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Archive for the ‘Consumers’ Category

Illinois's thataway ...

Illinois's thataway ...

The deafening drone heard in the vicinity of Three Lakes Drive, Northfield, Illinois is not a squadron of cruising B-52 Stratofortresses, but several thousand boomerangs hurled by a legion of angry Aussies at the global headquarters of Kraft Foods, the planet’s second-largest food company.

Over a distance of more than nine thousand miles the Antipodean message, chanted to the accompaniment of a massed band of didgeridoos, came across loud and clear:  “Mess with Vegemite at your peril!”

According to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, the uprising began Saturday when  Kraft’s down-under subsidiary announced the rebranding of the salty spread, a national icon beloved by millions of otherwise rational Australians.

Rebranding heresy!

Rebranding heresy!

And to rub the sodium chloride well and truly into the open wound inflicted on the nation’s psyche, Kraft compounded its heresy by rebranding the concoction – wait for it – Vegemite iSnack 2.0 !!!

Moreover, as if to underscore marketers’ besotted adulation of all things digital, the new branding was arrived at courtesy of an online poll!

Aussies were already in defensive mode after the product’s reformulation in July – the first since it was launched down under in 1923. To the sub-continent’s horror and disbelief, the sacred yeasty recipe on which the nation’s taste-buds had been honed for eighty-six years was adulterated with … cream cheese!

Already in über-sensitive mode after losing The Ashes – a biennial cricket series against England earlier this summer – disconsolate Australians saw the rebranding of this national icon as the final straw.

Cowering in his bunker, Kraft’s local spokesman Simon Talbot admitted: “The new name has simply not resonated with Australians. Particularly the modern technical aspects associated with it.”

The company will hold another contest in which Australians and New Zealanders can vote for another name for the new Vegemite flavor.

MoonWink’s suggestion? ‘DigiBlunder’.

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TV is dead ... long live TV!

TV is dead ... long live TV!

No question but that broadcast TV profits are down. But this is due primarily to (a) recession) and (b) misperception among agencies and marketers that web/social media have the same level of consumer engagement as TV.

They don’t – not the ilk of Twitter and Facebook anyway – both of which have the fascination and engagement level of ant-hill watching. In other words: you may be fascinated by the goings-on but you don’t feel part of them!

Outside looking in?

Outside looking in?

TV works – or fails to work – according to the level of viewers’ emotional empathy with the brand. Successful use of the medium integrates the viewer into the action; social media leaves the viewer on the outside looking in.

Trouble is, though, that online media will continue to snatch share from traditional media as agencies will continue – as they have for decades – with their Pavlovian obsession with the flavour of the month.

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Someone  looking?

Mencken: Inner voice?

“Conscience,” opined the late, great American wit, journalist and literary critic H L Mencken, “is the inner voice that warns us someone may be looking.”

Mencken’s dictum struck home among the adveratti a couple of decades back as it finally dawned on the trade that something had to be done about it’s excesses before the politicians and Joe Public finally lost patience.

Since when there has been a procession of half-hearted, limp-wristed attempts to impose a set of workable rules that wouldn’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

A realisation now confronting the adolescent internet advertising industry.

Within the exponentially expanding fish-tank of online marketing and media, there’s growing concern that US lawmakers could soon intervene on issues concerning the collection of personal data, according to US trade journal AdWeek.

It’s certainly an outcome encouraged by the vociferous privacy and public interest lobbies, currently bending ears in and around Washington DC.

Zaneis

Zaneis: Behavioural believer

Blather, balderdash, bosh and bilge, splutters Mike Zaneis, vice-president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who claims that  the real goal of the privacy campaigners is to eradicate behavior-based advertising, one of the most promising areas of innovation.

“They don’t believe in behavioral advertising,” he said. In which, of course, the IAB understandably does believe. Implicitly. According it a status akin to Holy Writ.

On the other side of the battlefield, the call to arms is taken-up by Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum: “We want consumers to be able to take advantage of all of the new technologies without the technologies taking advantage of the consumers. Right now, that balance is not there.”

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of lobbyist, the Center for Digital Democracy, is of like mind. Industry self-regulation, in the form of the IAB’s  Network Advertising Initiative, he avers, has failed.

Chester claims that tracking from all directions besets consumers with opt-out notices buried in legalese on hidden privacy statements. “The one thing that’s crystal clear that’s emerged so far is that, as in almost any industry, self-regulation doesn’t work.”.

And that assertion, italicized above, finally brings MoonWink  to the point of this article. Exactly how effective, if at all, is advertising self-regulation?

It’s a question aptly answered by a famed cartoon (circa 1895) from the long defunct British humorous magazine Punch.

Bishop to new, young curate beset with queasiness at the aged state of his egg:" Your egg is not bad, I hope?" Curate to Bishop: "Oh no, my Lord. It is exceedingly good ikn parts!"

