Friday, November 30, 2007

Yikes. No question as to what the buzz is about today. A little after 1PM, I started getting IMs popping up on my screen: "You getting this?" "Can you believe it?" Followed of course by blue-underlined links to and other news outlets. What I found when I clicked was both startling and baffling. There was a hostage situation at Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester. He was apparently armed and said he had a bomb strapped to him.

As a former Rochester resident and Spaulding High grad, I was immediately concerned if anybody I knew was in danger. Turns out the campaign office was at 28 North Main Street... About 100 street numbers down from the home I lived in only 7 years ago! Like I said: "Yikes."

When I got home and turned on the TV, Channel 9 was reporting that the situation was resolving peacefully... Leeland Eisenberg, a man "well known to police," had given himself up, joining Lyndon LaRouche in Rochester's Hall of Shame. I'll be curious to learn his motivations, if and when they become public.

Hillary's response to all this? She appeared only minutes after the situation was defused for a press conference, calmly and gratefully thanking both law enforcement and her staffers. Now she's on her way back to NH. Her site had a notice about the situation up on the home page and a blog entry posted at 6:53, well under an hour after the Eisenberg was arrested. Impressive situation management from her and her team.

How this will affect the NH Primary? My guess is it'll be retail politicking as usual before long, but for this weekend, it's going to be all-Hillary, all-the-time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Now that we've got a date set for the New Hampshire Primary elections, the buzz around the Granite State is as much about politics as Christmas shopping lists. And with good reason. With the date set for January 8th--the earliest date ever--it's hot on the heals of the holiday season. Too close, some say. Retailers and candidates will be competing for media air time and shopper/voter mindshare over the coming weeks, at the risk of oversaturating a tight market for both dollars and votes.

Nevertheless, with the horse race in full stride, and the finish line now in sight, we New Hampshirites are engaging in one of our favorite sports: Handicapping. One way to handicap is by traditional polling--calling people up at dinner and asking them who they like. Hmmm... Not so good.

But KD Paine & Partners--a nationally renown media measurement firm based in Berlin, NH--is taking a more modern approach. They're tracking YouTube usage. Following the clicks as it were. Call it Polling 2.0 if you will. And they're getting some very interesting results. Let's just say Ron Paul's money bomb on Guy Fawkes Day wasn't all that surprising when you look at this data. Here's a link to the last batch of stats. The newest batch of stats, released today, has Ron Paul ahead by several lengths.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Katie Paine is available for comment. Please contact her directly for more info.

Further 2.o-ing politics, now tonight's GOP debate will be YouTubified, too, with candidates answering questions from YouTube videos like the Dems did a while back. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I swear, we do not put the local paper up to articles like these!

These are unsolicited editorial views!

(And we appreciate it.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nice little story in the Fosters today on old pal Erik Crago and Port City Web. While it is not surprising that the article focussed on the one unexpected aspect of his business -- that they do shipping fulfillment for a shoe company -- it did strike me as odd that they didn't mention the name of that shoe company. But because Erik and I go way back, I happen to know who it is.

Slightly embarrassing side note: Back when e-commerce was just a puppy in the window, my brother and I had the idea to sell shoes on-line. But ultimately, I pooh-poohed it: "Who wants to buy shoes without trying them on first?!" Uh, apparently, a lot of people. Whoops!

Meanwhile, still poking around and getting used to the new Interesting idea with this Foster's toolbar but with Google, Yahoo, StumbleUpon, etc., how much screen space is really up there?

And speaking of new things (see my post, "Change is Annoying" below), by now you may have heard that Foster's Daily Democrat is switching from an afternoon paper to a morning paper? This is huge. And risky. Frankly, I always thought it was neat that the Fosters was a PM paper. Journalistically, it gave them flexibility to respond to the morning's events, and from a marketing perspective, it was the key differentiator between it and its chief rival newspaper. Here's a great review of the ongoing "battle" from As the editor-at-large opines, there is precious little wiggle-room these days in the battle for newspaper-reading eyeballs. Everybody wants to be the "community resource for news and information" and the new Fosters and Herald web sites are a bold move into the web 2.0 news-sharing arena. But yes, with the NH Gazette and The Wire, WSCA-FM, and, the local media market is as wide-open as it is fractured.

