Archive for July, 2006

Gibson Guitars

Friday, 28 July 2006; 10:30

Nashville is filled to its gills with guitars — and terrible guitar pickers. There are so many guitars badly played that the coffee house I frequented while living there finally imposed a “No Guitars!” rule. (The vote was unanimous among us, the regulars.) But instead of hurting your ears with “Mom’s in prison and my dog just died” picking and grinning, Gibson Guitars takes you on a video tour of the Gibson factory and a bit of Nashville. (And isn’t that what’s-his-name from Cheers? Yea, it is! It’s Norm!)

While you’re there, take a few minutes and look through Gibson’s Video Vault. The first video is of Joan Jett and The Blackhearts singing A.C.D.C. Also be certain to enter the contests. Even I’d like a Les Paul.

(By the way, Nashville is the most god-awful and racist city in which I have ever lived. That was one place I could not wait to see in my car’s rearview mirror.)

Home page: Gibson

Les Paul Goddess guitar graphic

NYSE

Friday, 28 July 2006; 9:40

I must remember to keep my expectations low. With all the billions and billions of dollars traded each day at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), one might expect a few thousand of of those dollars to be well-spent on a very nice online promotion. Not! Instead, we find the NYSE has discovered a way to make yesterday’s [27 July 06] special ringing of the day’s opening bell by Accenture, celebrating its fifth year of listing, a real yawner. You can “virtually” ring The Bell(s) for yourself here.

Okay, I’ll just take a deep breath. I’ve been here before. That’s why I have a closet full of wingtip shoes. Business is supposed to be boring, right? (Okay, so one pair of my wingtips are actually Doc Martens.) Keeping with that tradition of boredom, we also find NYSE 4 On The Floor and its “Exclusive insights from global leaders.” Boring!

On the other hand, the NYSE does recognize the importance of timeliness in business. To that end, it provides Before the Bell, a video broadcast from the trading floor by CNBC’s Bob Pisani each business morning at 9 AM (EDT). It also makes available Market Pulse and Market Wrap from its page of From the Floor webcasts. The index page for all its webcasts can be found here.

That’s it. That’s all I have to say about that.

Home page: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Ringing of NYSE opening bell graphic

Raid Insecticides (Astero-Raids)

Thursday, 27 July 2006; 15:24

We often joke here in North Carolina that the mosquito is our state bird. And living here on the state’s southernmost coast where it is almost always warm and humid, that means there are lots of bugs of every variety — including roaches. Maybe seeing them outside earlier today precipitated typing in Raid.com. (No, that won’t get you there. They didn’t think to register the domain name. Duh!)

I don’t know what I expected, but I did not expect an almost entirely static site. After all, bugs move around alot — until they’re squished. Maybe that’s why the little multimedia and interactive content I found at Raid’s site is its Play Astero-Raids game. Kill all the little suckers you can before they get you. (If you do not have it already installed, you will need to download Adobe/Macromedia Shockwave to play.)

Home page: KillsBugsDead.com

Raid fumigator can graphic Raid spray can graphic Raid spray can 03 Roach spray can 04

EverythingGirl.com

Thursday, 27 July 2006; 14:10

PixelChix? Polly Pocket? Barbie? Yes, all those famous young ladies and more at EverythingGirl.com. This site is part of the Mattel empire, but is clearly for girls only. (So what am I doing there? Miss Scarlett, I dunno nuthin’ ’bout little girls!)

The site is blatantly commercial, and if you have read other postings here, you likely have an idea about where The Distillery stands on advertising directly to children. It is most definitely frowned upon. Children simply are not capable of exercising good consumer judgment or making somewhat sound purchasing decisions until they are in their lower- to mid-teen years. And with parents today seeming to pay little attention to what their kids are paying attention, I have to wonder about my own field — marketing. Are we really that bad? I’m afraid so.

That noted, it is refreshing to see a Parents Section at Barbie.com. And, some very good advice is offered parents. The Distillery strongly suggests that parents read and follow the guidelines to keep their little girl(s) safe online.

However, do you sit down with your little girl(s) the entire time they are allowed to surf the internet? Have you installed parental control software? Do you use the content control features of your browser? If you can answer “No” to any of those questions, you might pause a moment and give the issue — and your daughter’s safety — a bit more thought.

Let me now put aside my self-righteous marketing cap and look at the site as might a little girl. (Once again I remind you that I don’t know anything about little girls. I’ve never even been around them!) The sites are very well designed for their target audience. Each is loaded with lots of pink and pastel colors. The soundtracks are certainly loud enough. There are plenty of bright and sparkly things, several games and activities, and lots of places to click and explore.

In other words, EverythingGirl.com and its “sister sites” probably will hold a child’s attention for a decent amount of time. Beyond that, and now that you’ve been pointed to the sites, I’ll let you think and act as you feel best regarding blatant online promotions targeting little girls, your daughters, and their internet access and activities. But as was always said at the beginning of Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Home page: EverythingGirl.com

What a minute here! Blatant sexism is running rampant! There’s no EverythingBoy.com! Bummer. What’s up with that, Mattel?

Parental Internet Safety graphic

Cessna Airplanes

Thursday, 27 July 2006; 12:11

The stereotypical image of a Cessna that most of us carry around in our memories is that of a single-engine putt-putt plane flying just above our heads. However, Cessna offers planes far more advanced, including some very fine jets. (As I recall from a Wall Street Journal article many years ago, Cessna decided to compete with Learjet in that particular market segment. I may well be mistaken, but one of the main selling points was a lower price point for an equivalent plane.)

Like Learjet, Cessna understands that buying a plane — single-engine prop or two-engine jet — is not at all like buying a car. We do not see Learjet or Cessna ads on TV. Neither is exactly a mass market product. However, there are some superb Cessna promotional videos online. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

Cessna Skyhawk
Cessna Caravan
Cessna Citation Bravo
Cessna Skylane

One more thing — as another college buddy (J.K.M.) said long ago, don’t ever buy an airplane that doesn’t have a bathroom. I don’t know about you, but that certainly seems to be very wise advice when one considers the alternatives. (Uh-oh! We forgot the bottle!!!)

Home page: Cessna

Cessna Citation Encore graphic

Cessna Skyhawk graphic

2006 PGA Championship

Wednesday, 26 July 2006; 14:02

The Tiger has roared once again. Most recently it was at the British Open, but can he be the biggest, baddest cat again? Might he be driven into the rough or will he iron flat the PGA Championship, too? (He used his driver only once during the 2006 British Open.) Given his ability to avoid the bunkers at last year’s Open, will he need the free Blast Out of Bunkers advice offered at the PGA Championship web site?

If not that, he has a collection of golfing instructional videos from which to chose at PGA.com’s Improve Your Game. And should he find himself playing on another “Tiger-proofed” course, he can always listen to audio descriptions of each hole, like this one for Hole No. 1.

If in need of a bit of inspiration, he can view Jack’s Insights on the PGA.com home page. Should he break a club or two in frustration, he can enter the contest for a set of Titleist Pro Titanium clubs, as can you. And should Mr Woods not make the cut, he can always fall back on Island Mini Golf from TBS.com.

Overall, it appears the PGA is shooting far below par when it comes to its internet offerings. And in this case, it’s just like golf. “Far below par” is to be a winner. A great first round, PGA. You have The Distillery’s seal of approval.

Home page: 2006 PGA Championship
Home page: PGA

Golfing green graphic

Scott Tissue

Wednesday, 26 July 2006; 13:00

I love the unexpected. It keeps life from being overly boring. But what could be more boring than toilet tissue, especially the “cheap” brand? I can think of few other products lower on any such list.

However, Scott Tissue has found a most interesting way of alleviating TP boredom. It has the Know Your Flushes game at its Scott Tissue Clog Clinic, where you will also find clog clinic demos.

But again, a toilet bowl game? A tissue clog clinic? Yes, once you see it all, you also may find yourself wondering what focus group sat in on that marketing research. However, they did find a way to make consumers think about toilet paper other than when they find themselves looking for a charming and comfortable seat.

Scott Tissue Clog Clinic demos (video only):

  • Dissolvability demo
  • Dissolvability testing
  • Flushing station
  • Home page: Scott Brand

    Scott Tissue graphic

    Life Takes Visa (Visa)

    Tuesday, 25 July 2006; 12:48

    Visa (yea, the card you’ve maxed out) has compiled an interesting mix of vignettes that life takes. Take your time and look around a bit. Also, watch out for what you may think are the page’s physical boundaries. There are more vignettes beyond those visible on your screen.

    Home page: Visa
    Home page: Life Takes Visa

    Life Takes Visa graphic Visa card graphic

    Roche Health Kiosk

    Tuesday, 25 July 2006; 11:44

    Before we start with The Distillery’s usual focus, let us ask if this page at Roche is fully secured? Or, might we be hearing and reading about another information security breech? Let’s hope those default Apache passwords have been changed.

    Moving along to the business at hand, we find the Roche Health Kiosk. (Clicking on Garden of Eden in the lower left of your screen leads to the Apache page mentioned above.) It looks promising given users are instructed to have Flash and Quicktime installed on their computers, but we’ve been fooled before by that before. Will we be this time?

    Clicking our way inside via Influenza, definitely a hot topic these days, we find ourselves presented with what appears to be static information offered via a menu listing. And, in a font size no elderly person could ever possibly read. Although fewer older persons use computers than younger generations, it would still be very nice to see some obvious means by which the text could be made larger such that one of the most susceptible groups could more easily access the information.

