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January 2013

Cropped 2011 head shotHappy New Year! 


It's the start of a new year again, and it's hard to believe it--children born in 2000 will become teenagers this year. OMG!


Well, ADM is starting off the year with a bang--a nice new project involving an online study with a niche audience. That's always a challenge, but we thrive on challenges here! Hope your challenges are easily managed!

Brainstorming Is Great, But...

Think It Through!      


So you want to plan a promotion for a new product launch or a revitalized brand. You get your marketing and PR team together and hold a brain-storming session.  And some of the ideas to come out are BRILLIANT! Creative, funny, sure to get your brand the attention it deserves, both from the media and the public. Not so fast. Here are some real winners (read: losers) that companies really tried (believe it or not!), and that not only failed, but failed big time. They read like the Darwin Awards of publicity.

  • In 2009, Toyota ran a special online ad campaign for its Matrix car, featuring a fictitious man who alleged to be "on the run" from the law and looking for a place to hide. People who opted in got emails from this person, but the campaign allowed people to "opt in" for someone else. An unsuspecting woman in Los Angeles began getting emails from this fictitious fugitive and "bills" from a motel where he had allegedly caused damage! She sued Toyota for causing emotional distress from the ersatz stalker! Toyota claimed that the opt-in was buried in a personality test that had a link to the "game." The plaintiff's lawyer called it "indecipherable."
  • A marketing company in New Zealand, attempting to sell copies of the video game "Splinter Cell Evolution," sent a man to a bar in Aukland dressed like one of the characters in the game--replete with a fake gun. Unfortunately, neither the bar owner, the patrons, nor the police, were in on the gag. The patrons were terrified and the bar owner called the police, who drew REAL guns to subdue the intruder. Luckily, no one was hurt.
  • Snapple decided to promote its kiwi-strawberry drink by erecting a 25-foot tall, 17.5 ton popsicle made of the drink in New York's Times Square. Sadly, it was a balmy 80-degree summer day, and the popsicle started melting before it was completely upright (the same thing happens to some people on a hot New York summer day!). The resulting melt-down flooded parts of downtown Manhattan and the Fire Department had to be called in to close some streets and hose down the mess.
  • In this era of terrorist threats--both foreign and domestic--one has to question the wisdom of placing strange electronic devices on bridges and buildings around the country. That's what Cartoon Network did to promote "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" in 2007. The Boston police were alerted by suspicious citizens, and some bridges were shut down while bomb squads investigated these devices. Turner Broadcasting had to pay $2 million to the Boston police department, and the head of Cartoon Network had to resign.

Readers of my musings will be familiar with my advice to test new products, ad campaigns and promotions. The bone-head moves cited above did not require extensive testing; merely a day or two of sobering up and asking their lawyers what the consequences could be.


The moral of the story is: brainstorming is good, but not if the brains are so fogged over that they fail to factor in the possible consequences.

Target Marketing

Size Can Count


 The last edition of this newsletter discussed the implications of demographics on the most recent election. To reiterate, knowing your target market is all-important. If you don't, you can waste time and money delivering your messages and offers to people  who don't care. But once you have identified your market, communicating with them can be a pricey prospect.


The key metric is "incidence." That is the percentage of the population that is likely to use/buy/be interested in your product or service. There are syndicated research services that can tell you the size and nature of the population that uses/buys various products and services, but they can be very costly. Many advertising agencies have subscriptions to these services because they can use them for many clients.


Sometimes, demographic information is sufficient--but even then, it is important to operate suspected usage on the demographic group in question. Here's an example.

  • Suppose you want to target African-American women between 18 and 49.
  • Nearly 13% of our population (in 2010) is African-American (a bit more if we include those who are of mixed race and identify primarily as African-American), and since 51% of the whole population is female, then about 7% are African-American women. (It might actually be a bit more than this, but not a lot.)
  • The proportion of women who are between the ages of 18 and 49 is 42.6%, so now we're down to 3% of the general population. (Again, this is an approximation, but it's pretty close.)
  • Usage of the product will vary (obviously), but even if it is high, we're still dealing with a small slice of the population.

Luckily, targeted lists and samples are available these days, and the media tend to know who looks at/reads their shows/publications. Nevertheless, the cost of obtaining such lists goes up dramatically when the niche audience is less than 3% of the population. Imagine how many names/addresses/ emails have to be examined to come up with even a few thousand records to reach this population. Of course, it is worth it to get to the right people, but it is important to factor these expenses into your marketing budgets.


Technology is wonderful, and many people think it is easy to gain entree to niche populations, but that doesn't mean it is inexpensive.

Upcoming Events
January 16th, 5:30-7:30pm


It's time for the IABC/LI "Winter Warm-Up."  Start your 2013 networking with the only international organization for communicators and marketers represented on Long Island. This after-work "meet and mingle" will be at FOUR Food Studios; click here for more information and registration. You can also sign up at and pay at the door.
January 24, 4-6pm
SMPS/LI is presenting the latest in their Marketing Tools Series with a presentation by Sales Training/Networking guru Adrian Miller: "Musings on Business Development, Sales and Networking." This important program will be held at Chris & Tony's Restaurant and Lounge, 352 Jericho Tpk, Syosset, and is free for SMPS members; $25 for non-members. Sounds too good to pass up! Click here for more info and to register. 
June 23-26, 2013 
IABC is holding its World Conference in New York City! This amazing opportunity to meet business communicators from all over the world will be held at the New York Hilton. Click here to learn more about it, and to register. 
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman