DigiEx

digital, agencies, life, and other stuff

Amazon fail: when global email marketing goes bad!

Posted by Lee on September 2, 2009

I used to love Amazon, no really -I just loved them. The ultimate bookshop, the ‘Bookshop at the end of the Rainbow’, Amazon was my online booklover haven.

I’m also a bit of a gadget freak / geek and would love to own a Kindle, the amazing super sleek ebook reader. Amazon is at one level, very clever as a couple of months ago their system sent me an email all about the Kindle. It had links to more details about what is in many ways, the i-pod for books. There were also links to video clips showing the Kindle and their happy owners getting acquainted.

It worked, I wanted one, and I wanted it then. I was excited because I knew that until I received that email, it was only available in the USA. With trembling fingers, I pressed the ‘buy now’ button and………….. damn it, it was still only available to people in the USA!!!

Slightly annoyed, but still interested enough to try and find out when they might be considering rolling out the Kindle to an international audience, I emailed them to find out more.

I got a very prompt reply – but not an intelligent, ‘in context to my specific enquiry’ – no, it was a stupid auto-response that thanked me for my enquiry and then pointed me to a bunch of FAQ links (by the way, they didn’t answer my two key questions).

Maybe I’m not that bright, but since then, whenever I had a few idle moments to spare, I’d go back to the Amazon site and try to find a “Contact us, we’re real people who are really interested in you, our customer’s specific request” button or link. I’ve yet to succeed in this quest.

So why am I writing this post about something that happened a couple of months ago?

Could it be because today I received another email from Amazon? It was sent to me because:

kindle 1 extract

Yes, they got me again – and when I looked online – no, the Kindle still isn’t available to us down in New Zealand!
Ever the optimist, I emailed them because surely this time, as their email was so specific, there’d be somebody waiting to answer all these excited queries? I even tried to use a little bit of sarcastic humour to generate some friendly banter between myself and a friendly customer service rep:

kindle 2 extract

Well, I got my reply, but was it from a friendly customer service rep?
No way, never, nada – but I did receive another email from the friendly but contextually inept Amazon auto-bot that went something like this:

kindle 4 extract

OK, so now I admit defeat, and from now on, every time I’m tempted to order more ‘real’ books from Amazon, I’ll stop and think of all those friendly, helpful store assistants in my local book shops – real people who, if they don’t have a book in stock will order it for me…… probably from Amazon!

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Posted in Advertising, Brand Experience, Internet, Marketing, Sales promotion, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The spotlight grabbing squirrel – yet another “Meme” for our times?

Posted by Lee on August 19, 2009

– or marmot, or was that a gopher?

OK, it’s so ‘last week’ now, but we are all the way down in New Zealand, and I only just noticed it. The following picture first appeared on the National Geographic’s site in the Photo section, and soon after it captured the imagination of the world, taking the blogosphere and global media by storm. <-I can’t believe I just wrote that.

squirrel-portrait-banff-swAccording to Melissa Brandt, this is what happened, “My husband and I were exploring Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park-Canada when we stopped for a timed picture of the two of us. We had our camera set up on some rocks and were getting ready to take the picture when this curious little ground squirrel appeared, became intriqued with the sound of the focusing camera and popped right into our shot! A once in a lifetime moment! We were laughing about this little guy for days!!”

There are numerous arguments and debates popping up as to whether the original pic had been photoshopped or not, and even some very serious discussion on the taxomy of said ‘rodentis’h creature – is it a squirrel or gopher? Boing Boing has some hilarious and heated comments posted under their item on the little rascal.

However, it doesn’t end there. The photo-crashing squirrel is now popping up everywhere…….

squirrel_leaning_tower

For even more of this furry frivolity (and if you really don’t have anything better to to do), check out Buzzfeed where you can see more of the little bugger than you could ever want in a whole lifetime.

So, it looks like the squirrel is this month’s ‘Susan Boyle‘ and wins the global internet sensation, ‘Meme of the Moment’ Award.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns up on it’s own syndicated TV show called “Squirrel’s got Talent” singing a duet with Ms Susan Boyle!

Posted in Blogs, Entertainment, Social media, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trent Reznor 1, Mojo Magazine 0

Posted by Lee on August 17, 2009

Love him or loathe him, Trent Reznor is a genius. Nine Inch Nails has been around for years now, and although too dark and ‘industrial’ for some, his work has always been original and exciting. However, his vision extends well beyond pure music and includes the wider digital realm.
NIN’s Year Zero 2007 concept acted as a beacon of hope for a music industry desperately attempting to keep alive a terminally ill business model.
yearzero_coverYear Zero was a total multi-media experiential project, incorporating an ARG, live events, merchandise and social media – however, the actual CD was a key artifact, a central piece of the expanding phenomenon that was Year Zero.
It was also acknowledged as one of the great marketing campaigns, picking up a Cyber Grand Prix at the 2008 Cannes Advertising Festival – I had the privilege of judging the campaign at that event.
Since then NIN have experimented with different distribution models, allowing fans to download the album The Slip from the NIN Nails website (free of charge), and an EP to coincide with their current tour.

julymojoTrent Reznor’s status as a digital pioneer is already well known and well documented, so why am I writing this post?
Well, I’m a big fan and long-time reader of Mojo, the Music Magazine, as it has well written news, interviews, and reviews – and in the July 09 issue there was brilliant interview with Trent Reznor. The article provided some real insights to an older and wiser Mr Reznor. I was so impressed by the piece that I wanted to ‘tweet’ about it and provide a link to the interview on the Mojo website……..
There was just one small problem – there was no sign of the interview on the Mojo site – there are other interviews on the site, but ironically, of all the musicians Mojo interview, they didn’t choose to upload their interview with one of the music industry’s internet gurus!

To add insult to injury, I emailed Mojo and asked whether they intended uploading the piece to their site so I could link to it. This was their reply:

Out of Office AutoReply: Trent Reznor interview – are you going to put it online?

Hello,
Thank you for your email.
Please note that you have come through to MOJO editorial. The team will only deal with queries specific to the editorial content of the magazine, including competition entries, letters and complaints.
However, if you have an enquiry relating to subscriptions you can call 01858 438 806 and they will do their best to answer your question. Advertising queries should be made to the ads team by calling 020 7295 5000.
Thanks for your support,
MOJO

An auto-response – Gosh, I feel special, thanks Mojo, very ‘social media’ of you!

Posted in Awards, Brand Experience, Entertainment, Experiential Marketing, Internet, Marketing, Sales promotion, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

First, a silly, disgruntled employee on Facebook, next a potential employer

Posted by Lee on August 17, 2009

………. on an online employment site.
Last week, we had the case of the stupid employee and Facebook, but now we have a candidate for the ‘Best, and Most Motivating Job Ad Award’ – and the role is for a ‘Skilled Part-Time Office Administrator’

Originally spotted and tweeted by @MrsLPikon, it has now been highly re-tweeted around NZ in the last couple of days.

logo_seeknz_subpageThis is a genuine advertisement on Seek New Zealand (and just in case the job ad is removed by the time you read this), here are some motivational excerpts from advertisement, written by the MD of the Accounting firm that’s searching for the perfect job applicant:

‘Personality Wise I’m looking for;
Someone who loves details. i.e charging clients the right amount, entering addresses into the database correctly, having the right name on a letter. You want make basic mistakes because you’ll do a quality job.’
Hmmmm…….. ‘you want make basic mistakes’ – a test for an applicant perhaps?


‘Someone who can take a project and just “get it done”. I don’t want to hear about the problems and issues and reasons that come up. I simply want the results agreed upon to be completed on schedule and to spec, no excuses. Let me repeat that point – no excuses. Either something is done or it isn’t, there is no “I tried”, “I’m waiting to hear back from someone”, “I sent them an e-mail…”, or “I don’t think it’s possible.” Either it’s done or it isn’t.’

Aha……. He wants a graduate of the world famous ‘No mistakes, No excuses, No tolerance’ School of Management

‘Someone who always say “Good Morning!” and leaves their personal life at home. When you’re here, you’re here and no matter what happened before you walked in the door you’re “present” when you’re in the office. Upbeat personality is key.’
What this means is ‘Only Happy Robots Need Apply’

A dynamic person who can switch projects and focus with ease, and can easily multi-task between various projects. Things change (including my mind at times!) and this should be both expected and anticipated!
What do you mean, you’re not clairvoyant?!

This guy is extremely precise because he goes on to say:

I am NOT looking for:
– A 9-3 punch card “Hey, I got done what I could today but I gotta jet” kind of person
– Someone who comes in and thinks “Hmmm… what should I do today?” (Hint before you leave you should already know what you’re doing the next day)
– Someone who likes to yap with co-workers while or instead of working
– A deadpan personality

The last 2 comments are a bit of an oxymoron, as he wants a person who doesn’t talk to other staff members, but they must have an outgoing personality.

OK, any takers? Is this the best part-time role you’ve ever seen?
Go on, you know you want to work there really, don’t you?

On a more serious note, and to give the writer of this ad the benefit of the doubt, we are in the middle of a recession, and there are far too many applicants out there for every role – perhaps he has written this as a ‘filter’ so only the keenest candidates will apply. The trouble is, he may only be left with the most desperate ones – not the best criteria by which to employ someone! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Advertising, Consumer Trends, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Internet, Marketing, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

District 9 opens to rave reviews and tops the US box office over the weekend

Posted by Lee on August 17, 2009

district9_film poster

Film critics around the world love it, and so does the US box office.

This weekend, District 9, the pretty much ignored, low budget – by Hollywood standards, sci-fi movie was #1 at the US box office with US$37 million in ticket sales, ahead of GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (US$22.5 million), and The Time Travellers Wife (US$19 million).

I wrote about Peter Jackson and the amazing Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 and earlier short films, at the beginning of May 2009   – and predicted it would be the sleeper sensation of the year. Happily it seems I was right.

District 9 is an amazing social yarn – gritty and gory, but a great story that raises lots of  ‘real world’ questions about our treatment of refugees and minorities, and the role of governments and the UN, amongst others.

What’s really terrific is that the movie has achieved its accolades with virtually no mainstream hype, but good on Sony Pictures – they got the distribution rights to the movie and created a cool, quirky advertising campaign that included street posters, billboards and bus ads, asking people to call a toll-free number to report nonhuman activity. Also, check out the campaign website!

district9_benchdistrict9_overhead

Apparently this resulted in thousands of calls.

Congrats to Neill Blomkamp, Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and the special effects wizards at Weta Workshop for another amazing cinematic experience!

Posted in Advertising, Arts, Entertainment, Marketing, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

User or Customer – the same difference?

Posted by Lee on August 13, 2009

Photo 14We all hate examples of poor customer service, whether before, during or after we’ve made a purchase.
Who can blame us for being intolerant of service failures – I mean, if we pay good money for something, it should work shouldn’t it?

But here’s the thing – what about those services that have become like oxygen for our digital lives?
Twitter, Facebook, Skype, WordPress and any other number of free online tools, communities and services fuel our insatiable thirst to stay connected, and they’re free. Surely as reasonable human beings, we make allowances for service failures from these suppliers, because we don’t even pay to use them?

Wrong – it’s counter intuitive, but we’re so addicted to our minute-by-minute, social networking ‘fix’, we seem less tolerant when these services fail, than when a paid for product or service lets us down.
You don’t agree?
Well, just look at the backlash and outrage after a Twitter failure, or Facebook outages – what about your reaction to the poor quality video call the time you Skyped an overseas friend? Our intolerance goes beyond our reaction to service failure, it extends to our reaction when these providers to attempt to monetise the environments they provide through other means, like advertising – how dare they?

What does all this mean? Have we forgotten that these services are free, or have we moved into a new societal model where ‘users’ have the same expectations as paying customers, and we expect the things we choose to ‘use’ to work as well, if not better than those we buy? Are we all just becoming unreasonable or is it that we believe that the time we invest using these tools is payment enough?

What if Twitter charged everyone with an account, a nominal fee of say, $2.00 per month?
They’d certainly receive a direct income from us allowing them to upgrade and maintain their online service.
We’d also be legitimate customers, so would that make us even more demanding and intolerant, or would we all just leave in droves and find a new free thing?

Posted in Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Social media, Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Social Media For Dummies, or think before you act!

Posted by Lee on August 10, 2009

facebook follyI’ve just been emailed this Facebook item, and by now it’s probably bouncing around all corners of our networked world.

Is it genuine? Who knows, but either way it’s another timely reminder to those people who seem to use their social media accounts as a broadcast ‘Dear Diary’.

Firstly, employment agencies and potential employers now routinely search online to find out more about a prospective employee – they can gain some great insights from various social media streams into the person behind his or her glowing CV.

Next, once you’ve acquired ‘friends’, at least make sure you’re aware of the potential consequences of your actions if you say something negative about them in your ‘stream of consciousness’, especially if those ‘friends’ you’ve accepted into your social networking life also happen to be your your boss or superiors.

Thirdly – even if those you insult are not signed up as your friends and you think you’re telling others behind their back, remember that things can have a funny way of getting back to those you don’t want to know – especially with so many readily available ‘cut & paste’ tools around.

Finally, use some common sense, and if you aren’t willing to say something to someone’s face – don’t say it online, well at least not if your name and account clearly identifies you. That applies equally to divulging that you’re a stoner, regularly drink and drive, covet somebody else’s partner, or have questionable exotic sexual preferences etc.

We may live in a world where we like to think our privacy is protected, but all of that stands for nothing if you choose to advertise all your innermost needs, wants, desires and other secrets to the wwworld!

For what it’s worth, in this example, I thought her boss was very clear in his reply, and showed remarkable restraint 🙂

Posted in Blogs, Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Education, Entertainment, Internet, Social media, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Digital Media Awards, Asia 2009

Posted by Lee on August 9, 2009

DMA_logoI’m honored to have been asked to judge at this year’s Digital Media Awards Asia. Now in their third year, the Awards celebrate the best Asia’s digital marketing industry has to offer. The digital sector is weathering the current economic storm better than most, and across Asia the online sector goes from strength to strength in terms of infrastructure, creativity and effectiveness.

The panel of judges include leaders from some of the world’s hottest agencies, biggest online brands, media owners, industry suppliers and clients. I’m looking forward to some quality debate and discussion.
The Awards Ceremony takes place in Bejiing, China on the 16th November 2009.

Posted in Advertising, Agency life, Awards, Education, Marketing, Technology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Laid off – the end of days, or a massive opportunity?

Posted by Lee on August 9, 2009

This is the greatest recession in most of our working population’s living memory –  and the casualties are mounting. Globally, unemployment continues to rise, and even for those of us safe (for now), it may seem like the ‘End of Days’.

However, we humans are adaptive creatures,adjusting to change pretty well – in no time at all, there’s no stigma attached to being laid off – other than the impotent embarrassment and sympathy oozing out of your family and friend’s pores when they meet you.

A good friend of mine, Simon, is a self-made, independently wealthy businessman. As my lovely wife has recently joined the ranks of the unemployed, we were talking together the other day and Simon made the point that the best time to start a new business or follow your dream is when you’ve lost your job.

Easy for him to say, I hear you cry, but his rationale is that many people are trapped in jobs they are not passionate about, but the income provides the financial buffer they need to pay for their ‘over-compensating life styles’. From time to time, they may daydream of doing what really pushes their hot buttons but won’t make the leap because it’s too scary to voluntarily give up a good income and lifestyle.
However, when laid off and facing the prospect of zero income – motivated people can prove to be extremely creative and resourceful – plus a business start-up that produces a positive net income of any description is better than nothing at all, and before long the adaptive person stops making comparisons with their high salaried life, and instead sees the improvement from their ‘no income’ period.

OK, enough waffle, what’s the real point of this post?

Well, I came across ‘Please Feed The Animals‘, a blog for the recently unemployed advertising professional – set up by a smart guy, Erik Proulx – an ECD / Copwriter who has, in his words “discovered the power of unemployment”. In his blog was a trailer for a new movie project called Lemonade. It’s about how recently laid off advertising creatives have coped, and are even thriving in new ways by following their own dreams. It looks like it’ll be an inspirational documentary film.

As for my wife? Well, she’s just embarking on a course of study to follow her own dream – hopefully supplemented with secondary sources of income.

Posted in Advertising, Agency life, Arts, Blogs, Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Experiential Marketing – shaping the future of global brands?

Posted by Lee on August 8, 2009

HSTLast year I was delighted to be asked by Henry Stewart Talks* and Max Lenderman to contribute to an online seminar series entitled
“Latest Thinking in Experiential Marketing – shaping the future of global brands”.
I contributed one of the seven talks in the series, alongside six leaders in Experiential Marketing from the USA and Canada. The other contributors were:
Max Lenderman, ECD of GMR Marketing, Canada (Max was also the Series Editor);
David Polinchok, Founder of Brand Experience Lab, USA;
Sean MacPhedran, Director of Creative Strategy, Fuel Industries, USA;
Tony Chapman, Founder Capital C, Canada;
Drew Neisser, CEO, Renegade, USA;
Jonathan Singer, President, JSEM, Canada.
Henry Stewart Talks have recently released the Experiential Marketing series onto their site. This and 25 other terrific Marketing and Management related series are available for download by subscription, however you can preview each talk on the site before committing to buy.

*Henry Stewart Talks publish commissioned audio-visual presentations by world leading experts – Subject areas include biomedicine, life sciences, advertising, management, marketing, finance and transnational crime. Subscribers include a wide range of universities, medical schools, colleges, manufacturers, government agencies and service companies throughout the world.

Posted in Brand Experience, Education, Experiential Marketing, Marketing, Web tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »