Best Amusement Park for Kids and Families

Idlewild and SoakZone Best Park for Kids & Families

All of us at BrandMill are happy to report that one of our super clients – Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, PA (about an hour drive from Pittsburgh) – is now open and operating its 134th season of summer fun and has made a huge splash with its new water park attraction, “Wowabunga” Family Wave Pool.

New Wowabunga Family Wave Pool


Wowabunga features intermittent waves suitable for both younger and older guests as well as a “beach” area perfect for guests looking to soak up the summer sun. See awe-inspiring cirque entertainment all summer long at Cirque Extreme – Under the Big Top and enjoy the following special events – all included with the price of admission – and with free picnicking too:

  • June 13 – 17 & June 20 – 24 – BOGO Days
  • June 19 – Firefighter/EMS Family Appreciation Day
  • June 27 – July 3 – Showcase of Stars
  • July 4 – Fireworks
  • July 5 -8 – Antique & Classic Car Show and Parade
  • July 11 – 15 – Mister Rogers’ Neighbor Days
  • July 18 – 22 – Meet the Marvel Comic Super Heroes (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America)
  • July 25 -29 – Christmas In July
  • July 31 – Cheerleading Competition
  • August 12 – Italian Day Festa
  • August 22 – 26 – Car Load Days
  • October – Hallowboo!

For more details, check out this recent video on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE featuring Park Spokesperson Jeff Croushore.

About Idlewild & ZoakZone

Founded in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. In addition, it is rated the best kid’s park in the world by Amusement Today magazine and the best park for families by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Idlewild features seven fun theme areas such as SoakZone Waterpark, Story Book Forest and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Seasonal operations run through Labor Day and “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, takes place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family which hosts over 13 million visitors annually at 40 locations across the country.  With 8 theme parks, 11 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers, Palace is the largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers in the nation. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit and


A Butt Face Marketing Lesson

I just love this lawsuit kicked off by The North Face – an premium preppy outdoor apparel and gear company – vs. The South Butt – a skunk works operation run by a college kid.

The North Face giant is suing the kid – Jimmy Winkelmann, a University of Missouri college student for trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition.

The logos and clothing are a bit similar. And, The North Face’s lofty slogan, “Never Stop Exploring” is positioned against the far less lofty and comfortable mission of The South Butt’s which is, “Never Stop Relaxing.”

For The North Face to win, they have to prove that the two brands are confusingly similar. They’ll lose…I’d bet on it. There’s no doubt that the two companies are different.  I think the average person knows the difference between a face and a butt. Don’t you?

In the meantime, The South Butt is smoking hot and taking advantage of being bullied – their Web site has earned nearly 20 million Google hits.  The South Butt smartly recognized that everyone loves the underdog so they’re making the case well known. And they’ve launched a cool The South Butt Challenge Facebook App to boot!

Jimmy’s going to ride this all the way to the bank and I’ll also bet that he graduates from Mizzou with no school loans!

What’s the marketing lesson? Well, it’s an old and simple one.

The North Face should have left sleeping dogs lie and left Jimmy alone.  They’re flaming his fire and contributing to his success by airing their grievance.

This is a classic case of market share leaders making the stupid mistake of identifying and attacking competitors no matter how big or small.  They have nothing to gain and more to lose.

Class dismissed.


The Kids Are Alright Part II

In an earlier post, I reported that it was great to see the Gen Y kids driving the tremendous outpouring of financial support for Haiti relief via texting.

I’m happy to report that the American Red Cross “Text ‘Haiti’ to 90999” campaign has raised $24 million to date. See the DMNews story here.

Think about this campaign for a moment. It has achieved some amazing accomplishments – in a short period of time – since this devastating earthquake hit Haiti just last week on January 12th:

  • $24 million has been raised via $10 individual donations to help the Haitian people – 1/5th of the amount the American Red Cross has raised to date – breaking all records by a huge  margin.  Reference note: After Hurricane Katrina – a mere 4.5 years ago – the ARC only received $120,000 via texting – and Katrina occurred on American soil!
  • The ARC has built a valuable mobile text database for future marketing communications and financial appeal efforts
  • The ARC’s core donor base skews older and texting gave the Gen Y folks an easy, quick and convenient channel to offer their support (marketing lesson – treat different people differently)
  • The campaign execution of  the ARC and its mobile firm partner mGive was flawless – amazing too – considering the fact that they started to work on the texting campaign the evening of the earthquake
  • The viral goodwill spread of the “Text ‘HAITI’ to 90999” campaign in Social Media channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (100K tweets/retweets)

I’m far from being in the Gen Y segment, but I did text a donation to the ARC and will tell you that it was easy for me to participate. As important, I felt comfortable donating because of the supportive and reinforcing messages I saw on TV news and various high profile broadcasts such as the NFL playoffs and the Golden Globes.

Also, after texting the shortcode “HAITI” to 90999, I was asked me to respond “yes” to confirm my donation and then I received a nice comforting thank you too – nice touch.

This overwhelmingly positive experience led me to spread the ARC’s good word and to feel more comfortable using this channel in the future.

Strong brand promise, ease, convenience, simple message and trust are the hallmarks of success for the ARC’s texting campaign and they could be put to good use for your brand’s future success too.

Photo by CollectiveGood.


The Kids Are Alright

If you think young people these days are inconsiderate, selfish, concerned with only themselves and wear their “pants on the ground“…think again.

