Digital Lifeline for Struggling Artists

fans_friendsSelf-promotion is all the rage in social media publishing these days, with titles like Stephen Van Yoder’s 2nd edition of Get Slightly Famous, Jorge Olson’s Unselfish Guide to Self-Promotion and Dan Schawbel’s Me 2.0 hitting the market in just the last few months.  

I haven’t had a chance to read many of these volumes in any depth yet, but I did make it a point to pick up Scott Kirsner’s Fans, Friends and Followers when it arrived in the mail.  Two reasons:

  •         Kirsner is an accomplished journalist who knows how to tell stories, and I think stories are the essence of learning.
  •         He’s a tight and efficient writer, so I knew that the 183 pages would be time well spent.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Fans, Friends And Followers is packed with useful information about how to create a following online and possibly quit your day job.  Kirsner, who writes extensively about film for a variety of publications as well as his own CinemaTech blog, did his homework, conducting dozens of conversations with successful artists who have created enthusiastic followings and featuring their words in a section of first-person narratives interviews that make up the majority of the book. He distills their experiences into 35 pages of advice about how to maximize your search visibility, use low-cost promotional channels and distribute products cheaply

And in the best tradition of practicing what one preaches, Kirsner self-published in both print and digital form and has taken responsibility for marketing the title himself.

Self-publishing shaved months off the production process. “I’d say about half [the books I receive from publishers] have gone stale by the time they get into my hands,”  he told me in an e-mail exchange.  Not only that, but authors can make considerably more money off of self-published books than those produced by commercial publishers if they promote them well.

I had heard of only a few of the people I met in Fans, Friends And Followers, but that doesn’t matter.  These people have built legions of followers through hyper-efficient and inexpensive word-of-mouth marketing juiced by digital tools. The artists profiled here have little in common other than their ambition to chase a dream and the street sense to double down on opportunities.  Some have made the jump to semi-stardom, like Richard Cheese and his band, Lounge Against the Machine.  Most, however, are content with small but passionate groups of followers who provide just enough income for them to develop their talents.  Not everyone in this book is making a living as an artist, but most are coming pretty close.

Audience Connection

Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner

Another thread that runs through these interviews is a remarkable connection these artists have with their audiences.  That’s because the tools they use, which range from e-mail lists to Facebook groups to fan-based distribution networks, are so easy to develop today compared to a few years ago.  In contrast with the recording or film industry megastars, these people are almost addicted audience feedback. 

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton, for example, actually asks fans to sign a log book if they want him to come to their city.  While planning a trip to Seattle, he messaged local fans that he was having difficulty finding a place to perform. Within 24 hours, a half dozen volunteers had come forth to help.

Many of the artists Kirsner profiles publish their own work and sell them out of their homes or through fulfillment services.  There’s a nice section on how to do this, and the trade-offs of distributing through various means.

Fans Friends And Followers is clearly targeted at the struggling artist who has to do as much as possible with very little. If you want to learn how to market your business, there are other books better for that.  Not many of the people in this book are getting rich, but all are getting by and they’re having a wonderful time doing something they love.

Kirsner thinks wealth will be in the picture pretty soon.  “In the near-term, the ‘pots of gold’ will definitely come from people who get signed to make records for big labels or movies for big studios,” he wrote. “But over the longer term, I do think you’ll see people who figure out a mix of projects that…get the best of both worlds.”

Big Companies Warm to Blogs

blogs_by_sectorA new study finds that companies at the top of the Fortune 500 list are more likely to use blogs and other social media than those lower the list.

Researchers found that the top 100 Fortune 500 companies have more corporate blogs than the 300 companies ranked from positions 201-500 combined. Altogether, 16% of the Fortune 500 is blogging, including three of the five top companies.

The research also indicates that corporations are adopting a multi-channel approach to social media. Sixteen percent of the 500 corporate websites researchers analyzed have podcasts and 21% use online video. Of the 81 corporate blogs, 28 link to corporate Twitter accounts.

“It appears that those companies that have made the decision to blog have utilized the tool well,” researchers Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson wrote. “There is frequent posting, on-going discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or subscriptions.” More than 90% of the corporate blogs accept comments.

