Friday, May 22, 2009

From the Builder's Show: TimberTech

by Bryan E. Wright
Executive Editor
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Sorry it's been a while since we've posted a video from IBS. What can we say? Life happens. But I promise you this one was worth the wait. With the housing market uncertain, more American homeowners are opting for smart home improvements rather than trying to sell and upgrade right now. That's where durable, great-looking products such as the ones TimberTech shared with us come into play. Check out the video!

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Monday, May 4, 2009

In Defense of Twitter as a Marketing Tool

by Bryan E. Wright
Executive Editor

By just about anyone's account, David Martin, VP of Primary Research at Nielson Online is probably a far smarter guy than me. I imagine he was fluent in Twitter months before I even knew it existed. So I feel bad for chiming in. In my opinion, however, Mr. Martin missed the fundamental point in his April 28 blog Twitter Quitters Post Roadblock to Long-Term Growth. While he makes some very insightful and well reasoned points, he misses the very most key point: Twitter is not for mass market consumption.

Following publication of Mr. Martin's blog, one of my clients pointed out, "Kind of makes you wonder about Twitter's viability as a business tool." That's true, actually. It did make me wonder. Though it ultimately led me back to a conclusion on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Why do most lookie-loos drop out within 30-60 days? Well, it takes about a month to really start to figure Twitter out. At that point, you probably know whether or not Twitter is going to add value to your life, either as a professional tool or as a networking resource.

If you have a legitimate business use for Twitter - and other social utilities - it's worth the trouble to stick it out, and most of us in that audience usually do. That said, I believe Twitter is temporary, desitined to one day be replaced by something more evolved. But it’s here now and it’s connecting a lot of people. So it doesn’t make sense to remove it from the toolbox simply because it might not be here in two years. Truth be told…our favorite daily papers might not be here in two years either. Will we ignore their editors because of that?

If you’re using Twitter properly as a business tool, the one-month dropout crowd isn’t your target audience at all. You’re on Twitter specifically to reach the early adopters, the influencers, the thought leaders who utilize it multiple times per day to identify and generate content for their own blogs, which aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. You’re not targeting the end-user with Twitter. You’re targeting the people who target multiple end-users and you're hoping they'll value your messages enough to pass them along.

As long as companies remember who they're targeting and that social media marketing is a TACTIC rather than a STRATEGY, any of the network-based online resources, Twitter among them, can be really useful tools in support of solid strategic programs. .
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

CST/berger at IBS

by Bryan E. Wright
Executive Editor

Want to avoid costly mistakes on the jobsite? Precision laser measuring tools may be part of the answer. Once reserved for use in building roads, bridges and large commercial structures because of size and cost, precision measuring tools are now available in convenient sizes and affordable prices. The team at CST/berger gave Under Construction a personal tour of some very cool new technology during this year's International Builders Show. Ready to toss your collection of well-worn tape measures into the round file? You might be after you watch this video!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Exterior Portfolio by Crane at IBS

In this installment, we are joined by Jeff Cabbage of Exterior Portfolios by Crane who shows us their latest and greatest products -BellaStone® and Portsmouth Shake® Cedar Shake Cedar Shake.

Both of these products give homeowners unlimited design options and add value to the home all while helping to conserve energy.

Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

More from the International Builders Show: PAM Fastening

by Bryan E. Wright
Executive Editor

As promised in February, here's the first of our video visits with some innovative manufacturers we found during our time at the 2009 International Builders Show in Las Vegas. PAM Fastening has done some very cool things to make production screwdriving tasks...well...more productive. PAM's Dave Cotton was kind enough to take a few minutes out of a very busy day to show us how PAM has taken collated-feed screw fastening to a whole new level. Take a look!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Super Ad or Super Bust?

The Super Bowl is the Mecca of advertising. A single thirty second spot cost nearly $3M for this year’s game, which only secured the time slot. I’d venture to guess that more than an additional million dollars went to production, creative, editing and all of the other facets necessary to create a television commercial suitable for viewing by nearly 100 million people.

Did this year’s spots pay dividends? We asked two Strata-G Communications veterans to give us their take on the ads.

Jeff Bucalo is an industry veteran with more than 16 years experience working with such clients as Bosch Power Tools, Alcoa, Fidelity, and Cadbury Schweppes. Jeff offers his observations of this year’s crop of ads.

As an account executive, I can’t help but watch Super Bowl commercials and determine if they meet two criteria; are they entertaining/memorable and do they help sell product or build a brand. You can have all the animation, special effects and sophomoric humor you want but, if there is nothing in a spot that delivers on a brand message or specifically pushes a product’s features and benefits then, it doesn’t deliver. On the flip side, you can hit home on a message but, if it isn’t done in an entertaining and memorable way, I will wonder why you just threw away a cool 3 million!

That being said, I thought there were very few ads this year that delivered on both premises. Here are some that did and a few that DEFINITELY did not.

Those that worked:

5. E-Trade: Golf Locker Room
Last year the E*Trade infant ads were the hit of the game. It’s hard to follow up a campaign like that and this one was a nice evolution. The sarcastic, blackberry wielding baby heads out of the bedroom and into the locker room where he gives his elder golf partner a hard time. “Try reading the rules book Shankasorous” is a great line but the reality of his partners “401K shrinking” is the reason E-Trade is banking on consumers signing up for their services.

4. Denny’s: Serious Breakfast
This ad would have worked with just the humor and the nice slap at IHOP with the whipped cream. Add an unbelievable offer that is sure to drive traffic and pack a nice PR punch and this one serves it up nicely.

3. Pepsi: Bob Dylan/Will-I-Am Generations.
As a sucker for the pairing of great music, imagery and advertising, this spot had it all. The juxtaposition of the 60’s folk legend with the hip-hop innovator worked quite well for both entertainment value and getting the Pepsi generational message across. I question whether big Dylan fans know who Will-I-Am is and vice-versa but who cares, the back and forth footage and changing of tunes were a feast for the eyes and ears.

2. HULU: Alec Baldwin Brain Goo
The honesty of this spot didn’t pull any punches. The writing was superb and Alec Baldwin’s delivery was drag down knock out funny. “It just softens your brain” was the most memorable line of the evening. If you left that spot not wanting to get HULU or at least find out more about it then you just didn’t get it.

1. CARS.COM – Abernathy’s Confidence
Fantastically written spot. From the moment this spot started I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to this kid. The “call me” note to the older girl, the applying for Dean of Princeton to the open heart surgery with the ball point pen my fascination with this character only grew. I had no idea whose ad this was and when it all wrapped up communicating “confidence when buying a used car” all I could do was simply smile, nod and give kudos to the creators of this ad.

…And the worst? Carlos Boozer Bling
Can someone tell me how Carlos Boozer ties in with the audience of a mostly female online shopping portal? And bringing in the children to show off the bling was a lame attempt. Just plain stupid.

GoDaddy: Danica/Enhanced
Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t like this one. The message paid off in the end (enhance your business/sales/marketing efforts with a URL from Go.Daddy) and I’m usually OK with gratuitous sex in a spot but this once didn’t click and was annoying. It’s Time
It’s bad enough when a spot ends and you say to yourself, “I never want to see that again.” It’s worse when you say that 20 seconds into a 60 second spot. Thumbs down all around for this spot.

Ron Gerlach worked in radio broadcasting for six years before entering the advertising industry. Ron was been in the ad game for 12 years and has worked with such notable clients as Husqvarna, Hard Rock Café and Bosch Power Tools.

Here’s his review of the ads from a copy writing point of view.
As a creative, I tend to look at Super Bowl commercials a bit differently. Yeah, yeah, I know—they need to sell the product. But this is the Super Bowl, so show me production value! I want to see Ben Hur in 30 seconds! Some I did, but less so than previous years.

Overall, the stuff was…eh. OK, I guess. Not really sure what to expect, considering the downturn in the economy and how some of the advertisers (i.e. car companies) would be perceived. There seemed to be a heavy emphasis on nostalgia—take a look at what Audi Pepsi’s Bob Dylan spot did—Coke kept up its recent line of over-the-top animation spots, and Budweiser did a nice job of keeping the Clydesdale, but twisting the storyline just enough to make it refreshing to watch.
With that being said, here are my Top 5 favorites from Super Bowl Sunday…

5. Coke Zero: Polamalu
One of the best Super Bowl ads ever was Mean Joe Greene tossing the jersey for the kid’s Coke. So it made perfect sense to parody that and update it — and they did a pretty good job with this one. It’s an added bonus that the Steelers were playing in the game. But you just knew there would be a twist to the storyline. Troy Polamalu was cool in the Joe Greene role and watching him tackle a bunch of suits was a nice touch.

