Abortion and other Reproduction Issues

drmDRM, for those of you who don’t know, stands for digital rights management.  It is technology that limits the copying of digital media like movies, music, e-books, etc.  Some people think it’s necessary to preserve the royalty stream for the artist and artistic integrity of the piece; some people think it throttles the spread and availability of art.  I will not weigh in on the issue in this post, as I have addressed it before.

No, this post is some advice for the anti-DRM crowd.  You should take a lesson from both sides of the abortion battle.  When the people who are against abortion started calling themselves, “Pro-Life,” what were abortion proponents supposed to do?  Call themselves “Anti-Life?”  Of course not.  Similarly, the other side won’t win any popularity by calling themselves, “Anti-Choice.”

So the people who believe in the free spreading of media shouldn’t say they’re “Anti-DRM.”  That’s saying that you’re against “rights,” and everyone know rights are good, right?  Human rights, right of way, Bill of Rights (US), Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada).

So the anti-DRM people have to find something to be “pro” about.  Like “Pro-Sharing” (weren’t we all taught as children that sharing is good?).  Or “Pro-Proliferation of Art.”  Or “Pro-Fans.”  Those will be tough for the DRM crowd to fight – who wants to be known as “anti” any of those things?  AND, they’ll have trouble playing the same game – what could they be “pro?”  “Pro-Celine Dion gets more money?”  “Pro-You can only enjoy the stuff you paid for in the way we allow?”

Wow – the air sure is thin up on this high horse…


The Apple Brand is Sticky

apple_logoFollowing on to Friday’s post about my frustration with getting my daughter’s iPod up and running, I have to dish some mad props to the Apple marketing people.

Apple’s prowess at design is not anything new.  The iPod came in a beautiful little jewel case with a Set-up Guide that Garr Reynolds would be proud of: about 6 cms square, 16 pages, 2 – 8 words per page, simple graphics, and lots of white space.  The iPod itself is also lovely, as is its docking station.

But it was the other thing that came in the package that is marketing brilliance.  It was a small sheet with two cute-as-buttons Apple logo stickers.  As we all know, most Apple consumers are raving fans of the company and its products – who better to arm with instantly-deployable advertising content?

And it’s more than just advertising – when an iPod owner puts that sticker on their schoolbook or cubicle or bike or dorm room door, they’re identifying themselves as a proud member of a special tribe.  Of course, there are many other ways of doing this – someone can have a Ferrari key fob (even if they drive a Yugo, they are saying, “I belong to the group of people that admire fast cars”), or a Lost  t-shirt (which says to the world, I enjoy having my mind messed with every week).

You should do the same thing for your bar patrons.  Make available some kind of identification piece that lets them show other people that they come to (or even “belong to”) your establishment.  The type of item would vary depending on the type of joint you run, and the type of clientele.  Young people might like ball caps or t-shirts or bumper stickers; older folks might like nice pens or key chains or business card cases.  You can look at the types of tchotchkes given our at trade shows for more ideas – I’m not going to do ALL the work.

I’m a Mac. And I’m a P.C.*

shuffle* Peeved Consumer.

Yesterday we gave our daughter a new iPod Shuffle.  It was partly to replace the generic MP3 player she used to have that died, and partly to celebrate (another) excellent report card.

So we already had a bunch of MP3s that I had purchased over the past couple of years (yes – purchased).  I blithely thought I could just transfer all the High School Musical, Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, and Lenny Kravitz(!) songs from my hard drive onto her new Shuffle.  So I did, then let the four hour charging period elapse.  When we took it off the charging station, presto!  Nothing!

My first thought was that our ancient home laptop (it only has ONE  USB port!) was incapable of delivering the charge to the Shuffle, and that’s why it wouldn’t play.  It never ocurred to me that there was no music there to play, because I could see the files that I had transferred sitting on the thing in Explorer.  So I brought it to work today to try my “real” laptop (SIX USB ports) on the job.  Nope – after four hours, the little “I’m not ready” indicator light was still blinking.

So I broke down and RTFM.  RTFM is short for “Read the f***ing manual,” which is what tech support people all over the world want to yell at DFUs every day.  DFU is “DumbF*** User,” the type of people who often have I.D. ten T problems.  Anyway, page 1 was “Download and Install iTunes.”  And one of the final steps was to “Click Eject before disconnecting” – the Eject button is in the iTunes interface.  I didn’t really want iTunes, since I buy my music elsewhere, had tried iTunes before and didn’t like it, and didn’t think you should need special software just to load files onto a peripheral device.  But whatever – it was for my daughter.

So I dutifully downloaded.  During installation, it made me reboot my machine, which I always hate, but again, whatever.  Upon startup, the wizard asked me if I wanted to automatically import any music file it found the the My Music folder on my machine.  I said sure, because I knew that the only files in the My Music folder were the ones I had just put there for my daughter.  Then I noticed it was actually grabbing EVERY MP3, WAV and other sound file anywhere on my drive.  This includes every Beatles song, a whole bunch of system alerts, a few dozen podcasts, the audio to some of my hour-long marketing lectures, etc.  So I had to spend the next 20 minutes deleting (one by one) every file that wouldn’t be to her liking.

