Using marketing to smash one gender stereotype at a time – just in time for the holidays. This is the time of year when children start to get out their markers to circle the latest Toys R Us catalog or write Santa letters of what they simply must have this season. Girls are dreaming of Barbie and boys of trucks. Oh wait, was that a gender stereotype?
Meet GoldieBlox, a construction-themed board game that combines a love for reading and characters with engineering creativity such as Legos. Creator, Debbie Sterling, a game developer whose Kickstarter project nearly doubled its goal as she set out to inspire girls’ love for engineering just as erector sets and the like have done for boys over the years.
The target demographic for the game is girls aged 5-9 years old. In her research, Sterling found that only 11% of engineers are women and girls start losing interest in science at 8 years old – and GoldieBlox wants to change that. The set comes with a storybook, figurines, and a construction set. Sterling isn’t a hardcore feminist where the toys can’t be pink or the characters can’t be beauty queens. Rather, she finds the balance of letting girls use their imagination and problem-solving skills to help the characters save the day.
The commercial went viral and has many talking about the impact it’s having on gender stereotype barriers. The two-minute video features three little girls dressed in hardhats and goggles playing with an elaborate chain-reaction apparatus to the tune of Beastie Boys’ “Girls”. If you remember the original lyrics, “Girls, to do the dishes, Girls, to clean up my room, Girls, to do the laundry, Girls, and in the bathroom.” Anything but promoting today’s modern girl. The commercial takes those lyrics to another level with: “It’s time to change/We deserve to see a range/’Cause all our toys look just the same/And we would like to use our brains.” Bravo GoldieBlox, bravo!
It would be great to get more gender-neutral toys out there for children so these stereotypes aren’t ingrained in their heads from a young age. This young San-Francisco based company is just getting their feet wet and already are in the running for one of four free 2014 Super Bowl ads paid for by Intuit for a small business competition.
Anyone who has worked in the enterprise technology space has had this happen to them: You kick off with a new client, say a data center automation company. Everything is going smoothly between the two teams, but then the VP of Marketing, the VP of Sales or the even the CEO breezes into the room, smartphone in hand, for a quick check-in with the new vendor team.
He/she sits down, and the first thing out of their mouth is: “So, when can you get us in [insert consumer technology blog/publication here]?”
An awkward silence fills the room, the client team looks shamefully at their feet, and your PR team has to try and explain something that comes up all too often: Enterprise technology and consumer technology public relations are alike in name only.
It seems obvious enough, but the key differences between the public relations practices driving enterprise and consumer technology campaigns can be lost on those not familiar with either process. Rather than scream at the ignorant lump (don't ever use that term) who just smeared verbal excrement (or this one) over your carefully crafted meeting, here are a few handy questions to quickly defuse the enterprise vs. consumer PR debate (that I have actually used):
Who Are Your Buyers?
This is the first question that is often used to help differentiate the consumer and enterprise technology spaces: who is actually buying a company's technology, either illustrated by anecdotes or buyer personas? This puts the enterprise and consumer worlds in much sharper focus – CIOs and network engineers are a far different category than gadget-mongers and tech-savvy, stay-at-home moms.
Is Your Price Point Relevant for the Consumer Market?
If the first question wasn't a wake up call, this one should shake some reality into the room. Consumer technologies are typically at a far, far lower price point than enterprise solutions – we're talking exponentially. Most enterprise-class systems will, to a degree, cost more than the average car.
Where Do You Want to Be a Leader?
Finally, the last question should center on where the dissenter wants their company to be a leader. Sure, it'd be sexy to be on the front page of Mashable or above the fold on USA Today. But would that drive more leads than a feature in InformationWeek or Network World for their enterprise product? Does being read by millions of uninterested consumers mean more to them than getting a poignant message in front of an audience of key buyers only?
The consumer/enterprise debate comes up far more than it should – to be honest, many technology blogs and publications stand in both arenas. Outlets like Wired and Mashable cover enterprise and consumer technology interchangeably, but at the end of the day, common sense needs to rule:
Should hundreds of thousands of dollars be spent on a vanity project? Or should that money go towards actually driving sales?
Once money enters the picture, the debate should settle itself.
Shivering? Feeling an urge to don insane outfits and flail around with impunity? Sounds like you have a bad case of the HARLEM SHAKES.
