Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The things we email.

One of my favorite kernels of information is the list of most emailed articles at nytimes.com. I'm not about to claim that analyzing the tendencies of the typical Times reader is like getting research straight from Peoria, but this list offers interesting insights nonetheless, especially when it's reviewed on a regular basis. In fact, I think it can help marketers remind themselves that their customers are honest-to-goodness people who are interested in most things for very human reasons.

Here's the list of the most emailed articles right now:

1) Exploring Tuscany's Lost Corner
2) From the 'Dog Whisperer,' a Howl of Triumph
3) For the Families of the Dying, Coaching as the Hours Wane
4) The Dixie Chicks: America Catches Up With Them
5) Clintons Balance Married and Public Lives
6) What Is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years?
7) Expanding on Jefferson
8) Home on the Range: A Corridor for Wildlife
9) Vast Data Cache About Veterans Is Stolen
10) A Desperate Rush to Save a Derby-Winning Colt

And my analysis:

1) We all loathe the thought of spending a vacation in a place that's overrun by other tourists. So cheesy and pedestrian. And no one cares about your stories when you get back because they've already been there. Humans love discovery.
2) Most people really love dogs.
3) We never get used to loss. We all want help or know someone who needs it.
4) Some love 'em. Some hate 'em. Polarizing people do get attention. So do polarizing brands.
5) Some love 'em. Some hate 'em. We're all still fascinated by what they do and how they stay married.
6) Proof that people still read books, love books and want to discuss books. Probably passed around by every member of a neighborhood book club.
7) Not every powerful American celebrity is in Hollywood. Many people are as sick and tired of Paris Hilton as you are.
8) We all want to escape the rat race. Until we actually do. Then we get bored and wonder where all the good restaurants are. Better to just read about it.
9) Identity theft freaks out everyone.
10) Animals have a curious pull on us. Who didn't cry when Old Yeller died?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Reposition this.

It looks like domestic crap beer makers are once again touting the repositioning of their brands. Gosh, there's nothing I like quite as much as a good old beer brand reposition. For the big brewers, this is an annual event. It's a wonder there isn't a trade show to go along with it.

I'd love to see some numbers on the repositions. I'll bet the success rate is about 1-in-5000. There is some rich stuff in this New York Times non-story about the big three brewers reaching out to older, more affluent types. I personally love the research that indicates Miller Genuine Draft appeals to men and women who know how to cook, want to own homes and entertain friends, and may not choose a night on the town all the time. Yes, that narrows it down. Watch that MGD fly right off the shelves and into those homes.

(There's also an amazing quote from Coors spokesperson Kabira Hatland that is breathtaking in its banality. Make sure you don't miss it. It sets new standards for stating the glaringly obvious.)

To be fair, the advertising for Miller Genuine Draft sounds decent. Which, unfortunately, only serves to point out the larger problem. New ad campaigns with the same actual product story rarely convince – they just send the B.S. meter into the red zone. (Of course, they do allow marketers to fire the hapless ad agency when sales don't improve. At least they're good for that.)

Fact is, communications can't reposition a brand anymore. People are too smart, too informed and have too many alternatives. A product needs to have some real surgery. Change the damn formula. Extend the brand somewhere unexpected. Find a new distribution channel. Something, dammit, before you start spouting off about repositioning with a new ad campaign.

Talk, as always, is cheap.