Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hard Knox Life - My new blog

Well I have decided to get back into the game with a new blog. It has been 2 years since I retired Second Law Marketing but I am ready to give it another shot. If you are interested, please visit my new place on the web at Hard Knox Life. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Time to start listening to my own advice

The other week it was Viacom buying Neopets. Now I hear that MySpace (or more appropriately, their parent company Intermix) is getting bought by News Corp. I'm starting to realize that I should listen to my own advice and buy stock in companies that I believe will be on the leading edge of today's marketing revolution. The :30 TV spot (in it's current format), won't be around much longer and companies/sites like Neopets, MySpace, Habbo Hotel, etc will be leading players in tomorrow's media landscape. This trend of consolidation is bound to continue as big media wakes up to the harsh reality. Now if I can just figure out who Time Warner or GE will buy next in order to compete....

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Viacom positioning for future growth

So last week we had the news that Neopets was bought by Viacom and now MTV has officially created MTV Games, jumping on the video game bandwagon. Both of these are truly bold moves by Viacom to shake up the media landscape and get out as the leader in emerging media. If you think about it, both these moves seemed tied to the Viacom vote to break into two companies, one focusing on high growth potential and the other acting as a cash cow. With the Neopets and gaming moves, you can bet you are already seeing two cornerstones of this future high growth company. The MTV Games move is particularly interesting for two little things buried in the press release. First off, they reference in-game ads. If Viacom can leverage their existing media sales force, they will be the first player to really capitalize on in-game advertising. Massive is trying to get in the game, but they aren't part of the old boy advertising network. And EA is leading from the publisher perspective, but I've read that advertising revenue is still less than 0.01% of their revenue. The second big thing is the reference to embedding music in-game. Anyone that has played Madden, SSX or any other EA Sports game knows how big music has gotten now. In fact, these games have been credited for even breaking one or two artists. Think about all the touchpoints MTV can now offer the music labels and you see the tremendous potential for that revenue stream. It will be interesting to see how this things shapes up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Viacom looks for growth through digital pets

Word hit the street that Viacom is buying privately held Neopets in a deal valued at $160MM. I've talked before about Neopets and how solid of a model they have, supported with a great managment team. Having worked with both MTV and Neopets, they have two very different styles of business. It will certainly be interesting to watch this unfold and the integration take place. I think it's the right move as long as the price tag makes sense financially. Neopets brings an extremely strong brand to the table and a history of overdelivering results to their corproate partners. And Viacom will be able to integrate a host of their businesses very naturally into Neopets.

One thing of interest...Disney has a pretty big presence on Neopets with their movie theatre integration. I can't see Viacom wanting that valuable piece of property to stay in the hands of Disney.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Style on a budget

As a loyal Starwood member and a huge fan of W Hotels, I couldn't be happier after reading about Starwood's expansion plans for a low-budget style hotel codenamed "XYZ". Design is becoming so important in everything even categories like deodorants and dishsoap, as consumers are looking for style everywhere in the lives. It's great to see companies like Starwood and Target paying more attention to design. These days, a great product alone won't sell. It has to be a great looking product as well.

Brand Immersion hits NYC

The Tribeca Grand Hotel, a place that many consider the hippest hotel in NYC, has created a true brand experience with their iStudio Director's Cut hotel room. Branded hotel rooms have been popping up all over the place with even companies like Nickelodean getting into the game with Holiday Inn. I find this to be a great thing for both hotels and for brands. For hotels, you offer something different and a chance to underwrite the cost of upgrading rooms. Plus you can likely charge more this unique room. For brands, you get hours of exposure with consumers and a chance for your consumers to try your products. I especially see this as a great opportunity for tech companies. Think of a Microsoft/Xbox 360 suite where consumers can play games before you see they are released, a sampling with thought leaders where they pay to experience your brand. The opportunities are endless, as long as they are done right that is.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A little bragging

Just have to send props out regarding Secret Sparkle's win at the EFFIE Awards last night. The team won a Silver EFFIE, the second in the brand's history (the first a Hispanic ad won in '93). The credit really goes to our agencies (Leo Burnett, Starcom, Landor, IMC2 and MMC) who delivered a great campaign. Nice work team.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Yeah I know, brilliant is the Guiness thing but that's the only word to describe the new online campaign from Budweiser. The King of Beers teamed up with the Jib-Jab, Kings of Online Political Satire, to create a great online spot called "Roll Out the Barrel." Fun, to the point and in my opinion, really damn effective. Who can't laugh out Clydesdale running over the Miller Beer Guy or the line "that import in your glass, tastes like a monkey's ass"? Tasteless humor...what the Internet does best.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

MySpace defining new music

Over the past few weeks, I've seen Myspace getting a ton of buzz in the press about what they are doing in the music industry in terms of supporting/breaking artists. I've worked with these guys on a few projects and I have to say, they really do have their stuff going for them. What is great about MySpace (and sets it apart from sites like Friendster) is the connection they have with artists. For instance, I just received a note that Aware was setting up their Reps on MySpace and also supporting their new artists like Kyle Riabko on the site. The site allows fans to feel a true connection with their favorite bands. And then on the flip side, the artists feel like they have a true connection with their fans. It's a win win all around. Not too bad for a site that is barely two years old...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

XBox 360 Revealed

Microsft just finished announcing the new XBox 360 on MTV. While the special was actually pretty lame (you can tell MS played a bigger role producing then MTV), the system looks amazing!!! I was hoping Microsoft would try and make the 360 the center of the digital entertainment living room and they didn't let me down. Here are the highlights in my opinion:
  • Built in Wi-Fi to easily tap into home networks
  • A 20 gig hard drive that is upgraded
  • A free level of XBox live for game downloads and micropurchases (a potentially huge revenue stream)
  • Built in Windows Media Center Extender making the XBox a stereo, DVR, etc
  • An interchangeable faceplate so the box can blend into your decor (and your signficant wife won't yell about it sitting out)
  • HD capabilities (and what appears to be a partnership with Samsung based on the co-branded commercial that ran during the MTV special)

The biggest question that went unanswered is whether or not the box will be backwards compatable with current XBox games. Big mistake if it isn't. Also, rumor has it that Halo 3 is coming out in 2005 for the launch. While MS didnt confirm the rumor, it would explain why Halo 2's storyline ended so abruptly. Overall, marketers take note. If gaming wasnt on your radars yet, it better be by Holiday 2005.