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New Section Coming Soon: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Tomorrow, I'm going to launch "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", inspired by a poker variant of the same name. This section will represent an engineering perspective into the world of business and marketing. I started writing a daily entry about it two days ago, and it just started growing out of control so I decided that it warranted its own section.

Essentially, it will be a collection of different marketing campaigns, advertising campaigns, and business moves that I come across and wish to share with you. Each of these tidbits will include my own personal analysis of what I think is going on, and whether it's Good, Bad, or Ugly. I decided that this scoring mechanism fit a bit better than some numerical score or star rating would have.

The Good: If I score something as Good, then it's something that makes sense. It's hard to think of an example off the top of my head, but let's try it anyway.

Let's say that EMC buys out VMWare to expand their software offerings. By encouraging people to use virtualization, and thus more hard disk space, EMC can offer rationale for their customers to add capacity via their hardware. Wait, that already happened? Well, that's good. See? This is working out already. And you were skeptical of the whole thing.

The Bad: This is the opposite of Good. It means... wait for it... Not good. Generally a bad decision or bad marketing campaign. Here's one for you.

Dunkin Donuts : Everywhere that you go in this area, Dunkin Donuts is there. I never really thought much of them in college, but as I started drinking more and more coffee, I realized that it was actually pretty hard to find anywhere that could provide a decent cup of coffee on such a regular basis. McDonalds of course has tried to enter this market with Newman's Own from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and I certainly can't blame them for wanting to try. However, McDonalds isn't the focus here.

Those of you who have seen it will likely recall the latest Dunkin Donuts commercial that has this catchy little song coupled to it that starts off "Doing things is what I like to do.... yes!" After about the fifth time of hearing the commercial, I finally started to remember what the advertisement is actually for. Drink coffee at Dunkin Donuts. For those of you who have not seen or heard this commercial, you're not missing anything.

The whole advertisement simply doesn't make much sense. It doesn't relate to the company, it doesn't relate to selling donuts, and it doesn't relate to selling coffee. So, what's it for? It's apparently an attempt to make the consumer think that getting things done is somehow tied to coffee and donuts which must be from Dunkin Donuts. Make sense yet? I didn't think so. I don't think anyone is buying that load of bologna. You get things done by working on them, not by taking a coffee break.

There's really no hook for the advertisement back into the company. You could just as easily substitute Tim Hortons, or Starbucks, Brueggers, or any of a dozen other companies who sell morning beverages and refreshments and it wouldn't make any difference at all.

The Ugly: This is worse than 'Good', worse than 'Not Good', and is quite a bit more terrible than 'Bad'. These are the sort of things that just don't make much sense, are going to cost a boatload of money, and won't earn a company any favors. It can also be something that perhaps earns a short term gain (read: stock price increase so executives can sell their stock options) but will be highly detrimental to the company in the future.

Cingular Wireless: Cingular just started advertising in the Boston area that they spent $6 billion last year on their network. But for the last 4 years running, Verizon has been spending in excess of $4 billion per year, and has marketed the heck out of that statement. This is a losing situation for Cingular. They're challenging Verizon from a position of inferiority that has been acquired over the course of 4 years. Just this past year have they beaten Verizon. It's going to take years and no less than $6 billion per year for the next 3 years to beat Verizon in this little game.

And the worst part of it all? Nobody cares. I have Verizon, and quite frankly I don't give a hoot (don't pollute) who spent what on their network. I just want my cell phone to work. And being locked into a cell phone plan for 2 years means even if I wasn't happy with my service (and a lot of people aren't), I couldn't switch anyway without paying a hefty early termination fee of $175. Bad situation for Cingular. Very bad. Not only will they lose this battle, it will cost them billions of dollars to do it.

I think that by now, you probably have a reasonably decent idea of what to expect from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. See you tomorrow, different time, same place.


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