Soon after the devastating Haiti earthquake hit, @RedCross tweeted: “You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in #haiti.”

Kudos to the Red Cross marketing folks for being prepared (excellent online disaster newsroom) and recognizing the fundraising opportunity available to them in this terrible time of crisis.

And, much more kudos to the kids that drove this “texting bus” because they’re the ones credited with leading this Red Cross effort which has raised over $10 million for the cause since this record breaking mobile fundraiser was launched last Tuesday.

This is a great example of using technology to build rather than destroy.

Watch text marketing grow from this effort and put in on your list of things to test for your business too!

P.S.: Here is a list of 8 ways you can help Haiti by texting:

  1. Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
  2. Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
  3. Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
  4. Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
  5. Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
  6. Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
  7. Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
  8. Text RELIEF to 30644 (to connect with Catholic Relief Services who will instruct you how to donate money with your credit card)

…the 9th way to help is to pray.


Do You Sell Black Cows

blackcow CANDYWhen I was a kid, my friends and I rarely had any money to spend on stuff like candy, pop and comic books at a little grocery store in called Luzier’s in Westwood – the 28th Ward of Pittsburgh.

However, from time to time, in our travels through people’s backyards and back alley’s we’d find old pop bottles which were worth two cents! And, if we’d collect enough through our pooled earnings we’d have enough to buy something at the store. Let me tell you, with an empty Coke bottle worth two cents, that special something at Luzier’s better be worth it and have lots of value.

For us, that special something was nearly always a Black Cow sucker!


Black Cows had a simple value proposition.  They tasted great and lasted a long, long time and cost a nickel – just two and half empty Coke bottles!

Black Cows were like a long flat Sugar Daddy (only BETTER) covered with a thick layer of dark chocolate on a stick.  You could do a variety of enjoyable and disgusting kid things with a Black Cow when it was in your mouth – you could lick it, gnaw on it, suck it, chew it, twist it around and more.  Plus, you couldn’t eat it with your mouth closed so its word-of-mouth value was huge too.

Believe me, if you were knocking back a Black Cow, anyone near you knew it first hand because it wasn’t something easy to disguise. And, another great thing about Black Cows was that once you bit into one it was impossible to share – another great kid feature.  Net – Black Cows were exceptionally kid friendly.

I’m not sure if they still sell Black Cows, but I wonder if you offer one at your business.

That is, do you offer products and/or services of high value and do you offer a unique experience too?

I’ve been a big fan of Seth Godin’s over the years and love his Purple Cow lessons too.

However, if you offer a Purple Cow and a Black Cow, you’d really be on to something awesome!

Remember, your value equation is simply the quality of the experience you provide divided by your price.

Create and sell Black Cows and Purple Cows too!


Pittsburgh Penguins Mobile Into Stanley Cup Finals

180pxiceburgh As the Penguins smacked the Fliers into submission today with a 6-0 victory, and are moving onto the Stanley Cup finals, I thought you’d find interesting how they’re scoring with mobile marketing off the ice.

I couldn’t link to the AdAge story (buy a subscription here- hint), so here it is in its entirety.

Penguins Sell Tickets via Cellphone Alerts
Team Scores With Effort to Sell Empty Seats, Now Trying Contests, Updates

Jeremy Mullman

Published: April 21, 2008

CHICAGO ( — Several major marketers have found themselves
stonewalled when it comes to measurable and effective uses for mobile
technology, but a National Hockey League team is scoring big with a
text-messaging program.

Hot ticket:
Fans of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins form around-the-block lines when
discounted seats are advertised via text message.

Faced with persistently unsold tickets and a bevy of would-be attendees
priced out of the action at area colleges, the Pittsburgh Penguins in
2006 started sending news of available, severely discounted seats to
college kids on the mornings of home games. The messages noted how many
tickets were unsold, letting students know if they needed to camp out
all day to get one of a few available, or if tickets were ample enough
that they’d be available at the booth just before the puck was dropped.

Get ’em while they’re young
Jeremy Zimmer, the team’s
director of new media, said the promotion helped fill otherwise empty
seats and strengthened the Penguins’ bond with students it hopes will
grow up to become season-ticket holders. "We want to engage them while
they’re young, and get them excited about the team early," he said.
"This was a great way to do that."

The around-the-block lines of students waiting to buy $100
tickets for $20 on some days proved as much, but the Penguins — who
feature two of the NHL’s top young stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni
Malkin — improved enough this season that every game sold out on its
own, leaving the division-leading team searching for a new way to reach
out to younger fans.

So the team tapped mobile agency Vibes Media to run a series
of contests and giveaways via cellphone. In one, it promised to give
away a puck autographed by Mr. Crosby on the young star’s 21st

Messages went out to 2,000 subscribers, and 1,800 replied for a shot at
the signed puck within the first hour. "That response shows that we’re
tapping a fan base that’s just rabid," said Michael Cahan, Vibes’
director-sports and media.

The Penguins also offered a mobile program aimed at its
general fan base, sending team news alerts, including game recaps and
each game’s three stars (a nightly hockey honor awarded after most TV
broadcasts end) to 20,000 fans this year, compared with 8,000 a year

The team has yet to tap the channel as a major new source of
sponsorship revenue just yet, but that may be coming. Pizza Hut has
sponsored some of the alerts and has also delivered free pizzas to fans
camping out for a shot at text-promoted tickets.