Thursday, January 17, 2002

There is no denying she has her fans (warning: get ready to hit esc to kill the midi!).
Where can I get one of those? Google tells us more. And more.
I heard she uses a butt double on TV.
Okay, more than a couple people have asked: What's CPG? And, no, Frank, nothing with the words "martha" and "stewart" on it is a good thing. Least around here. She makes most women feel like a complete and utter in-the-home failure, although scant few of us would want to actually *be* her. On an unrelated note, since I've been in round the clock work mode and have no brain cells to spare, please know that I'll be gone for a few days. Back Tuesday. Going to do the obligatory "inlaw" dance--that's the little number where I pay my husband back for living near my crazy relatives all these years. (Now, where'd I put that "I'd rather be blogging" blogsticker?)


Wednesday, January 16, 2002

So I went to the Kraft Foods site thinking to find some insights re. CPG and the web. Instead I found a rather attractive user focused site that offers a meal planner, an onsight recipe box, recipes by email and a bold link to contests and promotions. I wonder how many members they have and I wonder how badly you'd get spammed (and by whom and for how long) if you registered for membership. I don't wonder enough to register! If you don't get spammed I'll bet Kraft at least slips you an Oscar Mayer weiner. These people are probably soaking up a larger and larger number of upper middle moms with kids in school and a PC with browser in the kitchen telephone nook. (One upstairs in the office and one off the great room in the den too probably, but the one in the kitchen phone nook is the cutest because of the quilted cotton dust cover with the prairie print that matches the toaster cover.

Is there a point Frank? Well, no, not really... I was just looking for sites that I thought might have a Martha Stewart evocative cornflower blue patterned background, and GUESS WHAT? Kraft Foods has one! Is that a good thing?
Denver, that's what I thought about the relation between Gonzo and broadcast.

And the examples I posted (chosen at random, in less than 5 minutes of looking) do precisely refute his proposition, namely that there is no CPG broadcast marketing on the Web.

The efficiency of that marketing relative to Gonzo is another story, though, and one that involves the kind of math that people here seem to hate, namely "how effective" divided by "how costly".
Hey Jeneane and Clay,

By definition: NO broadcast message can be Gonzo!

Shouting at everyone, - and particularly those people who don't want to hear you, and may actually have asked you politely to "Please! STOP!" - is not a conversation, nor is it particularly engaging.

SPAM != Gonzo

Although eventually, these nascent efforts at being marginally less than a completely overbearing prick may mature into something Gonzo-like, they can never do that while they are still *broadcast*!

So, while they may be admitted into the category of CPG broadcast advertising *on the web* (which was the original term used by Gaspar Torreiro) on a technicality, this doesn't really refute his proposition, IMHO.

On the contrary, their primitive efforts to imitate Gonzo-ness while refusing to give up their innate prickhood is rather a solid endorsement of Gonzo, albeit one it could probably do without.
What guys like
Important free speech discussion ongoing now at Sandhill... tune-in, turn-on, gross-out...

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Things are moving fast at Sandhill. With just a modicum of spammage we've assembled a team that is North American bi-coastal, and has members from at least three other continents. This has got to have short wave radio beat. In the spirit of sharing and to emphasize the cosmopolitan nature of Sandhill Trek, I've blogged a piece of email I received from Nigeria today! This is an exciting opportunity! read it and tell me if you think it counts as Gonzo Marketing. Also, I wonder what a fair percentage to charge Abdulkamiri would be? Also, do you think blogging this email violates the implied non-disclosure agreement and voids the contract?

Hi Clay,

I checked out the examples you mention below, and in my mind, none of these are gonzo. They are all top-down messaging that doesn't really enable any kind of dialogue with or *among* customers, employees, etc. I suppose an argument can be made that the Coke Unity Chain has real people's real voices embedded. But somehow I can tell when a company's sincerely trying to reach/engage/grow with me and my fellow travelers, or when they're just creatively deploying the latest cute Web toy to make their same old points. I can't tell you the parameters around that, but I know when I'm being talked at.

Thanks for keeping this lively!


I cannot recall one single example of CPG broadcast advertising *on the web*

Well, I suppose this gets at the heart of what is and isn't Gonzo. Is Coca Cola's "Unity Chain" Gonzo? Is Clorox's Generations and Innovations Gonzo? Is Procter & Gamble soliciting feedback on Cascade Gonzo? They all make nods at user involvement of some sort or other, and they are all CPG. Where do they fit?

Monday, January 14, 2002

Received this in the mail for the consideration of the group:


Sorry to bother, but may I comment on this snippet?

"Denver, I get that clocke thinks broadcast marketing doesn't work on the Web. I just think he's wrong, or rather, that the places where Gonzo works are more limited than they seem at first glance. Both you and Hernani have suggested that consumer packaged goods, e.g. Coke and Jell-O, somehow "don't count", but CPG advertising is the majority of all advertising, so a revolution that doesn't change CPG doesn't really change the advertising landscape as a whole."

I cannot recall one single example of CPG broadcast advertising *on the web*: when you say broadcast I think "spam!".

Locke's point (as I perceive it) is a very simple one: people are paying less and less attention to broadcast media, and more and more attention to voice. Industries that rely on broadcast *alone* find that their target/eyeballs is shrinking and cost per *successful contact* (annoying people does not count) is growing like mad. They better pay attention to this shift or they will find themselves advertising to an empty audience, precisely because they cannot broadcast to the web.

Of course, this does not mean that everybody must dump broadcast and do *only* gonzo from this very minute.

Gaspar Torriero

Sunday, January 13, 2002


Good stuff.

I still think that you're more focussed on the quantitative than are most other folks here, who are here (at least in part, seemingly) because of the qualitative and therefore exhibit a marked preference for that side of the debate.

I also think that this whole debate at cross-purposes is illustrative of another of chris' observations about traditional marketing theory about "markets" versus the messy reality of engaging with real people. One of the reasons it seems that marketers prefer unidirectional methods is that they don't know how to converse with people! But, if this is so, it is hardly a criticism of conversational engagement.

However, I wasn't rebutting your original post (however much it may have seemed that way - I am far too fond of a good argument so sometimes my mode of expression is unthinkingly aggressive) I was only offering some alternative ways of thinking about the matter. They may or may not be valid, true, or even useful. Just try them on for a bit and see how they fit. If you don't like them, put them back.

I understand the math involved, and I recognise its legitimacy, particularly with regard to scaling issues as you described.

As far as being a book goes, well, I can tell you that very few people have ever offered to pay me for my writings. A more interesting question, or perhaps a question to which the answer might be more interesting, is: "Why is GM-WTWP a successful book?"

(relatively successful anyway, sorry Chris . . . . )

Ask Chris about the Amazon Sales Rankings and their relationship to the EGR letters his alter-ego produces. Ask him about the Sales Ranking of GM even before it was published.

If the number of successful books versus dogs is the be all and end all of quantifying the success of unidirectional methods, then by any objective measure book selling as a unidirecional method is a catastrophe! The ratio of decent product versus crap is overwhelmingly loaded on the crap side of the ledger.

But, of course, anyone (and particularly marketers) are entitled to claim that book publishing is a success because it is profitable. But whether or not marketing can or would want to claim responsibility for its gross inefficiency in terms of selling profitable books is concerned, is another question all together . . . . . . .

Movin' around
Like a knight, on the town
Well it ain't what you dance
It's the way you dance it.

- more from The Spinners

Clay, " come Gonzo Marketing is a book?" Royalties certainly. Noblesse oblige, probably. Rather than kvetching about the one-to-many versus interstitial influence models (not to be confused with "one too many versus interschtshul infre ahh you know whadd I mean" model) it probably behooves us to return to a perspective on the medium under discussion. The non-corporate PC user (70% of us have them in our US homes now) has an entirely different relationship to the medium than the magazine/newspaper reader or radio/television audience member. We are out here seeking... plane tickets, fruit trees, new chemotherapy ideas, assisted living alternatives for mom, software, and also entertainment. The net drives transaction costs down. It broadens market availability of products. And it provides idea-space for communities of interest to share information regarding products. So the numbers game may be an interesting but orthogonal perspective from which to view what's actually going on and what is possible. The blogsticker party comes to mind here. This site is getting lots of traffic and interaction. The scaling issues you brought up of course apply. And there's no score being kept with $(US). But the contagion seems to be there. It's a screaming meme and if there is commercial value, it will be different from the consumer packaged goods models. Or will it? I've been waiting for someone to come up with cyber green stamps, and maybe this is the foundation for that effort. Maybe not. Meanwhile, I think I will buy one of those nifty looking web TV cameras I see advertised after my visit to many websites. NOT!
Denver, I get that clocke thinks broadcast marketing doesn't work on the Web. I just think he's wrong, or rather, that the places where Gonzo works are more limited than they seem at first glance. Both you and Hernani have suggested that consumer packaged goods, e.g. Coke and Jell-O, somehow "don't count", but CPG advertising is the majority of all advertising, so a revolution that doesn't change CPG doesn't really change the advertising landscape as a whole.

The central dilemma of Gonzo, from my point of view, is scaling. You've suggested that every member of a 100 member micromarket is also a member of any number of other micromarkets. (This is the 'Small Words' structure, most rigorously described by Duncan Watts in a book of the same name, and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in 'Tipping Point'). So, starting from one person in one micromarket and the idea that "any number" is, say, 10, you are one hop from 1,000 people ("my friend says..."), 2 hops from 10,000 people, (A friend of a friend says...") and so on.

Now its easy to see, a la the old Clairol ads ("...and she tells two friends...") that this is in theory a fantastic way to spread the word about something. It is also easy to see that the actual effect is much more limited, for 3 reasons:

1. Not everyone in a micromarket will become an evangalist
2. The ones that do will be of varying effectiveness
3. As the group grows, the number of overlaps, where you reach people who have already been converted, will grow

These three characteristics make the shape of word-of-mouth a logistic curve (like a stretched out letter 'S') rather than a simple ever-upwards curve of explosive growth. In other words, for any infectious spread (viruses, memes, protocols, whatever) there is always an upper boundary.

So, to reach a million people (and remember, there are products used by a billion people, so a million is setting the bar pretty low) you would have to gather *everyone* four hops from you. Now what are the chances that 1 million people are going to become passionate about something because you are, which is to say because their friend's friend's friend's friend likes it? Nil, of course -- you can't even get all thousand of your putative one-hop friends to agree on anything. And once you start introducing inefficiency and non-takeup into the equation, Gonzo starts looking to me like a pretty resource-intensive way (esp when counting time as a resource) to get a million customers.

So let me propose a hypothesis: There are no products other than software that have ever reached a mass audience without some use of a broadcast (which is to say one-way, one-to-many) medium.

The same question, put another way: if uni-directional models are so bad, how come "Gonzo Marketing" is a book?