Media Analysis

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We hear it all the time. From clients, from fellow marketers, from our peers: Content creation is great, and there are so many people in our organizations and institutions who have a great story to tell, and want to tell it. The challenge is getting those people to sit down and contribute content in a meaningful and timely manner.

This is understandable. A discussion sprang up this week about why we don’t see more college presidents twittering. My first reaction? They’re already insanely busy, what college president has TIME for that? The same has happened time and again… the CEO of one of our clients wants to blog, and he’d be great at it, but we can never get him to sit down and write.

As marketers, this has become an interesting new challenge. We used to play the role of content creator ourselves. But with blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube established as important communications channels, we’ve taken on a larger role of content aggregator and distributor, and even more important, content instigator.

I may be going down the road of coining yet another term for something someone has already named, but I think this is an important distinction to make. In order to get the right content in the right place with the right voice at the right time, we’ve got to have authenticity. And authenticity comes from having the actual person write, record, perform etc. Or as close to that as possible. We spend a lot of time worrying about what we’re going to create (a video, a podcast, a blog post, a newsletter article??)  and where we’re going to put it (on the website, on the blog, on youtube, on twitter, on facebook, everywhere??)

But how much time do we spend chasing down the content itself? I would argue that many marketers would respond — A LOT! A major role that gets lost in the shuffle of our many varied new marketing responsibilities is that of content instigator.

Instigator might be too nice. Nag, badger, bait, heckle, hound, cajole, bribe, beg! I’m sure most marketers have been reduced to some or all of these methods when attempting to get individuals to contribute to content marketing efforts. We’re learning every day what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to trying to get the content creation process to go smoothly and work for all the different parties involved.

In a future post I’ll talk about some ways we’ve been successful in doing so, but my point here is that it’s something we don’t often talk about but that is crucial in many marketing efforts today. We hope you’ll share some of your experiences with content instigation issues, and we’ll continue to talk about it in new ways.

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As a brand or a seller or a solicitor in the social media space, one of the big tenants to follow is to ask nicely, especially when you’re asking people to listen to you, opt in to emailings, or give you personal information.  Seth Godin has aptly termed it permission marketing, or “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

While this sounds easy, a lot of companies can’t get it right, and I feel…well…interrupted (interruption marketing is the exact opposite of permission marketing, and considered “old school” and ineffective in the social media space).

Which is why it’s great when you come across a company that does do it right.  NPR did it pretty darn well for me this morning when I went to email someone an article, here’s how I did it:

This is pretty standard.  When I went to put in my NPR station, that’s when it got good:

There was a nice auto-fill drop-down menu that allowed me to quickly choose my station.  Granted, they were using this to collect data, but they sure made it easy for me to give them the data they wanted, and all I had to do was start typing…. no scrolling through a bunch, or even having to click a lot.

The super-easy buttons may be nothing new, but it was to-the-point and again allowed me to move along quickly, while they still got the info that they wanted.

Part of the email I received as both confirmation and invitation to a further action very nicely and obviously told me that I didn’t need to register for the community.  Well I signed up anyway.

And they brought me almost directly to an FAQs section on their community, which is what they were asking me to sign up for.  It answered important questions like:

Great!  I was wondering what made it different.  And look, I can even rate whether the answer was helpful.

None of this seems new, but the way that everything was put together made it easy for me as a user, it made it a quick process with few steps and clicks, was non-instrusive, and asked me for my permission along the way. NPR used regular tactics, put a little bit of thought into the design and the communications, and made me not only say yes, but made it pretty hard for me to say no.

So next time you want to ask people to listen to you or join you, make it so easy that no doesn’t enter their heads.  That takes thought, as Tim Walker put it:

Who else does it right?  What makes it easy for you to say yes?

After much consideration of all the great organizations who entered, we are happy to announce Crossroads Community Foundation as the winner of our contest and recipient of a free social media report. Congratulations to Crossroads Community Foundation!

Crossroads Community Foundation is an organization that connects donors with non-profit organizations. They organize and manage donations into funds, then distribute grants to causes in need. They are proponents of supporting local organizations and creating strong tie to the community.

In addition, they have a Youth in Philanthropy Program, which teaches youth the value of philanthropy in society, and trains them in the workings of NPOs and how they can become involved, or even how they can apply for their own grants.

Take a look at Crossroads Community Foundation, and see what they’re up to. Over the course of our evaluation for their report, we will be blogging any updates about their progress so check back for periodic updates about their social media development.

I got wind of two “ads” on YouTube for (which does online computer backup).  I thought they highlighted a lot of good things that are happening in marketing these days.  Namely authenticity, personality, and (because I can actually add this part) storytelling.

First, the ads:



  1. Storytelling: Aside from the obvious story that the JKL writers came up with above, the story behind how these came to be is pretty fun too.  Last year, Carbonite was running an ad on the Howard Stern Show.  Well, the ad came on at the same time that Jimmy Kimmel was being interviewed by Howard and Jimmy actually chimed in after the ad ran with a “Hey, I’ve been using Carbonite for years!” and then he and Howard talked it up for a few minutes.  Carbonite’s online sales shot up immediately following.  Jimmy was on the show again a few months later (Carbonite was still being advertised at that time) and they talked about it again, and Carbonite’s sales shot up.In June, Jimmy decided he was going to do live endorsements for his show.  But he endorses things he’s used, tried out and likes.  Smart move on Carbonite’s part to get in on that action.  So Jimmy’s writing team came up with these perfectly cheesy skits for the occasion!  That’s a pretty good story.
  2. Authenticity: Jimmy actually uses Carbonite, pays for it, and loves it.  No one paid him to talk on HSS for several minutes about he loves it.  Excellent.  The perfect brand ambassador is someone who loves the product and is willing to talk about it.  Oh, and it’s especially perfect if he happens to be famous and run a widely-viewed TV show.
  3. Personality: Bringing the brand down to a human level that people can relate to is key.  While Jimmy doesn’t exactly give the brand itself a particular personality, it certainly makes the brand more personal to people who watch this skit.  They can relate to the situation, get ticked off if it’s happened to them, and then get relieved that there’s a solution.  Phew!

So let’s see what we have here:

  • Jimmy Kimmel uses, pays for and likes Carbonite
  • Jimmy Kimmel is big time
  • Jimmy relates to potential Carbonite users (or, rather, they relate to him, but I needed to start the sentence with Jimmy so it looked nice)

Through some combination of the Symmetric Property and the Transitive Property (please don’t question my high school logic recollection), Carbonite gets some personal love from customers via Jimmy Kimmel.

And, to boot, except for the fact that the videos got viral and made it to YouTube (as they well should have), it was still pretty much entirely traditional marketing!  Gotta love when that happens.

I’m officially on “Spring Break,” although that doesn’t ring as well as it did in undergrad. Truth be told, I will be spending the week writing my thesis and setting up some important things for the new company. I’ll pretend it’s warm in Boston. What that means is I’ll probably watch CSI: Miami at some point today, since A&E tends to play about 76 episodes every day.

Anyway, I had the overwhelming desire to post something because I actually just saw two commercials…in a row… that I thought were pretty good. Yeah, you can tell I don’t get this thought very often.

The first one was for United Methodist Church (I can’t find the video online at the moment… remember, I was supposed to be relaxing and reading the news right now…..I’ll post when I can find it).  It was a bunch of people walking around smiling, but of them had TV screens wrapped around their necks, showing depictions of themselves  in their “true” moods.  Most of them were angry or sad inside.  At the end, they offer to help you find your way, while a wonderfully peaceful looking older lady walks on the beach smiling.  I’ll admit, I’m not a huge woohoo church fan, but this pulls at your compassionate emotions enough that if there were someone who was feeling some emotional distress, this could actually be pretty effective.

The second one was a little diddy by Avis (also can’t find, don’t hate me, I haven’t sat on this couch without readings or work in a while!).  It was a car, an old, green car that sort of looks like a Honda Prelude, in a parking garage, and he’s talking to himself as his “owner” approaches.  He’s mumbling, upset that she’s gone away for a few days, left him there to stare at the wall.  But more importantly, he’s upset because she cheated on him, with Hybrid car she rented from Avis, which he smells on her.  It’s a great commercial.  His babbling is not only funny, but it tells you what Avis wants you to know.  Well done.

Ok, back the news.  I’ve got a nice little list of blog topics that have piled up the past few weeks, so expect a few to come….

We all remember the wicked light show put on by some guy in Ohio that got picked up by Miller Lite, right? If not, here’s a reminder:


So, Miller bought the rights to the Tran-Siberian Orchestra song, and put on their own light show outside their Miller House, as seen below:

Now, if you watch all three minutes of this clip, as I just did while searching for it, you see that it’s actually a pretty decent light show, complete with fireworks.

