The big clock in the sky

Why Do We Share? To Prepare for an Encounter With Hal Sparks

This week, my husband and I stepped out to our local comedy club and saw one of the best performances, possibly THE best performance, of a one-man show that I’ve ever seen.

It was a Thursday and having been alerted via text message about two hours beforehand that Hal Sparks was performing, we decided on a whim to go and see him. After a busy and stressful week, I was feeling like getting out of the house and could use a laugh so we decided to take up the club’s cheap price for tickets (FYI, comedy clubs make their money on the two-item minimum, not ticket prices).

Truthfully, I wasn’t entirely familiar with Hal’s comedy routine or him. I knew that I liked Hal, but I didn’t know why. I mean, his name rang a bell and for some reason it resonated with me. He is my age and an actor, and I remembered him from something, but what? I thought maybe he was on Blue’s Clues, the children’s show from the 1990s that I never watched, and I thought I remembered that a comedian had gotten his start there. (Blue’s Clues actually starred Steve Burns, who isn’t a comedian at all, by the way). Turns out, Hal starred for one season in 1999 on “Talk Soup,” and that’s how I learned about him (he’s been in A LOT since then).

So I ended up seeing Hal because I was mistaking him for someone else who doesn’t do what he does. That could have ended badly. But I learned as his show progressed that nobody does what Hal does.

My fading memory turned into my good fortune. Hal Sparks is not only talented, he is mind-blowing. He is so funny (and way more fit than I remember, hubba hubba). But mostly, he is incredibly intelligent. He wove a thick thread through a complicated needle that left me thinking all the next day about what he was saying. And he managed to do it by creating a link between cat puke, the Hadron Collider, and his grandmother’s washing machine.

I can’t go into the details. His topics were heavy on science and tech. He performs in front of the Elon Musk/Neil DeGrasse Tyson crowd so it’d be impossible for me to try to repeat what he’s discussing. Suffice to say, he uses all types of communication skills to tell his stories, and his timing and delivery are spot on.

Here’s a short clip of him performing so you can get a taste of his humor. It skims the surface to show his love of left-brain concepts.

Hal is a great theorist, and the core of his ideas border between science and science fiction, but they come down to this: We are like children being led. Our future is already written. It has been decided by people who reached the future before us, and we’re merely on our way to greet them. To prepare for this eventual introduction to the future, we are being downloaded with life experiences, and not just one life. We are living multiple lives in order to understand and develop empathy for one another. Ultimately when we arrive to our destination (which really makes you question whether we’re living in Zeno’s paradox, but that’s a different discussion), we will be sufficiently prepared to treat each other well, with compassion and love that we’ve learned over millennia of personal growth.

Deep, right? After the show, we talked for about 10-15 minutes. He was gracious and thoughtful, and we went a little deeper into his ideas.

But ultimately, I’m telling you about this because it comes back to marketing!

Hal’s ideas are imbued with concepts currently being played out in social media. Specifically, we’re at a point where algorithms based on a massive number of data points are anticipating our desires, needs, thoughts, beliefs, even our health. On top of that, we’ve all agreed to meet on a central social platform, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Snapchat (for the kids!) with the intent to share our identities and express what we think about everything – where we live, the food we eat, the music we listen to, the clothes we buy, the churches we attend, our political outlook, what makes us happy, laugh, angry, sad.

We give up everything, and the data “gods” are accumulating all of our life experiences and organizing them. In Hal’s philosophy, marketers are the technicians responsible for paying attention to what you’ve downloaded and what you have yet to try. Marketers watch what you’ve done and prepare to deliver missing pieces. Marketers are the life librarians making suggestions about what to try next.

So Hal’s not far off when he describes a world ahead of us, waiting for us, anticipating what we’re going to say or think or do. While I’m confident Hal and I would disagree on a lot of issues — most notably whether this theory is a rebranding of theism — as a marketer, I very much enjoy keeping you busy until you reach your final destination.

Advertising Online: The Difference Between Goals and Messages

Online advertisingGoals vs. message. I often find there’s an internal conflict clients need to overcome before advertising online to help them understand the difference between explaining their business and showing people the benefit of being a customer.

This is especially true for clients who sell experiences over products, but knowing the distinction is helpful for all businesses. Ultimately in advertising online, showing the benefit through good messaging is the way to reach the goal of the business.

