Tag Archives: advertising

How Social Is Your TV?

At the February Triangle Social Media Club event I had my eyes opened to the world of “social TV.”  The speakers were Gregory Ng (@gregoryng), Tim Arthur (@timarthur), Damond Nollan (@damondnollan) and the MC was Ryan Boyles (@therab).  The panel showed what their entertainment centers consisted of, their top 5 shows and one guilty pleasure as well as shared insights, wants and desires of social TV.

Social TV integrates social networks and television, movie and music habitsThe rise of digital enabled devices has allowed for greater integration of social networks and websites with our TVs.  All four on the panel had a gaming device such as Wii or Xbox to stream video but the setups were different in other areas.  For instance Damond’s strategy was to reduce his monthly entertainment expense while allowing everyone in his household to have their own streaming device.  While Greg preferred to subscribe to Direct TV for sports as well as the ability to watch live events as they happen.

The presentation embedded at the end of this post gives a great view into the different setups.  The panel also listed their favorite shows and guilty pleasures.  All four panelists picked “The Walking Dead” as one of their top 5 shows.  While I’m not a fan of Zombie genre, I was interested to learn why they were enthusiastic.  The show had a big following and even the largest cable debut of the season.  Combined with fan chats, celebrity after show appearances; The Walking Dead created a community of fans and a forum.

That’s where social TV has real potential.  It’s one thing to check in to a show and share that on Twitter and Facebook.  This can lead to shared interests among your social circle.  But where it takes off is creating a true fan community that works similar to bulletin board forums of the early 90s.  Ryan explained how super fans create private blogs on Tumblr with their own language and rely heavily on aliases.  Most best practices posts will tell you to be authentic, but in the world of social TV DISQUS did research that showed that alias communities had greater interaction and participation.

What does all of this mean to marketing and advertising folk like me? It represents a new opportunity to build relationships with fans in a new way.  While Ryan recanted GaryVee’s mantra of “marketing ruins everything” it does not have to.  The panel discussed how media companies can build respect and report with users versus just selling to them.  For instance, what if a social TV app could provide live channel notifications and share that among friends?  The idea that sharing old school living room experience allows for more intimate content and engagement with a global audience is truly unique.

Tonight the Oscars is being broadcast and I’ve already seen hype around the fact that this will be the most social and interactive award show to date.  That’s an easy claim if the majority of last year’s activity was Twitter and Facebook chatter.  But as social TV develops there is opportunity to engage fans and talent in real time.

I want to thank Ryan for hosting the panel and sharing the presentation on his SlideShare space as well as the other panelists for sharing their frank and honest views on the tools, technology and changing landscape of social TV!  Plus Greg’s guilty pleasure of “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” was classic!  Also I was finally able to meet Tim Arthur in person after several months of chatting on Twitter and blogs and found out that we have many similar interests including Breaking Bad and Californication, two of my favorite shows!  Also thanks to WNCN NBC 17 for hosting the event and studio tour from Kim Green @producingk.

Marketing Lessons from The NFL

The National Football LeagueWe’re halfway through the National Football League (NFL) season and this is the time of year that I love.  Temperature is cooling down, leaves are changing, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the holidays and the NFL season is in full swing.  There’s a reason why NFL football is the number one sport in the United States, well-done marketing!  Everything you need to know about marketing can be learned from watching and studying the NFL.

Talent Acquisition

The NFL devised the draft in 1935 to acquire the top college players and have held a draft every year since 1936.  Since then it has become a prime time television event and the model for other leagues to acquire talent.  Even though there are several rounds, the first round and top dozen picks get more media attention and millions of dollars for the picks than some companies in a single year.

Branding and Merchandise

Official NFL jerseys sell from $80-150 depending on the team and player.  Watch or attend any game and you see a large portion of the fans wearing them.  Go to any sports bar on a Sunday and you’ll see even more.  In addition to jerseys, team logos appear on just about every product and each one pays a licensing fee to the NFL for the right to use or risk serious lawsuit from a team of high price lawyers and copyright infringement from the feds.


