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Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

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!

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

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 »

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 »

A ‘sign’ of the times? Enterprising brothel advertising

Posted by Lee on July 29, 2009

My good mate Hemi, the owner of Wakefield Hotel, a cool clothing and footwear shop in Cuba Street, Wellington NZ takes his camera everywhere with him for business and culture inspiration.

brothel_ads_for our timesLast week he spotted this just around the corner from his own store.

Yes, it’s for real – and a sign of the times maybe?

You just have to admire the operators of this ‘Gentleman’s Club’, don’t you? We’re all living in a retail hard sell “Sale, Sale, Sale” economy now – at least they weren’t advertising an “All you can eat” offer!

For those of you who may be interested in investigating this ‘Sale’ a little further, check out Il Bordello

For the rest of you who want to check out the best range of sneakers and urban threads in Wellington, go and see Hemi at Wakefield Hotel on Cuba!

Posted in Advertising, Brand Experience, Consumer Trends, Economy, Entertainment, Marketing, Sales promotion | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Twitter in business – walking the line between following and stalking.

Posted by Lee on July 9, 2009

GaryTaxaliFun-thumb-300x362-5338

Let’s face it; anyone worth their salt in the marketing communications industry (agency side) will monitor the social media activity generated by, or around their clients or business prospects.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We do it all the time for our clients as it can help to provide a ‘finger on the pulse’ view of what people are saying about them, and an opportunity to sort out any customer service issues, real or perceived.
However, this afternoon I witnessed a something quite strange, and it made me a little uncomfortable.

An agency was trying to get attention of  @prospect via twitter.
Various members of said agency had got onto twitter and sent a series of tweets to a potential new business prospect in the telco category.
The tweets amounted to a tweet-by-tweet sales pitch handed on from one @agencyperson to the next, all sent to the @prospect in a continuous burst.

So why did the agency use this approach? Good question.
I guess they thought it was original.
I guess they thought that it would demonstrate that they knew how to use twitter, and it would impress @prospect.
Maybe it was just cheaper than picking up the phone?
It wasn’t exactly confidential as anyone monitoring @prospect’s twitter account could watch the approach unfold.
It also meant that @prospect could look at the agency tweeps profiles and see how ‘twitteractive’ @agency really are.
Would an approach such as this really impress @prospect?
I don’t know – it may be flattering I guess, however it could just as easily be viewed as a bit creepy and borderline.

A smart tactic?  Maybe. Clever? Personally, I don’t think so.
I acknowledge that these tweets weren’t direct messages, and some might feel that it just constitutes another form of public advertising.  However as most businesses set their their company name  as a search feed to monitor and respond to customer issues, it was inevitable that the @agency tweets were going to clog up @prospect’s feed.  If this approach had been used to target a specific consumer, what are the potential privacy implications?
How would a potential business client feel about receiving a ‘concentrated blast’ of emails or phone calls from various members of a hopeful sales company? Probably pissed off and a bit violated – and we know that no reputable business would sanction their employees using such behaviour.
I guess what makes me uncomfortable in this digital era, is that it’s such a fine line between targeted marketing communications tactics, and ‘stalking / spamming’ a prospect.
When are we crossing that line?

Note: the picure in this blog entry is entitled ‘Fun’ by the brilliant illustrator / artist, Gary Taxali.

Posted in Advertising, Agency life, Cogitating, Internet, Marketing, Sales promotion, Social media, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The power of tribes Vs the mass market

Posted by Lee on June 25, 2009

A few months old now, but Seth Godin‘s terrific video presentation from Ted Talks explains how the power of tribes and the Internet change everything we know about advertising, media and “one to many” communications.

The Genie is out of the bottle and it’s too late to try and put it back again.

Embrace change, form or join a movement, or die!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted in Advertising, Brand Experience, Consumer Trends, Economy, Education, Internet, Marketing, Social media, Society, Technology, Web tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time to look for a new agency?

Posted by Lee on April 24, 2009

anger-marUK’s Revolution magazine focuses on digital marketers and agencies, have published a light hearted but telling survey for companies who may be thinking about the depth of the relationship they have with their own agency.

Although the ‘test’ is written for marketers and it is about digital agencies, it is a great thought starter that can be applied to any client and agency discipline.

So go on, take the test here –  because in the current economic climate, it may help to reassure you that your relationship is ok, or confirm that it is time to start divorce proceedings.

Posted in Advertising, Agency life, Economy, Marketing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

CAANZ Media Awards Judging

Posted by Lee on April 1, 2009

Yesterday I spent the afternoon judging entries for the upcoming  CAANZ (Communication Agencies Association of NZ) Media Awards.

I was one of the judges of the finalists in the ‘Integrated Media Campaigns’ category, and it was a tough assignment.

What I found really encouraging was the high standard of all the finalists, across a multitude of categories, but especially those entries from FMCG integrated media campaigns – traditionally, a terribly ‘unsexy’ category.

Can’t say any more other than although we are a small country, the entries I saw showed that NZ continues to punch above it’s wait in marketing comms strategy.

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