Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Goodwill Does Good

If you live or work in or around Philadelphia (or Texas, California, Michigan or North Carolina), you now have a wonderful option for recycling those old computers, monitors, and other electronics sitting in your closet (or, in our case, basement). Dell and Goodwill have teamed-up to recycle used electronics instead of sending them to a landfill. You just need to drop it off at your local participating facility. And you may even qualify for a tax deduction.

Everybody wins!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Most Fun $1 You'll Ever Save

California Tortilla, a chain of Mexican food restaurants, is featuring an amazingly simple, yet engaging discount offer one can imagine: save a buck if you beat the cashier at Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Genius, genuine, and generally great marketing tactic.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Outdoor Advertising: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Two articles caught my eye this morning:

The first, from BusinessWeek, describes how the government of Sao Paolo, Brazil has decided to eliminate any and all outdoor ads, such as billboards, bus wraps, or the like within its city limits.

The second, from the Wall Street Journal, discusses the government of China removing billboards in its previously highest-profile area for advertising.

On a global scale, these two ad bans are just small drops in the ocean that is advertising. But they bring up an interesting point-- do people want, or at the very least, mind, advertising out in public? And subsequently, do these two occurrences indicate a gradual elimination of public advertising or are they just extreme examples of places where advertising is unloved?

My personal hunch is that if outdoor ads really bothered people all that much, there would be more uproars about them than we currently see. Occasionally we'll hear about a rural township banning billboards because they mar the landscape, but on the whole, people seem pretty used to it all.

But that's just me. What do you think, dear advertising pundits?

(Note: Image from mulfordgallery.com... nice stuff!)

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's Easy Being Green

Though a famous puppet frog laments in a tune that "It's Not Easy Being Green," many companies are now finding that to be no longer the case. Commercials and testimonials abound about how environmentally friendly (aka "green") they have become. Green is the new black, as fashionistas might say.

For example, a recent commentary in a New Jersey business magazine called COMMERCE (their caps lock must have been stuck) featured an article by Silverjet CEO Lawrence Hunt discussing the incredible amount of carbon his company's jets pump into the atmosphere every year, and how he's trying to do something about it rather than putting his company's proverbial head in the sand. For each plane ticket sold, according to the article, Silverjet includes a "mandatory, nominal offset fee" which is then directed to "The CarbonNeutral Company, an independent eco-portfolio company, who applies the money to various green projects across the world to accurately offset the total travel emissions." Interesting concept.

While Silverjet is not the only company doing something like this, they certainly are on the forefront of environmentally-mindful initiatives in the airline industry. Meanwhile other companies in other industries are trying to stake their claims as environmental leaders. See: Toyota, BP, Whole Foods, et al. Commercials about going green abound.

So what should we make of this new marketing trend of "going green"? Is this a result of companies waking up and wanting to change the world? Or is it just a "feel-good" ploy that companies use to try and attract new customers? And lastly, has it become "too easy" to be green?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Post on Post Cards

Are post cards the dinosaurs of the communications world? Or are they actually one of the most effective forms of reaching someone?

With the advent of the telephone, then faxes, then e-mail, and now social networking sites, text messaging, and more, it would be fair to surmise that the post card is a form of communications past. But perhaps that's not so.

An article in the Chicago Tribune discusses the status of the humble post card in the midst of lightning fast and efficient communication tools that we have gotten used to over the years. While we could zap an instant message to a friend across country and get a response as quick as he or she can type and send back, there's a missing tangibility and ghostlike quality to that message. But a post card has a creative, contextually-meaningful, and friendly quality to it that keeps it relevant and widely used in today's tech-savvy society. Indeed, I'm not the only one to think this as there were over 2.3 billion post cards sent from U.S. households last year, and another 4 billion sent from U.S. businesses as part of direct mail advertising campaigns.

So despite the added cost and time involved to send a post card, people still relish the ability to communicate with a person in this decidedly "old school" way.

Maybe these "dinosaurs" truly do continue to roam the Earth after all...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cut to Black: Will New Jersey Need a New Brand?


So The Sopranos is finally over, and for some the series went into the night rather quietly. For me, the sudden ending felt like I'd been shot. Life doesn't always supply a "neat finish", especially for a wiseguy. I never saw it coming, and I can't say I wasn't warned. All in all, after a few hours, the chill of being so unceremoniously dispatched convinced me that creator and episode writer David Chase had done an effective job of closing the coffin on the series. All that's left is me accepting it's really gone, and doing my best to move on.

But with Frank Sinatra gone, Springsteen well under the radar, and Don Imus sullying the Rutgers sporting reputation with his comments about the women's basketball team, The Sopranos was still something New Jersey could be proud of. They put The Garden State on the world map, even if a few people got upset with the way the series supposedly insulted the Italian-American community. Personally, I like the tough-guy rep the mob family gave us, and even though I hail from the far more bucolic southern region, I'd perfected a mean Tony impression that tickled friends around the world.

So, now what? I know On Location Tours are wondering the same thing. They conduct four-hour tours for between 400 - 500 people a month at $40 a pop, stopping at many of the locations that were made famous by the show: Satin Dolls, New Skyway Diner, and Satriale's to name a few. Apparently they expect the tours to become even more popular, and I hope that's the case. But will New Jersey begin to lose its blush as fast as my impression? How long before it's just another state with high insurance rates and ever rising taxes and my Tony advertises me as just a half-Italian guy who can do another full-blooded Italian guy with an attitude?

We need a new symbol to help keep New Jersey in the hearts, minds and wallets of the interested public, and we need one fast before the pasta gets cold and our hallowed hot spots become as lonely and unvisited as Bobby Bacala's head stone.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Does Your Company Have a Backup Plan?

The AP is reporting that a deal has been made for New York City's vital financial institutions to set up a backup data center in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The plan is for trading and financial operations to continue in the event of a wide-scale terrorist attack (or weather disaster, I suppose), because a backup system will be in operation to handle trades, etc.

This had me thinking that sometimes small or even large businesses don't think about backing up their important data ahead of time, before disaster strikes. This leaves them vulnerable to significant losses should something go awry.

Perhaps now is a good time to take a look at your backup plans and see if they need retooling. And then get back to marketing. :-)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Speaking of Longevity, This 'Bark' Is Time-Tested

So we've talked this week about the new Olympic logo's supposed "longevitity" and how great it will be for the London Games. And it's funny because, the logo really only needs to "last" a few months or so during the actual Games, but apparently a few months has now extended into a few years. But that's neither here nor there.

I'd rather focus on some genuine longevity. I am absolutely amazed by the longevity of everybody's favorite game show host, Mr. Bob Barker of the Price is Right. In fact, when you think of the Price is Right, your brain is immediately hard-wired to think about Bob Barker-- the two are forever intertwined after 35 years of game show fun. Now that's effective branding right there folks. Imagine choosing the exact right spokesperson-- or logo or slogan or other brand trait-- that lasts three-and-a-half decades! Other than the few elite companies who have maintained a strong, consistent, memorable brand, such as Coca-Cola or Wrigley, this is indeed a rarity.

But now the Price is Right will have to re-brand themselves with a new host. Yes, as you undoubtedly have heard, Bob Barker is retiring, after giving away an estimated $200 million in prizes, having won 17 Emmy Awards, and developing a cult of fans that traveled thousands of miles every year just to see him run a simple little show. Truly a marketer's dream.

After June 15th, Bob's last broadcast, the new game begins... that of replacing a long-lasting "brand" with a new one. Let's just hope that the powers that be at the Price is Right don't pick somebody who horrifies the show's fans and gives people epileptic seizures during a broadcast. That would just be plain bad.
P.S.-- Thanks Bob for all the memories... congrats on your retirement, but we'll miss you!

The Olympic Logo Saga Continues

Okay, so controversy continues to build around the Olympic logo and this time its' supporters have delivered their case to the media. Doesn't anyone realize that Paris Hilton is still in jail?

First, sources say that the design firm behind the logo, Wolff-Olin, are pleased with the response the logo has received and that everything is going to plan. Uh-huh. Apparently they feel this nuclear burst of negative publicity was expected all along, and that the logo will "evolve" over the next five years to something everyone will want tattooed on their chest next to their tribal Clara Peller likenesses. Not sure I'm buying that, but I can't find a quote so maybe it's bunk anyway.

Next up refers to the pictures you see above you. On the left is what's called a "tanagram set". Chinese in origin, they're used to create indentifiable shapes like the pic on the right. A design studio in Chicago by the name of Coudal Partners suggests, among other things (ten in all, to be exact) that the logo's similarity to such an ancient puzzle game makes it "timeless". Other examples refer to mostly design elements of the 1980's, and may I say that even in the 1980's, the Olympics didn't care to use anything neon and, well, new wave of sorts. How did that competition fare? Did they sell a lot of t-shirts? Because I don't recall needing a lot of reminding that the Olympic Games were on their way, but I do remember a beach towel that I quite liked that had the '84 Olympics logo.

My personal view, after reading Coudal's views, is that it's still a huge miscalculation by a company who was paid well for their mistakes. It happens. I know they meant well, but all this analyzing is kind of missing the point for me. We don't need timeless for something that happens every four years. In fact, I'm not sure we need anything more than the traditional Olympic rings. A logo, in the end, catches on or it doesn't. Hardly anyone I know outside of the design and advertising business deconstructs the artists' vision when taking the half second to decide whether they like a logo or not. And let's face the heart of the matter, it's about what it will be on: t-shirts, mugs, hats...beach towels. Unless someone is dying to bring back the 1980's yet again, who's going to care how many different shades of day-glo it can service?

Apparently it works better in motion, which is saying something, I suppose. But it's when it's still that most of us will be delivering our consumer opinion.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The logo that keeps on giving...

First of all, I have to thank the Olympic Logo Committee for releasing their prized effort at the same time Bizpizzazz went live. Could you ask for better fodder? No, no you couldn't.

It now appears to be the case that the animated footage of the logo, featured on the official website, has caused epileptic fits in eight people, forcing its removal. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The 2012 Olympics Logo

So design firm Wolff-Olins collected £400k (nearly $800k) for something that looks like it was crapped out of a neon elephant. Unreal.

The international response has been huge, and mostly homogenous; it's depressingly, blindingly awful. How could something like this happen? Surely meetings were taken, experts consulted, and dozens if not hundreds of other designs considered. When teams of marketing professionals and creative individuals deposit this upon our collective retinas, is there anything at all for us to learn?



Bizpizzazz is a community for small business owners and employees to discuss anything and everything involving moving towards business success. We're hoping to generate plenty of interesting articles about all things marketing that will invite feedback from which we can all learn and grow. And if we just end up having fun most of the time, well...that's what its about, too.

For those Newbizbuilders clients that are joining us, take notice of the special link on the right where you can log in to ask our experienced Newbiz professionals any questions regarding using your new materials. In fact, any business related questions you may have are also welcome. We draw from a wide range of market experience, and chances are we can help or point you to someone who can.

So welcome again, and if you have any suggestions about a discussion, don't hesitate to contact us. We'd love to hear from you.

Scott Norton
Bizpizzazz Moderator