However, I had originally intended to write this post as an anti-Miller rant, and I still am. Here’s why. When I saw the small clip (from this three minutes) that Miller chose to put on the TV as part of their Christmas commercial, I was so unbelievably disappointed with the end result, I accused Miller (in my head of course) of horrible advertising, and felt embarrassed for them. After watching the full clip, I still think so. They couldn’t have chosen a part that had more lights, fireworks, whatever? The part they chose was the beginning, and it almost looked like a mini version of the Miller House that someone had rigged up to flash to the song, and that they were going to rely on the song popularity to draw people in. But no, they just messed up and picked the worst part of the clip they could.

So this will remain an anti-Miller rant.

Firstly, my apologies for the hiatus. I was travelling, at a wedding, driving to Atlanta and starting school this week, all of which required a large amount of my brain power.


This commercial, literally, rocks. Before you even see anything, you hear the unmistakable entrance of Phil Collins In the Air Tonight in the background, a puff of hair, and then the face of a gorilla. You’re not sure what the connection between the gorilla and the song is, but it sure looks a lot like Phil’s music video itself…. eyes closed, pondering life and breathing in the air. Then the drum set appears, and you anxiously ponder yourself, “Is he going to start playing? Please tell me he’s going to start playing.” Sure enough, he rocks out on the drums.

What does this have to do with candy? Cadbury’s tagline, “A glass and a half full of joy” may have been purposely left vague for exactly this reason. They were able to create an ad here that’s seemingly unconnected to chocolate, and tie it in wonderfully with the joy of life. Not only does that gorilla demonstrate his own joy during the song, but the audience definitely gets some joy out of it. Is there anyone that actually doesn’t like that song?

Kudos to Cadbury (and Fallon, their agency).


In response to the new Heineken commercial featured above, some are crying sexism. Some are crying sexism of themost severe form. How could females be depicted any worse?!

Well, I think this is a little overboard… ok, a lot overboard.

I think the commercial is well done: sleek, futuristic, simple, alluring and eye-catching. Paired with a song that brings the robot feel full-circle. I thought it was funky and fun. Not too much, but just enough. Great, perhaps not a hard feat to accomplish. It wasn’t blow-me-out-of-the-water great, but I’d say it was at least good.

So it looks alright. Let’s bring in political correctness. We have a beer that’s being advertised to a primarily male audience. No one can deny that a sexy woman will draw in the eyes of most heterosexual men, if only for a second. What’s the difference between this and having a regular woman in short skirt and a bare stomach? Perhaps you think those are sexist as well.

Is this an overarching problem with the image of women? Mmmm, I’d say not. I won’t lie, I like a commercial with a shirtless man with washboard abs. Is this a problem with the image of men? No, media planners know what’s going to get my attention. They know what’s pleasing to the eye. Some “real” woman walk around all day in a short skirt and bare stomach, with the purpose of attracting the eyes of men (Log this point as both a parallel between life and the commercial, and as a part of the process of segmentation that has probably gone on in the drawing rooms of beer marketers for decades…and perhaps less of a reason to get up-in-arms as a voice for all woman).

Let’s also admit to the fact that a lot of heterosexual males dream for at least one moment of having a woman who’s going to walk out and serve them beer. Even better, what if they had a robot that looked like a sexy woman who comes out and there’s a keg inside? Awesome… probably never going to happen unless they were willing to make some major sacrifices in a lot of different areas of a relationship. And they know that. Men have their own priorities. People have their own priorities.

My personal opinion in dealing with this as a woman is that denial, number one, does not do any good. Realize/admit to all of the above facts. Then take a personal check: if you’re a woman who takes offense to this, either recognize that you’re not the woman depicted in the commercial, nor do men expect you to be (and if they do, well, not for you), or recognize that you are the woman depicted in this commercial and understand that link and what it means to you.

After that, segment the market: This robot is not all women. It’s a depiction of one group of women that will draw the attention of a group of men who’s thoughts aren’t going to go much past the 30 seconds of air time, funky music and beer pouring… Enter Heineken. The men are going to be a lot more likely to go out and buy Heineken because of the cool commercial than they are to expect that their wife is going to bring them a cold beer from the fridge for the next 30 years. If they ask, hit them on the back of the head and make them get up and get it as usual.

If you don’t want that woman to be you, don’t let it be. Because guess what, it’s not you. It’s not all women. It’s not even a woman. It’s the fulfillment of a dream of what Heineken has identified as a portion of their core customers. Kudos to Heineken and a job well done.

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