Oct 04

Jesus Christ, super salesman

That guy from Galilee is back again. This time He’s a super salesman for a new line of red and whiteGrapesofgalilee_3
wines called, what else?  ‘The Grapes of Galilee.’

Yes, Jesus Christ, super salesman, is back. Or at least, his name and likeness are back on the labels of everything from chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The importer said he’ll be targeting the ‘holy water’ to Catholics for the upcoming holiday season. “This is a wine for a special occasion like Christmas dinner. It will be a big talker,” said Pini Haroz.

Well, it’s got me talking. And, personally, I find it distasteful (the promotion. Not the wine. I haven’t sampled the vino yet).

Using Christ to push alcohol is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Especially considering the historical Jesus was all about poverty, humility, etc. Sure, he changed water to wine, but that was a one-time gig as I recall.

Anyway, I think Christ would be royally pissed at this misuse of His name and image.  In fact, I could see a modern Christ rampaging through the local liquor stores on Christmas Eve and breaking any bottles with his likeness on the cover (a la His assault on the moneychangers in the temple).

I’m sure Christ savored a good wine as much as the next savior. But, I’ll bet He would gag if he saw how Pini Haroz, wine importer, was ‘crossing’ the line.

Sep 25

OK, I’ll admit it. I love this commercial

As Repman fans and medical supply executives know all too well, I’m not a fan of print or broadcastNike_logo
advertisements. With a few exceptions, I think advertising money is money poorly spent.

That said, I adore the new Nike TV commercial that blends the awesome "Last of the Mohicans" soundtrack with a beautifully edited (and epoch) struggle of a running back attempting to score a touchdown against seemingly unsurmountable odds.

Just like the Daniel Day-Lewis character in ‘Mohican,’ the running back fights his way through any and all obstacles (rain, snow, huge linemen etc.) to reach his goal. And, while I’d rather fight to reach Madeleine Stowe (Lewis’s love interest in the movie) than score a touchdown, the concept works beautifully.

So, guess what? This ad actually broke through. Does it mean I’ll go out and buy Nike products or show preference to their brand over a competitor’s? Not likely. Rest assured, though, that when shopping for my next pair of sneakers, ‘I will find you.’

Thanks to Chris "Repman, jr" Cody for the idea.

Aug 30

There’s chocolate on your Facebook

More evidence of the power of social networking as it relates to PR. In case you missed it, CadburyEdis04_2

  Schweppes is bringing back a defunct brand (the Wispa candy bar) because social networkers demanded it. Cadbury, better known in the U.S. as the maker of Snapple and Nantucket Nectar, discontinued Wispa in 2003—and almost immediately fans sprung up asking for it back. In June, two chocoholics stormed the stage during Iggy Pop’s set at a UK music festival and held up a “Bring Back Wispa” banner. But what really tipped the scales for Cadbury were the nearly 14,000 Facebook members who have joined the online campaign to revive the product. You can read more about it here.

Cadbury’s response is a perfect example of why tracking customer sentiment– using search engines and services like Cymfony and Nielsen Buzzmetrics– and responding to consumer sentiment has become a top priority for brands and PR pros.

This was certainly a good piece of news for Cadbury to counteract the negative press it’s been getting lately over being forced to delay or even cancel the sale of its beverage division due to the global credit crunch.

Above is a great B2C lesson, but also watch out for this on the B2B front. The WSJ recently picked up on the emergence of professional-level social networks that enable executives to interact with peers. Just as Facebook and Bebo are driving change in the consumer sector, social networking is quickly seeping up into the B2B world. As one obvious example, pharmaceuticals companies are going to need to monitor these sites for what doctors are saying about new drugs.

Guest blog written by Matt Purdue, Senior Analyst for Peppercom.

Aug 29

In Boulder, somebody’s always fitter than you

So I’m in the midst of a very cool, all-outdoor activities Summer vacation in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder

To say that Boulder is a mecca for fitness freaks would be akin to saying that Baghdad attracts a few malcontents with ill intentions. The place literally swarms with runners, bikers, kayakers, rafters and every other type of outdoor type known to man

In point of fact, Boulder is fitness on steroids. To illustrate the point, I ‘bumped’ into a woman while climbing 7,500-foot Mt. Sanitas yesterday. As I huffed and puffed my way up, she was trotting down. She smiled and told me I was halfway to the summit. I grunted to acknowledge I’d understood what she’d just said. She smiled and replied, “It could be worse. You could be climbing this mountain four times in one day like me. This is my third trip.” I was incredulous. “I have to keep pushing myself,” she replied, sensing my disbelief. “In Boulder, someone is always fitter than you.”

Which I guess is a good thing. I’d rather compete with runners, hikers and tennis players, who are better than me than, say, go mano-a-mano with some highly political, backstabbing fast tracker in a Fortune 500 corporation. 

I like this woman’s unofficial city motto for Boulder and wondered what variations might work for other top U. S. cities:

– ‘In Houston, someone’s always fatter than you.’
– ‘In Newark, someone’s car is always being stolen before yours.’
– ‘In Hollywood, someone’s always got more silicone than you.’
– ‘In Detroit, someone’s always been downsized more times than you.’
– ‘In Seattle, someone’s always more depressed than you.’

I have to believe the city fathers of Boulder are delighted with their image and reputation. They may not attract the ever-expanding Double Mac-gorging, channel surfing, trailer park crowd, but something tells me they’re cool with that.

Aug 22

Never underestimate the power of a website

Marketing Consultant Robb High’s survey of 132 agency executives and 118 client decision-makersImage_2
confirms the importance of agency websites.

According to High’s survey, 97 percent of clients on the prowl for a new agency examine an agency’s site as part of the due diligence process. And, more than three-fourths of client decision-makers believe the ‘people/staff’ profile sections are the single most important component of an agency’s site.

Yet, almost half of the agencies polled have sites that only contain profiles of the two or three most senior people. And, 18 percent don’t feature anyone on their sites.

High’s results confirm what we’re seeing: more and more prospects asking for biographies of the ‘team’ that would work on their account. It’s always been important but, I think, so many ‘clients’ have been burned by the big agency ‘bait-and-switch’ model that they’re insisting on the team ‘meet and greet’ before pulling the trigger.

It makes sense, but can be difficult for the agency since the ‘team’ a prospect meets with, say, September 5th might not be the one that’s available on October 5th when the client makes its final decision. That’s because a day or a week at an agency can be like a year in more traditional businesses. Clients come and come. Accounts wax and wane. And, while Johnny, Janey and Akbar may have had time available when they first met the prospect well, stuff happens.

High’s survey is instructive and we, for one, will be making changes to our web site to make it more user friendly and people-focused. Prospects will be seeing more Peppercommers on our site, but they’ll have to balance that with the realities of agency life when it comes to the composition of their actual team.

Aug 21

Amelia Earhart flies again

I’m a name freak. Interesting company, product or service names intrigue me. So do unique human

For example, I just watched a local Denver traffic report delivered by
Amelia Earhart. I kid you not.

While she may be 110-years-old, Amelia was nonetheless up in the sky, reporting traffic patterns live from a Sky 9 helicopter. She looked great, made no mention of having been MIA for 70 years and would neither confirm, nor deny, reports that World War II-era Japanese soldiers had imprisoned, raped and tortured her. Amazing stuff.

I wonder what would have possessed Amelia’s parents to saddle her with such a moniker? Did they know that one day she’d be a traffic reporter and need a memorable name? Regardless, she’s back in the sky where she belongs and all is well.

Continue reading

Aug 14

Not walking the walk

I’m always fascinated to attend industry seminars and see my peers grappling with
business developmentIst2_187726_self_promotion_2
and branding issues. They know exactly how to counsel clients on the best and brightest ways to break out from the pack. Yet, when it comes to agency marketing, most firms simply don’t walk the walk.

A new survey* undertaken by marketing consultant Robb High substantiates this alarming trend: namely, 76 percent of 132 marketing communications firms surveyed have no regular outbound communications directed to marketing decision-makers. And, more than two-thirds of the 118 client decision-makers surveyed couldn’t name more than five agency brands. And, that spells trouble with a capital ‘T’.

So, while a select few agencies focus on fine-tuning their positioning, creative campaigns and strategic partnerships, the average one isn’t even attempting to communicate in the first place. When I ask agency owners and senior executives why they don’t consistently and clearly communicate their ‘value-adds,’ they typically say they’re focused on billable client work. Or, they’ll say they’ve tried it once or twice but, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, ended up assigning the most junior person who invariably fails.

Over the past 12 years, we’ve always treated our firm as a critically important client. We’ve allocated the necessary time and manpower and assigned our very best people to promoting Peppercom. And, it’s paid off. Big time.

While I’d like to think that most agencies will wake up and pay attention to High’s stats, the likelihood is that the majority will remain in denial and just keep their noses to the grindstone. And, that would be a fine strategy if client-agency loyalty really did still exist.

