Idlewild & SoakZone Opens 137th Season with Daniel Tiger

idlewild-daniel-tiger-wtae-pittsburghHere’s a nice PR piece we earned for one of our favorite clients and places – Idlewild & SoakZone – which recently appeared on Pittsburgh’s ABC Affiliate WTAE-TV.

The Park’s coverage discusses the highlights of its 137th season, its 4th consecutive Golden Ticket Award for being recognized as the Best Kids Park in the World by the readers of Amusement Today Magazine. And, a new Daniel Tiger Meet & Greet attraction – be sure to check out the Park this season – http://www.idlewild.com/

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Super Bowl Ads Fumble Every Year

fumble-footballEvery year when the Super Bowl rolls around, I’m offended by the ‘professionals’  in my industry who kickoff campaigns at this time. Granted, from a media efficiency standpoint the Super Bowl is a pretty decent investment. On a per-person basis, the cost of a commercial in the big game is virtually the same price as a 30-second primetime  weekday commercial throughout the year.

My problem is that the overwhelming majority of commercials fumble when they simply try to shock or make viewers laugh with no regard to motivating them to buy. And, few have ever built market share or earned a significant return on investment.

It’s no wonder at all to me why the C-suite of executives lack respect for the marketing function. Shame on us marketing folk and shame on the ego driven brand executives who approve this rubbish.

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Pittsburgh’s Most Memorable TV Commercials

For a fun upcoming story, Managing Editor Jen Curry of  the Pittsburgh Business Times is asking for people’s most memorable Pittsburgh commercial.

So, we decided to take a few nostalgic minutes and come up with our own list.

Madison Avenue has got nothing on the Mad Men and Women of Pittsburgh.

Here’s our take – #1 – no question:

  1. Kennywood Park‘s new Raging Rapids with Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Jack Lambert and broadcaster Myron Cope
  2. Mr Yuk PSA Commercial by Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital in 1971-  scared the heck out of kids.  Here’s a backgrounder.
  3. Eat N Park Christmas Tree – sweet
  4. Joe Said it Would – WTAE-TV Weatherman Joe DiNardo – early 90s – lots of news stations would compete hard with these kinds of commercials featuring broadcast teams and especially weathermen – DiNardo was a Pittsburgh Institution – retired in 1994 – 35 year tenure
  5. KDKA-AM Radio’s K-TEAM John Cigna Commercials here and here
  6. Winky’s – two famous lines – “There’s no Winky’s in Wilmerding’ and ‘Winky’s Makes You Happy to Be Hungry’ – my old boss created these – competed with McDonald’s and others – Big Wink was their ‘Big Mac’
  7. Pittsburgh Pirates Commercial
  8. Iron City Beer – Olympics –  – long version – personal bias – friends Jon Kasunic and Tom Megalis perform and produce
  9. Iron City Beer – Pump an Iron
  10. Iron City Beer – You Can’t Keep an Iron Man Down
  11. IC Light Beer – Gimme the Night Gimme an IC Light – The World’s First Light Beer Ever

Note – Two area hospital commercials I could not find on YouTube were:

  • Children’s Hospital –’Be Glad You Have Children’s’ Campaign and,
  • UPMC’s, ‘Choose a Hospital as if Your Life Depended on it’

Two great campaigns.

And, here are a few ad campaigns that were not locally produced in Pittsburgh, but have significant Pittsburgh ties:

Finally, we tip our hat to home grown Joe Pytka of Braddock, PA who is without a doubt the best television commercial producer EVER!

Among his many award-winning achievements, Joe produced: Bo Knows, Larry and Michael, Michael Jackson Pepsi, This is Your Brain on Drugs and more!

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15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day

As a 50 percenter of Irish blood and a serial marketing professional, I thought I’d offer you dear reader, my 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day to help you find your little pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow!

And, I’ll offer them quickly because I shouldn’t even be working this hard today as I’m 17 days away from – and preparing for – St. Patrick’s Day which is one of my many “high holy days” – and there’s a Guinness pint with my name of it at my favorite Pittsburgh Irish pub (Riley’s Pour House) and it’s getting warm! So here you go!

1. Green Marketing Lesson One – Making Money. Always keep money (making it or saving it) front and center of any marketing campaign. If you know anything about the Irish (and I do growing up in a large extended family), the majority have experienced challenging economic times and know the value of a dollar. So, incorporating zero based budgeting into your marketing processes will help you become more creative and help you do a lot more for less. 

2. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Sustainability. These days when you hear brands talk about sustainability, it’s related to the environment, but the basic pure definition of sustainability is “the capacity to endure.” Using the same color in your marketing communications reinforces your brand, makes your marketing work harder for you and enables your marketing to endure.

3. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Color. Design and color can help you communicate a great deal. Red – hot, stop; Blue – cool. etc., Keep in mind that all colors also come in a great deal of shades so don’t be boring and predictable.  Green has about 50 unique shades.

4. Create Multi-Sensory Emotional Appeals (e.g., appeal to people’s five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). In a prior post about, “Marketing with Sound,” I discussed the awesome power of sound, but you should also consider all of the ways you can appeal to your customer’s five senses. St. Patrick’s Day appeals them all with color, strong visuals of parades, people having fun; taste of ethnic foods like corned beef and cabbage and drink (pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson) etc.,

5. Appeal to One’s Ethnic Heritage. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to people’s ethnic heritage – net, different strokes for different folks.  In fact, it’s a growing and popular strategy due to our mobile society, immigration, single parent households etc.

Some of this strategy’s keys to success include knowing your market well, being aware of unique cultural nuances, being respectful etc.  Disney’s Epcot Theme Park’s World Showcase is a great example of ethnic marketing, but Denny’s Restaurants’ old Pancake promotion is not.

6. Be Inclusive with Your Marketing. As much of an Irish heritage appeal the holiday provides, St. Patrick’s Day is all-inclusive and welcomes everyone to celebrate – everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

7. Special Event/Thematic/Celebration/Holiday Marketing. Giving a unique thematic association to your marketing messages makes it easier for your customers to understand you and more immediately recognize you too. Tie-ing in to a major holiday celebration gives your promotion authenticity and a “reason why” you’re holding a sales event.

8. Limited Time Appeal.
Having a hard date against a campaign creates urgency, excitement and traffic. Pretty obvious statement, but many marketers leave far too many campaigns without a clear end date and a sense of urgent appeal.

9. Spokesperson/figurehead/celebrity/image appeal. Having a Saint as your celebrity figurehead ain’t too shabby, but it’s the consistency of using the same appealing celebrity with a unique story is what works.

10. Iconic Marketing – Shamrock – brand, sell, profit. Mickey Mouse’s Ears, Ronald McDonald’s big red shoes, McDonald’s Arches and more.

Shamrocks do the same for today’s holiday – it’s the day’s badge of honor and identification. What’s your badge ID?

11. Rule of Threes. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the common Shamrock to teach the Celtic Pagans about the unique Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – 3 in 1 Godhead.

However, the “rule of three” symbolism in the good man’s teaching is relevant today as well because people’s minds are noisy and limited. Using the rule of three enables you to get them to remember you and buy-in a presentation or product mix selection. Small, medium, large; gold, silver, bronze; 3 bears; 3 blind mice; 3 Stooges (see more examples/proof here) – trust me – the rule of three rocks.

12. Be Positive. You won’t find a more positive group of people that the Irish. Despite all of their “Troubles” who else tells you that you can find a pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow? At Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past Saturday, people throughout the day referred to the cold constant rain as nothing more, “a little Irish mist!”

13. Be Nice. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer bunch of people than the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day too.

14. Have fun and don’t take yourself so seriously. In this age of “political correctness” the Irish are for the most part a happy and fun bunch and most Irish demeaning jokes bounce of them like water on a duck.

15. Plan Your Luck by Working Hard. In my opinion, “the luck of the Irish” is based on hard work – simple as that. You’ve probably heard the saying, the harder you work the luckier you get!” Well, its true. The majority of Irish are no strangers to hard work and I believe – all things being equal – people that work harder and smarter than their peers will meet with more profitable success in a shorter period of time.

Got to run, my pint is getting warm.

Slan (Gaelic for “farewell for now”)!

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Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Sprint PCS Immaculate Reception Billboard

I’m so looking forward to tomorrow, December 23 because its the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Immaculate Reception. I was 10 years old and was listening to the Steelers Raiders football game on the radio (local broadcast was blacked out) and heard the news LIVE!

What a thrilling end to a game that propelled the Steelers to future greatness. In addition, this single play would change a city and would forever be immortalized as the greatest NFL play in history!

Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Ranking just as high on my list of favorite Steelers memories, was back in December 1997 when as the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for Sprint PCS, I came up with an idea to help us more effectively communicate our digital ‘call clarity’ position.

Sprint’s Immaculate Reception Print Ad

You guessed correctly – it was also around the same time as the 25th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

To clearly position our new wireless phone service in a hyper competitive wireless phone market, I searched and found a high profile customer (football great Franco Harris) whose testimonial and personal brand matched up perfectly with Brand Sprint.

The marriage between Franco’s most famous play in football and Sprint’s unique selling proposition of digital call clarity, helped drive favorable awareness, considerable store traffic and effectively communicated our unique product positioning (the first and only digital phone service in the market). And, the timing was perfect.  The 25th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception coincided perfectly with our new product launch.

Franco Harris and Stephen Wayhart
25th Anniversary of Immaculate Reception
1997 Commercial Photo Shoot

Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of building brands, and Franco’s testimonial helped us to effectively pull together a strong brand building and sales effort.

Our strategy was so on target that Sprint PCS realized record store traffic and sales.

Now 15 years later, I’m proud to say our campaign – like Franco’s famous catch – has been immortalized by the NFL Network in its feature film A Football Life – The Immaculate Reception.

Click here to watch the entire video of the Show and be sure to check out the mark at 31:57 to 32:04 to see one of our ads!

Happy Anniversary Franco and thanks for the memories!

P.S.: See Case Study here. Also, many thanks to my boss Doug Cotton for giving the idea a ‘thumbs up.!’ And to photographer Harry Giglio, designers Kathy Kendra, Mark Power; Mike Cusick Sprint Director of Sales; and Sprint marketing partner Maria D’Abruzzo.

Click here to see a super video treatment of the 40th Anniversary Celebration and marker unveiling of the Immaculate Reception from Steelers.Com

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60 Free Local Business Online Directories

A great profitable step to take on your way to total local market domination is to take advantage of all of the FREE and EASY ways to help customers find you.

Forget the old days of advertising in the Yellow Pages with a ‘big ad is better’ mentality. If you’re still a believer in that strategy, you’re just going to lose your hard earned money – maybe even your business – a little bit faster.

As a local business – small or large – attracting new customers will always be a challenge so you need to work hard to keep your name profitably visible.

For the majority of people today, opening up a local Yellow Pages book to find a business is an outdated, antiquated – if not non-existent – method for of search!

Today, we simply Google to find your business – and you better be there at the top of the page!

Today, there’s a great, free and easy way for local businesses to get found on the Web and that is, by completing their profiles in online directories  and claiming their turf. And, it seems these directories continue to pop up online.

It’s pretty simple to add a listing, but if you’re only listing with Google – as powerful as it is – you’re missing out on lots of opportunities to get found by people who are interested NOW in what you’re selling.

Did you know that 82% of local internet searches follow-up offline with an in-store visit, phone call or purchase? Well, it’s true.  In fact, check out this Local Web Infographic for more insights.

Every online directory you submit your Business to gives you one more chance to step up to the plate and hit a home run with your customers.

Over the past few year or so, we’ve come across over 60 free online directories to date (see below), and wish you much success in using the list to help you get found.  If you come across any others, please let us know so we can add to our list.

60 A to Z and Free Local Business Online Directories

AOL Patch SitesAmerican TownsAxciomBest Deals onBest of the Web
BingBizJournals.comBiznikBrownbookChoiceVendor.com (TBD – bought by LinkedIn)
CitySearchCitySlickCitySquaresCityVoterDex
Discover our TownFoursquareGenieknowsGoogle PlacesHopStop
HotfrogInfignosInfoUSAJudysbookJustclicklocal
 Kudzu LinkedInLocal.comLocalCompanySearchLocalEze
Localndex.comLocal Pages Local Site SubmitMagic YellowMapquest
 Manta MatchPoint Merchant CircleMetrobotMojoPages
 MyhuckleberryNavteq GPSOutside.inRelyLocalShowMeLocal
Supermedia
(Yellow Pages)
TeleAtlasThinkLocalTopixTwibs
UsCity.netUSYellowPagesWhitepagesYahoo!Yellowassistance
 YellowbookYellowbotYellowPages.comYelpZiplocal
ZipwebTravelocity*UrbanSpoon**Note:HospitalityAngies List – Service Providers

Here are three final key points.

First, to see where you rank now, go to this GetListed.Org link.

Second, you might get tired filling in all of these online directory forms, so check out Firefox’s Auto-Fill add-on link to help save you some time.

Third, if you still don’t have the time to complete online directories for your business/es and keep them up-to-date,  check out companies like BrandMill or others such as Yext.Com who will charge you a small fee to keep you updated in online directories.

Good luck in getting found more often!

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The Marketing Man Who Hates Advertising

The headline in this post comes from a comment that great client and friend of ours said about me a few years ago.

And, he’s repeated it to me on a few other occasions too.

He said, “As someone who’s been in marketing as long as you, why do you hate advertising so much?”

I answered – and continue to defend myself – that it’s not that I hate advertising, it’s just that I hate bad advertising that’s created to try extort people into believing in or buying unremarkable products and services.

It simply doesn’t work. And, it gives my profession a bad name.

Remember…if you put perfume on a pig…it’s still a pig!

The facts support my argument that there has been a crisis going on in mass media for years and most advertisers simply continue to do the same sad things over and over again.  That is, they spend too much money on TV advertising when they should invest those dollars in creating remarkable high-value products and services.

For example consider these facts*:

  • Only 14% of people trust advertising
  • Only 18% of television commercials achieve a positive return on investment
  • The average ROI is just 54 cents per every dollar spent on TV ads

Now, let’s talk about the biggest joke and general waste of advertising dollars – the Super Bowl.

Just another advertising effort that gives my profession a bad name.

I dread tomorrow listening to all of the so-called Advertising experts and pundits on the national news and talk shows discussing which ad was ‘cute and funny.”  Ugh!

For years, I’ve said that advertising on the Super Bowl is a waste of money. It still is a waste.

Back in 2008, E-Trade premiered commercials during Super Bowl XLII featuring a talking baby (the now infamous E-Trade Baby) in front of a Webcam pontificating about investing and finance in an adult voice. The campaign continued into the Super Bowl XLIII piling on with communications on other channels such Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

And, it continues to this day. Why?

It has to be because it’s ‘cute and funny‘ because it hasn’t done anything to build sales and/or turn around its stock price.

For proof, check out this screen capture I took last night comparing the Dow Jones average (blue)  vs. Schwab (green) and E-Trade (red).  Still laughing?

Now back in 2008, I predicted that the E-Trade baby would rock in advertising recall and likeability and I was proven right. The 2008 E-Trade baby Super Bowl ad campaign earned high marks of 7th most liked, 3rd and 8th most recalled.

However, after the premiere of the E-Trade Baby campaign, I cautioned clients that now that the seed is planted, the E-Trade brand needs to ‘show and tell’ how it has helped real people more effectively perform with personal investing.  They would need to show proof! And, to this day I say, “Where’s the proof?”

There is none and that’s one big reason why their stock is performing poorly vs. other averages. The E-Trade marketing folks must be getting away with this charade by saying, “But, look at our Ad recall numbers! Look at how many golfers know the word ‘shankapotomus.‘ 

To that rationale, I say, “Who cares!”

We do a ton of hospitality work. And, I bet you that we’d drive huge recall numbers by putting a dead body in the front window of any one of our restaurants with a banner stating, “People are dying to dine here!” I’d also bet that sales would rapidly fall.

There’s an old saying that, ‘The only person who likes change is a wet baby.’

I agree and also agree that the E-Trade campaign (and possibly product/service too) needs to be changed if it ever hopes to have happy investors.

Enjoy the game and make efficient use of your day today by getting a something to eat or drink or go to the bathroom during the commercial breaks.

*Source: Justin Kirby & Paul Marsden (2006).  Connected marketing.  Oxford, UK:  Butterworth-Heinemann. xix

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You Need to Go on a Digital Diet

Heading into last November, with 5,000+ emails in my inbox, and lots of projects in my queue (as a result of a successful year and great prospects for a banner year in 2012) I decided to go on a ‘Digital Diet.’ I’m happy to report that I’m still living and breathing and more successful and happy than I was last fall.

Taking a 30,000 feet look (digital media intervention) at all of the media channels I was engaged in such as my client work, objectives and goals (professional, personal and my happiness index), I started to purge a ton of digital media from my diet that was making me ill, constipated, lethargic, chubby and slow.

I worked hard to ‘detox my inbox’ by purging select eNewsletters, and various marketing blogs from my diet as well as some people I followed (at least tried to)  on Twitter because I found there to be too much noise on my channel and I was missing out on some real good stuff. Yes, I ‘fired’ some Twitter folks I was following who were following me – a little tough love was needed. There are several more digital things I stopped gorging myself with and one big thing I dropped was Blog posting to my own BrandMill site and decided to simply ‘listen and observe’ for a few months.

Silly me. I thought the clever term “Digital Diet” was all mine for awhile until I discovered – as I often do – that I’m not all that smart and that there already was an excellent book on how to take a Digital Diet by Daniel Sieberg which will help you – it sure has helped me.

Read the book – it’s a  good one that offers a 4-step plan to break your digital addiction and give you more balance in your life.

I feel a lot lighter now and am much more happy.

And, while I’m happily back to Blogging (it helps attract new business), I plan to schedule a quarterly Digital Diet and complete Digital Fasts from time to time to keep my head and my pipes clean.

Try it you’ll like it!

P.S.: Have a little fun and compute your Virtual Weight Index (VMI) by clicking here.

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Target’s Super Black Friday Ad Campaign

Kudos to Target and its Ad Agency Weiden + Kennedy for their spot on Black Friday advertising campaign featuring this overly excited and anxious shopping FANatic.

And, file this effort in my “Darn I Wish I Did This Ad Campaign” folder.

Target is using 5 spots from last year (why not – who says an old great campaign can’t be re-engaged?) combined with another 30 online.  And, he talent casting, honest copy, imagery, sound and smart campaign integration (see all 35 videos) off and online is simply brilliant and off the charts.

It’s a great example of how ad campaigns should be run. Read Adweek’s take on it here.

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