Monday, August 3, 2009

To Food Show Or Not To Food Show

When I was brand manager for a national supermarket brand, I remember organising many a trade show. The proposals would come in and I would always decline them. Then those higher up the totem pole would approve them and I’d get stuck trying to figure out how to feed thousands of people with little plastic cups and spoons.

Because that’s all you do at most trade shows.

Feed and water people. Trade shows can be fantastic and a great way of introducing certain new products to market. You have one major issue though.

Clutter. Big time clutter. They are usually jam packed with people and the demonstrators have no time to sell the benefits of your product. You’re also generally grouped by category (e.g. wine) so customers jostle down the wine row knocking back thimbles and have no idea what they just sampled.

Things to think about:

If you’re going to do a show GO HUGE and invest properly. A half-baked stand will do very little for you. Macs Brewery often do full bar tap installations and take over the whole corner of a convention centre. As a customer, you know that you’re having a Macs brand experience. Think of the stand cost like buying a section of land. You still have to build a house, plumb the loo and throw in some furniture. Staff, marketing collateral, samples and AV equipment can soak up budgets pretty quick. Allow 4-5 times the stand cost as a starting point. Corporate stands often run at 20 times.

Demonstrators are salespeople. Make sure the people on the stand can sell. Make sure they pitch the product, then give the sample. You’re not there to feed people and hand out free stuff!

Consider demonstrating outside your category or industry. Do food at a home show. Do pet food at a baby show. At least you’ll be different and not get lost in the clutter.

Retailer demonstration packages are generally far more cost effective. Most supermarkets will let you demonstrate starting from around $50 per store. Smaller retailers will let you demo for free. Why pay for an exhibitor site with little customer engagement?

Don’t attend because everybody else is. I used to often hear “but our competitor is going to be there so we have to have a presence". Rubbish. Let them have it and go somewhere else, why shout over each other?

Founder of the advertising sampling movement Claude C Hopkins (1866-1932) says it best:

So with sampling. Hand an unwanted product to a housewife and she pays it slight respect. She is in no mood to see its virtues. But get her to ask for a sample after hearing your story and she is in a very different position. She knows your claims. She is interested in them else she would not ask. And she expects to find the qualities you told.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Zealand Media Wars!

Bring it on traditional media.
Your desperate attempts to pull your nose diving little cash cows out of the spiral amuses me.

Today's Herald on Sunday?
The screeching battlecry of an aggrieved drowning wilderbeast. Page after page devoted to discrediting new media content providers. It amuses me even more that your lazybus journalism reported these stories in the first place and gave them legs. The fakie TradeMe nude mum. Where did I first see the photos?

I must admit that I too was cynical of the 'digital paradigm shift.' But it's real, and it's happening and the traditional media blood letting will continue until you guys get it and start giving the people of New Zealand decent content.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Preparing Key Messages for SpaceWalking Astronauts

Houston- we have a problem. Prepare for key messages.

At first rumblings that there’s a media issue on the horizon, Houston communications cranks out four pages of key messages It’s horribly inefficient and more importantly, ineffective. Especially when most communications Houstons don’t write key messages, they write laundry lists of facts. I was asked to sign off on one of these laundry lists this morning developed by a junior Houston.

She is a very good Houston, but had got into the habit of cranking out four-page lists to keep up appearances for the Astronauts.

I had to remind her that key messages are:

1. For internal use only

2. For use by company approved Astronauts or Houstons only i.e. people that have an understanding of the issue already to act as media spokespeople

3. For communicating an established organisational, strategic position.

For example: "We aim to find water on Mars by 2040".
Is a project fact

"I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime". Buzz Aldrin
Is a project key message (that’s why it gets quoted-that’s what you want).
Three of four maximum. Not pages, messages.
If the astronauts are out spacewalking, they don’t have time to read four-page documents when Oprah rings for a chat. Keep it simple, understand the issues, and make sure you nail the biggies on the media call.

"I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises." Neil Armstrong. You and me both Neil.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

JetStar CEO Takes Media Tips from Veitch

After listening to CEO of JetStar Bruce Buchanan on Radio New Zealand this morning I'm quite convinced that the has been taking media training tips from Tony Veitch. The best piece of media management advice I've ever been given: "say sorry!". Turns out both Buchanan and Veitch have been given this chestnut too, but do you think they could say it?

Buchanan had a shocker in the Herald on Sunday last week with the excusefest megamix:

"We are apologetic." Is not SORRY

"Air New Zealand is being MEAN to us." Is not SORRY

"Air New Zealand made a a BIG DEAL of Prime Minister John Key being left in Queenstown." Is not SORRY.

So Radio NZ gave you another go this morning Mr JetStar CEO Bruce Buchanan. And how did that go?

