May 29, 2008

But Wait-- There's More: The Daily Biz Interview

Daily Biz, who writes an excellent blog, has done his part for the Campaign To Exalt and Glorify Alan Wolk by granting me an interview that takes off where Media Bistro's SuperSpy and Adpulp's David Burn left off.

Now that we all know that Tangerine Toad is really Creative Director Alan Wolk, most recently of FCBi, and the dust has settled a little bit on that revelation, it’s time to see if it was really worth it for him to do the big identity reveal and to ask other questions that I’m just curious to know the answer of. »READ MORE

May 28, 2008

Free Advice

Because stupidity really bugs me...

As most of you probably know, American Airlines recently announced that they were going to begin charging $15 per checked bag on all domestic flights. And the Wall Street Journal notes that the other major US carriers are likely to follow suit.

Now there's an unwritten law of retail that says you can never take anything away from customers without majorly pissing them off. Not even the free bowl of mints next to the cash register. (The "why" on this isn't hard to figure out: people see these dimunations in service as being punitive.)

So if I were running an airline, I'd jack up the fares by $15 across the board. (I mean given how much they've risen already, it's not like anyone's going to notice) and then give a $15 break to anyone traveling without checked baggage. Call it a "Green Credit" or something and make it seem like you're rewarding them for being environmentally friendly and helping to reduce the airlines carbon footprint and all.

It would get you a whole lot of good press, make Wall Street think you "get it" and (most importantly) not piss off the bulk of your leisure traveling customers.

Return To Authenticity

The always excellent Barbara Lippert had a great column in Adweek yesterday about this year’s award shows that questioned why ads like the ones for Cadbury and Sony Bravia were winning all sorts of honors and being heaped with all sorts of praise.

Her point, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is not that these are bad ads. In fact, they’re very good ads, which any agency would be proud to have on their reel. But given that the standard for a D&AD Black Pencil is “a piece of work or campaign that is truly groundbreaking; the kind of work that redefines a medium” Lippert wonders:
So how exactly did "Play-Doh," for Sony's Bravia TVs, meet those exalted criteria, given that it's the third iteration of the same idea for selling "color like no other" and features Rolling Stones music first used to launch the original Apple iMac 10 years ago. And then there's the surreal appearance of hundreds of multi-hued bunnies that many bloggers immediately jumped on as an obvious "borrow'' from the Los Angeles-based artists Kozyndan.

For that matter, what's up with awarding the Black Pencil to Cadbury's "Gorilla"? Sure, it's an entertaining and smartly executed spot. In fairness, though, where's the idea, if not the connection to Cadbury? It comes down to a guy in a gorilla suit playing the drums. By those standards, America's Funniest Home Videos is enormously groundbreaking as well.
And her point is well-taken. There’s absolutely nothing ground-breaking about these spots. They’re well-produced and entertaining, but deliver the typical unrealistic overpromise that’s come to define the past sixty years of advertising.

Looking at these spots through the prism of The Real Digital Revolution, the Sony spots build awareness for the Bravia LCD TVs. And while the spots promise all sorts of beautiful colors, online reviews tell another story: CNET gives the Bravia a 7.0 out of 10.0, while Sound & Vision magazine notes: Its black depth and shadow detail fall short of what I've seen from the best plasma sets. So the consumer, having just watched this extravaganza, is likely left wondering if they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Lippert ends the article by talking about the “Whopper Freakout” campaign from CBP, which she correctly praises for its authenticity. It may have been a stunt, but the consumer reactions were real. No one is promising you anything, let alone overpromising.

And while the idea itself is at least as old as the “we swapped Folger’s coffee for the coffee in this fine restaurant” spots of my childhood, the return to authenticity is actually fairly groundbreaking and much more in line with today’s consumer mindset.

May 27, 2008

Our Personal Prom Kings

My take on Jane Sample's Brand Day meme and the ensuing comments got me to thinking about how certain brands become our own personal Prom King Brands. By that I mean brands to which we remain loyal and attach a great deal of significance to, in what otherwise are low-engagement categories.

For Christina Kerley (CK) it's Paul Newman's pasta sauce. For me it's things like Listerine toothpaste, Thorlo socks and a host of other tics that I won't bore you with. And tics is an apt descriptor, since for many of us, our devotion can best be described as a Larry David-esque tic, an irrational devotion to a certain brand that transcends logic and rational thought.

Now for marketers, the fact that even Thorlo socks can have a brand evangelist (and I have been known to preach to people, especially people who engage in strenuous athletic activity, on the benefits of Thorlo socks) is significant in that we need to figure out how to reach these people.

Advertising isn't worth it for them-- they know, far more than you do, why your product is so great. They don't need reminding. (Unless, of course, you've got some news for them about a new product line or innovation.)

But they're also not going to go on a brand-specific social media site and start participating. Your brand is not one they see as an intrinsic part of who they are (which is the way they view true Prom King Brands like Nike, Apple and Starbucks) but rather as a relevant piece of knowledge they have (e.g. "Paul Newman sauce is better than any other sauce.")

That's why you've got to engage them elsewhere.

Using my Thorlo socks example, I'm not going to start participating on SockBlog. But I may write something positive about Thorlo on a running blog like Internal Pigdog. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one. So maybe you take us and put us on a consumer advisory board. Give us a bunch of free socks for taking an hour to talk to your research or product development people. Something that acknowledges our devotion to your brand without forcing us to make you a part of our identity.

I suspect it would be well worth the effort.

May 23, 2008

My Brand Day - Evening Edition

Part 3 of 3. Evenings are pretty tame here too: come home, eat dinner (usually made with groceries my wife has bought at the local Whole Foods), playtime, the three Bs (bath, books and bed) a little TV and blogging, then time for bed. (I'm re-reading Anna Karenina, which I'm usually too tired to get through more than a few pages of each night.)

7:30 PM

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12:00 AM

Part 1 - Morning Edition
Part 2 - Workday Edition

My Brand Day - Workday Edition

(Part 2 of 3) So my workday is pretty straightforward. I come in, fire up the laptop, open up a host of apps and work. If I'm in meetings, I may grab a pen, but that's about it. I eat lunch at Pret-A-Manger more than most places and I watch Lost on the train ride home-- with distractions, it usually takes about three trips to watch a full episode.

I also read a lot of blogs-- far too many to gather the logos of. So to avoid the risk of offending anyone by accidental omission, I'll point you to the right-hand nav blogroll.

9:45 AM

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Part 1 Morning Edition
Part 3 Evening Edition