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Eric Christianson, chief marketing officers for Perdue Farms, was quoted in USA Today as saying the new package design for its fresh chicken is about “contemporizing the brand” for Millennials.  

Research suggests young consumers care about the humane treatment of animals raised for food – and, so, the industrialized approach to husbandry, e.g., heads sticking though gates, animals shoulder to shoulder, is distasteful.  Perdue has enlivened its packaging with a band of blue at the bottom showing a farm-scape and lone chicken pecking at the ground. Quite a reality stretch, if you ask me.  A consultant quoted in the article suggests this “repositioning” will speak to Millennials. Whoa.  Package design is not positioning.  

Nowhere in Mr. Christianson’s comments did I read about brand strategy. Contemporize is not a brand strategy word. It’s a tactical word. It’s a targeting word. Chief marketing officers who move the same pieces around the gameboard can’t expect long term sales gains.

Repositioning is about brand strategy. Not packaging. Not targeting. Brand strategy is an organizing principle anchored to an idea. I don’t see an idea here.




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I bet if you parsed the records of Uber and Lyft you’d find that millennials comprise the lion share of users.  A good early adopter strategy. As their parents begin to see the value, they add accounts and the universe broadens. I, for one, have an Uber account but have not yet used it, yet a number of my friends have.  Do you know which market segment is really ripe for the picking? 80 year olds.  There are about 18 million US men and women over 75 years of age and they like to go places. They like their independence. Many are driving cars. Cars with door dings, abraded paint, and aching side view mirrors.

This senior market is perfect, but for the technology. How about a landline telephone interface? A special GPS chip, like a grocery store swipe? Cash payment options? Seniors like a deal, so perhaps Uber and Lyft might consider special blue plate pricing specials.

As the ride sharing category gets more competitive, players will be looking for low-cost ways to grow market universe. This one is a no brainer.



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If you were to take all the apps in the world and put them in room then analyze their reasons for being, what would be the commonalities? Access to information. Connectedness among people. Geolocation. And shopping assistance. With the first two of these alone you have enough firepower to change a country’s political future, so we’re not talking trivial functionality here. When combined, these four abilities, are creating unbound wealth and an industry the size of which the planet has never seen. BUT. But most apps, by themselves, are quite shallow, trivial, narcissistic and a waste of good spectrum. And so an opportunity.

That opportunity is for mankind to create web and mobile applications concerned with improving harmonious life on the planet. Less bullying, more cultural understanding. Less bias more plurality. The internet of things that lets us take note of and turn off energy-consuming appliances is a start. Saving money is one motivator for turning out the lights, saving the planet quite another.

Apps that aid the environment, apps that improve health, apps that allow us to contribute positively a sustainable future are going to be the new black.  This is what Kleiner Perkins was thinking about a few years ago. Slow and steady goes the race. As Millennials turn into greyheads, thus will turn the trail of apps. Peace.

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Facebook had some nice earning yesterday.  50% of Facebook log-ons occur via mobile devices and mobile is hot. Facebook’s mobile ads accounted for 14% of rev. Nice news indeed. 

As someone who is a member and student of the marketing community, I’ve marveled at Facebook’s user growth. (While with (who?) I competed with Facebook when they had only 18 million users.)  FB has spawned whole new industries of social and digital ad agencies. It has created a head down behavior for teens and millennials that will give birth to millions in chiropractic business. Facebook is of the moment and the masses love it. For now.

Some financial analysts are predicting the way for Facebook to capture mad new revenue is to sell the data it collects via user clicks and behavior.  That data will be used to plan media buys on other platforms.  So beyond making money selling ads on its own site, a la Google, it will make money selling our data. (I’m guessing these same analysts are not heavy Facebook users.)  If Facebook takes its eyes off the “communications utility for friends” prize (the brand Is-Does) and follows this rev gen trail, it will begin to lose face. And faces.

When you confide in a friend and that friend sells those secrets, trust is lost.  Were the phone able to hear your conversations and send you ads based on what was said, that would be bad right?

Fotchbook can make money many other ways.  Selling our data, behind our backs, is not a good long term strategy. Mr. Zuckerberg do not listed to those portfolio hounds. 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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Like, like….like

I went to a PSFK Conference a number of years ago and posted “Sort of” is the new “um.”  Well, I’m here to update you — “like” is the new “um.”  For 5 years it has been a nervous word kids and Millennials use to fill in their sentences.  But now the word is taking on more meaning, or lack thereof, thanks to Facebook’s use of “like” as a ranking system. 

When a teen or tween tells a friend the gut-wrenching “I like Mary” it’s very different than the like-gating or liking that’s going on when marketers are cheesing consumers into pressing the like button.  Don’t native Inuits have nine different words for snow?

One used to rank online affinity by counting web traffic.  If a site had lots of traffic, it was a well-appreciated site. Web Trends followed that traffic to see what people really landed on and it informed marketers. But then SEO jockeys started cheesing the system and traffic became less relevant. Enter the “like” button. But now even liking isn’t always liking. Google likes liking and calls it +ing (plusing).  

A number of Facebook and Google Plus cottage industries are emerging and helping marketers game the system.  It’s a huge business.  But only about 10% of them really know what they are doing. And that 10% get what corporate CEOs and CFOs get — tie likes to new and recurring sales and you have a touchdown. Otherwise, those likes are flatter than a non-redeemed coupon.  And how would Mary feel about that?  Peace!

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Watch to Learn.

