Monthly Archives: November 2009

an unsustainable trend

sooner or later there's nothing left to shrinkIn today’s digital world there’s more time spent on measuring than creating. The word used is metrics, and it refers to how the bean counters parse a grasshopper’s head hair into a thousand different points of occasionally interesting reference.

Here’s one metric that doesn’t require an introducton or a powerpoint full of pie charts. I call it “fatness”.

The 2010 Motorcycle Product News Buyer’s Guide arrived in today’s mail – and it didn’t take Spidey Sense to figure out PDQ that the gas tank’s nearly empty.

My “fatness” index clearly proves that MPN’s Buyer’s Guide lost 3/16″ over the past 12 months, going from a still respectable 1/2″ in December, 2008, to an anemic 5/16″ in December, 2009. At one time this annual issue required a small burro to transport.

It’s no secret that A) advertisers are fleeing print and that B) powersports is leaking market like the Titanic took on ice water. This isn’t about any particular brand or channel. It’s just an honest take on a distressing trend that shows no signs of improvement.

As someone comfortable in either print or web I see a massive error in judgement in the stampeded abandonment of print advertising for the evolving medium of the internet. For a great take on how monster good advertising does work, and more importantly about how the entire retail conversation is interrelated, check the blog entry by Social Media guru Chris Brogan on his prediction about the future of retail.

what: lunch box tie-ins aren’t available?

rockin' it, Sportster styleAdweek’s post on The Motor Company’s latest hail Mary makes me seriously wonder if Anyone’s Got A Clue Up On Juneau Ave. This is a brand in total freefall.

According to the release, H-D “…hopes to ride onto screens large and small in coming months. The motorcycle brand announced last week that it is has teamed up with entertainment consulting agency Davie Brown Entertainment for a major product placement push in film, TV, music and video games.” Folks, hope is not a strategy.

Corporate ad director Dino Bernacchi explained that, “We want to use it to socialize Harley-Davidson motorcycling . . . Entertainment can sensationalize the excitement and thrill of riding to the point of moving people to check it out.” Did you get that? Socialize Harley-Davidson motorcycling? Sensationalize the excitement? I’m not even going to ask what that bafflement of babble-speak gibberish is supposed to mean, because I really don’t want to know. But if Grand Theft Auto’s the model for consideration, it’s worse than it looks.

Listen to Sr. V-P for Davie Brown Entertainment Rob Souriall make the case: “They (Harley-Davidson)  do a great job (ummm, not so much) of speaking to the core male 35-plus, but we want to open up the sport of motorcycling riding to the younger guys, women, African Americans, Hispanics…really broaden the demo.” Pure genius. Wait for it. Meanwhile he’s drawing a paycheck.

Lets rewind. After all-too-recent placement laughingstocks like Wild Hogs and the Viva Viagra over-the-hill ads, it’s difficult to recall what it really took to connect testosterone to Harleys in a different time and space: the movie genre typified by Hells Angels On Wheels. The small screen quickly caught up in prime time with Then Came Bronson, allowing Michael Parks to catapult James Dean derivative mumbling into an art form. Like twin sons of different mothers, sorta’.

But seriously, how do you “…really broaden the demo,” without denying the modern era heritage once and for all? Sons of Anarchy notwithstanding.

take advantage of all that’s offered

the Public Relations Student Society of America put together a social media program in TampaOne of the great benefits of membership in a professional organization is the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the unsung meeting committees’ hard work. Over the past four weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend four functions by four different groups in two states, with three more events to participate in through the rest of November.

My business delivers public relations and advertising, nearly all of it conducted digitally and absolutely all of it in a state of flux. For instance, much of the buzz these days revolves around social media – what it is and how it works. Some experts are, some wish they were, but it’s all part of learning what works and what doesn’t and local events are a big part of keeping up to date in a social context.

Five weeks ago the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Tampa hosted a roundtable on social media trends. The following week I was in Baton Rouge for a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) chapter meet-up. Next, back home, where the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) hosted a fascinating look at the metrics used to measure social media’s ROI by industry expert Josh Hallet. And last week PRSA Tampa Bay held their semi-annual Professional Development Day, featuring speakers from Disney PR and Media Relations, nationally syndicated columnist Chris Elliott and a state and local editorial and media relations panel discussing best practices for targeting niche markets.

Rounding out this fall’s mini-seminars next week are (so far) an Adobe User Group font management workshop, a PRSA Independent Practitioner’s meeting and an Ad Fed Tampa Bay luncheon featuring Nike’s digital agency R/GA’s creative director Jim Hord.

By taking advantage of the often thankless task born by the commmittee members who not only come up with themes but tirelessly pursue speakers, venues, sponsors and not least of all caterers who can work a budget without having the room turn ugly on them, I get the benefit of strategic thinking offered by peer vetted pros from a variety of disciplines.