Money & Power

Is a Super Bowl Commercial Really Worth $4.5 Million?

1 Written by: | Friday, Jan 30, 2015 9:08am

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…and that’s not even counting production costs for a 30-second spot, which can easily cost more than some indie films. How can that kind of money possibly be worth it? According to Haiyang Yang, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins’ Carey School of Business, sometimes it is–and sometimes it isn’t. Read More →

Featured, Lifeline

This Maryland Car Wash Wants You to “Have Better Sex”

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 8:25am

Sure, sex sells. But can it sell car washes? Severna Park’s Great American Car Wash hoped so when they changed the message on their marquee to “Have Better Sex in a Clean Car.”

Whether it brought in more business I couldn’t tell you, but it sure caused a stir at the Severna Park Patch Facebook page. The range of opinions represented by the Patch comments was largely what one would expect. Many were horrified that a business would post such a risque message in public. Others thought it was funny, or at least no big deal.

But one commenter’s issue with the sign was pretty novel: “It doesn’t offend me, but I don’t find it funny either. I don’t really get it. How is a cleaner car going to improve your sex in it? Dumb. Mildly inappropriate.” Read More →

Money & Power

Class Action Suit Against JoS. A. Bank Claims Merchandise is Always on Sale

0 Written by: | Monday, Jun 04, 2012 9:10am

Courtesy Citybizlist — 2 Days Only! … Final Day – 70% OFF EVERY SUIT! 50% … OFF Every Dress Shirt and more … JoS. A. Bank Clothiers commercials are known for their call to action.

It seems that the sense of urgency hasn’t set well with a pair of erstwhile customers.

A class action complaint has been filed against JoS. A. Bank alleging that the retailer’s merchandise is “perpetually on sale and the sale price is actually the price at which the merchandise is regularly offered.”

James Waldron and Matthew Villani, both from New Jersey, filed the complaint in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Case 2:33-av-00001).

JoS. A. Bank Clothiers said in a regulatory filing that it intends to “defend this lawsuit vigorously.”

Citybizlist procured the court document (scroll down to view it in its entirety) and has excerpted a few blurbs of the accusation:

– “Jos. A. Bank’s misleading, inaccurate and deceptive marketing cultivates the perception that consumer (sic) are being offered a discount from the Company’s regular prices when, in fact, they are not. Plaintiffs and the Class were intended to and did rely upon Jos. A. Bank’s representations when they purchased Jos. A. Bank merchandise. Plaintiffs and the Class would not have purchased Jos. A. Bank merchandise, or would have paid significantly less for the merchandise, if Jos. A. Bank had not represented that the merchandise had a “regular price” that was well above the “sale” price. As a result, Jos. A. Bank has handsomely profited from its misrepresentations to the detriment of Plaintiffs and the Class …”

– “Jos. A. Bank uses this method of advertising knowing that consumers would rely on the misrepresentation that the Company’s merchandise is on sale, creating a false sense of urgency to purchase Jos. A. Bank’s merchandise. Accordingly, Jos. A. Bank’s advertisements and promotions to sell its merchandise are perpetually false and misleading.”

– “Each advertised sale is described as being of a limited duration, thus creating the false impression that the price of the merchandise will increase back to the ‘regular price’ if a consumer does not make a purchase by the end of the sale. To increase a consumer’s sense of urgency about the expiration of the sale, Jos. A. Bank’s advertisements use expressions such as ‘Final Day!’, ‘2 Days Only!’, ‘Monday & Tuesday Only!’, ‘Today Only!’, ‘1-Day Only!’, ‘Final Hours!’, etc. As a result, consumers are misled into believing that the ‘sale’ is a limited time event. However, there are no ‘final days’ to sales offered by Jos. A. Bank, as the Company places merchandise back “on sale” immediately after a given sale ends.”

Waldron asserts that he would not have:

– “purchased Jos. A. Bank merchandise during the Class Period. At the time of his purchase, Jos. A. Bank marketed, advertised and promoted its merchandise as being ‘on sale.’ However, in contrast to the manner in which Jos. A. Bank merchandise was marketed, advertised and promoted, the merchandise purchased by Mr. Waldron was not ‘on sale,’ and the regular price was not the actual price of the merchandise, as represented. As a result of Jos. A. Bank’s misleading, and/or inaccurate, and/or deceptive marketing, advertising and promotion of its merchandise, Mr. Waldron suffered an ascertainable loss. Had Jos. A. Bank informed Mr. Waldron at the time of his purchase that the merchandise he purchased was not ‘on sale,’ and that the merchandise did not have a ‘regular price’ that was well above the ‘sale’ price. He would not have purchased the merchandise or would have paid substantially less for the merchandise that he purchased.”

Read more at Citybizlist

 

Downtown, Money & Power

Inside Office Space: Media Works

0 Written by: | Monday, May 21, 2012 1:00pm

 

Citybizlist continues its Pictorial Tour feature, in which we spotlight a local company’s office in pictures, with Media Works.

Media Works is a full-service, social media, strategic media planning, buying and research agency headquartered in Baltimore. Founded in 1989, the firm has grown to include more than 20 full-time professionals and support staff. Last year, Media Works doubled in size as the result of earning the $30 million Van Tuyl Automotive Group account, bringing the agency’s billings to more than $60 million. Other clients include Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore Washington Medical Center, LifeBridge Health, and Kiddie Academy. (See more clients here.)

Media Works is led by CEO Jody Berg.

Enjoy the digital tour of Media Works’ office.

Welcome to Media Works! The front desk staff welcomes a visitor from WBAL

Our Social Media Manager catches up on what’s happening in the industry while relaxing in the front lobby Read More →

Schools

This Week in Research: God is Green; When Good Marketing Backfires

0 Written by: | Friday, Dec 16, 2011 12:00am

A University of Maryland study undermines easy ideas about how religion and politics overlap.  The study, which surveyed nearly 1,500 Americans, many who self-identified as Catholic or Evangelical, found that those who believe in God also favor international efforts aimed at curbing climate change.  Seventy-five percent of believers considered it a moral obligation to act as good stewards for the environment. Two-thirds thought that meant supporting pro-environment laws and regulations.  The same goes for nuclear proliferation.  John Steinbruner, Maryland public policy professor and co-author of the study, notes that the findings “challenge common political stereotypes that pigeonhole religious Americans as liberal or conservative” on these issues.  However, fewer than half of the believers surveyed thought that there was a scientific consensus that climate change was an urgent problem. They were more likely to think that not enough was known to take action.

Advertising can play funny tricks on the brain.  It’s not surprising that boldly packaged products are more likely to fly off the shelves, as a recent Johns Hopkins study found.  But less expected is the fact that consumers actually use these products more slowly — presumably because the packaging has tricked them into thinking that they work more effectively.  In this way, strong marketing cues can have unintended self-defeating side effects.  The so-called “ironic effects” of packaging and marketing might make the products that move off the shelves quickly end up lingering longer on household shelves.  “People tend to be lazy,” said lead researcher Meng Zhu. “When we’re shopping, we don’t generally study the ingredients on the package. We look for the salient cues, such as brand names and strong images. Those things are easy to process, and whether they’re presented in a bold fashion or not makes a huge difference in how we judge products.”

Money & Power

Groupon: The Billion Dollar Gamble

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 01, 2011 9:00am

There’s a whiff of the tech bubble surrounding Groupon, a company that — according to a recent article in the Times — seems staffed almost entirely by recent college graduates with non-lucrative majors. The 27-year old senior editor has a degree in poetry and feels “kind of old compared to everyone else.” Groupon’s 400-plus writers and editors are based in Chicago, and earn around $37,000 a year (for a new writer) to come up with zany ways to sell one of the most boring things out there — coupons. Oh, and they recently turned down a purported $6 billion buyout offer from Google. Is this the future of marketing?

(If you haven’t yet been inducted into the cult of Groupon, here’s how it works. Each day, each of the 177 North American cities that the company covers offers a discount on a local product or service, and you’ve got 24 hours to buy in. Recent Baltimore offerings include a $10 coupon good for $20 worth of food and drinks at Zen West, or $149 for two hours of labor from College Hunks Hauling Junk.) Baltimore-founded venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates was an early investor in Groupon. 

It’s actually a pretty simple business model; the Times argues that the reason Groupon dominated while other efforts failed is thanks to the very zaniness it cultivates in its copy. (“There comes a time in every cowboy’s life when he must become a cowman, leaving behind his spurs and hat for a cowbell, hooves, and a penchant for chewing grass.” That’s supposed to sell you the Zen West coupon, if you couldn’t tell.) You might find it endearingly irreverent or teeth-grittingly irritating, but it seems to work; the company’s already made more than a billion dollars from the businesses that seek out Groupon to give themselves a marketing bump.

But does it result in higher sales or repeat customers for the businesses themselves? That remains to be seen. For one, the very irreverance of the marketing copy can sometimes overshadow the product or service being sold. Then, there’s the fact that deal-loving Groupon buyers may not turn into those lucrative repeat customers after all.  Not so long ago I used a Groupon at a local coffee shop — one I’d never been to before — and asked the owner if the Groupon investment had worked out well for him. According to him, it just resulted in a bunch of thrifty one-time customers. I turned out to fall into that camp. The food was great, I loved the atmosphere — but, well, I just haven’t been back.

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