The Organic Marketer


What color is yours?

Facebook status update: "Covered in coins"

The irony of Facebook’s latest meme — “what color is your bra (in [supposed] support of breast cancer awareness)?” — is that the entire thing was more or less a scam. Not scam as in a bad thing. No, it may have caused more than a few million Facebook members to collectively scratch their heads and say “huh?” when Facebook Friend after friend posted “pink” or “nude” or (may favorite) “commando.”

Many attributed the rush to update your Facebook status with your current color on soliciting e-mails sent from any number of breast cancer awareness and support groups. In fact, the Susan G. Komen Foundation was an oft cited group responsible for the event, though John Hammarley, spokesperson for the Foundation told the Washington Post, “It would be nice to claim credit for this, but we really have done nothing.”

While it was amusing for a number of hours to imagine the variety of colors bras could come in, there was at least one upside. The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Facebook group went from 135 fans on Friday morning to more than 145,000 as of the date of this blog posting.

Not everyone saw the benefit of a harmless exercise that may have been someone’s creative brainchild showing simply the power of social networks and a short attention span. NPR’s Shereen Meraji, exclaimed “I changed my status, but I don’t know anything more about breast cancer or how to protect myself against it. Is this another example of ‘slacktivism,’ virtual activism with no real results.”

No matter what your opinion, as one popular blogger said of the subject “Facebook users sure got an eyeful this week.”

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Special Olympics Targets “SM” in New Campaign

Ads were designed by BBDO New York to challenge the public with language meant to be controversial. Slurs against ethnic groups points out how language can be harmful to all groups, including those with intellectual disabilities.

Ads were designed by BBDO New York to challenge the public with language meant to be controversial. Slurs against ethnic groups points out how language can be harmful to all groups, including those with intellectual disabilities.

This past March 31st was a significant day for the Special Olympics, not only as the launch of their national campaign, “Spread the Word to End the Word,” but also in the way they’ve embraced social media to inform the public, attract and retain supporters and spur on advocates to spread the word (the right one, that is!) and gain even more followers.

For those don’t know what “the word” refers to, it’s “retard,” the demeaning slang that refers to those afflicted that we now tend to term being mentally challenged or with intellectual disabilities.

The Special Olympics has been battling aggressively since last August when the movie, “Tropic Thunder,” caused controversy with its comedic use of the word. President Obama didn’t help matters when, on a recent appearance on Jay Leno’s TV show, he inadvertently brought the issue to light by stating that his poor bowling skills were “like the Special Olympics or something.”

According to a recent Chicago Tribune story, recent efforts to quash this term stemmed from a youth summit held at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Idaho this past February. Kirsten Seckler, spokeswoman for Special Olympics, said the idea for the “spread the word to end the word” campaign was wholly the work of kids — with disabilities and without — who were at the games.

Since then, BBDO New York has done excellent pro bono work to establish the campaign’s messaging and provide creative direction. Andrew Robertson, president and chief executive at BBDO Worldwide, has been on the board of the Special Olympics for five years. According to Robertson, the campaign was targeted to older teenagers in high school and early college and devised to be provocative enough to “jolt them into thinking, or rethinking, how hurtful the use of the word is.”

While the Special Olympics has used the traditional promotional methods you might expect, such as print ads (mostly targeting high school- and college-aged students), t-shirts, buttons and stickers, the most intriguing — and undeniably effective — efforts have come from the use of online social marketing and viral distribution strategies.

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Who’s Stealing (or Stole) Your Brand?

Came across a neat little web site this evening, namechk.com. Actually, I was invited on Facebook to become a Fan of the Facebook Page for namechk. So, being the curious type (and wondering why 55 others before me found this web site to be intriguing enough to become Fans), I checked (!) it out and was delighted to see a web site that would allow me to automatically see if my selected “name” (think: brand) was available on the ever-growing list of social networking and media web sites.

Periodic visits to namechk.com can help you to know where you might have some exposure problems with your brand names.

Periodic visits to namechk.com can help you to know where you might have some exposure problems with your brand names.

Now, when it comes to personal branding, I tend to be from the school that says if your name is simple enough to remember, why mess with a good thing and try to come up with some clever marque. Hey, it worked for Ben and Jerry.

So, a simple search of my nom préfère, “jimtome,” came up with a bewildering number of web sites where this name is still untaken. Which begs the question, what are you doing about protecting your brand online?

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Why Copywriters are Worth More Than the Creative Director

Ah, that Seth Godin. While I don’t always agree with him (his recent blog about corporate brands invading social media like Twitter and Facebook seems misinformed — I’ve seen excellent results using these channels with some of my clients), he did have one posting about the value of smart marketing, or rather, copywriting.

He was correct to say that most advertising messages (in this case, a banner outside a new coffee house proclaiming, “Unlike Any Coffee You’ve Ever Tasted Before”) seems to be clumsily obvious and redundant (I love his questioning of the leading capitals for each word!). His elegant analysis and breakdown of the headline into the much more effective “FREE TASTE TEST Are we better than Starbucks?” is a statement about how visual layout and typography can’t make up for a lame message.

The lesson to be learned? As a client, look forward to the visual concepts, but realize that lowly Microsoft Word document forwarded from your agency’s copywriter is the most critical e-mail you should pay attention to.

Last Rites for Web 2.0? Quite the Contrary.

I read an interesting article this morning that was based on an interview with Clark Kokich, CEO of Razorfish, what might best be described as a new media integration agency. At the heart of the article was the need for innovation as we travel the path from familiarization and utilization of common Web 2.0 tools to the somewhat nebulous and uncertain world of Web 3.0.

Almost everyone knows at least the components of Web 2.0 — blogs, social networking, etc. — even if they aren’t familiar with the term. Indeed, defining Web 3.0, even according to Wikipedia, is difficult since “the nature of defining Web 3.0 is highly speculative. In general it refers to aspects of the internet which, though potentially possible, are not technically or practically feasible at this time.”

In fact, many have said that while Web 2.0 is a moniker for the activities of the “mass of amateurs,” Web 3.0 refers more to distillation and concentration of expert advice and information, delivered to and accessed by consumers in an as yet, untold and undetermined manner.
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