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More Bad Bzz for BzzAgent

There’s been a lot of BzzAgent hatin’ lately, so I’ll try to bring something new to this conversation.

Folgers_home_cafe_1Have you been following the Folgers Home Café hubbub on the BzzAgent Blog?

If not, I encourage you to read the thread as it is fascinating to hear stories from BzzAgents and their experiences with a rumored-to-be faulty coffeemaker manufactured by Black & Decker but associated directly with Folgers.

A little background is needed. Folgers has signed up with BzzAgent to generate word-of-mouth for their Home Café brewing machines which use pods to brew single-servings of coffee. BzzAgent then sent a Home Café machine, coffee pods, and a BzzGuide to targeted BzzAgents. BzzAgents are to read the BzzGuide, brew some coffee, and then talk about the virtues of the Home Café machine with whoever will listen.

However, this BzzCampaign has not gone smoothly as many BzzAgents are not happy with the performance of their Home Café machine.

On the BzzAgent blog, BzzAgents tell stories of how the Home Café machine leaks water, emits smoke, and brews lukewarm coffee. Some even share that they’ve returned their Home Café machine to Wal-Mart for store credits of over $50. And, some of those who have returned their machines for store credit are fake buzzing the Home Café machine.

Ouch! I am quickly losing what respect and trust I have left for BzzAgent, the company, and for the word-of-mouth pilgrims known as BzzAgents. How could BzzAgent endorse a product wrought with so many issues? And, does a company really want freebie-lovin’ and cherry pickin’ customers (i.e. BzzAgents) to be their so-called evangelists.

As a marketer, I would exhaust all efforts to create ‘genuine’ buzz using the Creating Customer Evangelists playbook before going the BzzAgent route to create word-of-mouth.

However, to BzzAgent’s credit, this is all playing out in a very transparent way on the BzzAgent Blog.

50 Comments

  • hugh macleod says:

    “Transparent” does not equal “Not Lame”.There’s only one way to make great coffee: Buy great coffee, then add boiling water.Sticking some tired-ass Folger brand onto a piece of Made-in-China-Walmart-hideousness does not make great coffee.And no wannabe-marketeering-hipster-no-life-postmodern screwball is going to change that.

  • Very true Hugh. And have you seen the super-slick HomeCafe.com website? It is classic example of marketing that makes up a story and does not tell the story.Attention Folger’s Marketing Department … If you have to say it’s ‘authentic’ then it’s probably inauthentic. Dig?

  • Dave Balter says:

    John –Thanks for posting about BzzAgent on your blog. I always appreciate your honest take and perspective on things. I thought I’d take a moment to address your thoughts.First and foremost, BzzAgent is a business. I think most folks are aware that our model is intended to help companies capture Word of Mouth, engage consumers more directly and ultimately understand how individuals are communicating. While we make many choices about which clients to take and which to pass on, it’s true that we are in the business of being a business.With that said, we painstakingly decide which clients, products and services are worth taking on. This is a process that includes many checks and balances. When a client approaches us, the first thing we do is try the product internally. As we often say, we can’t help a product that isn’t “inherently good”. It has to resonate with someone. Not everyone, and sometimes very few, but it has to do what it says it does and be what it claims to be.If a number of internal people at BzzAgent consider a product worthy of a campaign, we start the process of external analysis. We research product facts, we look at competitors, we identify communities of passionate (and non-passionate) consumers and we gather data from the BzzAgent community. If our criteria are met, we finally spend the time to apply our internal expertise. We build a model of how people actually communicate about the product. We look at how our staff communicated about it with others. We identify what makes it worth talking about. Ultimately, we look for why this product is worth sharing with others.At this point, we make a business decision. Do we take on the client? In the case of Home Cafe, the product met our criteria on a number of levels and we moved forward. We had seen some negative reviews of the product, as well as plenty of positive reviews – but this can actually be a good sign, as people feeling strongly about a product’s attributes will create evangelists and detractors alike. In none of our research did we find anything about the Home Cafe system performing poorly.When we first heard about potential product issues after campaign launch, we were deeply concerned. We immediately reached out to the BzzAgents to help identify exactly where the problems were occurring. Note that very few agents experienced issues – there are thousands of Home Cafe Agents and most are extremely happy. More importantly, both Home Cafe and Black & Decker have been very responsive to any concerns, and have set up a system to communicate with the BzzAgents who believe their product isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Which is exactly the point of BzzAgent! We’re about helping companies communicate with their consumers better. About co-creation of experiences and allowing consumers to be part of the process. Unfortunately, products aren’t always perfect. If you look deep enough, you can find an issue with just about any product that’s on market. But the important (and meaningful) part is when a company works with their consumers to fix it.Finally, a side note about BzzAgents who are stating that they are returning their systems for money. You can be sure that we are noting this as well. We have a very detailed Agent Management System (AME…or internally known as “pest control”), with full systems set up to identify and manage individuals who are seeking to take advantage of the opportunity we are giving them.Every BzzAgent has a credibility rating, which is comprised of their reporting behavior as well as their behavior outside of our system. We monitor this in real time, and when an Agent is flagged, they are never offered another campaign, and are removed from our system. While there will always be a few bad apples, it doesn’t take us long to find and remove them so they don’t rot the whole barrel.Hope this helps clarify the situation.Dave BalterFounder, PresidentBzzAgent

  • Patrick says:

    “There’s only one way to make great coffee: Buy great coffee, then add boiling water.”Not.http://www.toddycafe.com/But it’s way too simple for most Americans . . .

  • Dave … firstly, thanks for being open to constructive feedback from me and from others adding their voice on this blog. Secondly, I personally appreciate you taking the time to respond with your voice on the issues we have addressed with BzzAgent. Thirdly, I hope you recognize that my diatribes on marketing matters involving BzzAgent is a reflection of my passion for marketing and should not be interpreted as blogging missives from an evil-minded marketing gadfly. As Iceberg Slim once said, “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.” Dig?With that said, my fear is that buzz marketing that borders on being stealth marketing will make it more difficult for meaningful marketers to incite organic word-of-mouth. As modern marketers we decry top-down marketing and propagate bottom-up marketing. However, we still crave control over the customers we target. The more trust we lose with customers and evangelists today means we, as marketers, will be more challenged to genuinely and meaningfully influence consumer behavior tomorrow.Buzz marketing that borders on stealth marketing whittles away at marketing’s integrity. And, making up bzz-able stories about unremarkable products like the Johnston & Murphy Lite Shoe Collection and the Home Café also whittles away at marketing’s integrity. This loss of integrity equates to a loss of trust which will make it the ever more difficult for marketers to engage in meaningful marketing.I understand that for a business to stay in business it needs to appeal to customers and businesses alike … and that is why you are selective in choosing the products you Bzz. However, if you have to go through all that process to determine the remarkability of a product, then maybe the product really isn’t remarkable enough to buzz.Seriously … should it take a ten-step process to determine whether or not a product is unique enough to buzz?It is my contention that BzzAgent is not in the word-of-mouth business, but rather the maven-making business. BzzAgent puts new products in the hands of maven wannabes … these are consumers who want to be in-the-know and be the first-to-know, but don’t know how to be in-the-know and/or don’t want to be the last-to-know. (You know?) BzzAgent fills this in-the-know/not in-the-know void wonderfully well. In its current system, BzzAgent is better suited to be in the maven-making business than in the word-of-mouth making business.But … once BzzAgent begins to target and encourage current users of products to speak openly, freely, and enthusiastically with others, then BzzAgent will be better positioned to be in the meaningful marketing business of word-of-mouth. Double dig?Again Dave … thanks for listening.

  • Yo Todd, cold brewing does produce a flavorful cup of coffee. But man … who can wait 12 hours for it to brew?Yep, it takes around 12 hours to cold brew a batch of coffee.But … this Toddy Cold Brew system is truly a buzz worthy product.

  • hugh macleod says:

    “We’re about helping companies communicate with their consumers better.”I don’t believe Folger’s or Black & Decker want to communicate with the people who buy this product. They just want their money. Communication is just a means to an end; one they’d rather not have to deal with.I don’t believe this because I don’t believe they actually care that much about coffee. They care about “The Folger’s Brand” and selling cheap manufactured goods at a profit.But yeah, BzzAgents is a business, and they have a right to try to make a buck.But that’s always been the trouble with advertising. The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.

  • Hugh did it again … You did it again. You said something bitingly succinctly brilliant.The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.- hugh macleod -Damn I wish I had said that.

  • gapingvoid says:

    permanently unemployed etc.“But that’s always been the trouble with advertising. The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”-Me, basically making sure no ad agency will ever want to hire me ever again….

  • gapingvoid says:

    permanently unemployed etc.“But that’s always been the trouble with advertising. The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”-Me, basically making sure no ad agency will ever want to hire me ever again….

  • gapingvoid says:

    permanently unemployed etc.“But that’s always been the trouble with advertising. The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”-Me, basically making sure no ad agency will ever want to hire me again….

  • gapingvoid says:

    the trouble with advertising“But that’s always been the trouble with advertising. The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”-Me, basically shooting my mouth off again at the usual suspects….

  • Johnnie,Nicely said: “It is my contention that BzzAgent is not in the word-of-mouth business, but rather the maven-making business.”Hugh,Nicely said: “I don’t believe Folger’s or Black & Decker want to communicate with the people who buy this product. They just want their money. Communication is just a means to an end; one they’d rather not have to deal with.”This whole theme of word-of-mouth connectivity between customers and companies wanting to communicate with customers is a ruse. Companies want customers to shut up and buy what they want to sell them. If necessary, they’ll talk with them, preferably in a store. Having customers too close makes companies uncomfortable because they have to figure out what to do with what customers say, and they’re not real good at that.Meanwhile, we create companies that create fake-advocates for mediocre products as a way of convincing people that the products are terrific. How many times do you think the rats are going to eat that poison before they either stop eating it, or mutate?

  • I’m a BzzAgent, so my experience is that most times I post something in defense of BzzAgent, it seems to get blown out of proportion — so my positive experience with the product in question aside (no leaks or fires here, and I’ve found Maxwell House pods taste much better than Folgers pods) I just wanted to remind folks that the comments section of the BzzBlog is ANONYMOUS.With the extreme sides being taken in this little marketing drama, who’s to say the wildest claims are coming from the *actual* BzzAgents?Jason Calacanis’ weblog has already accused people of spamming with a message about his efforts to formalize blog ethics, and it directly mentioned BzzAgent in the fraudulent comment spam claming to be from Calacanis — it could be the same weasels at work.

  • Taking the Buzz Out of BzzJohnnie Moore (at Brand Autopsy) takes some serious slaps at Bzz Agent. Hugh joins in with a couple of comments as well. As do I. What’s interesting is that Dave Balter, BzzAgent’s Founder and President, joins in the comment conversation

  • How Can I Trust Anything I Hear About Seth Godin? Or Anyone Else?Yes, it’s time for another “I hate BzzAgents” rant. I just learned that the last two books written by Seth Godin have been marketed by the evil BzzAgent machinery. This is kind of a funny, Catch-22, recursive, ouroborosian sort

  • Anonymous says:

    Don writes:”With the extreme sides being taken in this little marketing drama, who’s to say the wildest claims are coming from the *actual* BzzAgents?”On the other hand Don, given that the Bzzagency is an astroturf factory, isn’t it a lot more likely that the glowing good buzz is coming from shills, rather than the bad buzz?Here’s one of the ringing endorsements from a buzzagent defending the product.”It’s not the greatest coffeemaker I’ve ever owned – the case seems a bit fragile, the coffee isn’t hot enough, isn’t strong enough, and does seem to have an aftertaste — but that doesn’t make it dangerous “How much Kool-Aid can one man drink? Dave aims to find out!

  • Nice comments from all.I think John Moore hits the nail on the head in saying that BzzAgent is in the maven-making business. As a result a network of mavens is created that test, try and evangelize products.I signed up because I thought it’d be neat to try stuff… and if I liked them enough – to share my thoughts… I’m a maven wanna-be.

  • tijs.org says:

    Bzzagents almost bustLuckily bad (and and totally fucking creepy), ideas have a tendency to blow up in your face.

  • laraelo says:

    I’m not a “wannabe” anything. I’m a Bzz Agent who is also a consumer. A consumer, mind you, who doesn’t feel that I HAVE TO HAVE the latest gadget or gizmo just because some shlep feels I do. I don’t buy into marketing concepts that foist new products on me with the ideal that I didn’t need it till someone invented it, and then it was a “must-have”. I don’t want marketers TELLING me what they think I should buy as I’ve yet to come across one that knows me better than I do. WOM works great for me and those I know. Even in striking up conversations that are overheard, such as should someone buy a KIA? I’ll give my perspective which will have alot more weight than some generic salesman ever could. Why? Because people that know me trust me, and know I won’t steer them wrong. I get no monetary reward for giving my opinion, but I do get the greatest satisfaction knowing that my input could make or break their decision to buy.It’s one thing to put a product on tv, billboards, radio, mags, newspapers,and internet, if for no other reason than to let the public know it’s available, but, it’s a whole other story when a consumer actually gets to test it, get a feel for it, and rate it. WOM then becomes a company’s biggest marketng asset. Consumers like me can indeed raise a company to new financial heights or bring it to it’s knees. Rather than taking a marketers word for it, we get to see it for ourselves. Guess that would be enough to garner the envy of and cheese anyone off who was being phased out of a job, huh?

  • laraelo says:

    I want to add as well that marketers have done too fine a job of being middleman to manufacturers which is why we as consumers have for too long put up with less than stellar products. Marketers sell, Sell, SELL, even if it’s crap they’re selling. They don’t care what the manufacturer sells as long as the Marketer gets his cut. Marketers are consumers as well, and I’m sure that each one of you has had the unpleasant experience of purchasing something that was of far less quality than you imagined. Then what? There’s no marketer there when the item needs to be returned, no middleman to pave the way to a refund, credit, exchange. No,it’s the consumer that still has to make the contact with the manufacturer. Hopefully Bzz Agent will set a new standard for marketing techniques that brings manufacturers back to the higher quality standards that consumers want and expect. Perhaps it’s time manufacturers also had their R&D use up a little more grey matter working out the kinks in the machinery before it even hits the market rather than trying to beat out the competition in haste for new item of the week. Is the goal just to make money or to make a great quality product that will garner even more money, as well as consumer confidence in the manufacturer? Consumer feedback could save a company millions, and WOV works, much to some people’s dismay.

  • Andrew says:

    The thing I love most about word of mouth marketing, and in particular companies like BzzAgent, is that it brings some accountability to the manufacturer of the product. Anyone can take some glossy photos of a crappy coffee maker and launch a 10 million dollar ad campaign that shows up on every street corner. But a company like BzzAgent (although they clearly take the fall in some cases) does a great service to consumers by getting real products out to real people for real honest feedback. Don’t blame the viral marketing company because the BzzAgents staged their own mini Boston Coffee Party. Blame Black and Decker for producing an inferior product and Folgers for blindly getting behind it. In the interest of full disclosure, I recently became a BzzAgent and look forward to participating in some campaigns and providing honest feedback on the products I get a chance to test and use. Beware traditional marketers. Beware product manufacturers. This will be the future of advertising and marketing, and I look forward to the day when companies like BzzAgent begin to influence a change in the level of quality we see in our every day consumer products.

  • gapingvoid says:

    cool hunters in reverseI’ve been watching the conversation about BzzAgents unfold. The conversation has been particularly meaty here, so far. Sure, a lot of people hate the idea. I am currently unconvinced; but then again, I am unconvinced by most things, including…

