Thursday, September 30

Another Season of Glee!

So the other day I blogged about how Modern Family far surpasses any of the new shows this season. Well, I totally forgot about Glee, mostly because I missed the season premiere. But I caught this week's episode, and let me tell you I am a Gleek!

This show is awesome. Far different from Modern Family, which I still love, but total appointment television at its finest.

The music is to die for. This week it was Britney who was honored. Brittany S. Pierce to be exact, who came out of the woodwork to show her stuff. Impressive.

Even more impressive is the marketing. Product placements within the show are soon followed by featured advertising. Right after the first cameo appearance of the real Britney, comes a commercial for her new fragrance. Right after a scene where the characters are worshiping a Corvette, comes a commercial for the new Corvette.

Most intriguing? The partnership with the Members Project from American Express.

Several commercial breaks asked the question: "Some people want to do good, others don't - which one are you?" I don't know - they didn't tell us enough to figure it out, so like any good fan I had to go check it out.

Glee teamed up with the American Express Members Project to promote local efforts to save the environment and to contribute to charity. They partnership encourages fans to participate, using cast members as inspiration -- with the show, its website, and social media outlets. Sans Sue Sylvester because she doesn't want to do good! You can read about it at gleefan.com. OK, I am a little embarrassed that I knew about that fan site. :)

This is just plain ole' good marketing, with a cause. Around an amazingly entertaining show. I'm filled with glee.

What's your experience? Jim

PS - Sue Sylvester quote of the week: "You wear more vests than the cast of Blossom" (ROTFLMAO)

Wednesday, September 29

American Marketing Association

Yesterday I spoke at the American Marketing Association conference in Atlanta, with content from my book about building brand experiences.

What an experience! I had a ball.

The conference was filled with marketing executives, market researchers, agency partners, and valued suppliers -- one person more insightful and intelligent than the next.

The key note speeches were amazing, the best I've heard quite honestly at a conference. And the networking events were just that - networking events. Everyone was so eager to meet each other, there were no clusters of people hanging with their own posses. We were all there to meet each other and share experiences.

I spent a lot of time talking about "need vs. want" and how that's what distinguishes a product from a brand. We need products, but we want brands. I need a cup of coffee in the morning to get me going, but I want a Starbucks. Can't always explain why, it's the emotional connection that consumers make with a brand that creates that want. It's up to the marketers to create that emotional connection through a compelling brand experience. Ahh, the magic of marketing.

You can read about my presentation here, where a marketing blogger covered my content almost word for word. So appreciate that!

After my presentation, I did a few video interviews both alone and with another author. That was great fun -- I'll post them as soon as they go live.

My message to you? Attend industry conferences! You can learn so much, and you get to meet so many interesting people. We all traded business cards and twitter handles, so I know we'll stay in touch.

I always say that marketing is a team sport - just proved it to myself this week!

What's your experience? Jim

Tuesday, September 28

The Dandruff Wars

An interesting situation is occurring in the war on dandruff. At least interesting to me! I always say that marketing is a spectator sport, and I love watching brands compete against each other.

Enter Head & Shoulders, perhaps the undisputed king of dandruff shampoos. Quite a following with men, but never considered much of a brand for women. A new campaign this year, however, specifically targets women and focuses more on the hair than on the dandruff. When talking with women, makes a lot of sense, because they are into their hair. And from a business stand point, expanding the brand by trying to get women into the franchise does make sense.

On the other side of the spectrum is Garnier Fructis, clearly a hair care brand for women. For beautiful women with beautiful hair (ala Sarah Jessica Parker). The brand just introduced a new product for ... dandruff! And the new advertising features ... a guy! A guy playing football.

Holy turn around! A great way to expand that brand as well.

But here's the rub in both cases. Brand expansions like these only work if they are consistent with the brand equity and don't confuse current consumers. A beautiful hair care brand for women that now has a dandruff shampoo for men? Another hair care brand that for years has been helping men with dandruff now talking to women about beautiful hair?

I'm not saying that it can't work, because clearly both of these brands are experts in hair care and have the ability to expand. It's just that their equities are so firmly entrenched (which is a good thing), that consumers may find it hard to embrace. It'll be fun to watch.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, September 27

Modern Family

It's the start of the new Fall television season and all the new shows are fighting to build an audience. Some of the shows seem to be hitting stride already, Hawaii Five-O as an example. But for me the most exciting show of the season isn't new.

Modern Family.

In its second season, this show has totally found its voice and a very large audience. It's fabulous. So well written and so well acted. It's a slice of pop culture heaven that for me is just so relevant right now that I am making it appointment television.

What do I love the most? The show leaves no part of our culture unturned. Equal opportunity insults across all ethnicities, political views, genders, orientations, religions affiliations - you name it. No one is left off the list.

And while the jokes are generally based on stereotypes, they are hysterical. And you don't feel bad laughing because they hit everyone. There's no predujice.

And in the end, there is actually acceptance of the diversity in us all. There's an incredible realization that we really are more alike than different, and that we are all in it together.

We are all equal - equal in our differences and in our insecurities, faults, and human-ness. We are one big modern family. Now that's a message for any show in any season.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, September 24

Pepsi Refresh

You'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard of the Pepsi Refresh project. It's been heavily advertised and promoted for months now, with a lot of celebrity endorsements as well.

Truthfully, though, I have not paid much attention to it. Not sure why, just didn't hit me - didn't seem real to me. But I did a little digging, and found the project to be quite amazing and very real.

Basically, you simply write up a proposal on how you'd like to do a project that will somehow help others and submit it under one of these categories:
- health
- art & culture
- food & shelter
- the planet
- neighborhoods
- education
Each category has an "ambassador" that helps to promote the projects.

Pepsi takes 1,000 ideas a month and places them into funding buckets of $5,000 increments, totalling what looks like $1,300,000 in funding a month. Then the public votes on the ideas, and Pepsi awards the grant money. Very simple, very real.

Pepsi also added another category to support the clean-up in the Gulf and has added an extra $1,300,000 for projects in that region alone.

The best part is that it's so easy to participate, either with a proposal or to vote on those submitted. And it's fascinating to review all of the proposals and to see all the amazing ideas put worth by some really good people. Warms the heart. Check them out here.

It's fully integrated cause marketing, with connections to the website, Facebook, advertising, and retail. There's even a voting app.

I know that there has been criticism that the brand is basically just trying to sell soda, but I disagree. The brand, that all of us can choose to purchase or not, is making a huge attempt to help people help others. I personally don't want to criticize that. This was such a great idea, I wish I had paid more attention to it sooner.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, September 23

V8

"I should have had a V8 (insert hand gesture)" - one of the most memorable "taglines" in advertising history. Not only memorable, but also relateable and meaningful - all with just a few simple words.

The V8 brand has a very simple mission, as stated on its website and clearly communicated in all of its marketing: "Get More Vegetables to More People Every Day." A new advertising campaign clearly shows that by drinking V8, you can hit your daily dose. Why not just drink them? It's a simple and clear message, and actually quote motivating. There's a small article about the campaign here.

I have to say that I am not personally a V8 consumer, although I should be. But I am a big fan of the brand, mostly because they have so clearly defined their brand premise and have stuck to it year after year, decade after decade. Consistently sticking to something that works is just plain great marketing.

But they also keep it fresh. Not crazy innovative, but fresh. New products along the way (Fusion, Splash), of course new advertising, expanded web content, and now a new line of V8 soups! "Another delicious way to get your vegetables." Doesn't hurt that V8 is a Campbell's Soup brand, another great marketer!

What's your experience? Jim

Wednesday, September 22

Clinical Strength Antiperspirant

I'll admit it, I sweat just as much as the next guy. OK, I'll really admit it, I sweat 10x more than the next guy. So when I noticed the proliferation of clinical strength antiperspirants, I just had to blog about it. Can't help myself.

Of course these clinical strength formulas were first available with a prescription, but hardly very accessible since you have to go to a doctor, talk about your sweating, and then go get a prescription filled. Not very user friendly.

