2008-04-11T20:13:15.355-07:00(image) I saw a play last night - kinda sorta about the JT Leroy thing, and the James Frey thing, and the Stephen Glass thing and a thing I hadn't heard of - the Nasdijj thing.
|The list (courtesy Real Simple)|
|Nectarines||Lettuce and other greens|
2006-03-30T06:56:45.106-08:00Once, a long long long time ago, I worked at Citigroup. Honest, I did. And at Citigroup, 'metric' is a verb. Everything that happened, or that thought about happening, or that might happen, had to be measured, analyzed and reported. The trick was - once the data was sliced and diced and served on a silver platter, then what, pardon the word choice, happened? In the wise words of my very wise boss, we promptly and with gusto threw all that data on the floor, walked on it and stomped it into the ground. Hmmph.
2006-03-27T18:06:39.950-08:00So we all know, perhaps evidenced by the fact that we don't know, that Americans are not nearly as interested in SMS messaging as our counterparts in Europe and Asia (not really a newsworthy observation since 2003, when this was NEWS - see The Economist, Bluetooth News, etc.). And, T and I were no different. But then, aha!, along came GOOGL (or 46645) - the mobile 411. And I mean 411 as in the "down-low," the "info," the "story."
2006-03-14T19:14:36.676-08:00Although I really hate to admit it, no one, not even we, can know everything. Honest - we can't. That is the only consolation I can offer T while we bemoan the fact that we have just come to learn about The Long Tail (according to Danny Sullivan, we are not the only ones behind the curve on this). And then today, I read Grant McCracken's blog on The Coca-Cola Company's shift to a long-tail model of marketing - it never ceases to amaze me that the instant you learn a new word (or phrase or theory), all of a sudden it's EVERYWHERE.So, there we were, discussing niche marketing after reading Saul Hansell's article in the NYT on slivercasting (today, you can find this article here, but with the NYT, access can become restricted), which led us to discuss Starbucks, one of our lovemarks (don't miss Grant on Lovemarks - it's blistering), which led us to discuss whether Starbucks, a $6.7 billion company, can really be said to have a "niche" market. And that led us back around to Saul's article and his reference to a 2004 article in Wired about "the long tail," a term that refers "to the large number of specialized offerings that in themselves appeal to a small number of people, but cumulatively represent a large market that can be easily aggregated on the Internet. Plotted on a graph along with best sellers, these specialized products trail off like a long tail that never reaches zero."And just like that, we were off. By that definition (requiring small numbers of people for whom specialized offerings can be aggregated on the Internet - and the mind boggles at ordering a Venti non-fat caramel latte, half decaf, easy syrup, online), Starbucks may not be in a "niche" per se - instead, and here we land on yet another of our lovemarks, Starbucks is an extraordinary hedgehog. The key is that their hedgehog is not the coffee, their hedgehog is the experience. But back to the long tail, the niche, and niche marketing... (Did I mention all this was taking place after we had just spent two days at the Nightclub and Bar tradeshow in Las Vegas? Just the place to find products including bottled high-quality olive juice (Dirty Sue), erotic vodka for women (no joke! X-Rated, "the first vodka created to delight women"), metal baskets made to order, lenticular cups (you had no idea, did you?) and more...) You can see how niche marketing was a natural topic of cocktail banter.What does it all mean? Well, being a hedgehog (not only knowing, but doing, the one thing at which you are great) and having a niche are not the same, although nor are they mutually exclusive. What the long tail ("which is about the shift from hits to niches") tells us is that today more consumers with less popular desires are able to have those desires met - by smart providers who will aggregate similar desires together to create that famous economy of scale. And, conversely, more consumers will be less willing to settle for the next best thing to what they really want. The smartest providers, or aggregators, are hedgehogs to their niche audience - creating a paradox that Chris Anderson, the author of the original Long Tail article, addressed last summer, concluding that the Long Tail of Aggregation is coming soon.Marketing is changing, and the consumer is driving that change in a way unimaginable 20, even 10, years ago. We want what we want - nothing more and nothing else. American Express is giving us commercials in which we can supply the message, iPod is letting us watch TV in the palm of our hands... we're all on Long Tails... the question we have is, what's the life expectancy of the Short Tails? and who's going to be left in the dust if they disintegrate?[...]
