Thursday, June 23, 2005

The more things change, the more they stay the same

From a recent Seth Godin blog post:

To date, with the exception of easy (and juicy) black and white scandals,
consumers of all stripes have been resistant to taking action with their
dollars. Part of it is laziness, part of it is selfisness and part of it is
a long history of a laissez faire disconnect between what we spend and what
we believe.

I think that's about to change.

Why does Seth think we are going to change and react to the companies that we find objectionable in the marketplace? Seth even acknowledges that consumers are resistant to change.

From my perspective, "the more things change the more they stay the same" seems more appropriate than Seth's last sentence.

Many people can remember boycotting products at one time or another when we heard a story about how the company had acted inappropriately.

Examples include the use of child labor by a prominent clothing company (can you name the company?) or the conviction of a household diva for securities infractions (can you name the celebrity CEO?). Both examples (temporarily) impacted the companies involved, but the business continued and, given time and distance from the "story" have been able to remain a strong business entity.

Perhaps Seth means that stories can travel faster nowadays and if a story is sufficiently impactful, it could shake consumers out of their "laziness" or "selfishness" or "laissez faire disconnect" and get them to take action.

I'm not sure I agree. I think consumers are becoming more and more fragmented and a story that impacts one group won't necessarily impact others. Are consumers going to "care more" about issues that might not directly inpact their well being? I don't see a trend in this direction, but perhaps Seth sees something that we are missing.

It will be very interesting to see how Seth develops his idea and since he is the leading expert on the spread of ideas, I will certainly be paying attention to his blog over the coming months!

Write On !

Dave Wheeler


Monday, June 20, 2005

Did you forget to send a Father's Day Card?

Hopefully you at least gave him a call on his special day!

If you did not yet send a note, you are not lost. You can still send him a message. Below are some of my thoughts on the subject of Father's Day...

I found a couple quotes that really made me think of my Dad ...
A father carries pictures where his money used to be. - Authur Unknown
Who hasn't "borrowed" money from their Dad? Who actually paid their Dad back? I don't know your relationship with your Dad, but I'm sure he deserves a holiday in his honor.

We need to be sure we take this opportunity to say Thanks to our Dad for always being there for us.

For example, I was thinking back to when I played high school basketball and my Dad made it to nearly all of my games. Now that I have many years in the working world myself, I can really appreciate the amount of effort and scheduling it took to get to those games. It meant alot to me then and it means even more to me now. Thanks Dad.

On Father's day, we shouldn't forget about our Grandfather too. I found a quote that made me think of my grandfather ....
My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.—Clarence B. Kelland

My Dad's Dad ("Grampy") was a man of few words, but if you watched him long enough you could tell what type of person he was. I miss him and I'm a better person for having known him.

Happy Father's Day,


Here is some background links on Father's Day...
History of Father's Day:
Quotations on Father's Day:

David vs. Goliath in the Greeting Card industry !

USA today had an interesting article about the impact that "the small guys" are having on the Greeting Card industry. See link below:

The one thing that was missing in that article was the parallels between the book publishing industry and the greeting card industry. Books are the typical example for the creation of "The Long Tail" where small, low volume books are able to be offered via online retailers like while the traditional retailers are limited by their overhead to "high volume", "best selling" "successful" books.

When will the big guys in the greeting card industry realize that their market is fragmenting at a dramatic rate? If the book publishing industry is any example, probably NEVER or at least not until it is too late.

What does this mean? It means a super opportunity for card designers, especially card designers who make UNIQUE cards that appeal strongly to particular, specialized audiences.

Enter (Hopefully) we will fill that void and be part of the next USA Today article about the demise of HallMark and the rise of the independent greeting card designers.

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, June 13, 2005

When Marketers REALLY ARE Liars...

I had the opportunity to read a prerelease copy of Seth Godin's new book called All Marketers are Liars which is now in bookstores and it got me thinking ...

If All Marketers are Liars (and Seth's title is a bit "tongue-in-cheek") why aren't more of them being sued? Isn't it illegal to make outrageous claims that you can't back up? (Even if it makes for a good story)

These questions made me pull out my notes from something I learned at a recent marketing law seminar that dealt with with the difference between how the legal system deals with "Puffery" and "Truth in Advertising".

The marketing law seminar was presented by ThirdWay Marketing in Manhattan, NY USA and featured Nancy C. Dowling, former Sr. Counsel for P&G for 10 yrs. and in-house counsel for Sears.

Nancy suggested the following rules for [legal] advertising:

  • Ads must be truthful and honest (unless they are clearly "Puffery"- which will be defined later in this entry).
  • Ads must have evidence to back up the claims BEFORE it is published/broadcast.
  • Ads cannot be “unfair” or “denigrate another brand”.

She also emphazied that "substantiation of claims" is not only required but can also be expensive. Examples of substantiation include:

  • Double blind comparison test with at least 300 consumers
  • Geographically dispersed tests to account for regional brand / category variation / usage patterns.

The seminar went on to talk about other related legal topics such as the NAD, FTC and trademarks but the point I'm trying to make is this .... where does Seth address the legality issue? Especially when Marketers REALLY ARE LIARS!?!

The answer was also provided in that same law seminar and it is called "Puffery".

The American Marketing Association defines "puffery" as:

1. (advertising definition) An exaggerated advertising claim that would be generally recognized as such by potential customers.

2. (consumer behavior definition) An advertising term implying gross exaggeration but usually not considered deception because it is assumed not to be believable. Examples are the mile-high ice cream cone or the world's softest mattress.

3. (sales definition) The exaggerated statements made by a salesperson about the performance of a product or service.

I have to assume that Seth feels that every Marketer who read his book already knew the distinction between puffery and legal advertising claims, but if not, hopefully this entry will put Seth's ideas into a little better perspective.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of Seth's books and I wholeheartedly agree with the ideas in his new book (the importance of stories and living the story). In fact, I encourage everyone to read it, as long as you keep in mind that there is more to the story than just what you make up ... there are legal implications if you truly are a LIAR !

Write On !

Dave Wheeler

P.S. Here is a link to a 5 page preview / excerpt of Seth's book in case you want to check it out.,15114,1053410,00.html