January 18, 2008

Mass Marketing Still Alive & Important

An article in the current issue of Fast Company is cited in today's Wall Street Journal's The Informed Reader blog. It seems to me that creating mass marketing platforms in today's fragmenting media world is perhaps more important for certain business categories that need to influence millions of customers daily (e.g., beer, fast food, soft drinks, politicians) than trying to assemble slivers of audience in the even more fragmented web world. After all, there are not many Super Bowl, Academy Award or Olympic level broadly based media vehicles left. And there still is no more powerful marketing communications medium than television.

Ten Things Reality TV Won't Tell You

Writing at SmartMoney.com, Kedon Willis provides a number of interesting observations about the fundamental unreality of what is called reality television. Of particular interest to advertisers is the finding that program producers often do not do thorough background checks on program participants, which has resulted in a number of violent acts and resulting financial settlements. Although the studios use iron-clad releases to avoid legal liability for such missteps, the negative public relations potential for a sponsor is immense. My suggestion: advertisers need to pay special attention to program participant background checks and insist that producers do the same. Other highlights of this very well done piece include the facts that:
  • Reality TV today accounts for 20% of primetime programming on network television
  • Actors are often hired to play the role of real people
  • Celebrities are increasingly replacing 'real people' in these shows
  • One hour of Reality TV costs as little as $1 million per hour vs. $3 million for each episode of a dramatic series
  • Because these programs can draw audiences as higher or higher than dramas, they are very profitable for the networks and have thereby earned an enduring place in future programming schedules

January 11, 2008

They Call It Blogging

They call it ‘blogging’ a word that is redolent of kindergarten or adolescence or of geeky twentysomethings engaged in some sort of mutual electronic ego massage. What if it were called electronic publishing or even better since today everyone likes acronyms and initials EP? Would we---my peers, ‘adults’, tightlipped agers---think better of the practice? We could see EP as harmless diary-keeping, a new form of diary that opens the authors’ words, and thoughts and experiences literally to the world. Some aimless mindless jottings of a child in Dubuque available to read by an septuagenarian in Kirkiztan.

It is clear from what little I’ve seen ‘on the web’, that a million monkeys typing on a million keyboards are not likely, in spite of the old saw, to generate the King James Bible or the works of Shakespeare. On the other hand, isn’t it possible that over time this thing, this blogging, will result, is resulting, in a new form of self expression? Certainly it is liberating to think that one, I, can write something that does not rise to the level of literature but that can be shared with others without the intervening scrutiny of an editor and publishing house, without the expense (or waste) of paper, printing, distribution, remaindering and recycling. As best as I can tell there are no rejection slips in blogging other than the occasionally sharp comments of fellow EP’ers, candid comeuppances intended sometimes to hurt but more often to encourage even the lamest expression of experience, thought, feeling.

What’s the point? I’m not sure yet. But I think that this blogging thing represents something new in human experience, the chance to throw one’s thoughts to the wind and to see in whose branches they are caught even for a moment, to be shared by others briefly until they drift to the end, turn brittle and disappear like the leaves they are.