All posts by Christopher Laird Simmons

Christopher Laird Simmons is a 30+ year veteran in the advertising and marketing business and has helped launch numerous companies including MacMall®,, Neotrope®, and Send2Press® Newswire. He is an award winning photographer, designer, and one of the first experts in the field of SEO. He is a former contributing editor to numerous magazines, and has been widely interviewed by same. He is a PR pro and member of the PRSA, a professional musician and member of ASCAP, and the founder of Neotrope®. He is the author of FRACTOPIA, an art book (Neotrope Press, Dec. 2008). UNAUTHORIZED REPUBLICATION OF THIS CONTENT IS PROHIBITED UNDER U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT LAWS.
Market Research - Strategic Data Services for US Businesses

Market Research – Strategic Data Services for US Businesses: IP VPNs, Ethernet, Cloud, and Hosting Services, 2013-2018

Market Research - Strategic Data Services for US Businesses

According to a market research study announced this month from Insight Research Corporation, the study projects that the aggregate market for a key group of data services will grow two to three times the rate for basic transport services over the next five years. Insight’s newly-released market analysis report, “Strategic Data Services for US Businesses: IP VPNs, Ethernet, Cloud, and Hosting Services, 2013-2018″ includes full segment details for U.S. wireline data services, including IP applications services in the cloud such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Fran Caulfield, Research Director for Insight Research, said: “The groups of telecommunications services we’ve identified are fast becoming a growth engine for businesses of all types, and supplying these services to U.S. businesses will give a shot in the arm to U.S. telecommunications suppliers.”

With many voice and legacy data services declining, these advanced strategic services represent the highest growth areas for telecom services targeted to U.S. businesses. Advanced strategic services include business broadband, IP VPNs, Ethernet, IP applications in the cloud, and hosting services.

In addition to the revenue forecasts for IP-VPNs and Ethernet market segments, unit forecasts are provided for various data port speeds, ranging from 1 Mbits per second to 10 Gbits per second.

“These data applications are strategic in the sense that they are driving exponential traffic growth onto corporate networks and supplying advanced services such as IP applications in the cloud. Ethernet access to these cloud-based applications is the future, and service providers need to make the strategic choice to focus their investments and resources on this growth segment,” Caulfield concluded.

An excerpt of this market research report, table of contents, and ordering information are online at .

The report is available immediately in electronic format (PDF) and can be ordered online. Visit our website at or call 973/541-9600 for details.


Advanced Strategic Services Summary

Advanced strategic services are a collection data services aimed at businesses that Insight’s research suggests are “strategic” to US carriers because they have become the key revenue-generators. These major revenue-generating services include:

· Business Broadband (BB);

· Internet Protocol -Virtual Private Networks (IP-VPNs);

o >=1 Gbit/s

o 100 Mbit/s – 1 Gbit/s

o 10 Mbit/s – 100 Mbit/s

o <10 Mbit/s

· Ethernet services;

o >=1 Gbit/s

o 100 Mbit/s – 1 Gbit/s

o 10 Mbit/s – 100 Mbit/s

o <10 Mbit/s

· IP application services;

o Various managed layer 3-7 capabilities

o Cloud computing [Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS); Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS);Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)]; and

· Hosting services.

The advanced strategic services we identify in this study are a collection of independent data services that ride atop wireline networks and which businesses use to access their various on-line business applications. In our report we are positioning advanced strategic services as a subset of the broader wireline services category, which includes voice, data, and video services. (Continued … see executive summary.)

Market Segmentation:

Business Broadband Subs
Business Services Revenues
Business Data Services Revenues
Dedicated IP
Private Line
Frame Relay
Advanced Strategic
Advanced Strategic Services Revenues by Service
IP Application
IP VPN Services Revenues by Access Speed
>=1 Gbs
100 Mbps – 1 Gbps
10 Mbps – 100 Mbps
<10 Mbps port
Ethernet Services Revenues by Access Speed
>=1 Gbs
100 Mbps – 1 Gbps
10 Mbps – 100 Mbps
<10 Mbps port
IP Application Services Revenues
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Hosting Services Revenues
IP VPN Ports by Access Speed
>=1 Gbs
100 Mbps – 1 Gbps
10 Mbps – 100 Mbps
Ethernet Ports
>=1 Gbs
100 Mbps – 1 Gbps
10 Mbps – 100 Mbps
<10 Mbps port.

Pricing Information

Hard Copy Price
$ 3995
Electronic Copy Price
(PDF License Descriptions)
$ 4695 Single-User Printable PDF

$ 6995 6-Seat Printable PDF

$ 10000 Unlimited Corporate-Wide Distribution.


tech guru David Ciccarelli sees the future

Down the rabbit hole: tech guru David Ciccarelli sees the future as Canada’s first Google Glass Explorer

If you are even remotely interested in tech gadgets you may have heard of a strange new thing called Google Glass. “Glass” is a proof of concept wearable computing technology given to 8,000 “test heads” to wear, share, and socialize with starting Spring/Summer 2013. I spoke with David Ciccarelli, Canada’s first “Google Glass Explorer,” as they are called, to see what he really thinks of this brave new experiment from the Googleplex.

But what is Google Glass exactly? A cool pair of sunglasses, a cosplay mash-up of Star Trek’s Geordi LaForge and those who dream of a machine-human interface in our lifetime, or what?

One way to look at it (pun intended) is to imagine something you can wear, with a small glass eyepiece (which can go over sunshades if needed), which provides a “heads-up display” for relevant information such as your flight status while waiting at an airport, augmented reality (in a very small way) to show you maps to trails while hiking in the mountains, or even translate phrases for you in a produce market.

In fact, Google uses these examples on their “What it Does” page, here: .

Google Glass - what it does

Google Glass Explorer: David Ciccarelli

Somebody I’ve known professionally for some time, David Ciccarelli, CEO and co-founder of, is one of the first “explorers” chosen to test out the Google Glass experience, and today I spoke with him to get his take on Google’s idea for wearable computing.

Christopher Simmons: Hi, David: Just to get the disclosures out of the way, we’ve worked together in one form or another over the past decade with my company helping to promote yours; however, for this interview I’m taking off that hat and putting on my 30 year journalist hat since I think this is a pretty cool gadget and I’m really curious what you think about Google Glass. We’re not here to talk about our respective companies, but really to explore what it’s like being an early Explorer with this new tech.

Chris: Tell me a little bit about how you got involved in this, how you were selected to be an “explorer.”

David: Earlier this year, I lived in Silicon Valley for three months during which time I heard about a contest being held on Twitter and Google+ called #ifihadglass.

To enter, you simply needed to Tweet or publish to your Google+ page what you would do if you had Google Glass and then add the hash tag #ifihadglass.

My submission was:

Apparently, Google received over 200,000 submissions. They worked with a third party firm and hand selected all 8,000 Google Glass explorers. I am grateful to have been chosen.

Chris: What was it like with the first “out of box” experience, putting it together and getting the system started. The ergonomics.

David: Google Glass wasn’t shipped to me. Rather, I had to go to New York City to pick up Glass in person and go through a training session. After selecting the color I wanted, I unboxed Glass and was shown what the few buttons did. There’s a power button and a button on top to take pictures. There’s also what I describe as a trackpad along the right arm of Google Glass that you use to navigate through your timeline as displayed on the crystal display.

Chris: What some people have missed is the fact that this is not a product you can go buy right now, or even pre-order. It’s really a use test, where Google has in some ways “crowd sourced” interesting beta testers to try this out in the real world and provide feedback. SO, to get to it: what do you think of Google Glass? What do you like the most, and what bothers you about the product?

David: Like any new technology, you have to figure out if it has a place in your personal life. Over the next couple of days touring New York City with my son, I had an amazing opportunity to put Google Glass to the test. We visited the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park’s Great Lawn, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Central Park Zoo.

Google Glass Explorer David Ciccarelli interviewed on Canada AM
David Ciccarelli interviewed on Canada AM
I took photos, videos, got directions and even took a phone call. Glass sits nicely above your line of sight, so it’s unobtrusive. I wore it for eight hours and it never felt uncomfortable. In fact, I quite enjoyed knowing I could take a picture or video very quickly using voice commands, all from a unique perspective – my point of view.

If there were any drawbacks, I’d say that navigating websites could be improved. Sliding your finger forwards and backwards along the arm in order to scroll a web page up and down is not intuitive. I’d love for Google Glass to pick up hand gestures so I could simply wave my hand up or down to scroll.

Chris: When the Apple iPad first launched, I wrote an article about how such devices could be a tool for augmented reality, based on the initial sky/starmap apps. The idea of going to the ruins in Europe or the Middle East, and being able to see overlays of what it used to look like is fascinating. It occurs to me that this could potentially do something similar at some point. What are your thoughts on that? Are there any elements in this test bed for Google Glass to play with that idea?

David: There is certainly potential. In fact, the potential for augmented reality is likely the greatest with Google Glass than any other piece of technology I’ve seen. Already, the “Get Directions” command is pretty close. It’s a 3-D map with directions that you see as an overlay on the street where you are walking.

Chris: How have folks reacted to your walking about with the tech. Do you think this will become a commonplace item if Google brings it to market, or perhaps too much of a distraction for daily lives already over-burdened with tech?

David: As I mentioned earlier, everyone will have to make a personal decision as to whether Google Glass is right for them, and then decide when and where they’ll use it. Nearly everyone I’ve shown it to, by means of giving hands-on demos for 5 minutes, has been blown away. The reactions are overwhelmingly positive. The critical elements for success have nothing to do with the technology of Google Glass but rather the price point and if Google can make it compatible with prescription lenses. If Google can sort those two elements out, then they’ve got a home run.

Chris: Have you already provided feedback to Google about it, and if you can speak outside of any NDA, what did you say and what was the response?

David: Yes, I’ve provided some feedback to Google detailing the same highlights and challenges as described here. Google is committed to Glass and they’ve said and proven that they are also committed to monthly software updates. The first one I received provided a full web browser that was really impressive. It means that having a mobile-ready website or a site using responsive design techniques is all the more important. Google’s in it for the long haul with Glass and when it finally comes to market, this will be an amazing product.

Chris: Finally, what really surprised you or excited you about Google Glass that was totally unexpected, if anything. Or, any final thoughts on “Google Glass” ?

David: What’s surprised me most is the general interest in Google Glass. I had so much interest from friends and business colleagues that I figured hosting an open house at our office would be the best way to give demos and show people how it works. Two hundred people showed up for the open house at and after a brief 10-minute presentation, I proceeded to give demos to everyone who was interested. Three hours later, everyone who had lined up got a demo! As I said, the sheer interest in the product is what amazed me most. Google Glass has the potential to offer a new paradigm for mobile computing.

Chris: Thanks again, Dave.


Update 7.15.13; 6:45pm PDT: I neglected to include a section of the original article when published, that cited Eric Schmidt of Google stating that they planned to bring Google Glass to market within one year of the Explorers using them. One article quoting a Google Glass Developer claimed that the retail price in the U.K. would be about 200 pounds, which might imply a $299 price point here in the U.S. For information on developing software for Glass and the software technology behind Glass, see Google’s page here: . — Christopher Simmons.

Article is Copr. © 2013 by Christopher Simmons and first published on Advertising and Marketing News (formerly; all rights reserved. This unbiased article is neither paid nor sponsored content and no fee or any other consideration has been made to this site, its publisher, or the author.

What do you think about Google Glass?
Share your thoughts below.

Kelly Weppler

Interview: Kelly Weppler, principal and founder of WH & Associates chats about B2B Duct Tape Marketing

Kelly Weppler

Getting a B2B marketing campaign started can be daunting, and many marketing experts have adopted the so-called “duct tape marketing” program created by John Jantsch to provide key focus implementations for their clients. Kelly Weppler is the owner and founder of WH & Associates, an inbound marketing agency that works with business-to-business (B2B) companies to “enhance their online presence, to generate leads, and to design a complete customer experience that helps their clients stand out from their competitors.” Weppler uses Duct Tape Marketing and this week is co-hosting a webinar for B2Bs who want to learn more about this strategy and methodology.

Weppler will be a guest instructor alongside Duct Tape Marketing author and founder, John Jantsch, during a three-day online seminar for business owners starting June 26, 2013. For those unable to “attend” recordings of the entire 18 hours of training will be available for a fee. More information on this session at: .

According to Weppler, her agency is known for promoting a unique combination of high tech and high touch marketing in the technology space. With more than 20 years in sales and marketing, she frequently encounters business owners who are paralyzed by the sheer number of choices they face in promoting their businesses.

So what is Duct Tape Marketing? Duct Tape Marketing was created by small business guru John Jantsch and the term came about because duct tape is a household staple that sticks to everything and that’s essentially how you can think of the Duct Tape Marketing program, says Kelly.

I asked Kelly a few questions about the seminar series, and her take on B2B marketing in her area, since she specializes in Southern California companies and brands.

Christopher: HI, Kelly. Q: what is the #1 question that B2B folk ask you about marketing their small business to local, or hyperlocal?

Kelly: B2B folks seems to be really focused on their online efforts, SEO, content, social networking for local growth and are very focused on having prospects find them. And yes that’s important given we research most of our purchases online before we make any commitment.

This piece is important because it’s what helps to generate the leads. But what is equally important for these folks is that most of these B2B sales aren’t made or closed online. That means you have to create some systems and processes in your sales and marketing plan that deliberately take these leads offline to help move them through the buying process. And this is where your offline marketing efforts have to be considered in your marketing system.

It could be an event, introductions to or from other strategic partners, part of your referral marketing system, phone calls, etc. these are all offline activities that are what really move the deal forward and help to close it. Paying attention to these kinds of things are what will make you successful.

Christopher: What do you think business folks who need a marketing boost will learn from the webinar?

Kelly: From this session, I think the most important thing is for business owners to start thinking about marketing systematically. Marketing is not an event, it’s an ongoing part of the business that needs to be performed routinely and consistently because that’s what builds momentum in the business.

When you treat marketing as an event and do it sporadically, you end up with peaks and valleys in the revenue stream. To build a more predictable revenue stream requires routine and consistency.

Business owners will always ask about specific tactics–should I be doing PPC ads, should I be blogging, doing direct mail, etc., etc. And the second point to remember is that there isn’t one magical marketing tactic. There’s clearly evidence that they all work, however, when they are integrated and work together, they are that much more powerful. And when you employ these tactics on a routine and consistent basis, you see all boats rise with the tide.

Christopher: What kinds of companies in California, where you specialize, have you seen doing better this year in the up/down economy?

Kelly: I’m seeing technology companies and those in the home services and home contractors area picking up. In both cases, it may be because that was the kind of spending that people stopped the last few years. When the economy really slowed, people made due with the technology they had and what was in their homes, and now you’re seeing growth to the point where it’s become very inefficient and breakage in both of these industries.

I think the other point though is that I’m seeing these businesses pick up and do more with their marketing because they’re starting to understand that doing nothing isn’t the answer either. So these business are getting better educated about what they can do and how the internet can really help them compete. It’s one of those tools that makes a number of marketing tactics that much more cost effective and accessible so they can compete and compete well with much bigger companies that have a lot more resources.

Christopher: Thanks Kelly.

Learn more about Kelly and her services at: .

Copr. © 2013 by Christopher Laird Simmons, for Advertising & Marketing News – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. Photo courtesy Kelly Weppler.

Phillips MediaSource

Phillips MediaSource rebrands to focus on and better serve HD Video and Broadcast Clients in Texas

Phillips MediaSource

Phillips Productions, Inc., a leader in television program development and HD video production located in Texas, recently announced a re-branding effort and has changed its company name to “Phillips MediaSource.”

With clients across the state of Texas using its various video content development strategies, Emmy®-winning HD video production services, and integrated marketing communications consulting, the name change will “better reflect the company’s comprehensive portfolio of clients in the higher education, destinations and Fortune 1000 categories.”

“Today’s unveiling of Phillips MediaSource marks a significant milestone for the company. The Phillips Productions name, which originally stood for broadcast video production, no longer adequately represented our company, our products and solutions, our expertise, and our position as a recognized leader in online and offline marketing and HD video production,” said Bob Phillips, President and CEO of Phillips MediaSource.

“The Phillips MediaSource name embodies our ability and our continued commitment to producing the Emmy award winning television program, ‘Texas Country Reporter’ with Bob Phillips as well as continuing to help our clients communicate in the digital world. We are connecting on a daily basis with targeted audiences through our unique expertise in Authenticity Marketing and Experience Branding,” Phillips added.

In conjunction with the name change, the company also announced the introduction of two advanced solutions already in use by clients:

The Script to Screen Value Package:
It starts with strategy and planning, includes Emmy(R) award winning writing and the latest digital technology to produce, post and deliver HD video projects – all under one roof. This brings value and efficiency to both single projects as well as campaigns.

The Integrated Marketing Communications Workshop:
An affordable 6-hour workshop including on-site facilitation that gains positive consensus across the organization and is followed up with written observations and recommendations to improve a client’s Over Arching Brand Experience(TM).

“Growth necessitates change. The new name more accurately reflects the company’s hybrid position and our product advancements further align our commitments and expertise in providing Emmy award winning content development, video production and marketing consulting services,” said Phillips.