The Harlem Shake videos infesting YouTube right now have little to do with the Harlem Shake, an 80s dance that’s…well, actually a dance. The viral videos are all roughly 30 seconds long and set to Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” each starting with a perfectly normal scene (an office, a military parade ground, etc.) with a single person dancing. Then, at the words ‘Harlem Shake,’ **** gets real and everyone goes crazy – no really, watch the video.
How long until the enterprise adopts this as a kooky team-building video or an attempt to go viral, like they did with PSY’s “Gangnam Style?” …I’ll give it a week.
So what do you think about the Harlem Shake? Hilarious trend or another sign of the End of Days?
On February 3rd, people all over the United States will tune in to CBS to watch the most exciting event of the year…Super Bowl XLVII of Advertising. Yeah, I’m sure two cities (tops) and those who placed high-stakes bets may actually be tuning in for the football game, as well, but most viewers will be tuned in to see which companies spent an insane $4 million for 30 seconds of exposure. Yes, I said $4 million – the highest price tag for Super Bowl ads ever, up $500,000 from last year’s event according to a recent Huffington Post article.
Back on January 8th, Broadcasting and Cable also reported
that the ads for this year’s game have officially sold out, although not as quickly as in the past two years. Maybe the price tag hike had some companies double thinking the purchase. The article also quoted CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves saying, "Yes, we are sold out. But obviously, if some of those movie companies want to come in at the last minute and pay us five or six million dollars, we will find a place for you." (Obviously!)
But how do the Super Bowl ads of the past compare to one another? The folks at USA Today are counting down the top 25 ads in honor of the 25th anniversary of their Ad Meter. They’ll be revealing one per day in the month of January until they announce the number 1 ad on January 28th. Be sure to check them out as they are announced here. Here's number 21 on their list and one of my personal faves:
Want to see who is already signed up for the big day of advertising (and, maybe football) on February 3rd? Business Insider has been reporting on confirmed participants, which include:
- Best Buy
- Century 21
- Ford (Lincoln)
- Fiat (Chrysler)
- Gildan’s Activewear (WHO?)
- Go Daddy
- SodaStream International
- Taco Bell
- The Walking Dead
- Wonderful Pistachios
If you’re anything like us SpeakerBoxers, you love food. That's why last month, after we all felt sick from consuming 2 dozen Georgetown Cupcakes we won in HomeSnap’s Twitter contest, we started drawing up plans for an app called “Remorsel.” Our app was going to include user-based reviews of favorite dishes (or, in Georgetown Cupcake’s case, flavors) at local eateries in the DC area, including photos of said dishes.
Well, I guess we have a leak in the office, because somehow Yelp caught wind and announced some updates to their app today that clearly were stolen from our masterful plan that we never wrote down or really developed to any extent. According to Travis B. (a Yelp product manager) in his recent blog post entitled “Yelp Menus: Connecting People with Great Local Food Porn:”
“I hate to break it to you, but your little problem is about to get much more serious thanks to the brand new mouthwatering Menus feature Yelp is rolling out today. We’ve combed the site to compile visual menus incorporating Yelp reviews and user-uploaded food pictures. Now you can not only read about that decadent chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake swimming in a pool of hot fudge, you can see real users’ photos of said gut-busting dessert from every angle right alongside the menu item.”
Along with the graphics, they will also now have a “favorite dish” option that will show us the preferred dishes at specific restaurants. Since these new features accomplish everything we intended our new app to do, I guess we’ll have to go back to the drawing board on the app front. Or, we can simply hope that one of the flavors we submitted for the Lays “Next Great Potato Chip Flavor” competition is a winner.
But, the new app features aren’t the only announcement Yelp made today. Looks like they’re also putting their foot down on fake reviews. According to their official release, they’ve launched a pop-up consumer alert feature that will notify their users of businesses who are tooting their own horn, so to speak. To punish the offending businesses, violators’ names will remain on “the list” for 90 days, dissuading them from continuing to falsify their businesses reviews. Sounds good to me!
