Marketing FTW



  • Our new highly paid marketing department (it's a single guy but he refers to himself as the marketing department) has gone full force on re-imaging and creating a more cohesive branding for the company. This is a complete package that consists of a new illegible logo (which replaces the much more legible logo from months previous), new company colors and of course revamped website and marketing brochures.

    The website is a story in itself which I won't fully get into right now. Apparently the open source CMS we were using wasn't flexible enough for him (he couldn't figure out theming on his own and wasn't willing to use our excellent outside resource we use for such things), rather he selected to move from our recently updated website to static pages, because they are "much more flexible". XML site map gone, tracking revisions and releases gone, staging material releases gone, rss feeds gone... but this will be easier for him to get done "what he needs to get done done" and it will "save us money".

    The most recent "win" was a narrowly escaped libel suit. The marketing department/guy made some new fancy brochures (made on a Mac, because they are "better" for those sorts of things.. yes AI runs on windows.. but Macs are still better for those things.. oh you have a mac and disagree? then you just don't get it...). In one of the brochures there's a picture of a competing product side-by-side our product. It's a photo of a poorly setup instance of their hw system and an immaculately setup picture of our gear. The copy reads along the lines of, "Unreliable connections and programming hassles like this are avoided with the our special connectors." Of course the statement isn't actually true. Beside the point that the mess of cables and our neatly routed ones have nothing to do with the system being easy to program or not, their system does not have "unreliable connections" and they have the data to show that. Had it said something along the lines of, "Doesn't our competitor's setup look confusing and messy compared to ours?" That may have been better (it's closer to opinion than stating fact).. though there are still a few other issues...


    What else was wrong in this situation? The compromising photo? NOT OURS. So add copyright infringement to the top of the pile. What else could be wrong? Other than offending the largest competitor in the field? One that is more than 10x as big as us? The particular competitor offended is also a customer of ours. They make up >90% of our OEM business, ~ 90% of one of our particular product revenues and around 16% of our total revenue. Oops.


    To me this is unforgivable, but the recently hired higher up (that hired this guy) thinks he's doing a great job.


    I can forgive hard powering down a server which he somehow had access to, somehow thought was the computer he was trying to remote in to (it wasn't), and thought it would be a good idea to hard power cycle rather than ask the server admin why he couldn't remote it.. that's just inconvenient and something to learn from (make sure marketing can't touch ANY of the internal servers, the server room is locked and he doesn't have a key). Ruining our recently done SEO work and moving back to 90s tech on the website.. hey, we still have a website and it's marketing's responsibility. If that is what they are comfortable with and it gets the job done (we're still selling).. then fine. It falls under their hat and they get the ultimate decision regardless of what advice they were given. Insisting on running a Mac in an all windows environment when all work he does is easily done in windows? Sure, as long as IT is willing to support it or he is willing to do self support. Doing maverick purchases on the marketing department's credit card without going through the proper PO process? Sure a few things would have been cheaper, and there would have been less thousand dollar throw away purchases but the higher ups are fine with him working outside of the process due to the "flexibility" and "efficiency" it allows him as a marketing department. Fair enough.

    Insulting one of our biggest customers who is also a leader in our field and could crush us if they wanted to just by instigating a long and costly lawsuit? Not so forgivable imho.. but apparently I don't know much about business.



  • Why is this other company both your biggest competitor and your biggest customer?  That seems a little bit strange...



  • @dubbreak said:

    Insulting one of our biggest customers who is also a leader in our field and could crush us if they wanted to just by instigating a long and costly lawsuit? Not so forgivable imho.. but apparently I don't know much about business.

    Not to mention that they could probably run you out of the market if they decided to eat some short-term losses.

    Great post.  It reminds me of my last job.  Our marketing communication dept, which didn't show up on any org chart, had the power to mandate anything they pleased with the backing of upper management.  One time they decided that all fonts on any document that wen to a customer would be the mar-com selected company font "Zwo".  We made electronic test equipment, and they tried to force us to convert the font in the embedded software to this horrid crap font (IMO).  Our engineering department basically handled that by complaining about schedule slippage, and relying on the laziness of the weanie graphic designer to follow up.



