Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting to the Bottom of the Big Mac

Slashfood, by way of Food for Thought (Food Network's Canadian counterpart) has reported that McDonald's has just hired "Mom bloggers" to visit the company's facilities, restaurants and kitchens and then blog about their experiences. I can't imagine that they will actually write anything negative (I'm expecting a lot of "I can't wait to go eat some McNuggets now!") but I could be completely wrong.

You can visit the McDonald's Moms' Quality Correspondents here. The site will obviously have more content once they start posting their online journals and videos, but for now you can read their bios and find out more about the program as well. I find it fascinating that the blogosphere has emerged as a legitimate vehicle for PR as well as marketing- even for the top brands in the world.

In an attempt to combine viral marketing with social networking and corporate transparency, McDonald's may find that people would rather not know what is in their Filet O'Fish. Or maybe this is trying to be the great Morgan Spurlock rebuttal?

Hey Mom, where do McNuggets come from?

From the Useless Items Vault

You can try to deny it, but there's really no point- you know you love popping bubble wrap. It's a guilty pleasure that many of us partake in after we've received a package in the mail or when we're wrapping valuables for moving. In fact, someone sent us a Sees Candies box today and I always love the chocolate-brown bubble wrap layer protecting the Nuts & Chews from getting crushed.

Inevitably, bubble wrap has been transformed into digital and portable versions. Perpetual Bubble Wrap is one of the biggest time wasters I have ever encountered online, and my only real gripe is that the bubbles look more like candy than anything else. It's time for Perpetual Bubble Wrap 2.0 if you ask me.

And, leave it up to the Japanese to create a bubble wrap keychain that is not only functional (and I mean that only because it holds your keys) but also cute. It comes in a variety of colors, including pink and baby blue, and it fulfills your "popping needs virtually anywhere". If you visit the manufacturer's site, you will notice the illustration of a guy that is in tears because of how much fun he's having with his bubble wrap keychain. Riiiiiight.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day in the Life

My recent blogging has inspired me to do a "Day In the Life of a Media Planner" entry. The ability to send my pictures directly from my phone to Flickr (via Shozu, as I have mentioned before) makes it extremely easy to provide pics for you visual learners. So sit back, relax and soak in the wonderousness that is known as media planning.

8:22 am: I arrive at work, soy chai latte in hand (they can never spell my name right- don't they know it's with an "a"?!). Since I didn't leave work until nearly 11 pm last night, it almost feels as though I never left. Of course, the mac nut pie (see previous entry) is still here.

8:26 am: I glance over at my phone and realize that I don't have any voicemails yet. My friends (a.k.a. media reps) on the East Coast must not be on top of their game this am!

8:27 am:
My inbox has reached its limit. Again. So, I archive for the second time in the past 2 work days.

8:38 am:
Flickr refers to my phone as "cameraphone". Interesting.

8:46 am: T minus 14 minutes before my first presentation of the morning. If I continue to be as slow as the FTP site that we use, then I am in for a long day...for some good laughs, I revisit a really good email regarding mobile terminology. Who knew that mobile devices and hunting could ever have something in common?

8:50 am: AdAge reports that 96% of teens connect to social networking sites at least once a week. I then recall a Slate article I read stating that Facebook is the "Volvo" of social networking. Sturdy interface, and very reliable.

9:31 am: 9 am preso complete. Computer freezing as I try to open an Excel document that I need to update for a 10 am meeting.

9:40 am: Sent follow-up email to client with action items from 9 am preso.

9:43 am: "Premature end of JPG file" error message from Trillian. Why does that keep popping up?

10:05 am: Headset activated, waiting for conference call to start. Multi-tasking, of course, since there is a deck that I need to finish. I wish I had shiny bullets in my template like the one someone had presented yesterday!

10:11 am: Why did my ninja clock stop swinging?

10:53 am: Just set up a team gift exchange for next week. Who doesn't want a little Christmas in July?

11:49 am: Since we will be stuck in meetings for the rest of the afternoon, we are ordering lunch in. Thai food, yes! I enjoy yellow curry with chicken just about any day of the week. "You know how we spring-roll!" People think it's weird that everything at my desk has a mustache.

11:57 am: Hard copies of my deck in hand, I'm ready for my second preso of the day. Need to grab some water first.

1:40 pm: 5 meetings under my belt for the day already. 2 pm call starts soon...just enough time to check out the latest craze, The Mentos Intern. Still finishing the last of my Cherry Coke Zero from lunch.

2:52 pm: A 2 pm meeting once again reinforces that my favorite word is "montage". A little loopy from lots of whiteboarding.

