Jonathan Salem Baskin

Walmarting the Category

P&G is slashing prices and attacking new markets worldwide in a dash for improved sales and increased share. I don’t quite understand how this is a business strategy for any business other than Walmart. It just seems like brand suicide.

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Museums: The Past As Prologue

Chicago's Museum of Science+Industry (“MSI") is running a contest to pick somebody who'll literally live inside the place for a month later this year, in hopes that the winner will help promote it to the outside world.

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Anarchy in the UI

  • WikiLeaks shakes the security assumptions of the US government by releasing classified documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • An operation called Project Vigilant hacks WikiLeaks and reveals its source.

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Slaughter All Avatars!

I'm a few weeks into playing Blizzard Entertainment's "Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty," which is a real-time strategy video game, or "RTS." This is a different genre from role-playing games, or "RPGs," or first-person shooters, which I don't believe need an acronym to label their purpose.

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Passive Aggressive Branding

With reports that the oil gusher in the Gulf is nearly kaput, BP's new CEO announced Friday that the company would scale back its cleanup efforts in areas where there is no more oil. Makes sense. Still bad for the brand, though.

There are two problems with which BP must contend, one situational and the other conceptual:

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Interruption vs. Engagement, Revised

Last week in Advertising Age, I tried to argue that we marketers should reevaluate our approaches to "interruption" and "engagement" marketing, as I think we're using both terms incorrectly. Budgets are getting shifted away from the short commercials of traditional media into longer social experiences of new media, like Old Spice's recent  campaign, as if the latter's entertainment can replace the former's historic utility.

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Abbreviated Meaning

When did brevity become a synonym for clarity or truth?

For most of human history, it was the exact opposite. What was brief was least important, as usually the format of a statement dictated the attention it deserved. Shortness was equated with incompleteness, which meant that things communicated quickly were more suspect and were considered less trustworthy (a rapid-fire sales pitch or the unknown threat of someone "of few words" being two examples). The common bias was that brevity could be the same as stupidity. It wasn't consistently the case, of course, but it was believed that someone saying little often meant that they had little worth saying.

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Is Love Enough?

ESPN is launching today a new branding ad campaign intended "to demonstrate our love of sports," according to one of its execs quoted in The New York Times.

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Scary Good

Allstate Insurance is running a campaign in which the threats of trees falling on cars, teens nicking car bumpers, and pets trashing upholstery are portrayed by a character named "Mayhem." I think it's scary good advertising.

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In Praise of Sloth

I've just gone through a very lengthy and painful technology transfer, and I think my takeaway is this: instead of making life easier for customers, maybe a viable brand loyalty strategy is to make it harder for them?

I know it sounds counterintuitive but what if marketers chose to deliver brand "engagement" as habit, routine, and as something so extensively embedded in customers' lives that it wouldn't be worth it -- or even consciously imaginable -- to ever change?

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