I try to explain it as the difference between a branding exercise and a sales pitch. A lot of times, business owners think showing the benefit is too roundabout, when explaining the product’s purpose is clear-cut and direct. But potential customers don’t have time or interest in being sold features. They want to know, “how does this help me?” That means describing how the business improves customers’ lives in one way or another, not how their business improves an owner’s bottom line.

I recently had a discussion with a client who was interested in advertising a program and getting people to register to attend the program. In an effort to achieve this, we were going to inform potential customers of the program through social media and search engine advertising.

This meant developing creative graphics to generate interest for people to click on the ad and see the product, i.e. the program.

The company has its own graphics team (which is why the client didn’t need to use my completely excellent branding and design partner, Orange Hat — shout out). I described to the client what we needed, gave a list of image sizes, and proposed a deadline for when the images needed to be back in my hand so that the ad could be posted on media platforms.

Now I know the graphics team at this particular office, and it is extremely talented, so I was surprised that I got back four images with the name of the program on a dissolved background and a collage of people standing around talking to each other — imagine stock photos with a brand logo overlay.

Apparently, my description of the graphics requirements and the graphics team’s understanding of the purpose of the images got lost in translation — a telephone game fail, if you will. We were at a point where I was preparing to sell the benefits of participation in the program, and the graphics team was trying to convey who the company was that was offering the program.

If you’ve ever shopped online, you know that at the browsing stage, the store that sells the product is less relevant than the product itself. It’s frequently irrelevant all the way through the purchase except when the seller’s brand is integral to the sale. For instance, if you found a Halloween costume online that looked just like another one you had seen, and one was cheaper than the other, you’d probably buy the cheaper one, unless you knew the company selling it was using the money to pay for creepy clowns to mill around schoolyards.

Call it the puppy mill difference. If you’re against puppy mills, and you see two totally adorable puggles for adoption, one from a shelter and one from a puppy mill, then the choice of your product supplier becomes obvious. You go to the shelter. But let’s say you’re just thinking of adopting a shelter dog, could be a puggle, could be a mutt, doesn’t really matter, you just really want to get a dog. When you find the “one,” the adorable little guy you are just in love with, the decision comes down to when you can go get him and bring him to his forever home, not whether the shelter’s visiting hours are inconvenient.

Now, granted, it is an investment for a customer to register to attend a program, which is generally at a specific location during a specific time featuring a specific host or guest. Learning the details of the program — how much does it cost, what is the process to sign up  — all become variables in the decision-making process, but not at the point when the customer is browsing for interesting things to do.  In fact, it’s not until the customer is about to submit the registration form that he or she really begins to start planning the logistics of attending.

So, if you’re designing creative to let people know of a new event on the schedule, don’t tell customers about the venue and the parking, sell them the attraction.

To this end, it’s important to follow some guidelines for building a great ad, whether for a product, an event, or merely a page view. These are some of the ones I think about when I’m designing a sales pitch:

1) An Appeal is Not a Court Summons. These days, potential customers are extremely hard to impress. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re constantly blasted with digital stimuli. But customers are not automatons or lifeless entities. They want to be enticed and intrigued. That means you need to encourage, not coerce someone’s interest. If you are targeting college students, for instance, show why they would give up their valuable and limited time to participate in an event. Is it fun? Is it a way to blow off steam after finals? Is it good for their resume? It’s certainly not because the host’s internal business goals are to interest more college students to attend a program. In every case, ask yourself what’s the compelling aspect? Show them what’s appealing to them, not why it’s important for your business that they be there.

2) Show, Don’t Tell. Be descriptive, not prescriptive. People don’t want to be told to take their medicine. They know they have to take their medicine. They want to be shown that when they take their medicine, they get to leave their house and go on a great adventure that isn’t going to make them feel worse afterward. When consumers experience a persuasive feeling from an ad, instinct takes over, and they enlist enough trust in the advertiser to want to learn more.

3) Match Expectations to Outcomes. Did you ever fall for a bait and switch? Once. Yeah, only once because once you’ve seen how that scam works, you don’t fall for it again. We’re all too sophisticated for that. So, don’t suggest pizza and beer when you’re going to serve coffee and donuts. That said, a bit of surprise will certainly keep people’s interest if the surprise is better than the tease.

4) Keep it Simple. Oh, I know, “KIS” has been mentioned in every marketing book ever written, and yet it needs to be repeated over and over again. You can show real people doing real things as long as people can figure out what they’re being shown. Make sure audience members can understand what they’re seeing and give them one good reason why they want to see more.

