Tenn Talk

Marketing, Medicine and Dad - This side of the Mississippi.

Location: Tennessee

27 August 2004

A $54 Million Marketing Snafu

First you have to understand that AT&T (generic) and AT&T Wireless are two separate companies. That's where the clarity ends. Now for the devilish details.

AT&T (generic) is currently running a massive TV campaign during the Olympics to promote their services to consumers. Unfortunately, they recently announced that they were getting out of the consumer end and would be targeting business customers only.

AT&T Wireless is running ads in Olympic programming touting the quality of their service, while they are being soundly rejected by hundreds of thousands of customers due to the terrible service their network offers. In addition, AT&T Wireless has recently been acquired and will begin operating under the Cingular name. So AT&T (generic) will get to use the AT&T name on all their wireless service. So, in effect, AT&T Wireless' advertising campaign has been helping a potential rival, AT&T (generic). Still with me?

This marketing nightmare began when both AT&T's committed to Olympic TV schedules 2 years ago. When their business plans changed, their marketing did not. Between them, they committed to - and spent - $54 million on advertising during the 2 weeks of the Olympics. The marketing people must be tearing their hair out. Not to mention the investors.

No one asked me, but I'd have suggested that they run public service spots in those time slots. Boys & Girls Clubs - brought to you by. . . Wearing a good-guy hat looks a lot better than sporting a stupid one.

20 August 2004

VOIP - Pronounce it? Want it? Get used to it!

VOIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol is new to the Internet and already there's a price war going on. Depending on which company you choose, you can have unlimited local and long distance phone calls for $20 to $30 per month, via the Internet. You can pick your area code, keep your existing phone number, call Western Europe as a local call, and do it all with your existing telephone number and a computer - and save one to two thirds off your current phone bill.

And it's cheap for the companies that run the Internet phone systems, too. AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Quest, Cablevision, Vonage (the pioneer in Internet calling) and newcomers like Lingo, are all aggressively jumping in to serve this rapidly growing audience. According to a recent WSJ article, the only thing stopping the consumer is the unfamiliarity of the process.

But it's amazingly simple. All you need: a high speed Internet connection (cable or DSL) and an adapter that plugs into your computer modem. Your computer routes the call over the Internet. Phone calls will travel the Internet along side normal Internet traffic, raising concerns about the quality and security of the conversation. But the savings can be significant for those with high speed connections from a cable company as they may eventually disconnect their phone line completely. Those with DSL cannot do without their traditional phone line, but still enjoy considerable savings on phone charges.

VOIP - it's not just for geeks anymore. I just wish someone would tell me how to pronounce it.

17 August 2004

Cool Tools

If the thought of a cordless, mini-soldering iron makes your heart race - this site is for you. It runs on ordinary lighter butane and fits in your toolbox. How about transparent duct tape, or a tapeless measuring tape that uses ultrasonice waves instead of a second person to hold the dumb-end of the tape.

Kevin Kelly -- co-founder of Wired and former editor and publisher of Whole Earth Review -- welcomes submissions and nominations for cool tools in a variety of categories from health and media to computers and gardening.

Readers' advice, photographs, links to stores, manufacturer's specs and prices will all have you scrolling and clicking and compiling a Christmas Wish List far earlier than you thought possible.

08 August 2004

East Tennessee in the News

It's been a long hot summer. And East Tennessee has made it to the National's in the News Department.

First there was the birthday guy who broke into the little league field snack stand down in Blount County. He'd covered his body with nachos and cheese before he was arrested by some real sharp sheriff's deputies.

Over in Hawkins County it was the deputies who were absent as several inmates made a break for it. Well, actually they walked out the unlocked back door of the jail. They didn't go far. Just over to the convenience store where they bought a couple of 6-packs and went back to their cell. It was after the second beer run that they got caught. The cell block party got a little loud and the deputies finally got a little wise.

Meanwhile up in Grainger County they broke out of the jail to protest yet another dinner of macaroni and cheese and turnip greens.

Like I said, a real long - sloooow -- summer.

04 August 2004

At the Library - Name That Book!

There's a contest among the staff at the library to name their newly compiled Staff Cookbook.

Among the entries:


The Well-Fed Librarian: Best-Loved Recipes from the Stacks

With over 350 recipes, it's clear these people love to cook. And it's almost frightening to see how many of the recipes center on chocolate. . . in almost every category! And sometimes 3 kinds of chocolate. That is, when they're not also adding pecans and peanut butter.

01 August 2004

Best Seller

The 9/11 Commission Report is a must-read. If the US Gov site is too crammed with requests -- try this one -- Just click on "Best Seller" shown above. Thanks to Dr. Pollard at UT School of Info Science who has posted a full copy on his web site.

It may take a while to download as it's over 7 megs. But worth every byte. I haven't printed it out, just reading through it on the computer. And what a story!

It is SO well-written, I checked to see if they gave the writer a credit (they didn't). The first chapter, detailing the minute-by-minute flight of the 4 hijacked planes, reads like a Tom Clancy novel. The organization and clarity of this report are unusual for a government report. I wish more organizations (and corporations) wrote like this.

If you can, split the screen and read the footnotes along with the copy. The annotated footnotes are compelling, add details and offer a glimpse at the depth of the investigation.

No wonder it's a best seller. As of last week, 350,000 copies sold out. And they're in the second printing. My only question - how did the book get into print so quickly? Bookstores were offering paperback copies at $10 each the day AFTER the report was released.

And am I the ONLY one who saw the film clip of the President tossing his copy of the report into the bushes?

This report is generating a lot of interest from the public. Might as well get your copy now - one way or the other.