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Archive for August 2010

David Frederick Live on SalesSense Radio

I will be interviewed live on Mike Krause’s  SalesSense Radio Program on September 15 at 12:00. You can tune in at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/salessense

During this interview we will be talking about strategic sales and marketing topics. Hope to see you then!

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

August 31, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Small Business Tip For Using Social Media

I recently contributed to an article on Carol Roth.com regarding how small businesses can leverage social media. I thought I would share my tip with you here as well. You can also see the full article with over 80 tips by visiting http://www.carolroth.com/unsolicited-business-advice/?p=2550

MY Tip:

For small business, figuring out how to effectively leverage social media can be a conundrum of epic proportions. To drive real value from social media, I suggest providing value driven information that can be utilized by your audience. For example, provide free information such as position papers, articles, white papers, research, market information, how to’s, etc. Be careful to not make these sales pitches or a brochure in disguise. Provide genuine value.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

August 31, 2010 at 4:12 PM

The 8 most annoying ad mascots!

I kind of agree with this article. Particularly the BK ad’s! What do you think?

-DF

The 8 most annoying ad mascots on TV today

See full article from WalletPop: http://srph.it/a9SdHl

//

Most people settle onto the couch and flip on the TV in order to unwind and relax. We have our favorite shows and there are even certain commercials that make us smile. (C’mon, we know you laughed out loud when you saw Old Spice’s “I’m on a Horse” commercial for the first time or when Betty White was tackled in the Snickers spot.) But sadly, our tube time is not always without thorns. We often have our eyes and ears pricked by irritating commercials that make us want to turn the channel, hit the mute button, scream or leave the room.

One thing that can guarantee an ad will get on our nerves: an annoying mascot. Remember the Domino’s Noid from the 80s? We still aren’t sure how a spandex-wearing pizza villain who wanted to ruin our dinner was supposed to entice us to pick up the phone and order a pie.

But forget the eighties, we have plenty of our own annoying advertising mascots right now in 2010. Here are WalletPop’s picks for the 8 most annoying ad mascots on TV today:

GEICO Cavemen
GEICO, please hear us. We can handle the Gecko. We don’t even really mind the pile of cash with googly eyes. But please, please, retire the cavemen. When the spots originally launched in 2004, they were clever and they hit the point home: switching to GEICO is “so easy, even a caveman can do it.” We got it. We really did. But after six years of watching the metrosexual neanderthals with major chips on their shoulders, we say enough. It’s not funny anymore. We’re over it. We suggest the cavemen get over it, too.

Quizno’s Costumed Kittens (“Singamals”)
This one just has us scratching our heads. Really, Quizno’s? Did you not learn from your last freaky animal debacle? You know, when you were using that rat-like thing that looked like road kill to sell your subs. Now, you turn to weird little costumed kittens with voices that sound like nails on chalkboard? It even makes babies cry. No, literally. Here’s video of a baby breaking into tears each time the kittens sing the “5-4-3” song. WalletPop’s Ad Rant guru takes it one step further saying the Quizno’s kittens give her nightmares.

Aflac Duck
Speaking of grating noises, this one makes us jump right out of our skin. How annoying is a duck loudly yelling “Aflaaaac!” over and over? Think of your child, tugging on your shirt, saying “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom” while you try to make an important phone call then multiply that by ten. While we appreciate Gilbert Gottfried’s distinctive voice, we could do without his repetitive bleating during our downtime. (In all fairness, we must acknowledge at least one of our staffers really likes the Aflac duck. We promise we won’t hold it against him.)

Burger King’s “The King”
One word is used most frequently to describe BK’s mute mascot: C-r-e-e-p-y. Considering his creepy oversized plastic head, creepy frozen grin and creepy Robin-Hood-meets-Pimp outfit, we wholeheartedly agree. This dude is way creepy. Not to mention he spends his time, sneaking into people’s bedrooms, rapping about square booties to pitch kids’ meals (What??) and escaping from an insane asylum. Sure, Ronald McDonald has the “clown” thing working against him, but at least he’s not so, um, what’s the word? Oh yeah, creepy.

