Thursday, December 31

Dick Clark to Ryan Seacrest

It's New Year's Eve, and I have to give a shout out to Dick Clark. He "owns" this holiday in my mind, right from my first memories. New Year's Rockin' Eve. Every holiday season Dick Clark would roll in the new year with a television special that not only counted down to midnight, but also featured the hottest musical artists of the year. He branded a new generation of New Year's Eve and we all tuned in.

Remember American Bandstand, the tv show he hosted year after year? For those of you too young to know, American Bandstand was "all that" when we were teenagers. I would watch it every week to catch the latest music sensation. The show was really only one of a few ways that we could actually "see" our favorite acts ... this was WAY before music videos on MTV.

Between these two pop iconic television shows, Dick Clark became a brand over the years. The perennial teenager, music insider, and MC. Everyone knew Dick Clark and loved him for what he brought to us.

Of course now he is up there in age, in not so great health, and ready to pass the baton. To ..... Ryan Seacrest.

Ryan Seacrest has kind of taken over the Dick Clark brand. Host of American Idol, the franchise that in many ways is the American Bandstand of today. And New Year's Eve. For the past few years, including this year, Dick Clark shares the spotlight of the "ball drop" with Ryan Seacrest, the new generation of music MC. Ryan Seacrest also took over the weekly music chart countdown hosted by Dick Clark back in the day as well.

Dick Clark is transferring his brand right before our eyes. If you are into this kind of stuff, it's actually quite impressive.

All the best to you in 2010.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, December 30

Times Square, Branding Central

I don't know the actual stats, but I have to believe that December is the busiest month in NYC. The tourists pack in to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, to go shopping on 5th Avenue, and to eat at the amazing amazing restaurants. Have you been to LeGranouille during the holidays? The flowers (and the food) are one-of-a-kind.

While walking through midtown the other night, I realized that there's another part of the city that will soon attract the country's attention.

Times Square. Sure there are all the Broadway Shows that millions have enjoyed this season. And of course the ball that drops on New Year's (Rockin') Eve. But there is something else that captured my attention and made my heart skip a beat. The brands!

Times Square is kind of like branding central. Many many of the iconic brands of our culture are there and quite alive either on elaborate billboards or with a real physical presence.

Coca-Cola, Disney, M&M's, ESPN, MTV, Hershey's, Toys 'R Us, Hard Rock, Marriott ... The list goes on. And many people who go to Times Square are there to experience those brands. They shop, they eat, they take pictures of the billboards. They even post those pictures on their status updates. Even native New Yorkers do that!

Truthfully, it's a pretty amazing sight. Particularly if you are in marketing. All the big pop culture brands alive and thriving right in one historic place. The colors, the motions, the video, the logos ... so exciting. Branding central. Quite an inspiration.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, December 28


It all started with Black Friday with the "friend" discounts on Facebook, and the "tweets" on Twitter announcing items of the day. And then Cyber Monday took off with the biggest day in e-commerce history, and it's been an "e-holiday" ever since.

It seems like this year was the tipping point. Sure e-commerce has been growing steadily year after year. But to my eye, this year topped the scales because of social media. Everything is online and interconnected and it's amazing. I didn't step one foot in a shopping mall, and I am proud to say it! But I did share an awful lot with my friends online.

Even Christmas cards went the way of "e". I got far more e-greetings than traditional snail mail cards for the first time ever.

My biggest surprise of the holiday season? Sales of e-books. I didn't buy any myself but I just read that sales of e-books surpassed sales of regular books this holiday season. It doesn't surprise me that the early adopters are latching on. What does surprise me though is how fast e-books are going mass. The first holiday season and they are already in the lead. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

I also just got word that my new book, "The Experience Effect", will go right to e-books in May.

It was indeed a wonderful, white Christmas, with everything "e"!

What's your experience? Jim.

Sunday, December 27

Weekly Resolution 12/28/09


The cell phone that is. We've all grown so attached to it that we always have it at our side. So much so that the minute it chimes with a new text message, beeps with a new email, vibrates with a news alert, or rings with a caller, we instantly feel compelled to answer it. No matter where we are.

In a meeting. Driving the car. Eating dinner. Having a nice conversation with someone else. It's crazy and a bit rude at times.

Just 'cause it rings doesn't mean we have to drop what we are doing and answer it. It's good to be connected, but let's not get carried away. I am just as guilty as the next guy.

So my resolution is this: if I am doing something important, I'm going to let that ring wait. Rest assured, it won't wait long ... but I am going to let it wait while I finish up the important thing I am doing, especially when it's at a time when I am listening to someone else. They are just as important as the phone call coming in.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, December 23

RIP, Saab

Another one bites the dust.

Saab announced this week that the brand is going to fade away, like several other car brands this 18 months. Not sure if many of you remember, but there was a day when Saab was the "it" car. I was living in Boston right after college and it seemed like everybody had a Saab. And to have the Saab convertible was the end all be all. And then came BMW....

It's sad, actually. Partly because I hate to see good brands go away and because I'm sure it means that many many people have lost jobs as a result. But it's also sad because I think it could have been avoided with better marketing. Specifically a better understanding of what consumers want in a car.

It's easy to blame the disappearance of Saab on the economy. With joblessness at an all time high, luxury cars are, well, a luxury. The economy is a bit of a scapegoat here, though, because I think with better marketing that this car brand (and many others) could be alive and kicking.

Look at Ford and Suburu. Ford has downsized its line (and it's cars AND it's fuel in take AND it's cost structure), and spends the most of any carmaker on social media marketing initiatives. Seems like they have a better understanding of its consumer.

And Suburu has been known for years as really listening to consumers, loading their cars with features, and providing great customer service.

The auto industry in general, and Saab specifically since it's in the spotlight here, has simply not caught up. The industry hasn't listened to consumers and it hasn't given them what they need. The brands are not connecting with consumers in their marketing programs, helping them to live a better life.