2006-03-15T12:28:36.683-08:00Grant McCracken posted two great blogs about the M. Night Shyamalan American Express commercial - one right after the other. In the first, he highlights the ad's effect of causing him, the viewer, to "make stuff up." This, he argues, is a good thing: "When we unleash indeterminacy, consumers will rush in to make things up, including our messages and our brands." He has a point - American Express clearly has the confidence in its product to allow consumers to create their own brand message for the card. And from that perspective, mylifemycard seamlessly transitions into yourlifeyourcard. And further, AmEx has assembled as variegated a motley crew of icons and role-models as you could wish - if M. Night is not one on whom you can project your own message, surely you can find a hero among Robert DeNiro, Ken Watanabe, Laird Hamilton, Ellen Degeneres, Tiger Woods, need I go on?
2006-03-06T11:37:09.956-08:00Ellen DeGeneres, he ain't. I loved Sixth Sense, I liked Unbreakable, I sat through Signs, I missed The Village, though I think it's somewhere on my NetFlix queue. He's talented, and even not a bad choice for a credit card company. But that ad! American Express - what were you thinking? What was M. Night thinking?
2006-03-06T11:32:25.840-08:00Okay, so who remembered that Morgan Freeman won Best Supporting Actor last year, until he presented, um... oh right, Rachel Weisz, her Oscar last night? And who else was pummeling their brain trying to figure out what the hell Nicole Kidman won Best Supporting Actress for last year when she showed up to give George Clooney his award last night? (for those who didn't race to IMDB.com to figure it out - she didn't win, Cate Blanchett won for playing Katherine Hepburn. Guess Cate wasn't available last night...)Don't get me wrong, I was glued to the tube, and for the life of me, couldn't figure out how I ever watched the Oscars before TiVo (TiVo, I bow before you, I worship you, I adore you... whatever happens in the corporate world, in the zeitgeist you are right up there with cell phones, microwave ovens and Chinese food delivery). But still... did Nicole win for Moulin Rouge or Cold Mountain? Or was it To Die For? Did anyone, anyone!, make a speech last night that was memorable, even charming? Actually, Three 6 Mafia, was elated and charming and pretty darn cool. But really, think about it - who will forget Cuba Gooding, Jr.? Or Julia Roberts - "put down that baton, I'm not done" Or Charlton Heston? Or even Hilary Swank, if only because she memorably forgot to thank her husband (the first time, not the second, let's be fair).Jon Stewart was funny - I'd ask him back - but he wasn't outrageous. And maybe that's what Hollywood was shooting for, at least I hope they were, because that's what we got.Back to our point (we did have one) - it's the ultimate paradox of ultimate TV (quick, who won the Superbowl last year? for that matter, who won this year?) -- the most-watched, most paid-for, arguably most anticipated (though the new season of The Sopranos may just be giving these old standbys a run for their money - maybe waiting 2 years between seasons wasn't such a bad idea after all) events on TV have the staying power of cotton candy in the rain - and the substance. What does that mean? That we're overloaded with information, with entertainment, with choices? Yes to all of the above. That we enjoy spectacles, especially without meaning - in this corner, let's give a hand to the Superbowl, weighing in at $2.4 million per 30 seconds and 130 million viewers and in the other corner, please pay your respects, we have the XX Olympics, weighing in at just 14 million viewers for the closing ceremonies, and asking just $700k per spot. And maybe that one-time events are just that, and we can and maybe should, just appreciate them for the 3 hours of entertainment they provide. I know where I'll be the first Sunday in March 2007... wondering who the hell won for best screenplay last year, and hoping for somebody, any body, to do something memorable.p.s. Nicole won for Best Prosthetic - I mean Actress - for The Hours in 2002[...]
2006-03-03T09:06:28.773-08:00CBS wants to have its cake and eat it too... after more than a year of holding Howard to fulfilling his contract and making him stay on the air, now they're suing him for what he said while on 'their' air - that is, promoting satellite radio, his eventual move to Sirius in particular. Vaguespace gets it right - CBS Radio has a bad case of sour grapes; “I’m the one who kept you on the air and I knew I could sue you afterwards,” Stern says Les Moonves told him.
2006-03-01T15:07:02.343-08:00What were they thinking? NBC was behaving like Ozzie and Harriet - "You can watch all of it or you'll see none of it!" And guess what we kids picked? "None of it, thanks Mom." (Actually, many of us picked "American Idol".)
2006-02-28T18:30:32.973-08:00Here is XM, going after the men... after all, they signed Howard for soooo much money. And over there is Sirius, certainly not aiming at that 18-34 male demographic when they signed the big O, for not quite as much money. If they keep going in this direction, we could end up with Sirius-ly XM Satellite radio - all the programming he, or she, could ever want. Hmmm....