"We understand that people just want us to say sorry"....(BUT YOU DIDN'T).

Live replay of the excusefest megamix, remashed with some 'we're all wise in hindsight'. He threw in a little bit of weather and fog and airports and slow border management (?) and then tried to bribe everyone with a '$50 if your plane is late'guarantee. Whoopee!(Um, and didn't Air New Zealand do that first to pull your pants down a couple of weeks back?). Check out their LAME deal below.

Posted via email from cjlambert's posterous

Saturday, July 4, 2009

'Entergagement' for Dummies

I need a new word that’s not 'entertaining'. I keep saying it in meetings, sometimes I say 'entertainment'.

Your content needs to be 'entertaining'. Or -there is an 'entertainment' aspect that you can’t ignore in your social media strategy.

The usual response, when I unleash the magical E! channel word, is a physical twitch of disapproval.

Sometimes a bumped coffee and an under the breath mutter from my no longer captivated audience. On Wednesday I got a stern, "that’s not relevant to this campaign.”

If you are a serious pinstriped suit financial services company then I can understand the flashes of horror about mixing up your products with a spoonful of Paris Hilton. That’s not quite what I mean though. Geeky, interesting, informative content is—‘entertaining’-it doesn’t have to be Las Vegas.

In government PR 2.0, no one wants to campaign on the dancing clown ticket. I get that. You do need to be a real person though. Real people that are dry, boring, preachy and negative don’t get invited to the Friday night drinks. Obama is ‘entertaining’ to me; and he’s no dancing clown.

Relevant, engaging, what other words can I use? I have the attention span of a goldfish when I’m hoovering through online content. I get through a lot of it everyday and you’d better be cooking something tasty if you want me to park up and stay for dinner.

So from now on it's 'entergagement'. Your content needs to be 'entergaging'. That’ll really confuse them.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Women Love Cars, Boobs & Stripper Poles

Stroppy Tart Alert
I'm a huge Tom Peters fan and have just reminded myself why after a quick rescan of the 2005 'Trends' book. It's astonishing how accurate he is.
The chapter on the opportunities around marketing to women has always been something I've found highly puzzling. It seems OK to talk about 'Gen' this and 'empty nest' something but as soon as you start talking about 'marketing to women' you get the 'uh oh, stroppy tart' eye roll. Tom Peters beleaguers the point that it's not about being patronising and WYMNSY; it's about opportunity. Yes Tom,you are right. Why can marketing departments full of women not get this?

It's also interesting how the examples he uses all echo my own experiences: hotels and cars. I've also added a wee gem I hear women in marketing departments moan about every day: ad agencies.

So you think I'm a slapper?
Hotel:Is it just you?

Hotel: How many for breakfast?


Hotel: It's OK if you order two (wink)


Hotel:We don't mind ,it won't show on the tab (winks again)

Me: One is fine.

Please hotel people there is a massive opportunity to market to women business travellers. I was impressed recently by a hotel that had a Cuisine food magazine waiting for me, Diet Coke get it. Talk about secure access from the car park, crank up the heater and have low-fat cereal. Women like warm and pretending to eat healthy.

Fast Cars and No Money
I come from a family of car dealers. I've driven hundreds of cars. I love cars and know a bit about them. I do my own oil changes. All car dealers know that the woman is the decision maker- 'Sell the car to the wife'. I went to the dealer to select my company car. Some of the guys from the office came for a trip because they were bored. I was standing there with a generous car allowance ready to hand to someone and being completely ignored while the three male tyre kickers test drove sports cars. It wasn't until the dealer asked for one of the guys licenses to do the change of ownership the penny dropped: 'Um, it's actually for me-I'm their boss."

Open Letter To Ad Agencies
Dear Ad Agencies,

I don't need an account manager with hot legs and big boobs. Please give me one that knows about marketing or in the least, one that can send and receive emails. Help/support/collaborate/LISTEN is important. I don't need my ego stroked. regards, your chick client (and all the other mainly chick clients that make up this department). PS. Your Christmas party with topless strippers on poles was hideous, tacky, and distasteful. The 5% male attendees got some great pics, the 95% chick attendees are still reeling. It's Easter. (*true story).

Most Women In Marketing Are Women
Shocking I know. Trust your instincts and don't approve things that don't make sense to you. It's not WYMNSY, it's understanding your customers. Right, off to ShowGirls (?!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Time Caller: Social Media Squawkback

I had an interesting conversation yesterday and it's really got me thinking
I was presenting some social media options as part of a communications plan and explaining the importance of social media tools for media monitoring.

"You now have a feedback loop on your communication channels that you need to manage. Social media monitoring. Important."

Very experienced media relations exec and former journo then floored me.
"Isn't it like talkback radio though. You don't really care what some random caller says. You're only worried about the main commentators."

My immediate response was 'of course you care'. The power of the individual, referrals and trust and involvement and tribal influencers. How do you truly measure the effectiveness of your communications without listening to the feedback?

Her response was disturbingly logical

"When I was media manager for [large sports team], people would parrot stuff at you off two or three commentators. A couple of sports jocks set the agenda. Why bother with the rest?"

It's the clutter argument. And it's a good one

I've often thought of microblogging, like Twitter, as being very "talkback radio". Each username has their own little media platform and they talk, and talk, and talk.
There's not a lot of "long time listener" going on and everyone's got something to say.
  1. Are you more worried about what the host says or about what the callers say?
  2. How does this translate in social media?
  3. Is the host and caller metaphor accurate or is the communication flow different?

My small brain is still processing and I don't know the answer
The resource requirement for running a CIA style social media phone tapping operation would be massive and surely outweigh any benefit. Maybe just pick off the loudest drum bangers and get alongside them. Ignore the background static. Turn 'comment moderation' on and polish up the rest?

Love to hear your thoughts on this callers-talk to me now--hello?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Managing Little Miss Chatterbox in Your Communications

There’s a new phrase that’s going around and I’m not convinced that it’s a good thing.

“That’s my personal view”.

I choked on my coffee when I heard a very senior and very experienced public relations practitioner use the phrase on a political panel discussion over the weekend.

“The organisation’s position is x, my personal view is y”.

The PR guy that triggered my gag reflex was in-house, skilled, and in a very high profile and politicised role. He was a guest on the show as a representative of his organisation.
To be fair to the PR guy, the interviewer accused him of fence sitting, and he replied that he wasn’t because, “ The organisation’s position is x, my personal view is y”. Basically he tripped over his ego.

Once upon a time, this would be considered dissent in the ranks and you would be packing your desk. So why has this become acceptable and, more importantly, should it be?

Tools of the Cat Herding Trade

I’ve worked in both corporate and public sector communications (brand and media) and the ‘herding cats’ metaphor is still the most accurate. Communications plans, key messages, brand guidelines, protocols, sign offs and media training of approved spokespeople. All tools to retain control so that some wally doesn’t say something that they shouldn’t. Singing from the same songsheet and being ‘on message’ and all that. One message/in volume/over time. I’m sure you’ve sat through that PowerPoint presentation.

Work Life Balance Has Changed to Work Life Integration

Our job is part of who we are and social media tools such as blogging, FaceBook and Twitter have given employees a soapbox to preach from. As we take increased ownership over brands at a personal level, it’s hard to leave out the place where we spend 40 plus hours per week. We have plenty to say about our employers and inside information is valuable currency in social media transactions. Personal views are given more credibility and perceived as being untainted by paid media and organisational spin.

“ I work for Japasonic and I’ve spent all day processing returns of the Japowave 3000-the doors all fall off LOL!!!”

There goes your 600k ad campaign. And aren’t you pleased you hired that PR company to write key messages and press releases about the Japowave 3000?
It’s a complex area and over the next few months, I’m going to attempt to come up with some practical ways to minimise the risk and disruption that social messages can cause to your top-down messaging. In the meantime, make it very clear to employees that:
  1. There are certain areas of the organisation that they are not suitably skilled or do not have the authority to comment on,
  2. Approved spokespeople are in place (or should be!) to provide comment for the organisation,
  3. Public comment whether in mainstream media or social platforms that the company deems to be inappropriate will result in disciplinary action or possible dismissal.
Big guns. Yes, but necessary. I’ve seem some very well intentioned individuals create huge public relations disasters simply because they didn’t have an organisation-wide view. It’s easy to get out of your depth. It’s easy to unravel all the good work that the rest of your teams are doing positively representing your organisation.

Individuals can’t get bigger than the organisation they work for and represent
Suitably experienced people should be trained as ambassadors. In my personal view, ‘in my personal view’ has no place in relation to organisational comment and needs to be stamped out.

If you’re wondering about point 3 ‘deems to be inappropriate’, don’t worry, so am I. This is where things start to get ethically very complex! More to come!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Four Reasons Why First Mover Advantage Won't Give You Brand Leadership

I'm going to disagree with Jack Trout, the Godfather of brand strategy. I don't think first is best anymore. I think it used to be. Planning to be the first won't give you brand leadership. Here's four reasons why.

1. Savvy Consumers

As the shopping-scape gets more complex and cluttered, consumers try to regain control over their purchase experience through information gathering. They want to see catalogues, comparison shop online and read consumer reviews. They want to be in control. If you go shopping for a laptop, you are asking questions such as 'can I burn a DVD? how heavy is it? how long will the battery last?. I don't think you are asking 'who invented the laptop?'.

2. Information Transparency

I sat down to write some ad copy for my online store selling home-wares. I posted the copy. My copy and layout was far better than any of my competitors. Within the next 48 hours, all of my competitors had copy and pasted my ad and updated their sites. The years I spent in ad agency meetings, marketing lectures and sales workshops all handed over to my rivals. Blue-sky thinking has to provide a return on investment. I spent too long on the ad for the benefit it provided and the sales it transacted.Copyright, trademarking and intellectual property is very hard to protect. Speed is everything. Copy/paste is very effective.

3. The Early Bird Doesn't Always Catch the Worm

The first time I saw an iPhone the proud owner was so eager to show me the horizontal/vertical view. Big deal.
I was one of the first people in New Zealand to buy a Palm LifeDrive. 4GB hard drive, mp3/mp4 players, removable storage, WiFi AND horizontal/vertical view. It was like a new creature from outer-space. The Palm LifeDrive turned out to be a terrible product for Palm (and me) and was killed off quite quickly by Palm (and me). Palm couldn't get all the innovation into a product that was also a phone, so they left the phone functionality out.

I wouldn't consider the iPhone a 'blue-sky' product. It's an evolution of existing technologies combined well. Apple is 'out-combining' other companies and is more relevant-for now. How long since you've seen a 'this site is best viewed in Netscape Navigator' web page? Make sure the worms haven't moved.

4. 'I Am the Greatest' Muhammad Ali Arrogance

I've seen too many companies dismiss competitor threats based on 'we're number one in the category' logic. Little guys are hungry and they're coming for your market share. Right now and from directions you don't expect. Competitors can find out who your suppliers are, what your trade terms are and what volumes you are trading with a few emails and an industry report or two (-either that or they'll ask their friends on Face Book).

Keep an eye on the outliers, not just your top two or three competitors. Look at other industries, other countries, other technologies for ideas. Then take them. Copy/paste. Tweak them and recombine them to stay relevant.

First mover advantage may be useful if you want into the Guinness Book of Records, but it won't give you brand leadership. Sorry Jack.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

People-Centred Sustainability: The Gospel According to Roddick

It’s very cool to have a ‘sustainability’ section on your website. It’s where you put your ‘sustainability statement’ and write some nonsense about carbon footprints and turning off your computer monitors at night. Some companies really go to town in the ‘sustainability’ section with detailed information about their compost systems and half flush toilets. Good grief.

And then there’s Earth Hour. Pull the plug on some stuff around your office and the planet will reward you with a big sloppy kiss and increased revenues.

I don’t think it’s wrong although I think a lot of companies are so busy copying each other's green stuff that they've missed the point. I would just like to get back to the pure, people-centred, gospel of sustainability pioneered by The Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick.

Advertising has Bill Bernbach. Sustainability has Anita Roddick.
Read her book "Business as Unusual". I first read it in my graduate year at university after reading countless academic volumes on marketing ethics and triple bottom line audit reporting that was all theory and completely unworkable. Anita Roddick was living it out in dream-crushing UK retail.

Her unwavering faith in people, democracy and our role as stewards of the earth were not words of a businessperson. Yet she had a thumping retail empire that was taking market share of the giants of the beauty industry. She refused to advertise in paid media. She refused to prey on the insecurities of women about their looks and body. Business decisions were voted on and trading terms were designed to assist micro-enterprise in developing nations. Products weren’t tested on animals.

Tabloid journalists in the United Kingdom stalked and harassed Roddick to try and document her downfall. The Body Shop claims were revolutionary -the war cry was sensational. Anita Roddick and The Body Shop really were saving the world by caring for the people in it.

People-centred sustainability
The green movement seems to have turned sustainability into sandal wearing nature worship. Read any company website sustainability section and you won’t see anything about people. It’s a lot easier to put your paper in the recycling bin than be nice to your workmates (I’m speaking from experience here). Or wield power over junior staff when decisions don’t go your way.

Anita never abused her power, even as the company’s founder and major shareholder. Flexible working hours, ethical brand and corporate communications, 360 degree management reviews, employee share schemes-these should be the tools and language of sustainability.

We can’t get ‘greenie points for that’
It’s a point of contention how much The Body Shop tried to score greenie points versus how genuinely green the blood was that flowed through Anita’s veins. Her sale of the business and it's subsequent poor performance and loss of brand equity to me proves you can’t fake it.

