• Theaters Versus Studios: Battle For Dominance

    Companies that try to enact major changes within their industry all by themselves are often thwarted, but industry trade associations, which consist of many thousands of members, can often make things happen. One such organization, The National Association of Theatre Owners recently issued new guidelines for movie trailers limiting them to two minutes in length and suggesting that they are run no further out than five months from a particular movie's release. Why is this a big deal?

    Movie studios are not keen to be ordered around by their theater partners and believe that these guidelines are meant as a way to devote more time to revenue-generating advertisments that are usually shown prior to the previews. In addition, this development might encourage theaters to charge studios for premium trailer postioning closer to the movie start time, a practice that is not only prevalent in retail stores for the best shelf space, but is also already emerging in the movie industry already.

    But studios don't want to lose any more power in this supply chain, since they are the ones that make the products in the first place. The theater, in th emind of the studio executive, is merely a "retailer". On the other hand,  theaters have to contend with the continued migration of legions of consumers away from the big screen and towards at-home movie consumption. And so they are reticent to raise prices any more than they already have. Additional revenue streats must be found if the current model is to thrive.

    Ultimately the consumer will have a say in determining what happens here, and there are already signs that many people are annoyed at the length of trailers these days, and the fact that they often come out 9-12 months in advance. Who should have more control, theaters or studios? And who will likely win this battle of wills?

  • Super Ads: Part Deux

    Last year, marketers spent $292 million on Super Bowl ad spots alone. Three categories of products dominate the airwaves during this important four hour period and represent the lion's share of spending:

    Food and Beverage $104 million

    Automobiles $96 million

    Media/Entertainment $24 million

    This is a significant investment indeed, and the sheer size of the audience is often given as the primary reason why advertisers clamor for spots every year. But we have identified that the audience is generally rather busy with social distractions during the game, and so much marketing is now done both before and after the contest so that advertisers can reach objectives. Is it really worth it?

    It depends. Some advice. The game is a terrible time to target a particular market segment, since there are so many kinds of people watching, so it is best to offer a mass market product and message. It also makes little sense to do a "one off" and spend your whole ad budget on one ad, so this game is only for the big boys. The sponsors of the NFL should advertise during the game so that the sponsorship can be reinforced in the minds of consumers, a practice called leveraging/activation, and to fend off ambush marketers (i.e., Budweiser). Ambush marketers love the game because they can buy up ads and confuse the viewer into thinking the company is actually the sponsor thereby diluting the effectiveness of the actual sponsors sponsorship (Discount Double Check). It's probably a good time for Valentine's Day ads since that particular "Hallmark Holiday" is coming up shortly, and most of America observes one ritual or another related to this day, so expect the usual taste-free Teleflora ad. Hashtags or some other direct response mechanism should be used for one-to-one marketing purposes and measurablity. And it is not a good time for political ads, advocacy ads on social issues, or anything else that might kill someone's buzz.

    I have been doing media interviews for seven years covering these ads, and one thing I can say is that nothing much changes from year to year, so I will spare you any previews. You can go online and look at them yourself.




  • Super Ads

    This year, a 30-second ad spot during the Superbowl is priced at $4 million, which is of course a record, but what is becoming more and more intriguing than the rising price is the pregame buzz ad generated online by marketers.

    Despite the fact that a large number of people say that they will closely watch the ads during the game, which for many years were better than the games themselves, most people miss many of the ads. Over the past decade, the games have been better, which is good news for marketers that advertise during the second half. But the fact of the matter is that people don't always do what they say they will do in surveys, and 90% of fans watch the game with others in a social setting. In communication theory the presence of others represents "noise", which is what typically gets in the way of a receiver decoding the message.  Super Bowl parties represent lots of noise, which leads many to question the value of advertising during the game at all. So what is a savvy marketer to do?

    The more that marketers can get people to anticipate something, the more likely it is your message will get through. Ads are now offered for preview online, teasers and trailers wet the appetite for what is to come during the game, and some advertisers such as Doritos even get fans to make the ads for free, running contests to see whose ad gets played. Genius! In the span of just a couple of years, the menu has grown from just a few ads to nearly all of them.

    This is simply good marketing. Measurable communications objectives can be achieved well before the game itself, and additional objectives can be achieved after the game depending upon how the ad was received. Like Black Friday, a one day event has turned into two weeks, but as long as the ads are well made, consumers will continue to seek them out.


  • Barclays Shifts Strategy

    Barclays. The name is almost synonymous with the English Premier League due to its long-running sponsorship agreement with the sport property. But the giant British bank has announced that it is re-evaluating its entire marketing strategy, and will almost certainly pare down its efforts to market its services "through sport". In addition to the EPL, Barclays also has relationships with the ATP World Tour, the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, Phil Mickelson, the South African rugby team and others. The company, which will most likely shift marketing dollars to other mediums (otherwise why announce it?), will probably opt not to renew when certain contracts run out. Why?

    Sports sponsorship isn't for every brand. Certainly beer, soda, cars, grocery stores, retail banks, and other ubiquitous goods seem more suited to sport sponsorship than does a high end bank. In other words, Barclays could probably be a bit more strategic about where it places its dollars to reach its targeted, high income, business decision-making consumer base. But clearly the strategy appears to be a sound one, since all of the sport properties previously mentioned tend to attract a this high end viewer, but there is far too much of what we call "waste coverage" in marketing. That is, marketers waste money addressing an audience that has neither the ability or the desire to buy its services.  the big question involveswhether or not this shift an isolated incident or will marketers at other companies begin to pull away?

    The truth of the matter is that these shifts in strategies happen all of the time. For every company that diverts dollars away from sponsorship, there are one or two companies making sport marketing sponsorship investments. It will be interesting to see which properties are retained and which ones will be forced to find another sponsor, as well as whether or not other big marketers follow the lead of the venerable banker. Time will tell. 

  • Facial Profiling: Part Deux

    Where there was once skin, there is now facial hair. Americans, and younger folks in particular, currently have a love affair with facial hair. Don't worry. It won't last long. My earliest memories in the early 70's involve vivid images of dudes that looked a lot like Jesus-- the bearded, long-haired version. It actually seemed to me at the time that many of them were striving to truly look like Him. But we know that fashion comes and goes with the seasons, and when it comes to facial hair what hasn't been attributed to "fad" has been blamed on youth unemployment, particularly among younger males. Guys who don't have good jobs (or any jobs at all), says the theory, not only cannot afford expensive men's care products, but have no need to shave. I am not making this up, and the shaving categories numbers prove that something is amiss.

    Unilever, one of the largest purveyors of fine personal care products, is making a big bet that this trend will begin to reverse itself. Studies show that half of males say they don't like to shave because of irritation, so it seems that offering compelling products to address this area would be an excellent start. Introducing Expert Shave, a three-step, five product regimen that adds up to about $70 for the consumer. Not many underemployed young males are likely to jump at this, but as Gen Y gets older (the oldest is now 34 and the youngest is 14) and more affluent, they may adopt higher end personal care habits.

    Unilever isn't the only brand getting in on the action. Proctor & Gamble's Art of Shaving line and Dove's Men+Care line are examples of successful brands. So what can Unilever do to convince males in their late twenties and early thirties to pay more attention to grooming and quit emulating Major League Baseball players? Perhaps a very funny creative strategy focusing on the heightened employability and sense of social value (especially to potential mates) that might come with such an improvement in grooming might be in order. I picture a guy with a real long beard living in his parents' basement as a nice start to a creative campaign. Let's see what these companies do.

  • Basketball Feedback

    Who needs coaches and basketball camps when you can own a 94Fifty Basketball and learn how to be a better player without having to be shouted at, run laps, or deal with a bunch of other people? This groundbreaking innovation, which has all of the characteristics of a regulation basketball, is quite literally a "smart basketball", and in some ways it is smarter than any human could be.

    The ball/device is comprised of nine motion tracking sensors that track behaviors such as arc, dribble force, and ball speed, beam the data into a smartphone app (of course), and provides much needed feedback on what is needed for skill improvement. This is all done without the subjective variation that comes with human observation.

    Can this innovation "creatively destroy" the coaching industry? Of course not; however, at $295, such a tool could be a tremendous complementary asset for the professional player, aspiring professional, or rec league amateur. We will probably always need good coaches and effective camps, as the 94Fifty cannot provide human benefits such as encouragement, and of course none of the off-the ball skills necessary (such as defense and other aspects of offense) are addressed by the product. But this cool invention is yet another reminder of how technology can change the way a variety of services are delivered, and also illustrates how technology can play an important role in providing the accurate, unbiased feedback we humans desire for self improvement.

  • Credit Card Conundrum

    My two trips to Europe over the past 7 years had one thing in common no matter what country we were in. Every time we paid by credit card, which was rather often, we would get an exasperated look from the clerk as we all waited for the receipt to print out several copies in order to sign one of them. Eventually I asked one of the friendlier-looking clerks what the deal was, and he patiently explained that credit cards in the U.S. still operated on an antiquated, 1960's-era swiping system. Apparently Europe had moved on to smart-chip technology years ago, and the result has been far less fraud in those countries.

    Data is encrypted in these smart-chip credit cards, so it is harder to steal, and the recent massive theft of personal data from the databases of both Target and Neiman-Marcus has finally brought this issue into the spotlight. Retail and banking industries need to change and soon. There is no excuse for a nation such as ours to be a laggard in adopting a progressive technology that will be good for both business and consumers. So what's the hold up?

    It turns out that retailers and banks have been talking about this issue for some time and plan on reforming fraud liability to encourage the use of smart-chip cards, whatever that means...It appears that they too believe that data should be encrypted when it moves between cash registers and banks to protect all parties in the exchange process. Credit card companies are responsible for fraudulent purchases, but debit cards issues are much more difficult for consumers to resolve. The fact of the matter is that far to many transactions are made digitally to ignore this huge problem that costs tens of billions of dollars annually. Why has government failed to step in? Where has all the media coverage been in the past? Why haven't banks led the way to this transformation before now? We may never know, but it is highly likely that this event will speed things up a bit.

  • Weather Channel Left In Cold

    An interesting trend is occurring in the world of pay television. Not only are many younger users "cutting the cord", eschewing a $70 per month cable bill for cheaper internet entertainment, but there is a war between the cable/satellite providers and the channels that provide content. The latest tussle involves the Weather Channel and DirecTV, the latter of which wants the former to drop its price by 20%. TWC refused, DirecTV eliminated the channel, and the two parties aren't even in negotiations at this time. Eliminate the Weather Channel? Can they do that? Should they do that?


    Sure. Sometimes you have to play hardball. But these things are usually temporary, as consumers clamor for their missing programming, and eventually the two parties come to some sort of agreement in the name of customer satisfaction. Yet there is reason to believe that this time may be different, and the results could be game changing.

    You see, not only did the TV provider eliminate the costly, endlessly repetitive channel, but it replaced TWC with a channel of its own called Weather Nation. Think of it as a low budget version of TWC, but with consumers now able to get the great weather content on their mobile devices, and considering the constant attention given by CNN and other news channels to Super Storms and Polar Vortices, is an expensive channel dedicated solely to weather really necessary in this day and age? And will this be indicative of the future for other channels that charge too much?

    If this move is permanent, it is likely to make programmers think twice about what they charge in the future and be much more willing to negotiate a lower price. Fewer overall TV viewers means less money to go around, and we can all agree that there are far too many channels as it is. I have five versions of ION TV, which I think might be Canadian. Something has to give.

  • The Hut's Imperfect Pizza

    Pizza Hut, in an attempt to differentiate itself in the hyper-competitive pizza industry, has made what some analysts think is a very bold move. Marketers almost always strive to standardize their goods and services. Volleyballs should all look the same, and when one doesn't measure up to our specifications, we call it a defect. In the world of services the situation is no different. Customers expect consistency when it comes to what they receive, and a lack of consistency most often results in customer dissatisfaction. This is what branding is really all about. So what is Pizza Hut doing?

    The opposite. The company is placing a bet on the idea of "imperfect crusts" in an effort to make the brand appear "more authentic". The re-engineered, hand-tossed pizzas have a lighter, more seasoned crust that will vary slightly from pie to pie. Bakers are held to less stringent specifications, and so the idea of consumers getting a truly hand-made pizza is much more believable.

    This is an outstanding idea. Considering the zeitgeist, I cannot imagine a situation wherein consumers reject a food product that is less processed, and marketers know that uniformity is associated with processed foods. Pizza Hut also has a history of messing with their crust (stuffed, cone, etc.), so customers won't be surprised at seeing another new product. The imperfect pizza should be a slam dunk.

  • The Hits Keep On Coming

    Bored with radio stations that play the same songs ad nauseum? It's not your imagination. It appears that, on the whole, radio's answer to the introduction of disruptive products like Spotify is to play more and more of the same thing. That is, forget about variety, play the hits and only the hits. Over and over again.

