Archive for April, 2011

Best Practices in Social Media

Posted by Joe Cannon

Social media is getting less confusing.  Best practices are emerging.  Marketing managers are better understanding how which marketing objectives might be best addressed with social media.  This article, “Are You Talking to Me?” (Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2011, non-subscribers click here) suggests five best practices used by companies with some success in social media.  Many of the lessons come from “listening” closely to customers via social media.  The early heavy users of social media are listening, learning, and adapting.  Anyway, the article has some good examples of using Facebook and Twitter that you can bring to a class discussion about Promotion, social media, and market research.  Also posted at Learn the 4 Ps.

“The role of aspiration and the desire for luxuries in fueling productivity”

Posted by Joe Cannon

The often provocative and always interesting Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, wrote a very interesting short article in the Harvard Business Review (May 2011), “The Upside of Useless Stuff.”  My link goes to Ariely’s blog where he reprints the article.  While critics contend that marketing just makes people buy useless stuff, Ariely argues that the desire for useless stuff may fuel innovation.  We also posted this at Learn the 4 Ps

What do you think?

“The Benefits of a U.S.-Colombia Free-Trade Deal”

Posted by Joe Cannon

This article, “The Benefits of a U.S.-Colombia Free-Trade Deal” (Bloomberg Businessweek, April 14, 2011) addresses a few areas where the content here at T4Ps is kind of light — B2B and the legal environment.  The article describes how Caterpillar spotted an opportunity in Columbia and began lobbying to move forward a stalled trade agreement designed to cut back on tariffs on their sales into Columbia, South Korea, and Panama.

Ethics and Marketing Strategy

Posted by Joe Cannon

It can be difficult to break into new markets — especially in the medical devices field where doctors usually like to stick with products they know.  A company called Biotronik found a way to generate significant market share in one particular hospital in southern Nevada.  In fact, while the company’s market share nationwide is about 5%, in this hospital it exceeds 95%.  Perhaps a great salesperson found a way to make Biotronik the preferred supplier and/or they have a superior device and this hospital is one of the few to recognize it.  Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that a few years ago Biotronik hired several of the hospital’s cardiologists as consultants — paying them as much as $5000 a month.

That, in a nutshell, is the background for a story in the New York Times, “Tipping the Odds for a Maker of Heart Implants” (April 2, 2011).  There is currently a federal investigation underway looking into Biotronik’s marketing and sales practices.

The article is quite long and will give you more background.  It might be an interesting example to discuss in class because you can probably imagine some gray areas.  It is probably important to have doctors testing products and offering insights.  At what point does this cross a line?

Consumer Behavior: Economy vs. Sustainability

Posted by Joe Cannon

A growing concern for global warming and our environment began about four years ago and fueled the growth of brands like Method and Clorox’s Green Works.  Then – bam! — the economy tanked.  Now consumers have a decision — do they pay a bit more for a greener product?  It appears that the economy is winning out.  Sales for “green” products have slowed or declined in the last couple of years.  Read more in “As Consumers Cut Spending, ‘Green’ Products Lose Allure” (New York Times, April 21, 2011).

It might be interesting to ask students how the economy has affected their purchases.  Do they think that these products will pick up in sales after the economy gets back on track?

One more international TV ad – McDonald’s (Philippines)

Posted by Joe Cannon

This ad from the Philippines demonstrates something universal — or at least common between the U.S. and this Asian island nation.  The ad doesn’t even need translation.

International Advertising Samples from Lamptan (Thailand) and Dirt Devil (UK)

Posted by Joe Cannon

OK, looking for some funny advertising examples to use in class?  I like to show international examples — they are usually unique and students are unlikely to have seen them.  Sometimes (like in the Lamptan ad) you find a different type of humor.  I am not sure that ad would make it onto TV in the U.S.  The other ad appears more “proper” — kind of what I might expect from British humor.  Enjoy.

Air New Zealand’s Pre-Flight Video Becomes Viral Sensation…

Posted by Joe Cannon

Air New Zealand’s creative agency, .99, put together a funny pre-flight video that took off as a viral video.  Within a few hours of posting the video it was the ninth most tweeted about video on Twitter.  It features Richard Simmons — many of our students may wonder who this guy is — so maybe it won’t work in class without a bit of a history lesson (click here for Simmons’ Wikipedia entry to learn or refresh your memory about the fitness guru.).  It could be fun to show in class.

I wondered if the quirky humor fits Air New Zealand’s personality.  I didn’t know much about the airline’s positioning, but one of the “Guiding Principles” at its website indicates:  “Our workplace will be fun, energising, and where everyone can make a difference.”  Their This suggests that the video may fit and reinforce their positioning.  Then I read about the airline’s risque and fun “Nothing to Hide” advertising campaign — featuring real employees in body painted uniforms.  Also posted at Learn the 4 Ps.

The Debate Over Academic Rigor in B-Schools

Posted by Joe Cannon

I will be surprised if you have not already seen the scathing review of B-Schools in, “The Default Major:  Skating Through B-School” (New York Times, April 14, 2011).  This article blasts business schools for their lack of rigor — and light college load.  It is especially critical of marketing and management.

I must confess, we have shortened our books over time and removed some content; we hear from the market that students don’t want to read so much.  Of course the opportunity to add rigor and give students a variety of marketing activities can be achieved by integrating our cases, online homework exercises, other online activities, ethics exercises, end of chapter problems, the Marketing Plan Coach, and many other extras.

So how did we get here?  Is it because the primary method for evaluating our teaching comes from end of semester student evals — and we figure that being rigorous in class will lead to harsher student evaluations?  Is it because of time pressure from research, service, and higher teaching loads?  Do these additional responsibilities and expectations result in dumbing down what we do?  Do they make us reluctant to assign homework and written assignments?  Are there other reasons?  What do you think?

Are you looking to add some rigor to your classes?  For more general thoughts on this topic, I will direct you to another reading, “What Can Be Done to Boost Academic Rigor?”  (Faculty Focus, April 11, 2011).  For a more specific answer, I offer one suggestion from our text book package.  Our books have recently added Connect Marketing homework exercises (click here for more info).  We have found them to be popular with students and add rigor by asking them to apply concepts their read about.  Connect assignments are self-grading to keep instructor workload at a minimum.  They require students to do some critical thinking and more complex reasoning.


“How Carrots Became the New Junk Food”

Posted by Joe Cannon

Here is a great case study.  This article provides the basis for a nice story to tell in class or reading to assign.  What happens when the company that holds 40% of the carrot market brings in a former Coca Cola marketer to run the company?  Well, he conducts research and then brings on big name ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.  Together they go after new ways to increase our consumption of the orange veggie — and not promoting its healthiness.   An interesting marketing tale is told in “How Carrots Became the New Junk Food” (Fast Company, March 22, 2011).  And the story is still being written — we don’t yet know if this strategy will work and sell more carrots.

The article will allow you to talk about consumer behavior, market research, positioning, branding, packaging, promotion, and advertising.  Good stuff — and a fun example, too.  Also posted at Learn the 4 Ps.