Fewer Swiffers, More Respect for Soccer in '06, Please

Oh, and Let's Also Recognize That Blogs Can Be Good, Bad or Indifferent

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Because I just know you can't live without it, here's my wish-list for the media and marketing industries in 2006.

Marketers: Give us a break from products-iPod, Swiffer Wet Jet, Clorox Toilet Wand, Machs 4, 5, 6, etc-that require continuous peripherals purchases. Yes they're the gifts that keep giving-42 million times in the case of the iPod-for those who sell them, but we also like stuff that doesn't need other stuff, particularly things like mops that shouldn't cost us $10 a week. (And, by the way, customization seems somewhat less individual once everyone's doing it.)

Banks: While we're on the subject of my money, it'd be really nice if you could make online banking work. Properly. Since `97 everyone in Europe has been able to transfer money and make payments anywhere at any time with a simple sort code and a couple of quick clicks. Why then does it take still take eight minutes, an IQ of 140 and a good deal of stress to pay a cable company via a bank's Web site in the U.S.? The TV ads don't convince anyone you care-put the money into customer service (and, no, that's not opening another customer-less sub-branch).

Media tallymen: Can we stop using meaningless data calculated from things like rate cards and what-someone-who-probably-knows-said-to-my-friend to quantify media outlay. Just because, come May, everyone will declare upfront spending to be up a few percentage points to $9.3 billion, doesn't negate the fact that every sentient marketer actually shifted its budget to the Internet, nor does it eradicate the ad-revenue declines that will be obvious in company financials. Same goes for magazines.

Blog watchers: Before we start the inevitable blog-backlash that must surely follow 2005-the year of "blogs will deliver world peace and they can cook and play the flute, too"-let's just clarify: There is good content, mediocre content and bad content, and that is all. That people are increasingly creating their own content is something we have to pay attention to, but an obsession with the type of media, rather than the quality of content, is missing the point.

Sports media: Give a little respect to soccer in this World Cup year. Not only does the tournament take insular nation-gazers the world over and unite them in support of states like Togo and Trinidad, but Team U.S.A. is all set to disprove the pundits by emerging from the toughest qualifying group and covering itself in glory. Of course it'll have to cover itself, because no one here will give a damn.

Everyone: Please refrain from invoking the concept of the long tail every second-sentence unless you've actually read and understood what Chris Anderson was talking about. (See also tipping points, creative economies and buzz marketing.) Given it's already made two unwarranted appearances in conversations I've had this year, and with Anderson's book hitting the shelves this year, I'm not holding out much hope, but I did say this was a "wish list."

Marketers, agencies: Employee communications doesn't mean asking HR to send out one of those awful internal newsletter things about Randy's upcoming fifth year at the company. It's about time that everyone understood that spending millions on ads and branding is as good as pointless if when the former AT&T customer walks into the Cingular store, the sales rep treats them like crap. A core component of every campaign ought to be an effort to align employee behavior with the brand promise. Yes, The Container Store is already doing it; no, most of you aren't.

Ethnic-silo fans: Multicultural is mainstream or, perhaps more pertinently, the mainstream is multicultural. That means that minority-owned businesses "specializing" in multicultural marketing and siphoning off small, specially allocated "multicultural" budgets are a deeply inadequate solution. It's time for "mainstream" agencies to make a serious commitment to staffing their shops with people of varied ethnicities and cultures, and likewise it's time "multicultural" agencies started pitching "general-market" accounts. Whatever the hell they are.

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