Category Archives: Advertising

Never miss a promotional opportunity…

This is precious.

Raygun — which calls itself “The Greatest Store in the Universe” — is a grass-rooted shop in Des Moines’ East Village (mostly T-shirts lauding or laughing at all things Iowa). They sell shoes, too. Their customer service and marketing is consistently exceptional. And they never miss an opportunity to exploit any [wholly unplanned] promotional opportunity.


Will this baby rape his girlfriend? An anti-violence crusader says it’s never too early to intervene.

This video — designed to counter a purported anti-women slant in some Super Bowl commercials — has ignited a storm and reportedly sparked death threats against its creator in Dubuque, Iowa—

Although every baby boy is precious and beautiful, some will become misogynistswomen beaters, rapists, killers.

“Violence is a learned behavior, people are not born to be violent,” says Josh Jasper, president and CEO of Riverview Center, the anti-violence advocacy group responsible for the video. “What we see [in media] are messages that are degrading and abusive toward women and children.”

Jasper hoped that parents would start a conversation with their children, that while watching the Super Bowl with their children they would criticize messages that are hurtful, such as, “When you saw that GoDaddy ad and you saw those ladies taking off their clothes, you need to know as your father that this isn’t okay, this is not okay how we treat women.”

With that conditioning, hopefully boys will grow up as portrayed in this second video (instead of as depicted above)—

Many of the comments about the first commercial, posted on YouTube and Facebook, were so hostile that Jasper contact Dubuque police.

“One of the 800 comments I’ve received in the last 24 hours is that I’m a Nazi sympathizer and I should be taken out and shot,” Jasper was quoted by WQAD. “I’ve been accused of hating all men, that all men are rapists, that I think babies are rapists.”

Why such a strong reaction?

“There are a lot of men who have a deep-seated hatred toward women,” Jasper said. “I bet I’ve received 150 messages in the last 24 hours that say it’s okay to rape women. If we’re going to end the violence, we have to start with them.”

Here’s Jasper’s first commercial, posted a couple of years ago — it’s certainly pointed, but slower-paced and less incendiary;

As for this year’s Super Bowl commercial, Jasper said, “There are a lot of survivors out there … who are now feeling empowered because people are talking about the issue. That’s exactly why I created the commercial and that’s exactly why the commercial will stay.”

In a blog post on Valentine’s Day, Jasper concluded:

Although a great deal of violence is committed by men, the vast majority of men are NOT violent. The problem is that not enough men are challenging the norm, speaking out against men that are not healthy role models for others.

My thanks to @MichaelLibbie for bringing this story to my attention.

SuperBowl commercials: Best [Chrysler’s hymn to Detroit] and Worst [Groupon’s tasteless humor]

My personal favorite: American industry, American workers, and the power of a great American city, by Chrysler

Groupon easily wins for the worst ad. Unless you agree that saving $15 at a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago is the equal of the cultural annihilation and genocide that’s been underway in Tibet, you might even call it creepy. What will they think of next — equating the Holocaust with one of the Second Avenue Deli’s incomparable hot pastrami sandwiches? All this proves is that having a company valued at $6-billion doesn’t mean you have a dime’s worth of common sense or an ounce of sensitivity.

Twitter exploded last night with instant revilement over Groupon’s commercials. This morning, there were plenty of angry posts by bloggers and newspaper writers. Time asks: “Did they merely push the envelope, or did they cross a line?” The NY Times wondered “whether the start-up has burned through a lot of good will.” Groupon’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, said the company “cheapened itself” when it “trivialized the oppression of the people of Tibet.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese — oppressors of Tibet — were also not happy about the spot (but, obviously, for other reasons).

In addition to the Tibet spot, Groupon prepared two other commercials:

In a bid to illustrate that it understands that the problems of Tibet, the Brazilian rainforest, and high seas whaling are indeed serious, Groupon created a web page that invites viewers to contribute money to aid these causes. But even here, Groupon is on slippery ground. Under Cuba Gooding Jr’s video about whaling, there’s a “urgent message” and a “donate” button in which viewers are urged to donate $15 to Greenpeace — and get a $15 Groupon credit in exchange: “Your essentially free donation will go to help end commercial whaling.” Greenpeace is hardly a universally admired advocate. Meanwhile, no kickbacks are offered for contributions to Tibet, the rainforest, or building schools “in some of the world’s poorest villages” (the schools video was not yet up).

The attitude conveyed by last night’s commercials might have been predictable — it’s reflected in this commercial that was prepared by Groupon when it was just getting started, in early 2009 [WARNING: the following video may not be suitable for young children] :

You’ll find all of the SuperBowl commercials through a link at YouTube.

Groupon, iPad and Twitter: Not so fast!

Alan Mutter has an excellent post in which he seeks to moderate some of the wild projections surrounding Groupon, the iPad and Twitter.

Newspapers and the iPad: Publishers are pleased that the iPad is beloved by “exactly the sort of wealthy, middle-aged men who read newspapers,” says Mutter. Unfortunately, “58% of iPad users think the device is such a good substitute for print that they are ‘very likely’ to cancel their print subscriptions in the next six months… [Meanwhile] newspapers have yet to find a way to extract as much advertising revenue from the digital media as they can from the print product.” Mutter concludes: “An alternative to porting the daily paper to the iPad is to use the platform to develop new and differentiated products to serve new audiences and advertisers.”

Groupon’s problem: “Instead of attracting new long-term customers for merchants, Groupon is bringing in one-time bargain hunters who take the deals and run… Some consumers feel ripped off, too, when they are unable to redeem the prepaid certificates they bought for massages, dinners, classes and other goods and services. In an online survey at HubPages.Com, 44% of consumers called Groupon a ‘scam’ and 28% thought it was ‘very good’. The balance of respondents were neutral.”

Twitter: “Although Twitter will tell you that it has 175 million registered users and investors reportedly deem it to be worth $3.7 billion, fewer than 20 million American adults actually use the service [and while a] quarter of users avidly check for the latest tweets several times each day … a fifth of the registered users never use their accounts after they open them. This indicates that Twitter, at best, may be effective in reaching only the limited cohort of consumers who crave a steady diet of 140-character News McNuggets.”

Read Mutter’s entire post at

Anderson Cooper on Amazon pedophile e-book

Vodpod videos no longer available.


A tax on business by campaigning pols

Here’s something you might not have considered: With candidates buying up so much TV and radio time, what’s left gets sold at a premium to a station’s regular clients.

Iowa marketing maven Michael Libbie tells us about a Des Moines business owner who had been buying 30 second early morning (circa 4:30 am) radio spots for only about $30 each:

“When Campaign 2010 (also known as the Lie Express) cut loose 90 days ago his costs went to $80 for the same 30-second ad in the same day-part.  I’ve been hearing this from so many business people I’ve lost count.”

Libbie concludes:It’s pretty bad when politics stands in the way of doing business.”

Now, get out there and vote!

Doctrinaire journos, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!

Jeff Jarvis and Roy Greenslade are having at it, arguing about that damn wall in our newsrooms.

Greenslade (top photo) says keep it high; Jarvis (below right) says tear it down. And Marc Reeves (below left), who Greenslade uses as a foil, is bluntly allied with Jarvis and opines that “it is time to talk of heresy”:

“To all those saying ‘sorry I’m just a journalist, I don’t sell advertising’, I say ‘tough, that’s just the way it is now’.”

Putting “the noisy people in a room marked ‘advertising’ and the studious types in another labelled ‘editorial’ was the biggest mistake newspapers and other media ever made,” says Reeves. “It allowed journalists to insulate themselves from the business they were in to the point of revelling in their detachment… No wonder so many didn’t see the meltdown coming.”

This discussion is an urgent one because of the explosion online of entrepreneurial journalism, in which journalists must be one with their business side — because in addition to being journalists, often they are the business. So much for that wall.

Jarvis, who is a pioneer — really an evangelist and guru — of entrepreneurial journalism (he’s been teaching it for several years at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is starting an entrepreneurial journalism MA program there), says he is “disturbed to hear journalistic entrepreneurs — eg, hyperlocal bloggers — who disdain business and sales, for they will perish just like the dinosaurs who once employed them. They are responsible for their own sustainability.”

Jarvis argues that the “wall” did not really protect a product’s integrity in any event. And he recalls Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger reminding us “about the history of newspapers: It was advertising that freed us from ownership by political forces; it supported independence.”

Moreover, says Reeves, a relationship with advertisers is essential to the production of a product that’s relevant to readers: “It’s never actually been about the content anyway — in print or online — it’s about the relationship with the community you build — it always has been and it always will.…

“If you have a relationship, you’ve got a business. Anything else is just words and spaces – and is as unsustainable an endeavour as you’ll ever see.”

This is why Yahoo  partnered with media’s dinosaurs — newspapers — in its bid to sell local advertising, and why AOL’s Patch may be considering the acquisition of some community newspapers: Local newspapers have (or had, or are presumed to have or to have had) relationships in their communities, including the communities’ businesses and advertisers.

“Once you’ve attracted them to your content you should see what you can do to fulfill all their other needs too — whether or not it involves journalism,” says Reeves. “Hold events, create a club to give them a sense of belonging, help them interact online and sell stuff to each other, and negotiate partnerships.…

“Other businesses are using new technological tools and social media to encroach into territory traditionally marked ‘media’ so why shouldn’t we take a piece of their action?”

• • •

Now, what about asking those editorial people to do some “sales” work? (They need not carry rate cards and contracts  but they must be inquisitive — which is what they’ve been trained to be — and they talk up (p–r–o–m–o–t–e) their product as a vehicle that is worthy of their contact’s advertising. And they should be eager to return with qualified leads for the sales department to follow up.)

Reeves refers to every young reporter’s most dreaded assignment — having to call on the family and friends of someone who’s just died, in a moment of private pain, to extract a public comment and picture:

“To those who say: ‘I can’t sell advertising’, I ask how many death knocks have you done? Exactly, so don’t tell me you can’t sell a little ad space.”

Greenslade (a former editor of the Daily Mail and other UK newspapers and the Guardian’s media blogger) is not yet comfortable with this. “I remain queasy about journalists acting as advertising sales reps. And it is an aspect of entrepreneurial journalism that gives me pause… I just don’t want to see reporters acting as ad reps.”

• • •

Reeves, former editor of the Birmingham Post who is now editing niche Websites geared to local businesses in Britain, points out that “our advertisers are also the people we write about and the people who read our stuff,

“so with every contact me and my journalistic colleagues do three things: ONE, we get a story; TWO, we champion what we do; and THREE, we assess whether it’s worth someone coming back to talk to them about advertising.


And here’s how Reeves’ team chooses what they’ll write about:

“We keep an hour-by-hour check on what stories are well read and which are not, and use the learning in the moment or in tomorrow’s editing decisions. As a small business, we hate waste — it could destroy us, so we’ll ruthlessly reject any activity that doesn’t give us a return in terms of audience attention and/or revenue. There’s no more doing stuff just because it gives us a buzz journalistically. If we’ve spent time doing a wonderfully crafted feature on a certain subject but no one reads it, we won’t do it again.”

Journalists must understand and respect business — their own business, and business in general.

Jarvis says that a newsroom bias “that business itself is corrupting … is one of the key reasons journalism is in the fix it’s in.

“We separated ourselves from the noisy room and the noisy world at our peril; we thought ourselves above it all but we became strangers in our communities because we thought we were high and mighty.”

Finally, Jarvis suggests that Greenslade and other defenders of the editorial/advertising wall should relax.

“Roy, I think your queasiness comes from years of being taught that tomatoes are poison so, even if it’s not true, you’re bound to gag on the first bite. I say that running the business needn’t be corrupting and is, indeed, empowering. The key for us as educators is not to have students avoid the conflict but to teach them how to face it and make the right decisions.”