Friday, September 28, 2007

Marketing I Hate....

I don't hate many things. I dislike liver. I have distaste for brussel sprouts. I avoid anchovies. But if push comes to shove, I'd take a few bites.

However I can't swallow AT&T's marketing. Not their ads, their marketing. I like the ads featuring laid-back representatives extolling the benefits of AT&T. They're well done.

What I hate is that their ad campaign has no grounding in reality.

I opened my AT&T bill this month and wanted to scream. It has more than doubled since February. And my package has free local and long distance calling.

It will probably take me hours to get everything sorted out and corrected. (This isn't my first problem with AT&T.)

That's because one person can't help me. I have to call separate billing departments for local, long distance, internet and to get the fraudulent charge off my bill. And none of the billing departments are open after five, when I usually do paperwork and accounting.

I signed up to "Come Back To AT&T" on Valentine's Day this year. And every month since, my "Flat Price" invoice has crept up.

I'm not saying AT&T's ads need to change to match the reality. No one is going to buy overpriced phone service with long on-hold time, bureaucratic red tape and billing issues.

I'm saying AT&T needs to make the reality match their ads. Maybe reorganize their business to be more customer-centered. Or have them call you so they can wait on hold.

Most grade schoolers start their day with a Pledge of Allegiance. Many Japanese companies start their day with the company song.

Maybe AT&T's business day should start with everyone watching an AT&T TV spot. Everyone's goal should be to make the company look like the ads.

I'm embarrassed that I believed the hype. I thought they'd changed. I believed AT&T would work harder than my former tiny regional phone company. I was wrong.

And I will tell everyone I know how I feel. So will your customers if they feel you have done them wrong.

Do your ads overpromise? Are you underdelivering? Are your ads being true to your product or service? Be careful not to set expectations too high.

Remember, most clients won't tell you they're unhappy with your product or service, but they will tell their friends.

Some will even post it on their blog for the world to see. Like me.

- Phil Sasso

Friday, September 21, 2007


Quick: Who is the sponsor and owner of the Wienermobile?

One day, after a long, sweaty bike ride, our family passed a local grocery store on our way home.

"Hey look!" said PJ. "It's a hot dog car!"

Beth and I knew instantly what it was.

"No, PJ that's not a hot dog car," Beth said. "That's the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile ("

(Did you guess Oscar Mayer? I'm bet you did. How could you not remember?)

I immediately turned the car around and headed back.

How could I not? How often does one see the icon of event marketing? It was word-of-mouth advertising before there was a formal name and association to promote it. And there it was -- the image of my youth. All new, but as retro as ever. I have to admit, it made me smile.

The newest publicity stunt? "Sing the Jingle" ( You can either enter the contest or just sing for fun. You choose of one of two Oscar Mayer jingles: "My Bologna Has a First Name" or "I Wish I Was An Oscar Mayer Wiener." Your performance is videotaped and posted on the Oscar Mayer contest website. (New technology, clever new "viral marketing" technique, but just as true to the original publicity tactics dating back to the first Weinermobile in 1936!).

Pj wasn't up for the challenge of jingle singing.

But Beth and I were. So, with me off-key but upbeat, we sang the "Name" song. It was fun. And we got a Weinermobile whistle!

They gave us the secret location of our video and we left smiling. Here's the link: Our secret code is...

Sorry. Beth and I both agreed we're too sweaty and sour sounding to share the video. So we're keeping the secret code, secret. Sorry.

How can you use new technology and old tactics to create buzz about your product? What tool can you use: forums? online video? blogs? email marketing? mascots? celebrities? contests? user generated content?

Look had how one encounter got me creating a buzz for Oscar Mayer! Your opportunities are only as limited as your imagination.