3:01 pm: Time for a dose of Emergen-C. Invite for a party at Bourbon & Branch, which is always a plus in my book. Random emails here and there, voicemail light blinking. I've been so busy today that I haven't had time to install the new Twitter Firefox Extension.

3:07 pm: I'm trying to finalize some placements for one of my media plans, but printing anything in this office is kind of a challenge. Since I'm an Online Media Planner, maybe I'm not supposed to be printing things anyway...

3:55 pm: Finally sitting down to do work for the day. Spreadsheets and budgets, oh my! Like I say, these media plans won't plan themselves!

4:35 pm: I find it funny that part of my job is telling people that no, they cannot have more of my advertising budget!

4:42 pm: Hitting that late afternoon slump, after a day full of meetings and Excel. And oddly enough, people are still coming by for a piece of that mac nut pie. I just found a great article on ClickZ about marketing insights from a summer intern.

5:09 pm: Estimated Time of Departure today looks to be around 6:30 pm. Then maybe I will do some more emailing from home. Eating a Peanut Butter Cookie Luna Bar. I sure do need to go to the gym!

5:48 pm: Finishing up another PowerPoint, and going to look into booking travel for a business trip next month.

6:12 pm: Wrapping up a day's work. I will probably check email when I get home...pretty standard these days.

And there you have it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Media Planner's Diet, 6/25

Macadamia Nut Pie & beer to a glass full of Cranberry Emergen-C...and everything in between.

Pie in the Sky

Every once in a while I stumble across something that makes me jealous. No, it has nothing to do with envying someone's fancy sunglasses or handbag, but rather some genius marketing or advertising idea. "Why didn't I think of that?!" is a question that's no stranger to me...

In honor of the Summer Solstice, Expedia UK held a "Blue Sky Day," where 200 artists painted on blue sky canvases at Trafalgar Square and Edinburgh Castle. Three paintings were eventually selected to be hung in the National Gallery. Expedia hoped that this day would communicate their message: "Let Yourself Go".

Not only do I think this is a great guerilla marketing tactic, but it's also something that would have been so fun to participate in. There wasn't anything too pushy or marketing-y here; it was a simple branding play that brought out the creativity in others. By honoring art, the longest day of the year and brilliant advertising, they ended up on my blog. Hooray!

Source: Adverblog

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

On a Sunday Afternoon

Even on Father's Day, on a Segway (don't ask), smack in the middle of a hiking trail, I am always armed and ready to snap a photo on my phone.

I've actually grown really fond of cell phone photos lately. I think there's something organic and cool about the blurry quality and slightly off-kilter color saturation. Of course I sent the pics directly to Flickr (via Shozu), since I'm never that far removed from my digital self.

The picture you see above is an art piece that was installed around Mountain View's Shoreline Park. Simple yet impactful, in an unexpected location.

I'll spare you the photos of my family riding Segways together...because, well, that may be too nerdy...even for this blog.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bling Bling

Seeing how I am a huge fan of both Google as well as jewelry, it was only natural for me to become enamored with Mike and Maaike's Stolen Jewels collection. The designers searched on Google Images for famous jewelry (including the Hope Diamond Brooch), then doctored them and made transfers onto leather. The result? Low-res jewelry that is both nerdy and (arguably) chic.

This process is reminiscent of the early work of Cubist artists. Picasso took African figures and deconstructed them in a way that no one had dared to try before. In one of his most famous pieces, Les Desmoiselles D'Avignon, he exaggerated the female form and many of their faces have elements of African masks. By representing these people (and in Mike and Maaike's case, jewelry) in this figurative manner, it inspired subsequent artists to interpret their surroundings based on emotion and impulse.

I find these blurred lines between art and technology to be inspiring; apparently I should be checking my Tiffany jewelry at the door and trading it in for some pixelated gems.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Beanie Baby 2.0

I hadn't talked to my mom in a while, so I decided to give her a ring. My little brother (10 years old) picked up the phone and the conversation went as follows:

Tyler: Hello?
Me: Hi! What are you doing?
Tyler: Oh nothing, playing on the computer...
*Mom picks up and interrupts*
Me: Hi Mom!
Mom: Hi! Are you at work?
Me:, why isn't Tyler playing Wii right now?
Mom: Oh, because he just bought a Webkin.
Me: A what?!
Mom: Yeah, a Webkin. You haven't heard of Webkinz?
Me: No, but I'm going to look them up right now.

Little did I know, I was getting schooled by my 10 year old brother again. Anything that took precedence over the Wii was important in my book. My brother teaches me all kinds of useful media information, including: 1) is all the rage; 2) Tamagotchi is cool again; and 3) even elementary school kids "love being online". It's really no surprise, actually, since sites like Disney and NickJr. are constantly improving their offerings to appeal to this audience. What is surprising, however, is how sophisticated they really are.

