Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

28 February 2008

You Go, Googirl

Photo credit: ValleyWag

From a profile of Google's most visible engineering it-girl, courtesy of Battelle (via Benj):
At heart, the driving force behind Mayer’s personal interests is not all that different from what motivates her most ambitious projects at Google: She likes to create things that make people—“the end user,” in her words—happy. In fact, one of her biggest projects may be the stylish overhaul of the one Google feature that’s come to represent the company’s keep-it-simple philosophy: its home page.
Here's a funny passage about Google in the early stages:
At around 11 a.m. [on her second day at Google], Mayer went into the company kitchen for a snack. Peering into the fridge, she sensed she wasn’t alone. She turned around and saw Page standing in a small nook. Startled, she asked what he was doing. “I’m hiding,” he said. “The site is down. It’s all gone horribly awry.”

She made it home that night at around 3 a.m., typical for the hours she would keep. As she climbed into bed, she thought, “It’s not exactly confidence building to see the CEO hiding in the kitchen, saying everything has gone horribly awry.” She gave the company a 2 percent chance of succeeding.

27 February 2008

Contemplating the Starbucks Sebatacle

Yesterday all corporate-owned Starbucks shut doors from 5:30 to 9pm for emergency barista training.

During the 'bucks blackout, competitors leapfrogged each other to deliver discount specialty drinks. Some, like Dunkin' Donuts, went all $0.99. Others, like Biggby Coffee and Coffee Klatch, gave cups away.

I'm reminded of an ad icon who felt great brands were never built on the lean backs of discounts. It lends the sense that your only means of differentiation is your cost. Discerning users in your market -- and if they stick around long enough, they all become discerning -- might take advantage of your discount once or twice, but over time they'll start veering away from you.

Nobody professes loyalty to a five-and-dime.

I'm prattling on about this discount/differentiation thing because Ken Wheaton at Ad Age thinks the 'bucks blackout served two major purposes (neither of which had to do with turning baristas into sages):
  • Proving Schultz means business about a dramatic company overhaul
  • Generating serious press
And not just one-hit wonder press either. When all 7100 of the biggest coffee chain's stores close to "improve the quality of its baristas," guess what message reverberates across the pond?

Starbucks isn't about cost. It's about quality. It's about you.

I used to be a Starbucks barista, back before baristas talked crap about customers in front of you and stole merch after hours. Corporate was downright dramatic about instilling a sense of sanctity in what we do for people. I totally drank the Kool-Aid.

Sometimes I miss the days when I stank of Breakfast Blend but was able to sincerely call SBUX my "third place."

Schultz, if you bring your little green empire back to basics -- serving samples out of a French press, learning the names of regulars, and making even non-purchasing loiterers feel welcome -- I honestly think you guys can bring the fire back.

You've always had the magic formula. Surprise, surprise! It wasn't breakfast sandwiches or copies of The Kite Runner. Just stop with this too-big-for-the-little-things nonsense.

25 February 2008

Rest Easy, Paul Tilley

I think it's dumb that people are blaming bloggers like Agency Spy and Adscam for the death of DDB's Paul Tilley.

Assuming Tilley killed himself, people don't just take their lives because their feelings get bruised a few times. It's something they mull over for months, sometimes years. And a whole constellation of personal problems factor in.

Paul Tilley had a long successful career that aspiring CDs would kill to have. And blaming his death on bloggers is stupid and irresponsible.

I didn't think Tilley's "get your shit together!" memo was all that bad, but pointing fingers at people who covered it can only hurt the industry at large. Are agency watchdogs supposed to suppress their thoughts about professional behaviour out of concern somebody's going to take things too personally? That's the worst kind of extortion, and it's not a burden anyone should be forced to carry.

You need tough skin to walk out into the world and make a mark; universal approval is a gift nobody gets. Not Carnegie, not Jesus, not Elvis, not Bob Garfield, not Tilley.

Your detractors -- of which there'll be many, the more visible you get -- can't take your will to live from you.

22 February 2008

Way Better than 'Escapades'

"At first sight," wrote David Ogilvy in his autobiography, "the Amish give an impression of rather forbidding austerity, but I have never known people so addicted to high-jinks."

"Hijinks" is a great word.

You can attach it to any mundane task -- Sarah's trash-handling hijinks! Jessie's table-setting hijinks! -- and all of a sudden it's like monkeys did it.

Or you can use it alone, like Ogilvy did:

Last night, said Bill, hijinks happened. Hilarity ensued!

19 February 2008

Your Virgin Voyage Into Advertising!

I.AM High?

Way to baptize the new. The talented ones will be knocking our doors down now!

Check out the program website. To enroll your own bright-eyed bitty (which may potentially constitute a form of child abuse), email I.AM.highschool [at] gmail [dot] com.

15 February 2008

It is Not Your Friend.

See Bank of America.

See Bank of America wig out in the face of economic meltdown.

See Bank of America punish credit card holders* while niggling for one more hard, fast hit of green. (Naughty, naughty green.)

I got my "Important Amendment" letter two weeks ago. The verdict: a brand-new APR of over 19 percent.

After 5 years of on-time payments and happily-indebted loyalty! Come on.


* Via Candace.

14 February 2008

Whopper Freakout.

I realize how late I am to the ballpark, but I wanted it on record somewhere in the universe that I think Burger King's Whopper Freakout was clever and brave and just generally neato.

What, you mean you didn't know? Silly you. Get this:
  • For 24 hours, BK told customers the Whopper was discontinued.
  • For another 24 hours, BK slipped equivalent burgers from McD's or Wendy's into people's bags when they ordered Whoppers.
Both instances caused outrage, dramatic angst, and multiple instances of my favourite red-faced phrase, "I'd like to speak to your manager, please."

