Manufacturing a ST★R

A somewhat cynical analysis of our emerging young stars:


How music labels manufacture a ST★R.

Follow these six simple steps:

  1. Find a confident sixteen y.o. boy.
  2. Give them this hair-cut.
  3. Write a catchy pop tune for them to sing thousands of times.
  4. Market the shit out of them to ten-sixteen y.o. girls.
  5. Sell a but-load of merchandise (since no-one pays for music any more).
  6. Count your cash.
Don’t forget to drop them when the cash trail runs dry. They’ll eventually be forgotten and join the halls of one-hit-wonders.
It worked for these once-stars (remember them?):
Zac Efron (formerly associated with the Walt Disney Company)
And more recently, introducing:
But hey, I’m sure it’s good while it lasts. I expect it pays very well, in fact probably more than anyone I know will ever earn!



Update: I had to alter some of the text in this post as it was giving me SEO ranks for unwanted keywords…

Update 2: For a much more insightful analysis of why Justin Bieber has been successful check out Why you need to be following Justin Bieber by Julian Cole.

Why Facebook opts for “like”, drops “become a fan” terminology

If you’re a regular Facebook user, you’d have probably noticed that Facebook recently trashed it’s “become a fan” language and opted for a more generic “like” feature for it’s branded pages.

In a way, this seems a more intuitive way of connecting to brands you “like” not necessarily a “fan” of. Becoming a fan does seem to imply an intimate connection with the brand which requires more user commitment. This is detrimental to marketing a brand, since users that brands wish to be influencing and converting need to be engaged before “becoming a fan” to begin with. Facebook’s decision to transition this language to “like” a brand attempts to fix this problem.

Here’s the document explaining the change:

But, is that the real reason Facebook has made the decision? I argue not!
Facebook says that users click the “like” button almost twice as much as they click the “become a fan” button. In real terms, Facebook is trying to boost the number of connections users have to brands.

What’s the reason for this? Revenue!
Most Facebook pages gain their user connections through Facebook advertising. So essentially, Facebook is endeavouring to double their revenue from brand advertisements with a simple terminology tweak.

They claim that liking a brand is a much more natural option that will streamline the site, but as Julian Cole contends on his Adspace Pioneers blog, it may actually create more confusion as to which Facebook adverts are for Facebook branded pages, and which are for external websites.

What do you think? Do you “like” Facebook’s new terminology?

When Advertising Fails – Part 3

In a recent developer conference, Apple previewed it’s new iPhone OS 4 (some really cool stuff coming, definitely worth checking out). At this event, they announced that there are now over 185,000 Apps available on the App Store for iPhone and iPod touch, including an additional 3,500 iPad Apps. This event took place on April 8, 2010.

Yesterday (April 22, 2010) I caught a glance of a Telstra brochure which was an insert to yesterday’s Herald Sun. On the back page was an advertisement for iPhone. As always, it was well designed and visually stunning, however it was vastly incorrect on a major detail – the number of Apps:

Sorry Telstra, but your lack of attention to detail has landed you this edition of the When Advertising Fails series.

As a side note, the App Store has had in excess of 100,000 Apps for almost six months. It was originally announced in an Apple press release on November 4, 2009!

Advertisement Effectiveness: 5/10 (for lack of attention to detail)

When Advertising Succeeds – Part 1

As a contrary to the When Advertising Fails series I’ve begun, I’m also going to make comment on advertising success stories in a series entitled When Advertising Prevails.

The first is an advertisement by McDonald’s from the Melbourne Herald Sunon Sunday, April 4, 2010 (Easter Sunday). This was the first day of the end of Eastern Standard Daylight Savings Time.

I thought this ad was quite clever and a nice play on current events. At least they’re keeping their advertisements fresh and new.

A much more successful ad than the Labour Day ad produced earlier in March this year by the TAC.

Advertisement Effectiveness: 7/10 (for originality, simplicity & intriguingness [if that’s a word?])

When Advertising Fails – Part 2

The second instalment to the When Advertising Fails series is somewhat shocking to me considering the organisation who produced it.

The newspaper print ad was taken from the Melbourne Herald Sun on Labour Day this year (Monday, March 8, 2010) and features an awareness campaign about driver fatigue. It was produced by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and what disappointed me specifically was that TAC campaigns are usually very hard-hitting, emotive and effective. They’ve dropped the ball on this one.

Fatigue may kill on the roads, but a bland advertisement definitely fatigues your brand.

Advertisement Effectiveness: 2/10 (for lack of impact)

Wolfram|Alpha finds the answer

Wolfram|Alpha is a mathematical computational knowledge engine. Instead of searching the web and returning links like a conventional search engine, it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base and publicly available data then expresses it in a structured and intuitive manner. It really is quite amazing. Make sure you check out the introductory video, it’s something you do not want to miss!

Back in 2009, Wolfram tested their mobile optimised website as a trial for their iPhone App. Upon the release of the iPhone App shortly thereafter, they pulled the mobile website from free use and were controversially charging in excess of $50 for the Wolfram|Alpha iPhone App! This staggering price was clearly not a successful strategy and failed dismally.

However, over the past few days Wolfram has re-evaluated their strategy and decided to drop the price of their iPhone App. The price drop comes as Wolfram release their new iPad formatted App which comes at the same low price. Also, the mobile website is back!

The announcement comes as Wolfram is uncharacteristically offering to refund the cost of the App to customers who are unhappy with their original purchase. It’s not unusual for companies to amend their pricing strategies, however it is odd for one to offer refunds to customers who paid the high release price. Visit to claim the refund.

Commentary: Kudos to Wolfram for acknowledging their fault and fixing the problem. This is a great way to rebuild broken customer relationships, and gain new ones (I bought the discounted App!). Toyota could take a leaf out of the Wolfram|Alpha book next time to avoid their PR nightmare!

Check out Wolfram|Alpha at or try the search box below: