Category Archives: Public Relations

Gap Returns to Old Blue Logo After Fans Gripe

The Gap is returning to their old blue logo. I blogged about this in my last post, and so naturally, I will be bragging today to all my friends how I blogged about The Gap’s new logo and forced them to change it back to the old. The power of blogging, the power of Audacious Ink. . .(cue the needle scratching abruptly across the record.)

Okay, delusions aside, seriously, wow: the power of the masses. The Gap was a trending topic because of the logo flap. No one liked it. Graphic design blogs were sounding in, marketing blogs, fan blogs, fashionistas blog, probably pet blogs even sounded in, who knows, but seriously, half the Internet was talking about this. The Gap realized the mistake they made strategically and reversed it.

Will this be a case study in future marketing classes? It’s gotta be.

In this article, there is a great, succinct quote about brands that I am going to reuse myself in the future, as it’s the best I’ve heard. “Logos are key to brands because they convey meaning and are something fans feel connected to.” Emily Fredix, the AP marketing writer who wrote the story gets credit for that one. I think she hit the nail on the head, and it explains, in part, why there was such an uproar. It’s a logo, right? Who cares?

We did, and the Gap listened and responded quickly. I’m so misty-eyed over this marriage of branding and t-shirts that I think I’m going to shop at The Gap today in Sherman Oaks. Look for my Foursquare check-in.

Silence is Golden on Your Website

I have said this before right here in this blog: do not greet people on your website with a person talking. It is not a great marketing strategy and it serves one purpose: it pisses off your visitors.

Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it. Most of us have traveled to your website not wishing to share our business to anyone sitting in the room with us. Social networking may be social, but in general, when we surf the net, we want a level of privacy. Not that we are downloading porn or doing anything illicit. We just don’t want to be greeted with a blasting voice going, “HI!!!! WELCOME TO OUR WEBSITE!!!!!”

Here’s what I do when it happens to me: I exit the website quickly and I never go back. Is that what you wanted? Then mission accomplished.

Loud noise should never come from dogs, children, women (or men) with high-pitched voices, or a website.

Turn off the noise.

“All Marketers Are Liars” is a Lie: Ask Seth

I need to get this off my chest. Marketing is not lying. Lying is lying and marketing is, in its simplest form, promoting a real event, product or service. There is a lot more that goes into that promotion, like blood, sweat and tears, but lying is not part of the mix. In fact, just ask any college marketing professor to name the entire marketing mix for you. Lying is not part of it.

Why am I ranting about this? Over time, I have deleted a few people from my Facebook profile page due to a simple little fact: they are telling lies, especially lies about their career all in the name of marketing and PR, to make them seem more successful. I love a good lie, don’t get me wrong. Tell me I look 21 and I will a) think you are lying and b) love you. No, I will worship you. Anyway, I noticed that as social media grew, so did the unfortunate side-effect of some people lying, and, worse, it was done under the guise of marketing. Normally, I would let sleeping dogs lie, literally, but when people start lying and then justify it by saying, “It’s just marketing,” then I have an issue, people. I’m a marketer, not a liar (unless you are going to bust me on age issues again).

Don’t believe me? Fine. Ask Seth Godin, who as any marketer knows (but liars may not) wrote “All Marketers are Liars.” See, he didn’t really mean it, because of this quote from the book: “When you are busy telling stories to people who want to hear them, you’ll be tempted to tell stories that just don’t hold up. Lies. Deceptions.”

I was reminded of this quote when I recently saw a friend who asked about a mutual friend. “It seems like things are going well, judging by the Facebook updates,” he said. Before I could even answer, he added, “Of course, if you can believe all that.” I told him that based on what I knew, he was right; this friend was doing a little fabricating. “How’s that working out?” he asked dryly, waiting a beat, then said, “Oh, I guess it’s not.”

More than an admonishment on lying, my message here is that the lies don’t hold up if you don’t have proof of the product, or the business, or the experience. People see through it, or worse, they believe you, then ask an innocent question following up on your Facebook update, and realize, “Huh, that was a lie.” People don’t like to be duped. A sucker is born every minute; a person scorned is reborn every second. And scorned consumers are the ones spending money on the competitor’s product or service. Not the liars.

Conan the Marketer

My Tweet today read this: ” NBC, when you insult the E Street Band, you insult me. Leave Max (and #Conan) alone.”

From this, you can gather that I want Conan to stay the host of “The Tonight Show” in its current time slot.

Conan says this will not happen unless NBC leaves the show as is.

While I like Conan, I may have a different perspective on this than most people. I LOVE MAX WEINBERG. He is the world’s greatest drummer in the world’s greatest band, and he ultimately reports to a higher boss than Conan, yes, I’m talking about THE Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

All that aside, when I read Conan’s letter today to the “People of Earth,” I have to admit, my admiration for the host went up. Yes, there are greater things going on in the world than when “The Tonight Show” airs, and, yes, maybe Conan didn’t do as well as Jay did in the same time slot. Conan has a big future ahead of him, and if he decides to leave TV, he should really consider the world of marketing. Yeah, you heard me. Marketing. He’d be great at building brand and would be a social media sensation (actually, he already is that). Here’s his letter, and if you’ve read it, please skip down to see my thoughts on why he’s Conan the Marketer:

“People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Yours,
Conan”

It’s great, right? So as marketers, and writers, what tips we can learn from Conan and this letter? Well, for starters:

1. Got a potential crisis or scandal, or thorny situation? State your case, be honest, and be professional. Conan doesn’t really bash NBC in this letter. He lets it be known that he doesn’t like the situation, he hates their decision, but he keeps it clean and he gets to the point. I have seen CEOs of companies, time and again, forget this simple PR tenant: be upfront and be clear. A+ Conan!

