Archive | February, 2013

Minnesota Crime Data Reveals High Handgun Homicides

21 Feb


Figure 1 - MN BCA Uniform Crime Data on Homicides between 2001 - 2011

Figure 1 – MN BCA Uniform Crime Data on Homicides between 2001 – 2011

              In recent weeks and months several high profile mass shootings have focused the spotlight on firearms, mental illness and have brought calls for more restrictive gun laws.  Tragic events such as the shooting in Sandy Hook, Aurora, and even Minneapolis have fostered a broad discussion on the merits and need for safety balanced against the constitutional right of gun ownership.

                 During the past few weeks those discussions have taken center stage in committee rooms of the Minnesota state capitol.   Between the House and Senate, there are no less than 36 bills dealing with firearms. 

Figrue 2 - MN BCA Uniform Crime Data

Figrue 2 – MN BCA Uniform Crime Data

                 While there are strong emotions on all sides, sometimes there is value to stand back and look at data.  The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) gives us such a data set in its annual uniform crime reports. (Figure 1)

                 When one looks at the data sets from 2001 to 2011 we find that Minnesota suffered 1154 homicides.  Handguns caused more than half of those homicides, 54%.  Rifles and shotguns account for 7% of those homicides. (Figure 2)  The uniform crime data does not separate homicides by semi-automatic military style rifles. 

Figure 3 - MN BCA Homicides by Firearms 2001-2011

Figure 3 – MN BCA Homicides by Firearms 2001-2011

                 But when the data is focused on just the homicides caused by firearms during the this eleven year period there is an interesting pattern.  Fully 88% of the homicides by firearms are caused by handguns.  The remainder, 12% are caused by rifle and shotgun. (Figure 3)  The data set reveals what many prosecutors and those in law enforcement have advocated for years, that handguns and perhaps the unlawful access to handguns are the driving force of homicides in Minnesota.

The Best Super Bowl Ads That Did NOT Air During The Game

11 Feb
Volkswagen's Das Hund

Volkswagen’s Das Hund

         So you’ve seen all the Super Bowl Ads.  The gals cried over the Clydesdale reunion, the men wanted more of Kate Upton, everyone sang with Jimmy Cliff, and in living rooms across America Paul Harvey’s voice once again made time stand still. 

          There was one Super Bowl ad that didn’t cost a penny and didn’t air on CBS, yet scored a strategic touchdown on social media.  Two more ads that skipped the Super Bowl were equally as creative and targeted, but they too stood on the sidelines as their brands chose different offerings—one a pared down version.

          The most brilliant message was posted on Twitter 20 minutes into the third quarter blackout inside the Super Dome.  The creative team at Oreo cookies, which had earlier aired an ad about people fighting over the virtues of light and dark, fired up their computer and went to the dark side.  They created a simple picture and copy: “You can still dunk in the dark.”  Targeted at social media savvy consumers trolling for entertainment during the black out, Oreo’s brand loyalists found the message and the picture turned viral in minutes.  

Oreos Super Bowl Tweet 2

          For advertising scholar John Eighmey, the stroke of brilliance by Oreo’s team demonstrates that brands don’t necessarily need a multi-million dollar ad budget to get attention.  In a post-mortem forum of the 2013 Super Bowl ads held at the University of Minnesota, Eighmey said, “It proves you don’t need infrastructure, just really smart people.”  He adds, “If you’re smart with strategy, you can react quickly.”

          Another exceptionally targeted ad that never aired during the Super Bowl has just hit the airwaves in Europe.  Volkswagen’s agency DDB played off of well established psychological research showing viewers of advertising most remember dogs and babies.  In Das Hund, DDB gives us the comical story of a dog who thinks he’s a car and falls in love with the new VW.    The target audience is not just dog lovers, but drivers who covet style and performance.   USA Today’s Ad Meter shows Super Bowl viewers liked VW’s Jamaican Get in-Get Happy, but with so much pregame exposure one can’t help but wonder if Das Hund wouldn’t have been a better choice.  


       And then there’s Coca-Cola.  I have to admit, I’m a big fan of Coke’s messaging strategy and its new brand extension of encouraging people to conduct random acts of happiness.  I’ve written in a previous post about Coca-Cola experimenting with this strategy in South America.  In the Super Bowl’s first quarter, Coke gave us a new U.S. 30-second version of the same concept complete with a soundtrack from Roger Hodgson formerly of Supertramp.  However, the 1:30 version is actually stronger and dare I say—more satisfying. 

          I’m only one voice, but I would have loved to have seen this version in the Super Bowl instead, perhaps even tied to a social media campaign about sharing one’s own acts of kindness. 

         Game on.   

AdAge/Blue Fin Labs - Top Social Super Bowl Commericals of 2013

AdAge/Blue Fin Labs – Top Social Super Bowl Commericals of 2013

Going Mobile–Is TV News Missing the m-TV Revolution? [Infograph]

2 Feb

 MTV Flag               Like the flag in the old MTV promo, the way we use, watch, and access video and news is changing.  Welcome to the new m-TV—mobile television. 

                 Several new quantitative research studies suggest there is a revolution occurring before our eyes, one that consumers across two continents are literally holding in the palm of their hands.   Mobile technology and our ability to access information and share it from virtually any location may become either a disruptive force for broadcasters, or an incredible opportunity to extend content and brand value.      

Figure 1 - Pew Research Center

Figure 1 – Pew Research Center

                Mobile devices are exploding in the U.S. marketplace.  Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the internet through either a tablet or smartphone.  The results are based upon a scientific survey of 9,513 U.S. adults.  Accessing news is an important aspect what these users are consuming.  Fully 64-percent of tablet users and 62-perent of smartphone users say they use their devices to weekly to read and view news. (Figure 1)  In fact, Pew discovered that among tablet owners, news tied with email and games for the most popular activity.  On smartphones, news was second only to email.   

                For people who get news multiple times a day on their mobile devices, Pew also discovered they are more likely to turn to more sources, read more in-depth articles, and watch videos.

                This mobile video news consuming cohort represents virtually the same demographics most coveted by advertisers and television news organizations.  They tend to be young and slightly dominated by men—a many times illusive audience. (Figure 2) 

Figure 2

Figure 2

                This is by far not an American phenomenon.  In fact, the U.S. may be laggards compared to Europe.  Oscar Westlund’s research in the European communications journal Palabra Calve shows how mobile adoption and news consumption is far ahead of the U.S.  Sweden now has the greatest mobile penetration in the world with 101 mobile devices for every 100 people.  Westlund’s research of nearly 3,600 people reveals the early-adopters of these platforms tend to be men between the age of 15-49, and like their American cohort they are also power consumers of mobile news.  Fully 52-percent of these early-adopters use their devices for news.

                The trend is similar in Spain where the next generation of power consumers has already migrated to video news consumption.  Patricia Gonzalez Aldea’s research recently appearing in the International Journal of Iberian Studies revealed that young people haven’t stopped watching TV, they’ve only changed platforms in which they watch.

                Among the youngest group of 14-17 year olds Aldea discovered an important trend.  “They clearly prefer audio-visual media to keep them up to date with news and current affairs,” Aldea concluded.

                The findings in Spain show that the younger generation is demanding that TV content, even news, should be adapted to new platforms. 

TV news video app for iPad

TV news video app for iPad

                This all leads back to whether news organizations are leading the trend or following behind at their own peril.  Every credible newspaper and television news organization long ago established a presence on the web.  Many have also jumped into the world of mobile news apps.  Far fewer have stretched into the offerings of mobile video, and those which have tend to treat it as a necessary evil and not as a growth opportunity.                 

               The mobile trends and changing consumption habits demand that news organizations respond.  Television operations have an inherent advantage in m-TV given their video gathering and packaging expertise and infrastructure.  But they have to treat m-TV as a product launch, complete with a strategic business plan.

                Here’s a start:

  • Identify OPPORTUNITIES based on research:
    • Size of the organization’s digital consumption universe; Size of mobile market; Penetration and strength of 4G digital infrastructure among mobile providers; Number of current video downloads; Potential viewer reach; SWOT of m-TV expansion.
  • Goals:
    • Extend brand value through more mobile video content and views; Create a broader advertising base for increased revenue possibilities.
  • Objectives: Measurable benchmarks
    •  50% more mobile video content in 3 months; 55% more mobile app installations in 3 months; 65% more downloads in 6 months; 80% increase in six months of audience awareness of more mobile content.
  • Strategies:
    • Promote video content on web and apps; Create exclusive mobile content.
  • Tactics:
    • On-air promotion of mobile apps and web video; Drive video postings through Facebook & Twitter; Produce additional content and repurpose existing content for mobile platforms; Reporters post cell phone videos to social media to drive buzz for newscasts; More timely postings of video content.
  • Measurement:
    • Assess whether objectives were met.
  • Contingencies:
    • What if no buy-in from employees?  What if mobile engagement doesn’t increase?  What if brand awareness doesn’t grow?  What if ad click-through rates or ad views don’t increase?

                Traditional over-the-air television and news are not going away anytime soon, but their traditional market is clearly eroding.   Both Pew and the quantitative research conducted in Europe of mobile device usage makes it clear that audiences are rapidly changing the ways and platforms in which they access traditional content.  How content providers, especially news organizations respond may very well determine who survives and who profits.

                As Oscar Westlund concludes, “Mobiles are the future.  It’s not a question of whether it will be so, but when.”

Pew Research Center Infograph

Pew Research Center Infograph

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