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December 1, 2006 Rick Mathieson

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December 1, 2006 Rick Mathieson, Author: Branding Unbound

produced with Mobium Creative Group. Event review and photos below

The Future of Advertising, Sales, and The Brand Experience in The Wireless Age



About the author:

Rick Mathieson is an award-winning writer and frequent media commentator on the converging worlds of marketing, media and technology.

His insights on postmodern marketing have been featured in ADWEEK, Advertising Age, E-Business and on CBS Radio and NPR. His research into next-generation business models has earned praise from USA Today and Dow Jones Interactive. His book BRANDING UNBOUND has ranked in’s Top 20 books on advertising, and was rated “one of the best marketing books of the year” by Midwest Book Review. And it has been selected for inclusion at the business school libraries of UC Berkeley, Stanford, Georgetown and Harvard.

Mathieson has also been a featured speaker at industry events such as The Microsoft Leadership Forum, Yahoo's "Branducation" lecture series and The American Management Association's "Corporate Branding: 2006." And Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge has called him a strategic marketing expert whose work “demystifies successful practices in a way that should encourage and inspire other marketers.”

A 10-year veteran of the advertising industry, Mathieson currently serves as vice president of creative strategy for Creative i Advertising & Interactive Media, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent advertising agencies.

Over the course of his career, Mathieson has produced award-winning creative work for a veritable “Who’s Who” of global brand names, including HP, Sun Microsystems, Palm, Business Objects, NEC Solutions America, Cellular One, Ferrari Club of America/West and Specialized Bicycles

Event review (edited) from The May Report: December 13, 2006

Friday morning, Rich Mathieson spoke at Lundin's BIGFrontier breakfast series held at the Merchandise Mart. I am amazed that I braved it down there in the snow. And boy was it snowing. I had to take the Broadway bus and thank goodness I got a seat. People were packed in there like sardines because the "L" broke down and the riders poured onto the few buses out there. .

Rich covered a lot of the trends in mobile marketing and described a variety of experiments that companies from FedEx to P&G to Nike, Absolut Vodka, Prada clothiers, Lenovo, the Thinkpad company (, Kellogg's and many others have tried. First off, Mathieson billed the talk as being about B2B marketing, but it was heavily dependent on B2C illustrations.

You can see some of Rick's insights and data at

Rick started off with a long discourse on trends in mobile communication from SMS messaging to things utilizing RFID tags. Suffice it to say that there are huge increases in mobile communication and cell phones have become an extension of the arms of most teenagers who use messaging to the hilt, and they don't mind paying the dollar charge for using many short codes.

But the trends are not limited to teens.

continued below


Rick told me after the talk that some companies are very reluctant to reveal their data. A case in point is Dodgeball which was purchased by Google and is a mobile version of a social networking site like MySpace. The way Dodgeball works: Let's say you are out on the town in Manhattan and you want to let your friends know that you are hanging out at Jimmy and Tommy's bar. You enter your short code and any of your buddies who are in the vicinity are notified. There is more. You can have a "crush list" which lists women or men that you are attracted to. So, if someone on your crush list is in the neighborhood of the bar you're in, they will be told about it. All of this is geographically based and can be limited to a ten block radius, let's say.

So, what does this have to do with marketing? It certainly has to do with mobile communications, but where's the marketing. Enter Absolut Vodka. Absolut managed to get itself added to the buddy list for Dodgeball so that when a group of friends congregates, Absolut can offer them some customized late night enjoyment, say a place to go for vodka that is just for them, what have you. So, how effective has Absolut been and how is Dodgeball working out? That is unknown, Rick told me. He tried to get info. from Dodgeball before they were even bought by Google, but they were not talking. "They [Dodgeball] were very astute at not telling what the results were," he told me after the meeting. This is before Google bought them. I had to go to Absolut and they would not tell me, he said. Two possible reasons: They don't want to tip off their competitors or it was not that successful of a campaign, Rick speculated.

The general point is that there are areas tied to mobile communication and mobility marketing that are hard to garner data for.

I looked at Mathieson's blog on his book, Branding Unbound, and here are a few things he wrote:

"Yahoo has launched a new site called Mixd, that will allow users to set up groups and text or share photos with everyone within those groups, either via PC or mobile phone.
Message recipients can reply to everyone in the group, or any subset.

In typical Gen Y fashion, Yahoo says "MIxd is about going out. Coordinate last-minute meetups, share pictures and videos from your phone, and remember last night on a Website we create for you, automatically."

Hmmm. A lot of singles may come to wish this service never existed. But as an advertising opportunity, this could prove interesting for certain lifestyle brands, ala Dodgeball."
May again. Here's another blog post.
"Mobile Advertising: Growth Spike Ahead
At least that's the word from ABI research, which has released a new study finding that by the end of this year, advertising delivered via cell phone will reach $1.9 billion worldwide. That's nothing compared to the $60 to $70 billion spent on broadcast TV in the US alone. But ABI is actually a bit bullish, saying that mobile advertising is small today, but "huge tomorrow."

"There are very good reasons to use the mobile phone to reach consumers," says senior analyst Ken Hyers in a statement. "Unlike a TV or a PC, a mobile device is truly unique to the end-user. That allows a more customized relationship with the recipient of the advertisement. Advertisers can obtain a lot of information about end-users, through the websites they visit and the purchases they make, helping them construct tightly targeted campaigns."

Oh, and the response rates don't hurt either, which average around 2-3%, compared to about one quarter of one percent for a traditional ad banner."


May again. OK, this is all very well and good, but there are some holes that need to be addressed. First, the opt-in, opt-out issue. Rick is not in favor of requiring an opt-out. He wants the consumer to decide for himself when he will be approached by marketers and advertisers on their cell phones. Rick calls this The Burger King syndrome. He wants mobile marketing to be done the way the customer wants it done, having it his or her way.

This is not a universally accepted concept by any means. Now, I don't mean to jump on one of our local firms, Vibes Media, but if I recall correctly, a few years ago they were doing what you would call "geo-marketing" where they would send SMS messages to people walking by a Pizza Hut, let's say. Rick is not in favor of this approach. But I believe that firms like Starbucks may be doing it. To be fair, I plan to email Jack Philbin and ask him about this.

Here is where I get a bit confused. How does a marketer know how to communicate with a passer by? If I understood correctly, the cell phone user must have his Bluetooth on.

Rick's credo is "Don't call me, I'll call you." While he opposes an opt-out requirement, he is not fond an opt-in strategy either, I gather because he feels that once a person opts in, he or she may be biting off more than he can chew. Rick is opposed to opt-out because it puts the burden on the customer to opt-out and he is equally opposed to a blanket opt-in where permission is granted only one time and then it is forever, since generally once you opt-in you will be flooded with ads. "What I want is for every interaction to be initiated by you," he said.

This leads us to the issue of spam messaging. Rick made it clear that the telcos have a vested interest in preventing spam mobile marketing or advertising. In Japan, a shocking stat: a full 80% of text messaging is spam! Several members of the audience commented that they are getting charged for spam messaging that comes into their cell phones.

Also, remember that a lot of young people pay $1 for every message they send, is that right? It gets expensive, but kids are willing to pay it. And TV shows make a ton of money on having people message them.

Lundin voiced his opinion that marketers never know when to quit.

All of Rick's examples did not include the use of cell phones. Some of them were about the use of RFID technology. This has nothing to do with your cell phone. If you are in the store, they are pinging you with RFID tags and they know exactly what you are looking at. They then use that info. to display models on the walls wearing the clothing that you are looking at. The problems with RFID and credit cards which we have talked about in TMR were raised in the talk by Bob Jene. Rick said that he thinks that RFID may be a transitional technology that will be replaced by something more stable.

Motorola and Pizza Cast had a campaign where you could order your pizza through SMS text messaging. "IMHO, In My Humble Opinion, if I ever got a text message from someone like that, I would ignore it. If I ever received another one, I would be really ticked off," Rick said. "If I opted into Starbucks or if I loved Pizza Hut and I wanted to get the latest promotions, OK, I could see that, but walking by the Pizza Hut store, whatever, is just going to bug me," he said.

James Warwick who is in marketing for WebPoint Communications said that half of the cell phone users don't complete their minutes. "Fifty percent of the population with cell phones don't complete their minutes in their plan, so the telcos are not making money. They make money but not more money. They make money when you go over those minutes," he said. At this point, Jim said that he is not offering his information for public consumption even though he had mentioned this point in the meeting, so it was heard by 42 people and it was video taped. And a woman from Mobium whose name I don't know said that's enough of the questions from me. My only point is that when you go to a meeting and you make comments for all to hear, you can't suddenly develop a sense of indignation when some guy just tries to confirm your point after the meeting. The whole meeting was videotaped so what is the big deal about my tape recorder?

The fragmentation of marketing across many media and channels was mentioed by Rick but that theme was not fully developed. He talked about how the network advertising is not being seen by the younger demographic. One stat he threw out was that a few years ago it took three ads on network TV to be seen by 50% of the population. Today it is 70 ads. I find both of those numbers hard to believe.

Nonetheless, the death of network TV advertising has been predicted for a few years now and the consequences of TV advertising's demise is just now starting to be understood. Paul Davidovich and I were discussing this after the meeting. Paul brought up the idea that if you are NBC bidding on NFL Monday Night Football, and you know that the audience you seek, the Miller beer crowd, will not be watching, what kind of money are you going to plop down? Now take it one step further, Paul argued. What happens long term to the salaries of the ballplayers?

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