Archive for March 2010
Organizations love data: numbers, reports, trend lines, graphs, spreadsheets — the more the better. And, as a result, many organizations have a substantial internal factory that churns out data on a regular basis, as well as external resources on call that produce data for onetime studies and questions. But what's the evidence (or dare I say "the data") that all of this data is worth the cost and indeed leads to better business decisions? Is some amount of data collection unnecessary, perhaps even damaging by creating complexity and confusion?
The seemingly continuous commercials during the coverage of the Winter Games on the networks of NBC Universal gave a new meaning to the term “snow job.” It was as if every spot showed snow, or ice, or both, in which skiers, skaters and snowboarders cavorted. That made it difficult for ad-weary, ad-bleary viewers to distinguish the commercials from the actual coverage of the Vancouver Olympics. Perhaps that was the sponsors’ fiendish intent: to perpetrate the ultimate blurring of the line between advertising and content.
All these examples tell the same story: that the world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.
Is it possible to have a coffee, buy a car or go shopping without saving the world? Not these days. And now you can also host a pancake breakfast, send Girl Scout cookies to the troops and shelter stray pets, thanks to a friendly corporate sponsor. In addition to the now-requisite cause marketing, brands such as Quaker, Pepsi, Prilosec and Bisquick are turning to so-called microsponsorships of a few hundred or few thousand dollars that go straight to the consumer to fund their own pet project. The most visible of these is Pepsi Refresh, in which consumers can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
Caribou Coffee, a distant No. 2 in the coffee chain category next to Starbucks, is attempting to bolster its appeal as a branded coffee company by playing down the ski lodge imagery and, yes, the caribou, with a sweeping rebranding. The push, which includes a new logo and print work, comes as the brand attempts to foster a more contemporary, less regional image. With locations in 15 Midwestern and Eastern states, Caribou doesn’t have the national retail footprint of Starbucks and has a fraction of the marketing budget. But it is known for its quality—Consumer Reports ranked it No.1 among java purveyors—and a new management team wants to expand upon that and build a national presence. One way to do that is by rolling out branded ground coffee on other retailers’ shelves. Such sales rose 77 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, per the company. Caribou is now in 7,000 U.S. grocery stores.
Magazine executives spent much of last year telling anyone who would listen that they were taking their brands digital. Their message this year: Print rules. Five leading magazine publishers have pitched in on a multimillion-dollar ad campaign touting the "power of print." They say nearly 1,400 pages of the ads will be sprinkled through magazines including People, Vogue and Ladies' Home Journal this year.