Do we need to see one more television commercial of a car speeding along a windy California road. Or listen to one more "winter sales event"? C'mon, connect with me! Please.

I know that I personally need a new car. I have a 7 (yes 7) year old Land Rover Discovery with 149,000 miles on it (yes, 149,000 miles). I need a new car. But I am so dis-interested. There's nothing out there that excites me, that speaks to me, or that I want to incorporate into my life. It's ridiculous, actually.

That's not good marketing. And I'm afraid that Saab is paying for it now.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, December 21

Newspapers Alive and Social with Trident

Another great example of a brand using social media in traditional media channels. Trident ran a full page color ad in USAToday, featuring all the tweets from its followers, specifically comments for its new product, Trident Layers. The ad literally recreated the tweets as a way to showcase testimonials for the new product.

Wait, I thought traditional media was dead? Double wait, I thought newspapers were dead?

Guess not in the eyes of Trident, and hopefully not in the eyes of their consumers either.

Interesting way to leverage early adopters of a new product, and to use their networks to spread the word.

I'm sure the other part of the strategy is to generate more Trident followers on Twitter. Again, interesting technique to use traditional media to drive consumers to social media. Hmmm. More followers means more engagement so I guess it makes sense. It's the whole "she told two friends" kind of thing. Although in the world of social media, the average is actually 11 friends. Do the math and it spreads fast, which is what a brand needs for a new product.

Good move, Trident. Can't wait to see the results.

What's your experience? Jim

Weekly Resolution 12/21/09


I don't know if it is the holiday season or if it was the incredible snow storm, but everywhere I went this weekend people were holding doors for each other.

You know, when you are trying to rush into a store and the person in front of you pauses for a few extra seconds to hold the door for you to make it easier for you to come in.

It's a simple thing, really. But it means so much. Taking a pause in your own pursuits to help a fellow person. Honestly, it was so pervasive that I really did notice it and it totally made my day. Made me feel more connected to the world and made me feel like I was surrounded by nice people. People who care.

Such a simple thing. So my resolution is to be a bit more conscious about holding the door for people. Maybe it'll make their day just a little bit nicer.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, December 18

Pepsi, Not So Super?

Pepsi just announced the un-thinkable in beverage marketing. The un-imaginable. I wasn't sure that we would ever see this day come from a soda brand.

Pepsi is pulling out of the Super Bowl ... now pull yourself up off the floor.

Along with the announcement is the declaration that the brand will instead pour those marketing dollars into social media and online marketing. They didn't say that they weren't going to do television advertising at all, just not on the Super Bowl.

Wow. Now I have gone on record many times saying that television isn't dead. And I still believe it that there will be a role for television and television advertising, at least in our lifetime.

But what is certainly alive and thriving is the desire to effectively reach and engage consumers with a compelling brand experience. And to do that, especially in this economy, requires smart thinking, good budgeting, and a healthy marketing mix. A mix of advertising, retail, public relations, online marketing, and of course social media. All carefully planned and designed to work together.

So it's really no surprise that Pepsi is carefully watching where it spends its marketing money, shifting dollars from one arena to another, to capture consumers where and how they live. Which is becoming more and more online, interacting with them socially.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, December 16

People of Walmart

I hesitate to even write this post because I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I don't want you to think I'm being mean spirited in any way. But I just have to share.

One of my new clients here at the agency told me about this website called It literally contains picture after picture of Walmart shoppers. The shots are a riot, with a complete cast of characters, one more animated than the next.

As fun as they are to look at, there really is a marketing point to make here. These are our consumers! It's easy for those of us in marketing to lose sight of just who we market to. These are the folks, among others, who shop the shelves every day, making choices about our brands. Either ruling them into their lives, or ruling them out.

It's a diverse bunch, and is a great reminder. Check it out!

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, December 15

Cheer for Gap Plaid

I have to admit that I had kind of counted Gap out. Gap as in the retail store. I even write about it in my upcoming marketing book. Now I don't think that they've solved all of their problems, and I'm not sure that they know who they are as a brand, but I do admire their current product line and marketing campaign. The brand brought back ... plaid!

Gap Plaid. While the clothes wouldn't work for me personally, they are striking to look at and I have noticed the marketing.

Ready for Holiday Cheer. Gap Plaid. The television advertising features a crew of models, all wearing plaid clothes, doing a "cheer". It's very GLEE!

But here's the magic, at least in my eyes. The company did a contest where store employees film themselves doing their own Gap cheer, and then loaded them onto YouTube. Great way to go viral and local all at the same time.

You've got to check out this one -- it's a rip off of Lady GaGa's Bad Romance. Only this is Lady GapGap, Plaid Romance. LOL.

You just gotta love it, from a social media and user generated marketing perspective. These are company employees really getting into their brand. It's totally infectious and oddly aspirational for consumers to view.

The brand has also "plaid-ized" its Facebook page (including the logo), with items to engage even further and to share with friends.

Not sure that it's making me reconsider the Gap brand, but it did hit my radar this holiday season. That's a good start.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, December 14

Where Are You, Tiger?

I've been waiting to write a post about Tiger Woods, actually dying to write a post about Tiger Woods. I've been patiently waiting to comment only because I've been waiting to see what Tiger does in response to his brand that is in crisis. The problem is that he's not doing anything, and it has me puzzled.

Yes, Tiger is a brand. I don't have to convince you of that. But Tiger is breaking every rule in the "brand crisis management" text book. Every public relations professional will tell you about the short list of things to do when you're brand is in crisis. I know myself having worked on Tylenol for over a decade.

First of all, over communicate. Be out in the public eye. Comment on what's going on. Tiger's silence, I believe, is making his situation even worse (if that's even possible). But communicate openly, honestly, sincerely.

And get in FRONT of the story. Tell people what is going to happen, before it happens or at least as in happens. Letting the story unfold makes it seem like you have no control in the situation.