I’ll say upfront that I’m venting more than anything in this blog post. But I do have a point to make…
I am from Detroit and love my hometown pro sports teams, Tigers included. With that said, I’m running on very little sleep this month, but am not complaining since it was their run to the World Series that kept me up night after night. We fell short to the San Francisco Giants last night, and I went to bed sulking and scratching my head for answers. With a tear in my eye, I put away my World Series sweatshirt that my husband bought me at game three, and prayed I’d wear it in happier times next season. When the ninth inning concluded, I couldn’t have turned off my television any faster, and needless to say, I’ve since avoided all articles, videos and SportsCenter segments. But I never considered abandoning my personal email account. Maybe I should have.
I awoke to an email from a national sporting goods retailer (a place at which I shop regularly here in Detroit) congratulating the Giants on their World Series win and encouraging shoppers to buy the official championship shirt and hat. Needless to say, I stared at the email for a few seconds, muttered a few expletives and hit delete. I’m not a sore loser, don't get me wrong. But I just couldn’t believe that I had received that email. Like I mentioned, I shop there regularly, most recently buying Tigers apparel. In fact, just a couple weeks ago I purchased three team t-shirts for my out of town nieces and nephews to wear, hoping to spread some luck to the team. Pairing that type of purchase history with my debit/credit cards, all of which have Michigan billing addresses, it should be obvious that I’m not a Giants fan.
What’s my point? Know your audience. Understand the basics of their demographics and use the information wisely. Don’t group everyone together just because it’s convenient. Take the time to find out what interests them, their history (maybe pages they’ve viewed on your website, past interactions, social media activity, etc.) and how you can provide value.
Passionate Tigers fan? Yes. Unhappy customer? Yes. Deal breaker? No. I’ll get over it. After all, I do have some Lions gear to stock up on…
- Mary Evans
For too long, our social media activities have been under threat. Not by malware or by unscrupulous data mining, nay, the greatest danger to our online habits comes in the form of babies. Or rather, pictures of babies, if the response to Unbaby.me is any indication.
A browser plug-in, Unbaby.me essentially rips and replaces pictures of babies on Facebook feeds with, and I quote, “awesome stuff.” Currently, this means pictures of kitties, but the code is flexible enough to support RSS feeds of other images, like puppies or Minuteman rockets.
The plug-in is apparently crushing it, with over 2,000 likes in its first 30 minutes of availability and is already cruising past 55,000. But what does this say about social media habits in general?
In my mind, Unbaby.me is the next evolution of social add-ons or potentially even value adds for established networks, like Twitter or Facebook. Imagine if Facebook offered you a pay-for-filtering option – maybe $5/month – that would allow you to specify content that you want to see in your feed versus hiding specific users. Or, if targeted ads continue their insidious growth in the social world, maybe there the soon-to-be value-add will be an ad blocker, available for a low monthly cost.
Unbaby.me is a funny, some might say disturbing, bit of software that serves what may be a niche need. But I think content filters are one of the many ways forward in social media, and could leave us with a new method of monetization for social network operators.
What do you think? Are you up in arms about hidden babies or the lack thereof?
A couple of months ago, Ford Motor Company launched its “Go Further” campaign – a clever series of ads that began by omitting the Ford name and well-known blue oval logo (See add below). After a week of anonymous ads, they reinserted their brand markers. Apparently, the idea behind this new campaign was that Ford felt its brand image was still a bit negative, and they wanted to show off their new, sleek designs without generating the current assumptions people come to when the see the Ford logo.
A Media Post article provided the following insights as to how Ford felt about the success of the campaign, citing that, “the new ‘Go Further’ campaign has done remarkably well -- name or no name. The launch ad was the number one viral video for the week of April 30, garnering 3.4 million views (which Ford says equals the average views from this year's Super Bowl campaigns). Also, per Ford, 40% of visitors to the GoFurther.com site clicked through to Ford.com; and 9% of Web traffic came from California, followed by New York. Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania rounded out the lead markets for the ads' ability to generate Web traffic to GoFurther.com. The sentiment was also 95% positive based on Twitter comments, said the automaker.”
But, attracting consumers wasn’t all Ford was after with the new brand messaging. According to a recent Forbes article, “The company is exhorting its 166,000 worldwide employees to ‘Go Further,’ too, because executives believe that making Ford’s ‘internal brand’ consistent with its new external messaging can create profound synergies that benefit the company in significant ways.”
