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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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July 2009 - Posts

Why Businesses Must be Aware and Wary of Social Media

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.
My Background
What I Do
About Brown & Martin, Inc.

A Brand That's Spot On ... Unlike the U.S. Auto Industry

If you're not a race fan, you've probably never heard of Junior Johnson. He learned how to drive cars very fast while hauling family-produced moonshine and outrunning the authorities in his native North Carolina mountains. Johnson was never caught delivering moonshine. However, Johnson was arrested by federal tax agents while making moonshine and served time in jail. He took his driving skills to NASCAR, where he became one of stock car racing's early superstars in the 1950s. His outlaw status enhanced his reputation and his brand.

Since ending his racing career, Johnson has taken his carefully cultivated country boy, outlaw image and turned it into a brand that makes sense. As you'll see in the above picture, he has a line of pork skins and country hams, and recently he launched a legal moonshine brand, called Midnight Moon. Junior Johnson knows his audience and clearly knows an appropriate brand extension when he sees it.

One of the reasons that U.S. automakers are in such trouble is that they tried to be all things to all drivers. Sorry, but you can't have every carbon-based unit as a target market. Try to please everyone and you end up pleasing no one. BMW has maintained brand integrity - for the most part - and it's doing OK.  Corvette, a division of GM, has maintained a consistent brand identity, aimed at fulfilling the expectations of a specific market segment. As a result, it's a successful GM product line, among heaps of GM failures.

Of course new government regulations aimed at dictating what kinds of cars U.S. drivers must choose from, may well lead the auto industry down the path that government-run Russian auto manufacturers took decades ago ... resulting in the worst designed cars in history ... and the total collapse of the car industry in Russia.

It's kind of mind boggling that after a free marketplace made the U.S. the strongest economy in the world, some lawmakers now want to tell rmanufacturers what they must produce and what buyers must buy. That hasn't led any other country to dominance ... but hey, who knows? Maybe this will be the one time it works. 

Puppets Are People Too

If you liked the "Count" video from my previous blog, you'll like this 30 second spot. Puppets are people too. From Collegehumor. Racism is not cool.

Offensive or Effective?

This ad is being run in the UK to help convince people to clean up after their dogs. Does it work?

Well, dog poop problems have been cut in half since the Torbay Council poster started appearing in April. It got results ... but I doubt if we'd be so bold here in the U.S.  And I'm never going to eat chocolate again.

"The Ugly Truth" isn't Ugly at All ... it's Funny

The restaurant orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally has been updated and made more entertaining in The Ugly Truth. Click here to see Katherine Heigl provide her version of restaurant hotness.  When I first linked to this video it was 2 1/2 minutes long. That version has since been removed from the internet. This version is only about 30 seconds, but you'll get the idea.

My New Favorite T-Shirt

Okay, I admit that I'm a sucker for ETrade commercials that use the baby. My favorite is the golfing baby.  "You moved your ball!"  "It was on the cart path! Why don't you try reading the rules, Shankopotamus?!"

So thanks to Leslie, I now have a new favorite T-shirt. And a great Christmas gift for some of my golfing buddies!  Click here to find this shirt and others including "I would go fishing with Denny Crane."

Another Example of why Businesses Need to be Aware of the Power of Social Media

I wasn't going to write about this because it's been covered so much by other news outlets. But I've received so many emails from readers about it, that I changed my mind.

A year ago Dave Carroll and his band flew United Airlines to Nebraska ... connecting in Chicago's O'Hare. Apparently while seated in the plane at O'Hare, the band and others saw the band's equipment being tossed on the tarmac in a very harmful manner by baggage handlers. (I can relate. I've been there. Really, I've been in the luggage when they kick it off the plane!) Sure enough, when he reached his destination Carroll found his Taylor guitar had been destroyed by the airline.

After a year of unsuccessfully trying to get United to fess up to their negligence, Carroll turned to what he did best ... he wrote a song about the incident. Then he produced a video. Then he put it on YouTube. It's darn funny. As of this posting the song has over 3 million views and has been featured on countless national and regional radio and TV news programs. It continues to be the focus on consumer programs, blogs, tweets, emails ... you name it. Click here to see and hear his song.