The "manager" is the King in full regalia, creepy plastic head and all. He comforts the moody, the hurt and the generally freaked-out with a Whopper on a tray.

And BK is validated -- on camera and all.

Read Robert Gorell's reasons why this is among the best TV and web campaigns EVAR (emphasis added by me).

13 February 2008

On Reprieve

When he was about 29 years old, Ogilvy visited Intercourse, an Amish town in Pennsylvania.

He fell in love with the people, the smell of fruit in the breeze and a community that followed its own course, no matter what the outside world insisted was the norm.

And it had outlasted many norms.

Following a few visits and the right real estate opportunity, Ogilvy and his wife moved in. He learned the quaint tongue, made friends and became a tobacco farmer.
His retreat into the simpler life totaled almost 10 years.

One day, after realizing he was physically unfit for farm life, he decided to leave the place he loved and start an ad agency. He had $6000, a few "gentlemen with brains" on hand, and a list of the top five companies he eventually wanted to service.

With time he nailed them all, in addition to numerous Departments of Tourism and the most robust American brands then and now. One of his biggest regrets was turning down the business -- and partial ownership -- of a small copy company called Xerox.

Small change in a big jar.

11 February 2008

Super Bowl Advertiser Website Traffic

Unless you're Bud Light, is $2.7M per :30 spot worth an avalanche of visitor hit-and-quits?

More data at MarketingCharts, which has been reporting on the aftermath of Super Bowl 2008 non-stop.

07 February 2008

Put Some Sex in that Cereal Bowl

Because no satin love nest is complete without riboflavin.

Can you say 1+1=US x FOREVER? Yeah, baby, yeah.

05 February 2008

Next Time I'm Bringing an Ambient Lamp

Sandwiched between months of tortured waffling and tax time, last week I finally exchanged my CA drivers license for a NY one.

Gripe the first: My whole name was too long by one letter, so the Assigned Bureaucrat shortened it to A, S, Natividad. I was not amused. The Bureaucrat, growing ever more uneasy with my presence, said if I don't like it I can change my name.

"CHANGE my NAME," I sputtered to Benj in the retelling.

"Couldn't they have put in your first name and middle initial?" said Benj. "That's what they did with me." He showed me his drivers license as proof.

It seemed reasonable. Too reasonable. My brain shut down. "I don't ... KNOW," I said before devolving into a combusting mass of hot goo.

Gripe the second: The new picture is jarring compared to what I'm used to seeing. To start, my cherubic 16-year-old face isn't smiling back at me. For another thing...

"I don't like the eyebrows," I said. "And I have refugee hair."

"What's refugee hair?"

"It's this look that says I hacked my hair off with a dagger in a rush so I could pose as a man to sneak out of the country."

Benj gave me that you-are-so-not-a-team-player look, and life went on as usual.

04 February 2008

Aw ... a Search Engine Catfight

Yesterday, when saner people were making pigskin pigs-in-a-blanket for their Super Bowl fĂȘtes, Google published a punchy blog post about how Microsoft is trying to monopolize the internet with its Yahoo bid. (Can you hear the subtle "Mommy, mommy, look what he's doing!"?)

Microsoft, ever the down-to-your-leveler, went, "Well, YOU HIT ME FIRST!" Or something. (MarketingVOX summarizes both nicely.)

And soon -- really, too soon -- after all that, ZDNet let loose about what it calls Google's "Let's annoy Microsoft" campaign. Word is Google reached out to Yahoo after Microsoft made the indecent proposal on Friday.

This intensifying shoving match is just one more reason why solving problems over rock-paper-scissors never gets old.

01 February 2008

MarketingVOX: On Doing the Facebook Thing

Today MarketingVOX officially joined Facebook.

As a business, particularly one that disseminates marketing news (a totally hype-oriented industry), I don't generally like doing the bandwagon thing ("Friend me on MySpace, guys! And I will love you to DEATH if you stick me on TOP 8").

Unless there's good reason. And -- work with me here -- I think there are good reasons to cultivate an industry news presence on Facebook.

Consider the existing benefits of logging into Facebook:
  • Finger-on-pulse access to a large, mostly university-educated demographic (Stalker Feed, anyone?)
  • The cultivated inclusion of products in the Facebook business model. It's possible to maintain a general sense of what people are into (including their feelings about your brand) by observing what brands they connect with -- and finding out why.
  • An insider's glance on stories and memes circling professional and university spheres. (It's always interesting to see where they intersect.)
As a college student I wasted a lot of time on Facebook. As a professional, I still waste a lot of time on Facebook. Cognizant of its creepy magnetism, I watched with sadistic glee when Facebook expanded its network to the common man. Marketers and ad executives poured in from the furthest reaches of the universe, eager to get a ground-floor clue on the coveted co-ed demo.

What actually happened? They friended every person they've ever met, uploaded a zillion photos of themselves sipping wine and walking their dogs, and update their status 20 times a day.

But this is good. We now have a one-stop professional diaspora of people actively sharing information, promoting their podcasts and bitin' chumps.

The part of me that likes to rationalize time-wasting has convinced me Facebook is useful, and will only become more useful as the userbase grows and people share more information. John Battelle once said Google contains the database of our intentions. In a way, Facebook does too.

We put MarketingVOX on Facebook because we think it will give marketing professionals one more positive incentive to log in and connect with each other. In addition to marketing news, industry stats and that thing called "marketing culture" (stories about how marketing affects real people), we'll update the site with useful charts and spiffy apps (some of which we're now developing, most of which we're still thinking up).

I look forward to seeing what headlines catch the viral bug.

If any of this is useful to you, check out the page and become a fan. Questions? Comments? Input? I'm listening (obsessively).