Scattered Brilliance

From my brain to paper (or pixels as the case may be)

Archive for January, 2008

H&R Block YouTube campaign gone bad.

When the marketing team at H&R Block put this campaign together, I don’t think they envisioned having to leave a comment like this in the comments of that same campaign;

“Hey there YouTubers. I’m the director of online marketing for H&R Block’s digital tax solutions. I appreciate your comments about transparency and I want to let you know that I couldn’t agree more. I thought we were pretty overt about making it clear that Truman was our creation and not a real person. The thought that anyone might think we were trying to pull one over on you makes me ill. Not the intention at all. So if you feel we led you astray, I sincerely apologize.
Truman is just our way of acknowledging that no one really wants to think about taxes and that we really have to go out on a limb to get anyone to pay attention to a (not very sexy) subject that could actually have a big impact on your pocket book.
Thanks for your Comments!

Wow, reading that again three thoughts cross my mind.

(1) The campaign missed the mark. The more you watch the fictional Truman, the more you actually like him. But the first impression I got was confusion over who Truman was and why he was talking to me on YouTube. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I immediately wrote him off.

(2) I feel terrible for “A” over at H&R Block. They clearly put creative effort, thought, and resources against this campaign. This response clearly wasn’t what they expected. Talk about having to eat crow.

(3) I give “A” a tremendous amount of credit for stepping up and joining the conversation around this campaign. I would encourage them to post a video response and to find a way to capitalize on the humor that lies underneath their character Truman.

New “conversational marketing” is a tricky space. I think the lines of content and advertising is often close to being crossed. I also think that the audience within many of the new media and social networking worlds are much more fickle and cynical towards advertising. If it doesn’t add value or if it’s “lame”, you run into situations like this.

It’s interesting. If this campaign ran on TV, would H&R Block have ever known if their character was resonating or not? If “Dude, your getting a Dell Steven” was a YouTube creation would he have been similarly dismissed as a “gay capitalist creation?

We are in a new world of marketing. One that is transparent both ways. Marketers must be transparent to consumers, because consumers won’t pull any punches with their views back.


Marshawn Lynch barking at the Yardbarker Super Bowl party.

Marshawn Lynch is about to become my favorite sports personality of all time.  Not only is he kicking it “Beast Mode” but he’s also dropping the Cal Berkley knowledge all over the Yard on his blog.

c with the circle

All that work at the computer and “spell checking” busted out the following:

MARSHAWN: “what it do yard barker im n tempe az doin it big wit d man(dewey) and da hooters girl….found out ma mans Dewey knew the producer from da wire and im tryin to get him to hook me up so i can b and extra yard feel me doe….”


Did Rudy Giuliani miscalculate campaign strategy?

guiliani dropping out of the race?

Upon hearing the news that it was likely that Rudy Giuliani will withdraw his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination and throw his support to Sen. John McCain before the Super Tuesday push on February 5th, my only thought was “wow, he fucked up his campaign strategy pretty badly.”

Now, I am not a person invested much in “politics”, but campaigns too me are fascinating bits of game theory and strategy. It’s less about who you are and what you can do for the country than the strategy and tactics that create the public opinion of those things. I think this is less true in the general election for president, but very much true in the drawn out race for the nomination.

I may not have all the facts straight, but let me play them back as I see them.

Coming into the run for the nomination, the Republican race seemed like a race between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani with John McCain close at their heels.  The likes of Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson were involved in the race, but not likely to win unless everything fell right for them, and Ron Paul had fanatical support but may have been nothing more than a “Howard Dean-esque” internet phenomenon.

While Romney, Huckabee, and Thompson focused on the opening foray to the nomination in Iowa and McCain there after in New Hampshire, Giuliani steadfastly campaigned in the Super Tuesday states turning his back on the theory that early momentum could bolster a candidate to the nomination.   It would appear that this was a campaign strategy built on misguided logic.  By spending all his time and resources in the Super Tuesday states hoping to hang around on reputation and make his run at the nomination in the 41% of Republican delegates up for grabs that across 24 states, Giuliani not only didn’t create a crescendo of public opinion and momentum coming into those states, but he lost the ability to raise money as the campaign progressed.  No one wants to sink money into a failing candidate.

Even recent statements by Giuliani bring his campaign strategy into question.  According to the Los Angeles Times;

“In a meeting in the back of his chartered plane en route to St. Petersburg, Fla., a short while ago, the onetime, longtime GOP front-runner told a small group of reporters, including The Times’ Louise Roug: “The winner of Florida will win the nomination.”  – LA Times, Top of the Ticket.

If he believed that, then why wouldn’t he have built a campaign to build momentum into Florida and then ride that through the Super Tuesday states to the nomination, much like John McCain has.