    Indeed there is a growing body of research which shows that listeners tend to stay with a radio station when they hear a familiar song, and when a song comes on that they don't recognize, it's adios. Broadcasters have long suspected this to be true, and this research simply confirms what they already knew intuitively and experentially. As a result of these findings, Top 10 hits are now played at about twice the frequency today as they were only 10 years ago. That's 750,000 plays for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" during 2013 across 180 markets. The most popular song in 2003, "When I'm Gone" by 3 Doors Down, was "only" played 450,000 times by contrast. Whew! And 70 new Top 40 stations have formed over this same 10 year period to feed the monkey, so to speak.

    New tracking technologies now used by marketers (such as Portable People Meters) have largely replaced the old Arbitron ratings (based on diaries of consumer behavior), and these methods are far more effective at tracking what people are truly listening to. Good data oftenr esults in giving people mor eof what they want. Unfortunately it means more uninspired hits performed by former reality show contestants rather than the variety that some people crave. To get that sort of variety these days, you have Spotify. if you want to hear what's hip, traditional radio is still king. And that's quite a lot of Robin Thicke...

  • Missing the Mall

    As predicted by many and despite the usual holiday hype, retail sales numbers for the holiday season were very disappointing. These days, retailers try to out-discount one another, what I call "retailer one upmanship", and revenue must be generated at the expense of profits. It ain't the way it used to be, and the consumer migration to mobile devices has left some of the slower-moving retailers scratching their heads. Pricing power has shifted from big box retailers and shopping malls and towards e-commerce; and this year retailers experienced about half of the holiday traffic they had just three years ago. Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be a temporary shift by any means.

    Malls in particular have taken a rather big hit, and the reasons for this aren't really very clear, but we do know that online sales increased by more than double the rate of brick-and-mortar sales during 2013. This means that retailers will be under increasing pressure to match competitor prices and also offer a satisfactory, seamless online shopping experience. Retailers will also have to be more focused on making profits during the non-holiday time of year, since the insane discounting we have been experiencing has forever changed the industry dynamic. Failure to address this important social and technological shift may result in a failure to survive in the years to come, and Best Buy might be an important barometer of what we can expect industry-wide. Stay tuned.

  • 3-D Confections

    By now you have heard of 3-D printing, a sort of iterative technology wherein objects can be custom built out of a variety of substances. The process involves digital instructions for the "printer" to create almost any solid object. So if it can make car parts and Yoda heads, what about something a bit tastier?

    It didn't take long for 3D Systems, a market leader in 3D printing technology, to address the question we have all been asking since this device was introduced on a mass scale. That is, "Can it make things out of chocolate?" Indeed, two new devices introduced by the firm at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, can do just that. And not just that, but a variety of edible sugary delights can be made on demand.

    This will likely be a major hit with high end restaurants, caterers, high-end bakeries, do-it-yourself foodies, cake shops, and Hershey. Hershey? Yes. The maker of Kisses and the aforementioned 3D systems announced a new partnership to develop ways to use this incredible technology. Custom chocolate products from the Hershey website anyone?And perhaps the confectionary market applications will be more mundane than we think. Perhaps everyone will have one of these before too long. Either way, the results are sure to be fattening.

  • A New Age For Aluminum

    Aluminum is about to become relevant again. After several years of low prices and low demand, producers are enjoying a new bonanza, one that could last a very long time. Ford's best-selling F-150 pick-up is now 700 pounds lighter than it used to be. The reason? You guessed it. Product developers substituted aluminum for the steel usually used to make trucks. What is driving this trend?

    Several factors are probably at play here. For one, the federal government has mandated fuel efficiency standards that manufacturers must meet in the near future. Making a vehicle that is 700 pounds lighter will do wonders for fuel efficiency. Another factor is the price of aluminum. It has been low relative to steel, making substitution a more attractive option. A third factor involves improved safety features. Vehicles now sport all sorts of high tech safety benefits, and so product developers don't have to rely on size and weight to insure that their customers make it to their respective destinations.

    This significant development has been described as a major game changer for the industry. If Ford can maintain safety standards, look for competitors to follow suit and for aluminum prices to eventually increase as a result of increased demand. Steel is heavy, so it's not likely to make a return to the forefront. For now, auto makers will enjoy the benefits of this new innovation in design that consumers will likely notice only during high winds and, of course, at the gas pump.

