A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

5 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Black Friday

There are two things that people do on Black Friday: get all your Christmas shopping done or hide in your home to avoid the crowds.  But for those who take advantage of the deals that kick off the holiday season, here are a few mobile apps that will help you identify where the deals are and even avoid the long lines at check-out.

Old Navy’s Snap Appy

Old Navy took their app to the next level and placed Old Navy logos around the store that are scannable. Once you scan them, you can unlock discounts and other surprises.  But even before you set food in the store, you can peruse through some of their most popular styles and upload some of your own once you get in the store.  And if a store runs out of a particular style or size, which can often happen on Black Friday, you can order it online right from your phone.

Fatwallet.com’s Black Friday

On Black Friday, shoppers are overloaded with thousands of choices from hundreds of stores. But the problem is, how do you decide who has the best deal?  Where do you get your new TV or toys for your kids?  This app sorts your choices by store or categories and even allows you to add filters to make your search easier such as brand, price, free shipping eligibity, and whether or not it is a door buster.  Before braving the hectic malls, this app prepares you to use your time wisely.

Amazon Deals

Whenever you are about to make a purchase, you cannot help but think, “Can I get this cheaper?  And with free shipping on Amazon?”  Even though there is an Amazon app, the Amazon Deals apps works especially well for Black Friday to track deals that are running out. Many stores will only have certain details in the early hours of the morning.  Instead of running to your nearest Best Buy to get the latest electronic and an even lower rate, Amazon Deals helps you pinpoint the discounts and purchase online.

ToysRUs

ToysRUs is notorious for its’ success, crowded lines, and sales on Black Friday.  This store will even open on Thanksgiving before the start of Black Friday just to handle the influx of people looking to purchase toys.  The app is vital for anyone who has to buy for a child.  The app lets you search by keyword or item, check out daily and weekly ads, and highlights the top sellers and new arrivals.  And the best part?  You can buy right from the app and avoid the store completely.

tgiBlackFriday

Though similar to Fatwallet.com’s app, this app will help you keep track of the deals you want to capitalize on.  Once again, you can search by store or categories, but the app shows you how many deals are available at each place and allows you to add items to a list.  Come Black Friday, you can knock out all your purchases much quicker and be aware of all the available details.

What are your plans for Black Friday?

80 Seconds Campaign

Did you know that every 80 seconds there is a house fire?  When I was younger, I had a tremendous fear of fires.  For some reason I was convinced that my house would catch on fire.  Fortunately, nothing like that ever happened, but many people aren’t as lucky.  When Hana Yi told me about this virtual campaign, I was blown away by the creativity and innovativeness of it.

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago launched a virtual campaign to raise awareness for the dangers and abundance of house fires.  They wanted to show people who have not been victims of house fires about the pain that it can cause.  Users will connect to Facebook and watch six of their most precious Facebook pictures virtually burn.  I can honestly tell you watching some of my most prized pictures burning (even though it was virtual) gave me the chills.  The pictures the campaign chose for me included pictures of my family trip to Europe and other pictures taken during college.  It was terrifying to think of my memories burning away.

After you watch your pictures virtually burn, you are brought to a page where you can donate to the Red Cross.  Then you can tweet about it, post it on your Facebook wall or write about the campaign like I am doing here.

This campaign is truly genius.  Targeting their audience online was very smart of the Red Cross, and incorporating Facebook into the campaign was even smarter.  People cherish their Facebook pictures and love looking at them.  Everyone always asks “Did you put up the pictures from last night yet?” or “Did you see the picture that was just tagged of me?”  “Burning them” over the Internet and having people imagine that their prized pictures are gone forever is the perfect way to show how much pain can come from house fires.  A good friend of mine lost most of her prized possessions and photographs due to a house fire many years ago and is still saddened by her loss.  Showing people what it would be like to lose as much as she did is the perfect way to get people to understand this harsh reality.

For more information about the campaign, check out the news release from the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

What do you think about this campaign?

