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Planning/Consumer Insights

American-Muslims And The Advertising Agency Dilemma


The world is a crazy place right now so, we decided try and make sense of at leat one puzzle: Islamic/Arab/Desi advertising in the U.S. Naturally, we contacted Michael Hastings-Black who runs Desedo Films with director Raafi Rivero. The firm specializes in new media and minority markets.

After the jump, Hastings-Black goes through who is doing right, wrong and what your agency should be on the look out for.

1. What are the assumptions that advertising agencies need to wipe away when considering advertising directly to the Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim demographic in America?

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Flashback: Reagan Vs. Mondale And The Power Of Consumer Insights

Tonight it’s Sarah Palin versus Joe Biden. Hot. In 1984, it would have been George H. W. Bush and Geraldine Ferraro. Lets take a deeper flashback to ’84. It was the year that the Marines pulled out of Beirut, Lebanon. Punky Brewster premiered. Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the shooting of Pepsi commercial and the first Apple Macintosh went on sale.

In 1984, Richard “Dick” Wirthlin was the baller to beat. Wirthlin had been named 1981′s “Adman of the Year” and was the president of Decision/Making/Information (bought in 2004 by Harris Interactive). He was charged with determining the advertising strategy for Reagan in the last two crucial weeks of the 1984 campaign.

Wirthlin knew early polls by Gallup and Harris had Reagan leading Mr. Where’s The Beef aka Walter Mondale by about ten percent, but that the distance was closing in early July 1984. By July 24th, Reagan’s lead had dropped to just two percentage points.

Wirthlin put together a research team: John Fiedler; Lesley Bahner, VP of The Qualitative Consultancy and John Moss and advertising consultant, as well as Tom Reynolds, President of the Institute for Consumer Research. The newly formed political Voltron went about collecting data, in the framework of the public’s owns words, to help Wirthlin fashion a campaign that would directly speak to citizens. Focus groups, small interviews and one hundred, one-on-ones were kicked off.

The MECCAS model (“Means-End Conceptualization of the Components of Advertising Stragety) was dusted off for use. MECCAS is umbrella term that refers to a “set of methods for interviewing
consumers about the reasons for their decision choice and then interpreting those responses in terms of linkages between outcomes.” Sounds boring, yeah? But, wait…


So, the team starts focusing in on two things: the campaign theme and the attack theme. Think of two brands going to war – Apple and Microsoft. Apple has been a host of slogans over the years, most center around the idea of individuality and creativity like the iconic 90s/2000s “Think different.” Now, we have the new attack theme from Microsoft – “I’m a PC and I’ve been stereotyped.”

Same thing for Mondale and Reagan. Where was Reagan going to attack? Did he need a new theme? The research findings showed Walter Mondale had a lock on domestic social issues. Ah, those Democrats… Yet, his economic proposals were fuzzy in the mind of voters. They only new that Mondale was for a “balanced budget.” Not much to go on. Meanwhile, Reagan’s economic issues came across load and clear such as belief in reducing waste and government spending. Ah, those Republicans… In domestic social issues? He was the rich guy for big business interests. Yet, neither candidate ruled a gray space – a better America; a secure future for the children, etc.

The Reagan Voltron team understood that the candidate needed to establish a direct link between his position and voters. It wasn’t the exact position of the candidate that mattered. It was that they were aligned with voter values overall. This was big in 1984, though now, such a concept is law. The group told Wirthlin that to win the campaign, the advertising would have to be structured around a strategy. The communications could not rest on a copywriter’s turn of phrase. Forget the specifics. It’s the big picture that counts.

Think you’re under deadline? Wirthlin had two weeks to shape a new, powerful advertising campaign for Reagan complete with broadcast. Now, we all know how that turned out.

[source 1]
[source 2]

Social Networking And Boomers


Brandweek has written an article this morning about how Baby Boomers are enjoying social networks. Ha!

