Yearly Archives: 2009

With Original Content Yahoo Can Win


What’s the idea with Yahoo?

Many of us have been waiting for Yahoo to make a move. The appointment of Carol Bartz as CEO is part of that move, but now the strategy must change.  Were I Ms. Bartz, I’d block all calls to Redmond on the corporate PBX and announce that search will never be sold. Never! My goal would be to become the #1 content site on the web. Like the New York Yankees, I’d create a hit-list of the world’s best writers, bloggers and social media experts (e.g., Perez Hitlon, Robert Scoble, Seth Godin, David Carr, Thomas Friedman, Beppe Grillo, etc.) and pay them big bucks to sign on.

Advertising is not a strategy, it’s the price of doing business, it’s infrastructure.  Content is a strategy. Yahoo needs to be the world’s most sought after content site. It once was and can be again. I would put the money into content and the search and ads will follow. Peace!

Running barefoot.


The next big thing in running shoes will be bare feet. You heard it here first. Going commando below the ankles.  It’s so Amerind, so American (with a little Kenyan mixed in). When Under Armour decided the footwear and sneaker category is “dormant” and in need of another marketer, I knew I was right. 

I’m no physician, but you’ve got to know that running barefoot (gum, nails and glass aside) is better for your feet than running in some cheesy Chinese rubber and lace concoction. Runners who toughen their feet over time and go shoeless will enjoy better foot health, look way cooler and save money. It will happen. It’s just a matter of time. Don’t tell Nike. Peace!

The New York Times Buys (into) USA Today.


What’s the idea with The New York Times?

I posted yesterday about our culture being so ADD. Americans, especially kids, multitask their media and therefore have a hard time concentrating.  Tweet tweet. You’ve got mail. Beep beep beep. Ring ring. Long form, analytical media is hurting (read magazines) so we are shorten it. DVRs allow us to put our TV on hold. We buy single songs. The world is not only flat, it’s freakin’ frenetic.

I can live with most of it — it’s just culture — but there’s one example that really bothers me. It’s pages 2 and 3 of the New York Times newspaper. Sacred pages once, they are today filled with 50-word digests of the paper’s stories. Designed to take best advantage of the reduced amount of time readers are willing to spend with the paper, these pages are nothing more than a geezer search engine. The founders are flipping in their terra.

For me these two pages demonstrate a defeatist mentality on the part of The Times. Where’s the serendipity in the exploration of the paper? The voyage? It is not that I’m a traditionalist, but seriously, when did the NY Times turn into a better-written USA Today


Digest This.


Steve Rubel writes in his Micropersuasion post today that on the Web "text is king." It’s searchable, scannable (quickly perused), easy to forward, and works well on mobile platforms. This fits perfectly with my thesis that today’s media habits are ADD-driven. For instance, this weekend I was reading an article in the newspaper about school budgets and realized my high school basketball team had a game the night before. I stopped reading and picked up the laptop to search out the score.  How many times have you been reading something interesting and wiki’ed it online?  How many meeting are you in that are stopped by people answering phones or texts, or Blackberry emails or IMs? James Patterson, the leading fiction writer in America, writes 2 page chapters. Wall Street Journal articles are shorter by 20%. Technology puts media in all its forms at hands reach putting our head are on swivels.

That’s why text is king. It is easily digestible, searchable and burstable. It also feeds our ADD behavior.     

Subscription is the Business Model.


My head is spinning this morning having just read David Carr’s smart column in the New York Times which lead me to ponder the future of online content. He so right when he implies we will all be paying subscription fees for our online content soon. Good newspapers are paid for — compared to bad newspapers, which are free – because advertising alone can’t keep them afloat. And it’s not just the paper that adds to cost though that is a factor. It is the news gathering and editorial infrastructure. The science and the art requires a premium.  

And then I read about AOL and started to realize what is killing them is not only their lack of focus and “master of none” strategy but horrid usability. Usability is the driver of online business. (I worked for company that didn’t no shizz about usability and we failed quickly.) AOL’s email, browser, and portal business had to be free –it was so poorly designed no one would pay for it. Rather than fix what was broken, AOL decided to go commando. Free.

Venture money often screws up internet businesses by keeping them afloat while management tries to figure out “the model.” Are you listening Mr. Zuckerberg?

Carr’s right, the model is subscription. Make something people are willing to pay for and you have a business. There. My head stopped spinning. Peace!

Kaplan University’s Revolt


I watched a good ad on TV the other night that really caught my attention. About Kaplan University, this :30 was extremely well-written and nicely produced. See the spot here. It was powerful, gripping and true…a trifecta. At the end though, past the promise of "a different kind of university,” I felt a little cheated to find out it was an online university. Cheese factor.

