Although everything Disney is just one big advertisement directed toward children, The Distillery cannot deny any child (or adult) Winnie the Pooh.
Overall, the entire Audi web site is excellent. However, The Distillery will today focus only on Audi’s Q7 Globe automobile. It comes with a V-12 engine and plenty of ground clearance. Supposedly, this is a car for anywhere on the planet. (Does anyone remember when Audi made decidedly boring cars?)
If the automobile is even half as impressive as the Audi Q7 Globe micro-site, it is quite the car. Its web site does almost everything extremely well. It is engaging, interactive, has a virtual human host, different bandwidths, sound on/off, and even offers a downloadable freebie via a video clip of the site’s theme song by Carla Vallet.
Yes, the people at Audi and its advertising agency worked very hard at making this one of the best examples of online advertising for a specific product that The Distillery has seen to date. Explore around and enjoy. Kudos galore to Audi and its Q7 Globe. (Oh, and while you are there, also have a look at the Audi Videocast. It includes footage from motor shows and vehicles other than the Q7.)
You will first need to download and install the Virtools 3D Life Player. Afterward, enjoy the 3D design work of the Netherlands design firm, Level One Design. Using your mouse, go ahead and play by dragging the image around. And, be certain to click on the little red button. Nice work, eh? Nice background music, too.
(You know, there may be a good living for a few excellent composers in writing short, but unique background compositions as content-rich and music-themed web sites continue to develop. The music we will see being written might one day be the online equivalent of the now well-known TV jingle.)
Home page: Level One Design
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
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
SanDisk first really caught my attention a few weeks ago after I bought one of its very well-designed U3 flash drives. In one of those all too rare times, SanDisk got the obvious right. They eliminated that little cap which frequently gets lost and supposedly attaches to your keyring. Instead, the USB connector simply slides back into its own case. Egad, Brain! Brilliant!
However, today The Distillery brings you the SanDisk Sansa e280 MP3 player. And quite frankly, never being one to jump on bandwagons, I very much prefer it to any iPod I’ve seen. And then there’s that something about buying music from only one seller who allows that music to be played on only one player — theirs.
However, with the recent cracking of Microsoft’s DRM anti-copying protocol, you may well be able to remove that protection and play your music in any player or computer you wish. Just download FairUse4WM 1.1 at Betanews.com and use it on your collection before Microsoft can get back to being Big Brother.
Home page: SanDisk
First, the bunny has been found in its proper place at Energizer.com. It must be an evil albino twin which has gone over to the dark side at Duracell. Also found is a firm clearly more aware of its markets and potential customers, and the internet.
One of the first things noticed are contests which are easy to enter. There’s no chasing an animated gif. In fact, the user is given complete navigation control. With only that, Eveready is obviously less clueless than one of its major competitors. In fact, this single page at Energizer.com reflects almost all that is missing at one of its competitor’s sites. (Note: We’re not mentioning any names.)
In addition, one will find a learning center with advice for emergencies, projects for kids, and [silent] demonstrations of how batteries are made and work. But best of all, we find multimedia content. Granted, it appears to be rehashed TV ads, but we’ve always enjoyed those Energizer Bunny ads, haven’t we? And, The Distillery will give a few points for the Hispanic-targeted ads. (Note: The “Runner” ad can also easily service the locale it presents. In less developed countries without widespread and modern utility infrastructures, batteries are the primary source of power.)
However, this is the internet and 30 seconds cannot be more than .03 nanoseconds in internet time. Where is the 2-5 minute engaging online promotion? Is this it? Or is it this pitch for a flashlight? No, each of those is only 1.5 minutes long and pretty much all else to be found. Close, but no cigar. So although Eveready’s online presence is better than at least one of its competitors, it appears the battery industry isn’t that charged-up about the internet just yet.
Home page: Energizer.com
Let us begin at Liquid Logic Kayaks with a little thing that makes a big difference — mouse-overs that are voice-overs. (Run your cursor over the stream of kayaks.) Next, we see that Liquid Logic knows how to sell kayaking, and provides plenty of video and photos to show just how much fun it can be. For example, have a peek at Shane Benedict on the Chattooga River in the firm’s Pisgah model.
The Distillery’s favorite? Without question, it is the Sojourn 14, of which a closer look can be seen here. Next, point your browser to Liquid Logic’s Manta Ray kayak and the 5 videos found on that page. They even have a dealer locator map that isn’t static and makes noise. In all, an excellent effort for a bunch of guys and gals obviously looking to have as much fun as they can.
Home page: Liquid Logic Kayaks
The Distillery very much likes the SitePal product, but for one problem. That is, even after a customer has purchased SitePal (albeit at its most basic level of $100/year), the company still insists on conspicuously including its advertising in what has then become the customer’s product.
Is this like Real Networks requiring anyone who has “purchased” RealPlayer to always login if s/he is to benefit from that so-called purchase? Most definitely. And just as is the case with RealPlayer, customers walk away far less than happy. Even worse, those customers then inhibit other purchases. Think not? Then how many of you have received positive word-of-mouth about paying $20 for RealPlayer and purchased it for yourselves? (Very few? That’s what The Distillery suspected.)
