Friday, January 29

Brangelina, The Brand


The speculation around the breakup of Brad and Angelina is certainly intensifying. So much so that it's starting to feel like "where there's smoke there's fire." Relationship breakups are hard, really hard, don't have to even say that! But what happens when your relationship has become a brand?

Brangelina is a force. It's a product and a marketing machine. It's getting hard to imagine the two of them without each other, professionally anyway. It's even in Wikipedia! They've become so much a product of Hollywood and pop culture, although they say that's not what they want, that I wonder if the two entities can survive the demise of Brangelina, The Brand. Will the business part of it all stay intact?

I'm sure they will be fine. Sonny and Cher did it, and they too were a powerful brand when they were together. It's just interesting to look at it from a marketing perspective in terms of what happens to the brand assets when the brand splits up.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, January 28

Apple iPad


I know this is my second post in a row about Apple, but please bear with me. Rumours were flying leading up to yesterday's big announcement from Apple and I got sucked up into the anticipation.

Would AT&T finally be losing it's exclusivity and open the door for Verizon?

Turns out, not on your life. There's no way that AT&T is giving that up without a long, public fight - IMHO.

The cell phone wars are brutal, much worse than the cola wars of years past. They are at each other's throats, all making the exact same claims. Can't even tell them apart. The new campaign with Luke Wilson (who btw looks awful), is yet the latest in the battle. I can't even remember which brand he is pitching.

So there's no way that AT&T is giving up it's one point of difference. At least not very easily.

The big announcement? I'm sure you saw it - The Apple tablet. Very cool, at least at first glance. We will see as folks start to actually use it. But for those a part of the AT&T rumour mill, not nearly as drama filled as we had anticipated.

One thing we've all gotten used to -- innovation from Apple. They focus much more of their attention on innovation than on any rumours or marketplace warfare. Innovation is part of their brand dna and we celebrate it with every release. Let's hope the iPad lives up to the brand.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, January 26

The Genius Bar at Apple


The Genius Bar at The Apple Retail Store. Both a Bar and Genius, and it looks like you've been talking amongst yourselves! (if you are smiling right now then you are as old as me!)

There must have been a lot of MAC gifts over the holidays because I've noticed a lot of online chatter about The Genius Bar at The Apple Stores. It's the place you go if you have questions or are having problems with any MAC products - iPods, iPhones, laptops, work stations, whatever.

People are pretty happy with The Genius Bar, at least from the conversations I have seen. I think most first time users are quite amazed actually - most are just not used to getting this level of service with computer equipment. The feeling in the past has been more of "you're on your own", rather than "how can I help you."

All a part of a well crafted brand experience from Apple. A seamless integration of branded marketing from the advertising to the stores to the products to the post-purchase service. All Apple the entire way.

I call this kind of seamless, consistent, well-crafted marketing "The Experience Effect", and I have a book coming out about it this May.

From what I am hearing, a lot of people are having positive experiences with the Apple brand.

What's your experience? Jim.

New Geico Advertising


I've been noticing the new Geico advertising for several weeks now, but totally hesitating to comment. At first I didn't really get the ads, and I didn't think that they stack up with some of the more classic advertising from what is now an iconic brand. The caveman made it into pop culture, with spoofs on Saturday Night Live and his own television show. Brands don't come by those things easily.

With the previous campaigns, I would frequently reference how the brand created three distinct executions, all with the same brand voice and character, to appeal to three psychographics in their target markets:
- those who want service (celebrities dramatizing high service scenarios)
- those who want ease and convenience (so easy a caveman can do it)
- those who want low cost (the gecko)

I don't know for a fact that this was the brand's intention, but as a marketer that's how I would dissect the work.

Now along comes a campaign with executions that feature The Waltons, Charlie Daniels, and Elmer Fudd with copy about low cost -- I didn't get it at first.

Then it hit me. It's merely about the brand personality and character. The new Geico advertising is about continuing its strong voice in the category and its completely ownable personality. No one in the category can touch it. Geico is a great example of using personality to differentiate in the marketplace and to create a connection with consumers. I even talk about how to use brand character to build an ownable brand experience in my upcoming marketing book, "The Experience Effect." I should have seen it right away!

