Re-creating Denny’s

•July 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Just read about Denny’s working to re-create itself as the late-night diner for music fans  (read the WSJ article  here) and was impressed how their marketing team is grabbing a trend that not only re-freshes their image, but has tangible hooks to drive traffic.    (They have created a “Rockstar” menu for late night with items created by musicians from Good Charlotte and others).  They’re also giving touring bands $1000 in gift cards to help draw them (and their fans) to the restaurants. 

Next time I see Nine Inch Nails, I’ll be looking for a Denny’s to grab a bite to eat and a review of the show.  Ok, seriously, I’m not the target demographic, but truly applaud them for working to make themselves relevant!

Disneyland Goes 3D

•June 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I had a chance to visit Disneyland and California Adventure last Sunday, and rode Space Mountain three times thanks to my cousin’s skill at navigating the park and knowing how to avoid lines. We DID stand in line for 45 minutes for ToyStory Mania in California Adventure Park — and it was worth it!

This was a ride that let you “throw” balls to break plates, “toss” rings  and play other Midway games — in 3D.  The two-person cars whip you around the inside of the arcade (you feel a bit like you’re a pinball being slingshotted) and then you  face a huge 3D projection screen (over 40 feet, I guess) where you start trying to win points.  The depth of the imagery; the humor of the scenes (little green army men sweeping up broken plates) and the SFX all work together to make a really fun experience.  Its easy to see how they can refresh the games much more easily than with physical infrastructure.

The polarized 3D glasses worked well: I felt only a small bit of eyestrain at the end of the ride (I almost always have some discomfort with any 3D technology) –but it could have been because I was working so hard  trying to beat my son’s score!

Too good to pass up: The Smell of Books

•June 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a funny bit of satire for all of you on using e-Readers, but a bit wistful about giving up old-fashioned books:   “The Smell of Books.”

Using Instant Messaging for Keynote Surveys

•June 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

We recently wrapped up a keynote presentation for one of our clients at the NABShow (National Association of Broadcasters) and tested some new technology for conducting an audience survey. 

One of our ongoing challenges is collecting data about how the audience responds to the messages in the content we’ve developed.  Ideally, we like to survey the audience both before and after a keynote so that we can more accurately measure the shift in opinion.  Unfortunately, access to the audience is often outside of our control.  Many times we are producing individual keynotes that are part of larger events produced by outside media or industry groups and the ability to survey the audience is limited.

In this case, we were limited to polling the audience very briefly at the end of our keynote.  But, we still managed to generate a response rate approaching 10%!

We achieved this in two ways.  First, we provided an incentive for completing the survey: a chance to win a valuable software package.  Second, we made it easy to complete the survey. 

We used an SMS-based instant messaging survey for the first time, in addition to a traditional HTML-based survey.

By texting the word “keynote” to a short IM address, anybody in the audience with a mobile phone was able to take part in a brief, interactive, 4 question survey.  More than half the completed surveys were returned via SMS (vs. the traditional Web-based survey), effectively doubling our response rate.

There were some tradeoffs by using SMS based surveys, but we came up with some good workarounds.  I’m very encouraged by the initial results and I think this will continue to be a valuable tool in our audience research arsenal — especially for younger and text savvy audiences who are used to texting.

Using our Words

•June 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The day I discovered Wordle, I was excited like a little kid with a new toy.  I love words, always have.  Seems obvious for someone who earns her living crafting stories.   Lucky for me, that feeling rarely goes away.  What I love most about the Wordle effect is the emotional, intuitive weight that each word gains by being stripped of grammatical connectors.  It gives it a certain elegance, poetry.   So it was a great day when I discovered the New York Times version of their “Tag Cloud.”  It’s called “How do you feel about the economy?”  Not as pretty as a Wordle, but yet quite powerful.   Hundreds of readers, may be thousands, sending one word a day, creating slowly, this giant emotional cloud.  A simple way to anonymously answer the big question “How do you feel?” I entered my first word on the first day of April, it was “hopeful.”  On that day, the biggest word was “Stressed.”  Today, the two biggest words are “optimistic” and “hopeful.”   Made me feel good.

Bruce wins David R. Saunders Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching

•June 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Bruce loves teaching. It’s in his bones. Beyond his “regular” job at STRA, once a year he teaches the “Gut Course” at the University of Washington School of Medicine. It is a course teaching the essentials of the gastro intestinal track. Today we learned that Bruce was awarded the David. R. Saunders Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching.  We are beaming with pride.

Two Most Important Lists in Your Life

•May 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The headline grabbed my attention … and I clicked through to the BNET article  about the 2 most important lists in your life: What keeps you up at night; and What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Good things to think about….how would you answer?