5) The Destination Is Only As Good as the Journey. An online ad is going to take a prospective customer somewhere, but where? If you want sneakers, you’re not going to click on an ad showing boots. If the ad is tailored to a specific search and the destination takes you to a general information page, the buyer journey is done. You won’t get a buyer back if they know the ad takes them to a place they don’t need or care to be. If you’re an HGTV fanatic like me, you’ll get this analogy: Everybody loves the big reveal, but it’s a long journey for the pay-off. Unless you’ve got Chip and Joanna Gaines or the Property Brothers hand-holding your customer through the motions, they will abandon you if they know your front door and your interior don’t match.

6) Get Creative Then Try Again. I’ve never met a perfect ad right out of the box. That’s why marketers test, test, test, which means having multiple options to choose from when creating ad copy and graphics. Sure, branding needs to be cohesive, but just showing the same three images over and over will make people lose interest. Think of the relevancy score in Facebook advertising. What is that? That’s a measure used by Facebook to see how many times people see your ad before they click on it. When a viewer clicks after seeing an ad just once, that’s a creative win. If they see it a few times before taking an action, that means they are mostly immune to your charms. Keeping it fresh is as important in advertising as in relationships so don’t treat your customer like the worse half of an old, boring couple.

A Successful Inbound Marketing Program: Relevant, Helpful, and Human

I recently attended a very cleverly marketed and presented sales pitch by HubSpot called #GrowWithHubSpot. The conversation was about how to launch a successful inbound marketing program, even though the goal of the event was to sell HubSpot’s very elaborate content marketing and metrics program.

My two favorite parts about the event were the initial email in which Hubspot invited me to attend and a remark at the end of the presentation by the host when she acknowledged Hubspot expected limited returns from the event.

Why are these my favorite parts? The email was very personal, so much so that I wrote back to the woman who sent me the invitation to congratulate her on her language and messaging. The acknowledgement at the event — by the same woman — that she knew that only a very small number of guests would buy the package being sold, but she hoped that the presentation had been helpful told me that Hubspot practices what it preaches.

And the most important element it preaches is that companies will perform better and earn a solid reputation when they not only offer good products, but when they are relevant, helpful, and human.

Hubspot raised its image in my mind. I do find the product very interesting, though I’m not ready to purchase it yet. As a start-up marketing agency. My own email list is very limited. I primarily work for clients (so far) who already have CRM platforms and other metrics systems in place. The work I do so far is to help them increase their clientele. As I grow in my own firm, keeping up to date with my email list will require me to get a system, but for now, I’m operating very one-on-one, and my website is not event doing much of the talking for me online.

Admittedly, I guess that means I’m not practicing what I preach — at least not for myself. But for my clients, definitely.

And that means that Hubspot may come into play as a recommendation to my clients as a useful tool.

And so Hubspot has done its job. It pushed me further down the sales funnel from awareness to active consideration.

How how did it do that? I mean, how do I even know what Hubspot is? Honestly, I don’t remember my first engagement with the company, but I do know I’ve been reading its marketing blog for a while now, and find it very interesting and useful. Indeed, I frequently repost Hubspot articles for others to read.

As Hubspot’s own inbound evangelist noted, the best way to convey that a company is relevant, helpful, and human is to offer something with utility, empathy, and inspiration.

That has worked for Hubspot itself, which recently did an analysis of its own site, and learned a few details that helped it better capitalize on its content marketing efforts.

Indeed, Hubspot learned that:

  • 93 percent of its monthly new leads come from old posts
  • 83 percent of its monthly blog views come from old posts
  • 46 percent of new blog leads come from just 30 posts

What did this teach the staff at Hubspot? It taught them to do two things to its blog content: optimize popular content to better convert, and optimize high-converted content to be seen by more people. Basically, calls to action and SEO are at play here.

Now, without going into the details of how to do that, let’s just say that these efforts are simple. Indeed, it wasn’t revelatory information. However, demonstrating the power of the Hubspot platform in turning what they did into results was intriguing.

Hubspot got a huge increase in traffic, leads, and revenue as a result of the inbound tweaks they made. And then the team looked to see who was responding. The staff created categories, or as the host called them “semi-fictional representations of its ideal customer based on real data and educated speculation around customer demographics and behavior patterns.”

In short, they divvied up their customers into great segments based on the type of job they have, how familiar they were with the company, how interactive they had been with content, and ultimately, which content they found most interesting.

