Think about how viral content is shared to ensure your message stays intact


Kellogg Community College math professor, Marcus Anderson, created the YouTube video “Bad Email Reply – What not to say to your professor…” above and it recently went viral. I personally saw it on my Facebook newsfeed and on my Feedly.

The problem is, only PART of his message went viral. The video was shared, but not his comments below it explaining that the email was a fake example and that he hadn’t violated student privacy by sharing it. This lead to a lot of people becoming very upset at him.  On his YouTube page for the video, he explains:

“Most importantly, that email was not a word-for-word copy of a student’s email. This is a mash up of many poor emails, some common email mistakes and some of my own embellishment compiled into one email. Let me repeat: I would never post an email of a student to the Internet nor would I suggest anyone else ever doing that. Therefore, cartmanrulez99 is not real person.”

Again, because this information was in the comments section and not in the actual video, when the video is embedded (like it is above) and shared, the complete message is lost. For example, here is the description from Laughing Squid for the video:

Marcus Anderson, a math professor at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan, recently created a video where he critiques an email sent to him from one of his students. The student, whose email address starts off with “cartmanrulez99″, writes to the professor as if he is a best friend for life, drops a winky face, uses shortcuts when spelling out words (u, lol, and thx), requests handouts for each of the four classes missed, and then goes ahead and asks for the actual class book.”

What can we learn from this

The big takeaway for all of us is to really think about how our messages could be shared and take any steps necessary to make sure that the message we want to communicate stays intact. In this case, the message that it wasn’t a real student should have been included in the video.

This also serves as a great reminder to check the source of the information you receive. Until I clicked-through to the YouTube and read his comments, I also was under the impression that it was a real student email.

“The Sexy Lie” by Caroline Heldman is a must-watch

If you haven’t seen the “The Sexy Lie” TEDx Talk by Caroline Heldman below, it’s well worth the watch.

I’ve written a little bit about women in advertising before (i.e. Lifetime Fitness model too thin. This billboard needs to come down) but this video has a lot of key points that I think aren’t emphasized including body correction and the connection between objectification and GPA (grade point average).

Marketing music via the Internet, an ongoing evolution

My friend and I spent our Friday evening this past week at a Straight No Chaser concert in Houston, TX.  Their performance opened with a video of how to enjoy the concert. During that video, they made a point, at least twice, to encourage people to take photos and videos of the performance and post them online (tagging, hashtagging, etc. them of course).  Then, during the performance, they took photos of the crowd and asked us to go on their Facebook page and tag ourselves They explained that they had a limited marketing budget and social media was an effective way to get their message out.

Considering that the popularity of Straight No Chaser began when one of their members posted a video of them on YouTube and it went viral (see video above), it’s not shocking that this group has embraced social media and the online world as they have, but it is quite unusual.  Over the years, I’ve watched with great interest as the music world struggles to find the perfect balance with the online world. As it stands now, most musicians seem to tolerate online videos and photos of their concerts and some will even ask you to tweet your experience using a hashtag. But Straight No Chaser has taken it a step further by asking fans to actively post videos of their performances online.

Do I think it’s a good idea? Yes. People go to the concerts for the experience and to hear the music live. No video is going to overcome that thirst for the experience.  But is it good for all musicians? I’d say yes, but would love to hear your thoughts.

On another note, I chose NOT to take photos and videos during the concert because I wanted to just sit back and enjoy the experience. For more on my thoughts about this, read: Put down the camera and enjoy the moment.

Top 5 reasons to join Rotary

Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking to a group of college students about professional networking. As part of that presentation, I highly recommended joining Rotary or Rotaract (for students).

Here are my top five reasons to join Rotary:

  1. Increased knowledge of the community and current issues. The majority of Rotary clubs have a guest speaker each week. The topics vary widely, so you get a wide variety of information. We all have busy lives and there are topics I either don’t have the time or wouldn’t even think to research, but Rotary gives me a chance to hear from experts on those topics.
  2. Professional networking.  Rotary allows you to develop meaningful relationships will fellow community leaders. The weekly lunches give you the opportunity to really find out who your fellow Rotarians are. I once had a President I worked for who commented on the strength of my community connections and inquired how I’d gotten them.  “They are all in Rotary with me,” I responded.
  3. Make the world a better place. Whether it is holding a roadside cleanup, building a playground, or donating together to fund a much-needed well in an impoverished country, Rotary offers a structured and safe way to make a difference.  You know your money and time is going to a great cause and it’s so rewarding to see the results. I’ve worked on community service projects, interviewed students for scholarships, and reviewed and voted-on grants submissions. Each has been rewarding in its own way.
  4. International programs. There are a wide variety of opportunities to learn more about different parts of the world. You can travel and do community service work, be a host family for an exchange student, or be a short-term (usually one week) host for a young professional in the Group Study Exchange program. I’ve done the latter and it was an incredible experience. I met some amazing young professionals from Rome that I am now grateful to call my friends. And, I had the chance to visit them in Rome, Italy.
  5. Share your passions. I don’t just working in marketing, I live and breathe it. I’m also a teacher at heart, so I truly enjoy sharing my marketing knowledge with others. Rotary has given me a way to present to my fellow Rotarians in my own club and other clubs.  In 2011, I gave a presentation to my local Rotary club titled, “Effective marketing using the broken windows theory.” Approximately 70 people showed that day at lunch and a fellow Rotarian taped my presentation for me and I posted it on YouTube. From the people in the room referring me and the YouTube link, I’ve been able to give that same presentation to more Rotary clubs, at a national marketing conference, at an Air National Guard leadership conference, to many individual businesses and organizations, and to two chambers of commerce as their keynote speaker. I would have never had the opportunity to do any of those talks had it not been for Rotary.

So, now that I’ve convinced you that Rotary is definitely something you need to be a part of, research a local club and get involved! Technically, you have to be invited, but I guarantee you, if you show up, someone will step forward and “invite” you on the spot. For those of you in Rotary, what things would you add to this list? How has Rotary enriched your life and your community?

Thanks, John Kerfoot, for showing us how to laugh at ourselves

This post is dedicated to someone I’ve never met, but want to thank.

For those of you “non-Michiganders,” you might not be familiar with John Kerfoot, but he’s very popular in Michigan. He owns Tri-Foot productions and is an instructor at Wayne State University, but we all know him because he’s the guy that publishes the Not So Pure Michigan videos.

The Back Story

A couple years back, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation decided they needed to do something to increase tourism. So, they produced an advertising/branding campaign titled Pure Michigan. The campaign, including television ads, are very well received and seem to do a lot of good for tourism for the State of Michigan. But, to those of us in Michigan, the ads are a stretch because we see the good AND the bad.

Enter John Kerfoot

The videographer very quickly began creating spoofs of the ads (which, most advertisers will tell you, is the ultimate compliment) and they went viral. Not only that, but his videos (which, a warning, contain a lot of swearing) are primarily responsible, in my opinion, for inspiring a whole new, sarcastic meaning to the phrase “Pure Michigan.” Examples:

  • If you see something that is completely unattractive, like a garbage dump, it’s not uncommon in Michigan for someone to point to it and say “See that? Pure Michigan.”
  • During a presentation on Broken Windows that I gave at a military base, I asked a high-ranking  officer what he thought of a picture I’d taken of a horrible billboard ad in Michigan. He smiled and sarcastically said, “Pure Michigan.”

Recently, via Facebook, he announced that he’s retiring the series. Even though I now live in Texas, I’m deeply saddened by the news. I still love watching his videos and happily share them with my friends in Texas who want to see the “other” side of Michigan. He’s taught us “Michiganders” to laugh at ourselves and he’s provided a great example of advertising spoofing done well.

So, John, I just want to say, thanks for the laughs. I’m going to miss your Pure Michigan series, but look forward to your future work.

And now, my favorite Pure Michigan videos (again, a warning, they do contain profanity and could potentially be offensive to some):

Fun commercial pick: Ma Contrexpérience – 97s

Sometimes an advertisement is so good, it gets forwarded around via email (which is how it got to me), has over 13 million views on YouTube, and gets embedded on awesome marketing blogs (hey, I tried). Way to go Contrex Mineral Water!

A quick warning: I’d rate this ad PG-13 by American standards

Gillette razors: Will their pricing strategy be their demise?


‘I wanted to ask you whether you’d got any razor blades,’ he said.

‘Not one!’ said Winston with a sort of guilty haste. ‘I’ve tried all over the place. They don’t exist any longer.’

Everyone kept asking you for razor blades. Actually he had two unused ones which he was hoarding up. There had been a famine of them for months past. At any given moment there was some necessary article which the Party shops were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons, sometimes it was darning wool, sometimes it was shoelaces; at present it was razor blades. You could only get hold of them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on the ‘free’ market.

‘I’ve been using the same blade for six weeks,’ he added untruthfully.

– George Orwell’s 1984

If you are like me, you have a love/hate relationship with Gillette razors. Sometime seems very wrong with spending upwards of $4 per razor blade that will last a little over a week. It’s an expensive I simply would prefer to avoid. So, avoid I’ve tried. I’ve tried every other type of razor out there from the Meijer brand razor blades to ShopSavvy’s recommendation of the CVS Pharmacy razor blades (which, by they way, I found to be very unsafe to use). But, I’ve never found a razor blade that can compare to Gillette brands. So, grudgingly, I continue to buy them.

That’s why the article “A David and Gillette Story” from the Wall Street Journal gives me hope. Gillette has enjoyed years of expansive growth without ever having to reconsider its pricing strategy, but it looks like that may be changing.  In general, I think marketers don’t pay enough attention to the price part of the 4 P’s. But, in Gillette’s case, ignoring the price part of their marketing strategy might just be their demise. Or, at the very least, cost them significant market share. They’ve ignored the calls from their consumers for a lower-priced, quality blade and their consumers like me aren’t too happy about it. I buy Gillette razor blades because I don’t have a viable alternative. But the minute I do have one, I’ll switch.

So congrats to Dollar Shave Club for asking us all to rethink the price of our blades and good luck to Gillette as they reevaluate their pricing strategy.

A warning: The video below contains implied explicit content.