Hopenhagen: Marketing for a Real Cause

November 18, 2009

Recently, I saw Freya Williams, co-founder of OglivyEarth speak at the Opportunity Green conference in Los Angeles on their recent campaign.  Based on Cop15, the climate change summit being held with world leaders in Copenhagen on December 7, Hopenhagen was created to drive awareness towards the very important summit.  More importantly, Williams said it was formed to create a community of hope around climate change and the direction we as global citizens want to take.  Ogilvy Earth is an international sustainable marketing firm with big clients like DuPont and the Environmental Defense Fund – and using their large scale influence in the space, launched an international campaign to drive one thing: hope.

As Williams pointed out, “We don’t need to create a movement– the people already have their passion. We set out to create an umbrella under which people can gather.”

Cop15 is one of the most controversial global meetings in recent years, with some arguing it is one of the last changes to develop a concrete and realistic plan to mitigate climate change and reverse the devastating effects of global warming.  Others believe that there is no real chance for actual action but are still using the event as a symbol for the level of engagement needed from the global community.

From the Hopenhagen website:

Success at COP15 is far from a given. 192 countries are represented, and that means 192 points of view. Much discussion will be around the exact emissions targets and who will pay to see they’re met. Given that developed regions like North America and Western Europe are responsible for most emissions, developing countries argue that those nations should invest disproportionately in the solutions. There is also the question of how to assist smaller nations that are already suffering the effects of climate change.

If you haven’t watched any of the footage or seen this campaign, it is worth checking out and signing up.  Kudos to Williams and her team for a brilliantly executed message.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter


Working online from home…Another Scam!

November 17, 2009

I read an article today about how I can make roughly 25 dollars for every link I post on Google.  My thoughts were well of course, Google is reputable; I definitely wouldn’t mind sitting at home on my days off uploading links and making some extra cash.  The website even states “as seen on, CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, CBS and NBC”, well this made me even more excited.  But when I clicked on one of these reputable news feeds it just sent me to a link asking me for my information.  They would never post anything that was a scam.   But would a scam itself state that this is true.  Yes most likely. 

After reading it and re-reading it, I then clicked on the link, it stated, “You could make up to $300-$1,000 per day working from home income library with Google”   There is was again the reassurance of Google a website I use daily while working here at Caster for research. The link asked me simple questions, my name, address, email, telephone, then clicked and boom there it was NO INFO!  “Work from home and profit with Google” Just please give us your credit card information….  I am extremely skeptical of these things so I needed to search further than falling for the $1.97 processing fee.  It seemed too good to be true.  And it was.

On the bottom of the page in very tiny print it read, “Google does not sponsor, endorse, and is no way affiliated with income library or this promotion”. How can they do this?  How can they in blue, red, yellow and green Google lettering tell me that I can make this money?  When Google doesn’t even have anything to do with it?  I went on to read the terms and conditions in small very light grey lettering that proceeded to inform me of the $99.99 onetime fee and the 47.50 per month you will be charged till you cancel.  Also the $84.84 you will be charged after the 30 day trial runs out and another $35.47 that will be charged monthly for signing you up for continued services.  So that $1.97 for the entire year became $1,182.44.  Hopefully people would cancel their subscription after realizing such outrageous transactions but if not could amount to that after charges each month. 

It is sad that so many people fall for these scams.  Right now with the economy the way it is a lot of people are looking to make a quick buck wherever and however they can.  Sadly with empty promises like this one people may find themselves in even more debt then they started out with.  When looking into online work I suggest you read ALL the fine print.

By Kate Kiselka

The Holiday shopping season is looking bleak.

November 12, 2009

The economy crisis will be affecting all aspects of holiday shopping this year.  Sales and coupons will be consumer’s biggest buys while regular priced items may collect dust on the shelves.  People have even voiced that second hand shops for close friends and family will not be out of the question to buying gifts.  Last year’s holiday decorations will be dusted off and reused before the purchase of new ones. 

People will be more opt to buying practical gifts such as clothing and necessities rather than toys and novelty items.  If people are creative that will give them even more options to make gifts this year.  Homemade calendars with pictures printed right from your computer would make a great thoughtful gift.  Joint gifts and secret Santa’s will probably be more popular this year as well.  A ConsumerReports survey on 1,000 adults said that two-thirds of the U.S. plan to spend less this year and that 6 percent are still paying of last year’s holiday debt. 

