Chemical companies develop new synthetic human hair wigs

Recently, chemical companies have been using polymers to create synthetic human hair with great success. You can’t really see the difference in today’s wigs. For those who rely on wigs for cosmetic purposes, this is a huge advancement.

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Birth Cry! This is Not a Post.

This post is more than a post. It is the birth cry celebrating a brand new blog: today, on the 4 December 2005 was born

Doctor Marcom, also the man behind this eponym blog (and in a word, me!), proudly welcomes you to this virtual 21th century communication space.

Even if he has a personal interest for medicine and heath-related domains, Doctor Marcom does not practice medicine. Doctor Marcom is a marketing and communication professional. And like many marketing professionals, he works for:

  • a revolutionary company,
  • leader on its market,
  • that is full of imaginative and strongly committed employees,
  • that is lead by visionary and charismatic top-level executive people,
  • that has established a worldwide network of reliable business and technological partners,
  • and where Doctor Marcom’s job is to advertise non-less revolutionary products and customized solutions that revolutionize the world of today and will create the future.

Does it ring a bell?

You’re right: that deja vu description sounds a bit like the corporate boilerplate of one of those millions of companies that are all leaders on their markets and revolutionizing the world. Yes, you marketers, advertisers, communication professionals and other white-collars, I might be your colleague next door.

And for all of you reading these lines, I might be the worst nightmare of your buying needs and wants (or call it ‘purchase envy’). In all cases, the man trying to let you think that you need to buy more things than you actually need. The man whose job is to sell you more, more and always more.

I could be the man behind that appetizing ad that made you buy the brand new cherry-lemon-low-fat-frozen-transgenic ice cream of some famous food brand the last time you went to your ultra-mega-hyper-giga-gaga-supermarket (and by the way, the ad forgot to mention about the transgenic property of the ice cream). I could also be the man who designed the scenario of the flashy trailer of that Hollywood blockbuster that you want to go and see next Saturday night. Or I could be the brain behind the aggressive mailing and phoning campaign trying to get you move to that new-mini-all-inclusive-pay-as-you-go-no-contract-to-sign-just-for-you-special offer for your mobile phone.

Now you know a bit more and still not too much about me, let me shortly give you my motivation for creating this blog. You may already have guessed it while reading my sarcastic description of what being a marketing professional is: my main objective is to provide a critical view on marketing, advertising and everything that relates to it, from products, services and processes to people wherever they are in the buying process (from product designers to marketers to customers).

This blog will contain news, facts, thoughts, and insights based upon my work and life as a marketing professional. You’ll be able to see the world through my marketing perverted eyes. In one way or the other, I hope that it will provide some form of help and stimulation to my colleagues within the professional marketing community. My other objective is to contribute to the spreading of a popular knowledge of marketing to the man and woman in the street. We’re all consumers and we’d better know how marketing works if we want to protect ourselves from its sometime pernicious attacks.

This post is intentionally meant to be provocative. But trust your noble host: marketing is not all dark. To end up with a light and nice touch, let me leave you here with Magritte’s masterpiece: ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’, which translates from the French as ‘This is not a pipe’. The title of my post is inspired from this painting.

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World AIDS Day 2005: When Advertising Saves Lives.

There are days when advertising can be considered as a noble art: the World AIDS Day – the international day of action on HIV and AIDS which takes place every year on 1 December – is one of those.

Every year, the World AIDS Day represents one of those opportunities for advertisers and designers around the world to use their communication skills and creativity for noble causes. The results are usually very creative ads, most of them being the fruits of voluntary, unpaid work coming from some of the greatest communication agencies.

Required by Sida Info Service – the French Aids information service – BDDP & Fils 2005 campaign will undoubtly catch your attention, whether you like it or not. One poster targets the male gay community: the shocking visual displays a homosexual male who has been stabbed and killed by a male sex. The associated tagline reads: ‘Don’t let ignorance spoil your life’ (translated from the French ‘Ne gâchez pas votre vie par ignorance‘).

Three other posters that are part of BDDP & Fils 2005 campaign targets a more global audience, even if we would dream of having no audience or ‘market’ at all for that kind of ad. The posters show disturbing images of AIDS-mutilated bodies, while relying on the same sarcastic tagline: ‘You’re right when not protecting yourself from AIDS. You can live perfectly well with it.’(translated from the French ‘Vous avez raison de ne pas vous protéger du SIDA, on vit très bien avec‘).

The visual metonomy used – that is, the usage of a part of the body to stand for the whole body – makes the presence of the disease appear as very suble and atrocious in the same time. Those little rotten hair, toes and tooth that speak for the whole body seem to tell: AIDS is not always visible at first sight, but it is well-present and slowly decomposing human bodies and killing people. I am not sure if the aggressiveness of such a campaign will have the intended, right effects on everybody. But it will certainly shock you, and you will remember it once you see it.

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Viral, Guerrilla Marketing against AIDS

To mark the 2005 World Aids Day and promote condom use, the government of Buenos Aires (Argentina) covered the city’s famous Obelisk with a giant 220-foot, pink condom (left image below).

Just like AIDS, this guerrilla marketing idea seems to be viral. Buenos Aires operation is indeed a sequel to the campaign of the French association Act Up for the 2003 World Aids Day. Together with Benetton, Act Up had placed a giant 72-foot, pink condom on the obelisk in Place de la Concorde in Central Paris (right image below).

What a better way than to give symbolic monuments a new, present social function and use their popularity to stress the reality of the AIDS disease and the better way to stop the infection?

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Viacom: ‘United Colors of AIDS’

We will never insist enough on this:
AIDS victimizes everybody, whatever their age, skin, height, weight, color, sex and sexual inclination. AIDS is everybody’s concern!

This is what the Viacom – Kenneth Cole ‘We All Have AIDS’ 2005 campaign clearly reminds us, by showing a powerful and provocative picture of what could have been the most dark version of Beneton’s advertising: a kind of ‘United Colors of AIDS’.

The campaign posters – based on a photograph by renowned photographer Mark Seliger – bring together celebrities and high-profile people including President Nelson Mandela, Tom Hanks, Elton John, Will Smith, Alicia Keys and many others.

The tagline ‘We All Have AIDS…If One Of Us Does’ makes it clear: if one person is affected by the disease, we all have a responsibility to join the fight. The campaign objective is to stimulate solidarity and to encourage everybody to learn more, protect themselves, and get tested.

On Viacom’s knowhivaids web site, you will find a complete directory of their advertising initiatives (TV, radio and outdoor) for years 2003 to 2005. You can even ask for free copies of a booklet entitled ‘Get Informed, Get The Facts’ to learn more about HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

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Late X-mas Gifts: What about Advertising Culture?

Christmas is coming very soon. For those who are running late with their X-mas gifts, here is a shortlist of books that might help. All books are related to advertising. They are all best sellers, either explaining fundamentals of advertising, or focusing on very original advertising approaches and bizarre, funny, striking examples.

They are excellent cultural gifts for everyone, and they are just gems for those interested in advertising and visual, graphical design. They are also true food for thought for those interested in photography, design, sociology, slogan writing, media communication, product experience, brain manipulation, selling power, and so on.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR EVERYBODY, from the consumer to the psychologist or advertiser:

Advertising and the Mind of the ConsumerA must for your knowledge and awareness. This book dissects the advertising process and analyzes the anatomy of an ad: what works, what does not, and why. It fills the gap between theory and practice, with plenty of concrete examples.
Creative AdvertisingA delicious visual ‘eye-candy’ book. This book contains over 200 examples of international advertising coming from magazines, billboards, television, movies, and the Internet. It reveals the thinking process and fascinating methods used to create the most original and effective campaigns of recent years.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR SPECIALISTS, from the advertising professional to the academic learner:

Casting for Big Ideas At a time where clients cut back ad budgets, the author explores some real opportunities of the future of advertising. Full of advice and strategies for agency heads who want their businesses to stand the test of time.
The Advertising BusinessA knowledge bank of theory and successful practices by an authoritative figure in the field of advertising. All aspects of the business are covered: agency management, client service, creativity, media planning, operations, and specialty advertising.
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What is Vlogging? An Analysis of ‘Video Communication for All’

After blogs and podcasts, vlogs are the latest, hottest communication means in the new media space. The word vlog is the blend of ‘video’ and ‘blog’. A vlog is a blog which uses video as the primary content. iTunes also uses the term video podcast to describe a vlog.

In a way, vlogs can be considered as democratic TV. Getting your own vlog is like getting your privately-own TV studio, and producing your own TV-show. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s free or it requires a very affordable investment in tools. With vlogs, you can communicate anything you like to the world with all the possibilities that the video format has to offer:

  • You’re no more simply telling people what you think, be it with written or oral words.
  • You’re no more restricted with the motionless nature of photos and illustrations.
  • You don’t need anymore to be an expert multimedia designer to create complex high tech animations.

With vlogs, you can now and simply SHOW the world what you think. The vlog community is increasing on a daily basis, including already famous vloggers like the ones from RocketBoom or Steve Garfied. Vlogs can also integrate virtual videos, like the homemade one produced by Alex Chan with software from a $70 video game (a technique called machinima): The French Democracy. The author wanted to make a political statement, countering what he deemed an inaccurate coverage of the riots in French suburbs. The video spread worldwide like wildfire, illustrating the increasing of blog-empowered, individual communication.

From a communication standpoint, vlogs clearly open brand new doors. Let me give you two concrete examples that directly come to my mind.

Example 1: Vlogs for municipal, governmental and public communication.
Imagine that you are the mayor of a nice, little village lost in the countryside. Your objective is to reinforce local identity among your citizens. Why would you hire an expensive TV company to develop your local TV channel with all the editorial, contractual and technological intricacies that it implies, when you can get your own vlog for the simple price of a journalist in charge of producing your contents on a regular basis. Not only reinforcing local identity, your vlog – being accessible worldwide – may even be one of the best way to develop tourism in your region. Obviously, this also applies to big cities wanting to promote district, social and cultural initiatives, or others.

Example 2: A vlog as your interactive resume.
Certain jobs are more ‘visual’ than others. Vlogs may be the ideal media for artists and others (such as actors, lecturers, live journalists, stuntmen, painters, graphical designers, architects, jugglers…) to promote their skills and arts. If I were an actor, what a better way than my own vlog to demonstrate my performance skills: one emotion a day and all the casting directors get it. On Monday, they get my smile. On Tuesday, they get my anger. And Wednesday, they get my crazyness. And so on. Be creative!

That was for the positive aspects related to vlogs. Still, don’t be abused. Vlogs also come with shortcomings, that is, the ones related to the video format:

  • Today’s technology does not enable to get rich and efficient indexing of vlogs by search engines. As such, vlogs distribution is limited by its very own nature.
  • The video format is linear. It requires the viewer to learn the information at the speed and rhythm predefined by the video. This is also true for the audio format, whereas textual information enables reading back and forth, skim-reading and so on. Text-based information versus audio-based and video-based information: this is an old debate!
  • The video format is a heavy one, especially when speaking about the Internet and other mobile technologies. Even if good compressors today exist, a video file will always remain heaviest to download/broadcast than a text file.

All in all, vlogs are democratic, free and easy video communication that can turn any citizen into a TV journalist. They can also be considered as an innovative way to transform professional communication: applications seem obvious in the fields of e-learning, internal communication, and PRs, just to name a few. The launch of Apple’s video-enabled, 5G iPod has recently boosted ‘vlogging’. Vlogs integrate quite well in the mobile technology trends and can be a relevant marketing tool to touch those young, modern and mobile e-communities. Don’t be a laggard, surf the wave: vlog it and see if it works for you!

