In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on December 3, 2008 at 6:18 am
I loathe using Apple as an example for anything. Not because it is wrong to do so but it is just so damn obvious. Regardless, they have done a pretty good job of greening up their notebook line and then announcing it to the world in a manner that suggests they have always been green.
The environment has always been a sticky issue for the boys and girls from Cupertino. When I was at Sterling Brands we did a pro-bono project for Climate Counts. We were rather surprised that of all of the examined consumer electronic companies, Apple ranked the worst. There were also YouTube videos from folks like GreenPeace lambasting Apple for it’s environmental policy.
The new Apple campaign (here), is the advertising equivelent of a plea bargin deal where they pay the fine but don’t admit guilt, and that’s exactly the way that it should be. When a company updates it’s formulation or product line it shouldn’t feel as though it needs to shame itself for it’s past choices. It rather needs to present new and relevant reasons for purchase and if the environment or health or whathaveyou becomes part of the value equation then you talk about it. I’m still surprised how many brands, especially food stuffs, feel the need to say things like “now with no transfats!”, when a simple “no transfats” would do the trick.
In Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on November 25, 2008 at 4:36 am
Will Work for Corporate Sponsorship
Originally uploaded by Morningstarphoto
MediaBistro got me thinking this morning when they announced that GM had jettisoned their relationship with Tiger Woods due to the economic climate. My question is, what is the value of these relationships/associations/sponsorships anyway?
I’m sure there are some computer models out there but looking at it from a brand pov I’m not sure I see the point. Three examples for debate.
GM cuts it’s ties with Tiger.
Did any of us believe that Tiger actually drove a GM?
Does anyone believe that it would have been his choice car if they didn’t pay him?
Did you have a more favorable view of GM since it parked itself next to Tiger Woods?
Joseph Abboud signs a 3-year deal to provide free suits to NBA coaches. (no signage or credit during broadcasts)
Does anyone pay attention to what NBA coaches wear, and if so, are coaches emulated?
How many times do you see a coach during a game looking cool, confident and collected, and not sweaty and pitted out?
If someone does pay attention, how are they supposed to know who makes the suit?
Sprint Halftime Report
What does Sprint have to do with halftime or football?
Do you have a different or reinforced perspective of Sprint after halftime?
In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 24, 2008 at 6:58 am
There is a quote that comes to mind that goes something like, “character is who you are when no one is watching.” This seems apt to describe branding at times. There are many brands that put on a good show in communications, packaging, environments only to let consumers down when they least expect it. Some of us have had friends like this in our lives, but how many of those relationships continue to prosper after we’ve been let down?
Brand relationships are about delivering an experience through all of the brand’s touch points. I won’t even go so far as to say that it has to be a consistent experience because I think branding is changing. But it does have to be a unified experience.
I’ve posted the above picture of GHIRADELLI Hot Chocolate as an example of how not to sustain a brand. For those who don’t know, GHIRADELLI is a premium chocolate brand out of San Francisco. As such you would expect brand attributes such as refined, sophisticated, luxurious and crafted to be part of their story. Note, these aren’t differentiated characteristics but rather table-stakes in the premium category.
The external packaging represents these characteristics and helps to validate the price point which you are bound to pay on a supermarket shelf. Once you make the purchase though, you are confronted with a food service, mass market brand on the inside. Why GHIRADELLI decided to pay a design firm for the external packaging and didn’t throw the internal pouch into the brief is beyond me. Did they think that it wasn’t important or that no one would notice?
I would argue that the experience arch for this brand actually peaks when the pouch is torn open and the product is made. By that account the internal packaging is more important to the brand while the external packaging may still be more important to sales. But, to my earlier point, the brand’s character is defined when it doesn’t think anyone is looking. Or perhaps better stated, “a brand’s character is defined when it isn’t selling.”
In Branding, communications, strategy on November 20, 2008 at 7:00 am
“The pirates are coming,” we’ve been told by most of the mainstream news media. And while piracy is a growing problem off the coast of Somalia and they are certainly wrecking havoc within the shipping industry, my sense is that most of us don’t really care. Darfur, yes we care, pirates not yet. And the reason why is that they are actually kind of cool aren’t they?
Culturally, we’ve had a love affair with pirates for decades and they permeate our culture from Long John Silver’s and Jack Sparrow to the Discovery Channel and Disney. Pirates are typically made out to be the better men. Craftier, smoother, living out our dream for adventure, pirates have been positioned as heroes of the high sea. They change the tide and the people they take advantage of tend to be bumbling sailors or British colonials, which as Americans, we don’t really mind. They still pillage, sure, but not so much raping anymore, that wouldn’t make it into a Disney movie.
So the question now is what will it take for the media to breakthrough and make us care about piracy. The answer is that it will probably take a repositioning of the pirates overall. Personally, I might take the easy route and just go ahead and start calling them “raiders”. Sure we have Raiders of the Lost Ark but we also have corporate raiders and the Oakland Raiders and few people feel that those two professions are up to any good.
In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm
Nothing makes me sadder than seeing clients throw their money away, even if they aren’t my clients. In particular I’m struggling with the new Sprint commericals that have been innundateing me lately. The spots are beautiful in black and white, have some nice emotional background music and CEO Dan Hesse talking to the camera — that said, they seem completely off strategy.
Let’s start with Dan Hesse. There are traditionally two occassions when CEO’s become spokesmen. Firstly, when the company is in dire financial straights or have just wronged their consumer (see United and Jet Blue), the second one is when the CEO is an icon which arguably adds value to the campaign (Paul Newman, Bill Gates, Lee Iacocca). I think this may be a case of finanical difficulties trumping common sense.
Secondly, most of them don’t actually say anything that is differentiated. This is a problem beyond advertising for Sprint, but if you are going to interrupt people and ask them to pay attention to you, please have something to say or at least some entertainment to offer. These spots do neither.
Part of the problem lies at the feet of the business of course. Sprint was depositioned in terms of coverage by Verizon and at&t, they lost out on the iPhone to at&t, The Gphone to T-Mobile, they have lost their hold on push-to-talk to Verizon and then their all inclusive plan was quickly countered by everyone else on the market.
At the end of the day, Sprint is in some trouble. I’d take some of that advertising budget and put it into innovation/research in order to find a differentiating proposition for the brand, rather than simply rolling out Dan Hesse. He must have better things to do with his time.
In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy, trends on November 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm
Since Cialis entered into the market a few years back, Viagra has been searching for a new positioning. As Cialis started to talk about the mood using their “when the time is right” emotional language, Viagra started pushing masculinity and trotting out older celebrities to reinforce its credibility. As Cialis started being more about the relationship, Viagra became more about the man.
In the last month they seem to have tweaked their positioning again, this time more clearly marketing themselves as a solution to the mid-life crisis. While this positioning has always been available to them they seem to have avoided it in the past as either being too trite or narrowly defining. Indeed, in looking at the executions they seem to be rather obvious in taking the the traditional trappings of the midlife crisis and putting them in Viagra wrapper. The television spot that best sums up their new positioning is the recent execution when the guys shows up on a motorcycle to surprise his wife, although it is equally apparent in this spot when he gets the garage band back together.
In Brands, Consumers, marketing, strategy, Uncategorized on November 6, 2008 at 7:16 pm
I don’t know how many folks have been following the story of Arien O’Connell who ran in the Nike Women’s Marathon here in San Francisco. She was a school teacher who ran the race but didn’t run in the “elite” group because she thought of herself as an average runner. Turns out that she ran her best time that day. A time that beat the average time of the elite group. Actually it beat the 3rd, 2nd and 1st place finishers of the elite group. And it wasn’t by chance, everyone was equiped with digital timers that registered their times automatically so it wasn’t as if she hopped the bus and showed up at the finish.
So, great story for Nike you would think. Woman says just do and and does it. Not so fast, it took them DAYS and a bit of bad press to even give her a trophy although they made it clear that she still didn’t win.
Along comes Reebok and gives her a trophy for the race and $2,500 for her school. Pretty good move Reebok…oh, and getting a press mention and building your brand as “for everyone” is definitely worth a couple of grand.
In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 6, 2008 at 12:38 pm
O telefone celular descartável da Bic – BIC PHONE
Originally uploaded by eaymichel
I seem to spend much of my time lately deriding brand extensions. Despite that fact, I do believe in extensions and I do believe that brands can grow in to new markets by leveraging their fundamental brand values and engineering technology.
Unlike that awful Vasoline extension, I do like the new move by BIC to enter into the reusable mobile phone market. The phones don’t pack much of a punch in terms of apps but they do what phones used to do…allow you to talk. Seems great for International business, low-income consumers and folks in the developing world. It also fits into BIC’s primary brand equities of being disposable and easy to use.
As important, is how the extension integrates into their business objectives of pushing fuel cell batteries. More here courtesy of BusinessWeek.
In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 3, 2008 at 11:33 am
photo by distillerymedia
I was in NYC last weekend watching folks line up to buy Obama shirts at the farmer’s market and thinking about how all this is going to end. I’ve admired the brand, the way they have built it and managed it but I also realize that it’s not a “brand” that is probably going to last. Think how strange it would be to see folks walking around town in Bush 04′ tee shirts everyday.
As a voter in a democracy, I certainly hope that I’ll continue to be proud and affiliate with my elected official but will I wear his likeness? No, while I’m willing to do that during a campaign I’m far less likely to do so once they are actually in office…which is an interesting issue for a brand.
From a brand management point of view, it’s a huge opportunity to transfer the equities of the Obama brand into brand America both domestically and abroad. But that effort requires different tools than the ones that have been used to date: buttons, tee shirts, posters and hipster Obama belt buckles (although Joe the Plumber could probably use one).