Coldfeet619's Blog


20 posts…and then some

Posted in Video by Donna on December 27, 2009
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Well, this is my last post for West Virginia University’s Emerging Media and the Market class this semester.   Prior to this class, I had never blogged before, and was a little nervous about the whole process. 

 We were tasked to post about topics featured in class, namely, how the new media frontier impacts has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other, and as a result, how brands can interact with us. 

 What a difference 9 weeks makes!   With a  list  of future posts still dancing within my head, I feel like a blogging addict.    I will likely take a few days off after this class concludes on December 28, but I will be back in 2010 with more updates.  Until then, please look me  up on cyberspace at the links below:

 Also, please check out my Blogroll at the right hanf side of my screen.   These are links to my fellow classmates blogs.   Great insights, definitely worth a look.  I am proud to be associated with a talented group of individuals from across the globe.

In keeping with our viral video discussion, here is a special video….ABBA’s Happy New Year video.  4 million views on YouTube and counting!    I wish you all a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year. 

Donna

 p.s.  Go Mountaineers !   Good luck at the Gator Bowl!

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Toyota Recall – Canadian bloggers need not post?

 I think by now we’ve all heard that Toyota has had a serious consumer safety problem with accelerator pedals.   The pedals would become stuck while driving, and caused the deaths of 12 people.  Toyota’s initial response was “just throw out the floor mats.”  

Needless to say this did not sit well with anyone….the media, consumers, and above all the blogging community.  After a public relations nightmare, the company agreed to recall 4 million vehicles in the United States.   If you go to the web site, you’ll see a link about the Floor Mat Campaign (still no mention of the word “recall” on the home page!).

On top of all of this, it seems that Toyota forgot to notify Canadian vehicle owners about the recall.  On November 19th a Canadian blogger commented that although a detailed letter was sent to 4 million US vehicle owners, nothing was been communicated to Canadians.   Although car sales have slumped across North America, Canada’s CBC news predicts that sales of Toyota products in Canada will approach 200,000 for 2009.  Still a pretty large number to risk injury or worse.

According to a statement by Toyota Canada,

“There is no risk of accelerator-pedal entrapment when compatible Toyota and Lexus Canadian-designed, all-weather floor mats are properly used in the affected models as they are different in design and material composition from the Toyota-supplied mats in the U.S.”

However, after even more bad online coverage by both the media and the blogging community,  Toyota did a complete 360 on its position of Canadian vehicles.   On November 27th, Toyota announced that the company will extend the recall to Canadaian consumers to fix accelerator pedals for 209,000 vehicles in the country. 

What went wrong?  Toyota’s failure to track online statements about the company caused a crisis situation to get worse.   Blogs are not limited by geography.  By missing the conversation, Toyota has seriously hurt its brand in the eyes of consumers across cyberspace.  

What went right? As blogs are open to the world, they create an open conversation about critical issues.   With pressure from a diverse mix of publics including consumer groups, the media, government, and bloggers, companies can be pressured to do the right thing.

Keeping it legal: Microsoft teaches kids about downloads

Posted in Communication by Donna on December 27, 2009
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August  2009 – A  Boston University graduate student is ordered to pay $675,000 to four music companies for illegally downloading and distributing about two dozen songs (US News & World Report)

July 2009 – a federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her a total of $1.9 million (CNN.com)

With these staggering courtroom verdicts, there has been a growning recognition that intellectual property laws should be taught to young people at an earlier age.

In 2008, Microsoft released a survey report that found that 49% of kids between 7th and 10th grade didn’t know the rules for downloading legally v. illegally from the internet. Of the other half that was familiar with the problem of illegal downloading, the vast majority (82%) reported that those who downloaded content illegally should be punished. That’s significantly higher than the 57% of teenagers unfamiliar with the law who felt punishment was in order for illegal downloads.

Microsoft MyBytes – Intellectual Property Awareness Web

To increase awareness, Microsoft created a website with the goal of teaching kids about the importance of intellectual property.   Known as MyBytes, the  brightly designed site features quotes about the importance of intellectual property with polls, video clips with interviews of teens along “real life” examples on how theft of intellectual property can impact a kid.

There’s a section where kids can make their “own” music sample they can mix, publish and share.  At lastest count, about 1,300 samples are available.   A large number, but not overwheling considering the site was launched nearly two years ago by one of the world’s largest companies.  

On MyBytes, testimonials are available from five “celebrities” explaining the importance of Intellectual Property:   

  1. Damon Lindelof  – Writer and Executive, ABC’s Lost
  2. Jeff Fraley Producer, Trinity Films
  3. Lil’ Mo -R&B Singer/Songwriter
  4. Herb Jackson -Abstract Painter
  5. Craig Nova – Novelist

I am not questioning the talent of any of these people.   However, as they are not household names, I am not sure how relatable they are to kids.  Also, photos of Painter Herb Jackson and Novelist Craig Nova look like they are at least 50 years old.   Not exactly the type of person you’d expect a teen to listen to.   Add a PSA message from celebrities like Beyonce or the Jonas Brothers?   You’d probably have something there Microsoft.

This site is well intended, but it does not seem to be getting the traffic or return on investment for Microsoft.    By my investigation, I do not see and social media sites being used in conjunction with the MyBytes site.   With nearly 88% of American teens on social media, Microsoft’s use of a web-only platform without  accompanying social media makes the IP awareness campaign fall flat.  Surprising again, when you consifer the risks involved that Microsoft hasn’t more aggressively pushed this website, perhas as a PR move with another organization in the recording or motion picture industry.

However, all is not lost.   Research is telling us that more teenagers (up to 65%) are streaming music regularly, with more 14 to 18 year olds (31%) listening to streamed music on their computer every day compared with music fans overall (18%).  

As technnology changes, kids may be the best authorities on prevention of  illegal downloads of copyrighted music, graphics, movies and software.  For their sake, let’s hope there aren’t any more million dollor courtroom verdicts.

RSS: Really Simple Strategy

Unless you’re like me and you’re posting like a fiend to get your assignment done for your master’s class on time, you may not have as much of an opportunity to post on your website or blog every day.  

On the flip side, are you overrun with blogs and news sites you frequent?   For example, I just perused the Advertising Age Power 150 Blogs, and thought my head would spin with so many resources.   

In either of these cases, why not consider an RSS feed? 

Say what?   If you’re not familiar with the acronym, you’re not alone.  

 More likely, you’re probably familiar with the little orange button you’ll see all over cyberspace.

The RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.   According to its entry in Wikipedia (more on that below), “RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.”

Pushing Data Out

The internet is hungry for fresh content. One of the simplest ways to get traffic via RSS is to use a blog.   Each time you update your blog, the RSS feed will give readers a sample of your content and a link to your blog for more information.

Blogs sites  (such as WordPress) are  fairly user friendly tools, and can be a quick way to publish RSS feeds. By categorizing your blog by date and topic, RSS directories can be used to promote your blog.

Streamlining Data In

What about the information overload from so many newsources and blogs? RSS feeds allow you to choose to get update notifications delivered directly to you through a news reader of your choice (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all offer these services). 

You then select the Web sites from which you want to receive information and the content will be delivered automatically to your RSS reader.

Either if you are a reader or a marketer, RSS offers an efficient means to build an effective means of two-way communication.   Companies are using RSS for a variety of reasons, ranging from public relations to one-click product deals 

 For a brief tutorial on creating an RSS in plain English, here’s a great YouTube video:

 

 

A word about Wikipedia:

Wikipedia is the free online encyclopedia that is open to the public for editing.   The site was launched in 2001 and has grown to include millions of articles in a variety of languanges. There are significant concerns about the  quality information that has an open architecture for editing.   However, Wikipedia has become one of the most popular resources, and is reported as being the eighth most-visited Web site in the United States.

 With real time editing, Wikipedia does not have a formal review process.  As a result, every article can be called as accurate as those who have taken the time to write or edit it.   Although Wikipedia (and the growing number of individual “wikis” for specific topics) continus to grow,  research from an extra source is always a good idea to get your facts straight.

Bacardi and Michael Shumacher prove that drinking and driving don’t mix

Posted in Uncategorized,Video by Donna on December 27, 2009
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If you’re reading my post, that means you have survived another Christmas.   For that you should be congratulated!   If you still have holiday fever, no worries!  New Year’s Eve is just around the corner.  

In keeping with the season, what better time to review a short film covering the dangers of drinking and driving?   Bacardi has created a film to demonstrate the dangers of drunk driving, but not in the way you would expect.    

 Here, bartender Salvatore Calabrese, is asked to mix a cocktail.  He’s dressed in a crisp, white shirt, but more on that later.   The drink is not going to be mixed  in the way you might think.  The catch?   Mr. Calabrese needs to mix the drink while in a sportscar being driven by 7-time Formula 1 Racing Champion, Michael Shumacher.

 As Shumaker maneuvers every turn (thankfully on a closed course!), our hapless bartender is getting a shower of mixed drinks on his lap as he prepares to mix a cocktail.  He begs the driver to “keep it steady, keep it steady.”

Finally, the ride ends, and Calabrese’s once-white shirt is now a blush pink thanks to the ride.  He serves a drink to Shumacher, who reminds the viewer, “Proof that Drinking and Driving Definitely don’t mix.”

This film was created in the UK, and my best guess is that this “tongue in cheek” approach to suh a serious subject would never fly in the USA.    In fact, if you visit the website referenced in the film, www.championsdrinkresponsibly.com, the site tells customers that the site is  “not intended for visitors from the US and Canada. If you are entering from these countries please visit bacardilimited.com.”

Fortunately the fatalities in America have dropped significantly.  According to Alcohol Report.com. 26,173 fatalities were reported in 1982. Fast forward to 2009 and the number has been cut nearly in half to 13,846.  Yet still, one fataility is one too many, and a good PSA can only help reinforce the mission against drunk driving.

Nonetheless, this is a creative method to talk about a serious subject.   And if two buddies in a pub can talk about the ad as racing fans and relate to it, all the better.

Be safe and well this holiday season!

GEICO Gecko & Disney Frog – strange bedfellows or marketing geniuses?

Posted in Video by Donna on December 27, 2009
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 I’ll admit it.   I have been conditioned to love GEICO.   Not only is it my insurance company with reasonable rates, but I also love their ads.   From the loveable Cavemen to the silent but wise googly-eyed wad of cash the hapless TV commercial actor could be saving on GEICO, I am a fan of them all.  

 Being home more than usual the past couple of days, I’ve had the guilty pleasure to catch a little more TV than usual.  

Here’s a new GEICO ad that caught me off guard.  The endearing GEICO Gecko is now costarring in some ads with characters from Disney’s latest animated hit “The Princess and the Frog.”  In one ad, the frog prince is on a Skype call (internet conference call…even small animals are using emerging media!) with the GEICO Gecko.  Instead of advising the frog how to change the spell that was cast upon him, the Gecko provides the frog with the GEICO tagline on how he can save hundreds by switching his insurance. 

I don’t really see any connection here other than two cute green spokes“people” for their respective companies.   At first I thought the GEICO was being used to help Disney sell tickets.  With a number one figure of sales in the box office (over 27 million on December 14th) The Princess and the Frog may instead open up awareness about GEICO to a group of new consumers — parents with young children.     Ted Ward, GEICO’s vice president of advertising released a statement that the tie –in with Disney is “a great fit at the start of the holiday season with Disney looking to entertain families and GEICO trying to save them money.”   My guess?   Consumers are so conditioned to pay attention to GEICO’s wonderful  ads, that both Disney and GEICO got a run for their advertising dollars.

Either way, this is a pretty clever symbiotic way for GEICO and Disney to promote each other.  

Just don’t take away my Caveman ads.

Can a mattress be social? Tempur-Pedic becomes buddies with Facebook and Twitter

This is one of the first commercials I have seen in a while that directly linked Social Media with a product. Mattress Company Tempur-Pedic (the squishy mattress with the handprint) has a new “ask me” television campaign to drive potential consumers to Facebook and Twitter sites to get a first hand look at what “actual Temper-Pedic owners” are saying about the mattresses. Tying in social media directly with an ad has been done before yes, but this one caught my attention as it so closely ties in social media directly with the product’s TV ads.

Curiosity got the best of me, and I just had to check out what people are saying. Currently Temper-pedic has 3,396 fans on Facebook.   Tempur-Pedic’s Twitter presence is fan based only, I could not find a page dedicated to the company through a keyword search.   One of the first Google hits on Tempur-Pedic and Twitter came up with a comment by consumer Gretchen Rubin, who claimed that the company’s pillows had a horrible smell.   I guess that proves the posts are real, but if I was the CEO of Tempur-Pedic, it’s probably not the first impression I would want of the company.

