July 26, 2011

The Long Tail in Effect: A Marketplace Radio Moment

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango

American Public Media MarketplaceIn 2008, I blogged about upstart electronics brand Skullcandy, which I had encountered at a Vegas convention. Three years later, that article continues to do its deed, turning up Wednesday when reporter Jeff Horwich of public radio’s Marketplace went searching…

Skullcandy went full IPO that day, so Horwich called to get my latest take on the brand. Hence, I scored my 15 seconds of spotlight (if radio has a spotlight). You can read the full Marketplace transcript on Skullcandy here — I’ll just share my bit:

“Today’s IPO values the company at more than $500 million. Freddy Nager talks about Skullcandy with his marketing students at UCLA. Nager says Skullcandy has done a masterful job dressing up decent Chinese headphones. Unfortunately, other people can do that, too.

Freddy Nager: So now any celebrity who considers himself or herself a brand can call up a Chinese factory and say, ‘hey I want my name on a product.’ It really does pose a huge burden on Skullcandy to always be even edgier-than-thou.

Nager says he’s got a new assignment for his class: design a pair of headphones that’s cooler than Skullcandy.”

Sure, that was fun. It also perfectly coincided with my lecture on blogging that night at UCLA Extension. By blogging about an uncommon topic (Skullcandy instead of, say, Apple), I came up on the Google radar. That’s what Wired editor Chris Anderson would describe as a “Long Tail” effect: thanks to the Internet, niche products like Skullcandy articles can get discovered and deliver value for years.

The incident also supported my lessons about the Long Tail, for which I made my students read the comic-book adaptation of Anderson’s work (see excerpt below).

Yes, it’s a multimedia world we live in, where a blog about a convention exhibit leads to a public radio interview that supports an in-class lecture on a comic book by a Wired editor. And just for kicks, I’ll be tweeting this article, too.

Yes, I love what I do.

The Long Tail by Smarter Comics

Excerpt from “The Long Tail,” written by Chris Anderson, published by Smarter Comics, and illustrated by my friend Shane Clester.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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