ForbesOnTech: Web-based Eco Indulgences– Does It get any Better?

ForbesOnTech: Web-based Eco Indulgences– Does It get any Better?

Jim Forbes riffs on online carbon credits as the Holy Roman indulgences of our times. His counter proposal — plant a tree for a loved one — sounds a heck of  a lot better to me than offsetting my fossil fuelishness with a PayPal transaction.

“Now, I can offset my ATV-driving, and red-wine making commutes to the California Gold Country by donating money to some web-based entity lacking recognized audit practices who will invest money in projects that generate clean air, green or blue vistas, and make me feel better by adding their URL to my list of Internet often Interbet visited sites, right underneath CalTrout, Ducks Unlimited, the Sierra Club, the NRA and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.”

Jumbotron magic

While riding crosstown this morning on 43rd Street, in thick traffic, late for an appointment, I saw three examples of outdoor advertising/marketing worth a quick comment.

1. Between Sixth and Broadway, in the entrance to a parking garage, I spied a phalanx of shiny Vespa motorscooters. I like Vespas. My dad owned one when he was a graduate student in the early 60s, and I am an Italian design snob. There were at least a dozen lined up in a row, parked next to a sign that said something to the effect that the space was free for Vespas courtesy of Vespa USA. Brilliant. Owners get a free service for their loyalty, a service that is not cheap in a big city, nor practical. How does one park a motorscooter in a city? On the street? Chained to a parking meter? In a garage? Vespa gave them shelter this summer, but in a way where the row of Vespas is visible to the world, with a little sign saying, in effect: if you owned a Vespa you too could park here for free. I saw it. I saw a lot of scooters — like a storefront dealership … only better.

  • Chinatown — 174 Centre Street, between Hester and Canal Streets
  • Midtown — 412-422 W. 33rd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues
  • Theater District — 1120 Avenue of the Americas, near 44th Street
  • Tribeca — 15-21 Worth Street, between Worth Street and West Broadway

2. On the next corner, on Times Square, the cab was stuck in traffic, and there before me, on the corner of the Reuters Building, was a big Jumbotron sign with a digital Japanese paper doll on it. This was Harajuku — the Japanese fashion movement most identified with Gwen Stefani — who is HP’s latest celebrity (Vera Wang, Jay Z, Mark Cuban, The Chopper Guy) spokesperson for HP printing. There was an 800 number on the jumbotron. I dialed it, and after connecting was told I had 60 seconds to “dress the doll” on the screen. There were numbers next to the 50 foot tall Harajuku doll. On next to the head, the torso, legs, feet, etc. I pressed that number on my phone and the number highlighted on the screen.

I pressed another number. The dress changed. I pressed the number next to the feet and the shoes changed. I looked at the bazillion people on the sidewalks and no one was aware that I was the man behind the curtain …. Freaky. I had total control over the image. Well, not total, but I was messing with it and in control and that was cool ….

Props to Eric Kintz …. great campaign, great stunt.

3. Finally. What is up with ass marketing? I got two major out-of-home ass impressions in the same cab this morning. One from some really bad but new toilet company– which apparently is selling a bidet device that washes your netherlands and makes you feel clean. Clean. Do you hear me? Clean? And which features pictures of six people’s naked rear ends with smiley faces on them. I cannot remember its name. Nor will I try. Please. This is right out of the birth of Public Relations handbook, when the way to sell soap was to convince people they smell so they’ll take more baths.

Then, on the next block, is a delivery truck for Georgi Vodka with a huge picture of another ass. This one with the brand logo across the rear-end bikini. Okay. I looked. I admit it. And while I am at it: what is the deal with words on the derriere of shorts? I delivered my daughter to college last week and while sitting in the car waiting for her to get her ID I saw three women walk by with words on their butts, ranging from the name of the college to “Juicy.”
“Juicy” is not a sentiment I would flash on my withers.

The Guest Informant

Final night in Manhattan, then back to the sandbar for the holiday weekend.

Just did a midnight conference call, then picked up the copy of the Guest Informant, the curiously useless but sumptuous magazine/book found in nearly every NYC hotel room. I like how the “articles” are about the advertisers — but what really struck me is this is the safest print media in the world. As long as there are hotel rooms, and as long as there are bathrooms, there will be a need for the Guest Informant.

And there’s no need for an online strategy — no one is going to log onto their $9.95 a day hotel room wifi connection and say, “I think I need to buy a pair of lizard skin cowboy boots in Soho, wonder if guestinformant.com can help….”

And the name is sort of sinister, like someone is watching. The secret appeal of a hotel room is the anonymous misbehavior that occurs in them (which is why you don’t want to wave a blacklight over the bed before sleeping in it). Why else would they stock it with exactly enough alcohol to get you shattered, provide on-demand smut, and a creepy magazine book that purports to spy on you?