Ads are everywhere but the uniform and the field.  The NFL knows that if they slap logos on the teams and the field of play it cheapens the game and could create backlash among fans.  Yet we see ads everywhere else and placed without all the tackiness of NASCAR and European Soccer that slap ads anywhere on the vehicle and athlete possible.

Special Events

The Superbowl, do I really need to explain this? It’s the most watch sporting event on the planet, every year.  Commercials cost a million dollars and can give you exposure for to launch a company.


Humans love routines and a consistent time and date makes it easy to build a regular routine around a sporting event.  The majority of the NFL games are played on Sunday and usually at 1 pm local time.  Even with Monday Night Football and the second-half Thursday night games, most fans get their fix starting at 1 pm on Sunday.  For the uber-fan you have primetime games on Sunday and Monday and the occasional Thursday night game.


Instant replay was once a TV feature has now become part of the rules.  This year we see automatic review of scoring plays to eliminate error.  While I’m not a fan of instant replay as it slows the game down and takes out the human element, it is an analytical process that helps ensure accuracy.

Crisis Communications

When Hank Williams shouted Obama is a Nazi on Fox News ESPN cut the cord before the NFL had to step in. ESPN knew that the NFL does not need Hank Williams to sell MNF and realized his time had come.  Smart move and thank you!

Social Media

Early on the NFL realized that players tweeting during games would be a distraction and issued a social media policy banning tweets and social media messages starting 90 minutes before the game and lasting until after the game finishes.  Instad of waiting for an incident the NFL realized that a clear, concise policy was the best way to keep the attention on the field for players and staff.


Only a half dozen players, coaches and contributors to the game get elected into the NFL Hall of Fame every year making it an honor and priveledge that most players aspire to.  Instead of flooding the Hall with great players, it’s reservered for the best of the best.  Wonder what it means to the inductees? Watch any induction ceremony and you’ll see a full range of emotions.

Word of Mouth

More water cooler chatter on Monday mornings is about football and specifically NFL football than any other topic on a regular basis.  How many times have you heard, “did you watch the game?” on Monday morning?


Will Brand Redesign Bring Back Budweiser’s Customers?

New Budweiser design and several can redesignsBudweiser announced that it is redesigning its cans. The bow tie Budweiser logo will be emphasized along with the red color. I wonder if this will attract new customers?  Sure there will be interest when the new design is seen on cans and swag, but will it last?

Overall the beer market has shrunk the past year.  People have stayed home and drank less during the recession.  Budweiser is now owned by InBev a Belgium brewer. U.S.-based sales for Budweiser dropped 7.3% in 2010, while sales for Bud Light dropped 2%, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Still Bud and Bud Light are the top two beers sold in the US. A can redesign changes the packaging but how does it fit into Budweiser’s overall marketing strategy?

Bud has built the brand with aggressive advertising and promotion at national and local levels. NFL and other major sport ads provided the air cover that kept the brand fresh cool and present in consumers minds. From the talking frogs to the Wassup? guys, Bud has spent more than any other advertisers on the most expensive advertising event, the SuperBowl.

At the local level Bud has partnered with leading distributors and provided co-op dollars to sponsor local events and venues. By working with local bars and restaurants Bud and Bud Light have pushed special pricing to win sales based on price. Even the local delivery trucks have Bud splashed across the vehicle. A new brand requires some time to gel with fans while a throwback one could lead to immediate acceptance and appreciation.

Will the new design just give short term buzz and excitement about the brand yet long term sales will continue to decline? Bud has a long heritage that it could reach into. Bringing back Bud Man or some of the traditional designs could give it a more authentic nostalgic connection with consumers.  A retro design could tie in to digital media as it would allow for customers and fans to share in their memories and what they love the brand’s heritage.  Similar to how we’ve caught up with all our old high school friends on Facebook. I don’t think consumers will talk online much about the new can.

I think part of Budweiser’s redesign strategy is to attract younger customers in their 20s and 30s.  Yet the younger beer drinking public may see right through Bud’s gimmick and stick with their hipster brands like PBR or be craft beer connoisseurs. Is this Bud for you or for the rapidly changing younger generations?

