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Cause Strategy

It may be my age, it may be my level of wisdom, it may be age….didn’t I just say that…but a great many of my strategies lately contain an undercurrent of cause marketing. It’s as if my brief also has a line that says “What about this strategy will make the world a better place?” Back in the day my briefs were more likely to have the line “What about this strategy will sell more product, faster, regardless of consequence?”

My new approach certainly is intended sell more product, but it comes in an envelope of comfortable altruism. This new found reliance on educating over selling, undergirds my strategies. “An educated consumer” as they say.

Strategies that are more cause reliant take advantage of cultural context. Cause strategies feel more human. So what do we do with Axe? How do we package Coors Light? Geico?  We do what we always do — but now we think more positively about people, planet and how our persuasion is a positive force. Bang (not a gun ban either).

Peace.

PS. For examples of cause strategies for products write steve at whatstheidea.

 

 

 

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Brand Mixology.

Brand planning is going to be huge.  Brand plan is an organizing principle for product and messaging and the need for it is growing exponentially as we turn brands over to the Web…and to consumers.  This came to me after driving home from Higbie Bagel Saturday morning listening to a “Coors Light Night Rules” radio promotion. “Send us your night rules” the spot asked.  Coors is asking people to sign up on their website and enter a fun idea about evening drinking behavior. Oooh. Tactics-palooza. Do it on the Facebook page, I’m sure, and all-the-better.

Coors Light has fallen into a cycle of promotions that is watering down (pun) brand meaning by using by non-endemic brand values and it is confusing consumers. When everything is a promotion, game, or boutique campaign, the brand loses essential meaning. And web and digital agencies, left unmanaged, are contributing to this fast twitch, near term brand mixology.

I was reading a recipe recently for a chicken dish.  There were so many spices in the dish it lost its taste focus. Like adding too many paint colors and coming up with brown. The mixology of brands needs to be well thought out, simple, compelling and most importantly managed.  Think Steve Jobs.

The soap box is yours. Peace!

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I was just watching a video from the recent PSFK Event in NY showing Graham Hill’s new project LifeEdited.com.  His interesting “life editing” concept fits nicely with the Craft Economy, me thinks.  Anyway, the opening for the video talks about how America has super-sized our culture over the last 50 years. Quite right. Mr. Hill’s suggestion is to downscale one’s physical footprint on earth, which is a savvy and necessary idea. 

You can find the video here.

In addition to our lives, though, we’ve spent years supersizing our advertising claims: most, best, largest, unparalleled, flah-flah-flah.  These words and their overuse have made advertising and marketing unreal. Who do we believe? Coors Light is the most refreshing beer in America? Are you kidding me?  What happened to standards and practices?

Marketers need to stop pizzling into the wind.  They need to find own-able territory, live it, mean it, and be it. It’s nice to aspire, but don’t aspire to the un-noble supersized claim. You wouldn’t brag at a keg or cocktail party, why spend millions on such boorish behavior in advertising?  Peace. 

 

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So there’s an article in last week’s Ad Age comparing the branding ideas of Coors Light (Cold refreshment) to Miller Light (Great taste). Great Taste, as you know, is half of the long time promise, “taste’s great, less filling.” For a while now I’ve been calling on the advertisers in this category to highlight and dimensionalize product quality and “hammer it home.” Coors Light has, Miller Lite hasn’t.

 

That said, I’ve smirked at the cold train and the frosty positioning of Coors Light. Serve it cold? What kind of a differentiator is that? What I didn’t know was that cold was actually tied to something called cold filtration — a fact lost amongst all the frozen tundra and trains. For all their faults though, the DraftFCB ads delivered 3 consecutive years of share growth. 

 

Miller Lite, on the other hand, did nothing to promote any memorable product taste advantage.  Until today! Someone smart over at Miller Lite (and, hopefully, BBH) has identified “triple hopping” as evidence of MillerLite’s great taste. Applause, applause. No really. Applause, applause. If you’ve ever held hops in you hand you’ll know what I mean. 

 

But if some doofus creates launch ads featuring a track and field athlete I may just take a sharp object to myself. Like a cork screw. 

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I grew up on Budweiser beer. Clean, crisp beer. Clydesdales. American colors. No after-taste. Man, it was a great beer on a hot day. Still is.
 
Today, Budweiser and the Anheuser Busch Company are being pursued by InBev, a Belgium company, and number 3 brewer worldwide.   It didn’t have to come to this.  Over the last 15 years Anheuser Busch took its eye off the ball.
 
The latest generation of Buschs let the master brand Budweiser diminish in importance, while building up Bud Lite.  The assumption was the old boys would keep drinking Bud and live forever, so they focused their resources on Bud Light but got in a slug fest with Coors Light. Budweiser sales waned. Moreover, they never understood how to create a brand extension in the craft category. And every year AB spent millions and millions in Super Bowl commercials and thought they were innovating, reading all their great advertising press.  Finally realizing their folly, AB attempted to get younger with Bud.TV, but it was too late and way out of touch. Geezer mentality.
 
If they can bring this thing back, and I dearly hope they do, AB really needs to understand the next generation beer consumer. It’s a BIG market they don’t want to cede to InBev.
 
 
 

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Have we as a society gotten so besotted with ad messages that we can’t even make a good beer commercial? ( don’t include Corona in this assessment, whose simple work I still find to be splendid.)  Now I admit to getting a chuckle every so often hearing the “real men of genius” radio, but it certainly doesn’t make me want to quaff down a Bud Light. But could the Coor’s Light frozen silver bullet train be any more inane? 
 
Coors Light advertising, according to a senior marketing executive, gets back to the brands roots of “refreshing and cold.” Refreshing and fun are Coke’s core attributes; so is it any wonder when I see a Coors Light commercial I get thirsty for a Coke?
 
I’m a beer guy. There are a lot of things that might induce me to drink a frosty one, but a frozen train darting between a bunch of smiling blonde women isn’t one of them. Hmmmm, or is it? Sigmund?      
 

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