>What is the cost of quality performance?

In its second weekend, The Dark Knight has surpassed $300 million at the box office – having been out for only ten days and is well on its way to becoming one of the top grossing movies of all time. (In case you are curious, click here to see the complete list.)

Not only that, but on The Internet Movie Database’s (IMDB) top 250 movies (of all time), The Dark Knight is now rated #1. This surpasses The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather movies, Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, Casablanca and even Star Wars.

My brothers agreed, hands down, Ledger made the movie and each time he was on the screen they didn’t want the scene to end. (I have not seen it, so I cannot comment.) In doing some poking around online, I noticed a number of stellar reviews from users agreeing with my brothers saying, “what Ledger created was one of a kind” and Ledger gave “the performance of a lifetime.”

A few weeks before his death, an interview was released saying Ledger admitted to locking himself in a hotel room for a month to get into the role of The Joker – who Ledger described as, “psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”

This role was so disturbing it was rumored Ledger was unable to shake it after the movie was completed, leading to constant mental pain and an unshakeable sense of turmoil and ultimately leading to his death. Was the treatment worth it?

Critics and fans who have seen the movie will agree it was worth it to prepare for his performance as The Joker – but, it may have cost him his life. Does anyone agree THAT was worth it?

The begs the question, what would it cost you to give the performance of your life?


>Big Brands – Where are they going?


I am reading the morning paper and thinking about our economy and the recent failures of our banks and the increase mergers of major companies and it reminded me of a book I read many years ago. The book is Big Brands Big Trouble, by Jack Trout. This is a great snapshot into some of our most beloved brands that we assume will always be here. Jack brings to our attention the mistakes companies make while they are building their brand and how the competition needs to differentiate their products and services. He highlights companies such as General Motors, AT&T, Burger King and more. While this book may be dated a bit the trends and problems still exist.

When marketing in a soft economy brand building and positioning are crucial for continued success and growth. Reputation and image influence all of our buying decisions and our perception of the brand. Now more than ever we must pay special attention to all we say, do and react to the economic conditions. Position now and reap the benefits in the future. Be careful of your visual image and your attitudes as consumers are always looking for stability and security in the products and services they engage in. Read Jack Trout’s book and it may change your view of life in our big brand world.


>What does C.C. have to do with marketing?

It was October 2007 and our Cleveland Indians were going up against the Boston Red Sox in the Division Series. “In C.C. we trust,” said Rob. I believed him, and so did all of Cleveland.

We put our entire faith in C.C. Sabathia to lead our Cleveland Indians into the World Series to battle the Colorado Rockies. Sadly, the Cleveland Indians fell to the Boston Red Sox in a game seven loss and went on to beat the Rockies in only four games. Although we lost, C.C. ended up winning the Cy Young Award for his 2007 pitching performance, an award honoring the best picther in the Major Leagues. Today, up against the upcoming trade deadline, the Indians traded their second ever Cy Young Award winning pitcher to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for four prospects.

Although baseball and marketing, outside of the obvious, have relatively nothing to do with each other, this trade does. How many of you would trade your best account (on paper) for four prospects?


>A marketing match

>Today, guest blogger Joe Pulizzi, a fellow NE Ohioan who blogged about Lessons in SEO a few weeks back, launched his marketing match service, Junta42 Match (a service of his website, Junta42.com). This service is a free online tool designed for marketing and association professionals looking for custom publishing, post-advertising agencies and other content providers matching specific content marketing project needs.

Curious? Read more or check out Junta42 Match.

>This just in – advertising online pays off

Sure, that doesn’t come as a big surprise to anyone currently invested in online advertising. What will come to a surprise is how much Internet advertising has increased over the past year. Any guesses? Internet advertising is up 18.2% for the first quarter over last year according to The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The IAB is reporting Internet advertising revenue totaled $5.8 billion for the first quarter – the second highest quarterly total ever recorded by IAB (previously the fourth quarter 2007’s $5.9 billion.)

Click here to read the entire story.


>Eat your fruits and vegetables, but be careful

>Fruits and vegetables are prone to harboring various harmful diseases in the summertime – such as the recent outbreak of salmonella. The FDA has recently announced more cases of this outbreak in more than 30 states bringing the total to at least 383 cases.

In order to avoid getting sick this summer time take certain precautions when picking out your favorite grocery store items. Properly cooking meat, poultry and eggs, and washing produce are generally the best methods to prevent illness.

Now, in a Marketing sense, what will happen to those fruits and vegetables grown in the sunshine state? Should consumers avoid those products and shift more towards locally grown – or was this just a fluke?

>The "Windows 95" Generation

>A visit from Rob’s twin daughters and the research I have been conducting on social networking and integration got me thinking about the way I was raised. I lovingly refer to my generation as the “Windows 95” generation since I was in grade school when this began to errupt. This generation growing up now uses computers as part of their daily life. They will never experience using a typewriter for their report or what life was like before everyone had a cell phone. A cell phone… what would life be like without one?

Looking back, the first experience I had with a cell phone was seeing the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X on the Saved by the Bell television series. From that time, the cell phone has morphed from something you only elite people had into an everyday necessity. Upon release in 1983, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X cost consumers a whopping $4,000 whereas a few of the most popular cell phones (iPhone, Blackberry, LG Glimmer, etc.) are at most $1,000.

At least some products are going down in price over the last 20 years!

>Ahead of the game

Honda is setting out to release their newest model, the FCX Clarity. FCX Clarity is, “a next-generation, hydrogen powered fuel cell-powered vehicle” according to sources. It is also about twice as efficient as a hybrid-electric vehicle and three times more efficient than a conventional gasoline vehicle. A limited number of vehicles will be leased to Southern Californians in the summer of 2008.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of Honda.com.

>Blogging caution

> Intrigued by a conversation with a friend of mine in a graduate program at a local university this evening got me thinking about blogging. During her summer classes, students are paired off each week with a different partner – this week she was paired up with a very unique woman who has a thing or two to learn about blogging and privacy.

This blogger lives in a neighboring community and teaches at a local university. If you Google her name you will find her blog, which is dedicated to a VERY controversial group where she is a very prominent leader. Looking at this situation from the outside, if any of her students (or the university) found out this information she would almost immediately be asked to leave.

I caution everyone to please exercise extreme measures in not only blogging, but Internet usage as well. At the very least, avoid using your entire name or specific geographic location. If you are exercising your right to fair speech, but are in a position where your outside hobbies or interests could jeopardize your position, please take advantage of the privacy options available.


>Go, go, all-in-one gadget


With the launch of Samsung’s new Instict phone next month, Apple’s iPhone should be looking over it’s shoulder. This new all-in-one gadget bares a resemblance to the iPhone, but has a few new tricks as well. The differences that hold my interest are the keyboard size with larger buttons (but still touch screen) and GPS. Speculation has surrounded this release saying Apple is waiting until Spring releases this phone to come out with “iPhone v2” which also has GPS and modified options to solidify it as the all-in-one-multi-media king.

This presents the question, is all-in-one better than having all individual products? And, just who is buying these all inclusive products?

Dema, a long-time friend of mine, stood in line the morning the iPhone was released. Why? “Because I love having the newest gadget,” he says, grinning. He loves the ease and fun aspect of it, even when text messaging someone else. “You can see the entire conversation, rather than just the message sent to you. Makes it easy to text multiple people and never lose track of the conversation.”

Rob Felber agrees. “It’s a way to stay on top of technology,” he says. “Too many ‘toys’ are out there right now – why buy all of them individually when you can just buy one?”

Personally, I have a Samsung Blackjack II. It has GPS, email, Internet, music download ability… I don’t use it for any of these things. My GPS is in the back seat of my car and my iPod is in my room at home. I have had not so good of luck with phones in the past, and I am very hesitant to put so much faith in one piece of technology. It is my opinion people become too reliant on this new technology – and if you have this all-in-one gadget and something happens, you are left without any of your “toys,” as Rob calls them.

Which is better? Only the time on your new all-in-one phone will tell. (Bad joke, but I had to!)