And those of you familiar with the reason I do not stay at the Soho Grand (aka the “OhSoGrand”) anymore (it involved the removal of the room’s door by hotel security while I was inside), are not permitted to share details in the comments.

Pursuing the Web Strategy mission as a Forrester Analyst

Pursuing the Web Strategy mission as a Forrester Analyst

Jeremiah Owyang leaves Podtech — goes to Forrester. Good grab by Forrester.

“Iâ€m very pleased to announce that Iâ€ll be joining Forrester Research as a Senior Analyst focused on Social Computing and Interactive Marketing. Forrester is the leading industry analyst firm focused on this emerging industry, and thanks to luminaries like Charlene Li and team, theyâ€ve produced tremendous thought leadership in the space. Theyâ€ve produced a large growing library of resources, and as an analyst, I will also be conducting research, publishing reports, and advising Forresterâ€s clients. I really believe this to be a perfect fit and am excited to start on October 1st, 2007.”

‘Hey! Nielsen,’ Why Are You Going Viral? Researcher Develops Social Network To Measure TV, Internet, Music, Celebrities – 08/24/2007

 ‘Hey! Nielsen,’ Why Are You Going Viral? Researcher Develops Social Network To Measure TV, Internet, Music, Celebrities – 08/24/2007

Pete Blackshaw posted this link on Facebook. Interesting. I need to check out. Reminder to self to blog on social recommendation/critic engines.

“FIRST THERE WAS MYSPACE. THEN there was Facebook. Now the world’s biggest researcher is launching “Hey! Nielsen,” a new online social community where people can discuss – and influence – TV, music, movies, Internet sites and celebrities. “Part opinion engine, part social network, and part buzz tracker, Hey! Nielsen is the place to share opinions on your favorite entertainment,” reads the description on the beta version of the site, which is currently open only to Nielsen employees, but which will go public by the end of September.

More Falsehoods From Mashpee Leader Come Out

TheDay.com – More Falsehoods From Mashpee Leader Come Out

The Wampanoag tribe is reeling from the news that the chairman of the tribal council, the man who led the tribe to federal recognition, and the inevitable quest to have a casino of its own …. played fast and loose with his resume.

It’s one thing to claim a fake college degree, it’s another to claim five Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. There are sites devoted to uncovering this sort of thing, and today Glenn Marshall of Mashpee probably wishes he hadn’t.

Will this torpedo the planned casino from being built in Middleboro, Mass (a good distance from Mashpee, the seat of the Wampanoags) probably not. That torpedo lies in the hands of the governor.

Ah, local politics ….

And let me go on the record against casinos. Gambling, it is said, is a tax on people who are bad at math.

Facebook users resisting Wal-Mart’s latest Web 2.0 endeavor

Facebook users resisting Wal-Mart’s latest Web 2.0 endeavor

Good piece in Computerworld after Wal-Mart getting toasted for its Facebook play. Interesting to see marketers get slammed as they make the first move into tight communities with their own mores and social customs. Second Life I’ve gone on about in the past, but I can see how a wise college student, accustomed to having Facebook to him or herself for the past couple years, would react to an invasion by any company looking to peddle transactions. I think the appropriate entry point is not through a new application — roommates coordinating purchases — but a simple listening post. In our case, campus tech support perhaps.

“Jeremiah Owyang, a blogger who writes about Web strategies and who is also director of corporate media strategy at PodTech.net, blogged that Wal-Mart shouldn’t give up the effort even though he expects that the “battering of the [Wal-Mart] brand” on Facebook will probably continue. He recommends that Wal-Mart start discussion group forums to try to “segment the conversations about going back to school and even consider keeping folks on topic. Continue to allow critics (you can’t stop it anyway) but try to use the forums as a guide to a discussion about school.”

He commends Wal-Mart for being “bold” enough to continuing to try social networking efforts despite previous failures, and for not abandoning the Facebook site despite the criticism from users.

“I highly recommend that Wal-Mart consider trying a community strategy using a transparent and authentic blog or video blog series that addresses the very brand issues that they are getting slammed on,” he wrote. “I took a look online for a ‘Wal-Mart blog’ and didn’t see any from the company. It’s going to be very difficult to try a community marketing strategy with eCommerce hooks without first addressing the brand detractors.”

Southwest Keeps Fans From Straying

Southwest Keeps Fans From Straying

From AdWeek (tip of the hat to Chris Kobran at CNET for passing the link via del.icio.us)

“Southwest says that online social marketing is a natural extension of its offline efforts to connect with customers. “It fits like a glove on a hand. We were doing social networking long before it was cool and digital,” said Krone. “If customers are digital, we will be digital. If they are online, that is where we have to be,” he said.”

But apparently not monitoring anything happening outside of their own blog.