at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Well, I feel safe.

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Perhaps he is watching a new security briefing on YouTube? I recognize that there are times when employees just want some personal time. Airports don’t likely have great employee lounges. I get it.  But when your job is to ostensibly keep me safe and when I indirectly pay your salary the least you could put your phone on speaker and play me a holiday tune.

More bad bank advertising

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2008 at 9:17 am

I was just in London for a quick assignment and despite rushing through the airport, this advert caught my eye. Intercontinental Bank bought up the American Airlines terminal to convince everyone not to bank with them.

Particularly I’m drawn to the line, “Global Headquarters, Lagos, Nigeria.” Now you have a global bank that happens to have a headquarters in Nigeria. That’s great, but I’m not sure it is a sales tool unless you happen to be a Nigerian. I know there are reputable banks in Nigeria but there are also a lot of people holding money for me there if I could just send them $150, or call the local barrister.

Brand rejuvenation, without even trying

In Branding, Brands, culture on December 12, 2008 at 3:02 am

Workers place the final “S” of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Waveland, Mississippi
Originally uploaded by cabraham

Brand consultants love to present analogues of the hip, cool companies that have transformed their category.  Target, Apple, BMW Mini, Prius, Dyson, Cirque du Soleil. It becomes sort of a circularly successful argument. Consultants want to work on cool brands, they convince their client that they could be a cool brand by pointing at other cool brands that they had worked on.

I remember having some conversations with Wal-Mart a few years ago. It was during the big Target surge and at least half of the room wanted to go into chase mode and start the style revolution from Bentonville. As the heads shook, there was some steep dissent from those who wanted to stick to the guns, noting that they were far more profitable than Target and that they owned a compelling proposition.

Today, it looks like Wal-Mart did the right thing. They stuck with their price centric positioning and only slightly moved toward a benefit orientation from “everyday low prices” to “save money, live better.” Yes, they also put in some wood paneled flooring and such, but as Wal-Mart has proven, if you own low-prices credibly you will always be in consideration. And increasingly in this economy, they are winning share of the wallet because price trumps cool.

No, they aren’t quite as hip and edgy as Target, but they continue to be far more profitable. Had they done what most marketing consultants would have recommended, they would likely be in a poorer situation today. It’s just a nice reminder that at the end of the day branding isn’t about making a brand hip and cool. It is about making it relevant and enduring. Right now Wal-Mart is looking pretty relevant.

Take a spin around the web

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2008 at 6:47 am

Globe Spinning
Originally uploaded by Rollergirl1688

It’s been awhile since we took a spin around the web and now feels like as good of a time as any for a peek.

Crispin Porter designs Microsoft tee shirts to change the perception of the brand
— hat tip to plaid

Just in time for the depression the Rough Luxe hotel opens in London.

National Geographic channel sees the HSBC ads that have been around for years and decides it fits their new show Taboo. (you’ll have to trust me on this since the ad isn’t online.)

Fun photo project where a woman asks potential mates to pose with her for a photo to see what they would look like as a couple…how long till eHarmony or Match follow suit?
hat tip: Coudal

And if you you still have the energy, here is a nice dancing robot video.
hat tip: laughing squid

Innovation that is just LoudEnough

In Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, marketing on December 8, 2008 at 6:03 am

Innnovation is typically focused on a few different paths. There are consumer needs, cultural trends, marketplace/technological opportunities, brand led innovation…and the often overlooked product difficency innovation.

There is an iPod development story that suggests that Steve Jobs is slightly hard of hearing. As a result, in his characteristic, idiosyncratic way, he demanded that the volume on the iPod be louder than on other MP3 players. Hence the ear blasting sound that you can now obtain.

Now most of us would probably just turn down the sound. But one company created this is a crafty little targeted product for hip, yet concerned mom and dads. LoudEnough are earphones for kids where you can set a maximum decible range for your little ones and keep their ears safe and sound. It’s a nice innovative product that solves a need (or creates one) while taking advantage of a product deficiency. The branding also nicely straddle the gap between communicating to mom/dad the purchaser, while still appealing to kids.

We feel fine

In trends on December 6, 2008 at 7:35 am

I’ve sat around this morning playing with, pondering, thinking about wefeelfine, an interesting new web site. What makes it so special? Well…nothing…and everything of course.

Like much of the web, I’m sure there is some usefullness embedded in there somewhere. Like an international geopolitical minute by minute poll of our collective feelings. Perhaps at some point one could track future births by backtracking to the feelings of amorousness on a given day nine months prior. Or they could redirect counseling call centers to accept more distressed calls from New Mexico because they are feeling down.

In the meanwhile, it serves a a personal broadcasting and twitter like forum except they are just random comments, from random people about their feelings, all culled from the Internet rather than posted. By taking the comments out of context it feels like a poetic synapse firing away in the dark.

I feel…like it’s pretty cool.

So retro it’s now!

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2008 at 10:04 am

The truth be told, for every trend there is a counter trend waiting just off it’s heels. This is part of what makes life so interesting. It’s also part of why the fast-follower approach to innovation doesn’t work as well as it used to. When everyone has an iPhone it reaches a decible level where folks start checking out the Jitterbug. Likewise, when Ashton Kutcher punks everyone into buying a little digital camera to document their own existence…then you know it is about time for Blackbird, fly. A new dual lens reflex, $200 camera out of Japan to start hitting the shores.

I do believe the analogue days are coming and I think it’s starting to rear it’s head in categories such as apparel and personal care. Now if only they could do something about the automotive industry. I could go for a Shelby Cobra about now.

A crisp, green, Apple

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.

Because we aren’t high falutin’

In communications on December 1, 2008 at 9:40 am

The blog has been getting a little heavy and a little long-winded lately. I suppose that’s what happens when one takes a sabbatical. But this is Monday, my stomach is full of Turkey and other Ohio goodies and I just want to enjoy the 27 days till Christmas.

This Steven Colbert video is a good start to the holidays. Some other day I’ll write about how he is becoming the poster child for the next wave of personality branding…but not today. Today I will seek out leftover pumpkin pie.

Video is here at Colbert Nation as wordpress only likes YouTube video embeds…