Puttin on the Ritz

June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm (advertising, marketing, photography, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Image

I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Within the pages of one of the magazines in the room was this ad for The Ritz-Carlton. I love the visual suggestion of a cityscape created out of vintage and retro style product placement. It’s a strong and very masculine visual instantly recognizable as a skyline before your eye is able to deconstruct the image into it’s various parts of bottles, clocks, paperweights, flashlights and all other manner of recognizable and non-descript elements. The imagery is so powerful I kept flipping to the page with the ad just to decipher more of what made up the various forms. This was my favorite ad in the series, but not the only one that included the clever use of forms. Check out more here.

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Can’t Email That Important Client? Facebook Them!

October 7, 2009 at 10:19 pm (marketing, networking, News, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Rose Brand's Crystal Series at the University of Tampa

Rose Brand's Crystal Series of stretch fabric at the University of Tampa

Through my blog and twitter updates I have cited many case studies of social media as a networking and branding tool, way to maintain community involvement and policing, and even a case or two of how it can make you unemployed or put in jail. But I saw a tweet on September 25 that gave social media a true business-to-business validation. The tweet came from @Rosebrand and simply stated,  “Just used facebook to communicate with a client regarding an emergency order. Was not able to connect via phone or e-mail but FB worked!” This got my attention.

Here’s the back story – who is Rose Brand: “Rose Brand is the leader in flame retardant fabric, theatrical draperies and production supplies for entertainment, schools, events, exhibitions and houses of worship.” If you have attended a concert, corporate event, tradeshow, or theatrical performance, chances are you’ve seen their work.

…And now for the story: Toward the end of the day on a Friday a member of the Rose Brand West sales staff received a call from a major scene shop in Las Vegas. They had ordered a large amount of NeoFlex, which can be considered a specialty item due to the specific parts and pieces needed. Unfortunately the contact information on the order, and the contact for the project were not one in the same. Thus conventional communication methods – phone, fax, email, smoke signals, semaphore, etc – were rendered moot. Due to the time difference the East Coast office was closed, and the original sales person was unable to be reached. In addition to these communication problems, the item in question was only available from the New Jersey warehouse. Rose Brand operates two warehouses, one on each coast, but they have a vast inventory so some items are only available through one warehouse.

So how does social media come through and save the day? The client contact in this case is a “friend” on Rose Brand’s Facebook Page, and happened to be online at the time. A quick message was sent via Facebook that explained the predicament. That message led to the acquisition of the proper contact information and then a call from the client – 5 minutes later, problem solved. As a Rose Brand representative stated: “In this case Facebook proved to be invaluable. As the end customer was on location and time was running short, it might have been impossible for the client to be reached during normal business hours.”

Social media for the win!

In early 2009 Rose Brand created a Facebook page and Fan page. The company, and members of its staff, are connected to TheatreFace, ProLightingSpace, LinkedIn, and other social media forums. Like many other companies Rose Brand is finding that there is no exact science to the way social media is used, but the real-time learning and conversations that it provides proves invaluable in the day-to-day, business-to-business world.

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The Great Grove Bed Race 2009

September 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm (Florida, free, Miami, News, social event, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Bed-Race

Coconut Grove was the location of this afternoon’s “Great Grove Bed Race.” This competition pits teams of 5 (one rider and four pushers) against each other to race down a 1/8th mile track; their vehicle is of course a twin-size bed.

Race events kicked off the evening before with a Pajama Pub Crawl through the Grove’s many watering holes with 100% of proceeds going to the Alonzo Mourning Charities. Race day began with the Ford Motor Company Family Pajama Party at The Bookstore and included the reading of “The Princess and the Pea” by the Alonzo Mourning Charities Honey Shine Girls, along with live music and book giveaways. At 1 PM the races began with the Pit Row Parade. At 2 PM time trials began down Grand Avenue, and by 4 PM the Sandbar Sports Grill team had clenched the win.

The event was fun. There were many creative ideas for beds – everything from a hospital gurney, to a cabana, and even a President Obama. I hope to be able to participate next year, nothing’s really filled the void left after Flugtag never returned to South Florida.

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STOP, Or I’ll Tweet You to the Police!

August 31, 2009 at 11:49 pm (Florida, News, social media, South Florida, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

tweet-policeWe’ve heard of people posting updates to social media sites that have cost them their jobs and relationships, but how about their freedom? The City of Boca Raton, Florida has started using Twitter as a crime fighting and public information tool. Who knew that the little blue bird from twitter would replace McGruff the Crime Dog?

It’s refreshing to see that local police are adapting to the new frontiers of social media. Sure cybercrime units are nothing new, hey there are even some movies featuring cybercrime now, but to use social media as a communications link between the top brass of crime prevention and the community is fairly new. Boca Police Chief Dan Alexander gets it. His blog, The Chiefs Corner, outlines why he chose to create a blog:

“Through this blog, I think we have an opportunity to provide another, perhaps more personal angle to the issues we face and the work that we do. We have turned on blog comments, but we will screen any messages in order to avoid the obscene, offensive and otherwise inappropriate. I hope you enjoy this blog and look forward to hearing from you.”

He later discusses that the department’s use of social media is to be “not interested in technology for technology’s sake.” We have eliminated those [social networking sites] that don’t reach our target audiences and will try to avoid merely being fashionable when it comes to new programs in the future.”

So you may be asking “what real world application does all this web based Tom Foolery have for a serious police department?” Well, he can tweet things like: “If you work in a bank, please call when this guy walks in. Please make patrons remove hats and glasses.” with a link to a surveillance picture of the bank robber. Or a link to information about a recent hit and run involving an officer. This way the public can assist in the community policing effort and information can get released in real-time instead of hearing about it on the news after the fact.

I say well done to Chief Alexander! You can follow him @bocachief and the police department @BocaPolice.

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Home Brewed Dialect

August 26, 2009 at 11:55 pm (Art, Art Event, Design, Design Events, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, Gallery Opening, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dialect

Dialect – a monthly art and music event at Brew Urban Café in the Himmarshee area of Downtown Ft. Lauderdale – was alive tonight with music, beverages …and spray paint. Live music was provided by the DJs of Twilight Notes, drinks were being crafted and poured at the café, and down the street artists were decorating the walls of the soon-to-be-open 18 Rabbit Gallery. If you have never had the opportunity to watch a group of artists transform a drab wall of CMU and boring paint into a masterpiece of color and inspiration, then you should jump at the next opportunity. A good reference is the international graffiti documentary Bomb It by Jon Reiss, but there is no substitute for watching these artists at work – truly amazing! The event, also sponsored by Enticement Design, continued through the night with an after party at The Brick. I can’t wait to see more of these events – Please, liven the Ft. Lauderdale scene with some more of the Miami Graf!

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Unmasking the Avatars – Tweetup @ Brio Tuscan Grille

August 19, 2009 at 11:47 am (Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

brio-tweetup

Last night I attended my first tweetup. It was sponsored by the Sun-Sentinel and hosted at Brio Tuscan Grille at the Shops at Pembroke Gardens. Brio had some really good food and drink specials for the group. The food was good, the conversations were engaging, and there were a lot of prizes raffled off. I spent some time talking with @pokengirl about the benefits of using pokens – little characters that “high-four” to transfer contact information instead of everyone having to write each other’s name and information down, the data is then transferred to a privately accessible rolodex-esque database. I had some good conversations with @Murrayiz, @ctiedje, @pbabanes, and @rsm4lsu about everything from work related topics to the use and direction of where social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc) are headed.

It was nice to meet the people behind the twitter avatars last night. I hope to see everyone again, and maybe some new faces, at the PizzaTweetup at Pizza Volante on August 25.

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AARP Joins the Fight with Canes a Swing’n

August 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm (advertising, commercials, economy, marketing, News, print media, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Amidst the debate of national healthcare reform, one television commercial really stands out. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, this commercial has the perfect metaphor for AARP’s message; an ambulance running lights and sirens, getting cut-off at every turn – brilliant. I didn’t even listen to the words the first few times I saw the commercial, I watched the imagery and instantly got it. Maybe I connect with the spot because of my brief stint as a state certified Emergency Medical Technician and 8 years as a part-time health and safety educator, or maybe the symbolism is just that strong. Either way I though it was well done.

In the past few days this commercial has stirred more controversy than most advertisements ever will, here’s some comments:

From AARP.org on August 17th & 18th:
“My first impression was laughter.  I thought all of those cars were rich ambulance-chasing trial lawyers fighting to get a new client.”

“The AARP commercial looks pretty good – it takes on the myths and facts.  Take a look.

I love the comments about the use of American cars in the commercial (some people reallllllly have too much time on their hands to look for conspiracy theories.  They’re probably disappointed that black helicopters aren’t featured as well.)”

“WE WERE MASSIVELY OFFENDED by the commercial we saw tonight showing an ambulance being cut off by expensive cars at every turn. SHAME ON AARP for thinking that we are so gullible as to be influenced by such obvious tripe.”

I didn’t know the Dodge Caliber, the car most visible throughout the commercial, was considered an “expensive car”, but okay.

From YouTube on August 17th:

“This video is awsome it really shows how good the government has got at sponsoring propaganda!! 2 thumbs up!!”

“I hope AARP paid enough to make this commercial because I definitely think less of them after having seen it.”

Pretty strong opinions for a commercial sponsored by a non-governmental organization (and interest group). Whatever your feelings about the healthcare reform bill are, you have to admit that this is a strong commercial with unmistakable symbolism – people getting in the way of healthcare.

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Buzz Marketing, What Made Twilight Sparkle

August 17, 2009 at 10:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

twilightcoverIn this world of fast paced real-time information how are books not only relevant, but still becoming cult phenomenons well before the movie is even in preproduction. We saw this meteoric rise with the Harry Potter series and now with the Twilight Saga.

Everything I saw about Twilight just reeked of teen and tween drivel about adolescent angst and insecurities mixed in with a love story and some vampires. Fast-forward to a few nights ago when I was having dinner with some friends, and the conversation shifted to who was on which book. Four out of the six adults, all in their 20s and 30s, were past the first book, excited about the next book, and talking about the saga with affinity.

How is it that book written for the teen and tween market jumped demographics into the realm of professional adults? Buzz Marketing. According to Advertising Age: One strategy that Summit Entertainment produced was to promote the books to moms. “We started trying to expand the mom base by offering it up as a portal to talk to their daughters,” said Nancy Kirkpatrick, president of Summit’s worldwide marketing. They even launched a blog called TwilightMoms. Many of these parents read the books, then got hooked themselves. They inevitably told other adults, who told other adults, etc expanding the demographic further. To help enlarge the fan base and talking points about the movie a nationwide mall tour was launched, and when the DVD was released it was done on a Friday instead of a Tuesday to avoid the school week, resulting in 3 million units sold on the first day.

To continue this buzz marketing strategy some DVD versions of the movie come with a free digital download from iTunes. In buzz marketing, seeding campaigns, where free or reduced price products are given away, can help boost cross pollination into other demographics. This is genius in the case of digital downloads for movies. Why? Consider this situation: Someone is going on a flight and taking their laptop with them. Instead of lugging DVDs around, they choose to use iTunes movies. Another flier is in close enough proximity to see parts of the movie that they otherwise never would have come into contact with, thus sparking their interest in watching the movie. After watching the movie he or she chooses to read the books and/or go see subsequent films, resulting in higher revenue.

While we’re talking about movies, here’s another fun tidbit: On August 28, 2008 Stephenie Meyer posted to her blog that “my partial draft of Midnight Sun was illegally posted on the Internet and has since been virally distributed without my knowledge or permission or the knowledge or permission of my publisher.” On November 21, 2008 the Twilight movie was released to theater going audiences. Talk about a happy accident! What better (free) promotion for a movie than scandal, not bad scandal – viral scandal. The kind of scandal that spreads faster than fingers can type on QWERTY keyboards, and news channels can broadcast the scoop.

In the wake of the Twilight Saga’s success there have been a multitude of branding opportunities including a make-up line, video games, conventions, comic books, and even an SAT prep book that uses vocabulary from Twilight. Will my eyes ever gaze upon the serifs of Twilight’s pages? Probably not, but I do know that it has entered an empirical piece of pop culture that few books ever have.

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Monster Jam Summer Heat “…Be There!”

August 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm (Florida, networking, photography, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Monster-Jam

What weighs 5-tons, has four 5’6” tires, an ethanol fueled 1500 horsepower engine, and has wrestling aggression and showmanship? MONSTER JAM! Monster Jam Summer Heat rolled into the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, and Shoot Miami was there for the ride.

The day started off with the camera club meeting in front of the arena. I guess the ticket takers were a little intimidated by the size of the lenses carried by some of our members, because at first they were reluctant to let us in. After a little finagling by the group’s organizer we were allowed access – sans tripods.