Finally I was ready to push the music onto the device, and the manual helpfully said to click the “Autofill” button, and even had a simple drawing showing me where in the iTunes interface I could find it.  Except it wasn’t there.  Nor was it an option in any of the menus (basic interface design rule:  EVERYTHING should be available through a menu).  I finally found the right screen and the Autofill button, and 2 minutes later was listening to music.

I’m not anti-Mac or anti-Apple by any stretch – the first 4 years of my professional career were spent on Macs, and they were great.  But now I see how this whole zeitgeist that Apple has about simplicity can be annoying.  Sure, the close integration between the player, the download tool, and the store filled with available music is elegant and rich, but what if I don’t want/need one or more of the components?  They each shouldn’t REQUIRE the others to be there.  It’s like saying if I want to drive my Audi, I need to use Audi gasoline and drive on Audi streets.  I predict this model will not last.

Marketing to the Grey Revolution

jittLast night during House, I saw an ad for a new (well, new since last summer) cellphone.  It’s called the Jitterbug.  The ad featured sepia-toned young couples, dressed in 1950s fashions, dancing the jitterbug.  The Jitterbug cellphone’s main feature is that it doesn’t have any features.

It hasn’t got a camera, it hasn’t got video, it hasn’t got an MP3 player, it hasn’t got an address book, or a world clock or games or complex settings to configure.  What does it have? 


It also has a loud speaker and a background noise reduction feature and a well lit, large screen with text that appears in a big font.  Who would these features appeal to?  Perhaps people with failing vision and hearing?  Perhaps people who came of age around the time the Jitterbug was a popular dance?

It’s no secret that our population is aging, but it seems to me that marketers are slow to respond to this shift.  Most of the the ad spend still goes toward the coveted male 29 to 40 demographic.  Shouldn’t we be trying to lock in loyalty with 60- and 70-somethings now and try and keep them ’til they croak?

A bar could do this now by eschewing loud music and mud-wrestling nights.  By being a place to have a pint and a chat instead of hooking up with a hottie or getting pie-eyed on Jager shots.  Maybe even start a subtle campaign to be the preferred location to host a wake?  Or is that too grim…

The Hills are Alive…

beef-ad1…with the sound of mooing.  This is a full page magazine ad that ran last year in People.  (I was in my doctor’s waiting room, OK?)

What the heck is this?  The “Land of Lean Beef”?!?!?!     Who’s the agency genius that came up with that idea?  And then someone said, “Yeah!  We can build a beautiful landscape out of cooked meat!  Ooh ooh wait – we could make mountains!  With a broccoli forest surrounding them!  And for the snowy peaks we can use some vague whitish sauce reminiscent of semen!”

I LOVE beef.  About the only way you could make it unappealing to me would be to overcook it, make it look really stringy, surround it with the world’s most disliked vegetable, and masturbate on top of it.

Who do you suppose at the Beef Marketing Board gave final approval to this?   I mean, you don’t have to be a marketing expert to recognize an unattractive (almost nauseating) image when you see one.  What was it that over-rode common sense?  Was the aforementioned Stephen Hawking at the ad agency cooing in the beef executive’s ear, “mountains are manly and rugged and strong –  just like what our target demographic of 30 – 49 year old males want  to be.  And since the readership of People is mostly female, and they do most of the food shopping, and they want their husbands to be big and strong, too, it’s a no-brainer!  Cows will be getting slaughtered at a frantic pace!”

From the other end of the quality spectrum, my favourite  bit of meat marketing is from a steakhouse billboard campaign I saw a few years ago.  I can’t remember the brand now, but their slogan was, “There’s plenty of room for all God’s creatures… right next to the mashed potatoes.”

Ski Bunny Marketing

hugzoomYesterday, my wife taught me a valuable lesson about marketing.  We were skiing with another family (our daughter and their daughter pictured); and we were wondering when/if the girls would be ready to leave the bunny hill and ride the chairlift.

My daughter’s friend had ridden a chairlift previously, but that was two years ago.  My daughter had never been on one.  The adults were taking turns going on the “real” trails while one or two of us stayed behind on the learner slope with the young’uns.  I mentioned to my wife that I thought it was time to try them on the big hill, and she said something that was brilliant:  “It will be time for her to go on the chairlift when she is PLEADING to do so.”

Often, when marketing to people, you are trying to get them to do something that is strange, new, or even slightly intimidating.  Like riding a chairlift for the first time.  Rather than cajoling or reasoning with them, why not take the Tom Sawyer approach?  Make the activity or action you’d like them to undertake appealing, but slightly out of reach.  If they want to buy badly enough, then when you finally supply it to them, they’re be grateful  to you for taking their money.

There are many examples for where this happens already.  Anything that people (voluntarily) queue up for would qualify, like concert tickets or iPhones.  How could you do this in a bar?  Here’s an idea:

Buy a bottle of extremely expensive scotch.  Put it prominently behind the bar and price it appropriately, like $50 a shot.  But clearly indicate that not just anyone can sample this heavenly elixir.  Put some kind of qualification process in place: perhaps you have to be able to differentiate between two lesser liquids in a blind taste test.  Or take a brief examination demonstrating one’s knowledge of distilleries and single malts.  And of course, when they do achieve the status necessary to spend $50 for a shot, celebrate the occasion.  The act of them giving you a lot of money will then become an accomplishment they are proud of.

BTW, the girls DID plead to go up the chair, and were riding to the top of the mountain regularly and didn’t want to stop at the end of the day.