Wednesday, February 29

2012 Oscars Hidden Gems

It's been an incredible season for marketing as we've gone from pop culture event to event. This is the stuff that marketers dream of.

I've already commented on the underlying theme of the advertising from the Academy Awards and I've already picked a "Best in Show." What could possibly be left unsaid?

There were actually a lot of "Hidden Gems" in the marketing during The Oscars that bear uncovering. Little nuggets of marketing that we can learn from.

Like Grey Goose. The moment of the night was when two "Bridesmaids" took shots from mini-bottles of Grey Goose ... it was the product placement of the decade, actually. Paid? No. Coincidence? No. Grey Goose sponsored a number of the pre-Oscar parties and gave away a bunch of bottles. They happened into the hands of two stars who wanted to create an Oscar moment. Marketing WOW. Did anyone notice? Damn straight. Proving once again that there's no coincidence in great marketing and you don't have to spend big money for big impact.

Octavia. OCTAVIA! We barely knew this woman coming into the year, and here she is forming her brand. The acceptance speech of the night ... always fun to see composed people break down from sheer sheer joy.

Bisquick. Oddest moment of the Oscars occurred on the Red Carpet (TM) when Sasha Baron Cohen, in character from an upcoming movie, spilled ashes onto Ryan Seacrest. A moment of rudeness for some, a moment of "get over yourself" for others. Either way, it was Ryan's repeated reference to Bisquick that made it one for the record books.

Oprah. Struggling with her network like no body's business. Her post Oscars appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live was hysterical as Jimmy presented show concept after show concept for her network that just wasn't "on brand."  Loved hearing Oprah say, "it's not on brand!"

Most hidden hidden gem?

No, it wasn't Angelina's slit. Notice the careful spelling. That was so forced, let's leave it at that. It's the guy from The Artist ... Jean Dujardin. So charming, so handsome, so debonair. A brand is launched, and like most good marketing ... I want more more more.

What's your experience? Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Cohn & Wolfe, North America
Author of The Experience Effect series
Professor at NYU

Tuesday, February 28

Oscars 2012 Best in Show

We just finished awards season with the close of The Academy Awards, and we once again had a blast commenting on all the marketing during our live Twitter party at #OscarExp. I have to say that the advertising was the best of the season, in my opinion, as we witnessed the return of the consumer insight. Great advertising, scratch that, great marketing is built on a true and deep consumer insight about how people live, eat, breath, behave, worry, and feel -- marketers who can uncover that and make an emotional connection with their brand will score.

Much of the advertising during The SuperBowl, for example, felt like advertising for advertising sake. Entertaining in some cases, great productions in many, but not a lot of insight. Not a lot that moved me, or anyone for that matter. Not the case the other night at The Oscars, at least from my couch.  Although not all of it was new executions, the ones that were new for me resonated quite well.

Take for example the Johnson's Baby spot - "You're doing ok, Mom." The best I've seen of capturing the emotions of new parents as they worry that they're doing what's right for their baby.  Babies don't really give feedback so it can be scary and worrisome for a new parent.  If only the baby could say that all is all right.

Google+. While the platform itself hasn't shown its true value in practice yet, the advertising certainly did. Finally, a brand that depicts a Dad as a caring caregiver engaged in the life of his new baby. No fumbling, bumbling, dumb Dad in this spot -- yet still very much real at the same time. One of many executions that show how we are living our lives these days, and how Google+ adds value. Just what a brand should do.

But what was "Best in Show?" -- no easy decision.  Originally I was going to give it to Meryl Streep.  She showed her brand in true colors not only in her mind-blowing performance as Margaret Thatcher, but also in her graceful and self-depricating acceptance speech.  If good marketing is all about making good decisions, than Meryl Streep is an amazing brand.

But for "Best in Show" I have to give that to JCPenney, hands down. The brand owned the night.  Sure, Ellen was entertaining ... she was Ellen. And yes the productions were clever and nicely tied to the Hollywood theme of the event, which is always good when you can tailor your message to tightly fit with a touchpoint. But I am giving JCPenney "Best in Show" because they not only owned the night, but the brand is taking full ownership, consistently, of their new business model ... Everyday Low Prices.  Putting their money where their mouth is across the entire brand experience.

