Tuesday, May 31

Senior Prom - A Right of Passage

My daughter's high school Senior Prom was this past weekend. To say it's been months of preparation is the under statement of the year. First the dress, then the shoes, and of course the purse, flowers, limo -- plus all the photos at home pre-prom.

I think it's fair to say that the Prom is a mini-market economy of its own!

The best part?  We all went to the school to take pictures and to send them off - hundred of parents and their "kids".  As I watched all these girls I've known for years now hug and take pictures and marvel over each others' dresses, it occurred to me that I was witnessing a true life moment.  Truly.

Senior Prom is a Right of Passage into being an adult.

We were not there just to take pictures of pretty dresses layered with sequins, we were there to watch them jump into adulthood. It's just two weeks to Graduation and it's time we acknowledge that they are not kids anymore. They're adults.

Off with their dates celebrating the close of their high school years. Celebrating that they made it through their childhood and they've become adults. High heel shoes and all. Making big decisions, hopefully good decisions, that will affect the rest of their lives.

This weekend I said goodbye to my little girl and hello to the young adult woman she has become. All at the Senior Prom.  I guess it was a Right of Passage for me too.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, May 27

Triscuit's Home Farming Movement

With "sustainability","local", and "staying home" all the rage these days, it's interesting to see some of the main stream brands join in hot pop culture trends.  Even a cracker brand like Triscuit.

The brand Triscuit is running a very interesting promotion, actually a "movement", to encourage us all to do a little home farming ... you know, grow things in dirt at home!

Complete with helpful plans, a way to track progress, and a community to share with, Triscuit is giving us everything we need to start growing herbs and vegetables in our backyards, patios, or window sills ... even free seeds on the back of the box.

I particularly liked the free seeds promotion because the seeds are embedded right on the back of the box.  A page right out of breakfast cereal marketing where that category practically invented in-box promotion offers and back panel packaging content.

It's a very well thought out "movement" that includes multiple touchpoints including the packaging, social media, video, promotion, education, and a viral component to encourage sharing.  Classic package goods marketing with a contemporary spin of social media aligned with a pop culture trend of staying local.  There's a lot to like here!

It's all right on Facebook.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Thursday, May 26

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" Ends

This week we saw the end of "The Oprah Winfrey Show", at least as we know it.  We certainly have not seen the last of Oprah, she herself did not say "goodbye" but instead said "until we meet again."

This is exciting!  Oprah leaves her show on top!  25 years, over 4,600 episodes, and still on top.  With an exciting chapter coming up next with OWN which launched earlier this year.  Good for her.

I did not see the two "surprise" shows this Monday and Tuesday, but I heard that they were spectacular.  As well they should be.  Two days of fun filled entertainment surprises as well as a huge focus on education.

Target created 25 school libraries on her behalf and also planted 25,000 oak trees with benches so that future generations can sit and read and reflect.

Evidently the biggest moment was when men from Moorhead College, where Oprah offers scholarships, can marching in holding candles to symbolize how their lives (and the lives of their families) have changed.  She pretty much lost it, as did the audience.

I was a little disappointed with the very last show - it was a little preachy for me (I was tweeting live during it).  But I won't go there -- there's no easy way to end a show of this magnitude.  At least Sadie (her dog) got a last cameo.

Onward and upward.  As Oprah says, time to take on the next challenge and continue to help people.  Good for you, Oprah.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Wednesday, May 25

The Doc Club

There's a new show on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) that I happened to catch the other day, and I'm hooked.

The Doc Club.

The mission is very cool:  Oprah wants to do for documentaries what her book club did for books.  Give them exposure.

Shot in the format of "Inside The Actor's Studio" and hosted by Rosie O'Donnell, the show features the stars and producers of new documentaries, one at a time.  This episode showcased the new film about Chaz Bono and his transgender process. Chaz was there, the creators and producers, even his girlfriend.

This show truly does fill an unmet need:  I love documentaries but I rarely have the opportunity to watch them.  You have to hunt them out, look for them, go out of the way to see them generally.  The Doc Club puts them front and center, with all meaning and strategy put in front of us too.

I really liked the show, and am looking forward to the next one.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Tuesday, May 24

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

There's a new film out from the makers of "Super Size Me" about marketing.  It's called "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" and it's all about the world of securing product placements in entertainment.

Sponsored by Pom. :)

I honestly have not had the chance to see it yet, but am making every attempt this holiday weekend.  But it looks fascinating, to say the least.  "Super Size Me" was so intriguing that I doubt it has the muster of that film, but for us marketers it should be interesting.

Product placements are an entire world unto themselves.  Really successful placements are those that are completely natural, yet still noticeable to the audience.  The key is -- are they convincing enough to change behavior?  Certainly works in fashion, but what about in other categories.

I'm looking forward to watching this man's journey as he works to secure product placements for this very film.

Have you seen the movie yet?  What's your experience?  Jim.

Monday, May 23

RIP The Typewriter

Smith Corona.  Now there's a name that will date you.  Royal, Brother ... oh boy.

The typewriter.  Just the thought of it gives me the shakes from memories of term papers in college.  Writing on the typewriter and making mistakes and having to go back over with white out.  It was enough to make me crazy.

Ahhh, the memories.

Seems they really are just memories now since the last standing typewriter plant is closing its doors in India.  I was at an agency last week and they had an old model sitting under glass like a museum piece.  Guess that's what they really are, right?

I thought they were long ago dead, but it seems that in India and the Middle East they were still thriving.  Until now.  Thanks to the laptop and tablets.

The typewriter, gone by the wayside.  RIP.  What will be next, the fax machine?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Saturday, May 21

Oprah's Last Show

It's the television moment, daytime anyway, of the century. Where will you be watching Oprah's last show on May 25th (also the 25th Anniversary of the show)?

Me? I'll be watching and tweeting live at #OprahExp. So if you believe in following pop culture and you're on Twitter, then join me live on May 25th at 4:00EST. Get in the commentary.

Besides, Twitter events are just plain fun!

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, May 19

No Judgement Lipstick

One of the signs of a really good brand, aside from incredible sales, is consistency.  Staying true to self with every move.

Whether you're a fan or not, you gotta give props to Lady Gaga for being a consistent brand.  I talk about her a lot, because I truly believe that she is one powerful brand.  A brand with a mission, a specific target audience that crosses demographic groups, an effective media plan grounded in social marketing, and an entire stream of products ... some music based and some not.

Her latest collaboration with MAC cosmetics is yet another example of her consistency.  She created a new lipstick with proceeds going to AIDS research.  This is a program that MAC has run for several years now,  in fact last year Lady Gaga did it with Cindy Lauper.

For this year, the color she chose?  Beige.  Why?  It's a no judgement lipstick because it looks good on any skin color.  It doesn't judge and it doesn't discriminate -- looks good on everyone.  Brilliant positioning.

Inclusion and individuality are concepts that drive her music and many of her actions ... and now her lipstick choice as well.  Sign of a great brand.

Bravo!  What's your experience?  Jim

Wednesday, May 18

Integrated Marketing Is Redundant

Integrated Marketing -- it's one of those phrases that makes me smile every time I hear someone say it.

Sure, it's been the buzz word du jour for awhile now, but I have to ask ... when was marketing not integrated?

Growing up on the client side at Johnson & Johnson I guess I was trained early on that there's only one brand.  One brand, one voice.  So I've never thought of marketing in silo's.

Marketing is integrated, that's why it's marketing.  So of course your PR firm is going to give you big branding ideas, and your digital agency should give you promotion ideas, and your advertising agency should be doing more than just positioning work.  We should all be working together to engage the consumer.

Integrated Marketing -- it's a redundant, sort of like:
- totally destroyed
- advanced warning
- ATM machine
- close proximity
- difficult dilemma
- end result

And my personal favorite --- deja vu, all over again!

What's your experience?  Jim.

PS -- It's a pop culture moment, so join in for live tweets during Oprah's last show on May 25th at 4:00pm EST at #OprahExp

Tuesday, May 17

American Express Social Currency

I've been speaking a lot lately about how social media can transform a brand.  Either give it a voice for the first time, give it thought leadership status, or give its brand essence real meaning.

I love what American Express is doing.  The brand's Membership Rewards program has been around probably almost as long as Frequent Flyer Miles.  I personally have participated in the program year after year after year -- in fact I have about 100,000 points racked up again to be "spent."

In a truly integrated fashion, American Express is now re-inventing how we interact with the Membership Rewards program through social media.

Re-dubbed Social Currency, American Express is encouraging card members to share how they use their points by posting their stories on social media.  It's a unique way to encourage people to earn points by showing inspirational stories of how other people have bought merchandise or had cool experiences.

I even sent in a tweet about how I used my points to send my family to Hawaii to celebrate my son's 10th birthday!

There's also an American Express Social Currency app fueled by foursquare that allows users to check in to retail locations and tag the items they would like to purchase (or have already purchased) -- and then share that with friends.  I guess the idea is that if you save up enough points, you can buy the item using Social Currency.

The brand is staying fresh by using social media to re-tool an existing brand asset and then integrating social media throughout their marketing plan including television advertising, website, digital marketing, and even retail.

Using social media to transform a brand.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Monday, May 16

Social Conferencing

Last week I went to two industry conferences (OTC Perspectives and PRSA Counselors Academy) and an awards show (Sabre Awards) -- it was a big networking week.  My friend Mike Brown from Brainzooming, who I met at the AMA conference last year, opened my eyes to how much conferences have changed since social media came into the picture.

Well the conferences haven't changed much at all, actually, but the way we network and share at them certainly has.  Now it's all about "social conferencing".

I "know" so many more people now going into these events.  It's not that I really know them, but since I'm following them on Twitter I feel like I know them.  So when we do meet in person, it's like we already have a common bond and a reason to strike up a dialogue.

And in the old days when we would say "let's stay in touch", it rarely happened.  We'd all get back to our offices and get caught up in deadlines and never reach out again.  Now, our Twitter stream keeps us together and keeps us connected.  It's wonderful.

It's funny too when speaking at these conferences, when I look into the audience, so many people are on their smart phones and iPads.  At first it appears rude, but then I realize that they are tweeting my discussion -- word for word!  And I've been doing the same when I'm in the audience.  Sharing what we hear with the rest of the attendees via a Twitter hashtag (which then goes to all of our followers too).  Social conferencing allows people who can't make it to the conference to see all the action via Twitter -- how awesome is that!

Perhaps the biggest change I've seen, though, is our willingness to share.  I think in some ways our competitive spirit used to prevent us from sharing too much information.  Now in the age of social sharing, we all seem so much more willing to discuss what we are going through and to share solutions that we have seen work.  From an industry standpoint it's very productive as we all look to advance our craft.

Social media has made going to these conferences so much more meaningful -- I've got the Twitter feed to prove it!

What's your experience?  Jim.