Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deceptive Ad Claims Causing One Company $25 Million

Reebok Easy Tone Shoes
It was recently announced that Reebok was ordered to pay $25 million US to customers in order to settle changes by the U.S Federal Trade Commission over what the FTC is calling deceptive claims in their recent advertisement for Easy Tone Shoes. The company made claims in their latest ad, stating that the easy tone shoes would strengthen and tone the legs and buttocks of those who choose to wear them.
The FTC has banned the company from making any claims of strengthening and toning body parts without the backing of scientific evidence.
Consumers are said to be paid directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class-action lawsuit, but there is no word as to the burden of proof for consumers.
This and other recent stories of deceptive advertisements play an important role in the Marketing and Advertising industry as we Marketers move forward with our daily operations, and learn of these mistakes.
Related posts:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Social Media Marketing Budget

According to a recent eMarketing report, 44% of small-and medium-sized businesses noted using social media in their marketing mix, while 59% noted spending less than $100 on social media marketing.
I have to say I am not really surprised with these findings. I used to work as a Marketing Coordinator, hired on to start social media for multiple different companies whose main purpose for utilizing social media was to create awareness for their business because this form of marketing was free. The companies that I have interacted with seemed to have no intention of spending any money on social media marketing, and are often hesitant at spending any money on such programs as the advanced version of LinkedIn and Hootsuite. Many business owners have said to me “why pay for things like this when you can use the free version.” Often business owners don’t see the value in paying for such programs, so these findings are not too surprising for me. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the respondents of this survey who spend more than $100 on their social media marketing efforts are larger brands like Coca Cola and Dell.
Your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.

Facebook Targeting Their Social Media Marketing At Small Business Owners

Facebook has recently announced the launch of a new program targeted at small business owners in an effort to educate those entrepreneurs about their DIY advertising platform.
The first action plan of this social media giant is to launch webinars, case studies and whitepapers with tips and tricks to help encourage small business owners to utilize their advertising platform. Facebook also talked about sponsoring a series of road shows across the U.S.  starting in October to help promote its “Small Business Boost.” Their next phase of the program is set to kick off in January 2012, when Facebook intends to award 200,000 small business owners across the U.S. with $50 ad credits on Facebook, amounting to $10 million in free advertising.
According to a recent report, there are over 9.2 million small businesses in the U.S. that have their own Facebook Fan Page, but only 3.2 million of those pages have active engagement. Facebook is hoping to create a viral buzz about their advertising by providing advertising credits to small businesses in an effort to increase their online activities and ad spent with Facebook.
Facebook says their main purpose for creating this campaign was to show users how easy their online DIY ad program was to use, and of course to help increase profits for Facebook.

Twitter Virus

There are many viruses circulating the internet these days, and unfortunately they have reached such social media sites as Twitter.

I frequently receive these messages in my Twitter inbox, but continue to ignore them. For those of you interested in learning what the Twitter viruses looks like, they always seems to say the same thing “OMG I found this funny picture of you and can’t stop laughing,” followed by a link. When you click on the link it brings you to a page very similar to the Twitter log in page, asking you to log in again. Most people would wonder why you would have to log in again. Once you log into this fake Twitter page, the virus begins to spam your followers.

Wondering why they spam your followers? Twitter only allows you to send private messages to those who are following you. And unfortunately the way this Twitter virus works, once you give it access to your Twitter information, it spams your followers who may potentially click on the link, spamming their Twitter followers.

There is, unfortunately, another form of this virus. This one is just as common as the last. This virus “mentions” you, followed by a link. Ex: @Twitter http://tinyurl.com/63ewur4 there is no other part to this message, which is a little strange. If you click on the person that sent you the message, it is quite common to see the person has 6,125 tweets, no followers, and is not following anyone. I also find if you try to follow that person a message comes up saying this person’s Twitter account has been suspended.

The virus has become so wide spread that the official Twitter account actually acknowledged this virus, asking people to resist the urge to enter in their username and password.

I guess the moral of the story here that I would like to convey to my readers is; don’t click on links that you are unsure of, and if you do, don’t re-enter your password for anyone.

Update:

This morning I received this message on Twitter:
Do you have access to a computer and want to make money from home? You gotta see this
 
Of course I have access to a computer silly, I wouldn't be on Twitter if I didn't. This person, @xw64laryc3p,  has no followers and is not following anyone, but has sent the same message to 24 different people.

Now this could easily be someone actually trying to promote some work at home scam, or it could be a virus. I personally don't like to click on random links from people I don't know, so I usually just assume it is a virus. I read a report online a few days ago talking about how the virus gets access to your Twitter account. A simple click is all they need at times to access your followers. If you do encounter this problem, Twitter has said to just change your account password to stop the virus from spreading.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Part 3: Domestic Violence in Advertising: When A Company Goes Too Far

3) Negative feedback for social media sites
The issue of negative feedback for social media sites is always interesting. If you listen to any expert in the industry, they always say negative feedback is just as good as positive feedback, and companies are encouraged to leave the negative comments on their social media sites, making sure to address them right away.
With this particular ad campaign, there has been overwhelming negative feedback on the company’s Facebook fan page, calling for a boycott of the business altogether. I have since than visited their Facebook fan page, and it seems as if a new fan page has been created recently. One can only assume the page was deleted after so much negative feedback, and a new one posted not long ago after the media hype was over.
I guess the question I have now is directed towards the “online makreitng guru’s.” Where does a business draw the line when it comes to negative feedback?

Part 2: Domestic Violence in Advertising: When A Company Goes Too Far


This is a follow-up post to Part 1: Domestic Violence in Advertising: When A Company Goes Too Far

2) Domestic violence in advertising: When a company goes too far
The issue of domestic violence has been used in advertising campaigns in the past, but many bringing light to the issue of domestic violence while offering aid to those in need. The video below is a perfect example of an advertising campaign that tastefully depicts domestic violence:

Cameron notes her choice in advertisements was first and foremost to spark discussions about domestic violence and highlight the strength of women in difficult situations. Understood, and great that she has wanted to step up and support women of domestic violence, but as a marketer I can’t help but wonder how this ties in with marketing a hair salon?





I would love to hear from you, your thoughts on domestic violence in advertising

Domestic Violence in Advertising: When A Company Goes Too Far

*I would first off like to note my disclaimer here, as a marketing professional I too do not condone domestic violence in advertising, or in any situation for that matter.
I find this advertising campaign to be interesting for me as it brings up three different angles of discussion: 1) any press is good press, 2) domestic violence in advertising, and 3) the issue of negative feedback for social media sites.
Before I get into my thoughts on this advertising campaign, here is the advertisement

A few weeks ago an Edmonton hair salon, Fluid Hair, released a cutting edge advertising campaign which began setting the internet abuzz. The new ad campaign has been noted as glorifying domestic violence in an effort to turn a profit.
Their recent ad campaign depicts a well-dressed women sporting a black eye while a handsome man stands behind her with a necklace. The ad copy itself reads “look good in all you do.”
With the release of this campaign, some battered women’s groups have stepped up calling the campaign inappropriate. Others have taken the social media route, commenting on the company’s Facebook fan page asking people to boycott the business altogether.
Owner, Sarah Cameron, says she is shocked by the outrage the ad has sparked and insists they had no intention of encouraging domestic violence. Cameron, in her own defence, notes the ads purpose was to spark discussion about the strength of women in difficult situations. She notes the intentions of the advertisement was to depict a strong women, even though she is battered she seems to be turning down the necklace and showing a strong side, with her back towards her man.
The ad was originally posted over a year ago, with no media attention. Cameron is shocked with the amount of coverage the company is receiving this round and noted that she is actually pleased the campaign is bringing attention to domestic violence. But many media outlets have noted that the campaign isn`t helping anyone, expect the salons bottom line.
The theory, any press is good press, has been coined to describe situations where bad behaviour by people involved with an organization or brand has actually resulted in positive results, due to the fame and press coverage accrued by such events.
One example would be the Australian Tourism Board’s So where the bloody hell are you?” advertising campaign that was initially banned in the UK, but the amount of  publicity this generated resulted in the official website for the campaign being swamped with request to see the banned ad.
The statement above addresses this situation in a perfect manner. If Fluid Hair Salon experiences a surge of new bookings due to this ad campaign, than yes the theory is correct and their ad campaign has done its job. Unfortunately in real life, people and companies often profit off of others misfortunes.
This story was not only picked up and published by many different media outlets in the Edmonton area, but has also gone international. From a PR perspective this is big news for a small business, but in this case any press isn’t always good press.
One comment I found interesting to me:

“As a woman, a hairstylist and also the woman on the couch, I won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole,” wrote Jodi Holmes-Przywara. “But, what I will say is for as many people that dislike the ad there as just as many that will go to the salon because of them. Its marketing, good or bad.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Have you ever rode a donkey down the streets in New York? Or tied a giraffe to a telephone pole? Or crossed a state line with a duck on your head? You may be breaking the law

I recently came across an article in the Vancouver Sun about bazaar laws and wanted to pass along some of my favorite ones. I travel quite a bit so this information is quite interesting to me.
In Oklahoma, it is illegal to take a bite out of someone else’s hamburger
In Utah, birds have the right away on all highways
In Minnesota, it is illegal to hang men and women’s underwear together on the same clothesline.
In Virginia – oral sex is illegal
In Utah, it is illegal to hunt whales (even though Utah is landlocked)
In France, it is illegal to name any pig “Napolean”
In Anchorage, Alaska it is illegal to strap your pet dog to the roof of your car
In Alabama, it is illegal to play dominoes on Sunday.
In Los Angeles, it is illegal to put two babies in one bathtub at the same time
In Thailand, it is illegal to step on any Thai currency (coins or bills)
In Australia, taxis must carry a bale of hay in their trunk
In Great Britain, it is illegal for members of Parliament to wear armour to work
In Massachusetts, it is still illegal to bath on Sundays (although I don’t think this law is enforced anymore)
In Iowa, it is illegal to kiss for more than 5 minutes
In Washington, it is illegal to pretend your parents are rich.
In Minnesota, it is illegal to cross state lines with a duck on your head.

In New York, it is illegal to ride a donkey down the streets.

And my favorite:
In Vermont, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole.


I would love to hear your thoughs on these laws ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Direct Mail Marketing: The WOW Factor

This is a follow up blog to my previous post Direct Mail: The Forgotten Piece.

As a marketer, I often sign up to receive junk mail from many different companies, as I like looking at the creative aspects of certain marketing campaigns. I am always amazed with the effort many companies put forth in their direct mail pieces, and unfortunately we all know where the majority of those direct mail pieces end up (in the recycling).

I have used direct mail in many marketing campaigns over the years, and have seen some great success with this form of marketing. On the other hand, I have also encountered many companies who don't see success in direct mail campaigns at all. A few years ago I was working in an industry that specialized in branded merchandise, and was amazed the first time I learned that a 2% response rate on direct mail pieces was considered a success.

There are many factors surrounding the success of direct mail campaigns, so I wanted to share some points on how to make the most of your direct mail campaign:

1. The WOW factor:

Many direct mail pieces simply lack that wow factor, something that integers the target audience to read on. A lot of thought needs to go into planning your direct mail campaign; target audience, proper messaging, and design just to name a few.

I have had the opportunity to examine some amazing direct mail pieces over the years as my boyfriend works at a printing company. Ones that always catch my attention are ones that don't look like every other direct mail piece out there. Using the standard 4 x 6 postcard format just doesn't cut it anymore. Consumers are continuously bombarded with direct mail junk on a daily basis, ask your self "what makes my direct mail piece stick out from the rest."

2. Messaging:

Businesses should clearly state what actions they want consumers to make - ie call, visit a website, email for more information, and so on. All pertinent information should be displayed on the direct mailer, including location, website address, phone number, and email address. A great suggestion here would be using QR codes to help track your offline marketing activities.


3. Design:

Whether it be the shape, colour or design of the direct mail piece, it is all about standing out from the rest of junk consumers receive. I often find that direct mail pieces with die cuts or solid colours catch consumers attention better than the standard postcard loaded with heavy text and images. Design plays a huge factor when it comes to consumers deciding to keep your piece for future reference or just scrapping it.

