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Welcome to the growing community inside the Monkey Shack. The business and marketing landscape is changing dramatically each and everyday, and this is where we come to discuss anything and everything related to business and marketing trends, observations, and strategy.

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Richter7

I currently work as the Director of Strategic Planning and Research at Richter7, the most creative and decorated agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Jan 30, 2009

Is $3M for a Super Bowl ad worth it?

First of all, its not just $3 million. Factor in production costs, and the total to advertise in the Super Bowl can easily exceed $5 million.

But the answer to the question is, well, it depends. For FedEx, the answer was "no." The advertiser pulled out of the game for the first time in 12 years due to the "unprecedented economic waters." Even GM, who is still sponsoring the Super Bowl, will not advertise during the game, largely because everything they do with bailout taxpayer dollars opens them up for further criticism.

But despite the economy, many jumped into the game for the first time. Rookies include Denny's, Teleflora, and Pedigree. The commercials will also include innovative media buys, including a one-second commercial for Miller High Life pitching the beer as "good and honest at a tasty price." Frito-Lay solicited consumer-made ads and will air one during the game, even offering $1 million to its creator if it is picked number one in USA Today's Ad Meter. And DreamWorks will air the first ever 3D ad for its upcoming film "Monsters vs. Aliens" and is distributing glasses for the spot through partnerships with Pepsi and Intel.

Most of the airtime was purchased prior to December, when the stock market was still above 11,000 and a recession hadn't yet been officially declared, meaning some of the advertisers (and their media planners) might now be regretting their decision. Yet expected to draw just shy of 100 million viewers, the Super Bowl is still the biggest platform imaginable for any national advertiser and even boats a fairly reasonable CPM of $30. Not to mention the fact that this is one event where people tune in to actually watch the commercials and not TiVo through them.

I'll check back in on Monday and give my grades of the advertisers and my thoughts on whether it was worth it for them or not.

Enjoy the game! video

Leia Mais…
Jan 27, 2009

The Digital Presidency



I blogged last week about how cool it was to watch the inauguration online and communicate with friends via Facebook at the same time. I got this email from Iconoculture this afternoon talking about just how many people went to the web to participate in the event.

More than a million citizens packed into every nook and cranny of the National Mall last week to watch now-President Obama take the oath — but also groundbreaking was the throng of proud Americans who enjoyed the event via technology.

Internet video supplier Akamai Technologies reported a record 7.7 million viewers who watched the event via live streaming; CNN.com posted Facebook status updates, earning 27 million pairs of eyeballs; and Twitter messages were flying at a rate of five times the norm per second (AP 1.21.09).

Still, the online experience was not unlike Chief Justice Roberts' version of the oath: a bit rocky. Viewers on streaming websites like Hulu and CBS were bogged down by stuttering pictures and long login delays. At the root of the tech hiccups was the overwhelming surge of netizens heading online in unison. And the en masse infusion illustrates that the desire of consumers to engage in a digital setting is universal.

President Obama has earned the moniker of the first "Digital President," thanks to an administration that burst onto the social media scene (YouTube, dedicated websites, Facebook). Some say the key to his election success was communication via multiple tech platforms. The People have spoken. Are you listening?

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Lifesaving checklists

I've always teased my wife for how she makes her checklists on scratch paper each morning of the things she needs to get done that day. But I've never been able to argue with how much she is actually able to get done on that checklist. Now, according to a recent study led by Atul Gawande and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a checklist doesn't just help you get things done. It can save lives, too.

Among the findings of the study was a simple change in procedure in operating rooms, which asked people to introduce themselves and describe their function before an operation starts. That one step had a profound impact on the success rates of surgeries, and was one of 19 steps in a checklist adopted by surgical teams at eight hospitals. Over the course of the year the teams saw their death rates fall by 40% and their rate of complications by almost a third.

While the researchers weren't able to attribute the success to any one of the items on the checklist, they concluded that it was the behavioral changes occasioned by the checklist that improved the outcomes of the operations conducted by the team.

The implication, however, extends well beyond healthcare. It shows how a combination of relatively small changes in procedure can have a huge impact on the quality and success of any venture, either in business or in personal life.

