Tuesday
Oct302012

Why Disney's Acquisition of Lucasfilms Will Work

It was announced that Disney will be acquiring Lucasfilms. This is the latest in their shopping spree of premiere companies of talent and content. After years of producing failed titles (which leads to failed theme park rides), they made the smart move of acquiring Pixar and then Marvel. Now that they've added Lucasfilms to the fold, they'll be set for many years to come.
It was also announced that Kathleen Kennedy will be taking over for George Lucas in heading up Lucasfilms. Kathleen Kennedy has produced a lot of huge titles (Jurassic Park, Sixth Sense, Schindler's List), so she's a good one to take over the franchise. And it's obvious from reading the Steve Jobs biography that Disney needs Lucas Films, Pixar, and Marvel more than they need Disney. But Disney can provide a great outlet for them -- more (and permanent) Star Wars-themed Disney attractions, movie distribution, access to more TV outlets (ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC Family), and you will probably see Clone Wars move to Disney Channel when the Cartoon Network contract is up.
At the end of the day, as long as Lucas isn't directing the next movies, they can be great again. The best Star Wars film, Empire Strikes Back, was not directed by him. Let Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams have at both writing and directing them, and they could be amazing. As a Star Wars fan, I'm really looking forward at what's to come.
Monday
Oct012012

What Does the iPhone 5 Mean to You?

Check out my podcast interview with my colleagues Stephan Merkens and Patrick Donnelly on the updates to the new iPhone from Apple and what it means to companies and consumers.

Friday
Sep142012

Finally ... iPhone 5

I was so relieved to hear about the new iPhone 5 and its features. I almost felt like I was at the presentation while viewing Engadget's excellent live blog of the event. My excitement wasn't solely because of the fact that a new iPhone was coming out (although that can't be dismissed). I had a more pressing reason for my excitement. I really need one!

The iPhone I did have was the iPhone 4, which I was perfectly happy with. So much so that I decided it would be a good idea to take it with me when I went kayaking with my daughter at a lake in the Poconos. When the kayak started to get a little unsteady, I thought we'd better turn around, so I can put my iPhone back on the deck. And then *bloop* our kayak overturned, and my iPhone took a dip in the lake. My brother-in-law got it into a bag of rice to dry out, but the damage was done. It was dead (begin sad violins).

So I decided to resurrect my old iPhone 3GS. I figured, "I only need it to last for four months until the next iPhone is released." Of course, fates being tempted, it happened. I dropped the iPhone 3GS onto my friend's porch and *crack* went the screen:

Come on!! I decided to get an Invisible Shield screen cover to keep the glass in place, since the touch screen actually still worked. This, from a phone that runs like a 2-legged dog since I upgraded it to iOS 5. And in this last week of its life, since the iPhone 5 announcement, it seems to be running even slower ... almost like it's taunting me.

If you need me, I'll be standing in line next Friday morning at the Apple Store.

Tuesday
Sep042012

Dollar Shave Club

Hats off to the marketing team behind the Dollar Shave Club. They put together a brilliant marketing video on YouTube, and they hooked me. Immadiately after watching this funny -- yet catchy -- video, my next thought was, "Where do I sign up?" They managed to pull off a rare combination in a successful product-focused viral video: humor, relevance, good production quality, and a clear call to action. (Not to mention it's only 93 seconds long.)

 

Mind you, I'm one to do loads of research on a product prior to purchase, so I then took to Twitter to hear what others had to say about the Dollar Shave Club razors. After seeing some good feedback, I figured I'd give it a try. What was to lose? A Dollar? Being a Gillette guy for years (I'm a fan of their Fusion Power razor line), I was skeptical about the quality of the razors, so I opted for the $9 per month "Executive" razor for a true comparison. After trying out their six- (yes, six!) bladed razor, I can tell you it's a really good shave.

Here are some pictures of what I received in my first Dollar Shave Club shipment:

          

I'm predicting this new company will do well, if they can push a majority of their customers to the $6 or $9 per month deal. I'm guessing the $1 per month rate (including shipping and handling) is a loss leader for their more expensive plans. More important, what they've managed to do is make consumers realize that purchasing razor blades is a commodity business. It's a life-long commitment that doesn't need millions of dollars of advertising and pro athletes to promote it. It needs a catchy YouTube video and an attractive pricing model. This will make Gillette and Schick rethink their 100-year-old business models when Dollar Shave Club starts to take off.

And now the review:

Razor Ranking 1-10
Attribute Gillette Fusion Dollar Shave Club "Executive"
Smoothness of Shave 8 9
Closeness of Shave 9 7
Convenience 7 9
Price per Cartridge $3.95* $3.00

*Based on a 4-pack of Gillette Fusion Cartridges from Target.com

Saturday
May122012

Too Young for Facebook?

As a social marketer by profession, I counsel on the virtues of Facebook to many different people and companies. As a parent, I’m now faced with my oldest child (age 12) pleading for his own Facebook account.

My wife and I have decided that the answer, for the foreseeable future, is no. There were arguments for (from him) and against (from us), but ultimately the decision is ours. Since we do our best to reason with our children, I knew I had to come armed with a good argument for our position. For the sake of others on the fence when it comes to social media usage for children, I figured I’d share some of the research and counsel in this post.

The simplest and most direct case against this is Facebook’s terms of use. They clearly state that you should not create a Facebook profile if you are under 13. However, a recent study from New York University showed that 55% of parents of 12-year-olds say their child has a Facebook account. What’s more, 76% of those parents said that they helped create the account for their children. So is this age restriction an arbitrary, self-imposed rule from Facebook? No. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) dictates that online services employ the 13-and-over age restriction. As simple as that argument is, that’s the one that seemed to resonate most with our son. He simply didn’t want to break the rules.

The next argument we considered was one of safety. Allowing social media access to those too young to properly deal with it opens them to possible exposure to any number of dangers: pornography, profanity, violence, and – most disturbing – cyber-bullying. The tragic deaths of Megan Meier and Ryan Halligan have taught us that bullying takes on a more dangerous and public tone when it happens online. In fact, this was the subject of this episode of Glee.

The final argument is one that is least tangible or evident. It’s the future. These children who create and use Facebook accounts are leaving a digital footprint of their lives – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This footprint will most likely be checked by prospective colleges and later, employers. A quarter of U.S. colleges and half of corporate HR departments currently do this, and that practice will only increase. With all due respect to my 12-year-old, he and his friends can be idiots (no offense to actual idiots), and that idiocy will be laid out like a résumé from hell a decade from now.

All this adds up to him waiting for – and griping about – a Facebook account that must wait for now. And I suppose I should present his counter-argument ... that timeless classic, “But all my friends have it.