Although external marketing typically takes precedence over internal marketing, I think they are equally important. Making sure employees know the mission and vision of the company is essential, especially for a company whose employees are face to face with consumers each and every day, selling the product. If Ford’s own employees don’t believe the brand encompasses “people serving people, ingenuity and the attainable” in “character, appeal and value,” as projected by the new “Go Further” campaign, it is hard to expect consumers to feel the same way. Internal marketing is something each and every company needs to take into account while executing rebranding or marketing initiatives. It’s not just the folks in the communications department that need to be on board – it’s the entire company.
"Our beer choice says WHAT?"
You've heard it a thousand times: Correlation is not causation.
Just because I wrote a love letter to Jessica Alba, and then nine months later she gave birth, it doesn't mean that my writing is some sort of magical celebrity aphrodisiac (although that would help to explain the Helen Mirren pregnancy).
But here's the trouble: We're now living in the age of Big Data. And in the age of Big Data, there's going to be a LOT more correlation -- bucket-loads -- while the amount of causation in the universe is likely to remain the same.
So how do we -- as a species -- armed with our new gigantic data sets, combat the well-documented tendency to fabricate meaning from insignificant, random nonsense?
Well, one way not to do it is with beer.
In February, Charles Duhigg wrote in the New York Times Magazine about how "companies learn your secrets." He was investigating how retailers use their monster data sets to predict significant life changes for their customers, and then market their products accordingly. As it turns out, newly divorced consumers tend to purchase different brands of beer.
To be clear, this is an attempt at predictive modeling, not assigning causation. But the central question is the same -- coincidence or insight?
I guess the cynical viewpoint is that it doesn't matter. If you can use data to segment customer populations effectively, who cares what the underlying psychological factors might be?
In this way, business intelligence is sort of like stereotyping. Sure stereotyping ticks people off, but it's a good way to make some crude, quick generalizations. Only trouble is… it ticks people off!
Just because you CAN market to consumers based on data-driven presumptive generalities doesn't mean that you SHOULD, or that your customers will like it.
Could this be one of those classic instances where corporations get dumber by getting smarter?
I can't answer that definitively right now, because Meredith Vieira is going into labor.
Since CES in January, Microsoft has been holding a marketing campaign to drive attention to its new line of smartphones. The campaign, called the “Smoked by Windows Phone Challenge,” invites anyone to bring his or her iOS or Android device into a Windows Store to compete against a Windows Phone to see which smartphone can complete one of several everyday tasks the fastest. Anyone who beats the challenge wins a special Hunger Games edition laptop valued at $1,000; “losers” have the choice of turning in their losing smartphone and receiving a new Windows phone. Also, those who did not win the challenge are asked to pose for a photo of them with their losing device, along with a caption along the lines of “my [Insert Andoid or iOS device] got smoked in the Windows Phone Challenge”.
I was surprised to learn about this challenge while I was strolling past a Microsoft Store last week on my lunch break. Although I didn’t participate in the challenge, I did stop in the store and checked out some of their phones – which I was actually impressed with. There’s no denying the phones are quick and I really liked the home screen display and camera features. I was just really confused as to why I had no idea this was going on – until I got back to the office.
Harry McCracken / TIME.com
Upon Googling news about the competition, I was shocked to find the coverage was almost entirely negative. I came across stories such as “Microsoft Apologizes After Botched Windows Phone Challenge
”, “Windows Phone challenge attracts a bad element: Lawyers
” and Is the Microsoft Windows Phone Challenge a Scam?
It appears most people think the competition wasn’t a competition at all, but a huge con. I agree it wasn’t a competition, but a marketing campaign rigged to make Microsoft and their new phones look good. Looks like it back-fired. The few stories emerging of people winning and being denied their prizes have not been worth it. I probably would have been impressed seeing the number of winners vs. the much larger number of those who did not win the challenge, but that isn’t at all what is being reported.
Despite the negativity surrounding the campaign, however, it did entice a few colleagues and myself to check out the phones. I’m interested to see what information Microsoft releases following the campaign – how many people participated and how many free Windows Phones they gave out. Although positive publicity surrounding their campaign would have been ideal, the fact that people are talking about it at all may mean enough people are paying attention to give the phone a try. I definitely think there is a place in the mobile market for a third operating system, but we’ll just have to see if people jump on board.
The competition, which was supposed to end last week, has now been extended until tomorrow, April 5th.