It Does So Much More Than Just Tell The Time

How did I miss hearing about this?  Out of the funny papers and onto your wrist from Dinodirect; a watch that does everything but slice dice and mince onions all for about $200.  I’m not sure if this is a must have toy for my fat fingers or 50+ eyesight but I have to admit it’s pretty cool.  Touch Screen, FM, Bluetooth, MP3, MP4, camera, video, voice recorder, calendar, to-do list and on and on and on. About the only thing this model doesn’t have is WI-FI capability.  Evidently it’s waterproof too.

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The Newspaper (I don’t) Get It

Well it seems that the newspaper industry has finally caught up with the radio industry when it comes to dumb self-promotion.

In 2008 the Radio Advertising Bureau launched the “Radio Heard Here” campaign designed to underscore the broadening versatility of Radio’s content, the pioneering innovation of its technology and the continuing relevance of the medium in Americans’ lives.


Not to be outdone, the Newspaper Association of America has just launched the “Smart Is The New Sexy” campaign.   According to the NAA “It’s a campaign for what newspapers represent, whether they are in print, online or mobile.”


One ad shows a cartoon of a woman reading the paper with thought balloons depicting the earth, a capitol building and a piece of pie.  The caption reads.  “Be able to find Iran on a map.  Know what the city council is up to behind closed doors.  Find out how to make an icebox peanut butter pie from scratch.  Get it all in the newspaper, print or digital, because a little depth looks great on you.”

Sorry, but if you want to find Iran on a map type “Iran Map” in your browser.  Bingo no newspaper required.  Ditto the pie recipe and even the city council.  To be completely fair I subscribe to the Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for two reasons.  First, to have a physical crossword puzzle to work on every Sunday and to have something to read at breakfast the rest of the week.  If I need info I don’t read the paper I search for it on line.  So it’s up to the paper to make sure their content shows up in my search.

The NAA has also missed the boat so far in one other respect.  The campaign will run in newspapers, by people who are already reading the newspapers.  Unfortunately the font on the ads available on the Internet isn’t large enough to read.  Go figure.

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Worst Ad In America

For all the right reasons I love my DVR.

For the second year in a row the readers of the Consumerist have voted for the worst commercial of the year.  Last year, Staples “Wow” ad took the honors followed by the Quiznos “Kittens.”  This year Luvs “Poop There It Is” was voted the worst followed closely by AT&T’s “Mistake” ad.

Fortunately, I have only seen the Staples and the AT&T ads on television.  I am looking forward to the second ad in the AT &T campaign where the husband uses his unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes to tell the kids that mom won’t be around for Sunday dinner and to stay out of the greenhouse until the smell subsides.

When it comes to advertising, compelling tops simply cute and clever for results.

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When Shorter Ads Aren’t Better

It’s a 10-second radio ad.  It runs right before the news on one of the local stations.  It is a jingle.  I can’t tell you what business it is for.  I believe the ad says, “B & M at your service” followed by a phone number.  I’ve heard the ad a lot.  I’ve even stopped what I was doing and put my head next to the radio and listened carefully.  I’ve searched every combination of letters that sound like “B” and “M” on the Internet hoping to discover what they are at my service for.  No luck.  The area code is left out of the phone number.  I’ve tried both area codes in Milwaukee without any luck.  Even though I listened carefully I evidently wrote the number down wrong.

Most people are normal.  They are able to ignore stupid ads out and go on with their lives.   I am not normal.  This ad confuses – nay – vexes me.  I  don’t know why this advertiser runs 10 second ads.  If they are doing it to save money they aren’t saving anything.  Because every time that ad comes on, the business’ ad budget gets a little smaller and a small piece of my soul dies.  Make your ads no longer than they need to be, understandable and make a point the listener can respond to.  Response is so much better than rants.

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Advertising Has Gone to the Dogs

Nestlé Purina has launched an television ad campaign in Austria for it’s Beneful brand dog food.  I predict that the publicity the campaign generates will do more to sell the product than the ad will.  But whatever works, right?

