Monthly Archives: February 2011

If You Name It They Will Come … Farmers Field

Los Angeles, the second largest media market in the country, has been without a football team since the Rams left Anaheim Stadium for a new home in St. Louis in 1995.  The previous year the Oakland Raiders moved back to Oakland after thirteen seasons of unsuccessfully trying to sell out the 90,000-seat Los Angeles Coliseum.  Over the years there has been talk of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles, along with proposed sites for a team including ones adjacent to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Dodger Stadium, Home Depot Center in Carson and another stadium proposed by real estate mogul Edward P. Roski in the City of Industry.

The latest development is AEG’s (Anschutz Entertainment Group) proposed 64,000-seat, retractable-roof football stadium to join Staples Center, Nokia Theatre and the L.A. Convention Center at L.A. LIVE in Downtown Los Angeles.  On February 1st it was announced that, although there is no team or approved stadium plan, naming rights have already been sold to Farmers Insurance for $700 million.  The proposed $1 billion stadium (to be funded by AEG) would be called Farmers Field.  The $700 million (starting at $20 million in year one and increasing annually over 30 years) naming rights agreement would be the largest long-term naming rights agreement in history.  Farmers’ partnership would provide an enormous branding opportunity for the company along with exclusive naming exposure and signage inside and outside Farmers Field including electronic and video messaging during events, hospitality access inside and outside the stadium, promotional and experiential activation areas throughout the concourses and other public areas and a variety of branded clubs and other interactive areas to be used by Farmers Insurance agents and customers.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa states, “Farmers Field will be a catalyst for new development, creating nearly 20,000 jobs and $3 billion worth of new development in the downtown area alone.”

Local sports hero Magic Johnson has said he hopes to become a part owner in Los Angeles’ NFL team saying, “We’re getting closer and closer to bringing football back to Los Angeles.  This is exciting for me and the whole city. I don’t know what happened in the past but I [think] the community now is really excited about football returning to Los Angeles.”

AEG is talking with NFL and team officials and believes the stadium will have at least one NFL team and possibly two by the time Farmer’s Field opens (projected for 2015 if approved) providing the opportunity to host Super Bowl L in 2016. The first Super Bowl was held in Los Angeles in 1967.  Speculation about which NFL franchise, or two franchises, could move to Los Angeles recently has focused on the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings.

Social media’s effect on Super Bowl ads

With the “Big Game” just a few days away, it’s hard to escape the hype of this year’s Super Bowl ads, no matter how hard you try.  Ads have already been previewed on morning television, leaked to the web and radio hosts chatting.  Most notably this year though, is how social media will impact these hefty spending advertisers. 

Social media news source,, offers a great analysis as to how brands are taking a number of different approaches to their social strategy with the Super Bowl.  Frito-Lay for instance has continued their “Crash the Super Bowl” contest while Mercedes is running a campaign called “The World’s First Twitter-Fueled Race.”   Others are advertising their advertisements.  E*Trade for instance is releasing outtakes on their YouTube channel from their iconic talking babies, all in an effort to generate buzz leading up to the new spot’s release during the game.  In another positive sign for the economy, a record number of automotive advertisers purchased spots this year. However, Volkswagen on the flip-side seems to be taking a more standoffish approach – just putting it on their YouTube channel.  Within just 48 hours, their “The Force” ad was a trending topic on Twitter and had 1.5 million views on YouTube.

During a segment on the Today Show this morning, Matt Miller reported that 15% of Super Bowl viewers will post something on Facebook during the game.  Of those, most say they’re more likely to post about an ad versus the game itself!  Knowing the vastness of Facebook and how quickly one person’s post gets released into a feed, which is then commented on, shared, liked, etc. suddenly one commercial has garnered exponentially more impressions online. 

For that reason, Sally Hogshead, featured on the Today Show, says a three million dollar TV spot in the Super Bowl is the best bargain in advertising.  I’m sure there are varying opinions on her statement but one thing is certain – your ad better amaze, inspire or illicit great laughter.  With such emphasis put on Super Bowl commercials, it sure would be horrible if those billions of social media impressions were buzzing about a ‘let down’ of a spot.

A Few Products That Are Cheaper Today Than They Were 10 Years Ago

Due to inflation, what cost a buck in 2000 would cost $1.27 today. Some product prices have not kept up with inflation, and in some cases, are even cheaper today than 10 years ago.

WalletPop found some of these items and teamed up with to show some of the top items on the list.

Some of the possible explanations are market competition helped to minimize the increase for example; aspirin and airfare. The price of WalMart stock though was directly affected by the market collapse.

Another company that had difficulty increasing prices enough in the face of a recession was Harley-Davidson and its Sportster motorcycle. A couple of other companies found ways to lower cost of production items, allowing more value for a better price. Sears paint and Volkswagen Golf are likely examples of this.

