Monday, July 28, 2003


This blog has a life of its own and when I don't write for it, I feel its presence. So on this very busy day and as tired as I am, here's a site I think you should go to: It's got great stuff, easy to access and full of common sense. Peace to all.

Alain's Home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

This Is Broken

I've been getting a newsletter from Good Experience for quite and while and now Mark Hurst has developed a great section called "This Is Broken" where he monitors where the customer experience falls apart...and where it actually is fixed. It's a free site where anyone can submit their observations and pictures of the vagaries of the marketplace. Check them out.

Alain's Home.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Crossing a Glacier

In the July 28th issue of Business Week there is an article about leadership and how businesses are looking at practices outside their industry to see what they can learn and adapt to their particular situation. On leadership, the article talked about Erik Weihenmayer, a blind mountaineer who has scaled the seven greatest summits. He obviously has a team to help him do this and I thought this quote hit the mark on what has to happen in business to make it work: "The only way to cross a glacier is on a rope to which your entire team is tied. You either all plunge together or succeed together." What else can be said?

Alain's Home.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Poignant Essay

Strongly recommend the essay, "A Doctor's Duty" by Charles Krauthammer in the July 21st issue of Time about the death of the conjoined Iranian twins who died last week after surgery to separate them. As one who has spent a better part of my life in healthcare, I can tell you that the moral dilemmas are legion in the every day world of surgery and medicine. This essay is so thoroughly well thought out and so insightful. Do read it.

Alain's Home.

Two Excellent Sources

Just got turned on to two new sites and newsletters that give great marketing insights. Trendwatching shares global social and marketing trends...makes you realize that we are indeed a global village regardless of what the religious zealots of all stripes try to deny. And Springwise a sister site that shares new business ideas from around the world. Good sources based out of the Netherlands. Check them out.

Alain's Home.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Sacre Bleu! Ze French Are At It Again!

The French Culture Ministry has banned the word email in all government ministries, documents, websites, etc. Seems like the Froggies don't like this American term and believe their research indicates that the French prefer the term "courriel", which is short for "courrier electronique" (electronic mail). The so-called Americanization of the French language has piqued the Academie Francaise, the final arbiter of what should be part of the French language, for a long time. And another waste of time for the burgeoning French bureaucracy. What will they think of next, those crazy Freedom people? I hope you enjoy la "weekend" y'all.

Alain's Home.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Yikes, I'm No Longer A Hippie Peacenick!

They say the older you get, the more nostalgic you get and what was once the worst moment of your life becomes your shiniest. That the way a lot of veterans get, I believe, since I've got a touch of the bug. Let me explain.

Today, I listened to British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, speak before the U.S. Congress. Since I am an Anglophile (Go figure for a Frenchman!), I love his use of language since he has an eloquence that truly touches the heart and clearly delineates the wheat from the chaff. Yes, there was the usual stuff, but overall he was his usual insightful self, and the English language quite literally lilted for me on the airwaves. I am a Churchill fan and Tony is our generation's.

All to say, that I felt proud to be an American and cheered Tony on, even if I know that words spoken in a political speech are often betrayed. Also, it brought to mind something I saved from Time Magazine, the advertisement for the military, sponsored by TODAY'S MILITARY. It's a composite of stories of "ordinary" Americans who are either reservists or have been active duty and are great examples of success.

I like it! Mainly because I know how important telling a story is in marketing. People have to connect to the product or service in order to be a customer. And this series works. We identify with these people. They are us! Our neighbors. Our doctors. Our Everyman. It made this old hippie, former reluctant "warrior", and now businessman/consultant with a suit proud. Simply from the marketing and communications point of view it works. From the nostalgic point of view, it connected with me because it made me realize that the skills I learned in the Air Force and in Vietnam have actually served me well as I grew through my life. And that's the lesson for today. Good advertising connects, emotes, encourages, builds and rejoices. Remember that when you think you've got the cat's meow in your concept...let your heart guide.

Thanks for listening. I am humbly signing off. Om!

Alain's Home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Uplifting Product Placement

This just in for all NFL football fans. Bayer Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline, have become league sponsors so they can market their new impotence drug Levita, which is expected to receive FDA approval by the end of the year. With 120 million people who watch the NFL, it's sure to creater a harder market for Pfizer to compete in with their winner Viagra. When Viagra came out in 2001, Pfizer spent over $101 million to market it that first year. Made a brand, made people smile again (Gee, do you think it's like all the ads we see about Viagra that have us thinking that way?) and made the cash registers ring to the tune of billions.

With this new drug, Levita, Glaxo spokesman,Michael Fleming, said he expected Pfizer to keep marketing Viagra and added, "But we have a robust and exciting campaign.". No arousing further details were given about the ad campaign.

Say good night, Alain.

Alain's Home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Stick With What You Know

I've been reading about Ford Motor Credit Corporation, one of the few money making operations for Ford. It wasn't always that way but the company hired a guy that had been there all along and he turned it around by sticking with what they know how to do...financing cars and giving good customer service. Imagine that. I often find that organizations want to be all things for all people, when a simple what do you do best is what it's all about.

The Fire's Ready

The new tag line for Burger King also takes it back to what they do best and how they've differentiated themselves from day one. Fire broiled burgers. And the ads are catchy and capturing the true essence of the brand. Best of luck, BK. I like the strength of their message.

Volvo's Billboard

So I'm driving on the 405 north on my way to UCLA and see this billboard by Volvo, showing a convertible, with the wind blowing through the driver's hair (on that alone, I'm envious) and a simple headline: "Tan Safely." Very clever and keys on the consistent branding strategy of safety, while allowing us mortals a chance to let our hair down and into the wind. Excellent example of creativity and simplicity.

Alain's Home.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Entrepeneurs Are Alive and Well!

Hurray for all the energy small business owners put into their businesses! It's heartening since I've just returned from the Orange County Fair, where every type of vendor had a booth. I watched and listened to their pitches, how they came across, the way their space was conducive to good communications and marketing, etc. But tired and will reflect on this at least overnight. Lots to assimilate and lots to share. Have a great weekend.

Alain's Home.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Coming Soon To Your Mailbox

More junk mail is headed your way, folks. All from the same interruption marketing guys who are now about to be blocked from calling you. An article on CNNMoney indicates that direct mail and more spam is where marketers are going to go once the do-not-call list is up and running. Mrs. is an ad rep for our local rag sheet and it means that advertising in the paper will also go up....hey, on that count it means more commissions. Hurray! See there is a silver lining in every cloud. And so this marketer is not singing the blues.

Digital Mischief

An article on about camera phones and the variation of uses, mainly how people, mostly in Asia (Japan and South Korea) are using these to take photos up women's skirts. Others are taking pictures of women in bathrooms, Please! In Japan, these camera-phones have been banned in public bath houses. Duh!

In South Korea Samsung Electronics has banned the use of these cameras in their facilities to stop industrial espionage. Other uses include taking photos of pages of books or magazines without buying them.

In China, a teenager was raped by a man who photographed her in the nude with a camera-phone and threatened to disseminate the picture if she told authorities about the rape.

As products are designed for our new age, there will always be those who abuse them.

Alain's Home.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Flyers & Door Hangers

I live in an area of Southern California that has a red hot real estate market. And with it comes a rain storm of door hangers and flyers. Everytime a realtor sells a house in my area, we get a flyer touting the sale and what the person could do for us. We also get refi, yard work, magazine subscriptions, windshield repair, security systems, pizza offerings (the most valuable in a pinch) and today a dog walking service. Along with telemarketers (alas they're still hard at work) I counted that I was marketed to an average of 6 times in the course of a single day at world headquarters each day last week. That's a lot of effort.

All to say, that marketing is an ongoing process. No wonder there is such clutter. I asked one of the yard work people if this type of marketing works and guess what he said? "Yes." Of course it works because everyone around here is in a total state of flux, upgrading their houses and yards while they have to commute a zillion miles into LA or San Diego or Orange County and don't have time to do it themselves and since they're new to the community don't yet have established their network. So even the little things work if you know your market, and they don't have to cost much to give you a good return on investment. Night all.

Alain's Home.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Please Call List

Thanks to a friend for proposing a federal please call list. His idea is that it would only take one GS-2 employee with a ball point and a 3 x 5 card...would that person be like the lonely Maytag repairman? You think? All for today.

Alain's Home.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Food For Thought

As one who has had to weather the imperial attitudes of many MBAs and strategy consultants who came to the organizations I worked for, I always told myself that if I ever "consulted" (usually a euphemism for someone who has been laid off and looking for work) I would never be so haughty to think I know it all. The value of consulting is that you learn with each client and each situation...even if you've done that, been there before. All to share with you an article that warmed the cockles of my heart (where are the cockles anyway?) The May 26 issue of Fortune had an article entitled "The Incredible Shrinking Consultant" where the author discussed the changes that the strategy firms McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group have to make in order to have crediblity and value in the marketplace.

I remember one consulting firm which came to my last healthcare organization where I was a regional VP of marketing to discuss what we on the inside already knew. They were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for very little substance. When the "team" came to present to us their methodology and game plan, I went to the "team leader" to present him with a marketing overview and offer to give my assistancee. He told me right there and then, "If we need to talk with you we'll call you." Naive me. Case closed. No call ever came. And nothing came of the strategy either. It has done my heart good to know that this particular firm has been ravaged by scandal...I know, revenge is not supposed to feel this good.

That's not to say that all MBAs or consultants are bad after all "I are one!" And I have had some incredibly smart people in my classes who have MBAs and other graduate degrees who clearly understood that an education is only the beginning not the end all. Humility is indeed a virtue in the consulting field as it helps one respect the client's dignity. So back to the article. One quote says it all for me: "One CEO calls strategy consultants a bunch of 'beefed up MBAs with big egos who charge a lot to tell executives what they should already know.'" I agree. I'll leave you with this final thought: An old adage says that consultants tell you the time with your watch. Does anyone know the time?


Latest report is that the feds' do-not-call list has had 10 million registrants in the first four days. What a strong message to the interruption marketing we all get!

Alain's Home.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

No Where To Hide

No where to run....Remember that song? It came to mind as I read an article in my local rag sheet about soft drink lids holding a pop singer's CD and popcorn tubs having "Hulk" television pilot CDs glued to the bottom. Ah, marketers! We certainly don't lack imagination! This is an agreement between Regal Entertainment Group and a marketing company, Convex, of Atlanta. The CD of singer Rachel Harris---never heard of her, thus the promotion obviously---is also positioned with a three minute clip of the singer performing as part of the trailers prior to the main feature also reminding you to look for more when you pause to refresh.

There truly is no where to hide...We are marketed forwards and backwards. While marketing is my religion (it is still Sunday after all) the extremes marketers will go to break through the clutter is at times mind boggling. With new technology no telling where it will happen next. Would you like extra butter with your CD? Signing off from a long weekend. I remain

Alain's Home.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Happy Birthday USA

As an immigrant---so-called "Freedom" American---I am off to the stereotypical barbeque and fireworks show. Enjoy!

Alain's Home.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Cell Phone Limbo

Verizon is now going to let people walk away with their cell phone number and go to a competitor. They currently have 25% of the market and this announcement is going to be a great marketing ploy...while the other providers fight it all the way. I can relate as I'm with a small company and locked in for another 6 months, and would love to leave with my cell number as it's really my business line. The lesson here is that it's really about portability and customer satisfaction. We live in a competitive world and every little edge in differentiation is vital. Companies that fight what the customer want lose out. It's about staying in tune with the times.

File Sharing Limbo

Remember the "Limbo Rock" a popular song in the 60s? One verse was, "How low can you go?" Well, the music producers have gone about as low as they can go with the potential lawsuits of those who "file share" music. Talk about biting the hand. Is it stealing as they imply? Or is there another way to counter this? Senator Orrin Hatch has hatched another idea...anyone file sharing would have his hard drive burn up. It's like destroying the village in order to save it syndrome. Stay tune to this one.

Overweight Blues

Anyone who has read these pages knows my feelings about McDonalds, but let's get real here, folks. With lawyers circling the food industry like vultures over a dying man, we're now facing lawsuits for people's lack of responsibility by overeating and eating fatty, sugar-laden foods. Whose fault is that? So Kraft has taken the first step by stating yesterday that they would make their products less salty, less fatty, less sweet in order to help those who cannot help themselves...and potentially mitigate the upcoming lawsuits. It never ends how lawyers want to manage our lives from helmets for bike riders to blaming the fast food industry for fat people. Just drop that burger, sir, and walk away slowly from the table and no one gets hurt. Amazing how risk free we want to make the world at the same time we're fighting terrorism on all fronts. Enough already!

Alain's Home.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Email Address

Experiment. I cannot ever seem to be able to place a hot link email address so here goes:


I don't usually endorse a product or service, but there are exceptions to the rules in life and this is one of them. I have been using GoDaddy as my domain registrar for quite a while now and I must admit they make it so damn easy and cost effective to use. To boot, they also work to develop a "relationship" with their clients. Their newsletter is helpful and shows marketing instinct in that it indicates that they are listening to their customers and are always innovative in finding ways for them to better manage their domains. Additionally, they offer many low-cost services including website development that are perfect for the neophyte.

Besides, the Big Daddy of GoDaddy is a Vietnam Vet as am I so I'm rooting for his continued success. Go to and you'll see what I mean. Thanks for listening. I'll keep the light on for you.

Alain's Home.