Easy for me to say, and a lot easier to do when the crisis is over. The problem with Tiger, I'm afraid, is that I don't think the crisis is over. I don't think the story has completely unfolded, and I'm not sure that Tiger even knows where the story is going to land.

Very sad, for an incredibly talented man to lose such control of his life. It's not something that I enjoy watching. But he threw himself into the public eye, and by accepting so many brand endorsements, he turned himself into a brand. So sadly we watch as that brand goes into crisis.

I hope it ends soon, for all those involved. I just wish he would start to communicate honestly so that he could regain control and get in front of the story. For the sake of his family if not for his brand.

What's your experience? Jim.

Sunday, December 13

Weekly Resolution 12/14/09


There is an incredible amount to be learned by observing great marketing works by other brands. Particulary now as the boundaries of digital marketing and social media are expanding daily. So my resolution this week is to be even more observant than I normally am, and to learn from the great marketing done by so many brands every day. Witness and re-apply!

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, December 10

It's All So Confusing

I have to admit, I am a bit confused. By no means do I want to get into politics here, but I have to say that I am a bit confused.

I can't tell if there's marketing involved.

This week Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace prize at the same time we are sending more troops into war at the same time that the news shows are profiling troops around the world with stories that range from troop camaraderie (it is a career choice after all) to abusive foreign leadership to "why aren't we spending this money on our issues at home?"

It's so confusing, and I get that there's no answer here. At all. But is there marketing involved? Is there a marketing objective that is being executed against? I believe that there is no coincidence in good marketing, so how could all this be happening all at the same time.

If it is marketing, I don't think it's very good. It's too confusing with lots of mixed messages. Maybe it's marketing by committee, that could be it. Or is it just politics driving unbelievable inefficiency with absolutely no coordinated effort? Or just the complexity of life around the world?

I as much as anybody understand putting the marketing machine into action. Even the government has a marketing machine, and I mean no political bias by that statement. But I still find it all so confusing.

Is it marketing or just life as we know it?

What's your experience? Jim

In-store Circular, Reinvented

On November 2nd, I wrote a post about old brands that are revitalizing their look and hence need to revitalize their brand experience as well. I cited Duane Reade (the drug store) and Holiday Inn (the hotel) as two examples. I insinuated that perhaps the brands needed to update their consumer experience as well as their logos.

Perhaps I was a little too impatient. The other day while walking to work, I was handed "The Duane Reader" on the street. It's the drug store's new circular ... you know the ones you pick up at the front of the store that are chocked full of coupons and basically nothing else?

"The Duane Reader" reinvents the store circular. And I have to tell you not a moment too soon. And I should also say that I can't even count how many times I have presented this idea to retailers through the years. YOU NEED TO REINVENT THOSE HORRIBLE, ONE-DIMENSIONAL, IN-STORE CIRCULARS. These amazing marketing vehicles need to add value to the shopping experience, not just deliver one coupon after another after another.

Duane Reade did it. The new "in-store circular" is beautifully laid out and is full of product information, tips, recipes, advice, and yes of course money saving offers. It's like reading a magazine, although clearly branded with the new Duane Reade iconic logo. The drug store chain has also amped up its private label food items called De-lish. Fabulous. And many of the stores have cleaned up their act in-store as well. Not all of them yet, but many have wider aisles, new fixtures, and better lighting, especially in the skin care and makeup sections.

The brand really is re-inventing its consumer experience while updating its branding. Congrats.

BTW, about two blocks later I was handed a Duane Reade sampler that contained a whole bunch of trial size products and some coupons ... perfect timing for the holidays.

I should also mention that other stores have started to move along the same pathway, but none as aggressively as Duane Reade, at least not to my eye. CVS did an incredible mailer (aka "circular") for its Extra Care members, and Target has done some nice work lately as well.

What's your experience? Jim

One Man's Trash ...

Today I have a guest post from Vanessa Pesce, the Managing Director of ShopPR, one of the agencies within Lippe Taylor Brand Communications. Vanessa discovered that one man's trash, is another man's marketing treasure!

What's your experience? Jim.

All yours, Vanessa:

Sometimes simple is better. As marketers, we’ve all been guilty of over thinking a creative strategy, or feeling constrained by a budget, and yet time after time some of the best ideas are the most streamlined and cost effective.

Case in point – this cool idea from Minneapolis design studio Blu Dot. Blu Dot added a little technology, a little street theater, and a whole lot of creative thinking about the way New Yorkers might acquire furniture. The result was an inspiring and impactful stunt that generated a lot of buzz.

Blu Dot, a design press darling, placed 25 of their sleek $129 Real Good metal chairs in various colors on the sidewalks of Manhattan and Brooklyn , much in the way a chipped armoire or other furniture cast-off would be thrown to the garbage. They equipped each piece with a GPS system, so they could track and later contact those who took them.

Social media played a big role - chair locations were announced on Twitter, images were showcased on Flickr, and a Google map was used to track the chairs on the Blu Dot website. The brand was pleased with the quick results – a few hundred new Twitter followers, many blog posts (some were “epic”) and a piece in the New York Times magazine, below.

Despite the fact that Blu Dot took a risk and associated their hip product with second-hand trash and opened themselves up to potential consumer backlash -- most of the initially unwitting consumers were excited to be interviewed on camera for a video that will be shown in Blu Dot’s Soho store, marking it’s one-year anniversary in New York.

A straightforward marketing stunt, with minimal cost and ample marketing legs that engages consumers? I think it’s simply awesome.

Vanessa Pesce, Managing Director of ShopPR

Wednesday, December 9

RIP, The "Soap Opera"

CBS announced this week that they are taking "As The World Turns" off the air, the longest running soap opera ever. Daytime or otherwise. 54 incredible years. "Like sand through an hour glass...."

This just after cancelling my teenage-years favorite, "The Guiding Light". I can remember distinctly running from the school bus everyday to catch "The Guiding Light", and getting caught up in all the drama. Way before we could post on social media sites, I would then chat on the phone with my friends at night about the show (from a landline with a long cord attached located in the kitchen). It was a sensation, long before the prime time soaps of today.

Is this the beginning of the end of an era? Will daytime "soaps" be dead? There are only two left on CBS, "The Young and the Restless", and "The Bold and the Beautiful". Back in the day, they were the new comers.

Could be. There are so many options now for entertainment during the day, that I'm afraid the soap opera may not be so culturally relevant anymore. Not sure.

But I do know it's important to recognize the "soaps" for what they did for marketing. Originally created by CPG giant P&G, who actually created a company called Procter & Gamble Productions to produce the shows. They were created as advertising vehicles to reach housewives who were home taking care of the kids. The shows were sprinkled with television advertising from all the P&G brands, principally Ivory Soap ... hence the "Soap Opera". A little Ivory Soap and a whole lot of drama.

I don't recall many product placements back then, but the advertising was enough to make an impression and P&G brands ruled the day. An innovative attempt to control the medium for a brand and it worked for decades. Not to mention the entertainment value for consumers. Modern day equivalent of "value beyond just price". Not bad.

What's your experience? Jim

Tuesday, December 8

Using Social Media at Work

With so many people spending so much time expressing themselves online, it's opened up a huge debate about the use of social media at work. Do an online search and you'll see tons of articles on all sides of the subject.

First there's the time issue. Is it ok for employees to spend time at work posting status updates on Facebook and checking Twitter, for example? Fine line here. Sure, we all need to be "up" on what's going on in the digital space if we are going to keep current with technology and pop culture. And we also need to stay relevant in our jobs, which means knowing and understanding all forms of communication. But when is too much time just too much?

To me, like anything else, this is an HR issue that is no different than lunch breaks, personal phone calls, or reading the newspaper. If using social media at work gets in the way of productivity, then it's an HR issue and needs to be dealt with individually. There are many ways to handle time management problems, and most HR professionals have a tool box full of techniques.

The other side of the "social media at work" issue has far greater impact ... how people represent themselves on social media can reflect back on where they work. To me, that's the bigger debate.

Of course as individuals, we should all be careful about how we represent ourselves on social media. Our posts and pictures say volumes about who we are as people and how we live our lives. Whether those posts are created during work hours or not. But all of that is personal choice. When those posts reflect back on the company, it becomes much more than just personal choice. It can affect business and can impact perceptions of a brand.

The solution? Talk about it! Have training sessions on the proper use of social media as it pertains to the work place, for example. And importantly, have a social media policy in place.

A social media policy lets employees know the rules of engagement around social media as it relates to their professional lives. As an agency that actually does a lot of social media work, we just put one in place ourselves, and we are helping a few of our clients craft one of their own. Communication is always good, and having rules in place keeps people operating cleanly and openly.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, December 7

Julia Roberts for Lancome

There are no coincidences when it comes to good marketing.

Not just the original pretty woman, but MY pretty woman just struck a pretty cool deal for Lancome. Julia Roberts was named the newest "ambassadress" for Lancome beauty products.

While her recent movies are not reflective of her amazing career (I watched "Duplicity" over the weekend), she is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Hollywood star power. I am personally a HUGE fan. Julia Roberts is the one celebrity that I would have to rush up to if I were walking past her on the street. Even in NYC where it's code to leave celebrities alone.

To me, it's a good match. It's good marketing by Lancome, and for Julia too. Timing is perfect for her with two new movies coming out soon, including the much anticipated "Eat Pray Love" said to revitalize her career. The brand is obviously taking advantage of that timing as well. And in the fickle beauty business, big news always travels fast and has impact.

There are no coincidences when it comes to good marketing.

I think the most fascinating aspect of the announcement is all the message and comment boards. Every online article has a string of comments from readers, with commentary that runs the gamut from good to bad about Julia joining Lancome. Opinions are strong on both sides of the argument and emotions run high. Fascinating that people care that much (well then, look at me!), and also fascinating that we all now have a place to air our thoughts.

Even on something as simple as a new ambassadress for a beauty brand. Go Julia!

What's your experience? Jim

Weekly Resolution 12/7/09


If there's one thing I've learned this holiday season, it's don't pay full retail. The sales are insane. One day the coat you love is full price, and the next day it's 50% off 50%. Crazy.

I have this favorite little shop in NYC where I buy all my shirts. Always on sale. I've been there so many times that now I know the owner. So I made a comment to him one day that I was sorry that I always buy when things are on sale. His response: "of course you do, Jim, full price is for tourists!"

It requires a little work and a lot of patience, but don't pay full retail, not for clothes anyway.

What's your experience? Jim

Friday, December 4

Measuring Social Media

First came the question: how do we get into social media?

Next comes the question: how do we know it has an impact?

These two questions are not new to marketers. They come up every time
a new marketing option becomes available to us. I certainly got asked
those questions when we were first doing direct mail and when we were
first building websites? How do we jump in? How do we measure it?

A new colleague sent me this video link the other day. You've probably
seen the social media videos circulating around that show how quickly
social media has infiltrated our lives and how marketers need to
embrace the medium and figure out how to get in. Hits at question one.

This video, though, tackles the second question. How do we calc ROI on
our social media efforts?

Truth is that it's hard, like with any part of the marketing mix. And
although this video is a bit over stated and just a little filled with
hype, I still like the premise.

Social media can have a huge impact on your brand, and the video
contains some stats that help to prove it.

But it all depends on how you use it to help your consumers. And how
you weave it into other parts of the marketing plan.

