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Happy April Fools’ Day!

I’m sure most of you have had an experience with April Fools’ Day—either as the joker or the recipient. I thought it might be fun to share a few hoaxes with you that the media has played, and, believe it or not, people bought. I guess it goes to show: you can’t be convinced by everything you see or hear.

The Taco Bell Liberty Bell
In 1996, the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.” Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia, where the bell is housed, to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

The Left-Handed Whopper
In 1998 Burger King published a full-page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu, a Whopper specifically designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new Whopper included all the same ingredients as the original (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day, Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the left-handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new burger. Simultaneously, according to the press release, “many others requested their own right-handed version.”

Los Angeles Highways Close for Repairs
In 1987, a Los Angeles DJ announced that on April 8 the LA highway system would be shut down for repairs for an entire month. This was alarming news in LA, where it’s necessary to use the highway to get anywhere. The radio station immediately received hundreds of frantic calls in response to the announcement, and the California Highway Patrol reported that they were also flooded with calls throughout the day. The station later admitted that it was stunned by the intensity of the public reaction to the hoax. A representative from the California Department of Transportation called the station’s managers to share their opinion of the prank. Reportedly, “they didn’t think it was very funny.”

Well, those are just a few funny pranks that I thought would be good to share. Visit www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/ for more good April Fools’ Day hoaxes.

04/01/2010 at 1:34 PM Leave a comment

Get your business one step ahead

I was reading an article in the February issue of Restaurant Business, and there were some interesting tidbits I figured might be good to share. Even though this publication (obviously) targets restaurants, the messages can be utilized by all industries.

There were nine specifics the article mentioned, and here they are, followed with a short description:

1.    “Get on your soapbox” – Having a solid brand position allows customers to be drawn to your product and service.

2.    “Update your site and start a blog” –Simply put, maintain your content, and it will keep customers coming back for more.

3.    “Create a social media policy” – Even though it may just be a one-person operation, come up with a strategy and use it.

4.    “Build and combine lists” – Start bringing all of your customer information together, and then begin grouping people into categories for future marketing efforts.

5.    “Market directly” – If you know specifically where your customers are, why not directly market to them?

6.    “Do videos” – If your product or service shines in demo mode, shoot it and upload the video to YouTube.

7.    “Mobile marketing” – These days most people look at their cell phone more than anything else, use it to send out promotional offers directly.

8.    “Referral system” – Run a referral program, plain and simple.

9.    “Focus on ideal customers” – Profile these people in detail, then determine what your company gives them that’s important and find more customers just like that.

These days it’s tough to stand out from the crowd, but with a few simple techniques, your business will consistently be one step ahead.

02/25/2010 at 2:38 PM Leave a comment

My first rodeo experience

It was off to the rodeo for me last night, and man was it fun! It was my first time there, and I was impressed. When I first walked in to the stands at Will Rogers Coliseum, it was dark, but loud, with the sound of the MC echoing throughout. It was a major production – there were lights, fireworks and even a woman from Canada doing a handstand on her horse as it trotted along.

I immediately wondered – where do they get the money to put on this show? Granted, our seats were $22 a piece, but then I realized sponsor logos were all over the place. XTO Energy, Lone Star Ag Credit (a GCG client), Justin Boots and Harris Methodist seemed to be the primary sponsors for the night. So, of course, I had to weigh the pros and cons of this marketing strategy, and I decided to share them with you.

1. Awareness, awareness, awareness! The amount of people that see and hear each company’s name is remarkable (I’m assuming the sponsors remain for the entire rodeo.)

2.  Targeted marketing – this one can be a pro and con because on one hand you’re able to reach your target market all in one place (i.e. Justin Boots and Lone Star Ag Credit), but on the other hand you could be spending a lot of money simply to be reaching one of your target markets (i.e. XTO Energy and Harris Methodist).

3. There is a lack of messaging for each company. Thankfully these four companies are Fort Worth-based or so widely known that key messaging isn’t really needed, but if another company were to come in and sponsor, people may not recognize it.

Those are just a few things I noticed from the rodeo last night. If you haven’t gone yet or just want to go again, go online and see the schedule of events at www.fwssr.com. Have fun!

01/26/2010 at 12:05 PM Leave a comment

Mad Men in the real world

Have you ever watched AMC’s Mad Men? Well, I hadn’t before last Thursday night, but I’m definitely going to get it programmed into my DVR now. I had the opportunity to meet Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator, executive producer and head writer at an AAF event last week.

Mad Men is set in New York during the 1960s and follows the lives of “the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell.”

The series recently won a Golden Globe and has a stable of stars, including Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery.

After listening to Weiner speak, I realized just how important, and similar, the creative process is in both the advertising and television. Weiner talked about how he gets his story ideas — it was simply through the experiences he and colleagues have in the world around them. That process is surprisingly familiar as I watch our graphic designers and copywriters come up with ideas.

I also caught another fascinating comment Weiner made — he said the TV show was more about life in general than it was advertising. I realized that, just like advertising, the message is 100 percent in the eye of the beholder. When one person sees one thing, another can see the exact opposite. That’s one of those anomalies that make advertising such an interesting industry – you’re always trying to send out a message that you hope at least one person will actually get.

Thanks Matthew for coming to Fort Worth. It was a real pleasure.

01/21/2010 at 5:02 PM Leave a comment

What an early morning…

It’s 4 a.m. and I’m in a 4-mile line wrapped outside Target waiting for the doors to open. I’ve never experienced a Black Friday quite like this. Before we could even get into the store, people were already walking out with carts full of flat-screen TV’s, toys and various electronics.

I came for one thing – a Christmas tree. It’s hard to believe a silly $25 Christmas tree could get me out of bed this early in the morning. Here’s the thing – the consistent marketing efforts of stores like Target have made it almost impossible for me to pass up a good deal.

I’m not sure if you remember the commercials put out by Target in the days leading up to Black Friday, but they were hilarious…

Needless to say, I finally got my $25 Christmas tree, with a few other things of course. Now it’s time to finish up my holiday shopping; hopefully there won’t be any more 4-mile lines.

12/02/2009 at 1:30 AM Leave a comment

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