Archive for the ‘House and Garden’ Category

Catch of the Day (12.02.2007)

Monday, 12 February 2007; 9:27

   

 

Catch of the Day (10.02.2007)

Saturday, 10 February 2007; 18:09

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?

Eveready (Energizer.com)

Wednesday, 23 August 2006; 14:45

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

Daylight Savings Time reminder graphicEnergizer bunny graphic

Microcasting: New TVoIP Channels

Tuesday, 1 August 2006; 13:02

Welcome to the 21st century. A decade or so ago, the cable industry proudly announced that one day consumers would have a choice of 400 channels. Cable firms were as short-sighted then as they are now. The Distillery laughed when the cable industry promised the future as they saw it. Instead, The Distillery saw thousands and thousands of channels, some even “starring” narcissistic individuals, but all focused on increasingly narrow target or niche markets.

One might look at it another way. Remember when ESPN first aired and its sports content included lumberjacking and other decidedly obscure “sports?” In a sense, ESPN was more ahead of its time than it knew. What those early programs lacked in numbers of viewers, they more than made up for their few viewers with their [implicit] predictions of a future where broadcasting (e.g., Monday Night Football) gives way to narrowcasting (e.g., “season ticket” all-games packages), and then to microcasting where only very small niche markets exist (e.g., field hockey TVoIP), and can be profitable even with far smaller scales and scopes given the internet’s often contrarian economics.

Country Channel TV graphic
CountryChannel.tv
Index: Country Channel TV

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Real Estate TV graphic
RealEstate.tv
Index: Real Estate TV

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FaithGlobe.tv graphic
FaithGlobe.tv
Index: FaithGlobe.com

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European Affairs Channel graphic
The European Affairs Channel (a.k.a. EUX.TV)
Index: EuropeanAffairs.tv

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TeacherNet graphic
Teachers’ TV
Index: TeacherNet.gov.uk

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FieldHockey.TV graphic
Field Hockey TV

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Intl. Hockey Fed. graphic
WorldHockey Television
Index: International Hockey Federation

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Golf Bug TV graphic
GolfBug.tv
Index: Golf Bug TV Blog

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

Generac Guardian Generators

Wednesday, 5 July 2006; 11:53

As noted with Kohler Power, backup generators certainly have their place here in hurricane country. However, even this classic fear appeal video clip from Generac Power Systems advertising its Guardian Generators demonstrates the mistake often made of placing the generator at ground level in areas prone to flooding.

Guardian logo

Guardian generator graphic 01 Guardian generator graphic 02

Kohler Power

Wednesday, 5 July 2006; 11:34

Given it is hurricane season here on the east coast, The Distillery will use Kohler Power to provide a public service message about backup power generators. (Kohler’s online content for its generators is barely passable as multimedia. I think I heard a sound in there somewhere.)

For another project on which I am working, I interviewed local police about what they saw, and would advise homeowners during hurricanes. Their answers were both interesting and obvious, with displaced alligators topping the list along with flooded backup power generators. Yes, flooded generators. Many homeowners buy gasoline-powered generators, but then make a really stupid mistake. They place their new generator on the first or ground floor. So with the storm surge and flooding, that nice generator is suddenly covered with water!

In fact, I was at a friend’s house only a few days ago. He was very proud to have thought about backup power and buying a nice generator, but he had made that very mistake. Imagine his chagrin when I pointed this out to him. Duh! So remember, if you plan on that backup power generator working when you need it, be certain to place it on a platform above any anticipated flood levels.

Kohler logo Kohler generator graphic

Roomba & Scooba (iRobot Corporation)

Thursday, 1 June 2006; 10:32

iRobot Corporation’s name is likely unfamiliar to you. However, at least one of its products likely is not. Certainly you have heard of iRobot’s self-governing vacuum cleaner, the Roomba. (Click on Product Video to see the video demonstrations.)

Simply amazing, isn’t it? It appears the Jetsons and their wondrous technologies from TV past and a looney future are alive and well in the 21st century.

