Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

I received this email from a good friend of mine speaking about his Air Miles account. I thought it was an story worth sharing as many of us today like to get points or rewards for our spending, but apparently things are so well in that world they are not really interested in reaching out to connect with thier conmsumer. Yes, the electronic world will work for many, but in this example we obviously have someone who would appreciated someone picking up the phone and asking a couple simple questions….

Hey Pete, I thought since I enjoy reading your blogs I would share something that pissed me off as poor customer service experience that may interest you.  Read the note below I received from Air Miles.  They want to cancel my AM card because I haven’t used it in 24 months….when I used to be a regular user.  I LOST MY CARD…..and as you can appreciate didn’t carve out the time to replace it so activity on the card stopped.  Good Idea AM…..he used to use it regularly, suddenly stopped using it:  Don’t ask why, just cancel it. 

  Dear xxxxxx,

An important notice about your AIR MILES® account.

According to our records, there has been no activity on your AIR MILES

account for more than 24 months. Please note that you need to reactivate

your account by December 31, 2010, or it will be closed.

It’s now easier than ever to enjoy the benefits of the AIR MILES Reward 

Program. To keep your account active, simply complete at least 1 of 

the 4 actions listed below before December 31:

  1. Earn an AIR MILES reward mile at participating Sponsors.
  2. Redeem for a reward.
  3. Donate reward miles to charity.
  4. New! Transfer reward miles for 15¢ per reward mile.

For more information including terms and conditions of the AIR MILES

Reward Program, visit or call 1-888-AIR-MILES (1-888-247-6453).

Thank you,
AIR MILES Reward Program

Note: This is the email address provided on this account. If you think you

have received this email in error, please contact Customer Care.

Here is the problem I have:

  1. I like what the program offers and supported it by going to their vendors and still do because of the habits that card made me form.
  2. These vendors paid their $0.29 per mile or whatever it is and now AM is just going to pocket my 5000 miles, if I don’t activate the card.
  3. This email makes me want to go to non air miles vendors and makes me want to leave the program in general.

 I just thought they could have looked at my activity which was 5-10 transactions a month and decided that I must have lost my card.  Why else would normal patterned activity stop?  How would the vendors feel about this messaging given that they paid for all the miles in my account and AM is presumably going to pocket these $ and do nothing to rejuvenate my participation in the program.

 On a side note I believe that there is now federal regulation around gift cards and not allowing them to expire because a consumer paid money and deserves to get the service.  Often they are given as gifts so it protects the gift giver and the person who receives the gift.  How would this be any different? These vendors gave me a gift and AM is telling me they may not fulfill it even though the vendor paid.

Thanks for sharing SD!


American Eagle – The power of social media

 As you know by now I have been volunteering my time for a Movement by the name of MOvember for some time now. The charity is focussed on finding a cure for prostate cancer and changing the face of men’s health.  This Blog involves MOvember, but also involves a large US retailer who did the right thing once an issue was brought to their attention through social media.

 Last year the MOvember campaign had been using a cool promotional t-shirt to raise awareness of the MO and their MOvement. As they moved into 2010 they had just finished printing off a new colour version of the same t-shirt when someone forwarded an almost identical t-shirt that was being offered for sale by American Eagle. Wow, numerous people had looked at the t-shirts and everyone felt that it was just too close to be a coincidence.  So what happened next?

 Well, MoBros and Sistas began to get at it. They began to tweet, they began to Facebook and they began to raise the awareness of this situation to those who were listening…and to American Eagle. A Facebook page was started up which eventually had 53 comments in 24 hours about the situation and numerous tweets were made about the topic on Twitter. Most of the comments on both social media sites focussed on the large retailer potentially copying a charity t-shirt and asking for a response, explanation and some type of adjustment to their plan. A couple of the comments appeared to come from PR professionals who encouraged American Eagle to do the right thing or the negative consumer message could do the brand damage it quick order.

 Well, I am happy to report that things worked out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. American Eagle contacted MOvember and apologised for any unintended similarities and at the same time offered a $5,000 donation and committed to running a MO MOvement in their own office for this year’s campaign.