  • Laraelo, a number of the points you make are exactly why I have such negative feelings about BzzAgents. You refer to yourself, quite proudly, as a “consumer.” Quite literally, “one who consumes.” You state “Consumers like me can indeed raise a company to new financial heights or bring it to it’s knees.”Therein lies the rub.The companies that need to hire BzzAgent need to manufacture synthetic relationships, in order to get more consumers to consume their wares. As Hugh pointed out, “The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”A company that is passionate about its customers — not consumers — will develop real relationships with them, and understand what is needed (or even desired) to deliver insanely great products to them. They will engage with those customers directly.Like BzzAgents, there is another industry that provides surrogates for real relationships, that are also paid for (oftentimes by the hour). And as long as all parties involved in these synthetic relationships are above board, and understand that what they are involved in is not a real relationship, but a transaction, that’s fine.However, there will always be individuals like the BzzAgent who proudly states “The prizes are nice — I’ve been happily rewarded — but the noticeable influence on the purchases of family, friends, and colleagues is the real reason that I enjoy bee-ing a Bzzagent.”Like a paunchy, pasty, middle-aged suburbanite who goes to “fantasy baseball” camp and thinks that what he’s doing is the real thing, BzzAgent is creating a pale synthetic imitation of something valuable. Buzz created by BzzAgent is the cubic zirconia of marketing.

  • Anonymous writes:>>How much Kool-Aid can one man drink? Dave aims to find out!>>Those comments about the machine are true.It’s NOT the best machine in the world, but it’s still a pretty cool concept and has a lot of positives worth talking about…1. I like the ability to brew a single cup of coffee in under a minute2. I’ve found the taste improves 100% if I use Maxwell House pods instead of Folgers3. I think the design of the machine is visually appealing4. No stained carafes to clean, no spilled grounds to pick-up, no wasted coffee to pour down the sinkI don’t think McDonald’s has the best tasting burgers in the world, but I’ve hit their drive-thru more than a few times in my life because they were quick and convenient. To some minds, Starbucks doesn’t have the greatest tasting coffee in the world (nor the cheapest) but they’ve got a great design, visual appeal, and convenient locations.There are weaknesses and strengths to every product and service. Some are worth talking about and some aren’t. I think there are definitely enough positives regarding the HomeCafe that is can justify legitimate buzz — no Kool-Aid required.There is NO quid pro quo. You don’t have to say anything nice about the product if you don’t like it.If a company gets paid to distribute coffee machines and track the buzz their audience may or may-not generate, I still don’t understand why that seem to rub people the wrong way — unless they believe people are being paid or bribed into lying — which simply isn’t the case.

  • laraelo says:

    Consumer/customer, it equates to the same thing in the end = someone who has paid for a service or goods in exchange for a value, which in most instances is money.Back in the 1800’s, most businesses ran on WOM, and many, many of them were able to grow and prosper. Quality of goods was alot better than it is now. Mass marketing may have increased the ability to “feed” consumer hunger for more, but the “better” part of quality got left in the dust. Personally, I feel it’s because manufacturers got stand-in’s (marketers) which has allowed the manufacturers to shortchange the consumer. No longer are we dealing directly with those who make the products, but rather a middleman who could care two twigs if the item he’s proffering will last after the 30 day warranty expires. In essence, the manufacturing industry has shot itself in the foot. They aren’t hearing the voice of the people. Couple that with outsourcing to other nations whose customer service departments can’t speak english to save their lives, and you’ve got a huge gaping hole in trust consumers have with these manufacturers. It’s time to bring the two together again. I’m glad to see Bzz Agent working to enhance this ability, no matter that it’s for a product (in this particular instance) that some are finding defective. It’s a great thing to see the manufacturer taking the responsibility to work this out with the end users.Consumer/customer…it’s all semantics. We’re one and the same no matter how you word it. Mr. Carfi, I don’t think, after reading your input, that you really have any great angst towards Bzz Agent, but rather the manufacturers who would dare develop that long-forgotten relationship with their “customers”. I also see that you (guessing because you are a marketer and your job is not to tell the truth but to put a spin on it) think that every Bzz Agent out there is probably exaggerating their reports in one extreme or the other. Profound as it may be to your senses, there ARE people on this orb who can indeed give an honest take on their experience without embellishing. I know I don’t have any reason to lie about my reports. If I don’t care for a product, I’ll write my report in that genre, and hand the product off to someone else to try out, and then get their feedback on it after they’ve used it. I get paid for my honesty by being given more opportunities at Bzz Agent. Why steal from the hand that feeds you by corrupting your input? No one would win in that situation.Your job is probably secure until you retire as I don’t see a mass separation of manufacturer/marketer in the near future. It’ll take some easing into for both consumers and manufacturers to be comfortable again with direct contact, but with businesses such as Bzz Agent forging a path in that long ago tradition of old, it is my hope that more and more corporations will realize the asset of developing that relationship and make a return to it.

