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Modern Ads For Discontinued Technology

September 14, 2013 // Posted in Culture, Marketing, Security, Uncategorized  |  4 Comments

Walking down the street the other day, I happened upon a small store in my neighborhood called Rare Medium that specializes in selling refurbished instant cameras.  It occurred to me that the instant camera market is likely one of the most difficult markets that there is, given the rapid ascension of camera phones linked with countless photo applications.

I thought to myself, why would someone buy an instant camera when they could download Instagram, Over, Hipstamatic or any other number of “vintage” looking camera apps to their phone?  It’s easy to market a product that sells itself, but how would I market an antiquated technology against new platforms in a rapidly shrinking market space?

I sketched out a few ideas below using a popular print ad format.  If you’ve got suggestions for other antiquated products that might make for a good modern ad, please mention it in the comments below!

[Photo Credit: West Yorkshire Cameras]


Always Disconnected: I was walking through the park on a sunny day last week and about 90% of the people there were looking at their phones. It made me want to question the modern reality of people’s addictions to their phones and technology.


Privacy Respected: This was the first Polaroid ad I wrote.  Inspired by Edward Snowden and this week’s article about iPhones, Androids and Blackberries being compromised by the NSA.


Keep it real: With this ad, I wanted to associate the camera with a colloquialism that was similarly outdated, yet still captured the endearing authenticity of a better time. I also wanted to convey the feeling of a conversation between the consumer and the brand.


How to make new friends: Marketing folks are always looking for “engagement” and “earned advertising.” I wondered how to bring some real social interaction to this product and I thought that this might be a good catalyst.


Security Through Hilarity: Statistics on funny ID photos

August 29, 2013 // Posted in Culture, Marketing, Security  |  2 Comments

ID_photos_02Like me, you may have also observed that many employees of retail and restaurant businesses don’t look at the picture on a bank card when it’s handed to them during a transaction.  When they do, they often glaze over it out of habit.  The key to having a more secure bank card is not simply including a picture, but including one that grabs attention and gets a reaction that at naturally results in them verifying your identity.

Several years ago I experienced identity theft when a bank card was stolen from me.  I’d accidentally left my card in an ATM and it was quickly nabbed.  The thief, or thieves, extracted a couple hundred dollars from my account and then went on a shopping spree of movie tickets and McDonalds cuisine before I noticed it and cancelled the card.  Fortunately the FDIC covered my losses and I was only inconvenienced with time.

That all too common experience left me wondering how thieves were able to easily use credit cards that are not their own and what could be done to prevent it.  In recent years, banks have given customers the option of placing an ID photo on their bank card as an extra security measure.  While this is a good first step, I believe that there isn’t much incentive for employees of a business to check the ID of their customers.  I also believe that we as customers can do something about it.

I’ve compiled these notes and charts detailing some strategies and non-scientific research numbers from my own observations.  My conclusion is that a funny face in your photo on a bank card results in an increased amount of verification, thus deterring potential identity thieves.  It’s also a great way to bring a smile to someone’s day or break the ice in a conversation.  Having a funny picture on a drivers license still achieves the smiles, except when it comes to interactions with police.  There is a slight increase in the likelihood that a ticket will be issued instead of a warning if you’re pulled over and have a silly picture on your license.  I think that cops don’t like people who appear to have a healthy disregard for authoritarianism.

How to take a funny photo for your ID.

Banks – Banks will usually take customer photos at their branches.  Most employees there are happy to have fun with the photos.  The people who processed my first bank card photo kept mailing me a new card without the photo, saying “something was wrong with the image.”  By being persistent, and taking the picture at the bank a few more times, the card issuers eventually sent me my card with the silly picture on it.

Department Of Licensing – Your mileage here will vary depending on who is working the photo booth.  The first time I took a funny photo at the DOL, the photographer had a blast with it.  The second time, at a different location, the photographer tried to scold me.  My afternoon was free and there was a big line of people, so I just held my facial expression and she eventually took the photo.  A Pastafarian also recently won the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head in his Texas drivers license.  Illinois is not nearly as progressive.

Company ID photos – Most companies won’t care what kind of picture you place on your ID badge.  When I worked for a big software company, I used a silly ID picture and some other folks started doing the same.  I’m looking at you Ian!  The only issue you might have is how it’s interpreted by senior leadership.

Passport Agencies – These places are serious business.  They will reject a photo if you have any silly expression.  Heck, they will even reject a photo if you’re smiling and showing teeth in your photo.  They claim that it has to do with the capabilities of their facial recognition software.  Having worked in the realm of computer vision, I can tell you that computers are capable of recognizing faces regardless of whether or not the person is smiling.  I think it’s just institutionalized stodginess.  But alas, I haven’t been able to get a passport with a silly photo on it yet.  If you’re able to, please let me know!

The Stats

Update 8/29/13 – My source for these statistics was personal experience using these cards over the past several years.  Keep in mind that this was not a scientifically accurate study.  It should be considered an approximation.  My sample rate for police interaction was also quite low, thankfully.

bank_card_no_photo_01bank_card_normal_photo_01bank_card_funny_photo_01   drivers_license_bar_normal_photo_01drivers_license_bar_funny_photo_01   drivers_license_cop_normal_photo_01drivers_license_cop_funny_photo_01



Does Targeted Advertising Work? My campaign to earn one click

August 12, 2013 // Posted in Marketing, Security, Software (Tags: ) |  2 Comments

I recently became more interested in the world of marketing.  As such, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the nuts and bolts of targeted advertisement.  As an experiment to see if targeted advertisement works, I started a project to get one specific person, and only that person, to click on a banner ad placed in Facebook.  I spent a Sunday afternoon fixing a motorcycle in my garage, while meditating on who I would advertise to, and how.

One of my concerns was that I didn’t know who was using ad-blocking software and who wasn’t.  I also didn’t want to invest in a micro-campaign if it wouldn’t give me results.  I thought about posting an ad to one of my motorcycling companions, or perhaps a relative.  I finally decided on my buddy Zach Huntting (AKA Zapan.)

Zach and I have been friends for a little over 10 years.  We toured and performed together as part of the Fourthcity Laptop Battles, of which he was a founding member.  Back in the day, I would tag along with him and help out with midnight wheatpasting campaigns for our shows.  This resulted in several events sold to capacity, with lines stretching around the block.

Since then, Zach went on to get an MBA from the University Of Washington, and started his own social marketing firm called Crown Social.  I figured that if there was anyone who wouldn’t be using an ad-blocker, it would be the guy that works in social advertisement.  I opened his Facebook page in one tab, and the Facebook Ad Manager in another and started to build my campaign.


Setting up an ad campaign in Facebook took me less than an hour.  I first created a page called “Hey Zapan At Crown Social” that included a photo of him that I pulled off the web.  The thinking was that if I saw a picture of myself in an ad, along with a title that called me out by my nickname and my place of work, accompanied by a personal note from a friend, it would grab my attention and I’d click on it.

One of the neat things about Facebook is that they allow you to see the number of people in your target audience as you construct your ad.  I found that one of the limitations is that they won’t tell you the exact audience number of people in your target audience if the list is fewer than 20 people.  Even if the target audience is zero, it will still say fewer than 20.

I also had another issue including Crown Social as a place of work for my target audience.  My guess is that the company doesn’t have enough employees yet to show up on Facebook’s radar.  As such I added Wunderman to the list since it was in Zach’s work history.  The UI for the Ad Manager made it unclear about whether my ad would be targeted at people actively working at Wunderman or people who included Wunderman in their work history.  If there were no click-throughs in a few hours, I’d fine tune my ad a bit more.  Facebook’s pricing was also a bit nebulous, as it didn’t give much information about the going rates for different types of ads.


ad_preview_02Eight hours after posting the initial ad, I only had one unique visitor to the page, and I was pretty sure that it was myself.  I saw that Zach had been actively posting on Facebook earlier in the day without noticing the ad, so I decided to change the definition of my target audience a bit.  I removed Wunderman, Decibel Festival and the University Of Washington, and instead focused on people who attended Waseda University in Japan and were also fans of the video game Hawken, a client of Crown Social.  I figured that there could be only one person like that in Seattle.

Two hours later, Zach posted to my ad page, calling it both hilarious and brilliant!  In a total of 10 hours, I had successfully launched and completed my mini-campaign.