Webkinz, I found, are stuffed animals that come with unique codes. The codes are entered on the main site, which also marks the "adoption" of the virtual version. This animated pet avatar comes with its own room on the site, a food item, furniture, and currency known as "Kinzcash". Most gaming and activities allow users to earn more Kinzcash for their pets. Needless to say, stores can't keep them in stock. At a fairly low price point (averaging around $10), parents view them as affordable, and kids don't need to do weeks of chores to save up their money either.

This successful bridge between offline and online worlds opens many doors for manufacturers as well as advertisers. An example of this would be themed Webkinz (Disney characters, etc.) that also live in special branded environments on What concerns parents is the amount of time and attention that kids are investing to take care of their pets. They also feel that it keeps their kids glued to the computer when they should be outdoors.

Ultimately, Webkinz are a combination of Beanie Babies, Tamagotchis, MySpace and Neopets. I'm not sure what my brother will teach me about next, but I'm pretty sure I need to schedule regular conference calls with him...just to find out what the latest craze is.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ryder's Fireside Corner #2

"The HOTTEST search blog on the net"

Google TV:
Google is now buying up TV ad blocks on The Dish Network and selling the slots through their their bid model. CPM's average around $12 but the testing and data collection are the key selling points (Track the length of time users watch the ad and at what point the change channels).
All major networks and dayparts are available and the Google UI allows advertisers to target geo, demo (age/gender), and network and daypart.
Could it be that the data jockies running search campaigns can now turn their high powered analytical powers on the largest media in the world! We will make those archaic, antequated traditional ad agency dinosaurs obsolete before long! Ok, so it's still in beta and the volume is not very large yet but old Ryder is all over this puppy. I can't wait to unleash some Excel fury on these reports and optimize the campaign with German precision.

eBay Dumps Google Paid Search Ads:
Today eBay announced they will discontinue running paid ads in Google AdWords. Their press reasoning was that they were moving the budgets into more efficient avenues but it was also convenient timing. For you see, Google has been trying to get eBay to use Google Checkout as opposed to eBay owned PayPal, which charges users a transaction fee. Well, Google had a big rally planned to take place during eBay's national conference in Boston called "Let Freedom Ring", let's just say eBay did not find this amusing.
Google has cancelled the rally and apologized profusely as eBay was pumping about $100M into AdWords annual as well as funding Larry Page's replica Millenium Falcon reconstruction. eBay has agreed to re-activate their campaigns if Larry agrees to personally hand deliver the iPod Shuffle not sent to their search manager last Christmas. The terms would also require Mr. Page to wear a Sunday dress and bonnet on such delivery. Google has announced no plans of following up on the offer.

Search Management Powermove of the Month:
Separate match type campaigns. Copy a high traffic campaign and set all terms to exact match. Revert the original campaign to only broad match. Test away! Are users getting all the traffic on broad match? If so then you need a larger keyword list to lower CPC and optimize more precisely. Expect better performance from exact match and start with a higher bid in this campaign.

Excel Powermove of the Month:
Press F2 on a cell to edit it without leaving the keyboard.

Txt Savvy

Even if you don't know what "short code" means when you hear it, chances are you'll recognize one when you see it. From billboards and soda bottles, TV commercials to American Idol, marketers are beginning to incorporate them into campaigns to trigger immediate reactions from consumers. They provide a convenient way to vote on different topics, get information on nearby businesses (I can't function without Google SMS), download ringtones/games and look up real-time sports scores.

Short codes are essentially shortened telephone numbers, which are obviously easier to remember. Both five and six digit codes are acceptable, and all of them are managed by the Common Short Code Administration.

Until now, there has been very little extension of short code usage into the apparel industry. Reactee, a company based out of San Francisco, aims to "bridge the gap between the physical world, mobile communications and the Internet." The product works in the following way:

1) You select a personalized slogan and keyword
2) Reactee prints your shirt
3) When people text your custom keyword to the short code 41411, they are texted back with the message that you previously set online

The options are endless- consumers can choose to spread environmental messages, provide updates on their favorite music and restaurants, or ask life's more difficult questions (an example I saw said "Can $1 change the world?"). It is far more dynamic than a classifieds ad and more interactive than a blog entry.

Ultimately, this is a fun platform for everyday people to engage those around them. While the internet provides similar engagement and encourages exploration (via Twitter, Facebook News Feeds, MySpace posts) the Reactee team alluded to this product's ability to bridge those existing gaps in the so-called "real" world.

My customized message will most likely combine my favorite things: cupcakes, media, churros and snow globes.