Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What to Watch on New Year's Eve

Have any big plans for New Year's Eve? You better have plans soon, the clock is ticking. Whether you are out partying in a bar or city streets, or have a gathering of friends and family at home, I hope you have a great New Year's holiday.

For those in the Cleveland area, here is an incomplete list of some NYE parties going on around town.

For those gathering at homes to ring in the New Year, there is always one small debate among party members: What television show do you choose to help you countdown to midnight. Allow me to give you a small guide to your viewing options:

NBC: New Year's Eve with Carson Daly (10-11PM; 11:30-12:30AM) Yes, Carson Daly is still on the network, usually at 2 in the morning I think. For this NYE celebration from Times Square Daly features musical performances by T.I., Katy Perry, Elton John, and Ludacris among others. The special will also air on the network's cable outlets MSNBC and CNBC.

CBS: Late Show with David Letterman (11:30-12:30AM) CBS is the only major network without a NYE special, instead counter-programming with a NYE edition of Late Show. Letterman's guests include actress Emma Thompson, fox attack survivor Michelle Felicetta, and music from Purple Reign.

ABC: Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest (10-11PM; 11:30-12:30AM) Ever since Clark suffered a stroke a few years back he has passed on the majority of his NYE hosting duties to protege Seacrest. Clark is still around making the occasional appearance, however. This year brings American Idol has-been Kellie Pickler reporting on events in and around Times Square and musical performances from across the country by Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, Will.I.Am, the Pussycat Dolls, the Jonas Brothers, Ne-Yo, Jesse McCartney, Natasha Bedingfield, Fall Out Boy, Solange, and Robin Thicke.

FOX: New Year's Eve Live (11-12:30AM) Fox's only late night host, Spike Feresten, along with Mark Thompson close out 2008 with a mix of music and hyped-up stunts. In addition to performances by David Cook, Daughtry, Scott Weiland, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, daredevil Robbie Knievel attempts a 200-foot jump of some kind.

PBS: Live from Lincoln Center: New York Philharmonic New Year's Eve Gala Concert (Times vary) For those who toast with a bottle of Dom and caviar, an educational evening as Lorin Maazel conducts the New York Philharmonic with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham. How divine!

If network TV isn't your thing, here are some of your choices on cable:

ESPN: New Year, No Limits (11-12:30AM) ESPN does NYE from Las Vegas while talking about Bowl games, NFL playoffs, a look at sports in 2008, and special guests.

CNN: Anderson Cooper 360 (10-12:30AM) The Coop and D-list celebrity Kathy Griffin from Times Square.
MTV: FNMTV Presents: A Miley-Sized Surprise... New Year's Eve 2009 (10:30-12:30AM) I'm not sure who will be on this show, but I'm guessing Miley Cyrus and lots of screaming kids will be present.

TLC: Dateline: Real-life Mysteries Marathon (All Night)

Food: The Next Food Network Star Marathon (All Night)

SciFi: Twilight Zone Marathon (All Night)

Disney: Totally New Year's Eve (All Night)

Nick: The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (9-12AM)

Comedy: South Park Marathon (All Night)

Spike: CSI Marathon (All Night)

What fun things do you have planned for NYE?
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Special of the Weekend - "ALF's Special Christmas"

A vintage Christmas classic from 1987. Love the laugh track. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Special of the Day - "X-Mas Story"

To put you in the Christmas mood. Enjoy!:

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Addressing the Needs of the Audience on Facebook

Over the weekend the New York Times posted an article addressing the problems some brands have had seeing results from Facebook advertising efforts. The article cites efforts by Procter & Gamble as an example of campaigns that may generate a little buzz at their initial launch but quickly fade out and never lead to an increase in sales.

The folks at P&G seem dumbfounded by this. They spent a lot of money on generating creative and entertaining web "events" and sweepstakes, which resulted in thousands of "fans" of their products, how come that led few to actually purchase their products?

The amount of buzz and activity with brands on Facebook does not reflect on sales within the same audience. I call it the "Snakes on a Plane Corollary": Gen Y Internet buzz does should never guarantee specific action.

What is a brand to do? How much money do they have to throw at the Internet before Generation Y takes action? Why aren't they lining up to buy Tide? The article concludes that advertisers have two approaches available to them:
  1. Be more intrusive by targeting extremely specific audience groups and using their "fans" as advertising channels by posting ads within their personal profiles.
  2. Spend even more money on a regular basis to constantly create new entertaining commercials, viral videos, and games.

It seems to me that there is one other option that the article fails to mention: stop trying to be best friends with the community and start using Facebook to address the needs of your audience as they pertain to your brand.

That is not to say there is no reason to use the first two options to promote a brand, especially when launching a new brand or brand extension. However, that should only be one element of a brand's social media strategy. Use entertainment, games, and videos only to generate buzz and brand awareness. These are the sort of things Facebook users want to share with their friends and post on their profile, not direct ads for a brand.

The second element of a brand's marketing strategy should address the other needs of the audience. Altogether users seek media, including the Internet and web portals like Facebook, to meet four major needs:

  1. The need for entertainment and escapism (games and viral videos would fall into this category)
  2. The need to develop personal relationships (this is the main reason Facebook users log on everyday: to connect socially with friends and families, not brands)
  3. The need to develop a personal identity through knowledge & interests (a Facebook profile represents the users personal identity, and can include brands that the user feels reflect their personality and interests. This is why people become "fans" of certain products)
  4. The need of understanding of the surrounding world and sharing information with others (this can include information about a product or promotion that the user may find helpful)

Many brands on Facebook only try to address the first need fully and forget about the rest. In order for a brand to see results from Facebook, they should try to address all four of these needs.

If P&G wants to advertise the Tide brand to Facebook users, they should go beyond the entertainment to address the need that users want Tide to help with: stains and laundry. A lot of Facebook users are college students or young professionals living on their own. Why not use Facebook to offer advice or instructional videos to those who are washing their clothes for the first time (What does permanent press mean? Is that like ironing in the washing machine?)? I would not take movie or music advice from Tide, or consider them a better stain remover if they did, but I would certainly take laundry advice, and if it was helpful I would tell all my friends about it and feel a stronger connection to the Tide brand. Viral videos are fun, but they will not get the chili stain out of my shirt.

Brands should not forget what needs their product or service best gratifies. Facebook can be an excellent portal to generate buzz for a product, but it can also be used to address the needs of the user on a personal basis on their terms in a venue that they frequent. Companies like P&G need to realize that advertising on television or even elsewhere on the Internet serves a different purpose than advertising on Facebook.

Advertising on social media sites should focus initially on buzz, but more importantly at how a brand can really help users personally. If their need is met, I believe positive word-of-mouth will spread, and actual action will take place. That, in turn, can lead to a strong association with the brand, which creates a new influencer to spread the word.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Will you 'Trust Me'?

Imagine for me if you will, what it would be like if the two main characters from Nip/Tuck ran an ad agency instead of a plastic surgery practice!

You mean like Mad Men?

Yeah, like Mad Men, but in the FUTURE world of 2009.

Why, that would be crazy! I'd watch that right away!

Take a look here (the embed code isn't working and I don't feel like figuring out why).

"They'll sell everything but their friendship"

Yet another portrayal of ad agencies as crazy party fun zones where almost anything can happen, and probably does (Sorry marketing students, that is only 74% true, if you love what you are doing)!

I'll check it out, but I assume my feelings of this show will mirror Kyra Sedgwick's when she says, "Oh, Mama, please don't cry."

What do you think? Will you check out Trust Me? Read more!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Social Media, Leno, and Late Night

NBC has created quite a stir with their announcement that they convinced Jay Leno to stay by giving him their entire 10pm slot. There is a lot that's been said about this so I'm not going to dwell on it too much. Alan Sepinwall of New Jersey's The Star-Ledger had a good analysis in his Tuesday column.

I agree with what he has to say. This is a short term solution to a long term problem for NBC. How long can it work? In everything I have read there has been no mention of how long Leno has signed on with the network. I give it maybe 2 years at most. It was only two years ago that Deal or no Deal was on four nights a week. That got old real fast. Now is it even on NBC anymore? This is a desperate financial decision that NBC is spinning as an entertaining gift to us all. What do you think of NBC's decision?

Anyway, what I really wanna talk about is the other big news in NBC's Late Night schedule: the official launch of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. You won't find it on TV. NBC has launched a vlog at latenightwithjimmyfallon.com. Starting this past Monday night and continuing every night until the show airs in the spring, NBC will post daily videos of Jimmy Fallon bringing us behind the scenes of his new show and making a few jokes.

This is a (surprisingly) smart move by NBC. In 1993 when Conan O'Brien took over for David Letterman no one knew who he was, and Conan had no idea how to host a talk show. It made for an awkward year or two which brought the show to the verge of cancellation. With the web component of Fallon's show, NBC can slowly introduce the Jimmy Fallon brand to viewers and Jimmy can get comfortable just talking to a camera on a daily basis.

Fallon may not be the perfect choice for a late night talk show (neither was Conan at the time), but he is the perfect choice to host a late night show in the age of social media. Fallon has always had an interesting appeal. He spent several good years on SNL, but he is not in the same stand-up division as the rest of his comedy competition. He has always seemed like a regular guy who won a reality show contest to appear on TV. If he wasn't on TV he could be comfortable sitting with you on the couch making snarky remarks. That is the appeal of the Jimmy Fallon brand: not everything he does is hilarious, but you have a good time hanging out.

Take a look at Tuesday's video segment:

From the very start this feels less like Fallon putting on a show for us, but rather anyone and everyone putting on a show together. If you go to the show's website you will find the links he mentions in the video, including Facebook, Twitter (@jimmyfallon & it appears to actually be him), MySpace, Flickr, Friendfeed, Ning, YouTube and many other social media sites. It will be interesting to see how these different elements are used as the show makes the transition to television. His mention of having a laptop by his desk and TVs available for Skype make it seem like he plans on talking with his viewers during the show itself.

Although the Leno decision seems like one step backwards for NBC, Jimmy Fallon may be a positive step forward. In order for a late night show to be successful, it needs to have an interactive online element; the more interactive the better. By using social media Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will be able to make up for Fallon's lack of comic timing by establishing him as the talk show host who interacts with his audience and values their insight and talents. There is no better way to establish brand loyalty than to give the consumer a sense of ownership in the brand; a late night show starring Jimmy Fallon and YOU!! Does this make you more or less likely to watch Fallon's new show in the spring?

Finally, on Wed night's show Conan announced NBC's talk-heavy 2009 fall schedule:

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top TV Ad of 2008?

This week Time magazine released their Top 10 of Everything in 2008 list. The lists range from the basic top 10 news stories, movies, music, etc to more specific lists like the top 10 outrageous earmarks or top 10 fleeting celebrities (i.e. Joe the Plumber). The list I want to discuss is the Top 10 TV Ads of 2008. Here is their selection for #1:

That was an amusing campaign, yes, but was it REALLY the best ad of 2008? Was it better than Microsoft's "I'm a PC" ads (not the Seinfled ads, we can all agree they misfired a little) or more effective than Barack Obama's infomercial? Is Time judging the ads from a purely creative perspective, or are they taking into account the communication of the message or the percentage of the audience motivated to act on the ad?

I don't know off the top of my head what my favorite TV ad of the year is. I can tell you that right now I enjoy Nike's new LeBron James chalk ads. As a Cavs fan I'm a little bias, but even so it is another ad well done by Nike:

What was your favorite TV ad of 2008? (it can be non-basketball related) Read more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

K Mart: A brand slowly dying

Quick, when was the last time you were in a Kmart? Do you even know where your nearest Kmart is? Are you sure it is still in operation?
I personally don't know the answer to any of these questions. I cannot remember the last time I've been near a Kmart. Have you ever been to a Kmart and not left a little depressed? Every Kmart I have ever been in the lighting has been slightly poor, the floor a little too dirty and sticky for my liking, the shopping carts have at least 2 bad wheels, no one smiles, and the little plastic pony out front looks desperate for someone to feed it a quarter. Just writing this makes me feel dirty and lethargic.
Despite these negatives, Kmart will not go the way of the Woolworth. At a time when large nationwide retailers like Circuit City are closing stores left and right Kmart still stands. Why?
Four years ago Kmart was about to close up when Sears decided to snatch it. At first that seemed like a good idea. With a little retooling and re-branding Kmart had the chance to become viable again. But that never happened. Kmart just kept on keepin' on while Wal-Mart and Target (the Wal-Mart with style) stole their market share. Today, Sears announced a larger than expected third-quarter loss of $146 million dollars. Their scapegoat for this loss (besides the recession): weak Kmart sales.
Yet Kmart still lives. What should Sears do in this situation? If they keep with the same plan, Kmart will continue to slowly die until it takes the Sears retail stores with it. Or they can completely overhaul the Kmart brand. It clearly cannot compete with Wal-Mart and Target. So maybe they should redefine themselves. As what, I'm not sure. A grocery store with a large garden center? A mini-Sears with frozen foods? Private shoppers? Home delivery? Pet stores? Anything they decide would be an expensive endeavor if they want it done right.
Lastly, Sears could sever their useless limb (there has to be a Craftsmen tool for that, right?). Sell off or shut down Kmart; recognize they missed their window for re-branding opportunity, and leave Kmart behind with the last century.
What do you think? Is Kmart worth saving? Should Sears overhaul the brand? Do you cry when you close your eyes and imagine yourself lost in Kmart?
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Andy Rooney Will Never Be My Financial Advisor

We all know Andy Rooney, right? He's the elderly gentleman that closes episodes of 60 Minutes with his editorial ramblings. Often amusing and overly cantankerous, Rooney basically has the seniority to got on TV and say whatever he wants for a few minutes. This past week Rooney decided to spend his time helping us all save a few extra bucks during these financially troubled times:

Now I'm not gonna waste time complaining about Rooney's complaining. That's like shooting cranky, old fish in a barrel. But the man finds it financially necessary to steal bread and wear dirty. 3-day old clothes while still going to every NY Giants home game!! Is he really that strapped for cash?

I know we all have the one or two luxury items we cling to, and I'm not blaming him for that. I'm sure not cancelling my cable any time soon. But the man is stealing bread! If I was his financial advisor I would advise he watch the games on TV and save the $700 he spends on tickets to buy a coffee maker and a couple loaves of bread. Until then, Andy, I'm going to seek financial tips from someone else. What's the luxury item you would rather steal bread for than give up? Read more!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Adventures in Product Placement

Network television is in a weird place right now. Ratings are down, budgets are tight, and last winter's Writer's Guild strike did a serious number to the network's schedule. Despite all this, the Associated Press reported last week that Americans are watching more television than ever before. The report states that the typical household had a TV on for 8 hours and 18 minutes a day.

If this is true, then how are television ratings down? It is because the Nielson ratings only record live television viewers, not DVR recordings, programs streamed online, or purchased through iTunes. This is the new way we are watching television and both networks and advertisers are having a tough time adjusting to the fact that the viewer now controls when and how they watch TV shows. That is good for viewers, but bad for advertisers and the networks. Here's why:

  • Television networks make most of their money from selling commercial time to advertisers

  • The higher the television ratings, the more advertisers are willing to pay for commercial time

  • The more money the networks make off of advertisers, the more money they have to invest in their programs and creative development

  • With ratings down, networks are having to charge less for ads, make less money, and have smaller budgets to produce their shows (Hello seven million hours of cheap reality shows).

With viewers fast-forwarding past commercials, advertisers are desperate to get their branded message across to all those people watching an endless amount of TV. Enter product placement, and old television staple that is learning a few new tricks.

I am sure while watching your favorite shows you have noticed close-up shots of cell phones, MacBooks, and every vehicle ever driven by every television character ever. This is standard product placement. The advertisers pay to have their products placed prominently in programs, get brand exposure that will not be fast forwarded over, and the networks receive more money to cover their expensive production costs.

Now normally I do not mind product placement, except when it is so obviously a commercial within a show that is takes me out of the program for a second. These are the types of product placements that I feature in Adventures in Product Placement. Moments that are so bad that they are laughable. Here are a few clips, courtesy of hulu.com.

Towards the end of last week's episode of Chuck the characters took a time out from a frantic escape to discuss the features on the new Toyota Matrix that make it "the perfect getaway car:"

That was not TOO bad, but the dialogue sure seemed out of place during an escape. If I'm looking for a getaway car, ipod capability isn't going to be a deal breaker for me.

Next up is a clip from the 24 TV-movie 24: Redemption. The product being featured is the 2009 Hyundai Genesis. In the clip character A has called character B because something of URGENT NATIONAL SECURITY has come up and character A is racing to meet up with character B (who happens to be the president-elects' son and is about to leave for the inauguration ceremony so he doesn't have much time to talk!!!!!!). Although he is in a hurry, character A makes sure to stop mid-sentence to play with all the cool new features on the Genesis. The camera gets the necessary glamor shots, then the urgent conversation continues:

Yes, it was quick, but to stop a scene mid-sentence to show off a product seems a bit like Character A saying, "We'll be right back after this brief message from Hyundai."

That brings us to the award for worst product placement ever. This honor goes to My Name is Earl (a show that has been on for four years now, and yet I have never met anyone who would call themselves an avid fan). A recent episode actually featured an entire B-story that revolved around a product. Seriously. The entire story line revolved around the character of Joy wanting a Kay Jewelers' Jane Seymour heart necklace thing. They even managed to throw in a real commercial for the product IN THE SHOW as well as an appearance by Dr. Quinn herself:

From that point on, Joy makes a point to mention the Kay Jeweler's necklace in nearly every scene she is in. AND during the commercial breaks for the show they showed the exact same commercial for the necklace that Joy was watching in the clip. This is pathetic. I tolerate a little cheesy placement here and there, but to force the writers to work a product and a pitch into an entire storyline is a new low. Besides, Joy is not a likable character. Why would Kay Jewelers want to associate their brand with the tastes of a person like Joy? I doubt that endorsement did much to push sales.

Well that's all for today's Adventures in Product Placement. I'm sure there will be many more in the future. Do you notice product placement like this? Does it bother you? Do you retain more information about the product than you would through a commercial? If you have any favorite product placement moments let me know and I'll try to post them. Read more!

Obligatory First Post

Hello. This is JD Drake coming to you live from Cleveland, OH. Pot Kettle Blue is my new blog. This is me:
  • I live in Cleveland, OH
  • I enjoy TV, movies, advertising, marketing, social media, cool restaurants and events
  • I cannot slam dunk a basketball on a consistent basis

This blog will be about things such as these (I'm not expecting too much conversation about my basketball skills).

Feel free to leave questions and comments as well as follow me elsewhere (Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, LinkedIn) via the buttons on the right.

Party on, Wayne!

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