4. Distribution Schedule:

Believe it or no, timing really is everything when it comes to sending out your direct mail pieces. Certain factors like vacations, fiscal year end, and holiday seasons play a big part in whether your direct mail piece is looked at or not. Keep in mind your target audience, when is their busy season, when they might be on vacations. A great suggestion for those working on sending out direct mail pieces for Christmas promotions, October and the beginning of November are always the best time to send out Christmas promo's. Consider the amount of junk mail sent out throughout the month of December, and with Costco bringing Christmas items out earlier each year, it gets consumers thinking of Christmas earlier each year.

5. ROI

It is always good to keep track of the responses you receive from your direct mailer. This will help you measure the success for future mailers. Many companies are also able to obtain critical feedback from their response rate for the next round of mailers.

A few suggestions for measuring the effectiveness of your offline marketing activities, QR codes and customer landing page domains. Depending on your CMS, many programs allow you to duplicate the landing page while adding a custom or shortened URL to direct your traffic to. This will allow you to keep track of your stats and learn how many people visited your site due to your direct mail efforts.

Rogers Media Pulls Out of 2014 Olymics

Rogers Media announced this morning that they would not be bidding on the 2014 or 2016 Olympic Games. The decision was said to be based on careful evaluation of both financial priorities and programming implications.

Rogers Media president Keith Pelley “You evaluate every property on many different factors: how it affects scheduling, what’s the business model, does it affect your brand, how does it affect the consumer? When we put all the variables together, it led us to [conclude] ‘This really isn’t a fit for us right now.’

Pelley notes that while Olympic sponsorship are not totally out of the budget, this may not be the best time for the company. Pelley also noted that they have not ruled out the 2018 or 2020 Olympic Games.

Pelley calls the decision "Like buying something you don't need. You put that together with what we believe is a financial situation that is not positive, it made for an easy decision.”

Original Story from the Marketing Daily. Read the full story here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Is your company maximizing your social media efforts?

A survey conducted by SAS Canada and Leger Marketing released interesting results indicating that Canadian companies are not utilizing their social media efforts to their fullest potential. The study was conducted with 1,000 Canadian executives who revealed that while their companies many post frequently to their social media sites or monitor such sites for mentions of their brand, many companies rarely do both on a regular basis.  
The results from these findings aren’t surprising for many social media exports as these results are consistent with previous findings from social media exports, who noted that Canadian corporations regularly lag behind U.S firms in the adoption of such things as social media for new marketing channels.
The interesting question here is what is it that causes Canadian companies to lag behind U.S. firms in the adoption of social media as an important communication channel.
Key findings from this study:
·         Less than 17% of Canadian companies post to social media sites or monitor mentions.
·         14% of respondents post to social media sites at least once a day
·         25% of the above group noted no regularly monitoring social media conversations for mentions
·         10% regularly monitor mentions, but don’t post frequently.
·         49% of respondents noted lack of resources as the reason for not posting regularly or monitoring social media mentions.
·         13% said their company disregards social media entirely as a waste of time.

Frito Lay Nails Social Media Giveaway

Frito Lay launched a new social media campaign in August as an effort to drive awareness to their new flavor, Spicy Ketchup. The chip manufacturer recently launched a Facebook campaign to help increase their Facebook likes by offering out coupons for free 75-gram chip bags.

This Facebook initiative was one of the first Facebook advertisements conducted by Frito Lay, and the company successfully achieved their target object of 50,000 likes (in just one week). The company currently sites at 2.2 million Facebook likes.

Chaudia Calderon, senior marketing manager, comments on the campaigns success: “The speed with which it got there was definitely a surprise for us.” Calderon attributes much of the campaigns success to the fact that the promo was picked up and promoted by such daily deal and freebie sites as SimplyFrugal.ca and Smartcaucks.com

The new social media campaign was intended to help the company increase their penetration rate of the new Spicy Ketchup flavor. While the free chip portion of the campaign has concluded, Calderon said the Facebook page will still be active as a communication tool for the Ruffles brand before becoming a significant “engagement tool” for the brand in 2012.