Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rule #7: Examples and Takes


Coors Light: not just a beer purchase
  • Facebook apps, maps, "brew crews"
  • MySpace pages, happy hour locations, photo uploads
Chantix: not just a smoking cessation drug purchase
  • Personalized website, progress-tracking tools
  • Support groups, on-call coaches
Webkinz: not just a stuffed animal purchase
  • Care for your pet online, play games, earn KinzCash, buy things for your pet
  • Video: girl has her Webkinz dog give you a tour of its favorite rooms built in the Webkinz world
  • Barbie's boosted this animal/virtual animal model
Special K: not just a cereal purchase
  • "Special K Challenge"
  • share weight loss frustrations and triumphs, customize meal plans, schedule telephone wake-up calls, read their "celebrity" blogger
Nokia N-Series: not just a smartphone purchase
  • viNe mobile application
  • combining GPS, camera and media player to let you leave photos, videos and songs tagged to physical locations
  • others find your tagged stuff or you can share it directly with others
TiVo: not just a DVR subscription
  • Order Domino's pizza through the TiVo and track delivery time
  • Still can't pay through TiVo, though
CBS: not just a broadcast network show to watch
  • "Social viewing rooms"
  • Video conference and chat with friends, take polls and quizzes, throw virtual objects at the screen
  • Mathieson tested social baseball game viewing with
Polar: not just a sports watch purchase
  • Like Nike+, watch records data in real time
  • Heart rate and calories burned
  • Website to upload and analyze your routine, help choose new exercises, get training programs specific to your fitness level and goals, challenge your friends, find training partners
STA Travel: not just a travel booking
  • Widgets for travel offers, packing to-do lists, weather comparisons, trip countdown
  • All widgets customizable
Butterball: not just a turkey purchase
  • Old school! Set up Turkey Talk-Line for Thanksgiving food prep advice in 1981
  • Updated to include website, blogs, mobile sites, live chats and SMS
Sprint: not just a cell phone and talk time purchase
  • This Is Now dashboard widgets
  • Things happening right now (cups of coffee being produced, 911 calls being made)
  • Voice with witty banter and odd "now" facts ("It's currently now in all time zones")
  • Buzz Meter showing what's hot online right now (Bieber Meter?)
iPod, iTunes, AppStore: no elaboration necessary


The Rule has a few very strong examples, the best of which is Nike+, a full-scale, broad-array

service offering that ties into some of the world’s biggest brands (Nike, Apple, Facebook, etc).

The service is built right into the product.

Polar’s approach seems similar to Nike+, but less developed. This is not inherently bad; Polar’s data, the basis of its service add, is distinct from Nike’s and very specific to the individual (heart rate, for example). Interestingly, a recent update to Polar’s wearlink+ transmitter now allows it to link to the Nike+ products.

We lump Coors Light, Chantix and Special K roughly into the same category – community-

building attempts around product and lifestyle themes. The service is complementary to, but

separate from the product itself. The service element does not enhance the product or even

product experience directly, instead enhancing a broader lifestyle aspect of it. Coors Light is

obviously more fun and shallow than the other two. Chantix’s strength is in support and support

group offerings. The Special K Challenge is kin to a watered-down Weight Watchers; both

benefit from the fact that food product purchases are built into their programs. Where Nike+

and Polar products themselves generate data for enhanced service, the service aspect in the

Coors Light, Chantix and Special K are wholly separate web properties.

STA and Sprint are similar in that they give customers simple, fun software add-ons. They’re

of modest utility, but provide a layer of fun and personality beyond the initial product/service

offering. Nokia blends the STA/Sprint style with location-based tagging and tracking for a

more interactive experience, but the closed network (viNe) likely limits participation. With

Foursquare, Gowalla, Twitter, Flickr and others working in the same space with significantly

larger user bases, I don’t know where viNe is going.

We give Butterball huge points for an old school, event-based service add that is the Turkey

Talk-Line. Though they’ve expanded the concept into new channels, these updates are not

especially impressive. The senior VP’s quotes are classic “corporate speak,” with such cliché

offerings as: “we as a brand needed to evolve and provide expert holiday advice the way

consumers want it – online and on-the-go” and “provide helpful holiday information to Thanksgiving

cooks the way they consumer it – anytime, anywhere.” I agree they’re smart and necessary

updates, but they’re not remarkable.

CBS has formalized what’s already happening in Facebook and Twitter – real time reaction to

big broadcasts. Mathieson explicitly states that their social viewing rooms would be “much more

compelling if they integrated fan Twitter feeds.” I agree, but I like where CBS has been and

seems headed. I wonder what Google TV and Apple TV might bring to this kind of viewing


Finally, ordering pizza from the couch seems quintessentially American … in a bad way.


Do you strongly agree or disagree with any of our takes on the examples provided?

Did you think of any good product-as-service examples not mentioned in the chapter?

Would you be interested in using a CBS-style "social viewing room?" Why? With what kind(s) of programming?

Either through Google TV, Apple TV or some other yet-to-be-developed internet-based watch/talk/interact service ... will CBS's efforts be rendered obsolete, despite being visionary at the time?

What did you see, like, dislike or wonder about in Rule 7 that we missed?


  1. Special K: I wonder how successful this challenge is. I believe they slightly miss their core competitive contribution and what their brand is about. It looks like they go into the direction of a program like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, which is more holistic for serious weight loss. Special K and other cereal is just one portion of a diet plan.

  2. Webkins without the website would just be another stuffed animal. Good case in point, this morning my daughter woke me up with both of her webkins under each arm asking me to fire up the website. The other 500 stuffed animals slowly migrate to Goodwill while the webkins stay on top.

  3. If apple had came up with something like Nike+ that was universal to all shoe manufacturers, it may appeal to a broader range of customers.

    CBS Style social viewing room seems a little awkward. I feel a lot of the enjoyment of watching TV comes from the people you watch the shows with. When watching something "with" strangers, I think it would lower the entertainment value of some shows.

  4. Re: Special K - I don't see the motivation to accept the service offering (online community, coupons, sales pitches) beyond the product (box of cereal) ... but I'm not in the demo, either.

    Re: Webkinz - absolutely! Same goes down at my house, although the migration is slower than I'd like.

    Re: CBS - to be clear, you'd invite your friends to the viewing rooms rather than joining a room full of strangers.

  5. Re: Social Viewing

    Twitter's Robin Sloan calls his company's service "the new EPG" (electronic programming guide) and an informal version of the "interactive television" experience that's been overpromised and underdelivered for years. Apparently, a significant share of the 90M tweets per day are real-time reaction to television shows.

    Worth noting because Mathieson (and we) felt that Twitter integration would be a nice add/aspect of the CBS service.

  6. I hate to say it but CBS has pulled me into the Survivor Challenge... I'm not that into it, but if I'm looking for some extra info from the show, I can always go and get it :o)

  7. CBS has been doing a lot of things right recently. You can find/watch any of their shows, at anytime (after they've already aired, of course)...including sports. There are several interactive projects intwined with various shows, and this is becoming more popular by the day. Particularly, college and NFL football are HUGE draws, and they now have an viewer interface that rivals sports-specific channels, such as ESPN and the NFL channel. See

    Here, you can all the latest scores of any event, create and play in free fantasy leagues, get the latest breaking sports news via news, RSS, and twitter feeds, and do just about everything you could do from ESPN.

    In the digital age, CBS is fighting to stay relevent, and they're doing a good job. Whatever new opportunities and products surface in the future, I'm sure they'll have their fingers in enough pieces of the pie that they'll continue to find a way to stay relevent.

  8. I know tons of people who have done the Special K Challenge. They have a lot of products to buy for it: shakes, protein water, cereal (obviously), bars, crackers, etc. Enrolling in the program involves taking a short quiz about the flavors and types of foods you like, then they give you some combinations of products to buy and tell you when to eat what for each meal for two weeks. Of course you can move things around. It's really a pretty fun diet because the commitment is just buying groceries instead of signing up for Jenny Craig or something. I don't think it's beating out Jenny or Weight Watchers, but it is just a part of Kellog's business, not their whole purpose for existence. I think it's a great way to incorporate a service into a company that's known for its product.