Of course the new Geico advertising is consistent and makes sense -- did The Waltons take forever to say goodnight?

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, January 25

Anderson Cooper on the Ground


There's a new hero emerging from the disaster in Haiti, and it's coming from a unexpected place: the news media.

Anderson Cooper. He was the first big news anchor to be on the ground in Haiti. And he's still there and plans to be there, on the ground, at least thru this week.

But he's not just reporting the news from a far-off booth, he's IN the news. On the streets, under the tents, and in some cases right in the middle of the action pulling people from the rubble or helping them escape looters (that video of the young boy last week was un-nerving). He is making sure we see what is really going on and I believe he is largely responsible for making sure that we don't forget.

Incredible.

Anderson Cooper was also a huge part of "Hope for Haiti" Friday night, checking in "on the ground" and introducing us to some of the children we have seen in the news. Wyclef Jean even added him to the lyrics of the song he wrote and performed.

Anderson Cooper knows what he is doing. He's delivering the news in his style, on his terms, in a very real way - in accordance with his "brand". I believe it all started with Hurricane Katrina, and he has stuck to his essence ever since.

He lives in my neighborhood in NYC - I see him often and even see him at the gym. He is very quiet and un-assuming , not someone you'd expect to be in the media He's gained my admiration and trust.

What's your experience? Jim.

Saturday, January 23

Weekly Resolution 1/25/10

AVOID ALL FORMS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING

We used to worry about drunk driving, still do actually. And then it was cell phone usage which started causing a lot of the accidents.

The truth is that all forms of distracted driving are potentially dangerous. Cell phones, texting, emailing, eating, using the GPS -- admit it, we all do it at one time or another. We are just so busy that we can't waste the precious time. I am teaching my teenage daughter how to drive and realizing that I need to be a good role model.

So I am making myself a promise -- avoid all forms of distracted driving. No more checking my iPhone, texting, or any of the other things that can distract me from paying attention to the road.

Our lives are too precious.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, January 22

First Impressions on Social Media


You Only Have One Chance To Make A First Impression.

Did your parents ever tell you that when you first starting interviewing for jobs?

My Dad drilled into my head that the most important part of a job interview is the first 90 seconds. Handshake, smile, say something smart about yourself. If you can sell them in the first 90 seconds, then the rest of the interview is golden and the job just might be yours.

Not so sure that's the case anymore. First impressions now happen way before the interview thanks to social media. Before you ever meet anyone, you can check them out. Thoroughly.

See their entire employment history on LinkedIn and see all the people that you know in common including current and past colleagues. You can reference check without anyone knowing. See their writing style and tone of voice.

See who they are following on Twitter and what interests them. And potentially even go on Facebook. It's AMAZING what you can learn about someone when you check out their wall on Facebook. Pictures, links, posts. You can figure out their relationship status, religious inclinations, political affiliations. You can observe how they respond to topics.

Basically through social media you can REALLY get to know someone before you ever meet them. You can figure out EXACTLY what kind of a person they are.

So that when that person walks into an interview, you've already got a first impression of them.

So for all of us using social media, is our first impression what we want people to think of us?

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, January 21

Royal Caribbean and Haiti


A reporter from AdAge called me the other day to comment on a story he's writing about Royal Caribbean and Haiti. You've probably read about the controversy. Haiti is one of the stops on the cruise itinerary, and passengers get off the boat to enjoy a beautifully luxurious beach.Despite the earthquake, the cruise ship is still stopping at this beach which is roughly 60 miles from Port-au-Prince.

The debate is a tough one. Continue to support the local economy, certainly one way to aid the struggling country. The folks there need the work, just as much now as ever. Or send your passengers somewhere else and offer hard-core support to the disaster, like turning the boat into a floating hospital or temporary housing.

To be honest, at first I wasn't sure how to respond.