Bishop to new, young curate beset with queasiness at the aged state of his egg: "Your egg is not bad, I trust, Mister Simpkins?" Curate to Bishop: "Oh no, my Lord. I assure you it is exceedingly good in parts!"

Yup, like the curate’s egg, self-regulation is exceedingly good in parts. On occasions. And with a following wind.

But, as with the dollar-generating ambiguities of law, so with adland’s self-imposed rules as to what is – or is not – permissible in advertising. And where. And to whom.

Booze is a good example. In the UK, for instance, a sanctimonious entity known as The Portman Group, funded in its entirety by large multinational pedlars of alcohol, preaches moderation and responsibility in drinking. And on behalf of its paymasters Portman tuts like a proverbial auntie at the frequent nationwide instances of alcohol-fuelled behavioural excess and violence.

Responsible drinking?

Responsible drinking?

Such antisocial goings-on are directly connected to the self-same booze-pushers’ stratagem of  ‘Happy Hours’ and other ongoing promotional events at bars and pubs throughout the country. Events that are, of course, intended to encourage moderation and responsibility in drinking!

Self-regulation in TV advertising is a similar cynical mockery. While medical professionals and dieticians condemn the peddling of high salt/calorie/sugar junk foods to children and and teens, over-exposed millionaire former sporting heroes and TV pundits continue to push these poisonous products to kids via  networked TV.

While the ad industry to its eternal discredit vigorously lobbies government and media regulators to further  ‘liberalize’ the current latitudinary rules.

Meantime, the letter of the law is adhered to – usually by the merest whisker! The spirit, however, is up for grabs.

Moreover, the foregoing examples relate solely to the UK – a nation almost Stalinist in its media controls compared with the USA, much of Latin America and Asia.

Makes you proud to be a marketer, doesn’t it?

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Darwin, he aint!

Clan Murdoch versus the 'Creationists'!

The scion of a media mogul and bearer of a fine old Caledonian name (who himself was the scion of a media mogul of that ilk) stood before an audience of his peers in Scotland’s ancient capital on Friday 28 August and socked-it to ’em in a manner of which poppa would have been proud.

Reminiscent of a cyborg Daniel in the lion’s den, the chairman/ceo [by proxy*] of News Corporation, Europe and Asia stood, before the arrayed hostility of the Edinburgh International Television Festival and manfully delivered this year’s keynote MacTaggart Lecture.

Murdoch minimus didn’t, of course, jet-in solely for the glory of delivering this annual set piece to the British TV establishment. No Siree. He had something to get off his chest – just like poppa when he delivered a similar paean to unfettered capitalism in 1989.

Wee Jamie [*who owes his present position to the disinclination of elder brother Lachlan to work under Rupert’s yoke] inveighed against the British government in general – and the BBC in particular – for failing to operate in accordance with the principles upon which the Murdoch dynasty was founded and has prospered.

An unlikely Murdoch ally?

Rooting for Rupert?

Citing this years’ centenary of the publication of The Origin of the Species, Murdoch minimus compared the BBC and the UK establishment with the ‘creationists’ who railed against Charles Darwin’s upturning of the Christian myth.

And whilst it’s invidious to mention Darwin and wee Jamie in the same breath – there are those [including this scribe] who agree wholeheartedly with some of the latter’s cavils, e.g …

Yes, the BBC is saddled with a top-heavy management structure and a controlling trust chaired and populated by out-to-grass members of the British establishment.

Yes, the BBC does appear to be vying with its commercial rivals to peddle populist formulaic crap to the proletariat.

Yes, the BBC has failed miserably to cater for those who prefer a TV diet free from the endless round of so-called ‘reality’ shows, cop sagas, hospital and other soaps, in-yer-face sitcoms, property makeover programmes and ancestral anus-gazing.

And yes, the present British government is responsible for the creation of communications regulator Ofcom – a  fatuous hybrid whose primary activity appears to be digging holes for the sole purpose of filling them in again.

Pops and Jamie don’t care for this situation one teensy bit. The Beeb eats into Sky’s market for mind-numbing TV trivia, while the publicly-funded corporation’s extra-curricular activities provide unwelcome, cross-subsidized competition in the internet and publishing arenas.

But at the end of the day, aren’t the former and present UK prime ministers, Blair and Brown, and Clan Murdoch birds of a feather?

All are driven by the quest for self-enrichment and power while a docile population – drugged by media mediocrity –  obediently performs its obligation to consume, consume and consume again!

Media dinosaurs battle it out!

Primeval media monsters ...

For those who relish Kong-like spectacles such as a fight unto the death between primeval media monsters, MoonWink reproduces (courtesy of MediaGuardian) the following exchange.

“At an official dinner following the [MacTaggart] speech, Murdoch and [over-exposed BBC business editor] Robert Peston – who were sitting with the Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark and BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons – became involved in a discussion about banking deregulation which progressed to the flashpoint of whether or not the BBC was patrician.

