If you squint a bit, you may be able to make out the details of this shabby snap from my Treo:

Once you’ve gathered that it’s (a small corner of) a bulletin board of some description, you may wonder who spilled their Easter egg paints all over it. You may think these pastels help categorize the content of the individual bulletins, allowing onlookers to sort at a glance. And the (in this photo illegible) headlines must be some important, standardized bit of content (event name or date) to distinguish items within those categories. And these notes, all of which come from the same source, are designed to match a standard template and information structure …
But I’d have to tell you, they don’t and they ain’t.
Well, it’s just a bulletin board, you may say — it’s not like the primary audience is folks with compromised, diminishing physical and mental facilities, right?
Alas, I’d reveal more disheartening news: this bulletin board — the visual equivalent of a shouting match — is the events calendar at my grandma’s senior home, where sucka fool bulletin boards be shoutin’ at my grandma.

Invention Mercantile

Brand Noise has a post about a “hot new idea shop” called Fahrenheit 212. The post links to a BusinessWeek article about the firm. From that article:

Clients think of the firm as a way to make long-shot bets without having to use their own research and development resources. “Samsung is a lean organization. We can’t afford to have people coming up with ideas that don’t work,” says Chief Marketing Officer Gregory Lee. “The people at Fahrenheit are very helpful because they are working on ideas that can fail–it allows you to experiment a bit.” What’s more, Fahrenheit ties much of its compensation to the success of the product, making it an even safer bet.

I think the focus on innovation that the marketplace has been entertaining for the last several years presages more and more of these kind of enterprises. Back when we were starting bigwidesky, my partner Mike told me of a survey of the clients of ad agencies he’d read in which the single biggest gripe was that the agencies weren’t bringing any powerful ideas. I, for one, am happy to sidle up and fill that hole with the most amazing ideas we can concoct. Clearly we’re not the only ones with this ambition.

Post-Modern Marketing Moments

A very accomplished, well-known and respected ad guy spoke in St. Louis on Friday. I was in the audience. He was singing the praises of the Mark Ecko/Air Force One stunt. I asked him if the inauthenticity of the stunt (ie. that wasn’t really Air Force One) might make peeps feel like they’d been had.
He responded to the effect that it wasn’t inauthentic because it fit the brand.

Continue, Change or Bail

I was disappointed to hear the lackluster results of an ad campaign I found to be clever, on target and different than other competitors. The ad was for a drug called Rozerem, a sleep aid by drug manufacturer Takada. The drug, despite $100 million ad spend ranks 6th in its category; far behind category leaders Ambien and Lunesta and even trailing two generic brands. Check out Brandweek’s full article for more details.
So now you have to ask the following: “Was the concept wrong? Was the message wrong? Is the product inferior to its competitors? Was its late entry into the category too big of an obstacle to overcome?” I can come up with a bunch more.
Without knowing all the details I have to speculate. I think the ads are well concepted and executed as previously stated. But perhaps the product is to blame. The article references that although the drug helps those with sleeping disorders fall asleep faster, they often wake up in the middle of the night. Perhaps they succeeded in capturing first time users but due to this shortcoming, those users didn’t refill their prescriptions and requested another brand. This combined with their late entry into the market could prove to be too big of an obstacle to overcome. And if this is true, and users aren’t repeating, the drug will die out in the next couple years. It would be nice to know what percentage of first time users refilled thier prescriptions and how that compares to industry standards.
This is where some consumer generated feedback, through a forum or blog would be very advantageous. Instead of speculating, they can gather ongoing feedback, both from consumes and perhaps even physicians. If what they learn is that the product is inferior, then guess what – cut your losses now and go back to the lab and improve the product. Put the money in R&D and save the money marketing the product as is. In my opinion, these kinds of web based tools need to be part of every campaign in some shape or form. The days of a well planned out campaign that would run for a couple years are over. You have to learn and adjust as you go.
Ah, the rules of marketing keep changing. Let’s see what happens to Rozerem over the next 24 months.