Here is a list of some products that sell for less today than what we might expect, given inflation since 2000.

Change means opportunity

“I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring.”  – Dodie Smith

We are enveloped in change. We are continually faced with changes in the economic, political, and social landscape. All this change, especially when much of it recently has been more intense and has presented significant challenges, can lead to a high degree of uncertainty and fear. And while it might be appropriate to re-assure our target audiences with messages of stability and comfort, an alternative message to consider is opportunity.

The human spirit is extraordinarily resilient. And when faced with change, uncertainty, and challenge, we seek to move from circumstances that create pain to those that create pleasure. In short, we are inspired to seek a better existence by taking advantage of the opportunities we perceive. Transitioning back from this existential viewpoint of the world to what we do, consider exploring tones of inspiration and opportunity when developing communications. (Unless you are selling toilet paper.) You might just strike a chord in these times of heightened change.    

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Back to school . . . . Or not!

With regard to the current Fall school semester, some state and public universities have run out of scholarship money, others have raised tuition and a few have canceled classes due to lack of funding. The recent economic situation has forced many students to pay more for colleges that offer less.

Many of today’s college-aged adults are not only deciding where to go for school, but IF to go. With rising tuition during a tough financial time, many are choosing to look to trade schools, online degrees and other alternative options, such as reverse transfers (transferring from a four-year University to a Community College) as a means to gaining education and getting in the job market.

Another increasing trend, coined as the “gap year,” finds more and more students taking a year off after high school before they begin their college experience and volunteering/helping others while experiencing other cultures and societies. While more common in Britain and Australia, gap years are becoming more popular in the U.S., with many partakers citing “avoiding burnout” as their primary reason for doing so. And while these adventures can be just as expensive as college, many feel the benefits of a year away are advantageous and help a future student learn more about themselves and what they want in life before walking the college road.  

What does this mean for us? Anytime there is a shift in consumer or societal behavior, we must be ready to meet the demands of change. Knowing that many are not experiencing the college years as you and I in the past, their needs, wants, perceptions and attitudes may be different and may cause us to alter our approaches and messages. 

Just a lil’ factoid:  In today’s weak job market, the unemployment rate for college graduates is less than 5%, about half the rate for those with only a high school diploma.

Source: U.S. News and World Report

The Changing Face of America… It’s in The Details

The Census data will be released next year and should highlight some interesting changes that are already being noted through other data sources. In 2000, Hispanics surpassed African-Americans as the largest minority (reaching 13% of the population vs. 12% for African-Americans). One forecast says there will be 30% more Hispanics than African-Americans by the end of 2010. But digging deeper into the Hispanic market uncovers some interesting stats. For example, over 60% of Hispanics are under the age of 34; and one-third are under the age of 18. At the DMA level, there are about 20 markets where the minority is the majority—in three-fourths of those DMAs it is Hispanic-dominant. Future Hispanic growth will not occur as much with immigration but rather through births—in fact, today, 60% of the growth in this demographic occurs through natural births. Multi-generation households are still common and while the younger generations will continue to be immersed in culture and heritage, Spanish language usage is changing among the youth where it has become more of a conversation tool at home with fewer being able to read and write the language.

Marketing efforts need to not only address the size of the Hispanic market, but the details found within it. On a recent blog, one Hispanic wrote about feeling “alienated” from everyone else as a consumer. He said his family likes the same TV shows, movies and music that the rest of the country likes—none of which was tailored for an Hispanic customer. There’s isn’t just one Hispanic audience. Be careful when using the “Hispanic” demographic label to describe this segment. Recognizing cultural differences among other shifts will be important as the younger generations continue to become purchasing consumers. As this and other audiences continue to change, don’t forget to look at the details.

