Monetizing the Point of Sweat

I went on a nice little bike ride this weekend.  It was memorable, because it was my first with a road bike. You know, the ones with the thin tires, and the potentiaal to cost many thousands?  I rented a Felt Z85, and was pretty happy with it. I took my iPhone along for the ride.

I mapped my ride with the MapMyRide iPhone app.  After the ride, something crazy happened - I became a marketing opportunity. Hey, I just wanted to map my bike run! A women's antiperspirant had other ideas! 

Interesting- why in the lord's name would I tweet their hastag?  I'm dripping with sweat!  My legs are shaking!  I am a man, BTW, and I have never heard of your product!

I tapped "Close" on the ad  - and started looing at some of the details. I tapped "Route Details" and up came another ad.  Well, at least this one was for men...


As an athlete, I would never have wanted to see these ads. What could they be offering? However, being in marketing, I am accustomed to trying to find out. As my wife set about cleaning her bike, I lingered on the driveway, still dripping in sweat from an agonizing final climb. I tapped the Gilette ad.

Interesting. I signed up for a half marathon Training program...we'll see how they take it from there. Nice setting of my expectations on when the plan will arrive.

As an athlete, I can't think of anything I wanted less than those ads. The targeting for the first ad was hopelessly off, the second execution mystified me because I had to interact with what looked like an ad in order to egt what I want: content.

 The utility and content of MMF is what keeps people engaged - but what happens when all you see is ads?  When monetizing the "point of sweat" - content goes further than interruption.

Burritos, and Guacamole, and Bikram- O MY!

Foursquare has a new video on their logged out Homepage which I have embedded below (HT AboutFoursquare). The video promises that you can find great burrito places to enjoy with friends, and  "Don't forget to work off that burrito by doing an hour of bikram yoga next door."

Challenge: think of something more gross than eating a big guac-filled burrito and then doing bikram yoga.  I did a little research on the subject and even Hot Yoga of Delaware specifically recommends against:

we recommend that you do not eat a big burrito right before class. In fact, you’ll probably be better off with no large meals for 2-3 hours prior to practice.

Here's the video:

Are there, perhaps, other recommendations that would be better?  How about a great boot camp class in the park and a post-workout smoothie? 

Hi! I want to learn more about foursquare! from foursquare on Vimeo.


Join the Fight to End Breast Cancer

I'm reposting a note my sister sent out about our Mother - we're running the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in honor of our mother's successful fight against cancer.    You can donate to our effort using this link or follow the offline instructions Miriam lists below.

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope this note finds you well.

I'm writing because I'd like you to join me in celebration! This week our mom Deborah received news of yet another cancer free screening! I remember the day in March of 2008 when she shared with us that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted to fight it! Now that she is cancer free I want to make sure that others can achieve a similar winning outcome. 

On Sunday September 12th we'll be running in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Central Park. It's a 5K race to raise money in the fight against breast cancer. 

Our team, "Team Bust a Move" has a fund-raising goal of $2000 this year.  Please help me reach that goal with your financial support.  Online donations are simple, and the site is secure.  Please go to my fundraising page and make a tax-deductible donation online a t -- click on "Sponsor a Race Participant" and search for my name.

If you prefer, mail your donation today to:

Komen Greater NYC  Race for the Cure
P.O. Box 9223, GPO
New York, NY 10087-9223

Please make your check payable to: Susan G. Komen for the Cure and add my name in the memo so that I will be credited for your donation.

Thank you in advance for your support. It means so much to us!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year,

Miriam and Jake Williams, Ben Bloom, and Rachel Rothman

Learning about apologies from Clif Bar & Company

If anyone wonders about the relationship between PR and marketing: how many of your customers will take the time to write a blog post acknowledging your greatness?  Are you working as hard as you can to make sure your customers Keep on Loving You?  Clif Bar & Company is. Sometimes your company, or your agency, will make a mistake.  How you handle that situation is a crucial part of marketing at any level.   My quick lessons:

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Acknowledge responsibility while pledging to fix the issue.
  3. Create a reason to come back.

Clifbar_logoI purchased a box of Clif Bars on January 28, only to learn on February 6 that my Chocolate Peanut Crunch bars were being voluntarily recalled by Clif Bar & Company as part of this peanut business.   While there was no evidence that the product was affected, the company decided to recall the product.  I was a little annoyed that I would be throwing away food, but I went to the Clif web site and requested a refund.  I received a very nice email in return, which included this letter from Gary and Kit, which was nice but every bit expected.

I'm just going to retype the note I received in the mail from Clif Bar and Company, along with 12 coupons for single free Clif or Luna bars.

We want to personally apologize for any inconvenience out voluntary recall may have caused you or your family.

As a food company, we make consumer health and safety our top priority.  It was out of a great deal of caution and concern that we issues the voluntary recall something we've never had to do in 16 years of business.

We appreciate the effort you have made in contacting us about this situation.  Though coupons won't buy back the time or energy you may have spent dealing with this situation, we hope that they will at least minimize the expense.  As you shop, please know that 91 Clif Bar and Company products are currently available for your enjoyment and are not impacted by the recall. 

Gary and Kit

My emphasis in bold on the part I liked the best about this note-I wish my 401(k) provider was as generous. I found this note a delight to open up and read.  I'll be buying Clif Bars in the future.  I'd give them 'kudos" but don't want to encourage the competition :)

I enjoyed the Clif Bar web site as well- not sure I need to review it but I encourage you to check it out at

Food Brand Site Done Right: Kashi

In the wake of the Skittles dustup, what can a food brand do?  I wanted to comment on Charlie's post, but I decided yesterday that I didn't have anything to add- Charlie said it right. I  knew that I didn't really like the site, thought it was derivative of Modernista's home page...but what was Skittles  supposed to do?  What can the web do for food brands until mind control beams?


After seeing a Kashi ad on TV, enticing me to visit their web site and get a free frozen entree, I said, let's just see about this. Conclusion: Kashi did something very cool. 

As background: I love Kashi.  I didn't always.  Kashi used to be these crazy rice puffs my friend Matt would eat, and I wasn't really up for that.  After I started trying to eat better about 18 months ago, I discovered Kashi frozen entrees, and shortly thereafter the GoLean cereal.   In my apartment right now I have Kashi GoLean cereal on the shelf and a Southwest Chicken frozen entree in the freezer.  I am a loyal consumer.  I tell people about Kashi products.  A lot.  The products work in my lifestyle: whole grains, protein, and trying to avoid artificial sugars.  But not everyone is as vigilant as I am :)

Now, as a comparison, it might not be fair to suggest that Skittles can claim any kind of identification with me, because hey, when was the last time I bought candy?  OK.  However, what Kashi executes is something that is relevant, connects you to the core of the company, and gave me something in return. Here's the Black Bean Mango Frozen Entree.


See the additional contest on the right?  You better believe I want a year's supply of Kashi food! 

I decided to join their community, which actually has some very interesting things about reaching goals, whatever they might be, in wellness and mind/soul health, not just nutrition.  How about: Challenge yourself to sanitize your sponges?  I think this site does great things for the brand.  Is it personable?  You bet.  Here's the Kashi Customer Relations staffer's profile:

KashiCommunityManager Anjanette  

If you're wondering what at thoughtful company Kashi is, check out their registration Captcha.  I'm not opposed to ones like ReCaptcha, which I think works rather well, but this was fantastic, and so refreshing:

With the Kashi Captcha, You could request a verification email instead, but why would you want to?

You could request a verification email instead, but why would you want to?

I willingly entered my home address three times on because I realized, if there is one food brand I wouldn't mind hearing from, it might be Kashi. The TV campaign Kashi is running, which offers a free frozen entree, and encouraging visitors to join a well thought-out community site is at least a viable alternative to creating a social media firestorm just so people will talk about Skittles.  Instead, try Kashi.

Marketing healthy foods is not like marketing regular food


Kind of dated, at this point but still an interesting idea that “Unfortunately, many people will not eat any better even if we can get them to pass a nutrition quiz."  In this particular case, inasmuch as I personally can make a good food choice, i might not always be in control of the meal's preparation.   Cornell researchers are studying this and other issues at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab

This is probably why I like eating at The Pump so much.  I know that when I order grilled chicken, brown rice and black bean chili, that is exactly what I will get.  I know that I'll always get wheat instead of bleached flour products, and no butter or other unhealthy stuff. 

Other restaurants don't promise as much, so when you order their chicken sandwich, what kind sof marinades, condiments, sides and additives will you get?  I thought the idea of payting such close attention to the foods I eat was kind of creepy until I tried it.  Now, it's how I live my life.


I think in a lot of businesses there is a legitimate question about who should receive the marketing message- sometimes it’s not the consumer.

My Brooklyn Bridge run

On Saturday, a day that was ridiculousy hot, I ran from my apartment across the Brooklyn Bridge.  According to Google Maps, the trip was about 3.6 miles total, but I think the last bit I walked after picking up milk, eggs, and a melon assortment.  I am pleased with having done it, and I will now be willing to run more- I am glad I'm now in good enough shape for this.

