Saturday, November 17, 2012

*** CTTC BLOG 2013 REFRESH ***

Work has been crazy for a while now so I haven't had a chance to get to the blog but I am going to be working more on it in the new year.

I will be doing a small overhaul on the blog coming in coming weeks. With alot more activation in both on online and offline worlds.

My plan is to do shorter posts WAY MORE OFTEN starting in January.

You can also now follow me on Twitter by clicking HERE!

Thanks for your patience everyone.

All the best in the coming year.

Check back soon.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Branded Social Media Disasters

While the success stories of brands and social media surface daily throughout the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, there are just as many nightmares that are damaging the reputations of brands regularly.

It has taken a while, as large and small brands are just now waking up to the fact that the world of user-generated media can make or break a brand when it fails to deliver on service or product. Since social media drives transparency in a very meaningful way, it forces companies to take a much more collaborative approach in resolving customer service issues... because when they falter...they can fall hard...and unfortunately end up on a list like this.

United Airlines: Not a Guitar Hero!

In the spring of 2008, Dave and Don Carroll of the Sons of Maxwell, a Halifax-based pop-folk group were flying to Nebraska for a one-week tour. In Chicago O'Hare, Dave witness his Taylor guitar being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers while on route. Upon arrival, he discovered the $3500 instrument was severely damaged.

For nine long months, while United Arilines did not deny the damage, the blame was basically past off on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate him for his loss. So in retaliation, Dave promised the last United staff member he spoke to (Ms. Irlweg ) that he would write and produce three songs about his negative experience with the airline and post YouTube videos for each to be viewed online by anyone and everyone. "United: Song 1" is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is forth coming as well. It’s a great David and Goliath story that shows how the little guy can take on an indifferent corporate giant and win. Dave's first song titled "United Breaks Guitars" has racked up a phenominal 4.5 million views on YouTube:

Comcast: Asleep at the Switch!

When a Comcast cable technician visited a customer's residence to replace a faulty modem, he spent an hour on hold with his home office, only to fall asleep on the customer's couch. This was followed up by another three weeks that problem continue to go unresolved. In turn, the customer posted this video on YouTube capturing the technician doing what he does best... sleeping on the job!!

UPDATE: After 1.3 million visitors watched the video online, the customer's service was finally restored.

Domino's Pizza: No Way To Top It Off!

In a video posted on YouTube, a Domino’s employee in Conover, N.C., prepared sandwiches for delivery by inserting cheese up his nose and applying nasal mucus on sandwiches, while a fellow employee provided a running commentary. In a few days, thanks to the power of social media, they ended up with felony charges, more than a million disgusted viewers, and a major company facing a public relations crisis. Needless to say these employees are no longer making any dough!

Motrin: Headaches from Baby Slingers!

Motrin posted a YouTube ad suggesting that carrying babies in baby-slings was a painful new fad, inferring that their pain medication might be needed.

Unhappy mothers posted Twitter complaints about it and their own YouTube video response.

Bloggers soon followed and within days, Motrin removed the ad and apologized. Some argue the moms were over-reacting, but by Motrin not testing its copy with this target audience up front – it left itself wide open for the 'wisdom of crowds' to regulate what they felt was not an acceptable promotion. Don't Rank with the Gays and Lesbians! apologized for an error in judgement after Twitter members complained that the sales rankings for gay and lesbian books seemed to have disappeared. Although reports of the prejudicial databasing had been circulating since February, few were paying attention until blogger Mark Probst wrote a post about the phenomenon in April.

Adding insult to injury, the following listing was still available on's site during this time period:

Amazon listing on Preventing Homosexuality

Amazon listing on Preventing Homosexuality

Additionally, despite being an Internet pioneer, Amazon's approach to Twitter is disappointing. The e-commerce giant uses a 'Twitter bot' to automatically publish excerpts from its US blog. These tweets add little value beyond that of a standard RSS feed. It does not show the online book retailer trying to interact with their customers. Maybe, now the company has acquired Zappos, they can take a lesson or two out of that company's exceptional customer-service techniques on Twitter.

Habitat Furniture Company:
Getting caught piggy-backing!

The stylish furniture maker Habitat jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in a big way but was exposed for spamming. Its self-promoting tweets that included popular trending topics to attract attention. And if including a hashtag# for a popular HBO drama like "True Blood" wasn't enough, the company actually took advantage of the misfortunes of others by including "Mousavi" and the "Iran Election" on tweet updates as well.

