Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Barack Obama Won with Social Networking

The folks at XPLANE have created another awesome diagram (aka XPLANATION) to explain and demonstrate how the world works. This time it's about politics and social networking. Thanks to Parker Lee, vp marketing and business development at XPLANE, for agreeing to allow us to share this with you.

The Barack Obama presidential campaign team leveraged the power of social networking technologies, especially Facebook, to win the primary election this year. On a related note, I happened to catch a C-SPAN segment recently which broadcast a panel discussion involving several of the candidates' electronic communications directors. Hillary's staffer said [essentially], "When Obama had 1,000,000 million registered Facebook group members, we knew they had us beat."
Obama raised $55 million in campaign contributions in February of 2008 without attended a single fundraising event. Amazing! All of the panel participants agreed that social networking technology has forever changed the way campaign communications, organizing and fundraising will be conducted. Wow!

The XPLANE diagram (see link below) shows, in a simple, effective, concise visual illustration how they did it. The following quote is from XPLANE:

Barack Obama is the first major candidate to decline participation in the
public financing system for presidential campaigns. He’s found a more effective
way to raise money — by leveraging the power of the American people through
online Social Networks.

Download the PDF here. A picture is worth 1,000 words! Check it out.
[The infographic is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Created by XPLANE - The Visual Thinking Company -]

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Monday, June 23, 2008

FUNancial Fest 2008: Walking the Walk

For over a year, Maple Creative has had the opportunity to work with one of North-Central West Virginia's most innovative (and talent-filled) organizations: Fairmont Federal Credit Union. The partnership has produced many exciting results: new branding (logo, positioning statement), new Web site ( and ongoing advertising and public relations consulting, just to name a few.

A goal throughout has been credit union education, i.e. debunking myths, highlighting the contrasts between the not-for-profit credit unions and corporate banks that often pander more to stockholders than their customers and emphasizing the national credit union philosophy of, "People Helping People." This philosophy was the bedrock for an event held last Saturday - FUNancial Fest 2008.

Fairmont Federal Credit Union (FFCU), and four other regional credit unions in North-Central, WV, combined their resources for this day of fun, prizes and financial learning opportunities for the local community, held at Valley Worlds of Fun in Fairmont. To list all of the prizes and activities available Saturday would put even the most dedicated Marketing Genius into a coma, but judging from the turnout - around 500 attendees from young to old, not to mention the smiling faces - the event was a huge success. As a "qusai outsider" to the credit union world, FUNancial Fest 2008 had their organizational values written all over it: local, personalized, friendly, in addition to the will and ability to go above and beyond.

The organizers had a simple goal: provide the local community with a fun-filled and affordable (have you stood at a gas pump lately?) "mini-vacation" while simultaneously exposing them to the benefits of credit union membership. I'm willing to bet that the 20-something, non-credit union member, mother-of-three - who incidentally won over $350 during her time in a Money Machine - has asked herself, "What has my bank done for me lately?" plenty of times since Saturday.

Score one for Fairmont Federal Credit Union and their partners. Saturday, they showed they could walk the walk.

Visit, the official Web site of FUNancial Fest 2008 for more about this great event.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Promoting West Virginia from the Inside Out

There’s been a lot of talk about West Virginia in the press recently. From the Democratic primary election, where the whole state was presented as gun-toting racists by the John Stewart Show (among others), to Cheney’s tongue-in-cheek (or was that foot-in-mouth?) comments about inbreeding, it’s been a tough few months.

Now, I have a sense of humor. I actually think John Stewart is hilarious – though I would expect a little more thought and diplomacy from our nation’s vice-president.

Regardless, if West Virginia were a business, now would be a good time to get proactive in our marketing. So, in honor of the state’s birthday, I thought it would be fun to examine how we can break out of old stereotypes or – better yet – replace them with new ones.

First Law of Marketing: Perception is reality. Whatever we perceive (and believe) about ourselves will eventually become our reality. In turn, the more our reality is perceived by the outside world, the more it becomes universally accepted as a snapshot of what we are.

Therefore, it’s up to all of us to create our new “stereotype” and I’m part of a group that is literally changing West Virginia from the inside out. They’re bringing new jobs, new opportunities, new people and new vision to the Mountain State. What’s the name of this remarkable association?

