Friday, April 30, 2010

No Fear! Four Tips for Getting Started with Twitter No Matter What.

Marketers don’t use Twitter for a lot of reasons but a nasty accident isn’t likely to be one of them. With any information technology, there’s a chance (even a likelihood) that “something” will come back to bite you. Emails à la Goldman Sachs that never ever get deleted, then turn up in some district attorney’s mailbox, for example. Revealing footage from a video camera you didn’t even know was there, high up on a warehouse wall.

Twitter has a few of these, it’s true. Joe Loong mentions some awful Twitter moments on his blog, here: “Twitter + Child’s Funeral = Bad Idea” is one; and the Memphis/FedEx/PR Guy mashup last year, here.

Twitter is ephemeral. Each tweet occupies a short time frame. And since employees and managers will always screw up, because they are human, only a very few people will care if you’ve stuck your thumb – or your company’s thumb – in the sausage grinder. Seriously, if it’s legally actionable, it’s one thing; if it’s temporarily embarrassing, you’ll get over it.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Use the new tech. Use Twitter as a marketing communications tool. You’ll be in good company; a short Brandweek article noted this week:

Twitter usage exploded in 2009. US site traffic, which is only a partial barometer of how many people used the service, grew from a few million unique monthly visitors early last year to over 20 million by June.

Searching the Internet will give you anywhere from 1 to 100 ways to use Twitter to benefit your brand or your company. Four of my best start-up thoughts come from Heidi Cohen writing on ClickZ:

1. Listen before you leap. Your stakeholders are ready and willing to share their views about your products, brands and company. So use multiple forums (in addition to Twitter) to hear what's being said about your firm, your competitors, your market.

2. Plan for relevant content. Unless your personal or corporate brand is based on random thoughts (maybe, maybe not), plan for tweets that customers, prospects and thought leaders will find useful – and related to your product or service.

3. Support your social media effort. Use classic marketing programs and tactics to sustain online efforts: offline advertising, retail outlets, live events and your product packaging. ‘Cause if all you are is tweets, your market’s going to find out about it pretty quick.

4. Remember the conversation is multidirectional. Despite the Type A people you work for or with, no message is genuinely controllable once it’s left your computer, phone, Blackberry, what-have-you. You will hear back. As you begin to stretch your marketing with Twitter and other “new media,” don’t be afraid and do consider what social-media visioneer Seth Godin wrote:

Online interactions are largely expected to be intentional. On purpose. Planned. People assume you did stuff for a reason. Be clear, be generous, be kind. Can’t hurt.


“Someone Tweeted” by Brian Lane Winfield Moore. From WWIII Propaganda Poster Set, 2009. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Advertising with A Bang: Marketing Big Boys’ Toys Keeps the Sass Up.

On April 2nd 2003, during the second Gulf war, a hundred or so Iraqi armoured vehicles approached a far smaller American reconnaissance unit south of Baghdad…A B-52 bomber attacked the first 30 or so vehicles in the column with a single, historic pass. It dropped two new CBU-105 bombs…

While falling, the CBU-105 bombs propped open, each releasing ten submunitions which were slowed by parachutes. Each one of these used mini rockets to spin and eject outward four discs the size of ice-hockey pucks…

The 80 free-falling discs from the pair of bombs then scanned the ground with lasers and heat-detecting sensors to locate armoured vehicles. Those discs that identified a target exploded dozens of metres up. The blast propelled a tangerine-sized slug of copper down into the target, destroying it with the impact and the accompanying shrapnel…

The soldiers in the 70 vehicles farther back in the column surrendered immediately.*

There was a time, after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, when I thought the “good old days” of defense industry advertising were done. Game over. And weapon system advertising was a terrific game, with its own language, its own sense of swagger.

Beyond the opportunity to show things that go bang (in print, in video, etc.), there was the feeling on my part, and on the part of everyone I worked with in the defense industry over a period of several decades, that we were creating goods and services for the defense of the nation…of giving our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen the best matériel with which to win a fight – and win a war.

As demonstrated by this 2006 post, I have been lucky. Even though the Cold War has been over for years, I’ve been able to keep up my involvement in defense industry advertising. Reading about the CBU-105 cluster bomb recently sent me looking to see what’s new in defense industry marketing communication.

You should look too – Textron Defense Systems is cooking. It’s true there’s no substitute of a sexy product whatever the category. Its CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon and internal BLU-108 submunition are precisely the articles highlighted in The Economist article and they do work as described.

Textron has created a range of provocative marketing materials to convey not only the technical performance of its systems, but the emotion behind them. You can see video here, for example; and print advertising like those above here.

There is plenty of front-end attitude in headlines like:

Not just effective. Cost-effective. (Reversed out of photo of burning Iraqi tanks).

2 April 2003. The world’s first Smart Area Weapon proves itself in combat.

We’re the leader in force protection for one simple reason: We don’t believe in level playing fields.

The creative addresses its primary audience, but there’s more to it than sassy headlines. Responsible defense communications recognizes the benefits of effective weaponry in terms of protecting our combatants and minimizing casualties. In the Iraqi engagement, 30% of the tanks and their crews died. The other 70% surrendered – and lived.

In the case of Textron Defense Systems, advertising demonstrates product success. That means mission success. Can your advertising (and your product or service) make the same claim?

*From The Economist, January 30, 2010, p 88.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Waiting for the NyQuil to Work, Think About the Advertising.

Cold-sufferers of America know this brand: Vicks® NyQuil® cold and flu liquid from Proctor and Gamble. Over 40 years old and still going strong, “the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold...medicine” works a treat.

It’s my OTC weapon of choice when I need cold relief (which I do this week, seriously). I like it and buy it and use it even though it is one of America’s most commercial brands. Even though a 2007 article in Wired notes that it’s “fortified with powerful narcotics.” Or maybe because of those legal narco-substances.

NyQuil is strong medicine. You know just how strong it is when a comedian like Denis Leary riffed, “I took a NyQuil five years ago and I just came out of the coma tonight before the fucking show.” The brand has its own Facebook app, NyQuil Nation. Right now it’s showing actual photos of NyQuil users sleeping; more than 10,000 people have signed up for a chance as some swag.

The brand constantly re-invents itself through promotion and advertising. I’m particularly sensitive to the headline on the latest sleepers campaign – like the one called “Joe” above: For a Better-Looking Tomorrow. Publicis New York has the NyQuil advertising duties business these days and as far as I’m concerned the company nailed the human condition, whether the ads show Joe, Gary, Theo or Apolo Ohno (sure, the Olympic speed skater – it’s perfect!).

So contemplate the Publicis ad campaign credits: Chief Creative Officer: Rob Feakins; Executive Creative Director: Joe Johnson; Art Director: Dave Hermanas; Copywriter: Dafna Garber; Art Buyer: Samantha Jaffoni. Evocative advertising deserves a drink – of NyQuil.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

For My Birthday, the 2010 Panamera Turbo. Whattaya Say?

Today’s a pretty special birthday for me, some of you might know. I’d like something special to go with it. (That’s what I said to Barbara, anyway.)

I could do a big riff – or a piercing whine – about how I deserve this. I could write endlessly about how cool this prospective birthday present is. After all, the car has just arrived in dealers’ showrooms after being introduced late last year: The Panamera Turbo by Porsche. I have even picked out my color, what the company’s calling mahogany metallic. Very utterly spectacular.

My new birthday-car-gift is a little pricey: $132,345 at the dealership over on I-10. But what are friends for? (That’s what I asked myself when I came up with the nifty solution.) Here’s the deal.

It just needs 132 of my closest colleagues, friends and relatives – that’s you!

Each of you chip in $1,000. Just send me a check or use PayPal – I’m setting up an account now. I’ll cover the taxes, title, license and so forth. Before you know it, I gonna be cruising down to Galveston. Or west to El Paso at 180+ mph. Or, hey, hey, I’ll drive it around to you guys in Dallas and New Prague, North Bergen and Chicago, let you take an up-close-and-personal at your lovely gift to…me!

Discuss it among yourselves, I’ll just sing along a bit here.

Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday, dear me.
Happy birthday to me.

Okay – you deliver the buckos and I’ll buy the car. Why? Because it’ll be my precious. Preciousss. Or here is another approach: IwannitIwannitIwannit. After all I’m a real adult now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

God Bless Island Princess and All Who Sail in Her.

There will be follow-ups to the 2010 Signalwrite Panama Canal Cruise. This post, though, has less to do with marketing and advertising and more to do with giving thanks.

As I already wrote to Nathan Eisenberg, you would probable enjoy this 10-day cruise if [a] you like the sun (very nice, out there on the Lido deck); [b] can stand up to 24-hour-a-day eating (relentless) and [c] enjoy meeting and spending time with several thousand strangers (actually not so bad).

We wished there was much more “Panama Canal” in the Panama Canal Cruise. Nevertheless, this is a shout-out to Captain Nicolo Bommarco and the crew (ship side and passenger side) of MV Island Princess:

You have a beautiful cruise ship and operated it beautifully. We not only sailed 3300 miles in complete safety, thanks to you; all 890 of you worked very hard to ensure that almost all of the 2,300+ passengers had a good time. On board your ship, we did.

Good-bye. Smooth sailing to you all. Thank you very much. Sincerely…

BTW, the “Las Señoritas” shirt whipped up special for this cruise went over a treat: Lots of positive strokes. Love and thanks to Barbara again for making that happen.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Panama Canal as Advertised - A Post in Haste.

Getting access to the Internet aboard Island Princess is not hard unless, like me, you have an institutional prejudice against paying for the service. I figure very roughly that this single cruise ship pulls in $22 million a month in revenues. And yes, I realize it is expensive to operate the boat in this pretty swell manner.

So it probably evens out but I am sticking with my laidback, non-Internetting lifestyle. I have found a couple of Internet cafes, though, this one in Porto Limon, CR. So this will be a short note about a long subject: The Canal delivered its promises as far as I´m concerned. One lecturer keeps calling it, ¨the eighth wonder of the world.¨ It is even being enlarged.

Now I saw the Canal (some of it) in luxury, not among a crowd of sailors. It is possible I missed all the hands-on, walking-around swellness that comes from a land tour. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to have seen the Panama Canal at last. Next time you see it advertised, take a look at it for yourself. There is more to come on this subject; ta for the time being.