Today, I read a bold print ad by Kaplan on the same idea, but it is a little more focused. It discussed the notion that traditional graduate education is not available to everyone and how it is sucking talent out of our economy. The headline reads “Every year in the United States billions of dollars’ worth of talent goes to waste. What does that mean for you?”

I love revolutions and that’s what this branding idea and this advertising is all about. The product, price and educational experience had better deliver, though.  Revolutions can go both ways. 

The agency is  Ogilvy, so says the blog Make the Logo Bigger.  Great work! David would be proud.

Tropicana and the B Team.


What’s the idea with Tropicana Premium Orange Juice?

I’m okay with updating the Tropicana Orange Juice carton, which Omnicom’s Arnell Group just did, but not to the point where it looks like a milk carton, which they also just did. Losing the trademarked orange with protruding straw was a mistake.  That icon was the fastest, easiest way to convey positive feelings and associations about the product. And it helped differentiate Tropicana from all the water and flavor-added orange drinks. A glass of juice does not bring forth great images from the recesses of the mind the way an orange does. Ahhh orange blossoms.

The new idea using the word “squeeze” as its center point is a dual strategy. It is meant to make up for the loss of the orange and at the same time drive consumers to thoughts of wonderful human images. Nyet! I do love the new cap on the carton though, shaped as half an orange. It would have been a great accent on the old carton.

Seems like Tropicana may have gotten the “B” Team while Mr. Arnell and his people were off logging hours on the Pepsi redesign.


DRM and Variable Pricing of Songs.


Apple announced yesterday that Sony, Universal and Warner have finally joined EMI and will do away with DRM (digital rights management) allowing digital songs, once purchased, to be copied to other devices.  In addition, variable pricing was announced that will allow some songs to be sold for $.69, more popular songs to be sold at $.99, while the most popular, most desirable will retail for $1.29. Smart pricing idea, but I suspect it will only chip away at revenue erosion. The new pricing logic suggests people are more apt to buy a marginally interesting song at $.66 than at $.99. Can’t disagree.

My problem with all this – and Kid Rock agrees – is that if consumers are allowed to buy only one or two songs from an album then they are not getting the artist’s full intended experience. And if that becomes the case, listeners are less likely to become rabid, loyal fans.  And with ringtones allowing the purchase of 30 seconds of a song, we are deconstructing the art even further.  This whole deconstruction thing and new variable pricing scheme is dinging the music business more than the doofy record executives. It’s a case where technology is hurting the art and the artist. Peace!


Little Love


What’s the idea with Big Love?

You gotta love BBDO’s David Lubars trying to reinvent his agency with idea knick knacks that say “we get new media.” His new promotional and advertising efforts for HBO’s show “Big Love,” about a polygamist family in Utah, includes people walking around town with big thought bubbles (cartoon copy) displayed above their heads (coming to NY, Chicago, LA and Phil, Jan 14th) conveying personal secrets. Small audio billboards and sidewalk displays play Big Love characters’ secrets when you plug in your iPod headphones to the provided jacks. 

The “secrets” campaign repurposes the idea of the online property post secret, which has been a brilliant internet property for years. “Everyone has something to hide,” the campaign theme, is a nice experiential truism and one people can agree is probably a core value of the show. That said, not that many people know the cast of Big Love and, therefore, will care about their secrets.  The thought bubbles are fun but goofy and the media becomes the message, not vice versa.

Big Love is a good show. Everyone has something to hide is a good idea. The new media spin is a little forced.







Things we carry.


If you are a guy, think about all the things (Did you see the Ting Tings on New Year’s Eve?) you carry around with you each day. Cell phone, house and car keys, wallet to hold a drivers license, credit cards, cash, wrist watch, business cards, checks, and maybe a pair of glasses, if you haven’t had lasik, a pen. 

Now let’s move to your backpack or messenger bag: sunglasses, laptop, jump drive, more business cards, pencil, iPod, chap stick, gum, iPod charger, cell phone charger, Bluetooth or hands free device. 

As for the stuff women carry, multiply by 2.

My prediction for the year 2009 goes to the stuff we carry. There will be less of it.  There will be a consolidation of stuff we carry. Already, my car keys are wireless and never leave my pocket. I only wear a watch because I’m a geeze. My phone can take 8 gigs of music, but I use my iPod because I’m lazy. The stuff in the wallet can all be digital and will be in a couple of years. The cell phone and laptop will collide. And let’s face it, someone is going to invent gum that freshens the breath and hydrates the lips. It’s inevitable. Peace!