2010, 2011 PRSA WI Paragon Award of Excellence

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A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends, news from the world of puppets and ventriloquism, bits of humor and other interesting but useless information. I post every Tuesday and Friday.
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March 2008 - Posts

Get Out and Vote

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet

Potato Tunes
  You probably already know this, but 2008 is the United Nations International Year of the Potato! You didn't know that?  Where have you been? Anyway, this special occasion gives you the perfect excuse to watch Cheryl Wheeler and the Spudding Taternacle Choir sing "Potato". It's an amusing way to spend a minute (which is exactly how long the video is). 

An Ad That Gets It Right ... Sort Of
I debated a long time whether or not to include an ad about a body strengthening supplement that I recently ran across. After all, it was in a health publication, so I figured it would be okay.  But just to be sure I ran the ad past three of B&M's female staff members to get their opinion. "Too edgy," was their unanimous vote. So you'll have to click below to see the ad. But be forewarned.  It's "edgy," and I certainly don't want too offend anyone. And I don't want anyone canceling their feed to my blog just because they viewed an ad that appeared in a health publication and decided that it was distasteful.  So you must take responsibility for looking at the ad ... or not looking at it.   

The reason the ad caught my attention was because a couple of weeks ago I critiqued a poorly designed trade ad that did not take full advantage of a well thought out photo and headline (a visual from that  ad is included below). The Relubro ad unnecessarily cluttered up white space with too much copy and diluted the ad to the point where it was totally ineffective. (See my post from March 13, 2008)

Well like it or not, the ad for body strength supplement Gaspari Nutrition knows its audience and got it right.  Headline ... visual. Not much copy. End of story. But even I have to admit that the over-the-top sophomoric double entendre headline goes a bit too far. The company recruited Marzia Prince, 2007's Ms. Bikini Universe, for the ad and I guess they wanted to make sure that they got their money's worth. Now for some reason I have an urge to go buy a box of Gaspari Nutrition. Click here to see the ad ... or not. 

Dieting Isn't What it Used to Be
For a lot of reasons, I'm glad I'm a puppet and not a person. For example, I don't have to watch what I eat. You do. And you probably don't even know what's good for you. Take diet soda.  Less calories, so it should help to keep the weight off, right? Wrong.

A recent study found that rats given saccharin-sweetened yogurt gained more weight than rats that ate yogurt with sugar. It was a fascinating finding suggesting that faux-sugar can kick-start the body's metabolism in a way that leads to overeating. And now the Los Angeles Times is back with an in-depth look at what it all means for its non-rodent readers. The study's authors say that "by interfering with what sweet taste means, artificial sweeteners upset an ancient physiological system that evolved to regulate food intake and energy use." 

It's all tremendously complicated. Nevertheless, if I had a rat around the house, I think I'd switch it to an all-natural soda ... if there is such a thing.

A Bridge to Favre
I purposely stayed away from the Favre hoopla. I figured others could cover it better than me. After all, "legends write their own stories". But then our friend Gene Mueller at WTMJ caught me off guard with this.

"It's a huge story, to be sure, but one that's reducing grown men to tears?!?  C'mon. Then, the music wafted out of the TV speakers...a few piano notes, and then her voice. It was Deanna Favre's pre-game tribute to her husband, rolled moments before kick-off against Denver last autumn.  I was good until the part where they showed little Brett, toddling around with Big Irv. It's only a minute long, but see how far you get." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWbNgIc2TVM

Especially to many of us in WI, Brett Favre will forever be more than a football player. He will be one of us. But he will never "pass" this way again. And even a Mannequin American like me is saddened by that reality.


It's In The Can
Ventriloquist on Oprah
Terry Fator recently appeared on OPRAH. Click to see video! The clip is on the Axtell site, so after you've watched Terry you can purchase a puppet! 

Internet Use at the Office
   According to recent studies, Facebook has become one of today's biggest workplace distractions.  Apparently there are a lot of people out there who need to get real lives.

Facebook attracts upwards of 30 million unique visitors every month for up to an hour at a time, second only to MySpace as the world's top social networking site. And office workers represent the fastest-growing demographic. It's estimated that U.S. employees spend nearly an hour a day on personal Internet use, including everything from checking e-mail to watching YouTube.  (By the way, reading my blog during work hours does not constitute "personal internet use time". This blog contains news, marketing how-to tips, trends and examples, plus office-friendly hilarity which releases endorphins into your system, thus making you more productive and informed. Keep this handy in case your boss catches you reading my blog.)  