“Social networking sites [SNS] used by teenagers and young adults are also being adopted by baby boomers (aged 44-61). The findings show that 41% of baby boomers have visited social networks, such as MySpace or Facebook, and 61% have been to sites with streaming or downloadable video.”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Boomers are texting, using social media and sending emails from their Blackberrys. However, I was recently working with a big death star media agency on a brand launch for Boomers. They told the client that Boomers weren’t using the web; that targeting social networks was not worth it. They cited some old media studies and a new one that said that Boomers didn’t even know what social media was.

I argued. True. Most Boomers couldn’t define social media, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t using it. I showed thensome real world consumer studies that weren’t created by abstract entities. I cited observational studies of of Boomer SNS such as BOOMj and Twitter and blogs. To top it off, I had to explain to the media company that social media is NOT just made up of social networking sites.

What kind of people or should I say, ostriches, are working at some of these media and traditional agencies? The more you know, the better you can serve your clients and increase your own bottom line. Simple.

More: Social Media And The Ad Biz

For Planners: The NYT Lays It Out For Ya’


The New York Times has its flaws (Maureen Dowd, anyone?), but one thing they consistently do well is info-graphics. Their latest centers around what the global economy is spending their discretionary income on from clothing, electronics, recreation, household goods, alcohol and more.

“People in Greece spend almost 13 times more money on clothing as they do on electronics. People living in Japan spend more on recreation than they do on clothing, electronics and household goods combined. Americans spend a lot of money on everything.

It’s a very handy interactive chart. See the whole diagram here.

Masters Of The Obvious: Social Media Measurement Via Forrester


A new report coming out of Forrester is all about interactive marketing channels. The report shows that of the 33 marketers surveyed (just 33? Small sample, guys), all said they found “strong and growing interest” in social media channels, but also that 68 percent of these folks said they adopt new channels “only after they’re proven.” Meaning, they need this stuff to be measurable.

Dear Forrester:
Sometimes you give us good stuff such as your consumer data papers. As for helping out the ad industry, tell us something we don’t know using your vast resources. Don’t waste man hours and press lines on stuff we are all to familiar with. Thanks.

Okay, just a note: Brian Morrissey wrote up Forrester’s findings for Adweek and I tell ya’ what – Adweek is wasting his talent.

Masters Of The Obvious: Rich People Spend More Time Online


A new Ipsos study, says that affluent people spend more time on line. Erm… Duh. Double duh, even. Ipsos calls this 2008 study “valued” and “innovative” for agencies. Yeah, before you go ahead and download the brief of this “valued” data and the cough up more for the whole thing, lets think for a second… this is common-sense we’re talking about here. The study goes onto to look at mobile use, as well as where/what affluent folk are spending there hard earned cash. Not so innovative if you ask me. How many studies cover this each and every year?

Bob Shullman, president, Ipsos Mendelsohn, said:

“If you want to experiment [with mobile], they should probably be doing it much more in the affluent space, because these people are already doing it. These people are much higher up the learning curve.”

Hey, Bob. I just want to say one thing about that. Yes, rich folk have those fancy phones, but what about the kids Shullman? What about the children? There’s another huge consumer group (be they rich or poor) who spend serious cash on their mobile device and use it heavily. It’s an extension of themselves almost.

Consumer insights can be such a racket. Seriously, just get someone in-house and save yourself tens of thousands of dollars. Puhleeze.

Japanese Ad-Device Knows Your Age/Sex, Displays Content Acordingly


Gizmodo reports that NEC, a Japanese tech company, has unveiled a product that will leave you and your fellow advertisers drooling. A camera mounted above a 50-inch display panel can instantly determine the age and sex of anyone standing in front of it. Then it displays content pertinent to said consumer.

Use that direct mailer you’re working on to wipe your chin.

We first saw (a higher tech version of) this technology in the Tom Cruise flick, Minority Report. NEC’s device doesn’t scan eyeballs (as far as we know). But it does provide interested consumers a way to access the content being displayed. The user simply holds his/her cell phone up to the display, and a QR code instantly sends the phone a hyperlink to the given products.

See the Gizmodo story here.