Thursday, April 20, 2006

Out Of The Grease: Lots of people are watching Dunkin' Donuts right now with interest, including me.

See, the company wasn't doin' so hot. They were known for one product (three guesses what it was) which wasn't all that popular during the heat of the low-carb craze. So the company started to re-think its strategy. One of the first things they realized was that they weren't that different, in positioning and products, from one of the most popular companies in America, one that was making a ton of money, one that's on practically every corner. Yup, you guessed it.


But since they didn't have big enough parking lots to put in gas pumps, they looked at another big company that was even closer to their model--Starbucks.

So the company ended up with this challenge: To completely recreate themselves in the public mind. To take their already established brand, but reinvent the way people perceived it.

Obviously, they couldn't just crib Starbucks. They had to figure out what things made them appeal to a slightly different market than the Starbucks crowd.

See, one of the key things about marketing that a lot of people don't realize is that nobody markets to everybody. Just because you make toothpaste doesn't mean you market to everybody with teeth. Anybody here going to let your ten-year-old daughter brush her teeth with Close-Up?

Heck, no. Because Close-Up is make-out toothpaste. You're going to be a good parent and get your kid to brush with Crest, because Crest is a family toothpaste ("Look, Ma! No cavities!").

So Dunkin's goal is to be just enough off from what Starbucks is to capture a slightly different market, those for whom Starbucks isn't quite a perfect fit.

I've been watching this with interest. Could the company pull itself up by its bootstraps, shifting the perceptions of America? Or would it be a shark jumpin' new Coke kind of moment?

Imagine my surprise when they enlisted the help of my favorite band. Yup. Those twin quasars of Rock and Songs That Get Stuck In Your Head are doing the new Dunkin' Donunts spots.

You can see all the spots on the marketing company's blog.

Anybody got any favorites?

Doin' Things is probably the best ad, but you gotta smile at the Pleather.

Free Cone Day: . . . is coming.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Hugo And Nebula Awards: Here are this year's Hugo and Nebula award nominees, with links to where you can read the shorter works online.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What I Learned on My Winter Vacation: So what have I been up to while I've been away?

Mostly learning how to edit.

And I'll bet my readers will be so grateful.

Here are some actual recreations of the kinds of stuff I did. They aren't verbatim; as Dan Rather would say, they are accurate forgeries.

"What was I--" He stopped mid-sentence. (Duh.)

He stood up and walked across the room, crossing to the other side, where everything in the room looked slightly different. (This is for the sake of people who don't know what happens when you cross a room.)

"You are the dumbest person I have ever known." There was contempt in her eyes. (You think?)

You get the point. Lots of noted writers suggest you trim around 10% from any manuscript.

Actually, I think I like the way Algis Budrys says to do it: Trim as if you had to pay the publisher by the word. I'm trying it and it's working. Those who had to wade through "Beautiful Hands" as a 10,000 word beast of a novellette will be shocked to hear it's now a 7,500 word short story. And it works really well at that length. Gone are all the instances where "Tevya thought about how much she hated her father, loathed him, wish he would choke on herbs and die." And so on add infinitum. Instead Tevya gets on with the story.

The side benefit of playing such hack-and-slay with old manuscripts is that it's helped me feel freer in my current drafts. No need to fret over each sentence like I was carving scripture on gold plates. Just get it down on paper. They'll be plenty of time to fix it when you're done, and you can see each bit in terms of the whole story.

So look for a new piece soon. And look for me to put something here more often.

Because nobody does 24 commentary better.