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Archive for March 2010

At Issue } essential reading

In Recognition of Good Taste

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Mar 4, 2010

"Good taste" is rarely used to describe great advertising, but Domino's is going to town with it. It just announced that it has doubled its quarterly profits after telling its customers that it had fixed the taste of its pizzas. It didn't "improve" things or follow any other standard operating procedures of the marketing world; in fact, it violated some of the basic tenets of advertising, such as telling the truth. Critics lumped it into the category of "mea culpa ads" (such as the billboards London's Evening Standard newspaper ran last year apologizing for the crappy quality of its content). Domino's went one better, though, by running documentary-style spots of consumers likening the crust to "cardboard" and topping to "ketchup." It was called extreme and even bizarre. Comedian Steve Colbert got in on the commentary.

Is Pivot a Turning Point for Web Exploration?

Gary Flake
Mar 4, 2010

Gary Flake demos Pivot, a new way to browse and arrange massive amounts of images and data online. Built on breakthrough Seadragon technology, it enables spectacular zooms in and out of web databases, and the discovery of patterns and links invisible in standard web browsing.

One-Touch Shopping, for Members Only

Camille Sweeney
Mar 4, 2010

HauteLook, Gilt Groupe, Rue La La and Ideeli are just a few of the members-only sales sites introduced in recent years with offerings of deeply discounted designer apparel and accessories. Now, to the delight of beauty enthusiasts, they have added beauty products and services. With millions of members, growing friend by friend, day by day, the sites offer everything from Botox treatments at a dermatologist to detoxification at a spa. Some industry watchers predict these sites will change the way we shop, but others wonder whether online flash sales are a flash in the pan.

Ads Posted on Facebook Strike Some as Off-Key

Brad Stone
Mar 4, 2010

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, is selling more ad spots to big companies like Wal-Mart Stores, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. But the site’s pages are also home to countless ads from smaller companies that can be funny, weird or just plain creepy — those suggesting you are, say, eligible to get a free iPad because you are exactly 26 years old, or entreaties to see what your offspring would look like if you had a child with a celebrity.

Is Content King? Then Distribution Is Crown Prince

Keith Richman
Mar 3, 2010

Sumner Redstone famously called content "king." Rupert Murdoch recently upgraded that to "Emperor." While there is certainly some truth to that when looking at online content -- see Hulu's rapid growth as an example -- there are far more cases where great content does not seem to matter at all. At the very least, I think it is fair to say that even if content is king online, then distribution and marketing are the "crown princes." Good content or not, understanding and embracing digital distribution and marketing will prove critical to everyone in the entertainment industry.

Social Capital: The Currency of the Social Economy

Brian Solis
Mar 3, 2010

The convention for creating financial opportunities is evolving and changing the way we seed prospects, promote our expertise and prowess, and connect with those who can help us learn and advance through the facilitation of strategic and mutually beneficial alliances. Digital capitalization is laying a foundation for expanding the need to cultivate and participate, not only in the real world, but also in the online networks and communities that can benefit us personally and professionally.

Why Baby Boomers Can't Be Put in One Box

Jerry Shereshewsky
Mar 3, 2010

It seems like the American marketing community is poised on the brink of an astounding discovery: the value of the post-war baby boom market! With the upcoming (and much anticipated) Tom Brokaw special, "Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$," it seems like everyone is trying to jump on this particular wagon. On March 1, Advertising Age published a fun piece by Judann Pollack called "The 15 Biggest Baby Boomer Brands" in which Pollack attempts to lay out the iconic products and their ad campaigns of her generation. This is precisely why marketing to boomers is in such a state of disarray. Folks are trying to take 20 pounds and shove it into a five-pound bag.

Feeling Heat From Ford, GM Reshuffles Managers

Sharon Terlep and Neal E. Boudette
Mar 3, 2010

Ford Motor Co. surpassed General Motors Co. in sales last month for the first time in at least 50 years, presenting a new headache for the government-owned car maker as it struggles to return to profitability. Hours after the sales results were disclosed Tuesday, GM announced an overhaul of its top managers—the second executive shuffle in three months. The news underscored the impatience of GM Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. and the heat the company is feeling from a resurgent Ford.

Keeping Brands Relevant Helps When Times Are Tough

Allen Adamson
Mar 2, 2010

"Caution. Not all hazards are marked." I couldn't help but notice this sign on the side of a ski trail during a recent vacation in the mountains. As I slowed my descent I thought about how this sign could apply to any number of things in this crazy world. Being in the brand business, I also thought about how apt they were relative to navigating the current marketplace. It's one thing to watch as consumer attitudes shift and you alter your product or service to meet the new conditions. It's another to sense that something's on the horizon and be the first in the category to address it. The ability to do so has always separated the good brands from the best brands.

Green with Ennui

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Mar 2, 2010

Judging from its branding and the griping of its competitors, Apple customers are hip, aware, and enlightened, yet its shareholders recently defeated resolutions to make the company more environmentally responsible and affirmed instead their uncool unconcern about anything other than profits. There isn't just a disconnect here, but an entirely topsy-turvy arrangement.

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