. The Transom .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Twitter me this, Madam President....

Most people I talk to felt that Hillary Clinton's YouTube video announcing her campaign song was very well done, clever and successful. I can't argue that it was well done, I mean, that's what a professional production service will do for you. But I have to question why it was done, what it will accomplish, and what it means for future campaigns.

My first thought after seeing her series of videos was, "are we looking for a president or an Academy Award winner?" Does it not seem strange that presidential candidates are now trying to sway voters with catchy marketing videos and less about what they stand for and what they plan to do about the country?

Then there is the theme of the video. It was a nod to the series finale of The Sopranos. Granted, the finale of that show was widely watched, but it's a show about a dysfunctional family that cheats the government and kills people. In addition, only people who can afford HBO watch the Sopranos, so she's not exactly targeting the middle or lower class. Interesting choice all around.

Finally, what did it accomplish and what does it mean for future campaigns? It told me she has a clever marketing person on staff, that neither she nor Bill are good at acting, and that she was trying to raise her 'cool' factor among younger voters. I hope that this isn't a trend for the future where candidates feel like the only way to get our attention is by crowding into our social media spaces and putting on a show. That's why I watch Saturday Night Live, not why I vote for a president.

In the future, look for presidential candidates to have music videos on YouTube, souped up MySpace pages, asking you to be their friend on Facebook, and Twittering while on the campaign trail.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hooter's the next Chucky Cheese's?

In yet another example of how not to try and change a brand image, Hooters has released new advertising trying to show the restaurant chain as family friendly, all about the food, and the fun. The ad spots go so far as to show the Hooters waitresses and label them as 'girls next door.' I don't know about you, but if that's the case I must live in the wrong neighborhood. The spots spend 94% of the -30 and -60 seconds highlighting food options, showing parents with their kids and logo shots. Only 6% of the time is spent on 'the girls next door.'

Hooters has created such a solid brand by focusing on what it does best and why people visit the restaurants, it confuses me why they would want to change. It is even crazier to believe they can change our perceptions by running these far-flung ads. Doesn't exactly carry the level of credibility needed to change my mind, or anyone else's.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wall-worthy marketing

There is a trend I've noticed among restaurants and small businesses that highlight a simple truth about the value of advertising vs. public relations. On the walls of many restaurants and small businesses are framed copies of large newspaper or magazine stories about the business. Usually it is a story about the opening, in the case of restaurants, but often in businesses it is a series of reprints from prominent media or trade magazines.

This leaves one wondering, "why don't they prominently display their advertising in a similar manner?" Of course the answer is very simple - credibility. The restaurants and businesses know that third party endorsements by way of the media are much more credible than self-promoting advertising.

Which again leaves one wondering, "why do so many businesses spend so much money on a marketing function that isn't wall-worthy?"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What's our problem?

Many would argue, and I have been one of them, that the biggest problem facing the PR industry is the pathetic display of writing ability among our ranks. Clearly, it is a problem that needs fixing and given the text and IM world we live in, I'm not sure it will get better anytime soon. I think the problem with the industry, in terms of overall industry growth and acceptance, doesn't involve writing. It involves measurement, research, and client education.

In the last two weeks I sat before current clients and discussed new ideas for a program. They loved it and asked who could implement it. Um.... we can. They had no idea about the breadth of our capabilities because for so long we'd been pigeon-holed into one area. And we had failed to continually show them what we can do across the board. Sometimes biannual 'update' meetings are a good idea just to keep top of mind and present new capabilities and ideas to current clients. Organic growth is always better and easier than non-organic.

Measurement and research are two areas that advertising wisely jumped on long ago. The PR industry is still lacking in how to effectively prove that we can move the needle. Yes, there are good ways to measure some functions, but for many agencies, it's a leap of faith and client satisfaction with media results, or attendance at an event. Not exactly groundbreaking information.

In addition, I think we've priced ourselves the wrong way. We're not selling widgets, we're selling ideas and the execution of those ideas. Why then, do we charge by the hour? Because we don't have good measurement to show value. Value in reputation, value in brand building, value in the intangibles. Until we address those issues, it's going to be an uphill climb for the industry to realize phenomenal growth.