Habitat Furniture SPAM tweets

Habitat Furniture SPAM tweets

Retaliating against this form of 'parasite marketing,' the Twitterverse struck back by exposing the practice to Twitter's SPAM department. The posts that also included "iPhone" have been completely removed from the site.

Alex Burmaster, communications director at research firm Nielsen Online, said while some
companies had succeeded in the art of advertising within social networking sites, Habitat had got it wrong. Habitat have said in a statement that it "would like to make a very sincere apology to any users who were offended by their (inappropriate behavior) on Twitter".Habitat also stressed that the posts were carried out without the company's consent and the individual responsible is "no longer associated with Habitat".

Belkin: Pays for Play!

Belkin's lead online sales rep, Michael Bayard was found secretly paying Internet users to review his company's products favorably on and Newegg, whether or not they've ever used the devices. Bayard instructed the people he was paying to "write as if you own the product and are using it... (and) mark any other negative reviews as 'not helpful' once you post yours." Ironically, he was using Amazon's own Mechanical Turk service to hire his fraudsters, and offered to pay them a whopping $0.65 cents to write a 'postive 5/5 review.'

Belkin request on Amazon for reviews

Belkin request on Amazon for reviews

Confidence in a brand's products is shaken when customers learn the reviews they're reading aren't truly consumer-generated. Belkin in turn acted swiftly to 're-instill trust' when Mark Reynoso, Belkin's president claimed responsibility:
  • "We've acted swiftly to remove all associated postings from the Mechanical Turk system. We're working closely with our online channel partners to ensure that any reviews that may have been placed due to these postings have been removed."

EASYJET: Failed to Seize their Handle!

EasyJet failed to embrace Twitter as an early adopter, a decision they came to regret as a result of the amount of negative feedback they received. @easyjetservice was not the budget airline's official presence but rather an annoyed customer airing his grievances online about the airline.

EasyJetService on Twitter

EasyJetService on Twitter

The disgruntled passenger was not well followed (with only 377 followers), but their Twitter feed only needed to capture the attention of one fellow disgruntled traveler to become a problem for EasyJet... and it did.

While it doesn't appear that the company was ever able to remove these negative accounts from the Twitter system, EasyJet did take matters into their own hands by securing their own account under the name '@easyJetCare.' Now it can go about the job of rebuilding its reputation.

EasyJetCare Twitter account
EasyJetCare Twitter account

Quiznos: Video Subs for X-Rated Porn?

Quiznos Subs has been known for some desperate marketing stunts in the past, but the recent “2 Girls, 1 Sub” viral video is likely to go down as one of their worst decisions. The questionable video which was developed as a spoof created so much negative reaction that Quiznos officially denied having any affiliation with the video, stating that it did not authorize it nor pay for its placement. The jury is still out as to whether or not this is a Quiznos marketing fail or if it really was produced without their sanctioning. Regardless, Quiznos’ loss of brand control has made a lot of people think twice before ordering their next oven-baked sub.

In an economy where there’s a growing amount of competition for a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, excellence in customer service becomes an issue of survival. It’s not always about having the fanciest or the techiest or the best Web 2.0 systems. Sometimes it’s as simple as creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. Losing customers because a brand did not take heed of the social media environment we live in is lack of foresight. In today's transparent world, it's more important to double-think each online activity we engage in and live our brand's dream versus incur the wrath of our customers who are only one tweet or fan-page away of making our lives a living nightmare.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thanks to everyone for their emails, I'll do my best to answer them soon. Sorry it has been a lil while since my last entry but I am going to do my best to update this more often. My schedule has been insane so I haven’t had a lot of free time to think…this entry will take you through 10 great non-traditional campaigns followed by 5 not so great ones. It is interesting that there is a little overlap.

Cheers. Patrick

10 Great Examples of Non-Traditional Advertising

Non-traditional marketing has emerged as one of the most effective methods marketers use to break through the current ‘ad overload’ that society has trained itself to tune out. These 10 awesome non-traditional marketing campaigns build on the history of non-traditional marketing to illustrate where, why, and how the media markets their message in unexpected ways.

In Case of Emergency Try and Break Glass
Effective ads don’t always demand a big budget. The above installation for 3M Security Glass uses just $500 in real currency but looks to be much, much more. The impression was strengthened by posting a security guard at the site, just to prevent anyone with dollar signs in their eyes from attacking the display with a tire iron. Use of the hands and feet WAS allowed, however, and the artful ad reportedly could take a kicking and keep on tricking.

Causing a Mob Scene in NYC
Shock value is a big part of any successful non-traditional marketing campaign. Not unlike my previous Showtime-Dexter reference, specialty TV network HBO had a “hit” with the above campaign that played on the crime theme of The Sopranos. One has to wonder, though, if the cab drivers whose taxis hosted the ads suffered a drop in their business!

The Upside of Looking Down
One thing that sets non-traditional marketing apart from other more traditional forms of advertising is its ability to catch the public notice in an unexpected way. The quartet of manhole ads above play on people’s tendency to keep their eyes on the ground to watch where they’re going - and just maybe, what they’re going to buy.

2007 Boston Moonitie Scare
Sometimes a non-traditional marketing campaign has to go wrong before it goes right. A classic example is the so-called 2007 Boston Moonitie Scare, originated and organized by Interference Inc. as a unique way to advertise the Adult Swim Network’s cartoon show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The plan was to set up several dozen Nite Brite style, battery-powered placards in high visibility urban locations that included bridge overpasses and transportation hubs. The non-pro’s installing the devices attracted a different kind of attention from Boston city authorities hypersensitive to unusual activity post 9-11, who overreacted on a massive scale. It’s easy to look back and ask Interference Inc., “What were you thinking?” but in actual fact the unexpected blast of media exposure did more for their clients then they likely expected.

Wonderful Wonderbra
It’s said that sex sells, and really, who’s going to argue the point? Even so, it’s possible to use sex - or rather, human interest in the topic, to non-traditional market products. D&G did just that for a memorable campaign that employed a giant billboard of a model wearing a D&G bra. That’s not all, of course. Peering closer, curious onlookers noticed that the main image was actually a mosaic of hundreds of individual women wearing different styles of D&G bras. The deal was sealed when D&G’s ad agency created a website where those interested could zoom in to view the mosaic up close and very, very personal.

Caution: Falling Billboard
Cingular Wireless’ jumbo non-traditional marketing ad also used shock as a weapon, though without any gory connotations. The ad shown above works on a number of levels, attracting those looking down, those looking up or from a distance, and appealing to the funny bone by having the word “dropped” appear to have dropped right off the billboard.

Firefox on Fire
Non-traditional marketing has many similarities to other new, non-traditional marketing methods such as viral marketing. Hanging a label on a campaign is merely a matter of semantics in many cases and there are gray areas, exemplified by the historic New York Times as for Firefox 1.0 that appeared on December 16, 2004. The 2-page ad was funded through contributions from 10,000 people who paid to have their names featured on one of the pages. The donation drive conducted by the Mozilla Foundation set out to raise $50,000 to cover the cost of the ad but ended up raising 5 times that amount. As for Firefox, well, everyone knows how that story turned out.

Take a Ride with Hopi Hari
Some non-traditional marketing campaigns take advantage of pre-existing features of a location in order to magnify their impact. Such is the case with the above two ads from Brazil’s Hopi Hari amusement park and Hewlett Packard printers that take advantage of moving escalators to underline the theme.

Hubba Hubba!
Sometimes two very different companies will partner up to boost a non-traditional marketing ad’s reach. The above ads illustrate that point. In the topmost ad, German lingerie company Triumph International attracts extra attention - not as if they need it - to their message by adding a third dimension provided by Hubba Bubba bubblegum.

Be Odour Ready
Using ordinary fixtures in extraordinary ways is another key to effective non-traditional marketing, as can be seen in this very creative for Right Guard deodorant. Once again, non-traditional marketers take advantage of society’s ingrained responses to red emergency boxes and triangular warning signs.
It’s hard to say whether non-traditional marketing is clever, we as a society are jaded enough to fall for its charms, or both. Any way you look at it, these ads show that in the cutthroat game of sales success, you’ve got to think more non-traditional to cut through the clutter!

and now...

5 Great Examples of Non-Traditional Advertising Gone Wrong

Non-traditional marketing is often a risky business, skirting the edge of ethical (or even legal) acceptability. Some non-traditional marketers who have crossed the line have caused everything from Olympic belly flops to citywide bomb scares and have been punished with anything from modest jail time to millions of dollars in fines. All the same, some of these are probably (secretly) considered successes because subsequent media attention to the debacles probably raised more awareness than the non-traditional campaigns alone ever could have. Some non-traditional marketing is even done to support good causes though much of it is created to line the pockets of giant corporations. Know of other great examples of non-traditional marketing gone wrong? Be sure to list them below!

Keep Austin Weird!
The Microsoft Zune arguably has more haters than fans, apparently including some police officers in Austin, Texas. A person postering guerrilla advertisements for the Zune was detained and handcuffed by authorities at SXSW last year. According to one eyewitness the police were overheard saying something like “We’ll have none of your advertising for your DRM crippleware crappy MP3 player littering our town.” Now that is an interesting reason to state for arrest if ever there was one.

Olympic Sized Belly Flop
The Olympics aren’t games to be toyed with apparently, as one tutu-wearing prankster learned the hard way. In an effort to non-traditional market an online gaming site a Canadian man leapt into an Olympic pool at the 2004 Athens games. He was convicted of various counts of trespassing and creating a disturbance and was sentenced to multiple months in a Greek prison but then released with a fine of just a few hundred dollars. Some divers were apparently put off by the intervention and subsequently failed to complete their dives.

I Am Great, Just Ask Me
We’ve all heard of subtle non-traditional marketing campaigns aimed at mentioning products casually so that passers-by will overhear a name-drop and it should be no surprise that this kind of marketing has found its way online as well. Nvidia is one of a number of companies that has been accused of seeding online forums with fake-fan support for their products. Of course, when the truth comes out real forum users are often none-too-pleased with the deception and the lame excuses provided by the marketers or companies accused.

You Suck Judd Apatow
There are many fans of the new movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall - unfortunately, most women named Sarah Marshall aren’t among them. Non-traditional-style scrawled ads posted around the country have featured disparaging phrases like “You Suck Sarah Marshall” leading up to the film’s release. Perhaps it never occurred to the non-traditional marketers behind these campaigns that there are, in fact, many real-life women with that name. Responses have ranged from frustration to raging retaliation (with comparable “You Suck” signs aimed at the film’s director). The lucky woman, however, who owns was relatively pleased with the tens of thousands of visitors her website received.

Lite-Brite Bomb-Scare
Of course, no discussion of non-traditional marketing gone wrong could possibly be complete without the 2007 Boston bomb scare. A number of LED signs designed to promote the television program Aqua Teen Hunger Force were mistakenly identified as explosive devices. At the time, these cute little blinking cartoon figures probably seemed like a brilliant way to raise curiosity. In retrospect, in this post-911 world installing a series of complex wire-filled devices with their own power sources on public structural elements like bridge supports was probably a tremendously terrible idea. Worse yet, the marketing company and device designers failed to notify the police of the devices’ true purpose even after learnings that they were being treated as bombs by authorities. Though no jail sentences resulted from the incident Turner Broadcasting paid millions of dollars to city police and Homeland Security to resolve the matter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

When Innovation meets Inspiration

Thanks for all the emails and comments on the new blog, the response has been great. Keep them coming. Now onto...

As we see the push for more and more 'retailtainment' and non-traditional advertising, the walls continue to fall and retailers are engaged and brands are AVIDLY looking for new ways to connect with their customers. Here are some great innovations that can help your brand stand out in these 'cluttered' environments.

I might dig deeper into the specifics for a few of these in future entries.

Bluecasting: Your Cereal Is Calling
The next time you get a message on your phone while you're out, it could be from your Mom, your friend or the Coca-Cola display your standing beside in the grocery store. Welcome to the world of bluecasting, this works via Bluetooth and allows the sender to broadcast content - for instance, video clips, interviews and sound samples - to mobile phones within range of their server. Servers will be located at high traffic areas, such as railway stations and alongside billboards. The technology has been around for a while; one past use that stands out is when Coldplay used it for the release of their album 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head'. When you walked by one of the Coldplay transits ads in the London Tube, your phone would buzz and you would have the chance to download a sample track from the record. This may have been a little early for it's time but as consumers become more digitally educated, I think we'll see this tactic used more.

Floorcasting: Get In The Game
This is a very cool way to engage customers, not that cheap but effective. An 'image' is projected from above onto the floor of the retail environment, the project also scans the area at the same time. This allows consumers to effect the image or even play a game i,e, Expedia used it to let people kick around a beach ball in the sand. The image can be programmed to react when people walk over it or as a tool for a brand ambassador. There is a neat one at the Sydney Duty Free store of a wine bottle in a pool...the water ripples if you step on it.

Outdoor Projections: Get Outside
HBO's TV show 'Voyeur' cleaned up in Cannes this year with this medium, winning the Outdoor Grand Prix. Their winning campaign was an image of the inside of a building in full motion that was projected on the side of a building. It looked like they took the wall down so you could see people walking from room to room. In Toronto, Boombox Marketing projected giant apes climbing up the sides of downtown buildings for the release of the King Kong video game. This can be a great tool with the right creative. Some shops that do these type of projections will do more of a guerilla type schedule, moving the projections around the city. Since this is a projected light, your target needs to be out after dark.

Interactive Windows: Everyone Loves A Peep Show
From Orange's 'gesture based window shopping' to Elle McPherson's interactive peep show windows, we are seeing retailers turning to technology to help engage customers. Orange's amazing new interactive window offers shoppers the chance to browse through products by simply waving their hands in front of the window. Elle McPherson's large windows for Fashion Week in New York interacted with people that simply walked by the front of the store. The Deisel store in Milan also engaged people with an interactive sculpture that showed them a reverberation of their reflections that were projected in front of them. The haunting, big brotheresque installation echoes the life of the facing square and the people that pass through it. It captures both movement and time, acting as a kind of digital mirror, albeit one that delivers back a very distorted and twisted reflection.

Pop Up Retail: Now You See It, Now You Don't
We are seeing more and more of these types of executions, from Charmin's well known pop-up washrooms in Times Square to the recent opening of Reebok's Flash Pop-Up store on Bowery in New York for the past holiday season. Reebok's concept was taken one step further by offering limited edition merchandise that was made available weekly only at the Flash location. This stores 'pop up' for limited time using a variety of structures including vacant store fronts, tractor trailers, shipping containers and in Charim's case it was built from scratch just for the execution. I think this trend will continue to help brands engage consumers in new ways.

Online Virtual Stores: Makin' It Real
A plain old website isn't going to be enough anymore. Amazon knows this and they recently launched Zoomi,i an online store with more of a bookstore feel then your normal online shopping experience. Zoomii's 'virtual bookshelf' allows you to peruse over 21,000 books from Amazon's catalog. Difference is, the books are visualized as stacks in shelves, with covers ordered alphabetically by author & organized by genre. following the typical Google Map interaction metaphor, users can click & drag across Zoomii's landscape of shelves, zoom in & out, or select a book's cover to receive basic statistical information. Watch for more retailers to follow as consumers look for better online shopping experiences.

Scentvertising: Do You Smell Burnt Toast?
Familiar with the “Got Milk?” ads? They just took the ad campaign to a new level. Using a new technology called “Magniscent” they made scented bus shelters. “what goes better with chocolate chip cookies than a big glass of cold milk?” The idea was to attract people’s attention using the scent which is emitted from a special adhesive strips that has the aroma of chocolate chip cookies. Great smelling bus shelters are the new trend! A relief from that bad body odour from the person next to you while waiting for your bus!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Looking Forward To 2009

Well, there are a lot of different sources out there debating upcoming consumer and retail trends for 2009. Here are a few from Jeremy and the peeps over at Trend Hunter that I think stand out.

Return To The Kitchen
Heading into a year of tough times for many of us, look for more people to be spending more time in the kitchen. Dining out can be expensive so people will be more inclined to spend those special nights at home over a meal they have prepared with some of their newly purchased kitchen gadgets and accessories. Would also seem like a good time to buy that time on or sponsor targeted cooking shows and chefs.

Hollywood Viral
Watch for more and more stars as they take their craft online to promote themselves and their upcoming projects. We have all seen Paris Hilton's mock presidential ads, Will Ferrell's Funny Guy site and 50-Cent's million member MySpace page. With most of Hollywood's target online, this is where the stars will need to be to connect and continue to develop relationships with their fans.

Shockvertising 2.0
With marketing budgets dropping, watch for companies as they start to push to get more bang for their buck (a good sign for those of us in activation and promotions). They will continue to look for something that will drive even more word of mouth both on and off line. The Showtime TV show 'Dexter' stood out recently for it's new season with everything from bloody urinals to severed hands in butcher shop windows. It's time to risk a little more to try and make a bigger mark.

Ageless Inspiration
From 41 year-old Olympians, to 80 year-old YouTube stars, we are seeing many changes in the way 'seniors' are defined moving forward. With many boomers approaching the age of retirement, we will see a big push on products and services targeted at this massive market. 60 is the new 40!

Physical Customization
People want to make products their own, have some fun and be individuals. Converse, Nike and Steve Madden are just a few of the brands that have jumped on this 'brandwagon' and allowing consumers to customize their products to fit their personality. Watch for this trend continue to grow in 2009.