Not sure about many of you, but I have met a number of people in the CU marketing buisness that have either Communication or Journalism degrees and I am one of those. I was a college journalism photographer and it is truly ironic to me that I hated writing then and even the day I got this job, but now it just seems so natural...but I digress.
As a journalism (photography) major in college (and HS and Jr. High too, LOL) I drank the KoolAid about reporting the facts no matter how painful or embarrassing to anyone. For me, I did so through the eye of photography, but I always beleived in the power of the written word in the press. Imagine then how I have long felt about network news and the pretty little bleached blondes (thank you Don Henly) and the handsome GQ talking heads droning on night after night about what they say is the "news". I'd tell you how I really feel about that but it's not pretty so let's just move on shall we?
The point of this post is to share that I fially got around last night to watching the first episode of the first season on The Newsroom starring Jeff Daniels. OMFG! If you are a Aaron Sorkin fan you will love this show. The same rapid fire machine gun style uber intelligent writing that won him acclaim in Sports Night and The West Wing is back with a vengence. All I can say is that the premise of this show, a prettyboy coprorate news hack who is "reborn" decides to tell it like it is really hits home for me and I have now found another way to waste and hour once week. Here's the clip that made me say: "I really gotta go watch this show."
In a totally unrelated serch on my computer this morning to my Apple post yesterday, I stumbled across another Superbowl ad that also blew me away. Probelm is most critics hated it and even Sony didn't know what to do with it. Critics wondered what was it that Sony was really selling; music or blowing a wad of money to go into space. For me it was obvious..their brand, their products, their experinece. But alas, after the SB the ad was hardly ever seen again. Personally, the ad gave me chills, still does. I'll never get to what this guy did but if I had $20 million this is how I would spend it.
The backgorund on this spot is here:
I'll upload the video as soon as I figure out how. Okay...here's the spot...sorry for the delay. This link will send you to Vimeo. The spot is also on YouTube but the quality sucks and it has been edited. For the full spot go here and be sure to turn you speakers UP! The music is outstanding!!!
So I may not need $20 mil to get to space like I thought. Just found this:
Anyone got a spare $200,000 they can lend me? I swear I'm good for it.
BTW, for those interested in the next big space thing. NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is scheduled to land on the red planet on August 5th at 10:31 PM PST. Google "7 minutes of Terror" to learn how unique and risky this landing will be.
So, I titled this entry Apple is God mostly just to get you to read on... please take no offense as none is meant. I actually kinda believe it because it seems these folks just keep making miracle after miracle but I'm also inclined to flip on a moments notice, so perhaps tomorrow I will have a new God flavor, but for now let's talk Apple.
Back in 1987, perhaps before some of you had even started school, I bought my first Mac. Veiwed then by many as an overpriced toy (myself included, but it was just so cool I borrowed $5,000 for the purchase) I quickly came to realize my Mac was a magic machine. BTW, my first Mac was called a Fat Mac or Mac Plus because it came with a whopping 1 MB of Ram. Laughable now, but it was awesome then. Three years prior to my purchase, and who knows, I was likely influenced by this, Apple, during the 1984 Suberbowl, ran one of the most amazing commercials I had ever seen.
After it faded to black, I remember sitting dumbfounded by what I had just seen and knew then that Apple was destined to become a great company. Of course, there were ups and downs for the company, but they have certainly, IMHO, changed the world and the world of computing. But again, I digress as this is not meant to be my soapbox about Apple but rather to share a story about advertising.
Many of you have probally seen or heard about Apple's 1984 commercial but unless you have read the Steve Jobs biography or are an Apple addict such as yours truly, then you may not know this classic back story about how the iconic 1984 spot almost never was.
Here's a link - I hope you'll take a moment to read and watch. It may just empower you to stand up for a campaign or some other marketing you believe in the next time someone (your boss?) tells you it won't work. This is truly Off the Wall Marketing that REALLY worked!
Ooooops sorry...the link above is another classic story about Apple...feel free to read but here is where I meant to send you:
What a bummer ...Ray Bradbury has passed. I had the priviledge to meet him and hear him speak when I was in college. He was exceptional and he signed a book for me; to this day still one of my most cherrished possessions.
Ray more than most understood just how fragile our rights like freedom of speech and freedom to assemble are, and that they must always be protected. If you have never read 451 Fahrenheit, buy it today at lunch and do so. Even if you've never liked science fiction, as a marketer this book should interest you.
Thanks Ray for helping to open my eyes to what could be possible. RIP
Okay, so many of you know that years ago I produced a piece called Pimp Your Auto Loan. We got some flack from members and a few women here also did not care for the piece, but ironically it was the most sucessful promo in our history...we still haven't beaten its totals and that piece ran back in 2007!
Today however, I think I need to hand over the crown to another credit union for running what will surely be considered the most controversial piece in CU marketing EVER. For the record, I don't think I would have the guts to run this, but on the other hand,we (Firstent) make boob loans all the time...gee go figure, we are in Hollywood after all. And boob surgury is legal so why shouldn't we market the loan? Also for the record, both the CEO and marketer at this CU (see links below) are women, or so I have been told.
What's the differance between low self asteem from bad/crooked teeth and low self esteem from a less than desirable bust line? I don't have the answer, just posing the question. Anyway, check out these links to see what all the bru ha-ha is on Capitol Hill today. It's certainly not politics as usual!
Man, I really should be working rather than doing this, but I just have to say something about this.... Are they out of their freakin minds! ? I just pulled this off of Bloomberg:
PepsiCo Inc. (PEP), which just unveiled a “Live for Now” marketing campaign to revive its flagship Pepsi-Cola, is looking to a dead pop star -- Michael Jackson -- to generate buzz.
The world’s second-largest soft-drink maker will plaster Jackson’s image on 1 billion Pepsi cans in 20 countries, starting in China on May 5, Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo said in a statement. A deal with the estate of Jackson, who died of a drug overdose in 2009, will include music, live events and merchandise to flog Pepsi-Cola, which has lost market share to Coca-Cola.
Okay, so I admit it, perhaps I'm a little bias as I haven't been a MJ fan since I was 7 when I sort of dug the grove of the Jackson 5 signing ABC. But in the 70s I became a classic/hard rocker (go figure), so other than the exceptional Steve Lukether riff (Toto lead guitarist) on Beat it, I think his music sucks. But to each his/her own, I always say.
But seriously he's dead! Why use a dead man who obviuosly had a serious issue with hard core drugs to sell your soft drink? And let's not forget his fondness for children, especially tween age boys. Remember this is the guy who said he saw absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping in the same bed with one of his young house guests. Seriously???
On the other hand, I am a personal proponent of the theory that sex sells so perhaps the smart folks at Pepsi figure, why not? But, seriously? This is just like when Coke messed with the original 100 year old formula, and launched Coke New or whatever the crap they called it...remember that? The guy who headed up that boondoogle sure does cause he doesn't work for Coke no more, LOL. Wait, I've got it...he's now at Pepsi!
So what do you think? Is this really stupid or really brilliant? And if you say brilliant you better say why cause I know where you live. LOL, J/K
Yesterday, today and perhaps for the entire month I will mourn the lost of Steve Jobs, Co-founder and visionary of Apple who passed away last night. I would not presume to speak for any of you, but for me, his company and his computers changed my life and my career. I got my first Mac in 1987 and can still remember shaking as I unpacked this very expensive "toy." I didn't use it a lot for the first three years but when I interveiwed at FE I realized I it could help me land the job. After my first interveiw, it was obvious I was not going to get a call back unless I made it happen, so I went home, laid out their newletter (well, the front page anyway) on my Mac, had a hi-rez print out made and then delivered back to the CU with a letter stating how if they hired me, I could produce the newsletter in-house and save them a bunch of money. And, as luck would have i,t they were impressed and I got the job. It was a big time bluff to be sure; I would not have wanted to layout the entire newsletter each quarter on my 9 inch screen, but it got me in and the rest is history. Winthin six months on the job, I converted the Marketing department to all Macs and today we regularily save 10s of thousands of dollars annually with in-house design of everything from flyers and disclosures to direct mail campaigns.
People use to say Mac would never replace Win-Doz and perhaps that is true, but today Apple, by market capitalization, is the largest company in America. That's right, bigger than Microsoft and Exxon. And they are sitting on some $76 Billion in cash. Only they know what they will do with all that $, but I think Steve set the company up for many, many years of even more spectacular computer innovations.
Thank you Steve for Thinking Differently and always going against convention even when everyone told you it wouldn't work. RIP Steve, 1955 - 2011.
Okay, call me really, really late to the party, but if you haven't already seen the HBO film Too Big to Fail, you need to!
If you've ever wondered just how close the U.S. came to financial ruin in the Fall of 2008 when the market was in free fall and Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch and others were going under you must watch Too Big to Fail.
Yes it has a somewhat liberal slant and goes a little easy on the Dems, but it does show how deeply in bed all of Washington is with big banking. According to the end of the film, today just 10 banks control 77% of all U.S. assets...kinda scary if you ask me.
And this morning I stumbled across this...Scary to think that this guys exit interview as the President of the FRB Kansas City sort of speaks to some of the stuff in the movie. It's a fascinating read if you are so inclined. And one last link..not sure if I posted this before so if so, chalk it up to a senior moment. (The link below has nothing to do with the intervewi that follows....it's just really cool and explains the credit crisis in a very simple way.)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ‹ Thomas Hoenig, the president of the Federal Reserve
Bank of Kansas City, one of the most outspoken members of the Federal Open
Market Committee, has never been shy when it comes to his opinion.
As his 20-year tenure comes to a close on Oct. 1, Hoenig sat down with
American Banker to talk about a range of topics, including the missed
opportunity to eliminate 'too big to fail' in Dodd-Frank, his duty to be
forthright as the longest serving policy maker, and what his future plans
might be ‹ including the prospect of moving to Washington. This is an
abridged edited version of the interview with Hoenig.
Q: You've been a strong critic of Dodd-Frank, how do you think the law has
fallen short and how do we correct it?
HOENIG: The Dodd-Frank bill now defines what a systemically important
financial institution is, which makes it now a kind of broad notice that
these are the institutions that are 'too big to fail.' That means we will
further concentrate our financial system to these powerful few companies,
and therefore make it even more fragile in the sense of financial
vulnerability to the taxpayer. I don't think that's healthy.
Q: Banks seem very concerned about how much capital they are going to have
to raise as a result of Dodd-Frank and Basel III.
HOENIG: They're concerned about their return on equity, and I'm concerned
about the safety of the banking system and the American depositor and
taxpayer. All the safety net has done is allowed them to leverage up to
their advantage on the backs of the American taxpayer. I have a hard time
as a person, who is more concerned about the safety of the system and the
taxpayer, to worry about their position.
Q: You've said the only solution is to break up the banks and strengthen
the 'Volcker Rule.' Would that undo the codification of 'too big to fail'?
HOENIG: You can mitigate. You can make it less likely that they are 'too
big to fail' because you separate out these horribly, complex instruments from
the institution, therefore you can address the risk in those institutions
Q: Did Dodd-Frank make the financial system any safer?
HOENIG: I don't see it as more safe. I see it as less safe. My question
is,How is it more safe? What's now making it more safe? Supervision? We had
supervision. Capital? We had capital. Resolution? We had resolution.
What's different about this? Complexity, less complexity? No. Better capital
standards? Marginally, temporarily. What's better about it? You have to be
able to tell someone what's better about it.
Q: You have said before it's inevitable we will have another crisis. What
do you see as the next pockets of systemic risk?
HOENIG: You've got people who are in high regulatory positions today. You
have legislators that are in key positions today talking about competitive
disadvantage with other parts of the world. Therefore, we have to ease up
on our rules, because we may be at a disadvantage. These institutions might
go overseas. I only wish we worried about manufacturing the way we do with
these financial institutions. We are already backing off our standards.
Q: Given what we know and what you've been through during the last
financial crisis, will regulators be able to catch the next crisis, whether its
five, 10, 15 years down the road?
HOENIG: It would be the first time in history. I would be very, very
Q: What's the problem?
HOENIG: Look it, I've got a crystal ball on my desk. It doesn't work. I
can't predict the future. I can say I see the risk. I see the conditions
in place. Zero interest rates, a very extensive easing of monetary policy, I
can see that and those create conditions for credit bubbles. Now, it
doesn't mean you are going to have a credit bubble, but they create the
conditions. But everyone says, 'I don't see it, so therefore don't interfere with it.'
Then the crash comes. No one wants to believe there is a systemic problem,
so therefore there is no systemic problem until there is, and that's human
nature. You can put all the systemic risk commissions in the world in
place, they're human beings.
Q: Given that, what should regulators be focused on?
HOENIG: What regulators should do is regulate, supervise. I'm sorry; I'm
not a strong stress test guy. I'm an examiner guy. I want to go in and look at
the books. I want to test their systems. I will tell you on Basel III,
Basel II you cannot rely on the institution to tell you the truth. Because when
things get tough, when the market starts to fall, they can't because it
puts them out of business. That's why you have examiners. You have to go in and
say, 'I want to crack the books. I want to follow this loan. I want to
verify the collateral, the quality of the collateral. I want to test it.'
Q: Do you think regulators had their hands off the wheel when it came to
supervision ahead of the crisis?
HOENIG: I think they were operating under the misperception that they
could judge risk by looking at process and procedures from a distance rather
than hands on.
Q: Does Dodd-Frank put the pressure on regulators to provide tougher
HOENIG: That's the irony. Yes, it does. Yet that's one of the backlashes.
Bankers are saying, and legislators are saying, over and over again, that
the examiners Š over reacted. They're too tough. There's no forbearance.
There's no understanding. There in lies part of the issue. If the loan is
a bad loan, it is a bad loan. I can't make it good for you. What they really
want is time to see if they'll turn around, and I understand that. But
when things go bad, then the examiner, the supervisor is chastised for not
being tough enough as we were for the time leading up to the crisis. As a mentor
of mine said, 'You're in a business where there are no successes, there
are only failures.'
Q: Who said that?
HOENIG: Bill Taylor. [former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corp. and general counsel of the Federal Reserve Board]
Q: What will it mean for the future of the banking landscape if the
economy does not recover as robustly as we hope?
HOENIG: The greatest threat to the banking system is concentration in
banking in this country. It's not the economy itself; it's the fact that
we have fewer and fewer banks allocating resources in this country. Even as
late as the 1980s, you had as many as 14,000 banks in every community.
Now, we have 6,500 and it's shrinking. (Roy comment: Sounds a lot like the shrinking CU universe, doesn't it??)
Q: On the dividend issue, banks appear to be in a tough spot in wanting to
make capital distributions to demonstrate to their market signs of health.
HOENIG: Paying out your earnings is a sign of health? It's a subterfuge.
Strong banks can pay dividends. Strong companies pay dividends. If they're
strong and have capital, fine. But 4% capital is not strong. 5% capital is
not strong. 6% capital is not strong. 8% is marginal in my opinion based
on history. So, why should they pay dividends until they get their capital
where it should be? I'm the taxpayer; I don't want to pick up their
Q: Does the Fed's stress test impact the market, and perhaps create some
HOENIG: The only way it would create any volatility is if the companies
can't pass the stress test. If they can pass it, what's the problem? They
should be celebrating.
Q: How far has the Fed come in providing transparency to the market?
HOENIG: I think we have gotten better, and I think we need to get better
still. But, and I think the best way to do that, and this is because I
have a bias, is to allow dissent among members of the committee. I think that
would actually bring confidence to the market. The Supreme Court has 5-4
decisions all the time. It's healthy. We should have the same thing. I
think it would inform the pubic as to what the issues are and what the different
Q: You've been depicted as key dissenter on the Federal Open Market
Committee, having dissented eight times. Are you comfortable with that
characterization that's been now associated with your role as Fed
HOENIG: That's what I'm there for. I'm not there to validate someone else.
I'm there to vote my conscience based on the facts that I know and the
experience, which I might say, is extensive. So why shouldn't I vote my
views? My duty is to the country, my duty is to the people, and I'm going
to carry out my duty.
Q: Are community banks in for a bumpy ride as a result of Dodd-Frank
despite lawmakers' attempts to preserve them?
HOENIG: Yes, they are. It's unavoidable. It's a complicated piece of
legislation with many, many, many parts. It's a training challenge for our
examiners; therefore it will be challenge for the bankers. The community
banks don't have a cast of lawyers. They have to deal with this, and they
have to get through it. It will encourage exit from the industry, and
therefore encourage further concentration of resources.
Q: You have some strong points of view on interchange. Tell me more about
HOENIG: We've gone to a regulated price, which is absolutely not going to
work. Because whenever you regulate prices you game it. Who knows what the
right price is? That's beyond our skills. That's what markets are all
about. That's why we believe in markets in this country, and yet we are
abandoning the market. The alternative is for the Federal Reserve structure ‹ not the
Board of Governors, but the 12 banks ‹ to continue to be part of the
payments system as they are in checks. Instead of requiring mandatory
price controls, you say debit cards have to be decoupled so you can pick any
exchange that is a merchant can go across Visa, can go across MasterCard,
or can go across the ACH, or some other. The Fed, like it does with checks,
has to recover its costs and return on equity that's comparable to the
industry's moving average
Q: Does the fault lie with Congress in the way it drafted the legislation?
HOENIG: I think it was everyone's fault. I think it was the industry's
fault. I think it was legislator's fault. I think it was the Federal
Q: Do you think there's a chance to work on a proposal that you've
HOENIG: There's always a chance. There's always an opportunity. But that
would be up to the Congress of the United States. Right now, the law is
the law, and we have to follow it.
Q: Any plans to go to Washington?
HOENIG: If the right job is offered.
Q: There happen to be a few openings.
HOENIG: There are quite a few openings, but I'm not sure. I made it very
clear I'm willing to serve. I have quite a lot of experience I can offer.
Q: Do you think you'll write a book?
HOENIG: People have asked me that. We'll see.
Q: That's a yes.
HOENIG: No, no, no I don't know if it would serve a purpose, and I'm
trying to figure out who would read it.
Q: What are you going to miss the most?
HOENIG: Arguing with people. [Laughs] For all of its change and all of its
flaws; it's an institution of integrity. I have strong differences with,
but it's still the best institution, and I've enjoyed every minute of it and I
hope I've contributed to it. I've never held back with those I disagree
Do you all read trade publications? If so, what's your favorite and why? I read at least six that i can think of regularly, but being a Journalism major from back in the day when my high school set type on a Linotype machine (LOL, look that one up if you have no clue what I'm talking about), I'm very partially to the two "news" magazines of our industry, Credit Union Times (CUT) and Credit Union Journal (CUJ).
Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but overall I find that the CUJ takes on the tough news stories that the CUT doesn't seem to want to touch...at least not in a timely manner which is what "news" is all about.
For example, on 12/23, the CUJ's lead daily news item was a dissection of a legal case involving WesCorp. The CUT's lead story: Children's Miracle Network rebranding.
Nothing wrong with CMN and I totally support what CUs do for them via fundraising, but I'm really more interested in substance not fluff.
What's your opinion?
So, I was fairly proud of myself for having a somewhat original idea...I mean much like fashion, everything in financial services marketing has likely been done before we came along (IMHO), but this idea seemed fresh at least...
Like any CU, we are always looking for fresh blood, new members, profit generators, etc. etc. My other attempts with new member drives had produced pretty mediocre results, so I was stuck for an idea late last year on what to do next...I mean the old saws about not-for-profit, members vs. owners and "we have better rates" just wasn't working to get them in the door.
Then it hit me! Everyone in Los Angeles (or so I'm told), is working on a screen play or has an idea for one, or at the very least thinks they can write better than half the Sh#! Hollywood produces right? So why not have a story writing contest that is really just a way to get new members to join!?! Once I get them in the door then I'll cross-sell the crap outta them!
Genius I thought...here's my ticket to Super Stardom! And so we got to work on this sometime in March....
After a lot of back and forth on how to make this campaign work we settled on crafting a cool microsite that encouraged a "writers community" (it will only be live for a few more days)
and some cool print ads too that we ran in lots of entertainment industry pubs like Hollywood Reporter and Variety, plus member only publications for the Writers Guild, Producers Guild etc.. And, we got 3 judges with some decent credentials either in the literary or entertainment world...(Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson was one). Since this was designed to attract new members, we did no branch POS or DM or otherwise told our existing members about it...they could enter if they saw the ad and went to the micro, but we didn't actively pursue...in the beginning.
We launched 8/6 and over the next 60 days I probably spent about $75k on print buys and $10k on 100,000 coffee sleeves. Results were so dismal I finally put it up on our regular site just to make sure I had enough entries to judge...seriously.
At the end of the promo on October 29, we only had about 120 people who had signed up at the site even though we had about 1,000 unique site views. And of those 120 community members, only 44 submitted stories AND only 16 of those were deemed to be written decently enough to forward to the judges; ... even a few of the 16 were a little weak (note to self, consider journal entry discussing how miserably high school English has failed America).
We did get four winners and as fate would have it, a very clever story involving the credit union and our auto buying service, Autoland, was the grand prize winner...so in that case it was a win-win. BUT, from a pure ROI, forget about it! Epic fail. Now to be fair, what I don't know and cannot measure, is what, if any, lift to our presence in the entertainment industry did we get from us doing this promo...certainly it is original, even here in Hollywood. And because we ran some 30 ads, we know it was seen by lots of folks. But at the end of the day, I learned that there really aren't that many wannbe writers in Tinsel Town and/or they are all so fabulously rich that the $2,500 grand prize for a short story just wasn't enough to make it worth there time.
So what's your epic fail story?