Archive for September, 2006

HP Gets Voodoo

Remember when there were about a 100 PC companies duking it out back in the late 80s and early 90s? Excluding the Asian manufacturers, you can now probably count them all on two hands, maybe one. And now there is one less. In the first substantive news out of Palo Alto outside of the pretexting mess, HP today scooped up Canadian gaming PC manufacturer Voodoo Computers.

Looks like they are getting the entertainment religion. This is a good move for HP. While the unit volumes in this space are tiny, you have to think the margins on a high end $5,000 gaming system start with a crooked number, like a four or five versus a LOT lower for a pedestrian consumer box.

Very cool Voodoo community.

Interesting blog by Voodoo’s Rahul Sood, too where he talks about “Project Vampire” unfolding. These guys are doing to have some fund spending a little bit of HP Labs’ mega R&D budget.

— Posted by Tim Hurley


Cheers from Ireland

Just wanted to hop on quickly mid-way through my trip to say hello to all from Galway City, Ireland. So far, we’ve travelled all around Counties Galway, Clare, and Kerry – enjoying many pints in many pubs – with the best stops being Dingle Bay (Co. Kerry), as well as beautiful Clifden (Co. Galway) – right on the beach. Hope all is well state-side, and look for another post upon my return to the US. Cheers!

Brand 2.0

Landor Associates came out with its annual “breakaway brands” study this week. The results will be published in the Sept. 18th issue of FORTUNE. This study identifies the ten brands with the greatest percentage gains in brand health and business value as a result of superb brand strategy and execution over a three-year period, 2002-2005.  The top ten finishers might really surprise you. iPod, eBay and Best Buy were included in this group with iPod showing the greatest gain during that period. Not exactly a shocker there – most 12 year olds would probably have guessed that. But take a look at some of the other top ten finishers. Number four was Robitussin. Robitussin? Six was Kohl’s department stores (a favorite of the geriatric set, but I am not sure how hip this chain really is). Seventh was French’s, the condiment maker, which is a category killer for sure and apparently, a great brand and getting better. So maybe boring is good. Boring is healthy and valuable too. My personal fave is number three – Converse. I’m partial to this company because I grew up wearing Chuckie T’s (before and after they became retro hip about fifteen years ago), as well as the high-top leather models favored by Dr. J and Larry Bird during the 80s. No doubt Converse’s return the rare air of hot brands has been aided by the deep pockets of its parent Nike, cool apparel and a “design your own” personalization feature for clothes and shoes on their site. Nice goin Cons!

All I Really Need to Know I Learned…where?

I was in a doctor’s office the other day, and was saw that poster that we all undoubtedly had in our rooms or in our office at one point in time – All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Adapted by the best selling book written by Robert Fulghum in 1988, it was definitely the mantra for many people my age growing up. This poster spawned many imitations. All I Really Need to Know I Learned From…My Cat, My Dog, Watching Star Trek – you name it, the list goes on.

Well I’m here today to propose a new version to this undeniable classic – All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Working in Marketing. It would go a little something like this:

Most of what I need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I’ve learned from working in the marketing industry. These are the things I learned.
Have any lessons to add to the list? Please share – who knows, maybe we’ll go into the publishing business some day!

Be original. Don’t be afraid to draw outside the lines or think outside of the box. It’s all about the ideas.

First impressions really do matter.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

Be patient. Patience is indeed a virtue, and one that should be celebrated in our field.

Push back. Don’t take no for an answer. If you have a good idea and believe in it, then stick with it. Be heard.

Write it, read it, and then read it again (and again).

Perfection isn’t unrealistic, it’s expected. And, if god forbid you do make a mistake, reflect on it and learn from it.

Keep your eyes and ears open. You never know what you’re going to learn by being observant.

Compromise. Like a good marriage, sometimes we need to meet the other party in the middle. After all, what’s a little give with out a little take?

And finally, have fun. What good is working hard if you can’t have a little fun at the same time?

Rock the Vote

Today is primary day across the Bay State and like many of you over the last few weeks I have thought more seriously about how I was going to rock the vote. I even watched the nightly profiles of the candidates on the local news. Ok not all of them. Unlike previous local elections when I gave more thought to who I was going to vote off American Idol or what unlucky Survivor’s torch would be put out, this year I feel prepared. On my morning drive this morning downing my Dunks coffee and listening to the radio I realized how much I do care about who gets elected as governor and for the first time in many years feel very strongly about my vote.