Let's see what kind of buzz bump Fosters gets with the switchover on the 26th. And what, if any, response is forthcoming from the Herald. This could be interesting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Today's Portsmouth Herald was a bit of a Campbell harmonic convergence. On the front page, there was an article about the progress of the eCoast Wi-Fi Project, which I helped initiate several years ago. Thanks to Herald reporter Adam Leech for diligently staying on this story.

Further inside, on front page of the Money section, was a feature on my dad, David Campbell (handsome devil, isn't he?) and his wine shop. Ceres Street Wine Merchants is the oldest (founded in 1992) and largest (a bit of a non sequitur, if you've been inside) wine store in the state. Great job by Diana Paquet in capturing the spirit and personality of my dad and his store.

Oh and the "buy local" thing he mentions at the end? That's -- a great idea to organize and promote local businesses to keep money and jobs local, while also celebrating entrepreneurship and business creativity. Not to be forgotten are the environmental advantages of buying local, especially with gas hitting 3 bucks a gallon and the holiday gift buying season upon us. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Change is... Annoying?

Recently I was in the renovated, redesigned, rejiggered, reopened Shaws in Portsmouth. It had been pretty much a mess for a month or so while they did the work, which mainly consisted of moving things around to different aisles make things "easier" for the customers to find. When they were ready, they reopened the store with balloons, fanfare, even an autograph-signing visit with former All-Pro Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett. (See photo. That's me on the left and my brother Todd on the right. What can I say, we were big fans of #56!) Shaws also trotted out Rewards program incentives, like a free turkey after you've spent a certain amount. All this is well and good. I'm sure they have very solid data on how they would increase their dollars-per-square foot with this new design. And certainly, change is inevitable; after all, this particular store opened in 1991, which was... hmmm... 16 years ago according to my computations. That's kinda old these days, especially with Wal-Mart horning in on the grocery store turf. So anyway, when I checked out, the cashier asked me dutifully if I had found everything OK. Sure, I replied. So relieved she was to hear this, she couldn't help herself from remarking "You're the only one!" Hmm...

It reminded me of the responses I've been hearing about the new websites of our local newspapers, The Portsmouth Herald and the Fosters Daily Democrat. They've retooled and relaunched with a bold, modern new looks. Of course, in doing so, they've moved the peas, the frozen pizza, and the organic foods, just like Shaws. Interestingly, The Boston Globe redid their site at about the same time. Clearly, there's a lot of change afoot these days.

When it comes to change, the question for small businesses shouldn't just be, "Is it better for me and my business?" It's got to be, "How will this change affect my customers, and how can I manage the situation to avoid complaints, or even worse, defections?"

So, how are they doing? Have you had trouble finding things in Shaws and on our revamped local news websites? Comment me below and let's find out.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the wake of the Boston Red Sox World Series Championship (god, how I love to put all those words together!), talk soon turned from Josh Beckett's pitching guts and Jon Papelbon's dancing butt to... tacos and furniture?

Yep, and it got me to wondering, "Which marketing campaign was the most effective, Jordan's Furniture or Taco Bell?"

At the eBrew the other night, I floated the question. There was enthusiastic support for both campaigns--especially Taco Bell's in-game buzz--but no real consensus. I checked the pulse of the the blogosphere, I've found this, and this, and this. Now, I'll take a look at it from a few different perspectives one-by-one, and see who's "got game," so to speak.

Game 1. Consumer Benefit

This one's a no-brainer. For the consumer, clearly, a free couch or mattress is a hell of a lot better than a free 79-cent taco. You could buy as much furniture as you wanted, but you couldn't even pick which kind of taco you wanted! And you had to pick them up on Tuesday between 2 and 5PM. Jordan's takes game 1 handily.

