oprah hates your billboard

I don’t think Oprah would be happy that you put a QR code on a billboard.

qr codes on highway billboards are dumbBut put aside the whole distracting driving and near certain chance of death thing and just use some common sense.

In this great article about the shortcomings of QR codes, the author found that:

it took an average of 47 seconds for them to take out their phone and find the application to read the QR code — not exactly a “quick response.”

My rule for highway billboards has always been “one idea, you’ve only got three seconds” as the audience zips past. QR codes just don’t fit that. That’s not to ban them from all outdoor or transit placements. In a place where people are bored and waiting (bus stops, subway platforms/cars, etc), I think they work great.

The bigger problem here lies in that what SHOULD be an excellent tool to sync your mobile marketing strategy is rapidly jumping the shark because marketers are misusing it. The idea of QR codes has also trickled down to the dead-wood-from-the-neck-up managerial level who have no idea what they’re doing. Use a QR code where it makes sense, not just because you can use it.

My list of bad placements for QR codes continues to grow:

  • Highway Billboard
  • Tombstone (not the pizza)
  • TV commercial
  • Tattoo (not the Fantasy Island one)
  • Web site (use a link, not a 47 second detour!)
  • What’s the worst placement of a QR code that you’ve seen?

frenzied oprah chickens

finger lickin' goodYou know, it looks like businesses would learn from other companies’ mistakes.

After several big corporations failing to deliver with large scale national freebie giveaways in the last few months, KFC decided to fail larger than anyone with its free grilled chicken giveaway.

Actually, I fully expected KFC to mess this up as soon as I heard they were doing it. (The Colonel has been spinning in his grave for awhile.) But the extent that they have managed to tick off customers and hurt the brand would even impress John Y.

There are reports of KFCs running out of food, local KFC managers refusing to accept the coupon/vouchers, and more.

The Gothamist even had a report of a sit-in/riot at a KFC in NYC…

I went over to our nearest KFC a few minutes ago…and chaos ensued. Despite the very visible grilled chicken behind the register, the manager told everyone with coupons to leave and that the promotion was over for the day. The people there are currently holding a sit-in and refusing to leave until they get their free chicken…or the cops are called. Racial epithets were being spewed, people who actually wanted to pay for chicken were facing a potential beatdown, and the manager ran from the screaming horde. Oprah, what have ye wrought?

There are lessons for all marketers here:
–If you’re doing a mass giveaway through an online channel, you must anticipate the fact that you’ll need additional resources. The first wave of customers getting ticked off wasn’t redeeming these things — it was trying to access and print them online.
–Sampling of a new product is fine. Do it on a local level. This was too much to too many people.
–COMMUNICATION between the marketers and the people on the front lines has to be crystal clear. There also has to be buy-in from the people on the ground. Most of these problems for KFC are coming from individual franchisees (because they’re getting the short end of the stick / chicken bone here)
–When you’re doing a large promotion, think of the worst case scenario and come up with a response before you launch it. Is there a decent probability that your worst case scenario may happen? Don’t do the promotion.
–If you’re going to involve Oprah, expect large results.
–With free food, always expect a mob mentality. It’s a primal need that’s way down in the subconscious.

KFC had already decided to hurt their brand with this extension anyway, even before the problems. (kentucky FRIED chicken shouldn’t be serving GRILLED chicken)

I’m more interested in seeing if this will hurt the Oprah brand — and I think it will.

oprah eats zuckerberg

oprah facebook zuckerbergWell, in case you were wondering, it’s official. Facebook has now gone completely mainstream. Zuckerberg was on Oprah today.

Apparently, Zuckerberg likes to have a weird interview every March. There was his fiasco last year at SXSW and then there was this Oprah thing. You could tell he had been coached but watch the video — was he really interviewed? It was worse than a Kathie Lee/Hoda attack with the hosts playing the part of the interviewer and the interviewee.

I liked when they asked him what to do when someone you don’t like wants to be your friend and he just completely ignored the question. He could run for President. And it was that way for most things they “asked” him. What does it mean to “poke”? How do people buy you drinks? Etc. I’m waiting for some Oprah addicts to request friendship from me now.

btw — did you read my facebook conspiracy theory tweet today?

mommy blog versus the big O

One of the 5 or so books that are in my head ready to be written is about the marketing power of Oprah.

It’s tentatively titled “The Oprah Effect” and it would look at the products/services/people that she has “touched”. The book would examine the marketing impact these things (both in her own empire and the things she endorses) have picked up from her and how businesses could achieve the Oprah effect without Oprah.

(Aside: It’s the one book in my head that I won’t write without a good publisher behind me. So if you’re a good publisher or know one — it’s chris AT shotgunconcepts dot com)

Anyway — because of the potential of the book, I monitor what’s going on with the “O” probably more than is healthy for a 30-something male.

Here’s something that I’ve noticed in the past couple of weeks. Oprah has supposedly participated in a 21 day cleanse where you purge caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products from your diet. She has endorsed it through her media channels and even blogged (I think with a ghostblogger) while she did it.

Ah. The blog. While Oprah is the queen of traditional media, she is not the queen of new media. I think Heather is. (Dooce currently has over 9200 comments on one post. She’s running a contest, but still.)

Heather started the cleanse at Oprah’s beckoning and she and her friend got sick because of the cleanse. (Apparently, your body needs toxins. Pass the nacho cheese, please.)

So you have the world’s most powerful woman endorsing something that the world’s most powerful female blogger got deathly ill doing. Who will win? Traditional or new media?