Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Winners of 2011 Radio Mercury Awards Recognized
Winners for the 2011 Radio Mercury Awards were announced Tuesday evening during the 20th annual awards reception at the Sentry Center, as part of the 2011 Advertising Week Conference in New York. This year's Best of Show Award was bestowed upon EURO RSCG for the spot "Coffee" for Dos Equis.
"The importance of shows like the Radio Mercury Awards, where we honor the best of the medium, inspires us to improve upon the craft that we love with a single focused mission of capturing imagination and creating love affairs for the brands we serve," said Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett USA and Chief Judge for the 2011 Radio Mercury Awards. "The judges unanimously selected the Dos Equis 'Coffee' spot for Best of Show as it showcases best in class creative and delivers on this mission. As one juror said, a great audio spot is like a great song, you just want to hear it over and over again."
"The creative work in this year's competition demonstrates the importance of audio in brand building and marketing efforts on behalf of advertisers," said Jeff Haley, President and CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau. "We're thrilled to see the continued diversification of brands that have made their foray into radio as well as how these brands are using audio in new and innovative ways."
This year's Marketer of the Year Award was presented to Chase for their utilization of radio in their brand and awareness efforts.
The lively ceremony, hosted by Matt Pinfield, featured appearances by many of Radio's leading brand personalities, including Steve Harvey, host of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Show on WBLS; Greg T and TJ from Elvis Duran and the nationally syndicated Z100 Morning Show on Clear Channel's Z100; Cipha Sounds, Peter Rosenberg, K-Foxx, from the Cipha Sounds & Rosenberg Show heard on Emmis' Hot 97; and Jim Douglas and Kim Berk, hosts of the Jim and Kim Morning Show on CBS Radio's Fresh 102.7.
Also in attendance were numerous leaders from the creative and advertising community, including the aforementioned CCO, Susan Credle, Leo Burnett USA; Rich Stoddart, President, Leo Burnett USA; Brooke Aslesen and Georgina Flores from Allstate; Rob Feakins, CCO, Publicis NY; as well as creative teams from Euro RSCG, BBDO NY, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners Ramona, McGarryBowen, Publicis NY, and the Martin Agency. Along with the large attendance from the creative community, the next generation of creatives participated with students from Ad Schools such as the Creative Circus, University of Texas at Arlington and 101 The Ad School.
Below is a list of the winning spots. Listen to all of the work that was rewarded at this year's ceremony by clicking here.
2011 Radio Mercury Awards Winners:
Best of Show -- $100,000 Grand Prize
Dos Equis -- Heineken USA
Euro RSCG New York
Agency/Production $5,000 Prize
Dos Equis -- Heineken USA
Euro RSCG New York
Agency/Production $2,500 Prize
Symantec Norton Internet Security
Leo Burnett Chicago
Integrated Radio Campaign Winner
Leo Burnett Chicago
Public Service/Awareness Winner
Veterans Day Parade
Meyer & Wallis
Radio Campaign Winner
The Martin Agency
Radio Station Produced Winner
Feeling Trapped DWI
Trapp and Associates
Zimmer Radio & Marketing Group of Mid-Missouri
Spanish Language Winner
Student Produced Winner
University of Texas-Arlington
||U.S. Vehicle Sales Soared Nearly 10% in September, Despite Economic Gloom
Auto sales defied a downcast economy in September, climbing 9.9 percent to their highest level in five months as new models arrived at dealerships and inventory shortages eased.
All three of the Detroit automakers reported gains, led by a 27.2 percent year-over-year increase for Chrysler, which outsold Toyota for the fourth time this year.
Toyota and Honda again trailed the rest of the industry, even though September was the first month since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that all of their plants were running at full capacity. Toyota's sales dropped 17.5 percent, and Honda's were down 8 percent. In contrast, Nissan sales increased 25.3 percent.
The industry's seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate rose to 13.1 million, the first time since April that they had exceeded 13 million. General Motors and Ford Motor each said they still expected total sales for 2011 to top 13 million, which would require demand to jump further in the fourth quarter.
Auto executives and analysts said shoppers had not been dissuaded by a declining stock market, bleak consumer confidence surveys, a sluggish housing market or high unemployment. Bigger discounts offered by some brands have helped, as have new offerings like the Chevrolet Sonic, a subcompact car, and a bevy of redesigned models from Chrysler.
"I don't know of any other month where we had positive gains in auto sales with all of those negative factors," Jesse Toprak, vice president for industry trends and insight at TrueCar.com, which tracks sales and pricing. "The automakers might be convincing some consumers who may not be so eager to spend their money to buy a car because the product is so compelling."
Mr. Toprak said more consumers also were showing up at dealerships because their current vehicle had outlived its useful life and they had no choice but to buy a replacement. High used-car prices are prompting some in that situation to buy a new one instead.
"As long as things remain relatively stable, even in the face of persistently high unemployment, we're going to consistently see slow growth," Don Johnson, G.M.'s vice president for United States sales operations, said in a conference call. "Right now, the pent-up demand due to age of vehicles is what's keeping this nice, steady, slow growth going." G.M. sales increased 19.7 percent in September over a year ago.
Falling gas prices helped persuade more shoppers to buy pickup trucks and other larger vehicles. Sales of light trucks, including sport utility vehicles and minivans, rose 16.1 percent, while passenger cars were up 3.4 percent.
Sales of full-size pickups, which typically fare best when the construction industry prospers, surged 46 percent at Chrysler and 33 percent at G.M. Ford, whose sales were up 9 percent overall, sold 18 percent more light trucks but 8.7 percent fewer cars.
At Chrysler, September was the 18th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. It reported a 24.3 percent gain for its Jeep brand of SUV's.
"Irrespective of the economy, strong products equal strong sales," Reid Bigland, Chrysler's head of United States sales, said in a statement. "There is no double-dip downturn going on around here."
Another carmaker with considerable momentum is Nissan, which experienced relatively minor disruptions from the Japan disaster. Nissan sold 68 percent more of its subcompact car, the Versa, and its midsize sedan, the Altima, has outsold the Honda Accord so far this year.
In addition, the Nissan Leaf, an electric car, added to its sales lead over the Chevrolet Volt, G.M.'s plug-in hybrid. Nissan sold 1,031 Leafs to G.M.'s 723 Volts, but G.M. officials said they were still ramping up production while expanding sales to dealers nationwide.
For Toyota and Honda, even though plants are running at full speed, inventories are expected to remain below prequake levels until early next year. But dealerships said they were finally able to meet most shoppers' needs again, rather than just taking an order or hoping the customer came back later.
"It's beginning to feel like normal, almost," said Adam Skolnick, the general manager at Toyota of Watertown, near Boston. "We have plenty of cars on the lot, and I'm anticipating many, many more coming in the next 45 days or so."
Mr. Skolnick said the arrival of the redesigned Toyota Camry sedan a week ago was helping the dealership make a quick recovery. For September, Camry sales fell 19.2 percent, but it was the industry's top-selling car.
"It's been like a bakery here, with people taking numbers to see the car," Mr. Skolnick said. "It makes it feel fun again."
(Source: The New York Times, 10/04/11)
||Holiday Forecasters Have Their Work Cut Out for Them This Year
The first round of Christmas sales forecasts are trickling in, and retailers are once again wringing their hands about the biggest shopping period of the year.
Most merchants placed orders for holiday goods in the spring, when there was still plenty of hope that the economy was on the mend. But since then the combination of the first-ever U.S. credit downgrade, the European debt crisis and widespread talk of a double-dip recession has squelched that optimism.
Consumer behavior has never been easy to discern. But experts say it is getting harder to predict in the long aftermath of the recession.
"Consumerism today is getting more and more unpredictable, and the recession has a lot to do with that," said Tracy Pilar Johnson, research director at Context Research, a Baltimore-based consumer behavior research firm. "People are still shopping. They are still buying things. It's just more hit or miss."
Trying to figure out shoppers' appetites for holiday spending is critical for retailers, as sales rung up in the November-December period account for 20 to 25 percent of most retailers' annual revenue. At jewelry and toy stores, the figures reach 30 to 40 percent.
At the same time, a bad holiday season for retailers could be a bonanza for consumers. Recall the horrible holiday of 2008. The financial crisis happened so quickly that retailers were stuck with loads of goods and panicked. They slashed prices, overwhelming consumers with deals. Shoppers snatched up designer duds at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for markdowns at 60 and 70 percent, a rare treat.
In 2009, with the memory of the previous season's price slashing fresh in their minds, retailers reduced their holiday orders. The play-it-safe strategy led to bare shelves and slim pickings for procrastinating shoppers. Last year, retailers brought in more inventory but took extra steps to make sure the goods would sell. Widespread offers of free shipping and Black Friday promotions that lasted throughout November sent retail sales soaring more than 4 percent, double what most forecasters had predicted.
Kurt Salmon, the Atlanta-based retail consulting firm, has watched consumers becoming less predictable since the depths of the recession. The correlation between what the 8,000 consumers on the firm's monthly research panel say they're going to spend and what they actually do spend has been shrinking in the past three years.
Before the recession, the survey had a 78 percent accuracy rate, said John Long, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon. Today, it is 20 percent. The difference: Consumers say they will trim their spending, but then they don't cut back as much as they intended.
"Consumers want to be disciplined, yet they are enticed to buy when they go in stores," Long said. "Even when consumer confidence goes down, consumers aren't reducing their spending. It gets to what shopping is doing for them psychologically."
Still, confidence among the nation's consumers languished at a two-year low in September, while the percentage of households saying it is hard to find a job climbed to the highest level in 28 years. That's not exactly a recipe for a merry shopping season, according to some forecasters.
"The outlook for the 2011 holiday season is not a matter of whether it will be weak, but rather how weak it will be in the wake of declining consumer and business confidence," wrote Frank Badillo, senior economist at Kantar Retail, in the London-based retail consulting firm's annual holiday forecast report.
Kantar expects fourth-quarter retail sales to increase 2.8 percent this year compared with a 5.6 percent gain in the same period in 2010. Unit volume, a measure that eliminates the effect of price increases, is forecast to remain flat and may turn negative by the end of the year, the firm said.
Other retail forecasts agree.
ShopperTrak, the Chicago-based retail foot-traffic counting firm, expects retail sales to rise 3 percent in November and December combined, compared with a 4.1 percent gain last year. The International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York-based trade group of malls, predicts a 2.2 percent gain for November-December compared with a 5 percent rise last year.
Meanwhile, Deloitte LLP's retail consulting arm forecasts an increase of between 2.5 percent and 3 percent for the three months ending in January, compared with a 5.9 percent rise last year. The National Retail Federation, the retail trade group, has yet to release its forecast.
(The final sales figures vary at each organization because each group tracks a different slice of the retail industry.)
Anticipating what consumers are going to do next can be like forecasting the weather. The actual percentage forecast itself is less relevant than the general direction the retail industry is headed, said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the shopping centers group. And, even then, forecasters can get it wrong, he said.
In September 2008, when Lehman Bros. collapsed, sparking the global financial crisis, consumer spending came to an abrupt halt. The shopping environment deteriorated so quickly that few forecasters bothered to revise their initial upbeat estimates. In the end, 2008 ranked as the worst holiday retail season in four decades, falling 5.7 percent, according to Commerce Department data.
As a weak economy and high unemployment lingered in 2009 and 2010, most forecasters underestimated how much consumers would spend for the holidays.
In a 1981 Wall Street Journal article, dug up by Niemira, the adjectives used to describe the holiday season are typical. The early outlook: "Slow season; cut prices." The mid-December view: "Gloomy." The post-Christmas view: "Good, not great."
Holiday retail sales that year, based on the aggregate of chain store sales, rose 8.8 percent, a figure that today would be "booming," Niemira said.
"At the end of the day, the game of forecasting is not so much about a point estimate, but to telegraph what we think the economic environment and industry trends suggest for the season," Niemira said. "No single forecast is ever that powerful an influencing factor, but the consensus of views may be important."
Nonetheless, the shock of the recession has forced consumers of all economic classes to consider their shopping and buying patterns carefully, said Kit Yarrow, a professor and consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. For many it was the first time they had stopped to consider the "whys behind their buys," she said.
"These days people can't predict what body blow is coming at them next," Yarrow said. "Consumers are looking at this uncertainty in the long haul and saying, 'How can I readjust my budget so I can still get some goodies?' I think we will see splurges this Christmas as people are looking for stress relief and fun stuff."
Balancing their budgets
The merchandisers at mass discounter Meijer Inc. have watched as shoppers in their stores habitually put both expensive and bargain items in the same basket. The items differ depending on what the individual shoppers value, but the behavior spans all income levels, said J.K. Symancyk, executive vice president of merchandising at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retail chain.
"It is routine to see people walk in and splurge on a $20 bottle of olive oil and in the same trip cut back in another category they don't value as much," Symancyk said. "The customer's definition of value has gotten more complex."
Cathy Kuzel, a 49-year-old mother of two in St. Charles, Ill., like many shoppers, is addicted to coupons and bargains. But a low price alone isn't enough to entice her to make a purchase.
Kuzel started her Christmas shopping last month at Toys "R" Us. Her husband is starting a new business, so the holiday budget is focused solely on the children this year. Kuzel's strategy is to spread the gift buying across several months, so the family doesn't have to pay one big bill at the end of the year.
"I don't always go for the cheapest price," Kuzel said. "I would rather spend a little bit more and get what I really want. I have to be selective in this economy."
Toys "R" Us Inc. Chairman and CEO Gerald Storch said shoppers are willing to spend if the product is "good enough." He said that is why the merchants at the Wayne, N.J.-based toy store chain invest so much energy in finding what they believe will be the hottest toys for the season. Among their picks: the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer and Lalaloopsy Silly Hair dolls.
"I do believe, in this environment, consumers are focusing on products they need or on what they really, really want," Storch said. "We're certain of this much: Christmas will come, and people will buy great toys for their children."
(Source: Chicago Tribune, 10/02/11)
Daily Sales Tip: Using Social Media for Pre-Call Research
Social media tools make pre-call research easy, and your prospects know this. They are likely to consider an unprepared sales call as an ill-informed, out of touch sales rep, and they aren't going to want to buy from them!
Check out LinkedIn before you pick up that phone to make sure you have the right person you are trying to reach. You might even discover that you have mutual acquaintances, which can be a huge help to gaining a prospect's trust.
Also consider signing up for Google Alerts to stay in touch with the latest news on what's happening with their organization. The more prepared and well-informed you are, the easier it's going to be to gain that prospect's trust in you, which should ultimately lead to more closed deals.
Source: Rick Faulk, President/CEO of LandslideCRM