Game 2. Creativity

The idea of giving away furniture if the home team wins the World Series is quantum-leaps more creative than giving away free food if a player steals a base. Last year, you may recall Taco Bell did the same promotion, but the trigger was if home run happened hit a smallish target in the bleachers. (It didn't happen. No taco for you!) For the record, there has been a stolen base in every Fall Classic since 1990, so they dramatically increased the odds this year. For comparison, the Vegas odds for the Sox winning were anywhere from 6-1 to 10-1 at the beginning of the season. Jordan's campaign took lots of planning (beginning before the season even started) and more than a little (pardon the pun) balls. The Taco Bell campaign seemed just, well, gimmicky. Jordan's takes a 2-0 lead.

Game 3. Buzz Factor

Let's face it, both buzzed through the roof. Jordan's "Monster Deal" made national news (Bloomberg, USAToday, ABCNews, etc.). But Taco Bell got on-air promo--ballplayers were actually talking about it in the dugout, followed by a not-so-coincidental cut to the TB CEO sitting in the stands. Personally, I'd prefer less shilling and more Schilling in my World Series, thankyouverymuch. But the on-air buzz, positive media coverage, and the next-day water-cooler buzz combine to give Game 3 to Taco Bell.

Game 4. Cost.

We're still not sure how much it cost Jordan's (or parent Berkshire Hathaway) in total, but the insurance policy was reportedly $20 million. Further, there are concerns that the rebates might be taxable and require 1099s for customers (although this seems unlikely); other reports worry that the total rebate-eligible sales may exceed the $20m policy. Taco Bell, OTOH, was a bargain-basement score. According to Ad Age: "Advertising buy: $5.6 million. Potential giveaway cost: under $1 million. Publicity value: priceless." Game 4 goes to Taco Bell.

Game 5. Execution

Jordan's campaign was highly integrated and well executed. Taco Bell's seemed a bit slapped together. As one expert noted in Advertising Age, "I felt that it was pretty flat-footed and also extremely expected at this point," said Jon Maurice, senior partner at interactive marketing agency Drive. "I don't know how many of these we've seen, but it's kind of like, 'Insert quick-service- restaurant brand here.'" He added that Fox's treatment was "heavy-handed" and Mr. Savage's performance left much to be desired. Conversely, Eliot's a natural; his TV persona and years of creative marketing experience are the stuff of New England legend. And Game 5 goes to Jordan's.

Game 6. Overall Impact

Jordan's was effectively leveraging a long-standing sponsorship of the Boston Red Sox, and in doing so took the relationship to a whole 'nother level. Jordan's campaign started with their announcement during Spring Training and ran all year long on NESN, the Red Sox cable network. The TV advertising spots were updated throughout the season, and there were broadcaster voiceovers and on-screen graphics during each game. The Taco Bell campaign really only lasted the duration of the World Series itself, and the Sox made quick work of the overmatched Rox, further minimizing the effect. And in its gushing over Taco Bell campaign, Advertising Age gave little ol' Jordan's props in the end. For overall impact, give Game 6 to Jordan's... And that's it, it's all over! Jordan's Furniture wins, 4 games to 2, the World Series of Buzz 2007!

(At least, that's what I think. How 'bout you? Comment me below.)
I won't be a bit surprised if the voter turnout for today's local elections is low; the weather is miserable! It's worse today than it was for that so-called hurricane we had the other day. Anyway, please do venture out and vote.

I'm supporting Ned Raynolds, Chris Dwyer, and Laura Pantelakos for City Council. I'm also writing in Steve Marchand, whether he likes it or not. I think he did an excellent job as mayor and it's unfortunate that he's now caught between Jeanne Shaheen's Senate campaign and nowheresville. You might even say he's the Mayor of Nowheresville.

Oh and here's a hint known only to the savviest of Portsmouth voters: There are 9 seats on the city council, but you don't have to vote for 9 candidates. Vote for only the ones you really like. That effectively weights your vote(s) more heavily toward the mayor's office! Nifty, eh? So go to, see who you like, and do your civic duty. (Don't forget your umbrella.)