  • Apple's Shiny App Store

    Apple may have stumbled over the past few years when it came to product innovation (you have to admit, it's been a while), but when it comes to apps, the company can do no wrong. But it isn't the company producing these programs, rather it is an army of independent programmers who write code specifically for the Apple platform. It is no different for Android or other platforms, but the sheer volume of Apple apps offered has turned the Apple App store into a $10 billion per year revenue generator. Granted Apple keeps only 30% of the cut, amounting to only $3 billion, but this number has been rising each year.

    Apple achieved first mover advantages in this area back in 2008 as developers raced to create programs for the popular iPhone. Blackberry wasn't terribly interested at the time. Since the vast majority of app code is operating system-specific, apps can't really be used with other operating systems unless adapted to those systems. Steve Jobs, Apple's iconic founder, was initially reticent to allow independent developers write programs for the handset, but quickly changed course in 2008 when it opened its app store. And Apple hasn't looked back since then!

    The future is indeed bright for Apple in this area as there seems to be no end to the number of apps that can be developed for countless uses. Apps make using our mobile devices much easier, and eventually there may be a universal app code for multiple platforms. That time isn't now, so in the meantime, everyone must pick their operating system of choice. Google is winning the platform war, at present, and Samsung is winning the handset war, as Apple has failed to innovate in recent years. But Google doesn't have much in the way of hardware, and Samsung lacks proprietary software; so if these two competitors expect to maintain their leadership, they must address this problem.

  • Airlines to Avoid

    As a fairly frequent flier, I am always excited to read the FlightStats report released annually by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The survey encompasses six different areas, ranks the major airlines according to how they rated in the research, and can be a very helpful tool for the consumer who makes air travel purchasing decisions based on a factor other than price.

    Wanna get away? Just don't count on Frontier to get you there on time. The airline ranked dead last in this area while Alaska and Delta led the pack; however, Frontier ranked second when it came to "fewest cancelled flights". So, Frontier might get you there late, but at least you get there the same day. United and American, two of the largest carriers, unsurprisingly rated the lowest in overall customer satisfaction, while Alaska and Delta were the best followed by Virgin America. Surprisingly, Southwest (along with United) ranks worst in the "mishandled bags" category, which is ironic considering that caring about the passenger's bags is a huge part of the carrier's creative advertising strategy. How embarrasing. Southwest, which finished 4th overall, is the second most likely carrier to bump you from your flight involuntarily.

    Does all of this matter? You bet it does. Not only are these numbers used by millions of travellers every year, but they also serve as benchmarks for competition within the industry. It is embarrasing to be last place in any of the categories, let alone all of them, and companies that rank lowest know that they must improve. But will they? Perhaps not. With another major merger pending, we are getting dangerously close to seeing an oligopoly situation in the industry. Remember that the figures in the study are "relational" in nature and do not reflect the overall industry-wide level of service, which has dropped in recent years. Being "the best" in a study such as this means that the carrier is just better than the rest, but not necessarily meeting customer expectations. And if you don't like the dwindling choice of airlines, you are welcome to take the Amtrak or Greyhound and see why people fly in the first place. The industry is ailing, and there seems to be no remedy in sight. 

  • Velveeta To Run Out Of "Cheese"

    My apologies to the reader in advance for covering this "story", because it may not really be a story at all. Out of nowhere Velveeta, purveyor of a cheese product that is particularly popular around this time of year, has announced that the company may in fact not have enough Velveeta to go around this year, so if you didn't already stock up you may be forced to turn to a competitor or substitute (crab dip anyone?). Say again? The company gave no reason for the "shortage" and said only that these things tend to happen from time to time in manufacturing.

    Indeed they do. The problem of too much or too little inventory is known as the "bullwhip effect", and a big mandate in sales forecasting is to avoid this problem. But running out of your product during the busiest time of year can only mean one of three things.

    1.  Decision-makers really messed up and will probably lose their jobs over this unforgivable sin.

    2.  The national advertising campaign that featured a recipe for chili con queso dip resulted in incredible demand not foreseen by marketers. Running out of product in this case would then not be so unforgivable.

    3.  This is a publicity stunt to generate buzz about the product and use the principle of "scarcity" to get people to act now. Supermarkets have yet to confirm or deny that they are having trouble stocking the shelves with Velveeta. If the statement is untrue, this would be a lie, unethical but probably not illegal, since it's the media covering the story and not an advertisement (which might catch the attention of the FTC). In this sense, the alleged PR tactic may be working since the media is talking about it.

    Maybe it's a combination of variables. Your guess is as good as mine. I'm leaning toward number three, but I am an angry Pooh. Let's see what happens.

  • More NFL On The Docket?

    When is too much of a good thing too much of a good thing? When it comes to America's favorite game, NFL football, the answer seems to be, "Huh? Are you nuts? Never." But the recent problems some teams experienced with selling playoff tickets as well as attendance issues during the season with several franchises such as Oakland and Jacksonville, suggest that America's appetite for the NFL, at least the in-stadium product, might be on the wane. Can it be true?

    Who knows. Probably so for reasons we have discussed in previous columns, but this will not stop the NFL from expanding its mix of tasty product offerings. And we aren't talking about a new website or some cool apps. There is every indication based on recent league statements and media reports that the TV line-up will likely expand during the regular season. Another game on Thursday as well as a possible game on Friday have been discussed, and with ratings being what they are for games, it might make sense not to run some many games at the same times on Sundays, which fragments the audience into several markets for certain games of regional interest. When only one game is broadcast, however, advertisers get more eyeballs and everyone makes more money per game. Simple.

    The more recent revelation from the league is its intention to expand the playoffs to include another Wild Card team from each conference. Once again, this will result in more stand-alone games and thus more TV revenue per game. So next year, the two teams left out of the mix (this year Arizona and Pittsburgh) would make the playoffs extending hope for fans and increasing revenue generation for the individual sport properties as well. The other Big Three professional leagues have done this previously. Just look at the NBA and NHL, which now have reputations for having far too many playoff games across a time period that is far too long.

    It's hard for marketers to eschew obvious revenue streams to maintain some vague idea of "class" or "tradition" or "integrity". This is why in movies these days there are so many sequels, re-makes, and other "tent poles" versus much riskier original screenplays. More is usually better here in America, and so it will be for the NFL and all of its stakeholders.

  • NFL Suffers First Demand Lapse

    Most sports fans would expect that an occasional playoff game in MLB, the NBA, and the NHL might not completely sell out due to the sheer volume of playoff games that teams can play in these sports. Several home games can be played over many weeks. But almost all of them do sell out. In the NFL, the opportunity to attend a home playoff game is a rare treat for local fans. Therefore, sell outs are absolutely expected, and the NFL even has a "black out rule" wherein games that don't sell out are not broadcast in the local market. It is a very old rule, and its purpose is to deter just what is happening right now; that is, fans opting for a superior in home viewing experience.

    Any marketing practitioner knows that the media experience in effect cannibalizes the live experience for spectator sports in a  local market. People who watch at home aren't going to the games, and an empty seat is just unused capacity that costs the team money. The NFL just hopes that there are enough consumers out there to fill the stadiums and fill the pockets of networks and the teams that share TV revenue. But it is becoming increasingly clear that a combination of high ticket prices, parking, crowds, boorish fans, concessions, time commitment, lack of mobile phone service, nasty weather, et al., are finally taking their collective toll on the in-game fan. More and more people are opting to stay home, while TV ratings have been soaring.

    Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Green Bay (of all places) are short by a few thousand tickets each, and so Corporate America has come to the rescue. Meijer, a grocery chain in Michigan, purchased 1,200 Colts tickets while Kroger and Proctor and Gamble came to the rescue for the Bengals. The real surprise was Green Bay, where the city itself owns the team. Team officials blame the unprecedented lack of demand on frigid temperatures and having mailed the ticket requests at a time when it appeared the Packers wouldn't make the playoffs. Hmmm....Nevertheless, the Fox affiliate that carries the games went ahead and bought the remaining tickets to avoid a revenue-busting blackout.

    Marketers can't simply make excuses when they fail to hit their goals. Efforts by the teams to sell the remaining seats in the final days were probably non-existent. Sales staff should have called/emailed every single season ticket holder that didn't order playoff tickets, every sponsor should have been offered seats, and efforts could have been made to donate the seats to non-profits. These are just a few of the more obvious prescriptions, and my student groups in my classes could probably come up with dozens of social media tactics if I asked them to.

    It appears that the NFL and other leagues had better step up efforts to get butts in the seats. The consumer shift toward the in-home media experience can't be stopped, and so lowering the cost of the in-game experience will eventually become necessary. These NCAA bowl game attendance is an embarrassment as it is, We don't need to duplicate that sad fact in the major professional sports.