Word of Mouth Becomes Parody

In just two days, word of mouth marketing has gone from highly noted ad medium of the moment, with a New York Times Magazine article, to parody with this little Brokentype piece that imagines the lengths to which the medium could go.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

Crispin Porter Ad Method Used For Method

With the likes of Subservient Chicken, Ask Crystal and Virtual Bartender, we need a name for this new form of "tell-it-to-the-website" advertising tactic. Our Miami friends Crispin Porter + Bogusky are at it again with a site called ComeClean for eco-friendly home care product company Method.

ComeClean, which promotes holiday sales for the company's skincare line, allows visitors to type in confessions which then appear on a hand, are commented on by a soothing Indian woman's voice and finally washed off by Method products.

The site includes the requisite send-to-a-friend feature (send to mom in this case) along with the ability to read other people's confessions and, of course, to visit the gift shop and order product. Good holiday fun.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

Debate Over Word of Mouth Advertising Rages

Over at Adland, DMC's Justin Kirby voices his opinion on the recent New York Times Magazine article on word of mouth advertising in which Boston-based BzzAgent is featured. Controversy swirls around the term transparancy and whether or not, as participants in a word of mouth organization, to disclose true motivations: trying to sell product by convincing people to give it a try.

The only reason natural word of mouth and viral distribution of information, which is nothing more than the forwarding of information from one to another - a behaviour which has occured since living beings learned to communicate - has been commercialized is because the advertising techniques of today and yesteryear no longer work.

Marketers are grasping at straws, fighting to keep their heads above water as consumers submerge them in an in a growing effort to shut them up and out of their lives for good. It's all simply an ongoing, multi-billion dollar battle of wills between marketer and consumer.

Marketers want eyeballs. Consumers want to tear marketer's eyeballs from their sockets. The model is broken and it is just getting worse.

We are in the pre-orgasmic throes of the Great Advertising Flame Out - a dynamic period just prior to the next great model which, perhaps - though unlikely, will rescue us from the capitalistic mess we are in right now.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

Debate Over RSS Advertising Rages

Many websites now publish their content using RSS or Really Simple Syndication which allows readers to "subscribe" to newsfeeds from web sites. The feeds are offered with either the headline, the headline and the first few words of the article or the headline with the full story.

Basically, RSS makes it very easy to get content from many different sources all in one place. If something in the RSS feed is of interest, a quick click takes one to the actual website to which the feed points.

Like any new communication channel, advertising is slowly seeping its way into RSS feeds and while some marketers are jumping aboard, many users are not happy about it.

Jason Kottke sent a query out to several RSS reader developers asking for their stance on RSS advertising and whether or not they have plans to integrate ad blocking into their software. The story is here along with reader comment.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

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Hooters Gets (More) Free Publicity

Not that it needs it, but Hooters got some free advertising courtesy of Avril Lavigne during a recent Holloween concert. Pictures (http://www.alavigne.org/thumbnails.php?album=726 - live link removed due to reports of spyware being installed when visting this site) of "punk" hottie Lavigne dressed in a Hooters uniform have been circulating for a while but a video has just surfaced. It might just be us but she looks far better as a Hooters hottie than she does in her grunged-up excuse for punk wardrobe. Of course, if she actually had hooters, it would be even better.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

Message Boards Missed Marketing Opportunity

A reader fans the embers of a simmering issue with us and that is company's inability to engage in conversation with its customer base.

We're not saying all communication has to be a conversation because there are certainly times when a little one way shouting is the best way the market. But with the proliferation of online forums and message boards for every conceivable topic, brand and product, it's a mystery why marketers have not jumped on this goldmine of customer contact.

If a company were to spend its entire marketing budget to create a "consumer conversation" department, we'd venture to say the ROI would far exceed that of a traditional marketing campaign. As we've written before:

If a customer were to say, "the hose on my Kenmore vacuum always gets twisted because the connection between the handle and the hose doesn't turn," the correct response is "I'll run over to Jim's (hose designer) office and see what he can do and get back to you" and not "Well, we've designed it that way so that the hose won't lose too much suction."

Give a shit. Basically, that's what this boils down to. Consumers are not a vast collection of numbers on a spreadsheet or a nice collection of 5 categories with silly marketing names like "early, suburban adopter." They are people with real concerns that will, ultimately, lead to a better product. Listen and give a shit. That's good marketing medicine.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

Cat Gets MBA, Spammers Sued

A group claiming to be Trinity Southern University of Plano, Texas run by Craig Barton Poe, Alton Scott Poe, and Innovative Cellular and Wireless has been sued by Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert for issuing fake college degrees. The group runs an online university where visitors can get college degrees for fees ranging between $299 and $499 simply by filling out a few forms.

Investigators infiltrated the group by using a cat's name while applying for a degree. The cat, named Colby Nolan, applied for a bachelors degree in business administration for $299. Investigators received a return email informing them Colby had enough experience to be awarded an MBA - as long as he sent another $100.

The state wants a permanent injunction, civil penalties, costs and restitution for violating law and restrictions on unsolicited email ads of which prosecutors say 18,000 were sent this year.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04    

Band Aid to Cover Heathrow

We know its been two decades but we hope you know we're not talking about the sticky kind of Band Aid here but rather the musical kind. Yes, it's been 20 years since Bob Geldof first wrote the famous charity tune in 1984 to raise money for starvation in Ethiopia. On November 14 this year, he gathered together the likes of Chris Martin, Dido, Thom Yorke, Bono and Paul McCartney to re-record the hit - this time to alleviate famine in Sudan.

To help promote the single during the Holiday season, a gigantic "ground banner," visible from the air by 190,000 passengers a day, has been placed on a field at Heathrow airport in London. The message will read "Congratulations Band Aid on reaching No. 1" and will remain as long as the single keeps its top spot. While some are up in arms over the new single with websites describing how to digitally destroy the recording, others are pleased with the effort. The single has shot to the number one slot on Billboard's UK chart.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 7-04