'll be playing catch up and having to write two of them today, this post (as well as the next) will be brief.

I want to address mobile advertising - or rather - advertising on mobile apps. I fell victim to a very good one yesterday that actually compelled me to click it, then follow its call to action, and now I'm blogging about it.

And THAT, my friends, is the power of good ad placement.

To the right is an actual snapshot from my iPhone screen. You can see I'm logged into my Yahoo! Fantasy Sports app and following my team, Axis of Ignorance, which, BTW, is currently in 5th place with 99.6 points with R. Griffin III left to QB in tonight's game WASH vs. PHI.

I see the Buffalo Wild Wings advert and it's asking me to "toss my opponent a wing wager."

"why, what's a wing wager?" I of course have to ask myself right before clicking on the yellow little rectangle.

So step one of this advertiser's brilliant marketing scheme is knowing it's audience and where they will be on Sundays - in front of their phones, in front of their big screens. They could have advertised during any one of the match ups that day, but that would have cost them A LOT of money and with a large percentage of their target audience's faces looking at the little screen instead of the big screen it would have been a total waste. Not to mention, except for the outdated Nielsen method, you can't really tell how many eyeballs you're getting for your TV spots - it's a guess at best - but you can track your CTR.

Step two was picking a call to action that was simple, yet didn't explain itself, compelling you to click the add to find out "what the hell is a wing wager?"

Ahhhh, thaaaaaat's a wing wager. Hmm, okay, I like wings. I like gambling. I like hanging out with friends. So win or lose, I still win. Ok, I'm in. I'll make a medium wager that the Axis of Ignorance is gonna kick your ass #uckin' Bronco's (that's Christine's team. She started the day off ahead of me by 78 points, but all her games are played and she's sitting pretty at 168.68 pts). I think I can take her, so I clicked "propose it."

And the last step was sharing it to her facebook page to let her know it was on like donkey kong! Which is brilliant for two reasons - first, because now I have made a bet and made it public so one of us HAS to pay up or forever be labeled a reneger that no one else will ever place any kind of bet with. So I guess that means Buffalo Wild Wings will be earning our bsuiness one way or another - and heck - we might as well just watch next week's match up from Buffalo Wild WIng's restaurant since we're going to be there anyway. So not only are they going to get me (or hopefully Christine) to buy a medium basket of wings, but we're going to need a couple pints to wash that down with - not to mention refreshments and snacks for all the rest of the players who show up from our league that day.

They've got us by the balls. Err, figurative balls.

But, secondly, now all of Christine's facebook friends, who may or may not have their own fantasy leagues, are going to see this awesome wager and want to make their own. Maybe B-Dubs gets a couple more patrons...maybe they also publicly post wagers via twitter of facebook.

The moral of the story is: had B-Dub posted an in-app ad that simple read: "hey watch the game and eat some wings here" I would have ignored it. Not clever. Clearly an advertisement. Don't care.

But they didn't do that. They came at me with a very clever call to action and I like that.

Now com'on Washington Redskins!!! I got a basket of wings riding on this game. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

did 'boots tweet' get the reaction Kenneth was looking for?

I couldn't resist talking about this tweet after hearing about it yesterday while I was watching MNBC from the stairclimber at the gym.

personally, I don't find it THAT offensive. NY wants to elect a man named Weiner who showed his weiner to the public via twitter. that, I find offensive. what Kenneth posted may have been in bad taste, but, who cares? 

the way I see it, everyone was doing their job. a soldier's job is to protect their country - and sometimes that means putting boots on the ground in foreign countries where we're not wanted; a president's job is to assuage the fears of his nation by either supporting a "boots on the ground" strategy or vehemently denying there is such a strategy at all; and a designer's job is to sell clothes. 

kenneth cole has always kind of been a shirt stirrer, right? he likes to get people talking - and this tweet certainly got people talking - and retweeting - and maybe even shopping

the problem with social media is...well...where should I start?

