By Kevin Schluth, Senior Account Executive

I recently read about an advertising agency that entered a consumer-generated contest for Go just to see what would happen and what could be learned. Since there were no specific rules that excluded agencies from entering the contest, the agency was able to shoot for the top prizes…just like everybody else.

“Being on the user side of the contest turned out to be an enlightening experience -- particularly when we were notified that we had advanced to the finals, at which point we were no longer an agency doing field research, but competitors vying for the gold.”

by Jamie Allebach

Asking the right questions to get the right answers, will eventually lead you to right results. The problem is you have to know the RIGHT questions to ask.

Social media and networking can seem to be a very complicated space to marketers, if you’re not fully engaged. Stopping to ask the right questions can help you determine what social mediums will be the best match for your brands—and deliver the highest possible ROI.

Growing up in the South we are really only particular about one kind of food and that is our “Tex-Mex.”  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, let me provide you with a brief lesson.  Tex-Mex, or as I like to call it “the greatest food to ever exist” is a blend of Mexican cuisine made with ingredients found in the States.  It has the flavors of Mexican food without being too authentic.  It is delicious!

When I moved to the North East I learned very quickly that Philadelphians are crazy about two things, their cheesesteaks and pizza.  There is literally a homegrown pizza shop on every corner and people claim that each one tastes different.  I grew up on chains like Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and my all time favorite Mr. Gatti’s.  According to folks from the North East, I’ve been eating “fast food pizza” my whole life.

by Nancy Landis

“Social networking has become a must for women this year, according to a new edition of the Social networking profile penetration climbed from 58% of Internet users in 2008 to 86% in 2009.” - eMarketer.

“Mom… where are you?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this over the years. No matter where I was in the house, I was about to be found. My children would get in front of me, presenting their concern until they were sure I had heard them. Companies today could learn a lot from my kids.

By Kevin Schluth

Did you know that most people tell 3 people about a product they like, but tell 11 people about a product they hate? Why is it that bad news is almost four times more likely to be spread than good news?

Like me, you probably thought it would be the opposite, that people would naturally want to spread ‘good’ news rather than ‘bad.’ Turns out if people hate a product, they appear to take it personally, like they were duped or suckered-in by ‘false advertising’, and they don’t want their friends and family to suffer the same fate. They also want to stick it to the brand that is responsible for ‘tricking’ them into dropping some coin on their product. Fool me once…

by Jamie Allebach

What makes for the “perfect storm” in the food business? How about when the industry is squeezed so tight it becomes more and more difficult to make a profit, and consumers are no longer loyal to your brand?

Transformation is happening in the food industry. Intense margin pressure, erosion of brand equity, declining demand, and manufacturing and transportation costs are rapidly changing the landscape for food companies.

Consumers are transforming and changing, as well—what they buy, where they shop and how they eat. Economic conditions, stagnant or declining income, the cost of living, and food costs have radically changed consumer meal rituals. These factors result in eating out less, purchasing more private label and store brands, doing more with less, and sacrificing some of the convenient and indulgent products that they love.

Is broadcast television back on the rise? Maybe not indefinitely, but at least until the end of February when we all bid farewell to this year’s Winter Olympic Games.

According to an article published by MediaWeek on February 16, 2010, telecasts for this year’s Olympics on NBC have averaged 28.6 million viewers in prime time. To give you a rough idea of what this means, American Idol, one of the highest rated shows on broadcast television will pull approximately 28.8 million viewers during a season finale. Nielson has indicated that this year’s opening was the best since the Lillehammer Games in 1994. We all remember that year now don’t we? I’ll give you a hint…Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

Advertisers for this year’s Olympic Games are not only seeing an increase in viewership, but are also seeing a spike in consumer on-line search queries. According to MediaWeek, Google has indicated that brands featured during the opening ceremonies have had significant search spikes. In today’s advertising world, this is the ideal situation for any brand. Advertisers want their traditional broadcast buy to spark interest, and in return, drive consumers to the website for education. For this reason, quality and creativity are equally as important for both your commercial and your website. You must keep the consumer engaged on all aspects.

By Jamie Allebach

As if things aren’t tough enough in our current economy, the government is tightening the noose around the necks of food and beverage companies and restaurants with yet more scrutiny and REGULATION.

What does this mean to you? Here are a few highlights: If you are making any type of “claims” in your advertising, packaging, or menus be prepared to have the government rear it’s ugly head on your doorstep.

It’s no longer going to be acceptable to have an accurate Nutrition Facts Panel on the backside of food products. Now, you will be penalized if you state or even imply “better for you” claims on your product packaging or advertising. For instance, if you claim NO TRANSFAT, but don’t point out the fact (more than simply stating it on the Nutrition Facts Panel) that there is SATURATED FAT in your product, you will be in violation of new regulations.

Crate & Barrel 11/30/09
Subject Line: Today only. Save 15% and Free Online Shipping.

I have to admit that when I see a subject line as exciting as this one, my heart skips a beat. I’ll immediately pull up my perfectly formatted Excel Christmas list to figure out just who in my family needs a new Wusthof 10-piece knife set this year. Once the purchase has been made and all promo codes have successfully been entered, I say a quick “thank you Crate and Barrel for this extraordinary gift of savings you have delivered to my inbox.”

Retailers are becoming smarter each year as this on-line world is evolving. This 2009 Holiday Season I have received more retail e-mails than ever before. Just to name a few, Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, The Gap, The Children’s Place, Gymboree, Target, Crate and Barrel, Bath and Body Works, Eddie Bauer, Nordstrom, and Proflowers. A simple call to action like “save now,” has the ability to capture the attention of every consumer with Internet access.

By Kevin Schluth

When it comes to launching a new food product, today more than ever, getting people to try your new product is the first, and most important step, in a new product launch.

Even the most popular products in the world were complete mysteries at one point. While there are many different ways to launch a new product, all new product success starts with trial. There is no ‘word of mouth’ marketing if you can’t get people to try your product in the first place.

In a world of tweeting, blogging, smartphones and all other forms of instant messaging technology, there is something to be said about a good old-fashioned Free Standing Insert…or FSI. A tangible and visually appealing piece of paper that tells consumers: ‘give us a try and we’ll take a couple bucks off.’