So it was just a matter of time before the first brand would come out with a prescription strength, and then everyone followed. Men's brands and women's brands - there are many options out there including Gillette, Secret, Old Spice, you name it. But what makes them different? They are priced at a significant premium so clearly there is a benefit, but aren't they all just the same?

From a product perspective, pretty much. Like so many consumer categories, the differentiation is in the positioning and in the marketing. Sure there is a functional side to all of this, but the brands that really "get it" have cracked the emotional code to set themselves apart.

There are a lot of emotions tied up in sweating, and it's interesting to see those marketers walking on the emotional side:
- "Emotions make you sweat up to five times more than usual"
- "One in four people worry about excessive sweating"
- "Don't let sweating get in the way of being yourself"

And of course, the infamous: "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman", that one's been around way before extra stength!

But do they really work? At twice the price and even more, they had better. But because sweating is in the arms of the beholder, I leave that up to you to judge. My only point here is that this is classic marketing in action ... create a new category within a category based on an emotional (and physical) need for efficacy, charge more, and then use creative positioning and an emotional benefit to differentiate. Then let the consumer decide if it's worth it.

What's your experience? Jim

Tuesday, September 21

Nike "Write the Future"

With American football season starting, I'm reminded of all the effort that goes into marketing a sports brand and its equipment. The field and television screen become battle grounds as brands fight for logo domination. But not all the action happens during the game anymore.

A colleague reminded me yesterday of what happened during this past summer's World Cup - marketing glory!

Adidas was the title sponsor, so that brand got all the action on the field and during all the telecasts. Very traditional move - tried and true.

Nike, however, stole the show, by using the digital space and by engaging fans in ways never done before. The brand skipped the "logo on sleeve" strategy and instead created a brand experience for its consumers. Score!

Nike created "Write the Future" which was an engaging campaign that started with short video clips on Facebook where players would talk about how their game would have been different had they done a play differently. Fans were all over it, and Facebook and Twitter followers seemingly doubled over night. The videos spread like wild fire, and eventually made their way into advertising. Social media driving traditional media!

Then fans were given the opportunity to "Write the Future" themselves by posting short little tweets directed to players to serve as motivation directly to them. The best of the best were chosen and displayed on an animated video screen across Johannesburg's largest building. True Nike style, as directed by the fans themselves.

The entire soccer community lite up! While Nike was not the official sponsor of The World Cup, they ended up getting all the attention. You can read a little bit about it here, where the Harvard Business Review covered the story.

This is a great example of not having to "own" a sport (aka spend big bucks being the title sponsor) in order to "own" a sport. And a great example of skipping the tried and true, and embracing digital media to play where your consumers are living their lives.

Great inspiration as we go into high football season and its marketing.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, September 20

Eataly

I had an amazing shopping experience this past weekend - Eataly - a full blown retail celebration of Italy that just opened in Manhattan near the corner of 23rd and 5th.

Eataly is the latest project from Italian chefs and restaurateurs Mario Batali and Lidia Matticchio along with her son Joe Bastianich. It's a concept that comes from Italy where gourmet food retailers have executed it to perfection.

The space in Manhattan is amazing as it mixes retail selections with cafes with deli counters with education about the regions and foods of Italy. You can spend hours in the place having snacks, grabbing a drink, eating a meal, and of course shopping for food to bring home. All authentically from Italy. There's even a beer garden on the roof, and a "school" where you can take cooking classes. Culinary heaven, straight from Italy.

The merchandising is perfection, much like its Italian origins. Plenty of food products and kitchen ware in every category to choose from along with posters that explain where the products come from and even how to use them. There are lots of marketing sponsorships as well, as it appears that certain brands "own" certain sections. Barilla certainly has the pasta down, and Illy has a coffee bar complete with coffee beans and machines for sale.

It's so much fun to see something new in retail, I just couldn't get enough - even though 50,000 square feet in Manhattan is no small feat.

