Posts tagged “collateral”

The Hand-made’s Tale

Real real…


At Verve Coffee Roasters, my favorite cafe in Santa Cruz, each cup of coffee comes with a cup insulator hand-tied from a napkin by the person serving it. It’s a nice little touch that makes that cup of coffee seem special and folksy.

and fake real…


AT&T, keepin’ it unreal with a fake photocopied-annotated-and-passed-around-the-office flyer–a piece of marketing collateral that they mailed to my house. (It’s crumpled because I threw it out, then decided to write about it and rescued it from the trash.)

What are companies thinking when they send us stuff like this? Fake real, with its pretensions to authenticity, is even worse than fake.

Related posts:
Quickies: Fake Authenticity
Don’t Brand Me, Bro
This Space Available
Meet the new authenticity

Collateral Damage

I got this thing in the mail from a company called Veer. The cover slip said: “A giant hand. Angsty Cats. Rioting Models.”


How could I not open it?


It turned out to be a huge advertisement poster. It was so big that once I’d unfolded it, I had to lay it on a chair.

It looked like such a pain in the ass to fold it up again that I left it lying there and went and made coffee.

I was standing in the living room again a few minutes later deciding what to do with my Saturday morning, and I started absentmindedly reading some of the copy on the poster.

It was like I’d created a Veer billboard in my living room.

There was a picture of a sweatshirt I thought was kind of cool. Turns out it’s for sale at Veer’s website. (Veer’s primary business is selling stock photography, fonts, and other graphic design resources.) Then, a description of an animated short that sounded interesting, free to view on the site.

Next thing I know, I’m on my way to Veer’s website, looking for the sweatshirt and the film. Wow. They really got me, didn’t they!

In consideration of the web’s enormous power and ubiquitous presence as a commercial tool, I think this is a testimony to the continuing importance of things you can touch, that interpose themselves in our three-dimensional spaces.

But the story’s not over…


Veer’s website is down.

At this point, I’ve been so adroitly manipulated from being a complete bystander to actively seeking out this company that I’m sure this shutdown itself is also part of the strategy: a way to get me to come back on Monday and talk to someone at Veer, hooked in just a little deeper by thinking I’ve serendipitously ended up with this 10% discount opportunity.

Now I’m caught up in this interesting meta-story–curious about Veer’s tactical moves, wondering if they are being as deeply strategic as I’m imagining?

This whole interaction is an object lesson in the complexity of moving a potential customer back and forth between realspace and webspace, and how many interesting ways there are to go about pursuing this objective.

We’ll see if I use the 10% discount to buy a sweatshirt.

Simulacrap 2

I already described the ridiculous persona-encrusted collateral from Yahoo’s Search Marketing. This week I received a package from Microsoft (with an unnecessary piece of styrofoam in the box to protect their precious wire-bound book).

With tips from me – Search Master Steve

Search Master Steve? Good Lord!

I’m not sure whether Microsoft’s only-works-in-IE search marketing interface is worse than Yahoo’s. I guess it’s like asking if you’d rather have two fingers ripped off by an angry gorilla or have three fingers removed surgically. These products are not fun to use and the crap I’m getting in the mail from the Microhooligans is insulting.


In my recent column Persona Non Grata I point to some of the cultural problems inside organizations that personas can create, or mask. And what happens when your personas become your marketing?

We’ve recently been experimenting with search marketing on Yahoo, MSFT, and Google. Today I received a shiny booklet from Yahoo, with a note from Sharon Goodsense, Yahoo! Search Marketing Specialist (“and remember, we’re always here to help you.”)

And I’m referred to as Bashful Beginner.

Yahoo’s search marketing management interface is so completely useless that all I ever do is click and click and click until I get some result; with no mental model being built that would help me next time. I have no idea what most of the information they are providing is about or how I can use it. So maybe this book will help me, but the first two pages are the most patronizing and fake thing I can imagine. I can’t believe they went to the trouble to come up with these fake characters to represent the company I’m doing business with; it’s offensive to take my money for a service, give me an unusable product, and then hand me a cartoon character who talks down to me; if I can’t call this person for help with my problems, because they don’t exist. It’s the least transparent thing a company should do. Yahoo got off the cluetrain a while ago, I guess.


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