When I saw this at Salt Lake’s Capitol Theater, I couldn’t resist taking a photo. Thanks to context, I know what the sign is supposed to say. Good thing, because what the sign actually says is either that bottled water is allowed nowhere except in the theater, or that nothing and no one except bottled water is to enter the theater.
Girl Scout cookies as business
ethics training opportunity
The Washington Post’s Kelly Richmond Pope wrote an instructive piece entitled “Samoas, Thin Mints and business ethics.” I recommend clicking here to read it now. It reminds me of an impromptu lesson I gave a Boy Scout whose misfortune it was to arrive at my door and attempt a lame fundraising pitch. You can read about that encounter by clicking here.
What every marketer should know
about Facebook likes
This corroborates my own experience. FB seems to work best as an advertising medium when you don’t use it as an advertising medium; that is, when you skip the paid part and simply let real friends click and share if and as they please.
Update: It’s a hoax. And I fell for it.
Click here to read about it. You’ve no idea how tempted I was simply to remove, rather than retract, this post. But integrity demands facing my folly like a grownup. To read about the lesson I relearned from this experience, click here.
“Dumb Starbucks” hasn’t
a legal leg to stand on
Much has been made of the coffee shop calling itself “Dumb Starbucks Coffee.” Though [the real] Starbucks has not taken legal action as of this writing, they have made it clear that Dumb cannot use their name and look.
Dumb’s reply? That their store is protected as a form of free speech known as parody.
My reply?* Nonsense.
This is no SNL sketch or Mad cartoon; it is a functioning store, pretty much a clone of the real thing. This is not parody; it is deception. Sure, I think it’s funny, but funny is not a legal defense.
A typical standard for deception is whether a product has a tendency to deceive. As the media have widely reported, numbers of people are unclear as to whether Dumb is a legit Starbucks brand. Dumb even digs its own grave with a nod to the confusion in their FAQs.
Dumb will have to shut down or rebrand and possibly run corrective advertising, none of which will be cheap. Some speculate that the hubbub is part of a long-term publicity strategy. I lean toward thinking that from the start the folks at Dumb were simply being true to their name.
*Not that anyone asked.
Who would have thought this Cola-Cola commercial would have turned out to be an act of courage?
That this wonderful commerical, which ran during the 2014 Super Bowl, would spark a protest is disheartening. As for me? It brings a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat each time I watch it. Admitted clichés, but entirely accurate. To read about the small minds in an uproar, click here.
Ethical selling vs. not-so-ethical selling
Marketing is the process of matching needs or wants with products or services.
Ethical selling aligns people with what they’re looking for and builds a strong economy in the process.
Not all selling is ethical. Browbeating, misrepresenting, out-and-out lying, and various forms of manipulation are all too common. Consider: sellers of big ticket items who con the inexperienced into spending more than needful or wise; salespeople who guilt, shame, or harass the timid; flimflammers like Kevin Trudeau; and even your garden variety TV evangelist.
It gets murky when the public demands what’s legal but harmful, such as tobacco products, or what’s legal but doesn’t perform as claimed, such as most MLMs, so-called alternative “medicines” or “therapies,” psychic hotlines, software purporting to predict stock prices ... the list goes on.
Another murky area is organic and natural foods. Though the products are not typically harmful, their marketing tends to depend on the naturalistic fallacy. Indeed, natural products marketers who do not capitalize on it are pretty much doomed to fail.
A marketer with a conscience will end up declining a lot of opportunities to make money.
—Thanks to master of financial consulting wizardry Greg Sagers for prompting this post
Gobbledegook or strategy?
If anyone knows how to craft direct response copy, the friendly people at Hammacher Schlemmer do. So it’s a curious thing when they spew indecipherable copy, as they did on the web page pictured at right. To wit:
... the pod’s ellipsoid exterior blocks 90% of outside noise while its interior foci ameliorate ...
Now, given that the friendly people at Hammacher Schlemmer know their stuff, a small part of me wonders if they are testing to see if sciencey-sounding nonsense works. But the rest of me has another suspicion. At $30,000 per, it’s doubtful that Hammacher Schlemmer anticipates selling vast quantities of Tranquility Pods. Thus I cannot help wondering if the product is in the catalog only as an anchor. As in, to make their other overpriced stuff look affordable. If that’s the case, the copy would matter little, and the gobbledegook may actually be nothing more than a copywriter winking at us.
Thanks to Tom Flynn for suggesting this post
Gobbledegook isn’t marketing
In her delightful piece in the new edition of Today’s Target Marketing, Carolyn Goodwin reports being told this upon asking a fellow what his company did:
“We provide robust, enterprise-wide solutions to decision-makers at multi-location facilities across a broad set of vertical industries that are facing an overarching set of business challenges.”
Perhaps you can appreciate her tactful response:
I couldn't help myself—I broke out laughing before he finished the sentence.
I recommend reading the rest of Goodwin’s short piece. Besides, it’s the only way you’ll find out what happened when, after some back-and-forth, Goodwin finally said, “Pretend I'm a 5th Grader and your child has brought you to class on Career Day. Now, tell me what you do.” Read Goodwin’s short piece by clicking here now.