While we question whether or not online brands enjoy being referred to as frogs in a pond, we aren't going to quibble too much over FrogPond, a new service launched by BzzAgent to help its 275,000 "agents" express their opinion about, rate and forward to a friend sites such as iVillage, Vital Juice Daily, TripAdvisor, SmartBargains, Care.com and more.
BzzAgent, which previously focused mostly on spreading buzz offline about physical products, has launched FrogPond to extend its word of mouth promotional services to online properties. Ribbet.
Macy's just launched a campaign designed to harness the power of WOM on eight campuses nationwide. The pilot brand is American Rag, and students are the vehicle.
American Rag enthusiasts were chosen as brand ambassadors to promote a contest at their respective schools. As they walk around all ragged-out, they encourage peers to design a print for the brand. The goal is to create foot traffic at Macy's stores located nearby.
If American Rag wants to succeed it would do well to change its name. There's already an American Eagle and an American Apparel, both of which pretty much own the niche Macy's is shooting for.
Plus, something about it makes us think along the lines of Jordache, Mossimo and other hopeful big-brands now confined to big boxes.
But hey, in the end the co-eds will decide.
- The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is hosting the Wommie Awards, an annual case study competition. The deadline for entry has been extended beyond the original Nov. 17 cut off.
- While the site suffers from long load times, EatBetterAmerica lets you submit fat-filled recipes for a allow-cal "recipe makeover." Just in time for Turkey Day. It's from General Mills.
- Like no one else can, George Parker wreaks havoc on Sony and all the other gamer idiots out there who think the PS3 is the second coming of Christ.
- If you liked Subservient Chicken but were angry the Chicken would never take his clothes off, here's yet another Subservient Stripper.
- Product placement in books continues to get more and more pervasive.
- Not everyone loves the new Sony PS3.
Today at 11 EST, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association announced Dell would be the first company to adopt the organization's Ethics Adoption Toolkit which companies can use to create their own word of mouth ethics policies and then share them with employees, vendors, and consumers.
From he release, "The Ethics Adoption Toolkit includes all the elements that companies need to make word of mouth marketing ethics an official policy within their organization -- including sample letters, contracts, press releases, and more. They are all customizable and can be modified to suit individual companies' needs and priorities."
Dell? Weblogs? Ethics? Ballsy move considering the computer maker's less than pleasant relationship with the bloguverse.
- This just isn't worth mentioning but it involves a catfight and breasts, two things this publication can't seem to ignore. Our apologies in advance.
- Some train stations to to great lengths to keep their stations clean and they want everyone to know about it.
- We swore we'd never again mention a million dollar homepage but this one is a bit different. It;s selling space on the side of a building. Oh wait. Not an actual building. Just pixels on an image of a building. OK. Sorry. It's just the same old crap with new clothes on.
- It's a pretty good bet Nike wishes this guy was wearing a different shirt.
- From time to time, we all hear those stories about upper management embezzling funds. Mack Simpson has recrafted a story he told us back in 2003 about a CFO at the company who worked for who shot himself after stealing $6.5 million dollars. It's an unfortunate story worth revisiting.
- Sometimes ads are so incredibly bad, there's actually good. This may or may not be one of those times.
- CoBRANDiT has summed up the recent Word of Mouth Marketing conference with a collection of video interviews which include Robert Scoble, Pete Blackshaw and other agency honchos.
We'd like to offer an apology to Bob Garfield. In a piece we wrote yesterday about a CoBrandiT video that featured footage of Bob doing an interview with CoBrandiT that included outtakes shot prior to the actual interview, we mis-stated Bob knew he was in on the joke when, in fact, he was not. He had made some comments, in jest, while defining word of mouth prior to the beginning of the actual interview. Bob says CoBrandiT used those comments without his knowledge and he thought those shooting the video worked for WOMMA and not for CoBrandiT. We respectfully apologize. Though, we still think the video was hilarious. Rather than incur further wrath, CoBrandiT has taken the video down and placed an apology in its place. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
To call attention to the upcoming Word of Mouth Marketing event June 20-21 at the Hilton San Fransisco, coBrandiT, independently and without association with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, has mixed an old interview of Bob Garfield with some new comments he made about word of mouth marketing. The result is a humorous collection of babble. By the way, Bob was in on the joke just so you all don't think we're trashin' here.
UPDATE: The video has been removed. WOMMA was none too pleased. CoBrandit accommodated.
UPDATE II: See our ever so apologetic apology to Bob Garfield here,
While test market pilots proved Procter & Gamble's word of mouth arm, Vocalpoint, is a success and increases sales, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and Gary Ruskin's Commercial Alert are not pleased with Vocalpoint's army of 600,000 moms who spread buzz about P&G products and others because Vocalpoint does not require its "connectors" to disclose who they work for, a key tennet in the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Code of Ethics.
While disclosure certainly appears to be the ethical thing to do, the debate as to whether it affects success can be debated until Paris Hilton can remember the name of the product she's hawking. Vocalpoint CEO Steve Knox says the company takes what he calls the "high road" adding, "We have a deeply held belief you don't tell the consumer what to say." Ruskin calls Vocalpoint and other word of mouth marketing efforts hinder trust and are causing a "commercialization of human relations." WOMMA Founding Member, Nielsen BuzzMetrics CMO and former P&G Brand Manager Pete Blackshaw adds, "There are a lot of word-of-mouth programs in play now, many of which are unsavory. As the leader in the industry, P&G has a higher obligation to set the right standard."
- WE is promoting the upcoming season of Bridezillas with a character blog featuring various polls, wedding tips, quizzes, wallpapers and all that crap.
- Virgin Mobile wants you to adopt a mime.
- A new study from word of mouth agency BoldMouth and research firm Osterman Research surveyed marketers on their word of mouth and buzz marketing practices. It's new, it's hard to measure but it seems to work.
- CoBRANDiT has a new video culled from those who attended the recent Portfolio Night IV.
- Bluelithium's release of its new AdPath 2.0 behavioral targeting product has provided advertisers with 200 - 300 percent increases in click-through rates.
In really important news today, WOMMA's Andy Sernovitz has, reportedly, called BzzAgent CEO Dave Balter a dick. Read all about it here. It seems Sernovitz is miffed by all the publicity BzzAgent gets but Balter says that is no fault of his. It's just lazy journalists who hold BzzAgent up as the only practitioner in the space which, of course, is not true and Balter acknowledges that.. Ever since buzz marketing and word of mouth marketing started and back to the days of Justin Kirby (who seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet) there have been these in explicable tiffs among people in this space. I don't know if it's a young industry trying to define itself or the personalities of the people involved but I do know it's dumb and unproductive.