Monday, April 30

Cash Mob

Newtown Hardware in Bucks County, PA


Last week I conducted a Small Business Bootcamp with Vocus.  I condensed what is basically 220 pages in my new book The Experience Effect for Small Business and 16 hours of coursework in my class at NYU into a one-hour session.  Whew!

The turnout was amazing.  Record breaking for Vocus, actually.  And the questions were non-stop.  So much so that I am dedicating my blog all week to small business marketing.  I'll answer some of the questions that were left unanswered and hit other topics of interest to small business.

Vocus ran a blog post of mine on Friday if you'd like to see that, and one of the participants wrote her own blog post if you'd like to see that as well.  It was a busy week.

Today, though, I'm going to honor a small business in my little town of Newtown in Bucks County, PA.  I was walking our dog (French Bulldog named Sophie) on Saturday and happened to go by the small little neighborhood hardware store (Newtown Hardware) that has hit upon rough economic times, like many small businesses.  There's been a movement afloat to "Save Newtown Hardware" from the chain stores have been popping up all over the area.

There was a huge crowd in front of the store, something quite unusual.  Much to my delight, it turns out that it was a "cash mob."  Sort of like a flash mob, but with cash in their hands ... cash they planned on spending at this small business right then and there to give it a little boost.  A community of consumers coming together to help out a small, independent, community business.

Quite cool!  I popped in and bought light bulbs with all the cash I hand in my wallet at the moment.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

Thursday, April 26

My Two Newest Favorite Terms

If you've read my book, then you know that I'm not a big fan of  marketing buzz words.  You know the ones:  words that get used over and over, all day long, to describe marketing programs.  Like "integrated marketing" or "alignment".

The problem with buzzwords is that they lose their meaning after awhile and just become noise.  So as soon as a word hits buzzword status, I try to drop it immediately and use plain ole' English instead.  As I say in my book, "buzzwords need not apply."

Let me also say that I dislike labels just as much.  Labels are confining and stereotypical ... they box us into pre-determined definitions that may or may not apply.

But when a word is new, it's so much fun to use it, right?!  Well I have two new favorites that I just love ... mostly because they reflect what's going on in pop culture and how we all identify ourselves.

Polyethnic.  Love this word.  Very few of us are actually just one nationality, one affiliation, one ethnicity. Many of us are a melting pot unto ourselves, so it's hard to identify and label many of us by any one thing.  So I love "polyethnic" which better reflects the diverse backgrounds from which we all come from, and the way in which we should honor all of them.  Polyethnic.

My other favorite word?

Pansexual.  Not straight or gay or bisexual ... but "pansexual."  Much better reflects the spectrum of how we may or may not choose to identify ourselves along these dimensions ... and is a great way to describe a group of diverse people.  The word has no implications or judgement associated with it.  Pansexual.

If you're like me, then enjoy these new words until they jump the shark and become buzzwords, potentially losing their meaning entirely.  I'm going to count how many times I can use them both today.  But the question is when will these two become just buzzwords too?!?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

Wednesday, April 25

Super Hero Advertising

What's up with all the super heroes in our advertising these days?  I suddenly feel like every tv spot I see has some sort of a super hero theme to it.  What's driving this?

Take a look at Planters:




Or this spot from Dr. Pepper with The Avengers, a movie coming out this summer:


Or even this campaign from Electrolux featuring Kelly Ripa, the ultimate super hero mom:


There have also been advertising campaigns with super hero themes just recently coming from Walgreens and Intel as well.  Do we have an obsession with super heroes these days?  Are we just getting ready for the summer movie blockbusters since the weather has been so warm?

Or is there a more fundamental cultural aspect here?  Are our lives so crazy busy (and our need to be multi-tasking) that we feel like super heroes?  Is that our aspiration now?  While I like the thought, it's a little daunting, and I'm not sure it's sustainable?  Or is this just a creative fad we are going through?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience

Tuesday, April 24

What To Expect ...

... When You're Expecting.
What started out as the "go-to" guide for pregnant women then turned into an unexpected brand is now an entertainment property.

"What To Expect When You're Expecting" was certainly my go-to guide in the late 1980's and early 1990's.  I even wrote about this brand's value and evolution in my first book The Experience Effect, as a model brand for its consumer-centric experience.  It's a step by step guide on how to navigate the nine months of pregnancy (and beyond) and has evolved through the digital age to be even more valuable to new moms, pre and post pregnancy.  Through the years even.

For me personally, it was a career enhancer.  My first marketing job out of grad school was at Johnson's Baby Products.  I had never even held a baby before at that point in my life!  To quickly get up to speed, I spent a lot of time with pregnant women and new moms, and I read this book.  I distinctly remember reading it cover to cover on a round trip flight from Newark to Los Angeles (and getting a lot of attention from the flight attendants as a result!).

Then when my first baby was born, of course I turned back to the "guide" to help me with my own growing family.

So to say that I am a fan is an understatement.  This book really helped me get through life, and I've been admiring its growth ever sense.

But I will say that the movie surprised me.  It shouldn't really ... this isn't the first book to become a movie.  But I do think it's (one of) the first "how-to" guide to become a movie and certainly is a leap of faith in terms of brand equity. 



When I step back and think about it though, I get it.  Watching stories unfold of couples going through their pregnancies, with all the ups and downs, is a learning experience much like the book.  It's just fictional ... still every bit as educational.  We're just laughing along the way, as well we should.  Taking these things too seriously merely adds to the stress.  Identifying with others going through the same situation also adds to the enjoyment.  Much like in social media.

What's next ... "For Dummies" the movie"?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

PS - Join me this week for "Small Business Bootcamp" this Wednesday with Vocus. In one hour, we'll break down big brand theory within a small business marketing context. Register here for free if you'd like to join.

Monday, April 23

Chick-fil-A Leadercast



Why on earth would a fast food restaurant have a conference about leadership?  How could that possibly make marketing sense?

Well if you look at how the founders of Chick-fil-A have defined their brand, it makes complete sense.  And truthfully, whether you agree with the brand or not, we have to recognize the incredible consistency with which the Chick-fil-A brand sticks to its identity ... and makes business decisions, like staying closed on Sundays, in direct compliance with the brand's mission and values.

The latest activity to my eye from Chick-fil-A is the brand's Leadercast ... a live and virtual conference about "leadership" ... specifically the brand's view on leadership ... featuring some pretty big heavy weights like Soledad O'Brien and Tim Tebow.  I found out about the conference on a cup of low-calorie lemonade (great touchpoint and delicious btw) when I was there for lunch, but it's also been highly publicized in the restaurants and online.

The Leadercast is elaborately planned with a major live event in Atlanta (city of the company headquarters) as well as local events all around the country.  If you consider yourself a "leader," then you can also publicly or privately host an event in your town where you can live stream what's happening in Atlanta.  Perfectly constructed to build a network of fellow leaders who embody the brand's values and spread its key messages.

This conference is not a one-off by any means.  Aside from being an annual event, the Leadercast is one of many initiatives created by the brand to teach their values and create a network of brand advocates.  We have to acknowledge the seamless integration of online, social media, and retail marketing that all work to build a consistent brand experience.  Textbook marketing, tied directly to very specific core values as defined by the brand.

From a marketing perspective, it's pretty amazing to see the construct.  Oh, and by the way, the food's pretty good too.  Just ask the cows.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

PS - I'm conducting my own little "cast" of sorts:  Small Business Bootcamp this Wednesday with Vocus.  In one hour, we'll break down big brand theory within a small business marketing context.  Register here for free if you'd like to join.

Friday, April 20

Dick Clark



This is not the first post I've written about Dick Clark ... but I didn't want to just rest on what I've already written about this man, this icon, this legend, this brand in the past.

The passing of the man Dick Clark is clearly a huge loss to us all, and to pop culture.  This is a person who defined a time, and who's legacy includes being a perennial teenager.  He never aged.  He was always in tune with pop culture and with youth.  He was woven into the fabric of our lives, at key moments of the year and on a day to day basis.

And that's why Dick Clark is more than just a man or an icon or a legend ... he is a brand.  An enduring brand that brought richness to our lives year in and year out.  And perhaps one of the smartest things he ever did as a brand was to ensure his own longevity by passing the baton to Ryan Seacrest.  Ryan has clearly been set up to move the brand forward and to keep the legacy of Dick Clark the brand alive.  He's a perfect choice, whether you're a fan or not, and it was interesting this past New Year's Rockin' Eve to literally see Dick Clark say goodbye and turn his brand over to Ryan.  It had been transitioning for years, but this was the final hand-off.

Perfect timing?  Perhaps.  Well-thought out?  Certainly.  The sign of a valuable brand that will never die.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

Thursday, April 19

Small Business Bootcamp


In honor of my new book, next week I am conducting a "Small Business Bootcamp" webinar produced by Vocus.  In preparation for that, the oh-so-kind folks at Vocus asked me to write a post on their blog.

I happily obliged ... which is also my blog post for today.

YES!  The importance of small business in our culture and our economy.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

Tuesday, April 17

Edward Bernays



My cousin referenced Edward Bernays to me the other day, as someone to emulate in modern day marketing.  I have to tell the truth and say that I'd never heard of the man, so I did some research.  Boy was I shocked to learn about this pioneer in marketing.

Turns out that Edward Bernays is very much considered to be the father of public relations.  As I read through his rich biography, I was amazed at the parallels in our lives.  I have a new mentor!

He graduated from Cornell University (as did I), from the Agriculture School (as did I ... it's where the marketing major was housed at the time).  Much like David Ogilvy was for advertising, Edward Bernays was for public relations.  He was one of the first to see the value in influencer marketing and the third party endorsement.  He popularized what is now known as the press release.

Although he was born in Vienna, after studying in New York he eventually lived in Cambridge (to date, the favorite of all the places that I have lived myself).

He was a marketer and an author ... his book, Propaganda, was the first of its kind to talk about marketing.  It was published in 1928 - and looks to have been re-released in 2004.  I just ordered one on amazon!

