Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Women are getting smart about what’s in their cosmetics

Aimee Racine, Account Manager

As women, we are constantly bombarded with different health care and makeup products that can "cover up this" and "anti-age that" but are they really safe? If it's approved by Health Canada or the FDA in the States then we assume that the product is ok. But after the revelation about the harmful hormone, Bisphenol A, surfaced with plastics (especially those that were in baby bottles) as consumers we have to be proactive and keep on top about what could be harmful to our health.

A site that is looking out for the consumer called, Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database, run by a non-profit company, Environmental Working Group, who evaluate over 25,000 cosmetic and personal care products against 50 different toxicity and regulatory databases. They rate each product, which span from make-up to baby and pet products, out of 10; 10 being the highest toxicity.

As I read the information on the site, I was intrigued to find out so many common products that we all assume to be ok were in fact quite harmful to our health and/or the environment. So last night I went to the drug store and bought shampoo, Pantene Pro-V Texturize, and I was able to find that product evaluated on the site. Just so you know gals, this research tool is not just for ladies. In fact, Skin Deep was recommended to me by my boyfriend who was comparing sunscreens. Check it out to see how the products in your drawers shape up.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

"Letta Mama feed you"

Aimee Racine, Account Manager

Commercials. Most of them are boring and don’t really catch my attention. However, this week I saw an exception. Michelina’s. Their current campaign has two commercials airing, with the character of Mama Michelina as the star. She appears in two out of place locations --a climbing wall and an indoor football field. Mama Michelina comes to the rescue with a microwave Michelina’s dinner and saves the day. Here is the one with the girl wall climbing. I know it is a simple concept that has been used to sell products for decades but the “Mama knows best” angle made me laugh out loud and appealed to me as a woman.

I often feel pressure to look a certain way, but when I watched this commercial that seemed to melt away. For a brief moment, Mama Michelina was my grandmother, taking care of me and all of my problems including making sure I eat enough. I was able to take a nostalgic look back to my childhood eating habits, a time when I never once thought of my waistline and the fact that I have to exercise like a maniac in order to stay healthy. For that 30 seconds, I watched someone reaching out and caring about another’s well-being. In the end, I guess sometimes we want our grandmother to swoop in on a carabineer line and spoon feed us, even though it is a microwave pasta dinner, and take us away from our diets and exercise and love us, no matter what we look like.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creative campaigns find new ways to “go green”

Over the past few months, green initiatives have given birth to some very interesting campaigns and programs. The latest from Al Gore’s “non-profit, non-partisan effort,” Alliance for Climate Protection, brings political rivals Reverend Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson together for an unconventional public service message. The video, available at, features the unlikely pair urging viewers to work together in helping our planet.

The Green is Universal website from NBC Universal features programs and tips, as well as an extensive “Green Glossary” of related terms. The site provides a portal to its other company websites, including NBC. The network’s television prime time schedule has also adapted to the growing movement. Shows such as The Bionic Woman and Scrubs have tailored their storylines to promote green living.

Another notable program closer to home is Green Enterprise Toronto, a site dedicated to helping businesses and consumers “become greener” and “think locally.” Its site offers a directory of Toronto-based, environmentally-friendly businesses - featuring everything from health spas, landscapers, restaurants, and specialty stores geared to women.

Aside from local activism and consumer awareness, the green movement has motivated people to look at almost every aspect of their life and health from a different perspective. An article on offers tips on “how to have a green baby”, including preparing organic diets, how to avoid everyday toxins, and making your own baby food.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are women loyal to loyalty?

All this talk about loyalty programs and it begs the question; are women loyal to loyalty programs? Where are marketers missing the mark? And, where is loyalty when you need it?

Take a particular Canadian telco that will remain nameless. For now. In the last year, I have switched over both of my business phone accounts, set up a new business Internet account, switched over my home phone account and upgraded my wireless data account. In all, between my businesses and my personal and household telecommunications and data use, we hold 6 accounts with this telco.

Now, what would make good sense is that I would be rewarded and recognized for the total sum of business that I have with this company and will bring to this company over time (lifetime customer value). Yet, when I call, I wait on hold for more than 30 minutes (on my cell phone!), they often cannot find my account at all, and the technician doesn’t show up for scheduled appointments making me waste countless, valuable business hours waiting to give them business. I have complained many times with no acknowledgement.

Now here is my prescription for an ideal rewards and recognition program that would work :

· Discounts on monthly fees based on total business value (across all accounts)
· Consolidation of accounts- single view across call centers
· Front of the line service and recognition flagged for call centers (key codes reducing waiting time)
· Prompt resolution when problems arise

Are women loyal to loyalty programs? Essentially we need to separate the brand from the program. There are programs that we have an emotional connection to where a loyalty program may be icing on the cake but won’t ultimately affect the brand love. Then, there are brands that we tolerate and sometimes like where a great loyalty program can make all the difference. In short, loyalty programs need to:

1. Be highly usable (not creating extra work at uptake or for ongoing use)
2. Show immediate reward ($ off, front of the line recognition, other redemption opps)
3. Bring the consumer closer to the brand (increase switching costs, increase frequency of purchase and increase brand favour)

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