Archive for October, 2010

Another one Bites the Dust

Stand Up To Cancer, an initiative to accelerate cancer research, sponsored the opening game of the MLB World Series tonight. They bought major ad time during the game that encouraged viewers to join in the movement and take a stand by launching a star in honor of someone you love who has been affected by cancer. “For as little as a dollar you can make a difference.”  

The URL,, is short and sweet. It is perfect for a captured audience. They are at the game… with their phones. They are sitting at their local bar… with their phones. They are sitting on their couch… with their phones. Will someone PLEASE tell me why this website was not optimized for mobile devices? No one from MLB or Stand Up To Cancer realized that this website would crash every phone that tried to access it while watching the game. Seriously?

A word of advice to all the marketers out there: Talk to your IT department before shelling out millions of dollars on a media buy that will FAIL.


Leave a comment

Rally To Restore (Mobile Marketing) Sanity

If I see ONE more political ad… argh!

I am totally burned out on the political ads that seem to have taken over media for the last month. Regardless of where I stand on the issues, I feel like all of the politicians are out of touch with the real issues that challenge us in day-to-day life. That is exactly why I became a fan of Rally To Restore Sanity, sponsored by The Daily Show.  John Stewart sums up the purpose of the rally with the following quote:

“We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles…

Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.”

Rally to Restore Sanity has done a brilliant job creating an integrated campaign that includes on-air mentions, a website, a mobile website, Facebook fan page, twitter feed, twitter hashtag, SMS notifications and even an ecommerce integration for selling rally merchandise.  Every component of the campaign ties to the other components seamlessly.

I started by becoming a fan on Facebook so that I could get updates in my newsfeed. The next day I was browsing through Facebook on my phone and saw the following update: “Text RALLY to 44686 to receive updates about the Rally”.

Facebook Fan

I text RALLY to the shortcode and received a thank you/confirmation text that set my expectation as well as included a URL driving me to the mobile site.

SMS Campaign

I was automatically redircted to a mobile optimized WAP page ( – assuming the cclol stands for Comedy Central LOL – nice) for the rally. The website was easy to navigate with options to read more about the rally, news, a submission site for SANE OR NOT (which I will discuss more in a moment), videos, Twitter and Facebook page info and directions for opting into the SMS campaign.

Mobile Page

To my delight, every portion of the site worked. By the way, the use of the word delight here is not an overstatement. More often than not these mobile campaigns are a total technology and marketing failure. The videos played in Quicktime , so there was no issue with the fact that iPhones don’t always play Youtube videos.


My favorite part of the site was a section called SANE OR NOT. People love to kill time on play on their phone while when they have a few minutes to kill. This section featured interactive user-generated content, where people can vote on which sign is more “sane” than the other. All of the signs are user submitted, which may incent a user to go home and spend some time in front of their laptop creating their own submission, thus increasing their engagement time with the campaign.

Top Sane Signs

All in all, this was a great campaign. It was obvious that the digital marketers thought this through. They didn’t use technology for technology’s sake (no unnecessary QR coding), they planned for mobile integration from the start, they engaged users by including an interactive portion and they made the most of mobile by leveraging SMS, mobile site, twitter and Facebook.

The Rally campaign may not have restored my faith in politics, but it definitely restored my faith in mobile marketing.



Alaska Airlines – eBoarding

I have been a fan of Alaska Airlines since I moved to the west coast seven years ago. I spend a lot of time in the air and I’ve always been impressed by their friendly staff and helpful customer service. I also found them to be ahead of their industry when it came to their digital offerings. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Alaska Airlines has jumped right into mobile media to ensure their customers have a great travel experience.

Prior to leaving for a work trip this week, I downloaded the newly relaunched Alaska Airlines App. The app offers the following easy to navigate menu that included the following features:

–       Flight Status

–       Check-In

–       Flight Alerts

–       My trips

–       View Flight Reservations

The best innovation opportunity for Alaska Airlines’ app was to successfully deploy the eBoarding Pass. Theoretically, a user can open the app, check in for their flight, receive their eBoarding Pass, save it to their phone and proceed straight through security. This eliminates hassling with a printer at home or lines at the check-in kiosks.

Unfortunately for Alaska Airlines, TSA isn’t up to speed on the innovation yet. I walked up to the security line with my eBoarding Pass, ready to fly through with my companions. When I showed my eBoarding Pass to TSA, they looked at me like I was crazy. They asked what it was and I explained, but all I got in return were blank stares. It was like they had never seen one before. I was told that I needed to go to the kiosk and get my paper-boarding pass and come back through the line. Good thing I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare!

I also chose to opt-in for text alerts in the event of any changes to my flight and they failed to text me to let me know that there was a gate change. I am not sure if that is part of the texting “parameters” or if it only consists of text alerts for flight delays or cancellations.


One of the benefits of a successful phone app is that consumers can access pertinent information without Internet connectivity. For example, compelling content like maps or airport FAQs should be accessible at anytime. This seems especially important for an airline application because it is likely that many users would want to use it while flying, when they aren’t connected. In this particular example, the Alaska Airlines application only loads the home page without wireless. No other page will open, which doesn’t seem like a logical strategy. For example, I think it would be helpful to have major airport maps available so that while in flight a consumer could view the gate and terminal they are going to arrive at relative to their connecting flight or baggage claim.

Also, there needs to be a compelling a valuable call to action to incent consumers to download the app. Alaska usually awards mileage plan members with point rewards the first time they fulfill a desired action. For example 1,000 points for getting in-flight wireless or 500 points the first time they use a self-serve kiosk. They would probably see a lift in app downloads if they would incent consumers to download the app by offering reward points.

Alaska Airlines is off to a good start with their mobile efforts. They have a mobile site, a mobile app and an SMS campaign all of which are integrated into their primary website as well as Alaska Airlines Magazine.  They really just need to create a distinct user experience that will differentiate the purpose for the mobile site versus the mobile app. I am confident that they will continue to fine-tune their efforts as they become more familiar with the mobile space.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The WTC jumps on the QR bandwagon

I was in Manhattan this week for a multi channel marketing conference. While I am a Northwest girl at heart, I admit that when I get to The Big Apple I feel a surge of adrenalin rush through me that I don’t get from other cities. I am a sucker for the symphony of city sounds: car horns, street vendors and hundreds of conversations going on around you at all times.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a couple hours to spare and I thought that it would be nice to visit the WTC. I haven’t been back for quite some time and was curious about the changes that have occurred recently.  It is amazing how much energy there is at Ground Zero. There are tourists buzzing around. Plus local commuters rush by to catch the train to New Jersey.  In the midst of all the action, there are three monumental construction sites as well as two new roads being built. It is overwhelming to say the least. How does one know where to start? This is the perfect opportunity for a well-executed mobile media campaign. And I am pleased to say, The Port Authority came pretty close to nailing it.

Upon entering the area, whether by foot or coming up from the train station, the visitors will notice the fence surrounding the entire perimeter of the site is covered with a blue tarp. The tarp has a simple message: Learn more about the World Trade Center Redevelopment at The message is followed by a QR code. After the problems that our MCDM class had last week with QR codes last week, I didn’t have high expectations for this experience. Surprise! The QR code worked flawlessly! It directed me to a mobile optimized site (with permission) with simple and clear action items.

  1. Subscribe to WTC updates
  2. News and Updates
  3. WebCam
  4. WTC Video
  5. View the Full Site

Every aspect of this mobile site worked flawlessly. The subscription page was brief. It explained the subject and frequency of emails that the subscriber should expect. It even gave directions for how to sign up for text alerts if that was the user’s preference.

News and Updates was a list of official press releases that cover construction progress with active hyperlinks to the full articles. The Webcam showed real time picture of the construction sites, although it looked more like a still picture than a live feed.

The WTC Video loaded without a problem. It was about six minutes in length and detailed the plans for the three projects: One World Trade Center, the country’s largest office complex, The Hub, a best in class train station connecting the WTC with Manhattan and NJ and finally the 911 Memorial Ponds.

The final option was to view the Full Site. This was really the only option that didn’t work well, and it is only because the site uses flash, which isn’t supported by iOs. Not a huge deal in my opinion because the mobile site had the pertinent information that a user would want when they were at the site.

My only suggestion would be that having a map would have been pretty cool, so that the user could see where they were standing relative to the whole construction zone. It is an enormous site, so I personally had a hard time getting oriented.

Overall, I think the Port Authority did a fantastic job with this use of mobile media. It was fully functional, easy to access, easy to use and provided the relevant information for the situation and environment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 Comment

REI’s QR Fail

One of the primary challenges faced by the majority of brand marketers today is how to effectively integrate rapidly evolving technology advancements into their marketing plans. The convergence of marketing and technology forces two previously independent disciplines to work together in executing campaigns, which will tie together old and new media. What happens when a marketing team is charged with facilitating deadlines with their mobile Agency of Record, their internal IT department and their direct mail printer?  Unfortunately, it can be a recipe for a huge marketing failure.

Let’s consider a print piece with a QR code. QR codes are a relatively new concept to the public and are showing up in magazines, direct mail pieces and on signs. It is a matrix barcode that is readable by scanners and mobile phones with cameras. Some phones come with native QR code reading technology, while other phones (Apple) need to have an app installed in order to use the technology.  The user experience is fairly simple: center the phone over the QR code and it will automatically redirect the consumer to the desired URL.

For example, REI’s Fall Sales catalogue arrived in my mail yesterday. On the back of the mailer there is a large, bright orange coupon advertising 20% one full-priced item. To the right of that coupon, in much smaller and non-descript print, there is a QR code. This is a not a strong call to action for the mobile campaign when placed right next to the bright coupon. Plus, I do not think the average consumer automatically recognizes that the QR code is intended for them. Due to the placement it could easily be confused as a tool for the  Postal Carrier.

In this example, the QR code utilizes location detection technology to automatically direct the consumer to a URL that gives them the location of the nearest REI store. One thing that REI did right was clearly explaining how to download a QR reader to “watch the magic happen”.  Nice. Where did they go wrong? Well, when I scanned the code it took me to a page with an error message. The page informed me, “We are making updates to the mobile site. Please view our store locator on the HTML site.”  The mobile site was down for maintenance on the very day that they launched the mobile campaign.

Huge Fail.

Imagine the typical consumer experience.

  1. Placement of the QR code was a huge miss because it is competing with the bright coupon.
  2. Weak call to action because it isn’t tied to an offer, just location tracking.
  3. Majority of consumers don’t have a QR scanner and if they do they aren’t aware of it.
  4. A small percentage will actually take the time to go into the app store and download a QR scanner.
  5. Consumer scans code and the site is down.

Besides stating the obvious way that they could improve this mobile campaign (working mobile site), there are other ways to set this up for success in the future.

  1. Give the consumer a better pay off. Tie the QR code to a compelling offer with a time restrictions. For example, bring this into the store in the next 24hrs for 25% off any full priced item.
  2. Give the QR code prominent placement. Don’t place it next to all of the Post Carrier messaging. Put it on the inside cover with an eye-catching explanation.

Marketing departments need to learn that they can’t implement the newest technology into their media plan unless they have developed a clear strategy with their IT department.

1 Comment