    That noted, click on Definition and look for the all-but-invisible shadow of a video camera graphic below the larger color image. Clicking on either it or the green arrow at the bottom of the screen opens a Quicktime video defining influenza. We find that to be the mode of presentation down the entire list, with the exception of Facts worth knowing [sic]. Even more, we find that to be the mode throughout the site with all the listed conditions and diseases.

    However, The Distillery wonders who might be the target audience for this material. As previously noted, the site is definitely not user-friendly for anyone over a certain age when one’s eyesight becomes poorer. There is far too little guidance to the multimedia content, the sort of content most easily accessed and comprehended by those with less than perfect vision and even most in need of the information. Maybe it’s just me, but I expect a global health care entity to be a bit more aware than that. Again, what age demographic is most likely to die from influenza or several of the other conditions? And, Roche does use the word kiosk which typically implies easy access.

    Also, should a person come to the Roche’s primary site looking for information, they do not find clear and obvious pointers to the Roche Health Kiosk, which is almost the only portion of Roche’s online presence that the general public will either want to see or can understand. Therefore, might not the Roche Health Kiosk be viewed more as an afterthought by Roche marketing and management than a direct and effective communications channel to the firm’s end users? So it seems.

    Home page: Roche Health Kiosk
    Home page: Roche

    Roche logo graphic heart graphic

    Philips Bodygroom (Norelco)

    Monday, 24 July 2006; 19:12

    I do not know where to start with this one. Maybe with Brazilian bikini waxes? Yea, that’s the ticket. (Be forewarned. What you are about to see and not hear will crack you up.)

    Women have long had to contend with sensitive personal hygiene issues in advertising. And while they were doing so, men seemed to have few such worries and sometimes even snickered. That has changed. Men, too, now have certain “unmentionable” problems — namely body hair especially in certain “less visible” places, at least according to Philips.

    And how does a firm tackle such a sensitive and hirsute problem? I’ll let Philips show you with the online promotion for its Bodygroom electric razor at its accompanying mini-site, ShaveEverywhere.com.

    Honestly, there is nothing I can say that equals this online promotion. You simply have to experience it for yourself. Make certain you watch the music video. Oh, and you’ll also learn about the “optical inch.” And you thought my warning was just a joke. Hah!

    Philips logo graphic
    Philips/Norelco Bodygroom graphic

    Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14

    Monday, 24 July 2006; 18:03

    Zero to sixty in less than 3 seconds? A top speed approaching 200 mph? One hundred, seventy-five horses strapped to only 560 pounds? It sounds insane, doesn’t it? Well, I want one! Those are some of the white-knuckle specs for Kawasaki’s new Ninja ZX-14 motorcycle.

    Unfortunately, the ZX-14’s mini-site by Kawasaki does not convey the sense of seemingly unbridled power and speed of the street-legal beast it is advertising. That is not to say the site isn’t very nicely done, but it lacks the raw emotion that even the mere numbers outlining the motorcycle’s specifications generate. In other words, after hearing and reading about the ZX-14 beforehand, the online promotion is a disappointment.

    In fact, a glance through Kawasaki’s primary web site for its motorcycles reveals videos for other motorcycles that are far better at making one want to run out and buy a Ninja than those for its new flagship model. Maybe the bike will sell itself. Maybe it’s designed for a very small market that needs no selling. Maybe it will fly out of showroom as quickly as it gets you down the road. (And, maybe you should buy a coffin to go along with that magnificent speed demon.)
    Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 graphic

    Oxford Internet Institute (Univ. of Oxford)

    Monday, 24 July 2006; 15:13

    I had to find a means of working in something which is entirely non-multimedia (and needs little advertising or promotion), but is still very impressive. So by way of webcasts from the Oxford Internet Institute, we have over 2,500 magnificent 360-degree tours of almost the entire University of Oxford campus and surrounding area.

    To think of the footsteps that walked Oxford’s campuses and halls (e.g., Erasmus, John Donne, Roger Bacon, Oscar Wilde, Indira Gandhi, Gertrude Bell, J.R.R. Tolkien), sometimes centuries before any of ours, is truly humbling. If you have been there, you will very much enjoy each and every virtual tour. It is the best collection of virtual tours The Distillery has yet to find online.

    However, The Distillery cannot overlook the Oxford Internet Institute itself. Just some of the gems found there include webcasts such as The Future of the Web: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Internet Security: Legend or Myth: John Levine, and The New Shape of Knowledge: From Trees to Piles of Leaves.

    Home pages: University of Oxford and Oxford Internet Institute

    oxford_crest.gif oxford_students.jpg