Companies seem to have got meaner as they’ve got greener and end up spending millions on smoke and mirrors to try and maintain their image as whale-saving good guys. I see you through the smoke McDonalds and friends, and as social and personal media channels develop, it’s getting harder for the fakes to buy their way green. Your green audits might look nice in an annual report but your staff and customers won’t buy it. What are you trying to achieve?

Point your sustainability policies to people and communicate in people-centred language and your audiences will start buying what you’re selling. I would much rather hear that you have a wellness policy and daily fruit deliveries than recycled ink cartridges and double-sided printing. I would rather hear that you give excess stock to the local Salvation Army than that your executives drive hybrid vehicles.

Anita would have liked People Hour
Like Bill Bernbach, Anita Roddick had a magic that cannot be recreated and I don’t think we will see another like her. Sounds dramatic but I believe it. I think Anita would have liked Earth Hour. I think she would have liked People Hour a lot more.

"I am still looking for the modern equivalent of those Quakers who ran successful businesses, made money because they offered honest products and treated their people decently . . . This business creed, sadly, seems long forgotten.” Anita Roddick

Monday, April 6, 2009

Encourage the Inner MacGyver in Your Marketing

"Your radio ad on the weekend sucked. The chicken ad. Yeah, it sucked"
When the Big Cat from the Big Office rang and said that we were getting pasted by a competitor the sky was definitely falling in his world. Chicken sales were down.

Out to please Big Cat in such a life and death situation I could hear the Macgyver music playing in my head. Reactive ad here we come.

It's Friday
"It's Friiiidayyyy", whined Agency. "We have no copywriters, the booth is booked and the voice over guy is REALLY inflexible. You've got no spots and we won't get it loaded at the station for Friday drive-home radio."

"It's Friday" was not a response I could go back to the Big Cat with and certainly not something that His Royal Hotness Richard Dean Anderson would say.

"OK I will write the copy, we'll just do a 15 second ad, I'll send it through," said I, in my best Swiss Army knife voice.

"Tell your sound guy. We can bribe him with the leftover Moet from the catalogue photography..OK and the voice they're not mine to give away..yes you can have one too."

I could only find Christmas radio copy on my computer and gave it a real dirty haircut, lawnmower style. It kind of made sense. It was all about the price and our chickens being bigger. Surely as long as that gets through?

I knew it was bad. I didn't even listen to the recording when Agency played it back to me. Best not to be haunted by the sound. Approved. Lock and load. 20 minutes and three bottles of Moet.

'Sales were better than if we had done nothing'
Macgyver would have been proud of my amazing resourcefulness and commitment to task.
Pity no one else was. After two days of mockery I finally got the Big Cat to concede that 'sales were better than if we had done nothing'. Isn't that the whole point? What was I going to say next time Big Cat called? It's Friday?

My half-baked something is better than your perfect nothing
Encourage getting your messages live and to market. It's much better to tolerate a few typos and some clumsy wording than lose speed and agility. Speed to market is increasingly important and my half-baked something is better than your perfect nothing. Yes my chicken ad did suck, but it was better than nothing. Nitpicking and criticism without listening to the constraints of your team is demotivating.

"The bag's not for what I take, Colson - it's for what I find along the way." Macgyver

Encourage the inner Macgyver.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"The Toby Effect" in Direct Marketing

I love junk mail. It's more exciting than the real mail and usually doesn't come in those unmarked window envelopes that give me palpitations.

I got a real gem the other night.

"Where is Toby?"

It was the most genius piece of direct mail design I've seen in a very long time.

The execution

1. A4 copier paper wonkily cut with scissors to approximately DL size

2. Headline handwritten in permanent marker across the top sloping downward. Child's handwriting " Where is Toby?"

3. Bad black and white photocopy of big fat, fluffy, tabby cat (Toby) on left hand side. Sellotape visible where the original photo had been taped to the backing.

4. Copy next to photo handwritten in pen "We've looked everywhere and we can't find him. He is a really good cat. I hope he's not hurt. If you have seen him call 655 8475. Thank-you for your help."

It nearly made me cry. The crying wasn't for Toby. Not that I wanted Toby to be AWOL. They were tears for the simplicity of a well communicated message that jumped out of a pile of catalogues and flyers that ad agencies and marketing departments had spent thousands designing and producing and 'triple-sign-offing' and fighting over in meetings. Sincerity and simplicity with a clear call to action. Not to mention the per piece production costs and speed to market.

On my next stroll up the road to get the paper I caught myself asking local cats "have you seen Toby?" The "Toby Effect" had me.

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” Leo Burnett

Friday, April 3, 2009

English only rule should stand at Thorndon New World

A store manager wants his staff to communicate in one of the official languages of New Zealand and it makes the news. Slow news day over at TV One.