  • Patrick says:

    The buzz–the word–the poop–the mojo–whatever you call it maybe someone should step back and wonder if this coffee “system” is a solution looking for a problem. It reminds me of the photo industry’s release of the APS technology and we all know how well that went over . . .Perhaps Folgers could just create a pill of concentrated coffee that we can swallow while reading the abridged version of USA Today and heating our breakfast muffins in our microwave.

  • Nice point Patrick … as consumers, we have become addicted to convenience.“The less work the consumer has to do, the better” seems to be a mindset driving product innovation these days. But when is convenient too convenient? When do we cross the axis and sacrifice ‘quality’ for the sake of convenience?Is consumer addiction to convenience bad? What repercussions will we face in pursuit of convenience?Tune in next time to find out on … The Convenience Chronicles. (Check local listings for broadcast time and station.)

  • Gino says:

    I am a Bzz-agent and I would only tell others about a product if I truly beleived in it.When I got the Black and Decker machine I tried it out and found that it made a weak cup of coffee, the quality of which was what I would expect from coffee (Folgers) that I would not pay a dime for in the store.And, it had a strange taste, similar to the smell of the Lincoln Tunnel in stand-still rush hour traffic.Interestingly enough a relative liked the coffee, the tempurature and even the taste.Yes, it does take all kinds.I have tried in vain to get this machine to produce something resembling a decent cup of coffee and figure that if I continue I may just get what I’m looking for – but by that time I will have spent $1000 on the pods and for that amount of money I’d rather buy Eight O’Clock or Maxwell House coffee and use our trusty 10-cup drip coffee maker to make pretty good .20 cent cups of coffee.Oh, well – at least the coffee maker by Black and Decker is a conversation piece in our house.Gino

  • More on BzzAgentI met Dave Balter, the founder of BzzAgent here in London yesterday. He’d suggested meeting after reading my own fairly sceptical posts on Bzzagents. (John Moore, Tom Guarriello and Christopher Carfi have all been critical too.) I liked Dave in…

  • More on BzzAgentI met Dave Balter, the founder of BzzAgent here in London yesterday. He’d suggested meeting after reading my own fairly sceptical posts on Bzzagents. (John Moore, Tom Guarriello and Christopher Carfi have all been critical too.) I liked Dave in…

  • More on BzzAgentI met Dave Balter, the founder of BzzAgent here in London yesterday. He’d suggested meeting after reading my own fairly sceptical posts on Bzzagents. (John Moore, Tom Guarriello and Christopher Carfi have all been critical too.) I liked Dave in…

  • More on BzzAgentI met Dave Balter, the founder of BzzAgent here in London yesterday. He’d suggested meeting after reading my own fairly sceptical posts on Bzzagents. (John Moore, Tom Guarriello and Christopher Carfi have all been critical too.) I liked Dave in…

  • george says:

    hi all,please file this rant under “better late than never” …john writes:< < Buzz marketing that borders on stealth marketing whittles away at marketing’s integrity. And, making up bzz-able stories about unremarkable products like the Johnston & Murphy Lite Shoe Collection and the Home Café also whittles away at marketing’s integrity. This loss of integrity equates to a loss of trust which will make it the ever more difficult for marketers to engage in meaningful marketing..>>using the phrase “marketing’s integrity” is almost as nonsensical as “military intelligence.” to think that one form of marketing or advertising (transparent word-of-mouth hucksterism for a coffee maker) is better or worse or has more “integrity” than another (30″ network tv spots for erectile disfunction pills sold by bob dole) is ridiculous.don’t be so self-righteous.hugh said it best, “The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”if you’re doing marketing, you’re in the dreck, just like me. and that’s just fine. dig?

  • George … as a marketer can one at least aspire to orbit the dreck?I do not think all marketers dwell in the dreck. I believe marketers can free themselves of the huckster hairball by telling the story and not making up a story about what makes a product or service remarkable. If I begin developing fairy tale marketing programs then I know it’s time to leave the game.

  • george says:

    John,Sure, you can aspire to do whatever you want. ;)I don’t think about aspiring to “orbit the dreck.” I aspire to create messages that orbit the other gazillion messages that consumers have to put up with every day. I think that’s what Dave/BzzAgent are doing. They are finding efficient alternatives to the normal, increasingly crowded communication channels.BzzAgent’s business model, IMHO, seeks to do exactly what good marketing is all about: Communicating the right message to the right people at the right time in the right place. And, it seems that they’ve found a cost-effective way to do it.And BTW, I don’t think it is about “telling a story” or “making up a story.” It’s about capturing the audience’s attention and delivering a memorable message. During yesterday’s Superbowl, do you think anyone wanted to be “told a story” about Bud Light, Diet Pepsi, Emerald Nuts or FedEx? I don’t. I think people wanted to be entertained. Sometimes, “telling a story” isn’t good enough. Isn’t that why folks in the biz call it “creative?”Using an example from your post, What the (marketing) World Needs Now, can you imagine a $2.4 million Superbowl ad from BK “telling the story” about their new chicken sandwich? No way.Last night, people wanted the Subservient Chicken.

  • George … thanks for dissecting my posts and comments. Me thinks I’ll make you an honorary marketing coroner.And yes, I can imagine a company spending $2.4MM on a Super Bowl ad that tells the story about what makes their product remarkable. Maybe not Burger King, but how about Ameriquest Mortgage? Ameriquest told the story of how they are more open-minded, equal opportunity lender.And Olympus managed to tell the story behind their combo camera/music player gadget.Unfortunately, Ameriquest and Olympus seemed to be the only Super Bowl advertisers able to free themselves of the huckster hairball and create commercials that told the story of what makes their product remarkable.

  • george says:

    John,I am enjoying this. But to me, it is more of a diagnosis than a dissection. I’d rather be an “honorary marketing doctor” than a “honorary marketing coroner,” if that is ok with you? I mean, if you make me an “honorary marketing coroner” for examining your posts and comments, then somehow that implies what you’re writing about is dead and cannot be fixed … only studied via post-mortem. And no one wants that. Dig?A *post* mortem on your comments. LOL.But I digress …As far as I can tell, you are the first person who has said anything positive about the two Olympus Super Bowl spots. The rest of the marketing community seems to have written them off for the failures that they were. They absolutely sucked. They “told the story” of a lousy product that few people understood and fewer will buy. Toss their $5 million story down the drain.As for Ameriquest’s Don’t Judge Too Quickly campaign, I’d argue that neither of their spots “tell a story.” They have a strong shock/comic value and are entertaining and attention-grabbing. Perhaps a few people will remember the tagline after a week, but I doubt it. They told me nothing about Ameriquest or their products. Nothing, other than that we are supposed to believe that they are a kinder gentler lending institution that doens’t rush to judgement in the blink of an eye. I’m sure that Malcom Gladwell is very proud of them. ;)A story from Ameriquest about not judging people? Are you kidding? Do *you* believe that? Is this the kind of “marketing integrity” you were talking about by telling stories and not making stuff up? I hope not.My diagnosis is not good … You are suffering from delusioins of grandure and a bad case of wishful thining.Take two classes and write me in the morning.

  • george says:

    make that, delusions of *grandeur* and a bad case of wishful *thinking*.methinks the doc types too fast … you should see the handwriting on my prescriptions. ;)

  • Spread love George. Spread love.

  • george says:

    it’s not personal …i blogrolled brandautopsy. how’s that for spreading the love?

  • george says:

    A tiny follow-up, regarding the Olympus m:robe 500i … The reviews are in, and they are not good, unless you consider “shiney brick” a compliment.File this under “telling a story” about a lousy product that few people understood and fewer will buy.Review: m:robe 500i basically a shiny brickWednesday, February 9, 2005By Ron Harris, APThe Olympus m:robe 500i is seen in this undated handout photo. Olympus blew oodles of cash on a splashy Superbowl Sunday commercial for its new m:robe 500i, a combination music player and digital camera with 20-gigabytes of storage. (AP Photo/Olympus handout)SAN FRANCISCO — Olympus blew oodles of cash on a splashy Super Bowl Sunday commercial for its new m:robe 500i, a combination music player and digital camera with 20 gigabytes of storage. People danced and pranced around, grooving to music and snapping photos that seemed to herald the age of convergence.But the m:robe 500i (think “m” for music, “robe” for wardrobe, say Olympus hipsters) fails on more than one level.When you converge lackluster media delivery into one device, you essentially get a shiny brick.The full article is here

  • Marketing ist Lügen. Sagt Seth Godin.Ganz ehrlich gesagt enttäuscht mich Seth Godin immer mehr. Ganz zu Anfang hatte er eine gute Idee. Dann erkannte er, dass zu der guten Idee ein Trend passt, der gerade im Marketing in Bewegung kam (auch wenn dieser Text mit

  • Marketing ist Lügen. Sagt Seth Godin.Ganz ehrlich gesagt enttäuscht mich Seth Godin immer mehr. Ganz zu Anfang hatte er eine gute Idee. Dann erkannte er, dass zu der guten Idee ein Trend passt, der gerade im Marketing in Bewegung kam (auch wenn dieser Text mit

  • OGfarmer says:

    There is always someone around to spoil the name of ANY company that reflects on the whole but does not represent the whole.For the most part BzzAgents are a hard-working truley committed bunch of Bzzers that want people to know about great products and are tired of phoney hype by money grubbing ad salespeople. They do it for the $$$$ BzzAgents do it because they want to, there is no money in it for us.There will always be someone around to try and knock someone off the ladder of success in order to climb over him and get higher. The outcome is a meaner nastier person who loses the real meaning of success.

  • Gill says:

    larelo… I’m sorry to be so pedantic but your nostalgia for the consumer products of the 1800s is more than a little misplaced. While your argument is more attuned to a debasement in craftsmanship over the past two centuries, even this tack is frought with myriad problems. Consumer products available at the beginning of the 19th century were few, generally built by artisans who provided for local communities. Any product that enjoyed an extremely high repuatation for quality could be purchased internationally at great expense. Owing to enormous disparities in wealth, production techniques that suffered from a complete lack of standardisation and a dearth of manufacturing technology, many goods that we take for granted were only available to the very highest echelons of society. Mass production techniques, competition and government regulation of quality control (standards which really only started to rear their heads in the mid 20th Century) far from debasing the general quality of products, have actually increased their quality and importantly made them available to the majority of Western consumers. In the early 60s consumer survey tests, testing say 40 ovens would find something wrong with the vast majority. Nowadays you get around 38 decent ovens and in order to differentiate themselves from competition companies rely on brand name, aesthetics etc. In terms of access to quality products the west has never been this spoiled. It’s up to the consumer/customer – whatever you want to call them to do their own research in order to get the most out of a purchase.

  • BzzAgentSo, Im a BzzAgent now.Or Buzzer.Or Bee.Or whatever the Hell euphemism they have for fully-disclosed shill. ;-)Ill be honest, ever since that New York Times Magazine article a few years back, Ive been skeptical of…

  • eric says:

    Look, I’ve been a bzzagent member for a few years now. I am very happy with company and 9/10 items I’ve used and shared with others, I’ve given great reviews on. For the item that got negative feedback, I got the same amount of points for.I gave an accurate report of the pros and cons (more cons than pros) of the item, and got the same amount of points. Being a member isn’t about “selling” a product, it’s about honest opinions, good and bad.

  • james winter says:

    “However, to BzzAgent’s credit, this is all playing out in a very transparent way on the BzzAgent Blog.!”Not so. The page has been taken down – got a 404 error when i tried to go there

  • Yes, it appears the nearly five year-old post is no longer on the BzzAgent blog. That said, when this matter was developing in January 2005, BzzAgent was transparent in showing the good/bad conversation.