Eataly seems to be a part of a growing trend of retail delights. Spaces that transform you to a place, where small boutiques cluster together to provide specialized merchandise that at least feels like you can't get anywhere else. Very Fred Segal and Limelight, although all Italy. After all, if you are going to compete with low cost retailers and e-commerce, you better deliver a unique, relevant, and value-added experience. And that's exactly what Eataly does, many times over.

What's your experience? Jim

Friday, September 17

A Spectacular Week

It was a big week for spectacles. First it was the VH-1 Video Music Awards on Sunday night, which seemed like it was going to disappoint but then was saved by one little moment: Cher (in vintage Cher) giving the video of the year award to Lady Gaga (in a meat dress). Yes, you just read that right. Then Lady Gaga gave us a little sample from her new album "I Was Born This Way." The night was saved, as Cher held Gaga's meat purse while she spoke.

Now Gaga is known for her spectacles, and it seems like her creativity is rubbing off on others.

It's been Fashion Week here in NYC, which is always good for a spectacle or two. The city is jumping (no sign of a recession this week), as party goers hop from event to event. I went to a couple myself, rooftop to rooftop with stunning views of the city mixed with crazy over-the-top DJs. One party had an electronic violinist playing along with a house beat DJ -- both in crazy dresses. I also heard from many people that the runway shows were far from ordinary as the designers pushed their own creative boundaries.

But for me the spectacle of the week was Donna Summer singing with Prince Poppycock on America's Got Talent. I didn't catch it live on tv (I hardly see anything first run anymore), but I did catch it over and over as it was covered in all the online channels.

Crazy. Prince Poppycock was in full Poppycock mode and then here comes legendary Donna Summer out of nowhere, holding her own style, singing like there's no tomorrow. Complete with Gaga and Poppycock inspired hair and accessories.

There seems to have been a theme for the week. "Go For It." Express your creativity and create a spectacle of yourself. I love it and I think we all collectively need it. It's a nice breath of fresh air, perhaps inspired by the spectacle of the moment, Gaga.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, September 16

CEW Event with Ed Shirley

Last night I attended a CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) event featuring Ed Shirley, head of Procter & Gamble's global beauty and grooming businesses. CEW is one of the premiere trade organizations in the beauty business, with brands and professionals participating from all aspects of the industry. The organization holds several educational and networking events throughout the year, including the very well known beauty awards. It's an impressive group.

Ed Shirley was fascinating. CEW just recently allowed men to join (hence my attendance!), and I think Ed must have been a charter male member.

I loved his philosophy on innovation. He spoke to something that I have long thought to be true -- we tend to introduce new products a little too frequently. For gosh sakes, it takes a while for consumers to even get a chance to try them, but as marketers we move too quickly onto the next best thing. In many cases, the consumer hasn't even tried our last new product before we send out the new one.

Ed says we should focus instead on "consumer led innovation", meaning let's come up with ideas on our existing products that really motivate consumers in ways that they've never seen before. Suddenly a tried and true brand is fresh and relevant -- even "new" again.

Witness the Old Spice advertising and social media campaign that completely revitalized the brand. No new products, just a fresh new approach focused squarely on the consumer. Also true of the "Proud Sponsor of Moms" campaign during the Olympics that totally stole the show.

Not a novel idea. More like "back to the basics" of effective marketing -- really understanding our consumers and driving innovation with current products. Pretty impressive.

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, September 15

Supporting Breast Cancer Research

The other day, my fifteen year old son walked in the door with his best friend who was wearing a t-shirt that said "I Love Boobies." My son immediately asked me what I thought of the shirt and I didn't quite know what to say.

Part of me thought it was totally inappropriate for this kid to be wearing something like that but then part of me wanted to be a cool Dad. So I just let it go.

Then they showed me the rubber bracelets he was wearing and informed me that this wasn't just a naughty t-shirt but a "brand". Hmmm. Then all weekend I started noticing that teens were wearing these t-shirts and bracelets everywhere I went. Multiples even. I still didn't quite get it.