It certainly isn’t a new idea.  Before the days of commercial broadcasting Ivan Pavlov won a Nobel Prize for driving his dogs crazy.

The Beneful ad includes a ‘squeaky toy” squeak, a high frequency tone similar to a dog whistle that only the dog can hear and a high-pitched “ping” which can be heard by dogs and people (unless you are an ex rock disc jockey).

Dr Sanders, of Nestlé Purina PetCare in Germany, notes the a dog’s reaction depends on the dog and dog owners experience.  Dogs who play with squeaky toys will react most strongly to the sound.  Duh.

The sound of a bag of dog food being opened made my dog quite excited, so did the phrase “Go Ride Car.”  And a friend’s dog would go absolutely crazy when someone mentioned the word “trolley car.”

If you are thinking of playing the ad for your dog remember the combination of the audio quality on You Tube and your computer speakers wipes out a great deal of the high end of the audio spectrum.   If you try it please report back.  I am currently in custody of a couple of cats and as we all know, cats don’t care.

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A Daily Deal Train Wreck

I’m not convinced that “Daily Deals” are an effective tool for acquiring customers.  But the insanity (stupidity) that passes for writing on one sight make my head explode.  Here’s an example I came across this morning for a pair of mini headphones. There isn’t enough time or space to go into what’s wrong with this “product description.”  I’m sure the writer has read the descriptions found on sites like Groupon and thought, “Hey I could do that!”  Unfortunately he can’t.

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Here’s My Beef

In 1984 eighty-one year old Clara Peller made advertising history when she uttered the slogan “Where’s the beef?”  Many times, shorter is better.  It only took Clara thirty-seconds to make the point that Wendy’s burgers were bigger than those from Burger King and McDonald’s.  Twenty-six years later Wendy’s has revived the slogan in a new series of ads.  Unfortunately, the 60-second “T-shirt/Here’s the Beef” ad will probably drive more people to the brink of insanity than to the drive-thru.

In a Twitter/Text world, ads need to grab attention and sell products quickly.  How many times do you have to hear, “Where’s the beef?” before you get it?  After forty-five seconds of “Where’s The Beef?” my head was ready to explode.  It’s annoying, fingers on the blackboard annoying, “Are we there yet?” annoying.  Please, for the love of God get on with it and show us the burger.

The best way to persuade and not perturb your audience is to make your ads only as long as they need to be to present information that your audience wants to know.  I’m going to go lie down now.

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Who Cut(out) The Cheese?

Bad weather on Monday delayed placement of this billboard sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

When the board went up on Tuesday it looked like this.

After Foamation (the maker of Cheesehead hats) threatened to sue, the PCRM decided to have the hat removed.  Frankly the press coverage that the board generated on behalf of the cheese-hating doctors was worth millions of dollars in publicity. I doubt the billboard will change anyone’s cheese eating habits but it has inspired a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s film, “The Seventh Seal.”

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Reebok Refunds

Maybe it is no loner better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.  Reebok has agreed to pay $25 million in customer refunds to settle charges by the FTC of deceptive advertising.

The ads for Reebok’s EasyTone® and RunTone® shoes claimed that the shoes would provide extra tone and strength to leg and buttock muscles.  In the past, advertisers received a slap on the wrist and made to promise they’d stop making unsubstantiated claims.

According to David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection “The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science.”  Twenty-five million will buy a lot of understanding.

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A Sales Problem Isn’t Always An Advertising Problem

Sales were down.  The Sales Manager explained that only 4 of his sellers had been with him for more than a year. I told him that was only the tip of the iceberg.  What is your turnover ratio?  Blank stare.  He had an average sales staff of 10 the previous year.  A total of 12 sales people left for one reason or another.  12 divided by 10 equals a 120% turnover.  Yikes.  Hours spent interviewing replacements. Even more hours spent training.  Not much time left to coach and encourage the “keepers” on the staff.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  Start measuring, start hiring better (more about that later) and start telling your “keepers” how much you appreciate them.

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