Monday, January 24, 2011

A Marketing Lesson for WWE: "Please, Don't Try This at Home" Re-Invented

It’s pretty well known that WWE wrestling is a well-faked theatrical event. But special techniques and little exploits in equipment make it look painfully real.
The thing is though, it’s so real that most kids take it seriously, and a handful of them actually try the moves. And no matter how many John Cena wristbands they wear, it just doesn’t work out. That’s the main premise for the “Please, Don’t Try This” ads that they’ve been airing for years.

But honestly, if you’re a little 8-year old, are you really gonna listen to an ad that tells you not to take after your idol in life, just because it says “please”? And after seeing a vignette of injuries, wouldn’t any regular toddler psychopath be more attracted to trying the WWE moves? If you really wanted to send a message to that bully who keeps taking your lunch money, do you call him a fat loserpants, or do you tear his pectoral muscle off his shoulder with an RKO?


And this blatantly ineffective promotion hasn’t helped the WWE in its quest to appeal to concerned parents. Professional wrestling has become synonymous with over-the-top violence, and to shed this image, I suggest this to Vince McMahon:
How about you make an ad that actually encourages kids to try this? Hear me out— it could go something like this:

… WWE Superstars are professionally trained performers and the moves we perform take years to perfect. Without proper training you will injure yourself. That’s not to say that you can never try them. Ask your parents if you can enrol in a wrestling school and search for one online at, so you can try what we do in the ring, in a safe environment. If you want to be where I am today, wrestling in the WWE, stay safe. Train before you do.

To begin with, this would strike a real chord in kids’ minds, when they hear that they can be wrestling in the WWE. It’s not hypocritical; it’s not telling you not to try something, right before you see someone try it. And it’s engaging because the kids are shown how they can “try this” and not why they can’t.

At the same time, the WWE can start cultivating more talent, which can only mean better programming. Flat out, it’s a win-win.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Limewire Alternatives: Who Will Die, Who Will Be the Next Limewire?

A few days ago, the almighty Limewire was forced to shut down by the US Federal Court. However, while this marks the end of one saintly service’s run, it also opens the door for a flood of new free music services.

Let’s face it. These days, not many people are willing to spend a dollar per song to craft libraries of two or three thousand tracks; it’s just not practical. That’s why Limewire was such a runaway success and likewise, why it was the prime target for a mega-lawsuit. Still, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) can’t shut down every last file-sharing service that becomes available for download. So as new revolutionaries see the notoriety that Limewire has gained, free music services will obviously begin to pop up fervently in the coming weeks.

And I know that as soon as the end of Limewire was pronounced, millions of people around the world asked, “What will I do now?” And I also know that never did paying for music ever cross their mind (sorry, recording industry). So I’ll be interested to see what sorts of fresh applications and online services join the action, and how existing services will promote themselves with the dawn of this new age.

I’ve already seen Limewire alternatives, many under the keywords “Limewire shut down”, heavily advertised on Google searches. But while this may be a great way to gain quick publicity and a throng of new users, creators have got to keep in mind that the more openly they promote their product, the more easily the recording industry will find it. If they’re smart, those pesky RIAA dudes will be circling like vultures around the internet in the next few weeks.

We’ll just have to see who the next victim of this organization is and after the dust has settled, who the next Limewire will be. Or better yet, will Limewire make some sort of miraculous return as totally legal software, like some rumors are hinting at.

But just to tell you, don’t worry. There’ll never be a catastrophic point in time where you’ll have to pay for music. It’s your job to find out how to avoid it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Hot New Halloween Fundraising Idea: Using Halloween to Benefit Your Charity or Cause

Some people love everything about Halloween; decorating the house is not a chore for them, while costumes are spooky, whacky, or comical, and not stupid, stupid, or boring. However, if you’re either an obsessed business geek or a die-hard charity-goer (two labels that both happen to describe me), every special day on the calendar is a chance to fundraise. Halloween is no exception.

For years, UNICEF has partnered with elementary schools to encourage kids to ask for spare change along with the traditional sugary treats. They call the campaign "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" and they even provide little orange boxes for kids to carry the donated coins in.

And recently “Free the Children” has followed in UNICEF’s footsteps. The "Halloween for Hunger" program pushes teens to say “Trick or treat, and food to eat,” asking for canned food to donate to the less fortunate.

However, there’s a new business model that I’ve thought of. What if an organization asked people to pledge to donate a portion of their candy to some sort of worthy cause? This would incite some serious enthusiasm, simply because there’s no hassle for the homeowners who are already giving candy (they already have the candy ready), while no money is involved either.

After this, they could sell these candies at some sort of community event for, say $0.25 each to generate a nice profit for a good cause.

And honestly, who knows what level this idea can be taken to? What if a food bank created a campaign like “Trick or Treat for the Hungry” or “Trick or Treat for an Orphanage”, where participants would give their candy to those less fortunate who don’t get a taste of these yummy sweets every day?

Just think about how easy it is to make someone’s day, especially a kid’s. I know a Kit-Kat or a Caramilk can quickly brighten my mood; think about how it could make an orphan feel.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Effectively Organize a Fundraising Event: Learning from Free the Children's We Day

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending We Day, Free the Children’s annual kick-off party in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. As a result, not only was I able to skip school, but I was blessed to be a part of such a feverish and inspirational event. Around 18,000 youth leaders set their alarms for 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, to cram themselves into the Air Canada Centre by 8:30. And even so, they had the energy to scream, sing, and do the “We Day Dance” throughout five spectacular hours of inspirational programming.

The scene seemed more like a Justin Bieber concert than your old charity event. But the amazing thing was that teens― yes, hormone-filled, good-for-nothing teens― screamed for world- renowned philanthropists, inspirational speakers, and newspaper editors rather than pop stars with obscenely high-pitched voices.

Simply put, each year, We Day is a feat in humanity’s collective quest to make the world a better place.

So how did Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of Free the Children create such a successful event? Well, it’s a combination of two crucial things:

Remembering the Target Audience

Ask any successful speechwriter, business owner, or marketing manager; remembering the target audience is crucial. The basis of Free the Children’s outreach efforts is young people. Thus, We Day was made to cater to young people in every way possible. Down with Webster and K’naan, two hugely popular Canadian musical acts were invited to perform, while the atmosphere throughout the ceremonies was designed to encourage teens to scream and project their enthusiasm. We gladly participated in the usual “how’s-it-going―good―I can’t hear you― good!” routine, then moved onto stunts like a simultaneous photograph with flash on and an empowering chant of “Freedom!”

Setting a Good Example

So remembering the target audience pumped us up during the event. But what’s going to keep us pumped up for the rest of the school year is the example Free the Children set. Every inspirational speaker talked about dreaming big and following through in a youth-friendly way. Above all though, Free the Children exhibited what we can accomplish if we put our minds to it just by the kick-off party’s extravagance. Seeing everything that they were able to achieve with We Day inspired me to think about what I can achieve.

Now, if you’re running a fundraising event, just apply these two principles that Free the Children has perfected, and you’ll be seeing results in no time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Reason Why You Should Get Facebook: It's a the Best News Agency

Most of us would agree that being in the know is essential, especially in this fast-paced, digitalized world. These days, you’re simply expected to be aware of what’s going on in the world; newspapers and magazines litter every corner, in honor boxes, coffee shops, and street vending stations. TV and radio turn on with the push of a button. But above all, the internet means you can browse all your favorite papers with a few clicks of the mouse, while the dawn of the smartphone era means that you can be fed an incredible amount of information no matter where you are.

The fact in the matter is, if you don’t know which Congressman just visited where, which technology upstart just got taken over, and which superstar just won the Grammy for “Best New Artist,” your survival is at question. But there’s a dilemma.
Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to spend two reading the Times, online or otherwise. That’s why I’ll rarely read the news more than once or twice a week. I seem to have a more efficient method. It’s called Facebook.

Yes, along with stalking co-workers, finding long lost friends, and sharing your latest break-up story, Facebook has yet another function. I mean, think about it. Why is being informed so important to you? For most people, it’s all about being socially accepted and being able to hold a decent conversation with your neighbor on the subway.

And this exactly why it’s a good idea to trust your friends as your most reliable news agency. They’ll post all the things that go on in the world that they’re happy about, sad about, mad about, etc. And if your friends are, to some extent, a good representation of the average person, what’s on their minds is probably what’s on a lot of other people’s minds. Suddenly, after your friend posted a rant about her disdain for Tea Party-ers, you’ll know what’s basically happening when somebody brings it up in conversation.

Brilliantly simple but incredibly effective.