His most famous campaign, which involved no advertising, was for Lucky cigarettes and was all about making it socially acceptable for women to smoke in public.  He coined the phrase "torches of freedom" to symbolize women's right to choose to smoke.  Edward Bernays also did a lot of work in CPG for P&G, most notably Ivory Soap.

Here's the kicker.  Although he didn't call it this, he was a huge believer in a consistent brand experience integrated across all the touchpoints.  He didn't use the "integrated" word or "touchpoints" for that matter, but he was all about 360 marketing and the overall experience ... ala my own book The Experience Effect.  I now have a founding father in the industry that I can look up to!

So I have to thank my cousin (who is not even directly in the industry) for connecting me with this inspirational thought leader ... and thank Edward Bernays for paving the way for what is now happening in our times.  Very cool!

What's your experience?  Jim.


Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

Monday, April 16

Nike: I Would Run To You



I'll admit it - I sing when I run.  Not all the time, and not at the gym - but when I'm out on my own, on a quiet street, I sing my heart out when I run.

So what's the message in this new advertising campaign from Nike?

Do anything for love ... even run across the country?  Maybe.

Women are stronger then men?  I don't think so.  It's not very "just do it" from the Nike brand.  I give Nike a lot of play in my book ... I'm a big fan and I think bigger of the brand then that.  The brand thinks bigger than that!  I don't think this is it.

Or is it as Nike would have it ... being physically fit means being able to sing while you run?  Ahhh, that's it. I love it - it's very happy and attainable and a real call to action.  Life is good when you can sing when you run.  I did it this morning!

Notice too, that the woman is clearly wearing Nike gear and she makes it across the country.  The guy?  It's unclear what he's wearing and he doesn't make it out of his city.  Hmmm.  Not so subtle when you really pay attention.

Perhaps with this fine little piece of advertising, Nike is attempting to launch a movement to get us to sing while we run (in Nike gear of course).  Leave it to Nike to give us an easy way to benchmark our fitness progress.  Which also magically fits in with Nike's partnership with iPod.

Now the people looking for controversy went to the "men are wimps" topic.  I really don't think that's what Nike intended.  The brand is far too inspirational for that.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

PS - This topic got me thinking of Whitney.  Such a classic.  I actually ran to this song this am.


Friday, April 13

More "Reality" In Advertising



Do we have a movement starting to take shape around the world?  Are we going to mandate more "reality" in our advertising?

Not too long ago, the UK starting banning advertisements that used excessive retouching.  Some pretty big heavy weights were called out, like pretty woman Julia Roberts for L'Oreal.  A law there prevents advertising from claiming or showing unrealistic results.

Just recently, Demi Moore was back in the retouching headlines with her campaign for Helena Rubinstein ... this just a couple years after a bit of a scandal from her W cover shot, there accused of using photoshop to look much thinner.  In these cases there was no law in force, just the court of public opinion.

Well now Israel is making it a law, enforcing strict guidelines on how thin a model can be in advertising.  In fact, a brand has to prove that the talent has a BMI over 18.5 to get into a photo shoot ... for print, tv, and runway.  Lawmakers there are aggressively trying to reverse a rise in eating disorders, particularly among their youth.  They believe that unrealistic portrayals of thinness are partially to blame.  Just like many Americans here think that unrealistic portrayals of youth and anti-aging create undue expectations about beauty.

Ashley Judd would certainly agree.  We recently went very public with her views on the "gossip" she's been receiving about how she looks in her recent movie.  Her rant about how people (especially other women) judge each others' looks is very refreshing to hear coming out of Hollywood.

Are these random one-offs, or are we seeing a movement that will start to take shape?  Not sure ... we've always been an economy of caveat emptor, but it's hard to deny the impact that advertising has on pop culture and fashion trends, including face and body image.

With social media now offering an instant message board for reactions to brand activity, I am sure that we will be hearing more people comment on it and thereby influencing purchase behavior.  Will that influence "law?"

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America

Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU

Thursday, April 12

Kraft Mac & Cheese & The Old Birds



Now this is fun ... and a great way to create a meaningful brand experience via social media.

Full disclosure here - when my kids were super young, Kraft Mac & Cheese was a staple in our house.  It got me through many a long day, I can tell you that!

In honor of its 75th Anniversary, Kraft Mac & Cheese hired two grandmothers to take over the brand's social media outlets, tweeting and posting their hearts out.  The thinking behind the choice?  They've been eating Kraft Mac & Cheese for over 75 years!  They're called "The Old Birds" and they've become quite the rage already.

Timing couldn't be better ... Betty White at age 90 just joined Twitter ... highly anticipated ever since the Facebook campaign to get her on SNL awhile back.  "Old Birds, New Tweets," as the brand states on the Twitter page.

They will only be guest posting for a few days, but watching these women tackle technology and social media is just plain awesome.  The posts are a riot ... and range from their grandchildren to other grandmothers to kids of all ages, as they say.  How refreshing to see a brand use social media in a novel way to not only celebrate a milestone, but also connect with consumers.  The notion of using consumers as guest social media spokespeople is a lot of fun.



I'm sorry but you gotta love it ... makes me smile!  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect and The Experience Effect for Small Business
Professor, NYU