Friday, August 29, 2008

Ethos, Themes and Values

Understanding our target audiences and targeting content to them is a fundamental aspect of web design. Scott (2007, p 33) advises us to identify and articulate each target audience and develop content specific to each. He recommends creating a persona for each target audience.

What information do we need for content to appeal to each persona? In his book, Culture and Persoanlity, Wallace (1963, p 101) recommends knowing the themes, values and ethos of a group to prepare appealing content. A theme is how the group sees the world. Wallace suggests a good way of discerning this is a review of the literature or theatre the group patronizes. What books or movies are their favorites?

He catalogs several themes in literature:

  • The “western” – hard to find good people must fight tirelessly to bring order to a chaotic world

  • The “detective” – idealists disillusioned with the existing order do the right thing for the wrong reason

  • The “mystery” – clever and logical heroes politely work to maintain what they believe is a righteous order

  • The “action” – well intentioned brutality

  • The “drama” – heroes not concerned with social welfare, seek gratification of private desire.
Ethos is a style or form of emotional experience. Ruth Benedict, the grand dame of the cultural and social study of groups and a professor to Margaret Mead (see Wallace, 1963, p 103), distinguishes two type of ethos for groups: Dionysian and Apollonian. The desire for the Dionysian is personal experience, while that of the Apollonian is moderation.

Finally values (p 101) are concepts or mental images that motivate a group to action. They are either positive or negative, moving a group towards or repelling them away from some idea. Health, membership in a prestigious group, leisure, and affluence are examples of such motivational food pellets.

This type of information should be stored in our customer database in addition to the raw data on demographics, and so on to help formulate a meaningful appeal after we have segmented target audiences.

Scott, D (2007). The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Wiley.

Spiller, L. and M. Baier (2005). Contemporary Direct Marketing. Pearson/Prentice-Hall.

Wallace, AFC (1963). Culture and Personality. Random House.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bove and Mitzifiris on Openness

In their article, Personality traits and the process of store loyalty in a transactional prone context, Bove and Mitzifiris (2007, p 507) give a quick and informative review of customer loyalty and the value it has to the marketing efforts of an organization. Customer loyalty results in better financial performance, forgiveness of service failures, and less price fighting. They assert that retailers must understand their customer’s loyalty orientation in the challenging business environment of today. The main topic of their article is an empirical study of how customer personality traits affect loyalty.

A well established personality profiling framework, the Five Factor Model (FFM) is used in deriving an answer to the key question, (p 508) “How can a retailer determine which customers have a relational orientation?” Their evaluation is how the FFM personality traits impact trust, commitment and satisfaction and in turn how these three factors affect loyalty with a fast food retailer.

This paper gave a good overview of the Five Factor Model, an important model for any discipline dealing with personality, including marketing. It also gave a quick summary of the literature related to customer loyalty – its benefits and the factors that affect it (p 509), trust, commitment and satisfaction. They also describe the NEO-PI measurement instrument (survey) that can be used for personality classification (p 510).

Bove and Mitzifiris posited fourteen hypotheses (p 509) about the relationship between personality traits and the three antecedents of trust, commitment and satisfaction, as well as between these antecedents and loyalty. The first method used was a literature review to establish the link between trust, commitment and satisfaction with loyalty. Previous empirical work had established these relationships so they built on that foundation.

They next designed a survey to use for measuring customer personality, the NEO-PI measures, and tailored it to their intended investigation. They used a Likert scale for each question’s response 1 to 5, strongly disagree to strongly agree. Rather than use a random sample of fast food retailers, they selected two with intent. They omitted one of the Five Factor Model dimensions, openness from the survey design.

They found (p 512, 514) that the relationship between the antecedents and the behavior aspect of loyalty is not explanatory or predictive. Additionally, of the four Five Factor Model personality traits they tested, only emotional stability had a material relationship to the antecedents, in this case trust (p 512). On the other hand, their model fared better with the attitude aspects of loyalty (p 515). Trust, commitment and satisfaction do have a positive correlation with attitudinal loyalty in fast food retailing.

I do think Bove and Mitzifiris (p 509) were hasty in the exclusion of the openness factor in the personality profile. They assert that there is no research evidence “to support an association between openness to experience and relation orientation.” However, Barbanelli, et al (1997) establish the link between openness and individuation and there is literature showing the link between individuation and commitment or even loyalty directly. For example, see Gnaulati and Heine (2001) or Chan and Misra(1990).