On a logistical level, this was a challenge.  I was holding on to my keys for dear life, and I succeeded in not letting them slip through my fingers and onto the roadway or into the east river.  I probably need some easy way to carry a few things (stuffing a $20 bill in my sock seemed needlessly cruel to the cashier who accepted my money). 

I think I also need new shoes (cue my mom singing the new shoes song). 

The Ferrari Diet

I've really done well in the last 7 months.  As of last Saturday (my un-celebrated 7-month anniversary of my personal fitness odyssey), I've lost about 40lbs.

I know that I'm stronger, look and feel better, and have a plan for how to keep going.  I'm on my way.

I didn't really plan to post this info, but it's nice segue to a video I've been meaning to upload and post: an interview I gave on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show back in January.  We're looking at the Ferrari stand and wondering, "Can you fit in that?"

The Ferrari Diet from Benjamin Bloom on Vimeo.

Back in the saddle

I'm now back at work after holiday break, and realizing it was a real perturbance of my daily routine.  I was sick for a couple days, and then the holidays started, so I was also away from the gym.  Today was my first day at the gym in a little over a week, and it feels great to have started the morning at the gym.

That being said, I feel like I never get to the movies anymore, and always regret not seeing more of the movies that come out in the theatres.  I tend to wait until they come out on DVD, but not because I strictly prefer that. 

I also saw a lot of movies on a bootleg movie site which I won;t link to for fear of contributing to its inevitable downfall, but I did see I Am Legend-  I need to find the book.   I also saw 28 Weeks Later on that site, and no sooner had I rolled my eyes and thought "oh great, I bet 28 Months later Is going to be super"

In the theatres:

Charlie Wilson's War- excellent and no wonder we've made a mess of postwar Iraq- we had practice in Afghanistan.

No Country for Old Men- Brutal, beautiful, insightful, and totally entertaining.

The Bucket List- while NY mag called it a typecast Jack Nicholson flick crossed with a typecast Morgan Freeman flick, I thought this was pretty entertaining.  Emotional ending.

Walk Hard- Hilarious.  A send-up of Ray and Walk the Line, the Dewey Cox story made me laugh hysterically a number of times.  Nice perfromance from Tim Meadows.

A good break!

Personal Fitness Odyssey Update

Took a moment to look up some of this unpleasantness at Columbia-wait, um,  Noose Gate?- and checked out the irreverent "Bwog" (which actually is an interesting source for breaking Columbia Universty news, from a student perspective.  Found a link to this Columbia Spectator article, which I think speaks for me, in my quest:

Basically, I felt like writing about working out because I’m proud of myself. A little shameless self-promotion never hurt anybody.


Link: Watching Chin-ups at Dodge | Columbia Spectator.

When I get back to NY, on the advice of MH, I am going to start doing resistance training.  I could probably also use the gym at the Amerisuites.  Interesting.  Thanks also to RM for suggestions about some fitness books.  Have to check those out.

Open is the new closed, so they say

In the sprit of open is the new closed, public is the new private, I'm going to be making regular updates to my blog about my quest for personal Fitness.  I'm going to try to lose about 40-50 pounds.  I used scales in two different New York Sports Clubs locations, and they didn't come out the same at all- so I'm not even sure where I stand.  That said, I will attempt to track my progress in this shared Google spreadsheet.  I don't really want to become a health nut, I still want to enjoy the food this  city has to offer  and have fun with my friends.

What's wrong
My lifestyle is wrong.  I don't exercise enough, and I don't acknowledge this often enough.  I avoid exercise  or strenuous activities.  I make unhealthy choices, whether it's drinking, or eating, or one then the other.  My long term health is at stake and I need to make some changes

What I tried
I essentially tried the subway diet for lunch and swore off egg sandwiches for breakfast.  Subway got kind of repetitive, but I think I could live with it.  Probably need to  get 6 inch and not footlong subs, and eat fruit instead of bagels/breakfast sandwiches.

What I am doing now
I have been to the gym 5 times in the last 7 days (including going this morning).  I'm just doing cardio right now, but I ultimately will be doing weight training as well.   I would like to do this without a personal trainer, and try to  wok on the discipline of  going to the gym rather than  having someone kick the crap out of me (and pay them to do it).  I'm trying to do 40 minutes of elliptical (it is not so strenuous on my knees and feet) or some such every time I go to the gym. 

I hope that I have the drive and the willpower to accomplish my goal, to look and feel better.  I welcome comments, encouragement, tips or other advice.