Career Builder’s Super Bowl Bomb

Part of the fun of the Super Bowl is watching and critiquing the television commercials.  This year an estimated audience of 106 million viewers tuned into the Big Game.  At a reported $3.1 million per :30 second commercial this is my selection for advertising bomb of Super Sunday: the sophomoric Casual Friday commercial for Career Builder. So if you were up getting more gumbo while it aired here it is:

To select this dazzler, Career Builder, a job search site, asked its users to select among several spots created to air for the Super Bowl through their Hire My TV Ad competition.  The “winner” is the work of videographer Matt Gahan.

I can’t imagine what marketing communications objective this fulfilled for Career Builder.  Yes, it’s memorable – but what does it communicate about the value of using Career Builder to find a new work situation?  The spot is juvenile and undoubtedly does not connect with talented individuals seeking top-level management positions.  Pereversly, this commercial has been voted one of the “Top Three 2010 Super Bowl commercials.” But did it transform viewers of the commercial into users of the site? I doubt it. Monster.com anyone?

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Branding in Massachusetts Senatorial Race

Massachusetts is sizzling.  Tonight we’ll learn if the citizens of Massachusetts elect a Republican Senator for the first time since 1972. Either Martha Coakley, the Democratic State Attorney General or Scott Brown, a Republican state Senator will fill the two-year term left by the untimely death of Edward M. Kennedy Jr. (Teddy).

What’s interesting to me from a marketing communications stand point is how well Scott Brown has branded himself as the “people’s candidate”  in an extremely short period of time. He has referred to the Senate seat as the “people’s seat” not Ted Kennedy’s seat; and his campaign is using social media tactics full-tilt: Google ads; Facebook and Twitter – the tactics and campaign strategy that propelled President Barack Obama into office. So why didn’t the Democratic election play book get handed down? Coakley’s campaign has a social media presence, but just that – a weak presence. It  appears that Coakley didn’t see Brown’s energized campaign hitting the streets as his ratings lit up the polls until this past weekend.  Former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama made weekend visits to Massachusetts to encourage Independents and Democrats to get out the vote. Coakley did make several missteps including identifying beloved Boston Red Sox pitcher and blogger Curt Schilling as a “Yankee fan” (that’s nuclear); and not getting out to the people and campaigning in the trenches early and hard enough.  There are more registered Independents in Massachusetts than there are Democrats or Republicans.  There is nothing like good political theater especially in Massachusetts where politics is a spectator sport.   There’s major drama going on in Massachusetts today where the weather is clear; the people are angry and motivated; and the Democrats 60-vote majority in the Senate is at stake.  Bravo Massachusetts.  We’re all watching and waiting.

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Life without Oprah

Thank goodness the reigning queen of talk show television, Oprah Winfrey, has given her audience almost two years to prepare for her departure from daytime television. With her relentless drive  for perfection Oprah’s daily talk show blended her quasi-religious blending of self-reliance, inspiration and mysticism with hard core topics such as child safety; pornography; personal finance; dysfunctional relationships; and mental health issues of every spectrum.  On daily for more than 23 years, Oprah, has redefined popular culture. She became a star-maker as she selected authors for her Oprah Book Club; endorsed products she loved on “Her Favorite Things”; and anointed the next generation of talk show hosts including Dr. Phil (please save us from him); Suze Orman; Dr. Oz and others.  What will life like without Oprah daily when she “retires” from day-time television on September 23, 2011? Well, different.  Oprah goes on to guide the Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with the Discovery Channel and I’m sure she will bring us in-depth programs on topics which she is passionate about and lead her audience into new directions.   And who is the late afternoon successor? The jockeying has begun as Dr. Phil; Suze Orman; Ellen DeGeneres; Tyra Banks; Bonnie Hunt; and others position themselves to be the successor to Oprah’s 5 p.m. EST time-slot.  Oprah’s departure could negatively impact the lead-in to CBS News, which hasn’t had out of the park success with Katie Couric as their 5 p.m anchor. Ah, it will be a brave new world on September 23, 2011 and I for one can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring in daytime talk show programming.  There’s only one Oprah.  The others are just pretenders.

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Is Traditional Media Dead?

Nope.  Traditional media, while not at the center of the audience universe it held decades ago, is not dead.  In fact, it’s generating serious revenue for clients as well as establishing them as thought leaders in their areas of expertise.   These were some of the key messages delivered during a PRSA/Vocus webinar, Does Traditional Media Still Matter?    Annie Jennings, CEO of Annie Jennings PR and Donald Wright, Professor of Public Relations at Boston College shared their professional insights with more than 1,000 listeners.  And guess what kids – traditional media is a foundation of the mix that provides a solid platform for social media.  The big three: TV, Radio and Newspapers are still reaching devoted and engaged readers and listeners that act (buy) on information delivered via these channels.  Social media offers communication professionals an outlet to amplify this coverage and content.  Annie Jennings emphasized the use of radio as an ideal outlet to allow clients to develop their skill sets for television.  Radio interviews are a conversation, which allows speakers to share their insights, direct listeners to their web site for more information and possibly sales conversion (Jennings practice focus is on authors). 

Donald Wright, Ph.d, Boston University, emphasized that research, measurement and evaluation are still the hallmarks of a solid quantifiable public relations campaign.  You still need to conduct the research to define: what is the problem? Lack of audience interest in your client’s product? Lack of awareness? It’s the “what” that needs to be answered.  Then a commuications plan can be developed using traditional and social media focused on the target audience to reach the client’s goals and objectives.  

What I find fascinating is the blending of traditional and social media.  One of my clients appeared on www.myfoxhoustonlive.com.  She was able to “chat” live with FOX 26 News audience members; and then was interviewed about her topic by the 5 PM anchors, Mike Barajas and Melissa Wilson live for less than a minute.  That conversation lead to an explosion of questions about the event, which translated into increased audience attendance.  We were in the studio for less than 45 minutes – but it was time well spent. 

Newspaper bloggers are another fascinating development in the past five years.  At The Houston Chronicle almost every reporter maintains an active blog.  It’s an insane job description.  Not only do they write for thenew paper; but they produce content – articles, video and photos for the Chron.com web site.  The paper’s leadership was at the forefront of developing an active on-line news product.  Frankly, it’s hurt the hard product – distribution and circulation are down; but the on-line edition is perking along.  Just how anyone makes money from it – other than the obnoxious pop-up advertising – is the next question to be answered.

In summary, social media has all the buzz – and it’s great if it meets your client’s bottom-line objectives.  But never overlook the power of telling your client’s story to a mass audience.  The media world is fragmenting; so you just need to stay on top of the media tsunami and keep your eyes on the horizon – meeting client goals and objectives.       

 

 

 

 

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Coca-Cola Museum – the temple of branding

The Coca-Cola Museum is one big smile.

The Coca-Cola Museum is one big smile.

Last month I had the pleasure of spending a morning inside The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.  It was a pleasant walk from the Ellis Hotel (which I highly recommend) to the museum located in Centennial Olympic Park.

Your guide orients you to the Coca-Cola Museum experience and then let’s you loose on a self-guided tour.  In the Hub, the lobby gathering space, the Coke Polar Bear came to life, to the delighted screams of Atlanta’s field tripping middle schoolers.

The woman is a Coke scientist from Houston.

The woman is a Houston-based scientist featured in Coca-Cola Connections.

The Brand
Coca-Cola was “born” in Atlanta in 1886 by Dr. John Pemberton.  The signature script of the Coke brand was developed by Pemberton’s bookkeeper Frank Robinson.
The signature script has endured for more than 123 years.

The signature script has endured for more than 123 years.

Coke became a national brand when Asa Candler bought the formula from Pemberton.  Strong advertising campaigns underscored the key message of Coca-Cola – a refreshing beverage to be enjoyed with family and friends.
Bottling plant inside the museum.  You receive a Classic Coke at the end of your visit.

Bottling plant inside the museum. You receive a Classic Coke at the end of your visit.

Coke Advertising

The museum showcases the Happiness Theater Factory, which was an intelligent and imaginative advertising campaign for the product.  But for me Coke advertising scored big with the 1971 advertising hit, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” which I can sing to you from memory.  Throughout the decades different slogans have appeared including “You can’t beat the feeling” and “The Real Thing” to today’s current campaign, “Open Happiness.”  But they don’t top the spirit of that commercial filmed on a hilltop in Italy in 1971.

Other highlights of the museum include the Secret Formula 4-D Theater with fantastic effects made more enjoyable by the screaming students; and the Coke inspired artwork of Steve Penley

Penley's Coke Bottle painting

Penley's Coke Bottle painting

The shape of the Coca-Cola bottle is an American icon.  Other artists have been inspired by its uniqueness including folk artist Reverend Howard Finster.
Coca-Cola bottle by Howard Finster

Coca-Cola bottle by Howard Finster

This Penley had more of an Impressionist feel

This Penley had more of an Impressionist feel

At the end of the tour you hit the Taste it! area which allows you to sample many of the 400 distinct brands Coca-Cola sells around the globe.  To me, some of the beverages had a clean, almost “not there” taste and others were overwhelming sweet.  The most delicious choice to me was Bibo from South Africa.

The soda dispensors in the Taste It! area

The soda dispensers in the Taste It! area

The World of Coca-Cola was an absolutley pleasant way to learn more about a beverage I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid.  For me ? Make mine a Diet Coke with Lime please.

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