Typography: The Message Conveyed by Printed Characters

TypographyYour choice of font paints a picture with words, effectively conveying whether your message is playful or formal, sophisticated or aimed at children. Fonts can be used to emphasize the most important parts of an advertisement or article, especially for online readers who tend to quickly scan instead of carefully read. The type of font used is just as important as the colors or background in setting the mood of a message. So with this in mind, here are some points to take into consideration when choosing fonts and how they impact upon your readers’ opinion.

1. Use Styling to Denote Importance

Font size and thickness can be manipulated with any font to divide a message into parts of varying importance. Messages or advertisements often contain one most important element. Using a large, bold font for this element, whether it is the name of a company or an important date, makes that element stand out easily. The bolder and blockier the font, the more the words will jump out at the reader. Car dealerships or furniture stores often make use of large blocky fonts to announce a special sale.

Fonts such as Swiss and Futura are ideal choices when simple, chunky fonts are needed. These fonts have no serifs, which are the wispy extensions of the bottom and top of letters found in common fonts for newspaper or magazine text. Swiss and Futura come in varying thicknesses, from light to extra black, and condensed versions are also options when space is an issue. Many advertisements end with a small disclaimer at the bottom. This should always be the smallest font size of the ad and the thinnest version of the font. In articles, copyright lines or credits would follow the same format as a disclaimer.

2. More Formal Messages Require a More Stylized Font

Script fonts such as Edwardian or Zapfino come into play here. The elegant, swooping characters extend sometimes from thick at certain points to thin at the ends, like a willow branch reaching in the wind. Ideal for businesses such as wedding planners and five-star hotels, script fonts really convey a high-class image.

In addition to script fonts, formal messages sometimes use fonts that are simpler yet highly stylized. Examples are Camelia and Bernard Fashion, which are thin, rounded fonts. Their unique look draws the good kind of attention and states that the company is fashionable. These fonts should not be used for advertisements having a lot of text, because the words will easily get lost.

Only use script or stylized fonts when the message is simple, or just use them for the major headline or company name, and use a simple font for the rest.

3. Use Different Styling of Same Font for Easy Reading

Breaking up text with different styles of the same font makes for easier reading. The first, most important line should be bold. If there is a subheading underneath that, it could be italicized. Then, the main body should be regular text, which is called “Roman” or “Book.” If there is contact information or a company name at the end, it should be bold.

Setting up an advertisement or message in this way gives the brain an easy framework to understand and shows the chain of importance from greatest to least at a glance.

4. Use Special Display Fonts for Certain Holidays

Fonts to use for Halloween include Sand and Quake, which are squiggly, spooky typefaces, and Metropolitaines, which varies from very thick in the middle of a character to thinner and rounded outward toward the end. For Thanksgiving, Victorian and Harrington are good choices, because they have an old-fashioned yet domestic feel. For Christmas, the Snowcap font caps the top of each letter with a mound of snow. Graphic fonts such as Zapf Dingbats replace letters with images of shapes, including different types of snowflakes, which are handy to use in Christmas advertisements.

5. Italicized Fonts are Often Associated with Solemnity

Announcements such as thank-you messages for generosity of friends at a time of loss of a loved one should stick to italicized or light script fonts. Super-fancy script should not be used because the words will be hard to read. A script that has simple extensions at the tips of letters and maybe a strategically placed curl is good. Italicized versions of serif fonts like Garamond or Goudy work well, because they are easy to read yet fancier than a simple block font. Display fonts should be avoided, because they convey a more informal, happy tone.

Fonts work with all parts of an advertisement, article, or webpage to convey a solid, clear message. Elements can be manipulated to better cooperate. Background color can be altered to complement or contrast text color, or vice versa. As long as both color or shade and typeface set the same mood, the image will be enhanced by the complement. Typography does with characters what a painter does with brushstrokes. The result of both is an image that can be discerned as having a distinct mood. Proper use of fonts is key in painting the right picture.

This post was contributed by James who writes about design on the CreativeCloud. Click here if you would like to read more of his writing.

Facebook’s New Best Friend? The Gap!

Gap Free Jeans Check In Facebook Places Page
The Gap's Free Jeans Coupon on Facebook Places

Last week The Gap announced that they were giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans to anyone who checked in to their stores on Facebook.  All you had to do was show your check-in screen on your mobile device to redeem the coupon.  I headed over to The Gap at 11 AM last Friday to see if I could be one of the lucky 10,000.  I was unable to be there when the store opened as I was co-hosting the Movember-thon from 10-11 AM.  By the time I got to the store they had already given out the free jeans. In fact, the store clerk informed me that there was a line at the door when the store opened at 10 AM and they only have 7 pairs of free jeans to give away.

Was I disappointed? No, because at the same time The Gap was offering 40% off any regular price item for anyone showing their check in screen.  Since I was at the store and needed a pair of jeans I decided to try some on.  Now I’m not a fashionista, so I usually buy Levis jeans and my last purchase was at BJ’s Wholesale Club.  Therefore I would not normally spend $50 on jeans, but with the 40% off the jeans were more around $33 which is  what I’m willing to pay.  Big win for The Gap, they got me in the store and I made a purchasing decision that I would not have normally done.  Also my wife went with me and bought an item at 40% off as well as showed me a second item that she liked that I plan to go back and purchase.  To top it off the store clerk gave me coupons valid on Wednesdays and Thursdays, low traffic days.

So even though I and many others wrote about The Gap changing their logo and how the decision seemed ill advised, I am more convinced than ever that it was all a stunt.  I cannot believe that The Gap was going to change their logo to something that looked like a 5th grader’s first forway into layout software.  Either way it does not really matter as this week’s discussion is about how brilliant the free jeans campaign was.  Not only did they redeem themselves among marketing pundits and regular customers, they also accomplished something that the Facebook executives are loving.  They demonstrated how to use the Facebook Places mobile application work for location based marketing.

Facebook Places Screen
Facebook Places Shows Special Offers

When I checked into Facebook places I noticed that the screen looked different.  Luckily I downloaded the latest update earlier in the week so I could see the coupons icon next to the store name.  As I walked out of The Gap I started to look at the different offers each store had.  Some offered 20% off coupons, others would donate to a specific charitable cause with a certain purchase.  I was intrigued as I’m not a big shopper and if I can find a deal it makes me more likely to purchase.  I used to be an impulse buyer but in recent years have overcome that habit.

So in a single campaign The Gap not only redeemed itself but they also were able to make more Facebook users aware of how location based services (LBS) can provide value beyond checking in.  I have tried several of the LBS and only found a few that provided value. For instance I like Yelp because it has reviews to gauge the quality of the retailer as well as will search nearby locations for food or nightlife as well as link to directions. Some other LBS allow companies to offer specials but sometimes that requires additional promotions either on social networks, advertising or traditional store signage.

When Facebook initially launched Places I thought it was very lacking of value.  All I could do was check in and there was not much value.  Now with the addition of real time specials and offers, Places has become a game changer.  Savvy retailers will flock to Facebook Places and an opportunity to put a special offer in front of a potential or returning customer in real time.  True that many social snobs, including myself, may snub Facebook and deplore their privacy issue, but we’re a small percentage of consumers.  The remaining 80-90% of users don’t care and will continue to use Facebook as their primary social network.  And now checking in on Facebook provides value by offering immediate financial savings. LBS service providers no doubt took note of this past weekends activities and are trying to figure out how to compete against the world’s largest social network.

An interesting statistic will be what the uptick in Gap’s sales were from the campaign. I would also be interested in other retailers seeing sales surge from Facebook places.

There have been some great posts on this campaign from local bloggers that I enjoyed reading that you should review:

  • Gap, Facebook Places Jeans Giveaway: What We Learned From Early Location-Based Promotion, NeoModern Man
  • Gap Logo: Crap or Oh Snap Marketing, Naoshi Yamauchi
  • Social Media Makes Logos More Important, Brand Aperture
  • Foursquare is F#*&ed, The Anti-Social Media