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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 2010 - Posts

Marketing Promotes Germophobia

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

Marketing Turns Us into Germophobics

When Self.com polled readers about their germophobia, more than 75% said they flush public toilets with their foot, and 63% avoid handrails on subways, buses and escalators. Apparently many people open bathroom doors with elbows, punch elevator buttons with knuckles, carry wet wipes to disinfect the ATM and don't touch magazines in waiting rooms ... all unnecessary precautions, experts say.

If you weren't phobic before, contemplating germ-fighting products will probably make you that way. Enterprising manufacturers have infused washing machines and vacuums, sheets and towels, mattresses, chopsticks, highchairs and toys ... more than 700 products ... with antimicrobial chemicals. You can buy bug-bashing sprays, a bracelet that dispenses disinfectant and a key chain that unfolds a claw for opening doors and operating ATMs.

Even mild germophobia makes you vulnerable to this vast new industry designed to capitalize on your fears and sell you antimicrobial products. But according to scientific studies, these have proven no better at germ killing than the original products, like regular soap ... and may even be bad for your health

Doctors say people who use antimicrobial soaps have the same amount of bacteria on their hands after washing with them and suffer the same number of colds, fever and diarrhea as people who use regular soaps. But we feel better when we use the other stuff, right? So that's gotta be worth something.  

Stella Artois Campaign is Really Fun ... and Scary

You have to try this. A new campaign for Stella Artois beer offers a contest to attend the next Cannes Film Festival. The premise is that "Jacques d'Azur" ... a made-up playboy and movie magnate ... has gone missing and only his rightful heir can be awarded his spot at Cannes. (According to the photo above, it's Dale and me.)

I went to the Stella Artois Web site, and it asked me to connect to Facebook. So I clicked on that link. A short time later, a video started that not only included Dale's Facebook profile photo, also clearly made note of his gender and his marital status. From a technology standpoint, the campaign is brilliant! And it's entertaining. I immediately sent to it friends all over the country.

Seriously, click here to see how it captured Dale's info and what it did with it. It will ask for your birthdate (beer site), and it takes a minute or two to load. But it's worth it, believe me. You'll be amazed and you'll watch it more than once. Do it! (I'll wait for you to view the video ... now you'll be making your own video ... now you're sending it to all your friends. ... Done? Okay, let's proceed.)

Here's the scary part. To enter the contest, I clicked a button on the Stella Artois site, which asked me to link to Facebook ... and whamo ... without my knowing what was about to happen, Artois scanned and used photos from Dale's and my Facebook page. It also copied Dale's gender and marital status. All of those things are instantly used in the video that the site shows you. Clear proof that anything you put on Facebook can be lifted and used by others even if they're not your "friends." That's a frightening and intimidating thing to keep in mind when you're posting anything to a Facebook page.

But beyond that, the video is hysterical. (Even Leslie is in it ... but you have to look closely.)

Sexiness for Everyone ...

Liaison Dangereuse is the most exclusive online-Lingerie-Store in Germany. Their claim is "Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere." And they really mean "everyone!"

Click here to see Miriam Wimmer, a famous German model/actress, in a very sensual ad in which she is truly stunning ... even to a Mannequin American. And the surprise ending makes the piece that much more effective ... helping the company live up to "Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere." You're welcome.

Beer Can Design is Not too Subliminal

Via Copyranter: The design on a single can of a Russian brand of beer may look like just a cityscape graphic.

But put a couple of cans side by side ... or a whole row of cans in the liquor store ... the image is fishnets, garters, panties, and thighs. That has to help sales.

Executive Search - Dating

Here's an ad for Executive Search Dating, The Dating Headhunter®. It claims to be the proactive Vancouver dating service for busy professionals. The visual is rather striking ... maybe even intimidating. But it works.

Not Funny ... Not Nice ... Not There Anymore

Via AdFreak: Calgary condo ads like the one above were aimed at young professional men. Posters were put up in nightclub restrooms and other places where their targeted audience would see them. Not surprisingly the sexist ads have been yanked after an offended person took pictures of them and posted them online, which generated some pretty heated responses before the condo developer nixed the posters altogether.

The ad agency responsible for the posters said, "Obviously our idea of fun isn't funny to the audience we are attempting to engage." It's funny how accurate hindsight can be.


Why Blog?

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

Why Blog?

When B&M decided it wanted someone to write a blog, management conducted an extensive three minute search. As my hiding place was not as good as other staff members, I found myself "volunteered." (You know how that goes.)

I'm in my 3rd year of creating content for this blog and I've learned a lot. Prior to this assignment, I had heard about "work." Blogging brought me face to face with it ... and it's not a pretty face. There's no getting around it ... blogging is work ... the word catches in Dale's throat.

But there are rewards from this work. Blogging keeps me focused on learning. The discipline required to create even somewhat interesting content in the manner I've chosen requires that I study lots of what's hot, what's new, what's being said and what's not being said. Then I put my spin on the things that I think my readers will find most interesting. In the process I learn a lot and that's a benefit to B&M clients ... and it's also rewarding on a personal level.

On a business level blogging can fashion a tremendous advantage ... especially for those in the B2B world. We're in an age of information overload. It's a noisy landscape. It's vital for B2B organizations to find ways to cut through that noise with integrated marketing that's both strategic and creative. In the everyday bombardment of messages and tweets, it's pointless to hope to stand out and be heard without consistently engaging your audience. Blogs help to do that. (And let's face it, blogs written by Mannequin Americans help companies to stand out even more.)

When blogging becomes part of an integrated B2B marketing strategy it can help your company to successfully connect with your customers and prospects in relevant and meaningful ways. But it takes time and work ... and if you're lucky, it takes a Mannequin American.

Create Your Own Beer Label

Newcastle Beer has a fun new promotion that lets you design your own bottle labels. (My lame effort is pictured above.) Even better, when you buy a new 12-pack, it comes with laser printer-ready stickers so that you can affix them to beer bottles and impress your friends.

Visit the company's Web site and create your own bottle labels. It's fun and it's Friday, so what are you waiting for?

Interesting Fact: A recent Australian study revealed that smokers smoke to cope while moderate drinkers drink to celebrate

The survey, which interviewed 2,000 Australians in April, found that respondents who consumed up to three drinks a day were happier than those who never drink. (You may want to assume that the survey was taken just before someone yelled, "Last call!")

When You Care Enough to Send Something Stupid

So if you can't be with the one you love, send them a stupid gift ... a Hug E Gram.

The "hug" comes with a "Wooden Bouquet of Roses that last forever."  Gifts don't get more meaningful than that. There's even a video on their Web site.

Don't Let Your Meat Loaf

Great copy is great copy. For Vaughns BBQ Sauce. Via AdsoftheWorld.

New Reno Marketing Campaign

From AdRants: Not sure Reno wants to be Vegas but they're making an effort to get those who live in San Francisco to check the place out with a new billboard campaign.

Reno's new mascot is a Big Horn Sheep. Supposedly, he will deliver "whimsical sarcasm, random commentary, and delightful deals" from the North via Facebook and Twitter. I could do that. They should have used me ... especially for that "whimsical sarcasm" part!

Puppets on the Tube

Miss Piggy appeared on the Wendy Williams show on December 18th, 2009. She commented about Kermit's faithfulness, in contrast to Tiger Woods: "My Kermie is nothing like him. He would never do anything untoward moi... BUT! If he did, you can rest assured there'd be a hole in one, and he'd be the one!"

Miss Piggy also appeared on The View. Click here to see a video clip from that show.


Don't Publish Too Often

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

Why You Shouldn't "Publish" So Often

I have a job. Granted, it's not much of a job. I'm the token Mannequin American at a marketing/pr firm.  But still, I have things I have to do during the normal workday. That fact appears to be completely foreign to the majority of bloggers and twitterers who seem to think that like them, everyone else is hovering over their computers in eager anticipation of receiving another blog post or tweet.

