Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mobile Marketing Fail

I love my iPhone. It is one of the best pieces of technology, if not the best, that I have ever owned. It really makes my life easier & better. Since iOS5 I moved all my email from Hotmail over to iCloud for better syncing between my phone and email account. Then, I got this email from Hotmail, saying that they have improved the iPhone experience.


Honestly the email is good. Good subject line, simple design, clear, obvious calls to action, and they have made it pretty interactive with the like and dislike buttons. Being an iPhone user the most interesting part of this email was 'Hotmail on the go'.

They say "We've improved the Hotmail experience on all major smartphones including the iPhone". Being on my iPhone at the time, I was intrigued as to what these improvements could be. Had they fixed the sync issue? So I clicked the link and got taken to this wonderful page:

Despite claiming that they have made some improvements to their mobile mail application, the experience trying to actually see what those improvements are was a fail.

I managed to see what the benefits really were when I got back on my PC, and they have not fixed the syncing issue yet, so the unfailure for this blog post is... iCloud mail. Well, that's part of it.

The main unfailure here is making sure that the mobile experience from your email marketing is as seamless as possible for the people who consume your marketing on their mobile devices. In a recent study conducted by Knotice, they found that mobile email opens accounted for over 20% of total emails opened. This shows why it's crucial that your email can be properly consumed on mobile devices.

This number is only going to grow as more and more people get smart phones and the phones themselves get better. Make sure you have a good email marketing template that works across multiple devices and that your landing pages are optimized for mobile users... especially if you are targeting your message directly at that audience!

Monday, November 21, 2011

TV Commercial Fail

Like I mentioned in my first post, I wanted to start this blog to have some fun, but also to help businesses with their marketing. This week, I am featuring a TV commercial from one of my favorite Greek restaurants in Ottawa, Pilos.


Last night was a typical Saturday night, watching some Hockey Night in Canada over at a friend's place when this commercial came on. It was perfect timing too, because I was just thinking I needed some new material for the blog.

Where do I start with this one? I'm guessing the creative process went something like this:
  1. Let's focus on our great food
  2. Let's play some traditional music so people know it's a greek restaurant
  3. Let's have our name and address so people can find us
They had all the right ingredients here, however the execution was poor. The rotating shots of their dishes make the food look bad, and aside from the music and colours, I really don't think there was enough focus on the fact that it is a Greek restaurant.

Being someone who has been to this restaurant before I KNOW the food is really good, but if this was my first exposure to it, this commercial would probably not compel me to go to the restaurant.


This commercial looks like it was put together with a powerpoint presentation with some music edited over it. I'm sure they had a small budget for production, and it shows. 

Here's the thing: purchasing ad space is not cheap. Buying expensive ad space and then using a cheap commercial is like saving up to go out for dinner at a really nice restaurant showing up in sweatpants and a Nascar shirt. You give off the wrong impression.

If you are going to drop the money to market to the masses, make sure you are lead with your best foot forward. If I was doing an ad for this business, I would do something like this:
  • Show a beautiful shot of the Mediterranean sea and a typical Greek village
  • Have someone dressed in traditional Greek clothing, enjoying themselves
  • Show a chef slicing off some lamb off a kebab
  • Tagline, 'Experience the best Greek cuisine in Ottawa, visit Pilos'
Let people see & taste the actual food when they come into your restaurant. They'll be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Radio Commercial Fail

Take a quick listen to the embedded video, and do it with your eyes closed.

Voice made for magazine ads


Does anything stand out to you? Did you catch the part about 50 fragrances, the exclusivity to the Bay, or the new trailer for the Gucci fragrance? My guess is that you were just focused on the sound of the woman's voice.

The woman in the ad is Bonnie Brooks, and she is the current President and CEO of the Bay. The Bay is Canada's largest merchandise retailer. Mrs. Brooks is an extremely accomplished executive who has worked in many senior positions including in marketing for the world's largest retailers. 

To be honest, I don't have much experience with radio commercials, but I have heard enough of them to know when one stands out. And this one does, but for the wrong reason. Her voice.

Am I the only one who thought her voice was just not made for radio? I decided to go where I always do when I have have a question of critical importance... Twitter. Here is some of what I found:

Needless to say, these people are not very positive, but there were some positive tweets as well, like this one:

You might be thinking to yourself, people are only going to comment on Twitter if it's negative. Well, that's not the case. I looked at ALL the tweets that came up for 'Bonnie Brooks' since the start of November. Here's what I found:
  • 11 - Positive
  • 13 - Neutral
  • 50 - Negative
Out of 74 tweets, 67% of the people commenting on Twitter were negative. What am I trying to say here? These radio ads are having a negative impact on the Bay's overall brand.


I can fully appreciate why a company would use their CEO on their ads. Apple built it's brand around Steve Jobs and look how that turned out. A leader of a company can express the company's voice to the market and can appear as a celebrity in their own right.