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Jan 23, 2009

A Short History of Marketing



From European agency Scholz & Friends

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Video games make you smarter, but lonelier


I work as a marketing researcher, and I love sports. So when I saw the results for a recent online survey conducted by EA Sports and the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, I was naturally intrigued. Then I saw this fact from the survey:

Madden video game players are, on average, "60% more knowledgeable about the game of football” than non-Madden playing NFL fans. Amazing! Now I have proof that when I play Madden I am only really in training for my future NFL head coaching job. This is great!

83% of Madden players correctly knew what it meant to bring an "8th man into the box", compared to only 47% of non-Madden players. Similarly, 59% of Madden players knew what the purpose is the purpose of sending a man in motion before an offensive play, compared to 19% of non-Madden players.

The survey also showed a correlation between the total hours of playing Madden NFL per week and football IQ, as scores increased the more a gamer played Madden NFL. A Madden NFL gamer who rarely plays the game attained an average score of 20.4, less than one hour a week scored 20.9, one to five hours per week scored 21.4, six to ten hours per week scored 22.4 and a Madden NFL gamer who plays more than ten hours a week earned an average score of 22.7.

The only bad news? This comes on the same day as another study conducted by BYU which showed that video games, even non-violent titles like Madden, is closely correlated with "lower relationship quality." I guess I'll turn the XBOX off after all.

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Jan 21, 2009

2M Facebok status updates

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Obamarketing


As I watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama yesterday (via CNN.com while liveblogging on Facebook), I thought back to the many posts I had written, and the vast number of articles I had read about Obama's unique marketing strategy that brought him both his party's nomination and eventually the White House. It was a strategy that combined online and offline, social and traditional, which some have since called Obamarketing.

The high point of Obamarketing began on a chilly January night in New Hampshire. Barack Obama had just lost the state's Democratic primary contest to front-runner Hillary Clinton. At the 10-minute mark of a 13-minute speech, he slipped into an aspirational cadence punctuated by a steady incantation of “Yes We Can!”

will.i.am, a hip-hop musician and frontman of the Black Eyed Peas, was listening. The speech sent him into the studio, where he teamed up with director Jesse Dylan to create and produce a “Yes We Can” video in just 48 hours.

From that point on, the timeline accelerated at a pace that had nothing to do with traditional advertising. Within a month, it was up and running on YouTube. Within three weeks, more than 22 million viewers had seen the clip. It was advertising. But it was advertising unlike any other that had played a critical role in a race for the White House.

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Jan 20, 2009

Change comes to WhiteHouse.gov


At 12:01 PM Eastern Time, before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office, WhiteHouse.gov, the internet home of the President's administration, had already changed over. The site is promised to "be a central part of President Obama's pledge to make his the most transparent and accountable administration in American history."

The site contained several pre-written blog posts, all date-stamped Tue, January 20, 12:01 p.m. EST. One of the entries was written by Macon Phillips, who introduces the role of the website for Obama's campaign to promote communication, transparency and participation, as well as introducing himself as Director of New Media, a newly created position within Obama's staff.

One thing that will be interesting to watch is whether or not Obama will break his silence online. Jay Rosen of PressThink has some advice for the 44th President: "Write it yourself."

From Rosen's blog, describing a DNC event that place prior to the official start of Obama's presidential campaign:

"Obama: 'We’re really glad the bloggers are here to get the word out. In fact, I may be coming to you for advice because I’m going to start blogging at my campaign website…'

"I have advice for him. Cupping my hands to make a faux megaphone, I shout out to Barack Obama, 'write it yourself!' Meaning: Don’t start a blog and make it an extension of the press release. You’d be worse off, with a lame blog and a blown start in the race to be smart online. Don’t start a Barack Obama blog at all unless you are willing to write it yourself. He heard me (and saw me) and chuckled. 'When I find three hours of free time in my day, I will do that.'

"Which was a diss. But a polite, smiley one; certainly I took no offense. Later on he did start writing blog posts himself— on Daily Kos, for example.

