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Eyelashes Too Good to Be True

Procter & Gamble has pulled a CoverGirl ad featuring a photo of Taylor Swift. From Tanzina Vega’s piece at NY Times:

In the ad, for CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara, Ms. Swift’s eyelashes have been enhanced after the fact to look even fuller, and, as a result, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus ruled this month that it was misleading.

The ad itself disclosed the touch-up work: Copy underneath the photo said that her eyelashes had been “enhanced in post production.” And what ad, after all, hasn’t been enhanced in post production? According to a spokesperson for the NAD, though, this case was different: “The photograph stands as a product demonstration. Your eyelashes will look like this if you use this product.”

In the past few years the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has forced Johnson & Johnson (here) and P&G’s Olay (here) to pull ads for false claims for anti-aging creams, but in both cases the violation was sketchy scientific claims. More recently it ruled against L’Oreal (here) for going too far on lighting effects and post production touch-ups on Julia Roberts’s and Christy Turlington’s skin.

Hmmm, this is tough one. The L’Oreal and CoverGirl ads strike me as more explicit versions of what most beauty ads do: They bring together a young, beautiful person with a small team of magicians (stylists, lighting technicians, professional photographers and Photoshop gurus) to imply that we could all look like that young, beautiful person even without the magicians. At what point does it cross into photo-as-product-demonstration?

Google's Biggest Advertisers in June 2010 (And What They Tell Us About Online Media)

Top 10 Google Advertisers June 2010

Hats off to Michael Learmonth at Ad Age for getting his hands on this sensitive document!

“While the search-spending document obtained by Advertising Age is not a complete list of advertisers on Google, the accuracy of its data was verified by multiple sources with direct knowledge of spending levels. It’s a revealing cross-section of Google’s business that gives some clarity to one of the most opaque areas of ad spending, and the lifeblood of many American businesses. “

Two noteworthy items in this story.

One, Google’s revenues are well distributed: Its top 10 advertisers (in June, anyway) represent only 5% of its total revenue. While 47 advertisers spent more than $1 million in the month, another 71 spent between $500,000 and $1 million, and other 357 spent between $100,000 and $500,000.

Two, Google’s revenues — which represents around half of all online ad spending — continue to skew heavily toward direct-response advertising versus brand advertising. Google’s top 10 includes University of Phoenix parent Apollo Group, Expedia, Amazon, eBay, and Living Social. Compare that to the list of top 10 US advertising spenders across all media:

Top 10 Advertisers Across All Media

Outside of AT&T, they are entirely different lists. At this point in the history of the Internet, it’s hard to argue that the big brands haven’t yet gotten hip to the crazy new technology. The only reasonable explanation is this: The giants of ad-supported online media — portals, publishers and social media platforms — are not offering solutions that do the stuff of brand marketing. Nobody beats search and behavioral targeting when it comes to serving up a coupon when we’re hunting for a product. But clearly the big spenders on the brand side aren’t convinced online ads can turn us on to a new shampoo or shaver, or convince us to walk into a dealership when our old car is still running fine.

@ComcastCares Speaks Out

Battelle interviews Frank Eliason, the voice of @ComcastCares at Searchblog.

@ComcastCares Sample2

@ComcastCares is a Twitter-based customer service channel that’s part listening beacon — Comcast tracks mentions of their brand by Twitter users — and part real-time help desk. As much as actually helping individuals improve their Comcast experiences, though, @ComcastCares has become an emissary of goodwill across the 5-plus-million member Twitterverse: Taking disgruntled (and influential, well-followed) Comcast customers, make them happy, and have that conversation out in the public, for all Twitter users to see.

“I’ve been following Frank’s work on Twitter for a while, it seemed he was always listening to what folks were saying, and when folks (inevitably) ranted about Comcast service, he jumped in, and almost always seemed to fix the problem. Then it happened to me, in October, my service started acting deeply flaky, and I complained about it.

“I quickly got a response, and when I moved to a new place last month, he helped again. Then just this weekend, my new Internet service started acting flaky again, and in ten minutes, Frank had assessed the problem and helped me fix it, calmly, intelligently, and in the grammar natural to social media….”

That last phrase, to me, is the most important. If your customers are expressing their discontent in social media environments, bid for their forgiveness in those same social media environments, using the language and grammar of social media natives.

To see @ComcastCares in action, here’s how it worked for Guy Kawasaki and his 32,000 followers.

To see what happened to a brand that opted not to engage with disgruntled customers in the social media settings where they made their complaints, check out the Motrin Moms dust up.

UPDATE: I Twittered Battelle’s interview with @ComcastCares:

ChasNote Twitters @ComcastCares

Six minutes later (on a Saturday afternoon), @ComcastCares Twittered me back:

@ComcastCares Twitters ChasNote

Chalk up another fan, @ComcastCares! Now I’m off to Twitter all about it.

Acuvue Adds High-Res Feature to Graffiti Facebook App

Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue contact lens brand has sponsored the development of a new feature on the Graffiti Facebook app: One click to larger, higher resolution versions of your favorite Graffitis. The Acuvue High-Res button runs at the base of every Graffiti image. (There are tens of millions of them.)

Acuvue2 High-Res Buttons on Graffiti

When you click on the High-Res button, a message pops up to tell you what’s about to happen — with an Acuvue ad unit to the right of the message:

Acuvue High-Res Pop Up

And what happens is this: The Graffiti image enlarges and (because the resolution is better) comes into greater focus, like that feeling you get when you pop in your contacts and see a more focused version of yourself in the mirror. If you’re the Joker, it looks like this:

Acuvue High-Res Version of The Joker
(Graffiti credit: Rainna Langley.)

(Other credits: Rob D’Alto, Scott Haldeman and Eugina Valliades at McCann; Mark Kantor and Tim Suzman at Graffiti; and Jon Ohliger, Stephanie Loleng, Jana Hartz, Michael Cohn, and Paula Pentogenis at FM. Well done!)

Motrin Moms Campaign Had No Social Media Strategy; Got One Anyway

An agency friend asked for my take on the recent dust-up over Motrin’s campaign targeting new moms. As I see it, Motrin made two blunders. One, old-fashioned bad creative in a post-Internet world. Two, when the campaign upset its customers, it demanded that those customers come to Motrin’s website to get their apology. Excerpts from my note below.

Motrin Moms Ad

The ad creative was careless. There’s no question that carrying a baby, or pushing a baby stroller, or going sleepless for weeks, can cause pain that lots of us parents take Motrin to alleviate. But by talking about slings as a trendy fashion accessory, they overlooked that many parents see slings as vital equipment for an approach to parenting that those parents take very seriously (see Attachment Parenting). We’d never talk about clothing-based religious practices as “fashion accessories.” I’d argue that to the attachment parenting community, calling slings “fashion” is an insult of similar magnitude. This was bad copy-writing, full stop.

I’m guessing no one worried too much about sloppy, perhaps insensitive copy-writing because it was a traditional ad buy. There was no “social media strategy,” so don’t worry about it. TV and print and standard banner ads are one-way, so who cares? The reality is: Social media happens to you whether or not you have a strategy. (I stole that line from Pete Spande.) If you have strategy, you are in the conversation and you prepare for the conversation. If you don’t have a strategy, your customers have the conversation without you, and when it goes in the wrong direction, you join the conversation late and defensively. Motrin landed in the latter situation.

When Motrin’s customers got pissed, they voiced their discontent on the social media platforms where they “live” online. Yet Motrin did not go “visit” those customers (ie, joining the Twitter conversation, right there on Twitter) to apologize. It required those angry customers to come to to get an apology. It should have syndicated the apology, published it on Twitter with @jessicagotleib and #motrinmoms, and published it as a comment on the most influential blogs that joined and accelerated the conversation.

Small Groups of Evangelists Have Big Impact on Book Biz

In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, it’s small groups of hipsters in the East Village that start the trends that become national phenomena. In the book business, it’s a humbler, less fashionable set — leaders of small reading groups — that launch best-sellers (see NY Times).

Tipping Point

“Increasingly, authors and publishers are tipping their hats to the power of 8 or 10 or 12 women (and usually they are women) sitting around a dining room table, dissecting their particular book of the month, then spreading the word to their friends. Along with ‘The Kite Runner,’ the successes of ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter,’ ‘Water for Elephants,’ ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘Kabul Beauty School’ have been credited to the early and continuing support of reading groups.”

It makes sense then that other large brands — such as Johnson & Johnson are investing in marketing to small groups of evangelists.

Code Orange: Parents Share War Stories, Children’s Motrin Hopes To Help

Last month Johnson & Johnson’s Children’s Motrin brand launched Code Orange, a site that invites parents to share experiences of “that slightly scary moment when our kids develop a high fever. A Code Orange moment can happen any time, but doesn’t it always seem to kick off just when you have something planned for your child or your family? That’s the time to take a deep breath, call your doctor and reach for Children’s Motrin.”

Code Orange

It’s quite a feat for a pharmaceutical company — what with the regulations imposed on that industry — to step into the conversational marketing arena at all. Among the rules of engagement for the Code Orange site is this:

“Please keep in mind that the makers of Children’s MOTRIN work within a highly regulated industry. Therefore, comments that pertain to regulatory issues or product issues, that offer medical advice, or that contain vulgarity or otherwise offensive material, will not be posted. All comments within this group will be reviewed before posting. Some comments may be forward to other people with the company for review and possible follow-up. The makers of Children’s MOTRIN reserve the right to not post comments for any reason whatsoever.”

It’s double the feat that they seem to be pulling it off. Several FM authors — Asha Dornfest of ParentHacks, Danielle Friedland of Celebrity Baby Blog, and Mindy Roberts of The Mommy Blog — supplied their own stories alongside 350 member-contributors so far. Other visitors are rating stories or adding comments. It’s a smallish community compared to the reach J&J might accomplish with broadcast TV, but — unlike the passive recipients of an ad impression via TV — it’s an actual community. It’s the alpha moms who never miss a meeting of their new-parents groups, the ones you call for a pediatrician recommendation or — I have two kids, trust me! — a reminder on the right dosage for a sick kid under 24 months. Three-hundred-fifty times 12 people in the average moms’ group is 4,200. In army-speak, that’s around 100 platoons!

RELATED 11/20: In recognition of the power of small groups to influence much larger audiences, book publishers are staging a major marketing effort against book-group organizers.