While many employers use severe filtering and tracking systems to dissuade employees from internet surfing, other employers are now striving to strike a balance with employees. These companies rely on new software that tracks employee Web use but includes an unmonitored, personal-time feature for lunchtime and other approved breaks during the day. Pop-up windows tell workers when the feature is activated and how much private time they have left. That seems fair to me ... especially with all of the ahhh, research ... yeah, that's it ... research that I do on the Web.

If You Want That Attractive Plumber to Visit, Don't Buy a Kohler Toiler

I have a warm spot in my heart for Kohler Company. For more than 20 years I have appeared at Kohler sales meetings, distributor meetings, tradeshows and other events. I've also worked as editor for a number of their internal and external newsletters. It's a first-class company with first-class people.

The Bold Look of KOHLER TV ads are frequent award winners. Here's the newest commercial. It's attention-getting, clever, memorable and brings out the sophomoric thought process of a lot of guys who would do anything to meet an attractive plumber.   

Cottonelle Wants to "Be Kind to Your Behind"
Continuing with potty-related marketing, Cottenelle has launched a campaign called "Be Kind to Your Behind".

The company's Comfort Haven bus, which will travel across North America, will be part of Kimberly-Clark's biggest non-traditional marketing campaign ever. The bus is outfitted like the Cottonelle Puppy. It features "relaxation stations" where people can see first-hand -- and hopefully in privacy -- how soft and comforting Cottonelle can be.

See the amusing TV spot and associated outdoor print. (Some of the print copy is pretty humorous too. But because it's primarily on mass transit, the attached examples are a little difficult to read.)

And for 3 in a row ...
Because Really, Toilet Paper's Overrated

Just before I posted this blog I ran across an article about how Greenpeace doesn't like Cottonelle's "Be Kind to Your Behind" campaign that is mentioned above.

Big shocker. But it does prove that manufacturers and marketers have to be prepared with a response for almost anything. The demonstrators above showed up at one of Cottonelle's Comfort Haven bus stops. (I can't imagine what the Greenpeace mooners use if they don't use toiler paper. I guess I don't want to know ... but I do want to know who they are so that I don't shake hands with them.)



Wrap Rage Cure
Get a Free B&M Highlighter!
Each post on this blog attracts between 250-300 loyal readers. We'd like to get that number to 500. The only way that is going to happen is if you get someone to sign up to receive the blog via email or RSS feed.  So while supplies last, anyone who gets someone to sign up to receive my bi-weekly blog, will receive one of these extremely exquisite B&M highlighters. (I'd like to offer you a car, but I'm on a budget.)

Email me at chip.martin@bmpr.com to let me know the name of the friend or business associate who signs up to receive this blog. I'll check our records to make sure that they've signed up and voila!, you'll receive this extraordinary gift ... while they last. You can send friends and business associates to http://www.dale-brown.com/ and they can simply click on the "blog" button.  Do it now! Thanks!

Dunham to be in Rockford, IL
I know that many vent fans read this site. So you may be interested to know that there are still a few seats available for Jeff Dunham's concert in Rockford, IL on May 2nd. Go to
http://www.jeffdunham.com/ and click on "tour dates" for details.

Games Sometimes Bring People to Your Web Site
There are a lot of web sites out there using games to attract visitors and to promote products and services. Here are two such sites.

How to get new blood into a casino:

- Promise free money to new prospects
- Launch an addictive but impossible
game (extra points: call it a "challenge!")
- Infuse game with cheery casino noises
- Slip online casino URL right under "try again" button
- Sit and let simmer. With time, a gateway drug almost always conceives an addiction

Ever fantasize about one-upping your boss?   Play Dodge the Boss instead.  The game is simple but delightfully time-consuming. Use your mouse to avoid the boss-men without touching any of the sides. Put together for Galaxy FM's "Love Music Love March" campaign, dodging the boss as long as possible could land you tickets to see the sultry Kylie Minogue in Paris.

Does This Sell Beer?
This TV ad, Tipping Point, was released just in time for St. Patrick's Day. I don't know if it sells much Guinness, but it kept me watching. A domino effect travels from a luxury office through the interior of a village.

