at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Brand Extension I Hate – Vaseline

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm

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Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Sometimes the best thing a consultant can do is tell his/her client that something is a bad idea. That common courtesy does not appear to have been extended here.

Vaseline rationally makes sense; It’s soothing, it’s moisturizing, it goes on the skin, but the brand isn’t rational as much as it is emotional and sensory. Emotionally it either reminds you of diaper rash or the Proctologist and from a sensory point of view it is thick and gloppy (technical term) and probably not something you would want to smother on your skin unless you were being paid to wrestle in a kiddie pool…and even then.

I understand the purpose of the extension and trying to move out the guardrails on the brand so that they have more room on the road for product extensions and a real men’s beauty category. But they are about ready to spend a lot of money in a poorly conceived effort.

In addition, Vaseline is owned by Unilever so it is not like there was a lack of brands that they could have used for this initiative. They own AXE, Ponds, Dove and an English brand called LUX all which could have worked better than Vaseline.

The original maverick

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2008 at 4:48 pm


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Yes, these will soon adorn the walls, bringing a little bit of outlaw back into the gentrified West Village.

My Friday.

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2008 at 4:35 pm

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Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Last Friday I managed to skip out of work slightly after 5 and make it down to the Vintage Poster show that was going on here in San Francisco. I was really struck by a series of 1950’s posters commissioned for General Dynamics to promote atomic energy. Created by Eric Nitsche his brief probably read something like…

“… repackaging military hardware development and the emerging nuclear industry as a sponsor of peace”

Fascinating story of a man and his work. Some more of his work can be found here, and the presenting gallery from the SF show is here if you search under Atomic Age.

My purchase, on the other hand, was a matching set of Lone Ranger and Tonto posters that measure in at an imposing 6 feet, 2 inches each. They’ll look great in the New York apt…or so I keep telling myself.

Can you have a brand resurgence while a business is in decline?

In Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy, trends on October 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

I bemoaned the passing of Polaroid’s Instant Film a few months back which will cease making it’s namesake product shortly.Ā  I was further saddened when, at a party I hosted a few weeks ago, I pulled out my camera to realize that some of my film had started to turn bad. I felt like it was the end of an era.

The economic model never really made sense (over a buck a photo) in the digital age and of course they were an environmental disaster…but so much fun. And the people having their picture taken always seem to have more fun.

SwissMiss cheered me up today by posting POLADROID. A free app that lets you recreate your favorite images as if they were taken on the spur of the moment, with money to burn and free of life’s cares. Personally, I think all photos should look like that.

As for Polaroid, I hope someone can buy the license and figure out how to bring prices down while keeping the technology around so the brand may continue in its current form.

When Brands Attack – Modern Marketing Trends

In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy, trends on October 27, 2008 at 5:50 pm

The economy is in the crapper, pocketbooks are tight, there are way too many brands in the world all competing for less money. The old terms like share-of-wallet only worked when the wallets were open and there was money in them ready to be sent out in the world to satiate our needs, wants and desires…if only temporarily.

As outlays shrink, brands HAVE to get more aggressive with their marketing to even maintain share. For that to happen, it helps if brands have been thinking about this all along.

In comfortable times, brands should still be managing their equities, building their customer base, creating loyalty and solidifying differentiation. This is all what really defines something as a brand. But as a great Warren Buffet quote goes, it is “in the times of low tide that you find out who has been swimming naked.” (Or something to that effect.)

The brands that are successfully playing offense are doing so on product differentiation. To simply scream louder and behave as a schoolyard bully will not win you points in this market. Playing the trump card that you have been holding will.

Apple is aggressively going after Microsoft by not just using product differentiation but now using Microsoft’s own advertising against them. Clever, witty, truthful and Apple has built up the equity and credibility over the last few years to play some hardball.

Progresso is going on the offense against Campbell’s with full page ads noting that they have no MSG, whereas Campbell’s does. Taking one product advantage, leveraging it and making it matter. This is how brands play offense. Campbell’s retort that Progresso tastes watery by comparison is subjective and sounds less authentic. Ironically, General Mills owned Progresso likely only removed MSG from their soups after previously being attached by Campbell’s sub-brand.

Dunkin Donuts is going after Starbucks with a taste test campaign touting its better tasting coffee. In this case the claim works better since the perception is that Dunkin Donuts is also cheaper. Whereby cheaper and better tasting always sounds better. Dunkin is also still perceived as an underdog which generally get more traction out of aggressive marketing.

Bottom line: when times are tough and money is tight you have to have clear product differentiation supported by a strong brand. Consumers aren’t going to take a lot of risks with their limited resources and therefore want to be more confident and have a clearer rationale for purchase.

You know you’re not Eco when….

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2008 at 12:10 pm

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Originally uploaded by distillerymedia