Back to Facebook , the replies I read were positive, save one from Nicole Brown on Christmas Eve.   Ms Brown is a current customer and made a comment that she is looking for sheets that better fit her mattress. Tempur-pedic was on its game, and sent a reply with a recommendation for something that may help her in less than 24 hours. The Tempur-Pedic reply was on Christmas Day no less! That’s exceptional customer service!

Based on replies on what customer’s are saying, I wouldn’t mind giving Tempur-Pedic a try.  However, like fine jewelry and luxury automobiles, you get what you pay for. On December 22nd, fan Betsi Lynch called her Tempur-Pedic the “best $7,918 she’s ever spent.” Now that’s some pricey sleep!  

Costs aside, there are lots of consumers that desperately need a comfortable mattress due to back problems or other physical limitations, and I’ll bet this sort of product that would be perfect for them.   Kudos to Tempur-Pedic for taking a brave step into social media to keep the dialong between clients and potential clients going.  

You can check out the Tempur-Pedic ad here:

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?comments&v=1204137496205

In with the new: changes to web design for 2010

Posted in Design by Donna on December 26, 2009
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Well another new year is upon us, and it might be a good idea to take a look back at where we’ve been with web design, and where we are going.

Perhaps I am simply spending too much time on a computer lately, but it seems there has been a major shift in trends in web design.   There are probably dozens that strike out at designers, but I would like to cover a couple of the big trends, size and design mirroring characteristics or print.

Size of graphics

Everything is bigger!  We’ve seen logos and headers increase to fill up an entire webpage 2010 will be oversized logos, large headers, and bigger images.   These types of headers can take up the entire screen, but quickly resize themselves after a second.   Users do not need to click, and risk closing out of the site, or sticking on a popup.

Check out the new look for CNN.com as an example.  The new layout is cleaner, key stories really pop.  The site also has some YouTube characteristics, with bigger graphic links to new video clips.   One drawback?   I am not a fan of needing to scroll to read other news articles.   Advertiser space takes up a lot of real estate, as you can see below.   I’d rather the Cialis bathub logo was below the information I really want to read, but I guess CNN needs to pay some bills like the rest of us.

Migration to mirroring print.   Type and graphics

Type: Until recently web designers are afraid of using new and different fonts as there was a concern over compatibility with user issues.  Yes, Arial, Verdana, Calibri, etc will continue to be in our vocabulary, but we are beginning to see examples in which type is richer, and a bigger player in the site’s design.  When used correctly and creatively, it type can lead us into a more captivating site, and providing the users’ attention to key content.  The site for 365 Days of Astronomy, (library of 365 podcasts about astronomy)   is a good example of implementation a type into the design of the site.

Illustrated graphics: Although video and stock photos will always be important, the use of illustrations is increasing in popularity.   Used as a means to blend the interaction between the virtual web and hard copy print, illustrations can be used to personalize the web for users. Here are a few examples of unique illustrations.   The Bryant Park Hotel has an approach  to strictly use illustrations on its home page.   Users need to dig deeper into category pages to find photos for hotel meeting rooms and accommodations.  The hotel is renowned as a hub for the fashion world, and the website’s  slick appearance and music reflects that.   Although as a user, I would probably like to see some images of the hotel on the main pages, I think the hotel’s image allows the site to get away with not having images sooner.

Another example for Doll Play Station, a site for online fashion doll games for girls,  shows a mixture of illustrations and photos.  Here offering girls real photos of how they can use the games adds a better personalization for the site and the user’s engagement with it.


Most of us will continue to receive less print mail, and many of us are subscribing to less print publications each year.  As companies are switching to a web only presence, designers are tasked to provide a layout that print readers will instantly recognize and become comfortable with.   It will be interesting to see how sites will continue to evolve by the close of 2010.

Teens and Facebook: Permission to stay connected or risk to employers?

Posted in Communication,Social Media by Donna on December 26, 2009
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Today’s teenagers were born into an era in which they never knew a world without TiVo, internet or chat rooms.  Whether at school, work or band camp, kids are social in person, and  they take their expectations on remaining plugged in wherever they go.    Will their habits succeed in the workplace, or crash and burn?

This month Junior Achievement and accounting firm Deloitte released a survey report about teenagers and their expectations about social networking habits on the job.

In our mobile society this probably would not come as much of a surprise to anyone:

The report found that 88 percent teens surveyed use social networks every day, with 70 percent saying they participate in social networking an hour or more daily.

More telling however, was that half (58 percent) said they would consider their ability to access social networks at work when considering a job offer from a potential employer.

Although the majority of teens surveyed stated they do not behave unethically while using social networks (83 percent), the report found conflicting information.  Read on for some statistics:

  • 40 % do not consider the potential reactions of college admissions officers
  • 38 % do not consider the reactions of present or future employers
  • 30 % do not consider their parents’ reactions.
  • 16 % readily admitted to behavior that included posting content embarrassing to others, spreading rumors and pretending to be someone other than themselves, with a vast majority of them expressing regret later about doing so.

These figures provide some soboring statistics for employers.   A lack of mindfulness can hurt a friendship, and yes, that can be costly to the individuals involved.  But what if you’re a business owner?   The implications of an employee’s post can put the costs (both financial and reputation) to a company beyond repair.  The cost from bad pr, lost sales or even a lawsuit due to an employee’s action spreading rumors about co-workers or managers and leaking proprietary information can be overwhelming.

As the job force of the future puts such an emphasis on social media, additional training and education is required.  As employers may be less familiar with social media tools than their young hires, they will need to consider enhanced training and communication relative to social networking in order to recruit the best and brightest.  However, teens entering the workforce may also need to learn some lessons about ethical decision-making tools to help them understand the importance of behaving with integrity on- and offline.   After all, once something is posted, it can live on forever.

Currently more than half of the companies surveyed by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics do not have a social medial policy.  Employers need to recognize that policies should be created sooner than later to avoid risk.   I am a legal marketer by trade, and love the e-blasts sent by Jaffe Associates.   I’ve provided a link for their published  Social Media policy.   This is a good sample, regardless of industry.   But definitely work with your HR and legal department to make sure this is right for your company.

A little leg work now, and employers and recruits can interact with each other safely and effectively.

Viral Video: What a Week for Hewlett Packard

Christmas time is here, and what better gift under the tree for the family than a shiny new computer?   Well, if you’re a representative of Hewlett-Packard (HP), this might not have been the most wonderful time of the year. 

I caught a story on CNN yesterday about the latest viral video.   In this case the video provides a problem for a company instead of the usual happy wedding dance or Susan Boyle’s latest musical number.

In the video, electronics store employees Wanda Zamen and Desi Cryer test out a webcam built into a HP computer.   One of the selling points of the product is facial recognition in which the camera will follow the users face.  In the video, Zamen and Cryer take turns in front of the camera.  The webcam follows Wanda Zamen (who is Caucasian) as she moves in front of the screen.   However, once Desi Cryer (who is African American) moves into the picture, the camera is still.   Facial recognition and motion ceases to work. 

With such an unusual product flaw, the pair decided to film the product’s shortcomings and post it on YouTube.  

Zamen and Cryer chose to make the shot film for amusement of friends and family.  In a statement on Mashable they remarked, “we thought the video was funny and decided to post it on You Tube. It was our intention to provide a good natured chuckle to our fellow man, and honestly we did not imagine that so many people would watch and react to the video.”

Wow.  That good natured chuckle has now been viewed by more than one million people.  The biggest problem?  The title of the video reflects one of the remarks in the film- “HP computers are racist”.

A sitation like this could have spelled disaster for HP, who did admit to CNN that e cameras may have issues with contrast recognition in certain lighting situations, which could prevent the product working for individuals with different skin tones.

 Instead of hiding its head in the sand, HP quickly reacted on its blog (The Next Bench), and posted a statement that “We would like to thank both of them for bringing clarity to the discussion via the (Mashable) statement they issued this week. I think it’s important for all of us to understand their intentions when they shot the video.  HP continues on by saying, “we invite you to continue to connect with us here on The Next Bench or on Twitter at @HP_PC. We assure you that we are listening.”

We’ve learned that HP’s product is far from perfect.   But by acting quickly and communicating to both Wanda and Desi, as well as the general blogosphere the company may have survived a public relations disaster.   As a result, HP may still have a happy holiday after all.

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