Red Bull

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The two most important elements in marketing are claim and proof.  It’s how you build businesses. Simplified and organized, this claim and proof approach is the foundation of branding.  One claim, three support or proof planks.

One of my kids just graduated college and is on the interview circuit. Loaded for bear, somewhat unfettered, he believes a willingness to work hard, learn and focus on achievement are the qualities that will land him a job. He’s not wrong. But these things sound like your average cover letter. When shared face-to-face over a desk, they are a bit numbing.  My suggestion was “don’t forget the proof.”  Follow up each claim with examples. 

This is what marketers often forget.  More often than not marketers and their agents remove proof so they can shoehorn in more claims. It’s claim-apalooza out there. All theater, exposition, and context – no proof.

When a job seeker organizes what s/he wants the interviewer to know about themselves and sells it with stories about real event it can be indelible.  Same with brand building. When the dude jumped out of the capsule up in space and free-fell to earth while drinking Red Bull (JKJK), he evinced an energy rush second to none. 10 million media impressions be damned. That was a powerful moment of proof. Peace.

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Stuart Elliott did a great and interesting article in The New York Times today on Nike. He points out the difficulty they’re having staying more relevant in the footwear category. The oft-quoted Allan Adamson of Landor, a NY brand consultancy, suggested “The bigger the brand, the harder it is to stay trendy and current. It’s hard to be cutting edge when you are established.”  And Davide Grasso, VP for global brand management at Nike added “As we continue to grow in size, it’s important we stay connected. If you take away the toys and the noise, it’s all about having a relationship.”

What both of the gentlemen are not talking about is the brand itself.  Mr. Adamson wants Nike to stay trendy. A tight brand plan would have the company create what is trendy. And Mr. Grasso talks about the consumer relationship. Every pizza parlor, dentist and global marketer cares about the relationship.  This is a tactic.

Red Bull’s sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner parachuting from space is lauded for its 33.5 million YouTube views.  Not many talk about the brand strategy of exhilaration – the demonstration of exhilaration – that will live long after click counts.

Nike is a not a string of marketing tactics and ads delivered by Wieden +Kennedy; it’s a brand continuing to carve out a place in consumers’ minds. And closets.  Every brand needs a brand plan (one claim, three support planks). Without a plan we deliver and are interviewed about tactics. Yawn. Peace.  

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Check out this video of the Cut and Paste digital design competition in NYC in October. It is the best single promotional video I’ve seen for getting high school and college kids to get into commercial web design.  The beats, the fashion, the story all serve up the craft of digital design brilliantly.  If you don’t like rap and you don’t like the city and you don’t like brew, you can still get into this vibe.  It’s real and it’s tomorrow. I’m not sure that this Cut and Paste competition was tasked as a recruitment tool and frankly before the recession there were a lot more these type of digital throw down parties but, hey, R/GA, Razorfish and Rockfish, forget the recruiting tents, beer cozie circuit at campuses and get behind Cut and Paste because this is the haps.

 Look into these kids eyes.  This isn’t staged “Put your hands in the air!” crap.

If you read the comments on Agency Spy, Adweek or Ad Age, you’ll know many agency people are jealous, angry, envious and delusional.  Even before online comment pages, the business was infected by malcontents. (And with many out of work, the business they love to hate is filled with even more vitriol.)  But Cut and Paste gives me hope. The next gen of beanie-wearing, skinny jeaned design acolytes are pretty excited and pumped.

We need more of this.  Give people something they love and the won’t work a day in their lives.  Coding at 2 A.M.by the light of a Red Bull machine may not be glamorous, but this vid points toward the prize. And as my chillens used to say “I yike it.”  Peace. 

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I had a great day yesterday thanks to the Internet.  TechCrunch Disrupt was held in NYC again and streamed live. For freezle. Fred Wilson (AVC.com) of Union Square Ventures started things off interviewed by TechCrunch veteran Erick Schonfeld and Fred offered some gems on venture investing.  Union Square has invested in Twitter, Etsy, Disqus, Foursquare, Tumblr and Zynga, lately making Kleiner Perkins appear standing still.

Some Fred thoughts:

  • It’s better to be an anthropologist than technologist in venture capital.
  • Social, global, mobile and cloud are the key trends.
  • We invest in the cultural revolution.
  • We like people who have a deep obsession over a long period of time.

Dennis Crowley of Foursquare was there and smart. Chris Dixon an investor and edge burnisher was a panelist. Michael Arrington, three quarters funny, interviewed his boss Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL. Between speakers and panelists, there were green room interviews – a very nice touch.  Back in the day (a year or two ago) if you tried to stream something like this, it would have been a herky jerky mess.  Not now.  Not with Ustream. The afternoon was a start-up jump ball in front of other entrepreneurs and VCs, some of which I watched but found to be a bit below the morning program.

The event rocked.  And speaking of rock, in the 70s and 80s in NYC, it was the rock star start-ups who were rock stars.  Now they are tech dudes. The art is different, the drug is Red Bull and the output is hard to dance and hum to — but tech is really bringing NYC back. Plus there was a big East Coast/West Coast thing going at the event, too.

If you can attend next year…or if you can’t but can clear the decks to watch the stream, do it. There’s money to be learned. Peace.

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Here’s one of my favorite song lyrics. It’s from the rawness that is David Allan Coe:

The old man was covered in tattoos and scars;
He got some in prison and others in bars.
The rest, he got workin’ on old junk cars…
In the daytime.

I was reading the paper paper today and noticed a nice big Rolex ad featuring Lindsey Vonn skiing.  She is not covered in tattoos but might as well have been.  Here are some of her sponsors: Red Bull, Spyder Thinsulate, Nature Valley, Charles Schwab, Audi, Visa, Sprint and Alka Seltzer Plus — and that’s just on the front of her racing suit. She also represents Head skis, I believe, but they’re on her feet and hard to see.

Red Bull

I tweeted a couple of weeks ago before the Olympics that someone smart should pick up Lindsey and sponsor her. Within an hour someone from Red Bull (good job monitoring, btw) responded that they were her sponsor. Red Bull has done a better job than some with Lindsey – they own her helmet – but the reality is much of their stuff is still tattoo-like.  As Bob Gilbreath says in his good book The Next Evolution of Marketing (better known as Marketing with Meaning), tattooed logos aren’t particularly meaningful.  The reason I didn’t know Ms. Vonn had sponsors was because no one had really pushed their brand idea into her being.

I read somewhere that the Red Bull branding idea has something to do with “flying.” Can’t tell from their website.  And if I can’t spot a brand idea, there probably isn’t one. Sponsors need to understand themselves before they can create a meaningful and promotable relationship with a spokesperson. They need to know their idea. Peace!

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