Five things for the week of October 7.

It’s Monday and the week is already racing forward while I try to play catch up. I made it to and from Chicago for a conference over the end of last week, and it was a total blast. Chicago is an amazing city I’m going to have to spend more time in, for sure!

Here’s a few quick hits to get your week off to the right start:

1. Bad or Good Ad Strategy? You decide. Basically, new research insights are giving marketers the ability to prey on consumers (specifically female ones) when (e.g., Monday AM’s are when female body images are weaker) they are most vulnerable. I’m intrigued by the research, to be sure, but I’m not sure if the ethics of application are agreeable. What’s your take?

2. Sagrada Familia 2026. Maybe someday the Barcelona cathedral will be finished? This new visualization helps showcase how close (or far?) from completion things are and what the expected final product will be like.

3. Everything we eat affects everything. I’ve been saying this for years, thanks to lots of help from Naturopathics and the like, but I think this is a good article worth a read by everyone who thinks “nah, I’m fine!”

4. Malcolm Gladwell: David & Goliath. I’m soooo excited to read his new book, and it make it even more tantalizing, I was lucky enough to see Malcolm Gladwell speak as part of the keynote at the conference in Chicago last week. In case you are interested in more about the book (and less about me being awestruck at one of my author idols), here’s a great (short) review of the book from Freakonomics.

5. Food & Wine Pairing Cheat Sheet. My suggestion: when in doubt, who cares what you pair! But, keep this handy to impress guests.

Five things for the week of January 28.

This past weekend I was in London, ON for an academic conference. It was great to experience a room full of incredibly smart and talented people and gain a better appreciation for the academic marketing community. Not to mention, there were great presentations on cool topics people are working on. It was  a nice interlude to the ongoing academic semester.

Speaking of academics, I’ve been using three (FREE) new tools to help work smarter, and I thought I’d share them with you so you can work smarter, too! And, to round out the list, a new Google tool and a good post of tips for winter cycling. (Yes, I’m still cycling, kind of. It’s a bit weather dependent.)

1. Flux. We are all looking at screens way too much, and there is plenty of research that shows we should all be putting the laptops down much earlier than we really do. I know that brining my laptop to bed so I can cuddle up with Netflix isn’t a great habit, but what’s a gal to do? Install Flux on your laptop and it will adjust the screen brightness to match sunset so that you’re screen isn’t bright “blue” at night, but mimics a natural warm light.

2. Jumpcut. Ever copy something off a web page or document but forget to paste right away? Jumpcut is the coolest tool to help at times like that: it stores up to 40 cut or copy actions so that you can insert those items ages after you meant to insert them. It might sound silly, but I guarantee the next time you are doing some writing or clipping a bunch of different quotes from a page, this will make life much easier.

3. RescueTime. This simple (note: there is a more high quality paid version if you want) tracker will keep a running log of all the apps, programs, webpages etc that you use so that you can categorize activities and discover what things suck away your time. Weekly email summaries help you determine overall productivity levels.

4. Google Flights. Google now has a way for you to search flights across destinations, dates and prices. It’s the coolest way to hunt for a vacation (especially when you have no money for said vacation…). Anyway, check it out when you are planning your next trip.

5. Biking in the winter.  This post is a good reminder of the extra steps any cyclist willing to battle the elements should take to stay warm and safe. I’ve been wearing a new thermal headband under my helmet and some heavy-duty gloves in addition to thermal long johns (Joe Fresh makes an affordable set) to stay warm. I personally refuse to cycle in snow, so I limit myself to dry roads and temps above -10 Celsius. Stay safe!

Have a great week!

Five things for the week of April 30.

Hi! Happy almost May. Here’s what’s up this week.

1. [article] A crazy man and his Match.com dates. This weirdo kept a very detailed spreadsheet of his Match.com dates. That’s a bit effed up. Of course *eye roll* he works in fiance. Now, I’m not one to talk, as I log all kinds of information in spreadsheets (I used to track every receipt I had, but thank goodness Mint.com came along), but this takes the cake. I mean, if you’ve got to log the information in order to keep track of it, you’re trying to hard. Here’s more of the story, including an interview with “Dave” the datahead.

2. [person] Sir Ken Robinson. I’ve been an advocate of his TED.com talks for a while now, and I was really excited to find out a few months ago that he’d been booked for a conference in Halifax this past Monday (April 23). His keynote address was fantastic. He’s the kind of speaker that could happily talk all day long; it’s evident he practices what he preaches.

3.  [website] As you Like Like it. This is a tumblr account I discovered through Jessie Rosen’s blog, and it’s quickly becoming a hilarious and interesting addition to my RSS feed. I can’t decide if the author is male or female, but I’m leaning on male. Check it out for funny observations on “the complexities of liking someone”. I should note, it’s not always safe for work.

4. [article] Justifying my existence as a marketer, one article at a time. Loving the simple illustrations that this Forbes.com contributor uses in all her pieces. Especially loving that this post focuses on the fact that marketing is “the perfect crime”:

Messaging, marketing, and personal actions (criminal or not) are simple human behaviors. We all want need to be in the right place with the right message at the right time. It’s as true for meeting your soul mate as it is for meeting your quarterly sales goals.

5. [fact] Did you know that Nick Offerman is married to Megan Mullally? Yep. Here’s that fun fact, and a few others relating to the man behind Ron Swanson, one of tv’s best characters, imo.

Marketing DID eat our culture!

As an avid CBC Radio listener, I’m extremely familiar with the comforting and warm voice of Terry O’Reilly. As the host of the regular half-hour show, “The Age of Persuasion”, a segment that analyzes the effect of marketing on society, both past and present, I’ve come to learn a lot about the history of persuasion through advertising.
I was positive that this book would be enjoyable based on what I already knew about the author. I already feel like I know the author personally due to the hours I’ve logged just listening to his radio show.
And, I was right! This book was an enjoyable historical account of advertising and marketing, and I highly recommend reading it for both it’s historical context and as a primer on everything you’d ever want to know about advertising.
Everyone outside of the advertising profession has “theories” about advertising – how it works, if it works, why it works (or doesn’t work). Why? Because it’s fascinating and controversial, and it’s present everywhere we look. In this book, Terry, and his silent partner-in-crime Mike Tennant, seamlessly weave together a story with historical accounts, personal anecdotes and their own thoughts on the trends of today to help both the seasoned professional and the average Joe understand that the line between marketing and mainstream culture didn’t just become blurred – it’s always been blurred.
The most fascinating sections for me personally were chapters five and six. I think that most millennial aged readers would also agree. In fact, they were so interesting that I wish I could talk to the authors personally about these specific bits of the book.
Chapter five details the rise of the viral video and chapter six talks about strategic guerrilla marketing effort; two avenues of marketing that whether consciously or unconsciously, we’re subject to through brand experiences every single day. Even with my own professional experience in advertising, I know that videos go viral only when they are extremely “shareable” – they are so cool that everyone wants to pass it around. Videos don’t become “viral” in nature because someone at the agency strategized that it would, as the authors seem to suggest. And, creative guerrilla tactics that create spectacles in ways that traditional advertising cannot are, according to the authors, best if the “little guy” executes them – the “big guys” always take the flack for trampling on the toes of someone with a smaller marketing budget. But, I think there are great examples of the “big guy” going guerrilla out there, too.
Have you read The Age of Persuasion? If so, what was your take?

The power of one.

Last week I read this article on the growing purchasing power and influence singles have in the marketplace.

Some highlights:

  • Singles spent 2.2 trillion in 2008 – 35% of all consumer spending, equaling a 30% increase over 2003.
  • Direct single targeting, beyond “dating services” is not happening, according to the experts. “Singles are underserved by various brands”.
  • Singles, when featured in advertising, are often depicted as “yearning, pathetic, or not even there”, according to Blogger of LivingSingle, Bella DePaulo.
  • Ads that feature singles will reinforce stereotypes – partiers (singles in ads for alcohol brands), on the prowl (dating services, men’s grooming products – Axe, anyone? – or for gum and mints, promising minty breath for romantic encounters).
  • Chains like Crate & Barrel, Target and Williams-Sonoma have acknowledged trend changes with available gift registry options of “housewarming”, “birthdays”, and “graduations”.
  • The Real Estate market now is actively seeking singles as home purchases by couples dropped from 79% in ‘87 to 60%  in ‘09. Single women accounted for 21% of home purchases (up from 10%).
  • Contrary to the typical profile of singles wanting to be urbanites, a survey found that 52% of singles who had purchased homes, purchased in the suburbs.

It’s interesting to see where single-driven marketing goes – think of the number of products, from vacuums to dishwashers to cars, that are all consumed by singles, but most advertising features a mix of families and couples. I’m not sure if I believe in the need for completely single-focused advertisements, but the information is compelling. I know there are lots of creative strategies that are left uncovered because this information is just starting to surface in consumer research, and I’m positive that single-driven ads can be much more compelling than, “Hi. You’re single, and that’s sad. But, hey, why don’t you buy our product?”

I sent this article around to some friends, curious for their reactions, and one came back with the following comments:

Really interesting! I can picture some good uses of singles marketing, but generally don’t think it’ll catch on. Although the article says some are “happily never married”, I would guess most people do want a partner/marriage at some point. Therefore seeing couples, even though it can be nauseating, is an aspiration. That’s why we like good looking models – thin women with big breasts and big men with ripped abs in ads – because part of us wants to be them. Showing a ‘normal’ person might wouldn’t have the same appeal… I do love the idea of more services and products targeting singles, and these would require ads…

I see value in being targeted as a single, because I am a single person. But, is it better to be targeted as a “single”, or as a single with the promise of a “happily-ever after”, as so many products do?

The jury’s out on this, but in the meantime, here’s an ad that is in no way targeted at singles, but is completely enjoyable. (Toyota Swagger Wagon)