stuart elliot

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I was just reading in The New York Times about Red Lobster’s new ad campaign.  The campaign idea “Sea food differently,” is a little off-piste and perhaps a bit too creative.  The ads introduces a new logo with some locked-up words “Fresh Fish, Live Lobster” which is nice.  But the good news is, the traditional Red Lobster advertising that everyone can play back in their sleep — the big lemon squirt over a lobster tail and some superimposed pricing — will be replaced by ads with real people (people test well) talking about Alaska’s cold waters or oak used for grilling.

This is a no brainer improvement for the work out of Grey, NY.  Advertising is all about claim and proof. The lemon squirt work was “we’re here” retail advertising at its best, which isn’t saying too much. The new work has a strategy.  If advertising is about claim and proof, branding is about claim and delimited, organized proof.  My take on the new brand plan for Red Lobster is that the proof planks are roughly: fresh fish, grilling, and lobster.

Stuart Elliot’s article spends a lot of time talking about the people in the ads, but the reason the ads will work is not because of the fisherman with the beard from Ahh-rass-kahhhh (Alaska), but the storied proof and pictures that demonstrate the strategy.  People deliver the strategy, they aren’t the strategy.    

Campaigns come and go but a powerful brand strategy is indelible. Sounds like Red Lobster has a tight brand strategy.  I smell some sales! Good job Darden and Grey. Peace!

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Poor, poor New York Knicks.  They own and play in the world’s most famous arena.  They’re backed by a smart company that has more money and love (for them) than are most sports franchises, but when it comes to marketing they can’t find their fanny with their hands.


Co:, a new marketing company formed by Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan, most recently of JWT, touted the Knicks as one of their first clients.  How’s that coffee smell y’all?  What a mess they stepped into.  Today’s New York Times reports the new Knicks adverting effort is a five agency ass-grab, sans an idea.  Co: has really taken a small role, according to the article, with only a limited mention.  Stuart Elliot, the Times advertising writer, suggests the idea is “You. Us. We. Now.”  Is that an idea…or four? Is there an acronym for Cry Out Loud? 

Everyone interviewed in the article says the wrong thing. The story suggests tactics-palloza  — and there is a focus on “fan engagement” that is well-intended but laughable.


Last year the Knicks idea was “Declare.”  What they meant to say was “Represent” but that, I’m sure, was a bit too urban.  How can you be urban and not urban in one word?  

The creative this year focuses on the players because they are all new. Lazy. It should be focusing on the basketball void that has been NYC for years. Hear that sucking sound?  If you want some hoops in NYC this year get your shoes out to Carnesecca Arena. Peace!

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AOL new logo


AOL announced today they will be introducing a new logo. It will include a dot at the end of the letters Aol, which will appear using initial cap “A”, lower case “o” and “l”.

That’s the post. That’s all I learned. See you tomorrow.

(Okay, okay, I learned a little more than that, but had to read between the lines to do so.)

AOL has a product strategy, which I’ve known for a while thanks to new CEO Tim Armstrong. It is “AOL is the place to be for the best online content, period.” Mr. Armstrong articulated this strategy early on in his tenure. It’s tight and smart.

What they don’t have at this time is a brand strategy. Had they a brand strategy they wouldn’t have only talked tactically about the mark in their announcement. To wit (from an article by Stuart Elliot in the The New York Times today):

“The period in the logo was added to suggest confidence, completeness.”

“The AOL dot is the pivotal point for what comes after AOL.”

“An advertising campaign to promote the new look is being considered — as is the role to be played by AOL brand character known as the running man.”

You feel me? All tactics (hat) no brand strategy (cattle.)

Changing the logo was a good idea, but doing so after articulating the brand strategy and brand planks is way more sensible. Peace!

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Branded entertainment is a form of advertising that showcases products, in theory, in a less-intrusive way, but I have rarely seen it done so. Navistar International is sponsoring a documentary called “Drive and Deliver,” intended to help push the new Lonestar truck and according to Stuart Elliot in his New York Times column today the rough cut still has a few too many close-ups of the truck.  That said, with proper editing this film by Fathom Communications might just sell some serious trucks. It’s a unique enough subject to create a cult following, but more importantly the target of the effort, truck buyers, are crazy-passionate about their rigs and their craft. (Ever hear a trucker talk about his/her Peterbilt?) Anyway, the casting looks right, let’s just hope the story-telling is too.
Those who have watched the reality show “Deadliest Catch” and not wondered what an Alaskan King Crab tastes like may not agree, but I’m betting this effort will demonstrate that the marketing industry is beginning to acquire more finesse when it comes to branded entertainment. Peace!

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According to Stuart Elliott, the advertising columnist for The New York Times, J. C. Penny is launching a new clothing and home furnishings line called American Living. Using product designs by Ralph Lauren, whose name and sub-brands will not be associated with the new brand, the American Living launch will look and feel like Polo ads and be shot by Bruce Weber the photographer who has established Ralph Lauren’s consumer face.

This approach is so rear view mirror. Rear view mirror planning looks at things that have worked in the past and simply repackages them. Penny is not looking into the future with this approach and, frankly, neither is Ralph Lauren whose brands should take a hit due to the closeness of this new campaign. Brand dilution will occur.  
And the name “American Living,” could it be a more predictable pander? It’s straight out of the Lauren playbook, which if you ask me is beginning to get a little old. If Bruce Weber gets hit by a mattress truck (God forbid) both brands will be in serious shape. J.C. Penny is doing the right thing here, but they are looking through the rear window instead of the windshield. Their new customers are younger and out in front….waiting for something new. 

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