Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank You... I think?

Thank you President Obama for promising Americans all kinds of relevant change and delivering more of the same. You told us to vote out of hope, not fear... I'm afraid we're still waiting.

Thank you big corporations for showing huge profits in the third quarter of 2010 and keeping it all to yourself by not hiring any new employees. The jerk store just called and there is no shortage of you.

Thank you big banks for living up to the reputation given to you by Frank Capra more than 60 years ago in his classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." If George Bailey were still alive he would jump off a bridge.

Thank you terrorists for forcing an entire world to live in fear and anxiety while you claim to be acting in God's name. I am sure he will be proud of you when you finally meet.

But enough about the half of the glass that is empty.

Thank you mom and dad for teaching me the difference between right and wrong, for loving me in spite of my many shortcomings, for having faith in me and encouraging me to do good, for constantly reminding me that my responsibility in this life is to serve the greater good, and most of all for setting an amazing example by living lives that reflect your words. I love you both.

Thank you Denny and Patty and Brian and Kevin and Shawn and Kelly and Annie (my siblings) for always being there whenever I need you. You are a tribute to your parents and a constant inspiration to me.

Thank you Kathy and Matt and Crystal and Christian (my family) for loving me unconditionally and turning out to be such wonderful people. You are the reason behind my every good action.

Turns out Frank Capra was right.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We're Loud. We're Proud. We're Frito-Lay, eh.

I love Canada, and I love Canadians, but Howard Chimoff and Frito-Lay Canada are a couple of toque-wearing hosers.

As the story goes, not long after Frito-Lay introduced its annoyingly loud compostable SunChips bag, real Americans offered Frito-Lay an ultimatum: Make them quiet or give me back my old bag. It's kind of funny when you consider how loud we Americans tend to be in the first place. Anyway, after US sales dropped during the 18 months following the introduction of the new noisy bags, and after 50,000+ consumers signed up on the Sorry But I Can't Hear You Over This SunChip Bag Facebook page, Frito-Lay caved.

Our neighbors to the north, confronted with the same dilemma, did what they (and France) do so well, they waived the white (er, green) flag and embraced the noise.

According to Food Navigator-USA, "Frito-Lay has pledged its commitment to retain its 100 per cent compostable packaging for SunChips in Canada and now offers free ear plugs to anyone who finds the bags too noisy."

Canadian marketer Howard Chimoff has commended Frito-Lay Canada for being creative and staying the course. Apparently he is only too proud to wear the earplugs. After all, you don't have to listen to reason if you can't hear.

And somehow, someway, all of this makes me very giddy. I am proud to be a loud American who won't settle for the pablum some corporate behemoth tries to feed me. I am proud that consumers let their wallets do their talking for them and forced Frito-Lay's hand. And I am equally confident in the ability and resolve of Frito-Lay to figure out a new and quieter eco solution (and they'll probably jack up their prices in the process). By God, this is the United States of America – we're loud, we're proud and we always figure out a way to make things work out.

I love this country.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Be Surprisesd When You Get What You Pay For.

How is it that a guy of my age and experience continues to be surprised by how many – and how often – otherwise intelligent and well-meaning marketing executives act thunderstruck by the cost of doing business in the 21st century?

And to be perfectly honest, I really don't know if they are truly incredulous or are simply acting surprised as a preemptive move to negotiate costs.

Imagine being willing to pay $8,000 (that's at a 12x discount rate) every month to run a full-page, color ad, but balking at the idea of paying a one-time charge of $3,000 (including copy and layout concepts, photography and print-ready art) to produce it. Really?

Imagine willingly shelling out nearly $100,000 to exhibit at a key annual trade show, but hesitating to invest $5,000 to support this investment with target marketing strategies designed to increase booth traffic, engage visitors and secure additional media coverage. Really?

Imagine wanting to see your product featured on multiple national TV talk shows (e.g., Today) and in national consumer magazines (e.g., Dwell) during the prime 2011 spring cleaning season for a budget in the neighborhood of $2,500. Really?

Imagine asking your agency to dramatically increase traffic to your website and improve sales conversions in the process through a strategically managed PPC program, but hesitating when you learn that the cost of managing the campaign is almost $500/month. Really?

I mean I get professional marketers wanting to squeeze as much value out of their budgets as possible. In fact, we even encourage them to set tangible, measurable objectives so we can determine if the results of the strategies we propose and implement justify the financial investments they make. That's good business.

But what are executives thinking when they expect professional services to be cheap... or worse, free? I suspect the problem lies deep within the boardrooms and executive suites where poor decisions are made about how much money should be dedicated to marketing the organization and its products/services.

My son recently reminded me – while we were discussing the merits of various cable/Internet/telephone service providers – that you get what you pay for when you shop for the lowest price instead of the best service. If you don't mind slow Internet speed and spotty cable, then take advantage of the low bundled price. If you want fast Internet speed and dependable cable, then pay the asking price. If you don't want to pay for anything, just ignore your current bill and see how that works out for you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have been thinking a great deal lately about the state of marketing.

Maybe it's because we have come to the end of the first decade of the new millennium. Or maybe because Sweeney is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Or possibly it's because I can not remember a time in my 30+ years as a marketing professional when I was so confused about where the industry is heading.

And then I remembered something my wise hero Kurt Vonnegut once said: "We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."

Suddenly - in this context - the state of marketing seems less of an issue.