PR Advanced: Be the Change (Boston University’s Regional Activity)

Every year Boston University hosts a conference, and every year I have been impressed by the dedication of the conference committee, caliber of speakers and involvement of professionals, agencies and professors.  This year my expectations were completely surpassed under the leadership of conference coordinator, Ginny Soskey.  I have had a different perspective of the conference this year as I worked with PRSSA Nationals to oversee the Regional Activities across the country.  But it was nice to be at Boston University to see the process throughout the past few semesters.  I saw as Ginny dedicated her life and put her heart and soul into this event.  Not a day went by without her working to make it a success, and it was better than I could have imagined.  I’m truly excited to see all the wonderful things Ginny (who is only a sophomore) is going to do in the future with BU PRSSA and beyond.

For those of you who were not able to attend PR Advanced: Be the Change, there were many fantastic speakers who I was able to listen to.

Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM


Jon Iwata started off by discussing the strengths of public relations: listening and adapting.  He then spoke about the marketing funnel:

He then split his talk into four sections: Forge a shared belief, Spur people to act, Sustain Behavior and Enable advocacy.

In this digital age, people find out about things almost instantaneously.  During his presentation, he admitted that people were probably posting about his presentation, and he didn’t know what they were saying.  It could be bad things, but he has no control over that.

He spoke about why belief is important.  He used a scenario about bottled water as an example.  It used to be the belief that bottled water was better than tap water, but we now know that isn’t true.  He said, “We ought not to confuse fact with what people believe.”  Belief matters in the public relations field, and it is over predetermined by customers.  It is the job of public relations professionals to distinguish beliefs from fact.

People don’t like change.  Iwata suggested to not try to convince people to change but eliminate the inertia that is preventing them from changing.  He gave the example of hotels trying to convince people to reuse towels.  There was a 26% increase in people who used towels in hotels for more than one night when the signs said “Hotel guests use towels more than once” instead of telling people to use towels more than once to help the environment.

He continued by quoting The Social Network:

He spoke about the multiplier effect and how Facebook was able to grow so quickly.

Finally, he spoke about something everyone was waiting to hear about: Watson.

He told us that he actually competed against Watson (and lost) before they went public with him!  We watched a clip from Jeopardy and spoke about the benefits to Watson.  During questions, he said the next step for Watson would be health care to help physicians stay on top of all the literature.

And did I mention “Jon Iwata” was a trending topic in Boston almost immediately?

The conference continued with two breakout sessions.  I attended both agency panels.

Session 1 – Opportunities Worldwide

This panel covered topics from skills and personality traits to getting your first job to client relations.

Barri Rafferty, Senior Partner and Director, Ketchum New York

She spoke about the importance of being able to translate social media skills to the corporate role.  You might be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but can you use it in a professional setting?  You also need to be a good communicator verbally and orally.  Finally, be open to trying new things.  Don’t be afraid of doing something you have not previously worked on.

Meaghan Smith, Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman New York

When you start a new job, you need to learn other people’s working styles and be organized.  Keeping up relationships when searching for your ideal job is important.  Something may not be available right away, but in a few months you could get something you are looking for.  It is also important to give a business case to clients to convince them it is worth investing in your company.  That’s where business classes come in handy.  Finally, there is not a line between personal and professional social media.  You always represent your company so be careful what you say about the company and its clients.

Katherine Wilburn, Consultant, Gagen McDonald

Resiliency is important.  You may finish a plan for a client and have to redo it.  It is important to try to make clarity out of chaos in an agency setting.  Remember to listen and ask the right questions to arrive at a solution.  Keeping in touch with people is important.  If you see an agency is in the media, show that you saw the article and congratulate them (if appropriate).  Take as many business classes as possible, especially negotiations.  It may come in handy when working with clients to tell them what the consequences of their decisions may be.

Session 1 – Opportunities in Boston

This panel focused more on the Boston market.

Sarah D’Souza, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Edelman

Agencies never know when they will need to hire so it is important to keep in touch with people.  They are looking for interns who will get their hands dirty and work on multiple accounts.  It is important to learn to juggle multiple projects at the same time.  Internships are like long job interviews so it is important to show your best work.

Jason Glashow, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fleishman-Hillard

The Boston market has an entrepreneurial environment that creates a lot of opportunities.  There is an untapped opportunity as some of these companies try to figure out their social strategies (which will be very important in the future).  Things change very quickly and constantly which is important to get used to in an agency.

Christine Perkett, Founder, PerkettPR

The ways you can reach reporters are now different.  Twitter may be a great resource, but sometimes reporters want to be reached in the “old fashioned ways.”  It is important for interns to learn how to juggle multiple clients.  Interns should take initiative and walk in with ideas.  If you can talk through a strategy for a class project and show you understand strategic thinking, that is great!

Margery Kraus, Founder, President and CEO, APCO Worldwide

The afternoon started off with another keynote address.  She told us about the way APCO has survived and made a name for itself.

  • Be the partner of choice with clients.
  • Push the boundaries of communication.
  • Provide a global service, culture by culture.
  • Do not build an organization by yourself.  Build it with a team of people.
  • Help companies, organizations and governments build, defend and monetize their reputation.

Clients often are looking for a solution but do not know how to get there.  It is the job of the PR agency to think about what they need and how it can be achieved.

The formula that APCO lives by is ROR (Return on Reputation) + ROI (Return on Investment) = Market Share.

They also live by the word passion.

  • Passion provides the fuel for our souls and minds.
  • Passion makes us work better and smarter.
  • Passion makes it more than a job.
  • Passion builds relationships that live beyond the project.
  • Passion is our secret weapon.

Ginny Soskey, Regional Activity Coordinator

I then had the honor of recognizing Ginny for all her hard work on behalf of the National Committee.  Mike DeFilippis recognized her on behalf of the conference committee.

I should also mention that by this time #pradvanced, Jon Iwata and Margery Kraus were all trending topics in Boston on Twitter.  And #pradvanced was a trending topic in the United States on Twitter.

Career Panel

Stephanie Deitzer, Founder and President, Style at Work

She gave advice about what to wear in an interview.  Know your audience when deciding what to wear.  Think of it as a first date.  What impression are you trying to make?  And she said you can never fail with the blazer!

Kate DiChristopher, HR Manager, Marina Maher Communications

When you go into an interview, show that you are passionate about the agency.  She is looking for people who know a lot about the company and are digitally savvy.  Also, be prepared to talk about the ways you consume media.  You should be able to name a few blogs you read and talk about why you read them.

Eric Leist, Emerging Technology Strategist, Allen & Gerritsen

When people come in for an interview, they are asked three main questions: Are you curious about technology?  What are you curious about?  How do you fulfill your curiosity?  It is good to ask questions that show you know what’s going on in the industry.  Look at your skills and passions and think about what you want before choosing a job.

Maggie Van der Leeuw, Manager of Human Resources, Burson-Marsteller

Show your personality during your interviews.  Does your personality online match with your personality in person?  It should!  It is good to show that you have a life outside of the industry, but also show you have industry knowledge through Twitter.  During the interview, show that you went beyond the basics of the website.  Don’t settle.  As an employer, they want to know you are going to dedicate yourself to your job.

Other Parts of the Conference

There were also many other speakers that I did not get a chance to see including Mariana Agathoklis, Director of Communications, MTV, Peter Stringer, Director of Interactive Media, Boston Celtics and Jamie Thompson, Founder and CEO, Pongr.

Additionally, Twitter was a constant throughout the conference.  Students were tweeting the entire time, but they also were asking questions of the panelists through Twitter.  Questions were answered by people raising their hands but also taken right off Twitter.

The day ended with a career fair with companies including 360 PR, Allen & Gerritsen, Boston University College of Communication Graduate Program, Burson-Marsteller, Cone, LLC, EMC CorporationFleishman-Hillard, Hill Holliday, Ketchum, Lewis PR, Marina Maher CommunicationsMSL Group, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Porter Novelli, PRSA Boston and the Publicity Club of New England.

Once again, congratulations to Boston University and the entire conference committee!  Another job well done!

Super Bowl 2011 Advertisements

The entertainment during this year’s Super Bowl may have been unsuccessful, but at least the advertisements were great (well some of them)!  Between Christina Aguilera forgetting the words to the National Anthem and the Black Eyed Peas having a total fail for a performance, the advertisements may have saved the Super Bowl (not including the actual game, of course).  Below are my thoughts/reactions to some of the commercials that stood out (either positively or negatively).

First Quarter:

Bud Light: I usually don’t enjoy the Bud Light commercials.  They are normally the same thing: Person 1 is just SO excited that they have a Bud Light, and their entire LIFE is now better.  It is always the same exact thing.  The first commercial was the same theme as well.  BUT the second Bud Light commercial was a change from before AND for the better!  Bluntly incorporating product placement into Super Bowl ads, one of the biggest opportunities for product placement was genius and funny too.  Having a medieval play with random Bud Light product placements…genius…just genius.

Doritos: The first Doritos commercial was pretty elementary, but they definitely made up for it as the commercials continued.  The third commercial with the chip’s crumbs bringing everything back to life was pretty entertaining, and kind of creepy when it brought the kid’s grandfather back to life.  But still a bit more creative than the usual “DORITOS ARE JUST THE BEST” mentality.

Pepsi Max: Now I’m not a huge Pepsi fan (which would normally mean I wouldn’t write about it on my blog), but I have to mention the Pepsi Max commercial with the geek being made fun of by the “pretty, popular kids.”  Definitely entertaining watching the kids get shown up by the geek and his cool gadgets/toys.  Ya gotta love how nerdiness is the new “cool.”

Bridgestone: Kudos to Bridgestone!  I think you tapped into every person’s fear of hitting “Reply All” by accident and sending an e-mail out to many people who were not supposed to read it.  I’m sure everyone has done that once or twice.  Granted, Gmail has an “Undo” button now, but what about those e-mails you don’t realize you sent for awhile?  But anyway, Bridgestone just related to EVERY person who has ever sent an e-mail.  Great job, great ad.

Go Daddy: When I first started my blog, I used Go Daddy.  That year when I saw the Super Bowl commercials, I was so excited because not only did I use this service, but their commercials were so creative!  That being said, that time has certainly passed with the abysmal showing from them on this year’s ad.

Second Quarter:

Coca-Cola: Everyone expects the polar bear in these commercials, especially if the commercial isn’t going to be something unique.  I hate to say it because I am TOTALLY brand loyal to Coke, but this commercial was lame.  It was the same commercial they have ALWAYS had but with dragons, warriors, whatever they were.  I was hoping for something at LEAST as creative as their “Open Happiness” campaign.  I hope they bring something better a bit later.

Volkswagen: This ad was great.  The little boy trying to have Star Wars powers was absolutely ADORABLE.  I have nothing much to say besides good job, Volkswagen.  You got everyone’s attention in a positive way.  No complaints here, and I haven’t even heard any complaints on Twitter (which is even more impressive)!

Snickers: What was that?  Like seriously…you went from Betty White to that?  It wasn’t funny this year, and I stopped watching before I even knew it was a Snickers commercial (I only saw people tweeting that it was a Snickers commercial).  Not impressed.

Chevy: If you wanted to get the attention of any advertising and PR people, well you did it.  There are no complaints from this group as Facebook is more than an addiction – it is a way of life.  The tweets after this commercial were beyond excited as they saw the best possible scenario: driving AND having Facebook statuses read aloud.  Great job, Chevy.

Carmax: This was a commercial that definitely got an “LOL” out of me.  I had never even heard of Carmax before, but it definitely made a lasting impression on me.  Very catchy commercial, and definitely kept my attention the entire time.  “I feel like a kid in a candy store…”  Beautiful start!

Staples: When you think of Staples, you think of the “easy” button and the silly “That was easy” line.  I think Staples did a really great job of showing their products while still maintaining their brand image with the easy button.  Very nicely done.

Third Quarter:

Etrade: Let’s just put it this way, you can never go wrong with a talking baby.  They will be funny no matter what.

Best Buy: Great line: “What’s a Bieber?”  I have nothing against Justin Bieber.  Personally, I think he is a great kid and very talented.  BUT it was a great way to get some attention for Best Buy by making fun of him.

Groupon: I am a big fan of Groupon.  Love the company, love the deals, love just about everything.  But I think they could have been a bit more creative with these advertisements.  They seem to be making light of serious situations around the world.  And while I sort of see their point, I just think they could have been more creative.

Chrysler: Using Eminem in this commercial was perfect.  “Lose Yourself” playing in the background was a great addition.  The brand was prominent, everyone’s eyes were interested in Eminem (especially since his appearance in the Brisk commercial wasn’t too exciting) and Chrysler got their message across.  Their cars were branded as cool, luxurious and made for a star.

BMW: Who doesn’t like game shows?  And who doesn’t love FUNNY game shows?  “Cram It In The Boot?”  Who thinks of something like that?  But it was complete genius.  It was funny, got the attention of America who loves game shows and showed the purpose behind the commercial: the fact that this car has more trunk space and can really fit all your possessions.  Great use of strategy and humor.

NFL: This was one of the greatest ads I have ever seen.  It may not have been the funniest or best at promoting a product, but it was certainly the greatest ad of the night.  Watching all of the different shows celebrate the Super Bowl was fantastic and so nostalgic.  From the older shows like Happy Days, Full House and Seinfeld to most modern shows like Friends and Family Guy, this compilation of shows was truly top notch.

Fourth Quarter:

Bridgestone: Bridgestone has done a great job tonight.  First with the Reply All and then with the beaver commercial.  Great use of a cute animal to get your point across (kinda brings me back to the Geico commercials that I used to look forward to).  But not only is the commercial cute and well received (at least on Twitter), but it really incorporates the car well.  A lot of commercials are cute and use animals that don’t relate as much to the product they are selling, but Bridgestone is able to do both.

Verizon iPhone: I could probably write a full post on this advertisement.  In fact, I will probably end up writing a post about the Verizon and AT&T ads that have been produced since the iPhone was announced on Verizon.  But tonight…tonight this single ad has made my ENTIRE NIGHT.  Not only does it show the sleek, magnificent iPhone, but VERIZON BROUGHT BACK THE “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW” GUY!  That basically makes all my hopes and dreams come true.  Definitely the best ad of the night.  Perfect advertisement for the Verizon iPhone and PERFECT way and reason to bring back the original face of Verizon with the “Can you hear me now” actor.

And that’s that for this year’s Super Bowl ads.  Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers!  (And me, for picking them to win tonight!)

The Joneses

Your friend walks into work/class and shows you the COOLEST new thing she just bought!  Even though it was pretty expensive, it is the LATEST hi-tech gadget that EVERYONE is going to want.  She tells you that anyone who is anyone is going to have it, and all of the celebrities are buying it!  Not only is it the most innovative product around, but it can do EVERYTHING!  Touch screen, Internet, automatic, GPS, you name it, this product has it.

Have you ever heard a friend talk about their “new toy” in this way, and you immediately wanted to buy the new product that she bought?  Whether it is a new cell phone, new piece of clothing, a new car, a new camera, a new television, a new video game, a new ANYTHING.  Your friend talks about all of its great qualities, and you immediately want to buy it.  Heck, you may even go out to the store immediately and purchase it.  Well, this is where the new movie The Joneses comes in (make sure to check out the trailer).  This movie is based off of four characters who are placed in a home together and instructed to act like the “perfect family.”  However, the mother, father, daughter, and son are not only not even related, but they have been hired by a marketing agency to engage in stealth marketing.  Their job is to make new friends in the community and brag about all of their new products (jewelry, sports equipment, cosmetics, food, décor, cars, etc.) in an effort to convince their peers to purchase these products for themselves.  They are instructed to sell “a lifestyle” instead of simple the products to convince as many people to buy them as possible.

Even though this movie was a bit exaggerated about the effects of this type of marketing between the fate of poor Larry and the monthly evaluations of the household, this type of marketing exists every day.  The recommendation of a trusted friend or family member about a particular product, service, or brand is more powerful than any other type of marketing.  When you need a new product or service, how do you find out where to go?  If you go online or to any social media outlets, you are looking for a recommendation of someone else who needed the same thing.  If you call up a friend or family member, you are putting your trust in them to figure out the BEST possible solution.

The movie refers to the ripple effect, in which Person A recommends a product to Person B who recommends the product to Person C and so on.  How often have you heard, “Well I don’t have one, but so-and-so LOVES her *insert product/service here*.”  The power of word-of-mouth marketing becomes endless in this way.

The power of marketing has reached new heights.  No longer do advertisements on television or in magazines make or break the success of a product or service.  A person is exposed to 5,000 advertisements per day in any form.  When a person is checking their e-mail on Gmail, they are exposed to advertisements.  When a person checks Facebook, they are being marketed to.  When a person is doing research for work or a class, they are shown advertisements.  Soon enough, when a person tweets, companies will be marketing to them.  In a world with millions of choices being shown to you every second, the types of stealth marketing shown in this movie really take predominance.  How do you narrow down these choices?  How do you make your final decision?  Of course you simply ask a friend!  Even though this movie was a satire on American consumerism, it takes a real picture of the life we thrive on as consumers in the 21st century.

Promoted Tweets

So a big story this last week was the news that Twitter is going to finally have ads.  But the ads are a lot different than anyone expected.  Instead of ads on the side like Facebook or even GoogleTwitter is going to have promoted ads.  These advertisements will come in the form of tweets, so users can retweet them, comment on them, etc.  But what does this mean to the world of Twitter?

PC Magazine had a very insightful article explaining how the whole process will work.  Basically, when someone searches for a particular item, a promotional tweet will come up first on the search list.  Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo used a perfect example of when this could be useful to both companies and users.  Apparently, people were complaining on Twitter that their iPad battery was not charging.  “iPad battery” soon became a trending topic but clearly not for a good reason.  Best Buy recognized this problem and tweeted a solution to this problem, but the people who had already tweeted about it did not see Best Buy’s reponse.  However, if Best Buy had posted a promotional tweet, users who searched for this problem to see what other people were saying could have seen the solution at the top of their search list.  Customers and Best Buy (and even Steve Jobs if you think about it) would benefit from the use of the promotional tweet.

So what are the first companies we will see on Promoted Tweets?  Best BuyBravoRed BullSony PicturesStarbucks, and Virgin America.  Interesting variety and choice in my opinion.  I would think some of the other brands that have a bigger presence on Twitter would be included in the mix, but then again this is a trial run for Twitter.

The interested part of promoted tweets is that Twitter is not really seeing it as the advertisement I just described.  Basically if users do not retweet it, comment on it, favorite it, etc., the Promoted Tweet will disappear.  Twitter wants to continue to be a user-friendly service and keep its organic platform.

MediaPost Publications brings up a good point about Twitter.  What types of ads will people really want to retweet and favorite?  They are not going to retweet regular messages about the company.  People will not care to retweet about something that does not benefit the general public.  They will only want to retweet about sales and promotions.  I could seeJetBlue gaining a lot of attention through these promotional tweets through their weekly JetBlue Cheeps, but I don’t know if some of these other companies would be able to benefit.  But I do have to admit, Starbucks is already getting A LOT of attention by being the first company to take part of the promoted tweets.  The majority of articles being written about the promoted tweets have included the picture above of the “example promoted tweet.”

But what does this mean for Twitter?  Could it have survived without the use of the promotional tweets?  Was there another way it could have made money?  Will people become frustrated by another place that will consume our lives with ads?  Wherever you turn there are advertisements.  Even Gmail customizes its ads depending on your e-mails and what you search for in Google.  And the same goes for Facebook.  Have you ever been frustrated with an ad that appears on the side of your Facebook page?  Is Twitter going down that same route?

Super Bowl 2010 Advertisements

Besides the fact that the Saints were able to bring down Peyton Manning and the Colts last night, the other big topics are the Super Bowl advertisements.  Which ones did you like?  Which ones did you not like?  Which ones were the most creative?  Which ones embarrassed the brand?  Which ones were the funniest?  When I think back on the funniest commercials of all time, I think about the creativity behind theGeico commercials when I was younger.  CBS asked for a record of about $2.6 million for a 30-second advertisement during the Super Bowl.  So whose money was well spent?

I found a trend among many commercials this year-corporate social responsibility.  Even the beer commercials had text at the bottom that said “Please Drink Responsibly.”  However, the ad that showed their concern for the world the most was theAudi commercial.  Even though I did not know until the end what brand was being advertised, the importance of the issue was clearly demonstrated.  Throughout the entire commercial, I was thinking “go green,” “paper over plastic,” etc.  When the brand correlated with the commercial was finally revealed, it stuck in my head that this car and this brand supports environmentally friendly products.

