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I was reading an LG ad this morning, the headline for which was the “Customer Satisfaction: The Only Thing That Matters.” It struck me as a typical marketing pander. LG is a South Korean electronics company aggressively pushing into the U.S. market.  My gut tells says the products are competitively priced, elegantly designed, but of just average quality. Again, my brand gut talking.  Not too much different from the position Samsung was in 20 years ago, before Peter Arnell did his brand refresh magic.

Customer satisfaction is never the only thing that matters in manufacturing today. Price matters. Quality matters. (One could rightly argue quality is directly tied to satisfaction.) But materials and planet matter too. Materials that are hard to recycle or that dissipate into the atmosphere as carbons, matter. Even if they make consumers “satisfied.”

So the good people at LG are right to care about customer sat. but they should pay heed to the very American care-abouts that the planet is warming, the climate is growing more squirrely, and electronics manufacturers need to do better. That is something that will make us all satisfied.



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There will be a time in the future when virtual reality glasses will be as common as mobile phones. Perhaps more so. We’ll look back at the failed Google Glass project and whatever first generation of Oculus VR goggles are released and see what we saw when we look back at the AT&T EO and Apple Newton. It won’t be just a virtual reality device, it will offer lots of comms and locational services. These devices will be small, unobtrusive and agile.

How soon will they be here? I’m guessing 2020. Who will devise them? Facebook, Samsung, maybe Sony, and possibly Microsoft. They will probably be free, paid for by advertising. But ads won’t look like they do today, they will more likely be on-demand, Siri-like request and response services.

It’s going to be wild. Count on it.





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iSpot is Tres Cool.

iSpot is a new ad tracking platform that marries TV spot appearances and spending with an overlay of online sharing activity.  It’s a brilliant idea. (Oh, happy New Year’s Eve, by the way.) During my time at McCann while spending big bucks on TV advertising for AT&T, the tracking people always paired weekly spend with the revenue it generated. I always marveled at how the revenue lagged the spend by a week or two. This lag was the case for most consumer packaged goods. It’s interesting to note that according to iSpot there’s a similar lag in social sharing of TV spots.  Most shares of the Geico “Hump Day” and Samsung Galaxy Gear spots were not on the night of the ads, but a few days after. Check out the metrics.

My problem with social, and I know it works trust me, is that what we are often measuring is divorced from sales.  Clicks. Likes. Shares. Views.  iSpot’s new platform provides data feed that should plug in nicely to sales reports. Como se holy grail?

Readers of Whats The Idea? know about Twitch Point Planning — a twitch being a media moment when one engages a separate device for additional information, learning or sharing.  iSpot is a platform with a chance to make Twitch Point Planning a prime time tool. And vice versa. Stay tuned in 2014.

Peace be upon you.  

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Apple has been on the front page of many metropolitan newspapers over the last couple of years.  The FoxConn story on manufacturing in China under un-American circumstances, the hard looks at Steve Jobs during publication of his biography and passing and now its tax avoidance.  It’s almost as if some in the media have an axe to grind with this darling of American commerce and technology.  Overdogs often are targeted. Yet with all this bad press, most consumers still love Apple.


Microsoft used to be the overdog and all consumers used their products — but most skewered them. Many techies loved to kill them on message boards, in offices and around the digital coolers.  The only Microsoft advocates worked at Microsoft.

So how why does Apple get stink on itself and still maintain the love? Products. And proper brand management. Much of the latter is due to Lee Clow, TBWA/Chiat Day, Steve Jobs himself and the marketing Kool-Aid drinkers.  The Apple ads are fun, funny, sometimes biting, colorful and artful.  And clean like the products.

I’m hard-pressed to see how the latest tax image problem will be resolved by Apple, but I’m sure it will be. Samsung, Microsoft, HTC and Google Glass will fight Apple for share of wallet. But when it comes to the “love,” they will need to create and manage their brands with grace, insight and focus if they are to beat the overdog syndrome. (Google and it’s agency BBH have a clue. Eye on them.) Peace.

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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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