Sunday, July 31

A View From My NYU Class ...

I taught the summer session of my NYU class yesterday, and once again enjoyed every minute of it.  It's so amazing to talk about marketing and to highlight great brands with a group of people who are so eager to learn and share.  I get so much out of it, and I only hope that they do too.

One of my students, Tish Dugan, weighs in on her perspective of the class and how she is now looking at brands.  What's your experience, Tish?

I am the oldest member of Jim's current semester class at NYU.  And not by a little bit.  Actually by about twenty years.  I don't feel bad though because if he weren't the professor, he would be in competition with me for that title.  Aside from the great info I am getting from the class and his book The Experience Effect, I am learning a lot about life this new decade.  I learned about Vans, Paul Smith, and Saatchi & Saatchi, to name a few.  After class last week I actually watched a Lady Gaga video.  Hmmm.

I have grown to appreciate more, the brands I cling to.  Every couple of weeks I get a catalogue from the "Vermont Country Store, Purveyors of the Practical and Hard to Find."  The minute it comes, I snatch it from the office mail pile with the things that we had in abundance twenty years ago and have disappeared somewhere along the way.  Things like Femme by Rochas (the perfume favored by Audrey Hepburn); Bonomo Turkish Taffy (which I long for now but my teeth say "No!"); and Buster Brown Socks (never got a blister wearing those).  Oh, and my latest guilty pleasure, Chiclets (Google them).

I wonder if some of today's brands will crash and burn long before my old favorites will.  Ed Hardy Shoes (now available in every Ross and Marshall's), the Palm Pilot (on its last legs), Eddie Bauer (Eddie who?), and Old Navy (really).

I do like my Blackberry and Kindle and I even have stock in Family Dollar.  So I guess there is hope for me yet in this country.

By Patricia M. Dugan (.com) -- NYU student

From Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Friday, July 29

Retouched Advertising

Retouching photography in advertising has long been a hot debate, especially in beauty campaigns.  Many brands have been built on beautifully retouched photography and many other brands have also been built on the fact that they don't retouch their beautiful women.


Well it appears that one particular brand may have crossed the line.  Admittedly retouched adverting for L'Loreal featuring (the original pretty woman) Julia Roberts and (one of the original super models) Christy Turlington was just pulled (in the UK) for allegedly going too far.  The argument is that both of these women are incredibly beautiful enough to not be retouched, and that the retouching actually exaggerates the results anyone would get from using the products.  And that the beauty industry, by the way, creates unreasonable expectations by showing unattainable beauty --- or at least that's the argument presented.

Wow, that's a lot.  Is it all true? ... Some of it I am sure.  Is that the way that marketing works? ...  In some ways I suppose.  Is it a natural by-product of the beauty industry? ... Perhaps.

Bottom line?  We should be honest.

We should show results that are attainable.  As brands we should show ourselves in our best light, certainly, but we should be honest.  Going too far is going too far and is not what marketers should do (nor do I believe it's what most marketers really want to do).  I don't think the brand managers probably even did it consciously.  It looks like a process that just got too carried away.  It's one of those "a little more, a little more, a little more" and before you know it .... It's a very slippery slope.  And a very fine balance that has to be struck.  I'm in the beauty business, and face it every single day.

But I do think it's good that it was second-guessed and then removed.  What's your experience?  Jim.

Thursday, July 28

Worst Timing Ever

Mama always told me that using celebrities in advertising was risky, and boy oh boy was she right.

File this under "Worst Timing Ever."

Kohl's, the hottest ticket in retail right now, launched a promotion featuring none other than JLo and Marc Anthony.  Ouch.  You and a best friend can win a trip to NYC to visit their favorite spots and participate in a fashion launch.  Here's the Facebook page to prove it!

The promotion is part of an upcoming launch of each of their new clothing lines at Kohl's.  Perhaps originally designed to work together, they are now two separate lines still slated to hit stores in September.

This could be the land of a thousand jokes, but the lesson learned here is that there ARE many surprises in marketing.  Many.  And when you work with third parties outside of your brand, you are taking a big risk.  Just ask anyone who has been working with Tiger Woods.  Or Michael Phelps.  Or Britney Spears.

