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Coke: Product Placement in Books for Kids, or Irresistible Cultural Reference?

At a cafe today, my 7-year-old grabbed Ten Little Dinosaurs off the restaurant’s bookshelf to read while we ate. It’s a cute book. I mean, who knew there was a dinosaur named the CHASmosaurus?!

But it was odd to read a kids book, in this obesity-obsessed era, with a Coke bottle on nearly every page.

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At first I assumed Coke had moved into the publishing business as an underwriter of educational books for kids, kind of like when McDonald’s put Big Mac coupons on report cards for elementary schoolers. But I couldn’t find any formal mention of a Coke affiliation with Accord Publishing; only a mission statement at the publisher’s site that includes vaguely do-goody statements such as “We uphold high ethical standards of honesty and integrity in all aspects of our business dealings,” and a few Amazon reviewers who didn’t appreciate the product placement, given the age of the book’s target readers.

But apparently it was simply an artistic choice by the book’s illustrator to reinforce the story’s conceit: Dinosaurs acting like rambunctious human kids that, as a result, end up extinct. I guess you just can’t draw believable kids these days without a Coke in hand. Now there’s a powerful brand.

Tough Times for Broadcast TV

With viewership numbers down (3 million viewers, or 7% of the audience, went elsewhere in Q4 08); advertising rates falling (the average prime time spot was down 15% in Q4), production costs rising ($3 million per hour of network drama) and the re-run market shrinking as cable networks do more original programming on their own, it’s dire days for the big four broadcast TV networks.

All In The Family, #1 in 1978-79, reached 30.5% of TV households; Desparate Housewives, #1 in 2007-08, reached only 10.9%.

All In The Family, #1 in 1978-79, reached 30.5% of TV households; Desparate Housewives, #1 in 2007-08, reached only 10.9%.

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More Evidence: Clicks Aren't the Right Metric

From Ad Age:

“Simply put, many advertisers in the past gave most of the credit for a sale or conversion — which in the web world could include anything from visiting a website to printing an online coupon — to the last ad clicked on or seen by a consumer. But that means brand-focused sites such as and and even social-media sites such as Facebook and MySpace lose credit because they are often not where a consumer will see that last ad.”

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Save the Date: CM Summit NYC, June 1-2, 2009

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Don’t miss the third Conversational Marketing Summit, in New York on June 1 and 2. A killer line up of speakers is coming together, including (so far): Facebook’s Mike Hoefflinger, Microsoft’s Scott Howe, HuffPo’s Arianna Huffington, GE’s Jen Walsh, Google’s Eileen Naughton, and MTV’s Richard Kang.

Veronis Suhler Revises Down US Ad Spending Forcast, Into Negative Territory

From Ad Age:

“A new report from private-equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson projects that overall spending on media will fall 0.4% in 2009, after an increase in 2008 of 2.3%. The company has revised its previous forecast, released in August, that called for 4.9% spending growth in 2009 and 5.4% growth in 2008. Veronis said the rates mark the media industry’s lowest — and only the second time rates have declined — since it began collecting data 30 years ago. “

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The hardest hit segment will be newspapers, down 16.2% after being down 13.5% last year. Broadcast TV will be down 9% (after last year’s 0.5% decline), and consumer magazines will be down 8.5%. “Traditional advertising spending is predicted to fall 7.4% in 2009, marking the first two-year decline in 75 years, the firm said.”

One of the few bright spots: “Some emerging segments are primed to show growth, the firm predicted. Spending on internet and mobile services is expected to grow 9.1% in 2009, down from 11.6% in 2008.”

More at PaidContent.

A Cautionary Tale: eMercedesBenz Can't Convince Mercedes To Sponsor It (Yet)

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A car-buff friend of mine — who is, by the way, a hip, Ivy-league educated 30-something with an income that would make him highly desirable to most luxury brands — sent me a post that made him sad. One of his favorite car sites, eMercedesBenz

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, pitched Mercedes on sponsoring the site and was turned down. From the post:

“We wish we could say that Mercedes shared our passion of the project, but the truth is, they didn’t. There were various objections to the proposal, the majority of which we believe were inaccurate. Ultimately, however, we believe the basis of their objection can be summarized in a single word: complacency. Mercedes believes that if they already have you as a customer, it’s not worth the expenditure to keep you, due to the fact they’re already adept enough at doing so. They also believe that their current advertising approach is efficient enough at reaching new customers.”

My reaction was a little different than my friend’s. Look, it’s no fun to be rejected, especially by a brand you’ve dedicated yourself to publishing a site about. And, in this economic climate, generating revenue to pay the bills at a small business is a life-or-death proposition. But the team at eMercedesBenz did what most niche publications never get the opportunity to do: They got an actual meeting with the client-side marketing decision-makers at a tier-one global brand like Mercedes. According to Quantcast, eMercedesBenz has an average monthly audience of around 15,000 readers V for Vendetta hd

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. While that puts ChasNote’s audience reach to shame, it’s still a tiny number in the world of automotive advertising.

Brand managers at places like Mercedes aren’t snobs, only willing to meet with reps from Dow Jones and CNBC, and only with *them* if the venue is 21 Club; they just need a level of scale before they can have a serious talk with you. The act of doing business with a partner takes resources — time, employees and mental energy — even before the first dollar is spent. In an economic moment when most companies are cutting costs and scaling back staff, most companies (including luxury brands) are feeling pressure to reduce their number of partners rather than add new ones.

eMercedesBenz Team: I can relate to your disappointment, but you should also take pride in your success. You made it to the table. Keep at it — you’ll get the business eventually. As my colleague James Gross

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likes to say, “making diamonds takes time and pressure.”

Customer Loyalty v. Customer Satisfaction

Rohit Bhargava posits that good service alone won’t win lasting loyalty. A big part is that emotional thing called brand affinity.

“The fact is, in today’s market customer satisfaction doesn’t matter as much as customer loyalty. So how do you generate this loyalty? A small part of that may be your customer service. A greater part is whether your product or service actually delivers. The rest depends on the personality of your brand and whether it gives people a sense of belonging and participation that makes them unlikely to switch no matter what else comes along. That last part is what word of mouth marketing focuses on. It’s what social media can be great at igniting. Most importantly, it’s the one thing that only the best companies ever figure out.”

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Tips from P. Diddy on Building Community

The P. Diddy Technique is a simple 3-step regimen, according to Bob Duffy at Conversations Matter

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1. Build a posse

2. Throw awesome parties

3. Go on road trips

For the record, I get the sense that Sean Combs has no official relationship to this technique or to Bob Duffy. But Duffy’s advice is excellent: Know the influencers in your business ecosystem, use social media tools like Twitter to follow them and interact with them, add value to “the party,” and get out of your cubicle — both physically and metaphorically — to engage with your customers, partners and fellow travelers.

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Verizon, Next New Networks & FM Launch $99 Music Videos

Billboard coverage here Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom full .

Wired interview with Next New’s Fred Siebert here.

And from CNET:

“$99 Music Videos Network, a joint venture of Next New Networks and Verizon, launched Thursday in the hope that it can transform the way music videos are distributed. According to the company, each Thursday it will debut one music video and a ‘making of’ clip and make them available through YouTube and iTunes. Eventually, the company hopes to partner new artists and independent filmmakers to create videos on just $99 (thus the name). The first music video available on the site is ‘The Sun Song’ from La Strada.”

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The Cheetos / Boing Boing Video commercial (below) is, as they say at Boing Boing, thoroughly and unapologetic-ly “boingy.” My favorite part, though (media-marketing geek that I am) is Xeni Jardin’s disclosure on the sponsorship. “A disclaimer for the capitalist entertainment pellet above: This Boing Boing Video episode is a paid ad for Cheetos. This is the third in a six-part series of security bulletins from the long-lost Communist enclave of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf.”

Capitalist entertainment pellet. I’m going to steal that phrase and use it every chance I get.

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