At the tail end of 2008, IPG's media management unit, Mediabrands, inked a multi-year deal with Donovan Data Systems (DDS). While it is unclear how much of the IPG spending flows through DDS (IPG agencies place upwards of $25 billion in media annually) it is nonetheless the lion's share.

DDS's competitor, Mediabank, quietly shored up its digital offering and in six short months following the DDS/Mediabrands deal Mediabank signed DraftFCB for digital services. A small but key foothold at IPG.

It was a whoops! for DDS as they struggled to keep the business.

After several starts and stops in 2009, Mediabank hired former Yahoo! and Right Media exec Bill Wise as CEO this past June 2010. It proved to be a wise move as Bill's vision and ability to chart and navigate digital waters was on spot for Mediabank.

Significant strides and development of their offerings over the last eight months, folding in Audience On Demand services in DSP fashion, places Mediabank at the nexus of what is coming next.

And .... it may have panned out as rumors have surfaced concerning a move by Mediabrands to DDS's rival Mediabank. In light of DDS's reluctance to move nimbly into the digital landscape it would not, however, come as a surprise and a severe blow to DDS.

If the Mediabank/DDS contract is up at the end of this year, we may just see a new face at Mediabrands.


With revenues approaching $500 million and having been in business just under two years its valuation is estimated to be $1 billion.

Groupon is a phenomenon that needs to slow down fast.

An article in this week’s BrandWeek covers two years of marketing efforts for the company that shuns traditional methods and relies on viral impact and PR efforts to push the envelope.

But can this business sustain itself in a fickle world of web “loyalists”? There is no doubt that Groupon is a success today. What it will become tomorrow is anyone’s guess …. if it survives.

I took the plunge about a year ago and purchased several restaurant chits that gave me an average 30% savings at three establishments (the restaurants pony up as much as 75% to the customer and Groupon). One chit introduced me to a new Chinese sandwich shop I would have tried again but, it went out of business. One was mediocre and a third was below sub-par.

Since the chits were good for several months I decided to wait a few months to avoid crowds. And I wanted to ask if they would “do it again”. No, no and NO!

Apparently it was good business for Groupon but not nearly a first base hit for the restaurants that need repeat, full-paying customers. Groupon is the leaking bucket that will eventually run out of water as it tries to refill itself with compelling offers.

Dismissing my preferences only for restaurants, I have since been deluged with offers for nail salons, spas and women’s apparel. According to Groupon’s SVP, marketing, Aaron Cooper …”When you deeply understand your customer and product, you’re going to be better …. no need to hire traditional marketers ….you’re going to be better”.

Pride before a fall …. hubris. I recently unsubscribed from the service and am a happy, “spam” free camper.


As much as and as quickly as media options change they stay pretty much the same. And as the force-winds of technology push us forward we quickly adapt.

Or do we?

It's a riddle. And we keep searching for the answer that is just under our very nose.

A recent blog post by Bob Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman Lewis in San Francisco and St. Louis, uncovers Top Ten Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising. The list follows in its entirety .... with thanks to Bob for his investigative and inquiring mind.

An do drop by his insightful blog, The Ad Contrarian.

Top 10 Double-Secret Unknown Facts About Advertising
1) 99.9% of people who are served an online display ad do not click on it.

2) TV viewership is now at its highest point ever.

3) 96% of all retail activity is done in a store. 4% is done on line.

4) DVR owners watch live TV 95% of the time. 5% of the time they watch recorded material.

5) 99% percent of all video viewing is done on a television. 1% is done on line.

6) The difference in purchasing behavior between people who use DVRs to skip ads and those who don’t: None.

7) Since the 1990s, click-through rates for banner ads have dropped 97.5%.

8) Since the introduction of TiVo, real time TV viewing has increased over 20%.

9) Baby boomers dominate 94% of all consumer packaged goods categories. 5% of advertising is aimed at them.

10) TV viewers are no more likely to leave the room during a commercial break than they are before or after the break.
If you would like to print a nice, clean copy of this list and pin it up on your boss's wall, you can find it here.

Here are my sources:
1. DoubleClick, Benchmark Report, 2009
2. Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
3. U.S. Department of Commerce, Q2 2010; Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
4. Duke University, Do DVRs Influence Sales?
5. Nielsen Three Screen Report, Q1 2010
6. Duke University, Do DVRs Influence Sales?
7. Li, Hairong; Leckenby, John D. (2004). "Internet Advertising Formats and Effectiveness". Center for Interactive Advertising. And DoubleClick, Benchmark Report, 2009
8. NielsenWire, Nov. 10, 2009
9. Marketing Daily, July 22, 2010
10. Council for Research Excellence, May 10, 2010


First it was the pickle. Now it's the tomato. It was subtle, but timely.

Since 1876, the Heinz Ketchup bottle pictured a pickle on their label. In 2009 the pickle was dropped and replaced by a vine tomato. Makes sense, right? After all, Heinz is the largest user of tomatoes in the world and there is no hint of pickles in their ketchup.

Ketchup lovers all over were disturbed by this move .... from an iconic label to an average, inconsistent marketing gimmick!

But now Heinz crossed the line. Catchy phrases on the labels like "Can't Help Broccoli" and, OMG!, an in-your-face call to action to fan them on Facebook!

This cannot be happening! But it is.

From Hefty Trash Bags to Ticonderoga Pencils, marketers are driven to find "friends" on Facebook.

When was the last time you were passionate about trash bags or pencils and who are these so called marketers that have no clue? In many cases, Facebook can be leveraged to the benefit of some brands. In many many more cases it is a huge waste of time, effort and money.

"You like tomatoes and I like tomatoes .... let's call the whole thing off."


In keeping with a the tradition to keep holiday posts a bit more personal, I wanted to highlight a non-profit organization you may have heard about.... Story Corps.

Their mission is to provide Americans with an outlet to record and preserve life's precious moments in story fashion. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.

The video that follows is just one of thousands in their archives that I encourage you to visit. Click the enlarge button for the full effect. And if, by chance, it moves you, click on the sidebar link to make a donation.

Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, came to StoryCorps to recount their twenty-seven-year romance. As they remember their life together from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer, these remarkable Brooklynites personify the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of everyday people when we take the time to listen.”

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how truly great it is to be alive."

Dave Isay,
Founder, StoryCorps

Happy Labor Day .....