Of course in this case, the timing couldn't be any worse.  I feel bad for the marketing folks at Kohl's.  They are working very hard and are extremely successful building an amazing shopping experience at Kohl's, one that is beating out all the others at the moment.  They didn't need this right now.  None of us marketers would need this right now.   Although I suspect that in the end they'll be just fine.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Wednesday, July 27

Great Wolf Lodge

Water parks ... they are the stuff that summers are made of, right?  Every 4th of July when I go to Williamsburg, VA with my kids, we always always go to the water park there.  It's fun family fantastic.

The Easy River, the long swirling water tubes, the great french fries .... how could the water park experience  possibly get any better?  With pictures!  With social media!


Not sure if you are familiar with Great Wolf Lodge, but the hotel has basically brought the water park experience indoors, within a hotel environment, giving us all year long water park opportunities.  Of course, it ends up looking more like a diaper pool inside a hotel lobby, but let's not go there.  The place is huge and full of fun family fantastic.

Great Wolf Lodge just added a new feature to make the experience even better.  When you enter the park, you are given a wrist band which basically functions as your park pass for your room, rides, charging, you name it.  And now pictures too!  As you pose for pictures throughout the park, your wrist band will automatically post them onto your Facebook page.  How fun family fantastic Facebook is that!

Merging the offline experience with the online sharing function.  I think that's pretty cool and fun for all ages.  A new reason to frequent?  Maybe or perhaps just another dimension to an already pretty amazing brand experience.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Tuesday, July 26

The New Old Spice Guy

Old Spice is at it again, and this time there seems to be nothing holding them back.

I think it's fair to say that Old Spice is credited for having the first truly successful, somewhat measurable, certainly rabidly contagious social media campaign with man's man Isaiah Mustafa (great name by the way) last year.  So you can imagine my sheer delight as a marketer to see a new campaign with a New Old Spice guy over the weekend.

But Fabio?  I didn't get it, at least not at first.

So I started clicking around to follow the campaign.  All the elements are there again, including television advertising, a YouTube campaign, Twitter, and Facebook.  Of course the big thing to come back is the attitude and the banter.  I also discovered a YouTube event scheduled for today (July 26) at Noon EST.  A duel between the New Old Spice Guy and the original Old Spice Guy.  It's called "Mano a Mao in el Bano".  Brilliant.

It's all so incredibly cheesy, and even more cheesy than the first time because it's not as fresh anymore.  And at first I totally questioned the choice of Fabio because he's so over exposed and certainly not a man's man.  There's a little bit of an ick factor going on here.

But then I go it.  Buzz.  The goal here is buzz and page views and video hits and posts.  And of course ultimately sales for sure.  Using Fabio is generating controversy and conversation.  It's getting people like me to write about it and hundreds of thousands of others to post and tweet.  It's re-igniting an ownable campaign that set the record books at the time, and is most likely ready to shatter them a year later.

And it's taking someone that people kind of love to love (Mustafa) and putting him up against someone that people love to well, turn their heads (Fabio) -- in a YouTube event to promote a classic CPG.  I'm tuning in!

It's using multi-media, multi-channel, integrated marketing to its current extreme -- rolling out at lightening speed.  This is thought leadership in action, and it's impressive.  Even if it's totally cheesy.  I think that's the point, Fabio and all.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Monday, July 25

Caveat Emptor

I've been in brand marketing for a long long time now, and if there's anything I hate more it's when someone tries to rip off the market leader.  Here a brand spends years building its equity, to great success, only to have another brand come along and rip it off.  For years this has been happening from private label manufacturers who literally copy the market leader to the point where the consumer can't tell the difference.  Take a walk down the drug store aisle and you'll see what I mean.  It leaves the consumer often picking up the wrong product.

But I have to say that this little ditty takes the cake.  Stores are popping up in China that completely mimic Apple stores.  The look, feel, signage ... everything completely replicates the Apple store experience to the point where consumers think they are shopping in a full-fledged Apple store.  Even some of the employees think they are working for Apple!

Yahoo! covered the story last week, and my friend Ryan Drumwright turned me on to it.

Of course when you look closely, you see the cracks in the veneer.  The stair case is not quite right, there are chips in the walls -- the quality just isn't there.  And of course the sign says:  Apple Store, which Apple would never do, the real brand just uses its icon to communicate its branding.

This smacks of all the fake designer wear that can be bought at a fraction of the price -- cheap Louis Vuitton and Gucci knock-offs -- makes me so mad.  I got taken once myself, and I know this stuff!  Looks great until you look really closely.  As I said in my book, "get your own brand!"

I get it.  It's a free market, we can do what we want in business.  Caveat emptor, right?  But as a marketer, I hate it.  Brands create a promise and a trust that consumers rely upon.  If you can't be clever with your own brand, then go do something else.  Don't deceive loyal consumers ... leave my brand alone!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Friday, July 22

A Burger To Go With That Shake

I didn't do it purposefully, but this week has turned out to be food week on my blog.  I'm just finding all sorts of food trends and food marketing to be interesting this week, and I can't help but write about it.

Today -- it's burgers.  As a nation, we are still obsessed with burgers.  Fast food burgers, gourmet burgers, and everything in between.  It's the in between that I find fascinating, as I witness fast food gourmet burger shops opening up all over the city.

There's 5 Napkin Burger, NY Burger Co, BrGr, Lucky Burger, Good Burger, 5 Guys:  the places are amazing in that the burgers are fabulous and they are fast, some say putting to shame the traditional fast food places.  I find the service to be universally good, and the burgers and fries to be top notch.  Many are pitching the organic and natural goodness to ward off any one's health issues and to differentiate themselves from the big guys.

But even the big big chains are in the game.  Both McDonald's and Burger King (and others) have launched more gourmet burgers themselves, but yesterday I saw sliders at Burger King.  They call them "minis".  Very interesting!

The best thing to go with a burger?  Fries certainly, but even better is a shake!  Just ask Shake Shack.  The other phenomenon is that all of these burger joints are vying for your shake dollar too, and actually entering competitions to be voted the best shake.  Now our calorie counts are indeed high at this point, but let's not go there.  Just enjoy.

Did you know there's a Burger Week?  We missed it this past April!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Thursday, July 21

Captain America Movie Tie Ins


I wrote a blog post back in May about the upcoming summer blockbuster movies that would be coming out.  The summer is always a great time for awesome adventure movies, and certainly there have been a string of them this year.

Coming soon is "Captain America" (Marvel comics) ... and the marketing machine has been kicking in big time.  Sure the trailer is cool to see, but what I love to watch are all the product sponsorships.  I've done a few myself in my day and they are a blast to work out.  Hasbro has a line of action figures to go with the movie release.  There are already costumes coming out, which I am sure will be a big hit at Halloween, especially if the movie does well.  There is even a bike coming out from Huffy.

The earliest (at least to my naked eye) and most pervasive has been the tie-in with Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.  Just plain 'ole American fun.  Star-shaped donuts with colorful sprinkles and ice cream with colorful swirls along with special Coffee Coolattas and super sundaes.  Nothing particularly innovative at all actually, but very engaging and worth a smile.  All with a cool microsite that features great gaming along with Facebook promotions.

This is classic consumer marketing.  Fun, engaging, perfect timing for summer.  BTW - Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins are owned by the same parent company and it's their first promotion with a motion picture.  Perhaps it will spark what has otherwise (evidently) been a somewhat lackluster season.

Will you participate?  What's your experience?  Jim

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Wednesday, July 20

Coconut Water

I mentioned sea salt in a post earlier this week as a food craze du jour ... well there's another one that's been brewing for quite some time that totally captured my attention yesterday.

Coconut water.

I should have seen it coming because a bunch of the "cool kids" I know started drinking it about two years ago or maybe even more.  I should have known it would be a trend and now here it is.

Perhaps Zico was the first, I'm not sure, but it's now the "official coconut water of professional football players."  Not sure that Gatorade would be happy about that.

Zico is not the only player, there are several.  All of them tout the natural wonders of the beverage, and the unique stories that brought their products to the market.  All of them have celebrity shots and ringing endorsements.  All of them play up a very healthy lifestyle.

O.N.E. calls itself "The Healthiest Drink in America":  now that's quite a claim! :)

What really grabbed me yesterday and hit me right between the eyes was Vita Coco. It is their tagline (claim) that really hit me hard because I have been coming on and off of drinking diet sodas.  Keep trying to kick the habit and it slips right back.

Vita Coco says it's "from a tree, not a lab" (on an outdoor billboard in New Jersey of all places).  Brilliant, motivating, strikingly true.  Of course now I see that billboard every time I turn around, that's how great marketing works.  And with a killer website to back it all up, complete with ARod, Kelly Slater, and Rihanna also choosing to "hydrate naturally"

That's it -- I'm jumping in and trying it today.  No more fabricated drinks, just the natural stuff.  Now what was it about this campaign that caused me to change?  A simple little tagline that resonated with me.  I love when good marketing can change behavior.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Tuesday, July 19

Dorm Room Shopping

My friends on Facebook won't find this to be a surprise:  I went shopping with my daughter this past weekend to outfit her dorm room.  I can't believe that just one year ago I wrote a blog post on visiting college campuses and getting sold on dorm merchandise right on the spot.  And now here it is, one year later, and I'm shopping with her to go away to college.  Yikes!

You know what?  We had fun!  She made her lists, we picked out the retail locations to visit, and we mapped out our color scheme.  Finding Twin XL sheets is no easy feat, let me tell you.  The pickings are slim, so you have to shop carefully.

The retailers are out in full force, ready to soak up that dorm room dollar.  Every major retailer in the space had prime real estate devoted to very specific merchandise for college life, competing within the inch of their lives to get more than their fair share.  Many had added on delivery convenience and special sets that all match.  It's one of the most competitive moments in retail that I have seen.

We opted to get more creative with our purchases, and didn't dominate at any one place.  We mixed and matched merchandise, colors, and retailers until we found just the right blend of purple, black, grey, bright pink, and seafoam --- to work across her closet, desk, and bed.  Sounds confusing, I know, but it all worked.  Never thought I'd write a blog post with the word seafoam in it.

What a market!  As a marketer (and a Dad), I have always been aware of the back to school promotion period -- second biggest shopping season of the year.  I know this, but I've never been observant of the dorm room market and just how big it is.  I am now -- with the receipts to prove it.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Monday, July 18

Sea Salt

I have to credit this blog post to my 18-year-old daughter Alicia, who noticed a trend while we were down in Williamsburg, VA over the 4th of July weekend.

It seems like we go through these food crazes every few years.  Low fat.  Low cholesterol.  Whole wheat.  Low sodium.  These trends tend to come and go as we peak interest and then move on.

So is that what's happening with sea salt?

Seems like every time I turn around there's another product with sea salt in it.  I guess I first noticed it in a meeting when I grabbed a bag of chips.  Kettle chips with sea salt.  Delicious.  And from that moment on, it's every where I look.  Even had a high-end dark chocolate bar the other day and it had ... sea salt.  Carmel frozen yogurt ... with sea salt.  Seems to be the magical ingredient du jour.

From what my chef friends tell me, it's really just salt and it doesn't really matter.  Salt is salt.  The texture might be different, and it may be processed differently, but it's still salt.  But sea salt sounds so much more pure and innocent and natural and friendly, doesn't it?  Doesn't feel like it has any of the bad rap that regular salt does, or sodium for that matter.  But the truth is, as far as I know ... it makes no difference.

So why is sea salt so good yet sodium is so bad?  Marketing, baby, marketing!  Just really good marketing, and evidently an equity enhancement when another brand mentions it as an ingredient.

Gotta get back to my chips.  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Thursday, July 14

Pantyhose

Back in April, I wrote a blog post about "The Big Winners From The Royal Wedding":  meaning ... I profiled the shining stars coming out of the union of Kate and William.

There's been an unexpected winner that's recently cropped up that no one could have predicted:  pantyhose!  Sales of pantyhose and stockings are skyrocketing, and it's the summer!  Legs and Leggs are on fire!

Why?  Kate!  She loves 'em!  Now it is Royal protocol to wear them but everyone predicted that she would break tradition and side with her generation's  preference for bare legs.  But no, she loves the shimmer and the smoothness that comes from sheer nude hose.

We knew, just like Diana, she'd be a style-maker and a trend setter.  But when you have the power to bring back something as mundane (and often hated) as the pantyhose, then you really are influencing pop culture!

Who knew?!  A great brand opportunity that I hope someone is taking advantage of!

What's your experience?  Jim

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Wednesday, July 13

Google+

We've all been hearing the buzz about Google+, so I just had to jump in.  To be honest, the last thing any of us really needs is another social network.  It takes a lot of time to set up, and a lot of time to keep connected.  But as a lover of marketing, I just had to check it all out.


There has been great debate whether Google+ will replace Facebook or replace blogs or even replace Twitter.  I'm not sure, but I do have to say that it feels like a merger of a lot of what's already out there.  It has a lot of elements of Facebook and Twitter, so maybe we'll all find ourselves sticking to just one platform.  I just know that we've all invested so much time on both of those platforms that it'll be hard to give them up.

Blogs are a different story in my mind.  I don't think Google+ will replace the blog -- if anything perhaps more people will start using Google's blog platform instead.  A blog is like a piece of real estate.  It's yours.  It's not public domain like a social network is.  Just my perspective.

The fascinating part is how Google+ is being launched.  Not on a mass scale at all, but all through social networking and buzz.  A short list of highly influential people were sort of "chosen" to initiate the platform and then they built it out from there.  It's kind of hard to get in right now.  I don't think that's so cool to be honest, but it's interesting to see a "brand" get built exclusively through influencers and to track how quickly it grows from there.  Especially when that "brand" is a social platform.  I'm just glad I knew one of them!

Am I glad there's Google+?  Not sure.  I love new things, and I love innovation.  There certainly are some new bells and whistles that I plan to try out over the next few weeks.  I think it's cool how you can organize your friends and followers and even group chat with them.  Gives us a way to truly communicate with special groups of our "people" in very customized kinds of ways.  There's some good functionality built in.  But at the same time, do we really need one more of these little guys?

Are you in Google+?  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of "The Experience Effect"

Tuesday, July 12

Pepsi Throwback

The cola wars are undoubtedly one of the most fascinating categories to watch in marketing - probably ever since the '80s.

Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke --- there are so many varieties that it could make your head spin.  And who could forget the classic new Coke vs. old Coke time in history!

So you can imagine the look on my face when I stuck my head in a convenience store cooler over the weekend to find "Pepsi Throwback".   Made with "real sugar" and with the vintage label from back in the day.  Turns out that Mountain Dew did the same thing with Mountain Dew Throwback!  Now we can enjoy these two soft drinks "as they were meant to be."

Brilliant.  So while we are all fighting over artificial sweeteners and flavors, in comes Pepsi with its classic.

So smart, so wonderful ... I actually even bought a bottle, full calorie load and all!  As it says on the website:  "a blast from the past!"  Now that's a retro brand experience!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Monday, July 11

Nicknames

Do you have a nickname?  Has it changed over the years?  Does it reflect your "brand"?

I had a really interesting conversation last week with my friend Sharon at work.  We were talking about nicknames and how they often change through the years -- and how they could be indicative of how your "brand" changes through the years as well.

I myself have had a ton of nicknames through the years.  Now I am known as "Jim" - certainly not James.

But when I was a kid, I was clearly "Jimmy."  And my childhood friends still call me that, as odd as it sounds to my friends who only know me as an adult.

Then in high school, it was "Jimmy Joe" - sounds so throw back now.

In college, "JJ" -- especially in the fraternity.  Such a fraternity name.  A few even called me "Jimbo" - I think it was Biff that started that nickname for me.  Seriously.

Then in grad school and in all my jobs since, I've been known as Jim.  I do have a few people that call me James, and although it doesn't fit my "brand", for some reason it works coming from certain folks.  I even like it coming from them but from no one else!

It's an interesting perspective to see how your nicknames may have changed through the years, and how they reflect that moment in your life and who you were.  The fun part too, is that when I talk to people and they use the nickname that they know me by, it instantly brings me back to that part of my life.  "JJ" instantly take me back to my time on the hill at Cornell.

Tracking our nicknames is like walking through the evolution of our life, and of our "brand".

What are your nicknames?  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect