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Archives: October 2012

Party Affiliation Affects Brand Preference (Ugh)

Today in Almost Certainly Meaningless News: Many Americans consider their political affiliations to be a private matter and prefer not to discuss related issues at family gatherings in order to avoid fistfights; most would almost certainly insist that party affiliation has nothing to do with the products they buy.

But a recent survey by the respectable YouGov Brand Index indicates that political leanings and brand preference are at least somehow related:

The top ten most favored brands for:

Democrats Republicans Independents
Google Fox News Amazon
Amazon History Channel Craftsman
Cheerios Craftsman History Channel
Clorox Chick-fil-A Discovery Channel
Craftsman Johnson & Johnson Google
Dawn Lowe’s Clorox
M&M’s Cheerios Lowe’s
Levi’s Clorox Johnson & Johnson
PBS FOX Cheerios
Sony Discovery Channel M&M’s

Some of these “revelations” are so obvious as to be annoying: Lots of registered Republicans watch Fox News, and lots of registered Democrats listen to NPR. Next you’ll tell us that most registered Republicans prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama!

Most of the list is just confusing.

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Lance Armstrong: What Price Reputation?

Readers: today we’re excited to feature an exclusive op-ed by Gerard F. Corbett, chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Corbett, who is accredited in Public Relations (APR) and is a member of the PRSA College of Fellows, has been a member of PRSA for more than 35 years. He also serves as CEO of Redphlag LLC–a strategic public relations, marketing management and executive coaching consulting firm that he founded–and chief marketing officer of Producers Forum, Inc., a real estate Web startup.

Like many folks, I wondered if the world really needed another opinion piece about Lance Armstrong and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)’s allegations against him.

In case you’ve just returned from six months manning the International Space Station or conducting research in the Amazon River basin, the USADA released a report on Oct. 10, which cited witness testimony, financial records and laboratory results to support its accusation that Armstrong had participated in a complex, systematic doping program and used other illegal methods to gain competitive advantages in the international sport of competitive cycling.

The seven-time Tour de France winner has faced doping allegations throughout his career, but he’s managed to dodge those accusations by pointing out that he’d been tested for banned substances hundreds of times in the past, without ever producing a positive result. Of course, it didn’t hurt that a two-year U.S. Government investigation that examined Armstrong’s role in possible doping-related crimes was closed earlier this year, with no charges brought.

Perhaps by virtue of his adamant denials, cancer-surviving story and charitable work with the Livestrong Foundation, Armstrong always found a way to push aside the accusations and preserve his credibility (and sponsorship dollars). Then, metaphorically speaking, the wheels came off.

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Branding Fail: Ellen Mocks Bic’s ‘For Her’ Line

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Bic’s “For Her” pen series was a really dumb idea. Why, exactly, would women need a different sort of writing utensil—not to mention a premium pen that costs nearly twice as much as the company’s other, 99% identical products? Are we to assume they’re all “For Him”? Bic’s big selling point: this revolutionary line was “designed to fit a woman’s hand”–whatever that means.

For once, we see the inevitable internet outrage as completely justified–this is one of the more condescending exercises in “brandering” (we just made that up) that we’ve seen recently. Forbes even tried to figure out what the hell Bic was thinking and came up empty-handed. 

Here’s the good part: The always-funny Ellen Degeneres caught wind of the stupid story when Bic had the…balls to try recruiting her as a spokesman. She was so peeved that she took four minutes on her show this week to shame the company with a monologue and a fake commercial. We would write more, but we’d rather just let this bit stand on its own:

Touché! (For some more clever takedowns, check out the product’s Amazon page.)

The Ticker: Economy Grows; Slow iPad Sales; Branded Entertainment; Popeyes Chicken; Windows 8

Hillary Clinton Is Such a Tease

Hillary Clinton certainly knows how to play the keep ‘em guessing game, doesn’t she?

The Secretary of State is one of the most popular politicians in the country and the overwhelming favorite for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. She knows how valuable her brand is, and she’s not afraid to dangle a big carrot in front of reporters’ noses.

She’s long insisted that she plans to step down after the election and repeatedly claimed to have no interest in running for the country’s highest office again (we can hardly blame her). But a recent Wall Street Journal interview (subscribers only, sorry) has the political classes chattering about the possibility of big future moves from a woman with more political capital than anyone else around.

Some choice takeaways from the interview:

  • Hillary calls herself a representative of the “American brand” engaging in “public diplomacy”
  • She loves the fact that her job doesn’t require her to blow dry her hair
  • Regarding a 2016 run, she has officially “ruled it out.”
  • She plans to step down if President Obama wins re-election, but says “A lot of people have talked to me about staying.”

And—here’s the big one—she calls the prospect of her staying with the administration “unlikely.”