All that aside, what about SitePal’s online content? This is an easy one. After all, SitePal literally speaks for itself. SitePal is a virtual spokesperson which can be added to a web site, and without question adds a most unique and engaging dimension for visitors. It brings to mind something marketers recognized as often necessary years ago: If you go high tech, find someway of also going a little high touch.
Although not human, and because avatars have become more acceptable to internet users, there is little question that SitePal potentially offers that element of “high touch” needed by so many web sites. Also, unpublished research has confirmed that an avatar can make a site’s visitors feel more comfortable and therefore more satisfied with their interaction with the site. (Thanks, Prof. B.Q.) However, The Distillery has yet to encounter a single web site employing SitePal’s technology.
As recently as April 2006, SitePal had only 5000 customers after being in business for at least 3 years! (There’s nothing like shooting oneself in the foot, eh?) Therefore this unsolicited advice is offered to SitePal: Remove the glaringly obvious barrier to your product’s adoption. If a customer is willing to pay for your product, you should be willing to remove your advertising from what has then become your customer’s product. Even more, cannot your product speak well enough for itself? (Pun intended.) Or, do you not trust that it can?
Enough of that. Go ahead and play around with the SitePal demo. I am certain you will come away more than a little impressed. But again, it is unfortunate that SitePal’s management seems either a little too greedy or not exactly clear on how the internet works. (Maybe they need another hint: Google.)
There is cluelessness and then there’s cluelessness. Both can be found running rampant at TomJones.com, the web site of the 1960s singer who often had women throwing their bras and panties onto the stage during his performances. You would think the singer’s web site was a circus with all the hoops through which one must jump in order to fully access the site. (Maybe he’s signed by SONY, the recording label that infamously and clandestinely installed a rootkit onto its customers’ computers.)
First, I had to provide my e-mail address and select a password. That’s a bit much when trying to attract visitors, but The Distillery can certainly understand collecting marketing research and customer data. However, did that allow full entry? No, it did not.
From there I was directed to another page where I had to provide my name, e-mail address again, and other demographic information. I also had to be careful and opt out of any mailing lists. I then had to check my Inbox for a confirmation missive. It arrived with three essential bits of information needed to enter the site — Membership ID, Activation Code, and a Check Code. But after entering all of that, I then received an error message. It seems Mr. Jones is a big fan of pop-ups. (Someone stop the pain, please.)
My goodness, even the FBI didn’t require that much personal information for my security clearances! And no, that is not the way to make someone very likely going out of their way and looking for the site feel the least bit welcome. But, Mr. Tom Jones is a throw-back, a product of the Sixties. I’m certain he’s still not at all comfortable with that new-fangled thing over in the corner called a ‘puter.
That said, and although the site is extremely well-stocked with Tom Jones stuff (e.g., videos, songs, photos, forums, downloads), The Distillery cannot recommend it. Instead, the suggestion to avoid the site entirely is The Distillery’s current position — at least until Tom Jones thinks “It’s Not Unusual” to grant fans easy access and also not require unnecessary personal information.
It’s not about you controlling the user’s experience, Mr. Jones, but the user controlling his/her own experience. Duh! There’s cluelessness and then there is stupidity. The latter far more greatly applies than the former at TomJones.com.
Home page: Tom Jones
We have all had a great invention idea, right? In fact, each of us has likely had a couple of good ideas for inventions. However, bringing that idea of an invention to actual fruition is not easy. That’s where you need an established firm like Davison Design on your side. Davison Design has been featured in BusinessWeek magazine and has won two BusinessWeek-sponsored design contests. That’s a lot, but The Distillery will let Davison Design President and CEO G. M. Davison tell you more in this video.
Davison Design licenses inventions from ordinary people like me and you and helps make them available to major corporations as additions to their present product lines or as entirely new products. From research, design, packaging, prototyping, and even making samples available, Davison Design has the experience, personnel, resources, and track record. (Important note: Davison Designs cannot and does not promise your idea will generate revenue, cash, income, money, etc.)
Davison Design uses their own unique and systematic Inventegration® process. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It is. Inventegration is a breakthrough concept developed and implemented only by Davison Design and for its inventory of inventors, possibly including you and your invention. So, why now are you waiting? You have the great idea; Davison Design may well have the wherewithal. It sounds like a match made in heaven.
Home page: Davison Designs
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens are never overlooked when I visit Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, one finds little multimedia content from the museum with the exception of Joseph Hirshhorn’s dedication speech, a part of the Hirshhorn Story (click “Play Audio” under “Founding Donor”).
The Distillery cannot wait for the day when museums have sufficient funding and the needed technologies to virtually offer their collections to anyone anywhere in the world with access to a computer and the internet. (Are you listening, Bill and Melinda Gates? How about throwing the world’s museums a few million of those dollars? After all, that inoculated child in Africa should also be able to see beyond its own village.)
Home page: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens