Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Ford Fiestamovement is Back!

The Ford Fiestamovement is back.  What does that mean?

In 2009 Ford Motor Company developed a social media marketing experiment to launch their upcoming small car, the Ford Fiesta.  Ford recruited 100 Fiesta "agents" around the country to drive the car, go on missions, and provide social media content.  Agents would drive European versions of the Fiesta, because US version was a year away from production.  According to Ford, the Fiestamovement was a success, and was more cost effective than traditional marketing avenues.  Thousands of people applied, and I was one of the lucky 100 to be selected.  Throughout the summer and fall of 2009,  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr were always alive with agents posting thousands of images and videos about the Ford Fiesta.

As for myself, I was excited about the car before the Fiestamovement concept.  Agents were required to post one video a month for 6 months.  I produced multiple videos a month, because I had so much enthusiasm for the vehicle.

An email went out today to Fiestamovement alumni suggesting we apply for the new edition of the movement.  Ford will apparently be selecting a some "celebrities", Fiestamovement alumni, and a brand new crop of agents.  There are indications that this edition of the Fiestamovement will have a focus on crowd-sourcing content from the agents to be used in marketing.  This time Fiesta Agents will have the vehicle for 8 months rather than 6.  There may also be the possibility that agents will have the option of driving new 1.0 liter 3 cylinder Fiesta, and having cars equipped with MyFordTouch; which is new on the Fiesta for 2014.

What gets me excited is the vehicle above.  The 2014 Turbocharged Fiesta ST may actually be one of the available Fiestamovement Agent vehicles.  The Fiesta ST is up there on the list of possibilities of "my next new car".  The Fiesta ST is lightweight, and has nearly 200 horsepower.  In my opinion, the looks and size of the vehicle are better than it's Focus ST brother.  The new Fiesta ST has available Recaro seats, and MyFordTouch system.  In addition, the manual transmission has 6 gears, something you can't get on a Subaru WRX.

If you are interested in being a part of the Fiestamovement, go to www.fiestamovement.com.  You will need to fill out an application and submit a video entry.  Good luck.

Monday, February 11, 2013

U2's Next Album: Songs Matter

The image above is the album cover of the band U2's last album called No Line on the Horizon.  Do you recognize this album cover?  Is a poster of it on your wall? No, it isn't.

The reason folks don't know about this album is because there were no songs from it that were popular.  There are no songs that resonate with people.

U2 is one of my favorite bands, and it was a shame to see them come from two hit albums, All that you Can't Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb to the weaker No Line on the Horizon.  The simple truth is that songs matter.

The popular band Radiohead made an unpopular album called Kid A after the successful album OK Computer.  Why was Kid A unpopular?  There were few good pop songs.  Songs matter.  It was almost as if Radiohead had collectively acknowledged they were masters at creating great pop songs, and had decided to pursue a decidedly uncommercial route.

There is something magical about a really good song.  There is something complicated about creating a really good song.  If there is one thing U2 needs for their next album in 2013, it is really good songs.

For U2 to remain relevant, they must generate an amazing album.  No Line on the Horizon just feels weak, like an athlete not doing their best.

To emphasize the problem, Bono and The Edge spent a lot of time writing songs for Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.  Do you own any of those songs?  Can you remember any of them?  Can you hum the tune?  I listened to all of the Spiderman song samples on iTunes, and couldn't find a decent tune.  Musicals are supposed to be catchy.  Great pop/rock songs are supposed to be catchy.  Great songs are supposed to remind you of certain times in your life.  Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark reminds me of all the actors that got injured in the musical.  That's all.

What can U2 do for their next album?  What have they done in the past?  U2 can push the sonic envelope.  They can push and pull rock music in directions it has not been to before.  U2 can reinvent themselves.  They have done it before.  The Edge can reinvent the way the guitar is supposed to sound.

When you look at modern rock ove the past 30 years, you can see U2's influence.  Therefore, it is not a lofty request to ask them to reinvent or rejuvenate themselves again.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Nexus 4...Now it's everywhere!

Two weeks ago I wrote a little piece about how hard it was to find the Google Nexus 4 phone, and that folks were charging a ton for them on Ebay.  A couple days after my piece, the Nexus 4 appeared on the Google Play store, and hasn't disappeared.  It looks like LG and Google were able to solve their supply problem.  Some tech sites have estimated that LG produced over 500,000 of the devices in January.

Is the device still desirable 3 months after it's debut?  The price is still low, it's the only way to get a pure Android experience on a new smart phone, and the device is unlocked.  I'd say it's still a great buy.

As a quick comparison, I'd like to remind you that an unlocked 16 GB iPhone 5 from Walmart is $649.

An unlocked 16 GB Nexus 4 is $349.  A $300 difference.  You could almost buy two Nexus 4's for the price of one iPhone 5.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

0-2: What's with Speck Cases?

In the summer of 2010, Apple Computer went through what was called "Antennagate".  When the iPhone 4 was released, people found that when they held onto their phones to speak, the cell reception of the phone decreased.  An iPhone user wrote Steve Jobs about the issue, and he famously replied, "You're holding it wrong."

In a great public relations move, Apple offered a free case to anyone who had purchased an iPhone 4 within a certain period of time.  I qualified to receive a free case, and ordered one from Speck.

When the case arrived, I was very impressed with the packaging.  I kept it for a while to show people, because the copy was quite humorous in places.  It showed the company had some spirit.  The case however was another story.  The case was quite stiff, and hard to take on and off.  On the top of the iPhone there is a button to shut off the screen.  Pressing this button through the Speck case was really tough to do.  I'm not being a wuss, I'm just saying that you have to press so hard the button leaves an impression on your thumb for a minute.  I ended up buying an Owle Bubo and using the case that came with it as my iPhone case.  That case is great, and has lasted me for over 2 years.

In the Spring of 2012, I purchased an iPad 3, and ordered a Speck case to protect the back of the iPad.  I have had the case for less than a year, and it is cracked to hell.  The case is a hard plastic with a nice almost rubberized grippy texture on the outside.  I really don't think I put very much wear and tear on the product.  I rarely take the iPad outside my house.  You can see a number of cracks around the silver oval magnet in the photo above.

I am seriously considering picking up the $50 Apple iPad case/cover combo.

I may be totally off-base with this idea, but I think that the flaws in both products are a result of being rushed to market.  Let me explain...

When Apple releases a device, there is a mad rush among the major case manufacturers to have a product available at or near the release date of the Apple device.  It is so important to be first, that I think there is a lack of time to thoroughly test the designs.  I don't blame the case makers.  I think they rarely know exactly what the specifications are until the last minute.  Since I acquired my Speck cases soon after the release of the Apple product, that may be the issue.

I wrote this piece because I discovered another crack on my iPad case that may eventually have a chunk of it just falling off.  I don't know what improvements have been made to these cases.  If you look at the Speck website, their products are not inexpensive.  I think I expected a better product from them for these devices.  They may have made modifications to make their ease of use better.  However, I think the consumer will suffer for years to come, as people purchase devices and want to protect them on day 1.  When manufacturers want to keep their products secret, they are less likely to provide them to case designers before the official launch.

Perhaps case manufacturers have learned from their mistakes over the past few years, and will provide customers with better launch day solutions.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Advertising Creativity: So God Made a Farmer

An emotional Dodge Ram ad ran during the 2013 Super Bowl with the voice of Paul Harvey over dramatic stills of farmers and farm life.  Since Paul Harvey passed away in 2009, this reading seems to be from much earlier in his carrer.  The ad was very simple, and I don't think it had any video in it, just a series of stills.  It had a very "Americana" feeling to it, like a Hal Riney ad.

The ad seems to have received a lot of positive attention, and most likely struck a chord with folks with Middle America values.

After the Super Bowl, I went to the Internet to research this ad.  To my surprise, a video for Farms.com appeared from June 2011, and was almost identical to the Dodge Ram ad.  In fact, the Farms.com video had an annotation asking your to check out the Dodge Ram video.

One's gut reaction is that Dodge "stole" the idea from Farms.com, and just added a ton of polish to it.  However, the annotation suggesting the viewer check out the Dodge Ram version leads one tho think there may have been some cooperation between the two organizations.  We will see if this connection is discussed in the advertising press in the near future, because I find it curious.

Oh, and there is a similar video from The Utah Department of Agriculture dated January 2011.

At the worst, I can imagine being the producer of the low budget Farms.com video, and seeing a big corporation rip-off my idea for a truck commercial.

No matter what the story is, it's a bit disappointing to find that the Dodge Ram spot lacked originality.  The same thoughts occurred to me last year when Volkswagon evoked Star Wars in a number of commercials.  Would the Volkswagon ad been as good if it were not piggybacking the huge cultural appeal of Star Wars?  Just askin'.  The "original" Farmer video is below.