Like with any marketing investment, it'll be more impactful when used
in synergy with other marketing elements. And it'll be more impactful
over time. Social media builds. Just like brand equity, although much

Give it some time. Experiment It's an investment (relatively small
actually) that builds and builds - with impact that may take a little
time to measure and feel. But we will be able to measure it.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, December 1

Zappos in all the Right Places

One of the things I write about in my upcoming marketing book is that almost anything can be a media vehicle for a brand's marketing plan. Literally anything. The usual suspects like magazines, websites, and tv advertising. And more interesting venues like movie theaters, text messages, and even bathroom stalls (no kidding, I saw a poster for a very personal product at the gym the other day).

Any place where a consumer "lives" can be a touchpoint for a marketing message (witness all the advertising and promotion on Facebook). Not saying they ALL should be, but anything certainly can be.

This week, while travelling, I proved my own point. I was going through security at the airport, just about to take off my shoes and put them in one of those bins. What did I spy with my little eye?

Advertising! A tray liner in the bin with an ad for! Brilliant. A place where you can buy shoes advertising in a vehicle that reminds you that your shoes are crummy and that maybe you should get new ones. They say the medium is the message?!?

Awesome marketing.

What's your experience? Jim.

Filled with Glee!

Glee. The new tv show on Fox. I have been continuously seeing everyone's posts on this fabulous new show but I just had not had the chance to watch it.

Over Thanksgiving, I finally caught up to pop culture thanks to DVR.

It's a really fun show. American Idol meets High School Musical meets 90210.

The music is just plain fun. Classic hits sung in choir style woven into teen drama. Can it get any better?

Yes. After the episodes you can download the songs from iTunes. Brilliant. On you can follow the show on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook, and you can also join the Glee community, watch back episodes, and see extra video footage.

The show is so good that it may even become appointment television for me, just like American Idol and 90210 once was back in the day.

Television dead? "NO", he says with glee.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, November 30

Black Friday and Social Media

I never paid much attention to Black Friday. The thought of going to a shopping mall on the busiest day of the year just holds no interest for me. This year, though, I was all about Black Friday. But not at the mall ... on Twitter.

Social media took front and center stage, right next to the great American Shopping Mall, on Black Friday this year. Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and mobile apps all promoted special Black Friday deals, shopping organizers, order updates, and even waiting times.

A few standouts include:
- Apple online store that announced a one day online shopping event
- Toys 'R Us sneak peak to Black Friday deals available only to fans and followers
- Yahoo shopping app that allows price comparisons while in store

All meant to make the shopping experience on Black Friday that much more special and customized for loyal shoppers. In advance of cyber-Monday! Adding value beyond just price....isn't that what good marketing is all about?

I remember a few years back when e-commerce changed the face of the retail experience forever. Now, social media is the next big influence on shopping and commerce, "e" or otherwise. And it's still in its infancy. Imagine next year!

What's your experience? Jim.

Sunday, November 29

Weekly Resolution 11/30/09


If this past Thanksgiving weekend taught me anything, it's that I am going to enjoy the holidays this year. It's been a crazy year in this world, and the one thing that we can count on, no matter what, is our family and friends. And unfortunately, we don't spend enough time together. Except at the holidays.

So this year I am really going to enjoy our time together. Like Kris Allen says, "Live Like You're Dying".

But don't shop like you're dying. One of the news organizations reported that the "12 days of Christmas" would cost over $87,000 to buy. Not including the extended warranty on the pear tree.

What's your experience? Jim

Tuesday, November 24

Bake in Some "Change" This Thanksgiving

I will admit it. I'm not one of those people who is afraid of change. I actually embrace it, cause it, look for it, need it. It's just in my DNA. I suppose those around me have just gotten used to it :)

I will also admit that I love traditions, especially during the holidays. We almost always have the entire family at our house, with many of the same foods, drinks, and gift giving traditions year after year. We love it.

This year, though, we are going to my sister and brother-in-law's house for the first time, for her first big Thanksgiving celebration. Although I love all the traditions of the holiday, I am so looking forward to doing something new and different, from someone else's point-of-view about the holiday.

For those of you who also embrace change, even during the holidays, I found this cool blog post about ways to add the unexpected to the traditional Thanksgiving buffet. I thought the suggestions were pretty cool.

What does this have to do with marketing? Embrace change, even among the traditional elements of your marketing plan. Look at the brand from another's point-of-view and look for ways to freshen up the tried and true. You'll enjoy it.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, November 23

Are We Boring Our Clients?

I saw a great article today about why clients change agencies. I couldn't find an online link to it, so I'll just summarize my take away here.

Clients are changing agencies a lot these days. Maybe it's the economy, maybe it's life as we know it. Maybe it's because they are just plain bored.

It's true that many times clients change agencies because they are just not getting business results. So they switch to a new team with the hope that new energy will generate new ideas that produce the kind of results they are looking for. In a way, there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes new teams can produce results that other teams just couldn't.

But I think most of the time clients change agencies because they feel like they are falling into a rut and change will get them out of it. Agencies tend to do what they are told, as they are directed, and they spent so much of their time just getting the core deliverables out the door. They lose sight of being proactive.

They forget to be agencies. They forget that they are the clients' hotbeds of creativity that are always coming up with new ideas. They forget to be objective and they forget to be proactive.

It's proactivity that keeps clients from getting bored.

Proactivity: New ideas. Fresh thinking. Unsolicited solutions. An objective point of view on the state of the business. Concepts outside of the agency's traditional view. Helping the other agencies on the team expand their ideas and make them bigger.

Doing the unexpected. This is what keeps clients engaged with the agency and keeps them from ever wondering "is there a better team out there that can get better results?"

So ask yourself --- Are you boring your clients? Being a bit more proactive just might keep that answer "NO!"

What's your experience? Jim

Lady GaGa "Bad Romance"

Did you see Lady GaGa on the American Music Awards last night? What a spectacle! She was a cross between Madonna and Freddie Mercury. Incredible pop music with a surreal performance from someone who can sing. Really sing.

I've been a little late jumping on the Lady GaGa bandwagon. Good pop music, but I never understood her as an artist until now. While her performance last night was something to be seen, it's the video for her new song "Bad Romance" that blows me away.

Sure, when I hear the song on the radio I keep it playing and I tap my feet along to the beat. It's a great pop song.

But the video! Wow! You have to check it out:

Unbelievably creative and talented. With a voice that's only matched by her "packaging".

But what's even more astonishing about the video is all the marketing in it. Aside from the fact that it debuted at an Alexander McQueen fashion show (brilliant), and it features all of his clothing designs (spectacular), it's filled with very clever product placements. Filled to the brim. It's a marketing machine, for her and for her "sponsors."

Music videos have generally only been an opportunity for fashion brands to strut their stuff. Product placements have been left to dresses, shoes, or maybe cars. Lady GaGa has blown the door open. Take a look at the video and see how many placements you can count. And it's not overt or cheesy -- the placements are wonderfully placed in the context of the video.

It's a marketing delight, not just for Alexander McQueen or Lady GaGa. But for all marketers looking for yet another touchpoint to reach consumers. Creatively.

What's your experience? Jim.

Sunday, November 22

Weekly Resolution 11/23/09


A rather timely resolution, given the holiday. My friend Cheryl Given (from high school and now from facebook) posts what she is thankful for every single day. It's very inspirational. So I am also going to try to be more thankful. I may not always tell people how thankful I am like my friend Cheryl does, but I will always try to SHOW people how thankful I am. This week I will certainly show my family when we are all together on Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, November 19

10 Most Vain Cities just recently did an analysis to determine the 10 most vain cities in the US. Based on measurements like number of plastic surgeons per 100,000 people, and amount spent on hair color, etc, 10 cities were ranked.

You can read it here:

The winner for the most vain -- not LA. In fact, LA was only number 5. NEW YORK CITY, you're so vain!

Not that surprising I suppose but I would have expected LA to top the list for sure. The big surprise was Charleston, West Virginia ranked merely for its number of tanning salons! Crazy.

This vanity is coming at a time when all we read about is how we are collectively cutting back. Coloring our own hair, doing our own nails, waiting longer between haircuts. All true. But in the end, I'm hoping that our American spirit is kicking back in. As Billy Crystal said back in the day, "You look mahvahlous!".

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, November 18

Goldman Sachs "10,000 Small Businesses"

As follow up to my post yesterday about gaining consumer trust, I'd like to highlight an incredible program just announced by Goldman Sachs. Some are saying "Finally" while others are saying "PR Stunt". I'm just saying "Great Idea"!

Called "10,000 Small Businesses", Goldman Sachs, along with its biggest shareholder Warren Buffet, is pledging $500million to help small businesses recover from the recession. Right here in the states. The program breaks down as follows:
- $200million for small business owners to get management education at local colleges (very cool)
- $300million in loans and grants (as you'd expect)
- mentoring and networking services from Goldman Sachs staff (talk about sharing the wealth)

You can read about it in this article from The New York Times:

Now it is certainly true that Goldman Sachs has a consumer trust issue on its hands. And whether or not that was the motivator really doesn't matter in the end. Many say that it's entrepreneurs and small business owners who will save the economy.

So whomever is willing to step out and help these folks (us folks), right here in our own cities and towns, then I say "GREAT IDEA"!

What's your experience? Jim

Getting Back Consumer Trust

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my first Council of PR Firms dinner and meeting. The overall theme was trust, as in consumer trust. As a business community we have clearly lost it so the question is "how do we get it back?".

I think the answer lies in who you are as a leader, what organization you are a part of, and what industry you compete in.

A high profile partner in a law firm that defends clients accused of insider trading is going to have a tough time getting trust back. But an organization led by highly ethical individuals who are sincerely looking out for the interests of their consumers and their employees certainly stands a better chance of earning back trust.

The economic climate of the last year or so has taught us all to be on the lookout for spin. We can smell a rat from miles away now. So it's become much less about what brands and businesses say, and much more about what they do. Actively and consciously do. That's what counts.

Employees cite "working for someone I trust" as a key ingredient for staying with a company. This is a huge issue for employee retention and satisfaction on the job.

And as consumers, if we see a brand driving innovation, or taking active steps to help consumers, or giving back to their employees, then we will trust them. And then it's ok if that brand tells us about their work because it's coming from a sincere place.

HYUNDAI. The first car to offer free car payments to any owner who loses their job. The brand shouted this program from rooftops and we collectively, happily, bought in. So many other brands followed.

IPOD. Innovation after innovation that keeps our lives connected and fun. MAC is high on the list of trusted brands.

JON STEWART. Voted most trusted journalist after Walter Kronkite's death because he tells it as he sees it and makes no bones about it.

KASHI. Seven whole grains on a mission offering great food products for consumers and giving back to the communities. Building trust with every power bar.

Just a few examples of "brands" that are ranking high on the trust meter these days, all of whom you may not have thought much about just a short time ago.

Consumer trust. Can we get it back again? You bet. But only with real actions with a sincere purpose. And then we can talk about them. We also need to win back the trust of our employees as well with the same gameplan.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, November 17


No self-respecting kid growing up in the seventies didn't wear Garanimals at some point. They were the rage. Born in 1972, Garanimals were the mix-and-match system that allowed parents and kids to easily match their clothes by simply matching the animals. Giraffe for giraffe, horse for horse -- then you knew for sure that the colors and patterns would coordinate.

The animals were on the clothing tags at retail for easy shopping and they were also on the inside clothing tags for easy pairing when getting dressed. Nothing could be easier, and quite honestly there are times as an adult that I wished I had Garanimals when getting dressed at 5:30am or when packing for a business trip.

Garanimals were a part of pop culture back in the day, and the brand name became synonymous for mixing and matching. The powerful brand equity still lingers even though the clothes have long disappeared off our radar. Hillary Clinton at one point was even called "the Garanimals candidate".

They're back, believe it or not. At Wal-Mart of all places. Check them out at

Same easy system in a rather large range of clothing for boys and girls. Now I can't speak to the quality or the price points or even the styles for that matter (I'm not a kid anymore and my kids are way way beyond the Garanimals stage, sadly), but I can say that Garanimals are the perfect example of a really simple idea and a great marketing concept. Brought back to life by marketing giant Wal-Mart.

Just FYI, the clothing itself is manufactured by a company called Garan which is part of the Warren Buffet portfolio. Very smart.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, November 16

Weekly Resolution 11/16/09


I know the weather in New York is still in the mid sixties, but it's already starting to feel like the holidays. And I love the holidays. So this year I decided to extend the cheer -- we are going to decorate over Thanksgiving weekend so that we can enjoy it all for just a little bit longer. Even starting prepping for it this last weekend. In these crazy times, we need something to cheer about, so get ready and start to decorate.

Have a great week! Jim

Friday, November 13

InStyle, Augmented

I love magazines. Even with the iPhone, and Facebook, and all the other
jazzier things we now have to entertain ourselves, I still love to sit
down with a magazine and leaf through the pages. Nothing more
relaxing, entertaining, and sometimes educational.

And while many magazines are struggling to survive (i.e. Gourmet), I
believe that some will thrive. And here's a good example.

InStyle just announced that it is adding augmented reality to its next
issue. If you have not seen augmented reality yet, it's basically a
web-enabled 3D technology that can bring once still images to life.
Very cool.

InStyle will be using it to bring both it's cover model Taylor Swift
and it's gift giving guide to life by transforming photos into video.

Too hard to believe? Not really - read about it here in an article in WWD:

Congrats to InStyle for thriving, creatively.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, November 11

Crossing the "Drug" Line

There has been much speculation about the FDA's new stance under the Obama administration, especially with the FDA meetings this week around online marketing and social media. Will it become even tougher, will pharmaceuticals be able to advertise, etc?

No one knows quite yet what will happen. One thing is clear, though. The FDA has an opinion, it is going to voice it, and it is going to voice it consistently. Regardless of the category.

Kellogg's certainly found that out last week. The FDA is cracking down hard on "drug" claims made by non-drug products, like cereal. With the rise in the number of functional foods (foods that have a health benefit), the FDA has evidently decided that it must step in and regulate the category much like it does the pharma industry.

So if you are going to make a claim about fighting cholesterol or boosting immunity, then according to the FDA you had better follow the rules, and prove it.

Everyone is quick to jump all over the FDA, but quite honestly I'm not sure that it's all that bad. Regulation is one thing, and every situation can be debated and should be debated. But to me consistent regulation should be a given. If there are rules in place, they should apply to everyone, not just to certain categories or industries.

Just my thought.

What's your experience? Jim.

"Shit My Dad Says"

There's lots of talk about how social media is completely replacing traditional media. I am not personally one of those folks who says that television is dead, or print for that matter. The rules of engagement are certainly changing, but the traditional forms of media are by no means dead. And while social media is growing by leaps and bounds, and changing how we interact, it is not killing every single other form of marketing communication.

Witness "Shit My Dad Says". Justin Halpern is 29 years old and lives with his 73 year old dad. He pays attention to the nuggets of wisdom that his dad throws out and puts them Twitter. With over 700,000 followers since August, Justin's tweets have become a phenomenon. I follow him!

"Shit My Dad Says" are little tidbits of advice, often written very "colorfully" that not only put a smile on your face but also cause you to stop and think.

And in an unusual sequence of events, "Shit My Dad Says" will soon hit the small screen. The makers of "Will & Grace" are taking this Twitter concept and creating a television comedy. Justin also has a book coming out.

You can read about it here:

Hmmm .... social media going traditional. Love it.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, November 9


Contrary to popular belief, not all women are moms. In fact, 45.1% of adult women up to age 45 do not have kids. Just ask Melanie Notkin from --- "a community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers, and all women who love kids."

Melanie not only created an online community for women without kids, but she also created a label to describe them. PANKs: Professional Aunts No Kids.

She brings up a very good point. Most marketing is aimed toward a by-gone mystical era where a traditional household has mom, dad, and their kids. While it may seem like this is still a majority, in reality this is not the case anymore. The mix of American households is all over the map, including legions of households led by women who don't have kids. Not to mention all the other shapes, sizes, and variations of American families.

And just because a woman doesn't have kids does not mean that she doesn't hold an impressive amount of purchasing power, from laundry detergents to cars to homes to clothing -- across the entire spectrum of our economy.

As marketers it's vitally important for us to recognize the mixed demographics (and psychographics) of our targets, and to make sure that we really understand how they live their lives, so that as brands we can add value. If you have a brand that targets women, then it's vitally important to know that there is an entire range of women out there, not just moms. To think of them on just one dimension is incredibly misleading and a missed opportunity to connect.

What's your experience? Jim.

Weekly Resolution 11/9/09


A 68 year old woman in South Korea FINALLY passed her driver's test after trying 950 times. I'm using this as inspiration to never give up on something if you really want it. Eventually, no matter the obstacle, we will succeed.


What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, November 6

Wisk Puts Social Media to Great Use

As an industry, we are starting to get it. Social media and how best to put it to use for our brands and our consumers.

Best Buy came up with a great way to put Twitter to use for their customers by amping up their service with @Twelpforce which quickly connects customers with customer service reps to resolve problems and ask questions.

Now Wisk laundry detergent is using Facebook to add value to their consumers' lives by helping to clean up unwanted photos lingering in social media cyberspace and potentially becoming, as they say, "dirty laundry". If there's a photo out there in the digital world that you want removed, well now the brand will help you Wisk it away.

There was a little article about it in AdAge and you can click here or paste this into your browser window:

This is a great example of really understanding how to use social media in a way that is consistent with your brand and fulfilling a need for your consumer. It makes sense and it's not just using social media for social media sake.

It ties perfectly to the brand equity (removing any kind of stain) and adds value to the brand experience (helps consumers in a way that no one else has).


What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, November 4

Advertising vs. Consumer

If you've got a couple minutes to watch this video on YouTube, you've got to check it out.

Great representation of the fall of advertising as we know it, and then ultimately a signal for how we should be thinking about marketing and communications in our new world.

Now I'm not one of those people who thinks that advertising is dead. But our old ways of developing creative ideas and of selecting media certainly is. We need to build experiences for our consumers that engage them, on their terms, when and where we can add value to their lives.

Click on this link or paste it into your browser window:
(thanks to Vanessa for the link!)

What's your experience? Jim.

Martha Stewart Turkey

As soon as November 1st hit, the machine kicked in. The holiday marketing machine. Actually holidays as in multiple holidays, or even better stated "holidaazze".

And who better to chime in than Martha Stewart: domestic expert, smart business women, and marketing powerhouse. She's got it all including the decorations, recipes, crafts, gift wrap -- you name it. And now she even has turkey!

Yes, Martha Stewart is selling turkey. But not just any kind of turkey. Martha's turkey is better. Fresher, antibiotic free, the whole lot. And it comes with a recipe book inside with all sorts of suggestions on how to make the holidays, and her turkey, better than you have ever imagined. Plus a coupon for $15 off if you order before Thanksgiving.

You have to admit, she knows what she's doing.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, November 3

The Turnpike Series Donation

The World Series is arguably one of the best things about the Fall, and I'm not even a big baseball fan. But when the entire city rallies around their local team, it's just plain 'ole American fun. This year with New York and Philadelphia fighting in another Turnpike Series, it's crazy here on the East Coast.

For me, it's all the behind the scenes action that tends to get my attention, though, and there's something very cool brewing this year from two very seemingly unlikely sources.

The two large produce markets in each city have a bet. If the Yankees lose, then New York City's Hunts Point Terminal Market will donate a truckload of produce to a Philadelphia food bank. If the Phillies lose, then the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market will donate a truckload of produce to a New York food bank.

Not sure if you know much about these two produce markets, but they sure seem like pretty tough business people. But obviously they both have a heart of gold. They are constantly donating food to homeless shelters, very much under the radar screen. So I am happy that the World Series has cast a spotlight on their generosity.

Thanks for turning a wonderful Fall tradition into an even more positive experience for those in need.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, November 2

Weekly Resolution 11/2/09


Every once in awhile, it's really invigorating to get a fresh start. A new outlook on life, a new approach to how you normally do things. This week I'm getting a fresh start in a couple areas of my life. I encourage you to do the same. Pick a thing or two that you'd like to do differently, and change it. You'll feel really refreshed!

What's your experience? Jim.

New Branding, New Experience

Two brands that I happen to "walk by" on almost a daily basis have just undergone a new branding identity -- Duane Reade and Holiday Inn. If you are not from NY, then you may not know that Duane Reade is a local drug store chain. Think CVS with a Brooklyn accent. And of course Holiday Inn is that hotel we all stayed at on family vacations as kids.

Both with bold new logos that are strikingly contemporary. I won't comment on if I like the logos or not, because that's not the point that I'm trying to make.

With a new brand identity, comes the expectation that the brand experience will also be updated. At least in consumers' minds. So if Duane Reade and Holiday Inn are going to make their identities more bold and more contemporary, then so too should be their brand experience.

I've noticed that in some of the Duane Reade locations this is becoming true, and in some not so much. Not sure about Holiday Inn, although I could easily take an educated guess :)

What's your experience? Jim.

Mad Men Style

I have to admit that I didn't really get into Mad Men until this season. I'm normally an "early adopter" but for some reason this show didn't hit my radar until just recently.

I'm a fan, but not for the normal reasons. The show itself is ok (I have to say that the plot moves a little slowly for my taste). What I love is the "tone" of the show.

The sets are sheer perfection, like a time capsule. The clothing too. But not just the dresses and suits, but the tie in with Banana Republic. Brilliant.

Not only are Banana Republic clothes featured on the show but the show is featured in Banana Republic stores as well. Beautiful displays that also promote a contest to win a walk-on part.

The great tie-in marketing doesn't just stop there. There are product mentions all over the script, and a few product placements thrown in for good measure. I even noticed a custom Clorox tv spot when I was watching the last episode made specifically for use in the Mad Men ad pod. Awesome.

So yes, the show is a phenomenon. But for me, the marketing around the show is phenomenal.

What's your experience? Jim.

A Trilogy of Fashion Industry Documentaries

I just completed a trilogy of documentaries about the fashion industry. First I saw "The September Issue" when it was first released in theaters at the end of the summer. Then the movie "Valentino, The Last Emperor" which I saw on DVD last weekend. And then just last week I watched "Schmatta, From Rags to Riches to Rags" which is now showing on HBO. Three great documentaries showing very different perspectives on the fashion industry.

"The September Issue" shows the marketing spin put on the industry and depicts a very short list of people who really do control what is "cool" -- or so they think, and generally so we think. Watching the creative process was fascinating. Perhaps we need a little more creative and a little less process.

"Valentino, The Last Emperor" shows the brillance of one incredible designer who shaped an industry and influenced the world. It's amazing how once he retired, the vision disappeared.

And then "Schmatta, From Rags to Riches to Rags" which is all about the real workers in the industry: the sewers, the laborers, all the doers. The disturbing thing about this movie is how it chronicles the disappearance of American jobs as the fashion industry has not so slowly moved all production off shore. Literally 95% of the production in the industry is done over seas.

It was great fun to see an industry that I don't know that much about from three different angles. Yet there are many parallels to marketing and to agencies. The creative process in "The September Issue". The leadership and vision in "Valentino, The Last Emperor". And the destruction of American jobs in "Schmatta, From Rags to Riches to Rags".

What's your experience? Jim.