The pit party was fun. This is where spectators are admitted onto the show floor prior to the event to see these behemoth machines up close and personal. Fans get the chance to meet their favorite drivers and take pictures with them in front of the trucks. Driver George Balhan even set up a black leather couch in front of his truck, An Escalade, for fans to meet him. For our crew it allotted the chance to document every conceivable angle of an MTRA monster truck – I’ll admit to climbing under El Toro Loco for some shooting.

Post party, the arena floor was cleared and set up for the show allowing some down time for lunch and people watching. At 2 p.m. the main event started with national anthem and a salute to our armed forces. The first competition was the sky wheelie contest, which was won by Gunslinger (middle left photo at the top of this article); then An Escalade defeated Madusa in the race category. In the donut competition George Balhan put on a good show, holding his steering wheel outside of the spinning truck during competition, but Grave Digger pulled away with the win. Grave Digger piloted by Randy Brown proved triumphant again in the Freestyle round.

Between monster truck competitions there was a highflying motocross show with riders performing mid-air stunts like the Superman, Cordova, and Christ (center photo). To help anticipate the arrival of the stunt bikes, the arena was introduced to two robotic vehicles, Gallactron and Reptar, “from outer space.” The skit was corny, but there were pyrotechnics involved and the kids seemed to like it – and the show really is for the kids, right?

It was a fun day. There were a lot of photos taken, and we got a great show. The only thing missing was a truck flipping over or loosing pieces, and the old radio and TV ads saying “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! ….Be There!”

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Twitter Ho – Sponsored Tweets vs. Self-Branding in Social Media

August 13, 2009 at 11:26 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

twitter_pimp_illustrationA recent tweet from @pbarbanes put forth the question “Have you heard of “sponsored tweets”? If so, any thoughts or feelings?” This simple question opened into a discussion among the South Florida tweeting community about how sponsorship affects social media.

Social media generates societal systems as overlapping and diverse as any other form of community. Social interaction is built on a few things, I believe trust and interesting dialogue rank among two of the highest. We follow, friend, connect, and link to who can provide us attention-grabbing worthwhile content from sources that we can trust, much like we engage in face-to-face conversation with people that interest and entertain us.

What happens when a relationship is based on a monetary transaction? To paraphrase a line from American Pimp, “pimp’n & ho’n is the world’s oldest profession.” So why not have prostitution in social networking, it’s part of every culture? Instead of waxing poetic about how sponsored tweets are like prostitutes, just read The Branding Professor’s posts about it…I pretty much feel the same way. In response to the subject of selling your avatar and username to the highest bidder @ctiedje had this to say, “Money corrupts. Influences opinions. As soon as paid ads take over a social media space – it begins to die. (i.e. MySpace)” I’ll even admit to trying to put ads on Facebook to sell my t-shirt designs. Turns out I would have had better ROI by putting $100 worth of singles into a cash cube and grabbing for them as they blew by.

The sponsored tweets discussion presents an interesting dichotomy between social media used exclusively for capital gain and social media as a corporate branding tool. Many of the people I follow and connect with, myself included, use social media for self-branding. However, intermixed with our self-branding message we try to add to the user experience with interesting links that may, or may not, directly relate to our brand. People follow us because they find us interesting, and enjoy our conversation, company, and content. Just as in real life, if followers don’t enjoy your online persona they will stop following you. For me nothing expedites this process faster than someone who only pimps their product, or someone else’s, while not adding credible information to the conversation – e.g. I recently unfollowed someone who would tweet twice a day “read our blog and follow us on twitter.” Now why would you put “follow us on twitter” on twitter? I already am following you on twitter, or at least was interested enough to look at your page – until I saw that you are adding nothing to the communal melting pot of quality information except for bot-like commands that order me to look at a blog you have supplied me no information about.

We’ll have to see how people react as sponsored tweets and advertising status updates gain a stronger foothold on our beloved social media sites. Will people stop following users due to them abusing our valuable time with more advertisements, or will they let them fade into the shuffle like billboards on the highway?

Just remember, my dear subsidized tweeters:

you don’t have to put on the red light
those days are over
you don’t have to sell you tweets to the night

you don’t have to sponsor that brand tonight
text the tweets for money
you don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

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