I wasn’t a supporter of Giuliani regardless of his campaign strategy and am happy that he’ll throw his support McCain’s way.  But if I were a Giuliani supporter or God forbid his campaign team, I’d be doing alot of Super Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking when looking at the way this campaign for the nomination played out.

Mahalo Daily: State of the Union 2008 in 60 seconds.

Mahalo Daily’s done it again with a condensed recap of a long speech.

Personally, I thought the Steve Jobs’ recap was more entertaining and a little more on point to the overall message.

Or maybe Jobs is just a better and more cogent speaker than our president.

Or maybe Bush doesn’t use enough “booms”.

But then again, the day George Bush says “boom” is the day he “presses the button” and maybe that isn’t the best option either.

press the button

Will Leitch of Deadspin vs. Mark Cuban

Will Leitch, the founder and editor of has been making the rounds in media circles lately.

Leitch recently ran smack into the middle of a tete-a-tete with Dallas Mavericks owner and “fellow blogger” Mark Cuban. I am not sure that Mark is the type of guy you want to take on in a fight. He’s smart, influential, willing to play dirty, and damn competitive.


Let’s set the stage. Cuban had agreed to do an interview with GQ. Leitch is freelancing for GQ. Cuban isn’t a big fan of and/or Leitch dating back to Leitch’s coverage of this incident.

Cuban agrees to do the interview, although later saying about Leitch’s appearance on GQ’s behalf;

“Its my fault. I was stupid to think that the guy who runs Deadspin could stop being the guy who runs Deadspin. I should have asked for GQ to send someone else. Better yet, I should have stuck to my rules and only do interviews via email.” – Mark Cuban, Blog Maverick

The interview takes place, and the GQ piece is published and is entitled, “The Most Likable Blowhard in Sports.” It’s clear that there was some contention in the interview, but the piece overall is very complimentary of Cuban.

“It takes only about thirty seconds before things turn confrontational, with Cuban attacking me for working as the editor of the sports blog But that’s Mark Cuban: He’s known me for maybe thirty seconds and already has no problem calling me a hack. For that I say, God bless him.” – Will Leitch, GQ

So, nothing newsworthy right?

Well, that was until Leitch started his press tours for his recently released book (more on that to follow). Leitch writes a guest post on Gawker Media sister site and tech rag Valleywag where he references his recent experience with Cuban in the GQ interview.

Cuban, who explicitly asked during the interview that this was not to be for any purposes other than GQ, finds this and takes offense posing the following question on his blog;

“Is it ethical for a blogger/journalist to travel on their [GQ’s] dime to do an interview for their magazine and then use the interview to generate a blog for his site [Deadspin/Valleywag] from a subject that was not expected to be blogged about. – Mark Cuban, Blog Maverick

The shit storm was on! Leitch rebuts, Cuban rebuts, comments from the peanut gallery ensue.

At the end of the day, I think Cuban overreacted to the details of the situation. The GQ piece was written and in public record, then quoted from in the Valleywag piece with some tangential experiential information from Leitch. Hardly unethical, at the same time though, hardly the smartest thing for Leitch to do given the underlying subtext to the beginning of the interview.

All of this publicity couldn’t be a better thing for Leitch however as his new book about the underbelly of the sports media landscape hits the shelves on bookstores around the country.

God Save the Fan: How Preening Sportscasters, Athletes Who Speak in the Third Person, and the Occasional Convicted Quarterback Have Taken the Fun Out of Sports (And How We Can Get It Back) is Leitch’s new piece of work.  I have it on order and will give a review once it is devoured. (Amazon)

In the meantime, here’s a audio of a interview Leitch did touting the book this week on Boston’s sports radio station WEEI and their morning show Dennis and Callahan.

Comcast + Tivo = Happy Tim

Comcast + Tivo

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I think it was announced over two years ago. But Comcast plus Tivo is finally here and it has been ordered (install coming on Wednesday).

It doesn’t look like this will add too much additional functionality onto the DVR service I currently have.  It will add the Tivo look and feel and ease of navigation, some additional personalization (thumbs up, thumbs down, etc), and hopefully an overall less glichy smoother guide.

I’ll dig in with a full comparison/review this weekend after having it “in house for a little while.

Increase the range of your Wii sensor bar.

I got this email from a friend, Drew regarding Wii hacks.

“Just disassemble the sensor bar, cut the two wires between the LEDs, solder in a couple 24 gauge wires (~4’’), and you have a sensor bar with significantly increased range. I found it to be worth the time, but it just depends on your home setup.”



I may give this a try this weekend. If I get a chance, I’ll grab pictures as I go and post a step by step.