Monthly Archives: May 2006

Product Placement is HOOOGE

DONALD TRUMP: (reading off cue cards)
“The product placement industry is Hooooge. It’s an $8 bajillion dollar a year industry. And I should know. People pay plenty to have their products placed on my show “The Apprentice” which is the #1 show of all time…beating out all Super Bowls and the series finale of M*A*S*H. “

Not quite.

AdJab alerts us to a MediaPost story about the falling value of the product integration placements in “The Apprentice”. The price is down to between $1 and 1.5 million from a high of $3 million.

Product placement can either be a fabulous success or a very dangerous marketing move. It depends on how well you can integrate and control your product’s image in the entertainment.

Take the example of “The Apprentice”….
–Expect one of the teams to totally decimate the product’s brand image during the course of the show.
–Company executives who are featured as a part of the product’s integration come off as either unexciting or wierd.
–It’s a craps shoot. The episode that your product is featured could come during and very exciting point in the season…or it could be a dog. And there’s no way to know when you place the buy.

Product placement inside of entertainment vehicles is where alot of ad dollars have moved. I also think we can expect more money to be spent on advertainment in the future. But in order for it to be successful, we’ll have to get over product placement’s big problem. There’s currently a certain feeling of fakeness with the placement. The ad is not being inserted into the entertainment. The entertainment is being created AROUND the ad. Consumers pick up on this both on a conscience and sub-conscience level. The worst offenders are “The Apprentice” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (a.k.a – “Ty’s weekly trip to Sears”)


Look! It’s Chris.

Most of my marketing speaking engagements are private affairs. If I invited you, the organizers/company probably wouldn’t be happy.

So that’s why I like to send out the alert when I’m doing something open to the public. Actually, there are two in the next few months…

1) Corporate / Business Blogs (Marketing as Conversation) is a topic built for companies who currently don’t blog and are not taking an active part in the blog conversation. It’s part blog-primer and part blog-evangelism.
I’ll be presenting it to the Professional Marketing Association in Bowling Green, KY at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday July 18. Please come. The program is free and you can have lunch for a nominal fee. Directions to the location and other info can be found on the PMA website.

2) I’ll be doing a webinar with HIPAA expert Kate Borten about HIPAA and Marketing on August 9th for HCpro. Lots of healthcare organizations are lost as to what they can and cannot do with marketing since the federal HIPAA regulations went into effect. Kate and I will try to show what marketing activities are allowed under HIPAA and give lots of useful ideas and info for healthcare marketing. HCpro does not have online registration for the webinar running yet, but I will post when they do.

These are the two upcoming spots on my calendar that are open to the public. There are also several private events ranging from the seminar, Advertising101…all the way to my main keynote, Big Picture Marketing. There are still open spots on the calendar. If you need an affordable and engaging marketing speaker who can speak to groups who know nothing about marketing equally well as a room full of marketing experts, please visit my website.


Who’s in Charge Here?

Two stories…see which one you recognize….

(Story #1)
So a guy walks into the doctor’s office to have some pre-operative tests and to sign the waiver before his brain surgery next week….

“I’ve gone over your MRI several times. I plan on making the incision here. We’ll be inside the cranium for about 30 minutes. We’ve had our entire staff of neurologists go over this case and we expect a great result.”

“Well, I think you should make the incision under my chin. I can grow a beard to hide the scar that way.”

“I also want you cut the tumor out on the right side. I know the MRI says it’s on the left, but it’s my brain so I think I know.”

“30 minutes is too long to be inside my head. Can you do it in 20?”

“While you’re in there, I’d like you to take a little brain out on each side. My wife says she thinks my head’s getting too big for all my hats.”

“You’re the boss. Let’s do it that way.”

Crazy. Right? Never would happen. Try this story…

(Story #2)
Some owners and board members walk into the marketing department to “approve” the new ad campaign that’s rolling out next week…

“This campaign tests great with the target market. These print ads will run in these papers. We’re planning to pulse TV along with a summer radio promotion on these top rated Nielsen and Arbitron stations in these markets. We’ve also added an online element. Here’s the website. Overall, it’s an airtight – highly effective campaign. What do you think?

“Well, I like that weather guy on Channel 8’s news. He’s funny and I know everybody loves him…we need more commercials there.”

“Who’s that kid in the magazine ad? What are stock photos? Here, I’ve got a picture of my daughter in my wallet…just scan it in and stick her in it.”

“My wife and all her friends listen to LiteRock105…buy some commercials there.”

“Put some more words in the newspaper ad. It looks too empty”

“We need some pictures of the employees in the *adds.”
(*That’s how the person making this comment thinks it’s spelled.)

“I’ve been the owner of this company for 23 years so I know our customers. I don’t think we should run this ad. Customers won’t like it.”

“What’s a blog?”

“We’re spending how much on this? Can we do it for less?”

“You’re the boss. Let’s do it that way.”

One of these stories sounds crazy and the other happens EVERYDAY. If you’ve got a marketing staff or a marketing consultant who knows what they’re doing…
Let. Them. Do. It.

Related post: Marketing by Committee


They must think we’re un-stupid

7-Up (*the uncola) has reformulated the soft drink and unleashed a new ad campaign. This move comes after 7-Up apparently figured out that “that other guy who kinda looks like Orlando” was never going to replace Orlando Jones and that the phrase “Up Yours” is not the best way to sell a consumable product.

The gist of this new formulation is that 7-Up is “100% natural”. The ad campaign contains lots of shots of oranges, limes, lemons, and any other citrus fruit/generic FL citrus grove shot they can squeeze in The citrus-infused-Flash-enabled nightmare that is the 7-Up Website has the TV spots you can watch along with the following pitch:

Now you have even more of a reason to enjoy the crisp, clean, refreshing lemon-lime taste of 7UP, because 7UP is now 100% natural. 7UP has been stripped of artificial ingredients and preservatives. What’s left is the clean, crisp taste of 7UP – but even better because it’s 100% natural. As always, 7UP has no caffeine. Just five simple, 100% natural ingredients. Peel one open today and try for yourself. (emphasis added)

Now consider this:
–On the back of the can, there is the disclaimer: CONTAINS NO JUICE.
–This is the complete ingredients list: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate.

Ponder this paradox while I run down to the health food store and pick up some High Fructose Corn Syrup.

This move by 7-Up sums up everything that’s wrong with marketing today. The idea was contrived in some boardroom-retreat-brainstorming-committee-R&D-group-hug. They convinced themselves that it was a good idea and rolled the ads out. It shows a total disconnect from reality to spend millions of dollars to convince people of something that makes absolutely no common sense. Just because you say something in a “rebranding” ad DOES NOT make it real.

It’s always been important…but even more important now that you have an HONEST conversation with your market if you’re going to be successful with marketing. People can detect BS…and blatant BS like this is the EXACT reason traditional advertising is no longer as effective as it was. People are tired of it and they tune it out.

This 7UP campaign reminds me of when KFC tried to convince us back in 2003 that Fried Chicken was health food. That flopped and I predict this will too.


7UP-DATE (Ha!) – Jon asks in the comments if the info I provide about the ingredients and the “no juice” disclaimer comes from a new or old can and about some legal issues.

Sadly, the info is actually from the new “natural” can. It looks like if marketing was too stupid to catch these problems…maybe the legal dogs would have. But alas, no.

Also since posting this originally…I have discovered that The Center for Science in the Public Interest may be filing a lawsuit over these (un)natural claims.

Brilliant Marketeer

Flattery will get you everywhere….especially with viral video. This email and link made my Monday morning.

Shotgun Marketing Blog Reader Howard Mann sends the following email….

Hi Chris,

I’m a big fan of your blog. Your latest post “4 8 15 16 23 42” shared a similar theme to a project we launched just last week so I thought you would get a kick out of it. It’s an animated movie/song called “The Brilliant Marketeer”. The twist is that the star of the movie comes from a picture the viewer uploads.

So.. Here it is using the pic from your blog. Presenting Chris Houchens, The Brilliant Marketeer –

Hope you enjoy and thanks again for sharing your thoughts and ideas through your blog. Best regards, Howard

I’ve got some weird hair in the video, my voice is a little high-pitched, and I seem to have lost some weight….but this is fabulous.

The cool thing (other than being in the video) is the theme that Howard picked up in my 4 8 15 16 23 42 post about the decline of traditional media and RELEVANCE of ad messages. Marketers are going to have to start using these new tools of marketing. If you’re a marketer who is Web2.0, you should definitely make your own Brilliant Marketeer video and include in your online resume.


4 8 15 16 23 42

TV commercials are 99% pathetic. For the most part, they’re boring. And the most horrific part…they don’t sell anything.

No wonder TV ads are losing effectiveness….and watchers prefer TiVo….and companies are doing evil things like this.

The secret is to make people want to watch the commercial breaks. ABC did a great job with this on Wednesday night with a fake commercial for the Hanso Foundation. Many LOST fanatics who are Tivo users missed the spot. I bet they will now start watching the commerical breaks with the same intensity that they watch the show.

It’s not about the offer. It’s not about cool creative. It’s about making your message RELEVANT to the people you’re talking to.


Marketing Mayday

Back in the day…when I was an “on-air personality” in the radio business, May 1st was an odd day. Legally, you could never say “It’s May Day” while you were on the air. You were on an open frequency on public airwaves and saying Mayday would technically be sending a false distress signal. Of course, being a wild rebel and such, I would always let a Mayday slip out. But oddly, no one out in Hitland even sent a rescue party for me.

The trouble with all Maydays and other forms of asking for help is people either
a) don’t ask for help at all
b) wait until it’s too late to ask for help.

I had several conversations with a couple of people over the weekend about bad marketing. There’s a lot of it out there. Some of it comes from large corporations who should know better. But most of it comes from honest small to medium-sized businesses who are trying their best. As I work with clients and speak to audiences, I see a few top reasons for misplaced marketing.
—Marketing salespeople masquerading as “marketing consultants”.
Marketing by Committee
—Improper use and understanding of brand strategy and branding.

But the biggest marketing hurdle for most of these organizations is the lack of marketing knowledge and resources.

These businesses spend a large percentage of thier operating budget for marketing but don’t get good ROI because they aren’t using those marketing dollars effectively. They’re in over their heads and lose faith in the effectiveness of marketing.

Maybe this describes your organization. Maybe you should use May 1st to declare a Marketing Mayday. Read a book. Read a blog. Get someone who knows what they’re doing to help you. This path to increase your marketing knowledge and resources in discussed in this free marketing e-book that I wrote. Just do something different.

Start the turnaround. Declare a Marketing Mayday today.