March 20, 2009

A conversation that I had with my good friend Wabi tonight.

Wabi: Wells Fargo also didn’t want TARP, and again was told to take it.  Goldman Sachs wanted it, but had they known the restrictions that came with it, they could’ve raised private capital, like they did from Warren Buffet.  And US Bancorp has always been considered a pretty healthy bank, and Bank of America was healthy before it bought Merrill Lynch.  Nevermind the fact that even if you are healthy, if your competitors are getting injections of capital from the government, you are basically in a position where you have to take them or place yourself at a disadvantage.

Dan: Just like baseball and steroids.

March Madness

March 15, 2009

Caught up in March’s annual college basketball bacchanal, once again surprised at how much I’m enjoying this, I think I’ve figured out my love/hate assessment of the sport.

College basketball has the most diametrically opposite structure of any sport that we watch.  During the regular season, single games are meaningless.  They separate the best teams from the great teams, and the great teams from the good teams, but are merely a function for teams to accrue wins and losses, and for a number of teams to enter their conference tournaments.  Here, things get a bit more interesting.

The conference tournaments get really hot during the semi-finals, when an underdog team is emerging to steal the tournament and, with it, a birth to the NCAA tournament.  So, yesterday, you had #9 Baylor playing #3 Missouri in the SEC Championship game.  Missouri is in the NCAA tournament and with a win would solidify a #3 seed for the Tigers.

Missouri isn’t going to win the NCAA Championship.  Neither are Tennessee or Ohio State, two other teams that excelled in their conference to play in its tournament championship game.  So walking away with the conference title is the goal.  You’ll never buy a beer on campus again.  You can always rely on local insurance companies and public appearances to make a little extra cash, as long as you stay in Columbus or Knoxville or Columbia.  And you know that you can go to the big dance and compete, destiny always exists whether you reach it or not, but it’s probably not going to happen.

The underdog is playing for even more.  They’re not going to the dance, the #9 seed in a competitive conference or the #6 in a weaker one (this year’s SEC, which is only putting two teams in at-large).  So they’re playing for the conference title and for the chance to reach the dance, to extend their season and start spelling a second Cinderella story.

There’s no other sport where you play a series of meaningless regular season games to gain entry into a high-stakes tournament, where the victor guarantees entry into another, even higher-stakes tournament.  That one starts on Thursday.

A nice marketing idea

March 9, 2009

Despite the privilege of working at a very innovative communications agency, I haven’t written about advertising or marketing in this blog before.  Maybe that will change.

Coke is launching a new promotion for its Vault soda.  In an effort to get more users to sample its product, Coke is giving an equivalent-size bottle of Vault to everyone who buys its chief competitor, Mountain Dew.  The claim?  That Vault simply tastes better and after trying the product, users will switch.

It will be expensive, but it makes too much sense.  Figure that if you get your product into consumer hands, they’ll try and decide if they like it.  If they do, they’ll convert and buy it.  If they don’t, then they just don’t like the product and no amount of marketing can change that.  Shut it down.