 What a great response by American Eagle. Not only did they deal with the original issue, but they actually took it to the next level and offered their personal support for the Movement. Taken to the next level, I am now spreading the word about their positive efforts and will make every effort to visit one of their stores as a sign of support for a company that made the right decision. Like your style American Eagle.

 What a great example of the power of social media, both positive and negative, when put to causes that are relevant to the consumer. People ARE  listening and unlike the old Pert commercials which boasted “if you tell 2 people and so on…”, today you can multiply that by a thousand and your numbers are probably closer.


Subway – Free Breakfast

 Just saw an ad for a free breakfast at Subway on August 17th (this was written back then). Did not know that they did breakfast and since I am currently working from my home office, I am not on the 9am shuffle to the office and not in need of breakfast on the fly. That said, I loved the concept and the execution. First off, it was simple. They did not try to sell subs or anything else in their consumer offering, just breakfast…and free! Putting their product up against all other breakfast competitors (and we know there are a lot of big players in the breakfast game) shows me that they have confidence in thier brand and product. Spending money to communicate the sampling program demonstrates the understanding that a great product with a good experience can then be supported with communication to drive traffic. If you knew it wasn’t  good you would just be driving people in to try it who would realize that the competitor is better. In this case they should benefit from the promotion and from the run off effect of people, like me, who did not even know that Subway was in the breakfast game.  Well done Subway. When I am next in search of breakfast on the run I will try you out and I hope other consumers took advantage of your offer on the 17th.


Communicate…with passion!

Recently I told you about my visit to Starbucks where I ran into everyone’s favourite Raptor broadcaster, Matt Devlin. Shortly after I picked up my Grande Mild, had a quick chat with Matt and grabbed my $60 parking ticket (still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it!), I jumped back in the car and headed off for my next job. As I was driving along I heard a live radio ad for some product (not a surprise that I cannot remember who it is) which was done by a guy who obviously could not care less about the product he was pitching, would never use the product and frankly just didn’t understand that his job was to help sell product.

The opposite example of this relates to Matt and his good friend Jack Armstrong that do the play by play and colour commentary on Raptor broadcasts respectively. Anyone reading this Blog that is a beer or basketball fan likely knows where I am headed with this, but for those of you who don’t, I wanted to highlight the Miller Genuine Draft Smooth Play of the Game. Let’s just say that I have a good sense what this particular in game feature costs, but in comparison to other communications which count on the personalities of celebrities of all varieties and statures to do the communication, MGD is getting full value for their dollars (they should even pay a bonus to Matt and Jack for their enthusiasm). The way in which Matt and Jack pass the feature back and forth after Jack introduces it with his trademark “It’s time….for the MGD Smooooooooooooth Play of the Game” is priceless! I don’t think I have ever been in a room when people don’t immediately get a grin on their face and turn to see the play. Recently they also tried “Nothing To Hide Moments” which complimented the in game broadcast, but it will take both Matt and Jack time to play with the concept before they feel as comfortable with it as they did with the Smooth Play of the Game. That all said, the value in this feature certainly comes from the idea, but the aspect that gains consumer awareness and loyalty is that you actually believe that Matt and Jack drink the stuff (I hear that they might enjoy a beverage occasionally)! I want to believe that once the game is over they head to the Platinum Club or Lord Stanley’s to have another MGD. Who wouldn’t?

A few other great examples in this city are John Oakley on Talk 640 and Bill Carroll on CFRB. Whether you are looking to buy suits at Tom’s Place, eating at The Palace in Greek town,  getting some home renovations done by the Home Improvement People or buying jewellery from Omni Jewel Crafters, all of these businesses get great value from the their stations and from the personalities mentioned. To be clear, I don’t think you need to be a “celebrity” to make a difference and I don’t think you have to be a veteran of the business to “get it”. Whether you are a weather man, traffic, business or whatever, if you are being paid to engage then do it. If you don’t believe in the spot or product then turn down the offer to do the ad. The company would be better off just doing a traditional spot with an engaging message (which in itself is tough to do these days). Consumers are too savvy today to accept anything less. They too will reject the product if the effort is not there.

Let me know if you have any other examples of great local personalities that endorse products in the local media of Toronto or elsewhere. I would like to see what else I am missing out there and we might be able to help companies choose the personalities and media outlets that make a difference.