Then in true teenage style, the story slowly unfolded. "Dad, it's for charity -- breast cancer." Oh, why didn't you say that to begin with!

This "I Love Boobies" merchandise is part of The Keep a Breast Foundation, whose mission is to educate and motivate young people about early detection and getting rid of breast cancer. I think it's working -- it's completely infiltrating pop culture, much the way LiveStrong did a few years ago.

What I love about it is the sense of humor and the attitude. Puts it right out there, in a young and fresh way, and clearly makes the point.

In a similar vein, one of the teams participating in Susan G. Komen for the Cure is called Gaga for TaTas, and has a viral fundraising video called "Mammogram" which is a spoof of Lady Gaga's "PokerFace." Quite funny and hopefully will generate donations for the team and the cause. No subtleties here, and all done with a wink and a smile.

Putting it right out there, I love it! We are all surrounded by cancer. I have many many friends and family members who are dealing with it. It's refreshing to talk about it in new ways.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, September 14

Oprah's Last Season

Yesterday was day one of the last season of The Oprah Show, at least this current installment which has now lasted a whopping 25 years! It's sure to be a full season of goodbyes, and the premiere episode did not disappoint.

She danced with Travolta, she was serenaded by Paul Simon, she was surprised by Don Johnson ... what more could a girl want (or a fan for that matter)? This is going to be a season full of celebrities and surprises. But Oprah says that the celebrities are not coming on to promote their projects anymore -- they are coming on just to talk. That's cool.

Most interesting to me? Oprah's taking a page out of the CRM (customer relationship marketing) book. Her audience was filled with superfans, uber-fans, premiere fans, her most rabid fans. Her most loyal. She catered to them to reach the others. A great strategy when in fact you want to move your fan base to a new place -- like a new network. Oprah literally drove a bunch of them from Boston directly onto the stage. She's taking 300 of them on a trip to Australia, for goodness sake.

The CRM strategy? Focus on your most loyal consumers. Treat them like royalty, add value to their lives like never before, and then use them as ambassadors for when you make the switch. Others will follow.

She's brilliant.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, September 13

CaringBridge

This post comes with a bit of personal experience.

I have a friend and fraternity brother who is nearing the end of his battle with a very rare and incurable form of cancer. Although he has been with us much longer than what was originally diagnosed, it still breaks my heart and is devastating to all who know and love him. Particularly his unbelievably strong wife and their young children. Breaks my heart what they are going through right now.

What has been absolutely magical, though, is how all of us have been able to be a part of his journey through social media. Hopefully supporting him in some small way.

Truthfully I have not seen him in years, but over the course of the last eighteen months or so, we have all reconnected over Facebook. So as he and his wife have been on this roller coaster called cancer, their friends and family have been sitting next to them on the ride. Not physically, but spiritually. Connected in ways never possible before things like Facebook.

And then there's CaringBridge. CaringBridge has also been a tremendous help in keeping their extended network of family and friends informed and involved. Not sure if you have ever heard of it, but you need to understand how helpful this website is at times like these. I know many people have used this great service at CaringBridge.org.

On the website, my friend and his wife have been keeping a journal of their activities and treatments, both happy and sad, and then we are able to post back comments. They get to read and feel the love that all of us so much want them to feel. I am sure it's an outlet of sorts for them as well, a place where they can express all the emotions that they are going through. The posts then get added to places like Facebook, and we can share all the updates and send back support.

If you are in any kind of a healthcare crisis, check out CaringBridge. Get all your friends and family involved in your journey. They want to be. And if you are a marketer, consider supporting this great service and others like it -- an amazing way to truly add value to your consumers' lives.

In the meantime, all my thoughts are centered on my friend and his family as they go through this horrible time. At the very least, we have a venue to tell them that we are right there by their side.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, September 10

Food Trucks

My momma told me, "you better shop around!" She also told me to never ever eat from a food truck!

