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Demographics vs. ethnographics: a marketing minefield

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.10.13 AMOne of the most volatile issues facing American marketers today may be demographic, targeted marketing. This is particularly so when it comes to segmentation that picks out certain “ideal” groups as potentially good customers, while ignoring others as lousy ones.

It seems innocuous enough on its surface. A TV spot for a diabetes drug might feature black actors. Why? Studies show that minorities have a higher prevalence of diabetes than whites, and some minorities have higher rates of diabetes-related complications and death. It’s not that other spots don’t feature whites; it’s that minorities can be considered an especially appropriate demographic for a particular drug, and thus are targeted by marketers.

Here’s something similar that’s a bit less clear, a bit more problematic: The maker of Kool menthol cigarettes specifically targets the black demographic, tying its product image to a hip and sophisticated lifestyle. Newport and Salem, other mentholated brands, similarly orient their advertising disproportionately to blacks, and the response has been overwhelming: 80% of adolescent African-American smokers use menthol cigarettes.

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Content Marketing Is Doomed! (Or, Why Las Vegas Cookery Isn’t All that Good Anyway)

(This blog post originally was published by PointClear)
Thanks to a LinkedIn post by Howie Sholkin, former IDG communications guru, I was directed to a sprightly 
Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 2.51.16 PMMediapost essay titled, “Why content marketing probably won’t work for you.” Authored by Tom Goodwin, founder of the U.K. agency Tomorrow, the post asserts that content marketing is “a totally doomed area.” “Content marketing is like setting up a small food stand in the middle of a Las Vegas eat-as-much-as-you-can buffet, to an audience that’s just eaten. And one that happens to have the world’s finest chefs serving their best dishes for free, while the top fast-food joints do the same,” Goodwin asserts.

I think Goodwin’s reasoning offers a gloss of logic which (like a lot of other smart, short-form Internet writing) overlooks several key points. Read more…

N.Y. City Councilman Peter Vallone on social marketing tricksters

Me: Those who have followed Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the Mid-Atlantic states, and in particular New York and New Jersey, may be aware of the controversy over false Photoshopped photos and misleading social commentary. At least one trickster posted alarmist tweets he knew were false—that, for example, the New York Stock Exchange was flooded, Gov.  Cuomo was trapped in the city, and that all electricity to New York City was shut off.

The posts, apparently just a prank, were  picked up and spread by news outlets, alarming citizens already fearful for their lives. And they may now place the trickster behind bars.

On Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, I chatted with New York City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. (photo right) on the topic. Vallone, who chairs our city’s Public Safety Committee, said that New York State law marks it as a crime to intentionally distribute false information, about “a crime, catastrophe or emergency” that might result in “public alarm or inconvenience.”

A fuller story in context will run on Nov. 7 in BtoB’s “Social Media Marketer” newsletter, which of necessity edits down Vallone’s comments. But I felt his views in full are interesting enough to post in their entirety. I’m all for free speech. In fact, I founded and was the first president of the Florida Coalition Against Censorship during the Reagen years, when I lived and worked in Miami, when censorship over adult reading materials and images was running rampant.

However, Vallone makes good points about social responsibility that seems to accommodate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression. I’ll let you decide.

Vallone: I think this storm showed how great social media can be in illustrating potential problems. So many people out there (during the storm) got good information from social, but unfortunately morons like this guy were scaring people. The problem is, he actually tweeted a lot of legitimate stuff in between the fake stuff.

This is one of the first times we have seen social media used like this, and we need, unfortunately, to take some measures you’d hope would not be necessary. I have absolutely talked to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, and they are taking this very seriously. Right now, they have no electricity, but we will continue to discuss this.

Even the First Amendment has its limitations. It happens few and far between, but yes, yelling fire in a crowded theater can be a crime. And with social media, the theater has gotten much larger.

There is a specific crime here, cited in New York State Penal Code Article 240.50 (“Falsely reporting an incident in the third degree”). We have to tread lightly to not infringe on free speech, but this person tweeted many times, and we don’t see any other information that he could have relied on. It wasn’t just one mistake. It was an attempt to mislead people.

I’m a former prosecutor for six years in Manhattan, and currently chairman of the Public Safety Committee of the New York City Council. When it comes to this, I am very serious and have a background in this area.

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Me: It will be interesting to see how this case proceeds, and if the D.A. feels a crime has been committed. Meanwhile, as we put our lives and livelihoods back together after the storm, it may be worth thinking a bit about how this new phenomenon, social media, can be a force for both good and ill.

An appreciation of the 1948 film “Anna Karenina”

November 1, 2011 1 comment

There’s something about this film that’s a perfect embodiment of love, suffering, redemption and
self-abnegation, of wrong choices, of regrets. Of resignation. What does it have to do with marketing and stoicism? There is no need to ask. There is only the need to watch, observe and feel. Ah hell, do I have to be consistent?

OK. Let’s all take a deep breath and think about this for a moment:  As to the flaws in the film, yes, it’s a murky transfer and shame on them!  Further, the “features” which modern DVDs  lard their releases with are laughable … a little bio of Leigh, a cast list, no interviews, no nothing. So much for extras.

That leaves us with this film and its accouterments … writing, filming, editing, and acting. First, it’s a masterful reduction of the whole novel, minus the lengthy disquisitions on Christian apologetics which Tolstoy larded on the original, and the postscript after Anna’s death. Anna in all her trembling glory is here, together with Dolly, her sister in law (so contrasting, because Anna helped put Dolly’s marriage back together, only to see her own fall apart); and Kitty, who was saved from the indifference of Vronsky and later who recognized the constancy of Levin (another solid marriage, in contrast with Anna’s own).

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Social gems: More new tools for managing social marketing

Not a day goes by, it seems, without the announcement of a new tool or approach that advances (complicates? confuses?) the ability of marketers to monitor and manage their social marketing campaigns. In an earlier issue of Social Media Marketer, I profiled several, and there were some real gems in the bunch. Here are more that may be worth your attention:

• Buffer. Is it better to group your tweets all together or schedule them to be sent throughout the day? A quick glance at Twitter posts coming your way shows that people have different views on the clump-versus-scheduled approaches. For those in the latter camp, Buffer allows you to load your tweets and have them released sequentially throughout the day or week. With this feature, Buffer is not terribly different than Hootsuite, SocialOomph or TweetDeck.

Read more…

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