Tuesday, March 20, 2007 

BBQ WARS! (Chicago Style)

I'M HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE I'M FINALLY THROUGH "PHASE I" of building CalvinsBBQ.com. It's exciting, I'm relieved, it's been a LONG time coming, and it's something I've wanted to do for a few years now. I think it's pretty tight for the (lack of) budget, and for being brand new as of today.

IN GETTING THIS THING TOGETHER, I've been spending a lot of time looking at anything I could find online about BBQ, online reviews, blogs, etc. - and it's been quite an eye-opener. What I've discovered about the whole BBQ culture in Chicago is this: People are CRAZY fanatics about BBQ, and the picks for their favorite joints around here are all over the place. Don't believe me? Check out LTH Forum, or Chowhound, for some quick examples. Of course, Calvin is my client & pal, so I'm biased about him stepping up to claim the crown for King Of Chicago BBQ. Regardless, more competition only means Chicago turns into an even better BBQ center, which means the real winner is everyone in this fine city who digs some fine 'Q.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007 

Nestle - One Sweet Online Marketing Campaign

So I get some emails awhile back, real friendly - turns out they're from some LA-based company called M80 who seem to be sniffing around for food bloggers. Turns out they're working for Nestle, trying to get folks to write about their product (left). I suppose I should be flattered the flying monkeys of a corporate giant spotted me, as my blog is barely a blip on the online radar, I don't update it too often, and it's far heavier on the music than the food (at least for now). Regardless, after my two word response to their email ("details please,") they sent 3 coupons for their stuff, which I got yesterday. And so, here goes:

I'm not a pastry chef or baker, and while I suppose I like chocolate as much as the next person, it's not my personal addiction. After eating a whole bar of it (my bad! This is baking chocolate, not really meant for munching; but anyone who knows me, knows I'm more trailer park than Park Avenue), it seemed okay to me? Actually, I'm more interested in the online marketing campaign - who pitched who, wondering how much Nestle paid them to do what they did, how they track the success of their program, how they justify whatever they're charging Nestle, if they can measure a spike in sales, and how much they lie on their event reports when it goes back to the client for review.

What, a marketing company lying to their client?!?! Believe it, and here's how I know: Having worked on the initial launch of Fruitopia, I witnessed firsthand how big corporations operate (Coca Cola, in this case), and how quickly those of us in touch with street-level response learned how unreceptive they were to ANY kind of feedback telling them their new product was anything less than phenomenal. On a side note, one belly-laugh we got from the whole thing was how - even though it was targeted towards "Gen X-ers" - the uber-sweet/borderline sickening concoction really went over best with certain minorities, one of whom had the most oft-quoted request: "Can I get me some more of that Froo-NO-pee-us?"

Although the six psychadelic-painted schoolbuses traveling nationally were pretty cool to look at (each with a huge picture of a Fruitopia bottle painted on their roofs), it was also interesting to see everyone from the road managers to the event marketers & up each do a little "tweaking" along the way with the post-event/program reports. I suppose if you're some corporate creep whose primary talent is justifying their salary and blame-shifting any problems to someone/somewhere else (vs. actual positive results), you don't really question when you read how every person who tried your product is now a LOYAL CONSUMER and REALLY LIKED IT and WILL NOW BUY IT!

FYI, I never told the Nestle marketing company I'd do a review, just asked them for details - very annoying for them to add that part... I'm also curious who in the hell convinced who that they needed their own media player at Nestle?!?!? But hey - A FREE CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! Woo hoo!
(FROM THEM LAST) Thank you!  Your coupons are in the mail, please expect them soon. I hope you enjoy the chocolate and I can’t wait to read what you write. Please let
me know if there’s anything else I can do to be of help.

I’m so glad to hear back from you!

Since you would like to do a review (NO!),I can send you two coupons for free
Nestle Chocolatier that can be used at most United States grocery stores.
Between the freezing temperatures in the Midwest and the melting
temperatures here in LA, we find free coupons are the best way to get you
the chocolate in its best form. Can you please provide an address for us to
send the coupons to? It is completely confidential and only used for
sending you the coupons.

Once you try the chocolate in a recipe or in any other way you’d like, I’d
love for you to blog about your experience openly and honestly. It is
perfectly fine, even encouraged, to let your readers know that Nestlé and
M80 provided you with the chocolate for the review.

If you are interested in doing a giveaway, we can provide you with several
coupons to give away or with a chocolaty gift such as a chocolate fountain
or fondue pot. We can ship the prize directly to you or directly to the
winner(s). We’re open to whatever setup and logistics you feel the most
comfortable with.

I also recommend our media player, which features video recipes and other
video information about chocolate. You can view it here:

If you would like to know more about Nestlé Chocolatier, read a press
release and facts, access pictures, etc. to enhance your review, you can
find more information here:

Once you’ve posted, I would love to read it, can you please send me a link?

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. Thanks so
much for helping out!!


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