Lucky Charms: Wireless Power to Fly – Part 1

Lucky Charms was a favorite cereal of my childhood. It’s the less spooky vanilla version of Count Chocula, one of General Mills’s monster-themed breakfast cereals which were first released in 1971 with the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry. Count Chocula is more difficult to find these days, especially outside of Halloween season. As for Lucky Charms, which are in no short supply, the last box of sugared oats and marbits that I saw had a wonderfully simple back-of-the-box game:

Lucky Charms cereal box emilybinder.comThe Power to Fly activity (2011):

Here’s How!
Fold the book at line A to make the launch ramp that will send your star marbit on its way. Flicking your star is allowed to see how many times you can follow Lucky through the cloud.

In this digital age, Lucky the Leprechaun believes he can entertain kids by asking them to cut out a piece of cardboard from a cereal box, fold it, and flick it into the hole in the box. Simplicity: scissors, sticky fingers, and adult supervision = breakfast fun.

To gain the Power to Fly, kids do not need their parents’ permission to access a promotional URL or download an app requiring access to Facebook. They need not dig through the lightly sweetened settled contents for a compact disc which must be inserted into a computer (obsolete but memory lane). All they have to do is cut and flick. That’s so refreshing.  (Note: naturally, does have an online game.)
To that end, enjoy this Count Chocula commercial from 1980:

The ad depicts the joy that kids experience from the activity of applying fake Count Chocula tattoos on their friends (again, no electricity required). Now that I’ve covered the first point about simple pleasures, in Part 2 I discuss the specious health positioning of major cereals and other food products so that this is not an advertisement for empty calories.

Fun cereal facts:

1) In 1963, microbiologist Pamela Low developed the original flavor for Cap’n Crunch by recalling a recipe of brown sugar and butter that her grandmother Luella Low served over rice at her home in Derry, New Hampshire.

2) Apple Jacks cereal was invented by William Thilly, a member of Delta Upsilon Technology Chapter and now a professor at MIT. It was introduced to the U.S. in 1965 as “Apple O’s.” In 1971 advertisers renamed it “Apple Jacks.”
It is considered acceptable to add an apostrophe to a single letter in the case of “Apple O’s.”

Original 3/22/11 post updated 6/25/14

Get Mavericky and “Join the Conversation”


crowd people mall emilybinder.comBrand conversation listening is important (obviously).

But simple, vague advice like “Listen to the conversation around your brand” and “Join the conversation” is inadequately qualified. I can find eggheads on Twitter who’ve tweeted these very platitudes. Without explanation, they’re worthless.

“Join the conversation” has become my cringe phrase of choice, replacing my favorite Sarah Palin gems “maverick” and “reign in spending” and “shore up.” Well, maybe those are worse.

Listening vs. Eavesdropping

I heard something poignant; may it guide our mavericky marketing ears: We should listen but not eavesdrop. (Idea from Steven van Belleghem, The Conversation Manager on Jaffe Juice podcast #145.)

A brand that eavesdrops and replies to the most insignificant mentions interrupts the consumers’ conversation, instead of politely jumping in where it is useful. This is where social media becomes a time suck. Plus, actions speak louder than words. Imagine a nasty tweet about your brand from a Twitter complainer who has a major sense of entitlement post-this crazy time of brand democratization. You must be able to differentiate the bitching from the truly problematic:

Properly handled tweet worth a reply:

ComcastWill :
@everysandwich can you send us an email so we can have this resolved for you
2010-11-25 00:46:00
everysandwich :
@comcast Folks I’ve been trying for nearly a year to have you fix the siding you damaged on my house. Please *function.*
2010-11-25 00:24:47

Waste of everyone’s time, please unjoin the conversation even though you’re amusing: Continue reading Get Mavericky and “Join the Conversation”

