Around The Corner From Cinnabon


In what I predict will end as an idea whose time has not come.  Tesla Motors, which until now manufactured upscale (expensive) electric vehicles, has been opening stores in shopping malls during the past several months.

According to George Blankenship, who helped create Apple’s retail stores and now leads Tesla’s sales strategy, the objective is to engage people when they aren’t thinking about buying a car.  Imagine, you are shopping for nuts and candy at Buddy Squirrel, when you spy a “must have” $100,000 Tesla across the aisle.  Now imagine the person who could afford a Tesla push their way through bands of roving teenagers and power-walking seniors in order to get to the dealership only to have to wait for all the “lookie lous” with cinnamon syrup dripping from their fingers to get the hell out of the way.

There’s also the small problem of manufacturer owned dealerships.  Most states have laws prohibiting them. In fact, Chrysler was forced to sell off their flagship Los Angeles dealership last year because it violated California franchise laws.  The National Automobile Dealers Association is up in arms over Tesla’s move as well, fearing this might give other manufacturers ammunition to take similar steps despite the laws.  But since Tesla does not have a network of franchise dealers they may be able to skirt the issue.

Tesla has plans to introduce two new models including a “Crossover” priced 40% less than  current models.  Perhaps mall locations can drive sales of cars in the $40,000 range, but I wouldn’t count on mall foot traffic resulting in more sales than the traditional stand alone showroom on auto row.  Of course I could be wrong.  After all the “traditional” showroom sales model has changed quite a bit since the 1930s and 40s.  Enjoy!

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Hello Ladies, Does Your Ad Look Like Me?


ImageCopying the premise and style of a national advertiser for your local business is dumb and lazy.  It usually starts with a local advertiser telling the sales rep that the ad for (name the product) is cool.  A light bulb goes off in the sales rep’s head and sensing an easy sale says, “Why hells bells we could do that!”

Maybe this scenario didn’t play out for a Miami plastic surgeon, but the end result is the same.  I believe that anyone should be able to spend their money any way they wish.  But unless you are a plastic surgeon with tons of money to burn, I would strongly advise that you not spend your budget trying to rip off a national ad no matter how cute, funny, or popular the ad might be.

The good doctor uses a look-alike for Old Spice’s spokesman Isaiah Mustafa and starts the commercial by showing what looks like Old Spice Body Wash.  The first mental Image?  Old Spice.  Last mental image?  The Old Spice whistle.  The Proctor and Gamble folks are probably saying thank you very much as their attorneys start building a copyright infringement complaint.

Every business has a story to tell, good businesses have strong stories to tell.  Great businesses know how to bring those stories to life in their marketing.  It takes work.  Lets talk.

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The Following Emergency Is Brought To You By


Faithful readers know my feelings about the NASCARIZATION of America. On the other hand, selling ads beats the hell out of raising my taxes.   I’ve discussed School buses and highways but now fire engines are being considered as advertising vehicles (literally).  The city of Baltimore is facing a 48 million deficit for 2013 and is considering selling ads on emergency vehicles.

According to the Huffington Post, PETA has jumped on the bandwagon to be among the first to take advantage of this opportunity.

Now as a public service to other cash strapped municipalities, I offer the following potential sponsors for your consideration:

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Would You Call This A Spectacular Groupon Offer?


I signed up to receive Groupon offers, in order to keep my finger on the pulse of new marketing opportunities.  I’ve been under-whelmed.  There are only so many massage, facial, haircut, and manicure offers that I care to read about (the actual number is very close to zero).  Not to be deterred by my lack of participation in the Groupon experience, from time to time they send me “incentives” to pony up and buy something.

Today, I received notice that Groupon has a Spectacular deal for me from Barnes and Noble.  Ok I’ll bite… hmm… 50% off a $10 eGift card.  I can’t believe it – a five-dollar savings!!!  Stop the presses and let me catch my breath.  I don’t know how Groupon does it.  An offer this good just two weeks after sending me an offer that could have saved me $5 on a $10 certificate from Speedway (at current prices that would give me either a free gallon and a quarter of gas or a couple of jumbo hot dogs).

If Groupon wants to bribe me to get me to buy, they’re going to have to come up with better first time offers than that.  Saving five dollars isn’t enough incentive to bother filling out Groupon’s payment information in order to make a purchase.

If the lack of “WOW” isn’t enough, Groupon informs me in bold type that the deal cannot be purchased with promotional codes, gift codes, or Groupon Bucks. If you violate these terms, Groupon will refund your purchase and close your Groupon account.

I’m not a big fan of Groupon for most retailers.  While it has worked for some businesses, the downside of alienating your regular customers, and training customers to wait for a “deal” doesn’t outweigh the potential benefits.  But whether it’s Groupon or an incentive you create yourself, make sure your offer knocks the socks off of potential new customers.  Otherwise you’ll leave them feeling like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when he first used his Orphan Annie decoder…. “(sigh) A crummy commercial?”

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Don’t These Babies Need Changing?


If the new Healthy Hometown Kentucky ad promoting breastfeeding doesn’t put you off talking babies, nothing will.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but people please, let’s all work together to see if we can come up with an original idea.

I’ve never been a fan of E*Trade’s talking baby.  I realize that I’m in the minority since the baby has been “stocking up” so to speak since 2001.  Fortunately, Quiznos’ Baby Bob (circa 2005) only lasted about a year before he was retired.

Not to be deterred by a lack of creativity, advertisers have continued to beat this idea into the ground.  Nationally we’ve endured Just For Men, Babies.com and Evian (although to be fair, Evian’s roller babies don’t talk).

You may have been exposed to a version of this ad for Hawk Ford on your hometown airwaves.  But if you are fortunate enough not to live in Smithfield, Tennessee you haven’t had your head explode by watching this ad.