It doesn’t have one. This group doesn’t have a name because it’s not officially sanctioned, organized, or structured. It is groups of people around the state that have said “enough” with the old West Virginia stereotype and have decided to create a new one.

It’s Jason Keeling who organized this discussion through his network.

It’s Jeff James who has shown remarkable leadership in introducing state leaders to New Economy opportunities through the Creative Communities Team and the Create West Virginia Conference.

It’s the members of Generation West Virginia who finally organized the state’s young professionals network and is now empowering these emerging leaders to generate real, positive change in the state.

There are scores of others I know. All working to build a new image of the state they call home. It may take a few years, or even a few decades, but these are the people that will change West Virginia forever. And I’m so proud to be part of it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meet Erin : She Needs Your Input!

I haven’t had a chance to introduce myself yet, I’m Erin Deegan and I’m interning at Maple Creative this summer.


I live in an apartment in Huntington for school, and sometimes stay with my parents (Joe and Denise Deegan) in Cross Lanes for the internship. Gas is expensive, so I’ve been carpooling with them as often as possible (we all work within a couple blocks of each other in Charleston.)


I’m a senior at Marshall University majoring in Public Relations. I’ll be getting the coveted bachelors degree in December. I would have had it in May, but I changed my minor at the last minute… from photography to accounting. Quite the 360, don’t you think? I know it will be worth it in the long run, and I still practice photography on the side with a friend of mine (if you know anyone getting married give me a shout!)


Currently I am taking a summer class at Marshall, my last journalism/public relations course. It is Media Ethics, and we have a pretty giant paper/debate to write in one week. The topic is ADVERTISING. One side of the class has to argue that advertising shapes society, the other side has to argue that advertising mirrors what society already wants/thinks. My team has to say it MIRRORS. It should be interesting to write about, and challenging since most the research I’ve done has proven the SHAPE side.


What do you think? Does advertising shape or mirror our society? 

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Lessons From Tim

With the tragic passing of Meet The Press Host, Tim Russert, have come many touching tributes and flashbacks of him and what he accomplished over his career - and shared with us each and every Sunday for 17 years. While Tim Russert was in a class all by himself, there is much we can learn from him and the approach he took with each and every episode of Meet The Press.

As marketing and public relations professionals perhaps the greatest thing we can learn from Tim Russert is the importance of preparation. Tim Russert was always prepared; he knew his topics, his guests and the direction in which he anticipated – or wanted – the show to go.

If a guest was unprepared or got off message, he or she was toast.

While we may never face the likes of a Tim Russert, preparation is no less important. But how does one prepare?

Three simple rules:
1. Know your message
2. Stay on message
3. Never ever stray from message.

Success in the above comes from being prepared. Tim Russert prepared to the extent that he anticipated the responses; Question A would lead to Question B which would lead to Question C and so on.

Well, if the moderator can do it, the messenger needs to be prepared to do it - but even better. But how?

One of the first (I think best as well) pieces of advice I provide during spokesperson training sessions is to develop a core message and several supporting messages designed to support that core. This is your way of delivering Message A to lead to Message B to lead to Message C – the most appropriate and effective response to the tactics of those who aspire to be as successful as Tim Russert.

Kudos to Tim Russert for sharing his genius with us and so many others each and every week, and for forcing those of us in our profession to prove ours.

Far From...Enough Already!@#$!

I apologize in advance for the rant, but I’ve absolutely had it with the Far from X…Close to Y, or Close to X... Far From Y type slogans, taglines and attempts at positioning statements. They’re everywhere from parks to casinos, golf courses to restaurants.

Relax, if you have one of these ‘catch slogans’ you’re grandfathered and you can continue to use such a tagline – you were a ‘trendsetter’ I suppose. But, everybody else, it’s too late; from this point forward permission to use any form of the aforementioned is hereby denied.

There comes a time when you just have to move on; find a way of saying the same thing without saying the same thing – you know what I mean? But right now these type of expressions have gotten to the point that they’re simply, Close to Lame…Far from Genius.

Come on people. We can do better!

p.s. Are there others that drive you nuts? Let's hear 'em.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hidden Logo Design Elements: The Golf Channel

Here is another chapter in our continuing feature series on interesting logo designs. The Golf Channel logo, displayed at left, is an interesting and timely case study in hidden logo design elements.

This week is, of course, U.S. Open Week. Millions of golf fans around the world are tuning in to the Golf Channel for in-depth coverage on one of professional golf's major championship contests.

Like most viewers, I had seen this logo hundreds of times prior to today. Yet, this morning, it came to me: something new. My eye found the hidden elements embedded within the Golf Channel's brand icon.

Can you find it? Post a comment below and tell us what you see. Happy hunting!

For more of these logo studies, check out the following:

Animal Planet


Finding Nemo

Goodwill Industries

Hershey Kisses

Baskin Robbins

Big Ten Conference


Presidential Campaign logos

Tostito's Fiesta Bowl


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ranked Among the Top Advertising & Media Blogs

We are proud to share news that Marketing Genius from Maple Creative is now ranked among the top advertising and media blogs in the world, according to Advertising Age. We are presently ranked #393 out of 600 total blogs. Not bad ... even if you do have to scroll several times to find us on the list.

The Power 150 is a ranking of the top English-language media and marketing blogs in the world, as developed by marketing executive and blogger, Todd Andrlik. It's really as simple as that, except that the name isn't strictly accurate: It currently ranks more than 500 blogs written about all types of media and pretty much every imaginable marketing discipline. It's now housed on Ad Age, partly because we thought it'd draw some traffic and links for us, but also because both Todd and Ad Age figured it was a useful service to rank and showcase all these sources of information in one place, where thousands of readers could discover them. With more than 700,000 registered users on our site and a host of daily and weekly products, we also hope we can grow the traffic to Todd's creation and some of the blogs it highlights.

What Todd came up with is a largely objective ranking, which is probably why it's already gained such popularity among marketing and media bloggers. It uses a basic multimetric algorithm to obtain a final ranking based on the sum of eight sources, seven of which come from Google, Bloglines, Alexa, Yahoo! and Technorati. The last is Todd's own personal subjective measure. In the case of a tie, individual scores for a blog are weighted in the following order (from highest to lowest):

Todd Points (1 to 15): As the only subjective measure in the Power 150 algorithm, 1 to 15 opinion points were assigned to each blog. Todd Andrlik values frequent, relevant, creative and high-quality content. The use of audio, video and graphics is also heavily weighted in the Todd Points.
Yahoo InLinks (1 to 30): Much like Technorati's InLinks count, Yahoo uses its Site Explorer to tabulate the number of links to a particular blog. We then scale this number down to a 30-point scale.
Technorati Ranking (1 to 20): Technorati ranking analyzes the number of sites pointing to a particular blog. The more link sources referencing your blog, the higher the Technorati ranking. Similar to the Bloglines Subscribers value, Technorati ranking ranges were determined (i.e., top 9,000, top 10,000, top 20,000, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (1 to 20) that was used in the Power 150 algorithm.
Technorati Authority (1 to 20): Much like the InLinks count, Technorati's Authority count is the number of blogs (as opposed to individual links) that link to a particular blog. This number is then scale down to a 20-point scale.
Technorati InLinks (1 to 20): Technorati tallies the number of links to a particular blog, and we then scale that number down to a 20-point scale.
Alexa Points (1 to 15): Alexa ranks sites with an algorithm that incorporates page views and reach (the percentage of all web users who have visited that particular site). For the Power 150, we take that rank and assign it a proportional score between 1 and 15 and factor it into a blog's total score.
Bloglines Subscribers (1 to 10): Bloglines displays the number of feed subscribers. Subscriber ranges were determined (i.e., more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (1 to 15) that was used in the Power 150 algorithm.
Google PageRank (0 to 10): Google PageRank is a link-analysis algorithm that interprets web links and assigns a numerical weighting (0 to 10) to each site. High-quality sites receive a higher PageRank. The actual PageRank number was used in the Power 150 ranking algorithm.
Collective Intellect (0 to 10): Collective Intellect is a social media analytics company that works with brands to evaluate consumer opinion, measure buzz, identify customer sentiment and manage corporate reputations at the industry, company, brand, campaign and messaging levels. For the Power 150, Collective Intellect's authority ranking uses a patent-pending algorithm to calculate an author's authority on a topic, including such measures as link-analysis between on-topic posts, topic density, author's percent of contribution to the topic, number of comments and post quality.

