Friday, February 26

The Google Doodle

I heart the Google Doodle. It's just so fun and festive, it makes me smile.

What's the Google Doodle? It's the Google logo that appears on the brand's home page that from time to time features a special theme. Every day the past few weeks the Google Doodle has celebrated winter sports as part of the Olympics. At Halloween, the Doodle had pumpkins and ghosts.

The first Google Doodle was in 1998, hard to believe that Google has been around that long. Did you know that the brand was first called "BackRub"?

It's even in Wikipedia: -- you can find all about its "history" (if you can call it that), designers, and themes. As of January, there are 712 Google Doodles in the gallery.

The brand holds contests with kids to design new Google Doodles -- Doodle 4 Google. We've even submitted proposals on behalf of our clients to design a Google Doodle as part of special causes. I'm dying to do one with a Poodle - The Google Doodle Poodle.

Told you it's fun and festive!

Yahoo does something very similar, but I couldn't find out what they call it. I think the Yahoo versions are even more complex with colors and animation. Great fun.

What's the point? I say "Why Not!" We all visit these websites almost every day of our lives. Have a little fun and smile. It's part of the brand experience.

Tootles. (sorry)

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, February 25

What's In A (Brand) Name?

A lot of work goes into naming a new brand - if you've ever done it and gotten it approved, then you know what I mean. Imagine changing a brand name once it's already in the market. Today Kate Sklar, a colleague of mine at the agency, gives a personal account.

What's your experience, Kate? Jim.

A name is the cornerstone of an identity. I’ve had a lot of names. There’s my full name, Kate Champagne Sklar. Then there’s the nickname my parents derived from my first two initials, KC. That quickly became C-A-S-E-Y in an effort to ease the jealousy I felt as other children sprawled their long, pretty names across notebook pages in cursive, while I had two measly letters. I soon changed the C to a K, making it K-A-S-EY. And finally at age 18, I decided to end the identity crisis and return to my roots. I would henceforth call myself just Kate.

But with my new (original) name came some serious confusion among those who knew me. “Kate” was a veritable stranger to, say, my grandparents and best friend. And “Kasey” to my new friends and colleagues like a clever stage name from a distant past.

Lately, a lot of brands are changing their names, as John Kelly wittily points out in a February 22 article on (

Spray 'n Wash, for example, is now called Resolve. Electrasol, the dishwashing soap, is now called Finish. In his article, Kelly observes the nature of this name-changing trend, which seems to be a movement away from more literal product names that tell us exactly what products do – and if we’re lucky, how to use them (thank you Playskool Sit 'n Spin!) – toward more sensorial names, with largely ambiguous meanings.

Surface cleaner Pledge was ahead of the curve – leading the way with brand names that told you absolutely nothing about what the product is and rather appealed to the emotion of the buyer, championing the, er, resolve, of the product to help you get the housework done.

Product name changes are a logical response to changing consumer needs, brand expectations and brand expansion. (Once Spray 'n Wash came out with the stick, the “Spray” no longer made sense.)

But what’s at stake when you change your name? Certainly, you risk losing some of your old consumers. Will they recognize the product by its new name (and assumed, new packaging)? Will they still trust it?

The fundamental issue is that a product with a new name is actually a new product - a product without a legacy, but one with, perhaps, a more vibrant future. Brands undergoing name changes will be challenged to maintain the trust and loyalty of old buyers while enticing the new ones they hope to gain.

To this day, one can identify the length of my relationships by that name which my acquaintances call me. “Kate”: new friend. “Kasey”: old friend, or even family. I’ll be honest. If my Facebook name didn’t come with a picture, I’d surely have half the Facebook friends I do now. People, I assure you, it’s still the same me! You just may not recognize the name.

- Kate Sklar from Lippe Taylor Brand Communications

Wednesday, February 24

Practicing What I Preach

My new marketing book will be out in just a couple months, and I finally feel like it's really happening. It's a long journey to publish a book, but I have enjoyed every step of the way. Can't wait for it to hit the shelves in May.

We are in the process of putting together the rest of the elements, and I sometimes worry about the "shoemaker's shoes" syndrome. We are getting there though! Marketing is a team sport, and I have an awesome team at my agency helping me out.

So today we debut a new look for my blog (which you are viewing right now!) and my Twitter page ( Coming soon is the website, we are just putting the finishing touches to it.

My goal is to provide a forum to discuss great marketing - brands that are crafting experiences for their consumers, and hopefully achieving strong business results in the process. I love all the commentary that comes back, making the experience so much more rich.

I promise to keep my shoes shined.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, February 22

SunChips New Compostable Bag

I have worked on a number of brands that are eco-friendly, many of them having practiced sustainable methods well before it was in vogue. For many brands being "green" is a core part of the brand experience and brand promise.

But usually, the brand's environmental responsibility comes in the form of how the product is made. Less waste, fuel efficiency, etc, or perhaps how its components are recycled and reused in the after life.

I think it's rare though for a brand to come along that really has not been in the "green space" but then creates an innovation that comes not from the manufacturing but from what happens after it's consumed.

SunChips just announced a new completely compostable bag which will make its debut on Earth Day this year. You can read about it here:

The brand announced it via television advertising and also features it prominently on the website, The website is actually pretty good in that you can learn a little more about the material in the bag as well as leave your comments. Simple for sure, but good nonetheless.

The new bag is made of completely renewable plant materials, and will break down in compost in 12-16 weeks. A new benefit to the brand that just may attract new consumers.

I know that there are some who will say that it's green washing or that it's too little too late. Maybe, I don't know enough about it. But from a marketing perspective, I completely applaud the brand for trying to join the movement to make the planet safer for future generations. This is their first attempt, and I'm hoping it's the first of many. For SunChips and many other brands.

What's your experience? Jim.

Weekly Resolution 2/22/10


I've said it many times - I am not one of those marketers who says that television is dead. It may be changing, but it's not dead.

I love watching television. Sure my behavior has changed a lot and sometimes now it's more on-demand or on HULU, but I still love watching television. The Real Housewives, Ugly Betty, Modern Family - just a few of my staples these days. Helps me to relax and escape the world. It's mostly a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

I'm not alone. The economy is keeping cocooning alive and television is a major part of it. Viewership has remained high, and has recently exploded on some very special occasions. The Golden Globes, The Grammys, The Super Bowl, and even The Olympics have all experienced tremendous ratings growth. I even watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics this year, first time in a long long time. Helps me feel a part of what's going on in the world, particularly pop culture.

Television isn't dead. Watch and enjoy, I know that I am.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, February 19

MTV Drops "Music Television"

I had a number of friends this week tell me to post about MTV. The network just recently dropped the "music television" tag from its now iconic logo. A shock heard round the world? Hardly.

MTV had long ago dropped music videos from its core programming. Not entirely sure why, to be honest, other than to drive up audience numbers. I guess constant streams of music videos just were not enough to bring in a big audience and ad revenues. So the network slowly and then not so slowly started adding specials and series and original programming of all sorts. Now there's barely a music video in sight.

Fine by me, actually. I've always enjoyed the MTV programs, right from the start of the first "Real World". When I was a brand manager and launched Clean & Clear we even did a strategic partnership with Cindy Crawford's "House of Style". And we can't forget this year's "Jersey Shore"! Didn't miss the emphasis on videos then and certainly don't miss them now.

From a marketing perspective it makes sense to me. The brand isn't defining itself through music, but through it's target audience and the lifestyle it leads. Targeting driving branding, which is just fine in my book. Fulfilling a need and evolving with its audience. Great marketing.

So I therefore have no issue with the brand cleaning up its logo. Music is no longer what defines the station.

Can you imagine though the next generations of viewers asking "what's the M stand for?". Marketing?

And we can comfortably say that we were there when video killed the radio star.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, February 18

The Flying Experience

All this hoopla with Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines made me realize something. I hate to fly. Not because I'm afraid of flying, but because it has become an awful experience.

When I first starting working at Johnson & Johnson, I used to fly for business on a somewhat regular basis. It was fun. I traveled with colleagues, we would stay at nice hotels, do a great dinner, and really get to know each other. I don't want to say it was glamorous, but it was fun. The experience helped to build working relationships that have lasted to this day.

Flying was an adventure, and I don't think it was just because I was young. The airline brands meant something. American Airlines. Delta. These were BRANDS that had equity and meaning and a promise for their consumers.

Not anymore. The entire process is terrible. From reserving to ticketing to security to boarding to deplaning. It's terrible. Not to mention the in-air part where the seats are tiny, there's no food, and most people (including the flight attendants, sorry) are just rude. When we fly for business it's become less about team building and more about just getting through it.

There is no positive consumer experience, no attempt to satisfy, and hence no real loyalty -- no brands. The brands are GONE.

Southwest Airlines has been a bit of an exception. I even wrote about it in my upcoming marketing book, "The Experience Effect". Southwest is still trying to be a brand that stands for something, and it still TRIES to provide a positive experience. But you can tell that they are starting to struggle too, in a very difficult industry. Continental tries too.

Now this latest tryst with Kevin Smith is not necessarily the focus of my post here, and it's certainly not helping the Southwest brand. Since I wasn't there I'm not really going to comment on it -- you can read about it here if you'd like:

But it did make me realize that the flying experience is gone. The companies that participate in the industry have lost their marketing and for the most part have lost their branding, and it's a shame.

What's your experience? Jim

Wednesday, February 17

The Film "Objectified"

Back in the day when I had my own agency, I hired a young, talented, and very creative designer named Ryan Rosenberg. We recently reconnected on LinkedIn, and he now has his own agency. LOVE how that works! Here Ryan writes a guest post about a new film that inspires creativity.

What's your experience, Ryan? Jim.

As a designer, I have the tendency to get extremely wrapped up in the projects that I’m working on. Tunnel vision sets in as I pump out iteration after iteration for my clients, and I often lose sight of how very important, influential and vital our work is.

A reminder of this fact is a documentary film that I saw recently called Objectified, by Gary Hustwit (this is the same guy that made the film Helvetica, a must see for all you font freaks out there).

Objectified reminded me that almost everything that we touch and use on a daily basis started out as a concept. It took deliberate decisions by a designer to bring the concept, whether it be a new design for a potato peeler or a piece of computer hardware, into the physical form – the features of functionality, easy of use, beauty, etc. were all carefully weighed and labored over.

As well as the film touching on why objects are designed the way they are, the people who design them, and how we interact with these objects, it also explores the emotions we feel and what it says about us as consumers when we purchase these objects (didn’t you feel cool the first time you got your iPhone? I know that I sure did...I still do a little bit.)

Although Objectified focuses primarily on manufactured objects and industrial designers, anyone with an appreciation for aesthetics will be able to take away valuable lessons from this film. The message that resonated most for me came from Jonathan Ive, the Apple VP of Industrial Design, who is the principal designer of the iMac, Powerbook, iPod, iPhone and iPad. He offers insight as to his design ethos and methodology: to constantly reduce and strip away all unnecessary form and information with the end goal being that the final piece looks almost “undesigned" – so that when you look at it, you can’t picture it looking any other way.

Imagine that – a client looks at your work and says, “It’s perfect.” Now that would be great, and something we as designers, marketers and advertisers should always strive for.

- Ryan Rosenberg, Owner of Delameana Design

Monday, February 15

Simon Spurr

It's Fashion Week here in New York and I went to one of the shows on Sunday.

Simon Spurr. A new men's designer on the scene who is getting a lot of attention. Even Anna Wintour came to his show, quite exciting.