“Boy howdy Martha, ain’t that kid cute, just like that baby talkin bout stocks!”  Well actually your kid isn’t cute, the production values suck, and if your ad reminds people about another product or service you are most likely dumping your money down a rat hole.

Granted, it takes more time to figure out something powerful to say about your business. But it can be done because cute is a poor substitute for substance, cute done poorly is a train wreck and breastfeeding a baby with all those teeth is downright creepy.

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Twitter Please Check Your Algorithms.


I received an email the other day from Twitter.  I don’t use Twitter very often.  Actually. I have an account, that’s pretty much it.  The few people who follow me only hear a tweet when I post a new blog entry.  I don’t follow anyone most of what I need to know about what’s going on in the lives of my associates, friends and acquaintances I can pick up on Facebook (which I only check occasionally).

It appears that Twitter is concerned about my indifference and would like me to be more involved. They reminded me that Twitter generates personalized “Who To Follow” lists.  Big Whoop.  Then they gave me three suggestions.  Bigger Whoop.

Suggestion #1 – a woman who works for a media company although there were no tweets about media, but rather about the fact that she was pregnant along with numerous tweets back and forth with an American Idol contestant.   American Idol is one of the few things I have less interest in than Twitter.  To top it off she hasn’t posted since last October.

Suggestion #2 – some guy who works for a newspaper down south.  Most of his tweets relate to news headlines from Louisiana.  Sigh.

Suggestion #3 – Twitter suggests I follow Yoko Ono.  What the hell?  Compared to Yoko Ono, I’m madly in love with Twitter.  I wouldn’t follow Yoko Ono into an all you can eat lobster buffet.

Based on these suggestions, I can only assume that at some point in time Twitter will suggest that someone follow me for no apparent reason.  I wish them luck.

To be fair to Twitter, I haven’t shared much information with them so they are shooting in the dark.  But if your doctor did the same thing by giving you an injection and prescribes medication without asking questions he could be sued for malpractice.

I feel better now.

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Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy A Bridge?


What do stadiums, bowl games and highways in Virginia have in common?  The naming rights are up for grabs.  Beginning July first you will be able to put your name on roads and bridges in Virginia.  According to estimates, naming rights could generate over 27 million dollars in the first 5 years to help pay for building and repairing state highways. Image

Naysayers doubt that anyone would want to spend upwards of $200,000 to promote their business on congested highways, but this might be an ideal vehicle, so to speak, for the right products or services.

Mucinex®… 12 Hour Congestion Relief

Depends®… When You Gotta Go and the Traffic Won’t

Congress… We’ve Got Gridlock Down Cold

The Allstate Dental Bridge

The Gas-X® passing lane

You get the idea.  Generating twenty-seven million dollars in 5 years?  I don’t think so.  Once the initial novelty wears off, both the advertising impact and dollars generated will fade into insignificance.  If this is the best Virginia can do, drivers should embrace potholes.

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I Know You Are Trying To Help. But Please Butt Out.


Those wacky folks at the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine are at it again.  Last September they incurred the wrath of Green Bay fans and the makers of the famous cheese heads with a billboard touting the dangers of eating cheese.  Now they’ve erected a board in Chicago warning consumers that eating hot dogs can damage your health.

According to the PCRM the word “butt” was prompted by a survey showing that 39% of Americans do not know what the colon is.  That’s an amazing statistic but it pales in comparison to the number of Americans who do not know the proper use of a colon in writing.

But I digress.

Colorectal cancer is not a joking matter and March is Colorectal Cancer Month. The meat free powers that be are piling it on with news reports about red meat being harmful to your health, “pink slime” used as bulk material in hamburger and now this billboard.  Enough already.  It is more effective to promote screening than to attempt to reduce meat consumption.

Americans ate 20 billion hot dogs a year.  Chicago is one of the largest hot dog markets in the nation.  A billboard won’t change the statistics.  In any case, I’m not worried about meat but the neon green relish they use on those Chicago Dogs is another matter.

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A Rose By Any Other Name


A local businessman has big plans for his recently purchased restaurant.  He’s sinking $250,000 to remodel and expand the facility.  He plans on hiring about 70 people and is teaming up with one of the best markets in town to supply the meat.  He’s also changing the name of the restaurant from “Spokes” to the “Route 20 Outhouse.”

The owner says, “Changing the name to Route 20 Outhouse partly refers to Highway 20 (the location).  ‘Roadhouse’ was already taken, and this building is “on the outskirts of Racine, so I said, well, ‘Outhouse.’”

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. 

Unless he transforms the Motorcycle themed “Spokes” into an incredible dining experience that becomes a word of mouth machine, the mental images associated with outhouses are going to negatively affect his table turns. “Let’s go out to dinner at the Outhouse, two holes, no running water, and the Sears and Roebuck catalog to read while you wait.

This isn’t the only “Outhouse” around.  There’s a bar in northern Wisconsin, a restaurant in Toronto, a place in Fort Myers and someone has trademarked the name “Outhouse” for a restaurant in Ohio.

I hope he succeeds beyond his wildest dreams.  I also hope he changes his mind about the name.

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Online Advertising Needs?


I’m not sure anyone has an online advertising need.  Maybe improved ROI or better conversion rates, but online advertising needs?  I think not.  When selling products and services don’t use cliches to make your point.  This from a website:

One-stop shop for your online advertising needs. *** Media offers a range of products including Content-based Advertising that is distributed across our network, Search Engine Optimization & Search Engine Marketing, and High Impact Display Advertising

If their “High Impact” display advertising is as compelling as the text they use to promote their services it’s a pretty good bet that they’ve disappointed a lot of advertisers.  Spend some time and come up with a compelling call to action and watch your response rates take off.

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