Previous month:
May 2008
Next month:
July 2008

June 2008

Walmart and Getty still don't get it

Toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

This weekend my wife planned a trip to her family's vacation home in upstate NY.  Living in NYC, this promised to be an fun filled two hour drive.

It was quite a trip.  Our car skitzed out on the way out of town (3 hour delay), our local dry cleaner's work space and storage areas behind neighboring storefronts were closed off by the government for reasons unknown (so we didn't have all of our clothes), and a 2 hour trip took nearly 8 hours in total (thanks to some traffic thrown in for good measure).

But we made it and the weekend was pretty nice.

Saturday night, my wife and I went on a date to Walmart.  As NYC natives, Walmart MegaStores are stock full of fun and great deals, and a great time was had by all... for about 20 minutes.  Then we ran into a sales person harassing/poking fun at an 8 year old girl because she had a speech impediment.  One associate was leading the "fun", with another playing backup, making this little girl repeat her request over and over again while they stood by and laughed at her.  It was just pathetic.

We left with our items in hand (we needed the clothes), but with a different view of what was once a favorite destination.

On the way home, we stopped a Getty station in New Jersey.  Traveling with an 11 month old is always fun, but also often requires making additional pit stops along the way.  While I was gassing up and our son was asleep, my wife utilized the opportunity to use the restrooms.  They were filthy, lacked any toilet paper, and has no soap or other cleaning supplies.  When we asked the station attendant for soap and other basic necessities, he told us to purchase it at the station store.  We were told that this was "station policy" as it promoted the sales of toiletries.

And here's the kicker - at the restroom exit was a clearly printed and displayed plaque reading as follows, "All station employees must wash hand thoroughly with soap."

It's a shame that some companies don't care as much for their customers as they do for themselves.

Zemanta Pixie

McCain's Video Game - Smart or Sad?

I try to comment on politics on this blog.  Personally, (odd as this may sound) I believe that both of our candidates are viable and acceptable leaders.

While both candidates have activated their social network advocates, and Obama has proven the success of the microtranscation at scale, McCain has brought a new layer of interactivity into the equation... a video game.

There is no way to say "I am not all that old" like bringing back a popular 25 year old video game - space invaders - and inserting brand messages after each level is completed.  And it's on Facebook!  That's got to make it hip, cool and oh so two point oh.

Check out the game below/after the jump.

Is this wise?  Will this net him meaningful interactivity?  Is this integration serious and meaningful to the channel?  Is it novel enough to the audience to net him success?

Will political messaging in gaming be a trend we see grow over the coming years?  Will the next presidential election see dynamic, or even static advertising or marketing in video games? 

defining "fair restitution"

Justice Company A messes up.  Consumer B complains. 
Company A offers Y restitutionConsumer B demands Z restitution.

What happens next?

Should Company A give into Consumer B's demands?  Who is the arbiter of fair?  

Where do we draw the line between fair and satisfactory?

In today's relationship oriented market, where consumer loyalty is increasingly more important, how far should Company A go? 

Pandering to the demands of every consumer is not a sound business strategy.  Customer satisfaction and retention are key to doing business in today's marketplace, but where do we draw the line?

How far can/should a major corporate entity go, to issue not only fair but satisfactory restitution to loyal customers?

Disclaimer: the views represented in this post are entirely my own and do reflect those of my employer.  Photo credit.

our connected lives - 10 Signs of Connectivity Addiction

Cat 5 Hello, my name is Jon and I am a connectivity addict.

Connectivity can be a healthy conduit to personal, social and professional growth, but it can also (at times dangerously) redefine our lives.  Just as with any addiction, connectivity addiction starts out slowly, but ultimatelybecomes a deep rooted dependence.  Before we begin to discuss how to cope with or "cure" this addiction, it is imperative that we properly diagnose this condition.

10 Signs of Connectivity Addiction

  1. You are on Twitter/Plurk/Facebook while your family/personal life goes on around you.
  2. When your cellphone or blackberry vibrates, your first instinct is to check it.
  3. You feel disoriented when your cellphone or blackberry kicks the bucket.
  4. You think the new Dash GPS product with Twitter is brilliant.
  5. You find yourself Twittering about having lunch meeting with someone while you are in the lunch meeting. The same can be said for major sporting events, concerts, conferences and meet-ups.
  6. When that new app comes out (Plurk, FriendFeed, Britekite) that everyone is talking about, you find yourself with a need to be there.
  7. Having an out of control feed reader is more daunting than that pile of unopened snail-mail.
  8. You refer to your coffee, family and/or sports teams in 2.0 jargon.
  9. You do not draw the line between Social Media and Digital Social Media.
  10. You find yourself writing this post at 5 in the morning "because you are up"

But these are just my thoughts. 

