Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A "how to twitter" for my friends

When I started using Twitter I was very confused. Honestly, I still am sometimes--it's a big place. But, with the help of some friends I was able to beat the learning curve, and continue to learn. Recently a few friends of mine decided to give Twitter a try and I wanted to help. Most of the Twitter how-tos I came across were not very good, so the the result was a very long e-mail I wrote with instructions on how to get started from the ground up. In the end I'm not sure if it's really any better than what is already out there, but I figured I'd post it here just in case it might help anyone else.

Please, suggest any clarifications, additions or improvements that come to mind. It would be nice to make this as user friendly and comprehensive for beginners as possible.

Instructions for Jump-Starting Your Twitter

Getting Started:

Upload a picture (because nobody likes friend-ing a question mark), but pick it carefully. with so many twitter users the images/symbols attached to our names become very important for remembering who people are at a glance. That is, as a general rule this is not something you’ll want to change very often, if at all.

Keep other users in mind when your write your profile, you don’t need to give away any information you don't want to (e.g. majors, internships, live in Boston...” But, do think about what you’d want to know if you were looking at your own profile as a stranger. On Twitter the name of the game is being open—so try to give people an idea of what you’re about.

Set up your e-mail and cell phone. Have try having only direct messages e-mailed to you (I have them texted to me as well)—Twitter is real time so I leave all other messages out of my in-box, if I miss it, I miss it. It’s important to set up your cell so that you can update twitter on the go, or direct message people from your phone, more on this below. You'll be able to do all of the above by poking around on after you have logged in, start by looking under "settings" located on the top right of the page.

The Basics:

Twitter has its own syntax for sending different types of messages. As you no doubt already know, regular messages can only be 140 characters long.

To send a public message directed to someone specific is called an “at” message/reply. E.g. “@JPotteiger Hey, so you had a bagel today. Awesome. Thanks for not cleaning it up!” Note: that there’s NO space between @ and the twitter handle.

To send a private message, called a “direct” message, type “d JPotteiger” followed by your message “I hate you, clean up your f#&king breakfast mess in the morning!!!” Note: you MUST put a space between the d and the twitter handle.

If you’ve set up your phone on, to tweet simply send a text message to 40404. Twitter will recognize who the message is from and posts it to your account. All the syntax for messaging above applies.

Topics often trend on Twitter and these appear on your home page on But, more often than not the conversations you'll care about will not. To follow these topics people organized themselves by adding a # sign, called a “hash tag,” to relevant tweets. Go to and search for “#pun” for an example. As you become more familiar with TweetDeck and/or HootSuite (more on these below) you’ll learn you can have separate columns for keeping track of different lists of people AND for hash tags.

Protip: is a great tool. It’s a real time search engine and your portal for finding things on twitter. Below I’ll give you a list of people to follow on twitter, put their twitter handles into the search (take a quick look at the conversation surrounding their name) and click on their handle itself to go to their profile, and then follow them. Or for each name just type in the url “”

Boston twitter: Bostontweet, happn_in_boston, bostontips, hiddenboston, ONEin3, bostonmagazine, theimproper, stuffmagazine


It’s tough to feel comfortable tweeting, knowing what's good and what's bad–separating the wheat from the chaff is tough at the beginning. Thus, I think that broadening your tweet horizons is important so that you'll have more options to consider when tweeting (posting a message to Twitter in case you haven't picked up on that yet).

Enter Turns out you can tweet small pictures too, and right from your phone. Go to and log in with your twitter account info. Under "upload photo" get the information you need to send picture updates from your phone and then enter that info as a contact in your phone book under TwitPic so you can easily update with pics from your phone.

As far as tweeting in general, try setting a goal of tweeting at least 3 times throughout the day. You'll need to force yourself to have a quota at first or you’ll just forget. Don't force the tweets themselves though; try to tweet interesting things, not just what you’re eating or doing. It can be a NYT article you read online, a good pun, frustration with the MBTA, something you see downtown (twitpic), a question about something you see downtown, a recommendation (e.g. Gulu Gulu and the Engine House in Salem, MA are Awesome!). AND, there might even be a #salemMA for you to tack on and/or follow for Twitter news about Salem. Or maybe you could start it... Many possibilities.

Advanced Beginners

Download TweetDeck OR sign up for a free online account with These are 3rd party programs for managing twitter. Once you start using these you’ll never bother using the website again; as these are specially designed programs for managing your twitter friends and followers and are far more useful. As you will find, much of what you’ll use that makes twitter great is 3rd party stuff. Yay capitalism!

Now tweet away you princes of Maine… you kings of New England.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Music (as we knew it) is Dead

John Mayer recently asked people who illegally downloaded his new album to “register” their copy if they liked it. This was a confusing idea for me at first, but I realized that the concept of registering (vs. buying) music is perhaps more accurate these days because music has changed.

Are we physically buying music anymore, or do we simply buy the rights to it? It no longer exists exclusively on a CD or a tape, and since those can be copied and put on all our different media (and because iTunes and Amazon recently got rid of anti sharing restrictions) music is an entirely new thing. It's not a physical commodity anymore, but data that we can copy and move and store wherever, without racks or milk cartons. And with services like Rhapsody, Pandora,, (my favorite) and many more, we're being loaned the rights to hear it via these channels. As a result, the way we think about, talk about and interact with (and sell) music needs to change too.

It’s nothing mind blowing, but I think it’s an important idea and just one of many such shifts in the way we see the world that’s happening today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hulu: No We're (Probably) Not Gonna Buy It

I've been lucky enough to have a second article of mine published on The Next Great Generation. In it I discuss the things that we, Gen Y, love and what we probably won't pay for when it comes to Hulu adopting a pay-for-content scheme. In the piece, Hulu: No We're (Probably) Not Gonna Buy It, I take a look at the reasons we like it: We love Hulu because it’s simple... because it gets us... [and] because it makes TV portable. And, why we're unlikely to follow it to a pay for content scheme: We probably won’t pay for commercials... We probably won’t change our habits... [and] We probably won’t pay for what we’re getting right now.

Young people have
adopted Hulu as a place to catch up on TV. It's a way to keep their favorite programs in their lives when the network's Monday night time slot just wont do. This in conjunction with the increasingly flexible definition of ownership among brands, the consumer vs the corporation, causes us to feel we deserve to watch our shows online for free. Sometimes the world demands we work late or maybe we work nights consistantly, and since we're paying for internet and cable already the idea of more charges on our credit card bill to see it on Hulu just isn't that appealing. I'll learn to torrent instead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm Published!

Here it is! "15 Ways Millennials Think About Brands"

I recently jumped on a crowdsourcing project started by Edward Boches at Mullen and driven by young writers. The purpose of the site, dubbed The Next Great Generation (TNGG), is to explore what it's like to be a member of Gen Y/ or a "Millennial." It's a place to give members of our generation a voice to discuss everything from the brands that speak to us (and those that miss the mark) to the values we hold most dear--with an eye towards educating older generations.

Perhaps our 'about us' says it best: "If we pull it off, The Next Great Generation will be an opportunity for Millennial Generation writers to develop a voice and gather a following, along with a real chance for older generations to listen in, learn, even ask questions."

Having grown up literally just saturated in information, our world view is far different from the weltanschauung of previous generations. In my post, "15 Ways Millennials Think About Brands," I look at some of the new ways we interact with marketing and what we expect from it.

If you enjoy it or have any ideas leave a comment and check out the rest of the site. We're brand new and always looking for feedback. Also if you're interested in writing something for TNGG we're always looking for writers.


PS blog, Business Updates, mentions TNGG and my article: Blog of interest to marketers debuts in the Hub. Woot woot.

And TNGG in general mentioned on the
Beancast picks up the story, posts: Crowdsourcing That's Actually Crowdsourcing

Some kind words on YRevold! (Brands: We Own You)

Also on SocialLink (Are Brands Important?) and

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's time for 21st century brands

I majored in Advertising and Political Science, here is what I learned in school: Once a campaign is developed convention dictates that it be integrated, applied over every media like spreading frosting on a cake. Design a good media mix, get a little multiplier effect going on and then call it a day!

The idea being, if a brand is the same everywhere, all the time, broadcasting a message that is disruptive and persuasive, its image burns into the audience’s mind like the memory of a first kiss or that time you hurled after accidentally drinking sour milk.

It is painfully obvious however that some brands are currently writing a new playbook, and with great success. I term them 21st century brands, but I suppose you could just call them smart. Yet, with home internet access almost 20 years old, only recently has it become apparent to even these innovators that there is real value in changing things up. Look back at say, the results of online fundraising for the past three presidential elections and woah, where did 2008 come from?! Sure, the internet and mobile technology evolved a great deal in a short time, so perhaps we owe it to that? Yeah ok, maybe. But it’s not as if Facebook is worlds apart from Friendster, a permutation with better marketing at best. Far more significant I’d argue has been the sharp increase of the general public’s literacy with these mediums, that they in depth and breadth have finally grown enough to change the game.