This honor is to be shared by all of you, our entire community of marketing geniuses. It goes to show how important all of you are who comment, contribute, link to, recommend, tag and 'favorite' this and other blogs. Thanks! We couldn't have done it without you.

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Tiger's Disruptive Force

There's been much discussion and debate in the business world the past several years about the power of disruptive ideas and concepts. Blogs disrupted mass print media. YouTube is a disruptive force with respect to broadcast media. Sirius and XM have been disruptions to the old model of radio and radio advertising. And the phenomemon is not limited to media or communications. Think of Zappos and shoe stores. Or search engines with respect to the Yellow Pages. The list of disruptions goes on ... and the impact only accelerates.

There is a crystal clear illustration of a disruption in the world of professional golf. And his name, of course, is Tiger Woods.

To understand all you have to do is to rewind the clock to 1997. Think of the best golfers in the world at the time. The list is not hard to build:
  • Fred Couples and David Love, III (pictured above) - Master's, PGA champions

  • Ernie Els and Vijay Singh - US Open, multiple Master's championships

  • Paul Azinger and Mark O'Meara - US Open, Master's, British Open champions

  • Justin Leonard and Lee Janzen - British Open, US Open champions
That's one heck of a list of eight golf professionals. You think those guys were planning on winning a few more big tournaments? Maybe even snare a major victory or two? I am dead certain they were. And why not: these guys were money! They were the golfing elite. Week in and week out, these were your contenders. (Phil Michelson is excluded because he had not yet reached his level of greatness when Tiger turned pro.)

Guess how many Wanamaker trophies those guys have grabbed since Tiger emerged in 1997?


Guess how many Green Jackets they have donned since Tiger hit the scene eleven years ago?


Today was opening day of the 2008 U.S. Open. Guess how many Open Championship cups those
eight great golfers have hoisted since 1997?


That's 33 U.S. majors over an 11-year period. And the score?
Tiger: 10 major championships
The other eight big-name players combined for just 7.
Tiger came along and changed the game. Changed it in previously unimaginable ways. Much has been written about the way he thinks, trains, plays and practices. That's not the point. The point
for marketing geniuses is two-fold:

1- If you are an established leader, don't think that simply because you are enjoying success that you always will.

2- And if you are the valiant newcomer, do not underestimate the power of new ideas and new approaches to disrupt the status quo, or to open up new opportunities.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Any golf fans out there? Though I rarely play any more, I remain a huge golf fan. As all such beings know: this is U.S. Open week. It's showtime. This is one of the year's four major events in the world of professional golf. The scene for this year's contest is Torrey Pines in San Diego.

My brain has locked onto the fact that The Open always falls on Father's Day weekend. Golf is something that I've shared and enjoyed with my Dad for many years. So it holds a special element of significance for me, which makes this one of my favorite weeks of the year.
This morning my thoughts raced back, in fast-rewind mode, searching for U.S. Open recollections. Despite having attended last year's Open at Oakmont, what came to mind for me was the 1999 contest. Payne Stewart wrested the '99 trophy from Phil Michelson at Pinehurst. It was a dramatic and turbulent battle. On that Father's Day Sunday, Stewart prevailed as champion. I clearly remember that Michelson was about to become a father, carrying a pager and "on alert" the whole weekend. In a sweet and classy moment, Stewart upon sinking the winning putt, rushed to embrace runner-up Michelson and to offer the advice that becoming a father was a far greater reward than the trophy. (Sadly, Payne Stewart would die in a plane crash later that year.)

This story of the 1999 U.S. Open and all of its sideline elements are all so clear to me. But why? What makes that event so memorable? The answer is emotion. The details are so clear and vivid in our brains because they were etched into those neurons with emotion.

Powerful, powerful thing, emotion. The drama of the contest fueled the emotion. The expectancy and anticipation of the Michelsons' coming child added to the emotion. The tender moment between Stewart and Michelson: more emotion. Moreover, the year was 1999, one in which the whole world was amped-up a notch or two for the coming Millennium. (remember Y2K?) And of course, the whole episode was further etched with another dousing of emotion related to Stewart's tragic, untimely death.

Want to make your important stories more memorable? Inject some emotion. Whether you are giving a 15-minute speech to the local Lions Club, or crafting a 00:30 television advertisement designed to spearhead the launch of a new product, throw some emotion into it. The emotional elements don't have to be sad or nostalgic, joy and humor work well, too.

And if you want to learn how to make your stories more emotional--or more "sticky"--check out our previous posts on storytelling, persuasion, emotion, creativity and color.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Weigh in on This!

Philadelphia Media Holdings, the company that owns the Inquirer and Daily News, was the first to do a report on Derrie-Air (the world's first carbon-neutral airline), the first airline to offer flights based upon the weight of the passengers. Flights from Philadelphia to Chicago were $1.40 for every pound; L.A. for $2.25 a pound.

The ads and web site drew a tremoundous amount of interest and traffic. By all indications the promotion was a huge success. There's only one big catch.

It was joke. Or rather a creative means of measuring the effective of its own online and print media. You see, Philadelphia Media Holdings had worked with an ad agency, Gyro, to develop the campaign and test its offerings.

The link to the NBC10 story is here:

While it's clever, and was very effective, I'm not ready to call it genius. And here's why. Prepare to laugh or cry.

Way back when I was a kid, for my grandparents' anniversary dinner, my family (mom,dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents) went to what was at the time a rather popular restaurant. The concept of 'pay as you weigh' is not new to me thanks to this restaurant. You see, they priced the children's buffet based upon the weight of the child. Not the adults - that would have been crazy!?!

Anyway, all the other kids stepped on the scale and were fine. But, when it came to my cousin and I - not the same story. Our parents did a good job of ushering the other kids out of the way so they wouldn't see what they already knew - Jim and Mike are big guys. This happened for a few years and then the place closed. For the record, Mike and I had nothing to do with it.

At that time nobody knew my cousin would be a hell of a football player or that I would end up playing international rugby. So everything turned out alright, but now you know why I hesitate to give the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News the 'genius' stamp just yet. Valiant effort but there's something to be said for being first.

Still, a great way of doing something every marketing professional should do - measuring results.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Worried About Rising Gas Prices?

Today, most of us are seriously concerned, if not truly worried, about rising gas prices. Many are wondering where this will go and what the impact will be. Would you be surprised to learn that the technology of alternative reality gaming might be an integral part of determining alternatives and solutions? Yes, game playing may lead us to answers.

Last year, participants from 12 nations participated in a large scale role playing experiment called A World Without Oil. The game was played over a 32-week period with increasingly dire scenarios in which the world ran out of crude oil. Thousands of participants from diverse cohort groups, including community leaders, industry experts, conservationists, motor racing enthusiasts and mothers, reacted to scenarios and postulated responses and impacts. Week by week, as scenarios were explored and played out, the control panel exhibited the impact on various regional economies and public opinion.

The project produced valuable insights and such tangible resources as lesson plans for teachers. Much of the fictional experiment from 2007 seems increasingly realistic today in 2008. I urge you to check it out.

The project was led by Ken Eklund and Jane McGonigal of The Institute for The Future, the world's oldest forecasting organization. Jane is a Berkeley PhD and also a blogger. I read her blog, Avant Game regularly. I encourage you to infuse and invigorate your thinking with input from smart people, like Jane McGonigal, people from different places and different disciplines. [If you explore Jane's blog be sure to learn about Cookie Rolling!]

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Warning: rant coming. [I will beg your pardon, in advance.] is great. I love books and love to learn. I probably purchase one book per month on Amazon. But I really dislike the frequency of unsolicited e-mail that Amazon sends me.

Again, I love the Web site. Love the selection ... and the reliability ... not to mention the simplicity of ordering. But on the down side, I probably receive three e-mails a week, suggesting a book that might be of interest to me ... or offering me some discount or free shipping. Enough already! Thanks for the suggestions and all, but I would really be more happy if Amazon would reduce their frequency of e-mail messages to me by about 50%

Anyone else share this frustration?

[We'll see if Amazon is monitoring "the groundswell"--I will be sure to let you know if they find and respond to this post. Stay tuned.]

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