The mysterious disappearance of Michael Carney

Michael Carney is a marketer that sends out an occasional newsletter to the community. It’s quite good (the last one even quoted my father :-).  Michael is a influential guy on the NZ scene – he even wrote an excellent book on Trade Me.

I do recommend that you subscribe t0 the newsletter if you are in the advertising game in NZ.

However for an advertising newsletter the marketing is woeful.

Firstly the newsletters are not posted online, so Michael has not ‘joined the conversation’, and we bloggers cannot link to or comment on his content.

Secondly, Michael is part of the Grey Group, who are:

“a subsidiary of WPP, a global communications organisation with 568 offices in 152 cities across 87 countries.”

GreyGroup  recently redesigned their website. Can you see the link to the newsletter?

It’s not there. In fact there are only 4 working links on that page – “more about us“, “check out our work“, and links to website creators “Cactuslab” and “Supermodel” (not a good look guys).

Thirdly – there is actually a blog – well hidden though.

Micheal already had a blog – in fact it was one of the ones I follow(ed), though posting has been on hold for a while.  That old blog is a fairly traditional WordPress number – simple but clear in design.

The new blog – well, it sucks.


Here are some faults:

The blog is hidden behind two links from the homepage and a crazy url:,34, . would be better – and no – it does not work.

If you click in a post, you must click on the ‘blog‘ text to get back. That’s the text not the big ‘blog’ graphic on the top.

The posts are all clipped, so you have to click ‘read more’ to see the whole thing. This may initially drive pageviews, but not for long – we don’t have time to click everything.

You can comment, but there is no indication that there is a comment on a post.

The colours, design – it just feels bland, drab – uninteresting. There is no personality.

Indeed – that’s the missing link here. Where is Michael? The star writer? The driver of traffic? The respected voice of marketing in New Zealand?  Michael should be front and center, not just on the blog, but on the front page of the GreyGroup website. The stellar newsletter should be placed as a series of articles on the blog.

For now the website is saying  that GreyGroup are pretty clueless about this interweb thing. Please change it.

Published by Lance Wiggs


6 replies on “The mysterious disappearance of Michael Carney”

  1. Dear Lance

    Thanks (I think) for your comments. Nice of you to be interested in what we’re doing.

    As it happens, we do have a little bit of a clue about this online space – been playing here for quite a while (circa 1988 via CompuServe). The paucity of links on the homepage is a stylistic choice, not an omission.

    Despite your kind words about my writing (my ears burn), I must point out that the website is about all of us at GREYgroup, and our collective advertising services. The newsletter and blog are just a means of expressing our opinions, not the main attraction.

    Still, we have taken your observations on board and will be taking them into account in the next iteration of our not-quite-two-week-old new website. In particular, we’ll amend the blogging layout to display full text of recent posts, and flag comments.

    As for the Marketing Digest, we’ve deliberately kept it offline to encourage subscriptions. Yes, we know that means that bloggers such as yourself can’t link to past items, so perhaps we’ll have another think about that. When the blogosphere speaks, we listen!

    As for the overall design – we love it. Your mileage may differ.

    Thanks again for thinking of us. We’ll try to do better next time!

    Michael Carney


  2. good to see you appear here in the comments reply Michael, and I look forward to the new website. I’d look forward more to the newsletter going online – subscriptions are so passe.

    It may be about all of you at Greygroup, but that doesn’t mean you should be hidden. Moreover we are not seeing any of the other personalities emerge.



  3. Michael – one more thing – On the design – to me the homepage it doesn’t pass the basic “don’t make me think” rules.
    Why is so little clickable when pieces look like they should be?

    What does the page want me to do? Why am I here?



  4. Fair questions, Lance. But you have to put the website into the context of our target market: potential advertiser clients.

    When they come to an agency website, they typically have two burning questions:

    * Who are these people?

    * What have they done?

    That’s why the clickable links go to “About Us” and “Our Work”.

    Still, we don’t want to be dogmatic about it, so — your wish is our command — we’ve just added text links at the bottom of the home page, pointing to the key sections of the site. Head to (refresh your cache if required) to see the result.



  5. “I’d look forward more to the newsletter going online – subscriptions are so passe”

    LANCE: I disagree that email newsletters are so passe. A LOT of people still user this as their primary means of getting information. Not all of us are RSS subscribing, social networking, blog reading guru’s. I personally don’t read much that isn’t via RSS but I know a lot of people who don’t even know what this is.

    In my opinion a hybrid approach is best – Email, RSS and website. Give the people what they want, how they want it and in the end you will win.

    MICHAEL: You should also hyperlink the logos for the individual companies. Basic rule is that if it looks like it should be clickable, make it clickable! It is frustrating clicking on an image and it not working. Once you get into the site proper I do like the look. It is quite fresh in its design but still easy to read. Oh and I would also move contact up into your main left hand nav. Most people will be visting your site so they can find your phone number or where you are to get to a meeting.


  6. Okay, our Blog now shows posts in full on the Main Pages, along with Permalink and Comments.

    Huge thanks to Matt Buchanan at Cactuslab for twinkletoes over and above the call of duty!

    The wisdom of the crowd prevails …


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