What about you?  What are your signs of Connectivity Addiction?

Up Next: 10 Steps to Connectivity Addiction Recovery

photo credit: Darren Hester

Hulu is getting bigger and better

We scorned it.  We teased it.  We gave it funny names, like Clown Co.  But Hulu is here.  And it's doing damn well.

Sure, Hulu is still a work in progress. 

  • Occasional adjacency issues still appear (with family brands displaying in non-family friendly content),
  • Their "pop-out"player is noticeably missing an "always on top" functionality that multitasking often demands, and
  • Commercials may still suddenly interrupt content without the customary split second of black screen that generally prepares viewers for a commercial break...
    • but these issues will be resolved over time.

But to my mind, the most interesting trend for Hulu is not where they are, but where they are heading and most importantly, how they may be changing the market.

Summer was once a dead season for television.  Sure, in recent years networks started "testing" reality tv and even threw in a bit of fresh professionally written programming.  But summer TV is summer TV.

And so, Hulu has rolled out their Days Of Summer offering.  Every weekday, for the entire summer, Hulu will be rolling out fresh content.  From the looks of it, much of this content will be a mix of classic and contemporary popular movies.  Hulu is essentially taking the appeal of syndicated television (well established familiarity, pre-existing appeal, and first rate emotional connectivity) to online film viewing audience... in high definition.  For the first time in the past decade, mainstream media is leading the charge into next gen programming.  Sure people are already watching movies online via any of the many sites (warning: many are legally dubious) listed on OV Guide , but few of those sites are streaming in high-def.

Hulu is tapping into four ready and available audiences -

  1. the web ready home viewer who is bored with third rate off-season content on network television,
  2. the streaming video "pirate viewers" who frequent streaming media sites,
  3. the web connected worker doing some summertime slacking, and
  4. the college student who is home from school and doesn't have access to the massive amount of illegal content regularly shared on college networks.

The summer is the equivalent of a 2-4 month-long writers strike.  There is little worth watching.  If Hulu can capitalize on this opportunity, teaching Americans to watch long form professional content in a streaming environment, it could change an entire market dynamic. 

  • 8 years ago, American Idol taught America to SMS. 
  • This summer, Hulu may well introduce us to a whole new world of web video.

Check out the Hulu "Days of Summer" Widget below:

when engineers try to market to advertisers

Ws Let's face it: much of the sizzle known as web 2.0 does not have a sustainable business model.

Advertisers are not equipped for ultra-niche marketing, and most web 2.0 ajax/flash heavy experiences are not well suited to traditional banner buys.

And so, we end up with engineers building blindly for uninterested advertisers.

The engineers and technologists creating these platforms often seek to embed advertising or marketing opportunities into their products, with little understanding for either:
    (a) the advertising/brand marketing construct and the resulting needs and opportunities, or
    (b) the need for a strong dual core value proposition - uniquely and suitably addressing both the needs of the users and the needs of the brands and the broader branding community.

Smart startups consult with people who get it.  Smart companies are constantly in touch with their strongest customers/target customers and users, optimizing their offering for their core constituency.  Few companies can pull an Apple out of their hats, generating products that are insanely popular on instinct and insight alone.

If you are a web 2.0 company, if you are looking to succeed in the age of accelerated socialization, it is time that you started socializing.  There are people who get it.  Just because you think you know your business, doesn't mean that you understand the intricacies and eccentricities of your target audiences and clients. 

My Advice: Never stop consulting with visionaries.  Never stop creating meaningful relationships with the "people who get it" at their respective agencies/unagencies.  Just because someone has a senior title doesn't mean that they understand the new digital dynamic, and just because you may have a large user base or a flashy tool, doesn't mean that you're going to have a successful or compelling business.

If you aren't learning, you are growing.  If you aren't using GPS or a map, you're going to make a wrong turn, because trust me, these roads are unlike any we have seen before.