Monthly Archives: November 2004

TiVo could create a new interest in Opt-In ads

TiVo is at it again, reinventing the format, the medium and environment it works in. A easy-to-miss news item talks of how TiVo will have ‘tags’ that appear as small icons on the screen, so that a viewer can click on them with a remote, to find out more.

If advertisers are smart, they will plan for segments when they can create interest in products –like the iPod– on TiVo. Wouldn’t it be ironical if people were to freeze a program in its tracks using TiVo, to watch a demo, or a ‘micro-episode,’ of a product in the storyline?

I like the idea of being able to ‘opt-in’ to advertising. It’s not often that we see a piece of (excuse the phrase) paradigm-shifting technology that could make marketers AND consumers happy.

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted by on November 29, 2004 in Advertising & Branding


Monicagate, Rathergate. Bias or obsession?

You can tell that the media is under the microscope in the same week that Bill Clinton chastises the media and CBS announces that Dan Rather will resign.

It’s not as simple as it seemed before the U.S. elections, when the big 3 networks, with Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings were cast as the anti-Bush liberal lobby that was automatically pro-Kerry. (see cartoon of the CBS logo!)

People tend to forget –and Clinton reminded Peter Jennings– that the networks did relentlessly chase after every angle of the Monica Lewinsky story.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2004 in Marketing


Search for advertising: Yahoo finds Ogilvy.

Yahoo must be taking Google seriously. Notice how it has just hired Ogilvy to do its advertising. Actually, with the new interest in Search –with the entry of Microsoft– both Yahoo and Google would be looking hard at communicating the larger strategic values of their brand.

There is another way, too to market your brand using advertisng: Get close to the ad community! Google, as this story shows, has moved to not just hire great agencies, but turn ad folk into evangelizers of the brand.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 17, 2004 in Communications


Election Advertising

Lest we forget, amidst the embarrassing campaign ads we had to stomach during the U.S. elections, there were some high points.

Take this copy for Mini Cooper:

“Let’s always be law-abiding liberals on the gas pedal and ultraconservatives at the pump….Let’s lobby Capitol Hill for more twisty highways. Let’s all skip the mudslinging and stick to the road ahead. Let’s motor.”


Then there was the 7-eleven coffee promotion, called 7-Election. It was as simple as offering customers a choice of a John Kerry or George Bush coffee cup in the chain’s 5,800 stores in the U.S.

The race, predictably, was neck-and-neck –with 65.4% of coffee ‘voters’ undecided. But when the results were tallied, Bush got 51.08% of the votes! It may not be a scientific poll, but as this story shows, considering that a million people a day drink 7-eleven coffee, it’s a promotion that’s got some clout.

As for Brand Bush and Brand Kerry…

Since several other marketers had joined the brand-wagon, Landor Associates interview 1,262 registered voters and found that:

Bush was associated with Bud Light, IBM and Ford (“reliable”, “humble”, “heritage”, “solid”)

Kerry is associated with brands such as Heineken, Apple, and BMW (“high-quality”, “high-performance”, “hip”, “young”)

Among undecided voters: Kerry was Starbucks while Bush was Dunkin’ Donuts.

Read the rest of this entry »


Media Bias: Why would advertisers care?

Here’s a different angle on last Friday’s post on Ads and politics, about attack ads and the ‘attack media.

It shocks me that so many are so shocked at media bias. It’s about time people stopped complaining about media ‘agenda setting’ and started accepting the reality of media ownership. It’s not just elections that bring this up. People questioned the BBC’s ‘objectivity’ in on his hostility concerning religion, and coverage of the Iraq war.

A recent Bivings Report looks at it from the perspective of advertisers, and essentially says that frankly, my dear they don’t give a damn.

Frankly, it does not ultimately matter. People have become accustomed to hearing advertisements for day-to-day, politically neutral products in all kinds of contexts that are biased. How many people have abandoned a company because it runs ads during NBC’s liberal drama on the Presidency, “The West Wing?”

Frankly, the media –be it cable, satellite radio, AM radio, NPR, or network TV– always throws in a dose of opinionated commentary, hate talk, political bias, and disregard for social norms. If advertisers are so upset by all this, they should be rushing for the exits from the Fox network (because of such fare as Trading Spouses) and the ABC (not because they don’t see eye to eye with Nightline, but because of fare such as Desperate Housewives.)

Just for the record:

Here is a top-10 list of media distortions, from Conservative Web site, MediaCenter.Org/

And here’s a link to Journalism.Org‘s study about people’s attitudes to media. (Increase in the percentage of people who believe the media is inaccurate, biased etc.)

If this is the reality of the media, no wonder advertisers hold their noses and continue to slot their ads.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 12, 2004 in Marketing


Product Demos work wonders.

After my post on Monday about the power of Brand Voice, and Southwest Airlines, I made a serendipitous discovery of an article (at by copywriter-turned-psychotactic idea man, Sean D’Souza (who also calls himself a cave guy and fire starter…)

His site,, is a wealth of ideas about ideas on marketing, including access to books with Tom peters-like titles (Lessons from the Cave, Brain Train etc) 

Check him out!

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted by on November 10, 2004 in Communications


Southwest Airline’s Brand Voice

Hard to beat Southwest Airlines for examples of how employees build the brand. Scene: A busy flight from Phoenix to Las Vegas on Sunday morning (11/07/04)  The usual snafus: passengers late to the gate because of long lines at security chokepoints, etc.

As the plane doors were closed, a flight steward came on the PA system delivering her chirpy welcome, and reminder about seatbelts and cell phones etc. However she prefaced it with: “I can’t believe we’re on-time!” Passengers laughed. Then, as the plane began to nudge out of the gate, the captain, in an equally cheery voice said “She better believe it! We are always on time! I know because I keep the log book in here!”

In most companies, a lesser mortal saying something not so complimentary about the brand would probably be fired! Not Southwest, where employees –and not just marketing people—manage the brand!

Such exhortations of the airline’s ‘brand voice’ are what differentiate products and services. For frequent fliers for whom short, no-frills, crampy flights are as uneventful as a bus ride, it’s these little things that make a difference. So many marketers forget this and are carried away with cool, predictable (excuse me for using this awful word) ‘touchpoints.’ So yes, I print my boarding pass at home before I leave for my flight, and yes, I subscribe to a customer-retention plan known as Rapid Rewards, but the thing that keeps me flying Southwest is how human and normal the brand is, free of hype, and overblown promises that most marketers adopt.

Imagine an alternative scenario. The flight steward makes an announcement that “It’s 8.30, and, as usual, Southwest is always on time! At Southwest Airlines, we are (extra chirpy voice here)dedicated to the highest quality of customer service and have been consistently known for on-time departures and arrivals. Please sit back, and relax and enjoy the flight…” That, by the way, is a part of the airline’s mission statement, but it rings so hollow, when compared to the real brand voice –those unscripted moments, from the mouth of its employees. Often this is the best PR of all –reaching 200 (captive) customers at a time.

See a similar example of ‘customer loyalty software’ here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 8, 2004 in Media