Jonathan Salem Baskin

Bright Lights Project: Kindle

BookExpo America, the annual event for the authors, agents, publishers, distributors, and assorted vendors of the book industry, just concluded last week in New York City. The gig was filled with handshakes and the tote bags filled with galleys and schwag, or so I read on Fortune's website.

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A Better Forecast

As I write this essay, today's weather forecast is for a high of 75 and a low of 61. I have no idea what that means.

It's going to be nice, for sure, but will it be 75 this morning or sometime later in the day? Will it be 75 for a while or only a brief moment? 75 to 61 is a 14-degree range, so is the spread dramatic or not? Does 75 feel almost like 80, or more like 70? Something in the low 60s isn't necessarily warm but coolish, right?

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My recent essay in Advertising Age prompted quite a response, most of which was petulant and angry. I could have made my case more convincingly, but even with that said the comments revealed a shocking ignorance of recent history, and a willingness to replace reason with bluster.

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It's the OS, Stupid

Microsoft shares cratered nearly 5 percent last Friday after the company announced a decline in sales of its Windows computer operating system. Its mention of 21% higher revenue in sales of Microsoft Office and Xbox didn't do much to mollify freaked out investors.

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Bright Lights Project: Apple

I know that suggesting marketing ideas to Apple is like telling the Beatles how to write popular songs, but the brand that borrowed its name and famous logo from the aforementioned band isn't above input from outside, whether it likes to admit it or not.


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We Don't Want Your Business

Lawn-care company TruGreen fired me as one of its customers last week, and I thought the experience might be illustrative to other businesses on how successful marketing has more to do with operations than it does with creative ideas.

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Bright Lights Project: Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch spent the past year studying consumers to discover that paying for retirement is foremost on their minds, and will spend $20 million launching a new brand platform touting its local advisors' relationships with their clients. It's also going to shift money from TV and print advertising to media partnerships, baseball sponsorship and, of course, an iPad app.

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The Original Crowd

I'd like to skip past any hint of commentary on religion, per se, and talk about Judaism's Passover holiday as the most brilliant ever crowdsourcing campaign.

Passover is the annual retelling of the story of Exodus, which most of us are familiar with thanks to Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 classic movie The 10 Commandments: Lots of good-looking Jewish slaves were working on Pharaoh's construction projects when their savior, Moses, kicks Edward G. Robinson's butt, whacks the Egyptians with ugly plagues, and leads his people to freedom.

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Bright Lights Project: Unilever

You're probably familiar with a number of Unilever's various consumer products brands, from food names like Hellmann's mayonnaise, Lipton tea, and Slim-Fast diet drinks, to its major presence in personal care (Dove, Axe, Pond's). It's kinda like Procter & Gamble only it grew up in Europe and built its empire on an aggregation of locally powerful brand names in each of the countries in which it operates versus P&G's classic topdown strategy of building its global brand names in many of the same countries.

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Questionable Sources

I can't claim to be qualified to dissect the behavior of venture capitalists (and I certainly don't mean to throw them all under the bus, as some of them number among my good, respected friends), but I wonder sometimes if marketers have been duped into believing in a social media liturgy that's actually a cover story for a concerted effort by technologists and their supporters to make money.

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