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For when I need more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing, media or message.


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#NOVAMKT: 5 things to know about a Vegas trade show

I just returned from the 2015 NAHB International Builders’ Show and the second annual Design and Construction Week. Wow — what a time. I tagged along with my husband, Trey, the editor of Door and Window Market magazine, and I had hoped to live tweet one of the world’s largest trade shows for marketing students at Northern Virginia Community College; however, I realized that what I learned and what I want to share with MKT students is best served in short blog posts.

The first is a quick overview of what you need to know about a trade show in Vegas:

1. You will get lost every time you leave your room to go to the trade show. Convention centers aren’t a high school gym; they’re huge and often have labyrinthine floor plans. Use the buddy system and go with a co-worker. Use the maps provided by the organizers and route out a plan the night before so you’ll know exactly where you need to go. Allow for extra time between appointments. Everyone will be in your way because they are as lost as you are.

2. You will not have time to party like a rock star. Your day will be jammed packed from 8 a.m. (or earlier!) until 5 p.m. with exhibits, education sessions and networking opportunities. You will be exhausted. Our day started at 6 or 6:15 a.m.

3. Your feet will be killing you by the end of each day. Plan to walk more than you ever have in your working life — and feel like you haven’t really gone anywhere. (Note to those who have waited tables: You’ll probably have no problem with this.) Ladies, your cutest heels were not made for walking this much floor space. Be smart about your shoe choices. Guys, that goes for you, too. We saw attendees of both sexes who looked like they were barely walking by the end of the second day.

4. You will not have the energy to party like a rock star. (See Nos. 2 and 3.)

5. Take enough business cards — and get a lot of business cards. You’ll be meeting a lot of really nice people — many of whom might want to do business with you very soon. Take notes if you have to, to remember names and businesses.

NEXT UP: 5 more things to know about a Vegas trade show

LATER: How do I Instagram that??? Challenges of B2B social

RELATED: DWM takes you inside #IBSVegas

 

Editor’s note: This series is part of an experimental guest lecture on marketing and B2B social media for Northern Virginia Community College, where I am an adviser to the Marketing Department. These posts are written in line with my advisory role, not in my role as audience engagement editor for USA TODAY. Travel, expenses and the consequences of foolish decisions were paid in full by me.


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FLASHBACK: Remember Ellen Feiss? From Apple’s ‘Switch’ campaign?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published in July 2011. I’m reposting as a courtesy to the readers who arrived here after googling Ms. Feiss. 

It’s amazing the distractions a student can find doing research on YouTube. I stumbled on one of Apple’s 2002 “Switch” adsTBWA\Chiat\Day‘s followup campaign to 1998’s “Think Different.” The “Switch” ads, directed by Errol Morris, supposedly featured real people who had switched from a PC to a Mac, “telling their story in their own words,” according to the press release. The ads were simple, shot against a white background, and were ripe for parodying

In this clip, high school student Ellen Feiss tells us how she lost a “really good paper” while working on her PC. And although the success of the “Switch” campaign has been debated,  it’s nine years later and I remember Ellen Feiss and her paper. I bet others do, too — which should settle any question over the campaign’s success.

Consider this: It’s hard to remember in 2011 how difficult that sort of imprint would have been to achieve for Apple, despite its re-emergence in the market the late 1990s with the iMac G3. PCs still ruled in 2002; the iPod — having been released only in late 2001 — had not yet saturated mainstream society. There was no iPhone. Tech was not that personal yet. The term “viral marketing” wasn’t used in everyday conversation. YouTube was still three years away. Even so, Apple and Morris got our attention and piqued our curiosity: “Have you seen the new Apple ad? What’s up with that girl? Is she real? Is she high?” Despite the speculation, we were interested in what she had to say — and we knew the brand she was promoting and still do.


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How to not totally suck at email

20130612-130213.jpg

Copyright 2013. Jacqui Barrineau.

You would think in 2013 that we as an evolved society wouldn’t have to have discussions about how to write an effective workplace email.

And you’d be wrong.

We get so many emails, IMs and other messages every day that we’re dying from technostress. “Technostress” is not a new term – it’s an old ailment. The theory is the more technology we humans are introduced to, the more we freak out. Perhaps not screaming-and-kicking freaking out, but as message after message pummels us, the stress builds and takes a toll on us mentally and physically. Crying when you get five IMs at EXACTLY the same time is a good example of this First-World problem.

Aw, c’mon, is it really that bad?