first of all, most Facebook Friends aren’t really friends and most Twitter Followers don’t follow.

second, everyone has an opinion (or an agenda, or something to sell).

third, we all struggle to censor ourselves from time-to-time. 

so when a a public platform like twitter gives a megaphone to people like Weiner and Cole and they say or do something dumb (intentional or not) it's like the 3:00 bell that starts a schoolyard fight. the classrooms empty and the grass under the bleachers explodes with fist fights. everyone suddenly has a position to defend. and then after a couple days someone else says or does something stupid and your 15 minutes of ill-begotten fame is over.

the question is, does this hurt or help Cole? 

remember the old adage? no publicity is bad publicity. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that phrase still holds water. there are literally hundreds - if not thousands - of examples of people and products who have whether "bad publicity" and came out stronger for it. 

look at that whole Chick-fil-A debacle. they recorded their highest sales ever on the day gay rights activists staged a protest against their restaurant. 


Chick-fil-A certainly didn't mean to offend the gay community and it was a slight PR disaster - but the upside is that the authenticity of their brand solidified their most loyal stakeholders and earned them new business from diners who shared their same values. if it wasn't for social media, word of Chick-fil-A's "foot-in-mouth" moment wouldn't have been able to spread like it did. 

where I see social media failing is in not being controversial enough. middle of the road stuff isn't going to move the needle.

imagine if Cole's tweet had read like this: "this season's pumps, sandals and loafers on sale now" do you really think it would have been retweeted 524 times? do you think I'd be writing about it? 

I am attracted to brands that have personality. I am attracted to brands that are real. I am attracted to people who make mistakes. perfect people and brands are boring. 

but that doesn't mean you should use social media to be a jerk-off on purpose or without a set of authentic values that your customers can easily align themselves with when shit hits the fan.

if you're going to use social media keep the following in mind:

- you want to have a dialog - not a one-way conversation
- not everyone will support your position
- if you get criticism (and you will) use it to improve your product, not launch a defensive attack
- be entertaining (but tasteful)
- make statements that support your value proposition

and now back to what I was doing on this computer before this whole 'boots on ground' conversation - I saw Macy's was having a sale on these really cute Kenneth Cole sandals





Friday, September 6, 2013

7 days until unemployment

it is currently 2:05 PM on thursday, september 5th, 2013. I am precisely seven days away from unemployment - which is a really weird place to be. most people, I would think, "suddenly" find themselves unemployed, don't they? they don't have weeks to contemplate it like I've had. In fact, I found out about my soon-to-be-unemployed-status 11 days ago.

this will be a first-time adventure as an unemployed person. yay! I can't wait! it will NOT , however, be my first time being laid off.

I was laid off in 2009 when I worked for CLEAN AGNECY, a boutique marketing/PR firm more focused on packaging design than marketing or PR. based in Pasadena, I lived in Tujunga and served as their Integrated Public Relations manager. but in this lay-off scenario I was let go with clients.

yeah, ha, they actually GAVE me clients and sent me packing. which was pretty rad because after setting up a website, joining a couple networking groups, and going on a couple new business meetings, I was pulling down $90K+ a year (on average). Not exactly starving.

so 11 days ago one of my bosses calls me into his office and shuts the door. that's never a good sign.
he basically lays it out for me - what I've seen coming since returning from maternity leave - "they don't have enough work for me" and effectively, can't afford to keep me on staff.

what do you mean "don't have enough work for me?" I've been the one creating the work since I got here. I come up with the marketing plan every year. I come up with the budget. the promotions, the partnerships, decide where to place our ads, how to grow into foreign markets, etc.

ok. no biggie. but here's a word of advice from the pros - "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." meaning: when sales are down, or the market is down, guess what your competition is doing? they're thinking about scaling back too. all the more reason to ramp up and take advantage of opportunities that you're leaving wide open for the competition.

during the Great Depression, many businesses were struggling and failing and most were cutting back on marketing and advertising. ultimately, those who succeeded and gained market share were companies that did not make marketing cuts, like Proctor and Gamble. in fact, P&G went even further with their advertising and increased the marketing budget by sponsoring “soap operas” on the radio.

So here's a Top 5 List of marketing don't in a down economy:

1.) don't ignore the importance of sales strategy. when your sales/marketing manager comes to you with a sales forecasting document that you've never instituted in the history of your business - implement it - RIGHT AWAY!
2.) don't cut your advertising/marketing budget - increase it
3.) don't concentrate on what "pleases" your customers, tap into your customers' worries and frustrations
4.) don't treat your customers like nuisances - they're usually your #1 source of referrals and revenue!
5.) don't assume business as usual. revisit your budget/marketing plan and make adjustments where necessary

and finally...at risk of sounding like an asshole to prospective employers...don't insult your marketing professional that you're about to lay off by asking them to outline a "how-to" guide to the marketing tools they've been using to stimulate your growth over the last 9 months to 20 years. Because if think you can't afford them...what you can't afford is to let them go. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

forgive me father, for I have blogged

since blogging for so many others, it feels like a sinful delight to blog for myself. so if you've stumbled upon this blog on purpose, or rather by accident, welcome to the charade. [charade: n empty or deceptive act or pretense]

just so you know, before writing this post - wait - stop. no, let's be honest here...exactly 22 words into it, I googled "what should I write in my first blog" and here's a list of the top five results:

11 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My First Blog - Quick Sprout


not actually stopping to read any of these articles (yet), I had to ask myself, with 135,000 results returned in .28 (that's POINT 2-8 seconds...not 28 seconds) - how many people could possibly be writing a blog to inform others about what to write in their first blog? lol. is there that many of us dullards out there? 

now, I'm no stranger to writing. I'm a columnist for BDOutdoors.com. I also wrote (up until recently) the blog, the email newsletter, marketing messages, and all sorts of web and advertising copy for my former employer (that I'm sure will come up in blog #2 - tentatively titled "7 days until unemployment"). I've even ghost written for major PR campaigns and company spokespersons. But writing for yourself is hard. The last time I did it, I was 13 and it stated, "Dear diary..."

but I digress...

now I have read - ok skimmed - the first three articles. on the brink of unemployment I simply just don't have time to look at five posts about beginner blogging tips.

the fist one told me to tell you who I am and share pictures. the second one told me to be social. the third one told me to be mindful of my SEO so I could distinguish myself from the competition.

ok. here goes.


I'm Kathy. my friends call me Kat. This is what I look like with my nerdy mad scientist reading glasses on in a moth-ball riddled vintage Steelers T-shirt (authentically) picked up in a Pittsburgh thrift shop and mailed across country to me by a total stranger who I've never met but sent $30 to through paypal after meeting her on craigslist.

I'm a marketing public relations professional, competitive shooter, hunter, angler, CrossFitter and all-around enjoyable person*

I fully intend on sharing this post socially via twitter, facebook, pintrest and any other amazingly rad social sites where I can talk about important things like ME, Me, me, me using the hashtags #hireme #job #marketing #SEO #publicrelations #communications #BA #CSULB. (side note, I just created a new portfolio site and tweeted about it using these hashtags and lo and behold at least on person has already favorited it, thanks Rob Sinclair @nutrasique).

now, this whole SEO boosting concept...I thought about giving this blog post the title "Kim Kardashian Samsung Weiner Back-to-School Lotto MLB Scores" but I thought that would just be plain misleading. I don't rightly care if anyone reads THIS blog post. I just need something to do while I count down the days until unemployment which will then kick off a count-down to re-hire. 

so if you're interested in what a marketing person - currently between jobs - has to say about everything and nothing at all, then please tune back in again tomorrow for "7 days until unemployment". 


*This last point is up for debate...depends who you talk to quite frankly