The Power Of Influence
Monday, April 11, 2005
I’ve moved my blog to typed, please see which should direct you there.

Thanks for reading so far

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Conferences - Attending & Speaking


I shall be in Chicago next week for the WOMMA Summit (Word of Mouth Marketing Assoc)

Hope to bring back lots of good information - let me know if you would to get a personal debrief.


And speaking at the Ideas Marketing Summit in Singapore 12 - 14th April. Should be a good event with many interesting speakers from Australia and the region.

Conference website here

Conference program here

Monday, March 21, 2005
The Red Bull Story

Here is a great articile (I love the Economist) about the real story behind Red Bull.

I especially love this quote

"What Red Bull showed, according to Nancy Koehn, a historian of brands at Harvard Business School, is that mass-market advertising was not the most effective way to reach and keep customers."

Just to give you a sense of scale and the explosive growth ... in 2002 Red Bull sold 1.6 billion cans in 62 countries, an increase of 80% over 2000."

Update: 2003 figs (the latest available - 2003 Revenue US$1.6bn, Growth 64%, Number of Employees 1,850.

And in the sincerest form of a complement, other companies (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch ) are now trying to copy Red Bull and launch energy drinks

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon
WARNING this is adictive.

Try this ... The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia

Type in the name of any film actor, however obscure, and this tool will find how to link them to Kevin Bacon. I could not find an actor with a Bacon Number (distance from Mr Bacon) with more than 2 - I tried Bruce Lee, Charles Chaplin, and many others. Let me know if you find a 3 or a 4, I'll buy the 1st first person to find 5 or a 6 a bottle of Champaign!

Developed by the University of Virginia this "game" really demonstrates just how interconnected people are.

Its interesting because it demonstrates two things that we intuatively underestimate.

- How interconnected we are
- Multiplicative expansion


1967, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram did the seminal study from which he proposed that we can all be connected by just six links. Back in those days this had to be done by snail mail. This study has been re-run (by Columbia University's dept of sociology) using email and hence at much larger scale (over 60,000 people participated) A full description can be found here

The results as published in Science magazine are amazing, in summary

Multiplicative expansion

Simple question - if you fold a piece of paper in half 50 times, how thick will it become? Dont sneak a look and simply choose the answer based on your gut feel

  1. as thick a telephone book
  2. as tall as a refrigerator
  3. as tall as the empire state building
  4. as tall as from the earth to the moon
  5. as tall as from the earth to the sun

scroll down for the answer

The answer:
5. Here to the sun - even when we know the answer, it feels amazing, showing that in general we underestimate the end result of one person telling 2 who tell 2 who tell 2 ...

Saturday, March 12, 2005
AdAge Report on Deutsche Bank Study
TV ADVERTISING DOESN'T WORK FOR MATURE PACKAGE GOODS Deutsche Bank Study Cites Wasted Brand Spending May 24, 2004

The whole article can be found at AdAge here

It seems that it is premium content so they ask you to pay a few $s to read it; but its an interesting article so well worth it.

Here are a few choice quotes from the article

CINCINNATI ( -- TV advertising doesn't work for most mature package-goods brands, and the industry's increase in ad spending over the past three years has accelerated waste, concludes a sure-to-be-controversial Deutsche Bank report.

The study, released on the eve of the TV buying upfront, examined 23 household, personal-care, food and beverage brands using customized marketing-mix analysis from Information Resources Inc. It found only 18% generated a positive return on investment (ROI) in the short term (a year or less) from TV advertising. Less than half (45%) saw their TV investment pay off long term.

"I think the marketing line is going to be the next cost bucket all these companies look at," said analyst Andrew Shore, who authored the report. "For the past 50 years, the media industry has been extracting a sort of value-added tax from [package-goods] companies. And right now I think they're in the early throes of this revolution saying ... 'It's not working anymore.' "

Mr. Shore attributed most package-good brands getting poor returns in large part to the rising cost of TV combined with declining and fragmented viewership and lack of adequate measurement systems, such as commercial ratings.

Indeed, that was the theme of a speech by Procter & Gamble Co. Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel to the American Association of Advertising Agencies Media

David Poltrack, executive vice president of research and planning for Viacom's CBS, said the Deutsche Bank findings are similar to those of "How Advertising Works" studies of the 1980s and early 1990s that the TV industry commissioned with IRI, noting that TV ROIs are lower for mature brands and declining categories.
Monday, March 07, 2005
From way back
How far back was Buzz or word of mouth marketing being covered in mainstream media - here is a Business Week article from 2001. I think this must have been one of the very early mentions.

The title is Buzz Marketing - you can reach it in Business Week here.

If anyone can find older mentions let me know and I'll post them here!

I have to say that I would not consider these examples of true ethical word of mouth, again it fails the test of real people recommending from their own honest point of view, paying actors is a “cop out”, a quick fix to take the place of doing the basic groundwork.

As the article mentions, it is fraught with risk and it is also short term, when you stop paying the actors you stop getting the benefit. Real word of mouth will continue to give you benefit even if you cut back on the programs making it a better investment long term.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Just plain wrong
Lots of debate seems to be raging on the ethics of word of mouth marketing – fueled by the Code of Conduct just proposed by WOMMA.

Pardon me, but is’nt it simple – if you pay people to say things they don’t believe in, and they dont declare that they are being paid – then it is just plain WRONG.

Ethical word of mouth involves finding those customer who already like and recommend your brand – and engaging with them to give them reason to do more of what they already do.

Is there any reason it cant be this simple?

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