The clothing is fabulous. Beautifully tailored. Completely wearable. Comfortable yet very styled at the same time. I wish him a lot of luck. You can see the line right here:

The show itself was very cool. It was my first, so for me it was everything that I expected it to be. Right out of Devil Wears Prada, complete with the Meryl Streep character! Felt so inspired that when I got home I watched "Valentino, The Last Emperor" again on television.

It was so enjoyable to see a young brand like Simon Spurr at its infancy and to feel the incredible road to success in front of it. Congratulations and good luck!

What's your experience? Jim.

Weekly Resolution 2/15/10


A few weeks ago, I posted a Weekly Resolution about avoiding all forms of distracted driving -- no using cell phones, texting, eating, GPS, etc to keep completely focused on driving. I'm really trying to do it too! You can read it here:

Now when Oprah gets behind something, you know it's going to get traction. She just announced the "No Phone Zone" pledge. She asked every employee at her company to sign a pledge saying that they will not use their cell phone for talking or texting while they are driving. All her "friends", like Nate Berkus, are doing the same at their companies.

Oprah is asking us too, right on her website where we can all sign her pledge online. I just filled it out myself, along with 121,906 other people as of this moment.

Check it out here:

Every car should be a "no phone zone". I have to say that it's nice to have some time to myself!

What's your experience? Jim

Friday, February 12

Alexander McQueen

I consider myself to be a pretty creative guy, and I consider myself to be pretty lucky to have creative inspiration all around me. I admire the living legends in all the creative fields who express themselves daily via their brands.

We lost one of those living legends yesterday, Alexander McQueen. At the prime of his career, Alexander McQueen was preparing for next week's Fashion Week in NYC and then later again in London at the end of the month. His retail store in the Meatpacking district is a sight to see. And his recent collaborations with Lady Gaga have been over the top.

He was just about to launch a new line, a more affordable line called McQ. Making his creativity even more accessible.

We will miss the creative inspiration of Alexander McQueen, but we are pretty lucky to still have his brand.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, February 11

Toyota and Consumer Trust

Toyota has certainly been in the news lately with its very high profile recalls, and sadly for the brand it comes at a time when corporate distrust is still running a sustained high. The backlash that the brand is getting is an indication of a public now frustrated. Frustrated with corporate "mistakes", frustrated about not being the warned, and frustrated about potentially not being told the truth.

The problem with Toyota's woes is that there doesn't appear to be an end in sight. The problem doesn't feel contained and it doesn't feel like it's being managed, which just leads to the distrust. Especially coming from a brand that has now infiltrated American households and pop culture. Perhaps the crisis is starting to fade now, but I think everyone is waiting to see if another shoe will fall. It is all certainly affecting how consumers feel about the Toyota brand.

I was quoted in an online article yesterday, asking my advice for Toyota. You can read it here:

I have always held the belief that managing any kind of a brand communications dilemma should always be met with honesty and transparency, with as much information as you can possibly know. Tylenol set the bar high back in the 1980's for sure.

What's your experience? Jim

Wednesday, February 10

The Muppet Whatnot Workshop at FAO Schwarz

For a while now, I thought the great American toy store was dying, and I was a little sad about it. When we were kids, there were toy stores everywhere. Going to the local toy store was a big part of my childhood ... maybe not always buying, but certainly browsing and playing.

Slowly but surely, though, the toy stores have died off. The boutique stores just couldn't compete on price with Wal-Mart. Even Toys 'R Us has struggled through the years, and together Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart nearly killed FAO Schwarz.

Ahhh ... FAO Schwarz. The fabled toy store on 5th Avenue in NYC which then quickly expanded into select locations around the country. Every Christmas I would take the kids to FAO Schwarz for our holiday shopping. It was magical, almost like going to Disney World.

But the FAO Schwarz brand nearly died, with stores closing left and right as shoppers flocked to the lower priced alternatives.

Some smart marketer got a hold of the brand though, and kept its essence alive. The company stripped down to just one flagship location, the original one in New York, and then put everything else online. The brand reinvented the toy store experience with exclusive merchandise and lots of mini-boutiques within the store, much like the old toy stores when we were kids.

The product line is incredible -- larger than life and displayed magnificently. The latest is The Muppet Whatnot Workshop. A build-your-own Muppet boutique. So much fun, and available no where else. It a bit like Build-a-Bear, but with the brand equity of The Muppets.

If you are not familiar with the Muppet franchise, the Whatnots are the "extras" in all the films. The "filler" Muppets that make up the rest of the cast along side the "stars" like Miss Piggy and Kermit. Well now you can build your own, right in store, and bring home a piece of the Muppet (and FAO Schwarz) magic. Or do it online.

Branding at its finest -- and a brand experience at its best. Marketing magic that has revitalized the great American toy store.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, February 8

Dodge Charger "Super Beard"

Yesterday I mentioned that I was impressed by the new Dodge Charger advertising that debuted during the Super Bowl, and I really was. Not so much for the execution itself, but for its insights into relationships and driving psyche among its target audience. The advertising is a bit sexist, on both sides of the fence, but it was still insightful and very well targeted.

What I didn't realize at the time is that the television is just tip of the iceberg. Dodge Charger is launching an entire initiative toward men, a certain kind of men, presenting the vehicle as the "man's choice" in the car category. Interesting.

And they are including something that I have not seen before ... a beard growing contest! Yes, a beard growing contest. To quote the brand, "be the master of your own face!". I guess that goes hand in hand with the mantra of the advertising ... "drive the car that you want to drive".

The contest takes place on Facebook where guys will submit pictures of their beards after a period of six weeks. Fans will vote on who has the best "Super Beard". I'm not sure that I relate to the messaging, but it sure is well targeted and quite a brand experience.

Let's see if it sells cars.

What's your experience? Jim.

Sunday, February 7

Weekly Resolution 2/8/10 -- I Still Love Advertising

Weekly Resolution for 2/8/10 -- I STILL LOVE ADVERTISING

Ok, I was more than a little disappointed with the television advertising during the Super Bowl. There really wasn't much there, although truthfully we shouldn't be surprised. I think the whole "advertise during the Super Bowl" hype has jumped the shark.

But I still love advertising. Always have.

I was one of those kids who knew that I wanted to go into marketing right from the start. Not even sure how I knew. I would watch the television commercials more than the television shows and I would read the print ads more than the articles in the magazines. I just loved advertising (and marketing) right from the start. I loved the creativity of it all.

I'm not one of those folks that thinks it's dead. Just evolving.

For me, good advertising is not about extravagant entertainment. Creativity, sure, but only when it makes sense. Bud Light and Doritos certainly tried to wow us with execution after execution during the game, but did little to convince me to buy. I did like the line, "keep your hands off my mama and your hands off my Doritos" though.

At the end of the day (or the end of the game), good advertising is about really understanding your consumer and finding something about your brand that can connect with them. So for me, there were only two stand outs.

Snickers. "You're Not Yourself When You're Hungry". Brilliant, and so true. When we are hungry, we don't have the strength, stamina, or energy to get done what we need to get done. Using Betty White in a football game made me pay attention and just might get me to reconsider Snickers.

Dodge Charger. There were a LOT of car commercials but for me only one had any kind of consumer insight built into the messaging. "I Will Hold Your Purse When You Go Shopping, And I Will Drive The Car I Want To Drive". Again, brilliant. Totally hit the target insight of the things that men will do for their women -- provided they get to have the car they want. A little sexist, but still insightful. The VW "Punch Buggy" spot was cross-generational and nostalgic, but for me lacked the consumer insight of the Dodge spot.

The David Letterman promo has been getting a lot of playback, but for me that was a "been there, done that" kind of thing.

Not a banner game for advertising, but honestly I think we should lower our expectations. The multi-million dollar price tags along with the big production budgets is setting a stage that I no longer think is relevant. As a marketer, I just want to do great work that resonates with my consumers and that builds a brand. During the Super Bowl or not. Simply that.

Special call out to Google for the most simple commercial of the night, and dead on with what the brand promises. Spot on.

I really do still love advertising. You can view a lot of the spots at this link:

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, February 5

The Super Bowl -- The Marketers' Holiday

Sure, I know that there's a football game in there somewhere. Or at least that's where it all started. But the Super Bowl has become WAY more than just a championship game between two rival teams from two rival cities. It's become a holiday, and a marketers' holiday to be exact. And we OWN it!

Sure, we have other holidays too, like:
- New Year's Eve (and The Golden Globes) for champagne brands.
- Valentine's Day for chocolate and flower brands.
- Back to School for the clothing and school supplies brands.

And Christmas, well, it's become more about the sales than anything else (really not what any of us ever wanted).

For marketers, no other holiday compares to The Super Bowl where we literally celebrate brands from any category or industry. First it was the commercial breaks where brands would debut their new advertising with incredibly high production budgets -- competing for the most play-back after the game. YouTube even has a channel where you can view all the advertising after the game. It's a fun part of the annual tradition.

Papa John's pizza started early this year -- running advertising weeks ahead of the Super Bowl advertising $10 pizzas if you order during the game.

And of course the in-store displays of snack foods and beverages, where brands compete to get on the Super Bowl buffet table (the home tail gate). Huge budgets put around price discounting and thematic displays to get shoppers' attention in the weeks prior to the game. The consumer package good brands just can't get enought of it.

Ever been to one of the games? You can test drive the newest car right in the parking lot (you just have to swerve around the branded tail gate parties).

The branding opportunities keep evolving. Now it's just as much about brands surrounding the Super Bowl. Social media has kicked in with Facebook posts and tweets that are as much a part of the Super Bowl experience as the game itself, without even turning on the tv. I wrote back in December how Pepsi was going to take their media money and move it from Super Bowl time slots to social media activity around the event.

It's a marketing dream to have so many options to reach consumers on a single day. The result? Well for marketers its become our day to shine. And it's also become the single largest day of "snack food" consumption and the second largest day of alcohol consumption (second only to Halloween).

No offense to the football fans, but this has become our holiday.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, February 3

Disney Rewards Community Service

The economic pressure that we have all been facing has fundamentally changed us as a society. As institutions fail around us, we are realizing that if this is going to get fixed, then we have to fix it ourselves. Together.

Charity donations are up. Community service is up. Networking is up. As a culture, we are helping each other out more now than certainly I have ever seen before. My contribution? I personally make sure that several times a week I do something that helps another person find a job. I feel committed to helping people get their careers on track. I know that a lot of others are doing the same (please read yesterday's post from Amanda Mitchell who is doing more than her fair share).

So I was especially impressed to see the initiative from Disney designed to reward community service. The Disney brand of magic is still alive and well.

It goes like this: for every day of community service you complete (among many many registered organizations), you will receive a free park pass for a day. Now the truth is, you still have to get to one of the parks, and that's not necessarily cheap or easy. But I love the fact that Disney is tapping into the current mindset and rewarding people for what they are naturally doing. And encouraging them to do more. Helping them to help others.

Disney magic.

What's your experience? Jim.

Giving Back to Corporate Executives

My friend Amanda Mitchell is an Executive Coach, and she is doing something really helpful for those of us in the business community. You may want to check it out. She is offering free advice to people who feel "stuck" in their current career choice and work environment.

I know Amanda personally -- she is real and legit. When we were working together at Publicis, we would spend the first ten minutes of every meeting laughing our butts off, and then we would get to work. This is not a spam gig and there's no up sell. Just business people helping other business people, which is why I want to help spread the word.

I'll let Amanda tell you about it herself.

Amanda, what's your experience? Jim

If you are feeling stuck in your current situation at work, I'd like to offer some help.

On the surface, it seems like it should be so easy, doesn’t it? After all, you’ve always been able to work your way out of any difficulty but suddenly that’s not working any more. You’ve always been successful, steadily progressing in your career. Things came fairly easy and you were rewarded with promotions and plum assignments. Others look at you as a success…it’s hard for them to understand your dissatisfaction, particularly since you struggle to express exactly what you want. You seem to have it all. But you wonder, “Is this all there is?”

You know you need a change but don’t know how to even start the process….and the very idea of making a change seems overwhelming to you. You are stuck. You, who have always had a plan, don’t have one now—and that makes you uncomfortable.

So why are you stuck? Why are the strategies that have worked in the past--working harder, having discussions with your boss, changing how you delegate or manage your workflow—no longer working? Nothing seems to be moving you forward.

If this sounds like you, then I invite you to join me for this FREE teleclass:
Taking Control of Your Career: 5 Keys to Getting Unstuck & Back on Track
Thursday, February 4th, 8 pm EST (5 pm PST)

This call is for you if you’re ready to move forward and take control of your career. Do you:
• know you have to do something on the career front—but are not sure what?
• have family and financial obligations to consider that appear to limit your options?
• constantly prioritize others’ needs over your own—so that you seem to end up working 10x longer than everyone else?
• feel ready to break free of what’s been holding you back, but just don’t know how?

Taking action, any action, is key to making progress. Visit to sign up.

This is my way of "giving back" to my colleagues who need a little boost. I've been there myself and don't want to see people struggle needlessly. Hope to "see" you on the call.

- Amanda Mitchell, PCC, Corporate Navigator

Tuesday, February 2

Office Depot and Small Businesses

I'm a sucker for creative writing, and I've been taught by the best (most notably Helayne Spivak who was my Chief Creative Officer when I ran Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness). So when I saw the new advertising for Office Depot, the brand drew me right in.

The commercial features a local community barber being over run by a corporate hair salon chain offering $6 haircuts. His business is tanking because the corporate conglomerate is able to under cut him and steal business. So what's he do? He goes to his local Office Depot and makes a huge sign: "We Fix $6 Haircuts" -- which puts the chain salon right out of business.

Very clever. But also highly relevant in our current economic climate.

Small businesses are struggling. Unable to withstand lower demand and higher costs like their big business counterparts, they are either going under or creating clever and unique ways to keep alive. They are innovating! The truth is that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and many say are the solution to our recovery. So let's support them.

Local communities are banding together to encourage consumers to buy local. I read one article that had a theory: pick five local shops and buy from each of them just once a month, and the economy will right align itself. Have not done the math on that yet, but I like the concept.

Congrats to Office Depot for showcasing the kind of innovative thinking that can come from the entrepreneurs of our economy. Of course it doesn't hurt that Office Depot offers products that help small businesses stay organized.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, February 1

Weekly Resolution 2/1/10


I just had a wonderful weekend full of creative inspiration.

I went to see the Tim Burton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York. The exhibit showcases his sketches that led to his great works, like Beetle Juice, through his career. It was fascinating to see his creative imagination come to life from a torn out piece of notebook paper to a feature film.

Then I finally saw Avatar. Blown away. I knew I would like it, but I had no idea how mesmerized I would be. I didn't want it to end, really. The creativity and the cutting back in forth was awesome. James Cameron is a creative genius.

And then The Grammy's. I almost forgot that they were on, and at about 8:45 I clicked on the tube. Minutes later Pink comes out to sing "Glitter in the Air". As she works her way across the stage and through the song, she ultimately ends up dripping in water suspended and twirling above the crowd. It was amazing, and unbelievably creative particularly for a solo performance at an awards show.

I work in a creative industry, and I am surrounded all day long by creative people. My job, among other things, is to inspire creativity and to lead by example. My experiences this weekend just raised my own bar.

What's your experience? Jim.