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Monthly Archives: May 2011



Posted on May 27, 2011 by butch

It's Memorial Day weekend so I thought I would take a picture of the Flag that flies outside our offices here at Force 5.   There is a lot happening this weekend:  Graduations, cookouts, parties and all kinds of outdoor fun.  The famed Indianapolis 500 will run this weekend too.  For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of a great Summer.

I am hopeful though, that in the midst of all that fun and fraternity, we'll take a moment to remember what Memorial Day is about.  Just a moment to pause and reflect on the over 1 million Americans who have died in wars since the Revolutionary War.   I am hopeful that we are aware that there might be among us, a family that will not have a son or daughter returning from the Middle East alive.

Force 5 wishes to thank the many service people and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom.


Wanted for Murder: An Equal and Opposite Reaction

Posted on May 26, 2011 by butch

Picture the scene.  I’m driving into town toward the University of Notre Dame campus on my way to our offices at Force 5.  It’s a beautiful morning. The weather’s perfect.  As usual, there is a lot of morning traffic.  I stop at an intersection where there is a wonderful digital billboard.  As I sit in my car sipping my morning coffee, I watch the steady and captivating rotation of advertisements.   I see well-designed, graphical ads for local hospitals, prominent banks, respected physicians, and in the mix … I see an ad with a picture of a scary-looking individual that reads, “WANTED!  FOR MURDER.” Hmmm. 

Maybe you’ve seen Crime Stoppers ads on billboards, too.  Before I comment further I have to say this:  I love Crime Stoppers and the work they do to protect our community.  Also, I need to say this:  I have tremendous respect for Burkhart Advertising, an outdoor advertising and marketing firm here in South Bend; they do tremendous work.

However, from a marketing perspective, I have questions about this particular strategy.  Yes, the placement of this ad caught my attention.  Yes, it made me aware of someone in our community who could harm my family. And yes, this ad may actually expedite the killer’s arrest.    

But, as Newton stated:  “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and this is true for marketing as well.

In South Bend, a city that is deparately attempting to attract businesses and good-paying jobs, (which some social scientists consider to lower crime in communities) its important to consider what this billboard communicates to tourists and investors on their way to visit our landmark University and the surrounding community? 

Is it: “Boy, I’m glad these people are addressing crime and making this place safer.”   Or “Boy, this city has a real murder problem.  Better not move here.  Next town, please.”

What about the other companies whose ads appear just before and just after the felon’s picture?   Companies spend a lot of money to associate good feelings with their brands. It can be tough when someone thinks to himself: “Ah, it’s a heart surgeon.” And eight seconds later: “AGH! It’s a murderer!” Probably not the best brand association; at least for me anyway. 

This is a tough, moral marketing dilemma.  What are your thoughts?


A Fresh, New Look

Posted on May 25, 2011 by butch

The Twykenham Bridge is located just a half a block away from our offices at Force 5.   We've been watching this old bridge being renovated with great anticipation.  (Details can be found here in the South Bend Tribune.)  It's amazing to see what a remodel can do.  With it's new look, the bridge again inspires confidence in those who transverse it and a sense of wonder in those who view it from a distance.  It's simply beautiful. 

"In this economy, now just isn't a good time to redo my ... (fill in the marketing tactic)"

I disagree.  Now is exactly the time. 

How long has it been since you've looked at your business?  At your brand support materials?  Is it time for a web site renovation?  A fresh coat of paint on that tired brochure?  Does your customer service need reinforcement so that people feel confident when they rely on you? 

Are you ready to polish up your business, your dream, and give it the fresh, new look it needs to weather today and tomorrow?  If so, what will be the first thing you renovate?


Google Panda

Posted on May 24, 2011 by dmorgan

Google’s recent “Panda” update is getting plenty of notice and discussion on SEO and web marketing sites. This is an algorithm update, the formula Google uses to rank sites—using a variety of areas of your web site.

It's clear that one of the biggest goals for Google’s algorithm update is to provide higher page rankings for quality, rather than quantity, content. The biggest sites hurt in the change seem to be the “content farms”. A content farm (according to Wiki…) “employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines”. In other words, spammy content designed to fool Google into better results.

While your site may not be a content farm, you could be adversely affected by this update if your site contains:
* Relatively high amounts of advertising on the site
* Duplicate content (either on your own site or other domains)
* Page headlines that don’t match their content

You can improve your site’s ranking with:
* Authoritative and useful content
* If your site is currently light on verbiage, more words per page may be an asset
* Content that provides value to your visitors
* Social network visibility via comments and sharing

Google constantly looks at their search methods, and modify them to help you bring you the results you want. Good content—relative content—is always the proper way to build your site. Force 5 tries to stay abreast of the latest search methodologies – contact us if we can be of assistance as you update your site.


Order Up!

Posted on May 23, 2011 by ddefreeuw

Force 5 recently wrote about a project we did involving QR (quick response) codes. The campaign, done for Smoker Craft boats, has been a success and a practical application of this new and growing tool. Since the boom in QR codes, I have since seen them on everything from ads in magazines to the lettuce container at the grocery store. So, it has led me to think about their use and where they might be most effective. While reading an article in the technology section of the Wall Street Journal I came across an example worth sharing.

Coffee to goThe article talked about a coffee shop in British Columbia named Ethical Bean. They were looking for a way to stand out in a very crowded market. Ethical Bean decided to put QR codes on ads that were placed inside trains. When a user scans the code, a coffee menu pops up and they can order their coffee and have it waiting when they arrive. Now that is a practical use of QR code technology. Ethical Bean doubled sales by providing an easy way for the on-the-go consumer to purchase their product.

QR codes are popping up everywhere, if you are using them, make sure they take your consumer to content worth the trouble. If it's your first tip-toe through the QR code field, we can help, call us.


Netflix takes over the Internet

Posted on May 18, 2011 by Christian

According to a report by Sandvine, Netflix is now the largest source of internet traffic in North America during peak hours. Netflix streaming video service now accounts fro about 29% of peak traffic, overtaking P2P, Bittorrent, and Social Networking.

Network Traffic Graph

Almost half of internet traffic is Real-Time Entertainment

Internet Application Traffic Sources

Netflix accounts for 29.7% of Downtream traffic (provided by Sandvine)

These numbers show a distinct shift in media consumer behavior. More and more of people's entertainment is coming from OnDemand sources. Below is an interview with Netflix CEO given by TechCrunch talking about the future of his company. He says "Streaming is at the core of our business," and it seems that he is very much correct.

Source: TechCrunch.com

While this is great for consumers, where does it leave advertisers? The rise of on-demand media has made the time honored tradition of a "time slot" in advertising more and more obsolete.

What do you think? Is the internet going to fully replace our TVs? Is the generation that grew up with "on-demand" entertainment at their fingertips going to continue to consume media like the cable and networks provide? Where exactly do advertisers fit? We at Force 5 would love to speak with you about video opportunities, cutting edge marketing, or internet strategies to bring your brand to new customers. Just give us a call or fill out our Force 5 contact form and we will be happy to speak with you. Now pass the popcorn. . . . lets see what is on the Internet.


Web of One

Posted on May 17, 2011 by dmorgan

The Filter bubble by Eli Pariser

I was listening to a TED talk yesterday from Eli Pariser, who just wrote the book “The Filter Bubble”.In his talk, he tells of the personalization taking place on the web. Everything is filtered before it gets to us. I have an interest in sailing, and listed that on my facebook. And lo and behold, I see ads and articles on Sailing. Google Ad words looks at blogs, and then show ads linked to key words found in the article.

In fact, Google uses 57 different criteria to filter content to you. This might include your location, you age, gender, and whatever else they know about you.

Is personalization a good thing? In most cases, sure. I don’t mind seeing ads on sailing, but what am I missing? Eli’s premise is that you start to see only your filter—a filter that’s not necessarily controlled by you. So if I’m conservative, I may not see liberal points of view. If I like dogs, I might not see cats...Get the picture?

Some argue that most people lack the time, motivation and self-knowledge to customize their filter, if they are given the chance. But others think that automatic personalization severely limits the power of the net to stretch our minds.

Do you want to see opposing views on a subject? Do you want to see challenging and contrary viewpoints? Is your filter relevant, important, uncomfortable, challenging, other points of view? Again, as we’ve noted in previous blogs, its all about data mining.

As a brand development and marketing communications firm, Force 5 is always interested in metrics. We want to know if our target audience for any given product or service is seeing (and responding to) our message. But has data mining and filtering gone too far—limiting our selections, making a “web of one”—instead of a “web of many”? What do you think?


Touchy Feely

Posted on May 16, 2011 by butch

It’s been almost  a year since the release of Apple’s iPhone 4.   I traded in my old iPhone 3G just a few months ago.  I love the 4’s speed, video features, functionality. Ultimately, I’m glad I made the switch.  But I have to be honest with you; there’s something that’s just not been quite right with my new iPhone 4.  And I until this morning, I hadn’t been able to put my finger on the reason why. This morning, as I was reading a book by Tim Mathers, I realized that my fingers are the reason why. 

In Relevance:  Making Stuff That Matters, Mathers devotes a chapter to Design as a function of brand experience.  Specifically, he writes about "Tactile Tactics" noting that the iconic Coca-Cola bottle was one of the first packages so unique that it could be identified by feel alone.  Additionally, Mathers cites the reinvented pillbox developed for GlaxoSmithKlines's drug Alli.  The shape and texture of this pillbox was " ... almost like you're grabbing the hand of a friend, almost a clasp ... a friend and ally."  He goes on to say that tactile branding works because as humans, we are hardwared to judge people and things by the way they feel in our hands.

For me, the shape and feel is the only disappointment of the iPhone 4.  My old phone had beveled edges which fit comfortably in my hand.  Those edges allowed my phone to slip easily in and out of my pants pocket and they allowed me to tell if my phone was screen up or down in my pocket.  The iPhone 4 gained more usable space when it eliminated the bevels, it is thinner, and stronger, too.  But now, it is a rectangle that feels out of place in the palm of my hand.  So, for me the in the tactile sense arena, the Apple brand has taken a little step back.

I think the lesson here for me is the simple reminder that brand development encompasses everything within realm of human experiece: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch.  An encounter with you and your business or product is an interaction with all of those human senses and we need to be mindful of each one.  Which of the human senses does your product effect most and how are you ensuring that it is the best experience possible?



n a world where we often hear about "these kids these days" it is great to hear about those doing very well. This spring the 6th graders from Riverside Intermediate School in Plymouth, IN for scoring highest in the nation for April 2011 on the FBI-SOS Internet Safety Challenge. From the FBI-SOS Internet Safety Challenge website:

The mission of the FBI-SOS Internet Challenge is to promote cyber citizenship among students by engaging them in a fun, age-appropriate, competitive online program where they learn how to safely and responsibly use the internet. Source: www.fbi-sos.org

Amy Gerard, the Computer Applications teacher at the school should be very proud of her accomplishments with her students.

"They had the highest score in the nation for the month of April," said Gerard. "The FBI office in Indianapolis will be sending a representative later in the month to talk to the students about internet safety, about what it's like to work at the FBI and present us with a trophy."

"That technology offers all sorts of exciting opportunities but our kids need to be aware that it also has possible dangers. You see news stories all the time about bad things that can happen to kids who aren't careful. It's very important they be aware of possible dangers and make good decisions." Source: Plymouth Schools' Alumni Association

With the commitment to security that we have at Force 5 it is great to see area schools instilling the same values into their students. What to all you readers think? Should computer security and and online safety be added to the core curriculum of our schools?


Raising Entrepreneurs

Posted on May 12, 2011 by nmcelwrath

First some background: I am a father to an amazing 2 year old son named Neilan who is in the midst of innocently testing as many boundaries as possible with his mother and I, but still has me belly laughing daily at his antics. He's a true showman. While I believe raising your children to be entrepreneurs is a great thing to encourage - I do not think it is a good thing for everyone enforce. Why? It depends on your child's personality traits. There's no boilerplate on how to raise your child - that's kind of the fun part. It's up to you to see the traits and react.

The above video had a huge impact on how I approach supporting my son as he gets older. What opened my eyes the most? The things to look for when searching for those "entrepreneurial traits" that may be hard to see in your child. Neilan certainly is capable of having and/or developing these traits, it may be too soon to tell at 2 years old. There's no doubt it's in the blood lines. Both his mother's family and mine have a plethora of entrepreneurial traits and characteristics both in personality characteristics and family history. However, that doesn't mean his path is already paved. It's up to us as parents to watch for the traits before we start encouraging. With a parent's point of view, here are some of my takeaways from the video:

  • Use encouragement instead of limitations to form your child's interests and capabilities. Don't build walls, supply them with the tools.
  • Once the entrepreneurial traits are seen, encourage these skills: problem solving, to ask questions, to be creative, to lead others, to learn from mistakes, how to save money, to want to make money, how to sell, to ask for help, public speaking, to never give up, to see solutions.
  • Teach your child to fish, rather than giving them a fish.

What was your most resonating takeaway from the TED video?