Well times are certainly changing. The food truck has quickly become the new gourmet restaurant, and a big part of urban pop culture, serving indulgent ice cream, delicious pastries, unbelievable burgers, crepes, sandwiches -- you name it. These gourmet food trucks move around cities to catch people in different neighborhoods. Some of them tweet their locations so that you know where to find them and some encourage you to "check in" with FourSquare. You can even lobby through social media to get them in front of your office building.

I'm not talking about stale pretzels or wieners floating in water here. This is real, amazing food.

And now The Food Network is even getting into the action. A new show with celebrity chef Tyler Florence is called "The Great Food Truck Race" -- food trucks compete in a cross country journey to determine which truck makes the best food. Every episode one truck drives home while the others carry on. It's sponsored by Hellmann's and will ultimately result in one winner with a cash prize of $50,000. I love the tagline: "There Will Be Breakdowns." :)

If you haven't gotten the nerve up yet to try one of these new gourmet food trucks, give it a try. You'll be quite surprised. And be sure to call your mom.

What's your experience? Jim

Thursday, September 9

Cell Phones Dictating Our Lives?

It wasn't that long ago, actually, when our lives did not include cell phones. Hard to remember life without them, especially now that we rely on them for so much. And as my colleague Brooke points out, worse yet they are starting to control our lives. Yikes!

What's your experience, Brooke? Jim.

I never thought that my cell phone could make my life so easy and effortless. I also never thought that my world would be run by technology and that my every move would be publicized for all to see 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook
and Twitter.

Aside from broadcasting our plans through status updates on an hourly basis, did you ever think about what influenced our plans in the first place?

Last week, I read an interesting blog that addressed how our lives have turned into an instinctive motion of looking at our “magical devices” to determine our next big purchase or plan of action.

This blog post got me thinking about how much I actually depend on my cell phone. I hate to admit it, but I am totally guilty of relying on my cell phone for everything, and I am embarrassed that I let this small mobile device dictate my choices and in essence, my life.

I receive alerts on my cell phone about happy hour specials or sample sales, and before I know it, my plans to finally get my glasses fixed or pick up some groceries for the work week suddenly go out the window.

Here’s another example where I let my cell phone control my decisions: I changed my route to work on Thursday morning because a coffee shop on 23rd street claimed to be serving free coffee between the hours of 7 am and 10 am. Truth be told, the special had ended the week before and the man behind the counter did not even know what I was talking about.

Don’t get me wrong; I love receiving alerts about one-of-a-kind deals, especially because I am on a serious budget, so I will take any discount I can get. The disappointment lies in traveling all the way for your “prize” to find out that the Seven Jeans are sold out at the sample sale or the line at Starbucks for a free caramel light Frappuccino® is hours long.

It is then that we must take a step back and decide what is most important? We need to take control of our lives and evaluate whether the reward of getting $10 off those Burberry rain boots is worth skipping out on an important business lunch or meeting a friend who you made plans with two weeks ago.

What will our lives look like 5 years from now if we continue to subconsciously depend on our mobile device for everything? I see those strong relationships and friendships we’ve made go down the drain because our cell phone has now become our new “best friend.”

As much as I am not happy about the future of the smartphone dictating every decision, this is good news for those working in the marketing and public relations industry. It allows us to target our audience and connect with consumers easier now than ever. The challenge then becomes how to connect with our audience and break through the clutter when every brand is starting to follow the same trend.

This blog post really got me thinking. If you'd like to read it, click here.

- Brooke Aronoff, Account Coordinator at Lippe Taylor Brand Communications

Wednesday, September 8

Hoarders


A&E premiered its new season of the television show Hoarders on Sunday night. If you are not familiar with the show, it's part of an entire line up of programming that features real people dealing with different aspects of mental illness.

The first and most successful of the lineup was Intervention. It's about addiction and showcases people who have hit rock bottom with their family members stepping in to get them some much needed help. Then came Obsessed, The Cleaner, and Hoarders.

Hoarders is about people who feel the need to stock pile and keep every item they've ever owned in their house. Newspapers, magazines, toys, furniture, food wrappers, dishes, clothing -- everything just piles up around them as they are completely unable to part with anything in their lives. Specialists come in and try to help clean up the house and provide follow-up counseling.

I have to say that the show is very difficult to watch. These people really struggle with this affliction. There is a true feeling of hopelessness, as the state of their house just gets worse and worse all the way to the point of being dangerous. And in some cases illegal.

Throughout the show, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is omni-present for the clean up. The logo, trucks, and clean up crew are everywhere. It's very clear that the brand is a sponsor of the show, and for good reason because they are providing a valuable service to people trying to clean up their homes and their lives. It's an interesting marketing "partnership" in that the brand is raising awareness for their service by literally putting it right in the middle of the action. It's tastefully done, but clearly well messaged and targeted.

Shows like Hoarders and Intervention (and others like it), give us all a look into other people's lives, allowing us to witness their personal struggles and in some cases their resultant triumphs. As marketers, it's really important to understand how all sorts of people live their lives, and how they cope with their obstacles. And it's also important to show how our brands, like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, can help.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, September 7

Jell-O

With Labor Day behind us, it's "unofficially" the end of summer but it's still not too late to recognize a summertime favorite. If there were such a thing as a marketing hall of fame, then this brand would surely be a charter inductee.

Jell-O. Yes, believe it or not Jell-O is still around. Just saw a new tv commercial over the weekend and noticed a brand new, freshened up logo. The staple of summer is alive and well, with 158 products in its lineup and over 300 million boxes sold in the US each year.

The brand has a rich history that includes spokespeople like Jack Benny and Bill Cosby, and line extensions that include pudding and low calorie sweeteners. The stuff is pretty versatile, with all the flavors and things you can add to it. The recipes are endless. I even made up some strawberry Jell-O yesterday, just for the fun of it. I know I sound like a spokesperson myself, which I clearly am not. I'm just impressed that it has remained vital all these years.

The truth is, that in the one hundred or so year history, not that much has changed on the brand. It is what it is, and pretty much always has been. But it's still thriving -- not so bad to have an easy to make, low cost treat for the kids in this economy. Who doesn't giggle at the jiggle?

J-E-L-L-O. You gotta marvel at its longevity, now with a fresh new logo!

What's your experience? Jim

Friday, September 3

Marketing with Lisa Wexler

I was on Lisa Wexler's talk radio show last week, in an interview about branding. You may know Lisa from The Real Housewives of New York, she is Jill Zarin's sister and has been filmed quite a bit. The two of them, along with their mother, have a book out called "Secrets of a Jewish Mother."

Lisa and I had a great time on her show. She clearly knows a lot about marketing, witnessed by her quick banter and insightful point of view. To hear HER perspective on things like wrapping subway cars, emotional benefits, disruptive marketing, and even Louis Vuitton was a lot of fun.

It got me thinking -- not all marketing tactics work for all people. And truthfully they are not supposed to either. A carefully targeted marketing message in a carefully selected marketing vehicle should only "work" for those it was planned for.

So the fact that Lisa now has a negative impression of the brand that wrapped a subway car she noticed on the way to work is actually just fine. She is probably not the target but hopefully the intended target audience saw it and was motivated by it.

It was also interesting to talk about the emotional benefit of bargain hunting. Realizing that you paid significantly less for something at one store that is much more expensive elsewhere is actually a real, motivating emotional benefit. Hadn't really thought about it, yet it is part of my own shopping behavior.

Hence the emotional benefit of brands like TJMaxx and HomeGoods, and clearly not the benefit of shopping at Louis Vuitton.

That's what I love about marketing, we learn from each other, every day. Even on a radio show talking about wrapped subway cars and purses.

BTW -- I told Lisa afterwards that although I'm a boy and I'm not Jewish, I do have two kids and I am totally a Jewish mother! Thanks for everything, Lisa!

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, September 2

Fashion's Night Out

As we get ready to celebrate Labor Day weekend, we have what's become a new "holiday" in fashion circles coming up next week. Fashion's Night Out! What started out as kind of a little promotion to spark sluggish sales, has now turned into an international event of great proportions.

My colleague Kate Sklar reports in.

What's your experience, Kate? Jim.

Make room in your calendar, because VOGUE’s pet project from a couple years back is now a full-fledged fashion holiday. Truthfully, you may not have heard of Fashion’s Night Out (or FNO, as we call it) until now. But pick up the September issue of VOGUE or step out Friday night September 10th in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas (even Lisbon, Tokyo or Madrid), and you won’t be able to miss it.

Born out of the economic downturn a few years back, FNO was created to help drive consumers into stores, to foster commerce, to support struggling designers, and to support AIDS research. What once felt like a private little Manhattan block party (a glass of champagne at Vera Wang, tex mex tastings at Tory Burch) -- is now the toast of towns worldwide.

FNO has become the fashion fiesta of the year and a full on branding free for all. Indeed, clothing stores aren’t the only ones drinking from the FNO fountain. In-store and out-of-store brand activations will be bigger and more brilliant than ever. Forget simple giveaways or played-out goodie bags. Big brand players are thinking outside the swag box, and it has me twittering.

If this doesn’t get you out of the house on a Friday night, I don’t know what will. Here are eight little events that I am certainly looking forward to:

  1. Get a lift all over the city by Aveda’s fleet of pedicabs. Enjoy a sample while you ride.
  2. Tango Lessons with the faces of LancĂ´me at Bloomingdales 59th St.
  3. Karaoke contest at Kiehl's flagship 3rd Avenue store. Winners every hour. Kiehl's goodies galore.
  4. Makeup applications by Estee Lauder’s Tom Pecheux followed by photo sessions with Aerin Lauder herself. Then post the shot instantly to your Facebook page at Saks Fifth Avenue.
  5. Roxy pro-team rider and surf champion Kassia Meador will be hosting an evening at the Quicksilver/Roxy Soho where you’ll have a chance to win a free weekend at Montauk hot spot the Surf Lodge.
  6. Evan Lysacek will make an appearance at Vera Wang in Soho (since he did win gold in her design).
  7. Chanel will launch a trio of nail colors Les Khakis Polishes just for FNO, available in store.
  8. Halle Berry will be signing issues of September VOGUE at the Ralph Lauren Mansion.
Enjoy the "holiday"!

- Kate Sklar from Lippe Taylor Brand Communications

Wednesday, September 1

J.Crew & "The Romantics"

I am a big fan of J.Crew -- I "like" it and "follow" it weekly. If you know my book, you'll remember that I chronicle it as a best in class "experience effect." Here my friend Andy proves my point, with an example of how the brand continues its incredible consumer experience, and even motivates his behavior. And he's not even a J.Crew fan!

What's your experience, Andy? Jim.

In a previous blog post Jim refers to the marketing machine in full effect with Julia Roberts and "Eat Pray Love." Multiple partnerships and channels are expertly engaged so that even if the movie does not earn what the studio had hoped, it still has a great probability of spurring product sales with its partners.


This brings me to the new Fall 2010 J.Crew catalog. This Fall’s theme: "A Fall Romance" using the cast of the new film “The Romantics” as models showcasing a new line of clothing.


The layout has the extremely attractive cast looking very natural and preppy-chic in J.Crew clothing -- being playful, funky, daring, sexy and a bit seductive, all characteristics of the new clothing line. I have no doubt that the symbiosis of the brand and film will play off of each other and spur sales for both.


(note from Jim: great use of the word "symbiosis")


After all who would not want to look and feel like Josh Duhamel and Katie Holmes, in addition to the other cast members as they strike cool comfortable poses in the clothing. The only thing J.Crew might have missed on the web is that there is no J.Crew content or link on the movie website. But the reverse is true, there is a lot of cool movie and cast content on the J. Crew site, including "behind-the-scenes" at the photo shoot. Check it out here.


This is a great partnership that has the ability to drive sales in both directions. Although I’m not a huge J.Crew fan myself, the Fall catalog whet my appetite and I’m excited to visit the store soon.


(note from Jim: mission accomplished)


- Andy Levy