December 2012 Archives

Real Communication

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Psychologist Sherry Turkle spoke at a TED conference about the dangers of digital communication. She described how Americans are caught up in the world of social media and text. By those methods of communication, people are able to filter their communication until it come out just right. It's untruthful and also directed more perhaps toward imaginary audiences.

Turkle suggests a grass roots communication campaign in which we all learn to have real conversations with one another and I couldn't agree with her more. She says that people are often lonely but afraid of intimacy and that technology is offering, "the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship." This is a profound statement and on that I think is true. I'm behind Turkle.

http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html

Touch

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An article in the New York Times by Benedict Carey reports on recent studies of non-verbal communication. Namely, touch. According to the article, scientist have discovered a correlation between physical contact and human performance in terms of sports and relationships. Essentially, the more touch, the better the player does and the closer the relationship. Although this correlation was determined, the causation was not.

Scientist Michael Kraus has plans for testing causation in a lab environment to determine which comes first, the touch or the positive performance. I thought that this was a natural second step and I'm curious to know how they intend to set up an experiment. I'm assuming that some sort of Solomon 4-group design will be used and I'm interested to hear about the results.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23mind.html

JP Morgan

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A print ad I choose to examine showcases the financial services of JP Morgan. The big idea behind the print is, "You've got big plans and we'd like to support them." JP Morgan is targeting entrepreneurs and investors in need of capital by highlighting the bank's loyalty and discernment in partnership.

The positioning strategy is beneficial and clearly emotional. The ad plays on the personal dreams of business owners. This print helps reassure the viewer and instills a feeling of confidence and security in JP Morgan. They intend to demonstrate their competence by their prestigious track record and hope to elevate the viewer's self-value by the extension of their hand in the pursuit of the viewer's dream. This ad fulfills the need of esteem. It helps the viewer focus their desires more clearly and actually prove to them, on a certain level, the reality of achieving their desires.

The headline reads, "The Best Investments Pay Off For Generations," and represents JP Morgan's keen eye for successful opportunity and the fruitful results available. The sub-head reads, "Since we financed its construction in 1887, Madison Square Gardens has hosted every event imaginable, and delighted millions of New Yorkers." This line speaks of JP Morgan's history. It founds the bank in success. This line also hints at the viewer's chance to "delight millions" and helps build trust in the bank that's been around the block and knows the neighborhood. I'd say the copy is testimonial in that JP Morgan is referencing their roots and quality.

This print appeals to personal emotions including self-esteem, recognition, and ambition. The communication objectives are to increase brand knowledge and to reinforce positive brand attitudes. Overall, I think this is a great ad. It effectively evokes passion and confidence that will lead to partnership. It makes me think, if JP Morgan were a producer, the Academy Award winner would thank them at the podium.

http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/jpmorgan_madison_square_garden?size=original

Flair

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The Belgian fashion magazine, Flair, recently produced a very clever social campaign using Facebook. Duval Guillaume, the hired agency, created a Facebook App called the Flair Fashion Tag. The idea behind the app is simple and brilliant, taking advantage of the website's "tagging" feature. Instead of tagging friends and family, the Flair Fashion Tag allows the user to tag various items of clothing worn by any of their Facebook friends. Once tagged, the users can post questions like, "I love it! Where did you find it?" As soon as a post is responded to, Flair automatically adds the photo to a vast collection found on the magazine's page. These photos are voted upon and the top picks even get a spot in the weekly print.

The campaign is very effective because it capitalizes on natural female behavior. Women are always searching magazines, music videos, and the Hollywood Boulevard for the latest fashion trends. They're also paying close attention to their friends and co-workers. Flair Fashion Tag aggregates this insight and makes it readily available at your fingertips.

The biggest appeal, and what makes this application especially catchy is that you know the models. They're your big sister, your cousin, or Allison from the creative team. The photos and reviews put you and your friends under the spotlight and make you the star. Suddenly, you've got the hottest tip and everyone's asking you were you got those earrings.

It's an effective blending of passion-centric and ego-centric filters. The application brings women together in a content community where they share both interests and motivation. The practicality and efficiency of the app are enough on their own, but the self-expression and peer recognition are what really put it over the top.

http://apps.facebook.com/flairfashiontag/

Guy's Guy

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One of my favorite ad campaigns is the Gentlemen campaign by Kettle One vodka. I love the ads because they express a common male pursuit so vividly, coolness. The ads show a group of guys doing very guy-like things like playing pool or poker. The ads resemble a scene from Ocean's Eleven or a Bond film. The black and white mixed with the driving blues rhythm is incredibly stimulating and it all helps spotlight the lifestyle of a gentleman who drinks Kettle One. The gents in the ad are handsome, fun, and confident and comfortable in all situations.

I personally hate vodka but if I were ever to buy it, I'd buy Kettle One simply because of the ad. And that really doesn't make any sense. What I've realized is that vodka is a pretty standard product. Across the market, vodka is basically vodka. If you had to distinguish you could say that there is cheap vodka and good vodka but flavors and colors aside, products in the market are incredibly similar. So what are brands to do to create a unique point of difference? It's all about the brand identity. Kettle One has carved out an identity for itself that resembles Errol Flynn, James Bond and Danny Ocean rolled into one. So, when you're standing in the liquor aisle staring at 15 bottles of bland, colorless liquid, you begin to see the identity of the brand stamped on the bottle. In that sense, Kettle One is selling smoke and air as much as its selling booze.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX8qD_E46AE

Paul Ryan

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As the debate ran its course this Fall, I found myself swept up in he buzz surrounding Paul Ryan and his speeches. Ryan proved himself to be an excellent speaker, capable of connecting with a crowd and a country. As I thought about his ability I attempted to dissect the reason behind his success. What I realized is that Ryan is so likable because of his genuineness.

Ryan has a knack for speaking simple and deep truths. He doesn't coat his message in distraction. He says what he believes in terms that are easy to understand. Even if you don't like his politics, you can appreciate they guy for being straight up.

His politics do reflect his speaking style as well. He tends to believe in ideas that will make the American people more accountable. His ideas aren't a bandage, they're a cure. At least that's how I look at them. His idealism paired with a "get down to business and make it a reality" style make him a pretty amiable guy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrRBXKgAxSs

Everyday Hero

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For another class, Psychology of Advertising, my group and I are evaluating a popular ad campaign for GoPro cameras. The ads feature stunning user generated footage of extreme sports. The are very attractive ads and appeal to a wide market. The problem we found was that although the ads are extremely favorable and the brand identity is thoroughly positive, not nearly as many people are buying the camera as said they loved the product.

Our mission is to understand why people are not purchasing the camera so that we can remedy the situation. While testing ads on students and evaluating survey data, we realized that many students consider the purchase of a GoPro a poor investment being that they don't have the resources to do the extreme activities seen in the commercials. Although they fantasize about becoming a surf bum or mountain climber, they're faced with the fact that their current lifestyle doesn't merit the purchase of a GoPro.

A solution we proposed is that GoPro search its product for new uses that still apply to the current target market. In other words, take the level of extremity down a notch. Otherwise the tendency of the average target member is to feel that the camera is out of their league.

We referenced a campaign by Puma called the "After Hours Athlete". In the campaign, Puma draws attention to its casual wear line by showcasing the lives of sporty people when they're not playing sports. Puma kept its previous identity but also added a facet that complemented the brand. If GoPro continued with it's user generated approach but highlighted more familiar adventures like canoe trips, running of the bulls, etc. I feel it could really connect with a larger portion of their target market.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUbzBw_FaBA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9uwjUKkLsQ

Inside Man

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As a marketing consultant for the Minnesota Daily newspaper, it's my job to help clients not only reach a vast number of students but gain their attention and ultimately call them to action. It can be hard, as you can imagine, to try and hold the attention of a busy college student with a 3"x1" print ad when they're busy trying to do the crossword or read an article.

When I sat down with HourCar today, we discussed precisely this conundrum. As we talked, we discovered that the most important aspect of the ad, what would make or break the campaign, is the copy. We determined that there were three items to be included in the ad. First, an attention grabber. This is followed by a short, sweet, and to the point statement about what HourCar has to offer. And finally, the message should be shored up with a signature so the viewer know who's proposing. This could be as simple as the company logo.

It was an interesting process breaking down the experience a student has while reading the paper, exposing themselves to advertisements. By working backwards, in the shoes of our target, and it helped that my partner and I are part of that target, we were able to determine the major pitfalls of Daily print ads and hopefully sidestep them with our on-two-three punch solution.

We'll have to wait and see how the campaign goes but it was great being part of the brainstorm and research session as both a marketer and a representative of the market. I feel like I should have been successful being that all I needed to do to get answers was ask myself the questions.

Research Skinny Dipping

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I listened to a TED talk recently and absolutely loved the premise. The speaker, John Wilbanks, spoke on pooling medical data. Living in the age of social media and internet cookies I completely understand the problem to which Wilbanks suggests a solution, and I agree with him. He spoke about creating a sort of data commons where people can search through free data collected from volnteers across the country. And therein lies the problem. Who's willing to give up such private medical information to the public. Yes, there's an obvious greater good to be had but like any radical movement in history there has to be a handful of of people to start the ball rolling. People who are comfortable stepping out in front of the heard, trusting that the rest will follow.

Today we are wary of Facebook and Google sharing information with advertisers and find tailored ads to be creepy. It may be a while before this great medical research commons that could be will become a reality, but I do believe in it. And what's more is I believe in the push people need to get there. I believe in personal accountability. Before social media it was dealt with by every individual as a private character trait. But now, when people can see what you do and who you are on the "privacy" of your own computer we are suddenly more aware of our actions. Our first reaction is defensive. We feel like it's wrong for advertisers, Facebook, the world to have access to our private lives but really we're just upset that we got caught. I think that this new idea of digital accountability will ultimately lead us to becoming a more open society and hopefully self-correcting. And when we reach that point, we will find ourselves with great tools like Wilbanks's medical commons.

http://www.ted.com/talks/john_wilbanks_let_s_pool_our_medical_data.html

Screening

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My brother and I signed up for a market research company who are concerned with testing foods on the population before release. It was a fun process but I just realized how many potential flaws there are in the company's screening process.

When my brother turned me on to the company he said it was an easy way to make a quick $50 bucks. The appeal was that I could spend an hour or so trying new recipes for good pay. All I had to do was wait for a phone call that would determine whether I was a good candidate. My brother instructed me to answer yes to all of the questions in order to be accepted into each test and thus pocket the cash.

Whenever I received a phone call, I would answer however I thought the researcher wanted me to answer in order to increase my chances of being selected. If they asked me if I liked t.v. dinner I would say I love them. If they asked how often I watch game shows I would say almost every morning. I was lying a lot. Now, studying communication research, I'm more aware of how much I may have been contributing to the sample error. And I wonder how many other people acted the same way, more attracted to the incentive than the livelihood of the research. As I was thinking about this, I wondered how this company could improve their filter. Then I thought that a filter may not be necessary if the company started pulling samples from a larger pool of people that are proven to be interested in the beneficence of whatever product is being tested on them. In other words, why don't market researchers look for samples where they know the populations is tied to the research target.

For instance, check Neilsen ratings to find the key market for game shows, then base your calling list off of that demographic. This is pretty common sense I think and so I was surprised by the company I was involved with and how loose they were by selecting samples from random pools.

Survey Monkey

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I was recently invited, via Facebook, to participate in a peer's research study using Survey Monkey. The study was about students and alcohol and wasn't very long. I remember the invite my friend sent me included the line, "it won't take very long!" Not too long ago I also utilized the services of Survey Monkey in order to gather information for a class. I knew that I could count on the results because I had once been on the participant side.

I think that Survey Monkey provides students with a wonderful method of gathering survey results that are fairly valid and reliable. For one, it's really the participant's choice to fill out the survey or not. Being that it's often a friend asking for help, you're willing to oblige and take the survey seriously. Also, as students, we understand the position the surveyor is in and tend to empathize with their often frantic and or monotonous efforts.

Basically, this is simply a praise of Survey Monkey in the student world where I encounter it most. It's a quick way to get reliable information on the market we both make up and often research, students.

Intuition Is So Vogue

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Anna Wintour, Editor of Vogue magazine, doesn't use research. At least that's what one might gather from her interview with CBS Sunday Morning. In Rupal Parekh's article covering the interview, we get the impression that marketing strategies are not decided upon by a democracy but rather a dictatorship. Editor, Wintour, talks about making decisions based on her gut and recollects previous success with the first Madonna cover. Wintour's strategy seems very Don Draper-esque but what can you expect in such a diva-rich racket?

I get the sense that Wintour is out to make a statement, her mark on the fashion world, and tedious, common market research does anything but make a splash. It can be ignored no matter how successfully it may be utilized. I think that, in any art form, the artist's objective is to stay true to their own belief. If the world doesn't like it then forget 'em. In this sense Wintour has abandoned classical reason and chosen to justify her actions more abstractly on "feelings".

I say, more power to her. If she's any good at understanding and impressing her market, and she is, then let the queen have her reign. I tend to be attracted to Wintour's and Draper's cavalier style of market strategizing. If I knew someone with a marketing "golden touch" so to speak, I'd much rather just trust them and avoid the nuisance of tedious research.

http://adage.com/article/adages/vogue-s-anna-wintour-follow-market-research/231504/

Now That We Know You're Not a Robot...

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Solve Media recently discovered a way to gain intel by creating a new vehicle for gathering research. The company has taken advantage of the need for internet security by utilizing captchas as little data collectors. Captchas are those boxes we see on the internet here and there that ask us to re-type the squiggly characters in the box, proving we're human. Solve Media has simply bought the rights to change the squiggly characters to a question like, "What's the first word you think of when you hear, Mercedes-Benz?" and then interpret the responses.

It's a clever little content analysis technique and it felt like a 'why didn't anyone think of this before?' moment. Who knows if it will provide helpful data. For one thing, people often rush through captchas without a moment's notice though they've never encountered a proactive captcha before. Solve Media may end up with more asjkbfd's than they know what do do with. And even if they do get valid responses and find out that Mercedez-Benz conjures a particular mood, what are they supposed to do what that? It seems to me like the captcha thing is clever and cute but provides less than helpful information. To Solve Media I say, I like the ingenuity but re-direct it toward research that provides results that can carry you somewhere real.

http://adage.com/article/digital/solve-media-launches-brand-research-tool-disguised-a-captcha/235174/

You Are Feeling Very Sleepy...

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When I read about Hal Goldberg and his hypnotic research method I was a bit skeptical. I don't know too much about the practice besides what I see on shows like The Mentalist and an experience I had in high school. That being said, I've gathered that the recipient of hypnosis must be willing for the process to work. At my all-night graduation party, a trained hypnotist invited me and several of my peers onto the stage where I would sit for the next 30 minutes silent, eyes closed, and feeling both very awake and foolish.

However, should hypnosis take proper effect, I can certainly see the attractiveness of the practice and any results from market research studies. Goldberg suggests that his method ultimately filters responses, eliminating common focus group pitfalls such as emotionally guarded respondents, etc. And his screening process via phone and in-person questioning seems to increase the chances of collecting a "cooperative" subject, thus increasing the likelihood of proper hypnosis.

I do wonder, though, whether Goldberg's 50% price increase over more traditional focus group service providers is worth it. After all, the only thing Goldberg promises are more accurate and unskewed responses that may otherwise be compromised by the previously mentioned roadblocks like emotionally guarded subjects. Besides this, whose to say that any number of Goldberg's subjects aren't faking it. All in all, I guess I remain a skeptic. I feel that there is plenty of information to be pulled from cognitive and premeditated responses. Adding an extra factor like hypnosis to the mix just seems like adding more cause for error.

http://adage.com/article/news/marketers-tap-secret-research-weapon-hypnosis/235424/

Immediate Response Research

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When the host of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen, mentioned that the show fired three cast members based on negative twitter traffic I was impressed. The fact that Mr. Cohen relies so heavily on social media outlets as primary sources for research and strategy says something about the show and its audience as well as today's culture in general.

I believe that today's media is about smaller targets and faster turnovers. In other words, Mr. Cohen relied on twitter feeds to dictate his previously mentioned, drastic actions because the "data" he was collecting was blindingly obvious. The people who watch the program freely offer their feelings to the public and Mr. Cohen is more than happy to listen and keep the crowd happy.

All Cohen has to do is oblige his market's demands and it couldn't be a less confusing process. As far as I'm concerned, what the rest of the population thinks really doesn't matter. Trends will come and go and producers will make mistakes but the key is to roll with the punches and let the mistakes get swept away with the constant current of pop culture. A marketer once said, "Its easier to make a smoker more of a smoker than to try and convert a Mormon," and I think that principle holds true here.

As a testament to his technique, the article states that the show's viewership is on the rise and is even attracting a new audience, men. Mr. Cohen is a great example of why niche market focus and social media are becoming today's dynamic marketing duo.

http://adage.com/article/adages/bravo-s-andy-cohen-research-cocaine/235690/

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