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Provocative ad campaign: hipsters, cat lovers deserve to die

This campaign was so provocative (and successful) that people were physically tearing down the print posters in major metros.

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hipsters deserve to die

hipsters deserve to die

Web traffic in three days matched the prior six months

The Lung Cancer Alliance USA, a non-profit organization, launched a provocative ad campaign featuring controversial declarations that hipsters, people with tattoos, smug people, cat lovers, and others “deserve to die.” In smaller print next to the sweeping declaration, the ads also proclaim, “…if they have lung cancer. Many people believe that if you have lung cancer you did something to deserve it. It sounds absurd, but it’s true. Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate and neither should you. Help put an end to the stigma and the disease.”

lung alliance ad campaign
lung alliance ad campaign
lung alliance ad campaign
lung alliance ad campaign
lung alliance ad campaign
lung alliance ad campaign

The ads were designed to spark conversation and break down the stigma surrounding lung cancer, as the Lung Cancer Alliance says that the biggest obstacle in lung cancer survival has been “the common misconception that those who suffer or die from lung cancer deserve their disease because they brought it upon themselves.” The campaign was featured in major metro areas like Dallas, New York, Chicago, DC, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.

Initially, the posters were placed round the cities on June 19th without the fine print, leading people to the website where a countdown clock ticked down the minutes until the “killer” was to be revealed, along with a message that said, “Every year over 160,000 lives are lost to a deadly disease. They didn’t ask for it, but many people seem to think they deserved it. This disease doesn’t discriminate. It affects almost all of us and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. So, what is the killer? You’ll find out soon enough.”

Since they unveiled that the killer is lung cancer, reactions have been mixed. “We relied on the extreme reactions to start the conversation about the absurdity that certain people may actually deserve to die,” said Denise Kohnke, Senior Vice President for Strategy at Laughlin Constable.

Why the backlash was so intense

“Every ‘type’ we featured had a real, pre-existing bias… That’s why the backlash often was intense and personal,” Kohnke added. The campaign’s home page, NoOneDeservesToDie.org saw traffic levels in the first three days of the campaign that matched the prior six months, and according to Luerzer’s Archive, the campaign was the second highest trending topic on Yahoo and dozens of TV stations across America featured it.

In conjunction with the print marketing and website, a video campaign was created as well and run in movie theaters in 31 markets. As the timing coincided with the Aurora shootings, they were pulled.

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”ST2MTUcl8EM”]

Kohnke said, “We’ve heard people say they tore down the signs because they were so offended, but on the flip-side, we’ve gotten emails, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. that simply said: thank you, it’s about time someone took this on. Comments in the thousands of posts were overwhelmingly positive, and/or understanding that we were trying to make a point. The ratio of positive to negative was approximately 80:20. This campaign was designed to be bold, brave, provocative and edgy to shake both the consciousness and subconscious minds of everyone in the country. It was a tall order.”

The non-profit says they “are thrilled with the campaign because it did what it was supposed to do: fuel conversation about a disease that has been so stigmatised that people are ashamed they have it and lawmakers choose not to appropriate funding to seek a cure for it.”

Nonprofits often shy away from controversy, as do traditional businesses, but in this case, the backlash was well worth the goal of raising awareness, and it was executed brilliantly, proving that being provocative has merit when done well.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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