  • What a great story!

    Actually, no, that's a horrible story, and I feel bad for you.  Do you know how'd he get hired?  I bet there's some good dirt in that tale.

    @dubbreak said:

    it's a single guy but he refers to himself as the marketing department
    Whenever individuals refer to themselves as a department or group, I always think of

    Miracle Max: Go away or I'll call the brute squad!
    Fezzik: I'm on the brute squad.
    Miracle Max: ...You are the brute squad!



  • @Mason Wheeler said:

    Why is this other company both your biggest competitor and your biggest customer?  That seems a little bit strange...


    I don't think it's that uncommon. We have a hardware module they sell with their products, they label it as their own when used with their products. They are a big well known brand and so they sell lots and can sell for more. We are competitive in the key product of a certain market (the module is not the key product, just an add-on), but they are a much bigger brand in that arena. We specialize in certain niches, well they cater to the masses. We have more market share than them in certain industries. Our key niche market we've had for 20+ years. In the overall market they have a much larger piece of the pie (especially internationally).

    They also have other markets they are in that we have 0 interest in. They are big and a lot broader in what they do as a company (kind of like postgres being a competitor to SQL server.. MS does a lot more than dbms, but postgres isn't interesting in competing in video games systems or operating systems or productivity suites etc). To complete the analogy, if postgres had a module that could be used by sql server and MS licensed it and sold it as their own.. then that'd be kinda the same boat. Of course postgres would have to go and print libelous statements about SQL server....



  • @frits said:

    Not to mention that they could probably run you out of the market if they decided to eat some short-term losses.




    I'm not sure they'd have to incur any losses to run us out of the market. Alternatively they could just buy us (well easier said than done since it's a privately owned company.. but it looks like the owners are trying to fatten the company for sale.. which is more like a diet actually... anyhow it'd most likely sell for the right offer and they have enough money to make that offer).
    @frits said:

    Great post.  It reminds me of my last job.  Our marketing communication dept, which didn't show up on any org chart, had the power to mandate anything they pleased with the backing of upper management.  One time they decided that all fonts on any document that wen to a customer would be the mar-com selected company font "Zwo".  We made electronic test equipment, and they tried to force us to convert the font in the embedded software to this horrid crap font (IMO).  Our engineering department basically handled that by complaining about schedule slippage, and relying on the laziness of the weanie graphic designer to follow up.


    Oh we have an official font too and powerpoint background etc. Marketing guy couldn't figure out how to make it work in office 2003, so a bunch of people had to upgrade to 2007. It's a bloody template! I guess the "official" transitions weren't available in older versions of PP.

    Now the "marketing group" is going to be "product manager" as well. Should be interesting. Rather than using HCI experts for our new UI we'll just rely on the expert opinions of marketing who will tell us how things should look and work. We're talking about the "group" responsible for making the website less usable (aside from the move to static pages he succeeded in making every newbie mistake in the top 10 web design mistakes). Hey, but he's an apple user.. so he knows about usability! Plus he can use words like "cloud computing" without even knowing what they mean! Of course in reality I am all for moving our embedded product to "the cloud".



  • @Xyro said:

    Do you know how'd he get hired?  I bet there's some good dirt in that tale.




    I don't know the full story, but it wasn't nepotism surprisingly. Maybe because what he expected for a wage was lower than the other astronomical quotes other applicants gave. Maybe competence is so rare in marketing that they ARE worth their weight in gold when qualified. This guy's education (single BA) is not in business or commerce or marketing and is in a field that most people I know with the degree and no masters or phd are executive assistants. He did "run/own" a little software company iirc.. but he left that to work for us? Doesn't quite add up to me. Huge ego as well. But I'm used to that from business school. People who want to be in business often have huge egos that don't match their abilities. Kind of like musicians. The best musicians are modest, the worst tell you how amazing they are.


    What "sold" the upper ups on him was his presentation. The applicants had to do a "wow" presentation. Being an apple fanboi he naturally chose to do a presentation on a made up apple branded car. We were told how amazing it was. He even made up glossy adverts! After he was hired he did the presentation for the entire office. It was received with utter silence, then after an awkward pause some light polite clapping.



  • It can happen, usually after a merger.  It makes for a very awkward relationship, but one that cannot be terminated.  It happened to us accidentally when we bought out a company that was in the process of buying out another company, which happened to be a competitor of our client.



  •  Our marketing department recently released a nice new brochure showing our web app running on an iPad. There are 2 issues with this:

     1 - It won't run on an iPad. It won't run on anything other than IE for that matter (yes, I realise is 2010....)

     2 - The picture plainly shows that all they have done is taken a screenshot of it running within IE and pasted that over the screen of an iPad.



  •  I agree that your marketing guy is a moron (proven by offending your customer) and underqualified (proven by "upgrading" your website to the lousy state you describe). However, your rant against his choice of a Mac for design work is unfounded. I am perfectly aware that AI runs on both Windows and Mac OS. I have even managed to do decent design work on a Linux system using Inkscape. But Mac is definitely superior than both Windows and Linux for (print product) design work. There are several differencies on the OS level (better colour management throughout the workflow, a different, print-opptimized font rendering paradigm) and on the hardware level (wide colour gamut IPS displays on the MacBooks and the unibody Macs vs. the 72% colour space TN panels typically used with Windows workstations) which contribute to the fact that a design you see on a Mac screen closely resembles the printed brochure, but the design which displays well on a Windows workstation may look good in print, or it may print as puke green instead of emerald green. Of course, there are designers who agree to work on Windows if there is a good reason, but a designer who honestly prefers to work on Windows is either a masochist, or doesn't know what a colour profile is (which is equivalent to a programmer who doesn't know about static methods), or just doesn't care if his work turns out to be puke green. 



  • @rooh said:

    TN panels typically used with Windows workstations

    Windows workstations generally have IPS panels (or well, they don't generally come with any monitor by default, but IPS is pretty much the standard starting from upper-mid range business monitors). They are not very common on laptops, but if someone does need it, it's not impossible to find (Lenovo: FlexView. HP: DreamColor. Afaik, Dell's Precisions don't have that option).



  • @valerion said:

     1 - It won't run on an iPad. It won't run on anything other than IE for that matter (yes, I realise is 2010....)

     

     

     That sounds like The Real WTF.

    Everything I've ever developed for the Web, from 1995 to the present, has been done in a platform/browser-independent way.



  • @rooh said:

    TN panels typically used with Windows workstations
     

    PCs running whatever OS have whatever monitor you like. TN is only typical because it's cheaper, not because it has any relationship with Windows. There is no such thing as a "typical Windows monitor".

    @rooh said:

    72% colour space TN panels

    Not all TN panels are like that; only the cheaper ones. But on the whole I share your hatred towards TN. IPS baby!

    @rooh said:

    better colour management throughout the workflow, a different, print-optimized font rendering paradigm

    Granted. I've never done any design work on a Mac, so I can't judge.

    @rooh said:

    a design you see on a Mac screen closely resembles the printed brochure

    print/monitor matching is entirely dependent on monitor calibration. The OS may facilitate this, but this counts as only a half point for OSX, as it's not impossible or even hard on Windows.

    @rooh said:

    or doesn't know what a colour profile is

    Colour profiles are the work of the devil.

    @rooh said:

    just doesn't care if his work turns out to be puke green. 

    You'll never reach a 100% match anyway. Work I've done and sent off to a proper print shop (instead of one's own lousy inkjet or miscalibrated colour laserjet) has typically turned out to look nearly the same as what I saw on my monitor, so you'll forgive me if I'm not quite convinced of Mac's superiority in that domain.

     

     

     

     

     



  • @rooh said:

    However, your rant against his choice of a Mac for design work is unfounded. I am perfectly aware that AI runs on both Windows and Mac OS. I have even managed to do decent design work on a Linux system using Inkscape. But Mac is definitely superior than both Windows and Linux for (print product) design work. There are several differencies on the OS level (better colour management throughout the workflow, a different, print-opptimized font rendering paradigm) and on the hardware level (wide colour gamut IPS displays on the MacBooks and the unibody Macs vs. the 72% colour space TN panels typically used with Windows workstations) which contribute to the fact that a design you see on a Mac screen closely resembles the printed brochure, but the design which displays well on a Windows workstation may look good in print, or it may print as puke green instead of emerald green. Of course, there are designers who agree to work on Windows if there is a good reason, but a designer who honestly prefers to work on Windows is either a masochist, or doesn't know what a colour profile is (which is equivalent to a programmer who doesn't know about static methods), or just doesn't care if his work turns out to be puke green. 

    I have no issues with Mac (I run OS X and Ubuntu at home). I don't entirely agree with some of your points (e.g. IPS displays aren't unique to Macs), and I do have friends that are photographers, digital artists and even one that works in a print shop and they all use Windows exclusively (and they aren't masochists by any means) but the main point is the person in question doesn't understand or know of any benefits. His entire argument is "Macs are better for design." Which he'll repeat with no justification ("But I'm GOOD WITH PEOPLE.. YOU GUYS DON'T GET IT).

    As a developer I may claim linux is better for working on C/C++ project, but when someone raises an eyebrown I can justify it. Why is it better for me? I have all the tools I need available, they are quicker and easier to install, having a multitude of desktop environments to choose from and customize makes the ergonomics better... etc.



  • @dhromed said:

    >

    You'll never reach a 100% match anyway. Work I've done and sent off to a proper print shop (instead of one's own lousy inkjet or miscalibrated colour laserjet) has typically turned out to look nearly the same as what I saw on my monitor, so you'll forgive me if I'm not quite convinced of Mac's superiority in that domain.


    That reminds me of a domain that Macs still aren't up to speed in.. a windows domain. I have my own mac working OK on the local domain, but it's clunky, network drives drop out for no apparent reason. It may have to do with IT, but my windows machine is fine, and I don't have half the headaches with Linux. I also lost print support on the network when I moved to 10.6 (10.6 broke pretty much all the print drivers). A heterogeneous install base is a huge headache to maintain. I've heard tell that they are even pushing to move to a single version of Windows (upgrade everyone to 7 I'm assuming). As long as I'm forced to support old Delphi apps they can pull my XP box from my cold dead hands. There's no way I'm trying to get that tool chain setup on 7.



  • @rooh said:

    There are several differencies on the OS level (better colour management throughout the workflow,

    Nope. Well... possibly.

    Windows has all the same color management (and had it long before OS X existed), but some apps fail to use it correctly. Since Adobe's shit stinks so much right now, they might be part of that fail... but there's a reason that applications like, say, visualizing CAT/MRI/XRAY images usually use Windows.

    @rooh said:

    a different, print-opptimized font rendering paradigm)

    First of all, it's not a "paradigm." Freakin' Windows 2000 (and for that matter, Mac OS 😎 did the same smoothing.

    The only reason differences between Windows and OS X font smoothing are:
    1) Windows uses ClearType; OS X doesn't
    2) Windows fudges character positions so that they're on pixel lines; OS X doesn't

    The practical difference is that, yes, ok, OS X's is closer to what you'd see on paper (since it can simulate a high-DPS printout), but in practical terms? A character being at most .5 pixels off doesn't freakin' matter. BTW, there's no technical reason for ClearType to require characters to be on pixel lines, Microsoft just does it because it's more readable.

    @rooh said:

    and on the hardware level (wide colour gamut IPS displays on the MacBooks and the unibody Macs vs. the 72% colour space TN panels typically used with Windows workstations)

    So OS X is better because OS X is, on average, installed on computers with better monitors? Weak, at best. Unless you can demonstrate those IPS displays are somehow less good when plugged into a Windows computer.

    @rooh said:

    Of course, there are designers who agree to work on Windows if there is a good reason, but a designer who honestly prefers to work on Windows is either a masochist, or doesn't know what a colour profile is

    And a designer who thinks color profiles don't exist in Windows is an idiot.

    Look, you've been brainwashed by the Steve Jobs turtleneck army. It's ok, we forgive you. But please, if you're going to give Apple some free marketing, at least get your facts straight.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    1) Windows uses ClearType; OS X doesn't
    2) Windows fudges character positions so that they're on pixel lines; OS X doesn't

    ClearType allows the vertical lines to be on any RGB triple boundary. Suppose your display has the colors going in RGBRGBRGBRGBRGB order. Then a vertical line can be on either RGB or GBR or BRG. This gives 1/3 pixel accuracy.

    @blakeyrat said:

    BTW, there's no technical reason for ClearType to require characters to be on pixel lines, Microsoft just does it because it's more readable.

    Font smoothing (pre-ClearType) in Windows was blurring the glyphs to simulate sub-pixel horizontal accuracy.



  • @dubbreak said:

    As long as I'm forced to support old Delphi apps they can pull my XP box from my cold dead hands. There's no way I'm trying to get that tool chain setup on 7.

    XP virtual machine (so-called "XP mode") under Win7 solves that.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    there's a reason that applications like, say, visualizing CAT/MRI/XRAY images usually use Windows.
     

    That's because most medical software vendors realize that the number of hospitals/clinics/doctors' offices that DON'T use Windows are so small that it's not worth their time to port their application.  Plus, the high-resolution monitors used to read DICOM (Radiology image format) images clinically are basically guaranteed to have Windows drivers, but drivers for any other OS may be hit & miss.  But of course, "There's an app for that."



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @rooh said:
    There are several differencies on the OS level (better colour management throughout the workflow,
    Nope. Well... possibly.

    Windows has all the same color management (and had it long before OS X existed), but some apps fail to use it correctly. Since Adobe's shit stinks so much right now, they might be part of that fail... but there's a reason that applications like, say, visualizing CAT/MRI/XRAY images usually use Windows.

    Agreed. The color argument had some kick back in the Win 3.x days, as the Mac already managed "millions of colors" while most Windows PCs couldn't even get 256 colors. Even when color pallettes started appearing, some apps like PageMaker were able to use the PANTONE pallete, so you could get colors that matched the real printed colors on screen.

    That of course stands while you're comparing System 7 + Aldus/Adobe tools to Win 3.x on 256 or 16-color PCs. Stuff has evolved a lot since then. Also worthy of noting that Adobe was pretty good on the "color-matching" stuff as well.

    @blakeyrat said:

    @rooh said:
    a different, print-opptimized font rendering paradigm)
    First of all, it's not a "paradigm." Freakin' Windows 2000 (and for that matter, Mac OS 😎 did the same smoothing.

    The only reason differences between Windows and OS X font smoothing are:
    1) Windows uses ClearType; OS X doesn't
    2) Windows fudges character positions so that they're on pixel lines; OS X doesn't

    The practical difference is that, yes, ok, OS X's is closer to what you'd see on paper (since it can simulate a high-DPS printout), but in practical terms? A character being at most .5 pixels off doesn't freakin' matter. BTW, there's no technical reason for ClearType to require characters to be on pixel lines, Microsoft just does it because it's more readable. @rooh said:

    and on the hardware level (wide colour gamut IPS displays on the MacBooks and the unibody Macs vs. the 72% colour space TN panels typically used with Windows workstations)
    So OS X is better because OS X is, on average, installed on computers with better monitors? Weak, at best. Unless you can demonstrate those IPS displays are somehow less good when plugged into a Windows computer. @rooh said:
    Of course, there are designers who agree to work on Windows if there is a good reason, but a designer who honestly prefers to work on Windows is either a masochist, or doesn't know what a colour profile is
    And a designer who thinks color profiles don't exist in Windows is an idiot.

    Look, you've been brainwashed by the Steve Jobs turtleneck army. It's ok, we forgive you. But please, if you're going to give Apple some free marketing, at least get your facts straight.

    I remember "Adobe Type Manager" being the schiznit on getting fonts displayed exactly the same on your Mac and on print. ATM also came to Windows at a later time, but that particular Adobe product was born on the Mac. Makes it even more of an irony that Jobs is now waving his dick against Adobe these days. If it weren't for Adobe, they wouldn't have designers flocking to the Macs!

    Finally, some printers are just shit at matching colors. I've had scanned pictures look darker after printing without having to fudge with the color sets.



  • @alegr said:

    @dubbreak said:

    As long as I'm forced to support old Delphi apps they can pull my XP box from my cold dead hands. There's no way I'm trying to get that tool chain setup on 7.

    XP virtual machine (so-called "XP mode") under Win7 solves that.

    I didn't realize XP mode is a virtualized install of XP :$. So it should work no problem. That being said, keeping an old computer that is already setup and remoting in is easier. Delphi 5 is a pain to get going right with the other pluggins and tools that were used to build the old software. It's a day work at least.

    Luckily another dev has converted most of the codebase to DLLs and new code for that project is written in .net. Of course any issues in one of those DLLs that can't be reimplemented quickly in .net has to be fixed in Delphi.



  • @alegr said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    1) Windows uses ClearType; OS X doesn't
    2) Windows fudges character positions so that they're on pixel lines; OS X doesn't

    ClearType allows the vertical lines to be on any RGB triple boundary. Suppose your display has the colors going in RGBRGBRGBRGBRGB order. Then a vertical line can be on either RGB or GBR or BRG. This gives 1/3 pixel accuracy.

    @blakeyrat said:

    BTW, there's no technical reason for ClearType to require characters to be on pixel lines, Microsoft just does it because it's more readable.

    Font smoothing (pre-ClearType) in Windows was blurring the glyphs to simulate sub-pixel horizontal accuracy.

    ... I don't understand why you wrote a post that just re-stated everything I just posted...



  • @Nook Schreier said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    there's a reason that applications like, say, visualizing CAT/MRI/XRAY images usually use Windows.
     

    That's because most medical software vendors realize that the number of hospitals/clinics/doctors' offices that DON'T use Windows are so small that it's not worth their time to port their application.  Plus, the high-resolution monitors used to read DICOM (Radiology image format) images clinically are basically guaranteed to have Windows drivers, but drivers for any other OS may be hit & miss.  But of course, "There's an app for that."

    Well, fair enough, there's no reason a Mac couldn't do it.

    I'm just saying that Windows is obviously suitable for this specific task that requires very, very accurate color reproduction. A task that lives could literally depend on.

    It's more than suitable for your stupid brochure printing.



  • @frits said:

    One time they decided that all fonts on any document that wen to a customer would be the mar-com selected company font "Zwo".
     

    Ah, memories...

    My old employer had an offical Company Font that was both

    • required to be used whenever the name of the company was written
    • too expensive to be purchased for rank-and-file employees
    Fortunately, it turned out that the Company Font looked very similar to (iirc) Times New Roman Italic.



  •  Oh, Marketing. I've seen many people employed in departments with that name make the kinds of errors you mention. They are usually (surprise) vey good at selling their crappy solutions to management though as a lot of them worked in Sales before.

    The big question that I haven't solved, is how to make management understand the geeksquad's point of view without starting a trench war. Any suggestions?



  • @danixdefcon5 said:

    The color argument had some kick back in the Win 3.x days, as the Mac already managed "millions of colors" while most Windows PCs couldn't even get 256 colors.
    Yeah and I also remember when it came to light that "millions of colors" wasn't exactly the truth when it came to Apple displays!



  • In 1992’s RISC OS, “sub-pixel anti-aliasing” meant the same as it did in 2001’s Mac OS X; the positioning of characters at the sub-pixel level:

    The text on the left has anti-aliasing on, but characters positioned to the nearest pixel; on the right, fractional character spacing:

    Yes, the contrast between the system font and scalable type is amusing.

    Mac OS 9’s ATSUI also supported fractional character spacing, but since QuickDraw did not, you got boring old anti-aliasing with the weird stepped spacing seen in the first screenshot above. I think you only got that insufferable nonsense with Carbon applications. ATSUI also rammed automatic smart quotes down your throat, so for example iCab's HTML source was full of smart quotes in your HTML tags, and my alias for a friend on ICQ, got smart-quoted too, as ><(((")> became ><(((”)>

    In addition, the RISC OS splash screen was rendered on the fly, according to your anti-aliasing settings, so depending on whether you enable anti-aliasing, you get one of the following:

    Acorn’s dog food must have tasted good.



  • @RogerWilco said:

    The big question that I haven't solved, is how to make management understand the geeksquad's point of view without starting a trench war. Any suggestions?
    Make an ally in sales/marketting?


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