For American Latinos Twitter is Facebook’s alter ego

Hear what our friends at Greencard Creative have to say about Twitter in the Latino community:

“When it comes to social networking there is clear difference between Facebook and Twitter for American Latinos. Some may argue Facebook has been out there longer, but how can you explain the recent jump to 22 million of American Latinos Facebook users in the last year? Others will say it’s about access, well, they are both free, online and mobile. Different than other groups Facebook reflects the American Latinos’ hybrid identity, not just Latino or American, or somewhere in between, or trying to be either.  As we discovered, that is why almost 9 out of 10 of the new American Latinos do not have Twitter*.

NetworkFacebook is about “talking” “sharing life,” it is not just about simplifying and integrating both their real lives with their virtual ones seamlessly, but actually becoming an extension of themselves from the moment they wake up, at home, while commuting, at work, with friends, at parties. It is a two-way conversation where they can engage, chose who to engage with at all times. It is social facetime value as opposed to a popularity contest.

As for Twitter, they see it more as a one-way street, “it’s all about yourself,” not as engaging or deep, “it’s just status, not stories,” and it feels more superficial. The idea of “following” someone is not as empowering. They also said Twitter feels a bit colder and more “American,” and Facebook is more like them, combining emotions and technology.

What this means to brands reaching this target audience its key: it’s all about creating relevant engaging content either through social media, mobile app, or on the web, that allows them to be themselves, and collaborate among their already-established network with platforms that drive participation with engaging emotions.

Check out some inspiring ideas and innovative content-driven platforms by AOL’s digital prophet David Shing at AWNY’s Advertising Career Conference.  Great examples on how to engage with American Latinos, the leading mobile audience.”

Help to end the stereotypes in the Unites States by voting to end the “Hispanic” term  at

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Virtual shopping aisles: coming to a commute near you

I have to admit, while I love the thrill of the deal, you’ll never catch me out early on Black Friday. But Cyber Monday (and the email blasts that went along with it) got me excited.  Only problem, it’s on a Monday.  A very busy Monday this year. As each email came in I lamented about the deals that were passing me by because I didn’t even have time to go to the websites and browse.

That is why I’m so excited about the concept of virtual aisles.  Products displayed on ads rather than shelves in places where you would naturally pass them: your train station, the bus shelter,  even a mall!

Just today, running to catch a train. I was literally stopped in my tracks by an Office  Depot billboard of products simply displayed yet interactive. I can now pick up wish-list items without going into a store or even going to the website.  Just scan it and buy it. It’s that easy.  I almost bought a Kindle for the fun of it!


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Jen Drexler Talks Caring, Creativity, And Why Apple Is Iconic

In the wake of Steve Jobs’ untimely death, both media and marketers are scrambling to decode how one man and his company changed the way the world uses entertainment technology. And when looking for insight into a brand’s influence on our lives, who better to ask than Just Ask a Woman?

Stacey Vanek Smith of Marketplace spoke with Jen about Apple’s iconic imagery and cult following:

Making people feel like it cares is exactly why Apple is Apple, says Jen Drexler, a brand analyst at Just Ask a Woman.

Jen Drexler: You joined it. It’s like enrolling in college and wearing the sweatshirt. You joined this brand the second you became hooked on one of the products.

Part of it is the cool factor. Drexler says instead of focusing on selling to businesses and targeting the cubicle culture, Mac aimed its products at musicians, filmmakers and visual artists.

Drexler: And then everyone else who has one can feel a little bit of that too. I can tell you I’ve never done anything creative with mine ever, but I would like to believe people think I do.

Check out the entire article HERE.

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“My Lowe’s” Makes DIY Projects Doable

Lowes’ new campaign, “Never Stop Improving,” shows both men and women across all generations that the store will be there for every home improvement projects over their lifetime. Through the “My Lowe’s” online tool and phone app, consumers will be able to access all their records of past purchases at the store, making it easily accessible to remember dimensions, colors, brand and cost, so future purchases are hassle-free. Users of the service will also be able to set themselves reminders for home-upkeep issues, like changing their filters. Oh, the power of convenience… especially appreciated when one is trying to tackle a DIY home project. Taking the consumer ease factor even further Lowe’s could offer free shipping to their customers  by implementing a shipping membership program, much like Amazon’s Prime, a membership that costs $79 for the year.

Lowes’ new campaign is an especially supportive home improvement approach for the female homeowner. Women constantly are assessing their home for what could be updated and fixed to suit her family’s current needs, but do you think she has time to search for the name of her trim paint from 5 years ago? Lowe’s is offering homeowners the vehicle to make home-improvement projects as seamless as possible. Their hope is that consumers will get on board, and stay on board, until they reach their destination.  This platform differs greatly from long-time competitor Home Depot, whose slogan, since 2009, has stood “More saving. More Doing.” To me, this saying conveys the feeling that there will always be more to be done. Women don’t need to be reminded of their to-do list. They don’t want to feel guilty that they haven’t done it all or that there is still more to fix. The missed opportunity is to congratulate them on all of their progress.

Check out their touching, but upbeat video spot, which follows a couple from their first date to a BBQ with their grandchildren, of course with Lowe’s supporting every one of their twirls, dips and spins.

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GetGlued In Gap’s Latest Fashion Trends

The social media site GetGlued allows users to check into, rate and share the entertainment sources they use and like best. Show your friends what shows you’re tuning into, what music you’re dancing to, what great book you just read and so much more. What’s more is the site just recently partnered with Gap, their first retail partnership, which will rewards site users who check into the 12 listed fall TV shows with discounts up to 40% off to use in the store. Well if watching TV is going to turn my brain to mush, at least I will look cute in the process?

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BlogHer11: Sat this One Out

I didn’t make it to BlogHer11 this year, but watched it very closely (some would say compulsively) from afar. I tried to read between the lines of Tweets and Facebook updates to see what was working and what wasn’t. After reading the recaps from bloggers I admire like @Redneckmommy and @Mom101 I’m glad to say that this year seemed to have gotten back to its roots.

Way less talk of swag frenzy and the VIP competition that plagued last year in New York and more conversation about learning, support and inspiration. Some of it may have had to do with the awesome and laid back San Diego location – attendees just seemed less frenetic to see everything and do everything.

I made my beef with last year’s conference public in an op-ed for Adweek. My criticism was not with the hard working, well intentioned organizers of the conference but with the marketers who delegated away the task of interacting with bloggers, who stole attendees for off premise VIP events that fed into a divisive hierarchy that can emerge among bloggers and of swamping the joint with swag that had little meaning or measurable ROI.

Adweek reported on the conference this week and while I’m disappointed that “this time, there were at least a couple of brand managers and executives on the floor” I am glad to see that the conference felt rewarding to both bloggers and sponsors.

See you at BlogHer12.

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Since When Is Seafoam Feminine? HTC Bliss To Be Marketed To Women

For the past 24 hours, tech blogs have been atwitter (no pun intended) with leaked images of and speculation about the new HTC Bliss, a pale green smartphone that’s supposedly meant to lure women into the Android market.

Tech blog This Is My Next has dubbed it “HTC’s Lady Phone,” which makes us smile, but we’re not quite sure if we agree with the mocking moniker. Frankly, we’re not sure we hate it. Or love it. It’s a… phone. In a pretty color? Even its admittedly silly name can’t spark our ire. Because from what we can tell so far, it’s a phone that works like a phone, looks like a phone, and cracks like a phone when you drop it on the sidewalk.

Our only concern (because we’re empathic like that): HTC, why limit the selling potential of what might very well be a fantastic product by labeling it “girlie” before it’s even out of the gate? As much as we like to think that the general population will recognize the usefulness under the seafoam, Bliss will alienate a large contingent of both men and women who won’t use a “lady phone” on principle. If your phone does what it should do, why not trust that ladies will embrace it with their dollars—like we all know that women have the cents (that one was intended) to do?

We’ve heard rumblings of the Bliss before, remember?

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At Least It Isn’t Pink

So this week word leaked that Verizon is testing an Android smartphone intended for women. How did it leak? Well someone revealed they are doing focus groups with women in their 20-30s around the country to vet the phone. Note to marketers: Think twice about the perfunctory release respondents sign at your focus groups. Might want to tighten up security

Here is what we know:
It will be green in color b/c green is soothing
It will have a rubber back so it is easier to grip
It will have apps (well, it is a smartphone, right?)
The wallpaper will be calming
Has some cool accessories like a wireless charging dock that has speakers (a la an iHome unplugged)
Car speaker and matching bluetooth headset

Here is what I don’t understand:
Why is this for women versus for people? Wouldn’t men also like a soothing phone with a no slip grip?

The only feature which is more distinctly female is the cool light up charm that attaches to the phone with a strap. It lights up when there is a call or a new message. Now this is really smart for women. If you are wondering why … look over at the table of women having dinner together on a Thursday night. I bet that their phones are on the table in case the babysitter or their teenager needs to call. Because women don’t keep their phones in their pockets like men we don’t hear or feel our phones ring. So we put them out on the table so we can see if someone has called or texted. This visual cue would alleviate the anxiety about missing an important call. I’m guessing a really intuitive engineer figured this one out.

So what do you think? Do women need phones made just for them?

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Will Social Media Hijack Women’s Trust in Word of Mouth?

This title probably gives me away. I’m becoming a digital doubter. While I’m a believer in the power of technology to connect consumers and to enable them to share their customer experiences, I want to challenge the deterioration of the value of online word of mouth among women.

I am worried that our online marketing strategies are killing WOM, the gold standard of trusted endorsement by making it too easy, too anonymous, too paid. I’m concerned that buyers will become either unwitting sandwich boards or simply shills for brands. And I’m wondering if consumers, especially the all powerful female consumers, might begin to shut out the din of too many recommendations without merit or trusted sources.

If women are paid or spiffed for every referral they give, whether it’s a laundry detergent or a dentist, at what point do their friends start to feel they’ve sold out? At what point, does that brand start to look like it’s just buying customers, not creating believers? Is social media ruining what was once a good thing?

I’ll focus on women, not only because at Just Ask a Woman, we’ve studied them for 12 years but because women are the more active online bloggers, gamers, voters and emailers, not to mention, the more powerful gender as measured by their online (and in-person) purchasing dollars. Fifty two percent of women have a facebook or a myspace account and 18% of them update their pages at least once a day, according to 2009 studies. In recent research we conducted, 56% of first time moms share intimate information about their pregnancy with other moms to be online. But intense usage isn’t restricted to women in their 20s or 30s. Women 55 and above comprise the fastest growing demographic on facebook. Their membership is up over 175% in 2008, significantly higher than men of that age group.

Women’s propensity to recommend products isn’t new. Women have always passed the word about products they liked.  For decades, a coupon or a freebie was enough at least to attract their attention, if not their loyalty. But things are different now. Marketers are in even hotter pursuit of women’s endorsements so they use social media and mobile technology as the new enablers of a national conversation about brands, good and bad. And that conversation is becoming as mindless and quick as a click.

Women’s warp speed WOM online

At Just Ask a Woman, we’ve tracked women’s power as brand ambassadors and brand killers. Women love to tell other women about good product experiences and just as willingly (even more so!) will dish about bad ones. Back when we started our business, research showed that women will tell 4 to 7 people about a good experience and 7 to 13 about a bad one. Worse, if they have a really awful product or service incident, they will retell the story in all its gory detail for an average of 23 years.

Of course, all this telling used to be face to face over the proverbial picket fence. Now we’re drowning in the online bottomless pit of instant passalong kudos and criticisms. Have a complaint about a hotel? Why go to the trouble of writing a handwritten letter to the company CEO when you can post your rant about your unmade bed on in seconds? Someone treat you badly at GAP? Don’t wait to talk to the department manager, just tweet out your frustrations and get shoppers all around the mall ticked off.

If you like something, anything, just click “like it!’ and you join hundreds of like-minded souls on facebook. You’ve probably done it yourself. How many of us have retweeted something that we didn’t even fully read or view? We click “recommend” as casually as we hit delete. But like hitting “reply all”, unconsciously passing along viral brand material risks ticking off more people than we please.

Believing Whole Truths or Half Truths?

Technology has made it possible to recommend a product to millions of people even when we’re unaware we’re doing it.  With automated ‘recommendations’ brands can use social media to do the actual work of getting the word out so we don’t have to. For example, go to your favorite frozen yogurt shop and buy a cone. If you’ve registered for a frequent customer card in the past, swipe it at the register and the yogurt company will let foursquare members know that you enjoyed your visit to the store at 3rd and Main. Vaseline Intensive Care set up a Dry Skin Relief Patrol that will send you a free sample if you share the name of another friend with dry skin who ought to know about the brand.

Pretty much every launch in recent months includes some kind of social media platform to ‘use’ consumers to spread the word in exchange for contest entry or freebie.  Not an earth-shaking bit of marketing news, but this can lead to what we call Half Truth marketing sabotage. Think of it this way: Her Half Truth is “I really liked this brand.” Her Whole Truth: “I don’t even remember that I signed up to post this stuff and now the product isn’t working for me anymore.” (Unfortunately, her friends don’t know the difference.)

Interestingly, most women tell us that they do trust what other women say online, especially if an opinion emerges multiple times.  This coincides with a phenomenon that we unearthed years ago, women’s reliance on their custom made Board of Directors, the circle of advisors they’ve collected for their expertise on various topics. She counts on this ad hoc group for information and decision making. She might have a board for travel or finance or parenting issues. But now, her board is populated with lots of people she’s never even met.

Today’s Board may be a far flung group of strangers who share an interest or an advocacy or a talent ripe for access on her keyboard or iPad. If she relies on a neighborhood community site or the blog of a well-regarded author, at least she’s connecting to someone with an identity. But women also turn to the huge anonymous blogosphere and twitterverse for opinions and ideas. Without the benefit of a calling card, women still count on what those other women suggest, especially other mothers, because as they put it: why would a mother lie about something that has to do with a child? What would be her motivation to exaggerate or to pass along a suggestion she didn’t believe in? What, indeed?

Endorsements for Love…or Money?

In 2011, we are light years beyond the innocence of original word of mouth endorsements. Thanks to too much ‘pay for play’, it’s hard to know if a thumbs up came from someone genuinely impressed with a product or service, or someone with her fingers in the cash register. Some mom bloggers have particularly been taken to task for being too willing to accept merchandise, trips and other honors in exchange for a good review. Thanks to recent uproars on the subject, the leaders of the women’s blogging community have been pushing for a code of ethics and standards of behavior that align them as either journalists or serious reviewers or else, Moms for sale.

Even the gravy train of brand swag may be slowing down since marketers are able to get endorsements without giving away the store because there are plenty of consumers who just do it for the ego validation, the community, the sense of ‘being heard.’ What a boon for marketers to get the big payoff of customer endorsement without paying a single dime beyond creating the site or promotion!

As more and more customers pile on the social media “brand”wagon, prepare for dangerous curves ahead. If the ingoing premise was that social media would engender viral word of mouth, how long before these cyber “say so’s” are ignored? And another watch out for marketers: recently we’ve heard brand managers claim that they are measuring success of their campaigns by the number of “likes” on their brand’s facebook page. Who’s to say if those are genuine consumer fans (no wonder facebook eliminated that term!) or just employees and their friends driving up the numbers for other reasons?

A Prescription for Truth

Even with all these doubts, I don’t want to leave you with the sense that I am anti-social media or despairing that no good can come from all this. Companies are under the digital global microscope every day now. Recalls can’t hide in the dark. Consumer complaints cannot be filed behind some dusty counter, never to be fixed. Women’s voices can become the powerful police of a better marketing world. But not if marketers have bought them out.

What’s the remedy? Forewarned is fore-armed. Be sure that the consumers you enlist have really tried and enjoyed your product. Keep your processes transparent. Dare to re-ask your enlisted customers just how happy they continue to be and fix it when they aren’t.  If you can send samples or coupons directly to their friends who request them, work to earn those relationships. And you need to deliver on a great brand experience when that new customer comes your way from a social media referral.

There is nothing more powerful than a heartfelt endorsement from a woman. But the overkill of the social media tactic could be a short term win with long term consequences. And, if no one believes your “real person online testimonials”, what will that say about you?

This article is also available at Canvas8.

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All Hail the Citizen Ad Critic!

Last night I spent about five hours live blogging for the Wall St. Journal as part of an “expert” panel on advertising. The combined crowd of global creative directors, a sports blogger, comedy writer/actress and this women’s marketer were recruited to weigh in on the good, bad and ugly of the SuperBowl.

With the spots hammering me at the pace of four spots about every three minutes, I felt less like I was judging commercials and more like if I was taking the SAT verbal test in public. While I banged away at the keyboard under fire, guests came and went from my apartment, one of the football teams won and a lot of artichoke dip vanished. But when the last game point and commercial were scored, I sat back and thought, Where is this all going?

Because while our panel was bringing years of experience to assess the ads, we were dwarfed by a running commentary on the WSJ site, as well as on Facebook, #brandbowl on Twitter and thousands of other homegrown communities. There was clearly a national divide. “Experts” balked at the patriotic spots. Citizens loved them. Baby’s head smashed against plate glass?—Experts groaned but a big LOL from the peanut gallery. Guys acting gay over cheesy fingers? Hahahahahah. Animals, violence, gratuituous sex, YEAH!

Is the day of the ‘expert’ way over? Snarky anonymous tweets are creating comic geniuses (or not) who are unimpressed by anything big brands can serve up. Anyone who’s posted a burping baby or a dog tangled in a Venetian blind cord sees themselves as way funnier than any zillion dollar commercial from some snotty Mad Men.

I sympathize with the clients and agencies, worrying every detail , while risking millions on the game spots. All that planning. All that time and talent. All that money. And what does it come down to? Pretty much the same platter of slapstick, wise-ass humor, cheap gags and testosterone. I would like to believe that this isn’t the dumb-ification of America as ads cater to an ever-more lowest common denominator master. Maybe John Q. Public can do better (though the Doritos spots belie that idea.) But what if we are at the start of a creative revolution where ‘real people’ will create more stirring, brilliant, entertaining and smart content universe. I hope so.

For now, guess it’s groundhog day at the SuperBowl. Literally.

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June 14, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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