Our Five Things You Might Have Missed List

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coffee bean and tea leaf design gift card
Like us, did you get so busy putting the finishing touches on your Halloween getup that you weren’t watching the news as closely as you might otherwise? Maybe you were just so worn out by the hurricane of never-ending political ads that certain stories just passed you by. Have no fear. We’ve found a quintet of marketing, branding and social media goodies especially for you.

1.) Power to the Fans: Belle & Sebastian fans in Brazil weren’t going to get a chance to see their favorite band live. So in a stroke of crowd sourcing genius, they made it happen all themselves. Through social media and fundraisers, they raised the money to afford the band, pay for the concert hall and take home a little extra dough.

2.) Google Places: While the new, spiffed up Google Places features in-depth info on local businesses, it’s going to require some assistance from Google to help regular marketing folks understand how to make it work for them. Andy Beal’s blog sums up nicely the reality of Google’s latest pot of gold.

3.) Coffee Bean & Facebook: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf created an innovative Facebook campaign which lets fans vote on the design for its new gift card design. The twist? The designs were submitted by Coffee Bean fans along with the story behind the designs. The brand always has been a tad more thoughtful and whimsical than that other coffee chain – and this Facebook campaign demonstrates this beautifully.

4.) Naughty Kaiser Baby: So we’re not usually fans of website banner ads as they tend to be a bit sterile and uninspired, but our friends at Ads of the World turned us on to this uber cute and uber clever Kaiser spot. In it, a diapered baby knocks over your web browsers and generally wreaks havoc. It’s entertaining and gives hope to a genre that could use a shot of creativity in the arm.

5.) We Pity The Fool: This last little gem is just pure silliness and retro-goodness for those of us who grew up in the ’80s. Casting Mr. T as the spokesman for a cash-for-gold company is the most obvious yet genius thing ever. Thankfully Gold Promise’s website has all of the Mohawked one’s commercials and a “making of” video.

The Skinny on a Big Fat Blog Blunder

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big fat blog blunders

We haven’t had a good blogging fail in a long time. But Maura Kelly of Marie Claire has delivered a major blog screw-up that’s making headlines around the globe. The ladies of The View, the wise sages at Fox News and everybody in between already has weighed in about Ms. Kelly’s controversial post, which contained some pretty heavy food for thought about obesity. More importantly, the readers and consumers of Marie Claire have bitten back and things have officially gotten ugly.

The Marie Claire writer found herself in deep doo-doo after she blogged about how she found the stars of CBS’s Mike and Molly to be “aesthetically displeasing.” She likened watching the overweight stars of the hit new sitcom to “watching a drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroin addict slumping in a chair.” The sensitively-titled “Should Fatties Get a Room?” post took the show to task for what Kelly believes is glamorizing obesity. She went on to wax philosophically: “Yes I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other.” Yikes. Marie Claire, who rarely registers a blip on our collective media radar aside from its involvement with Project Runway, now has found itself washing its hands of Kelly’s opinions – even though Marie Claire editors approved the blog before it was published. Naturally, readers have responded, the media has ran with the story and (big surprise) Kelly has now written an apology on the Marie Claire website attached to the original blog.

So what’s the lesson here, kids? Controversial topics that alienate a group of consumers are the tackiest, most dated and frankly stupid kinds of blogs – just the kind that make people loathe the genre. Bloggers have a reputation for being snide haters in search of attention, like Kelly. While this may or may not be good for her career, Marie Claire the brand is the one who really screwed up. The magazine’s site undoubtedly has seen more traffic, but it’s highly unlikely that saying “I hate fat people” will translate into magazine sales.

With the mass amounts of mind-rotting, poorly-written tripe that clogs the Internet, content that enriches our online experience by being thoughtful, generally humorous or compelling is more likely to draw in repeat readers and more revenue. Maire Claire’s choice to publish a piece that bullies a section of its audience is a reminder that no one can afford to alienate consumers, regardless of how many headlines it makes.

Mobile Marketing Swallows a Handful Of New Tablets

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tablet ipad

The hubbub made over tablets like the iPad is certain to be one of the top tech stories of 2010. And the media frenzy on the tablets has yet to die down. The New York Times, which at this point could publish a special extra-large edition of the paper devoted to all of its past iPad articles, ran a piece in the Sunday edition about how Hollywood film and television makers are using the product to pitch new projects. The Wall Street Journal has run three stories related to tablets this week alone, and it’s just Wednesday.

In addition, Sony, Sprint and HP each have app-filled and marketing-ready tablets ready to launch in the next couple of months. The point is that tablets are here to stay, and with a plethora of new tablets to be released before the end of the year, companies are enticing mobile marketers and developers to go ahead and go tablet crazy.

Research In Motion (RIM), the makers of the new Blackberry PlayBook Tablet, understand that apps are the wave of the future for developers and marketers – so much so RIM has gone out of its way to make app production even easier. Instead of forcing developers to download special app software, the folks at RIM are inviting them to use Adobe Air, a product most developers use already. To inspire developers to get busy on special apps for PlayBook, RIM is giving away PlayBooks to selected developers who have their apps approved.

Clearly, RIM sees the benefit of having a fully stocked app library. Tablet fanatics are more likely to pick up a tablet if there’s a ton of apps already available. Nielsen found last month that most tablet users are app crazy. Ninety-one percent of tablet owners snatched up apps, paid or free. The study also found that games are at the top of the tablet app heap, with a monstrous 62 percent of sales followed by books, music and shopping, respectively. All of this tablet trending is certain to mean mobile marketing moves by companies big and small to get busy producing must-have apps.

Social Media Marketing: The Katy Perry Method

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Over the weekend, pop star Katy Perry and that Russell Brand guy were married on a tiger sanctuary in India. As I read this story, two things occurred to me: 1.) How come I’ve never been invited to weddings on tiger sanctuaries? and 2.) Katy Perry, more than any other hitmaking starlet, has a solid and savvy understanding of social media marketing. While we’re certain Perry undoubtedly is receiving some help from a tiny army of PR minions, you certainly have to give the girl credit for never missing an online branding opportunity.

After being dumped by three record labels, Katy Perry released her first single, “UR So Gay” online in 2007. While the song didn’t chart, it was buzzed and blogged about enough to get her next single, “I Kissed a Girl,” noticed. The digital campaign by Perry and her label Capital worked, landing the pop star on the top of the charts. Thus, Katy Perry, pop diva and online maven, was born.

Perry since has released a slew of new catchy ear candy songs while embarking on a highly public relationship with Russell Brand – all of which the singer chronicles herself on her Twitter account. Perry has employed Twitter as her own publicity machine, her personal soapbox and, most importantly, an outlet for the voice her fans love. With currently 4 million tweeps following her, Perry wisely stays out of controversy, speaks openly about herself and endlessly chronicles/promotes her career moves.

In addition, Perry’s YouTube channel is a one-stop video Mecca for Perry fans. In addition to her hit songs, her banned duet with Elmo is here, as are personal messages and contests from Perry herself. Tweens (Perry’s bread and butter) love YouTube videos of their favorite songs (which include the lyrics). So instead of letting somebody else do it, Perry and Co. have posted a lyrics video for her new single “Firework” that features clips of the yet-to-be-released official video. Perry’s current contest in conjunction with the single invites fans to submit online videos of people who inspire them.

Her Facebook isn’t as chock full with as much exclusive content as her other channels, but the page clearly works given the amount of likes it has received. Again, she clearly knows who’s buying her records so all of her social media is composed with that audience in mind.

While it is up to the pop music gods to decide if Katy Perry will be long-lasting, it is certain that she has carved out a unique social media model. Many celebs wrongly use social media as navel gazing or, God forbid, as the platform to rant, but Perry reminds us the format should be conversational, entertaining and, above all, a good time.

Our Five Things You Might Have Missed List – Halloween Edition!

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We’ve sifted through the crappy candy corn and boxes of raisins to pull out some truly tasty Halloween marketing, social media and branding treats.

1.) Worst-named Halloween Wig: A marketing misfire of faux follicle proportions unfolded on Facebook this week. Discount Mecca Kohl’s was forced to pull a wig featured on its Halloween website store after shoppers posted their distaste for the item on Kohl’s Facebook page. “Ghetto Fab” was the unfortunate named wig in question. Shoppers (naturally) found the name offensive, and Kohl’s quickly pulled the puffy urban afro wig.

2.) Angry Birds Go Trick-or-Treating: Rovio’s game Angry Birds Halloween was announced a few days back and it is sure to be another massive hit with folks who have mastered how to play games on their iPhones. As a mobile game, Angry Birds is one of the tops and this Halloween edition marks the brand’s first endeavor since being acquired by Electronic Arts. Seeing a brand like Angry Birds garner major media attention signals a new day for mobile gaming and mobile marketing. Plus this pumpkin-themed version of the game is only a buck!

3.) Domino’s Delivers a Costume Idea: Halloween is one of the biggest nights of the year for pizza delivery joints like Domino’s, and the company is using Facebook to lure in trick-or-treater eaters. Domino’s FB page has instructions to make a giant slice of pizza costume. We think a Noid costume would be cooler, yet Domino’s Facebook page is list-worthy because it also features downloadable pumpkin carving designs while fitting nicely into the company’s killer digital marketing plan (which includes that much-loved iPhone app).

4.) True Blood Comics on Your Phone: Just in time for Halloween, a comic book version of HBO’s hit camp-vampire series True Blood has been exclusively adapted for iPad and iPhone. This is more smart mobile marketing from HBO, which after a serious slump seems to be inching its way back to the top of the TV heap.

5.) That Creepy Snickers Commercial: Okay, there’s no way you missed this”¦ but here it is again. Of all the seasonal viral ads, this Snickers ad has made headlines and popped up in blogs just for being so darn creepy. It makes the list for being the most talked-about Halloween commercial and for apparently working: Sales for the chocolate bar are already up 6 percent from last year.

Can Social Media Help Save The Arts?

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Given our society’s collective disdain for anything resembling art which doesn’t involve people named Snooki (read: performance art), it is remarkable that museums, dance companies and arts organizations manage to keep their doors open in today’s troubled economic climate. Two years ago, The New York Times and other publications worried that museums and other arts organizations could be completely flattened by our cash-strapped country. But today, theaters, museums and arts organizations have dug deep into social media marketing to stay in business and to entice new audiences.

A New York museum that isn’t the Met and a fading dance legend are two shining examples of how the arts are collaborating beautifully with social media marketing.

The Brooklyn Museum, for example, has a killer social media marketing strategy that covers all of the bases. From blogs to Twitter and Facebook, the formerly struggling museum has jumped into social media headfirst. Its Foursquare initiative not only invites badge-seekers to visit and check into the museum but to explore the culturally-rich area of Brooklyn it calls home. Staff members of the museum use social media to promote local restaurants and other nearby places of interest. The Brooklyn Museum also employs Foursquare to plug monthly events, awarding visitors with special badges and paperless memberships to the museum. The museum makes headlines today both for housing unique exhibits and for not being on the brink of ruin.

Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet Company calls itself “America’s Company of Firsts” – so it is fitting that the company is one of the first dance organizations to really use social media to the hilt. Packed with videos and reviews, the company takes advantage of the power of Facebook. Yet the Joffrey Ballet doesn’t stop there: Over the summer, the institution scored a major win with a Groupon deal that saw more than 2,300 new subscribers to the Joffrey. It was a 50 percent increase in subscriptions and one that challenged art lovers to put their money where their mouth is. Plus, the Groupon promotion offered a great discount to sweeten the deal. Joffrey promoted the Groupon on its Facebook page and record numbers poured in. It’s an e-mail marketing, social media and arts partnership that could change the way theaters do business across the country.

But it doesn’t end there. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, The Getty Museum and dozens of others are using social media in hopes to survive and thrive. This country is nothing without our artistic and cultural institutions, so relying on the latest social media marketing techniques is something we think even painters of masterpieces would consider awe-inspiring.

Social Search Is a Win-Win For Marketers

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A few days ago, you could practically hear marketers and SEO geniuses alike salivating at the new possibilities of social searches. Google recently included relevant Twitter updates in search results, and last week Facebook and Bing partnered up in an agreement which allows the search engine to produce results based on “Likes” made on Facebook by the searcher’s friends. Joe Devine pondered the implications this could have on SEO professionals over at Mashable.com on Monday. Some have blogged about social searches being a coup for analysts, while still others have wondered if social search has crossed a line into creepy consumerism spying.

For marketers, though, social searches finally may provide a glimpse into the effectiveness of our social media marketing strategies that previously relied on one-part guesswork and one-part blind faith.

While working on a social media campaign for a local small business, I was thrilled to find its name in tweets and on Facebook while doing a routine search engine trolling. My elation wasn’t solely based on our campaign being successful, but the ease of having all the social media mentions in one place. This is a necessary time saver for marketers and freelance PR wizards who keep a delicate balance between working and watching YouTube videos for, um, research. These social search results also can reassure a client who still hasn’t surrendered to social media marketing: Proof of effectiveness is now in black and white.

Additionally, social searches can give us a look at what brands are hitting social media marketing campaigns out of the park. If there are 100 tweets about a new Pepsi campaign on Google’s first three pages, for example, it’s safe to say the effort has been a success. If, however, a social media campaign has generated no search engine buzz, we’ll be able to tell right away where the glitches are. Mainly, social search legitimizes the importance of social media and the brand-generated conversations that take place on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Our customer’s voices soon will wind up on coveted Goggle searches – and that, in and of itself, is invaluable marketing gold.