The "Fair and Square" campaign is brilliantly crafted to show how JCPenney is turning retail on its side, smashing most conventions of what other retailers are doing like flashy promotions, heavy couponing, "trend" merchandise that sells out in a day, and not-so-easy customer service. The campaign brings it all to life, one benefit at a time per execution. Easy to understand and very motivating.  Fair and Square.  A bold move, and a brave move, that will only work if done consistently at every turn.  Well done, JCP.

That's the way to own who you are, and that's the way to own an awards show sponsorship.

What's your experience? Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, North American of Cohn & Wolfe
Author of "The Experience Effect" series
Professor at NYU

Monday, February 27

The Oscars 2012 In Review

My Favorite Moment
I hosted another #Exp Twitter party last night during The Academy Awards ... there were a bunch of us crazy fools commenting on all the marketing ... and of course the movies, celebrities, and fashion (we couldn't help ourselves).  I have to say that the production was pretty standard fare, although tweeting along side viewing made the night fly by.  It was great to have Billy back, even though my 17 year old son didn't know who he was :(

A special thanks to all my peeps who participated in the Twitter party at #OscarExp.  Let's do it again!

As far as the advertising, I noticed an interesting trend ... one that I had not noticed during the other big pop culture moments this year at The SuperBowl, Golden Globes, or The Grammy Awards.  The economy, our stressful lives, and the current state of affairs in politics has had definite influence on insight gathering and copy writing!

Take a look at JCPenney:  the retailer just switched its business model to Everyday Low Prices and the brand's multiple executions last night as a premier sponsor talked about being "fair and square."  American Express, another big sponsor, asked us to make every Saturday "Small Business Saturday" to support small business and boost the economy.  During the Red Carpet (a brand unto itself) we saw yet another Chrysler "Imported From Detroit" execution where we were inspired by the words, "It's what you do when no one is looking that defines you."  Wow.

The stress of being a Mom was celebrated and supported in a new Johnson's Baby spot ("You're Doing OK, Mom"), and even Dad finally got a little recognition of what he goes through in a Google+ execution of its current campaign.

We could even throw in the Diet Coke spot that celebrates the unsung, behind the scenes heroes of Hollywood as a nod to how hard we all work these days, often without getting our just reward.

I like the overall theme, I really do.  It's a bit more insightful than some of the work we've seen during the other shows this year, and I believe it has the chance to resonate and motivate consumers a bit better.  I find it all touching.

Best in Show?  Still thinking ... going to save that for tomorrow's post.  But I will say that if I were the brand managers of either Grey Goose or Bisquick, I'd be doing some thanking this morning for some very well placed product mentions.

What's your experience?  Jim

Jim Joseph
President of Cohn & Wolfe
Author of The Experience Effect series
Professor at NYU

BY THE WAY ...... Here are the winners from last night's #OscarExp!  Congrats!

Movie Passes from Regal and AMC Cinemas:
- @critiques4geeks:  first brand mention
- @mr_mcfly:  first social media mention
- @MilliganEvents:  first mention of a nominated film
- @RonCorning:  first mention of Meryl Streep
- @KristinMachina:  first mention of the length of the show
- @iammrsid:  answered the question "what does JC stand for in JCPenney?"
- @amyvernon:  most retweeted
- @ABHuret:  funniest tweets
- @Phillyadman:  most active tweeter
- @CrystalRobbie:  most active retweeter

Boxed Set of Choice (random drawing):
- @iammrsid

Friday, February 24

Winter Brands

I grew up in Upstate New York, the real Upstate where the Winters are long and cold and snowy.  We used to go skiing at least twice a week, sometimes more.  And although we longed for Spring, I have to admit that I grew up liking the Winter.

So when we have a Winter like this one, there certainly is a part of me that is happy to leave my boots, gloves, and hats at home but there is another part of me that really misses the snow.  One of my New Year's Resolutions was to start skiing again, but that has not materialized.

To tell you the truth, I hadn't really thought about Winter's effect on brands until I read this article in AdAge this week.  I've worked in the cough/cold/flu category for years, so I am totally familiar with how weather plays into sales of those remedies, and this has been a tough year on sales.  Good for families, tough for brand managers.  I'll take it.  Having worked on Campbell's Soup for a bit, I do know what the forecast of an impending blizzard can do for canned soup sales!  Not to mention ski resorts - those brands are suffering during a winter like this.

Last year was particularly cold, rainy, and snowy and I was completely obsessed with Hunter boots.  Even wrote a blog post about it!

So clearly this current Winter weather affects boots, scarves, shovels, hot cocoa, space heaters, and all the other products that we associate with bad Winter weather.  But I had not realized the reverse effect, though:  the huge up turn in sales of warmer Winter products like light jackets, outdoor running gear (!), charcoal grills, gardening supplies -- the brands in these categories are experiencing far higher than normal sales as people are able to spend more time outside than typically happens in January and February.  Interesting.  Fake snow sales are up +30% (reminds me of that scene from Modern Family!).

Makes doing brand plans in categories like these as much about the Farmer's Almanac as it is about clever strategy.  So as I get ready to walk to work with only a sports coat and light scarf after a nice little run around the neighborhood .... let's hear it for Spring.  Maybe next year I can go skiing :)

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, North America of Cohn & Wolfe
Author of The Experience Effect series
Professor at NYU

PS - Join us for live tweets during The Academy Awards (about the marketing of course).  Follow #OscarExp on Twitter starting Sunday night at 6:00pm EST.  We'll have fun!

Thursday, February 23

The Pinterest Interest

It's not like I need another social media platform to keep me busy.  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (the big 3 as they say) keep me quite connected.  Sure I've dabbled in Google+ and even Quora, but haven't found the value quite yet.  I'm not big into posting pictures, so those picture-perfect platforms have not caught my attention.

Enter Pinterest.

I have to say that I've resisted the temptation to jump onto Pinterest, mostly because I figured it was going to be another "thing" that the early adopters gravitate toward but then it never really catches on with the masses.  But with all the hype and the huge uptake, I finally thought I'd give it a try. I wanted to know - what's the Pinterest interest?

It's fun!  Really fun ... and easy to use since it fits right in nicely with regular "surfing" behavior on the web (did I just date myself by saying that?).  I've only been on it for 24 hours, but I've already "pinned" a pair of cuff links from my favorite brand Paul Smith and a recipe for "envelope" wontons from Family Foodie that I'm going to make for The Academy Awards Twitter party I'm hosting (live in my house and on Twitter at #OscarExp).

But something funny struck me as I was doing my very first pin.  This is perhaps the FIRST social media platform that is absolutely undeniably perfect for brands.  It's like it was meant for brands ... it is so brand behavior-based that it's not even funny. There is an inherent linkage to the brands we love - and perhaps now an even easier way to incorporate them into our lives.

A few "early adopters" have figured it out.  Like Gap who has created their own proprietary boards.  Or Chobani yogurt who has crafted easy-to-pin recipes.  Always good to be first.

So while brands at first struggled with how to use Facebook and Twitter, and in many ways are still shut out of places like Google+, along comes a site that is tailor made for marketing.

The question isn't how to get there, it's how quickly can you get there!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, North America at Cohn & Wolfe
Author of The Experience Effect Series
Professor at NYU

Wednesday, February 22

Doritos at Taco Bell

At first glance, the title of this post may throw you off ... it certainly threw me off when I read about it yesterday.

In what some say is a somewhat desperate attempt to capture some of the success of McDonald's as of late, Taco Bell announced an interesting alliance with snack food Doritos.  A new taco with a Doritos taco shell.  So you get the goodness of the Taco Bell taco fillings with the goodness of a Doritos-tasting shell.

Interesting ... and part of a year-long celebration of its 50th year.  50!

Now both brands are owned by parent PepsiCo, so the match was relatively easy to negotiate.  From a marketing perspective, it's pretty smart to leverage the equity of a beloved brand (Doritos) onto another one that needs a little help (Taco Bell).  From a taste perspective, if you are a fan of Doritos then I guess you would think it's amazing.  Which could make the partnership so smart -- if Doritos fans who have never been to Taco Bell start to frequent.  Score!

It's a nice dance around the "where's the beef" scandal from last year, but I'm not sure it fits well with the fast food wars to get healthy.  But flavor is flavor, and we know that's why consumers go to these places.

The company says it has no plans to sell Doritos taco shells in store, but I'm not sure I believe it.  Why not continue the partnership onto Doritos territory as well?

Yo Quiero Taco Bell ... What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, North America at Cohn & Wolfe
Author of The Experience Effect series
Professor at NYU

PS - Join us for live tweets during The Academy Awards, Sunday 2/26 at 6:00pm on Twitter at #OscarExp - betcha there will be some Doritos advertising!