Ski to Sea: A great way to celebrate freedom on Memorial Day Weekend.

This post is a little bit “late”, but after some fantastic inspiration over the last 48 hours, I have been called to finish it…Better late than never!

I finally understand why Whatcom County’s world-class 100 mile “Ski to Sea” race event is so popular locally and abroad.  It’s not common for a city and county to be able to host such an epic event and and make it all “work”. This is what makes this little haven in the Pacific Northwest so epic. the 100th (annual) Ski to Sea race reminded me why I am right where I need to be at this point in my life.

Let me explain…

5 am: Race Day

WAKE UP!!! Everything’s ready to go…The coffee pot is steaming hot from the the 4:45am preset so we grab our cups and hop in the mountain rig to travel 56 long miles up highway 542 East (to Mt. Baker Ski area). The trip starts in North Bellingham and ends up at the top of Mt. Baker Ski area.   At 7:30, The roads close about half-way up Mt. Baker Highway (for the safety of participants) so being on time is essential.

In some instances, as a first-leg racer, you’d be dropping off a canoe and two teammates at the Nooksack river in the small town of Everson. Fianally, you would also likely drop off a road biker about 8-miles before reaching the top of the mountain. Now if your whole team car-pooled for the race, you are one of three people left in the rig: A cross-country skier, a hiker/snowboarder (or skier), and/or a runner.  Your last-leg kayaker is probably still back at camp enjoying the fact that they get to sleep in for a couple more hours.

So what’s next?  500 cross-country skiers gather around a start gate to anxiously wait the big blast-off.  Families, friends, volunteers, helicopters and photographers gather around to catch a piece of history.

BLAST OFF! 500 x-country skiers take off in a cluster of epic proportions.

Next leg (mine): Hike halfway up a mountain and ski or snowboard down…Hand off to the runner, who then hands off to the road biker who hands off to the canoer who hands off to a mountain biker who hands off to the final leg kayaker who finishes the 100 mile race in beautiful Fairhaven in front of a anxious and energized crowd. The finish line festivities are something can only be truly appreciated by being there.

With that said, I hope that someday you can have the opportunity to experience the this epic and delightful day. It has changed me. It has changed our community. It is Whatcom county, and in my opinion, the Pacific Northwest at it’s absolute best.

-TK

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Summer: the “go out and play” season

As socially “connected” as most of us are now, it was very refreshing yesterday to unplug my brain and go for a long bike ride to destination: Nowhere. No Twitter, no Facebook, no email, no phone, no place to be, no thing to do. It was just me, Schwinny the Poo (my surprisingly reliable 30 year old steel horse), and the rushing pavement underneath.  An elevated heart-rate and good clean summer fun helped to cleared out those persistent  mental cobwebs. Stress from the week melted into oblivion.  This was the best $0.00 I’ve spent in a long time.  Summer is here. It’s time to go out and play. I suggest you stop reading this blog post right now and join me.  Repeat of yesterday starts right…NOW!

Mass Media, meet Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Honorable Mention

With all new forms of communication, there is always a learning curve before the art is perfected. In the case of social media, I have found that some marketing professionals understand the value better than others. I have also come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a social media “guru”. If someone claims to be one, beware!  Just sayin’.

However, there are some brilliant minds out there that do have a solid grasp on the importance and relevance of social media.  Fortunately for me, many of these people are presenting during the www.socialmedia301.com conference today (6/4/11).  I am very fortunate have the opportunity to attend this remarkable event.

So what helps one excel in the realm of social media marketing?  One of the most important attributes, in my opinion, is the complete understanding of marketing integration .  For most businesses, social media is only a utensil in the marketing toolbox. Social media is not the holy grail of marketing, but rather a very powerful word-of-mouth and feedback device that can be harnessed successfully only when used in conjunction with a contemporary marketing strategy.  With this post, I will present three mass media (television commercial) examples where I perceive a company’s use of social media via mass media to be either good, bad, or worthy of an honorable mention.

The Good…

Aflac’s “Silent Movie”

With more that a 11,000 online (social) entries in response to Aflac’s “Answer the Duck’s Call” campaign, I’d call this one a social success.  I was first exposed to this campaign via Aflac’s Silent Movie television commercial produced in response to their recent loss (firing) of Gilbert Gottfried, who was the long-time voice of the “Aflac Duck”.  He was fired due to some unruly comments posted on his Twitter account about the recent Japanese earthquake.  The  Silent Movie commercial directed potential “contestants” to www.facebook.com/aflacduck where they could find out how to compete for a chance to be the new voice of the Aflac duck. The response was huge. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade!  This, in my opinion, has been one of the most expertly executed campaigns involving both mass media and social media that I have ever seen.

The true test for Aflac now will be how long they can leverage this campaign and sustain the amazing buzz they have created.

***Note: #FAIL, Aflac! There are no obvious links to their social media sites on www.aflac.com. REALLY?! Now check out what PEMCO is doing with social media on their website.  MUCH better!

The Bad…

Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

First, let me admit that Old Spice’s original commercial and social followup was executed brilliantly.  I might get some flack for this example, especially since the Old Spice YouTube video featuring this commercial has generated more than 32 MILLION views at the time of this post.  Ready…Set…GO!…Old Spice got lucky…There, I said it!

I believe Old Spice had an amazing (missed) opportunity to integrate this marketing formula into a social media “call to action” plan.  Initial #fail. They got lucky with an organic viral sensation and fortunately had the talent in place to effectively respond to the overwhelming reaction. All I’m saying is if they included a 2-3 second shot at the end of the commercial with “Meet Old Spice Man on Facebook: www.facebook.com/oldspiceman” (or some similar call to action), they would have been much more socially integrated with the campaign. They would have been more prepared to embrace the response.  Instead, they reacted with personalized videos and commentary directly from the star of the video, Isaiah Mustafa…After the fact.

If the brand would have been more proactive with social media and encouraged the conversation rather than react to it, I believe Old Spice would have been much more ready to embrace long-lasting relationships with a new and possibly profitable customer base.  Also, something to think about. Are the new followers fans Old Spice or Mr. Old Spice?  Chew on that for a moment.  Let me know how it tastes.  If you don’t like it, I’ll cook up a new idea for you to critique.  That’s what makes this fun.

Don’t get me wrong.  From a viral perspective, Old Spice’s effort gets an A+.  It’s just, well…It could have been better. Better late than never; their website and Facebook page both are very “social”…Now.  Maybe bad is the wrong descriptive for this situation.  At least I still have you attention though!

The Honorable Mention…

Doritos and Pepsi MAX “Crash the Superbowl”

This was an easy choice. Frito Lay launches the “Crash the Superbowl” campaign and BOOM!  Thousands of amazing video entries come flooding in.  The campaign is extremely expensive, but the results are solid.  Social participants embrace the idea via Facebook and YouTube.  Tons of amateur video producers end up producing free content for the two brands. Many interested parties flock to view the entries and cast their vote. Success for some used-to-be small-time video producers happens overnight. Doritos and Pepsi MAX solidify their respective positions as best marketing and commercial campaign(s) for Superbowl XLV.

Crash the Super Bowl gets honorable mention because the “influencer” audience was pulled in before the campaign was officially presented to the masses.  The campaign became a social election and everyone was happy with the results.

So my grand point is this: if you’re going to ride the social wave and dabble in the conversation,  Please, be proactive.  Have a strategy in place that integrates your company culture; tell your story  And above all else, know that you are in it to win it, but the consumer has the power to decide who will be the champion.  Because of that, they deserve to be listened to and responded to.  ALWAYS. The conversation will go on with or without your brand.  Accept this and embrace this and you will be ready to compete in the realm of social media.

-TK

WWU students verbally assaulted at Pizza Time in Bellingham, WA

Hmm…Interesting headline, right? Just for clarification, it’s the name of the YouTube video embedded below.

Here’s a snapshot of what happened…

‘Dude and Crew’ walk into a local establishment, (Pizza Time), with their ‘hidden camera’ (likely a smart phone) to document their “situation” with a delivery driver.  OK, cool (almost)…They walk into the store and  don’t get the response that they want right away so they continue to plead their case. Eventually an employee gives them their money back.  Fair enough…Time to leave, right?  NO?! ‘Dude and Crew’ continue to press the issue with the manager and/or owner and an employee who had nothing to do with the issue at hand…Watch the video.

Look, I’m right there with the customer at the beginning of the video. The delivery guy could have been much more considerate and tactful about the situation in the first place.  If you’re not satisfied with a purchase, yeah, try to get a refund.  In this case, mission accomplished, +1.

The rest of the video is over the top, in my opinion.  There was no need for ‘Dude and Crew’ to hang around and antagonize the staff.

So, I suppose if I must pick a side, I side with Pizza Time with this one.  Feel free to FREAK OUT on me now. I’m on the other end of a 1-800 number. I’m used to it.

Why do I side with Pizza Time in this situation?

#1: I don’t think it was right to “spy” on employees who had nothing to do with situation at large.

#2: ‘Dude and Crew’ eventually got their money back. They could have said thanks and walked.

#3 Bellingham Pizza Time is a PRIVATE establishment that was, for lack of a better word, invaded by a disgruntled group of customers. Yes, the customer may have had a valid complaint.  And yes, maybe the employee and manager/owner could have dealt with the customer in a more productive or appropriate way. However, it is their absolute right to tell anyone to leave their business at any time.  How would this situation make YOU feel if the tables were turned and you were the employee? What would Jesus do? 🙂

#4 ‘Dude’, You might have caught these guys on a REALY bad day.  I don’t think it’s appropriate to blame the company.  Even if you’re a long time loyal customer…Stuff happens. People have bad days.

So what’s the point of all this rant and rave? I’m torn. I absolutely want to support the little guy. In this case, I feel like the little guy is Pizza Time.  Just to put it into perspective, this video as of right now has 7,250 views…IN 24 HOURS!  That’s pretty much viral, ya’ll.  ‘Dude’ got his revenge, if you will.

I want to see wrong made right.  But I don’t want to see wrong made wrong.  In this case, I feel like the efforts by the customer were initially genuine, but the video posted to YouTube is over the top.  Yeah, Pizza Time could have turned the other cheek and made a perceived wrong right, but instead they fought it.  Oh well!

So if ‘Dude’ happens to read this…This is not such a big deal that it should be posted on YouTube for the world to see. Now a bunch of people might boycott this establishment because of your video.  If that’s your mission, that’s sad to me. Regardless of your bad experience, it’s still a small local business with people working hard to feed you and your crew. Even if you feel like you “won”,  I’m not sure if you did.  You just got your 15 minutes of fame by defaming the other guy. Not fair, ‘Dude’.

‘Dude’, I think your immediate intentions were justifiable, but honestly, you are not Michael Moore and Pizza Time is not Enron. Time to move on, because Bellingham Pizza Time is not the problem.

-TK

(Plenty of vulgar language in the video…Consider yourself warned!)