My vote has typically been based on influencers like charisma, likeability, and sometimes even a good suit or cute family. Party lines were not something I took enough time to understand. Ironically, I was brought up in a very strong political viewed house and my dad taught us that every vote counts and we can’t complain about issues if we don’t vote. So today don’t get bogged down in the media hype, the attack ads or even the cute suits. Think about what makes you tick – real estate taxes, after-school programs, keeping young talent in Boston, stem cell research or immigration.

No one really likes to complain, so we should all do ourselves a favor and vote. This way we have one less thing to complain about and we can whine about real issues in our life. Like the Red Sox and the weather.

Think about like this – it’s the seventh game of the World Series and the Yankees are at bat with 1 out and two men on. Who do you want at the mound?

Timing is Everything

As both a TV addict and a marketing professional, I always appreciate the value of good timing.

When I checked my personal email account this morning, I found the following email from

The email says:

Dear customer,

As someone who has purchased drama television shows on DVD, we thought you’d like to know that the new CBS drama “Smith”, starring Ray Liotta, premieres Tuesday, September 19th at 10pm ET/PT on your local CBS station.

Bobby Stevens (Ray Liotta) appears to be a regular family man with a nine-to-five job, but in reality he’s the head of a close-knit crew of criminals who plot and execute high-stakes robberies. In seeking a few last big jobs so he can finally leave the business for a lawful family life, it remains to be seen if Bobby can extricate himself from the scores that give him such a rush, or if his retirement will be a forced one – behind bars.

Enjoy the show.

Amazon has mastered the art of relevance – talk about the right message, at the right time, to the right person!

Who knew that my propensity for Soprano’s DVDs would make me the target for another show’s marketing ploys. In addition to emails like these, every time I log into my Amazon account, I’m greeted by a suggested reading or viewing list based off of my previous purchases. Combined with the fact that I just finished reading a glowing review of this new show in a weekly magazine and on the drive in heard my morning radio show hyping it up, I think I’ll definitely tune in!

But the point of this post is that when you get right down to it, nothing beats good timing. You can market the heck out of something, but if it’s not relevant to the audience your marketing to, your message will be lost. This concept has many monikers – relevancy marketing, behavioral marketing, event driven marketing, etc.

But the bottom line is that sometimes we all need to remember to get back to the basics – take a close look at who you’re marketing to. Are they really your target audience? Are they really going to care about your message? Is the message really relevant to them? Are they likely to respond to the message? Do you have information about their past behavior that you can use to your advantage? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you’re a step ahead.

YouTube, You’ve Got (More) Company

You knew it was only a matter of time before Microsoft jumped into the online video sharing sandbox. Constantly looking for new revenue opportunities and arguably a follower when it comes to rolling out new technologies (browser, search engine, etc.) especially those that tap the Web, Microsoft yesterday launched its own video service. They do acknowledge, they are trailing YouTube, which has an eighteen month head start, not to mention an installed base in the tens of millions and a proven advertising model. Not only that, but Google, Yahoo and AOL have also beaten Microsoft to market with their own offerings.

Exactly what demographic will Microsoft be able to capture with its video service? I tend to doubt that YouTube users will switch. I also wonder if the typical Microsoft loyalist wants to bother with online videos yet or ever.

To that point, a couple months ago, Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal took a hard look at YouTube – who’s using the service and for what purpose. Among the tidbits in his piece was this gem – Johan Pouwelse, a professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who helped develop a video-sharing technology at Delft, reports that 70% of YouTube’s registered users are American and about half are under 20 years of age. Are there many Steve Ballmer fans in that gang? How many know who Rob Bennett is? (Hint: he has something to do with MSN).

Bennett, by the way, called YouTube “primitive… and not very engaging.”

For its part, YouTube is not standing pat. Yesterday, they made their own splash, inking a deal with Warner Music Group. Warner becomes the first record company to allow YouTube users to download copyrighted music and videos from its catalogs. Warner and YouTube will split the associated advertising revenues.

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