Ben Perreira

My head's dropbox.

Month: February, 2013

Goosing the Gander

What’s good for the goose, they say, is good for the gander. This aphorism illuminates a useful principle – an action between two parties should provide mutual benefit.

In commercial settings, what is good for the brand (the consumer’s money) is good for the consumer (the brand’s goods). There is not a ton of controversy here. If someone thinks a product/ service is worth it, he will buy it. Otherwise he will not.

The question is: can marketing can add any value to this equation, or is the gander just being goosed by these brands? I would say yes, and no. As I’ve written before, marketing simplifies our decisions for us, but it does not inherently create a dishonest exchange. It allow us to make cognitive shortcuts by reinforcing what we already know (that Coca-Cola makes us feel good) or what we want to be (elite athletes like those in Nike ads). If we find that the brand’s message and product/ service offerings disconnect we will purchase those from other brands.

The act of marketing a brand, or creating differentiation from its competitors, also allows us, as consumers, to differentiate ourselves. Far from advocating that we all purchase a suite of brands that speaks to us, this means that we use products to tell a story about what we believe and do.

Is someone who wears Ed Hardy tees, Gucci shades and drives a Lamborghini any different than someone who wears blank tees, shops for her food at a co-op and only rides a road bike? From a branding perspective there is not much of a difference. They are both making statements about who they are, who they want to be and who they want to attract.

As long of brands keep their promises about their offerings and consumers want to stand out from each other, the process of brand development will continue.

Love and Data

I love data. I pore over research all day, from financials about markets I’m working in to behavioral data. I love data, but I’m not “in love” with data.

The problem is not in the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. The problem is in how the inputs are administered and by whom – bias created by conducting research. 

If I wanted to make a ton of money in the next couple years I would start a firm that offers Big Data solutions to big firms. My firm would use huge amounts of data to tell stories about the way people act and predict how they will act in the future. I do want to make money, but I don’t want to be dishonest about it, and this path would be intellectually dishonest. Data needs context to approach utility.

“Moneyball” was a blessing and a curse for the use of data to make decisions. On one hand it showed how insights from statistics can create marketplace advantages. On the other hand it made it tempting to go to Big Data for all decisions. It’s easy to forget that the competition often has the same data and that the market quickly finds equilibrium again. 

The best companies today are using data without overusing data. They’re competing for the long haul over quick wins.

Predictions: Sports Media

Recently a former client asked me for my picks of the top three trends in sports media over the next three years. They are all underway in some stage and I think they will change the way we watch sports for the better.

Digital for Local: In the last few years there has been an explosion of regional sports networks (RSNs). They have gone from 1-2 per major city to essentially a requirement for any team in a medium to large market. Los Angeles may have as many as six RSNs by next year. The next step is for fans in these markets is to be able to access the content on digital platforms (tablet, laptop or PC, but not so much mobile for live sports). I’m sure it’s happening in some markets and it will continue to grow through authenticated portals. This will be especially turnkey with RSNs owned by cable providers like Time Warner and Comcast.

Bilingual Network: I have worked quite a bit in Hispanic media. One of the things that makes this market so fascinating is its diversity. Many Latinos are fully bilingual and bicultural. What this means for sports is that many of them watch some sports in English and some in Spanish. A network that creates the right mix would be a huge win for viewers and advertisers.

Social Media Integration: Fans love sports for the drama on the court and the backstories off the court. Integrating social media cues into broadcasts in a way that allows fans to interact with teams and players makes those stories more compelling. Twitter recently partnered with Nielsen to provide ratings based on Twitter activity. This makes sense because fans don’t want to see a Twitter ticker feed on TV as much as they want to get onto social platforms to see what other fans and experts are saying. This is one way for networks to gauge audience engagement and the power of the content. I suspect we will also see more exclusive content for social media and tie-ins with digital viewing. 

Beautiful (How to Kill Through Jargon)

I really enjoy reading about new technology. I have worked for startups and currently do marketing strategy for a mobile carrier. I stay up on trends because I have to and want to. It is one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic industries today.

Techies are notoriously nerdy and fall deeply in love with their products. As such, they also hate certain products in the same way some people hate their ex’s. The passion is pure.  

There is one word, however, that kills the credibility of a techie: beautiful. (Your favorite tech blog has countless examples.)

My objection with “beautiful” is simple. It is meant to be ironic, I hope, but it is trite and cliche. It is overly convenient when other descriptors would suffice: ergonomic, seamless, intuitive, or simply functional.

Just as a standard for good design is when nothing can be taken out (see previous post), good product descriptions require disambiguation. If “beautiful” can be used for iPhones, Nexus tablet components, mobile apps and desktops, it is too vague. 

If technologists want to expand their influence by incorporating a wider swath of people, they would be well served to speak to them in more descriptive, less insider terms.

Please. Anything but “beautiful.”

Good Design

I think it was Steve Jobs who said something along the lines of, “Something is well-designed not when nothing else can be added, but when nothing else can be removed.”

More than a quote from a successful guy who created great products, this is a universal truth, of sorts. If something isn’t absolutely necessary it should be removed. Everything that remains in the final product has a purpose. That holds true for product features across categories – cars, cell phones, computers, shoes, shirts and snowboards. 

Cut the fat and give the people what they want.

Winning With Integrity

It seems like every week a story comes accusing athletes of either cheating on their wives or cheating their competition. From Tiger Woods to Lance Armstrong to Mark McGwire to Kobe Bryant, athletes are under the microscope for what they do off the field as much as on the field. 

Still, as much as we like to eavesdrop on their personal lives, there is a big difference in how these athletes are treated after the scandals if they are on the field, and rightfully so. That is not to say extramarital affairs are ok, per se, but that a professional is only eligible for redemption for misgivings if they occur beyond the confines of sidelines.

Take Ray Lewis, who was accused of double murder in 2000 and just in the last few weeks was accused of using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The legal system absolved him of the murder charge (to the dismay of many, perhaps), but the jury is still out on the PEDs. He is one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, but one must wonder what will happen to his legacy if he is found to have used banned substances in the same year his team won the Super Bowl. I would suspect his legacy should and would take a huge hit.

Michael Vick was greeted with open arms upon his release from jail after he was convicted of animal abuse. He did his time for a heinous crime.

Lance Armstrong, on the other hand, will have a tough time coming back from lying to the public for over a decade about his PED use, and for even going as far as to sue someone for libel for accusing him of doping. 

(Tangent on Armstrong: Some of his former sponsors have said they will attempt to claw back some former payments, likely reaching into the millions. I believe they are not justified in doing so. The public thought Armstrong was a hero at the time and the brands got what they paid for. The brands will have a tough time proving that the damage is still being caused after his admission of steroid use and the termination of the contract. I’m staying tuned to see what happens.)

Sports fans love the drama created when our favorite athletes and teams triumph in uncertain situations. We love when they overcome adversity and even legal trouble. We don’t love when we find out athletes cheat. We can accept losing, but we cannot accept cheating.