Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gamer designed car

According to a report in Reuters, Nissan is looking to video gamers to provide insight into car designs. In the wake of the massive Halo 3 marketing blitz such a concept doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. According to Francois Bancon, Nissan Exploratory and Advance Planning Dept., in an interview with Reuters said “We wanted to reproduce the way they play video games, a play station or computer with the same posture and the same relationship to their friends…” In this case Bancon is referring to the unique seating of the driver – in the middle. The battery powered car, called the Nissan 7210. T or Mixim, was derived from research done with kids 15 to 17 years of age from all over the world. Apparently the research suggested that this age group is uninterested in cars and consider it to be a relic of last century in their world of digital everything. Why all the hullabaloo over gaming? According to market research firm NPD sales of video games and gaming systems were up 46% in August from the same period last year. Top Seller? - Madden NFL '08 for Xbox 360 (897,000 units) Top game console? - Wii (404,000) Article here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What is it?

Ad-supported free, legal music downloads.


Music can’t be burnt to CD

Music files from are not compatible with iPod or Zune

ONLY compatible with Vista or Windows XP operating systems (not Apple)



Friday, September 21, 2007

WOW! Walmart in Marketing News!

Everyone has an opinion about Walmart. Rob Frankel says “"To shop at Wal-Mart is almost the same as admitting you are poor," he says."As soon as people can figure out a way not to shop at Wal-Mart, they do." Not a big fan. He had about as much to say regarding WalMart’s first marketing move since inking a deal with The Martin Agency in January of this year. For the first time in 19 years WalMart is changing it’s tagline. From the all-too-well-known “Always Low Prices” to “Save Money. Live Better”. Apparently the move is based on not-so new research from Global Insight that suggests that WalMart saves American families and average of $2,500 every year. (Sound familiar? yeah, we've been hearing that for a couple years now) The new tagline was accompanied by a website that shows up at the end of the new TV spots encouraging consumers to post their own story of savings as a WalMart shopper. The company also planted a “Savings Ticker” outside its headquarters to track how much money the retailer is saving American families.

This move follows a major addition to the company’s online store last month or so that allowed consumers to post feedback about products on the site. The company also launched a portfolio of financial service products that are quite obviously targeted to low-income shoppers. Is the company moving away from trying to look more upscale? The new tagline, in reality, isn’t much different than the previous one. During the 19 year lifespan of the previous tagline (which should have disappeared about 6 or 7 years ago, at least, to have more impact) WalMart stock split and hovered above $60. Now the company can’t get out of the low $40’s land with an ever-rotting image across the country. Will the new tagline help? Thoughts It is a price based tagline – that’s bad – Well, it also adds an element of lifestyle – and for that a user based (or democratized) defined lifestyle. So the consumer defines the lifestyle of a Walmart consumer and can get engaged through multiple online elements. That’s good. Is it dissonant with other WalMart communications? In conjunction with the new financial services, consumer feedback on the website and other rumblings from Arkansas – it seems relatively cohesive. That’s good. Unfortunately, it also looks like WalMart is struggling to really take advantage of the smarts of The Martin Agency. Save Money. Live Better isn’t a bad metamorphosis of Always Low Prices but I think the shackles of the low price marketing need to be removed. Move away from cheap and into value. Cheap is bad like Mattel and China – value is Costco or Targets “masstige” (prestige for the masses) apparel. Welcome to the era of value brands WalMart. Consumers expect more.

PS – The website – yeah, pretty low-budget looking. Let me know if you need some help- I have a buddy that that does websites and can add stuff to make it a little more viral like, oh, I don’t know, tagging. Yeah. More

PPS - Walmart announced a dramatically changed health care plan for its employees that received praise from even longstanding critics. Read it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Burger King Snack Chips

Taco Bell, TGI Fridays and now Burger King all have something in common – they sell branded products outside of their restaurants. Next month BK fans will be able to get their fix of BK snack chips across a multitude of channels. The venture will be spearheaded by The Inventure Group (the same group that handled TGI Friday’s branded snacks). The trans fat-free products will be available in a variety of sizes including the popular 100 calorie pack. The effort is designed to expand the brand recognition of Burger King with plans to expand globally after the initial US launch and will also tap into the 93% of consumers that research suggest snack at least once a day.
The proceeds from the new product will go back into the marketing fund in a move to assuage the fears of cannibalization from franchise owners. Burger King has expanded hours, introduced a breakfast value menu and opened hundreds of new stores in the past few years to emerge from a slump. This new product platform and expansion into different channels could help bolster efforts to get back on their feet.
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Online retailers adopt web 2.0 in coming year

According to a report released today by the National Retail Federation, a growing number of retailers have plans to modify their webstore within the next year. The report is based on responses from 150 online merchants that responded to a survey sent to several thousand retailers. With online sales growing every year as a portion of total sales retailers feel pressured to ensure that the shopping experience is unique and matches their branding strategy. Online sales are forecasted to grow by 18% this year. Neiman Marcus and David Yuman led the way by modifying the look and feel of their websites with better product detail and more lifestyle photography.

The retailers are also adopting web 2.0 trends and adding user-generated content such as customer ratings and reviews. Another 48% of the retailers polled said that they plan on letting customers tag product detail pages to allow other users to find them. Although the report forecasts online sales of 18% the number of brand-new consumers is beginning to slow down according to Scott Silverman, executive director of NRF’s group. The report also stated that retailers are still putting most of their marketing dollars into email and search but about half of the respondents said they plan on expanding into blogs, message boards, and social networks. Another 50% have identified efforts to increase or expand customization as a priority for the next 12 months.

The article

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No more blues for Pepsi in China

Which one is Coke and which one is Pepsi?

Two colors have dominated the soda scene for the last 50 some odd years – Blue and Red. Pepsi donning the blue and Coke in the recognizable red. That standard has been perpetuated the world over wherever Coke and Pepsi put up their flags – except in China. In a place of tradition Pepsi has departed from tradition and launched a red can in a move to support China’s national sports team. The new can has an “uncanny” (sorry, couldn’t resist) resemblance to Coca-Cola’s Olympics-themed cans. The conundrum is most likely the result of a sponsorship battle taking place with the 2008 Olympics. Coke has exclusive contracts with some of the Olympic athletes and is the official sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Pepsi, on the other hand, is a sponsor of Team China, the national team that represents China in various international sporting events including the Asian Games.

The red can is a temporary promotion that will last only until the end of the year. The battle for the Chinese soda consumer has rough with Coke holding a 51% market share and Pepsi at only 30%. Euromonitor, however, shows that Pepsi sales last year were up 93% more than in 2000 while Coke’s 2006 numbers were only up by 70% more than 2000. There’s more to the can though. In a contest that drew 2.46 million submissions Chinese consumers submitted pictures of themselves rooting for Team China and then 140 million votes were cast to select which pictures would be used on the new cans. This isn’t the first time Pepsi has made changes to the color of the can - last year Brazil saw yellow and green Pepsi cans as part of a national promotion.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Following in the trails of companies like CinemaNow, Movielinnk and Vongo, Santa Clara based Vudu began selling the movies-on-demand Vudu box this week. The key difference between the Vudu box and its predecessors is that the box allows users to watch movies on their TV rather than their computer. Users will be able to select from 5,000 movies with rental prices ranging from $0.99 to $3.99 and purchase prices from $4.99 to $19.99. The two-year old company hopes to tap into the movies-on-demand market that is estimated to hit $3 billion by 2010. The Vudu box starts shipping to stores next month at a cost of $399 but is also available for pre-order on their site.

Sorry early-adopters. Steve Jobs would like to thank you for forking out the $599 for the iPhone 10 weeks ago, because he just dropped the price on the same phone by $200 apparently in an effort to ring in healthy holiday sales. Apple investors used to sizeable profit margins weren’t happy – stock dropped more than 5% closing at $136.76. Newest iPod media player: iPod Touch that uses the iPhone touch-screen and adds the ability to download songs wirelessly from the new iTunes Wi-Fi Store. The iPod Nano (now called iPod Classic) got beefier with a 160-gigabyte version. Apple also announced a partnership with another key consumer segment identifier – Starbucks. The partnership will revolve around the new Touch product and will alert the user when approaching a Starbucks and provide the opportunity to download the song that’s playing or get a list of the 10 most recent songs played.
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Do you have your invite yet?

Erik Weinstein has only one investment in an Internet property– Think online gated community. Membership in the social networking site is by invitation only and even then based on education, profession, and most importantly - your network of personal contacts. A recent post read “I need to rent 20 very luxury sports cars for an event in Switzerland on the 6th September…the cars should be Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin ONLY!” The average age of users is 32 and 65% are from Europe, 20% from the U.S.

and the remainder from all over the world.

Founded four years ago, the site didn’t see much advertising until about 6 months or so ago when luxury brands like Cartier jumped in to gain access to a membership that spend an average of $20,000 to $50,000 a month. To beef up advertising, aSmallWorld hired former Fox Interactive Media Joe Robinson who will spend his time convincing the likes of Lufthansa, Land Rover, and Credit Suisse that the pricey advertising rates are worth it. Of the 150,000 registered users, only 35% actually log in every day according to Mr. Robinson and comScore senior analyst Andrew Lipsman suggests that number may even be smaller. Meanwhile, Facebook registered 30.6 million unique visitors in July. How much time do social elites spend hanging out online? Is this the best place to fork out the cash to reach tastemakers?

Only if you are a member. Right now the site is not exclusive to the rich, and well-connected – the site is like a chamber of commerce directory full of publicists and party promoters. Similar to LinkedIn, the greatest value is in the networks, not the advertising. Laura Rubin, a brand consultant and fashion publicist and member of has used her network of 170 or so to skyrocket her business ventures. There’s more rolodex to it than myspace.

Any copycat sites? Sure, early next year check your mailbox for an invite to Members will pay a $250 annual fee and have a net worth in the millions or tens of millions – and no advertising. Still waiting for my invite.

NYT article

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Professional Social Websites. Is you doctor on

Social networking has finally reached doctors., is a website forum for licensed physicians specializing in fields from dermatology to psychiatry to consult with colleagues and find answers to diagnosis and treatments., boasting 25,000+ doctors, is one of a new breed of social networking sites appearing in professional circles. The trend has some doubters as to its sustainability with executives slow to post much about their particular company and not willing to broadcast their networks. Social network sites appear to be growing traction - according to comScore Inc., the leading consumer social-networking sites attracted more than 110 million unique monthly U.S. visitors in July, up more than 40% from last year.

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Kid Nation

Should you advertise on Kid Nation? If you do you might just be alone. In an attempt to be more “daring” and “different” in its broadcasting this fall CBS appears to have scared off key advertisers. GM and Procter & Gamble, with a combined adspend of over $320 million on the network, have both declined to advertise during the new show “Kid Nation”. The show depicts a group of kids ages 8 to 15 forming their a society without any adult supervision in a western frontier setting. Each episode ends with a town meeting where one child is awarded a gold star worth $20,000. A CBS spokesperson understands the cautious approach from some advertisers for a show generating this much attention but is confident that the concerns expressed in the critical media will be resolved when the viewing public sees the first episode on Sept. 19. For the record, ABC got the cold shoulder from advertisers back in '93 when NYPD Blue launched only for the show to become a popular series after only a few weeks on the air.
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