The marketer in me says that you have to satisfy consumer needs. The passengers still wanted to go, and the company was justifying it by supporting the local economy and giving Haiti residents jobs. Got it, rationally makes sense. But the other side of me says that you have to take the higher ground.

You can read part of what I said here: http://adage.com/article?article_id=141607

As a brand contributing to the global economy, you have to look at the bigger picture. People are suffering in a part of the world that you engage in, you are a part of that community. Royal Caribbean is a HUGE part of the economy in that part of the world. In this case, a brand has to make tough decisions about how to be a part of the community and still satisfy its consumers and all of its constituents.

I don't know the economics or capabilities of the brand, but if it were me I would offer those passengers an alternative to that Haiti beach that still satisfies their needs, while doing whatever I can to help the community to which I am a part of. Offer relief to those employed by Royal Caribbean and get into the rescue action with some meaningful, high impact help.

There are lots of ways to support the local economy and lots of ways to lend relief. Marketing is all about making choices, and people's perceptions of brands are heavily influenced by the choices made. I would have probably advised a different series of choices.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, January 20

Domino's Pizza Talks Quality


Let's face it, when it comes to pizza brands, quality doesn't top the list when thinking of Domino's. Don't get me wrong, Domino's is a great brand. Most people have it positioned in their minds as a pizza that's quick, cheap, and available anytime day or night. It's the stuff that late night studying and kids birthday parties are made of. Even the brand's promotions drive home that message with incentives to buy in multiples. Just never thought about it as the world's greatest pizza.

Well now Domino's is tackling the issue head on. A new campaign outwardly admits that quality was not always where it needed to be, and the company management is out to change it. In fact, there they are in the advertising telling us so.

This is such a great example of prioritizing brand attributes, and picking a few that are the most meaningful to define the brand. For years, quality took a back seat to fast, cheap, and available for Domino's. The brand grew a tremendous business based on it. But as the competition has increased and other "better tasting" brands are stomping on their turf, Domino's is re-prioritizing its attributes and its communication.

As a consumer, I can concur. I only order Domino's when I need it fast and cheap (and in bulk!) for the kids. If I've got time and am willing to spend the extra money, I go for the local shop that also delivers. Or I'll pick it up myself to get the really good stuff.

Domino's is looking to change that behavior with quality now leading their brand charge.

Fascinating.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, January 19

Chrysler and The Golden Globes


I feel like US car companies just might be starting to get their act together. Or at least one of them (there are not that many left!)

As consumers, we don't care anymore about seeing cars driving up mountains or swerving effortlessly in the rain. We know you can do that, you've been telling us that for years now.

We care about our cars being fuel/emissions efficient and we care about our cars having the features we need, particularly inside.

So when I saw what Chrysler did with The Golden Globes, I said to myself .... hmmmmm, someone is starting to get it.

Chrysler turned what is otherwise an over-the-top, indulgent, self-serving, fashion show (yes I watch it, but it's a guilty pleasure) into something meaningful and relevant to what is happening in the world right now.

Someone pop open one of those perfectly placed bottles of Moet.

Featuring their new eco-friendly models, Chrysler joined forces with Dick Clark Productions and several participating celebrities to donate cars to charities, including a specific effort for Haiti. 300 celebrities signed a new car on the red carpet that was then raffled off to send money directly to Haiti by the Chrysler CEO himself. And then later on in the broadcast, Chrysler unveiled a new advertising campaign tied to the nominated movies, each highlighting design features of the new eco-friendly cars.

The coolest design part .... the interiors are made with recycled parts.

You can get all the details here: http://www.redorbit.com/news/business/1810259/the_chrysler_brand_joins_forces_with_the_67th_annual_golden/

It just makes me so happy to see an American car company thinking outside of the "road test" box. It's not about speed, it's about design, the environment, and doing what's right for the world.

Go get 'em, Chrysler. You just might see me in a showroom soon.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, January 18

Wal-Mart and H&M Throw Out Clothes


Last night was the Golden Globes. An event where we honor excellence in the entertainment business and we highlight fashion as art form. This at a time when we watch with great sadness the unfolding of the tragedy in Haiti. The combination of these two events sparks me to write about a story that broke just a little while ago here in Manhattan.

The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart and H&M had been found destroying and throwing out clothing that had not sold. Also throwing out bag after bag of plastic hangers. Evidently, it's easier to destroy and throw out the merchandise than to recycle it, send it to outlets, or donate it.

Here's the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/nyregion/06about.html

We are talking some serious stuff here. Like cutting off the fingers on gloves, slicing the soles of school shoes, ripping the sleeves of shirts. Brand new merchandise that for whatever reason didn't sell, despite the low prices touted by both of these retailers.

Stating the obvious here: clothes that can be used by adults and children who are in need. In some cases, the dumpsters are right around the corner from locations accepting donations. Not "Golden Globes" fashion items, but clothing essentials that help people get through their day.

I'm speechless. So much so that I wasn't even going to write about it. But with so many people in need right now, I have to ask this question: if low prices are the essence of both of these brands, at what cost?

What's your experience? Jim.

Sunday, January 17

Weekly Resolution 1/18/10

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, the consummate kind man, my resolution this week is to be more kind to others.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Martin Luther King, Jr

All of us are struggling to get through the world, especially these days. For some it's more intense of a struggle than for others. The tragedy happening in Haiti is the ultimate struggle, and we are collectively banding together to offer some help. The cell phone text campaign by The Red Cross just hit $20million in relief funds, a true testament to our ability to be kind to others.

At least once a day, do something that helps someone else. Help a stranger pack their groceries into the car. Help a colleague figure out a difficult problem. Critique a resume for a friend who is looking for a job. Help a family member with a project at home. Donate $10 from your cell phone to help the victims in Haiti.

Whatever it is, even for just a few minutes, do something helpful each day.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, January 15

Social Media in a Time of Crisis


Marketers are constantly talking about how we can use social media to connect with our consumers. Some brands have truly embraced it, while others are just beginning to talk about it. Truth is that all of us are still figuring it out, one way or the other.

And then along comes a crisis and the true role of social media slaps us in the face. In my mind it started with Neda in Iran --the woman who we basically all saw die on Twitter. I am sure that none of us would have known the severity of what was happening in Iran, real time, if it weren't for Twitter at that very moment.

I'm basically getting all of my urgent, real news on Twitter. The other day there was a bomb scare in Grand Central Station that shut down the trains and the subways in the area for hours. I followed the whole story on Twitter way before it ever hit the radar of the traditional news formats.

Then I used texting to make sure that my friends were not involved and that they were safe. Imagine if we had Twitter on 9/11? We would have known so much more about what was happening.

And now I'm using Facebook to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Simply text "haiti" on your cell phone and $10 is sent to relief efforts and is charged onto your cell phone. Yahoo and Google are offering ways to help. Everyone online is scrambling to find ways to help.

Social media has become THE way to stay connected and informed during times of crisis. I'm sure that just two years ago, before social media proliferation, I would have been so much less informed on these issues. And certainly less connected and engaged. We are not only getting the real story, real time, with real footage, we are finding ways to get involved. Even the traditional news outlets are using Twitter to stay more current.

So as marketers and brands it's important to see one how social media is impacting and adding value to our lives. It's a great way to get involved in issues, to be a participant in the "community", and to see how people are feeling and living their lives. It can save lives.

BTW -- if you want to join in the relief for Haiti, there are tons of options floating all over Facebook, including the effort from the Red Cross that has already topped $3million. Or simply go to cnn.com for a list of ways to contribute.

I am so grateful to have these powerful connections to what is going on in the world.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, January 13

Beauty -- There's An App For That


Jessica DiPietro here at the agency makes a guest appearance today, talking about "trying on beauty". In the land of apps, it's actually pretty cool stuff.

What's your experience, Jessica? Jim.

Women love the experience of feeling, touching, seeing, and trying makeup in person -- but they also love the convenience and excitement of the ever-changing and growing internet. So what’s a sensory-focused industry like beauty to do, in order to compete and really take advantage of the internet?

With Web technology constantly advancing, beauty companies have instinctively embraced the “virtual makeover” -- who wouldn't. We’ve all seen the “try-on” technology, and it's a lot of fun. Consumers get to try all sorts of looks to see which one suits them best.

There isn’t a top company or beauty site out there anymore that doesn’t have this type of tool such as Clairol’s Try It On Studio, Cover Girl’s Makeover Studio and the most recent from Daily Makeover. Consumers can even see how they may look after BOTOX.

But, just when I thought I couldn’t take another iPhone app, aBeauty Pro combined the two and launched the first realistic visualization iPhone App for cosmetics – just brilliant. Think about it – millions of women are now able to “try on” their makeup right at the point of sale and then send it immediately to a friend or family member for an opinion. And then hopefully select the right products for them.

Read a little bit about it here: http://www.appsafari.com/utilities/9776/abeauty-pro/

What a great way to bring the beauty industry into the next decade!

- Jessica DiPietro, EVP at Lippe Taylor Brand Communications

Tuesday, January 12

Can American Idol Sustain Its Brand?


Last night was the season premiere of American Idol. It's become a January tradition!

I'm not embarrassed (ok, maybe a little embarrassed) to admit that I have been behind American Idol since the first season. Actually since the first episode of the first season. I loved it from the start, and bought into every aspect of the brand including the website content, new singles (you just gotta love "A Moment Like This" from Kelly Clarkson), Christmas albums, logo wear ... I even bought the Playstation game for my kids.

The show almost instantly became a brand, and it helped to market a lot of other brands as well. Ford Focus attributes much of its success to its incredible product placements and video segments with the cast. And who could forget the Coca-Cola room and the shots of Simon downing a drink from a Coke cup at the beginning of every show. It's product placement heaven!

But as the new season begins, I have a nagging thought. Can American Idol sustain its brand?

Even as a die hard fan, I've gotten bit bored. I don't watch every single episode anymore. I'm still engaged, but just not at the same level of intensity. It's hard for an entertainment brand to stay hot for so long. The show itself hasn't changed that much since day one, so it's tricky to keep a brand alive when it doesn't grow and evolve. Although there certainly has been enough talent and drama each season to draw attention.

And then Paula leaves, who was a big part of the brand. We'll see if Ellen can keep it alive. I'm a big fan.

But now Simon? He IS the American Idol brand. I'm not sure that the show can survive without him. I'm not a fan of Simon, but I do admit that he is a HUGE draw for the show and a reason to tune in.

Will this be the end of the run for one of the greatest television entertainment brands in history? My bet is that for next season, they'll need to do some major re-invention to evolve the brand without Simon and still keep it alive and thriving. I'll bet super-hero Ryan Seacrest will figure something out.

What's your experience? Jim.

Lady Gaga and Polaroid


A very interesting move for a brand that has been on the decline. Polaroid just announced that Lady Gaga will be the Creative Director for a new line of products that will be co-branded. Lady Gaga and Polaroid.

Lady Gaga is hot. Lots of people are literally saying that she is re-defining pop music. They are referring to this musical phase as the "post Lady Gaga" age. The lyrics, the voice, the theatrics -- in IMHO even more dramatic than Madonna in her day.

Polaroid is not hot. Seems like the brand's time has passed. Digital photography killed the Polaroid, just like video killed the radio star. The brand has been in a slow decline for years, despite numerous attempts to revitalize it.

But we Americans, especially us marketers, love a come-back story. And we also love our pop music stars, particularly those that are young and fresh and innovative.

I'm pulling for Polaroid, if only just to acknowledge their unbelievable creativity and guts. You can read more about it here: http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/06/news/companies/lady_gaga_polaroid/index.htm?section=money_topstories&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fmoney_topstories+%28Top+Stories%29

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, January 11

New Vitamin Water Flavor


Glaceau Vitamin Water. I'm a huge fan. No really, I am actually a Facebook fan. And my son's deli fridge in our gameroom is STOCKED with Vitamin Water. He and his friends arranged the bottles by flavor, and they line them up like a wave of colors. They are huge fans too. No really, they are actually Facebook fans. That's how I got hooked.

So when Vitamin Water announced a new flavor contest among it's Facebook fans, we/they were in. Pretty cool marketing idea to get your die hard fans engaged - have them create the newest flavor.

The brand just announced the winner late last week : "connect" (note the lower case "c").

Loaded with caffeine and 8 other ingredients, it actually has a Facebook logo on the label. And it's already been updating its own status. I should know, I'm a fan.

What's your experience? Jim.

Weekly Resolution 1/11/10

LEARN A NEW CATEGORY

I am a big believer that marketing is marketing. No matter the brand,
the category, the business, or the consumer, a really good marketer
can step right in and dissect the situation.

Marketing is a mind set, a process, and a way of thinking that can be
applied to almost any category. But to get really good at it, you need
to practice a lot and participate in a lot of marketing situations.

Even now I learn something new with every category and every brand
experience I develop. It's the best part about marketing.

So my resolution this week is to continue learning new categories. To
be exposed to new situations that I need to figure out. And to keep
learning new business dynamics every step of the way.

I have recently had that opportunity many times and I plan to continue!

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, January 7

Jennifer Lopez's Product Placement?


Is this incredible product placement or just fashion meets pop music?

The new single from Jennifer Lopez, that is. "Throwing On My Louboutins"

Louboutins (lou-batons) are arguably the hottest shoes on the market right now.

The new song is a modern day version of "These Boots Were Made For Walking", only
branded. 45 times to be exact, on just the radio single alone. Imagine the remix!

This is not the first brand name to appear in a song. Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin have each sung about Cadillacs. Coke and Budweiser have gotten many a mention through the years. As has Chanel.

But rarely right in the title and as the premise of the song.

I found no evidence that this was a paid placement by any means. Although the shoes do make quite the appearance in the music video. I think it's just JLo being JLo.

Two problems though.

First of all, I don't think the targetting is right. With a price range of $500 to $5,000, I doubt that JLo's audience is buying these shoes, but I may be wrong.

Secondly, sadly, she got more attention for her now infamous "fall" while performing the song on the AMA's last month then she did for the song itself. Or for the shoes for that matter.

Of course, here I am writing about it!!!

Is this incredible product placement or just fashion meets pop music? What's your experience? Jim.

Improv Everywhere and The Salvation Army


My friend Ryan Drumwright makes a guest blog appearance today, talking about a holiday tradition that got a bit richer this year. Thanks Ryan! Jim.


The Salvation Army bell ringers. It's not Christmas without them. While I always try to drop a dollar or two into the bucket, it can be easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy and ignore these hard-working employees.

Last Christmas, Improv Everywhere decided they were going to make one Manhattan bell ringer impossible to ignore. The group, famous for pranks such as "No Pants! Subway Ride" and "Frozen Grand Central," teamed up with a local handbell choir to execute "Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce." One-by-one 13 Improv Everywhere "agents" stood by a lucky Salvation Army bell ringer and played "Joy to the World." Smiling pedestrians stopped, took pictures and donated money. An Improv Everywhere agent recorded the experience, and posted a video of the prank to YouTube. The video now has over 432,000 views, and a Google Blogs search reveals there are 4,160 blog entries sharing the experience. It is clear the "Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce experience" has outlived the two-minute performance on 59th and Lexington. All of this is thanks to the Internet and social media.

What can we as "experience architects" take from this holiday prank?

1) Bigger isn't always better. Simple tactics can lead to a positive experience.
2) Think different. Build an experience that stops people in their tracks and hits their "E-Spot." This can be done by using emotional appeal, the element of surprise, or even the "magic of Christmas."
3) Life is better when it is shared. So are experiences. Create an experience people will want to share with friends and family both in real life and on the social web.

And now for the thing you have all been waiting for... The video! http://www.facebook.com/l/bbbd3;www.youtube.com/watch?v=40qHb9uFpRI


What's your experience?

Ryan Drumwright

Digital Strategist for the CLIO Awards at Social Rocket
Founder of the Account Planners of New York City community
Senior Integrated Marketing Communication student


http://www.facebook.com/l/bbbd3;www.twitter.com/Ryan_Drumwright
Http://www.facebook.com/ryan.drumwright
http://www.facebook.com/AccountPlannersofNYC

Tuesday, January 5

Crystal Light Creates a Claim


In marketing, having a unique product claim that no other brand can make is the equivalent of gold.

Some brands come by claims naturally -- the product inherently does something good. Some brands have to reinvent themselves to get a claim -- add an ingredient so that the product does something good. And some brands have to create a claim -- come up with unique language that makes a claim where none would otherwise exist.

In most categories, most of the products can make just about the same kinds of claims. Lower cholesterol. Amount of national network coverage. Reduce signs of redness. In a sea of sameness, brands have to get clever and create more unique claims in order to stand out in the marketplace.

Enter Crystal Light. The brand just rolled out a new claim that is quite clever. It takes a few twists and turns, but it's clever nonetheless.

Crystal Light just launched a new campaign talking about how important it is to drink water. The messaging runs along the lines of water being an important ingredient for a healthy lifestyle and how important it is to stay hydrated -- stuff like that.

Kind of smart since you add water to, you guessed it, Crystal Light, to make a beverage of your flavor choice. But here's the claim that they were able to create:

Crystal Light users drink 20% more water than non-Crystal Light users. A direct statement.

So in other words, Crystal Light users are more hydrated, and therefore healthier?? More of an indirect statement, but a clever example of a brand inventing a claim and creating an overall perception. I am sure it's legitimate -- the brand probably did a survey among Crystal Light users and non-users and asked them how much water they drink. After all, staying hydrated is a healthy thing.

Pretty creative.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, January 4

Let The (Weight Loss) Race Begin


As a marketer, I get it. January 1st comes rolling around and what's a "healthy" brand to do? Leverage the fact that millions of people are going to start out the new year with a resolution that somehow revolves around losing weight. So advertise your brand and get these consumers to choose you over the other options in front of them. I get it.

But it's a little much, don't you think? This year it began exactly on December 26th. We know we need to lose weight -- we can't see our toes anymore! Stop trying to convince us. Stop ramming it down our throats. Stop telling us the same exact thing, over and over and over again. Stop advertising to us.

We are trying. The gyms are packed, the salad bars are loaded, and no one is in the candy aisle. The country is in a collective near-panic about our weight. We are trying.

As a brand in the category, though, you need to try along with us. Talk with us. Join us. Tell us something different that will make a difference. Offer us some innovation.

So my advice to all these brands is to stand out from the crowd. Do something unique and different to attract my attention. Establish a new way of thinking about weight loss -- then maybe you'll break through the clutter and connect with me. Connect with me on an emotional level and then give me some rational news. In places other than on television. Give me some incentives to stick with you. Play with me. Then I'll bite, so to speak.

What's your experience? Jim.

Weekly Resolution 1/4/10

When I was heading up Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, I started writing weekly resolutions. Some fun, some about marketing, some more serious. People told me that they liked them and looked forward to reading them. So I kept writing them!

Since I'm not really into New Year's resolutions, I thought I would at least continue my own tradition of weekly thoughts/resolutions into 2010 as well. Just something to think about each week as we go about our lives.

This week ...

WATCH MORE MOVIES

With all the time off during the holiday season, I got the chance to watch a lot of movies. New movies, old movies, comedies, dramas, the whole gamut. Escapism at its best. I realized that I should really watch movies more often. Not just to escape, but also to learn.

Learn about:
- a piece of history that I didn't know much about --- "The Young Victoria"
- the background of a famous person --- "Gods and Monsters"
- pop culture --- "Julie & Julia"
- new production techniques --- "Night at the Museum 2"
- what it's like to be in the younger generations today --- "500 Days of Summer"

I saw over a dozen movies this past week and a half. I probably won't be able to quite keep up that pace, but I will make a more conscious effort to engage in them more often. Particularly as the Oscar season comes up. Movies are a great chance to escape and learn and stay connected with pop culture.

What's your experience? Jim.