To coincide with the new brand identity, the company has launched a new Web site, . Effective immediately, all future business activity will be conducted using the new name. Phillips Productions is now a subsidiary of Phillips MediaSource. There has been no change in the company’s management or ownership.

Phillips described the company vision as follows (and this also appears on the new website): We’ve always said that we earn our next project by outperforming expectations on the last one. So it’s in our nature to seek tomorrow’s answers, and develop far-sighted, innovative and effective solutions for our clients’ challenges, moving their business forward while faithfully representing their brand. The message is this – what you say and how you say it, matters every bit as much as where you say it and to whom you say it. And it’s our job to balance all four.

Photo Caption: Bob Phillips (center) and the team at Phillips MediaSource. For info on the entire team, visit: .

Voiceover Talent Marketplace

Voiceover Talent Marketplace Welcomes 100,000th Member and Launches Updated Responsive Booking Portal

Voiceover Talent Marketplace

NEWS: For the past decade, London, Ontario based has helped advertising industry professionals connect when seeking voiceover talent, and voice actors. It’s also become a top destination for those seeking to make a living by promoting their voice acting abilities for projects ranging from animation, to TV spots and PSAs, to documentary and feature film work. This month, Voices is celebrating the registration of its 100,000th voice talent member with the launch of a new website, rebuilt from the ground up around HTML5/Bootstrap and “responsive design.”

Responsive design is a win-win for both the company and its customers. Traveling down the road of responsive design became an absolute must for following a substantial increase in visitors accessing the site via mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad and the Android-powered Galaxy SIII with mobile visits increasing 43 percent year over year.

“As a result of our responsive design implementation, visitors to the site are more engaged and staying on the website for longer periods of time,” says David Ciccarelli CEO and co-founder of Voices. “People are visiting more often with 86 percent of members visiting daily. Of those visitors, they are also staying 17 percent longer on the site than they were just a year ago.”

Consider the following statistics from a recent Forrester Research report:
* Mobile web browsing is projected to take over desktop Internet usage by 2015 – or sooner.
* 90 percent of people use multiple screens to access the web.
* 90 percent of smartphone searches results in a purchase or a visit to a business.

Learn more: .

About Voices: strives to achieve amazing things through the talent and faith of ordinary people. is the online marketplace that connects businesses with voice over talent. More than 200,000 people from companies like ABC, NBC, ESPN, PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, Sony Pictures, Audible, Comcast, Bell Canada, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Western Union, American Airlines, Toyota, Ford and GM as well as organizations such as the U.S. Army and the U.S. Government entrust the Voices online marketplace with their stories and collaborate online.

Editorial note: story updated to fix typo on “bootstrap.”

New Home Nexus

Elliot Light launches New Home Nexus, a marketing, sales and advertising firm connecting home buyers and builders

New Home Nexus

NEWS: Construction industry marketing veteran Elliot Light recently announced his formation of New Home Nexus, a marketing, sales and advertising firm that “will connect buyers and builders.” From initial due diligence to final sale, New Home Nexus will serve homebuilders, investors, asset managers and financial institutions throughout Southern California.

Light and New Home Nexus have developed a consumer-centric approach that is based on current consumer insights and research. This research enables clients to design and build the right home for today’s buyer. In addition, New Home Nexus provides a targeted, aggressive, lead generation system that increases traffic count, generates higher referral sales, increases advertising effectiveness and drives sales for builders.

“The decades-old model for selling new homes is changing. Today’s homebuyers are smarter, more tech savvy, more ethnically diverse and more demanding than ever before,” says Light. “Our extensive market knowledge and research empowers us to meet the needs of both the modern buyer and builder, ultimately driving both sales and customer satisfaction.”

Light has more than three decades of new home sales, marketing and advertising experience. He is now leveraging that experience to provide strategic marketing direction, the oversight of on-site sales, and the direction of client advertising and promotion. As the past President of L&A Marketing and Advertising, Light has extensive experience in lead generation, brand development, promotional marketing plus traditional and on-line advertising.

For his work with L&A Marketing and Advertising, Light received industry awards from numerous organizations including Inland Empire Sales and Marketing Council, the Southern California Sales and Marketing Council, San Diego Sales and Marketing Council, the National Homebuilder Association, and others.

About New Home Nexus:
Irvine-based New Home Nexus is a sales, marketing and advertising firm that specializing in the marketing and sales of new housing projects for residential builders. Formed on a consumer centric marketing platform, New Home Nexus provides builders with the consumer insights they need to design and sell to the modern home buyer. More information about New Home Nexus is available at .

Audi Spock vs Spock - The Challenge

Ads We Love: Audi Spock vs Spock – The Challenge (2013)

Probably one of the best commercial spots ever for a car company, and for Trek fans. Featuring Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy, “The Challenge” pits the two actors against one another as they head to a golf game. The take away for Audi is that the big A7 hatchback can hold golf clubs more easily than the Mercedes CLS.

What is truly hilarious is Nimoy’s self-deprecating humor in singing along to his once maligned musical album and the “Ballad of Bilbo” song. Nimoy obviously had a lot of fun with this, and credit the spot’s writer for dialing in references to “Wrath of Kahn” and getting to use the Vulcan nerve pinch. Truly awesome. And one of our all-time favorite TV spots.

Audi Spock vs Spock - The Challenge

The commercial was apparently directed by Paul W. Downs & Lucia Aniello, aka “Paulilu” and produced by PMK*BNC and Audi USA. (Please correct me if this is wrong as to directors; would love to know the name of the writer(s) of this gem.)


Truebridge hires Ken Wells as EVP of Relationship Marketing to lead financial services marketing focus

NEWS: Boston-based financial services marketing firm Truebridge, Inc. recently announced that they have hired Ken Wells as EVP of Relationship Marketing. Wells will head up a new unit that helps financial institutions maximize the power of their retail organization to drive more revenue from multiple business lines.

TRUEBRIDGE INC“With costs cut to the bone, increased bank profitability has to come from the revenue side,” says Stewart Rose, CEO of Truebridge. “Financial institutions large and small are grappling with the problem of how you do more with less. On the surface, banks seem to have many competitive advantages, yet their share of wallet remains well below where it could be. With Ken’s background that combines consumer retail marketing with community bank management, he is uniquely qualified to help institutions tackle this problem.”

Wells has developed and executed successful marketing programs with some of the country’s most well-known brands, Including Discovery Channel, Conde Nast Publications, and Harry & David. Most recently Wells was EVP & CMO of PremierWest Bank in Medford, Ore., helping to transition the bank from a product centric to a customer centric model to drive cross-sell opportunities across retail, commercial, mortgage, securities brokerage, and wealth management.

“The daunting challenges of the banking landscape call for new approaches,” said Wells. “With customers and products in place, banks have thousands of selling opportunities right in front of them; they just need help in seeing them. In the past, banks have operated many business lines as independent silos, but driving new sales without adding a lot of cost means better leveraging their retail banking operation.”

The hiring of Wells complements the recent Truebridge acquisition of American Brokerage Consultants and the hiring of their founder, Dick Ayotte. According to Rose, “These individuals give Truebridge a unique opportunity to broaden our services in a direction that is in great demand. We are truly fortunate to be joined by these two industry leaders, spanning the scope of retail banking, brokerage, insurance, and wealth management.”

About Truebridge:

Truebridge, founded in 2000, provides financial institutions with an education based marketing system that helps banks and credit unions market more of their products to a wider range of customers, increasing customer loyalty and profitability. The Smart Life Connect marketing system enables financial institutions to deliver a new customer experience, becoming a more important part of their customers’ lives and a place they go for more of their financial needs.

In addition, Truebridge offers a wide range of marketing services and revenue enhancement consultation to banks and credit unions. Truebridge is located in Boston, Mass. with satellite offices in Florida and Oregon.

Learn more at: .

loco for trademark of Day of the Dead

Brand Pagans: Disney gets loco for trademark of Day of the Dead

loco for trademark of Day of the Dead
OPINION: Well, you have to hand it to Disney for trying to capture the market on any product, brand, or service offering in their vast empire, even if remotely related to the original creators of something like the “Day of the Dead.” So many people are growing up today thinking Disney invented Snow White, or mermaids, or Pinocchio, it’s a little unnerving.

Day of the DeadBut they sell the toys, they pull and then hide videos from their “vault” (oh no! it’s going back in the vault, BUY that DVD now!!), and they make a lot of movies and manufactured teen idols, and they love the toys (get ‘em young!). And now they own Marvel, too. SO, what’s the beef? In their latest PR blunder (which started to explode this past week), their marketing department had tried to trademark the phrase “Día de los Muertos,” or “Day of the Dead,” across multiple platforms, so they could tie-in all their offerings with an as-yet-unnamed new Pixar animation project.

Well, guess what? That is a traditional holiday in many parts of the world, except in the largely white-faced mouse-eared American corporate HQ which is The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS). Um. say what? This follows on the heels of their 2011 brain fart when it tried to secure “SEAL Team Six,” the Navy SEAL team that captured and killed Osama bin Laden (and later made into a movie, and TV film, etc.), seeking exclusive rights for use on items like video games and other school-kid gear like backpacks and shirts (hey kids, put the Seal Team Six “logo” on your stuff, be cool, join the Navy!). Reminds me of the Simpsons episode with the boy band doing promos with auto-tune with join the Navy in reverse as the song hook (“New Kids on the Blecch“). Get ‘em while they’re young!

If you look at @Disney on a tweet tracker like, you’ll find a barrage of outrage over Disney trying to trademark an ethnic holiday:

aida_lu aida luna
Día de Muertos is a Mexican tradition, it is part of our culture!!! It s NOT a product. It CANNOT be a trademark! @Disney @DisneyPixar

(it’s actually one of two trending topics this week, along with the #KeepMeridaBrave issue where Disney is doing a “remake” of the Merida lead character from last Pixar movie … but that’s another story).

Of course, you can really blame George Lucas, to a small extent (ironic since Disney also recently bought LucasFilm), to this since his pivotal film “Star Wars” invented the “blockbuster” (with lines around the block, “busting” it), and he was savvy enough to pitch products to every nook and cranny, from records, to retail and he trademarked everything. Many of us older folk remember the outcry when Lucas trademarked “droid” and it stuck. Since then every film release has included in the marketing plan the “merchandising” – long before product placement became the favorite element to get films made. And Disney is now the true king of all media (sorry Howard).

They arguably make more money on their merchandising than some of the films they make, and hence the rush to trademark anything they can slap onto a physical product to sell in their parks, stores, online, at theatres, or overseas.

What is just bizarre is the lack of clarity and “big picture” behind some of the branding efforts of big companies now.

Granted, most people don’t realize the current image of Santa was “invented” by the Coca-Cola company for their advertising, and if it were owned by Disney they would have tried to patent that long ago.

Funny thing: there are actually 17 entries for “Day of the Dead” in the USPTO TESS (trademark search) system, including one from IGT CORPORATION NEVADA 9295 Prototype Drive Reno NEVADA 895218986, which is registered, for gaming machines (presumably slot machines or similar):
(1) Word Mark DIA DE MUERTOS
Translations The English translation of “DIA DE MUERTOS” in the mark is “DAY OF THE DEAD”.
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Gaming machines, namely, devices which accept a wager. FIRST USE: 20111017. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20111017
(2) Word Mark DAY OF THE DEAD
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Gaming machines, namely, devices which accept a wager. FIRST USE: 20111017. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20111017
Standard Characters Claimed

Another existing mark, which is for stage plays, from The Valence Group, LLC LIMITED LIABILITY CORPORATION TEXAS 909 TEXAS AVENUE, No. 1712 Houston TEXAS 77002:
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: entertainment services, namely, the continuing production and exhibition of live theater production, stage plays and muscial shows. FIRST USE: 20070831. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20070831
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING

And, a tequila product from Elements Spirits, Inc. CORPORATION CALIFORNIA P.O. Box 4734 Ontario CALIFORNIA 91761:
Goods and Services IC 033. US 047 049. G & S: Tequila. FIRST USE: 20091101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20100201
Standard Characters Claimed

Interestingly a Feb. 2012 trademark was abandoned for t-shirts, and such, by a London-based intellectual property firm.

So, maybe Disney isn’t crazy after all for wanting to protect possible t-shirt sales, energy drinks to bring you back from the dead (oh wait, didn’t Pepsi already do that with their brings you alive campaign?), and backpacks with skulls on them.

Still, should big corporations be allowed to own any common terms like “droid” (actually used in books and film before Lucas made his ‘droids), or “day of the dead” or “little mermaid” — an ongoing discussion on intellectual property. Personally I think not. But, while some consider Disney “big crooks” it’s the little crooks, the counterfeiters and hucksters who copycat anything popular and funnel revenue away from those who do originate content. So, on that score, Disney-Pixar “should” trademark anything specifically related to their creative invention.

This implies the USPTO needs a more specific classification strictly for “film merchandising” that is less general than some of the classifications for something like t-shirts. Meaning, Disney should be able to trademark the brand used for their film-related content, but NOT pre-existing material. Anybody should be able to make Pinocchio t-shirts, or Snow White t-shirts, but try it and see how long it takes to get a call from Disney’s legal department.

In any case, the main take away from any of this now, is that crowd-sourced activism is now instant: between social media, and media coverage of that, it’s hard to pull the wool over most people’s eyes any more, or keep skeletons in the closet. And that’s a really, really good thing.

Article is Copr. © 2013 by Christopher Laird Simmons, and originally published on — all rights reserved. Lovingly written for modern web journalism without a second draft to make it better. Yay! :-)

Kathryn Kendell

Kathryn Kendell joins ProSource executive leadership team as Vice President of Marketing in Ohio

CINCINNATI, Ohio /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — ProSource, a regional leader in business solutions for variable data printing, and improving mission critical business processes, recently announced that Kathryn Kendell has joined its executive team as Vice President of Marketing. As VP of Marketing, Ms. Kendell will be responsible for leading marketing strategy, planning, execution and evaluation to meet or exceed overall objectives and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Kathryn Kendell“I am excited to join this dynamic organization,” states Kathryn Kendell. “The leadership team is fantastic. The entire organization is top notch with a customer driven culture, and I am very proud to now be part of this team.”

Ms. Kendell comes to ProSource with over 20 years of marketing experience in the technology sector. She has held prior leadership roles with Fortune 500 and privately held companies specializing digital marketing, technology and consulting.

“We are excited to welcome Kathryn Kendell to our team,” states Brad Cates, President and CEO. “She brings a wealth of marketing and leadership experience to ProSource. She will provide brand insights and strategic direction as we continue to grow, enhance our product and services and deliver superior value to our clients.”

Ms. Kendell is a graduate of Ohio University and Central Michigan University and resides in Dayton, Ohio.

About ProSource:
ProSource is a leader in the office technology and business services field. Through intense focus on customers and the integration of leading technologies, ProSource provides solutions for copying, printing, automating, and improving mission critical business processes. ProSource, with an office in Dayton, is headquartered in Cincinnati and is one of the fastest growing companies in the region.

For additional information visit .

Beth Thompson

Beth Thompson joins CMI as VP Qualitative Research for Pharma Industry Marketing Analysis

ATLANTA, Ga. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Beth Thompson has joined CMI as Vice President, Qualitative Research. Thompson brings a 20-year track record of successfully conducting highly complex domestic and global marketing research with a focus on the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries. CMI Research is a leader in marketing research services and insight.

Beth ThompsonThompson commented: “I was thrilled when CMI extended the invitation to assume leadership of the qualitative team. The company has a strong reputation for providing solid approaches and impactful insights on a wide range of strategic business issues. I was especially intrigued with CMI’s approach to defining the paths customers take and then identifying the touch points and triggers that affect behavior. We uncover the real – often subconscious – critical elements that impact physicians’ and patients’ decisions whether to treat a condition and what medication to prescribe.”

“We are very pleased to have Beth leading our qualitative team,” Chet Zalesky, president and CEO of CMI. “She has earned a terrific reputation in the industry, both as a qualitative expert and a seasoned team leader.”

Thompson’s experience spans multiple industry verticals from financial services to healthcare insurance, with a particularly deep background in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries. She has conducted countless studies over the past two decades in pharmaceuticals, as well as in medical devices, surgical interventions and procedures, diagnostics, and biotechnology products.

Before joining CMI, Thompson managed her own qualitative consultancy for a number of years and has held senior positions leading qualitative research teams and conducting qualitative research for at Genactis, AlphaDetail, and GfK. She holds a PhD (ABD) in Political Science from Rutgers University and a BA in International Relations from the University of Michigan.

About CMI:

CMI is a full-service marketing research company that combines comprehensive market research expertise with marketing insight to provide clients with a deep understanding of their customers by identifying the choices they make and why. Since 1989, CMI has delivered unique solutions to uncover opportunities, optimize marketing strategies, and improve performance for clients in consumer and B2B markets. CMI’s experienced team of market research consultants leverages a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and technologies to translate research into insights and insights into actions. CMI serves primarily Fortune 1000 clients. For more information about CMI, visit .

