Scarlett of Suburbia

Field Notes from The Motherhood


June 2008

Another Clueless Media Company

Well, hello there! We’re ANOTHER CLUELESS MEDIA COMPANY. You may already know us and even if you don’t, we think you’ll enjoy a peek at our YouTube videos. So, we sent you the enclosed DVD for your viewing pleasure. We pulled a few of our favorites, where we talk about things such as alligators, the environment and, ok, a little about ourselves. Enjoy!

Seriously? Ok, first –who the heck sends a DVD through the MAIL of their YouTube work? Were they afraid I wouldn’t have access to the WORLD WIDE web? I mean, I work at an interactive agency for goodness’ sake!

The clueless media company spent a pretty penny on the snazzy tin case and yet the cover note (copy referenced above) was pasted onto red construction paper that was hand cut on three sides and machine cut on the fourth. Frankly my Kindergartener could have done a better art job.

Second, the copy stinks. I don’t really care about you, or alligators or what you think about the environment. And I’ve yet to see a YouTube video that I ‘enjoy’. Want to know what your business can do for me. Preferably in a minute or less. Save the other stuff for your spouse, your children and your mother.

Finally, don’t mix your channels. If someone calls you, do you email them back? Well, don’t do it with your marketing either. Taking videos that you’ve posed on YouTube and now showing them as glorified screen grabs seems bizarre at best and more than a little self-serving/attention-seeking.

I’m not naming this firm because, clearly, they are struggling enough as it is. But honestly, if you are an entrepreneur and even *think* that something like this would be a good idea, please PLEASE think again. As for the clueless media company, the survival of the fittest applies to more than species.


Beware the Ides of March

I was just re-reading about Bear Stearns remarkable collapse with today’s indictment of two managers, Matthew Tannin and Ralph Cioffi, who quite frankly should have known much better than to share private thoughts via email. Because, apparently unlike their employer, email is forever. Think twice before you create any digital communication and, if you wouldn’t want a Federal judge listening to its contents, you probably should send/post/publish it.

What is astonishing to me, though, is not so much the stupidity of these two managers, but rather the extraordinary speed of Bear Stearn’s collapse. Here was an 85-year old, independent investment bank with assets in excess of $400 billion, paying their counterparties, executing trades and, according to their CEO at least, making money.

Until a Tuesday in mid-March when an email was issued from another Wall St institution, Goldman Sachs, to its hedge fund clients that called into question Bear Stearns’ liquidity. There weren’t any specifics or facts offered to make such a stunning accusation, but, apparently, it was enough that Goldman was asking the question. Within days, not weeks, not months, but from Tuesday when the email was sent to Friday when Bear Stearns had secured $30 billion in funding from JPMorganChase and the US Government, their stock went into freefall. Game over.

Companies in sectors like financial services, technology, even media have always been about the confidence they publicly present. But once the confidence evaporates, so too does the business. Business is a competitive sport and certainly not for the faint of heart.

Buy a Car and Get a Gun (or Gas)

Think social media can’t make a difference to a small business? Consider Max Motors, a new and used car dealership in Butler, MO. With their recent Guns & Gas promotion, this small dealership is now claiming:

“We’re fast becoming the Premier Used Car Dealer on the Internet. All of this from a small town south of Kansas City. We’re also a new car dealer that is changing the way people shop for cars online. Wether you’re looking for a new car or a used car, you’ve found the right Car Dealer. We make it easy to get a car loan, find the right car and get you on the road quickly and easily… It doesn’t matter if you’re in Kansas or Missouri, Butler or Warrensburg, you can be in Alaska and still buy from Max Motors and find out how we’ve put this sleepy little town on the map. We carry new Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Buick, and Cadillacs plus a wide range of used and pre-owned automobiles. Max Motors, more than just a new car dealership.”

Instead of going down *just* the traditional route of local newspaper and oversized signage, they added a blog, tagged posts on automotive forums and a few other social media tools and were soon covered by the local tv station, NBC and the world (courtesy of the BBC).

Even though their web site would make Jakob Nielsen (and most art directors) scream with horror, at the end of the day Max Motors and every other small business in America are in business in order to make money, not win awards or ‘enhance the user experience’.

A car dealer need interested consumers in market for a new car. And Max Motors has stumbled upon what motivates their core audience: Gas and guns.

Lucky hicks or marketing geniuses?

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