The problem is, not everyone was made to do TV and Radio commercials. There is something to be said about hiring talent to do voiceovers or acting. These people just have that certain something that makes your advertising to the next level.

One thing could have saved this commercial from ending up on epic marketing fails is testing. With tools like marketing automation and Twitter it's much easier to gauge how your audience is reacting. The Bay commercials with Bonnie Brooks have been going on for years now. A quick search on Twitter could have shown how their market was reacting.

I really respect what Bonnie Brooks has done for the Bay. Making it a more upscale department store and leveraging the great name that the store has earned over 341 years of business! [Sidenote: That is a long time! I knew they have been around forever but I didn't know it was THAT long]. I hope I am half as successful in my career as she is. I also hope that they figure out another, better way, to leverage their CEO, and leave the radio ads to some hired guns.

This is too good not to share:
Bonnie Brooks impersonator

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I was driving home last week when I saw my inspiration for the first blog post. An epic marketing fail in it's purest form.

QR code on highway on-ramp


When you first look at this image, hopefully the epic marketing fail hits you like a wrench to the face. If not, if you are sitting there thinking "these QR codes are neat and putting them on the side of the highway on-ramp might be a good use of my marketing dollars", then please read this post in it's entirety - I'd like to save you some money.

QR codes are like bar codes. Once scanned they automatically take you to a pre-defined URL that is programmed into the code. These codes are commonly used in print ads to get people from a static ad to an interactive web experience.

I'm guessing the person who put this sign up has never tried to scan one of these codes. If they did they would know that you need to be within a few inches of the code and keep your phone perfectly still for 5-10 seconds before it recognizes it.

I think I'm a pretty good multitasker and driver, but the idea of trying to scan a QR code while accelerating to 100km/h and merging into another lane of traffic is just inhuman. Even if I decided to try scanning this thing, I'd need my QR reader app opened first and be a navy seal QR code sniper to get the thing scanned at that speed.

The failure of this sign rattled my marketing world so much so that I pulled a U-turn, parked in a nearby parking lot and walked up the on-ramp at 11pm at night with my fiancee. I had to know who thought this would be a good idea.

I located the sign, loaded the QR app on my iPhone, kneeled down, pointed my phone at the sign from 7 inches away and timed myself to see how long it look for it to read the sign. The whole process took 42 seconds and then I got to the homepage of this website:

This is why I want to do this blog. I want to help other marketers from making the same mistake. TireChangers is actually a great idea. They come to your house and change your tires (very important here in snowy canadian winters) so that you don't have to go through the hassle of bringing your car into the garage. Brilliant business idea, however the marketing could use some work.


Top 5 tips to avoid your QR code from ending up on Epic Marketing Fails:

1. Make them easy to scan
Think about your audience. They are going to have to take out their phone, find their QR reader app amongst their 162 other apps and wait for it to load. Then they will need to position their phone on the code in the perfect position and wait for the app to recognize the code. This takes time and some patience.

2. Provide clear call-to-action
People are too busy these days to just randomly scan your QR code for the fun of it. You need to give them a reason to scan your code. A discount, a recipe, or a piece of information that they cannot get anywhere else are some good starting points.

3. Make your ad stand on it's own
In a perfect marketing world you create a great compelling ad that makes everyone scan your QR code, but the reality is that the majority of your audience will not scan your code. That doesn't mean that the ad is a waste. Use the bulk of the ad to build your brand and educate your audience. 

4. Build on your ad
Don't send people to your homepage from your QR code. The landing page they get sent to should tie into the ad that they got there from and complete the story that you are trying to tell them. Make it feel personal, like you know where they are coming from and create an experience for the prospect.

5. Track your success
In this day in age, marketers should be able to justify how much revenue they are driving from each of their marketing activities. Ads in which QR codes are being used are no different. Technology has made this possible, but it is still challenging to get to that point. If you aren't there yet, you need to start somewhere, whether it's website hits, # of new customers or pipeline - track something that will enable you to determine if it was a good use of your money.

That's it for this one. Let me know what you guys think. Is this an epic marketing fail? Have you seen worse? I want to hear about them! Over-and-out.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why this blog is not a fail.

I have been thinking about doing a blog for a while now, but since there are millions of blogs out there now about marketing, I thought I would take a slightly different approach.

I would like this to be an educational blog, with a twist. That twist will be that I will post epic marketing fails, outline why they are fails, and what they could have done different to turn those fails into wins.

What I have noticed is that there are several consistencies with fail blogs/videos/pictures:
  • Bicycles
  • Alcohol
  • Rope swings
  • Skateboards
  • Car accidents
  • News reporters
  • People falling down
While these things are all entertaining to watch, you rarely walk away learning something that could actually help your life/career/business... okay maybe I did learn you shouldn't try to karate chop coconuts on a hard metal railing:

My hope is that by breaking down where some of our fellow marketers have gone wrong, that we can all have a laugh and maybe even learn something from it.

Let's see how this goes. I have a couple of ideas for my first post, but I will have to think about what I want to start with.