Archive for the ‘2009’ Category

GOING ON DEFENSE

November 30, 2009

Just as the labels took-on fans in the music business, it started with a lawsuit in telecom as well.  AT&T sued Verizon for “false claims” believing it was Verizon’s advertising and not AT&T’s service that was hurting the company.  But as a very long time AT&T customer (yes they’ve gone through several name changes in the process) I can tell you that Verizon found a real weakness in their competitor and exploited it.  Verizon’s coverage, service, whatever you want to call it is better than AT&T from my experience.  AT&T needed to go on the defensive with their marketing…a long time ago.  It took till mid-November to get something from them.

Verizon was eating AT&T’s lunch for them.  Check out this for creativity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JgrBtn8XdU&feature=player_embedded.  So AT&T hired Luke Wilson as their spokesperson and finally went on the defensive while at the same time highlighting their network’s strengths.  If you watch NFL football, chances are you have seen these commercials.   

In Live Entertainment, we could go on defense too.  What if we were to create similar ads where stars compare and contrast other forms of entertainment to live?  For example, would you rather play a video game alone in your room, even if you are playing with other gamers over the internet, or would you rather go and sing, scream, dance, eat, drink, and have fun with your friends at a concert?  Bono said something at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concert on HBO (I wasn’t at the concert) that really said it all…”Rock-n-Roll is Liberation”.  What gamer could put that kind of cherry on top?

Have you seen the ads for California tourism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md69zCJKD1c?  How about the creative radio spots for Vegas?  The fact that our business isn’t investing in itself is a testimony to why we have an attrition problem.  We are competing with entertainment with huge marketing budgets.  We can’t do that.  Yet it’s Live Entertainment that has the amazing communal experiences… and cool stars that have a direct pipeline to fans. 

Let’s start now! It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  It could just be a web/Twitter/blog thing.  Watch how many tickets fly out the door!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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I LOVE FORD

November 18, 2009

Ok so although they’re not currently giving the attention my food and music fest deserves (Even though it was literally made for them), I’m really falling in love with Ford these days.  Through innovation, design, and in most cases, good marketing communications, the company has not only avoided the pitfalls of their two Detroit cousins GM and Chrysler, they just announced a third-quarter profit of nearly $1 billion ($997 million according to their press release).  So here are a few of the important lessons I’ve pulled out of Ford’s transformation.

1) Design and Innovation are key – Have you seen the new Ford Edge or Flex?  How about the Taurus?  The new Taurus is so well designed, so beautiful; you will be asking to drive one the next time you have a chance to rent it instead of asking for a Toyota.  And watch out for the new Fusion Hybrid, as it will be taking market share away from Toyota and Honda as consumers run out of reasons not to buy American. 

2) Separate yourself from the pack – With the exception of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, Ford steered away from advertising that speaks to the recessionary times as many of their competitors including Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, Hyundai have.  They also didn’t take government bailout money which gave consumers confidence.

3) Have a good spokesperson – If you are going the way of celebrity endorser, pick one that fits your brand.  Mike Rowe fits Ford like a glove…even better than O.J.’s.  Mike is the perfect American “everyman”.  His shows such as “Dirty Jobs” have a need for vehicles like Ford Trucks.  Rowe started out just hawking for that division, but as may have seen from the new ads, he can sell anything with the Ford badge on it.

4) Expand your market – Look around your town and I bet you will notice more Ford’s than you have in the past.  It seems that those who might have purchased a more expensive “prestige” vehicle a few years ago are very happy with Ford’s new products, price points, and value.  Remember that value isn’t just about price.  Ford is delivering a better product at a competitive price point compared with others in the category. 

5) Legacy is important in down times – Consumers are looking to purchase from companies they believe they can trust.  If you have been around for 100-years (unless you are GM), one gets the feeling there is a reason for it.  Their years in business give you a comfort level.  Ford Motor Company has been known since its inception as an innovative, forward thinking company.  Henry Ford made cars affordable for every American, transformed modern-day production with the Model-T assembly line, and through the wood scraps from that factory, founded Kingsford Charcoal.  Where cam we find that kind of innovation in our business?  We have still yet to roll-out paperless ticketing!

6) Market the experience – You might be sick of hearing me say this, but our marketing sucks!  Check-out the new Axe body spray commercials.  You get what the product does for you…NOT how it smells, how much it costs, where it is available…nothing like that. Consumers purchase based on an emotional response.  How are they going to get emotional about hearing an artist’s new single they don’t know, followed by a bunch of quick information about sponsors, pre-sales, sales, locations, who is promoting the show…and of course the famous “call to action”.  It is a new world…for over 20-years now.  It is time we catch-up. 

Full disclosure, I haven’t owned a Ford vehicle for many years. It doesn’t stop me from sitting up to take notice at the great changes they have made…and how easy it would be for those of us in Live and Branded Live Entertainment to follow their lead.  

How about we each come up with 3-new innovations in 2010?

Speak with you soon…

Jim

THE U2 EXPERIENCE

October 26, 2009

I wanted the next LiveWorks Newsletter to focus on marketing but needed a little inspiration.  It came in the form of a radio commercial for U2.  What caught my attention was that it didn’t sound like one produced by our business.  It sounded professional.  Then I realized that’s because it was paid for by Wal-Mart…to me that’s actually a good thing.  And then I read what Lefsetz wrote on U2 last night and I was a bit bummed http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2009/10/25/u2-360/.  Is Bob for the tour and U2 or not?

Back to the ad…it was just awesome.  What I got out of it was that the biggest band in the world was coming to down…they had new music…a new album @ Wal-Mart…and of course the “360 Tour“.  It sounded exciting, like you needed to be a part.  It was the U2 Experience!

For years I’ve harped on marketing the concert experience versus tickets going on-sale on a day and time.  U2’s tour is called 360 so right away you get a sense of what you are in for.  The radio spot comes on and envelopes you in U2 music, the band’s show and tour, the new album, and where you can get it (available at Wal-Mart).  The Lefsetz Letter’s opening last night almost took all the wind out of my sails as he pointed out that the biggest news on the U2 tour was the stage.  This is great!

With U2 360, you know you are in for an experience.  I love U2 and have since I saw them in high school when they played for free at SUNY Albany.  Now I love their marketing.  They know how to connect the dots.  Do you?  If you aren’t sure, let me recommend someone who does. 

Years ago, I had the good fortune of working with Jolene Pellant while she was a VP of Marketing for what was then Clear Channel Entertainment.  She had passion, knowledge, tenacity and relationships.  Jolene was willing to go the extra mile.  Cut to this past spring.  We needed help with the marketing around The Great American Food & Music Fest.  We needed a quarterback.  I called Jolene who now runs a company called “Yes Dear” with her partner Mike Gormley.  Within days everything was organized and all pistons firing at the same time.  The Fest had a well-organized plan that was implemented step-by-step by Yes Dear along with our “Best in the Business” PR team, Elaine Garza and Jada Williams from Giant Noise

So, here is three pieces of advice.

  1. If your marketing needs help call Yes Dear @ (310) 203-9007 and speak with Jolene or Mike
  2. Need the best PR people for festivals and events, call Giant Noise @ (512) 382-9017
  3. If you are a U2 fan, go see U2…if you can afford to

Don’t forget that if you have any plans to go to Aspen Live (Dec. 10-12) this year, I really need to hear from you soon.  jim@theagencygroupevents.com or (310) 385-2800.

Speak with you soon…

Jim

DINNER CLUB UPDATE

October 6, 2009

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7th’s meeting of the Dinner Club in Los Angelesis postponed due to unforseen circumstances…BUT New York is on thanks to Gayle Miller. If you would like to meet up with people from our industry (hopefully other businesses too), get a dialogue going…socialize….share ideas, etc, please don’t miss another chance. 

The Details are:

ASPEN LIVE NYC OCTOBER MEET UP:

Date Weds, OCTOBER 7, 2009

Time7p-9:30p

Where Social Bar – The Loft

795 8th Avenue (b/w 48th & 49th street)

New York, NY 10019

212-459-0643

http://www.socialbarnyc.com

Note No minimum; everyone responsible for their own tab; food & drink available

Subway: A, C, E, N, R, Q, W, 1, 2, 3, 7 trains to Times Square;

N, R, W to 49th & B’way; and

C, E to 50th & 8th

Kindly RSVP to: rockinhorse@mac.com , by Tues, 10/6 2p, if possible.

Sorry I don’t have more.  I did hear from my brother, Mark Kates and Adam Klein, that the first meeting of the Boston Dinner Club went very well.  Hopefully we will see that group grow as well. 

Thanks and I’ll speak with you soon…

Jim

LONG-TERM VS. SHORT-TERM

September 30, 2009

Every news outlet reported today on GM’s announcement to kill another of their brands, Saturn.  It seemed by everything I’ve read that Penske buying Saturn was a “sure thing”, but seems they’ve had second thoughts.  Now the brand that pulled-off one of the marketing coups of the century, by turning a car recall into a party with their first “Saturn Homecoming”, is closing after 23-years in business.  Guess GM had to make the move, but doesn’t it make you wonder why they were running so much advertising for the brand knowing they could be scuttling it any minute?  That’s what free government money gets you.  No accountability!  Maybe we are seeing a little of that in our business too.

One of the lessons they teach in the military is to “Prioritize Long-Term Over Short-Term Goals”.  They preach the same lessons in most MBA programs I’m sure, although it would seem that the folks on Wall Streethave a little trouble keeping those straight.  Anyway as an example in LT. CMDR. Jon Cannon’s book, “Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals”, he talks about tracking a dozen terrorists in a particular region of the world.  If the terrorists knew the Seals were watching, they would pull up stakes and move.  If you take out only one or just a few of them by moving too quickly, the troops risk of missing the others and giving them a chance to re-group.  The solution of course is to wait for the opportunity to take out all 12 terrorists simultaneously.

In our business today, we are seeing a lot of short-term versus long-term thinking and this is no way to succeed!  To go back to the military for a second, sure there are times when short-term is all you can think about.  Trying to survive in a fox hole surrounded by enemy troops during the Tet Offensive would probably be one of those times.  But once that enemy has been pushed back past a safe perimeter, it is time for a long-term plan to win the battle…then the war.  That was probably our problem in Vietnam, and now.  The U.S. didn’t understand the loses Ho Chi Minh was willing to take.  They didn’t really calculate how many years the Vietnamese people had been at war, how extensive their tunnels, supply lines and fortifications were.  Instead we just had what we believed was a long-term strategy, “Stop Communism”.   The American people really didn’t understand what that meant. 

Back in the day, record labels let artists take time to develop.  An act wasn’t expected to break until their third or fourth album.  Promoters, managers, and agents used to look at a band and say “in 10-years they will be playing arenas.”  Now we expect that by an artist’s second tour.  Jazz Fest, Coachella, Warped Tour, all great businesses that we admire.  All lost money for their first few years.  Sure we all get lucky sometimes as Tom Petty once said, but mapping out your long-term goals with those you work with will give everyone a sense of purpose and direction.  Bump in the road, you can change course but the long-term plan is still the mission.  There is nothing worse for moral than your team hearing about your company’s plans, directions, new products, etc, from someone other than you.  How many times lately have you heard from employees at certain companies, “what do I know, I only work here?”

Quarterly earnings are for chumps.  Sure leaders have to pay attention to them, especially at a publically held company.  But for a second think about the beginning of Jack Welch’s tenure at General Electric.  Forget whether you think he did a good job, whether he cooked the books, whatever.  At first, Welch was far from the shoe-in for the job.  Once he got the job, he was going to take GE in places it had never been before and at the same time sell-off parts of the company that made them who they were (such as small appliances).  Selling Wall Street on Welch’s long-term plans for GE wasn’t easy.  You can imagine the look on investor’s faces the first time they heard the words “GE Capital”.  Making investors and Wall Street believe in his long-term plan is exactly what Welch did.  He showed how with investment (we won’t call in sacrifice) in the future… and education to his team, the street, investors, the press, and anyone who would listen, the long-term goals of transforming GE could be achieved thereby making it more profitable for years to come.   

No reason why you can’t try that today.  Instead of the accounting person in your office asking for your yearly or quarterly numbers…how about a 5-year plan?  And not just the numbers, but how you plan on achieving those numbers?  When Michael Rapino first took over what is now Live Nation he spoke a lot about “value proposition”.  Michael told us how he was going to re-invest in the customer experience.  Then Wall Street and quarterly numbers got in the way and the new message became…”well everyone has at least one or two artists they want to see in a year”.  I don’t know about you, but the Value Proposition stuff sounds better to me. 

Speak with you soon…

Jim

CRUSH IT!!!

September 22, 2009

A few weeks ago Bill Maher did a special edition of his HBO show Real Time by pulling away from the program’s usual format and only interviewing two guests.  One of those guests was Bill Moyers.  Moyers, one of the most respected journalists of our time spoke about what is needed from our leaders in Washington (but it applies to everyone), Passion.

As an example of the passion needed today, Bill Moyers brought up John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech from 1960.  Specifically the lines “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Moyers points out that if President Obama asked Americans to do the same today…to sacrifice for their country…he probably wouldn’t see a second term (sad to hear but probably true).  Yet at the same time, it is exactly what is needed.  The President was elected because he gave Americans, and to some degree the world…Hope.  You can do the same in your office.

Many see mixing passion with business as unprofessional.  It is misunderstood.  I bet Jim Cramer was seen as crazy by “the establishment” on Wall Street before he got his own TV show.  And I have to believe that was the case with my friend Gary Vaynerchuk (and Kramer’s friend too)…who wrote a book about it called Crush It http://crushitbook.com

Crush It calls for readers to cash-in on their passions.  And who would know better than Gary.  He took a small family run business and turned his passion for wine and Business 2.o into what is now VaynerMedia;  a multi-million dollar enterprise that encompasses retail (The Wine Library) in New Jersey, online retail (winelibrary.com), publishing (He has two books @ age 33), and Gary’s widely popular web TV show, Winelibrarytv.com.  He has even added travel to the portfolio with his second cruise, The Crush It Cruise http://www.crushitcruise.com (full disclosure, The Agency Group Events produces this cruise with our partner Mike London).  Where are the Gary Vaynerchuks of our business?

We saw passion in our heroes…from what is now an almost forgotten business.  People like Bill Graham (anyone within 100′ knew he had passion), Mo & Lenny @ Warner Bros., Frank Barcelona, and of course Ahmet.  Their passions were the acts, fans, and the business of music.  My personal heroes are Abraham Lincoln (honor …and he fought for what he believed in), Bill Graham (devotion to fans and those that play for them), Walt Disney (details in creating the experience for fans) and P.T. Barnum (his ability to communicate with consumers).  All four men had passion and spoke passionately for what they loved.  Today we all seem to be weighed down by the quarterly numbers of every other mature, consolidated industry.  Yet for most of you, the numbers have nothing to do with why you got into this business. 

It is time for all of you to stand-up and become the JFK’s of your offices!  What we all need right now are leaders we can believe in.  Ones that inspire us to do great things (JFK wanted to put a man on the moon)…so we will want to sacrifice…be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Bill Moyers is a great man and he has inspired me.  Bill reminded me of the things we can do when given hope…when we are part of a “Great Group”…when we are pushed to succeed vs. torn down.  Bill, Bill, and Gary reminded me to Crush It. 

Speak with you soon…

Jim

CLUB PASSPORT UPDATES…

September 20, 2009

It is good to know that all of you are alive and well.  The last LiveWorks Newsletter on Live Nation’s new Passport got a lot of you writing… whether it by email or Facebook.  In that time, I’ve learned a lot.  First from our friends Debbie Speer at Pollstar and Jim Steen from Live Nation who informed me that I had it wrong on the number of venues in each market that are participating.  It is all Live Nation clubs (and some small theatres), not one per city.  Then came the rest…

Going back to the last LiveWorks Newsletter https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/livenations-passport/ again, we talked about our conversations at the Aspen Live Conference (this year’s dates are Dec. 10-12 @ the St. Regis, Aspen…please call (310) 385-2800 and ask for Jim for more info) regarding “Season Passes” at clubs to help grow developing artists.  More specifically, the problems agents and managers might have with this concept.  Well, look no further than the Live Nation’s website for your answers. 

For instance, take LA where I live.  The Wiltern Theatre has 28-shows remaining this year according the calendar on their website.  Of those, Club Passports can only be used at three; Billy Squier, Enanitos Verdes, and Moby.  The House of Blues Sunset’s percentage is better.  According to their website, of the 25-shows (excluding Sunday Gospel Brunches) remaining on their schedule, the Club Passport is good for 9.  But before you get too gitty, the “new music” fans will be discovering include Better Than Ezra, Dinosaur Jr., The Sippy Cups (guessing this is either a kid’s group or a new fad from The Hills), and K.C. & The Sunshine Band.  Looks like not too many managers or agents bought into the concept of having the Club Passports competing against their artist’s hard tickets.  I’m not sure what’s going on in the real world, but many of you wrote screaming foul and pointing at Live Nation.  Is it really them?

I’m going to stay out on my limb and continue to say that no matter what, Live Nation’s Club Passport is good for our business.  If it does nothing but generates publicity for Live Nation, that’s still drawing attention to Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment. It still gets a dialogue going about concerts.  How about a few more of you sign-on with Live Nation’s program and see where it gets you?  What are you doing to help after all? 

It is time to innovate…and I for one think we should start with our marketing!  Who is going to have the first TV or Radio spot that looks and sounds like those of “national brands”?  When are we going to see our industry take a serious look at communicating with consumers?  Not talking at them but with them.

Let’s get a movement going!  It can start at our next “Dinner Club”.  The summer is just about officially over now and it is time to get to work.  How about Wednesday, October 7th for our next Dinner Club meetings?  For those who have never been, it is time you came.  Put the date in your calendar and stay tuned for the times and locations in your city (some locations may choose a different date too) or area.  It isn’t so much about dinner as it is drinks and socializing.  Sharing ideas face-to-face.  You know, LIVE!!!

Till then…speak with you soon…

Jim