Archive for December, 2006

Memorex

Wednesday, 27 December 2006; 16:35

Is it real or is it Memorex? That was the ultimate music recording question asked by consumers approximately 25 years ago. It is still a well-known line from a memorable series of commercials–and is still in use by Memorex today. That, my friends, is called staying power.

But what about new technologies? That tag line was originally used in the days of magnetic cassette tapes–and when the original was easily distinguished from the copy. What about HDTVs, CDs, and lasers? It appears Memorex finds the line still useful and applicable as it introduces its HD-DVD and Blu-ray video technologies to a newer generation.

Yes, it is a boring presentation, isn’t it? And remember, Blu-ray is in a struggle for its life against at least one competing format. It is another VHS vs. Betamax struggle where the best technology may not win again. Betamax was beat by better marketing and not a superior technology. It appears Memorex and Blu-ray are doomed to repeat history with an online presentation surely to be viewed by very few, which inspires absolutely zero passion about the technology, and ultimately about which consumers could likely care no less.

Home page:  Memorex
Video:  Imation: Into The Blue

 

Boa Technology’s Boa Lacing System

Wednesday, 20 December 2006; 12:22

Boa Technology’s Boa Lacing System is something my mom might have preferred. I understand she had one helluva time teaching me how to tie my shoes–and I still do it quite differently than anyone else. However, technology has all but rendered the art of tying shoe laces essentially moot–at least for kids. It seems many young children’s shoes now come with Velcro straps instead of shoe laces. However, Velcro isn’t right for most shoes. And, old-fashioned laces have their disadvantages, especially in some of the more demanding activities and sports.

Enter the Boa Lacing System. (The Distillery even likes the name.) Instead of tying shoe laces (which have not been fully eliminated–just yet), the Boa system depends on dials around which “cables” are wrapped in such a manner that users need only dial the lacing of their shoes either tighter or looser. And in fact, the Boa system has passed one of the most demanding of tests–the Tour de France. (Can you imagine a professional bicycle racer having to stop and tie his shoes as his competitors speed up the mountain?)

However, what about the Boa web site itself. As should often be expected these days, the site opens with a multimedia presentation. However, when it might serve the product’s purpose to continue as a richly informative information source about a new product with sights and sounds, it begins to come untied.

The How It Works portion of the site eschews any sort of multimedia presentation or information that might keep less than fully involved consumers interested in a new and untried product. That is an error in dire need of correction. On the other hand, Boa does not make the mistake typically seen at Flash-driven web sites–no images which the consumer can download and/or share with others. Kudos to Boa for that nice touch–even if not on purpose.

One caveat, however, from personal experience. The Boa system can break, and unlike good ol’fashioned shoe laces, a fix is not simply a drive to the drug store and replacing a lace. My personal experience has shown the dials can break, leaving the shoe’s wearer essentially with a shoe which cannot be properly tightened around the foot. In fact, some retailers even keep extra dials on hand. Given that, and although the web site addresses the issue by saying the product will not break, I’ll continue to tie my shoes in my own unique and effective way. YMMV.

Home page:  Boa Technology

Nissan X-Trail (Taiwan)

Monday, 18 December 2006; 12:23

With a name like the Nissan X-Trail, the last thing The Distillery expected was a very modern urban landscape being used as a visual background. However, given the vast majority of Taiwanese who can likely afford the X-Trail probably live in the cities instead of Taiwan’s eastern rugged mountains, the high-rise skyscraper backdrop makes sense.

In addition, those same Taiwanese urbanites are not likely to take the X-Trail anywhere near real Land Rovers or true all-terrain vehicles might go. That is why the terrain-handling demonstration contained within this ad is all the more unusual. It is held in a city park with steel obstacles and tracks! (The demonstration is not easy to find. At the top of the micro-site index page, click on the very last link at the top right of the menu. Then click on the smaller photos at the bottom of that page for the driving demonstration.) If that contrived demonstration does not sell X-Trails to wealthier Taiwanese looking to get over speed bumps, nothing will.

Home page:  Nissan X-Trail

Nissan X-Trail - Taiwain

MOTORAZR V3i DOLCE & GABBANA

Thursday, 14 December 2006; 14:27

An intriguing and enigmatic opening with a nice musical soundtrack. A second page with a different, but still nice soundtrack–and, the MOTOROLA V3i DOLCE & GABBANA. (Jeesh, that’s a mouthful for a cell phone’s name.) A moan or two. (They are not easy to find, but Motorola did not forget that sex sells.) “Did anyone ever tell you your megapixels are enormous?” “Image is everything.” “Buy now.” “Share.” There are countless aspects of superb online marketing in the design of this web site.

Oops, The Distillery is so impressed with the web site that it almost forgot about the product itself, the cell phone. This appears to be one really nice cell phone–made for those few people with more money than people to whom they need to talk. As the catchline says, “Image is everything.” In fact, the image is so everything with this phone that The Distillery has never even seen one except online!

Home page: MOTOROLA V3i DOLCE & GABBANA

 

MarthaStewart.com

Tuesday, 12 December 2006; 12:15

Every convicted felon should have it so well. Martha’s felony conviction has obviously not put a single dent in her sales and followers’ shopping. And, she provides a very media-rich web site for her loyal Martha wannabes.

We start with megabytes and megabytes of video from Martha’s video library. Full past shows can be found there. Recipes, of course, can be found there. (I especially liked the one for venison.) In fact, just as in retail stores, virtually everything Martha can be found in her video library.

You will even find video about a GE dream kitchen some lucky Martha lemming will win. And along with much more, but especially given the season, you’ll also find the 12 days of Christmas. All of that is just the beginning. There is enough rich media content at MarthaStewart.com to keep you busy for days.

The Distillery admits MarthaStewart.com is a very easy site to judge. It is excellent. Martha obviously spent her time in prison most productively.

Important note:  Do *not* misspell the site’s name and type in marthasteward.com. That takes you to a bad place where you will likely pick up computer cooties. I know, I’ve been there.

Home page:  MarthaStewart.com

Martha & friends
Martha and fellow inmates out on parole?

Aston Martin

Tuesday, 12 December 2006; 10:06

It is everything British. It was the first car uniquely “modified” by Q for James Bond. It is the Aston Martin.

And very likely, at least to most Americans, the Aston Martin is synonymous with 007 agent, James Bond. However, is it a car Americans might prefer in and of itself? Maybe, but The Distillery doubts it will be the Aston Martin web site that convinces them of that. It is not a badly designed site, but it simply doesn’t convey (although there is great attempt) the mystique of the Aston Martin brand. That might have something to do with Aston Martin now being owned by Ford.

The site is thoroughly modern (by British standards), but suffers from a certain lack of originality and cachet. Yes, we find the now expected driving videos. However, and with all due respect, the music in at least one of them nothing more than glorified Muzak. It almost gets in the way more than it holds one’s attention. And in another video, one is left with a decidedly negative impression of Aston Martin that not even the video’s ending can eliminate. (Well, that was The Distillery’s reaction.)

In that one video, at the very same time the word “evil” is spoken, a less-than-friendly looking driver seemingly captures and crushes a butterfly with his bare hand. Granted, a few seconds later he stops the car and releases it, and there is a disclaimer that no butterflies were harmed during the making of the commercial, but by that time I suspect more than one viewer experienced the same visceral reaction as I. “Why is he killing the butterfly?!” (I don’t think Aston Martin expected that particular reaction. Maybe the firm will use a focus group next time.)

And once again, we find a classic online media/advertising mistake–a microsite, this time for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, but with absolutely no audio. Having no audio commands the viewer’s attention for maybe a few seconds, but not much more. Conversely, we have seen that just the correct few notes and bars can transform a quick click by the viewer into a few minutes of wonder. Then again, maybe Aston Martin thinks this downloadable sound of the DB8 engine suffices. It does not. It seems the firm does not recognize that sight and sound together work far better than either alone.

In sum, it is unfortunate Aston Martin cannot instill in its web site that same sense of wonder we have when watching a Aston Martin driven by James Bond–machine guns, water cannons, ejection seats, or not as standard equipment.

Home page:  Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB 5
Aston Martin DB 5

Pinger

Monday, 11 December 2006; 14:15

Something weird seems to be happening. And, it is YouTube-related. (Isn’t everything these days?) What is it? It appears some firms have decided that the best and cheapest advertising, viral or otherwise, begins [and ends] with YouTube.

Pinger is an excellent example. Via YouTube, the founders of Pinger.com offer this video introduction to their new business model. (Look to the lower-left portion of your screen. Then click “video” under “Learn More.”) How does The Distillery feel about using YouTube as a primary advertising medium? We are not certain. It seems both right and wrong. Let’s explore that assessment a little more.

YouTube is an excellent fit with what is suspected to be Pinger’s primary target market–younger-aged text messengers. On the other hand, and keeping recent survey findings in mind, using YouTube will not be the best vehicle for what is assumed to be another Pinger target market–older adults more accustomed to voice and phone, but have not yet adopted text messaging. (Note: Pinger combines voice with text messaging and your cell phone. It supposedly offers the best of both worlds.)

Is YouTube Pinger’s only advertising medium, other than any viral or word-of-mouth from the YouTube video? The Distillery would appreciate if its readers let it know where else Pinger ads have been found. Yes, there are the press releases and very likely some public relations work, but will they be sufficient?

 We also see Pinger aligning itself with MySpace.com–again emphasizing a younger target market. Does that mean Pinger is eschewing older users who might actually find this form of “text messaging” not only fun, but useful? Only time will tell if a YouTube-focused advertising campaign is sufficient. But until then, you might give Pinger a trial–regardless of your age.

 Home page:  Pinger

Pinger logo

Pearl Harbor Survivors Project

Monday, 11 December 2006; 12:19

They are battle-weary members of America’s “greatest generation.” They are also now growing far fewer in numbers with each passing day. They are the U.S. survivors of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

With each of their deaths, a little bit of history dies. Such is the reason causes like the Pearl Harbor Survivors Project are all the more important. Although many government leaders apparently have not learned the lesson, war is hell, and these remaining members of the greatest generation leave no doubt about that as you watch them tell their stories.

Thank you, veterans of Pearl Harbor and veterans of wars everywhere. After all, all sides fight “with God on their side.”

Home page: Pearl Harbor Survivors Project
Site page:  Survivors’ videos

USS Russell passes in review.
USS Russell’s pass-in-review before the Pearl Harbor survivors

2006 Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony

Monday, 11 December 2006; 11:45

We have all heard of dumb geniuses, right? Well, you will probably not find many such persons among this year’s cadre of Nobel Prize winners. But also, the Nobel Prize committee is not so dumb as not to recognize a changing of the guard online. And just what is meant by that?

Instead of the usual boring fare previously found at the Nobel Prize web site, with one notable exception highlighted here several months ago, we now have an on-demand video presentation of the 2006 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. And at only 71 minutes long, they must have limited the recipients’ time to make their acceptance speeches. (Are any as good as William Faulkner’s acceptance address for the literature award in 1950?) Surely, there had to be more hot air in the Stockholm Concert Hall than that. On the other hand, the relatively short length just might inspire a few future Nobel laureates to have a look at the pomp and circumstance surrounding one of the world’s most valued awards.

Home page:  Nobel Prize
Home page:  Nobel Week 2006 (for more multimedia content)

Alfred Nobel
Photograph of Alfred Nobel