Campaigns for a Holiday That Marketers Love Monday, Feb 14 2011 

Campaigns for a Holiday That Marketers Love

Published: February 13, 2011

IF you listen carefully this Valentine’s Day, you may hear men shouting love declarations from a mountaintop in California. But before you start looking at the man by your side and wondering why he’s not doing the same thing, know that the screaming men are were hired by AT&T for the company’s Valentine’s Day promotion.

Mars Chocolate hopes romantics will pay for custom messages on M&M’s to make heartfelt declarations.

AT&T hired “mountain men” to make proclamations of love from a mountaintop.

The campaign, called “Shout your love from the mountaintop,” began Thursday and encouraged users to post declarations of love to an AT&T Facebook page. The mountain men, a group of actors equipped with HTC Inspire 4G phones, are to shout the declarations from the top of Mount Baldy in Southern California from morning to evening on Monday.

“It’s just a fun Valentine’s experience that takes communication to a new level,” said Valerie Vargas, the vice president for advertising at AT&T.

The mountaintop campaign is just one example of how marketers are taking new approaches to the most romantic holiday of the year. AT&T worked with BBDO New York, part of the Omnicom Group and the company’s creative agency of record, on the campaign.

“You do get so tired of clichéd Valentine’s promotions,” said Ralph Watson, the co-executive creative director for AT&T business at BBDO. “We took great pains to make sure we didn’t just have heart stuff.”

Users whose messages were chosen for the campaign will receive a link to a video of the shout that they can send to their friends or post on their Facebook page. The shouts are also being streamed live on the AT&T Facebook page at for the duration of the event.

Last Friday, the company encouraged users to post Twitter messages using the tag “#LoveShout,” which AT&T paid Twitter to promote as a trend. The campaign included digital banner ads and video ads that ran on sites like AOL, CNET, Fox News, MSN and Yahoo.

Several Web videos showing the mountain men in different settings were also posted on the Facebook page in the days before Valentine’s Day. AT&T will also have video messages from the mountain men for participants whose messages did not get shouted.

Those seeking a more subtle approach to declaring their love may take a cue from the M&M character Red, who is being featured in the Valentine’s Day campaign for My M&M’s, the personalized version of the chocolate candies.

The brand, part of the Mars family of food products, promoted the candies through a variety of digital and traditional media, including 15- and 30-second television commercials featuring Red sitting on a bench with an attractive companion who says she loves him, but he can’t say it in return.

“Red has trouble showing his emotional side,” said Jason Lucas, the senior creative director for BBDO New York, the agency of record for My M&M’s. “The only way he can say it is with the candies.”

The full-color ads that ran in print media, including Us Weekly and People magazine and as inserts in Sunday newspapers, featured Red lying in a come-hither pose on a elegant candlelit dining table decorated with scattered rose petals. The words “Be my valentine” were etched on his back.

Other elements of the campaign included radio spots offering discounts on My M&M’s, Facebook ads, banner ads, e-mail promotions and a Twitter handle, MyMMscom, with which followers could share gift ideas and get discount codes for the candies. Users can customize the candies by choosing from 25 colors and adding images or text.

“What better way to celebrate love than to customize it?” said Lauren Nodzak, a spokeswoman for Mars Chocolate North America. The most popular messages are “Be mine,” “You make me melt” and, of course, “I Love You,” Ms. Nodzak said.

Valentine’s Day also prompts people to look for love. Paul Breton, the director of corporate communications at the Web site, said many dating sites tended to have an uptick in visitors this time of year. The company is offering users a free sampling of its service through the month of February. It also is working with the artist Hugh MacLeod on a Facebook application featuring the artist’s love-themed drawings.

“As a company, as a brand, we’re all about creating more love in the world and people finding fun ways to do that,” Mr. Breton said. The Facebook app allows users to post selected drawings by Mr. MacLeod on other Facebook users’ pages or send the art as an e-mail.

Users who “like” the Facebook page also receive a discount on Mr. MacLeod’s artwork. The app will function through the month on the eHarmony pages for the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as on the Facebook page for, eHarmony’s dating service for same-sex couples.

But the artwork is not limited to being shared with potential lovers. Mr. Breton said the company tried to include pieces that could be sent to friends and family by including cards with messages like “Thank you for … you.”

Mr. MacLeod, who is single, said he considered himself a hopeless romantic.

“Its hard to be a cartoonist if you’re not fundamentally interested in what drives people,” Mr. MacLeod said. “Love is a big driver.”


Solar power farms face cash cut, government warns Monday, Feb 7 2011 

7 February 2011 Last updated at 15:54 GMT 

Solar power farms face cash cut, government warns

Model of a farm house with solar panels in adjacent field Farms threaten to milk the system of cash

The government is acting to stop a proliferation of solar power farms.

It says they threaten to use up too much of the money set aside to fund the new system of “feed-in tariffs”.

These tariffs are the cash subsidies given to people who generate electricity by putting solar panels or wind turbines on their homes.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne says big solar farms threaten to use up the available cash for homes and small businesses who want to use the system.

Last October planning permission was granted for the UK’s first purpose-built solar farm, in Cornwall, and with up to 6,000 individual panels.

“Because of the risk of an increasing number of large scale solar farms which could push feed-in tariffs (FITs) off track, and the need to give industry added certainty to invest, the coalition is today announcing a comprehensive review into the scheme,” said Mr Huhne.

“Large scale solar installations weren’t anticipated under the FITs scheme we inherited and I’m concerned this could mean that money meant for people who want to produce their own green electricity has the potential to be directed towards large scale commercial solar projects.”

ConcernThe system of feed-in tariffs was first launched in April 2010 by the previous Labour government.

However there has been growing concern that the system might be milked by businesses which simply install solar panels on a large scale over fields.


“This review is exactly the kind of move that will kill off the confidence of investors who have flocked to take advantage of the scheme”

Friends of the Earth

The issue was highlighted in January by the BBC Money Box programme on Radio 4.

“There have been some very ambitious statements from large companies about the size of solar exploitation,” Greg Barker, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change told the programme.

Although the FITS scheme will now undergo a “comprehensive” review, to report by the end of this year, the government said there would be a much quicker enquiry into large scale generators which produce more than 50 kW – the output of about 20 typical homes under the scheme.

Schemes above this size now face a change to their tariffs “as soon as practicable” the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said.

Existing tariffs for everyone else are scheduled to stay as they are until April 2010, unless the review also reveals “a need for greater urgency,” DECC added.

OutputSo far about 21,000 schemes are registered to take advantage of the FIT scheme, which has just under £400m allocated to it.

The vast majority of these are homes and use photovoltaic solar panels.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) said feed-in tariffs had been a great success and argued they should not be restricted.

“The government should be planning to expand the scheme, not holding a knee-jerk review aimed at applying the financial brakes,” said FoE.

“This review is exactly the kind of move that will kill off the confidence of investors who have flocked to take advantage of the scheme.”

The typical home installation produces about 2.5 kW.

Homeowners are told they can earn £800 a year from their tariff payments, based on the subsidy of 41.3p per kilo watt hour.

This payment is index-linked and guaranteed for 25 years, and households also save an estimated £120 a year from lower heating bills.

However the homeowners who take part have to pay for the cost of installing the equipment, which can be about £10,000.

At present the maximum size of an installation under the FIT scheme is five megawatts (5,000 kW).