Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nokia got it right

This commercial for the Nokia 6110 Navigator is simply brilliant!

I don't want to start a rant about the stereotypical cell phone commercial and its lack of inspiration, but this ad positively surprised me, partly because I did not expect it from Nokia. What impressed me the most was that it managed to be funny, while still staying on track with its message about the product feature.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Commenting Google News

The blogosphere has been buzzing with the message that Google News is allowing comments for a selected number of people, involved in specific stories. To be honest, I don’t see the big deal. Most German magazines have allowed readers to comment on their online stories for a while and I know that BusinessWeek does this, too. Of course I realize that Google News is different in scale and concept, but I still don’t understand what is so groundbreaking about it, to warrant all this attention.

If I am completely missing the point, please, someone enlighten me!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Your Prayers Have Been Answered

Tonight the German football (soccer) league (Bundesliga) finally rings in the new season 07/08. To celebrate this, I decided to do a post about a commercial that has been airing on German TV and has sparked a bit of controversy. The pay-TV channel Premiere is allowed to broadcast all games live again (last year this privilege was reserved for competitor “arena”). The voice-over of the ad announces “your prayers have been answered” and goes on to inform the viewer that Premiere will be showing all the games and all the goals.

Now, some people have proclaimed this ad blasphemous and in poor taste. I think it is simply brilliant. First of all, it communicates the incredible wealth of emotions that people hold for the sport. Also, since it was aired during the summer break, people were craving this feeling and couldn't wait for the return of the Bundesliga.

Of course the obligatory, blatant spokesperson scene at the end just ruins the whole thing for me...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Stanford Branding study

It’s probably safe to assume that by now most of you have read about the Stanford study, which proclaimed the apparent mind-control powers that fast food marketing supposedly holds over young children.
I have only read about the research on several news sites and most of the blogosphere seems to have the same sources as me. From the description of the research methods, a few things sounded a little fishy to me, so I would love to read the actual report.

Does anyone know if this is available anywhere?

Marketing Gobbledygook

With another batch of manifestos came this paper by David Meerman Scott. He investigates the overuse of industry jargon (or gobbledygook, as he calls it), especially in the b2b software industry. David reconstructs the thinking process that leads to such meaningless communication and offers some advice on how to avoid it.

A quick read and definitely worth your while, especially if you work for one of many market-leading, innovative companies, offering grounbreaking, next-generation product solutions ;-)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Brands Matter!

As a marketing major, I constantly have to take a lot of crap from self-righteous, over-zealous finance or accounting students. The problem is that a lot of times the marketing benefits are intangible (especially to accountants). So imagine how happy I was to stumble upon this study, providing me with some live ammo to fire back. Even though it was published in 2002 (and some of you probably already know it), it is still very much relevant.

By comparing the returns of a portfolio made up of companies with a strong emphasis on branding with the returns of a benchmark portfolio made up of the rest of the U.S. market, the researchers arrived at the conclusion that strong brands consistently outperformed the market. While this has been suspected for a long time, even before this study, the use of financial tools such as Present Value calculations makes it all the more valuable for my purposes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Chore Wars

I share an apartment with 5 other guys. We all have our rooms, but have to share kitchen and bathrooms. As you can imagine, the biggest problem here is to figure out a system of cleaning these commonly used spaces and getting people to stick with it. Well, now there is a solution. I just stumbled upon an online game that makes doing chores fun.

Chore Wars is basically a role playing game, with illustrations slightly reminiscent of World of Warcraft, except that instead of a gigantic war hammer, the dwarf carries around a mop. You create your own character and invite your roomies to join your community. But instead of doing mindless tasks to improve your character, experience points are earned by embarking on quests, such as bringing out the trash or vacuuming the stairs. Even though none of us are into fantasy or video games, coupled with some kind of reward system and the competitive drive to outdo each other, i see a sparkling future for my bath and kitchen.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I have been reading a lot lately, so here is another book review for you! “Blink – The Power of Thinking without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell focuses on the first 2 seconds of thinking about a topic. Using research studies and a wide variety of stories and examples, he explains why thinking long and hard about a problem isn’t always the right approach.

While the first half of the book is mainly dedicated to proving his thoughts on the topic, using examples from everyday life, he does address marketing applications of this phenomenon in later chapters. The New Coke debacle, why ice cream comes in round containers, and why customer surveys aren’t always a good indication of product success are just a few of the issues he suggests a solution to.

When I picked up the book for the first time, I didn’t expect it to be such an entertaining read. Gladwell manages to convey his ideas in such a diverse fashion that you can’t wait for the next example he conjures up.

Now go buy this book!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

MBA By Blog

Robert May at the Business Pundit just launched a very interesting project that I absolutely would love to see succeed. It is called MBA by Blog and its goal is to collect the best blogpost of all time, dealing with business related issues. Topics from Accounting to Economics or Marketing are being covered and visitors always have the option of suggesting another category if they feel their educational post doesn’t fit in any of the existing ones.

So far the site is still fairly empty, so if you have an educational, in-depth, business related post, head on over there and submit it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reviewing The Age of Conversation

I just finished reading the Age of Conversation, a collaborative work by 103 authors, dispersed around the globe. Each author was given one page to write about the very broad topic. As far as I know, it is the first of its kind. Anyways, the unusual and remarkable back story aside, here is my review of the book:

My first thought after finishing the text was that it seemed like all the blogs in my reader had conspired to all cover the same topic. The easiest way to grasp the book would be to think of a collection of the best blog post on the topic of conversation.

My favorite part about the whole concept was that the final product turned out so diverse. The spectrum ranged from specific guidelines on how to make your corporate video more engaging to more philosophical thoughts on the nature of conversation itself. It was quite an experience. Since each “chapter” is only one page, it was a very quick read. I actually plan on reading the book again, just to make sure I’m not missing out on anything.

As a last thought, the existence of the book itself proves in a way the validity of its content. In this Age of Conversation, it is possible for more than 100 authors to work on one project, without coming face to face.
I recommend this book to anyone, looking for some insightful thoughts on this very relevant topic.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mad Men: A review

I just finished watching the first episode of Mad Men, AMC's new series about the 1960s advertising industry. Since I live in Europe, I had to download it, which means I missed out and the factoids strewn into commercial breaks :-(

Overall I was fairly happy with the show. It was entertaining enough for me to look forward to the next episode. Of course I wasn't even born in the 1960s, much less working on Madison Avenue, so I can't form any judgment about the accuracy of the show.

I do however have a few things to criticize: Sometimes it felt like the creators were forcibly pushing stereotypical culture into the scenes. Especially the excessive, constant alcohol consumption did not seem natural at all. I felt the same way about the sexist attitudes the Mad Men foster. I am fully aware that this was part of the time's culture, but in the show it constantly seemed to be put on display, as if to remind the viewer every scene, what the times were like.

Since this was the pilot, it should be interesting to see, how the characters and plot lines develop over time. I for one, know that I'll be following the show closely.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Racing is a State of Mind

yet another Mercedes Commercial that I loved so much, I just had to share it! Those guys are on fire

Low Cost Airlines?

The EU is aiming at low-cost airlines, with its newest proposal, which would force carriers to disclose the full price of a ticket. Air travel providers, such as Ryan Air, traditionally left out airport or security taxes from its advertised prices.
This would be a marketing disaster for many cheap carriers. Their transport is usually considered to be a hassle, with low service. Often times they don’t operate from major commercial airports, resulting in additional transportation charges for consumers. Their main selling point being the low advertised prices, customers might turn to more mainstream airlines, now that the actual travel costs have to be made public. No doubt the prices will still be very competitive and much cheaper than say, Lufthansa, but some might not agree that the price difference is worth the large gap in value.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Age of Conversation

If you follow any marketing blog on a regular basis, you have undoubtedly heard/read about the Age of Conversation. It’s a collective effort by 103 authors, most of which never met face to face. I just downloaded my ebook version of it and can’t wait to start reading. You can look forward to (or dread) a review as soon as I am done with it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Memory-Effects of Eye Movement.

The folks at Neuromarketing brought to my attention a fascinating study about the effects of horizontal eye-movement on memory. The study found that students, who had been stimulated to move their eyes horizontally for 30 seconds, on average remember 10% more words from a list than people that had been treated to vertical eye movements.
Even though the study on tested short-term data recall, it made me think a lot about the potential implications of this. Roger Dooley pointed out possible web banners or TV commercials. My first thoughts involved billboards, where the main figure of attention moves horizontally in a certain context, but i suppose that can just be seen as a low-tech version of his web-banner idea. An alternative would be to have the whole medium move back and forth, instead of just one component of the advertisement. However, I can see how that would be annoying for people to watch. Even so, the challenge remains, how to keep the consumer focused enough to make sure the mechanism takes effect in the first place.
If anyone reading this has any other practical implications that come to mind, I would love to heard about it.

The Lessons of a Newbie Blogger

After considering starting a blog for weeks, I finally managed to sign up at Blogger last Tuesday. To be honest, it is exactly the way I thought it would be and at the same time completely different. I thought I should take my “1 week anniversary” as a opportunity to reflect on the things that blogging hast taught me.

I am not nearly as clever or eloquent as I had hoped.
Before I started blogging I also thought of myself as a pretty good writer. Now that I actually read the things I post, my writing just seems a little ordinary, simple… and boring. All the more reason for me to continue blogging, though!

Blogging is hard work.
“Just drop a couple of lines about some random thing you read on the news in the morning”. Turns out, there is a lot more to it than just that. I find myself actually researching things I would like to write about, collecting thoughts throughout the day (I really need to buy a little notebook to write them down) and then spending some time writing the posts.

Blogging etiquette is elaborate.
To avoid any major faux pas, I decided to read up on proper etiquette in the blogosphere. 2 hours and 30 blogs later, I finally felt I had read it all….

The blogosphere is HUGE
I was never really too much into reading blogs, before I started my own. Now I am addicted… I keep adding RSS feeds to my reader and just hate that I have to decide which ones I can read every day and which ones have to be saved for when I have more time.

I could probably think of a bunch of more things I picked up on, but the most important thing I learned is to keep posts reasonably short…

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Lesson Learned (hopefully)

I have been researching guidelines for corporate activities in social media for the better part of a week now and noticed that the number one rule on all of them seems to be “be honest with your audience” or “promote transparency”. That’s why reading the story about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s anonymous online thrashing of competitor Wild Oats hit me like a brick. I guess there is not much to add to this story, except the distinct hope that other companies learn from cases like this one.

Taking Costumer Service to a New Level

This is a Mercedes commercial, promoting their new commitment to global service. I just loved it!

The text at the end says: "This Passion. Difficult to replace"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Random Rant on Second Life

Now that the corporate euphoria about Second Life is on the decline, I see my chance to jump on the bandwagon and throw in my two cents worth. Firms are starting to abandon their virtual corporate islands and business suites they had hailed as the future of marketing just months before.

In my opinion, the hype about the new platform came at an incredibly inopportune time (i.e. too early) for Linden Lab. Companies, intrigued by the media storm and the prospect of some free press attention, are making their decisions about setting up shop in Second Life now, while there are still lots of kinks to be worked out and acceptance is far from widespread. I have to admit that I am a big proponent of virtual environments and I see incredible potential for such platforms in the future (especially in a business context), but I also advised the company I work for, not to enter the metaverse just yet.

But it would be ignorant to blame the glitches and high learning curve of the platform for the poor performance most company projects display. A lot of companies simply refuse to see SL for what it really is. It makes little sense to conduct job interviews or sales meetings over a medium, which relies on text based communication (unless you use a third-party provider) and doesn’t allow you to see the body language of your opposite. Building enormous shrines of worship for your brand will not get consumers engaged. It is time to end the virtual corporate pissing contest and face some realities:

Second Life is not a search engine! This means, if people look for information about your company, they visit your website or read your blog. People want to be entertained in SL, so unless you have interesting, engaging content to offer (not to say that that can’t be informative at the same time), there is no point in joining second life. It might be fun to test drive a Mercedes, but what drives your potential costumers to come back a second or third time?

One company I would like to mention for doing a great job at creating a space, appropriate for the Second Life platform is GM. No matter what you read or hear about Second Life, one keyword keeps coming back: User-Created Content! On Motorati Island, GM has given users an opportunity to realize their car related projects for free. If this strategy will pay off for GM remains to be seen, but you have to commend them for knowing what they are getting into.

Of course I realize that there are many, many more pros and cons to Second Life, but they have been discussed ad nauseam in other blogs and articles. These are just some points that have been bugging me for a while.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Live Earth and eco-marketing

After millions of people from New Jersey to Antarctica witnessed live earth concerts last saturday, the debate about the sucess and influence of the project is upon us. The aim of the concert series (besides rasing funds) was to create awareness about the climate-change. But here is where things go wrong in my opinion:

The awareness already exists and in no way changes the behavior of the people. It can be safely assumed (especially after the recent media frenzy) that almost everyone knows about global warming and the dangers associated with it. Buzzwords such as “sustainability” and “energy saving” are flying around everybody’s head, but the concepts are too abstract, too distant to be really absorbed by most individuals.

Earlier, as I walked out of the company bathroom, I left the light on (just like everyone else does) and continued back to my office. About two steps into the hallway, I turned around on an impulse, opened the bathroom door, hit the light switch and started my way back to work again. Now, sitting in front of my computer, I realize that this simple act gave me a complacent, maybe undeserved sense of self-satisfaction. The feeling that I did my part in some way. I wasn’t wasting a single thought about penguins dying of heat, desertification or climate change. In my opinion this is exactly what should be advertised. Instead of calling for people to save the world, we should start a campaign to sell people “peace of mind”. The price? Just do a little bit to conserve energy or resources.

Just imagine a TV commercial told you that you had every right to feel like a hero, just because you walked to the store today, instead of taking your car… I know I would be walking a lot more

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Blog

In the unlikely event that someone stumbled upon this blog, i thought i should say a few words about myself and the purpose of this blog:

I'm a 20-year old German, studying International Business at the University of Maastricht, in the Netherlands. I am currently doing an internship at a mixed chemicals company, where i am researching social media as marketing channels for the firm. The main goal of this blog is to gain experience with the medium.

I will be writing about marketing developments and general thoughts that pop into my head. This blog is mainly for my own benefit, but if somebody gets a kick out of reading it, i would love to hear it.