It also seems intuitively obvious that the personality factor of openness, which incorporates need for variety, would have an affect on commitment, especially in food retailing. Because of this, I would change the hypotheses model (p 510) constructed by Bove and Mitzifiris as noted by red coloration in the following diagram:

Despite this misgiving about openness, their investigation was able to make two significant conclusions. First, the pathway to loyalty proposed by Garbarino and Johnson for a theatre company may not be readily generalizable. Second, regarding the attitude towards the store (as opposed to buying behavior), trust, commitment and satisfaction do seem to be generalizable.

Barbaranelli, C, and G Caprara and C Maslach (1997). Individuation and the Five Factor Model of Personality Traits. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Bove, Liliana and Betty Mitzifiris (2007). Personality traits and the process of store loyalty in a transactional prone context. Journal of Services Marekting. Retrieved on August 26, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Chan, K and S Misra (1990). Characteristics of the Opinion Leader: A New Dimension. Journal of Advertising. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Gnaulati, E and B Heine (January 2001) Separation-Individuation in Late Adolescence: An Investigation of Gender and Ethnic Differences. Journal of Psychology. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Podsakoff, P, and S. MacKenzie, J. Lee, and N. Podsakoff (2003). Common Method Biases in Behavioral Research: A Critical Review of the Literature and Recommended Remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from

Monday, August 25, 2008

Microsoft and Open Source: A Gambler's Ruin Competition

Open Source software strikes at the heart of Microsoft – its value add to the economy. Open Source offers for free the software that Microsoft sells and that is the basis for its enormous revenue stream.

I think the relationship between Microsoft and Open Source is a Gambler's Ruin Competition. This is a rivalry between two parties, one with a large, well established position and the other with a small position but able to compete effectively on individual transactions. The classic example is a casino versus a professional gambler who has a system (also known as a martingale) that enables them to win more than 50% of the time.

Microsoft might see a rapid reversal of fortune if a few strategic buyers go Linux. These would be big enough Open Source wins that they reverse the over-dominating share, the house advantage Microsoft holds in the market.

ISVs would then become interested in Linux; additionally, Linux vendors could extend the purchase price advantage into a clear TCO advantage by improving usability and administrative services; end-users and help desks begin training on Linux.

The key strategy for Microsoft is to keep that from happening. Keep the “strategic buyers” in Windows. Government and large corporate buyers - they are far and away the most important publics.

For a more comprehensive analysis, see Redmond Review Gamblers

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Culture and Personality

A Canadian anthropologist, Anthony F.C. Wallace published a great book in 1963, Culture and Personality. He was largely forgotten and is now obscure, but he developed a theory of culture change that anticipated the very problems encountered by organization theory and marketing. He used historical studies of large social groups to warrant his conclusions but one of his application areas was in advertising. The process is the same in advertising as it is with a culture, a donor group introduce a change or innovation to a recipient group. Culture change.

He proposed a solution that is the heart of modern integrated marketing communications, to establish connections to publics for building long-term relationships. He suggested a variety of segmentation strategies based on modal personalities in these publics (we might say personas). A communication will have different levels of influence and effect on different modal personality types. He developed an influence scale as a guideline to improve the likelihood of group acceptance of the new ideas.

His criticism of advertising then (50’s and 60’s) was that it was too severe in its attempts to influence independent consumers, pegging it at the threat level on his scale. He notes (p 135)

“[Threat] is the device frequently used by commercial advertisers attempting to induce a target group to accept its product, non-buyers are threatened with loss of friends, job, health and sexual satisfaction if they fail to buy …”

His recommendation: move several steps down the ladder to peaceful negotiation. Here a mutually beneficial relationship is developed where the interests and motives of both parties “are well satisfied on a long-term basis.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Law of Requisite Variety

With Cool Hand Luke (see imdb ), “Rabbit gonna run” results in a “Fay-yah to communicate” lecture and thumping from the warden. With web sites, just the opposite: a failure to communicate results in a rabbit gonna run.

In his book "The Social Psychology of Organizing", Karl Weick offers an intriguing insight about communications generally that I think applies with force in Websites where we can’t see the rabbits come and go, except by their abstruse reflections in our web logs. He defines the Law of Requisite Variety:

“the variety in a system [such as a Website] must be at least as great as the environmental variety against which it is attempting to influence.“

For Web site designers, our site must have appeal to our different publics. Weick gives as an example a photographer, and I give a Website Design corollary:

  • A photographer has 5 subjects each at a different distance from the camera.
  • A IMC Website designer has 5 different psychographic segments to reach with the site
  • The photographers camera must have 5 distinct setting to capture all subjects with uniform density and clarity
  • The Website designer must have content for 5 distinct personas and apt navigation for each (as an example see WVU Home Page)
  • If the camera has fewer than 5 settings it lacks requisite variety and will not register with sufficient detail to depict with accuracy
  • If the Website does not have content of relevant interest to the 5 personas some of the visitors will leave in frustration.

Paul Gillin (see Paul's blog) in his excellent book The New Influencers describes an approach for addressing a diverse audience such as a University Website.

My conclusion, the home page is an important traffic cop to direct personas to their appropriate content.

We also need to be a Web boss like at right, because the customer, well he's got rabbit in his blood, and he'll run.

Requiem for a Rolodex

Denise Schoenbachler, Geoff Gordon, Dawn Foley and Linda Spellman published attractive and informative guidance (see ) for creating a customer database useful in Database Marketing. As a first step, they recommend that a vision document be prepared to explain the corporate need, to record user profiles, and to designate a project sponsor.

If the primary corporate use is list management, they suggest that a service bureau, such as All Media (see would be the most cost effective approach. On the other hand, if the corporate need is for segmenting customers, correlating customer traits with purchasing behavior, or which customer personas are the most profitable then a database development effort is necessary.

Sources of Feed Data
To build such a repository both internal and external sources of data must be filtered and merged. What types of information are typically stored and where can we get them? Spiller and Baier (2005, p73) list the usual suspects:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Financial history
  • Prospect interactions
  • Prospect Interaction Dates
  • Address and phone number
  • Profitability or net financial value

Psychographics is synonymous with life-style and personality. Such a profile can add supersonic energy to a direct marketing campaign by segmenting prospects for more effective communications (see Spiller and Baier, 2005, p 39). It may be derived from the appearance of a customer on various lists from different publications of note. A fine and handy source, however, remains The Lifestyle Selector by Equifax. It is fed by responses to surveys and completed product registration cards.

Spiller and Baier (pp 37-39 ) further disclose other sources of powerful information. These include the CensusCD Neighborhood Change Database. Census data (p 38) is a good source of demographic data about our prospects. This is the usual necessary demographics: age, gender, education level, income level, occupation, and type of housing. They (p 13) suggest that customer lists from prominent publications may have relevance not only as data to overlay the customer database but as channels for direct response print advertising.

There is also (p 13) the implication that web site audit logs are useful sources for data mining to see where visitors to the web site sourced from, as well as what landing pages they reviewed and for how long at they stayed at the web site. Their CGI headers will contain their IP address, and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) can be traced from that. It may be possible to purchase a list to get the demographic data and other monitoring data held by the ISP.

Additionally, there are compiled lists from third parties such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, Birth records, and other state and county court house data. Regarding information from governmental sources, Phelps and Bunker (2001, p 34) caution that

“Although the individual-level nature of public records information increases its utility for marketers, the use of such individual-specific information has contributed to consumer privacy concerns.”

Is all lost? Direct Marketers may be able to use access statutes to retrieve the desideratum. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a popular choice and there is no specific exclusion for commercial use of the information (p 35).

However, they summarize legal arguments (p 44) on the topic with the assertion that while FOIA may not restrict use based on motivation for obtaining the information, it does not guarantee access for commercial purposes. They conclude (p 46) that

“the creation of provisions that discriminate based upon the motivation of the requester seems a slippery slope that legislatures should avoid starting down. Marketers must realize, however, that public opinion, like gravity, can work to push legislation down this slope.”

How to Grow the Database
Spiller and Baier (2005, p 52) suggest starting with a simple name and address database and then incorporate geographic, demographic and psychographic data about each prospect. They explain (pp 75-79) how to calculate the Life Time Value (LTV aka PAR) of a customer and to decide if the cost of obtaining and maintaining the customer’s data in our database is a worthy exercise. The PAR Ratio is cost/PAR. If this ratio is less than one, then the customer’s record pays its freight.

According to them (p 7) the process should start with defining personas for the prospects themselves:

  • Who they are
  • What they need and want
  • How the college fit into that
  • Where they are located
  • When they are ready to interact with the college
  • Why they interact
  • Their level of commitment
  • What channels for distribution are most efficient.

Crucial facts from the databases would be the recency, frequency and monetary value of interactions with prospects (p 10). This will help profile an expected relationship with the prospect and the your company. It is vitally important the data obtained externally be guaranteed fresh (p 44). Stale data results not only in wastage but in antagonism to non-prospects getting spammed.

Lost Your Keys?
Keys are a critical part of joining data from different sources so you can be sure that you are adding the correct information from one source record to its corresponding record in another source (see Olson, 2003, p 176). Keys are fields or attributes that uniquely identify a record such as SSN but not like name. However, having such keys across all lists is a luxury, although Spiller and Baier have a remedy to take the place of unavailable keys (p 65) – a match code.

Match codes are formulated from Name and Address information and can be used to match records from different source so they can be properly merged (p 66) . They can also be used to purge duplicates. A counter of the duplicates discovered should be incremented on the retained record before the duplicate is deleted (p 68) because showing up on two or more lists is an indicator of the strength of interest for that prospect.

The database should also be updated with results from our own integrated communication campaigns to appealingly increase efficiencies. Schoenbackler, et al say that the different promotions or specific motivational actions and the responses to such, are

“perhaps, the most valuable benefit of the database. Marketers no longer have to
accept John Wanamaker’s lament that ‘half of what I spend on advertising is
wasted – the problem is which half?’”

They also recommend that a marketing analysis be conducted on the customer database to sub-serve two important functions: 1.) profitability; and 2.) Trends. Trends analysis is a dramatic synthesis of our most productive through least productive customer profiles – i.e. who are the whales.

What problems can confront us? Our old friend data quality is a usual suspect. See . Traditional project management failings can torpedo this type of effort but they can work their powerful wreckage on any type of information technology effort.

Schoenbachler, et al sum up that database marketing is a necessity not an option.


Olson, Jack (2003). Data Quality; Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Phelps J., and M. Bunker (Winter 2001). DIRECT MARKETERS’ USE OF PUBLIC

Spiller, L. and M. Baier (2005). Contemporary Direct Marketing. Pearson/Prentice-Hall.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Impact of New Media on Database Marketing: Supersonic Energy

According to Spiller and Baier (2005, p 15) direct marketing contributes $2T to the U.S. economy and the industry employs 16.1 M people. They note that direct marketing is interactive, measurable, as well as response and database driven. MarketingCharts (see MarketingCharts ) reports that the Direct Marketing industry has experienced growth in the 18 quarters prior to first quarter 2008.

Direct marketing is the largest share of marketing services (see Share)

and Marketing Services is the largest segment of the media industry:

Business is changing its relationship with marketing. Spiller and Baier (2005, p 13) note that traditional advertising is largely unaccountable. Weber (2007, pp 115-116) notes there is a convergence between what management wants and what marketing can deliver with new media.

Additionally, direct marketing with the new media is addressable, interactive, dynamically customizable and contextual. Contextual means that corporate buyers will know how a customer came to them and have a basis for predicting where the customer is in the buying/subscribing/joining process. Database analytical services present context so marketers can “predict future behavior and use promotional strategies that will not only drive prospects to their web sites but also engage them in meaningful and ongoing transactions once there.” John Naisbit (see Spiller and Baier, 2005, p 13) says we are drowning in information but have little knowledge. Direct marketers are getting knowledge from database analytical services to customize messages to the buyer.

Larson (see FreeLibrary) says that more analytics are available with new database technology, and this enables marketers to refine their prospect list for customized messages more suitable to the specific publics being reached. Two other technology changes that have favored direct marketing according to Spiller and Baier (2005, p 16, 13) are in printing and the Internet. The powerful, low cost printing on PCs today as well as computerized type on large scale presses has initiated a “demassification” of print so that direct marketers can print sophisticated newsletters, brochures, and sales materials quickly and at low cost. The Internet is a ubiquitous medium for interactive, one-to-one communications from direct marketing to customers, ranging from email, to Web sites, to cell phones through SMS gateways, and a myriad of other creative approaches.

In summary, the growth of direct marketing is enhanced by high-tech such as New Media, and data mining. Goldstein (2006, p 16) concludes that high-tech is changing the nature of marketing, by enabling more targeted and values driven approaches that favor direct marketing.

“Brand and messaging strategies will become more targeted and values-driven. And to compete, companies will create their own direct channels to reach stakeholders with internet broadcasting, e-mail and other direct marketing techniques. Companies will establish their own databases of shareholders and customers willing to defend the firm.”

Goldstein, Stuart (2006). Fast forward: Future trends in corporate communication.
Strategic Communication Management. Retrieved from EBSCOHOST on August 18, 2008.

