Friday, January 13, 2012

We are the world

I was lucky enough to participate in a discussion yesterday led by Paul Bloom, Chief Technology Officer from IBM. He posited that with the growth of mobile devices there would be no "Digital Divide" in 5 years. Meaning that a vast majority of the population world-wide will have access to the internet and no subgroup will be severely underrepresented.

Certainly the potential is there. Mobile devices are becoming ever more affordable. The infrastructure to connect these devices is fairly easy to set up and more affordable that traditional telecommunications networks. 

So the question becomes, what happens to the world when nearly 7 billion people are connected to the internet?

How does that change not just communications, but business, health care, politics, and our world?

Obviously politics will play a role in this. I can't imagine the North Korean and Iranian governments suddenly handing iPads to every citizen and letting them have unfettered access to the internet.

But if subsistence farmers in Africa can talk to agriculture specialists in Iowa, or a village doctor has access to the technology at Mayo Clinic, opportunities abound.

It's a brave new world, kiddoes. Are you ready for it?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ford's on fire

And not the way they were forty years ago when Pintos were exploding on highways and byways across the country.

In the category that matters most when it comes to volume in the U.S. Ford has laid down the gauntlet at this year's North American International Auto Show with the 2013 Fusion.

Not content to have Hyundai be the style leader in the category, they've updated the shape with a style that appears to be both contemporary and timeless without being generic.

Not content to have Toyota be the green leader in the category, they've updated their hybrid to reach 47 mpg city and added an electric model with a range extending gas motor that gets the equivalent of 100 mpg.

Not content to just offer something for the ecoheads, there's an available 2.0 liter engine that makes nearly 240 hp and can be had with all-wheel drive.

Last year when I bought my Audi, the Fusion was a very close second. With the new styling, engine options and other updates, it goes right to the top of my list when I start shopping again next year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thinning the herd

Obesity is a health problem in the U.S. But for cities and states who have to pay for the effects of obesity through increased health care costs, it's an economic one. Thus, we're seeing a rash of new campaigns designed to scare people into eating less.

This effort from New York City is drawing criticism because it's "graphic" use of an amputee to demonstrate the effects of type 2 diabetes that results from eating too many super-sized fast food meals.

I don't really have a problem with the image. It's more with the strategy and tone. 

Yes, sometimes in order to get people to see the truly destructive nature of their behavior we have to have an intervention. But usually those are held in private with a few close friends and family members shining a light on the ugly truth of one's life.

Public shaming rarely has positive social effects.

My other issue is with the ham-handed copywriting and artless design.

Some may compare this to the "Truth" anti-smoking campaign that used much more graphic images and has been effective at keeping kids from starting to smoke, but there's one key difference.

In this ad, you're the bad guy. You made the choice to eat and drink to much. In the Truth campaign, the Tobacco companies are the target. Having a "devil" tempting you makes it easier rationalize walking away from something you desire.

Obesity is a public health and economic problem that needs to be dealt with. This is just the wrong way to go about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The question is...

The quality of questions we ask determines the level of the knowledge we gain.

If you want to get more out of work, school, meetings, life; learn to ask better questions.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's in a name?

Shakespeare famously wrote, "That which we call a rose. By any other name would still smell as sweet."

This is great advice for marketers, and the folks at Sunsweet have taken it to heart.

Remember prunes? Yeah, those wrinkly things that old people eat to help them go? Well, it seems as though they weren't selling so well to the younger generations. So rather than just trying to reposition prunes, they've renamed them.

Prunes are now, dried plums. Perfect. We like plums. We like dried fruit.

And now they've taken it one step further and consumerized them, creating Plum Amazins. They're chopped dried plums and a little sunflower oil.

New form. New positioning. New name. New life.

Well done.