The technology that’s meant to serve us sometimes comes back to bite us.
Imagine a perspective employer enters your name in a Google search and the autocomplete feature offers suggestions such as “sex offender” or “pedophile.” Maybe someone with the same name fits those descriptions — or maybe the Google feature just made a poor choice. Either way, you’re not likely to get that job.
Something similar recently happened to a Japanese man. Google’s Instant Search linked his name to crimes and his employer fired him. The man claims he didn’t commit any crimes and now he can’t find another job. He took Google to court claiming an invasion of privacy. A Tokyo court recently agreed with him and ordered Google to stop the use of its Instant Search feature.
Google of course disagrees and says that as a U.S. company it won’t change its business practices due to Japanese laws. The problem the man suffered, says Google, wasn’t intentional or the result of a malicious company employee. The Instant Search uses impersonal algorithms to suggest the most popular searches.
Instant Search is a cool tool that I’ve used many times. But this story led me to check out my name. Just to play it safe, you might want to check out yours. Fortunately, mine came back clean. I hope yours does, too.
Follow me on Twitter @jdaum
Mondelēz – the new brand name soon-to-replace the historic Kraft brand, is a bit of a mouthful.
In case you’re wondering how to pronounce the new brand name to be slapped on Kraft Foods’ global snacks business later this year, the company says it should be pronounced “Mohn-dah-LEEZ.” That little squiggly line above the last ‘e,’ that’s a macron – and it’s supposed to make sure you pronounce the new brand name with an “eez” instead of an “ayse.” Got that?!
Let’s go beyond the obvious recognition challenges that come with changing your brand’s name from a monosyllabic, five-letter word (Kraft), to a made-up word with three syllables and a macron, a macron! As a college-educated English major, I have no clue how a macron functions – forget the vast majority of Americans that have no idea what sound a squiggly line is supposed to help them pronounce.
Diane Brady at Businessweek raised a great point regarding the rebrand – most journalists (the people who’ll be covering your products and news, Kraft) don’t even have a macron on their keyboard (or know what it is without grabbing a dictionary). That’s a problem, because most news coverage of the new branding is already failing to include the symbol that’s so integral to the new name.
Apparently Kraft spent several weeks searching for a new name before deciding on Mondelēz. Maybe they should have spent several months looking for something newer, fresher and easier to pronounce instead?
Rebranding a multi-national company famous for producing household favorites such as Cadbury, Ritz crackers, Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies is no easy task. It’s also something that shouldn’t be taken lightly – we’re sure Kraft, I mean Mondelēz, has done it’s market research, but we just can’t see Mondelēz Macaroni & Cheese becoming a household name any time soon.
- Marrissa (Twitter: @marrissam)
Image courtesy: AllSpammedUp.com
I will never buy a Lint Lizard, a Magic Jack, a Pimsleur language program or Orgreenic Cookware. If, like me, you have an email address that has been around for a while and has also been listed as a contact on a website, you probably can make the connection between these brands. The marketers behind these products all use email to sell them. And by “use” email – I mean USE email. They are spammers by any other name and I don’t just get one or two emails a day. I get 10 to 20 or more a day from some of these brands.
I know there are spam blockers to take care of overzealous e-mailers, but they aren’t perfect and all too often I have had them snag important email from clients or trusted vendors. I can take care of most of my spam on my PC by marking it as spam and having it sent straight to my junk email box. But, when it comes to my iPhone, it’s another story. I have to delete each piece of spam by hand. Most iPhone users can empathize with the frustration I feel as I wade through 200 plus emails, weeding out the spam just to get to the 10 emails I need to review – a process repeated several times through the day.
I realize there isn’t much I can do to stem the tide of unwanted advertising. I can’t get on a “do not email” list (although there is a germ of an idea here) and trying to unsubscribe doesn’t seem to help at all. But, there is one thing that I can do. One way that I can show my disgust for this annoying marketing tactic – and that is to never (I mean never) buy one of these products. The Lint Lizard could be the most amazing household tool ever invented, but I will not purchase one. I would rather have lint flowing out of my house to the point that it looks like a giant Q-tip before I give these email vultures my business.
So does spam sell products or “unsell” them as it has with me? A recent article in The Consumerist supports my case. It highlights how some retailers are realizing that when it comes to promotional emails, less is more. Responsible retailers such as Nicole Miller have found that going from sending out three email ads a week to one has decreased its unsubscribe rate and increased its open rate from 15 to 40 percent. The company has also seen the percentage of online sales that began with an email grow from 10 to 17 percent.
I know why the marketers of Lint Lizard and Orgreenic Cookware do what they do. They do it for one simple reason – it works. They obviously get enough people to buy their products by sending out a deluge of email each day. This week they are selling cookware and lint cleaners and next week it will be another hot product overwhelming my inbox with offers. They are looking for a quick sale, not long-term customers. Most (smart) companies realize that current customers are like gold and running them off is a serious mistake.
If you are sending regular email to your customers it might be time to review your process. Ask yourself: are you really targeting your email blasts – that is sending your customers email that provides them with valuable offers or information? And do you have an easy way of letting customers opt out of promotional emails?
Reviewing your marketing email practices could help you prevent turning existing customers into “non-customers.” I just hope that Nordstrom doesn’t turn to email spam as a selling tool – I would hate to have to give up my shoe addiction.
Image credit: Duffey Communications, Inc.
After review of 927 proposals, a pretty extensive voting process and much hand-wringing, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has finally ‘re-defined’ the definition of public relations. After more than a century of existence, we wonder why PRSA chose now as the time to slap a definition on what exactly it is that PR professionals do, especially in a time when the day-to-day practice of “PR” has never been more fluid.
So what, you ask, is the new definition of PR? The winning definition, as selected by almost 1,500 voters: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Whether you agree with the new definition, or not, the process of redefining PR certainly has the industry going. And while defining PR is important, the truly important question is, “Do our clients, current, future and former, really know what PR is?” and perhaps even more importantly, do they know how it can help their business?….questions the PRSA can’t answer.