While Fortune 500 companies continue to tiptoe into the blogosphere, they lag far behind other sectors in their adoption of new tools. Earlier research by Barnes and Mattson found that the Inc. 500 companies are nearly two-and-a-half times as active as the Fortune 500. Nonprofits lead the trend, with 57% of charities using a blog.

Barnes is a Chancellor Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Mattson is the CEO of Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based boutique research firm focusing on technology innovation in finance and banking.

In Defense of Blogging

swiss_army_knifeI had to laugh last week when I heard the keynote speaker at a public relations conference refer to the conventional wisdom that blogs are “so yesterday.” Maybe it’s because I spend two to three hours daily tending to my own blogs and others, or maybe it’s just general frustration with trend-chasing, but blogs are more relevant today than they’ve ever been, and they’re growing more useful as options proliferate.

The blog is the Swiss army knife of social media. Simple to use and easy to update, it accommodates every type of media: words, images, video and sound. Blog entries can be of Twitter-like brevity or can go on for thousands of words. Content can be displayed in a wide variety of formats and designs. Visitors don’t have to register to read.

Blog content is automatically syndicated via RSS feeds, making it simple for the owner to republish information through other outlets. A blog can also act as a catch-basin for the owner’s other social media activities. All of a person’s tweets, Yelps, Flickr PhotoStreams and YouTube creations can be aggregated and displayed in one place.

Content can be automatically reformatted for display on devices ranging from text readers to mobile devices. A countless variety of useful widgets can be added to entertain and inform visitors. Web analytics can show detailed information about where visitors originated, what they read, how long they stayed and where they went next. Blogs can even incorporate order forms. Last but not least, blogs rock on search engine performance.

Not Perfect

It’s true that there are a few things blogs don’t do well. They’re not as quick and easy to update as Twitter or the Facebook status message. And they lack interactivity. While visitors can comment on individual entries, they can’t comment on the overall theme of the blog, and even threaded comment strings can be difficult to follow. There are also limits to what you can do with the simple reverse chronological format, although innovators like Brian Gardner are managing to make WordPress do things I never thought possible.

For businesses, blogs provide a critical element of control. They’re the social media equivalent of speaking to an audience. The author retains control over subject matter, tone and direction while offering interaction around subjects of his or her choosing. Businesses that shrink from the unpredictability of unmediated discussion can take comfort in the fact that blogs give them a healthy dose of control.

For business-to-business applications, blogs are the overwhelming tool of choice. That’s because b-to-b professionals often don’t have the time or patience to fill out profile forms, answer friend requests or join groups. Blogs are simply a fast and easy way to share information with very little overhead.

Blogs are the building block of nearly every form of social media. They are the tool you need to master in order to understand the rich nuances of other media that are available to you.

Viral Marketing at the Marathon

jason_jacobsIf you watch the Boston Marathon next Monday, keep an eye out for Jason Jacobs. He should be pretty easy to spot; he’ll be the one dressed as a giant iPhone.

Jacobs is the founder of FitnessKeeper, Inc. , which sells the RunKeeper iPhone application. RunKeeper uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to track how far and how fast people run, walk, cycle and whatever. They can then share their numbers wit h friends.

The marathon idea came about after a pitch from some students at Emerson College three weeks ago. In Jacobs’ own words, here’s why he’ll be dressed as an iPhone:

With RunKeeper, we have been really big on “humanizing the brand” (check out @runkeeper on Twitter), and what better way to humanize the brand than to have a giant iPhone with RunKeeper on the screen actually running in the marathon?

We partnered with a team of undergrads in a social media class at Emerson College to help us put together a marketing campaign.  They pitched me on the idea with only 3 weeks before the marathon, and I fell in love with it right away.

We jumped into action immediately.  By the next morning, I had a marathon number (VERY hard to do), and we’ve been scrambling ever since to line up tshirt and other vendors, get the costume built, plan all of the race day logistics, build awareness in the community, etc. etc.  And this is all while training for the race (typically an 18-week ordeal) in 3 weeks time.  Even better is that we have been filming the entire process!

The plan is to launch a series of viral videos leading up to and immediately following the race, which document the prep for this campaign from soup-to-nuts, as well as the outcome.  Think Apprentice meets Real World meets Behind-the-Music.

It’s a great idea, although there’s only one video at the moment and it isn’t exactly viral quality. Jacbos is also raising money for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, which is a worthy cause.

I hope this works. It’s gonna be hot in that iPhone suit!

Still Don't Get Twitter? Maybe This Will Help

twitter-logoIt’s okay to admit it.  You’re among friends.  You’ve been on Twitter for a couple of months now and you still can’t figure out what the heck all the fuss is about.  It took me a while to “get” Twitter, too, but now I find it an indispensable part of my toolkit for gathering information and promoting my work.  Here are some things to think about.

The 140-character limit is liberating.  Writing blog entries is a time-consuming task.  I’m not the type who fires off one-sentence posts, so I like to put some thought into what I say on a blog.  In contrast, Twitter’s 140-character limit lends itself well to quick thoughts that I believe are worth sharing with others but that don’t justify a full-blown blog entry.  Very little of what I tweet makes it into my blog and vice versa.

The 140-character limit can also be frustrating. If you have ever engaged in an e-mail exchange using Twitter direct messaging, you know it can be disjointed.  At some point, you need to jump to e-mail.  That said, 140 characters does force you to focus your thoughts and to write succinctly,

Public conversations.  Twitter gives everyone the option of making discussions public.  You can’t do this with e-mail, and it’s difficult to accomplish on a blog.  If you believe that your exchange with others would benefit from public input, or if you just want to expose the discussion to others, you have that option.  You can always take things private via direct messaging if you wish.

Immediacy.  When you just can’t wait for information, Twitter can’t be beat for getting your question to a large group.  It’s impractical to do this with e-mail. People’s inboxes are already cluttered with spam and you have no way of getting your message to people you don’t know.  Also, through “retweeting,” a message can reach a large number of people who aren’t on your follower list.  This brings new perspectives to the conversation and gives you the opportunity to discover people you wouldn’t have otherwise met.

Retweeting. While we’re on the subject, don’t underestimate the power of the retweet.  When someone picks up your message and forwards it to their followers, it magnifies your reach and often recruits new followers in the process.  Sending provocative messages that others retweet is a great way to build your following and your contact list for information-gathering and promotion.

Discovery.  Twitter is the most efficient mechanism I’ve ever seen for discovering interesting information.  I could literally do nothing all day but monitor the “All Friends” feed in TweetDeck and read interesting articles that others recommend. If it weren’t for Twitter, for example, I wouldn’t have known that Travelocity has hotels in Las Vegas for $22 a night.  This discovery process is not unlike scanning the pages of a newspaper, but it’s much faster and more encompassing.  Also, you know that comments and recommendations from certain people will be of particular interest to you, so you have the option of drilling down on individual profiles to see what they’ve been saying recently.  Chaotic?  Sure, but that’s part of the discovery process.

Searchable. If you want to find out what people are saying about you right now, services like Twitscoop and Monitter enable you to instantly track mentions of your company, product, industry or whatever and to save them as RSS feeds for later browsing.  You can do the same with Twitter Search. Google Alerts currently doesn’t index Twitter feeds, but Filtrbox does.

Twitter is a deceptively simple idea with remarkably powerful applications.  People are only beginning to tap into its potential, and I hope visitors to this blog will contribute their own thoughts on what they find most compelling.

Influencer Marketing: Not Your Typical PR

With mainstream media rapidly declining in scope, influence is increasingly being exerted from below by individuals using the power of self-publishing to reach out to their peers.

In recent influencer engagements, we’ve learned a few things about how to work with these new media.  An important point to remember is that they do not behave like reporters.  Journalists are skilled in the “game” that goes on with public relations professionals.   You know: It’s the one in which PR is paid to keep pushing and the journalists is paid to be skeptical.  The two parties engage in this back-and-forth with a wink and a nod, knowing that each has a job to do.

Influencers often don’t work this way.  To them, their online outpost is a display of their passion for the topic that they cover.  They care deeply about the subject matter and they usually know at least as much as the PR person who contacts them.  Often they know quite a bit more.  In some ways, engaging with influencers is like pitching product reviewers.

Know Your Stuff

You’d better come prepared to this engagement, because some influencers will take lack of knowledge on your part as an insult.  This can capsize junior agency people who aren’t prepared for the depth of questions they will get or the scorn they may endure if they can’t answer.  Again, journalists know how the game is played, but influencers are more likely to expect the person on the phone to share their enthusiasm.  I recommend you put experienced people on this job.