Larson, Boo (2008 ). How Direct is It? Osborn & Barr Communications, Kansas City, MO. COPYRIGHT 2008 Doane Information Service.

Spiller, Lisa and Martin Baier (2005). Contemporary Direct Marketing. Pearson/Prentice-Hall.

Weber, Larry (2007). Marketing to the Social Web. John Wiley.

Monday, August 11, 2008

BMW's Guitar Score

If you have been watching Mad Men season two, you have heard the quiet clarity of the guitar picking in BMW’s We Built commercial (Bimmer: We Built). It was composed by Singing Serpent (their blog) a San Diego music house that does elegant and attractive work. According to creative director Rafter Roberts, SingingSerpent provides "as wide an array of Musical/thematic concepts as anyone could ever want out of a spot.”

The We Built score is reminiscent of Christa Päffgen’s work in the mid-60s (see Nico) especially her These Days track on the Chelsea Girl album, if you can get through the violins . These Days is emblematic of the pop music of that time (Amazon_30_sec) and it has “lasted for decades as a classic of [blue] introspection made even more remarkable by [Jackson] Browne having been only 16 years old when he wrote it.”

Arrangements similar to We Built would seem effective appeals to baby boomers of higher income and education levels (see Music Audience). The demographics of this style pop music has a bias for higher income and education levels. Likewise for BMW’s demographics (for example see BNet).

Dr. David Allan (2006, p 435, in Effects of Popular Music) says the value of syncing music into advertising campaigns is increased involvement through a heightened arousal. However, his research also shows that

“The individuals in this experiment processed songs and artists they considered high in personal significance differently from those that were low in significance”

BMW has a song cycle of commercials to reach its various publics, including these:

Advertisers seem to pull out the stops for Mad Men and showcase their talent. SleepingSerpent is a persuasive best for BMW.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Is There a Smoking Hole in the Future of TV and Print?

I think yes, powerful vicious circles are converging around the traditional TV and Print media formats. They must face a new revenue reality. They must face accountability. Their God Complex days are over.

The interdependent nature of the variables in vicious circles means that different circles can become coincident and reinforcing, creating a perfect storm. TV and Print will be pulled through a vortex much more powerful than radio, and after which their look and capacity will be very much different than today.

An unspeakable degree of financial revenue destruction has been initiated. Advertising, especially classified advertising is shifting to the Internet, to the new media. Classified advertising had been the financial spine of newspapers, cross-subsidizing reporting, political commentary and editorial activities (See Free Press Article). It represented 30% (See Newspapers Suffer) to 37% of newspaper revenues (See Media Manager).

Accountability. That dread word. On the corporate side of this table, marketing has acted like a junkie in the boardrooms, tin-cupping for money without demonstrable value. On the other hand, the new media can provide the metrics that management wants.

It is plainly clear from current events that revenue base destruction, and accountability will change the business model in the traditional media of TV and Print. Their days of royal power are numbered, and they will become more of a first among equals in the world shaped by the new media.

For a more complete analysis see Redmond Review Smoking Hole.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Speedpass, a Loyalty Gadget

Exxon-Mobile’s Speedpass Card (See Speedpass.Com) is a high tech loyalty program that Hoffman (2005, pp 312-314) calls Loyalty Gadgets. These loyalty devices are similar to the loyalty cards of traditional rewards programs but customers can load initial cash balances and reload cash as needed onto the card, or they involve a more convenient high-tech gadget than the traditional credit card.

In the case of Exxon, the Speedpass Card is a convenience for their customers, extending interactive social media to the gas pump. As an incentive for joining customers usually get a rebate on gasoline for the first 90 days of use. For business users, it also provides handy accounting of fuel purchases. Hoffman also notes (p 312) that these loyalty gadget cards create “a sense of belonging” to compliment the convenience and rewards. There is also a novelty to the experience that is “cool” adding to a sense of modernity.

According to Hoffman (p 313), the benefits to Exxon are that customers appear to “spend more when they don’t see the money.” ExxonMobile reports that Speedpass customers spend 15% more than non-Speedpass customers. Exxon now has in excess of five million members according to Hoffman (p 313). Covvenience is reflected in the bottom line.

In addition to use at Exxon Mobile affiliated locations, Speedpass is expanding into the fast food retailers with McDonalds. The customer database can be used by McDonalds to offer the same convenience provided at the pump. In addition to key fobs, Timex is now partnering with Exxon Mobile to have Speedpass enabled watches.

The downside is cost. Hoffman notes the following costs: 1.) Advertising; 2.) Card reload costs; 3.) Synchronizing provider’s inventory management system; and 4.) Scanning technology.

Hoffman, K.D. (2005). Loyalty Gadgets: The Marriage Between Technology and Loyalty Marketing. Marketing Principles & Best Practices 3e. Thomson/Southwestern.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sa Ne Faire Rien? Public Relations and the New Media.

The old image of public relations as bar flies with delusions of being puppet masters came a cropper. The public became cynical of public relations as in CYNICAL. The nature of public relations is coming full circle, according to David Scott (New Rules of Marketing and PR), Paul Gillan (The New Influencers), and Lauri Wilson and Joe Ogden (Strategic Communication Planning).

Wilson and Ogden trace the creation of public relations as strategic advisor to the CEO in the early 20th century and its quick fall to a staff function considered a luxury. Inger Stole tells us the dark purpose of public relations, after the tragic fall and before its current resurrection, was to “resist and co-opt the consumer movement” and buttress slick advertising (see University of Illinois Books).

Innovative forces have been unleashed by the new social media and they are working utter destruction on the old PR. The value of the new public relations is honest and open content that is readily available to searchers when they need it. “Content drives action.”

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations in its Official Statement on Public Relations(see PRSA Mission), and it is consistent with the new PR described by Scott. The essence is that it fosters mutually beneficial relationships.

Redmond Review has a complete analysis at Redmond Review Sanna Fairy Anne

Wilson, Laurie and Ogden, Joseph (2004). Strategic Communications Planning, 4th Ed. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cherchez la Femme at the Ritz

Short films and streaming media are increasingly being incorporated into an integrated communications strategy. The promise of the Internet as an effective tool for many uses including business communications, marketing and branding, sales, training, and customer support is now being rapidly fulfilled. Larry Bouthillier and Tim Napoleon have a great article on the technology behind it, streaming media. (see VitalStream)

I looked at how Ritz-Carlton Hotels has integrated short films into its Experience More marketing messages. The Heads or Tails movie can be viewed at Heads_or_Tails. This movie quickly got to the point, two men struggling for the attention of a women, and stayed with it without deviation to the end. I was caught off guard by the tempo. The two men are quickly drawn into Pushkin's doomed duel, and one even says to the other with bravado, "Let's do this thing", the modern venacular for "Let's begin, if you are willing" of Pushkin's Russia.

The plot was simple. A man and a woman meet another man and the competition between the men starts. The Herculean labors of mental one-upsmanship in the middle of the film end with a physical contest and a surprise finish. It is a short film noir. It even uses the lighting and music of classic film noir greats such as the Maltese Falcon, ChinaTown and The Great Gatsby.

I believe the film effectively and subtlety communicates the message of elegant experiences at the Ritz. The Experience More Campaign by Ritz is based on a marketing analysis of their customer public, according to a Hotel Motel Management article. Heather Gunther (see Hotel_Motel_Mgmt ) quotes Jerry Landeck who has developed seven Ritz properties, “Our clients are demanding more experiential elements in the resort.”

They have designed signature restaurants and bars with the able assistance of artisans such as Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey and Laurent Tourondel. The main action of Heads or Tails takes place in a restaurant bar. The bus boy wears a Baume & Mercier watch. The barkeep is a sommelier. The marketing short film integrates smoothly with the Experience More grand strategy that also guides construction.

Regarding the ethics of short films in marketing communications, Packard (see Hidden_Persuaders) asked the essential question that is still relevant today

"What is the morality of playing upon hidden weaknesses and frailties -- such as our anxieties, aggressive feelings, dread of nonconformity, and infantile hang-overs -- to sell products? Specifically, what are the ethics of businesses that shape campaigns designed to thrive on these weaknesses they have diagnosed?"
Packard quotes a Madison Avenue Industrial Complex insider, Nicholas Samstag with the industry reply:

"It may be said that to take advantage of a man's credulity, to exploit his misapprehensions, to capitalize on his ignorance is morally reprehensible -- and this may well be the case. . . . I do not quite know."

It would be blind denial of plain fact to say that Heads or Tails was not engineered to exploit the apeing frailty of those with airs above their station. Yet the customers are asking for the fantasy, and to some extent that is what a vacation is all about anyway. Unlike, Samstag I am going to say it is not unethical, at least in the case of Ritz Carlton. It is an unspoken intent of the resort vacationers Ritz serves to assume the stale pretense of "acquired taste" and "rich appointments."