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Spin the Agencies of Record

Active living brand prAna, known for its functional designs and progressive style, has selected Haberman of Minneapolis as its AOR in a competitive review. Haberman will handle public relations, social media and event management for the company as well as long-term marketing planning for prAna’s first Twin Cities location.

The new Minnesota store, slated to open in early November 2012 at 50th and France in Edina, joins five other retail prAna locations in Denver, Boulder, Santa Barbara, Portland and San Francisco.

Gap brand has eschewed established global agencies like stalwart Ogilvy for a host of agencies available on an as-needed basis. The shops including Peterson Milla Hooks and AKQA. PMH, a Minneapolis-based shop, has worked with Target, Kmart and JC Penney. Yet Gap and Ogilvy still maintain a relationship.

Gap spokeswoman Edie Kissko said,”Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide helped us tremendously over the last year in establishing the Gap brand ‘Be Bright’ platform, which we launched with our spring campaign… Ogilvy also created our fall ‘Icon Redefined’ campaign.”

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AmazonLocal Seeks Dynamic Marketing Copywriter

Here’s a gig you won’t want to pass up. AmazonLocal is on the hunt for a new marketing copywriter to join its writing and editing team.

In this role, you will be expected to produce concise, effective and high-quality copy, while helping develop content for AmazonLocal daily deals. You’ll work closely with the production team, business owners, and other writers on customer-facing deal copy, as well. Read more

The NYPD Has a Cannibalism Problem

In a story too sensational to ignore, a member of New York’s Finest has been arrested and charged with making “Law & Order”-worthy plans to kidnap, kill, cook and eat as many as 100 women.

Let that one sink in for a minute—and note that the phrase “bath salts” does not appear anywhere in this story.

The accused, who used his status as a police officer to compile photos and addresses of potential victims, wrote a series of incredibly disturbing emails to an undercover operator. A couple of his more outrageous comments:

  • “[My oven] is big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs”
  • “I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus&cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.”

Yikes. He even offered to kidnap a woman on behalf of an undercover agent, writing: “$5,000 and she’s all yours… she will be stuffed into a large piece of luggage and wheeled out to my van.”

Since the (obvious) nut job in question never actually put his diabolical plans into action, everyone should feel free to make as many lame jokes as possible.

We respect police officers for keeping the peace and all, but we have to wonder why this weirdo didn’t set off any warning bells some time ago. The story also gives the public another reason to question the department’s notoriously lax recruiting standards. It’s a tough job, but some murderous wannabe cannibal’s gotta do it.

How does one even perform damage control after a story like this? Chief Ray Kelly had better get ready to plan a whole lot of press conferences.

Yelp Cracks Down on Fake Reviews

Regular readers will know how much we dislike the “fake ‘user’ review” phenomenon, so we’re somewhat encouraged to report that Yelp, that notorious bastion of foodie self-promotion, recently made some big moves to crack down on the cheaters.

Want to see the practice in action? Here’s a craigslist post specifically offering to pay for positive Yelp reviews. The site’s famous review filter can only get rid of so much of this stuff.

OK, we get it: Yelp is extremely influential within the hyper-competitive restaurant world. Bad Yelp reviews can be worse for business than negative editorials in local papers. We can see why the temptation to encourage friends, employees and paid “freelancers” to post glowing write-ups might be hard to resist, but that doesn’t make the practice acceptable. It’s fake, cheap PR.

In a possible attempt to justify its dubious “Real People. Real Reviews.” tagline and acquire something resembling credibility, Yelp decided to adopt an unusual strategy: publicly shaming any businesses caught cheating.

Here’s the deal:

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CNN Pulls Post on Voting Patterns of “Hormonal” Women

Whether a woman (or man) votes Republican or Democrat may depend on several factors, including her upbringing, personal values, religion, geographical location, financial situation, etc. Most women, however, strongly feel that their hormones will not affect the decisions they make at the voting booth this November.

CNN learned that fact the hard way.

On Tuesday, CNN Health posted a story titled, “Do Hormones Drive Women’s Votes?” The title alone inspired a bit of online outrage (men’s hormones fluctuate too, you know), but some of the assertions made in the post were even more indelicate, including a statement claiming that women “feel sexier” when ovulating, which causes single women to vote more liberally and committed women to push back against those sexy feelings by voting conservatively.

Damn, I’d better make sure I’m not ovulating on Election Day, or I may vote for the wrong person in my hormone-induced stupor of sexiness. Yikes. Needless to say, after major social media backlash, CNN took the post down.

We know what you’re thinking: did a 19th century doctor/anti-suffragist who treated women for monthly “hysteria” write this sophomoric nonsense? Amazingly, the answer is no.

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