Influencers are also likely to have an opinion.  While journalists are expected not to share any biases, bloggers often do what they do precisely because they have opinions to share.  Fortunately, a little advance reading can often clue you in to someone’s agenda and even help you decide if they’re worth contacting all.  You don’t want to come in with a strong Windows pitch, for example, to a blogger who’s passionate about the Mac.  You also don’t want to be blindsided by someone who has made his or her opinions clear and who is offended by the fact that you don’t know them.  Again, 15 to 20 minutes of reading can save you a lot of aggravation.

Finally, influencers are more likely to want to get their hands on the product or to talk in depth with the people who develop it.  Unlike journalists, they’re probably not interested in analyst quotes or customer case studies.  It’s more likely they’ll want to talk to the VP of engineering or the CEO than to the head of marketing.  Before you start an influencers program, be sure that you have these people on board.

Their time will be well spent.  The right influencers have as much credibility in their community as product reviewers or analysts.  They usually have extensive networks of online and real-world contacts and they’re likely to have experience with not only the your products but those of your competitors.  Engage in a conversation.  You might learn something from them.

Recommended Reading 3/30/09

At its essence, Twitter is nothing more than an RSS feed. The tools are what make it so valuable. Online Best Colleges has come up with this great list of 100 Twitter tools that do everything from identify people you haven’t tweeted in a long time to figure out how much time you waste on Twitter. And you can waste a LOT of time on Twitter!

Nielsen: Social Networking Overtakes E-mail in Popularity

Active reach in what Nielsen defines as “member communities” now exceeds e-mail participation by 67 percent to 65 percent. What’s more, the reach of social networking and blogging venues is growing at twice the rate of other large drivers of Internet use such as portals, e-mail and search.

A statistical analysis of social network users that is totally made up but bitingly accurate, at least in the satirical sense 🙂

Six ways to make Web 2.0 work – The McKinsey Quarterly

McKinsey looks at the characteristics of organizations that have successfully leveraged Web 2.0 technologies. Quoting:

  • To date, as many survey respondents are dissatisfied with their use of Web 2.0 technologies as are satisfied. Participatory technologies should include auditing functions, similar to those for e-mail, that track all contributions and their authors. Ultimately, however, companies must recognize that successful participation means engaging in authentic conversations with participants.
  • We have found that, unless a number of success factors are present, Web 2.0 efforts often fail to launch or to reach expected heights of usage. Executives who are suspicious or uncomfortable with perceived changes or risks often call off these efforts.
  • What distinguishes them from previous technologies is the high degree of participation they require to be effective.
  • While they are inherently disruptive and often challenge an organization and its culture, they are not technically complex to implement. Rather, they are a relatively lightweight overlay to the existing infrastructure and do not necessarily require complex technology integration.
  • Since we first polled global executives two years ago, the adoption of these tools has continued. Spending on them is now a relatively modest $1 billion, but the level of investment is expected to grow by more than 15 percent annually over the next five years, despite the current recession.
  • The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.
  • Successful participation, however, requires not only grassroots activity but also a different leadership approach: senior executives often become role models and lead through informal channels.
  • Efforts go awry when organizations try to dictate their preferred uses of the technologies—a strategy that fits applications designed specifically to improve the performance of known processes—rather than observing what works and then scaling it up
  • [Success requires] a more effective play to the Web’s ethos and the participants’ desire for recognition: bolstering the reputation of participants in relevant communities, rewarding enthusiasm, or acknowledging the quality and usefulness of contributions.
  • Numerous executives we interviewed said that participatory initiatives had been stalled by legal and HR concerns. These risks differ markedly from those of previous technology adoptions, where the chief downside was high costs and poor execution

Self-publishing today is inexpensive and relatively easy. For authors who don’t want to put up with the run-around of finding increasingly skittish professional publishers, it can be a fast way to build a personal brand and actually make decent money.

Social Networks Drive Video Views

The most common way that viewers find videos is direct navigation to a video site. About 45% of all video views were from by consumers who started at YouTube. A survey by TubeMogul found that social networks have a bigger influence on video usage than search engines, accounting for about 80% of all visitors.

Twitter User Base Continues To Grow

According to Pew Research, 27% of bloggers use Twitter and 11% of Web-equipped US adults have used a microblog service. That second figure has nearly doubled in the past year. There is a high correlation between Twitter use and use of other Internet technologies. The median age of a Twitter user is 31. By comparison, the median age of a MySpace user is 27, while Facebook users median at 26 and LinkedIn users at 40.

The Case For Influencer Marketing

I’ve recently worked with several clients on influencer marketing campaigns. These are proving to be popular new complements to traditional PR programs that approach media relations from a completely different perspective. Influencer relations is gaining popularity as the media landscape shifts and domain experts gain prominence.

The media industry is slashing and burning its way through a wrenching transition. There have been more than 5,300 layoffs in the US newspaper industry just this year, and three major dailies with a combined total of more than 400 years of continuous publishing, have closed in just last month.

The situation is just as bad in b-to-b publishing, where more than 275 business magazines have closed since the beginning of 2007, according to BtoB magazine.

Shifting Influence

With mainstream media dwindling at the same time the number citizen publishers is rising, it’s not surprising that individual influencers are becoming a promising target. Even professional editors and reporters are increasingly turning their attention to the blogosphere and Twittersphere as a source of expertise and even news. The first place a reporter goes when looking for sources these days is Google. As a result, popular bloggers are suddenly inundated with media inquiries. This is an opportunity for marketers. Some publications are going even recruiting bloggers to contribute to their branded sites. These financially driven actions are having the effect of amplifying the volume of individual voices.

An influencer relations program seeks to strike up conversations with these domain experts on the assumption that their opinions are reaching increasingly large audiences, both through their own websites and the amplifiers I just described.. This is quite different from a conventional PR campaign, which starts with analysts and journalists on the theory that they are the influencers. We are beginning to rethink this dynamic. Conventional PR will be harder to do in the future as the ranks of staff journalists shrink and the shrinking number who are left struggle with an overwhelming volume of PR pitches.

In contrast, most bloggers get very few inquiries from marketers, and are more likely to spend time listening to what they have to say. This is a pretty appealing option for marketers who are frustrated with being one of the 300 or 400 daily inquiries an already seriously overworked reporter gets.

The Human Touch

So how do you find influencers? There are a number of commercial services that attempt to perform the task programmatically, but my experience has been that they only get you halfway there. It’s not difficult to find someone who writes, podcasts, or tweets about a topic, but assessing that person’s biases and style is an entirely different issue.

For example, in a recent project for a company with a novel approach to weight loss therapy, we discovered that the topic was more controversial than we thought. Some people have very strong opinions about the subject, and pitching the client’s novel approach to them would have been the equivalent of sticking your hand into a beehive.

You also can’t assume that domain experts necessarily want to talk about their domain of expertise. In a recent engagement that looked for pharmaceutical researchers, we found that people with Ph.D.s in that area blog about everything from cooking to environmentalism. In fact, only a minority paid much attention to pharmaceuticals at all.

At this point, there’s no way to ascertain the agenda, biases or voice of influencers without digging in and reading what they have to say. If you don’t do that critical homework, you risk alienating the very people you’re trying to reach. Bloggers expect you to know something about them. Unlike the mainstream media, they don’t understand how the pitch game is played. They know a lot about their subjects and they tend to regard clueless come-ons with disdain.

For now, there’s no substitute for the human touch when it comes to influencer relations campaigns.

Recommended Reading, 3/12/09

As The Economy Sours, LinkedIn’s Popularity Grows

Larry Weber’s coming out with a new edition of his book Marketing to the Social Web. The first edition was one of the most intelligent and practical guides to new-media marketing I have read. I have no doubts “The Provocateur” will continue to provoke in this new book.

If the seamy underside is your thing, then this list of Internet misdeeds is an interesting read. Not everything here is actually a crime, but the list of scams, identity thefts and stalkings will make you think twice about how much information you reveal on your profile.

Tamar Weinberg has her annual round-up of the best of 2008 and it’s just as impressive in quality and scope as her epic list from 2007. You can spend hours reading the resources referenced here. Fortunately, Tamar has already done that for you. Her advice will point you to the information that’s most relevant to your needs.

And be careful what you tweet! An employee of the Ketchum PR agency got into trouble with a VERY big client over an offhanded tweet that criticized the client’s home city. Here’s why you need to think carefully about what you say online, for once it’s on the Internet, it lives forever. Also, your personal and professional personas may be linked for some time to come.

“A new study finds blogging to be the most important lead-generation source among social media options, followed by StumbleUpon, YouTube, Facebook, De.lic.ious and Digg.” This HubSpot survey of 167 executives and business owners found that the relatively prosaic blog is in fact a key element in company communications, in part because blogs perform so well on search engines. The findings differ with recent Forrester Research data that indicates that blogs have low credibility. HubSpot attributed the disparity to its survey’s large representation of small businesses, which tend to have more credible blogs.

name_tagHoly crap. This guy has made a career out of wearing a name tag. What does this say about our culture?

The New York Times‘ David Pogue catches Carbonite in the act of “astroturfing,” or posting phony reviews of its own products. The CEO apologized and said he was unaware of the campaign. But Pogue tracks down blog entries to the contrary. Astroturfing is something you should never do. It’s too easy for someone to spot a trend and create a public embarrassment.

Mars Deserves Praise for Innovative Skittles Initiative

SkittlesEarly this week, candy maker Skittles rocked the media by giving over its entire home page to a list of Twitter postings labeled with the #skittles hash tag. The experiment initially provoked excitement, then doubt and finally alarm as pranksters used the opportunity to post all manner of negative and even obscene comments that had very little to do with the fruit candy.

As the volume of trash talk swelled, Mars Snackfood US pulled down the Twitter search page and replaced it with a Facebook profile. Today the site features a Wikipedia entry. Skittles’ branding consists of an overlay window that links to various references to the product in social media outposts. Basically, Mars reconfigured the brand’s website as a package of consumer-generated content.

A lot of people are trashing Mars for this bold experiment. “Disastrous” says Apryl Duncan on “Gimmicky” says VentureBeat. “Humiliating disaster” says SmartCompany. While some people are praising Mars for originality, the early consensus is that this campaign is not a good idea for the Skittles brand.

Bold Move


More skittles

I beg to differ. While Mars certainly could have better anticipated the frat-boy efforts to undermine the program, the Skittles experiment is a bold statement about where the company is taking its marketing tactics. Full disclosure: I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the Mars marketers on a paid basis over the past year. Unlike many other corporations I’ve encountered, these people get it. Sure, they’re still feeling their way through the process of working with uncensored customer conversations, but they’re on the right track and they’re taking the right risks.


In January, Mars held a day-long offsite meeting with more than 100 of its global marketers to talk about word-of-mouth marketing. I was there, along with many of the company’s agency and branding partners. I was impressed with the commitment the company is making to understanding and working with social media. While many of their peers still regard online forums with a mixture of suspicion and disgust, the Mars marketers see it as an opportunity. They’re also fully aware of the risks. One breakout session at the meeting was devoted almost entirely to an analysis of Johnson & Johnson’s Motrin Moms fiasco.

Still more SkittlesThere’s no question Mars could have thought through this experiment somewhat better. Twitter was a bad place to start and under the circumstances, some filtering would have been appropriate. However, the whole concept of giving over the Skittles Web presence to customer conversations is daring and innovative. It’s unfortunate that some of the same people who trash brands for not being more hip to social media are now trashing Mars for almost being too hip.

Proof in the Pudding

Also, look at the coverage this story has generated: The Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Fast Company, CNET and the list goes on and on. If you believe Oscar Wilde’s theory that “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” then this campaign is a hit. If Skittles sales don’t jump 15% in the next month, I’ll eat a bag of the candy, including the bag.

Chevy TahoeExperimentation is central to new media marketing and negative reactions to bold ideas are nothing to be feared. Nearly three years ago, General Motors invited visitors to stitch together their own video ads for the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. About 15% of the videos people created were negative, prompting critics to call the campaign a disaster. But inside General Motors the project was considered an unqualified success. The Tahoe hit 30% market share shortly after the Web promotion began, outpacing its closest competitor two to one.

The Skittles campaign is outside-the-box thinking. Despite its shortcomings, it deserves praise.