Well, think about how many messages we have to respond to in a day – and then think about how much information we have to process. In their 2009 study, UC-San Diego researchers Roger Bohn and James Short estimated in that 2008 that the average person consumes 100,500 words a day. 100,500 words. And that was in 2008. With the explosion of social media and mobile devices over the past five years, we have to wonder how many are we consuming in 2013?

The bad news is there seems to be no end in sight. Until society begins to place more value on calm, effective listening – and no, we have ZERO idea when that unicorn of a utopia will emerge – we’ll continue to suffer as we try to interpret and digest ineffective IMs and emails that fail to inform and only distract.

Ohmigod! I just realized I’m a terrible communicator! How can I change?

While the first step is admitting the problem — “My emails really suck!” — here are five tips to help you change your evil email ways:

  1.  Use the subject field! Indicate why this email is important. There is nothing helpful about no subject line or a subject line that says “Hi!” or “Tuesday.” Tell the reader what this is about, why they should care. Indicate the email’s purpose.
  2. Don’t write in huge chunks of texts. Your reader won’t have time to read it all. Think in bullets. Who, what, when, where, how. There’s a lot of power in brevity. We’re a nation of overstressed people who are skimmers – not careful readers. (If we were still careful readers, there wouldn’t be Twitter.)
  3. Find an effective email font. How about one that was created in the past 10-15 years? Sans serifs are good, but for the love of all that’s 21st century, stay away from Arial that’s larger than 11 points. The white space and lines blur together, making your huge chunks of type even more difficult to read.
  4. Don’t use email as a way to avoid someone. They’ll just find you anyway, and when they do, whatever conflict that’s between you two will only be worse.
  5. Think before you hit “forward” or “cc.”

 
Do you really need to tell us this?

Yes.

An exchange that may seem boring and innocuous between two participants may be interpreted differently by a third. Furthermore, the person you’re communicating with may not want you to share their communication!


To: Manager McButterPants
From: Sad Gal Sally

Subject: Wednesday – doc appt

Hi McButterPants,

I just wanted to let you know that I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday for that small insect that has burrowed itself into my left leg and threatens to give me flesh-eating disease. I should be in before noon.

Thanks,

Sad Gal Sally

* * *

 

To: Sad Gal Sally
From: Manager McButterPants
cc: Loser in Cube 3772
Subject: Wednesday – doc appt

Hi Sad Gal,

That sounds fine. Good luck with that insect removal from your leg! Hope you don’t get flesh-eating disease!

Loser in Cube 3772: Sad Gal won’t be in until noon Wednesday. You can follow up on your sales meeting then. FYI.

Thanks,

McButterPants

These five tips may seem silly, but there is serious advice here: If we don’t become more mindful of our messages and how we craft them, we’re just screaming into the hurricane of information — and we will never be heard.


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REWIND: J’adore, tu adores: Charlize Theron for Dior’s J’adore

ED’S NOTE: This post was originally published December 2011. It reflects my interest as a marketing student in advertising, search-engine optimization, and viral marketing. No agencies or products are endorsed. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.

In what is a nice break from the nearly insufferable, panic-inducing holiday ads of the season, EDITED 11-30-2012 Prime-time viewers are getting an eyeful of glamour, thanks to Dior’s J’adore “film” by Jean-Jacques Annaud, that features the always-gorgeous Charlize Theron, and co-stars such greats as Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe.
 

 
The commercial, which was filmed in the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, isn’t new; it was released in early September. However, it’s getting airtime this holiday shopping season, as it should, because the spot easily and smartly appeals to both sexes: the women who want to be Charlize Theron, and the husbands and boyfriends who want to be with Charlize Theron.

What caught my attention was the music that propelled the viewer through the couture-show setting: 2009’s Heavy Cross by Gossip — with Beth Ditto‘s punk princess vocals and Brace Paine’s hypnotic bass riff — was compelling enough to make me grab my iPhone and Shazam it. (I have since played this song to death.)

At the time of this writing, this clip on YouTube had 1,211,325 views, 4,404 likes, 84 dislikes, and 474 comments.

From the YouTube comments:

I have a theory, each of the girls represent a perfume:

Grace Kelly (Miss Dior Cherie)
Marlene Dietrich (Hypnotic Poison)
Marilyn Monroe (Dior Addict or J’adore)
Charlize Theron (J’adore obviously)

❤ Dior!
 

~ franzchick66,
YouTube member

 

Nice theory, franzchick66. I can’t afford to smell that good, so I’ll have to take your word.

The subscribers to Dior’s YouTube channel are active and enthusiastic about the “films.” I’ll readily admit that I know nothing about couture, but even so, I still remember Dior’s 2007 smokin’ hot, 30-second “film” that has Charlize striding through a mansion, elegantly disrobing as only she can to Marvin Gaye’s 1978 Funky Space Reincarnation.

And that, kids, is what they call an impression.
 

 
About the Dior Channel
(As of Dec. 13, 2011)

  • Total Upload Views: 3,535,200
  • Joined: Oct. 14, 2005
  • Subscribers: 7,288


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Allstate’s Mayhem: A study in car maintenance

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post reflects my interest as a marketing student in advertising and social media marketing. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers. No agencies or products are endorsed.
 

 

You know you need new wiper blades, so why don’t you take 10 minutes to replace them?

 
It’s an irritating task that we never do when we’re supposed to, and the ad folks for Allstate (Nasdaq: ALL) know this. So in a new 30-second ad, posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, Allstate’s Mayhem is our worn-out wiper blades that leave us defenseless against the torrential downpour we’re guaranteed to encounter just hours after we say to ourselves, “I need new wiper blades.”

Worn-out wiper blades represent a self-imposed risk we take when we procrastinate, a mark of our stupidity — not necessarily Mayhem in its truest form.

But when we look at the Mayhem ads with a more critical eye, we see they’re funny and engaging, but nothing that happens is really devastating. A kitchen fire is kinda funny. A dryer fire? Hilarious. And really, who among us doesn’t love it when a drunk football fan runs in front of our car? No, Mayhem isn’t that ominous, which is why the character Dean Winters portrays is a great product character: He sells insurance that is supposed to help us when shit happens — without making us fear the possibilities of kitchen and dryer fires, or bad referees who run screaming from the stadium.

You all know this stuff, and it’s obvious that I do. That’s why this is my last post on the Mayhem character. What began as a roundup of clever ads that caught my gnat-size attention evolved into an experiment in search-engine optimization that ultimately hijacked this blog and its theme: I ended up focusing solely on funny advertisements, and even then, I wasn’t able to write about them as critically or in-depth as I would have liked. As it happens, my time is to blog is very limited these days, and I can’t spend it writing about Mayhem. I’m grateful to Allstate and the users of YouTube (and Facebook) for all of your support, but it’s past time for me to focus on other campaigns, other marketing elements. (That last part is code for: I’m ready to geek out over product packaging and placement! Who’s with me?)

That said, I’ll conclude this post like I’ve concluded the other Mayhem posts, with a nod to Mayhem’s popularity: At 6:30 p.m., about five hours after it was posted on Facebook, the video had 8747 likes 232 comments, and 773 shares.The timestamp on YouTube says the video was posted Sept. 26, 2012; as of 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27, there were 341 views, 0 likes and 0 comments — but it was early still.
 

EARLIER: A roundup of 2011 Mayhem commercials

 
AGENCY: Leo Burnett, the agency that brought us product characters such as the Marlboro Man, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam.


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Toyota Venza girl angry about Triscuits

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post reflects my interest in advertising as a marketing student. No agencies or products are endorsed. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.
 
Our heroine from the Toyota Venza commercial can be seen in the new Triscuits commercial.
 

 
That’s all I have to say about that right now because I have to go to dinner.
 

Like this commercial? Hate it?

 

Tell me why! (No registration required.)

 

Like the ad? Show Allyn Rachel the love on her Facebook page.

* * * * * * * *

RELATED: Toyota Venza Girl plugs eBay

 

EARLIER: Toyota Venza Girl on Yahoo!

 

EARLIER: More on the girl in Toyota Venza commercial

 

EVEN EARLIER: Toyota Venza: ‘That’s not a real puppy’

 

RELATED: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook

 


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Allstate’s Mayhem: A quick case study in bad DIY

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post reflects my interest as a marketing student in advertising and social media marketing. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers. No agencies or products are endorsed.
 

 
Why haven’t we seen this before? In a 15-second clip, posted on YouTube on Aug. 5, Mayhem tries to use an electric buzzsaw. (Phhhht.) At the time of this writing, it had 303 views, 56 likes, and 1 dislike (though I might click the thumbs-down myself.) At 9:48 p.m. Aug. 5, the clip had been posted on the Mayhem Facebook page for about an hour, during which 2,091 people liked the ad, 496 had shared it, and 66 people had commented on it, including Amie who said:
 

Crushin’ on Mayhem! 🙂

 
No one ever crushed on the Geico lizard, did they?

 

EARLIER: A roundup of 2011 Mayhem commercials

 
AGENCY: Leo Burnett, the agency that brought us product characters such as the Marlboro Man, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam.