Thursday, August 06, 2009

Popular Media LLC's. chronicle exposed, Part 2. Jim Calhoun, Sage Bray, StrongMail Systems, Inc., Brand Summit 2009...

This will be our follow up to August 1st's entry. Why are we revisiting this? Well, I was able to unmask two industrious men-- Jim Calhoun and Sage Bray. Who are they? I will tell you in a second. There were findings I wanted to include in Part 1, but never did. Read on, and have fun.

In freebies, we complete our sites and wait for our reward. But how often do we inspect the networks that pay us? Most of us don't. Haven't you ever wanted to go "behind the scenes" of a company to see them in action? We're about to get our hands soiled to dig up the roots. Not all companies are peccant, their gift fulfillment programs and other provided services hurt their image. Gift program aside, I assayed the events of their company, and found they are reputable. In no way am I condoning the actions of Popular Media LLC. What they did was unwarrantable, and will not be dismissed. I'm just fascinated with the activities these companies engage in while offering gift programs.

To begin, let's unveil the masked men.

Jim Calhoun (on the left) attending Brand Summit 09 in Coconut Point, FL. On the right is Craig Stanford, VP of Strategic Alliances.

Jim Calhoun is CEO of PopularMedia, LLC. Since 2003's lead-off, they've served advertisers and publishers, helping them take advantage of "the social web." They specialize in multiplying the impact of online ad campaigns by wrapping standard online display ad units with an interactive social media layer. Jim has worked with a wide range of businesses through technology and marketing such as Glam Media Inc., HP and IBM. Before erecting PopularMedia LLC., Jim founded CustomerClick LLC., a direct marketing firm based in San Francisco. He once was Vice President of Products at NetObjects, Inc., and the former reviews editor at CNET. Holding a degree in journalism, he graduated from the University of Missouri.

Is he the new Brad Powers? Nah. If he carted us down a long winding road knowing there was a dead end, yes. Unlike Powers, I actually get a good vibe from him. The same goes for his pal, Sage Bray.


Sage Bray on the left with Michele Azan of Terra Networks at the 2009 Brand Summit in Coconut Point, FL.

Sage Bray is CFO of Popular Media, LLC. Sage leads the finance department and diurnal operations while driving revenue and profitability. He has shown a decade of assiduity when managing finance and operational efforts of companies across multiple industries. He was Director of Operations of RGA Associates, and helped launch PopularDemand. He is an alumni of Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Jim Calhoun and Sage Bray were partners at CustomerClick, LLC. as well. Sage remains the COO of CustomerClick, LLC., though sources say Jim departed in 2006. Close-knit relationships are a family affair. It appears, James Calhoun, I'm assuming he is Jim's brother, is also CEO of Popular Media, LLC. And Sage works at CustomerClick and PopularMedia where Jim works. Remember Kim from Brandarama? Wasn't there a connection between her and Brad Powers' wife? The whole thing confused me, and I may have gotten it wrong. Anyway, it's neat how they shift to different companies together.
Speaking of a shift, Strongmail Mail, Inc., a provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email, acquired PopularMedia, LLC. More togetherness... I like how this ties in, lol.

The acquisition:

"June 30, 2009 — StrongMail Systems, Inc., the leading provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email, today announced that is has acquired PopularMedia, a leading provider of social media marketing solutions. The acquisition coincides with the closing of StrongMail's sixth consecutive quarter of revenue growth, further strengthening its momentum in the marketplace and establishing it as the leading provider of integrated marketing solutions for email and social media. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

PopularMedia is an industry leader, providing innovative solutions that enable marketers to fully leverage the viral nature of email and social networks in a way that is both trackable and measureable. With social media emerging as a direct marketing channel, as evidenced by the results of StrongMail's 2009 Marketing Trends survey announced on June 15, the ability to measure results and optimize programs is critical.

By acquiring PopularMedia, StrongMail is ushering in a new era of integrated email and social media campaigns that will change how businesses think about customer engagement. The integrated solution will not only enable the sharing of content with popular social networks, but also enable the creation of integrated, measureable viral campaigns that drive engagement with both the initial recipient and their extended networks of family, friends and colleagues.

"There's no disputing the power of social networks to influence consumer behavior, and StrongMail's acquisition of PopularMedia puts the marketer in a powerful position to fully leverage the potential of social media in a way that is both measureable and fully integrated with their email marketing programs," said Sam Cece, CEO of StrongMail Systems. "By enabling marketers to create viral campaigns that they can monitor and optimize based on response rates, StrongMail is going way beyond the simple 'share to social' functionality that is offered today by most email service providers."

PopularMedia's social media marketing platform now serves as the foundation for the "Social Programs" component of StrongMail's social media framework announced earlier this month. StrongMail's Social Programs offering enables direct marketers to create powerful direct-response programs that leverage social media as the next generation of forward-to-a-friend. StrongMail is also leveraging PopularMedia's "Social Notes" functionality, which provides marketers with the ability to easily share email or website content with the most popular social networks.

"StrongMail has made a name for itself in providing email marketers with innovative and powerful tools for driving increased revenues and lowering costs, and adding PopularMedia's solutions to its line-up of products and services will only serve to strengthen its leadership position in the industry," said Jim Calhoun, CEO of PopularMedia. "With the symbiotic relationship between email and social media allowing each to fuel the other, PopularMedia's solutions are a natural fit for StrongMail's customers, and we are happy to be joining their talented team."

It's the perfect marriage. With this happening June 30, 2009, I wonder who is CEO of CustomerClick, Inc. I couldn't find my answer, but I doubt the 2006 source was a lie. His brother? Hm. Part of me thinks it's Sage or someone close who functions as CEO, or it simply hasn't been stated.

Let's move on to IMedia's Brand Summit 2009. Remember our talk about Ad-Tech? Think of it as Brand Summit. The iMedia Summits have been running since 2001. Last year alone, Brand Summit 2008 yielded 156 industry participants! The annual event is a platform for pulling together the branding and marketing community. Events are held coast-to-coast, and even as far away as Dubai.

Brand Summit 2009:

Inside iMedia's Brand Summit:

The view from above of the iMedia Brand Summit Opening Reception sponsored by CPX Interactive.

Online ad network, CPX Interactive, sponsored the Opening Reception Cocktail Party at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Point, FL on Feb. 8, 2009.

The "Sushi by the Shore" station.

Agencies facing off!! Whew, is it hot in here or is it just me? *fanning self*

Links of interest: - - -

And since I mentioned Brad Powers earlier, here is an e-mail Brandarama sent on the 4th. Just when I thought I heard the last of them...

"Monday, August 4, 2009

Dear ::my name inserted here::,

According to our records, you may be a claimant of one or more consumer prize(s) from one of our consumer rewards sites.

Active Response Group, Inc. ("Active Response Group") is the parent company of HouseHoldSavingsClub the Brand that you originally registered for.

As you know, many businesses have been hurt badly by the financial downturn and the credit crunch that followed the collapse of the subprime mortgage markets. Active Response Group, like many other firms, though not involved in any way in those activities, has seen its revenues drop dramatically. As a result, we found ourselves in very serious financial difficulty.

Despite taking various steps to reduce our costs and preserve value, we became unable to make our debt payments to our senior lender, Hercules Technology Growth Capital, Inc. ("Hercules"). Hercules had lent Active Response Group ~$10,000,000, which senior loans were secured by all of our assets. Since we were unable to pay our current payments, Hercules has foreclosed on its collateral and has sold Active Response Group's assets to a third party via an auction process. While the details of the transaction are subject to confidentially provision, the highest offer was insufficient to pay Hercules in full.

Unfortunately, Active Response Group's inability to pay Hercules in full means that with certainty Active Response has no funds to satisfy any consumer prize claims. Our customer service center is no longer in operation, and we will be winding down the affairs of the company under state law. So this is the last communication you can expect from us and we have no means of conducting further contact with you.

We are of course very disheartened by this turn of events, as we know you must be. We thank you for your patronage and wish you the best.

Very truly yours,

Customer Service Department"

Well, they acted professionally by giving a final update, which I approve of. I will leave it at that.

I wanted to say something regarding Popular Media LLC's. chronicle exposed Part 1. In my tone, I sounded as if freebies were all scams, which is not true. I tend to get sensational when writing! Some of you are newcomers; I try to bear in mind that not only am I speaking to a primitive audience, but I am posting to new entrants, too. I promise the next entry will be entertaining, lol. I'm surprised you guys sat through this one. I just needed to report the behaviour of Popular Media LLC. before it was too late. In the meantime, check out the I-Deal links in Part 1 Good stuff in there.

See you later!


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