This provided them the insight to give those customers content and context for materials they could use, and ultimately turned them into a collaborative partner in deciding what information best suited different audiences.

And then they showed how to measure it all in the Hubspot tool.

It was powerful, it was authority. It was relevant to me, a good lead for their product, and they did it in a way that showed they understood my challenges. They showed empathy, as they would call it.

That’s how they transformed themselves from merely a blog I read to a potential customer. The buying journey isn’t over, and I may not ever get the product, but if I ever do decide I need a product, then Hubspot gets credit for showing me how relevant their product is to my work.

In the meantime, the blog will continue to be a source of insight and inspiration, and I will continue to pay attention to this brand.

And that’s how to become a transformative company.

Getting beyond the impersonal marketing automation and going to the respectful, empathetic marketing. It worked even on an old dog like me in this communications industry.

Trends Survey: Inbound Marketing Wins the 2016 Battle for Dollars

It shInbound marketing on social mediaould come as no surprise to anyone that companies are maintaining or upping their marketing budgets in 2016, but what’s notable is the massive push of marketing dollars to inbound marketing tactics.

What is inbound marketing? Funny you should ask. Marketers always throw out that term to clients, expecting them to pick up on the nuances — as if all business owners pay attention to the marketing industry.

Most businesses aren’t interested in the jargon of marketing; they just want more customers. So let’s be brief: Inbound marketing is a content-based strategy in which companies produce materials that make it easy for them to be found by and earn the attention of customers who are already on the hunt for these services and products.

The Internet has caused a massive paradigm shift in advertising and the ability to reach customers. Remember the giant book of names and phone numbers? They were either white pages (for residences) and yellow pages (for businesses) and the book was indexed alphabetically by name or by industry. Well, search engines and social media platforms are the new white and yellow pages, but besides just being phone books, companies who advertise on them can offer pictures, articles, testimonials, product listings, and other bits and pieces of information to make them more interesting, helpful, and authoritative. They can also capture data consumers provide to them to deliver customized pitches.

Savvy businesses pull together these materials, contextualize them, and label them so that the automated search systems can surface them for customers to evaluate whether the company provides what the customer is seeking.

Easy-Peasy, right? Well, not entirely. Not every business pays attention to how the search is done, what material to add, or in cases where they know what to add, they may not know how to build it. That’s where marketers come in, and the results are generally worth the investment because the customers have self-identified whether they are in the market for a company’s offerings.

And that’s why the Selligent 2016 Market Trends Survey is helpful, because it took a pool of respondents who clearly are marking their priorities based on where they see success occurring. And isn’t that just how a trend develops?

The pool of respondents is not very big for a survey, but Selligent’s respondents, mainly in North America, and many in the Internet, tech and retail marketing departments, are pretty savvy folks. More than 50 percent of those who responded to the survey said they were going to increase their budget in each of these categories: Online display ads, email marketing, social media marketing, and mobile marketing. These numbers blew away traditional spends like PR, radio, and direct mail.

Hmmm, all inbound marketing tools. Coincidence? No way.

Some quick takes on what the Selligent survey found:

      1. When it comes to email marketing, according to the survey, the biggest target for inbound tactics this year is “increasing subscriber engagement” — by far the most important initiative with 34 percent of respondents saying that’s the top goal – more than double the next response of “improving segmentation and targeting.” Marketers chose “improving data analysis to better understand customer context” as the third most important initiative. That’s no surprise: Once you have a subscribed customer, keeping them happy is an important and lifelong task.
      2. Interest in spending on mobile, while still enormous, dropped from the previous year. My conclusion: probably less spending on infrastructure to make email and websites responsive. With advances in this area, creating separate mobile campaigns from desktop campaigns seems only marginally beneficial from the way it used to be done. On the flip side, apps are a huge area where companies are building out, as Internet usage becomes more mature. Think of apps as the drive-thru lane for company websites. Apps are oriented toward customers who already have been sold on the goods and just want to get what they want quickly. It is a different user group than those potential customers who are using search engines to narrow down candidates who can provide the best options to meet their needs.
      3. Interestingly, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC), which are not altogether dissimilar from online display, but require more vigilant and more creative production, didn’t rank as high as other inbound marketing tactics, though they were still at 42 percent. Part of that may be the dispute over whether SEO and PPC are inbound or outbound. By my definition, they are definitely inbound marketing techniques because even if a company pays for a click, it only pays when someone’s search aligns with a company’s offer. In any case, SEO is always a challenge to monitor, and defining the return on investment for SEO is quite difficult for many to explain to business owners. In fact, here’s a great article about the challenge of explaining SEO to business owners who either have their brain set on fire thinking about it or are fascinated to learn more. As for PPC, while simple text and email ads are great resources, measuring conversions via PPC probably doesn’t deliver the eye-popping numbers that it once did or that other tactics do, for the money spent, especially considering how mature the reporting has become on how people behave once they click.

The top challenge for marketers this year (as opposed to initiative) is knowing what to do with the rich bed of data they have. In other words, marketing is no longer a career for those who couldn’t do math in high school.

“Leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources” has become a blood sport, and without going into the jargon about attribution models and conversion tables, the simple fact is that once someone has identified themselves as a prospective client, the marketer, with the business owner, needs to decide how to take the customer down the path from awareness to purchase to advocacy. Knowing where are all customers are coming from and what they are doing is the all important insight into getting them to the final goals — buying the product and remaining a customer.

As for other challenges, marketers said that re-engaging inactive email subscribers was a top goal and growing the list of customers was also important.

Email Marketing Initiatives

What will be the three most important email mail marketing initiatives in 2016? Given the opportunity to list their priorities in a 1, 2, 3, order, the highest percentage of marketers said increasing subscriber engagement is No. 1, but when putting together the top three choices (out of 14 possible options given by the survey), “segmentation and targeting” was a top three priority for 41 percent of those surveyed. Meaning: Becoming better at managing and delivering on the different interests of specific customer groups is of major importance.

Additionally, a plurality also said they were going to use their email marketing to increase their social media followers. I’m interested to know what the strategy is behind this because unless the goal is to build brand advocates, which is a very late-stage growth tactic, knowing that there’s an optimal number of emails to send every month (5.7 according to one source), do marketers really want to waste one or more of those emails on asking for likes and followers?

It would be much easier to take the existing email list and load it into social media platforms and target advertise in that platform rather than use an email for this. Besides, building audience by auto-targeting in social media platforms is a cost-effective means for growing social.

Overall, in 2016, 56 percent of companies will increase and 35 percent will maintain current levels for marketing budget. Only 9 percent of companies will reduce their budgets. And good luck to them.

A Different Take on Washington Snowstorms

Washington snowstorm map by Fox NewsNot my regular posts, but I always have fun watching Washington go nuts with snowstorms, whether just a doom-laden forecast or the real deal, which this storm (on my parents’ 51st anniversary weekend) turned out to be.

I took the fun to the next level and got an op-ed published on FoxNews.com. So here’s my piece on why snow in Washington is like government in Washington.

I  hope you enjoy. I’ll try to get back to writing marketing-centered blogs soon. Meantime, stay warm and safe.

 

 

Four Steps to Improving Your Appearance on Google

Improving your appearance on Google is one of the most important and rewarding tasks you can do for your business. But many business owners either don’t know how or are not interested in doing it themselves.

And so they leave it on the to-do list, lonely and unfinished.

Why is this? People often know the importance of SEO, search engine optimization, but they consider it a distraction from actually running their business — whether that business is selling widgets, designing sneakers, or closing housing contracts.

And when they do know that it’s something they ought to do, they often wonder how difficult, time consuming, expensive, or measurable the reward is.

Marketing to Political Correctness: Pirelli Muddles Its Brand

Here are four things I’m betting you didn’t already know about Italy’s Pirelli tires.

1) It is the fifth largest tire manufacturer in the world.
2) 99 percent of its business is tire manufacturing.
3) It operates manufacturing facilities in 14 countries.
4) It’s 87 percent majority-owned by China’s national chemical company.

All interesting factoids, but there’s more:

1) Pirelli has been selling bathing apparel, shoes, and raincoats made from latex products for 60+ years, and at one time featured Marilyn Monroe as a model for its clothing line.
2) Founded in 1872, its first female employee was hired in 1873. She was 15 at the time.
3) Its 16-member board of directors currently has four women on it, and the board secretary is a woman.

Despite all this business-driven data, I will bet that one thing you do know about Pirelli is that it just released a calendar of images, taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz, of marginally attractive women who are (mostly) not naked. And this is somehow a breakthrough in the company’s corporate culture.

It’s true. To major fanfare, Pirelli’s fashion sector just released its annual calendar, its 51st, and it’s not like any Pirelli calendar you’ve seen before. Gone is the glam and the sexy that the Italians first mastered centuries ago. Now, it’s full of “statement women,” those known for their voice rather than their looks.

It’s about time the tire manufacturer recognized women beyond their ephemeral qualities! Right?

Now, you may have missed the calendar in previous years. It was never put on sale. It is better known as a coffee-table collection and a private-stock gift for elite recipients — part of the branding plan that gave Pirelli its high-end status despite its tires being sold at Pep Boys and WalMart.

So perhaps consider for a minute that the very nature of this year’s calendar is Pirelli’s humane way of putting an end to an outdated marketing tool that likely has no measurable return on investment. Realistically, wall calendars are the last hurrah for craft stores selling young children clumsy examples of affection to their gramps for the holidays.

The relevancy of the wall calendar in the era of smart phones is gone, so Pirelli wins by letting it die a “noble” death that also kowtows to America’s culture police.

And, boy, did Pirelli figure out how to milk that cow. It got buy-in on the grandiosity of its gesture from all the appropriate quarters. The New York Times notes the fabulous marketing move:

Altruism and political correctness aside, there is also a compelling economic reason for Pirelli to change direction. It is hard to see the conjunction of the new calendar and the rise of the female dollar, along with the fact that increasingly women are directly driving (no pun intended) or influencing purchasing decisions, as simple coincidence.

According to Antonio Achille, a partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, female income worldwide totaled $18 trillion in 2014 — “an enormous untapped opportunity” — especially because within the luxury car market in the United States, 50 percent of vehicle purchases are decided by women, and 75 percent are “influenced” by them. …

And as (Jennifer Zimmerman, the global chief strategy officer for the McGarryBowen advertising agency) said: “Women have a disproportionately loud voice compared to their male counterparts. And for those women it is no longer socially acceptable to walk into a high-end garage that sells Pirelli tires and see a calendar with naked girls on the wall. You’d drive right out again in that Mercedes you came in with.”

Yeah, because women are driving into high-end garages and finding Pirelli-supplied images of naked women on the walls, and turning around to go to NTB instead (which also sells Pirelli tires). And, by the way, don’t forget that gratuitously naked women was never the calendar’s M.O. The calendar was “art.”

Granted, gimmicks have always been a great tool for turning otherwise boring products into household names. That’s the nature of marketing. But if the political left had a real grip about what matters to women, it wouldn’t think that the newfangled calendar is the dawn of Pirelli’s next era.

Yet so ensconced are some in the depths of political correctness that outlets like The Huffington Post are trying to define this calendar — with its images of Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, and Fran Lebowitz — as the new “sexy,” going so far as to cheekily warn that the calendar is not safe for work (NSFW). If looking at Amy Schumer’s fat rolls is a problem at your office, please don’t open the HuffPo article.

As for female purchasing power, Pirelli doesn’t need to rely on its calendar to make a gender-based marketing appeal to women. The 143-year-old company can count on its own history instead. For decades, it has been at the forefront of education, culture and art, organizational management, and leadership in Italian global exports. As recently as March, during National Women’s History Month (another hackneyed U.S. marketing construct), Pirelli paid its due with a promotional series about the role of women at Pirelli. Now, it may be merely lip service, but so is so much of what the left deems valuable.

If the company does need to turn to gender marketing to be relevant, maybe Pirelli’s team ought to learn the interests of women in the Formula One Racing fan base, where Pirelli is the exclusive tire supplier. That seems like a logical audience. And if Pirelli wants to get into women’s wallets, then maybe it ought to consider marketing campaigns that empower women — with knowledge about the safety aspects of the tires, or how to identify when treads are running low, or how to change a tire while wearing heels. More so, it could turn its attention toward helping women when they make car-buying decisions or toward improving their shopping experiences at car dealerships.

Appealing to female purchasing power does not mean putting less attractive women on calendars (especially when the subjects of the calendar admit that they did the shoot as a favor to the photographer, not to the brand).

Since the calendar was originally intended for high-brow fan boys like Brazilian presidents and hotel magnates, its new look most certainly means its days are numbered. And let’s face it, Pirelli is looking at a global forecast and worrying more about softening markets in emerging economies like Russia and Brazil than whether its calendar is going to appease American women.

So fine, Pirelli has effectively put an end to its formerly glamorous and artistic calendar in the most punctilious way possible. But if skin-deep beauty is no longer appreciated in America, at least don’t try to dissuade the Italians. They invented Baroque, defining beauty with well-rounded (literally) women endowed with assertive minds. America’s political left has nothing on them.