Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

InBev Flexes

July 2, 2008

Brew blog

Directors under fire?

Apparently InBev is prepared to go hostile.

Following reports that Anheuser-Busch is poised to reject InBev’s unsolicited, $46 billion bid, InBev has filed suit in the Delaware Chancery Court “seeking a judgment to confirm that shareholders acting by written consent may under Delaware law remove without cause all thirteen of the present Anheuser-Busch directors, including the five elected in 2006.”

From an InBev release:

InBev (Euronext: INB) said today that it remains committed to its proposed combination with Anheuser-Busch, Inc. (NYSE: BUD) and its offer of $65 per-share in cash for all of the outstanding common shares of the company, representing an immediate premium of 35% over the unaffected price of the shares.

InBev’s strong preference is to enter into a constructive dialogue with Anheuser-Busch to achieve a friendly combination that comprehensively addresses the interests of all constituents. At the same time, the Company is also seeking a declaratory ruling in Delaware regarding alternative routes to progress the combination to ensure that Anheuser-Busch shareholders preserve their voice in the process.

InBev stated further that it filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court seeking a judgment to confirm that shareholders acting by written consent may under Delaware law remove without cause all thirteen of the present Anheuser-Busch directors, including the five elected in 2006. Under the Charter of Anheuser-Busch and as a matter of Delaware law, it is clear that the eight directors elected after 2006 are subject to removal without cause through the written consent procedure; the filing seeks to confirm that, as InBev strongly believes, the directors elected in 2006 are also now subject to removal through that same mechanism.

Waiting for A-B

July 2, 2008

Brew blog

Board has not yet taken a public position on InBev bid.

“How long can A-B wait?” asks a headline in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It’s referring, of course, to the fact that it’s been 13 days since InBev made an unsolicited, $65-per-share bid for Anheuser-Busch. And the A-B board has yet to make a public response.

The answer to the question: It’s hard to say. While the company is not legally bound to respond in a certain time frame, shareholders might get antsy if things drag on for too long.

From the story:

Experts say the 13-member board is not legally required to respond within a certain time frame, because InBev approached Anheuser-Busch with a nonbinding letter of interest.

“Nothing’s been formally presented to them that puts their backs up against the wall,” said David Stone, a mergers and acquisitions expert with the Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg law firm.

But in practical terms, Anheuser-Busch’s board is still limited by what one commentator called “the elephant in the room” — the possibility that InBev could turn hostile, going over the board’s head and soliciting shareholders directly. If InBev made a public offer to buy shares directly from shareholders, the directors would have 10 business days to recommend, disapprove or take no position on the deal, Stone said.

The longer Anheuser-Busch waits, the more likely a hostile route becomes, said B. Craig Hutson, senior bond analyst at Gimme Credit.

MGD 64 Going National

July 2, 2008

Brew blog

Enters remaining markets this fall.

Miller Brewing Company told distributors today that it plans to roll out MGD 64 — a 64-calorie light beer — nationally this fall.

“With the brand building impressive momentum in the Midwest and West, the time is right to give beer drinkers across the country a chance to enjoy the unmatched refreshment and drinkability offered by MGD 64,” Miller CEO Tom Long said in a memo to distributors. “Thus, MGD 64 will replace MGD Light by mid-September in all remaining markets where the changeover has not already occurred, as well as in markets that do not currently have MGD Light.”

Miller is pulling the trigger on a national rollout due to its strong sales performance and its ability to spark the Miller Genuine Draft franchise.

The memo noted that in the Midwest, volume performance for the light brand “has improved by 20 trend points, turning the double-digit decline of a year ago into positive territory.”

“With MGD 64, we have an exciting opportunity to gain an even greater share of the continued growth in mainstream lights while re-energizing the MGD franchise,” the memo said.

Miller will add national TV advertising to a marketing basket that already includes print, out-of-home and radio.

Web 2.0 – Integrating Brand and Direct Marketing

June 17, 2008

An irresistible vacuum for
time and VC money

Web 2.0 paves the way for integrating direct and brand marketing, enabling real-time dialog with customers and the joint creation of content that improves brand awareness and perception.

