do as they say not as they do

Q. — As a general rule, what industry (as a whole) has the worst web sites?
A. — Ad Agencies.

I’ve noticed most agency web sites have a few common characteristics:

  • Rule #1: Flash!
  • Staff / Management Bios: Wacky, fun, and meaningless. There is a über-creative photo of the person pretending to have fun.
  • Site Navigation: Not at the top, bottom, left, or right. In order to click around to the other pages on the site, you’ll need to take a bus to another location.
  • Contact Info: Phone numbers, emails, etc hidden on the most illogical page possible.
  • Office Pictures: Two ways to go here. 1) If it’s an “agency” of one guy with a Mac in his bedroom, then you’ll see some creative use of stock photography. 2) If it’s a real “agency”, the wackiness continues with pics of the foosball table, the aquarium, and the video game area to show potential clients how their billable hours are being wasted while creativity happens.
  • Philosophy: Starts off with “We’re a new type of agency.” and the rest is filled with meaningless jargon and buzzwords.
  • I don’t think we can say it enough: Flash!
  • Portfolio: Just a few logos. Maybe a shot of an ad. The ROI is never mentioned. This link is always called “the work”
  • Blogs: All staff members seem to take turns “writing posts” by copying / summarizing chapters out of the advertising textbooks they couldn’t sell back to their college bookstore.
  • Content: It seems everyone shot down everyone else’s ideas until there was no content left
  • Timeliness: Site is never updated. (except for every few years when the whole thing is torn down and replaced with something similar.) Rinse. Repeat.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Your thoughts?

UPDATE: I published this just a few hours before CP+B launched their new agency site. Looks interesting. http://beta.cpbgroup.com/

that’s just great

Attention Non-profits (and for-profits):
Maybe this is the reason you aren’t getting decent media coverage.

If you’re not putting in the effort to get a pertinent message to the proper media outlet, why should they put in the effort to publicize your cause?

This came from a local office of one of the major national non-profits…mediarelations

(click to make it bigger)

rebranding the hut

hutIn one of the worst “re-branding” moves that I’ve ever seen, Pizza Hut is dropping pizza from its name and will now be known in some locations as just ‘The Hut‘.

What a great move. Trash over 50 years of brand equity for something that makes me think of a dark dank dwelling in the Third World. Of course, it’s been coming for awhile. They’ve brand-extended themselves to oblivion instead of doing the core product (pizza!) well.

What makes it even more sad/funny is the delusion they’ve sold themselves and are now sending out in media relations…

…characterized the name change as an attempt to transform its stores into hip hangouts…..The new “hut” stores will be more than a place to simply pick up some take-out…they will include televisions that broadcast CBS programs such as “Wheel of Fortune” and “Entertainment Tonight.”

Because we all know the kids think that nothing can be more “hip” than Wheel of Fortune. Maybe they could reach back into the CBS archives and air old episodes of ‘Murder She Wrote’ to be even more hip.

They just may have a bad case of self-loathing with their name. They’ve tried to “rebrand” the Pizza Hut name on several previous occasions like “Pizza Hut Pizza & Pasta Cafe”, “Pizza Hut Italian Bistro”, “Pizza Hut WingStreet”, and the half-joking April Fools’ prank, “Pasta Hut”. A smart guy once said “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”

Hey Yum!, listen up. The problem is not the Pizza Hut name. The problem is the customer experience. Even though your spokesperson, Christopher Fuller, gave a cheesy non-answer to real issues, the facts are clear in the public’s mind: Your employees don’t care. Your stores are dirty. Your service is horrible. (In one of my local Pizza Huts, there’s a sign above the lunch buffet that says not to even bother requesting any type of pizza because they aren’t going to do it.) And as I previously said in this post, you have forgotten your core product.

In kneejerk fashion, other chains may follow the move:

  • Dominos will become “Backgammon”
  • Papa Johns will become “Papa Smurfs”
  • McDonalds will become “Mick”
  • Taco Bell will become “The Bell”
  • KFC will become “Sammy Nellas”
  • Burger King will become “CP+B”

your company’s looming social media disaster

Think about if you’ve met any of these cutting edge people…

  • Remember when the Macarena came out? You probably danced it at some public gathering for the few weeks it was popular. Then it went away. And then a few months later, you were at a gathering and a person played the song and thought they were on the hip cutting edge.
  • Someone in your organization just discovered the concept of viral video.
  • Has someone in the last year or so asked you if you were gettin’ jiggy with it?
  • You get chain emails from them that were debunked on snopes.com years ago.

You’ve met these people, right?
These people are currently signing up for Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We’re over the adoption curve hump of Facebook and we’re steadily climbing it for Twitter which means people who aren’t necessarily online competent are now using online tools.

I’m sure you have at least one friend (probably more) on Facebook that you’re embarrassed FOR them because they post inappropriate things, spam you with requests, don’t realize that their friends can see their conversations/posts, etc. They’re new to the space, and still learning the ropes until they find out the proper etiquette.

For as much as the online world is an open-source / free-wheeling / anything-goes community, we all know there are rules…many of them unwritten ones. The community generally supports, instructs, or ignores individual newcomers when these “rules” are broken. (ALL CAPS, spam, chain emails, etc)

But that only goes for individuals. When a company / organization steps out into the water, it’s expected that they know how to swim. And that same supporting community for individuals becomes a lynch mob for corporate entities who make even minor mistakes. You’ve seen it happen.

And just as there are individuals who are laggards to the social media party, there are now companies who see the train passing by and figure they better get on — even if they don’t know what they are doing.

I am not saying that there is a “right way” to do social media. As I once tweeted

how to spot a true “social media expert” — google their name and the phrase “NO, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!

But if your employees are venturing out onto social networks and are carrying the mantle of your organization, they need to at least understand the basics of social media and somewhat be cognizant of the “online rules”. Anything else is just asking for a disaster.

Many companies don’t see this looming disaster because they just see small numbers of customers engaging in social media with the organization and don’t understand the deep implications of making a mistake there. Remember this: Your email list, facebook fans, twitter followers, etc are some of your most important customers. These are the people who have stood up and said I WANT to engage with your company. They are the 20% of the 80/20 rule.

Why are you leaving this important group with the interns or inexperienced employees who have no idea how to talk to them?

bada bing

Lots of people are hating Bing just because it’s from MSFT. I think you can find lots of other reasons to hate it including that Bing can’t seem to find things that are on the Internet — which is the first thing I look for in a search engine.

I really hate this line from their introductory page:

We sincerely hope that the next time you need to make an important decision, you’ll Bing and decide.

Oh snap, Google!  See how they’ve verbed themselves!? What a fabulous marketing tactic for any company:
–Don’t treet my email address.
–Make me a canon of this document.
–Just stick a Curad on it.

chandler bing search engineI also dislike their look. They apparently decided to be everything that Google is not. Google’s page is clean with lots of white space. Bing looks cluttered with a background that is remnicent of a “ahem” PC desktop background.

But the big basic problem is that they’ve just slapped a new look on a pre-existing bad product. Live Search wasn’t good. “Rebranding” by slapping a new name on something is never the answer.

And what about that name? Among many other meanings, Bing means “disease” in Chinese. Nice. It’s callled research, boys. You could have googled it and found out.