Some stores have already began trying to make sure that the smaller percent of people who will be shopping, shop at their stores by making sure they market themselves perfectly.  Target.com has begun their free shipping promotion two weeks earlier this year and also has expanded the number of items available for free shipping.  Some stores who have been already affected by last year’s lack of holiday spending might not have the funds to do as much advertising as the bigger stores. 

Barry Judge the chief marketing director of Best Buy has began targeting young consumers this holiday season.  By placing ads on Twitter and Facebook.  By using these social media networks Best Buy can focus on the younger consumers and that is where they are, not looking in the newspaper.  

The key to financially effective shopping this year is to start the season with a budget and a list.  Start with your budget first, how much realistically can you spend this season.  When doing so remember mostly everyone will be cutting back this season.  Then make a list and next to each name and write the amount you want to spend on each person.  Be creative and talk with siblings about secret Santa’s so you only need to buy for one family member than all five.  Try to use cash unless you know factually you can pay your credit card off after each purchase.  Holiday shopping shouldn’t put you in debt it should be fun!

By Kate Kiselka

Will unplugging things really save money? According to National Grid it will!

November 3, 2009

National Electric has a new campaign asking everyone to try and cut down their electrical usage by 3%. This seems like a wise challenge for everyone being that we are still in the middle of an economic crisis!  Every other commercial advertisement on T.V. is in relation to this new campaign, so I wanted to see what the hype was about.  Their goal is to inform people of efficiency and conservation through energy usage.   For some of us this task may be easy, for some it’s a slight change of lifestyle and for me it’s nearly impossible, I don’t know what else I could cut down on!  I am the kind of person who yells at you if all the lights are on, or if you use the dryer to “get the wrinkles out” of one lonely shirt.    Should have taken it out and hung it up to begin with! You would have saved time and money.   I am told I skipped acting like my mother and turned into my grandmother a little too quickly.  The National Grid website gives people many suggestions to lowering their electricity usage.

I have to say this idiosyncrasy that I have developed over the last few years was really the polar opposite of how I viewed electricity usage and recycling habits in the past.  I was still living at home; never saw that white envelope with the blue letters that read National Grid.  I wasn’t responsible for the environment or the cost of living because I was still letting mom and dad cover the cost.  After moving out a few years ago, having a job that paid zilch and realizing how much everything cost and making it my sole responsibility to take care of myself financially, I learned some really easy and simple ways to save money for a rainy day.  I unplugged almost EVERYTHING.  The reason I say almost everything opposed to absolutely everything is because, well you can’t.  My fridge stays plugged in as well as the oven.  I learned very quickly unplugging your cell phone charger isn’t an option, it will go dead and you will miss your alarm going off which will result in being late for the job that pays you zilch.  Plugging the phone into the charger does not work the same if you forgot to plug it into the wall.

Even though I think it’s impossible I am taking the challenge.  National Grid has an energy evaluation available on their website and as you click the appropriate answers that reflect your style of living it allows you to see how much money and electricity you could be saving by lowering your energy usage.  I am personally starting by putting in motion censored lights outside, because this is one light I leave on regularly.  I encourage all of you to take the challenge as well.  See what impact you can make on the earth and on your wallet.  It takes some getting used to but eating dinner by candlelight is more romantic and more cost-effective than keeping that 8 bulb chandelier on!

Posted by Kate Kiselka

Volkswagen and iPhone take advertising to a new level.

October 28, 2009

Volkswagen and iPhone are my brothers two favorite things and now they have officially come together.  Volkswagen has decided to be the first and only car dealer to advertise solely on the iPhone.  No magazine articles, no commercials only iPhone owners are going to be able to enjoy the advertisement that Volkswagen has to offer for their 2010 GTI’s.  The PR value is huge because this is the first of its kind.  What are the other dealerships thinking?

Instead of a simple advertisement Volkswagen went above and beyond, they made a one of a kind racing game through Firement Real Racing.  ‘Real Racing GTI’ is available to download on apples app store for free.  It allows you to choose from six different 2010 GTI’s and race them on VW tracks.  There is one major advantage to being an iPhone user and being able to play/ view this advertisement from VW, you have the chance to win one of six limited edition 2010 GTI’s.  If you win one or choose to purchase one of these GTI’s you will be able to view your music library from your iPhone right on the dashboard!

The next six weeks will be filled with VW junkies, including my brother on their iPhones playing this game because there is no limit to how often you race, and the highest score from each week will be the winner of a new 2010 GTI!  They have even gone a step further by allowing the players to upload their actual races to YouTube and the racers will also be allowed to access Twitter right from the game.

Volkswagen has made this their single advertising move for this car leaving people like me who don’t own an iPhone left out and actually rather sad.  They may be saving money on advertising and this may be an incredible PR approach to selling a car but to me it seems like they are shrinking their audience.   I have a strong feeling though that a lot of VW fans will be investing in an iPhone.   I guess it pays to own an iPhone.

Posted by: Kate the intern

A New Revenue Model for Journalism and Other Online Content

August 13, 2009

As a former journalist, and as an admirer of the craft and of its dedicated practitioners, the current revenue struggles of newspapers, magazines and even web sites that publish their work is a source of great despair to me. And as a voracious but exclusively online reader of all of this great (and even not-so-great) work, I’m in no hurry to see it disappear as publishing companies lay journalists off, eschew freelancers or, worse, go out of business altogether.

Having said that, I’m not going to pay for online content. I’ve been getting it for free since the mid-1990s and I’m not about to start paying now for every article or site I devour. Same applies for music and movies: I watch and listen to whatever’s legally free, and that’s more than enough for me.

And like most humans, I don’t pay much attention to online advertising. Content publishers are well aware of this. They’re not happy about it, but they know.

So what is a possible source for the money to pay all of these journalists, and content generators in general?

Lars Bastholm, the recently installed chief digital creative officer for advertising/marketing/PR behemoth Ogilvy North America, just wrote a column for BusinessWeek that is possibly the most cogent and sensible analysis of what he calls the pervasive “content crisis” that I have yet seen.

Will online advertising ever save the day? “The idea that advertising can support the entire content industry is a fallacy,” he says, and I agree.

With online advertising a permanent non-starter, Bastholm says content companies remain unfortunately transfixed by the concept of micropayments, which he rightly debunks as pure, fantastical, wishful thinking.

He considers a federal tax or fee for TV and internet usage that would be distributed to content providers, much like what has been levied in European nations for years, but rightly concludes that such a scheme could never, ever, EVER work in America. Consider the vitriol currently being spewed about something as sensible as nationalized health care. Now extrapolate that to, “These socialists ain’t gonna make me pay for my teevee and my interwebs!” Like I said, no American politician would ever advocate such a plan.

Essentially, he then asks: Why not do the truly American thing and let private corporations subtly tax you to death? The thing is, this de facto tax would be something I would gladly pay in order to provide livelihoods for creative Americans.

Bastholm suggests the mobile web and broadband providers add another charge to their already complex bills: say, $10 per month to support the delivery of internet content. The content would still be free; your access to it would be further charged.

Now, no one wants to pay MORE for their cable or phone bills, especially these days, but some PR and advertising for these programs that explains what will happen if no one can make a living any more producing the content you enjoy would be effective.

So where do these fees, which he estimates could be north of a billion dollars a month, go? How would they be distributed? Bastholm proposes a meritocracy of sorts that focuses both on the popularity and the type of content (movies cost more to make than text-based news stories, for example, so the distribution would be weighted to reflect that disparity). Such payments, he says, would be “based on a metric that people better at math than I am will figure out. But the principle is simple: You get paid based on how many people like your stuff.”

In the process, the whole business of advertising, he says, will be blown up and reassembled to better suit this new paradigm. Instead of being a “necessity,” it becomes an “elective” source of revenue. As a result, he expects advertising to become much more interactive, compelling and (gasp) hopefully even enjoyable for the user.

This article raises more questions than it answers, but I really like the general idea Bastholm proposes. Especially if it keeps journalists, filmmakers, musicians and others fed, clothed and sheltered. Maybe they’d even have healthcare. But that’s an argument for another day…

Posted by Joe Paone

Truly Competing for a Job

June 4, 2009

I’ve always been of a mind to “try before you buy.” Why commit to something before you really know what you’re getting? It’s why many people wisely live together before they make the arrangement legally binding. It’s why people take test drives in cars. Now, in this competitive economy, the concept is even extending to employment.

A Florida public relations agency is taking inspiration from the TV show The Apprentice to find a new hire. Four interns get a chance to prove themselves this summer in an ongoing contest, with the winner gaining a paying job with the agency. The company gets to see which intern performs the best over time, as well as how each intern fits into the company culture, and will be better able to determine who would be the best, merit-based fit.

Now of course, many already in the working world don’t have the ability to work for free for several months. But wouldn’t it be cool to have the opportunity to come to work for a prospective employer for a few days, get a chance to prove yourself beyond an interview, and give each party a chance to see if it’s a good fit? This would also blessedly take some emphasis off of the interview process as a determining factor in a hire.

Best of luck to the contestants!

Posted by Joe Paone