Here's a newsflash that will certainly raise the ire of many; sending out blog posts and tweets several times a day may make you feel like you're doing something important ... but it's annoying as hell to those of us with real jobs.

When I started this blog over two years ago, I modeled my initiative loosely after a blog that I really enjoy and admire, AdRants. AdRants publishes once a day. The post generally includes snippets on 5 to 15 marketing-related topics. It's easy to quickly scan the entire blog and click for more information on any specific topic. I appreciate that the writers care enough about my time to group all of their daily information into a single post.

Seventy percent of the blogs that I follow make separate, multiple posts during the day. No schedule ... no organization ... just random posts ... each requiring me to click on it before I can decide whether or not I'm interested. Apparently because these bloggers have a lot of time on their hands, they assume their readers are similarly unoccupied and not stressed for time. Twitterers are even worse. Even though immediacy and brevity are part of the Twitter advantage, most twitters waste too much of my time. In both cases I find the "delete" button a huge time saver.

So what do I want? I want bloggers and others to go out of their way to save me time, not require more of it. That necessitates more organization and less ego on their part.

If you're a blogger, the next time you're ready to make a post, wait two hours. If you have additional thoughts during that time, add them to your post and wait another two hours. Do this all day. Then hit "publish." You'll have told me everything you wanted to tell me without filling my RSS file with 16 separate posts.


Honk if You Like Ta Tas

From AdGabber: OK so the whole honking hooters thing is nothing new, but the application of the joke in this video urging women to get mammograms is both humorous and compelling.

Ta tas are fun to look at and fun to make jokes about. But it's no laughing matter when it comes to breast cancer. Click here to see an effective commercial promoting breast exams.

Who Knew Daly Wore Underwear?

From AdFreak: As if 2010 weren't off to a rocky enough start, now I have to listen to John Daly talk about his underwear. The formerly mulleted and rotund golfer, who cut his hair and slimmed down, is a spokesman for Slix underwear these days.

"Slix boxer briefs are the most ridiculously comfortable underwear I've ever put on" is his exact quote. At least it's good to know that he wears underwear.

Promoting Paralympics

Tagline: "Help an athlete to go to the Paralympics. Make a donation." 

From AdsoftheWorld: Action for ADD (Sporting Association for the Disabled) took place in Cumbica International Airport, São Paulo, on January 17th and 18th of 2010. Life-size paper displays showing disabled athletes in wheelchairs were strategically placed on several luggage carts. When passengers used them to carry their bags, it looked as if they were actually pushing the wheelchair of a disabled athlete. Messages on the backs of the carts urged people to make donations to the organization.

Hard Working Hands are Made of Wood

No, this is not a photo of me helping Dale build shelves. It's an ad for "On the Job" hand cream that says it "Repairs hands that work for a living." I may try it. But that saw is going to give me nightmares.

Puppets Continue to be Effective Sales Tools

Kobe and LeBron puppets are still popular and effective shills for Nike ... enticing youngsters to want high-priced sneakers that their parents probably can't afford.

Click here to see their "House on Fire" commercial.


Creating Effective Newsletters

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

Creating More Effective Newsletters

A PDF of the latest edition of the B&M newsletter is available by clicking here.

I've been editor of Brown & Martin's award winning publication for almost 20 years. The newsletter is edgy, informative and entertaining ... in other words, it's an extension of me.  We produce similar publications for service companies, manufacturers and associations.    

A few years ago Dale was interviewed by Candice Bergen for a segment on 60 Minutes. Ms. Bergen focused on Brown & Martin, Inc.'s success in using humor as an effective communications tool in corporate environments.

(Candice Bergin, me and what's his name.)

Dale's interview sucked. But after he was finished Ms. Bergen decided to interview me.  Here's how I remember the conversation going.

CB: Thanks for giving me this interview Chip.

CM:  Dale told me to do it.  Something about 60 Minutes being the most successful program in TV history, a record five-time number-one program, a record top-ten program 23 times, and blah, blah, blah.  And you would be ... ???

