Business Marketing Misleadership Relationship Marketing Social Media

Consumer Reports vs. consumers reporting

We had to buy a microwave oven the other day, so I did what I always do before making a purchase: I went online to Consumer to do some research. I’m not alone: according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, of the 79% of adult Americans who use the Internet, 81% “look for information online about a service or product (they) are thinking of buying.”

Not all of those pre-purchase researchers go to Consumer Reports, but my wife and I do, just like my parents have always done. This time, though, I was shocked by the results. (I apologize that I can’t link to the results, or that I won’t be mentioning them in this article, but CR is a subscription service, and I don’t wish to violate the terms of use.)

In their Microwave section, Consumer Reports rated various countertop microwaves from multiple manufacturers as Best Buys, and I read the rankings on all of them. Then I noticed Customer Reviews for each model — and that the Average Ratings for the top models were glaringly bad. In fact, the average reviews for all the models rated were bad. As I read the reviews, one common thread emerged:  the customers, all of whom are Consumer Reports subscribers, not only disagreed with the CR ratings and reported reliability, but were genuinely upset that CR had given them information that led to an unsatisfying, and in many cases disastrous or even explosive results. I lost track of the number of “Shame on you, Consumer Reports” type comments I read.

I read all of the reviews, desperately searching for a Microwave that had a positive result. One review mentioned that they eventually found a good microwave by reading the customer reviews on Best Buy, even though the units rated well on BestBuy were not rated well on CR.

So I went to, read the reviews and found three microwaves that didn’t sound like they’d blow up or die inexplicably whether within or outside of the warranty period. Then I did what Pew says most Americans who research products online do: I went to an actual brick and mortar store to make my purchase. (One side note: while in the store, I heard a Best Buy employee interacting with a shopper. When asked about the GE models, he said something like, “I’d recommend anything we sell except for the GE’s. They’ve been having quality problems for the past few years.” Now I’m not saying that CR rated GE products highly, or even at all, or that there were customer reviews on the CR website that singled out GE for quality problems; I’m simply saying what I heard in Best Buy.)

I left the store, happy and secure in the knowledge that my choice was backed up by the real experiences of real people — a feeling that I used to get from basing my choices on reviews in Consumer Reports.

Before you dismiss online customer reviews as the exclusive domain of malcontents, consider this survey by Bazaarvoice and Keller Fay, user review and WOM experts, reported here on Search Engine Watch:  “…79 percent of reviewers write reviews to reward a company for the quality of the product or service they bought, with 87 percent of the reviews being positive in tone… 97 percent of review readers find the reviews they read to be accurate.”

Customer Reviews are one of the most utilized forms of consumer generated content. When it comes to buying cars, JD Power’s 2008 New Study reports that 70% of autmotive Internet users utilize consumer generated content when shopping for a car, with 63% using customer ratings and reviews. (You can download the study here.) Search Engine Watch blogs here that customer reviews are one of the most important sources of product information, second only to word of mouth from a friend.

And before you dismiss the value of Consumer Reports, please consider that they were honest enough to print customer reviews that not only disagreed with them, but openly questioned the validity of their ratings. Those reviews sent me in a direction that led to my satisfied product purchase.

Will I ever use Consumer Reports to research a product before purchase again? You betcha! CR is still a great resource for product and category information, and their testing facilities still provide data that can’t be gotten anywhere else.

Will I ever skip the customer reviews and just read the ratings? What do you think?

But this whole experience leaves me with one unanswered question: Can someone please explain to me why there is such a consistent, category-wide disagreement between the ratings of the professional researchers at Consumer Reports and of the consumers reporting their own experiences with the same products?

Branding Business CRM Integrated Marketing Marketing Media PR and News Social Media Uncategorized

Surviving the Second CNN Revolution

On a recent post I commented about CNN’s updated news crawl being a shill for their Twitter and other online efforts. Turns out, I was more right than I knew. Not only were they in the midst of a heated competition with their worthy opponent Ashton Kutcher to see who could reach a million followers first, but they were simultaneously reeling from the news that they were now, for the first time in their existence, ranked THIRD in viewership behind Fox and MSNBC!

Ashton beat them to the mil, but as Rick Sanchez so magnanimously said, “If you counted everything we do on Twitter we really beat him, but it’s all good.” or something empowering like that.

Normally I’d ignore his good sportsmanship except that I also read an article in Variety that said nearly the same thing. CNN spun their 3rd place finish in prime time into an ad for their multi-channel capability:

“Primetime is most meaningful to entertainment networks,” says CNN U.S. prexy Jonathan Klein, noting that his channel sells its commercial time in a more bundled, multiplatform way that differs from most cable networks, which deal more in the typical currency of primetime ratings points.

And that’s why, no doubt, during the middle of the day the other Friday, they actually showed Ed Henry interviewing somebody on CNN-Radio on CNN cable TV. There he was, boom mike dangling in front of his face, CNN Radio sign strategically positioned, except he was on the TV.

Multi-Channel is as multi-channel does. So CNN aims for the Twitter stratosphere,  creates partnerships with Facebook, takes on Talk Radio (“We’ll fight them on the fields, we’ll fight them on the shores, we’ll fight them in the air!”).

Or, to quote a more controversial character than old Mr. Churchill, “Get ther the fustest with the mustest.” (Be the first to guess who said that one and I’ll send you a Claxton Fruit Cake!)

We are watching CNN, the people who transformed television news by replacing the tyrannical scheduled reporting cycle (anybody remember the 6:00 News?) with getting their cameras wherever news was happening as it was happening (and using local network reporters when they didn’t have one of their own in place) transform news again. This time, they’re replacing the tyranny of platform exclusivity with the freedom of device. Klein continues:

“We sell against all of our platforms — TV, online, international — and it’s hard to say there’s one particular daypart or hour of the day that matters more,” says Klein… Our competition doesn’t have the resources to cover the news the way we do. They’ve actually ceded news coverage to us.”

Convergence doesn’t just happen. CNN is using their core platforms to advertise and drive their customers to their other platforms including Time Magazine. It’s a massive multi-channel marketing effort, it’s intrusive, and apparently, it’s working:  Follow us on Twitter — over a million Twitterers can’t be wrong!.

Recognizing, as CNN’s John King said, that they are “in the word business”, CNN is stuffing those words wherever they can … and monetizing their words along the way. Newspapers should take note:  you’re all in the “word biz” — not the dead tree biz or the radio wave business or the cathode ray business or the pixel business.

Of the last twenty or so articles I read from the NY Times, none of them were on newspaper, and I found them via Digg, Google News, and in emails from friends. The last radio program I listened to was on my computer. The last time I got a story from CNN I read it on my phone.

CNN won the first digital news revolution. They overthrew the powers that be and changed everything. Now that they’re the underdogs again, it looks like they’re sticking it to the man one more time — only this time, the man is Rupert Murdoch.

So, with CNN working hard to become the multi-channel newsroom of the next great era in journalism, with all their vaunted commitment to new media and the instant-dissemniation nature of Twitter, can someone please explain to me why in the last 24 hours, CNNBRK, their twitter account with 1,339,599 followers, had only two breaking news stories?

Integrated Marketing PR and News Social Media


I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little tired of hearing:

“Blogging is dead.”

“Newspapers are dead.”

“Email is dead.”

“The 30-second commercial is dead.”

“Print is dead.”

“Magazines are dead.”

“Paid search is dead.”

“Affiliate marketing is dead.”

“Behavioral targeting is dead.”

“Pop-ups are dead.”

“Friendster is dead.”  Well, okay, I’ll give you that one.

What is it with this feeding frenzy to pronounce media channels and tactics dead?

I’m as guilty as the next marketing guy. The account people at my agency, Tanen Directed Advertising, are getting sick of hearing me gleefully pronounce newspapers dead, as if I’ve somehow got a stake in the sale of their headstones and caskets.

And I’m just as wrong as everyone else, too, at least about Friendster and newspapers.

Friendster isn’t dead… it’s just different. 85 million members strong isn’t dead. It’s just moved to the Phillipines and Southeast Asia. (39% of it members are in the Phillipines.) But even in the US,  Friendster gets 2.6 million monthly unique visitors according to Quantcast.

Newspapers aren’t dead either, they’re just moving online. According to a Nielsen Online report done for the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper websites had 68.3 million unique visitors on average in Q3 2008, which is nearly 41.4% of all internet users, and is up 15.8% over the same period last year. It was also a record for page views, just over 3.5 billlion per month, which is 25.2% higher than the same quarter last year and the highest since the NAA started tracking it in 2004. The same quarter set records for page views, pages per person, time spent per person, and visits per person. In other words, more people are visiting newspaper websites more often, spending more time there, and getting more information there. (And those sites accept advertising.)

I just saw a great video interview with Michael Rosenblum at the Society of Editors conference 2008. He talks about how newspapers have a great, but dwindling window of opportunity, to retain and capitalize on delivering news to their audiences, as long as they keep the news and get rid of the paper. It’s worth watching, especially for his analogy of the death of the whale oil industry in New Bedford, and it’s here on Diablogue. (I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Seth Godin’s great post, “Do you own trees?” from all the way back in June of this year.)

We live in interesting times. The rate of change is amazing. Blogging, just barely out of the womb, is being declared dead yet again. (For a great post and history of Blogging obituaries, see B.L. Ochman’s What’s Next Blog post, “The Annual Death of Blogging is Baaaaaack!” here. )

This is what media fragmentation looks like. This is what technological revolution and social upheaval looks like.

Everything is changing, but that doesn’t mean it’s dying. Shrinking, retrenching, transforming… but not dying. And yet we seem obsessed with premature declarations of death that set the stage for us to glorify and justify the media channel or tactic that we like much better… this week.

Can somebody please explain to me when we’re going to grow up, consign “…is dead” to the trash heap of overdone phrases (along with “…is the new black”) and start seeing the turmoil for the opportunity it represents?

Marketing Partnerships Misleadership PR and News Relationship Marketing Social Media

Obama and the AKC: Another Shaggy Dog Story?

Back on July 10th, in my post “Is Obama Going To The Dogs?” I wrote about the Presidential Pup website where the AKC was holding an election to decide which dog the Obama girls should get. I wrote in glowing terms about what I thought was an excellent and timely marketing partnership.

And a successful one… at least for the AKC. Since they started, there have been 42,000 votes and a clear spike in traffic. According to Quantcast, site visits to, which were hovering around 2.5 million before the start of the promotion at the beginning of July rose sharply over that month to a high of about 2.8 million in early August, only to drop again to their pre-promotion level by late August.

By the way, the Poodle won the election.

So when President-elect Obama mentioned his canine promise to his girls in his acceptance speech, I fully expected there to be some connection to the AKC partnership, at least in the days ahead.

Empathetically, I thought, if I were the AKC marketing director, and Obama didn’t mention our partnership at this global-attention focal point, I’d feel a bit ripped off. Talk about a missed opportunity. The whole reason to do a marketing partnership like that with a highly public cause is for the attention it brings. Even more problematic, he mentioned shelter dogs, not exactly the territory the AKC tends to pee in.

I went to the Obama site. Nothing about the AKC and the Presidential Pup site.

I just spent the last week at Ad:Tech listening to all the ways in which the Obama campaign has rewritten the rules of online marketing. According to Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy Mather Worldwide, the Obama campaign is the “best CRM campaign that has ever been run.”  For the Obama campaign to be involved in a marketing partnership and not to mention it on their site isn’t a mistake, it’s an impossibility.

So then I went to the Presidential Pup site at the AKC.  The site landing pages were updated on November 5th to reflect Obama’s victory and discuss his public reiteration of his promise to his girls. The site discusses the voting, and goes on to say “We hope the Obamas consider the survey results,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson.

“We hope”?  “Considers”?  That didn’t exactly sound like a partnership to me, and it certainly didn’t sound like the tone of the original site.

Somebody at the AKC is definitely on the ball, though. In addition to the speed with which they updated their landing page, the page has a picture of two adorable poodle pups with the headline “A Pair of Poodles for Pennsylvania Avenue” and the caption which partially reads “A pair of six-week-old Toy Poodle puppies rescued by Flora’s Pet Project/Poodle Rescue Connecticut visited the American Kennel Club offices in Manhattan today to be photographed in hopes of catching the attention of the Obama family. The pups will be available for new homes in early January. They can be adopted by contacting…”

That’s great marketing. Obama specifically mentioned shelter dogs, so the AKC adds the “rescue dog” element to make their efforts more relevant. (As I recall, there was no mention of rescue dogs the first time around.)

They’re also spreading a wide net to attract attention. They made sure to mention that it was reported that Veep-Elect Biden has said his wife told him that if he got the vice presidency and got elected, he could get a dog. This too is good internet marketing, adding additional key words and relevance;  last time, they made sure they got the McCains in the story as well.

The site goes on to say “No matter what breed the Obamas or Bidens choose, the AKC hopes they can assist both families. “I would be happy to personally assist Obama and Biden in identifying a responsible breeder if they are looking for a puppy,” said AKC President & CEO Dennis Sprung”

The first site really made it seem like the Obama’s were along for the ride.  But now, it’s clear that wasn’t the case.

Nearly a decade ago, in our book, Making Money While Making a Difference, Dr. Richard Steckel and I wrote about the dangers of misleading the public when it comes to cause related marketing.  It’s only gotten worse since.  When you pretend to be helping a cause or when you aid and abet consumers in reaching the conclusion that you are aligned with a cause or group when you are really just trying to cash in on their publicity, you are in danger of a serious, negative backlash.

If the AKC were aligned with Obama, wouldn’t he have mentioned it in one of his long and involved post-acceptance speech statements about the promised pooch?

If this were the marketing partnership it seemed to be, then wouldn’t Obama have mentioned it at least once during the many times he’s had to address this overwhelmingly important issue since winning the nomination?

It’s not his fault if the issue keeps coming up: I mean, our economy is in the tank, the mid-East is loping towards a meltdown, attack dog Rahm Emanuel is the chief of staff of the face of change, and the press keeps wasting our time on shaggy dog stories.

Oh wait, so am I.

No, I’m not.

According to Wikipedia, “Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience’s preconceptions of the art of joke telling. The audience listens to the story with certain expectations, which are either simply not met or met in some entirely unexpected manner.” While I don’t claim that the AKC intended to amuse us, I do think their whole presidential pup story is a bad joke with utterly unmet expectations and an unexpected conclusion.

I’m writing about a marketing disconnect. A missed opportunity. Or, more likely, a misleading one. Just another example of misleadership, this one on the part of the AKC.

What do you think?  Can someone please explain to me whether the AKC is practicing good marketing or misleadership?

Relationship Marketing Social Media

I have joined a triiibe and I love it

Seth Godin has a new book called Tribes. Before it was published, back in July, he built a social community around it called Triiibes that I was fortunate enough to be able to join.  (By fortunate, I mean that as a regular reader of his blog I read the single notice he posted about the new book and a limited, exclusive offer he made: buy an advanced copy of the book and you can join this unique community.) After a very limited time, membership to the community closed, and won’t be reopened again until some time this month.

In all honesty, I’m not really a social media guy. I rarely visit my facebook or myspace pages. I under-utilize LinkedIn. But I’ve been a more regular visitor and poster to Triiibes. I’ve gotten great value and given a little back, too. It’s been a great experience for me, because I finally understand the passion and connection that social media members can feel about their community.

The most interesting aspect of Triiibes, for me, was the casebook that we Triiibes members created, a companion e-book to Seth’s own book, Tribes. That casebook is now online. You can get yourself a pdf copy of The Tribes Casebook here.

The case study I wrote was called “The Tribe of Marrus.” It appears on page 79 of the ebook. It’s about my friend, Marrus, an artist, who I also blogged about in a post here called “Portrait of the artist as an integrated marketer.

There are plenty of great case studies about tribes of all kinds. It’s excellent reading, and I highly recommend it.

I’ve been reading Seth Godin for about 8 years now. I’ve seen him speak more than once. I’ve watched with glee each time he rewrites the rules of publishing when he comes up with a new way to market his latest book.

He’s been a leading pioneer of “the new marketing” and an honest, inspirational voice. He’s one of the most published business book writers ever, a voice respected by the people running the most successful companies in the world.

Every once in a while, I see one of his books on the shelf of a client or a prospect, and we instantly get into a vibrant discussion about Seth and new marketing. Invariably, we end up reaching a point in the discussion where one of us or the other says, “How come everybody isn’t getting into this stuff?”

I’ve discussed Seth’s thinking with other marketing professionals I know, usually ones with decades of experience and perspective. They frequently net out at the answer that there’s always new thinking that argues that the old thinking is wrong or outdated, and only time will tell. Until then, they’re not ready to throw out the old ways.  They’re too invested in them, and they’ve worked for all these years, they say.

Not me. As a marketer, my only real rule is do what works best (as long as it’s ethical and honest.) Anything less isn’t worth doing, is it?

Not only am I a member of triiibes, but now that I think about it, it turns out I’m a member of The Tribe of Seth Godin, too.

Can someone please explain to me why everyone who works in advertising and marketing isn’t one too?

Social Media

What do Eminem, Elton John and my 12 year old niece have in common?

What do Eminem, Elton John and my 12 year old niece have in common?


Got your attention? Good. Because I want to talk to you today about word of mouth advertising. I think it’s one of the most powerful advertising tactics to ever be invented, and it’s getting more popular than ever. More on that in a bit.

Back at the turn of the century there was a lot of controversy surrounding a young white rapper named Eminem. Everyone had an opinion about him. He was hateful…spiteful… a homophobe, a racist, a sexist. He hated Jews, Christians, Catholics, Muslims. And his music? It was awful… empty… filled only with hate, teaching our kids to do drugs, rape women, kill people… in short, seducing the morals of our youth. (Didn’t they charge Socrates with that and force him to drink the hemlock?)

I first became aware of Eminem in the summer of 2002. A good friend of mine told me all about him. That friend was Elton John. Now don’t misunderstand me — Elton John has no idea who I am. But I’ve been listening to Elton John as long as I’ve been listening to music. When I got my first stereo, one of the first 3 albums I bought was “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” I had a poster of “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” on the wall of my room right near my bed. I spent more than one night sleeping on a street in a ticket line in the 70’s and 80’s to get good seats for an Elton John concert.

For many of us, when Elton John admitted to being bisexual in Rolling Stone in 1976, it changed how we looked at gender preference. When he married a man in 1984, it was another milestone.

Elton is also one of the most avid music fans there is. I remember more than once hearing him talk about going out to the music shops to get the new releases the day they came out. He sounded like a little kid he was so enthusiastic.

So when Elton John said he was a big fan of Eminem, it caught my attention. Here was one of the most famous gay men in the world saying that it was okay to like Eminem, reputed to be one of the biggest homophobes to ever spew hate into a mike. Elton even did a duet with Eminem at the Grammy’s in February that year, saying “If I thought for one minute that he was hateful, I wouldn’t do it.” (Check out the CNN article here.)

The duet they did was on “Stan,” this amazing, self-aware, reflective song on the relationship between a singer, a fan, personal choices, responsibility, etc. It’s the kind of song a talented writer could write, not the kind of song a mindless sprayer of hate could come up with. The music video of “Stan” on MTV was the first Eminem song I heard, and I was instantly hooked. This was a great song.

So I went to my 12-year old niece and asked her to recommend an album. She told me that The Eminem Show was his best, but that The Marshall Mathers LP had Stan on it. She suggested I start with that one. She was right…The Marshall Mathers LP was a good place to start, but The Eminem Show was better. So good in fact that it’s made my own personal 8 “Desert Island Discs” List.

That’s the power of word of mouth, that you will listen to the recommendation of a voice you trust, even if it’s one you’ve never met. (See, I told you this was a post about word of mouth!) If somebody I didn’t know had told me that I would love Eminem, that I would eventually come to consider him one of the great lyricists of all time, I would have laughed in their face and ignored them. But because it was a voice I’d trusted all my life, a recognized expert in music whose own music had brought me literally decades of pleasure, I listened and decided to try out a new product.

Then I went to a person who I knew would be up on current trends to give me some additional advice about which album to buy. (If you ever want to tune into the cutting edge of popular culture, talk to a 12-year old.)

Word of mouth works when it’s honest. When you trust the source of the recommendation. When a guy who runs a reliable lunch place tells you about a new Greek restaurant in Stamford that is good and affordable. (By the way, it’s called Eos, my wife and I ate there for our 9th anniversary this July, and it’s awesome!) When a friend who knows your taste tells you you’ve got it wrong, that you have to see “Fight Club.” Or a friend tells you that “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is so much more than just a “kid’s book.”

But word of mouth isn’t a magic bullet. It’s not a technique that can be used without the underpinning of trust. And it’s not something that can be manufactured by just “reaching out to the right people.” If something is not worth talking about, you can’t force people to talk about it, even if you pay them.

Lots of people are talking about adding social media, blogs, word of mouth, viral marketing, and more to their marketing and advertising mix. It reminds me a little bit of the early days of websites, when everyone raced around thinking they had to have a website without thinking about what they would do with it, or more importantly, how it would enable and enrich their relationship with their customers.

Out of all these new tactics, word of mouth is the one that most depends on authenticity and trust, two qualities that can’t be manufactured overnight — or manufactured at all.

So can someone please explain to me why so many companies just assume consumers will listen to anything they say, without first working to gain our trust?

Social Media

How not to do a social media viral campaign

So back in 2006 a guy named Scott Ableman and some co-workers covered another co-worker’s Jaguar with thousands of Post-it (R) notes and put the pictures on Flickr. The pictures are cool — Scott Ableman’s Flickr page with the pics and story is here. You’ve probably seen them already since they went viral, ended up in millions of emails, plenty of websites, blogs including BoingBoing, made the front page of Digg, etc.  Clearly I live under a rock, since the first time I found out about it was a few minutes ago in the post, “3M ‘Steals’ Post-It Note Jaguar Viral Sensation” on AdRants, Steve Hall’s great blog/website that constantly points out some of the advertising industry’s less admirable efforts.

Scott Ableman's Post-It Note Covered Jaguar Image that was used without permission by 3M Post-It
Scott Ableman's Post-it Note Covered Jaguar

About a year later, 3M found out about it and decided to re-create the pictures in their own campaign. The image has shown up in stores from Norway to Japan, Sweden to Singapore, and Russia to Brazil. The kicker is, they refused to pay the photographer, Scott, the usage fee he asked for, according to this excellent post by Melanie Phung here on her blog, “All About Content”. (Check it out — she’s even got an email from the eMarketing Supervisor at 3M informing Scott they could copy his pictures for $750-$1000, but if he would charge them that same fee, they’d be happy to use his!). At that point, he lowered his fee to $2000 but that was too rich for 3M, a multi-billion dollar multinational.

This was a perfect opportunity for 3M Post-its to join a social media conversation, celebrate the photographer who started it, and get a tremendous amount of positive publicity and buzz. Instead, for a measly up charge of about $1000 from what they’d been quoted to copy it, 3M decided to steal Scott’s creativity, ignore a Creative Commons Attribution license, and spit in the face of the larger social media community.

The real crime of it, no matter how loudly the blogosphere and consumers complain about their actions, is that they’re probably quite content with their actions, and probably won’t even notice any negative impact from the issue. But maybe not.

Can someone at 3M (or anywhere else for that matter) explain to me what 3M Post-It Notes thought they’d be gaining by abusing social media this way, compared to what they’re actually going to lose as a result?

(And just because I don’t feel like getting into trouble for stealing someone else’s property, I want to be clear that 3M and Post-it are trademarks of 3M. There you go.)

(One more note. Jim commented below that I innacurately stated that 3M used Scott’s picture without permission in both my photo caption and my post. I have since corrected both. This post is the corrected version. Thanks for keeping me honest, Jim.)

Social Media

Did The Energizer Bunny Think We Wouldn’t Talk About This?

Sometimes, when I’m talking with a prospect or a client about internet marketing and online brand/reputation management, and I tell them that there’s probably a conversation going on online about their brand or product, they dismiss the subject. I’ve had responses like “Nobody pays attention to bloggers” or “Our audience isn’t online” or “So few people will ever find out about this that we don’t need to worry.”

In response I trot out cautionary tales like Dell’s Burning Laptop Story or the Dell Hell story by Buzz Machine blogger Jeff Jarvis or the disgruntled Spirit Airlines passenger story I first found out about on B.L. Ochman’s wonderful What’ There’s also a good list of other “Brands Punk’d by Social Media” on the Forrester Interactive Blog.

So anyway, I found this photo-investigation by Mike Adams the other day about Energizer rechargeable batteries. It seems that buried within a D-sized case is a smaller rechargeable battery with the same power as a AA. Now, the post looks at this from the point of view of a possible conspiracy theory intended by the battery companies to sell inferior rechargeable batteries in order to push people back to the more profitable disposables, and I’m not going to touch that one at all.

But what I am curious about is why it seems that Energizer has ignored the online conversation about this product. Why they haven’t posted a response on blogs like this thread titled “Energizer “D” Battery Exposed” on the According to Quantcast, has a rank of 3,194 and gets over 2 million visits per month from over 803,000 unique people. In other words, an audience worth talking to. And the thread itself is wonderful. It gets 35 Stars, which seems like a good number of stars to me. Lots of data about batteries, and lots of discussion about the kind of marketing Energizer is engaging in. The general consensus (but by no means the only point of view) of the thread is that even though Energizer was honest on the packaging as to the charge, the D-shape of the outer casing of the battery would lead people to the conclusion that the battery functioned the way they thought a standard D-Battery would. There’s even some disapproval of the how the writer, Mike Adams, used his investigation to also sell a competitive brand of rechargeable batteries at the end of the article, and whether the article was in some way compensated.

All in all, an intelligent, sober, enthusiastic, and mutually-respectful conversation all about batteries, charges, chemicals, durations, branding, marketing, packaging, pricing, reporting, blogging and more. This is exactly the playground Energizer should be playing in. Did they join the conversation? Not that I could tell from reading the 5 page long thread.

Here’s a review on Amazon from last December. Did Energizer post a comment? Not at the time of this writing.

At this point in time, it amazes me that there are still professional marketers and advertisers out there who fail to recognize the importance of the internet and the conversations being had in tiny groups of 20 or 30 or larger groups of thousands and millions.

And yet, there are. Intelligent, successful, marketers who think Energizer is following the right strategy.

What I’m hoping is that one of them reads this post. Because I just don’t get the reticence to embrace social computing, social media, Web 2.0, whatever you want to call it. (By the way, Dell learned from their mistakes, engaged their community, took the hits and came out better for it!)

So, can someone please explain to me why Energizer didn’t engage this community, and why similar companies continue to make the same decision.