April, 2013

Your Business May Be Hiding From Customers Without Knowing It


Between eight and twelve million businesses are invisible to prospective customers, according to an Interactive Advertising Bureau white paper released April 29 – and it’s largely because of their own inaction.

Lost in cyberspace

Of an estimated 16 to 20 million businesses, the white paper reports, only two to three million have marketers actively managing their online listings. And according to 2011 Google statistics, some 8 million businesses hadn’t claimed their listings at all. Too many of those are small and home-based businesses.

This is a huge lost opportunity, because unless they’re in brick-and-mortar locations that are traffic magnets, unlisted businesses might as well not be in business.

Consumers search for businesses based on what they’re looking to buy, and they overwhelmingly do it with online searches – either one of many online directories like YP, Yelp, Manta and local and vertical specific directories; or search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing; or social network media like Facebook, Google+ or Linkedin; or mobile apps.

About 40 percent of consumers go online for local searches each day, 67 percent at least three or four times a week. Read more →

Hyundai Uk Uses “trademark Infringement” Claims To Make Its Own Ad Go Away


It looked like a winner at first. On April 19, The Drum – Britain’s equivalent of Adweek – named agency Innocean’s new 60-second Hyundai ix35 video Ad of the Day and Ad of the Week. On the 25th, The Guardian highlighted the spot and urged readers to view it. But by the 26th, Business Insider reports, Hyundai was “desperately” and “unsuccessfully” trying “to make its…video disappear” – by flagging reposts as trademark infringements.

Not a new idea

While dramatic, the commercial’s idea wasn’t a new one.

To demonstrate that fact that the hydrogen-burning ix35’s emissions comprised nothing more lethal than water vapor, the spot shows a depressed man sealing himself into his garage, then into his Hyundai, with the motor running and a hose going from the tailpipe to the passenger compartment. As we cut to an exterior shot of the garage, it’s now nighttime. The man, having failed at suicide, emerges from his garage, as a super explains that the ix35’s exhaust is pure water vapor.

As it turns out, using failed suicide attempts to demonstrate a car’s non-toxic exhaust isn’t a particularly new idea. Read more →

Jcp’s New Marketing ‘aya-cola’ Axes Small Ad Agencies, Hires Giant Y&r


Having filled the marketing power vacuum created by JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson’s ouster, acting CMO Sergio Zyman proceeded to reverse much of what he’d been doing as Johnson’s principal marketing consultant. Specifically, he moved to replace small agencies – including Mother, New York, and Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis – with Young & Rubicam, the world’s tenth largest advertising agency, with about $907 in revenues, Advertising Age reported April 24.

As Coca-Cola’s marketing vice president, Zyman became known as “the Aya-Cola” because of what Ad Age charitably called “his intense management style and fierce temper.” Among marketers and advertisers, he’s best known for what became one of the greatest marketing blunders of all time (before his JC Penney work for Johnson, that is).

The Edsel of soft drinks

The announcement came 28 years and one day after Zyman’s best-known marketing accomplishment (if that’s the right word for it) – the introduction of New Coke, which both the soft-drink industry and Fortune magazine likened to Ford’s introduction of the Edsel.

For those of you too young to remember April 23, 1985, here’s how Wikipedia describes New Coke’s introduction and reception way back when: Read more →

Green Works Scraps Denial And Elitism As Marketing Strategies


Denial, as the old joke goes, isn’t a river in Egypt. But for years, it’s been the basis of green-product marketing in the face of growing consumer rejection. On Earth Day (April 22), 2013, a major green marketer – Clorox Green Works – announced it was waking up to marketplace reality and abandoning elitist self-righteousness as a marketing strategy.

Painting themselves into a (green) corner

Since its introduction in 2008, with a Sierra Club endorsement they paid $1.3 million for, Clorox has targeted the line of housecleaning products to the environmentally correct.

Instead of being shelved in supermarkets with other household cleaners, it was stocked with natural and organic products.

It also carried a 20 percent price premium over conventional cleaners. This was possibly because, since green-product purchasers are known to have higher education and income, they thought they could get away with it – and possibly because someone had to pay for that 1.3 million spiff to the Sierra Club in return for displaying their logo on the packaging.

That worked, but just for one year. Read more →

One Ad Character Becomes More Human, Another More Superhuman This Week


In a television ad campaign breaking April 15, one brand’s ad character is being made over to “show he’s just a normal guy.” And in a new phase of another product’s campaign, the brand’s icon is being remade to have more supernormal powers.

Kool-Aid Man: becoming more normal

The Kool-Aid Man has been around since 1954 and in his present form since 2000.

He was played by an anonymous actor in a pitcher-shaped, foam-rubber suit with a big smiley face, and his main talent seemed to be blundering into and crashing through walls.

“He said a few things here and there, but he really didn’t have a developed personality,” Kraft Foods senior brand manage Erica Rendall explained.

Now all that’s changing. Read more →

Is Facebook’s Core Audience Deserting It?


With new features like FBX ad exchange and a shift from limited social advertising formats to more traditional forms of online advertising, Facebook is winning back advertisers like General Motors. But when those advertisers come back to Facebook, they’ll find significantly fewer of the social website’s core audience waiting for them, according to an April 11 MediaPost report [link unavailable].

“Unlike the Boomers, who appreciate the convenience of Facebook’s integration features, teenagers have increasingly lost interest in the content that is being published on the News Feed,” Alex Realmuto writes.

The intimacy that Facebook once offered has been commoditized in a way in which people no longer really care about the majority of the updates from their “friends.” Now, these savvy teenagers are becoming more sensitive to the fact that the content they post is being shared with the rest of the world. This, coupled with the freedom and excitement people originally, but seemingly no longer, felt when sharing their personal stories on the Internet, has driven people away.

Moving on? Or just growing up?

The younger core audience’s move away from Facebook may have as much to do with the onset of adult maturity as with adolescent fickleness. Read more →

Ad Agency May Be The Next Casualty In Jcpenney’s Marketing Debacle

When JCPenney announced it was hiring Apple Store executive Ron Johnson as its CEO in August, 2011 , its stock jumped 17.5 messengerpercent in one day. Now, 17 months and a disastrous 25 percent drop in sales later (28 percent in the most recent quarter), the retailer fired him. In the wake of his dismissal, stock prices spiked more than 10 percent from the lows it had fallen to, Marketing Daily’s Thom Forbes reports.

Johnson’s ouster is not surprising. What is, though, is that The Bureau, the advertising agency that faithfully executed his severely flawed strategic input, will be the next casualty, this May.

Equally surprising are the facts that Johnson’s successor will be his predecessor and that the man who played a major role in the store’s marketing downfall will continue to shape its future marketing.

Apple Stores and oranges

When Johnson moved to JCPenney, he apparently brought his Apple Store marketing model with him. But what works for a one-category brand that restricts outside reselling and fixes prices doesn’t work for a multi-category department store chain that competes with others, usually on price.

As Sarah Mahoney noted at MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, Read more →

Gm Trashes Yet Another Piece Of Ousted Cmo’s Legacy


After first extolling global CMO Joel Ewanick as some kind of wunderkind and then unceremoniously firing him, GM has been dismantling his marketing policies piece by piece. The latest piece to hit the scrap heap is his decision to cancel paid Facebook advertising, the company confirmed April 9.

Another one bites the dust

In an August 29, 2012, conference call, CFO Dan Ammann declared  that “The fundamental approach is no change. The consolidation of agency spend, all the things we did with our media buy, those are all very real drivers of efficiencies and we’re absolutely going to continue with those.”

But ever since then, the struggling automaker has been making changes galore.

  • They undid “the consolidation of agency spend” by first reassigning advertising for their most profitable nameplates – Silverado and Sierra trucks – to outsider and former Cadillac agency Leo Burnett.
  • Then they further undid Ewanick’s Commonwealth ad agency consortium by firing his favorite agency, Goodby Silverstein
  • January 28, they scrapped the “Chevy Runs Deep” slogan that Ewanick introduced in 2010 with “Find new roads.”

And now they’re reversing what was probably Ewanick’s most publicized and most controversial marketing decision – to cancel $10 million worth of paid Facebook advertising just three days before its IPO. Read more →

Walmart Switches Advertising From Network To Local Television


For 23 years, the ability to advertise nationally on network television has given Walmart not only greater media cost-effectiveness, but also a television presence that no local or regional competitor could match. But now, Advertising Age reported April 8, they’re shifting advertising dollars from network to spot buys.

In an attempt to create a television version of online advertising’s ability to tailor messages to real-time local conditions, the retail giant plans to run commercials comparing prices against specific competitors in 60 different markets.

Lots and lots of commercials

It’s going to cost them more, because buying time in 60 markets costs more than reaching the same markets through a national buy. It will also cost more because all that tailoring will call for producing far more local commercials – 1,500 this year, according to Walmart’s plan, compared to about 615 that ran last year.

The sheer logistics are so mind-boggling that Walmart’s advertising agency of record, the Martin Agency in Richmond, will be handling only part of the workload. The overflow will go partly in house and partly to other, as yet unnamed, ad agencies. Read more →

Brands Sneak Paid Advertising Into Online Content


This article is not a paid advertisement for some product. But, according to an April 7 New York Times report, many others you read could be, without your knowing it.

“Well-known online publications,” they report, “like The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Business Insider all use some form of branded content. A result is a media universe where it is increasingly difficult for readers to tell editorial content from advertising.”

Paid advertising masquerading as editorial content isn’t new to media. For years, print publications have carried advertorials and so-called special advertising sections touting different brands, with the look and feel of the newspaper or magazine’s genuine articles. And for years, television channels have filled unsold late-night time with 30- to 90-minute-long infomercials.

Those were all labeled as such, either with small type saying “Advertisement” at the top or with an audio and video disclaimer at the beginning of the infomercial.

But with this form of marketing – variously called branded content, sponsored content or native marketing – there’s often no such warning. And sometimes when it is identified as advertising when first posted, that identification tends to disappear or blend into the background once the original post is shared on other sites. Read more →