There is something to be said for the ability to observe consumers.  Interviewing is a great and not over-rated technique but consumers don’t always tell the truth. Good interviewers get to the truth directly or indirectly but observation of  behavior doesn’t lie.

I was thinking about this and the bank category the other day.  How does one create a great brand plan, then marketing plan for a bank?  On Long Island, over the last couple of years a lot of car dealerships have been torn down.  Oddly, the lots upon which they sat now house banks. More banks?  How to differentiate?  I wondered if I were to sit in a bank and observe for a couple of days what I would learn. If a poker player can see tells, why can’t brand planner?  

I would watch the eyes of customers as they enter. Watch their hands. Note expressions. As they spoke to bank reps are they falsely smiling and nervous? Do they look at the clock a lot. Check their cell phones too much. Are they emotional? Proud? Deflated?  When they talk about certain subjects do they tick?  Rub their hands together? Look away? You get the picture. Pairing the behavior with the topic would be quite telling. And provide strong fodder for marketing design.

While with a web start-up that boasted no initial desire for formal usability testing (don’t get me started) I did it myself.  Fascinating. Just watching how Millennials navigated around the pages to learn the apps was invaluable. I was able to articulate three types of first user experience (FUE) behavior. Could the users have explained it to me? Doubt it.  My cultural anthropology teachers and Margaret Mead were right. Observation is a special, special information gathering tool. Peace!

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So there’s this question bubbling over in social networking and social media that’s on the minds of engineers, entrepreneurs, demographers and account/brand/communications planners: What’s a friend and what’s a community?

The internet and the social web have flattened the world to the degree that language has allowed. (Language, a major usability problem.)  Let’s say you like the punk rock band X but your best friends don’t — you might have to go outside for X soul mates. To Des Moines, Jakarta, or just across the tracks.  These X-ophiles may be your people. Share your love. Be potential  friends.  But now they are just part of an un-gerrymandered community.

Google+ is working on this, allowing circles of people with common interests to become connected. But Pandora and Spotify are trying to do this with music, is trying to do it with art, with millennials, and the list goes on and on.  For every topic there is an entrepreneurial with an idea and an answer.  And a VC behind them to feed the frenzy.  And I love it. I loved exchanging punk rock stories with a 20 something in Qatar. It wasn’t creepy, it was awesome.  The kid wasn’t a friend. The kid was part of a community of interest. Danah Boyd, the future CEO of Microsoft, is right about the web; it is an amazing tool, with the ability to harness and free all our positive and negative human energies. But the goods far outweigh the bads.

The debate and commercial applications surrounding what is a friend and what is a community will continue.  And evolve. Marketers and publishers who figure out the different and the byplay will build powerful, powerful things. You friend in the ether, Steve.  Peace!

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Hewlett-Packard is launching a new ad campaign today for the TouchPad tablet and it sounds rather messy.  I read about it in The New York Times ad column and hope it’s just poor reporting. The story was written by Elizabeth Olson.

Here’s my strategic take. 

  • HP is late to market with the tablet and needs to get noticed.
  • HP has a new operating system (OS), which will drive all its hardware devices. Called webOS, it will integrate their smartphones, PCs, printers, tablets and soon other devices and appliances.  It’s a cool promise, but s complicated story.
  • Printers are a big franchise and potential differentiator, so HP wants to make them more relevant.
  • The purchase of Palm and the growth of the smartphone market has made the mobile business a critical growth component.
  • HP is not a big brand with Millennials and teens.

That is a lot of stuff to convey.  If you have to say 5 things, you’ve said nothing.

The NY Times story starts out talking about a new commercial with Russell Brand. I’m feeling it.  A little old school, but I’m feeling it. Then it says there are executions with stars from iCarly and Glee. The future holds spots/vids from Lebron James and Jay-Z and Lady Gaga did some work in May but has not re-upped.  Add to that, all the social media contests (100 free TouchPads) and Twitter tchotch and you begin to see how it’s going to be hard to find the idea. Goodby Silverstein is a great  ad shop, but it doesn’t sound as if it hasn’t corralled this herd of goats. 

My head is spinning.  I hope it is just a lot of info, not well organized, by a reporter from another newspaper beat. And I’m no Leo Apotheker. Peace!


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Bing may be a better search engine; it may not be.  If you listen to Microsoft insiders it certainly is. If you listen to SEO nerds it’s a toss-up or a no.  If you try Bing, it appears to be a new skin with better pictures on the same algo.

Bing’s initial advertising straddled the fence on 2 ideas: the decision engine and information overload. The latter was fun and made for great advertising and a great launch. It set the stage for an implicit benefit: make better decisions. The benefit was not explicit, though the tagline was. Microsoft recently moved the Bing business to Crispin Porter Bogusky from JWT and is running a new TV ad talking about Facebook integration. (Integration is a word techies use when at a loss for other words.) The new work is cute and will appeal to fast-twitch media consumers (millennials) but it feels idea-less.  I’m not getting information overload or decision engine.

Though not everyone who searches is looking to make a decision, decision engine is a good strategy. Tying the wagon (Could I be more of a geezer?) to Facebook or Project Glee is a borrowed interest approach to marketing. It’s a tactic. The nerdiest softies in Redmond know their search algo is better than Google’s. Someone just needs to find out why. And how.  Then take that how and wrap it English — with song, pictures and video and sell some clicks. And the real softy nerds know this. “Why are we singing, when we should be saying?” Decision engine is the idea.  Organize the proof. Peace!

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