Peter Arnell

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Here’s the thing. Hyundai did an amazing job in America with its long game of winning minds and market share. The low price point, 10-year warranty is the stuff of which Harvard Business School cases are made. I say long term, because that’s how you build a car brand – over time.  It’s a considered purchase, an expensive purchase. Hyundai did it the right way and consumer perceptions of quality and value were growing more and more positive.

Then came Genesis. The car designs were amazing. The ads, off-the-charts well-conceived. But the brand strategy was lacking. America wasn’t ready for a luxury brand from Hyundai. Just wasn’t. (And don’t go all focus group defensive on me.)     

When Peter Arnell did a branding assignment to make Samsung more a mainstream electronics brand 30+ years ago, it felt wrong. But it worked. The timing was right. The proofs were baked. Today Samsung rocks.

Genesis might have worked had it not been a Hyundai brand. Or if introduced 10 years down the road. But Alas, Poor Yorik, it was not.




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The Samsung Leash.

Samsung should be the world’s most powerful and prestigious brand. Peter Arnell knew it in the 80s and did his part to burnish the brand. Every time I turn on my Samsung flatty to watch a little TV  I’m in awe.  The color saturation and picture never cease to amaze.  Though I don’t own the Galaxy III smart phone, it is no apologist piece of hardware.

Samsung, makes great office phone systems, microwaves and, I suspect, has ships loaded with merch heading for our ports in numbers we can’t fathom.  So why isn’t the Samsung brand more powerful?  Why has South Korean executive management stood in the way of this amazing brand? South Koreans get style and new like few other cultures, yet Samsung refuses to let go of the North American reins. They are okay being a challenger brand. They are okay being adaptive rather than brand innovative. And they continue to spend promotional dollars with South Korean transplant agencies (read Cheil) and little ad hoc shops while some of the best marketing shops we have to offer are never called.

Samsung in the U.S. needs to throw its weight around.  It needs a brand leader (person) in the U.S. with some power.  South Korea needs to “drop the leash.” It’s a flat world. Let freedom ring. Peace.

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One of advertising’s roles is to change peoples’ attitudes.  Some might call this image or brand advertising, which is quite different from retail or transactional advertising.  General Motors is really bad at brand advertising.  They try hard and spend money but for some reason it rarely changes attitudes. 

Samsung, using the work of the Arnell Group,  was one of the first corporations to strike me as getting it.  It was back in the 90s when the word Samsung conveyed second tier products, cheap electronics and dollar-store imagery.  Using Peter Arnell’s mind and, I believe, his camera, Samsung displayed its products around NYC on big black, white and gray outdoor posters, alongside sexy human images.  A ripped torso carrying a microwave may sound silly but is was artful.  It burnished then polished the Samsung image.  

Bosch is doing the same today with a product-based image campaign showing off a number of its stylish household appliances. In my mind Bosch was famous for brake shoes and audio products, not refrigerators and dishwashers.  But the print ads I’ve been seeing over the last few months have made me notice how beautifully designed these appliance are.  The consistent advertising tells me they are here to stay and the engineering heritage borrowed from memory compliments the pictures and words.  I would definitely buy a Bosch appliance now. Image.

Without an image transactions are fleeting.  Understand your brand — its past and present. Decide where you want to go and make that part of your brand plan.  Toss out overused words like “innovation” and “remarkable” and “engagement.” Get in touch with your image goal and build a brand plan.  Sales will follow. Peace.

PS.  Image can be built using new digital media.  In fact, it can be build much faster. But it has to be “on plan” and focused.

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What’s the idea with Tropicana Premium Orange Juice?

I’m okay with updating the Tropicana Orange Juice carton, which Omnicom’s Arnell Group just did, but not to the point where it looks like a milk carton, which they also just did. Losing the trademarked orange with protruding straw was a mistake.  That icon was the fastest, easiest way to convey positive feelings and associations about the product. And it helped differentiate Tropicana from all the water and flavor-added orange drinks. A glass of juice does not bring forth great images from the recesses of the mind the way an orange does. Ahhh orange blossoms.

The new idea using the word “squeeze” as its center point is a dual strategy. It is meant to make up for the loss of the orange and at the same time drive consumers to thoughts of wonderful human images. Nyet! I do love the new cap on the carton though, shaped as half an orange. It would have been a great accent on the old carton.

Seems like Tropicana may have gotten the “B” Team while Mr. Arnell and his people were off logging hours on the Pepsi redesign.


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