Monthly Archives September 2011

Legendary Marketing Blunders: New Coke, PS3 and More

marketing-blunders

With Netflix’s poorly planned and received announcement of Qwikster – as discussed in this iMedia blog – we thought it would be a good time to revisit some famous marketing blunders. The point here is not to poke fun. Most companies and brands that find themselves in hot water with the press or public, like the ones included below, often have good intentions and just make honest mistakes; understanding what went wrong and how they dealt with it may help others avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

New Coke. This is, of course, the big one. Based on feedback from focus groups and marketing research, Coca-Cola decided it was time to update its legendary soda (read: make it much sweeter) in the face of competition from Pepsi and other beverages. So, in 1985, Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke.” What it didn’t count on was the fact that people would miss the original Coke – a brand and taste that they grew up with – and the backlash was intense. Coca-Cola quickly pulled New Coke from the shelves and released “Coca-Cola Classic” – a new branding that told people the original formula was back, and would help them forget this whole New Coke thing ever happened. In the years since, Coca-Cola has introduced new sodas and variations on its classic formula, but in smarter ways, including unique logos and names for each (see “Coca-Cola Zero”), while keeping its flagship drink front-and-center.

PS3 announcement. The videogame market seems to go in cycles. One brand dominates for a generation (or two) of consoles, gets arrogant, and then falls from grace. Sony signaled to the gaming world that it was ready for its turn down the slide with the unveil of the PlayStation 3. Revealed at E3 2006, the price was infamously announced onstage as, “599 U.S. dollars” – higher than most had predicted or expected. The number then became videogame fan shorthand for “terrible idea” in gaming message boards around the world. To make matters worse, the price was explained by Sony execs in mind-boggling ways, like then Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Ken Kutaragi’s much-ridiculed, “[Our goal is] for consumers to think to themselves, ‘I will work more hours to buy one.’ We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else.” Just a couple of years after launch, the PS3 was rebranded, redesigned, reduced in price, and Kutaragi was gone. Today, the PS3 is still going strong.

Kevin Smith Vs. Southwest Airlines. Kevin Smith was on board a Southwest Airlines flight when he was asked to leave the plane, told he was too obese to fly safely. (Southwest has a “Customer of Size” policy, requiring heavyset customers to buy two seats if they can’t fit comfortably with both armrests down.) According to Smith, no one around him was complaining, and he was indeed able to fit in his seat with both armrests down. Southwest, not knowing who Smith was – he’s the director of Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, geek hero and frequent Twitter user with a massive following – removed him from the plane. Smith took to Twitter, firing off a barrage of angry messages detailing the situation and eviscerating Southwest. In the end, Southwest offered an apology, but stood by its policy.

NBC Vs. Conan O’Brien Vs. Jay Leno. It’s hard to believe that things got as bad as they did for NBC during 2009’s late night programming reshuffle, but then again, maybe it isn’t. In 2004, with the contracts for both Conan O’Brien (host of Late Night) and Jay Leno (host of The Tonight Show) on their way to expiration, NBC announced that it would hand over The Tonight Show reins to O’Brien in 2009. O’Brien’s dream was coming true, and while Leno wasn’t thrilled, he played ball, even inviting his future replacement onto his show to pass the baton. Not wanting to lose him to a competitor, it was later announced that Leno would stay with the network and act as O’Brien’s lead-in, with 10pm’s The Jay Leno Show. Everyone was happy – for awhile.

Historically, local news broadcasts have been very profitable for affiliate stations, and this new late night format – which would make Leno the lead-in for the 11pm news – had station owners worried. They were soon validated; both shows struggled with ratings – Leno in particular was tanking – and the local affiliates revolted. Trying to squash the unrest, NBC honcho Jeff Zucker suggested moving Leno to 11pm and The Tonight Show to after midnight – making it, in effect, The Tomorrow Show, and showing an odd disregard for the show’s legacy – while O’Brien took to lampooning NBC on the air, making for some electrifying television.

Ultimately, NBC really just wanted one of the two hosts to leave so they could get back to the old format ASAP. As it played out, O’Brien left and started a new show at TBS, wrote a heartfelt op-ed in the New York Times about the whole situation, and ended up looking better than any of the other players; Leno went back to The Tonight Show, saying it was all just “business”; and NBC returned to the old late night schedule that pleased everyone, but probably suffered the most damage to its image in many, many years, for both its treatment of O’Brien and its inability to manage the crisis.