*From Robb High rhigh@robbhighconsult.com Tuesday August 7th 2007
Results of a survey among 132 Markeing/Communications  firms and 118 client marketing decision-makers:
76% of MarCom firms have no regular outbound communications directed to client marketing decision-makers (regular = more than 3/year).
68% of client decision-makers cannot name more than 5 agency brands (aside from their current agency or agencies.) 59% of those who know 5+ brands rate their depth of familiarity as "agency brand name only."  68% of MarCom firms with outbound communications send to a list of fewer than 100 companies, even though only one in 16 clients conducts a review in any given year. 79% of MarCom firms with an outbound communications program use only land mail. 97% of decision-makers select email as their "preferred" form of business communication.

Aug 07

Contrarian points of view can be cool. Except when they’re wrong

I received an unsolicited e-mail the other day from TSE Sports and Entertainment proclaiming that not807_image_3
only will animosity towards Barry Bonds dissipate over time but, get this, he will actually
be ‘celebrated’ by future marketers.

The TSE folks who ‘….work to lock (yes, lock) athlete and celebrity talent for endorsement and appearances,’ must be injecting and applying some banned substances themselves if they actually believe Bonds’ image can be resuscitated.

TSE President Robert Tuchman predicts: ‘As we move further away from his playing career and the issues at hand he (Bonds) will find himself with a wealth of opportunities to change his image.’ Yeah, right.

There is no way any sane marketer would touch ‘Barroid’ now or in the future. The guy is pure poison and has become the poster child for everything that’s gone wrong in professional sports: drug use, selfish play and boorish behavior, to name just a few.

Bonds is a bad man. Why would any future marketer want his or her brand associated with such a destructive personality?

If Tuchman believes that time heals all wounds and American consumers will one day want to purchase an item because Barry Bonds is shilling for the manufacturer, he’s borderline delusional.

Nor does he know his sports marketing history. Before he proclaims Barroid’s future marketability, Mr. Tuchman might want to check with Pete Rose and OJ Simpson. Unless I’ve missed something, quite a few years have passed since their transgressions and both remain totally untouchable from a marketing standpoint.

Jul 25

Some things are better left unsaid

I’m about to meet Peppercom UK’s crack Managing Director, Jacki Vause, for dinner at a place called the Rivington Grill.

To get me there, Jacki passed along a set of directions from the restaurant’s web site.

On the printed page are directions from two area hotels: mine and the self-proclaimed, five-star gem, the Great Eastern Hotel.

Here’s the lead sentence describing the establishment: ‘…..The sleek interior by Conran and Partners blends in seamlessly with the gorgeous period building, originally constructed as a lunatic asylum.’

How lovely! I can’t imagine anything better than spending the money charged by a five-star hotel, knowing that once upon a time, London’s wackiest characters were holed up in the very same place.

Pardon the pun, but what idiot edited this text?

Jul 17

But, what if I don’t enjoy your ringtone?

How many times have you called someone only to hear a recorded voice inviting you to ‘enjoy the music’ while waiting for the cell phone owner to actually answer?

I don’t know about you, but this really bugs me. Especially when I have to listen to a tune I don’t like, Flocellphone_3 don’t know or downright despise.

To wit:

– my wife forces callers to suffer through something called ‘Float on’ by Modest Mouse. It’s godawful.

– my daughter subjects people to ‘Soul meets body’ by Death Cab for Cutie (unintelligible lyrics, but one of the greatest band names ever)

– and, my daughter’s buddy, Lisa, hits you with the old Charlie Daniels song, ‘Devil went down to Georgia.’ I still don’t get the connection on that one.

Ringtones are audio spam. There’s no opting in on the part of the caller. Instead, we’re forced to listen to drivel selected by someone else. All of which reflects poorly on the call recipient’s image and reputation. So, while Whole Foods CEO John Mackey gets chewed up for posting ersatz comments on his blog and Miss New Jersey deals with blackmail threats caused by party pics posted on the web, the average cell phone owner gets away with aural murder.

I think it’s time for those of us who dislike ringtones to rise up, throw open those virtual windows and shout, ‘I’m mad as hell at having to listen to horrible ringtone music and not going to take it anymore!"

Tomorrow’s blog will list my guesses at what ringtones the famous (Donald Trump), infamous (Jack the Ripper) and pedestrian (med supply executive) might have used/are using. I’d appreciate additions to the list once it’s posted.

Thanks to Cat Cody for the idea.