Cc Multiple Social Networks and Annoy

Multiple Social Networks

Services that simultaneously post updates to multiple social media networks have become more popular. The first time I took issue with this was when LinkedIn added the ability to copy Twitter on a status update, and enabling vice versa by adding the hashtag #linkedin to a tweet. Some people abuse this: LinkedIn is simply not Twitter. The only updates on LinkedIn that you should duplicate on Twitter are few and far between. One acceptable category is professionally related posts, e.g. conference or event information/learnings. However, as wildly insightful and disruptive I felt my tweets at the last Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA) Email Marketing event were, no one on LinkedIn would want to see ten tweets within two hours about email marketing. Further, Twitter jargon pasted onto other sites can lack translation and context:

AiMA Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association Email #aima twitter emilybinder

Check all those social sharing boxes and disperse your status with SEO greed — I will unfollow you. Remember that social = human. With all the noise, why follow one person on six networks if this social superstar carbon copies even half of their posts? I know Dino Dogan says content isn’t king. But shouldn’t it be?

Location-Based Social

Posting Foursquare check-ins on Twitter is usually annoying. The marketing folks I love following who typically tweet excellent content cheapen themselves by announcing check-ins to Taco Mac. Maybe some people think they are giving their online persona a personal touch by sharing places they visit. However, realize that spamming your followers with your every move is not analogous to the heralded Sharpie Susan act of uploading a thoughtful, personal avatar instead of a sterile logo (or worse, of course: the unthinkable dreaded egg head).

The reason different social media platforms exist is that each offers a different experience, and the parameters for participation vary. The expected candor on LinkedIn differs from Facebook. The demands of my beloved Twitter are greater (and arguably more challenging) than a blog that has free reign on length. Twitter is more forgiving about punctuation, spelling, and abbreviations because everyone understands 140 characters is limiting. Actually, this makes Twitter harder and more fun. Economy of words is powerful. If Twitter ever increases the character limit, I will quit. Besides, we have found ways to get around it. For example: Continue reading Cc Multiple Social Networks and Annoy

Paying for the Anomalous 20th Century

Egyptians protest Cairo
Egyptians protest in central Cairo. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA via Guardian UK

20th Century Greatness

I’ve had a nascent theory in the back of my mind– maybe more so a gut instinct or fear — that the concentrated collection of destructive events in the last 10-20 years are a result of the pendulum swinging back after the glorious 20th century. It was simply too much, too fast, too good. I’m no historian, but I think the concentration of war and terrorism and environmental disaster from, say, 1985-2005 has been the universe somehow regaining equilibrium.

I recently researched the bubonic plague. The three iterations of the plague killed ~75 million people. Although it was arguably a deadlier and more destructive historic event as a stand-alone, if you add up several more recent terrors (a non-exhaustive list, at that): 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti earthquake, 2007 tsunami, Iraq/Afghanistan wars, SARS/bird flu other biomedical scares — these seem implicitly worse, and eerily more so on a trajectory.

For lack of a better term, the universe may be putting society back in its place; reminding us that Mother Earth’s tsunamis and hurricanes are greater than we; the smoggy planet is angry after our Industrial Revolution. Further, and more importantly for the global marketplace, we are angry at one another after the catapult into a globalized economy. Rapid idea and information dissemination has — despite the trend of political correctness and increasing tolerance for diversity — perhaps increased our animosity toward one another. (Here, I mainly allude to segments of Middle Eastern/developing nations’ rising awareness, jealousy,  and resentment of Western values, lifestyle, and politics.) As such, I posit the following: Would Islamic fundamentalists have been inflamed enough to commit 9/11 if the previous century had been less an anomaly of transformative, progressive innovation and invention?

We talk about social media empowering consumers like never before. I love Twitter because it’s the ultimate democratization of information. It’s grittier than meticulous, revised blog entries and methodical Facebook posts.