In terms of shifting paradigms, politics are decent gauge. Richard Nixon got spanked by JFK in 1960 because by then more people were watching TV than listening to radio; and Nixon refused to tan like a girl or wear makeup. Turns out sweaty and pale doesn’t come off as presidential. But eight years later Nixon was back, and with a presidential bid hailed by many as the first “modern political campaign” – winning him the White House and two mentions in Billy Joel’s hit song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Not bad.

The 1960 presidential election demonstrated the power of television just over twenty years after becoming commercially available. There is no doubt that 2008 was another game changing year. We had a new media environment, fueled by a more mature ‘web 2.0’ and sophisticated mobile technology that, most importantly, for the first time ever was actually being used by a majority of people. In other words, internet literacy had finally caught up with the technology available.

There’s no need to rehash how the Obama campaign was able to translate clicks and texts into real world actions or word of mouth buzz into persuasion by facilitating two way communication and foster community around shared meaning. Or to point out again how the supporters themselves became an integral part of the campaign/ brand structure, committing their time, money and passion to movement, and actively helping to write its story.

It is important to note, however, that for all the campaign's media savvy, none of this would have been possible without an electorate actually using and fluent in the capabilities of online and mobile technology. Or rather, using it and using it well.

What Obama did may or may not have specific lessons for brands. Let’s be honest, DEWmocracy wasn’t really that cool or successful - it was actually pretty lame. However, with a step back, one solid fact we can take away from the political sphere in 2008 is that similar to 1960, twenty or so years after its debut the net unarguably came into its own. How we interact with media has finally changed to the extent that ignoring it is simply not an option. We certainly won’t see any serious political candidate ignore this fact in the future and any truly successful 21st century brands will be the ones placing a high premium on adapting to this new space.

Marshall McLuhan coined, “the medium is the message” in 1964 and four years later Nixon demonstrated better than anyone that he got the message. Tick tock.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rehabilitating Paid Content

:Consolidation and Integration Could Save Paid Media, Online and Off

It goes without saying that when it comes to content, who gets paid for it and how are the issue of the day when it comes to solving the “problem” of the internet. As media continues to fragment and online users become more impatient, log-ins and user names are among the first things to cause someone to click the back button on their browser – forget about asking them to pull out a credit card unless FedEx or UPS is involved.

For news content (music and video as well), the issue for consumers has been framed as cost. They expect it to be free and if it’s not they simply won’t pay. But, psychologically it may not necessarily be money that stands in the way of people paying for content, but rather clutter.

These days even millennials are overwhelmed by the internet. The cohort that grew up showing their parents how to use e-mail and messing around in chat rooms when they were 13 are becoming slower to adopt the exponentially growing number of new online services and opportunities.

From multiple e-mails (personal [new and old], work and/or school) to Twitter to YouTube and Hulu accounts, to the NYT/ Wall Street Journal, a personal blog, an account on a forum and maybe even a porn subscription–even the simplest of online users have a cluster f@#k of information to keep track of just to access information. Moreover, it’s likely that for most their user names and log-ins are all different, as some sites demand specific letter and number combinations and lengths for usernames and passwords–and everyone hates it. AND, even when we do easily remember, we silently groan as we move our hands from the mouse to the keyboard just to read the rest of an article or find that our friend has logged us out of facebook on our own computer.

Online, we want consolidation, simplicity.

Sure people are used to the internet being free, but why do we assume people won’t pay for online content? Just because they haven’t? We pay for cable to see the programs we like when network TV is a free alternative. And we pay even more on top of that for HBO and Showtime. But these channels are just a few options from a media menu we construct and enjoy as a delightful digital meal – all on one bill every month, tip included.

The current internet pay-for-content model we’re rejecting is “pay by channel.” Figuratively, it has us whipping out our credit card to pay for CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC... Comedy Central, Spike, Oxygen, TNT... all separately and forcing us to use a log-in and password any time we’re looking to channel surf. “Uggh, f@#k that,” we all say, and I agree.

What I’m getting at is nothing outrageously new: if costs and access were consolidated online (and off-more below) I think we’d see a very different type of user behavior emerge. People would likely see things very differently if, instead of paying a separate bill with separate log-in information for NYT, the Economist and Esquire, etc., they could purchase a “preferred media package” included with their cable, internet and phone bill.

Further, lets talk offline. Ask any millennial and I highly doubt you’ll find many that don’t enjoy reading magazines and news papers in the flesh, or think that libraries should be online. Sure we want it there too, but it turns out we like books all the same. We do, however, have a problem with print, and it’s directly related to the issue of clutter.

Anecdote alert). I’m always moving to a new apartment every 5 months or at least every year or so. And every time I actually buy a newspaper I think–if only the Boston Globe offered me an easy way to manage my subscription via facebook! If only my Esquire subscription could live in the RFID chip on my credit card and be good for my monthly issue wherever I happen to be that month. And don’t give me reasons why this can’t work. Do you want to sell newspapers and magazines or don’t you?

The other key point here, along with consolidation, is integration. If I could manage my subscriptions on facebook, where I already am, or if I could choose where to pick up my magazines (just an example)–then that’s a whole new world for me. The internet and print don’t have to be opposing forces in my view, rather they have the ability to be complimentary.

In summation: I don’t think people aren’t against paying for the news, we have been doing it for a very long time – and sure we’re against spending money, but I’m willing to bet that what we are more against are log-ins and laundry lists of monthly charges on our credit cards. More against picking apart websites for the phone number to change 5 subscriptions, when we know we’re just going to have to do it again in 5 months.

What I’m saying is that consolidation, integration and simplification, or rather convenience, could be a key ingredient to rehabilitating the feasibility of paid content.

Make my life easier, give me what I want, here take my money.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vest Week

A hooded sweatshirt might be informal for work, but you cut off the sleeves and now it's fine. As I meditated on this paradox on my way into the city this morning, nervously eying my hooded cut-off, I contemplated the fashion cycle of vests. When they're in they're awesome, and when they are out it's more like: "Is that guy really wearing a vest? Let's leave those for early 90s intro's to Friends, shall we? Thanks." Well right now vests are back* and I'm taking advantage of it all this week! With a warm chestal area and slightly chilly arms I plan to live each sleeveless day to it's fullest. Next week, plaid or argyle, not sure yet.

* Are they? I actually have no idea... the more I think about it I don't think they are.

Update: Had a few questions about the sweatshirt vest, naturally. This is it. Pretty gangster, I know... (PS I did not cut the sleeves off, it came like that).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We're not as digital as you think

More often than not it’s my peers, not my parents, asking me, “So what’s this twitter thing?” In my circle of friends (all millennials) I am among the most Internet savvy. For anyone working with social media on a daily basis this should concern you. If it turns out that millennials aren’t that digital then what are we doing? And what are they up to?

I may be slightly above average when it comes to my grasp of the “State of the Internet,” and I am literally always learning. I don’t mean that in one of those cute, oh shucks I’m always learning kind of way, rather it’s a frantic, confusing cluster k@#k of learning while I try to drink in new technologies, understand their potential and offer strategies about how best to leverage them for marketing purposes. So if this is me then where are my peers?

The issue here is, to what extent are average millennials engaged with the world of social media. And this is when David Scott and Malcolm Gladwell pop into my head. Most of what I know about the information superhighway highway was gleaned from what can only be described as Mavens. People who sat down at my computer and said back in 2005, “Hey I’m going to put Firefox on your computer, it’s better than IE, just trust me.” They were the ones who pointed me down the "long tail" of new technology literacy. And here’s where Scott comes in, because it seems that while internet literacy is growing wider and deeper, ultimately it’s not common knowledge, but a niche skill to use blogs and navigate twitter.

In the introduction to my thesis on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign I set up the premise that 2007 and 2008 not only had Internet technology advanced, but people’s comfort and literacy with it had finally progressed enough as well (an educated guess). As a result, more people knew not only what the Internet was and how to use google, but they were aware of and engaged with social and mobile technology. Yay, online community coming to fruition. Clicks translated to real life action. Awesome.

And yet, even with twitter as yesterday’s news it still seems to mystify many. Frequently I find myself at social events extolling the virtues of blogging or explain to them that reading and (of course) using twitter is worth their time. While many are happy to hear about it at first, I find the that just the idea of using these technologies are frequently met with misunderstandings, skepticism and more often that one would think, outright hostility – I'm arguing with 20 year olds that the internet is cool. What?

Last year when I saw the new Dentyne ice campaign on the subway I had to smile because it validated the Account Planner in. Someone else had come to the same conclusion I had, that outward disdain for social media could be a good position for a band. That is, even though many people may use social media they are confused by it and what they do use they resent for the time it steals from their lives and for the diminishing direct social contact – it’s tough to share even a football game on a computer, let alone while surfing.

So what do we have? The Internet is confusing and on the whole millennials are just as confused as everyone else. There is a big chunk of mystery, misunderstanding and just plain lack of understanding sitting between a few (million) heavy users and everyone getting on board. The knowledge barrier to hurdle just to use twitter is high, then to use it enough to like it? Most say forget it. Reading blogs? Starting a blog? Most millennials see it as an attention thing or expect to start getting followers within a few weeks having followed no one themselves. On the whole we are skeptical and even pessimistic toward the Internet.

I’m not saying that millennials don’t use the Internet, we use it a lot. Just not where or how you think we do. And I’ll tell you one thing right now – it’s not facebook fan pages.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Be Like Mike

Sunday, August 2, 2009

McCognitive Dissonance

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Last week Mullen was gracious enough to offer me a series of informative interviews with several people working in their social media influence group. Having never been inside an agency before, I was very aware and nervous about what a big event in my life this was as I stepped off the elevator into Mullen's new downtown offices. The first through the last interview (especially when Edward popped in) felt a bit surreal, mostly because I could not stop thinking to myself, "This is so cool, this is so cool..." I learned a lot and each person who I met with was welcoming and happy to answer all of my questions and give me advice. After some great conversations I was sad to leave, but invigorated to up my game and really show what I could do.

Concerning Mullen specifically, I have this to say: I think that it says a lot about a person who takes the time to sit down and help others just because it's a nice thing to do, and it says something equally significant about an agency that does the same. Each person I sat down with at Mullen was taking time out of their very busy day to speak with a student who'd never seen an agency lobby, and were all happy to do so. Additionally, I learned how the internship program at Mullen assigns interns to mentors and provides lectures during lunchtime to help them learn and grown while they are there. This is the mark of a great agency, and a corporate culture that really cares about everyone, even the interns - even prospective interns trying to understand what the industry is like a little better.

Thank you Mullen, and thank you to everyone who I met with. I had a great time and I learned a lot!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ads in the Wild

At FedEx Kinko's the other day I was reminded of the age old problem of translating GUI (what I see on the screen) to paper. The colors never seem to come out quite right, no matter how hard I try. It's not really a problem, just a little frustrating. But the bigger question it raised for me was about execution. Ads on a screen, in a book or in a conference room (I'm guessing) never really look quite like they will when they're finally printed in a magazine, shellacked to a wall or stretched over a billboard.

This is partly what inspired me to go out and take some shots of ads as they exist in their "natural environment." Notice their majestic, colorful and trendy plumage utilized to attract a mate. I may well be grasping for something that isn't there, but I think it's interesting how they effect the landscape, and how it effects them. I've been taking walks around the city every few months snapping shots, and soon I'll post the series I've put together in a place that does them a little more justice (this blog isn't really designed to accommodate images). Until I get them all edited and up on a more suitable site (possibly here are a few I've picked out.

click images to view larger

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Inside, Out of Home

Summer is supposed to be relaxing, except when you're taking summer classes that fly through material faster than a frat party taps a keg. That is, I haven't found much time to write, or even get out. And, while I may be stuck reading in the library over beautiful weekends, I've still found some time to peer out into the great, big world via the 'internets'. Thus, here are some out of home ads I've come across while surfing around, cooped up inside.

Some sources: Advertising Creative, Most Creative Outdoor Advertisements

Friday, June 5, 2009

What he said...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Most Interesting Man in the World

My friend Doug Hyland recently turned me onto the Dos Equis campaign and I thought I'd post some of the ads here (below) simply because this is now one of my favorite campaigns. I think that "The Most Interesting Man in the World" is a superb idea for this campaign for many reasons - and it hearkens to a little part of the James Bond that lies within many men, that unfortunately imitators often overlook, he's deadly, classy and brilliant. He's an intellectual that wields unparalleled social skills, charm, poise and a dry wit you hate to love. These ads really hit that idea home for me, and I think it will for a lot of other guys as well.

Similarly, I also enjoy the new Ketel One campaign that plays on a related theme - it's good to be a put together man, you know the way men used to be. It's most recent ad (below) showing a group of very well dressed men playing cards and drinking around a table in a mysteriously dark room, begins with a voice over saying, "There was a time when substance was style," and ends with the tag line "Gentlemen, this is vodka." Further, not long ago a campaign done by Canadian Club's also plays off a similar imagery. With ads that were about "Your Dad," it was predominantly a print campaign and ran with headlines such as: "Your Mom wasn't your Dad's first," and "Your Dad gave out the nick names." The accompanying pictures were of men in the 1960s and 70s, very classy (for the time) and in control. After thinking about these three campaigns, it dawned on me that, in addition to being pretty good, what I liked about them was the way they portrayed what it means to be a man.

Similarly an article in Esquire last month, titled "What is a Man?", also explored the idea of what it means to be a man today. To quote it briefly: "A man welcomes the coming of age. It frees him. It allows him to assume the upper hand and teaches him when to step aside... A man listens, and that's how he argues. He crafts opinions. He can pound the table, take the floor. It's not that he must. It's that he can." All of these qualities of manliness paint a picture of someone who is strong (physically and mentally) but also in control, organized, intelligent, a bit refined and fiercely independent. Not bad, right?

Poking around however, I came across some interesting, and mostly negative, comments about the Esquire article on, with one person calling it: "Pr aspirational lifestyle hogwash" - and I had to laugh as I guess that's true to an extent. But, what I like about the Esquire article and all of these ad campaigns is that they redefine the image of what it means to be a man that I feel I've been fed most of my life - something that I think our culture might need very badly right now.

This vision of a man is a far cry from what my generation is shown daily on MTV - it might be PR aspirational stuff, but at least it's not the manufactured stereotype of the "mook" (eg. Jonny Knoxville) that Frontline's report "Merchant's of Cool" discusses; so maybe, just maybe PR aspirational bull isn't all that bad. Overall, much of the imagery out there about men right now seems to be anti intellectual, disrespectful and focuses on physical, rather than emotional strength. In contrast, these pieces paint a picture of manliness that values education, critical thinking and courtesy. And aren't these among the best qualities we would like a role model to demonstrate? I think that in large part I'm alright with that.

I wish i didn't have to write this part, but I think I do. To clarify my position on the message of these ads - while part of their power rests in the nostalgic feeling of the way things used to be, I don't believe they are promoting a return to misogyny, and neither am I. We're steadily and deliberately heading in the right direction with regard to gender equality, and this is a beautiful thing. Further, I cannot wait until the GLBT realizes and enjoys similar success. In many ways the old ways of doing things is nothing to miss. Though, along with our purging of misogyny I believe men may have lost a bit of their identity, as we attempted to throw out all the old ways of doing things because they were bad, right? - but maybe all the old values and ideas were not awful.

But back to the beginning. I like these ads for many reasons, but ultimately because they speak to me. They are clever and funny and (debatably) have a great message that goes along with them. I'm not sure what this image of manliness will mean in the larger scope of things, and I'm not saying that it doesn't have problems (see Don Draper). But, from much of what I've encountered in my life it seems that boys and men are facing a bit of a cultural identity crisis - and these messages fill a much needed gap in the spectrum of our culture tells us it means to be a man. The expectations and images of our society are very powerful, and they deserve our attention. These images of men are certainly not the end all be all, and there is certainly much to be debated. But for now, I like this.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Lose a Widget in 10 Seconds

I recently found that Adweek has a cool widget that shows a new ad every day! I immediately loved the idea and I wanted to add it to my blog and my google home page to indulge my ad nerdiness. However, I quickly found that I couldn’t resize the widget, and it’s very, very big. I couldn’t fit it in the right hand column of this blog and it dwarfed the other widgets on my google home page. I’m not fluent in html, but I am able to work with youtube’s embedding code to make the videos just the right size for what I'm doing; and that is why I like to use youtube.

Conversely, because the Adweek widget lacked flexibility I couldn’t use it (I should note, maybe it's possible but I don't know how - if it is I'd be interested to learn). Now I don’t have a cool widget and Adweek doesn’t get to advertise to me and my readers every day - even though it's something that we both want. I think this is a good example of a great social media idea gone just a little wrong - it's off, I think, because it doesn't take full advantage of the environment it exists in or the full needs of its users. Social media users (like myself) crave flexibility and the ability to customize. You just don't get me Adweek.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cost Lost in Translation

How do we weigh the price of a candidate?

In a chapter of my thesis (just drafted) I discuss some of the difficulties involved with translating the ideas of branding into the political sphere. One big problem is how to deal with the issue of cost. Money and votes just simply aren't the same and shouldn't be treated as such. An often-made assumption that, conceptually speaking, the monetary the cost of a product in the context of a consumer market can be understood as the equivalent of a vote in the political sphere is both overly simplistic and (dare I say) wrong; product cost = x does not correlate to candidate cost = one vote.

Consumers may vary on their willingness to purchase a specific brand based on several factors, one of which is how much they are willing or able to spend. Elections, on the other hand, create a level playing field where every citizen is afforded the same amount to spend. Further, with monetary transactions, there is an implicit exchange of value; a seller provides a product or service in exchange for its equivalent value in money. Yet, how can the cost of support in exchange for a vote be similarly evaluated? Therefore, the perceived cost of voting for a candidate must be derived from an entirely different set of criteria.

While it is certain that no candidate will line up with voters' on the issues a hundred percent of the time, most voters are still able to choose a candidate to support. Potential voters must weigh the aspects of each candidate’s platform, considering what positions they may agree or disagree with against the issues most important to them. This trade off, I believe, is where the true cost of a candidate is determined. For example, an undecided voter may disagree with a candidate who has come out against specific energy alternatives such as offshore drilling and nuclear power. However, social issues may be of much greater salience to the voter in question, causing him or her to continue supporting the candidate if their stance on social issues is in alignment with theirs. The voter is thus willing to bear the "cost" of dissatisfaction with the position on energy policy in exchange for a similar position on social issues that they value more. That is, voters weigh cost based on what they perceive as the “lesser of two evils” – though I hate this axiom and it certainly oversimplifies the point.

In some instances voters may feel that the cost of either candidate is to high when compared to the issues that are most salient to them, and in these instances may become disenchanted with the political process or explore 3rd party alternatives.

One benefit to explaining (political) price in this way, is that it opens the door for another application of brand theory. Like strong brands, well-developed political brands may exercise greater flexibility in terms of position preference the minds of consumers. Consumers with favorable feelings toward a candidate may be more willing to forgive or overlook paying a higher position cost for that candidate. That is, brand credibility has the power to decrease sensitivity to price, (Keller, 2003). Therefore, if a consumer is loyal to a particular candidate they will be more willing to accept the cost of unfavorable issue positions.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meta Ad

While this was the lead story in April 3rds AAF SmartBrief, I want to weigh in with my thoughts all the same - and who knows, maybe you missed it. An article on (quoted below) discussed the unique meta ad approach of a new advertising campaign by Health Choice. I really like the idea they went with for the campaign; a behind the scenes look at the conversation between the spokesperso, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, and her agent as they discuss the potential ad deal. It's not that new of an idea, and it feels a lot like The Office, but it's something that people really like right now.

Further, I think the whole meta ad idea ties into the conversation about problems in the industry concerning how people relate to and trust the messages they see in ads. As Luke Sullivan points out in the intro of "Hey Whipple, Squeeze This," people used to trust advertising, but it's no secrete that they don't anymore, in fact lots of people claim to despise it. And, these days Gallup polls regularly show advertising practitioners on par with car salesmen and members of Congress when it comes to least-trusted professions.

The point here is that any agency and client wants people to watch and believe their ads. But how can that be effectivly accomplished when, for some or many people, the credibility of message is already significantly hurt by the medium before we even see the first second of the ad? That's a pretty tough handycap to start with.

I suppose the truth of the matter is that it's not all that bad, not everyone thinks ads are lying and those that do still take in the message, even if with a grain of salt. But still credibility is an important issue all the same. We want ads to be trustworthy. It's something that most ads struggle with, and while I'm not sure if this Health Choice campaign will overcome it, I think it's a pretty good way to try.

'The premise of the commercials, which are directed by Christopher Guest (director of Spinal tap), is that Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is not really sure whether she wants to endorse Healthy Choice.

“It’s a ‘meta’ thing,” said Kathy Delaney, president and chief creative officer at Nitro, “advertising imitating life imitating advertising.”

The device enables the spots to convey information about Healthy Choice in a way that “never feel forced,” Ms. Delaney said, as Ms. Louis-Dreyfus and other characters discuss the reinvention,' ( via AAF SmartBrief).