JetBlue strands passengers. JetBlue was kind of the Netflix of airlines for most of the 2000s: it was perceived as the young upstart, customer-friendly, and more fashionable than its bigger competitors. But a lot of that goodwill was lost with the February 2007 ice-storm debacle that saw passengers left waiting on tarmacs and not allowed to disembark from their planes for over 8 hours, or stranded at airports with little to no info on the status of their flights. (JetBlue had a policy of never canceling flights, which resulted in a lot of the confusion.) It was a real black eye for the airline, whose CEO went on a damage-control tour – including a classic David Letterman appearance – and issued a Customer Bill of Rights in response. JetBlue remains popular today, having mostly recovered from this incident, and has become more pro-active in regards to weather (“Travel Alerts” are clearly posted on its homepage), flight-status, and customer relations (see the “Speak Up” link on its site) than ever before.

If the mood should strike you, tell us about another interesting marketing snafu in the comments section.

Social Media: Best Trends With Benefits

social media trends

In our optimized, analyzed and digitized marketplace of today, it’s great to see that a common link in many social media trends are driven by emotional/relationship currency. The human factor is again the “it” – not “bit” – player, because people simply click and convert on when they covet something. Said differently, coveting is about connecting, bonding, relating, protecting, believing and acting out of a feeling. It’s emotionally assertive and aggressive, not passive.

Here’s a quick scan of three trends in today’s social landscape:

1. Measurement Matters – Stop spending a lot on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter just to get the likes and followers. When you haven’t proved a campaign’s effectiveness on a business impact level – think ROI – it makes little sense. Today, more than ever, we need to make sure that what we are recommending is defensible/trackable and then act and spend like processed crazy people!

2. Gang Tackling Love – Social media and people in general pile on big time for the things they hate, but of late, we have seen a lot of piling on relating to happiness, sharing and joy. Brands have been much of the energy behind fueling this Summer/Fall of Love (see Coca-Cola’s stunning Facebook campaign centered around “Happiness”).

3. Hope Springs Nocturnal – Social media never sleeps! It is the first true 24/7/365 platform. Could anything be more true? From Facebook romance to Tweets from the red carpet to checking in or checking it out on Foursquare, nightlife and social life lives for the young – and not so young – like never before!

Blogs and Podcasts: Writing and Promotion Tips

blog-writing-tips

Upon reading a recent Search Engine Land post regarding blogs and why so many fail, I felt it was time to take a quick stock of how the blog – and by extension, its audio-form cousin, the podcast – landscapes have changed, and what factors impact their success.

Part of the reason blogs and podcasts (which is now a market that’s just as saturated) fail is because the creation of the content is only part of the work. It’s the same as any business – you have to use your network, call in favors, and post ads (in this case, links) in order to actively promote it. I have asked friends for retweets, and have had friends ask their friends for retweets. I don’t do it for every post of course; but if you have something exciting that you believe in, then self-promote. No one else will do it for you. And don’t just use Twitter and Facebook – reach out to fan sites, other blogs, message boards and directories. This isn’t to say you should spam your link, but there’s nothing wrong with a friendly, “I thought you might be interested in this” email or post. Over time, people will become fans and revisit.

Relying on search to drive blog (or podcast) popularity is antiquated. Don’t misunderstand – writing SEO friendly titles, URLs, and using the right keywords help, especially for long-tail visits. But you need to be pretty active to make one of these things a success – as detailed above – unless you happen to be one of the few entrants in a space, and then people may find you. There’s a surprisingly small number of, for example, New York Rangers-themed podcasts. My guess is that I could start one tomorrow and build up a sizable audience after a few months. But that’s not all.

Scheduling is extremely important in a blog or podcast’s identity. If you start out as a blog with daily updates, and then fall off that schedule, whatever readers you have will most likely abandon your site for something else. Maintaining a constant presence is of utmost importance if that’s the identity you want your blog to have. If you write weekly, high-impact insights, that’s fine. But pick a schedule and stick with it. The same goes for podcasts – as soon as you miss a show, you’re giving your audience a reason to find a more reliable program. This may seem like simple, obvious advice, but failing to adhere to an established schedule is one of the biggest reasons why blogs fail or never achieve their potential.

It really always comes down to content. If you put in the work and come up with content that no one else has, people will visit even if you have to bring the link to them. And there’s nothing wrong with that, really. If I started a Rangers podcast, I could sit in my living room and record me and some friends talking about the last game. That might get me a following. But what about if I reached out to the Rangers and got Derek Stepan as a guest? Or tried to get a press badge for not just games, but other NHL events? Or went to an away game and interviewed fans of the opposing team? It would make for content no other podcast has. The same is true for blogs.

You have to assume that someone is writing a blog similar to yours, and he or she is just as good a writer. If that’s the case, you need a differentiating factor – something you do on your blog that they don’t. Maybe it’s interviews, maybe it’s something else. Think of something you look forward to most in a magazine, and try and make that happen on your own blog.

Ultimately, you’ll get out what you put in. And that goes for quality content, and then getting out there and pushing it.

f8 Conference: Takeaways on New Facebook Changes

During yesterday’s f8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook’s official conference that brings together the world’s leading social network and developers, Facebook announced plans for an entirely new user experience on its platform.

Most of these features are not yet public, but hold both positive and negative implications for users and marketers. There are still a lot of questions that have not been answered yet, but here are some of the major themes and takeaways from these new announcements:

History Will Be Reborn – “Facebook Timeline” will soon become a new buzzword if it hasn’t already. The concept behind this new look and feel is to make your profile a more complete story than what it is today. As it stands, items that come up in your news feed appear for a brief period of time and then are lost, unless you scroll to the bottom and keep hitting the “more posts” button. This new change will take your important events and bring them back to the surface so that you can re-experience what happened and in some case discover new aspects of the event that you may have not known about.

This is going to make storytelling more important for brands. If brand pages do go this way, I imagine the ability for a brand to tell its history and emphasize tradition within their own pages. It will no longer be about the immediate status update but rather an overall narrative that the page will tell. Brands will have to be much more strategic with what story they want to share with the consumer.

Use Friends for Discovery – The second major change that comes from this timeline initiative will be a new way to discover products, places, music, movies, etc. The ticker, which has already appeared in the upper right of a user’s profile, will still show each and every action a friend takes. But if multiple friends are engaging with a certain product at the same time, that becomes a highlighted story and lets the user discover it based on a trend of usage amongst their friends.

Marketers will have to be extremely strategic here. Not only will your overall story have to be shown on the page, but each experience will have to be engaging enough to make users want to share it with their friends. By getting an action to show up in multiple users’ feeds, you have a chance to have it be seen by a lot more people.

Graphrank – One of the largest promotion vehicles for brands is an innovative or reward-based contest or promotion. “Like us and then enter” is messaging that is frequently employed by brands on pages to encourage this interaction. Already, people have been arguing that a Like is not the true value, and with this new rollout, apps that stress a one-time engagement will become even less important. Starting now, an app will only have to ask for permission once and then every action will be recorded in the timeline. The ticker will still record every engagement, but the timeline will hold summaries of a user’s activity.

The new addition of Graphrank will make user engagement even more important. The quick idea behind Graphrank is a personalized scoring experience based on a user’s friends and personal engagements, and repeated engagements over time will make that score higher.

Visual Importance – Another recurring theme from the launch announcement was the importance of aesthetics in this new experience. From the additional large photo that will be at the top of the timeline area to the layout choices that designers will have to work with when deciding what stories to tell with their applications, visual cues will help increase engagement.

Marketers will have to re-look at their asset libraries and give users new assets that can help them make the most of their profile. It could be as simple as offering a pre-sized image that is provided by a brand to a user to plug into these new areas, or designing new assets that are a better fit.
In the timeline, each story will be more popular with a powerful image that can be associated with it. Brands need to make sure their assets can be used to help a user tell certain stories.

There was a lot more that came out of the f8 conference, and we will be keeping a close eye on it as different features are rolled out over the next couple months.

The Flightpath Roundtable: Google+

Google+

Welcome to the first installment of The Flightpath Roundtable, a new feature where we’ll gather various Flightpath employees for a discussion on the hottest topics in digital.

Today, we’re talking about Google+, Google’s fledgling social network. Google+ was launched with much fanfare and expectation, and is perhaps the greatest threat to Facebook’s dominance. But how has it fared so far? We talk Google+’s Circles innovation, how Facebook has responded, and what the future may hold in the social network wars.

The participants in this discussion:

Dan Brooks, Digital Marketing Associate
John Lee, Director of Digital Marketing and Analytics
Cliff Medney, Chief Creative Strategist
John Whitcomb, Social Media Strategist

Dan: So we’re talking about Google+. What’s everyone’s take on where it stands now, whether or not you think it’s been a success up to this point, and will it be a success in the future?

John L: It’s really their second attempt at social media. Their first attempt with Wave just kind of fell flat, which could’ve been caused by the bad publicity they got initially, because of the privacy issues. Honestly, I don’t have a Google+ account. But it’s basically not too different from Facebook. Whether or not they’re going to be able to surpass Facebook, it’s highly unlikely. Google, although they do things very well, I don’t really know where they stand in terms of social media. They’ve been trying to penetrate that market for a long time now, and they’ve kind of fallen short in comparison to Facebook.

Dan: You mention how they failed with Wave. Do you think they’re big enough that they can kind of will this to be a success on some level, and just have it around so that they’re in the space?

John L: I don’t think you can really be in that kind of position where you can just sort of have a piece of it. The way it seems with these social networking platforms, you’re either it, and everyone uses, or you’re gonna die out, like MySpace or Friendster. People need that sort of common platform to share everything, and whether or not people want to use two platforms, I don’t really see that happening either.

Dan: Like VHS versus Beta.

John L: Exactly.

John W: Well, there’s already two platforms that exist too, that people are competing against, and that’s Facebook and Twitter. Google is actually the third major platform that’s coming into play. Twitter is still considered a social network that you use for sharing items throughout your social graph.

Dan: Twitter’s a little different. It’s not as robust.

John W: No, it doesn’t have the same features.

Dan: Well, you’re our social media expert. What’s your take on Google+ so far?

John W: I think it depends on what your definition of success is. From when it started, it quickly grew because of all the press that it got, and one of the main reasons is the Circles feature on Google+. That’s an advantage it has over Facebook. Typically, right now with Facebook, your status update goes out to everyone, and you have no control over who sees what. But with Circles, you really get to pick and choose.

John L: But in Facebook you still have a feature where you can sort of have different groups, right? Where in those different groups, you have your posts and pictures, and select who has access to those. It’s not as well defined as Circles, but…

John W: You can set it up, but it’s very clunky. It’s not very easy for the user to grasp how to use it, it’s kind of hidden behind the actual settings of Facebook. Whereas with Google+, it’s a main component.

Cliff: Isn’t Facebook doing Circles or a Circles-esque kind of thing?

John L: I think they’re trying to refine it.

Dan: I know that there’s a drop-down now. When you make a status update, you can pick who you’re sharing it with.

John L: My wife’s biggest complaint about Facebook when she started using it was the lack of a Circles feature. But I’m sure it’s definitely high on their list in terms of refining it, especially since Google came out with it.

Cliff: And it’s the kind of handle that everyone defines it by. You know, while there may be many other reasons to think that it’s very good or maybe not not so good, Circles is, if not an obvious thing, it seems like a very human thing in a kind of environment or venue that’s sometimes viewed as not-so-human. Things that Zuckerberg did that were just either stupid or viewed as ruthless, insensitive; so to have something as emotionally rich as Circles, which just as a pure play metaphor for your circle of friends – where there was such a cavalier sense of friend-dom to begin with – turns it all on its head to a degree, and re-institutes a little bit of humanity, in the kind of oxymoronic sense, of what social media should always have been.

Dan: I actually made a post about this on Google+. I think the Circles are a great idea, but if I had somebody who I considered a friend, and then I found out they put me in their Acquaintances circle, I’d be kind of offended. [Laughs] You know? And a lot of people kind of agreed with me on that. It’s giving you more control over things, but at the same time…

John W: It’s making you define.

Dan: It’s making you define your relationships.

John W: Right, which can both be good and bad, depending on who the individual you’re defining is.

Cliff: Do we have any cases or situations where friendships have been broken? Where you thought you might have ranked pretty high –

Dan: And then you find out you don’t.

Cliff: [Laughs] Oops!

Google+

Dan: The other thing about Google+ so far, is that I find whenever I login to check, there are like, no updates from anyone. Granted, my network on there is not as big my Facebook network. I think I have like 25 friends on Google+ compared to maybe a few hundred on Facebook, but it’s the same two people posting updates on Google+.

John L: It’s because everyone’s still using Facebook. That goes back to what I was saying about having two competing platforms. Nobody wants to deal with two platforms to get status updates, or check in on what their friends were doing. It’s kind of lame to post things twice on both of them, you know?

Dan: Someone called me on that, in fact.

John L: [Laughs] Yeah. “I just saw this on your Facebook. Why are you posting it on here, too?”

John W: I would agree with that. I even find trouble logging into Google+ on a regular basis. The Circles thing is the big difference, but if Facebook can master the Circles, then people are still using Facebook so often that Google+ will most likely just go off the radar. It already has, in my opinion.

John L: Yeah. There was a lot of hype about it – a lot surrounding the controversy with privacy, but then it just kind of died out.

Dan: Hitwise was saying that usage peaked in July, and then took a dip in August, and it hasn’t hit those numbers since.

John L: Yeah. People were curious and then it’s like, “How is this better than Facebook?” The Circles thing, if they think that’s the winning component, I don’t think it’s enough. Because Facebook is probably going to develop something very similar, if not better.

Facebook

Dan: Social plays more of a role in search now – they incorporate what gets shared in social into search results.

John L: They definitely are. I mean, they’ve been doing it for quite awhile with real-time search results. Having Twitter feeds within their search results, you don’t really see that as often, because they’ve found that not many people actually click on that. But even pages that incorporate the Facebook Like button…is it part of the algorithm? I think somebody from Google actually did admit that it’s part of the algorithm. It doesn’t hold as much weight as a backlink, but social components on a page I think are going to get more and more heavily weighted in terms of how pages show up in search results.

Dan: They have a lot at stake in Google+. Can Google give more weight to Google+ in the search algorithm, as a way of forcing it on the world?

John L: If they want to include that into their algorithm, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

John W: But couldn’t they go as far as not only including it, but making it such a major factor that it diminishes Facebook, and they drive users to Google+? I mean, no one regulates them, so couldn’t they basically just change their algorithm, and all of a sudden only Google+ results are only showing up in search?

John L: I think that would be a little too obvious. Google, their whole business is around ads. All they’re trying to do is serve relevant search results to their users, and if they start serving up pages that are heavily influenced by Google+ users, that would sort of contradict everything that they’re trying to do. To be that biased for their own benefit that way, I don’t think it would be good for the user, and again, contradict what their overall mission is, which is to serve up quality information.

John W: So in other words, even though they could, you don’t think they would, because it would hurt their overall search business.

John L: I think so. I don’t think it’s in their long term best interests, just to push a social media platform. They would kind of turn into that ugly, big, evil corporation that they’ve always claimed they don’t want to be.

Dan: What about brand pages? They’ve deleted Mashable’s and everyone’s brand pages.

John W: Well, they’ve made announcements that it’s officially coming at some point. And that’s why they deleted the other ones, because they didn’t want people putting up false brand pages that weren’t officially recognized by Google. Once they get this process in place and they go through, to me, that’ll be the most interesting aspect of what Google+ is – especially from a marketing perspective, is how the brands could use it. If there is still usage at that point, the ability for a brand to be able to target users based on certain criteria by putting their own fans in Circles, and then only sending messages out to just those particular fans – that’s a pretty powerful tool for any kind of brand that’s looking to market, because you have that relevance in the message already. Whereas before you’re blasting out to somebody who likes you, because they pressed the Like button, but they may not be interested in that particular update that you have that day. And so you can better target and make your messaging even more relevant, if that feature comes into play.

Cliff: At the end of the day, how does a company overtake Facebook? These guys seem like they’re not going to be giving up a lot of their lead. What would it take? More than Circles, what could it be?

Dan: If you go back to Friendster, when I used it, I thought it was great. It’s like, “What could be better than this?” And then MySpace came, and that was great, and I thought, “What could be better than this?” And you’re kind of introduced to things, and ways of using it, that you didn’t know you wanted.

John L: That’s very true.

Dan: I don’t know that Circles is that for me yet, but I think it’s going to come along at some point. Either Google+ introduces that new thing, or something else comes along that will take Facebook’s audience away.

John W: I think it will depend on how Facebook fights back to each of them. For this one, it’s very easy, as we mentioned earlier, for them to kind of take this new feature that Google came out with – Circles – and import it into their own system and continue their dominance. If somebody can come up with something that’s truly unique to their experience that Facebook can’t copy, then I think that’s when Facebook fails.

Great Scott! 2011 Nike MAG Marketing Hits 88mph

2011-nike-mag

A generation’s dream came true this week with Nike’s unveiling of the 2011 Nike MAG – self-lacing sneakers inspired by Marty McFly’s kicks in Back to the Future II, which were the envy of children everywhere in the 1980s. The reason we’re talking about it here? The marketing campaign – mostly digital, with short video clips, websites and online word-of-mouth – has thus far been brilliant, hitting all the right nostalgia/curiosity/funny buttons.

It started with a YouTube clip called “McFly’s Closet,” posted on September 6 by an account named DocEmmettBrown88. (Awesome.) The clip has received over 1.5 million views in just 3 days.

And yesterday came the launch of nikemag.ebay.com, featuring a great new short with Bill Hader and Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd – looking and sounding just like we remember – as well as the significant announcement that Nike would be auctioning off 1,500 pairs of Nike MAGs, with all proceeds going to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. It’s something totally unexpected and simply good-spirited – all the more because eBay Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki will be matching donations up to $50 million.

This is an example of marketing at its best: fun, inventive, and completely feel-good. And it makes us excited for what’s coming next. Kudos to Nike – now we just need those hoverboards, and the human race will have achieved perfection.

Q&A with Jon Finkel, Magic Champion, On Gizmodo Date Scandal & Alyssa Bereznak

jon-finkel

The Internet was set ablaze on Monday when Gizmodo intern Alyssa Bereznak wrote an essay detailing her OKCupid-arranged dates with Jon Finkel. The reason for the resulting firestorm: in her post, Bereznak harshly leveled Finkel for committing the crime of being a world-renowned Magic the Gathering champion, and not posting that detail in his OKCupid profile. (Apparently, being awesome at something played by hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people is a big turn off.) Magic and non-Magic fans came to Finkel’s defense in droves, and the story has received national coverage.

We recently corresponded with Finkel over email to get his take on the dates, the article, and the world’s reaction to both.

Flightpath: I want to start off by asking if you could tell your side of the story. What was the tone of your dates like with Alyssa? Did she seem upset or angry in person when you revealed you were a Magic champion?

Jon Finkel: They were completely uneventful. Two people being friendly and talking without much of a spark. Unless I am completely awful at reading people, which despite being a Magic playing nerd, I’m not – no one was upset or angry.

Flightpath: I’m kind of curious – for someone who would turn around and write a pretty scathing article about you because she doesn’t like one of your hobbies, how did you actually connect on OKCupid? Did you have anything in common?

Jon Finkel: She seemed bright and was in grad school for journalism, which I think is pretty awesome. When she told me to Google her, I found a heartfelt article she’d written about Ayn Rand and her dad and that sealed it for me.

Flightpath: How did you find out about Alyssa’s post, in which she really kind of eviscerated you just for being good at a game? How did you feel?

Jon Finkel: I rode home with my partner from work. He dropped me off where he usually does, a few blocks from my apartment, and after I got out I checked my iPhone. I had 40 emails from my Magic playing email list alone, laughing about it – being supportive in between brutal mockery – which was pretty much the standard. I definitely got a weird chill down my spine and was thinking, “What just happened?” I think the word I used before was “violated.” When I got home it became pretty clear the Internet had my back, but it still took a few hours for that weird, icky feeling to fade.

Flightpath: Are you surprised at how this thing has kind of caught wildfire on the Internet, and a lot of people have come to your defense?

Jon Finkel: I was very pleasantly surprised. I mean, reading the article, it seems like it would be most people’s response, but it was awesome that before it had really registered on my radar, countless people all over the world already had my back. It’s also nice to know that all the young Magic players still remember an old “retired” player like myself. I’m reading a lot of articles/posts where people seem to think I’m still the champion or the best or going to tons of tournaments, which is not the case, and hasn’t been since 2003. But it’s great to see so many people still care.

Flightpath: Have you had any interaction on the phone or over email with Alyssa after the story blew up? If not, would you talk to her?

Jon Finkel: Nope. I probably would just say, “Whoops.” Clearly this worked out positively for me and not so hot for her. People are really being brutal to her, much more than is necessary. She’s still young, she did something that wasn’t that cool, but in the grand scheme of things it’s really just not that bad, and doesn’t invalidate her as a person or anything.

Flightpath: Finally, are you done with OKCupid? Or will this just go in the “Bad Date” trash heap, and you start again?

Jon Finkel: I’m pretty good at understanding that one event doesn’t really mean that much, and not extrapolating from it to assume the whole world will be like that. I think OKCupid’s a great site. I actually think one of the founders is a PTQ player (semi-pro equivalent) who lives in New York. Maybe he’ll end up coming to play with us sometime. I think I will take a little bit of a break though.