Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2007

Is Wal-Mart Really Turning Green?

I have watched the plentiful news coverage about Wal-Mart’s green turn and read many opinions both skeptical and convinced. Until now I have withheld judgment.

Talk, after all, (mine included) is cheap.

But it seems increasingly clear that Wal-Mart is not…as the doubters say… just ‘greenwashing’.

How did I come to this conclusion?

Well I read a number of feature stories in the American business press, for one. And one of the common threads is that Wal-Mart has discovered that by trimming packaging, excising unnecessary waste, and maximizing energy costs they are saving tens of millions every year.

Wal-Mart’s unique business proposition is that they are the low price leader and their margins are razor-thin. “A penny saved is a penny earned,” the saying goes. And that’s truer for Wal-Mart than, say, Rolls Royce.

To its bones, Wal-Mart is a cost-cutter.

But I also keep coming across marketing efforts... ironically enough... that evidence Wal-Mart is serious in its greening.

Above is a page from …

Mele Kalikimaka

Every Christmas for at least the last 10 years Late Night with David Letterman has featured the incomparable Darlene Love singing the rockingness Christmas Song ever, 'Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.'That is until this year when the writer's strike has grounded new shows.So here from the YouTube vault is Ms. Love's year 2000 performance with the Singing Sergeants of the United States Air Force.The video quality is poor and the music and video are out of synch. But Darlene Love never disappoints.Enjoy!And Merry Christmas.

Word of Mouth Marketing Part II

As far as the marketing mainstream is concerned, the price for launching a new consumer brand in the United States starts around $100 million.

Speaking only for myself, that's a little out-of-reach.

But in his book Word of Mouth Marketing Andy Sernovitz says there's ways to build a respected brand for less.

In this post I discuss his five Ts of word of mouth marketing and the challenge of The Chocolate Problem.

Lastly, my apologies to Sernovitz and to you, because I misspelled his name in my initial posting. Rest assured that I have fired the idiot who made the mistake.

Sernovitz cites five Ts in word of mouth marketing:
Find people who will talk. Bear in mind that talkers may not be customers and that if you try and buy their participation, you’ll almost certainly undermine their credibility as talkers.Give them a topic. And don’t make it in the marketing-speak of features and benefits. Nobody recites a brochure list of features and benefits when they pass on word of mouth.Give the…

Word of Mouth Marketing Part I

1. worthy of notice: worth noticing or commenting on
2. unusual: unusual or exceptional, and attracting attention because of this

The success of your next cause-related marketing campaign (and perhaps all your marketing efforts) may hang on this single adjective. That’s the word from Andy Sernovitz, author of the book Word of Mouth Marketing and founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

I caught Andy’s remarks at a speech he gave last night. What follows is the first part of my precis of his presentation. Part II follows on Thursday's post.

Word of mouth has been around forever and everyone knows how powerful it can be, for good and ill. But without an assist from the tenets of marketing, word of mouth by itself is like pasta without the sauce. That is, incomplete.

Propelling good word of mouth, Sernovitz says, has never been easier. Email and the social media amount to word of mouth particle accelerators, getting more from word of mouth than it could under it…

Charity Caveat Emptor

On Friday, a Federal judge in Minnesota sentenced Cameron Lewis, age 36, and his father Tyron Lewis, both of Monticello, Utah, to 17 and five years respectively for defrauding hundreds of school districts of nearly $40 million using a now-defunct charity called the National School Fitness Foundation (NSFF).

The fraud amounted to money laundering; a Ponzi scheme.

I know Cameron. Met him the first time over lunch at a Chinese restaurant along with several of his board members. I met with him subsequently several times. He has a certain charisma.

I mention this because a charity I once worked for came within a hair’s breadth of partnering with the NSFF.

That charity wasn’t defrauded by Lewis. But we did actually partner with Aaron Tonken, the Hollywood event planner and now convicted felon, who went to prison in 2003 for defrauding charities (as I recall) of $1.9 million. The charity I worked for lost $100,000 due to Tonken’s machinations, but later recovered the money in full.

I also met onc…

Cause-Related Marketing Potpourri

My email box has been filling up with releases from PR types about various campaigns. A handful are even about cause-related marketing!

Here then is a grab bag of worthy social marketing campaigns that don’t warrant their own posts, but are nonetheless worth mentioning.

Nov 19 was Luzianne Coffee’s “Non-Bitter Monday.” The event included trash pickups in five cities in Louisiana, and a $50,000 donation to be split among six charities: Make-A-Wish, Toys for Tots, Teach for America, Gulf Restoration Network, Habitat for Humanity, and America’s Wetland. The exact split is to be determined by votes collected at Voting ends March 31, 2008.

Reprise Media, a search engine marketing and optimization outfit out of New York City, and a division of Interpublic, has launched a pro bono initiative for nonprofits. Their first client is the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit think tank. Other nonprofits are invited to apply for Reprise’s SEM, SMM and SEO services at their web…

A Duck-Billed Platypus

The other day I got an email commenting on my nostalgic post last June about the old Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Telethon.

I spent seven years at CMN, five of the them writing the Telethon. In those days it was 21 hours of live TV that aired on more than 225 TV stations in the U.S. and Canada.

In effect, the person said, “alright smart guy, what would you do to return the CMN Telethon (now called Celebration) to its glory days?”

Let me be clear. The email didn’t come from anyone at Children's Miracle Network. And I'm not privy to what the management at CMN and the show’s producers have in mind for Celebration in the near or distant future.

Here’s how I responded: CMN needs to decide who the audience is for the Telethon (or who they want it to be). The whole time I wrote the telethon I never got a straight answer to that question. When I left, the Telethon was loaded up with male professional athletes. They were great for the sponsors. But were athletes more likely to get the p…

Cause-Related Marketing for the Beautiful People

H.L. Mencken, the legendary cynic, wrote, “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Recently James Surowiecki, in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds” says that’s probably false of Americans (or any group in the aggregate).

However, notwithstanding that, I do believe there’s a corollary that holds up very well: “you’ll make a mint catering to people who feel like outsiders.” Witness the success of the Harry Potter books and movies, for instance.

And so it’s with mixed feelings that I review this campaign from the website, part fashion magazine and part catalog, supports Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC), a fundraising campaign of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Foundation.

There are also FTBC organizations in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Greece, Japan, Canada, and Portugal orgainized under different auspices. Since 1994, FTBC has raised more than $40 for breast cancer charities in 13 countries, the ad inf…