Honda’s Mr. Opportunity
Mr. Opportunity isn’t hairy and angry like the Geico cavemen. He doesn’t make our eardrums bleed like the Quizno’s kittens or the Aflac duck. And he’s not the least bit creepy a la BK’s King. In fact, he’s pretty much unremarkable in every way. And that’s just one of the things that annoys us so much — his absolute blandness and sheer dorkiness. That and the idea that an ad agency would go out of their way to create such a nondescript, barely memorable mascot. It seems people either don’t remember him at all (some WalletPop staffers had no idea who this mascot was) or hate his guts. There’s even an “I Hate Mr. Opportunity!” Facebook page (not associated with this article or WalletPop) and a search of YouTube will find a mash-up of commercials made to look like “Mr. O” got what he deserved in a nightclub fight.

Mucinex Mr. Mucus
My chest is congested. My sinuses are aching. I am miserable. The last thing I want to think about is some obese slimy green guy and his family moving into my nasal cavity. Eww.

The Energizer Bunny
What would a list of most annoying mascots be without the Energizer Bunny. Unfortunately for us, his commercials keep going … and going … and going …

PLUS: HONORABLE MENTION – SPOKESMAN CATEGORY

ORBITZ Travel Guy
Orbitz wants its customers to know all about their hotel before they go. Cue the suited man (with a bizarre mustache and goatee) who also likes to know what to expect. In fact, he sees future events before they occur and narrates each step of the commercial before it happens (“Exaggerated slide, over-the-top fall, no harm done”). To this we say: no one likes a know-it-all and what’s up with that facial hair?

We know. We know. You love some of the mascots we hate. Or we missed a biggie. Have no fear. In the comments section below or at this message board, tell us who would have made your list of most annoying mascots on TV today. If we get enough submissions, we’ll follow up with a “readers’ choice” version of our list.

Written by David Frederick

August 30, 2010 at 5:14 PM

Don’t Tell the Creative Department, but Software Can Produce Ads, Too

It was only a matter of time right?  CAI  – Creative Artificial Intelligence. CAI software developed by BETC Euro RSCG, an ad agency in Paris, can be programmed to randomly generate an estimated 200,000 ads for a specified combination of product category,  type of product, marketing objective, and benefits.

Kind of interesting from a technology, creative and business model stand point. How will ad agencies now charge for their work? Is the price for CAI Developed ad’s worth as much as human developed ads? I wonder….

Check out this article in the NYT on this topic.

-DF

Don’t Tell the Creative Department, but Software Can Produce Ads, Too

By STUART ELLIOTT

Software developed by BETC Euro RSCG in Paris, named CAI for Creative Artificial Intelligence, generates ads like this one.

For decades — maybe even since computers began arriving in workplaces in the 1960s — there have been predictions that machines will be able to perform the creative tasks that usually require human beings. An agency in Paris is offering a new twist on those venerable forecasts, to make a point about the creative process.

BETC Euro RSCG, part of the Euro RSCG Worldwide division of Havas, has developed software that can produce elementary advertisements. The software is called CAI, pronounced Kay, for Creative Artificial Intelligence.

CAI can be programmed to produce ads by selecting a product category (say, soft drinks) and type of product (for instance, coffee, energy drinks, fruit juice, milk, tea or water).

Next up are questions about objectives. Do you want to generate awareness? Create loyalty? Increase purchase? Introduce a product? Recruit customers? CAI then wants to know the demographic target for the ad by sex and age.

Last come questions on the intended benefits of the product. For milk, for example, qualities like fresh, healthy and organic are offered. CAI ponders all those requirements, then produces three possible ads that meets them.

CAI can randomly generate an estimated 200,000 ads. In a recent demonstration, the software brought forth bland and formulaic — but perfectly acceptable — ads that could run in magazines or newspapers, as banners on Web sites or on billboards.

And that is the point being made by the executive who came up with the idea for CAI.

The initial response to CAI is “playful,” Stephane Xiberras, president and executive creative director at BETC Euro RSCG, wrote in an e-mail message, as people “try to create campaigns for perfumes or for chips, and it’s true that it generates fun ads.”

“After this first reaction, they get a little scared,” he said, “when they see that a software program can create the same (mediocre) results in just 10 seconds as several hours of strategic meetings and production.”

And that is, according to Mr. Xiberras, “a pretty scary thing.”

Another year of working on CAI “could turn it into a real tool for agencies and clients,” he said, because the software “sometimes leads to random accidents that could stimulate the creative process.”

It also “provides good examples of what not to do,” he added.

Even so, humans ought not to be replaced by software, Mr. Xiberras said.

“Our industry has been living in a paradox for several years,” he explained. “In a world where it is increasingly difficult to get brands’ messages to emerge, there is a growing standardization of advertising.”

The contention that most ads are “no more than a reconstitution of already existing ideas and forms” led to the development of the software.

Mr. Xiberras wrote the copy for the ads for CAI and Claire Maoui, an art director, found the thousands of images. Clarisse Lacarrau, international planner, and Elodie Andurand, account director, handled the strategic planning aspects.

And Abder Zeghoud, Web developer, and Vincent Malone, executive creative director, worked on the programming side.

Written by David Frederick

August 30, 2010 at 9:21 AM

U.S. faces looming tech decline

While I don’t see the imminent demise and decline of U.S. technology leadership, many countries are making huge strides in technology innovation and nano-technology advances that are rapidy catching up to the U.S. I do believe that if the U.S. does not change course and significant invest and push a technology innovation and advancement policy, we will quickly find ourselves a technology “consumer” versus being the worlds leading technology innovator. This not only means losing out to competent and advanced technology countries in Europe, Japan, and South Korea, but losing our leadership to emerging countries like India, China and Brazil.

From a pure economic and industrial basis, the U.S. has surrendered almost all of its leading industrial leadership over the last 30 years including automotive, manufacturing, textile, electronics, etc. The one area we have retained and built a solid economic model, culture and basis is in technology and services. With the current state of the economy and aggressive growth of other emerging countries, the U.S. can ill afford to lose any further market and industrial leadership. To much is at stake – national economy, jobs, national defense, business, etc.

In this regard, Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini takes a very dim view if things don’t quickly change. Check out this CNET interview with Paul by Declan McCullagh articulating Paul’s position and throughts. Very interesting.

-DF

ASPEN, Colo.–Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini offered a depressing set of observations about the economy and the Obama administration Monday evening, coupled with a dark commentary on the future of the technology industry if nothing changes.

Otellini’s remarks during dinner at the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum here amounted to a warning to the administration officials and assorted Capitol Hill aides in the audience: unless government policies are altered, he predicted, “the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here.”

Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who warned this week that the U.S. faces a  huge tech decline.Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who warned this week that the U.S. faces a huge tech decline.

(Credit: Intel)

The U.S. legal environment has become so hostile to business, Otellini said, that there is likely to be “an inevitable erosion and shift of wealth, much like we’re seeing today in Europe–this is the bitter truth.”

Not long ago, Otellini said, “our research centers were without peer. No country was more attractive for start-up capital…We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in information technology. That simply is no longer the case.”

The phenomenon of technology executives advancing dismal predictions and offering pointed critiques of Washington politicking isn’t new, of course.

For instance: In 2005, midway through the Bush administration, Microsoft’s Bill Gates told a Washington audience that curbs on immigration and guest workers would provide a boost to research institutions in China and India. A year earlier, then-Intel CEO Craig Barrett warned that the U.S. must dramatically improve its education system.

That never happened. Nor did politicians follow Gates’ advice to rethink laws that led to foreign engineers being kicked out of the country as soon as they finish their degrees.

And now, six years later with no significant reforms, it should come as no surprise that the predictions have become more dire.

Deep in a ‘Do’ loop
Otellini singled out the political state of affairs in Democrat-dominated Washington, saying: “I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs. And I think they’re flummoxed by their experiment in Keynesian economics not working.”

Since an unusually sharp downturn accelerated in late 2008, the Obama administration and its allies in the U.S. Congress have enacted trillions in deficit spending they say will create an economic stimulus but have not extended the Bush tax cuts and have pushed to levy extensive new health care and carbon regulations on businesses.

“They’re in a ‘Do‘ loop right now trying to figure out what the answer is,” Otellini said.

As a result, he said, “every business in America has a list of more variables than I’ve ever seen in my career.” If variables like capital gains taxes and the R&D tax credit are resolved correctly, jobs will stay here, but if politicians make decisions “the wrong way, people will not invest in the United States. They’ll invest elsewhere.”

Take factories. “I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States,” Otellini said.

The rub: Ninety percent of that additional cost of a $4 billion factory is not labor but the cost to comply with taxes and regulations that other nations don’t impose. (Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers elaborated on this in an interview with CNET, saying the problem is not higher U.S. wages but antibusiness laws: “The killer factor in California for a manufacturer to create, say, a thousand blue-collar jobs is a hostile government that doesn’t want you there and demonstrates it in thousands of ways.”)

“If our tax rate approached that of the rest of the world, corporations would have an incentive to invest here,” Otellini said. But instead, it’s the second highest in the industrialized world, making the United States a less attractive place to invest–and create jobs–than places in Europe and Asia that are “clamoring” for Intel’s business.

The comments from Intel’s chief executive echoed statements made a day earlier by Carly Fiorina, the former HP CEO turned Republican Senate candidate.

America’s skilled-worker visa system is so badly broken and anti-immigration that “we have to start from scratch,” Fiorina said, adding that too many government policies push jobs overseas instead of making U.S. companies competitive against international rivals.

“Our corporate tax rates are the second highest in the world,” and Congress has repeatedly failed to make an R&D tax credit permanent, Fiorina told the Aspen audience. It’s time to start “acknowledging the reality that companies go where they’re welcome,” she said. (The effective U.S. corporate income tax is 35 percent, far over the industrialized-nation average of 18.2 percent.)

Chris Marangi, associate portfolio manager at Gamco Investors in Rye, N.Y., said Tuesday: “Capital is agnostic. It doesn’t have a religion. It doesn’t have a philosophy. It goes where it finds the highest returns.” The problem, Marangi said, is that many other “countries have a more friendly regulatory regime than we do.”

Written by David Frederick

August 26, 2010 at 8:24 AM

U.S. Risks Losing Global Leadership in Nanotech

Here is a very interesting article from Lux Research on the U.S. Nanotech industry. Check it out!

-DF

U.S. Risks Losing Global Leadership in Nanotech

The U.S. dominated the rest of the world in nanotech funding and new patents last year, as U.S. government funding, corporate spending, and VC investment in nanotech collectively reached $6.4 billion in 2009. But according to a new report from Lux Research, countries such as China and Russia launched new challenges to U.S. dominance in 2009, while smaller players such as Japan, Germany and South Korea surpassed the United States in terms of commercializing nanotechnology and products.

The report, titled “Ranking the Nations on Nanotech: Hidden Havens and False Threats,” compares nanotech innovation and technology development in 19 countries in order to provide government policymakers, corporate leaders and investors a detailed map of the nanotech’s international development landscape. Overall, the report found global investment in nanotech held steady through the recent financial crisis, drawing $17.6 billion from governments, corporations and investors in 2009, a 1% increase over 2008’s $17.5 billion. Only venture capitalists dialed back their support, cutting investments by 43% relative to 2008.

“Part of what motivated our research was the emerging possibility that ambitious new government funding in Russia and China represented a threat to U.S. dominance in nanotech innovation,” said David Hwang, an Analyst at Lux Research, and the report’s lead author. “But while the field certainly gained momentum in both countries as a result of the increased funding, both countries have economic and intellectual property protection issues that prevent them from being real threats just yet.”

To uncover the most fertile environments for technology developers, buyers, and investors, Lux Research mapped the nanotech ecosystems of select nations, building on earlier reports published from 2005 through 2008. In addition to tracking fundamentals, such as the number of nanotech publications and patents issued, the report also inventoried direct and indirect spending on nanotech from government, corporate and venture sources. Among its key observations:

  • The U.S. continues to dominate in nanotech development… for now. Last year saw the U.S. lead all other countries in terms of government funding, corporate spending, VC investment, and patent issuances. But its capacity to commercialize those technologies and leverage them to grow the economy is comparatively mediocre. U.S. competitiveness in long-term innovation is also at risk, as the relative number of science and engineering graduates in its population is significantly lower than it is in other countries.
  • Other countries stand to get more bang for their nanotech buck. Japan, Germany, and South Korea continued their impressive trajectories from 2008, earning top spots in publications, patents, government funding, and corporate spending. Compared to the U.S., all three also remain more focused on nanotech and appear more adept at commercializing new technology. The relative magnitude of the technology manufacturing sectors in these three countries are the world’s highest, meaning their economies stand to benefit the most from nanotech commercialization.
  • Russian and Chinese investment in nanotech yields slow progress. While both governments launched generous nanotech investment programs last year, the technology hasn’t gained momentum in either country’s private sector, both of which have a history of skimping on R&D. The relative lack of momentum was further underscored by the abysmal number of new nanotech patents for either country last year.

“Ranking the Nations on Nanotech: Hidden Havens and False Threats,” is part of the Lux Nanomaterials Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Nanomaterials Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

More info: Lux Research

Written by David Frederick

August 20, 2010 at 9:58 AM

The Death of the Internet

Interesting article from Wired Magazine. Check it out. What do you think?

-DF

Wired Magazine Declares ‘The Death of the Web’: Premature, or Just Wrong? By: Carl Franzen

(Aug. 17) — You are reading these words on a soon-to-be obsolete medium, at least according to Wired magazine.

The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet,” reads the sensational headline to the lead article (or rather, two articles placed side-by-side) of the September issue, co-written by Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson and Newser founder Michael Wolff.

First off, before we get to their arguments, let’s review the distinction between the two commonly conflated networks, as About.com explains:

The Internet and the World Wide Web have a whole-to-part relationship. The Internet is the large container, and the Web is a part within the container. It is common in daily conversation to abbreviate them as the “Net” and the “Web”, and then swap the words interchangeably. But to be technically precise, the Net is the restaurant, and the Web is the most popular dish on the menu.

1: The Internet is a Big Collection of Computers and Cables….
2: The Web Is a Big Collection of HTML Pages on the Internet.

Going off that analogy, Anderson and Wolff are not suggesting that the restaurant would stop serving one of its best and most popular dishes, are they?

Well, sort of: Thanks to the explosive popularity of mobile phone applications and social media, they explain (with the help of one very technicolor chart) people are spending increasingly more time accessing information on “semi-closed” or “dedicated” networks — think Facebook, Twitter, iTunes — than the wide-open Web itself.

Taken to its logical endpoint, this argument might see the end of the Web as the primary vessel of content distribution and information consumption. But Anderson and Wolff don’t go quite that far, instead clarifying that the Web’s time is indeed up, but basically only as the primary digital marketplace, i.e., where people go to pay for information, or exchange some of their information for some of someone else’s.

What will the future portend?As Wolff writes “We are returning to a world that already exists — one in which we chase the transformative effects of music and film instead of our brief (relatively speaking) flirtation with the transformative effects of the Web.”

But as with any grand tech prognostication, more than a few grains of salt are necessary for digestion. The death card has been dealt on many a technological fad in the past, as I explained earlier this year when Google‘s European chief John Herlihy predicted the rapidly-approaching “irrelevance” of the desktop computer by 2013.

Indeed, already, in the few hours since the article went live, other bloggers have begun poking and prodding holes through the article’s central thesis.

TechCrunch
‘s Erick Schonfeld, for one, noted that the Web browser remains and is likely to endure as the most popular method for accessing content on the Internet:

These shifts happen in waves. First the browser took over everything, then developers wanted more options and moved to apps (desktop and mobile), but the browser will eventually absorb those features, and so the leapfrogging continues. The ubiquity of the browser overcomes most of its technical deficiencies. Even in mobile, people will become overwhelmed by apps and the browser will make a comeback.

Over at Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza reworked Wired’s graph and discovered that “it doesn’t even seem to be the case that the Web’s ongoing growth has slowed. It’s rather been joined by even more explosive growth in file-sharing and video, which is often embedded in the Web in any case.”
Plus, as The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson keenly observed when news of this cover story first leaked at the beginning of the month: “It’s an interesting story. It might even have the virtue of being true. But Chris Anderson won’t be the first person to (allegedly) declare the Web dead.” And it’s still here, after all of that. Surf’s up, dudes.

Written by David Frederick

August 18, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Posted in General, Technology, Web