CMI Research

Pfizer and CMI Research team at PMRG for: Engaging Stakeholders with A Story – 3 Tips to Improve Research Reporting

ATLANTA, Ga. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — At the PMRG National Annual Conference March 10-12 in Maryland, Pfizer and CMI Research will present: “Engaging Stakeholders with A Story – 3 Tips to Improve Research Reporting.” The presentation will be based on actual results of a recent study conducted of mothers of children with a medical condition to evaluate opportunities for a medication. This research is a very powerful story of the patient journey from recognizing preliminary symptoms through diagnosis and treatment.

CMI ResearchPaul Gondek, Ph.D., vice president of client solutions, and Alisa Hamilton, vice president of research services for CMI, developed the presentation with Deanna Schwarz, Director of Business Analytics and Insights for Pfizer Established Products. As part of the “Thriving Professionally” track, they will share how research findings and insights can be presented in an engaging way to walk participants through a story and transform the way research findings are shared throughout an organization.

This year’s PMRG Annual National Conference (ANC) will focus on the intrinsic value that an evolved healthcare marketing researcher must bring to today’s global brands and organization – value as a forward-thinking consultant, who not only provides the insight, but the foresight to make those “now what?” recommendations and to thrive in any challenging environment. For more information about the conference: .

About CMI Research: CMI is a full-service marketing research company that combines comprehensive research expertise with marketing insight to provide clients with a deep understanding of their customers by identifying the choices they make and why. Since 1989, CMI has delivered unique solutions to uncover opportunities, optimize marketing strategies, and improve performance for clients in consumer and B2B markets.

CMI’s experienced team of market research consultants leverages a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and technologies to translate research into insights and insights into actions. CMI serves primarily Fortune 1000 clients. For more information about CMI, visit .

About Pfizer: Pfizer Inc. applies science and global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life. The company strives to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacturing of medicines for people and animals. With a diversified global health care portfolio that includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, and many of the world’s best-known consumer products; every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time.

Consistent with a responsibility as the world’s leading biopharmaceutical company, Pfizer also collaborates with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on the company. To learn more about the Pfizer’s commitments, please visit .

Music producer Loren Weisman

Musician and Indie Band Marketing Guru to Speak at 17th Annual Millennium Music Conference

CAMP HILL, Pa. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — This week, at the 17th Annual Millennium Music Conference (MMC) in Camp Hill, Pa., recording industry veteran and noted music producer Loren Weisman will lead the discussion: “The State of The Record Deal in 2013: Myths vs. Reality.” Exploring what really works with up and coming bands, and solo music artists, beyond the hype.

Music producer Loren WeismanWeisman will discuss a great deal of the “behind the scenes” activity in modern A&R, and what is “really going on” as to what it really takes to thrive in today’s music business. Weisman will also discuss how regional locations such as Camp Hill, Pa. and other “hub” locations are more important to up-and-coming musicians over the larger cities.

Weisman will be available for free 10 minute coaching sessions in the main ballroom on Friday and Saturday.

As a veteran music consultant, music producer, and coach Weisman helps independent artists, musicians, bands, labels, and managers achieve sustainable success in the music business. He has contributed to over 700 albums as a producer and drummer. In addition to his work in music, Loren also maintains television production credits with three major networks and serves as a media consultant to many businesses in and out of the arts and entertainment fields.

Additionally, Weisman is the author of the new book, “The Artist’s Guide to Success in The Music Business: the Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How of the Steps that Musicians & Bands Have to Take to Succeed in Music, Second Edition” (ISBN: 978-1-60832-578-8; trade paperback; Greenleaf Book Group).

For more information about Loren Weisman, hiring him for a speaking engagement, his consulting services or his new book, “The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business, 2nd Edition,” visit .

For more information about the Millennium Music Conference, visit, .

Orange Leap, Texas

Webinar: explore why nonprofits must prove efficacy of their vision and work in order to garner long-term, committed donors

Orange Leap, TexasDALLAS, Texas /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Matt McCabe from Pursuant will present a live webcast with Orange Leap, titled “I Have A Dream: The Importance of Vision At Every Donor Level” on Feb. 14, 2013. Simply put, donors give to a vision that stirs their philanthropic passion.

This session will explore why nonprofits must prove the efficacy of their vision and work in order to garner long-term, committed donors. Clarity and articulation of the vision ties all fundraising efforts together.

As part of Orange Leap’s “Shine Brighter Series” this brand new live webcast will look at the importance of communicating a non-profit organization’s vision across all donor touch points to ensure continued giving. If donors do not clearly understand where a nonprofit is going, fundraisers cannot expect donors to make the journey.

According to the host, the webcast will review examples of how successful organizations weave their vision through all communications and touch-points. “While communicating vision in a Major Donor proposal seems natural, we will also explore how to weave that into acquisitions or ensure it is reflected in a pithy manner on Twitter or Facebook.

“We will review successful strategies that create a donor journey that makes each gift a step towards their participation in fulfilling the organization’s vision and multi-year goals.

“We will review and discuss how vision evolves and grows with the organizations, and how that is seamlessly weaved into effective long-term donor cultivation.”

About Matt McCabe:
Matt is one of today’s leading nonprofit consultants, with experience spanning two decades helping charitable organizations around the world optimize their online marketing and fundraising, integrated marketing, business process and organizational strategy, direct mail, and media and print campaigns.

About Orange Leap:
Orange Leap ( helps nonprofits raise more money with fewer resources by streamlining the fundraising process with innovative technology solutions and collaborative support. A cloud-based, Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) technology solutions company, Orange Leap effectively manages donor and constituent relationships; processes donations and tracks gift history; and automates fundraising and marketing communications. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company works closely with nonprofits that are focused on reaching and engaging a wide range of missions and constituencies.

The webcast will take place on February 14, 2013 at 2 p.m. EST. The webcast is free and attendees may register at .

Insight Research Corporation

Research Report: Optical Networking, Wireless Networking, and the Role of Redundancy and Recovery in Financial Transactions, 2013-2017

Insight Research CorporationMOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — According to a market analysis report announced this month from INSIGHT Research, “The global financial services industry is expected to spend just over one trillion dollars over the next five years on telecommunications services and equipment.” According to the new market study, spending on telecommunications by Wall Street companies, banks, insurance companies and others in the global financial sector is expected increase at compounded rate of 9.9 percent, growing from $135 billion in 2012 to $217 billion in 2017.

“It is difficult to over-estimate the impact that the financial services sector has had on the telecom industry, since this is the sector that has always been ready to spend to get the best,” says Insight Research President Robert Rosenberg.

The new report: “Telecom and the Financial Services Industry: Optical Networking, Wireless Networking, and the Role of Redundancy and Recovery in Financial Transactions, 2013-2017″ notes that the financial ecosystem encompasses a broad range of applications, from simple smartphone mobile transactions to complex international financial trading networks. This sector is made up of Wall Street investment companies, banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions that have been at the forefront in pushing for the development of telecommunications systems and practices that ensure accuracy, reliability, and security.

“This sector consumes practically everything that telecom companies can offer, including: hardware, applications, connectivity, managed services, hosting services, disaster recovery, security management, backup and storage management, storage area networks-not to mention their huge appetite for wireless and wireline connectivity. The financial sector is global and fully interconnected, and that shows up on the bottom line of the carriers in a big, big way,” Rosenberg concluded.

“Telecom and the Financial Services Industry” provides revenue forecasts by type of connectivity (wireless or wireline), by telecom equipment type, by sub-sector application type (banking, stock brokering, mobile banking and trading, mobile proximity, mobile funds transfer), and by stakeholder type. Individual breakouts are organized by global region: North America; Europe, Mid-East, Africa; Asia-Pacific; and the Caribbean and Latin America.

An excerpt, table of contents, and ordering information for this market research report is available online at . This 203-page report is available in Electronic (PDF) format and can be ordered online. Visit our Website, or call 973-541-9600 for details.

Massey Consulting

Social Media Training: 5 Ways to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page

Massey ConsultingRALEIGH, N.C. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Accounting software specialists, Massey Consulting, continues its educational marketing for CPAs webcast series with the session “5 Ways to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page” presented by Randy Vaughn, principal of Marketing Twins. The session is appropriate for all audiences: CPAs, nonprofit organizations and commercial business and CPE credit will be available for CPAs attending the session.

The webcast will be Thursday, January 24 from 2 – 4 p.m. EST and will help attendees:
* Understand a long-term vision for using Facebook;
* Master the 3 most important things organization should be posting every day;
* Discover 5 creative ways to increase the number of Facebook Likes (without having to pay for them);
* Find out how Facebook ads can actually work (and when and when not to use them);
* Learn about a powerful way that Facebook can help you showcase the stories and visions of your organization.

There is no charge for the webcast but registration is required. Those interested in attending can register at .

The webcast presenter will be Randy Vaughn of Marketing Twins. Randy Vaughn is currently Dallas-Fort Worth’s only Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. The Marketing Twins help develop and install strategic marketing systems for Christian small businesses and nonprofits. Also they implement creative solutions, performing a variety of graphic design, web, and social media marketing projects for churches, ministries, and private Christian schools.

“We pleased to have Randy as part of our webcast series,” said Massey Consulting Founder Philip Massey, CPA. “Organizations have an opportunity to expand the reach of their awareness and Randy will provide a proven and pragmatic approach to getting more from Facebook.”

About Massey Consulting:

Massey Consulting, based in Raleigh, N.C., specializes in accounting software consulting, selection, implementation, integration and support for Intacct Financial Accounting and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Massey Consulting’s team of consultants provides customers a wealth of practical field experience gained as controllers, accountants, and information systems professionals in a wide range of business environments. Learn more at: .

Insight Research Corporation

Market Research: Telecommunications and Capital Investments: Impacts of the Financial Crisis on Worldwide Telecommunications, 2012-2017

Insight Research CorporationMOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — According to a new market research and analysis report from The Insight Research Corporation: Capital expenditures (capex) by telecommunications service providers globally is expected to increase at a compounded rate of 1.5 percent, from $207 billion in 2012 to $223.3 billion in 2017.

According to the new market research study, capex in the various global regions will be very uneven, with North America, Europe and the Latin American-Caribbean regions showing little or no growth and only Asia-Pacific and Africa continuing to make investments in telecommunications hardware and software to keep up with burgeoning customer demand for new services.

“Telecommunications and Capital Investments: Impacts of the Financial Crisis on Worldwide Telecommunications, 2012-2017″ notes that capex spending among fixed-line operators continues to decline, and the only growth in capex spending comes from the mobile operators in developing countries that continue increase their capital outlays to meet the pent up demand for service. And while demand for telecommunications services may be income inelastic and industry revenue may actually grow over the forecast period, services in every global region will nonetheless come under heavy pricing pressure as operators fight over the cost-conscious customers quite willing to delay new device purchases.

“Customers in every region are pinching pennies and the demand for advanced applications is uncertain. The confluence of these trends means a further erosion of operator margins, which in turn will affect investments into infrastructures and new technologies since funding is now more difficult to obtain,” says INSIGHT Research President Robert Rosenberg. “The difficulty in finding funding now faced by many operators will certainly slow down, if not derail, the rolling out of investments in NGNs, WiMAX, LTE, or converged services,” Rosenberg concluded.

Capital spending forecasts are provided for the U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, France, Japan, China, and India. On a per country basis, capex spending is provided for fixed lines, mobile, and broadband. Forecasts are also provided for capex allocation by equipment; plant; software licenses; and the category “other.”

An excerpt, table of contents, and ordering information for this market research report is available online at . This 88-page report is available in Electronic (PDF) format and can be ordered online. Visit our Website, or call 973-541-9600 for details.


Digital Asset Company serving major Hollywood studios and TV networks announces corporate rebranding, becomes DAX LLC

DAX LLCHOLLYWOOD, Calif. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Sample Digital, the leading provider of production workflow and media asset management tools to the film and TV industry, has announced its re-branding as DAX, LLC. The DAX name is derived from “Digital Asset Xchange” and best reflects the product, services and legacy of the company.

Major film and TV companies actively using DAX, include such companies as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, CBS, Showtime, A&E Networks and Lionsgate. DAX offices have recently relocated from Hollywood to Culver City to accommodate expansion while remaining close to clients at the heart of the media universe.

“Our primary product has always been DAX and now it’s aligned with the company name,” said Patrick Macdonald-King, DAX CEO, “Daily use by so many people of our platform has made DAX a household name for content creators, in the same way people ‘TiVo a show,’ or ‘Xerox a document.’ More people every day are ‘Daxing’ documents, video and stills every day.”

“Our company has seen amazing revenue growth allowing us to add top talent at all levels to serve our expanding client base,” said Macdonald-King.

The DAX online platform evolved from Hollywood roots in three start-ups: DAX Solutions (digital asset management software), Digital Dailies(R) (the trademarked innovator of online dailies), and Sample Media Services, an encoding and digital packaging service provider. In April 2007, Sample Digital Holdings secured a major round of funding and rolled up the three companies into a new entity, focused on building a next generation end-to-end workflow product for major media producers and distributors.

Designed by leading experts and incorporating over eight years of customer feedback and research, Sample Digital rolled out its new platform DAX|D3 in April, 2009. In 2011, Sample Digital introduced DAX|MOBILE(TM) with iDailies(R) exclusively for iPad, developed to meet the industry’s demand for 24/7 media consumption anywhere via iPad. After rebranding itself in December 2012, DAX is gearing up towards the release of the 4.0 version of the DAX application in January 2013.

With a view towards the growing ranks of overseas clients for its DAX platform and expanding business across global time zones, DAX pursuing a presence in China as well as a DAX office in Canada to be announced in early 2013.

About DAX, LLC:

DAX is the leading provider of targeted workflow and media asset management applications and services to companies that produce, distribute and license audio-visual and rich media content. The DAX platform is a highly-secure innovative web-based community used by most major studios and television networks for collaboration and distribution management of content during the production process, for marketing and distribution of final product, and for easily accessible library management for re-use of production elements, including video, audio, photos and documents.

The company is based in Los Angeles, close to the major Hollywood studios and networks it services. Formerly Sample Digital, in 2012 the company’s product became the company’s brand, and DAX continues to lead the industry at center of the media universe.

More information: .

Dawn Westerberg

Twitter for Nonprofits training and marketing event hosted by Dawn Westerberg Dec. 6

Dawn WesterbergDALLAS, Texas /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — The latest “Shine Brighter Series” of webcasts for nonprofits from Orange Leap will focus on “Twitter for Nonprofits” and be presented by Dawn Westerberg, president of marketing consulting firm Dawn Westerberg Consulting LLC, on December 6, 2012, 2 p.m. EST. There is no charge for nonprofits attending the session.

“Twitter may be the most misunderstood and underused social media platform, but it is an incredibly powerful way to build relationships as well as amplify and accelerate your nonprofit’s message,” said Westerberg. “This session will explore the ways nonprofits can benefit from a regular Twitter presence.”

Attendees will learn:
* Who to follow and how to grow your followers;
* The power of #hash tags for key words, events and chats;
* Free tools for more efficient participation and helpful analytics;
* How to use Twitter lists to key in on critical audiences such as donors, media, other nonprofits, and influences;
* Bonus – how to get more online presence through your business partners.

There is no charge for nonprofits attending the session, but registration is required. Registration information can be found at .

Orange Leap launched the Shine Brighter Series in October and has featured experts from around the country on a variety of topics with the intent to provide valuable tips and strategies that nonprofits can use to fulfill their mission. This particular session on Twitter was developed in response to requests from attendees.

Orange Leap ( helps nonprofits raise more money with fewer resources by streamlining the fundraising process with innovative technology solutions and collaborative support. A cloud-based, Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) technology solutions company, Orange Leap effectively manages donor and constituent relationships; processes donations and tracks gift history; and automates fundraising and marketing communications. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company works closely with nonprofits that are focused on reaching and engaging a wide range of missions and constituencies.

More info about Westerberg: .

Laura Winn, VP client solutions for CMI

CMI Marketing Research VP to present at IIR The Marketing Research Event 2012 in Florida

Laura Winn, VP client solutions for CMIATLANTA, Ga. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Laura Winn, VP client solutions for CMI Marketing Research, and Steve DiCarlo VP of market research, Fidelity Investments, will present “Honeymoon Period: Three Tips to Evaluate Your Early Customer Lifecycle” at IIR’s The Marketing Research Event (TMRE) Nov. 12-14, 2012 in Boca Raton, Fla. As part of the TMRE’s “Brand Insights” track, Winn and DiCarlo will discuss the importance of the “honeymoon period” within the customer lifecycle.

While every interaction with a brand ultimately helps or hinders customer loyalty, the “honeymoon period” is the most exciting time for the brand and the customer. This getting-to-know-you stage offers numerous opportunities to gain or lose a customer and set them on a path to a higher lifetime value.

Fidelity Investments is dedicated to delivering the best customer experience during the critical first 100 days of a new customer’s lifecycle, and evaluating how each touch-point impacts a customer’s loyalty and lifetime value.

Winn and DiCarlo will talk about how new research has helped Fidelity Investments:
* Immerse in the early customer lifecycle from the customer’s point of view – over time and using technology.
* Investigate the average experience, but pay special attention to the outliers to identify the highest likelihood to build or undermine loyalty.
* Engage stakeholders to equip the organization to make changes to deliver a compelling, differentiating customer experience.

With more than 136 sessions and more than 170 speakers, TMRE attendees will gain access to the most comprehensive set of industry perspectives from insights leaders across the globe. Download the full agenda here (requires log-in): .

About CMI:

CMI is a full-service marketing research company that combines comprehensive market research expertise with marketing insight to provide clients with a deep understanding of their customers by identifying the choices they make and why. Since 1989, CMI has delivered unique solutions to uncover opportunities, optimize marketing strategies, and improve performance for clients in consumer and B2B markets.

CMI’s experienced team of market research consultants leverages a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and technologies to translate research into insights and insights into actions. CMI serves primarily Fortune 1000 clients. For more information about CMI, visit .

SafeToSleep Sleep and Breathing Monitor

Product Launch: SafeToSleep Sleep and Breathing Monitor uses Fiber Optic Tech to Detect Baby’s Breath Rate

SafeToSleep Sleep and Breathing MonitorDETROIT, Mich. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — SafeToSleep recently announced the launch of its innovative new baby product, the Sleep and Breathing Monitor, decribed by the company as “a breakthrough in infant sleep safety that monitors each breath of a sleeping baby with hospital accuracy and streams the breath wave to a smartphone as it occurs.” Unlike current baby monitors that use audio, video, or movement to monitor a sleeping baby, the SafeToSleep system uses advanced fiber optic technology to detect the baby’s actual breath rate and breath wave.

The Sleep and Breathing Monitor will alarm upon detection of slow, fast, and no breath events. The system tracks sleep time, generates sleep quality reports, and is wireless and portable. The breathing information is streamed to a smartphone (or included Parent Unit) as it occurs to alert parents of irregular breathing events. The system generates sleep time and sleep quality reports to help parents identify issues such as sickness or pain at the earliest possible stage.

“For the first time, parents can monitor the breathing of their sleeping baby, with clinical accuracy, every single time they put their baby to sleep,” said SafeToSleep co-founder, Dr. Ryan Santangelo. “This technology turns what has traditionally been a low-function gadget – the baby monitor – into a tool that will play a central role in infant care and sleep safety for generations to come. It is an evolution of the baby monitor to the greatest degree.”

The Sleep and Breathing Monitor has been hospital tested and clinically validated for accuracy. The hospital testing has shown the monitor to be as accurate as the breathing monitors used in hospital pediatric units around the world.

The Sleep and Breathing Monitor will be available online at in December 2012 and at select retailers beginning January 2013. The product will retail for USD $329.

About SafeToSleep:

The purpose of SafeToSleep(TM) is to improve infant care through the invention, improvement and application of user-friendly and intuitive technologies. The company was co-founded by brothers, parents, and technologists Ryan Santangelo, PhD and Pete Santangelo. Find out more at .

Christopher Laird Simmons

Diigo Apparently Dead or Hacked, Site Being Redirected

NEWS: Today anybody attempting to use the Diigo social bookmarking site was greeted with either a redirect to a keyword link page (similar to a placeholder site), or was being redirected to an apparent affiliate link page. Diigo has been around quite some time, and also absorbed Furl a couple of years back. (UPDATED)

I’ve been posting thousands of stories to the site (when the prior Furl content is included) over the past 5 years or more, and only discovered this from my own bookmark getting the redirect, when going to: .

Redirects seem to include “Click Check,” “Monster,” and a keyword list site simliar to a non-active domain.

SO, not clear if site/company is “gone” or they got their DNS hacked, or what. I’ll update this post if the site comes back.

UPDATE 1pm PDT: (ref: )

Diigo posted the following announcement which I had missed earlier or was unable to find doing search for “Diigo down”:

Dear Diigo users,

We’re terribly sorry to inform you that we’re experiencing domain hijacking, ie. someone gained access to our Yahoo domain registrar account, and illegally hijacked the domain, Very soon may not be accessible to you until this issue is resolved.

But please rest assured that all our servers and user data are NOT compromised, and your data can be alternatively accessed at

Your current Diigo extensions and bookmarklets will not work on

For now, to bookmark to, please install this special bookmarklet for >> (link not included here -cs)

Again, we’re terribly sorry about any inconvenience this may have brought you. We’re working hard to resolve this. Thanks for your patience and continued support.

For the latest status update, please see our tweets at


The Diigo Team.

— UPDATE 9am PDT Friday Oct. 26, 2012 —
As of this morning, apparently the DNS issue has been fixed at the root, but it has not yet propagated to all the name servers (e.g., in California, on Verizon/FIOS – we still see redirects), just as when you move a domain to new server. As of their latest tweet, “It takes some time to propagate all DNS values world wide. You may need to wait a few hours to get fully accessible.”

Paul Gondek

CMI Marketing Research adds Paul Gondek to CMI’s Healthcare Solutions Practice

Paul GondekATLANTA, Ga. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — CMI Marketing Research recently announced the addition of Paul Gondek who has joined CMI to expand the company’s Healthcare Solutions practice to support healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies. As vice president client solutions and healthcare lead, Gondek will further enhance an experienced pharmaceutical team, using advanced analytics and immersive techniques to provide strategic insights that brand teams can use.

Dr. Gondek has more than 30 years of experience across market research, marketing and brand management, market planning, and consulting. His experience includes 12 years on the client side, and 20 years in senior client service positions with leading research-based marketing consulting firms. His impressive pharmaceutical expertise includes oncology, infectious disease (including HIV and more), diabetes, COPD and other respiratory conditions, cardiovascular and circulatory, women’s health, CNS and pain, aesthetic medicine, OTC medications, a range of devices and diagnostics, and more.

Prior to joining CMI, Gondek spent five years in senior client service positions at two different healthcare-focused market research and consulting agencies, and 15 years as President of his own market research and consulting company. He holds a PhD and MA in Social Psychology and MS in Statistics from the University of Connecticut, and did post-doctoral work in post traumatic stress disorder (psychiatric epidemiology) at Western Psychiatric Institute of the University of Pittsburgh.

“Paul is a great new leader for our dedicated Healthcare team and will be responsible for ensuring that our service to pharmaceutical, healthcare, and medical devices clients – and the solutions we offer – are second to none,” said Chet Zalesky, president of CMI. “Many of our healthcare clients have worked with Paul in the past, so they are just as excited as we are that Paul is now leading our team.”

For more information on CMI’s Healthcare solutions, go to: or .

About CMI Marketing Research:
CMI is a full-service marketing research company that combines comprehensive market research expertise with marketing insight to provide clients with a deep understanding of their customers by identifying the choices they make and why. Since 1989, CMI has delivered unique solutions to uncover opportunities, optimize marketing strategies, and improve performance for clients in consumer and B2B markets. CMI’s experienced team of market research consultants leverages a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and technologies to translate research into insights and insights into actions. CMI serves primarily Fortune 1000 clients. For more information about CMI, visit .

Orange Leap

Orange Leap Launches monthly Shine Brighter Series of Marketing Webinars for Non-profits

Orange LeapDALLAS, Texas /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — On October 23, Orange Leap launched a new monthly series of webcasts for nonprofit organizations called the Shine Brighter Series. The first webcast covered “5 Ways Nonprofits Can Get More Likes on Their Facebook Page” presented by Randy Vaughn of Fort Worth-based Marketing Twins.

“The Shine Brighter Series was created to provide a wide variety of best practices and helpful information that nonprofit organizations can use to further their mission,” said Orange Leap CEO Randy McCabe. “We developed this to assist Orange Leap clients, but welcome all nonprofits to attend.”

The presentation “5 Ways Nonprofits Can Get More Likes on Their Facebook Page” provided help specifically for nonprofits:
* Understand a long-term strategic vision for using Facebook.
* Master the 3 most important things nonprofits should be posting every day.
* Discover 5 creative ways to increase the number of LIKES without having to pay for them.
* Find out how Facebook ads can actually work (and when NOT to use them).
* Learn about a powerful way that Facebook can help you showcase the stories and visions of your nonprofit.

The webcast was presented by Randy Vaughn of The Marketing Twins. Randy Vaughn is currently Dallas-Fort Worth’s only Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. The Marketing Twins help develop and install strategic marketing systems for Christian small businesses and nonprofits. Also they implement creative solutions, performing a variety of graphic design, web, and social media marketing projects for churches, ministries, and private Christian schools.

About Orange Leap:
Orange Leap helps nonprofits raise more money with fewer resources by streamlining the fundraising process with innovative technology solutions and collaborative support. A cloud-based, Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) technology solutions company, Orange Leap effectively manages donor and constituent relationships; processes donations and tracks gift history; and automates fundraising and marketing communications. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company works closely with nonprofits that are focused on reaching and engaging a wide range of missions and constituencies. More information: .

Insight Research Corp

Market Research: Cable TV Enterprise Services, 2012-2017

Insight Research CorpMOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. /Advertsing Industry Newswire/ — Insight Research’s market analysis study, “Cable TV Enterprise Services, 2012-2017″ provides a sobering view for Cable Providers, who have been touting the Business Services market as a profitable respite from their mature residential video business. Next to Wireless Services, Business Services is the second largest segment in the US telecommunications landscape. While Cable Operators have had some recent success in growing their single-digit share of this market, they will face major obstacles trying to take significant share in this modest growth segment.

While the US Cable TV Multiple System Operators (MSOs) in 2012 may generate over $7 billion in annual revenues providing telecommunications services to businesses, they will be chasing a declining business telecom services segment and face fierce competition from entrenched telco providers with very deep pockets ready to staunchly defend their existing base, according to a new market research study from The Insight Research Corporation. Cable Operators will gain some market share, but they will remain small players in a big industry with low margins and little cash flow.

“While their legacy in providing services to residential segments may give them confidence they can grow profitably in this adjacent segment, the Cable Operator’s challenges will be steep and growth is dependent upon taking market share from entrenched players,” says Fran Caulfield, Research Director at Insight Research. “Our study concludes that despite these obstacles, Cable Operators will forge ahead and the entrenched Telco Providers will likely respond with investments, price, and improved performance to combat this threat. It should be an interesting few years,” Caulfield concluded.

“Cable TV Enterprise Services, 2012-2017″ segments revenue estimates for telco and cable operators providing basic voice, data, and video services offered to the small, medium and large enterprise business segments. Detailed revenue estimates are provided for a range of business services, including Ethernet, private lines, voice services, web hosting, optical transport, and video.

An excerpt of this enterprise telecommunications services market research report, table of contents, and ordering information are online . This 137-page report is available immediately in Electronic (PDF) format and can be ordered online for $4,695. Visit our website (, or call 973-541-9600 for details.

Joe Bowerbank

National Mortgage Professional Magazine Recognizes Joe Bowerbank as Rising Industry Leader

IRVINE, Calif. /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Loan Score Decisioning Systems, an enterprise-class pricing automated underwriting solution provider, announced that its SVP of marketing has been named to National Mortgage Professional magazine’s Top 40 Most Influential Mortgage Professionals Under 40 list. Loan-Score’s Joe Bowerbank is recognized for his industry contributions to evangelize, market and drive the use of leading-edge technology among lending institutions. National Mortgage Professional cites individuals who make the list as being executives who continue to forge forward, lead by example, set the bar high for education, professionalism and excellence in the mortgage industry.

“It is an honor to be recognized as an individual who strives to make a difference in our industry at a young age,” said Joe Bowerbank, senior vice president of marketing and strategic alliances at Loan-Score. “My entire career has been spent driving the adoption of technology to automate business processes and operate organizations efficiently. I am fortunate in that I am very passionate about what I do and am always excited to spearhead the drive of technology solutions. More than anything, I thank my mentors and peers for their coaching and continued support. I feel privileged that the magazine has acknowledged my past and continuing efforts.”

Bowerbank, who has more than 15 years of marketing, communications, branding and strategy experience, has built a market presence for several technology companies into recognizable industry names with strong brands, most recently at Loan-Score Decisioning Systems. Before Loan-Score, Bowerbank held the position of vice president of marketing at Portellus Inc., one of the industry’s fastest growing LOS and AUS vendors in recent years. Prior to that, he headed the marketing strategy at AUS vendor Commerce Velocity Inc. Bowerbank has also consulted numerous companies to guide their strategic marketing and communications direction.

About Loan-Score:
Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Irvine, California, Loan-Score Decisioning Systems offers clients a full suite of decisioning solutions to satisfy their individual needs from small, medium and large production and servicing organizations. The modular suite includes a product & pricing engine (PPE), automated underwriting system (AUS), portfolio analysis engine (PAE), channel focused point-of-sale (POS) Web portals, a system-to-system integration bridge and more.

Loan-Score maintains a comprehensive, up-to-date library of investor guidelines and pricing to ensure eligibility is met and market conditions are adjusted to deliver precision-based underwriting that results in fundable and saleable loans. Our solutions are engineered to deliver swift, cost-effective implementations that integrate with existing LOSs. Clients can choose between software-as-a-service (SaaS) and self-hosted technology models.

For more information, visit or call 949-450-0102.


HBO Does Bloody Good Marketing with Sexy VILF Tank

COLUMN: In perhaps one of the most clever sexy marketing ideas I’ve seen in awhile, HBO is promoting a True Blood tie-in, a women’s tank top, with the letters VILF across the chest. It’s a clever reference to the now over-used term MILF, except with vampire replacing mother as the first word.

The tank also appears in the June 2010 issue of Playboy magazine, being worn by super-hottie and Playmate of the Year, Hope Dworaczyk (she also wears the “Fangbanger” apparel in the same story and says if she were a shape shifter she would obviously shift into a “bunny” – hah hah ha).

The “V I L F” tank sells for $19.99 at the HBO online store. Other fan gear is available with phrases like “Real Blood is for Suckers.” Mugs can be had with “welcome to Bon Temps,” and “Fangtasia” pint glasses. The usual cheesy “I Love Sookie” T-shirts, and junk with the images of the cast.

I tried the bottled “true blood” soda, but didn’t particularly care for it. A bit too syrupy and too many ingredients to be good for any long term substitute for the “real thing.” If you want to really mess with people at your next PTA meeting, the “American Vampire League” T-shirt might be a good choice.

HBO has also posted a preview trailer teaser for True Blood Season 3. The show is awesome, and the vampire craze shows no sign of waning anytime soon.

You can see the VILF tank here: .

Promo video follows:

Robo-calling Scum of the Week: (Chris Hogan, et al.)

COLUMN: Well, friends and fans, we have another scumbag using robo-calling tactics to call my home phone number (about 2:20pm PDT today, Sunday). Expecting me to be home to listen to your call, frak you, here’s what you get: this week’s award for being one of the lowest bottom feeders in the ad industry. Why would anybody sane sign up for your “wealth building” and MLM (its says MLM on Mr. Hogan’s sites) schemes? The call came from a caller ID of “Chris Hogan” and the phone number (501) 691-3245. If you research that number in Google you’ll find all kinds of MLM crap. Appears to be yet another “fruit juice” sales MLM.

If you look on YouTube there is all kinds of “Mandura” marketing crap, and funnily enough they’re using “scam” videos to try to get you to look at whether it’s a scam, but then try to convince you to get on board the fruit juice gold digger train. (Really?) What’s funny, too, is if you type in “mandura juice scam” in Google the first five pages of results are all about the supposed scam, where the MLM folks are making up pages of junk sites content to get you to go there to find out if it’s a scam. Junk PR sites, junk article sites, etc. — but don’t be fooled. And if you want to get involved with law breakers, then you get what you deserve.

Basically, if you’ve seen all the spam for Mangosteen juice, for Acai Berry, and related junk, this is the latest thing.

The 501-691-3245 phone number has been reported to the FTC for violating my privacy rights, and my phone number being on the national do not call list. Also sent a note off to the California state attorneys general office about the violation of both the robocalling law and privacy law violations on “Chris Hogan’s” various sites. He “appears” to be in Arkansas. I’ll have to look up the State AG in Arkansas to file complaint.

TO REPORT A ROBOCALLER TO THE FTC for calling your home number on the do-not-call registry, go here: .

The site being pushed in the robo-call is “StormofWealth(.com)” which redirects to “StormofWealth(.net)” – as in “storm of wealth.” Suuuuuuure. Want to buy this bridge I have out back? It’s a keeper, and you can make internet millions and all the honeys will love you with that big bridge in your back yard. Aw, c’mon, it’s a multi-level bridge. Double decker, even.

What cracks me up is using this tagline on one of the sites, “presented by Rev. Chris & Angelique Hogan” ((chogan.mandurarep(.com))… as if being a Reverend means anything good in the world of questionable MLM. When you break the law, being a “Rev” doesn’t mean God absolves you of your evil doing, brother, and accept this gilt edged invitation to hell. Or, H E double hockey sticks, pal.

Here is the WHOIS record for “StormofWealth(.net)”:

Registration Service Provided By: 1COMS .COM
Contact: +44.7773590344


stormofwealth .net
Chris Hogan ()
box 282
Heber Springs
Tel. +1.5016913245
Fax. +1.5016913245

Creation Date: 09-Sep-2009
Expiration Date: 09-Sep-2010

Domain servers in listed order:
ns2.hostluck .com
ns1.hostluck .com

Administrative Contact:
stormofwealth .net
Chris Hogan ()
box 282
Heber Springs
Tel. +1.5016913245
Fax. +1.5016913245

Technical Contact:

Billing Contact:


The server seems to land at a Mumbai, India hosting company, mydosty(.com), with an IP of What’s funny is if you type in the IP for hostluck(.com), listed as the name servers, it comes up with an “this account has been suspended” message. So, you can see there is a bit of jiggery pokery going on behind the scenes with the companies hosting these sites. And, of course, since it’s in India, we can’t really complain about the site owner (Mr/Mrs Hogan) violating US/California laws. They don’t care. Thank you India for making robo-calling such a money maker for your companies and fracking off so many US citizens.

The Storm of Wealth site appears to be living as a shared IP at For those of you wanting to block the IP range in your firewall(s), you can likely block the IP range and be happy keeping the scum out of your mailbox, too.

As always, worth noting that the mandura rep site is in violation of various privacy laws including California’s privacy law. The ManduraRep site seems to be an MLM powered by the upstream www.mlmteamsites(.com). With “MLM” in the domain name, you know it’s “gotta be good.” And that site seems to be owned by MLMpublicity(.com) is a division of TenBrink International (a one man company, apparently, aka “Ryan Tenbrink” in Carrolton, TX; one BBB complaint).

So, Rev. Chris Hogan, thank jesus as today you are this week’s award winner for official robo-calling scum of the week. Congratulations.

Christopher Laird Simmons

Robo-calling Scum of the Week: TurboATM-dot-com

COLUMN: Well, it looks like the scammers keep on calling. This week the abusive law-breaking robo-caller is the scum suckers calling themselves “Turboatm(.com)” and calling after 7pm Pacific Time, and calling those numbers on the “do not call registry” in violation of both Federal and California law. The calls originate from 206-350-9029.

Christopher Laird SimmonsIn going to the website being promoted by the illicit robo-caller, we find (big surprise) what looks to be a come-on to make money using a “secret marketing breakthrough!” The site proclaims they have “discovered a secret so powerful it literally ‘POURS’ Cash Directly Into Your Pocket Automatically!!” (capitalized words and double exclamation points from the site).

Besides the fact the site is collecting name, email and phone information (personal information), and does not display a legally required or California law compliant privacy statement, it claims there is “no MLM or Network Marketing.”

From the looks of it, I might suspect it’s one of the wide ranging “cash gifting” scams going around, and which have been widely covered on the TV news here in California.

Since there is only a one-page site (a sure sign of a money making scam, for anybody who has seen these before), the HTML title tag shows “Ez1up Cash System” and the sign-up form is being loaded from aweber(.com), a site offering “email marketing campaign” services, auto-responders, and other bric-a-brac often used by evil-doers on the Web.

I sent a query off to “AWber Communications” which claims to be in Huntingdon Valley, PA, informing of the mis-use of their services. We’ll see if we get a reply.

In looking up what info we could on the domain, the registrant appears to be somebody called “Bo Small” in New York, based on the domain record:

Whois Record Search

Registrant Search:”Bo Small” owns about 58 other domains Email Search: is associated with about 106 domains

Registrar History:1 registrar with 1 drop. NS History:8 changes on 6 unique name servers over 4 years. IP History:4 changes on 3 unique name servers over 4 years. Whois History:6 records have been archived since 2009-12-29 .

Bo Small
300 W St
Buffalo, New York 14201
United States

Domain Name: TURBOATM .COM
Created on: 28-Dec-09
Expires on: 28-Dec-10
Last Updated on: 28-Dec-09

The domain servers, seem to be (apparently owned by GoDaddy)

The reverse domain lookup seems to lead to the IP, which is owned by GoDaddy (*to clarify: it means GoDaddy hosts the site for the believed scammers/robo-caller, it does NOT mean GoDaddy has anything to do with the site! GoDaddy is a good company.). Complaints can be sent to the hosting provider, which is GoDaddy at:

An entry has been made at “” for the offending originating phone number where the calls originated (

Remember – it’s against the law to call phone numbers on the national “do not call” registry. Robo-calling is against the law in certain locales, like California. Companies that robo-call any of our staff, family, employees, or companies will be glorified with this dubious award of distinction.

So, congratulations “TurboATM-COM” – you’re this week’s winner of the scumbag robocaller of the week award.

Next week we apparently have some signage show in Vegas calling with free pass info. Hooo boy. Lookout! More robo-calling scum to feature. Stay tuned, party people.

Robo Calling Scum of the Month: Anthem Blue Cross / Blue Shield

COLUMN: It’s unfortunate that Anthem has chosen to attack unsuspecting customers and non-customers with inhuman robocalls. I’ve gotten about a dozen calls this year – and I’m not a customer. Latest one was at 2pm PST (5pm EST) today, and for somebody I’ve never heard of, even though I have had this phone number for 10 years. This is the second “person” they have called for, and the only way to stop the daily calls is to sit hostage to their robofracker and verbally state they have the “wrong number.”
Continue reading

Dominos - oh yes they did

The ‘New’ Domino’s Pizza – oh yes they did, or did they?

COLUMN: Well, as somebody who used to enjoy Domino’s “once upon a time,” and who gave up on the poor quality (really, Papa John’s was so much better, it’s just not even a comparison), I was intrigued by the somewhat unusual step for the pizza chain to fess up and admit in their new ad campaign what pretty much everybody knew, “our quality sucked.” Now they claim to have improved their quality of ingredients, their recipe (hopefully there is more in their new sauce than “40 percent more herbs”), and their attitude. But is the pizza any better? After nearly 50 years, they have to do something to change their impression of offering crappy food.

In a relatively unscientific test we bought pizzas from several Domino’s outlets, both delivery and pick-up, and put the new round meals to the test. What we found, however, had more to do with the creation of the pizzas than the ingredients, in this simple test. One pizza was slightly over-cooked (almost burnt on the bottom), one had too much “brushed garlic” on the crust (must have used a house painting brush versus a chef’s brush, more oil than garlic), and one had none of the new garlic on the crust. It’s a new recipe, but the same old crew.

On the one with the best overall construction and balance, we did find that the sauce was better and a little more sauce than on past purchases, the cheese tasted more like a restaurant and less like those $1 per box frozen pizzas many of us had when we were either in school or first fled the next into our first apartments. The sauce was a little sweeter, and had some red pepper in it, and so had more of a sense you were eating restaurant pizza than a fast food product. The cheese did have more taste, and the mix of more than one type of cheese really helped. Crust was better, except the one with too much oil (seriously, three times more than it needed).

When done right, the new pizza is a definite improvement. I would have to say, I don’t find myself wanting to throw half of it away the next day as the last time I bought their product locally (in Southern Calif.); on the other hand, it was not as good as a comparable cost pizza from Papa John’s in my opinion, at least.

Stephen Colbert tried the new pizza on his show, on January 6, and whether you believe him or not, he claims the pizza is better (“did an angel just gave birth in my mouth”), but hilariously rips on how the old pizza was truly truly awful. He called Domino’s Pizza his “Alpha Dog of the Week.” (It’s funny to hear the audience vocally cringe as he’s about to take the first bite.)

CBS’s The Early Show did a report on the new effort, and the staff gave the new taste high marks.

Domino’s has also setup a website, at where they are actively doing both viral marketing and archiving industry and media response to their new campaign.

Surprise! If I were on a desert island and had the choice between coconut skins roasted on the fire or Domino’s new pizza, I would prefer the new pizza. It’s not superb, but it doesn’t entirely suck. Room for improvement, yes; but primarily in the efforts of the crews building the pizzas and baking them. Better than the box it’s delivered in? Definitely a yes.


The Verdana Monologues – When Ikea’s Designers go Kabookskik

COLUMN: I got my Ikea catalog last week, and like many in the design field, thought something had changed but wasn’t quite sure what. Due to the fact I have been working on the Web more than the printed design space the past five years, it actually took me a little bit to notice the fonts had changed throughout. About the same time, this past Thursday I started to see a whole raft of online articles, blogs and business media responding to the “uproar” about the change: Ikea had changed their typeface. Holy Crap!

AIN0809-Ikea-VerdanaNow, while this falls about as low as one can get down the pole of what matters in the world right now, below unemployment, health care, and so forth, it’s nevertheless become a rallying cry, or topic du jour for the design community who despair over things as minute as the space between headline letters (ahem, I do that, too, admittedly; it’s called “kerning”), that Ikea has switched from a rich custom type font, to the lowest common denominator, a type face created for the Internet by Microsoft, called Verdana. A style of type which was not designed for print where the lovely bits interact with ink and paper, but for the cold cathode ray tube (CRT), and other display technologies which have evolved into LCD, OLED, plasma, and e-ink.

The main upset seems to stem from the fact that Ikea has “always been known for design.” And this is true, to an extent. Ikea has always had a mix of super cheap pressed board crap clothed in lovely colors and silly Sweden-inspired names with a healthy dose of umlauts, very cool desk accessories, storage stuff, and some often inspired decor pieces, as well as some lovely high-end “real wood” furniture pieces. I know, my curved desk I’m working on now, my bedroom furniture, my living room wall unit, and book cases all came from Ikea during the ’90s. I’ve been a graphic designer since my teenage years (ahem, the late ’70s/early ’80s), and I always “dug” the stuff at Ikea because it was both affordable, but some was really cool, too. Plummers was here first, and I tend to like their stuff better now, but Ikea really was a fun place to walk through and look at the mix of whacky desk lamps, and grid design flat-packed furniture.

So, this issue with Verdana … well, the problem stems (sort of a pun there for you typographers) from the fact that it doesn’t look as good when printed large as a headline, compared to a font which has been “drawn” to look good at large sizes, letter space (kerning) is harder to control, and because it’s a wide, open style, whereas many headline styles are designed to have thinner curves, and narrower widths to fit better in page layouts. Verdana just wasn’t built for the world of magazines and newspapers. All you really need to do is look at any price that has a 1 in it, like a large $129 price. The horizontal space, or white space between the 1 and 2 is too much, and creates an unpleasant empty space, even when kerned close together. Yeah, it’s true. But, really, so what. Verdana works because it’s big, blocky and seems to be missing subtle curves in places, and sometimes looks like it’s bold, even when it’s not. But you can read it at a distance, up close, and it shouts its readability. Not as pretty as the old font, admittedly.

But really, is that a bad thing? I am very knowledgeable about type, having gone to Compugraphic Typesetting School in 1984, and I also got my start in design with blue pencils, and dry-transfer lettering which went onto art boards by hand. I had my own typesetting business in 1987, and I started doing Web design in 1994. Verdana was a popular font once it was introduced because it looked great at font size 1 in HTML, whereas Times and Arial/Helvetica did not. Before CSS, it was common practice to use Verdana for footers, captions, small type, superscripts, and navigation. And for text on, ironically, many of the design oriented Web sites that wanted to use something other than Times or Helvetica.

Yes, Verdana is a font introduced by Microsoft, and was often eschewed by the Mac oriented design community simply because of that, and it being a “Web font,” not designed for print. Funny thing, too, is that the Mac version of another Microsoft font, Georgia, really does look gorgeous on the Mac, and has many of the traditional type elements, where the Windows version is more blocky. I ran into this when I chose to use Georgia for our company logo in 2000, but when we switched to Windows XP in 2006, the font didn’t look the same when you viewed it at 400%, or printed it at headline sizes like 72 pt. I haven’t looked at Verdana on the Mac lately vs. on Windows, but wouldn’t be surprised if there is a slight difference there as well. I chose Georgia for our company for the exact same reason Ikea chose Verdana, it’s a cross-platform, multi-language, multi-format type face – meaning, you can use it for print, for Web, for PDF, for video, and you can have a consistency. And, it does look very clean and open when translated to other languages; Microsoft did a great job at that.

Verdana spec sheet

Now it turns out Ikea is on the defensive because designers claim they have been violated, betrayed, and that Ikea should go back to its original corporate fonts. There is even a petition circulating to tell Ikea to go back to its original style.

In my opinion, that’s a mistake. Frankly, Ikea is acting in a designer frame of mind, they have chosen to go their own way and embrace a standardized font which everybody recognizes. What many of the dinosaur design community is missing is that many of Ikea’s core audience, the folks getting their first apartments, their dorm room furnishings, first couple living together, etc., are now folks who grew up with the Internet. Many of the young adults buying their first EXPEDIT, JAVNAKER, or KVART, have more experience reading their iMac screen, and MySpace page than they do reading the New York Times or Newsweek.

Frankly, Verdana “communicates” very well with youth culture because it’s the typeface of their generation, not their great grandparents. Sure, Futura or Optima, or any of the lovely Adobe or ITC fonts give us a rich history of details in the hand-making of letter styles, but for advertising, marketing and the sale of goods and services, this was a calculated and intelligent design choice.

It’s a business, not a design contest. In a worldwide depressed economy, anything a company can do to standardize, and become more efficient should be applauded and not derided. Of course, most designers work for somebody else and don’t have to deal with the business issues. Very few are both left brain and right brain enough to understand why Ikea has chosen to do this. The negative publicity the design community has drawn out regarding this change has, in fact, proven the point that Ikea’s designers made the right choice. End of days? Not quite.

Isn’t it a designer’s prerogative to buck conventions and question the standard way of doing something, and choose not to do what is expected? What’s wrong with choosing to use the “wrong” thing, to make the right choice for a brand style? Kudos Ikea team, you make me proud for proving you do have what it takes to be a mover in the world of design.

Megan Fox Peer Pressure

Megan Fox Drops F-Bomb for Viral Marketing

COLUMN: If you’re a follower of Megan Fox, or the latest vampire movies, or you happen to look at the most popular this week listings on your iPhone, you have probably already seen the clever viral PSA (public service announcement) for Megan’s upcoming movie “Jennifer’s Body” (which appears to be based on the foreign flick “Chocolate”, which I liked). The PSA starts out as any typical PSA about “peer pressure.” It then takes a turn which is hilarious and not PG rated.
Continue reading

Google Brings Text Ads into Google News … again

COLUMN: For those of you who use Google News (the news portal that is a subset of the megalith that is the Google content universe) regularly, you might have noticed a month ago (end of January) that Google “flirted” with the idea of ads on their news search pages, with the same look/feel as normal search engine pages. This went away fairly quickly, the same day Google was having style sheet hiccups (I got several hours of “Times Roman” fonts versus normal sans-serif). I was pretty happy to see the experiment go away, and most of February the ads were missing from the news searches.

Well, here we are again the last couple of days of the calendar month, now February, and the ads have come back, and numerous folks have suddenly noticed them and started mentioning it as if it was entirely a new thing. Which, it seems like it will be officially full-time come March 1st.

Certainly we can’t begrudge was is ostensibly a “free” online service from pushing ads in our face, much like everything else in our society (the local TV stations now sell their helicopters in “wraps,” so the choppers look like giant flying McDonalds billboards — at least the birds can see them and fly away in terror); but, for me, it is very distracting from reading the news when doing specific searches, since I am not looking for ads, in the same way I might be when searching in the “main” search engine. Sigh.

Of course, I’ve learned to ignore the ads wrapping my mom’s whacky pet photos in my gmail account, and I tune out most other things at some point, so I’m sure I’ll get used to it. It’s funny to see the kinds of ads that show up in relation to news searches, since I typically look for news on topics completely different from what I might search for in the main engine. Particularly bizarre was a search I was going on behalf of one of my clients, who is running for Los Angeles mayor on a pro-cannabis platform, and he happens to be a pastor. In doing a search for pastor and marijuana, and Los Angeles, some really odd and particularly “adult” results came up. I’ve tried to replicate that, to no avail.

A posting on a Google company blog by Josh Cohen, a business product manager at Google, had this to say:

In recent months we’ve been experimenting with a variety of different formats, like overlay ads on embedded videos from partners like the AP. We’ve always said that we’d unveil these changes when we could offer a good experience for our users, publishers and advertisers alike, and we’ll continue to look at ways to deliver ads that are relevant for users and good for publishers, too.

Oh well. Now I have to see competitor ads when looking for my own company and client news items. Kind of annoying, and sometimes I find myself wanting to click on the ads from a competitor to use up their ad budget. Er, but that would be wrong, wouldn’t it? (Did I type that out loud…whoops.)

[tags]Google News ads[/tags]

Contextual Counter Branding

Contextual Counter Branding: Your Pizza is My Pizza – Why Search Engines Want to Sell Your Trademark to Your Competitors

While the subject of contextual branding against other company’s trademarks will not be a new issue to some people, and I had been aware of the problem from the past couple of years of litigation between major companies and search portals like Google and Yahoo!, nevertheless I was a bit surprised when my brand was targeted by an upstart competitor.

Pay per click (PPC), and pay for position (PFP), advertising was pioneered by the folks at (which became Overture, now part of Yahoo!), then picked up as a good idea in different flavors by companies like (disclosure: I was on the FW launch team), Google, and MSN. It’s a great concept, type in a search for tennis shoes and you might find an ad for my favorite online shoe store, or type in computer parts and you might find a popular PC parts vendor

That’s great for advertisers, and great for online shops and sellers. It is called “contextual advertising,” where ads which are related (in context) to what somebody is viewing, are shown. Makes total sense. If you’re doing a search about guitars, why shouldn’t you see advertisements about guitar shops and online music stores?

Contextual Counter Branding Where this process gets a bit contentious, and in some cases downright ugly, is when you type in a search for a major brand, or even a registered trademark, and competitors can bid to buy a spot higher than you, under your own brand. Imagine looking in the white pages of your phone book and right above the listing for Pizza Hut (alphabetically), there would be a boxed add for Domino’s Pizza. Might this not cause confusion, or be some kind of unfair competition?

You might think so. However did you pay for that white page listing? No. Similarly you and I are not paying Google to list our site in their directory (arguably if you’re paying Yahoo! to be listed this could be treated differently, as we’ll see later). So, in effect, Google’s builders believe that they can do anything with what is in their system and your trademark, brand, personal name, or product, is fair game to any advertiser.

Well, isn’t that free enterprise? Sure. But what got my nipple nuts in a twist was the placement of Google’s AdWords advertising and Yahoo! ads within other sites’ content under my registered trademark — my brand which I’ve spent seven hard years building into a respected entity in the PR business.

Mixed Messages in Advertising Placement
For instance, not long ago I happened to be looking on Technorati for my site’s submitted content under our brand, Send2Press�, and I was a bit surprised to see an advertisement for some newbie upstart in my industry called Mass Media Distribution with an ad right above my content listings, and then again in the middle halfway down the page. I thought… “W.T.F.” then said it aloud for personal emphasis to mine own ears.

I contacted Technorati, and was told they couldn’t do anything about it since it was Yahoo! ads being served based on the keyword or searched term. (Note: coincidentally, about a month after my complaint, Technorati changed their page layout, and the contextual ads don’t sit within content listings for tag searches, but do still sit atop results for “in blog posts” results. Oddly, when I checked today, they have now switched to Google ads in place of Yahoo! results.)

So, I trundled (virtually of course) off to Yahoo! and tracked down the page on their website to issue a complaint about unfair use of my precious U.S. registered trademark. Yes, steam was coming out of my ears, but admittedly, partly because I’d been caught with my pants down by somebody who found a loophole in non-traditional advertising and was trying to put their brand name front and center in front of my clients and audience. All I could think though, was “Damn dirty apes!” and let my fingers stab at the keyboard while hunting down where Yahoo! hides such information in their advertising system.

First thing to do was go place a bid in Yahoo!’s ad system, and suffer the indignity of having to outbid some upstart company for my own trademarked brand. Done. Then I went again in search of the page on Yahoo! to address this. Luckily, since Yahoo! does offer paid inclusion in their search, they do have to respond to this kind of issue since it’s arguably a conflict of interest to sell inclusion, and then let somebody bid on an advert that will run above your listing in their search engine. Or, at least that was my thinking, which could be blind hope on my part as to what’s right and what’s wrong in this mixed-up world of online advertising.

So, I was unable to locate the trademark page, but I did put in a query with their information request form, and they sent me back a personal response and link to the trademark page: “Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. So that we may properly investigate this issue, please go to the appropriate page on our Web site, as outlined below and provide some additional information: Once there, please review our trademark policy and provide us with the information. Please send the information directly to the e-mail address given on the Trademark Information page: trademarkconcern-ysm”

One minor amusing point is that all of the emails back from Yahoo! on this matter all came from the Overture mail system. Hasn’t it been a couple of years since Yahoo! switched Overture’s brand out of the mix?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that three days after sending in my concerns and proof of the problem, my trademark status with the US PTO, and heartfelt ramblings, I got this letter back from Yahoo’s support:

Dear Chris:
Thank you for your correspondence. This email will serve as our response, you will not receive further notification from us.

Yahoo! Search Marketing does not approve of or condone websites that infringe trademarks. However, we generally have no control over the content presented by the advertisers who list their websites on our search engine. Yahoo! Search Marketing does require that each website be relevant under our guidelines. To summarize, we allow advertisers to bid on a search term that may be the trademark of another party so long as their listing meets one of the following conditions:

1. Reseller: The advertisers site must sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) the product or service bearing the trademark (for example, an online shoe store that sells Nike shoes on their landing page would be allowed to bid on the search term nike).

2. Information Site, Not Competitive: The primary purpose of the advertisers site is to provide substantial information about the trademark owner or products or services bearing the trademark, AND the advertisers site does not sell or promote a product or service that competes with the trademark owners products or services (for example, a site that provides product reviews may bid on the brand names of the products being reviewed, and a site that provides news information about a company may bid on the company name as a search term).

3. Generic Use (Non-Trademark Related): The advertiser is using the term in a generic or merely descriptive manner unrelated to the trademark owners goods or services (for example, we would allow an advertiser that sells apples to bid on the search term “apple,” whereas an advertiser in the computer software/hardware industry bidding on the term apple would be required to have relevant content regarding the Apple Computer, Inc. brand of computer products and comply with our policy as described above).

For additional requirements and information on Yahoo! Search Marketing’s policy on trademarks as search terms, please visit our Trademark Information page at:

While we are not in a position to arbitrate trademark or other intellectual property disputes between third parties, if a trademark owner brings a website to our attention that it believes does not contain relevant content, we will review the website for compliance with our guidelines. Therefore, we will review the search results returned through Yahoo! Search Marketing’s search services on the search term(s) in question, and the corresponding websites, and will take appropriate action. Please note that it may take up to ten (10) business days for the results of our review to become effective in our search results. You will not receive any further notification from us.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We hope that we have addressed your concerns.
Thank you.
Trademark Department
Yahoo! Search Marketing

First, I was happy to get any response from Yahoo!, since other queries to the company over the past few years related to content and branding proposals have gone into a black hole of doom (aka the round file). And, about two weeks later, the little varmint who had been buying ads against my brand on Technorati was no longer included. Yahoo! had gone with the side of right and helped protect the big guy from the little guy.

Yahoooo oooooh! (How do you do the Yahoo! yodel in print?)

The Goo the Bad and The Ugly at the Googleplex
Whew! Now, onto the Google side of this story. At about the same time, I went and bid on my own brand on Google AdWords, which I’d never had to do before, except when my main company changed its name from Mindset to Neotrope� at the end of the ’90s. I still run an ad for Mindset, so that my old customers and friends can track me down, since the business was known as Mindset from 1983-1999. That’s where contextual advertising really comes in handy. (Ahem, ironically, the companies now calling themselves Mindset might complain, but since they are part of the reason I changed the company name to avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars to litigate them, I will state that I have every right to be doing the exact thing I’m complaining about, in this particular instance).

Just for laughs, I went and did some test searches, and it seems like the Mass Media Distribution folks are trying really hard to let everybody else know about them by buying ads under every major player in the news distribution business: Send2Press�, Business Wire�, PR Newswire�, Market Wire, and even the outfits that resell PRN services such as eReleases�.

To mess with these Mass Media Distribution folks a little bit for a couple of months in response to their activities, I bought a keyword against their company name so when you typed in “Mass Media Distribution,” you would see one of my ads next to their Google listings. Tit for tat, baby. Seems like eReleases had the same idea, since they’re buying ads under “mass media distribution,” as well. I’ll probably stop, since it’s a waste of money in my opinion.

On the other hand, to take things a step further, since my company has been one of the leaders in SEO since 1996, I started to do some “keyword seeding” in our ContextEngine� system under “mass media distribution services” and my site now comes up as the second organic site listed in Google out of 12.1 million results. And this was without even trying. Since their brand consists of three common words, it is not particularly challenging to build content around those words. They will also have issues trying to trademark their dotcom business name, since it’s so generic.

It’s all about competition in the marketplace, right? Where I think this gets really annoying is that if you build a brand called “Mary’s Wedding Dresses of Santa Barbara” another seamstress across the street could buy ads and even outbid you for your own company name, if not your own personal name, simply by buying an ad on Google.

What is Google’s response? First, their form is hard to find, is badly implemented, and states you need to fax or mail them the information, which it seems you do not, since once the form is submitted, they tell you you’re done and need do nothing else. Their trademark form, which you will have to search for here:, requires you to list a number of things such as the trademark, registration number, and ownership info.

The canned response reads like this (Jan. 8): “Thank you for using our online trademark complaint form. We have received your complaint and have queued it for review. Once our investigation of your complaint is complete, we will send you an email confirmation. Please note that we receive a high volume of trademark complaints and address them in the order they are received. We appreciate your patience.”

About a month later (Feb. 6), here is the final response: “Thank you for sending us your trademark complaint letter. Your complaint has been processed and the ads in question no longer include your trademark: SEND2PRESS. Please note, we only processed the exact trademark you submitted. If you would like us to investigate variations or misspellings of your trademark, please supply us with a list of the exact variations or misspellings and we will review them. If you have additional questions, please ask.”

Thanks Google. But hey, guess what. Now there are three companies bidding against my trademark, which includes a sister company to MMD, called PRbuzz (well, of course by company, I mean a website), and I’m no longer the highest bidder. Not that I plan to get into a bidding war for my own company name. One study suggests that actually being the lowest bidder on the right in Google ads, when there are less than four advertisers, is actually more visible to viewers, since if somebody reads down the page in organic listings, then reads back up the right side, the lowest advert is actually seen first. But that’s minor comfort.

It turns out that Google’s trademark policy turns out to only protect brand holders from advertisers using the brand in their actual ads. So, this means that the Mass Media Distribution and PRbuzz people can buy ads which appear under my trademark, and even outbid me for placement all over the Internet for Google AdSense placements, but they cannot use my brand in their ads. So, they couldn’t have an ad reading “We will Send2Press your press release.”

Perhaps this is better than nothing, since it does provide some protection from a company saying “We have better services than mass media distribution,” or “Why settle for a ‘prbuzz’ when you can get real coverage with a legitimate newswire.” Of course, those “brands” are not registered U.S. trademarks, so under both Yahoo! and Google’s rules, I could conceivably use those brand names in my own advertising. Maybe I should do something like “get the REAL prbuzz here” or “Send2Press offers the best mass media distribution since 1983.” But that would be wrong, wouldn’t it?

pay per click attacks
ARE YOU SURROUNDED? Examples of counter branding: 1) buying the top spot in Google AdWords, which appears above the organic listings; 2) secondary bidders against a brand term or trademark; 3) organic placement using SEO methods against a brand name.

Confusing the Consumer for Fun and Profit
I personally find this irritating, not simply from a competitive standpoint, but from a “confusing the customer” perspective. I run into customer service calls all the time from people who don’t understand how to use search engines, what the information being presented to them really means, or where they are being sent when they click links.

I had one person call me last year who complained I was spamming them about my PR and press release services. I replied that we never send spam to anybody, ever, and it’s our corporate policy to never send promotional emails about our company or services. She said I’m seeing your page right here on my screen, and I said where did you get that URL from? And she said your promotional email. I said what company sent you the email, and she rattled off some no-name start-up news spammer claiming to send 10,000 people a press release for $50. Stupidly, they had put a Google AdSense box across the top of the page which was feeding ads from all other press release services firms, one of which was my site. So, since it was at the top of the page (above the logos and navbar for the site), she assumed it was my site and that I had spammed her. She clicked the link from that site in the ad box, which sent her to my site, which is how she got my phone number.

Ironically, she ended up becoming a customer once I showed her that we were a real 24-year old PR and brand identity company and not a dotcom sending out spam to try to sell questionable bulk email services to people wanting to send press releases to the media. And this woman was a veteran PR professional, not a first time Internet user.

With this example in mind, I am worried that easily confused potential customers who type in my company name in Google — perhaps after seeing one of my many interviews in Entrepreneur Magazine, or my inclusion in a new business book for women business owners (Career and Corporate Cool™ by Rachel C. Weingarten, ISBN-10: 0470120347), or similar — and then see a new competitor’s ad in a featured box above my organic listings, might thus cause my customer to be directed elsewhere than to me. While my new competitors want exactly this kind of thing to happen on Google and elsewhere, I do not. (I use the word “competitor” loosely, since I don’t expect them to steal much business after looking at what they do, but you never know.)

Planning for Contextual Counter Branding
When planning any contextual marketing and PPC or PFP program, the issue of counter-branding such as MMD is doing, is something every company should take into account. Much like buying up alternate domain names to protect your brand identity from “typo squatters” it now seems more important than ever to include a budget component for PPC against your own brand and product names to ensure transparency with potential customers as to who is whom.

For search engines this is, of course, a win-win for them in getting more advertising from both sides of the counter-branding arena. So, there is no great incentive for them to change, unless the lawyers get involved.

One easy way to check if your brand or product names are at risk is to log-in to your advertising account with any major search portal and do a bid against your company name or product brand, and see if there are other bidders. Depending on the bid preview, you may have to enter the smallest acceptable bid and see if somebody else would have a higher position. Simply checking the search engine by typing in your brands may not always reveal everything, since all contextual ad accounts allow for budgeting, such as “stop when it reaches $100″ so it might be that you have a competitor whose ads only show for the first week out of every month, or only show up on content sites and not the main search engine results.

Using SEO practices to counter-brand can be tricky since litigation can ensue for mis-use of a trademark. For example if MMD started putting my registered trademarks within meta tags of their site pages simply to show up in search results under my brand, they would get an immediate cease and desist from my lawyer.

It seems more important than ever to spend the money and get yourself a trademark attorney (I use a fellow by the name of Matthew J. Booth, and register any brand you consider viable and which is not simply a dotcom that you’ve thrown up to stick your toe in the water. With some search portals, like Yahoo!, having a registered trademark can be critical to removing potential confusion by way of keyword brand bandits.

And, of course, the best solution is to simply do a better job than your upstart competitors. Strong deliverables, long-term stability, credible management and staff, and proof of performance for any service business will still always put you on top in any marketing program.

All trademarks, service marks, and registered trademarks in this article are the property of the respective mark holders, and are acknowledged.

[tags]contextual counter branding, trademark bandits, Christopher Laird Simmons, When Advertising Attacks, legal issues with context ads, pay per click bandits, mass media distribution services, getting the prbuzz[/tags]

Stephen Monaco

Stephen Monaco to Commence Writing Venture

Columns to Advise Local Entrepreneurs, Depict Innovative Developments

CHICAGO, Ill. — Stephen Monaco, an accomplished executive with 20 years of senior management experience in the technology sector, will begin publishing state-specific content on spanning the Missouri and neighboring technology landscape. His first column was published on Jan. 16, 2007 on, which is the region’s largest daily business and technology news publication.

Stephen Monaco The mission of Monaco’s Show Me What’s Next column, which was coined in reference to Missouri’s nickname as the “Show-Me State,” is to depict the emerging business and technology developments in and around Missouri and to advise local entrepreneurs in the high-tech sector.

“We selected Monaco for his veteran savvy and geographic expertise,” said editor-in-chief Adam Fendelman. “He is a compelling complement to our existing stable of business and technology writers who are illuminating the region’s most timely and pressing topics.”

Here’s a direct link to his column:

In addition to his biweekly column on, Monaco provides strategic marketing services to technology-based companies. He has worked with various high-tech companies including Symantec Corporation, Quarterdeck, Microsoft, Digital River, and the Business and Technology practice at Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.

Monaco has held the positions of co-CEO, vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer for Datastorm Technologies. He was educated at the Missouri Institute of Technology, and the University of Missouri. Monaco did his graduate studies in marketing at the University of Wales.

About MidwestBusiness is the largest source of business and technology news and information in the greater Midwest.

[tags]Stephen Monaco, MidWest Business, Monaco Consulting, strategic marketing services[/tags]

Copr. (c) 2006 SONY

My Baby was Possessed by the PlayStation 3 – Next Gen Game Consoles Take Different Approaches to TV Commercials

After seeing one of Sony’s debut TV spots for their new PlayStation(r), I’m sure I was not the only one slightly freaked out by the toy baby who comes to life, starts to cry, then laugh maniacally before flashing demon red eyes… all while pawing the air toward the floating black slab of a PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Maybe they should have called it the PlaySatan? I think the message here is “Parents, keep baby away from the PS3 or they’ll be possessed!”

Copr. (c) 2006 SONYThe second TV spot prior to launch, promoting the Cell Processor which is inside the PS3, shows a floating Rubik’s Cube that explodes to fill the room with color. To me this ad smacked too much of the flawed launch spots for the Infiniti Q which featured mood music and somber scenery with nary a view of the actual car.

Contrast this with the lively first TV spot for the other nextgen console competitor, Nintendo’s Wii, that shows a typical gamer dude playing the game and showing off the innovative controller putting him into the middle of a shooting game, sword fighting game and actually showing the game play on a TV.

From these varied commercials, I was impressed by the game play of the Wii which had the very cool concept of putting the player into the action rather than old-school thumb mashing. I had seen some previews on G4techTV, E3, etc., but it still looked really good. The strength of the Wii commercial illustrated many of the features and benefits of the new Nintendo console, whereas the initial Sony spots were just plain weird.

Not that this is a bad thing – a heck of a lot of people have been remarking about the demon baby commercial (do a search on the Web for “PlayStation baby commercial” if you’re curious). I can tell you it’s even freakier late at night on my 61-inch DLP TV while on an HD broadcast channel. Yikes.

The second batch of PS3 commercials include a wall breaking away to show one of the launch games “Resistance: Fall of Man” (which I’ve played – outstanding) and another “sensory” commercial showing the Sixaxis controller tilting to and fro to make eggs roll across the room where all the spots have lived, obviously inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s still a little odd with black crows coming from the wall and follows the PS3 launch theme of “play b3yond.” The “beyond” theme actually reminded me a lot of the Showtime Beyond channel intro/outro spots between programs.

A second Wii spot should start this week and it will be interesting to see what they do to counter the PS3 approach. Of course, with both consoles sold out everywhere as of this writing, the commercials are practically unnecessary to sell the products.

Still, it’s interesting that the PS3 has taken an edgier approach — which historically worked well for Sega — while Nintendo seems to be taking a fun, hip, friendlier approach to court both new users and their core audience. I bought my PS3 this past Friday, got it on Saturday, played it on Sunday. I hadn’t thought of buying a Wii, but the commercial makes me more interested.

Another neat feature of the Wii for the party gamer is that it’s far more affordable than the PS3 and will likely return in quantity to retail stores more quickly than the way “under produced” PlayStation (Sony blames slow production of the blue laser diode for the Blu-ray player as the major hold-up).

According to varied business reports, over 32,000 of the new Sony consoles were sold on eBay from Friday through Sunday, with the average price being around $2,000 – $3,000 for the 60GB/wireless model. I paid close to the low end of that range, admittedly, but I think a lot of gamers have been similarly “possessed” into buying one, regardless of cost.

Thankfully, my eyes haven’t yet turned red. Hopefully if there’s evil built into the new PS3, maybe it only works on babies. But, I left the light on in my living room last night, just to be safe.

[tags]PlayStation baby commercial, Christopher Laird Simmons, When Advertising Attacks column, next generation game console, TV commercials[/tags]

What Can Brown Do for Identity Theft?

Companies need to do a better job of policing themselves when signing up new customers on the Internet and through mail campaigns, otherwise they risk contributing to an already serious epidemic of personal and business identity theft. Certain companies are making it a little easier for crooks to get a foot in the door due to a lack of safeguards and common sense. And guess what? It just happened to my company.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the current UPS (United Parcel Service) ad campaign, “What can brown do for you?” – it sounds too much like something that is associated with a bowel movement than a reason to ship your packages with them. In fact, part of the reason I shake my head when I hear the UPS ad phrase, is that it’s a bit too much like the slogans used during the last drought here in California to save water “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, wash it down.”

So, my first reaction when getting a bill for almost $2,000 in the mail from UPS at the end of May, addressed to “Peter Gabriel” at my company address was a four letter word starting with “s” and ending with “t” and with “hi” in the middle.

Apparently, UPS allowed somebody using the name Carol Washington, shipping from an apartment in Plattsburgh, N.Y., to set-up a shipper account over the Internet using my company name and billing address here in California, with a contact name here of “Peter Gabriel” (why not Elvis Presley, or Kylie Minogue?), then ship dozens of overnight letters to people and companies all over the U.S.

What astounds me is they didn’t stop and question somebody in New York setting up an account for a company in California, ask for some kind of payment confirmation such as a credit card before accepting almost two thousand dollars worth of overnight letters, or do (it seems) any due diligence in checking with anybody listed as a principal or point of contact at our company that we actually set-up the account.

So, here comes the mailman with my mail and a nice fat billing statement from UPS for all the packages shipped using “UPS Internet Shipping.”

Did I mention there were 16 undeliverable packages out of the huge pile this person sent, which indicates he or she was likely doing some kind of phishing scam by overnight letter or some other bit of criminal evil. So, UPS was nice enough to show a credit of $312 on the bill. Nice of them.

As you might expect, my second reaction after making a scatological exclamation was to call the toll-free number on the bill, be put on hold, and then finally speak to somebody. I explained the situation, and made it clear the account should be cancelled, their fraud department should get involved immediately, and that we were not (obviously) going to pay any UPS bill related to this account. The nice young lady told me they would take care of it, commented that the person who set-up the account used a valid e-mail address, and that the fraud department would call me by the next day. I said great, hung up, got on with my day and helping my own customers.

Two days later and no call or contact from UPS, their fraud department, an apology letter, or anything. Sigh. Whatever. Great customer relations, people!

A week later and I’ve moved on with my life, and guess what comes in the mail … another missive from the folks in brown. My chirpy optimistic nature is thinking maybe it’s a “Dear Customer, We’re sorry we let somebody ship packages under your name and then sent you a bill. We’ve cancelled the account and are hunting down the source of the evil with our crack team of brown-powered parcel police.” However, it looks like a bill, feels like a bill, and it’s still addressed to the old sledgehammer himself Peter Gabriel.

Yep. It’s a bill for $53.16 “after adjustments.” And in case I have any other ideas, “UPS payment terms require payment of this bill by June 7, 2006.” ShaTizzle!

Another phone call to the brown people, lovely on-hold music, and then a live person picks up. This person looks up the original call, sees my original contact (I am mildly impressed they have any kind of CRM system running), and then informs me she will cancel the account. As I grimace, I ask why the account wasn’t cancelled when I called previously. The person didn’t know, but she made sure it was now cancelled. Then she mentions that on the bright side it wasn’t actually a bill, but a credit letter informing me that the $312 had been applied to the account. Rather than argue that it was in fact a bill showing $53 due after the “credits” had been applied, or the fact that I could care less about credits since it’s not my account, I just said thank you and hung up.

Again, being an optimist I’m thinking maybe they let the account stay active to try to catch the person in the act of dropping off or shipping more packages. But why didn’t the anti-fraud department (assuming they actually have one is what my pessimist side is thinking) contact me. Even a form letter would have been appropriate. After all, they are wasting MY time, not the other way around.

I also wonder why somebody would choose my company name to set-up an account, since I have not offended anybody greatly enough, and have no interaction with the typical person or persons who would perpetrate such a scam. On the other hand, I do have some pretty prominent news and entertainment websites that are easily found in search engines and my company name is found at the top of every page of every site. I think it more likely this fraud outfit or person chose us at random, or might be going through companies alphabetically and we’re not the first or last company to have this issue at UPS.

Fast forward to the first week of September. Yes, you guessed it … another letter from the brown brigade. Smaller envelope, one sheet inside. Hey! Maybe they are sending me a follow up letter. But no, it’s a “COLLECTION ALERT” for the $53 from the May 27 invoice. “If payment is not received within 5 days, we have no alternative but to audit your account for further collection activity.”

Hmmm. My first call is to my lawyer (who I call maybe once a year to say hello), to say what kind of negligence suit or other “kick these brown bastards to the wall” type action can we take. He laughs and says maybe I should try calling them first. I laugh and say, it hasn’t done any good this far, and I wasn’t really serious about the lawsuit, just venting. Lawyers love those types of calls about as much as I like getting bills from UPS.

I do want to mention that the UPS drivers down here in Southern California are always super nice, pleasant, and even though they are more likely than FedEx to leave boxes on my front porch that advertise expensive electronics are inside, they do a good job. I asked the FedEx driver about leaving boxes marked “20-inch LCD Monitor” on doorsteps without even knocking, and he said “We always ask for a signature with anything that is clearly expensive electronics.” I was pleased to hear that. Even the DHL guy will “drop, knock and run,” to let me know a parcel is on the welcome mat. UPS guys do tend to not bother to even knock and just leave stuff unless it has a “signature required” sticker on it. But I’ve never had anything stolen.

So, I call the new number on the UPS collection letter, and I’m forced to input “my” account number before I can talk to anybody (little bit of entrapment there if you ask me), so when I speak to somebody, she asks for my account number, and I tell her I have an account number I can give her but it’s not mine. She asks why it’s not mine. I explain the situation, and she says she needs to forward me to the accounting department, and I go right to hold music, and after about ten minutes it drops me into a voicemail system where I’m to leave my number and somebody will call back. Oh joy.

As I write this, I have yet to hear from anybody at UPS.

Now, to their credit, it is difficult to verify each and every person who signs up for an online account, but there are simple business practices that many companies (like mine) follow. For instance, we use I.P. tracking to double check where somebody is actually from; if they put their billing address as Texas, and the I.P. (Internet Protocol) is in Florida, we double-verify information.

Other security practices include: When we take credit cards, we use AVS (address verification system) to ensure the billing information provided matches what is on file with the credit card company. When the name on the card is different from the person placing an order, we require a faxed authorization with signature and the security code off the card a second time (we won’t accept any online orders without matching security code), and phone number from credit card, which we call and check. We also check the phone number to ensure it’s really for the card company. And if the order is from Peter Gabriel, Danny Elfman, or Avril Lavigne, we really check everything (we did get an order from actor Richard Hatch once, and his assistant forged his signature … but that’s another story).

If the card is from an international bank that isn’t supported by AVS, we require a faxed photocopy of card front and back where we can see the name and security code. And if any order is over a certain dollar amount, we use other methods to validate authenticity of the person, company and payment information. And, even if somebody completes checkout successfully online, they cannot use our system to actually do anything until a live person allows it on our side. We had one person use over 20 stolen credit card numbers to get into our system one Sunday last month; they finally had a card with correct billing info, security code, and other data, made it to our support area, and were stopped by the fact they still need to have us personally approve anything they do there. Fraud stopped. Stolen card reported. I.P. addresses blocked from reaching our Web servers.

We had one of our own online customers actually complain that we required her to put in her correct billing information because “your competitor didn’t require that.” I pointed out that just because some other company doesn’t care to have security practices in place, we do, and that she should know what the billing address for her credit card was. She had to call the credit card company to figure out what they had on file and then when she put in the correct information in our order system, the order went through without any trouble. After more than ten years on the Web, it astounds me that companies still don’t “get it” about online fraud and security practices, and even more that people who do business online actually get offended when we use such procedures.

But some big companies do have some clue. With many online businesses which provide online sign-up, account holders have only provisional access to services until their billing information is verified, or they do a test billing of $.50 or similar to authenticate the payment method is legitimate before extending credit.

What seems truly illogical to me is that UPS allowed somebody to set-up an account with completely fraudulent information, with the exception that they used an actual company for the billing address (mine), and then let them ship a large number of overnight letters from a different state (and from an apartment no less) without any kind of check and balance in place, or provisional limitations, or payment validation/verification.

Simple limitations might have included: a limit on shipment amounts of $50 until payment is verified, no use of shipper account number from other locations until account is verified or some kind of limit of no more than one package pick-up, no drop-off of packages until payment and account info validated – pick-up only to authenticate the shipper address. I could go on and on.

Another very simple method of online anti-fraud screening might have been to hold for validation any company/corporate account set-up that uses a different email address from the actual company name. We do this here when we get a client claiming to be from an existing company but they’re using a free e-mail account like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail. Most “real” companies have a domain name that in some way resembles their business name, like, oh, If somebody signed up on our website and claimed to be UPS, Inc., and used an email of, we would double check this account before allowing them services.

It has gotten harder to use I.P. tracking for some kinds of scams, particularly with portals like AOL, where all the mail comes from the servers in one state, so anybody using a email account is a bit harder to track. But we flag these to check too, because of that. Sadly, AOL used to be a pretty safe and secure place to socialize and hang out, circa 1994-6, until they opened up the 1,000 free hours with no credit card or checking account needed. Then it went to hell. If you can get 1,000 free hours to send spam, attempt fraud, or just do bad things online, well then the bad guys had a pile of free account CDs coming in the mail every week from the AOL folks. I jumped ship on that whole place in 1997. Seems I’m not the only one. Of course, you can still get free AOL email.

Quite stupidly AOL also has a number of anti-spam features set-up, like ISPs and hosting companies being required to register their mail servers with the AOL postmaster system to avoid being “spam blocked,” and they allow people with AOL accounts to register any message as “spam” even if they requested it. We had to block anybody using an AOL email account from signing up for our online newsletters because the people would sign-up then when they got a newsletter, they’d say it was “spam.,” and AOL would send a “violation of our terms” warning – but hide the email of the complaining party, so that you couldn’t actually remove the person from your mailing list, that they double-opted into. The only solution was to block all AOL sign-ups since AOL doesn’t seem to have a clue how to manage email communications in a logical way, at least based on my own experiences. But then, this overall lack of savvy is just one of many reasons why people have left AOL behind in droves for the “free” Internet or for broadband connections that don’t suck. Time-Warner really lost out on that whole AOL acquisition deal.

While the above security practices may seem like common sense, many companies don’t follow any or all of these kinds of procedures, and this contributes to the online identity theft problems.

Another oddball is the Advanta credit card company ( I get letters here from them, offering my staff credit cards with my company name on it. What makes this incredibly unwise is the fact they are addressed to the employee, but not the company or HR person. So, in effect, they are trolling for employees to sign-up for a credit card, which would also have their employer’s company name on it. That’s going to cause a lot of headaches for companies since they might not approve or allow such cards being issued, but (without reading all of the fine print, it would appear) the employee need not tell their employer. Can you say “class action lawsuit waiting to happen?” This is particularly bad for ex-employees, too, since a malicious employer has all of the employee’s personal data such as social security number, home address, date of birth, and the like. So, a particularly evil manager or spurned lover could, in theory, set-up a credit card account for the ex-employee with malicious intent. Aside from all of that, the stupidest thing is that Advanta is sending credit card offers here to people who have not even worked for us for more than two years!

Ironically, they offer a Fraud News Alert on their home page about how identity thieves are trying to steal your information, and their Identity Theft Toolkit page proclaims “Identity theft is a serious and costly business! And while you can’t completely prevent identity theft from occurring, at Advanta we believe that knowledge can help minimize your risk and access can help you restore your credit if you are ever victimized.”

So, as you can see business and personal identity theft is not going to go away any time soon, particularly when major corporations continue to focus on shareholders, the stock price, and showing growth in their customer base and incremental revenue. But unless these corporations do a better job of policing who they allow to become clients and develop stringent practices and procedures to thwart fraud — and not contribute to fraud — they are only jeopardizing their potential relationships with legitimate customers.

Hey! Next time you need to ship a package, ask yourself:
What can brown do to you … er … for you?

[tags]identity theft, UPS customer service, Christopher Laird Simmons, Internet security practices, ecommerce security, UPS ad campaign, what can brown do for you[/tags]

eBay(TM) Logo

eBay Keywords Program Being Discontinued

eBay announced this week that they will be discontinuing the eBay Keywords program at the end of September. The program allowed eBay sellers to bid for keywords for text ad placements.

The program will be phased out as follows:

eBay(TM) LogoThe week of September 5th, existing eBay Keywords text box ad placements will be removed from search results pages. eBay Keywords customers will still have access to larger graphical ad placements through the end of the month.

On September 30th the program will close. (No ad placement inventory will be available for the eBay Keywords program.)

The eBay Keywords program has been used by a very small percentage of eBay members since its launch in 2003. Sellers who have participated in the eBay Keywords program will receive an email with more information about the closing of the eBay Keywords program.

[tags]ebay keywords program, ebay sellers, bid on keywords[/tags]

The IAB announces the Formation of an Industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group

NEW YORK, NY — The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) this week announced that they are forming an industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group to create a set of Click Measurement Guidelines. These Guidelines, a joint effort with the Media Rating Council (MRC), will provide the detailed definition of a “click” and the standard against which clicks are measured and counted including the identification of invalid clicks and/or fraudulent clicks.

IAB LOGOMember companies who have confirmed their participation in this Working Group thus far include:, Google, LookSmart, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo!, and others.

The IAB is steadfast in its commitment to the principles of transparency and industry oversight for the measurement of any aspect of Interactive media. The Click Measurement Guidelines will also outline an industry driven auditing and certification recommendation for any organization involved in performance based marketing like search engines, ad networks, third party ad servers or any company that counts clicks as a part of the media currency. These guidelines are part of the broader Global Ad Impression Guidelines that were launched in 2004 and follow the recent release of the Broadband Measurement Guidelines.

The establishment of these guidelines will provide marketers with a standard for the consistent and reliable measurement of their performance based marketing. Independent auditing against the complete guidelines should provide advertisers with added security for their internet advertising investment and further solidify the increased level of accountability and transparency already established by this medium.

“Click Measurement is the next phase of the Interactive industry’s groundbreaking Global Measurement Guidelines initiative,” says Greg Stuart CEO of the IAB. “These guidelines demonstrate our continued commitment to being the most accountable advertising medium and providing marketers with the highest possible level of transparency.”

The Click Measurement Working Group is open to all IAB Members.

A full copy of the already completed Global Measurement Ad Impression Guidelines can be found at .

About the IAB:
Founded in 1996, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) represents over 250 leading interactive companies that are actively engaged in, and support the sale of interactive advertising. IAB members are responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices, fields interactive effectiveness research and educates the advertising industry regarding the use of interactive advertising. For more information, please visit .

About the MRC:
The MRC is a non-profit industry association established in 1964 at the behest of the US Congress. The MRC is comprised of leading television, radio, print and Internet companies, as well as advertisers, advertising agencies and trade associations whose goal is to ensure measurement services that are valid, reliable and effective. Measurement services desiring MRC Accreditation are required to disclose to their customers all methodological aspects of their service; comply with the MRC’s Minimum Standards For Media Rating Research; and submit to MRC-designed audits to authenticate and illuminate their procedures. In addition, the MRC membership actively pursues research issues they consider priorities in an effort to improve the quality of research in the marketplace. Currently, approximately 40 syndicated research products are audited by the MRC. For more information, please visit .

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

* * *

Cuervo Black and Coke commercial

Man Fur Makes Me Thirsty – Alcohol and Shaving Don’t Mix

Apparently shaving is no longer hip and cool. I’m watching TV, the commercials come on, and I am blinded by the stubble… oh the stubble … Does Paris Hilton think “that’s hot?” Ohmigod! I need to stop shaving or I’m not going to get past that velvet rope!

As much as I wake up some mornings inclined to skip the razor, be it a manual or electric model, I never let myself go so far to look like Don Johnson on Miami Vice circa 1985. Obviously more than one somebody in the TV advertising business seems to think, however, that real men don’t shave.

On more than one night recently while watching Rescue Me, or The 4400, The Daily Show, or maybe even Two and a Half Men, I’ve found myself curiously drawn to watching all the commercials to see what the “Stubble Quotient” will be for this ad bloc in July. Wow! Three different ads in one commercial break, all with more man stubble than the local construction site barber shop.

Cuervo Black and Coke commercial Whoa! New Cuervo and Coke commercial… two guys, bartender, all three look like they have sprayed-on stubble all at identical stubbly lengths… sexy woman enters frame… alcohol leads to sex, right? Surrrrre. Message: don’t shave, but dress metro-sexual, drink alcohol and the chicks will flock to you.

I’m not quite sure who this is targeted at and seems to be in some bizarre “hot city bar” glossy storyboard world that doesn’t exist in real life. Maybe I’m a bit out of touch with the intended audience for the spots, living here in trend-o-licious Southern California, but if everybody wears the same clothes, goes to the same hair stylist and doesn’t shave for the exact same number of days to achieve uniform “stubble levels,” then I guess I’m not paying attention enough to real life.

Funny thing, I’ve been wracking my brain all day trying to remember the brand of the product in the alcohol spot and I can’t (I had to update this story later on once I saw the commercial again). I was blinded by so much stubble and the cool clothes. Apparently the agency that did the spot had a mis-communication someplace — you’re supposed to mention and show the PRODUCT at least three times, not show three guys with stubble that looks like it’s been enhanced with somebody’s eye-liner brush. The model was hot, too… blonde… but what the heck was the brand?

Any man who has been married, or in a long-term relationship, knows that real women prefer either a beard or no beard and not the wasteland of scraggly “beard grass” that gives your sweetie serious facial rash in any kind of smoochy activity. My ex-wife used to call the sound my electric razor made while shaving — after a weekend of not shaving — “mowing the back 40.”

Next commercial break. Hey, now it’s the president and founder of, he has a day and a half of stubble. Apparently he’s too busy helping his telemarketers learn how to answer the phone and doesn’t have time to shave … or maybe, yeah, his ad agency wanted to make him look more “hip” by skipping shaving for a couple of days before the shoot. Yeah! Man fur sells PCs and TVs, too!!

Apparently in TV commercial land, summertime is stubble time. Them ultra-hipsters just gotta have more face fur to make their skin stay warm on those sticky-sweaty summer nights. Now “that’s hot!”

Perhaps ironically, the Gillette(R) Fusion(TM) razor spots are running alongside these furry faced ads. Hmmm…. maybe they’re working together. Let your beard grow out, then when you look stupid, your skin itches and your girlfriend complains when you try to snuggle, you know you will need a new razor to shave that half-beard in comfort. Unfortunately, the Fusion spots blare out some of the absolute worst abuses of hyperbole since their last “new” product launch. Seems they needed a particle accelerator and fusion power to bring together the idea of adding more blades, and a sixth trimmer single blade when you turn it over. My Panasonic shaver had that ten years ago… so, “unique idea” indeed.

GIllette Fusion Power! (c) GilletteThe hilarious thing about the Fusion ads is apparently with five blades you’ll have more comfort and won’t have skin irritation. If you note the fine print in the commercial, it states that this fact is “compared to their prior product” — which means they’re saying the last product they sold you was crap, buy the new one. This is just the latest round in the “how many blades do you need” escalation.

Coincidentally, the website is running a contest to locate the next “Face of Fusion” with a 10-city tour. All the Gillette folks need to do is watch the commercials bracketing their own spots for plenty of potential fuzzy faced hunks to front their unique idea of five blades for better shaving. Maybe they can do a cross-marketing promotion in all the bars where the unshaven dudes who let their “queer eye” buddies pick out their clothes hang out.

Thirty years ago, a faux commercial on Saturday Night Live had ten blades for the ultimate in comfort; so, in my mind, the Fusion isn’t quite good enough. If five blades are better than four, and four is better than three, and three is better than two… then twenty must be nirvana.

Assuming that you’re not part of the ultra-hipsters from TV land, and shave at all, of course.

[tags]Christopher Laird Simmons, Cuervo Black and Coke, Gillette Fusion[/tags]

Federal Judge to Rule on Google’s Right to Allegedly Limit Speech on the Internet

LOS ANGELES, CA — At 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 30, 2006 in United States Federal Court, 280 S. First Street, Courtroom #3, San Jose, California, a drama will play out between (a site for kids zero to seven and their parents) and the giant of the Internet, Google, controlling up to 80% or more of ‘Net searches worldwide.

The hearing is open to members of the press and the public. Cameras are not permitted in the courtroom.

If the Federal judge rules in favor of KinderStart on any of the nine counts, sunlight will finally begin to lift the dark and secret shroud that covers the Googleplex.

Google’s co-founder Larry Page declared that a search engine should be “like the mind of God.”

“It’s clear Google is acting like god as they determine what we mortals shalt and shalt not see,” stated Victor Goodman, Founder of

Goodman continues, “Is this company that censors speech and ideas in China now doing it in the USA? Google decides what news we get, what sites come up, and what sites disappear — in effect, what we buy and think. This case is about far more than Kinderstart; it is about our freedom to know, speak and choose without a self-appointed Gatekeeper.” is the lead plaintiff in a class action filed in Federal court on March 17, 2006.


All trademarks acknowledged.

Send2Press(R) is the originating wire service for this story

* * *

New Book Shows the Beauty of the Advertising Industry

NEW YORK, NY – May 17 /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — Noted beauty expert, marketing guru, and author Rachel Weingarten’s new book: “Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America, ’40s-’60s” (ISBN: 1933112182, Collectors Press, 5/06) is a chic social commentary on beauty advertising, and combines her marketing and beauty industry background. The book explores the beauty culture past and present, women’s evolving spending power in America while highlighting the exhortations and beauty products geared to women in the mid last century and into our own times.

Hello GorgeousWeingarten and the National Women’s Health Resource Center (NWHRC) will be partnering on a new initiative to encourage young women to take as much interest in their health and self esteem as they do in their appearance. A kick off cocktail party and book signing event scheduled for May 20, 2006, will be held at cult 14th & U Street corridor’s fashion and lifestyle boutique Muleh. The event takes place during the annual Book Expo America (BEA) conference, which takes place in Washington, D.C.

Weingarten believes that NWHRC is a perfect fit as a charity partner for the book. “As modern women we’re finally starting to realize that beauty is more than just about how we look, it’s about how we feel and it starts from within. While Hollywood and the cult of celebrity would have us believe that it’s all about the exteriors, NWHRC is committed to improving women’s lives through health education- making their brains as sexy as their bodies. I can’t think of a more gorgeous message.”

Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, Executive Director of NWHRC adds: “We’re thrilled to partner with Rachel on this great book, message and launch. We’ve worked with Rachel for years, and we’re collectively committed to trying to improve self image in young women, and educate them to the issues that concern them most.”

While the partnership message is serious, the Muleh event is about fun. The fashionable evening at Muleh will include shopping (a percentage of all sales made will benefit NWHRC) cocktails, chocolates provided by Godiva, and a grand prize by Caron Paris. The burgeoning Washington scene is a perfect spot for the partnership cocktail party to take place. Muleh owner Christopher Reiter says: “We see women in the Washington area taking a greater interest in fashion today. The timing of Hello Gorgeous! is perfect – glamour is back.”

About Hello Gorgeous!
Hello Gorgeous! contains over 300 original advertising images, 100 bits of trivia, and witty commentary throughout. The book also includes commentary by industry experts including Joy Behar co-host of “The View”, cosmetic entrepreneurs Bobbi Brown, Jean and Jane Ford, and Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Musician Ben Lee, professional athlete Rebecca Lobo and numerous advertising, marketing and magazine insiders. Hello Gorgeous! has received enthusiastic advance praise including from Bust Magazine: ” Take a look at this sweet mid-century beauty book…[which] reclaims the beauty boom as a girls’ club, paying homage to beauty moguls Estee Lauder, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden,” as well as being one of Publishers Weekly’s featured picks for Spring ’06. The book is published in a softcover edition that retails for $14.95. It will be available in late May 2006 online or from major bookstores and retailers, or from the Hello Gorgeous! store at

About Rachel Weingarten
Weingarten began her career as a makeup artist and is the president of GTK Marketing Group, the Washington Post has called her a “Hotshot NYC beauty consultant”. She is known for her commitment to charity, and has been called “one of the new faces of philanthropy” by Crain’s New York Business Magazine, for her ability to combine business with giving back, and for raising awareness of social causes. She is frequently quoted in national publications including ABC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, Marie Claire and Glamour magazine. In her work as a journalist she has written for Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Newsday, USA Weekend, The Scotsman, Men’s Health, The New York Sun and many others.

The not-for-profit National Women’s Health Resource Center is the leading independent health information source for women. NWHRC develops and distributes up-to-date and objective women’s health information based on the latest advances in medical research and practice.

About Muleh
Muleh boutique reflects the harmonious subtleties of Asian modern interiors and a selection of women’s fashion designed in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Milan.

For more information or to schedule and interview with Rachel Weingarten, Please contact Jill Evans at 646.318.1857 or by email at

* Hello Gorgeous! website –
* Rachel Weingarten –
* National Women’s Health Resource Center –
* Muleh –

News Source: Rachel Weingarten and NWHRC
Send2Press® is the originating wire service for this story.

* * *

LookSmart Logo

LookSmart Unveils its Next Generation PPC AdCenter

SAN FRANCISCO, CA /Advertising Industry Newswire/ — LookSmart Ltd. announced this week the launch of their new enhanced AdCenter with improved functionality icnluding Daily budgets (versus monthly) which give you more control of your distribution and spend. You will now be in distribution every day of the month.

New Features include:

  • Daily budgeting for greater control over your spend
  • Daily budgeting for more steady Ad distribution
  • Negative keywords on the Ad level for more control of distribution
  • New custom reports for better insight into your Account’s performance
  • Easier Ad uploading and an improved interface for increased efficiency

LookSmart LogoIn the new version, you will associate multiple keywords (Smart, Broad and Negative) with an ad versus managing individual listings. This makes managing your ad copy for multiple keywords easier.

You can now manage your Negative keywords on the ad level, versus the campaign level. This gives you more control of when your Ads appear (or don’t appear) in search results.

“We are very happy to be releasing enhancements that will help you achieve your marketing goals,” said Bryan Everett, Senior Vice President, Sales and Operations.

New online training for the system is available once logged-in to your account.

About LookSmart

LookSmart provides relevant content, advertising and technology solutions for consumers, advertisers and publishers.

LookSmart’s 180+ vertical search sites are where consumers look for what they need, offering essential search results and web tools to find, save and share articles.

In addition to proprietary vertical properties, LookSmart’s advertiser distribution network includes syndicated publishers and search engine partners that maximize advertiser ROI. LookSmart also offers a customizable set of syndicated solutions for publishers to grow their advertiser relationships and audience.

More information:

* * *

When Product Placement Goes Too Far

Product placement is considered a necessary evil and potential savior for the advertising industry, but sometimes the concept gets in the way of the art form.

The Island - AquafinaI don’t usually mind subtle placement of products into entertainment, such as Apple’s notebooks being found in almost every TV show of the past decade, or the iMac showing up on every desk in Dawson’s Creek, but the recent creative and financial flop The Island took the concept way too far.

Beyond the fact that the movie was a stinker, and a hodgepodge of better movies like Logan’s Run, one of the most annoying things that kept kicking me out of my suspension of disbelief was the raft of illogical and blatant product placements. Apparently clones meant for the slaughter need brand identification of the fact they’re drinking Aquafina water, or wearing Puma athletic shoes.

The Island - xboxMost notably jarring was the giant Microsoft XBox backlit logo signage in the common area for the clones for their “evening fight games,” where they have been raised to think they are in a protected nest in a post holocaust world where the air outside will kill you. So, it made absolutely no sense for a giant XBox logo to be found on the walls in a faux future where corporations don’t exist and the world is a shambles.

When the lead characters use a callbox in the city, and the “MSN” logo comes up to float in mid-air, it’s not unreasonable to assume that might happen. Although, the likelihood of most of the movie’s near-future tack-ons are illogical at best (we will not have floating holograms, flying hover bikes, or sky-high monorails within the next 15 years by any stretch of the imagination). I’m also a bit doubtful that MSN will be the default search tool for phone directories at public phones (ahem, if there are still public phones on street corners at all in 15 years); but “wishful thinking” product placement in a bad SF movie isn’t that heinous, compared to the rest of the package.

Hit the Gas Pedal and the Story Runs on Fumes

At least in Minority Report the futuristic car from Lexus didn’t exist in a world where cars were obsolete. Similarly the futuristic Audi in I Robot didn’t kick your brain out of the story and served to show off a really cool “grab it and rack it” parking structure (too bad the rest of the movie didn’t live up to Asimov’s vision). But, back in The Island we see every police outfit in the city driving 2005 model Dodge Magnums; presumably in the year 2019, the police will be driving 15 year old vehicles while the rich citizens have flying speeder bikes. Vehicle placement in television is a long-standing tradition, and helped sell a heck of a lot of Pontiac Firebirds during the run of Knight Rider, but the shameless product placement of cars in movies has really gotten to be a distraction. Certainly Michael Bay is known for car chases and shooting TV commercials for same, but his creative-whore practice of bringing his commercials into his movies has become a negative trademark to his films.

In Bad Boys II, the lead characters actually commandeer the car of a sports celebrity “test driving” a new Cadillac, which the Will Smith character suddenly finds to be just as good a chase car as his Porsche or Ferrari – not because it serves the story, but because it gets the car into a scene which plays to the masses. Sadly, the sorts of folks who are likely to be brainwashed by this kind of product placement are not buying Cadillacs. They also drive by a perfectly posed brand new year model Chevy Tahoe (or so it appeared) just sitting there washed and the same camera angle used in car commercials. Similarly, in The Island, the clone and his original lovingly adore a 2009 Cadillac with 500 horsepower, which looks a lot like the GM show car possibly planned for 2008 production.

GM might disagree with my complaints since their sales of cars under the Cadillac brand are up 35% over the past four years, due to making better cars and higher visibility in films like the second Matrix movie and the Bad Boys sequel.

As a car guy, I really found it very distracting in The Island to see Chrysler Crossfires parked at the front of a row of cars on a street, Dodge Magnums, and other Chrysler branded products in almost every scene where there was a vehicle. Either a new GM vehicle or Dodge is shown throughout, even in the scenes with traffic driving through intersections.

product placementAnother gratuitous placement in a bad movie was the giant weight loss product truck that just happens to be driving through the back roads in Terminator 3 (photo at right). We’ve long seen Pepsi or Coke trucks get side-swiped in TV shows and movies, but now we’re getting long lingering camera shots of trucks with brands highly visible on the sides.

Lexus has taken a more restrained approach, providing 2006 model year cars to TV shows like Las Vegas, and 24 (all the bad guys drive the nicest cars in 24).

Placed Products Get the Best Close-ups

Smart folks might already know the connection between both Bad Boys II and The Island; being produced by the same film makers — and so the annoyance level in both films is not coincidental. The makers of both movies are more focused on “product” over “art” and shamelessly build product around a marketing plan, not on the longevity of the story or performances, or for film critics. Ultimately, this leads to bad movies, and the overt product placement is only one of the elements contributing to this.

Film makers should look at well-done examples of placement, such as Minority Report, where the character going into a futuristic GAP store fit in with the storyline and served to make a statement about “personalization” with a video/holographic A.I. sales “greeter” welcoming you to the store by name and asking about your prior purchases. The retinal-scan personalization and identification aspect allowed clever placement for all kinds of products, like American Express and digital ink newspapers from USA Today.

I love movies, watch a lot of TV, and don’t mind the product placements in most cases (like Lexus in this season of 24), but these “punch you in the eyeballs” tactics in some projects are really starting to detract from enjoying even “bad” films.

If content creators, film makers, TV producers and others wish to retain some level of credibility with their audiences and to not permanently punch holes in their work with dated products, there needs to be some thought given to more subtle approaches that serve both the needs of the budget builders and the art form.

 * * *