One and done

Vanessa’s Vignette

For 5 years, I had been a part of the club. We reveled in our freedoms, our balance, our child’s diverse palette and worldly travel. I was a part of the “one child” club. I had many friends in the one child club. For reasons within or beyond our control, these family units consisted of one child and two parents. I noted to myself how odd it was that I knew so many people in the club, whereas growing up, I knew no one without siblings. Last December, I left the club. Mostly, I still associate with my former club members, but some have ousted me, almost as if I have somehow betrayed them by expanding on our family unit. I was fascinated to read Time Magazine’s article “One and Done”. With economic pressures, more investment in career and the quest for personal happiness, more parents have opted to have one child and call it a day. Perhaps it is in part to the changing demands of parenthood, which require us to shuttle our child to this and that practice and activity. Perhaps it is due to simply valuing and enjoying what we have, rather than wanting for things we don’t have. Perhaps the fact that children cost families an average of $286,000, before college. Perhaps it is a subtle move away from the inextricable link of religiosity and reproduction or from a more agrarian society where multiple children ensured the lifeblood of the family. Yet interestingly, while there has been a spike in singleton families, there has also been a spike in families of 3+ children. A New York obstetrician says, “3 is the new black” While the percentages of singleton and larger families grow, the demographics indeed are shifting. The 2010 Pew Study shows an uptick in the share of births to Hispanic women, while white motherhood has declined by 12% since 1990. And the definition of family is shifting. Cousins and friends children are becoming like siblings to many families, perhaps because of smaller families and perhaps because families are moving more for jobs and therefore are adopting other families to make up for the ones living in far away states. All in all these trends are fascinating, and continue to suggest a true shift in consumer values. What I take away is that the decision to have a family and to actively decide the size family you desire is a much more considered decision than in the past. More controlled, more deliberate, like many other decisions facing the American family today. And that happiness is being questioned, and redefined. I still see some of my old club members, and I can’t help notice a little smile when they hear of my recent sleepless nights.

Escapist Movies – What the Public Wants In Troubled Times

At times such as these, when the media’s focuses are on terrorist threats at home and abroad, joblessness, and the gulf oil spill, the public chooses  movies offering the best chance of getting away from all the negative news.

Studios have reaped the rewards. Over the last several years, they have released movies that have had enormous success by creating a fantasy environment to where we can escape – Twilight, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings are key examples. Not to mention Avatar, which has grossed $2.7 billion worldwide.

It seems that people want to forget current problems, even for a few hours. 

This all reinforces the current consumer sentiment and adds to the barrage of mistrust and skepticism lately – oil spills, tainted dog food/milk, greedy banks, corrupt mortgage brokers, shuttered local businesses. People today need to find an escape from some of these hard realities.

As we create and implement brand promises, we must strive to help our clients fulfill their promises to consumers so that as to not become another one to fail the people.

Of the (Real) People, by the (Real) People, and for the (Real) People

Over and over again, those I talk with in focus groups and interviews on various topics, reject the communications of those in authoritative roles and espouse the power of the (real) people. Celebrities, executives, and even employees down the ladder (for the most part) just aren’t credible these days. Executives are associated with major debacles and are thought to communicate only when there is problem – think Enron, Toyota, and BP. The motives of “regular” employees are also scrutinized because they have a vested interest in their companies. The same is true for celebrities, which in most cases are thought to be in it for money or increased notoriety. A clear lack of trust in these representatives is evident. (Exceptions are famous individuals who have truly invested in causes and don’t need more money, such as Oprah, Robert Redford, or Bill Gates, but I digress.)

 Real people want to hear from other real people. They want to hear about real experiences with organizations, services or products. Savvy marketers have been attuned to and successfully leveraged this perceptual trend. Our own “Real People, Real Stories” campaign for ACCCE is a fine example of this strategy. Other excellent examples include the “Real Beauty” campaign from Dove and Apple’s “Real People” campaign that featured customers who had switched from PCs to Macs.

 As marketers, we will continue to utilize this trend in our communications strategies, especially through social media outlets. However, I would like to share one note of consideration. Real people are seen as trustworthy because they are perceived to be authentic. While it is understood that real people may be compensated for their testimony, there is a need to be transparent about paid endorsement. Better yet, get real people to share their positive experiences without payment. Remember, transparency contributes to authenticity, which promotes trust. To maintain the power of real people in marketing communications, remember to keep it real.

Consumers trying to find escape from hard realities


This article is just one man’s opinion . . .

Why do so many sports fans live vicariously through their favorite athletes and teams? Why do so many of them trudge in and out of work, save up months-worth of their earnings and relish the day they can buy their season tickets? Why do they spend countless hours in a virtual sports world, looking to trade their slumping running back for an “up-and-comer;” when all the while, their counterpart may be just a few cubicles over, online, holding out on the trade?

The reason . . . . is that most passionate sports fan are seeking an escape from reality. That’s why they do what they do. So, where will they turn when that escape starts to . . . well . . . escape?

We’ve seen athletes and the sporting world take hits before. There have always been negative sporting headlines gracing front covers. But lately, with America’s greatest game being tainted, with golf’s supreme beast being ‘just that’ off the field, and with a hometown hero leaving for sunnier skies, where will these fans turn? What will they embrace? Who will embrace? Unfortunately trust, in many sports and athletes, is lost; and while we are a forgiving society, there are many who may never recover.

This all reinforces the current consumer sentiment and adds to the barrage of mistrust and skepticism lately – oil spills, tainted dog food/milk, greedy banks, corrupt mortgage brokers, shuttered local businesses. People today need to find an escape from some of these hard realities.

As we create and implement brand promises, we must strive to help our clients fulfill their promises to consumers so that as to not become another one to fail the people.