“According to those who were there, Murdoch apparently banged the table and shouted: ‘How dare you?’ with Peston shouting back: If you think you can get fucking angry, I can get fucking angry.'”

By such informed debate between the representatives of Mammon and the Establishment are our drab lives shaped!

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'Buddy, can you spare a voucher?'

'Buddy, can you spare a voucher?'

There’s an old and bitter joke that dates back to the 1930s. ‘A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours.’

Whichever euphemism is peddledby the politicians, Britons’ searches for online discount vouchers surged 47.5% over the last year, reflecting their hunger for bargains and discounts during the recession.

According to Robin Goad, director of research for the UK arm of internet intelligence service Hitwise: “Vouchers offering everything from discounts at high end retailers to two-for-one pizzas have become immensely popular, as British consumers look for the best deals to save money during the recession.

“We are seeing the emergence of the ‘maximizing consumer’; these shoppers don’t necessarily buy the cheapest products or services, but they do spend a lot of time researching online before selecting what to buy, and then a bit more time to find the best price or discounts before making a purchase.”

Targeted searches
The growth in voucher searches stems from people searching for increasingly specific deals and discounts for particular products or retailers. During July 2008, UK surfers searched for 8,300 distinct variations of search terms that contained either the word ‘voucher’ or ‘vouchers’; by July 2009, this figure had more than quadrupled to 34,200.FatKids

Says Goad: “Restaurants are the second biggest users of online vouchers after retailers, and restaurant websites now pick up 6.7% of all UK web traffic from voucher searches, up from just 1.1% a year ago.

Their success has encouraged other ‘offline’ industries to use the internet for customer acquisition. For example, searches for travel and theme park vouchers have more than doubled this year, while searches for cinema vouchers have trebled.”

The top ten UK voucher-related search terms during the four weeks ended 01-Aug-09 were:

  1. ‘Voucher codes’ (8.4%)
  2. ‘Pizza Express voucher’ (3.9%)
  3. ‘Discount vouchers’ (2.9%)
  4. ‘Vouchers’ (2.2%)
  5. ‘My voucher codes’ (2.0%)
  6. ‘Restaurant vouchers’ (1.9%)
  7. ‘Tesco vouchers’ (1.6%)
  8. ‘Pizza hut vouchers’ (1.4%)
  9. ‘Dominos vouchers’ (1.3%)
  10. ‘Tesco voucher codes’ (1.2%)

Voucher specialist sites eclipsed
“Although the popular [specialized] voucher websites remain significant players online, they no longer dominate the market,” commented Goad. “There are two reasons for this.

“The first is that consumers have become wary of the more opportunistic voucher websites, which appear high up in the search engine results for voucher related terms but often contain out of date deals – or in some cases no relevant vouchers at all.

CouponsThe other change is that the retailers themselves – both online only and high street players – are trying harder to pick up traffic from voucher searches directly, rather than pay for a link from a voucher website. Online retailers only picked up 28.2% of all UK Internet traffic from voucher searches during July 2008, but by 2009 that figure had increased to 41.5%.”

Few of the searchers are thought to be banking executives!

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Coco Chanel

Parisienne fashion legend Coco Chanel (left), an instinctive marketer if ever there was one, held that “Youth is something very new: twenty years ago no one mentioned it.”

A statement that also summarizes adland’s infatuation with current flavour of the minute, the infant phenomenon Twitter.

Under the mistaken impression that it’s a marketing equivalent to E=MC2 [Engage=Moronic Chatter?], the marketing trade press is in a state of recurring orgasm over the phenomenon, headlining unsubstantiated claims by the likes of Dell that Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half.

Most trad agencies don’t understand how or if it delivers; whilst their digital brethren, in a similar state of unknowingness, vigorously milk Twitter for all it’s worth.

Which according to no less an authority than The Harris Poll is … not a lot!

In a new LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll study of 2,025 US adults and 1,015 advertisers from agencies/corporations involved in the advertising decision-making process, Harris found that:

  • Just under half of advertisers (45%) say that Twitter is something is in its infancy and its use will grow exponentially over the next few years, while one in five (21%) believe Twitter will not move into the mainstream and is something mostly young people and the media will use.
  • Just under one in five advertisers (17%) believe Twitter is already over the hill and it’s time to find the next best thing; while 17% of advertisers say they don’t know enough about Twitter to have an opinion on it.ThumbsDown2

Just 8% say Twitter is very effective for promoting products and ideas while half (50%) say it is somewhat effective.  One-third (34%) of advertisers say it is not that effective and 8% believe it is not at all effective for promoting products and ideas.

Among consumers, 8% say it is very effective for promoting ideas and products and 42% believe it is just somewhat effective.

To read the full report summary, click here.

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