Wii Know Where You Live

Wii Remote JacketNintendo recently announced the Wii Remote Jacket, which will begin shipping with all remotes by mid-October, 2007. It is a silicone slip-cover which one cannot help but compare to a condom— especially the ridged tip. It is ugly, laughable, and will, according to some estimates, cost Nintendo 17 Million dollars. This is because they have decided to send up to 4 form-fitting sheaths directly to your door for absolutely nothing. Not even shipping costs.

According to GoNintendo, George Harrison, Sr. VP of Marketing Nintendo America had this to say about the Wii Remote rubber:

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our products and make sure everyone has a safe and fun experience. Many electronics manufacturers provide similar protective covers for [their] products.”

*COUGH*

Everyone is talking about how stupid this is, or how generous (depending on your reaction to it), but no-one has really speculated what’s in it for Nintendo.

Free Wii Remote JacketWell, it’s a simple direct marketing technique. For just under $2 a console (assuming 9.3 Million have been sold worldwide) Nintendo gets your full name, address and postal code. This up-to-date list of user data will tell the Wii creators exactly where you live, which will allow them to speculate your age, your average income, and other socio-economic data that is readily available about your neighborhood.

Next they email you Christmas & holiday offers for new accessories, games, and products they ‘know’ you’ll enjoy. This time you’ll have to pay for it, but hey, you already know how to use their online ordering service now, don’t you?

Pot of Gold at the End of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”?

Radiohead In Rainbows Website

While the record industry continues to eat its own young by claiming in court that even the act of ripping a copy of a CD you already own is piracy, the mega-group Radiohead has cut the umbilical cord and is going it alone. No label; no music distributor; and even more brazen— no fixed cost per album.

Radiohead In Rainbows Pay What You Will

You can pre-order Radiohead’s new album, in rainbows, for as much or as little as you want to pay for it. Think about that for a second. They are offering it to a legion of fans for free. Or you can choose to place whatever value on it you wish. No Warner, or EMI, or Universal, or Capitol Records. Not even iTunes is invited to a slice of the pie. Just you, the consumer, the fan, faced with a rare honest choice: take it or pay for it. No really. It’s up to you.

Radiohead In Rainbows It’s Up To You Really

It will be available for download on October 10th, 2007. Or you can go all out and purchase the much cooler £40.00 ($80) ‘discbox’, which consists of enhanced CDs, extra tracks, vinyl, artwork and booklets. This will be shipped by December 3rd, but you will also get an invitation to download the digital formats in October. Word on the street is that discbox sales are out pacing the ‘pay what you will’ downloads.

Radiohead In Rainbows discbox

TIME writes that this may be another ‘death knell’ to the recording industry but RollingStone says Radiohead is still looking for a label to distribute a traditional CD version in 2008. (Remember, not everyone has a computer, an iPod, and a credit card.) Michael Arrington of TechCrunch weighs in to say that since the production costs of music distribution are next to zero, the rules of economics will push the price close to zero as well. There is a lively debate raging in his comments section on this topic.

Have albums become loss leaders? Is the real money in live concerts and merchandise? Prince thinks so. He gave away free copies of his new album Planet Earth in the July 15th edition of UK paper The Mail on Sunday. Columbia Records was so pissed off that they refused to distribute his album in England (the local HMVs had to stock the newspaper to appease customers). But when Prince subsequently announced 21 concert dates, they sold out immediately.

Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor has been giving away his latest album Year Zero in bits and pieces, even offering re-mixable multi-tracks for fans to create their own versions. NIN planted USB keys at their own concerts with high-res versions of videos and music that hadn’t been released yet, prompting DJs to ‘unofficially’ play new singles. Reznor has called his own record label “Greedy fucking assholes” and recently told fans in Australia to “steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealing.”

Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s lead singer, is slightly more diplomatic:

I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘Fuck you’ to this decaying business model. (TIME)

Radiohead In Rainbows New Record

As historic a moment as it is, Radiohead’s new venture has not yet proven itself a success. Will fans pay for the album? How much (I paid £5.00)? Will the digital download be a wide enough distribution? Will their servers be able to handle the traffic? Will fans flock to the inevitable concert tour? Will Radiohead continue to turn a profit on their talent? The answer is most likely yes, but it will be interesting to watch this new experiment unfold.

SIDENOTE: Since there is no album art for In Rainbows as of yet (October 10, 2007) I have created a Flickr group and a Facebook group for uploading, sharing, and eventually voting on user-generated covers.

