No comment — and that’s off the record!

‘No comment’: The death of business reporting: More and more companies are refusing to talk with journalists at all. I see this for myself every day. They don’t trust us and don’t think they need us – they use corporate websites and social media to talk directly to stakeholders. (The Washington Post)

Come for the wheat and corn – stay for the flatness

Nebraska’s new tourism slogan is “Honestly, it’s not for everyone:” “For the past four years, Nebraska has ranked last when it comes to states that travelers most want to visit, according to research from travel marketing research firm MMGY Global.” (QZ.com)

Bottled water & M&Ms are the most popular items sold at airports.

Cell phone chargers and battery packs are hot items too.

Hope Remoundos, chief marketing officer at Hudson (formerly Hudson News), an airport convenience store chain, said the company noticed “the panic on the traveler’s face when their smart device had no juice, and there were only two or three plugs in the airport for somebody to plug into.

“Immediately, we added to our selection a line of chargers and [battery packs] so that all you had to do was plug in the power and you were ready to go.”

Topping the list of Hudson’s most expensive items sold is a pair of $1,000 ear buds — W60 by Westone. Eight people have purchased them to date.

Mostly though, people want a bag of Lay’s potato chips (number one in the snack category) and a pocket-size pack of Kleenex tissues (number one in the Health category).

(Michelle Cohan/CNN)

 

The problem with Twitter’s new marketing campaign

Twitter’s new video ad actually explains what Twitter is for – Kurt Wagner, Recode

Twitter unveiled a new video ad Monday morning, and it does something that its previous TV commercial never did: It explains why you might want to use Twitter.

Here’s a look at the new ad, which Twitter is running on its own properties for now and will soon pay to distribute on other digital platforms:

“What’s happening in the world?” the narrator asks over video of Donald Trump campaigning and clips from “Game of Thrones.”

“What’s everyone talking about? How did it start? See what’s happening in the world right now.”

This is, in essence, why anyone uses Twitter. To answer these exact questions. And now Twitter is explaining that, or at least highlighting it, in a way that might catch people’s attention.

Twitter’s problem is that most of the time there’s nothing going on in the world that you need to know about RIGHT NOW. Osama Bin Laden isn’t being killed somewhere every second of the day.

Sports and celebrity gossip might be the exception. People don’t need to know that stuff right away, but they enjoy it. Is that enough to sustain Twitter?

Also, if someone has never used Twitter before, can they find what’s happening right now FAST, like right this second?

Hey, @Lyft, why so spammy all of a sudden?

I used Lyft one time a few years ago, and have kept the app on my iPhone in case I want to use it again.

A couple of days ago, I started getting ads from Lyft through iOS notifications.

This is annoying because I have the iPhone configured to only receive urgent notifications. I get notifications for phone calls, the Breaking News app, the Messages app, Facebook Messenger, and that’s about it. Not email, not Twitter, and certainly not ads from a company I used once a few years ago, but not since.

So now I’ve deleted the Lyft app from my iPhone, which is I’m sure what the Lyft marketing guys wanted me to do. Good job, Lyft marketing guys!

Hungry men

How Years of Macho Food Marketing Is Killing Men

David Sax/New York Magazine:

There’s an incredible disconnect between the way real men eat, and the way “real men” are supposed to eat. … If it doesn’t contain the chance of diabetes, apparently “real men” won’t eat it.

According to Katherine Parkin, an associate professor of history at Monmouth University, and author of the book the sexual segregation of food marketing took shape in the 1950s, under the pioneering psychologist Ernest Dichter, who applied the theories he’d learned under Sigmund Freud to shape the new field of motivational research.

“Dichter believed that by convincing Americans of a food’s sex and its resultant gendered identity, as well as its sensuality, advertisers could suggest their foods to meet consumers’ need to fulfill their gender roles,” Parkin wrote in a research paper. “Dichter believed that many people categorized the sex of foods. However, his own subscription to a gendered taxonomy of food is evident in his assessment of the findings. For example, Dichter posited, “Perhaps the most typically feminine food is cake … The wedding cake [is] … the symbol of the feminine organ. The act of cutting the first slice by the bride and bridegroom together clearly stands as a symbol of defloration.”

This kind of overly sexualized couch philosophy may sound like demented bullshit (“Happy Birthday! Eat a vagina!”), but the ad world ate it up. Though they overwhelmingly aimed food ads toward women, who were (and remain) the primary food purchasers for households, increasingly foods became targeted by sex. If it was meaty, macho, or phallic (Dichter basically felt the Oscar Meyer wiener song was a penile love poem), it was manly enough to be sold to men.

“The manly foods — for example, a 4,000-calorie manly frozen dinner — all play on a notion that these foods will make you a man and ensure your virility,” saysParkin.

It’s actually worse than that. Manly food ads present a cleverly crafted challenge to our manhood: Are you man enough to eat this shit?

And shit it is. Manly food, as opposed to equally patronizing “lady food” (diet sodas, low-calorie cereals, herbal teas), are pretty much universally unhealthy. Huge quantities of processed, salty meats, wrapped in refined carbohydrates, saturated in chemical cheese goos, and fortified with colored sugar water.

Cox concludes with the important point that you should eat what you want, not what you think is manly. Eating junk food is fine every now and then. “If, once in a while, you find yourself hankering for Manwich and a bottle of Bud — or a chard fritatta and a glass of rosé — well, bon appétit.”

Marketers analyze selfies to sell consumer products

Marketers are rewarding consumers to take selfies brushing their teeth or getting their nails done, then analyzing the results to find out how their products are used in the real world.

I wish we as a society could devote this kind of creativity and energy to solving problems like eliminating poverty and providing healthcare to everyone. I enjoy having the best phones and getting a nice cup of coffee everywhere I go – but isn’t the American Dream supposed to be about something more than that?

What Do Consumers Want? Look at Their Selfies – Courtney Rubin, The New York Times

The origin of the phrase, “Sell the sizzle – not the steak”

From the April 16, 1938 issue of The New Yorker:

If a Texaco salesman at a filling station has asked you, “Is your oil at the proper level today, sir?” or if you’ve ordered a malted milk at a soda fountain and the clerk has stood there, an egg in each hand, and asked, “One or two eggs today?,” then you’ve been under the subtle influence of Mr. Elmer Wheeler, head of the Tested Selling Institute, 521 Fifth Avenue. Mr. Wheeler has adopted the profession of seducing people in the mass with words. He advises merchants how to win sales and influence customers.

Mr. Wheeler composed that suave speech about the proper level of oil to replace the crude old question “Check your oil today?” There are nine words in it, to save you the trouble of counting back, and Texaco paid Mr. Wheeler $5,000 for it. This is $555.55 a word. He worked out the malted-milk-and-egg technique, for Abraham & Straus, so that they might sell more eggs at their fountain. He not only devised the phrase “One or two eggs today?” but also planned the gesture of the clerk holding an egg in each hand.

The scene of the soda clerk, the eggs, and the timid customer (who usually takes at least one egg in his malted milk when all he wanted was a malted milk) is now reënacted thousands of times daily all over the city. It is the perfect example of one of the principles of Tested Selling, which are masterfully explained in an essay written by Mr. Wheeler some years ago and recently expanded into a book with a red-and-yellow jacket. The book has a number of Wheelerpoints in it, and the egg episode dramatizes Wheelerpoint No. 4, which is “Don’t Ask If—Ask Which! “The essence of Wheelerpoint No. 4 is that the customer should always be given a choice between something and something, not a choice between something and nothing. This point is vital, but the great motif in Tested Selling is Wheelerpoint No. 1, “Don’t Sell the Steak—Sell the Sizzle!” On this majestic theme, Mr. Wheeler writes:

“The sizzle has sold more steaks than the cow ever has, although the cow is, of course, mighty important.”

Wheeler did the equivalent of today’s A/B testing in real life; he tried different phrases and sentences on people to see which sold more product, and iterated the changes until they were just right.

People put egg in their malted milk? Is that still a thing?

[The Sizzle / John McNulty / The New Yorker]