April 2012

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I was reading an article about Nestle’s Nespresso coffee machine today and it mentioned George Clooney is the spokesperson in Europe.  He won’t be used in the U.S. the article went on to say because the ads needed to tell the Nespresso system story.  In other words, the story behind the single serving coffee making machine would be compromised if George Clooney were to tell it.  That’s sort of silly, don’t you think. Or is it?

In day after recall testing,  if asked to describe the TV spot you saw with George Clooney in it would you talk about the brewing process and the special machine, or would you say “That’s the George Clooney coffee maker, right?”

When the talent gets in the way of the message, it’s a marketing mistake.  When the talent selection supports and reinforces the product, it’s a home run.  Courtney Love would make a good spokesperson for run-proof eyeliner.  You feel me?

Talent is important. Everything in an ad is important. Peace.

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Reading today how Chrysler sales are soaring I smiled.  Knowing Chrysler merged with Fiat to introduce much needed European design into its cars I was scratching my head thinking about the Fiat 500.  I loved the merger because I knew the cars would get smaller and cooler, but the 500 was such a putz of a design that I’ve been addled.  (And pretending J-Lo would actually drive one was a real slap.)

Then I wondered if it was possible that the Fiat 500 was launched in America as a lost-loser, just to get us to pay attention to “small” and to care about “design?”  Even if it was to say this is design I don’t.  Think about it. I am passionately against the Fiat 500 design, but at least I’m passionate; unlike with many GM builds over the last decades.

Fiat may have used this to get our attention while it gets ready to kill with something really cool.  Dodge has designed some great things.  Chrysler is sweetening some designs. And Jeep has refreshed.  But I’m waiting on Fiat to launch something very Italian – and it’s going to be great. Fun, fun.  Peace!

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Bye Jersey.

Poor New Jersey.  Even before Snooki and her tanning bed crew stepped into the limelight, it had a sullied reputation build upon the smoke stacks and cat crackers lining the turnpikes.  For years it was unfairly labeled the “armpit of America.” For anyone who has ever walked the Kittatinny Ridge or driven the roads of western New Yersey (what my Norwegian forefathers used to call it from high atop Cedar Lake in beautiful Denville), the love and understanding of New Jersey’s true colonial beauty runs deep.

I’m digging Cory Booker who I believe will leapfrog Chris Christie into the national spotlight soon, and I’ve long been a fan of Newark – a tough city. There are lots of positives going on in this beautiful state, but what can we do to fix its image. Even the tourist board is advertising the other New Jersey to combat the power of the Jersey Shore TV Show. 

So how do we fix this, Mr. brand planner?  Stop referring to it as Jersey. And start calling it by its respectful full name New Jersey. It has a formal name and if people and promoters start using it and allow the riff-raff to focus on the shortcut “Jersey” the brand will begin the ascent it deserves.  Even Rutgers University ran an ad in the paper today referring to the state as Jersey.  Stop it!

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Peace!

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Blackburied.

I have a Blackberry Bold – not sure which model number.  I bought it two days before my need for reading glasses began.  Double u tee ef. Today without reading glasses I came across an ad in The New York Times in which Blackberry exclaims “Our browser should have a racing stripe.”  Is someone kidding me? I had to read it because it felt joke-ish.

I’ve yet to have a good web experience on my BB since purchasing it.  Were the ad to have said “New Browser” I wouldn’t feel so mislead but it just said browser. I know some of it is Verizon. Some has to do with WIFI Web access vs. digital phone service access, but this claim is absurd.  And maddening.

Blackberry users, dwindling though they may be, tend to be older. A 2” X 1.5” screen for that audience is como se silly.

Domino’s Pizza realized their Pizza needed fixing and did so.  I’m not sure what RIM is doing about its technology and customers, but teasing us with untruths, or perceived untruths is not marketing.  It’s pizzling all over us. Peace.

PS.  Can’t wait for the Lumia 900 to come to Verizon with Microsoft Tiles for Mobile.

 

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Let’s talk about brand planks.  Brand planks, like political planks, are areas of discussion important to the people. In the case of marketing it’s the people who buy products. Across all categories price is important, service is important, so is availability – but these are prices of entry. A brand plank, all afore mentioned being equal, is a care-about that predisposes consumers toward your product. It’s a reason to buy or a reason to prefer.

Wal-Mart over the weekend was dinged for smearing Mexican government officials with cash to improve its move into the country.  Yesterday its stock took a 5% dive. Money traders felt the news would have an adverse effect on company earnings.  Brand planks, well managed, have the opposite effect.  They create value for a brand. 

Research, brand planning and science – the ability to predict outcomes – are what smart marketers concern themselves with.  Find the perfect troika of brand planks, message and demonstrate them daily and sales will happen. The tactics can change, the campaigns can change, but the planks are sacrosanct.  If the brand planks are right, it’s even possible they can survive a change to the brand strategy. Peace it up!

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My current company Teq is looking to hire a person who is part blogger, part videographer, part brand raconteur. At JWT there is a great writer and mind — Kyle Monson, whose title was Brand Journalist. Today, he is titled Editor and Content Strategy Director.  I like his previous cognomen better.  I’ve used the words Media Socialist a few times in my blog but never put a job spec together for it. Media socialist, to me, suggests all media are important and all parts of the target are important.  But my company is in the business of selling educational development, with the emphasis on selling, so I’m going to use the title Content Socialist, putting the focus on the message rather than the media.