CB:  I'm Candice Bergen.

CM:  Bergen ... Bergen .... I know that name.

CB:  My father was Edgar Bergen.

CM:  Charlie McCarthy! Of course. I didn't know Charlie had a sister.  Imagine that.  And you're with 60 Minutes?  That's great.  Mike Wallace, Morley Safer and Ed Bradley were all way past their prime, anyway.  Glad to see that the show is getting new blood.

CB:  Actually they're all still with the program.  I'm just a contributing correspondent.

CM:  Oh. You can edit that last remark out, right?

CB:  We'll see.  Let's talk about B&M's notoriety for using puppet characters as editors of company publications. What's behind this success?

CM:  The most successful communication happens on a personal level.  Like you and me talking right now ... even though I'm not really talking.

CB:  Okay???

CM:  Our newsletters are written on a personal level. They're edited by individuals ... characters as you call them.  People relate more to individuals than they relate to corporations.  People trust individuals more than they trust corporations.  People develop a bond with individuals more than they do with corporations. 

CB:  But these editors aren't individuals.  They're puppets.

CM:  That makes it even better. People are held to a higher standard than puppets.  Our newsletters are written in an extremely personal voice ... and the more personal a newsletter, the higher the readership, the deeper the loyalty, the greater the pass-along and word of mouth.  Plus human editors aren't as clever, insightful or entertaining as puppets are.

CB:  In other words, you can "say" things that people editors may not be able to say and by doing so, you engage the readers?

CM:  Absolutely.  We provide both serious information and not-so-serious information.  Sometimes we provide serious information in a humorous manner.  Mostly we just tell the truth in a style that people find entertaining.

CB:  It's amazing that serious businesses use you to communicate to customers, distributors, employees, and other groups. 

CM:  The great thing is that Dale could suck as a ventriloquist and we'd still be effective because of the unique writing format we've developed.  It's similar to your dad being a ventriloquist on the radio. Great gig, by the way. Millions of people related to Charlie and Mortimer as real individuals even though they couldn't see them.  That's what we do on paper with our "character" editors.

CB:  Does Dale suck as a ventriloquist?

CM:  Dale sucks at everything. Ever see him drive a racecar?  Sucks at it.  Ever hear him give a convention keynote?  Sucks.

CB:  But he's talking for you right now.

CM:  He's not smart enough to talk to you himself.  He sucks.  Wanna go to lunch?

CB:  I guess, so.

CM:  Great!  By the way, how was it growing up with Charlie?

CB:  It sucked.

CM:  I can relate.

Indoor Twister Gains Attention

Mercedez-Benz gained some significant publicity for its museum by tricking out the building's HVAC system to produce the world's largest artificial tornado.

"The twister takes around seven minutes to materialize," Autoblog explains, "and is generated by 144 jets and 28 tons of air. It is also more than 100 feet tall-making it the official record holder for the World's Largest Artificial Tornado.

You should head down to the facility room in your office, do some re-wiring, and see what you can create in the way of a natural disaster.

What's Behind a New Label?

Campell Soup has received a lot of publicity over its announcement that it used neuromarketing to help redesign its iconic soup label.

 Will changing the soup label really help drive sales? Campbell Soup spent two years trying to figure that out. Now, it's not unusual for a company to do market research to try to figure out what will appeal to consumers. What is unusual is that Campbell Soup publicized that they had turned to "neuromarketing," a fact they shared in an interview in the Wall Street Journal.

The artwork below gives you an idea of some of the thinking behind subtle design changes.

Remember When "Slim" Wasn't "In"?

"You sure are popular since you put on that curvy weight!" Huh?

Today we may be focusing on childhood obesity and have an infatuation with "skinny," but in the 60's things were a bit different ... as this ad for Wate-on demonstrates. Even Raquel Welch couldn't "afford to be skinny." (see below.)

Why We No Longer Need Wate-On

You Get What You Pay For

When you need a logo designed, pay the extra to get it done by a professional. Otherwise you could well end up with the circumcision parody like the one above.



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