Facsimile to Egypt

Egyptians protest Cairo
Egyptians protest in central Cairo. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA via Guardian UK

Instantaneous access to news didn’t exist 15-20 years ago. Recall that the fall of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block was mainly due the ability to send fax messages. The Solidarity Movement in Poland primarily communicated via fax because their phones were tapped. Technology has at least lubricated and arguably enabled the new social change.

This January, tens of thousands of protesters mobilized in Egypt to demand an end to authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30 year reign. The protests were organized in part through Twitter and Facebook. TechCrunch reported that Egypt blocked (website and mobile site) in an attempt to subdue the demonstrations.

Selected Egypt tweets from Continue reading Paying for the Anomalous 20th Century

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Declining Community Participation

In Bowling Alone, Robert D. Putnam cites numerous statistics to illustrate the drop-off in Americans’ civic engagement and community participation since Baby Boomers’ parents were middle-aged (c. 1950s).

Bowling Alone book cover

In light of such information, and the overarching question Putnam posits about changes in community, there are myriad theories one could substantiate about the replacement of physical communal interaction with modern online, redefined communities. I will focus on connecting one area: Middle-aged to older adults, (in their 50s and 60s) have traditionally been more likely than young adults to vote and to engage in various forms of community (from bowling leagues to garden clubs to signing petitions to campaign participation).

Americans are less active today in such activities than ever before.

Social media use among Baby Boomers 55-64 rose from 9% in Dec. 2008 to 43% in Dec. 2010 (from via David Erickson via Keith Privette).

Correlation or causation? Are 60 year-olds hashtagging #gardening tips instead of heading to a neighbor’s backyard club meeting? Probably (although most Boomers are on Facebook (73%) and not Twitter (only 13%). For analysis on the implications of the overall implications of these shifts in community definition involvement, read Bowling Alone.

Marketing application:

Remember that with longer life expectancy and lower savings rates than previous seniors, Boomers are projected to spend an additional $50 billion over the next decade (via market-research firm SymphonyIRI). If your brand’s target audience is between 50-70 years old, maximize your use of Facebook and minimize your reliance on old ideas about this group. Be like Kimberly Clark: they spent two years overhauling the Depends brand to appeal to the anticipated higher demands of Boomers. By 2020, Kimberly-Clark expects 45 million boomers will need incontinence products, up from 38 million currently. Depends advertising: “We’re very subtle in that we don’t have to explain the problem and solution in the ads. Boomers like seeing the confidence part of it.”

bowling shoes with blurry pins
Photo credit: Benjamin Faust

When designing your Facebook page, remember your customer’s main reason for being there: “Creating and renewing personal connections online is the biggest draw for boomers. About 47% of online boomers maintain a profile on at least one social network.” Boomers don’t want to bowl alone too much, though they have readily accepted the Facebook era. Whereas Millennials aren’t Facebook with the organic, unadulterated goal of staying connected with friends sharing pictures of children and grandchildren; as of today, we’re on Facebook because we know no other way. Connecting with friends is one appeal, but our narcissism is the real impetus for updating our status. Thus, marketing to twenty-somethings is completely different than to Boomers.

9 second attention span, 140 character limit

It’s no shock that Twitter appeals to younger people. We have a tiny attention span of roughly 9 seconds (via Sally Hogshead – love Fascinate‘s goldfish book jacket). One hundred years ago, attention span averaged twenty minutes. This is no accident: People increasingly lacked the patience to sit through PTA meetings over the last five decades. The communal connections or friendships potentially garnered there were hit-or-miss depending on attendance and likability of your neighbors. Online communities that are targeted present little risk that you’ll struggle to connect with like-minded comrades. If the relationship is based on Twitter and never even leads to a real life meeting, it will still suffice to quench that community thirst. Although, Boomers might still need a bit more Facebook love. But the proliferation of Twitter, especially amongst those who will increasingly make up the majority of the population as decades pass, means one day marketers may fondly recall enjoying the 30 second attention span of a Facebook user.

Tupperware Party 1950s

Marketing, Career, Money