More importantly, all that work can generate sales and leads, according to a new report, MarketingCharts writes.

“New Media Emergence in DM & Brand,” a report from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), approaches “Web 2.0” – blogs, virtual words, social networks, user-generated content, RSS feeds, and wikis – as the seat converging all marketing.

Eugenia Steingold, Ph.D., DMA’s senior research manager, authored the report, which examines how new media is used for brand building and direct marketing. She also investigates possibilities for integrating DM and brand.

Elements most used by Web 2.0 direct marketers are (in order) blogs, online video, user-generated content and social networks:

dma-web20-use-for-dm.jpg

Other key findings from the study of B2B and B2C DM marketers who use Web 2.0:

* Despite being relatively new, Web 2.0 is apparently recognized as a brand-building channel:
o 84 percent of respondents use it to raise brand awareness.
o 82 percent use Web 2.0 tools to increase brand preference.
* New media is used for direct marketing as much as it is for brand building:
o 83 percent use Web 2.0 to generate sales.
o 80 percent use it to generate leads.
* Most marketers realize the opportunities that new media create for integrating DM and brand:
o 85 percent of respondents use Web 2.0 to engage their customers and rate it as a highly effective mechanism for customer engagement (average rating is 5.3)
o 84 percent of our respondents use Web 2.0 to create a community of loyal customers, and they find it very effective for doing so (the average rating is 5.0).

Other findings:
o 82 percent of respondents allocated a quarter or less of their marketing budget toward Web 2.0.
o 70 percent of those who report that they are experts in interactive marketing also allocate about a quarter of their budget to Web 2.0.

As a complement to the report, DMA is hosting a virtual seminar, “Using New Media – The Link Between DM & Brand,” on Wednesday, May 7.

About the study: in January 2008, DMA deployed an online survey to it target audience, including B2B and B2C direct marketers who use Web 2.0 as part of their marketing strategies, and specifically strive to integrate DM and Brand. The survey was closed for tabulation in late February 2008 and obtained data from 160 respondents who completed the survey.

CAN-SPAM rules by FTC

May 31, 2008

On Monday, May 12  the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued  supplementary CAN-SPAM rules, which will take effect June 26 of this  year. If you send email to recipients in the United States we  encourage you to seek the advice of your legal counsel regarding the  impact of these new rules on your email programs. A summary of the  most impactful of the new rules is provided below for discussion

 purposes:

 

 

 Mandated Simplification of Opt-out Processes: The new rules clarify  the opt-out required under CAN-SPAM:

       The opt-out may not be conditioned on the payment of any fee.

       The recipient must not be required to input anything more than

       email address and associated opt-out preferences for that email

       address (i.e., no password, account number, name, etc. can be

       required).

       The opt-out mechanism must rely on either a reply email or a

       visit to a single Internet Web page and nothing more (i.e.,

       multiple Web page opt-out processes are no longer allowed).

 

 

 We encourage you to examine your opt-out process to determine if it is  in compliance with this new rule. If your opt-out processes are  managed by our Consulting & Integration Services department we will  contact you proactively in the coming weeks to discuss any changes  necessitated by these new rules.

 

 P.O. Box Usage Confirmed: Businesses may publish a sender’s P.O. box  or private mailbox in a commercial email message to comply with the  valid physical postal address requirement.

 

 Designated Sender Rule Established: This new rule provides a framework  whereby multiple advertisers that appear in the same commercial email  message, each of which normally would satisfy the Act’s definition of  “sender,” may designate a single sender among them as the sole sender  of the message. If you routinely engage in list rentals or joint  promotions, you will want to examine this provision closely.

 

 Rules Regarding Incented Forwarding: The new rules confirm that if a  company offers something of value (e.g., sweepstakes entry or

 discount) to incent a user to forward a commercial message to a  friend, the company providing the incentive is held responsible for  complying with CAN-SPAM as a Sender of the resulting message. Note  that the Marketer “Forward to a Friend” feature has had opt-out  scrubbing capabilities built in for just this purpose since 2004.

 

 Also note that the FTC was widely expected to collapse the amount of  time senders have to comply with opt-out from 10 business days to  three business days, but no change was issued. The 10 business day  opt-out rule remains in effect.

The X Factor: The risky business of ad banners

May 12, 2008

The
way most agencies conceptualize banner ads is seriously flawed. The
internet is a fundamentally different consumption medium than TV, so
wake up!

Amazingly, it appears as if the entire industry has forgotten how
consumers interact with advertising. The isolation bubble of mediocrity
surrounding agencies and clients has become so pervasive that a thought
loop rarely circles most people’s squishy skulls. How did this happen
and why? At which point did the process become so removed from the
consumers’ interaction with our product that we lost touch with them?
The result? The proliferation of banner advertising so removed from the
consumer that it’s amazing half these people still have their jobs.

Why does the internet ad banner suck? Well, let me tell you why — then I’ll tell you how to mitigate what’s wrong with it.

How can I bust on the most highly successful form of display
advertising and the form that supports almost everyone in this industry
outside the search space? It’s simple. The ad banner is the bane of my
existence, the thorn in my side, the blinky-blinky dancing mortgage guy
of my nightmares.

It’s not the format that’s flawed. Well, scratch that, the format is
flawed, but it’s not like there is really anything better to do to
accommodate advertising on web pages currently. But I’ll explain that
later.

It wasn’t the IAB that screwed up. It wasn’t some technology. It was
all of us. (Well, maybe not me.) But it’s all the traditionally minded,
storyboarding, “fit a commercial in a banner” thinking creative morons
and their clients. I’m not talking about rich media or those formats
that allow more immersive experiences. But even there, the creative
luddites usually use those formats to just extend their incompetence.

Here is how the process usually goes. If the agency is bad, and the
client is stupid, the agency prepares a brief based on client input,
ideates on that brief, and then pitches creative ideas based on that
brief. It is then reviewed by the client, feedback is given, and maybe,
or maybe not, a banner gets created, leading to a whole slew of
revisions, changes and approvals. To create what? A friggin’ ad banner.

My issue with that is there are so many problems with the
traditional process that has been adapted for online that I almost
don’t know where to start eviscerating the idiots who still create
banners that way.

First, the way most agencies conceptualize creative for banners is
flawed. Most are trying to tell a story in 15 seconds. Why is that
flawed? The internet is a fundamentally different consumption medium
than TV. TV is interruptive and linear in consumption: content,
content, content, commercial content. Banners, by design, are immersed
in the chaos of content. If the consumer even notices the banner, it is
a second here or there — only snippets of the communication message.

So how do clients review that banner when they approve it? As if
it’s the only thing that exists in the world on an empty screen. It’s a
fallacy of the entire ideation, production and approval process.

So, what do you do? Stop creating stories. No one reads banners. The
point and purpose of any banner must be delivered in three seconds at
any point in the banner. Tall order? Sure it is.

What else? Stop reviewing banners in isolation as if that’s what the
consumer sees. You need to set up a mock page of a real website and
have the client review creative work there, full of content,
distractions and all. In fact, create three different types of mock
sites. It is not the agency’s job to impress the client with its ad,
it’s the agency’s job to deliver real-world interaction with it. Those
agencies that do gain the trust of their clients for being able to
think beyond their own myopic interests.

Second, have your logo on every frame of the banner, or risk the
consumers never noticing who you are. Remember, they are not on that
page for your ad but for the content, and in their brief glance at the
ad space, they better know who you are.

Third, animate your logo. Companies often do it in TV. Stop adhering
to logo guidelines set down by the logo cops. Those rules are holdovers
from the print production world, but for some reason clients and
agencies just keep following them as if they were rules, not
guidelines. Don’t go wild and wreck the logo’s integrity, but keep to
its spirit.

And finally, fix your process of producing online banners! Stop
wasting money. No single banner is going to fundamentally change the
client’s business the way a single commercial can gain emotional
resonance. The process makes sense for TV due to the high production
costs associated with the end product, but for a banner? You’re wasting
valuable time and resources, repeatedly.

How do you fix it? Well, one way is to have the agency just do
weekly concepts. Give them the uber brief of who you are as a brand and
the themes they should be concentrating on. And then each week, choose
the ones that will go into final production.

Also, cut down your approval process internally. If you have to go
up and down three levels at the client side for each banner, you’ll
never get anything done. Oh yeah, that’s what your stuck with now,
isn’t it? Look, unless you can throw enough stuff up at the wall,
you’ll never start to find that breakthrough creative. It should be
your consumers who determine what resonates. As long as the creative is
on message, let them do so.

A few things will happen with that process: You will get much more
work out of your agency, in fewer hours and cost, and you will be able
to improve your performance.

Why these suggestions? Well, they all point to the fundamental flaw
in the format itself. It’s not interuptive but peripheral, and it
requires different techniques.

You all have to start looking at how the consumer interacts with the
pages your advertising is on. Stop assuming you’re smarter than your
consumer, and for Pete’s sake, stop treating this like offline.

None of these suggestions are magic pixie dust, but I think maybe
you have all snorted the magic pixie dust of incompetence for too long
and I’m sick of it. It’s time to start understanding this medium.


iMedia Connection: The X Factor: The risky business of ad banners

Maximize PPC campaign returns

May 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/19006.asp

Has your PPC campaign maxed out in terms of ROI? Not to fear — you can continue to boost returns by following these suggestions.

As I trawled through my daily fix of industry emails yesterday, I was amused to see two articles in the same newsletter that, on face value, told significantly conflicting stories.

The first covered a MarketingSherpa survey under a doom and gloom headline announcing that 60 percent of large companies are cutting marketing budgets this year; the second covered the IAB’s latest UK ad spend survey that proudly reported that continuing growth in online ad spend will result in the internet overtaking TV as the biggest ad channel in Britain by the end of 2009.

Of course in reality both pieces were ostensibly saying the same thing, and it is nothing new: Online should weather the economic downturn better than traditional advertising channels. The reality will remain to be seen, but what is certain is that for some search engine marketers this perception presents something of a conundrum.

To the uninitiated, PPC presents the Holy Grail of marketing — a totally accountable, scalable and measurable ad channel. Accountable and measurable it certainly is, but 100 percent scalable it certainly is not.

Every PPC campaign will, at some point, reach a saturation point where the optimal keyword mix has been reached and where adding new terms actually starts to negatively impact CPA targets. Exactly where this saturation point is differs from campaign to campaign, and that’s where the science of PPC planning and buying comes in.

For search engine marketers, the question is what you do when you’ve reached that saturation point but are getting pressure to deliver more results from your boss or clients.

The answer is, first and foremost, to work on ad and landing page optimization. Any successful PPC campaign depends on constantly testing and retesting different ad copy and landing pages. This is arguably even more important in times of shaky economic conditions. Remember, as the economy changes, so too will the ways in which people think about making purchases, particularly for luxury or high ticket price items. Plan and optimize accordingly.

Secondly, consider integration. A number of surveys have revealed that integrating display with search can result in at times significant uplifts in clickthrough rates and conversions. Ensure you take a close look at campaign metrics immediately after any offline or online branding campaign has been pulled. Did the change have any impact on your conversions? Cross-media analytics, whilst more complicated to run, can help increase campaign effectiveness in the long run.

It is also important to remember that integration is equally applicable when it comes to traditional media. Running a TV campaign, for example, without a supporting PPC campaign may cause you to miss significant opportunities and not make the most of your media spend. This is particularly important today as Wi-Fi penetration continues to increase — your potential customers are more likely than ever to be searching for your brand or ad slogan online directly after seeing a TV spot.

Another area to consider is exploring other PPC networks to see if you can find more quality traffic to complement your existing campaigns. Adding new networks to your media schedule can offer incremental reach to your PPC campaigns, but be mindful of the trade-off between the time you invest in campaign management and the results you actually achieve.

As a rule of thumb, if you are working with smaller networks, it is worth choosing only those that have the in-house capability to handle much of the legwork for you in terms of campaign set-up and management.

Reaching saturation point in your PPC campaigns can happen regardless of what sector you operate in and regardless of the state of the economy. How you deal with the issue is what will give you the edge over your competition.

Alex Vlasto is marketing and communications director for MIVA.

Smaller Imports Driving Growth

May 2, 2008

Brew Blog

Heineken, Corona families are flat.

After a long stretch of flat or declining performance in supermarkets, imports are showing signs of growth again.

No thanks, however, to the two megabrands — Corona Extra and Heineken — that have driven the groups’ growth for years.

Import sales in supermarkets increased by 0.2 points during the four weeks ended April 19, according to beer sales statistics from Nielsen. That translates to a 30,000 case increase over the year-earlier period.

During the four-week period, the Heineken franchise (Heineken and Heineken Premium Light) was up 1,000 cases, according to Nielsen’s beer market analysis. The Corona family was down 12,000 cases.

So where’d the growth come from? It came from these brands, all of which added 0.1 points of share:

1. Modelo Especial
2. Tecate
3. Stella Artois

Note that Modelo Especial (the No. 3 import) is handled by Crown Imports, which handles Corona and other Grupo Modelo brands, and Tecate (the No. 4 import) is handled by Heineken USA. Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, markets Stella Artois (the No. 10 import).

Corona and Heineken represent nearly half of imported beer sales in the country. But as these latest supermarket numbers show, smaller brands are coming on.

The February 2008 issue of Brew Magazine took an in-depth look at how smaller imports are becoming a bigger force. Here’s a story looking at these rising imports.

The whole issue can be seen here.

If you would like a subscription to Brew Magazine, please drop a line with your name and mailing address (it’s a print publication) here.

Facebook to Launch IM Service

April 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

The war continueth

Facebook is poised to launch its own instant messaging service as early as next week. The service will be built into Facebook profile pages.

Facebook’s plans may be bad news for third parties like Social.IM and FriendVox, which built IM apps on Facebook.

The announcement comes a week after Bebo, the third biggest social network, was purchased by AOL. AOL says the merger’s success hinges upon the successful integration of AIM into Bebo.

MySpace also offers a rather sporadic IM service, which debuted in 2004.

Early this month, Facebook announced a music partnership with iTunes, right on the heels of MySpace, which itself is developing a music service with the four major record companies.

WORK OF THE MONTH

March 20, 2008

· WORK OF THE MONTH:

1. Kit Kat Commercial:

Three minute video that encapsulates the life of a lowly cubicle worker, the mocking he receives from his coworkers and the relief he receives when he takes a break to grab a Kit Kat

2. My Dove Chocolate Website:

Now you can create your own mushy message and “speak from the heart” by personalizing a gift set of chocolates.

3. Schick Video Contest

4. TruckMatch.com:

Truck buyers and sellers can find happy harmony with low transaction rates. To generate some love, Kelly/Russell Advertising put together a few B2B spots that draw a parallel between finding mates online — a tricky business — and finding the perfect pickup.

5. Juice Salon Ad:

Neat take on escalator advertising, a model that’s been hurtin’ for creativity since its inception.

6. J&J Animated Shorts

An online video campaign for baby lotion with the goal of reaching young, web-savvy moms.

7. Avis Car Ads: Look Back, Three Days, Conference

It’s okay to cheat on your car, if only for a weekend. Avis is promoting car infidelity in a TV, print, online and outdoor campaign that uses a new tagline, “The Other Car.”

8. Del Monte’s New Online Game

Launched an online game for its Meaty Bone brand called “Mark Your Territory.”

9. Kenneth Cole Digital Campaigns
Kenneth Cole Productions puts itself out there with a new issues-based blog and video campaign.

10. Red Bull UG Surf Clips
360-degree camera technology lets Web users control a video’s perspective.

11. Toyota Scion Widget Campaign

New campaign for Scion line in which rich media banner ads doubled as uploadable widgets.

12. Discovery Channel: Live Earth

13. Swedish Armed Forces: Recruitment Test

14. Quamat: The Online How-to Guide

15. Jib Jab Valentine Video Grams