Another winner in last night’s advertisements was Google’s commercial.  Leave it to Google to send out a powerful message so simple yet so powerful.  The commercial demonstrated the ease of Google, its features, and the wide range of topics that Google has information about.  I felt that that commercial appealed to me, as a college student, who has friends studying abroad and also to others who enjoy traveling.  One of my favorite parts was when Google corrected the person typing into the search box.  And of course, the “Search on” at the end of the commercial made for a perfect ending.

I don’t know if I am just a fan of commercials with animals, but I loved the Monster.com commercial.  I may be wrong, but in my opinion Monster.com has done a fabulous job with their commercials.  This commercial shows the features ofMonster.com in a hilarious way.   I thought the advertisers were so creative in depicting the way Monster.com can lead a person (or animal in this case) to success.

Another fantastic commercial was the Volkswagen commercial.  Everyone knows that when you see a Volkswagen bug, you need to punch another person.  I remember saying, “Punch buggy, no punch backs, LICENSE!”  When I participated in a Big Brother, Big Sisters program, I had to make sure that I was on my toes looking out for the bugs so I did not lose to my little sister.  This commercial definitely brought out the child in everyone and the fun in playing that game.  Kudos, Volkswagen!

Finally, the Snickers commercial definitely caught the eye.  Actors Betty White and Abe Vigoda were fantastic as they played football, and well, were hit to the ground.  And unlike many of the other commercials, the brand of Snickers stands out more than some of the other brands.  Even though I loved some of the other commercials, sometimes the brand isn’t as apparent until the end, which makes the commercial memorable, not the brand.  But Snickers definitely made up for their mistake 3 years ago with the anti-gay commercial.

Now I have to admit, even though I liked the five commercials described above, there were some I was disappointed in. Anheuser-Busch had seven commercials, but I didn’t think their seven commercials compared to some of the other brands who had 1 commercial.  Yes, they had the “Please Drink Responsibly” messages at the end, but the commercials tried too hard to be creative and funny, and in my opinion, flunked.  Another one is Doritos.  Yes, some of their commercials were funny, but I did not think all four commercials were necessary.  People are watching the Super Bowl.  I GUARANTEE there are Doritos at the majority of Super Bowl parties.  It is not necessary to have that many commercials, some that were even a little offensive.  The funeral one freaked me out a bit after being at a memorial on Saturday.

Some other surprises were Lance Armstrong being in a commercial advertising alcohol.  I was also surprised at the decision to use the Simpsons in a commercial instead of another cartoon that is more popular now, such as Family Guy.  Also, the NFL’s advertisement for the 75th NFL Draft showed Peyton Manning.  What about Drew Brees?  He won the Super Bowl, didn’t he?  And what is up with the trend with people in their underwear?  Two commercials in a row showed people in their underwear.  That wasn’t too funny to me either.  Also,GoDaddy.com’s commercials weren’t too entertaining either.  I expected more from a website that hosts so many other creative websites.

What were your opinions about the Super Bowl?

Verizon and AT&T…Winner: Verizon

So I think everyone knew this post was coming.  OBVIOUSLY I have to discuss the Verizon and AT&T ads that seem to be the only television commercials right now.  I wanted to provide any readers with examples of both Verizon and AT&T commercials, but (to my delight) every time I typed in “AT&T holiday commercial” or “AT&T map commercial,” etc. Verizon commercials came up.  So I’m going to share 2 of my favorite Verizon holiday commercials: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xup4tGGstgM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMAjLdpun20&feature=related.

Ironically, as I started typing this article, the AT&T commercial came on.  I typed in a quote from the commercial into YouTube and finally found a video (even though there was 1 AT&T commercial on a page of Verizon commercials – either Verizon knows how to pick better keywords, or AT&T is really nowhere to be found) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igdyXceBZLA.

But anyway, back to the beginning.  How did this even start?  AT&T sued Verizon a couple months ago claiming that their ads were “misleading” and thus taking away a large part of their market share.  However, AT&T has inadvertently helped Verizon’s map campaign by drawing attention to it.  Granted, being a Verizon fan, I pay more attention to these ads, but I would have never been so excited over them as I was after I heard about this ridiculous lawsuit.