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UNICEF: Drawing against AIDS

Yes, this is one more post related to AIDS. It has been the 4th this month and the explanation is two-fold:

  • Advertising against AIDS is always very creative.
  • The cause itself deserves our best attention.

So, I wanted to benefit from the World Aids Day 2005 to make December 2005 my month against AIDS. This is my personal way of spreading the word and contributing to the global effort against the disease.

As already reminded in a previous post, AIDS can affect everybody. It also affects the youngest among us, children. It can affect them in two ways:

  • Either directly, by infecting them: you have to know that one child dies every minute of every day from the disease.
  • Or indirectly: AIDS deprives children from their parents everyday.

That’s what reminds us the winning poster design of an international advertising competition – co-sponsored by UNICEF and Clear Channel Outdoor (one of the world’s leading outdoor advertising companies) – to raise awareness of the enormous impact of HIV/AIDS on children. The poster – created by a South African ad agency named Bester Burke – depicts a child’s drawing of two graves, marked by crosses, and a girl, with the words ‘Mommy, Daddy, me’. It was chosen from 300 entries.

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Autodesk’s Blog Survey: Blogs as Marketing, Sales and CRM Tools

Autodesk – one of the leading software editor in 2D/3D design and modeling – is conducting a survey on new communication technologies such as blogs, podcasts, and RSS feeds.

The survey – that can be accessed from their home page – asks visitors about:

  • Their profiles (age, sex, profession, industry sector…)
  • Their information-gathering habits (independent media, vendor web sites, personal blogs…) and possible needs as far as product search, usage and assessment are concerned.
  • Their ties with Autodesk products (which ones do they use and how often and deep?).

Most questions focus on blogs and aim at assessing the respondents’ degrees of knowledge and enthusiasm for this new communication media. At the end of the survey, you are provided with the following list blogs related to CAD and Autodesk solutions…

While some companies – including some selling high-tech, ‘Space Age’ products – are still using Stone Age marketing and communication, others always try and leverage emerging technologies not only to facilitate the product innovation in their R&D department, but also to revolutionize their marketing and communication strategies and boost their sales.

From a customer’s point of view, Autodesk’s blog survey demonstrates their commitment to innovativeness and customer relationship management. Also, the list of blogs that they provide at the end of the survey – while presenting the traditional risks related to the endorsement of second-hand information – will undoubtedly generate very positive word of mouth among the most dynamic individuals in the CAD and Autodesk communities. If only 50% of the bloggers cited in the list take the info back on to their blogs (and believe me, they will!), I let you imagine the power of that information spread: this is very cheap and efficient viral marketing!

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Spanish Lottery ‘La Bruixa d’Or’ Offers Viral e-Cards

For Christmas 2005 and the New Year 2006, the famous Spanish lottery organization – La Bruixa d’Or – offers the possibility to send X-mas ecards from its web site.

The Flash e-card displays the logo man of La Bruixa D’or, who will be your messenger to announce your best wishes to your family, friends and colleagues in a light-speed, singing and joyful Spanish. This Spanish Santa Claus uses his broom first as a microphone, and then as a guitar while mimicking the famous tap dancing of ACDC guitarist Angus Young.

The site also offers other ‘X-mas goodies’ such as a melody for your mobile phone and the possibility to alert you by SMS if your number comes out in the special Christmas lottery. The card is definitely very funny, even for those not understanding Spanish. A user-friendly interface enables you to choose among different messages for your card, should you want to use it to send your X-mas or New Year wishes, to congratulate someone for an exam success, and so on.

It is one of those viral marketing initiatives that may generate very good return on investment. For the affordable development price of Flash ecard, La Bruixa d’Or will be able:

  • To collect a good number of email addresses, among which a certain number of prospective customers.
  • To boost its brand awareness.
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