at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Viagra simplifies its positioning

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.

Manufacturing Authenticity

In communications, marketing, strategy, Uncategorized on August 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Picture 8

Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Writing authenticity into a strategy deck is sort of like putting on the applause light in a sitcom. Everyone nods in agreement and comments on your ability to speak the truth. I suppose if my goal in life was to simply be rehired again and again I would probably write it in more often. Then again, there is a distinction to be made between an authentic brand and a brand that simply markets authenticity.

When it comes to marketing authenticity brands typically pursue one of three strategies:

1) Since 19XX
Brands are good at making up arbitrary dates in time and being since then. Granted, you may have never heard of the company and they say they have been around since 1827… but just trust them. They’ve been a small cottage industry and have just decided to advertise in Vogue.  Check out 8-year-old Hollister for a great example of this ploy.

2) Associate with authentic people
Book Willie Nelson, Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola or Johnny Depp and watch your sales soar! When in doubt borrow credibility and you can pay it off later at 12% interest. Musicians are particularly good for this since they advance an image of not caring what anyone thinks. Louis Vuitton tried this recently with Keith Richards.

3) Tell a great backstory
This story need not actually be authentic but needs to seem authentic. Brand X was created by ex-Iditarod racers to combat the elements so it should be be good enough for your kid to wear going sledding right? Charles Shaw wine benefited from this early on as consumers and the press perpetuated a backstory for the brand that spoke of a scorned ex-wife who wanted to humiliate her winemaking former husband by putting his name on cheap wine. The truth behind Two Buck Chuck is slightly different, of course.

These examples notwithstanding, Showtime appears to have taken the backstory to the next level. Now, I’ll go ahead and make all apologies in advance to the Duchovny family should David actually have a sex addiction. On the other hand, I will shake the hand of the Showtime executive if he doesn’t. See, David stars in a pretty great little show over on Showtime called Californication about… wait for it… a man with a sex addiction. Oh yeah, and the new season premieres next week. If you’re going to remind people about a series that may have taken too long to come around again… why not do it by suggesting that the whole thing might actually be true?

Microsoft Surface Starts Shipping

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2008 at 12:20 pm

It’s always nice when your work actually comes to market. As a non-parent I haven’t gone through the “Oh, it looks like a mini-me” thing yet so this is as close as it gets. Oh, it looks like a version of my strategy. Unboxing photos posted over at gizmodo.

Life Decision Making Tool

In communications on July 1, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Picture 1

Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

For all those all-important decisions when you just can’t make up your mind, ‘I can’t decide’ offers an answer. Not always a good answer but an answer nonetheless. And frankly, if you look at a result and say, ‘well that’s stupid,’ you have an answer already, don’t you?

check it out for at least a few minutes of entertainment: I can’t decide

Alert: The History Channel Has Run Out of History

In Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on April 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm

The History Channel has run out of history. It’s a shame because, like oil, there seemed to be so much of it last time I checked. But alas, it’s true. Napoleonic wars, done it. King Tut, done it nine times. Lindberg, Anne Frank, George Washington, you name it, done it. Which explains their new move toward old growth trees and the reality show Axe Men.

Hypothetical meeting conversation:

“Why not stop covering history and start predicting it? We all know that trees are going to be history so let’s preempt it!”

“Let’s give that man a raise! Brilliant!”

“And we can compete against Discovery and Deadliest Catch. Logging is dangerous too! And not just to the trees!”

Abercrombie, Sponsoring Losers Everywhere

In advertising, Branding, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on April 24, 2008 at 4:52 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

The thing I love about strategists and trendspotters is the amount of time we spend thinking about what things “might” mean. We are like brand conspiracy theorists that live slightly to the left of any sane consumer.

So let the debate begin. Is Abercrombie and Fitch subversively getting product placement on national television; or as most of us realize that these backdrops are carefully choreographed, is Obama playing to the mainstream fashion (in)sensibility of America?

OR, is it even more sinister, is Obama covertly courting the gay but-look-like-robot vote?

UPDATE: it turns out it wasn’t an Abercrombie marketing campaign, although I’d argue it became one anyway. So that leaves the decision at the foot of the Obama campaign– which of the above reasons drove them to put these guys in the camera’s eye?

hat tip to adrants

Get Out of the Room!

In advertising, Branding, communications, Consumers, marketing on April 13, 2008 at 2:24 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

There is something nice, predictable, and safe about focus group rooms. The anonymity provided by double-sided mirrors, the predictability of recruits and the comfort of peanut M&M’s. But when the results are nice, predictable, and safe, is it time to try something else?

Now, I know I’ve defended focus groups in the past but it’s sort of like defending why you left the dishes unwashed. Unable to apologize for woeful negligence you double down your defense. And I’ll stick to the fact that focus groups are very useful for testing, for understanding if your message is getting through and for talking to large numbers of people quickly and reliably. But for inspiration and creation whether for products or positioning, nothing beats experience.

I’ve been on a global journey of sorts for a large but daring client who had an appetite for (and a budget that required) a new approach. For less money than traditional focus groups I’ve been diving headlong into the cultures and scenes of Shanghai and now Moscow. While it would have been a lot easier and less time consuming to sit people down in a Moscow focus group room to talk about nightlife, daylife and everything in between, there is nothing like bellying up to the bar, touching the stage at a live show, playing streetball with locals or conducting live interviews at a skatepark to learn about what is going on, how people feel and how to tap into those emotions.

So next time you really want to understand your audience, don’t just bring them into a room or do an in-home. Move with them and among them to understand not just where they are and what they’ve accumulated in their life, but where they are headed.

This picture was taken at around 2am in the Moscow club 16 Tons.

Cyber Command Requires Camouflage

In Branding, Brands, communications, market research, marketing, strategy on March 22, 2008 at 5:01 pm

The U.S. Air Force has a new campaign out focusing on their Cyber Command unit. An interesting move away from the Top Gun/Tom Cruise image of the Air Force and toward the tech savvy world of national security. Strategically, I like it. National security through cyber command instead of the flyover bombing of towns? All good. But my question is …do they really wear their camouflage uniforms in the command center? I mean, I get the uniform thing but if they’re going to be in camouflage shouldn’t they at least be disguised to look like a computer so they can blend into the Cyber Command Center?

Note: they should also work on their website. If they’re going to run ads on the Cyber Command Center then we should be able to type in Cyber Command on their site and get a result. It’s always the little things of integration that get overlooked.

Victoria’s Secret Has New Strategy to Push Up Sales

In Branding, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on March 3, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Sexy Lingerie

Originally uploaded by savillon

Facing declining same store sales, the uppity-ups over at Victoria’s Secret (owned by the Limited Group) are vowing to get the brand back to its heritage. Little known to the outside world, the original brand was designed around the persona of “Victoria,” who was manor-born and lived in London according to its chief Sharen Turney.

It’s a timely get-back-to-heritage announcement given sales and the success of PINK, Victoria’s Secret’s college sub-brand which is likely putting pressure on the brand from the bottom…so to speak. So the strategy is sound, but how will they execute it?

Communications and product nomenclature is likely the first step but I doubt it will really sink in until the stores are redesigned to bring a bit of the sensuality back into the brand.

hat tip to Steve Portigal