AT&T is not even denying the factuality behind Verizon’s claims.  Verizon says it has “5X more 3G Coverage.”  AT&T is not denying this but simply saying they have more coverage than Verizon’s ads show them to have.  However, a holiday promotion like the one Verizon uses would not have been focused on as much by potential consumers without the attention AT&T drew to it.  AT&T wanted Verizon to take down these commercials, but Verizon’s lawyers wrote a brilliant statement stating why the ads would stay up including one of my favorite lines, “AT&T sued because Verizon’s ads are true and the truth hurts.”  To further hurt AT&T’s cause, a federal judge denied AT&T’s request to force Verizon to take down these ads.

AT&T made a HUGE mistake by calling attention to these ads.  Even if they had won the lawsuit down the road, by the time Verizon’s ads are done playing (when the holidays end), the lawsuit would not be over.

Everyone makes mistakes.  I have many friends who use AT&T and constantly complain about it.  Many just put up with its service because they want an iPhone.  Soon enough Verizon will come out with something better than that, but for now I can settle for watching them win minor battles like this one.

And to close, one more Verizon holiday ad:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JgrBtn8XdU&feature=channel.

TripShield: Beyond the Plug

This semester, I have been working on a team of seven other students to develop a new product and create a business plan incorporating the marketing, operations, information systems, and finance for the product.  We came up with the TripShield (http://www.f09a02t03.info/), a small electrical adapter that can be attached to the end of an electric plug on any household appliance and then plugged into a normal wall outlet. The adapter is comprised of 2 pieces held together by magnets to provide a simple breakaway when the cord is tripped upon or pulled, thus helping users avoid potentially tripping or damaging the device.

In the beginning of the semester, we spent a lot of time working out the kinks of its design (http://www.f09a02t03.info/product.html).  Its final design is 1 x 2 x 1.313 and includes a breaker mechanism to avoid electrocution when the two parts are separated.  We also wanted to be able to explain how our product actually works: When connected, electricity flows from the electrical outlet to Part 1, the outlet component.  Inside Part 1, the wire is soldered from the blades to a positive, negative, and ground plate made of brass.  Also within Part 1 is a non-traditional breaker mechanism that cuts the electrical flow whenever Part 2, the appliance component, is not in contact with Part 1.  However, when Part 2 is connected to Part 1, the central magnet inside Part 1 engages a central magnet inside Part 2, which mechanically holds the two parts together.  Electricity flows through the Part 2 magnet and subsequently, through wire soldered from the magnet to a receptacle.  Finally, the receptacle accepts any typical appliance plug.  (This may seem complicated for people without engineering backgrounds, but the point is, the TripShield is effective.)

Throughout the rest of the semester, we had workshops every week to develop aspects of our business plan.  For our Marketing workshops, we figured out our target markets, developed questionnaires, analyzed surveys, and created ads.  For our Information Systems workshops, we decided how we were going to utilize the Internet, created a website, and figured out how to sell our product online.  For our Operations workshops, we created our factory layout, contacted suppliers to find out how much our product would cost to produce, and developed supply chains.  For our Finance workshops, we figured out sales and cash flows and created a balance sheet and income statement.

Many issues also came up while creating the business plan.  How do we utilize the green trend?  (We are actually using recycled plastics for our product and packaging as shown at the bottom of http://www.f09a02t03.info/product.html.)  Should we use Amazon to ship online?  What retailers do we want to get in?  What types of advertisements do we want to use?  Which suppliers should we use?  Do we get a discount if we order a certain amount of parts for our product?  How do we make sure we make positive cash flows despite all of the necessary costs?  How much should everyone’s salary be?  There are so many questions to answer (beyond these) that all have to be compiled into one report.

For a brief run-down of the website (http://www.f09a02t03.info/index.html), more information of the product, a demonstration video, a CAD drawing, awards, and recognition can be found:http://www.f09a02t03.info/product.html. Our company blog can be found: http://tripshield.blogspot.com/. FAQs can be found: http://www.f09a02t03.info/support.html. The TripShield can be purchased: http://www.f09a02t03.info/purchase.html.Our Twitter page can be found: http://twitter.com/tripshield. Our Facebook page can be found:http://www.facebook.com/pages/TripShield/174417422607?ref=nf.

If you have any questions about this project or our product, leave a comment!