Hot on the heels of BK Flame fragrance there's Cheetos Lip Balm.

Since the Burger King "Flame" fragrance went so well (it sold out faster than you can say "no pickles"), other junk food producers want in on the game. Now there's Cheetos Lip Balm. It does exactly what you'd think, leaves an orange fatty residue and smells like cheetos.

Personally I'd rather get that look by burying my face in a bag of cheetos. In fact I'm wearing it right now, I look hot. *chomp chomp crunch*

Perhaps it's simply Chester being more mischievous than ever, fooling us all into looking like fools."Felicia... Yes..... wear the Cheetos Chapstick. Go on. Mmmmmm." You have to obey Chester.

"What is 230?"

Perhaps you've seen the mysterious (and maddening) advertising blitz popping up on cable TV, elevator-TV screens and the internet this week. It features a smiling and winking electrical outlet that end up being the zero in the number 230, which itself appears above the numbers "8-11."

Some virtual detective work by Advertising Age -- and rounds of phone calls -- reveal the marketer behind the effort is General Motors Co. But neither the company nor its agencies would say exactly what the campaign is for.

"I'm glad it's getting out there," but no one wants to talk about it until next Tuesday, said Mike Rosen, president of GM agency Starcom, New York, who then declined to offer further comment.

A Chevrolet spokesman said he had no information on the 230 site and whether it was linked to the Chevrolet Volt, GM's upcoming electric car. He added that GM has scheduled a press conference for Aug. 11, but he cautioned it is not necessarily related to the 230 teaser site. He declined to make further comment.

The most frequent guess pins the campaign to the plug-in Volt, which will likely get its juice from the 230-volt outlets used to run heavier appliances such as air conditioners and washing machines. (UPDATE: Another guess being made by commenters and now being backed up by industry insiders is that the 230 refers to the miles per gallon the Volt will get. Though we'd love to see that math!)

Either way, why run a teaser campaign for a car that doesn't go on sale until next year -- and one that's been known about for some time? After all, the marketer has been beating the drum for the car for more than a year.

Another contender is a just-announced Buick cross-over SUV plug-in hybrid. According to auto blog GM-volt.com, the vehicle will be launched in 2011 "and is expected to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker."

Other guesses floated on the web included a prototype for a 230-mpg car (seen in this CNN video clip from last year), something to do with Apple, or the conversion of the entire U.S. electrical grid from 120 volts to 230.

Despite the curiosity in some quarters, though, the mystery and frustration haven't exactly spread like wildfire. There is a whatis230.com site, a Flickr photostream, a blog, a YouTube channel and a Facebook group -- none of which seem to be gaining the sort of traction that would make such a viral effort a true pop-culture phenomenon. (Though it does seem to be flirting with a backlash.)

Indeed, the Facebook group was one of the biggest clues. Meghan Winger, a staffer of Chicago agency All Terrain, is the creator of the What Is 230 group. She also posted a teaser about the campaign to the "What is 230?" YouTube channel. All Terrain, which among other things is touted as a "social-media expert" on its website, lists Chevrolet at the top of its client roster. Others who oversee the Facebook page include: All Terrain marketing coordinator Noor Aweidah, who today Tweeted that "should know what 230 means"; Jeff Schwartz, who lists GM and Chevy Riders as his favorite products on his Facebook page; and Ashley Berlin, a media planner and buyer for Starcom Mediavest Group, a GM agency.

So yes, "What is 230?" is an ad campaign. It's for a GM product. But that's all anyone's saying at this point.


DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Fritz Henderson, CEO of General Motors Co., admitted this morning in a live webcast that the automaker was indeed behind the mysterious, unbranded website whatis230.com, as first reported here last week.

General Motors Co. CEO Fritz Henderson at a live webcast this morning.
General Motors Co. CEO Fritz Henderson at a live webcast this morning.
Photo Credit: GM
The number's significance, Mr. Henderson said, is that the Chevrolet Volt plug-in car due later this year is expected to get city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, or 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles. That performance, based on fuel-economy methodology being developed for plug-in cars by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would make the Volt the first mass-produced vehicle to achieve triple-digit fuel economy. Mr. Henderson said GM expects the Volt could be totally recharged for about 40 cents.

GM expects to produce roughly 60,000 of first-generation Volts, which are scheduled to go on sale in late 2010 as 2011 models.

So why run a blind teaser campaign? Mr. Henderson said that in order to win a new generation of buyers, "we need to relate to people between 16 and 30. They communicate differently and we need to make sure we plug into that. It's going to change advertising and it's going to change marketing and, over time, how we sell cars."

Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., created the 230 site. Chevrolet's longtime agency of record subcontracted with All Terrain, Chicago, which activated street teams to distribute hats and T-shirts with whatis230.com in several major cities.

GM also is ready to start its car-selling pilot on eBay, which Mr. Henderson announced a month ago in a webcast the day the new GM exited from reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Mr. Henderson said the program extends the showroom into Americans' living rooms and "makes the customer the center of our universe."

He also vowed to put more of GM's communications resources to its four core vehicle brands -- Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC -- instead of the GM brand, because "we don't go to market as GM." This move is likely to severely slash the amount of work handled by McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich., which has GM's corporate account.

The GM chief's webcast today followed a session yesterday with invited consumers, many of whom he described as past GM owners and "thoughtful critics" of the automaker on its blog at fastlane.gmblogs.com. GM today launched a microsite called The Lab, which will feature future projects and will be another place for consumers to share their reactions. The marketer said visitors who provide detailed demographic information may be invited to participate at a deeper level in future sessions.

In other announcements today, Mr. Henderson said:

  • GM plans to launch 25 new models arriving between now and 2011.
  • Chevrolet will have 10 new models, including the new Cruze small car next year.
  • Cadillac will have five new models, including an entry luxury-sport sedan, smaller than the CTS, to compete in that growing segment.
  • Buick and GMC are adding 10 new entries, including a Buick plug-in hybrid compact crossover, in 2011

Changing definition of friendship:::Social networks

One of the things that always fascinated me with virtual worlds and social networks was how many users regard their online contacts as 'friends' in every sense of the word...with the exception that they've often never actually met.

Family values return, thanks to the internet

India Knight

Here’s a strange thing: everyone is increasingly desperate for attention and yet we spend more and more of our leisure time in rooms with other live humans in them, ignoring live humans and doing things alone online. The people we know – husbands, wives, siblings, children – sit on the sofa while we engage with the people we don’t on the internet.

We’re all desperate to interact, to have our voices heard, but we find the nameless masses make a better audience than our near and dear. Is this a terrible disaster? Is it yet another nail in the coffin of “traditional” family life?

Wanting to be heard is a newish phenomenon in itself: not so long ago the thing to do was quietly potter through life, head down, drawing not an iota of vulgar attention to oneself. Today it isn’t just children that crave attention – grown-ups have found a voracious appetite for it, too. Adults, already prone to feeling like so many teeny-weeny little ants, scuttling about unappreciated and unnoticed, are eager to have their ant-voices – or their great big lion-roar, for that matter – brought to as large an audience as possible.

Technology has obligingly come to the rescue: if you feel like saying something about this article and are reading it online (for free! Um. Yes. Anyway. Moving on), you can avail yourself of the comment space or the e-mail address below.

If you have thoughts that you’d like to share about anything at all – from politics to child-rearing via artichokes or shed-building – you can start a blog; it takes about four minutes to set one up. If you’d like new friends, you can join a social networking site; if you want a date, you can trawl the singles sites; if you want a recipe for strawberry jam, you can ask strangers in a foodie chatroom. If the stuff that you watch on television or hear on the radio or read in the paper triggers a chain of thought, you’re free to share it with the people who made it at the click of a mouse.

All of this attention-seeking (and I don’t mean that pejoratively) takes place while we are in the physical company of friends and family with whom we are apparently failing to interact at all.

A report released last week by Ofcom, the communications regulator, painted a fascinating picture of family life – or rather of family life at play. Whereas 60 years ago people might have gathered around the wireless after supper, and 20 years ago around the television, today they are more likely to be in the same room, possibly on the same sofa, doing completely separate things: one watching television and checking Facebook at the same time, one tweeting away, one downloading music onto their iPod, one updating their blog. The Communications Market Report shows how reliant Britons have become on the internet for entertainment, and the net, though it links you to millions of other people, is a physically solitary pursuit.

Ofcom’s report presents a picture of a country multitasking in the most frantic way: 36% of those questioned, for instance, said they were online at the same time as they watched television – and this is after a long day at work. Ofcom’s director of market research said: “What we find is that there has been a trend for people to converge on the living room, to watch the 37in high-definition television, but when they get there they start to do something else like surf the internet as well.” The report suggests that although television viewing is holding up – three hours and 45 minutes a day is the average – it is only holding up because people are doing other things online at the same time.

Previously, teenagers were alone in indulging in what MTV calls “connected cocooning”, where someone is at home but spending all their energy communicating with the outside world. However, the older generations are now catching up.

We all know that multitasking is exhausting and that it has its limits, so the question is: will this level of engagement fry what remains of our brains? Will people’s already lamentably short attention spans fizzle away to nothing?

I don’t think so. I spend countless evenings in the sitting room with my two older children: the television is on; I’m at my desktop computer; one of them might be checking Spotify on his laptop; the other gaming online, with strangers from Arkansas or Fife, with an earpiece and a microphone so he can chat to them. If anyone – usually much older – suggests this is odd, the middle son shrugs and says that the people he’s chatting to are as real as you or me or “friends” on Facebook. They are just not physically present.

It would be easier to scoff if we didn’t know of the amazing success – I don’t mean just in terms of numbers but in terms of helpfulness and support – of giant websites such as Mumsnet, where strangers, normal people, not weirdo nerd-heads, also form friendships that are entirely real, even though they happen through the medium of fibreoptic cables.

The thing is, there’s necessary multitasking, of the kind you do at work, but there’s now a new and different kind of multitasking that we do for pleasure. Checking Twitter updates while cooking, for instance, may sound demented to the uninitiated, but it isn’t wildly different from listening to Radio 4 – both consist of people telling you interesting stuff. Admittedly, some of us have Radio 4 on while we cook and text, and while the sauce reduces we might even text about Radio 4. I do realise how peculiar this sounds unless you do it too, but it’s hugely enjoyable.

As for family life: I’m in favour of anything that has everyone in one place. We may be differently occupied, but we’re hanging out together, each doing our own thing. Nobody would be throwing up their hands in horror if we were all reading our own books or staring into space having our own thoughts – so why be appalled by the idea that we might all be involved in our individual bits of internet?

To me, the picture painted by Ofcom is rather reminiscent of a gentler age, where one family member played patience while the other read and a third caught up on some sewing. I can’t see anything wrong with this: then, as now, being together in the same room is sometimes enough.

+ The TUC has proposed a motion, due to be debated at next month’s conference, arguing that high heels in the workplace are demeaning to women and contribute to long-term health injuries and as such should be replaced by “sensible shoes” with a 1in heel limit. Is there a more unattractive combination of words than “sensible” and “shoes”? The TUC, which is mostly made up of men, might as well call for a return to “sensible slacks” and “drip-dry blouses”.

Besides, I have recently discovered that it is entirely possible to injure yourself through the wearing of completely flat shoes, or indeed of wearing no shoes at all as often as possible. Not only do you get hobbit feet – well, hobbit-shaped, not hobbit-furred – but you also get weird aches and pains, which are basically your feet sobbing for Louboutins.

Also, it’s 2009. I think we can probably safely assume that if women felt “demeaned” by wearing high heels they wouldn’t buy, or wear, any. Instead, many go into paroxysms of ecstasy at the mere word.

Bless the TUC, but really. What next? Perhaps a motion proposing that chocolate is bad for your teeth and causes unsightly stains when melty and should therefore be banned from all tea breaks

7 Skills for a Post-Pandemic Marketer

The impact of Covid-19 has had a significant impact across the board with the marketing and advertising industry in 2020, but there is hope...