 Wrap Rage Cure
Ever struggle to open one of those clam shell packages? Well, struggle no more. For its Wrap Rage Cure campaign, which prescribes the Open It! tool for people who suffer from package-opening rage, the Zibra Company won a Gold Addy for Interactive Media. The company spent a lot of cash to promote this new product ... and it will give you an idea of what it takes these days to get noticed, to gain some buzz and to get a product introduction off the ground.
   The Wrap Rage Cure campaign http://www.wrapragecure.com/index.html included:

  • 1. mock case studies,
  • 2. radio and
  • 3. interactive spots.
    (I think Dale has an old fashioned pair of pruning shears that could accomplish the same thing. But I don't allow pruning devices in the house. I almost lost a limb to one of those buggers.)



A Job Worse Than Mine

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet

Where to Find Lost Productivity
This could be a milestone year for lost productivity during the NCAA tournament. Last year American businesses lost an estimated $1.2 billion in worker productivity during the games. And that was before the Internet feed was as widely available or of as high quality as it will be this year. So the tournament's early rounds are likely to evolve from a shared screw-off venture - people crowded into bars and huddled into break rooms - to a solo one with everyone quiet in their cubicles.

The good folks who allow us to see the tournament on our computers have even programmed a "boss button" which enables workers who are sneaking a peak at the games to dump the screen when their supervisor comes by looking for signs of actual employment-related activity.  Here's what pops up on your screen when you hit the "boss key."

No wonder we're in a recession.

We Attracted Crowds and Superheroes to the Society Exhibit
Dale and I have represented Society Insurance at the Wisconsin Restaurant Show for more than a decade.  I really enjoy working for Society Insurance. It's a class company with a very talented group of marketing reps. It's truly a pleasure and fun working with them.  However, tradeshow work is tough duty, especially if you're a puppet. I have to be familiar enough with the company and its products so that I can converse intelligently with show attendees. And I'm expected to be continuously witty ... all the while having Dale's hand in my back. And when show traffic experiences a lull, we literally end up talking to ourselves.   

As usual, this year we attracted more than our share of prospects, customers and media.  On the last day of the show we even attracted a superhero. Spiderman took a break from working at a nearby exhibit and had his representative ask if he could have his picture taken with us. Naturally we said, "Yes".  Then we thanked him for saving the world ... and for selling software, which is why he was at the show.

I have to admit that the person inside the Spiderman costume made me feel better. It was nice to meet someone who has a worse job than mine.  I decided to post his picture so that the rest of you can feel good about yourselves too.
Even Spiderman was attracted to the Society Insurance Exhibit at this year's Wisconsin Restaurant Show

How to Communicate Without Using Many Words
I'm a big fan of white space. Ads and web sites that cram as much as they can into available space under the misguided belief that people will actually read them look unprofessional and are usually ineffective.

Generally, billboards are forced to make good use of white space. But even in that media some creators seem to believe that everyone is a speed reader and blessed with binoculars for eyes.

Ads that make use of white space to stop readers in their tracks to figure out what's going on get my attention ... especially when the lack of words actually serves the intended message. Take this Swedish McDonald's two-page spread which promotes the chains' enormous coffee servings, with the words, "Extra Large Coffee" in the lower right hand corner.  

It takes awhile to get this almost blank ad.  Reducing the size of the actual ad makes it even more difficult, so I'll help. If you look at the corners of the page you'll notice stains from a giant coffee cup. Get it?

Here's another winner. It's for a French Wonderbra, which is the only word on the page. But you have to stare at the photo awhile before grasping the humor.

And finally, this Japanese ad for the E3 camera with "The Fastest Autofocus" (which are the only words at the bottom of the page) grabs attention and again makes the reader think ... which should result in "remembering".

If white space isn't sufficiently saucy for you, the latest McDonald's campaign in Sweden has gone all red. 
The ad -- which ran full-page in major Swedish newspapers, reads, "We don't hire Turks, Greeks, Poles, Indians, Ethiopians, Vietnamese, Chinese or Peruvians."

In small print at the bottom of the page: "Nor Swedes, South Koreans or Norwegians. We hire individuals. We don't care what your surname is. Because ambition and determination have nothing to do with your nationality. McDonald's is one of the most integrated companies in Sweden, with as many as ninety-five nationalities working for us. Join us at mcdonalds.se."

I guess everyone should have an equal opportunity to flip those patties over.  

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