Needless to say, United has now offered to replace the guitar. Too late. Way too late. Carroll requested that they simply make a donation to one of his favorite charities.

One incident not handled correctly by company representatives resulted in United getting not just a little bad publicity ... but worldwide bad publicity. And that bad publicity continues to this day on YouTube.  It won't go away for a long, long time.

Businesses need to understand that customers now have a worldwide forum for their complaints. If issues aren't' handled properly customers can use that forum to gain attention. Once that happens, it's often too late to implement damage control. The company's image and sales will be impacted. And when the complaint is spread as skillfully and as funny as this one is, the impact is that much more disastrous for the business.

The moral: Be honest and fair with customers. Otherwise, chances are slim that your disaster plan will be able to adequately respond to the consequences.

                    What did you say?!


Squeaky "Green" Marketing

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.
My Background
What I Do
About Brown & Martin, Inc.

How Michael Jackson Saved Sesame Street
Everyone else has blogged about Michael Jackson, so I may as well add something ... puppet-related.

Long before MJ became the poster child for many things creepy, he crossed paths with the Muppets. He made a brief appearance in A Special Sesame Street Christmas.  But he had one other very significant connection to Sesame Street.

When the show produced "Letter B," a parody of The Beatles' "Let It Be", the song unfortunately was too similar to the original. Northern Songs, which owned the Beatles' library, threatened to sue the Children's Television Workshop (CTW) for $5.5 million. (Nice guys.) Thankfully, before the case went to trial, Michael Jackson swooped in and purchased the Beatles catalog. He didn't pursue legal action, and CTW was only fined $50.

Tack that on as one of the many, many ways Michael Jackson left his mark on the world. Thanks to ToughPigs for the info.

Memories of the First Mobil Marketing Vehicle

I'm proud to live in the state that is the official home of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobiles. (There are six of them, and you can track where they are on the Wienermobile web site.) During their existence, millions of wiener whistles have been distributed (The originals were deemed choking hazards ... now they're prized by collectors) and "The Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle" and "The Oscar Mayer Bologna Song" became part of Americana.  Dale tells me that he can still remember the thrill of seeing the Wienermobile in parades and at special events.

On July 6, Oscar G. Mayer died at 95. He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods. Although now owned by Kraft Foods, the Mayer family has remained involved with the company.

While the modern world (childhood obesity, PETA rants against the vehicles, trendy vegetarianism, etc.) complicates the Wienermobile's mission, the original concept was simply to create the first mobile-marketing instrument. The company wanted something that would bring smiles to kids' faces and help differentiate the brand. It's accomplished those things and more.  Thanks for the memories, Oscar Mayer. And thanks for sticking with something that works.

USS New York

The USS New York will be commissioned in November. Seven and a half tons of steel from Ground Zero are welded into the bow of the ship. The motto of the ship is: Strength Forged through Sacrifice: Never Forget

An apt motto for all Americans ... even a Mannequin American. 

I Love to "Bleep"

Choose one word. Bleep that one word out of a song. What happens? I'll tell you what happens. Sesame Street's Count becomes an X-rated singer who's hysterically funny. Click here to laugh. And remember, it's all in your head. He says nothing wrong or offensive. From Collegehumor.

Squeaky Green Marketing

Earlier this month residents of New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia awoke to find their cities had been targeted with a new, cutting edge form of marketing: GreenGraffiti. Not only that, but a scavenger hunt ensued, and those who spotted these GreenGraffiti logos won free pizzas.

Domino's is one of the first companies to use GreenGraffiti in America. Green graffiti is applied by placing a stencil on the sidewalk and then pressure washing the cut out so the message applied is simply a cleaner version of the area around it. So, no paint, no chalk and no dye. Completely environmentally friendly ... except for maybe some eye pollution from too many ads.

It's one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" ideas. I'm surprised that a pressure washer manufacturer (preferably one that uses Kohler Engines) hasn't started using this tactic near retail outlets. Man I should have gotten paid for that idea.


"Naked" Hand Puppets Make the World a Better Place

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.
My Background
What I Do
About Brown & Martin, Inc.

Top 10 Subject Line Words that get Opened

Email list manager provider
MailerMailer released its bi-annual Email Marketing Metrics Report recently. The report revealed what the company claims to be the most popular words used in subject lines, with regards to attracting readers to open the message.

According to MailerMailer's report, the top ten words are:

1. news
2. party
3. newsletter
4. free
5. night
6. sale
7. com
8. update
9. holiday
10. week

It's an interesting list with a few words that I would never have thought would entice someone to open an email. But the report is very informative and we've incorporated some of the suggestions in email marketing tools that B&M creates for clients. After all, email marketing is the most cost-effective use of CRM data. To learn more just email me at chip.martin@bmpr.com

Recession Lessons Your Family Can Incorporate

Most everyone has been touched (or hammered) by the recession. On the "up" side you may be able to use the firsthand experiences gained from your workplace, at home. Here's the way I see the conversation going.

"I've called this family meeting with some unfortunate news. As you know, we've just lost our main source of revenue ... my job.  So we had to make some tough decisions.

"Jeff, as the eldest child you can stay, but with 33% fewer meals. Karen, I'm sorry to say, your position as a daughter in this household has been deemed redundant. Since you were the last in, we thought it fair to let Leslie keep her position as first daughter. However, because you have been here for 8 years, you qualify for a severance package, which includes placement assistance into a foster family. Feel free to use me as a reference. Really, I mean that. And thank you for all your cuteness and unconditional love. Best of luck.

"Jeff and Leslie, your allowances will obviously have to be eliminated. And in addition to carrying out your own chores we'll expect you to pick up all of the chores that were previously Karen's responsibility. And you'll have to spend more time at home helping your mom and me. I know asking you to do more for less seems a bit callous, but you should feel fortunate not to be Karen.

"We don't have any money to spend on marketing my skills to prospective employers so I don't expect things to improve for quite some time.  

"We're all in this together and I don't want any of you to worry about the future. Just focus on being as productive as possible and I'm sure when the economy improves, things will slowly get back to normal."

Yup. Let's put that corporate culture to work at home!

Progress is Overrated

I've sent you to Post Shredded Wheat's Webisode series at The Palace of Light before. The cereal's commercial, "We Put the ‘No' in Innovation" has received a lot of accolades for its humor and effectiveness.

The latest 2 minute Webisodes are hilarious ... especially episodes 4 and 5.  Here's a bit of dialog from Shredded Wheat's President about why he doesn't believe in advertising.

"Advertising confuses affluence. Do you know what affluence is in some countries? It's two cows and a really big wife. Not here. Here it's two sports cars and wife so thin that she blows over in a 20 mph gust. How the hell did our society get to the point where being malnourished was a goal?! I'll tell you how. Advertising!"

Believe me, it's funny stuff. Click here to go to the Web site and then click on the appropriate episodes. You'll laugh out loud more than once. And then you may go out and buy some Shredded Wheat!

YouTube Loses Half a Billion Dollars
From The Independent: Despite having close to 350 million users worldwide per month, YouTube is set to lose almost half a billion dollars this year. And it's your fault.

YouTube is expected to take in around $240 million in revenue from advertising this year. The problem is that this sum doesn't come close to covering the site's operating costs. Every minute of the day there are over 20 hours of video uploaded to YouTube ... mostly of guys filling balloons with farts. The costs involved with maintaining servers, bandwidth, software, etc, is astronomical. If it weren't for YouTube's parent, Google, being willing to bleed money to hold onto it as a property, YouTube would already be dead.

So whose fault is this? According to The Independent, it's yours! And mine. Apparently we've become spoiled brats who refuse to pay for any content online. (Except for porn, of course.) Nor are we interested in the advertisements that pop up while we're Web surfing.

After reading that passage. let's all take a second to look at ourselves in the mirror. You feeling slightly guilty? No? Me neither.

But it's rather disturbing that YouTube and social media venues like Facebook and Twitter have yet to figure out how to turn a profit. And to some, it's disturbing that agencies push clients to spend considerable amounts of their marketing budgets in those areas, without proof of a good ROI.

I have no answers. If I did I wouldn't be putting them on this blog. I'd be calling YouTube.

"Naked" Hand Puppets Help Make the World a Better Place
If you like "naked" hand puppets or are into "green" initiatives you may find this interesting.

If There's One Thing I've Learnt asks key people in sustainability, design and innovation industries what they've learned about how they can make the world a better place. Then they share the collected wisdom via very odd, but sometimes humorous-looking "naked" hand puppets.  I have no idea why. But the puppets alone are worth a look.


Social Media Needs Traditional Media

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.
My Background
What I Do
About Brown & Martin, Inc.

"Life's a pitch, and then you buy." Billy Mays

With their khakis and rolled-up long-sleeve blue shirts, pallbearers gave a fitting homage to the uniform that was almost as memorable as Billy Mays' well-manicured beard. Mays died at his home June 28 from apparent natural causes.

According to the Associated Press, which distributed the photo, Mays' eulogy covered everything from childhood memories to his devout Christian faith to his personal mantras. A one-of-a-kind pitchman, Mays will likely live on in his famous commercials ... which are now even more famous.

Direct-response marketers will launch at least three new products with ads produced before his death, apparently with the Mays family's blessing. While saddened by his passing, DRTV marketers cite numbers showing that Mays' ads are producing response rates as good -- or in some cases better than -- before his death. Mr. Mays, they believe, would have wanted it this way.

Social Media Calls on Traditional Media for Help
Here's a trend that I think is interesting. Some large digital and social media agencies, which have 250 or more employees, have begun buying traditional advertising/PR agencies. Why? Because they've found that without traditional marketing expertise, they're at a distinct disadvantage. And therein lies a major weakness of new media.

Social media, digital and online venues are not marketing "solutions." They are merely marketing "tools," the same as special events, print, TV, movie theaters, outdoor, direct mail, and other options are "tools."  No single "tool" is a marketing panacea.  If you're an expert at only one or two "tools" your clients need to go elsewhere to get complete programs. Successful marketing strategies typically incorporate many "tools" ... all reinforcing one another.

Marketing hasn't changed. Marketing options have been added. But marketing success is still based on traditional marketing concepts.  And if your BtoB customers aren't tweeting, or on Facebook, there's probably no need for you to be there either.   

How-to Books Back in Stock

Dale's best selling how-to books for ventriloquists are back in stock. All of these books are based on workshops that Dale and I have conducted at the International Ventriloquists' Convention, regional clown conventions, magic conventions and performer conferences across the country. Click on any of the links for more information.

Writing Original Comedy Dialogs for Ventriloquist Characters (our most popular course)

Making It Up As You Go - Ad-Libbing and Audience Participation

Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is - Getting Those First Paying Jobs

Hardee's "A" Hole, or "B" Hole

If you've ever wanted to see a commercial with passersby on the street saying "A-hole" over and over, Hardee's has made your dream come true.

In a taste test, regular donut holes are marked A, and Biscuit Holes are marked B. (Can you see what's coming?) People say they like the B-holes best because "the A-hole seems kind of small," "the A-hole is bad" and "the A-hole tastes funny."  

I can't decide whether it's clever or nasty. But it's funny. Click here to see the A-hole commercial.

The Bikini Turns 63

Louis Réard created the bikini 63 years ago. The first one was made with a newsprint fabric and consisted of a halter and a tanga. The name bikini is associated with the atomic bomb. You'll have to go to Wikipedia to find out why.

American women spend nearly a billion dollars each year on bikinis. (The less bikini, the more you pay. What a great business strategy.) But according to fashion historian Olivier Saillard the bikini became popular not because of the power of the fashion industry but because of the power of women. "The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women."

Whatever the reason behind the bikini's popularity, it's appears from the tan lines on the model above that she had not worn such a revealing swimsuit before.

Engaging Outdoor Marketing Effort

St Trinian's star Talulah Riley (who?) kissed a frog to find her Prince last week as the iconic signs in Piccadilly Circus went green for climate change in honor of "The Prince's Rainforests Project."  (I assume the pavement is marked so that others can pose with the sign and have their photo taken kissing the frog.)

In an earlier post I featured the McDonald's sign that enables passersby to take clever photos of themselves. It's an effective way to engage people with an outdoor marketing tool. This new effort in Piccadilly Circus is supported by McDonald's and Coke. The Coke sign turns green and shows the faces of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Kermit the Frog ... I have no idea why?

Other campaign elements include MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

 


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