Sears Under Fire (again)!

Once again, Sears has come under public scrutiny this morning. According to Business Insider, a third party company called CET Domain, which Sears permitted to sell on its Sears marketplace listed the following photo for sale:

Sears ring

This began circulating yesterday, causing the Sears brand to publish a statement:

The ring was not posted by Sears, but by independent third-party sellers on Sears Marketplace,” the company said in a statement posted to its Facebook page. “All Marketplace Sellers must accept our seller agreement terms in order to sell their items on and part of that agreement includes an understanding that certain offensive items may not be listed. If a problem occurs, we take appropriate action. The ring has not been purchasable since this morning and we are in the process of completely removing the items from our site.”

People do not seem to care about the public relations message, however, saying that they will stop shopping at the retailer and cut up their credit cards.


Will you continue to shop at Sears? Why or why not?


One Bad Apple Might Spoil the Enitire Bunch

I own an iPhone. So do many other people; in fact, according to Forbes, in March 500 million iPhones had been sold. Consumers are passionate about their gadgets, and Apple consumers are definitely a passionate, vocal bunch.

That’s why when Apple iPhones have a snafu, everyone knows about it.

Recently, there’s been a lot of negative publicity revolving around the iPhone 6 having bending issues known as “Bendgate” as well as the most recent iPhone system update, iOS 8, creating more problems than it solves.

How can Apple iPhone regain its superhero image?

Cortana Speaks Klingon – (Technological) Revenge of the Nerds

Disclaimer: I am a total Trekkie.

That being said, I didn’t give much thought to the Cortana element of the new Windows phone–I, like many others I’m sure, thought that Cortana was just another Siri ripoff with some cute commercials. While complaining about this one night during a Hulu marathon, S (the fiance) tells me that Cortana is a character from the universally-loved Halo video game franchise.

This is Cortana:

This is also Cortana:

In Halo, Cortana is an “artificial intelligence that goes wrong” according to Tech Radar.  Windows phone Cortana is also an artificially intelligent personal assistance with social skills and a sense of humor. So how exactly did Cortana the character become Cortana the device?

Short answer? Nerds.

Society often brands intelligent people who are into video games and new technology “nerds” or “geeks” with a negative connotation. However, with the rise of the Internet, it’s become sexy to be a geek. And now, brands are taking the passion geeks have and turning it into a powerful tool and useful technology. This evolution is an example of emerging media (and technology) at its finest. These so-called nerds are an admirable market that is quite difficult to break into. So rather than reinvent the wheel, Windows Phone chose to hit this target demographic where it hurts: the fandom. Windows has taken it one step further recently, by releasing Friday that Cortana will now be able to speak Klingon.


So, Windows phone has aimed for Halo players and Trekkies–which fandom is next? Star Wars, anyone?

Hello from Ello

Social media is constantly evolving, growing and changing in ways that we might not even be able to imagine today that will be old news tomorrow. Because we are constantly looking for the next new/best thing, and because people grow irritated with sites like Facebook for collecting and selling their data, myriads of new social networks are being created every day. Most of those creations never rise out of the din, and then there’s Ello.

What is Ello? It is an “anti-Facebook” social network that was created last year and has only recently gone into Beta, inviting small handfuls of users. Those without an invitation can visit the landing page for the site, request an invitation, and view the manifesto:




The manifesto reads:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

However, there are a few issues already with Ello’s platform. The company took nearly half a million in venture capital recently. And today, now the brand is dealing with spammers–what it promised users it wouldn’t have:

We’re working hard on privacy features – first and foremost a Block button. This will help you deal with spammy accounts who are following everybody with reckless abandon.

We’re also building tools that will help stem this type of negative behavior from the outset. In the meantime we’re deleting abusive users as quickly as possible.

What do you think? Will Ello kill Facebook? Or is Ello destined to the same cyberspace its predecessors have gone? And if Ello is successful, since it is founded on not selling data and not having ads, what are the ramifications for marketers?



What Makes an Ad Go Viral?

This week’s lesson in 619 is about useful methods to generate buzz for your brand, and much of those methods hinge on the ability of a brand’s ad to go viral. But that begs the question–what makes an ad go viral?

Marketers have been interested in generating buzz and word-of-mouth since the dawn of the ad age, but only with the invention of the Internet have we had a way to seamlessly interact with our consumers and send messages in mere moments. However, the Internet is a vast expanse, and some messages get lost in the void. How can we create lasting, viral content that lives on for longer than a day?

One way to look at viral content is by counting how many people are looking at or sharing your message. After the 2014 Super Bowl, Unruly looked at the messages that were sent during the Super Bowl ads and set out to define what makes a viral message tick. According to Unruly, “The most shared Super Bowl ads online this year all included social motivations—such as appeals to social good, shared passions, opinion seeking, and self-expression.”

Advertising Age tells marketers not to be afraid of angering people in its July 2014 article “Best Practices: How to Make a Campaign Go Viral”. What ways have you used to create a viral message? Were there flops that you were sure would work?

Gmail Goof!

Yesterday, reports surfaced that 5 million Gmail accounts and passwords had been leaked on a Russian bitcoin website. Google responded to this by saying that many of the email/password combinations were outdated, some as many as three years old, so there is little cause for alarm. “We found that less than 2% of the username and password combinations might have worked,” the company wrote in a blog post, “and our automated anti-hijacking systems would have blocked many of those login attempts.”  According to the post, the information didn’t come from Gmail itself but probably from “other sources.” If your account was possibly one of those leaked, Google will have already contacted you, so if you haven’t been contacted, don’t freak out. However, I’m definitely changing my password anyway.

Polic(ing) Twitter

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is enrolling its officers in Twitter training after a series of social media snafus have left the NYPD with egg on its face, according to an article posted on The Drum. While this is more of a public affairs issue, it relates directly to the concept of communication via social media. The NYPD attempted to reach out to the public by creating a Twitter account. Unfortunately, once a message is put on social media, is no longer in the control of the creator. NYPD created a “PR campaign using the hashtag ‘#myNYPD’ which exhorted members of the public to send in snaps of city police” but was ultimately assigned to pictures on Twitter showcasing police brutality. This, combined with police officers’ reactions on Twitter, have led to the decision of holding mandatory Twitter training and asking officers to “use common sense” before responding to anything on social media. This will be an interesting case to watch…