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.