Red iRobot Roomba Roomba Discovery SE Roomba Scheduler

And while you are at the iRobot site, also have a look at its Scooba, the little robot that assumes the tedious burden of washing your hard-surface floors. (For additional videos, look for Product Video on the upper-right side of the page and Scooba in Action on the lower-right side of the page.) And from where did iRobot get that spokesperson with the squeaky and somewhat irritating voice? Might I suggest another voice-over instead by James Earl Jones (a.k.a. Darth Vader)?

iRobot Scooba

Badluck-o-meter (IF)

Thursday, 20 April 2006; 12:00

Insurance companies almost invariably have a tough time with advertising. They are typically selling products or services that imply negative outcomes, if not death even. And who among us does not wish to avoid that subject? However, the standard solution is to make the consumer aware of the risk, danger, etc., but to then offer a remedy. It is that last part, the remedy, which often makes or breaks an insurance advertisement.

Let us look at IF’s (a Nordic insurance firm) approach to this dilemma. They have addressed consumers’ inherent avoidance of harm, injury, or death in a most unique–and even pleasant manner. At the very least, have a glance at its Badluck-o-meter, but also at some point find the 10 minutes it will take to view the entire presentation. It may just save your life one day.

Flavia

Wednesday, 19 April 2006; 11:18

Flavia is another site that almost gets it right. There are some superb elements, but then some that are not so great. I get the impression from sites such as this that whatever advertising agency is being used, it is only just beginning to understand online viewers’ expectations, the internet and its capabilities, and how to fully exploit them. The Flavia site would have been considered superb only a year ago. Today, however, it is only so-so.

The Flavia Experience is new school. On the other hand, the Flavia Fusion demonstration is simple Flash with no sound. Caught in the middle is the TV special offer for the Flavia Fusion.

Let us go back to the Flash-only demonstration. Countless sites I have viewed could be made infinitely better with only the addition of background music or sounds. It seems so obvious that I have to wonder if either the advertising agency or the client even looks through the site once it is online. Or, where are the focus groups that would immediately give a Cesarean thumbs-down?

Flavia product 01 Flavia coffee bag 01 Flavia tea bag 01

Black and Decker

Monday, 17 April 2006; 23:48

For whatever reasons, it disheartens me to see a firm almost get it right, but miss by virtue of the simplest of details. That is the case with Black and Decker’s demonstraVISION tours of its products. And what detail is Black and Decker missing? Control. Control by the viewer over certain important aspects of the online promotion and its presentation.

In this case, the viewer has to listen to the entire [and typically boring] voice-over product spiel before being allowed to take advantage of the site’s interactive features such as 360 degree rotations and zoomed views. There is neither a volume control nor a mute button. And, there is no clearly visible close button for the auto-opened windows. (Yes, that should not be an issue, but believe it is when I have seen computer users with 20 windows open because they are not shown how to close them.)

With only these “minor” details overlooked, I viewed just one product and backed out of that portion of the site. Exploring any further, and going through the same process each time, would be no fun at all. Even worse, it would take far more time than necessary were control given to the viewer. That means the site actually fails to provide any more information than might be gotten from almost any advertising medium, and maybe even less. That should never be the case with a firm’s online promotion and advertising.

What single, but most important lesson might be learned from these mistakes? Hand control over to the viewer. Take advantage of the very online technologies being employed. Allow the viewer to navigate as s/he pleases — unless your imposed navigation is both absolutely essential and engaging. This is the internet, not old-fashioned TV where one simply takes advertisements as dished-out. On the internet, the viewer takes [or not] as they please. If I do not wish to hear the sales spiel, but instead go directly to zoomed views, then that should be made possible. If I wish to go directly to product specifications, that should be only a click of the mouse away.

That said, have a look at Black and Decker’s Videos and Virtual Tours center. And although there are far fewer videos than lock-step product tours, the videos are offered as should be expected. None of the issues that hinder the product tours are present in the videos. It seems someone stopped thinking before the project was finished.

AutoTape Cordless Drill Belt sander