Archive | June 2012

Kids Outsmart Smokers in Crafty Guerrilla Stunt

The famous Ogilvy advertising agency has struck gold in the agency’s latest viral video. This time, the popular video was produced by Ogilvy Thailand. The anti-smoking PSA is for the Thai Health Promotion Board, recorded more than 960,000 views before being removed from YouTube for an unknown reason (hundred of thousands more have watched the duplicates). You have to watch the video or read the description to truly understand how brilliant this campaign is!

With all of the anti-smoking campaigns taking place in the U.S. I think this campaign by Ogilvy was 100% on the mark. Not only did it reach mass amount of people, both smokers and non-smokers, but it triggered different emotions in each audience member. Ogilvy was also successful with the campaign because it was relatively cheap to produce. 

Adweek’s Rebecca Cullers says, “It’s being praised as one of the most effective anti-smoking ads ever, which is especially impressive considering it required little more than a few pieces of paper and two kids.” Success for both the client and agency without spending millions of dollars is the ideal situation for any advertising agency. 

I’m curious if the video would work in the U.S. because it seems that Americans are so desensitized to any form of advertising. I also want to know if the video would legally be allowed to be filmed and aired in the United States. With all the laws and regulations on advertising and agencies, it would be interesting to see the Ogilvy agency do a similar campaign in America. I really believe that the use of innocent children teaching adults would catch the audience member’s attention, no matter how desensitized they are.

What is your opinion on viral video, and do you think this campaign would work in the United States?




Do Mac Users Spend More on Travel Than PC Users?,r:16,s:138,i:231Just how much can your browsing data say about your consumption patterns?

Well, travel site Orbitz found that Apple users spend, on average, $20 to $30 more per night on hotels than their PC counterparts, leading Orbitz to show different travel options for different users, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Orbitz also found that Mac users are 40% more likely to book a four-or-five-star hotel than PC users, and when Mac and PC users book the same hotel, Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms (WSJ)

Orbitz is using what is called “predictive analytics,” an effort that is intended to predict future shopping habits of customers based on his or her online usage data in order to increase revenues–and it’s likely that we will see more of this.

This finding has sparked a considerable amount of debate over the course of today. To clear things up, Orbitz consulted its Facebook page:

  • “Seems to be lots of confusion and misunderstanding about this WSJ story. A misleading headline and the selective placement of the WSJ paywall cuts off the story and leads people to jump to conclusions. If you carefully read the WSJ, it never says Orbitz charges Mac users more. Because we do not… We make recommendations about hotels along a number of variables, i.e., traveling with or without children. Our recommendation module has extremely high levels of consumer engagement, indicating that it’s a feature that our users really appreciate…”

Orbitz is only suggesting higher-priced hotels. The site still gives users the option of “sort price by,” but despite Orbitz’s intentions, this has internet users in turmoil.

So how did Facebook users respond?

  • “Although, I’ll be honest it does seem a little deceptive…the first thing I do on your site is sort by price anyway….and I’m sure most people do.”
  • “ALL customers should get the SAME options!!! Let the customer decide!!”
  • “Nearly every website you use to search for something personalizes the results in some way based on details of your past history, location, computer, browser, etc. This is nothing new, nor is it exclusive to Orbitz. The personalization is based on data from what Mac users ultimately choose to book on Orbitz. The misleading headlines are unfortunate.”

WSJ reported, “Orbitz said the effort to incorporate Mac vs. PC distinctions is still in its formative stages and isn’t evident across the site. Other factors have more influence over results, including a user’s location and history on the site, as well as a hotel’s overall popularity and promotions. Still, use of a Mac can influence results.”

So, is it deceptive to advertise “the lowest prices guaranteed?” or is this smart business?

(On a side note, we took it upon ourselves to test this, but the same results came up on both a Mac and PC…)

Top Executive out at J.C. Penney

Why would the recently appointed President of J.C. Penney step down effective immediately? Because his time with the company was an all around epic failure. Michael Francis was lured away from Target after 21 years to help build and reposition J.C. Penney (the United States third-largest chain-department store).

Francis failed to listen to what the brand-loyal JCP consumers wanted, by changing the pricing of the store’s merchandise. He wanted to get rid of on discounts and coupons in order to set lower, predictable daily prices. CBS News states, “J.C. Penney has hired a number of big-name executives to help transform everything about the retailer, from the brands it carries to the store experience. The riskiest move was the elimination of hundreds of sales events in favor of more predictable low prices, but shoppers have not embraced the change.”

In addition, the company tried to have lower prices on the first and third Friday of every month while also having confusing price signs that consumers found extremely misleading. The entire marketing strategy, that Francis thought would help revamp the company actually led to a 6% drop in the stock market. 

Not only was Francis responsible for blowing money on television ads featuring Ellen DeGeneres, but CBS News reports that “Francis was responsible for merchandising, marketing and product development, and was behind a monthly magazine that highlighted key items. The monthly issues resembled the cheap chic look from Target.”

The downfall of J.C. Penney was further taken to a new low when the company released that it had paid $10 million to Francis who lasted a dismal eight months as President. 

Do you think J.C. Penney can rebuild its image and get back to department-store super status?

Could Advertising Bring World Peace?

During his speech in Cannes, France, Former president, Bill Clinton, gave inspiring advice to advertising and communications professionals to use their gift of persuasion and creativity to influence the world to help solve its most critical problems.

According to Adweek , Clinton believes that privileged nations and classes should use their intelligence and resources to bend the world in a positive direction.

Think about how powerful most advertising messages are, and the influence they have on consumers. Advertising and communications professionals have the power to shape people’s beliefs into virtually whatever they want.

Clinton believes that by combining our thoughts and insights and creating powerful messages, we can come up with remarkable solutions to the world’s most crucial economic, social, and environmental problems.

Let’s look at Chrysler and its “Halftime in America” Super Bowl spot.

Regardless of how you may have interpreted the ad—it was intended to have a positive meaning. It exemplifies the struggles that the auto industry faces as well as the country as a whole.

The 2-minute spot included the quote, “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines.”

Powerful statements like that are what Clinton is talking about.  Obviously, Chrysler’s ultimate goal was to sell more cars, increase brand awareness and create a positive brand image—and they did so, all while trying to bring Americans together.

An article from The Wall Street Journal Online stated, “Zeta Interactive, a New York-based marketing firm that mines 200 million different blogs and social media sites, said the buzz around Chrysler’s ad has been 83% positive. Collective Intellect, a tracking firm in Boulder, Colorado, said its research shows that since the spot aired, consumers’ affinity and favor of the Chrysler brand has increased.”

These provocative and issue-oriented ads can make a difference, promoting a cause while simultaneously selling goods and services.

Clinton stated, as quoted from Adweek, “I want to leave this earth knowing that my daughter and the grandchildren I hope to have will live in a world where our common humanity matters more than our interesting differences. … And I can’t think of any other group of people more likely to make it happen than you.”

Wouldn’t we all like to live in that world? There are plenty of world issues that need to be addressed. Let’s choose one and start making a difference!

How do you describe your agency?

How do you say what you really want to say when you don’t want to use many words but want each one to be really meaningful?

Not like that.

In an advertising and/or public relations firm, you know that you must choose your words carefully. Words hold great weight in this business and you are expected to be the expert.


So what few words do you use to describe your agency? What do others hear or see about who you are?

The words you use to describe your agency matter. Here at McKinney-Cerne we use words like “one agency,” “proactive,” “branding experts,” “strategic counsel,” “achieving measureable results,” and more on our website and in our promotional materials.

Take a look at the words a couple other agencies use:

  • Fleishman-Hillard uses words like “digital,” “integrated,” “seamless network” and “real-world results.”
  • On Dentsu’s website, you’ll find words like “innovation” and “active.”
  • Leo Burnett claims to have the purpose “to be the world’s best creator of ideas that truly move people…bar none.” (Plus, it’s all in CAPS).

Do these words really capture all that these agencies have to offer, or could they have chosen better?

Do you spend more time trying to come up with descriptive words and catchy taglines for your clients that you forget about your own agency and your personal branding?

Idea updated and expanded upon from Michael Gass’ blog post in 2009 on Words

Can King James Ever Live Up To Jordan’s Legacy?

I came across a collection of posts debating about whether LeBron James could ever surpass Michael Jordan in terms of his marketing strength. Being from Cleveland, I must set aside any personal bias I might have and look at it from a marketing standpoint.

LeBron does have potential to grow in marketing value, especially if he takes home a ring, but, I believe, given Jordan’s indisputable popularity, LeBron would need to do more to live up to Jordan’s legacy.

Jordan set the stage for NBA stars and their marketing potential, and even years after his basketball career ended, he continues to bring in millions of dollars in endorsements every year (nearly $60 million according to the Chicagoist—which is more than what he made playing). Some endorsements include ownership of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, Hanes, Gatorade, and Upper Deck.  The Chicagoist also stated, as of 2011, Nike’s Jordan Brand shoes held 71% of the US basketball shoe market.

An interesting fact from Madame Noire shows the difference in likeability between Jordan and LeBron—something that may not be gained by winning a ring.  Jordan has 93% likeability by the public, with LeBron James sinking in at 51%.

Which brings me to my point—LeBron needs to do a lot more to gain the respect and likeability of the public in order to make a significant climb to Jordan’s status.

Keith Turco wrote at Forbes, “in order for LeBron (or anyone else … um, Kobe maybe?) to impact the marketing world and the economy the way Jordan did, he needs to deliver a first.” Unfortunately, for LeBron, “Jordan has a first in almost every category before his name when it comes to economic impact and endorsements.”

Career wise, LeBron does have some “firsts” worth noting (excuse me if I miss any): Forbes:

  1. He was the youngest player to win MVP honors
  2. He was the youngest player to win rookie of the year
  3. He took the Cleveland Cavs to the NBA Finals for the first time in its history

Despite his unpopularity among Cleveland fans, it is possible for LeBron to rise up, but it will take years and many rings to outshine Jordan in terms of marketing influence.

This debate can go several different routes—but, let’s put it on hold until the playoffs are over!


If LeBron wins his ring this year, how do you think it will affect his marketing value?

The Two Hardest Words To Say In Your Office… “I’m Sorry”

Move over supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, you are no longer the hardest words to say (at least in an office setting). “I’m sorry” is now considered the toughest words to say in your office. Is it possible that the words “I’m sorry” are so simple, they’re difficult?

The words can do much more than resolve a problem in the workplace, they can show that you think logically, that you have compassion and respect for others, and that you are a mature adult/ employee.

Columnist Michael Feuer writes, “To promote coexistence when no one wants to take the first step and say, “I’m sorry,” it’s up to the adult in the room — and that would be you, the boss — to step into the fray with your whistle to call a permanent timeout to these types of disruptive shenanigans.”

The boss is responsible to step in when men and women, or should we say boys and girls, let stubbornness become problematic. Feuer also notes that women are just as responsible for the lack of “I’m sorries” as men, so we can throw out the “macho” claim.

Feuer says, “The most expeditious method that works with either the protagonist or antagonist in an office drama is to call a spade a spade, so to speak, and get the feuding parties together and cut to the chase, making each person agree to bury the hatchet but preferably not in each other’s skull. If employees’ anger management issues are left to fester, they can easily result in other people in the same work environment taking sides, and in short order, you will find yourself in the midst of a Civil War. The only thing guaranteed when this occurs is that there will be casualties. It is incumbent on the ruling manager to make sure that the company doesn’t wind up as the victim, incurring a loss of productivity and causing everyone around the two factions to feel as if they’re walking on pins and needles.”

This is the utmost important thing for any person in a management role to understand, because the meeting will almost always end with the problem solved (or at least better than before the meeting). So now is the time to realize that you need to apologize for the sake of yourself and your co-workers, otherwise you will have one of those awkward, time-wasting interventions with your boss as the moderator. Don’t be viewed as the office “problem child,” but as a mature adult who doesn’t need his hand held to solve internal problems.

Do you have any examples of when “I’m Sorry” is too difficult to say in an office environment?