"On Saturday, as he made his way by train to Washington for inauguration as our 44th president, that was still my advice: write it yourself. You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done. Turn the page, is the way Obama put it during the 2008 campaign. I like that image. But once you turn the page you have to write it yourself."

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Jan 16, 2009

Waste of money

I don't know exactly how much money Sprint is paying for their pre-roll advertisements on NBC.com, but they certainly aren't getting their money's worth. I went online to view a short clip I was referred to, which had a pre-roll ad from Sprint before the clip loaded. But is never played. Instead, the flash loader sat at 0%, perpetually trying in vain to load a dynamic ad that never materialized. The 30 seconds ran up, and my clip played without me ever having seen the ad Sprint was shelling out cash for me to see.

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Twitter covers crash of US Airways 1549

Twitter once again demonstrated its power when it became the primary source of information in the moments immediately following yesterday's plane crash of US Airways 1549 into the Hudson River.

Janis Krums, or perhaps now better known by his Twitter alias jkrums, set off an Internet frenzy Thursday when he posted this image (left) of passengers huddled on the wings of the plane moments after the aircraft had plunged into the icy Hudson River. Snapping the photo with his iPhone, he then uploaded the image to TwitPic.com and sent out a Tweet at 3:50 PM that read "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy."

After posting his photo, Krums disappeared from the Web to help the survivors. Meanwhile, nearly 40,000 Web users viewed the photo in the first four hours. As of the time of this post, the photo had been viewed almost 180,000 times. It has also become one of the landmark photos of the story and has been picked up by media outlets from all around the world.

Twitter users set up groups to follow the news as eyewitness reports lit up the service. "My brother just saw the US Airways #flight1549 slowly land in the Hudson river from his office in 35th floor in Times Square," read one Tweet, using the Twitter hash code to add the message to a group.

Krums was not the only citizen journalist that helped provide crucial information to the story. A Flickr search for the words "plane" and "hudson" yields 1700 results. One early image taken by Queens resident Gregory Lam shows the plane bobbing on the river’s surface, its wake still visible, before rescue arrived.

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Jan 14, 2009

Economic Outlook for 2009


RGE Monitor, chaired by NYU professor and economic expert Nouriel Roubini, has been incredibly accurate with their economic forecasts the past three years. Here is some of what they see ahead for the US economy is 2009:

“With the industrial world already in outright recession and the emerging world navigating towards a hard landing (growth well below potential) we expect global growth to be flat (around -0.5%) in 2009. This will be the worst global recession in decades as the fallout of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression took a toll first on the U.S. and then – via a variety of channels of recoupling – on the rest of the global economy.

“We forecast that the United States economy is only half way through a recession that started in December 2007 and will be the longest and most severe in the post war period. U.S. GDP will continue to contract throughout all of 2009 for a cumulative output loss of 5%.

“One last look at 2008 will reveal a very weak fourth quarter with GDP growth contracting about -6%, in the wake of a sharp fall in personal consumption and private domestic investment. We see the real GDP growth contraction playing out through the year as follows: Q1 2009 -5%; Q2 2009 -4%; Q3 2009. -2.5%; Q4 2009 -1%, adding up to a yearly real GDP growth of -3.4% for the U.S. in 2009; our forecast is much worse than the current consensus forecast seeing a growth recovery in the second half of 2009; we also predict significantly weak growth recovery – well below potential - in 2010. Canada entered recession at the end of 2008, and the outlook for 2009 is likely to be worse, with the economy contracting by an estimated 1.5-2% for the year.”
RGE’s prediction is interesting in that their time frame for recovery, first half of 2010, aligns with what other financial analysts are projecting as the point at which housing prices will become again affordable, meaning that household incomes and home value ratios will return to pre-2000 levels.

So what does it all mean? First, notice the contraction in GDP growth slowly recovers in 2009 from the low point of -6% we hit last quarter. This means we appear to have reached the bottom of the “trough” in this U-shaped recession.

Second and most importantly, even though recovery at times seems a point in the distant future, it is not. Whether the recovery actually begins in the second half of 2009 or first half of 2010, it is now visible on the horizon. The time to help begin planning for the recovery is now. Even a short-term 12-18 month marketing plan has to include planning for how the business will operate and market itself during and following the upcoming recovery.

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Jan 13, 2009

Page loading....

Once upon a time, in a land of sputtering dial-up connections, websites took ages to load. Folks yearned for the 100% mark. But as soon as that figure arrived, the beloved (or bemoaned) preloader disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. Until now.

Pretty Loaded is an archive of preloaders that preload other preloaders...which in turn reveal only more preloaders that never get you to a website you know isn't coming yet instinctively expect. An infinite loader that serves as a tribute to a vanishing art form amid a constantly changing digital landscape.

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Social innovation


A lot of companies wish to innovate, but struggle to find the manpower or creativity necessary to generate great thinking. With the power of social media and an online, connected customer base, those ideas can come from anywhere. Dell recently took advantage of its large customer base and opened IdeaStorm, an online community that allows consumers to share ideas for new Dell products or services and foster a candid and robust conversation between both users and the brand.

The initiative has proven tremendously successful. At the time of this post, IdeaStorm had already received 11,019 ideas and generated 83,882 comments on this site. Dell essentially has a brainstorm and innovation community working for them 24/7. At no cost other than what it takes to maintain the site and evaluate an idea's potential, which users can vote on, causing the "best" ideas to naturally rise to the top. Dell provides status updates on submitted ideas, and comments on an ideas potential.

Perhaps just as important is that it gives Dell users a chance to interact with the brand. This is really what the power of social media is really all about. Its so much more than a Facebook fan page or a branded app for a blog or iPhone. Marketing is about relationships, and an online community like IdeaStorm provides an opportunity for both users and brand to deepen and strengthen the relationship in both directions

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Jan 12, 2009

Polaroids and Palms

Polaroid never really went away. They just reinvented themselves. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Polaroid unveiled a 5-megapixel camera they plan on releasing in March.The digital camera contains a built-in printer that prints 2X3-inch full color photos. A 3-inch LCD screen lets users preview and edit images before printing.

Check out cNet's blog from CES 2009 for more info about other cool stuff all us technophiles will be drooling over the next 12 months...like my new phone! Finally, a cool new smartphone from Sprint!

video

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Managing in Tough Times



In the video above, business consultant Ram Charan discusses how today's business leaders must approach the era of economic uncertainty and turmoil. Even in economic downturns, opportunities abound. At least they do for those managers and executives who recognize that the old rules of business have disappeared and keep their eyes peeled for openings in the marketplace. Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions:

1. Change your mindset
Money is tight. The markets are extremely volatile. And anxiety has reached the point where irrational decisions become knee-jerk reactions. Morale becomes harder to boost in such an atmosphere. Acknowledge to yourself and your team that the world has changed, and make the tough decisions to place yourself in a position to succeed. Says Dennis Carey, a senior partner at Korn Ferry International"You can't rely on a peacetime general to fight a war. The wartime CEO prepares for the worst so that his or her company can take market share away from players who haven't."

2. Get your financial house in order
Perhaps the biggest issue for companies right now is getting the funds necessary for growth. Only those with strong balance sheets stand a chance for survival, let alone success.

3. Make a move for market share
I've said that recessions are garage sales for the rich. Many have and will react by slashing costs across the board. But as the pie gets smaller and less nimble rivals are get weaker, a tremendous opportunity is provided business leaders to grow at the same time that others cut back. Don't wait. Be bold and aggressive in strategy, acquisition, and hiring.

4. Rethink your rewards system
Among the first to go in leaner economic times are employee benefits and rewards compensation. The result is lower morale, loyalty, and assertiveness. If you can't can't give staff more money, can you give them more power? Single out top performers and solicit their advice on how to improve performance. Offer employees flexible scheduling, or the opportunity to work from home. The key is high-value (for employees), low-cost (for employer) solutions.

5. Dare to innovate
Innovating can leave a business in prime position for a turnaround. Pfizer broke apart both its research and business units last year to help spur new ideas to make the company more efficient and more entrepreneurial. Deploy distributed innovation groups. Whirlpool dedicated an internal team to embed innovation as part of the core of the company's operations, which added more than $2.5 billion in worldwide revenue to the company's bottom line in 2007.

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Social media fights a war

That governmental entities have used various "Web 2.0" elements isn't anything new. The whole world of social media began with bloggers using the new media as a voice for anti-war protests, political discourse. Reporters began using blogs to report the events of second Iraq war. Wikis helped coordinate volunteer disaster response for Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami. And the popular image-hosting service Flickr stepped into mainstream during the 2005 London underground terrorist attacks.

This past year we have even seen Obama use social media as a critical part of both his campaign and administration. Twitter was used by media professionals and citizens alike to report on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and December's riots and protests in Greece.

But we are now seeing the next step in the evolution of how governments use the social web. As Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza, its Consulate General in New York held a press conference on Twitter and the IDF launched a YouTube channel to provide footage from aerial and ground attacks. Bloggers and Twitter users on the Palestinian side are trying to influence the international community with dramatic reports from besieged Gaza.

Their reports and tweets have become increasingly important as actual ground footage has been hard to come by and news organizations have mostly been forced to report from the sidelines. Al Jazeera, the only news network with reporters in Gaza, has emerged as the main source of direct information from the region. Often its Twitter updates from a dedicated account and YouTube videos routinely precede those of other media organizations by several hours.

Social media provides information and content where there otherwise would be none. It provides a forum for discussion, dialogue, and even debate. That conversation takes place between consumers, as well as between consumers and brands (or in this case citizens and a government). It is 100% transparent and authentic, not filtered (see related story here). It helps to unite supporters of one cause and make a case when conversing with those supporting the opposition, or those who haven't yet made up their minds. Some marketers simply throw up a Facebook page and cheer their use of social media, yet we would do well to pay close attention to the true role (and power) social media has played in the Gaza conflict.

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Jan 9, 2009

Fight the instinct

video

I've been working on an extensive paper regarding the importance of maintaining or even growing your branding and marketing efforts during the recession, which goes against the instincts of most business executives. Too often marketing seems like the easiest column on the spreadsheet from which "profits" can be poached. But you cannot save your way to profitability.

In the above video, Mark Gambill, CMO at CDW, the 34th-largest private corporation in the U.S. with $8.1 billion in annual sales, warned big marketers to resist the knee-jerk inclination to slash marketing budgets. Mr. Gambill was in Manhattan to accept a top marketer award and offered his observations and advice for the coming year.

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Jan 8, 2009

Friendship sacrificed for a Whopper

Ever browse through your list of friends on Facebook, only to come across that one person who you can't even remember who they are or why they are your "friend"? Now Burger King wants to help you do something about it. By sacrificing them for a flame broiled beef patty.

Burger King just released a Facebook application called the "Whopper Sacrifce," which gives you a coupon for a free Whopper every time you knock off 10 people from your friends list. Your banished virtual acquaintances are sent a message telling them that their former-friends' love for them is less than his or her zeal for the Whopper.

As you ruthlessly knock off your friends one by one, the app charts your progress towards your free Whopper, enticing you by asking "Who will be the next to go?"

Its almost impossible to tell how well any branded application will go over on Facebook. Most actually seem to flop. But this is the sort of antisocial element that is so out there and different that it just might work.

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Home For Sale. Only $500!


This 3 BDRM, 1 BA 1000 sq ft. home with wood floors located on a quaint, tree-lined street in Detroit can be yours for just $899!

If you needed a sign of just how bad the real estate market has gotten around the country (I don't...my neighbor has had their home listed for 18 months), then take a look at what is happening in some of the markets around the country that have been hit hardest by foreclosures.

According to Realtor.com, there are 18 listings in Flint, Mich., for under $3,000. There are 22 in Indianapolis, 46 in Cleveland and 709 in Detroit. In a CNN article, Heather Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the real estate Web site Trulia.com, says that "Foreclosures have turned banks into property management companies, and it's often cheaper for them to give these homes away rather than try to get market value for them."

Some homes can be purchased for as little as $500. In Detroit, one realtor lists a three-bedroom, one-bath bungalow of about 1,000 square feet for just $500. Even with renovations of $15,000 or $20,000, that's still a huge bargain considering that the home last sold for $72,000 in late 2007, according to Zillow.com.

Many lenders have gotten to the point where any chance of making even breaking even on thse homes in unrealistic, and are unloading propoerty just to get it off their books to avoid paying for maintenance and property taxes. Recessions truly are nothing more than garage sales for the rich!

"I'm rich, sucka!" - Al "Skeletor" Davis

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Jan 7, 2009

They said it: The top 10 quotes of 2008




OOPS! Here are the Top 10 quotes of 2008, as compiled by the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations:

#10 (tie) - "Anyone who says we're in a recession, or heading into one -- especially the worst one since the Great Depression -- is making up his own private definition of "recession." -- commentator Donald Luskin, the day before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, The Washington Post, Sept. 14

"There are no atheists in foxholes and there are no libertarians in financial crises." -- Krugman, in an interview with Bill Maher on HBO's "Real Time," broadcast Sept. 19

"Cash for trash." -- Paul Krugman discussing the financial bailout, New York Times, Sept. 22

#9 - "Barack, he's talking down to black people. ... I want to cut his ... off." -- Rev. Jesse Jackson, overheard over a live microphone before a Fox News interview, July 6

#8 - "I'll see you at the debates, b------." -- Paris Hilton in a video responding to a McCain television ad, August 2008

#7 - "Maybe 100." -- McCain, discussing in a town hall meeting in Derry, N.H., how many years U.S. troops could remain in Iraq, Jan. 3

#6 - "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." -- the Treasury Department's proposed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, September 2008

#5 - "The fundamentals of America's economy are strong." -- McCain, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, April 17

#4 - "It's not based on any particular data point, we just wanted to choose a really large number." -- a Treasury Department spokeswoman explaining how the $700 billion number was chosen for the initial bailout, quoted on Forbes.com Sept. 23

#3 - "We have sort of become a nation of whiners." -- former Sen. Phil Gramm, an economic adviser to Sen. John McCain, quoted in The Washington Times, July 10

#2 - "All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years." -- Palin, responding to a request by CBS anchor Katie Couric to name the newspapers or magazines she reads, broadcast Oct. 1

#1 - "I can see Russia from my house!" -- Comedian Tina Fey, while impersonating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live," broadcast Sept. 13

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Jan 5, 2009

Green Coke

The Coca-Cola Company's iconic red billboard in New York City's Times Square sits quietly in the background of millions of pictures that visitors take in Times Square. But partygoers at the most recent New Years Eve celebration in New York might not have realized that the billboard has actually gone "green."

Coca-Cola is leading a unanimous eco-friendly shift to wind power among 30 billboards that tower over the world's most recognizable intersection, becoming the first company to select clean, renewable wind power to light up their billboard located at 47th and Broadway. After Coca-Cola made their commitment, all of the neighboring billboards on three buildings around Times Square joined the movement through an electric supply agreement with ConEdison Solutions and the building management company.

Coke also debuted a new "green" ad on New Year's Eve themed, "Refresh. Recycle. Repeat." The ad touts the beverage giant's goal to recycle or reuse 100 percent of the aluminum cans and plastic bottles it sells in the U.S., part of the company's "Live Positively" operating philosophy. Coca-Cola is also planning a recycling education event in New York City's Bryant Park next week, helping consumers learn about recycling, play trivia and interactive games, and view items made from recycled bottles. The company has also rolled out a new fleet of 142 hybrid delivery trucks, the largest such fleet in the world.

John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, recently had this to say in an interview with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania: "First of all, we believe sustainability is critical, absolutely key. It's center of play. It's not niche anymore. It's not just something you kind of do when you're thinking about it. It's something we take seriously, and it has to be done all the time."

Nice to see a company not just talk the talk, but walk the walk and lead by example.

http://www.livepositively.com/

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Jan 2, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries!

I love this place! Seriously, the double cheeseburger with grilled onions and grilled mushrooms, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, tomatoes and lettuce, with a bag full of cajun fries makes you forget that you are eating a weeks worth of calories in one sitting!

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