2. Twitter builds armies. Within an hour of this letter being published, it made the trending topics of Twitter and all of sudden we have a new term: Team Conan. I have been watching Twitter since this news first broke, and to my knowledge, it has not been a trending topic until this letter came out. If people are inspired enough by a particular subject, Twitter is the new gathering place to discuss that topic. The question is, how can you use it to your advantage, especially if you don’t have the Conan brand.

3. Humor can work in writing if used correctly. Most people aren’t as funny as Conan (although Camp Leno may think Conan is not funny at all), but he uses humor to his benefit. His use of it in this letter, apologizing for his hair, for example, keeps it in perspective. There were many tones this letter could have, and those touches of humor added a touch of humility. It’s easy to rant, and it’s really easy to let a big ego show. Conan used humor sparingly, and I, for one, liked him all the more for it. I think it made a lot of people want to rally for his cause.

4. Paint a picture through words: and Conan showed us the big picture. NBC, you are not just moving his time slot. You are moving Johnny Carson’s time slot; you are moving the time slot of a time-honored tradition, and more so, NBC, you are moving the time slot of two time honored traditions when you also move “The Late Show.” In fact, NBC, you are screwing around not just with Conan O’Brien, but all of America, all his predecessors, Jimmy Fallon, and by God, David Letterman. More so, to me (Conan didn’t go in this direction, but I will), you are moving Max Weinberg, which means you are actually messing with Bruce Springsteen. Shame on you, NBC. Shame, shame, shame.

I don’t know what will happen to “The Tonight Show,” but I know one thing is for certain. I’m watching it tonight.

Can Jazz be Saved?

The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about the diminishing audience for jazz. The story cited a Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, conducted by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) in participation with the U.S. Census Bureau. It was the fourth survey of its kind since 1982. The predominant findings in the latest report showed:

1. Since the last survey in 2002, Jazz audiences shrank from 10.8% to 7.8%.
2. In 1982, the median age of a jazz fan was 29. Today? Jazz fans have a median age of 46. The audience is shrinking and aging.
3. They aren’t getting that old, though: Older people are also less likely to attend jazz performances today than they were just six years ago. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 dropped 30% in 2008 from 2002.
4. College-educated adults are seeing less jazz: the audience for live jazz has shrunk to 14.9% in 2008 from 19.4% in 1982.

Why is jazz losing its audience? I asked a good friend, someone I think has great taste in music. I read him the stats and when I finished, he chuckled and said that he was not surprised.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because Jazz is boring.”

So I asked him why he thought it was boring.

He gave me two words. “No energy.”

Anyone who ever listened to any Louis Armstrong, without whom I think Rock-n-Roll owes some thanks, would disagree. Sure, much of jazz has a different kind of energy. I’m thinking Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker. Its an energy not unlike like the strange, pasty girl in your 9th grade social studies class who had a nose ring and jet black hair, and wore a Ramones t-shirt over a plaid Catholic school girl scort. You don’t think she’s pretty, but you can’t help but stare.

According to the author of the WSJ article, the problem seems to be that Americans think Jazz is a high art. Evidently this is a bad thing. In the thirties, however, and up through the fifties, jazz was an everyman’s type of music. My own parents never made it beyond a high school education and they loved jazz. It was the music of their courtship in the forties. Around the mid-sixties, with the “Bitches Brew” period, jazz became music for elite intelectuals, as the WSJ article states, it now appeals to the same high-brow audience previously reserved for opera and classical music.

The article points out, rightly, that marketing is what jazz needs in order to be saved. It has to reach out to a younger audience, but I think it also needs to bring back some of the faithful. The NEA, in my opinion, should target ads at saving jazz. Imagine a commercial (radio or TV) with snippets of songs from some of the more venerable jazz standards. The music itself can sell. Of course, the NEA is unendingly strapped for money, so it’s a bit like my fashion diva pals telling me I should wear more Prada. Local arts organizations and cities themselves could join in, sponsoring more Jazz concerts in civic parks, and cajoling local corporations and TV stations to pitch in. Finding the funding to save jazz is not an easy task, but raising public awareness is essential in any marketing campaign. Rebrand jazz, not for the elite, but as music for the everyman. After all, in 1987, Congress deemed jazz a national treasure. Raising awareness of American jazz classics—and substantial new artist in the genre—seems like a worthy cause for the charitable arms of savvy corporations wishing to appeal not only to a niche upper-end market, but to make a name for themselves to the masses as a company helping the arts.

Saving jazz goes back to a marketing fundamental: Great things without publicity don’t have a reputation for being great, just obscure. I’ve said it before. It’s all marketing, always, and nothing seems to escape from this reality. Not even underappreciated national treasures.