The hire will have to manipulate readers and viewers with strong content, but that will only work if the content is good for the community – the tribe.  Too many social media professionals are about their brand and the pass along.  They should be about what’s good of the target community.  One of my guard rails for social is “be interested in what your target is interested in.” That’s social. 

Social media professionals will abound in corporate marketing departments in coming years. Soon, ours will have its first content socialist and I am ecstatic. Peace!

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Left Backs.

Here’s a new Millennial segment (Millennials being late teens and twenty somethings), I call them Left Backs.  Left backs are kids who leave the home for the first time, mostly to go to college, and don’t know how to do anything because their parents (often moms) did all the heavy lifting for them.  All that was left was the drama. Many have been immersed in sports to keep them busy, they’ve gotten good grades, perhaps had a job at the bagel shop – but mostly for show. Left backs have few street smarts though they may have seen some on MTV.

Left Backs are rarely late because parents are up their iPhones, have no sense of direction (too embarrassed to ask for help at a gas station), mom is #1 on speed dial, and Google is their daddy.  These kids don’t do too well with adversity, though high school sports helped, and when at college seek friends who are also somewhat socially behind. There was a giggle I learned at college that the rich kids didn’t know where toothpaste came from.  Somehow, at home, it was always in the medicine cabinet.

Kids that leave home with some independence tend to hit the ground running at college. They’ve been less protected and have the scars to show for it. Moms and dads need to “cut the leash” as Eddie Vedder sings.  Do so and your kids will start college without a parent-enhanced essay, but with some life chops. Peace!

 

 

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As a student of B2B advertising and someone who has made a nice living helping corporations sell technology, services, even processes, I am amazed by how few marketing promises are served up in the tech space.  SAP will be the latest such company with a new campaign built around the word “Run.”  Ogilvy does the work, and I suspect it will look much the same as its IBM “Smarter Planet” work.  One headline from the new SAP campaign is “Run 10 years of numbers in seconds.”  A smart brand planner at BBDO once said to me good planning is about poetry, and there is very little poetry in this type of tech advertising – but there are lots of bucks in it.

I’ll tell you what makes companies and countries and planets smarter: Education.  Teachers. School administrators who love their jobs.  Technology people in inner cities who mine garbage bins to find PCs for students. Parents who care more about their kids educations than watching “Family Guy.”  Education moves societies. It moves cultures.  Software is nice. Hardware is nice…but it won’t stand in front of a bullet to save your life. People will.

Education is a right in America.  Now let’s make great education a right.  If we get great education right, we don’t have to worry about “clean technology” and porous borders and religious zealotry.  Peace.

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This Saturday will mark the third year I’ve volunteered at the Long Island Cask Ale Festival hosted by the Blue Point Brewing Company and put on by Starfish Junction Productions.  I know, I know…dirty job, but someone has to do it.  Each year the weather is great, the brew terrific and the people and vibe — best of all.  This, my friends, is part of the Craft Economy.  It didn’t start with ETSY, but Etsy amplified it  The fun thing about the craft economy is that it’s really only a part of an economy, because its more about doing things yourself than paying others. And the work product is better.

So watching a plumbing video on YouTube to assist in changing your P trap is part of the craft economy. Cooking dinner with natural or at least unprocessed ingredients is craft.  Making beer at home or with a craft beer club, another example.  It’s about doing things for yourself and others (giving a neighbor some homemade spaghetti sauce, for instance) that take time, care and require some learning. Some experimenting.  Smelling the roses along the way.

Now you are not going to see me knitting anytime soon, and I’m still going to buy Levi’s button down jeans, but working with my hands and brain and not sending my hard earned to China or Omaha is where my head is.  Saving the planet along the way by not purchasing packaging and other non-sustainables doesn’t hurt. 

So as I volunteer and savor the occasional quaff at the Cask Ale festival this weekend and talk among fellow beer lovers and makers, I’ll be immersed in the craft economy. I will be among friends. (Oh, and the sour pickle guy will be there too. Yay.) Peace!

 

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Do you have a favorite sneaker brand?  What is it and why. 

I love Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, though I have to look to see how you spell Taylor. Black, high tops.  I like the style, the weight, the cost and for me they are a roots product.  As for my basketball sneakers, frankly Scarlett I don’t give a damn.  Probably more often than not I buy Nike, but that is more a function of what’s at the store.  I want to pay $50-100, I want them to last and not smell after a few months (good luck with that) but my allegiances are not strong.

I watch a lot of sports.  You’d think the advertising would have made an impression on me.  I recognize the Michal Jordan logo and like Michael Jordan. That said, I  have no interest in buying his shoes over any other.  That’s like 50 billion dollars of advertising later.  Why am I not a Nike or Jordan fan?  You tell me.  I suppose it is because they have not built anything meaningful in to the design, and patented it, that I care to invest in.  They have a great creative shop in Wieden+Kennedy. The ad craft is wonderful (I still love Mars Blackman) however there is nothing as a consumer I can tell you from a product standpoint that differentiates the sneaker beside the logo. (Not like nfinity with its “designed for women” cheerleading sneaker, for instance.)

Do you have a favorite sneaker?  If so, please tell me why. Peace!

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