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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

A Brief Dissection of Apple’s New ‘Stickers’ MacBook Air TV Ad

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This is ‘Stickers’, the new TV ad for Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s interesting on several levels. Watch:

I watch and dissect all Apple ads, and this one jumped at me. Why?

  1. It breaks from their traditional style. Most Apple ads show what you can do with the product, not 30 seconds of the product itself from largely one angle.
  2. It shows Apple products in a modified state. This almost never happens. (Well, in ‘Powerful’ they showed the device in steadicam rigs and attached to instruments, but that’s not the same.) Here, modified means user-modified, which implies an affection for the product, a sense of personalization, a sense of use. One would only bother putting stickers on a product of which they were proud, or used every day to perform their daily work. You customize your car; you don’t customize your extra gas generator sitting in your garage.
  3. If you look at the MacBook Airs you see flashing through the ad, you’ll notice blemishes, scratches, maybe even minor dents – again, this implies use and a sense that the machine is an extension of someone, not just a product on a pedestal. Apple is in the business of creating experiences, not just devices. This is what makes Apple products appeal (or not) to certain people. (I’d even go out on a limb and say that the machines you see in ‘Stickers’ are actual, real-world user machines, but I’m just riffing here.)
  4. Showing stickers all over Apple’s vaunted industrial design is actually a bit self-deprecating: it shows Apple isn’t taking its naked design as the canonical style. There’s a bit of jauntiness here, a sense that Apple isn’t taking itself so seriously. This is a good thing.
  5. What’s the key value of a laptop computer? The screen. This ad shows not a single shot of the screen. Again, this isn’t about how the device gets used – everyone knows that by now.
  6. Finally, the iconic six-color Apple logo makes a brief, staccato appearance in the ad’s final frames. Great touch, and nice to see.

This entire ad is about self-expression, not a product. It’s almost as if the Beats marketing team created it, and I don’t think it’s any accident it’s airing alongside Apple’s back to school promo.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Think You’re Not Being Data-Mined? Think Again.

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Say you’re a father of a teenage girl. One day, you get the mail and notice a Target coupon book addressed to your daughter, and it’s full of impending-baby supplies: supplements, lotion, diapers, cotton balls. You’re outraged. What is Target trying to do? Encourage another teenage pregnancy? You do what any father would do: you go to Target, ask for a manager, and give him a piece of your mind for sending out blatantly mist-targeted advertising like this. The manager, completely unsure of why in the world your daughter would get such a coupon book, apologizes profusely. Everyone chalks it up to a gaffe.

A few days later, you have a truly Orwellian moment: Target knew more about your daughter than you did. She’s pregnant. You didn’t know.

Sound like an impossible story? It’s not. In fact, it’s only one example of how companies are employing customer IDs, statisticians and data-mining to send you extremely targeted marketing. Here, ‘extremely targeted’ doesn’t mean advertising based on some known part of your shopping history or demographic; it means they are assigning you probability scores that something in your life is about to happen, and they want to get in on the ground floor to build customer loyalty.

Kashmir Hill, writing for Forbes, examines this exact story and illustrates how accurately companies can learn about you:

Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your consumption patterns with retailers. And many of those retailers are studying those details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy. Target, for example, has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you need to start buying diapers.

Hill references the original NYTimes story that uncovered company secrets like this, which is entertaining to the point of fiction. Except it’s not.

You always hear about privacy issues when it comes to major gaffes by web companies: Facebook and Google, most predominantly. I know folks who refuse to use Facebook because of privacy concerns. I know others who refuse to use Google unless their browser is in some flavor of privacy mode. I always tell them they’re kidding themselves. Opting out of those two services might prevent data collection and targeted marketing from them (and their partners) to you, but everyone is doing it. Everyone. The ones we find out about are the ones who have made mistakes. The others? They’re running data on you right now, or maybe selling your data to another company, who will combine your data assets to paint an incredibly detailed picture of you.

We get outraged and freaked out when hear about a company violating or monetizing our privacy. We might cancel accounts and refuse to patronize the company again. But what about the companies that haven’t violated us yet?

Is it any mystery why after you, say, buy an Infiniti, you get deluged by mailers and emails from BMW boasting about how the 3-series recently bested Infiniti in so-and-so tests?  I’ve had this happen and have even thought, “Huh, that’s smart marketing” — right up until you realize how they’re doing it. And wonder what else they’re doing. And what other companies are doing.

You probably can’t drop off the grid, but this is worth thinking about. Even stuff that’s totally legal has the ability to make you very uncomfortable.

These are our times.

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MIPRO Consulting main website.

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About this blog.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 9/23/11

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I’m traveling during this week and next, so because of that, the next few Friday posts are going to seem…um…random. I’m typing this post on my iPhone (not really) in a cold European coffee shop (no), and the Internet connection is unreliable (not true). So before my iPhone battery dies (lie) or the dampness fries the wireless connection (totally false), here are some links with expanded commentary.

First: if this video doesn’t make you laugh, you are a monster. I’m being completely serious. If you or anyone you know has the power to watch this and not at least smile, be very afraid. Of yourself, or of your friends, of your colleagues. Doesn’t matter. This video should be part of some sociopath test that I’m just now making up in my own head in a cartoon brain-voice, which tends to happen a lot. I’ll pause for a moment and let the irony sink in.

Here is a dog balancing treats on its head. Dude is pretty Zen about it. There’s probably a lesson there somewhere.

Next time your doctor tosses some antibiotics at you in the hopes that they nip whatever it is that ails you, make certain you really need to be taking them. Why? A great deal of your immune system resides in your digestive tract and is comprised of ‘friendly’ bacteria, and antibiotics absolutely ravage it. In fact, Martin Blaser of New York University’s Langone Medical Center says “Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover.” Note the word never. Read more over at Wired.

Speaking of sociopaths (like that segue?), be very wary with people who don’t respond well to animals. Why? Because we’re wired to respond favorably to them.

Here is a woman with slabs of bacon tied to her feet standing in a gigantic skillet holding a huge spatula and smiling for a camera. The picture alone would be worth my linking to it, but there’s a story behind it too, one you should read. How can you resist?

Finally, here’s some seriously messed-up packaging design. Lemon-scented pancakes, anyone?

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

About this blog.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 1/7/11

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Lots of good things for you today.  If you want some weekend reading and some guaranteed ammunition to make you look like the smartest web geek around, well, you’ve come to the right place.  Sit back and enjoy.

The perpetually-maligned font Comic Sans has an educational benefit.  How?  Because researchers at Princeton University have learned that making something more difficult to understand improves long-term learning.  More specifically, they found that changing a typeface from something clean and legible (like Helvetica) to something more difficult to read (like Comic Sans) increased learning in classroom settings.  (Ed. note: I expect a gloating email from a certain colleague who is a closet fan of Comic Sans any second now.)

A year of practical thinking: in 2010, Giles Turnbull promised himself he would learn one thing each day.  Here’s his full list.  Some sample entries:

  • There are three million Arabian camels, but only one million Bactrian camels.
  • When they say there’s sugar in nearly everything, they’re not kidding.
  • Male otters are called meowters. Females are called queens.
  • Rifles were invented in Germany.
  • The name “Roger” means “famous for using a spear.”

Remember the hysteria about how the MMR vaccine might be linked to autism?  Remember otherwise sane parents opting out of MMR vaccinations for their children?  Well, it turns out that not only was the study that suggested the link wrong, but actually fraudulent. (Here’s the full paper from the BMJ, if you’re interested in a more detail-rich picture.)

Meet a former professional liar. Interesting exposé  of the luxury jewelry business from Clancy Martin, a tenured philosophy professor-cum-jewelry salesman.

If you let industrialized food companies make decisions for you, this might not sound like the utterly awful idea it is.

Finally, I don’t know why I find this sign so funny.  It’s as if he’s falling and yelling, “I’m fabulous!” at the same time.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More Linkology posts.

The First Windows Phone 7 Ads Emerge

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The first two Windows Phone 7 (WP7) ads have been released, and they are, in a word, excellent.

The first, called ‘Season of the Witch’, is set to Donovan’s song by the same name, depicts a post-apocalyptic scene of accidents caused by people with their heads buried in their phones. Very clever, and the music is a strong hook.

The second, called ‘Really?’ summons SNL’s Seth Meyers and is also pitch-perfect.

It’s funny because it’s true.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More business posts.

Time Out

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I absolutely love this E*Trade campaign.  To my mind, the best of the bunch is Shankapotamus, then Creepy Clown, and then this one, called Time Out:

Which one is your favorite?

(Hat tip to Jim for the heads-up)

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More humor posts.

Great TiVo Ads

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Zach Golden, copywriter, has some really fantastic ads for TiVo:

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Very clever.  And if you’re a TiVo user, you know they’re bang-on accurate.

(Via SvN)

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog.  If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website.  If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More marketing posts you should read.

Nike: Write the Future

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In anticipation of the 2010 World Cup (11 June – 11 July), Nike has released a promotional ad that mixes feature film, brand development and flat-out hype of an event that will captivate a good percentage of the world for a month.  The production value is absurd.

I’ve always said Nike is one of the best marketing companies in the world, and it’s the #1 sports brand globally.  CEO Phil Knight famously commented, “Business is war without bullets.”

The vision and dedication to production value are direct descendants of Nike’s ambition, aggressiveness and irreverence.  And for a company that crosses so many sporting chasms, every piece they make seems resonate with the insiders of any given sport.  Given the company’s size, this level of ‘getting it’ is pretty spectacular.

Can’t wait for June 11th.

How I Did It: Jerry Murrell, Five Guys Burgers & Fries

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Jerry Murrell, founder of the astonishingly good Five Guys Burgers & Fries, talks to Inc.’s Liz Welch:

The magic to our hamburgers is quality control. We toast our buns on a grill — a bun toaster is faster, cheaper, and toasts more evenly, but it doesn’t give you that caramelized taste. Our beef is 80 percent lean, never frozen, and our plants are so clean, you could eat off the floor. The burgers are made to order — you can choose from 17 toppings. That’s why we can’t do drive-throughs — it takes too long. We had a sign: “If you’re in a hurry, there are a lot of really good hamburger places within a short distance from here.” People thought I was nuts. But the customers appreciated it. […]

When we first opened, the Pentagon called and said, “We want 15 hamburgers; what time can you deliver?” I said, “What time can you pick them up? We don’t deliver.” There was an admiral running the place. So he called me up personally and said, “Mr. Murrell, everyone delivers food to the Pentagon.” Matt and I got a 22-foot-long banner that said ABSOLUTELY NO DELIVERY and hung it in front of our store. And then our business from the Pentagon picked up.

The entire interview is just fantastic.  There’s a Five Guys about a half hour from the MIPRO offices, and it’s worth every bit of the drive.

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