4. Bridgestone: Potato Heads
Not only could every guy in the male-dominated audience relate to the spot, when’s the last time you thought about how much fun Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head were as kids? Plus, we all wish that would happen while driving with our wives and girlfriends. Admit it!

3. E-Trade: Babies
If you love Family Guy, you’ve got to love this kid! Even though we knew what was coming (sort of), this is the latest in a series of memorable pieces to this campaign, with our wide-eyed star picking up a partner. Clever banter, nice smartass wit. My kinda kid!

2. Doritos: Office Ball
The inside story about this takes it from good to great. The Doritos ad breaking into a vending machine was the work of someone who submitted the idea for the ad in an online contest. Started out a little slow—and the actor was too over-the-top—but a globe to the balls is ALWAYS funny.

1. Pepsi Max: I’m Good
Ah…slapstick at it’s finest! This one made me laugh out loud and, with the exception of the brunette in the Doritos spot losing her dress, is the only spot I WANTED to watch again and show to friends and family. That’s exactly how guys would react, which makes me feel that this product knows me. Funny, with a hint of truth to it. My favorite.

…And the worst?

Pepsi: Magruber
Schlocky, not funny and slow. Hated it. There.

GoDaddy: Danica
Even for guys who like looking at…ahem, enhancements, these were just painful to watch. And sooo expected. The first go-around was fun (in a manly sort of way), but now it’s just embarrassing to watch. It’s Time
The annoying repetition of sounds in this spot made me wish that they had just run their collective fingernails against the chalkboard! If I never see this spot again, I will be very happy.

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2009 World of Concrete

Everything from mixing it, moving it, sealing it, beautifying it, to demolishing it, everyone who touches concrete was at this year’s World of Concrete show in Las Vegas.

The final attendance numbers haven’t been disclosed yet, but Hanley Wood Exhibitions, the organizer of the show, estimates a decline from the 84,000 who attended last year’s show. Forecasted attendance is about 70,000 people, almost a 17% drop.

UPDATE: ENR has a great article on attendance.

Aside from the doom and gloom associated with the downturn in the economy, there were plenty of bright spots.

Joe Nasvik from Concrete Construction and Residential Concrete gave us a first-hand tour of the Artistry in Decorative Concrete area where the most skilled artisans created masterpieces. From trees to rocks to Marilyn Monroe, these folks left us scratching our heads wondering how they could create something so life like from something that usually resembles a building or sidewalk.

We were at the show with Bosch Power Tools and Accessories and they had plenty of great new products. Bosch’s heritage in concrete/masonry tools dates back to the 1930’s with the launch of the world’s first rotary and demolition hammer. Bosch’s dedication to innovation has allowed the company to maintain its position and the world’s leading power tool and accessory manufacturer.

New this year from Bosch:

New Power Tools
Vibration Control Rotary and Demo Hammers -- New hammers offer best-in-class performance in both vibration reduction and power-to-weight ratio.

1900 Series Large Angle Grinders with Vibration Control -- Re-defining innovation. These are the lightest large angle grinders available and they feature the most advanced anti-vibration system in the world.

18V Litheon Drilling/Driving/Cutting Tools -- Check out all of the new tools in Bosch’s 18V lithium ion lineup, including a brand new 18V Impactor!

11250VSRD Dust Collecting Rotary Hammer -- A finalist in this year’s Most Innovative Products program and recipient of a 2008 Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award, the 11250VSRD Dust Collecting Rotary Hammer is the most compact and most efficient dust-collecting rotary hammer on the market.

New Accessories
X5L -- Concrete bit that can also cut small-diameter precision holes in rebar.
Rebar Cutter -- Designed for larger diameter holes, easily cuts through toughest rebar.
Multi-Construction Bit -- Drills through concrete, masonry, wood, plastic and metal.
Edge Recip Blade -- Best suited for metal cutting applications

Also, check out Cop Tool ( for a great recap of the event. Read more!