Let's get a few things straight. A supermarket is a workplace. Not a pub or a gym or a library. A workplace. You have to have 'an official language' to make things work. Larger stores employ up to 200 staff, many from other countries and who are non-native speakers of English.

My first job was as a packer at Hillcrest New World in Hamilton. I was 15, on $4.25 an hour (before tax), drove a red Nifty 50 and life was good. I was reasonably diligent although the store owner thought I was too thick to be promoted up to a checkout chick after I put pool chemicals in a bag with some one's silverbeet-that's another story.

After listening to 24 Anthony Robbins Cd's, I recovered from my pool chemical setback and worked as a grocery sales rep and a brand manager for one of the 'evil' supermarket brands.

I must admit, I too baulked after seeing a "please speak English only on the shop floor " sign in the staff room of a large Auckland store about four years ago. It sounds very 'Adolf'.

The department manager (not a native speaker of English) didn't mind at all.

"We can't have a couple of Indian guys putting out yogurts speaking Hindi and a Chinese guy standing next to them putting out cheese getting left out. Bad for the team," said the voice of reason.

The main motivation for the policy is to limit chatter between staff in other languages. You'll notice a number of stores have other languages spoken by staff advertised and encourage customer interraction in other languages.

It's very tempting to torch the supermarkets but this time, I'm with them. Put your posters back up Thorndon New World.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Maori TV from Manu and Me

I'm very happy that you got to five Maori Television.

I don't know much, or anything for that matter about Maori versions of things and all those conferences about 'indigenous' this and that. I don't know how it's funded and the charter and content ratios.

I just love Maori TV. It's cool. The presenters are cool, the graphics are cool and they play arty films and documentaries mixed in with kids cartoons and Breakers games.

In my day, Manu was on PlaySchool and TeKarere came on before the 'real' news and that was about it for Maori content.

When Maori TV launched five years ago I expected some PC drivel about how my lot had oppressed their lot and I certainly didn't expect to understand much beyond when Manu taught me to count to 10. Once the scary recession monster settles down, it will be great to see more companies advertising through such a targeted and positive medium.

Happy fifth birthday Maori Television and may you have many more.

Manu is now on display in the TePapa collections

Two programmes are being produced in house by Maori Television to screen on the official anniversary of Maori Television – Saturday March 28 2009. HARI HURITAU is a one-and-a-half hour special looking back over the past five years of Maori Television and will be followed by HARI HURITAU NGAHAU – a music entertainment show hosted by Te Hamua Nikora and Ngatapa Black.

Sensodyne Dove Dived Jellyfish Ad Worst By Far

'I dove under the waves'. Glaxo-Sensodyne, it's a shocker. It sounds stupid so then the put it on the screen like a big Powerpoint slide so you can read it back to yourself and confirm that it really does sound stupid. I don't know who wrote it, but it is quite frightening that some marketing folk sitting around a meeting table eating muffins approved it. So then it gets really good.

Experienced over-the-counter FMCG marketers know that jellyfish are in the habit of 'mouth attacks'. Therefore, anyone with sensitive teeth automatically can relate to the 'jellyfish attack as I dove under the waves' metaphor. Very relevant, and good use of your expensive 30 seconds. Perhaps they did a focus group and research proved that logical things like iced drinks and food ranked about 67th against the high-ranking 'dove under the waves jellyfish attacks'. It doesn't pay to get presumptuous.

The scenario gets more ridiculous with claims that switching toothpaste is SUCH as hassle! Oh the hassle of reaching for the blue box instead of the red one for the upwardly mobile time-poor 18-35yrs female in the ad. And after a jellyfish mouth attack too the poor thing. Please make it stop Glaxo, watching your ad is like biting down on tinfoil.

Brand Comms on Twitter: 8 things You Should Know

Handy stuff from Rik Klau over at Google:

1. Setting up a username makes monitoring Twitter much easier. This was a particularly acute problem for Blogger, since "blogger" is a pretty generic term. Setting up a persistent query for "blogger" yielded far too many hits per minute to be worthwhile... weeding through all of them to find the few that were specifically about big-B Blogger would take all day. Searching for "@blogger", by contrast, is much easier and more effective.

2. Replying as an individual is sometimes better than replying as the brand: The traffic of replies directed to @blogger varies from a couple a day to a few dozen (after launches like our Friend Connect integration), and some of those tweets are pretty specific to the individual user. Learning from Max Kalehoff's experiences at Clickable, in mid-February I started replying more as myself (@rklau) when the tweet was specific to the user. This has two advantages (at least): reducing the noise from the actual Blogger account to the more than 8,000 followers, and establishing a more personal connection between the user and myself. And I'm not alone - several other Blogger team members are engaged, and reaching out directly to users. Reactions are uniformly positive: people love knowing that individuals are involved, that we care about the product, and that we are trying to improve their Blogger experience.

3. Negative feedback and user frustration are part of the cost of admission: Not everyone is going to be thrilled with everything we do, and we needed to be comfortable with surfacing that frustration once we got active on Twitter. It's possible to turn frustrated users into fans with just a single message (see here: "Makes me sad!" "Try..." "OMG I love you!"), but the key is to engage users when appropriate, and offer guidance if you have any to give.

4. Users will help you do your job once you commit: This was true at FeedBurner when we used persistent RSS queries to surface blog posts and comments about FeedBurner so we could respond rapidly, and it's no less true today: once you open up this channel of communications, your users will help you spread the word. We won't catch every comment intended for us (not everyone knows we're on Twitter, for starters) - but the clusters of friends and followers often means that one of our followers will be following someone else who could use our help. When one person asks about unexpected behavior on Blogger, one of our followers will direct them to the right place. This is not a rare occurrence, and it creates a wonderful network effect that routinely amplifies our communications.

5. Use content you've already got: At Blogger, we already had Blogger Buzz, Blogger Status, Known Issues, Blogger in Draft blog, and Blogs of Note to communicate various info about Blogger. We use Twitterfeed to route the RSS feeds from each blog to our Twitter account. This ensures that anyone looking for the latest info about Blogger - whether it's a product announcement, a known issue, or a response to a user problem - can get it without having to look in multiple places. If you've got a corporate blog, recent announcements, or other content you're already producing, use Twitterfeed or Hootsuite or another tool to automatically route that content to Twitter so your followers hear from you on a regular basis. (Bonus tip: Press release-speak does not lend itself well to Twitter.)

6. Make sure multiple people are monitoring @replies for early warning signals. When Louis Gray notices that his RSS feed is broken due to what appears to be a Blogger bug (it was), you ignore such reports at your peril. Fortunately several of us saw the report, we were able to isolate the cause (one engineer in his hotel room in Austin, followed by one of our engineers in Krakow picking up where the other left off) and had a push ready within a day. Not only was Louis happy, it made our ensuing encounter on the plane home much more pleasant. :)

7. Ask questions. If you wait for everyone to ask you questions, you'll be reactive and you'll set the expectation that people will only hear from you when they complain. It's increasingly clear to us that a lot of Blogger users don't know that there are lots of options for customizing their templates available on the web, so last week we asked followers for their favorite recommendations. I'm summarizing those recommendations and will put a post on Blogger Buzz later today. (Which, of course, will get posted to Twitter as well.) Important note: if you ask questions, be prepared to act on the replies you get. Readers whose replies go into an apparent black hole will not be happy.

8. Be consistent. This is very much an extension of our "voice" online, and as such we've tried to ensure that when we do post, it sounds like us. 140 characters (the limit on Twitter messages) can be very restrictive, so ensuring that consistency is not always easy. This is particularly tricky if you're posting from multiple sources (corp blog, known issues, etc.) - so make sure some thought goes into how those posts are communicated, not just what is communicated.

As experiments go, this has been quite successful. We're reinforcing to users that we are listening and that we care about their experiences with the product (good and bad). It's no silver bullet - building and maintaining the product still require a tremendous investment of time and energy - but as part of a larger commitment to making a great product and keeping our users happy, it's absolutely a worthwhile investment. -hit record you may fall to sleep

I started reading the press stuff but then I started to lose the will to live. So then I had a coffee and braced myself to scan the document for dates. When is it coming? Don't know. Wake me up when you find out.

Shoe SPAM from has been getting some serious media, and rightfully so..what a great concept..shoe SPAM!

Kim Kardashian is the founder and chief fashion stylist of, an online shoe society that gives its customers their own set of stylists.

"Bob Shapiro and I started this company about a year ago, and we just launched it," Kim tells Anya. "Think about a shoe club of the month, You get a pair of shoes every month and it is amazing, and it's completely affordable -- $39 a month."

At US$39 a pair you do have to wonder if they are tacko-rama so they have glam looking 'personal stylists' to talk you into it...genius!

To become a member, shoppers take a survey to determine their look. Then, Kim and her fashion experts give customers a choice of five shoes per month to choose from.

I'm guessing the next bit is they SPAM you with shoes that you can't be bothered boxing up and sending back so you biff them in the back of your wardrobe. Very clever.

When Stars Twitter, a Ghost May Be Lurking

Published: March 26, 2009 NY Times

The rapper 50 Cent is among the legion of stars who have recently embraced Twitter to reach fans who crave near-continuous access to their lives and thoughts. On March 1, he shared this insight with the more than 200,000 people who follow him: “My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends.”