Bacn Bits

UPDATE: Join the Bacn vs Spam facebook group and bring home your thoughts on bacn.

Bacn vs Spam

Bacn (pronounced bacon) is the term given to electronic messages which have been subscribed to and are therefore not unsolicited but are often unread by the recipient for a long period of time. Bacn is email you want but not right now. They differ from Spam (electronic) messages, in that they are not unsolicited and are not necessarily sent in bulk. Bacn messages can be thought of being more useful than spam messages.

No it’s not a typo, but it is a four-letter word. I wasn’t going to post about this, but a few things have changed my mind.

First: I found this great old picture of Pork Cuts at Gutenberg.org and just couldn’t resist modifying it.

Second: I’ve noticed a massive increase in the amount of mail I receive from all the social communities I’ve joined: Pownce, Twitter, Jaiku, Mashable, GetSatisfaction, Flickr, Facebook, even MySpace sometimes. It’s mail I want to read, just not right now. Arguably, it deserves its own term. I usually end up archiving this mail, then going to the ‘offending yet not-offending’ site and blazing through a bunch of notices and requests, then returning to whatever I was doing. Now I’m going to create a new tag/folder called bacn and flow all of these extraneous message into it.

Third: I’m always interested in the latest memes. Even meme’s I can’t stand. I tried to resist the word awesome in the 80s when all my friends started using it, but eventually caved on that one too. Still, it’s fun to see how fast and far these catchwords spread. In just a few days (6 as of this post) bacn has gone from a mention at PodCamp Pittsurgh on August 18th, 2007 to being featured by major news organizations. It is out of control in my feed-reading circles: wikipedia (being considered for deletion, so I’m not the only one questioning this term), boingboing, wired, the uk telegraph, the washington post, metafilter, and buzzfeed.

Bacn has it’s own bacn: official site, official shirt, twitter feed, and official video. Thanks to me it now has it’s own useless Facebook group as well (Bacn vs Spam)

TiNB (there is no box) marketing would suggest that coining the right new word can generate a LOT of attention, especially if it describes something geeks can identify with. Why geeks? Because they are prone to mass distribution: blogs, microblogs, social networks, and mobile messages. Which terms have you coined lately?

Will It Blend? Will It Sell?

Will It Blend iPhoneA few years ago I presented a forward thinking proposal to a very large company. In this proposal we explained how, if the company created compelling enough content, our ‘advertising’ could actually generate revenue, or at least help pay for itself. We were scoffed out of the room, and told that our thinking was incredibly naive.

I’ll never forget that presentation. It was terrifying and demoralizing to realized that one of the biggest companies in the world was SO far behind in their thinking that they risked never catching up to their future customers. They faced extinction by their own hand.

I was reminded of this presentation when I read in the WSJ that Blendtec has so far made (yes, MADE) $18,000 US on their home-grown marketing campaign, Will It Blend. They started with 50 bucks. How’s that for turning traditional marketing on its head? And did I mention they don’t have an ad agency?


The iPhone Will It Blend video has had well over 1 million views in its first 2 days!

Tom Dickson is my HomeboyCompanies (like Novell) are paying upwards of $5,000 for product placement or short infomercials in the Blendtec videos. Sometimes Tom Dickson (Chief Blender and CEO) sells the blended objects on ebay. At the time of this writing, the blended iPhone is going for $660 (more than the iPhone unblended!), but that also includes a blender, a DVD of their first 50 videos and an autographed “Tom Dickson is my Homeboy” T-Shirt (which are also for sale on their site).

Blendtec is about viral video revenue sharing, DVDs, T-Shirts, ebay, product placement, interviews on variety shows… and, oh yeah, blenders. The question that most marketing people ask is “Will it sell?” According to George Wright, the Marketing Director/Genius behind the Will It Blend idea, sales were up 43% in 2006 alone. He explains the phenomenon to the WSJ:

Start with your target customers. You want to have something that’s fun for the people who buy your products. You just need to find the communities you want to focus on and find something that will be appealing to the people in that community, and you will have success.

When things like Will It Blend come along, and kick everyone in the ass, including ad agencies, I can’t help but smile. I’ve been using Blendtec as an example of alternative marketing for almost a year, explaining in lectures how they created a viral video juggernaut by following a few simple steps echoed by Josh Bernoff’s article for Forrester:

  1. It’s funny. It’s visually arresting. It’s short. These are three qualities your videos must possess. Here’s another company that also succeeded with a visually arresting video: Ray-Ban.
  2. It’s authentic. These guys are geeks. Wright told me the CEO — Tom Dickson, who’s featured in the video — is an engineer. It comes across. This stuff ain’t slick, folks, and if it were it wouldn’t work. (I love the proud and cheesy smile while he watches his company’s blender reduce some object to dust.)
  3. It’s original. Figure out what your unique value is. Then film it and put it up there. Don’t copy Blendtec, or Ray-Ban, or Dove. This may be the hardest part.
  4. It actually connects to the value of the product. You see these videos and you can’t help saying “Can that blender really do that? Maybe I should get one.” And many people do. You could be a hit on YouTube with a video that doesn’t connect to the value of your product, but that will help your ego a lot more than your sales.

Number one I revise to say that it “evokes an emotional response.” Funny is good. But you can also be touching, provocative, or shocking to the same effect.

Number 2 and 3, Authenticity and Originality are crucial points. The video needs to be honest, and it needs to be something new. If it’s not something new, like a spoof, then it just needs to be done in a new way. That’s still originality.

Number four is the most important of them all, because without a connection to the value of your product, it will be just another silly video that people share and forget about. (Look at Bridezilla as the perfect example of this. Does anyone remember that this video was for Sunsilk?) This is where real brainstorming, or perhaps just a brainflash, comes in.

George Wright noticed sawdust on the floor of the Blendtec testing rooms because Tom Dickson was testing their industrial blenders in unconventional ways. George envisioned a niche audience that might appreciate these experiments, and he was absolutely right. It’s hard to believe, but Blendtec has made blenders cool for men. Every guy I’ve asked who has seen one of these videos claims to want one. Now whether that’s to help out in the kitchen or to reduce found objects to dust, that is the question.

iPhone Demographics and Six Degrees of Separation from the Source

iPhone Demographics

I subscribe to Drew’s Marketing Minute with Google Reader. He posted this nice graphic showing pre-launch demographic research on the iPhone from Solutions Research Group.

I like to find the source of an image or an article, but I also like to give credit to someone that points me in the right direction. It’s just good blogging ettiquite. But when does all of this mutual back-scratching and kudos-giving go too far? Many years ago my friend Scott said he hated blogs because they polluted the internet with search results that just linked to each other, and made it more difficult to find the source of anything. I think he missed the point of blogging, but I also think he had a point of his own. Now when I’m looking for the source I often see how far I have to go to find it. In this case, it felt a bit ridiculous. Watch:

iPhone Buyers Analysis at
There is no box
via Drew’s Marketing Minute
via Trendsspotting
via Design Sojourn
via Darla Mack
via Cellular-News
which mentioned Solutions Research Group, but neglected to provide a link and I still had to Google it to find the original.

Amazing! Six degrees of separation from the source to read about their little study.

Creators vs Consumers

For years I have been saying that there are only two kinds of people in this world: Creators (people who make things) and Consumers (people who… well… consume things. Creators are active, Consumers are passive. It was a nice little theory, with only one nagging inconsistency: what about me? I like to do both. What camp do I fall into?

Enter Forrester’s new report entitled Social Technographics. Don’t let the title intimidate you: Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff have taken a friendly and measured approach to the debate by dividing online behaviour into six different categories of participation: Inactives (52%), Spectators (33%), Joiners (19%), Collectors (15%), Critics (19%), and Creators (13%). Each one of these categories describes a higher level of interaction, hence the ladder metaphor as seen in the image below.

Online Ladder of Participation

This has some interesting implications for advertising and marketing. Steve Rubel, from Micro Persuasion, has these thoughts:

For each program, assess where your audience sits on this continuum. Are they inactives, creators or somewhere in between? The key is to then devise the right kind of communication strategy depending on what you discover. Let’s put this into action.

For example, let’s say you have a start-up that has a new piece of blogging software that bloggers will love. Then you should execute a peer-to-peer program that primarily targets creators, collectors and critics while largely ignoring inactives.

“The value of Social Technographics,” blogs Charlene, “Comes when it’s used by companies to create their social strategies. For example, in the report we look at how Social Technographics profiles differ by primary life motivation, site usage, and even PC ownership. “

Profiles

I will be thinking about these categories the next time I sit down to strategize the next online campaign. Here’s a recap of what I’ve learned from Forrester today:
There’s only SIX kinds of people in this world… And don’t ask the average American family to create content for you any time soon, unless they use an Apple computer.