Category Archives: Spin Williams

Back Seat Games Set To Move Forward

Today’s post comes from marketing whiz Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

Wow!

I’m just back from a 9 day car trip through Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Illinois, and boy, is my butt tired!

There are some big states on that list, and it takes a lot of sitting to get through them. Good thing meetings are my business, because my hindquarters were already road-ready before I left!

Along the way, I had lots of time to think about the coming transportation revolution, when autonomous cars will do most or all of the driving for us. Different states will write different laws to govern this, but my guess is that in most places our job as the “driver” will have some very basic elements:

  • Don’t be drunk
  • Don’t be asleep

Mostly, summer road trips of the future will expand the boredom of the back seat to the entire car, since your only real job will be to sit and watch the scenery go by.

Are there marketing opportunities there? You bet!

When we kicked this around at The Meeting That Never Ends, everybody agreed that backseat car games are due for a renaissance.

In the self-driving car future, everybody will be able to give all their attention to classics like 20 Questions, I Spy, and License Plate Poker.

But once the “driver” is able to swivel her seat and face the backseat passengers as the car picks its own way through road construction around Wisconsin Dells, we predict there will be a whole slew of new games the group can play, including card games and board games.

All we have to do is figure out what the breakaway hit will be in the realm of Whole Family Backseat Car Games, design it, own it, and then wait for technology to catch up.

Any ideas?  

The “You” in Menu

Header Image: “Culex sp larvae” by (Image: James Gathany, CDC)  Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Today’s post comes from marketing maven Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

One of the top restaurant marketing trends of 2015 is locally sourced, organic foods.

If it’s local, people are fascinated. Why? Because a lot of them have no idea food can be grown nearby. That all connects to the concept of going “out” for dinner, which the baby boomers learned to think of as an exotic treat when they were growing up in the hardscrabble 1940’s and ’50’s.

“Out” was always a better place to get a meal than at boring old “in”, where mom was likely to serve up the same gray meatloaf or chicken hotdish again tonight.

“Out” might bring you an exotic choice like chicken wings, or at least the chance to have a milk shake with your meal.  The chances of that went way up if dad ordered a beer.

The message to impressionable youngsters of that era – the farther “out” you went, the better the meal.

But yesterday as we were going over the latest science stories at The Meeting That Never Ends we saw this bit of research about how mosquitoes choose who they’ll bite.  The clear indication is that the little pointy-nosed critters are lured by something genetic that is shared among families!

The assumption here is that it’s a fundamental element of body odor.   Identical twins were found to be equally attractive to the tiny bloodsuckers of summer.

A couple of great marketing ideas quickly came out of this.

My favorite – identify particularly scrumptious bloodlines and present them as “decoy guests” for hire at high-buck summertime parties. If we know mosquitoes love those Johnsons, or just can’t get enough of the Herrera sisters, hire them to draw the swarms away from the more important invitees.

The downside?

Having to segregate the bait people from the rest, and possible lawsuits over West Nile Virus.

But then we realized something else – if we completely disregard the scientific method and turn this research on its head, it could be an early indication that the reverse is true and people also have genetic predispositions to like certain foods!

For restaurateurs, that means there is this tantalizing future scenario – when guests arrive they check in at the hostess stand and are given a quick DNA test to determine their pre-ordained dining tendencies.

That person then receives a menu tailored to their genetic food preference profile! Imagine – a restaurant that could hand you a menu where you’ll like absolutely EVERYTHING!

Would you go there?

Of course you would, as long as your family doesn’t also have an inherent fussiness over things like genetic privacy.

Our bet is that most people will be perfectly fine with it, and the establishment could also work some side agreements with marketing firms to get a secondary income on the data!

Yes, we realize that people get particularly overwrought about misuse of personal information. But for the most part, when our data is harvested we don’t even know about it, so the pain is nearly invisible.

The only obvious downside we see for consumers in this would be a tendency for restaurants with outdoor seating to put especially tasty people in a separate area, to draw away the attention of any needle-nosed intruders!

Yours in Marketing,
Spin

Do you come from an especially flavorful family?

NIT Picking with Spin Williams

Header photo from flickr by Jason Lam

Today’s post comes from trend watcher, deal maker and marketing genius Spin Williams, who is always in residence at TMTNE (The Meeting That Never Ends).

Hello Economic Strivers!

Today I’m really excited about pizza!  That’s why it’s my pick for NIT (New Investment Tip) of the week!

At TMTNE we talked about how millennials are absolutely hooked on pizza! They eat it all the time – at school, at home, at parties, at sporting events, for breakfast, as a snack – pizza is the ten-cent hamburger of Now!

Faced with this indigestible fact, nay-sayers and grumpy problem-posers ask why? But I think judging others is a time-waster for self-important snobs. Face facts. The kids have a Pizza Jones. So let’s move quickly to take advantage!

That’s what the Minnesota Twins are doing! They’re planning to sell a Bloody Mary at the ballpark this season with a cold slice of pepperoni stuck in it. What a brilliant idea, because there’s lots of pizza left over from yesterday’s game, and alcoholic beverages need something extra to make people interested!

Not really, but you’ve got to admire the urge to give it that special Value Added feature.

Our nation is paved with pizza coast to coast. And that’s a good thing, because pizza is durable, just like asphalt.

Especially Domino’s.

How big is this? Super big!  When I look at emerging trends, I see pizza everywhere.

  • Young people are driving less.
    That means their food has to come to them, and nothing travels faster by car (or drone) than pizza!
  • Young people are moving back in with their parents.
    That means continued family food chaos – the kitchen is always open – for pizza!
  • Young people are less religious.
    Modern hotdish = pizza!
  • Young people don’t carry cash.
    What’s flat, fits in your pocket, and is valued everywhere?

Pizza is our past, our present and it’s a big part of our shared future because it’s the closest thing to money that you can actually eat. That’s why pizza is my latest NIT pick!

Yours in marketing,
Spin

What’s your favorite pizza?

The Walking Boom

Today’s post comes from idea maker and marketing guru Spin Williams, who is always in residence at the Meeting That Never Ends.

You heard it here first – walking is coming back!

We were delighted to read the results of this  latest study by some Swedish people  about how good it is for your mind and body when you get up from your desk and go out for a thirty minute walk at lunchtime.

This was another case of the Swedes verifying common sense healthy things that really make a difference in your life – they’re so predictable! Maybe that’s because they already do these things – so taking the walk is one kind of workout and then bragging about it is a separate and equally strenuous exercise in self congratulations – it’s Doubly Aerobic!

Here at the Meeting That Never Ends, we endorse the concept but we’re far too busy to take a lunchtime walk. We stay at our desks – otherwise how would we ever catch up on the tasks we’re supposed to be doing over the lunch hour? Time is money! Maybe those Scandinavian countries can afford a government-mandated break for thin crisp breads and organic cheeses, but in America, we work!

The study says a walk will improve your mood an clear your mind, as if that’s a good thing.

What they don’t realize is this – the American workplace thrives on bitterness and resentment fed by physical inactivity. We became a world power through focused decision-making by a long string of cloudy-minded, angry jerks who would have come up with something so much more civilized and European if they’d only stood up for a while and moved around! That’s why we’re number one – a heady cocktail of spite and willful ignorance!

But all of us at the meeting agreed – there’s no resisting the power of group-think. That’s why we decided to try to get out in front of this walking-at-lunch trend.

The best new product idea to come out of the meeting is a strap-on human feedbag with a built-in pedometer, so you can count your steps and count your calories at the same time! Test name – Active Buffet! We’ll take this to market at about the same time Apple comes out with its new iWatch!

No time to waste. Grasp opportunity!

Yours in marketing,
Spin

Where’s your favorite place to take a walk?

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Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

DNA – Y = UH OH

For a long time we have had plenty of strong health-related arguments to support the idea that smoking is hazardous, but some people persist in lighting up regardless.

Now comes a new bit of information for men that might convince even hardcore smokers that there is a price to pay in lighting up – the loss (in men) of the Y chromosome.

So what, you ask? Women don’t have a Y chromosome and they get along just fine with their two X’s.

Indeed they do, but that’s the point, since women tend to live longer than men. Guys, these researchers think smoking away your “Y” may leave you exposed to cancer.

Which, in a weird way, is good news if you remember the following Trail Baboon post from almost exactly a year ago. It’s one of the most popular articles on this site, and it still resonates, especially now that men’s disparaged “Y” seems to finally have some value.

The post comes from marketing whiz Spin Williams, a wheeler-dealer who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

I’m not at liberty to say who made the offer, but  we heard from a very well-known genes manufacturer who was shopping around the famous Y chromosome for a possible takeover.

x_and_y_chromosomes

Naturally, we considered it. The Y is a well known brand name in the chromosome industry, making up a significant portion of all the chromosomes out there. It comes in second only to the X chromosome, which is the runaway market leader. In fact, the X is so reliable and effective, it has a 100% market penetration. Some people love the X chromosome so much, they have two! But there is a foothold – around half the population has at least one X and a Y. It was a bit disappointing to us to learn that very few people have two Y chromosomes, and we noted that as a possible marketing goal, should we decide to do the deal.

Doing our due diligence, we discovered that the Y was for sale because its maker has come to the realization that the chromosome is almost worthless, having been shown through scientific studies to contribute very little to any sense of individual well-being or overall usefulness. Most organizations considering a takeover would have walked away at this point, but my experience has shown me that marketing is more powerful than science. As proof, I offer the fact the we still have a tobacco industry! The value of any particular thing is in the eye of the beholder, and there is solid survey information to indicate that most Y chromosome users love and defend it simply because they already have one, and not because of any inherent benefits it may bring to the table.

And there’s a sizable portion of the chromosome-consuming public that doesn’t understand the product and doesn’t know which brand it prefers.

So in spite of the Y chromosome being inferior, we felt certain we could develop a marketing plan that would boost brand loyalty and make the Y seem more fresh and hip than it does today. Whether we would get to a point where X-only consumers might actually feel some envy for those with a Y was hotly debated at the meeting, with one side expressing certainty that such envy was impractical and impossible, and the other group adamant that Y envy pretty much drives all decision making by X’s. It turns out one of the side effects of having a Y is an outsized enthusiasm for the supposed benefits of Y-ness that X’ers don’t generally seem to share.

Similarly, it was the Y-friendly crowd that was all Gung-ho for immediately pulling the trigger on this deal and sorting out the consequences later. The double-X’s in the room were feeling less impulsive, constantly asking ‘How do we monetize this?’, ‘Where’s the benefit?’ and other fun-stifling questions like that.

Because there was no getting around this fundamental conflict, we walked away from the deal. First, though, we made a surprise bid for the X chromosome, thinking a seller in the mood to divest one of His low-performing properties might take the bait on an unexpected left-field offer for the most popular genetic product in the world.

That was a non-starter, but we all had a good laugh over it.

What is your most prized genetic trait?

Finger Business

Today’s post comes from marketing genius Spin Williams, who is always engaged in The Meeting That Never Ends.

At The Meeting That Never Ends last night we all looked at a photo that’s all over Twitter – a middle aged woman is standing next to a young man. The two of them are gesturing towards each other in that jokey way people do when they want the picture to be about the fact that they are in the same frame with THIS person.

We all thought it was charming, but the ensuing kerfuffle over Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, KSTP-TV, and #Pointergate raises an important question about your fingers.

Who owns pointing?

KSTP and some folks connected with the Minneapolis Police Department would have us believe that when you raise your thumb and direct your index finger at the person standing on the side of your body opposite that  hand, you are pledging allegiance to a group of selfish, scared, violent bullies who have taken over complete cultural control of that gesture.

No, not a media corporation. A neighborhood gang!

What got us excited was the potential of it all. What if a Minneapolis gang DOES own cross-body pointing? That would be an awesome marketing opportunity! And what about all the other gestures and multiple ways of arranging body parts? There would be a sudden “hand rush” to buy up all the possibilities. Why would anyone go to the trouble of dealing drugs and murdering if they could sue people instead over the way they arrange their fingers?

We asked our staff lawyer, Britta Mandamus, to look into it. She focused on her phone for 30 seconds and then came back with this conclusion – “You can’t trademark a hand gesture. The Internet says ‘No’.

That settled, we calmed down and moved on to other business but a minute later Britta interrupted to say “The Internet is contradicting itself – maybe you can.”

That got our juices flowing again! Immediately we started talking about taking steps to gain control of gestures and postures like that “thumbs up” and “peace”, along with that fingers-spinning-around-the-ears “crazy” signal everybody loves, and my personal favorite, arms akimbo.

We even talked about how much finger business we’d have to do before we could file a copyright infringement suit against The Pointer Sisters and the Poynter Institute.

But in the middle of that hopeful conversation Britta dashed our dreams with the news that you have to turn your gesture into a printed logo before you can protect it.

In other words, the photo that got us all excited at the marketing possibilities of hand gestures would have to be put on an “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt before we could make any money.

If you had seen our slumped postures, downcast eyes and frowny expressions in that moment, you would have wished you could trademark all of them, for they spoke volumes.

Sadly, not every day brings a victory.

Yours in Marketing,
Spin

What gesture is your trademark?