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Eric Gay/Associated Press

Shaquille O’Neal


Those were 50 Cent’s words, but it was not exactly him tweeting. Rather, it was Chris Romero, known as Broadway, the director of the rapper’s Web empire, who typed in those words after reading them in an interview.

“He doesn’t actually use Twitter,” Mr. Romero said of 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson III, “but the energy of it is all him.”

In its short history, Twitter — a microblogging tool that uses 140 characters in bursts of text — has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal.

But someone has to do all that writing, even if each entry is barely a sentence long. In many cases, celebrities and their handlers have turned to outside writers — ghost Twitterers, if you will — who keep fans updated on the latest twists and turns, often in the star’s own voice.

Because Twitter is seen as an intimate link between celebrities and their fans, many performers are not willing to divulge the help they use to put their thoughts into cyberspace.

Britney Spears recently advertised for someone to help, among other things, create content for Twitter and Facebook. Kanye West recently told New York magazine that he has hired two people to update his blog. “It’s just like how a designer would work,” he said.

It is not only celebrities who are forced to look to a team to produce real-time commentary on daily activities; politicians like Ron Paul have assigned staff members to create Twitter posts and Facebook personas. Candidate Barack Obama, as well as President Obama, has a social-networking team to keep his Twitter feed tweeting.

The famous, of course, have turned to ghostwriters for autobiographies and other acts of self-aggrandizement. But the idea of having someone else write continual updates of one’s daily life seems slightly absurd.

The basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, for example, is a prolific Twitterer on his account — The Real Shaq — where he shares personal news, jokes and occasional trash talking about opponents with nearly 430,000 followers.

“If I am going to speak, it will come from me,” he said, adding that the technology allows him to bypass the media to speak directly to the fans.

As for the temptation to rely on a team to supply his words, he said: “It’s 140 characters. It’s so few characters. If you need a ghostwriter for that, I feel sorry for you.”

Athletes seem to be purists. Lance Armstrong, only hours after breaking his right collar bone, tweeted about it, using his left hand. Charlie Villanueva, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, tweeted at halftime from the locker room on March 15 about how “I gotta step up.” (His coach, Scott Skiles, was not pleased with his diversion, but the Bucks did win.)

But for candidates like Mr. Paul, Twitter is an organizing tool rather than a glimpse behind the curtain. During the presidential campaign, said Jesse Benton, Mr. Paul’s campaign manager, “we assigned a staffer to each social network site. Each was used to generate the same message as a way to amplify the message and drive people back to our site.”

He said that in rare cases, however, supporters would read more meaning in the online relationship than was intended. “On a bunch of social-networking sites, we would get some sincere written notes that would say ‘thank you for letting me be your friend,’ ” he recalled.

Many online commentators are appalled at the practice of enlisting ghost Twitterers, but Joseph Nejman, a former consultant to Ms. Spears who helped conceive her Web strategy, said there was a more than a whiff of hypocrisy among critics.

“It’s O.K. to tweet for a brand,” he said, remarking how common it is for companies to have Twitter accounts, “but not O.K. for a celebrity. But the truth is, they are a brand. What they are to the public is not always what they are behind the curtain. If the manager knows that better than the star, then they should do it.”

In the last couple of months, the Britney Spears Twitter stream has become a model of transparency. Where the feed once seemed that it was all written personally by Ms. Spears — even the blatantly promotional items about a new album — lately it can read like a group blog, with some posts signed “Britney,” some signed by “Adam Leber, manager” and others by “Lauren.” That would be Lauren Kozak, social-media director of (Ms. Spears’s management team declined to be interviewed for this article.)

An unabashed user of ghost Twitterers is Guy Kawasaki, chief executive of, an aggregation site. Mr. Kawasaki, with more than 80,000 followers, is full of praise for the two employees who enliven his Twitter feed, often posting updates while he is on stage addressing a conference.

“Basically, for 99.9 percent of people on Twitter, it is about updating friends and colleagues about how the cat rolled over,” he said. “For a tenth of a percent it is a marketing tool.”

Annie Colbert, a 26-year-old freelance writer from Chicago who is one of Mr. Kawasaki’s ghost Twitterers, said she judged her performance based on how often her postings for Mr. Kawasaki are “retweeted,” that is, resent by other users of Twitter.

Recently, she said, she had a coup when the actor Ashton Kutcher repeated her post about a YouTube video showing someone getting high from a “natural hallucinogen.”

“Facebook is like ‘Cheers,’ where everyone knows your name,” she said. “Twitter is the hipster bar, where you booze and schmooze people.”

She said she had been considering trying to get other ghost Twitter clients. “I don’t think I could ghost Twitter for 100 people,” she said. “More like 10 clients. I think I would have to get to know them.”